Banyu Wana Amertha Waterfall: Hidden Paradise in Wanagiri

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Wanagiri may not be the first place popping up in your mind when you’re talking about Bali. Especially, it’s merely a small village in the mountainous area of north Bali, situated 2 hours from all-time tourist destinations on the island, such as Kuta, Seminyak and many more, where all of them are located in the south.

Yet believe it or not, the news about the picturesque view of Wanagiri village has widely spread overseas. There are even more foreign tourists than local ones. Banyu Wana Amertha Waterfall is one of the must-to-see destinations in the village.

4 WATERFALLS IN ONE PLACE

The best part of visiting Banyu Wana Amertha Waterfall is that by paying merely Rp. 10,000 ($ 0.80) for locals and Rp. 20,000 ($ 1.50) for foreigners, you automatically have an access to 4 waterfalls since all of them are located close to each other.

NON-TOURISTY, PRESERVED NATURE

If you embrace tranquility and purity, Banyu Wana Amerta Waterfall is the right place for you. You won’t feel any touristy atmosphere, from overcrowded traffic to loud chit-chats, shouting and all that. Another advantage for not being a touristy place is that there aren’t too many trashes and less chances for nature destruction.

Moreover, there’s no such thing as burning heat in Wanagiri. If hot and sun is the first impression about the weather in Bali, it’s time to broaden that perception. Generally speaking, the afternoon temperature in Wanagiri is approximately 25 degrees with the real feel of 22 degrees because of the breeze.

I personally love the mild weather in Wanagiri, that affects me for not being too sweaty and too exhausted during the hiking activity, thanks to the refreshing mountain breeze.

PERFECT FOR DEBUTANT HIKERS

The way to the waterfall is quite steep and narrow, but still safe for cars and motorcycles to pass by. The asphalt street has a very good condition with an even surface. What you need to do is to control the speed while driving.

If you love to explore the beauty of nature but afraid of falling, getting slipped, getting lost and ending up in the middle of nowhere? Fear not! The trails are suitable for all-level hikers. The safety is pretty good, too.

At first, you will pass residential houses after passing the ticket counter. This confused me in the beginning, thinking that I took the wrong way to the villagers’ house complex. Nonetheless, a wooden board saying “waterfall” with an arrow sign implied that I was on the right track.

You will step on paving blocks along the way to the main destination, surrounded with greenery and some flower. It’s completely an easy and save trail for everyone.

on the way to the waterfall

Within 20 minutes walk, you’ll find an intersection with a big board mentioning the direction and duration spent to all 4 waterfalls. Each waterfall are simply named “BWA Waterfall”, “One Waterfall”, “Two Waterfall” (without “s”, probably because of grammatical error) and “Spray Waterfall”.

an intersection

Starting from here, the trail starts to be “closer to nature”, aka a bit challenging, and no pavements like the previous one. But still, it is suitable for those who are not used to hiking. There are some slippery paths you need to pay attention, though not too many. The risk of being slipped is lessened by used tires implanted on the soil. Steep surfaces are modified into stairs in accordance with the contour of the soil, completed with handrails made of bamboo, wood or twigs to support safety, while maintaining the original landscape as it should be.

BWA WATERFALL AND ONE WATERFALL

banyu wana amerta waterfall
one waterfall

If you don’t have all the time in the world, just visit One Waterfall and BWA (abbreviation of Banyu Wana Amertha) Waterfall. Both waterfalls are on the same location that takes only a minute walking distance from the intersection, separated by a wooden bridge. The difference between them is that One Waterfall only has 1 spring water, whereas BWA Waterfall has several sources of spring water in one place.

banyu wana amertha waterfall
the bridge to BWA waterfall

The view is not only magnificent for taking pictures, selfie or wefie, but also great for swimming and bathing. So don’t forget to bring a swimsuit to enjoy the fresh and unpolluted water. It will re-energize your body and mind to continue your journey. Not far from the waterfall, there’s a changing room that looks like a hut at a glance.

BWA Waterfall

TWO WATERFALL AND SPRAY WATERFALL

These waterfalls are also spots you should not miss during the visit. Starting from the same intersection, it takes 5 minutes to Two Waterfall and 7 minutes to Spray Waterfall. Bear in mind that these waterfalls are in the opposite direction of BWA and One Waterfall.

