Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Indonesia Trip '08 – Day 01 Part 2: Rest of Jakarta

After getting some rest, we decided to start our sight seeing trip in Jakarta proper. We took a taxi from the hotel to the Tugu Monumen Nasional (MONAS) for about 20,000 Rph. The weather wasn’t so cooperative as it was drizzling slightly as we made our way to the monument. Once we reached the monument grounds, the rains had let up a bit but the sky was still overcast which made for a gloomy afternoon. The MONAS grounds were definitely spread out with the usual weekend crowd of locals and school children around. Surprisingly absent though was the foreign tourists in the area, something that we would notice more as we went further into our trip. Not absent however were the persistent touts trying to convince you to buy their wares. Avoid them if possible since the items that they are trying to sell there were definitely over priced. Heartless it may seem but totally ignoring them seemed to be the only way to get rid of them as they can be really persistent once you start a conversation with them.

(Top: MONAS Sign, Right: MONAS Tower, Left: Gounds around MONAS)

Entrance into the MONAS tower via the underground entrance cost us 25,000 Rph for 3 tickets. The first place that we visited was the museum located in the foundation of the tower. The museum offers dioramas depicting key moments in Indonesian history with special emphasis on the creation of the Indonesian cultural and state identities. A lot of them put emphasis on Indonesia’s struggle for independence and the bloody battles that they had to go through to get it. While the dioramas were interesting to look at, the problem I had with the museum was that it was too dimly lit for anyone to see any of the displays. None of the showcase displays had light controls and we were reduced to peering through the dim lighting to make sense of what we were looking at. The other item that I noticed glaringly omitted was any mention of the Konfrantasi period among the displays. Guess that’s more coming for the patriotic side of me wanting to see or read about their take on the Konfrantasi period.

(Statue of an Indonesian Independence figure - there was no sign to identify him but I think he was on one of the Rupiah bills)

After getting our fill of the dimly lit museum, we decided to go up to the viewing platform of the tower in hopes of getting a good view of surrounding Jakarta. Unlike the newer KL Tower, MONAS only had 1 lift to ferry visitors to the viewing tower and bank down. We had to queue for at least 45 minutes before we were able to get a lift to go up. Given that it was a rainy afternoon and the crowds were thin, I would expect that the queue would have been longer normally. Once we got to the top, we found ourselves in an open air viewing platform that allowed visitors 360 degrees view of Jakarta. Unfortunately for us, the rains limited what we were able to see up there although we did get to see the Masjid Istiqlal and surrounding buildings from there. After making a few rounds on the viewing platform, we queued up for another 30 minutes again to get the lift to return to ground level. We ended up spending more time queuing that actually enjoying what little views that we got on the viewing platform. If spending time in queues is not your thing then I would recommend giving MONAS a miss.

(Views from the viewing platform - Masjid Istiqlal, Gambir Train Station and Mahkamah Agung)

After MONAS, we took another cab for 20,000 Rph to Taman Fatahillah which according to the guidebook was one of the last remaining examples of Dutch colonial Jakarta architecture. Unfortunately, the guidebook did not detailed how small the square was. Ringed by the Jakarta Museum and Café Batavia, the collection of colonial architecture here pales in comparison to what I’ve seen in Manila the year before. Jakarta was definitely a newer city with many of it’s colonial architecture examples sadly neglected or ignored.

(Views of Taman Fatahillah)

After Taman Fatahillah, we decided to walk to the Sunda Kelapa harbor which was recommended by the guidebook as being worth a visit and was 10 minutes a way from where we were. What we didn’t realize was that it was 10 minutes by taxi, walking there took us nearly 30 minutes through some dodgy looking neighborhoods on muddy if not already flooded streets. A trip wouldn’t be complete for me if I did not find myself lost in a strange town walking through definitely less than tourist friendly locations. Fortunate for us, we did not get harassed or anything like that but we were not also dallying for long on our trip. We just wanted to get out of the area as fast as we could.

Eventually we reached Sunda Kelapa harbor and my first thought was “This is it?”. The guide book said to expect seeing traditional sail powered schooners still being used to transport goods to surrounding islands. I didn’t expect to see a fairly run down pier full of inter-island trading barges being loaded with trade items. We walked down the muddy pier to take some pictures of the ships but the fast fading light didn’t really helped us in that regards. We were also approached by someone offering us berth to stay overnight on the boats to experience life on the boat. Given that we already had accommodations and was not really too sure about spending the night on a boat with dock workers we hardly knew, we politely decline the offer and made our way out of the harbor complex. Last thing we wanted was to be shanghaied to work on some inter-island trade boat as cabin boys.

