Finally! This is my first post since I got back from my Southeast Asia Trip. All the experiences, new things, reflections are running and bubbling in my head all the time and stay in my heart forever. The trip has been my home. I even feel homesick after I finished my trip. What a strange feeling, I feel homesick when I'm home. I just realized that traveling is the thing that keeps me sane.
A lot of requests from my friends to write about my trip itinerary or share the story. But really, I don't know where to begin. I have a myriad of things to say, to tell, to write, even to think about the stories.The same thing happened when I met my friends in Indonesia. I imagined that there would be gobs of stories to share about my trip. In fact, when we met, I lost my words. I just couldn't tell the whole experience in a short one time gathering. Actually I prefer to share the experience directly in person, but I think it's not really convenient to do that, since it's gonna take days for the storytelling, so I'm gonna share it here in my blog. I'll share the experience and information, and if there's something you need to know beside the things I mention here please just let me know.
About my itinerary, before I went for my trip, I've made the whole itinerary and booked some accommodations also. As usual, I just book for the first night because it's always nice to have a destination when I arrive in a new place, especially when the day is too early or too late. Still, many things happen and plans change frequently. I cancelled most of my booking because of some reasons; From being mugged, met new travel partners, uncomfortable room that I've booked, hosted by locals, etc.
So, here is my revised itinerary for #DanSeA2015 trip:
(Date format in dd/mm/yy)
-----05/03/15- 06/03/15 : Jakarta - Padang - Bukittinggi
First day of my trip. I took DAMRI bus (Rp 75,000) from Botani Square DAMRI bus terminal in Bogor to Soekarno Hatta Airport in Jakarta. My flight from Jakarta (CGK) to Padang (PDG) was Rp 642,000 excl. Rp 40,000 airport tax with Lion Air. The flight took 1 hr 45 min. I went to AWR Travel near the airport, which is only 5 min ride, to go to Bukittinggi town. To reach AWR Travel office, just go to the taxi queue and ask for AWR office. You don't have to pay the taxi because the AWR officer will pay for it. We can book the travel 7 days in advance. The ride was around 2.5 hrs from AWR Office to downtown Bukittinggi and it cost Rp 65,000. It was a nice ride, a bit winding, but the good thing is it was on time. One thing that made me uneasy was the AWR officer called my phone number, which I used to write for the registration, and asked me to meet him in Bukittinggi. He said he would go to Bukittinggi and meet me. That's scary!
I arrived in the afternoon, decided to stay at Hello Guesthouse for Rp 120,000/ night and had a pleasant single bed private room with private bathroom. They provided hot water shower that was very convenient because the weather in Bukittinggi was cooler than I expected. The price included light breakfast with free-flow coffee and tea, and the location was premium, very near to the town's main attractions like zoo, Jam Gadang, traditional market, and some authentic culinary restaurants. You can walk not more than 5 minutes to the Family Benteng Restaurant that was famous for its 'Ayam Pop', a kind of chicken dish with coconut curry paste. The price was Rp 38,000 for 2 pcs of chicken+ rice+ vegetable. Anyway, Hello Guesthouse has a dorm room for cheaper price, but somehow it didn't let Indonesian citizen to stay at its dorm room.
One special thing during my stay in Bukittinggi was my incidental meeting with a kindhearted lady named Bu Mimi who worked at the zoo and had cute Siamang (black primate species) named Botty. I ended up spending 5 days in Bukittinggi with her and it was one of my best traveling experience. We shared stories, visited awesome places around Bukittinggi, saw beautiful sceneries, had barbeque night, tasted delicious foods, and met her friendly friends.
Bukittinggi was not a big town, so it was pretty easy for me to go everywhere on foot. I visited Benteng Fort de Kock and Zoo (Rp 10,000), Rumah Kelahiran Bung Hatta, Indonesia's first vice president's House (entrance fee was voluntary donation), Goa Jepang/ Japanese Cave, Taman Panorama (Rp 5,000), SianokValley in one day.
|Curiosity @ Benteng Fort de Kock|
|Rumah Kelahiran Bung Hatta|
|Ngarai Sianok / Sianok Valley|
With New Friends @ Ngarai Sianok/ Sianok Valley View
|Bu Mimi & Friend|
Anyway, if you have a plan to visit Bukittinggi, you really should go to Taruko Cafe Resto, Jalan Raya Lembah Maninjau. It was perfect! The foods, the great chill ambience, I love everything about it!
