What is Indonesia without the sun? It’s one of the country’s blessings, helping plants to grow and laundry to dry. Important! As for traveling, the consistent warm rays are what many travelers from temperate climate residents look for. It was what I missed the most too when abroad, aside to my mother’s cooking. One of my travel mates describes the sun in temperate climate like ‘light bulbs’ since it has minimum feel to the skin during autumn and winter. So when traveling Indonesia, I soak in the sun well! Bring it on!
However, it’s not once or twice I get burned. It used to be a lot. I also see travelers, especially foreigners, burned out with red blotchy skin, which surely stings like hell; such a bugger when on vacation. We all know why this happens. Because we just don’t take 15 minutes to apply or reapply sunblock before having fun under the sun for hours.
Through life’s lessons, I’ve learned to apply sunblock during my travels especially when there’s a lot of swimming going on. The water might feel fresh, but the sun still pierces through. Even on boats, we are prone to burns as the sea reflects the sun.
And it doesn’t stop there. This past year I’ve been taking more buses and ojeks than taxis when in Jakarta. Not that it’s a bad thing. Riding public transportation is always awesome to observe people and get to know the environment around you. However, traveling with busses and ojeks exposes me to more sun, yet I take less precaution compared to when I’m traveling out of town. I might not get burned immediately, but I should think about the implications on the long run, which pretty much explains how I’m not coming back to my lighter tone.
The tropical countries like Indonesia, the sun shines everywhere and we should show more attention to our skin. I was much reminded of this when attending the launch of Marina UV White Extra SPF 30. The launch brought me back to my school days, listening to lectures about UV rays and the effects on our skin. Although there was no exam to follow, it reminded me that skin care could be simple. A good lotion, not to mention one with SPF 30 sunblock, is a good investment to good skin. It is one step hassle-free having to apply a generous coat daily, rather that two (sunblack and lotion). It smells fruity-nice too, ‘cause it has yogurt and Acai berry extracts to help maintain the moisture of your skin and protect it from radical particles.
Well, might as well give it a go! Looks pretty handy and I can take it with me where ever I go. Maybe it could be on my next trip to… hmm.. where should Indohoy go this time round? Oh yes, Borneo! To Betung Kerihun! Stay tuned for more on that.
So you wanted to check out what Australia has to offer! But where do you start?! After all, Australia is the largest island in the world. There’s just so much to see and do – and surprisingly a lot of those things are located far from the capital cities. In order to really witness Australia’s true beauty you could start with the beaten track, and what better way than in a campervan or motor-home?! Think about it, it’s essentially a hotel room on wheels. And the best part is, you can wake up somewhere new every day. DriveNow have campervans in Australia is available to rent in all capital cities, but we’ll get to that later.
Here’s an idea. I did something similar to this when I was a kid, when my family and a few others decided to visit Dreamworld in Brisbane. You can start the trip in the picture perfect Sydney, one of the most beautiful harbour cities in the world. You can have the campervan ready to pick you up at the Sydney airport shortly after your flight lands. The pick up can be simple – just head to the car rental company kiosk, fill out the forms, present the driver’s license, and before you know it you’re heading out of Sydney up the M1 to Newcastle, a coastal town located 150KM north of Sydney. With a population just shy over half a million, Newcastle is the second most populated are in New South Wales (after Sydney, of course). Most importantly, the campervan would be your home for the night. Best to secure a spot at Hastings Point holiday resort – one of the more premium camping grounds in Newcastle – conveniently located just two minutes from Pottsville beach –where you’ll spend most of your time. Newcastle is the epitome of “coastal town” – it has a laid back atmosphere with friendly locals and lovely beaches. However, this was just the beginning of the journey. The next stop would sunny Coffs Harbour.
Coffs Harbour is conveniently located between Sydney and Brisbane – making it the perfect stop over for anyone heading up north (or south if you hail from Queensland). Coffs Harbour is home to the infamous Big Banana – which is exactly what its name suggests it is. The Iconic banana is not only a recognisable landmark, but also home to a small amusement park and popular tourist attraction. The Big Banana is set amongst an 18 hectare banana plantation – it’s almost like a cult symbol – reminding Australians of their love for bananas.
