Siem Reap, literally meaning the defeat of Siam (now called Thailand), is the capital city of Siem Reap province in the northwest side of Cambodia. It is the most touristic city in Cambodia, thanks to Angkor Archaeological Park, housing most beautiful ancient temples, from Angkor Wat, Bayon until Ta Phrom, where Angelina Jolie did her Tomb Raider movie.
However, Siem Reap is not just about old temples. At night, the city center comes to live, especially on Pub Street since there are discotheques, bars and pubs on street – as it is called. But, there are also many restaurants and cafes serving traditional Khmer, Thai, Vietnamese, western food, as well as street food, including insects.
Suppose you have been to Thailand, China or Vietnam, then you know that insects are popular street food in touristic areas. So is Cambodia.
SNACKING INSECTS: HOW DO THEY TASTE?
Usually, the insects are meant for snacking. They are deep fried and served in skewers to make them easier to eat on the go. The most common ones you will find are tarantula, scorpion, snake, cocoon and cockroach, sold for $1 each. For a real foodie who loves challenges, these experience should not be missed. Nonetheless, what if you’ve got the curiosity but got no guts to try them because of their unappealing “look” that make you lost an appetite?
FYI, all these insects are previously marinated and fried before serving. It helps them to get decent taste like any other common meat you eat.
What if I give you some cheat sheet on how they taste according to my sense of taste as the first step to leave your comfort zone? Perhaps, once hater, you’ll become a lover.
Tarantula is a much bigger version of a spider. The 8-legged long and hairy legs may disgust you, but here’s what I found out. The meat is soft and flossy like beef floss and has a savory taste. In fact, this is my favorite of all insects I tried!
Scorpion has a bit chewy shell, if not hard, although after being deep fried. The meat is savory, too, but not as flossy as tarantula.
Snake meat tastes like chicken, no specific odor and smell, but slightly chewy. Just imagine that you eat fried chicken skewers with a shape like a rope.
Cocoon has a soft jelly-ish texture and taste fishy, that reminds me of fish eggs. This is not really my cup of tea, but certain friends I know love it.
The only thing I haven’t tried is the fried cockroach skewers. Have you?
RULES OF PHOTOGRAPHY
A stall with insects on trays grabs attention very quickly, especially for pictures. Please note that there are certain rules on taking pictures of these peculiar food. If you take a picture of the stall from the distance, a closer look of the stall with trays of fried insects with or without the vendor, that’s fine. In other words, it’s free.
However, suppose being more viral on social media or posting instagrammable picture is your priority, like holding the tarantula skewer or (pretending to) eat the scorpion skewer for instance, you need to buy the product first. Holding 1 product in your hand means $1. Posing with 4 products means $4. As simple as that.
On Pub Street, I found 2 stalls selling the insect snacks like the ones I captured, but the rules remain the same. I even think that both are probably from the same owner.
NO HASSLE FOR CURRENCY EXCHANGE
Last but not least, although Cambodian Riel (KHR) is the local currency, the US Dollar is so widely used in nearly all transactions, from paying hotel bills until a $0.50 beer in pubs. So, for those who have US Dollars, there’s no need for currency exchange in KHR. FYI, 1 USD = 4.063 KHR.
So, are you ready to fly to Siem Reap and snacking some insects?
As we all know, monkeys are intelligent animals in many ways, even considered the closest relatives to human beings. Nonetheless, when it comes to interacting with people, there are pros and cons. Some say they are cute and lovely, some say they are nasty and dangerous. Which one do you think is right?
For me, they are just unpredictable. So I stay safe when I face them. Don’t wear accessories, from earrings, a hat to sunglasses. Don’t feed them. Don’t touch them. When they climb on me, keep calm until they go down themselves. The only thing I dare to is to look at them and take pictures, but trying my best not too close to the subjects.
But a single shot experience in Buleleng may change my perception about monkeys. FYI, Buleleng is a regency situated in the north side of Bali, whose capital city is Singaraja. Suppose you’ve been to Kuta and Denpasar in south Bali, it takes about 2 hours drive from the south to the north. It is said that the monkeys in Buleleng are nice and don’t steal stuff.
