October has been a month full of travel starting with our honeymoon in Bali, then a weekend in Jepara and finally a little jaunt to Jakarta. But this trip wasn’t all rainbows and roller coasters; there was work to be done! Work for Joel that is; he had a Saturday morning meeting. He could have chosen to just fly in at 6:00am and come home that evening, but that would have made for a very long and not very fun day. So being the party animals that we are, we decided to make a weekend out of it.
We arrived late-ish Friday evening and Saturday morning he was off to work bright and early. I lounged around the hotel for a bit then headed out to stop number one: Pasar Tanah Abang, the largest textile market in SE Asia. And of course I traveled by bajai! I professed my love for the bajai on our last trip to Jakarta in February. I truly believe I should own one of these adorable scooter-car hybrids and no matter how many times Joel tells me otherwise, I refuse to believe that it wouldn’t be street legal in the US.
The maze of Tanah Abang was exactly as I remembered. Floor upon floor of small cramped walkways winding through 40,000+ stalls of clothes, accessories and fabrics. The market’s many buildings are labeled blocks A-F, then each building has up to ten floors. It’s massive, congested and overwhelming for a first timer.
Looking for one specific vendor is a lost cause, but that was precisely my goal. On my last visit I had seen a stall of tassels and trims and had only a vague idea of how I might find it again. I browsed for about a half hour before stumbling across tassel trim heaven. After spending only $5 USD I was the proud new owner of 40 mini tassels. They’ll get paired with some textiles to become pillows as soon as I can get back to my sewing machine.
After the market, Joel was done with his meeting just in time for lunch. When prepping for a weekend in Jakarta- especially a Halloween weekend- we read lots of blogs like Manual Jakarta and Honeycombers looking for restaurants and parties. That’s where we heard of Attarine, a new restaurant by the Potato Head group that just so happened to be debuting their lunch service that day. What a delicious decision it turned out to be! Their menu features a variety of small plates with lots of vegetarian dishes for Joel and a giant bowl of olives for me.
We stayed at Takes Mansion and Hotel for a second time; last time with a room in the mansion, this trip in the newer hotel part. We used the pools accordingly, this trip hotel pool, last trip mansion pool. Sunday morning we had just enough time for a quick dip between our Car Free Day walk and heading to the airpot.
It’s funny that we’ve gone to Car Free Day on all of our Jakarta visits. We’ve gone to the one in Semarang maybe twice and Joel said he never even went once in Jakarta despite living there for two years. It makes sense though if you know anything about Jakarta and traffic. Joel lived in the Kelapa Gading neighborhood in north Jakarta and Car Free Day is in central Jakarta. If there was absolutely no traffic it would be a 20 minute trip, but in true Jakarta fashion it would typically take over an hour to make the trek. Not worth it!
But Takes Mansion is right in the mix of central Jakarta so we were able to walk the strip of carless street from Grand Indonesia Mall to Monas. We strolled through looking at vendors, grabbing a coffee at the now famous Starbucks and took selfies at the Monas monument. When I first moved to Indonesia we spent my first weekend in Jakarta and Joel snapped a picture of me at the very same spot in front of Monas. I remember how wide eyed I was about everything and everyone around me that first weekend in a foreign country and how different every aspect of the culture felt.
During this walk, for no reason in particular I was drawn to taking photos of all the food carts along the way. Even at the height of the popularity of the food truck scene in the US, they’re still viewed as somewhat quirky. Food carts here are more wound into the fabric of everyday life. They’re on every corner, serving all types of food and operate morning, noon and night. After working for two different catering companies in the US, I have to laugh at how much red tape there was to set up a mobile food establishment back home. In this country obtaining permits from the city to operate on the street or having a scheduled health inspection would be viewed as gratuitous and downright comical.
After a sweaty morning walk and refreshing dip in the pool, it was time to head to the airport for our 60 minute flight home. We planned on getting home early in the day so we could prep for work on Monday, but leaving that morning I felt a little sad that we hadn’t decided to linger later in the day for a leisurely brunch. We’ll be back for another Jakarta weekend as part of a long layover when we head to Washington for Christmas. Yes, a PNW CHRISTMAS!! I’m a little excited to say the least. I’m counting down the days until we can enjoy brisk days on a rocky beach and evenings sipping hot cocoa, listening to banjo music around a backyard fire pit.