Monday, December 8, 2014

Sight seeing around in Sydney - My visit to Aussie pt.2


Sydney is a delightful place, and I am not saying that just because the weather there was warmer than Perth when I was visiting. The pilot mentioned "sunny paradise" when We were landing compared to "the gloomy weather at Perth", and I think he is right in a way. Australia is still Australia, so their definition of warm may differ from the warm back home in Indonesia, because the winds were still blowing chills up my body when I was walking around Sydney with My Family later that day.

After settling in at our apartment hotel, we waited as My cousin came and picked up my Auntie who was traveling with Me to Melbourne with him to visit his house. Before he left, we spent a day going around the Sydney CBD ( guess Australians really love their central business districts, they name their downtown area the CBD for some reason ). 

What is a post about Sydney without the picture of the Opera house?
The atmosphere in Sydney has a metropolitan kind of feel. Sure the shops close early like they do in Perth, but during the day, there is a considerable amount of traffic, pedestrians, and bike messengers going around their daily bustle. There are more shopping centers here than what I experienced during my stay in Perth. Me and my Family rarely took the bus here, the only public transport I remember boarding was my taxi to and from the airport, and the metro train that I hopped on with my Cousin when we went to the Sydney Opera house. Ooh, a little fun fact, don't eat donuts or any other finger food when you're walking around the opera house harbor, pesky little bastards might swoop in from the air and steal your donuts while you are freaking eating them!


After My auntie left with my Cousin, We finally had the whole next day in Sydney to ourselves. My mum had an idea of visiting Darling harbor since before we even book our tickets to Australia. The place is quite nice if you plan to spend the day without seeing a lot of shops. Let me put it this way, Darling harbor is basically a bay area, with an aquarium, a wax exhibit, a mini zoo, and lots of cafes in it.

We bought tickets to Madame Tussauds, the Sydney aquarium, and the Sydney Eye, because there was some sort of promo at the visitors center. The Madame Tussauds wax exhibit was pretty cool. The place is mostly filled with wax statues of famous Australians, but some famous pop icons are also present as their wax counterparts. The Madame Tussauds museum is definitely worth a visit if you plan to go play around in Sydney. The Sydney aquarium however was a bit of a disappointment. I think that the aquarium could be more lively, with more diverse collection of animals, and the fish tank cleaned more often. My mum was especially disappointed because she cant meet Pig and Wuru the two Dugongs who were on vacation, because their space was being revamped by project workers.


The last spot I went to see is the Sydney eye tower. At first I thought the tower was in Darling because that is where I bought the ticket, it turns out that it was located back in the new Westfield mall downtown. Me and My family walked all the way back to the CBD, then looked for Westfield, and finally went up the tower to see some metro sights. We waited for about an hour for the sunset and saw some cool buildings with their lights on. It feels cool how We are taller than most buildings there, kinda scary also. Afterwards We went back to the hotel to pack for Melbourne, but We stopped by a halal pizza place beside our hotel for some well earned grub.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Perth - My Kick-butt visit to Aussie pt.1

The family and I went to attend Karina's graduation ceremony from Curtin in Perth on September 8th, and we thought; "hey, we've got the visas, why not stay a little while longer and see Australia for a change?". Not to mention, We wanted to take my Auntie to her son who lives in Melbourne later on.

The hay street mall at a Saturday night
I arrived in the evening in Perth and we didn't have much places to see around town because most businesses close at 5. Fortunately most restaurants and food joints are open until around 8 p.m. I've heard stories from My uncle that Australia is cold in September, even though it is actually spring there.

He is right, it was really cold out after Maghrib when I decided to take a nice evening walk and get some food. Most of the central business district lights out, the mall is closed, but fortunately we found a triple threat fast food joint which sells kfc, hungry jacks, and a kebab place. We stopped by the kebab place because the seller was making funny eyes with My sister and so are the majority of the guys at the kebab place.

Karin was not the only one getting attention in Perth. I was getting compliments from the girls everywhere in Perth. Let it be Australians, and possibly some drunk Indonesian girls because when I was walking through a pedestrian crossing, some girls in a car yelled out to me in Indonesian before speeding off into the night.

