First time ever…. missed a flight back home

So, the whole Ijen-Baluran-Menjangan trip wouldn’t be that ‘special’ if I hadn’t had my first experience missed my flight back home. It all happened because I chose to take a risk taking a longer bus trip instead of waiting in Surabaya.

I checked out still in the morning time from Gilimanuk, suddenly the night before I’d had this crazy idea to stop by Malang before taking my flight from Surabaya. I didn’t know why but I was so obsessed with the tea plantation (ah, I remember now, it was all because of my cute handsome Rss(censored) teacher!!!!! 😛 ) anyway, so I really wanted to pass this certain area that was famous for its tea. Unfortunately, my friend in Malang said that the tea plantation was too far away even from the city. So I searched for another plan, and somehow I decided to take the south route through Jember.
I’d made a contact with a couchsurfer, Rice, who convinced me that I should have enough time stopping in Jember and still able to catch my flight. But, she wouldn’t be in town when I came, and she found me someone else, Yeanny.
After taking a very long delayed journey from Banyuwangi to Jember, I was actually already a bit worried. Because I was still far away from Surabaya and I arrived way later that I should have had. But, Yeanny was already there and I needed to buy some things for people back in Jakarta. When I met her, she also convinced me that there’s a travel bus directly to Surabaya and we went to have Rujak Cingur while having a long conversation which made her applied for work and holiday visa to Australia. As soon as we finished, she took me to the travel bus office. When I arrived, the travel buses were already fully booked >o< I tried to asked them to squeezed me in as I was all alone and needed to catch a flight. They looked surprised when I said my flight was at 9pm. It was almost 3pm then. They also mentioned that there was a roadwork and a bit traffic ahead, so they didn't want to take risk taking me to Surabaya cause I would definitely miss my flight.
I tried to think positively, and went back to the bus terminal, catching the bus to Bungurasih terminal, Surabaya. I swear to God, I was constantly worried along the way, hoping the bus could go faster and did nothing but pray 😦 but as soon as the sky went darker, I kinda lost my faith. Even the guy sitting next to me couldn't give me any false hope and directly said 'well, normally if I leave Jember around 4pm, we shall arrive around 10pm, Mbak' And in the middle of my nervous, the bus driver asked us to move to another bus which looked more convenient but still couldn't be faster.
I finally arrived at the bus terminal at exactly 9pm. Even the last shuttle bus to the airport had already gone when I arrived 😦 I couldn't think at all. I immediately contacted Ari, a friend who lives in Surabaya, to come and help me. I asked the travel agent about the cheapest ticket to Jakarta for the same night, but they were all fully booked, and so on, and so on. I knew that I wouldn't be able to work the next day, so I phoned my dearest supervisor to apologize for that 😦 Thankfully the terminal itself wasn't too crowded nor too quiet, but I didn't want to go out of the terminal area, you know, just in case (-__-)
Ari finally came with his motorbike and I was completely relieved and clueless at the same time. We then tried to find an internet cafe to find a flight ticket. The next problem was I didn't have any credit cards back then and so neither did Ari! So, I needed to book AirAsia, and I actually could use KlikBCA to avoid the fee, but we didn't have BCA account either! I tried so hard to think who have this BCA account until one person was available to help. Until this day, I can't thank him enough! The 2nd savior for that night, my kindest dive instructor, om Robby!!! :* :* :* (I know he won't read this blog anyway :p)
The process itself was complicated enough so Robby decided to book the flight for me and send the ticket through the e-mail and I needed to find another internet cafe with a printer (-__-)
As soon as I printed out the ticket, Ari took me to the airport because it was already late and I had to catch the earliest flight the next day, and my adventure didn't stop there. Right before we reached the airport, it was…. raining 😉 😉 *now I can laugh at it :p
I felt soooooo bad for Ari for causing him sooo much trouble that night!!!! *really sorry! Please…please…. come again to Jakarta and I'll give you a great service! 😉
In the end, I tried to sleep at Juanda airport (but I couldn't really sleep well) and finally able to go back home to Jakarta….

One lesson for me: Staying in the city although boring is better than taking a bus trip in Java! Grmbl….:p

Menjangan: Finally discovered

I’d heard about Menjangan island quite a few times and I was so intrigued to visit the place. I’d heard that it was really good for diving, not too crowded as the southern and eastern part of Bali are. Some even say it’s one of the best in Bali. But if you wanna go there from Denpasar, it’s so bloody expensive compared to other sites in Bali! The only reason is because it’s pretty far up in the North West part of the island. So I thought of visiting it from East Java instead. Besides, I wasn’t really fancy on going to Denpasar.

