Inner Circle

Going with the flow in Jakarta

Yeoh Siew Hoon finds Zen in Indonesia's capital

Going with the flow in Jakarta
Indeed, it is the web-based economy that is booming in Jakarta with an increasingly tech-savvy generation of consumers embracing all things Internet.

Sitting in gridlock from the airport to Shangri-La Hotel, Jakarta, traffic has become a common part of city life, which even the taxi drivers have learned to accept. It’s almost as if they’ve attended self-help courses and have been taught that since you can’t control the world outside, the only thing you can control is yourself. They take a deep breath, accept the situation and look on the bright side. 

It’s actually a good attitude for travel. I remember my last trip to Jakarta.  I had come for the day and spent the entire time in the shopping mall where my event was held. More than other cities in Asia, Jakarta has a particularly strong mall culture – probably due to the traffic and heat – and people spend a lot of time indoors.

For business travellers, the location of a hotel is particularly important. You stay near business partners and arrange meetings at or around the hotel. Otherwise, you spend more time in traffic than at meetings.

This is one reason Shangri-La Hotel, Jakarta does well. It has a central location, close to most businesses and several malls – for meals and entertainment – if you wish to stay close by and still experience the city. Its complimentary internet and Wi-Fi access is also a strong draw, as most of the city’s luxury hotels still charge if you’re not staying on the Club floor, an archaic practice in today’s environment.

Indeed, it is the web-based economy that is booming in Jakarta with an increasingly tech-savvy generation of consumers embracing all things Internet. 

If you look around, you will find Indonesians glued to their smartphones – Blackberry in particular – on forums and social networking sites. They’re also getting comfortable buying online and Indonesia is regarded as the next big market for e-commerce, after India and China.

I am staying overnight this time, travelling with three associates, who are exploring online investment opportunities in travel, social gaming and social networking.

After a day of meetings, we hop into a taxi and head to a mall (of course). This time, Pacific Place, where a new restaurant named Potato Head has been creating a buzz. It occupies a huge space, which spills out onto the deck so you can lounge and take in the city skyline. Personally, I prefer the Potato Head in Bali, as it looks out onto the beach and ocean.

The owners tried something different by decorating the restaurant with hundreds of old doors from around the country. “We use a lot of teak in Indonesia,” said a friend of the owner. “So we wanted a design that would capture that feel.” The cocktails are supposed to be good and the tuna pasta was delicious.

That’s the great thing about Jakarta. Once you accept the traffic situation, there’s always something new to be discovered in the city because this place is on steroids, business-speaking.

 Make a booking at Shangri-La Hotel, Jakarta Back to Heart Talk 

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