Monday, December 22, 2014

My Travel Bucket

Just thought of my own bucket list of 100 cities I would love to visit...actually created it based on 50 must visit cities from one travel site and added others that I would love to visit. The bold ones are the ones I managed to visit already.

1. Paris (France)
2. London(England)
3. Venice (Italy)
4. Rome (Italy)
5. Gold Coast (Aus)
6. Cape Town (SA)
7. Auckland (NZ)
8.  Zurich, Switzerland
9. Amsterdam (Holland)
10. Las Vegas (USA)
11. Maldives (Asia)
12. Rio De Janerio (Brasil)
13. Cairo (Egypt)
14. Dubai (U.A.E)
15. Tibet, China
16. Florence(Italy)
17. Edinburgh (Scotland)
18. Milan (italy)
19. Madrid (Spain)
20. Lima (Peru)
21. Santorini (Greece)
22. Prague (checzh)
23. Agra (India)
24. Allepey(Backwaters), Kerala
25. Bali, Indonesia
26. Koh Phi Phi (Thai)
27. Bangkok (Thai)
28. Chiang Mai & Chiang Rai (Thai)
29. Singapore 
30. Yogyakarta , Indonesia 
31. Phuket, Thailand
32. Hanoi, Vietnam
33. Pisa, Italy
34. Istanbul, Turkey
35. Berlin, Germany
36. Shanghai, China
37. Kathmandu, Nepal
38. Simla, India
39. Hong Kong
40. Okinawa (Japan)
41. Seoul, Korea.
42. Tioman , Malaysia
43. Vienna , Austria
44. Sydney, Aus
45. Buenos Aires, Arg
46. ST Petersburg, Russia
47. Barcelona, Spain
48.New York, US
49. Miami
50. Kandi, Sri Langka
51.Vatican City
52. Melbourne (Aus)
53. Marrakech ( Morrocco)
54. Yangon, Myanmar
55.Bandung, Indonesia
56. Siem Riep, Cambodia
57.Colombo, Sri Langka
58. Ayutthaya, Thai
59. Pattaya, Thai
60. Ho Chih Minh, Vietnam
70. Mumbai, India
71. Mexico
72  Budapest, Hungary
73. Moscow
74. Langkawi, Malaysia
75. Kolkata, India
76. Chennai, India
77. Varanasi, India
78. Macau, China
79. Beijing, China
80. Guangzhou, China
81. Hanoi, Vietnam
82. Manila, Philipines
83. Boracay, Philipines
84. Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
85. Kuching, Malaysia
86. Koh Lipe, Thai
87. Hadyai, Thai
88. Krabi, Thai
89. Bangalore, India
90. Vientiene, Laos
91. Melbourne, Aus
92.Trichy, India
93. East Coast, Malaysia
94. Cameron Highlands, Malaysia
95. Malang, Indonesia
96. KanyaKumari, India
97. South Kerala, India
98. Cochin, India
99. Medan, Indonesia

and of course I saved the best for last -

100. Honolulu, Hawaii










Thursday, November 20, 2014

Yuk, Yogyakarta (Let's go, Yogyakarta)


This trip, we took the KLIA 2 Aerobus from Premier Hotel. its sooo convinient for Klangites. Took the 6.30am bus and reached there in an hour. As usual Air Asia flight delay by half hour. Then, as we reached Adisucipto Airport , we were not given Clearance for landing - another half hour on air. Then long queue at immigration check point due to small airport. At last, we reached our hotel at 1 pm.


As I always said, I only review those lesser known hotels as there wont be much reviews about them. Melia Purosani is 5 star, so I'll just summarize my experience. It's an old hotel but well maintained, service with smile, big beautiful rooms with beautiful views of pool and garden, all fully equipped with bathtub and amenities. Walking distance to Malioboro Road. Suitable for family with young children. 



So, here goes my trip which begins with an adventure. As it is my son, Dev's birthday, we decided to bring him to Angkut Museum (Transportation Museum). Unfortunately, it is in Kota Batu, Malang which 8-10 hours drive away from Jogja. I found out about this place after getting Jogja tickets and also found that the distance from Surabaya is nearer than from Jogja but we decided to do it anyway, as my kids will enjoy it. 
So we began the journey at 11pm on Friday. Driver took Solo -Ngawi road to Batu. We reached Batu at 7am. We were greeted by a beautiful sunrise.





What is in Batu? It is a beautiful highland with many amusement parks. One of it is Angkut  Museum.


Anyway, before we went there, we just rested at a guesthouse. Then at about 10, we went to have brunch at an interesting restaurant. Jungle Resto@ D Pohon Inn. It is simple food (like Chinese Mix Rice) served at a restaurant that looks like a jungle. They have an area which revolves and if u sit there you get to see some animals from the back door zoo. The leopards and panthers will just take a walk in their cage which is attached to the place you dine. There is only a glass partition between you and the wild animals. Food was ok - basic rice, mix vege, fried chicken, fish balls etc. But kids will enjoy looking at the animals during their mealtime.



Spot the spotty?




You do not need to purchase any park ticket to eat at Jungle Resto. In fact, you can take many pics around all the buildings at the entrance of JATIM Park & Pohon Inn. Colourful place. This is only one of the many parks in this town.





Wildlife Park


Then we went straight to Angkut Museum as ticket counter opens at 11am. After getting tickets, we went after they opened at 12pm. They close only at 8pm. Tickets are at 55k weekdays and 75k on weekends. Children above 85cms is full rate :(
















The place is big. It is mainly all classic cars (well, its a museum) but beautifully arranged with different settings and decor. There are 6 sections - Edu Zone, Batavia Zone, Europe Zone, Gangster Town, Vegas & Hollywood Zone
It was well worth the trip. The kids enjoyed, but got tired as its a big place. 
Oh and before I forget... The views here are magnificent as it is on a highland. You can stay for good 3 days and enjoy the weather, scenery and the parks. There is also night park.



We left Museum Angkut at 4pm straight to Jogja. We had a very good driver. We were back before midnight. 

Next day, our Jogja adventure begins. We started at about 10am, left to Prambanan Temple, which is about 45 minutes drive. The tickets were ridiculously priced as compared to locals. We knew earlier that it is half price if you have student card, but we didn't manage to find our old ones. Even hubby was recently sent to Harvard Business School by his company, but couldn't find that student card either. So, no choice, full price it is for us. We also paid for a guide at the counter. I would advise on getting a guide as they would explain the full story that is sculpted around the temple walls. Else, you would be going around looking blankly at the same thing as it is the same structure throughout the temple.
Long distance walk from ticket counter to entrance



I would just post pictures here as you can get information about the temple from the net.










After Prambanan visit, you can take tram to a smaller candi within temple grounds - Candi Sewu (Thousand Temple). From the ruins you can see that there were so many small candi's built here.




The exit brings you to rows and rows of shops selling souvenirs, woodwork, batik. They are dirt cheap, even without haggling(maybe coz we were there when IDR value was dropping). You can get the same things in Malioboro for about the same price too.

After candi visit, we ate at a restaurant nearby.
Caged rooster at Restaurant Bale Bengong. Eating by the paddy fields and koi ponds.

Somehow, none of the food in Jogja(Central Java) suited our taste. They are more sweet than spicy. West Java(Sunda) had really spicy food which was tasty. 

There are many more smaller Candi's around that you can visit. Usually, the driver will suggest the ones that are worth visiting. As we still had time before our reservation at Abhayagiri for my son's birthday celebration, we went to see the Highest Candi in Jogja - Candi Ijo, which means Green Candi.
View from Canji Ijo

Can u see what the clouds were cooking?

Hubby was busy taking pictures when it suddenly started to pour. It was a heavy downpour; we got wet but enjoyed the experience. 
I expected rain and brought change of clothes for the kids. All got warm and went to Abhayagiri for our small birthday celebration with Prambanan in the background. We had a beautiful evening there.
Birthday celebration @ Abhayagiri with Candi background



We had a beautiful evening here

The night was spent around Malioboro, which is only walking distance from our hotel. Since it was raining,we just walked around had dinner in Malioboro Mall. 

