Friends & Hang Out, My Life, Travel

Coming Back To Seoul

My first arrival to Incheon and Seoul was precisely five years ago, and here I am writing another post about Seoul after my first trip report back then – titled ‘Seoul: Shopping Spree Wonderland’. Five years ago, Seoul was not as popular as what it has become presently, where everybody now has talked about the city following the rising popularity of Korean TV drama, TV shows and actors or actresses.

The traffic of my ‘Seoul, Shopping Spree Wonderland’ post has contributed a lot for this blog’s stats activity. There used to be dozens of readers visiting this blog as they might have probably-and-randomly found that article on Google upon searching Korean tour, Seoul tour or something like that. And yes, most of those readers were dominated by young teenagers who just popped a comment saying I wish I could go there or Can you recommend me any place to stay in Seoul and what to visit as I plan to go there next month, and many other prospective comments.

I must say that I was thankful to be able to re-visit one of the most renowned Asia’s capital city, Seoul. Clearly, two weeks ago (it’s another winter time) I was assigned for a business travel to Seoul to meet the owner of my company who held an event with the most rising soccer player in Asia, Park Ji Sung. Without thinking twice I agreed to fly with a very last minute preparation.

On 9 December 2014, my plane touched down safely at Incheon International Airport. I wasn’t traveling alone, as I had several media participants that I invited to come along with me to Seoul. The cabin crew informed us the temperature dropped to negative five degrees celcius which wasn’t that different than my first arrival there back in 2009. I told my media friends to always be prepared with gloves and their coats as the temperature might have lowered every hour. Proven, the temperature dropped until negative eleven.

IMG_0322The picture above was myself upon arriving from a 6 hour 30 minutes flight from Kuala Lumpur. Got over shadowed but still happy with the picture. After we were done with immigration and custom clearance, we headed straight away to Myeong-Dong area to drop our luggage at SkyPark Hotel where we would stay for 2 nights. The journey took for about an hour and we checked in at around 11.00 am local time. My journalist colleagues had been asking what we would do then for the first free and easy morning. I said, their half day city tour had been planned and I would be their travel guide as I still remembered some areas and public transportation to get to those places.

IMG_0337Snow remnants still covered some areas in Incheon

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IMG_0355Namdaemun Gate. I didn’t get a chance to see this gate back in 2009 as it was under construction for massive renovation post fire incident

I managed to plan a short tour around Namsan area (Seoul Tower), Gyeongbokgung, Namdaemun market, Myeong-Dong market. The main reason I took them to Seoul Tower was to show them the famous love locks. Meanwhile, for Gyeongbokgung is a must-visit palace although we were a bit upset to know the palace was close for public on Tuesday.

IMG_0369Walking to Namsan Cable Car. The journey took for about 20 minutes on normal walk speed on inclining terrain.

IMG_0485My savior. Do not underestimate this thing. Bring your ultra rich moisturizers lip balm.

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IMG_0395Seoul’s city landmark. Namsan (N Seoul Tower)

IMG_0430My favorite place in Seoul. Here you cannot just enjoying breathtaking view, but you’ll get to visit numerous interesting places such as N Seoul Tower itself or Teddy Bear Museum.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetThe famous love locks on Namsan peak

IMG_0452The main gate of Gyeongbokgung Palace from the North entrance

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Seoul always gets me on , why? I think this city has so many things to offer. The city is very vibrant and friendly. Seoul has the best nightlife ambiance in Asia. The lighting, the hype, the spirit of the locals are somewhat you will never find anywhere. If I may compare, Shibuya area in Tokyo is indeed busier and surrounded by more advanced technology than the rest of Seoul Central Business District area. However, one thing for sure, the energy of Myeong-Dong area in Seoul, especially at night is something you will never forget, as your eyes will be pampered with the presence of hundreds even thousands of beauty, ornaments, souvenirs, jewelery stores and foods stalls selling unique foods. When you are there, you will see how this area succeeds to steal every woman’s attention to give up what’s next to-do-on their tour list, as they will instantly change their minds only to shop or at least merely stopping for a thorough-observation (the paradox of window shopping) at those unimaginably cute things they might see over there.

IMG_0481If 5 years ago, my friend who heard I was going to Seoul they would just text me and say “Have a Nice Trip”, now the girls would rather text to ask for something to bring from South Korea. At least, I received more than 10 messages asking different things that precisely could not be accommodated. These nail paints were the only thing I could think of, Skin Food store located in front of my hotel, they had special sale of 1.500 Won (IDR 16.500,-) each. To save time I would just take every color on a bucket and brought them to the cashier desk.

IMG_0465My mom text just to remind me of her favorite type of strawberries. FYI, Korean strawberries are literally fat and juicy

IMG_0578Wishing you a Merry Christmas everyone! The Christmas decorations and installations here in Myeong-Dong are immaculate!

IMG_0357The giant Christmas ornaments in Seoul. I think everyone agrees with me, South Korea is always associated with love… and cosmetics *HA*

IMG_0362Just to elaborate the cosmetic craze is this exceptional corner at my hotel (SkyPark 1 Myeong Dong). The business corner which is equipped with free use of nail paint and dressing table that are perfect for ladies.

IMG_0545LINE Store at Lotte Mall Myeong Dong. This store is relatively new. Once you’re inside, I am definitely sure we won’t leave empty handed

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Processed with VSCOcam with a6 presetPerfect winter dress. I am never comfortable to wear jumper or oversize coat. Let’s make it simple, Merino wool sweater, Velvet jacket, leather gloves and thick scarf.

IMG_0570Teenie Weenie, so far is the cutest store in Myeong Dong

Foods?

Aside to shopping, you can also find plenty foods stalls that sell cheap foods (mostly skewers just like in other Asian cities). The average price of street foods in Myeong Dong or Namdaemun cost around KRW 1,000 – KRW 5,000 (IDR 13.000,- – IDR 60.000,-) per piece. Do not worry on the foods sizes, the serve is quiet fulfilling.

