08 December 2016

Review: Ibis Styles Hotel in Denpasar Bali

During my business trip to Bali last October, i was staying in Ibis Styles Hotel in Denpasar for 2 nights. Honestly Ibis Styles, with its too bright decoration, is not a kind of hotel I'd like to stay. But my business partner, who was already in Bali 2 days ahead of me, was staying there, and I thought it would be much convenient for me to go to our customer together from the same hotel. However, it turned out my experience staying there was not bad at all. My office booked it for me using our regular travel agent. It cost around IDR950,000 for 2 nights.

I arrived before check-in time, but the hotel staff could manage for me to get in the room directly. I like the fully carpeted room. Even though the room was small but looked very comfortable and cozy. It reminds me a little of Swiss-Belinn hotel in Malang except this one was too much colorful in green and purple. They said it makes the customers in happy mood, but seriously it does not! Then I found the shower room light was not working. The tehnician was coming right away after I called the receptionist. Apparently there was no problem with the lights, it's just that I needed to turn on another switch plus that shower room switch (some kind of switch combination?). They provided liquid soap and shampoo 2 in 1 like the ones for baby (and this made my hair very hard). They did not provide slippers and dental kit. When I came down to lobby to go out, I approached the receptionist to ask about slippers and dental kit. He said those were being provided free upon request only, and they would bring them to my room. When I came back later at night, those items were already in my shower room.

The contemporary designed room

Shower room

29 November 2016

Escape to Bali

In the beginning of last October I had a short business trip to Bali and a chance to walk around Bali for one day. It has been 3 years I never been to Bali. Foreigners might not waste opportunity visiting Bali often if they live in Indonesia. Just take a look at one colleague of mine from UK who went to Jakarta 4 times this year for business trip ALWAYS ended his trip with few days holiday in Bali. Yet here I am going to Bali not even once a year.

I arrived in Ngurah Rai Airport around 10.45AM. I heard that we could not find legal taxi easily in Bali Airport that you have to walk outside the airport to get one. Many rental cars are waiting in the arrival halls but need to bargain; not convenient at all. There are online car services in Bali such as Uber and GrabCar, but they could not easily take guests from the airport because they would be confronted by those rental cars drivers. I tried to order Uber anyway, then the appointed driver told me to meet up in Departure hall, to avoid rental car drivers in Arrival hall. We then safely went out from the airport.

It took about 30 minutes and IDR50,765 to my hotel in Denpasar city. I checked my Uber receipt and surprised to see discount IDR50,000 on my trip. I practically paid nothing for that trip. I just found out Uber gave me discount IDR50,000 each for 5 trips on that day! Was that because I used Uber in another city for the first time? I was so excited. Today's journey was gonna be sponsored by Uber, yayyy!

26 November 2016

Review: Swiss-Belinn Hotel in Malang

This was the second time I stayed in Swiss Belinn chain hotel. The first time was in Cirebon, while this time was in Malang. Both location are inside mall complex. Is that the characteristic of this famous chain 3-star hotel?

First impression when entering the lobby: the receptionist desk was so tiny compare to the huge lobby. It was clean and modern contemporary styled, from the lobby to the room. Although the room was small but it was very comfortable. I always like hotel room with fully carpeted floor, like the one we had in this hotel. The room was equipped with water heater, fridge, safety deposit box, tv cables with many international channels, stable wifi connection and necessary bath amenities. We found the exhaust in bathroom was not working. We reported it directly to front desk and then the technicians came straightaway to our room to fix it.

Our tiny bathroom

The outdoor swimming pool was quite big and located outside the restaurant. Not like in Surabaya and Batu, this time we finally could enjoy dipping into the pool longer because the weather was not that cold. After swimming, we had very nice breakfast foods in the restaurant while watching some guests playing games held by the hotel to celebrate Indonesia Independence Day. Maybe because of public holiday, at that day there were many guests that made me almost not able to get a table for breakfast.

The outdoor pool has children pool

This hotel is located in the middle of town, so it's near to go to any tourist places or restaurants in the town. It is about 14km to Abdul Rachman Saleh airport and 5km to Malang train station. It is located just behind Mx Mall and Malang Town Square but fortunately the way to the hotel is separated from the malls so the hotel entrance is not crowded. Even though just walking distance to the malls, we were not interested to visit them.

I booked one standard room for one night from Tiket.com 2 weeks before staying there and it cost around IDR530.000. I think it was quite cheap, with all good facilities this hotel offered.

