Solo Trip to Wae Rebo – the Village above the clouds

  • Using motorbike from Labuan Bajo to Wae Rebo in 4 hours one way, total cost of transport 350,000 IDR (150cc scooter).
  • Hiking to Wae Rebo only took 2 hours, better done in the afternoon before it gets dark.
  • Hiking without local guide is totally safe, the path is clearly seen.
  • Two different routes available: Ruteng (slower by 1-2 hours) and Nanga lili (faster), I explored both routes during the trip.

    Early September this year, me and some friends went sailing to Komodo National Park in East Nusa Tenggara. It was indeed one of most memorable trips for me as Labuan Bajo and Flores were tantalizingly beautiful. Story on my Komodo National Park will follow later, because I am very excited to tell you the story on how I explored the western Flores using motorbike to reach Wae Rebo. A little bit of background, Wae Rebo was not in my itinerary in the first place but a talk with @berlinawantah changed my mind. She successfully persuaded me to go to Wae Rebo and even further to the east to reach Kelimutu (which unfortunately not possible due to the time restriction).

If you are reading and wondering how complicated it is to reach Wae Rebo, or how to go there by going solo, or even wondering on the cost to visit the Village above the clouds, I hope this pretty much explains.

Day 0

14:00 Arriving in Labuan Bajo from the sailing trip

15:00 Found motorbike rental

15:00 – 16:00 Batu Cermin

16:00 – 17:00 Check in Siola Hotel

18:00 – 19:00 Dinner at Port and pack supplies (food and water)

Day 1

06:00 – 08:07 Labuan Bajo to Lembor [Breakfast at Warung Banyuwangi]

08:30 – 10:58 Lembor to Dintor Intersection via Ruteng Route

09:53 Kole checkpoint

11:39 Mules island view checkpoint

12:20 Checkpoint 1 (SDN 1 – Pangkalan Ojek)

12:35 Parking my bike and start hiking

12:35 – 14:30 Hiking to Wae Rebo

14:40 Introduction and arrival ceremony at the main house

15:00 – 21:00 Free time and mingle time with fellow travelers

Day 2

08:03 – 09:35 Descending from Wae Rebo

09:35 – 10:00 Way down to intersection (Left: Ruteng, Right: Labuan Bajo)

10:00 – 10:58 Wae Wanga Bridge checkpoint

10:58 – 12:10 Nangaulik – Lembor [Lunch]

13:40 Arriving Labuan Bajo

Motorbike trip Labuan Bajo – Wae Rebo

You might read some of blogpost about Labuan Bajo to Wae Rebo motorbike route and most will recommend the Nanga lili route instead of Ruteng. I tried the both routes for outbound (Ruteng route) and inbound (Nangaulik). Breakdown on the timing and checkpoint, will be listed on the next paragraph. In order to give you better understanding on my route, please see the map below showing my itinerary:

The Bridge is OPEN already

*Google maps will not show the LABUAN BAJO – DENGE via NANGA LILI because the bridge is not in the map yet, but the actual bridge is there so you choose my DAY 2 route as an alternative to go to Wae Rebo to cut some time

 

 

DAY 1 LABUAN BAJO – DENGE 6 HOURS 35 MINUTES

DAY 2 DENGE – LABUAN BAJO 4 HOURS 5 MINUTES

The reasons why I chose the motorbike as a mode for solo travel were its cost effectiveness, its convenience, its speed, and the easiness and convenience to stop on some beautiful spots to enjoy the moment or taking pictures. You surely will enjoy the 100 loops of up and down on the way to Lembor from Labuan Bajo and vice versa on a motorbike! That was one of my memorable routes on Flores! You can also enjoy riding in a big road with rice field views and hills under a warm sun, running 80 km/hours in a smooth road without worrying of a hole disrupting you. Another memorable moment when you ride in the morning, you got to meet elementary students going to the school or even going back from the school if you ride quite late in the afternoon. They will greet you while waving their hands, saying “Good morning mister!” upon their wide smile of innocence. Oh, I am so in love with Flores People’s warmth. Such a miss that I did not allocate more time for a trip to the eastern part of Flores, Kelimutu and Ruteng.

View on the journey back from Denge – view fo Mules island

Hiking route

Solo hiking is definitely fine! I read some people worrying about solo hiking in Wae Rebo, but you should not worry at all. The path is well defined and you will meet some people on the way up whether they are Wae Rebo’s residence or just a fellow traveler. The hike is not difficult and would be done in 2 hours normal speed, however on some parts there might be steep hiking points that will raise your heart rate up.

Beautiful view halfway on the hike

The temperature is warm there, you just need a light windbreaker or fleece jacket. The coldest timing is on the dusk at Wae Rebo but that would be no problem since the house was pretty warm due to its heat insulating capability.

Recommended gear to hike is shorts, light jacket, t-shirt or workout shirt, hiking hats or headband, daypack, hiking shoes / trail running shoes for good grip.

Cost breakdown

Day 0:

Dinner Labuan Bajo         50,000

Water + snacks                 30,000

Gasoline                             75,000

Motorbike rental              300,000

Siola Hotel                         300,000

Batu Cermin fee               20,000

Day 1 & 2:

Breakfast Lembor day 1 40,000

Lunch Lembor day 2        50,000

Lodging Wae Rebo          325,000

*lodging in Wae Rebo includes lunch, dinner, and breakfast with very humble local food

Total cost: 1,190,000 IDR (10 September 2019)

You can save 150,000 (50%) by renting a smaller scooter bike (110cc) instead of 150cc. And staying in guesthouse with shared dorm room with cost around 100,00 IDR. Then you can afford the trip by spending less than 1,000,000 IDR (840,000 IDR to be exact).

Tips and Tricks

1.      Best time to visit Wae Rebo: dry season to avoid raining (May to September). You would not get the best view if it rains.

2.      What products to try there: authentic coffee and honey.

3.      Where to rent a bike? Pretty much available anywhere in Bajo near guest house area or port. Price all the same – 75k per day for small scooter, 150k per day for 150cc scooter, 300k per day for bigger bike. However, 90% of the motorbike rent are automatic scooter so if you are looking for big bike with manual transmission that would be another challenge.

4.      Is it safe to ride motorbike there? Totally safe, just wear the proper safety equipment and you will be fine.

5.      Motorbike parking during the hike: just before the hiking point, you can park the motorbike on the nearby road. It is safe.

6.      Batu Cermin, is it worth visit? If you have spare 1 hour, you can go pay a visit. It is just okay in my opinion.

7.     How much cash to bring? 1 million IDR for everything including motorbike rental and hotel.

8.      Try having shower on the river nearby the village, instead on the normal shower room.

9.      Bring snacks on your own since there will be no one selling snacks on the way hike and on Wae Rebo itself.

10.   Go to the house on the second left, and meet the head of family there. You can talk and maybe buy some coffee from him.

Personal reflections

Being 2 days without internet or mobile signal, it surely refreshes my mind. Actually, being away from mobile for 2 days were nice!

