I don’t know what is with Japan that keeps me coming back.
This was taken in April 2017. During cherry blossom festival @ Tokyo.
I don’t know what is with Japan that keeps me coming back.
This was taken in April 2017. During cherry blossom festival @ Tokyo.
So, what happened was, I finally quit my job. Had a 3 weeks of much needed break before starting at my new job. Naturally I had to go somewhere, and Bali being my most fav island escapade, therefore off to Bali I went. Prior to Bali, I went to Jakarta for 4 days. Did some shopping, feasting and sight seeing. This time around I opt to use their train service as my hotel is situated near Sudirman train station. Went to Taman Ismail Marzuki, which hosted their local theatre, cinema, art gallery, book store, planetarium and spaces for various cultural performances; ideal for the likes of moviegoers and theater lovers. I didn’t manage to catch any of the shows there though due to the limited time I had. Getting there is relatively easy btw, from Sudirman station, take the train to Manggarai and change the train heading to Jakarta Kota, but get down at Cikini station. From there there’s plenty of taxis and bajaj that’ll take you to Taman Ismail Marzuki.
I came back to KL on Saturday night. Sunday was spent on car and iphone repair works, laundry, last minute packing, a WEDDING and rushing off to the airport AGAIN at 2am! Phew! Didn’t manage to sleep that night but did doze off for a bit on my early flight to Bali. The views from the window plane were beyond beautiful early in the morning. Couldnt bring bulky dslr on this trip, hence this mediocre picture FML.
This time around I didn’t plan much about the itineraries. I had a week to kill there with nothing much on my schedule. I was busy at work before and this trip was kinda unplanned for me, hence the hefty plane tix and nothing much on schedule. What I know was that I definitely gonna go to Padang Bai to swim and laze around at Bias Tugel beach. And also I would repeat Uluwatu this time. This was gonna be my first time in Padang Bai and third time in Uluwatu. As usual my first stop in Bali was Sanur. I love its night market that’s got plenty of delicious and cheap halal food. Perfect for traveller on a budget like yours truly. Pasar Sandhu is located at Jl. Danau Tamblingan. Gotta say that the food and vendors were pretty much the same since last time I been here in 2012.
The next morning I headed out to Padang Bai. Like my previous visit, I use public transportation to get around. Not many people know this but the best way to move around between far out places in Bali is via bus. From Sanur to Padang Bai it’d cost me IDR75,000 via Perama Bus. Apart from Perama there’s Sarbagita bus service which is ideal if you need to move around to nearby places in Bali. Sort of city bus service. Initially Sarbagita was set up to cater to the tourist’s demand but sadly it’s not really popular with the tourists. Bad marketing, perhaps? I really hope these bus services stay as I really dont want to resort to using supir service.
Padang Bai serves as a port to the neighbouring islands of Lombok and the Gili sisters. And for the more adventurous, yes there are ferries to Komodo island too. There are two beautiful beaches in Padang Bai; namely Bias Tugel beach and Blue Lagoon (which was featured in Eat Love Pray movie). Both requires a bit of trekking to get there. Blue Lagoon beach is tad bit smaller and further than Bias Tugel, and most of the people opt for motorbike to get there. I chose my accommodation that is nearest to Bias Tugel, but still it needed a bit of trekking to get to the beach.
And you wonder why would anyone fascinated with this hidden beach?..
Diving in Padang Bai
Price per dive is about RM100 (nego for equipments) and of course, depending on the sites. Diving at sites that are further from the port is more expensive. And it’s better to at least possess an advanced diving license prior to diving in Bali as the currents are pretty rough there. But then again, dive sites in Padang Bai are relatively calmer than those in Nusa Penida (possibility of underwater currents at Crystal Bay site). Pak Wi is definitely a macro expert. He has the flare of spotting tiniest sea creatures, some were even smaller than an index finger. So if macros are your fancy, then go look for him in Padang Bai.
Been busy with life that I couldn’t be arsed to write anything for the past couple of months. And suddenly its nearing the end of July. How did the past 6 months just disappear?
