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Jakarta today is packed with traffics, branded cars, electronic gadgets, cafes, and many other that makes one easily recognaize it as a cosmopolitan city.

Jakarta emerge into gateway of Indonesia starting from lifestyles (such as cafes, spas, yoga), fashions, to headquater of multinational company's.

The fast changes due to developement and typical urban culture, makes Jakarta becomes more interesting to explore.



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What "Gulali" is?

Gulali comes from the word "gula" which means sugar. It is made of sugar and has the appearance of strands of hair tangled together. Usually it comes in white or pink color.

The way gulali served is just like a sandwich. One round tasteless cracker, then the bundle of hair sugar in the middle, then another round cracker on top. This sweet food is extremely popular among small children. However, many adults (including the author) have been spotted on the street buying and eating this sweet as well.

What the most authentic food of Jakarta is?

Ketoprak is one of the most authentic food of Jakarta . Sold by street hawkers using the gerobak(=cart) or kakilima, ketoprak can be found almost everywhere across Jakarta . 

Ketroprak consists of vermicelli, fried tofu, sliced cucumber, ketupat (steamed rice wrapped and cooked in leaf), and bean sprout, poured with sweet peanut sauce and cracker on top. For one who never tries any sweet peanut sauce over a main dish before, this might taste a bit funny. However, most people agree that the best part of the food is the slightly salty cracker dipped into the sweet peanut sauce. Definitely a must-try-food when visiting Jakarta .

How "mie tek-tek" gets its odd name?

In Indonesian 'mie' means noodle. This mie tek tek is basically fried noodle that are being sold by many street vendors everywhere on the Jakarta streets. While pushing the carts around the residential areas, these vendors would make some noise by hitting the wok using a fork or a spoon, making the sound 'tek tek tek tek'. Thats where the name 'mie tek tek' comes from. Aside from the noodle, they also sell nasi goreng(=fried rice), kwetiau goreng (=fried flat noodle), and bihun goreng(=fried vermicelli). These food are really popular among the Jakartans as supper food, since most of these vendors only come out late at night.

What "Gorengan" is?

Gorengan(= fried stuff) is one popular finger food that can be found on almost any street corners in Indonesia . Using the popular gerobak (= cart), the vendor provides fried tofu, stuffed tofu, banana, yam, taro, tempe (fermented soy beans), and vegetable spring rolls. The fried stuff is served in a paperbag, with a sprinkle of salt and some fresh chilies on the side. The way the Jakartans eat the gorengan, is a bite of the gorengan, then a bite of the fresh chili, and so on. 

These gorengan vendors plays an important parts in the life of Jakartans. During the rush hour, the traffic in Jakarta could become so dreadful. That is when these Gorengan vendors come in rescue by providing the finger foods for the hungry drivers to temporarily ease their hunger until they get home for dinner. The food might not be as healthy, since only God knows how many times the vendor reused the oil to fry the food, but it is worth to try!

How some Jakartans spend their new year's eve?

There are hundreds of ways to spend the new years eve waiting for the countdown to the new year. Some people choose to do the countdown having dinner reservation in the five star hotels, going clubbing, watching live concert or fireworks, or merely staying at home watching television.

However, many Jakartans choose a unique and inexpensive way to celebrate the new beginning of the year. As the night crawls approaching the new years eve, these Jakartans hop into their cars or motorbikes, driving around Kota area blowing the paper-made-trumpets and honking their car horns. And only at that moment, you can see the rarest sight… the Jakartans, unbothered by the severe bumper-to-bumper traffic jam, smiling widely with eyes full of hope, greeting the new dawn.

Who "Pak (Mr.) Ogah" is?

Originally, pak ogah is one of the character in the popular 80's children puppet show called Unyil. Pak Ogah is famous for his laid back character. He does nothing but asking the passerby for some small change. The term ' bagi cepek donk' which means 'spare me a hundred rupiah, please' was popularized by him. Nowadays, the term “pak ogah” refers the young people (usually males) standing in some of the intersections of Jakarta streets.

These pak ogahs help stopping the incoming traffics to give way to the cars to do the u turn, pointing you the alternative smaller road to avoid traffic jam, or just simply standing and acting like a policeman (complete with the whistle). By paying only cepek (=a hundred rupiah), some drivers received additional convenient by being assisted to cut the line, or even to break the traffic regulations. However, the heavier traffic jam created by these inexperienced policemen wannabe costs much more to the society than the money paid to these pak ogahs.