ARE THESE MONKEYS THAT NICE?
When I was on my way up to Wanagiri Village, passing the hilly road in Buleleng, my dad asked the driver to pull over and stop the car on the side of the street full of long-tailed monkeys.
“Here?” I asked with disbelieve.
I’d always thought that the location would be either a park, a sanctuary or a zoo. Forget about a place like Monkey Forest in Ubud. It’s actually located on the side of the busy street, facing the beautiful lake Buyan and Tamblingan. No entrance fee needed to see these monkeys. They were just everywhere, especially in the forest where they reside across the street. I could even see them from the car window.
When I got off from the car, I saw a lady leaving the hut nearby, bringing a basket of peanuts and bananas, and started feeding a fat monkey with peanuts. However, he hissed, showing his small yet sharp teeth and eyes wide open. I was a bit shocked.
“That’s all right. He just wants bananas, not peanuts.” She tried to calm me down, convincing that feeding monkeys in the area is safe. I didn’t know monkeys could be so demanding.
Having changed the bait into a banana, the fat monkey, let’s call him Jack, quickly grabbed and enjoyed it for himself.
Next, she fed the smaller monkey, let’s call him Chad, on top of the roof. Later on, she gave me a turn to feed the perpetually hungry monkeys, passing me the basket. Since I know it wouldn’t be for free, I asked her how much it is.
Rp. 20.000 ($1.5) for a basket filled with 7 pieces of banana and a handful of peanuts is not too expensive compared to buying banana for Rp. 10.000 ($ 0.80) per piece in Monkey Forest. You can bring your own food, but I wasn’t ready. Anyways, she or anyone else in charge for the monkeys would be much happier if you get a basket of food from her or him.
I started giving a piece of banana to Chad, yet he unexpectedly move a few steps behind. The lady suggested me to move my hand further toward the monkey, therefore he could reach the food more easily. Well, I was just being cautious no matter how tame they are, that’s all.
However, in seconds, I noticed that real the reason why Chad couldn’t grab the peanuts from my hand was because he didn’t dare to step further. He could have done that, but Jack was standing in front of the hut while staring at the rooftop. It turned out that Chad was intimidated by Jack’s presence.
That also happened to other monkeys whose body size were just like Chad. I fed all of them equally, interchangeably between peanuts and bananas. However, when Jack was near them, they kept the distance from him, even ran away until the situation is “safe”.
Jack was indeed territorial as if he ran the world. He only wanted the food for himself, not really pleased when other smaller monkeys accepted it from men’s hands. He even chased those monkeys, including Chad, trying to scare them off. I did my best to give all the content in the basket for those poor monkeys, rather than Jack. Although I still spare some for Jack.
Despite Jack’s domination and the poor monkeys, it is true that they are more “polite” than those in other areas. They only approach you when there’s food in your hands meant for them. Nothing more. They don’t grab sunglasses, hats or accessories. They don’t climb on you. They don’t bite. In one condition: as long as you don’t touch them.
A few days later, we passed the same street, going down to the airport. I spotted some tourists holding a camera feeding the same monkeys I fed last time. Due to the development of tourism in north Bali, the cuteness of the monkeys is getting more popular. Feeding them is indeed a fun activity for many.
FUN, YET NOT WISE
Nonetheless, weeks after returning home, I accidentally stumbled upon on Mongabay, an environment news site, mentioning that actually it is unwise to feed them because nowadays the monkeys are 3 times fatter than how it should be. Overfeeding does not only have an impact on their health, but also changes their surviving behaviour in the wild and increase their aggressiveness on searching for food.
If I knew it from the start, I wouldn’t have done what I did.
In that case, local government should educate its people on side effects of offering monkey feeding activities for tourists to earn money, although it’s not a quick scheme to get the expected results to protect the future of long-tailed monkeys population.
Tugu Kunstkring Paleis is situated in Gondangdia, an administrative village in Menteng district in South Jakarta, Indonesia. Menteng itself was designated to be a middle to high end residential area in Jakarta during the Dutch colony era developed between 1910 and 1918 by a Dutch architect Pieter Adriaan Jacobus Moojen from NV. Bouwploeg, the first property and architecture firm in the capital city of Indonesia, whose building now has been functioning into Cut Meutia Mosque since 1987.
