central park jakarta

West Jakarta Cityscape Tourists Overlook: Evening in Central Park

WEST JAKARTA ATTRACTION: MORE THAN JUST OLD TOWN 

When it comes to a short stay in Jakarta, especially in the west side of Indonesia’s capital, The Old Town (Kota Tua) and Chinatown, where both are situated nearby, are the most visited destinations for tourists.

Nonetheless, West Jakarta is quite a big piece, stretching about 129.54 km2 (50.02 sq mi) and consisting of 8 sub-districts, thus historical sites are not the only ones defining the identity of the west. The growing population over the years in “newer” areas also contributes today’s culture and lifestyle.

Not to mention the spreading of big shopping malls in several areas and districts in West Jakarta since the end of 1990’s, that were once only located in South and Central Jakarta.

The presence of shopping malls in Jakarta is more than just about shopping. They actually apply the concept of superblock, catering the needs and wants under one roof. Various facilities are available at a stone’s throw away without leaving the complex, from department stores, hair salons, restaurants, banks, ATM centers, fitness centers until English course and community church. It saves a lot of time to commute without facing a traffic jam from one place to another.

It’s no surprise to see a (Jakarta) citizen does a grocery, cuts one’s hair, withdraws money, eats out, takes a gym class and a shower in a fitness centre and when one gets home or a condo adjacent to the mall, what one needs to do left is to sleep.

In tourists’ point of view, visiting a shopping mall could be the last option or a “spare” attraction, which is totally understandable.

CITYSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY: ALTERNATIVE ACTIVITY?

There’s one activity in West Jakarta I had not thought of until I joined one of the events held by Gallery Photography Indonesia community: a cityscape photography to capture bird’s eye view of Central Park Mall and surroundings after the sun goes down from 2 different locations: the rooftop of Alaina Tower at Central Park Residences and Royal Mediteranea Garden.

The Central Park cityscape hunting is actually not something new. Nonetheless, a couple years ago, someone did a suicide by jumping off from a tower next to Alaina tower that caused the management of Central Park Residences prohibited any photography activities from their towers.

Therefore, last November 2016 marks the return of this activity and my first time ever to gather with other amateur and experienced photo enthousiast members to learn and excel low light photography.

CENTRAL PARK CITYSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHS FROM VARIOUS ANGLES

Central Park Mall is a shopping mall that has been launching since 2009 by Agung Podomoro Land in Grogol Petamburan subdistrict, West Jakarta. The mall is adjacent with Central Park Residences, Tribeca Park, Agung Podomoro University, Pullman Hotel and Neo Soho, the latest shopping mall developed by the same developer.

The most eye-catching part of this West Jakarta superblock is the sky bridge linking Central Park and Neo Soho, which is accessible from the 1st floor of Neo Soho.

I’m happy enough that my “old” Fuji XA-1 manage to capture the cityscape, although it’s not as sophisticated as its sister products (Fuji XA-2, XT-1 and so on).

central park jakarta

Central Park (right) and Neo Soho (left) at 5 pm after the rain, from Alaina Tower

 Nothing much to capture unless the lights shine at night. A few days earlier, the unoccupied residential building of Neo Soho was on fire, whose remains were still visible during the day. The sky was rather dark and capturing the sunset was something no one could do on that day.

central park jakarta

Central Park and Neo Soho after the sun goes down, from Alaina Tower

taman anggrek jakarta

Apartemen Taman Anggrek (Taman Anggrek Apartment), the competitor, from Alaina Tower

Like Central Park Mall, this apartment is connected to Taman Anggrek Mall. It has been operating a few years earlier than Central Park Mall, but nowadays Central Park Mall has much more traffic than Taman Anggrek Mall.

central park jakarta

The “bowl” of Tribeca Park, from Alaina Tower

A few minutes before leaving the rooftop, I spotted this spectacular view of Central Park Mall I had never seen in my life. The angle is actually against the mall façade, but Tribeca Park is in the limelight of this picture.

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Pullman Hotel, from Royal Mediteranea Garden

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Tribeca Park, from Royal Mediteranea Garden

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The main entrance, from Royal Mediteranea Garden

noe soho sky bridge

The sky bridge in focus, from Royal Mediteranea Garden

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Pedestrians on the sky bridge

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Zooming the details of the sky bridge 

central park jakarta

Tribeca Park with Pullman Hotel background in the month of Christmas

 It displays the same Christmas tree every year. It’s appealing at first, but after 4 years?? It needs to refresh!

