5/29/18: Exploring Jakarta By Foot

I finally slept in today! It was 8 am when I opened my eyes. It was so nice to be able to wake up on my own accord for a change.

I went downstairs for breakfast. The hostel provided oats— wow! This is the first time I’d seen oats at a hostel. I mixed in some hot water and ate them with almond butter and cereal that they also had out.

I researched some coffee shops to go to (this is what I always do when I get to a new city), and ultimately decided on Crematology because it was nearby a restaurant I also wanted to visit.

My Grab driver started talking to me in Indonesian, presumably to ask me where I wanted to go. I told him I don’t speak Indonesian.

“You don’t speak Indonesian?”

We kept going, stopping every few minutes so that he could check his phone for navigation.

He asked me again.

“Do you speak Indonesian?”
“No, I don’t. I’m Japanese.”

Again, people really don’t believe me when I tell them I don’t speak the language! It’s like they can’t fathom that I’m not Indonesian. It simultaneously cracks me up and puzzles me.

10 minutes later, we were stopped by some cops. They waved us over, indicating to us to pull over to the side of the road. We got off the bike, and they checked my driver’s driver license and registration. They pulled over all the other motorbikes coming down the road as well. I don’t know why they were targeting motorbikes specifically. I am guessing they wanted money.


The cops let us go and we were on our way again.

After much navigational confusion (I think my driver is worse with directions than me), I finally got to Crematology around 10.

I worked on the blog for a couple hours, and then made my way north to Burgreens for lunch.


It was on the bottom floor of a big, upscale mall called Pacific Place. The menu reminded me of Peacefood Cafe in NYC.

On the way to the mall
Inside Pacific Place

After much internal deliberation, I went with the barley quinoa bowl. It touted “tofu bacon” in the description, but the bacon was more like sesame-crusted tofu. Not bacon-y at all. And the edamame made the whole thing a bit slimy.

All-in-all, though, it was fresh, healthy, and tasty, and it was what I needed after a few consecutive oily meals.

Barley quinoa bowl

I decided to walk around the city: first stop was the National Monument.

To get there, I basically had to follow this one huge road for a few miles. There was construction going on to my right and cars whizzing by me to my left, so it wasn’t the most pleasant walk.


I eventually got there and walked through the park. I thought I could exit on the other side, but the gate was closed so I had to walk all the way back to the entrance.

National Monument


The park


Nearby was Southeast Asia’s biggest mosque, Istiqlal. I couldn’t go inside since the gates were closed, so I only walked by it.

I kept going, thinking I could go somewhere to charge my phone and chill for a bit. I hit a huge market and walked past store after store, stall after stall, of fruits, veggies, bakso (meatballs), rice cakes, clothes, shoes, cell phone accessories, bags… on and on.

Once I got out of that market, I decided to walk to a mall about a mile away. Maybe I would find somewhere to chill there.

Grab driver hang out-spot …?

I got to Gajah Mada Plaza and saw that they had a big supermarket downstairs. I can never say no to a big supermarket.

I picked up some fruit— bananas and papaya— soy milk, a bottle of water, rice crackers for my plane ride, and a razor.

I’ve always wanted cheesy mayo

At this point, it was 5:30 and I was close to a vegan restaurant I had bookmarked, Indo Vegan, so I thought why not just walk there and pick up dinner.

I wasn’t hungry yet, so I ordered Hai Yu Mee (fried noodles with mushrooms) to go.

I was hoping the restaurant would have WiFi so I could order a Grab, but it didn’t.

I got my noodles and walked north, in the direction to my hostel. I figured I would find something— a hotel, Starbucks, mall, anything— with WiFi.

I saw a guy with a Grab jacket sitting on his motorbike, so I approached him and asked if he could drive me. He didn’t understand English, so I searched my hostel on his phone. He was super slow and couldn’t figure out how to get directions from our current location to the hostel. He kept hitting the “show your location” button instead of the “directions” button.

When he finally figured it out, he told me he’d take me. We weren’t doing it through the Grab app, so I asked him how much. He didn’t know how to say the number in English, so I got my calculator app out and had him type it. He put, “25,000,” which was way too much. My hostel was only 3 kilometers away, and I knew that if I did it through the app it would be less than 10,000.

I walked away, annoyed that he had wasted my time.

I kept walking in the hopes of finding WiFi. I turned down a street lined with food stalls and fresh produce. And no WiFi to be found anywhere.


I eventually found an Alfamart, the convenient store chain in Indonesia. I knew it usually has WiFi, so I walked in and asked the staff for the password. They told me there was no WiFi.

I walked out and found another Alfamart a few hundred meters away. This time I decided to just guess the password on my own. I typed in “alfamart,” and it connected! I had a moment of happiness. There are few things more satisfying than correctly guessing a WiFi password.

But I soon discovered that the WiFi wasn’t working. There was a checkmark beside the network name, but the three bars weren’t showing up at the top of my phone.

I kept walking. At this point, I had closed the gap from 3 kilometers to 2 kilometers. It was now just a 30-minute walk to my hostel. I was tired of walking, but I figured I might as well just walk the rest of the way.

When the market ended, the roads got quieter and a bit more sketchy. There weren’t a lot of street lights and I saw a lot of poverty and homeless people. I tried to walk fast and blend in with the locals as much as possible. I was really glad that I was wearing jeans— I think I would have stuck out way more if I was wearing shorts.

I got home safe and sound around 7 pm. Phew!

I still wasn’t really hungry, so I played around on my laptop for a bit.

Once I got hungry, I went down to the kitchen and ate my dinner. The noodles were way more oily than I expected. They were good, but just had way, way too much oil.


I cut up half my papaya, ate that, and then went back to my room. I checked my Health app to see how much I had walked today: 13.1 miles. A half marathon exactly!

I spent the rest of my night watching YouTube videos and went to bed around 10.

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