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We decided to make a trip to Jakarta to visit Amanda’s cousin on her father’s side, Manny and his family.  Manny is the GM at the beautiful Millennium Hotel.  When we arrived at the airport we were pleasantly surprised to see that Manny’s driver and another staff member picked us up by car, especially after much of our transport via public bus! This was just the start of the royal treatment that we would receive in Jakarta.  We arrived at Millennium Hotel in the evening where we met Manny, his wife Elaine and children Miguel and Mikaela for the first time.  We had a lovely time getting to know each other. When we arrived to their room (a five room suite at the hotel), they offered us our first glass of wine–good red wine–in a long time!  The spoiling continued the next morning when we awoke to room service for breakfast.

We were excited to finally have some time to relax so I worked on the blog and pictures, while Amanda did postcards. It was really nice to take a break from sightseeing and just relax with great people.  Miguel joined us after his dance practice and we went with Manny and Elaine to sightsee. I couldn’t believe that Miguel spoke Indonesian, Tagalog, Mandarin, and perfect English!  They took us to the National Monument (Monas) and by the presidential palace.  We went to see traditional Indonesian goods at a local mall.

At the Grand Mall of Indonesia, we tried Kopi Luwak for the first time, which we had been interested in trying for a long while.  In some places they call this civet coffee.  It has the distinction of being the most expensive coffee in the world because of the way that it is processed.  The wild beans are eaten by a small weasel-like animal who then excretes them, hence the moniker “poop coffee.”  The beans are then collected, cleaned, and brewed!  Each cup was about $10 and served in a gold plated cup with a golden spoon.  Definitely an interesting experience and the coffee was good, but I wouldn’t need it every day.

We also had a chance to visit a huge Islamic mosque – Istaqil.  With the exception of the Obamas and a few others, visitors aren’t normally allowed but Elaine’s driver was able to convince a guard to escort us in. With the ladies’s heads covered with scarves, we were allowed to take pictures from the upper levels, but we still weren’t allowed in the main area.

When we left, it was pouring rain and there was massive flooding in downtown Jakarta.  But we decided to still visit Taman-Mini, which has replicas of native housing from each of the various islands in Indonesia.  The park was actually closed but they let us walk around.  We also had a chance to visit the Indonesia Museum with displays of jewelry, native wedding attire for each island and various tools, furniture and wood carvings. The rain continued to pour down in sheets so our 30 minute drive home became 2 1/2 hours. To the point where some of the roads were starting to look like rivers!

That evening we had another excellent dinner courtesy of room service — one of our favorites, fried tempeh satay (a traditional soy product originally from Indonesia) with chicken and rice.  Mandy was happy to have another one of her favorites, dragonfruit (white flesh with black seeds and a similar taste to kiwi) for dessert.

Manny kindly showered us with lots of parting gifts.  We were in awe of the incredible generosity and hospitality that we received from the Mercados in Jakarta. And we felt truly grateful to get to know more family whose home was so open with love and warmth even though we had just met.

While Jakarta had been on our wish list to visit since we knew we would could meet more of Amanda’s extended family, the timing of our visit came upon the heels of great heartache. Manny’s father, Mando, sadly passed away unexpectedly a few weeks before our arrival.  We were very fortunate to meet Mando on our visit to the Philippines in March during a family reunion, where Mando’s last picture was taken in the family portrait.  While so much of Amanda’s family was grieving, she said she was proud to be a Cuyugan (family name of her paternal grandmother) as we witnessed how the love and support for one another kept the family strong.

Sadly, we said our goodbyes and headed to the airport for our next stop, Kuala Lumpur.

  • Beatrice Mitchi Portrait
  • Mercado and Brill Portrait
  • Funny shots while I set up my light
  • Funny shots while I set up my light
  • Look into the light!
  • Mercado family portrait
  • Setting up for Portraits
  • Lunch at the Millenium
  • J.Co Doughnuts
  • Taman-Mini
  • Masjid Istiqlal
  • Outside at Masjid Istiqlal
  • Elaine and Amanda at Masjid Istiqlal
  • Masjid Istiqlal
  • Insane Jakarta flooding
  • Mmm.. Coffee Lewak
  • Adam and Amanda at at Monas National Monument
  • Manny and Elaine at Monas National Monument

Posted: May 25, 2012

Author: Adam and Amanda

Category: Asia, Blog, Continents, Indonesia

+1 Comment
  1. Lynie Hitomi says:

    hi cuzzins, just now was able to start looking at your blog. thanks for sharing your world experiences with us. I’m glad you got to meet Manny, Elaine and family. Thank you very much for including an excerpt regarding Papa Mando. He was the oldest of our Cuyugan Clan, and was our beloved patriarch of the family. He was the one who taught us how important it was to be a close, tight knit family. I’m happy Mandy and you got to meet him and feel the love of our family! Take care and have fun!

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