This week I’ve been in Jakarta for work. The advisable taxi is the Bluebird chain which is supposedly owned by the mayor or someone super important. They are reputable and by Western standards, very affordable. The rates are based on what seems like kilometers so one hour in heavy traffic from point A to B might set you back 4USD equivalent.
Shopping in Jakarta is not expensive and the cost of living is definitely cheap. A factory workers’ salary is approx. 100USD/month and they manage to get by so it gives a bit of an indication. However, when you drive along some streets you will see houses that are like palaces, so there seems to be a huge disparity between the rich and poor.
Today I’m not really going to contemplate this, I’m still gathering my ideas regarding rich/poor/exploitation etc. I just wanted to share a couple of new things that I really liked in Jakarta:
1) Kelapa Gading Mall – largest mall in Indonesia, and although it doesn’t look impressive, there are a lot of shops inside.
2) Pancious – a pancake house that has savoury and sweet waffles and pancakes (as well as other things on the menu)
The other times I have stayed in Jakarta, I have stayed at the Alila hotel. The hotel is also well known among locals for its spa. From memory, a 90 minute full body massage and scrub was 60 or 80USD. I think this is quite cheap by Western standards. It’s very convenient as well being on the bottom floors of the hotel. The ambience is amazing and it’s a very peaceful and relaxing 90 minutes.
This time, our hotel offered a 90 minute full body scrub and massage for 25USD. Score! Or not.
The massage and scrub was outsourced by the hotel and available in the hotel room. So there was no massage table, just someone who came to my room with a bottle of exfoliating scrub. The therapist talked throughout the treatment so it was not relaxing, and in the end I realised that although I was not expecting something like the Alila experience, I was probably expecting a bit too much for the price I was paying. But at the end of the day when I factor in the limited time I have in Jakarta, I would probably have preferred to pay the Alila price for the relaxation than anything at all for the makeshift in-room massage. By Indonesian standards, 25 USD is pricey for a scrub/massage of that standard. 60 or 80USD is expensive but expected for the higher standard of products used and just the general experience. So even though 25USD is cheap, I feel a bit ripped. I guess next time I will stick with what I know and just book the Alila again. It’s true in Indonesia as much as anywhere else, you get what you pay for.