18 December 2015

Weekend Getaway to Tasik

As I mentioned in the last post, I went to Tasikmalaya (Tasik) for a weekend getaway. Tasik is the hometown of my helper/homeworker, Bibik. She had been working with us for more than a year now. I have met one of her sisters in Jakarta, but I never met her children and her mother who live in Tasik. Plus, I wanted to getaway from Jakarta for a while.

Tasik is one of cities in West Java, about 270km (5 hours driving) from Jakarta, passing Bandung and Nagreg. We started from home at 5.30am and arrived in Tasik around 12.30pm. So it's normal and quite a nice traffic.

First we went to Bibik's house to drop her off and to know her family. She will stay there for one night and tomorrow we will pick her up again to go back to Jakarta. While for us, we already booked rooms in Ramayana Hotel near the center of the city. We checked into the hotel, got relax for a while before starting out to explore Tasik city.

Our first destination was Sentra Bordir Kawalu. Honestly when we searched Tasik places list in the internet, we just noted down the places without really read what they are. For Sentra Bordir Kawalu (Kawalu Embroidery Center), we expected to be roads or area with many embroidery shops. Apparently the shops are formed as usual residents' houses without any signs and showrooms. We did not know which house to go in. They usually already have big clients or distributors who take their products using trucks daily to sell them in other places, especially Tanah Abang market in Jakarta. We found one shop though that has a sign and showroom. We entered it but nothing interesting. Maybe the good ones already taken to Jakarta.

Next we visited Situ Gede. Like other small towns, Tasik has no traffic jam so it's really quick to go from one place to another place within the city. Situ Gede (Big Lake) is a lake located inside the city. When the water is high, we could rent a boat to go round the lake. When we went there, the water was quite low and it was about to rain, so we didn't take the boat. Along the lake there are many food stalls selling grilled fish and coconut drinks. It was still in the afternoon so we did not want to eat heavy foods yet. We bought coconut drinks and some snacks like otak-otak, corns, sausages and round tofu. Okay, that's a lot xD

Next we wanted to go to Alun-Alun (townhall) where Tasik people usually gather before sunset. But it started raining hard and windy (that made us stop for a while in front of Indomaret). We then went to Plaza Asia, the biggest shopping center in Tasik, just to take a shelter from the rain. Plaza Asia is located in a big complex together with shophouses outside the mall, a hotel and a water park.

After walking around fhe mall for an hour, the rain hadn't stopped yet, but not as heavy as before. We got into the car again to roam the city. We passed by Alun-Alun, no people there of course with this rain. The park was greeny, clean and looked very well maintained.

Then we passed by Masjid Agung (the biggest mosque in Tasik). Not like usual mosque with round dome, this one had pyramid style, a typical Sundanese mosque. It looked very peaceful. 
Tasik is also called Kota Santri (Pesantren Student Town) because it has many Pesantrens (a traditional Islamic's boarding school). Islam has been their culture too, because I saw a lot of women in veils (hijab) on the street.

From the mosque, we went to a famous meatball restaurant named Bakso Laksana, which is very near Alun-Alun and the mosque. I can tell Tasik people love meatball/fishball noodle (Mie Bakso) so much. Every corner of the city has Bakso restaurant, more than Nasi Padang or even their traditional Nasi Tutug Oncom (Nasi TO). Bibik also loves Bakso. While she's staying in my house, she often buy and eat Bakso.

From there we headed back to hotel. My husband then bought Nasi TO on a food stall just outside our hotel, and we ate it in our rooms. Oncom is a fermented mold (type of fungi). Tutug is a Sundanese word means 'to hit'. Nasi TO is Oncom and rice being mixed together by hitting them. Eating Nasi TO is a must thing you should do when going to Tasik. Like other West Java area, Tasik has many delicious culinaries.

The next day, we played in the hotel's swimming pool. My little daughter really loved playing in the water, eventhough she's still afraid to swim, she didn't want to go out of the pool.

Around 10am we checked out from the hotel. Before picking up Bibik, we wanted to visit Mount Galunggung, a sleeping volcano. It takes around 30minutes to go there from the city. In this place, we could go up the mountain to view the crater from above, or go down to the crater side, or go to the hotspring. We decided to go up.

