Saturday, December 18, 2010

An Indian Garden Wedding

Ah I enjoy learning about other people's culture, so I considered myself privileged to have attended Praveen and Rashmi's Garden Wedding at Putrajaya Wetlands this evening. Praveen is the son of my mom's ex-colleague from office - Auntie Womana. Mom and auntie have been good friends for years, every year they will treat each other lunch for each other's birthday. Sweet! Ah Praveen is married now. I remember passing my PMR/SPM books / notes to him and his younger sister Priya after I finished my exams. Sis Priya has grown into a very beautiful young lady ;-) Unfortunately, I didn't manage to get a picture of her as she was busy attending to the guests.

Their wedding started at 6pm, but me and mom only arrived at 7.30pm as we came after Maghrib. The setting was simple, but beautiful, with lightings and decorations. When we arrived, they were just about to start to eat. Food was served buffet style - with delicious thosai, pilau rice, dhalca, mutton kurma, fried ladies finger and prawn sambal. There was also a free flow of beer, but of course me and mom passed that one ;-)

Then there were performances by the Malaysian Bhangra Dancers - my, these people really like to dance! No wonder they MUST have song and dance in their movies ;-) Oh btw, Praveen's wife Rashmi is actually an Indian national from Bangalore. They met on the internet. At the end of the wedding, all the families joined in to dance together. The bride's family from India are really a sporting lot. And they LOVE to dance!

It was a really happy occasion and we were happy to be a part of it.

Bhangra dance

Intricate decor

Bride & groom dancing

Another dance performance

The family dancing together


Friday, December 17, 2010

Travelogue: Jakarta Day 4

Day 4: Jakarta

Tue, 7 Dec 2010

Last day today. Our flight back is scheduled at 2pm WIB. So we still had some time for last minute shopping. My mom asked me to buy bumbu (sachet containing spices/ingredients) Rawon (a Javanese dish). We used to buy the Indofood brand last time, but I couldn't find one at Plaza Indonesia the previous day. So today's mission would be hunting for bumbu.

Our room came with a packed breakfast which was sent to the room. There were 3 choices, but all of us chose Nasi Uduk (local version of Nasi Lemak). The sambal was not enough, but the tempe tasted really good.

After breakfast, we set out to Tanah Abang again via the 3-wheeled motorcycle or bajaj (pronounced bajai). We were told that we could find the bumbu at the stalls outside Tanah Abang around the Kebon Kacang area. The bajaj swiftly took us to the market in about 15 minutes, going through back alleys. It was a public holiday too – Awal Muharram. So that's probably why there was less traffic. The bajaj ride cost us IDR 20,000. What a steal ;-)

the backalleys

We asked around where we could find the bumbu and was directed to the Gandaria wet market. We asked around at most of the stalls, but tough luck – until we asked the last stall just near to the exit. Luckily, they have the bumbu – but it was the only one left! So I bought other bumbus as well – Soto Ayam and Sup Sayur for dear Mom (which I will eventually eat anyway hehe). We got bumbu bandreg or teh susu jahe (milk tea with ginger) here as well. We searched at another mini market nearby – but still couldn't find any. I wonder if Rawon is a specialty dish for the Awal Muharram holiday? Nah, just kidding ;-)

Gandaria wet market

Saw this at the back of Gandaria: a makeshift merry-go-round, where it has to be operated manually by cycling the bike extension. Smart eh ;-)

Us in bajaj

After that, we bought some padlocks for Mas and my luggages. Realising our different reference for padlock (mangga VS gembok) , the shopkeeper asked where we were from, then he remarked that we were brave to come unaccompanied (by a local) to that area. I think he was worried about pickpockets maybe.

We still had time to kill. We went to the Tanah Abang food court to have a drink before going back. Bandreg was in my mind ;-) But there was no local hot drinks in sight, so I ordered a Bakso instead. It was then time to head back to the hotel and check out.


Pak Dodi sent his friend Pak Erwin for airport transfer which cost us IDR200K or RM17/person with double the number of luggages from the first day ;-) Only Razeif didn't have additional luggage. How the heck did he fit everything in that small rucksack of his? Hmmm :-p

Pak Erwin turned out to be “too friendly” At first we just laughed it off as a joke, then he got quite carried away with some inappropriate stories that Razeif had to divert away his attention. Thankfully before he could start another story, we had already arrived at the airport.

