Today was a Mommy/Daughter day with Bridget and I and we wanted to just hang together and do our own thing. One of the things on my bucket list was to go visit the Pasar Rawa Bening, also known as the Jakarta Gem Center, so off we went on an adventure we won't soon forget. I don't know if I mentioned this already, but everything here is on the left. The cars drive on the left hand side, the steering wheel is on the left, you walk on the left, go up the escalators on the left, etc. It's taken a little while to get used to it, and I've actually learned how to even say the word "kiri". Something else I find entertaining is that American pop music is literally heard EVERYWHERE, in taxis on the radio, in restaurants, shopping malls, etc. It's hysterical to hear it everywhere we go! LOL There is a lot of American influence here, and there are also many things written in english (especially in stores, malls, restaurants), which I was surprised to see. Of course I still have to use my handy dandy Goodle translator when I get in a pinch. It's been very helpful to try and explain what I might be looking for, etc.
As the taxi can pulled up to the Gem Center, I noticed that it's a very ornate and colorful building. Once we entered, it was nothing that I've ever seen before, basically hundreds of vendors with their gems on display and it was literally everywhere I turned, 3 floors of this inside the space of a Target sized space. I literally didn't even know where to start. These are all loose gems, every possible kind you can think of, and then there are thousands of settings to choose from. What I found most interesting was that 90% of the settings were all men's rings! Wait, what?? I guess men's rings here are very popular! It was also mainly male vendors, and most of them were smoking so it made the visit interesting. There was woodworking, jade, jewelry making, pearl stringing, ring setting, ets. and I was completely overwhelmed. I think I needed to do some investigative work before actually visiting the center, just so I would have an idea of what I wanted.. . . I was clueless. I also didn't know if things were real gold or silver. I did walk out with a few finds, but I almost feel like I needed a lesson in gemology to know if I was getting a good deal or not. LOL I would have taken more photos, but honestly we were stared at everywhere we went and I felt awkward taking photos as we were definitely on watch. I managed to get one pic, and that was about it.
We stayed for about an hour, and then decided to head back to the Grand Indonesian to spend the rest of our day together. As we exited the Gem Center, there was no taxi line, or a place to grab a taxi, so it was difficult figuring out what to do. I must have looked like a fish out of water, as a young man asked me if I was looking for a taxi, and he pointed me to one that was down the street. I was a little leary at first, but then saw it was a Blue Bird taxi (the only one that has been approved overall), so I told him where we wanted to go and he got us there safely. It was literally a half hour cab ride, and it cost all of $7.00. Crazy cheap how affordable the taxis here are. Oh and speaking of money, if you happen to be heading to Indonesia, cash is definitely preferable and easier to handle, but if you really want to use credit (bigger stores, etc.), you might want to make sure that you bring your Mastercard, it's the only card widely accepted worldwide and American Express or VISA is often not taken.
So off we went to the Grand Indonesian and spent the rest of the day shopping, browsing, eating, and enjoying some one on one time together. We ended the day with another excursion to the market where we found some interesting items. Be sure to check the Annie Tour Pics tab! It was exactly what we needed, and I look forward to seeing where the next few days will take us. I do know that I want to go back to the local flea market, before we head to Singapore next week. From what I've heard it is much more expensive there, so for the time being, we are enjoying the affordability of our stay in Jakarta.