plane landing travel fb

YQtravelling is back in business… Whatever business is

Hey folks,

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!

Here my travel schedule as my attempt at art:

Among the places I will be going to, Surabaya is a city I’ve not been to yet. Jakarta and Bangkok are two cities where I’ve only visited for two days. I will be adding another two days to each of them.

As in the past, I’ll be doing a lot of weekend travelling. There are two long weekends that I will be travelling (May and August). I didn’t know Good Friday’s date or else my Jakarta trip would have been longer.

A year of not travelling (much)

As a travel blogger, it’s quite silly that I haven’t been travelling. But as a person, I feel it’s liberating that I didn’t need to escape to a foreign land every other month.

While not travelling, I have been keeping myself occupied with

Where are you travelling next?

 

temples

5 places of worship I visited while travelling

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…

Sagrada Familia @ Barcelona

Sagrada Familia @ Barcelona

Sagrada Familia @ Barcelona

Work in progress. The inside is actually prettier than the outside.

Tokyo Daijingu @ Tokyo

Tokyo Daijingu @ Tokyo

Tokyo Daijingu @ Tokyo

This place is supposedly great for praying for romance. Has it worked for me?

Church of Scientology @ San Francisco

Church of Scientology @ San Francisco

Church of Scientology @ San Francisco

Pretty on the outside…

Candi Sewu @ Prambanan

Candi Sewu @ Prambanan

Candi Sewu @ Prambanan

Candi Sewu is actually nicer than its more famous neighbor.

Masjid Kampung Kling @ Melaka

Masjid Kampung Kling @ Melaka

Masjid Kampung Kling @ Melaka

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.)

sweet tea

A trip to erotic temple Candi Sukuh: Part 3

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.

Part one talks about how I got to Candi Sukuh while part two is about how I was surrounded by symbolic penes.

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.

Overcharged kopi

Overcharged kopi

Lunch time

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.

Just hanging around after school.

Just hanging around after school. (Not the bus I took)

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.

Warung menu

Warung menu

warung

warung

warung deco

warung deco

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.

sweet tea

sweet tea

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.”

Solo wins

Solo wins

Follow my 3-part adventures to Candi Sukuh:
In part 1, we took the bus which played sexy music videos while in part 2, I was surrounded by symbolic dicks which I took for home deco.

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Symbolic penes at Candi Sukuh

A trip to erotic temple Candi Sukuh: Part 2

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.
xxx
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.

Stairs to Candi Sukuh

Stairs to Candi Sukuh

The real Candi Sukuh

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.

Candi Sukuh

Candi Sukuh

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.

Gate of Candi Sukuh

Gate of Candi Sukuh

“I believe I can fly”

Candi SUkuh deco

Candi Sukuh deco

Wall carvings of Candi Sukuh

Wall carvings of Candi Sukuh

Basin of Candi Sukuh

Basin of Candi Sukuh

Mask of terror

Mask of terror

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.

Wedding shoot at Candi Sukuh

Wedding shoot at Candi Sukuh

To the altar of Candi Sukuh

To the altar of Candi Sukuh

To the altar of Candi Sukuh


Stairs to rooftop bar of Candi Sukuh

Stairs to rooftop bar of Candi Sukuh

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!

Hi from Candi Sukuh's rooftop altar

Hi from Candi Sukuh’s rooftop altar

My only complaint

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.

Why Candi Sukuh is called an erotic temple

Why Candi Sukuh is called an erotic temple

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.

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indonesia bus

A trip to erotic temple Candi Sukuh: Part 1

This is post part 1 of 3.

I realize that a lot of my posts are about the destination: How grand the palace was, how sad the castle was and so on.

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?

Sights of Candi Sukuh

Sights of Candi Sukuh

Prologue

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.

While in Solo, we took a day trip to Candi Sukuh. I admit that my motif for visiting was due to its unofficial title as being an erotic temple.

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:

  1. It’s more indie.
  2. It’s cheaper.

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.

Show your sexy move

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.

On the bus

On the bus

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.

Touchy feely on the bus

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

Foot of the hill

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.

foot of hill where we got rides to the temple

foot of hill where we got rides to the temple

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.

view of tea garden

view of tea garden

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.

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transportation

5 transportation I took during my travels

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.

Train in Yogyakarta

Train in Yogyakarta
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.

Public bus in Kamakura

Public bus in Kamakura
Japanese buses are efficient. They even have a timetable of when the buses come.

Biking in San Francisco

Biking in San Francisco
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.

Boat in Kuching

Boat in Kuching
A 50 cents ride across the river in the City of Cats.

Becak in Solo

Becak in Solo
One becak drive who took us from Jogja town back to our hotel didn’t manage to get any commission from batik shops and complained about us being “gemuk” (fat). I thought it was quite funny.

Indie Travel Challenge
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 room

Stayed Favehotel Wahid Hasyim, Jakarta review

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.

Receptionist

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.

The room

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.

TV!


Of course, there’s a TV with cable and a desk to do writing. I didn’t writes as much as I thought I would.

Bath room


Toothbrush is provided and body-shampoo (unidentified liquid) provided.

