Remember last year when I hadn’t been travelling much? Not really? Well, my bad since I didn’t write that much about it.
I’m happy to announce that I will be travelling more frequently in the coming months. Hurray!
I’m not a very religious person although I do visit a Buddhist temple from time-to-time.
Since I am not bounded by a strict religion, I like to visit churches and temples when I travel.
The places of worship are usually peaceful and beautiful. Usually…
Work in progress. The inside is actually prettier than the outside.
This place is supposedly great for praying for romance. Has it worked for me?
Pretty on the outside…
Candi Sewu is actually nicer than its more famous neighbor.
A mosque with the most unique roof I’ve seen since I was familiar with the onion domes. (Apparently, I’ve not visited enough mosques.)
It’s the last day of 2012. For today, I am recapping the journeys I made in 2012, along with a few related entries.
(Some of the cities do not have related blog posts because I am working on a really limited internet connection back home in Sabah. I’ll follow up with the posts once I reach the land of high speed internet–Singapore.)
In case you find this entry a little TL;DR, I want to wish you a happy 2013. May the new year be filled with (productive) travels.
Seremban, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia
Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia
Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Yogyakarta + Solo, Indonesia
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
San Jose, California, USA
San Francisco, California, USA
Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
Hoi An, Vietnam
Tokyo + Kamakura Japan
Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia
Alor Setar, Kedah, Malaysia
Padang Besar, Perlis, Malaysia
No major travelling for the month. It wasn’t as bad as I expected because I had other things to busy myself with during the weekend. For example, reading Web comics, watching Youtube, eating, reading things online etc.
Kudat, Sabah, Malaysia
In a nutshell: Back home for the Christmas holiday because of forced leave implemented by the company. Went on a roadtrip with Mom to the north of Sabah. We read a lot, ate a lot of fruits while at the hotel. Also visited the “Tip of Borneo”.
It’s the last #FoodFri of 2012. Here at YQtravelling, I want to take a trip down memory lane and bring back memories of the best food I’ve eaten this year.
Seafood in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
I’m starting the list with a staple dish when I am back home for the holidays–seafood. In my case, seafood usually means crabs because they are cheaper than prawns and much fleshier than clams.
As for seasoning, I do not have a favorite and will eat crabs anyway it is cooked.
Read more: #FoodFri: See food, seafood
Tandoori chicken in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
In February, I was in KL with Nguyen. We, along with a friend working in KL, went to an Indian shop for dinner. I’ve been craving food from that store every since but I’ve not been able to visit again.
The naan that came along with the tandoori chicken was baked to perfection. The roasted red chicken was good on its own or with the naan.
Read more: Glutton in Kuala Lumpur
Salt baked chicken in Ipoh, Malaysia
I regret not taking photos of the salt baked chicken which L and I had in Ipoh. We bought it as an afterthought, thinking we might have something for supper while we wait for the day to end.
The chicken was still warm when we tore open the paper box. It was wrapped in wax paper. We had a little difficulty separating the chicken from the paper–bits of skin clung to the wax paper. The chicken tasted like steamed chicken that had been rubbed with salt. However, the skin was flaky like it had been baked.
We ate the whole chicken with our fingers while watching Johnny English in the hotel room.
Read more: Glutton in Ipoh
Banh Mi in Hoi An, Vietnam
Even though cau lao is most famous dish in Hoi An, the best that I had was made by the owner of the homestay. Her cau lao had heaps of meat and vegetable with generous sauce drizled all over.
Since you cannot buy her cau lao off the streets, I want to share the other great food I had in Hoi An: Banh mi.
I found out from Trip Advisor that there is a famous banh mi stall in Hoi An. The only reason I went was because Anthony Bourdain visited the stall before. I memorized the directions on the Web before peddling to the street. It took me a while to find the stall since it was tucked in between other shoe stalls.