So, after visiting Ijen Crater and Baluran National Park, I took the ferry from Ketapang to Gilimanuk. I arrived a bit late after dark and I’d missed my last bus to go to the nearest area near Menjangan island. I waited a while in the bus terminal when one of the bus driver told me that I’d missed the bus and I should find a place to stay the night in Gilimanuk instead. I wasn’t really convinced actually, but the driver, Pak Putu, convinced me. He even went back to the terminal with his motorbike and offered me to find the place together. We stopped in 3 places when I finally ended in one of quite ‘okay’ one. It’s just next to the main road, pretty close to a mosque, not too creepy and pretty cheap. He told me to get the bus tomorrow (which only cost me 2000 rupiah) right from in front of my ‘hotel’.

When I googled about Gilimanuk, the famous Ayam Gilimanuk comes out of search! Too bad the most famous place wasn’t open and I had to go to the other place, but it was really good. I can’t remember the name, I’ll edit this info as soon as I remember.

So the next day, I took the bus and went directly to the entrance of Menjangan island. I went to the official office and asked about how to dive in the island. It’s actually pretty easy to dive in Menjangan through the official. I paid an okay amount of money and the official put me into a diving group from one of the local dive centre. I could rent a camera too so I had some nice pics from the underwater.

After diving there, I wasn’t really that impressed, maybe because I’d had too high expectation. But, if I looked back all the pics, it was actually okay and pretty accessible. So, yeah, it was a good one after all 🙂 I had fun diving the other diver that I just met on the boat before diving, and it went pretty good. So I’m happy that I’ve been to Menjangan, but of course I’d like to visit it again in its best time 🙂

I finished diving just before in time to catch the bus back to Gilimanuk (less than 1 hour ride), had a nice shower, went after some great food and did the most regretful thing about this trip. Planning the activity for the next day before catching the flight back home, which was my first ever traveller nightmare: missing my flight.

to be continued….!

Baluran National Park : African feel in Java

After hearing Dea’s stories about previous trip to Baluran and some discussion with her and the friends, I decided to go to Baluran NP first before heading to Menjangan island. the ojek driver dropped me off in a place where I could take the bus to the terminal. Then, I took a bus to Baluran NP for the next couple of hours. Unfortunately, the bus had a flat tyre in the middle of the journey!!! I was so confused as I didn’t have that much time and was thinking to skip Baluran, but I was so close! Finally after an hour delay, the bus could continue and I arrived just around noon at Baluran. The entrance fee itself was cheap, but I needed something to help me entering it.

Baluran NP itself is famous for its long forestry way full of trees and wild small animals, the savanna and the beach. At that time, I didn’t go to the beach because it was way to far and I had so little time to explore the place on my own. So, I paid for another bike ride just up to the savanna. The road was really bumpy, not smooth at all, full of rock and some puddles along the forestry road. It was really hard for me to take pictures and I kinda wish I had had a gopro back then!!!!

After a 45min-1hour bumpy ride, we finally arrived at the savanna. This is where most people take pictures that look like in Africa. All those grass weeds with only several green trees in the middle. Some wild cows wandering around freely. It was really a cool view!

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The beach itself was still further away and I wasn’t really planned to get wet that day, so after taking some pictures, I headed back to the entrance and took the bus back to Banyuwangi terminal.
Arriving in the bus terminal a bit later than I should have, terrified me a bit. I almost got scammed by the angkot driver, and I just decided to walk to the ferry terminal as I really need to catch the ferry. Fortunately there was an okay driver who stopped and I could speed up a bit. Still, I was already late to catch the ferry as although I took the ferry before 5pm and it took me only 45minutes ride, but as soon as I arrived in Bali, the times was already 1hour ahead because of the time difference (-__-). The story in Menjangan will continue!

Ijen Crater : a worth walk

June last year in 2013, I had a week escape from work (another escape after my long escape in March! you can tell how much I need escapes in a year! 😮 ) So I decided to go to East Java and West Bali.

I bought a round way ticket to Surabaya because West Bali is still far from Denpasar, and my original route was: Surabaya – Ijen Crater – Menjangan – Baluran – Surabaya. But as I said, it was my real original route. Somehow it was changed along the way….

