Postcards From Central Java: A Short Getaway With A Lifetime Memory

Going for a meeting during Jakarta’s rush hour can be quite a tough decision-making moment that its citizens have to face. You gotta choose between driving your car – or sitting comfortably at the backset of your Uber ride – but will be most likely late for your meeting, and order an online ojek (bicycle ride) that is twice faster yet could be quite tormenting with the humid weather and pollution rate.

If it’s for a meeting, or any time constraint events, I’d always choose the later.

Last Friday, I had an after office meeting, and only had about 1,5 hour to get into the meeting point. Thanks to Jakarta’s traffic, Google Maps told me that it would take about 2 hours. Not wanting to be late and in the name of trying to impress my potential client, I ordered the online ojek and hoped that I could get there in only 30 minutes.

However, I spent 1 hour and 15 minutes sitting on the motorcycle, with my driver trying his best to avoid every traffic jam that we encountered. The moment I arrived at the meeting point, I was drenched in sweat, and I stink like an old bus muffler. I walked directly to Topman to buy new clothes only for the meeting, and well, yeah for a wardrobe upgrade (LOL).

Anyway, spending 1 hour – which almost caused me a back pain – on a motorcycle, fighting your way through Jakarta’s cruel traffic made me missing a short getaway that I had just few months ago to Central Java. I’ll post details about several places and experiences that I got from the trip in another post. It was quite a short getaway over the weekend, yet it gave me one of the most remarkable memory that would last a lifetime.

As for now, please enjoy 9 best photos from that trip!

 

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The sky is blushing when the sun greets her in the morning.

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Sun-kissed.

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A loner looking for some gold.

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Because everything today has to be captured.

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Rockin’ my yellow jacket.

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Sitting above the clouds.

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A nice morning talk on the top of a hill.

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When you have the gleaming sunrise as your backdrop.

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The heights didn’t scare me. Imagining my camera fall down and hit the rocky bottom did.

Wait for more details of this trip, will ya?! Geesh, I literally have tons of content lining up to be posted here. Speaking of which, one of them will be good news and A BRAND NEW EXCITING stuff for The Perks of Being 20! Curious enough?

Write to you later,

HG. (@gersonhenry)

 

Postcards From East Java: Travel (is) Essential

Beauty is a matter of perspective. Take it from a guy who lived his high school life with zero nature traveling experience, thinking that beauty only exists in the city’s night life filled with shimmering lights and loud cranked up music. It was only a matter of time that I found my own definition of beauty.

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I was 15 years old when I started traveling on my own. My first solo trip destination was Japan. I was selected for a free international summer camp called PRIC. Boy, was my life changed. I never had a summer so profound that I came back with so much knowledge and passion to catch up to the rest of the world. More than that, I realised that my true definition of beauty lies in nature exploration. Since then, I pushed my spirit of exploration to the very limit, to discover more beauty to capture and enjoy.

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There are so much to discover. Even after I spent a full year of traveling here and there every month, I feel that I hadn’t done such a good job in exploring the world. I feel that I can explore so much more. There are more beautiful lakes to swim in, tall mountains to climb on and skies whose air I had never breathe in.

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There are animals I had never seen and there are more cultures I wish to soak myself in. I can never complete my exploration even if I spend a lifetime for it. Now that I graduated from college and a full time 9 to 5 staff, I can never accomplish my mission to travel the world. It is quite ironic that I am writing about how beautiful the nature is from the 27th floor of a tall building in the heart of a big city.

Even words fail to express how I miss meeting new people and traveling to places I had never set foot before.

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I guess that exploration is a lifetime work. Just because we’re growing up, doesn’t mean that we have to give up our dreams to see the world. Even more, our eagerness to see the world has got to grow as our time limit increases as we age. The challenge is to keep the spark alive, no matter how busy and how hectic life gets.

In the midst of my new schedules, responsibilities and sudden life changes, I will try not to forget my own definition of beauty, which lies in the true form of nature. To the sands on the beach, the birds chirping on a tree or even the sunlight blinding my sight, I will come back traveling for more of you.

Don’t let life gets in the way of traveling.

Keep exploring,

DR (@demasryan)

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What to Do If You Could Spend A Day in Bandung.

