So the hunt for apartments continues. We have narrowed it down to two different residences and are now trying to decide on available apartments within each. There are many wonderful things about both. Yesterday I went to the residence near the mall to check out the health clubs and the surrounding area to see just how walkable or desirable a “neighborhood” it would be. Next to the apartment building is a small two-story building, the Arcadia, that is just restaurants, lounges (wine bar!), and has a health club and yoga studio. It is connected to the apartments by a walkway that has a security guard 24 hours to make sure only residents have access to the property. My plan was to walk from the Arcadia to the apartment to the first mall and across the street to the second mall to look at a health club there.
I instructed our driver to leave me at the Arcadia but informed him that I would be calling him to pick me up either at Plaza Senayan (first mall) or Senayan City (second mall) in several hours. He was very surprised that I would walk and offered to come and get me. He told me it was too hot for Madame outside (mid 80s). I explained that where I come from it is much hotter and that I would be fine crossing the street in this heat. To that he answered, “But Madame, you have no umbrella!” I have noticed that some women use umbrellas for shade rather than rain. I assured him that even without an umbrella, I would be fine.
And so I embarked on my “neighborhood walk.” The first health club was underwhelming, put into a space not created for it and not well maintained.
The restaurants were closed but I was able to see that there is a variety of foods, including a Mexican restaurant about which we have heard good things from fellow Houstonians. There is a short sidewalk that leads to the security gate of the Apartemen Plaza Senayan. The security guard cleared me through the marketing department after I explained to them my desire to check the feasibility of walking places. The concierge from the apartment showed me to the West Gate of the grounds, which leads to the mall. Although it is a normal-sized street there were two crossing guards to help me across. It is a well traveled road as it leads to the parking garages so crossing guards are very nice to have. There is a covered wooden bridge-like path from there to the mall entrance.
A little explanation of malls in Jakarta is probably needed starting with the fact that they are quite large, usually several stories high. For my suburban friends, do not picture a large sprawling structure sitting in the middle of a parking lot. Picture instead a hotel-like building in a city with a wide driveway for drop-off/pick-up. They are full of specialty shops and high-end couture like Gucci, Versace, Ferragamo, and Christian Louboutin. There are even Bentley, Ferrari, and Maserati stores in the mall, not for items bearing their logos but for the actual cars themselves. I wouldn’t even guess at what that would cost.
I spent the next hour or so familiarizing myself with some of the stores. They have a few department stores that are similar to Macy’s or Dillard’s. There are some familiar stores like The Body Shop, Nike, and Apple. Most of the signs are in English. You can tell that this definitely caters to ex-pats. It would be easy to lose yourself in here. Hallways go off in many directions with little stores tucked in here and there. Finally I decided I should make my way to the second mall in order to look at the health club. I asked the attendant at the information desk about which direction to go. She directed me out the main entrance to the left and then across the street. She advised me that there were crossing guards there.
So out I went into the “heat” of the day. Leaving Houston in the clutches of record-breaking 100+ degree temperatures was HOT, this was pleasant, even with a touch of humidity. Like any good Texan, all I needed was my sunglasses on and I was ready to go. As I walked to the left I noticed the sign in Bahasa Indonesian and below in English that read, “Zebra Crossing”. Really. It is so named for the black and white stripes that mark the pathway to the other side. This road was much busier with probably four lanes in each direction. The crossing guard there did a lot of waving of his orange stick and whistling before traffic came to a halt. He stepped out first to allow us to cross. Once on the median there is a path to follow (also zebra striped) to take you 30 yards down the street to the other Zebra Crossing. Again we waited for the crossing guard to step out into traffic and once halted, we crossed. I was giddy with the thought that I successfully maneuvered my way to the second mall. Since I have been here I have been constantly escorted by either Scott, my driver, or a real estate agent.
Well the second mall proved equally as large and the health club there was REALLY nice. It had state of the art equipment and an extremely nice staff. After checking it out I went down a floor to the food court. Believe it or not there was a Wendy’s and a KFC. I didn’t want to be the American eating American food so I wandered around a bit. I thought about going for Pho since I would actually know how to order but my eye was caught by a Japanese Express Teppanyaki. I figured I had this, no problem, considering that Friday night sushi/habachi has been a consistent meal in our house for several years. I pointed to the chicken and beef dish that showed vegetables as well. The young man asked if I wanted chicken soup or tom yum soup. I asked for chicken since I had no idea about the other kind and thought it was great that I was getting soup with my meal.
But…..no. I had a bowl of soup served to me on a sterno in the cutest bamboo looking pot. I asked how it should be eaten since there was a small bowl of rice as well as two tiny bowls of soy sauce and another spicier sauce. He showed me the empty bowl and the ladle on the tray and told me the soup went in there with the rice if that was my choice. He told me the sauces were to be added to the soup. I tasted both sauces and added some of the spicier sauce to the soup that was still boiling away on the sterno. After a few minutes he came back and asked if he could take the fire away. I gladly said yes as I was starting to feel like I was in a sauna. Between the ladle, plastic spoon, and chopsticks I made myself a bowl of soup and set about to eat my lunch. I am sure the people around me got a kick out of it. I am not sure if I ate it correctly or served it correctly but it was delicious and in the end that is what counts.
When our driver picked me up he told me he was worried that I had gotten lost since I had been gone so long. I thanked him for his concern and assured him that I had a nice day shopping and had no problems getting from one place to the other. He said, “Madame must be very tired then.” Yes, Madame was tired but also very energized by the neighborhood walk and zebra crossing without an umbrella. A very successful day it was!