Hope springs eternal for jaded ol' Jl. Jaksa
Source: JP/14 April 2002 by Bill Blade
Less like a gracious old dame fallen on hard times than a raunchy
old hussy gone past her use-by date, Jl. Jaksa has been looking
decidedly frayed around the edges of late.
Once a home away from home to hordes of backpackers, these
have become a rare breed indeed in Jakarta since the start of the
monetary crisis and its associated political upheavals,
compounded by the disruptive activities of self-righteous,
damnation-spewing brethren who have occasionally threatened the
Mind you, all the shake-ups don't seem to have fazed certain
grizzled old expatriate goats, mostly heavily bearded, who are so
often to be found holding court in Jaksa, bleating forth nonsense
about the woes of the world and the price of beer.
And just like any jaded, old crone, Jaksa has started to lose
a few of her teeth -- the most recent to go being the late
lamented Q-Bar, one of the few places on Jaksa with a bit of
savoir faire about it.
But even before Q-Bar's unfortunate demise, Romance (right
down at the Jl. K.H. Wahid Hashim end of the drag) had finally
given up the ghost -- not clear yet whether permanently -- after
years of just about hanging in there, as had Angie's, that old
Jaksa backpacker mainstay so beloved of the guidebooks.
But all's not lost and, fortunately, unlike most rouged and
painted old hags, Jaksa still possesses the blessed ability to
The latest pub to have opened its doors and provide some hope
of redemption is BFC (stands for "Bar Fans' Club") at Jl. Jaksa
No. 10 (Tel. 330605). This is actually the first pub you come to
as you wander south from Kebon Sirih, and is the successor to the
old BFC, which used to be located nearby but had to shift its
applecart due to lack of space.
One of the better joints along the drag, it could, however, be
said by uncharitable souls to be a bit on the dim and gloomy
side. But, with a large Bintang to be had for Rp 13,000 and a JW
Black for Rp 22,000, this place has a bright future provided they
liven it up a bit, not to mention rectifying the far from
ergonomically designed bar stools.
The next extant pub we come to as we meander southward after
the virtually moribund bar and restaurant attached to the Margot
Hotel is Memories (Jl. Jaksa No. 17, Tel. 3928839). This has
never been a particular favorite of mine but, judging by the
crowds, it's definitely not lacking in popularity and would
appear to have benefited hugely from the closure of Q-Bar just
across the street. Live music every night and cheap drink add to
its attractions. Open 24 hours, seven days a week, a big bottle
of Bintang will cost you Rp 13,000, while a house pouring of
whisky will hit you for a very reasonable Rp 22,000.
But like so many of the more basic Jaksa establishments,
little thought was given to hygiene or the convenience of ladies
when they were building the restrooms -- in many ways a large
hole in the ground would be superior to the clogged urinals and
malodorous, squat-down toilet (only one) that you'll have to
contend with here.
After Memories, we find ourselves at the one-room Ali's Bar
(Jl. Jaksa No. 25, Tel. 31900807), a place that has come to
resemble a little bit of Africa miraculously transported to the
apparently more salubrious climes of Indonesia, despite all of
the latter's economic travails.
Business, whatever it might happen to be, must be decidedly
good in this neck of the woods judging by the amount of JW Black
Label being guzzled down, the flashy clothes and watches on
display, and the neverending shouting matches as the West African
punters doggedly attempt to communicate on their cell phones amid
the din blasting out from the pub's sound system.
On the plus side, however, Ali's does provide the luxury of
air-conditioning, and a reasonably clean sit-down toilet. Neither
is it expensive. A large Bintang will set you back Rp 14,000,
while a JW Black Label will hit you for an eminently reasonable
Rp 25,000. They've also got English beer in the form of cans of
Boddington's draught (Rp 34,000).
Let's face it, though, Little Lagos is about as far removed
from the backpacker hangouts that used to dominate Jaksa as Ambon
is from Abuja. But of course, it all keeps the money rolling in,
so no one on Jaksa is complaining.
Next up is Papa's Cafe & Restaurant (Jl. Jaksa No. 41, Tel.
