Friday, March 22, 2013

People I Met From Jakarta to Yogyakarta

People I met along the way always contributes to the memorability quality of the trip. It just happens that my last year's accidental solo backpacking trip to Indonesia has brought me to meet awesome locals!(Accidentally solo because my travel-mate came down with diarrhea and flown home the next day!) And I wasn't even a member of yet. =P

I've spent two full days in Jakarta. My contact person there was a guy named Helga whom I met during MSS2011. Our second meeting was when he and his other friend, Singgih came to Kuala Lumpur where I happily toured them around KL and Putarjaya. (Entry here) And months later, we met again. This time in Jakarta, the city in which at that time was working at an IPTV company.

With Adik Helga. This picture is from this entry. His hair didn't change much. He he he. 
I arrived in Jakarta via train from Semarang. Before that I spent my days in Semarang with a couple of doctors from Palembang who were there on a holiday. Helga picked me up from the station and we headed to his office. I had the good fortune to sleep in Helga's friend's house and was brought to some places of interest as blogged here. The part I forgot to mention was meeting up with fellow tweep and blogger named Aditya Eka Prawira. ( @aditoo )

We arranged to meet up at Sabang, a walking distance away, near the food stalls called BSM. It was my first time meeting Adit and boy, was he tall! 184 cm! He was attending a function nearby and went to meet us afterwards. Like all the Indonesians guys I've met, he had a clean face (no face hair, no acne. LOL) And I noticed he had very long fingers! *runcing siot!
With Aditoo. Pictured at Helga's office where we hang out until way past office hours. And YES, he's that tall! 
After spending the afternoon with Helga and Adit (well, I spent most of the time napping on the couch! hahaha!), I was a bit sad that we had to part ways with Adit after such a brief meeting. Maybe we could meet next time when I'm in town ya Adit? Hehe.

Helga in the meantime, had to rush for his night classes, so he brought me to meet his girl friend named Dani. She was working in the same building and I was delighted to learn that she'll be hosting me for the night! (gratis!) I had to wait for her to finish up her tasks first. But luckily there were free drinks and wi-fi, so I didn't mind that much. Only moments later did she bring me to her humble room, blocks away from the office.

I've learnt that rooms for monthly rentals in Jakarta are very costly. A room that can fit a pint size bed, small table, a closet and with just enough room for another person to sit on can cost about 500,000 rupiahs per month. I'm thankful that despite of Dani's small room, she was willing to take me in for the night. (Thanks! *sob!) The rent includes a shared bathroom outside, used by maybe 10 other occupants in that area. Hehe.  

A humbling experience indeed. 

I especially liked her TV though, because with only a CRT TV, she can still enjoy IPTV services! More advanced than what I use in Malaysia! Opps.. forgot, I don't have a TV. T__T

The next day, Dani, Helga and I spent the day touring Jakarta as blogged by Helga here

I managed to catch some pre-nuptial pictures of them during that day. he he he *naughty grin

Pictures taken during the rides on Trans-Jakarta and also some at TMII (Taman Mini Indonesia Indah)
Note: Hel and Dani, please don't kill me. Hehe.

After that, Dani and I rushed back to her room so that I could pack for my 12 hours bus ride from Jakarta to Yogyakarta!
12 hours bus ride! 

Helga picked me up at her place and we threaded through Jakarta's traffic jams to meet up with Singgih. Riding on the back of a scooter with my big rucksack flailing wildly on my back through the hectic roads of Jakarta was the scariest experience ever as a backpacker thus far.


Singgih (left) and Helga. with their scooters. Also my main transport in Jakarta. =)
I'm not quite sure where we boarded the bus. Not even sure if the place was actually a central bus station in Jakarta. Hehe. All I know was that Singgih bought the tickets, refused my money later and we boarded the bus from the side of a busy highway. Helga will be joining us in Yogyakarta the next day via flight.

Singgih is a specky, very quiet guy who plays PSP and collects anime collectible items. But a very good guy. Through out the 12 hours journey together, he waited for me to finish my prayers before eating together, almost paid for my food (but I managed to stop him) and tucked me in on the bus!

Tucked me in? Hehe.

