Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Jakarta: A City of Contrasts

If you've seen Manila, you've seen Jakarta. When I came in from the airport, though we have bigger airport in Manila than Jakarta Intl, the atmosphere at the airport is like in one of our provincial airports like Iloilo, or Davao.

It was a hot Sunday afternoon when I arrived, and I was arrested by the warm air. I was bracing myself for the infamous Jakarta traffic jam but my driver breezed through with nary a glitch. It seems that everyone in Jakarta left for the weekend.

On the sides are familiar sights. Mid-rise buildings, some new, some dilapidated. Garbage accumulating in some parts of the streets. Street vendors hawking wares in the side roads. More street vendors pushing carts. Motorcycle commuters! They're so many of them! It's the great escape of daily commute against traffic jam. If you're going somewhere near, like 2-3 blocks away, you can take the Ojek or motorcycles rather than a cab. It's faster and cheaper. I haven't rode one yet, I cannot imaging sinking my head into one of those requisite head gear, that Lord knows how many heads of commuters had went into.

What i do is, go to the far away places firsts, so that would require me to take a cab, then coming back home, pass by the grocery, where i would accumulate loads of cargo that i would need to take a cab again, even if the place is a block from my home. Just to evade the fact that i can always use the Ojek. I know, i must try sometime, just for the adventure of it all.

I was looking for a historical or landmark in Jakarta where i can have my photo taken just to say that I've been in Jakarta. But the one they tell me is a rotunda, with a very tall structure in the middle and a gold torch on top. I've passed through it several times. But as I said, it's a rotunda, and I'm still weighing the risk of zigzaging crossing through the passing traffic and cross.

For city slickers like me, who just breeze through a country's capital, it's always the malls that are top destinations. Jakarta is the heaven of malls. They have several high-end malls that will rival that of the developed countries! Plaza Senayan, Senayan City, Plaza Indonesia and other malls that I have yet to visit contains the most luxurious brands some of them I've only heard of now.

In Plaza Senayan, aside from the mall where the staples are Dior, Prada, Bally, Gucci, there is a department store also, but inside the wares are like Duty Free Shops. Rows of Shu Eumura counters, Branded Perfumes, Renoma, Guy Larouche (did i spell correctly?), Nine Wests, sitting side by side the shelves. In short, still same branded items, but just displayed in one-full sweep.

My boss took me to watch Sex in the City at Plaza Senayan. She promised me, it will be an experience! Indeed, it was. She bought the tickets the day before with 2 of her friends. The foyer of the theater where SiTC is showing, is fully carpeted. (much like Eastwood's, but eastwoods' carpets extends to entrance of the whole cinema). This one, we were entering only the theater for one-movie. There is a beautiful dimly-lit lounge, where you can order aperitiffs, water, popcorn or whatever. Btw, there's a menu for that, and the waiter will approach you. There's also a smoking lounge. Then, after you've placed your order, just get inside the cinema, and they will bring your food in your seats.

The seats! They're plush, soft lazy boys that your body will sink into! and you're not within inches from your seatmate. There's a small cabinet between the seats, where you can place your bags. A soft blanket, freshly laundered is ready on the seat, you rip it off from its packet and cuddle if the cinema's aircon becomes too cold for you. The small cabinet's top is used to place the food you ordered. The waiters, in white-gloves, brought in our cold Perrier water in crystal clear wine glasses. We turned up our footstools, and lied down to enjoy our 500++ Peso movie.

After the movie, we had dinner at Sushi Tei. It's one of those japanese restaurants where there's a conveyor belt where you can choose your sushi or sashimi from.

At another time, I met up with someone at Plaza Indonesia, also a high-end mall. So many branded items again! My boss, whose not a stranger to European branded items, having an Italian Fiance, said there are about 5 Gucci stand-alone stores in Jakarta, not to mention the ones in Bali or other big city like Surabaya. The people really know their malls here and there's a big market for these luxury items.

My friend took so long to meet me up, so I went around, trying to imagine I'm a Trophy Wife, doing her shopping and planning on the things she will ask her hubby to buy. I ventured into Tiffany's. In the US, I didn't dare go into Tiffany because I know they're just too expensive. Now, in the Asia market, where I'm confident of there currency i have, i dared.

Oopps, I shouldn't have. I simply drooled. The next time, I talked to hubby, my birthday gift is already planned-out!

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