With a population of 17 million, traffic problems to rival the most populated of cities, and all the logistical issues of any large metropolitan area, Jakarta still appears to be taking a real interest in its heritage.
I was blown away by this. Jakarta has plenty to be concerned with.
Kali Besar and several of the historic buildings that line the canal are in the midst of restoration. These buildings are not only some of Batavia’s founding structures but they are ornate; architecturally stunning.
If you want to see Amsterdam in the tropics then Kali Besar will take you there.
The Maritime Museum and original Batavia fort are also being restored and set for an end of year completion. Tanjung Priok and Kota stations have been revamped. The whole area is being developed with the tourist in mind. Not a tacky tourist trap but a place where walking is the mode of transport and being side-swiped by an over zealous tuk-tuk driver doesn’t have to be a concern.
Several streets around the square are now closed to all traffic and because of this, cafes and bars with outside seating are springing up making the area pleasant both day and night.
A far cry from the warnings handed out in the past to anyone venturing down there after dark.
Jakarta’s ongoing efforts to make this an enjoyable, relaxing, and historically interesting part of the city are impressive.
In the evening after the rains subside, which they do like clockwork at 5pm, and the night turns cool and clear, a restaurant called the “Oasis” opens for business.
Housed in a two-story mansion built-in 1928 it was once the private residence of Dutch millionaire F. Brandenburg van Oltsende. From the moment you arrive you know this is going to be something special. As you approach the front doors they are opened inward and you are greeted by a smiling impeccably dressed host in an all white uniform.
Enter the foyer and a gong that is literally six feet tall resonates a deep tone to announce your arrival in the main room. The dark hard wood floors, stained glass windows, huge wooden ceiling beams, and tropical plants deliver an ambiance that helps sustain this restaurants world-class reputation.
I ordered an authentic rijsttafel which includes 12 different dishes all brought out individually by a line of young women dressed in traditional attire. Each one appears on your left side and remains until you have taken sufficient food from her particular dish; then the next one glides up. This goes on 24 times during the course of the meal as each one offers a return trip.
It was clear early on that I was never going to finish all the food.
Not only do you get the meal you ordered but a continual stream of tasty treats appear compliments of the house. Peanuts, dried fish, fried bananas, orange rind dipped in chocolate, satay, salmon salad, confit, coffee, tea…and these are not part of the meal. They simply provide your stomach with a distraction so it doesn’t have time to consider where all the food is going to travel and eventually come to rest.
The combination of food, service, entertainment, and atmosphere combine to make this a dining experience well worth every penny and well worth the stretchy pants required upon departure.
For photos of Indonesia click here.