Tag Archives: serviced apartment

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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Halimun House

Friendly expat guesthouse in a classic Batavia-style neighborhood adjacent to the Jakarta business district

Interview: Nanny Tini of Jakarta Household Staff

I found this blog with photos of Indonesian maids, nannies and other domestic staff via the Living in Indonesia Forum. I was intrigued.

If you read the Forum you get the impression that supply of household staff can’t keep up with demand here in Jakarta. But at Jakarta Household Staff you’ll find photos and CV information for dozens of people ready to work, including drivers, house boys, etc.

Jakarta Household Staff

So I sent an “info please” E-mail to the person in charge — her name is Tini and she also goes by Nanny Tini. A few weeks later I had a chance to meet her at a “harvest season” dinner sponsored last week by one of the Jakarta expat organizations.

It would be a good networking opportunity for her to meet expats who employ domestic staff. As it turned out, she already knew some of them. Sitting next to us, was a nanny whose current employment arrangement was the fruit of Tini’s blog.

Tini — in her 30’s — grew up working in the rice fields of Central Java.  But her dream was to learn foreign languages and travel.  Becoming a nanny allowed her to do this. Successful in a demanding career, she now devotes her free time to helping other Indonesian domestic workers, many older that she.

Here are notes from our very enjoyable chat over turkey and mashed potatoes last week:

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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.

Jakarta’s beautiful girl weather — La Nina’s calm before the storm

In like lion, out like a lamb. That’s what they say about the month of March — back home.

La Nina in Indonesia Weather

Here in Menteng, the angle of the sun, kamikaze flower petals and the soothing sounds of mourning doves and falling water contribute to the illusion that this part of  Central Jakarta is actually a sleepy suburb.

People who work on the street are napping in the pre-rush hour rays. Tomorrow’s forecast for Jakarta is “passing clouds” and “more sun than clouds.”  The Jakarta weather right now is 26 degrees and totally beautiful, perhaps the prettiest day of the year since March.

It’s also officially the strangest weather since I parachuted into Indo as an instant expat 12 years ago. According to Soeroso Hadiyanto at the official Indo climate control body (BMKG), this year resembles 1998, except that it’s more extreme.

Much more extreme. In that regard, he says he’s not really sure what to compare it with. BMKG has said that all of Indonesia is on a weather warning for extremely extreme weather about Christmas and New Years. So watch out just about the time 2011 hits the floor and 2010 heads for the door. Because La Nina’s back in Jak and for sure she’ll bring a bit of hippy-twist to the geo-choreography of  things.

And if you’re planning a New Year’s Eve party in Bali, keep in mind that the beach areas around Kuta/Legian/Seminyak are in a habit of getting pretty hammered themselves about that same time each year. Just in case, there are more pics of La Niña from the Royal Netherlands Meterological Institute.

High rise fitness in Jakarta — gyms, gems, gyps

Month to month sucks. If you share a house you can go almost a year without paying bills. But what about the gym/fitness?

This is a classic hassle. In some countries you need five credit cards and a law degree to use free weights. Indo’s not there yet in terms of hassle, though you may find the monthlies steep.

However, unless you’re a golfer or religiously get out of town every weekend, you need a gym in Jakarta. The instant expat thing is fine. But IMO survival, revival and thrival in Jak depends on getting out regularly — in some way, shape or form. It’s so easy. There easily two dozen full sets of exercise equipment within easy walking distance, most of which offer new equipment, exotic scenery and yoga classes. 

Jakarta Fitness Centers Compete for Corner Office

  • Apartment fitness/gym – Pretty good idea (pictures). But where are the options for people who don’t want to live in an apartment? One is to use the facilities at your friend or boss’ apartment. You can even ask us.
  • Jakarta hotel fitness/gym – This works and here you can visualize it. Jakarta has tons of posh fitness centers (pool, sauna, steam, jacuzzi the works) and many offer semi-affordable pay-per use or monthly rates. Gran Melia used to offer non-weekend options. Mandarin and Nikko are popular. Hyatt has a great pool.
  • Jakarta fitness center chains – Ask first: Monthly membership? (assume 3 month min. but they routinely throw in an extra month)? Annual membership? (at least 13 months) Plus, how many fitness centers will I have access to? Fitness in Bali? Fitness in Singapore?

Cheapest fitness chain is Gold’s Gym. This McD approach may put independents out of business. Blogged prices at Gold’s (monthly plan) are around Rp 400,000 /month. And that’s exactly what they offered me the other day (access to two centers). Some people pay about the same even for the annual plan. However, for a “Gold’s Express” (small) gym or at a just-opened location using the right credit card (HBSC) / right package you’re closer to Rp 200,000/month for annual plan or Rp 335,000/month for monthly plan.

How does Gold’s Gym suck? In my experience at no less than four Jakarta locations (many of them no longer there), it adds up to an ass-pain chasing the fast-talkingsales reps and complex discount rates around town. On the other hand, as Tavina at Female Daily Indonesian-English blog suggests, you don’t want to be locked into anything:

For sure you can pay less if you go for a a full year. But, hey, I could lose interest anytime : )  . . . why risk it

Anyway, I highly recommend Andi (0852 6300 0556) at Fitness First (FF) in Central Jakarta.  I met him yesterday at the Grand Indonesia location, 10 minutes from the Sharehouse. It was just a complete relief to cut through the package-my-ass mumbo jumbo to the monthly plan price – Rp 500,000/month. Very different feeling from Gold’s. Facilities are also better in this case.

And that leaves only Celebrity Fitness (AKA CelFit), plus or minus, uh, the celebrity appeal which seems to appeal mostly to Indonesians. Maybe it’s a few extra bucks a month more than FF, even if you bargain hard. Any club costs more if you don’t take a good hour or more to bargain ’em down (not including driving time because you need to do it in person).

So in a city where the gym is the main way that foreigners unwind, the Celebrity Fitness and Fitness First chains cost about 40 Euros per month while Gold’s Gym is closer to 32 Euros per month.

Instant Expat -- Get in Get out

As always, you gotta read the fine print. Tavina raises one pertinent question as regards the month-to-month fitness lifestyle:

My sis has a Celfit (Celebrity Fitness) monthly plan and she pays with her debit (not credit). There’s an upfront and then it’s monthly. GG (Gold’s Gym) wouldn’t do that for me . . . so who knows what happens when my special promo months run out.

By the way, most Jak locals get massages, not gym passes. It doesn’t occur to them to pay a one-month salary to gather for a moment of communal, high-rise perspiration. Which means that Indonesian health clubs are totally Western and exotic, an escape from escape. You’ll meet unusually toned, health-conscious Indonesians and also a lot of bule types (like me) who don’t go to the gym back home. Your Jak exercise solution should add a bit of cool, clean, scenic, orderly and convenient color to your Jakarta day.

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.