What "Reflexi" is?

No, reflexi is not the Indonesian word for reflex or spontaneous reaction. It also has nothing to do with the word reflect. Reflexi is a massage that is concentrated on the foot part. It is believed that every different part of the feet and toes are related to some important organs of the body.

Applying pressures and massaging those feet parts will help the related organs to function better. It will also help to regulate the blood flow, ease fatigue, and improve the quality of sleep. These foot massage is really popular among the Jakartans. Hence, the reflexi massage parlors can be found almost everywhere in Jakarta .

What "Warung" is?

Warung is a small grocery store that carries various kind of consumer products (soap, shampoo, tissue, cigarettes, lighter, lotion, etc) and some foodstuff (bread, beverages, tea, coffee, instant noodle, etc). There are two kinds of warung: the permanent one (a small wooden construction attached to another building), and the mobile one (basically is a small wooden cart, with one side opened for the displayed products).

The life of the Jakartans can not be separated from the existence of these warungs. Even with the sprawling of hypermarkets, supermarkets, or mini markets across Jakarta, many Jakartans still rely on these super-mini markets to fulfill their daily needs.

What "3-in-1" is ?

3-in-1 is a regulation that prohibited vehicles with passengers less than 3 persons to pass certain major roads (Harmoni Road- Thamrin Road- Sudirman Road- Gatot Subroto) during rush hour ( 7am-10am , 4.30pm-7pm ). In 2004, the 3-in-1 area was expanded to cover Stasiun Kota to Blok M bus terminal. This regulation was implemented simultaneously with the operation of Transjakarta Busway. Aside from public transportations and motorbikes, private owned cars with passengers less than 3 persons are prohibited to pass the roads along corridor 1 (Stasiun Kota – Blok M bus terminal).

This 3-in-1 regulation has created a new job opportunities for some. During the rush hours, many people (male, female, children, the youngs, and even the elders) are seen standing on the side of the roads offering their service. Cars with less than 3 people can conveniently pick up these people and use their service for 3-in-1 purpose for as cheap as 5000 rupiah per person.

What the most popular fair in Jakarta is?

Jakarta Fair is a month long bazaar that is held annually in Jakarta . Long before there were amusement parks such as Sea World, Ancol or Taman Mini Indonesia Indah, Jakarta Fair was one of the most anticipating and exciting events for Jakartans. The first Jakarta Fair was held back in 1968 in Monas Area. Then to accommodate the growing visitors and exhibitors, ever since 1992, Jakarta Fair was moved in Kemayoran area.

It is reported that bazaar has attracted more than 2 million visitors annually. Almost 40 years after Jakarta Fair's first being held, it is still one of the most visited events by the Jakartans.

What "Ondel ondel" is?

Ondel-ondels, a pair of male and female puppets with the towering height of approximately 2.5 meter tall, are Jakarta mascots. A male ondel ondel wears a red mask, with bulging eyes, thick moustache and a fixed smile. A female ondel-ondel, with a white mask like a clown, has also a smile that is far from attractive. Below the masks of these giant puppets come the gaudy costumes, usually a wedding dress or sarong. In the old time, ondel-ondel were made to scare off evil spirits.

People would paraded the ondel ondel around the streets, then the people will plucked the hair from the ondel-ondel's head. The hair is to be put in front of the houses to ward off evil spirits and diseases. Nowadays, the ritual has been long abandoned. What left is the unchanged ugly-faced giant ondel-ondels that serve only as Jakarta 's mascot, and merely an ornament in festive parades, weddings, and other celebrations.  

What "Soto Betawi" is?

Soto betawi is one of the authentic food of the Betawi people. Soto betawi is a soup containing slices of beef, beef tendons, tripes, lungs, tomatoes, and fried potatoes, topped with melinjo nut crackers. Unlike other soto from other parts of Indonesia which has clearer broth (soto Madura, or soto Lamongan), Soto betawi has a murky broth since it is made of coconut milk. With a sprinkle of lime, a little sweet soy sauce and chili sauce, this mouthwatering dish is another must-try food when visiting Jakarta.

However, as the Betawi community were pushed out of the inner city to the suburbs by the city development, it is quite rare to see kakilima vendors pushing carts selling soto betawi. This food is mostly sold in food courts in malls or in cafés or restaurants selling Indonesian food.





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