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IMG_0576It is my first time to see this Strawberry wrapped by chocolate and glutinous rice. When you visit Myeong-Dong try this one!

IMG_0557Teokbokki (Rice cake with Traditional Korean sauce). When I first saw this food 5 years ago, I thought this one was made of squid or fish, but after trying then I realise this one just a rice cake with sumptuous sweet-sour sauce.

IMG_0558Snail? Yes, Koreans eat snails. Snail is believed to provide great nutrition for them such as for skins and protein in-takes. No wonder that snail is mostly used as the basic essence for *again* most of skin and beauty products.

IMG_0590 The snacks that have it all. Flavors, tastes, crunchiness blend together

After strolling around Seoul for two days, one of my old friend who turned out to be a local, called me and knew I was in Seoul. After short conversation, we ended up agreed to meet up and he said wanted to take me to a famous Korean BBQ place in Myeong-Dong called ‘Wumioke’.

Upon my first day, we actually had a lunch at a local restaurant located on the ground floor of Namsan cable car embarkation, which to me is a bit expensive. However, my friend said that Korean BBQ restaurants in Seoul mostly has similar average price in which there is an unwritten rules of minimum order for some certain type of meats such as: Syamgupsal (pork belly), pork ribs, sirloin, tenderloin etc. And believe me the tastes are apparently the same or even at some point is better at Korean BBQ restaurants in Jakarta. The average price of a set of syamgupsal may cost KRW 15.000,- – KRW 22.000,- (depends on how many set you ordered), while the beef ones are more expensive around KRW 22.000,- – KRW 25.000,- per set. Clearly, the price is including various side dishes and free drinks for everyone except rice.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetEating like a Korean

IMG_0610I completely forget the name of this dish but is perfect for dinner in winter. So warm.

IMG_0612A little corner of the restaurant. Wumioke has been visited by so many people around the globe. As to keep the memory, the restaurant owner keep each of foreign visitor through photographs taken while eating at the restaurant and displayed them on the wall.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetAfter dinner, we were full and happy

To conclude this post, I would definitely encourage all of you to visit South Korea! For those first timer, spending more days in Seoul is highly recommended as this city is the center of main attraction of what South Korea has to offer. Here you can explore all that become your travel interests, you can get everything you want starts from shopping, getting closer with nature, experience the excitement of Seoul’s nightlife, until tasting the authentic delicacies. I have been here for two times and always willing to come back. So  I’ll see you guys next time in South Korea, or in Myeong Dong maybe? 🙂

Oh last but not least, the proven of Park Ji Sung is right here..

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Aviation, Friends & Hang Out, My Life, Travel

Heaven of The East: Ambon, Moluccas (Maluku) Part 1

‘Kota Ambon, Ibu Negeri Tanah Maluku, Di pinggir laut tempat kita berteduh..

Dari jauh.. terlihat gunung Salahutu, beta ingat dahulu beta disitu..’

-Intro lyrics of Kota Ambon song-

This post marks another memorable trip that I had planned. Why? Because despite short planning and zero knowledge about the city, we still could make the best journey ever! I am very grateful to get this opportunity, to witness another beauty of East Indonesia.

Ambon had been in my ‘must-visit-city-before-i-die’ list since long time ago, but whenever I wanted to go, I was always doubtful on going there alone due to safety concerns.

I had distinctively heard from many Ambonese whom I met in Jakarta, or even from a few foreigner friends who had been to Ambon, most of them said that this city had so many things to offer. Ambon doesn’t just offer its natural beauty but cultural diversity. Moreover, they said that Ambon and largely the greater Moluccas archipelago have numerous diving spots for experienced divers and snorkeling lovers around the world.

I am not a diver but from many pictures I saw, and based on the testimonies I heard, the group of Saparua island, especially Nusa Laut island is known for its underwater richness, they said Nusa Laut’s underwater contains richer marine biota than in Raja Ampat.

In fact, Moluccas is also popular as a region where high quality Indonesian singers come from. The Moluccans are blessed with colorful voices, let’s look at our brilliant singers such as Ruth Sahanaya, Utha Likumahua, and Glenn Fredly.

Having people singing is not a rare thing in Ambon. They like to sing and their voices are worth to be listened 🙂

Getting very excited for the first time..

I traveled with 2 companions who also had no idea what to see and what to do in Ambon. Both of them are my best friends where we shared a lot of things in common, especially having similar ways of traveling style. We sometimes picked random dates and getaway destinations, but this time I had succeeded to entice them to come with me to Ambon.

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Apparently, one of my travel mates knew someone from her parent’s relative, and they have been very helpful with our city tour arrangements starting lunch treats, transportation and visiting the best tourism sites in Ambon.

We departed without fixed itinerary, and we just wait until we arrived in Ambon. As for the flight, we took Garuda Indonesia’s first flight (departed at 00:30 hrs) with 20 minutes stopover in Makassar. Garuda Indonesia actually flies two times daily to Ambon, you can pick either the red-eye flight departing at 00:30 hrs (GA 640) with one stop over or 08:30 hrs (GA 646) direct. Since we preferred to spend more time in Ambon, so we chose the first flight.

IMG_0144SkyTeam Livery, PK-GMH

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IMG_0188Aglio Olio for my supper. I must admit this one is very delicious!

Regardless my concession tickets but my two other friends paid IDR 2.600.000,- (USD 240) each for economy class (promo fare) return flight. The fare is quiet reasonable compared to Jakarta – Lombok flights that have reached more than IDR 3.000.000,- (USD 260) return during that period.

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The flight was a red-eye flight, and our first leg was to Sultan Hassanudin International Airport in Makassar for 2 hours flight and we transited for only 30 minutes refueling. I met some of my dad’s colleagues who were in-charge as the captain and flight purser, during the crew change and they wondered to know what I would do in Ambon. I simply told them besides its natural beauty, I was inspired by those great singers and would love to hear how Ambonese sing live. Besides, I was also inspired by the beauty of the Moluccas that previously I only had seen them from pictures.

