6 Days Seoul Itinerary #2: Day Tours from Seoul and Hanbok Rental

“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta

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Hello from Nami Island!

In this post, I am going to share more on day trips out of Seoul,  as well as Hanbok rental.

Nami Island + Petite France + Garden of Morning Calm Day Tour

Out of our six days in Korea, two days were spent out of Seoul. For one of the day trips, we visited Nami Island, Petite France, and the Garden of Morning Calm all within one day!

Only accessible by ferry, Nami Island (63 km away from Seoul) is famous for its beautiful tree lined roads.

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Gorgeous greenery at Nami Island.

Many people started visiting Nami Island after it was used as a filming spot for the 2002 K-drama hit “Winter Sonata”. It is also a cultural center for creative ideas of local artists and employees.

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One of the filming sites of “Winter Sonata”.

‘Twas a really good (green) getaway from the bustling city of Seoul!

Located not far from Nami Island, Petite France is a small French village hidden in the suburbs of Gapyeong.

It is apparently owned by a rich Korean businessman who had a big love for the things of France (he needed a place to house all the French furniture, paintings, porcelain, etc he had  amassed over the years).

Made up of museums, workshops, restaurants, cafes and guesthouses, Petite France was featured on many K-dramas/variety shows, such as “Beethoven Virus”, “Secret Garden”, “Running Man” and “You Who Came From The Stars”.

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View from the watch tower.

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Against the backdrop of French influenced buildings.

Inspiration for The Garden of Morning Calm (a 30,000㎡ garden) came from a poem written by Sir Tagore, who described Korea during the Joseon Dynasty as “The Land of the Morning Calm”.

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The Garden of Morning Calm spans a total of 30,000㎡.

The garden houses about 5,000 different kinds of plants, including 300 varieties native to Baekdusan Mountain, known as a spiritual mountain to the Korean people.

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Really enjoyed exploring the gardens and soaking in the fresh cool air.

The Garden of Morning Calm is open all year-round and is a great spot to visit for families, couples, and photographers alike.

Flowers are in bloom from March to November, so the garden is especially busy during this period. We were so lucky to chance upon these blossoms!

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God’s handiwork is amazing!!

Do you recognize this scene from the k-drama “Love in the Moonlight”? I’m not a huge Korean drama fan but I did catch that one…such fond memories!

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Ended off our day trip with hot ginger tea, in a traditional tea house at The Garden of Morning Calm.

If you’re in interested, we booked the above tour via this website:

https://www.trazy.com/experience/detail/nami-island-petite-france-the-garden-of-morning-calm-tour


Mungyeong Park Hiking + Omija Winery Day Tour

Mungyeongsaejae Provincial Park (2-3 hours drive from Seoul) is one of the best places in Korea for adventurous travellers. You get to walk on old trails with a long history amidst stunning mountain scenery. 🙂

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Mungyeongsaejae Provincial Park.

Our local guide took us on a light hike through the park; we walked between two high mountains and got to take in some grand views.

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Everyone was dressed in hiking gear except for us. -_-

According to our guide, Joseon scholars from the far off provinces would go through this route (by foot) to take the state examination in Seoul.

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Joseon scholars used to spend the night here after a long and arduous journey.

KBS drama studio is located in Mungyeongsaejae Provincial Park, a filming set for famous historical K-dramas like “The Legend of the Blue Sea” and “Hwarang”.

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One of those filmed at Mungyeongsaejae Open Set.

It is the largest scale studio in the world. There are three palaces and many houses from the Goryeo Period, spread over 60,000㎡.

Before leaving, we were provided snacks and tea in the palace grounds. The lady serving us tea told us that she recently visited Singapore and loved it.

Next up, our guide brought us for an Omija Winery Tour. Instead of producing wine from grapes, Koreans make their wine from omija (five different flavours) berries.

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Our first time seeing omija berries.

Fun fact: Mungyeong covers about half of the total production of Omija wine in Korea. And so it made perfect sense to visit a winery in Mungyeong.

The omija wine was a lovely pink colour, had a subtle taste with sweet and sour notes. It was refreshing sipping it and it left a pleasant aftertaste!

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CHEERS to the many good things to come! x

If you’re in interested, we booked the above tour via this website:

https://www.trazy.com/experience/detail/mungyeong-hiking-zipline-tour


Visit Royal Palaces with a Hanbok

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Korean Hanbok experience. Checked.

