Places in Jakarta: other than malls and usual cafes


Living in Jakarta is not always boring.

There is something beneath the same old sunny traffic and overpriced coffee which–let’s be honest–you don’t like that much.

Last weekend, I went to the other Jakarta. Not malls and cafes. It was a weekend to remember.

Disastrous Friday: 3 photo-hunting diva-boys review vintage Cafe Batavia 


I assisted my little brother and his friends’ photography exam at the Fatahillah square. My bro demanded me to wear a sari. Wearing sari is so complicated that I got yelled by my mother for asking her help. Then, I followed 3 clueless teenage boys walking, posing and exposing our skins under the grilling midday sun of June.


Long story short, after we took some pics, I wanted to pee. I couldn’t pee while wearing the sari because I used shorts as the sari base, instead of the usual long-skirt-like petticoat. So, we entered the most comfortable looking building–Cafe Batavia where I can get changed and pee.


I came back to our almost window-side table, overlooking the glimmering white Fatahillah building, finding 3 moaning boys. Grinning painfully, they said, “Ci, the price is unsuitable for us. It cost like Rp 1.000.000,-”

What?! My hands flipped the menu pages as fast as my reading eyes allowed me to. It turned out: the only thing costing that much is a bottle-sized booze. “You wanted to pop bottles and get drunk?”

Still. They wanted to bail, which was embarrassing as we’ve been there for more than 10 minutes. Besides, after eating, I need the bathroom to change for other dress they wanted me to wear. We needed to stay here.


My patience was tested. I sent my brother to go out to look at other cafe’s prices and bathroom condition. He came back with 30k-4ok as the price in a Kopitiam. Meanwhile, I found a salted fish fried rice dish for 32k each person in Cafe Batavia. Amazing. Other menus here were like 60k and up.

The kebaya wearing waitress said the portion would be enough for 4 people. Honestly, I had my doubts. My instinct was to order the largest size. But, looking at the boys’ faces, I ordered the medium/cheaper one.

I was disappointed. The fried rice wasn’t as delicious as it was 6 years ago.

The portion? “Fine dining,” the boys described. This time, I agreed with the boys.

After we paid, they decided not to use the other dress (the drama: my brother wanted me to bring it; I refused because he didn’t help with the sari and still demanded other dress; mom accused me of having a big ego for saying no; therefore, I had to bring it) because it’s too “sun-dressy,” not elegant enough. Apparently, divas can take form as teenage boys.

On our way home, we stopped at McDonald’s. I expected the boys to choose the medium priced menus. Surprise, they picked the expensive special menu, Moroccan burger packet, which they didn’t really like. One of them upsized it and ordered another tall coke float–which he left on my car to be discovered 4 days later. Counted together, he can afford a lavish main dish in Cafe Batavia.

Inside, I died a little. How come they’re more willing to spend more money on McDonalds? I thought: as design students, the boys would appreciate 2,000 years time-wrapped heritage. Also, as normal people wondering beneath Jakarta sun, the boys would be thankful for the air conditioning. It’s pricey, of course. But, come on, they restored a piece of history for you.


My message for fellow Indonesians: We almost lost Balinese dance. Do we want to loose other treasures? Please. Learn your history and culture. Love it. Support it. Don’t just internet rage when other country claimed what’s rightfully ours. It’s not helping.

Freaky Saturday: I played dead on an empty Dutch graveyard and dined at a mythical feminist restaurant


Museum Taman Prasasti, the cemetery from Indonesian colonial times, is known as its spookiness. Visitors claimed to see tears flowing down the statue’s eyes. Guards hearing weeping sounds. But, in real life, it’s not that scary.

Last Saturday, I played tourist there with 3 friends, Vito, Chintya and Cendekia.


The museum was beautiful in a gothic way. The cemeteries are very old–we found a few dated back to 1800s. Statues were mostly winged and disfigured.The trees there were lush enough to cover the midday sun, making it a great place for a little stroll.


“I didn’t know Indonesia has a place like this,” Vito commented.


It’s so amazing–at one point, I wanted a picture of me laying on the top on a grave.

“What it’s like?”

First impression: hot. Literally; dark-colored-iron-midday-hot, not like a ghost-making-it-hot kind of hot. As soon as I laid down, I wanted to get up, mentally cursing when my photo taking friend Vito changes his camera with his cell phone. After that, my back hurts a little from laying on a hard ground. Damn rusty concrete.

I was not spooky at all. Well, I and Vito asked permission and said thank you to the spirit, just in case.


Really. As you can see on my pictures, it’s not that creepy.



The only scary point: It’s Ramadan month, meaning: fasting people doesn’t wander outside on a sunny day as it will make them thirsty.  So, at that moment, before my friends came, the graveyard was empty, aside from me and a stranger carrying a big camera. At one point, near a bronze man statue, I heard a weird sound–like a cross between animal and weeping kid.

“Hey, do you hear anything?” I spoke to the stranger.

He smiled, lowering his camera down, “There’s nothing here.”

“Ah. Probably just insect,” an attempt to convince me.

Then, the voice came again, moving too fast and sounding too weird to be a bug.

I walked away from that area.

Really, guys. Most likely, it’s nothing. Maybe.


After strolling, we stopped to brunch at Lara Djonggrang restaurant.


The restaurant wasn’t hard to find. The gate was painted bright red. A banyan tree loomed taller than the restaurant building. You can touch the tree’s long hanging roots! If you like, you can swing it like Tarzan, but not too much–we don’t want its huge lantern to drop on you.

Entering the restaurant was like entering another era. Tugu Group did a magical job setting the atmosphere down to its tiny detail, even the spoon is brass–looks vintage! The real place is even better than the pictures. You have to be there yourself to be able to experience it fully.






The other thing I love about this place is the name Lara Djonggrang. The name carries an awesome legend, way back to the time of kings.


Nasi rempah I ordered was amazing. I adored my wayang shaped rice. Sure, the price doubled the usual nasi uduk. But, it’s the tastiest nasi uduk I’ve ever tasted.

Chintya’s cinnamon tea was served with a coffee-colored traditional teapot. The drink tasted weird but comforting, like drinking liquid cinnamon mixed with herbs.



Credits: Vito for pictures of me in the grave, Chintya for pictures of me in the restaurant

Fatahillah Square. Opens 24 hours; Jalan Kali Besar Timur 4 No.29, Pinangsia, Tamansari, Jakarta Barat

Cafe Batavia. Opens every day at 8 AM until midnight; Jalan Pintu Besar Utara No.14, Jakarta Barat

Museum Taman Prasasti. Opens every day except Mondays at 9 AM to 3 PM; Jl. Tanah Abang I No.1, Jakarta Pusat

Lara Djonggrang. Opens every day except Thursdays at 11 PM to 1 AM;  Jl. Teuku Cik Di Tiro 4, Jakarta Pusat


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