Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

ASEAN Blog Fest 2013

Posted: 21/05/2013 in Events, Indonesia, Travel

You gotta believe me. This blog fest is not only about blogging but also all about fun and friendship. Listing down what happened in chronological way is too mainstream, so here are the highlights that touched me.

Indonesians are super friendly

Tea Break at Pool Side, Solo Indonesia

Tea Break at Pool Side, Kusuma Sahid Prince Hotel, Solo.

Oh my goodness! I have no clue how to describe their friendliness. My roommate, for instance, was very kind and understandable. I did not need to pretend anything when she was around just because she was a stranger. In extremely short time, we had already shared pretty much about us. Same went for the rest. All of them are so kind and humble that it made me feel like I made a right decision to visit to Solo. Two ladies I met on one of the shuttle buses gave me three little chocolate boxes although we had not known each other and did not have much time to talk. Thanks for everyone who took photo with me and came and talked to me. That experience was really a warm touch.

SEAsia is beautiful

So as SEAsians. All the organisers and international bloggers who attended the event made me feel so. Everyone of them were so lovely that I did feel home when they were around. I have learnt various interesting things from them about different parts of Southeast Asia. Many of them inspired me and others had fun together with me. That part of 2013 will always be in my memory.I have soft spots when it comes to SEAsia as I believe our countries are more or less connected and cultures and traditions are similar. (I am not so keen to use ASEAN as I always feel like it is something related to governments.)  Instead of debating if Batik belongs to Malaysia or Indonesia or if Water Festival was originated from Myanmar or Thailand, we should promote those to rest of the world. And if all SEAsains are like this bunch of people I have met in Solo, I believe we could achieve it.

Indonesian Traditional Instruments

Indonesian Traditional Musical Instruments. The xylophones are very similar to Burmese traditional xylophones.

SEAsians waiting for taxi

SEAsians waiting for a taxi. I bet no westerner could tell who is from which country. 😉

Blogging is not dead

I thought it was dead, at least almost dead. May be because I abandoned my Burmese blog for years. Maybe because many Myanmar bloggers are writing notes on Facebook instead of their blogs. But I became to learn that there are lots of active bloggers who are blogging enthusiastically up until now. It was really encouraging to see different government ministries of Indonesia were supporting the event as well as blogging itself. And I wonder when could such thing happen in Myanmar where a blogger was at risk of getting sued for criticizing the parliament.

Singaporeans please!

I am not too sure if any Singaporeans would get mad if they found out that two people from Malaysia and Myanmar represented to talk about their wonderful country during the event. I was not too sure why, but there was no single Singaporeans in the event and that was sad.

Singapore Country Report in Solo Indonesia

Reporting about Tourism and Blogging Community in Singapore.

I do not want to accuse that Singaporeans have less interest on those community related meet ups and volunteering etc as they have less chances to do so in a very developed country. But I do believe that they could use their facilities and opportunities to help ASEAN community grows together. I would love to see them mingle with the rest of SEAsians. They should not be left out just because they are from most developed country in the region, should they?

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Solo Solo

Posted: 14/05/2013 in Indonesia, Travel
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Till a couple of weeks ago, Solo to me was a brand on Batik. As my family has run some Batik business, I was aware that it was something related to Batik but shame on me! I never knew it was a town – a cool hot town.

Except Singapore, almost all other places in Southeast Asia that I have been to always made me feel like I was back to Yangon in a way. (I recently realize that it might be because Singapore does not allow bill boards and all other SEAsian cities do have plenty of bill boards.) But for Solo, once my cab driver that we hire started his engine, I felt as if I were in Myeik, my very home town at the southern part of Myanmar. No skyscrapers but I could feel a touch of warmth plainly just by the dark scene of the small houses. Sometimes, too much urbanizing makes me feel like playing a high profiled graphical game. We need to switch to lovely casual games at times.

Two things that will stay as my reminiscence about Solo – burning weather and cool people. Yeah, Singapore is hot like a boiling pot and so is Myanmar in the hot season but you would feel the weather more when you are actively moving around. But ultra friendly people helped to cool it down. I literally cannot stress enough how they are friendly and helpful.

I did not go to many places in Solo as I was swinging back and forth between two hotels – one where we stay and one where we talk. Being said, here are some interesting spots that I had  a chance to visit (in random order).

