Day Trippin’ to Jakarta Aquarium

I’m finally back after a 3-month hiatus from blogging!! The past few months have been a really busy period for me — interviews back home, my dog of 18 years passed away, weddings, and so forth.

And boyyy am I glad to be finally back in Jakarta and settled in my usual routines. So here begins a backlog of blog posts. 🙂

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At the Jakarta Aquarium.

Jakarta Aquarium

Mid-June this year, Agent D and I visited the recently opened Jakarta Aquarium. An innovative project by Taman Safari Indonesia, the Jakarta Aquarium is located in the new Neo Soho extension of Central Park Mall (West Jakarta).

The combination of Indonesian biodiversity, the beauty of Indonesian heritage, and technology are what makes the Jakarta Aquarium truly unique. During our time there, I felt like we were transported away from the reality of Jakarta’s stress and traffic into another world of stories, magic and beauty.

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Of stories, magic, and pure beauty.

I would strongly recommend visiting the Jakarta Aquarium if you have kids/toddlers! Of course, it would make a good place for a date too.

What can you expect to see?

The entire aquarium spans two levels. The upper section focuses on the life of people and animals on the numerous islands of Indonesia.

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On an Indonesian Island.

A massive interactive touch table shows the map of Indonesia and gives visitors information on the archipelago’s geography, biodiversity and traditions.

As you walk through the rain-forest and mangrove areas (an endangered part of the Indonesian marine ecosystem), you’ll get to see Komodo dragons, coconut crabs, otters, huge lizards, frogs and stingrays, just to name a few.

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Fish-reptile-like-thing.

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Long neck tortoise!!

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Cute orange tiny frogs.

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This gave me goosebumps…

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Hello baby stingrays. 🙂

We happened to be in time for the otter feeding. Otters are such fun and intelligent creatures! Peek through the glass tunnel to spy on them — you might find them holding hands while asleep.

I really like the swirl tank, a beautiful piece to welcome visitors as they walk down the stairs from ‘above water’ to ‘under water’.

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Swirl tank.

The lower section of the aquarium is much larger and focuses on the endangered reefs and oceans of the Coral Triangle, where more than 3,000 species of fishes reside.

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❤ ❤ ❤

A series of jewel tanks offer unique sightings of some of the most beautiful, small, and odd sea creatures.

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Tiger fish??

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Sexy pouty lips #1.

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Sexy pouty lips #2.

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An illusion?

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Such pretty fins!

Other highlights include the majestic reef tank, the jellyfish tunnel, and a large touch pool with gentle sea creatures like Blue Starfish, Bamboo Sharks, and Turbo Snails.

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The majestic reef tank. Hello giant stingray!

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Giving it a go at the touch pool.

Hop onto the Sea Explorer (5D Theater) where you can experience riding a submarine to explore the depths of the ocean. This may involve getting wet though! 😉

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On board the Sea Explorer Submarine.

There is a classroom/playroom specially set aside for children. Let your kids’ imagination run wild as they create and colour their own fish, scan their drawings, and have their fish swim freely on the screen.

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Children’s classroom.

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Small cafe beside the classroom.

The Pingoo Restaurant

The Pingoo Restaurant is an American seafood and grill restaurant inspired by the penguins’ habitat in the Southern Hemisphere.

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The Pingoo Restaurant.

The restaurant is separated by glass from the penguin enclosure; you can watch penguins swim/waddle around as you dine and even feed the penguins during the designated feeding times.

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Up close with penguins.

I did not try their mains as I only had cake and drinks there. I hope they don’t disappoint!

After your filling meal, drop by Ocean Wonders to pick up some souvenirs. I was so tempted to get this adorable squid!

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SQUID.

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Other cute souvenirs.


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Jakarta Aquarium
Neo SOHO Mall, Floor LG 
Open daily from 10am – 10pm

Entrance Ticket: IDR 175k/pax onwards

Another UNION Kid on the Block: THE DUTCH JAKARTA

THE DUTCH is a modern gastropub by Union Group which has names like UNION, Cork & Screw, Benedict, E&O, Bistecca (and many more) under its belt. Situated between the SCBD and Senopati districts, The Dutch can be found on the ground floor of 18 Parc Place.
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Checking out The Dutch at Parc Place.

