Hendi, a 27-year-old father, kept a watchful eye on his children as he sipped coconut water near Setu Babakan Lake in South Jakarta in the Betawi Cultural Village, Jagakarsa district.
The young ones were waiting eagerly nearby for a food vendor to prepare rujak tumbuk (spicy fruit salad).
Sitting on a wooden bench across from his wife, who was finishing a bowl of noodles, Hendi appeared quite relaxed amid the calm surroundings.
“I take my family here almost every week, ,” Hendi, a resident of nearby Pasar Minggu sub-district, said adding that the place was perfect for a family trip thanks to the affordable traditional food.
Tari, Hendi’s wife, recalls a particular memory of the Cultural Village.
“Before I was married, I often came here with my friends. It was here I met Hendi for the first time,” she said with a smile.
The Betawi Cultural Village, which covers 289 hectares of land, is only five kilometers away from the Ragunan Zoo. The quiet neighborhood is a relieving contrast to Jakarta’s usual clamor.
The area offers numerous forms of cultural performances and attractions, such as traditional music, arts, dance and theater.
On Friday nights, it also hosts traditional Betawi weddings, circumcision ceremonies, aqiqah (infant haircut ritual) and pencak silat (Betawi martial arts).
Water activities in Setu Babakan Late or the nearby Setu Mangga Bolong include fishing, jet skiing and canoeing.
As Hendi pointed out, the Cultural Village is famous for its famous array Betawi traditional cuisine, such as kerak telor (savory egg crust pancakes), toge goreng (fried bean sprouts with fermented bean sauce), laksa Betawi (coconut milk soup with vermicelli), soto mie (noodles with rich broth) and gado-gado (vegetables with peanut sauce).
Betawi art performances are held on Sundays from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m, and the Cultural Village is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The South Jakarta mayoralty plans to revitalize a 2.5-hectare islet, located in the middle of Setu Babakan reservoir, to be the setting for Kampung Betawi (Betawi village) that will accommodate Betawi houses, cuisine and cultural performances.
Getek (bamboo-rafts) will take visitors to the islet.
The local administration is also looking to build a Betawi Cultural Miniature Park next to the entrance of Setu Babakan reservoir.
Setu Babakan was set up in 2000 as the Betawi Cultural Village under Gubernatorial Decree No. 92.
The program offers incentives to local residents to renovate their homes, but many decorated their houses using distinctively Betawi elements voluntarily.
Examples of these elements are the gigi balang (grasshopper teeth) carvings for the roof fascia and the framed front terrace known as langkan.
How to get there
Located at Srengseng Sawah sub-village in Jagakarsa district, South Jakarta, Setu Babakan is about 60 minutes, by taxi, from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport and about 45 minutes from the city center.
Or you can take a Kopaja 616 bus, heading from Blok M to Cimpedak, at Pasar Minggu terminal and get off right in front of the gate.
Entering the area is free of charge. Motorcycle or car parking ranges from Rp 2,000 to Rp 5,000.