Archive for the ‘Indonesia’ 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?

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.

[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.