Sold my car and got a supposedly fuel efficient and environmentally friendly new machine.
Went to Jakarta in February
Went to Japan (again) with the colleagues in early May
Enrolled for CFA programme. One of the toughest exams in the world, the hell was I’m thinking? Library visits, weekend classes and tests are part of life (foresee that I wont be enjoying much life for the next 3 years). Enjoying the company of my brilliant classmates though, bless them.
On a job hunt. thus been to interviews. Got an offer. Resigned from current job. But still going for interviews in other companies. Still have 2 months to serve the notice period.
Bought a studio apartment. Actually this was done on impulse. The construction of the condo is supposedly finish this coming year end. We shall see.
Here’s a snippet of my whereabouts this couple of weeks and months..
Sekeping Tenggiri. A night stay at this serene place, a stone’s throw away from KL. Loved the rustic concept, the open air bathroom and the empty pool. Minus point, non-stop dogs barking kept us awake the whole night.
This place was one of the highlight of the Japan trip. Don’t know how many of the people out there who knew about this place where one is able to witness bathing monkeys. Seriously Japanese monkeys do bathe!
This place holds ethereal beauty, but do you know the name Jigokudani literally means hell’s valley in Japanese? Fret not there is nothing hellish about this place, it’s quite the opposite, really. Such name was to depict the steam and boiling water that bubbles out of small crevices in the frozen ground, surrounded by steep cliffs and formidably cold and hostile forests.
Apart from human, only snow monkey is a known primate that is able to live and acclimatized in cold climate. So yeah, I’ve met our only primate relative under the snow covered mountain alps.
To get to Jigokudani Monkey Park is not a relatively easy feat. From Tokyo, we boarded a bus at Shinjuku Bus Station to Nagano. If you’d remembered, Nagano was the host for 1998 Winter Olympics. This place apart from the home for Japanese snow monkey, is famed for hot springs (onsen), ski resorts, and winter sport activities. It also has the largest ski resort in Japan. We could see throngs of people with their snow board and ski board travelling from Tokyo heading up to Nagano. It was nice, seeing all the gears and enthusiastic ski-ers at the bus station.
So the journey from Tokyo to Nagano took about four hours by bus, costing about JPY4,000 per trip. The price sure is hefty, but bearable, as opposed to using the shinkansen, in which the fare is twice as much.
At the point after arrival I was getting worried about the hike to the monkey park the next morning. Though it was not snowing in Nagano, but according to the live feed from Google, we could see the monkey park in Yamanouchi is covered with thick snow. It was already so cold that night in Nagano, I just couldn’t imagine how it’d be like the next day at Yamanouchi. Thus we planned to head up to Uniqlo to buy extra jackets / thicker muffler to prepare for tomorrow. But then after dinner we were already tired and knowing that shops closed early in Japan during winter time, none of us would want to risk walking out of the hotel to look for Uniqlo. We’d just made do with whatever we had then.
The next morning only 3 of us, being my brother, nephew and I went to Yamanouchi. The rest stayed in late at the hotel. We took a train from Nagano Station to Yudanaka Station in Yamanouchi. The fare is JPY 1,210 per trip. Fellow travelers, worry not. Adequate information on ways to get to the monkey park could be found inside the train station, plus the station guard is able to assist when needed.
After the scenic one hour train ride, we arrived at Yudanaka station. We then hopped a bus (couldn’t remember the fare) that took us to Kanbayashi Onsen, the starting point to the monkey park (Jigokudani Yaen-koen). Oh and the entrance fee to the park can be bought at the Yudanaka train station.
I didn’t take much pictures of the scenic route towards Kanbayashi, cause my hands refused to come out of the jacket 😛 soo cold. It was my first time being in a thick snow. The cold was somehow kinda bearable cause there was no wind at that time. The winter jacket that I wore, MNG angorak was suffice in that kinda weather. I also added on head band to cover the ears and leather gloves for the hand. But the upmost important item would be snow appropriate boots. Mine is not so cause I still could feel the cold ground underneath me but I had to make do with whatever that I had at that time. My nephew was wearing converse (!) so he had a bit of difficulties hiking the icy ground.