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Tribeca Park, from the sky bridge

Perhaps, what I did with Gallery Photography Indonesia community could be something inspiring for an alternative place of interest and activity in West Jakarta, especially for photo enthousiasts. Why not?

However, tourists cannot access the rooftops I visited since they are residential areas. Alternatively, both Neo Soho and Central Park have balconies somewhere, which are accessible for public and provide nice views and angles for photography.

HOW TO GO TO CENTRAL PARK MALL WITH PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

By bus: Take a Transjakarta Bus, get off at Grogol 1 Bus Terminal. Then, walk along the bridge to Grogol 2 Bus Terminal for a transfer. From there, you can take any Transjakarta bus and get off at the first stop, which is S. Parman Bus Terminal.

By Taxi: Alternatively, you can take a conventional taxi (so far, the safest is Blue Bird) or online transportations, such as Uber, GrabCar and GoCar. Generally speaking, everybody knows where Central Park Mall is.

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It’s Always Sunny in Copenhagen

All right, folks. The title of my post is a contradiction to what happens every December in Copenhagen and the rest of Europe. I would like to clarify that it is neither about the next season nor the Scandinavian version of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia“. Moreover, I don’t know what the popular American sitcom is all about since I haven’t watched it, but at least I know what my post is all about.

I had a wonderful time in Copenhagen back in summer 2007 and the recent Eurotrip three months ago. “Sunny” is a metaphor to express joy and happiness of summer sunshine without rain interruptions made my fun days longer to mingle with crowds. Observing various outdoor activities to celebrate the weather that only comes about two to three months in a year has expanded my horizon about the Danish capital, more than merely finding interesting stuff to see.

I believe a story in pictures is the most suitable way to share my travel experiences, mostly taken in my recent visit and a few from year 2007.

PROVOCATIVE

Pussy Riot supporters greeted me on the first day of my visit with a banner “BEFRI PUSSY RIOT” (Free Pussy Riot). A provocative day to start my activity in the city! They protested on a verdict of the two-year imprisonment of each band member. I spotted them from Amelienborg entrance courtyard.

My initial intention was to capture a beautiful dragon sculpture on top of the gate that reminds me of great European fairy tales and Hollywood movies: Eragon, How to Train a Dragon, Lord of the Rings…oh, you name it. But then, I read the inscription on the door: “Fashion is for Idiots”. As a fashion school graduate, i find it provocative. And I love it! I regret not having a chance to see its t-shirt collections.

The Danes seems effortlessly talented in design. Browse the shopping street areas and you will notice it doesn’t take a genius to notice design stores in Copenhagen, from furniture, hair accessories, home decorations, etc. If you have heard or seen Pandora, Pilgrim, Malene Birger, Georg Jensen or Bestseller’s fashion group flagship stores in your country, remember: they are from Denmark!

Suppose you want to know more about Danish design, which is well-known for its simplicity and functionality, you are welcome to visit the Danish Design Museum situated in the downtown area of Copenhagen. Let me know how it is, cause I haven’t been there….

SERVING THE COUNTRY

My dad came inside one of the wooden red huts in Amalienborg, the winter palace and official residence of the Danish royal family, to fulfill his curiosity. Suddenly, one of the Danish royal guards urged him to step aside. “The maximum distance you can stand is 1.5 meters from here!” He pointed the imaginary border line to define how far people are allowed to approach the royal guard area, from which the starting point is the red huts. I peeped from the distance what was inside the tube’s back door: the guard’s hanging black jacket. I almost did the same as what my dad did, but I put in on hold after the warning.

The heart-shaped peep hole is part of the royal guard’s red hut. I took the picture at the Kastellet, the old fortification district built in 1626 by King Christian IV to protect against Swedish invasion. Nowadays, it is a public park. All the guards’ tubes have that tiny heart, including the ones in Amalienborg. Coincidentally, there was no guard around the area, so I felt free to capture it. I think it’s cute. Why heart shape? I don’t know. Well, let’s put it this way: it signifies the Danes’ deep love for their country and kingdom.

