Stewart Island, New Zealand

Quiet. Secluded. Cold.

There it is, separated by one hour of a rough ferry ride from the tip of South Island (Bluff), the third and often forgotten island of New Zealand.

The Stewart Island, or “Rakiura” in the Maori language, means “glowing skies”. It refers to the southern lights, or “aurora australis”, which unfortunately did not happen during my time there.

The main reason I visited the island is that it would be the southernmost point of the globe that I have ever been. I usually travel to the north, evidence by my travel map, about 80% of my pins appears at the north of the equator. But as now I live in the southern part of the world, I want to visit its southernmost part, the closest I can be to the Antarctica.

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Stewart Island on the map

And I like it.

Empty beaches, fearless birds, peaceful walking paths heading to the amazing viewing points, and very few people in sight. Peaceful.

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Observation Rock, one of the island’s viewings points

My favorite moment was when I sit in the Oban Park by the beach, gazing the horizon, listening to the wave, and being exposed to the wind. I could do it for a whole day if it wasn’t so cold.

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The garden by the beach

More than 80% of the Stewart Island area is the national park. It hosts one of New Zealand’s great walk. Oban is the name of its township. It is very small. There is only a handful stores, a few restaurants, a limited number of hotel/hostel, and one grocery/convenience store. Kai Kart is its famous fish & chips outlet and it is only open a few hours a day. I observed a very simple life here, probably 80% of the people in this island are tourists, but the kind who want to connect nature only. There’s only one ferry service to access this island (link below) or hop on their helicopter for a faster but more expensive option.

https://www.stewartislandexperience.co.nz/stewart-island-experience/experiences/

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Sunrise in Stewart Island

 

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Journey to The Shire, Hobbiton, Matamata

Lord of The Rings (LoTR) trilogy is one of my favorites movies of all time. It’s the movie that I could re-watch over and over again. I love the plot, the actors, and the setting. Actually, it is also one of few things that inspired me to study in New Zealand. Being so close to Middle Earth – a dream that all LoTR fans share, I guess..

So, naturally – Hobbiton was high up on my travel bucket list, which I have gladly crossed on March 18, 2017, less than a month since I stepped my foot in this country. To go to Hobbiton from Auckland, simply take a bus to Matamata (or alternatively rent a car). Bus connection to Matamata is provided by Nakedbus or Intercity. Bus fare is varied, depend on luck, it’s possible to get $1 fare one way but I got mine for $19 for a return journey. It takes around 2.5 hours to get to Matamata from Auckland. A full 2.5 hours of blue sky, green hills, farms, sheep, cows, the majority of New Zealand scenery.

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The scenery along the way

 

Once arrived in Matamata, the bus stop is in front of the I-Site Office (45 Broadway Street), where Hobbiton tour ticket can be bought here (price: $79/adult). Or alternatively book in advance at:

Hobbiton Tours

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Matamata I-Site Office

 

Matamata is a very small city, which I heard from the tour guide that it almost did not exist before the Hobbiton was built. So timing is important here, as nothing much to do in Matamata. It is literally only one street lined-up with fast food restaurants and a few stores. The Hobbiton tours itself only take around 3 hours in total, including the return journey from Matamata I-Site to Hobbiton location (30 minutes one way), which is already part of the tour.

The Hobbiton tours itself only take around 3 hours in total, including the return journey from Matamata I-Site to Hobbiton location (30 minutes one way), which is already part of the tour. It is a fully-guided tour, so we have to stay with the guide and the group during the entire tour, which honestly I did not like. There were chances to take pictures and everything – but since there were so many people, we had to keep moving, so I felt like in a rush in the entire tour.

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in front of a hobbit hole

 

Despite all of that, the place is really beautiful indeed. Even with so many people there, I could feel the serenity of The Shire. The place is very well-maintained and the details are preserved, it was just like we have seen in the movie. My favorite place is the bridge near the Dragon Inn where I can see the lakes and hobbit holes from afar.

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My favorite spot

 

Anyway, it is a movie set, so wherever I pointed my camera, a good picture is guaranteed. Just make sure to check the weather before booking the tour, the fun won’t be the same without the sun!

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Me and travelmates: Saras, Yurike, Mas Irfan, Bang Ihsan

 

Turquoise Water of Tanjung Bira

It was the serenity that caught me, as I was sitting at the front porch of my friend’s house after spending a whole day exploring Tanjung Bira area. The sun was just about to set, leave the trail of dark behind it. The wind was calm, but enough to stir-in coolness in a hot tropical weather. I took a deep breath, let the fresh seashore air filling my lungs. And right there, all I can feel was the serenity surround me.

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Traditional Raised House in Tanjung Bira, designed beautifully!

Tanjung Bira (Cape Bira) is located on the foot of “letter K” shaped Sulawesi Island. It is the southernmost point of the island. Being a cape, it is surrounded by sea from two sides, creating a long beach line. Not as famous as other beach destination in Indonesia, such as Bali or Lombok, Tanjung Bira offers calmer and less-crowded ambient, perfect to enjoy its beautiful beaches and clear turquoise water. It also certainly confirms that South Sulawesi is not just Makassar and Tana Toraja, two famous cities/ tourist destination in South Sulawesi that I also visited in this trip.

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Blue Dot showing Tanjung Bira location in Sulawesi Island

My day in Tanjung Bira was started the night before, after 12 hours road trip returning from Tana Toraja. I arrived at a perfect time, just before the midnight of new year 2016. The main beach: Pantai Pasir Putih (White Sand Beach) was already packed by people waiting for the fireworks show. Right on 00:00 o’clock, the fireworks show was started, presenting all kind of shape and color in the sky, in addition to bright stars and half-moon that have been there already. The fireworks show was not as big as the one in Ancol – Jakarta, but there were less people too. Even that I arrived late, I still can find a spot on the beach, got a perfect seat on its white sand to look-up to the sky and enjoy the show, which was lasted for about an hour. After that I was lucky to experience another Tanjung Bira tradition, fresh seafood barbeque to celebrate the new year.

Then earlier in the morning, my tour was started by hiking to the peak, which called “puncak” by the locals. I went up there by motorbike, but I recommend to do the real hiking to the peak, as the distance is short and the road to get up there is beautiful. There is an observation deck at the peak, where I can get almost 360 degrees view of Tanjung Bira area. The color combination which was so fresh to my eyes, blue of the sky and the sea, green of the trees, white of the cloud and flock of houses down there.

