Back Home: Of Wedding Festivities, Bridal and Baby Showers

Of Weddings

Many of my good friends are getting/have gotten married in the first half of this year. Last month (Feb) was Greg’s wedding in Miri. This coming April will be Adeline’s union with Shaun. In June, Petrina and Serene are getting married two weeks apart. And just last week (March), I flew back for Pam’s wedding.

Pam and I go a long wayyy back to primary school days. We went on to the same secondary school and junior college and have been in close contact ever since.

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18 years of friendship and counting.

Many fond memories flood my mind as I think back on our growing up years —  going to school and coming home together (we were neighbours), hanging out after school at each other’s homes/nearby malls, wearing cool baggy jeans with belts hanging out (gross!), experimenting with make-up for the first time, exploring IRC chats with weirdass nicknames, playing snake on our Nokia phones while waiting for the train, riding on our skate scooters/bicycles around the estate, playing futile badminton in an open-air space, the list goes on.

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From primary school…to secondary school…to JC…to now. What a long way we’ve come.

I still find it hard to believe that 18 years on, we are now at the stage of getting married and having kids. Where did all that time go?!!

It was a real joy to witness a good ol’ friend walk down the aisle with the love of her life and I couldn’t help but get all sentimental. Here are some photo memories captured on the day itself:

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Bridesmaids duties – THE GATECRASH.

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Three ‘fun’ tasks for the groom and his boys.

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Hon Inn and his bros in full force.

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United by our polka dots. 🙂

The groom and his friends were super sporting and everyone had a good laugh. After the eventful gatecrash, we proceeded to Bishan Park for photo taking.

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Pam in her beautiful gown.

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Bishan Park – one of my favourite parks in Singapore.

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Sharing a moment together.

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3/10 of L Dearest.

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Whoooop.

At the hotel, we had some time to freshen up and help with the decor. Everyone was tired from waking up at 5+am in the morning but adrenaline kept us going.

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Decor for the main table.

Hon Inn and Pam handcrafted a paper flower wall for their guests to take photos against. Each and every wallflower was painstakingly cut, folded, and threaded into its intricate shape. Isn’t it absolutely gorgeous?!

During the Holy Matrimony, Hon Inn couldn’t hold back his tears as Pam walked down the aisle and when he was saying his vows. I’ve never seen this softer side of him and it was really sweet.

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Mr. and Mrs. Hon Inn. Congrats you two!!

At the dinner banquet later in the evening:

With all of us in different parts of the world, a wedding somehow helps to bring everyone together. I was really happy to be a part of Pam’s big day + catch up with friends that I’ve not seen in a long while.

Once again, congrats Pam and Hon Inn!!! Wishing you nothing but the best and lots of love and joy in this marriage! ❤ ❤ ❤


Of Bridal and Baby Showers

As I mentioned earlier, Adeline’s wedding is going to be held in April, just one month from now. Coincidentally, Cheryl will also be popping around that time.

As such, we decided to hold a 2-in-1 celebration for the two of them: Adeline’s bridal shower CUM Cheryl’s baby shower.

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So much to look forward to in April for GSF+1.

Both Adeline and Cheryl were not expecting it…Adeline was informed that it was going to be Cheryl’s baby shower whilst Cheryl was told that we were hosting a hens party for Adeline. BOOOOOM SURPRISSSSSE! ❤

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With our Mrs-to-be, last one of GSF to get hitched.

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Congrats my dear! Really looking forward to flying back for your big day.

Adeline and Cheryl were both my cell leaders back in Singapore and have a special place in my heart. I’m really excited for them as they move into a new phase of their lives — as a new wife and a Mom.

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With our Momma-to-be, can’t wait to meet your lil’ one!

Over good food, we talked about their hopes for the future and discussed girly topics. Everyone had a good belly-laugh, an awesome remedy for the soul.

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Till our big reunion in April again. 🙂

“In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.” — Khalil Gibran

Friends forever. xxx

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When Good Friends Visit

Today my favouritest friend Juli landed in Jakarta for a 3-day visit. She came with her hubs Lewis and the newest addition to their family, chub chub Joseph. It’s been 3 months since I last saw baby Joseph and OHH how he’s grown into a mini sumo/fatty, complete with biceps, triceps and fat folds. *so cute*

This picture was taken at baby Joseph’s first month party.

