Jones sat beside me in class for most of the time during my upper secondary school days.
He went to Canada after ‘O’ levels (good move) and only returned to Indonesia recently after
gallivanting finishing his studies there.
Despite the distance and years we still kept in touch and would meet up whenever he was back in town.
Despite our apparent chummy-ness, it must be still a surprise for him when I texted about the trip less than a week prior to the arrival.
Well being a good friend he rescheduled his some of his (less important) appointments to accommodate us.
In return he e-mailed me for a really small favor from Singapore.
“I know this is pretty embarrassing haha… Well, I’m planning to buy a x’mas gift for my friend (ok… I gotta admit haha… it’s for a female friend that I’m going after haha)… I’m thinking of getting her a set of make up brushes.”
Which was followed by more detailed instructions and descriptions.
How could I reject Casanova?
Cost-wise, I can only say that there are many Indonesians who survive monthly on less than what he paid for those brushes.
Jones also brought along another old schoolmate Jony (whom I hadn’t met for a long time) just in case his small Fortuner couldn’t fit us all.
A scan through CGK’s carpark revealed that Indonesians aren’t exactly tree huggers with all the SUVs there.
I thought that I grasped my first rule of the Indonesian social hierarchy: anyone’s who’s anybody in Jakarta drives an SUV.
The Fortuner and Jony’s CR-V was more than enough and the five of us were split up en route to our first destination: Pantai Indah Kapuk (PIK).
According to my Indonesian friend, the name means “pretty cotton beach” and we were driven into a gated community mainly populated by well-to-do ethnic Chinese.
The development has a Mediterranean theme and its location by the sea means that the house owners can always park a yacht or two.
And there was this unfinished building which could potentially rival the White House when it is completed.
To be honest I was pretty awestruck by what we were witnessing around the neighborhood.
Our Indonesian friends brought us to Warung Tekko, an Indonesian restaurant which is famous for iga (beef ribs) and has a branch in the neighborhood.
The ribs were unbelievably tender and the side dishes weren’t too bad either.
I think that it’s worth trying if one ever visits Jakarta.
During the meal, I also found out the second rule of the Indonesian social hierarchy: anyone’s who’s anybody in Jakarta uses a Blackberry.
The locals decided that Sunday wasn’t a good day to visit Monas due to the crowds and suggested a car tour around the area instead.
Those of us in Jones’ car wouldn’t have a good understanding of Indonesian history since his knowledge was sketchy at best.
For instance we were told Istiqlal Mosque isn’t the largest mosque in Indonesia. (It is.)
But he still impressed us with his social network…
“Can you see that building? I know the owner…”
… as well as entertained us with his pragmatism.
“I don’t know why the government built those roundabouts. The fountains and statues aren’t even pretty and they only cause traffic jams.”
Third rule of Indonesia social hierarchy: anyone’s who’s anybody in Jakarta goes to Social House.
It’s a restaurant/bar/winepost where the rich locals and expats go to see and be seen.
Unfortunately most of us were underdressed and preferred to see rather than be seen.
Nevertheless we spent some good time there catching up.
To its credit, the place has a view of the statues and fountains which Jones was referring to earlier.
Jones had some important appointment which he couldn’t reschedule (read: attending church with girl) so Jony brought us to a popular place to get foot massages.
Since there were two of us who didn’t fancy massages, we decided to go for a walk.
Well Jakarta clearly wasn’t built for pedestrians and there was hardly any pavement.
Despite the broken sidewalk and bad traffic Jony was nice enough to accompany us for our walk.
We chatted while we walked and it was fascinating to learn about his job as an analyst in Boston Consulting Group and his views on the thriving industries in Indonesia.
The sun was setting by the time the rest were done with their massages and we all were ready for dinner.
Like any seafood restaurant worth its salt one could pick out what they will like for their next meal from the aquariums.
Bamboo clam is my favorite seafood at the moment.
Of course we were all happy diners.
Bandar Djakarta is a popular place with families and many people were having birthday celebrations there.
After the dinner we were off to find some place to chill and catch up.
Jones impressed us yet again with his knowledge of where to find ‘car-shaking’ actions.
We ended up at Le Bridge, a restaurant in the middle of a bay where we spent the rest of the evening reminiscing about the good old times.