The Freemantle "round house"

Less traffic in Freo than downtown Perth
One of the places that is one of Perth's attractions is Fremantle, where the Fremantle prison is. Honestly, I agreed to go here because I just like sight seeing, I didnt care much about the prison. After We were politely declined by one of the cruises bound to Freo (Fremantle's nickname made by the locals), We decided to go there by train. We took the transperth train from Wellington street and rode it all the way to Fremantle (Make sure you buy the 2-zone ticket if you are taking the same route as me). I learned a lot on a single train ride, one of them is that you can bring almost anything on board with you. Some dude brought his bike in, and an old couple brought their luggage with them.

I had a quick conversation with the train station officer at the Fremantle station. He showed me some spots to hit during my day visit to Fremantle. He showed me a nice fish and chips place by the coast, the market near the roundhouse which he says "... sells cheap t-shirts from thailand...", and more importantly the Fremantle prison. Turns out that there are 2 places he considers prisons. First is the first ever prison in Freo which is called the "roundhouse". And a second one (the one you see on the Perth tourism brochure) is the old fremantle prison.

The roundhouse is cool but it is actually very small. It only has 5 abandoned cells and a well, not to mention it was near the beach so it was very hot and windy. I didn't visit the big prison because my dad thought that it was still an active prison when We walked there and turned back before seeing the front entrance (don't worry, it is an actual attraction. So it is safe to visit there). I did not spend more time in Freo afterwards because we were tired and had things to do back in city.



Now what would be a great thing to do while in the city where one of Karin's University campus is located? Visiting it and buy some merch that's what. The Curtin Perth campus is very big, so big that it is bigger than my campus back at Binus. We took a walk around campus and even stopped by the school store near the students guild, that is where I got my cool blue hoodie in the picture.

After seeing most of campus and the commerce building, took a little peak in the engineering lab. Boy do they have some cool stuff going on in there. They apparently like to keep the building secure by having a keypad in front of the entrances, and some with keycard clearances. So only those who have business with the campus laser robot can enter the pavilion.


Later that Evening is the big event. The main reason for this whole Australian trip, Karin's graduation! The graduation ceremony is held in the esplanade plaza near Barrack street, so it is easy to get there once You get on one of the free CAT buses bound for the Barrack street Jetty. There are a lot of happy faces in the auditorium including My sister's, because who else would not be happy to get their degrees right?

The ceremony opens with a traditional aboriginal welcome (In Australia, I believe it is customary to kick start any event with an Aboriginal greeting) and a traditional didgeridoo dance. Then it is time for the doctorates to receive their degrees. I am surprised there are many non-Australians who completes their doctorate degree in Curtin, there is even a couple of Indonesians. After the doctorates, the post-graduates and undergraduates get their degree's. Karin got called near the 1/4 of the end of the attendees, which is quite a long time to wait for, but I am happy that she finally finished her undergraduate studies and can finally get a job.

Karin later met up with some of her friends after the ceremony. They decided to go for a late dinner and I wanted to tag along. One of her friend brought her brothers, so I had someone to talk to that night. Because most places close at 9 p.m, it was difficult finding a place to eat and hang around after 10. So We had to drive around Subiaco and Victoria park with Karin's Friend's car, finding a place to eat. Luckily We found a fast eddies place... near Barrack Street!








Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Goodies Ala Semarang !

August 20th, 2014.

In the last months or so, the family and I has been going to Semarang twice back and forth for some relative's wedding and a get together to mourn for one of my late grandmas. The first time was last month was for my cousin's wedding, and a couple of weeks later was my uncle's wedding. Of course, I've been to Semarang in the past but I was still just a kid, hated traveling, and I was still oblivious to the things around me. These days I take note of the places I've been, especially food and other jajanans. So to sum up my past visits to Semarang, I present to you; My (current) Ultimate Food places Guide to Semarang.

1. Tahu Pong Gajah Mada.


No, this is not the same Gajah Mada noodle's you find in Jakarta. Located in Gajah Mada street in Semarang, just beside the Gumaya Hotel, on the right if you are from the airport (I guess, I'm not good with directions). During my first visit for my cousin's wedding, it was a Saturday and they were open, but they ran out of tofu and does not have anything to sell to us. I asked them if they were gonna make some more, they answered yes, on Monday. I only had that Saturday and the Sunday after it in Semarang because I have school on Monday, so I couldn't have some tofu that time. But I came earlier (on a Saturday) the next time I visited Semarang and managed to get welcomed inside the restaurant.
My mum devouring a helpless tahu kopyak
Tahu Pong literally means "empty tofu", because there is nothing in it, just a thin tofu outside crust fried to perfection. Of course, everything here is fried, and served with a plate of vinegar like pempek. The first thing on the menu is of course the tahu pong, but there are other variants of tofu-based goodies on the menu. There is the tahu kopyak which is really just an omelete mixed with tofu, there's the tahu gimbal which is a tofu and shrimp fry, and the tahu emplek or the smoothest tofu known to man but plain as hell (that is what the vinegar is for). If you want the complete package there is also the "complete" plate option for the pong, emplek,gimbal, and a fried boiled egg (I know, confusing right). 