Wae Rebo Children playing in the afternoon

I met some new friends from a different background and places. Once again, Wae Rebo taught me the old way of communication once again. I met some interesting people as well! Some younger guys travelling from Lombok who just climbed Mount Rinjani (envy!) and how they sold Rinjani on how I would be regretful not going there while I have the chance. Met a Malaysian guy who worked as a natural gas trader, Sumatera couple who went to Bajo and saw lots of Manta (envy again!), a Singaporean who was born in Pontianak before, and a group from one of the housing contractors in Indonesia. What a trip it was!

Wae Rebo has gaining its popularity since early 2000s when the visitor counter only reached 10 in a year to thousands in 2018. If you are going to Labuan Bajo, I strongly recommend you add 2 days extra to go there as well!

Banyuwangi Trip

What’s up readers! Kali ini gw akan mencoba share trip ke Banyuwangi, Jawa Timur yang punya banyak tempat liburan yang terkenal. Berikut daftar tempat liburan yang bisa dijangkau lewat Banyuwangi:

  1. Kawah Ijen
  2. Gunung Raung
  3. Watudodol – Pulau Menjangan – Bangsing
  4. Taman Nasional Baluran
  5. Taman Nasional Meru Betiri
  6. Taman Nasional Alas Purwo
  7. Green Bay
  8. Pantai Pulau Merah – Pantai Mustika
  9. De Jawatan
  10. Taman Nasional Bali Barat
Sepedaan bareng Pak Jokowi

Karena keterbatasan waktu dan juga kendala cuaca, kami hanya mengunjungi tempat-tempat yang dicetak tebal dari daftar diatas.  Enaknya wisata di daerah sini: nyari hotel murah gampang, makanan murah banyak tersedia, dan transportasi sangat mudah dijangkau (bahkan transportasi pesawat langsung sudah ada di Bandara Blimbingsari).

Itinerary

Hari pertama

08:00 Mendarat di bandara Blimbingsari

08:30 Sampai di Watudodol, perjalanan taksi dari Bandara sekitar 30 menit

09:00 – 16:00 Pulau Menjangan open trip, perjalanan sekitar 1 jam, snorkelling, makan siang di Pulau Menjangan (termasuk paket open trip), snorkelling lagi, singgah di pulau Tabuhan, kembali ke Watudodol

18:00 – 00:00 Istirahat di hostel sebelum ke Ijen tengah malam

Hari kedua

00:00 – 01:00 Perjalanan dari Banyuwangi ke checkpoint Paltuding, Ijen

01:00 – 01:30 Persiapan pendakian, makan malam di Paltuding

02:00 – 03:30 Pendakian ke puncak Ijen

03:30 – 04:00 Turun ke kawah Ijen untuk melihat blue fire

04:00 – 05:30 Foto-foto dan observasi blue fire

06:00 – 07:00 Perjalanan turun ke Paltuding

09:00 – 10:00 Istirahat sejenak di hotel

10:00 – 11:30  Perjalanan ke Taman Nasional Baluran

12:00 – 16:00 Explore Taman Nasional Baluran (spot foto, pantai, observe binatang liar)

Hari ketiga

09:00 – 12:00 Perjalan ke Pantai Pulau Merah – Pesanggaran dari Banyuwangi

13:00 – 14:00 Pantai Mustika

14:30 – 18:00 Pantai Pulau Merah – enjoy sunset – dinner

Hari keempat

Perjalanan kembali ke bandara dan terbang ke Jakarta.

KAWAH IJEN

Kawah Ijen adalah highlight dari trip kali ini, karena gw merasa senang banget dengan Ijen trip. Kawah Ijen terkenal banget dengan fenomena api biru-nya yang dihasilkan dari pembakaran belerang yang terdapat di lereng kawah Ijen. FYI, tempat ini sebenernya tidak boleh dimasuki oleh turis karena berbahaya. Terlepas dari konsentrasi belerang yang tinggi, medan dan jalan menuju lereng juga berbahaya.

*sehari setelah kunjungan saya ke Ijen, ada kejadian pemandu wisata meninggal karena terjatuh ke pipa belerang saat memotret wisatawan dekat api biru, please be careful and mindful always guys. https://news.detik.com/berita-jawa-timur/d-4517910/diduga-terjatuh-dari-bibir-kawah-guide-kawah-ijen-tewas

Gw menggunakan jasa open trip dari Nahwa Tour (nahwatour.com) yang sangat responsif dalam melayani pelanggan. Total biaya per orang untuk trip Ijen – Baluran pada Maret 2019 sebesar 400,000 IDR per orang.

Kawah Ijen sendiri telah menjadi sumber mata pencaharian warga sekitar sejak puluhan tahun lalu – sumber menambang belerang. Namun seiring populernya Kawah Ijen di kalangan turis, banyak penambang belerang yang beralih profesi menjadi tour guide atau penarik gerobak. Penarik gerobak adalah jasa yang diberikan untuk wisatawan yang tidak sanggup naik menuju puncak Ijen, jadi mereka akan duduk diatas gerobak yang ditarik dan didorong oleh tiga orang. Biaya PP gerobak dari bawah sekitar 800 ribu rupiah, tergantung negosiasi. Gw melihat beberapa orang yang tidak sanggup di pertengahan jalan menggunakan jasa untuk setengah jalan dengan biaya 400 ribu rupiah. Bagi yang tidak terbiasa mendaki atau memiliki masalah di dengkul, disarankan untuk tidak memaksakan diri dan jika masih ngotot untuk naik maka gunakan gerobak. Setelah sampai di puncak pun kita masih perlu turun ke lereng untuk melihat api biru. Medan berbatu cukup berbahaya dan antrian turun ke bawah kadang sangat panjang karena ratusan orang ingin turun ke area blue fire tapi jalan hanya muat dilalui satu orang.

Indomie kuah sebelum pendakian Ijen

Sekitar jam 1 kita sampai di checkpoint Paltuding seteleh dijemput di kota Banyuwangi dengan mobil jeep. Sampai disana, kita nongkrong di warung sambil ngopi dan makan indomie + gorengan. Disitu kita di briefing oleh pemandu dan diberikan masker gas. Gw menyantap satu porsi indomie kuah + telor sebagai bekal untuk nanjak nanti. Indomie subuh-subuh nikmat juga ternyata, lebih lagi udara di Paltuding sudah agak adem-adem semriwing.

Tepat sekitar pukul 2 kita mulai pendakian ke puncak. View ke puncak masih belum bisa dinikmati karena terlalu gelap, kita bisa menikmati betapa indahnya pemandangan disana saat pagi hari saat turun ke Paltuding. Berikut beberapa gambar yang saya dapat di lereng Ijen menuju blue fire (blue fire tidak tampak lagi setelah sunrise).

Salah satu temen gw tidak ikut turun ke lereng, jadi dia menikmati sunrise di puncak. Ternyata pemandangan saat sunrise itu keren banget di puncak! Mistik-mistik cantik gitu. Saran gw setelah lu melihat blue fire yang terkenal itu, segera naik lagi ke puncak. Jangan terlalu lama buang waktu di bawah ngirup banyak uap belerang. In my case, gw gak dapet jelas pemandangan blue fire karena angin lagi bertiup kencang. Peak season untuk Kawah Ijen sendiri adalah diatas bulan Juni saat blue fire lebih jelas terlihat.