From the carpark, we had to go up 510 steps! We did not expect to work out today. We took around 1 hour to go up and down. But it's really worth it. The view up there was uhmazing!

From Mount Galunggung, we went back to the city to eat for lunch. We could not find a Nasi TO restaurant (still craving for more), so we just went in any restaurant that looked very crowded (means good, rite?). We ate at Sambel Layah. Apparently, it was crowded because the food was REALLY cheap! It's like one main course including rice, chicken and drink only cost Rp.10,000/person. The food itself was not that nice, and the service was terrible. Our food came almost 30minutes (maybe more?). This restaurant offers a really hot chili sauce, and already has many branches in 11 cities across Java island, but not yet in Jakarta.

From there we picked up Bibik at her house. It was already 3.30pm, quite too late to go back to Jakarta. The traffic was very bad. We arrived at home around 11pm. Should have gone out from Tasik earlier (like 1pm or something ya). Anyway, it was a nice weekend getaway. I cannot wait to explore another West Java cities.

27 November 2015

Cannot Sit at Home This Weekend

No, I can't. Will be going for 1 night 2 days trip to Tasikmalaya for the first time \o/

20 November 2015

Sabang After 7 Years: Day 2

Another day in Sabang. Woke up to the sound of sea, how peaceful it was! This was the view from my room (more into the accommodation in the other post). Sunrise was not observable at that time because it was a little bit cloudy, and also raining heavily the night before.

After my little baby woke up, we went down into the beach joining some of our groups who were already there sitting and swimming. I was too jumping into the sea. The water was so clear but there were many small rocks on the sands that we should be careful of. My Brother got his toes wounded and bled.

My Father went out to the town with our rented driver to buy us Nasi Gurih (steamed rice cooked in coconut milk, Aceh specialty) for breakfast. After eating and showering, at 10am we were all ready to go to continue exploring Sabang. While we covered east Sabang on the first day, today we would cover the west part.

08 November 2015

Sabang After 7 Years: Day 1

This is still the series of my trip to Aceh on last Ied al-Fitr. I know, it's too late already ya hehe I just had the time to post it now.

Hello, Sabang! I really have a good memory on this island 7 years ago, and finally I had the chance to visit it again, now with my husband and daughter. Same as last time, this time I planned staying there for 3 days 2 nights. But this time the port was more crowded because of holiday. Ferry tickets and car rental in Sabang were more expensive than usual. That's why many people would like to bring over their own car using slow big ferry (around 2 hours trip), including us, but the queue was too long. Luckily we could still get the fast ferry (around 45 minutes trip) tickets. Other than by ferry that crosses few times everyday, Sabang also can be reached by small airplane from Kuala Namu (Medan) 3 times a week.

We crossed the sea from Ulee Lheue port in Banda Aceh to Balohan Bay in Sabang in the morning around 8am. It is better to take morning ferry when the sea is still calm. I heard afternoon ferries often canceled the trip because of the weather. Before noon we have arrived in our accommodation Casa Nemo in Pantai Sumur 3 and taken rest for a while (because we woke up quite early that day to get to the port). We already rented a car and a driver for the whole day (car rental in Sabang usually must comes with driver), but the beach view from the was too nice that we just had lunch there and enjoy the view. Until around 3pm, we finally managed to get ourselves out of the hotel to walk around the island.

03 September 2015

Review: Kuala Radja Hotel in Banda Aceh

This is the first time I am staying in an Islamic nuance hotel, Kuala Radja. I got that first impression directly when entering the hotel room. One of the rules of the hotel is the guests can not wear clothes that are not covering Aurat (human body parts that Islam thinks should be covered) outside the hotel room. Well that was the general Islamic Sharia rule that is implemented in Aceh actually. Another thing was a sticker put on the mirror saying a quote from Qur'an about prohibition to do sexual act out of marriage. The last ones were prayers writings put on top of the bed for Before and After Sleeping.

I got a Deluxe Room with 1 Double Bed cost around IDR 300K per night. The room was old and not too fancy, but quite spacious and having enough necessity: TV, fridge, bathroom with hot shower and toiletries. They provided free small breakfast such as fried rice, breads, green bean porridge and fruits. And the most important thing is... free wifi in the room! Not bad for that price.