I bought one with everything, another with pate and an empty bun. I cycled to the opposite bank and found a spot under a tree. My picnic was great. The bread was flaky and the filling juicy. I gobbled the two stuffed bread down in no time.
Sicilian pizza in San Francisco, USA
I wolved down the rectangular clam chowder pizza while sitting on a patch of grass (in the shade, of course).
I don’t know if the pizza’s taste was augmented by the location that I was eating. In any case, the pizza was crunchy and cheesy.
Read more: Glutton in San Francisco
Avocado juice in Indonesia
My trips to Indonesia had always been with D. I don’t remember how we found out about the magical avocado juice but I am glad we did.
In Indonesia, even the small roadside stalls (warung) serve avocado juice. The cook scoops out creamy avocado flesh into a blender and mix it with ice (and maybe tons of sugar syrup). Then, she (most of the warung owners are ladies) decorates a glass with chocolate condensed milk.
The green blended drink is poured into the chocolate syrup glass. A straw follows.
Avocado juice feels like a creamy milkshake but with a green-ish taste. At first sip, you are surprised by how chunky it feels even though everything is puree. Then you slowly take more gigantic sips because you cannot get enough of it.
By the fourth sip, you are surprised that you only have an inch left in your glass. You wave down a server and order another glass before your meal arrives.
Mie in Yogyakarta, Indonesia
D and I were looking for a lunch place at the mall in Yogyakarta. We decided to have lunch at Mie Nusantara. Little did we know, it was the best noodle and that we would have (at least until now).
The noodle was springy and yummy with its black sauce. The gigantic fried meatballs were chewy and was nothing like the regular siewmai that I have back home.
We thought that other stores in Indonesia would have the same quality of food. Unfortunately, we went to a Mie place in Jakarta where we found the worst noodle ever.
Bean curd in ginger syrup in Bangkok, Thailand
I passed by the little hole-in-the-wall on the way to the Grand Palace in Bangkok. The spicy ginger syrup beckoned me with a wave like cartoon smoke.
I coughed through the meal because of the ginger. Strangely, the bean curd had hints of peanut in it even though I am quite sure they used soy bean for these dishes.
Flavored beer in Tokyo, Japan
During my October trip to Tokyo, I didn’t have any mind blowing meal. The sushi at Tsukiji was a little bland while the udon at Shinjuku was too salty.
But, I did manage to buy a can of flavored beer (or it is considered alcohol, not beer). I fell in love with these low-alcohol fizzy drinks the first time I was in Japan. Every trip, I make sure that I buy a can (mostly from convenience stores) and get a little tipsy before bedtime.
I quite like Japanese-styled pudding (pictured with the beer). I am not quite sure if I should eat the caramel part before the custard or the other way around.
To be honest, I’ve thought really hard about which food to put as the last in the Top 10 entry. Nothing special comes to mind so I am putting this generic entry.
Even the bad tasting supermarket sushi in San Francisco deserves a mention because without tasting something as foul, I would not be able to recognize what good food tastes like.
I am thankful that I am able to eat something other than McDonald while travelling. I am thankful for not being allergic to food types which gives me a chance to eat all sorts of interesting things while on the road.
I’m back home in Sabah for the holiday. My parents cancelled the house’s broadband service so I am stuck with using 3G on my phone. This means no aimless Youtube surfing or blogging.
Luckily, I’m now in a hotel lobby that has Wi-Fi so I can publish this post. My mom and I are in a 2-day roadtrip to Kudat.
Anyway, it’s the last week of 2012 so I want to bring you back to the different trips that I made this year. (A full recap of the towns I’ve been to later this week.)
First and last trip of 2012
First: I was travelling with D to Negeri Sembilan’s Seremban on New Year’s eve. We continued to Port Dickson the next day so that I could wash my feet in the ocean. (It’s a tradition for me.)
Last: I’m back home for the December break! I guess the Kudat trip I’m in now counts as the last trip for the year.
Best and worst Malaysian state this year
I haven’t been visiting as many Malaysian states as I promised myself last year. If I have to pick a favorite state (or town) this year, it would be Ipoh, Perak. Ipoh has lovely food and even one (kind of) historical ruin.
I’ve liked all the states which I visited but I totally hate the 13-hour bus ride–including 6+ hours of post-holiday traffic jam–that spanned from Kedah to Kuala Lumpur.
Longest bus ride
Related to the above, the longest bus ride I took was from Alor Setar to Kuala Lumpur. It caused enough travel trauma that I didn’t travel since then. (Kidding, I haven’t travelled in November because I’m trying to save more money.)
Tokyo to San Franciso: 9h, 30m, 8,224 km.
I took Delta for my business trip to the USA. The flight was better than I expected because they serve Coca Cola in cans. Gulp gulp gulp.
Unexpectedly nice and not-so-nice city
San Francisco was more awesome than I thought it would be: the buildings, the museums, the shows, the sea. Plus, lavender is planted as street plants there. I am sold!
Best and worst paid accommodation
I’m leaving out hotels that I stayed in as part of my business trip because it’s not fair to compare heaven with earth.
The best place I’ve stayed in this year is Manohara Hotel when D and I were in Yogyakarta. Well, the price is correlated to how great the beds are. The second place goes to Tune Hotel Asoke which was really 5-star hotel for 1-star price.
As for the worse accommodation. The Port Dickson room had thin walls and a common shower with only cold water. It was next to a night market which blasted music till 3 a.m.. The other guest had a kid who was screaming in the morning. But…the worst hotel award should go to the hotels in Yogyakarta where D and I caught bed bugs.
Funniest and least funny memory
Funniest: In Prambanan city, a random man called out to D and I from his stall: “AJINOMOTO!” It’s like a man shouting at two random white persons: “COCA COLA!”
Least funny: Being chat up by a hobo-like person on the San Francisco bus. I had to switch my seats to the front so I was sitting near the driver. The kind lady sitting at the front made up for the weird chat.
Yummiest and most disgusting meal when travelling
Cannot choose. TOO MUCH GOOD FOOD during the year.
As for worse meal: supermarket sushi.
Most and least productive trip
My weekend in Bangkok was really well planned, if I do say so myself. I’ll share the itinerary one day.
The least productive trip is either the Kuching trip or the Jakarta trip. I think Kuching might top the list because it was my second time there.
Well, that is all with the recap! I have to go. My people need me!
It’s Friday again! And I will end of my three-part post of the visit to Candi Sukuh the erotic temple with a bit about food since Fridays are FoodFri here.
After combing the site for graphic sculptures of dicks (sorry mom!), we set back for the flat lands. (Maybe I should clarify that I was the only one looking for dicks, not knowing that I was surrounded by symbolic penes.)
Our motorcyclists took us back to the little town where we ordered two glasses of coffee from the shop next door. The lady owning the stall was tonguetied when we asked her for the price. I imagined her brain making calculations of how much extra charge she could get away with.
The price wasn’t too expensive but we didn’t even get to have two sips of the coffee as the bus back into Karangpandan was here.
There were a lot of school kids on the bus but they didn’t sit. D said they probably paid less and weren’t allowed to sit. Or maybe they like standing.
At Karangpandan, I went to one of the convenience stores to get some pain killers for my head.
We stopped by a small warung run by a lady with her daughters. The eatery was a wooden shack by the roadside with an aluminium roof.
We sat on the floor and ate two person’s portion of lunch. I had fried chicken and some sweet tea. The avocado juice was really amazing too.
We lazed around the warung for a long while before we headed back to the bus terminal for the bus to Solo.
Before we left, I took a photo of the newspaper front page which proudly proclaimed: “Solo nominated as one of the seven most amazing cities in the world, beating Jakarta and Singapore.”
This post is part 2 of 3 of D and my trip to erotic temple Candi Sukuh in Indonesia. Find out how we decided to visit the location and our journey to the site in part 1.