The tour then continued to the Pasir Putih Beach which I have visited the night before. It was so crowded with visitors. From there I could see the nearby island, so I was attempted to go there. Liukang Island is only 15 minutes from Tanjung Bira by speed boat. It is a fishermen village. If you hate crowds, it is the perfect place to spend time. It is like having the whole beach for myself. It is a perfect place to enjoy coconut freshness.

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The Beach Line of Liukang Island

Coming back from Liukang Island, we did “The Resort Tour” – thanks to connections that my friend has, we can take a peek of this resorts. They were all so beautiful and secluded. My favorite spot is the terrace overlooking the ocean. It was like living an episode of TV series: Beach House as their tag line is “hey, I have the ocean on my front yard!!!”

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What a wonderful journey!! Tanjung Bira is definitely join the list of the places that I would like to visit again someday.

How to get there
Tanjung Bira is 4 hours drive from Makassar if you use private car.
For public transportation option, use the Bus to Selayar Island then get-off in Tanjung Bira Harbour. Bus fee is IDR 70k and it is 5-6 hours trip.

Accommodation
There are plenty accommodation choices in Tanjung Bira, from simple guest house (IDR 100-300K/night) to Resorts (IDR 700 – 2000k/ night). Most resorts can be booked in advance from their own website or booking site like Agoda.

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I and My Travelmates – wefie from The Puncak

 

Pekanbaru Culinary Trip

I visited Pekanbaru during a weekend on April 2014. I have two reasons why I chose Pekanbaru, first I want to visit one of my best friend, Ica, who stays there. I haven’t met her and her family for a long time. The second reason is I have never been in Sumatra Island, other than Palembang that I visited when I was in college. So, when Tiger Mandala offered a free return ticket, I could not think the better opportunity to visit Pekanbaru. Moreover when I finally found out that TigerMandala closed all their routes in the following months. It’s so unfortunate since in my experience, their flight is always on-time, even ahead schedule sometimes.

My plane landed in Sultan Syarif Kasim II International Airport at 7 AM. The airport always gave me the first impression of every city and Pekanbaru has a modern airport – it’s not big but nice and clean. I even think that it is better than Soekarno Hatta Terminal 3 Airport. Before I went to Pekanbaru, as usual I did some research about the places that I would like to visit there. Surprisingly there is not much information about it, so I did not really have any idea how the trip was gonna be. I figured out that I will ask Ica for the best recommendation in Pekanbaru. The alternative idea was to turn this trip to be a culinary trip – because I believe anywhere in Indonesia we can always find new and tasty foods to try!

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So, I was picked-up by Ica and her husband, Nanda. And before went back to their house to meet their cute son, Ghazi, and also her family, we stopped by to get breakfast, my first Pekanbaru culinary experience. The food was “sayur paku” which sounded a bit strange at first for me, because “paku” means “nail/ spike” – can you imagine the soup of nails? :D. But then I realize that “paku” has other meaning in Bahasa Indonesia – it also means “pakis” or “fern” in English. I have never eaten fern before so it was a new experience for me. It was good and also quite spicy, a common characteristic of dishes from Sumatra.

After I met Ica’s family and breakfast, my Pekanbaru tour was started. I could not wait to experience “Trans Metro Pekanbaru” – their public transportation system, which from what I read in the internet, is as good as Trans Jakarta Busway. But it is turned out to be wrong, according to me; TMP still needs a lot of improvement. First of all, not all the bus stop are clearly marked and named – so most of the time, I had no idea where I was without asking locals. Even some of the bus stops are appeared just like a stairs without any information on it. The ticket of TMP is bought on board by paying money to the “kondektur”, and they provide changes. The ticket fee is Rp. 3000 for one ride and it is good for one transfer. The “kondektur” shouted the bus stop so the passenger can now – but the problem was often they mentioned location name that is different with the bus stops listed on the route map, so only locals can understand it. I took the wrong direction twice and end-up having unintentional tour on TMP. However the bus itself quite comfortable and air-conditioned, it is very important because Pekanbaru is extremely HOT, it reminds me so much to Tangguh Site at Papua. The following pictures summarized my TMP experience.
Trans Metro Pekanbaru Pictures of places I visited in Pekanbaru are presented below. The most memorable is Masjid Agung Pekanbaru, because the place is HUGE. The mosque is so big and according to me, the design (from outside) is similar to Taj Mahal. The unique thing is also because the plaza surrounding the mosque are so big, on the afternoon, there are a lot of people comes for jogging or just hanging out. The next one is H.S. Soeman Library, I think that was a first time that I visited any library during my trip, but it seems that Pekanbaru citizen are very proud of this library because it is always appeared in all Pekanbaru-related website. The library is very unique with shape of “opened book” from the outside and it is also very big and modern inside.

HS Soeman Library

Next is the best part of this trip, Pekanbaru delicious food!! Pictures are presented below, including the beautiful cake shop owned by Nanda & family: L’Cheese Factory. During the 2nd and last day, I also made a visit to Masjid Raya, the oldest mosque in Pekanbaru; Pasar Bawah – the best place to find Pekanbaru’s souvenir; Jembatan Leighton to cross Siak River; and Chevron Camp in Rumbai; and Gelanggang Remaja Pekanbaru.

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Cheers,

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Quick Getaway: KL, Malacca, Singapore

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When you only have 3 days off-day on the weekend and wonder where to travel, maybe my following trip can give you some idea.

Travel Summary

1.  Location  :  Kuala Lumpur, Malacca (Malaysia), Singapore

2.  Duration  :   3 days/ 4 nights

3.  Budget :  Rp. 3.000.000/ person (airport tax, air plane tickets, hotels, Bus/ MRT, meals, souvenir)

4. Visa requirement  :  no

5.  Activities :  City sightseeing, inter-cities travel, river-cruise, theme-park.

Travel Story

On 13-16 February 2014 I visited Kuala Lumpur (KL), Malacca and Singapore with my brother. We leaved on Thursday night and comeback on Sunday night, did not miss any single day at work!!

So, if you work 7 AM to 5 PM just like I do, you still can catch the last plane to KL from Jakarta. I took Air Asia which departs at 20:30, from my office in South Jakarta to Soekarno Hatta Airport; it takes usually 1.5-2 hours since the traffic on Thursday is USUALLY not too bad. But, do web check-in to save time. If you depart from terminal 3 by Air Asia, and you already have your boarding pass from web check-in and you only bring cabin baggage, you can directly go to Immigration Counter. The airport tax can be paid after passing the immigration counter. I arrived at 23:30 (KL time); good news is the airport bus from KL LCCT to KL Sentral is still available on that hour (even though the LCCT web informs that the last airport bus departs on 22.00). Taking the bus is a good saving because taxi fare in KL at night is 50% higher than the day. As a comparison bus fare is 10 RM and taxi fare can be 100 RM from LCCT to KL downtown. From KL sentral, you can walk or take taxi with shorter distance to your destination.