Once the crew change finished, we immediately took off at 0430 AM LT (GMT+8). The flight to Ambon from Makassar only took 1 hour and 45 minutes, just 40 minutes after take off, the sky was changing colors, indicating the breaking dawn.

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Watching sunrise from East Indonesia airspace is the most favorite moment to me! I remembered when I flew to Biak and Jayapura a few years ago, I was very excited to see that breathtaking view, especially when you look outside your window and seeing the sky’s orange-purplish reflection towards the islands beneath, it’s just so perfect!

IMG_0243My seat after 4 hours

Time flew fast when you’re flying, at 7 o’clock am we started our descent and the Captain made pre-landing notice for the cabin crew. The plane banked into runway 04 approach. The orange sky had turned into light blue while the sunlight had begun to appear despite a few thunderstorm clouds were seen in distance. The sea was seen in a calm current, from the distance I could also see Salahutu Mt., Nona Mt., Amahusu bay, and Latuhalat before we finally touched down at Pattimura Airport, Ambon at 07.30 AM LT (GMT+9).

Flying to East Indonesia could be tricky, the flying hours for some indirect routes (or with 1 stop over in Makassar) could disrupt your sleeping pattern. When I flew to Jayapura with 2 stopovers via Makassar and Biak, I had a very bad jetlag upon arrival due to short sleep for 2 landings within 1.5 hours. This time, I flew with only one stop over, and I slept during Jakarta – Makassar flight not between Makassar – Ambon had made me pretty exhausted post flight.

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IMG_0253IMG_0258Selamat Pagi Ambon! Touched down at Pattimura Airport, Ambon (AMQ)

After taking our checked-in luggage, we met our private guide Pak Parjan and Pak Ismet who had been waiting for us at the arrival hall, and we headed directly to our hotel, Natsepa Resort and Conference.

Selamat Pagi, Selamat Datang di Natsepa Resort, Bapak Danang,” said one of Natsepa Resort and Conference’s concierge staffs who greeted us at the lobby upon our arrival after 40 minute drive from the airport.

Selamat Pagi! Thank you,” I cheered a smile. Natsepa Resort and Conference used to be managed by Aston with a previous name of Aston Natsepa. Natsepa Resort and Conference is known as one of the best accommodation in Ambon situated in Natsepa beach area. I booked this hotel directly from Booking.com for a deluxe twin bed that can be occupied by 3 persons maximum. The price per room and per night is quiet reasonable which is around Rp. 830.000,-  nett (USD 73) including breakfast for 2 persons.

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IMG_0268My room’s balcony with a gorgeous view!

IMG_0275Left: public swimming pool, Right: Lagoon’s room private pool

The hotel ambiance was indeed relaxing, clean and provides generous room space. The hotel also has swimming pool where hotel guests can practice diving or if you have more budget you can pay Lagoon room that has its own pool. The hotel area is also far from the traffic and public crowd, besides each room of this hotel is indulged with breathtaking views, Natsepa beach and Salahutu Mountain.

IMG_0749The back view: Mt. Salahutu

Once check-in done, we were directly guided to our room which was located on the third floor overlooking to Natsepa bay and the swimming pool. I must say that that was one of the best view hotels that I’d ever had.

Liang Beach

The weather suddenly changed where clouds were seen above the horizon, giving signal to rain anytime soon, we decided to go out after 40 minutes rest, and we were heading to our first destination: Liang Beach. Liang Beach is located about 20 kms from Natsepa. And the best way to reach this preserved and pristine beach by car. You can ask the hotel to arrange a taxi for you that cost approximatley IDR 150,000,- one way or alternatively you can rent private car (Toyota Avanza) for IDR 600,000,- (USD 53)  for one day (excluding gasoline and driver tips). You should not worry about who would take you around because the car must be ready with a driver who could also be your guide.

After prepared my duffel bag with sufficient sunbathing and swimming amenities, we were set to go! However it was a bit unfortunate that the weather seemed wasn’t friendly enough, because the moment we left the hotel, the rain began to falling and even became worse. Apparently, early April is a transformation season in the Mollucas from dry to wet season.

The rain unfortunately getting worse when we arrived at the Liang Beach, we decided to wait until the rain went over with a few refreshments such as coffee, rujak and Indomie. Despite the thuderstorm clouds, what amazed me was the still capability of seeing the blue gradation of the sea water – indicated how clean the water is. Finally after almost nearly one hour waiting, the rain finally over. We immediately ran to the famous Liang Beach wooden pier which firmly stands near the shoreline.

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This view made me think of Maldives, or Seychelles, or wherever I could think of. I was just standing there being thankful for everything I could see.

IMG_0281Rujak Ambon

Liang Beach is one of the most favorit spots for  local fellows to hang out, followed by Natsepa shoreline where you can enjoy the famous Rujak ‘traditional fruit salad’ and the sweet sagu bakar (roast sago). However, you can still enjoy those foods at Liang Beach. The locals love the beach so much, especially the kids, where they expressed their freedom by jumping off from the pier to the water. If you’re lucky, you could see a group of dolphins swimming near you, like I did last time – or else a ship passing nearby.

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Liang Beach is not wavy unlike most of beaches in Bali. The water is very calm with less waves but the current could be a bit strong.

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After one hour, the sun lastly appeared from the breaking overcast clouds and we were excited to feel the heat. As a man who is a bit paranoid of swimming in the sea, better to stay nearby the shore, because I rather not to think of seeing a shark down there.

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After swimming, I went for fast rinse at the public bathroom (thank god for this). I’m a type of person who could not leave my body with dried salt water for too long thus I took a bath with fresh water jugs I bought earlier.

For all of you who cannot bare with salt water then you should bring your toiletteries, because you can use the public bathroom where they also sell fresh water (IDR 3.000,- per jug (USD 0.30). The bathroom is rather clean and thank god not stinky, so you should not worry about it.

 

Ambon’s Francis Xavier Cathedral

We only spent 2 hours in Liang Beach. Once we’re done we headed straight to Ambon city for our first day city tour. It is quiet exciting though, because we were pretty curious about what this city looked like and what life were like in the capital of Moluccas archipelago. Ambon city is located 36 kms from Pattimura International Airport, and situated near Ambon bay.