Everything here taste awesome to me nevertheless, although the vinegar expert (my Mum) says that the vinegar is watered down and looses some of its twang. 

2. Chicken Garang Asem near the stadium.



The stadium I'm referring to here is the Diponegoro stadium, the one with a lot of unfinished stock car build projects parked outside. Across the stadium is an eatery complex filled with a lot of good places to eat (or so the story goes according to the cheeky driver showing us around town in Semarang the first time I was there). Our first driver told Me and My family to go eat at a garang asem restaurant there, He also told me that the waitresses there are cute.

Overall, it was an okay experience eating there. The food, marvelous, best garang asem I've ever tasted. Garang asem is a sort of Indonesian stew, traditionally it is wrapped in banana leafs or any other leaf that is able to hold water. Some regions in Java use meat in them but the chicken is a Kudus region specialty. I am confused myself because I am eating a Kudus specialty in Semarang, but I'm not complaining. The driver was right, the waitresses are cute, but you'll die from hunger waiting from the food because they work real slow and you WILL go mad from the creaking noises made by the beaten up food carts they use to deliver food to your table.

3. Gang Lombok Loenpia.




Semarang is not complete without its loenpia, a local spring roll-like delicacy is well known throughout the town and even the whole country. Because of this profound popularity, many has set up shop in Semarang and claimed to be the "best" loenpia makers in town. I've asked my classmate who happens to be a local about this problem and he said he knew a place where he thinks has the best loenpia. Problem is, he didn't know if the place was "halal" friendly and frankly, he did not care. I do...

I went to Gang Lombok anyway to buy some loenpia because after a quick research by My mum, she found that even though there are no halal signs, the loenpias does not contain any pig-based product. After arriving in the food place, my family quickly gathered stares from the locals because my sister and mum were wearing hijab headscarves, they stare back at the locals and showed them who is boss. My dad on the other hand was busy shouting at the shop keeper because that is how you get stuff done in Semarang when a horde of people is also ordering dubious amounts of loenpia and trying to cut in front of you.

Taste-wise these things are pretty damn good, in fact it may be the best thing I've eaten in Semarang. There is the main ingredient bamboo shoots, some eggs, and juicy shrimp mixed inside the spring rolls. Eat this stuff with some chilli and the gooey sauce, and you are good to go on a mouthwatering journey.

Beside the Gang Lombok loenpia stall is a shrine where some people come and worship on a pilgrimage. My family and I just went in front of the shrine to take pictures and learn some cultural history about the place from the shrine's ground keeper. On a side note, there is also some other food stalls that sells pork noodles, fried pork rice, and other pork based monstrosities sold as food, if you are into that kind of stuff...


4. Loenpia Mbak Lien.


Bare with me because this is another loenpia place. I got a tip from my driver Mr. Sapto that there is another good loenpia place in Semarang. I doubt that because I've tasted the Gang Lombok loenpia and that thing was crazy, but "Mbak Lien" surprised me and delivered a critical blow on my tongue's life point (in a good way).

First of all, Mbak Lien comes with an approved halal certification which means no more doubts of guilt while eating tasty loenpias. Secondly, their loenpias (although lacking that much eggs than the Gang Lombok variant) are surprisingly juicy and do not stink of bamboo, a sign of a perfectly cooked bamboo shoots filling. These guys know what they are doing, and has perfected the craft of cooking this profound feel good meal. Unlike Gang Lombok, Mbak Lien sells normal loenpia (great if you are allergic to shrimp), and the specials that comes with shrimp in it. Price wise, they are neck and neck with Gang Lombok.


