Friday, January 14, 2011

Jakarta trip

I arrived minutes past midnight of Sunday (or very early morning of Monday) in Jakarta for a business trip. I have never been to this city before, although I've been to Bandung, another city in Indonesia which is approximately 3 hours away by land from here for a company off-site last year. Because of the arrival time of the only premium airline (not budget) direct service to Jakarta from Manila, I booked for an executive taxi (Silver Bird) via the hotel to avoid confusion and hassle, charged to my room, for the less than 30 minutes travel from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport to the hotel.
I stayed in JW Marriott Jakarta for this trip. I booked for a 1 King Bed Deluxe Room (USD177/night, company rate) but was upgraded last minute to a 1 King Bed Executive Room due to my Gold Elite status in Marriott Rewards. The room provided is a spacious 42sqm with luscious beddings and luxury amenities. As it was already very late, I easily snoozed off minutes after I arrived at the hotel.
But it was just a few hours of sleep as I have to wake up early that Monday morning. I have pre-arranged for a tour with Gray Line via the hotel for a Kampoeng, The Old Batavia Tour (USD30 or IDR300000 to be paid directly to the tour guide). As it was a Monday, a few of the included itinerary stops were closed like the National Museum and Fatahillah Museum. First order of the day was to visit the National Monument (Monas or Monumen Nasional) in lieu of the National Museum. The said monument is actually a 433ft tower in the middle of Merdeka Square opened in 1975, with a gold flame on the top.

at the grounds of the National Monument
passage to the monument

the base of the monument
murals and reliefs, depicting the history of Indonesia
a closer look on the reliefs
stairs leading up to the base and ultimately, entrance of Monas

the base of Monas and the entrance to the tower
Monas, as pictured from its base

measurements of the tower

map of Indonesia at the Hall of Independence

seal bearing the national motto of Indonesia "Bhinneka Tunggal Ika" or Unity in Diversity

Below the tower is the National History Museum (Museum Sejarah Nasional). There, a total of 51 dioramas are on display depicting the history of Indonesia.
There is an observation deck on top of the tower. For a ticket price of IDR75000 (not included in the tour), I was able to access the said deck with view of the city and surrounding area.
observation deck, 115m above ground level

view from the tower

Istiqlal Mosque, also known as Masjid Istiqlal (Independence Mosque), the largest mosque in Southeast Asia, with Jakarta Cathedral nearby

Jakarta Cathedral (Gereja Katedral Jakarta) or Gereja Santa Maria Pelindung Diangkat Ke Surga (The Church of Our Lady of Assumption)
other views from above 

statues in shaped of rafflesia, huge flowers common in Southeast Asia.

After the visit, we passed by Mahabharata monument (Arjuna Wirjaya chariot).

Next, we stopped for awhile in Jalan Surabaya Antique Market in Menteng as Fatahillah Museum is closed. It is a known flea market of antiques and collectors items, specially among tourists.

Afterwards, we went to Petak Sembilan (Chinatown) to visit a Vihara Dharma Bhakti, the oldest Buddhist temple in the city.

We also walked for a few minutes, passing by a market, to where our van was parked.
Then we proceeded to Fatallihah Square, located in Old Town (Kota), where we had an hour and half for lunch and to explore around the area. A number of prominent buildings stands nearby and the place is an insightful area to walk around.

Pos Indonesia (postal office)

Jakarta History Musem (Museum Sejarah Jakarta)
bicycles (and hats) for rent

at Fatahillah Square
Café Batavia, located in a building dating back to 1805 
inside Café Batavia
For lunch however, I just had some food at the convenience store beside Café Batavia (Indomaret Point). I figured that if I have lunch in Café Batavia (although highly recommended), I may not have enough time to go around this Old Town.

my lunch

Fine Art and Ceramic Musem (Museum Seni Rupa Dan Keramik)

Museum Wayang

at Fatahillah Square
our van
 We also passed by (albeit slowly) Jembatan Kota Intan (Kota Intan Drawbridge). The said wooden drawbridge was built during Dutch period and this is said to be the last one standing.

Then we went to Sunda Kelpha Harbor, a 500-year old port which is still an important port in the country for sailing Phinisi (Makassar schooners), a traditional Indonesian two-masted sailing ship.