I’ve always had this secret fantasy of wearing a Korean Hanbok and striding along the royal palace grounds. And I managed to fulfill this in my recent Seoul trip.

Oneday Hanbok Rental (Address: 2nd Floor, 4 Bukchonro5-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul) offers an outdoor Hanbok experience, which is by far more unique than an indoor/studio experience. With a minimum rental time of 4 hours, you can visit various landmarks in Seoul with your hanbok.

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Wall mural featuring a Korean lady in her Hanbok.

DID YOU KNOW THAT…With a Hanbok, you are entitled to special benefits such as free entries at selected places (e.g., royal palaces in Seoul, Korean Folk Village in Gyeonggido, etc). Not to mention those places have pretty backdrops for you to take pictures against!

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Gyeongbokgung Palace.

Gyeongbokgung Palace was our first stop. And YAY we did not have to queue/pay for the entrance ticket. 😉

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Blending into the palace surroundings.

Built in 1395, Gyeongbokgung Palace is also commonly referred to as the Northern Palace because its location is furthest north compared to the neighboring palaces of Changdeokgung (Eastern Palace) and Gyeonghuigung (Western Palace).

Gyeongbokgung Palace is arguably the most beautiful, and remains the largest of all five palaces.

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Such grand grounds!

Our second stop was the Bukchon Hanok Village, home to hundreds of traditional houses (hanok) that date back to the Joseon Dynasty.

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Bukchon Hanok Village.

The name Bukchon, which is translated literally as “northern village,” came about because the neighborhood lies to the north of two significant Seoul landmarks, Cheonggyecheon Stream and Jongno.

Today, many of these hanoks operate as cultural centers, guesthouses, restaurants and tea houses, providing visitors with an opportunity to experience, learn and immerse themselves in traditional Korean culture.

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I would love to live in a hanok donning a hanbok. HEH.

The Hanbok rental fare is not costly (15,000 Korean Won for 4 hours, 4,500 Korean won for each additional hour). Plus it includes basic accessories like bags and hair accessories. Have loads of fun with your Hanbok!!!

Do check out my list on best places to eat in Seoul here.

Also, if you’d like the full 8 page itinerary, do drop me a message and I’d happily send it to you!

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Day Trippin’ to Jakarta Aquarium

I’m finally back after a 3-month hiatus from blogging!! The past few months have been a really busy period for me — interviews back home, my dog of 18 years passed away, weddings, and so forth.

And boyyy am I glad to be finally back in Jakarta and settled in my usual routines. So here begins a backlog of blog posts. 🙂

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At the Jakarta Aquarium.

Jakarta Aquarium

Mid-June this year, Agent D and I visited the recently opened Jakarta Aquarium. An innovative project by Taman Safari Indonesia, the Jakarta Aquarium is located in the new Neo Soho extension of Central Park Mall (West Jakarta).

The combination of Indonesian biodiversity, the beauty of Indonesian heritage, and technology are what makes the Jakarta Aquarium truly unique. During our time there, I felt like we were transported away from the reality of Jakarta’s stress and traffic into another world of stories, magic and beauty.

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Of stories, magic, and pure beauty.

I would strongly recommend visiting the Jakarta Aquarium if you have kids/toddlers! Of course, it would make a good place for a date too.

What can you expect to see?

The entire aquarium spans two levels. The upper section focuses on the life of people and animals on the numerous islands of Indonesia.

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On an Indonesian Island.

A massive interactive touch table shows the map of Indonesia and gives visitors information on the archipelago’s geography, biodiversity and traditions.

As you walk through the rain-forest and mangrove areas (an endangered part of the Indonesian marine ecosystem), you’ll get to see Komodo dragons, coconut crabs, otters, huge lizards, frogs and stingrays, just to name a few.

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Fish-reptile-like-thing.

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Long neck tortoise!!

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Cute orange tiny frogs.

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This gave me goosebumps…

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Hello baby stingrays. 🙂

We happened to be in time for the otter feeding. Otters are such fun and intelligent creatures! Peek through the glass tunnel to spy on them — you might find them holding hands while asleep.

I really like the swirl tank, a beautiful piece to welcome visitors as they walk down the stairs from ‘above water’ to ‘under water’.

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Swirl tank.

The lower section of the aquarium is much larger and focuses on the endangered reefs and oceans of the Coral Triangle, where more than 3,000 species of fishes reside.

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❤ ❤ ❤

A series of jewel tanks offer unique sightings of some of the most beautiful, small, and odd sea creatures.

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Tiger fish??

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Sexy pouty lips #1.

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Sexy pouty lips #2.

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An illusion?

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Such pretty fins!

Other highlights include the majestic reef tank, the jellyfish tunnel, and a large touch pool with gentle sea creatures like Blue Starfish, Bamboo Sharks, and Turbo Snails.

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The majestic reef tank. Hello giant stingray!

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Giving it a go at the touch pool.

Hop onto the Sea Explorer (5D Theater) where you can experience riding a submarine to explore the depths of the ocean. This may involve getting wet though! 😉

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On board the Sea Explorer Submarine.

There is a classroom/playroom specially set aside for children. Let your kids’ imagination run wild as they create and colour their own fish, scan their drawings, and have their fish swim freely on the screen.

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Children’s classroom.

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Small cafe beside the classroom.

The Pingoo Restaurant

The Pingoo Restaurant is an American seafood and grill restaurant inspired by the penguins’ habitat in the Southern Hemisphere.

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The Pingoo Restaurant.

The restaurant is separated by glass from the penguin enclosure; you can watch penguins swim/waddle around as you dine and even feed the penguins during the designated feeding times.

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Up close with penguins.

I did not try their mains as I only had cake and drinks there. I hope they don’t disappoint!

After your filling meal, drop by Ocean Wonders to pick up some souvenirs. I was so tempted to get this adorable squid!

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SQUID.

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Other cute souvenirs.


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Jakarta Aquarium
Neo SOHO Mall, Floor LG 
Open daily from 10am – 10pm

Entrance Ticket: IDR 175k/pax onwards

Explore Indonesia #10: Day Trip to Kampoeng Djamoe Organic

Kampoeng Djamoe Organik (KaDO) by Martha Tilaar Group is an oasis in the industrial area of ​​Cikarang, about 45-50 km east of central Jakarta. It functions as an environmental education + conservation centre and makes a great destination for a day trip out of Jakarta. 

We left Jakarta on a Thursday morning at 0730 and reached KaDO at 0930 (with smooth traffic, the journey should take less than an hour).

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Welcome to Kampoeng Djamoe Organic!

Upon our arrival, we were greeted by the friendly people of KaDO and served a welcome drink (a refreshing herbal concoction meant to warm the throat). As our group was pretty big, we were split up into two smaller groups with separate guides.

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Scenic green grounds.

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Excited tourists.

Our guide brought us on a tour around the Herbal Garden and introduced some of the plants that grow there. KaDO consists of 10 hectares of green land that is home to 650 species of plants, all of which are grown organically. The entire place is very well-organized; the plants have tags with information on their names and uses.

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KaDO’s plants are grown organically, without any fertilizers.

The plants at KaDO are grown for 3 main purposes — medicine, aromatherapy, and cosmetics. Did you know that…pineapple is good for the hair; lavender is good for the skin; teak leaves help prevent obesity?!!

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Such pretty orchids!

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Orchid (left) and plant (right) labelled with its name and uses.

Our guide jokingly told us to breathe in as much of the oxygen-rich air as we could (I personally took loads of deep breaths during my time there). According to him, the air we usually breathe in Jakarta is mixed with pollution and of much poorer quality than that of Kampoeng Djamoe’s.

After the Garden tour, we visited the Martha Tilaar Training Center where young girls from rural villages (some sold by their own parents sadly) are taught skills to make a living.

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Martha Tilaar Training Center.

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Young girls undergoing training. In this picture, they are mixing the herbs required for body treatment/spa.

They are offered free boarding and meals with a small allowance and learn treatment techniques for the body, face, hair, hand and foot.

Upon graduating, they get sent out to the Martha Tilaar Salon Day Spas around Indonesia. (I had previously wrote about my Peach Delima Body Treatment here: Of Spas in Jakarta: Martha Tilaar.)

I went on this day trip with the ASEAN Women Circle (AWC) and we got to plant our very own tree on KaDO’s grounds. Please grow well, little one. Perhaps I’ll come visit you some years later.

Following which, we proceeded to Kedai Sehat Alami for a snack break.

There was a short presentation on the benefits of herbal plants followed by interesting live demonstrations such as making healthy juices/herbal drinks, getting chlorophyll direct from leaves, etc. 

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We got to taste some of the herbal drink concoctions from their homegrown plants. Good stuff!