|With Botty @ Taruko Cafe Resto|
-----07/03/15- 09/03/15: Bukittinggi
I hired a guide from Lite n Easy Travel Agent for a one-day tour going to places a little further from Bukittinggi. I was upset with my guide because he insisted to take me to Rafflesia Kopi Luwak in Palupuh, 10 km from Bukittinggi. I'm not a coffee lover. I don't drink coffee because it makes my heart beats faster and gives me uncomfortable stomach. I don't like it, although I adore the smell. Then the lady explained about the process of making an organic coffee luwak. She said it can be a medicine to heal my stomach problem. Finally, I tried two bitter cups of their organic kopi luwak. For me as a person who doesn't drink coffee, Kopi Luwak was overrated. But the good thing was I felt nothing wrong with my stomach or heartbeat! What a good coffee indeed!
We visited Istana Pagaruyung / Pagaruyung Palace (Rp 7,000),which was the second replica because the previous palace was burnt twice, and arrived late at Harau Valley (Rp 5,000). It was a shame because I barely saw the magnificent scenery at Harau Valley. There was a homestay place named Abdi Homestay that looked incredibly nice! should stay there for my next visit!
On the next days, Bu Mimi took me to Koto Gadang, a small laid back area that has lovely colonial houses and beautiful enormous paddy fields. She also took me to watch Minangkabau traditional dance performance at Medan nan Balinduang which was very amusing! At night, we were out together with Bu Mimi's friends at Martabak Kaka and had fun chit chats. I love Bukittinggi already! Anyway, if you have time, I recommend to have a visit to Puncak Lawang Park. The view from the hill above the clouds is epic!
-----10/03/15 : Bukittinggi - Padang
Picked up by AWR Travel at Hello Guesthouse at around 09.30 AM and then waited at AWR Office in Bukittingi until 10.00 AM. The minibus cost Rp 40,000. I arrived at Simpang Singgalang in Padang around 12.15 PM and picked up by Andre, my couchsurfing host. We visited some beaches like Batu Kalang in Tarusan, and Pariaman. The road was very bumpy and unfortunately the water was not so clear.
Padang was super hot that day, I was glad that I extended my stay in Bukittinggi from 3 days to 5 days! I didn't see a lot of things in Padang, but I love the foods!
-----11/03/15: Padang - Banda Aceh
One thing that you should mentally prepared before considering to take Indonesian flight was the frantic of flight cancellations or reschedules. Two days before my flight, I was emailed by Lion Air about my cancelled flight. My flight from Padang to Banda Aceh should be at 11.10 with connecting flight at Kualanamu Airport, Medan at 15.00. Then, Lion Air changed my flight to Medan at 18.15, but it didn't change my flight from Medan to Banda Aceh. Silly! So after few calls, I had my flights both changed. They were : Padang to Medan at 15.00, and Medan to Banda Aceh at 20.30. The Padang (PDG)- Banda Aceh (BTJ) flight ticket by Lion Air was Rp 829,700 excl airport tax Rp 40,000.
I arrived in Banda Aceh around 10 PM and took taxi to Kila Homestay . The DAMRI bus operated only until 5PM, so I had to take taxi for Rp 105,000. Kila Homestay was Rp 100,000/room/night with fan and public bathroom. The room was clean and centrally located, although I didn't feel comfortable to walk around alone in Banda Aceh on foot.
-----12/03/15- 18/03/15 : Banda Aceh - Pulau Weh
I didn't travel solo in Banda Aceh and Pulau Weh (Weh Island) / Sabang, but I had an awesome epic trip with my new friends I found on couchsurfing. They were Chacha, Budi, Agung & Aol. I'm so thankful and more than blessed to have them as my travel partner!
Since I and Chacha arrived earlier in Banda Aceh, we had a time to visit Museum Tsunami Aceh and PLTD Apung before catching ferry to Pulau Weh from Ule Lheue port. Museum Tsunami Aceh is a museum as a reminder of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. I could feel the sadness, and chaos when the tsunami happened. I think it was one of the best museum in Indonesia. And the admission is free!
We thought that the ferry or fast boat schedule was at 2 PM. In fact, when we arrived there, the boat had just left in front of us! It was 11 o'clock in the morning. So we had to catch the 4PM boat, which meant we had to wait for 5 hrs at Ulee Lheue port. Oh my!
The ferry (person : Rp 25,000, motorbike Rp 30,000) took about 2 hrs to reach Balohan port in Pulau Weh, while fast boat will take about 45 min. We had to take the ferry because we brought 2 motorbikes which Budi & Agung's friends lent to us. The ferry was okay. It had plenty of space, far better compared to the horrendous boat from Jakarta (Muara Karang port) to Kepulauan Seribu!
