As a business traveler, I always opt for three things while choosing a hotel: location, the work desk ambiance, and the gym facility. First thing you do not want to have is spending too much time on the journey to reach or to go out from your hotel to your business meeting. Secondly, most of the time in the hotel room you need to work with your laptop on the office matters. And last but the most important is the availability of sport facility to keep your fitness level as a frequent business traveler. Talking about Balikpapan – the most advanced city in Kalimantan to which I mostly traveled on business matter, I only have limited preference of hotel before. The closest hotel from the Sepinggan Airport – Balikpapan used to be the Grand Tjokro, around 10 mins drive from the airport. It has decent breakfast and quite okay gym room – very limited equipment with a sandbag. However, the room ambiance was too dark to work on. In late 2019, I have another alternative as the Four Points Sepinggan opened to public.
the room – perfect blend of excellent lighting and neat room decoration
The room size is quite generous – not too big though. I like the lighting and the room decoration that just not seem too much to show the wood element they chose as the dominant element. On the corner you might see a decoration of Dayaknese in a white- painted appearance. The lighting reminds you of a cozy and warm study room, turning into a lazy reading room when you move into the sofa where the lighting seems more relaxing.
the breakfast – my favorite breakfast service of all time!
Indomie, oriental dish, local dishes, granola-cereals-oats, fruits, all name it except the Kenari crab meat are all ready fresh when you need to start the day. I love the breakfast in Four Points Balikpapan very much.
24-hours gym? wow
24 hours access gym, complete with all important machines and equipment, including the yoga set as well. There is a spacious space for class in the middle. Anyway, who does not love an all time access gym? The swimming pool is not 24 hours by the way.
friendly and responsive crews! including free shuttle service to or from the airport
the crews in plaid uniform are always ready to serve you. The free shuttle service from the airport is the best solution to reach the hotel, which you can book before checking in. A guy from the hotel will hold a board with your name upon the arrival gate. Very helpful!
the downside – quite far from the city if you want to visit the shopping centre
It takes some time to go to the nearest mall or shopping centre. Not to mention it is far from the nearest restaurant as well. So if you want to spend some time shopping, at least spare 1 hour for the travel time to reach and going back from the mall.
another downside – lengthy queue on certain cases
For coincidental same arrival time for all hotel guests, sometimes the check-in time would require up to 20 mins. There are two receptionists but on some peak and busy hours, up to 8 people might arrive in the same time using the free pick up service from the airport.
the sustainability – they sometimes still change your towel
They still change the towel I was meaning to re-use it on the next day. I keep it on the hanger, a code for “I will use it again” but anyway on the next day I always find it being changed. Not that sustainable – hope the practice can be realized not just as a note on the bathroom.
In summary, I love to stay here on my business trip. They have everything to offer a frequent flyer people that need a good place to work, quiet place to rest, and facility to do some sports. Good job team!
Perjalanan ini memang singkat karena efektif cuman sekitar 1 hari namun banyak sekali yang kita lakukan. Sarapan di Malang, nyari jajanan, jalan kaki menjelajah museum dan alun-alun, sempat main di Gramedia Malang, nongkrong di Toko Oen, istirahat di losmen AiryRoom sebelum begadang, makan gado-gado komplek super pedes, perjalanan tengah malam naik hardtop diselingi angin sepoi-sepoi Malang, nungguin sunset sambil ngantuk-ngantuk ngebayangin indomie yang tadi dimakan, mensyukuri nikmatnya makan dan tidur di tengah dinginnya Bromo, melihat munculnya matahari yang malu-malu sehingga terlihat gagahnya gunung Semeru dan puncaknya di sebelah timur. Naik ke kawah Bromo, mereward diri sendiri dengan semangkok bakwan malang dan cilok pedes, melihat horizon di padang pasir berbisik sambil melihat orang-orang sibuk berfoto dengan pose andalan untuk posting media sosialnya. Kembali dari Bromo, matahari sudah naik dan udara hangat menyambut saat kita masuk ke gerbang kota Malang. Macet menanti sehingga lapar yang kami rasakan kami ganjar dengan makan siang rawon. Di tulisan ini, mencoba sedikit berbagi mengenai cerita perjalanan saya beserta sedikit tips jika kamu ingin kesana. Bersama orang yang tepat, memori sesimpel apapun terasa menyenangkan saat diingat. Partner perjalanan saya kali ini sangat asik dan tangguh! More stories to come!