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Beneficial herbs for good health.

A buffet style organic lunch was included in the day tour package. The food was prepared fresh, using herbs from KaDO’s garden.

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Happy participants.

One highlight of this trip was meeting the woman behind all this, Martha Tilaar herself. She shared about her infertility journey of 16 years, where reputable doctors/professors around the world told her she would never be able to have children of her own. But her mom, a herbalist, decided to use herbs to treat her and she eventually conceived at 41 years of age (three years later). 

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Ibu Martha Tilaar. She’s nearing 80 but doesn’t look it at all?!

Speaking of herbs as an alternative medicine, KaDO has their very own resident doctor within the compound (with a Bachelor of Medicine from University of Indonesia and Masters degree in Herbs). The KaDO clinic takes a holistic approach to diagnosis and prescribes herbs instead of western medicine. The doctor is trained in techniques like acupuncture and acupressure as well. Instead of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), you might want to consider this. 🙂 

After lunch, there were more live demonstrations on makeup application and body care. Everyone danced to traditional music before departing KaDO, which was a really nice finish to our visit.

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Body SPA demo.

Each of us went home with a generous door gift from KaDO. I was given one packet of red ginger tea and one packet of Java tea + Martha Tilaar beauty products including a bottle of moisturizer + a REAL plant in a pot. It’s my very first plant in Jakarta and I hope it doesn’t die on me! :/

To sum up, Kampoeng Djamoe Organik Garden is a place that focuses on organic cultivation and conservation; it also functions as a center for environment education and training. It is their hope that they will be able to raise awareness on the importance of protecting our environment, conserving indigenous plants, while implementing green technology.

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Thanks for inviting me along, Shar!!

KaDO is a lovely green respite from Jakarta and would make an ideal weekend trip for families with children (especially if you want to educate them on the environment).

It is open Monday to Saturday from 0800 – 1630 (entrance fee of IDR 20k). They also have day tour packages ranging from IDR 95k – IDR 150k per person, inclusive of lunch. (Their website was last updated on 29 Apr 2014 so prices may have gone up.)

Drop by their website for more information: http://www.kampoengdjamoemarthatilaar.com/


Kampoeng Djamoe Organik (KaDO)
Jalan Ciujung, Kawasan EJIP Pintu II
Cikarang Selatan
Jawa Barat 17530

From Straight Hair to Curls: Nobu Hair Salon at Citywalk

In my last post, I recommended Anna Wijaya Salon for hair spa. Today, I’m going to share my hair perming experience at Nobu Salon in Citywalk mall.

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After the perm – Ivana and I with our new curls.

I’ve had straight hair all my life and have longggg wanted to go for a perm but never had the guts to do so. My hair is awfully thick – if not maintained well, I’ll totally blend in with a troop of lions. And so I always had this fear that perming my hair would make me more lion-ey.

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Farewell, straight hair!

But…I finally got down to doing it last Wednesday. I guess it was now or never.

Many of my friends cut their hair at Nobu Salon and have nothing but praise for the hairstylists there. By the way, all their hairstylists hail from Japan. The local workers only assist/support them and help out with the hair washes.

My visit to Nobu Hair Salon started off with a hair consultation. My hairstylist, Manabu, advised me to thin and layer my hair before perming so I won’t end up with a beehive (think candy floss/Pomeranian dog). He also said I had to straighten the top bit of my hair. I told him I wanted natural-looking curls and he said digital perm would suit me best. I went along with his suggestions. 🙂

The Digital Perm Process

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Embarking on a digital perm.

A digital perm is a perm that uses hot rods; the temperature is regulated by a machine with a digital display (hence the name digital). My hair was first soaked in perm solution. Following which, sections of my hair were rolled into curlers and plugged into the heat generating machine. The time required for a digital perm is usually shorter than that of a regular perm.

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Hair all rolled up in curlers and plugged into the machine.

In between all the waiting, you may want to get a manicure/pedicure done. Nobu Salon provides normal and gel nail services at pretty reasonable prices. 🙂

After some time, my hair was given a neutralizing liquid. Once the liquid was spread evenly throughout my air, Manabu opened the rollers one by one. BOOOOOOM. My hair had turned from straight to currrrly!

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About to open the rollers for Ivana’s hair.

After the final rinse, Manabu taught me how to blow dry my hair daily. The routine involves a lot of inward twirling, bouncing and hand work. I am so glad my hair didn’t turn out (too) big. It looks kinda natural, you think?