 

View dari Puncak Ijen – credit @msantihayusukma
View dari Puncak Ijen – credit @msantihayusukma
BALURAN

Baluran sedikit mengecewakan bagi gw – karena binatang-binatang liar termasuk banteng lagi pada ngumpet. Anyway rasa kecewa sedikit terobati karena view gunungnya lumayan cantik disini.

Baluran itu adalah salah satu taman nasional milik pemerintah lokal, yang konon masih dibagi dua sama Banyuwangi dan Bondowoso. Dulunya taman nasional ini adalah hutan produksi kayu milik Perhutani dan kemudian dibeli oleh pemerintah. Di taman nasional ini ada banyak binatang liar: banteng, rusa, monyet, dan kabarnya ada  macan tutul. Tapi yang terakhir sudah lama tidak terlihat. Sayangnya waktu gw kesana, cuman melihat monyet dan rusa yang malu-malu untuk muncul.

Banyuwangi punya dua taman nasional lagi yaitu Meru Betiri dan Alas Purwo. Yang terakhir itu terkenal banget karena mistis.

JAWATAN

Jawatan atau yang dinamakan De Jawatan, tertelak di desa Benculuk sekitar setengah jam dari kota Banyuwangi. Kita singgah di Jawatan di pagi hari sebelum samai di Pantai Pulau Merah di siangnya.

Pohon Lord of The Rings – De Jawatan

Jawatan sendiri adalah sebuah taman yang tidak terlalu besar, namun penuh dengan pohon-pohon trembesi yang sudah berumur puluhan tahun. Skenik disini dikenal para wisatawan mirip dengan Lord of The Rings. Well, jika kalian mau ke arah Pantai Pulau Merah sok silakan disamperin Jawatan. Setengah jam pun cukup untuk explore tempat ini. Enak buat nyantai-nyantai sambil minum es kelapa muda karena hijau banget dan adem.

PULAU MENJANGAN

Untuk trip ke Pulau Menjangan, kita menggunakan jasa open trip dari Menjangan Tour (+6281338417822). Hari itu kita berangkat total 5 orang dari Watu Dodol (3 rombongan kita dan 2 orang dari Jatim). Jadi check point kita di Watu Dodol, sarapan sebentar lalu siap berangkat pake kapal dengan jarak tempuh perjalanan sekitar 1 jam. Kita gak langsung turun di pulau Menjangan, snorkeling dulu sebentar sekitar 1 jam. Selesai snorkeling kita istirahat makan siang di Menjangan.

Pulau Menjangan dinamakan sesuai namanya, karena banyak rusa menjangan yang berkeliaran disana. Kita sempat melihat satu menjangan yang kemudian lari masuk ke dalam hutan lagi. Di pulau ini juga ada beberapa pura tempat ibadah umat Hindu, karena ini merupakan area Bali. View disini lumayan bagus, karena dapet view pantai dengan background gunung. Minusnya adalah pesisir pantai yang kotor banget. Banyak sampah yang tercecer di tepi pantai mulai dari botol bekas sampai plastik sabun. Kabarnya Ibu Susi Pudjiastuti, Menteri Kelautan kita sempat marah-marah saat berkunjung kesini dan pulau Tabuhan. Pantai langsung dibersihkan namun gak berapa lama kembali kotor. Ya karena yang kotor sebenernya adalah lautnya, bukan pantainya. Yuk kita hindari mengotori laut tercinta kita! Gak mau kan pas lagi mau foto ala-ala di pinggir pantai keliatan plastik bekas mie instan?

Banyak sampah terdampar di Pulau Menjangan

*Hati-hati sama ubur-ubur di sekitar pinggir pantai karena temen gw sempet tersengat, alhasil kaki gatel-gatel deh.

Beres makan siang kita lanjut lagi snorkeling di spot yang lain, kemudian mampir ke Pulau Tabuhan sebelum balik ke Watudodol.

Pulau Tabuhan
PANTAI PULAU MERAH

Pantai Pulau Merah dijangkau sekitar  2 jam setengah dari Banyuwangi. Di pantai ini lumayan banyak yang surfing walaupun sebenernya dilarang untuk main air di laut. FYI, ini salah satu pantai laut selatan yang biasa banyak kasus orang hilang terseret arus.  Jadi yang bisa dilakukan disini adalah sunset hunting dan jalan-jalan di sepanjang pantai. Di sekitar sini juga ada beberapa penginapan yang asik.

Kebetulan kita menginap di tempat yang biasa digunakan karyawan tambang emas. Yep, disana ada penambangan emas. Dari pantai Mustika, terlihat gunung yang perlahan habis karena aktivitas penambangan.

Pulau Merah yang bisa diakses waktu surut
Lokasi tambang emas
Lari sore di Pantai Pulau Merah
Pantai Mustika – salah satu pantai baru di sekitaran Pantai Pulau Merah

Akomodasi

Eston House – Guest House

Budget-friendly guest house yang ternyata tempat kos-kosan juga. Terletak di pusat kota Banyuwangi, yang dikelilingi banyak guest house lainnya. Jadi bakal gampang untuk mencari tempat ini guys. Eston House sangat nyaman, harga yang diberikan juga sesuai dengan fasilitas.

Red Island Villa

Drama sempat terjadi disini, karena kita booking via Booking.com dengan nama yang berbeda. Di booking.com tertera sebagai Surf and Stay Villa yang ketika kita cari keliling Pantai Pulau Merah gak nemu-nemu. Berbekal sotoy-sotoy dan nanya orang sekitar, ternyata villa yang dimaksud bernama Red Island Villa. Penjaga villa tidak menerima konfirmasi dari booking.com jadi kita harus bayar lagi disana namun untungnya hari itu tidak ada pengunjung jadi kita bisa langsung masuk malam itu. Singkat cerita, kita nginap disana dan booking.com kita di-refund. Good place, bisa muat 4 orang. Villa ini sebenernya peruntukkan untuk pegawai tambang emas yang mess karyawannya berada di Pantai Pulau Merah juga.

Kamar Red Island Villa

Total biaya

Ijen Baluran open trip                               400,000
Menjangan open trip                                  275,000
Eston house 2 malam - Banyuwangi                     550,000
Red Island Villa 1 malam (share tiga orang)          175,000
Rental mobil Banyuwangi 1.5 hari (share tiga orang)  280,000
Makan (rata-rata 40 ribu per makan) + jajan          500,000
Belanja oleh-oleh                                    300,000
Taxi + grab                                          250,000
Total                                              2,830,000

Tips

Makanan khas

Sego Tempong

Nasi campur khas Jawa Timur yang pedes. Salah satu favorit gw disini. Bedanya dengan nasi campur biasa ini, kurang manis dan lebih pedes. Sayangnya gw gak ada foto sego tempong.

Sop kesrut !!

Hari terakhir sebelum balik ke Jakarta, gw untunya berkesempatan nyobain sop kesrut. Sop yang dibuat dengan unsur belimbing wuluh dan cabai ini seger banget, jadi pedes-pedes asem gitu. Disantap pake nasi putih + tempe / tahu goreng mantep banget! Must try!

