Going Solo in Indonesia: Central Jakarta

One of the select few that I told about my Going Solo in Indonesia trip was Dortz.  She’s my blockmate in college who is now working in Jakarta and she agreed to meet me for dinner.  But other than that arrangement, I would still be totally on my own in Jakarta.  I hardly had any idea what to do when I got back to Jakarta from Bali, but waiting for a taksi at Terminal 3 and checking in at the hotel had taken up a significant amount of time before our date.

Read more: 25 Best Things to Do in Jakarta (Indonesia)

I emerged from my room in Amaris Thamrin City Hotel by around 4 o’clock in the afternoon and I just had to find a place to eat lunch.  Since Jakarta is an hour later than Manila, this would mean that it was already 5pm and my stomach was getting really angry.  So, I checked out the Thamrin City Mall, the mall below my hotel, for a place to have my super late lunch.  The area is a hotspot for coworking space in Jakarta. Thamrin City Mall is very similar to our local 168 mall where there are bargain stands scattered all around the mall instead of the usual boutiques. Most of the vendors were Muslims and I became a little apprehensive of my attire because I was wearing shorts. Good thing I saw a couple of girls wearing shorter shorts and after a bit of walking around, I saw that some stands were also selling shorts.

Read about my surfing adventure in Bali.

After lunch, I walked to Grand Indonesia, the mall next door, where Dortz and I would meet.  I got there two hours early so I busied myself by strolling around the mall.  I would have to say that Grand Indonesia is very similar to the EDSA Shangri-la Mall in that it looked really classy… and that most of the stores are similar.  Time passed and it was time for dinner.  After that, we went to Plaza Indonesia trying to look for dessert.  If Grand Indonesia was Shangri-la, Plaza Indonesia was Greenbelt.  We passed the night catching up since it had been years since we last saw each other.  Then it was time for us to part ways, hoping that we’d meet somewhere else in the near future.

Going Solo in Indonesia: Central Jakarta

photo courtesy of Dortz

I headed back to my hotel, stressing about the amount of money left in my wristlet.  I tried plotting the course of my sightseeing adventure for the next day.  Mags, mi buena amiga, said that I should go to Santa Theresia Church and eat at Pisa Kafe, which was right across it.  In addition, Dortz suggested that I take the busway to Monas, the National Monument.

Going Solo in Indonesia: Central Jakarta

With these missions in mind, I found myself joining other Indonesians at the Bundaran HI busway station the next dat.  The ticket cost 3200 IDR and the station was just a raised platform at the center of the Jalan Mohammad Husni Thamrin.  The bus to Kota arrived and I got off at the Sarinah Station.

Going Solo in Indonesia: Central Jakarta

Santa Theresia Church

I Google Mapped my way to the church and as it was a Sunday, I was able to attend mass.  I even got there in time to witness a mass in Indonesian and I was amazed at how orderly the churchgoers conducted themselves.  For example, when it came time for the communion, people lined up row by row to take the communion.  If someone wasn’t baptized or hadn’t received the first communion yet, they still had to line up.  But instead of receiving the communion wafer, they received a blessing from the brother or sister that was distributing the holy wafer.  Then, when everyone in the row had already gone back to their pew, they would put down the kneeling bench and then start praying.  It was so organized that it seemed like another form of prayer to me.

Going Solo in Indonesia: Central Jakarta

Santa Theresia Church

After the Indonesian mass, I stuck around for the English mass.  And while waiting, the rosary was prayed while some ushers and church people laid out monoblock stools beside the pews for more seats.  Before the mass started, ushers made sure that everyone was seated.  The ceremony was largely similar to how we do it in the Philippines with only a few exceptions.  Aside from the very organized communion, the “peace be with you” part was very involving because you had to shake the hands of everyone in your immediate vicinity.  Now that should get your message across.


Read about my preparations before embarking on this solo trip.


After the mass, I immediately started looking for Pisa Kafe.  After wasting several minutes going to a different direction, it turned out that it was really just across the church.  Pisa Kafe tries to offer an authentic Italian atmosphere while dining on their Italian food.  I can’t say for sure because I am yet to go to Italy but seeing this outside the window can be quite convincing.

