Closing the Year with Dad and Mom in Jakarta

I’m finallllllly back to writing. And oh GOODBYE 2016, HELLO 2017!!!

Time seems to pass even faster than normal around year end with all the ongoing festivities. Agent D and I were back in Singapore the week before Christmas (I’ll leave that to another post). And then we had my parents over for Christmas and New Year.

Jakarta gets very quiet during Christmas and New Year because many Indonesians travel out of the country during that period. This is reflected in the road conditions — our car can actually travel at >50km/h for long stretches and we can get to destinations in one-third the time. Ahh-mazing, ain’t it? ūüôā

Thanks to dad and mom, we had a less lonely and more colourful Christmas and New Year in Jakarta. Here are some bits and pieces of their 11-day stay with us:

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Lunch stop at KOI Kemang, after hunting for household treasures in Kemang.

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Exploring the alleys of Ancol Art Market, Pasar Seni.

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Christmas lunch with Wes, Steph and baby Sophie at Keraton at The Plaza.

Over the past two weeks, we’ve been bingeing A LOT on all things rich and fatty. I feel like my face has widened an inch horizontally *horrors*.

Food aside, we’ve been shopping quite a bit too. I brought my parents to ITC Mangga Dua, the Indonesian equivalent of Bangkok’s Platinum Fashion Mall. We were there the entire day but still could not finish walking all six levels of the wholesale fashion hub.

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Honing my bargain hunting skills (the shopkeepers don’t look impressed at all heh).

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STAR WARS exhibits at Pacific Place Mall.

Mom’s birthday falls between Christmas and New Year and we got to celebrate it together. Dinner was at¬†Kembang Goela, a lovely restaurant with colonial interior serving traditional Indonesian food. My parents loved the place.

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Blessed Birthday Mom!

“A mother is she who can take the place of all others but whose place no one else can take.”¬†‚ÄĒ Cardinal Mermillod

Wishing you many more years of good health, love, joy, and peace as you walk this life with God!

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Thanks for everything and for always having my back (literally!).

This was our first New Year in Jakarta (last year we spent it in Singapore) and the fireworks were pretty spectacular. Five minutes before midnight of 1 Jan 2017, fireworks started going off all over Jakarta from people’s houses/backyards/gardens. It was a really beautiful sight from my balcony.

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Sparks of light all across Jakarta. Pardon the really bad picture – the blurish white/orange specks are actually fireworks.

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New Year’s lunch at¬†Meradelima Restaurant.

We spent a fair bit of time at home too, watching DVDs and playing with Freckles the kitty. It was dad and mom’s first time meeting Freckles and they became fast friends.

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Freckles sitting up to watch a movie with us.

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Such a baby!

I just sent dad and mom off at the airport this morning and am already missing their presence at home. Looking forward to seeing them again in February!

P.S. I will write about some of the places we visited in greater detail in separate posts. Till then, xoxo.

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Sightings in Jakarta and Food Thoughts

I always felt that time flew by especially fast when I was teaching back in my home country.

Oh dear it is week 6! The children’s exams are next weeeeek?!! NOOooooooooo.

Like whaaaat it is the 9th week of term already and next week is the holidays?!

I never expected to feel this way in Jakarta though. And I’m surprised I actually do. (Before coming to Jakarta, I had this vague image of myself sitting in a rocking chair and twiddling my thumb all day long whilst waiting for Agent D to come back home.)

I guess keeping myself busy and filling my schedule with routines (Monday bible study, Tuesday volunteering at Kampung Kids, Thursday cell group, weekly brunch meetups, etc) really helps. ūüôā So anyway…it has been 4 weeks since I started volunteering at Kampung Kids again with Dianne. We’re getting to know the kids better and I always look forward to seeing the little ones every Tuesday!

Just this Tuesday, we saw a really cute mobile¬†kerupuk/¬†keropok¬†store on a motorbike outside the kampung’s entrance. The¬†kerupuk/¬†keropok packets were stacked really high and we were amused by the sight of it! Just as I took out my phone to snap a picture, my driver (who is usually very serious and seldom smiles) ran in front of the bike and struck a pose, pretending to be the¬†kerupuk/¬†keropok man.¬†I told him his clothes were too nice for a “penjual” (seller) and we laughed. It was nice seeing the lighter side of him beneath his tough and stout exterior.