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It took for almost an hour for us to reach the city. Since it was nearly lunch time, Pak Parjan invited us to have lunch at his home as his wife had cooked us traditional dish. We were so delighted to accept his invitation.

Ambon’s city is quiet colorful, from the distance you can see the city center from the hilly road. The city looks vibrant and lively.

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In the middle of our journey, Pak Ismet stopped us in front of Ambon city’s Francis Xavier Cathedral (Roman catholic church) which is dubbed as one of the most remarkable historical sites in Ambon. The cathedral was built to commemorate St. Francis Xavier, a spanish roman catholic missionary who arrived in Ambon in 1546.

The cathedral was unfortunately locked hence we were not able to see the interior. After taking a few pictures of the church, we headed directly to Pak Parjan’s house for lunch. The house is located not far from the city center, situated on a hilly road. We were welcomed with genuine hospitality from the whole family. It was definitely pleasant to catch up with the locals and learning new things from them.

IMG_0429The food he had prepared for us. FEAST!

IMG_0433Fish and chicken are homemade! DELICIOUS.

IMG_0435Sharing is caring 🙂

IMG_0438Never seen a corn as big as this

Apparently, Pak Parjan and family had prepared a totally delicious home made lunch for three of us that suit our tastebuds. Chicken, fish, vegetables and fruits were taken from their own poultry and farm.

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The home is newly renovated, this house offers a great view on the top floor. Bayview and seaside home is very common here in Ambon, something that we rarely find in Jakarta.

 

Latuhalat & Lelisa Beach

After spending nearly an hour for lunch, Pak Parjan guided us to get ready as we were going to continue our trip to Latuhalat. I actually had no idea where he would’ve taken us, what he said was only “We’re going up to the hill, to see one of the best scenic view in town.” Then, we would’ve imagined a place similar to Bali’s Karma Kandara or Bali Cliff – only maybe there won’t be any alcohol beverage sold.

Latuhalat is located in the outskirt area of Ambon city where the road track was quiet hilly though the place was worth seeing. It was nearly sunset around 17.00 PM local time when we alighted from our car. We could feel the fresh air, and we hear the sound of the waves which triggered our curiousity to look beneath, we were apparently about 20 meters above the sea level.

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Pak Parjan later invited us to walk down to see the Ambon’s front door. We were actually curious about what door he’d been talking about. He told us just walk down the steps and see, and yet to enjoy every step down we made. We were stunned to see more than 50 steep steps leading us to the rocky shore. I frequently reminded my friends to watch their steps. Once we got down, we saw the Ambon’s entrance door, and I can say this place is quiet magnificent. How could I not be amazed to see a giant natural rock with half round hole that made it look like as if an entrance to the beach. The overlooking sea is Banda Sea, and the locals said this place was one of highly recommended places to enjoy the sunrise.

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We climbed up back to where our car was parked, stepping up approximately 50 stairs that caused severe exhaustion. “We shouldn’t have done this place today, I think I got to exhausted” I babbled to one of my mates, and she could not reply anything as she was gasping while we’re climbing the stairs. When we reached the top, we decided to sit down at a small open-air café to enjoy fresh coconut water and chatting with the café owners who apparently was a mixed Ambonese – Sundanese couple. They had figured out whereabout we were from, and there the man started conversation by revealing that he used to live in Jakarta for 20 years and still flying back and forth to Jakarta a lot these days. He was sharing his life experience and Jakarta and how he met the wife there until they decided to start a family business there in Latuhalat. The man told us that Ambon and specifically Latuhalat should’ve been potential for domestic or even foreign visitors, however, he could see that not so many local tourist comes to Ambon as many of them were brainwashed about visiting the islands known for conflict.

IMG_0457Collin Beach Resort

IMG_0456Lelisa Beach

Not far from Latuhalat, there is Lelisa Beach, situated in southern part of Ambon and managed by Collin Beach Resort. The beach itself is mostly surrounded by corals and rocks therefore is not comfortable for beach swimmers, but we spotted many foreigners stay in this resort. The resort may not look as fancy as Natsepa Resort and Conference however, this place has a perfect beach ambiance with many coconut trees, hammock, and lazy chairs.

Once we’re done with the sight seeing around Ambon, we wrapped our itinerary for that day as we all fell asleep directly when we reached the hotel and hit the bed.

 

Fort Amsterdam (Blokhuis Amsterdam), Immanuel Church, Wapauwe Mosque

On the second day in our itinerary, we woke up early at 07.00 AM, awakened by a beautiful sunrise in Ambon. I spent a little time sitting at my balcony to enjoy the morning sun’s heat, sipping Nescafe decaf and starring at the magnificent view of Natsepa bay.

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IMG_0466Enjoying the morning sun

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We immediately packed up our amenities, each of us took a quick bath and ran for a short breakfast. Pak Parjan unfortunately unable to accompany us that day, he asked his son, Mas Hafni to guide us instead. Mas Hafni and Pak Ismet had been waiting for us at the lobby, they told us to be ready before 07.30 AM as we would travel a bit far to Hila Village in Leihitu to visit the famous Dutch fort in Ambon, Blokhuis Amsterdam and the surrounding sites.

IMG_0509Hila Village

IMG_0499IMG_0500Beta cinta Indonesia

IMG_0514Too dreamy to be true

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In Dutch, Blokhuis means Fort or a block house. It is built in a three floor structure, functioned as gunpowder warehouse and prisons. The 4.57 m x 5.3 m building has 2 windows on each side where you can spot scenic views from each side, beach and mountains. The Fort was abandoned by the Dutch colony in the early of the 20th century and restored by Indonesian Government in 1991.

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We felt very lucky to have the best weather of the season. The sky was completely clear decorated with thin layered clouds stretching above. I was completely ready with my iPhone 5S to capture the beautiful sight seeings that I would never forget.