Suppose you notice the word “Boplo” used in the neigbourhood of Gondangdia, such as Pasar Boplo (Boplo Market) and Gado-Gado Boplo restaurant, actually it has something to do with Bouwploeg. “Boplo” is a local way of saying Bouwploeg (of NV. Bouwploeg) since it is too hard to pronounce for most people.
PAJ Moojen’s next project was to build a Dutch rationalist architecture style building called Bataviasche Kunstkring (Batavia Circle of Art) in 1913. Inaugurated by Willem Frederik Idenburg, the governor of Dutch Indies in 1914, it signified the first property building ever created by NV Bouwploeg after its own head office.
The building held several art related exhibitions, from paintings, music performances, until a gathering spot for art lovers. It reached a higher reputation after exhibiting finest works of Van Gogh, Chagall, Picasso and Gauguin between 1939 and 1943.
After 1942, the function changed into The Islamic Council of Indonesia main office, Central Jakarta Immigration Office, until Buddha Bar that brought a controversy. Since 2013, Tugu Hotels and Restaurants Group renamed it into Tugu Kunstkring Paleis and transformed it into a fine dining restaurant that simultaneously becomes an art gallery like how it used to be.
NOSTALGIC DINING ROOMS AND GALLERIES
Exhibiting antiquity inheritance from Oei Tiong Ham, a sugar trading tycoon, the old glory of Bataviasche Kunstkring has returned. Not only did a courteous waiter instantly welcomed us once we stepped in a century-year-old heritage building, but also opulence and prosperity, accentuated by gold and red colours used in many objects.
Passing the gracious golden gate with “MN” initials, that belonged to one of the Surakarta Kingdoms, Mangkunegaran, we headed to the dining rooms, bar, wine tasting, gift shop, ballroom and a balcony. Also, don’t miss the cozy coffee and bread corner situated on the left side of the entrance door before the golden gate. It’s simply a perfect place to get light snacks and zipping coffee, tea or traditional hot drinks like wedang jahe (ginger drink), for instance.
The biggest dining room in Tugu Kunstring Paleis is Diponegoro Room. The 9-meter-painting of “The Fall of Java” painted by the restaurant owner, Anhar Setjadibrata, is the most sought object in the room. The Fall of Java is the 3rd version of “Submission of Prince Diponegoro to General De Kock” by Nicolas Pieneman, whose 2nd version is “The Arrest of Prince Diponegoro” by Raden Saleh. Other Surakarta Kingdom treasures are golden crown-shaped canopies with “PB” initials, that stands for Pakubuwono, placed above the paintings on sides of the room.
Go straight ahead to the giant Diponegoro painting and turn left, then you will find an oriental style lounge so-called Suzie Wong Bar. The bar name is inspired by a famous novel by Richard Mason in 1957. The love story about a prostitute named Suzie Wong with Robert Lomax, an American architect, was a hit when it was filmed in 1960’s. The original movie posters from a theater in Menteng is displayed on both sides of the bar. It felt homey at the lounge as if we visited someone’s peranakan house with an intense Chinese atmosphere, from lanterns on the ceiling, wooden partition, engraving, until a Hong Kong style rickshaw. I personally love this lounge so much!
The next room on the right side of Diponegoro Room is brighter than any other rooms since the sunshine can pass through the windows and glass roof. Apart from dining tables, it displays local souvenirs and artworks for sale, such as accessories, pillows, pottery and many more.
Also, check out the 3-tier rack dedicated to Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, aka Ahok or BTP, a former Jakarta governor known for his straight forward, strong-willed attitude, honest and once jailed for blasphemy case for 18 months.
Besides communal dining rooms, Tugu Kunstring Paleis has 8 other private rooms, occupying from 4 to 25 guests. Each room has its own name, mostly inspired by prominent people in Indonesian history (Soekarno 1950, Raden Saleh and Multatuli Room), legendary Greek God (Hercules Room), and a popular classic movie (Darna Room), which is also one of the owner’s favorite movies.
