The Chinatown Of Glodok, Jakarta

Throughout history, Chinatown has always been dubbed as a hub of activity, a pillar of the economy, and a key element in each city. Situated in the district of Taman Sari in West Jakarta, in the capital city of Indonesia, Glodok is touted as the largest Chinatown region in the country and one of the largest in the world. This section of The Old Batavia City is home to many people of Chinese descent and has been known as Chinatown or Pecinan since the Dutch Colonial Era. In modern times, Glodok is best known as the electronic trading center of Jakarta.

Strolling through the streets, visitors to the area can revel in the rich history encased in this city within a city. Follow a trail of historical buildings, ancient temples and traditional Chinese architecture. Learn, observe, and go shopping along the way. The name Glodok comes from the Sundanese word “Golodog,” which means‘the entrance to a house,’ as Sunda Kelapa, (now Jakarta,) was once the gateway to the ancient Sunda Kingdom.

Vihara Tanda Bhakti, Jalan Kemenangan 3
Vihara Tanda Bhakti, Jalan Kemenangan 3 (Source : liputan6.com)

During Colonial times, commercial opportunities created by the Dutch attracted thousands of people from areas of what is now Indonesia, who flocked towards the city. This also included an enormous influx of immigrants from China who were contracted as skilled artisans, sugar mill workers and shopkeepers. With the number of Chinese risiing rapidly, the Dutch colonial government and locals began to feel threatened by their number.

When in 1720, global sugar prices were reduced by 50% due to increased competition and export from the West Indies, Dutch lords then set a standard price for sugar which caused unrest amongst Chinese sugar merchants. On October 7, 1740, hundreds of ethnic Chinese, mainly from the sugar trade, rose up against the Dutch, killing 50 soldiers. On October 9, 1740, the tragedy now known as Geger Pacinan struck. Rumors of a further uprising caused Dutch soldiers to open fire on Chinese homes where nearly 10,000 ethnic Chinese were massacred. The following year, the remaining Chinese were settled outside Batavia’s city walls, in the area now known as Glodok.

ACTIVITIES

As a center for electronic trade, Glodok is well known for offering a wide range of electronic gadgets and devices for competitive and negotiable prices. Most goods sold in the stores are imported from Singapore, China, Japan Europe and America. These can be purchased in Pasar Glodok (Glodok Market) or Glodok Electronic Center.

Petak Sembilan Market
Petak Sembilan Market (Source : detik.com)

Pasar Petak Sembilan offers a more traditional feel, displaying a wide variety of products including food, clothing items and day to day needs. Some stranger items can also be found, such as turtles which are highly sought after for use in Ceremonial Prayers. Traditional Chinese ornaments and paraphernalia also add to the interest and excitement of the market.

In the traditional market, the typical Chinese culinary delights are definitely worth a try. Gang Kalimati is a small road lined with small food stores selling a range of oriental foods and snacks. Sweets and Moon Cakes can also be purchased here, making the street a very popular spot for those in need of gifts and treats for the Lunar New Year.

As the capital city of Indonesia, Jakarta offers a myriad of choices of accommodation, easily adjustable to suit your needs, desires and budget. Here are a few hotels located in the Glodok area.

Mercure Jakarta Kota is located in Chinatown, 5 minutes walk to the Glodok Electronic Mall and Batavia. Smoking and non-smoking rooms are available, each complete with a comfortable bed, bathroom with bathtub, International TV, safety deposit box and security alarm system. Function rooms and a Ballroom are available for your meetings, gatherings and parties.

Address: Jl. Hayam Wuruk No. 123, JAKARTA

The Plaza Hotel Glodok is located on the 3rd floor of Glodok Plaza in the heart of the Glodok Shopping District. Rooms are complete with showers with hot and cold water as well as WiFi access.

Address: Glodok Plaza Lantai 3, Jl. Pinangsia Raya No. 1, West Jakarta

Best Western Mangga Dua Hotel and Residence is a newly completed 4-star hotel located within the largest shopping district in Southeast Asia. Hotel facilities include a swimming pool, meeting room, restaurant, high-speed internet, room service and complimentary breakfast.

Address: Jl. Mangga Dua Abad No. 111, Jakarta, 10730

Almost anything can be found in the busy Petak Sembilan Market. Groceries, medicine, textiles and food are just a few of the things found in the stalls that line these strikingly Chinese-looking streets. Heavy traffic flow along these roads is a fair indication of the activity of the area.

Amidst the rows of Petak Sembilan’s stores and shop houses, you will come across a small alley. Follow this narrow corridor which opens out to a neat row of typical Chinese buildings. These antique houses are decorated with unique ornaments and are said to belong to the Chinese Tobacco Merchants. A plaque inscribed with the word “Vervonding” is fastened to the wall of the house. Not far from this house is yet another odd and ancient house. On the roof of this house is something that looks like a jar. According to the Chinese belief of Feng Shui, this jar is believed to ward off bad things that may strike due to the strange location of the house.

From the market’s outskirts, continue your adventure through the Glodok Chinatown. Some prefer to start their “tour” from the Old City of Batavia (Kota Tua) or Asemka Market, often called the entrance to this region. Ultimately, where you start does not matter too much. When exploring this area, travelling by foot is a wise choice.

The beautiful antique structures that comprise Chinatown are not simply for the eyes alone, but stand as fully functioning residential homes as well as commercial shops. Three historic monasteries are also among the ancient structures found in the area, including the Vihara Tanda Bhakti temple, also known as the Jin De Yuan temple, which has stood for several centuries. Built in 1650, a yellow-colored iron plaque marks Vihara Tanda Bhakti as the city’s first monastery. The Temple’s prominent colors of red and gold lend to its majestic appearance. Pillars support a high roof at the entrance upon which a fearsome dragon perches. The main room of the temple’s interior is also dominated by the color red with intricately carved reliefs engraved along the inside walls.

On Jalan Kemenangan III, the same road as Vihara Tanda Bhakti, is the Vihara Dharma Jaya Temple. Also painted with bright red, this place of prayer is adorned with two fierce dragon serpents upon its roof. Beautiful birds rest on each corner of the roof, while a lotus flower crowns the temple at its peak. In this temple’s main hall, red lanterns hang from the ceiling and small candles neatly line the areas of worship.

Not far from Vihara Dharma Jaya, the Church of St Maria de Fatima adopts a similar oriental style of architecture. This church was once the residence of the Captain of the Chinese in Batavia.

In addition to those mentioned above, several other historical buildings remain to be discovered and explored. These include Toko Obat Lay an Tong, Merchant Homes, Toko Gloria and others.

GET THERE

Getting to Glodok Chinatown is fairly easy. Located not far from Stasiun Jakarta Kota, visitors may either take a taxi or ojek (motorbike taxi) or try public transportation such as the Trans Jakarta Bus, Metro mini,or 3-wheeled Bajaj.

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