Begawan Solo 

No, this is not a branch of famous delicacy brand in Singapore. It is the longest river in Java. And guess what? I was invited to plant a tree there! It’s always fun to think that I could bring my future children to Indonesia and tell them this is what I planted. 😛 And I was glad to be part of their environmental initiatives. But the planting event kind of reminded me those TV news on Myanmar Channels where generals, their wives and children toured around the country and randomly planted. Weirdo, I know. The river water is pretty muddy. We needed to walk by passing through houses avoiding motor bikes – pretty much like a little town in Myanmar.

The only problem I had was that not knowing which camera to look at!

The only problem I had was that not knowing which camera to look at! Photo Credit goes to SanjiOne’s Instagram.

Sangiran

We went there to watch a movie clip. Kidding. It is an archaeological excavation site where we could learn about how human beings were originated in Java.  It was really hot. (Okay, I swear I will not complain about weather till this post ends.) It took around an hour or so to reach there from the town. The displays are cool. It would be perfect if there were some outdoor area where we can learn more about it naturally. It is the first UNESCO Heritage Site I have ever visited. Or I think so. (Btw, it’s a shame for UNESCO that they have not recognized Bagan as one of their heritage sites no matter how valid their reason is.)

Some buffalo fossils.

Some buffalo fossils.

Coolest display of whole museum, I suppose.

Coolest display of whole museum, I suppose.

Funny statute at Sangiran, Solo, Indonesia

And funniest!

Batik Market

Call me ignorant. I do not really remember the name since there were much complexities preparing this trip. I am thankful that we could make it! 😛 Again, the market is pretty much similar to Mingalar Market or Yuzana Plaza in Yangon. The most significant (and most wonderful) thing was stuffs there were surprisingly cheap! I bought two 6″ stuff toys for S$6, a Batik shirt for less than S$2.7,  two purses for S$1.2 each and 20 little batik key chains for S$5. Wonderful, isn’t it?

Batik Market, Solo, Surakata, Indonesia

A lovely Batik shop. You can see the price tags.

There are a few other restaurants we headed to have dinner/lunch. But as I have no clue of their names and exact locations, I guess it would not be useful to write it out. But hey, here’s the cutest possible sign board in the toilet (the airport toilet.)

Toilet Sign, Solo, Indonesia

Have no clue what it means. But it’s too cute not to take a photo.

Where the mosques are beautiful Part 1)

Second day

It was time for blue mosque! In Myanmar, we could not get into any mosque to my knowledge. I guess even female Muslims cannot get into the mosque (might be wrong, not too sure). That was why I had been so excited to get into the mosque.  It was huge as a typical building in Istanbul.

Blue Mosque Istanbul

That was my favourite shot for Blue Mosque. Just like a castle in the fairy tales.

I think many people in Myanmar have entered into a Church but I have not. But majority of them might not have been into a mosque but I have! Yeah!

Blue Mosque Istanbul

It’s that big!

Blue Mosque Istanbul.

Just corner view.

Then we had coffee at a local coffee shop, I ordered Iced Turkish coffee – in such a cold weather. *wink*. The cute part was that I had been wondering why they gave me two spoons before I found out that it was a stick of chocolate!

Chocolate Spoon

Iced Turkish Coffee and Chocolate Spoon!

On the way to dinner, I told my new Indian friend that my great grandpa was from India. Guess what he replied. “Oh, my grandma is from Burma, too!” Wow!

The dinner was fun and I felt too full after it.

Third Day

Aka last day. It was the time I had to go to a bazaar to buy something! And yes, we went to spice bazaar which gave me a completely different experience from other average shopping spaces. The sad thing was that there was not too much difference between using Singapore dollars and Turkish lira which means I couldn’t buy many things though I would love to.

Spice Bazaar Istnabul

Crowd at Spice Bazaar

I bought a chess board for my boyfriend – mostly the same thing that I bought for him from Nairobi. And I made up my mind to buy only chess boards (if possible) wherever I go. 😛 On top of that, I bought 10 key chains and 5 bracelets for my cousins, friends and colleagues. Choosing all those different designs and touches was a fun part.

The are a tons of different spices and some interesting things such as rose oil etc. The atmosphere was pretty different from Asia countries which made me feel excited. It was not too fanciful yet I couldn’t get my eyes off from anything. When I saw some traditional lamps, I felt like as if I was in Arab tales!

Istanbul Spice Bazaar

A spice shop.