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The past 2 nights, I have’t been cooking dinner (which is REALLY RARE and yes, VERY AWESOME). As I mentioned in my earlier post, we usually eat in for weekday nights. Agent D had dinner appointments and I went along with him (I jump at every chance to take a break from my kitchen hehe).

On Tuesday, we had dinner at¬†Cassis Kitchen¬†–¬†a restaurant I’ve always wanted to try. Prices were pretty steep for Jakarta standards (my roasted black cod was ¬†IDR 255K!) but the ambience was lovely and the service was really good! Throughout our time there, we kept getting free items that were on the house to try. As we were with Agent D’s friends, I resisted whipping out my camera to take pictures of the place and food. :/

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The only picture that I got – huge candy floss that was on the house. *tooth decay*

Today, Agent D’s friends suggested to have dinner at¬†AMKC Atelier¬†– coincidentally another place I’ve been wanting to try ever since my banana friend, Sasha (B1) told me about it.¬†AMKC is the brainchild of Adhika Maxi and Karen Carlotta, the husband and wife team behind UNION. The food was okayish good but the desserts were SO GOOOOOOD.

We shared the Choco Banana Rum and the Martabak cake – both were fantastic.¬†The choco banana rum tasted like the good ol’ lana cake; the chocolate was very moist and rich (I like!!) and the banana-rum combination perfected it. Strangely, the martabak cake tasted like…the real martabak complete with chocolate, cheese and peanuts. It was a cake like no other, sweet and salty coming together.

SADLY, I didn’t manage to take photos again. I’ll def be dropping by AMKC Atelier to have another go with their cakes. I’m not done with them yettttt.

Good night, world. xx

Of Buffets and Spas in Jakarta: Hotel Mulia The Cafe & Martha Tilaar

I’ve been kept busy by friends visiting from my home country (3 friends¬†on different days¬†in the span of one week!). Perhaps God knows life in Jakarta can get lonely at times and He somehow orchestrates circumstances to bring close friends to me (through their work).¬†Being with old friends gives me the feeling of a home away from home, something I can’t quite explain in words. And I’m so thankful for them.

Jialing came last Wednesday to meet her clients and I brought her out for a massage and a traditional Indonesian dinner. On that same weekend, Adeline stayed at our place to spend time with me before meeting company clients on Monday. We ate A LOT, did hair spa, foot reflexology, pedicure, and facial together. And just 2 days ago on Wednesday, Pam flew in for work as well! We spent the entire day enjoying a sumptuous buffet and¬†2 hours of body spa. As one can see, although there’s quite a bit to do in Jakarta, FOOD and SPAS/ MASSAGES always top the list for visitors here (actually even for me as a “local” heh).

Today, I’m going to write more about my buffet experience at The Cafe @Hotel Mulia and spa experience at Martha Tilaar Salon Day Spa, a household name in Jakarta. I’ve long heard that the various buffet options (there are a number of restaurants serving buffet there) at Hotel Mulia are VERY GOOD but have not got down to trying any of them yet. These days, buffets are reserved only for special occasions due to slowing metabolism rates. *21st century concerns* Sigh, gone are the days of eating till you feel like puking but yet ¬†feeling so satisfied because you got your money’s worth.

From Mr.google, I found out that The Cafe @Hotel Mulia is ranked #1 out of 6,401 Restaurants in Jakarta and given a rating of 4.8 / 5 on Zomato. Woah not bad at all. After reading that, I got quite excited about having their lunch buffet! Eat good food first, can always lose weight later right? Rightttt.

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Interior of The Cafe @Hotel Mulia. (main area)

The lunch buffet costs about IDR 360k/pax without drinks. It is housed in a very spacey and pretty area with lush greenery outside their full-length windows. I liked how they drew the curtains so that sunlight could stream in. Service was top-notch, as with most other well-known restaurants in Jakarta.

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Happy diners – Pam, Ivana, and myself.

The entire cafe is divided into two separate sections – “real” food and dessert. Some guests might forget about/ miss the dessert section because it’s at another end of the cafe, on the far left side of the entrance. The decor for the dessert section is more whimsical, which I adored. I made a mental note to leave 30% of my tummy space for desserts later.