Having a busy schedule is beneficial to keep your mind occupied with positive things, but at the same time if you don’t know how to pause, you’re putting your soul – or probably your insanity – at risk. So, balance is the key.

A recharging weekend is what most big city people often need to balance their life. What’s your ideal “recharging weekend”? If you ask me, sometimes a day of hanging out with friends is all I need. But there are also times when I just can’t resist the urge to have a spontaneous trip out of the city. Just like what I did last week: a spontaneous solo trip to some of the cities in East Java. But, that’s for another post.

As of this week, I’ll share with you one of the similar experiences I had few months ago. Busy schedules and never ending meetings came rapidly into my calendar, I panicked and spontaneously decided to have a short getaway out of the city. In the name of finding new inspiration to keep my creative brain sharp, I booked a train ticket to Bandung and spent a day in that city, bringing only my camera and laptop.

First destination was one of my favorite breakfast spots in Bandung, Bakmi Rica Jl. Kejaksaan. Sometimes I pray that they would open an outlet here in Jakarta. My favorite is their Yamin Noodle with boiled dumplings, meatballs, and fried meatballs! Right in front of this tiny restaurant, there has always been a Durian Ice Cream truck ready to give you a sinful dessert.

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Totally one of the reasons to always go back to Bandung.

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Jl. Kejaksaan No.7 Braga, Sumur Bandung.

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One of the desserts that I could never say no to.

Since this restaurant is located right at the heart of Braga, you can loosen up the bloated tummy (as a result of a bowl of mouthwatering noodle) by strolling around Braga on foot  and capture some of Bandung’s interesting faces and activities.

Unfortunately, Bandung was in a bit of a cloudy mood when I visited her. In order to avoid the heavy rain, which was about to come, I immediately ordered an Uber ride to get me to my next destination, Eugene The Goat.

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It’s an al fresco type coffee shop that offers a romantic view of Bandung, particularly during the cloudy days. I got what I came for, a complete solitude, accompanied only by a cup of Flat White. Several strangers with Bandung typical street-style outfit  were busy with their own stuff. A comforting breeze greeted my cheeks, reminded me to be grateful to have a precious time such as this. It was only a half day in Bandung, and I already got what I came for.

During the much needed me-time at Eugene, one of my Instagram buddy, Rainoswald, texted me saying that he’s coming. Friendship is easily built through social media right now, although the two people might have never even met. Hail to the millennial generation! Check out his instagram feeds, as he is famous for some of his eclectic and aesthetic feeds.

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Rainoswald with his signature quirky pose.

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The perks of having a friend around is of course the opportunity to have some ootd shots.

Mimiti Coffee was next. After waving goodbye to Rainoswald, I moved to this new coffee shop that has been quite a talk in Instagram. A very urban hypebeat-ish ambience lingers around this particular coffee shops as it is dominated with black window frames, concrete grey walls, large al fresco area, plus a display of premium street brands for sale.

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Jalan Karangsari Nomor 1 Pasteur, Sukajadi ,Bandung.

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I didn’t use my camera and cell phone (except to order Uber and Gojek lol) that much as I was really in a dire need of detoxing all the hustles I gained in Jakarta. An authentic moment of living without the urge to capture everything I stumble upon was what I aimed to have. Those three places were the only ones I explored from behind the lens. However, there are also some other places that I visited in Bandung that you can surely put in your list.

  1. Po Ka Tiam -at Jalan Pasir Kaliki No. 64, a breakfast/brunch spot that serves dim sum (try their Salted Egg Yolk Bun).
  2. Two Cents – Jalan Cimanuk No. 2, their maincourses and desserts are also to die for!
  3. Martabak Asan – Jalan Kebon Kawung No. 8, it’s seriously the KILLER Martabak Tipker that I’ve ever tasted. You can order this one by Gojek. I was guilty of finishing a whole box of their chococheese and peanut butter flavors.
  4. Nasi Goreng Babi Cuka at Rumah Makan Legoh – Jalan Sultan Agung No.9, this one is also “Gojek-able”.
  5. Bola Ubi near Jalan Sudirman Bandung, it’s only a walking distance from the hip culinary spot that offers you plenty of tasty food trucks and street sides kinda meals.
  6. NuArt Sculpture Park. It’s a great place to unwind and recharge your creativity as this place offers a three-storeys gallery, a huge backyard displaying some even more huge installations, and a nice al fresco-type coffee shop to sit and relax.

