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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Selamat Datang Monument and the failed visit to Jakarta Old Town a.k.a OLD BATAVIA

Here's what I missed blogging about during our short stay in Jakarta. We stayed in a very nice hotel and we had all the reasons to just cuddle inside our room and/or use the different facilities and never think about anything else. At night though, we thought about going around the city to hunt for a nice place to eat.

After the short conversation with two locals in the hotel sauna, we decided to give Old Kota District a try.

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OLD BATAVIA Jakarta

Before leaving for Old Kota District, we dropped by Selamat Datang Monument (Welcome Monument) which is located in the center of a roundabout known as Hotel Indonesia Roundabout because of its proximity to to Hotel Indonesia Kempinski. The fountain sorrounding the Welcome Monument is the view we see each time we look out of our hotel window. This was constructed during the 1962 Asian Games.

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Selamat Datang Monument with Hotel Indonesia kempinski on the background
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The place is a major draw among tourists and especially locals. When the fountain is turned off at around 10pm, locals go against the flow of cars to go to the central roundabout and hangout in there. I noticed that the crowd is mostly young people so you can see teenagers dating, friends chatting with each other and people simply enjoying lazy hours. Street food vendors also take advantage of the crowd to sell their snacks. I saw this group pf students going around playing their instruments serenading people in exchange for a few bucks. Kakatuwa.

Selamat Datang Monument's immediate vicinity transforms into another park where people gather and enjoy themselves. 

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We then hopped in a cab and directed the driver to take us to Old Kota District without knowing what to expect in there. I imagined the place differently from the way the two locals at the sauna narrated it to me. I was too focused on the food they were discussing with me because they say it's where we can find some nice Chinese food without going on the details of what specific restaurant to go to. I did search google for some massage shops in the area and I saw many mostly offering massage with happy ending. hahaha

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As the taxi approached the area, the building looked familiar to me. First the train station in Kota and then the National Museum in front of it. We were in Old Batavia and I didn't even know this is where we were headed. I have researched about the place prior to the trip and it was actually part of the itinerary, the next day supposed to be, but we were here at almost midnight on a Chinese New Year season. That said, the place was packed with people mostly teenagers, again.

A little trivia. Old Jakarta or Batavia was once Dubbed "The Jewel of Asia" and "Queen of the East" in the 16th century by European sailors. It was named by the Dutch and was once a center of commerce for the whole continent due to its strategic location and abundant resources. --source.
This is the Intramuros of Jakarta.
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Then it started to rain. Great. We were like rats running for cover against the sudden downpour and competing for shelter against the crowd of locals.

A few minutes later and the rain stopped. We walked around to finally look for a place to eat. The streets were still drenched with garbage everywhere. Thanks to this sight we lost our appetite. I quietly appreciated the colonial/old buildings surrounding us while I followed my colleagues who were at that time in a hurry to get out of the place.
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Cafe Batavia anyone? ^^
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No more Chinese food, no more massage (with happy ending?), no more strolling around the place with beautifully lighted colonial buildings. We came at the wrong time. Thanks to the rain, thanks to the big crowd, we were in no mood to stay longer. We called a taxi and went back to our hotel.  Visit to Jakarta Old Town a.k.a OLD BATAVIA, #fail.

The place deserves another look though. I shall return and see you again Old Batavia.^^


ALSO READ:


--Taxi to PRAMBANAN? No, do-it-yourself via TransJogja
--Postcard Perfect PRAMBANAN TEMPLE in Yogyakarta
--#PRAMBANAN2014: Free Museum, Souvenirs, Nasi Gudeg and the Notorious Becak Ride
--EDU HOSTEL Yogyakarta is about Comfort and Space
--WIJILAN GUDEG: Nasi Gudeg Komplit Special Bu Lies
--WHAT TO DO IN YOGYAKARTA: Ride a #Becak
--Borobudur Golden Sunrise Tour
--#BOROBUDUR: A Temple or a Shrine?
--SIGNATURES RESTAURANT at Hotel Indonesia Kempinski Jakarta
--HOTEL INDONESIA Kempinski Jakarta
--Jakarta International Airport to KOTA STATION Central Jakarta by bus

Sunday, April 6, 2014

LITTLE YOKUZUNA at Food Louver Grand Indonesia

Grand Indonesia Shopping Town is a mixed-use complex including a shopping mall and the Hotel Indonesia Kempinski and Kempinski Residences covering an area of about 640,000 m2 located on the Welcome Monument Roundabout in Jakarta Indonesia.

