A Slice of Jakarta: Palmerah

Have you visited Jakarta? For those of you who once visit the Indonesian capital, there are places within the city that are often mentioned in Jakarta tour guide books. Sudirman, Thamrin, and Kuningan are three most famous sections of the city for you. They become busiest and elite parts of the capital. Most embassies, international offices and government buildings open their businesses and services in the areas.

We would like you to step outside the three places then move a bit to the outskirt of Central Jakarta. The name of the area is called Palmerah. This is the part of the capital where I have been living for about 11 years. Palmerah occupies strategic location. I call this area lies on the edge of the municipality because from where I precisely live, Palmerah Selatan (South Palmerah), is just within hundreds of meters from South Jakarta (Kebayoran Lama). My exact point is closer to Rawa Belong (West Jakarta).

On the other hand, Palmerah is very far from Kemayoran although the two areas fall under the same municipality, Central Jakarta. So, I prefer going to Kebayoran Lama (whenever I have to) than Kemayoran.

By location, Palmerah is so close to the House of Representatives building. Sometimes I walk to the building on foot. Palmerah has Palmerah train station that connects commuters traveling from Tanah Abang to Tangerang Selatan and Banten, two neighboring areas outside Jakarta. Palmerah is also close to Slipi district. This district occupies a strategic spot that is passed by toll roads leading you to Soekarno-Hatta international airport.

Given the easy access, you probably wonder about what makes Palmerah is worthy of a visit, right? Besides the fact that I love living here, here are some cool things about Palmerah:

Palmerah Traditional Market

Source: YouTube.com

A traditional market sits in the center of Palmerah that consists of Palmerah Utara, Palmerah Barat, and Palmerah Selatan. The market is close to the Palmerah train station. You can reach the market on foot. The market is almost alive within 24 hours every day. The hectic hours happen in the morning. When I was still working at The Jakarta Post newspaper, I saw the market was even livelier at midnight. Sometimes, at 11 or 12 p.m, I smelt fresh vegetables and fruits at the market. Dozens of traders dropped their stocks that would be bought by traders, here.

No wonder that in the morning, the market is so packed that you won’t find it easy to go through unless by walking. From fresh fishes to vegetables, you will see they crowd the market. As hours go on, the market doesn’t that much hectic. There are kiosks that you can get affordable items, from clothes to makeups.

Traders in the market are polite and friendly. You can ask for various information on the products you want to purchase. You can bargain, too. You can get plenty of items at cheap prices. The market gets surrounded by fruit sellers. They sell many fruits, such as oranges, apples, and bananas. If you’re bored with modern markets, try coming to the market.

You can take a commuter line then stop at the Palmerah train station. Or you can take a public minivan or angkot then stop at the Palmerah market. Shop here any time of the day then feel true vibes of Indonesia’s culture in business, here.

Hian Thian Siang Tee Temple

Source: yournews2013.wordpress.com

About 200 years old, Hian Thiang Siang Lee is a historical temple that lies just behind the market. Whenever I pass by the market, I get attracted by the temple that always looks viable and vibrant in red.

Behind the temple, there spans huge and tall Menara Kompas building. Viewing the two standing in harmony impresses me. We don’t have to tear down old buildings for the sake of modern architecture, that’s how they tell me.

Anyway, the temple still functions well until today by Chinese citizens who live in Jakarta. I don’t pass over the temple very often. I once saw the temple was packed by the followers during Chinese New Year if I’m not mistaken. Other than the festivity, the temple looks quieter but there are caretakers of the temple as in other temples.

Jakarta is indeed inseparable from Chinese influences. Their presence in the city has been helping the city enjoying an economic boom. Since Chinese people are skilled traders by nature, it’s easy to spot their presence in business areas across the capital, be they in traditional or modern markets.

I myself always love admiring a temple, including this one. Although I am a Muslim, I love temple for the architecture, philosophy, and value behind each and every symbol of the temple. The Chinese love red because the color symbolizes luck. I once read red identifies with courage and boldness.

The temple is well-maintained and is easy to reach. Do come whenever you wish to explore more on Jakarta’s diversity ambiance in religion and culture.

Bentara Budaya Cultural Foundation

An art event is taking place in Bentara Budaya. Source: kratonpedia.com

Just a few meters from the temple, you will see a large, Javanese housing complex. That’s called Bentara Budaya. The complex consists of some Javanese houses, each of which may function as an exhibition or gallery for certain events.

Bentara Budaya is part of Kompas Gramedia big company. Kompas Gramedia is one of the leading media companies in Indonesia. It has a newspaper, online media, television media, hotel, and bookstore chain. Bentara Budaya is one of the firm’s segments that oversee the country’s cultural and social events.

In my opinion, Bentara Budaya is an extraordinary blessing for the country. I’m thankful that the company runs the foundation today. As a developing country, Indonesians, particularly Jakartans, focus more on making money. Culture, mental health, environment, to name just a few, tend to be neglected.

The presence of Bentara Budaya brings refreshment for those who seek beyond money-making process. As such, Bentara Budaya often carries out a monthly theme that sometimes discusses art, painting, film, cultural heritage and others. The venue sometimes hosts exhibitions, art events, community events, music shows, and others.

I haven’t gone inside the building, anyway. But I once watched one of the musical shows that were performing in front of the main Javanese house. That strategy lured passers-by to just drop by, enjoy the music without registering themselves or paying any cents. Thanks Bentara Budaya!

Gramedia Bookstore

The front part of the bookstore. Just go inside the building. Source: karyaguru.com

Basically, the interesting parts of Palmerah are within few meters walk around. Gramedia bookstore has been one of the important literary parts in Indonesia’s publishing industry. The growing of the online bookstore doesn’t kill this offline bookstore chain, alhamdulillah (Thanks to Alloh swt).

This Gramedia bookstore is included in the Gramedia big building that lies close to the market. So, once in the market, simply walk straight a few meters. You will later see the office building that contains the bookstore on the ground floor.

The bookstore sells Indonesian novels, comics, stationery items, magazines and many more. If you still find it confused, you can ask for security officers of the building on things you would like to know about the store. I’m sure they will be glad to answer your questions.

So, those are my recommendations about places to visit when in Palmerah. Thanks for dropping by to my blog. Pardon me when you find inaccurate information or hurtful words in this article.

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