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!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

Explore Indonesia #3: Cultural City of Yogyakarta

About 3 weeks ago, I noticed on the calendar that a long weekend (Easter) was coming up. WHOOOOOP. I casually asked Agent D if we should travel out of Jakarta and to my surprise, he said “Yeah, why not?”. Upon hearing that, I quickly booked our air tickets and hotel (yes, all within a night) to seal the deal.

We settled on Yogyakarta because we’ve heard so much about it from our friends and also because it was just a one-hour flight away from Jakarta. Few days before our trip, I spent some time researching on places to check out in Yogyakarta – primarily that of food and attractions. Here’s what we did. 🙂

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Exploring the old streets of Yogyakarta.

Day 1:

By the time our plane landed in Yogyakarta around 10 a.m., Agent D’s stomach was growling real bad. We had woken up at 5 a.m.earlier in the morning and in our mad rush to the airport, did not have any time for breakfast. Garuda Airlines only offered a puny bun during the flight which was not enough to satisfy a hungry growing boy.

We arranged for a driver to pick us up from the airport and went straight down to Roaster & Bear for brunch. Roaster and Bear is an absolutely lovely two-story cafe lined with glass windows, white walls, and wooden furniture. Their entire theme revolves around bears (as their name says it) — BEARY INSTAGRAMMABLE indeed.

Whilst waiting for our food to come, I went around taking photos of the cafe. Agent D really liked this poster and insisted I take a photo of it (which is really rare, he seldom takes a fancy to cutesy stuff).

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I LOVE YOU BEARY MUCH (AWW).

Alas our food arrived! I told Agent D to wait for a few minutes while I snapped some photos of the food. He obliged with a weak smile but I could tell from the corner of my eye he was just waiting to pounce on the food hehe.

The food was not bad. I liked my pumpkin soup (which had a sweetish tinge) and tuna sandwich. If only the onion rings were more crumbly though. Agent D felt that his scallop pasta would have been much better with fresh scallops instead of frozen scallops. But then again, we would be paying a premium for that.

By the way, food in Yogyakarta is REALLY AFFORDABLE (1/2 the prices of Jakarta and 1/4 the prices of my home country). And this is true even for nice restaurants in 5-star hotels. Here’s a picture of the menu for your reference. 🙂

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Roaster and Bear Menu.

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Just had to take a picture against this cute wall.

After our very filling lunch, we proceeded to Mount Merapi. Translated as “Mountain of Fire” in Javanese, Mount Merapi is the most active volcano in Asia. It has erupted at least 68 times since 1548 and the most recent eruption in 2010 left 30 dead. SCARYYY. On our journey there, I prayed a silent prayer that 25 March 2016 was not going to be the next eruption in history. (Apparently, it erupts every 5-6 years which means an eruption is due anytime soon!)

We rented a jeep and a local guide to bring us around for 1.5 hours (IDR 350K). You’ll see many jeep companies at the base camp all offering the same kind of tours. Pick any one!

It was really fun zipping through the gravel-filled paths, up and down steep slopes, with the wind in our hair. Agent D stood up as our jeep went down a slope and started laughing so hard, he couldn’t stop. Being risk adverse, I decided to stay put on my seat for the whole tour.

Our Merapi Lava Tour consisted of 3 stops — Museum Sisa Hartaku (My Remaining Treasure Museum), Alien stone, and Bunker. Here’s us acting cool with our dashing red jeep.

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Outside Museum Sisa Hartaku.

Museum Sisa Hartaku (first stop) is within an actual house that was partially destroyed by the Merapi eruption in 2010. Everyday items such as bicycles, toys, televisions, furniture and cutlery are on display at the museum. From the items, one can catch a glimpse of the sad extent of the destruction and the impact it had on people’s lives.

 Just look at how the televisions melted because of the hot ash cloud. 😦

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Deformed televisions.

For me, this clock was an especially poignant reminder of the Merapi eruption on 5 November 2010. Due to the intense heat, the hands of the clock  were embedded into the clock surface at the point of eruption. Frozen in time, literally.

