Indonesia is not just Bali!

Even it was too early to take summer holiday in June, but I just couldn’t stand anymore for not taking as earliest as I can. It’s been almost two years since I came back home to see my beloved family and friends. Well, I would not tell you about how excited I was for coming back home, of course I was. However, I’ll introduce you something you’ve never heard about Indonesia.

Indonesia is the largest archipelago country in the world, comprises 13.466 islands, including main and small islands, which some of them is still uninhabited and remains unnamed.

If you had notice, we’re located in the equator, so that’s the reason why we have tropical climate with two seasons, dry and rainy. Thunderstorm and heavy rain are very usual for us. We’ve never waited the rain to stop to go out, because when it rains it would be taking for the whole day or sometimes it will continue until the next day. Most Indonesian people would never complain about the weather like people always do in Europe when the weather goes bad, just don’t forget to bring your umbrella or your raincoat everywhere.  Or, just in case if you forgot to bring one, don’t be upset, there will be a lot of pop-up umbrella services almost in every public spot such, malls, schools, universities, etc. Some of them are  free of charge (ex: restaurant, cafe, or small shops) because their guardian or parking man would turn into an umbrella man for their customers. However, some of them are the real service which you have to pay them for the umbrella rental. The price is somehow quite variable, between 1000 – 5000 IDR per umbrella (about 6 – 32 cents) , depends on where you are and your final destination. You will find a lot of children (age 10th to 17th) hanging umbrellas and ready to cover you to your closest destination. People said we’re pretty creative in creating job. As long as you have a willing to do something, you would never be unemployed.

a view taken from my hotel hallway

Since I still had two days left  for my business trip, so my first stopover in Indonesia was Batam island, it just located next to Singapore. We need one hour to go through the strait by ferry. But, thanks to one hour different time between Singapore and Indonesia, when i supposed to be arrived one hour later since my departure time, my arrival time remains the same as my departure time. I stayed in Harris Hotel, a 4 stars hotel located next to my ferry harbour. I was so lucky when I got there, there’s a new islamic building just finished their construction a week before I arrived. At first, I thought it was a mosque, I was surprised when the local said that the Batam government built the islamic building to welcome the MTQ participants (National Competition of reading Al Qur’an). They said even the President of Republic of Indonesia just came to the city a week before to open the inauguration.

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Finally, Semarang, the capital city of Central Java province, located in Java Island. Since I’ve been away from home for two years, so I did not have much time to visit some iconic sites in Semarang. Well, this one is quite famous, the Great Mosque of Central Java. The mosque complex covers 10 hectares (25 acres). There are three central buildings arranged in the shape of a U, with the domed mosque at the centre; all buildings have pitched, tiled roofs, while the central mosque has four minarets. The central roof resembles the roof of a “joglo“, the traditional Javanese house, and symbolises the rising steps toward heaven or to gain God’s blessing. The long buildings forming the arms of the U house a library and auditorium respectively; the auditorium can hold up to 2,000 people. (source: wikipedia) A friend told me that I have to visit it twice, in the morning and at night, cause they would definitely give you different view.

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The second place to visit was Umbul Sidomukti Tourism Park, located in Ungaran regency, 1 hour 30 minutes driving from Semarang. This place was just amazing. They had natural swimming pool, camping site, food court, flying fox, outbound activities, hotel, cafe and restaurant. If you need a peaceful place to go, this place would be a perfect sweet escape for you.

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Next, my hometown, the city where I grew up, Bandung, the capital city of West Java province, still in Java Island. the country’s third largest city by population, and second largest metropolitan area in Indonesia with a sprawling urban population of 8.6 million in 2011. Located 768 metres (2,520 ft) above sea level, approximately 140 kilometres (87 miles) south-east of Jakarta, Bandung has cooler temperatures year-round than most other Indonesian cities. The city lies on a river basin surrounded by volcanic mountains. (source: wikipedia).

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If I’d never lived abroad, I might never taking this famous building in Bandung. This building is a government office for Governor of West Java, called Satay Building “gedung sate”, which is a reference to the shape of the building’s central pinnacle – which resemble the shape of one of the Indonesian traditional dish called satay (source: wikipedia).

Talking about Bandung is talking about food, many domestic and international tourists come to visit Bandung only for our culinary. We have lots of restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, tea shops, bars, snacks shops, and thousands of street foods who serves diverse foods and beverages from traditional to international cuisine, but please note: with a local taste. The most thing I’ve written on my visit lists was the foods that I used to eat when I lived here. I had only 2 days to spend my days in Bandung, which is It was absolutely not enough because I had a very long lists of restaurants and cafes that I used to go before.