Actually, before I went to Ijen Crater, I saw a post on CS offering a seat to go exploring East Java together from Malang, the route was almost the same except that they were going to Alas Purwo NP and not to Menjangan at all (which is of course not in Java island anymore). However, I made contact with Dea, who posted it and there was a slight possibility that we would arrive in the crater at the same time, so we kept our contact.

As soon as I arrived in Surabaya, I went to the bus terminal. There are two ways to reach Ijen Crater by public transportation, but the one I chose was from Surabaya – Probolinggo – Bondowoso – Ijen crater. Helaas, although I tried really hard to be on time, the bus (as always) was not reliable enough to get me to Bondowoso in time to catch the small bus to the nearest village in Ijen Crater. So I arrived like 15 minutes late at Bondowoso. Luckily I wasn’t the only one. I saw some foreigners in Probolinggo bus that day, 2 of them – French Couple, Julien and Marine – wanted to go to Ijen Crater right away like I did. So, we were thinking to rent a car together and find the accommodation together too. Luckily, we met a guy who owns a travel agent (which is -not- surprisingly from Jakarta), Jhon, and we had a deal to go one way to the accommodation as both of us were continuing to the next city afterwards.

After arriving in the accommodation, we had to think how we could go to the crater, as apparently most people are already in a tour from other city. I tried to talk with the reception asking any possibilities to get a lift, but nothing was free. Maybe we shouldn’t have left from Bondowoso that early, maybe we should have left from Bondowoso directly to Ijen crater instead of staying in the accommodation. All because we wanted to stay in the ‘coffee farm’ that we couldn’t even see because it was already late when we arrived. Ah well, regret always comes late!

In the end, we managed to get a transport and went to Ijen crater in the middle of the night because to catch the blue fire, we must go at around 12 midnight! I was still texting with Dea to check the possibility of going together, but the last thing I knew was she slept in the office nearby (that what I was thinking too) and the signal went gone on my way to the crater. When I arrived, I heard my name was being called, and there Dea was! I was so happy! We decided to walk together with Dea and her friends -Nur, Emma, Indra, Bisma, and Andi-. Up until now, I still feel very lucky to meet them. I’m so not a mountain person (it’s not even a mountain! but the way to get there was a pure going UP), without their support, I would have never made it to the top of the crater!!!!!!! Emma and I were the most discouraged to continue the walk, we were out of breath several times, and I vomited when I reached the top :p yeah, I was that bad :p But hey, again thanks to everyone’s support. WE MADE IT!

It was a worth walk. Although I didn’t see the blue fire from up close and personal -because I couldn’t imagine coming back all the way up in a steep path-, and waiting for the sunrise in such a cold temperature was really challenging, the view after the sun rose was really.. awesome! We began to see clearly the way we made to the top, believe me it was scaaarrry, but seeing all this worker going back and forth to the crater everyday, risking their lungs because of the sulfur (visitors can’t even stay too long there and some people chose to wear special mask to protect themselves from breathing the strong sulfur, but the workers? they just cover themselves with their t-shirt!) It’s not a story anymore (I’ve seen it on NatGeo) that these workers are kinda trapped to work there all their life to support their family and not even living a long time 😦

I was intrigued to see them, but at the same time I felt powerless.

After taking several photos of the view, we went down to the pos station and had INDOMIE which was made of heaven *lebay :p The French couple decided to joined another traveller because they would continue their journey to Bali right away while I took a motorbike ride to get me to Banyuwangi. I still wanted to find the coffee. Too bad I couldn’t find it at all.

I had an interesting talk with the motorbike driver. His dad works at the crater, but when I ask him whether he would continue the family tradition to work there too, he said he wouldn’t. He wanted to work in the tourism industry, getting all the tourist to visit his village and not risking his life in the crater. And there went the question of the year: Why hadn’t I got married. A long discussion as I might say, but I got his point, and hopefully he got mine.

Since I entered Ijen from North part, I was thinking to go back to Surabaya from South part, and that’s when I decided to change my route and went to Baluran first before Menjangan. And I was almost didn’t make it! See you in the next post!

Wakatobi: The Underwater Paradise

I finally managed to come to this story! Yeay!

So, for you who doesn’t know where Wakatobi is, google it! :p
I first knew about this place back in 2010 where I had my first trip to Thousand island. I wasn’t a diver back then, but some people already mentioned this place to me and described it as an underwater paradise on earth. And….. YES IT IS!

