Sunday, December 11, 2016

Backpacking in Jakarta - My first time!

Hi guise. Hey, this is my first blog in 2016, yes I have not been able to write a travel blog due to uninteresting activities in recent years. The places I visited were rather simple and they weren't what I wanted to share with you guise. I wanted something raw, local and well, a little stylish too. When I say a little stylish that's because I couldn't bring all of my stuff.

Yep that's right. This post is about my first backpacking experience. My first step to go more deeper within one's culture and style charot! Although I have done this way back when I stayed in Dahican, where I was residing in a tent at a very organic place, I meant no tourist spot. I mingled with the locals and other backpackers as well, we surfed and beach bummed while mesmerized by the cool waves in Amihan sa Dahican.

However the aspect of this trip is to go back to my art roots, which was/is in Indonesia. Usually backpackers would choose other ASEAN countries such as Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, etc. in a month or so. But I chose to stay in Indonesia once again, with only a backpack (fortunately, minimal clothing and make up as well).

It was an eye opener for me, that bringing less can take you places where no introvert would go. I'm saying introvert because as far as one knows I tend to get anxious when I'm with a crowd of unfamiliar people. But I need to express myself, and one way is to become friendly with them; smiling (not awkwardly) is the key my friend.

I'll take you to my first few days in Jakarta. Jakarta by the way, it's a luxury. You can't be with the locals unless you know someone from here or you know Bahasa Indonesia pretty damn well. Transportation is crazy! But I studied them quite a bit and found Go-jek/Go-car to be very helpful and inexpensive. 'Jeepney' in the Philippines will never be a letdown when you know the pros and cons to be honest.

Another advantage for me is that I look Indonesian. Tagalog-Bisaya both sound similar to Bahasa Indonesia hence they thought we were somehow taking it easy but not really. However, I do speak a tad bit of their language because I learned it in 2011 (previously in the IACS-ASEAN batik program). I reviewed some Bahasa words and sentences before ascending. It's easier to haggle transportation, another advice. Haggling may seem rude but everybody thinks it's an efficient way to save money than just agreeing straightaway, which only applies in Indonesia and if you are used to speaking their language. I don't think it will be good in other countries. Furthermore, I recommend downloading the app "Indonesian" from Bravolol. I downloaded the app just in case. Okay, enough babbling, let's get down to the juicy parts.

My vlog about this trip, it's part English and Tagalog lol


Finally to Jakarta!

TIP I've heard stories about offloading (click this link to read the comments) in Manila airport. So before we got on board, I researched and asked some tips from fellow travelers. It seems that you need to dress appropriately (clean and casual) before facing immigration (Terminal 3 kami that time). Always be ready with your itinerary (flight schedule and travel list like where you wanna go, booking receipts, etc.), although we weren't asked to show any of this, only our Cebu pacific itinerary and passport. In our case, Sheff had an intimate convo with the female staff, told her that we just got engaged and planned the Indonesia trip before tying the knot lol. He also told them that it's his first time traveling abroad and my second time to go to Indonesia. The female staff liked the idea and even told us "sana may ganyan rin ako" while the male staff who entertained me was not amused lol. You  need to show you are confident and happy (because I was in fact excited and cheery). Moreover, Indonesia is visa on arrival therefore their immigration staff looked more intimidating but still nice (and they just stamped our passports right away!). Indonesia's visa is free but travel tax in Manila isn't so be sure to check on your itinerary if the travel tax is included; if not then you have to pay it while checking in. 


Blue bird taxi (a bit expensive but you can trust this company). On our way to the hotel past 12 midnight. Our hotel was in Jalan Menteng, therefore we paid 150,000 idr (P 558.00) for the taxi fare.

Why day 2? because from Davao we arrived in Manila in the evening and checked in for our flight to Jakarta. Arrived in Jakarta at 11:55 pm, rested for a bit and started walking to find a cab that uses a meter. I was exhausted so I couldn't haggle at that time. Blue bird taxis are in the blue bird group.

Oh yes, comfy bed, good air conditioner, internet and a private bath & toilet. We booked a room at Sofyan Hotel Betawi Menteng. Sorry about the TV, nadale haha!

Sofyan hotel brings back memories. This was the first hotel I stayed in Jakarta back in my IACS-ASEAN days. I had shared a room with my closest Indonesian friend during that time. Today, the hotel is still nice and cozy. For your information this hotel is a Muslim hotel so respect everything there is inside. If you hear the muezzin please don't make any loud noises because most guests are praying. However, I noticed rooms are almost sound proof but you can still hear the muezzin from the nearest Masjid. (I am not Muslim, I was raised Catholic but I respect all).