I had seriously never ever thought of going to Istanbul.  And I learnt that Istanbul is not the capital of Turkey only after receiving the ticket. What a shame!

So, it started with so called Europe’s best Turkish Airline. (I will save it for next post.) Istanbul airport was okay. I do not usually feel cold in air plane so I did not wear anything apart from a t-shirt. Once I got out of the plane, I was like “Crap, that is cold, man!” Grabbing the jacket out immediately, I walked super quit with the hope that I would feel warm faster if I could leave the airport sooner which actually made no sense.

First day

The immigration officer seemed shocked to learn a Myanmar visits his country. He browsed through my passport. (I was not sure what he would think about my visa which I obtained 15 hours before departure. (Procrastination level 9!).  I looked for a man with “MIT” sign and greeted him. He told me to spend some time at coffee shop as we would need to wait one more who was arriving in a short while. I had exchanged some dollars before wasting some time by setting new highscore in Temple Run 2. After the girl arrived, we headed to hotel.

Istanbul Airport

Vodafone made me think the good old days of being a ManU fan.

Once the bus started its journey, my first feeling was “Oh, that is real Europe”. A westerner might not be able to feel it, but as a very Asian, the sceneries full of trees without a single leave, the whitish look and those buildings, that was too different from an average Asia country and that awesome/awful feeling of coldness could make me feel as if I was in a movie or pictorial book.

Istanbul

That’s already so Europe for me.

Long story short (thank god I feel like shortening it now!),  on the arrival day, before we went to AyaSofya – an orthodox church >> mosque >> museum, we had spent some minutes at a mini cafe of a small hotel. I tried Turkish coffee which was not as delicious as seeing the place it originated.

Turkish Coffee

That was not from that hotel. But I would say almost exact same thing.

Then, we continued our walk to AyaSofya. I mean, even for a Buddhist, that HUGE building with mixed culture definitely displayed its awesomeness. I kept murmuring “That’s great! That’s awesome!” to myself. Here you read thousands more words.

Near AyaSofya

Near AyaSofya.

AyaSofya

I felt like I was small by watching the ceiling.

AyaSofya

I didn’t quite know what those represented. But just shooting around.

AyaSofya

Watch it carefully. It will start rotate. (Nah! this is not such cheap sharing on Facebook and it will not rotate although it is in beautiful circular shape.)

AyaSofya

A hint showing it had been a church.

AyaSofya

Le cat!

Despite the grandeur inside, I preferred the way we see it from outside. That whitish buildings which I would never forget was so appealing that I never stopped taking pictures. I even wished like I could move there to reside for a short while. 🙂

We walked back to the hotel. I had had a quick nap and washed my hair first time during travel. I do not usually feel like washing my hair during short trip but the organic soap at the hotel looked attractive to try so I just did it. I knew that I had not brought enough warm clothes and felt the cold like hell walking to AyaSofya so I just wore like four layer of clothes when we went out for dinner. The Seabass at the dinner was yummy and I just realized that many people more than I think love Roti or flat bread. In Nairobi, in Istanbul, in Singapore or in Myanmar, it is everywhere.

Istanbul flat bread

This actually was from day 2 dinner.

That night, I felt the effect of different time zone yet had a good sleep with the feeling Istanbul was awesome!

[To be continued.]

I’ve somehow stumbled upon this and her 8 years of blogging life inspired me to blog right now. I have no idea why I rarely blog here though I assume myself as a blog-addictive since I have a Burmese blog with tons of posts which is now under silence. And I have been writing here, here and here regularly and here and here occasionally so it’s kind of difficult to find time to polish my very own space. Anyway, I’m now back (supposedly).

I’ll be back in Myanmar at the end of December and have read a lot of foreigners who are rushing to my mystical land either for fun or investment. Some travel blogs written about the country in headliners nowadays seem great while others are like with less useful information from a local point of view. So here’s a list of things I’m planning to do during two week vacations and you (if you ain’t a Myanmar) might get an idea how a typical Myanmar based in foreign country would rush to fulfill his/her one year dream.

Food!

I’m not that into Food and pretty picky as I have lachanophobia. But yah… Yangon is just a food paradise for me and I don’t understand how they say Singapore has perfect food. 😛

I’ll have dinner at least twice (most probably thrice) at YKKO for perfect Kyay Oh in Yangon. (Not every Myanmar will agree, I know.) The best thing about YKKO is not its taste but the environment which gives me a sense of reunion with friends. I will be able to check-in, too!

