This is a series of interviews of fabulous people who live, breathe and thrive in Jakarta. We will feature expats and Indonesians who call the Big Durian home in hopes to give all of you a glimpse of what life is all about in Jakarta. I would love to have different perspectives on our Fabulous Jakartan Friday (FJF) so if you would like to be featured, leave me a comment or shoot me an email and I would be so excited to hear all about YOUR Jakarta!
Fabulous Jakartan: Melissa, the Fabulous Singaporean Pilates Instructor
Today we are meeting Melissa. Mel is from Singapore and moved to Jakarta less than a year ago. In just a few months she managed to start a new company and work on what she loves the most, Pilates. Her Studio Benefit Pilates is full of personality and provides a nice shelter form the craziness of the Big Durian. Melissa is a fabulous expat who refuses to let the little obstacles Jakarta presents stop her from thriving and enjoying life to the fullest.
So, here’s Melissa’s Fabulous Jakartan Friday Interview.
Hi Ana, thanks for having me!
Tell me more, tell me more
1. First, tell us a little bit about you. What’s your background? Where did you grow up? How long have you been living in Jakarta for?
Well, I am Singaporean, and spent the first 20 years of my life there. After university, I moved to Toronto, where I fell in love with Pilates and decided to ditch my finance degree for a career as a Pilates instructor. Nothing beats doing what you love every single day, not even money!
I’ve been living in Jakarta for about 8 months now and after months of planning, I have just opened a Pilates studio in Permata Hijau, South Jakarta this month!
2. Is Indonesia your first post abroad?
Nope! After completing my year long Pilates training in Toronto, I moved back to Singapore for a few years, then back to Toronto for a year, then to Hong Kong for a year and now I’m in Jakarta! Indonesia certainly takes more getting used to than the other places I’ve lived in.
3. Your Pilates Studio, Benefit Pilates is amazing! How long have you been a professional Pilates instructor for? What’s the best thing that has come from being a Pilates instructor?
Thanks! I’ve been a Pilates instructor for over 6 years. There are a few certifying schools for Pilates and Stott Pilates is one of the best & most popular. I was trained at the Stott Pilates headquarters in Toronto, Canada and since then I’ve either worked for studios or operated my own studios in the countries I’ve been in.
The bond I develop with my clients is definitely the best thing about being a Pilates instructor! You can check out my website at www.benefit-pilates.com, and facebook page at www.facebook.com/BenefitPilates.
Living in Jakarta
1. What three adjectives would describe Jakarta the best?
Chaotic, dirty and unforgettable
2. What’s your biggest Jakarta Love and Jakarta Hate?
Jakarta Love: Movie prices in Jakarta are unbeatable… I love watching movies in the luxurious Premiere class for the same price as a regular ticket in other countries!
Jakarta Hate: The ridiculous traffic jams, of course!
3. How do you find the sweetness beneath the Prickly Surface of the Big Durian? What activities or things keep you happy and thriving in Jakarta?
For the first few months I traveled to Singapore and Hong Kong very frequently to meet up with friends, so that kept me sane during the transition stage. Now that my studio is open, I have a new favorite place and being at work really does keep me happy. I would like to make more friends in Jakarta though!
4. For a first time visitor coming to Jakarta, what would you recommend they try out that is uniquely Jakartan?
Buffet at Satoo, Shangri-La Hotel. The spread is overwhelming, I’ve never seen a buffet like this anywhere else.
5. Finding a place to work out outdoors is quite challenging in Jakarta. What do you think are the benefits of working out in a Studio?
Tranquil and clean environment, definitely more relaxing than being outdoors in Jakarta.
6. If someone was to move to Jakarta shortly, what would be your biggest piece of advice for them?
Be patient and let go of your anxieties. Everything is slower than you are used to, from home internet and 3G mobile, to making a purchase at the store. Also, many people here have no concept of punctuality, you’ll just have to get used to it.
7. What’s the one thing you wish you had brought or brought more of?.
No problem there for me as I go to Singapore a lot where I always stock up on good quality sardines in olive oil.
Social Life in Jakarta
1. What do you think about the expat community in Jakarta? Was it easy to embrace expat life in Jakarta?
I don’t really live an “expat” life, as I don’t stay in the traditional expat areas like Kemang and Kuningan, and I haven’t met many other expats so far other than my clients.
2. Are you involved in any community organizations or associations?
Nope, can you recommend any?
Ana: I think joining the Heritage Society is an amazing way to get to know Jakarta from its origins to its quirkiness.
3. What’s the hardest thing about being an expat in Indonesia? What did you struggle with the most?
Having to pay 100,000 Rp for an unremarkable glass of wine!
4. What are your favorite places and things in Jakarta:
- Shopping Center: Gandaria City
- Date Night Outing: Cassis
- Girls’ Night Out : Social House at Grand Indonesia
Traveling in Indonesia
1. If you could only visit one place in Indonesia while in Jakarta what would it be?
Manado. I haven’t been yet, but I can’t wait to go diving there!
2. What is the best advise to anyone traveling in Indonesia?
Please don’t try the street side food.
3. Bali or Lombok?
Lombok. Bali is too congested.
Let’s move on to the food section,
1. What’s your favorite restaurant in Jakarta?
The Saturday brunch at Lyon, Mandarin Oriental. For local food, I love Tesate at Plaza Senayan.
2. What food do you miss the most from back home?
3. You are from Singapore, are there any good Singaporean restaurants in Jakarta?
Unfortunately I haven’t found any that I would return to. Good thing Singapore is less than 2 hours away!
4. What is the one Indonesian dish that everyone should try?
Sate bebek (duck satay)
5. Could you share a short and sweet recipe for an authentic Singaporean dish that is easy to make with ingredients found in Jakarta.
Traditional Singapore food is not too healthy and require too many ingredients, so I don’t make them at home!
Thank you very much for joining us in Stumble Abroad today, just one more request:
Describe what life in Jakarta is like in one sentence.
Experiencing life in Jakarta makes me appreciate my life and also my home country so much more.
Thank you, Ana!