(Ships at Sunda Kelapa)

Having our fill of the disappointing guide book for the day, we decided to take a cab to Mangga 2 Mall for a return to something more familiar as well as for some dinner. The cab from Sunda Kelapa to M2M cost us about 15,000 Rph which was cheap considering our alternative was to spend another 30 minutes walking in the darkening streets. Dinner at the mall was a simple affair of food court style claypot rice which cost the 3 of us 75,000 Rph with drinks. Picked up some JCo donuts (60,000 Rph for ½ dozen) and some drinking water for tomorrow, we headed back to the hotel (taxi – 25,000 Rph) to get ready to meet up with some friends that we made on the net before coming to Jakarta who wanted to bring us to a night out on the town.

The first club that we went to had a private function that only allowed patrons in by invitation only. Since our friends was not too sure about the other club that they have heard of, we went instead to see if we could catch a movie at a cinema (locally known as a “bioskop”). Unfortunately for us, tickets were sold out for the midnight show which was fairly packed with Jakarta’s young and trendy people at the cinema we were at. We finally ended up spending time at a café called Café Oh La La which was located on the ground floor of the cinema for a spot of drinks and people watching. We would later find out that they had Café Oh La La in other cites that we visited and they all stay opened later than the surrounding shops. I guess the nearest vibe equivalent in KL for the Café Oh La La that we went to that evening would be the Starbucks at Bintang Walk where there was always something interesting to look at.

We said goodbye to our friends at around 1 am since we had an early morning the next day and took a cab back to the hotel (30,000 Rph). Other than the enjoyable night out people watching, the first day in Jakarta was a downer and I as I was falling asleep hoped that the next few days would be much better.

More Pics:

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Indonesia Trip '08 – Day 01 Part 1: Getting There

Having discussed it earlier, we decided to depart for LCCT from my apartment in Sunway instead of staying overnight at the place that I slept near KL Sentral during my trip to Manila last year. It made more sense to do that this time since our departure time for Indonesia was scheduled for 0950 which was much later than my Manila flight departure time last year. The night before the trip was used to repack our stuff to see if we could get more free space in our luggage for the items that we were expecting to bring back from our travels. On top of that, everyone was still wired with excitement at the prospect of finally starting on the journey that has been months in the planning.

We finally went to bed at 2:30am but woke up 3 hrs later to get ready to leave since the airport limo that we reserved was scheduled to arrive at 7am. Considering the early hour, we did not run into any problems during the trip to the LCCT and arrived quite early after the smooth drive in the Perdana airport limo that cost us RM60 per trip from my apartment. Once we arrived at the airport, we went to check in our bags and made a beeline to the local McDonalds for breakfast. At the time we didn’t know that there was a new food garden (found out much later when we arrived back) just outside of the terminal or else we would have tried something else then the tired McD breakfast set.

The plane departed on time at 0950 from LCCT and promptly run into some turbulence during assent. Thankfully, the rough patch was quite short and the flight was smooth from that point on. The flight took about 2 hours which I mostly fill up with fiddling with my new iPod. Time definitely flew by and we touched down at Sukarnoe-Hatta International Airport at 1050 local time (Jakarta was 1 hour behind KUL) safely. Learning for my mistake last time, I double checked to make sure that I had everything with me before leaving the plane. I did not want to have a repeat of losing my phone again as I did during my Manila trip last year. I am glad to say that I did not lose or break anything during this trip (yay!)

We cleared Immigration with no problems and soon we were on our way to the Arrival Hall. Having arranged transportation to the hotel in Jakarta through the net, I was not sure how I would be able to find the driver. I was expecting to see someone holding a card with my name at the Arrival Hall but when we first reached there, I could not see anyone there. Before I had time to panic (I know .. so DQ!), I heard my name called out and we were soon at the GoldenBird limo service counter to sign for our Avanza car to drive us to the hotel. The cost of the hotel pickup was not included in the room charges so we had to pay 130,000 Rupiah (Rph) for it. This was our first official encounter with the many zeroes used in Indonesia currency which would continue to confound some of us for the next few days.

The drive from the airport to the hotel took us through a highway that cut through swamp marshes and fresh water breeding ponds. For the most part the drive was smooth going with occasionally slow downs when we hit the infamous Jakarta traffic jams. It took us about 1 hour drive before we reached our hotel which was located in the Central Jakarta area. I had booked our family room at Hotel Atlantic through the internet and hoped that it would meet our needs in Jakarta which thankfully it did … barely. (More details about the hotel in a separate blog entry coming soon). Once we checked in and rested for a bit, our first item on the checklist was to check out what was available around the area of the hotel in terms of eating places.

We saw some street side warong selling local food just outside of the hotel but we decided to let our stomachs acclimatize with the local bacterial fauna before risking eating at warongs. Finding nothing much on the hotel side of the road, we crossed the road using the Busway pedestrian crossing (Selamba Carolus stop) to the other side where we decided to have lunch at a nearby Nasi Padang restaurant. I have had Nasi Padang before so I was already expecting them to bring out all the dishes that they have in the shop to our table. This came as a surprise to my travel companions who were not used to the way they serve Nasi Padang here. After the obligatory foodie picture taking session, we dug into a fairly tasty meal that cost us 80,000 Rph for the 3 of us. Once we had our lunch, we decided to go back to the hotel to rest for a bit and plan our next destination.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Indonesia Trip '08 – All and So Much More

(MONAS, Jakarta - Indonesia, Apr 2008)
Arrived home from our Indonesia trip late last night after having our Air Asia flight cancelled and our reservations bumped to a later evening flight instead. With tones of notes and pics to go through, I would definitely have a lot of blogworthy items to update the blog with in the following weeks if not months (hopefully not!). Till the first of the series of updates, here’s some of the trip highlights that would be detailed in later blog entries.

Stay tuned!

Trip Highlights :
  • “Oh crap! Did I just gave him 10,000 or 100,000 rupiah?” – dealing with the zeroes on the money.
  • There is no tempe in Jakarta! Help!
  • Trawling the docks after sunset.
  • “Whatever happens in Jakarta, stays in Jakarta"
  • Starbucks closes at 9:30pm in Jakarta! Help .. again!
  • Lost among the masses at Taman Mini Indonesia Indah.
  • “Quick lah! I’m melting here!” – dealing with the heat and humidity
  • Breaking the bank in cool Bandung.
  • Train from Bandung to Jogja – “Are we there yet???”
  • Bandung After Dark – where they don’t use street lights!
  • Kawah Putih – Surreal meets Stinky
  • Adventures of eating in Indonesia – “Just order the strangest sounding item on the menu lah” aka trying not to giggle when ordering Nasi Liwet
  • Surviving the souvenir touts at Borobudur and Parambanan.
  • Jogja - Temples and Stupas and Ruins .. Oh My
  • The most expensive cup of coffee I’ve ever drunk
  • Chilling out listening to live jazz performance at a backpackers pub
  • A Supernatural Encounter in Jogja
  • Walking where no tourists have been before
  • Batik and Wayang Kulit and T-Shirts .. Oh My
  • Fortunate circumstances in Solo

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Indonesia Trip '08 – All Packed Up

After months of planning, I’m just a few hours away from starting my Indonesia trip. All the hotels except for the one in Solo has been confirmed and we are all packed up. Most of the travel plans have been more or so fixed by now and more importantly we are all looking forward for the trip.

For me personally, this will be actually the first time traveling for more than 4 days straight. The whole day today at work was spent making sure that all that I needed to get done has been completed. I also had to advise both my subordinates and my boss on what to do in case something that I would usually handle at the office comes up. Hopefully I left sufficient instructions behind for them since it turns out I may not get my mobile’s international roaming turned out in time before I leave on my flight. Knowing them though, I expect a whole boatload of pending action items waiting for me when I get back.

At this point, work is the last thing on my mind. I’m looking forward to enjoy the trip with my buddies. Indonesia has always been a place that I want to go to and Java is especially significant as it’s almost like a homecoming for me since part of my heritage comes originally from there. I’m looking forward to reconnect to that part of who I am.

Accordingly, the blog would probably go without updates for the one week while I’m on the road. If I do get a chance to get on the internet, I would definitely try to post some updates but if then doesn’t happen that I’ll be back updating once I get back at the end of next week.