And I must sit down on a stool in front of a pork-stick (Wet Thar Dote Htoe) basket to enjoy super awesome pork sticks. I haven’t made up my mind yet whether I should try it at downtown or somewhere else. It will much depend on my friends.

I do not like Monthinga. And I mean it though it might sound weird considering I’m a Myanmar. (Told ya I’m picky). But I will go for Rakhine Mont Ti (nothing about racist here, please! Just that that soup originated in Rakhine state). It is with similar kind of vermicelli in Monthiga but the soup is totally different. It’s a clear soup but super hot and spicy.

Then, I will throw a food party at Chinatown. Kidding… but not much difference. Steamed pork (Wet Thar Paung) at that tea house, Spring roll with pork (I sound so pork, huh?), Bao zi (with pork #_#), Fried pork :O ribs and Shan Noodle (with pork). After all, it’s Chinatown, absolutely valid excuse of pork!

I guess I don’t need to mention that my mom will cook delicious meals at home, too. So, that’s about it for food. I still want to try some unique things but most of them are not available in December.

Places

I’m dying to go to Kyite Htee Yoe Pagoda(Golden Rock Pagoda) in Mon state but my super awesome friends do not seem to support me. I just want to enjoy the coldest place possible in lower Myanmar (in December.) I have been there like three times, though.

In front of a trandiational Burmese restaurant in Bagan last year

In front of a trandiational Burmese restaurant in Bagan last year

I may go to Pyay (pronounced as Pyi). No specific plan yet. I just don’t remember how it exactly looks like since I was too young when I visited there like 5 ~ 10 years ago.

In Yangon, I want to go to Y.U.F.L which is my university but I’m not too sure will they easily let me in or not. (I’ll write about the unbelievable uni life in Myanmar later. ) But as they said things changed in Myanmar, it should also be changed!

What else? Some of my friends’ homes, downtown, Shwedagon is needless to be mentioned, oh yeah.. I want to go to those pubs that become famous lately though I don’t drink (okay, let’s put it this way) I have not drunk a drop of alcohol. But I do like the atmosphere of a pub/bar. And perhaps I might be somewhere fun at new year night unless my dad insisted me to stay at home.

Do

I will take lots of photos just like last year. I do not own a DSLR so the quality of those awesome (if I say awesome, it’s awesome) images might be under par. The two main reasons I want to have a ton of photos of my own are 1) to donate to Open Myanmar photo project and use on my About Myanmar blog. It’s so fun when you use your own photos to share something. Umm.. no, I don’t really know how to take a picture well, I just emphasize on things rather than presentation (coz I don’t know!)

And will try to meet up with as many friends as possible. My best of best friend will be getting married in Mid Dec so I will give her something lovely.

I guess I will have a chance to meet up with some nice people whom I happen to know only in virtual world of social media but friendship are strong enough just like with normal friends.

Oh yes, I will read many journals just to point out the mistakes. (I’m awfully good at it especially when it comes to Burmese language.) And will try to be a witness if there are any visible changes there in one year after several western political leaders have visited. (I’ll just stop politics here).

Oh, it’s fun just to write it out. I can’t wait!!

Nairobi National Park

Posted: 01/08/2012 in Kenya, Travel
Tags: , , , , ,

[This is a backdated post.]

So, I chose “Nairobi National Park” as an outdoor activity during the summit. I wanted to feel what a wildlife park in the city would be like.

With about 8 people on our game drive, we began our tour to only wildlife park very close to the city. I had not taken a decent camera to Nairobi but I charged my phone full! The first thing I saw once we reached the park did put a big smile on my face. Guess what?

Corruption Free Disclaimer at Nairobi National Park.

Corruption Free Disclaimer at Nairobi National Park.

I wished we could have such things all over Myanmar. And I whispered myself “Dream on……”.

Since I had never been to any kind of small/big safari, I thought the park would be full of animals. I had totally forgotten the fact that we might need to go to the “right” spots to find the “right” animals. For first few minutes, I was like “Urgg, is that Safari? Without single animals? Just driving in that big park”?

Nairobi National Park Game Ride

When can we find “a n i m a l s”!?

Then, we reached a very interesting spot – the place where tons of ivories were burnt. In order to eliminate the trade of ivory in Kenya,  they burnt 12 tons of ivories there. I understand their firm decision to get rid of that cruel black market trade. But if I were a decision maker, I might not have wasted those. Perhaps, we could use to support children or women? I’m not sure how much 12 tons of ivories will be worth but simply burning is still a waste for me. But on the other hand, such intense decision could be the reason of eliminating the trade. Here’s what they burnt.

Nairobi National Park Ivory burnt site

12 tons of ivory were burnt.

We found several picnic spots in the park. But this was my favourite – very poetic, very natural and very heaven-ish, I would say.

Nairobi National Park Poetic Picnic spot

A very poetic natural reading place.

I can’t describe how much I would want this at my own home! A small desk and bench under the naturally formed branches, I mean, how perfect it was for a book and nature lover!?

Move on to animals, we found several deer almost everywhere in the park. They didn’t seem afraid of either cameras or human beings who could harm their privacy.

Nairobi National Park Deer

Looked like a bunch of kids in the school break-time.

I could try to get some close-up shots.

Nairobi National Park Deer Close up

I wanted to assume them as a couple. But hey, they both were male deer!

I have seen many giraffes in Yangon Zoo, Singapore Zoo etc. But none of them could walk as long as those in Nairobi. I think the way they walk is amusing, isn’t it?

Nairobi National Park Giraffe

In fact, one out of a ton of my Burmese nicknames was Giraffe during my schooltime. 😀

Well, they say there are 4 out of 5 Africa big five animals in Nairobi national park. I couldn’t take many of them because I didn’t have anything similar to “lens”. But not much effort was required to take a blurry shot of a lion.

Nairobi National Park Lion

Yes, a lion hidden. Super fun to see it without any glass nor cage.

Nairobi National Park Lion Close UP

Like a boss! He seriously didn’t give a damn to us. lol

The tour was finished after a couple of hours. The driver sent us to a souvenir shop near-by but I didn’t buy anything because almost exact same things were much cheaper in Masai Market. It reminded me of some souvenir shops in Myanmar where the price could be doubled up for foreigners. Is this a world culture?

Africa?

Posted: 30/07/2012 in Kenya, Travel
Tags: , , , ,

[This is a backdated post.]

Going to Africa was just a pure daydream at the time I enjoyed “The Gods must be crazy“.

But now, it’s about to happen happened. Yes, I was pretty excited especially because it’s Africa.

Global Voices Citizen Media Summit 2012 - Nairobi, Kenya. July 2-3

Myanmar people are quite smart in geography. Yet, they are not quite familiar with Africa in modern days. Neither me. It’s like Africa is too far away from us. And I always forget that Egypt is in Africa!

So, I got a chance to visit there for a short while. Specifically, it’s Nairobi, Kenya where people were very friendly and the atmosphere was too exciting. Though it does not sound like so, Kenya is safe!

People

What I noticed about people in Nairobi was that they talked a lot. For instance, our driver brought us to safari. On the way, our mini bus passed by another car. Both cars stopped and the two drivers talked like at least 5 minutes! And I had assumed it like “Oh, okay, they may be talking about where the lions are etc…” but my assumption was totally wrong. Again at the hotel entrance, another driver talked about nearly 10 minutes with hotel security staffs. In the city area, if they were waiting till the traffic light turned green, the two drives would be talking each other through the windows. I mean, I’m quite a talkative person but I salute them! 😛 After we experienced it for two days, whenever a car stopped and the driver started to open his mouth, we signalled each other with eyes and started to laugh off. 😀

And they are sweet! I sometimes felt like as if I were somewhere in Myanmar as they always smiled. On top of that, they are honest. One of the hotel staffs asked us “What is Global Voices? Is it about singing?” and we couldn’t stop laughing. How cute they were!

Food

We always care about food when we are travelling, don’t we? I don’t know why, there was nothing related to Kenyan food at the hotel we stayed. I felt pretty weird to have Chinese food there as they provided only Chinese/Western/Indian Food. :O

But we went out to the downtown to taste the sort of Kenyan food. We tried the grilled fish with Ugali. I must say grilled fish was awesome and it was cheap but Ugali is just not my taste. Perhaps if we had tried it with something spicy or sour, it might went well but with grilled fish, I did not know how to finish it.

And they seemed to eat different kinds of Chapati (This Wikipedia article seems to describe Chaptai/Puri/Pratha are the same kind of flat-bread but at least it’s not in Myanmar! Those are three different things.). Chapati is widely available in Myanmar so it was so so for me. But it did amaze me as I couldn’t see a relationship between Indian food and African food!

Culture 

Everything is just bold and loud. 🙂 I mean, experiencing Africa in person was really awesome. Every little thing could grab my attention.

I had a chance to visit Masai Market. You can feel the music, see the handcrafts and talk with locals there. And greater thing was I could bargain like hell! If the seller had said 1000, I could get it with like 400. I did not care if it could be kind of cheating for those who  were not into bargaining but for me, it was just pure fun. I was able to mingle with them and filled my bag with beautiful things like photo frames, purse, key-chains etc. at the same time.

A snap shot of Masai Market.

A snap shot of Masai Market.

They probably love Music a lot. And most of the songs I heard there were catchy. Their dances were AMAZING.

As I stayed there only about 4 days, I am not pretty sure if my guess was right. But they seemed to be running their life at their own pace. Seeing people in downtown could not make me stress out like those in Singapore.

They were helpful, almost everyone. At the restaurant we tried grilled fish, as we finished the whole fish just by hands, we had to go and wash once the dinner was finished. At the basin, I had difficulties pressing the tap while washing my hands and a little boy who could be a waiter there helped me press it down till I was done. It was just a small gesture but you might not probably find it elsewhere – even in other developing Asia countries.

Language wise, Sawhili is interesting and pretty easy to pronounce and remember. I have learned very few words which made the locals smile when I used those. ^^

Here is the song for you to enjoy. I now get it by-heart as they played it everywhere. Everywhere means everywhere including in-flight music!

Did I forget to say Kenya is safe? I found someone seemed injured and lying on the street at around 9 p.m (which I assumed it could happen in every country in the world). Except the fact that hotel security was so strict to make sure our even would be safe, I felt nothing unsafe in Nairobi.

I’m on plane, by the way.

Posted: 30/06/2012 in Travel
Tags: , ,
Singapore Night View from plane

Just finished watching Hunger Game. Why people said it’s a bad movie? It’s not that bad, at least for me though I am not a big fan of action movies.

Oh yah, I am on plane, to Mumbai. Somewhere around relatives of some of my ancestors might live. No, I am not going to find them. I’d rather go to Boh Maung circle to find people I love.

Yes, I am on plane, specifically on a SIA flight. And I’m seriously wishing MAI could invest to let their crews fly with SIA at least once so that most of them would learn how to smile & how should they treat customers who need to pay more than half of their monthly salary just about for three hours.

And, as you know, I’m on plane, & will be so for about three more hours. I already miss him. :*) and I’m just back from lavatory & took a photo there!!

Have I mentioned I’m on plane? It’s not cold at all and more than half of passengers are under blanket. I am wondering is my body emitting heat?

As I’m on plane, I’m on plane. Why? Why I’m on plane? Stay tuned for next post! And I wish some smart people could figure out how to surf Internet safely on flight so that we can check-in in the sky!

P.S It was written on 27th June Night on my phone but unfortunately I couldn’t publish it on time because there’s no Internet in the sky!

[This is a backdated post.]

Besides witnessing the bronze medal, we found time to do a quick tour around Jakarta. Needless to mention Indonesia is the biggest among SEAsian countries, Jakarta is really a huge city and so as its traffic jam. Although it seemed as if the city was moving in a fast pace, the atmosphere was sort of sparkling. Perhaps because we were very energetic during that four day trip.

Petrol Shop Jakarta Indonesia

A little stall of petrol, I guess. Almost exact same thing with those in Myanmar.

If there was one thing that I would always recall whenever Jakarta appeared in my mind, it would be taxi. I have taken taxi with and without meters. In Yangon, nobody would use meter although they might have installed it. In Singapore, everybody has to use it. But in Jakarta, some were using meter some were not. Confusion level 9.

Tok Tok in Jakarta Indonesia

Isn’t this three-wheeled car cute? (I know it’s widely known as Tok Tok but it’s so Thai and I feel like each SEAsian country may have its own name to call it. It’s /thoun: bein:/ in Burmese. So, let’s settle with three-wheeled car!)

During those few days, we were educated – to examine which taxi belonged to which company, which coloured taxi would use meters, what to do if driver would not prefer to use meter and many more. But I suppose it would be too pity not to be scammed at least once in Jakarta.

