This is the first on 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: Maureen, the “Westernized” Indonesian
We are going to start off this series with the fabulous Maureen. Maureen blogs at Scoops of Joy and I’m so excited to have her as our first interviewee on FJF! Maureen is a fellow World Moms Blog Blogger and it’s a thrill to have met such an amazing woman here in Indonesia.
So, here’s Maureens’ Fabulous Jakartan Friday Interview.
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? What does your family look like?
Hi Ana, first of all thank you so much for having me on your blog! My name is Maureen. I’m a miner’s daughter or so I’d like to refer to my childhood growing up in remote mining areas tucked within the jungles of Indonesia. I spent two large portions or life living in really small towns where my father worked in mining companies. First, a nickel mining town in South Sulawesi then a coal mining town in East Borneo. Jakarta became my home when I was sent here to go to high school because the town my parents used to lived at doesn’t have high school yet in 1994. My family is pretty modern, westernized in many ways because we lived among expatriates from those mining towns. We hang out with a lot of Australians and Canadians back then. I’m the eldest and the first one who left home at the age of 15.
2. What’s the hardest thing about being a “westernized” Indonesian? Did you struggle fitting in when you came back to Indonesia?
The hardest part would be to came to the realization that things may not change much here, some things have and will always stay the way they were, because it is the customs. I was the one that changed. My way of thinking changed. The first few months were the hardest. Little things would upset me at first. For example, Indonesians love small talk and it is considered normal to ask “So how much does your husband make?” or “Wow, you’re married to an expat. You must be rich now!”. In the early days, those questions really got me all worked up! But as nosy as it sounds, they really didn’t mean anything bad, it rubbed me the wrong way. Now I realized, as much as I love my own culture, my own country I am now a different person. Westernized may not be a popular term here but that’s just how I am and I will just have to take the good and combine it with my own values/way of thinking.
3. I love your blog Scoops of Joy! How long have you been blogging? What’s the best thing that has come from blogging?
Thank you, Ana! I’ve been blogging since 2004 actually. Been a long time but Scoops of Joy is still new as I changed Tatter Scoops to Scoops of Joy. The best thing would be it helped me tremendously when I went through my divorce. To be able to connect with other bloggers who had been in my shoes is just amazing. Then to be friends with writers from all over the world, yourself included. That’s the best thing ever.
Living in Jakarta
1. What three adjectives would describe Indonesia the best?
Unique, beautiful and unforgettable!
2.You often say you have a love-hate relationship with Jakarta? What’s your biggest Jakarta Love and Jakarta Hate?
Hah! Yeah, this is so true because it’s like having a bad relationship. When I’m away from Jakarta, I miss it terribly but when I’m in Jakarta for too long I start to resent it. Hmm, I love it because my immediate family is now in Jakarta and I LOVE the food, the cheap beauty treatments (massage or hair spa), how just about everything can be delivered to your doorsteps here. You certainly don’t have that luxury in other countries! The biggest hate? Traffic & pollution! How there’s little to none green clean parks in town and how there’s too many malls here. I just wish Jakarta would have green lush parks for our kids to play with without being choked with pollution.
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?
I try to do things that is not mall related with my son. We love going to museums and checking out the old part of Jakarta. The history is just so rich. My boy is so interested about the whole colonial era nowadays so that would be something that we will be definitely be focusing on in the near future. More visits to museums. With so many malls in town, I am trying (and hoping) that my boy will not grow up here to be a mall rat.
4. For a first time visitor coming to Jakarta, what would you recommend they try out that is uniquely Jakartan? A specific food, activity, or place?
A must try is the local food. You could experience Indonesia just from the all different kinds of traditional foods easily accessible here. My suggestion would be to be open-minded and be open to experience the different tastes. One of my favorite place to visit is the Old Batavia Tour. I blogged about it before here.
5. If you were to move somewhere else and not be able to come back to Jakarta, what Indonesian thing would you stock up on?
Oh my, this is a hard one! I’d say traditional Indonesia spices! They can be really pricey outside of Indonesia.
Traveling in Indonesia
1. If you could only visit one place in Indonesia while in Jakarta what would it be?
Hmm, so hard to choose only one because Indonesia really have so many beautiful places. If I must chose only one that would be have to Ambon, where my father is originally from.
2.What is the best advice to anyone traveling with kids in Indonesia?
Mosquito repellent is a must for your kids (and for you too!). Just like any travel with kids tips, it’s important to pack your patience. Also, don’t be alarmed if people want to take pictures with your children. Some will try to pinch them. It’s just a sign of adoration. They don’t mean bad. Be prepared to be a celebrity.
3. Tell us about your biggest Indonesian escapade. You are a very adventurous lady, and we would love to hear about your latest travel adventures.
Aww, I haven’t been traveling as much as I wanted to. The latest one is the Krakatau trip with an un-diagnosed herniated disc. That was insane but I have no regrets! Was one of the best trip ever.
4. Bali or Lombok?
Lombok! As much as I love Bali, Lombok is less commercialized or better than other beaches around Indonesia.
5. Yogyakarta or Jungle Trekking in Sulawesi or Krakatau?
All of them? I just love traveling!
Let’s move on to the food section,
1. What’s your favorite Indonesian restaurant in Jakarta?
I don’t really have specific favorite restaurant for that but I’d eat out at small tents/food halls any day than at fancy restaurants for Indonesian food simply because they have more authentic tastes. The best places to experience this is around Kelapa Gading or Serpong.
2. What about your favorite “Western” restaurant?
I love a good steak. Medium rare. Best places to get them for me has been Outback Steakhouse and Tony Romas. Also, I’m a huge fan of Indian food and the best place to get them is at Eastern Promise in Kemang!
3. What is the one Indonesian dish that everyone should try?
Forget the fried rice or satay. That’s so old school! Try the Makassar fried noodles. They are the best!
4. Could you share a short and sweet recipe for an authentic Indonesian dish so I can pretend I learned to cook Indonesian…
I’m not much of a cook but here’s one easy recipe that I found on my Indonesian friend’s blog: Soto Ayam Chicken Soup.
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.
Jakarta is an acquired taste, just like the big Durian. Some hate it, some love it but it is unforgettable!
Ok that’s more than a sentence but thanks so much for having me, Ana!