Postcards From Labuan Bajo: A Birthday Trip With Travel Society!

I still remember last year strolling around several Instagram accounts, hoppin from one photo to another, and stumblin upon many photos of the beautiful Labuan Bajo. That was when I decided to intentionally find more infos on how to travel to this part of Indonesia. Particularly as I was craving for a good holiday day on the beach, yet was so bored with Bali. I was keen to explore more hidden gems of this country.

Travel Society was like that thirst-quencher in the middle of a sunny day. Our convo begun with warm greetings and ended up in a collaboration as they invited me to join one of their sailing trips to Bajo! If you are looking for an affordable travel experience to Labuan Bajo and some other places in Indonesia, yet with comfortable place to stay and friendly guides to accompany you, Travel Society should be on your call list.

They have regular dates every year for an open trip to Bajo that you can check on their Instagram account. Out of the dates they provide, I picked the one in September not knowing that it fell right on my 30th birthday!

Celebrating your birthday with a new experience was definitely a great idea. As for me, I celebrated it with a living on a boat for 3 days and 2 nights, visiting 9 islands (Kelor, Manjarite, Rinca, Padar, Namo, Taka Makassar, Gili Lawa, Kanawa, and Bidadari) in total, trekking several hills to watch sunrise and sunset, snorkeling to find manta, getting up close and personal with the Komodo dragon, laying on a pink beach, and swimming in a clear turquoise sea. Well, I got a pretty bad sunburnt as a birthday gift, but it was definitely worth the experience!

I’ll share more about these trip, but for now, please enjoy my postcard series from Labuan Bajo!

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First island in the itinerary, Pulau Kelor

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Menjangan (deer), which is the Komodo dragon’s lunch menu.

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Enjoying the sailing trip a little bit too much.

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Fishermen ready to go to work.

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A convo at golden hour.

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That beautiful hue of gold behind a hill.

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Sunrise watching from the top of Padar Island.

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One of the best islands, Taka Makassar, which pretty much reminds me of Maldive.

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Floating hotels at Gili Lawa.

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Resting to catch a breath.

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Sand-dipped toes on Bidadari Island.

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I was so tempted to say “Dracarys” LOL!

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Sunset at Labuan Bajo.

Write to you later,

HG. (@gersonhenry)

 

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Postcards From New Zealand: 9 Days, 7 Cities, 6 People, 5 Hotels, 2 Islands, 1 Car!

The trip to New Zealand last August was loaded with plenty of remarkable “first time” experience for me. For example, it was my first time..

flying solo in a long hours flight with two layovers
going on a road trip (this includes being a good co-driver, trying so hard not to fall asleep while paying attention to the GPS, and also surviving hunger and the urge to pee when there’s no gas station and mini mart anywhere near us)
seeing snow
hiking a mountain, which was located in the middle of a city
staying in a cabin hotel (and had to walk at 6.30am in the morning to the toilet, fighting the winter breeze, and end up shivering, thinking I might die of hypothermia, while doing number two).
experiencing flood in other country (LOL).

I kid you not, road trip in New Zealand should be the thing you must do before you hit 30. Or, at least before you die.

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Along with 5 traveling companion, we started the road trip from Auckland (North Island), dropped by at Hobbiton, then went all the way down to Wellington (exploring Martinborough, the city of winery), then took a ferry ride to the South Island, arrived at Picton, passed Nelson – a very beautiful city, I might wanna spend my old days there -, stayed at Hanmersprings (where I shivered (almost to death) in the toilet), moved to Christchurch, dropped by at Lake Tekapo, Mount Cook, ended the trip at Queenstown, and made a 7 hours trip to visit Milford Sound (which pretty much reminds of Kong Island movie).

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The NZ Road Trip Buddies: @demasryan, @yolandelwanda, @arisleonardo, @wisiannysusanty, @felwijaya.

I’ll share more stories in the upcoming post, so please stick around! Feel free to comment or reach me via Instagram if you want the full NZ itinerary along with budget planning, and hotel recommendations!

Write to you later,

HG. (@gersonhenry)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Postcards From Sydney: Fallin’ In Love For The Third Time Around

“Sydney? Again?”
Most people reacted like that when they heard that I’m going to Sydney for the third time. They failed to understand why on earth would I keep coming back and forth to Sydney.

“If I were you, I would use the money to travel to other cities on earth,” so they said. As much as I agreed on their comeback, somehow, there’s something about Sydney that makes me feel like it’s always a trip to second home (probably, partly because I still have a close family who lives there).

Now, after the third visit, I departed from Sydney shedding a little tear wondering whether I can come back for more or not. How about I just spend the next season of my life in Sydney? It’s all in my head. Not sure whether I should act on it right away.

This time in Sydney, I found comfort and felt confident in wandering around and exploring the city alone. I enjoy every single experience of getting the wrong bus, walking a bit too far because I took the wrong turn, hopping on and off the trains all by myself. Will tell you more details about this trip, but for now, please do enjoy some photos I captured from this beautiful city.

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First time witnessing double rainbow at Shelly Beach. 


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Captured this by iPhone 5S. One eye-spoiling sunset!


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Symmetrical. Captured this when I took the wrong train to Macquarie.


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Stumbling upon this “urban”-ish and “instagenic” train tunnel.


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In Indonesia, I had to hike to high places to watch sunrise. In Sydney, I woke up and opened my eyes to this beautiful sunrise from my cousin’s apartment. 


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Marchin’ on a hill.


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Sunbathing. Not On A Sand. But On A Grass Field.


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Climb Up, Climb Up.


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Nap Time At The Park.


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Should I Dip My Feet On The Water?


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Architectural.


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Temptation For A Munching Machine. 


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Reminds Me Of That Groceries Store Corner That I Saw Once In Monocle.


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The Popular Bondi Beach.


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What You Lookin’ At?


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Will I Find Love Inside?

 

Write to you later,

HG. (@gersonhenry)

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.

The Perks of Being Twenty - Travel - Cirebon - Foodies - Lifestyle - Martabak 01

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.

The Perks of Being Twenty - Travel - Cirebon - Foodies - Lifestyle - Empal Gentong 01

The Perks of Being Twenty - Travel - Cirebon - Foodies - Lifestyle - Empal Gentong 02

The Perks of Being Twenty - Travel - Cirebon - Foodies - Lifestyle - Empal Gentong 03

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.

The Perks of Being Twenty - Travel - Cirebon - Foodies - Lifestyle - Empal Gentong 05

The Perks of Being Twenty - Travel - Cirebon - Foodies - Lifestyle - Empal Gentong 04

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.

The Perks of Being Twenty - Travel - Cirebon - Foodies - Lifestyle - Mitang 05

The Perks of Being Twenty - Travel - Cirebon - Foodies - Lifestyle - Mitang 01

The Perks of Being Twenty - Travel - Cirebon - Foodies - Lifestyle - Mitang 02

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.

The Perks of Being Twenty - Travel - Cirebon - Foodies - Lifestyle - Mitang 03

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.

The Perks of Being Twenty - Travel - Cirebon - Foodies - Lifestyle - Mie Koclok 02

The Perks of Being Twenty - Travel - Cirebon - Foodies - Lifestyle - Mie Koclok 01

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)