On Monday, we started early, at 8am we left to Magelang, a small town about 1.5 hours from Jogja, which houses Borobudur. Before that, we took the right turn in Jalan Magelang to go to Ketep Pass, which is an area which has beautiful views of Merapi and its cousins.


We managed to catch Merapi before the clouds covered it.

They also have an amphitheater which plays a documentary about Merapi and how it claimed many lives in 2010.
This place needs more promotion. I wish more people would visit this place, so that they are able to maintain it and maybe even upgrade their amphitheater to 3D or 4D (shake, sound and smell) to have a feel of a volcano eruption. They also have a large replica of Merapi inside and it would be nice if they can have staff to show how the whole process of volcano eruption using the replica.

Of course, if people show interest, all this would be possible. Nevertheless, it was still an educational experience.


Many go straight to Merapi but IMHO, I think Merapi tour is not worth (unless you are hiking) because other than views of Merapi, there is nothing else. Unless you consider ruined cars and houses as something interesting to see.
 The above is what you can view at Merapi Tour(which is at Merapi itself)... Of course you get clearer view of Merapi and strong sulphur smell but nothing else. 

After Ketep Pass, we came down and took the left turn of Jalan Magelang to get to Borobudur. It was quite a walk from the ticket counter to the temple entrance. 


Borobudur structure has steps and circular walkway at every level. You are supposed to gradually go upwards by turning clockwise at every stage. Pradikhshana : The idea is to walk around the divine to awaken the divine, to bring a statue to life - to exhale its power. In Southeast Asia, most religions follow this clockwise walk so that your right hand is in touch with the shrine.  But of course, you can walk straight up if you wish to do so.




 A guide would be good as he can explain about the structure and how it relates to Buddhism. We learnt this in Form 4 history - 3 laws and the 8 fold path in Buddhism. This is clearly shown in the structure of Borobudur.
To the best of my knowledge I have put up a diagram on how Borobudur Architecture is related to Buddhism.


It was drizzling when we were there, and it allowed us to soak in the beauty of this ancient structure with stunning surrounding of paddy fields and mountainous terrain powdered with mist.... Speechless.

Let the pictures do the talking.




Once we were done, it was a long way back again. There are many touts around here trying to sell something. Just walk away if not interested. 

 After all the adventurous temple visits, its time to shop! First, we went to DKosmo, which on the way back from Magelang to Jogja. It is the same as Blossom in Bandung. Nothing much,really. 
After that, we went back to the room for shower and some rest. At night, we chose to forget Jogja food and decided to have Thai food. We went to Phuket Restaurant.Food was good and they had really spicy sambals. After that, we called it a day and retired.

Next day, we had a beautiful sunshine and we took the Malioboro walk. From our hotel, we walked to Taman Pintar Science center. Entrance fees was not much, less than RM30 for all four of us.

They are very stroller friendly. The kids enjoyed this place as they can run about about and meddle with anything they like. It was well maintained, although not perfect. 90% of things were working and they had sufficient staff at every area.









Only the labs (chemistry, physics, robotics, etc) were closed, where they have activities for kids. Maybe it is only open on weekends. we had to miss that... the robotics lab looked very interesting.

Then we continued to walk pass Vredenberg Fort and straight to Jalan Ahmad Gani which leads to Jalan Malioboro.




This street is very busy with shops selling all kinds of things. As Jogja is yet to be infested by rich foreigners, things are still very very cheap here (even by Malaysian standards). 

Then we went back to enjoy the sun by soaking ourselves to glory in the hotels swimming pool. We were the only ones there, so we conquered the kiddies pool. The kids enjoyed the slide.





After a relaxing bath, we were out again for shopping. We tried an infamous factory outlet - Outlet Biru. It is famous among local youngsters as they hv fashionable attires and is mainly for men. Two floors of men's clothing at very affordable prices. 
For dinner, again we decided to skip Jogja food and went for Tiga Nyonya (now known as MAdam Tan's.) Its the best food in this trip.


Then we continued shopping at Omah Mode. It is said to be same as Rumah Mode, Bandung. But I beg to differ. It's not even close.

Next day, final shopping and time to return home.

Bye, Jogja