I rarely wear knickers so buying skimpies in Jakarta hasn’t as yet posed a problem. Unfortunately, though I may get away with going commando, I cannot for health and safety reasons abandon my büstenhalter. Since living here, my bosoms have grown from a trim DD to a whopping 36 F and still my cups spilleth over. The truth of the matter is, that after two years of high living and little exercise, I have morphed into a porker. If in the early days I thought trying to buy a bottle of wine was something of a challenge then I was wrong, because nothing has come even close to the challenge of finding myself a new set of F cups.
One of the first things that you will notice when you arrive in Indonesia is that most of the women are not just stunningly beautiful, but they are also extremely petit-o. I repeat, Petit-O.
Obviously shops in Indonesia cater for women of Asian proportions, which basically means miniscule sizes of everything, even shoes. I take a modest size 6 shoe (European 39) but I may as well have Big Foot tattooed on my forehead. This makes shopping for Friesian heifers such as myself, something of a challenge. Even large chains such as Mango and Zara have nothing larger than a UK size 12. If you are a fatty then you are likely to have more joy shopping in markets such as the ones that I shall be mentioning shortly. The clothes are also much cheaper.
Before I get back to bras, I want to tell you about the time that I was out shopping with a girlfriend a few months back. We were looking at long tops (fat covering kaftans) and hanging on the rail in front of us were all sizes XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL, XXXL. We hummed and hah’d about how many ‘X’s we needed despite having been given a surly once over by a sales assistant who could hardly wait to spit out the words ‘JUM-BO size’ (Indonesians are not backwards in coming forwards when it comes to matters of personal appearance) We chose identical tops the only exception being the amount of XX’s printed onto the label. Mo opted for the XXL but because of my rack I plumped for the XXXL. Unfortunately I discovered that this additional X meant that I had to cough up an extra 50,000 rp more. ‘It’s because you are Jumbo size Mister’ the cashier told me as she rang it through and stuffed it unceremoniously into a bag. Feeling the need to elaborate further, she then proceeded to rub more salt into the wound by adding ‘Extra material needed’ It was all I could do not to slap her in the face.
I left a message on Marks & Spencers Indonesia facebook page last week. My question was ‘What is the largest cup size for bras that you stock at your Plaza Indonesia store, please?’ This morning they sent me this reply…..
Marks & Spencer Indonesia Hi Ms Lottie, we have range until 38D – 40D in Plaza Indonesia, but it only came in very limited stock. You can always tell us when will you want to go get the bra at Plaza Indonesia, so we can prepare it for you first thank you and have a nice day!
For anyone moving here with ample boobage, my advice is to stock up on new bras before you arrive. After months of searching, I’ve still not found anywhere apart from M&S that stocks larger bra sizes. They sell clothes and shoes in all the UK sizes, the only difference being that fashion wise, they look like they may be rejects from the 1970’s. Undoubtedly the best thing about M&S in Jakarta is that they stock all varieties of Percy Pig sweets, which goes some way to consoling me when I can’t find a bra or anything to wear.
Big girl’s knickers and blouses can be found at M&S and in most of the markets. AMBASSADOR MALL (on JL Professor Dr.Satrio 12940 open 10am-10pm) is excellent and also the vast PASAR MANGGA DUA (JL Mangga Dua. Jakarta 11110) Hours of fun can be had at both.
CURL UP AND DYE: In my youth I had very dark brown shiny hair. My lustrous tresses earned me the family nickname of Velvet, after a glossy coated chocolate brown Labrador that lived in our village. On discovering grey hairs in my 30’s, I reached for the bleach and I’ve been a bottle blonde ever since. It is however, very high maintenance. If I don’t want to end up looking like a skunk, I need to get my roots seen to every 8 weeks. The other problem is that having ‘blonde’ hair in a country where the native population has jet black hair it can be hard finding a hairdresser who is an expert in highlights. I’ve heard a few horror stories from friends here, most notably Amit, whose story about her hairdresser using foils that had previously been used for cooking satay had me in stitches. By sheer good fortune I found the person that I was looking for at Toni & Guy in Jakarta. Anto is not only an ace with peroxide; he’s also pretty nifty with a pair of scissors (TONI & GUY LEVEL 2, UNIT EX PLAZA INDONESIA 14350 telephone +62 21 3989 9851)
BACK, SACK AND CRACK: Should you be desirest, you can have every single part of your body waxed at BROWHAUS (Ministry of Waxing) LEVEL 2, UNIT EX, PLAZA INDONESIA telephone (021) 2992-3538/36) conveniently situated just a minutes walk away from Toni & Guy. They are always angling to whip off my moustache but I stick to just eyebrows and it costs 95,000 rp. My first foray out in Jakarta to get my eyebrows seen too was a beauty salon in PERJATAN VILLAGE MALL, which was an unmitigated disaster. The girl totally misunderstood what I meant and shaved them all off. I’d hate to think that this might happen to you, which is why I strongly recommend that you visit Browhaus for all of your waxing requirements.
I’ve just scrapped a huge paragraph about health issues. It was rather preachy and extraordinarily dull. It also smacked of the bossy woman who I met when I first came here who took great delight in regaling me with horror stories about worms. She put the fear of God into me and gave me sleepless nights after recounting some hideous tale of an expat woman who had such a huge worm growing inside her that it had to be surgically removed. I have no intention of alarming you, I’m sure that you’re already aware of Dengue fever, typhoid and the rest. I’m sorry to say that all of these illnesses are a problem in Jakarta but there are measures that you can take to prevent them, mosquito spray, NEVER drinking tap water and washing your hands all help. I’ve had my fair share of the shits, but unlike a lot of other expats, I’ve not yet succumbed to either Dengue or Typhoid (or worms just in case you were wondering)
NICOTINE: People smoke everywhere in Indonesia. Cigarettes are very cheap and readily available everywhere. You can even buy them when you are sat in your car as men and boys walk up and down through the traffic selling them as well as snacks and drinks. What is not available is Nicotine gum or NRT. For no amount of love nor money will you be able to buy your fix of Nicorette or similar. The nearest place that I know of that you can replenish your stocks is Singapore. The photo that I’d most like to leave you with but I can’t (because I was too chicken to ask) is of the man on the beach in Bali playing a game of cards with his friends. Nothing unusual about that except that he had 4 clothes pegs pinned to one ear and 4 to the other. I’m guessing that it was his genius attempt at DIY acupuncture. Maybe I should give it a go?