The shop consists of a front end stall that only sells loenpia, and a back shop that sells other Semarang snacks and a restaurant area for you to eat your loenpia there. The collection of snacks is quite variative, ranging from simple crisps to bakpia and mochi cakes. The shop has a cool aura to it because it is retro styled and located in an alleyway, almost like Gang Lombok in a way, but more subtle and less crowded. No shrines as far as I can see near them... 


And the best part is... 


... yes they deliver...

 5. Train Brand Wingko Babad.

Besides the overly hyped loenpia, another feel good food that resides in Semarang is the Wingko Babad. I dont know what it is called in English, but all I can say is that it resembles a small pancake made of coconut. Of course there are many that are fused with flavors such as chocolate, durian, and banana, but the best one is still the original wingko. Be sure to grab the train brand wingkos because from what I heard from many of my elders and the driver who is showing me places to stuff my face with food, the train brand is the first and original wingko makers. 

I cannot stress how much I savor the flavors of my country, and I definitely love wingkos. I can eat as much as 10-15 wingko babads in one sitting, YES I do love eating that much (but dont forget to workout and burn em calories). The original shop is located in the old part of town, dont ask me where because I dont know my headings in Semarang. Rely on the knowledge of taxi drivers and/or whoever is in Semarang because they are bound to know where this place is. The small shop caters to a lot of customers, I know they mean business because they keep taking out trays filled with batches of wingko from their industrial sized ovens every half hour or so. If you are in Semarang, I recommend you buy your wingko here and stop buying those airport sold ones, you will not regret going here.

6. Mr Karmin's tripe fried rice.


Maybe some of you is screaming at your screen "but Keanu, there are many fried rice places in Jakarta, and fried rice is not very 'Semarang'...", unfortunately I have to agree because it is not very "Semarang" in any way. But, I was hungry for some fried rice with some cow stomach in it and I heard that this place sells them and they are one of the places to eat in Semarang... if you are visiting. The rice stall is located near a place called "Mberok" bridge, right on the "Mberok" river.

the river was awful, but the old buildings in the background is quite a sight to see...
Back when I was still in elementary school, I remembered my family going here at night after a wedding reception because everyone was still hungry. My uncle who was a local showed us the place. But I don't remember it being next to a bridge and on the side of a riverbed. I do believe this is not the same place I went to as a kid, but this will have to do because I need to catch a flight later that afternoon when I went to Karmin's.

The fried is cooked with a copious amount of sweet soy sauce, because that is how you cook things in most Javanese places, make the food sweet. There is also some hidden chilis in the sweet soy sauce so its not really a sweet meal, but a more spicy sweet one. Besides the fried rice, they also sell saute'd tripes served with rice. I'd rather eat the tripe if I visit here again, because lets face it, the best fried rice places are in Jakarta.

7. Gemini Mochi Cake.


I'll come clean, I bought this for a friend because he said he wanted some of these bad boys to remind him of home. Frankly speaking, i did not even know the mochis in Semarang is any good. I bought some when I visited Mbak Lien's place. At first they are surprisingly tasty. But after eating 3 boxes, they just lose their flavor.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Inapras 2014 Day #1

April 30th 2014.


It is that time of the year again, a time where my father attends his annual plastic surgeons symposium. Each year the venue's varies, I remember the Bali days when I was still a child ( I still consider myself a child ), then a couple of years ago the symposium was held in Medan ( I could not come with my dad because I had to play a show with my band ). However, the organizers did something different this year and held the event at Bogor, just a couple of Highway kilometers from Jakarta. Going here is like trying to go to the toilet at 3 A.M, its near enough to go to, but is hard to accomplish.


Anyway, the thing is going down at Novotel in Bogor. I've never been there, so I thought that the place is going to be located in some open field. Apparently the hotel is located inside a real estate complex. My family and I ook the dificult back roads leading into the complex, I criss-crossed under highways, went to some rough village roads, and even backtrack in some ocassions. After we asked some funny locals around a motorcycle garage, they finally point us into an entrance into the housing complex where the hotel is located ( the backdoor entrance which leads to the villages ).


My dad had to registrate himself and attend a meeting afternoon, leaving me, My mom, and Karin to ponder around the hotel grounds. Luckily, they have a sporting clubhouse around back which includes a pool and other recreational sports activities available. Since it was about 5 in the afternoon when I got there, I only got a chance to play ping pong and table soccer with My mom and Karin.


I got to watch a new season of Avatar Korra later in the evening, I dont know why, but I'm a big avatar fan (again) for no reason. Maybe it is because of the constant muay thai I've been doing which pushes me in the drection of anything martial arts? Or maybe its because I've been reading too much Avaar the last airbender comics this past couple of weeks...


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Friday Night Chills

Thursday, April 17th.

This morning my Mum and Dad had to hop on a plane to Semarang to mourn the passing of my Dad's late aunt. The morning started well because I had to hunt for tickets as well as pay at a nearby atm because Lion air doesent accept credit cards on flights booked under 48 hours (a policy they should cleverly revise). My Sis and I stayed at home because the outgoing Garuda flight had only 3 seats, the parents think it is wise for the both of us to stay at home to avoid any jealousy problems. My parents were going home this evening anyway.
 

After running the day's errands which included visiting my cousin at the hospital and Karin's pedicure, I asked the Lord to drive me and my Sis to Bhakti fried rice because I was getting vamished and need of substances. Fried rice is a vital substance, and I need my dose right away. He was hessitant, but Lord drove us there anyway. I had a belping of chicken liver fried rice as well as a petay (stinky bean) fried rice. I have never tasted petay before and I am happy with my first taste. Lord say I should watch where I pee because apparently eating petay makes your pee stink like a drainpipe, or so they say. 

                

I recieved a text from my parents asking me to buy them some meatballs at blok S which is quite popular. The lord parked me and my sis near the soccer field and he went down to buy some meatballs, and some murtabaks that my sis wants, and anything else that he wants. Now the field is dark, and Lord parked the car under a Beringin tree. The Beriging tree is always ascosiated with the supernatural here in Indonesia, not to mention this was a friday night and is also ascosiated with the supernatural here. I locked the doors and went to the drivers seat in case something funky goes down and I need a quick getaway. My sister then moves to the front passenger seat for no reason. I asked her why, and she said nothing as she blared some loud music through the radio. The radio soon stopped and prambors had a scary story session. 

Boy was the atmosphere right for some bad Juju, luckily nothing happened and the Lord went back to the car with some food. As we drove to the airport to pick up my parents, my sister unleashed some bone chilling revelations of why she moved to the front passenger seat while we were parked before...

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The big move - the master is moving house


Hey you, its been a while. So much has happen in the last couple of weeks, so much that I cant even go and blog about some of them. The most important thing happening is the big move.

Yes I am finally moving out of the old place and back into my older home. I've moved a lot and finally my family decided to settle down in my old childhood home back in '05. The move went slow and steady. First my older stuff in the attics and back rooms are packed in boxes and sent to the new place. After about 2-3 weeks, our daily items are packed and delivered. By week 4 I'm already settling down in the new place. 

I love my current home better than my old one that belonged to my grandmothers family. This place has more air flow, less dust (hooray for no more allergies), way more sunlight, and a back yard. Ever since I was a kid, I love back yards because I can play around, walk around, and catch some sun for my skin (sunlight is good for you, so get up and go out right now!).

In summary, hope to hear some new blog posts coming from me soon...

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Back to campus - Things to do in a new semester

        
The alarm sound wakes you up ( or in My case, My mum slapping my leg trying to get me up ), the cold shower freezes your skin, a dull breakfast because making a "proper" breakfast takes too long and its already time for you to leave your home. No this is not a sequence of me getting kicked out of the house, it is a sequence that I frequently experience each time I wake up for my morning classes. A new semester in Binus just started, meaning that the week long semester holiday that binus gave me just ran out and its time to go back to Senayan for another semester of "fun" learning. In this post, I will share some key things to do, that I believe is of the essentials (especially if you are binusian).

1. Do get to your first day early.

I made the mistake of not getting to binus early on my first day. I woke up early, had breakfast, and spent half an hour laying in bed watching adventure time on cartoon network. I was gonna take my motor bike like I used to, but since it was raining I had to take a car, I only had 30 minutes to get to class. Arteri road is jammed up because of the usual traffic, but since I am on a car and not on my trusty bike, I cant slip in between cars to get pass traffic. In the end I didnt make it to class because I'm sick of traffic and its already 6:45, class starts at 6:30. 

Do not, under any circumstances be late on your first day because it will ruin your overall mood. I got scolded by my family for not attending class because of traffic, it could be worse. Secondly, things dont always go according to plan, so being early can really save you time when the unthinkable happens. If you are still sleepy and class have not started, you can steal a wuick nap on the table, or find a nice place to cuddle up while your lecturer is on their way.

2. Check your exam scores.

       

You should always check your scores from the last semester as soon as the new semester starts. It is almost compulsary, because it gets your parents off your back by actually telling them your scores. If it is that bad and you dont want to tell your parents, at least YOU know your own scores. So your scores can be a motivation for you to study harder in the next semester or keep up your original study agenda.

Funny story, my exam grades are not out yet. During the last couple of days on my holiday, I checked lms (the online school site for grades, news, and schedules) for my grades. 3 subjects have already submitted their grades to my profile. Needless to say I pass, but today I checked back my scores to find them back to null except for my mid semester scores. Binus should really fixed up their posting system eh...

3. Check what class your on & your schedule.

Its the 2nd semester for me, so I cant pick my own classes because binus picks them for me. Each semester your class will usually change and some of your mates might be in a different class than you. So whats the point of checking what class your on? Well it would be silly if you walked in on a class with your past classmates and spend 2-3 hours hearing a lecture about a subject your not supposed to be on your study plan will it?.

Check your schedule timetable as well because they are subject to change each semester...

These 3 points are the ones I think are nescesarry to do when you start a new semester to avoid any mix ups and miscommunications with your driver, family, etc. I'm sure there are others like buy books, or bribe the school security, or any other things that you can do on a new semester.

What do you do when you go back to school or work? 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Cikoneng Jilid III, a visit to sdn Cikoneng

The wonderful view along the dirt road
 In my years in academia, I've always been tasked by the teachers to conduct some sort of project according to the subject that they teach. About a month ago I went off with some of my classmates to do our social project for our character building scores. Two of the guys in my group Harits and Rasyid has an old contact that we can call and ask if he needs help. They have links to a school in Cikoneng which is in Mount Salak, the famous place known as "puncak" by local Jakarta citizens. The social project requires us to "do something to affect our self, as well as our community. The group Opted to "teach" at the Cikoneng Elementary school. It sounds like a marvelous plan to me too.

After weeks of planing and wrapping gifts, our group decided to go to Cikoneng on the 16th of January.... I Think, all i know is that I had Karina's birthday party after the trip to Cikoneng. We wanted to meet at the gas station beside campus at 7 a.m sharp. Unfortunately, I arrived at 7:30, Billy caught up to my car when the group was departing for Cikoneng, and one guy didn't even show. A great start to the day. Highway was a bit crowded as soon as we are near the exit to puncak, traffic was dense and the jockeys offering "alternate routes" up the mountain can be seen lining up outside the toll gate. And I thought they were the same like the 3-in-1 jockeys, they weren't, they were even serious. Because we were late departing from the gas station, the cars are already piling up the roads up the mountain. It was a Saturday ( so I didn't went to Cikoneng on the 16th ), hence the police were conducting 1 way traffic on some of the incline parts of the mountain roads which means my car had to wait about an hour for our turn to go up the mountain. Going up he mountain, I could see people paragliding and parachuting, soaring up with the mountain winds.

After we do arrive at the meeting point with Mr Rudy, I was told by Haritz to go talk to Mr Rudy. Apparently he wants us to pay a "toll" fee to go up the small mountain roads. I went into the "toll" post with Billy and talked with the nice man there, I tried asking for a free pass up to Cikoneng but I failed, so we decided to pay anyways or else our journey so far is worthless The roads up to Cikoneng were small, full of gravel and dirt, and well... small. So small that it looks almost like a one way road. Its amazing knowing that people actually live up here near the tea plantations, away from the hustle and rustle of the city. The remote-ness of this area actually has a positive side, which is that you feel relaxed and calm up here. No cars honking randomly, no smoke pollution, and obviously no cops pulling you over when you go through the transjakarta line.

Once the group and I arrived at Cikoneng, our butts were sore because of the road bumps andwe were relieved by the smiling faces of the children we were "supposed" to teach. Well teaching them some stuff was actually part of the original plan for our social project for character building. But since we did not bring any teaching materials with us, we opted to teach them one of the most important value that we believe every person in Indonesia needs to have, which is unity and togetherness. I know it isn't actually a subject, but hey at least its a positive value right?.