Hopefully this list come as great suggestion for you who are about to visit Bandung anytime soon. Please do share your favorite culinary spots in Bandung by leaving a comment below.

 

Write to you later,

HG. (@gersonhenry)

Cirebon: Culinary Experience at its Best!

 After 8 hours (yeap, 8 hours, that’s like traveling to Sydney by plane) on the road, thanks to the bad traffic, we finally arrived in Cirebon. I still remember that everyone was starting to get cranky. Who wouldn’t? We were on a mission of escaping Jakarta with its unbearable traffic only to find ourselves stuck in a worse traffic. Like, seriously? The only food we had during that long 8 hours were Pringles and Lays.

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So, as soon as we exited the new highway that connects Jakarta and Cirebon, Lukas, our friend, who knows Cirebon inside out and who kindly offered himself to drive us around in Cirebon, took us to try Nasi Lengko.

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Lukas had warned us that we might not gonna like Nasi Lengko. According to him, plenty of “Jakartans” don’t find this particular food as delicious and tasty as the other signature cuisines in Cirebon. So it’s really okay if we didn’t want to give it a try, considering that we were really hungry at that time it might be wise for us to just feed ourselves with something that is more guaranteed.

We convinced Lukas that we wanted to give it a try (and I made a promise to myself that if Nasi Lengko couldn’t satisfy my tastebuds I shall just deal with it). On the bright side, DR & I are not really that demanding when it comes to foods. Give us anything (well, not literally), we’ll eat it right away.

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Nasi Lengko is basically rice served with tempeh (Indonesian soybean cake), tofu, bean sprouts,  sliced cucumber with peanut sauce and soy sauce. We also ordered a portion of Sate Kambing (goat satay), just in case the Nasi Lengko didn’t impress us. Well, my first impression of Nasi Lengko was, not bad. But, I had to agree with plenty of other Jakartans who didn’t find this food impressive. It didn’t taste bad at all, it just tasted rather plain. I might not have a sudden crave towards Nasi Lengko. The Sate Kambing did more work in satisfying my tummy.

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After finishing my portion I went out to get more photos. I was tempted to order a cup of durian ice cream as a dessert. But, remembering that I just had Sate Kambing, having a durian intake might not be the wisest thing to do haha. Cholesterol alert, people!

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Later on that day, after having a nice shower at the hotel and a short nap. Lukas took us to Cirebon’s second-most famous cuisine after Empal Gentong, Nasi Jamblang (steamed rice wrapped in Java plum leave). You would find plenty of food trucks and even small restaurants selling Nasi Jamblang in almost every spot of the city. I have tried Nasi Jamblang before in my former visitation to Cirebon two years ago and this one tasted way better.

If you happen to visit Cirebon, you should really try Nasi Jamblang at Jl. Perujakan. It’s a  decent place on the side of the road, consisting of one big table where they put all the side dishes in bowls that you can handpick to accompany your nasi jamblang, plus three wooden benches.

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Some of the dishes that we would recommend for you to try are:
1. Cumi Hitam (black squid)
2. Perkedel Kentang (potato fritters) – this is really da bomb! 1 wouldn’t be enough for you, as we got ourselves 10 of it!

3. Paru (beef lung)

We fell in love deeply with it at the first bite, we quickly decided to go back tomorrow night before heading back to Jakarta. I actually still wanted to have the second round, but I gotta save my tummy because the culinary exploration didn’t stop there.

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Roti Bakar (toast) Gaternia was next! It is famous for its ice choco milk, toast and also grilled banana with several toppings like cheese, choco sprinkles, condensed milk, peanut butter, eggs, canned corned beef, etc. Every menu they had screamed, “Fat! Fat! Fat!” loudly to my ear. I immediately put a reminder on my iPhone to not skip exercise once I’m back in Jakarta and burn all these calories intake.

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I ordered the grilled banana with condensed milk, cheese and peanuts on top. While DR went for something salty. He ordered the toast with eggs, cheese and corned beef. To accompany our “sinful” night we ordered ice choco milk. On the other side of the world drinking milk and eating toast is considered as breakfast. But here in Indonesia, we love to enjoy it at night. As desserts. Sometimes, even after having a big dinner.