I was shivering from cold on the bus and Singgih told me there was a blanket on the top of the seats. He pulled it out for me and as I gathered the blanket around me, he actually helped tucked it in at both sides of me. Aww! So sweet! Haha! Slept peacefully after that...

...until we reached Yogyakarta...... and met with Fauzan... Helga's pre-arranged couchsurfing host there.

Clockwise from upper left : Gudeg (Yogyakarta's special dish), the boys at Mailoboro Street, Vredeburg, Pos Indonesia Building, statue of a big foot there, and onde-onde bought at the food market,
Fauzan lent us a motorbike to use and with him on his own motorbike, showed us where to eat Gudeg (as seen in the above picture). Since it was a Friday, we only went out to explore Yogya's city after the Jumaat prayers. We did this by using Trans-Yogyakarta, a much smaller sized bus compared to the ones in Jakarta. Thankfully, Fauzan's house was very near to the bus station. =)

After much delay on his flight, Helga joined us only after Maghrib. By then, we already covered a lot of area.

Singgih at Alun-alun Kidul Kraton Yogayakarta during the evening.
I particularly liked this picture below even-though there's no sunset to be seen. But the colors of the evening took my breath away!
Some where on the way to Alun-Alun Kraton. 
When we finally met up with the tired and late Helga, we headed back to Fauzan's place and ate dinner there. Stalls selling food were open when before were not, and mats were set up all over the place. We just chose a spot to sit and ordered our dinner. Thanks to whom who paid for mine! I forgot who though. Haha!

The night was spent in Fauzan's room he lent us (Fauzan would be sleeping in his housemate's room). There were overall four rooms in the house. The other three were occupied by Fauzan's housemates which consists of a married couple and two other single guys. Being the gentlemen that they are, Helga and the other guys gave me the room while they crashed outside in the living room. That was so noble of them to do so! =)

The next person I met in Yogyakarta deserves a whole entry on it's own. Aisehh.. till then... thanks for reading this very long post!!! 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Butt Naked on a Train to Bagan, Myanmar

Every time I meet Lily, she'd laugh because she says I reminded her of my unfortunate "naked" experience on the train. (Embarrassed for life! Yes she insists I blog about it!)

In the meanwhile, due to the lack of updates from my side, I'm enjoying the blogposts made by my fellow travel-mates cum bloggers to a recent trip to Myanmar last two months. Here are some of the posts that they have published.

Lilyriani the Globetrotter
My experience is some-what similar to them in many aspects except this particular one on a train from Yangon to Bagan. It was a very hot afternoon and I didn't like swimming in a pool of sweat. If we were to sleep on a moving train for 18 hours, I was determined as hell to do it after a refreshing bath.

The only thing that stood between me and a good bath is a bumpy train ride, a small bathroom with water pressure more slow than my grandmother's piss and the most vital one....

.... the lock from INSIDE of the bathroom was FAULTY!

Unfortunately, I only realized the third problem after I was butt naked. Sigh. T__T

The train was on the move and I just changed into a clean "sarong batik" and a loose short sleeved t-shirt, getting ready for a bath. With only a 70 cm x 40 cm hand towel and some toiletries,  I headed, though swaying violently from side to side, to the nearby toilet room next door. (Phew, thank god I didn't have to awkwardly pass people on seats. LOL)

My personal drawing of how the interior toilet looked like. One I'll never forget!
Determined with only one goal in mind, I sat on the toilet bowl and began undressing. Toiletries were put securely on the sink. Towel and cloths on the rails of the window. And the hose from the pipe was turned into a hand shower.

So you guys do the math on how I bathed in that cramped bathroom.

Problem arise when one hand was holding a soap and another the hose.... and then suddenly "KABOOM"!

I froze. Impaled as strong gust of winds came rushing in the room. My eyes became narrowed slits (if only I was a cat that is.) and I almost screamed!

The door on my right has burst WIDE OPEN! Swinging to and fro, violently slamming the wall due to the moving train.... Ahh.. what sight I would've made if some-one actually saw me in that EXACT POSITION. Well, I prayed nobody did. 

An eye-sore to some... a dream come true to others. Perhaps? =P

Scrambling on my feet, I hurriedly grabbed the door and pulled it in. The lock failed me. This time I had to hold the door whilst spraying myself with water. It was not a comfortable situation. During that time, I truly wished I was Goddess Siva who has 8 pair of hands! 

When I finally survived the ordeal, I came back to the room where my other travel-mates were sitting. Whisked right in as if nothing had happened and warned them to lock the door from the outside because the inside lock was faulty. They never knew what nightmare I've gone through moments before.

Until now. =P

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Touring Melaka with a Nepalese and two Indonesians

Alid Abdul was one of the first couchsurfer and Indonesian travel blogger that I met during my first trip to Surabaya last year. He helped introduce Trovulan (historic place for Majapahit's ruins) to me and also became my tour guide and driver. It was only customary that I should return his favor by doing the same if he's ever in Kuala Lumpur. Luckily for him and his friend, Adit, I was finally able to return his kindness.

Coinciding with his date of arrival, I was also having a guest from Nepal. Since all three of them have never been to Melaka, I decided to bring all three of them to Melaka. As the saying goes, kill two birds with a stone. =P

The day started with me fetching my friend from Nepal, Radeep and then head to the airport to fetch Alid and his friend. After that, we'll head straight to Melaka.
Our first visit for the day. the Christ Church and the Stadthuys, Melaka
The bad thing is... I'm not a local and I don't know my way around this historical world heritage city. For example, I didn't know what to visit and where to eat! Eventually we had to eat at a food court despite knowing all the good food around! Haha! So I'd like to say sorry to my unfortunate guests for any shortcomings from my part as the host. The trip would've been better. *nangis

The large signage we saw before entering Melaka.
We only managed to get a map of the walking trail in Melaka when we absentmindedly entered a museum about ChengHo. The owner, despite his best efforts and heart warming introduction of the museum, didn't manage to lure us to pay the RM5 for the ticket entrance. Hahaha. Instead, he had to part with one of his Melaka's map. For that, we were very grateful. Makasih uncle!

We ventured into Jonker's street (methink) in search for an old Dutch House. It was scorching hot and everyone was swimming in their own sweat. Haha. My stomach was also growling loudly as I didn't had my breakfast yet.

My foreign guests that day, Radeep (left), Adit (middle) and Alid. Guess which ones are from Indonesia?
I didn't take much photos that day. I was pretty much amused by watching these two scoundrels posing like models in front of their camera fitted on a short sturdy tripod. They were jumping here and there. Posing provocatively against walls. Pouting their mouths forward. They actually looked like professional models by the looks of it. Hahahaha! *narcis

But once in a while I did get to enjoy the historic buildings there. So here's my personal collection of pictures. It was indeed a beautiful day. Thank god for that!

Clockwise from upper left : backside of A'Famosa Fort, the insides of St. Paul Church (situated on the hill), Melaka riverside, St. Francis's Church. 
I particularly liked walking beside Melaka's river. I could feel the sense of history from there as if I was brought back in time waiting for my trader hubby to get back from the sea.. #eh Hehe.

Eh.. he was not my point of focus!
Alid actually ran in front of my camera when I tried taking this shot. Nahh.. padan muka. Am gonna post that picture since you ruined it! (see above)

Ahh.. much better. The sublime brick walkway beside Melaka's river. 
We headed back after letting Radeep get his sights set on the sea nearby and the boats. Despite seeing the ocean for the FIRST time in Singapore and again in Penang, he still becomes bonkers every-time he sees one! Haha! (Oh my, I think he did warn me not to laugh at him about the ocean thing. hehe)

When we headed back, rain suddenly made its way unto earth. Thankfully we were already in the car heading back to Kuala Lumpur.

Oh wait!!

We stopped at Putrajaya first before reaching KL for more pictures taking. Hehe.

OK, only after that did we head back via Puchong to avoid KL's massive traffic jams. =)

Thus ends my role as a host to my Nepalese and Indonesians' friends. Adios and keep on traveling peeps!

Monday, March 11, 2013

A 24 Hours Trip to Singapore

It was a last minute decision. Not planned by me but rather by my friend from Nepal who is currently in KL for an international symposium and dreams of Singapore. His plan was to go there on Friday night, get into Universal Studios on Saturday and go back on the same day! I think I was asked four times to follow him and I accepted after knowing everything was paid for except food. His friend was tagging along too which makes three of us for this trip.

So off we go!

We took the 8:30 pm bus from Bangsar via First Coach and from there it will enter Singapore, Novena Square to be exact. Since the bus tickets were fully paid by my friend, I only brought my dear self, a small rucksack (filled with some snacks) and only SGD 4 for food. Haha! (I've been to Singapore before and know for a fact that rice with chicken costs around SGD 3.50) =P

The coach from Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur to Novena Square, Singapore. It took approximately FIVE hours.
My review on First Coach
  • Via train from KL Central is cheaper.
  • Spacious seats
  • Have indoor entertainment with selected movies. Only thing, you need to bring your own earphones.
  • A bun and water is provided.
  • Stops only one time for self refresher, to eat or toilet time. 
  • I don't like the fact that the driver can't stop me by Angkasapuri's roadside during the drive back to KL. Alas, who am I to complain?
  • Overall rating : I won't use this transport again. Will try another bus service. =)
We reached Novena Square by 2 am on Saturday morning and waited for a taxi by the road-side.
It was sooo early. I didn't know what to expect once we reached Sentosa island. Luckily the taxi took us to the casino passenger drop-off at Resorts World Sentosa. There was no fee to enter the island so I brought them to see USS's front gates and the water front before we settled on a sleeping place.

And voilla.... this is where we crashed for the night!!!

This is where my friends slept that night. I on the other hand slept under another tree. 
The benches were actually full before the night ended. I guess people can actually sleep here before sun-rise. Haha.  I drifted to sleep and woke moments later by the sounds of people walking past or my sleeping neighbor shifted from side to side. I think I was able to sleep only a few hours. T__T

Before daybreak, I immediately went to the toilet to freshen myself. Our cheapskate breakfast only consisted of the chicken paus I brought with me. Since USS counter tickets opened only an hour earlier than 10 am, we decided to explore the place.

Clockwise from upper left : the closed USS ticket counters, the escalator to Vivocity across the bridge, Sentosa signage, and the wooden boardwalk on the bridge.

Unfortunately, when we reached VivoCity, it was still closed. Haha! So we headed back to wait for USS to open instead. Around 9 am was we able to buy the tickets. Hurrayyy!!

USS Counter Price Tickets:
Adult - SGD 74.00 for full day pass (*pengsan! Sebbaik bukan ku yang bayar. Wakaka!)

The thing about USS during a weekend in the middle of the month is.......... there's not that much of a crowd!!! And we actually got time to RIDE ALL THE ATTRACTIONS! Well, except the roller coasters as my friends weren't up to it. *sigh. One of my friends actually had a headache after riding a some what roller-coaster ride inside the Ancient Egypt's building. I actually laughed at him. Hehe.

Of course, the very first ride that we took was the Transformer's Ride! It was total AWESOMENESS!

You are the only reason why I wanted to go to USS, oh my future husband (cc: Bumblebee)
We attended almost all the live shows possible and entered all the themed zones as listed below:
  • Hollywood - Met Betty Boop. And watched Hollywood Musical Rock. Also witnessed how a hurricane is created in a studio! 
  • New York - mimics New York cityscape. Good for picture taking!
  • Sci-Fi City - Transformer The Ride!
  • Ancient Egypt - met some mummies. Bags were not allowed inside but at least the lockers were free for the first 45 minutes. =)
  • The Lost World - Rode on a boat in a Jurassic themed park.
  • Far Far Away - Watched donkey singing and interacting with us LIVE and went on a 3D ride to meet Shrek and his mud friends.
  • Madagascar - A cute ride. More suitable for kids.
  • Waterworld ( I think this is the newest addition and not featured on USS's map yet.) - watched an action-packed show with people actually doing seriously dangerous stunts! 
We ended our USS trip by 3 pm and headed into town via taxi. The first stop was Simling Square, an electronics center but reading from online reviews, I've heard that many people got cheated here. Alas, I was only there to do some window shopping and my money was saved. For now, at least.

