Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Indie Guide Jakarta Restaurants: Review of the Spiciest Place Ever- Mbah Jingkrak

Your mouth will need an exorcism but well worth the awesome

This place feels like you've walked into the imagination of a child or more likely some guy's mushroom trip visions. The restaurant, Mbah Jingkrak, meaning something to the effect of Granny Extreme Fun Dancing Granny (its appropriateness will become clear when you hear of the food), is set up in a house and backyard with eccentric decor everywhere. Enter a world with underwater gnomes chillin' in the swimming pool, crazy masks hanging from trees, walls filled with endless array of hats and so much more. There's not much consistency in the decor, but the quirky ambiance it creates instantly made me warm up to the place. And yes, as this blogger mentions, they do have the TV on in the living room playing. It's odd even if it's supposed to be all vintage cool. Opt to sit outside in the garden, it's way rad.

However, not just anyone is badass enough to handle this resto. The food may just make you sweat fireballs from how spicy it is. It's true, I had been warned by locals that it was for people with a high tolerance, but after eating Manadonese food, I thought not even Satan could touch me. This was FALSE.  The sambal (chili sauce) is known as Devil's Sambal (a label that I blatantly ignored) and to my detriment I mixed a whole spoonful into my rice to eat with my bamboo curry. I think the earth stood still at this point. Make no mistake, I have a very high tolerance (being brown and all), but this folks, was just too much. I peeled off my jacket, I had started to sweat. It felt like red ants had mopped the inside of my mouth with their poison, and my lips..well refer to the picture below. 

When Naruto and co try to unmask Kakashi and imagine what is under his ninja mask. I couldn't get this image out of my head as my face was on fire.

While I was trying to look cool in front of my French friend, Axel, he was enjoying dishes of stew beef that had a sweet flavour and chicken made with chili and onions and some sort of tangy but spicy sauce. Despite having taken the mildest of dishes, he was already at his spicy limit. Me,  kind of bitter from Dante's Peak in my mouth, I thought it would be funny to convince Axel to try the Devil's Sambal as well. Being a tourist, I used his ignorance to convince him that 'sambal' is a special sauce that accompanies Indonesian dishes and since it was his last night in Jakarta, he couldn't NOT try it, jeez, grow a pair, yadi yadi. He looked at me dubiously and finally took the most minute amount and mixed it with his rice and ate it. There was nothing but silence for a while. I thought it was fine. But then..he uttered a couple words, "I hate you."

"I don't care about the background, or taking a picture of myself. I want to remember this moment as the moment I stopped feeling my mouth." - Axel

He said he couldn't speak, he couldn't smile he couldn't feel his mouth anymore. I, on the otherhand was dying of both pain and laughter at this point and I was sadistically satisfied. The food, was tasty as hell but painful. Really, you should go and consider it  a challenge. The Sambal Challenge. Honestly though.. beware. I went home and the challenge didn't end for another couple days. In sum: Lavapit.stomach.hurt.middleofthenight.chocolaterain.nextday.ontheway2work.emergencystoponOjek.embarrased.

In the end, we had a lot of fun with the food and the decor. It was a perfect place to bring a visiting friend, but I'm also excited to show the other interns this funky spot. The service is good and the prices were reasonable. For three dishes and drinks (Bamboo curry, Chicken, Beef, 3 rice and 5 waters) it came up to 75k IDR which is about 7 euros.

I thank slash curse my fellow uni mate, Soraya who had grown up in Jakarta for the recommendation !

Also, if you want a review not filled with adjectives like rad and awesome and with some facts, check out this article about Mbah Jingkrak in the Jakarta Globe.

Jalan Setiabudi 11
Off of Sudirman.
by Kopaja (little green bus): Get off at Prudential building, or Setia Budi bus stop and find the road Jl Setiabudi. You'll have to walk about 15 minutes to find it. It's not simple to find but it's well known so ask around.

Evil Sambal. 

Crazy hat collection, which apparently comes from all over the world. 

Recovery. Different, more classic feel on the inside with traditional masks and wayang (shadow puppets).

