Posts Tagged ‘president of indonesia’

Jakarta Day 2: Sunday, July 16, 2017

President-Joko-Widodo with hat

President Joko Widodo of Indonesia. I have to get me one of those hats!

After our batik class at the Museum Tekstil Jakarta, we boarded the Whitehorse bus and drove to the Grand Mall of Indonesia, the largest shopping mall in the country. I’ll talk in another post about my feelings about why shopping malls are popular here, but suffice it to say it is huge and contains many western style shops. It is divided into two large sections with a roadway passing between and walkways over the road. We got off the bus, went through a normal security checkpoint (very common here – all hotels have them when you enter) and went into the lobby of the East Mall.

We immediately ran into a large crowd gathered around someone near the far wall who was moving slowly along. Everyone had cell phones out and were trying to take photos. I asked a blonde American lady standing nearby who the person was, and she didn’t know. It must be some local celebrity, I thought, to gather such as crowd. Finally, an Indonesian person told me who it was: “Jokowi, Jokowi!”

Doug with Pres

One of the TGC teachers, Doug, with President Joko Widodo of Indonesia.

It took a bit longer to realize that this is their nickname for Joko Widodo, the President of Indonesia. He had simply dropped by the mall to say hello and shake hands. No grand announcements or press event, no media circus unless you count countless cell-phone recordings, just a not-so-quick stroll through the mall to meet the people. Someone said he does this fairly often.

Matt and Jen with Pres

Matt and Jennifer with President Joko Widodo of Indonesia. I didn’t want to press my way into the crowd, so my own photos didn’t turn out very well.

This was amazing. Can you imagine Pres. Trump just dropping by a local shopping center to shake hands? Everything our president does is orchestrated months in advance with a team of Secret Security agents making arrangements for every detail long before. There can be no “dropping by” anywhere. This is the fourth most populous country in the world, after China, India, and the United States. Over 275 million people that he leads. And he only had a thin phalanx of security guards in black uniforms and a few mall cops (which must have been scared to death by the sudden responsibility). He was shaking hands and posing for selfies, working his way slowly around the ground floor and out the other side. The mall entrance had no more than the usual level of security check.

Escalator layers

Layers in the Grand Mall of Jakarta.

Several of our teachers seized the opportunity, and being larger than most Indonesians, managed to push their way forward through the crowd and even got their photos taken with Pres. Jokowi. It made Dewi very jealous. I am including the photos here.

We were supposed to get our own supper while at the mall. I used the money I borrowed from Nikki because I haven’t had the chance to change the U.S. cash that I brought. I carry it in the leg pouch that Gayla (my sister) loaned me. The exchange rate here is crazy – about 13,000 rupiah per U.S. dollar. That’s a lot of zeros. They went through a major devaluation and inflation period in the late 1990s, and it resulted in long-time president Soeharto stepping aside. This led, finally, to the democratic election of new presidents, of which Jokowi is the most recent. It will be a challenge to figure out the equivalent U.S. values of things and not have “sticker shock” when a drink of juice costs over 10,000 rupiah.

Me in mall

David Black at the top of the Grand Mall of Jakarta overlooking the city.

I bought some Minute Maid juice in a supermarket downstairs – I wasn’t hungry for supper. I wanted to see just how big this mall was, so I worked my way up to the top along with Jennifer and Matt. We found some windows looking out and a great view of part of Jakarta with colorful houses and tall buildings clustered in no apparent order or pattern. I took some panoramic shots. I am including one here, as well as photos looking down into the mall.

Jakarta panorama

A panorama of part of Jakarta from the top of the Grand Mall.

On the way back to the lobby, I stopped by a chocolate store to sample their products. They had nibs and other samples that were excellent, and claim to be a sustainable production. I hope to see cacao plantations and chocolate production on my five-day extension in Yogyakarta and Bali.

Cokelat store

Chocolate (cokelat) store in the Grand Mall of Jakarta.

We gathered in the lobby and got back on the bus outside, then worked our way back to the hotel. On the way, I took photos of the bougainvillea with pink, magenta, purple, white, and salmon/orange blossoms along the road, some food stalls selling bakso (meatball soup), which was made famous by being a food that President Obama liked on his visit here, and the wild power lines stretched all over the place, an electrician’s nightmare. I thought of the infrastructure challenges facing a rapidly developing nation, and how Jokowi’s leadership and popularity are changing the face of Indonesia as it joins the ranks of major nations on Earth. I can certainly see why he is popular.

Food stands

Food stalls near the Grand Mall of Jakarta. You see these all over the city, including mobile food carts (like the one in the middle).

Outside Le Meridien

Back at the Le Meridien Hotel in Jakarta after a busy day.

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