Thursday, June 18, 2009

Ada Apa Dengan Jakarta


The trip to Jakarta was a very short one, and one that was without much plan, as I only decided to go 2 days before going. Rizal told me about his trip to Jakarta earlier, but I didnt really put much thought about it, since he said he was only going for a day. Anyway, on friday morning when he emailed me his jakarta trip details I then quickly checked the flights, and walla.. the flight is just RM351 return, and departure / arrival time is just within 15mins of Rizal's flight. The rest is history and on monday I first step foot on Jakarta soil.

Here is what I usually do before I go on any trips - I usually googled the place, and look at various travel sites to find out more about the local attraction, which usually provided more than enough information for me to chart my routes. Unfortunately for Jakarta, information on the tourist attraction is scarce, and I didnt really learn much before I go, except checking all the important things such as Power voltage and Plug type, currencies, weather conditions, Local attractions and best mode of transportation to go around.

Arrived Jakarta at 6.15 pm. I love the layout of Jakarta airport, it is very cosy and homely. Unfortunately I didnt snap any photos cos it was getting dark, and I was rushing in case Rizal customs process is faster. However, here are some beautiful shots taken by others of the airport, just to show you how beautiful it is.

Once reunited with Rizal at MAS's baggage carousel, we walked out to the arrival hall where our ride was already waiting. By then it was nearly 7, and I was surprised to see that it was already so dark outside. Our hotel is in the business district area, which is downtown, and it took us roughly around 45mins to arrive to the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

Once we have checked in the hotel and freshen up, we walked to Plaza Semanggi which is just about 200 metres away. The restaurant we went to was at 6th floor, and it was on an open space area, so the ambiance and view from there is quite nice. I was pleasantly surprised to also find a maybank branch in Plaza Semanggi.

After dinner, we just went back to the hotel as Rizal and his colleague had some work to do. Back at the hotel, I also asked them about their tour excursions. There are a few options, and in the end I decided to just charter a car with a driver to take me around. A whole day 9am-9pm costs Rp650 000.


At around 9 am my chartered car was already there to take me around. I have marked the locations that I wanted to go the night before, and showed it to Pak Abas the driver. He recommended that we first go to the Monument Nasional (or popularly known as Monas). Jakarta city has this 3in1 rule, where during peak hours, only cars with more than 3 passengers could travel on the major roads. Since there were just me and Pak Abas on the car, we had to take the jalan belakang to get to Monas, which gave me pretty good sight of the city's day to day life.

At Monas, Pak Abas kindly walked me to the entrance of the building (Monas is surrounded by a small park, so there is a bit of walking to reach the monument building. There is a ride as well, so if you dont like walking, not too worry. Anyway, to get to the base of the monument you will need to walk through this tunnel, till you reach the ticketing office. The cost to enter Monas and to go up was Rp8000, insurance included. At the base of the monument is some kind of museum with history of Monas, Indonesia and its progresses. Monas is a memorial dedicated to Indonesian fighters during the independence revolution in 1945. What's special about this monument is that at the peak there is a torchlike structure covered by 35kg of gold. I was hoping the capture that, but unfortunately the weather was kinda grey and not much sun to highlight the gold. I didnt spend much time inside the museum area, just walk around a bit and then decided to go up the tower instead. To my disappointment, at the platform where you take the ride to the top, the crowd was already building and the queue is long. I think it must be some kind of school holiday that day, cos it was full of school rombongan. I queued behind a large group, but after 40 mins i decided it was not worth the wait, cos there are tonnes of kiddos in front of me, and the lift to go up could only take 11 at one go.

From Jakarta'09

By the time we left Monas it was nearly noon, so no problems on the road. After Monas Pak Abas took me to the Nasional Museum. The entrance to Nasional Museum was quite cheap just Rp2500 per person. The place wasnt really packed like Monas, but then again, there was nothing much interesting there. I wanted to take the photo of the museum building which has those beautiful large white pillars, but by then it has started to rain so we just left after paying the Rp4000 parking fees (pretty steep for a short period).
From Jakarta'09

From Nasional Museum we headed towards Jakarta Old Town which is locally known as Kota Tua Jakarta. On the way, we passed by Jakarta's China Town. What is interesting at Jakarta China town is that unlike other Chinatowns I have visited in other cities, Jakarta Chinatown was full of locals rather than those of Chinese descendents. Apart from the tanglung thingy, there is little to indicate that it is the Chinatown - as the place looked very much like any other part of the town; which is quite unique to me, cos usually Chinatowns in other cities looks and feels very Orient.
From Jakarta'09

While the Chinatown was nothing to shout about, my next destination, which is Jakarta Old Town, is whole other story. I absolutely love the old buildings there. Pak Abas took me to some kind of Square, which is surrounded by few interesting buildings including the Fatahillah Museum, the Fine Art & Ceramic museum, Batavia cafe and Puppet Museum. The first building I entered was the Fatahillah museum which is actually the old city hall in the 18th century. Fees to enter is Rp2000, and the building is a two storey housing antique furnitures dating back from old days. At the backyard of the building is another single storey building, looks like an old school but I am not sure what it was cos I didnt go in there. Enjoy photos I took around the square below, and if you do go to Jakarta, I highly recommend you to visit this place.
From Jakarta'09
From Jakarta'09