We spent the night in my best friend’s apartment who works in KL. The next day (Friday), we start KL half-tour day by having Malaysian breakfast (Roti Chennai dipped in curry) in a food court in Ampang Park area. From there we took LRT (subway) to KLCC station, it is the location of Petronas Tower to get some pictures. I guess it is the must-do destination for all first timers who visits KL. We did not take the ride to the top, as I have been hinted that it is not worthy, and the second reason: we didn’t have enough time. LRT is an efficient means to transport, however the station and direction to it are not well-marked. And if you only spend a few days in KL, no need to buy the multiple ride card, just buy the token for one time ride to each destination, it is simpler. Depend on how long the distance, the LRT fare is 1-3 RM (Ringgit Malaysia). The token vending machine is available in each station.

From KLCC, we continue our trip to Pasar Seni station. It is the location of Central Market, the best place to find souvenir. From there then we walked to Dataran Merdeka to visit KL City Gallery. It is a quite cool place (not to mention free admission). They have what they claimed as biggest city model in the world (I am not so sure, because it is pretty small to me) and there is a 5 minutes show every 15 minutes or so, with the light and presentation of next city project of KL. On the first floor there are displays of Malaysian handicraft, there is also small workshop to show the visitor how they made it. From KL city gallery, we continued our trip to Masjid Jamek, it is not the biggest mosque in KL but maybe the most historical. Then we took LRT from Masjid Jamek station to Bandar Tasik Selatan, the location of bus terminal (Terminal Besepadu Selatan) to continue our journey to Malacca. One tip about Masjid Jamek station, it is located in the 2nd level in the middle of the street where there are 2 entries on the opposite side of the street. Ensure that you took the right entry for your route; otherwise it will be a long walk to the other side. The station arrangement is really confusing and not practical. Another tip when strolling in KL is not to forget to bring sun glasses, umbrella and a lot of water, I found out that KL was hotter than Jakarta.

Terminal Bersepadu Selatan is main terminal of KL. Maybe it is the best bus terminal that I ever visited. It is so big and so organize and so similar to Airport. You have to show your passport when buying the ticket, the gate of the bus was shown in a big screen and you have to go through security check to enter waiting room at the gate. We took the next bus to Malacca (or Melaka), the fare is 10 RM and the journey took 2 hours.

We arrived at Melaka Sentral Station on 15:00. This station is not much different with bus stations in Indonesia, crowded and not-too-organized. We grab lunch in the food court there then went to domestic departure. There is a tourist information desk in the station, the office speaks English and she pointed us which bus to take. Bus 17 is the one to take if you want to go the tourist area, such as Stadhuys or Jonker Street. The final destination of the bus is Mahkota Parede Shopping Mall which is on the side of sea. When you get on board the bus driver will ask your destination and he will give you the ticket showing how much you have to pay. If you stopping at Stadhuys, the fare is 1.5 RM.

Stadhuys (an old Dutch spelling, meaning city hall) is the famous red building complex in center of Malacca. From there, other tourist destination is within walking distance. We went to our hostel first, Bala’s place, to drop our bag before starting our tour in Malacca. The hostel is owned by Indian but hosted by a very kind Indonesian man. It is located in Chinatown area, where stadhuys and jonker street walk is 500m and 200m away. The fare is 45 RM/ night, free Wi-Fi included. So, our Malacca tour route as follow:
1. Stadhuys (Dutch city hall)
2. The ruin of St. Paul church in the top of the hill.
3. A famosa (the remain of Portuguese fortress)
4. Malacca river cruise
5. Jonker street night market.
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The trip to St.Paul church and Malacca River cruise is a must if you visit Malacca. From the hill you can see the Malacca city including the strait and the sea; it’s a very beautiful view. The river cruise was even better. The fare is 15 RM for roundtrip (around 45 minutes). Pick the time around 7 PM so you can see the day view of Malacca then experience the sunset on the boat then see the night of Malacca which is very beautiful, with all of the lights. Honestly, the river trip is the best thing on the trip. The view is breathtaking. The tourism board of Malacca is really serious to make it worthy. The tour is completed with audio guide in Bahasa Melayu and English so you can understand what you’re seeing. If you lucky you can spot crocodile in the river bank. If there is one, the boat driver will stop and notify the visitors on board; just like he did on my tour when small crocodile was spotted. The start of this river cruise is near Maritime Museum, you will not miss it as you will see a big miniature of wooden boat in the street side. After river cruise, our last stop was Jonker street night market. It is a typical night marked in Asia, long and crowded. But what different was that night when we were there is the“Cap Go Meh” the last day of Chinese New Year celebration, so there was a show with barongsai and everything which are quite interesting. I was also get unique souvenir which is a cardigan made from bamboo!!

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The next day (Saturday), we took the same route to Melaka Sentral Station to take our bus to Singapore. Be careful to select the bus as well as the departing schedule as in my experience the fare can be very different for the same route. It is better to book it online beforehand. For us, we took Malacca-Singapore Express for 25 RM. The journey took 4 hours. I chose this bus, because the point of destination in Singapore (Textile Center) is so close to our hostel. It was my first experience of crossing country-border on bus. It turned out that we have to get off from our bus in Malaysian Immigration office in Johor Baru to get our passport stamped. Then we get on again to the bus. After crossing the bridge which connects Johor Baru – Singapore, we have to get off again from the bus in Singapore immigration office, before continue to our destination.

In Singapore, we stayed in 5footway.Inn Project Bugis. It is backpacker hostel in Bugis Area, free Wi-Fi and breakfast included. The fare is 22 SGD (Singapore Dollar) for a bed in 4 beds dorm (shared bathroom). The location is excellent and I determine that I will choose the same location if someday I visit Singapore again. It is so close to Sultan Mosque, the biggest mosque in Singapore. What I admired from this mosque, even though it is much smaller that Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta, it is included as a tourist destination and marked in Singapore Tourist Map. The mosque provides tour service outside of praying time, the long clothes are provided for tourist to wear inside the mosque if they are wearing shorts during the visit. There are posters about Islam in general and Islam development in Singapore inside the mosque. Another positive thing to stay close to the mosque is easy to find halal food. There is a famous halal food restaurant here, called Kampong Glam, with a delicious taste and reasonable price.

