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Zurich Trip

Unlike any other experienced, well-planned travelers offering many tips to save your budget and welcoming the possibilities to meet many other travelers from all over the world by staying in mixed dorm in a cheap hostel, I’m not one of them. I am more of a beginner, sudden, careless, private, easy-to-satisfy traveler with just enough budget to spend in a moderate manner.

So?

And I believe that from 7 billions people in the world, there must be some of you who just exactly like me:

  • Whose favorite links to read are Lonely Planet, Naked Traveler and many other travel blogs and wishing to be as adventurous as the writers and brave enough to explore what others seldom do when traveling somewhere, but in fact, quite satisfied just strolling around the city, visiting the famous landmarks, taking 2-3 signature pictures with herself in it.
  • Who is doubtful to her own capabilities to travel alone but eager to get more experienced.
  • Who have limited money but always want to buy magnets and postcards from every cities for collection of self-achievement and presents for family or friends.
  • Who is quite satisfied with hot water shower after walking the whole day and checking out pictures taken in camera rather than checking out the hip city night life in famous bar or club.
  • Who doesn’t mind spending much more to stay in a decent private room to ensure that she got a good sleep after spending the whole day exploring the city and preparing for another trip tomorrow.

For those of you who’s just exactly like that, I wrote down my experiences and ‘mistakes’ during my traveling in this particular post and any other posts later so you can at least avoid doing the same mistakes and save more money to buy another small souvenirs for your friends, hehe..

fufu

 

 

In previous post, I told you that I’m currently living in Germany, which is located in the center of Europe, so I always try to set aside some days and budget to travel to countries I’ve never been in Europe. It got easier if I got company, like my close friend, Alis. On the last Christmas and New Year Break, we traveled to Eastern Europe: Prague-Budapest-Vienna-Warsaw for 10 days. We planned thoroughly, discussed the itinerary, choosing the best and cheapest hostel, dividing the task on who books for transportation and accommodation. Perfect plan! And companies along the trip? Of course more fun guaranteed! (I’ll write about this later.)

But many times, I have time and money but no company, like this semester break. Do I just let this break slip away without going anywhere? No way! But I have never traveled alone? Well, there’s always the first for everything. So, in a hurry, I booked the train tickets to Zurich, Switzerland and searched for the cheapest single room available for 1 night. I chose Switzerland because they speak German and it’s just below Germany. So, I guessed I won’t get much trouble traveling by myself.

I’ve read that Switzerland is one of the most expensive country, but I have no idea that the scale would be this different. The train tickets cost me 110 Euro for round trip with City Night Line, so I’ll be spending 2 nights sleeping on the train trip. That’s a logical choice because the cheapest single room in a hostel in Zurich cost me 61 Euro! My Goodness, so expensive!

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And it’s not like I have other choice because I don’t really like sharing room with unknown people in mixed dorm. Yes, it’s cheap but you can’t really sleep well. And if I travel by myself, I’d prefer to spoil myself with the most affordable luxury I can get, at least in form of private room. This is my first solo trip anyway, said my brain to justify hundreds of Euros that keep coming out from my wallet and debit card. To save a little bit money, I bring many foods from home. It is a really wise decision, considering the fact that Doner Kebab costs me 8 Euro! My God! So, to comfort my heart (and my wallet), I had lunch along the river, the weather was great and the view was beautiful, really comforting. I think most people in Zurich have lunch here, it’s so crowded, but you can always find some places to sit and eat or read.

The thing about traveling around cities in Europe is, you have to know the scale of each cities as a consideration whether you need to buy daily transportation tickets or not. If you just want to travel around center of Zurich, you don’t need one because the famous landmarks are in walking distance. I have no idea about this so when I arrived, I bought 16,80 Sfr worth of public transportation to 4 Zones in Tourist Center, even though I will only go around Zurich and Uetliberg (2 Zones) and I just need to pay half of it or 8,40 Sfr. So, first lesson: make sure you know the zone you’re going to visit and state clearly that you only want to buy tickets for those certain zones. You can check the price here and the tips for public transportation in Zurich here. Well, since I’ve bought it anyway, let’s just use it without regret. Train in Switzerland is excellent anyway, deluxe quality. Even compared to the same trains in Germany, here in Switzerland it is much much better. Awesome!

Deluxe train

Deluxe train

Oh, there is also Zurich Card which provide you with free admission to many museums, besides access to public transportation in certain zones for 24 hours or 72 hours, but I didn’t buy it because at first I don’t think I will visit many museums. I spend the rest of the days thinking about it, whether I should buy it or not, but luckily most of museums I visit are free or luckily free on that day, such as Zoology Museum, Paleontology Museum, Focusterra Museum and Kunstshaus Zurich. I only have to pay 8 Sfr for Landesmuseum Zurich which located just across Zurich Hbf, but it’s worth it anyway. The museum is so big and so great!

So here is my suggestion for your trip in Zurich:

Buy daily transportation ticket for 1-2 Zones costs 8,40 Sfr, then travel to Uetliberg, the top of Zurich. The view is marvelous! Then go back to Zurich and visit Landesmuseum (8 Sfr for student). After that, go to ETH and University of Zurich using Polybahn (funicular train). These universities are amazing! Even just looking around inside the building makes me want to study here. What a rare feeling, haha.. Around this university complex, there are also Zoology Museum, Paleontology Museum and Focusterra Museum. Visit them, they are free anyway. You can spend the rest of the day strolling aroung old town, it’s beautiful.

Top of Zurich in Mt. Uetliberg. Superb view!

Top of Zurich in Mt. Uetliberg. Superb view!

