Explore Jakarta: Kota Tua and Cafe Batavia

This morning, Agent D left home around 5 a.m. for work. I woke up (barely) around 4.20 a.m. to fix him a simple breakfast which he could eat on the way to the airport. My hands and legs seemed to be strangely moving on their own in synchrony while being detached from my brain (which was still in deep slumber).

OK let’s boil water. Hand gets kettle and fills it with water. Finger pushes the boil knob. Legs move to the refrigerator. Hand opens the refrigerator door and gets 2 slices of bread and pops them into the oven. Legs move to the Master Bedroom and arms prepare Agent D’s suit and tie. Bread is ready. Hand butters bread with a knife and layers on a thick spread. 

Come to think of it, I can’t even remember if I spread kaya or blueberry jam onto Agent D’s bread. Hmm or perhaps it was nutella instead :/ My only faint memory was that of saying “bye-bye!” at the doorway and waving Agent D off. My legs must have found their way to the bed because the next thing I knew, the alarm clock was ringing and it was time for me to change to head down to Kampung Kids (Tuesdays are my volunteer days).

So please pardon me if this post isn’t too coherent – I’m still in sleep deprivation mode.


Today I’m going to write about my trip to Kota Tua when my folks visited in February. My dad is a history buff and so I thought he might like exploring the streets of Jakarta’s old town.

According to Mr. Wikipedia, Kota Tua was an important commerce hub in Asia since the 16th century. Thus, it was home to several important historical sites and buildings like the Former Court of Justice (currently the Fine Art and Ceramic Museum), the oldest surviving church in Jakarta (Gereja Sion), the 18th century City Hall (currently the Jakarta History Museum), and so on.

As we got out of the car and stepped onto the streets of Kota Tua, I felt as if I was transported to an earlier era of Jakarta. The entire street was lined with old colonial buildings of Dutch-influenced architecture.

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The entrance where my driver dropped us off.

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Stretch of old colonial buildings.

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A cute little cafe.

We took a short walk down the street and found ourselves at the Central Square. It was BUSTLING there – vendors selling food and souvenirs, street buskers (SO MANY. They were practically 1 cm apart), Indonesian tourists with their selfie sticks, bicycle rental shops, and so on. What a sight really!
One great pity is that many of the colonial relics are decaying. While there have been attempts to preserve and restore some of  the buildings (e.g. the Kota Post Office building has been converted into a contemporary art museum), many are sadly deteriorating and quite a number lie in ruins till this day.
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After preservation works – Post Office building.

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Colonial architecture steadily decaying.

I really hope that most (if not all) of the historical sites can be restored to their former glory SOON. And that one day, Kota Tua will achieve the status of a UNESCO world heritage site. 🙂
To escape from the heat, my parents and I decided to head into Cafe Batavia for some cooling down. Our bodies had probably lost about 3 buckets of water by then (one bucket each) and there was a strong need to re-hydrate. That feeling of stepping into an air-conditioned space with nice soft music playing in the background – SO GOOD.
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Upper level of Cafe Batavia.

Rated #13 out of 6,402 Restaurants in Jakarta on Trip Advisor, Cafe Batavia lives up to its name in terms of ambience. Set in a 200-year-old colonial building, Cafe Batavia is actually the second oldest building in Central Jakarta after the Fatahillah Museum (!!). The cafe’s decor oozes history and gives a glimpse of what life was like in the colonial era. At certain times of the day, the cafe has a live band playing downstairs.
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Wall backdrop consisting of picture frames.

If you have a choice, sit upstairs by a window overlooking the square.  It’s perfect for people watching and looking down on the happenings in Central Square (from the comfort of your seat).

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By the window.

The cafe serves quite a variety of food; from authentic Indonesian food to Chinese food (including dimsum) to Western food. They have an extensive cocktails menu as well. I can’t say much about their food because we only had drinks there (it was tea time).

I’d recommend that you try the traditional drinks (which we did). There are 4 types of drinks made from different herbs and spices and one can have them hot or cold. We ordered three traditional drinks to share amongst ourselves – two of them tasted really nice while the other was…well…an acquired taste. We were such thirsty hippos that when the drinks came, we slurped them up really fast! And FORGOT about taking pictures again. 😦

I’ll be visiting Kota Tua sometime soon to explore their Puppet Museum and Kite Museum. Looking forward!

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