My hometown Jakarta. After 3 years, I finally got the chance to visit her again. Had to spent 23 hr for a layover in Seoul, but it’s worth the wait. I had planned to do island hopping while I’m in Indonesia but alas… my sister’s wedding prep required me to stay put in Jakarta the whole time. What to do in a big metropolitan, then? The easiest way: go to the mall. Watch a movie, eat, play video games, internet cafes, window shoppings, people watching while sipping coffee, etc. Normally I go to this mall to do all these. But my 20 y.o. brother offered, “Don’t you want to check out the new malls here? We should!” Being bored to death with campus life, I sensed my brother Putra’s too willingly to go with me visiting malls.

“So, where are these new malls?”
“Well, it depends. You know Pondok Indah Mall (PIM), right? There’s PIM 2 just across the road, they’re connected together with a flyover bridge.”
No way. The PIM 1 is big already, why would they need to make another one very close to the original? Is PIM 2’s inside any different? Later I found out, there’s not much different at all. Boutiques, department stores, fast food centers, all the basics.

“OK, what’s the next one?”
“Senayan City. The biggest and the trendiest.”
“Uh-huh… really…”
Guess what? This supposedly the number one mall in Jakarta also is located within a walking distance from Plaza Senayan, my favorite one. What’s the big idea?

“Any other new mall that I should know of? One that wasn’t built so close to the other?”
“Plaza Semanggi. This one was built on that old government’s building -I couldn’t remember the name.”
“What’s so special about it?”
“It has a [dangdut?] club owned by a famous Indonesian dangdut singer.”
Like I care.

More action, less talk. I need to see these fancy schmancy new malls to satisfy my curiosity. Plus, I hate to judge before I even see it myself. So, off I went to PIM then cross the bridge to PIM 2. It’s interesting to see how they arrange some seatings on this enclosed and air-conditioned bridge to allow people to rest their feet after their shopping marathons. Personally, I wouldn’t care less with the new addition of PIM. No difference, nothing special, it’s just OK. Same goes for Plaza Semanggi.

Few days later. To the mighty Senayan City. First impression when I walked in: whoa… is this a mall or a hospital? What’s with the white? So… sterile. Huuuuuge, though. To the left: department stores; to the right: boutiques. Same old same old. Let’s see what’s on the higher floors? Hey… neat, a stiletto-like escalator! And it’s red! It connects the main floor to the second floor, skipping the first floor. Wow… this new mall is really tring to make a statement. The only thing that captured my attention was the movie theatre. It’s big, artsy, and with a pleasant ambiance. Rather expensive, but worth it.

Now, being a megapolitan itself, Jakarta has a chronic problem with traffic jam. Along comes these new malls, making it even worse. This is obvious that the absence of a regulation on shopping centers has sparked disorder in their development, for example: serious traffic congestion (also according to them). Later on, this posting also mentioned that City data shows that only 30 percent of visitors make a purchase at malls, while the majority 70 percent do not. Gee, I wonder why… Even though consumerism in Jakarta is high, not everybody could afford it, though. All of these high end boutiques (Prada, LV, Zara, etc) were rather empty. They have more salesgirls than customers. Besides, for some, going to a [new] mall is like going picnic. Often I saw families gathered around the huge water fountain and eat snack/meal brought from home. And most of the time, when I was or am in Jakarta, I go to a mall not because I have to buy something. Either just to spend an afternoon on a rainy day -movies, coffee shop, bookstore, etc. I’m pretty sure there are more than 7 malls -big and small- in Jakarta.

It’s hard already to find a park in the middle of Jakarta. With 20++ million population, Jakarta lacks of open and green spaces. Some stats: green areas now amount to less than 10 percent of the 650 square kilometers that make up the capital. Under the 2010 City Master Plan, green areas are to be expanded to 13.94 percent, but no concrete efforts have been made to implement the plan.Yet they want to build more malls? C’mon

Too Many Malls In Jakarta?

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