Well, since I didn’t expect that I can manage to explore Zurich in less than 2 days and since I suffered from high fever (I know, such a bad timing), I went back to the hostel very early and decided to take a rest after having dinner and medicine. I realized that I have more than enough time tomorrow to visit the remaining landmarks, so on the next day, I started at 10 PM and go to Kunsthaus Zurich, visit Opera Haus then spending the whole afternoon relaxing in the riverside, walking until Zurichhorn, having lunch, reading and just enjoying the moment. So relaxing. Then I walk back to the city center, visiting Fraumunster Church, Stadthaus, eating at one of the Zurich bridge, drinking hot tea, then reading again in Lindenhof (another great place to get relax) until sunset. 2 hours before my train back to Germany, I just strolled around Bahnhofstrasse, the busy main street filled with luxurious shopping store, then go to Zurich Hbf.

whoa, like a sketch! Spending few hours just sitting and reading in this beautiful park

whoa, like a sketch! Spending few hours just sitting and reading in this beautiful park

Oh, i forgot to tell you about souvenirs hunting! After I visited Landesmuseum, I go to the shop there and find a really cute Swiss Army knife in small size with different beautiful pattern from Victorinox. I thought it was limited edition and I won’t find it anywhere else, so I bought 2 for 20 Sfr each (around 16,50 Euro). I was so happy until I checked-in in my hostel and saw that they sell the same knife for 16,50 Sfr each (around 11 Euro). My God! I feel so irritated!

icon_evil

 

 

I can save around 7 Euro and buy something else with that. Well, whatever. So, second suggestion: don’t be in a hurry, take your time finding souvenirs, compare the price until you get the cheaper one. If you’ve bought many and still find some shops offering more cheaper souvenirs, just forget it. We have to save money if possible but it’s not like our life will be screwed if we pay a little bit more for souvenirs (another justification, haha..)

So, that’s it, my relaxing first solo trip. I really enjoyed it! I hope you find it useful and somehow encourage you to travel more, solo or group! I’ll make sure to write my other travel experiences.

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Living in Germany

It’s been more than 3 months since I first arrived here in Germany. Life is good here and now I’m getting used to everything around.

I still remembered the first day coming here to Dortmund, so exhausting. Pulling and lifting 27 kg luggage and 8 kg backpack. I felt like my body was almost breaking into pieces.

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Good thing that the next days were all about settling down: administration, opening bank account, signing health insurance and got to know new friends! I could recover slowly. But I still couldn’t find some foods that really suits my taste and I know none Indonesian people to ask around here so I only ate bread, salad and fruits on my first few weeks.

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first breakfast at hostel

It was torturing, as I usually ate heavy meals 3 times a day. I could feel that I lose a lot of weights, my jeans was loosening and my stomach became so flat! I was amazed but I was not happy. I’m glad to be skinnier but I’d be happier if I ate many more to my heart content.

Thankfully, I have a relative living nearby in MĂĽnster. She has been here for almost 1 year so she can inform me a lot about the proper way of living in Germany, especially where to go shop and buy halal foods. And she is also very good at cooking, so after a few tutorial with her, I encourage myself to cook more and it is much more enjoyable for me than eating at Mensa (Canteen) or any other restaurants here.

Grocery shopping is a little bit challenging and requires certain skills. Almost all is done by yourself: taking out the grocery to conveyor belt and put it into your shopping bag. Sometimes when you buy so many things and your bag is not big enough, you try to find some spaces for another stuffs in a few seconds but then when you look out again, all other stuffs are finished being scanned, stacked, waiting to be put inside the bag, the cashier asks you to pay and another customer has already waiting in line. So busy, no time to breathe, haha.. In some way, I find living in Indonesia is so ‘luxurious’. Customer is really treated as a king. When you do grocery shopping, all you have to do is only paying. At times, there is even another extra person aside from cashier whose job is to put your stuffs into shopping bag. It seems trivial but now i feel that’s something to be grateful for.

Another challenging things here is of course: weather. I came here in the end of summer and it was about 17 degree Celcius. It feels like I’m in Garut, my hometown. I like it that I got the chance to be more stylish and fashionable with coat and boots, but after one month and it’s started getting colder (now the average temperature is about 4 degree Celcius), you don’t really care about fashion anymore. All you can think about is how to buried yourself in warm clothes and not getting frozen while walking to class or home. I wore clothes as thick as I can but in bad weather, I can feel that my face, hand and legs feels numb because of the cold wind. I don’t know how i will survive on the worst weather (people here said last year was about -15 degree Celcius), I can’t imagine it. Last week, there was a hurricane in Germany and the wind was so strong. I went to class with so much effort (even though it’s only 5 minutes walking distance) and after I arrived in class, I was in shock for about 15 minutes. My mind went blank. I was taken aback. That was my first time experiencing that kind of weather and it’s somehow affecting your brain.

Setting aside the weather, living here is quite enjoyable and encourage you to travel more. During my 3 months here, I’ve made trips to several (countries and) cities around Germany for excursion or individual travel: (Paris, Amsterdam, Delft, Rotterdam, Enschede) Berlin, Weimar, Jena, Leipzig, Köln, etc. But still, I find that Dortmund is the most livable city for me, i feel safe here.  And moreover, it is located in North-Rhein Westphalen, the most populated state in Germany with so many big cities nearby. Now if I look back into my life, I’m feeling so grateful that I’ve got accepted to study at this time and in this city.

ImageGetting around is also so convenient (of course if you use Indonesian standard of public transport). On the first day, I got a book with the schedule of all buses and trains (S-Bahn, U-Bahn, Nacht Express) but now I use app in phone. Much more convenient. You can check many alternatives of bus or train to take from your initial point to destination, at what time, the route, map, and any other info (such as when there is delay). It’s always punctual and makes it easier to plan the trip. Now, I use German standards of public transport and it’s annoying to have even only 1-2 minutes delay, haha..