We arrived at Balohan port in the afternoon and the sky turned to dark so fast. Balohan was still far from Iboih, our destination. Iboih area had bunch of things to offer for tourists, from pristine snorkeling spot to lines of rustic bungalows. We were so tempted to stay at O'Ong Bungalow in Iboih because there were a lot of good reviews about it on the internet. So, I, Chacha and Agung took public transport that looked like small minivan, from Balohan to Iboih for Rp 30,000 each. Budi and Aol rode the motorbike and brought our big backpacks to Iboih. The trip felt like hours with cramped space along with hilly and bumpy road. It lacked street lights. So dark that we could see a lot of stars! For me it was a fantabulous ride!
So finally we managed to find what the so-called 'legendary O'Ong' (we named it). It was hilarious night while staying at O'Ong! After negotiating so hard with the bungalow keeper on the dark path, we stayed for 1 night at 2 bungalows, in which the conditions were pretty far from our expectations. Because our group consisted of 2 women and 3 men, we were not allowed to stay at the same room together. It was part of the Syariah law, male and female room should be separated. I and Chacha were staying at the bigger bungalow which has private bathroom (Rp150,000) but it had no door and no lock for the main door (we were given a chain to lock it). Don't even ask for the quality of the bedding. The sheet was stained and the mosquito net had a lot of holes. We also had our own private terrace that has direct view to the sea, which has no light and the wooden floor that was squeaking too much. Our bungalow was a lot better compared to the men's (Rp 75,000). The public bathroom was like nowhere without the surrounding light. Budi, Agung, and Aol spent night at I and Chacha's terrace. Indeed, it was a legendary experience! Luckily we were so tired and excited that we slept well that night with the ocean sound as lullaby.
Anyway, we stayed at Fina's Bungalow for the next 8 days. Same price (with bargaining, we could get Rp 150,000/ room/night shared with 5 people), but farther from the snorkeling spot, and the most important thing was decent clean room which has proper door and locks :P.
|Our Terrace @ Fina's Bungalow (Credits to : @a9un9hari)|
Seeing the quality that was offered, Pulau Weh was expensive. It was more than I expected, maybe because it was secluded. And there was no fix price, so bargain hard! Anyway, almost all foods were delectable. I never had any dreadful food in Weh! I bet it was because of the happy atmosphere. Every night was an awe-inspiring experience. The combination of curved sky that was fulfilled by stars and the sough ocean sound was priceless.
There were various things to see in Pulau Weh, spread far from each other. Much more convenient if you can drive motorbike to go around. I and Chacha rent 1 motorbike for both of us (Rp 100,000/motorbike/day). Chacha was surprisingly really impressive on driving the motorbike! We went swimming at Pria Laot Waterfall, saw alluring sunset from Aneuk Laot, enjoyed breeze at fancy Casanemo in Sumur Tiga, saw ocean panorama at Benteng Jepang, had culinary walk in Sabang town, and the famous KM 0 that was known as the Northernmost Point of Indonesia. In fact, the Northernmost Point of Indonesia is located in Pulau Rondo / Rondo Island. You have to rent private boat to reach the island, but still, the island was not open for public.
|Dania - Aol - Chacha - Agung - Budi (Credits to : @chandimimo)|
|KM 0 Walk (Credits to : @bukrie)|
|Jump Baby, Jump! (Credits to : @bukrie)|
|Pria Laot Waterfall (Credits to : @chandimimo)|
|BBQ in front of Teupin Layeu, Iboih (Credits to : @bukrie)|
Weh was also known for its exceptional diving sites. We thought that we should give our self a try! It had been years since my last dive and I was not so confident about it, I took a refresher course at Rubiah Tirta Diver (Rp 350,000) and got Rp 250,000/dive for my next dives. Did about 5 dives with Rubiah Tirta Diver and had a lot of fun! This dive operator is recommended! Beside that, I appreciated that Mr. Dodent, the owner's father was the pioneer who start a campaign to protect coral reef and fighting destructive fishing practices.
There were a lot of enthralling things to do in Iboih. The best snorkeling spot was in front of Yulia's Inn Restaurant. I was surprised that there were a horde of big fishes there and they were not afraid of human! Maybe because it was illegal to do the spearfishing around Iboih. Some people swam to Rubiah Island to do snorkeling. It looked far but they said it wasn't. I didn't try that though. Gapang beach, not far from Iboih, also has pristine beach with long wide white sand. There were a lot of big trees with nice shadows. Good place to have a picnic lunch!
