Sunday, 10 January // Busiest Day :(
Yesterday I finally slept a proper 8 hours... felt AMAZING. I woke up at 8am really energized. And then I saw some messages from my friend Edu (IG: @fordue) that he was going for jog on Jl. M.H. Thamrin, a major street near to my hotel. The street was cleared of cars for the morning until 11:00 - every Sunday, Jakarta hosts a Car Free Day on this major road in the Central Business District. I agree to meet him near the Kempinski Hotel (close to the Grand Indonesia from the day before) and head out. Jl. M.H. Thamrin is packed with people! Families walk in the sun and enjoy the warm weather in the mornings, maybe stopping at some of the many food carts along the route. Groups of friends skateboard, bicycle, jog, or just walk around chatting. Some hardcore joggers decked out in workout gear jog past me. As usual, lots of funny looks my way. Some people say hello.
I can't find Edu at the Kempinski, so I reroute into the Starbucks in Plaza Indonesia (Starbucks is the international safety net of lost foreigners (bula)). Pick up an iced coffee (kopi ais) and send him a message that I'm waiting there. A sweaty friendly-faced Indonesian guy walks, smiles, and comes over to sit down - it's Edu! Finally have my Indonesian guide for the day. His friend Maolana (IG: @maolanahakim) comes to join shortly after in a similar state of sweat. I conclude I'm hungry (as usual) so we go to Salim street to get some traditional Indonesian food from Sumatra - Padang food. It's like a banquet of different dishes - you don't order, they just bring everything out - and some white rice. You pay for what you eat. It was soooo good ugh. Had these weird vegetables and some tofu cakes and weird meats. I should just start a food blog but I suck at describing so just imagine for me. I recommend the Padang Wikipedia Page to get a better sense of how I mean.
Anyway, after we take an Uber to the Istiqlal (biggest mosque in Southeast Asia). My friends are in shorts so we can't enter; instead, we continue my favorite activity: eating! There's a famous Italian ice cream place next to the entrance to the mosque called Ragusa Es Italia. It's been around since 1932. It claims to have Italian ice cream, but... I was the only Italian in there :o The shop was run by a bunch of Chinese people. Ice cream was amazing though. Maolana got us some Asinan Bogor - like pickled fruit/vegetables in delicious vinegar sauce (photographed below).
We try to take the free Citytour bus around the central area, but it's full so we decide to take an Uber back to my hotel and chill on the roof. We talk about work, travel, lifestyle... They leave at 2pm to get out of their workout clothes and I nap a bit around my house while waiting for my friend Fia (IG: @lutfiarmdhn) to arrive. It takes her a long time due to traffic (seems to be a pattern haha). She arrives at around 4pm, too late to go to the National Gallery of Indonesia (which closes at 4pm), so we decide to instead go to Kota Tua (Old City of Jakarta) where Dutch colonial buildings still exist. This part of town has been around since the 1600's, and the street layout hasn't changed much since then. It's beautiful and filled with Indonesian ghosts and people dressed in giant puppets (Ondel Ondel).
I talk Fia into walking to the train station through the clothing markets of Tanah Abang, and then we take the train to Kota Tua. It's crazy man. Hundreds of people live basically on the train tracks, with little houses built just feet away from the train as it passes by. To think my dad complains about living too close to the highway and it's about five miles from my home and these Indonesians live just feet from the railway. Fia kept laughing because people were giving me funny looks on the train - oh well! A nice man helped us navigate our way to Kota Tua and we eventually arrive to there (and pick up some Pocari Sweat from an Indomart when we arrive).
Soooo many people mingle and sit, sell and play music, walk around on dates, eat, everything is happening in Kota Tua. I'm sweating buckets so Fia takes pity on me and we get some coffee at this cute restaurant (obviously sit beneath the aircon). I'm really thirsty, so I get an iced coffee and an iced lemon tea haha. Fia just takes a black iced coffee. And then this CRAZY lady comes in and is so highkey (literally no chill) basically yelling and pushing etc etc sits down at our table and is talking to us. She makes me so tired just listening to her, I have no idea how she maintains so much energy wow. Anyways she tells Fia's fortune - very good ;) - with tarot cards and then we get outta there!! After walking around the main square of Kota Tua, Fatahillah Square, we take the taxi back to my neighborhood and we stop by the street vendors on Salim street again to get some food. At this point I'm exhausted so we go back to my hotel so she can charge her phone and then she goes home and then I sleep.
Check it out: