29 June 2018

One Day Trip to Shifen and Jiufen from Taipei

Shifen and Jiufen are traditional old towns both located in New Taipei City, the northeast side of Taipei City. Even though they were belong to different districts: Shifen is in Pingxi, Jiufen is in Ruifang, but they are quite nearby and can be visited in the same day. However, moving from Shifen to Jiufen or vice versa by public transportation is not so easy. I did some research and found that we need to take a train from Taipei to Ruifang Station then train to Shifen then train back to Riufang then bus to Jiufen, with some trains have low frequency. If you missed one train, you have to wait for another hour.

Since Jiufen is my most anticipated place I'd love to visit in Taiwan, I did not want to spend unnecessary time during commuting so we could have a lot of energy when roaming around the place. Therefore I booked a tour in Klook. It was practically a transport rather than a tour, because once we got into the area, we were free to go around the place by ourselves and would meet in a designated place at a particular time. You can read more information about booking Jiufen Shuttle Bus in this post.


Shifen is a mountainous area famous for sky lantern. There is a little village near train station with shops lined up along the railway selling lanterns, foods and souvenirs. Tourists can choose the lantern color(s), write their wishes on it and fly the wishing lantern to the sky, all helped by the shops staff. These are the list of colors and their meanings.

Single Color - NT$150
- Red = Health.Peace
- Yellow = Money.Wealth
- Blue = Career.Promotion
- Purple = Study.Test
- White = Future.Brightness
- Orange = Love.Marriage
- Green = Vigour.Success
- Magenta = Attraction.Popularity
- Pink = Bliss.Joy

Multiple Color - NT$200
- Red+Yellow+Blue+Orange
- Red+Yellow+Blue+Pink
- Red+Yellow+Green+Magenta
- Red+White+Purple+Pink
- Yellow+Orange+Green+Pink
- Red+Yellow+Purple+Blue
- Red+Yellow+Purple+Magenta

Usually the lanterns would fall in the nearest mountains, and the trash would be collected by the local people, usually elderly. They can get paid for each used lanterns they found, that's how the local government keeps the environment clean.

Writing and flying out our lantern wishes in Shifen, hope all of them come true

04 June 2018

A Day in Yangmingshan National Park Taipei

Taiwan is famous for its mountainous and natural scenery. About 53 times smaller than Indonesia, this country has 9 national parks in total. One of them is located on the northeast side of Taipei downtown, and accessible to visit in one day from Taipei City with public transportation. It is called Yangmingshan, named after a scholar from Ming Dynasty, and Shan means mountain in Chinese (similar to Korean's San). The place is good for seeing cherry blossoms, enjoying hot spring, and hiking. 

Since I came here in the middle of May, there was no longer cherry blossoms insights. We also did not intend to dip in one of its hot springs, since it was not too cold anymore. Furthermore, hiking was not an option for us who are traveling with a small kid. What we did was strolling around the park enjoying the fresh air and beautiful views. The place is quite friendly for baby with a stroller and elderly with a wheelchair.

What to See

Yangmingshan has a lot of scenic spots. The complete list can be seen on its official website, and they are all free! Here I want to highlight 2 of the places.

The detail Yangmingshan map can be downloaded here and here

29 May 2018

Booking Travel Deals in Klook

My recent trip to Taiwan has introduced me to a new travel platform that I might use often in the future. It is called Klook, which offers amazingly variant types of travel packages, especially in Asian destination, including activities and transportation. This post is not being sponsored, it is purely a review of my own experience using Klook. Here are the 3 packages I book in Klook when visiting Taiwan.

'Unite Traveler' 4G SIM Card (TW Airport Pick Up) for Taiwan

Except for posting on Instagram, I really need an internet connection for finding my ways around Taipei. Either I buy a SIM card with data connection or rent a wifi modem. Usually, people traveling in a big group prefer renting wifi more than buying SIM card because then they can share the connection. However, if you only travel by yourself or with another (adult) 1 person, like me and my husband (and our kid), buying a SIM card is cheaper. Klook offers many choices of Wifi and SIM card.

24 May 2018

Panduan Aplikasi Visa dan Ijin Bebas Masuk Taiwan untuk Turis Indonesia

Negara Taiwan yang disebut juga Republic of China (ROC) memiliki territory sendiri dan berbeda dengan mainland China yang bernama People's Republic of China (PRC). Taiwan tidak punya Kedutaan Besar di Jakarta, melainkan sebuah kantor perwakilan dengan nama Taipei Economic Trade Office (Teto) yang berlokasi di dalam kawasan Senayan Central Business District (SCBD) seberang Mall Pacific Place.

Dengan bermodalkan semangat mencari Tao Ming Tse tiket pesawat dan persyaratan lainnya, saya mendatangi kantor Teto tersebut untuk apply visa Taiwan buat saya, suami dan anak. Masuknya dari pintu belakang gedung dengan menukar kartu identitas. Sesampainya di Lantai 17, dokumen saya diperiksa terlebih dahulu oleh petugas di bagian depan pintu. Petugas yang baik hati tersebut memeriksa setiap halaman paspor saya dan menemukan ada Visa Korea.

Petugas: "Ini pernah ke Korea?"
Saya: "Iya pak, tapi visa nya udah expired 2 tahun lalu."
Petugas: "Bisa gratis ini, ga perlu apply visa lagi, ada formulir online yang harus diisi"
Saya: "Emang bisa pak udah expired?"
Petugas: "Gapapa asal masih di bawah 10 tahun."

Saya memang pernah baca artikel mengenai Bebas Visa Taiwan bagi turis Indonesia yang sudah mengunjungi negara Amerika, Kanada, Jepang, Korea, Australia, New Zealand dan Uni Eropa, tapi disitu tertulis untuk pemegang visa yang masih berlaku. Sedangkan visa Korea, Jepang, Australia dan Uni Eropa saya sudah expired. Daripada nanti sampai di Taiwan saya ditolak masuk, mending apply visa yang pasti-pasti saja. Tapi si Bapak Petugas kekeuh untuk saya isi formulir bebas visa itu. Karena lumayan kan saya dan suami bisa gratis, jadi cuma bayar visa buat anak saja. Isi formulir itu bisa online dan dicetak sendiri di rumah tanpa perlu datang ke kantor Teto lagi, tapi ga mungkin saya submit aplikasi visa anak tanpa ada dokumen saya dan suami, nanti ditanyain "ini kok anak traveling sendiri?" Jadinya pagi itu juga jam 10.30 saya balik ke kantor saya yang kebetulan dekat tinggal jalan kaki dari Teto, untuk mengisi formulir online bebas visa buat saya dan suami, mencetaknya lalu berniat kembali lagi ke Teto buat visa anak. Bapak Petugas mengingatkan karena hari itu hari Jumat jadi waktu aplikasi visa hanya buka sampai jam 11.30 (kalau biasanya jam 12.00), jadi saya punya waktu sejam kalau mau mengajukan visa hari itu juga. Sebenarnya jadwal trip saya ke Taiwan masih lama sih 2 bulan lagi, tapi pengennya proses ini cepat selesai.

Ternyata prosesnya memang mudah dan cepat banget, baik itu aplikasi visa berbayar maupun ijin masuk bebas visa Taiwan. Berikut saya akan jelaskan keduanya.

20 May 2018

Meet Rokki: Air Asia In-Flight Entertainment

Low-cost carrier means a boring flight? Not anymore. Some AirAsia flights now offer its passengers a free in-flight entertainment using your own gadget called Rokki

What you need to do is to switch on the wi-fi connection in your smartphone or tab, and connect to FREE AirAsia ROKKI Wi-Fi. Voila, you can enjoy music, videos, and games. Although I am not interested in any of its videos and movies, I quite enjoy its music. There are few categories of music such as Classics, Pop and Korean music with about 20 songs each.

Pop Music category contains a list of up-to-date songs

You can also read the news and shop online. Since it's a Malaysia airline, most news is about Malaysia though. While for the online shopping, I think it is not a big catch because who wants to wait for 1 month to get the items delivered to your home? And the price is not as cheap as Alibaba / Aliexpress.

As an online-savvy, the most feature I love is the free 2mb chatting plan for BIG members. BIG is the AirAsia membership program where you can collect points everytime you fly with AirAsia and get many promotions. Fortunately, I had already been a member for a long time, so I could easily log in to Rokki then get a one-time passcode to redeem the free chats. Once I redeemed, I could use WhatsApp, Line, KakaoTalk, WeChat, and Viber. It was so helpful for me that time because I needed to make some works discussions with my colleagues in WhatsApp (ha! Works keep bugging me even in my holiday). So if you want to use this free chat, better to sign up as the BIG member before your AirAsia flight, it's free! They also have another plan for unlimited chats and internet but of course, you need to pay extra.

Nowadays smartphones get cheaper and almost everybody in the world has at least one.  When big airline company makes expenses in the newspaper daily and entertainment devices on each passenger seats, AirAsia utilize passengers' own device and just invests in the server side. BIG thumbs up!

Currently, Rokki is only available in several AirAsia flights. Even AirAsiaX specializing in long flight does not have this :( Hopefully, they install this onboard entertainment service as soon as possible in all AirAsia flights.

31 March 2018

Spring Festivals 2018 in South Korea

Korea Selatan selalu seru dikunjungi di musim apa saja. Apalagi di saat musim semi sekarang ini karena ada banyak sekali festival yang diadakan masyarakat setempat untuk merayakan naiknya suhu udara yang mulai menghangat (tapi tetap berasa dingin bagi kulit Indonesia, hehe). Yang paling banyak dicari oleh turis, baik lokal maupun mancanegara, adalah festival bunga-bunga yang mulai bermekaran seperti sakura, azalea, tulip dan lain-lain. Tapi ternyata festival selain bunga juga cukup menarik loh.

Spring in Seoul Forest, April 2012

Tahun 2012 lalu saya pernah membuat peta 2012 Korea Spring Festivals. Dari 20-an festival waktu itu saya hanya sempat mendatangi 4 festival, dan di tahun 2016 mampir ke 2 festival musim semi yang lain lagi. Saya pun jadi kepikiran untuk membuat peta 2018 South Korea Spring Festivals. Berikut ini peta yang sudah saya buat di Google Maps untuk merangkum titik-titik festival musim semi seantero Korea Selatan. Ada sekitar 22 festival selama bulan April dan May 2018, tidak termasuk di bulan Maret yang baru saja lewat dan festival kecil lainnya. Sumbernya tentu saja dari Korea Tourism Organization, one spot for everything about visiting Korea. Cara lihatnya gampang banget, tinggal klik titik-titik lokasi yang berwarna biru di peta ini, dan akan muncul keterangan dan gambarnya.

30 March 2018

A Long Weekend Getaway to Lampung

Lampung is a province in the southernmost tip of Sumatra Island in Indonesia. it is the first part of Sumatra to encounter when crossing Sunda Strait from Java Island. Like usual seaport area, Lampung weather is very hot, even in rainy season. In February, the temperature was around 28-30 degrees. The capital city Bandar Lampung is one of the cities where you can enjoy sea and mountain together. The city is passed by the Barisan Mountains, a row of mountains stretched along Sumatra Island end to end between south and north. If you find a city with mountains view fascinating, like I do, then you should come to Bandar Lampung.

Barisan Mountains view from our hotel in the middle of the city

How to Get to Bandar Lampung From Jakarta

There are 2 ways to go to Bandar Lampung: by the air or by the sea. The flight from Soekarno Hatta Airport to Radin Inten Airport in Lampung takes about 1 hour. It sounds like a short trip ya? However you have to take into account the time you have to check in before departure, usually 1 hour for a local flight, not including the delays of take-off, landing and luggage claims. So total would be like 2.5-3 hours. That is the same amount of time you would spend by taking a ferry between Merak Seaport to Bakauheni Seaport. The duration of ferry moving is actually only 1.5 hours, but the waiting time for boarding and getting out of the ship takes about 1-1.5 hours. Therefore, there is not much different time between taking airplane and ferry. The differences are in the distance between your place in Jakarta to Soekarno Hatta Airport and Jakarta to Merak Seaport, and the distance between Radin Inten Airport or Bakauheni Seaport to your destination in Lampung.

25 February 2018

WTM: Tempat Wisata di Sentul City

Di Jakarta kita tidak akan pernah melihat pemandangan perbukitan. Well, kadang bisa sih melihat siluet Gunung Salak pagi-pagi banget saat cuaca cerah di area Jakarta Selatan dari gedung berlantai tinggi. Tapi berapa orang sih yang kantor atau apartemennya di gedung tinggi Jakarta Selatan dan bisa nongkrong disana pagi-pagi buta? Yang jelas bukan saya, karena saya tidak pernah melihat Gunung Salak (atau bukit apapun) di Jakarta.

Tempat terdekat dari Jakarta untuk menikmati perbukitan adalah Sentul. Kalau dulu Sentul terkenal hanya dengan sirkuit balap nya, sekarang area tersebut sudah semakin berkembang dengan banyak kompleks rumah bagus, restaurant enak dan tempat wisata keluarga. Walaupun masuk Jawa Barat tapi jaraknya cuma sekitar 50km dari Jakarta, jadi bisa pulang pergi 1 hari kesana tanpa perlu menginap. Bisa jadi pilihan untuk menghabiskan weekend tanpa harus ke mall. Berikut list tempat yang pernah saya datangi di Sentul dalam beberapa kali visit.

Hutan Pinus Gunung Pancar

Ini tempat yang lagi hits. Dari yang ga muncul spot nya di Google Maps sampai akhirnya sekarang muncul. Maklum awalnya kami sempat nyasar mencarinya (namanya juga The Lost Wanderer). Dulu waktu di search di Google Maps, diarahkan ke Sentul Paradise Park. Kami ikutin jalannya tapi kok ga nemu juga, sampai akhirnya hujan turun dan kami batal kesana. Kali kedua kesana untuk piknik bareng tetangga cluster. Salah satu udah pernah kesana jadi mobil kami tinggal ngekor aja di belakang. Kalau naik mobil bisa lewat tol jagorawi keluar di Sentul City. Lurus aja ikutin jalan utama ke arah Jungle Land. Setelah melewati Mesjid Jami' Al Munawarah ada bundaran belok kiri. Lalu di pertigaan sebelum Jungle Land belok kanan dan mulai ikutin aja jalan perkampungan, sampai deh. Jangan khawatir, sekarang sih udah bisa dicari mudah di Google Maps.

Berikut harga tiket masuk nya (ga tau kalau sudah berubah):
- weekend 7500/orang, 15000/mobil, 7500/motor
- weekdays 5000/orang, 10000/mobil, 5000/motor

Ada apa disana? Sesuai namanya ya ada banyak sekali pohon pinus menjulang tinggi yang bikin adem walaupun piknik di siang bolong. Kalau tidak bawa perlengkapan piknik, bisa sewa tikar dan ada warung makanan juga disana. Ada juga yang menyewakan hammock warna-warni yang diikatkan antara pohon, favorit spot foto nya anak muda kekinian dengan hammock bertingkat-tingkat. Kalau tidak bawa perlengkapan foto, disana juga ada fotografer keliling plus photo set yang sudah disiapkan. Kalau tidak salah biayanya Rp.50,000 yang bisa foto di 3 photoset cantik. Setelah itu kita bisa milih foto mana yang mau di copy dari si fotografer dengan biaya Rp.10,000/foto. Kedengerannya murah ya, tapi pengakuan dari temen ternyata hasil foto nya tu bagus-bagus banget jadi pengen copy semua foto nya hehe.

Untung nya kami kesana bareng temen-temen cluster rumah yang salah satunya punya kamera keren dan jago motret. Jadilah dapet foto kece macam ini.

09 January 2018

Relaxing Holiday in Banyuwangi

My last trip in 2017 was to Banyuwangi, the easternmost tip of Java. This trip to Banyuwangi was very relaxing for me. Not in terms of slow pace but because I did not need to research too many details about the destinations in our itinerary. Usually, in my family, I am the one who planned everything before and during traveling because you know... I am a Libra... I mean, I like to organize. However this time we booked a travel agent to guide us around, so we got a driver and a guide + photographer. Why? Even though still in Java island, I considered Banyuwangi was very remote, detached, isolated and so difficult to get around without local people, especially if you travel with elders and small kid like us. Been there now, I would say that... yeah, you need local people, but only for some places. Here is the detail of our 2 days journey in Banyuwangi.

Jawatan Perhutani Benculuk

Have you been dreaming to visit Lord of the Rings kinda place? If New Zealand is too far away and too expensive for you, Jawatan Benculuk in Banyuwangi can be an alternative. Some also say it looks like the forest of Alice in Wonderland, thanks to the mystical Trembesi trees. This area was used to be the storage of teak woods during Dutch colonialism. Now it's owned by Indonesian Government but mainly for tourism purpose. There is a very old open building unused for decades that has been taken over by a group of bats. Yes, you read it correctly, bats. However, they are harmless especially during the day and you could still enjoy sightseeing.

Jawatan Perhutani Benculuk (before I lost those sandals in Green Bay)

Other than nature itself, there are other interesting spots to take a picture such as a tree house and Grandong Rasta. Grandong is a traditional truck run by diesel machine usually used by villagers to transport harvests from farms. Why Rasta, because it was painted colorful: green, yellow and red, like a Rasta. This attraction is located about 30km from Banyuwangi city center, on the way to Green Bay.