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The moment I hopped into the car,  I began to feel slightly bloated. All I could think of was closing my eyes and sleep. But, we still have one more food to try, Martabak (stuffed pancake). We ordered the thin and crunchy one, with chocolate filling. There were other filling such as cheese, nutella, ovomaltine and peanut butter. In Jakarta, you can also find martabak with red velvet and green tea filling. Yeap, Indonesians are that creative when it comes to food. Anyway, the martabak here in Cirebon is very cheap (IDR 25,000 per box) compared to the ones in Jakarta that would cost around IDR 100,000 per box. We decided to have this tomorrow as a take away to accompany our drive back to Jakarta.

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Day 2 started a bit late. We enjoyed the long weekend too much we stayed in bed until Lukas called us and told us to get ready. No breakfast for us, as we headed right away for brunch. When you read that word “brunch” don’t imagine us having a fancy western country kind of brunch. We went to the ultimate signature cuisine of Cirebon, Empal Gentong. It is a spicy curry-like beef soup cooked in a clay pot (gentong). The soup consists of beef meat, intestine, tripes, lungs, etc and made out of coconut milk. Best served with rice and chilli powder. Oh, and we also had (Kerupuk Kulit) spicy cattle skin crackers to accompany our brunch.

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We had one of the best tonguegasm experience the moment we sipped the soup, chewed the soft and juicy beef meat, and dipped the tasty skin crackers into the soup.

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Next destination was, Mitang. The place was located in the local habitation in Cirebon. We had to park our car and walked across a small bridge that led us to a narrow street with colorful houses standing side by side. Mitang is a deep fried sliced potato powdered with several flavors like cheese, barbecue sauce, seaweed, corn flour (this is the best flavor, no kidding), etc. They sell them in little plastic bags for IDR 10,000 each.

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As a number one fan of french fries, it didn’t take me too long to decide that I want more of this tasty and crunchy mitang. I realized that IDR 10,000 is not enough for my greedy tummy. I was very happy when Lukas told me that we can actually order mitang in a bigger portion and bring it back to Jakarta. DR & I quickly placed our order, each of us bought ourselves IDR 50,000 of mitang (that is 5 times the normal size). I grinned happily as I left the place.

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Few hours later, after some exploration around the city, Lukas took us to try Mie Koclok (shook noodle). It’s actually a chicken noodle, but the soup is made out of chicken broth, coconut milk and tapioca. This made the white-colored and extra-thick soup looks similar to a porridge. The noodle had chicken breast, bean sprouts, hard boiled egg and fried shallot. Mie Koclok is definitely a must have and a come back material.

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Before leaving Cirebon we went back to Nasi Jamblang and satisfied our tummy knowing that we would not be able to taste it again in quite a long run. It felt as if I was saying goodbye to someone I deeply fell in love with. After Nasi Jamblang, we had the Martabak for take away, and we also went back to Mitang to take our orders.

Cirebon, you’ve been spoiling my tongue and tummy in such a way that no Michellin-starred restaurant could ever substitute. I would definitely keep you as one of the easiest culinary getaway whenever I have the opportunity to revisit you.

Write to you later,

HG. (@gersonhenry)

5 Hours on the Road, Thoughts and Questions

Pleasure, to me, is simple.

For example, my kind of pleasure lies in traveling, best friends and a warm drink on a rainy day. I am not a man that wants too much in life. Politic bores me, aristocracy is history and rankings are mere illusions. What’s real pleasure to me, could be achievable even through a good sleep.

Truthfully, pleasure is simple, but may not always be easy to achieve. I had been an insomniac for the few weeks. Good sleep was merely a dream since I woke up feeling worse than the night before.  Maybe it’s the same restless thoughts bothering each one of us, but this time, it speaks louder than before.

“Perhaps, I just needed a holiday!”

Just like that, a phone call suddenly came from my broadcasting studio, giving me a free trip to Ciwidey on the next day. Without much contemplation, I canceled my schedules and affirmed my seat on the bus. Next thing I knew, I was sitting in a bus for a 5 hours journey leaving Jakarta and all my worries behind.

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Lake view and after lunch coffee.