From Jakarta'09

After that I went to Kelapa Sunda, where it all begins in Jakarta. Many many years ago, Kelapa Sunda was the heart of the city as it was the one of the port for major shipping companies. The Dutch Colonisation had digged a canal as they did in Holland and use it as a harbor. Today, Kelapa Sunda remains as a port, where large wooden ships are seen docking along the canal, either releasing or loading their cargo. These days most ships carries only beras, cements, teaks and stuff like that to and fro from Jakarta to other parts of Indonesia like Kalimantan, Sulawesi or Java seas. Kelapa Sunda is located not too far from the Old Town, entry fee is Rp2500 per vehicle. I kinda like and would recommend a visit to this place as well, as you will see and experience some unique activities you dont see everyday, especially the lines of ships docking in various colors and designs.
From Jakarta'09

After Kepala Sunda, I headed towards Ancol. Of all the places I have gone to so far, I think Ancol is the most modern, vibrant and commercial looking. Entrance to enter this place is quite expensive too. You will need to pay Rp12000 for the car, and Rp12000 per person. All in all I had to pay Rp36000 - mind you this is only the entrance fee to enter the area. To enter respective amusement parks there are other fees.
From Jakarta'09

Ancol is this big developed area, it has Fantasy world, Police Academy shows, Dolphin watchings, SeaWorld (underwater world), the beach complete with cable car ride, hotel, restaurant etc. If you are going with kids or just with bunch of friends looking to have fun time, this place is the place to go. Though I dont quite recommend the beach, the water was just grey and don't look too appealing to me. I think for beaches, you are better off going to other fantastic beaches Indonesia has to offer such as Bali etc.
From Jakarta'09

From Jakarta'09

After Ancol, it is then... shopping time. I purposely leave the shopping as the last stop, cos I was worried that I would not have the time nor the money to spend if I had gone there first. Anyway, as I didnt actually research much on the places to shop, I dont really have any preferences or specific place to go. Malinie suggested Tanah Abang, however Pak Abas did not recommend it as he feels that it is not safe for me to walk alone since there are many pick pockets cases, plus the items there are mainly sold as wholesale. He took me to Mangga Dua instead, which is not too far from Ancol. By that time, it was already nearly 3 pm, and traffic had started to build up. Though the distance is quite near, it took quite awhile to arrive. By the time Pak Abas dropped me at Mangga Dua's lobby, it was already 4pm. I wanted to be back at the hotel by 6. So that left me around just an hour to shop. Mangga Dua apparently is more popular for its fake goods (as I found out after I came back to KL). I am not into fake goods, so I didnt find the place too interesting. I was expecting embroideries, telekong and such, but there's not much there. So it was quite a disapppointment for me and definitely not some place that I would visit again. I didnt buy much, just a few tudungs and batik shirts for close family members back home. I didnt exactly know the prices of the kind of tudungs I bought, but after I came back and compare prices here, I think it is fairly cheap and good bargain. One thing that I wanted to buy was a telekong for myself, but after buying stuff for others I was short of cash so maybe some other place, some other time.

Back at the hotel, Rizal wanted to take us to this place he went before with his Jakarta colleagues for dinner. He didnt know the name of this place so we had to wait for his friend to tell us the name of the place - which is actually Kemang area , south of Jakarta. We took a cab to Grand Kemang hotel, which is within walking distance the dining place. This Balinese looking makan place indeed is a nice place.
Menu is in a wooden thingy, and even fork and spoon is served in a matching type of accesories.
From Jakarta'09

This makan place overlook a small taman, where this taman is srrounded by small shops selling all sorts of things such as souviner stuff and chocolates. Food there is reasonable, priced between Rp20000 to Rp 40000 per dish. After dinner we walked back to the Grand Kemang Hotel, and we took the opportunity to go inside. This hotel is very modern looking and it reminds me of the hotels I stayed at in Prague and Paris. You can check it out HERE

Our flight later that evening is at 6, so that leaves me a bit of time to explore Plaza Semanggi in the morning. Nothing much in Semanggi Plaza, just like any other mall here. Definitely not to the level of Pavillion or KLCC, maybe just at par with Summit or the Mall. Went around a bit, comparing prices here and there which proved to be fruitless cos the prices are very much the same, if not slightly higher or lower. One item that I thought was cheap was local CD, which was priced about Rp45000 (roughly RM13). I didnt buy any though, cos I dont quite know most of the artists name and songs which is quite a bummer, cos I quite enjoy listening to Indonesian songs.

We have decided to leave for the airport around 3pm, just in case of traffic jam, or locally called 'mancit'. True enough, the traffic going to the airport was indeed jammed at some areas, but luckily we still arrive in decent time. At the airport, checking in was excruciatingly slow (at least for KLM counter). Fortunately I purchased online tickets and there are special counters for it. Otherwise I think I would have to wait an hour or so? .