There was another obstacle at the airport – human traffic. Thankfully we had done online check in. But we were still stuck at the luggage drop off queue. We just had enough time for another swift last minute shopping and lunch before boarding our flight. We departed about half an hour late, but arrived 15 minutes ahead of schedule. Did the pilot speed or something? Anyway, all is well as we have arrived safely back home.

Thanks to Mas, Liza and Razeif for yet another excellent adventure :)


Travelogue: Jakarta Day 3

Day 3: Bandung – Jakarta

6 Dec 2010

Today it was back to Pak Dodi serving as our guide. Transportation with guide from Bandung-Jakarta today cost us another IDR 700K (RM61/person) just like the first day. We headed straight to Jakarta to beat the traffic jam after work hours. We had to choose between Jakarta city or Puncak/Bogor as we couldn't fit in both on the same day. Because some of the members wanted to go to Tanah Abang, we decided to forego Puncak and Taman Safari/Taman Bunga and head to Taman Mini Indonesia Indah (TMII).

We reached TMII quite early at 11am WIB. It is located at the Pondok Gede, Pasar Rebo Sub-district. It was the brainchild of Ibu Tien Soeharto. It was first conceived in 1968. The park would consist of traditional houses complemented with cultural-art performances and presentations of the wealth of flora and fauna and other cultural elements of each region existing in Indonesia. It was officially opened by President Soeharto in 1975. More here

Because the area is vast, we decided to drive around in the van and pick a few regions to take photos. The sight of the huge Komodo shaped building caught my eye and I asked Mas if she would like to take a look there first as she loves reptiles (especially crocodiles). Yes I have wierd friends, but I still love them ;-) The Komodo is a large lizard found in Komodo, Flores, Rinca and Gili Motang islands in Indonesia.

We were in luck that day as we met up with a very helpful zookeeper- Akang (means elder brother in East Java/Sundanese) Redang (it was easy to remember his name – his namesake is a famous island!) He brought us to the Komodo captivity. We met up with Bima – an 18 year old tamed Komodo dragon. Bima relented to us touching him and posing for pictures with him. His skin is soft – unlike a crocodile's, but with scales. Wait, I have actually never touched a crocodile, I only assume its skin is hard

Akang Redang

It also has a long, yellow, deeply forked tongue which it uses to detect, taste, and smell. Its scales, some of which are reinforced with bone, have sensory plaques connected to nerves that facilitate its sense of touch. An adult Komodo dragon usually weighs around 70 kg. The largest verified wild specimen was 3.13 m (10.3 ft) long and weighed 166 kg, including undigested food. Read more here.

Bima, an 18-year old Komodo or Ora in local language

Next we went to the Bali house because Mas was crazy about going to Bali. Posing at a replica of a Balinese temple was close enough, for the moment ;-) We also dropped by at the neighbouring Rumah Adat Sumenep of East Java. Madura island is part of this region.

Wayang kulit scheduled at 7.30pm, but we had to forego it

Bali garden

Rumah Sumenep

It was then already 1.30pm so we had to move to Tanah Abang already. Tanah Abang market is located in the Kelurahan Kebon Kacang. It turned out that we would still be stuck in traffic. We arrived at Tanah Abang at around 3pm. We had only 2 hours to shop at the 14 storey building. It is the biggest textile market in SEA.

Macet Jakarta

Tanah Abang: 14 storey building

We didn't shop much here as it was too big and too confusing to manouvre through. As usual I was already feeling hungry (we hadn't had lunch yet), so we headed to the Food Court at Block B. But it was close to 5pm so the food stalls were also closing. We went for solat instead, and by the time we were done, most of the shops were already closed. We had to go back to Block A as our van was parked there. Since the connection bridge was also already closed, we had to cross the chaotic road, with people and vehicles full to the brim. It was challenging too, to find our way back to the lift at Block A. Thankfully a Satpam (security person) guided us through.

Shops already closed!