More cool stuff about Jakarta, like partying and shopping, art, whatever

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Aussies aren't all bad: VIDEO

Totally plagiarizing my own facebook page, but whateves. Here's the video to accompany this status posted after I returned from Bali and hadn't come across another real human who hadn't come from Australia in over a week. After days of hating I've had to reconsider a bit.

I have to admit, at least Aussies know how to have a hella good time no matter where they are or how empty a bar is, ha. Looking forward to more than 3+ hours of sleep/night though.

It's not the best quality of vlogging but you get the idea.


 It started on New Years eve when some flower power suited men brought some big game to a rather posh place, see here, Potato Heads. They were "heaps of" fun. No one was dancing, and the rain was sort of a damper, but I said to them, "get your people, we can start this dance party." And we did. Everyone in their suits, nice dresses etc started dancing their hearts out in this field in the rain to ring in the New Year. We then all jumped into the pool, fully dressed and swam.  Epic? One of my best NYE.

Then in Kuta Bali after experiencing the scum of the earth, I met some folks who weren't half bad. They had at least half a brain given that they were studying med and engineering and we got along well. Started the night off with Sake bombs and didn't end till my flight the next morning. It wasn't the end though. They were coincidentally passing through Jakarta and brought the fun times along to this city. Forget the snobbiness here, we had so much fun dancing at Bats. Although I hated how obnoxious and ogre like Aussies were I developed a small appreciation for their love of life and care-free attitudes.  


Humourous Series of Events

Ell: Hey guys, let's take off our shirts! I'll help you.
Boys: Yea, great idea! We're awesome!
(not a great idea)

 Immediately security descends on us.

Security at Bats just not impressed. Boys feeling pretty proud and Aussie for being big and beautiful. Later we try to jump on a table to dance (standard really) and a similar series of events happens. The End. 

More from Bali

Potato Heads: Pool Side Play on New Year's Eve

Indie Guide Kuta Bali or How I realized Monogamy is not for me


A bit of indie-tastic sounds because that's what I imagine when I think of Aussies.

Oh Mandy-Spinto Band.mp3 



Sunday, January 9, 2011

Indie Guide Kuta Bali: Cheap Living + A Girls Dream Spot (sort of)

How to pay local prices and being blown away by the best looking place on earth

After my sexy New Year's Eve in Seminyak and partying with a group who suited up in a big way (custom tailored floral patterned suits) I moved my derriere to Kuta, the trashy, surfer bit of the island. It is sort of the gutter of Indonesia in some respects. For instance, don't expect to find a shred of culture here, the beaches are littered in plastic, the tourists are young aussies looking for a cheap vacay and mushrooms, but.. it's not all bad. Given the younger crowd, the prices for EVERYTHING are just more affordable and the partying is hella fun.

Anyways, since you all know I'm a povo intern I'll let you know some of the cheapest prices you could possibly find. Most tourists, because they are Westernish get inflated prices on everything and just straight up ripped off. Luckily, I kicked it back with my Indonesian lady friend who used to live in Bali and she knew all the non-touristy prices.  Obviously I will share it with you homies. Lastly, Kuta can be horrible but it has its redeeming qualities which you have to read about below (especially if you are a lady!). 

1. What the Real Prices Are (surfing, motorbikes etc.)
2. Where to Stay for Mad Cheap
3. Attention!!
4. The Party Scene or How I Realized Monogamy is not for me
5. How not to Dress Like a Jackass 

1. How Much to Pay: The Real Price

Surfing: Rent a board for 30 K IDR (4USD!!)
I swear to god. It was the end of the day so perhaps it was cheaper, but otherwise we would have gotten it for 50k. They will tell you minimum 200k, not so!

Luckily found some little brothers to help teach us how to surf (thanks boys, Pat, EJ  )

Surf lessons + board: 50k-100k. Bargain hard. Learn words in Indonesian like thank you and numbers.

Motor bike : 30k/day. Go to Beneyasa Inn (below) to get it. It's crazy amazing.

Bribes: I heard that when you ride around you'll get pulled over for "not having an international license" and the idea is that you are meant to bribe. Apparently leave about 100k in the compartment with the papers and that should do you over.  Otherwise, just keep driving pass the police and don't stop to pay. Wtf eh? Thanks for the tip, Marcel.

