Doing what a tourist would do @ Jakarta

May 29, 2010 at 13:45 | Posted in Indonesia, Travel | 1 Comment
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It’s a long weekend, and so I thought exploring funky Jakarta would be a good idea, but with no better idea on what to do, I do what a tourist would usually do: visiting tourist attractions on Vesak Day.

Immediately after a hearty (but not healthy) hotel breakfast, I took a Blue Bird taxi down to Ragunan Zoo, about 45,000 IDR from Jakarta city centre.
Possibly the only reason I want to visit the zoo is due to fact that I really want to check out my primate cousins at Schmutzer Primate Center. Think the zoo is really smart by charging separately for zoo entrance fee (4,000 IDR) and the primate center entrance fee (5,000 IDR); they had to, as they are targeting 2 separate groups of people.
As you enter the zoo, you will be greeted by the vastness of the space, and the freshness of the air, a stark contrast to Jakarta streets… and it’s of no wonder why families would go there for a picnic, cycling and some even jogging.

The primate center however, have stricter rules about food, water, backpacks etc., supposedly you are expected to come closer to the primates, and for your safety, and to prevent you from feeding the primates, you have to deposit your items at their counter.

Feedback on the visit, not really enjoyable or educational as I expected, unless you enjoy seeing animals in captivity…

The one thing that I’m happy about the visit is that I got to see 2 life-size Silverbacks upclose, well not really close.

And not forgetting the Orangutans too!  Funny thing that happened is that neither the taxi driver nor the hotel security guard know what I mean when i say Ragunan Zoo, but when I say “Ragunan… Orangutan…”, he knows what I meant.

Other photos from Ragunan:

in conclusion for Ragunan zoo: confusing to navigate, animals not exactly in their “natural” habitat enclosure, a place you would go to for a picnic and escape from Jakarta city.

But if you don’t have the time to travel that far south from the city centre, want a good escape and still want to do the tourist-y stuff, you can consider visiting the National Monument, also known as MONAS, basically President Sukarno got inspired by the Eiffel tower of Paris and wanted something similar, and there you have it, MONAS!

The entrance to the monument itself is a bit of walk, but it was a big space and people are seen jogging (even in the hot afternoon sun), picnic in grass patches (it’s a park around MONAS), cycling, and kite flying. Entrance fee to the monument compound is 2500 IDR. It was a mistake that I went there in the afternoon as the queue to the elevator that brings you to the top was quite long, not going to waste time on the queue. I found a stairs up but it only brings you up  to a base level opening where more people are flying kites; you can’t climb the stairs up to the top, only the elevator can, thought that i could challenge myself to some Vertical Marathon 😦

There’s a museum at the basement showing Indonesia’s struggle for independence from their Dutch colonial masters… WARNING: nationalist propaganda
And the whole complex is playing some nationalist anthem…

MONAS: a place to go if  you don’t mind listening to nationalist propaganda, go early (really early) if you want to go to the top to see the Jakarta city scape. The reason why I go there is partly because I want the taxi driver to know a prominent landmark to represents Jakarta city centre, at least I’m somewhere near my hotel.

Took a funky Bajaj to Plaza Indonesia (20,000 IDR) for some retail therapy; from Nationalism to Capitalism. Played “follow-the-locals” for crossing the road to Grand Indonesia shopping town; for the zebra crossing, you can depend the security guards with their whistle to help you out.

Both shopping centres are the Takashimaya & ION Orchard of Jakarta, in fact, it’s much much bigger… and it’s definitely some upscale shopping experience for me, I can’t really compare the prices as I usually don’t go for such upscale shopping in Singapore… but I do see shops repeating themselves, so if you have visited Plaza Indonesia, you can skip Grand Indonesia if you do not have the time… but walking around is definitely some good exercise, not sure of the distance I have walked though.

Some funny things I saw in Grand Indonesia:

An antique car on exhibition

A man covered with “brown stuff”

two things side by side...wonder why?

Took a taxi back to my hotel (Prasada Mansion), the map behind my hotel’s card definitely helped the driver with navigation.

