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: Diana, the Adventurous Jamaican Filmmaker and Writer
Diana is a Jamaican born, award-winning filmmaker who has lived in Jakarta for almost a year. She used to be a flight-attendant and writes an amazing travel blog to document her travels around South-East Asia. She is currently writing a book and her photography is just breathtaking. It’s my pleasure to introduce you to Diana.
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?
I was born and raised in Jamaica, West Indies. I have been living in Jakarta for eleven months now. I am the eldest of four girls.
2. Is Indonesia your first post abroad? What’s the hardest thing about being an expat in Indonesia? What did you struggle with the most?
Indonesia is my first international post. The hardest thing for me is being Black in Indonesia. The stares, the blatant racism. I was once called a “black monkey” by a taxi driver. The traffic is also very depressing. I find that I have to coordinate social meetings around traffic. The lack of proper transportation is a hinderance. I wish Jakarta had a city train to alleviate the traffic situation.
3. Your blog, Traveler Writer Filmmaker is so inspiring and your pictures are breathtaking Why did you decide to start a blog? How long have you been blogging for? What’s the best thing that has come from blogging?
Thank you! I appreciate you checking out my blog. Originally my blog started as therapy. I was flight attendant and blogging about my travels and life at 30,000 feet was an outlet. When I started actively working on my writing, it developed into a travel blog. I went a few press trips and wrote about destinations in Europe. Now that I am living in Indonesia, the blog has become a full fledged travel blog.
Living in Jakarta
1. What three adjectives would describe Jakarta the best?
Dizzying, manic, loud
2. What’s your biggest Jakarta Love and Jakarta Hate?
I love that I met my fiancé here! I hate the smoking indoors, on the angkots, pretty much everywhere.
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 like finding smoke free venues to have a drink. The Premiere lounge at the XXI lounge in Mal Kelapa Gading is nice ‘getaway.’ I can have a cocktail, then go into the theater, cosy up under the ballet and catch a flick.
4. For a first time visitor coming to Jakarta, what would you recommend they try out that is uniquely Jakartan?
Some of the best food is to be had at roadside warungs. In the the evenings, they pop up on various streets around the city. Pull up a plastic chair, order a fresh coconut to start and a spicy mie ayam (chicken with noodles).
5. If someone was to move to Jakarta shortly, what would be your biggest piece of advice for them?
I have found that in order to enjoy the beauty of Jakarta, you have to escape the city as often a possible. There are a few trendy rooftop bars where you can escape from the noise and soak in the skyline. Nearby places like the Thousand Islands, Bandung, Puncak offer great breaths of fresh air.
6. What’s the one thing you wish you had brought or brought more of?
Jakarta Expat Life
1. What’s the best thing about being an expat in Jakarta?
I love the various brunch buffets.
2. What are your favorite places and things in Jakarta
• Shopping Center: Plaza Indonesia
• Clothing Stores: Mango, Forever 21
• Cultural Outing: Taman Mini Indonesia
• Date Night Outing: Bluegrass Restaurant
• Girls Night Out Activity : Lowey’s
Documenting your Travels
1. You are an award-winning filmmaker. Have you been inspired by your stay in Jakarta to make a film about Indonesia?
I would love to do a travel series on Indonesian food. When I think I have a favorite, I taste something that knocks it out of first place.
2. Now that you are writing your book, what are the biggest challenges you have encountered in finding inspiration to sit down and write? What is your best advice to any wanna-be book authors?
I like the quietness of morning time and the internet works best at that time in my apartment. Find a time of day that works for you, carve out some time, exhale and begin. I write best in absolute silence, so when car horns blare and security guards blow their whistles, it really distracts me. Some days, I don’t have the motivation, but even I write a few hundred words, I am further than I was the day before.
3. You seem to be traveling all over South East Asia. What is your favorite place so far and why?
I wish I could travel more throughout South East Asia. So far, I have been to Malaysia, Singapore and Myanmmar. I like each country for different things, but I had a great cultural experience in Myanmar.
4. If you could only visit one place in Indonesia while in Jakarta what would it be?
There are a few places that I would like to visit before leaving Indonesia. Nabire, the Green Canyon, Raja Ampat,
5. What is the best advise to anyone traveling in Indonesia?
Be patient and pack your sense of humor.
6. Bali or Lombok?
I moved to Jakarta to be closer to Bali. So Bali all the way. I get my best ideas there.
Let’s move on to the food section,
1. What’s your favorite restaurant in Jakarta?
Actually it’s a warung, Sate Afrika in Kelapa Gading
2. What food do you miss the most from back home?
I miss jerk chicken from Jamaica and a thin crust Brooklyn pizza.
3. You are from the Jamaica, are Indonesian flavors similar to the flavors of your home?
In terms of the cooked food, no. But many of the fruits like mango, jackfruit, rose apple, soursop, sweet sop, breadfruits are all a taste of home
4. What is the one Indonesian dish that everyone should try?
I am big fan of mix rebus and bubur ayam. They are my comfort food here.
5. Could you share a short and sweet recipe for an authentic Jamaican dish that is easy to make with ingredients found in Jakarta.
Ital Stew (Vegetarian Stew)
• 1 can coconut milk
• 3 ears of corn
• 2 potatoes cut small
• 1 can red peas
• 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
• salt and pepper to taste
• 3 cloves garlic diced
• 1 small onion diced
• 2 cups water
• 2 tbls oil
Saute garlic, onion, thyme, salt and pepper in oil. Add water and milk and bring to a boil. Add corn and potatoes. Reduce flame and cook for 30 mins. Note: You can use your favorite vegetables in this stew.
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.