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12.05 p.m., Friday.

Along the way, we passed by abandoned dilapidated houses. Our guide told us that a number of villages were affected by the eruption and many houses still remain in ruins to this day.

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The 2010 Merapi eruption destroyed the homes of many.

Alien stone (a HUMONGOUS stone) was hurled out of the crater during the eruption. Not quite sure how it managed to travel such a long distance to land here. But it did. Looks more like a mini stone hill to me. 

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Us with Alien Stone.

Our third and last stop, Bunker, had a lovely view of Mount Merapi. Thankfully it was a pretty clear day and we managed to see the towering volcano in all its majestic grandeur. Agent D and I felt this was the best part of the tour; it reminded us that He who created the mountains – nothing/no situation is too big for him.

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Taking a moment to soak in God’s wonderful creation.

“The mountains melt beneath him
    and the valleys split apart,
like wax before the fire,
    like water rushing down a slope.” Micah 1:4

We decided to head to Borobudur next. Borobudur is the world’s largest Buddhist temple as well as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Many people come to Yogyakarta with the main intent of visiting Borobudur.

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It was raining cats and dogs when we first got out of the car so we rented 2 big umbrellas from the locals. My jeans were soaking wet 5 minutes into walking towards Borobudur. :/

The monument consists of nine stacked platforms, six square and three circular, topped by a central dome. It’s amazing how the builders of those times put everything together by hand, without any cranes or scaffolding!

I read somewhere that Borobodur was forgotten for hundreds of years, and lay buried under jungle foliage and volcanic ash. Historians deduce that this may have been due to the religious shift to Islam in the 15th century.

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The view from the top of Borobudur.

The rain tapered off towards the end so we managed to take a photo without the umbrellas over our heads. YAY.

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We ended the night with dinner at Stupa Restaurant by Plataran, a 15-minutes drive from Borobudur. The moment we stepped out of the car, we were like WOW. SO PRETTY.

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Dinner with a view.

The outdoor terrace offers breathtaking green scenery of Menoreh hills and rice paddy fields. Digging into our warm food whilst soaking in the view was an awesome experience. Sadly, it got dark soon after and all I could see were some faraway stars. 😦

The food was so-so only (maybe because we ordered Chinese food instead of Indonesian food heh) and a tad on the salty side. The duck was quite tough to bite!

Prices were on the steeper side, but still affordable nonetheless. If anything, go for the view. Its worth it. Here’s the menu for your reference:

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Stupa Restaurant Menu.

Day 2:

Agent D and I were so tired towards the end of day 1 that we decided to take day 2 slower. Our Yogyakarta trip was meant to be a relaxing getaway from Jakarta and the last thing we wanted was returning to Jakarta on Sunday night even more tired than before. SLOW DOWN, DEB. You don’t have to see everything.

We decided to sleep in on day 2 and left for the Kraton of Yogyakarta at 10.30 a.m. It was really crowded (and hot) by the time we reached around noon time.

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Emblem of the Yogyakarta Kraton.

The kraton is a palace complex which is the main seat of the Sultan of Yogyakarta and his family. It serves as a cultural center for the local Javanese people and contains a museum that displays the sultanate’s artifacts. The Kraton’s architecture contains a mix of Buddhist, Islamic and Hindi elements.

There are approximately 2000 palace guards at the Kraton, out of which only 1000ish are active. I ran into a tea lady who is responsible for preparing tea for the royal family at various times of the day. She told me that she’s currently 7o+ years old and has worked at the palace since a very young age; her parents were palace workers too. And so are her children.

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With a palace tea lady. She carries a dagger in front of her chest, don’t play play!

Our next stop was Taman Sari, a short 5-minutes drive from the Kraton. It was built mainly for the Sultan’s pleasure; only females (his MANY wives, NUMEROUS concubines, and daughters) and the sultan himself were allowed to enter the central bathing complex.

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Entrance of the Taman Sari.

The central tower in the central bathing complex was used by the sultan to observe his daughters and concubines bathing in the pool. :/

I find it a real pity that the Kraton and Taman Sari have not been well-maintained over the years. Many of the walls had paint peeling off and growing algae, the artifacts did not have proper English translations, and the insides were not well-lit (some areas did not even have lights and we were walking around in total darkness!). Sad sights of once glorious places. If only more effort was put into the upkeep and preservation of both places – I’m sure they’ll be an even bigger hit with tourists.

We din’t stay long at Taman Sari but spent more time exploring the Kampung Taman settlement. I really enjoyed walking around the colourful houses and observing the people’s way of life.

The residents of Kampung Taman are best known for their traditional handicrafts and many of them sell craft and batik from their homes.

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A lady hand-making a piece of batik outside her shop/home.

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Spotted a raccoon snoozing in one of the convenience stores (sorry for waking you up mister!).

I was happily walking around the stores in search for the perfect batik dress when I heard Agent D’s stomach rumble. GRRROOOWWWL. I glanced at my watch and omg it was 2.30 p.m.! Time was flying by so fast. We called our driver and headed to Mediterranea Restaurant for lunch. BEST CHOICE EVER.

Touted as one of the best french restaurants in Yogyakarta and rated #3 of 723 Restaurants in Yogyakarta, Mediterranea truly lives up to its name.

With a homey ambience and small bar, Mediterranea comes off as an unpretentious French restaurant. I felt that even if I folded my legs on the chair and put my elbows down on the table – no would would judge me. The restaurant has nice surrounds for dining with an atrium (a covered garden) out at the back.

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Hungry and tired.

We were both very hungry and over-ordered (again). The food was authentically french and tasted yummy. Best thing yet — the prices. For all the food we ordered, out total bill came up to IDR 289K (S$30)! Very reasonable right. 🙂 🙂

The duck confit with mashed potatoes was our favourite! The duck was cooked just right and was paired together with grilled eggplant (beneath it). The mashed potatoes had bits of risotto in them…SO GOOD.

Both Agent D and myself were in food coma mode after lunch and decided to go back to the hotel. After resting for 2 hours, we freshened up and headed down to Jalan Malioboro for some shopping (what’s a holiday trip without shopping right – much to Agent D’s dismay hehe).

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Jam-packed streets of Jalan Malioboro.

Jalan Malioboro is one of the icons of Yogyakarta. Many small eateries, batik and souvenir shops can be found there. There wasn’t anything much for us to buy (apart from my batik dress) but it was nice to just soak in the atmosphere by taking a slow stroll down the street. Tourists can also opt to sit in a becak (rickshaw) or delman (horse carriage) at night.

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In search of a pretty batik dress.

Dinner was at Hikaru Dining Japanese Restaurant, a cosy Japanese establishment near to our hotel. Juliana was just commenting that I seem to eat all kinds of food in Indonesia (French, Japanese, Western, Chinese, etc) – all except Indonesian cuisine. Haha that is so true. Not sure why I never have a craving for Indonesian food. The only time I eat Indonesian cuisine is when friends come to visit.

The food at Hikaru was decently good for the prices we paid. Their chef is apparently certified by Singapore Health Association (is there such an association in Singapore?!) and they’ve won a number of awards in earlier years. Impressssive.

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Here are some pictures of the interior of the restaurant:

And some photos of our comfort food:

I totally forgot to take a picture of my salmon head soup. Only realised it after I had dug out the poor salmon’s eyeballs and cheek meat (yes, I love fish eyeballs) which didn’t look too appetizing after. Agent D liked his ramen and their baked salmon roll was as good as the one in Sushi Tei.

Day 3:

Day 3 in Yogyakarta happened to be Easter Sunday. I woke up earlier before the alarm clock rang and decided to peer out of the hotel window to see if I could catch the sunrise. A brightly lit cloud amidst a blue unlit sky greeted me.

Psalms 146:6 came to mind: He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them– he remains faithful forever.

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Easter Sunday morning. Christ is risen!!!

I went back to bed thereafter only to wake up again at 9.30 a.m. After breakfast, Agent D and I went for a leisurely swim at the hotel pool downstairs. It had been a lonnnnng time since I last swam and after 3 laps, I was kinda panting and had to stop by the side to catch my breath. Sigh time to start exercising again.

As our flight was only in the late afternoon, we decided to go for some SPA pampering at De Wave Spa after checking out of the hotel. I had a 60 minutes full body massage + 20 minutes face massage whilst Agent D went for a 90 minutes full body massage with greater focus on the back. SHIOK.

As seen from the receipt above, the total cost of both our treatments was IDR 220K (S$23). WORTH IT RIGHT?! It is even more affordable than my usual massage package in Jakarta! So happy.:) After our massage, we had a slow lunch at the hotel and then headed to the airport.

Both Agent D and myself really enjoyed our time in Yogyakarta and we’re thinking of making another weekend trip sometime within our posting. Next time round, we hope to do more adventurous stuff like cave tubing and abseiling into Jomplang Cave (which I heard is really fun!).

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Us on the plane. Up, up, and away!

Come to Yogyakarta if you’re seeking a short getaway without burning a hole in your pocket. It won’t disappoint! x


Useful Information:

Recommended lodging: Grand Aston Yogyakarta (https://www.aston-international.com/eng/hotel-detail/73/grand-aston-yogyakarta)

Recommended car rental service (comes with driver): Ukhi (http://yogyadriver.com/)

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!

Explore Indonesia #2: Taman Safari & Puncak

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In my past 7 months in Jakarta, I’ve gone up to Puncak and Bogor (Taman Safari) twice – the first time with Agent D (Sept 2015) and the second time with my parents (Feb 2016). I always find it a nice getaway from the hustle and bustle of Jakarta. As Puncak and Taman Safari are both on higher ground, the air there is much fresher and cooler. Barring rain, it feels almost like the nice spring-summer weather one gets in temperate regions.

I went with Agent D on a weekend and with my parents on a weekday. And what a world of difference that made in terms of TRAFFIC. With Agent D, we left Jakarta at 6 a.m. on a Saturday and only arrived at Taman Safari around 9.30 a.m. (3.5 hours on the road). With my parents, we left Jakarta at 8 a.m. on a Wednesday and arrived ALSO at 9.30 a.m (a whole 2 hours less!). If you’re visiting Jakarta and thinking of heading to Puncak/ Taman Safari for a day trip, GO ON A WEEKDAY. On weekends, one lane (there are only two lanes, each in one direction) gets closed and the closure of the two lanes is alternated. This means that if the road you are on happens to be closed, your vehicle CANNOT MOVE at all. That happened to us and we were in a stationary car for over an hour. I remember having a strong urge to pee but there were no toilets around!!!

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Waiting in the car for the road to open.

Taman Safari

When nearing the Taman Safari entrance, you’ll see many vendors selling carrots. You can buy them to feed the animals. BUY LOADS. Trust me, the animals loveeee carrots. The entrance fees for Taman Safari are about IDR 250k for foreigners and IDR 150K for locals. You have to pay for your driver and there is a small cost for driving in your car.

Taman Safari is a safari park where most of the resident animals roam about freely. The animals are very used to humans and will come right up to your car. If your car windows are down, be prepared to have animals peer in (and lots of SALIVA over your windows).

Elephants were the first animals we saw, followed by camels.

At first, I was frantically waving the carrots to the animals to catch their attention. Over here, comeeee. But once they caught sight of the orange little things, they galloped to my car all at once. It was a little overwhelming but I warmed up to them fast.

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Caught off guard by the zebra on my right.

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Patience dude, I’m getting your carrot.

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Here’s a carrot for having such pretty eyelashes!

