Monday, June 23, 2008

My Expat Bubble

I will be the first to admit I am guilty of living in a expat bubble during my time in Jakarta. While I did venture out of my comfort zone from time to time, mostly I went to the same places over and over, just as any one does in their daily life. This is a list of the places that I found most useful in my daily life. If you are visiting Jakarta sometime soon perhaps you may find it of interest. 

First if you are moving to Jakarta it is worth your while to visit the American Women's Association and pick up a copy of the Jakarta Shoppers Guide. It is a very comprehensive listing of where to go to find everything from groceries to plants to a doctor. It is a very useful book. They also publish The Family Guide to Jakarta which has been a big help in finding ways to amuse my kiddos.

Like most things in Jakarta the best bet is to ask your friends/neighbors/co-workers where they shop. Jakarta is a huge sprawling traffic jam. You will want to shop close to home for most things unless you like sitting in traffic for long periods of time. One thing I found interesting is most malls have a Food Hall, Hero or other grocery in the basement food court.

  • Grand Lucky-Formerly known as The Club Store, this is where I do most of my weekly shopping. It is very expat friendly stocking a wide variety of Australian and American brands.
Sometimes I need something in particular for a recipe then I head to one of the  specialty import stores that cater to expats. They also often have specialty import prices.
  • Kim Chicks has been around for a long time. The original store in Kemang is now closed and a high rise is going up in its place.  It has a very nice new store in One Pacific Place and I understand there is a smaller store near it's old location. It usually has a great selection of cheese.
  • Gourmet Garage on Jl Kemang Raya near the turn off to Amigo's has a very nice grocery store downstairs and upstairs there is a excellent restaurant.
  • Ranch Market has several outlets around Jakarta and stocks a nice selection of many American products, including malt-o-meal cereals which are much cheaper than the usual cereals (I have a few issues with paying $10 for a box of shreadded mini wheats). I usually go to the store in Dharmawangsa Square or the smaller store at the American Club.

Going to the spa seems to almost be a sport among some. There seems to be a spa or salon on every corner offering a wide variety of treatments.  Much to my husbands relief I am really not that much of a spa person although I do enjoy the pampering from time to time. 

  • Mil and Mats in Kemang is more a beauty salon than a spa but they do offer the always amazing cream bath, facials, manicures and pedicures.  It is very expat friendly, I have no problem calling and making my appointments and my Indonesian is awful. 
  • Bimasena Spa at the Dharmawangsa Hotel on Jl Dharmawangsa is where I head for full spa treatments like a massage.  I always feel like a princess when I am there.  if you get a chance to have a spa day, make sure to arrive a few minutes early to take advantage of the hot tub or sauna before your treatment.  Still a bargain compared to prices in the states.
Restaurants Jakarta is loaded with great food from 5 star restaurants to street food for the more  adventurous. Just about every type of food can be found, except for true Mexican food (Sorry y'all Amigo's is fun but not authentic!)  I am only listing my absolute favorites.  Ask around and you will discover many more gastronomic gems. Happy eating!

  • Din Tai Fung Probably my absolute favorite eating place.  Founded in Taipei it specializes in Chinese dumplings. I love the soup dumplings and the Ayam Goreng Cabe. It has locations in Pondok Indah Mal, Plaza Senayan, One Pacific Place and my favorite (probably becuase it is in walking distance from my house) Senayan Arcadia.
  • Vietopia Has locations in Menteng and in Jakarta Seletan on Jl Senopati.  One of our favorite lunch sites.  Pho Bo (vietnamese soup) is a favorite but it has a variety of other Vietnamese dishes. 
  • Penang Bistro Malaysian food. If you go you must try the Roti Chenai.  Oh my I am hungry just thinking about it.  I also really like the mango chicken. 
  • King of Thai in Plaza EX has affordable and tasty Thai food in a fun casual setting.   It backs up to the bowling alley, you can watch the bowling while you eat.
  • Anatolia Great Turkish food, the only place I know that can get me to eat lamb and convince  husband to eat eggplant.  If you go in the evening on a weekend they often have belly dancers. 
  • Gourmet Garage- Same place as the import grocery but upstairs is a great dining experience.  It is really three restaurants in one.  The triple menu features Japanese, Italian and and American menu.  This works well with kids, they can have a burger with a milk shake while you enjoy sashimi and tea. 

Jakarta is a big city with lots of things to do.  I have four children ranging from 3-16 years of age so I do not get to go out often.  If you are young and single your list of fun things to do is probably going to be very different than mine. 

  • Movies There is a movie theater in every mall.  They show American movies with Indonesian Subtitles as well as Indonesian Movies.  The prices are much cheaper than in states and the seating is assigned so no more hunting in the dark for two seats together!
  • The American Club is the mainstay of entertainment for our family.  We swim, play tennis, exercise, and eat there. It has become our home away from home.  Membership is required.
  • The Sailing Club is our favorite escape from Jakarta.  It is about a three and half to four hour drive depending on traffic. Membership does have its benefits but it is not required.  You can enjoy sailing, walking on the beach, canoeing, bike riding and more in a peaceful setting with no hawkers pushing you to buy something. 

I hope this list helps someone out.  I know when we moved to Jakarta 2 years ago I had a hard time finding out where to go to get things done. We will be moving to Germany this summer so I wanted to share before we left and my memory began to fade. If you live in Jakarta feel free to leave your favorites in the comments!


Susan said...

Shoot, I see 1 American once every 2 months...maybe. Unless of course if you count my son who is half American. I gave up on American products here because they are too expensive. However I think south Germany has a ton of stuff because of the military. Sounds just lovely there.

Jae said...

Hey girl! I sure hope someone helps you out with such a nice list! If I was going to Jakarta, I'd be ready!!

It was great seeing you yesterday! I hope we see each other soon!