We make the children play team building and mind bending games, thanks to Alex and Haritz for masterminding games to pass the times. The final game was a check point based game where the children have to go through each checkpoint, having to fulfill a task to move on. I was in charge of the post where the children have to recite the pancasila. I happen to notice that some of the girls are lookers, I mean they are REALLY pretty. Unfortunately they are aged 6-10 which is a turn off for me. Not really, but its against the law for me to date kids that age. Anyways...


After we finished playing (read: teaching) the kids. We say our goodbyes and say our thanks to Mr Rudy for letting us have our way with the kids (boy, that came out wrong). We went back down the dirt road and onto the main road downhill. But since we were hungry we stopped by the infamous sate PSK. Sate PSK is a well known place because people going to puncak cant miss its advertising banner. PSK can mean two things; it can mean hookers, or sate per kilo. This case it was the 2nd meaning. Haritz ordered up some beef, mutton, and chicken sate for all of us. The lord came with us to eat at PSK. While we waited for the food, we played a card game that Alex brought. He brought some fancy card games, lots of them, we played saboteur. The lord was eager to learn and play saboteur although he has no idea how to play it. The food was okay, some of the meat was still a bit cold but we dont mind...

When we finally set off after eating our late lunch, we were already too late. Too late, as in the traffic back flow was already piling up. Everyone wanted to go back down to Jakarta. It couldnt get any worse right? wrong. Soon the rain was pouring down. Mountain rain and city rain is totally different. The heaviest city rain is child's play compared to mountain rain. Mountain rain is mental, it feels like it is actually raining bullets, not to mention the strong winds blowing the rains faster. I feel sorry for the sucker who is still paragliding up in this weather.
before the road
after the road
After an exhausting 5 hours on the road we finally made it back to Jakarta. I dropped of the guys in their destinations and I continued home to attend my sist's birthday bash. I asked some of the guys to join but they all declined, so I guess I'm on my own..

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Two-day improv traveling

Tuesday, 18th February 2014 

       

We've all known about that famous "things to do before you die" bucket list number #xxx, which is to go throw a dart on a globe / map and take the first flight headed there the next morning. I will now share my experience on undertaking that sort of task, although my trip was not impromptu and the place I went to is not some random god forsaken hell-hole in the middle of Africa ( believe me, there are a lot of beautiful places in Africa too like Egypt and South Africa). My place of destination is good old Singapore just north west of Jakarta.

A while back, my mum asked me, my dad, and Karin to come with her to Singapore because she has some "errands" to complete. Judging from past experiences, We all know what "errands" means. First, mum wants to go book a flight that same day and go home on the latest flight, but she does not want to go alone. So, she told me and my dad to free up some time later so we can all go together. Karin is starting her startup business so she was free anytime. I had finals and some debate schedules, and I decided that 17th and 18th of February was free because a competition was on the Saturday and Sunday before the 17th of February. I thought wrong, the competition was on the 16th and 17th of February ( sorry coach ).

After a brief encounter with Bipeds, I went to Singapore with the family yesterday morning at 5 in the morning. We almost missed our flight because immigration at terminal 3 was awful, it was like waiting for a flu shot at the communal clinic. I've never had a flu shot that I remember getting, maybe my parents knocked me out to save them the trouble? Anyways, I ran to the bus taking me to my airplane on the runway, guess those time spent on the treadmill was worth it because I managed to outrun my whole family even though they had a head start. 

After arriving in Singapore, We checked in, left our luggage, and Immediately did our "errands". I've been here a couple of times before, but it usually is a 3 day trip. This time it was a 2 day 1 night trip ( Dad says he is too tired if we gunned it in a day and go home later that night). Now, the difference with my usual visits here and a flash visit like now is the timing. On a 3 day visit, we usually have a lot of energy reserve to run errands around town, because we have ample rest and plenty of time the next 2 days. That luxury is cut out from us on flash visits like this time. On a flash visit, we go all out the first and second day running errands. Rest is only for sleep at night, no breaks to the hotel during the day. 

I am currently writing this in the airport terminal waiting for my flight back home. The time is 20:50 Singapore time. Guess how long I have been here? A long time, since 4 in the afternoon. We like to walk around Changi airport awhile every time we are going home. But I think that my mum has just hit an all time best right now cause I am beat, and so are Karin and my dad. But hey, it's a learning experience. Unfortunately, I won't be doing this again for a while...

