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South Jakarta: Land of Floods and Gnarly Wheeling

Rain poured from the sky in Jakarta as Scott, Jackson, and I diligently worked on correspondence. As the sky began to clear, we loaded the cycles into the back of the Kijiang and headed toward south Jakarta.

We were scheduled to have lunch with a Dr. Sharon Eng, a musician and globetrotter, who had developed a relationship with Jackson during his time touring Asia playing the viola. The morning’s rain had caused the city to descend into madness and gridlock. As we drove, we saw large parts of the road had been completely submerged. And as we made our way into south Jakarta, the flooding grew worse, and the traffic ground to a stand still.

In desperation, we exited the Kijiang and began on foot across mud and crumbling pavement toward the restaurant.

We entered a building and were suddenly transported to somewhere outside of Salt Lake City. Inside was a jumble of very high-end home goods merchants, with fancy bamboo flooring, and many signs in English advertising the fact that all the products were made with organic materials and a portion of all sales went toward protecting Indonesian rain forest wood.  It was a diamond in the rough of Jakarta’s soaked streets.  Walking into the restaurant, we chose a table toward the back.

The clientele of this restaurant, Koi, were a curious and varied breed, but all clearly well moneyed.  To our left, two Dutch women, one of about 34 and one of about 59 had recently been been seated across the table from each other, sandwiching a young boy with curly blond hair.  After we were presented with the chalkboard menu, the younger of the two women with her hair pulled smartly back came over to inspect it.


At our adjacent table, sat two ethnic Indonesians in their mid-twenties sporting British accents and refined, considered clothing.  The man wore facial hair and had his new MacBook on the table, complete with a Supreme sticker featuring Kermit the Frog.  The woman, strikingly beautiful, wore hair down to her shoulders and a blue blouse with white lace trim and black slacks, which buttoned well above her waist.  At the corner near the door, five women in ornate Muslim headscarves and silk, cassock-like dresses picked at duck-confit salad served in a crispy, edible bowl.

Woody and Jackson

The restaurant itself proved to be, while expensive by Jakartian standards, quite delicious. Dr. Eng arrived shortly after she had completed her own battle with the traffic. We found her to be a fascinating, intelligent, and quite friendly woman.  Conversation ranged from a recent orchestral trip across China she had participated in, specifically the rabble-rousing caused by the Polish members of the tour.


While shocked that Jackson, her cerebral and talented music student, had gone into banking, she excitedly discussed potential joint-ventures.  If you can’t beat em, join ’em.  Sharon, any time you decide you are interested in a position on the AsiaWheeling board of advisers, just let us know.

With full stomachs and minds freshly opened by quite a few cups of coffee and pleasant conversation, we unloaded the bikes from Jackson’s Kijiang and hit the road. South Jakarta certainly had a different feel to it. Smaller structures, and 1 1/2 lane roads. We snaked our way through the city, following Jackson’s bishop. As we rode, the sky began to once again darken and a strong wind began to shake the overhanging jungle trees. Jackson suggested a revision to the waypoint roster, but it was already too late. The skies opened, and we were quite suddenly wheeling through a torrential downpour. We called a waypoint at the most proximate small store, and hove to in order to wait out the rain.


Our shop turned out to be across the street from the Ministry of Education, and we had the pleasure of sharing the overhanging awning with a number of employees who had ducked out for clove cigarrettes. At their current rate of consumption, it seemed to us that the bureaucrats would need to duck out again for more kreteks before the rain had even ceased.  We took a gander at the modern little market’s inner workings and pondered its many offerings, wondering how many isles of rhino-branded flu cures, lethal insect “bombs,” and muscle-enhancing powders we would walk through before the deluge halted.

Jakarta Convenience Store

This turned out, however, to merely demonstrate our ignorance of Indonesian weather, for no sooner had Jackson purchased us a few startlingly sweet Indonesian yoghurt drinks, than the rain had stopped and we were once again tempted to wheel.


The next waypoint was a haircut joint. Both Scott and I were in need of a little tidy-up. Jackson recommended a place by the name of Pax. This was an old school Indonesian barber, and the fellows there were all about professionalism. For about four US dollars, Scott and I received top notch AsiaWheeling haircuts on the spot.


These easily eclipsed the Agra cuts from the pilot study in terms of style and precision.  Points were also scored for cleanliness, and avoiding the “Desert of Flesh” which can often be found extending behind the ears after an AsiaWheeling haircut.

Mostly Forehead Now

Newly shorn, we commenced meandering our way back to the city center where Jackson’s parents waited to take us out to a farewell dinner.

South Jakarta

The dinner took place, not surprisingly, at a local mall. The food was incredible, and Jackson’s parents, who have been so generous and warm to us, proved to be quite pleasant dinner companions as well.

Mall Restaurant Jakarta

We feasted on delicious Italian fare and drank from specially requested ebullient burgundy glasses with a wine brought from household’s private collection.  Below, a ravioli topped with crispy ham is served.


As the clock ticked closer and closer to the departure of our 9:10 AM train to Bandung, Jackson switched into overdrive. Having dropped his parents off back at the house, we piled into the micro-SUV and began a whirlwind tour of Jakartian nightlife, visiting no less than nine establishments in five few hours.  Considering the driving required in between each waypoint, and the traffic which ground the city to a halt, this was no small feat.  After a final nightcap, we lay down for a final brief yet fitful night of sleep at the household.


  1. Jack | January 17th, 2010 | 8:23 am

    Glad to have you both in Jakarta. Thanks for being a part of AsiaWheeling. Great pics Norton. You’re an eloquent writer Woody! Enjoy Bali!

  2. deisy | November 26th, 2011 | 10:50 pm

    Hi both…

    you should come again to Jakarta, Indonesia in 2011 or 2012, there’s many changes, when you came i assume it was 2007 when the bad floods happened…also you should travel to other cities like Bandung, or try to go to Puncak, West Java and Sumatra, they have nice roads there for “wheeling” your bikes…


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