Be back soon.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

In Heavy Rotation

Having a slow week blog-wise with very little blogworthy items to write about. Still I did promise myself to have at least 1 entry per week minimum so here it goes.

I finally joined the dark side of the force and bought myself an iPod this past weekend. I was delaying the purchase for until after my trip since I was suppose to borrow one from my friend but that plan didn’t pan out. Given that I get motion sickness very easily, reading while traveling on a plane, taxi, bus or train is out of the question for me so having the iPod would definitely be a welcomed distraction to help me pass the time. Of course the other use of the iPod is to help me zone out while doing my workouts at the gym. Other than my Micheal Buble and Stacey Kent playlist, my gym playlist was one of the ones that I made on the iPod right after bringing it home.

Guess what you put on your playlist is a matter of personal preference but I wonder what else is there that I can add to my playlist to give it that extra punch to help me push the limits. If you have any recommendations, you’re welcomed to leave the title in the comments and I’ll definitely go look it up.

  • Jaleo [Spanglish] - Ricky Martin
  • If That's OK With You - Shayne Ward
  • You Make Me Wish - Shayne Ward
  • What I Want - Chris Daughtry
  • There And Back Again - Chris Daughtry
  • Stranger - Hilary Duff
  • Don't Stop the Music (The Wideboys Club Mix) - Rihanna
  • Tokyo Drift - Teriyaki Boyz
  • Can't Get You out of My Head - Kylie Minogue
  • SexyBack - Justin Timberlake
  • Gimme More (Kaskade Remix) - Britney Spears
  • Girlfriend - Avril Lavigne
  • I Don't Wanna Be In Love (Dance Floor Anthem) - Good Charlotte
  • The River - Good Charlotte
  • Turn the Beat Around - Gloria Estefan
  • You Oughta Know - Alanis Morissette
  • Jump [Extended] - Madonna
  • Can't Fight the Moonlight (Hard Main Mix) - Saint Etien
  • I Will Survive (Remix 2001) - T-Zone
  • Never Again (Dave Audé Club Mix) - Kelly Clarkson
  • Now You're Gone (DJ Alex Extended Mix) - Basshunter
  • Proud (Peter Presta QAF V Mix) - Heather Small
  • Umbrella [Jody den Broeder Lush Club Remix] - Rihanna
  • Vogue (Club Mix) - Paffendorf
  • Por Arriba Por Abajo - Ricky Martin
  • La Bomba - Ricky Martin
  • Maria (Spanglish Radio Edit) - Ricky Martin
  • The Cup of Life (Remix - Long Version) - Ricky Martin
  • 4 Minutes (feat. Justin Timberlake & Timbaland) - Madonna

    Total playlist duration : 2.3 hrs

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Bukit Gasing Needs Your Help!

I wrote about going hiking with friends at Bukit Gasing back in January of this year. Unfortunately, I have not had a chance to go back and revisit the trail again since then due to other commitment. Now it seems that I may not have much longer before there will no longer be a Bukit Gasing hiking trail to come back to!

A blog reader left me a comment on that particular entry to inform me that the development work I noted earlier on my hike has already commence on the KL side of Bukit Gasing as of 27th March 2008 apparently in violation of a court order by the High Court granting Judicial Review on the matter of the development. More on this case and other information about the threat looming over Bukit Gasing can be found at their Save Bukit Gasing website which is open for public review.

From their website.

We seek your urgent support and actions as follows:

  • We need the support of residents and the general public to stop this development before it is too late.
  • We need financial funding to pay our lawyers and court expenses. Our long term battle includes getting a public hearing with DBKL, getting a stop work order, then proving the site is too dangerous for any development, reversing the approval for development, and finally gazetting the site as a permanent green lung.
  • We also need petition support, meaning your signatures and presence in our public petitions and activities.
  • We need voluntary workers to volunteer their time and effort to organize efforts to campaign our cause.
  • We need resources such as information and expertise that will support our cause - engineers, geologists, experts, politicians (we already got Hee Loy Sian, Edward Lee, Sivarasa and Elizabeth Wong and Nurul, to support our cause and bring it up to higher authorities).
  • We also need contacts with various organizations, bodies and societies that can help support our cause.

The group is also organizing a “Save Bukit Gasing Family Day” this weekend. Unfortunately it looks like that I would not be able to be there but it will not stop me from spreading the info about that event to those who come and read my blog. They could use all the exposure on the event that they can get.