Read also our journey in Malang.

10 November 2016

East Java Tour: Malang

This is part of my East Java Tour on 13th-17th August 2016 (4 nights 5 days):
Back in Malang after 2 nights staying in Batu, we stayed to explore the city for one night. From Jatim Park 2 Batu, I ordered taxi to bring us getting our stuff first in our hotel in Batu, then went we off to our hotel in Malang. The journey takes about 45 minutes. After checked-in and got a rest for a while, we went out to have dinner... in 2 places!

First we went to Toko Oen, an old restaurant in Dutch style that was started since 1930. The furniture inside really pictured the old times such as low chairs made of rottan, plaid table cloth in red and white and Welcome plank in Dutch.The waiters wore a costume used by local people during Dutch invasion. The menu written in Bahasa Indonesia and Dutch. We ordered its specialty ice cream and Oxtongue Steak. Ice cream price varied between 13k to 30k, while steak price ranged between 60k to 70k.There were also other foods such as appetizers and Indonesian dishes. Please note that this restaurant also served pork, so it's not halal. They served quite long and not too friendly, but the Oxtongue Steak was nice tho.

Oxtongue Steak and Ice Cream Oen's Special

Toko Oen is located near Alun-Alun Merdeka. After spending such a fun time in Alun-Alun Batu the other night, I thought we would visit Alun-Alun Malang right after we had dinner in Toko Oen. But when we passed by it, it was dark and quiet, not as crowded and live like the one in Batu. Maybe it was crowded only in weekends and on the day, not in the evening. Hmm didn't know what to do in Malang at night accept dining (and clubbing?). OK then, we went eating again!

17 October 2016

Review: Zamzam Hotel in Batu

During our vacation in Batu we were staying in Zamzam Hotel, a big 3-star hotel. Big, but not too famous among Malang taxi drivers (while Batu taxi drivers know it), because our driver from Malang Train Station did not know where it was. So we relied on Google Maps, which took us passing very small streets, and we got lost. Apparently the best way to go there was follow the road to Kusuma Agrowisata; almost every driver knows that touristy place. Just 200m before reaching the place, turn right for about 50m and voila... we arrive at Zamzam Hotel.

The location is quite good in the middle of Batu, near Museum Angkut and very near Kusuma Agrowisata. We walked to both places. From other attraction places are not far either, less than 1km to Jatim Park 1 and Jatim Park 2, and 1km from Batu Night Spectacular.

I booked 1 room for 2 nights via Traveloka around IDR750,000. I chose this hotel because it had swimming pool and aircon, but in the end we didn't really use the pool and aircon because the air was so cold! We only dipped our feet into the pool in the morning, while enjoying the beautiful hill view. After staying in Prime Royal Hotel in Surabaya, we again got a room in the first floor with a back terrace directly connecting to pool area.

The Pool

The standard room itself was very spacious. Wifi connection in the room was good. The amenities and toiletries were complete. There were a cooler and water heater as well. But my husband did not like the bathroom where shower area were not closed, so all parts of the bathroom were wet. Other than that, the room was fine.

Hotel decoration was quite old and classic dominating with yellow brownish color. Drop off and pickup area for car was not really covered by a ceiling, so if it was raining we could still got a little drop of rain when we alighted from the car. On 2 mornings we stayed there we had breakfast in a restaurant on the first floor near lobby. I heard there was another restaurant upstair with a nice view of the hill, but unfortunately at that time it was booked by a big group of university alumnus who were staying there too. Nevertheless, the staffs in the first floor restaurant were very friendly.

The Restaurant

Nothing went wrong and nothing's too special either. Overall it was a nice stay in Zamzam Hotel.

Read also our journey in Batu.

07 October 2016

East Java Tour: Batu

This is part of my East Java Tour on 13th-17th August 2016 (4 nights 5 days):
There are many ways to go to Malang/Batu, and I chose by train from Surabaya because I hadn't been to Surabaya before, and my daughter hadn't taken train before. When the train started to walk, she stared blank and tried to process that new experience. We then sang a famous Indonesian children song "Naik kereta api, tut.. tut.. tut.." (The Train Ride). Since we're new in this Penataran Train, we didn't know how the seats and carts condition. One cart has 4 aircons so economy train is not hot anymore like it used to be. Each row has 5 seats: 2 and 3 seats divided by aisle. Thanks God we got the 2 seats row, because it looked more comfortable and spacious than 3 seats one. Every two rows facing each other, so not all rows facing to the front of train. Unfortunately we got a row facing backside. I couldn't really enjoy the view (not much to see tho) because it made me dizzy. In the first half of the journey we got the comforts to occupy 4 seats because the 2 seats in front of us were still empty so I could sit on the seat facing in front. But after several stops, the passenger who sat on that seat came, so we should sit back to our original seats. Because of the packed seats, it was not comfortable to open up our meals that we have prepared from Surabaya (Lontong Balap and Grilled Chicken), so we ate snacks instead. The fare ticket was very cheap, only IDR12,000 ($1) per person. If we knew the seat arrangement was like this, we would have bought tickets for 4 seats instead.

