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!

Continue reading “YQtravelling is back in business… Whatever business is”

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)

#FoodFri Glutton in Jakarta

Indonesian Nasi Bali

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.

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