As a diver, it had always been my dream to visit this place. Some people said I should visit this as soon as possible before it’s too touristic, before it’s too easy to reach, before it’s commercialized, before it’s… ruined.

Coming to Wakatobi was a long journey. I had to transit to several places before I could reach this place as cheap as possible. (read how to reach it here: https://mitamoet.wordpress.com/2013/06/28/how-to-wakatobi/ )
I flew from Jakarta to Bali, and then from Bali to Kendari via Makassar, and then I took a fast boat to Bau-bau and then took another boat to Tomia, one of the island. It was literally long as it took me more than 24 hours to get there!!!!!!! (blame it on the money!)

But it wasn’t a regret at all. Tomia was the perfect place. There’s actually a resort belong to a foreigner (where you could easily fly from Bali to its own private airport!). So, yeah, Tomia is the center of diving. I made a contact with the only trusted dive center in the island (previously it was Tomia Dive Center, but I believe the name’s changed). The owner itself was from Jakarta, and -not surprisingly- live in my neighborhood. WHAT A COINCIDENCE. Too bad, I was the only client when I visited the place. It wasn’t a high season although it was a good timing as the tide was pretty calm during that month (March). The only reason why I came during that time was of course to celebrate my own bday by myself 🙂

It was one of the best bday ever. Despite the fact of the loneliness :p I was really happy to see a lot of beautiful things underwater. The school of fish, barracudas, colourful corals, great visibility, and the challenge itself. Yup, Wakatobi is not really for beginners.

Beside the underwater, the land itself was interesting. Tomia was still part of Buton Kingdom, and there was some old caves and ruined castle in the forest. The sunset both over the hill and at the jetty were awesome. The only thing I was a bit sad -if I may- was the food. Lack of vegetables! but hey, not to be worried, as there’s this delicious BAKSO near the port which was to DIE for!

After spending couple of days in Tomia, I continued to Hoga island through Kaleidupa. Hoga island is more famous than Tomia as it’s used for student researcher (mainly from abroad) and it’s got several cheap accommodation and the food are great! But, there’s a but of course, compared to Tomia, the diving itself wasn’t that great. Thankfully, the snorkeling along the jetty was awesome!!!!!!!!!!! The dive itself was cheaper too, only because they are more popular than the one in Tomia.

From Kaleidupa, I went straight back to Bau-bau without visiting Wangi-wangi, the capital city. Only because Wangi-wangi is just another city like and I don’t have money and time to explore the city anymore :p

So in Bau-bau, I had this ojek driver that I met first when I transit in Bau-bau. I kinda of hired him for driving me around the city. As soon as I arrived in Bau-bau, I went to the guest house to drop my backpack, and didn’t waste any more time to explore the city and went to Cia-cia village to answer my curiosity. So, couple years back, while I was still studying Korean language, I saw it on TV about one tribe in Sulawesi who use Hangeul (korean alphabet) as their alphabet, I was soooo surprised. And luckily when I arrived in Cia-cia village, I met the man who promoted it at the first place (couldn’t remember his name).
It all begun when he was sent to Korea to attend a seminar as a teacher, and he thought to himself why not using Hangeul as the alphabet as this Cia-cia tribe doesn’t have its alphabet yet? And so he taught the alphabet at school, and Korean government was more than happy to send some volunteers to support this! It was funny and sad at the same time. Funny because out of nowhere, you can see this hangeul alphabet written all over the place, sign road, street name, school name and so on. And it’s sad because I can see how disappointed this man because our own government couldn’t fight for our own tribe 😦

Well, again, I can only take this experience to myself. Indonesia has so many hidden, unexplored and beautiful places. We can promote it as much as we like, nurture it and keep it great, but we also need the government to put their support on it. Cause these places need a good infrastructure.