It is headed by Chef Chris Moes, a Dutch chef who has lived and worked in Jakarta for some time (hence the name The Dutch – DUH). Unlike what its name suggests, The Dutch is not a Dutch cuisine specialty restaurant.
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Homemade sausages to go, anyone? 🙂

Instead, it adopts a smokehouse concept where cold cuts, sausages, smoked and cured meats are prepared in-house (i.e. homemade). You can expect hearty Western/Asian fare on the menu along with some Dutch classics.
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Awesome housemade sausages!

The minimalist restaurant is designed by renowned architect, Andra Matin, who has a big love for open spaces. This is reflected in the large open kitchen which allow guests to peer into.

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Large open kitchen with bar counter seats.

Its interior is dimly lit with industrial vibes and a spacious feel. All the windows are covered by metal bar grilles, allowing tiny amounts of light to stream in (forgive my badly taken pictures – totally blaming the lighting hehe). The atmosphere is warm and inviting; people settle in and get comfortable over booze.

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Warm and inviting atmosphere.

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Agent D and I both felt a little under the weather so we stayed away from alcohol and ordered hot tea + fresh orange juice instead.

 Being a gastrobar, The Dutch functions as a restaurant cum pub. If you’re an alcohol lover, you’ll adore this place. Headlining the bar is a copper multi-tap beer tower, dispensing seven kinds of draught brews. The selection ranges from local favourites to international ales; each pour is perfectly frosty due to the cold pipe system.

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7 beer taps + 1 cocktail tap.

Beer aside, the cocktail list at The Dutch runs gourmet and experimental, incorporating exotic ingredients and interesting techniques. It is legitly the first pub in Jakarta that serves cocktail direct from a tap. Plus they have loads of happy hour promotions going on throughout the week. So look out for that!

Food-wise, The Dutch makes really delish homemade sausages and cured meats. Don’t forget to pair your sausages with the mustard on the side. Its SO GOOOD. The waiter recommended Erwtensoep – traditional Dutch split pea soup and Braised Lamb in Puff Pastry but we decided to go with other options.

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The Dutch’s Menu.

Here’s what we ordered:
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Classic Bratwurst with sauerkraut and mustard on the side (IDR 105k). Traditionally handmade using natural casing, and then slow-smoked in house. Orange juice was genuinely fresh (IDR 55K).

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Caesar Salad had an overdose of parmesan and was a tad dry (IDR 90k).

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Spaghetti Aglio Olio with pork (IDR 90k). Quite a nice change from the usual prawn/chicken.

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Soy-glazed Duck Wings on rice with pickled vegetables (IDR 95k). Duck wings were good but Agent D left the pickled veges untouched.

Food at The Dutch is not exactly cheap but the portions and quality are good. For both of us, the bill came out to about IDR 580k. That said, we had an enjoyable meal. 🙂

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Sundate brunchin’.

After lunch, we spotted a really pretty mini park/garden opposite Parc Place and headed there to walk off some pounds. The trees, plants and flowers were beautifully landscaped. Such a pleasant surprise after lunch!

We had to leave after about 15 minutes because I was becoming food for the mozzies. Dang should have brought my mosquito repellent out.

And that’s how my Sunday went by. How did yours go? 🙂


The Dutch Gastrobar (by UNION Group)
18 Parc Place Tower E, Ground Floor
Jalan Jendral Sudirman Kav. 52-53, SCBD
Jakarta Selatan 12190

Singapura May trippin’

By now you must be wondering…just how often do you go back to Singapore?! Well, about once a month actually. One of the things I’m most thankful for about Agent D’s posting to Jakarta is distance. 🙂

A one way trip to Singapore takes slightly under 1.5 hours by air. When you factor in the taking off and landing, toilet trips, announcements, etc, it is hard to even complete one movie in the plane (!). In fact, travelling 5km within Jakarta (with macet) would take 1.5 hours or more heh.

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Hello there, sunny island!

So anywayyy…I went back this time mainly for Adeline’s wedding but also to spend time with family and friends. Here are some pictures from the beautiful union of #Shaunade:

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Their Holy Matrimony was held at the charming Arts House (formerly Old Parliament House).

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Managed to steal a shot with the glowing bride before her first march in.