2. Where to Stay
The main Kuta area is Poppies Lane. Try to find accommondation around there so you don't have to take "transport" while wasted and risk getting ripped off or drinking and driving. The cheapest places I found are:

Beneyasa  Beach Inn: 
  • Double bed with A/C = 160k IDR/night,
  • No A/C= 70 K/night
  • Directions: If you are facing the beach and on Poppies Lane turn right on Bene Sari and it should be on your left hand side. It's a 5 minute walk from the beach.
  • Poppies Lane II Legian Street (0361) 754180- 755469

Dua Dara Inn: 
  • Showers severely suck, no hot water, hardcore fan but it's close and convenient.
  • Double Bed NO A/C= 150K IDR/night
  • Poppies Lane II, in front of Twice Bar

Bounty Hotel
  • This place is expensive but go there if you're looking for  Spring Break ambiance. Beefed up dudes and ladies are perennially with a beer as early as noon in the pool, music never stops and there is a ping pong table! It might as well be called Hotel Australia though, no locals stay there.  Also, don't try to dive off the statues into the pool. They are sacred.
  • Poppies Lane II, up the road towards the beach from Dua Dara Inn.
3. Attention!
  • Thieving kids. The little kids in the streets of Poppies Lane are aggressive and will rob you. I've really never seen anything like it even in other tourist hot spots like Koh Phangan. If you are a female they will often try to grope you as you pass and ask you for money. When you refuse they will all start grabbing your arm to distract you, while one friend goes for your pocket. I know you're wasted off Bintang, but seriously watch out fools! I thought I was going to slap one of these brats because they tried to rob the small amount of money I had left on me.

  • Racist Prices. If you are with Indonesian friends beware because there is a rather discriminatory policy of making locals pay to get into clubs in their own friggin' country. Those clubs are: Sky Garden, Bounty. However, if they show up on the arm of a white dude they should be fine. Voice dripping with salty sarcasm right now. Hearing this that night put me in the worst mood and was what made me want to stare daggers into every dumb Oz I met afterward (story below). 

4. The Party Scene or How I Realized Monogamy is not for me
This place really is a pheromone phenomenon and it is my humble duty to woman kind to share this hotspot to all dem single ladies. Don't expect to find love here as Julia Roberts (that's Ebud), but she got the idea right. There are plenty of men here in Bali, but in Kuta it's a different sort.   Here it's the surfer, young party area and when you look around you find yourself drowning in a hazy mass of corn yellow locks, muscles and fit bodies. Everyone is in absolute perfect shape, especially for being in Bali around December (where's the holiday gut??), a skinny dark haired French man would not stand a chance (except..I think the lanky no muscle thing is kind of rad no?). 

"Chests smoother than La Vie en Rose"

Coming from Toronto, Kuta was shockingly and almost appallingly homogeneous (I was a little brown island of awesome). At the same time can one ever really get sick of smoldering blue eyes, creamy tanned skin like the froth of a mocha, long lean limbs defined by sun and surf, and chests smoother than listening to La Vie en Rose? In fact, while walking around the narrow streets of Kuta, I literally felt the need to keep my eyes averted from fear of feeling like Charlie in his chocolate factory- just absolutely overwhelmed. Ladies, if you are lookin' for the gift of good looks, come to Bali around Christmas time. I've been to Miami, Thailand, Laos, Cali and oh la la I can't say I've ever seen such a concentration as here..except for maybe SciencesPo Paris ha. The numbers are in your favour too. Because it's a surfing mecca, it tends to be a sausage factory. The women who come are equally beautiful, but there are just less. For ex-pats from Jakarta, it's a huge relief too where accessible men is grossly in short supply.

Be aware of the Cheerleader Effect though! And that is where large groups of girls appear to be super hot because of the group effect but when examined individually they're butt ugly. The same is true for guys. The solid man bodies may scream potential from your peripheral vision but take a closer look! (Thank you Barney Stinson for your ever useful cultural references).