We rested for a while in the hostel before started our trip. This is the 4th time I visited Singapore, so my main objective here just to accompany my brother. As in my other trips to Singapore, we used EZ-link card to get around by MRT, so then my brother can compare it with the LRT in KL and KRL in Jakarta, to get the sense by how much we are left behind the neighbor country in term of capability to provide comfortable public transportation. If you haven’t had an EZ-link card, it can be bought in information counter in each station or mini mart. The card costs 12 SGD (including 7 SGD values that can be used directly). The MRT station which is closest to our hostel is Nicoll Highway or Bugis.

So, my brother’s Singapore itinerary was:
1. Sultan Mosque
2. Merlion Park (MRT: Raffles Place)
3. Esplanade to watch Wonderfull show at 8 PM
4. Dinner in Makan Sutra
5. Marina Bay and Garden By The Bay
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The next day (Sunday), we checked-out from the hostel, but we still keep our back pack there, and then headed to Sentosa Island. First we went to MRT station: Harbourfront which is located under Vivo Mall. Then we went to 3rd floor to take Sentosa Express (fare: 4 SGD, can be paid using EZ-link card). If you want, you can also take cable car or walk from Harbourfront to Sentosa Island. We spend the half day exploring the sentosa island, to the beach, to the giant merlion, universal studios and others, before went back to the hostel at 15:00 to retrieve our bag and went to Changi International Airport to fly back home. To go to Changi Airport, take the green line to Pasir Ris then transfer in Tanah Merah. I always like Singapore for the efficient public transportation, the thing that I think, every citizen of Jakarta really envy of.

Overall, I am satisfied with this trip. I think my brother also thinks the same. We travelled a quite long distance in an efficient time (and cost, if you plan it right) – it is a quick getaway to make the most of our weekend.

Ciao.

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My (first) UK Trip

I have been thinking to make a trip to UK for a long time. But I kept delaying the trip with a hope that the company I work for (which has a headquarter there) will send me there someday – so I can save for the airplane ticket :D. And finally the opportunity came on July 2013, I was sent to UK for training. It was not a perfect time because it was fasting month (Ramadhan) for moslem, and it was in summer, the night was so short therefore the fasting time will be much longer than in Indonesia (average 18 hours/day) and it was so hard to travel on this condition.

So, in short, besides the training, I only added 4 more days for this trip (2 days before and 2 days after the training). My training location was in Stockport, a small city in the southeast of Greater Manchester, around 10 km from the city of Manchester. In 4 days, I managed to visit London, Manchester and Liverpool. From Jakarta, I did transit in Abu Dhabi then continued to London. Personally, I don’t like Abu Dhabi International Airport, it was too crowded. There was a section in the airport where people from every directions met, and the airport officers was shouting and pointing where to go, you might get lost there if you just followed the crowd.

I arrived in London in the afternoon. From the airport, I went directly to the hostel. I stayed in Canterbury Hall (Tube: St. Pancras), I supposed it is sort of college student accommodation, but it was quite cheap (42 GBP/night) and comfy (single room with shared bathroom). I only had 1.5 days in London, so I started right away that evening. The nearest destination from the hostel was King Cross Station, which is famous with Harry Potter’s 9 3/4 platform. One important detail, current position of this platform is not in the real platform as in the movie.

Pic-1 Platform 9 3/4 at King Cross Station

This platform now is basically a wall besides Harry Potter Shop, with half of cart attached to it. And you have to pay to the shop to get the picture of you holding the cart while wearing Gryffindor scarf. Don’t bother to try it in the morning or late night because they de-ttach the cart from the wall when the shop is closed. King Cross Station is located exactly beside St. Pancras Station, and St. Pancras is the most beautiful train station that I have ever visited.

Next day, I dedicated the whole day to visit all interesting place in London as many as I can. The secret for it, buy 1 Day Off-Peak Travel Card for 7.3 GBP, the card was cheaper in the weekend and what I bought was for zones 1-2 only because all place that I want to see was in that area. You can buy the card on vending machine in every tube station. With that card, I could travel by using London Tube as many as I can for one day. London tube was so efficient and comfy. List the places that I visited with their tube station as follows:

  1. Tube: Arsenal – place: Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium
  2. Tube: Westminster – place: Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, House of Parliament, Parliament Square, Westminster Bridge (Thames River)
  3. Tube: Waterloo – place: London Eye
  4. Tube: St. James Park – place: Buckingham Palace
  5. Tube: Fulham Broadway – place: Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge Stadium
  6. Tube: Baker Street – place: Sherlock Holmes Museum (Madame Tussaud, Reagent’s Park and London Central Mosque are also in the area, but I did not make it to visit them).
  7. Tube: Tower Hill – place: Tower of London and Tower Bridge

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My conclusion was, I love London!! It even has beaten Turin as my previous favorite city in the world. London is big and beautiful, the transportation is excellent, the people are nice, and it is a multicultural city so I did not feel so odd in there.Next day, I left London for Stockport by train from London Euston Station. The Station is located in the same street of St. Pancras and King Cross Station. I did not really know why there are 3 big train stations so close to each other. I supposed they service different connection to other cities within UK or other countries in Europe. I bought the train ticket online, and the ticket was sent to my email, then the printed ticket can be used directly, no need to re-print it in the station. The fare was 27 GBP for one way London – Stockport.

Stockport is a small city and not much to tell about it. I stayed in a beautiful hotel (where my training was located), but it was quite far away from public transportation stop. As soon as I arrived in my hotel, I headed to city of Manchester. Public transportation in Manchester runs by Metrolink, there are 3 transportation modes: Train, Tram and Bus. You can choose 1 mode only, combination of 2 or combination of three. The daily ticket available for these 3 options and the ticket should be bought in vending machine in Train/ Tram/ Bus station. To get around in Manchester city, using tram is enough, but I also needed to use bus for come back to Stockport. So I bought Metrolink daily bus/tram ticket for 6.5 GBP.  One important thing, bus operation hours is different in every stop. So ensure by reading timetable in every stop that the bus that you want to take is still available, otherwise you will wait there for nothing.

To be honest, the places that I wanted to see in Manchester were the stadiums. As a soccer fan, I always love to visit stadiums, moreover the famous ones. I’d like to take a picture in front of every stadium with my Juventus’ scarf and posted it to tease my friends who are fans of the football club who owns the stadium. So, I visited Etihad Stadium which owned by Manchester City FC (Metrolink: Etihad Campus) and Old Trafford Stadium which owned by Manchester United FC (Metrolink: Old Trafford).