On the way back to the hotel, I decided to take a different path that ended up at the Kastellet rear entrance. From the distance, I saw a green-uniformed guard on the left side, as green as the tree behind him, pointing at the guys fishing in the river. I don’t know what he shouted and it was too far to read his lips. Right after that, those guys stopped doing what they were doing. Most probably the guard shouted, “No fishing!” in Danish.

I found something very Danish here: a Danish Royal Guard made of Lego bricks at a Lego store in Strøget.

EXPRESS YOURSELF

Copenhagen highly respects one’s faith and identity. There’s no taboo to show it in public.

These 2 girls offered themselves as models free of charge in a gay pride festival and many viewers queued up just to be photographed with them.

A drag queen and her guardian angels in a Thai restaurant on a gay pride festival. Where are the wings?

Hare Krishna devotees chanted religious songs on the same day as a gay pride festival.

If not revealing your identity, simply do what you love to do. Getting some changes is an advantage.

NYHAVN IN A SHOESTRING

Nyhavn is famous for its canal cruise, rows of cafés and restaurants and Hans Christian Andersen’s residence on Nyhavn no. 20 and no. 67. And one more thing, a tourist trap price lists! No worries, there are other ways to hang out for $5 or less or….free.

Sitting by the canal banks is a very relaxing way to enjoy summer in Copenhagen. Get your Carlsberg from home or supermarket and drink it there!

Crêpes filled with banana and Nutella and sandwich with Danish sausage are options to eat cheap. I have a good news for Asian tourists. There’s a Thai restaurant near the end of the row suppose you miss rice and spicy flavour. The price? I can guarantee it’s affordable and has a big portion!

The entrance fee for watching a street performance is just a small amount of gratuity for the artist. Don’t have one? Just run away after the show!

DON’T TELL ME YOU’VE BEEN TO COPENHAGEN WITHOUT…..

Tivoli Garden and Hans Christian Andersen beat the fame of the Vikings who once expanded their territory in Denmark. Suppose you’re not a fan of amusement park, at least take a picture of yourself with Tivoli entrance gate as a background. And pose with HC Andersen’s statue as well!

Don’t get disappointed, the iconic Little Mermaid statue is smaller than it appears in postcards and travel magazines. It was sculpted by Edvard Ericsen, donated by Carl Jacobsen, the founder of Carlsberg beer, to the city of Copenhagen in 1913.

Carl Jacobsen has its replica made of bronze in his private garden in Carlsberg Brewery, sculpted by Paul Louritz Rasmussen.

A nomad souvenir shop selling Little Mermaid merchandise

BATTLE OF THE SEXES BIRDS

Another amusing scenes to see during summer time free of charge and no tips needed: battle of the birds!

Fuck off birdie, the food is MINE!!

Two things wild animals love the most in summer: food and people who feed them. How can I forget the way the hungry ducks stared at my mom? Nope! To be exact, staring at a small piece of bread in my mom’s hand, waiting to be thrown. I really laughed out loud watching them. I guess they are more greedy rather than hungry. Nonetheless, ducks are not selfish, you know! Once they see the sign of food giveaway, they quacked their peers to swim from the other side of the lake or river to get it. Distance doesn’t matter. And doves hardly get their turn.

I don’t think I need to tell who the winner of summer 2012 bird’s battle was: DUCKS!

Copenhagen has been my favourite meeting point to see my best friend living in Helsingborg, Sweden. She said I’m a lucky gal that it always greets me with sunshine every time I come. I guess she’s right. Or may be it’s just because I’ve never been to the city in winter. Whatever the reason is, I have found an ideal place for short breaks (if not too far from Asia). What a sunny summer holiday!

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EUROMAP

EUROMAP illustrates my trip to European cities from August to September 2012 through a custom map I created with Google Map. I only include this chapter in the end of the post related to the Eurotrip I did in that month. Please feel free to enlarge and click the blue arrows to view further comments about places I visited. Have fun with it, that’s what it’s made for!

The Silent Niagara

I recalled my visit to Canadian part of Niagara Falls last year in the first week of December. The sound of water streams camouflaged that of cheering and chattering crowds. Seldom did I feel tranquility in highly visited tourist attractions. In this situation, laughing out loud and screaming seemed inappropriate to do although “Making noises is prohibited” was not written in Niagara Falls house rules. For many, holiday season was still two weeks to go.

It was probably one of the best moments for those who are crazy for capturing moments through the lenses  including me, despite lacking of skills and knowledge. No blonde, brunette, black, grey heads and foreheads blocking my vision. No “unwanted people” passing in front of me (I mean, my lens) or behind the object after getting the right angle. No waiting line in visitor’s favourite spots for taking pictures.

Nonetheless, souvenir shops, Hershey’s Store, Hard Rock Cafe, Clifton Hill and other main attractions around the neighbourhood felt so dead without crowds who usually distract my photo hunting activity. Riding a roller coaster and giant wheel, visiting a haunted house, watching 4D theater at Clifton Hill without queuing up sounds like an efficient time management and no cranky feeling guaranteed. But I can imagine that doing those things all alone for hours without other people seating beside me, whether I know them or not, looks like a desperate weirdo.

I would like to drag you to the silent atmosphere at the falls and its surroundings through my pictures. Using a bit of imagination, I’m trying to figure out what the objects I captured would say about the silence if they could speak.

THE FALLS

No boats operating during winter time. You either can see me from here……

niagara falls

….or here.

bridge to the states

Just cross the bridge, then you will reach The States within a few minutes. Forget about the boat and cable car!

It’s a beautiful day, only less people feed me today

CLIFTON HILL

Ooh…ehm….hello….do we look all right?

Frankenstein: I eat more burgers than I should and nobody can stop me from that!

King Kong: I’ve made it! I scared them the hell out and now (almost) everybody’s leaving me!

It’s fun….anyone?

Who’s gonna take us home tonight?

There won’t be any thrill without your presence

Trying too hard to treat you

Let us entertain you! Ehm…..where are you?

HERSHEY’S STORE

I’ll give you thousands of “kisses” only if you purchase a lot from my store!

Welcome! Help us increasing our sales, thank you!!

Those people far right…yep! They are “crowds” of the day

Closing transactions is an enduring job

WHIRPOOL AERO CAR

It’s time for me (the cable car) to hibernate….

NIAGARA ESCARPMENT

My title “World Biosphere Reserve” doesn’t always make me the most wanted site. Low and high season somehow makes me feel……indifferent

I believe I don’t need to tell as much as what I usually do. Silence is the at the centre stage right now and therefore I should talk (write) less. Let images get their turn to speak louder than words.

Last but not least, do you agree with my little “imagination”, my thoughts about what the images would say about silence if they could speak?

And ssst………happy holidays everyone!

Penang: Heritage in Hues Part 3 – End

PROLOGUE

Nothing religious about the next story of my journey. Not even if religious buildings are the centre stage of my post. My only belief is that “Heritage in Hues” will be lack of hues without showing enchanting temples worth to see on this island. I purposely created a separate post from part 1 and 2 to show ornamented details of each temple I managed to visit. Having nearly zero knowledge about Buddhism, religious events and all the carvings couldn’t stop me from appreciating and admiring the beauty of craftsmanship and vibrant colours in these sacred places of worship. It didn’t take a genius to enjoy them wholeheartedly. Especially in limited time.

GODDESS OF MERCY TEMPLE

Goddess of Mercy Temple (Kong Hock Keong) is dedicated to Kuan Yin, the goddess of mercy, and Ma Chor Po, the patron saint of sea voyagers.

I’m not the only one who accidentally snapped the green shirt grandpa with his walking stick. I recognize the same grandpa appearing in other images of this temple on internet.

These birds are not meant for pets. They will be released from their cage as part of a religious event.

The sacred temple was crowded with worshippers burning and raising incense sticks to seek answers for their prayers. The strong smell from the incense sticks forced us to hold our breath several times and the thick smoke lead our eyes in tears. I squeezed among the crowds to be in the corner part of the temple to capture this moment without disturbing the religious activity. Thank God the pilgrims didn’t care much of their surroundings. Perhaps they are used to with bunch of curious tourists visiting the oldest temple in Penang, which is still actively in use.

