Of Hair and Beauty Salons in Jakarta: Anna Wijaya

So the weekend went by and Adeline came and left. It’s always nice having familiarity around. No need for introductions or small talk; we can simply start from where we left off and delve into deep girly talk.

Adeline wanted to do a few things in Jakarta, one of which was hair treatment/ hair spa. I usually do my hair treatment at Anna Wijaya Salon in Grand Indonesia. (Due to the not-so-ideal air in Jakarta, I find hair treatments quite a regular necessity here). However, due to time constraints, we decided to check out the Anna Wijaya Salon in Ambassador Mall which is nearer to where I live.

Exterior-wise, the salon at Ambassador Mall looked slightly oldish compared to the one at Grand Indonesia. Another difference is that hair treatments are done in a private room at the Grand Indonesia outlet (more exclusivity for a maximum pax of 4). BUT…there was quite a big difference in prices. Same treatment options. Same products used. Same procedures. Yet the price difference was about Rp 100, 000 (!!). I am totally going to the one at Ambassador Mall from now on. 

The hair treatments at Anna Wijaya make use of Kérastase products which are pretty good. After each treatment, I can feel an overall difference in my hair – smoother, silkier, and more healthy-looking. Back in my home country, hair treatment using Kérastase products would cost double to even triple the price. *perks of living in Jakarta*

I opted for the “fibre reconstructing hair treatment” targeted at dry, damaged hair which has been treated before (i.e., rebonded, coloured, permed, etc) whereas Adeline opted for “colour hair treatment” meant to bring out the colour in her hair and make it more reflective. I used to choose the “nourishing hair treatment” not knowing that it was actually meant for dry, damaged and UNTREATED hair. Sigh I blame it on my lousy command of Bahasa Indo back then.

The entire hair treatment process took about 1.5 hours and started off with a hair wash. After the hair wash, the treatment was applied to my hair. While waiting for the products to set in, I got a head, neck and shoulder massage (very shiokkk). Adeline was very pleased with her massage, saying she felt very “de-knotted” haha.

 Most hair salons in Jakarta also offer other (legit) services. For example, eyebrow trimming, manicure/ pedicure, foot reflexology, etc. Why not, right? Since our hands and legs are free. I decided to get a pedicure done while Adeline chose a relaxing foot reflexology.

After steaming my hair, I got it washed again. At this point, you can either choose blow dry to IBU-STYLE (at an additional cost) or normal dry. Of course, we chose the former option. We were in Jakarta, after all. 🙂

Here are some end-product pictures:


After-treatment hair (prior to this, I had loads of flyaway hair).


My newly-painted nails.

My pedicure turned out so-so only but I’m not blaming them, After all, they’re a nail hair salon. Just in case anyone is interested in the breakdown costs, I’m posting the bill here for your reference.


Bill payment for my visit to Anna Wijaya salon.

Anna Wijaya Salon aside, I’m sure there are many other hair salons that offer the same services with different price ranges. I’ll be checking out another salon next time round!

Beautiful Jakarta Days from My Window

Many people that I’ve talked to have a preconception about Jakarta as a city with bad air. Most days, that is true to some extent and it’s a common sight to see people wearing face masks in hopes of filtering the smog-filled air they breathe in.

I would think the major source of the air pollution is from vehicles; there are just SO MANY vehicles on the roads – from small cars to big cars (especially humongous cars!), motorbikes, mini buses, huge buses, etc. Anything that basically has wheels and can move can be found on the streets. The government has initiated some good stuff though like ‘Sunday Car Free Day’ in certain areas – to encourage less reliance on cars and thus improve air quality. Oh what a difference it makes, really.

My apartment has an unblocked view of the city and I love looking out of my window at different times throughout the day. Some days, the air miraculously clears up and I see a very beautiful Jakarta. I would like to share some pictures of this city that I’m growing to like and enjoy day by day:


Can you spot the mountains at the far end?


Panaromic view of the city.


Beautiful pink sky overhead.


Another day of mountain view.



 Every time I spot the grand mountains standing tall in the far distance (which is a rare occurrence), I can’t help but feel thankful for all that life has given me.

Two bible verses come to mind:

“He who forms the mountains, who creates the wind, and who reveals his thoughts to mankind, who turns dawn to darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth — the LORD God Almighty is his name.” (Amos 4:13 )

“I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1-2)

My friend, Adeline, is coming to spend the weekend with me and I can’t wait to see her. She should be arriving anytime soon now. Have a good weekend everyone! 🙂

Learning Indonesian Cuisine #1: Babi Rica Recipe

On Wednesday, my friend (Sha-rin) invited a group of us to her place to learn how to make Babi Rica from her Indonesian friend, Ibu Vien. Sha-rin was moving from Jakarta to Sydney for good and Babi Rica was the one dish she wanted to master before leaving.