We went into a taxi after settling with driver that he would use the meter. It was night and we had no idea where we were exactly. It took more than 40 minutes to reach our hotel. During the drive, the driver seemed to pretend as if he did not know the route. And we were not aware that we were scammed until next afternoon where we had another taxi to go to same place and it took like less than 15 minutes with traffic. That night had no heavy traffic. The delightful thing was that taxi fares were cheap and taxi drivers were not rude at all although we talked like chicken and duck. It made me sympathize about few tourists visiting Myanmar. (C’mon, which country in the world does not have anyone who would cheat at foreign visitors although number of cases can differ greatly?) And it made me think whether I would like to be cheated politely or be treated rudely with exact fares. That was hard.

Let’s tune into food. Well, food in Jakarta might not be too awesome or too “posh”. But I felt the warmth. One evening, we walked into a small Chinese restaurant around Karet Pedurenan Street on which our hotel Avissa Suites existed. (You would find the reason we chose “Chinese restaurant” in next paragraph.) They were watching a football match of Indonesia in SEAGames at that period, I do not remember if it was a delayed or live broadcasting. But they were so friendly that we were able to be a little bit picky about sauce we wanted on the choice of grilled fished. It was in deed yummy and affordable. I remember it costed not more than 5,000 kyats. (Most of Myanmar have a habit calculating price in Myanmar currency. 😛 5,000 kyats is equivalent to about 5~6 USD.) You cannot have the same thing with same taste at the same price in Singapore.

Grilled Fish Food Jakarta Indonesia

Awesomely yummy grilled fish with my ultimate favourite Sambal sauce!

There was a fun moment about food. I am a HUGE fan of Ayam Penyet (Indonesian smashed fried chicken with traditional chili sauce called Sambal) so it was a must for me to try authentic one right there in Indonesia. We found a very small home shop near the hotel so we marched there. Only after we sat down, we realized that none of us spoke Bahasa Indonesian and none of them from shop seemed to speak English. What made the case worse was no English menu. Boom! It seemed that a fraction of luck was with us, one of us spoke some Bahasa Malaysian but it was still pretty challenging to communicate. We ordered water, they brought glass. We asked for spoon and fork, they brought the little basket of chopsticks. 😛 Finally, we made it through and I had best Ayam Penyet in my entire life. I do not want to call those from Singapore Ayam Penyet as the taste in Jakarta was purely authentic. And yes, that was the reason that made us hesitant to go into another Indonesian restaurant.

Monas Jakarta Indonesia Crafted Wall

No clue what this wall is about. But this man resembled a lot to a Myanmar King from Bagan Dynasty!

In terms of places, I felt like Jakarta did not have many tourist spots or icon places to go. We googled it, asked some hotel staffs and finally went to Monas (Monument Nasional <–> National Monument). It was hot, horribly hot especially when we had to stand for long period to queue up to go to top of the monument. And guess what made me feel so weird. Many of Indonesians (not many foreigners there, seemed like a famous relaxation area for locals.) wore the jackets, sweaters, cardigans and whatever would make them feel warm. Yes, I come from a very hot country but I cannot stand to wear two layers under extremely bright sunlight where I need to stand full of sweat.

Candle like Monas Jakarta Indonesia

This is Monas. It was built following the shape of candle. Or so they say.

Monas Candle Jakarta Indonesia in hand

Caught it!

Not so fabulous ehind the scene of fabulous "Caught it!" action. :P

Not so fabulous behind the scene of fabulous “Caught it!” action. 😛

We took turns to queue as we had four of us. In the middle of queue, the ticket colour in other people’s hands smashed us. We had bought the wrong ticket! It was because of the ticket price difference between foreigners and locals. And we solve it in a very Myanmar-ish way. Once we reached the gate, we talked with all language including sort of sign language and the ticketing officer agreed to allow us to go up by paying 30,000 Rph upfront. Cool, huh? I’d bet I would never be able to do such thing in Singapore. Then again, just like in above taxi case, it made me think whether I want a very systematic way of life or a little bit chaotic one with some touch of excitement.  That of course was hard, too.

View from Monas Jakarta Indonesia

View from Monas.

Monas Jakarta Indonesia

Jakarta is HUGE!

Big Mascots Jakarta Indonesia

I don’t know how these giant mascots are called in Indonesia. We call it /htan: thoú/ in my hometown. (Not Yangon, it’s Myeik.)

The view from Monas was not as thrilling as that of from Singapore flyer. Yet, giggling of children, direct sunlight and friendly smiles did make me feel much more comfortable.

Homeless Cat in Jakarta Indonesia

Le Cat, found near Monas!