Thankfully, there is one giant filter to help you guys and gals out with the choosing and it's called A-U-S-T-R-A-L-I-A-N, or shall I say Bintang singlets, no idea where Guyana is, the only thing known about Canada is Whistler (extreme they are), and instead of saying "chug" like normal folks they say "skoll it?" Yea, the tooth ache of all this eye candy is that Kuta doesn't attract the smartest bunch and although I feel like some misogynist in an American movie, the less they say, the better.

One guy I met, after I told him I work with the UN said, "I hope you haven't killed a man,"and after having quite enough of some Aussies that night I couldn't bare to talk to him any longer. He then had the nerve to call me a freeloader after his dumb comments because I accepted a drink he offered. THEN despite my look of disgust he asked if we could make out! Just die, jackass.  Another group of Aussies weren't clever enough to come up with enough rules for the cards in the deck when playing Kings (drinking game where you put beer in the centre cup every time you draw a king). They used Ace and King as the king cup and refused to hear other rules from the America of the North where we do "Never Have I Ever," and "Strike a pose!"  Of course, blanket generalizations never cover everyone and the people I appreciated in Kuta know who they are. Anyway, if you're looking to meet the creme de la creme of that country continent, the Aussies in Jakarta will restore your faith in human kind after Bali. 

Regarding nightlife, expect to never want to listen to Barbara Streisand or G6 again in your gosh darn life. Every place, from Sky Garden to Paddy's had the exact same playlist. So if you club hop for a couple nights in a row expect to hear the same song at least 15 times. Nonetheless, it is solid good debauchery, great dancing and I suppose a good relief from the pretension of Jakarta (damn billion inch heels you have to wear).  I would recommend Kuta for the College kid or interns. Any older than that and partying there may make you feel out of place. As a recent graduate and doing an internship I decided to try it out because I figured it was the only time in my life when Kuta will be bearable. I also felt sort of old..where as in other parts of the island I was the youngest! Oh the twilight age of 23, you're neither here nor there. Next year when I'm all ballin' and not on a povo stipend, I will definitely stick in Seminyak and try out the rest of the island. Despite its faults, I ended up having an epic experience with cool folks I met in Kuta. Surfing, sake bombs, clubbing all night, swimming till morning and straight on to my flight at 7 am rollin' into the full of salt and chlorine and damp bathing suit under my dress shirt. ha. To be young.

5. How to Not Dress like a Jackass
Remember how I said these people are all beautiful? Well they dress like shit. Help yourself out x 1 million with some of these tips. 
  1.  Avoid Singlets aka wife-beaters at all costs. I know you're probably buff and beautiful, but show some class at night.
  2. Don't avoid the singlet if your alternative is going shirtless. Kuta clubs, especially the dreaded Paddy's were filled with half naked Aussies. It honestly reeks of man sweat. Please wear clothes
  3. Collared white shirt + flowery patterned board shorts = melt worthy. What can I say, this outfit will attract more girls to you than the trashy garb. It's the perfect mix of beach and night life and can only be pulled off in beach clubs. It's so hot. I almost pulled a Woody Allen and was almost enticed by a young'in because of this outfit! (It's also how you can tell who is European or not).
  4. Leave your arm full of Tatoos in the 90's. Known as 'sleeve tats' this was the first and easiest line of defense against the scum of the earth..except if they were locals.
  5.  Flip flops are for the beach? This point I don't feel too strongly about. Coming from Jakarta or Paris where you will face an electric fence of disgusted stares if you try to bust out your "tongs" to the club, it's sort of a relief to be able to wear it to the beachy nights. However, when people make an effort in Kuta it doesn't go unnoticed.
  6. Ladies, don't just wear a bikini out. At least wear a cool tank top over it. We all know you're getting sloppy, but leave a little to the imagination at first anyway.
I had a realization Aussies aren't all bad: Video..

 In Indonesia? Don't Forget Jakarta, it's actually pretty rad.

Taxis to Avoid in Jakarta and Getting Around

Two Day Hangover Won't Stop Us! Monday Mayhem

Music to Dance to
Duck Sauce (you know the people did Barbara Streisand?) have this pretty sick mix out. Thanks to the old amour for posting this on my wall! x