Of all the beautifully-decorated rooms, the most impressive one is Soekarno 1950 room. Depicting a small part of a great man’s life, a large painting of Soekarno surrounded by Balinese dancers and clippings of his burial procession are some memorabilia of Indonesia’s first president that are well-kept in the room, occupying up to 25 guests.
To access these private rooms, we took an elevator to the 2nd floor. Taking pictures are allowed, as long as you don’t use any professional camera with a tripod. Lights and air conditioner are usually off unless the rooms are used to save electricity and to protect the paintings from colour fading.
There’s also a painting gallery on the 3rd floor, which is also a ballroom available for bookings, including the balcony.
Indeed, we were mesmerized by every detail put in the interior of the paleis, a Dutch word for palace. Nostalgic feeling is inevitable, dragging us to the glory of the old times long before we were born. The invaluable treasures are not only heaven for art lovers, but also become part of human civilization. They also remind us that we can learn a lot from the history behind them, especially someone (important) once owned and used them.
When you go down, take the stairs instead of the elevator, observe the red walls along the way as it displays pictures of the heritage building from time to time dated 100 years ago.
Additionally, I advise you to visit all the rooms after finishing your meals, since you may be carried away by its beauty that you forget that your orders could be already cold after returning to your table.
IS THE FOOD AS GOOD AS THE GALLERY?
The lavishness and precious antiquities inside the building that ceaselessly amaze me only left one question. Is the food and beverage quality as good as the majestic palace? I mean, it’s not my first time to dine in a fancy restaurant with so-so or even lousy taste.
Serving Indonesian, oriental and western cuisine, we decided to try the Indonesian food to celebrate my mom’s birthday. Keluwak Fried Rice (Rp. 78,000 / $6) is one of the menus I recommend. Keluwak is a black fruit with sweet taste used in popular East Javanese cuisine, rawon (keluwak beef black soup). Inspired by rawon, the fried rice is mixed with keluwak, turning it into dark brown colour. The condiments, such as prawn crackers, raw bean sprouts, chili and beef, are the same as those in rawon, except cucumber and fried egg. I love the savoury taste with hints of sweetness and spices.
Gulai Iga Kambing or mutton rib curry (Rp 108,000 / $9) is definitely my favorite! The meat is soft, tender, and the intense smell of the mutton is successfully lessened to the minimum. The curry taste itself is just right, not too thick and not too light. Moreover, the veggies and baby potatoes are served in generous amount. The price is considered affordable, as it is not much different compared to those mutton meals at the malls with such a quality.
Although I think the Keluwak Fried Rice is more unique, the Nasi Lemak Kunstkring (Rp 88,000 / $7) is worth to try as well. It’s savoury rice mixed with salted fish, fried chicken wings, kangkung belacan (watercress with shrimp paste sauce), omelette, cucumber relish and black baby squid. I love the baby black squid, by the way, as the black sauce from squid ink completely rocks!
From mocktails, tea, coffee, cocktails, smoothies, traditional iced drinks until wines and beers, Tugu Kunstring Paleis has it all. In my first visit with Wisata Kreatif Jakarta, I tried Meik Wei Meik Wei (Rp. 45,000 / $3.5), one of the best-selling mocktails with concoction of fresh lime, strawberry, sprite and brown sugar. A great choice for those who search for refreshment after dealing with hot weather.
I was curious with the home made Lemongrass Tea (Rp. 42,000 / $3.5), especially it’s made of freshly boiled and smashed lemongrass. Therefore I took it in my second visit. I think a simple drink will do best for heavy and strong taste meals. The lemongrass tea didn’t disappoint me at all. It tastes tangy, lemony, earthy and refreshing at the same time.
I heard from another guest that the Pisang Goreng Raja or Raja banana fritters (Rp. 48,000 / $4) is very good because the bananas are carefully selected and tastes naturally sweet. I haven’t tried this, but perhaps you can prove it in your next visit.
In general, it costs approximately between Rp 150,000 and Rp 200,000 ($13 to $18) per person, which a bit costly, yet still makes sense. Tugu Kunstkring Paleis has great quality of food and beverage with service excellence, where all guests are treated like kings and queens. Moreover, the grandiose, lavish interior, surrounded by precious antiquities that could grab a lot of attention makes your visit unforgettable.