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One thing that I picked up in Manchester/ Stockport was the people there is even nicer and kinder than London, and it was truly amazed me that majority people in UK (that I met) is all nice and kind, more than other European countries. One note if you like to visit stadium just like I do, in my opinion, stadiums in UK are the best, they always has a big store near it and offer stadium tour. But to be sure, do book online the stadium tour, otherwise it will be difficult to get in, especially during holidays.

Last city that I visited in UK is Liverpool. I chose Liverpool for two reasons, it is close to Manchester, only 1 hour by train and I also wanted to complete my stadium tour as Liverpool is home to two great football club: Liverpool FC and Everton FC. So I took East Midland Train the day after my training was completed. I departed from Stockport Station to Liverpool Lime Street Station. I have bought the ticket online from Indonesia. There are several website that offers train ticket pre-sale in UK, I used thetrainline.com. You might browse other website to find cheapest price. I got the round-trip ticket with price of GBP 12 which was very cheap in my opinion, and it was very comfortable too. Different with London-Stockport ticket, for Stockport-Liverpool ticket I had to print the official ticket in the automatic machine in the station of your choice, by entering the booking number that sent by email when I booked through the website. So, it is important to notice about this ticket rules after you made online booking, because it will not be the same for each train service in UK.

So, the first thing that I did after arriving in Liverpool Lime Street Station was to buy unlimited public transportation ticket, as I did in other cities. Because at that time I only spent 2 days in Liverpool, I chose “Saveaway” ticket for GBP 4.8, the ticket is valid for unlimited ride of Train, Bus and Ferry ride in one day. It was ok for me because the plan was spending the whole first day for sightseeing in Liverpool and returning back to Manchester the next day for flight back to Indonesia. Ok, so with “Saveaway” Ticket in my hand – my Liverpool itinerary was:

  1. Anfield Stadium (Liverpool FC), by Bus No. 20
  2. Goodison Park (Everton FC), by Bus No. 19
  3. Pier Head (Harbour of Liverpool), by Bus No.20
  4. Walking from Pier Head to:
    1. Albert Dock
    2. The Beatles Story Museum
    3. Liverpool Museum
    4. Mersey Ferry ride to Seacombe and Woodside
    5. Liverpool One

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Btw, the Lime Street Station itself is a very beautiful. One important note, commuting in Liverpool is not as easy as in London and Manchester, so it is better to have all the bus maps and timetable in your gadget to save time finding the right bus. A ferry ride is a must, since you can take a beautiful landscape picture of Liverpool from the beautiful park on across land. The saveaway ticket was really worthy!

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I finished the sightseeing around 9 PM and headed to the hostel for checking-in and staying for 1 night only. I stayed in Embassie Backpacker on Falkner Square, I chose female dorm room (8 bunk beds in a room) with shared bathroom for GBP 21/ night (included breakfast). It is a good hostel and hosted by a very kind old man. The only downside when staying in a dorm for me as a moslem, is difficult to do praying (sholat) as remaining space (that is not occupied by bed) was very narrow. You might as well to pray on your bed. The next day, I checked-out early because I had to walk to the Station (SaveAway ticket was no longer valid for that day), but it was not too far, only about 20 minutes. And I passed the ruins of a very beautiful St. Luke church, which was badly damage after bombed by Germany on Second World War.

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Overall, my trip in UK was amazing. Someday, I would like to comeback and travel to other cities in UK.

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A Trip to Taiwan

I try to write about this trip in my first opportunity, before the memory about it fades away and writing about it just going to be another unfinished business. I visited Taiwan for 4 days on 16 – 19 January 2014 with a friend. We bought the airplane ticket a year before. To be honest, at first I was not so excited about this trip because Asian country is not my priority. But the ticket was quite cheap (2.6 M IDR ~ 260 USD round-trip), so why not?

So, on Thursday, 16 January we departed from Soekarno-Hatta airport, left the flooded Jakarta to KL for transit then continue to Taipei. We used Air Asia X and it was on-time. We arrived at Taoyuan International Airport Terminal 2 at 22:30. The Airline did not give arrival card on board, so we have to fill it in the airport prior to immigration. The immigration process was quick. The airport itself is quite good and modern, with directions in English and the most important thing; it provides free Wi-Fi. Tourist information Center is available right in front of arrival hall and we can take a lot of tourist brochures and maps for free. After a few pictures and status updates, we searched for bus stop to take us to the city. The airport bus stop is in the right side of the terminal, there are several providers and we picked the soonest bus to depart. The fare was 125 TWD (~50.000 IDR/ 4 USD) bought in the counter). The bus final destination is Taipei Main Station. It took around 50 minutes from the airport to Taipei main station. But be careful, not all bus providers takes the same route, some will take up to 90 minutes, just in case you’re in hurry, it’s better to make sure before buying the ticket. From Taipei Main Station, you can continue to other part of the city with MRT. Taipei Main Station is a huge station providing connection of MRT (for commute inside Taipei), TRA (regular train to other cities) and HSR (high speed train to other cities).

Luckily, our hostel is located right beside the station (exit M8); the hostel name is Inn Cube. It is a backpacker style hostel that we have booked beforehand via booking.com. I like this hostel, the cost was reasonable 800 TWD (~320.000 IDR/30 USD) per night for a single room and the facility was good: the room is small but clean, comfy, private, air conditioned and TV is provided inside. The shared bathroom is separated between boys and girls and it is also clean, english-speaking-24 hours-receptionist and again the most important thing: free Wi-Fi! But what the best about the hostel is the location, it is important to stay as close as possible to MRT station, so we can go anywhere easily. So after check-in, we rested and prepared for tomorrow’s journey.

Friday, 17 January 2014. Our objective was to spend all day (and night) strolling in the Taipei city – visiting all famous landmarks. Our plan was to start at 07.00 AM, but I am NOT a morning person so we started a little bit late :D. After had a breakfast at KFC inside the station, the next step is BUY an MRT pass (a secret to cheap travelling). It is called ‘Easy Card’ – the price is 200 TWD (100 TWD deposit + 100 TWD value) – (~80.000 IDR/ 6.5 USD) and we can directly ‘tap and go’. The card can be bought in MRT information counter and 7Eleven, and the value can be added in automatic machine in every MRT station.  Besides for paying MRT, Easy Card also can be used for busses, Maokong Gondola, even for shopping in 7Eleven.