I'll definitely go back to this lovely island again!
|Rubiah Island From Above (Credits to : @a9un9hari)|
|Iboih From Above (Credits to : @a9un9hari)|
|(Credits to : @a9un9hari)|
|Snorkeling @ Yulia's Inn (Credits to : @a9un9hari)|
-----19/03/15 : Pulau Weh - Banda Aceh
Finally, I had to leave Weh that day. Eight stupendous days with experiences that were beyond my expectations. Weh's sceneries, ambience, people makes it easily became everybody's second home. :)
We were picked up by Aol, Agung, Budi's friends from 'basecamp', a cool, down to earth, and friendly design community in Banda Aceh. I felt lucky to know them! I took a rest at the basecamp, had dinner at 'Mie Razali', that served the most scrumptious Aceh noodle I've ever tried, and took the night bus to Medan.
The Harapan Indah night bus from Banda Aceh to Binjai Terminal, Medan was Rp 170,000. The bus departure time on ticket was 09.15 PM, but we departed around 10.00 PM. The night bus was pretty satisfying with its spacious seats. It also provided blanket and pillow. There were two kinds of night bus to Medan. The 2-2 and 2-1 seats configuration. I took the 2-2 seats because it was cheaper. The 2-1 seats was Rp 250,000. Since I can sleep well everywhere, especially on moving things, I have no second thoughts to take the cheaper one! :p
|Harapan Indah Night Bus|
-----20/03/15 - 21/03/2015 : Medan
A new city to visit! Medan, here I come!
I'm glad that I had the trip in Sumatera Utara (North Sumatera) with my best friend Mei-Mei. The trip to Medan was our second trip together outside Java Island, after graduated from high school! (Don't ask my age!!) We had a great time together on our South Korea trip, I was so enthused about our trip!
Luckily, Mei-Mei also had to visit Medan for a seminar when I was in Medan. So we planned to do the trip together in Medan, Parapat, and Samosir to see Lake Toba for the next four days.
We stayed at Citi International Hotel on Jalan Palang Merah, Medan. It cost Rp 242,000/room/night, and it was the best we could get because I prefer accommodation near the city central so we can take a walk around. I've stayed at some nastier place, but I don't know why I had that bad feeling in that hotel. Our room was dirty with blood spots everywhere. It looked like some people smashed mosquitos on the wall that it left some disgusting stains. The lobby and corridor was dark and gloomy. I was glad that our room was the nearest one with the lobby, although it had some strange dried-fish smell. I think the kitchen's exhaust system was broken that time. I was glad I didn't stay there alone! X(
On the first day, we walked around Kesawan Area, had lunch at well-known vintage chinese restaurant named Tip Top (around Rp 50,000-100,000/ person for a decent food and drink), visited Tjong A Fie mansion ( entrance fee : Rp 35,000), enjoyed AC at shopping mall, visited Maimun Palace but it was already closed when we arrived there, took dinner at Sun Plaza (another shopping mall) because I was craving for fast food. Strangely, we couldn't find a lot of food stalls/ warung tenda during our visit in Medan. .
|Tjong A Fie Mansion|
' There on earth where I stand I hold the sky.
Success and glory consists not in what I have gotten but in what I have given,'
- Tjong A Fie-
Everything was getting much better on the second day. I visited Annai Velangkanni church, a catholic church in Indo-Mogul style, and we met Dewi, a friend that I knew from couchsurfing. We had lunch at Mi Aceh Titi Bobrok, saw the 'Penangkaran Buaya Asam Kumbang' crocodile farm (admission : Rp 6,000) , visited Rahmat Gallery (admission : Rp32,000), talked about our days and dreams while having snacks at Lekker Cafe, and ended our day with finger-licking seafood at Wajir.
|Dewi - Mei Mei - Dania @ Lekker|
Dewi was such a compassionate and thoughtful woman. She made our days in Medan lovely and suddenly Medan looked better than ever! hahaha.