I will tell you more about my life here, I have so much to tell!

fufu

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Anyeong, Seoul! Part 1

On 2012, Korean Wave (Korean drama and K-Pop) was starting to rise as a hot issue, so consequently Seoul became a top travel destination for Indonesian.

My friend, Astri, whom currently taking her master study in Korea, invites me, my sister Milla and my friend Adit to travel to Seoul. We think it’ll be such a nice trip, so we search for a budget flight immediately and decide to go there on mid July 2012.

After the ticket’s issued, we apply for South Korean visa. You can check the requirements here. If your application is complete, you can get your visa issued in 3-4 workdays.

Funny thing when I’m about to apply for visa, I call my father and ask him to complete the requirements for my sister.

“All rite, then! No problem at all” said him. “What are they?”

Then I began to mention all the requirements which was quite troublesome to take care for a busy man like him.

“Oh, God. so difficult. Can’t you just do it by yourself?” He gave up already.

“I can, but I need more money in my account to guarantee that we both have enough for 3 days-trip there.”

“That’s easy!”

Turns out it’s  much easier for me to ask my father for money than asking him to complete visa requirement.

con_redface

 

 

Day 1

The news about our departure has reached my big family so 2 cars are taking me and my sister to airport along with my mom, my aunts and my cousins, hahaha..  Off we go!

The flight is so long. I can barely sleep because the seat is uncomfortable (what do you expect from budget flight?). I can’t read anything too because the light is off already on midnight. Good thing I buy burger on my way to airport. I munch silently, hoping that nobody aware of it. Quite helpful. At least I got something to do.

 

Day 2

We arrive at Incheon the next morning. The airport is so cool!

Incheon Airport

After capturing enough photos of this amazing airport, we head to another side of airport to buy T-money card and ride airport train (AREX). The trip from Incheon Airport to Seoul is taking about an hour. The train is clean and comfortable, and each station is as good as the airport in mini-version. I always find myself feels super excited every time I try public transportation in a foreign country because it delights me somehow to have this sophisticated experience and it is something rarely exist in my country.

We get off at Hongdae station and find Astri waiting outside Gate 9. We proceed to the hostel to put our backpack down, take a bath and have breakfast. Fortunately, there’s a room available for 3 people so Astri, Milla and me stay in one room together while Adit has to sleep with 7 other people in a room with 4 bunk-beds. My room  has 4 air-mattress, located at the rooftop with transparent view of other building’s roof and chilly wind infiltrating as it’s still between spring and summer. But we find it very pleasant ’cause it feels like camping. Wohoo!

Then, we have pokkemchampong as our breakfast. At first, it tastes usual as any other spicy seafood noodles, but as I chew and chew, it gets seriously spicy and water begins running down out of my nose. It marks out my 3 days suffering from indigestion and I can tell you it is awfully tiresome to experience this abroad.

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After feeling refreshed, we set off to Seoul Station (which is super modern and crowded), pass through the Old-Seoul Station (now  Culture Station of Seoul and I have seen it on Running Man!), to War Memorial of Korea and National Museum of Korea (I’ve seen it also on Running Man).

War Memorial of Korea

Inside National Museum of Korea

The museums are free, well designed with great aesthetic, latest technology, and free water dispenser! Going around Seoul means a lot of walking, and free water dispenser really helps me a lot to survive from this amount of walk.

It’s raining outside but we’re hungry so we decide to eat bingsu. Brain freezing but delicious!

Green Tea Bingsu. Yummy! :9

Afterwards, we take the belt bus to Namsan Tower.  Bus riding experience in Seoul is no different than taking its train. You have to tap your T-money card to the scan machine when getting in and getting off. Mm, taking the bus has never felt this modern!

The bus stop to Namsan Tower is located on the below side of the hill while  the tower is uphill. With our feet used up to its maximum capacity , it is indeed a struggle to get there with the wind blows so strong and the sky is getting darker. After seeing the phenomenal love locks and buying the ticket hurriedly because of the rain, we queuing to take the lift to Observatory deck. It is Saturday night and I realize that we’re the only group with no romance, because all other people are busy PDA-ing with their couple. Korean people are not shy to show their affection in public.

The mysterious Namsan Tower *foggy*

lock your heart together with mine #eaaa

The view from observatory deck is kinda unclear, covered by fog and rain, but we can still see the citylight. There’s an indicator in each part of glass surrounding the deck which states the distance of all capital cities in the world from Seoul. We take a photo in Jakarta’s part.

privacy issue. all faces are hidden on purpose, haha

Happy! Feels like we couldn’t be much happier but we’re wrong! It’s time for Teddy Bear Museum! They are all so adorable and dressed in different themes. I’m smiling from ear to ear dying by cuteness.

cuteness overload

Satisfied. It’s 9 pm already. Time to go home. But the rain’s just getting heavier. Fortunately we’ve bought umbrella before starting our trip in the morning (the transparent one is for Milla, the black one is for Adit while Astri and I’ve brought our own umbrella). We have dinner in Hongdae area, near the hostel and order fried rice in normal portion but quite large for 4 of us. So full!

Finally arrived at the hostel. My feet hurt so bad like it’s gonna fall off but today’s trip is super fun. And I just found out that our hostel is located above the bar, haha.. i bet it’s quite unusual for youngsters there seeing me heading up above (to the hostel of course, not to the bar).