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Well, let me show you one of my favorite restaurant in Bandung, located in the north of Bandung, called Boemi Joglo, actually it was not a Bandung traditional cuisine, it is mostly Javanese typical food, but, I’ve never found any better restaurant who serves at least as delicious as they had. They have speciality in making a “Nasi Liwet” or Liwet rice. It was prepared in the traditional pan and cooked using the firewood. So I think that’s why they have a special taste on it. The picture above is a javanese street food called “tempe mendoan”. The ingredients are tempeh (fermented from soja bean), flour, oil to fry, onion leeks, coriander, salt, and garlic powder (I guess). It serves with Indonesian sweet soya sauce, tiny lime, and chilies). The picture below was “Liwet rice”. The ingredients are mushrooms, chicken, traditional spices (which is I couldn’t mention it one by one), indonesian sweet soja sauce, and basilic.

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So, Indonesia is not just Bali as well as France is not just Paris!

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one day visit to Singapore

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Universal Studio – Sentosa Island

Singapore, a small country in Southeast-Asia which comprises with the main island – linked by a causeway and a bridge to the southern tip of Malaysia – and around 50 smaller islands, includes Sentosa Island where you can find the famous Universal Studio. (source: bbc).

Even if I am Indonesian who supposed to be easy to visit Singapore without any visa requirement, but actually it was my first time to have at least one day for getting around in Singapore. Oh, thanks Boss for the business trip opportunity!

I arrived on Saturday afternoon in June and felt very tired. I was no surprise, I had a very long journey since the day before; 2 hours early train headed up to Paris, 1 hour on Parisian metro and RER, then stuck in the airplane because they announced air trafic before take off, 15 hours of flight to KL, couples hours of transit, before I finally touched down in Changi Airport, Singapore – so I decided to have dinner at the Hotel and sleep.

I was a little bit surprise because I woke up at 7 am in the next morning, which means I did not have to struggle with the jetlag. I’ve prepared myself and had a very big brunch at the Hotel. Oh how I missed having an Asian brunch so much. In European hotels, they would never serve any porridge, fried rice, or dumplings, which is in Asian hotels, they were just a must.

A big breakfast for Asian is very important, because we need to eat a lot in the morning so we can stand to work or study and stay focus until the lunch time’s coming. We usually did not have a coffee break in the morning, I mean we could have a coffee while working, but not literally like a typical coffee break in Europe. I’ve remembered when I was in elementary and secondary school, we’ve never had a pause until the lunch time. So, that’s the reason why we usually have a very big brunch in the morning.

I stayed in Gallery Hotel near Clarke quay, one of a historical riverside quay in Singapore, located within the Singapore River Planning Area (source: wikipedia). I decided to walk through the riverside and tried to find an MRT station – which is at the end I couldn’t find any. I blamed myself for not bringing any city maps. Finally I found a city sightseeing hop on hop off bus stop. I believe I would never get lost with this bus, which was good for a person who’re not be able to read a map like me. The ticket bus was not expensive, I’ve paid only for 17 S$  for adult, and the driver said I still can use it for 24 hours counting by your first validation time.

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yellow citycab in Little India, Singapore

My first stop was in Little India district. To be honest, this was not my favorite district in Singapore, it was very crowded and I didn’t feel safe at all. Unless you love Indian food and Indian Sari, it was a perfect place to visit. Despite of the crowded, one thing I love the most of this district is the colorful houses, it is indeed a little India.

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Colorful shops in Little India

The next stop was Chinatown, a must visit district in Singapore. I love this place a lot, it is simply because I believe that I would never being afraid of starving. There’s food everywhere not only for chinese food, but almost from all over the world. Which means it would be very difficult to decide where would you make your tummy happy. Despite of street foods, cafes and restaurants, you can find also lots of souvenirs shops in Chinatown. By the time you walk through the small street, you will find a giant Chinese temple in front of town hall where you can find the locals dancing and do some aerobics. Which was quite entertaining.

Budha Tooth Relic Temple, Chinatown, Singapore
Budha Tooth Relic Temple, Chinatown, Singapore

It was a hot day at that time. Even though I grew up in tropical country, but the fact that I am now living in northwest of France, simply making me feel very uncomfortable with a very hot and humid weather like this, so I decided to go to Marina bay building complex and went into a giant commercial center to have some fresh fake air (read: Air Conditioning). Actually, if you walk on top of the building, you will see an amazing view of Botanic gardens and the art science museum.

Marina bay building complex
Marina bay building complex
singapore flyer taken from Marina bay building complex
Singapore flyer taken from Marina bay building complex

It was 6 pm and it’s time to me to go to Singapore flyer, this was actually the first most visit that I’ve had written on my list and I’d save the best for the last. It is simply because the best time to see a city skyscraper is when the sun goes down. The end of my perfect day.

the view from the top of Singapore flyer
the view from the top of Singapore flyer