Saturday, October 31, 2009

Travel Gear : An Update

Some months back I wrote about getting a few things for my travels.

So just an update:

(i) microfibre travel bath towel. Check. Got them in Singapore.
(ii) wide brimmed bush hat. Check. Got one in mossy green in Bako.
(iii) adidas kampung four stripes :). Check. Bought a pair in Kuala Penyu.

Changed my mind on :

(i) Combination locks because I found most of my little Tricircle padlocks that I can still use. Plus the good combilocks (TSA) I saw were pretty pricey and not within my budget.
(ii) Leech socks, because I'm just going to avoid leech-infested areas as far as possible. Easier, huh?

Oh and am definitely learning to travel light. So far I have only used my 38l backpack once, the rest of the time I rely on my trusty 28-30l backpack. I read somewhere that 3 pairs of every clothing is all you need for a trip, and I can't agree more. My back and shoulders will thank me for such light loads, especially when there's a lot of walking and moving around.

And yesterday I found and got a pair of binoculars, for my 'nature appreciation' outings.

So no more items on my shopping list, for now :)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Da Vinci : The Genius in KL

Since travelling throughout Europe is still a wish in the distant future, it'll be some time before I can realise my dream to see Leonardo's greatest works.

Well, what do you know : for now Italy can wait :), as Pusat Sains Negara has brought Da Vinci - The Genius, an acclaimed exhibition, direct and all the way from Italy, so we can get to know more about his life as an inventor, artist, scientist, anatomist, engineer and architect.

It runs from 1st October 2009 to 17 January 2010, so since I will have a trip to KL during the period, I will make it a point to visit the exhibition.

I need tickets, so here's Daniel The Gallivanter to the rescue. Thanks!

The tickets are RM25 per adult FREE, by the way. If you would like to have one FREE, all you have to do is read here.

Now to figure out where Pusat Sains Negara is.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Project Alpha : Kenny Sia, The Travelling Marathoner Blogger

Hands up - those who don't know who Kenny Sia is.

Celebrity blogger? Marathon runner? And now, fitness centre entrepreneur?

I had the honour (?) of meeting - or rather, bumping into - him twice :)

The first encounter was at the Borneo International Marathon in KK last year, and then this year it was at the Rainforest World Music Festival in Kuching. On both occasions, he was very friendly and obliging to small talk and such from blog stalkers like moi.

Took this pic of Kenny, view from the rear at RWMF 2009.

In Episode 7, Kenny the Shy One enjoys a massage session, cut short because he had to ...

So, in this Project Alpha that's currently running, he talks about not having a girlfriend because of the all the travelling that he does; which seems to be every other day from what his blog. I like to read his blog especially when he posts about his travels overseas (and for that reason I read Nicole too).

I say : haiya Kenny, very simple solution; bring your girlfriend along in your travelslah!

If not, I volunteer! As travel buddylah ... :P

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

It's A Rat's Life

An excerpt from an email I just received:

The Rat - Forecast for 2010

The Year of the Tiger is going to be fast-paced for the Rat, which in itself does tend to make them slightly uncomfortable.

But it is essential that they go with the flow and seize opportunities and take adventures – this year is going to be important for them. A lot of Rats may have dreamt of travel in 2009 but were unable to take trips either due to financial or work commitments. This year will be so different! Travel will feature strongly for many and if there is dream destination in mind, it may become a reality during 2010.

Notice the word, travel? *BIG GRIN*

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Indo-endo : Last Few Pictures

Some pictures from Jogja that I just received from Masami-san.

Me and Masami. She's a teacher in a kindergarten/playschool in Tokyo and is an avid traveller.

Walking towards the main site.

By this time it felt like we were getting baked under the sun.

The temples of Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sayang Kinabalu

"Tinggi-tinggi Gunung Kinabalu,
Tinggi lagi sayang sama kamu .."

The above lines come from the song every Sabahan should know, written by successful local songwriter Asmin Mudin, and sung by his brother Kimin Mudin. The song has been adopted by Sabah Tourism as Sabah's official tourism promotional theme song for the 10 years, and why not, I say.

View of a mist-enveloped Kinabalu at about 0730.

I love this song - so much so that when I hear it, it makes me want to get up and dance the sumazau, with my two left feet and gangly arms.

A short post for today; this morning we had an early start to Ranau to check out the Pesta Durian, Pesta Kubis and Mt Kinabalu Climbathon that's being held this weekend.

"Banyak sayur boleh pilih-pilih" - vegetable patches on the slopes.

We arrived early at Pekan Ranau, had breakfast and then went to the venue for the durian fest. Quite merry but not as much as I expected, went round the exhibits and decided since the programme only starts at 10 am, we would to go to Kundasang.

A display of various types of Durian Ranau.

A contraption to 'peel' the durian - come to think of it I've never attempted to open up one myself. Not good with parangs.

Not much to write about Pesta Kubis, since the main events started yesterday. Ended up buying durians and vegetables from the stalls.

Entrance to Kinabalu National Park was free for today to encourage visitors for the Climbathon. We could hear the gongs being played for the finishing runners and walked from the reception towards the Visitor's Centre where the finish line was. A bright clear day and hot sun - I must have gotten a very good dose of Vitamin D :)

Everytime in KNP, I always stop by at this information board.

View of the finish line - supporters and spectators waiting for the runners.

This guy was basking in the sun right after the finish line, complete with a book!

This was already about 1130 am.

And on the way back we swung by Kota Belud to catch a late glimpse of the Tamu Besar. At the KB junction we stopped at a stall to buy some more wild durians and some fresh tuhau.

'Dahit' and fresh tuhau.

"Apa guna pergi luar negeri,
Tengok Kinabalu,
Hati saya rindu"

Home is where the heart is :)

Now I am thinking of a short holiday in Kundasang soon.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Indo-endo : Bandung

The Lodaya 2 Pagi pulled out at 0930 out of Jogja Station and got underway towards Bandung, 385 kms away, estimated travel time 8.5 hours.

I tried to recall the last time I was on a long distance train journey, and I think it was those days on British Railways from Lancaster to London.

Very comfortable seats, I had the row all to myself so I took advantage of the extra pillows.

And pardon my jakun-ness, I thought the adjustable foot rest was a really nifty feature.

The main stops were at : Kutoarjo (1030), Kebumen (1100), Gombong (1115), Kroya (1145), Kawunganten (1250), Banjar (1400), Tasikmalaya(1500), Cipeundeuy (1600), and finally reaching Bandung at 1755 hrs.

The journey was quite scenic I must say; kampung scenes just like what we have of padi fields, kebun sayur, ubi kayu, pisang, small houses, musollahs, kids playing, mums doing household chores and so on.

Welcome billboard. Tobacco companies are still allowed to advertise, and they do so heavily both in print and on TV (great adverts, by the way).

Stasiun KA Bandung from Jln Kebon Kawong side. I got out from the other side and got rather lost.

Arriving early evening, I experienced the infamous machet (traffic jam) throughout the city and it gave me this massive headache, on top of trying to get more Rupiahs and getting a place to stay as I did not book in advance.

A bad picture of the machet; yeah that was how my head felt. Bad headache afterwards.

The kindly driver drove me to the money changer and later to Paris Von Java where I had my dinner and also bought a 3-pin adapter to charge my handphone and battery. So I did not manage to take any pictures at all on that day.

After confirming the next day's arrangements with the driver, I got back to the hotel tired and took my shower, then settled in. Their SuperSport channel had the Gunners vs BirmCit live so I caught the second half and watch them win 3-1. Classy.

The next morning, after breakfast I took a walk around the neighbourhood and went to look for an internet cafe as well.

At the 24 hour warnet; buzzing with kids playing online games; stank of cigarette smell. Urgh.

At 9:00 am I was back at the hotel where the driver was waiting to drive me to Tangkuban Perahu.

A sizeable weekend crowd was already there when we arrived just under an hour later. The sulphuric smell reminded me of Poring. The area where eggs can be boiled is further away, I decided I needn't see it.

Kawah Ratu, the main crater.

A painting depicting the whole TP recreation area.

Donation box for mosque restoration.

Quite the standard menu here.

Interesting, almost arrid, landscape.

Scarves for sale.

Horse rides.

He's selling these furry hats and bags.

On the way back, we drove through their horticultural zone, where all types of flowers and plants are on sale. Really pretty stuff, apparently people drive all the way as far as Jakarta to get their plants here.

I was back at the hotel at 1:00 pm and checked-out to find another place around Kebon Kawong. After inspecting Hotel Arimbi (very budget, basic), Perdana Wisata (out of my budget), Hotel Serena (okay, a bit old), I found Hotel Unik which belongs to the same company as Hotel Serena. Hotel Unik is newer and fresher looking, under 2 months old and located on the same alley as Kartika Sari.

Don't mind my mess :P

Tuty told me Kartika Sari is famous for its pastry (and only available in Bandung) so I stopped by and tried out the individual portions, quite yummy I must say. I especially liked their savoury local kuehs, my favourite is the potato croquette with a little green chilli sticking out of it, as well as the pulut-bakar-like kueh, I can't recall the names.

Inside spacious Kartika Sari. They didn't allow close-ups of the pastries though.

Baked cheese brownies - yummy, a combination of sweet and salty tastes. The brownies kukus is also soft and yummy.

After checking in I proceeded to Pasar Baru Trade Centre. It was so crowded, both with locals and visitors and I heard some Malaysians too. No pictures, I didn't feel comfortable whipping out my camera every now and then in the crowd. They sell many many things here over the 5 (?) floors, mostly clothings and bags and shoes.

