Glodok (草埔), a name that may not be unfamiliar to the people of Jakarta. Glodok is a Chinatown located in West Jakarta, close to Kota Tua Jakarta. As the center of the Chinese community in Jakarta, this area offers a rich cultural experience.
During my visit to Glodok, my colleague Julian Joseph Malwi and I were greeted by a paifang, a traditional Chinese entrance gate that signified our entry into the Glodok Chinatown. Upon entering, we could see a bustling crowd of people, both selling their wares and shopping.
There were a wide variety of goods being sold in Glodok. Along Jalan Pancoran, numerous shops offered traditional Chinese medicines, religious artifacts for Buddhist and Confucian worship, and various Chinese trinkets.
At that moment, the sun was directly overhead, the perfect time to quench our thirst. We decided to dine at a halal Betawi restaurant called Soto Betawi Nyonya Afung. This restaurant served Soto Betawi with a unique broth made from milk, which complemented the various choices of beef available, including meat, tendons, and lungs.
The presence of a Betawi restaurant run by Chinese Indonesians in the heart of Chinatown enriched the diversity of cuisine in the area, showcasing the cultural blend that colors different corners of Jakarta. Indeed, even in a Chinatown, we still found a wide variety of dining options.
Moving on from our culinary adventure, shopping for goods near Petak Enam was one of our choices while in Glodok. We purchased items ranging from bracelets to phone chargers. Afterward, we strolled down Jalan Kemenangan Raya, a smaller street branching off the main Chinatown thoroughfare.
We observed various activities of the Glodok community in Jalan Kemenangan Raya, from chess games and conversations to the unexpected sight of sea cucumber vendors, something we hadn't anticipated in a Chinatown. Our visit concluded with the purchase of lou hanguo tea near the paifang, which would serve as our souvenir from Glodok.
This visit provided us with a vivid insight into the presence of the Chinese community in Jakarta, a community that has been an integral part of the city's history since the colonial era of Dutch East Indies. Their presence is a seamless thread woven into the tapestry of Jakarta's history and Indonesia's history.
*This article is written from a first-person perspective and is based on the author's personal experiences.