A day at Kota Lama Jakarta, Indonesia …..

Kota Tua, Jakarta is considered to be on the ‘must-see’ list in the city, so since Nel, Faiz and I were first timers in Jakarta, Sinyo said we should visit there and made arrangements for us to visit….

There is no entrance fee to enter Kota Tua or Fatahillah Square, thus making it a perfect destination for all sorts of travelers visiting Jakarta.

Fatahillah Square is located in the heart of Kota Tua which was formerly known as Batavia, the Capital of the Dutch East Indies. Kota Tua spans an area of 1.3 square kilometres in Jakarta’s north and west and is considered the historic heart of Jakarta.  A stroll through Kota Tua may not fully return you to its former days of glory,  but definitely hints of why or how Kota Tua was once dubbed “The Jewel of Asia” and “Queen of the East” by European sailors

Fatahillah Square happens to be the centerpiece of Kota Tua…. And when we were visiting, I couldn’t help being both amused and half – appalled by the carnival-like atmosphere there with local buskers, school children biking around, colourful and strange human statues in all green or silver or gold and local and foreign tourists snapping photos…

The square is scenic due to the range of colonial buildings (picture Dutch-influenced architecture) that surround it, and if we could take away all the carnival and activities, you might believe you were in Amsterdam or one of the Dutch towns – I have been to Netherlands and lived in Delft, Groningen and visited the Hague and Amsterdam often so I would know….

You won’t miss finding Si Jagur which is a 24 pounder portuguese cannon said to be a trophy of war from the fall of Malacca to the Dutch in 1641. It has an inscription: ‘Ex me ipsa renata sum’ (I was born out of myself) and the ciphers X + I + V = XVI, indicating that 16 smaller cannons were melted down to create it. “Si Jagur” was made by M.T. Bocarro in Macao (China) for the portuguese fortress in Malacca…

Si Jagur is kind of unmistakable as there is a suggestive fist at the end, with the thumb between the index and middle fingers – which is also considered a sexual symbol in Indonesia, and it is said that childless women would offer flowers and sit on the cannon in the hope of bearing children….

Along the strip outside of the Jakarta History museum, there are a selection of modern cafes. We couldn’t visit all but we headed to two cafes that caught out eyes… Kedai Seni Djakarte and Acaraki Café.Despite their modern ambiance, these restaurants serve Indonesian delights.

The ambience and interior of Kedai Seni Djakarte is a combination of colonial classic and french street cafe and the cafe was truly beautiful….

I ordered Mie Goreng Djakarte and a refreshing glass of Es Lidah Buaya or Aloe Ice…. The taste was actually good but could have been better by being more spicier but then again not everyone can eat spicy…. Hahahah…

The service was pretty friendly and good too….The other cafe – Acaraki café, is located in the Kerta Niaga 3 building of Fatahillah Square, and it serves an amazing selection of traditional and fusioned herbal beverages known as jamu, and each variation has its own benefits for bodily health.

The smell of turmeric wafts mildly with the cool air conditioned air as we opened the door and we were wowed by the cafe… Acaraki definitely stands out as a welcoming cafe with the right ambience including vintage ornaments and ample lighting that enhance the humble atmosphere.

There is a bar counter that is voided of any boundaries and we were ushered to sit there and the barista welcomed us warmly and regaled us with some history of Jamu what Acaraki does…

Acaraki introduces customers to a new way of enjoying jamu by way of a modern take. Jamu is processed using coffee-making equipment such as a French Press and a percolator. At Acaraki, jamu is served in both blended and filtered-style (single origin).

The name ‘Acaraki’ is taken from Madhavpura inscription, known as the original title of herbal mixer in Majapahit Kingdom who worked for Javanese royal families.

Acaraki serves two common jamu-based drinks – Beras Kencur and Kunyit Asam – that are brewed using Tubruk, French Press, and percolator V60 methods which yield different intensities from jamu flavour that tends to be strong and bold.

You can also taste signature drinks such as Golden Sparking, a blend of Kunyit Asam, Gula Aren or Brown sugar, and sparkling soda and we also tried Golden Yogurt, a Blend of Kunyit Asem with sugar and Yogurt that is available both hot and iced…. They were delicious….

Acaraki also serves some traditional snacks like Tempe Mendoan, Crispy Tape Rolls, Garlic Casava which were pretty good…

We then headed to the Jakarta History Museum which was once the former Town Hall of Batavia which was constructed in 1710…. The Jakarta History Museum sits proudly on the Fatahillah Square, opposite Cafe Batavia. This old Dutch building houses many examples of timber furnishings and old images of Batavia.

The first hall or section we came across was one of 19th century Batavia in murals with life’s hustle and bustle on the walls. It is said that due to the building’s intense humidity, the paints could not stick properly to the walls. Thus, most of the murals have remained unfinished and unpainted….

Despite being Batavia’s governmental and administrative center, the Town Hall had dungeons. Hundreds of prisoners were awaiting trials. Which eventually led to a death sentence in these tiny cells. Starving and cramped, they slowly and painfully rotted and met their end inside. When the tide was high, water flooded the dungeons and submerged the prisoners.

An Indonesian Prince Diponegoro was also a prisoner at the Town Hall behind its bars before his exile to Manado, North Sulawesi. 

The Jakarta History Museum’s collections cover an extensive timeframe, starting with the prehistoric era and ending with the contemporary period.

The oldest exhibit from the museum is a replica of the Tugu Inscription dating back from the 5th century. Maps, drawings and a monument symbolizing the friendship between the Sunda and the Portuguese people dating from the 16th century give details about the way in which the city was founded.

A rich collection of furniture containing pieces from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries displays the evolution of the Indonesian society. The blend of European, Chinese and native influences create an exotic and highly interesting style that defines the local culture and civilization. The furniture collection has been evaluated as the most complete colonial collection from the entire world.

Art pieces, glass items, pottery, stone and wood carvings, swords, metallic objects, leather and cloth items are also present in special collections. They are all organized chronologically, depicting Indonesian history through their antique look.

After the museum, we took a walk to the canals and came to Toko Merah … Toko Merah or Red Shop Dutch colonial landmark in Kota Tua… Built in 1730, it is one of the oldest buildings in Jakarta. The building is located on the west side of the main canal Kali Besar or Groot River…. The building’s red color contributes to its name.. It was built as the mansion of Governor General of the Dutch East Indies, Baron Van Imhoff and once provided accommodation for William Bligh.

We also got a little taste of the Jakarta Public Transportation Experience , and hopped on the TransJakarta…

Basically, TransJakarta is a BRT, pretty much like the Sunway BRT we have and it is responsible for reducing transport emissions for Jakarta and providing an alternative to congested streets. Special elevated TransJakarta stations (pretty much like the LRT stations we have in KL) collect the fare in advance via e-wallet and provide an elevated platform for rapid boarding and alighting.

And the most amazing thing is a ride on the TransJakarta only costs a flat fare of IDR3500!!!!

Our little adventure in Kota Tua had a sweet ending as we headed to Mixue for some ice cream… Mixue, which originates from China sells products including ice cream mixed with tea, milk teas and fruit teas for affordable prices in Indonesia and apparently also in Malaysia (as well as many other countries)

Out from the humid weather, this was definitely a real treat… and a most welcomed one… we definitely had an amazing day visiting Kota Tua and I really would love to return again…

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