I wore my outfit again, just strolling around Menteng and had some snack in the morning, although we already had free buffet breakfast in the hotel haha!

I just wanna say that the free breakfast buffet was so good! They serve the best Indonesian cuisine so far (as a hotel with free breakfast). Absolutely recommended. Brewed coffee's awesome too!

Sofyan hotel betawi is close to some famous cafes and restaurants. We headed to the nearest one and it seems to be popular, Bakoel Koffie in Cikini. However the language barrier was the kind of thing you had to accept and be patient as fervent as possible. We had our order and that was it, we just had to try, no worries. 

Place is kinda vintage, it's cool by the way! We were seated at the non-smoking area. We wanted to try their Indonesian snacks, unfortunately they were unavailable (the waiter tried explaining as he said "no" to our first order) so perhaps wala nga talaga haha! 

We headed back to Sofyan hotel and prepared to check-out at 12 pm so we could go to our next booking at Six degrees backpacker's hostel in Jalan Cikini. Six degrees is just a walking distance to Sofyan, I am good at planning trust me! haha!

But before checking-in in Six degrees. We hung in 7eleven because I bought some stuff, I meant more Indonesian snack lol.

Tangkong is a mix of potato and cassava. Baru means 'new'. They also have Pedas which means 'spicy' and Keju means 'cheese'. Also bought a tiny durian mooncake, it was divine! 

After snacking in 7eleven, we proceeded to walk to Six degrees. Google maps is helpful for your info. I will tell you all about booking Sofyan hotel and Six degrees later (scroll down to the last part to read the summary).

We stayed in the double room with a private bath and toilet. Spacious and cool; no windows though but that's totally fine coz they have an outdoor bar at the rooftop and a little yoga/training area.

Lobby and play area is quite big, even guests are having their meals here, doing internet stuff and reading a book. They also have a movie room, too awesome!

After checking in our room, we freshened up and went to Grand Indonesia and spent a leisurely time eating and window shopping. 

TIP By the way, we used Go-jek separately. It's way more cheaper than grab, go-car or taxi. Go-jek can easily maneuver during traffic. Make sure when you and your partner or friends rode go-jek, you have to set the meeting place like a specific spot you can meet up.

Outside Grand Indonesia.

Sheff thinking that he'll buy these pair of boots someday... someday...

These goddamn seasonal fruits man! :((((( 

Beautiful! You can see this at Plaza Indonesia, it's beside Grand Indonesia.

After a couple of hours of frustration and sad pitiful budgeting leisure time (because we ABSOLUTELY didn't want buy anything expensive). The grandeur made us hungry and so we walked away from the tall buildings and ate some Indonesian street food (first time ever!).

TIP Okay so none of these people will speak English fluently for you even if you're a local or not. Basically Bahasa Indonesia is important especially paying street food vendors or any establishment for that matter. You can watch our vlog so you'll know how to eat them and how we liked the taste. The street food haven is just right in front of Grand Indonesia's west mall entrance. Easy to locate coz you'll see a crowd of people eating and smoking cigarettes.

Some of the street food stalls yay!

Yes! Sate kambing in English is 'barbecued mutton' uyeh! We had two orders of Sate Kambing and per plate had maybe around 10 sticks (basta marami) costs 25,000 idr (P 93.00) per plate. Affordable compared to the restaurant price.

Look at them! Legit Satay, the peanut sauce was really lovely.

This type of street food stall is called 'warung'. Typically they sell local food, desserts (like Martabak) and fruits as well.

Subsequently we went back to the hostel by riding a Bajaj (an auto-rickshaw in Jakarta, the usual color is blue). It was a good experience we rode Bajaj for the first time. In my vlog however I forgot to mention Bajaj rather I said Becak which is different regarding utilization but similarly both are rickshaw. 

Arrived in Six degrees, we prepped ourselves to avail their "happy hour" in the bar. Large bintang was affordable compared to the regular price in Jakarta. Sheff and I just chilled the whole night in the rooftop.

After a couple of drinks, we head downstairs and played a game of 9 balls ayylmao.


Hey, hey! Good morning, had nasi goreng for breakfast and their unlimited coffee. :)

So actually we transferred to another room, in the 4-pod dorm room. You have your own pod (privately you can close the curtain) with a light and socket. We had to switch rooms because someone already booked the double room. It was alright and air conditioner was cool. Public bath and toilet is also spacious and clean, we still had a comfortable stay. :)

Day 3's plan was to go to Kota Tua Jakarta (old town Jakarta) but due to unknown reasons we suddenly changed the plan, we went to Gandaria City Mall instead which was a stupid idea lol because Kota Tua Jakarta is a historical place haha! Anyway charged to experience, we will definitely visit Kota Tua Jakarta soon. 