Going Solo in Indonesia: Central Jakarta

Pisa Kafe

Going Solo in Indonesia: Central Jakarta

Fusilli Fantasia 64,000 IDR and Nocciola Fiesta 37,000 IDR


After lunch, I went back to the busway station and went to the famous Monas or “Monumen Nasional”.  The 132-meter tower was built to commemorate the Indonesian struggle for independence.  It is located at the center of the Merdea Square and lots of Indonesians go there to have picnics and to visit the National History Museum.

Going Solo in Indonesia: Central Jakarta



However, I had other plans in mind so instead of visiting the museum, I went off to the direction of the Masjid Istiqlal, the largest mosque in Southeast Asia.  Unfortunately, it was a really long walk from the Monas under the baking sun.  I was walking around with an umbrella to shelter myself from the heat-stroking rays of the sun and everyone was staring at me.  I couldn’t believe how they could endure under that heat… particularly the Muslim women under all those layers of clothes…  Anyway, I had to cross a busy highway at one point and I was really stressing on how to do it without getting killed.  Indonesians seem like cool-headed drivers (compared to Filipinos) and I’m sure they’d slow down for me.  But still.   I was really lucky when I happened upon a group of Indonesian teens who were going to the direction of the mosque.  I asked them how to get to the mosque and they obligingly accompanied me all the way there.


Going Solo in Indonesia: Central Jakarta

my unwitting tour guides

My young guides were barely twenty and only one of them was comfortable speaking in English.  Upon reaching the mosque, I was a bit disillusioned to find that it just looked like a square building with a big dome on top and a minaret to the side.   It wasn’t too picturesque from up close.  Just as well, my young guides were eager to take pictures with me.  I felt like a real celebrity right there.  After that, they went with me to the busway stop and off I went back to Thamrin.

Going Solo in Indonesia: Central Jakarta

Can we have this in the Philippines, please?


One of the silly things that I have always wanted to do was see a movie in another country.  Really, I’m curious about cinemas outside of the Philippines.  We were supposed to watch a movie when Moche and I went to Kota Kinabalu.  But that didn’t materialize.  So with this last goal in mind, I rushed back to Grand Indonesia, hoping to catch the showing of The Wolverine at 4:15 pm.  Unfortunately, I got there too late.  I reached the ticket counter at exactly 4:24 pm and the lady at the counter will not give me a ticket.  She offered me Elysium but I was not familiar with the movie and I really wanted to watch The Wolverine, which I was not able to see in the Philippines.  The only other option for the 4:30 screening was Conjuring and there was no way I’d watch that one.  So, for the first time since I arrived in Indonesia, I felt lost and purposeless.  Missing that movie really depressed me.  I suddenly didn’t know what to do with all that spare time.  I no longer had the energy to go back to the Monas and check out the National History Museum and it was already too late to go to Taman Mini.  Crushed, I aimlessly walked around the mall, bought an Adidas bag, ate a Baskin Robbins ice cream, bought some groceries and went back to the hotel to fetch my luggage.

After that I went straight to the airport.

Watch out for the next installment of my Going Solo in Indonesia series.

Read the next part here.

August 24-25, 2013

***photos were taken using an iphone 5 (except otherwise stated)


Jayce Cairo

Jayce is a linguaphile who speaks four languages and currently works as a translator to finance her various interests. Scoring very high on “Openness to Experience” on the Big Five Personality Test, she is an avid globetrotter who aspires to retire at 35 and travel for the rest of her life.


  1. I really enjoy reading your Going Solo in Indonesia posts. I’ve learned much about the country and I admire your guts roaming the city of Jakarta all bu lonesome. Friends kasi are one in saying, parang Manila rin doon. may snatchers and the likes.

    • I didn’t see a big part of Jakarta though. 🙁 I mostly stayed at the air-conditioned malls. And based on what I saw, yes, it’s also like Manila… although plenty of people walk around holding their phones… something I’d never dream of doing while in Manila.