Sop Kesrut – pedes pedes seger

Persiapan mendaki

  • Sebelum mendaki Ijen, pastikan kamu siap karena medan yang nanjak walaupun gak panjang tapi cukup menguras tenaga. Banyak yang tidak terbiasa / kurang aktif mengalami kesulitan disana. Lumayan kan harus bayar gerobak untuk naik kesana. Jadi sebelum kesini, biasakan jogging sedikit untuk persiapan badan kita ya.
  • Untuk pakaian, siapkan pakaian lapis untuk menangkal angin yang lumayan kencang di puncak.
  • Untuk sepatu, sendal tidak diperbolehkan dan sepatu hiking dengan grip bagus sangat disarankan.
  • Siapkan makanan ringan seperti cokelat atau madu untuk tambahan tenaga saat naik.

Oleh-oleh khas

Oleh-oleh khas Banyuwangi yang wajib coba:

Telur asin asap, kopi Banyuwangi, asem-asem, sambel khas Banyuwangi.

 

 

Astonishing Chiang Rai – exploring the golden triangle in a cheaper and hassle-free way

This is part of my 7 days trip to Thailand last December. Even though Chiang Mai was the main destination back there, Chiang Rai which was the supplemental destination successfully exceeding my expectation. Make sure you do not miss the golden triangle region of northern Thailand. During my trip in both Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, I chose motorbike as the main transportation choice. Read through on my post on how you can afford cheaper and less hassle transportation to explore the region.

Accommodation

Pan Kled Eco Hill Villa – 8.4 rated in Booking.com

Plus: Quiet and homey environment, motorcycle parking, including proper breakfast (choice of Thai or Western style), good value for money, very responsive staffs.

Minus: Hot water heater not working (however, they offered a room switch due to the inconvenience), location is far from the city center so a private transportation mode is a must.

Pan Kled Villa Room
First Day

We arrived in Chiang Rai quite late enough on a several hours bus drive from Chiang Mai. From the bus station, we took a grab car service directly to the Pan Kled hostel. Upon arriving, we checked in, had a late supper of Thai fried rice, and get a rest for tomorrow.

Renting a Bike

First thing first on the morning, renting a motorbike for the journey. Near the clock tower, there were lots of choice for Motorcycle rental. Our choice fell to the ST Motorcycle Rental.

ST Motorcycle Rental – near the clock tower – Jetyod Road

The cheapest alternative was the 125cc scooter with a cost of 250 baht per day. The deposit is a must but you can leave your passport as a substitute, which I strongly do not recommend because you need to keep your passport on your side every time wherever you go. The deposit was around 2000-3000 baht.

Fuels – for the second day full trip:
Chiang Rai – Golden Triangle (72 km)

Golden Triangle – Mae Sai (25 km)

Mae Sai – Chiang Rai (62 km)

Chiang Rai – White Temple – Singha Park – BANDAAM – Blue Temple (60 km)

Total journey was around 219 + intra city = 225 km

Bike journey from Mae Sai to Chiang Rai

We refueled 2 times of 91 RON gasoline on a total amount of around 7 litres (170 baht) . An average of 32 km/litre consumption, not bad eh? The total cost of transportation all over Chiang Rai per person:

170 baht + 250 baht = 420 baht / 2 person = 210 baht per person

IT IS FREAKING CHEAP! I strongly recommend you guys to use motorbike, and if you have more budget you can go for a higher cc bike to have faster journey. The maximum speed of the scooter was 80 km/hour, while the limit of the highway was 100 km/hour.

The long 1061 road

My route was Chiang Rai – Golden Triangle – Mae Sai. The other alternative was Chiang Rai  – Mae Sai – Golden Triangle. Just take the long 1061 road from Chiang Rai to reach Golden Triangle, the road was really smooth with only few of cars or local motorbike passing by. Upon reaching the Mae Sai from Golden Triangle, we were stopped by the local police for a passport and licence check. After showing my international driving licence, they let us go.

*There were some articles and blogs that telling the story on Thai police stopping and asking money from some tourists, but I do not think that is really the case. If you are wearing a helmet, having your licence, and behaving courteous then you are good to go.

the Golden Triangle

The Golden Triangle was the largest opium producer area in the world alongside the Golden Crescent in Afghanistan.  It is the junction of the Mekong and Ruak river which is also a border of the Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand. The things to offer here are the view of the junction, the big sitting Buddha statue, and the House of Opium. There are two places that shows the opium related things: Hall of Opium and House of Opium. I did not go to the former one, since already visited the House of Opium.

Interesting things on the House of Opium: a story on how the drug addiction habit was actually started as a recreational activity on the early years, how they found out the opium turned out to produce the opium from the poppy, and on the end of the museum they show the effect of opium consumption. A recreational activity turned out to be a commodity business that powering the nations’ economy in the world war’s era.

There is a legend of the Mekong giant catfish as well. It is the Pangasianodon gigas which is known as Patin in Indonesia. It is also observed in the Kalimantan river as their habitat and local people consumed it as a source of protein.

Opium Museum
Mae Sai

Mae Sai is a city in the north of Chiang Rai, it is a border city between Burma and Thailand. The city is small but lively. We visited Mae Sai on the way back from the Golden Triangle using the west side road. Must visit places here are:

  1. The border market
  2. Wat Phra That Doi Wao
  3. The Big Buddha statue

All of the three are close nearby, but make sure you ride a motorbike for a convenient commuting. You can basically park your bike and get off for a place, then get in the bike to move to another places.

While exploring the market, I found an interesting traditional cardigan-like clothing. The lady owner was a Thai and the store assistant was a Burmese. You can identify the Burmese with a gold colored paint smear in their face. The clothes was so comfy and had an nice color combination, made me having bought the thing for 600 baht. I know it could be more cheaper but I like the shop owner and the assistant, and more importantly the clothes itself. We left at around 5 PM from Mae Sai, just before the sun set. On the way back, we passed by the famous Tham Luang cave where in 2018 twelve Thai boys trapped in.

Border side to Burma
Border control to Burma
Big Buddha
Scorpion Temple
Mae Fah Luang market

On the way back home to Chiang Rai, we passed by a crowded street near the Mae Fah Luang university area. Some street food vendors selling khai tot, crepes, thai tea, fried food, and waffle ball should not be missed. We took a break as well to stretch and also trying some foods.

Mae Fah Luang Food Market

the Clock Tower at 7 PM

Arriving at Chiang Rai, it was almost 7 and we proceed to the Clock Tower. At 7 PM, it showed a light show with music on the background. It was quite okay, but the traffic and crowd around slightly disturb the ambiance. I decided to come back at midnight to enjoy the clock tower.

Clock Tower at 7 PM

After that, we went to the night market just nearby to have a dinner. I devoured a portion of Pad Thai (which is I like most among all Pad Thai I tried in Thailand, I think it is the most authentic one) in the food bazaar just beside the night market. There was a live music on the food bazaar, local artist singing Thai songs. After eating, we explored a bit on the night market and had a one hour Thai massage. My first time trying the Thai massage and I liked it how they stretch our body after a long riding hours from Mae Sai. For massage, most of the parlor there will offer the same price (200 baht per hour for Thai massage, and around 300 bahts for traditional oil massage).

Jetyod Road

Even though I was exhausted, a Tottenham Premier League game could not be missed! So I searched for a nearby sports bar, and found out that the Jetyod Road where I rented my bike was full of bars at night. After looking around for the most comfy place, I chose the Cat Bar which is actually the most visited bar. After parking my motorbike on the side of the street across the bar, I sat and ordered a Singha beer. That was a good night, Tottenham trashed Everton with a 6-2 win!

Jetyod Road Bar

After the Full time whistle was blown and the bar was about to close, I rode my bike to see the Clock Tower at late night. It was nearly 1 AM so nobody was there, I could enjoyed the enthralling clock tower with no traffic on the street.

Clock Tower at Midnight
Second Day
White Temple

Wat Rong Khun is the most mainstream place in Chiang Rai. It is very crowded even in the morning. To be honest, I found this place as the most overrated. The concept of the hell depicted in the yard is quite interesting but apart from that, it is merely a touristy place. You need to pay an admission fee of 50 baht to enter the area. Moving on from here, we departed to the Singha Park.

Wat Rong Khun
Singha Park

Singha Park has lot to offer for a family. They have a restaurant, outdoor games, a mini farm, and a tea plantation sites. They also offer lots of good spot for photo-taking as well. The only thing is that the price of food is quite pricy, if you decided to go all-in backpacker style then you should bring your own food or skip the food in Singha Park to avoid the pricy restaurant there. I was tempted to try the climbing wall activity that costed me 150 baht (quite expensive right?) and my friend tried the zip line ride that she really enjoyed.

Bandaam Museum

This museum was promoted by the famous Thai artist, Thawan Duchanee. I enjoyed how the artist make a concept of hell into a complex, but somehow some display’s concept was seemed forced. My favorite display was the round mini house where some chairs placed on the circumference border inside the house. In the middle was a skin of a dead crocodile. It is weird, but the lighting and acoustic was good making it enthralling to sit inside. Moreover, this place is okay to visit (very touristy as well just like the Wat Rong Khun) but do not expect much from this.

Bandaam Museum
Blue Temple

This was our last destination in Chiang Rai before catching up the evening flight to Bangkok. This temple was actually better than the white one, in my view. It was still full of tourist but the architectural is better than the white. The afternoon light spraying on the temple building made it even enjoyable.

Blue Temple

Returning the bike and getting our deposit, we then hurried to the airport which is quite far from the city. Our grab driver was pretty skillful as she knew the shortcut to the airport as well so we arrived very early. The flight was also delayed, so we spent several hours waiting inside the airport.

Total Expenditure in Chiang Rai

4,154 baht

Rent a bike 2 days                        500
Gasoline First 91                          90
House of Opium entry                       50
Coconut @golden triangle                   35
Sun hat                                   120
Snacks 7-11                                55
Lunch (sweet sour pork+rice+americano)    230
Traditional clothing Mae Sai              600
Snacks Mae Fah Luang                       30
Dinner Pad Thai                            60
Thai massage + tip                        240
Beer at Cat Bar                            80
Gasoline Second 91                         80
White temple admission                     50
Singha Park lunch                         210
Singha Park climbing                      150
Bandaam admission                          80
Snack at blue temple                       55
Dinner                                     49
Accommodation for 2 nights               1150
Bus ticket to Chiang Rai                  240

Tyanna Coffee, a coffee gem in North Sumatera

Our coffee hunter team

Perks of being a business traveler, we do get a lot of chance to visit an offbeat area. This time I had a chance to visit the southern part of North Sumatera, which is the Padang Sidempuan city. If it is not business trip, this city definitely is not on my destination list. Based on the recommendation from a local,  we managed to visit a coffee plantation site in Desa Sugi (approximately 40 mins from Padang Sidempuan).

Where is it?

The place is managed by Mr Harahap and it is called the Tyanna Coffee. It was quite far from the road, but should be manageable to reach the address since other village people will easily direct you to the infamous coffee plantation. We took a 30 minutes break to taste the coffee while hearing a short course about coffee from Mr. Harahap. They served us two different coffee with paper and french press brewing technique, and I found that the french press one was tastier.

Traditional paper drip
French press

Is coffee bad for your stomach?

Well, based on the lecture from Mr. Harahap that coffee usually perceived as the acidic liquid that damage your stomach meanwhile the perception is not fully right. The acidity level of the coffee varies within the bean type and the species of the coffee. Within one species of a coffee bean, the acidity level also varies on the grade of the bean. Grade A to C explains its “premium”ity of the beans. The grade can be told from the appearance of the bean, the good or the premium one looks perfect round without any defect. Worms inside the bean may also affect the acidity level of the bean. The bean farmer always sort their beans into those grades. On most cases when you buy the coffee powder, the quality of the beans are that of the mixed one (middle quality). If you have a stomach problem and still want to enjoy coffee, look for a premium coffee!

Dried luwak coffee
Medium level coffee bean

 

 

 

 

 

If you happen to travel around this area, make sure to drop a visit to this place! Truly a coffee gem in the hidden area in North Sumatera.

Sunrise Hike in Broga Hill

During my last visit to KL, I planned to do the morning hike on some hills nearby KL. Based on the recommendation of my Malay friends, two places came out with one of them is the Bukit Broga. I quickly browsed through about Broga and decided to pay a short visit. The only problem I found that it is only reachable by personal car and no public transport available toward and inward from the site. That did not stop me and in the last minutes I booked a hotel nearby Kajang, hoping that some Grab drivers are up already in the morning to get me to the Broga Hill.

*Trip was on Saturday 29 September 2018, clear weather, not raining the day before so the trail condition is okay.

Accommodation

I stayed in Uptown Imperial Hotel Kajang, with the consideration of proximity toward Broga Hill. I just went there directly from the KLIA without booking the hotel beforehand. I guess it will be safe to get a room there since no tourist attractive place on that area (Kajang). The place was nice, proper for a good rest place before your hike in the morning. There was a cafe and a spa just beside the hotel (Uptown Cafe and Imperial Spa). Arriving quite late, I decided to have a late supper (Nasi Goreng Kampung and Sate Kajang) and rest for the early hike in the next morning.

Itinerary

05:30 Wake up, look up for a Grab driver. No nearby drivers in the first 10 mins but luckily got one after that. Journey took 15 mins to Broga Hill.

06:00 Arriving at the parking lot of Broga Hill, paying 1 RM for entrance fee. Had a breakfast (sliced watermelon for 1 RM) in a foodstall. They also sell nasi lemak and snacks.

06:11 Reaching the Broga Hill entrance gate. Walking for a while until meeting some guys that asking for 1 RM for hiking fee.

06:25 Reached the 1 st hill. Noticing a lots of people were there already.

06:38 Reached the 2nd hill. Sunrise was not there yet.

07:00 Reached the top after queuing (just know that Broga Hill is a very popular place on the weekends) and did not get the beautiful sunrise. There was a saying that first timer would not get the sunrise, you need to be very lucky to get one on your first hike.

After enjoying the moment at the top and taking pictures, I went down through the other trail than the one I used on the way up. Stop near the bottom for a 5 RM Coconut water and finally reaching the gate at 08:00.

Problem of going back

The problem after the hike is getting a car back to the hotel. I tried to use my phone but the connection was just terrible (XL Axiata Priopass), in the end I did not manage to get a connection to order a Grab. Then I asked for a help from Samly (this guy is the son of the lady that guard the parking entrance) to order a Grab for me. We chatted for a while until the Grab driver arrived. Thank you Samly for the kind help!

So the conclusion I want to say is now it is very easy to go to Broga Hill without using personal car. You can use Grab (lots of Grab drivers in Kajang area woke up earlier on the weekends to carry tourist) to get there and going back from there. The thing I did not explore is the other accommodation which is closer to the Broga Hill. I guess there will be closer alternative than the Kajang area (Broga Hill is in Semenyih, 15 mins from Kajang) because I notice the University of Nottingham is just 5 mins away from Broga Hill. There would be an accommodation option nearby the campus.

My thought

Broga Hill is a nice place to have a morning hike for an exercise, the steep hill is also interesting to climb. The view is okay and would be good for chilling in the morning with your friend or family. However, I found that Broga Hill is too famous that makes it too crowded in the weekends. Suggesting to go in the weekdays so you can explore it to the fullest.

The view from the top

3 Days Belitung Island Trip

I always cherish the Eid Mubarak season every year. This year, I went on a 3 days trip to Belitung during eid mubarak with a very good friend of mine. Credit to her, for most of the pictures here. Our itinerary was like this:

First day (half day): East Belitung (Tarsius, Kwan Im Temple, Ahok Village, Manggar, and Laskar Pelangi village), Tanjung Pandan for sunset

Second day (full day): Hopping island + Bukit Berahu

Third day (half day): Kaolin crater + Laskar Pelangi beach, souvenirs shopping

East Belitung

Tarsius park

Forget about the national park where the Tarsius is, you cannot find the Tarsius there anymore. I strongly suggest skipping this attraction.

Kwan Im Temple

This is a Confucianism temple, worshiping the goddess of universal love. This is located on the far east of Belitung, far from everywhere. If you want to get your luck and life to be read, you can try here. It is using the ciamsi or qian shi method that had been used since the hundred years ago. Basically you will pour some wooden sticks (after praying in the altar toward gods) and count the numbers of wooden sticks. The number you get will be matched with the poetry, mainly talk about wisdom, praise (good), or warning (not good luck). Anyway, fun things to try.

 

 

Manggar

Coffee everywhere! A small villages in the East, with a lovely beach. We just passed by the village and went straight to the beach for lunch. There is nothing worth visit in the village itself, since the attractions in East Belitung are Laskar Pelangi and Ahok villages, and the Kwan-Im temple.

Laskar Pelangi village

There are two main attractions regarding the Laskar Pelangi. The Andrea Hirata museum and the school building that is being used for the shooting. We went to both places but chose to enter the latter only. We were not really interested in the literature things and the admission ticket is pricy. Because I was not into the Laskar Pelangi hype that time, these places were just okay. If you mean to go to East Belitung for another purpose, these places can be your 10 minutes short stop (only for taking pics). But a special visit just for these places are not worth the long distance. Just my two cents.

Ahok village

Just like Laskar Pelangi village, just okay for me. Ahok is the famous politician in Indonesia, who was born in Belitung. Basically in Ahok Village, you can visit Ahok’s childhood home and neighborhood. Not really interesting for me. We just paid a short visit to buy some souvenirs and took some pics.

 

Hopping around the islands

This is a full-day activity. What you do is actually hopping from one island to another islands in the area of north-western beach (Pantai Tanjung Kelayang). The typical islands visited are: Pulau Pasir, Pulau Lengkuas, Pulau Kelayang, Pulau Batu Berlayar, and Pulau Burung Garuda (this is not accessible, only viewing for afar).  You need to book the trip beforehand and you can pay later after the island hopping finished. That time I rent Bang Midun’s boat (081949245345) after seeing other’s blog review about his service. His crew is the best! They were always ready wherever we want to go, no complaint at all when we were slacking in some island to chill and drinking coconut water, simply the best! And anyway, one of the guy took good picture as well! The price is around 500,000 IDR. When you choose to use other’s service, bear in mind that the price of one boat should be around that range.

 

The tips for island hopping:

  1. Bring your own lunch from the main island. There are some food stalls in Kelayang and Lengkuas Island, but would not be enough for a fulfilling lunch. You will need a complete meal because you will do a lot of physical activities!
  2. Apply a really good sunblock, and re-apply. The sun is really strong there!
  3. Wear a comfy outfits and always be ready to get wet.
  4. If you start in the morning, make the Pulau Pasir as your first destination because the later it gets, the less accessible it is. The high tide will make the island disappear.
  5. Bring snacks for your energy booster: chocolate and sweets. Do not forget to bring biscuits to feed the fish.

My favourite island is the Kelayang island. The famous rainbow granites are here. It only took several minutes walk into the mini forest to reach there. There were a lot of big stones but the slope is okay, so everyone will have no difficulty to reach it. I reached it after the noon so the tide was quite high already (waist level). To get a good picture, suggest coming earlier to have lower tide level.

Seafood eating spree

We tried two seafood restaurant on the first and third day there. The first one was on the East Belitung and the last one was on the West.

1. RM Sinar Laut Ayung BB

In East Belitung, there are three big restaurants that tourist usually visit: Fega Restaurant, Sinar Laut Ayung BB, and Rudi Fakistan. Ayung BB and Rudi Fakistan are located side by side on Pantai Nyiur Melambai. Both of them served fresh seafood, cooked in local style. We decided to try the Ayung BB because Rudi Fakistan was closed that time (Ramadhan holiday). The verdict about their foods:

Must try their fish soup (Gangan) that is served in fresh herbs with a sour and sweet taste. The others are just normal menu that you can have in any Indonesian seafood restaurant. But, the seafood there are just so fresh! For Jakartans like me who used to eat the not-so fresh sea creatures, Belitung seafood was just tantalizingly good. If only they do not contain so much bad cholesterol though! Total costs for three people were around 200-300 thousands.

2. RM Amat

Here you can enjoy a good seafood with a sea view, because they have a outdoor seating concept just beside the sea. While waiting for your food, you can play at the beach. There are swings nearby so I guess this restaurant is very suitable for family. The food was okay but again, the freshness was just perfect! Look how nice the squid from nearb sea was served with the Padang sauce on the picture. Hmmm. The total cost was almost the same like the first restaurant.

 

 

Coffee everywhere!

Kong Djie coffee is the most famous chain of coffee shops here. It existed since 1943 and all Belitungnese just loved this brand. I tried only one branch in Tanjung Pandan beach (amongst several branches all over Belitung), while waiting for the sunset in Tanjung Pandan beach.

Verdict about the coffee: okay, nothing special about the flavour though.

 

Second eating spree – Hakka Chinese Food

Atep vs Acin

These are the KFC and McDonalds of the Belitung noodle. We tried Acin’s and we loved it. The noodle was not the typical Chinese noodle which is served dry. This one is served alongside some sweet sauce and some fried fishcakes, eggs, and beansprouts. The taste is more strong on the sweetness but somehow still have the refreshing taste. Must try!

Hakka restaurant

We tried a Hakka restaurant based on the driver’s suggestion. I totally forgot the name of the signature dish. It was a pork based dish, served with pork stomach and intestines. Loved this restaurant as well. Must try the local Hakka dish of the Belitungnese.

 

 

 

 

Closing remarks: Belitung is underrated. I love this destination so much. I am not a big fan of beach but still I had a good time there. The foods are also amazing, even though we did not have time to explore all. The price is cheap as well and the beach is still relatively clean. People are also nice! Come and visit Belitung!

*they are building a good hotel and golf range on the seaside so you can even consider playing golf here after doing some water activities

The Exciting Cinque Terre and Romantic Firenze

Italy had always been on my destination plan for a Europe trip. The main reason was Florence (Firenze), which had been in my wish-list after I finished reading Dan Brown’s Inferno. Later I found out that Florence did not meet my expectation because of the very obvious reason that I forgot to consider when I decided to go there on peak season. Anyway, I also wondered about the taste of “real” pizza and pasta in the homeland and also the famous Venice and Pompeii. Due to those reasons, I made up my mind to explore Italy for 8 days, visiting Venice, Florence, Pisa, Cinque Terre, Rome, and Naples. I used trains to travel between all cities and stayed in dormitory style backpacker hostel, and trying to be frugal on spending. I tried to push the spending on accommodation and eating, and I spent a total of £ 738 (or around 830 euros). The cost already included a round-trip ticket from London to Venice and Naples to London respectively. It was exceeding my budget that time, due to unexpected admission fees for museums and almost famous tourist attractions. For example, in order to meet the famous and magnificent David in Florence, I had to pay around 14 euros and pay another 14 euros to see the the birth of Venus on a different gallery.

Cinque Terre

Cinque terre means five terrain, which tells about five main spots in the area. Out of five, I visited all of them. Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso, and one additional (Levanto). The last one was not really worth to visit, it has only a view of buildings with very few tourist activity. The worst thing is it has no trekking part. It was more like a residential place than a touristy place, but if you have spare time you might not want to miss Levanto to enjoy the view. My trip began on Vernazza (the fourth place) to have the hiking trip. When I was there, route between Riomaggiore and Manarola was closed due to safety reason. To walk on the national park, you need to pay 10 euros for a one day trekking card. The trekking card enables you to access all park area, free use of toilet, internet access (well, actually I did not find any accessible Wi-Fi there). Overall, I enjoyed my walk on the national park since the weather on September is perfect for a walk. The only regretful thing is the unavailable route between Riomag and Manarola. During the walk, I got the pass scenic view of a cliff by the sea, small grape plantation, small church, and residential villages. The path is very visible and the road sign is everywhere so you will not get lost. The terrain is moderate, but have some steep terrain on some points. Overall the difficulty is okay, I noticed some elder hike there without any problem though.

Riomaggiore has the nice view of narrow coastal, perfect for sunset. I witnessed a guy proposing to his partner, just before the sun set. What a beautiful time for such a happy event! I tried the famous black ink pasta here as well (had difficulty to find this, like only 1 out of 10 restaurants serve this). My honest judgement was that black ink pasta are overrated. Hahaha. But if you never try it, you should try it to know what I felt when I have to pay for 20 euros for that pasta.

Monterosso is the most liveliest and crowdy amongst all. Nice place to get the sun’s exposure and chilling along the beach. This will probably the most crowdy terre amongst all. It has largest area, a place to sun-bathing, lots of restaurants and cafe, and an interesting marketplace in the alley area. This is my second favorite terre after Riomagg.

My suggestions if you are planning a trip for Cinque Terre:

  1. Buy a one day ticket for the train between all fives terre, because you will end up travel between each other lots of times. Save you money.
  2. Start your journey from the farthest village in the morning, and start your hiking journey towards the nearest (Riomaggiore). You can have a lunch break on Corniglia or Vernazza. Almost all stores open after 12 so it is always a good idea to spend the morning by enjoying the trail and later on sightseeing on the stores and restaurants at noon.
  3. Be aware of the last train toward the town, make sure you do not miss that so you do not have to spend the night in Cinque Terre.
  4. Wear a proper walking / hiking shoes because you will walk a lot!

Florence

Uffizi gallery. Make sure you booked the ticket before you come, or you have to queue. Ticket to be purchased online and then taken at the admission office. There is a time window when you can enter the museum, based on your booking preference. Have to visit because the famous Venus is here. The architecture is also amazing!

Accademia gallery. I went here just to see the famous David by Michelangelo. A must visit palce, you have to see how stunning are the details of the David. Worth the queue and ticket.

Basilica of Santa Maria Novella. Had to pay for the admission. Did not really enjoy the visit because it was a typical catholic church and seemed too common.

Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flower and Duomo. Had to pay for entering, additional costly tour to reach the top of the tower. Some guys in suits will try to convince you to buy the ‘exclusive’ tour to the tower. Don’t buy it, unless you really want to go to the top. You can go to the less higher tower for free, the view was amazing enough. Pretty close with what Dan Brown illustrated in the book. You will need to pass through a narrow staircase, be aware if you are somehow claustrophobic.

Pompeii

Half day trip. Visiting the pompeii, managed to get a free entry pass (maybe they misunderstood me as one of the participants of a huge tour of Chinese people). But you had to pay for the admission to get into the ruin. Upon entering the ruin, follow the route from the east side then you expect to finish the round on the west. That was the best route, you can start with the common ruin, have a break in the field where you can see the mount Vesivius far away. There was a coffee shop nearby where you can have lunch or a coffee break there. Overall, just a bunch of stones and statues. Quite amazing when you can imagine that those are the places you usually saw in the Romanian era movie. Instead, can go to coastal place nearby because Pompeii is a boring place.

Aside from the other cities stated above, I explored Rome, Naples, Pompeii, and Venice but no special stories to write about.

BP Energy Statistical Review 2017

Last Tuesday, 13 June 2017 I had an opportunity to attend the BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2017 launching in BP office in London. I am always interested in reading either BP’s energy outlook or statistical review every year, merely based on my curiosity on how the big fossil fuel players see their business in the future. Compared to a neutral organization like Bloomberg or International Energy Agency, there are some distinct points on big energy* companies’ energy outlook seeing the market share of fossil fuel in the future. They tend to overlook the share of fossil fuel in the future primary energy supply, prefer to underestimate the growth of renewable and alternative energy source other than fossil fuel. Starting from the fact that nobody can predict the future with their outlook, the move makes very sensible motives of the big energy company to favor the optimism of big fossil fuel share since that is the value of their business. The outlook might ensure their stakeholders that everything in the business is still good at least until next twenty years, as most outlook now predict the condition in 2040.

*Now the big oil companies tend to call themselves by energy company in order to remove the trademark of fossil fuel producer, even though the majority of their portfolio is still in oil and gas industry.