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A sacred moment. 😉

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Team Bride! Before rushing off to the hotel to set up.

Props & Crafts transformed the entire hotel reception area into the prettiest botanical garden EVER. They do customized props rental for all occasions/settings — bridal showers, baby showers, proposals, photo shoots, dessert tables, and of course weddings. Perfect for lazy people like me who cannot DIY for nuts.

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Together is a beautiful place to be. Aww.

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Photo table.

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Well wishes table + letters from the couple to their guests.

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Walking down memory lane with #shaunade.

As with all weddings, I was really happy to see and catch up with friends (some of whom I haven’t seen since I moved to Jakarta).

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With the whole bridal crew.

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awkwardzzz.

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Team Groom.

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Serene’s getting married in June and I’m counting down to that one.

I also managed to see lil’ baby Asaph for the very first time. He’s such a sweetheart, with such tiny toes and fingers. Congrats Josh and Cheryl – may God grant you both wisdom and love in raising Asaph. x

Weddings and friends aside, I managed to satisfy some of my many food cravings. Time spent in Singapore is always so short and I take my meal planning very seriously.

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Fried carrot cake (Chai tow kway) is an all-time favourite.

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Photos don’t do this justice. Fried hokkien mee from Tian Tian Lai, which I waited 45 minutes for.

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So simple yet so good. Economical bee hoon from Sembawang Hills Food Centre.

There definitely was more food that went into my tummy but I was either too hungry to take a picture, or my hands were oilyyy (some food simply tastes better with hands).

Not forgetting, precious time spent with my favouritest family + savouring every bit of home cooked meals. ❤

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Continue staying healthy and happy, Mama.

And before I know it, I find myself bidding farewell to Singapore again. Did the weekend just pass me by?

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Singapore Changi Airport.

At Home with Cayenne and Elements Concept Home Decor

As y’all know, Kemang is a treasure trove of unique art galleries, fashion label boutiques, and of course home decor stores.

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Ready to explore Kemang on foot! Colourful tiles outside Cayenne.

I had previously written about Galeri PotCahayalampu, and Confetti Gift Shop, all of which can be found in Kemang. Today, I’m going to share my new Kemang faves — Elements Concept and Cayenne.

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Elements Concept, Kemang.

ELEMENTS CONCEPT started out humbly with just a handful of selected locally-made furniture on display. Fast-forward two years later, it now carries a broad range of items such as teak wood, minimalist rattan and leather furniture alongside modern home accessories.

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Beautiful minimalist rattan and wood.

Elements stands for natural handcrafted home decor with a plain yet elegant style from quality materials. The two-storey kemang outlet has high ceilings, white walls, and full length glass windows, allowing loads of daylight to stream in.

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Elements dining set.

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Cozy vibes.

The blends of different textures and wood furnishings give off a cozy and warm feel. If not for the shop assistant, I’d totally chill on the hammock with my book. 🙂

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Glass candle holder with gold rim. I WANT.

Founder and owner Bastiaan Spil, who is of Dutch descent, followed in his parents’ footsteps by entering the furniture line. His family has furniture manufacturing facilities both in Cirebon and Jepara; everything is made from their own factories.

Through Elements Concept, Bastiaan wishes to open up new possibilities with traditional raw materials. His furniture and home decor can be summed up in a few words — quirky, fun, handcrafted, non-conventional, simple and elegant.

Am lovin’ how the local artisans from Elements inject playfulness and unexpected features into everyday objects!

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Spot the kawaii motorbike helmets encased in rattan?

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Absolutely adored this wooden mini refrigerator (legit Toshiba fridge inside).

To date, Bastiaan has worked on various interior projects for lifestyle ventures all over Indonesia, including the renowned Potato Head establishment in Bali.

I was so tempted to buy >>> of home decor pieces. But after exercising some self-restraint, I settled on 2 items. Here’s what I got:

  • Plant Wall for the living room, made of solid teak wood (IDR 1,375,000).
  • Hanoi Display Table, with removable tray top. Great for serving food/drinks to guests; currently my snack corner (IDR 875,000).

Dear Elements, please keep up the good work in introducing new perspectives to conventional home products. I’ll come visit soon again!


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Cayenne, Kemang.

An independent local furniture and homeware store, CAYENNE is best known for her colourful geometric cushions as well as pretty slip-covers in Indonesian ikat.

