Taman Fatahillah, Kota Tua
For a dose of cultural and historical experience, Taman Fatahillah (Fatahillah Park) takes you back to the colonial times with preserved architectures of European style. The City Hall of the Dutch colonial government was once located here; now it is home to the Jakarta History Museum (slated to reopen in 2014), Museum of Fine Art and Ceramics, and Museum Wayang (shadow puppet).
The park is part of Kota Tua, which is known as the Old Town of Jakarta, a gathering place for locals and tourists alike. Street buskers keep everyone entertained as well as trigger-happy.
Not to defy military order, we posed with thumbs-up next to the cannon. Unknowingly, the open square where we were standing has a grim past – it was the place for public executions in front of the former City Hall during colonial times.
Colourful vintage bicycles for rent to cycle around the park.
Together with a large crowd, we were captured by the loud whipping sound from the performers at the park. According to our guide, it is a form of ‘whipping art’ from Ponorogo of East Java.
The performance has a tale to tell. The guide told us the little girl played the role of a ‘pocong’ (unrest spirit). She was wrapped and tied up by the master, only exposing the face and being carried to a small tent. While we were distracted by the incessant whipping and fire-breathing, the little girl ‘magically’ untied herself and walked out of the tent.
The boys took mouthful of fuel and spat it out to create the fire ball. Literally a high-octane performance!
The touristy street that leads to Taman Fatahilla is lined with peddlers selling a range of goods from souvenirs, toys, fashion accessories to fruit juices, snacks and desserts.
A peddler’s cart that serves ice cream and durian bandung.
Kerak telor is my newfound favourite in Jakarta! It tastes like the dry version of spicy otak. This classic street eat is made with glutinous rice, shredded coconut, shallots, chilli and egg.
The vendor cooks the kerak telor over charcoal fire until it turns golden brown crust. The warm and spicy omelette snack has the right consistency, not too dry, and tasty.
Do you believe in tarot reading? The Bornean in traditional costume and feather headdress was reading the tarot cards for the girls.
And play game to win prizes!
Or have your portrait drawn on the spot.
A street peddler on the move, a sight we hardly see (no?) in Singapore.
Museum Bank Indonesia
This is the first time I visited a museum that is loaded with currencies. It is none other than Museum Bank Indonesia, a great stop for museum lover in Kota Tua area that is walking distance to Taman Fatahilla. (Free admission)
The museum is well-kept and provides a lot of information explaining the historical background of Bank Indonesia as well as the economic and financial history of the country from the 17th century till today. Interactive exhibits at the museum easily capture the interest of young and old to learn about the finance world.
Everyone wishes to have their face on the currency note.
The historic building of Bank Indonesia Museum used to be the office of De Javasche Bank under the former Dutch colonial empire.
Attention all fish-cake lovers! This is a must-try when you are in Jakarta. Head to Wong Palembang for a uniquely delightful experience with an interesting variety of fish-cake snacks. From deep-fried balls and puffs with real fish taste to spring rolls, fish-cake omelette and soups, Mr Wong, the friendly chatty boss of the restaurant really takes pride in serving the best of fish-cake! Durian lovers can try the durian glutinous rice as Mr Wong touts it is the best in Jakarta.
Pempek Bakar fish-cake. Do these look like macaroons??
My favourite is the ‘fish-cake omelette’ sprinkled with shrimp powder.
Srikaya – a dessert made with coconut milk, eggs and infused with pandan flavour.
Fish balls soup over fire.
The shopfront of Wong Palembang.
Just next to Wong Palembang, have some ice-cream at Ragusa Es Italia, one of the oldest surviving ice-cream parlours since 1932.
Wong Palembang: Jl. Veteran 1 No.12A Jakarta Pusat, Indonesia
The National Monument is probably one of the most photographed landmarks in Jakarta. Also known as Monas, the 132-metre tall monument looms over the cityscape of Jakarta. An icon for Indonesia’s independence from the Dutch colonial rule; a popular attraction for tourists and locals alike.
The cliche travel photo! Is that what you did for Eiffel Tower?
We only spent a weekend in central Jakarta for shopping, sightseeing and food. There is definitely more to explore with a longer stay.
**Special thanks to Jakarta Tourism Office and Mr Russell Cheong of Winsemius Consulting for organising this trip.