Lesson learned in my first day in Seoul:

First. I recognize almost all places we visited today (and the next day) via variety show Running Man and other dramas. Art and entertainment are effective to promote Korean tourism and increase its foreign exchange. The smart thing is because through this way, human resources develops and Korea doesn’t lose anything, unlike us Indonesian which exploited natural resources and ended up decreasing our environment quality.

Second. Compare to Indonesia, Korea has less amazing natural landscape but they set every places attractively with theme, decoration, experience, etc. Every attraction offers you a unique and memorable moment though artificial. Two thumbs up for their marketing ability.

Third. Elder people are surprisingly healthy, independent and they work as hard as the younger one. And the government guarantee  some jobs for them, such as cleaning in museum and any other jobs. Any work is good for them as long as they manage to get their own income. Their position is also highly valued, particularly in public transportation. In Indonesia, elder people considered all fragile and forbidden to work. But their position is not highly valued in public transportation.

They are friendly to foreign people, too. When I take the train and give my seat away for a grandmother, she is touched and pats my shoulder gently while smiling widely. Then when we’re about to get off on the next station, a grandfather asks Astri about me. Why do I wear head-cover though it’s not winter? With limited understanding on his Korean accent, Astri explain that I am a muslim while I smile and nod politely to him. He’s just getting more interested in me and asks Astri another questions, haha..

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How I love traveling. It opens my mind and makes me learn something new in different perspective.

Part 2 coming soon!

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Bangkok Trip (Part 3-End)

Day 3

On our last day in Bangkok, we start off a little late than yesterday because there’s not much place to visit today. Today is my turn and Catri’s to have breakfast at restaurant. So, at about 8 AM, we go to the lobby and we meet the woman who helps us ‘finding’ this hotel!

“Hello, we meet again!” I greet her with smile.

“Oh, so you stay here, too!”

“Yeah, in which tower do you stay?”

“I stay with my family in Tower 3.”

“Thanks again for your help back then.”

“You’re welcome. Have you all worked or are you all students?” She’s curious about our age. She’s very tall but I think she is much younger than us.

“We work.”

“Ooo..” maybe she’s realizing the same thing, too. Though I’m much smaller than her, I am, in fact, older.

“… when we first met you all, and knew that you hadn’t booked a hotel yet, I was thinking, ‘wow, these girls are super brave! Going abroad without knowing where to stay yet? I can’t do that.'”

“Hahahaha…”

“Hey, have you gone shopping?”

“Yes, yesterday we came to Chatuchak Market. It was super fun and satisfying.”

“Did you shop enough?” Mm, what kind of question is this? Is she going to treat us something?

“You have to go to MBK Center!! Many things are cheaper there.”

“Whoa, is it? We’re actually going there today. Ok! We’ll find some more! Thank you.”

Then we both go back to our seat and having our own breakfast. I told Catri everything.

Our flight to Jakarta is in 9.30 PM so we checked out first and have our (bigger) backpacks kept in hotel while we continue exploring Bangkok in our last hours here.

The total of 2 days stay in Grand President is 6500 Baht. Since we deposited 8000 Baht when checking in at the first night, we get 1500 Baht back. Yippie! Another Baht for shopping in MBK Center. Quite cheap for such a great hotel with great facilities. *Of course! Cause one room used by 4 people!*

 

 

Today we decided to visit Dusit Palace first. MBK Center can wait, it won’t be going anywhere.

We take BTS from Nana Station, transit at Siam Station then take another train to National Museum Station.

From National Museum Station, we can see 3 level of roads which is used by 3 different transportation modes. First level is for cars, bus and motorcycles. Second level used for pedestrians. And the third level is for BTS.

We ride tuktuk again to Dusit Palace. It is located near Bangkok’s Zoo.

Dusit Palace is a complex of palace but the other buildings are located quite far and not in a walking-distance from the first palace, so we just visit this Ananda Samakhom Throne Hall.

Free entry but woman visitor should wear a skirt to go inside. Fortunately, they provide some colored fabrics costs 40 Baht in a stand right outside the entry door. So, in conclusion it is some kind of ticket, too.

The interior inside is so European, like the castle I watched in Three Musketeers movie.

We can’t take pictures at all here. So, let me tell you that everything inside this castle is very luxurious and expensive. There are kitchenware, ship miniature, temple miniature and many more. All of them made from gold, silver, ruby, emerald, etc. This is the real Jewel in the Palace.

 

 

No wonder the security guards are everywhere and there are cameras everywhere, too.

But one thing that makes me such in awe is this one huge engraving from wood and in 3D!! Like for real, in 3D. It’s like comic book which tells us that in a temple in a huge forest full of dragons, Buddha is having its meditation. The depth of the dragons, trees and temples engraved in an unbelievable rate I can’t believe that its all made in unity.

Dusit Palace done explored!

Move on to Madame Tussauds Museum in Siam Discovery Mall. We go there by taxi.

Waow! All transportation modes done tried, too!

Yesterday we find Madame Tussauds Museum brochures at hotel lobby and find out that there is 200 Baht discount in each of the brochures.

We were excited and thought of it as some kind of give and take.

We pay (give) some huge amount of Baht for hotel and in return we get (take) a slightest cheaper price for entry to the museums. Not apple to apple, though, haha..

Well, we spend most of our time today here. Too excited and too busy posing with our idols.

Finishing with super satisfied feeling, we continue our trip to MBK Center. We’re gonna buy Thailand’s foods for our office colleagues. But, after a fun and tiring photo session with famous people in museums, we think that we should get some lunch first so we’re heading to Burger King. When we saw the menu choice, ouch! mostly pork meat, so we ask for the beef meat. But I think the oil used to cook the meat… oh, what the hell, I’m eating it.

