Jakarta – Eternal but Ever-Changing

Jakarta’s ever-changing face, illustrated with my new camera.   Sony digital, Rp. 2,000,000 in Ratu Plaza. Works a treat so far! Here’s the first photo I took, the gals in the adjacent shop, selling DVDs for only Rp. 7000 each. They’re a cheery little band, always good for a natter if I drop by.


No doubt a few memories will be stirred, among the many Old Jakarta Hands back in the West, who comprise a large proportion of our readership, by the next photo! And certainly for me, with KFC replacing that Golden Arches on Jalan Melawai.

Mcdonalds are fighting back after their Tony Jack problems, but I see their old outpost in Blok M Plaza has been taken over by Burger King. In Kebon Jeruk too, the big M – once a thriving 24-hour place, has gone forever, being acquired by the PSB school that previously occupied only the upper floor of the building.

That Melawai burger-eatery was a pit-stop for me on my first journey to work here, all those years ago, before I’d gotten used to the diet and the climate. Any port in a storm of tummy-troubles, and I knew the chain included REAL (sit-down) toilets in their every branch.

That whole building down there was always a good place for meeting friends. And I don’t mean just meeting friends you knew, because standing out front awaiting a pal almost invariably resulted in prospective new pals drifting up to say hi! And the shop assistants within were, and still are, a fine collection of pretty young ladies!

And look at the new-look Melawai Hotel. As I’ve said before, I’ve been in it yet never stayed over – but the mysterious delights of its 6th floor relaxation suite are world-famous!

Turning north, all the way to Jalan Jaksa, here’s a photo of Absolut in transition, taken Tuesday – not sure if the former boss is moving stuff out or his successor moving stuff in, but it seems like there will be a new aspect to the premises.

Further along Jaksa, southwards, The Joker (below) is opening, where once Mocca Cafe afforded us good food, cold beer and live music. One waits to see how The Joker will differ! I hope not too much – it was usually frequented by pleasant and civil young Indonesians, unlike some other bars, where inebriate expat drongos appear to be increasing in number  – as prices go up, quality of characters goes down, the moneyed white fraternity often lacking the manners of the hard-working but poorly paid teachers. Highly doubtful that any teacher will be buying that splendid automobile that has a for sale sign on it.


And let’s not forget the new hotel on Jalan Sabang, (aka Jalan Agus Salim  the name changed even before I came to live in the Big Durian, but everyone still refers to it by its old appelation)

 The hotel’s called the Maxone, pronunciation unclear, maksoni, maybe, a la Indonesia, or Max – 1, as we’d say.

About Rp.400,000 per night, no pool, but incl. breakfast. Looks bright and clean, but then it’s new.

Enough for now.

I will be making a trip down Fatmawati this month, to see what’s happening to Best, the shopping centre that closed down unexpectedly. Any news from readers who live in those posh environs will be put to good use. And by the weekend, I’ll have inspected one of the newest and most expensive residential complexes in the city – another party invitation, of course!