If you like, you are more than welcomed to go and download their event poster from the Save Bukit Gasing website and put it up as an entry on your own blog. The more people know about what is happening in the Bukit Gasing area, the higher the possibility that some change will come out of this show of concern.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Workout Journal – 2008 Personal Training Program Day 22

Program Day 22 (muscle group: Total Body – duration 1 hrs)

Warm up – Cross Trainer (20 minutes - 180 kcal target burn)

Total Body Endurance Circuit Training – EZ Barbell

Set 1
Squats (reps – 15, weight - 30 lbs)
Shoulder Press (reps – 15, weight – 30 lbs)
Upright Row (reps – 15, weight – 30 lbs)
Deadlift (reps – 15, weight – 30 lbs)
Bicep Curls (reps – 15, weight – 30 lbs)
Triceps Extension (reps – 15, weight 30 lbs)

Set 2
Squats (reps – 20, weight - 30 lbs)
Shoulder Press (reps – 20, weight – 30 lbs)
Static Lunges (reps – 20, weight – 30 lbs)
Upright Row (reps – 20, weight – 30 lbs)
Deadlift (reps – 20, weight – 30 lbs)
Bicep Curls (reps – 20, weight – 30 lbs)
Triceps Extension (reps – 20, weight 30 lbs)

Set 3
Squats (reps – 25, weight - 30 lbs)
Shoulder Press (reps – 25, weight – 30 lbs)
Power Lunges (reps – 25, weight – 30 lbs)
Upright Row (reps – 25, weight – 30 lbs)
Deadlift (reps – 25, weight – 30 lbs)
Bicep Curls (reps – 25, weight – 30 lbs)
Triceps Extension (reps – 25, weight - 30 lbs)

Push Ups (reps – 10/20/30/40, weight – body weight)

Abs Crunch Bench (reps – 30/30/30, weight – body weight)

Surprisingly I was able to complete the first set within 15 minutes and transitioned into the second set after 1 minute resting time. I was able to keep up the pace up to halfway into my static lunges when I started to lose balance holding up the barbell. This was definitely a big improvement from my last attempt when I had to rest quite a few times even during the first set.

Being able to do that is definitely an achievement that I can mark down as progress regardless of how small it seems.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Sappy Thoughts

To Make You Feel My Love - Garth Brooks

When the rain is blowing in your face
And the whole world is on your case
I would offer you a warm embrace
To make you feel my love

When evening shadows and the stars appear
And there is no one there to dry your tears
I could hold you for a million years
To make you feel my love

I know you haven't made your mind up yet
But I would never do you wrong
I've known it from the moment that we met
No doubt in my mind where you belong

I'd go hungry, I'd go black and blue
I'd go crawling down the avenue
There ain't nothing that I wouldn't do
To make you feel my love

The storms are raging on the rollin' sea
And on the highway of regret
The winds of change are blowing wild and free
You ain't seen nothing like me yet

There ain't nothing that I wouldn't do
Go to the ends of the earth for you
Make you happy, make your dreams come true
To make you feel my love

To Make You Feel My Love (video)

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Workout Journal – 2008 Personal Training Program Day 21

Program Day 21 (muscle group: Back, Triceps, Forearms & Abs – duration 1 hr excluding warm up)

Warm up
Cross Trainer (10 minutes, 80 kcal target burn)

Assisted Chin Up (reps - 15/15/15, weight – 33% of body weight)
Isolinear Front Lateral Pull (reps – 15/12/10, weight – 25/50/60 lbs)
EZ Barbell Upright Row (reps – 15/15/15, weight – 40/40/40 lbs)
EZ Barbell Deadlift (reps – 15/15/15, weight – 40/40/40 lbs)

Cable Triceps Pulldown (reps – 15/15/15, weight – 30/40/50 lbs)
Seated Dips - Bench (reps – 15/15/15, weight – body weight)

Cable Forearm Pulldown (reps – 20/20/20, weight – 50/60/70 lbs)
Cable Reverse Forearm Pulldown (reps – 20/20/20, weight – 40/50/60 lbs)

Abs Crunch Bench (reps – 30/30/30, weight – body weight)

I’m planning to skip doing cardio as my workout cool down to reduce muscle loss so instead I will be going to the abs bench and do crunches instead. It doesn’t burn off as much calories but if done properly will definitely help in toning up my flabby tummy. That’s always a good thing to have happen!