But I digress.
Okay, from Kanbayashi Onsen, we hiked the 1.6 km track in the jungle to get to Jigokudani park. The trees were all covered with snow, the view was really breathtaking. Slow walkers and serial picture takers like us took about 45 minutes to reach the park. There were about 3 monkeys frolicking in the hot spring when we arrived there. A few were roaming around looking for food.
These monkeys, luckily were docile and kinda tame. Just be careful not to feed them or stare them directly at the eyes as these are wild monkeys, they might misinterpret your action as hostile. So avoid eye contact or any contact at all.
Pandang sipi-sipi only.
Met with a Malaysian family from Odaiba, dad is a nuclear engineering student on a government grant, mom is a housewife with 3 kids. Kinda glad to see familiar faces at such a remote place. They also I presumed were surprised to see 3 of us Malaysians there. Initially they thought us to be from a tour group. Then I’d explained that we were travelling on our own, hopping on trains and buses to get there and even across districts and Japan prefectures. We neither possess JR pass nor internet mobility. And most of our hotels were booked on the day itself/night prior to arrival via booking.com. Impressive they said. Apparently they’ve never met any traveller like us in Japan. Hah. We were bemused as this is they way we’ve been traveling on budget all these times.
This trip to Yamanouchi surely is a memorable one. Worth the long and tiring journey from Tokyo. See I’m not a fan of monkeys, apes, orang utans, gorillas and the likes, but somehow looking at these furry snow covered monkeys, they were kinda cute and yeah these are fine monkeys. I dont mind visiting again 😛
Uh hello there 2014. 10 days into the new year and unlike the year before, this year I was abroad and partied away the new year.
On a bus. T_T.
It was an overnight journey from Nagano to Kyoto.
Well I went to Japan for 12 days, starting from Osaka – Tokyo – Fujiyoushida – Yokohama – Nagano – Kyoto – Kobe – Osaka.
Some of the things I’d gathered/observed during the trip.
Had an impromptu weekend trip with the girls at work to the Big Durian. We booked Air Asia a week before the trip, therefore had to pay exorbitant fees; amounting to RM424 per person (plus our share of 25kg luggage). But nevermind. The sole purpose of this trip was just to release and have fun with the friends.
Places that we’ve been in a span of two days:
Actually aku tak berminat sangat travel to this part of Indo, walaupun susur galur keluarga aku berasal dari Palembang. Sebabnya? Sumatera bagi aku kurang tempat menarik untuk traveler, berbanding dengan kawasan Indo yang lain, such as Tanah Jawa, Sulawesi dan Irian Jaya.
Travel tetap travel. Hatta walaupun dah penah ke Medan suatu ketika dulu, tapi bila abang aku offer nak pegi lagi (cheap AA tix) so aku pun ikut lah depa. Lagipun ni cuma weekend trip, aku pun on kan saja.
Medan ni merupakan bandar ke-4 terbesar di Indo. Mempunyai ramai penduduk cina bertutur dalam bahasa hokkien, so rasa macam balik kampung plak (cina kedah & penang memang cakap hokkien). Kami di pertemukan dengan driver Kijang berketurunan cina yang baik hati. Bahasa indonesia bapak Ah Wan sangat flawless. Abang aku booked hotel Citi Inn International kat Jl. Sun Yat Sen (klakar dowh hotel ni) untuk kami berenam..kami share 3 connecting bilik. Aku tak amek gambar hotel..sebab haha…bodoh la hotel ni. Toilet takde pintu..cuma curtain jarang. Cermin dinding toilet pun yang jenis jarang..tak mampu aku nak berak dengan inzal. Hot shower tak berfungsi, lampu ketiga-tiga toilet tak boleh tutup, rasanya only 2 charging plug yang available untuk seisi rumah (wtf), tak ada sabun mandi, etc etc. Pendek kata memang lawak la aku rasa hotel ni. Tapi for RM160 per night for all 3 rooms, nak complain apa nya. Ha ha.