However, the Big Banana isn’t the only thing Coffs Harbour is famous for! It’s known worldwide for its sun, surf and sand! You can set up camp at Beach Holiday Park and go exploring. There’s so much to see and do in Coffs Harbour – from the cafés and restaurants situated on the Jetty Strip to fishing at one of the many spots locals swear by – there’s something for everyone – young and old.
This will only be the first step of your journey – but you’ll already cover so much ground and experience more of Australia than many will in a hotel room. So get out there! It’s not going to see itself.
The hotel industry is amazingly profitable, and that means that there is always a certain degree of wiggle room present – even if the front desk staff say otherwise. There are tips and tricks that will help you understand the ways hotels actually function on a day-to-day basis. Here are five of the best kept hotel secrets, reported from actual front desk staff members. Use these tips to maximize the enjoyment of your stays – and to minimize your expenditures.
Hotels commonly overbooked. They do so because there is about an 11% no-show rate on any given day. If not enough people failed to show up for their reservations, then the hotel is, in fact, overbooked. And some people “walked”. That means they get turned away, with no room. And while most hotels will pay for a walked guest to stay at a competitor’s hotel, the situation is never desirable. Those most likely to get walked are those who only booked for a single night, those who used discount sites to book, those who are first-time guests that may never come back – and those who act rude to the staff.
The hotel industry is nearly always booming. Go to an Accor hotel in any major city, on any modestly important date, and see that it is probably booked almost to capacity. American business thrives on traveling, and hotels consistently capitalize. It’s reported that the average cost for a hotel to operate a single room for one day is about $35. That includes everything from the utilities to the housekeeper to the staff expenses. So, when you, and every other guest are paying $150 per night, the hotel is raking the dough.
Well, sort of. You see, the area that is commonly failed with error in a hotel concerns the mini bar. These get stocked incorrectly, inventoried incorrectly, and experience more human error than any other aspect of hotel operation. Front desk staff get tired and embarrassed of constantly having to debate who drank what, what was stocked originally and the rest. The staff does not want to insult its valued guests, and therefore are often very accommodating to just letting those charges slide.
In general, rooms that are booked on discount comparison sites are not the best the hotel has to offer. In fact, they are normally the worst ones. They save the better rooms for guests who are paying their regular prices. It is just a fact. So think twice when you are “saving” with a hotel comparison discount website.
There are always rooms reserved for special circumstances. The front desk staff has the power to allot these rooms in circumstances that they dictate as important. The fact is that, most times, if you just slip the front desk staff member a tip, say like $20, then, amazingly, rooms open up, smiles get bigger and everything seems to fall right into place. This is a fact. So, to get an upgrade when one apparently does not exist, show some cash and make it better.
Knowing the insider secrets on how hotels operate make sure your travels and lodging life a lot more enjoyable. Higher quality rooms, superior service, upgrade amenities and more are available to those who get educated – and then use their knowledge to create enhanced enjoyment at the hotels they stay in.
M Alan Roberts is a writer with publications that can be found in magazines, novels, e-books and of course all over the Internet. He is dedicated to writing and his ever-loyal canine companion, Buckethead the Lab-Pitt.
“One thing I miss about living in Bandung is the creative atmosphere. Almost every chat ends in an idea to create something. Your friend already had an idea for an app of Bandung night heritage trail,” I explained to Arif Rahman, a prominent Indonesian travel blogger while we were cruising with the new Nissan March. Yes, I miss hanging around with friends, or strangers for that matter, over some cheap cup of so-called coffee and creating something out of nothing at all. In Indonesia, Bandung’s creative community is relatively well known; something I haven’t found as much in Jakarta, yet.
It was probably because, coincidentally, Arif knew the right people and could connect them at the right time. My 12 hours with him reminded me how creative Bandung really is. He pretty much dragged me around town to see what he wanted to see and meet the people he needed to meet. It started as a simple walk to a distro not far from the main Factory Outlet shopping area, the Jalan R.E. Martadinata or commonly known as Jalan Riau. We were supposed stay close within the area, but Arif and I decided to venture off a bit. Jalan Trunojoyo area is known to be home of some of Bandung’s local brands, some of which we love. It’s a joy to see the stores in this area as most of them are well designed and some are, surprisingly, premium class. This street really shows how much Bandung kids put into design, not only with clothes, but also furniture and café’s.