It was easily accessible in our case since we stayed at Hotel Indonesia and so we were here a couple of times for window shopping and yeah, food.
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LITTLE YOKUZUNA at Food Louver Grand Indonesia Shopping Mall

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Jakarta International Airport to KOTA STATION Central Jakarta by bus


We were supposed to take the train from Yogyakarta to Jakarta. It would be a butt numbing 9-hour ride from Central to West Java that we were willing to take for the sake of experience. I have never rode a train longer than 30 minutes at a time so I was excited to book tickets two weeks before flying to Indonesia but the website declined to process despite so many attempts. I still tried and tried despite the difficulty of navigating the site with no English version. One way ticket per person at that time costs around 360,000 per person. I am glad the online reservation wasn't successful because when I checked LionAir, a local budget carrier, one-way costs 315,000 Rupiah. That's way cheaper plus it will only take an hour to touch down in Jakarta.

Back to SOEKARNO HATTA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT Terminal 1 again. The flight was smooth and relaxed. It was sunny in Jakarta when we landed. Didn't have to wait for any baggage so we were just carrying backpacks.
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Since Jakarta International Airport is not connected by train, the options for commute are either via taxi or by bus. Taxi is a good option but the bus is definitely a cheaper alternative. To give you an idea, we took the cab on our departure flight and we paid 110,000 Rupiah on the meter + toll. Not bad at all especially of you are on a group of four and are in a hurry.

Bus fare though costs 30,000 Rupiah per person one way. This is the best option if you are travelling solo.Look for Damri Bus. They have a terminal and ticket office in front of Terminal 1. No need to cross the street. Reserve tickets for Kota Station.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

My CALAGUAS Article on #Expat Travel& Lifestyle Philippines Magazine

I am publishing an excerpt of my article on Expat Travel and Lifestyle Philippines magazine entitled;  CALAGUAS ISLAND: A Gentle Beach Amidst the Constant Battering of the Pacific Ocean.


I am glad I am writing this almost a year after the experience, if it had been only days, I would have dwell mostly on the vile side of the place. Looking back, I get to appreciate Calaguas more, it's unspoiled beauty and fine white sand that many travel bloggers say "could rival" that of Boracay. I am a big fan of the latter and the hell I care if it has become too touristy. To even compare Calaguas to Boracay certainly creates a buzz and I have been curious to check it out myself. On February last year, that chance finally arrived. I travelled with my wife and three other friends. I kept them excited prior to the trip assuring them that it will me place to remember. It sure did go down as one of our most memorable trips because of the traumatic boat ride. Beauty has a price. More often than not, it requires a certain sacrifice. How far are you willing to go to get a piece of paradise? Mahabang Buhagin Calaguas was the answer.


What Took Me So Long?

The cheapest way to go is by land. Be ready for a 10-hour  Manila-Daet bus ride though and another two hours or so on the boat. Back and forth, that accounts to 24 hours of being on the road, not to mention the long waits during transfers. Calaguas may not be the perfect destination for "weekend travelers" but a challenging one for a do-it-yourself getaway.

A couple of reliable tour groups offer reasonable packages to the island. 2D/1N, or 3D/2N, your pick. An overnight in the island could be enough for first-timers but to travel that long just to stay one night in a place and then go back to Manila could be a waste. I say you plan your trip ahead, apply for a longer leave and get to explore Bicolandia more. Yes, a package tour could be less of a hassle but don't miss the opportunity of learning by doing it yourself. It is part of the adventure. It was Manila-Naga-Calaguas-Naga-Legaspi by land and then Legaspi-Manila by air in our case.

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My CALAGUAS Article on #Expat Magazine

Perfect Timing is Key

Calaguas is located off Vinzons Camarines Norte on the Eastern seaboard of the Philippines. That said, the island is well exposed to the battering of waves and the wrath of the Pacific Ocean.

No matter how beautiful a certain place is, it being paradise or hell could be a matter of timing. This is our reality in the Philippines. An archipelago of unpredictable sea current and notorious for powerful typhoons, there are some areas where perfect timing is everything.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Backpacking VIETNAM-CAMBODIA-THAILAND in 7 Days Preview Post

Three countries ---Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand. Five cities, Ho Chi Minh City, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Bangkok and Pattaya in 7 days? It is possible. Given the proper research and good preparation coupled with the passion to explore.

In his blog post 11 BIGGEST BUSINESS TRENDS in the Philippines 2014 , Anton Diaz of Our Awesome Planet beautifully describes the emergence of Filipino Free Independent Travelers. "They travel by setting up their own itinerary like a backpacker, but live luxuriously and travel leisurely without the need for a travel agency". I agree. And I am proud to say I am one of them.