Naik Kereta Api, Tut.. Tut.. Tut...

Arrived in Malang, the city was very crowded because of Arema anniversary, the famous football club from Malang. The station is located in front of Alun-Alun (central open squares) filled with vehicles and people paraded in blue (the color of Arema). Fortunately there was one taxi passed by to drop a guest to the station, and we got on directly, off to Batu, about 1 hour going up from Malang by car. It cost around IDR100,000 to reach our hotel in Batu, should be cheaper if there was no Arema traffic. First thing to do after check in our room was having very-late-lunch (at 4pm). Since we were so hungry, our cold packed meals still tasted delicious!

After taking shower, at 5pm we walked to Museum Angkut (Transportation Museum), which was just 10 minutes walking distance from our hotel. The entrance fee is IDR 80,000 for the museum only, and IDR 90,000 for museum + flight simulator. I bought tickets with flight simulator one, because my husband likes airplane (you could also buy additional ticket for flight simulator inside the museum). Entering the main gate, we came to Main Hall Zone where displayed collection of antique cars and horse-drawn carriages. Going to the second floor, we entered Education Zone where displayed history of all kinds of transportation such as trishaws (which we could ride for taking pictures), bicycle, trains and ships. The third floor was an outdoor area for 3 flight simulators. Unfortunately it started to rain, so we ran from one plane to another plane, from private jet to helicopter.

14 September 2016

Review: Prime Royal Boutique Hotel in Surabaya

In Surabaya we stayed one night in Prime Royal Boutique Hotel, a 3-star hotel located in the middle of town. I was looking for a hotel near railway station (Gubeng or Semut) and has swimming pool, then finally decided to book this hotel after reading good reviews and the fare fitted my budget. One superior room for one night only cost around IDR360,000 via Traveloka.

We arrived and checked-in the hotel around 8.30pm (see my previous post about Surabaya here). We got a room on the second floor with 2 single beds. I directly called the receptionist because I wanted 1 double bed and I already wrote down that request when I booked the room online. The staff was sorry and very friendly, asking me to wait in the room until someone came to us to deliver the key for our new room. We moved to a room on the first floor which actually also had 2 single beds but they had wrapped them with one double bed linen so it looked like a double bed. Well, that was okay for us, and I like their quick response.

Since we are 2 adults (and 1 infant), they gave us 2 different passwords to login to their wifi for 2 different devices. At around 10pm, after taking shower and getting my daughter sleep, I tried several times to login to the wifi but always failed until I gave up and just fell asleep. I was tired anyway, didn't even have energy anymore for browsing. The wifi then worked fine in the morning.

The Pool

Our room was located besides the pool, so when we opened the terrace door the next morning we could go directly to the pool, so nice! I thought Surabaya was hot, but not in this hotel. The outdoor pool was surrounded with big trees and plants, made it really cold in the morning. It was really fresh, but we couldn't stand swimming too long. No wonder there was no anybody swimmng other than us (but it felt like our private pool tho). Later on when I passed by the pool again at 11am, it was started crowded, and didn't look hot at all.

The Restaurant

The breakfast food was not bad, except horrible fried rice. The room and bathroom were clean enough, I did not have any complaint. The location was prime, located in Jalan Kranggan which was famous with traditional food Lontong Balap. There were many Lontong Balap stalls and other food stalls near the hotel, and walking distance to Pasar Blauran which was always crowded at night. Three times we ordered Uber from and to the hotel, and all of them could find the hotel easily and fast (well thanks to GPS too ya). From hotel to Gubeng station only took 15 minutes.

What a nice stay there. I definitely recommend Prime Royal Boutique Hotel to everyone.

Read also our journey in Surabaya.