Top: CD of local band, The Sigit. Second row: clothes at a distro with nice display and a local designed chair. Bottom: display of furniture store.
Traveling to another side of the city, we met a few other creative people working in the culinary world, which are still some side creations to their main livelihood. Some created baking goods and some created fun drinks. By my tasting alone, I can say that these items aren’t fooling around. They mean serious business with rich taste and thought out packaging. Although Bandung is already well known as a culinary destination, I’m glad to see the next generation trying to uphold the reputation. Bandung is in good hands. Boy, did we get a fun sugar shot!
Twisting through the night, I was surrounded by people that showed me more of Bandung’s creative magic. With ideas flying around a table, there were items to make, promising brands to be promoted, and relations to be-friend. It was tough to keep up with so many projects thrown at each other, not to mention the ones in my own head.
Clock wise: local brand bag, half eaten chocolate nutella brownies, owner of local brand bag and his pride and joy.
“If you were to choose between a local brand and a famous international brand with the same price, which one would you choose?”
“Local brand,” I easily answered because I really didn’t have the items to compare in front of me. In that split second upon answering Arif’s question, I believed that going local is the best way to help the economy and only a limited amount of people in the world has the same goods that I do. And going local in Bandung looks really good!
By the end of the night, my head was pumped with ideas and possibilities, even about blogging this at 2 a.m. It’s a priceless circumstance that doesn’t come often. I’m thankful to be in this mini creative storm back in my hometown. It hadn’t felt this homey for a long time.
Luxe is translated to something expensive, high quality, and most likely worth a lot of money or something worth robbing. In many ways, I agree on this definition. But of course, luxe is a matter of perspective.
On the other hand, there are many other definition of luxe. I also believe luxury can also translate to items made with hard and detailed manual work like any designer’s or artist’s creation. It takes a lot of love, sweat, and tears, to make beautiful objects, especially those that are involve generations of tradition. This FriFotos, we’re showcasing some luxurious Indonesian handicrafts by this definition.
There are so many types of cloths in Indonesia, most of which are manually weaved. Weaving in the checkers pattern wouldn’t be luxurious, but weaving 9-10 patterns on one cloth would be. It takes a lot of time, concentration, and backaches, to make beautiful cloth that probably would be challenging for any machine.
Traditional cloth from Sumatra Barat.
Every single ‘wayang kulit’ is hand made. Every curve, crevice, and component, is hand carved on leather or parchment to then also be manually painted. Although they seemed scattered all over Java, there is no denying that each pawn is special and shows a piece of its maker.
Indonesia is an oddly rich country. When in comes to minerals and gems, we kinda have a lot of them. Martapura is on of the cities that are well known to produce gems from mud holes (more here). Then there’s the polishing and design that makes these rocks into a beautiful element of luxury, or make someone beautiful. I’m sure the ladies know what I’m talking about.
Ivory dates way back to the ancestors of the Flores people. It was a man’s offering to wed a woman, but the value has decreased as ivory are no longer common. Bones are remains of their kill and livestock. With it, local craftsmen have made art out of those remaining on the island and surely, they don’t do mediocre work. Detailed and intricate work is applied on every item, which eventually defines the artwork than the value of the ivory or bone itself.
What’s most luxurious about these handicrafts is the fact that it’s made with traditional knowledge. It has now become more and more priceless, since it isn’t very popular amongst the next generation who prefer to be doctors and accountants (which isn’t a bad thing, just a matter preference). However, its luxurious value will always live because its disappearance will lead to another expensive set of items to be called antiques 🙂
By this day, I knew more of my bigger traveling family, which are drivers, winners of the Terios 7 Wonder blogging competition, and a few reporters from automotive media; some are pretty senior. It’s interesting to travel with this type of journalists. I’ve learned that these guys are people that do a lot of tours (long distance car-testing trips) and are used to living on the road. They’re not people who work from the desk; they’re out and about. Hence, they have a sense of humor that I can relate to. I seldom laugh my head off listening to them communicate on the handy talkie.
