I have heard about Jakarta, be it good or bad, since god knows when. So, it was only right that for my first ever venture out of the country with my own family, we had to choose Jakarta. (In actual fact, Tashkent, Uzbekistan was my first venture out of the country, but I was not married then).
This time, I have my own immediate family with me, and that’s a whole lot of new experience for me. It was also my very first time flying and experiencing Airasia, and I was thrilled to bits.
Bringing quite an entourage to the neighboring country for the first time (my dearest hubby, my cheeky son, my beloved mom & dad, my best friend, her sister and her mother), I have to really ensure that the journey is smooth and enjoyable.
We flew to Jakarta on an Airasia Flight on 28th March 2006 - 3 days before my hubby's Birthday. And we arrived at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, Jakarta right on schedule. As soon as we came out of the Arrival Hall, the Hotel driver, Dicky, was already waiting for us with a placard on his hand written 'BAPAK ARIS'. My hubby felt old all of a sudden...
We checked ourselves in at the Sparks Hotel – a small but chic boutique hotel in Mangga Dua district. It was just perfect for all of us to have our daily rest and a decent sleep at night.
So, where do we begin? I have been told much earlier that there is one spot in Jakarta that is a MUST for all tourists to visit. Hence, on the very first day we went to view the distinctively unique national monument called MONAS or Monument Nasional from near. MONAS is a symbol of Indonesia’s fight for independence. It is topped by a 14.5 ton bronze flame, which is plated in 35 kg of gold. It was so stunning that you just felt like wanting to snap pictures over and over again.
We then made our way to Ancol’s Sea World and Taman Mini Indonesia. It was an experience of a lifetime for my little boy who was only 2 back then to get to see the sea creatures so closely and pat some of them. The Taman Mini Indonesia was also truly amazing as we could see all of Indonesia's 27 provinces’ type of houses spreading across 120 hectares of land, all in different styles and incredible architectures.
Shopping in Jakarta was also part of our itinerary but for a medium-range shopper like me, I would rather spend my money to see places than to shop till I drop there! First, we went to Planet Hollywood to get some mementos to bring back home.
World Trade Centre (WTC) shopping complex was a good place for a bargainer like me. There you can find lots and lots of pirated designer handbags (from grade A to no grade at all) and the many types of Taiwanese-look dresses and shoes. I bought some for myself, rose-brooch for my officemates and too many Indonesia’s ever-popular layered cake for souvenirs. But for me, the must-buy item was definitely the fridge magnets. The collections are all on my fridge right now, if you must know...:-)
We went to Tanah Abang, a big wholesale market in Jakarta just before we depart back to Malaysia. Again, it was a clothing haven, very cheap but the problem was that you have to purchase it in bulk (3 pieces of the same design, at least! I couldn’t imagine myself wearing the same blouse in 3 different colors, so I had to pass that idea). My mom had a few beautifully designed ‘Telekungs’ (a prayer attire for Muslim women), with intricate Indonesian embroidery to bring back home for souvenirs.
And not to forget, the taste of Nasi Padang, Sumay Ikan and Bakso that was cooked to perfection can be found just a few steps away from the hotel we reside. Heaven, isn’t it?