Tag Archives: roomate Jakarta

Wake up, it’s night in Jakarta

Night time is basically the right time in Jakarta — because it’s cooler, quieter and less congested. You can get a lot of stuff done at night. A night watchman can help set the tone.

Yes, we have vacancy.

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Get meds in Jakarta 24/7 — pharmacy user’s guide

Viruses and their friends are happening all around us. Give them some credit for that, then ruthlessly purge.

Time is of the essence, friend. So here’s a top-9 list for longer life and better performance in the heart of Jakarta:

1. Consult an Indonesian pharmacist and then Google after prescription/ before purchase. It’s OK to ask pharmacist to break down Rx estimate per-item price. If you know the generic name, maybe you’ll get it. (Generics are new here and and pharmacies use that against you.)

2. Instead of buying everything the doc orders from him or her directly, try paying Rp 100,000 to 200,000 for the office visit and take then take the Rx to the pharmacy for further evaluation

3. Buy what you need, consume what you buy. In Indonesia, you don’t have to fill whole entire scrip — not even close

4. Call the pharmacy/apotik ahead of time. Pick a shopping area (of Jakarta) that has lots of pharmacies, like the Salemba medical complex near the University of Indonesia medical faculty. Note that Bali has very few hospitals and thus poor selection of meds.

5. Go to the pharmacy/apotek after midnight so you can get fixed up pelan-pelan (in an unhurried manner). Or, train the maid/ driver to fill prescriptions

6. Here’s is a list of 24 hour Jakarta pharmacies. In addition, almost any big hospital sells drugs 24 hours.

7. Here’s OK info about obtaining medications in Indonesia from http://www.expat.or.id

8.  Don’t overuse or under use antibiotics

9. Century delivers, Melawai has good service, Guardian doesn’t always ask for a prescription, Titimurni has the best selection (for Central Jakarta) and newcomer K-24 seems to be pretty good, too.  

Silver Jews & Expat Blues

Bob Dylan wrote:

Well, I try my best.

To be just like I am.

But everybody wants you.

To be just like them.

No sooner does the expat successfully exit society and leave home, than she finds herself, like a pledge at rush, confronting an endless array of social membership possibilities tailor-made for people who don’t quite fit in yet. There’s nothing that better defines you as a (former) group member than leaving the group.

Like Dylan, a lot of David Berman’s (ie, Silver Jews) songs involve specific places somewhere in the South — but often you have to guess where.  Here’s an example — “Blue Arrangements”  from the CD American Water:

I see you gracefully swimming with the country club women
in the Greenwood southside society pool.
I love your amethyst eyes and your protestant thighs
you’re a shimmering socialite jewel.

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Smile for the Indonesian women & men police

Just remember this one — instant expat — you always gotta smile for the cops.

On the way to the gym yesterday I got in a hurry and forgot my wallet. Afterward, I got sucked into a nasty traffic vortex and popped out again in the wrong traffic lane.  As usual, the cops took it very “personally.”

After the first round of threats (haul me in, impound the vehicle) you naturally feel a little stressed. But here’s what I did right: just as it began to dawn on me that I was a sweaty, undocumented bule riding a bike with Jogya plates down the car lane, the sun-damaged skin that sheathes my elongated upper fangs retracted for a split second. And bingo — I was back in the mix.

So just pretend that every cop you see looks like the examples here. And forget those feckless surveys each year in the Jakarta Post — to the effect that Indonesian law enforcement is misguided and insensitive. All those corrupt surveys are actually sponsored for by the military, the Islamic groups, the parliament, civil society organizations, anarchists  — who knows. But they’re really sick, biased cop haters.

Sharehouse Jakarta

Indonesians divide teachers and cops into two flavors -- smiling and not.

Bright & Spiffy

Hope you get stopped by a (friendly) cop!

Polisi Indonesia

Indonesian police women are appreciated for their people skills

Polisi Senyum

Great police work

Polisi Indonesia Cewek

Small Indonesian woman on large Indonesian police motorcycle.

Indonesian Police Woman

Would you give her your (real) number?

Very Bright Future

Would she give you her number?

Cewek Polisi Mantap

Looks deceive?

Hot Cop

Arresting Indonesian peace officer

Polisi Cewek Indonesia

Another candid photo of a friendly Indonesian police officer

Cop for a Day

Nadine, former Puteri Indonesia, models the short skirt and tight blouse worn by female police officers in Indonesia

Meanwhile, with more and more Indonesian women joining the work force daily as police officers in Indonesia , the picture couldn’t be rosier.

Let’s be frank. The best thing about Indonesia — as far as guys are concerned — is the Indonesian women. No matter how bad you screw things up, there’s almost always a women who can — and does — walk in and fix it. Almost instantly. No guy ever could, would or will.

Just remember 1) people matter more than rules here 2) you mustn’t forget to smile. No matter how innocent you are, it’s critically important to tell *all* cops and authority figures you’re really sorry for ruining their greatest FB shot ever or whatever they were doing when you washed onto the scene and wrecked their day.

Pak  . . .


. . . You’re free to go.

How to Hang in the Teng — Menteng and therabouts

Share a house in Menteng












In addition to this list of malls and shopping centers near Menteng/Guntur/Kuningan, I would certainly add Ambgassador Mall and City Walk and — as a last resort or just for fun — Senen Atrium and Sarina Thambrin. Because these are key pieces of the gotta-by-stuff puzzle here on the border between Central and South Jakarta.