“When the chicken crossed the road, why didn’t it look both ways? Because his eyes are on the side of its head.” This is an example of the bad jokes that I had to deal with a long the road. It’s so bad, it’s funny.
Honestly, the trip is getting a bit boring for me. I enjoy the lack of responsibility as a passenger and the awesome view, but this is the longest trip I’ve done not doing anything on the road but sit. Once I did something, I ended up denting one of the Terios cars! I admit to my mistake. Sorry, Daihatsu!
I was pretty surprised with some of the sight I saw on the road. I’ve never been on this route before and I lost my breath a few times. Semeru Mountain, being the highest on Java is no doubt over powering everything and interestingly macho, visible from all sorts of angle. Trenggalek turned out to have an awesome valley, different to anything I’ve seen so far on this trip as the vegetation was more brown and dry.
Ranu Pane was our end destination this time. We arrived during the night and couldn’t see anything aside to our tents that were located beside a lake. We had the chance to have dinner at the local assembly room, which is a small common house called ‘Pawon’, which means ‘kitchen’ in Javanese. A stove is placed in the middle of the room for minor cooking and to heat up the room. In rural Indonesia, communal life is the way to go. We were lucky to enjoy this intimate place as we know that not everyone can.
We sat down around to listen to the story the locals, told by Pak Lutfi, a lecturer from Malang. Unfortunately, there are a few sad stories behind Semeru Mountain. Lately, the mountain has gained more popularity, which causes more trash and has become a problem. Apparently, many hikers separate their love of nature to just hike and not take their trash down. Of course there are other problems in this village such as the lack of water, but the waste problem is an impact from outsiders. It’s something that we all should be aware about when visiting Ranu Pane, or any destination for that matter. I guess this was the motive for providing wastebaskets made of used tires to the locals. Pretty cool!
We camped on the side of Ranu Pane lake with tents that were already prepared. We couldn’t see where we were as we arrived at night; only knowing that we were beside the lake. Sleeping was both good and bad. Good because I could really fall into deep slumber, and bad because it was freakin freezing and the air was thin during the night. I woke up every time I had to change my position. In between these deep sleeps, I was tortured trying to inhale as much air that I can. But, it was a refreshing feeling. It’s been a while since I’ve woken up on a mountain. I do miss that crisp chill and the foggy breath in the morning. As cold and hard as that night was, I’m not going to say never to mountains.
Ranu Pane is beautiful and obviously a paradise, although not as hidden to those that love to hike. It’s a small lake in the middle of a small village and plantation. It looks similar to Dieng, but a lot more compact as some of the valleys are tight. The extra oomph to everything is the sight of Semeru Mountain stretching to the sky in the distance. It is truly majestic. Although I still might not have that urge to climb Semeru, I’ve changed my mind for Ranu Kumbolo, the next lake to Semeru after a 6-hours of relaxing walk. Now I’ve reconsidered reaching just Ranu Kumbolo, and that is a part of Semeru.
The really great dinner that night deserves a shout out, as it was part of a culinary paradise. Cooked by the locals, we had what was considered a feast. Our menu was as simple as grilled chicken, cauliflower stem (which is really good by the way) and clear soup. Although simple, it was really really delicious, and I have 23 other people that can testify. The most adored item on the menu was the chili paste, which was uber hot and can double function as a laxative. It’s that deadly. It has now held a special place for every member of the road trip! *if you know what I mean*
*This post is in accordance to the Terios 7 Wonders trip but the opinions are my own
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Sharing is a concept embedded in the Indonesian culture since forever, as many cultures in the world. So, it’s not something new. From sharing the daily paper at the town center to sharing wealth through a 7 days wedding ceremony, all are based with the concept of sharing. Now, Comma Indonesia has taken it up a notch in the modern world on a lot of different levels. They just might be pioneers in the business of co-working space in Jakarta; the kind of place that could be really important to (especially) freelancers.
