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: The Diplomatic Wife
Today we are meeting The Diplomatic Wife. The Diplomatic Wife has been living in Jakarta for the past 4 years and is about to endeavor in a new adventure. I met her a couple of years ago and she hasn’t only been a huge source of inspiration but a great friend. The DW has not only inspired me to venture out in Jakarta but she has been an incredible source of advice for anything related to life in Jakarta. Check out her blog and be inspired to explore the Big Durian. DW, you will be truly missed!
So, here’s The Diplomatic Wife’s 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?
I’m a Filipina currently based in Jakarta. Originally I am from the south of the Philippines, but grew up and worked as in marketing in Manila. When I moved to Jakarta four years ago, I left my carreer and became a housewife, to take care of TD (The Diplomat) and DiploDog.
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?
Yes it’s our first post. I think the hardest thing about living in Indonesia is the language barrier and communicating in general. Even if I am speaking in Bahasa, I feel like I have to repeat myself a lot. Do you feel the same way? (Ana’s note: ALL THE TIME!)
Looking for things that I need is also a challenge. Jakarta has many secrets and wonderful treasures. You just have to really look for it, explore, be resourceful and ask a lot of questions. After being here for almost 4 years, I feel like I am finally starting to know Jakarta. Though Jakarta is massive, it’s like a town in a way, because instead of going to a one-stop shop, usually you have to go to specialized shops in different locations.
3. Your blog, the Diplomatic Wife blog has been a source of inspiration and tons of useful information for me when I first moved to Jakarta! 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 so much! I am happy that someone, who has a really great blog like yours, finds my blog useful. Blogging was a way to cope with losing my identity. I was such a workaholic when I was in Manila and my identity was tied to what I did. When I moved here, I became “the wife of…” But with my blog, I am able to write and take photographs and basically express who I am now.
I love that I also get to share my discoveries and observations (be they good or bad) with fellow expats who might be experiencing the same things I am experiencing. I like being able to help out because, though being an expat is fantastic and fabulous, it is difficult adjusting to a new place. Information is crucial.
Living in Jakarta
1. What three adjectives would describe Jakarta the best?
2. What’s your biggest Jakarta Love and Jakarta Hate?
– I love how beautiful the city is with all it’s trees and nice main roads, and how much art, design and thought goes into the buildings, restaurants, interiors, etc.
– My hate how supposedly-simple things can be such a big hassle with the traffic, slow customer service, language barrier, etc.
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?
You really need to explore and be persistent to find the sweet things in Jakarta. I find it strange that things that are readily available and so cheap in malls in Manila are hard to find and expensive here (Random things like simple glass vases, a salad spinner, etc.) People wont really tell you about them, unless you specifically ask. When you ask, Jakartans can be very helpful… And can lead you to amazing finds!
Blogging, taking pictures, baking and DIY have given fulfillment to my life here. Because though it can be challenging to find the “ingredients”, it’s fulfilling creating something I find beautiful in the end.
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?
Cream bath in a salon or spa! It’s a spa treatment that I’ve only ever found here. Even men should try it. I know many male Jakartans who enjoy this luxurious treat!
5. If someone was to move to Jakarta shortly, what would be your biggest piece of advice for them?
Learn the language as soon as possible. Pay for a professional language course if you have to. It will greatly reduce the stress!
6. What’s the one thing you wish you had brought or brought more of?
I usually bring stuff for the home in Jakarta, that are readily available in Manila. This is a really geeky answer but here are the things that I make sure to bring from Manila to Jakarta:
– Baygon roach baits (safe way of dealing with cockroaches without spraying anything into the air and harming pets/children)
– Aquasana shower head filter and refills (to filter and dechlorinate our shower water)
– Potentilla Tea Party oil diffuser for a sweet smelling home
Other than that, the rest are just icing on the cake. But to be honest I bring a lot of things from Manila to Jakarta. So many things are not available here, or are much cheaper in Manila or IKEA in SG/KL
Jakarta Expat Socialite
1. What do you think about the expat community in Jakarta? Was it easy to embrace expat life in Jakarta?
I think that there are many expats but it is harder to meet expats that have the same interest and you can connect to. I am not really sure why. Maybe it is also harder to meet up because of the traffic? I tend to stay home in Jakarta (A big difference from my always on the go persona in Manila)
2. Are you involved in any community organizations or associations?
No. My blog, maintaining my OC household, designing and creating accessories and baking for friends keep me very busy.