323452, open 24 hours, seven days a week), presumably named after
its lovable and rotund owner, Mr. Anton, who's about as fatherly
a figure as any you're likely to find these days down Jaksa way.
Open all night, a Bintang beer will set you back Rp 12,000
(nothing else, other than Guinness, available in the booze
Once again, though, the restrooms leave a lot to be desired,
and the food has always struck me as being rather overpriced
(McDonald's combos are cheaper!), if not downright insipid.
Still, not a bad spot all round, populated as it is by quite a
crew of friendly expats most nights of the week.
The last watering hole worth its salt before you hit Jl. K.H.
Wahid Hashim is the true jewel in Jaksa's currently rather
tarnished crown -- Ya-Udah Bistro. More a restaurant than a
watering-hole (but most definitely NOT a German bistro), not only
is it spick and span, and blessed with decent restrooms, but it
also has the cheapest hooch and tastiest chow on the whole drag.
At an incredible Rp 10,000 for a big, cold bottle of Bintang
and Rp 22,500 for a glass of Bali's own Hatten red wine, you
won't get better value than this anywhere in Indonesia (they even
present you with an ice cold towel to freshen up with when you
take your seat).
But it's the food that really steals the show here. If you
like sausages with your beer, this is the place for you. Strongly
Note: Credit cards are not generally accepted on Jl. Jaksa
'Nice girls don't go to Jalan Jaksa'
Source: JP/1 December 1995 by Maria Louise Tickle
JAKARTA (JP): Nice girls don't go to Jalan Jaksa, I am told.
Foreigners do. By the busload. What better place to get an idea
of the sex practices of foreigners in Jakarta than the Jaksa
International, a bar which my friend has dubbed "the ashtray".
On Jaksa you see it every night. Indonesian girls in see-
through tops who look like nine o'clock is past their bedtime,
attached to open-faced foreign guys in back-to-front baseball
caps who still look like they can't believe their luck. Jaksa is
heaven for the hormonally-driven.
On Jaksa you hear it, every night. The tales of Australian men
who call in sick to their language school employers only for it
to be later revealed they spent the day in bed with three local
girls. Stories abound of local girls who were virgins before they
hooked up with a foreigner and who think the relationship will
end in marriage, only to be bitterly disappointed. Then there are
those men who think their woman of the night wants them for their
good looks and charm, only to be faced with a request to cover a
very expensive taxi ride the morning after.
When it comes down to it, the message for foreigners dabbling
in the joys of the night in Jakarta is quite simple.
"You're crazy if you have unprotected sex," Mackay said.
In a bar on a side-street off Jalan Jaksa a 29-year-old
English teacher agreed, but said many foreigners were flying
close to the sun when it comes to safe sex. Having lived in a
brothel/hostel for six months, he would know.
"A lot of them are not having safe sex. From what I hear from
the girls, if the client wants to use a condom they will but if
he doesn't, they don't care," he said.
"You'd think foreign guys would know better but many guys here
are not worried, AIDS is not a big consideration. They think `It
won't happen to me.'"
He said although many local girls did not believe in pre-
marital sex and highly prized their virginity, many were sexually
Foreign men are afforded almost movie-star status in Jakarta,
he said. "One Saturday afternoon I had four girls ring and ask me
out," he said, more incredulous than boasting.
"Indonesian girls are very forward, he said. "When you're a
bule (foreigner) you get a lot of attention from girls and it's
very flattering. A lot of the interest is financial but some of
them find Westerners physically attractive and others like the
idea of a Western boyfriend."
The attraction cuts both ways, he said.
"When I was first here, I'd fall in love everyday ... the
color of their skin is so different, so exotic."
The definition of a prostitute is not clear in Jakarta, he
said. "Some of the girls are just looking for a guy but if the
situation arose, they may try to get money out of it. It's an
"Most of the prostitutes are up-front, but not the same way
they are at home. `Up-front' as they put their hands on you and
tell you they love you. They get you to go with them and
afterwards tell you that you owe them money -- that happens quite
Having been lavished with attention for so long would it be
hard for a foreigner once they're back home and suddenly
He laughed, leaning back in his chair: "I've thought about
that. I guess I won't know until I get there!"
