We all went out after the show and celebrated at a place called JJ’s, a few of the patrons that saw the show were there too and we were able to talk to them in detail about their lives here in Jakarta, and how different things are here in Indonesia. It also made me think about the two weeks we’ve had here and all the things we’ve learned. I thought it would be great to share them with you all.
!. There are million restaurants in Jakarta, each appealing to varied tastes and preferences. We have noticed many of the same restaurant chains that we see in the US, but the food is NOT the same. LOL There are Johnny Rockets, KFC, Burger King, Dunkin Donuts, Krispy Kreme, Starbucks, etc. Nothing tastes the same in Jakarta. Well, maybe with the exception of the French fries at Burger King (as told to me by another parent). They also don’t eat any pork here, so the bacon here is beef bacon, the ham is not really ham, and most of the burgers sure don’t taste the same. They also love mayo here, they even put it on their donuts.
2. Matcha is everywhere, literally EVERYWHERE, in every form you can think of. Matcha is basically a type of powder made from green tea, so lots of food is green, as well as pastries, and drinks. I personally like green tea, but it’s very sweet here. In fact, everything is either spicy or very sweet, and they don’t use artificial sweeteners here, so it’s all made with sugar. Some of it is quite delicious, other times it’s very overpowering. Red beans are also a staple here and they use it in drinks, in cakes, etc. It’s an odd combination and it didn’t exactly please my palate, but if hey, to each’s own.
3. Drinks even tasted differently here, for example a ginger ale tasted like it at first, but then the after taste was cream soda. Even Sprite and Coke tasted differently here, almost sweeter. I tried the coffee at the hotel, but felt like I was drinking sludge so I switched to black tea which was actually delicious. Most of the tea vendors in the mall offered bubble tea, which is basically filled with bubbles made of Tapioca. I’m not a big fan, but Bridget liked it. The menu items at the tea place was very interesting offering grass jelly and milk . . . . mmmmm, sounds delish right?
4. The water . . . ah the lovely Jakarta water, which will basically kill you, or at least land you in a hospital with severe diarrhea. It’s something I guess you have to get used to, and there is bottled water sold everywhere for just pennies. Thankfully the normal water is not even used for making ice in the restaurants, it’s basically completely unfit to consume.
We basically stuck with bottled water for the whole two weeks while we were there, and we also use it to be able to brush our teeth, wash fruits and vegetables, etc. Although we did take showers with that water, we definitely did not feel clean, and we would follow it up with antibacterial gel after washing our hands. Even washing the clothes seemed kind of pointless. I don’t think we ever really felt clean, but I guess we smelled clean thanks to Tide laundry pods, and good smelling shampoo and conditioner.
5. Illness was pretty rampant and went through the cast swiftly and unforgivingly. Everyone was dropping like flies around us, but luckily Bridget and I were spared from any sort of stomach bug, but we felt so bad for the rest of the cast and crew. Many people took antibiotics, which is also readily available in Jakarta, without even a prescription! You want Cephalexin? Just ask the pharmacist and they will hand over a sleeve of antibiotics. It’s the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.
6. Okay, I’ve got to cover the juices here before I forget . . . .every morning, there was a ‘juice of the day’ so to speak that was included with breakfast. One morning it was guava, mango, sweetsop, and orange. I have to say that the orange juice here tastes completely fresh squeezed, even the ones in the store, and it’s more of a tangerine flavor which was absolutely delicious. I don’t know that the US does to their oranges when they juice them, but it’s almost sour and not at all the same. Tropicana could learn a lesson or two on making orange juice!
7. Do you know that almost every kid in Jakarta has a nanny? I mean EVERY kid. If families have four kids, it’s not at all unusual to see one nanny per child, sometimes even two nannies per child! Say what?? We often saw families out to dinner, and the parents/adults were on one side of the table and the nannies and the kids were on another. It’s such a luxury in the US to have a nanny, but apparently labor is pretty cheap in Indonesia, and many families have a nanny/housekeeper AND a driver! Most parents both work, so the nanny pretty much takes care of all household things as well. I spoke to one family and she confirmed that it’s common practice in Jakarta. Wow!
8. Toilets and personal hygiene. I’m not even sure where to go with this topic. It’s such a strange thing to see the bathrooms in Jakarta. We experience normal toilets, but also a hole in the ground that you have to squat above. What was even stranger to see, or not see frankly, was a lack of toilet paper holders, meaning no toilet paper. Seriously . . . NO TOILET PAPER in some bathrooms, just a little bidet looking thing that squirts water and I guess washes your private parts, and then it’s drip dry. Even in the hotel, all the toilets have that bidet contraption and they were very stingy with toilet paper. But then in contrast to that they cleaned the marble floors like every hour. No matter where we went in the hotel and the malls, the floors were spotless!
Even though there were many things in Indonesia that took getting used to, it was overall one of the best things we have experienced so far. The people are so warm and welcoming and made our stay so amazing. I’m so glad that Bridget got to see a part of the world she may never have had the opportunity to see and being on the cast of Annie made it all possible. I don’t know if we will ever have another opportunity to come back to Jakarta, but I can say in all honesty, that I know we will miss so many parts of it. It was bittersweet to leave today, but I know that we have more adventures ahead and Singapore awaits us. This will be our home base until mid September and there is so much on our to-do list and so much to look forward to!
We are headed to Phuket, Thailand tomorrow for a little getaway this week as it’s a layoff week, so stay tuned for more posts on our upcoming adventure there. Bridget and I are going with Jen and Lilly Bea, and I’m absolutely positive that it will be another experience we won’t soon forget. I don’t know how much wifi access we’ll have, but I promise to try and post another blog update when we are in Thailand. Thanks for following along on our journey!