So, our first stop for the day is Chiang Kai Sek memorial hall, it is 2 stations away from Taipei Main Station. The MRT is very comfy with notification both in Chinese and English, so no need to worry. Chiang Kai Sek memorial hall is a huge beautiful complex with a wide yard. There is also exhibition hall. The most interesting attraction there is guard-changing ceremony every hour. The next stop is Ximending Pedestrian Walk, this area is similar to Myeong-dong in Seoul or Harajuku in Japan. But we got to the place too early, it is better to be there at night. Next stop is Longshan Temple, it is the biggest temple in Taiwan, it is beautiful and very crowded. Near to the temple, there is underground market. One thing that is so distinct about Taipei is underground markets/malls everywhere, connecting one MRT station to another.  Such as in Taipei Main Station, there are 3 huge underground malls, connecting it with the next MRT station. So, if you’re a fan of strolling in the mall – just take this route, you can save some money instead of taking MRT. Maybe that’s why we don’t see many people above ground. It’s reasonable because the mall is clean, spacious and air conditioned, hiding from hot sun.

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Pic.1 – The gate of Chiang Kai Sek Memorial Hall complex

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Pic.2 – In front of Longshan Temple

After Longshan Temple, it was near to lunch time, so we headed to Zhongxiao Dunhua station because we read that there is a halal -certified restaurant serves traditional Taipei Beef Noodle near the station. The restaurant name is Ai Jia Qingzhen Beef Noodle, but then we found that the travel book in which we got the information, was totally flawed. It gave us the wrong direction, so it was so difficult for us to find the restaurant’s location. So we headed back inside the station to find some information, because we did not have an internet connection on our phone there. And this is another fact that I love about Taipei, the city provides free Wi-Fi connection everywhere, but you have to register first at Tourist Information Center by showing the officer your passport. Luckily, there was one Tourist Information Center in underground mall connecting Zhongxiao Dunhua Station and Zhongxiao Fuxing Station. It was a quite far walk but it was worthy. So after getting our Wi-Fi connection, using the Google map, we managed to find the restaurant. The beef noodle was tasted delicious, but the portion was too big for me, so I did not finish it.

The rest of the day, we visited Sun Yet Seen Memorial Park, a beautiful park where people of Taipei spend their afternoon. It was a beautiful spot also to take a picture with Taipei 101 as a background. From there, Taipei 101 is on a walking distance. Taipei 101 is the highest and most famous building in the Taiwan and the 3rd highest building in the world, 439m above ground. We went to the building in the late afternoon on purpose, so we can see the view during the day, sunset and the night from the observation deck. And we made a right decision, the view was stunning from there. I also admire the super-fast elevator which took us from 5th floor to 89th floor in 15 seconds! The fare to go up to observation deck is 500 TWD (~200.000 IDR/ 26 USD), including free audio guide (available in English).  After satisfied exploring Taipei 101, we headed to our last stop for the day: Shilin Night Market. It is well known as biggest night market in Taipei. There are mostly food counters, game counters, and a few souvenir counters. In there, we tried fruit candy (which was super sweet), grass jelly milk tea and fried sweet potato. The market was very crowded. Get down in Jiantan Station (not Shilin Station) if you want to get there, it is the closest one.

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Pic.3 – Taipei 101

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Pic.4 – View from Taipei 101 Observatory Deck at night

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Pic.5 – Shilin Night Market

Saturday, 17 January 2014, we left Taipei for Hualien, the biggest city in East Taiwan. We took TRA to get there departing at 07.07 AM. The fare was 370 TWD (~150.000 IDR/ 12 USD) and it took 3 hours from Taipei to Hualien. The train ride was great because of the beautiful view, there are hill in one side and beach and sea on the other side. Our main objective of going to Hualien was to visit Taroko Gorge National Park, a huge and magnificent natural landscape.  To go to Taroko Gorge from the station, the most economical way is taking a tour bus. The bus counter is located near the main entrance of station, the big orange building in the shape of the bus at the left side of the entrance. One important thing to remember, ensure to get out at the right side of the station, because there are no clear sign inside the station. We got out at the back entrance (which is the opposite side of the main entrance) and wasted times to find the bus counter, luckily one nice girl helped us, but she did not speak English so it took time, it was so hard to find English-speaker in Hualien. The fare of the tour bus was 250 NTD (~100.000 IDR/ 13 USD). It was similar to hop-on-hop-off bus with  some stops along the national park, just hold on your ticket and show it to the driver when you on board, however it might take a long time to wait for the next bus. The bus is not available in every hour, so you have to check the time table at the counter. However, after departing it seems that the bus driver did not care anymore about the timetable. They did not stop in each bus stop so you have to push the button above your seat if you want to stop, or shouting in Chinese! The driver did not speak English at all.

We start our tour from the final tour bus destination, Tienhsiang. The road to up there was a little bit crazy but the view was stunning. In Tienhsiang, there are several food stall, no halal-certified food but some vegetarian options are available. The view in Tienhsiang is amazing, with the gorge and the river and also there is a long steps to the top of the hill where one beautiful temple located. From Tienhsiang, we continue our tour to several hiking trail in the Taroko Gorge. I won’t write a lot about it because it is simply stunning view with marble gorge and green-blue river, I will attached several pictures instead for a better description. We spent the whole afternoon there, and then we headed back to Hualien Station. One thing that we did not expected that the tour bus take a different route on the way back, from Taroko Gorge it was not go directly to the station but make a trip around Hualien City, the way back was 3 times longer, but I kind of liked it because I got Hualien City Tour for free. It turned out that the biggest city in East Taiwan was not so big at all; I thought it was similar with my hometown, Cirebon, in size.  One more thing about Hualien, the city is famous for ‘Mochi’  traditional Chinese snack, Mochi with various flavors were available with cheaper price than in Taipei.

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Pic.6 – Taroko Gorge 1

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Pic.7 – Taroko Gorge 2

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Pic.7 – Taroko Gorge 1

We arrived in Taipei on 20.30 and looking for dinner. We have targeted this famous vegetarian restaurant: Minder Vegetarian, located at 2nd floor of Breeze Plaza in Taipei Main Station.  It is a chain vegetarian restaurant run by Buddhist Association with a buffet concept. There are a lot of varieties, I think it was more than 50 dishes  served and we can choose and take as less or as more as we want and then we paid based on the total weight (1 TWD/gram). We could also add white rice, grain rice, dim sum outside the buffet menu. It was cheap and tasted good!! If there is a vegetarian restaurant like this in Jakarta, I will consider being a vegetarian :D. After dinner at Minder Restaurant, we went back to the Hotel.