Apart from these, Cayenne also has one of a kind furniture pieces, beautiful timber desks, tableware, bed linen, and an extensive range of baskets for storage solutions.

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One of my fave items – TILED solid wood tables.

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And tiled stools. How cute!!

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Vintage sofa with matchy cushions.

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Cayenne dining sets and tableware.

Cayenne is owned by interior designer Dewi Haliman, a great supporter of local goods. Some of the brands sold in Cayenne include Ruma Manis’ ceramic plates, General Object’s woven baskets and wooden cake stands, and Haliman’s own creations ranging from jewellery boxes to chairs, bed frames, and more.

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Wooden kitchenware, rattan…you have it all.

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Woven baskets of all shapes and sizes.

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Intricate glassware.

What I love about Cayenne is that all her merchandise is designed, manufactured and handcrafted in Indonesia. The products are reasonably priced and come with fine craftsmanship – a rare find in today’s mass production world. Plus the store has a really intimate home setting. 🙂

If you get hungry midway through shopping – fret not. Stop by Breakfast at Cayenne for a hearty all-day brunch anytime. The cafe is positioned right beside Cayenne furniture store (they share the same porch).

My souvenir from Cayenne:

  • Glass box with brass trim to store my statement necklaces/makeup (can’t remember the price).

Few places reflect home like Cayenne. I’m sure you’ll find something there that best suits your needs. Till the next time! x


Elements Concept
Jl. Benda Raya No. 8C
Kemang, Jakarta Selatan

Cayenne
Jalan Kemang Selatan 8 No. C2 
Kemang, Jakarta Selatan

Under 15 Minutes Lifesaver Meal: Pork Shogayaki over Rice

This dish is a lifesaver.

Sometimes I go out for an extended tea session and get caught in bad Jakarta traffic on the way back. I finally reach home at 6.30 p.m.++ and dinner needs to be ready soon. What do I do?!! Pork Shogayaki over rice IS THE ANSWER.

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Pork Shogayaki over rice.

It is so simple and easy to make yet so yummmmmy! Perfect if you need to put something on the table in less than 15 minutes. 

Pork Shogayaki (豚の生姜焼き; buta no shogayaki) is a Japanese dish, where shoga = ginger, and yaki = grill or fry. The term “shogayaki” generally refers to pork in Japan, although beef can also be used. It is often served hot over rice (i.e. a donburi).

Consisting mainly of pork, some onions, and fluffy white rice, this one dish meal has got your proteins, vegetables (if you consider onion a vegetable?!), and carbs covered. Definitely a fast and economical way to feed hungry young men like Agent D (I refilled his rice bowl thrice the last time I prepared it).

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This one dish meal has got your proteins, vegetables and carbs covered (using pork belly shabu shabu meat in picture).

For this recipe, it is best to use thinly sliced meat. Alternatively, you can buy shabu shabu meat. Depending on how fatty you like your meat, you can either use pork belly (highest fat content), pork shoulder (medium marbling), or pork loin (least fatty). My personal preference is pork belly! 🙂

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 8 oz thinly sliced pork (pork belly, pork shoulder, or pork loin)
  • 1” ginger grated
  • ½ medium yellow onion sliced
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 2 tbsp rice wine
  • 1 tsp sugar

Instructions

  1. First, peel off the ginger skin and grate the ginger. Next, slice the onions to about ¼” thick.
  2. Heat a pan on medium heat, add a bit of cooking oil. Toss in the onions and ginger. Stir fry for a bit.
  3. Add in the thinly sliced pork and make sure it browns on both sides.
  4. Add in the soy sauce, mirin, rice wine, and sugar. Stir fry until sauce is incorporated.
  5. Cover the pan with a lid and cook on medium heat for another 3-5 minutes depending on how ‘cooked’ you want your onions to be. Some people like their onions crunchy whereas I like them to melt in my mouth.
  6. Remove the cover and turn up to high heat to reduce the liquid by 50% (thicken the sauce).
  7. Pour the pork shogayaki over a bowl of rice and it is READY. 🙂
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Enjoy! xxx

Recipe credit: http://www.itsmydish.com/pork-shogayaki/

INACRAFT 2017: Gifts, Housewares, Batik, and Much More

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INACRAFT 2017.

