Saturday, April 04, 2009

Jakarta Arrival & Visit to Taman Safari , Indonesia

For those who would like to read my Indonesia travelogue from the start, click these:
Diary Entry March 20, 2009 11:45 pm
I’m here sitting on my designated seat in an airplane that’s bound for Jakarta. I am trying to calm myself down, given the fact that I just had my period which makes me an emotional wreck, at the moment, listening to some random songs on my ipod and missing Peter a whole lot.

Earlier today, I thought I can handle traveling alone. Well, I guess I am surviving it coz I’m here right now typing these words while  I am 3000 feet above ground, right? But it’s not as easy as it looks. When I asked Peter to rationalize why I am on the verge of panic earlier this evening, he replied that it’s because I was so used to having him around anytime, anywhere. He’s been my partner in  everything, especially when we’re traveling. He’s been my baggage boy, my guide, my yaya (or is it yayo?), my driver, my bodyguard,  my best friend, my hubby.  Peter is definitely my all-in-one package kind of man. I feel simply lost without him…
 Diary Entry March 26, 2009 at home
 I am proud to say that I survived all that. Thanks to my girlfriends Lora and Jowi for showing me a great time around Jakarta and Bali. I will definitely come back with Peter in tow. ^_^ 
Good bye Manila, Hello Jakarta!

I arrived at around 12 m.n. of Saturday, March 21 in Jakarta (which is an hour behind Manila time).  Lora and her foster father, Tito Milton picked me up at the airport. Landing in Jakarta for the first time didn’t make me feel like I’m in a foreign land at all. For one, the weather feels pretty much the same as Manila(hot and humid although they told me that it’s not even summer there yet) and the people pretty much looked the same as us Pinoys, being Malays and all.

JM let me use his room for two nights. Thanks JM!
The moment I got to Lora’s place, I immediately settled in JM’s room while catching up with Lora, of course.   I was excited about the itinerary she prepared for the whole trip. I already knew that everything would be so awesome! Before catching a few zzzzs, I went online to check how Peter was. Thanks to Skype video, Peter and I didn’t feel as lonely being apart. Anyway, my vacation was just for six days. I know it’ll be awesome and we’ll be able to survive the distance.

I can never last one day without going online. 
 To Cilandak Townsquare

My first day in Jakarta was spent with Jowi and Lora. Lora rented a van for the whole day. It cost us Rp750,000.00 (that’s almost Php4000). Wow! According to  to Lora, almost everyone in Jakarta (those who can afford it) either rents a cab/van or has a driver to bring them around town. Seldom does she see people driving their own car and rarely does it happen that a woman drives her car. Indonesia is mostly of Hindu religion. I’m not sure if it has anything to do with this kind of practice but I bet it has a huge influence. True enough, during my stay in Jakarta, that’s what I saw too. Furthermore, I noticed that a lot of them were FILTHY RICH! Lora says so too! Why? Coz I saw many of them go out of Louis Vuitton  and Hermes store carrying new purchases costing millions(maybe even billions and trillions of Rupiah!).  I believe that Indonesia, even when its considered to be a third world country like the Philippines, is still far more rich. Aside from the fact that their country is huge (imagine, just to go to Bali from Jakarta, it already takes 2 hours of flight) and is rich with natural resources,  they also have their own huge businesses which offer job opportunities to many and produces huge incomes for their government. There aren’t even any call centers around! This means that they don’t depend on foreign businesses for their GDP. Aside from the fact that most of them don’t know how to speak good English, it’s not even encouraged showing how nationalistic they can be. And that’s a good thing, right?!