Here are some of my favourite pictures of the animals. They are really good at flashing their big bambi eyes at you and giving a doeful look with the hidden message: “Pleaseeee could we have a carrot? Pretty pweeaase? One more pleaseeeee?” HOW TO REJECT SUCH CUTE FACES. I wished I had bought more carrots earlier on.

The animals do not observe ANY road traffic rules. They have no fear of oncoming cars and jaywalk everywhere and anywhere. So please drive carefully and don’t be too distracted with feeding them!

As our car approached the danger zone (which houses the meat-eating animals), we had to wind up our car windows and lock our car doors. Please do not dangle any carrots at this point or stick your head out of the window. Your head might be more enticing than the carrots!

The lions, bears, tigers, cheetahs etc were not in an enclosure and were roaming around freely too. Some were just beside our car. *shudders*  This was the first time I was in such close proximity to the King of the jungle. HE’S SO HANDSOME.

Towards the end, our car had to cross a “river” where the water level was quite high. I was worried about our car engine but thankfully it survived!

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Mr. Hippo having a dip in the “river”.

On the way to the parking lot, my parents spotted a beautiful peacock! Again this was my first time seeing a white peacock strutting around in all its glory.

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Hello beautiful!

Just-for-laughs 🙂 🙂 🙂

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Asses galore.

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What neat teeth you have, Mr. Zebra!

After driving through the safari park, you can park your car at the main attraction center. There is loads to see and do there — walk around the baby zoo, catch animal shows (dolphins, sea lions, elephants, cowboys and more), browse souvenir shops, ride/ feed animals, play at the waterpark/ theme park, etc.

With Agent D, we both trekked up to see a natural waterfall. The sound of the water beating down was really refreshing! And there were not many people around (seemed almost like an undiscovered area), which was really nice.

After spending about 15 minutes at the waterfall, we headed for the sea lion show. The sea lion show was very fun and entertaining; we enjoyed it tremendously!

With my parents, we decided to walk around the baby zoo. It is like a mini zoo with selected animals in cages (e.g., pumas, snakes, kangaroos, birds and more). You can also cuddle and take pictures with baby lions and orang-utans. Children will definitely love it!

We spent about half an hour at the baby zoo and proceeded to watch the elephant show thereafter. Sadly, the elephant show was quite disappointing! I wouldn’t recommend it if you were in a rush for time.

Puncak Pass

Agent D and I left Taman Safari around 12.45 p.m. for Puncak. Our driver brought us to a lovely lunch spot overlooking the hills and tea plantations. REALLY PRETTY. I forgot to note down the name of the restaurant sorry :/

After lunch, we drove up to Puncak Gantole. That is the place to go to if you want to try paragliding. The unblocked view of the massive tea plantations and rolling hills below was breath-taking. Again I stood amazed at God’s wonderful creation.

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Up, up, and away!

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Taken along with the wind.

Agent D and I wanted to have a go at paragliding but there was a 1+ hour waiting time. We couldn’t afford to wait that long because we had to beat the heavy traffic back to Jakarta. Oh well, looks like we’ll have to come back again sometime.

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And this marks the end of our day trip to Puncak.

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Picture perfect mountain backdrop.

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Perfect for chilling.

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Now all I need is a glass of wine. My life is complete.

My parents and I had lunch at the Banyan Restaurant downstairs. There was NO ONE, as if we had booked the entire restaurant to ourselves.


Surrounded by breezy cool air and natural scenery, it was a very pleasant meal. The food was so-so only but the ambience more than made up for it. On Saturdays and PHs, the Banyan restaurant hosts an extravagant allyoucaneat BBQ party accompanied with live music and fire dances (for just IDR 150k nett/pax).

The restaurant overlooks the pool so we went down to take some pictures whilst waiting for our food to come.

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Feeling on top of the world.

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Could chill here all day long.

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Hotel rooms facing the mountains.

I’m hoping to spend 1 night at Pesona Alam during my next trip to Bogor. If you happen to go before me, let me know how your stay went! ❤

Have a great Sunday everyone!! Can’t believe a new week is starting again.

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)