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And these pictures were taken just today. Aww look at those juicy thighs and cheeks. 🙂 🙂 🙂

He’s only 4 months old but he’s heavier than a BIGGGG watermelon and HUGEEE coconut and ENORMOUS papaya combined together. Ok you get the drift.

I tried carrying him for a while and my arms started aching after like 1 minute. He’ll probably be my only form of arm toning exercise this week.

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Hello there fatty!

Maybe it’s because he’s juli’s baby and I’m biased but I think he’s one of the CUTEST around. He has two to-die-for dimples but they’re hidden beneath his chub chub cheeks.

We were trying to take a decent photo with baby Joseph looking at the camera but it was so hard. He kept looking at the ground below as if there were gold coins or something. :/ With much perseverance and cooing, we finally managed to! YAY.

Dear baby Joseph, I hope you’ll grow up one day to be a man after God’s own heart. ❤

Baby Joseph aside, I was really happy to see his momma Juli. Almost seemed surreal having my good friend in town. And it’s really nice how I can just be myself with old friends.

Always thankful when friends visit Jakarta.

M.I.S.S.I.N.G HOME

YAY for long weekends. Wish there could be more of them. As I wait for Agent D to come back, I’m wondering what everyone is doing back home. Dinner meetups and get-togethers (which I’m missing out on) perhaps? Suddenly, I miss my family and friends. I miss familiarity.

Feelings of homesickness are a weird thing. They hit when you least expect it. I can be window shopping on my own in the mall and in the midst of the crowd BANG I miss home. Or when I’m stuck in traffic (which happens to be really common here in Jakarta!) and BANG I miss my country.

SO…I’m going to upload some photos of my friends and family here. Just because flipping through them makes me happy. (And also because I’m clearing my phone to make room for more space.)

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And I’m so thankful for the few I’ve managed to spend time with in Jakarta, when away from home.

Looking through the pictures makes me excited for my upcoming trip back home. It’s been awhile since I last caught up with everyone. *can’t wait*

Happy Easter everyone and happppppppy long weekend!

And thank you Jesus for dying on the cross for us. Let us not forget the significance of Good Friday.

xxx

Explore Jakarta: Kota Tua and Cafe Batavia

This morning, Agent D left home around 5 a.m. for work. I woke up (barely) around 4.20 a.m. to fix him a simple breakfast which he could eat on the way to the airport. My hands and legs seemed to be strangely moving on their own in synchrony while being detached from my brain (which was still in deep slumber).

OK let’s boil water. Hand gets kettle and fills it with water. Finger pushes the boil knob. Legs move to the refrigerator. Hand opens the refrigerator door and gets 2 slices of bread and pops them into the oven. Legs move to the Master Bedroom and arms prepare Agent D’s suit and tie. Bread is ready. Hand butters bread with a knife and layers on a thick spread. 

Come to think of it, I can’t even remember if I spread kaya or blueberry jam onto Agent D’s bread. Hmm or perhaps it was nutella instead :/ My only faint memory was that of saying “bye-bye!” at the doorway and waving Agent D off. My legs must have found their way to the bed because the next thing I knew, the alarm clock was ringing and it was time for me to change to head down to Kampung Kids (Tuesdays are my volunteer days).

So please pardon me if this post isn’t too coherent – I’m still in sleep deprivation mode.


Today I’m going to write about my trip to Kota Tua when my folks visited in February. My dad is a history buff and so I thought he might like exploring the streets of Jakarta’s old town.

According to Mr. Wikipedia, Kota Tua was an important commerce hub in Asia since the 16th century. Thus, it was home to several important historical sites and buildings like the Former Court of Justice (currently the Fine Art and Ceramic Museum), the oldest surviving church in Jakarta (Gereja Sion), the 18th century City Hall (currently the Jakarta History Museum), and so on.

As we got out of the car and stepped onto the streets of Kota Tua, I felt as if I was transported to an earlier era of Jakarta. The entire street was lined with old colonial buildings of Dutch-influenced architecture.

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The entrance where my driver dropped us off.

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Stretch of old colonial buildings.

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A cute little cafe.

