Before we came to Jakarta we were warned by my mother-in-law not to brush with the tap water because when she was in Jakarta in the 90’s she brushed her teeth with tap and got amoeba! To think that she was staying in the best hotel in Indonesia then. Note that she drank only bottled mineral water but brushed with the tap (never swallowed).
I am not sure how much the water systems here has improved since then. But even in hotels, we brush our teeth with bottled mineral water. The only exceptions are when we are in a very high-end hotel and they confirm that they have a water purifying system for their tap and it is safe to use for brushing. Even then, they usually supply bottled water in the toilets for brushing.
We live in an old building and the tap is quite dirty, as shown by the following:
- When the washing machine water level is full, it is not clear – a bit brown actually. The water hose to the machine is now opaque brown from all the particles stuck onto it. Most people have their whites done in the laundry shop here – but they don’t charge by the Kilogram here, they charge per piece. Ouch.
- When we shower and water gets in our eyes, it REALLY hurts/stings our eyes.
- The bathtub floor by the drain is stained brown.
- My skin was breaking out so I had to start washing with mineral water. Expensive right? But it’s cheaper than what I had to pay the dermatologist to fix my skin.
So our solution was to buy a water purifying system for our bathroom sink. It takes out the smell and particles. Good enough for brushing but still not good enough for drinking.
After 6 months of using it, the filter was due for replacement. IT WAS NOT A PRETTY SIGHT.
I assume that the following are also related to how limited the supply of clean water is here in Jakarta and how expensive it is to clean water.
- Water is never free here. Unlike in Manila where one can just ask for a glass of water in a restaurant and expect to be given a glass of purified water, here you have to pay for mineral water because, if you ask for a glass, you will be given the dreaded tap water.
- Ice is hard to find. One cannot just buy it in a convenience store, like any Mini-stop in Manila. That’s the thing with parties, one has to make sure to find ice ahead of time.
- In restos avoid asking for your drinks in ice, or at least ask for the ice separately so that you can check it before you pour your drink in. I attended a party catered by Hotel Mulia and I saw that some of the ice was dirty (ewwwww!) and that’s Hotel Mulia already!
TIP FOR ANYONE MOVING TO JAKARTA: Make sure that the apartment/house you are going to rent has a good water purifying system for the entire flat/house because this will resolve a lot of headaches like laundering whites, ruining your skin, cooking water, etc.