3. What’s the best thing about being an expat in Jakarta?
We get paid more when we are at post than when we are at home. Haha sorry I can’t think of anything that is related to the category this question is in.
4. What are your favorite places and things in Jakarta
a. Shopping Center: Gandaria City and Senayan City – affordable and practical shops. Special mention of ACE Hardware store is needed too.
b. Clothing Stores: I try to shop local here because it’s so much cheaper. I love Chez Bella, Magnolia, Etcetera, and The Executive. I always go when they are on sale.
c. Cultural Outing: Is eating and shopping for Indonesian arts and crafts considered cultural? Haha! For culture we travel to Yogya and Bali.
d. Date Night Outing: Dinner at a new resto and then enjoying a Premier Movie with some beer and popcorn in a lazy boy haha!
Traveling in Indonesia
1. If you could only visit one place in Indonesia while in Jakarta what would it be?
My favorite place in Indonesia is Yogyakarta. Some of my best memories have been riding in a becak, going to Borobodur (It doesn’t get old!), watching the Ramayana ballet with the prambanan as backdrop and shopping around in Mirota BAtik. It is also where I tried Jamu and Lulur for the first time!
2. What is the best advise to anyone traveling in Indonesia?
Have a translator/dictionary on your smartphone for easy translation. Don’t ask for ice with your drink at not so high-end restos, and never ask for free water… you are going to get tap! (read: not potable)
3. Bali or Lombok?
Definitely Bali. I think I was traumatized by my first and only experience of Lombok. We went when it was off-season, the weather and the waters were rough. Bali has great food, art, shopping and massages!
4. Yogyakarta or Jungle Trekking in Sulawesi or Krakatau?
I absolutely love Yogyakarta. Mainly because I love shopping for art, Indonesian crafts, lulur, Monggo chocolate, etc.
1. What’s your favorite restaurant in Jakarta?
Crystal Jade Xiao Long Bao (when it was still open in the basement of Grand Indonesia), Duck King and anything from the Ismaya Group.
2. What food do you miss the most from back home?
Sweet Philippine mangoes! There is no comparable substitute here. Other food, you can bring, make yourself or create a substitute. But mangoes are tricky to bring.
3. You are from the Philippines, are there any Philippine restaurants in Jakarta?
Only one, called Muffin House or Manila Connection in the basement of FX Mall. I wouldn’t say it’s the best representation of Filipino food, but they do what they can with the limited supply of ingredients. They always have problems with customs and supply, so I feel for them. I know it’s a challenge to recreate a taste when you don’t have the right ingredients. But somehow it still tastes like home. We especially love the tapa with the sweet vinegar and the bistek tagalog.
4. What is the one Indonesian dish that everyone should try?
Sambal butter corn from a vendor on the Jimbaran, Bali beachfront. It is the best! A close second is the grilled seafood called Ikan bakar Jimbaran. You can find it all over. My favorites are from…
1) Warung Menega in Lombok
2) Menega Cafe in Jimbaran Bali
3) Ikan Bakar Jimbaran in Yogyakarta
Fresh seafood marinated in special spicy Jimbaran sauce then grilled to perfection. If you are already in Jimbaran Bali, order your seafood, then head over to the shore and find yourself a sambal butter corn vendor. It’s the perfect appetizer while waiting for your seafood to cook
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.
Ana, beautiful post. Really love it 🙂 I am Indonesian, grew up in Jakarta but now have been living nomaden (here and there: Bandung, Manado, Lombok, UAE, Qatar and now Medan) and I don’t like Jakarta lol. One word to describe: headache 😀
Rina, thanks for your visit!!! Jakarta has a hidden charm that reveals itself once in a while. After living in so many places I’m sure you have learned to appreciate the ups and downs of each city and I would definitely agree with you that on occasion Jakarta can make me headache-prone. I hope you are doing fantastic!!!