(picture taken from its website)

What I most like is the location near the city center. It's located on a main big road where many government offices are there, but not noisy. It's about 2.6km to Mosque Baiturrahman, 3.2km to Museum Tsunami and 10.3km to Sultan Iskandar Muda International Airport.

Maybe I like it also because of sentimental reason that this hotel is really nearby my ex-high school, hehe. There was local supermarket chain called Pante Pirak on the right side of the hotel, and 2 other 2-stars hotels on the left side. So if you can't find a room in this hotel, you can go easily to the next 2 hotels, vice versa. Kuala Radja Hotel is nice but nothing special. If I come back to Banda Aceh again, I might want to try another hotels nearby :P

25 August 2015

Banda Aceh With Its Memories and Beauty

During recent Ied holidays (16th-25th July), I went to my hometown Aceh for 10 days visiting family and taking vacation. My hometown is in Lhokseumawe, a northern part of Aceh province, but I also wanted to visit Banda Aceh and Sabang again. It had been 7 years since the last time I went there, and my husband had never been there before, so it would be a perfect time to go!

Banda Aceh is about 300 km from my Lhokseumawe. We --  I, my husband, my baby, my parents, my sister and my brother -- went on a road trip from Lhokseumawe on the second day of Ied, stopping by at relatives' places on the way there including my grandmother's. By the time we reached Banda Aceh, it's already 10pm. We went straight to the hotel we've booked and got rest.

The next morning when I and my husband went out to look for some foods for our baby, I had the first glimpse again of Banda Aceh city. I lived here for 1 year from 1999 and 2000, but I didn't remember it was beautiful like this: fresh air, blue sky, fine streets and roads without holes, no traffics, many trees/plants on the main road, green and clean. My favorite part was the view from a small bridge where Krueng Aceh (Krueng means river) and a mountain (my guess was Mount Seulawah Agam) were in one picture. It was pretty that made me ask my husband to stop the car for a while. River and mountain... reminds me of Seoul.

Back to the group in the hotel, we started off to visit some Tsunami-related places. Sadly when we talk about Aceh, we always remember that big disaster and the victims. But in the other side, Tsunami made Banda Aceh a better city. As I said above, I didn't recall Banda Aceh could be this beautiful 15 years ago, nor 7 years ago. Tsunami also created new interesting places like Museum Tsunami, PLTD Apung and Kapal di Atas Rumah.

27 March 2015

Expressing Breastmilk During Traveling

My daughter was about 7 months old when I traveled to India and Singapore recently for 9 days. It was the first time I left her. The first 3-4 days I was OK and really excited for the journey; it's been a year I didn't travel since Bangkok trip. But after several days, I missed my daughter so badly and I wanted to go home. I tried not to think about her, but it's hard especially when I saw babies around me. One time I had video chat with my husband and my daughter, I couldn't hold my tears T_T

The thought about her made me want to bring home expressed breastmilk as much as I could. This was more valuable than any souvenirs, right? It's not easy, but yeah I could do it!

11 March 2015

Spending Time in Changi

Despite of having lived in Singapore for almost 3 years, and often went in/out the country through its airport, I rarely put much attention on Changi Airport nor enjoyed what's inside. Because, I always got to the airport as late as I could, and go out from the airport as fast as I could to get to my house.

Last Saturday I had a flight that's required transit in Changi Airport for about 3 hours. It was a connecting flight that I didn't need to go through immigration nor check-in again, so quite plenty of time to spend, right.

First thing to do was getting wifi password. It should be easier if I had roaming SIM card, because the password would be sent via SMS to phone number. But the stupid Kartu Halo didn't allow me to have roaming service because my monthly bill was not over 400k (what a stupid regulations!), so yeah, I went to Information desk to get my wifi password.

After informing my family about my arrival in Changi, I then started roaming around. I went to Flight Info machine, to scan the boarding pass of my next flight, to find the Terminal and Gate number. I arrived in Terminal 3 and apparently connected to a flight in Terminal 2.

While walking toward Skytrain to Terminal 2, I noticed a sign to Butterfly Garden and followed it. It's a small 2 storeys garden with beautiful flowers & trees and few butterflies flying around freely. They were not many and not too special; no big or colorful butterflies that could attract your interest.

Butterfly Garden