From check-in to check-mate

On the very first day of the course, Jan. 2nd, Jason Benn and I set out from the hotel on a mission to see the real, uncensored Jakarta beyond the confines of our hotel. After slipping around a few walls and through a barbed wire fence, we found ourselves in a back ally full of small shops, pushcarts, and the sweet smell of open sewers.

Soon we happened upon a Indonesian man, not much older than ourselves, with a chess board laid out on a rickety old bench. I promptly challenged him to a match. The man spoke not a word of English; us not a word of Indonesian. Despite our language barrier, we had very little trouble communicating in the language of the game, a game I lost quite speedily.


Yesterday afternoon Sat and I went to the ambassador mall. The mall was very similar but smaller to ones I have seen in the states. The store employees were very kind and helpful. I brought a nice polo worth about $40 for 99,000 rupiah, which is the equivalent of $10. I could definitely get used to Indonesian prices.

The Indonesian Financial System and Btpn Bank

This afternoon, we were quite honored to learn more about the Indonesian Financial System and mass-market consumer retail banking.  First, Manggi Habir shared an articulate overview of the financial structure and dynamic trends since the 1998 Asian financial crisis.  Mr. Habir is currently an Independent Commissioner at Bank Danamon and Adira Insurance, and he is also Chairman of Danamon Peduli Foundation (a non-profit organization dedicated to providing community health programs in areas where Danamon operates).  Second, Jerry Ng, President and Director of Btpn Bank shared a case study on his bank to highlight the strategy and operational details of mass-market retail banking to small entrepreneurs.  Later in the evening, Mr. Ng graciously hosted a wonderful Indonesian-Chinese fusion dinner for our class.

Telecom Industry-complementary

Following Khanh’s discussion about telecom industry, I just want to add some more points that we discussed last night at the dinner.

1. Fierce competition – result of the lack of tracking methods.

 As in the U.S, the government uses SSN to locate people. However, in Indonesia, the “tracking” system is not established and people are free to go anywhere. Also, because of the unique geographical location of Indonesia, it is hard to track people’s presence and personal information. This situation leads to higher population mobility within the country. For telecom industry, it means that people could easily switch from one brand to another. They only need to ditch a number and buy a new one from another operator. The easiness of switching creates more competition.

Indonesian telecom industry

Last night was my 2nd night at the Ritz in Jakarta, and I must say it again – love the king size bed and the spacious bathroom with the connecting walk-in closet.

Breakfast yesterday morning was great – they had a New Year’s buffet in the grand ballroom. My roommate Nancy and I enjoyed our superb breakfast in the easy atmosphere, complimented by live piano and a soft baritone voice singing in the background. That was nice.

Tonight's Dinner

Hey everyone!

Tonight’s traditional Indonesian cuisine was so delicious. Much of the food that I have had so far up to this point was very Westernized so it was nice to taste traditional Indonesian flavors. So far I have experienced great food, great new friends, and a great city!


Quick introduction- I’m Manya, a second year at UVA, from Hyderabad, India.

I’m a little obsessed with names, their meanings and roots. So here you go: Jakarta is derived from the Old Javanese word “Jayakarta” which translates as “victorious deed”, “complete act”, or “complete victory” (courtesy: Wikipedia).

Jayakarta would have a similar translation in Hindi (the official language of India).

Recommended Places in Jakarta

Hey everyone!

I thought I’d share this short list of recommended places in Jakarta. It was given to me by a guy from Indonesia who was working in Doha, Qatar (where I had a horrendous 14 hour layover).  Hope you all find it useful!


  • Mall AbasadorCanoeing in Jakarta
  • Manora 2


  • Senayan/Plaza
  • Senayan


  • Dragon Fly
  • Red Square
  • X2

Disclaimer: I have no idea what any of these places are, just that they are “the best” haha.

See you all tonight!


Hey hey Greetings!

Hi Class,

Hope you are all doing well and arriving safely. Warm Greetings!

Several thoughts upon arrival:

1. This Hotel is so awesome! The Queen (or King?) size bed, huge window with beautiful sceneries combined with great breakfast food.Do not forget to check out the pool and jogging track!

2. Note the exchange rate!!  1USD=9000Indonesia Rupiah. Also, we do not need to pay the Arrival Visa fee at the airport anymore because we have applied and got approved already.

3. Some mainpoints about Mega Kuningan (international town park), the area we are in now: