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!

Explore Indonesia #11: 3 Days in UBUD Bali (3-Day Ubud Itinerary)

Early June this year, my parents came up to Jakarta and together, we went for a weekend getaway to Bali. I wanted to spend all of our three days in Ubud because I had already visited Seminyak and Nusa Dua in a previous Bali trip last year. Plus I’ve heard so much about Ubud — Bali’s artistic and traditional homeland.

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Weekend getaway with family in Ubud, Bali.

We stayed at The Purist Villas, a tropical Villa Resort 5 minutes drive from the heart of Ubud. The resort is nestled into natural Balinese surroundings, which can be seen directly from the villas, restaurant and main pool.

Designed with the concept of privacy, comfort, and modern architecture combined with traditional features, our stay there was PURE BLISS.

Day 1

Ubud is most well-known for her stunning and famed rice terraces and the Tegalalang Rice Terrace is a key highlight.

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Tegalalang Rice Terrace, Ubud.

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Beautiful scenes of rice paddies involving traditional Balinese cooperative irrigation system.

This exquisite terrace is located precisely on a hill bank, with a breathtaking valley panorama and coconut trees ornamenting the surroundings.

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Took my breath away.

We followed the locals off-road into the paddy fields and watched them harvest their crops. The Balinese people are a friendly and warmhearted bunch; they waved and smiled happily at us as we passed them by.

We stopped at various points along to way to take pictures, breathe in fresh air, and simply soak in the natural surroundings.

Do wear comfortable walking shoes as there is no proper foot path and weaving your way through the fields may involve navigating some wet steep slopes.

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Some pretty steep steps.

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Enjoying the view and good air.

After our 2.5 hours ‘hike’, we were famished. Lunch was at Kepitu Restaurant, a hidden gem located in The Kayon Resort.

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Kepitu Restaurant, Kayon Resort.

The restaurant design features wood, bamboo and an Alang-Alang grass roof which seamlessly blends in with nature.

From the floating sky roof deck, Kepitu Restaurant boasts a spectacular 180-degree view over the pool and jungle landscape. And a cascading waterfall completes this tropical paradise.

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A view to behold.

Kepitu Restaurant serves a good range of Indonesian cuisine, but have Asian and Western food on their menu too. We tried their Indonesian specialty sets which were good. Here are some food pictures to entice you:

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A relaxing and tranquil dining experience.

After our filling lunch, we were ready to walk off the calories at Campuhan Ridge Walk.

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Campuhan Ridge Walk, Ubud.

Directions to get there: Start your journey at the Warwick Ibah Luxury Villas & Spa on Jalan Campuhan and park your car at the school. Once you see the Campuhan bridge, follow the pathway on the right that leads towards Gunung Lebah Temple and continue until you see a paved road. Walk along the paved road. That is where your adventure begins. 🙂

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A lovely walk with lots of nature to see.

It was an unusually romantic short trek that took us through rice fields, quaint Indonesian huts and exquisitely designed villas.

Butterflies and dogs accompanied us on the leisurely 2-3km stroll, which made it all the more enjoyable. If you’re tired, you can make a pit stop on your way back at Karsa Kafe.

Make sure you stay sufficiently hydrated and apply layers of mozzie repellant!

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A great retreat from hectic city life.

Next up, dinner at Bebek Tepi Sawah Restaurant — a dining experience where it is all about the Bebek (the duck).

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Bebek Tepi Sawah Restaurant.

At the restaurant, you will find duck statues everywhere, ducks splashing around in the pond, and of course the delicious crispy duck on your plate.

Situated at the corner of a picturesque green rice paddy field, you can gaze out from your private pavilion across the rows of little rice plants and listen to the gentle buzz of the surrounding nature.

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Dining with nature at its very best.

Bebek Tepi Sawah Restaurant serves a wide selection of cuisine, including contemporary western and innovative Indonesian/Balinese specialties. One must-try is the legendary Bebek Betutu or Balinese smoked duck. The crispy duck with sambal was awesome too. (My stomach is growling as I type this.)

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All ready to conquer the ducks!

Day 2

We started off our second day in Ubud at the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary.

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Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, Ubud.

You can enter the monkey forest through one of three gates: the main gate at the southern end of Monkey Forest Rd; from 100m further east near the car park; or from the southern side near Nyuh kuning.

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Hello there!!

The sanctuary is inhabited by a band of over 600 grey-haired (and greedy!) long-tailed Balinese macaques who are a far cry from the innocent-looking doe-eyed monkeys on the brochures.

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“If you’re not gonna listen to Mama, I’ll pull your tail.”

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Basking in the sun.

We were super amused at how intelligent the monkeys were, especially on matters pertaining to bananas. I saw one monkey pull down a man’s shorts (!!!) to steal the banana that was tucked in his boxers and another reach into a lady’s pocket to retrieve a banana.

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Mission accomplished – BANANAS.

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Towering ancient trees at Money Forest.

We had lunch at Swept Away Restaurant (located in Samaya Resort), by far one of the best restaurants of the entire trip — both in terms of ambiance and food.

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Took a buggy ride down to Swept Away Restaurant, Samaya Resort.

A wooden deck at Swept Away is just inches from the mighty Ayung River – sit back, unwind and let your worries get swept away as you dine along the riverside surrounded by lush greenery.

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Ayung River.

The meal started on a good note with complimentary bread that was super fluffy, soft and warm. Not to mention the amazing butter!!!

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Complimentary bead and butter.

Swept Away serves a varied and eclectic menu with various menu options throughout the day: breakfast menu, light lunch menu, small bites menu serving Asian-style tapas, and two dinner menus (a la carte and degustation).

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Lunch at Swept Away.

All our mains and dishes for sharing were made to perfection and our tummies were really happy.

After lunch, we went down to the riverside to take photos and bask in the cool sea breeze.

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Fun fact: The Ayung River is the longest river (75km!) on the Indonesian island of Bali.

We also explored the grounds of Samaya Resort, which overlooks some gorgeous paddy fields. If I ever visit Ubud again, I will be very tempted to stay a couple of nights at The Samaya Ubud. 🙂

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Wouldn’t you love waking up to this!

After lunch, we headed to the Tegenungan Waterfall in Gianyar. From the viewing deck, you can see the majestic waterfall in the distance.

However, for a closer sight, you would need to descend the stairs down the river. If you have knee problems or have many young children with you, I’d advise not going down. The stairs are steep and the climb back up is treacherous.

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“165 steps up. Good luck.”

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Dad and mom decided not to follow us all the way down.

That said, Tegenungan waterfall is a dazzlingly refreshing retreat in Ubud. The rich green surroundings and perfectly flowing fresh water make a beautiful sight for all.

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Tegenungan Waterfall, Ubud.

I saw many tourists take a dip in the river; some adventurous ones even jumped into the waterfall from a 15 meters height. If you’re thinking of swimming/frolicking in the river, there are shower facilities where you can change.

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Love the sounds and the power of pounding water.

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Kopi Luwak Tea stop before dinner.

After all that climbing of stairs to see Tegenungan waterfall, we were in a dire need of some protein. Dinner was at Warung Ibu Oka, a place famous for its Babi Guling (Balinese-style whole roasted suckling pig).

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Giving us a warm welcome to Warung Ibu Oka.

To make Babi Guling, the entire pig is stuffed with a combination of spices used in traditional Indonesian cooking including turmeric, coriander seeds, lemon grass and more.

Usually, the Babi Guling is served up in big chunks in a rattan bowl with rice, fried intestines, spicy vegetables and Ibu Oka’s secret sauce. Unfortunately, by the time we got there around 7 p.m., most of the stuff (Babi Guling included) were sold out.

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Babi Guling and vegetables were sold out. 😦

We were left with limited choices and the dinner wasn’t fantastic. The only consolation was that Agent D and I made friends with many of the resident dogs of Ibu Oka.

Such cuties!!! ❤ ❤ ❤

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Dinner companions for the night.

Day 3

Time always flies when you’re holidaying and day 3 marked our last day in Ubud. SOBS. Before checking out of the villa, we took a dip in the pool.

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One with nature.

After all the sightseeing, day 3 was reserved specially for SHOPPING (much to Agent D’s dismay). We headed down to Ubud Traditional Art Market, locally referred to as ‘Pasar Seni Ubud’, to search for unique handcrafted souvenirs to take home with us.

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Ubud Traditional Art Market.

Ubud Traditional Art Market sells loads of stuff — silk scarves, batik, silver jewelry, paintings, woven bags, wooden house decor, and the list goes on. Most of the goods are made in the neighbouring villages of Pengosekan, Tegallalang, Payangan and Peliatan.

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Shopping streets.

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Handmade dogs for sale, anyone?

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Section of the market that was burnt down by a huge fire in 2016.

Fun fact: there was a scene in Hollywood movie Eat Pray Love where actress Julia Roberts and a male character were filmed strolling through the stalls. 😉

Oh and don’t forget to bargain at the market! As the place can get very crowded in the day, keep your bag in front of you at all times with the zipper closed.

Some of my shopping loot:

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Hand-painted flower portrait.

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Wooden tray for remote controls/drinks.

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A family of 3 giraffes, carved by hand.

Our last lunch in Ubud was at Bridges Bali, a lovely restaurant to close our trip.

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Bridges Bali Restaurant.

Bridges is situated at the end of the two Campuhan Bridges, and nestled right in the valley overlooking the River Wos. Hence the restaurant’s motto ‘Where worlds meet’.

There are 7 distinctive levels where you can choose to dine on; whether you are settled and relaxed on the terraces surrounded by tranquil greenery or down by the riverside, I guarantee you an enjoyable meal.

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Take the spiral staircase up or down to the level of your choice.

We chose one of the uppermost levels where we could gaze out across the picturesque valley as we dined.

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Interior of the restaurant with a backdrop of greenery.

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Showing us to our seat.

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Awatch as the outside world continues on the bridges above you.

Their food was fantastic, every dish was cooked to perfection.

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Table flat lay of all the food we ordered.

Along with the ambiance, lunch at Bridges Bali was indulgent and memorable dining at its best!

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An indulgent lunch against nature’s landscape.

Thank you for following me on this adventure! xx

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Now what’s next? 🙂

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

Singapura May trippin’

By now you must be wondering…just how often do you go back to Singapore?! Well, about once a month actually. One of the things I’m most thankful for about Agent D’s posting to Jakarta is distance. 🙂

A one way trip to Singapore takes slightly under 1.5 hours by air. When you factor in the taking off and landing, toilet trips, announcements, etc, it is hard to even complete one movie in the plane (!). In fact, travelling 5km within Jakarta (with macet) would take 1.5 hours or more heh.

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Hello there, sunny island!

So anywayyy…I went back this time mainly for Adeline’s wedding but also to spend time with family and friends. Here are some pictures from the beautiful union of #Shaunade:

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Their Holy Matrimony was held at the charming Arts House (formerly Old Parliament House).

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Managed to steal a shot with the glowing bride before her first march in.

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A sacred moment. 😉

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Team Bride! Before rushing off to the hotel to set up.

Props & Crafts transformed the entire hotel reception area into the prettiest botanical garden EVER. They do customized props rental for all occasions/settings — bridal showers, baby showers, proposals, photo shoots, dessert tables, and of course weddings. Perfect for lazy people like me who cannot DIY for nuts.

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Together is a beautiful place to be. Aww.

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Photo table.

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Well wishes table + letters from the couple to their guests.

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Walking down memory lane with #shaunade.

As with all weddings, I was really happy to see and catch up with friends (some of whom I haven’t seen since I moved to Jakarta).

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With the whole bridal crew.

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awkwardzzz.

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Team Groom.

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Serene’s getting married in June and I’m counting down to that one.

I also managed to see lil’ baby Asaph for the very first time. He’s such a sweetheart, with such tiny toes and fingers. Congrats Josh and Cheryl – may God grant you both wisdom and love in raising Asaph. x

Weddings and friends aside, I managed to satisfy some of my many food cravings. Time spent in Singapore is always so short and I take my meal planning very seriously.

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Fried carrot cake (Chai tow kway) is an all-time favourite.

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Photos don’t do this justice. Fried hokkien mee from Tian Tian Lai, which I waited 45 minutes for.

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So simple yet so good. Economical bee hoon from Sembawang Hills Food Centre.

There definitely was more food that went into my tummy but I was either too hungry to take a picture, or my hands were oilyyy (some food simply tastes better with hands).

Not forgetting, precious time spent with my favouritest family + savouring every bit of home cooked meals. ❤

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Continue staying healthy and happy, Mama.

And before I know it, I find myself bidding farewell to Singapore again. Did the weekend just pass me by?

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Singapore Changi Airport.

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

2nd March Trip to Singapore

This March, I flew back to Singapore on two consecutive weekends with only 4 days in Jakarta in between. Bad planning on my end. :/ As usual, there is always so much to do but so little time to spare in Singapore.

My first trip back was mainly to celebrate the love of Pam+Hon Inn as well as welcome new beginnings — Adeline’s hens party and Cheryl’s baby shower. (You can read more about it here: Back Home)

For keepsake — some photo memories of my second visit home:

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Got super excited seeing Singapore in the near distance!!

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Home at my favourite airport.

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First meal upon landing – steamed chicken dipped in ginger sauce and wrapped in lettuce. PURE YUM.

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The entire stretch of Orchard Rd has pretty much changed except #1 TANGS.

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and #2 Takashimaya (please stay this way forever!).

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Old school ice-cream cart against modern Ion.

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Catch up with friends I’ve not seen in ages #1 Hazel. Its been a year (??!) since we last met.

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and #2 Shumin. I think its been 1.5 years. 😦

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Lunch with Agent D at Candlenut – the world’s first Michelin-starred Peranakan restaurant. 

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Mama Lee (93 y.o.) working on her daily colouring. Although she no longer recognizes me, I am thankful that she’s healthy, eats well, and ever so cheerful. 

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Steamboat on a cold rainy night with great company.

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L Dearest – circa 2004.

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Last meal in SG with mom before heading to the airport.

“What i like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.”Karl Lagerfeld

And I find myself back in Jakarta again battling the intense traffic. 🙂

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

Weekend Trip to Miri, Sarawak

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Singapore Changi Airport.

Last weekend, My college friend (Greg) got married to his sweetheart (Val). As Val is from Miri, the couple decided to hold their wedding celebrations there.

I flew back to Singapore on Thursday night and was back at the airport on Friday morning to take the flight out to Miri. With work and family commitments in recent years, it’s been a long while since my JC friends and I travelled together. Thus we were all really looking forward to this short getaway.

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The whole Miri gang (the flight consisted mainly of Greg’s contingent of friends and relatives).

Greg and Val lovingly planned out an itinerary for all their guests:

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Wedding itinerary.

For most of us, it was our virgin trip to Miri, a coastal city in northeastern Sarawak. Located really close to Brunei, Miri covers an area of 997.43 square kilometres with a population of 234,541.

We decided to stay at Pullman Waterfront as most of the wedding festivities were held there. Here’s an aerial view of Miri from our hotel.

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Coastal city of Miri.

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We spotted many locals fishing and having a picnic along the banks.

We didn’t get to explore the city much as there wasn’t time to do so. But we managed to have loads of bonding time together, just like old times. 🙂

DAY 1

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It’s always hard to take a group picture…

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ALAS, FINALLY!

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Dinner and drinks at The Hangover 2.

DAY 2

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Roomies for this trip.

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Managed to catch Greg before he headed off to church.

Everything in Miri seems to be really close by; all our to-and-fro journeys (airport included) were within a travelling distance of 15 minutes. Feels really weird not having to sit in a vehicle for longer than 30 minutes! #JakartaWoes

The wedding ceremony took place at Canada Hill Church, a 10 minute drive from Pullman. Here are some snippets:

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Greg’s entourage (his granny is so well-preserved!).

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Val’s entourage.

To me, the most important part of any wedding celebration is actually the Holy Matrimony – watching the couple come before God in the presence of many witnesses to seal their love for each other.

“Happy is the man who finds a true friend, and far happier is he who finds that true friend in his wife.” – Franz Schubert

We are so happy you found the love of your life, Greg! Congrats and big love to you both!!

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Too up-close for comfort.

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Friends for 13 years and counting!

The dinner reception was an unconventional but heartwarming one. Clad in the traditional costume of Val’s tribe, the couple put up an entertaining performance for everyone.

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With the happy couple in their tribal costumes.

There was loads of singing and dancing with more than half of the guests (many in their 50s and 60s) heading to the dance floor to do their thang. Not to mention Greg’s hilarious brother/emcee, who got all the Malaysians, Singaporeans and Aussies in the house laughing themselves silly.

Although there was no customary round table photo-taking, the photo booth was more than enough for the night.

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Enjoying the photo booth to the fullest.

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Brings to mind the good ol’ neoprint days.

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Our own table photo!

And so this sums up my weekend stay in Miri. 🙂

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Home sweet home.

I stayed in Singapore for one more day before heading back to Jakarta on Monday morning. Poor Agent D was surviving off cup noodles and takeaways in my absence and I wanted to return to cook him a home-cooked meal. 🙂

I’m already looking forward to the next getaway…I wonder when that’ll be though? I hope your weekend was a good one. x

Explore Indonesia #9: A Hidden Gem in Belitung (Seychelles of Asia)

Sorry I’ve been MIA-ing for so long! I was pretty occupied the past two weeks and couldn’t find time to sit down and update. Today, I’m staying in because there is a mass demonstration by Islamic hardliners happening around Jakarta. Am praying that peace will reign in Indonesia. For more information:

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/indonesia-on-high-alert-for-nov-4-protest-against-jakarta/3249324.html

http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/thousands-of-muslim-hardliners-to-rally-in-jakarta-over-alleged-blasphemy-by-governor


So last week, Ivana and I made an impromptu decision to visit the secret tropical paradise of Belitung. We booked our air tickets and hotel just four days before and off we went!

Belitung is almost like the Seychelles of Asia, with its unique and beautiful granite rock formations all over the island. Its beaches have fine white sand surrounded by pristine waters a brilliant shade of turquoise. And the best thing yet – it is only one hour by flight from Jakarta! 🙂 🙂 🙂

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Belitung, Seychelles of Asia. #nofilter

We didn’t want to rush around ‘seeing’ things and decided to take things easy for our three (two full) days there.

Our first stop was the magical Kaolin Lake – a world of white and blue formed from extreme mining activity decades ago. Isn’t it such a beautiful irony?

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Kaolin Lake.

After checking into the hotel, we spent some time exploring the city centre. Belitung is pretty untouched by tourism and is not as commercialized as Bali.

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Belitung, city centre.

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There are no malls in Belitung, only shops like these.

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A must-try in Belitung – Mie Belitung Atep.

We spent the latter half of the day hiding from the rain at the BW suites bar, which has a lovely view.

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Fries by the pool/sea.

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Rain, rain, please go away!

Thankfully the rain cleared up after three (!!!) hours. According to the locals, it is the rainy season now and heavy showers can last for an entire day. I guess we should count ourselves lucky.

We headed to Tanjung Tinggi Beach to catch the sunset + have dinner by the beach.

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Tanjung Tinggi Beach.

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Such cloudyyy skies.

Tanjung Tinggi is one of the more popular Belitung beaches after being featured in the Indonesian movie, Laskar Pelangi (The Rainbow Troops). The film was the highest-grossing in Indonesian box office history and won a number of local and international awards.

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HUGE granite boulders.

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So this is how an ant feels like…

Dinner was a short walk away at Lemadang Seafood and Grill. A boardwalk connects the restaurant to the beachfront. One can opt to sit by the beach and enjoy the fresh breeze over dinner, which we did.

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Sun finally setting over the sea.

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Dinner under the stars. 🙂

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Highlight of our meal – seafood soup in coconut.

The dishes were simple but delicious. Our tummies were filled with happiness. 🙂

We woke up early the next day for our island hopping tour with Street Taxi (IDR 400K for a private boat/day). The islands of Belitung are simply gorgeous! I’ll let pictures do the talking…

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Pulau Lengkuas from afar.

Pulau Lengkuas is a small clean island surrounded by big rocks and dreamy white sand. The many big palm trees around the island provide shady spots for a picnic and allow you to seek respite from the sweltering heat.

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Setting foot on the island.

Pulau Lengkuas has an iconic lighthouse, which was recently re-painted without any change to its historical interior.

Do not skip climbing up to the top-most storey of the lighthouse — awaiting you is a view to behold like no other. Just standing there and taking in the vast expanse of the ocean to infinity and beyond = BREATHTAKING.

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Thank God for the good weather – sun hiding behind the cotton candy clouds.

We snorkelled around Pulau Lengkuas and saw many cute fishes and beautiful corals.

Our next stop was Pulau Kepayang, home to a conservation centre that promotes eco-tourism. Baby turtles are kept there till they’re big enough to be set free into the sea.

One can also dive, snorkel, or canoe around the lovely island.

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Picturesque Seychelles-like boulders and pristine turquoise waters.

The guy who took us around the island told us that he has been staying on the island for years. He loves taking photos and reads up on photography techniques at night because there is simply nothing to do on the island. At that point, I loaned him my camera so he could hone his skills.

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Photo taken by our island friend.

Whilst waiting for lunch to be ready, we explored the granite boulders tucked away on the other side of the island (all photos taken by our enthusiastic photographer).

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Take #1: In the waters.

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Take #2: My ANTM moment.

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Take #3: Up on a boulder.

And more photos…

We were super duper hungry towards the end of our ‘photo shoot’. Thankfully lunch was ready in good time. We ordered our lunch (IDR 110k/pax) through Street Taxi because it is apparently cheaper than ordering on the island itself.

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A feast by the sea – cooked by our two boatmen.

After lunch, we stopped by Pulau Kelayang to see its caves.

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Mesmerizing blue.

Just before boarding our boat, we caught sight of a starfish!!! This little one was washed up to shore along with the receding tide.

From a distance, I saw some thoughtless tourists remove a starfish from the sea. To my dismay, they were taking turns to take selfies with the starfish!! :/ [Note: Starfish are a delicate species that cannot survive out of water for long.]

We headed back to the hotel to wash up thereafter. Dinner was at Belitung Timpo Duluk, which serves traditional Belitung-styled dinner.

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Belitung Timpo Duluk.

The interior of the restaurant is homely yet quaint and vintage at the same time. And there’s AIR-CON (!!!) inside, a rare find in Belitung.

You have to try their speciality ‘Dulang Set’, which consists of gangan ikan (fish head), ayam ketumbar (coriander chicken), sate ikan (fish satay), atiampela (gizzard and heart innards), lalapan (raw vegetable salad) and sambal serai (lemongrass hot sauce). #sogoodANDawesome

I cannot remember the exact price of the Dulang Set but it was very reasonable.

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What’s cooking?! Surrprissssse!

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Great meal to end off our Belitung stay.

You’ve been nothing short of ah-maaazing, Belitung! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

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And thank you, Ivana, for coming along this adventure with me! 😉

Explore Indonesia #6: Day Trip to Bogor, Short Getaway from Jakarta

Last Sunday, Elaine and I took a day trip out of Jakarta to Bogor for some fresh air. Bogor is a city in the West Java province. Located around 60 km south of Jakarta, we took slightly over an hour to get there. We left home around 8 a.m. and reached Bogor around 9.15 a.m. (traffic and weather were very kind to us that day).

On our drive there, we caught sight of faraway mountains in the distant background, which was really a majestic sight to behold. 🙂

Bogor Botanical Gardens

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Lovin’ the green grounds and fresh air.

The city of Bogor has a presidential palace and a botanical garden (Kebun Raya Bogor) adjacent to each other – one of the oldest and largest in the world. Our first stop for the day was the Bogor Botanical Gardens.

Fun fact: It is the oldest botanical garden in Southeast Asia (woah never knew that!).

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Inside the Gardens.

The Bogor Botanical Garden is located right smack in the Bogor city center. The main gate is located in the south and most of the garden facilities are concentrated there, such as the ticket purchasing booth, visitor center, plant/souvenir shops, library and conservation building.

The Gardens stretches over an area of 87 hectares and contains 13,983 specimens of trees and plants. There’s plenty of space to run/jog around, play a game of frisbee or soccer, fly some kites, or even have a picnic.

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Many picture-perfect spots.

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Locals having a picnic under a shady tree.

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Well manicured trees and lawn.

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Nice flat paths to walk/jog on.

The Bogor Botanical Garden is divided by the Ciliwung river and has three bridges. One of the bridges, the Red Bridge, is a pretty famous ‘attraction’ in the garden. Indonesians believe that if a couple crossed the bridge together, they would break up soon after (for real?!!). :/

One of my favourite spots is a place called the Mexican Garden – dedicated to all kinds of desert plants.

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Mexican Garden (Taman Meksiko).

There are approximately 100 species of cactus, agave, yucca and succulent plants from around Asia and the Americas. I never knew that succulents could be so pretty!!

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We-fie with our succulent friends.

Another must-see place is Astrid Park, located at the eastern wing of the Gardens. The park offers a splendid view,  with the bright colours of green, yellow, and red (from canna lilies) spread out across the garden grounds.

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Beautiful Astrid Park.

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Only missing my picnic mat.

If you feel like soaking in the panoramic view of the garden over a cuppa coffee/fruit juice, drop by Grand Garden Cafe situated in Astrid Park itself. Seems like the perfect place for a good read too.

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Grand Garden Cafe.

Before leaving the Gardens, Elaine and I dropped by the Gunting Pond. One can see dozens of pink lotus flowers floating on the surface of the pond, a really enchanting sight!

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Floating pink lotus flowers with the presidential palace in the backdrop.

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Shady walkway leading up to Gunting Pond.

Although passers-by are not allowed to enter the Bogor Palace  (unless you have special permission from the Indonesian State Secretariat), one can catch sight of the presidential palace from the Gunting Pond. The pond fronts the backyard of the Palace.

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Bogor Palace in the distance.

There are so many things that I wanted to see but didn’t manage to in the limited time frame — Bogor Zoology Museum, orchid glasshouses and orchidarium, Teijsmann Garden, Soedjana Kassan Garden, guesthouses, etc etc. And not forgetting, the northwestern part of the Gardens where herds of deer roam freely!!

I’ll definitely be back to visit Bogor Botanical Gardens again, perhaps with Agent D the next time round.

Both Elaine and myself had a great time at the Bogor Botanical Gardens. It is a must-go if you have never been there! ❤

Shopping at Bogor Factory Outlets

Apart from Bandung, Bogor has quite a reputation for factory outlet shopping as well. The outlets carry brands like Zara, Guess, H&M, Mango, and Adidas.

Elaine and I only managed to stop by Raja Factory Outlet before lunch. It is one of the newer kids on the block for bargain shopping in Bogor and carries apparels, shoes, and accessories in a two-storey building. Ladies and kids wear can be found on the ground floor whilst menswear is on the second floor.

Exterior of Raja Factory Outlet (photo credit: Raja F.O.)

Don’t have too high expectations; I personally found the fashion a little backdated. I did manage to buy some sportswear (Nike dri-fit shirts for Agent D and Pilates tights for myself) for a real steal though! *HAPPPPY*

Raja Factory Outlet can be found on No. 3 RT02/RW04, Jl. Raya Pajajaran, Jawa Barat 16143.

Read more about outlet shopping in Bogor in this article by honeycombers: Bogor Bargains. Enjoy! x

To-eat in Bogor

A friend recommended Sahabat Yunsin Resto to have lunch at when in Bogor. The place didn’t disappoint – food was good and prices were inexpensive.

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Sahabat Yunsin Resto.

The restaurant was a no-frills kind of place but the food preparation looked clean. According to my friend, their Mee Ayam and Mee Babat are popular choices and you can choose to have them either salty or sweet (asin/manis).

Elaine and I both ordered their Mee Ayam Baso (salty) and enjoyed every bit of it. The sauces weren’t overpowering, but it was tasty.

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My Mee Ayam Baso (salty) with ice Milo.

Sahabat Yunsin Resto has a few outlets around Bogor. The one I went to was on Jalan Jenderal. Sudirman No.12, Sempur, Bogor Tengah, Bogor.

After lunch and a filled tummy, we headed back to Jakarta around 3+ p.m. Traffic was great and we arrived back home in 1.5 hours.

Thanks for being so good to us, Bogor! Till we meet again!! 🙂 🙂 🙂