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Day 2, Marina Bay aka Garden by The Bay! Day 3, Marina Bay (again) aka Garden by *sigh* the bay. Why I went there for two days in a row? BECAUSE. I bought tickets one-way entry to Flower Dome / Cloud Forest BUT when I arrived there thinking I would see Poinsettia Wishes Christmas Light in the Flower Dome at night, IT. CLOSED. There wasn’t any information about the closure except in its own website. No email, nothing from the online travel agent, no banner or anything at all in the ticketing hall! I was curious why there wasn’t anyone entering the Flower Dome that time and asked the staff. I was truly shocked. And if you buy one-way ticket to Flower Dome/ Cloud Forest, you couldn’t enter one in different day. So I quickly ditched my plan and changed course to Plasa Singapore to shop instead. That was the story.

Anyway, I didn’t regret walking around Marina for two days. I went to Shoppe by The Bay, which was the biggest, and the most luxurious mall in Marina and Plasa Singapura. I got to enjoy the walk, and of course, TWG Christmas edition. I’ll review it once I got my Christmas gift Aeropress. Here you go! The beauty of Marina’s Singapore captured by Nikon camera!

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Marina Bay seen from Marina SHOPPE Mall, did you see the weird black stick in the middle of ocean? It’s SPECTRA, a projector.

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Marina Bay Sands luxurious hotel, floating ship

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Flower Dome and Cloud Forest as seen from dragonfly bridge. It’s nice spot to enjoy the wind.

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The giant Groove. There was preparation for Christmas decoration below, so I didn’t go there or climbed up there. At night, there would be light play like Christmas tree.

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pond of dragonfly eggs. My favorite scenery. Those eggs will light up red at night.

The rest of the pictures are under [READ MORE]

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So yeah! Here are pictures I’ve taken with my sis’s friend’s Nikon camera when I visited Singapore. Husein Sastranegara (BDO) is smol, Changi Airport is BIG. I arrived in new Terminal 4 and almost got lost if we didn’t have sis’ friend guiding us for first day.

After clearing immigration and documents, we ate our bento we bought from Indonesia (nasi goreng) and went straight to T2 where Jewel Changi is. And lo, we met Olaf! Changi hosted “FROZEN 2” decorations in all of its terminals… except T4. *exasperating sigh*

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Jewel Changi was really amazing. The waterfall was really big, and there was some kind of forest around it. I was awestruck by the sight not because of the beauty (it was beautiful), but… how could they maintain the lushness of the forest! Inside the building! It was amazing. I don’t think they can do something like this in my home country.

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The upper level of Jewel Changi (mall) is a Christmas theme park just like picture above. The article said that sometimes in random interval the “snow” will fall, mimicking White Christmas. There was a playground for children and glass iglo for photoshooting. Usually it’s free. But not this year. You need to pay. And I don’t want to pay.

But what else you can see around Changi? POKE CENTER, OF COURSE!

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I got a chance to visit Yogyakarta again last November with my coworkers. It was a weird vacation, to say the least, part of it was because we didn’t plan anything beforehand due to miscommunication. In the end we decided to go with the flow – it was a vacation, after all. Or so we thought.

We departed from Bandung by 8-hours-ride night train and arrived in Yogyakarta at around 3AM. Because we had the hotel room booked for three days including the day we arrived, we managed to rest our flattened butts immediately enough. For the first day, we decided to visit my friend’s aunt in Surakarta (Solo) and to Keraton Solo. Alas, we both forgot Keraton was closed in Fridays. At least, we managed to sightsee the city by rickshaws (they are expensive) and had nice sillaturahmi with my friends’ relatives.

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This was my first time in Solo. I always heard the city was amazing, many cultural festivals and “in a par with Yogyakarta” – only to be severely disappointed. There wasn’t anything worth seeing in Solo. The roads were small and the houses untidy; only near Government Office it felt fresher. Keraton Solo was really in a sorry shape. Since the museum was closed, I couldn’t say more, but the sultanate complex and its surrounding was in ruins. Abdi dalem (royal servants) houses looked abandoned and it was said they were sold to common people. The second keraton near Government Building was already flattened. It was totally a shame. I heard this sultanate didn’t have much power like Yogyakarta Sultanate, and that they had no more treasury to manage all the complex.