After lunch, we’re hunting more souvenirs and foods. I’ve been told the right thing: many things are cheaper here. I regret buying a few things more expensive in Chatuchak Market. But I still have a few hundred Baht from hotel, let’s spend it out with no regret!

It’s already past Ashar time so we search for a mushola here. Rumors said that there’s one in MBK Center. We’re asking everywhere again, (don’t be ashamed to ask!) and no one told us the right direction. Until we meet some jilbabers in a certain level in MBK Center. We come closer and ask whether she knows the location of mushola or not. And yes, she is Indonesian, too. But unfortunately she doesn’t know where it is, too. So, we search it together and find it in 6th level.

After shalat, we had a talk for a while. Her name is Iis, she is from Jambi and she’s currently taking a master degree in medical science here in one of the university in Thailand. We exchange emails and separated. After finding some Thailand’s foods we go back to Grand President to take our backpacks, packing again and left for Suvarnabhumi Airport.

The train we took today costs half than the last airport train we took when we first arrive here (the express one), only 45 Baht. It’s because this one stops in every station. No wonder it’s cheaper and we have to stand at the corner because it’s quite crowded.

Arriving safely in Suvarnabhumi Airport, we’re looking for Tom Yam for dinner and find Muslims prayer room. A tall Arabian guy standing inside sees us and says “Assalamualaikum”, I doubt for a while then realize that he’s not mang2 (?) who always makes fun of Assalamualaikum to flirt with a girl, so I reply “Waalaikumsalam” and going inside mushola.

It’s such a relief to see a mushola. We’re lying down a while then take wudhu in turn. There is some kind of chair in front of water tap. Mbak Iis told us before that it’s more comfortable to sit while taking wudhu. So Alis and I try it and it is indeed more comfortable.

 

 

Maghrib and Isya’s shalat are done. Now, it’s time for Tom Yam dinner before checking in. 250 Baht each and we’re running out of Baht, so we just buy 2 bowls.

Checking in, waiting, boarding, take off.

Thank you Bangkok for this awesome weekend. We’ll see you again later.

 

 

On Tuesday 2 AM, we arrive in Jakarta safely. At 3 AM, Alis and I arrive at home. At 9 AM, I wake up then go to work.

 

 

Note:

I think there are some inaccurate price of train, boat or entry tickets to museum.

It’s because I don’t really remember it, we should ask Catri for sure 🙂

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Bangkok Trip (Part 2)

Day 2

I think I make a mistake on setting the international roaming service from my phone. It doesn’t work at all in Bangkok. So I use Irma’s phone to text my boyfriend and have him texted my Mom about my arrival  here in Bangkok.

While Catri and I getting ready for the trip, Irma and Alis going down to the restaurant in the lobby floor to have breakfast. Since it is only for two persons, we take turn so Catri and I will have breakfast tomorrow.

15 minutes later, they come back and we start our second day trip in Bangkok. Fufufuuu…

 

 

The amazing thing about Bangkok is its integrated public transportation. A few years ago, I heard that traffic condition in Bangkok is much worse than in Jakarta. But now, Bangkok is very much steps ahead of Jakarta in public transportation. Ironic, we can’t stop imagining the time when Jakarta will have this kind of integrated system of transportation.

Oh! One of our goals while traveling here is trying out every transportation mode in Bangkok, such as Airport Rail Link Train, Subway Train, BTS Sky Train, bus, tuktuk, taxi and boat. Yesterday, we’ve tried Airport Rail Link Train and Subway Train, so today, as a start-off, we use Bangkok Mass Transit System or commonly known as the BTS Skytrain to go to our next destination. It is also an elevated rapid transit system (like Airport Rail Link) which serves Bangkok metropolitan route.

Yesterday, we also found out that Sukhumvit 11 Road is much closer to Nana Station than Sukhumvit Station. So, Nana Station will be our start-off point everyday.

Our next destination: Grand Palace

From Nana Station, we have to go to Chao Phraya Station then taking a boat across Chao Phraya River to Grand Palace.

We pay about 100 Baht for 4 tickets. Yesterday in subway station, each of us got a token to pass the gate, while now here in BTS Station we get a small card to get through it. Pay attention to the ticket price, because later at the other station (I don’t remember where) we can’t pass through the gate. We pay less than it costs to our destination because we didn’t expect to take 2 routes. The ticket filled automatically only with some amounts of Baht we choose at ticket machine.

Arriving in Chao Phraya Station, we walk to a small port near BTS Station, pay for boat tickets and find ourselves a seat in a boat heading to Grand Palace.

The Chao Phraya River is brown-colored, just like every river in Indonesia, but it’s pretty clean, neat and some buildings (like French Embassy and Shangrila Hotel) making the river its front yard.

The tour guide in the front side of the boat explaining some facts about Chao Phraya River or building s around the river. I can’t hear him properly because we sit at the back side so I make myself busy with taking some photos.

Beautiful, isn’t it?

The boat stops in Maharadja Port. From this port, we walk for about 300 meters and here it is,

The Grand Palace!

Very crowded today, I bet because it’s weekend.

This place is amazing! I’m wondering why our Borobudur Temple doesn’t get this much attention as Grand Palace. We’re being left behind (again) by Thailand in tourism.

The Grand Palace complex was established in 1782 and it consists of not only the royal residence and throne halls, but also a number of government offices as well as the renowned Temple of the Emerald Buddha. It covers an area of 218.000 square meters and is surrounded by four walls, 1900 meters in length. (Source: Guide to Grand Palace)

I guess for this second day trip, I’ll let the pictures speak for itself.

 

 

 

Next destination is Wat Pho which is located in a walking distance from Grand Palace. I think I have ever seen this lying Buddha statue before when it hasn’t covered by temple yet. Am I imagining things?

Wat Pho is done explored.

Now it’s time for National Museum of Thailand. We’re taking tuktuk there and pay 120 Baht.

We’re going back to Wat Pho by tuktuk again to take a bus to Chatuchak Market. And we find out that it only costs half of the first tuktuk price (60 Baht) to get to Wat Pho again!!

 

 

The bus is bright colored. We take the yellow one to Chatuchak Market. It is new and very clean, but the driver drives the bus crazily like Kopaja driver in Jakarta.

I’m sleepy but I’m feeling insecure.

 

 

So I look around the view outside and find some building’s gate covered by plastic. So this downtown area is flooded, too.

Chatuchak Market is a weekly market selling all kind of things, mostly souvenirs, and foods with a cheap price. It is is located quite far from Wat Pho, about 1 hour by bus. After having so much walk around Grand Palace and Wat Pho, we can’t stand to close our eyes for a bit..

.. and awakened in a right time!

Some passengers walk closer to the bus door while bus slows down. So Irma asked one old man,

“Chatuchak Market?”

He nods and says “Chatuchak.”

We’re getting off from our seat and walk out from the bus happily. Thank God we wake up and arrive here safely.

First, we walk around to find some foods for lunch. The food stalls pretty much like Pedagang Kaki Lima in Indonesia. We decided to eat in one of food stall, and ask,

“No pork?”

“No, this is pork.” and she kicked us out from there.

So we search for another secure food for us to eat.

After a while, we find a food stall with an English menu, so we sit there and read the menu further.

I find that this food stall serves pork also and I already have a disgusting imagination about the food there. I think the smells is weird so I decided not to eat.

“You’re not eating, Mi?”

“Nope, I don’t wanna. You guys go ahead.”

“But you didn’t have breakfast this morning.”

“It’s ok.”

“How about you, Cat, Lis?” Irma asks doubtfully.

“I think it’s ok for me. I’ll have beef noodles.” Catri replies.

“Me, too.” says Alis.

Food is one of our main problem for us Muslims when traveling in Thailand. There is no guarantee that it’s halal, even for food with chicken. So search carefully and decide the safest food to eat. There’s so much street food in Sukhumvit 11 Road, but we’re too afraid to try cause it all seems suspicious.

While we’re eating, suddenly 2 man come closer and ask,

“…Muslims…?” not hearing properly because we’re busy talking and we’re too surprised of meeting another Muslims here, so we reply at the same time,

“Yes! Yes!”

Then he talks to his colleagues and says,

“Ok, it’s Muslims food.”

Realizing what he asked before, we reply again at the same time,

“Nooo!! Nooo!! We are not sure!!”

He stands still and staring at us,

“Then what are you eating?”

“We eat beef noodles.”

“But this is not Muslims food?” he repeats his question.

“Yeah, we are not sure..”

Then he talks again to his colleagues,

“Oooh, mereka juga ngga yakin.”

Four of us froze.

 

 

“Lho? Indonesia?!”

“Lho? Kalian juga? Saya kira Malaysia.”

I bet it’s because of my jilbab style.

“Trus kenapa kalian makan disini?”

Irma replies at once,

“Abis udah muter2 daritadi ga ketemu2, laper, ya udah makan deh”

“Ooh, saya sih takut sapinya dicekek, hehe.. Di sisi belakang sana tadi saya nemu yang jualan kebab.”

“Oh gitu yah.”

“Ya udah saya muter lagi yah.”

“Oke.”

After he passes by,

“Ma, lo ko jawabnya gitu sih, kesannya iman kita lemah banget. Capek trus makan yang ada deh.”

“Iya ya? Hihihiiii…”

We’re laughing hard again.

 

 

Let the hunting begins!

This Chatuchak Market is so interesting! So much like street market in Tanah Lot, Bali, but in a bigger area. And so much cute souvenirs from Thailand. I spend almost 2000 Baht total for souvenirs only. I get some t-shirts, key chains and purses. Keep wanting more and more…

We go back to the hotel using BTS Sky Train. Thank God we don’t have to experience that full of horror-bus trip again.

It is a pretty long way trip to Nana Station, about 45 minutes.

We stopped by at 7-11 to buy some instant foods. I need to have lunch though it’s past afternoon already.

We unpack our shopping plastics and feel satisfied but then realize that maybe we haven’t buy enough for everyone.

At night, we decided to visit Terminal 21 Mall and have dinner there.

Terminal 21 is a theme-mall which can be accessed through Asok BTS Station. It adapts the concept of airport and each level (also each shop in each level) represents a different place/country, from Caribbean, Tokyo, London, Istanbul, and Bangkok.

We have dinner at Yoshinoya and I choose a beef bowl set. I get a different food combination than the one I usually had in Yoshinoya Jakarta. The ocha is too strong, too.

Indonesian foods and foods in Indonesia really are the best for me.

Now that I find it the hard way.

 

 

On the way back to Asok Station, I see some girls taking pictures in turn while laughing. I recall that I see one of them inside mall before. She is one pretty girls, with perfect tanned brown skin and great shape of body. But when she answers the phone, I was surprised by her super bass-voice! She’s a GUY!

Then I remembered another things:

  1. In BTS Train from Chatuchak Market, a guy wearing hot pants (showing off his hairy legs everywhere) sits beside me and when an old woman came in, he gave his seats away for her. Gentleman yet flamboyant. Not a common view for me.
  2. Still in BTS Train from Chatuchak Market, a career woman was wearing blazer, skirt, stockings and heels. I had just thinking “So this is a career woman in Bangkok. Pretty much the same like career woman in Jakarta…” except after that I realized that his face is so GUY!
  3. Just then inside mall, I saw a young and fat boy with bald head wearing hot pants running flamboyantly.