My flight was quite full, and becos I was quite frustated that it took too long to reach my turn when I was checking in, I forgot to ask for better seats. So... my flight going back to KL was not a very pleasant one, cos I had to sit in the middle and the food wasnt really to my liking. Taking off took quite awhile, i think we had to wait nearly 30 mins before finally took off.
From Jakarta'09

All in all, the Jakarta trip was a pleasant short break for me, and most importantly was well within my budget. :))

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Bagan Lalang


I have been wanting to go to Bagan Lalang (also commercially known as Sepang Goldcoast) ever since I saw the road signs on my way going to Seremban from KLIA. I have also googled once or twice , and each time it returns with links for photos of the sunset there.

So today, I managed to book Rizal's time to take the road trip with me there.

We started at around 5.30pm from KL, taking the KL-Putrajaya highway. I didnt exactly know the direction to go there, and hoping to rely on the roadsigns. Lucky for us, there were enough signs to lead the way, and it was quite easy to find. All you need to do is keep a look out for the signs to Sepang Goldcoast or Hotel Seri Malaysia. However, for the benefit of others I am going to describe briefly how to get there.
-From wherever you are (KL, Subang, Kajang, etc) just take the route towards LCCT terminal. Just before you reach the Sepang F1 circuit, take the left turn (there are signs there for Sepang Goldcoast).
- After driving for about 2 minutes, you will reach a junction. Take a left.
- You will then be on the normal trunk road (no longer a dual carriageways) for about 5 mins (about 5-6 km), before reaching Sepang town.
- At the Sepang town, you will reach a T-junction, take a right, and just go on following the main road. From there it would be another 15km to reach the coast.
- Along the way you should see dragon fruit stalls, as there are quite a number of dragon fruit farms there. After about 10kms, you will reach another small town called Sg Pelik. If you need any necessities you can grab it here as this is the last town you'll see before reaching Bagan Lalang
- From Sg Pelik, its another 5 kms or so, and you'll reach the turning to Bagan Lalang after about 3 km
- The turning is at a housing area, I believe its called Pantai Sepang Putra, and from there its another 2-3 kms on a small road till you reach the Bagan Lalang beach.

Overall I think you should estimate the journey to take around an hour from KL (this is based on no traffic jams). So if you want to catch sunset like me, start as early as 5pm, so that you'll have enough time to setup your equipments.

Now that the directions and estimates of time to take for the journey is out of the way, lets see what you can find at Bagan Lalang or Sepang Goldcoast.

I first thought that this Bagan Lalang is one sleepy fishing village based on the photos that I have seen posted by others on web. So imagine my surprise when I reached there, the place was abuzz with activities and so full of people! There are like a whole area of those quick setup stalls selling all sorts of things, the traffic was bumper to bumper, and on the beachside, there are lines and lines of tents, and there are people everywhere! Everything is there, except the fishing boats and sleepy little village I was expecting.

I wasn't really disappointed with what I saw, but it has thrown my plan off a little bit cos I thought I would have the whole beach to myself. However, it didnt really stop me from taking some shots.

Overall I am quite happy for the results, though next time I would concentrate more during the few mins before sun goes down.Posted by Picasa

Click HERE to see the rest of album

Monday, June 01, 2009

Quick Guide on buying TV


Buying TV is not an activity that you do everyday. Therefore when buying one, you will need to find one that suits your need. I am no expert in this, but after a few trips to the various electrical stores, I learned a thing or two.

So here I am sharing what to consider when buying a new tv.. (an LCD one)

1. Size does matter - or at least matter in relevance to the space you have. The clarity of picture will depreciate the closer you get. Therefore if you have a small room, its best not to buy beyond 32", as you will ended up with unclear images. Basic rule of thumb, for a 32" TV, your viewing distance should be around

2. To HD or not to HD? It depends on what source you are gonna plug to your tv. If you are mostly gonna watch astro on the telly, then having HD is not worth the extra $$$, as our Astro does not support HD. Similarly, if you have a simple DVD player that does not support HD, then there is no point in having a Full-HD tv as you are not going to enjoy the crispy sharp images HD is supposed to relay. You are only going to get that sharp images when you connect using the HD port, and probably use blue-ray type of discs.

3. Ports - You would want to find out what kind of ports that is available on the telly. At the very least, you should be looking at one that has minimum 2 video-in ports, probably S video in and HD (for your future investments, cos HD type of equipment is still quite rare here). Most of the times you will be connecting you DVD player and astro. If you have a PS-2 then its probably wise to find telly that has more than 2 video in. Accesibility wise for these ports, for me its not really a big issue, as due to its slim size, its much much easier to reach compared to those ol CRT tvs

4. Sound of music - I am quite particular when it comes to the sound that comes from the telly. Therefore, I made sure that the TV sound is good. This is often overlooked, as most people would focus on the image displayed, and most shops would only show images, and no sound. At best, you should find one that comes with surround sound and has few preselected sound such as movie, music, etc

5. Other litle things to look for and consider are how easy to navigate the menus, with or without the remote.

6. One last factor that should also be on your list is durability. Know where the parts of your telly came from. Generally tvs that are manufactured in Japan is most desirable, whilst manufacturers coming from Taiwan or China should be avoided.