Jakarta – Smog City, and a Royal-esq Wedding

After five wonderful days in Bali, it was time to say goodbye and move on to our next destination- Jakarta. After all, the whole purpose of our trip was to attend a wedding there. We flew AirAsia a few times on this trip, very inexpensive and fairly clean. The one thing very different about the airports there is that once arrive, the luggage go through an x-ray scan, but the actual security screening doesn’t happen until when you arrive at your gate. This means very little wait time compare to the centralized security screening in the US airports, but depends on where your gates are, you might not be able to buy beverages at the airport to bring with you onto the plane.

We arrived at Hotel Mulia, a stunning 5-star hotel with impeccable service. There are several cafes and restaurants on site but we went out and explore. The air quality is really bad there, and I’ll never even dare to drive in that traffic, so we spent most of our time at the hotel or at some mall nearby. If you know Jakarta, you know there are an overabundance of mega malls there. We are not talking about strip malls, but more like high rises and stunning architectural buildings with high-end designer brands, 5 star restaurants, movie theaters (some with recliners), and a whole level of nothing but food court eats.

For lunch, we dined at Paradise Dynasty, a Chinese restaurant that specializes in Xiao Long Baos. This was our first non-Indonesian meal on the trip, oh wait, I forgot about eating at McDonald’s (burger crave) and the Italian restaurant at the Bali villa. What I meant was, this was our first non-Indonesian meal that was actually good! We slurped bowls of comforting noodles and ordered more juices and smoothies. The nine of us must’ve ordered 5 baskets of Xiao Long Baos (bottom left), I’m getting hungry just thinking about these juicy dumplings. Two other dishes I liked a lot were the three-color egg (a traditional dish but very rarely seen on the menu in the States), and cucumber wrapped with pork belly slices and topped with lots of garlic sauce.

first meal in jakarta. paradise dynasty at senayan plaza. xiao long baos!!paradise dynasty 3paradise dynasty 2

Being a coffee lover, I had my share of delicious Balinese coffee while on the island of Bali, but I really looked forward to trying some Kopi Luwak while in Indonesia. The markets sell countless varieties thus making it hard to decide which ones to bring home. Our friend took us to the Kopi Luwak store front since it’s the only brand that the Indonesian government recognize for exporting civet coffee. Some of you may be going “ewwww” if you’ve heard of this special coffee, but it really isn’t gross like that. You can read about the process of making Kopi Luwak here, and I urge you to try a cup if you ever get the chance to. (they charged ~$10 per cup in store, freshly brewed in front of you.) I only had a sip in the store, but I brought home two bags of 100% Kopi Luwak beans, and it tasted even better brewed at home. Smooth, sweet, with a slight hint of chocolate, really a great cup of coffee! It’s definitely a luxury item, it’s expensive for a reason but so worth the indulgence if you appreciate fine java.

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On to the main event! We gave our friend (the groom) the nickname “prince” when he was still living in the States, but we never expected to attend such a beautiful and lavish event like one would expect from real royalties.

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The ceremony took place in this magnificent cathedral in Jakarta.

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We had a driver took us back to the hotel for the tea ceremony and luncheon. We followed the newlywed’s motorcade and was back at the hotel in no time. It was pretty awesome.

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The luncheon was served buffet style. There were Westernized cuisine as well of Indonesian fare, and chefs were on site grilling steaks and fishes to each individual’s liking. The dessert spread was situated right in the middle of the ballroom surrounding the ice sculptures. How I wished to have four more stomachs to sample all the sweet treats.

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We spent our afternoon digesting and tanning by the hotel pool. Then it was time to get ready for the dinner reception.

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The same ballroom where the luncheon was held had a complete makeover for the dinner reception! Flowers were everywhere…on the table, on the prop trees, on the curtains, on the ceiling….And check out the cake!

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The room was so big that we had to watch the wedding party entrance from the live broadcast on the LED monitors.

What we ate…..

First course: trio of lobster, salad, and foie gras in caviar sauce.

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Second course: shark fin soup.

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Third course: Wagyu steak with duck liver.

Fourth course: Whole Abalone

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Dessert: coconut blancmange with strawberry, and chocolates.

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The after party was in a smaller room in the same hotel, decorated like a night club. We sipped signature drinks and danced all night! New favorite (and quite lethal) combination – Macallan with green tea.

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Up next: We found paradise (and clean air) just a two-hour boat ride away from Jakarta!

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