Later, I decided to go straight to Dago on an 'angkot', a mini van that's everywhere in the city centre. I actually stopped at the wrong place (too far up) and had to take another angkot to go back down the road. So there at Dago I spent about 2 hours traipsing around the outlets. Didn't really damage my purse much, and managed to find a few things that I wanted.

Coffee break.

Batangor and siomay with its gravy. Tasty.

Throwing caution to the wind, I had a quick bite of batangor and siomay from a street vendor and it was very tasty. After another hour or so, I left Dago to return to the hotel, also in an angkot, albeit I had to switch angkots halfway as the direct angkots have ceased service for the day.

On my last night in Indonesia, I had a very late dinner at this newish Chinese resto called Golden Duck and then walked 15 minutes to get to an internet cafe (actually it's inside someone's house); got back to my hotel at around midnight. Woke up late the next morning, had breakfast and went for my morning walk before stopping by at Kartika Sari to buy some brownies back.

My last meal in Bandung, which was the breakfast at the hotel. Anything rice always comes with the kerupuk.

Checked out and went to the airport early, only to be bored as it was really small and there's nothing to browse. Long story short, was in LCCT by 1830 and had to wait for my 2125 flight to KK.

* * * * * * * *

Between the two cities, I'd go back to Jogja if given the chance. Indonesia is a very affordable place to travel to, even on a budget, you'd have options. Now, if you intend to splurge, it's even better!

One day, some day?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Indo-endo : Jogjakarta Part 2

A mish-mash of my Jogja trip.

I was quite surprised with myself that I did not really had much appetite for food while in Jogja. Maybe it's because I was chugging water all the time for fear of collapsing in the heat. Tsk tsk, I can be such a puteri lilin sometimes ;P.

I asked what is a must-eat in Jogja and was told it was Nasi Gudeg, which is basically rice with stewed jackfruit, served with rendang-like chicken and kulit cape ('sapi' skin, I found out). It comes in many variations; with chicken, komplit etc. Mi baso was everywhere too mainly sold by pushcart vendors.

So, for my first meal there I had nasi gudeg ayam at the roadside stall ('lesehan pojok') along Jln Malioboro, and ordered some lalap as well; a side 'salad' of raw sliced cabbage, cucumber and some ulam served with super hot sambal that had me in tears. Later I was told my becak-man that the locals won't be seen dead eating at those stalls, it's only for tourists and out-of-towners.

Street vendors are everywhere, here the lady sells nasi gudeg.

Wasn't crazy with the taste of this teh botol, I thought it tasted very 'pharmaceutical' but it was strangely addictive especially when served chilled.

I did not have the heart (nor guts) to try out Kopi Luwak - firstly it's USD 8 per cup and secondly, it's basically coffee beans out of a civet's backside.

After dinner I walked the whole length of Malioboro, with a side swerve into the mall, where I tried a keropok ikan Palembang (just okay) and also got myself a refreshing glass of yummy lovely avocado juice, drizzled with chocolate syrup (why? I forgot to ask them to hold this).

Wandered in and out of the many batik and souvenir shops, subjecting myself to endless friendly harrassment from the sales staff. Oh dear. I got a tee and a Mraz hat :)

Becak-men were also a plenty, and I spotted these interesting ones:

Dedicated to RvP.

This is for Stevie G.

Barca. Should be Henry.

This guy, I don't know who from Inter.

Somewhere near the hotel, I went to a batik painting shop; apart from the common patterns there were some really good artwork. Got myself a small black and white one.

Art Studio owner - I forgot his name.

Went to bed at midnight, drifted in and out of sleep, with a little bit of anxiety on the possibility of missing my 5:00 am pick up to the temples the next morning. Oh, and I couldn't charge my phone or camera battery as they didn't have a three-pin adapter. Hmmph.

* * * * *

Bedhot Resto, where I had lunch of Java fried rice and spinach soup.

eFeM Resto, where Masami and I had dinner before the Ramayana show.

I found the gangs (back alleys?) of Jln Sosrowijayan fascinating; they deserve a post of their own.

* * * * *
After my temple outing, I went to the Tugu train station to buy my ticket to Bandung the next day. The one-way ticket on executive class costs Rp 160,000; with an ETD 0927 hrs and ETA 1745 hrs.

The counter service was painfully very leisurely; the young girl was thankfully all smiles.

Waiting for my 0927 Lodaya Pagi train.

I was a bit fearful of crossing the rails just like that, even though it's safe as there are security personnel here and there. Railwayttrackcrossingphobia, that's a new one you read it here first.

I enjoyed Jogja very much, it's small and laid back yet big enough to have everything and it's got some kind of hippie vibe :). There were some places I didn't get to go like the Kraton (closed early) and Kota Gede so I really would like to return one day.

Next : onwards to Bandung!