Here are some before and after pictures:

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AFTER: Curly hair and Freckles.

Nobu Salon issued me a membership card for free; I was entitled to a 10% discount for my current bill and future bills. The cost of my haircut was IDR 500k, the straightening was IDR 250k, and the digital perm was IDR 1,800,000. After the 10% discount, the total bill came up to IDR 2,295,000.

Here’s the bill for your reference:

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My total bill for cutting, straightening, and a digital perm.

One Week Later…

My curls had almost disappeared after 5 washes *sobs*. I’m not sure if it’s because I had previously straightened my hair and it was therefore resistant to perming?! Ivana’s hair, in comparison, was still very curly.

I made a trip down to Nobu again for Manabu to check my hair. He said he’d thin my hair even further (seeeee I wasn’t exaggerating about my THICK hair) and re-do the perm for me. So I sat in the salon chair for another three hours and went through the entire digital perm process again. And TA-DA…now my hair looks like this:

Thank you, Manabu, for re-doing the perm for me ever so kindly and readily. I hope it stays with me this time round! *fingers crossed*


Nobu Hair & More Citywalk
Citywalk Sudirman 2nd Floor #23
Jl.KH.Mas Mansyur 121
Jakarta

Explore Jakarta: Streets of Pasar Glodok

Part of the old Batavia city, Glodok refers to the Chinatown area of Jakarta. It is the biggest Chinatown within Indonesia, and one of the largest in the world. The name Glodok comes from the Sundanese word “Golodog”, meaning entrance to a house, as Sunda Kalapa (Jakarta) is the gateway to the ancient Sundanese Kingdom.

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One of the big lanes within Pasar Glodok.

To start your walking tour around Pasar Glodok, get your driver/taxi to drop you off at the A&W fast food landmark. Your driver can park the car opposite or at the Chandra Building.

Strolling though the streets of Pasar Glodok, there is so much to soak in. It almost feels like a time travel thirty years back through muddy streets and narrow alleys. Revel in the rich history and cultural heritage encased within the city — its historical buildings, ancient temples and traditional Chinese architecture.

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Narrow alley selling culinary delights like skinned frog legs and slimy water eels.

As you go along, observe the people’s way of life, touch and feel what they’re selling, make small conversations, and of course shop and eat to your heart’s content. 🙂

Here are some photo souvenirs of my little excursion to Glodok. I hope you can catch a tiny glimpse of the sights, sounds, and smells I experienced that day.

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Store selling snacks, sweets, nuts, dried goods and everything else.

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An art and craft store selling ribbons, cloth, buttons and everything else.

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Uncle selling chickens saw me taking a picture of his storefront and came out to pose.

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Big prawns. Small prawns. Anyone?

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Fresh vegetables for sale.

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Man selling peanuts + surfing Facebook.

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A peek into the living quarters of Pasar Glodok residents.

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Gallery of colourful fishes.

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More skinned frog legs and crabs.

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Pig trotters, pork belly, intestines, ears and the likes. Spot the cute lil’ snout? (I bought back one ear to try and it was yummy!)

As you can see, Pasar Glodok is full of historical treasures and culinary delights. Food stalls sell everything from the expected to the bizarre.

I certainly hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did! ❤


A few things worth noting:

  1. Visit Glodok as early as you can. The good/fresh food sells out fast and traffic gets a lot worse later in the day.
  2. Try not to carry too much cash around and put your money in different places.
  3. As prices are not fixed, don’t forget to bargain and haggle.
  4. Wear comfortable clothes and footwear.
  5. Pile on loads of sunblock beforehand as the open alleys don’t have much shade.

Straits Times Feature on Our Volunteering Journey in Jakarta

It’s been exactly a year since I first wrote about Volunteering in Jakarta: Kampung Kids (dated 26 Feb 2016). And today, one year on, an article was published on Straits Times Online titled ‘Singaporean volunteers bridge education gap in South Jakarta‘.

Working with the children from Kampung Kids has been a wonderful learning journey for both Dianne and myself and this write-up is a lovely keepsake of our time spent there.

I will be sharing it with you here:


Singaporean volunteers bridge education gap in South Jakarta neighbourhood

Singaporeans Deborah Lee and Dianne Goh sat on tiny chairs, with half a dozen curious preschoolers at their feet. Their eyes widened and narrowed and their voices rose and fell as they recited each line from “The Three Friends”, a children’s story about animals.