Tugu Kunstkring Paleis
Address: Jl. Teuku Umar No.1, RT.1/RW.1, Gondangdia, Menteng, Kota Jakarta Pusat, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta 10350
Can a modest food stall beat and inspire a higher end restaurant at the hotel? In some cases, yes. Warung Sop Buntut Cut Meutia (Cut Meutia Oxtail Soup Eatery), is one of the examples.
Opened in 1970 by Hj. Nurjanah, Warung Sop Buntut Cut Meutia operates for the first time under its original and unusual name, Warung Semoga, literally meaning Hopefully Stall. The present name, Warung Sop Buntut Cut Meutia, is actually easier to remember because it’s taken from the closest landmark of the stall, which is Cut Meutia Mosque in Menteng, South Jakarta.
Approximately, in 1972, a Pertamina (a state petroleum company) director had business trips to Jakarta and became a regular guest in Borobudur Hotel. During his stay, most of the time he ate oxtail soup at Warung Semoga instead of consuming food from the hotel. . One day, the hotel management was curious and sent one of their chefs to their loyal guest’s favourite warung to taste the famous oxtail soup and find out its secret recipe.
Finally, Borobudur Hotel launched their own oxtail soup restaurant called Sop Buntut Bogor Cafe in 1973. Nowadays, it has several branches in notable shopping malls, such as Pacific Place and Pondok Indah Mall. It is not told, however, if it succeeded to persuade the Pertamina director to switch his loyalty to the hotel’s restaurant.
Leaving from Museum Joang 45, Gondangdia Food Tour members from Wisata Kreatif Jakarta and I took about 10 minutes on foot to the Sop Buntut Cut Meutia. We arrived at 11 o’clock, which was an hour earlier than scheduled, thanks to one of the team member’s idea.
Situated in the alley of Jalan Menteng Kecil no. 4/5, Menteng, Central Jakarta, modesty is the first impression of the famous oxtail soup eatery outlook, but its cleanliness is well-maintained. Woven partition replaces the façade wall. Inside, there are framed pictures attached on the orange wall of the family’s founder and artists who visited the eatery.
Accommodating about 30 guests maximum with high traffic at lunch time ever single day, we were lucky enough to be there earlier, so everyone got seats. There are a few more seats available, though very limited, and a grill machine on the extension site on the other side of the alley.
Basically, they offer 4 types of oxtail soup dishes, such as Sop Buntut Rebus (steamed oxtail soup), Sop Buntut Super (super oxtail soup), Sop Buntut Goreng (fried oxtail soup) and Sop Buntut Bakar (grilled oxtail soup).
Sop Buntut Rebus (steamed oxtail soup) is oxtail soup mixed with sliced meat, sold for Rp, 45,000 ($ 3.5). The other option is Sop Buntut Super (super oxtail soup), that contains entirely oxtail soup without sliced meat, sold for Rp 50,000 ($ 4). The latter two, fried oxtail soup and grilled oxtail soup, are served with clear soup in a separate bowl.
I personally would go for the Sop Buntut Super, that’s for sure.
For those who don’t feel like eating oxtail, there are chicken skewers, mutton skewers, perkedel (fried patty made of mashed potato with minced meat), teri kentang (fried shredded spicy potato with anchovy) and udang balado (hot and spicy mixture with prawn).
One thing you need to be aware of about this warung sop buntut is that the waiters’ habit of not taking notes of your orders, regardless the situation. So, yeah, in case you change your mind in a minute or two, or your orders don’t come, just inform them (again).
One special characteristic of the oxtail meat in Warung Sop Buntut Cut Meutia that any other restaurants and eateries don’t have is the reddish colour of the meat, which is seen very clearly in the steamed oxtail soup. The tenderness of the oxtail meat was top notch. Served with fresh cut tomato and carrot, the clear soup had a light, refreshing taste, emphasizing the juiciness of the oxtail broth.
I had a bite of the grilled oxtail soup from the tour member and lovin’ it. I suggest to slurp the soup simultaneously, since it harmonizes and balances the sweetness from the home made barbecue sauce dominated with sweet soy sauce.