Tourists nabbed for lacking papers
Source: JP/13 December 1994
JAKARTA (JP): The directorate general of immigration
apprehended five tourists, one from the Philippines, Japan,
America, the Netherlands and Nigeria, who were staying at hotels
on Jl. Jaksa, Central Jakarta, due to having inadequate travel
documents on them.
Spokesmen of the Directorate General Hario Subayu, said in a
statement made available to The Jakarta Post yesterday that the
operation started at 8 a.m. on Sunday and was carried out
randomly by officials in all hotels in Jl. Jaksa.
Hario said the operation was aimed at controlling the legality
of tourists' travel documentation in Jakarta.
During the operation, the officials of the directorate general
uncovered an American who abused his visa, a Filipino who had
lost her passport, and a Japanese, Nigerian and a Dutch national
who could not show their passports because they were in
safekeeping with their friends.
The operation ended at 10 a.m. and the arrested aliens were
escorted to the office of the immigration directorate general for
questioning, Hario said without giving further details. (mas)
Jaksa Fair lures thousands of visitors
Source: JP/Lenah Susianty, 8 August, 1994
JAKARTA (JP): The Jaksa Fair, the first ever street festival to feature the history of Jl. Jaksa and Betawi culture, lured
thousands of visitors to Central Jakarta over the weekend.
The festival was closed yesterday with a performance by the
Lenong Rumpi group which presented an episode entitled Pilih-
pilih mantu (choosing son-in-law).
The presence of artists staring in Lenong Rumpi, a modernized
Betawi Lenong which gained fame as a regular weekly aired on
RCTI, gave a glamourous touch to the three day folk festival.
Most natives of Jakarta or Betawi people attending the
festival, especially residents of Jl. Jaksa and Kebon Sirih area,
Central Jakarta, relished in the presence of their favorite stars
who they said raised the magnitude of traditional lenong into a
Tarida Gloria, a comedian-cum-actress, who visited the
festival and Lenong Rumpi artist Harry de Fretest were among the
stars on the first and second night. But prominent business
figures, such as Dewi Motik who attended the opening ceremony,
were almost ignored by visitors, who were mostly Betawi people.
Minister of Tourism, Post and Telecommunications Joop Ave,
dancer-cum-choreographer Sardono, students and backpackers were
among the thousands of visitors who packed Jl. Jaksa on Friday
"The Minister came here informally, not as the minister but as
a Jakarta resident," said Renaldo Tomasouw, the treasurer of the
organizing committee which consisted of officials of the City
Tourism Office and Jl. Jaksa Tourism Industry Organizers.
Traffic on Jl. Kebon Sirih and other roads adjacent to the
festival was smooth on the first day of the festival although Jl.
Jaksa was totally closed.
The three day festival, opened by Jakarta Deputy Governor for
Economic and Development affairs TB M. Rais on Friday evening,
presented Betawi culture, such as gambang kromong music, sahibul
hikayat traditional story-telling and ngarojeng dance, and
various Betawi foods including the famous kerak telor, laksa,
soto bebanci and sekoteng.
There were also stands selling postcards, traditional
Kalimantan handicrafts, food, paintings, and other services,
including a PT Indosat stand which offered international home
country direct calls and domestic calls.
An information center was established by the organizing
committee to enlighten visitors on Betawi culture and the events
at the fair.
Harry de Fretes also made use the festival by opening a
restaurant named Boim Cafe whose menu consisted of bizarre names
like Sop buntut pujaan hati (Sweetheart cocktail soup), Es mambo
banjir (Flood ice cream) and pisang goreng impian Barcelona
(Barcelona dream fried banana).
Commenting on his turnover, Harry said that he had sold more
than he had expected.
Nathanael Lawalata, the man who pioneered the development of
budget accommodation on Jl. Jaksa, dressed in a Betawi
traditional outfit, told the Post that he admired the spirit of
youths who organized the fair.