Surakartan also didn’t recommend their own city for tourists, which was real sad. The only thing we tourists could do was walking around in Kampung Batik, Wisata Batik, or going to Antique Market near Government Office. There were many things to see, from very old Majapahit coin found in the river, 1980s CRT television, a very old radio and gramaphone, and Dutch-East-Indies (VOC) emblems. The marketplace was big and well-done, but that was all. I couldn’t buy anything there since antiques were expensive.

Going back to Yogyakarta in the evening and rested our feet, we decided to go to Merapi and walk around Malioboro next morning.

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44664512667-cakaplah_xf7xs_22448Ritech EXPO was 2018’s biggest innovation and technology exhibition in Indonesia organized by Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education. Held in Riau Province, it was also part of Hakteknas celebration day (Hari Kebangkitan Teknologi Nasional or National Technology and Innovation Day). The exhibition was opened to public from 9th August to 12th August 2018 in Government Office, from 2PM to 8PM.

…Long story short, my research center was invited to open a booth in Ritech Expo and hey, my friend said, why wouldn’t we take this opportunity to relax and chill in Riau? Personally, I haven’t ever gone to any Indonesian province outside Java island, so this will be my first time leaving for Sumatra. We planned we would only be sightseeing in Pekanbaru and Siak city.

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Sultan Syarif Kasim II International Airport

There was only one Bandung-Pekanbaru direct flight per day and it was 11AM Citilink. We arrived at Sultan Syarif Kasim II International Airport approximately 1PM. I was quite surprised, the airport was modern and neat and tidy and super clean. After lunch at Melayu restaurant, we went straight to Dafam Hotel to drop our 53kg baggage.

Riau Province is divided by two areas: Riau Island and in Sumatra. Its people spoke Melayu (Malaysian language) and are Orang Melayu – perhaps – don’t really like being compared to Padang people. They may have similar traditional motives and architecture, but they don’t like spicy food, rather, their dish is similar to Sundanese in taste (a bit salty, sweet, and sour… they also have Kobokan!!). Riau is also famous for its Ikan Patin dish. The English name is… uh – heck, I don’t know. Google translator said it was catfish and wikipedia referred it as an endangered shark but I’m 9000% sure it is not.

Back to topic, in the first day, we wanted to experience dinner in the riverside of Siak River so off we went to Rumah Makan Tanah Longsor recommended by Hotel Manager. I was too excited about this first travel with everyone. Google map told us that we only had to walk for 21 minutes to that restaurant – it wasn’t that far so I suggested to go there on foot. Oh how I was so wrong.

It took us 1 hours walking there on foot, approximately 11,000 steps, and almost in complete darkness because there wasn’t any single streetlight there. The pretty and neat sidewalks were gone after we left Government Office area. The street food stalls took over the sidewalks and with regret I had to say it wasn’t different than Bandung’s messy streets. Even the motorbike drivers had no eyes.

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Pekanbaru at night

The disaster wasn’t only because of that. When we arrived at RM Tanah Longsor, it had been closed. The restaurant was closed at 4PM, that meant, the very hour the Hotel Manager told us about RM Tanah Longsor — Fff. Let me just write  about food instead.

RM HM Yunus is famous for its Ikan Patin Asam Manis and I can argue it is the best Ikan Patin dish I’ve ever eaten! The meat is fluff and its fat tastes great. It melts in your mouth, truly fabulous. Dendeng Lambok is my next favorite dish. “Lambok” meant “Lembek”, or simply “Soft and Wet”. Dendeng is usually cooked until it is hard and dry. But in Riau, the jerky is doused with coconut oil. The green chilli peppers aren’t spicy at all, it is sweet! By the way, the recipe is here. The Udang galah one? Yea, it’s super duper delicious. The size is comparable to lobster but the meat is as soft as shrimp.

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Bolu Kemojo from Riau

Traditional cookies are all about duren. This king of fruit is everywhere in Sumatra: dodol duren (durian rice cake), bolu kukus duren (durian steamed sponge cake), durian pancake, lengko duren… If you hate durian like me, you may want to search for another cookie. There are kue bangkit (sago cookie), kue satu, keripik nanas, kue kemojo, and various crackers made with odd ingredients (like dragon fruit cracker?, coffee cracker?, grape cracker?). Also, there are boxed rendang and sale (smoked catfish). Bolu kemojo original (not cheese or whatever) will remind you of traditional 80s pandan sponge cake. I highly recommend it, especially if you want to give it to your parents.

Below read more are photo and story in Siak.