TODAY was the first day of the 19th Jakarta International Handicraft Trade Fair (INACRAFT 2017) held at Jakarta Convention Center. The event spans five days and will run from 26 – 30 April 2017.

Officially the biggest and most complete exhibition (in Indonesia) of gifts, housewares, handicraft, batik, accessories etc, it is an event not to be missed. I was in Singapore last year during INACRAFT 2016 and was really sad. So glad to make it for this year’s. 🙂

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Ticker counter at 11am.

True to my expectations, it was pretty crowded on the first day (and probably will be for the other days). I went at 11 a.m. and the crowd was already building up. It was worse by the time I left at 3 p.m. (yes four hours later!) – my driver took half an hour to make one tiny turn to pick me up at the lobby.

When I first entered the exhibition hall, I was overwhelmed. There were more than 1500 exhibitors and I didn’t know where to start. Oh by the way…after you are done shopping at Hall A, do continue walking on to Hall B – there are even more stalls there. If not for my appointment at 4 p.m., I’d definitely have stayed longer than four hours heh.

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Layout for Exhibition Hall A. There is a separate plan for Hall B.

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Upon entering Hall A.

I had in mind a few things to look out for at INACRAFT 2017 — batik, accessories, wood home decor, and storage boxes. And I’m happy to say I fulfilled my INACRAFT wish list.

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Batik cloth and clothing.

There are so many stalls selling batik from all over Indonesia…from silk to cotton to tulis to cap – you’ll find yourself spoilt for choice.

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Trendy batik flats (love the topmost right pair).

The housewares/home decor section was equally huge. There were stalls selling aromatherapy items, unique vases, wall art, teak furniture, wood carvings, artificial flowers, carpets, bath fittings, tableware, baskets, embroidered bed and cushion covers, just to name a few.

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All things wicker.

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Cutest handsewn stuffed animals.

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Of beautiful food covers and bottle-lamps.

My advice would be to go early; the place was teeming with people around noon and it got a little harder to move around and browse stall items.

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Crowd situation at noon.

There were a lot of stalls selling miscellaneous items like handmade gifts, stationery supplies, educational games, puzzles, gemstones, board games, pet clothing, and so on.

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Indonesian food that looks realllly real. This got me hungry.

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Onesies for your beloved kids pets.

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Handmade statement necklaces.

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Storage boxes for almost everything and anything.

There was an entire section of stalls run by various provinces around Indonesia; they sell many traditional items unique to their province. I find it amazing how so many people flew down from around Indonesia (with all their special items) just for INACRAFT Jakarta. 🙂

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Ivana hails from Lampung and I insisted she take a picture. 😉

Here’s what I bought at INACRAFT 2017 (much to Agent D’s dismay):

  • Batik necklace and batik brooches, all handmade.
  • Wood serving plate and a wooden vase which I fell in love with at first sight. Can’t wait to pair it with a few stalks of baby’s breath.
  • Batik fabric to make a dress and possibly a matchy-matchy outfit with Agent D.
  • Storage/jewelry box for my accessories (isn’t it just so pretty!). Lovin’ the embroidered silk drawers.
  • And since I’ve been spending the husband’s $$$, I thought I’d better get him something too – a batik casual tee.

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    The only thing I got for Agent D.


INACRAFT 2017

The 19th Jakarta International Handicraft Trade Fair

26 – 30 April 2017
Jakarta Convention Center, Jakarta

Explore Indonesia #10: Day Trip to Kampoeng Djamoe Organic

Kampoeng Djamoe Organik (KaDO) by Martha Tilaar Group is an oasis in the industrial area of ​​Cikarang, about 45-50 km east of central Jakarta. It functions as an environmental education + conservation centre and makes a great destination for a day trip out of Jakarta. 

We left Jakarta on a Thursday morning at 0730 and reached KaDO at 0930 (with smooth traffic, the journey should take less than an hour).

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Welcome to Kampoeng Djamoe Organic!

Upon our arrival, we were greeted by the friendly people of KaDO and served a welcome drink (a refreshing herbal concoction meant to warm the throat). As our group was pretty big, we were split up into two smaller groups with separate guides.

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Scenic green grounds.

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Excited tourists.