"This is good because they are young and hard workers. And, I
did not expect so many people to come," he said.
"This is really nice," said a Dutch tourist taking a
photograph of a man dressed in a Betawi costume.
Ukke Kosasih, the program coordinator, recently said that they
plan to make the fair an annual event.
"But, maybe next time, we will also highlight other cultures
which have influenced Betawi culture, such as Chinese, Arab and
Portuguese," she said.
The street festival was held to promote tourism in the area
and also to revive the endangered Betawi culture.
Jalan Jaksa Fair less spirited than usual
Source: JP/R. Berto Wedhatama, Saturday, 27 August, 2005
The popular annual festival held around Jl. Jaksa, a favorite place for budget tourists, brightened up the area for only a few hours on Friday.
Owing to the obvious lack of preparation and promotion by the organizer, the Jakarta Tourism Agency, the one-day celebration was the least lively so far.
Though, named the Jl. Jaksa Festival, the giant stage was placed at the T-junction of Jl. Jaksa and Jl. Hasyim Azhari, where most attractions and stands were set.
Jaksa Fair organizer faces fund shortage
Source: JP/30 July 1994
JAKARTA (JP): The organizer of the Jaksa Fair, a three-day
cultural festival aimed at promoting the culture of indigenous
Jakartans, commonly known as Betawi, is facing financial
Renaldo Tomasouw, the treasurer of the organizing committee,
said that as of yesterday, the committee had only collected Rp
100 million (US$46,150) of the Rp 350 million target. The money
has been received from hotels located along Jl. Jaksa, a popular
location for budget tourists in Central Jakarta and the other
"It is very difficult to find companies who are willing to
sponsor this art event. I do not understand why," Renaldo said,
adding that the committee had asked big companies located near
Jl. Jaksa to participate.
"We have also contacted several travel bureaus and airlines,
but so far only one beer producer has shown interest in
The Jaksa Fair, jointly organized by the Association of Jl.
Jaksa's Tourism Industry Organizers (IKJS) in cooperation with
the Jakarta Tourism Office, will be held from Aug. 5 to 7 on Jl.
Jaksa. The fair is scheduled to be opened by Governor Surjadi
The street festival, the first of its kind, is aimed at
boosting the street's fame and reviving the almost forgotten
culture of indigenous Jakarta residents.
"From our surveys, the average length of stay of foreign
tourists in hotels on Jl. Jaksa is only three days. They use
Jakarta only as a transit point before going to Bali and other
places," said Ukke Kosasih, the organizing committee's programs
The 400-meter Jl. Jaksa, mentioned in almost all of guidebooks
for backpackers, has 27 hotels and hostels with a total of 363
rooms as well as hundreds of rooms rented by area residents, six
restaurants, four travel agencies, a bookstore, money changers,
laundries, pubs, etc.
Jl. Jaksa has been widely known among backpackers since the
late 1960s when Nathanael Lawalata established the first hotel,
Wisma Delima. Last year 57,201 foreign tourists visited hotels
and hostels in the area, including 4,215 Americans, 9,309
Australians, 29,676 Europeans and 649 Africans.
Hotel rates on Jl. Jaksa range from Rp 10,000 to Rp 45,000 per
The Jaksa Fair, which will take place from 4 p.m. to midnight
on Friday and Saturday and from 10 a.m. to midnight on Sunday
next week, will feature Betawi music, dances and theater on three
stages to be built on the street.
"Visitors can also sample a variety of Betawi food sold by
street vendors, and see a photographic exposition of old Jakarta
and Jl. Jaksa and the Kebon Sirih area (located in the same
neighborhood) as they were in 1939, as well as a demonstration of
the making of traditional Betawi Purnam or paper lanterns," Ukke
said, adding that around 10,000 people are expected to visit the
The fair will also feature Ondel-ondel and Rebana Ketimpring
parades, Sembah Nyai, Lambang Sari, Badah Khatam and Topeng Gong
dances, Gambang Kromong and Kroncong Tugu, Lenong Denes and
Lenong Rumpi theaters. (als)