Trip 24 jam menjelajah kota Malang dan sekitarnya + 300 ribu rupiah open trip via Malang ke Taman Nasional Bromo Tengger Semeru.
What to visit in Bromo area: Kawah Bromo, Bukit Teletubbies, Pasir Berbisik, dan Sunrise Bukit Cinta.
Menjajaki kuliner dan jajanan populer di Malang: Cwimie Hok Lay, Rawon Nguling, dan Toko Oen.
Penasaran dengan Bromo dan Semeru – saya tidak pernah berkesempatan untuk datang ke Bromo ataupun Semeru sebelumnya. Saya sudah cukup banyak jalan-jalan baik itu untuk liburan maupun urusan kerjaan ke daerah-daerah di Indonesia, namun belum pernah sempat main kesana. Di awal Desember 2019, saya berkesempatan untuk main ke Malang dan saya menyempatkan untuk main ke Bromo. Tujuannya ingin melihat bagaimana indahnya Bromo dan Semeru dari kejauhan, sambil menikmati matahari terbit disana. Karena saya pernah memakai jasa Nahwa Tour sebelumnya untuk open trip ke Banyuwangi dan cukup oke , saya memesan slot open trip di Nahwa Tour. Harga open trip Bromo semuanya sama di kisaran 300 ribu rupiah include penjemputan di kota Malang.
Untuk menuju Bromo sendiri ada beberapa cara menuju kesana, yaitu melalui Malang dan Probolinggo. Jangan ketuker antara Purbalingga dan Probolinggo ya. Bromo sendiri terletak diantara beberapa Kabupaten, Kabupaten Malang, Pasuruan, Lumajang, dan Probolinggo. Open trip paling populer dan umum melalui Malang, dan kebetulan banyak yang ingin dijelajahi dan dicoba di Malang jadi kita lewat Malang saat itu.
Perjalanan Jakarta – Malang
Flight pagi jam 7 dari Halim menggunakan Batik Air menuju Malang. Sesampai bandara, kita langsung tancap menuju alun-alun Malang untuk mencari sarapan. Tujuan pertama adalah bakmi ayam!
Sarapan pagi dan kuliner di Malang, mengintip museum Brawijaya
Untuk pilihan bakmi ayam, kami sepakat untuk mencoba cwimie di Kedai Hok Lay. Unik banget tampilannya, dengan bakwan lebar dan selada yang besar. Tekstur mienya lembut banget, tidak seperti bakmi Medan atau Kalimantan. Namun rasanya menurut saya terlalu asin. Tapi untuk yang ke Malang wajib sih nyobain ini, sekalian nyobain minuman khasnya yang rasa moka. Lokasi dekat banget dengan alun-alun kota Malang. Di dekat sana juga ada Rawon Nguling yang lumayan top disana. Kami sempat mencoba di hari kedua setelah pulang dari Bromo, namun menurut saya rasanya biasa saja seperti rawon biasanya. Rawon Sampit Bandara jauh lebih enak.
Setelah sarapan pagi, kita menuju museum Brawijaya untuk mengisi waktu. Sayangnya kita tidak berlama-lama disini karena tidak terlalu banyak yang menarik. Barang yang dipajang terlalu banyak dan informasi kurang lengkap. Kemudian, kita meluncur ke Toko Oen yang terkenal dengan dessertnya.
Dekorasi dan ambience di Toko Oen asik banget, klasik dan santai buat ngobrol sore gitu tipenya. Wajib dicoba mampir saat ke Malang.
Perjalanan tengah malam menuju Bromo
Tepat sekitar setengah 1 malam, kita dijemput oleh driver hardtop Toyota untuk menuju gerbang Bromo. Perjalanan ke pintu masuk taman nasional sekitar 1 jam. Kemudian perjalanan melintasi padang pasir sekitar 1 jam setengah. Asik banget! Angin malam sejuk menemani laju hardtop yang lumayan ngebut, disertai deru mobil lainnya yang mencapai ratusan. Bromo populer sekali! Setelah pagi dan mathari muncul, saya baru sadar ternyata yang kita lewati adalah padang pasir yang terkenal itu.