There’s no doubt that the warung serves higher grade of the oxtail, yet sold in affordable price. It cost me Rp. 56,000 ($ 4), including the orange juice for Rp. 6000 ($ .50), which is indeed very cheap compared to those in Sop Buntut Bogor and other restaurants at the mall, that could cost over Rp. 100,000 ($ 8), excluding the beverage.
Besides the one we visited in Central Jakarta, Sop Buntut Cut Meutia has several branches Jakarta and one in Lampung, South Sumatera. It also participates in some big culinary events, such as Festival Jajanan Bango in March 2019.
I just can’t get enough with this oxtail soup warung and one day I would return to either get the same Sop Buntut Super or try the grilled oxtail soup for myself.
My advise is to come earlier to avoid peak hours for more comfortable dining experience and to make sure that you won’t run out of the legendary oxtail once you visit the warung. However, if don’t feel like queuing on the spot, you can order it online through Go-Food and GrabFood.
Warung Sop Buntut Cut Meutia
Address:No. 4/5, Jl. Menteng Kecil, RT.9/RW.5, Kb. Sirih, Menteng, Kota Jakarta Pusat, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta 10340
My hometown Jakarta is the capital and the biggest city in Indonesia situated in Java island. Over the years, the 491 year-old city has developed into the busiest, the most populated city in the country due to fast economic growth, and also known for having one of the worst traffic jams in the world. Moreover, overloaded shopping malls overshadow the city’s historical elements. I even had no idea where to take my friends from overseas when they visited Jakarta besides shopping malls. The only historical site I know is Kota Tua (literally means old town), nothing else. What a shame!
Thanks to the growing trend of walking tours in Jakarta, organized by Jakarta Good Guide and Wisata Kreatif Jakarta for instance, not only are foreign tourists able to explore each area of Jakarta without traffic jam. But also for Jakarta residence like me, walking tours introduce alternative ways to enjoy the city other than hanging out in shopping malls, from visiting survived historical buildings turned into museums, Dutch heritage railway station, culinary spots until places of worship from different religions.
After joining walking tours since 2017, it’s a wake up call for me that I have very little knowledge about the rich history and diverse culture in my own city regardless how many years I’ve been living. To be honest, it’s been an interesting experience related to my travel life. I have become somewhat addicted in participating in the tours and it’s been my 8th time already and still counting.
Indeed, Jakarta is not only about shopping malls and it doesn’t necessarily take a thousand miles or land somewhere far far away to call it travelling.
MUST VISIT SPOTS THAT ARE NOT SHOPPING MALLS
Of all the places I visited, mostly with the troops from Wisata Kreatif Jakarta, these are my favourite places of interest in Jakarta you should not miss, that are definitely not shopping malls:
Tugu Kunstkring Paleis
Tugu Kunstkring Paleis, originally named Bataviasche Kunstkring, was created by a Dutch architect Pieter Adriaan Jacobus Moojen from NV. Bouwploeg, the first property and architecture firm in Jakarta during the Dutch colony period. It was opened in 1914 to hold fine and decorative art exhibitions. Van Gogh, Chagall, Picasso and Gauguin paintings were among other finest works exhibited between 1939 and 1943.
After 1942, the function changed into the Islamic Council of Indonesia main office, immigration office, until Buddha Bar that brought a controversy. Since 2013, Tugu Hotels and Restaurants Group renamed it into Tugu Kunstkring Paleis and transformed it into a fine dining restaurant serving Indonesian and peranakan cuisine. The Dutch rationalist architecture style building also provides cafe, bar, wine tasting, gift shop, ball room and a balcony.
Exhibiting antiquity inheritance from Oei Tiong Ham, a sugar trading tycoon, the old glory of Bataviasche Kunstkring has returned. A golden gate (for real) and other precious artifacts from 2 Surakarta Kingdoms and a 9-meter-painting of “The Fall of Java” by Anhar Setjadibrata (the restaurant owner), inspired by Raden Saleh painting, decorated Diponegoro Room. The original memorabilia of Soekarno, Indonesia’s first president, is well-kept in Soekarno room on the 2nd floor, a private dining room occupying up to 25 guests. Each room has its own unique name inspired by prominent people in Indonesian history, such as Diponegoro, Soekarno, Multatuli, the owner’s favorite movie, Darna, and a legendary Greek god, Hercules. The bar name, Suzie Wong, is inspired by a famous novel by Richard Mason in 1957.