KHOO KONGSI CLAN HOUSE

As we got off the bus, we were skeptical with the surroundings. We only saw regular shophouses, some were closed and untreated, middle class residential areas and a soccer field. No sign of a majestic edifice, proudly called “The Heritage Jewel of Penang” on its postcard, has ever existed. We finally found a shophouse lookalike entrance door at Cannon Street, the oldest part of George Town, after asking the locals about the road direction to the temple.

The temple façade is as stunning as what people said, and that’s not it. Go upstairs to see the peak of its beauty.

Khoo Kongsi is the clan house of Khoo family who migrated to Penang from Sin Kang clan village in Hokkien province of China. Khoo family was one of the richest Straits Chinese traders in early Penang and Malacca back in 17th century. Initially, the Khoo ancestors built a clan house in 1851, which was burnt down in 1894 by lightning strikes. However, some believed that the angry Gods were the cause of destruction triggered by the clan house’s resemblance to the emperor’s palace.

One of the rooftop details of the clan house

In 1902, the less grandiose version of the clan house was re-erected and finished in 1906. The temple is a family temple to respect the passing predecessors and a place to keep ancestral tablets. Wait a second – less grandiose a.k.a simpler?? I can’t imagine how magnificent the old clan house was. If I were the God of Jealousy, I would burn it down once more because it beauty exceeds my present palace. ;p

Passing through the red door is the starting point to be up, close and personal to the history and family tree of the wealthy Khoo family

Rickshaws are part of tourist attractions, but the rate is way too touristic for me. Compared to these rickshaws, taxis without meter are cheaper. Some shophouses situated around the clan house surroundings are being renovated. Those days, its neighbourhood was like a clan’s village where governmental activities including finance, welfare and education were held. These activities contributed a strong influence for civilization in Penang.

KEK LOK SIE 

We only had an hour to visit the largest Buddhist complex in Southeast Asia before its closing time at 6 pm. It could be enough although we had to sacrifice a bit of enjoyment of the visit. It was our last day in Penang, so we had no choice.

Kek Lok Sie, meaning “Temple of Supreme Bliss” in Hokkien, is the only Buddhist temple we visited outside the Heritage City George Town. It is situated on the hill of Air Itam town. Built in 1890, it took more than 20 years to complete the execution and it is still in ongoing process to expand, funded by the affluent Chinese community.

The Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas with its seven tier was completed in 1930. Its architecture is a combination of a Chinese octagonal base, a Thai middle tier and a Burmese crown.

Colourful ribbons represent wishes. Each ribbon, which has different Chinese inscriptions, is put on the table with the following English translations in front of it, for instance wisdom, health, wealth, success, prosperity etc. Visitors can write their name(s) and wish(es) on their chosen ribbon. Then, the temple officials hang them on the twigs that makes it look like a “tree of wishes”.

The other option is to write it on a roof tile. I preferred writing it on a ribbon as it is more colourful and I loved seeing my handwriting hanging on a “tree”. Moreover, the markers they provided to write on a roof tile were non-permanent ink. Since they really place the written roof tiles on rooftops, it won’t be a good news if one day the pouring rain washes away the marker ink.

I’ve made myself clear: I was there!

The Kuan Yin Goddess statue and its pavilion was completed in 2009.

Turtles on a turtle pond located inside the temple complex

After the turtle pond, we passed through the hallway with lots of souvenir shops on both right and left side. At the same time, the cab driver who drove us to the temple waited for us outside.

This vintage optical ad was seen on the hallway, marking the last thing I photographed before I left Penang

EPILOGUE

I could have selected only the best to share up to 10 images max, but I decided not to. I’d rather show several particular details I loved while visiting these wonderful places. It’s hard to tell that the carvings on the left wing room is better than the right one, for instance. Each element should be embraced as a whole, depicting harmony and unity of the architecture, as well as the interior.

En gros, Penang is all about showing off its Southeast Asian heritage to the world, from historical buildings (Straits Chinese shophouses, mansions, places of worship, town hall), delicious street food until peaceful environment and friendly people. Apart from that, many Indonesians come to Penang to get more affordable medical check-up in a hospital. Of course I wish you all are in great health, therefore you can put the hospital thing aside.

The heritage presented with full colour of life, art and culture – that’s what I love best.  I just don’t see any other reasons not to call it “Heritage in Hues”.