Our guide brought us on a tour around the Herbal Garden and introduced some of the plants that grow there. KaDO consists of 10 hectares of green land that is home to 650 species of plants, all of which are grown organically. The entire place is very well-organized; the plants have tags with information on their names and uses.

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KaDO’s plants are grown organically, without any fertilizers.

The plants at KaDO are grown for 3 main purposes — medicine, aromatherapy, and cosmetics. Did you know that…pineapple is good for the hair; lavender is good for the skin; teak leaves help prevent obesity?!!

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Such pretty orchids!

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Orchid (left) and plant (right) labelled with its name and uses.

Our guide jokingly told us to breathe in as much of the oxygen-rich air as we could (I personally took loads of deep breaths during my time there). According to him, the air we usually breathe in Jakarta is mixed with pollution and of much poorer quality than that of Kampoeng Djamoe’s.

After the Garden tour, we visited the Martha Tilaar Training Center where young girls from rural villages (some sold by their own parents sadly) are taught skills to make a living.

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Martha Tilaar Training Center.

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Young girls undergoing training. In this picture, they are mixing the herbs required for body treatment/spa.

They are offered free boarding and meals with a small allowance and learn treatment techniques for the body, face, hair, hand and foot.

Upon graduating, they get sent out to the Martha Tilaar Salon Day Spas around Indonesia. (I had previously wrote about my Peach Delima Body Treatment here: Of Spas in Jakarta: Martha Tilaar.)

I went on this day trip with the ASEAN Women Circle (AWC) and we got to plant our very own tree on KaDO’s grounds. Please grow well, little one. Perhaps I’ll come visit you some years later.

Following which, we proceeded to Kedai Sehat Alami for a snack break.

There was a short presentation on the benefits of herbal plants followed by interesting live demonstrations such as making healthy juices/herbal drinks, getting chlorophyll direct from leaves, etc. 

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We got to taste some of the herbal drink concoctions from their homegrown plants. Good stuff!

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Beneficial herbs for good health.

A buffet style organic lunch was included in the day tour package. The food was prepared fresh, using herbs from KaDO’s garden.

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Happy participants.

One highlight of this trip was meeting the woman behind all this, Martha Tilaar herself. She shared about her infertility journey of 16 years, where reputable doctors/professors around the world told her she would never be able to have children of her own. But her mom, a herbalist, decided to use herbs to treat her and she eventually conceived at 41 years of age (three years later). 

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Ibu Martha Tilaar. She’s nearing 80 but doesn’t look it at all?!

Speaking of herbs as an alternative medicine, KaDO has their very own resident doctor within the compound (with a Bachelor of Medicine from University of Indonesia and Masters degree in Herbs). The KaDO clinic takes a holistic approach to diagnosis and prescribes herbs instead of western medicine. The doctor is trained in techniques like acupuncture and acupressure as well. Instead of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), you might want to consider this. 🙂 

After lunch, there were more live demonstrations on makeup application and body care. Everyone danced to traditional music before departing KaDO, which was a really nice finish to our visit.

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Body SPA demo.

Each of us went home with a generous door gift from KaDO. I was given one packet of red ginger tea and one packet of Java tea + Martha Tilaar beauty products including a bottle of moisturizer + a REAL plant in a pot. It’s my very first plant in Jakarta and I hope it doesn’t die on me! :/

To sum up, Kampoeng Djamoe Organik Garden is a place that focuses on organic cultivation and conservation; it also functions as a center for environment education and training. It is their hope that they will be able to raise awareness on the importance of protecting our environment, conserving indigenous plants, while implementing green technology.

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Thanks for inviting me along, Shar!!

KaDO is a lovely green respite from Jakarta and would make an ideal weekend trip for families with children (especially if you want to educate them on the environment).

It is open Monday to Saturday from 0800 – 1630 (entrance fee of IDR 20k). They also have day tour packages ranging from IDR 95k – IDR 150k per person, inclusive of lunch. (Their website was last updated on 29 Apr 2014 so prices may have gone up.)

Drop by their website for more information: http://www.kampoengdjamoemarthatilaar.com/


Kampoeng Djamoe Organik (KaDO)
Jalan Ciujung, Kawasan EJIP Pintu II
Cikarang Selatan
Jawa Barat 17530