The motorcycle drivers deposited us at the foot of a hill after a rather calm ride (no one was tossed off their bikes, thank goodness). The way uphill was steep and would have taken forever if we had walked.
We couldn’t see the ruins from the entrance but the site didn’t look big.
I read someone’s blog which described Candi Sukuh as a mini Mexican temple. Did the ancient architects go to the same school of building design?
After paying for our entrance, we read the only description available of the site in the form of a faded poster on a display board behind a pane of dirty glass.
After reading, we entered the real site by climbing a flight of stone steps. I would rather climbed through the narrow staircase of the stone building near the steps but the gate was locked.
When I first saw the real site, I was slightly disappointed at its petite size. I was expecting something on a grander scale but the area was rather small and could be seen in about half an hour time.
It was interesting how the ancient people “layered” the temple grounds so the main building was the highest.
Once I’ve gotten over my first world problem of being disappointed by the smallness of the site, I was in awe of the sculptures. I could not even draw half of these beings, how did they get them onto the rocks.
There was a couple taking pre-wedding photographs on the temple grounds. I think it’s really cool to take photos there because it’s a lot more unique than the general fake screens we see.
The highlight of the site was the rooftop altar which could only be reached by climbing a narrow staircase. The width of the entrance showed how petite 15th-century people were but us 21st century big boned folks also made it.
On the rooftop, it was a bit dizzying to see the tea gardens. I kept thinking I might slip and crash head first onto the stone pavement. Ouch!
One embarrassing complaint I have about Candi Sukuh is the lack of erotic symbols. For a fertility temple, there’s too little eroticism around.
I was hoping for something like Haesindang Park but I only found two statues that were explicit.
I’ll leave you with this song from Flight of the Conchords titled Too Many Dicks on the Dance Floor.
Follow me as I end my trip to Candi Sukuh with a hot sweet tea at a local warung.
This is post part 1 of 3.
So this time, I want to do an experiment. Instead of bringing you straight to the destination, I want to bring you along on the trip to Candi Sukuh.
Are you ready?
During my eight-day trip to Yogyakarta, Indonesia, D and I headed to Solo for a couple of days. I don’t remember why we chose to go to Solo but it might be because of the relatively short train ride to the city.
On the day we were heading to Candi Sukuh, we dropped by the tourist information center opposite Hotel Dana where we were staying at.
The man at the information counter tried to persuade us to take a taxi there but we insisted on taking the public transport for two reasons:
However, we did take a cab to the main bus terminal because Trans Solo wasn’t as efficient as Trans Jogja (or Trans Jakarta, which I found out months afterwars)
From the main terminal at Solo, we hopped on a bus heading to Karangpandan where we to switched to a smaller bus.
The bus from Solo was a large bus. The seats were divided by a narrow corridor: the seats on the right could sit three petite locals while the ones on the left were for two. Being big-boned, we took the 3-seater for the two of us.
While waiting for the rest of the passengers to board, the bus was a bit warm and stuffy but it cooled down when the bus started moving as an endless gust of wind come in from from the partly open windows and the never-closed door.
As the bus chugged past fields of paddy, the bus conductor hungout of the open door, making sounds like an ambulance as we passed by motorists. “Wee-woo-wee-woo!”
In front of our row was a family with a doe-eyed child. The kid stared at us a while before turning to the front.
Usually when I am on a bus with TV, I am more likely to look at the box than the scenery. I think this has something to do with the TV being my baby sitter while I was growing up.
But I was really shocked when I saw the shows on the bus. They were was playing really sexy music videos.
Women dressed in strips of cloth writhed in front of the camera to loud techno music. I pretty much stared at the TV, wide mouthed. How on earth is something this sexy shown when Lady Gaga is “chased out of Indonesia“.
Later, the videos switched to wild life so I end up staring at the back of the head kid who had peeped at us from his seat.
At one of the stops, a boy came on board with a small guitar (a ukelele?) and serenaded each row. No one gave him money so he left after a round on the corridor.