Kami sampai Kuala Namu International Airport (dulu Polonia) jam 9pm. Amek cab untuk ke bandaraya Medan. Airport baru ni jauh dengan town..about 45mins – 1 hour camtu. Singgah makan kat Restoran Ayam Penyet Surabaya otw to town. Biasa saja..waroeng penyet lagi sedap kot. Maybe sebab dah lewat, banyak item dalam menu tu dah abes. Hampa harapan aku nak minum alpokat.
Dah sampai hotel. Ingat maybe nak kluar balik ronda2 town..tapi memandangkan hotel tu far from town (cam kat area pekan koboi – kosong time malam tu) so makanya aku pun tido saja la.
After breakfast kami hire cab (turned out to be our designated driver kat sana sampai balik) bawa kami ke Pajak Ikan. Pajak Ikan ni tak jual ikan, tapi jual telekung, kain lace, barang2 ke haji, etc. Mak aku pun suka lah. Shopping serba sedikit then kami ke few places pulak. Semuanya bercirikan shopping. Tapi Medan ni nan hado..as compared to Bandung. Aku beli telekung sepasang and kain lace. Lunch kat Garuda Nasi Padang..sedap tapi mahal la. 6 orang RM100+-. Mahal la tu for nasi padang standard, and dekat indo plak tu.
Then petang tu aku dengan abang aku naik motor beca pegi spa. Spa yang ermm..busuk sikit aa as compared to the ones in Bali or Bandung. Harga kemain lagi..urut plus lulur Rp270k. Mahal la bagi aku. Tapi dah sangap plus sakit badan, aku pun bayar je la. Lepas abes session, lebih kurang 2 jam, aku tengok2 abang aku dah takde. Dia whatsapp suruh aku balik sendiri sebab dia pegi tempat lain. So ok la..aku pun jalan2 sikit tapi ya ampun there’s nothing there. Kawasan tu walaupun kat town tapi cam takda benda menarik. Aku pun malas nak pegi jauh2..just singgah Indo Mart beli coffees & nuts then aku amek motor beca balik hotel. Kat sini nescafe kotak dia macam-macam jenis weh..ada caramel, mocha etc.
OK tips, harga teksi and motor beca adalah sama..walaupun teksi jauh lebih selesa dan kurang bahaya berbanding beca. Tapi bak kata abang aku, kesian kat depa ni competition too steep & tak ada peluang kerja yang lain, so amek lah service beca depa. Terpulang la.
Malamnya kami semua pi Sun Plaza, tak silap aku shopping mall paling gah kat Medan kot. Jangan tak tau, kat situ ada MNG, Sogo etc. Kedai makan pun best2 la. Ada 3 bookstores, Gramedia, Popular dan Times Bookstore. Dinner kat Waroeng Ubud, food not bad..aku makan mee goreng indo, small portion tapi mengenyangkan la.
Kami balik after that. Capik mengantuk semua ada. Abang aku keluar balik pi mana ntah..aku terus tido.
The next day aku bangun sesudah subuh sapi’e. Gara-gara arahan shopaholic yakni mak aku, yang nak ke Pajak Ikan sekali lagi. *pitam. Tapi aku ada agenda lain, nak pegi Pasar Buku..nasib baik dekat2 je. So aku ke Pasar Buku dulu then meet up dengan diorang kat Pajak Ikan. Aku beli buku-buku Pramoedya Ananta Toer, tak terdapat di Gramedia mahupun kedai buku lain. And satu buku dari Habiburrahman El Shirazy. Total tak sampai RM60 untuk semua buku tu. Good investment rasanya.
Tips. Dekat Pasar Buku tu ada Merdeka Walk, terdapat cafe2 & fast food cam Pizza & McD. Go to McD for wifi, tapi jangan masuk toilet dia. Nanti menyesal.