Two Waterfall and favorite photo spot

Most visitors love capturing themselves standing on the wooden bridge with a waterfall background in Two Waterfall. On the other hand, there’s no bridge in Spray Waterfall and the water stream tends to be heavy. You also can bathe and swim in both waterfalls, however they are more popular for photo spots and no changing room provided.

banyu wana amertha waterfall
spray waterfall

TIPS FOR VISITORS

The best time to visit is in the morning because it often rains in Wanagiri in the afternoon, and the paths are getting more slippery as well. Bringing a raincoat to anticipate the weather is highly recommended. Make sure you wear comfortable clothing and non-slip shoes or sandals. To maximize the experience at the waterfall, bring a swimsuit if you wish.

There’s only one traditional food stall or so-called warung inside the area with limited options, such as Indomie instant noodle, coffee and snacks. It’s completely a traditional warung, nothing commercial and very cheap. Just $ 0.30 for a cup of coffee, who can’t afford that?

The other warung is outside the waterfall complex, facing the street. Selling more or less the same thing, they have an $ 0.80 rice noodle with meatballs, that unfortunately the meatballs are not good and too floury. So, I suggest you to get an Indomie instant noodle instead, since it already has a sort of “standard” taste regardless who cooks it. Though still, some say that eating Indomie at any warung tastes better than you cook it at home.

this looks good, but the taste isn’t

If they don’t suit your taste, bring your own food and don’t litter. I advise you to bring a paper or a plastic bag to collect trashes and throw them away after returning to the hotel.

Bali has so much more than just beaches and sun. To feel the new sensation of Bali with waterfalls and colder weather, that could be 10 or even 6 degrees at night, it’s time for you to visit north Bali that includes Banyu Wana Amertha waterfall on your bucket list.

gps

Turning a Travel Article into a Personal Guide with GPSmyCity – 2020

Indeed, it’s possible! But, what is GPSmyCity and what are the benefits for travelers?

GPSmyCity is an app providing articles covering over 1,000 cities worldwide. Once you install the app either on iOS or Android through www.gpsmycity.com , you can download each article for free and read it in the future without internet connection.

All articles are embedded with GPS map that will function after upgrading with a small amount of fee. There’s no need to ask anyone for a direction or read a conventional map on your own any longer to find a place you want to go, that will save a lot of time and cut the hassle during your journey. The best thing about it is that the GPS works even when you’re offline. Isn’t it great?

gps

After traveling for many years, I realize that wi-fi connection is one of the essentials you don’t always get easily when you’re abroad, except depending on hotels and cafes or data roaming packages that may break your bank account. So, I believe that GPSmyCity is a breakthrough app for travelers like us.

Therefore, I’m happy to announce that my articles:

Gokayama and Two UNESCO Heritage Villages – https://www.gpsmycity.com/blog/6657, Ereveld Menteng Pulo, Historical Cemetery in a Jungle – https://www.gpsmycity.com/blog/6655, 6 Attractions in Tanjung Priok, North Jakarta – https://www.gpsmycity.com/blog/6579

are ready to launch on GPSmyCity.

During the first week of the launch, GPSmyCity will give away one of my articles, Gokayama and Two UNESCO Heritage Villages – https://www.gpsmycity.com/blog/6657, and users will be able to upgrade the app for free.

So, get the app now to access both iOS and Android versions on www.gpsmycity.com !

Kishigawa Railway Line Tourism: Saved by the Cat!

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Kishigawa Line is a railway line under Wakayama Electric Railway in Wakayama, Japan. Departing from platform 9 in Wakayama Station, the train serves trips to 14 stations, that ends up in Kishi Station, Kinokawa, in 30 minutes.

By the way, what does a cat have to do with a railway line?

ALMOST BANKRUPT

strawberry themed train

The lack of passengers and financial problems in mid 2000 threatened Kishigawa Line to its permanent closure due to bankcruptcy. The locals urged Mitsunobu Kojima, the president of Wakayama Electric Railway at that time, to revive the railway line.

One day, a grocery store owner near Kishi Station begged the railway company to take care of a cat called Tama. Okay, that may sounded odd, but Tama wasn’t just any other cat.