The last day, we got our bag packed and stored them in receptionist so we could stroll in Taipei street freely. As planned, we would like to ride Maokong Gondola for our last day. To go there, we took MRT and get-off in Taipei Zoo Station. The gondola station is about 5 minutes’ walk from there. There are 2 types of the gondola, regular and crystal cabin, you have to queue at the right line for it. To pay the gondola, Easy Card can be used, the fare is 50 TWD (~20.000 IDR/ less than 2 USD) one way. It is very cheap, isn’t? Gondola ride in Taman Mini costs more expensive for such a shorter distance. We picked crystal cabin gondola of course, it has glass floor, providing 360 degrees of view along the way. It felt like flying in the air with green view everywhere we throw our sight. I bet in spring the view will be more amazing, we can see the flower blossom underneath our feet! There are 4 stations of Gondola Ride where we can get-off. It took around one hour form the 1st to last station one way. We got-off at the last station: Maokong, 300m above ground. The view from there was also amazing, we could see Taipei 101, stand alone in Taipei sky landscape made other building seems so short. There is also Taipei Tea Experience Center in Maokong Hill. We spent our last noon in Taiwan explored Maokong before went back to Hotel to take our baggage and headed to Taoyuan International Airport to go back to Jakarta.

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Pic.8 – Maokong Gondola Ride

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Pic.9 – Cyrstal cabin glass floor

Personally, I would recommend Taiwan as a country to visit. The country is beautiful, the facilities are excellent and cheap, and it offers different experience than others. It was a great trip for me and I wouldn’t mind to go there again someday.

One Night Stay in Hanok Village – Taste of Korean traditional lifestyle

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Hanok is Korean Traditional House. It is characterized by wooden pillars, mud walls, roof curves, a wooden floor and porch, and a courtyard or a garden. One unique feature of Hanok is their special design for cooling the interior in summer and heating the interior in winter. The “Ondol” heated sub-floor system for heating during cold winters and a wide “Daecheong” front porch for keeping the house cool during hot summers. There are several Hanok Village in South Korea, one of the largest and most beautiful Hanok Village is located in Jeonju, in which I have spent 1 day there during my Korean winter trip in January 2013.

Jeonju Hanok Village is located in the city of Jeonju, which is also well-know as the origin of a signature korean dish, Bibimbap. Jeonju can be reached from Seoul by bus with travel duration of 3 hours. There are over 800 Hanok in Jeonju Hanok Village, which offer Hanok-stay experience but unfortunately only few of them provide online-booking facility. I stayed in Ilrakdang Hanok Hotel, it is a small hanok which has only 8 guestroom. The room is small  but very cozy, and the floor is warm, despite of -4 deg C temperature outside, which made it very comfortable. There are no bed in Hanok, instead a korean-style futon is provided to sleep on the floor during night and it can be folded during the day. It is a unique experience, sleeping in a futon on top of a heated floor does make me feel like a steak in a hot plate.

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Besides of Hanok-stay experience, Jeonju Hanok Village also has a lot of other things to offer. The best way to explore the village is stroll slowly through the classical alleys, where we can discover different themes of experience. There is Jeonju Craft Exhibition Center, where we can meet master craftsmen presenting their masterpieces such as hand-made fans and woodcrafts. There is also Traditional Alcohol Museum, which offering lectures and classes on home-brewed drinks and drinking etiquette. There are also the Herbal Medicine Experince Center and Hanju (Korean Paper) Center. One thing not to miss is to dine in one of local restaurants  which serve bibimbap as their specialty. According to records, people started to eat bibimbap in Jeonju two hundreds years ago. Jeonju bibimbap owes its popularity to perfectly steamed rice topped with freshly-cut vegetables (10 different ingredients in Jeonju) combined with the excellent cooking skills of the local women. Last thing to do before leaving Jeonju is to climb up to Omokdae, a small hill with stairs up to the hill for 10 minutes to take a full view of the Hanok Village. In overall, one day in Jeonju has given a traditional korean experience of my winter trip, in addition to metropolitan Seoul and adventureous ski trip in Gangwon-do.

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Realizing a Dream: Trip to Turin – Italy

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I have become a Juventus’ fan since 13 years old (2nd Grade of Junior High School). Until now, I don’t even sure how it was started but it sticks with me since then. Juventus has become one of few things that define me as a person, no joking!. So that I have been dreaming to watch Juventus’ match live in our stadium from the first day I announced myself as Juventina. And Turin automatically joins the list of cities that I have to visit when I grown up and have my own-money!

It was in 22 May 2011, when finally my-grand-Eurotrip-Plan finally came to realization and those hungers to see Juventus’ match live in Turin with my own eyes is paid off!

In my Eurotrip plan, Turin was a center. I planned all visit to other cities in accordance that I have to be in Turin on 22 May. After I got the Air Asia ticket to bring me to Europe, the 2nd item that I booked is Juventus’s ticket, things that I regret actually, because unlike any other tickets, it become more-more expensive if booked too-much in advance!
In my Eurotrip route, Rome was the city I visited before Turin. I used train (TrainInterCity/ Notte 796) to travel from Rome to Turin, departed on 21 May at 23h50 and scheduled to arrive at Turin at 08h20). I was surprised about the ticket fare, which was only 21 Euro for 8 hours travel time, much cheaper than my train ticket to Florence (19 Euro for 1.5hr travel time). Well then I figured out why, they were different type of trains. Train to Turin was seemed to be economy train. 1 cabin for 6 persons with baggage space right on top of us and it did not started from Rome, but it was a connecting train from other city in Southern Italy. So the time when I got in is a little bit chaotic, the train stopped not for a long time while the cabin is already full with other passenger’s baggage. And the worst thing after very small and crowded space is one Italian woman on the next cabin is swearing loudly all Italian bad words (I catch one or two of those words) all night long which obviously prevented me from a decent sleep to prepare for the most important day in my life. Anyway, I was so grateful that my train was rolling as per schedule as a nice lady told me in a waiting room that some labor-strike was happening at that day so that some trains schedule was delayed or postponed, successfully made me scare to death if one of those was my train!