  2. you’re brave!!!

    anyway, when I was in SIngapore with my girl friends last January we, or maybe I, wanted to watch Les Miserable… because like you i also wanted to see cinemas outside the Philippines. That plan of mine didnt materialized as well because she was tired already…

    and… Jakarta, i guess, has a systematic transportation system base on the picture above. right?

    • Their transportation system isn’t like in Singapore. The first bus took forever to arrive. I wasn’t able to ride a train but there is. You’d mostly see taksis on the road.

  3. Wow! You’re brave to go solo in Indonesia but that’s really impressive at your age. I wish I’ve done that but I’m a scary cat I guess.

  4. After reading this, it seems that I was there with you at that time and as if I have been there too. Nice shoots out there as well.

  5. I might be going on a similar adventure in Indonesia this coming week. Thanks for this helpful post.

  6. Hey Jayce! Basing from the way you travel, I think we’ll hit it off! Although I don’t have your solo-backpacker-spirit, which I’ve yet to be, you’ve managed to go around to wherever your feet may take you. And about your movie tradition, I also have that thing whenever I’m in a different country or province here in the Philippines. Although I don’t make it a mandatory thing. If there’s a chance to watch, then by all means I’ll go. 🙂 Nonetheless, that was a good last day recount. 🙂

    • Travelers should stick together! Hehe. It’s actually only the second time that I’ve ventured into the unknown by myself… But I had tickets so I might as well go through with the trip. And sad to say, I am yet to set foot inside a foreign moviehouse. 🙁

  7. Jakarta is Indonesia’s premium city and you can see a mixture of a cosmopolitan city and Indonesia’s traditions.

  8. Your post is very helpful specially for solo travelers. Given the time and travel fund now- uunahin ko ang Indonesia then Malaysia 🙂

  9. You’re brave for doing this. I don’t think I would enjoy travelling solo. Saka baka maligaw ako.hehe 😉

    About the mass, we do that here in the province too. People line up, even the kids. I think it just depends upon the church’s protocol.

    • Traveling alone is a real test of patience and sense of direction. I was on Google Map the whole time (well, except during my Bali tours)!

  10. May i just say that you are sooo brave to travel alone. And i could have admire you more if you decided to watch Conjuring while in Indonesia. Hehe! 🙂

  11. It is really nice to travel alone but sometimes you need to be confident and strong that you can make it especially when it is out of the country that is because of language barrier. Sometimes it is not that you don’t know how to move around but it is the language barrier that make it difficult.

    • Yes, the language had been a hurdle. I learned some sentences but they only seemed to make it worse – they thought I was a local and that I could understand their replies!

  12. Given the Time and travel fund now, i’ll definitely explore and discover SEA countries at unahin ko ang Indonnesia 🙂 Yeah traveling solo is more exciting- daming discoveries at mas madaming na i explore 🙂

    • Yes, in going solo in indonesia, I was able to learn a lot of things that I wouldn’t have had I gone with someone. =) If you’re going to Indonesia, go to Jogjakarta, too! Then post the itinerary and budget. 😉

  13. I’m impressed you have guts to go solo in vacation. I wish I did this when I was single but am still happy I have my family company now if I want to go on vacation. I’m sure you have had a blast in Indonesia.The palce is beautiful.

  14. I’ve never traveled alone. Maybe I’m not so brave in taking road trips and backpacking journeys on my own. That’s something I need to do before I turn 25 🙂

  15. The Transjakarta bus system is a mess! Aren’t you glad that Manila has the two rail lines as opposed to more traffic on the roads? Are new lines under construction?

    Heh, Pisa Kafe has been around for a while, at least since April 2005. It’s in a rather “quiet” part of town, which helps, but if you’re looking for more Italian restaurant suggestions, or any restaurant suggestions, let me know!

    • Well, I was only able to experience a bit of the Transjakarta. But I was actually impressed because I didn’t see any cars using their designated corridors, so at least the bus gets to be the first one at the traffic lights. But yeah, there was no schedule and for a “system”, 20 minutes waiting time was too long.

      About the Philippines, we already have 3 MRT lines, aside from the national railway. No additional lines in sight yet, though.

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