From Tanah Abang we headed to Plaza Indonesia as Mas wanted to buy some t-shirts from Hard Rock Cafe. After that we had dinner at Kafe Betawi. Nice cafe, reasonable price. I tried the Mie Tek Tek (it's the sound of the sudip banging the frying pan while cooking it). A little bit more window shopping to compare prices of original items back in Malaysia, then we headed to our hotel – Smart Hotel nearby.

Mie Tek Tek

Kafe Betawi @ Plaza Indonesia

No more episodes of changing hotels as we were satisfied with this one. Although the room is quite small, it was comfy, clean and looked modern. The girls were staying 3 at a room (there's no option for triple sharing at this hotel), so we just cramped up for the night. It was only one night after all. I asked reception for any massage spas nearby, but they were not sure of any. They suggested a massause could come to our room for a foot massage at IDR200K. I declined and went for sleep therapy instead

Jakarta @ night

Our Smart room ;-)


Monday, December 13, 2010

Travelogue: Bandung Day 2

Day 2 : Bandung

Sun, 5 Dec 2010

Alhamdulillah, Ibu Yanti got my message. She arrived at Unik Hotel on the dot at 7am with son Ady and Pak Suhana (supir). While waiting for us to have breakfast, Ibu went to the nearby Kartika Sari cake factory and packed some local delicacies. (I forgot the names, but will check it out ) Lovely!

We then fetched Razeif at Arwiga. He seemed OK with his room though, so he would be staying put there. We then headed to Tangkuban Prahu, which is still an active volcano, about 1 hour from Bandung city, in the Subang district (yup there's also a Subang area here). On the way up, I saw some rabbits (kelinci) big and small lined up at the stalls – to be sold as pets or end up on plates as satay (poor them...I couldn't bear eating those cute creatures).

Back to Tangkuban Prahu. Its name originated from an upturned boat. Legend has it that Dayang Sumbi, a beauty who lived in West Java cast away her son Sangkuriang for disobedience. She was granted the power of eternal youth by the gods. Sangkuriang decided to return to his home after many years and fell in love with Dayang Sumbi without them recognizing each other. But then, just before their marriage, Dayang Sumbi recognized his birthmark. To prevent the marriage from taking place, Dayang Sumbi asked Sangkuriang to build a dam on the river Citarum and to build a large boat to cross the river, both before sunrise. Dayang Sumbi saw that the tasks were almost completed and called on her workers to spread red silk cloths, to give the impression of impending sunrise. Sangkuriang was fooled, and upon believing that he had failed, kicked the dam and the unfinished boat, resulting in severe flooding and the creation of Tangkuban Perahu from the hull of the boat. Excerpted from here.

Geologically speaking, Tangkuban Prahu is a part of the series of volcanoes on the Pacific Ring of Fire, and is one of the 45 active volcanoes on Java island / Sunda straits. Yes, and there are more – 35 active volcanoes on Sumatra (much bigger island than Java), and more volcanoes on the Sunda Islands, Banda Sea, Sulawesi and Halmahera (north of Maluku archipelago). See here for the list of volcanoes in Indonesia. Overall there are 150 volcanoes in the list. In terms of shape, it is a stratovolcano – a conical volcano built up by many layers (strata) of hardened lava, tephra, pumice and volcanic ash. It last erupted in 1983. There are a few craters here – Kawah Ratu (the main one upon reaching from the entrance), Domas and Upas (already inactive).

Upon reaching the park by van, we were greeted by breahtakingly beautiful view of Kawah Ratu and the strong smell of sulphur . It was foggy and cold, but most definitely refreshing. The vegetation of Tangkuban Prahu is also unique to mountanious conditions – comprising of Ericaceae and Dipterocarpaceae plants.

Ratu spews poisonous gas, so visitors are not allowed to descend to the crater. So we hiked to the now dormant Kawah Upas about 1km away. We took the opportunity to take photos at the boulder between Kawah Ratu and Kawah Upas, and of course our jumping shots. That was a truly once in a lifetime moment to take photos on a crater!