So, finally on a breeze morning of May 22nd, I finally stepped on Turin city. But due to chaotic night on train, I became slightly disoriented when I got out from the Train. Somehow it was so difficult to find my hotel which should be only across of Porta Nuova station. I have been walking for quite long to realize that I did not toward a right direction. Then with my very-very-limited Italian, I tried to ask an old man who was sitting in a café for breakfast. Then the good things about Turin is started, this very nice old man, explained to me the direction to my hotel in very fluent Italian, which I could not catch except two words: destra (right) and sinistra (left) . After explaining over and over and found out that I did not understand him, he made gesture with his hand saying “I will walk you to the hotel” So that’s it! he left his breakfast and walked me to the hotel – not with an angry face – but with a genuine kind face. God, I felt in love with this city already!

And the good things continued, I arrived at the Hotel at 9 AM, the check-in time is 12 AM. In most hotels, even in Indonesia, we had to wait in the lobby until the check-in time. But guess what?! The hotel reception, the very nice Italian man with good English, allow me to check in right away! This city is truly amazing; finally I could catch a good sleep. After few hours sleep, I went out to find lunch and visited Juventus Store in via Garibaldi which is still in walking distance from the hotel. I am a regular visitor of Juventusstore.com, I always fantasizing what kind of items I have to buy when I visiting the store. But the reality was hit me, the original Juventus jersey is so much expensive, the cost is higher than my airplane ticket from Prague to Rome! So I decided to buy a nice T-shirt with Juventus logo on it which luckily the one fit my body size is a children size! Which is of couse cheaper! I buy also a pink Juventus hat and a magnet as always.

I went back to the hotel, get dressed on Juventus’ attribute, hold my ticket (which have been delivered to the hotel by the vendor) and ask receptionist how to reach Stadio Olimpico. While waiting in the bus stop, a teenager wore Juventus’ Jersey shouting at me while he pointing to a bus: Lo stadio! Lo stadio! A little bit scary, but I assume it is his good intention to tell me the right bus to the stadium, well, my outfit was pretty obvious.

Arriving at the stadium, the gate had not open yet, there are some sellers of Juventus Attribute, obviously not-NIKE product but stamped as prodotto ufficiale, and unlike NIKE product, they were made in Italy but with much-much cheaper price . So I didn’t skip the chance to buy a Juventus Jersey and unbelievably I choose Krasic’s number! What the hell I was thinking back then, I should go with Matri’s number!

Finally the gate is open, and finally I get in to Stadio Olimpico!! What a incredible experience. I could not stop smiling while holding my tears of joy when I watched Gigi Buffon came out to the pitch and greeting the supporters followed by other Juventus’ player, they came out for warming-up 1 hours before the kick off surrounding with Juventini’s cheer and our anthem, Juve, Storia di un grande amore (Juve, story of a great love) was playing loudly in the air. I just could not describe the emotion being in the middle of Juventini’s crowd. Finally I made one thing right in my life, being there at that very moment is the biggest accomplishment in my life so far. I spent so much time taking picture and record the video, I just wanted to make the moment last forever!

The game itself a fair game, very enjoyable with a final score of 2-2 against Napoli. Goal by Chiellini and Matri (of course!). For me, it was felt like 10 minutes game instead of 90 minutes game, so fast that I was so sad when it was finally over and I had to leave the Stadium. But certainly it was the best night in my life.

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The next day, my last day in Turin I spent to visit Superga Hills using chain train to see Basilica di Superga and also the monument to honour Torino’s football players which were day in plane crash accident in this hill. We can see a view of Turin city from this spot. After that I travelled back to the city to wander in Piazza San Carlo, visited Mole Antonelliana the highest building in Turin. I continuously felt the warmth of Torinese (Turin’s people) along the way.

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It was definitely a trip that I would like to do again someday. Next trip, I will make time to go to Vinovo (Juventus’ Training Center) and also take a tour inside Juventus Stadium (which was still under construction when I was in Turin).

Fino Alla Fine, Forza Juventus!

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Thailand Visit: Phuket and Bangkok

My visit to Thailand was driven by three things. The first one is it is a gift for my younger brother, who is never been on plane at that time, . The 2nd thing is I am so excited about travelling abroad with my closest college friends as we have been planning since our first year, but never come true with our student money!. And the 3rd reason is Air Asia promo for flying to Phuket, only Rp. 500.000,- (round trip/ person). Yes, I do love Air Asia..

So, we have already got those round trip tickets. Then what?!

Honestly this trip was my first abroad trip for vacation. I have been in Canada before, but for business purpose so the company where I work has taken care of everything. So there we were, 5 newbies try to figure out how to plan the vacation.
We were browsing a lot and sometimes I feel that the more we have information on the table, we got more confused instead of got enlightened. It is required a lot of effort to configure a plan that satisfy 5 different heads. We are taking too much time to discuss, along with work and college tasks, so finally on the last two months before our departure date, we decide to use a travel agent. So, yes, it is not quite close with a backpacking trip. I admitted that..

But we have already a fix plan on hand, including list place to visit, what kind of tour we’d like to take, etc when we went to a travel agent. So, basically this travel agent only helped us to book the accommodation and the tours. It was a good deal, I think. They cost us Rp. 3.200.000/person – all in (including another Air Asia round trip ticket: Phuket – Bangkok).

Okay, Phuket story now. Well, Phuket has beautiful beaches, not quite different from Bali but yes it was a lot cleaner and less crowded. We visit Pha Nga Bay, famous as James Bonds island, as one of James Bond scene was here. Go to Phi Phi island, where Leonardo Di Caprio’s Beach scene also taken. Overall, it was worthy. Vacation with people that you are comfortable with is always great. One tip: to book a tour in Phuket is very easy, they open counters along the beach, so it is much much cheaper to book directly there. Most of tour seller knows English, so you can bargain for a lowest price.

And then we flew to Bangkok. Bangkok is a big city; its traffic remains me so much to our beloved Jakarta. One important detail, Thailand was on chaos when we visited it on May 2010. But, as most chaotic event presenting in the news, not all area were affected. We stayed away from those areas, and we come back safely. Bangkok was famous for its Chao Praya river, so we take a boat tour along the river. To be honest, it was not a very pleasant journey. The river is so much remains me to Jakarta’s Ciliwung, dirty and quite stink. The main difference is Chao Praya has a lot of magnificent temples on its sides where we took-off from the boat to take beautiful pictures. There is also floating market which is quite unique. One tip: souvenir shopping is very cheap in Bangkok, go to MBK (one of the mall) instead to buy at sellers near to the temples.

Another unforgettable memory is when we spent a night at Phuket Airport (we didn’t get hotel) while waiting for our morning flight back to Jakarta. So maybe it can be categorized as backpacking afterall..

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