He’s a calico cat that the store owner took care of. Tama often waited in the neighbourhood of Kishi Station and had paid attention many train passengers and inhabitants in town since the end of 90’s because of its tameness and cute-looking for pictures. He was later nicknamed “Kishi station master”.

After meeting Tama in his own eyes, Kojima was touched and finally agreed to adopt him.

TAMA, KISHIGAWA LINE ICON

To boost an image, Kojima created a branding for Kishigawa Line by making Tama as an icon. Accessorized with a conductor’s hat, he officially turned his beloved cat into “Kishi Station Master” in 2007. It was the first time in Japanese history to have a cat as a station master.

Tama illustrated

Apart from that, Tama appeared in multiple publications, social media, greeted passengers and became a model. Tama even had his own office in the form of a modified ticket counter.

Kojima’s efforts finally paid off. The amount of passengers increased about 55,000 people, who were mostly very enthusiastic to meet the cute and cuddly Tama. The ticket sales was not only enough to finance Tama’s food all year long, but also to boost the economic growth in Wakayama.

After Tama’s passing in 2015 in the age of 16, his position is replaced by another calico cat named Nitama or Tama 2, who is in charge in Kishi Station. There’s also Yontama or Tama 4 in Idakiso Station.

THE FOUR-THEMED TRAIN

inside strawberry themed train (ichigo densa)

The trains operating in Kishigawa Line are very easy to recognize because of their attractive design created by Eiji Mitooka. Basically, they have 4 different themes, such as strawberry (Ichigo Densa), toys (Omoden), plum pickles (Umeboshi Densha) and last but not least, Tama Den, which is no other than Tama cat theme. This train even has “ears” too in its front look.

You’ll never know what day and time the particular theme will appear right before your eyes. You may get Tama theme if you are lucky.

tama den, or cat themed train

IDAKISO STATION: YONTAMA’S OFFICE AND TEMPLE

super station master room or Yontama’s office

Idakiso station is one of the busiest station because it’s where super station master room aka Yontama’s “office” is located. Yontama’s room is a modified ticket counter, completed with a bed, litter tray and cat ladder.

Yontama is in service from 10 am to 4 pm, except Monday and Friday. Suppose you don’t see Yontama, perhaps he’s in deep sleep. I found him under the ladder, curling his body while sleeping. He didn’t notice me watching him.

Visitors are not allowed to knock the glass and take pictures without permission or carelessly while the cat is resting to avoid disturbance and stress.

Itakiso Temple
Itakiso Temple

Don’t come the station just to see the feline stationmaster. Leave the station and visit beautiful Shinto temples, such as Itakiso, Ashigami and Kimiidera, which are reachable on foot. Nonetheless, suppose you don’t want to walk too far, the closest temple is Itakiso Temple that takes 7 minutes walking distance.

empty street along the way

Trust me, walking to Itakiso temple is a fun and relaxing activity since trees, gardens, classic Japanese houses will greet you along the way. Moreover, the street is wide with less cars passing by and its surroundings is very quiet.

KISHI STATION: TAMA MUSEUM AND CAFE

Tama Museum and Cafe

The final stop of Kishigawa Line is Kishi Station. The station houses Tama Museum and Tama Cafe. Also designed by Eiji Mitooka, pay attention to some unique details of the building, from a cat head-shaped roof with ears in both edges to 2 oval-shaped windows resembling cat’s eyes.

And that’s not all, folks. You will also find cat-themed chairs inside the cafe, accentuated with the silhouette of a cat’s head, ears, cat whiskers illustration and a bell, associated with a pet’s (cat) accessories. Tama Cafe offers light bites, such as cakes, crepes, ice cream, french fries and drinks, from coffee, matcha latte to hot chocolate.

Tama Museum is where you can see memorabilia of Tama and get some lovely Tama merchandise in the souvenir shop. Mugs, t-shirts, notebooks, towels, key chains, posters and fridge magnets are among others.

Tama souvenir shop

One thing for sure. You are able to meet the station master Yontama every day, except on his day offs on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

TICKET INFORMATION

Kishigawa Line ticket is available in Wakayama Station. I recommended you to take a day ticket as a tourist since it’s valid for unlimited return trips and you can stop in any station you like within 24 hours. It costs 800 Yen ($ 7.50) for adults, 400 yen ($ 3.80) for kids.