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A fragment of the main buffet section.

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You can pick and choose the ingredients for your gado-gado.

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Seating area at the dessert section.

The buffet spread was REALLY WIDE, one of the widest I’ve seen around. The food selection was international with various live stations — Indonesian cuisine and desserts, Japanese cuisine, ¬†Indian cuisine, Korean cuisine, Western cuisine, Chinese cuisine including dim-sum, and the list goes on. We were spoilt for choice. ūüôā

Here are some pictures (not all) of the food I ate:

By the time it was time for desserts, I think I was already 90% (and not 70%) full. So much for mental resolutions. Blame it on the good food.¬†I took some pictures of the pretty dessert section for your viewing but they didn’t turn out too well on my iphone camera (sorry!).

I have a very sweet tooth by nature i.e. I’m the sort of person that can have 2 rich, fudgy cake slices for lunch and nothing else. Given two options – savoury or sweet – I would always choose the sweet one without any hesitation. Hence, desserts are usually my most anticipated part of any buffet! I have a soft spot for them.

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Desserts shared amongst the 3 of us.

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Dessert we-fie.

Sadly, the desserts didn’t quite match up to their looks and our expectations. They were not bad, but they weren’t fantastic. The ice-cream erred on the airy side. The various shot-glass desserts¬†were fluffy and quite plain tasting while the macaroons were a tad too soft (I prefer them slightly crispy) and sweet. The grape¬†mille-feuille was not bad though and the Indonesian kueh was good. That said, I would still return to The Cafe for their main food.

After lunch, we headed to¬†Martha Tilaar Salon Day Spa. Pam, Ivana, and myself ¬†chose the “Peach Delima Body Treatment” because it smelt SO GOOOOD compared to the other products.¬†Martha Tilaar has a whole range of body treatments with different fancy names but they’re essentially the same thing — with different products (e.g., peach, ginger, herbs, etc).

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Martha Tilaar Center at Kuningan.

I prefer going to the¬†Martha Tilaar Center at Kuningan because it’s the original outlet and is very well maintained. Although¬†Martha Tilaar has many outlets all over Jakarta and Indonesia, many are actually franchises and the quality of service differs.

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Before spa – Ivana with her lemongrass drink.

A choice of cold/hot lemon grass drink or hot ginger tea is offered before and after spa. I find the cold lemon grass particularly refreshing. Oh and in case you were wondering, all Martha Tilaar body treatments are done in a private room.

My “Peach Delima Body Treatment” started off with a (peachy) body scrub. After washing off the scrub, I had a full body steam in one of these things below:

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The circular opening is for your head.

The (peachy) steaming lasted for about 10 minutes. I could fill my entire body perspiring inside. The therapist then got me to lie down on the spa-bed face down and and massaged me with peach-scented oil. She began with long, sweeping strokes followed by muscle kneading and rolling, where my muscles were worked on (like kneading dough). 

Over the past 7 months in Jakarta, I’ve visited quite a number of massage parlours. All of them use different massage techniques, some rougher than others (e.g., shiatsu massage, thai massage, etc). Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think Martha Tilaar adopts more of a swedish massage style – which I prefer. After the massage, I felt so soft all over as if I was¬†wrapped in a cloud.

The body massage lasted for about 45 minutes. Thereafter, my therapist applied a nice-smelling peach mask over my whole body. While waiting for the mask to set, she filled up my bathtub with warm MILK (or something that looks like milk and smells nice). THE CREAM BATH was my favourite part of the spa experience!! After a soothing massage, it was simply heaven on earth soaking in the warm milk. One word – shiok.

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If not for the fact that my therapist had to go home, I would have stayed in the tub the whole day! Soon, my therapist knocked on the door and told me to wash up (with peach bath soap). She gave me some peach moisturizer to apply on my body.

All in all, our “Peach Delima Body Treatment” lasted for 2 hours. The three of us smelt¬†so peachy sweet¬†after that¬†and we all went home and had a good night’s sleep.

Here’s the bill payment for your reference. I got 20% discount off the total bill because I’m a¬†Martha Tilaar member (just spend more than IDR 1 juta within a month and you can qualify for membership). Have fun! ūüôā

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Our bill payment at Martha Tilaar.