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Lunar New Year pictures have been sitting in my phone since forever. Although it’s been really late, I think there’s no harm sharing all of them for readers. This year’s been rough year for Chinese descents in Indonesia. Pilkada (governor election) in Indonesian capital city Jakarta whose candidate is from double minority (Christian Chinese) had shook the nation like it never had before. To compare “Christian Chinese” in Indonesia to “Black Muslim” in US is a bit exaggeration since we were never been driven to the corner socially. But you might have understood the similarities between us. Discrimination is inevitable. Short-minded people bash everyone they meet in the street just because they are “different”. They often selfishly proclaim that “majority has power, we kindly allow you to do as your wish among us but you have to submit to us” – more so in social media. The strain has become so strong that I had ever experienced being yelled “Chinese bastard!” by a random woman in the street when I was walking down the sidewalk.

There are so many articles and news everywhere in the world covering about Indonesian intolerance about minority group these days, especially about how radicalism grew wide and bore fruit – even – among moderates. From the eye of majority, CNY is often viewed as Chinese-exclusive ritual. Only few people know that it is definitely not. As you can browse in the next pictures I will show you, there are so many native people from any religion flock around the lion/dragon dance stage to watch and enjoy the performance. Many performers and wushu trainees are native too. It’s not “exclusive” at all.

One of many reasons this huge discrimination exists is because people don’t want to befriend people who has different religious view/ ethnic group. They don’t want to learn and enjoy culture other than their own. Most of radicals make excuse that it is “prohibited to do so”. It also includes “choosing minority whose religion different from them” just because they are told in their book that it is haramm. They say, in country whose majority is X, one shall choose X and is prohibited to choose any other. It is literally translated as “we’d rather choose unjust and corrupt person whose religion the same as us than choosing clean and just person from other religion”. These minorities are criminalized just because they speak their mind about this inhuman concept of “justice”, promoting radicalism and eventually tearing apart a nation. But there also emerges few people from moderates who are fed up. They begin to speak their mind to help powering minority’s struggle… but alas, it only creates endless pointless arguments. And sadly, they never stop.

This year’s Lunar New Year didn’t seem to give off intolerance vibe from outside. However, there are, I believe, people who still think that we live in the same world and together we will be brothers and sisters. Let us hope the second round of governor election will end in peace for both sides.

Wijayakusuma flower (Epiphyllum Anguliger), which is Sanskrit word for “flower of victory” bloomed beautifully in my house’s frontyard this year. Perhaps there seems nothing special about it, but for me, Flower of Victory’s full bloom is something that I admire a lot.

I’ve written something about Wijayakusuma flower – dated back in February 2012 – I mentioned that this flower rarely blooms, only once a year during midnight before this year. Because of it’s awfully short, I often miss seeing it in full bloom like this. As for the reason why it blooms rarely, it may be due to the weather. But this year, when I thought the weather would be really bad for flowers (it got this weird warm yet humid air) it bloomed one by one – always every day! It stopped blooming after every single flowers had sprouted from the leaves. The flowers only stayed for less than 6 hours, from midnight to about 6-7AM in the morning the next day.

Wijayakusuma was brought from China to this land during Majapahit era, long before Portugal or Dutch invade Indonesia. Javanese people believe that “people who see this flower blooms, will get blessing”. It may be due to the flowers’ short lives. As why it’s named “victory” – I haven’t had any idea…

As usual, taken without edit from my Nokia N8 phone (gosh, my phone’s really ancient). There is not enough background light since it was taken in about 5AM in the morning and Nokia’s flashlight wasn’t good. I wish I had better phone or pocket camera I can bring everywhere, but I have to be content with what I have for now.

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Ocean Adventure Day 2-4! Two days full of snorkeling, diving, playing fireworks, grilled fish, and rocking boat ride! August Karimun Jawa had really extreme wind speed and slightly wild ocean waves. It’s always been like this, locals said, if you want to enjoy slightly “normal” waves, you can go in March or May (but watch out for random tropical storms… we really got one hell of unpredictable weather forecast here). The locals joked that if there was no wind, our flag wouldn’t be able to stand waving beautifully. Kinda true, though.

Independence Day in Karimunjawa

After preparing everything, especially wearing sunscreen and swimsuit/shirt, we departed from our hotel in Menjangan Kecil for snorkeling at roughly 9AM in the morning. This snorkeling session was hosted by two locals, led by Captain Jack Sparrow!