Eventually, we stayed and had lunch there. Since it was raining heavily outside, we decided to explore every floor from top to bottom. When we finally checked the last store, the rain has stopped. Later we headed to the nearby stores and after asking for directions to the nearest Money Exchange Counter, we found ourselves in Bugis Street.

This is my first time here. I missed this during my last visit!
I bought a SGD 1 strawberry banana drink here and it was delicious! Will certainly come back for more next time around. My friends didn't like the smell at the entrance though. What smell? It was only durian smell, my favorite fruit. Hehe.

Around 6:30 pm we hailed a taxi and headed back to Novena Square to catch our 8:30 pm bus back to Kuala Lumpur. There was a shopping mall near by and that's where we spent the last remaining hours in Singapore. More window shopping!

Later on that night, we reached Bangsar at around 2 am. Me being the super cheapskate that I am decided to walk from Bangsar to Angkasapuri where my car is parked. It took us about an hour to get there. And my right foot actually bled from that adventure. 

And thus ends my 24 hours trip to Singapore. With only SGD4. =)))


Monday, March 4, 2013

Sabah - The Land Below the Wind

Lagu Negeri Sabah (Sabah's State Song)
 Tanah Airku (My Homeland)

 Sabah tanahairku, (Sabah, my homeland)
Negeri kita yang tercinta, (Our beloved state)
Pemuda-pemudi semua marilah, (Come every young person)
Bangunlah bersatu semua. (Everyone wake up and be united)
 Marilah bersama serta maju jaya, (Let's get together and prosper) 
Merdeka sepanjang masa, (Independence at all times)
Bersatu segala bangsa sentosa, (All races become one for peace)
Sabah negeri merdeka. (Sabah a freed state)

I sang this song every morning and everyday during my schooldays. My family used to live in Semporna for a couple of years and it was there where I took my UPSR examinations (major test for elementary schools before enrolling into middle schools). 

A lot has happened during this couple of days. But I'm not gonna blog about that. 

Being a local in Sabah, I didn't do much touring around Sabah as a traveler. Only last year did I decide to follow a group of my friends to travel from Kota Kinabalu to Ranau and visit key attractions along the way. The itinerary can be read here

Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain in Malay Archipelago standing tall at 4,095 m.
Lemme share you some facts about Sabah before blogging about my trip. (extracted from here
  • Sabah is one of the 13 member states of Malaysia
  • Population - 3.1 millions
  • It is the SECOND largest state in the country after Sarawak
  • Sabah is often referred to as "Land Below The Wind", a phrase used by seafarers in the past to describe lands south of the typhoon belt.
  • Kinabalu National Park was inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 2000.
  • The western part of Sabah is generally mountainous, containing the three highest mountains in Malaysia. 
  • Over three quarters of the human population inhabit the coastal plains
  • Has many places that are either designated as national parks, wildlife reserves, virgin jungle reserves, or protection forest reserve. 
  • Sabah has one of the highest population growth rates in the country as a result of illegal immigrants (27.81% of it's population are of Non-Malaysian citizens - Filipino, Indonesian)
  • Malay language is the national language spoken across ethnicities, although Sabahan dialect called Baku is different from West Malaysian dialect of Johor-Riau
  • Sabah also has its own slang for many words in Malay, mostly originated from indigenous or Indonesian words. (ah-ha!)
  • The people of Sabah are divided into 32 officially recognized ethnic groups, in which 28 are recognized as Bumiputra, or indigenous people. 
  • Collectively, all persons coming from Sabah are known as Sabahans and identify themselves as such.

So reading from these facts, me having the bloodline of both Bajau and Kadazan-Dusun ethnicity, I'm actually just an indigenous person. =P

Kota Kinabalu city viewed from Bukit Bendera. 
Oh.. another thing to note which I found to be a very sad fact - as of 2010, Sabah is the poorest state in Malaysia with a GDP growth was 2.4%, the lowest in Malaysia behind Kelantan. Rich in flora and fauna but still slacking in terms of economy. Let's pray for a prosperous future for my fellow Sabahans OK? =)

More blogposts on Sabah to come! Ciao!