Menteng is the most prestigious residential area in Jakarta; a notable haven for Indonesia’s political elite and foreign diplomats. Suharto’s family still have a gaff here.
Menteng is also probably the greenest and leafiest area of Jakarta and there are a number of parks within fairly close walking distance including Taman Lawang - a nighttime hangout for Jakarta’s transvestites (referred to as banci in local parlance) – and Taman Menteng – a newly-established rectangular-shaped park which replaced an old and dilapidated football stadium.
Taman Menteng is very small as parks go and you’ll be very disappointed if you compare it to a large city park like Central Park in New York or Hyde Park in London.
Even so, if you need a spot of fresh(ish) air or a place for a potential romantic or illicit rendezvous then Taman Menteng makes a good choice.
The park’s most notable features are two glasshouses, which strangely enough don’t seem to be used for anything at all.
The park also used to have a statue of US President Barack Obama (who once lived in Menteng as a kid with his mother Ann Dunham and stepfather Lolo Soetoro) but it was quickly removed after Indonesian nationalists questioned the wisdom of having a statue of a foreign politician in an Indonesian park.
There are a number of decent restaurants on Menteng’s main high street and which are only a short walk from the park. Sate Senayan serve good Indonesian grub, Gandy’s Steak House do juicy steaks, and if you are seeking a blast from the past, the venerable Miranda Restaurant will take you back to the 1970s. Swell!