The Philippines – Boracay island

Since I used Cebu Pacific to fly to South Korea, I had to transit in Manila. So before I flew to Busan, I had a half day transit in Manila. I managed myself to be adopted by another travelers to join their ‘city tour’ as I had no plan back then :p Meet the journalist Astari and the dentist Taufik 🙂 (https://mitamoet.wordpress.com/2013/09/15/transitting-in-manila/)
After i finished my South Korean trip, I didn’t fly directly to Jakarta, but I stayed for a couple of days more in the Philippines, to be exact: Boracay island.
I flew directly from Manila to Boracay island using Cebu Pacific, and I went to the hostel which was also a dive center. I think I dived in Boracay island, but somehow I forgot! Maybe the diving wasn’t really that good that I don’t remember! Omaigod! it’s never happened before!
Anyway, I met an interesting travelmates in Boracay. The first one was my dormmate, from Thailand. We were both surprised finding ourselves traveling solo in The Philippines! But hey, it’s getting popular in Asia I guess. He told me that he was doing the journey so that he could encourage his son to see the world one day like he does – awesome!
Boracay itself wasn’t really my type of island. It was too touristic for me, and it wasn’t famous for diving, but for its white sand beach. Luckily I could enjoy this beautiful beach – I went to Puka beach- together with an even more awesome travelmate, Gaby Shin, whom I met from Couchsurfing. She was travel in luxury (unlike me of course :p) and we could go to the beach for free!
The funny thing that I’d mention again and again about The Philippines is how similar their face with Indonesian people are!!!! People kept on talking with me in Tagalog, and all I could do was saying sorry cause I’m not Filipino! 😦 But hey, it’s a one needed ice breaker! 😀
Returning from Boracay island to Manila was a totally different story. Unlike when I first came, I had to go to Kalibo to catch my Air Asia flight to Manila. I thought, well I could sleep in the airport. But, as soon as I arrived, the airport was reaaaaaaally small and I couldn’t enter it because my flight is only in the morning the next day! I didn’t have any back-up plan, so I was walking out the airport to find a nearby hostel. I forgot how, but somehow I found several places that I could stay in the city and the day was getting darker so I took the public transport instead of walking. As soon as I was in the city, the driver asked where I wanted to go, and I told him to drop me to the nearest hostel. And of course, he was a bit shocked :p But then I gave him several names, and so he took me to one of them.
Up until now, I could still remember how creepy the place was. I couldn’t remember the name anymore, but it was soooooooooooooo creepy. It was a dorm room for more than 10 people and I was the only one staying in the room (—-_____—-)
The toilet and the shower was like in the hospital, it was more like a boarding school dorm room rather than a hostel. I couldn’t turn off the light as I was so scared that night. I kept waking up every hour and I was also afraid that I would miss my flight. How I wish I hadn’t stayed in that hostel (-__-)”
At least, I managed to go back to Manila and stayed with Hilda again although Jeroen was no longer staying there and this time she took me to her workplace which was a broadcast company and I had a tour to its studio! 😀
Crazy experience in The Philippines is never ending!

South Korea 5 – Seoul-ful people

My trip to South Korea ended at Seoul, the capital city. The thing with capital city is, sometimes it’s not about what can you see in the city as many (big) city is quite typical (crowded, buildings, bla..bla..bla..), BUT mostly it’s about the people that makes a city worth a visit.

I had several agenda coming to this city, but most of them were to meet the people -besides trying to find an expensive brooch for my aunt.
First person to meet was Jihyeon. I met her when I visited Sabang for my Sumatera trip (https://mitamoet.wordpress.com/2013/03/30/sumatera-trip-aceh-1/), she was doing an internship in Aceh teaching English in an Islamic school. It was so nice catching up with her and we even made a pic together to wish Erna (our CS friend from Aceh 🙂 ) a happy Bday.

After staying for 1 day with Jihyeon, I moved to a couchsurfer’s flat. I stayed with Minjeong.
Staying with her was a great cultural experience for me. I loved her heated floor where I could just lie down on the floor as it was almost winter when I came, and how helpful she was during my stay to literally help me getting around and stuff. And we even had dinner together when Indonesia and Korean food are all together on the table 😀 (still couldn’t believe she cooked Samgyetang for me! 😀 ) and not to be forgotten how we both believe travelling is awesome! 😀

During my stay in Seoul, I also managed meeting up with Dami-ssi, a unique Korean lady who I hosted before in Jakarta. Together she accompanied me finding a…. mosque! She was as curious as I was although the mosque wasn’t really as I expected, but she learned something about Islam that day 🙂 and I was glad meeting her again although it was really short.

As the trip happened 2 years ago, little that I could remember. But, I could remember finding my way easily with the subway, how happy I was when I finally visited this country after dreaming about it years before, and of course the quest of this city: finding a brooch for my aunt. It made me went to the bank to exchange money as it was over my tightly planned budget, and I ended up buying some souvenirs too! *sigh