There were about 10 of us in total so we had to make several batches. In order to make the Rica Bumbu (seasoning), quite a number of spices/ingredients were required. They had to be peeled, cut, and blended together. Effort indeed.

Upon seeing the sheer amount of effort involved, someone asked Ibu Vien if she could pre-make the sauce for us (such a Singaporean thing to do right!) for future use. Well, I personally wouldn’t mind paying more for a pre-made bottled sauce if I could use it right away, saving time and effort. Ibu Vien looked at us in disbelief. I think she was on the verge of rolling her eyes haha.


Some of the ingredients needed to make Babi Rica (photo credits: Jasmine)

Ibu Vien told us that if we wanted our Babi Rica to be on the spicier side, we could add more chili, keeping the total number of chili used odd. If we wanted it to be less spicy, we could use less chili but the total number of chili used had to be evenSo strange. Ibu Vien swears by it so I’ll be following this golden chili rule next time.

For the Babi Rica batch she was demonstrating on, Ibu Vien added quite a bit of chili but kept the total amount of chili even. Surprisingly, it wasn’t as hot as I expected it to be!

Here’s a picture of our Babi Rica in all its glory:


Homemade Babi Rica served with rice and cucumber. YUM.

It was SOOOOO GOOOOOOOOD. Not sure if I’ll ever get down to replicating it for Agent D though. The preparation process is a little too time consuming (unless Ibu Vien picks up on our suggestion on the pre-made sauce hee).


Ibu Vien with all the Babi-Rica cooks. Babi Rica SUCCESS!

For those who are interested in making Babi Rica at home, here’s the recipe (many thanks to Candy for typing it out) below:

Babi Rica Recipe (for 1 kg of pork, serves 4)


  • 1 kg Pork (if using pork belly, use part with more meat and less fats)
  • 3 stalks of spring onion (cut 1cm diagonally)
  • 110g of cabe keriting merah (about 30 pieces)
  • 50g of cabe rawit (remove stalk)
  • 30g of basil leaves (about 1 handful, ¾ cup)
  • 2 stalks of local lemongrass/ serai (use the white part only & chop into 1 cm bits)
  • 2 cm of ginger / jahe
  • 10g of kaffir leaves / daun jeruk (about 10 pieces)
  • 80g of shallots / bawang merah (about 20 pieces)
  • 1 head of old/mature garlic (remove skin)
  • 2 cm if turmeric / kunyit
  • 2-3 pieces of candlenut


  1. Cut shallots, cabe keriting merah, lemongrass, garlic, ginger, turmeric and candlenut into smaller pieces. Put everything into the blender with some water (about 40ml) to make the Rica bumbu.
  2. Add bumbu (blended in step 1) into a large pot with oil. The amount of oil used should be enough to cover the bumbu in the pot. Stir-fry on high heat for about 20 mins.
  3. When the bumbu is about half dry, add half the kaffir leaves and pork together with 80-90 ml of water.
  4. When the sauce becomes drier and almost like a thick paste, add salt to taste. Then add cabe rawit, spring onion, basil leaves and the remaining kaffir leaves. Continue to simmer until the pork reaches its preferred softness.

Some tips from Ibu Vien

*Do not wash the pork and vegetables until they are ready to be stir-fried.

*Instead of using pork, you may also use chicken. Preferably, kampong chicken.


Volunteering in Jakarta: Kampung Kids

When I first set foot on Jakarta, what became apparent to me was the great disparity between the rich and the poor. Some of the really poor live in overcrowded slums with poor sanitation and nutrition. As parents struggle to put food on the table, the last thing on their minds is probably education for their children.

I wanted to help but did not know where to go/ how to start. With the help of Mr Google (one of my best friends!) and a recommendation from another lady, I got to know of a Yayasan (foundation) called Kampung Kids.

Of the various Yayasans in Jakarta, Kampung Kids stood out to me because of their 3-phase program:

  1. Basic Nutrition – Young children as well as pregnant and breastfeeding mothers are provided with one meal per day + a cup of milk.
  2. Education – Playgroups and tutoring classes are set up for children of all ages, some of whom have never attended school and are illiterate.
  3. Health and Hygiene – Quarterly health checks are provided by volunteer doctors/nurses; young children receiving milk are weighed monthly to check progress.

Since I was a teacher in my home country, volunteering to teach seemed almost natural. And so I sent an email to the coordinator (Julia) together with my resume, asking if I could volunteer with them. Julia replied that very night and said I could start the following Tuesday. Wow that was fast.

In the email, she gave me the location of Kampung Kids: Jln Pejaten Barat II, RT 011 RW 08.

What in the world was RT and RW??! I had no idea.