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The ripple effect.

After a long stressing bus ride, I finally arrived at Legok Kondang. This beautiful lodge is where I spent most of my time in Ciwidey. Although I slept on a tent, it was more than just a camping. The staff called it glam-ping, glamorous camping. How glamorous? Think of a big tent with a bathroom inside, wireless internet connection and a freaking television equipped with cable programs. Quite glamorous for a camping situation!

Despite of the falling rain, the weather was not as cold as Bandung. The fog was thick, but it wasn’t chilly, it was just romantic. The kind of fog that embraces you and puts a smile on your face. If you can’t relate to that statement, you definitely need to travel more.

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Endless view.

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After the fog is gone.

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Don’t you think it’s tiring for God to draw these different clouds everyday? Well, He’s God anyway, He has all the time.

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Overlooking the rice fields. My favorite view.

In Ciwidey, me and my office mates had the pleasure of releasing lanterns, rafting and paintball. All of them were fun, but I enjoyed rafting the most. We went through a 3rd grade Palayangan river during a cold afternoon. However, adrenaline made us fail to notice how cold it was until we got off the water.

Paintball was a lot of fun, especially if you’re kicking butt and winning for the team. Yes, my team and I won against the other team. Since I didn’t get a trophy, let me at least brag about it to you.

The releasing of lanterns were done on a quite night. With no stars visible in the dark night sky, 8 lanterns flew up high giving me a lesson. If the sky gives you no stars, perhaps you can create your own.

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A dark sky shouldn’t bring you down.

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Through the Palayangan river.

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Briefing before the game.

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Team meeting.

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It hurts less than you think.

The bonus of this trip was a quick visit to Kawah Putih. It only took us 30 minutes to reach Kawah Putih from Legok Kondang. The view it offered, compensate for the strong sulfuric smell coming from the crater lake. Trust me, it is actually a popular dating site! I mean, the smell is nothing compares to the ambiance and the atmospheric love pressure that fills the air.

Sorry for letting my memories carry me away. It was just beautiful.

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Just the two of us.

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Kawah Putih, aka White Crater.

Not long after the visit to Kawah Putih, I found myself on the way back to Jakarta in the same stressing bus that I took to Ciwidey. However, this time it wasn’t that stressing. In fact, I remember sleeping throughout the entire journey back home. Maybe it really was the vacation that I needed to cure my insomnia!

However, I woke up to find myself filled with more questions.

Do I really need another holiday if those thoughts ever come back again? Do human beings rely on temporary getaway to chase away the thoughts of daily routines? Is this vicious circle really what life has to offer for us?

Isn’t life supposed to be more than that? I do hope so.

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Thanks for the getaway Ciwidey!

DR. (@demasryan)

Accidentally in Love with Spumante Cafe

Our encounter with Spumante was accidental. DR & I were driving around central Jakarta and we had about 2,5 hours to kill before meeting our friends to watch Zootopia. So, as always, we decided to just find a coffee shop, sit there and write.

The first cafe I had in mind was Anomali Coffee, because we were in Menteng area. However, Anomali was packed, and if you know us, we are not a big fan of an overcrowded public place. Luckily, right next to Anomali there is another coffee shop, Spumante. The place seemed nice, so we decided to drop by.

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Parking lot situation.

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Foyer situation

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Spumante Cafe. Jalan Teuku Cik Ditiro No.50, Menteng, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta 10310

The interior was impressive as it has plenty of artistic typography mural painted on every wall. Right from the alfresco area, foyer, indoor and on their brewing station. We chose what looked like the comfiest spot at the corner of Spumante, sat there, opened our laptop, and ordered some beers. I also decided to order a plate of Taco Salad, as my empty tummy craved for some light meals.

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Cashier situation

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Mural everywhere

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Kitchen situation

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Brewing situation.

Price wise, Spumante is quite affordable. Taste wise, I can’t really judge much but the Taco Salad was good. If you’re looking for some good place to chill and chase some deadlines, Spumante is definitely worth considering.

At the back side, they have this huge backyard and some private spaces to be rented for gathering, party or meeting. Of course, DR & I couldn’t resist the urge to quickly snap some good OOTD photos.

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Window panes and white walls means an ideal OOTD spot.

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Stairs also means an ideal OOTD spot.

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DR and his laidback denim jacket.

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Snapback: H&M; Shades: Ruby’s; Denim Shirt & Pants: Topman; Tee: Adidas; Kicks: Nike; Watch: Nixon

We were accidentally twinning in denim that day. I wore a pair of white hi-top Nike Kicks, and newly bought H&M snapback to complete my look. While DR, was going plain in black, yet still stood out with that washed off denim jacket of his.

As you might have noticed, it was almost shaving time for me. I have always preferred a clean look, but lately I’ve been a little bit too lazy to shave. But that’s until this Garnier Men’s newest product, Power White, was delivered to my door. This 2 in 1 package is the perfect solution for every urban men out there who are just as busy as I am. It can be used as shaving foam AND cleansing brightening foam. Now I don’t have to use two different products to shave and to wash my face. This product is definitely a must have item on my traveling essentials!

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My traveling essentials.

Write to you later,

 

HG. (@gersonhenry)

India, Faces and Places I Will Miss

“Out of all places, why India?”

I answered, “why not?”

I still don’t understand why people gave such a silly question to me. Not just once, thousands of times I’ve been questioned about the reason why I backpacked to India a few weeks ago.

People are different. To me, traveling has not been about conveniences. Its about seeing the world, no matter how inconvenient it would be. I’m talking about the smell, the food, the sight, the weather, the people, etc. Whatever it is that stops people from seeing the world will never stop me. In this case, inconveniences won’t stop me from seeing India.

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Travel and be happy.

I packed up my carrier bag with clothes enough for 9 days and a winter jacket to survive the weather. The destinations were Delhi, Agra, Jaipur and Bikaner. The objective was to experience the city life, localize myself, ride elephants, camel safari and see Taj Mahal. I can honestly say that I experienced more than what I have planned.

In this trip I was traveling with a good friend of mine who is an architect based in Jakarta. Being friends for 10 years now, I was confident he would be a great travel companion, and he did.

I arrived late at night in Delhi. It was when my first inconvenience began. Careless me decided to go out at night and find something to eat. Of course at that time there were only street food that gave me a mild stomachache the next morning.

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Good looking trouble maker.

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Gulab jamun, my favorite Indian dessert.

Delhi was quiet and calm during the night, crowded during the day. The streets were filled with honking cars and the public places were filled with people. Since I live in Indonesia, one of the most populated country in the world, I thought I knew how a crowded place would look like. I was wrong. I couldn’t even walk in Old Delhi without bumping to someone else!

Despite of the crowd, Delhi offers great places to visit such as the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial House, Qutb Minar, Humayun’s Tomb, Akshardam Temple, Jantarmantar, The Red Fort and many more you can read on my travel blog which covers about Delhi.

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Family day in Qutb Minar.

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Jantarmantar, where 13 architectural astronomy instruments is placed for centuries.

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Inside the Indira Gandhi Memorial House.

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The majestic and romantic Humayun’s Tomb.

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Outfit of the day. When the sun is high, India is warm. Never wear this outfit on a winter’s morning in India.

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What a lovely family.

I arrived in Agra early in the morning at 3 AM. As I walked out of the train station upon my arrival in Agra, the wind blew so hard I had to walk back in and wore something warmer. Watching this, the locals laughed at me. I didn’t mind and laughed with them! What could I say, I was not ready for 11 degrees Celsius.

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I was their laughing stock.

In case you didn’t know, Agra is the home of the famous Taj Mahal. Alongside with it, you can visit a UNESCO’s World Heritage Site, Fatephur Sikri, which was a great place to be if you love architectural sightseeing.

Truthfully, I could have done more research for this trip. With more research, I would have known that Taj Mahal is closed on every Friday and would have gone to Agra on any other day other than Friday.

Yes, I failed to see Taj Mahal up close. However, I got the chance to see Taj Mahal from a garden called Metab Bagh just right across the famous tomb. It was good enough for me.

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The view of Taj Mahal from Metab Bagh.

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Pillars of Fatephur Sikri.

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Spotted this tourist writing post cards for his family back in Europe.

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Playing with lights.

