Jakarta is a city of malls. So very many malls. Until today, I had only been in one, Plaza Semanggi, where my work is, and I thought it was alright (except for the extraordinarily few lifts for the extraordinarily large crowds). Everything seemed quite reasonable, if not somewhat baffling in layout.
Today, I decided to venture to some new malls in my quest to see more of Jakarta. I wanted to see the big fountain in the middle of Jakarta, so I headed to Plaza Indonesia because I read it was near there. Well, this mall was quite a different affair to Semanggi, which is fairly middle class.
The middle of Jakarta… don’t let the clean, un-congested roads fool you. Turn the corner and it’s all falling down tin shed homes, little food carts selling dubious looking consumables, etc… and the traffic is only quiet because it was a Sunday morning.
Plaza Indonesia was full of designer stores, like Versace, Prada et al. It was so swanky, it made Westfield Bondi Junction (Sydney’s s/wankiest shopping complex) look like Westfield Woop Woop.
It was bizarre though, on a Sunday afternoon when malls should be buzzing, the stores were sooooo empty. It was like a freakish glass monolith paying testament to all the things most Indonesians (and moderately paid bule like me) can’t afford.
So I got freaked out and went outside, and it didn’t take long for me to stumble upon yet another mall.
This one was called Grand Indonesia, and once again, was full of swankiness.
It has British chain stores like Dorothy Perkins and Marks and Spencer (which sell clothes for fatty boom bah Westerners, albeit for high Western prices) and… TOPSHOP! My favourite of the British high street stores (along with Monsoon… I wonder if there is a Monsoon in Jakarta? The store, not the weather pattern). Topshop has the coolest stuff ever. Wanted to buy things as soon as I walked in. Except it’s a pretty small Topshop.
But, besides this excitement of finding stores that somehow Australia has not managed to get its hands on despite 11 years of John Howard driving the economy towards greatness, was just general wonder at this mall.
Within the space of 100 metres, I somehow managed to move from normal swanky shopping mall décor, to a faux Japanese bonsai garden replete with cherry blossums, to mini Morocco, baby Venice (sans canals) and then Paris without any French people.
The mall’s décor literally changed to a completely different chintzy theme every 50 metres or so! I was in awe! I love chintz!
Where baby Paris and baby Italy border each other, right in Jakarta… I think the windmill is supposed to be a-la Moulin Rouge, and the fountain like a baby Trevi.
It also had one of the craziest food courts I have seen in my life. It was like a tribute to Schapelle Corby’s term in Denpasar Jail, except instead of her highly groomed eyebrows between the bars, it was tables and restaurants!
I swear, the drugs aren’t mine! Someone must have put them in my boogy board bag! Oh wait, this is just a food court. Get me some nasi goreng.
Once I stumbled upon Art Deco New York World though, the ante was upped big time.
A crowd had gathered in some sort of art deco atrium with the New York skyline painted on the ceiling.
Crowds only mean one of a few things;
a) Protest, in which I can go all journalism-style on their arses
b) Something free is nearby
c) Something moderately to very exciting is about to happen
It was option c! All of a sudden, the familiar strains of “New York, New York” filled the atrium and a relatively normal looking water fountain started a choreographed routine to the tune, complete with technicolor light show!
The fountain spurted and sprayed and sploshed in perfect time to the grandiose show tune, much to the delight of small children and stupid bule (… me).
Then, a classical instrumental tune came on, and just as the fountain spurted towards the ceiling for its climax (mind out of gutter people, this isn’t Mills and Boon), thousands of bubbles started coming out of the ceiling! I don’t know where from, but there were bubbles everywhere.
This sent the children into a frenzy of running around popping bubbles. I just had to stand there and look grown up with surreptitiously examining the ceiling and trying to figure out how the hell they did it.
I wonder how many times a day the fountain spazzes out like that… does it have a large choreographic repetoire or can it only rock out Sinatra-style? This warrants more investigation and a return visit with my SLR and a tripod to take better pictures.
A mall-cum-theme park-cum-world tour? Jakarta is a very strange place indeed.