Bang Jack! >:O

Bang Jack! >:O

He was like true Captain Jack Sparrow, huh? Even Mr. Jerry didn’t know his real name since everyone just called him “Bang Jack” (“Abang” Jack, which means “Bro” Jack… and due to his similarity to our favorite pirate, he became famous in an instant). He was born in Karimun Jawa, being a true seaman since birth, and was said to be descendant of Bugis Tribe – one of Indonesian seaman tribe. The locals were really friendly and knew the sea like their own backyards.

We circled the Karimun Jawa sea to somewhere near Cemara Islands, where there was the best snorkeling spot which was called “Cemara Gosong” Island (literally “Burnt Pine Island”). It was called “Burnt” because it could only be seen during low tide and would be submerged underwater during high tide. Unfortunately it was really in high tide that day, so we traveled back again somewhere around Cemara Island and had first snorkeling session. The waves still were too high for us, two of our tour members immediately lied on the boat deck because of headache. After not-really-successful-session-due-to-weather, we went to Cemara Kecil Island (Little Pine Tree Island) to have charcoal-grilled fish! And extremely yummy! My brother-in-law who didn’t like fish wanted two.

After photo session in super beautiful Cemara Kecil Island (my favorite), we went to another snorkeling spot near our Kampung Bule resort in Menjangan Kecil Island. The waves were small there and we really enjoyed that. Captain Jack showed us how to play with fishes by throwing bread crumbs prepared by him beforehand. And in a second when the bread fell to the water, the fish turned wild and fought over that crumb! Try holding that piece of bread in your hand and these black-and-yellow stripped fish will massage your hand (apparently these smol creatures’ teeth were kinda sharp). I saw Blue Gil there too!

In third day, we went snorkeling again with same schedule like previous day, but I kinda forgot where we went. It was super beautiful island where tourists and backpackers went sunbathing, and there were hundreds of seagulls standing at the beach. When we was about to go there after swimming, someone hushed them and all of the birds flew away >:O! One of our tour member went diving with his instructor, I overheard them saying it cost about 6mils IDR or so (CMIIW). He told us that he saw a giant turtle deep in the sea.

Boss was about to go diving

And for lunch, we spent time in Gileyan Island for another Charcoal-Grilled Fish! Karimun Jawa Island was famous for its “Ikan Kakatua” (Parrotfish), the blue and green fish that was said to clean up corals and the sea. These fish had really soft and tender meat and it was amazingly sweet. After lunch, we went snorkeling again for the fourth time before we went to Wisma Apung near Main Island – “Floating Houses” – for rest because the day after we would need to get on ferry in the morning. Due to circumstances, I couldn’t snorkel with everyone this day so I annoy my sister by throwing her bread crumbs from boat and feed the hungry fish below the boat. Looks like these little hungry creatures knew that boats coming to them meant “delish restaurant for fish”.

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Wisma Apung Karimunjawa

For this one, I wouldn’t spoil the experience living in the middle of the sea (lol). But one warning from me, don’t be an ass when you stay here. The fresh and clean water was taken from Main Island because there was no way you could use sea water for bath and drink – so please respect other inhabitants by saving clean water. In Wisma Apung, there was small “Penangkaran Hiu” – Blac-Tip Shark Breeding Zone. You could swim with these cute and friendly sharks there. If you wanted to go to the Main Island, you would need to pay some for Wisma Apung boatman.

In the next day, we went back to Java Island by ferry and oh-god-not-again-night-bus. The ferry ride was really disheartening, though. Although I was glad it was clear day and we could ride it – the waves were really scary. When I sat inside the ferry, I didn’t want to think about anything but to take drugs and had my mind wandering around dreamland for four hours. When I woke up in between, I could see the world shaking like crazy so I just forced myself to go back to sleep. While waiting for the Night Bus, we traveled by taxi sightseeing Jepara, a small and beautiful port town popular for its amazing woodworks. At roughly 6PM we took the bus to Bandung – thank Lord it didn’t have shrieking brakes nor burnt smells even though it still had inhuman speed and Initial-D’s “I want to be the very best, like no one ever was” overtaking every single vehicles on the road.

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Jepara, small port town in Central Java

And that was the end of our four days adventure in Karimun Jawa! Thanks to Mr. Jerry as the guide of “Ocean 21 Adventure” tour, all boatmen and fishermen locals and really amazing chefs there. Below Read More are pictures of Jepara!

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