31 August 2016

East Java Tour: Surabaya

This is part of my East Java Tour on 13th-17th August 2016 (4 nights 5 days):
The trip started with a chaos. We arrived in Soekarno-Hatta airport at 6.30 to check in Sriwijaya flight 8.05 to Surabaya. Suddenly the staff in check in counter said, "this ticket is for tomorrow flight." WHAT?! I just realized that I'd bought a wrong ticket, and my husband did not check it either.

We then hurrily went to Customer Service (CS) Sriwijaya to change the ticket. The staff said all flights to Surabaya for today was full. There are seats available in flight 7.00 to Surabaya transit Semarang, but unfortunately the plane was already boarding and gate closed. We went to CS Lion in the same terminal with Sriwijaya (1B) to buy a new ticket: the next available flight was at 14.30. We then went to terminal 1C to check in CS Batik: the next available flight was at 14.00. I didn't know where to go anymore because AirAsia and Garuda was quite far (need to take shuttle bus to terminal 2 and 3).

I checked Traveloka app, wondering if I could still book today's flights. Apparently yes, it gave me the list of today's flight starting around 11am. There was Garuda 11.15 and CitiLink 11.55. Ah, I then remembered about CitiLink. I asked Batik staff, where is CS CitiLink? It was in this terminal too, not far from CS Batik. We went there and asked for the earliest flight we could get. In the beginning he said 11.55, same one as in Traveloka but more expensive. I was about to book via Traveloka when the staff suddenly said they found another flight: 7.45. Oh we want that! Fortunately the price was still reasonable: 1.4 times our original Sriwijaya tickets. I could cancel and refund 30% from our Sriwijaya tickets. So total damage to fly to Surabaya was 1.4+0.7 = more than twice our original tickets haha *sad laughing*. Lesson learned: be more careful and detail when you book flight tickets. The damage would be more if I didn't fly today to Surabaya, because I already paid all the hotels and car rentals.

27 July 2016

When In Lhok

Moslems all over the world just celebrated a big holiday Ied al-Fitr (Hari Raya) 3 weeks ago. During Hari Raya holiday, I went to Aceh again to visit my parents with my husband and daughter. Since there was no direct flight to Lhokseumawe (Lhok), my hometown, we needed to transit in Medan first. From there, we could take another smaller plane for about 45 minutes, or take road trip by bus/car for about 7 hours.

On the flight from Jakarta to Medan, my little daughter (who's still an infant) cried the whole flight. She did not want to sit, and asked us to hug her while standing in the aisle of airplane. My husband had to stand up for the half of the trip (poor him). All the toys we brought, that usually could distract her, were not working at all. It was a nightmare for her, and for us who felt so sad seeing her screaming and crying. This was not her first flight; she had taken airplane last year but not as drama as this time. Maybe at that time she was still too little to be afraid. Fortunately, from Medan to Lhok we got in the car together with my cousin who lived in Medan and wanted to go home to Lhok too. No flying, no crying tantrums, but she got carsick and bored on the way. But still better than 2 hours in airplane.

We arrived at home in Lhok around 6pm, just on time before breakfasting. Sunset in Lhok was around 7pm, not 6pm like in Jakarta, so on that day I was fasting 1 hour longer than usual. It was a long tiring day, but we had a long rest the whole next day. It was also extremely hot during the day in Lhok, so we couldn't go out until in the afternoon. During the day I played boardgame with my siblings, and helped to ruin cook Timphan (Aceh traditional cake) for Hari Raya.

We finally went out at 4pm, and it was still super hot, oh my God! Our first stop was Bukit Goa Jepang (Japanese Cave Hill). Been living in Lhok for 15 years, then visiting Lhok 1-2 weeks every year since then, but I never knew about this place before. It was located on the main road Jl. Medan - Banda Aceh between Lhok downtown and Arun. Like its name, this cave was built by Japanese army in 1942, the last Japanese cave before Soekarno declared the independence of Indonesia in 1945. People believe it was used by Japanese army to spy on enemy coming from the sea. The cave is quite small, without bunker, only about 100 metres with some branches and dark scary rooms. Maybe because at that time there was no other visitors except 7 of us, no guards either, so it felt more eerie. It indeed had a scary history, where people involved in Communist Party being killed in 1965. It was also used as a temporary camp for rebels who were being caught by Indonesian army during Aceh Independence Movement (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka / GAM) civil war. This cave is located 100 metres above sea level.