Sampai di check-point, kita menunggu sunrise yang masih sekitar 2 jam lagi. Tentunya waktu sebanyak itu, sebagian kita isi dengan menghangatkan badan dengan semangkuk Indomie goreng + telor dan segelas wedang jahe hanget. Harga makanan disana normal, jadi jangan takut untuk makan disana akan diketok harganya.
FYI, poin sunrise kita di Bukit Cinta. Tour guide menyarankan agar kita menunggu disana, karena Bukit Penanjakan terlalu jauh. Info yang saya dapatkan sih Bukit Penanjakan jauh lebih bagus karena lebih tinggi sehingga view yang didapatkan lebih cantik karena tidak terhalang Tengger. Bukit Cinta ramai sekali, mungkin karena semua orang yang ikut tour disarankan untuk menunggu disana. Anyway, kami tidak beruntung mendapat sunrise karena tertutup bukit namun mendapatkan momen yang memorable. Setelah matahari naik dan terang, rombongan mobil turun ke padang pasir untuk menuju kawah Bromo.
Untuk menuju kawah Bromo, bisa jalan kaki atapun naik kuda. Tarif yang ditawarkan sekitar 100 ribu rupiah. Kami memutuskan untuk jalan menanjak menuju lokasi yang berjarak sekitar 3 km. Kawah Bromo memang menarik sekali, dalam kondisi yang masih aktif kita bisa melihat indahnya kawah yang ditambahi asap belerang. Penanjakan akan terbayar penuh dengan indahnya cekungan kawah.
Turun dari kawah, kami bersantap makan khas Malang yaitu Bakwan Malang. Nikmat sekali adem-adem sambil makan bakso.
Kemudian kita menuju Pasir Berbisik, tempat yang terkenal karena film terkenal Christine Hakim di tahun 2001. Tour guide akan membawa kita ke spot-spot yang Instagrammable agar peserta bisa berfoto khas Bromo. Percaya saja deh dengan mereka, sudah ribuan kali mereka mengambil foto turis disini.
TIPS AND TRICKS
Pilih Bukit Penanjakan untuk melihat matahari terbit! Mungkin saat low season kita bisa jalan kesana tanpa perlu berjibaku dengan turis-turis lain.
Jika ingin merasakan pengalaman berbeda, bisa dicoba untuk menyewa motor trail untuk menuju Bromo. Penyewaan motor sekitar 250 ribu rupiah.
Bromo cukup dingin, jadi pastikan pakai lengkap berlayer dan tutup kepala dan scarf. Saya sendiri pakai sarung tangan juga karena menjelang subuh dingin sekali.
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.
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)
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
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:
*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.
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.
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.
Dinner Labuan Bajo 50,000
Water + snacks 30,000
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.
Being 2 days without internet or mobile signal, it surely refreshes my mind. Actually, being away from mobile for 2 days were nice!
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!
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:
Watudodol – Pulau Menjangan – Bangsing
Taman Nasional Baluran
Taman Nasional Meru Betiri
Taman Nasional Alas Purwo
Pantai Pulau Merah – Pantai Mustika
Taman Nasional Bali Barat
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).
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
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)
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
Perjalanan kembali ke bandara dan terbang ke Jakarta.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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?
*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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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 Banyuwangi yang wajib coba:
Telur asin asap, kopi Banyuwangi, asem-asem, sambel khas Banyuwangi.
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.
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.
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
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.
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:
The border market
Wat Phra That Doi Wao
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.
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.
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.
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).
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Accommodation for 2 nights 1150
Bus ticket to Chiang Rai 240
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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:
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!
Apply a really good sunblock, and re-apply. The sun is really strong there!
Wear a comfy outfits and always be ready to get wet.
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.
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.
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!
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
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 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:
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.
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.
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.
Wear a proper walking / hiking shoes because you will walk a lot!
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.
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.
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.