IMG_0527Window of happiness

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Not far from Fort Amsterdam, there is another historic site of Immanuel Kerk (Immanuel Church). The church was built in 1780 and it was known as one of the oldest protestant church in Ambon. The church was nearly burnt down during Ambon’s 1999 civil war, but now they had recovered the church and rebuilt it almost in the exact copy of the original church.

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After a short stop at the church, Pak Parjan and Pak Ismet drove us to Wapauwe mosque which is known as the oldest mosque in Ambon. The mosque was built in 1414 and still firmly standing until now. The exterior look is somewhat attractive and rustic, combined with the sophisticated interior that is filled with teakwood, which is still used these days.

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The mosque is located near a green yard where the cow shepherds feed their cows. The view getting even more interesting to me as I rarely see any green yard with a clear blue sky in Jakarta.

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IMG_0569Captured on our way to Pasir Panjang beach

Pasir Panjang Beach

To all of you who followed my Instagram or Path, you might’ve seen my post which mentioned about a private beach that I wouldn’t tell you, and you might wonder where that white sand beach was located. It’s called Pasir Panjang Beach!

After visiting historical places, we decided to chill out for a bit on the beach. We asked Hafni and Pak Ismet to find a good beach for us to hang out, if possible the quiet one. They were discussing to which suitable place for us, and we ended up at Pasir Panjang Beach. Firstly we were not sure to where they brought us since the direction was nearly the same that brought us to Liang beach the previous day. “The beach has the same shoreline of Liang Beach, only this beach is much farther,” Ismet said. The car stopped at the curb of a small road, and Ismet told us just to follow Hafni who guided us to the beach. The beach location is similar to Padang – Padang beach in Bali whereby the visitors had to walk down a few steps to reach the sandy area.

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According to what Hafni and Pak Ismet told us, the beach was unoccupied and we were just too excited for this. Despite 11 am, but the sun was high and glaring bright, we got ready with our sunscreen, towels and sun glasses. Pasir Panjang is situated in Tial village where many fishermen live. Here you can spot their vessels, nets and if you’re lucky – their catches. You may smell fresh Tuna fish from here, and you can buy the fish with a very good deal directly from them!

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We enjoyed this beach so much until we’re not knowing that we’re competely tanned but we didn’t care because swimming here felt so good!

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Where else could we enjoy the calm waves, quiet environment, soft sands, and great breeze, this is such a sanctuary for us.

Pasir Panjang doesn’t have public bathroom neither there has any change room, therefore whenever you come here – make sure you bring your towels, wet shirt bags, spare shirts and shorts unless you want to stay longer drying your swim suit under the sun.

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Before we left the beach, I asked Hafni to walk with me to visit the fishermen village. I wanted to see their homes and hoping to see one of the Tuna’s heads. We walked slowly passing each home and greeted each home owner that I met. They smiled and said “Hello!” I felt welcomed here. Some of the home owner offered me her outdoor bathroom to rinse my feet and sandals which were covered by sands.

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At the next door of the house, I heard there was a Tuna transaction – which I believed from the morning’s catch. I stopped by and asked how big the Tuna was, and to me it was really big. Around 9-10 kgs or so.

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“Oh this fish is considered small compared to what we usually get on the sea,” an Ambonese lady said.

I approached my head near the bucket, attempted to look the Tuna closer. Fishy smell.

“How much is the whole fish?” I asked, pinching the Tuna’s belly – it was indeed chubby.

“This one is Rp. 100.000,” she said.

The moment I thought I had misheard the price, and I reassured “Really? That can’t be true?”

The lady thought I attempted to bargain. “It’s fixed price Pak

“No, what I meant was Rp. 100.000,- is pretty cheap for this size,”

The lady smiled, “Do you want to bring this with you to Jakarta?”

I told her that I would have another two nights in Ambon, yet we would’ve gone out of the island the following day. The wise way is to buy one night before my leaving or on the same day of my departure back to Jakarta as I’d prefer to have fresh fish.

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I asked her permission to hold and lift the whole Tuna, as I would love to take picture with the fish. My mind had flown to Jakarta where I could buy a plate of Tuna sashimi from Sushi-tei.

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Hafni had instructed me to walk a bit faster to the car as we still had so many things to see and visit. I started to feel uncomfortable with the wet swim shorts that I still wore behind my short pants so did my friends, so we decided to return to the hotel for a while to take short bath (another short baths – so much a real adventurer isn’t it? haha) I noticed that Hafni and Pak Ismet were totally amazed with how we kept our hygiene.

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The clock had shown 13.00 PM, means we were one hour late for lunch. We definitely got ready again to Ambon city to have lunch. “It’s Sunday and hopefully there are some places open,” Hafni said.

“I think we should go and try the fish place that my cousin mentioned earlier,” one of my travel mates said. We all agreed to wherever we should eat, as it was too late and our tummies couldn’t compromise. We initially wanted to eat at that famous grilled seafood restaurants suggested, however the place was closed and Pak Ismet took us to another restaurant called Dede’s. The place looks decent, and fully air-conditioned. Before we sat down at our table they asked us to choose the fish from the cool box at the kitchen. We picked three kind of fish: Silver Pomfret (Bawal), Spotted Rabbitfish (Baronang), and Groper fish (Kerapu), Prawns, and Squids, all items were grilled and cooked spicy.

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‘No Kangkung, No Sayur Asem’

When we’re choosing what vegetables to go along with the main course, one of a friend mine were craving about Kangkung. As we all know that Kangkung was supposed to be best companion for any seafood dishes, and it was available on the menu. However, with full regret, the waitress had to apologise that Kangkung was not available at that time, neither was Sayur Asem.

We were completely confused how could both side dishes not available. Hafni told us, “No, you better not expect Sayur Asem here because it’s a rare dish.” That another learning point for us. I asked the waiter, to keep it short, “Can you just bring us whatever vegetables is available?”

“Capcay, Mas

“Okay, one serve please.” I said without hesitation.

The foods arrived not long after we order. A quiet fast service I must admit, and the taste was also pretty good for a seafood resto. We enjoyed every bite, and yet the fish tasted very nice, soft meats and crunchy skin. The bill was not as suprising as I’d thought, we paid IDR 275.000 for the whole meal and beverages for 5 pax. Quiet cheap I must say.

After having happy tummy, we headed straight to Petak 10 souvenir shop. This shop is the best souvenir shop in town that sells not only sago crackers or cookies, but next door is a souvenir shop that sells Pearl accessories (salt water and fresh water), print tshirts, caps, bracelets, and local tenun fabrics.

Tips when shopping in Ambon: Here (not just at this shop) you cannot bargain any price, as most of the sellers will claim it as a fixed price. It is hard to bargain with the local people, yet many Ambonese are well educated and they understand every tourist especially from Jakarta.

IMG_0673I bought a sea water pearl pendant for my mother with silver-coated stainless.

 

Commonwealth War Grave Cemetery (Australian War Cemetery)

Once we’re done with shopping, Pak Ismet drove us back to the hotel as we need to get early for dinner. However, I told him would it be possible for us to stop at the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery on our way back home. Hafni said it was possible and we needed to get permission from the cemetery keeper.

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I browsed little information about this cemetery before my departure to Ambon, and I thought this cemetery is a worth seeing place. The cemetery is located 5 kms northeast Ambon on the main road to Galala district, the cemetery was designed by Ralph Hobday.

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There are around 2.000 died soldiers (whereby nearly half were Australians, while the remaining numbers consisted of British soldiers, American Air Man, Dutch soldiers laid down in this cemetery, many of those buried here died in the defense of Ambonia in the early months of the war against Japan and others were killed in the Allied assault on Japanese air bases established on Ambonia and Sulawesi.

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“The cemetery contains Australian soldiers who died during the Japanese invasion of Ambon and Timor, plus those who died in captivity in one of the many camps constructed by the Japanese on the Moluccas Islands, including many British prisoners who were transferred from Java to the islands in April 1943. Soon after the war, the remains of prisoners of war from Haruku island and other camps on the island were removed to Ambon and in 1961, at the request of the Indonesian Government, the remains of 503 graves in Makassar War Cemetery on the island of Celebes were added to the cemetery.”  ( Source: CWGC.org)

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The afternoon sun was still delighting when we arrived at the cemetery. We’re still able to spot the sunlight broke between the trees, creating beautiful shadows. This cemetery’s atmosphere brought us to Melbourne or Perth. It’s very beautiful indeed, the scenic view also reminded me to the famous American serial in 2000s “Six Feet Under”. You can also sit anywhere under the trees and search for inspirations.

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We kept taking pictures, and wandered around the cemetery until sunset. We could see the names of the dead soldiers who were buried here, as well as reading the history plaque about this cemetery at the commemoration hall.  After satisfied with hundred beautiful pictures, the time shown nearly 17.00 hrs and we had to end our visit. We returned to the hotel before dark to get enough rest as we had to wake up early to catch morning boat to Saparua the following day.

Please stay tune for Part 2: Only 19 hours in Saparua Island.

To be continued.. 

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Uncategorized

Colorful Kunming (7-11 December 2013) ; How Great Thou Art

Hi all, after being away from blogging for a while, I would like to share you some photos that might inspire you to visit a city that I recently visited, Kunming.

I flew with AirAsia to Kunming. A great experience to fly with the world’s best low cost carrier. From Jakarta, I took the first flight to Kuala Lumpur using AirAsia Indonesia (QZ), and connecting to Kunming for 2 hours with AirAsia Malaysia (AK). The schedule is very convenient, the flight arrived in the afternoon, not too late before dark.

I will not say too much here, but my photos will speak themselves, how beautiful the city is. If you guys happen to seek nature and serenity, this place is very recommended.

All pictures are taken by iPhone 5. I am a proud iPhone photographer.

Kunming is located in Southwest China, not too far from Hanoi and this city has a lot to offer. I feel so grateful to get a chance to visit this city for a 5 days trip. Colorful city, all seasons, spring weather, authentic heritage and cultural. For those who had visited Beijing, Shanghai or Guangzhou before might find this city a bit different. This city doesn’t have MRT only bus, and the capital Kunming is not as packed as those three cities. However, there are still some areas that can be found similar such as Dongfeng Road the shopping district (similar to Wangfujing Road in Beijing or Nanjing Road in Shanghai).

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Kunming from 20th floor, New Era Kunming Hotel.
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Besides Dong Feng area, Kunming has some night market shops that you can find around the area. What I found was strange was, I couldn’t find folding fan, and fridge magnet for souvenirs, only accessories, furniture, clothes, and foods.

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One of the souvenir shops I visited.

Apart from shopping indulgence, Kunming pleases its visitors with many natural attractions. You should complete your journey by interacting with nature. It may takes big effort for this but the experience you’ll get pays off the hassle.

Xishan (West Mountain)

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Xi Shan (West Mountain) is the closest natural site to Kunming city. Located in the west side of the city this mountain’s elevation is around 2.500 meters high. From this mountain you can take cable car, which is not the usual cable car. This thing will make you feel like flying off the mountain, and for those who have high altitude phobia are actually not recommended to take this.

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Trees Underneath.

What I wore? Asics Onitsuka Tiger Mexico Mid Runner

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Cable car track

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Finally, I reached the top end!

What I wore? Brown Wayfarer glasses: Tom Ford, Unbranded scarf, Blue Sweater : Next, Blue Jeans: Nudie, Watch: Swatch Irony

Yunnan Nationalities Village

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Colorful trees captured in Yunnan Nationalities Village in Kunming. As I mentioned earlier, Kunming is known as Spring City. It offers the best weather and you will get all season here!

When you are in Kunming, visiting Yunnan Nationalities Village is a must. This village is similar to a recreational park which showcases Yunnan’s tribes that account to 25 tribe nationalities. You will get to experience their lifestyle, visiting the mock-up of their house, watching performance, and most importantly this park is designed flawlessly gorgeous, lots of trees, lake and many more.

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The lake in Yunnan Nationalities Village somewhat makes you feel like being in Europe

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What I wore? Brown Wayfarer glasses: Tom Ford, Unbranded scarf, Blue Sweater : Next, Blue Jeans: Nudie

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Cui Hu Lake

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Cui Hu Lake Park, Kunming. This is where you could play with the seagulls. The seagulls are known to fly from Siberia to Kunming every winter, making this lake as their playground.

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Let’s see the gulls closer

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One of ancient buildings in Cui Hu Lake Park.

Stone Forest Park

I also managed to visit stone forest park, the biggest stone forest in China and probably in the world. The stone forest park is formed million years ago, when the earth moved and the sea water eroded. If there is stonehenge in the U.K, in China there is stone forest park. The stones were formed nearly thousands years ago in giant sizes. What makes it interesting, the local folks still believes in the romantic Ahei ann Ashima love story which becomes a substance of the stone forest journey experience. The tour guide says we must use our imagination in ord enjoy the stones. Your imagination will lead you to think of many unique shape that represents things around us.

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What I wore? White long sleeve Polo Shirt, St. Michael (Marks & Spencer) black sweater, Burberry Scarf, Zara black leather gloves and Brown Swatch Irony.

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There are many lake inside the forest

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They believe this is the Ashima stones. The left tip is the head and the two on the right is believed as flower bucket that she carries all the time

Jiaozi Mountain

I also got a chance to visit Jiaozi Mountain, the highest mountain in Yunnan (4.200 m below sea level or approx. 12.000 feet) which is also known as a snowy mountain. The mountain is located at Liuxijiang district, 4 hours ride from Kunming. The weather is extremely cold up there so you will need to prepare thick jackets, layered shirts and sweaters.

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The view along the way

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What I wore? Knit Blue Sweater by H&M, Knit scarf by H&M, Honey pants by H&M, Leather gloves by Zara, Suede winter boots: Unbranded

The snow is not an eternal snow, but only seasonal. The mountain isn’t covered by snow during my visit, only some areas due to the season transition from autumn to winter. Despite there is only less snow at that time, but I was still grateful to go up and see the beauty nature.

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The frozen waterfall

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Do not ever step on the ice. This one was accidentally taken right after I slipped on the ice. I asked someone to help me taking a picture of me sitting on the ice, but it turned out I slipped on the ice and hit my elbow against the rock.

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Enjoying Sunset from 3.800 meters above the sea level

Guangdu Ancient Town & Copper Palace

The two final places we visited were Guangdu Ancient Town and Copper Palace. These sites mark China’s solid culture which has been established for hundred years. The ancient town is secluded around the wall just like forbidden city or Nanshi Old Town in Huangpu, Shanghai. only the area is smaller. The district now has transformed as a shopping area selling foods, souvenirs, clothes, flowers and many more.

Just right before the old town, there is a river that occupied with seagulls. This is also a quiet interesting attraction for the tourists to feed the bird and they would fly to you.

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Siberian Seagulls at Guangdu Old town

What I wore? Grey turtleneck by H&M, Knit scarf by H&M, brown belt by Next, Leather gloves by Zara, Khakis pants by Dockers

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Guangdu Old town

What I wore? Grey turtleneck by H&M, Knit scarf by H&M, brown belt by Next, Leather gloves by Zara, Khakis pants by Dockers

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What are your 2014’s wishes?

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Reminds me of a Golden temple in Kyoto, Japan

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Conclusion

To conclude I actually very enjoyed my last trip to Kunming. I didn’t know anything about the city, but when I was assigned to visit the city, I felt so grateful and being even more thankful for my creature. China has always been a favorite destination to me, as I am a person who rather enjoys hills, mountains, and nature than beaches. I sent some of the pictures to my friends and families, they were even asking where I had been. I said Kunming and they were like “Oh? Where is it?” I said China.

Kunming is known as spring city, but it gets very cold in winter, so if you are planning to visit between December – March 2013 just prepare your thick jackets or sweater, gloves and scarf. The Jiaozi mountain isn’t covered with snow in early December, if you want to feel the snow you may visit in January – March.

In my own perspective (if I could compare this with two others like Beijing and Shanghai is still different. Kunming has less population but the city is still the central industry in Southwest China. It hasn’t any MRT or subways like Beijing and Shanghai, public bus is the main transportation. If you guys want to visit Kunming, I recommend you join local tour or commute with Taxi if you are unsure about language barriers.

In terms of shopping, in Kunming the night market offers you many products starting from clothing, accessories, home decorations, until electronics. It is cheaper here! I think due to proximity to Guangzhou, this city could sell more cheaper products.

Since the nature tourism is very important here, you should go to the outskirts city. Climb the mountain and see how the nature treats your eyes. Last but not least, Kunming is a worth city to visit!

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Aviation, My Life, Travel

Flight Experience: Paris – Amsterdam KL 1224

Flight Detail:

Airline: KLM – Royal Dutch Airline
Date: 22 December 2012
Route: Paris – Amsterdam
STD: 0900 hrs (UTC +1)
ATD: 0900 hrs (UTC +1)
STA: 1020 hrs (UTC +1)
ATA: 1010 hrs (UTC +1)
Traveling Class: Business Class
Seat No: 6E move to 4F

Hello again people! This time I am back with another trip report from my last journey from Paris to Amsterdam using KLM – the flying dutchmen! 🙂

After spending 3 days and 2 nights in Paris, finally we flew back to Amsterdam for another 3 days and 2 nights visit before we’re heading to Rome for Christmas eve. As usual, we were flying standby then – listed on the first flight at 0900 hrs.

We left our hotel which situated in the Austerlitz area (near Notre Damme cathedral) at 0700 hrs using Metro train to Gare Du Nord and connecting with RER train direct to Charles De Gaulle. I was lucky to get a reservation at Hotel Libertel Austerlitz near Jardin Des Plantes as it is located right in front of the Gare De Austerlitz station, which made our travel got very convenient (The hotel is very well recommended guys!).

