Jakarta Tales

Fifteen Primary 5 pupils enjoy a five-day adventure looking up friends who visited them in Singapore

1/23/2019 10:29:21 PM
written By : Sriya Srinivasan Print

It all started when pupils from Santa Laurensia School (Jakarta) came and spent precious, quality time with us Primary 5 students of Bukit Timah Primary School. I was lucky enough to be chosen to be a buddy of a girl named Mikkelle. She was in Grade 5, too, and came to my school for three days. She participated in our class activities and during recess we got to know more about each other, including our likes and dislikes. It was a memorable time for me.

A few months later, we were informed about an immersion trip to Indonesia. My friends and I were very excited. For, besides taking in various sights and sampling the local food, we would get to meet the students of Santa Laurensia again. All the students in the class received a consent form that had to be signed by our parents. But not everyone could go. We had to appear for an interview first. And I was one of the lucky few to be selected! 

Soon the day came when I had to bid farewell to my family. I had a roller coaster of emotions – happy to be making the trip but sad to leave home for five days. I was anxious as well as excited. When I reached the airport, my group had already arrived. We checked in and proceeded to our gate. We took a final group photo with our parents before passing through immigration.  Once we reached the boarding gate, we sat patiently for the announcement. We used the time to fill our landing cards. Since everyone wanted to sit next to their friends, we swapped seats. “Vroom” the engines roared and we were in the air on our way to Jakarta. I started watching Hotel Transylvania 3, but the journey was so short that I could not finish it. 

After collecting our luggage and exiting the Soekarno-Hatta airport, we boarded a waiting white bus that took us to lunch. At Gumati Café we were served a sumptuous spread of food. Being a vegetarian, I was not disappointed as I got fried rice, noodles, soup with tofu, lotus stem and greens, and fruits. My friends, however, feasted on some delicious seafood and meat dishes.

BOGOR BOTANICAL GARDEN

Once we filled our bellies, we proceeded to visit the Bogor Botanical Garden. Unfortunately, it was raining, so we could not enter the premises, as there was the danger of falling trees. Some of them were 200 to 300 years old. Luckily, the rain abated and we were able to go in. 

The botanical garden was founded in 1817 by the Dutch East India Company and is one of the oldest in Southeast Asia. It contains 13,983 different kinds of trees and plants of various origins. The location of the garden is such that it rains almost every day, even during the dry season.

What amazed me and my friends were the giant lily pads that can hold a baby that weighs 3 kg. Jakarta is not like Singapore. It can take as long as three to four hours to go from one place to another. Finally, we arrived at the hotel to rest and catch some sleep.

SANTA LAURENSIA SCHOOL

Our carefully planned itinerary allowed us to spend two mornings at Santa Laurensia School. There we went after breakfast the morning after we arrived in Jakarta. We received a grand welcome at the school, decked out in banners and decorations. We participated in the Innovation Day opening and met our Grade 5 buddies. The students who had come to Singapore had progressed to Grade 6, so we made new friends. I was paired with Rachel, a pleasant and kind ethic Chinese girl. We were given a tour of the school and saw the classrooms as well. We spent a few hours there, and then proceeded to Living World – Pendopo (a home living and entertainment mall) for craft activity and a visit to the art gallery. We cut out pictures from tissues and made attractive decorations.  We were accompanied by a teacher from the school who assured us the prices there were reasonable, so we bought souvenirs for our families and friends.

The next day, we visited the school one last time. That day, we had a ceramics lesson, where I learnt to make a fish, which turned out very well. The students organised a farewell performance and I also got a chance to meet my friend (Mikeal) who had visited our school. The school treated us to lunch, which we loved, before bidding us goodbye.

MINIATURE PARK 

The Taman Mini Indonesia Indah (Beautiful Indonesia in Miniature Park) showcases the diverse culture of Indonesia. There are various pavilions where we can see traditional clothing, architecture, dances and culture. What I enjoyed most was looking at models of the different kinds of houses found in the country. From intricately designed doors to pottery and vessels, everything looked beautiful. We were also taught about Indonesian marriage traditions, shown the room where the bride was kept and informed about some of the challenges a groom had to face such as climbing a wall to prove his valour and win his bride.  Here I realised how beautiful Indonesia was.

KIDZANIA JAKARTA

All of us 15 students on the trip had visited Kidzania Singapore and knew what to expect. Nevertheless, we all looked forward to an afternoon at Kidzania Jakarta. This, we were told, was the first to be opened in Southeast Asia and was quite large. It being a weekday, the indoor theme park was not crowded and we were able to try our hands at the things people in various professions do. Some of my friends and I tried being bakers, archaeologists and sales persons. We also had first-hand experience of an earthquake, common in Indonesia, at the Earthquake Survival Institute there. It was quite frightening.

MEKARSARI FRUIT AND RECREATION PARK 

Living in a smart city like Singapore, we do not often get to experience rural life. The Merkasari Fruit and Recreation Park gave us that opportunity. It seemed as if we were transported to a village. We washed buffaloes lazing in the water, caught fish from a muddy pond, planted paddy rice and even painted bamboo hats. We also enjoyed a session at the fish spa where tiny fish came and nibbled at the skin of our feet. The ticklish sensation scared some of my friends. It was fun to play around in the mud and soil our clothes. After cleaning up, we boarded a recreational tram to enjoy the scenery of various fruit gardens.

WAYANG MUSEUM & SUNDA KELAPA HARBOUR

Our five-day trip had almost come to an end. But we had two more places to see. The Wayang Museum is dedicated to Javan wayang puppetry. Wayang is a traditional shadow puppet show found in Indonesia. I really enjoyed seeing different kinds of puppets, and it reminded me of a show I saw in Bali. 

We also visited the Sunda Kelapa Harbour, the old port of Jakarta. “Sunda Kelapa” in Sundanese means Coconut of Sunda. It was the main port of the Hindu Sunda Kingdom of Pajajaran. Nowadays, we can see some traditional boats and yachts there, a place which played a significant role in the city’s development.  

The trip to Jakarta with my classmates was truly memorable. We had a whale of a time. And everyone agreed that the food of Indonesia was simply superb. We ate local food at many restaurants and did not for once miss fast food. While most of my friends binged on seafood and meat dishes, the unanimous winner was a fried tofu dish that we all enjoyed thoroughly.

Those five days were so enriching that I will remember them all my life. While we were sad that the trip had come to an end, we were happy to be back with our families who were waiting eagerly to receive us at the airport. 

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