Indohoy doesn’t have an office just yet (let’s pray that we do one day), so on a so-called ‘freelance’ base for Indohoy, we decided to finish up a few things at Comma Indonesia.
*Sniff. The smell of productivity! *long inhale*
With working people around us, we tend to be more productive. One of the toughest challanges as a freelancer is having that productive ambiance. Determining your work hours is not an everlasting euphoria. There are those days *standing in a dark corner. As a blogger, a productive smelling room is uber important, along with an impeccable Internet connection. Because, of course, we can upload and access youtube for entertainment inspiration. That’s always very helpful.
Comma Indonesia already has a few regulars. On a few occasions I’ve met Ruby of the annoyingly good www.wanderbites.com, bumped into the Greeneration Indonesia team, and attended some travel related events such as the #Wegohangout and #Kelasjelajah held by Wego Indonesia. So, their network works pretty nicely with us. With so many free minds running around in one common space, there are a lot of potential of collaboration happening in the air. Who knows what happens when you talk to people with ideas? Magic could be in the air.
#Kelasjelajah with Windy Ariestanty
With people sharing tables, drinking water and toilets, collaboration is just a hello away.
Now days, freelancers mostly work at home or in a cafe, for the sake of Wi-Fi and the sense that other people exist in this world. However, sometimes cafes or restaurants just don’t cut it. You spend way too much money for food, distracted by cute guys and new fashion trends walking around. If it’s cheap, it’s usually mediocre to bad Internet connection. So why bother? Then there are the stares of waiters hoping you’ll tip a lot because you’ve hogged a table for so long and reduced their chance to get more tips from more customers. If not, you feel like it.
Comma Indonesia is an open work space (especially) for freelancers, which provides the 3 main things a freelancer needs: desks, electricity, and Internet connection. Power outlets are spread around the common space, ready for a ridiculous amount of gadgets. The Internet connection is stable. The room is well lit with sunlight. An interesting point for us is the different kinds of table that are pretty cute from the glass tables (which you can scribble with a white board marker), tall bar tables with stools, and ping pong tables just in case sombody gets bored. Yes, a toilet is also available, by the way, along with the luxury of a cool AC. No excuses, hey?!
There is a pantry in the corner, which can cater to your kitchen utensil necessities. A rain dance wouldn’t be necessary because there is a free flow dispenser for hot, cold, and room temperature water. Awesome! Personally, the best thing about this pantry is that it has one of those expensive coffee machines, complete with its barista for your caffeine calls. Perfecto! (You’d have to pay for these coffee though.)
As a sucker for free food, I’m sold with Comma’s idea of co-eating, where people can share their excessive food to all the attendees. On numerous occasions, the pantry table has become a pot of gold for the hungry as well as a great place to introduce new food products. It’s kinda like a daily open potluck working to my advantage, muehehe… . Actually, it seemed like it looked more advantageous for Ajeng of Backpacker Notes as she hogged most of the sweet banana chips, when we were working there for the Baronda Maluku project. Free cupcakes, wasabi nuts and chips were da’bomb during work.
If you’re looking for other options of food, fear not! There are a lot of restaurants within the vicinity to choose from. Comma can also provide names and companies that can do delivery services and you can chow down your grub while working hard making a business plan. Sounds promising!
To work at Comma Indonesia, you’d have to pay IDR 50,000 / person / 2 hours or IDR 200,000 / person / day, which includes free mineral water, instant coffee and tea. For more information and bookings you can drop them a visit to www.comma-indonesia.co.
If sharing is caring, than this place cares a lot!
It’s easy to spend 6 hours working here (easier than in my day job office), especially when you’re doing something you love. Time flies when you’re having fun. And we haven’t even got started on the pingpong table and the WII. Next time, maybe.
3rd Floor, One Wolter Place
Jl. WolterMonginsidi 63B
KebayoranBaru – Jakarta Selatan
T: +62 21 725 4742
F: +62 21 725 4743
If there is one thing that I was looking forward to do in Surabaya, it would be meeting up with the Hifatlobrain-ers. Www.Hifatlobrain.net blog is one of my favorite Indonesian travel blogs since it has a lot of great stories about venturing the country. I heart their photos and I snuggle to their warm words from the road. We had already met Ayos Purwoaji, one of the front men, a few years ago at the Wego Indonesia party when they launched ‘Vaastu’. I was looking forward to meet up with him on his territory.