The 3-storey building has an elevator to comfort those who are not willing to climb the stairs to the top. If you take the stairs, observe the walls along the way as it displays nostalgic pictures of Tugu Kunstkring Paleis dated 100 years ago.
The fine dining restaurant plus gallery has a free entrance. All you have to do is to try their refreshing mocktails, such as Meik Wei Meik Wei, the best-selling Grand Rijsttafel Betawi, etc, and take your time as much as you like to see all the invaluable antique collections in each side and corner of the room.
Museum Taman Prasasti
Museum Taman Prasasti (Inscription Museum) was built in 1795 and little known that it is also the first public cemetery in the world. The land was inherited by Van Riemsdijk, the 30th governor-general of Dutch East Indies, for the last resting place of Protestant prominent people and government officials, such as Marius Hulswit (the architect of Cathedral Church in Jakarta), Olivia Mariamne Raffles (the first wife of Thomas Stanford Raffles, a Lieutenant General of Dutch Indies during British occupation), Dr. HF. Roll (the founder of STOVIA, School of Medicine, now University of Indonesia (UI) and many more).
The cemetery was closed in 1975 and all the remaining bodies of the deceased were taken by their families. Since July 9, 1977, it has been transformed into a museum.
What makes the open air museum so particular and funny at the same time is that the former Protestant cemetery looks like the Catholic one, which is more lavish because of the abundant of angle statues situated almost everywhere in the neighborhood and a Jesus Christ statue on top of Kapitein Jas’ grave. This happens due to lack of understanding the differences between Catholic and Protestant although both religions are derived from the same root, Christian religion.
Despite the misconceptions, I think the statues enhance the beauty of the museum and has become one of favorite locations for photo hunting and pre-wedding photography.
Ereveld Menteng Pulo
While Père Lachaise in Paris and Okunoin in Koyasan are popular cemeteries for tourist attractions, many Indonesian people still think otherwise about cemeteries. Dirty, slummy and haunted are the first impressions when they heard about it. I can’t blame them, though, since it’s unfortunately the fact that there are still many cemeteries in the country are untreated because of bad management and ignorance. Nonetheless, visiting Ereveld Menteng Pulo may change stereotypes about cemeteries.
Ereveld Menteng Pulo is a war cemetery managed by The Netherlands War Graves Foundation (OGS), to provide a resting place of over 4000 World War II victims between 1942 and 1945, both Dutch and Indonesian nationalities, against Japan. To reduce the amount of Ereveld in Indonesia from 22 to 7 cemeteries, victims from outside Java island were reburied in Ereveld Menteng Pulo between 1960 and 1970. Unlike other war cemeteries, most victims are civilians, including children, who died from Japanese concentration camp. Only one-fourth of them were on military duty.
Compared to other 6 Ereveld in Indonesia, Ereveld Menteng Pulo is the most beautiful of all. A lotus pond outside Simultaan Church and Columbarium, a place to store ashes of 754 Dutch soldiers. Assorted flowers in several spots within the 29,000 square-meter land. Seats with a shelter to protect visitors from heat and rain. My first impression about Ereveld menteng Pulo is that it’s a very well-maintained and peaceful garden in the middle of a concrete jungle. There’s a moment that I forgot that I’m still in Jakarta. Also, I heard that it has a magnificent view to catch the sunset, too.
The challenge when the cemetery is open to public is to educate the locals to break negative perceptions about a cemetery and realize that it’s a potential tourist destination when they help maintaining its cleanliness and comfort by avoiding the bad habit of littering and vandalism.