Gandaria City Mall is pretty far from Jalan Cikini (where Six Degrees is located), therefore we rode a go-car going there and the driver knew where to move away from traffic.

Okay so to be honest, we went to Gandaria for a reason, we wanted to try that Pablo cheesecake, stupid eh? Unfortunately the queue was impossible! I mean absolutely long! We ditched that idea and tried Kyochon's chicken salsal (lmao). Salsal in Tagalog means 'placing your finger into something whilst penetrating it in and out' ayylmao.

We bought these mini matcha croissants from breadtalk and are only available in Indonesia, they were so delish! It has red bean filling and texture was soft, not flaky. You have to watch my vlog to see our reactions, we had a wonderful time eating these minis.

BOGO! Lmao, buy one and get one and we did. In my vlog you'll see how the burgers looked like haha!

Gandaria City Mall has one of the most outrageous and ridiculously awesome art installations! Especially that contortionist sculpture, amazing!

It was a bit exhausting we walked about in the mall. I couldn't get a go-car so I just called a cab, eventually we paid the exact metered amount 150,000 idr. It's kind of expensive because Gandaria City Mall is 12 km to Cikini (Six Degrees Hostel) 34 minutes by car plus traffic.

When we got back to the hostel, I really wanted to see I am a hero, a Japanese live action movie (from the manga). It was awesome because we watched it on the projector.


The next morning, we checked out because I booked a train ticket online from Pasar Senen station to Lempuyangan station Yogyakarta. I called a go-car and went to the station without any worries.

Since we've already booked our ticket online (at tiket dot com), it was easier to check-in and the officer in charge was the one who did everything for us lol.

One thing I like about Pasar Senen station is it was so clean! I don't wanna brag but guise from Philippines, you get my point. 

Hey guyth, before boarding the train to Yogyakarta. I strongly suggest you buy as many food as you can hoard because these were the only snacks we bought and they weren't enough for the 9-hour train ride lol. By the way, sari roti MUST-TRY lol.

Nevertheless we managed the grueling hours by just water intake, we're used to fasting to tell the truth so okay lang, we survived lol. This train seemed very local and fully booked fortunately. We had conversations with Indonesians seated behind and in front of us, it was rather enlightening.

 Here are some photos I took inside using my Iphone.

Jogja here we come!

That was absolutely our first time riding a local subway, the scenery was breathtaking furthermore. I will continue my next blog about our first backpacking in Yogyakarta soon. I'm really excited to write the continuation. Thank you so much for taking the time to read. 

I will now give a summary of this story, just a breakdown of what we brought, where we ate and stayed.

  • Arriving in Soekarno-Hatta international airport. We rode a blue taxi group cab which is an expensive company but you can trust them arriving at your destination on time without further echos (for example other taxis will give you a tour around Jakarta and eventually the fee goes high). Just tell the driver to use the meter. From airport to Sofyan Hotel Betawi Menteng we paid 150,000 idr (shown on the meter) without any additional fees.
  • I booked a room at Sofyan Hotel Betawi Menteng through booking dot com app. (download the app because it's a lot easier and faster). Breakfast buffet is already included and wifi in the room. Their Indonesian breakfast is a must-try!
  • For foreign charger plugs or trinkets, you can buy a universal electrical socket at Ace hardware in Menteng Huis, a walking distance from Sofyan Hotel. 
  • There are many cafes and restaurants nearby Menteng and Cikini, if you open your google maps, you can find lots of them.
  • You can buy Indonesian snacks at 7eleven in Cikini. There are plenty which you couldn't find here in the Philippines.
  • Learn Bahasa Indonesia when you're in Jakarta.
  • Don't buy any souvenirs just yet, wait til' you get to Yogyakarta.
  • I brought my laptop that's because I did some research and I was also doing a little blogging at that time. You can either bring it or not but apparently, Indonesia has a very good internet connection.
  • Always bring/withdraw IDR cash in change and 50s, not just hundreds and debit/credit cards, usually items/fees in Indonesia start at 2,000 idr.
  • Book train tickets online at tiket dot com, it's faster! Perhaps if you're an adventurer like me, book the cheapest one haha!
  • Say thank you and smile, don't worry! Enjoy Jakarta! :D
Ask me anything and if you wanna share this blog please do, thank you. :)

To be continued...

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