Finally, we arrived at Karangpandan station where we switched to a smaller bus. This bus was much smaller with two seaters on each side of the corridor.
I sat by the windows with D next to the aisle. A bunch of old ladies later came onboard.
The bus seats were rather cramped and I held on to the window edge with my fingers in case my butt slipped too far.
During the ride, I heard the old ladies chattering for a while. Then D spoke out loud, “Hello madams.” The old ladies twittered but stopped talking.
Later, D told me that the old ladies discussed among themselves how fair she was. This escalated to arm touching to see if the skin was real. When D greeted them in Indonesian, they looked sheepish. :3
The bus climbed up hills after hills on a narrow road. It then stopped in a small town. The conductor told us this was our stop for Candi Sukuh.
We found a motorcycle workshop and asked if they provided lifts to the temple. (I’ve read on the Internet that it’s better to get a motorcycle ride than walk.)
Two of the men volunteered after we discussed a price. I went along with the younger driver.
Wearing my hair gel-smelling helmet, I enjoyed the view of the valley and the cool air. My driver kept persuading me to visit the tea plantations and another temple faraway.
After a very steep hill, our motorcycles stopped and the drivers told us that they will wait for us while we visited the temple grounds.
Continue with the adventure in part 2 of the visit to Candi Sukuh and see how the site resembles the ruins in South America.
I rarely take taxis when travelling. One main reason is that I am
stingy thrifty. The other reason is that it’s more interesting to take the public transport and see how the locals travel.
The ladies-only carriage was among the Top 10 Things I Love about Central Java
D and I were travelling from Jogja to Solo on the local train. Some of the ladies brought their own stools so they don’t need to sit on the floor.
The whole journey felt like a big party, except I was standing.
I love cycling and I love cities that embrace cycling. I rented an electrical bike and cycled to Sausalito from San Francisco. It didn’t matter that my bicycle chain fell off and I had to put it back.
A 50 cents ride across the river in the City of Cats.
This blog post was inspired by BootsnAll’s Indie Travel Challenge weekly travel blog project.
Week 36 of the Indie Travel Challenge is all about photography: Share 5 photos you took during your travels.
Check out my other #indie2012 posts.
The part I dislike most about travelling is looking for accommodation. I take too much time reading reviews and worrying about bed bugs.
I ended up choosing Favehotel Wahid Hasyim (pronounced FAV, not fave as I thought it was) because it has airport transport (at an extra cost). Also, it didn’t look like it had bed bugs.
I’m not sure how much extra we had to pay for the transport but it was much more convenient not having to make calls to book a taxi back to the airport. But from the airport to town, you can book a cab immediately at the counter for Golden Bird.
When we reached the hotel after our one-hour cab ride, the receptionist who was the most polite told us that their system was down.
We ended up eating at the hotel restaurant to wait for their system to go back up. We had different rice dishes and they came in cute layout.
We finally checked in after our lunch. We had a room on the third floor, looking out the streets and a tree.
The room is an OK size, with all the stuff you need. I like that they have space above the bed for us to put our things–very convenient.
What I like most about the hotel is its proximity to the Trans Jakarta station which is only a short walk away.
The famous backpacker street Jalan Jaksa is a 1km walk away. On the road leading to Jalan Jaksa, there’s the great peranakan restaurant Kedai Tiga Nyonya and the famous fried chicken place which I’ve forgotten what the name is.
If you are a Google Maps addict like me, please note that the hotel is on the lower part of Jl. K. H. Wahid Hasyim, not on top as stated in the Apple Maps app. I can be quite anal about maps, I realized.
We paid a total of S$107 for the room and the two-way transfer (which was almost as expensive as the room itself).
Pro: Great location, free Wi-Fi, comfy bed, quiet at night
Cons: Traffic can be horrible if travelling by car–but that applies to most of Jakarta
Other accommodation reviews (for the budget travelers)