The opening speech was done by Lamar McKay, one of BP Deputy Group Chief Executive. He emphasized on the declining coal usage in power industry, the stagnation of carbon emission, and the strategy to achieve the emission commitment as declared in COP20 at Paris. Shortly, he also mentioned briefly about BP’s strategy on surviving the energy industry by altering their upstream investment in the gas field and strengthening their presence in the downstream industry as lube producers. Especially, he mentioned about six from seven major projects in upstream sector are gas field drilling to justify their strategy on prioritizing gas-related investment. Natural gas is the cleanest fossil fuel compared to the others, especially coal as it emits around two times carbon than natural gas. Most people believed that natural gas is the bridge fuel for the transition from fossil fuel dominated power sector into the renewable energy powered.

The main talk was delivered by Spencer Dale, the chief economist of BP. Two main points that he emphasised were the short run adjustment and long run transition of world energy. Some issues in energy that he talked about are the resilience of tight oil that play an important part in the oil market and the unwillingness of OPEC to cut production in November 2014 when oil price started to crash. OPEC’s power to handle the market crash seemed unapparent, so the result of the event was the permanent shock and the long-term structural imbalance of the oil market. OPEC can do temporary adjustment to the stock of oil in order to stabilize the market. But no one knows what will be the stability price of oil in the next 5 or 10 years.

Natural gas, despite the expected prospect as new fuel to replace coal in power generation showed positive but slow growth. The number of gas trade through long-term contract decreased, as more short-term and small size contract became more prevalent. Added by prospect of LNG and USA shale gas capacity, gas market is expected to grow more competitive where LNG might plays an important part.

Renewables will only contributing up to 4% of primary energy supply despite its unexpected fast growth in power generation sectors due to falling cost of solar and wind energy. However, the variability of renewable power still very dependable on weather condition in the location which makes it less reliable to provide big share in the power supply. There was a question during the Q&A session that argued that the lack of renewable growth is in implication of not high enough carbon tax. It is still debatable about renewables, about what can drive more renewables penetrating the energy market. Spencer opined that price will be the deciding factor, and the way you drive the prices are numerous. However, which one will be effective is still debatable.

It was such a valuable experience for me, being the students amongst all professional with suits from a different background. Some are market analyst and trader, some are consultants, and some come from academics. The presence of fossil fuel industry is unexpectedly still very prominent in the energy industry, hence I am curious and excited for the energy industry transition that may happen in the near future.

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro S Review

Well, I am a new Samsung Tab Pro S user and been using it for one month. I bought it on Currys PC High Street Kensington, London for £ 499. I bought an EJ-PW7000 pen for £ 40 to enable the note writing feature. Overall, the transition from using heavy ASUS A-42JR laptop to lightweight Tab Pro S has been a pleasant experience. I am using this tab as a productive tools, mainly for note taking during lecture, processing word and spreadsheet documents, also running some optimisaiton programs for coursework, and entertainment basic like video and musics. I have not tried to play any games but I think it would be only for some basic games, not the resource intensive one.

Why I chose this over Microsoft Surface Pro 4? and iPad Pro

The 2in1 tablet laptop market mainly dominated by microsoft surface as the premium product, as Samsung tried to penetrate the market in 2016 with Tab Pro S. I did not consider iPad Pro because I want Windows OS so it did not count in my consideration. Truthfully, I chose Tab Pro S because it was cheaper than the SP 4. Back there, with student discount of 10% reduction, I need to pay around £ 770 for the SP4 with keyboard (typecover) so around £ 200 difference between the two of them with the same specifications (I bought the Intel M3 processor by the way). As I always look at the value, for standard office and internet activities purpose the Tab Pro S will be better. Maybe if you are a graphic designer, SP4 is worth to consider. I noticed the pen sensitivity is better in SP4, the pen design is more comfortable thatn Samsung’s.

Another consideration is the battery; some review in the internet said that SP4 is not so good for its battery life. Even though the Tab Pro S is not so good also, but it is still better thatn SP4.

Minus points

  • AMOLED display is not as good as SP4’s super screen resolution but I think it is good enough for watching HD movies.
  • The monitor only has two angles, 15 degree or 75 degree. SP4 has adjustable agle for the monitor. Yeap, this it the biggest minus point of Tab Pro S in myh opininon.
  • No backlight keyboard, yeah sometimes it is matter.

Plus points!

  • No need to buy a case because the keyboard is bundled as a case for the whole tab, not like SP4 that you need to buy case protection to avoid scratch.
  • Easy handling, easy switch to tablet and laptop mode. Very mobile! You can just flip your laptop in 2 seconds and you are ready to go.
  • Windows 10! Windows 10 is the good improvement, I love how quick it is and love the cortana feature altough it is not as smart as Siri. Haha.

Yeap, that is what I can share right now after 1 month of using this convenient devices that had helped much during lectures and study activities. I hope this post can help you find the insight when considering to buy a 2in1 laptop which I think will be the mainstream laptop in the future. Cheers!

Bunaken! Another perks of being a field engineer

Yeap, this is a post for remembering my field engineer days back in 2015. As a field engineer, you got to travel, a lot. Somehow it brought you to the place so beautiful or so remote that you even do not want to go back again for the next job. Luckily, I got a jackpot for the Lahendong geothermal job in North Sulawesi. With a perfect timing, the job was finished on time (well drilled) so I got released then have time to explore Bunaken!

Bunaken is an infamous underwater park with beautiful corals ecosystem (even slightly damaged) and good snorkeling and diving spots. Unfortunately, we did not have GoPro at that time so we cannot get good picture of the underwater view. We hired a underwater photograph but seemingly that guy only took the pictures of us feeding tropical fishes and some not so good photo of us holding on to the corals whilst holding out our breath.

We visited on not peak day, it is a week day I think that I met no tourists group there. We rented a private speed boat, accompanied by two local guys that bring us to three snorkeling spots. We expected to meet the legendary turtle back there, but unfortunately we did not meet him. Basically, on the package they offer to you you will get three snorkeling spots, equipment rents, and lunch. As a fish eater, I loved the food there. You can choose the fishes you want to be grilled with Manado spice style. I love their chillies, they are so good that I eat more than one portion.

I’ve been snorkeling in Bali, and I can say that Bunaken is far better. It is less damaged, the fish species are more varied and more beautiful. I met some fish species that are weird, some baloon look alike fish, and rainbow fish. It was magical under the water, the time flew so fast there. I bet diving will be more exciting as you will go deeper to see more beautiful scenery and more fishes, weirder species one. Maybe met the legendary turtle! I really recommended this place as it is not that expensive, even could be cheaper if you travel with more people so you can rent bigger ships with cheaper price. We did not stay at the island because the price is high, we prefer to go back to Manado which is 45 minutes boat ride. There are lots of cheap inn and hotel nearby the port, so do not worry.

This is some of the evidence of our trips, can you imagine the feeling you got after finishing work at this place:

Drilling site of Lahendong Geothermal
Drilling site of Lahendong Geothermal

To have fun at this paradise:

Bunaken1 Bunaken2

I hope our government (specially North Sulawei government) can promote and support the local players of tourist industry, and we as Indonesian people should explore more places in Indonesia as travel destinations. If you travel there, you will help the local economics to grow! Please explore our local travel destinations.