In a smattering of English and basic Bahasa Indonesia, the volunteer teachers tried to make themselves understood.

Unsure of the Indonesian term for elephant’s trunk, Ms Lee resorted to using hand gestures. She balled one hand into a fist, put it in front of her face and extended it outwards.

“This is elephant’s trunk,” she said. Ms Goh chimed in: “Trunk. Not nose, OK? Trunk.” The children nodded.

After the story-telling session, they played videos on their i-pad and led the class in singing and dancing to simple tunes such as “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”.

Ms Dianne Goh (short hair) and Ms Deborah Lee (long hair), volunteer teachers from Singapore, teaching Indonesian children English. They are among 20 volunteer teachers at the Yayasan Kampung Kids, a foundation in the poorer neighbourhood of Pejaten in South Jakarta. PHOTO: SHELBY GARLICK

Ms Lee, 29, and Ms Goh, 28, are among 20 volunteer teachers at the Yayasan Kampung Kids, a foundation in the poorer neighbourhood of Pejaten in South Jakarta which has been running free educational, as well as food and nutrition programmes for the underprivileged for nearly two decades.

Ms Lee has been volunteering there since 2015, shortly after moving to Jakarta where her husband is stationed for work. Ms Goh did the same last year.

In a country where pre-primary education is not compulsory, and most of the kindergartens and nurseries are privately-run and expensive, volunteer teachers like them are much welcomed.

Ms Dianne Goh (short hair) and Ms Deborah Lee (long hair), volunteer teachers from Singapore, teaching Indonesian children English. PHOTO: SHELBY GARLICK

The government has been increasing funds gradually for early childhood education and plans are afoot to build an education centre in every village across the country. In the meantime, foundations like Kampung Kids are helping to fill the service gap.

Housewife Sumarni, 45, said she would have to fork out anywhere between one and five million rupiah (S$105-S$526) to enrol her five-year-old daughter Nurita in a regular kindergarten, and another 300,000 rupiah every month for school fees.

“All parents want the best education for their children. But not everyone can afford that,” she said.

The biggest challenge for the Singaporeans, as expected, is the language barrier. But they say this has only spurred them to get creative.

Ms Lee, who holds a Master’s degree in Child Development and Education, had taught English and Mathematics to primary school pupils in Singapore and wanted to continue helping the local community.

Ms Dianne Goh teaching Indonesian children English. PHOTO: SHELBY GARLICK

“The children hardly understand or speak English while I’m not very fluent in Bahasa Indonesia,” she said, adding that she conveys her messages by drawing pictures and playing charades. Sometimes, the mothers who sit in during the lessons will help her explain to the children.

Struggles aside, they aim to make lessons fun through songs and get the children “used to listening to English”, Ms Goh said.

“We have to use very simple and short stories. We also get them to repeat the sentences after us,” she added. “I can see the importance of giving young children a good foundation in education as it gives them self-confidence, and a love for learning.”

The parents say they appreciate the efforts of the foreign teachers – including those from Singapore, India, Australia, Britain and the US – and do not mind that they are not fluent in Bahasa Indonesia.

“They could be doing something else with their time, but choose to come here to teach our kids. I’m just grateful,” 30-year-old Fitriyah said.

Ms Deborah Lee teaching Indonesian children English. PHOTO: SHELBY GARLICK

Agreeing, housewife Nenah, 32, said that her daughter would sing English nursery rhymes at home and tell her that she looks forward to going to school.

“I hope my child will be able to master English so she can interact with people other than Indonesians,” she said.

For the Singaporean teachers, sharing knowledge goes two ways: The pupils and the parents have not only expanded their Indonesian vocabulary, but have also given them valuable life lessons.

“They taught me so much more beyond the four walls of the classroom,” Ms Lee said.

“Despite not having much, the children are very content and carefree. I’ve also learnt to be content in life, in various situations and circumstances,” she said.

“They constantly remind me to have a bigger and more generous heart towards the poor.”

aarlina@sph.com.sg


The original article with the video can be found at this link: http://str.sg/4nxg.

If you have any questions about volunteering in Jakarta, feel free to drop me a note here! 🙂

Last Trip of the Year to Singapore: Nowhere Else We’d Rather Be

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Gardens by the Bay, Singapore. HOME TRULY.