Anyhow, I entered the address into google maps but got the message “We could not find Jln. Pejaten Barat II, RT 011 RW 08. Make sure your search is spelled correctly. Try adding a city, state, or zip code.” Hmmm weird. I decided I would just attempt to find the place when I got there on the day itself.

On Tuesday, my driver and I managed to find the road Jln Pejaten Barat II. The houses on that road seemed hugeee and grand. I thought this was supposed to be a poor estate.

After circling around 3 times and asking around, we still could not find the house situated on RT 011 and RW 08.  As a last resort, I called Julia and she told me to wait at a particular cross-section in front of a white mosque. She would arrange for someone to come out and fetch me.

After about 10 minutes, a man in a purple shirt came up to us. He was riding a motor bike and told us to follow him. We followed him all the way to the end of the road where there was a small opening cum entrance. The entrance was too small for my car to enter so we parked outside. It almost seemed like The Wardrobe in The Chronicles of Narniaa portal that linked Earth through to the World of Narnia – except this one linked the world I live in and know about to the world of the poor.


Entrance to the kampung where the poorer people of Jakarta stay. You can see the disparity between the big houses leading up to the entrance and those of the kampung behind.

As I walked into the kampung, people smiled at me and waved to me. I happily waved back, greeting them with “Selamat Pagi!” which means Good Morning. Indonesians are generally very lovely and welcoming people.

Here are some pictures of the kampung. You can see that some of the houses are in desperate need of repainting and touching up.


A passage way only accessible by foot or by a motorbike.


I was surprised to see a nail salon!


That’s my driver (Pak Amrun) posing for me.


Friendly folks of the kampung.

After many turns and bends deep into the Kampung (I was thinking to myself I would never be able to find my way out!), I finally arrived at Kampung Kids. Dozens of shoes and slippers were sprawled outside the house because of an ongoing feeding programme.

A class of 5 to 6 year-olds (there were about 10+ of them) greeted me shyly. Almost all of them had never been to preschool and this was their first time in a class setting. Some were smaller in built for their age due to a lack of proper nutrition. A number of them looked at me fearfully as if I was going to have them for my lunch.

I flashed my best reassuring smile and introduced myself to them. It only took a while for the children to warm up and for the next part of the lesson, we learnt the letters ‘A’,’B’, and ‘C’. While walking around the class during penmanship practice time, I realised that a good half of the children did not even know how to hold a pencil! Looks like I’ll have to buy some penmanship books to work through with them.

Here are some pictures of the little ones in my class:

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Over the weeks, I’ve also taught English to the 9 to 10 year-olds. I was very comfortable working with that age group because back in my home country, I taught the middle primary group.

Here are some pictures of the older children in my class:

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I really enjoy my time spent with the kampung children. Although I go to the kampung with the purpose of teaching them English, they in turn always teach me little life lessons.

I always go home with my heart full. 🙂

Fitting in by learning Bahasa Indonesia

When I first arrived in Jakarta, I experienced some difficulty when it came to communicating with the locals.

Me: Can steam ayam (chicken), please.

Part-time helper : Bisa (can). *smiles and nods head vigorously as if she understood*

I ended up having steamed fried chicken for dinner.

Me: Do you have disposable party plates here?

Store assistant: blank look.

Me: Paper plates..you know..can throw.. *hand gestures what a plate looks like*

Store assistant: Ahhh. Follow me.

I followed him and found myself in the section of disposable plates dish washing liquid.

Most times it’s really not that bad. Many Indonesians can speak English and in fact, they like practicing their English with expats here. However, I felt that picking up the language proper would help me to assimilate into the culture better. Being able to speak basic Bahasa Indonesia (BI) was also key in giving taxi drivers directions, asking for help, etc.

It was the small day things really, but they had a big impact on day-to-day living.

And so from August 2015 to December 2015, everyday from Monday to Friday, 2 hours each day (a grand total of 160 hours) – I learnt and studied the language in a group class setting. For those who are interested in picking up BI here in Jakarta, Universitas Atma Jaya has a pretty good structured and rigorous programme. The one I did was “Intensive BIPA 1” which cost about Rp 8.7 juta inclusive of registration and learning material fees.

Here are some pictures of my classmates and I in and out of class:

As the name “Intensive BIPA 1” suggests, yes it was VERY INTENSIVE. I had three exams in total and homework everyday. It was like back-to-primary-school-oh-yeah.  I remember pulling my hair out at times and complaining to Agent D why in the world had  I put myself through this.

But well it was worth the time and effort. These days, I find it much easier getting around, relaying the right directions, and making small talk with the locals.

AND a surprise in the mailbox came a few days ago:

Never expected myself to get an in BI – the language I was fumbling and stuttering in just a few months before.

All glory goes to God!