If you are a young urban professional or a student transitioning to college/ university, I suggest you take a week off and go for a backpacking tour of Southeast Asia. Seven days through Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand would be a good start. If you have two weeks to spare, you can continue as far as Malaysia and then end up in Singapore before flying back to the Philippines.

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Backpacking VIETNAM-CAMBODIA-THAILAND

Sunday, March 16, 2014

SIGNATURES RESTAURANT at Hotel Indonesia Kempinski Jakarta

I talked to two locals at the hotel sauna and they said you need to know a specific restaurant for you to be assured of how good their food it. In short, you cannot just randomly walk the street and try some food. You could get disappointed. A local travel blogger who we met the next day also confirmed this. Very similar to our case in Manila.

In short, if you are in Jakarta, food stalls in high end shopping malls are the good ones, especially the ones in hotels so I said hallelujah when I heard that, after all, we were staying in one of the best hotels in the city. And it was perfect time for me to get familiar with other local dishes we haven't tried in Yogyakarta and during our short stay in Jakarta.

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SIGNATURES RESTAURANT at Hotel Indonesia Kempinski 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

HOTEL INDONESIA Kempinski Jakarta

January marks the active rainy season in Indonesia and we saw the news of flooding in Jakarta a week before we flew in so I have already prepared myself for the worst. I was confident things will turn out great because we were booked in one of the most popular, strategically located and celebrated hotel in Jakarta.

It didn't disappoint. We stayed in a deluxe room at the 11th floor with an amazing view of the fountain and the Welcome Statue.

You know this is one proud hotel once you step in.The lobby is a balance between space, simplicity and freshness without leaving behind elegance.

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HOTEL INDONESIA Kempinski Jakarta lobby
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The elevators are quite fast although I had issues with their sensors as they don't make any sound and/or the lights are hard to notice if the card has been scanned or not. I had to keep tapping my room card on several occasions so as to activate the buttons.I noticed that the corridors leading to the rooms are quite narrow. No biggie though. Well lighted and clean, I reminded myself this is an old building retrofitted to a modern interior.

Monday, March 10, 2014

J.Co Durian Flavor, McDonalds + Shopping for Souvenirs in #MALIOBORO STREET

What's with the title you might ask. Seriously, dining in McDonalds in Yogyakarta? Well, I can't blame my companions if they are fed up with gudeg. I personally think Indonesian food is something that you don't fall in love with that easy. You should give it time. 

And while I was so excited to try each food in the list I always carried with us while in Jogja, my colleagues were thinking of something else. And so on our second day in the Central Javan city, we opted to try something more familiar. We thought of something not very "fastfood"but when we tried Malioboro Mall in the famous street with the same name, there was not much choice. McDonalds it was then.
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 #MALIOBORO STREET

Sunday, March 9, 2014

#BOROBUDUR: A Temple or a Shrine?

A temple or a shrine? Well, both refer to places of holy worship and could be synanymous but there is a nuance between the two. A temple could be a shrine but a shrine is not necessarily a temple.To make the explaination short, a temple has an inner house where worshippers can gather to venerate their god (s). According to our guide, Borobudur is more of a shrine than a temple since it has no inner house or enclosed space which qualifies it for a temple. Makes sense?

This you cannot easily find in books but one that you can discover when you hire a guide when you visit Borobudur Temple.


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beautiful #BOROBUDUR

First, here's what you need to know.

1. We stayed at Edu Hostel in downtown Yogyakarta. 
2. Yogyakarta is 45 minutes away by car from Borobudur on early morning when there arr almost no cars on the road. 
3. We availed of 
Golden Sunrise at Punthuk Setumbu Hill -Borobudur 
and Mendut Temple Tour 
(6 hours) 85,000 Rupiah/pax. Leaves at 4 am.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Borobudur Golden Sunrise Tour

This is not the main temple tour of Borobudur yet. I also thought we would go to the renown Buddhist temple in Yogyakarta for sunrise but I was wrong. We availed of Golden Sunrise Package Tour through our hotel Edu Hostel where the standard rate is 85,000 Rupiah that we had to reserve the night before. We had to leave the hotel at 4:00am. The hotel car was already waiting for us at the lobby when we went downstairs. The rate is per pax and we had to share the ride with two other tourists since there were only three of us. The car is spacious so it was a comfortable 45-minute ride to our first destination.

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Borobudur Nirwana Sunrise
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