Lepas aku shopping buku dan mak & aunty aku shopping kain, kami pun balik dan check out. Zas pi shopping cake & bika ambon pulak..kat kedai Zulaikha ni. Famous orang kata. Then beli peanut cookies kat tempat lain plak. Singgah toko buah, aku beli alpukat 3 biji, tak sampai RM6 weh murah gila. Kat Malaysia sebiji pun dah RM5.
Then Ah Wan si cab driver pun menurutkan kehendak kami untuk makan seafood. Maka kami terus ke Pantai Cermin, sejauh 2+-jam dari Kota Medan.
Air coklat tu pun beratus orang mandi. Ombak ngan angin kuat gila. Tapi tengah2 laut tu air biru muda…cam mengancam jugak kan. Cuma depan2 ni air kaler milo la..milo sedap, air laut ni aku no komen. Oh pasir dia kaca2, hence the name Pantai Cermin. Tak sure betul ke tak tapi aku rasa betul la.
Seafood chinese style..sedap, kepiting (ketam) gemuk2 and murah. Masakan tak jauh beza dengan local chinese seafood. Enjoy la kami makan tepi laut dengan angin kuat tu.
Lepak buang masa sekejap then kitorang pun terus ke airport. Dari Pantai Cermin to Kuala Namu I’national Airport amek masa lebih kurang 45 minit. Ada juga train yang menghubungkan airport dengan kota Medan. Tak salah aku bayaran Rp80k sorang. Airport depa ni besar dan moden..tapi maybe sebab baru, ada banyak lagi kedai tak buka. Siap ada retail boutique bagai.
Kali ni jugak first time dalam sejarah kami sampai 3 jam sebelum scheduled flight. Awal gila! ha ha tapi tu la..tau2 dah abes journey di kota Medan ni. Balik KL esok keja!
Pulau Redang is located in the state of Terengganu. There are practically 2 ways to get to the island from the mainland Kuala Terengganu; Shahbandar Jetty right in the middle of the town OR Merang Jetty 45 minutes from town. From Merang to Pulau Redang only takes about 35 mins boat journey.
We stayed in Redang Pelangi Resort for RM380 – 3D2N stay in triple room plus meals. No complaint about the room / meals. Even so I hardly comment on accommodation while traveling..the cheaper, the better. The only luxury local island stay was a few years back in Laguna Island Resort, also in Pulau Redang. Still I spent most of the times at the beach and pool rather than inside the room.
Diving in Pulau Redang
Since its nearing monsoon season, September may not be the prettiest time to go diving in the East Coast. However judging from my previous experiences diving in Pulau Perhentian in September, I know that this trip is not going to be wasted. Plus I HAD to put on my brand new mask for a try 🙂
1. Shore dive / house reef
The vis. was okay. Started at 3m deep and we worked our way deep. The stupid new mask decided to give me a hard time. The water kept on coming inside the mask, that I had to go up few times to re-adjust the mask. Cursed all my way throughout the dive.
2. Pulau Kerengga
Saw turtle, triggerfish, shark
3. Terumbu Kiri
I’ve always loved morning dive. Sadly I can’t recall the fishes that I saw haha.
4. cant remember the name of the site. imma check later with my log book.
Supposed to be a deep dive in the open sea and we were promised with nice soft corals. I had trouble equalising (my buddy was with me all the time) and when we finally gone down to 21m, we’d lost everyone. Tried searching for them for few minutes, but as the water got murkier and darker we decided to abort the dive and go up. The boat picked us two back and later on we saw the bubbles streaming from the water. Upon seeing that my buddy decided to go down again. But not me cause I know, me and my ear problems would only slow her down. Funny thing though my buddy has gone into deco stage that she had to stop several times during descending, only to be reunited with the rest of the divers while they’re doing safety stops. Ha ha. So, a very unlucky dive for both of us.
The rest of the divers reported that they saw lion fish while they were ascending.
5. Che Isa
Saw morray eel, crocodile fish. Pretty soft corals during safety stops. I think the best dive I had in Pulau Redang.