According to the official site of the Jakarta city administration, jakarta.go.id, Glodok in West Jakarta has been home to the capital's Chinese community for 350 years, well before independence was proclaimed by the founding fathers of Indonesia.
Historian Arismawan Harjadi said the Chinese were told they could no longer live in Central Jakarta when they led a rebellion in 1740, which was fueled by discrimination toward them by Dutch colonists.
They were sequestered outside the city center of Jakarta, or Batavia, as it was then called. The community proceeded to establish settlements outside the city center in the area now known as Glodok, and conducted business as merchants.
As the city of Batavia developed under the leadership of Governor General Jan Pieterszoon (JP) Coen, Glodok became a lively and bustling village and suburban trade center.
Nowadays, Glodok is the place to experience the authenticity of its chaotic traditional Chinese market, products and food.
Here is our list of the things you can do if you have a day spare to explore the area.
Many street vendors in Glodok begin trading at 5 a.m. or even 4 a.m. for the vegetable sellers at the Pasar Pagi traditional market.
But 9 a.m. is a good time to set out as the weather is already nice but not too hot, and all the small stands and stores are already open and ready to greet their customers.
One of the most lively spots in Chinatown is the narrow alley of Petak Sembilan. Located off Jl. Kemenangan III, it is marked with old buildings with street hawkers in front of them, selling goods such as honey and honeycomb, popsicles, dried flower tea, Chinese medicine, colorful dried sweets and snacks, Chinese wedding supplies and souvenirs, fruit and vegetables and even raw foodstuffs, such as crabs, frogs and sea cucumbers.
Walk straight from Pasar Glodok to this chaotic but exciting area.
Connected to Petak Sembilan is a similar narrow alley called Kali Mati.
The traders here mostly sell fruit and traditional snacks. The goods sold include bacan, which is sticky rice filled with pork and salted egg and wrapped in bamboo leaves; moon cakes; fried dumplings; and cempedak (a type of jackfruit) fritters. A vegetarian restaurant is also available here.
Kali Mati Alley is a good place to treat yourself to a hearty breakfast. Another option is to cross a small bridge above a dried-out canal to Gloria Alley, which is right across from Petak Sembilan.
The alley is home to food stalls serving distinctively Chinese dishes, such as nasi campur, bektim/sekba, chicken noodle soup, and chicken broth-infused rice.
Kopi Es Tak Kie is the alley’s most-famed eatery, with its classic wooden chairs dating back to 1927.
You can order your food from the several stalls located just outside the eatery, and enjoy your meal with a cup of the restaurant's well-known mixed local coffee. The décor includes framed photographs on the wall depicting scenes from Jakarta's past.
Glodok is a good place to simply explore and observe the everyday activities going on. Watch, for example, how a kuo tieh dumpling is assembled by at least three people, or take in the dazzling decorations in the Chinese wedding supplies stores.
A few characters you are likely to encounter now and again in the area are the men selling remote controls and the ladies selling
crackers. Smile and raise your right palm as a "no, thank you" sign if you are not interested in their wares.
The increasingly hot weather is a good excuse to find a more comfortable shopping spot.
Take a short walk to the Chandra Building Shopping Center on Jl. Pancoran where stores and sidewalk vendors display more distinctively Chinese goods. These include clothing, dried sweets, souveniers and jewelry.
The building’s almost-deserted upper floor houses traditional health practitioners, such as chiropractors, and a feng shui fortune teller.
The building has a food court with lots of Chinese dishes to choose from, ranging from fried duck, dim sum, to seafood.
Glodok is a popular destination to buy electronics, computers, game consoles, digital cameras, and audio and music equipment.
The best places for electronics are the Glodok Plaza, Orion Plaza, Plaza Pinangsia and Harco Glodok.
The weather outside is usually cooler at this hour, and it is a good time to visit at least one of the five temples in Chinatown.
Jin De Yuan or Wihara Dharma Bakti on Jl. Kemenangan III is one of the most popular temples for tourists. Built in 1650, the entrance is narrow but inside it is quite spacious and filled with worshippers, mammoth red candles and white smoke from burning joss sticks and papers.
Toa Se Bio or Vihara Dharma Jaya is located on the same street. This smaller and quieter temple was originally built in 1714 and
restored in 1751.
Another interesting historic building in the area is St. Maria de Fatima Catholic Church. It used to be a Chinese trader's house and a temple but was transformed into a church in 1954.
Directly in front of the Toa Se Bio Temple, the famous Nasi Ulam Misdjaya opens its stall at 5 p.m.
This stall offers fragrant, sweet rice with various choices of side dishes, such as thin rice noodles, beef jerky, peanut sauce, crackers and omelettes.
An optional desert is rujak, which is the refreshing Indonesian fruit salad made from an assortment of tropical fruit with palm sugar and chili sauce.
- Glodok can be reached on Transjakarta Corridor 1 (Kota-Blok M). Alight at Glodok station.
- If you're driving, you can park at Pasar Glodok and walk a short distance to Petak Sembilan.
- Near Glodok is the Old Town (Kota Tua), which has a number of historic buildings as well as museums including the Jakarta History Museum, Puppet Museum, Fine Arts and Ceramics Museum, Textile Museum, Bank Indonesia Museum and Bank Mandiri Museum.