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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.

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.

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.


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.


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.

SIGNATURES RESTAURANT at Hotel Indonesia Kempinski 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

HOTEL INDONESIA KEMPINSKI Jakarta: History, Modernity and Class Wrapped Into One

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.

HOTEL INDONESIA Kempinski Jakarta lobby

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.

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.

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.

Borobudur Nirwana Sunrise

Sunday, March 2, 2014


Becak is a cycle rickshaw typical in Yogyakarta. This is the equivalent of our pedicabs in Manila except that with this one the driver is at the back. Passengers could therefore have an uninterrupted view of the road.

According to a local blogger friend, becaks were not originally meant for public transportation but tourists became fond of it and so the widespread use of moving people around. Comes at a hefty price though. We find it outrageously expensive for such a ride. A less than five kilometer pedal starts at 20,000 Rupiah, roughly $2. I didn't realize it to be that expensive until we got to Jakarta and the taxi we took only charged us 40,000 Rp from Gombak Station to Hotel Kempinski which is more than five kilometers away. Given the same distance, a becak driver might ask for a premium of twice that amount.
Becak ride in Yogyakarata

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Holiday Destinations to feel like a Star

Once again 2014 sees the return of MTV’s World Stage to Malaysia. Since 2009, the Malaysian World Stage event allows 550 million music lovers across the globe to see their favourite acts perform without ever leaving the comfort of their sofas. Yet Malaysia isn’t the only place that has hosted large MTV events. MTV is adept at putting on music events at destinations around the world, bringing music lovers, travellers and celebrity stars together.

Party holidays in the Med

Take Malta, for example. Every June sees fifty thousand party people head to Malta for a huge outdoor event. For the past eight years the Malta Tourism Authority and MTV have partnered to bring ‘Isle of MTV’ to Il Fosos in glorious Floriana. What’s more it’s absolutely free - what a fantastic way to combine a love of travel, culture and music!

Magaluf in Majorca also has a great reputation for clubbing, partying and sunbathing. The season starts in May and doesn’t end until October. The temperature rarely drops below thirty degrees either. That’s six whole months to celeb spot whilst working on both your tan and your disco moves!
Magaluf in Majorca 
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