Anyway, since I lost almost all my pictures during this trip, you can visit Dewi's blog about places we visited with more details at http://deuishiregaa.blog.com/2015/03/23/first-hosting/
-----22/03/15 - 24/03/2015 : Medan- Parapat - Samosir - Medan
I and Mei-Mei used Bagus Travel to go to Parapat, from Medan. It was Rp 80,000/ person, including pick up at our hotel. At first, we wanted to use Nice travel (Rp 85,000), but it was cancelled because there were only two of us for the departure that time. At first, I didn't trust Bagus travel because of its bad review on tripadvisor. But luckily, it wasn't that bad. The driver was kind, he played nice Bataknese songs (I was so tempted to buy the CD of that songs, but couldn't find any), and he didn't drive that fast. The driver smoked on the half way of the trip, but it wasn't really a problem because we wore mask. It took about 4 hours from Medan to Parapat. We arrived at the boat pier at 5 AM and waited for the boat to Tuk Tuk Carolina Cottage until 6 PM. The boat ride (Rp 15,000) from Parapat to the Cottage was 20-30minutes long.
Overall, the ride from Medan to Parapat was not bad. We went through Pematang Siantar town, and some of the sceneries were tremendous. We were passing through the endless tunnel of trees.
Hotel Carolina Tuk Tuk was pretty cheap. It was Rp 100,000/room/night with spacious room, balcony, and private bathroom. The hotel surroundings were beautiful too. The food price at the restaurant was around Rp30,000-50,000, and the drink price around Rp 15,000- 30,000.
We had a gloomy sky on our days on Samosir Island, the island on Danau Toba (Lake Toba). Luckily, we had enough sunshine during our 6km biking trip (rent bike Rp 30,000/day) to Tomok, a place to see the king's tomb and museum Batak. Tomok area looked more crowded than Tuk Tuk area, and strangely we saw 3 accidents on the road. The museum was not amusing, but we really enjoyed the bike ride. Chill breeze with green surroundings. Can't be more perfect than this! The roundway trip to Tomok only took less than half day, so we still had plenty of time to lay back at the cottage. We swam and sun bathed because the water was really too cold. And scary. haha. To be honest, I prefer to swim in the sea than on the lake. The best thing during the swim time was only the smell of dry wood and sunshine of the deck.
|Road To Tomok|
We took early dinner at Sekapur Sirih restaurant, near Carolina, to eat 'naniarsik', a fish and herbs dish cooked with traditional Bataknese way. It was tasty!
On our last day in Samosir, we were late for the 8AM ferry to Parapat. It was funny occasion though, because actually we saw the boat but we thought it was not our boat, so we still chill out and then got panic when we realized it was out boat! Because of that, we were left by our travel car. So we had to reschedule the trip to Berastagi with Nice Travel. Anyway, I believe that there's always a blessing in disguise. Because we were late for the boat, we realized that Mei-Mei just left her earphone in our room! Lucky!
Finally we took the 9AM car to Berastagi. But strangely, the Nice Taxi we booked was using the other travel agent 'Raja Tour'. We were kind of scammed because we had a deal and paid Rp 150,000 to Berastagi with the travel agent for a trip with stops at some tourist spots like Sipiso-Piso waterfall and a palace. The Officer even told it was including a coffee break. In fact, we were joined the other five people that were on the way to Sibolangit, half way from Berastagi to Medan, and they only paid for Rp 80,000. We only stopped at Sipiso-piso waterfall and the driver dropped us out of nowhere in Berastagi.
Berastagi looked like 'Puncak' in Bogor, but more crowded. After finished our lunch, we took a rusty minivan to continue our trip to Medan. It was raining and our luggage were all wet and we had to dry almost all of our clothes at our hotel. Our room looked like a mess with our clothes hanging and spreading everywhere all over the room. But I still enjoyed the trip. It was really so much fun, and I'm glad I had the trip with Mei-Mei. We could still laughed at our fool and silliness. That's the best thing when we did a trip together. :)
|Happy-Go-Lucky! (Credits to : @hanzelvint)|
We stayed one night at D'Prima Hotel in Medan. The room price was Rp 395,000/room/night. For me, it was worth it because the location was prime. We chose that hotel because it was on the same building with the train station to Kualanamu airport (Rp 100,000 /person / one way). It was really a good deal. A compact minimalist room with superb cleanliness and close to the city main attraction. I will recommend this hotel to everyone who need comfy room in the center of Medan.
Then, finally, it's time to leave Medan!
Well, my first impression about Medan : dirty, individual, and somehow I felt unsafe being there. I didn't like it. But then, I started to accept all of its flaws and enjoyed my days there. It's true when a friend of mine said 'A nice or awful travel experience depends on what kind of people you meet on the road'. I feel blessed that I met a lot of warm and benevolent people during my trip. I couldn't ask for more blessings during my trip in Sumatra. It was perfect. Thank you Universe!
Next : Cambodia