From what I read in naked-traveler.com, the concept of this other gender in Thailand is already known and accepted by public. The country is not ashamed to admit that there is another tourism in Thailand, that is transsexuals. Restaurants serve food with 3 prices, for boy, girl and ladyboy. Even in some elementary schools, there are already 3 kinds of toilets, yes, for boy, girl and ladyboy.

It reminds me of the young boy I saw at Terminal 21. even at such a young age, he already acknowledge himself as a flamboyant boy.

Wow! Really! Different country tells different stories. I love traveling, it’s a fun way of learning.

 

 

That is all for the second day.

3

Bangkok Trip (Part 1)

I have never been anywhere outside my country.

I have been to Aceh and Papua (which is located each in west and east side of Indonesia) but I have never crossed the border and going abroad.

Which is why when my friends (Alis, Irma and Catri) ask me to join them traveling to Bangkok, I answered “Yes!” directly without having a second thought.

At that time, news spread that Bangkok is flooded badly because of continuous rain for a few days.

Fortunately, Irma keep us updated and assure us that Bangkok is fine for us travel.

Because my work schedule is quite tight and my office is located quite far from my friends’ office, I can’t join them preparing the trip (so sorry, friends). Starting from booking the airplane’s ticket, arranging itinerary and also looking for accommodation in Bangkok. I just go with everything they decide without knowing anything about the trip. And that what makes my boyfriend worried at the departure day.

“Which airplane are you taking?”

“Dunno…”

“What time it takes off?”

“Dunno”

“Where do you stay?”

“Dunno”

“Are you sure you’re going traveling to Bangkok?!”

I had just unpacked my luggage from 4 days work trip in Manado but I have to pack again for my Bangkok trip.

Little bit tired but very excited!

 

 

At Saturday noon, we gather at Terminal 3, Soekarno-Hatta Airport, Jakarta. This is a new terminal used by all Air Asia flight (domestic and international) and Irma says that this is also Hajj Terminal. No wonder the building design is so fresh, mostly in blue and green color.

We passed through the immigration to get our passport checked and stamped, then for the last time, our backpack scanned. A woman stopped Irma and ask her to unpack her backpack. She finds a 250 ml shower gel and told Irma that it is forbidden to bring that in flight. Then I realize that I bring the same size shower gel like Irma so I give it away voluntarily to avoid further commotion in Bangkok Airport.

It is already past our scheduled take off time but there is still no announcement of flight to Bangkok, so we ask someone there and he told us that our plane had just landed. After we asked, another woman ask the same thing and get the same answer, too. A few minutes later, announcement told us that it is boarding time for flight to Bangkok.

Because we checked-in online, our seat is scattered quite far. Irma is alone in the front side while Catri, Alis and me in the back side. The flight attendant announce every word in a flash, like he’s been chased by a dog -__-  I think it’s because our flight is 30 minutes late.

So, here we go, 3.5 hours flight to Bangkok!!

When I look around, I realize that there are a lot of Thailand’s people in this plane. One of them try to record safety demonstration with his pocket camera and the flight attendant told him directly to stop it, haha.. There are always some kampungan (?) people in every nation.

After 2 hours, I also realize that this is the noisiest flight I’ve ever had. They gather in the back side of plane talking and laughing in a high-pitch voice. So disturbing.

 

 

So I just put on my iPod then.

 

 

Finally, at 08.30 PM, we arrive at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok. This awesome airport is even more beautiful at night. I also notice that the color of waiting room seats is varied every zone.

We spend some time to take pictures in turn before heading to immigration board.

I have no time to exchange my money to Baht in Jakarta, so I exchange my $300 (± Rp 2.800.000) here in airport and get about 6.000 Baht. This is why we should have Rupiah redenominated.

 

 

Then I have my passport checked and stamped. The immigration man says “Selamat Datang (Welcome)” to me after noticing that I’m Indonesian. Quite surprised, but then I reply “Kob khun ka (Thank you)”  and his eyes turn bigger and his mouth opened a bit. Now he’s the one that quite surprised.

 

 

Catri says that we have to take the sky train from airport to Makkasan which is located near our ho(s)tel. So we pay 90 Baht each and waiting for the next train while in turn having ourselves posed beside Suvarnabhumi Airport Station mark. This Airport Rail Link opened in 23 August 2010 and since then becomes the main transportation to and from airport in Thailand. Wow, this train is still 2 months old!!

11 minutes later, the train comes and we’re amazed. The train is SUPERB! Clean, exclusive, neat and all. Aaah, very satisfied..

It takes about 40 minutes to Makkasan Station. After arriving in Makkasan Station, we take a few hundred meters walk to Makkasan Subway Station. We buy 4 tickets to Sukhumvit Station from an automatic machine and get 4 black tokens to pass the gate. The subway is awesome, too, there is an indicator above the door that shows every station with lights. Too amazed to take some pictures, though. Sorry.

 

After a while..

Sukhumvit Station! Time to get off.

We head to the exit and find ourselves in an unknown city. Catri take a map out and try to figure out our way to ho(s)tel in Sukhumvit 11 Road.

Ok! To the left, to the left!

Asking some people (waitress, 7-11 cashier, ojek-man(?), guard, police), but they clueless, too (either because we ask them in English or they really clueless, we don’t know). So, for about 2 hours at midnight we keep walking at the same place until we find out (after asking on and on) that Sukhumvit 11 is a small road between Sukhumvit 9 and Sukhumvit 13.

It’s already past 10PM and we’re hungry. So we stopped by in McDonalds, have chicken wings, french fries and cola for our dinner. The taste of chicken is a little bit strange for our Indonesian tongues. It’s a little bit sour like orange or tamarind but delicious. I guess we find it delicious because we’re too exhausted.