After the long trip that day, I was dropped off back at the hotel. I first checked out the Executive Lounge. There weren't much people in yet as their hors d'oeuvres (cocktails) will still be 1-2 hours from the time I entered. It is good to note that the lounge is huge and very spacious. So everyone would have a space in there, unlike other hotels where during peak time a group may have a hard time to be seated.

Later that night, I came in for hors d'oeuvres hour. Aside from cocktail foods and sweets, they also have a noodle station where you can order according to your liking. I had one following the suggestion of the attendant though just to be sure and it was good and filling that I didn't have to go out for dinner that night.

Tuesday, I woke up early to prepare for my official business work. The view outside the room was very inviting to explore the city but I have work to do. Too bad.

I only had to walk as the customer's site is just nearby. For lunch, we went to Waroeng Kita.

They insisted that I try the local specialty, Sop Buntut (oxtail soup), and I'm sure glad I did. It's boiled oxtail, a bit sour, but flavorful. I'm sure glad I tried this as I now have an Indonesian favorite!

That night, I went to the hotel's lounge again for hors d'oeuvres.
view from the lounge. Mal Ambassador can be seen (center)

This time, they had a pasta station (last night was noodle soup).
my pasta

Of course, I still had my taste of the other food items

table setting
That night, I had a good glimpse of the view outside my room and decided to take a snapshot of it. I actually slept just staring at this nice view outside my window (as I was tired due to work that day).

Wednesday morning was the same as the previous day. After having breakfast, rest of the day was spent with the customer. However for lunch, I ate at La Damansara Kopitiam.

rootbeer float

As I walked back to the hotel that afternoon, I took pictures of the area where I am staying (Mega Kuningan).

Late that afternoon, I rode a cab (IDR23000) to visit a store recommended by the hotel, Fashion Warehouse, which is surprisingly near our corporate office in Jakarta.

After this, I rode a taxi (IDR22000) to Mal Ambassador, which very near our hotel and checked out the other store suggested by the hotel.

Then I walked back to the hotel and ate some items from the lounge as my dinner.

Thursday morning, had the usual fare at breakfast at the lounge then went to the customer site for the closing of my engagement.

After which, I walked back to Mal Ambassador to check out other stores.

I didn't stay that long at the mall. As I walked back, I took picture of the hotel (the blue building at the center). The security guards of the hotel forbid me from taking a picture for "security reasons". After a few research that day, now I understand that the reason was due to the bombing of the hotel (twice) as the anti-U.S. terrorists may have (referring to the news I've read) accorded the hotel as a U.S. icon.

picture of the lobby of the hotel, before I was stopped by a guard who was talking to be in Bahasa Indonesia

I bought some food (as I didn't have lunch on time that day) at Waroeng Kampong, just nearby the hotel.

It was good that there was also fruits in the room, which I happily munched on, one after the other in one sitting!

Later that night, I had my last course of hors d'oeuvres at the lounge, as I will be leaving the city the next day.

I rode another Silver Bird taxi on my way back to the airport earlier today. It was a good experience to ride this executive taxi as it was very convenient (they were actually just lining up outside the hotel lobby) and very comfortable.

inside the taxi

I arrived via Soekarno Airport last Monday but didn't get to appreciate the beauty of its terminal as it was night time and I was hurrying to go to the hotel. The airport has a cultural touch into it, making it unique from the modern airports.

our gate

The flight I took isn't direct to Manila (as it leaves around 1AM and I don't want another red-eye flight). This one is connecting to Singapore. The plane pushed back from the gate on-time and we were up in the air minutes later.

view as we take-off

en route to Singapore

This is my first connecting flight from an international country to another via Philippine Airlines. For the short flight of a little more than an hour, they served tuna sandwich to the passengers.

They also served juice and water. I loved the orange juice and was disappointed it was too small.

An hour later, we are already about to land in Singapore. The movie we were watching wasn't finished yet (lol).

Singapore International Airport

In Singapore, I took a chance and used the connecting flight to shop around. Their airport terminals are definitely among the best I've been as they have facilities to cater everyone.

They even have a Game Zone and there were Xbox, free to play!

food bought at the terminal

After about an hour in the terminal, we were asked to board the same plane and now bound for Manila.

Manila-bound at last!

meal at plane and my burger
It was a quick (business) trip to Jakarta and in such a short time at least, I'm happy that I've managed to squeeze a few sightseeing in the city. The city seems very progressive than what I initially thought and next time, I'm sure to browse more and explore around the less beaten path!