Kawah Ratu

Ubat panau from volcanic sulphur

Us with Ibu Yanti & Ady

The unique vegetation

Jumping among the trees

Trek to Kawah Upas

In between Kawah Ratu & Kawah Upas

Jumping between Kawah Ratu & Upas

From Kawah Upas, visitors can trek about 4 hours to reach back at Kawah Ratu using a different route. But we turned back instead as we were not prepared for such conditions and Ibu was waiting for us anyway. Ibu mentioned that during her university days, she did hike up Tangkuban Prahu.

By the time we reached back, we were already hungry. So again Ibu fed us with tahu goreng isi, eaten with cili api and washed down with hot Bandreg (milk tea with ginger). Ah such simple pleasures are highly satisfying. We then hunted for some souvenirs – miniature musical instruments and knitted dress and a toy for little Alya.

Stalls selling souvenirs

Next destination was Restoran Kampung Daun at Cihideung for our gastronomic pleasure. But wait, hadn't we just eaten? We are a bunch of perpetually hungry people LOL! The journey to Kampung Daun was quite a distance – took us about an hour – enough to catch some forty winks (or as Razeif calls it - “power nap”) Just as we left Tangkuban Prahu, it rained quite heavily – that some parts we passed by seemed almost flooded and there were minor landslides.

What a beautiful place Restoran Kampung Daun turned to be! Definitely worth the long journey. There were huts where we would be eating lesehan style, with comfy cushion (too comfy, we felt like lying down after eating ), surrounded by a river flowing from Mt Burangrang . Ibu ordered us all the specialties of Sunda dish – Nasi Timbel Bakar, Gurame Bakar and Gurame Goreng Sambal Cobek. For dessert she ordered Es Goyobod (Es Campur) and Surabi keju. All the dishes tasted great. Ibu treated us yet again – she was just so nice to us :-)

The waterfall at Restoran Kg Daun

Ibu Yanti

Our snugly hut

Surabi keju

Nasi timbel

Gurame bakar

Es Goyobod

We then headed for Pasar Baru to shop for ahem, materials for Mas' upcoming events, Liza's sister's engagement and telekung (or mukena). The girls almost got all that they wanted here. Almost because we arrived at about 4pm WIB so we had only 1 hour to shop. Pasar Baru closes at 5pm. Mas got Ibu's help to bargain for the items. Liza fared quite good bargaining on her own.

Liza bargaining

Shopping done, what else to do but more shopping! Painting hunting was next on the agenda at Jl Braga. Razeif or Liza could help with the name of the shop. Scenes of card swiping (or gesek kartu) was now in full swing because cash was running low, and it was only the second day!

Painting along Jl Braga

Painting shopping done – it was now back to the Factory Outlets (FO). Ibu brought us to Heritage, For Men and Terminal Tas at Jl Martadinata (Riau area). More shopping ensued until closing time at 9pm WIB. Feeling hungry again, we now headed to Pak Pancha's favourite haunt at the Cilaki seafood stalls. But before going for dinner, Ibu again tapau-ed us more food – this time me and Mas' favourite Roti Bakar Cheese from Bakeri Tunggal. (Pak Pancha always brought this to office everytime he came back from Bandung)

At Heritage

Roti Bakar Tunggal. Yummy!

At Cilaki, we had Udang Pelas Saos Padang, Cap Cay vegetable and ayam kuluyuk (I think, based on the menu VS googled images). We were also entertained by 'live music' by the street musicians singing their self-written songs. Ibu mentioned sometimes a singer with the voice of a female (when singing) but changed to male when talking would come to entertain, but he/she didn't show up that night.

'Live music'

Udang pelas saos Padang

Ayam kuluyuk

Cilaki Seafood Waroeng

After dinner, Ibu could finally sigh with relief of being 'released' from the clutches of the food and shopping hungry Malaysians ;-) Ady had called his mother a few times asking when she'd be coming home, while Dina her daughter (she didn't join us as she had an exam coming up) had already went to sleep. We hugged Ibu and said our goodbyes to her. We promised to take her for lunch/dinner/take her around whenever she comes to KL. Such a sweet and most generous lady to treat us to Tangkuban Prahu, lunch at Kg Daun, dinner at Cilaki and the delicacies from Kartika Sari and Bakeri Tunggal. I guess it's true – do good unto others – it is contagious – it will spread on :-)

We are so indebted to Ibu Yanti, Pak Pancha and family.