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We came on the first train to Gare Du Nord at 0700 hrs in the morning, still dark, and not only a few people waited at the train station just like us. Unfortunately, staying in Paris for 3 days had successfully made me a bit paranoid of losing valuable items and I was actually a bit nervous for taking the first train early morning and might meet any criminal act that might happen to us, as Paris is notoriously known for that.

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Luckily, we had a safe trip back to airport and we felt much safer. The situation of CDG airport that morning was a bit rushy!  It was weekend, and everyone was set for their Christmas holiday.Looking at the very long Air France – KLM General Check – in counter queue line, made me a bit hopeless actually – but at least by asking the ground staff  should there were any special desk for standby passengers would be helpful for us not waiting too long, and voila! they had it. The lady who stood by the near standby counter found us with standby tickets and she opened the strap for us as saying: “You can proceed from here.”

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We’re greeted by a friendly french lady at the standby check in counter. She handed our tickets and she reconfirmed if we’re standby passengers. “Are you flying out to Amsterdam this morning?” – “Yes, we are, and we have been listed before”

The lady attempted to the find our standby confirmation, took a bit long and she smiled when she found our confirmation. “Okay, I’ve found you already, let me check if we can confirm your seats from here..” I prayed inside that we could get the seat from this counter, but seems like procedure had to be followed, she said that we could get the boarding pass from here, and but our fixed boarding pass with seat number would be confirmed later at the Gate after boarding process started. We were asked to report to Gate 25A and we’d find her AF colleagues who would give us our confirmed boarding pass. However, our luggage could be check-in in advance and she labeled our luggage with “Standby luggage”. Before we left she said “Good luck and Happy Christmas”.

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We strolled around the airport for more than an hour, killing time with duty free shopping. One thing that I like from CDG is the various branded fashion stores that could be so pleasant to our eyes.

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We didn’t notice that our boarding gate was at Gate 34, as I thought we boarded through gate 25. My parents were just sitting around at Gate 25, but I became suspicious when it was supposed to be near boarding time, the agents were not there. I came back to the standby counter below the 25A counter, and the counter was empty, I walked upstairs again and asked the lady at the 25A counter if she could get us on the flight to Amsterdam or not. She said “Oh sir, you are just in time. The flight is boarding now, and the system is nearly closed. Here are you boarding passes, 3 pax, and the boarding gate is at Gate 34,” the lady said.

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Hearing this lady, made me more nervous than ever. As soon as I got our boarding pass, I used my last second saying thank you and adore how great the Air France stewardess and ground staff uniforms were. I ran to my parents and told them we were totally waiting at the wrong gate and we were late for boarding. Another dramatic situation, my parents were jumping off their chairs immediately and we ran real quick to Gate 34. It looked like we were not too late, as we were among the last 8 passengers to board the plane.

Boarding


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Today we’re flying with Boeing 737-700! I was really excited for my first time flight on this Boeing 737-800NG’s younger sister. We were greeted by a warm and friendly purser and flight attendant at the front door, she led me to our seats. KLM’s business class and most of European carriers are configured 3 – 3 just like in economy, but what made it different is the middle chair is reserved for our personal comfort. Do not expect the business class is as comfortable as in Garuda’s business class with personal TV and footrest, but on KLM’s service, the difference between economy and business class for regional flights were just on the meal service.

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Seat No.6 was apparently making me a bit uncomfortable as it has no window. After door closed the cabin crew told us, there were some empty seats in front, and we were allowed to change seats. I was the first to stand up and changed my seat to a window seat in row 4. I noticed there was a KLM’s captain traveling with his family and I moved to a seat where his little daughter sat.

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The plane pushed back on time at 0900 hrs, and in less than 10 minutes we took off in a windy weather and climbed up to 27,000 feet.

In-flight Service

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Shortly after flight, the fasten seatbelt sign had been switched off. It was time for breakfast service! The cabin crew began to visit each passenger with their trolley offering with what some to drink and giving us the meal package which was specially designed by a famous European designer for KLM.

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“This is your meal, Sir.” – the flight purser said.

“Dank u wel” I said, receiving the meal package in a great enthusiasm. “The cover looks cool!” I added.

She smiled and saying “You will be much happier once you know what’s inside this breakfast box,” – “Oh not to forget which bread you want to have with your meal?” she said offering a basket of bread.

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It turned out yes! I was surprised with the meal service, there were salads, yogurts, and cold cuts with cheese.

“Wat wil je drinken?” she asked in dutch

“Ik wil water en sap alstublief,” I replied in a very limited dutch.

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She smiled, “Oh good one!” Looks like the little lady who sat next to me were smiling to hear me speaking dutch – in a very limited way. But she kept busy with her iPod afterwards singing some songs with pulling some hand acts attempting to dance. Looks like she had fun. I wanted to say hello to her, but well she’s too young for me.

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I looked out at the window, while Captain returned with announcement that the plane would begin to descend. He also reported the weather forecast in Amsterdam that mostly cloudy that time. However, above Belgium, the sun began to rise as the orange part appeared from behind the white thick clouds, “It should be a great start today,” I said.

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In 10 minutes after Captain announcement over, the plane started its descend and we made our final approach to Schipol.

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Arrival

On 1010 hrs, the plane touched down smoothly at Schipol Airport. The landing, I must admit was another smooth landing I experienced despite weather condition. After landing the purser greeted us with an announcement “Welkom bij Amsterdam..” she indicated that the taxi would take some 10 minutes to reach gate 13 where our plane would be parked. Schipol is literally a huge airport.

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Our aircraft then finally parked at Gate 13, “Cabin crew, when ready, the door maybe opened,” The door was opened and we disembarked the plane accordingly.

Summary

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Overall, my last trip on Paris – Amsterdam sector was very good and enjoyable. The cabin is clean, comfy seats, and the foods were really good for a short flight, and not to mention the professionalism, hospitality and friendliness of KLM’s flight and cabin crew makes us feel more comfortable during our flight back to Amsterdam. No wonder that KLM’s crew was previously awarded as the best airline staff in Europe.

Thank you, Mr. Flying Dutchman! keep flying high!

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