Bukit Goa Jepang, they provided some helmets to use when going inside

24 February 2016

Alive Museum Ancol

Like I said in this post, I LOOOOVE trick arts. When I found out there was another trick art exhibition in Jakarta, I was so excited, and directly purchased the tickets. It is called Alive Museum, which is originated from Korea. It already has 14 branches in and out of Korea including China, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, and now in Jakarta, Indonesia, yay! I guess this exhibition is a permanent one, opened since 30 October 2015 and located in Ancol Beach City Mall 3rd floor.

This attraction contains 2 parts: Alive Museum which displays interactive optical illusion arts and paintings, and Alive Star which displays wax figures of famous people. Each section has entry ticket Rp.100,000, which I think quite expensive, but they have many discounts if paying with some particular bank cards, and also some websites like Groupon offer a good deal of it. To get inside Ancol complex itself, there is also entrance fee for each person and vehicle (around Rp.20,000).

02 February 2016

Sunday Morning Walk: Setu Babakan

When we all could wake up early on Sunday morning, and mostly could because our baby daughter wakes up early everyday including Sunday T_T, I'd like to spend the morning by walking outside in some outdoor spaces. From the nearby place like Banjir Kanal Timur (BKT) and Taman Tebet, until further place like Ancol.

Last Sunday Morning we went to Setu Babakan in Jagakarsa, South Jakarta. Using JORR (Jakarta Outer Ring Road) toll, the place could be reached within 30minutes only from my house by car. If you want to use public transport, you could take the train until Lenteng Agung train station then take blue angkot no.58, or you could take kopaja no.616 from Blok M.

11 January 2016

Footage 2015

In 2014, I did not travel much because of my pregnancy and then having a baby. In 2015, finally I could do some traveling mostly in the second half of the year when my baby already turned one. This is the list of my footage in 2015:
  1. Hyderabad, India. I went there for business trip but I got one whole day to explore the city and the foods.
  2. Singapore. After Hyderabad, I had 3 free days to travel. Many people warned how traveling in India was not safe for solo woman traveler. So, I did not extend my stay in India. I decided to extend my stay in Singapore instead, where my plane from Hyderabad to Jakarta was transited. Luckily my husband could join me to Singapore, so we traveled together, much like honeymoon, and remembering the old days when I was living there. At that time, my baby was around 7 months and left with my Mother. That was the first time I left her for a long time (9 days). Also that was the first time I visited Singapore again after 4 years since I moved out.
  3. Bandung, for a friend's wedding. This was the first time we went out of town together three of us as family.
  4. Aceh (Lhokseumawe, Banda Aceh and Sabang), during Ied Fitri holiday.
  5. Belitung, joining ITB alumnus gathering.
  6. Singapore, again for business trip. 
  7. Tasik, visiting my assistant's hometown.
  8. Cirebon, during Christmas holiday.
There are few trips above I want to write here, hope I have the time (and the willing) to post them soon this year. While for this year trips, I do not have any specific plan yet which destinations to go. I need to consider 3 people's plans (me, my husband, my daughter), not just me anymore. Personally I want to visit 12 Indonesian cities. Nothing fancy or far, just nearby cities in Java island perhaps. There are still many cities I never been in my they say beautiful country. 

Cheers for more traveling this year!

02 January 2016

My First eBook: Gyeongju

Hello, 2016! Goodbye, 2015!

One of my resolutions in 2015 was writing one traveling ebook. This plan was actually begun in July 2012, just after I moved out from Seoul to Jakarta. For the first ebook, I started to write about Gyeongju.... and it finally finished in the end of 2015.

Yeah, this pretty much sums it up

Some reasons I think why it spent 2,5 years to finish this ebook are:
  1. I had not moved on yet from Korea. Every time I wrote something about Korea, I felt melancholy and remembering the old days and then I could not continue writing.
  2. I tried to find my best writing style for this itinerary series, which would be a general template for my next ebooks, hopefully
  3. My life was busy with pregnancy and baby
Hopefully writing my next ebooks will not take too much time like this again.

So here it is: The Lost Wanderer Itinerary Series: Gyeongju, can be read and downloaded free in Scribd. It tells the story of my 4 days trip to Gyeongju in June 2012. Quite long time already ya, so perhaps the fare stated here is not too accurate anymore. When I traveled I usually noted down every detail like expenses, places and transportation. With these notes, the picture collection I have and some googling, I could remember and assembly the full story of my Gyeongju trip few years back.

I hope this ebook will be enjoyable to read, and be helpful for other travelers.