While eating, I notice some weird people walking inside and out McDonalds. Long legs, long black hair, hot pants and t-shirt but manly face. Oh my God! They are the Thailand’s famous transsexuals.

Now that our stomach stuffed with enough food, we continue searching for our ho(s)tel.

“What is the hotel’s name, Cat? We already booked it, right?”

“I only have its address, I haven’t booked it yet”

It’s all coming back to my senses now. It’s a hostel for backpacker. We need to come first.

Sukhumvit 11 Road is a very crowded road at night. European tourists are everywhere. Small bar cars selling alcohol are also everywhere. So do (beautiful and sexy) transsexuals. It is almost like Kuta Bali in Indonesia (except for the transsexuals part).

Ok, back to the adventure. Now that we have found Sukhumvit 11 Road, the next thing to ask is the location of the hostel. Again, we’re asking everyone (fruit seller, 7-11 cashier, guard, etc) and everyone is still clueless.

I don’t know what’s wrong with the address, why is everyone so clueless?!!! *desperate and tired*

 

 

So, again, we keep walking at Sukhumvit 11 Road for another hour while asking everyone there. Someone in front of 7-11 finally told us that maybe the hostel is located in a smaller road either beside 7-11 or the smaller road after.

There is a ‘Suk 11’ note placed in a becak beside 7-11, so I thought maybe we should go in to check. But the road is also full of foreigners drinking, so I think maybe it is the name of a cafĂ©. Doesn’t seem to be a hostel there.

We go to next smaller road and find ourselves in a parking lot. We ask the guards but they don’t seem to understand us at all. 2 foreigners woman in a white car headed out and laughing without any reason. We go back to 7-11 (still clueless) and Catri realizing something.

“Hey, do you realize that those 2 woman back there laughing at us?”

“Really? What did they say?”

“They called us ‘Big Bag'”

 

 

Back to 7-11 (again).

“Hey, why don’t we try to call the hostel with payphones here? You have the hostel phone number, right?” I suggest an idea.

“And then saying what? Maybe they don’t speak English.”

“I don’t know, why don’t we try it out first?”

“Ok, you talk then.”

I don’t know why the payphone don’t work, but we are desperate again.

Until I saw 3 woman come to 7-11. I recall that I  seem to have seen one of them somewhere before. Oh! She’s the woman that asking the same thing (about the plane) with us in airport waiting room back then!

“Hey! That woman took the same plane with us from Jakarta!”

“Really? How could you still remember?”

“Hey, I think I saw her before, too.”

When she’s outside, I stop them for a while.

“Excuse me, orang Indonesia ya? Kita kayanya sepesawat tadi dari Jakarta.” I greet them happily.

“Oh! Iya ya?” They surprised, too.

“Kita daritadi nyari hotel tapi ngga ketemu2 nih, pada nginep dimana yah?”

“Ooh, kalo kita sih nginep di Grand President sini.”

“…” We remain silent. Seems unaffordable for us.

“Masih ada kamar kosong ngga ya? Kita udah capek daritadi nyari ngga ketemu2.” I think Irma just trying to keep the conversation forward.

“Coba aja tanya dulu ke hotelnya, deket ko dari sini.”

“Oke deh, makasih banyak yah.”

Meeting another Indonesians boost up our mood a bit. There is still hope!! *lebayatun (??)* *wiping out sweats*

 

At Grand President lobby..

“Hello, we are looking for this address. Can you help us?” says Irma to a woman and a man in front office.

“Please wait for a while, there is a phone number here…” says the man.

Oooh, wait, he would tell us to call the number again.

“We’ve already tried to call..”

“… Do you want me to call this number for you?”

Catri and I surprised.

“Yes, yes!”

“Ok, then. (calling the number, speaking in Thailand)”

“Please ask the name of the hostel.”

He nods.

 

Meanwhile…

“How much is it for a night here?…” Irma and Alis asking the different theme to the woman. “… Do you have a cheapest room?”

“Let me check it for you.” The woman reply kindly. “How long are you going to stay?”

“2 nights.”

“Ok, it is about 7.000 Baht for 2 nights.” It costs more than the Baht I have.

“Is it ok if 4 of us stay in one room?”

The woman considering..

“Ok then, since it’s low season now.” Maybe she feels pity for us who bring a big backpack each with an exhausted and covered in sweats-face.

Irma and Alis seem to have reach a decision about where to stay in Bangkok.

 

Back to me and Catri..

“The hostel name is Suk 11.” the man has just finished his helpful phone call.

“Wait, I know where it is. I think I know where it is.” I feel quite sure now. Catri seems to remember something, too.

“How about we stay here? We are too exhausted.” Irma and Alis suggesting an expensive idea.

“How much does it cost, Cat? Isn’t it too expensive? Do we have enough money?” I ask Catri as the financial manager.

“Mm, we have enough but it will tighten our daily life cost until Monday.”

“So? We take it or not? I think it’s quite comfortable here.”

We are all too exhausted to imagine that we have to go through the same route again looking for the hostel. So we decided to take a room at Grand President.

 

 

“The breakfast is for two. Your room is in 1503.”

“Thank you very much.”

We’re heading to 15th floor and find out that our room is really satisfying!!

There is a living room, kitchen (with microwave, fridge, some spoons and forks), 2 televisions, comfy sofa, table to eat and free wi-fi!!

We’re laughing very hard.

“This is nothing closer to backpacking!!! Hahaha…”

“Maybe we have to substitute the hostel name into Sucks 11 cause it’s very hard to find.”

Day 1 End.