During our four day stay in Surabaya last year, we were accompanied by Ayos himself, Lukman Simbah, Werdha, and Ruli the Great. Why is he great? Well, he claims to be filthy rich and he’s a bit chubby. It takes a great man to claim that and owning it. They took us to some of the unseen places of Surabaya, places that I wouldn’t wonder on my own. That’s what the wrong kind of friends are for, right?
They seductively promised an Illuminati tour which sounds pretty glamorously mysterious. But knowing they were lobrainers, we ended up visiting not one but two graveyards. One graveyard was closed because we got there too late – blame it on Ayos for oversleeping – and the other had prostitution activities. Mysterious indeed *lift eyebrows*. One of these graveyards were the Evereld Kembang Kuning. For some wacky reason, these lobrainers like the smell of the dead. However, we were left educated. The Art Deco cemetery was interesting with all its intriguing bits and pieces. I also thank them for taking me to see another side of society. In a country with such a dense population and poverty very much amongst us, the cemetery is the place where you can get cheap sex without any lights or eavesdropping walls. Who could tell who’s getting some in the creepy dark? But seriously, what is it with Hifatlobrain and cemeteries?
Hifatlobrain also have a unique place to chat. They could have brought me to some antique or hype cafe in the city, and yet they brought me to … a water gate. Like, whaaat?! Admittedly, it was awesome! Such a different ambiance in the city. Gushing water, the sight of a high rise with a ridiculous LCD display on top, and a hint of river stench which I can’t say was entirely clean. So urban! Loved it!
Lukman Simbah, the first brother of the bunch, accompanied us to Surabaya’s hole in the wall: the sidewalk disco. It’s nothing less than its name. It’s on a sidewalk, and it’s a disco with turntable and all. It rocked \m/!!!
And no, they’re not tour guides. Hifatlobrain is a blogging bunch but they have a special niche that can’t accommodate every wondering tourist in town. If you have some interest of the local Indonesian culture or the so-called authentic travel journey, then you’re in their alley.
What most Indonesians probably don’t know is that the Hifatlobrain guys are –as they would say it- ‘pekok’, which is a nice blend of beyond stupid and funny. Personally, I think it’s their main asset compared to their serious image that they have successfully portrayed. We had tons of laughs! Amongst that laughter was our inauguration being a lobrainer. I walked across the narrow bars of the the water gate to then walk parts of ‘pataya’ street alone. Vira had to ‘Move Like Jagger’ house music style at the sidewalk disco.
We have also inaugurated them as HOT, a name we bestow upon Indohoy’s blind worshipers. How can they not worship us? We went through their inaugurations with little hesitations and lived to tell as official Lobrainers, blind hifatlobrain groupies. How are we not cool after that? We’re proud to say, we challenged them at their own game and hopefully colored their lives as much they have ours. We love you guys!
Here are our continuing project with them. It was both an honour and joy to work with them.
Just when you think that life on an isolated island would be… well isolated, ‘Kepulauan Seribu’, DKI Jakarta redefines it. This is a real house that is built in the middle of a sand bar. When you need somewhere to read a book or take naps, I guess this is the ultimate getaway. Not even a coconut tree can keep you company. Wouldn’t you agree?
Oh how we love our traditional food! For those traveling anywhere in Indonesia –or the world for that matter – the local food is another channel to understand the native culture upon your travels. Food completes the journey of your senses where your taste buds also does a little adventure on its own.
Being a nation of spices, Indonesian dishes are a bang in the mouth, so rich in taste. The Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy (MoTCE) has just determined (only) 30 iconic Indonesian traditional food. We’ll link you up with the list soon enough. The prima donna is this! The Tumpeng consists of yellow rice, tons of side dishes and condiments for a small party. While cakes are usually the symbol of celebration, in Indonesia, mainly due to the high influence of Javanese around the country, Tumpeng is our traditional celebratory symbol. Oh just posting this gives me the wanting to nom nom!