Situated behind Novotel Jakarta Gajah Mada Hotel, Candra Naya was built somewhere around 1807 or 1867. It is a former residence of Major Khouw Kim An, the last Major of the Chinese (Majoor der Chinezen), a leader of Chinese society during the Dutch colony period from 1910 to 1918 and from 1927 to 1942. Therefore, the building was also known as the Major’s House. After the major’s passing, the house was rented to Sin Ming Hui Association in 1960s, holding many social-oriented activities, including Sin Ming Hui Photographic Society, the oldest photography community in Jakarta.
After the prohibition of the three-syllable names (aka Chinese names) in Indonesia, Sin Ming Hui Association was renamed into Tjandra Naya Social Union, whose spelling has changed into Candra Naya.
The demolition of the 3 original buildings at the back side of Candra Naya by Modern Group in 1993 to build Green Central City, a superblock of apartments and offices, raised protests from heritage conservation groups. Finally, the only survived part is the front side of the house, consisting of a living room, semi-private room, room for maids, concubines and their children and the gazebo.
Apart from historical visit, Candra Naya is also a popular place to chill out with friends and family. There are seats available outside the rear entrance, facing the pond and fountain. Around the neighborhood, there are several restaurants, such as Kopi Oey (Peranakan food), Token Resto (Taiwanese restaurant), and Fubar (Chinese restaurant).
Museum Maritim, or Maritime Museum is situated in the neighbourhood of the port of Tanjung Priok. Starting its soft opening since December 7, 2018, Maritime Museum exhibits the history of maritime in Indonesia over the centuries, from Majapahit, Sriwijaya, Mataram Kingdom until modern times. It includes the role of Indonesia in international spice trading until an interesting and less-known history of where the usual term of “celengan” (piggy bank) comes from, that eventually related to how Majapahit Kingdom introduced a habit of saving money in a piggy-shaped container (piggy bank).
To be honest, it is so much better than I expected and has reached the next level, just like those in developed countries. The layout is visually comfortable, spacious, including the reading room where visitors can take a rest and read provided books and magazines. Dioramas and historical artifacts have better quality compared to those in other museums I’ve visited in Jakarta. The simulator of a ship, where you can get a chance to be a helmsman, is one of the most interesting part of the museum. Don’t forget to visit the rooftop as well, where you can see the top view of Port Tanjung Priok and its surroundings.
THAT’S NOT IT
If I don’t mention other beautiful places in Jakarta, it’s probably either because I haven’t visited them or I don’t have proper images to show you. So, there will be the second part of this post. Remember, Jakarta is more than just shopping malls. So, stay tuned!
Indeed, it’s possible! But, what is GPSmyCity and what are the benefits for travelers?
GPSmyCity is an app providing articles covering over 1,000 cities worldwide. Once you install the app either on iOS or Android through www.gpsmycity.com , you can download each article for free and read it in the future without internet connection.
All articles are embedded with GPS map that will function after upgrading with a small amount of fee. There’s no need to ask anyone for a direction or read a conventional map on your own any longer to find a place you want to go, that will save a lot of time and cut the hassle during your journey. The best thing about it is that the GPS works even when you’re offline. Isn’t it great?
After traveling for many years, I realize that wi-fi connection is one of the essentials you don’t always get easily when you’re abroad, except depending on hotels and cafes or data roaming packages that may break your bank account. So, I believe that GPSmyCity is a breakthrough app for travelers like us.
Therefore, I’m happy to announce that my articles:
During the first week of the launch, GPSmyCity will give away one of my articles, Indian Vegetarian Restaurants in Pasar Baru, Jakarta – https://www.gpsmycity.com/blog/5491 , and users will be able to upgrade the app for free.
Remember, the giveaway is available only until February 11, 2019.
May I wish you all a very happy new year and thank you for reading and / or following my blog.
Actually, I would like to reward my new and existing followers with a prize. Last May 2018, in collaboration with GPSmyCity, I launched a giveaway contest to win afree one year subscription (worth $18.99/year) on walking tours and travel articles that work for iOS and Android users for 10 winners.
Therefore I feel somewhat guilty this new year because I haven’t announced the winners of the contest as a gratitude. Probably, most of you have forgotten or think the contest is just another pep talk. I get it and so sorry about that.
Without further much ado, here are the 10 winners (drumrolls, please…..):