 L: Lora calling Jowi; R: Jowi strutting her way towards us.
Anyway, going back to my trip, we all first met up at Cilandak Townsquare where we had to buy some carrots for the animals we’re going to feed at Taman Safari. Then  we headed to the outskirts of the city.
Off to Taman Safari

It took us around 2 hours to reach Taman Safari. I’ve been to safaris before(Zoobic here in Subic, Zambales & Night Safari in Singapore). But this one is different. Instead of touring the Safari on foot to check out the animals, we just stayed inside the van while it toured us all around the man-made jungle.
The wild animals were the ones looking at us as we passed by each one of them. It was kind  of scary because had our windows been open the whole time, I was afraid that those animals will keep sticking their heads inside our van to look for food which was what the camels, deer, zebras and elephants did!
Just like any other safari, we saw sun bears, giraffes, orangutans, tigers and lions(and they were love making!). It was my first time tho to see deer as huge as zebras and tigers  as white as snow! Wowowee!
After touring the jungle, we rested for a bit and had our lunch at Bakmi Safari. 

We ordered:

  Mie Ayam “Chicken Noodles” (Rp15,000);
Nasi Gorenf Spesial (Rp27,500) and Ayam Goreng Mentega  “Buttered Fried Chicken” (Rp33,000). 
I forgot the name of this drink but it tasted like real iced tea
We planned to check out the baby zoo afterwards so we can pet  the cute little cubs. Unfortunately after we had late lunch, this huge blanket of fog quickly descended upon all of us and immediately after that, it rained cats and dogs like there was no tomorrow. Man! I’ve never seen anything like it!

Thus, we were forced by nature to change plans. We headed back to the city only to find out that it was as dry as a desert and checked out a few more malls before calling it  day.
I Want Money!

This mall felt like SM Mega Mall for some reason
At  Pondok Indah, we had my US $$$ exchanged to Rupiah. I had $600 with me. I only exchanged $500 and decided to keep the $100 with me for emergency purposes. With that amount of money, I was already a millionaire!!! I got more than 5 million Rupiah in all!!! Woohoo! That’s more than enough for the rest of my trip!

 I’m a millionaire!
The Quaint and Exotic Lara Djonggrang

Here’s a bit of history which I read at the front page of their menu selection: 
Once upon a time during the times of the Hinduism in Java, there lived Lara Djonggrang, a princess renowned for her stunning beauty. In during kingdom of Prambanan , Lara Djonggrang’s father was killed by a powerful man Bandung Bondowoso, the son of king Prabu Baka. Blinded by her beauty, Bandung Bondowoso madly fell in love with the princess and was determined to marry Lara Djonggrang, whatever it required to do.
Lara Djonggrang vowed not to ever marry the man who had murdered her own father therefore she demanded Bandung Bondowoso to construct a thousand temples for her overnight. Unable to complete this task all by himself, Bandung Bondowoso seeked for the help of hundreds of demons to help him. So when dusk came, they set up to work.
As dawn approached, the demons had completed a large number of the temples at a startling speed. Worried that one thousand temples would be finished by sunrise, Lara Djonggrang aroused her palace maids to begin pounding rice in the barns and to scatter fragrant flowers all over the kingdom. The sound of the pounding woke the rooster who then beganto crow. When the demons heard the noises and smelled the flowers, they mistakenly understood that day time had come and flew away for their lives. At last, they only constructed 999 temples one short of the requirement.
Enraged beyond imaginations, Bandung Bondowoso turned Lara Djonggrang into a stone statue so that she would never be able to love others forever. The story of Lara Djonggrang lives through time, symbolizing a daughter’s undying love for her father, finally sacrificing her life for him. The Gods heard the prayers sent by the maidens of the kingdom. Touched by the story, they sent for Lara Djonggrang to be taken to the heavens, riding on a Javanese mythological lion, where she finally found eternal peace.
The stone visualization of Lara Djonggrang on her way to heavens is one of the masterpieces in this beautiful restaurant, as well as a statue portraying her refusal to Bandung Bondowoso’s plea to marry him. The artworks presented in this restaurant bring back to life the luxurious romance and ancient atmosphere of Prambanan.
The legend of LARA DJONGGRANG, although still could be heard deep in the lands of Java, remains only as one of the most enchanting, well-kept secrets that has been told only from parents to children through more than a thousand of years, it show each younger generation of the unconditional love and respect a child is to give to his or her parents. In line with its mission to keep alive the forgotten, romantic history of Indonesia , Tugu Hotels & Exotic Spas dedicate the Lara Djonggrang restaurant to become, in itself, a part of Indonesia’s beautiful history.
>>> also found in TuguHotelsDotCom
That night, just when I thought there’s nothing else to do, Lora brought me to this quaint restaurant which I later found out has lots of nooks and crannies that I actually got lost after taking photos of every room and corner it offers to its foreign and local customers. The place is called Lara Djonggrang, named after their Hindu Goddess.  It offers delectable Indonesian dishes which I absolutely loved. 
We ordered:

PERKEDEL KERANG SAUS GURIH (Pacific clams potato cake cooked in their shells served with Pacific sauce) Rp 42,000;

SATE DAGING MANIS KOTA GEDE (skewers of grilled caramel-marinated tenderloin served with cucumber salad and red pepper, tomato and shrimp paste on the side, originally from a street vendor on Kota Gede Jogjakarta during thge earlier part of 20th century) Rp55,000;
  CUMI GORENG BUMBU SEREH (squids fried in lemongrass from Japara northeren Central Java villages) Rp58,000; 
  and of course, Jakarta’s local beer, Bintang.
They were sooooo scrumptious! Out of all the food Lora fed me during my entire trip, this place had the best! Okay, in fairness, I didn’t eat as much as Lora expected. She thought I’d eat like there’s no tomorrow. Well, I thought so too. Now I realize that I seem to eat like that only when Peter is around coz there’s always someone to finish everything I can ‘t finish (which is pretty much A LOT of everything). But in actuality, my appetite is as moody as my personality. Most of the time, I wasn’t that hungry but I really did try to eat as much as I can. 

Anyway, Lara Djonggrang is like a museum, resto and bar all rolled into one. It sells unique ornaments and antique pieces which I would’ve loved to buy if only I can carry them all back home. Hehehe.

Cafe Batavia  Kept Me Awake
As my first night in Jakarta drew to a close, we went to this  popular cafe where I got to know Lora’s gay foster brother JM and her boyfriend Kris.  Cafe Batavia’s first floor housed the bar where bands play for their customers. We opted to stay at the second floor where it was more quiet.  I immediately noticed its walls covered with framed artsy photos from floor to ceiling. Even their bathrooms had the same design! I wonder if I can do the same thing at our house… Hmmm…
Prior to this incident,  Lora gave me a special kind of sanitary napkin due to the fact that I suddenly had my period and we could’nt find any tampons anywhere. Lora said that these napkins have some special effects which Kris will eventually explain to me later on.
L-R: Kris, JM & Lora
As it turned out, while we were having coffee (I ordered Coffee Amaretto), JM and Kris spread  a napkin on the table (yeah, it looked really bizarre) and demonstrated how this particular brand is more special than the rest in the market. The catch is that it’s made of pure cotton with a special ingredient that turns liquid into gel thereby absorbing more menstrual blood than most, leaving one feeling dry and  is actually more hygienic. That’s not all. It comes with a strip full of negative ions that helps regulate blood flow and even prevents cancer. That got me very interested. As you all know, I am polycystic and I have irregular menstrual cycle (thus, my terrible mood swings and personality changes). If this thing has cured breast cancer and other abnormalities in both men an women, perhaps it can cure me through repeated use. I bought a whole box of it that came with napkins, pantiliners and a dozen vagina fluid testers (to find out if you have abnormalities in your secretions down there). If it works, then the $80 I’m about to pay Lora for it would be all worth it. ^_^
We all went home at around 3 a.m. It’s true what they say… time does fly so fast when you’re having fun.^_^
To see the entire photo album of this day’s events, please click: 

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