Good location

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).

Summary

Stayed:
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)

Indonesian Nasi Bali

#FoodFri Glutton in Jakarta

It’s lunchtime here in Singapore so I thought it’s an appropriate time to launch this week’s #FoodFri.

I was in Jakarta last weekend and was quite disappointed by the food there.

But I only have myself to blame. Despite all the research on food in Glodok, I didn’t really jot down the locations nor print out a Google Map of Chinatown.

Well, not everything was terrible so here’s a less hunger-inducing version of the Glutton series.

The Good

Indonesian Nasi Bali

Indonesian Nasi Bali


The restaurant/cafe at our hotel served quite tasty nasi (rice dishes). Since I’ve never been to Bali, I ordered the Nasi Bali.

The portion that came was quite small but D reminded me that what we have back home are actually supersized.

The whole dish was slightly spicy but tasty. I even had a fish paste on a lemongrass stick which was cute.

Seafood Kempinski Hotel buffet

Cold seafood


We did a very un-budget traveller thing in Jakarta and splurged at the buffet restaurant of a 5-star hotel. Hotel K. Our handbags needed to be checked and we had to pass a metal detector before we could go in.

The main mean spread was alright. The sushi counter a bit too stingy–salmon was gone and never to appear after one hour. The cold seafood was fine, although I would love to have raw oysters instead.

The redeeming feature were the desserts. My favorite was the sticky toffee pudding.

What I enjoyed most at the restaurant was gawking at the lifestyles (and hairdos) of the rich and famous.

Blueberry pancake house

A toast at Blueberry Pancake House


When we were walking in search of the illusive Jalan Jaksa, we passed by this little restaurant. (If it’s in Lonely Planet, I’m not sure how little it is.)

They had a buffet breakfast spread so we got that. They served fried rice, fried eggs, fried chicken, fried potato patty, non-fried fruits. I had a lot of the coffee and tea as well.

Indonesian food stall

Pre-buka puasa set up


While we were at Blok M, the hawkers were preparing to operate after the fasting period. The stuff looked tasty but we had more important food to tend to. Maybe we can come back next time.

Bread Papa creampuff

Creampuff and strawberries


Not quite an originally Indonesian dish but I enjoyed my cheaper-than-Singapore Bread Papa creampuff at the airport. The organic strawberries I got from the supermarket were a bit too sour.

Drinks

Teh botol, less sugar

Teh Botol, less sugar


A colleague of mine introduced me to Teh Botol (literally “bottled tea”) before I went to Jogjakarta. The full sugared Teh Botol is too sweet for our liking but the Less Sugar version is like Goldilock’s last porridge. Just right.

Iced coffee at Tomodachi Cafe

Ice coffee


Also from our hotel cafe/restaurant. The ice cream and coffee went really well.

Kopitiam Oei

Kopitiam Oei


While walking aimlessly after finding Jalan Jaksa, we stumbled upon this faux-vintage kopitiam. It has a 1960’s feel to everything.

The menu was a fake newsletter, telling people the origins of the place. (“No, it did not really exist in olden days. The coffeeshop is a recent creation”.)

I had two coffees there. The kopi jawa was a really “manly” drink with its dark liquid and coffee grounds while the Vietnamese-styled coffee lack the buttery taste.

I had one too many cups of coffes, as I found out an hour later. I was feeling nauseous for a long time after that.

The Ugly: Why is Bakmi GM popular?

Bakmi GM

Horrible food at Bakmi GM


I was looking forward to bouncy bakmi and huge meaty siowmay which I had in Jogjakarta. The flavor, the chewiness of everything!

Unfortunately, we visited Bakmi GM. It was the only visible (meaning a HUGE sign) bakmi place around and we thought the quality would be good.

When we reached the first floor of the building, we found ourselves with plenty of other Indonesians. This must mean that the food is good.

Our order was taken and paid on the spot. However, it took a really long time for our change to come back. In fact, our food arrived before the change did.

The avocado juice was incredibly good (as expected of Indonesia). However, the main dishes were not as tasty. D liked her veggie with oyster sauce but the rest were a joke.

My noodles were limp and all stuck together when I poked them with my chopsticks. It was not a good sign. I nibbled on it and discovered it tasted exactly like the terrible noodles I had as a kid.

Flashback of terrible noodles: It was a road trip and mom’s friends drove us to Kinabalu Park. We stopped by a shop for noodles. The dish was too disgusting that we children didn’t have much of it. Mom’s friend (Auntie L) insisted that the noodles were packed and brought along with us to eat later. In the end, I “accidentally” left the gross bad of soggy dough in the changing room. End of flashback.

Our fried siowmay followed. Instead of a fried meatball, it tasted like turnip cake. I felt like sobbing over the meal (mostly caused by caffeine induced overdrive of emotions).

We had to order another glass of avocado juice and pangsit or fried wonton to get the taste of noodles out of our mouths. The pangsit was ok with the meat as sidekick to the fried dough.

Overall, it was not a good meal. I’m sorry for being disappointed.