The places were great, but I could never forget another inconvenience that occurred in Agra. In the middle of my taxi ride, the driver insisted me to stop by at a shopping market. He literally drove to the market and told me to stop by for a while. Apparently by just taking me inside the market, the driver would be getting free lunch from the shops owner. However, as you walk inside, persuasive salesmen will come at you in ways you can never imagine. I didn’t have the time and the mood to face these salesman so I kind of yelled at the taxi driver. It wasn’t something that I’m proud of, but it was something I had to do.

This is my analysis as a tourist. Since Agra is not a big city, poverty is quite high and visible on the streets. At the same time, a lot of tourists came to the town to see Taj Mahal! Today, the locals in Agra see tourists as cash cows they can milk. European tourists wouldn’t probably mind since everything is a lot cheaper in Asia. However, that’s not the case with Asian tourists who are familiar with this kind of scheme. In my humble opinion, India tourism could be in problem if the government refuses to do anything about it.

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Pardon my expression. I was probably still thinking of that taxi driver.

After that bad experience in Agra, I wished for a better trip in Jaipur. Turns out it was a whole lot better. I found out that I booked a nice hostel for a cheap price with a great location. People were nice and friendly in Jaipur without any hidden agenda. Although it was a smaller city than Delhi, I loved everything about Jaipur. Everything except for the traffic.

Jaipur is known as ‘the pink city’. After a short morning walk, I figured out why. Every building I saw on my left and right were red-pink in color. Apparently the pink coloring of the buildings were done back in the days to welcome the king’s guest. The tradition carried on until today without any law to preserve it.

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The Pink City.

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Coffee at the hostel before anything else.

One of the places I visited was Hawa Mahal Palace. The palace was located nearby the main road of Jaipur. It was built back in the days so that the royal princesses could see the street parade without being visible to the commoners. This is why the palace had many small windows facing the street.

Nahargarh Fort was a fort built on a hill. On top of it, I enjoyed the whole breathtaking sight of Jaipur. I remember spending hours of sitting down just enjoying the view and the breeze.

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Hawa Mahal Palace. Can you see someone peeking from the inside?

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Inside the Hawa Mahal Palace .

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“Those who don’t jump will never fly.”

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Inside the Nahargarh Fort.

Other than those two places, Jaipur offers Amber Fort and Jal Mahal. Amber Fort is the main tourist attraction in Jaipur, while Jal Mahal is a palace in the middle of a lake untouched by anyone. These two places were only 15 minutes away from each other by tuktuk.

Amber Fort offers elephant rides every morning up to 11 AM for only 1200 rupee for two. Not a bad price for such a great view and a long hike!

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A long hike up to Amber Fort.

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One of the mosque inside the Amber Fort.

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“Music is a moral law.” – Plato

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The view of Jal Mahal from across the lake.

The last city I visited was Bikaner where I had my camel safari. Bikaner is a very small city, much smaller than Agra. Populated with only 500,000 people, Bikaner’s pace is much slower than Delhi. The city was calm and nothing was much done after 6 PM. It is the home of the famous rat temple where mouses live happily ever after.

You read it correctly, rats.

The rats ran all over the temple and feed on the milk provided as a sign of respect and honor to the ancestors. When a rat walked up to my feet, I was told it was a sign of  good luck. The world is truly filled with unique places!

Since the photos might be disturbing, I have only uploaded my camel safari photos in this blog. For more detailed experiences, again, hop on to my travel blog, in 2 weeks time I will be posting about Bikaner.

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Super excited for my camel ride!

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“Sweet thing, I watch you burn so far it scares me…” – Slowdive

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There’s always a first time for everything!

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The route and the scorching sun.

It was the great outdoor everywhere I looked and turned. It was such a nice feeling after being in big cities for days. The sand dunes and safari views were nothing like I’ve ever experienced in Indonesia!

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After Bikaner, I hoped on to a train back to Delhi with a gloomy feeling. I soon realized that my love for traveling has always been a part of my romantic emancipation. To travel around the world is a dream come true. To travel with someone I love is a reality I would die to live in.

But hey, maybe I would find myself in that reality soon enough! If I’m lucky enough, maybe meeting the right someone is just a few sleeps away.

For now, I am just thankful to God for the experience to travel to India, meeting faces and seeing places I am missing already.

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Overlooking Jaipur from the top. What a feeling!

 DR. (@demasryan)