Menteng was “Indonesia’s first garden city.” So at the top of the list of outdoor hangouts include the Dutch colonial parks — Taman Suropati, Taman Lembang and Taman Menteng.  Lembang has a large tranquil pond but is closed at night. The others seem to rock 24/7. Here’s a Menteng walking tour (that needs to be translated and verified) and a picture of me at the park.

In Cikini/Raden Saleh area you’ve got TIM Arts Center, once a Dutch zoo and “pleasure grounds” where you could catch a polka most Sundays at 7:00. TIM has movies, artsy stuff and cafes so chill you’ll need a sweater. A lot of big and small countries still have embassies located in Menteng, which tons of cultural centers (Indian,  German forget the others), which means foreign films. Also museums and antiques in Menteng, some in private collections. Some of the antiques on Jl. Surabaya have the unique advantage of also being relatively inexpensive and brand new ; )  Good place for a photo of you posing with a seemingly ancient Javaense dagger (kris).

Restos include Lara Djonggrang — that seems like it’s one of a kind, even though it’s actually a popular restaurant theme.  And then there’s other stuff — like Barack  Obama’s grade school on Jl. Besuki near Taman Suropati — which really is.

I also wouldn’t discourage anyone from having a hot beer and a popped eardrum at the warm, intimate speakeasies at Pasar Manggis.  But you’ll need a small penlight to keep up with the roach scene, since it’s dark .  There’s something inexplicable about the Manggis scene — and some of the others street-type scenes nearby, including the electrified but unlit hobo raves out on the tracks next to Latuharhari.

Until 1934 this far edge of  the ‘Teng was where Dutch civilization (such that it was ; ) ended — or was swallowed up by the kampung. The Dutch cavalry once parked here and now the lady-boys do. Up and down the Bandjir Kanaal you’ve got legal and illegal honky tonks, including Blora. Maybe it historically acted as some type of buffer zone, protecting the decadent from themselves. There are countless other thangs in the Teng, a place which — in all laissez faireness — ought to remind anyone of Mos-Eisley Cantina from Star Wars.

Just north of Menteng there are tons of popular restos and cafes in Wahid Hashim/Sabang/Jaksa area. Many offer late hours and radical racial, ethnic and religious diversity. Ya Udah Bistro offers all that plus all-you-eat German food and great prices.

Book Review: Leonard Lueras’ Jakarta Book

Living in Jakarta

Packed with color photos and a few essays Jakarta, Jayakarta, Batavia [2008, pp. 288] is more compact, contemporary and quirky than a traditional coffee table book. It’s like a cross between a big fat Nat Geo article and a juicy ‘blog.

It is the work of a band of scholars, writers, and artists, among them a microlight photographer, a go-go dancer-turned designer, and a Jesuit priest. Led by gypsy book wizard and author of Surfing Indonesia, Leonard Lueras, they’ve come from elsewhere and everywhere with peculiar dreams and visions.

Stylish but easy-going, Jakarta is highly imaginative, like Yogya on My Mind and Ubud is a Mood, other books in the series. Lueras would rather show than tell and the text merely illustrates the artwork.

According to one contributor, “the history of expatriates in Jakarta spans … a period of nearly five centuries [and] is an immense and chaotic collection of colorful tales and astonishing anecdotes.” In that case, Jakarta, Jayakarta, Batavia is a microcosm.

(A personal but sad note: Pak Ahmad Fahmy’s chapter on the enduring legacy of the Tanamur disco had not been completed by his untimely death in 2008. His friend Jeremy Allan gracefully closed the door on that chapter.)

If you’ve been there, you know Jakarta looks shabby, but only for a while—and then it brightens up fast. The metropolis is strange, not ugly; and never boring. In his Life in the Dome essay Simon Pitchforth wonders whether the urban planners who managed to get Kuala Lumpur and Singapore off the ground took “magic mushrooms at some intergovernmental management seminar during the 60’s” before coming over to lay out Jakarta. The traffic is magic alright. Walking would be faster than driving, except for the cars. And the colors are wild—“wisma blue,” “Bajaj orange” — and pink for apartment buildings, of course.

Jakarta’s gnarly place names come from fruit and flowers. But judging from the photos in this book (hundreds of them, nicely reproduced), architecture, art and advertising are what drive Jak city’s unique looks today.

In addition to Canadian surrealist Ken Pattern’s intricate and inspired stone lithographs, I like best Jez O’Hare’s shimmering aerials and Lueras’ portraits of Jakartans from all walks of life just doing what they do.


Jakarta is supposed to be age-old. So why are all the cars new? Father Adolph

Heuken’s elegant, warp-speed tour of Jakarta-the-first’s 40,000 years provides the visually missing link between present and ancient past.

It is illustrated with photos of artifacts and documents that I found stunning: a massive stone inscribed with mystical Hindu runes by 5th century canal-digger priests, and a legible 1522 treaty between princes of Java and Portugal. In a few pages, Heuken tells the mind-bending story of all the empires, kingdoms and religions that have at some point pitched up at the port of Sunda Kelapa .

Bruce Carpenter’s Batavia, Batavia article is a chiaroscuro portrait of “naïve or dogmatic migrants” seduced by a “steamy, exotic eastern environment.” Even those who usually skip the history channel will be taken in by the 19th century Woodbury & Page photography the Dutch with their native servants, soldiers and entertainers.

And Carpenter’s story has a moral: Jakarta keras (Jakarta’s tough.) With supplies of “irrational bureaucracy, inflated egos, moral temptations, and culture chasms” holding up well over the centuries, expat life still is. Moreover, argues Carpenter, while society is still very much top-down, due to a “sobering karmic reversal in roles,” whitey’s no longer on top.

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