We took a short walk down the street and found ourselves at the Central Square. It was BUSTLING there – vendors selling food and souvenirs, street buskers (SO MANY. They were practically 1 cm apart), Indonesian tourists with their selfie sticks, bicycle rental shops, and so on. What a sight really!
One great pity is that many of the colonial relics are decaying. While there have been attempts to preserve and restore some of  the buildings (e.g. the Kota Post Office building has been converted into a contemporary art museum), many are sadly deteriorating and quite a number lie in ruins till this day.
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After preservation works – Post Office building.

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Colonial architecture steadily decaying.

I really hope that most (if not all) of the historical sites can be restored to their former glory SOON. And that one day, Kota Tua will achieve the status of a UNESCO world heritage site. 🙂
To escape from the heat, my parents and I decided to head into Cafe Batavia for some cooling down. Our bodies had probably lost about 3 buckets of water by then (one bucket each) and there was a strong need to re-hydrate. That feeling of stepping into an air-conditioned space with nice soft music playing in the background – SO GOOD.
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Upper level of Cafe Batavia.

Rated #13 out of 6,402 Restaurants in Jakarta on Trip Advisor, Cafe Batavia lives up to its name in terms of ambience. Set in a 200-year-old colonial building, Cafe Batavia is actually the second oldest building in Central Jakarta after the Fatahillah Museum (!!). The cafe’s decor oozes history and gives a glimpse of what life was like in the colonial era. At certain times of the day, the cafe has a live band playing downstairs.
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Wall backdrop consisting of picture frames.

If you have a choice, sit upstairs by a window overlooking the square.  It’s perfect for people watching and looking down on the happenings in Central Square (from the comfort of your seat).

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By the window.

The cafe serves quite a variety of food; from authentic Indonesian food to Chinese food (including dimsum) to Western food. They have an extensive cocktails menu as well. I can’t say much about their food because we only had drinks there (it was tea time).

I’d recommend that you try the traditional drinks (which we did). There are 4 types of drinks made from different herbs and spices and one can have them hot or cold. We ordered three traditional drinks to share amongst ourselves – two of them tasted really nice while the other was…well…an acquired taste. We were such thirsty hippos that when the drinks came, we slurped them up really fast! And FORGOT about taking pictures again. 😦

I’ll be visiting Kota Tua sometime soon to explore their Puppet Museum and Kite Museum. Looking forward!

Of Buffets and Spas in Jakarta: Hotel Mulia The Cafe & Martha Tilaar

I’ve been kept busy by friends visiting from my home country (3 friends on different days in the span of one week!). Perhaps God knows life in Jakarta can get lonely at times and He somehow orchestrates circumstances to bring close friends to me (through their work). Being with old friends gives me the feeling of a home away from home, something I can’t quite explain in words. And I’m so thankful for them.

Jialing came last Wednesday to meet her clients and I brought her out for a massage and a traditional Indonesian dinner. On that same weekend, Adeline stayed at our place to spend time with me before meeting company clients on Monday. We ate A LOT, did hair spa, foot reflexology, pedicure, and facial together. And just 2 days ago on Wednesday, Pam flew in for work as well! We spent the entire day enjoying a sumptuous buffet and 2 hours of body spa. As one can see, although there’s quite a bit to do in Jakarta, FOOD and SPAS/ MASSAGES always top the list for visitors here (actually even for me as a “local” heh).

Today, I’m going to write more about my buffet experience at The Cafe @Hotel Mulia and spa experience at Martha Tilaar Salon Day Spa, a household name in Jakarta. I’ve long heard that the various buffet options (there are a number of restaurants serving buffet there) at Hotel Mulia are VERY GOOD but have not got down to trying any of them yet. These days, buffets are reserved only for special occasions due to slowing metabolism rates. *21st century concerns* Sigh, gone are the days of eating till you feel like puking but yet  feeling so satisfied because you got your money’s worth.

From Mr.google, I found out that The Cafe @Hotel Mulia is ranked #1 out of 6,401 Restaurants in Jakarta and given a rating of 4.8 / 5 on Zomato. Woah not bad at all. After reading that, I got quite excited about having their lunch buffet! Eat good food first, can always lose weight later right? Rightttt.

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Interior of The Cafe @Hotel Mulia. (main area)

The lunch buffet costs about IDR 360k/pax without drinks. It is housed in a very spacey and pretty area with lush greenery outside their full-length windows. I liked how they drew the curtains so that sunlight could stream in. Service was top-notch, as with most other well-known restaurants in Jakarta.

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Happy diners – Pam, Ivana, and myself.

The entire cafe is divided into two separate sections – “real” food and dessert. Some guests might forget about/ miss the dessert section because it’s at another end of the cafe, on the far left side of the entrance. The decor for the dessert section is more whimsical, which I adored. I made a mental note to leave 30% of my tummy space for desserts later.

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A fragment of the main buffet section.

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You can pick and choose the ingredients for your gado-gado.

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Seating area at the dessert section.

The buffet spread was REALLY WIDE, one of the widest I’ve seen around. The food selection was international with various live stations — Indonesian cuisine and desserts, Japanese cuisine,  Indian cuisine, Korean cuisine, Western cuisine, Chinese cuisine including dim-sum, and the list goes on. We were spoilt for choice. 🙂

Here are some pictures (not all) of the food I ate:

By the time it was time for desserts, I think I was already 90% (and not 70%) full. So much for mental resolutions. Blame it on the good food. I took some pictures of the pretty dessert section for your viewing but they didn’t turn out too well on my iphone camera (sorry!).

I have a very sweet tooth by nature i.e. I’m the sort of person that can have 2 rich, fudgy cake slices for lunch and nothing else. Given two options – savoury or sweet – I would always choose the sweet one without any hesitation. Hence, desserts are usually my most anticipated part of any buffet! I have a soft spot for them.

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Desserts shared amongst the 3 of us.

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Dessert we-fie.

Sadly, the desserts didn’t quite match up to their looks and our expectations. They were not bad, but they weren’t fantastic. The ice-cream erred on the airy side. The various shot-glass desserts were fluffy and quite plain tasting while the macaroons were a tad too soft (I prefer them slightly crispy) and sweet. The grape mille-feuille was not bad though and the Indonesian kueh was good. That said, I would still return to The Cafe for their main food.

After lunch, we headed to Martha Tilaar Salon Day Spa. Pam, Ivana, and myself  chose the “Peach Delima Body Treatment” because it smelt SO GOOOOD compared to the other products. Martha Tilaar has a whole range of body treatments with different fancy names but they’re essentially the same thing — with different products (e.g., peach, ginger, herbs, etc).

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Martha Tilaar Center at Kuningan.

I prefer going to the Martha Tilaar Center at Kuningan because it’s the original outlet and is very well maintained. Although Martha Tilaar has many outlets all over Jakarta and Indonesia, many are actually franchises and the quality of service differs.

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Before spa – Ivana with her lemongrass drink.

A choice of cold/hot lemon grass drink or hot ginger tea is offered before and after spa. I find the cold lemon grass particularly refreshing. Oh and in case you were wondering, all Martha Tilaar body treatments are done in a private room.

My “Peach Delima Body Treatment” started off with a (peachy) body scrub. After washing off the scrub, I had a full body steam in one of these things below:

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The circular opening is for your head.

The (peachy) steaming lasted for about 10 minutes. I could fill my entire body perspiring inside. The therapist then got me to lie down on the spa-bed face down and and massaged me with peach-scented oil. She began with long, sweeping strokes followed by muscle kneading and rolling, where my muscles were worked on (like kneading dough). 

Over the past 7 months in Jakarta, I’ve visited quite a number of massage parlours. All of them use different massage techniques, some rougher than others (e.g., shiatsu massage, thai massage, etc). Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think Martha Tilaar adopts more of a swedish massage style – which I prefer. After the massage, I felt so soft all over as if I was wrapped in a cloud.

The body massage lasted for about 45 minutes. Thereafter, my therapist applied a nice-smelling peach mask over my whole body. While waiting for the mask to set, she filled up my bathtub with warm MILK (or something that looks like milk and smells nice). THE CREAM BATH was my favourite part of the spa experience!! After a soothing massage, it was simply heaven on earth soaking in the warm milk. One word – shiok.

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If not for the fact that my therapist had to go home, I would have stayed in the tub the whole day! Soon, my therapist knocked on the door and told me to wash up (with peach bath soap). She gave me some peach moisturizer to apply on my body.

All in all, our “Peach Delima Body Treatment” lasted for 2 hours. The three of us smelt so peachy sweet after that and we all went home and had a good night’s sleep.

Here’s the bill payment for your reference. I got 20% discount off the total bill because I’m a Martha Tilaar member (just spend more than IDR 1 juta within a month and you can qualify for membership). Have fun! 🙂

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Our bill payment at Martha Tilaar.

Explore Indonesia #1: Bandung

When Agent D first took up post in Jakarta, we agreed that we would try to explore as much of Indonesia as we could in our 3 years here. Our first destination was Bandung last September 2015, a 3-hour train ride through the hills of West Java (very pretty scenery on the way!). My parents happened to be visiting during that long weekend so they came along too.

Day 1:

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Passing by a train junkyard on the way to Bandung. The trains were stacked like LEGO!

We took the 8.30 am train out of Jakarta and arrived in Bandung around noon. All of us were VERY HUNGRY by then so we proceeded straight to Hummingbird Eatery for lunch. I had previously read rave reviews about this cafe (from tourist blogs/ touristy articles on Bandung) and was having high expectations. To my disappointment, it was actually the SAME Hummingbird Eatery (same décor, same menu, even the waiters wore the same uniforms) as the one in Kuningan City, Jakarta – which Agent D and I frequent. It wasn’t that the food was bad; it was just that we travelled all the way to Bandung to specially seek out a cool cafe only to find out that it was not that cool. 😦

After having our tummies filled, we went for some factory outlet shopping which really wasn’t that fantastic. The only thing I got was a polka-dotted pyjamas set. To work out for our dinner carbs later, we headed to Dago Pakar (contains 2 adjacent parks) for some light trekking. Sadly,  Taman (Park) Wisata Maribaya (known for its waterfalls and  natural hot springs) was closed. I had read that the natural hot spring pools there were believed to cure skin diseases. Hmm maybe it could have helped my mild eczema oh well.

So we went to  Taman (Park) Hutan Raya instead. Totalling 590 hectares of land, Taman Hutan Raya was built to conserve Bandung’s diversity of plants and flowers. It houses two separate waterfalls (Curug Lalay and Curug Omas) and REALLY DARK tunnels/ caves dug out by the Japanese and Dutch during World War 2. Prior to entering the tunnels, one could rent flashlights from the locals at the entrance. But we didn’t and it was a bad decision. My handphone torchlight wasn’t strong enough and I was tripping over myself half the time (there was many pot-like holes inside the tunnels). Also, do put on appropriate footwear if you ever make it to Taman Hutan Raya . The hike can be (WAS for me) pretty treacherous and I was THAT close to hailing one of those motorbike taxis to ferry me up the steep slopes back to the entrance (but Agent D didn’t allow me to sobs).

We had dinner at Kampung Daun, which was quite an otherworldly experience. My parents loved it. It is a whole village on its own — constructed out of bamboo, solid rocks, gurgling streams, green leaves, and a waterfall. To top it off, there was FRESH MOUNTAIN BREEZE. Everyone dines in their own private gazebo which is…super private (and nice).

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Our private gazebo amidst greenery and rushing streams.

The Sundanese traditional menu is a must-try, such as the wrapped rice Nasi Timbel to complete your way back to nature. Here are more pictures of our visit to Kampung Daun:

 Day 2:

We started off day 2 at De’Ranch — a previous actual ranch with 5 hectares of greenery. There are 22 activities to choose from costing between Rp 20000 to Rp 200000, including archery, horse riding, fishing, animal feeding, gold hunting (?!), etc.

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De’Ranch against a very pretty backdrop.

Apart from the horse riding, I didn’t find the other activities particularly amusing. We paid to fish from a pond that seemingly contained more dead fish then alive ones. After 10 minutes, we decided to give up. It was too painful and the smell from the pond was overwhelming.

We didn’t stay too long at De’Ranch because our journey to Kawah Putih (white crater) was estimated to take 2-3 hours depending on traffic. On our way to see the mystical crater lake, we stopped by Saung Gawir for lunch. It was another lovely restaurant with a different kind of ambience altogether — private huts with atap leaves overhead and bamboo walls + COOL MOUNTAIN BREEZE again (simply love the air in Bandung!). Diners can choose to either sit tatami-style in a private hut or on proper chairs with tables in the main area.

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View from where we sat.

I was so hungry when our food came that I COMPLETELY FORGOT to take food pictures (how is that possible?!). By the time I realised, only fish and chicken bones were left on our plates. 😦 Do try their Nasi Timbel with grilled Gurame fish (a Sundanese dish), it’s pretty good stuff.

After having our tummies filled, we continued our journey to Kawah Putih. Thankfully, there was no hiking involved to get there *phew* and our car could go all the way up. Known as the mystical lake above the cloud, this crater Lake was formed after Mount Patuha blew its top. Apparently, its crystal blue waters changes with the weather conditions, and it is surrounded with fine white sand.

One can see that even the vegetation around the area is quite different from those on lower ground. Just standing there and taking in the majestic sights of Kawah Putih before me was a reminder of God’s wonderful handiwork. Be warned that the smell of sulphur can get pretty overpowering!

From Kawah Putih back to Bandung, we passed by many strawberry farms. Too tempting.  We decided to stop at one of the bigger farms to pick fresh strawberries for dessert after dinner!

For our last night in Bandung, we had dinner at Stone Cafe — another village ambience with gazebos made out of bamboo and a lot of stones. The restaurant is located on a hill and offers a fantastic view of Bandung city. Although it’s a tad pricier compared to other eateries in Bandung, the view more than makes up for it. Not to mention there’s a live band to accompany your dinner.

I did not take any food pictures this time round because my handphone battery and portable charger were flat beyond redemption (and not because I forgot!). Just to be safe, try to order fully-cooked food items on the menu. I had pan-seared tuna steak which was rare — I attribute this to my terrible food poisoning the next day (a little bit of diarrhea on the train journey back and full-blown diarrhea for 3 consecutive days which warranted a visit to the doctor). This was my THIRD TIME getting food poisoning in 3 MONTHS and I am now very selective of what I put into my mouth. That said, I would still return to Stone Cafe if I ever make another trip to Bandung.

Day 3:

We wanted to go easy on ourselves for our last day in Bandung i.e. sleep in and take things slow. After breakfast at the hotel, we headed to Lembang floating market. The floating market sells a wide selection of traditional Indonesian food served from small boats with a beautiful view of a lake.

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Lembang floating market.

Apart from eating, visitors can do various activities such as ride the ATV and paddle boats, feed swans/rabbits, visit the cactus/stone gardens or get a massage. There is also a European house and miniature train set which takes about 10 minutes to get through.

We decided to get some afternoon exercise and rented two paddle boats — one for my parents and one for Agent D and myself. At first, I thought it would be a light and easy workout for my legs. BUT NOOOOO. The paddle boats were heavy and we both had to paddle in sync to move the boats forward. To make things even more difficult, water kept seeping into our boats and my legs were almost submerged in water! 10 minutes into paddling, lactic acid was building up in my legs and I pleaded with Agent D to return to shore. To my dismay, he was not done with paddling yet (we had the boat for 1 hour) and wanted to explore the other side of the lake. *help*

After paddling around for 45 minutes, we bought some food and walked around the art and craft stores. Two monochrome paintings caught my eye and I knew I had to get them (plus they were at a really good price!). Must support local artists right hehe.

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Paintings bought from Lembang floating market.

We had planned to go to Dusun Bambu for lunch. Dusun Bambu has not one…not two…BUT THREE amazing restaurants each with a unique theme and gorgeous views. I was especially interested in dining in a birdcage suspended in the trees at Lutung Kasarung. However, due to time constraints, we had to head straight to the train station. It will definitely be in my itinerary for my next visit to Bandung!

All in all, Bandung was a really nice break from Jakarta city life. Am crossing my fingers I’ll be able to visit Bandung again sometime!

Useful Information:

Recommended lodging: Padma Hotel Bandung (http://www.padmahotelbandung.com/)

Recommended car rental service (comes with driver): Diaz Travelindo                             (http://www.diaztravelindo.com/p/package-and-price.html)