[This is a backdated post.]

Football has always been an important part of my life. I recall the memory I supported Myanmar national football team since I was 6, yes freaking 6! And I remember we could not finish talking about how and why we had been defeated on the next day at school with our homeroom teacher. So, when we heard that there would be Myanmar team playing for 26th SEAGames in Jakarta, we were very willing to go and support them.

Myanmar Vs Malaysia

Myanmar national team before semifinal with Malaysia.

After some conversation in a Facebook group dedicated for those who were interested to go to Jakarta from Singapore, we bought Air Asia tickets and felt so ready. Our trip was smooth as a very very kind Myanmar (who had not known as before that Facebook group was created) living in Jakarta helped us a lot. Thanks Ko Kyaw Thu Soe Naing for all your kind help. He waited us at airport, got a taxi for us communicating with the driver in Bahasa and even noted down the driver name and taxi no. When we left the airport, he was waiting for another group with Tiger Air.

Than Toe Aung, the awesome team captain in Silver era of Myanmar football.

Than Toe Aung, the awesome team captain in Silver era of Myanmar football.

The exciting part of this trip apart from the football matches itself was having a chance to meet with famous former football players from Silver era of Myanmar football. (In Golden era, I have heard that Myanmar has beaten Germany. Germany! And yes, that was like a fair tale for us, younger generation. In Silver era, we still won some titles in SEAsia or so. Don’t ask me what is current era for Myanmar football if you consider me as a friend!) The former players came together with current players as member of coach team and/or observers for next SEAGames in Myanmar. And of course, as there were only very few Myanmar supporting the team, we had chance to chit chat with team manager, secretary of Football Federation etc. And that was awesome.

They got us the match tickets (for free!). So on the match day of Semi-final (Malaysia Vs. Myanmar), we went to Gelora Bung Karno Stadium on our own which was our HUGE mistake. Our ticket was just a normal one that we were not allowed to enter the gate where most of Myanmar people were sitting which was VVIP stand. We begged some ushers to let us enter but they denied. We had like no clue how to continue. I mean, who would want to sit separately in a football match when you know that there are not more than 50 supporters for the team you are supporting?? I guess we run among three or four different gates back and forth. And finally, we kept on saying that we were Myanmar and there were only few Myanmar and they were sitting at that VVIP gate and a security officer did allow us to enter!!

So, once we sat down and we started complaining to media officer on how tiring it was to run from gate to gate, he asked for our names. I was like “What for!?”. Then he gave us USD200 each. Wow! I did not expect it at all. That could cover our flight fares + accommodation. He said that was given by president of Myanmar Football Federation just to appreciate who had decided to spend own money and time to come down and cheer the team. We did think twice to accept it as he was assumed as one of the cronies who had big business in Myanmar. But we thought it would be too rude not to accept it (and it was so tempting as you can see). So we just nodded our heads and happily received USD200.

U Zaw Zaw, president of Myanmar Football Federation and Myo Hlaing Win, the former star player during silver era of Myanmar football.

U Zaw Zaw, president of Myanmar Football Federation and Myo Hlaing Win, the former star player during silver era of Myanmar football.

Football stadium Jakarta Indonesia

Lovely Reds, on the pavement of stadium.

And we lost. A reliable player was injured and minutes after it, we had to give a goal although our goalkeeper was superb. There I learnt losing was not always a bad thing. Can you imagine what would happen if we went to final (with Indonesia!?)

Jakarta Indonesia SEAGame Football Crowd

Crowd waiting for final match of Indonesia Vs. Malaysia.

Yes, I was thankful that I would not need to squeeze into GIANT crowd. In Indonesia, not only men and youths but also a whole bunch of family ranging from grandma to toddler came to support their national team. Knowing that we would still have a match with Vietnam for third place, we went back to hotel.

As we had already learnt a lesson for first match, we tried to get VVIP ticket before another match started. In fact, we joined the coach team members and other observers to go to the stadium together on the same bus. And that was fun. I even met with two uncles who were around 70 years old who went to every SEAGames to support Team Myanmar. I was not sure if I could do the same thing at their age.

Match with Vietnam was pure fun. We all sat together and cheered the team. And my mom, relatives and friends saw me on TV as they were watching live broadcast as well. They told me I had looked so unsatisfied although I thought I had been super happy throughout the match. We won with 4-1. And yes, we got at least a bronze medal.