Thursday, January 9, 2014

2013 New years eve in Singapore


The end of the year is always a special day. First of all its new years eve, and secondly its My sister Karina's birthday on the 31st of December. Being the thoughtful brother I am, I always try and make surprises for her every time on her birthday. This new years eve I spent it in Singapore with my family eating out in a restaurant called Zam-zam which is a great place to eat some murtabaks in Arab street. So at dinner, I asked those kind lads at Zam-zam to write "happy birthday" on the murtabaks that we ordered, and also to sing happy birthday for my sister since she loves seeing funny guys. In the end, the whole restaurant ended up singing happy birthday to her, what a success on my end.

Anyways, since its new years eve, me, Karin, and our cousins went out for a stroll to catch some fireworks and just walk around at night around the bayfront since our hotel was in Peninsula and it was the nearest place to catch fireworks, and it seems like a great idea at the time.

But we thought wrong, since the bay is the only place to see fireworks go out in Singapore, the whole Singapore population came down there, thus crowd was forming. Next, the paths leading to the marina was rerouted by the SGPD for crowd control so our fastest way there which is to cross through the esplanade park was blocked. Since roadblocks were everywhere in esplanade park, I had to go back to city hall mrt to catch a train to bayfront. The mrt was relatively fast, but as soon as I got out the bayfront station, crowd gathers again. 

By now, everyone in Singapore which includes locals, tourists, and a group of Quilt wearing Scotish dudes were making their way to the countdown in the bay. Everywhere we go, we are met with crowds. The people in My group were getting tired and cranky. So we opted to find a suitable place to sit on the gardens by the bay park, not inside it, just outside the gardens. 

The clock hits midnight and the countdown reached 0, the fireworks blew up and lit the Singapore skyline full of vibrant colors, just as The Wanted finished their set somewhere on the bay. I know because I recognize their song and the thousands of fan girls screaming out to them. Me and my sist, and my cousins made the most of the "what seemed like 5 minute" firework display from our spot behind the marina bay sands hotel. The fireworks were going off on the other side of the building, the one overlooking the bay and not the gardens. But hey, we saw some fireworks going off and that was fine.

After the display, the crowd moved back inside marina bay sands to make their way into the bayfront mrt station. That meant that our option to take the train is out the window, you should see the crow over there which looks like an ocean of people, CRAZY. So we opted for a bus, but the bus was full and skipped our station. Taxi's were nowhere to be seen, so the only way for us to get back to the hotel was by.... yes, by walking from marina bay sands to raffles city. What a night...

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A visit to the Singapore National Museum

An old English war poster of the allies

I'm no history buff, when it comes to going to places like a library, war memorials, or even museums you could say that I'm the type of person that likes to stay out by the entrance and wait it out. Dont get me wrong, museums are filled with fascinating stories and so called "knowledge". In fact, it is a place where you might find the answer to last weeks history (if any). But I was never a fan of museums because I think that its boring.

Nevertheless, When my cousin Alia asks me to come visit a museum after my mom's (and mine's) shopping sesh in Takashimaya, I decided to come along to the museum. She didn't specify which museum, but I had the Singapore arts museum in mind because most of my "artsy hipster" friends is visiting the arts museum. After a quick bus trip lead by Karin, We ended up in front of the Singapore national museum.

At first I imagined the place to look like the "gajah" museum back home in Jakarta. Boring, dull, pale, hot and dirty, with a chance of some restless spirits lingering around the "mystical" kampoeng ceremonial burial dolls. The national museum of Singapore is not as the "gajah" museum, its fully air conditioned, I got a digital companion tablet so I can her audio guides around the museum, but in some exhibits like the "fall of Singapore" and Chinese traditional garments which were held out like crosses give me goosebumps. The Chinese Outfits kinda give out some otherworldly aura.

Melayu movies
An old map of Sigapore

old melayu stories on paper
Nevertheless, some of the other parts of the museum were quite fascinating, even for my standards. There is a Singaporean entertainment history section which houses vintage movie posters, play flyers, and magazines. There's even a short movie scene that bares a resemblance to old Dono Kasino Indro movies playing from the digital projector, in black and white of course. The British settlement section also caught my eye as I love it how Singapore has got some old british style architecture in Bugis and other places, and its numbers of British expats :).

Those 2 sections are the ones I like. The rest of the museum are to heavy for my forte. I didn't stay there for long because I have to go back to the hotel to pick up my luggage and head straight to the airport to catch my plane home.

P.S there's a 10$ admission ticket to go in, so think twice penny pinchers