And now on to our year end holiday in Singapore, where Agent D and I were like tourists in our homeland.

GOOD OLD FOOD

First thing we did upon touching down was…SATISFY CRAVINGS with oily lardy awesommmme hawker fare. That which never grows old on us.

Our first stop was Chinatown Food Centre where we had char kway teow (ohh the hum), a huge serving of claypot rice originally intended for 4 (complete with lap cheong!), and chwee kueh with loads of chilli.

After a very fulfilling lunch, we walked away the fats to my favourite egg tart store a few streets down – Tong Heng Confectionery. Their diamond egg tarts have a slighly flaky but firm crust with an almost jelly-like, egg-custard filling. Simply dan-talizingly shiok.

Another day, we headed all the way to Little India to have Beach Road Scissor Cut Curry Rice. Do not be fooled by its appearance. Although the rice rice looks unappealingly messy and unsightly – it is absolutely sinfully delicious. A plate of ‘heart attack’.

And no Singapore trip would be complete without my hokkien mee

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Hokkien Mee with plate of greens (meant to offset lard and oil).

This time round, Agent D and I hardly had time to check out cool and exciting new cafes/restaurants. One exception was Hana Japanese Restaurant, which my friends brought me to.

They’re known for their “flying noodles”, in particular the Flying Truffle Somen and the Flying Salted Egg Yolk Udon. You should also try their 4×3 grid box (chef’s selection of 12 small bites) and Matcha-misu dessert (beautifully decorated like a terrarium).

SIGHTSEEING IN OUR HOMELAND

Food aside, Agent D and I probably covered more ‘tourist attractions’ in one week than in half a year when we resided in Singapore.

In between our food hunts, we explored and walked the quaint streets of Chinatown.

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Chinatown, Singapore.

We also spent one lovely evening at Christmas Wonderland in Gardens by the Bay.

I loveeee the gardens. It is a nature park spanning 101 hectares of reclaimed land in central Singapore, adjacent to the Marina Reservoir.

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Gardens by the Bay, Singapore.

Christmas Wonderland has been held in Singapore for three years now (including 2016) and it was our first time visiting this yuletide fair. So glad we made it. 🙂

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Magnificent sculptures of light.

The lights came on at 6.30 p.m. and the entire place became more and more magical as the sun set and the skies darkened.

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Beautiful Singapore.

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Gorgeous luminarie lights.

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Ice Palace.

Ohh and we finally got to visit Adventure Cove Waterpark in Sentosa – an aquatic amusement park with an aquarium, waterslides, a wave pool, tubing, snorkeling, etc.

Agent D and I spent an entire day taking high-speed water slides (screaming our lungs out!), drifting on a lazy river, and bouncing around the wave pool. SUPER FUN!

Didn’t get to take any pictures because we left our phones in the locker. Here are two of my favourite rides (photo credit: RWS Sentosa):

Adventure Cove Waterpark Riptide Rocket

Riptide Rocket – Southeast Asia’s first hydro-magnetic coaster. 

Adventure Cove Waterpark Spiral Washout

Spiral Washout – an oscillating tube ride through a twisting, turning water flume. 

We also did some Christmas shopping at Public Garden Christmas 2016, an annual flea market which runs during the Christmas season.

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Checking out unique jade rings with gemstones.

Public Garden brings together quality brands and independent businesses with unique merchandise. Industries include design, stationery, art, jewellery, apparel, home decor, vintage, beauty, etc.  #supportlocalbrands

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Flowers, anyone?

If you missed Public Garden last December, you can always look forward to the next one this year! 🙂

MEETUPS & CATCH UPS

Around year end, there are more meetups, gatherings, celebrations and potlucks than usual. And we are thankful to be part of some.

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Queky and Charmaine.

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Happy Birthday Aileen and Alice!!

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Agent D’s church homies.

A FLOWERY SWEET SURPRISE

Something to remember this trip by…Agent D surprised me with a bouquet of the prettiest flowers at our GSF +1 gathering.

I asked him why he got me flowers and he replied, “We don’t need a reason to buy you flowers.” Awww, what a keeper. (Actually, he had just spent close to 500 bucks on board games that day…perhaps that was the untold reason heh??!)

Anyhow, the flowers made my day and gave me something to remember this SG trip by. ❤

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Thank you husband! XOXO

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Our flight back to Jakarta was two hours delayed and we boss monster-ed away!

Already missing you, Singapore. Till the next time!