Can you share locations of good eating places in Jakarta? I promise to write them down when I visit next time.

jakartian kittie

30 hours in Jakarta

It feels like only yesterday that we took a taxi to the airport [to fly to Jakarta]. Wait a minute… It was yesterday.
-inner monologue

I just came back from a weekend trip in Jakarta. It wasn’t our (D and I) best planned trip but getting out of SIN and smell another country’s air (whether it is fresh or not is up for debate)

I bought the tickets to Jakarta on a whim. AirAsia was having a sale and the tickets to the capital of Indonesia was around S$100 for a return trip.

While we did read up on interesting things to do, we didn’t achieve much. One reason was that there were no tourist maps to figure out where we were. The other was that we didn’t take enough notes. The weather was also too hot.

Enough excuses, here’s a run down of our 30 hours in Jakarta. While I wish it looked like something from the NYT, it’s really just a journal of two people getting lost and eating a lot.

Day 1, Saturday

11.10am Plane arrives on time. Take the airport grounds shuttle to airport. Find counter for pre-booked cab into the city.

AirAsia’s 2 minute bus

11.30am-1pm Stuck in traffic from airport to hotel.

1.30pm Hotel system down so cannot check in. Have lunch at hotel restaurant.

2pm Finished lunch. Check in.

3pm Freshen up. Get out. Take Trans Jakarta bus to Glodok, slightly worried about one hour (according to Google Maps) bus ride.

They see me rollin’

3.30pm Thanks for bus lane, reach Glodok earlier than expected. Walk aimlessly because of no maps. End up in electronics shopping mall and clothes/phone/lots of stuff mall.

4pm End up in Kota (one bus stop away.) Cannot find entrance to Kota Station, climb like monkeys to get onto platform. Take bus to other end of terminal at Blok M. Stare at Jakarta’s enormous malls while bus zips past. See Pizza Man Statue.

Pizza Man!

5pm Reach terminal. Lose way at terminal, walking past interesting pre-buka puasa stalls. Find right terminal.

6pm Reach Hotel K for dinner buffet. Food so so but patrons are very interesting. Rich ladies here are dressed to the nines while there husbands look rich (aka well-fed). Children deck out in kid’s wear section of branded clothing lines.

Seafood

8.30pm Leave restaurant. Spend time at bookstore. Buy two Sharpies, a kid’s guide to Arabic alphabets and some stickers for name card.

Le shopping

10pm Take cab back. Cabbie almost take wrong direction, directed him to right way.

12.15am Sleep.

Day 2 Sunday

~6.30am Wake up, do morning routine.

7:00 am Go in search of a breakfast place. End up at BlueBerry Pancake House, have its buffet breakfast. Load up stomach with fried rice, toast and coffee.

Bread and butter

8.30am Take a stroll on Jalan Jaksa, trying to look for the illusive Tourist Information Center to get a map of the city. Find a shack with “Jaksa Tourist Information Center”.
Man at shack does not have maps but asks if we want a city tour in his car. Decline, continue walking.

9.30am Find retro kopitiam. Have two coffees while enjoying its Wi-Fi–Java coffee with grounds and Vietnamese coffee.

KTOey

10.30am Take cab back to hotel. Finish packing everything.

12noon Leave hotel for lunch and grocery shopping. End up at Bakmi GM which has the most horrible tasting noodles–how on earth can anyone swallow that thing?

Head to McCafe for a Mango Frappe. Read. Head back to hotel before 3pm.

3pm Leave on pre-booked car to airport. Napped on airport, waking up at times to answer driver’s questions.

4pm to 6.50pm Reach the airport with a lot of time to spare. Check in. Ate a cream puff and strawberries. Had a half-hour foot massage which left my feet feeling very light. Fly back

First thoughts of Jakarta

My first thoughts about Jakarata were: OMG why is everything so freaking big here.

I swear, the buildings (except residential areas) are all at least five storeys high! All the shopping malls are like gigantic pyramids (if pyramids were cubes or rectangular-shapes).

The traffic is crazy but if your routes are along the Trans Jogja stops, it’s a literal breeze since the bus company has its exclusive “busway”.

Bakmi GM’s noodles were disgusting. How is it possible when Yogyakarta’s Mie Nusantara was so good we visited twice? Do Jakartarians not know what is good noodles?

Most disappointing noodles

To end this post on a good note, here’s a photo of a snoozing kitty. <3

bebek

#FoodFri: Fried duck + rice in Yogyakarta

The first time I’ve ever tried deep fried duck was in Indonesia.

Compared to the fat (injection induced) friend chicken I’ve eaten, fried duck (especially in Indonesia) is very skinny. Imagine roasted duck but drier and tougher. Yes, that’s how it tastes like. Not that it’s not tasty that way, but it’s just special.

Unlike back home where meat or vegetable play the main role in a meal, the rice is the leading character here. (Let’s ignore the raw veg, I don’t eat raw veg.)

There’s a special chilli that comes along with the dish. Unfortunately, I don’t eat chilli too so I can’t tell if it’s any good.

#FoodFri is a post up on each Friday featuring a dish or meals I’ve had when travelling (or staying put). Happy eating!

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