Conclusions from my Jakarta exploration:

  1. Picnic and Shopping are national past time for Jakarta city dwellers, the “Mall culture” is definitely in…
  2. There’s a getaway even in busy Jakarta
  3. No one really speaks English (the taxi drivers, the service staff in tourist attractions, shops), some basic Bahasa should help you get around

Two more weeks (and final weekend) in Jakarta, travel plans for next week:

  1. Learn to take Busway, an affordable and comfortable aircon bus that have its own dedicated bus lane in busy Jakarta streets
  2. Take Busway to Kota, visit the colonial flavoured Kota Tua streets, and possibly a meal at upclass Cafe Batavia
  3. Visit Blok M to immerse myself in Jakarta mall culture

Possibly a run tomorrow morning, heard from my boss that the roads are closed on Sunday morning for people to jog and cycle.

Good luck to all Sundown Marathon runners!


On tipping & being environmentally friendly

May 18, 2010 at 13:59 | Posted in Indonesia, Travel, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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There wasn’t a safe in my hotel room, upon clarification, I’m supposed to have it in the room. So the reception promised to deliver a safe in my room.

I kept my doors open, prepared a 5000 rupiah note on the table, prepared to give out as a tip, even though it is the hotel’s fault that I did not have a safe in my room.

3 person came; the manager (with a neck tie on), the reception, and the technician. The technician installed the safe (and left immediately), the reception just stood outside the door, and the manager showed me how to use the safe, asked me if I need room service, whether I need to change my towel etc.

Who should the 5000 rupiah goes to? In the end, it’s still there on the table.

I was trying to be environmentally friendly by not asking for daily room service, don’t really NEED that… seriously, do you change your bed sheets and towels daily at home? If not, why so when you travel?

Below are some tips on tipping, hope it comes in useful…

Tips on Tipping
Gratuity can be a tricky business: what’s just right in one country can be miserly–or extravagant–in another. For this handy guide, there’s no charge

It’s every traveler’s nightmare. the porter brings your bags to your room and helpfully explains how to access CNN. He shows you how to turn on the lights and adjust the air-con. Then he points to the phone and says: “If there’s anything else you need, just call.” All this time, you’ve been thinking one thing: “How much should I tip this guy?” Out of desperation you shove a few notes into his hand, hoping that you’ve neither offended him nor become the sole benefactor of his son’s college fund.

It’s difficult to divine what constitutes an appropriate tip in any country. In Japan, if you leave a couple of coins on the table, the waiter is liable to chase after you to return your forgotten change. In New York, on the other hand, if you leave less than 15%, your reservation might not hold up next time. Asia, with it’s multiplicity of cultures and customs, is a particularly difficult terrain. To make your next trip a little easier, here’s a guide to tipping across the region:

Everything goes in Thailand’s capital, and that rule applies to tipping as well. Some places expect it; others don’t. In general, the more Westernized the place is the more likely you’ll be expected to leave a gratuity.
Restaurants: Some top-end eateries will add a 10% service charge to the bill. If not, waiters will appreciate you tacking on the 10% yourself. However, if you’re eating at a down-scale restaurant a tip is not necessary.
Porters: If you’re staying at one of Bangkok’s many five-star establishments, expect to tip the porter 20 to 50 baht, depending on how many bags you have.
Taxis: Cabs are now metered in Bangkok, so there’s no haggling over your fare. Local custom is to round the fare up to the nearest five baht.

Gratuity is de rigueur in this money-mad metropolis at all but the lowest establishments. Even bathrooms in posh hotels have little dishes for loose change.
Restaurants: Most places automatically add a 10% service charge to the bill, but the surcharge often ends up in the pocket of the owner, not the staff kitty. If the service is good, add another 10% to the bill, up to HK$100 if you’re in an especially nice restaurant.
Porters: HK$10 should do it at all but the nicest hotels where a crisp HK$20 bill may be more acceptable.
Taxis: Round up to the nearest dollar, although many drivers will do this on their own when making change.

Tipping is not part of local culture, but international influences have turned some Westernized palms upward in search of a few extra rupiah.
Restaurants: A 10% service charge is added at most high-end eateries. At moderately priced restaurants, 5,000 rupiah should do it–if the service is superb, tack on an extra 1,000 or so.
Porters: Pay a few hundred rupiah for each bag.
Taxis: Most drivers will automatically round up to the next 500 rupiah. Others will claim they have no change and will bleed you for more. Don’t accept anything more than a 1,000-rupiah markup.

