Cikini is a little part of Menteng which is dear to my heart in many ways, mainly as I have fond memories of meals eaten in the district’s restaurants and of the cultural events held at the famous Taman Ismail Marzuki (TIM) arts center. Seemingly oblivious to the frantic pace of development taking place in Jakarta, where new buildings are sprouting up all over the place, Cikini remains stuck in the past. And hurrah for that!
On the main high street there is the post office - an old Dutch building, tatty as a student’s sofa and garishly painted in orange trim:
Nearby are some good but expensive restaurants and also some old-time coffee shops – the best-known being Bakoel Koffie - that are a whole lot better than Starbucks.
Further up the street is TIM. This old and nostalgic arts center still comes up with some wonderful cultural treats, often poorly publicized however, so you have to closely monitor their website to see what is going on. The second-hand bookshop has seen better days but if you are lucky you may find a gem. Catch a film at Cinema 21, and for something a little more outer-worldly, visit the planetarium.
Opposite TIM is a good restaurant which serves traditional Indonesian cuisine using mostly organic ingredients called Warung Daun.
Turning left along the Raden Saleh high street there are some good Arabic restaurants - like Al-Jazeerah – and an old but magnificent hospital, Rumah Sakit Cikini.
Yep, Cikini lives in the past. And long may it do so!