Like Indonesia, tipping in Malaysia is confined to the pricier Westernized joints, which often add a 10% service charge to your meal or hotel room.
Restaurants: If you’re at a hotel restaurant, expect a 10% service charge or add the equivalent yourself. But at local hawker stalls you’ll be bargaining for your laksa anyway, so there’s no need to add a gratuity.
Porters: At five-star hotels, one or two ringgit will suffice. At lower-end establishments, don’t feel compelled to tip.
Taxis: Many taxis are now metered, so you can just round up to the nearest ringgit. In unmetered taxis, expect a session of hard bargaining for the ride.

Tipping is common in Manila, and anything above 10% will gain you undying loyalty.
Restaurants: Even if a service charge is included, custom dictates adding another 5%-10% to the bill.
Porters: Service in top hotels is good and should be rewarded with 20 pesos per bag.
Taxis: Most cabs are metered, and rounding up to the next five pesos is a good rule of thumb.

Tipping is not part of Korean culture, although it has become a matter of course in international hotels where a 10% service charge is often added.
Restaurants: If you’re at a Korean barbecue joint, there’s no need to add anything extra. But a sleek Italian restaurant may require a 10% contribution.
Porters: If you’re at a top-end hotel, international standards apply, so expect to fork over 500-1,000 won per bag.
Taxis: Drivers don’t expect a tip, so unless you’re feeling remarkably generous, keep the change for yourself.

According to government mandate in the Lion City, tipping is a no-no. It’s basically outlawed at Changi Airport and officials encourage tourists not to add to the 10% service charge that many high-end hotels tack on to the bill.
Restaurants: Singaporeans tend not to leave tips, especially at the bustling outdoor eateries. Nicer restaurants do sometimes levy a 10% service charge, and there’s no need to supplement that.
Porters: Hotel staff are the one exception to the no-tipping rule. As a general guide, S$1 should be adequate for baggage-lugging service.
Taxis: Drivers don’t expect gratuity, but they won’t refuse if you want to round up the fare to the next Singaporean dollar.

Like Japan and China, Taiwan is not a tipping society–even though much of the currency seems to come in coin form.
Restaurants: Tipping is not expected. However, that rule is changing as American-style eateries introduce Western ways.
Porters: You can offer NT$50, but the hotel staff won’t be overly offended if you don’t tip.
Taxis: Gratuity is not expected, although rounding up the fare to the next NT$5 helps avoid unnecessary change.

1st day in office

May 18, 2010 at 13:12 | Posted in Indonesia, Research, Work | Leave a comment
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What I used to make business users understand the process of software development

What the business owners like to see

Had my first meeting with my Indonesian boss, and my Indonesian project partner, they were definitely impressed and entertained by the comic strip above.

Thankfully, I have not encountered any Pointy-Haired Boss so far, all the bosses I came across definitely knows their stuff!!!

Conducted my first interview with the key users of the old system.

As I’ve said, the Jakarta office handles a single large customer, hence they are obliged to adapt to their system.

The problem the staff faces is double work; entering data into their own system & the customer’s system. Also went through the whole process with them, usual process: Purchase Requisition > Negotiation Process > Purchase Order > Send for production > Shipment > Billing … BUT, the devil is in the details … so got to work out the details tonight, and continue with the interview tomorrow. Need to research more on terms like Forwarder Cargo Receipt (FCR) and Bill of Lading (B/L, BOL)


I got no complaints about Prasada Mansion, the hotel that I stay in… BUT …

There’s no gym in my hotel! The hotel is only 5 storeys high, no point doing stairs training!

Concluded that I wasted too much time, so ended up only doing an interchange of front bridge & push ups. Total 100 push ups, hold for bridge till tired.

Unstructured I know, will do skipping tomorrow.


Bought my SIM card, and all thanks to Google Translate, I managed to successfully register with IndoSat and my number is activated.

Here’s my number: (+62) 85691139253

Some lousy pics here, definitely not cut out to be a photographer:

Night scene fail

Night scene fail

Night scene fail

Night scene fail

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