Wakayama Station

Please note that Kishigawa Line is not part of JR Pass you’ve already bought in your country of origin. So, you have to get it separately. Just to be clear, all JR passes are only sold overseas, destined for foreign tourists to explore Japan in more affordable rate. However, Kishigawa Railway Line tickets are only obtainable in Wakayama, Japan.

I have to admit that Japanese people are great at developing a tourist destination in inspiring and unthinkable way. The story behind Kishigawa Line proves that a cat doesn’t only have 9 lives, but also able to save people from bankruptcy and revive tourism in unconventional way.

7 Mouthwatering Food You Need to Try in Kuroshio Ichiba Market

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Wakayama Prefecture, whose capital city is Wakayama City, is situated in the southern part of Osaka. One of the most popular destinations is Kuroshio Ichiba Market in Wakayama City Marina, a 49-acre man-made island that you can reach within 30 minutes from Wakayama City center by bus. It’s a heaven on earth for foodies, where they are able to eat till they drop, especially the best selling seafood delicacies.

Somehow, Kuroshio Ichiba Market reminds you of Tsukiji Market in Tokyo, yet Kuroshio is an indoor market.

Without further much ado, here are 7 kinds of food you should not miss in Kuroshio Ichiba Market.

  1. TUNA FISH AND CUTTING SHOW
tuna cutting show

Kuroshio Ichiba Market earns its nickname Tuna Land for one particular reason: it’s the center of tuna trading center. Moreover, Wakayama is famous for being the source of the best quality tuna fish in entire Japan, especially pacific bluefin tuna.

Apart from getting Japan’s best tuna fish, don’t forget to watch Tuna Cutting Show that runs 3 times a day for 15 minutes. The show times are 11 am, 12.30 am and 3 pm.

An experienced fisherman shows his skill in slashing a nearly 100 kg giant fish in such an agility, that only can be achieved after tons of practicing, while explaining about the cutting process and tuna grading. Unfortunately, the interesting basic knowledge is only presented in Japanese without any translation. But still, it doesn’t diminish the excitement of the show.

After the show, the fisherman instantly have the fresh cut meat offered to future customers in the form of sushi and sashimi, starting from 500 Yen ($ 4.70) for about 8 to 10 slices per pack. To be honest, it’s my first time ever to be addicted to tuna sashimi. The meat was so fresh and juicy that I couldn’t stop eating it!

2. FRESH SEAFOOD

seafood in package

Apart form tuna, you can also get scallop, eel, crab, squid, octopus, sea urchin, prawn, fish egg (tobiko), clams, salmon and many more at Kuroshio Ichiba Market. The lowest price is about 500 Yen ($ 4.70) per pack, depending the type and weight of the seafood.

When the rest of the seafood is allowed to dine in and to go, octopus has its exception. You only can get it for dining in and it’s not advisable to keep it overnight to maintain its freshness. So, no “to go” for octopus, okay? All sellers at the market will remind it to all consumers every time they are about to buy octopus-based products to avoid misunderstanding.

3. DRIED SEAFOOD

yep. the more you buy, the cheaper the price

Suppose you’re not really into raw food, fear not. The market also offers smoked, marinated and fried seafood products. Wakayama orange-flavoured fried fish is probably something unique to try, among others, for adventurous foodies. I was expecting either savoury or salty taste for this one, yet surprisingly it tends to be sweet. Having tried the tester (thank God there’s one!), I would describe it as sweet and fishy crunchy orange and I’m not into it. But again, that’s my verdict. I don’t know about you. The minimum price is 550 Yen ($4.70) per pack.

4. BARBECUE

seafood bbq
meat and sausage bbq

Still inside the market, there are several restaurants serving seafood and meat, from chicken, beef to pork, served in skewers. Bear in mind that they’re not meant to be eaten raw, as you can grill it yourself in outdoor seating areas. Starting from 150 Yen ($ 1.50), all restaurants are equipped with barbecue grill dining table, tongs, bottled barbecue and soy sauce. Yes, it’s indeed a self-service type of restaurant.

5. FRESH AND PROCESSED FRUITS

Wakayama orange

The most well-known fruit product in Wakayama is Wakayama orange with its refreshingly sweet taste for direct consumption, juice, ice cream flavour and even for fried fish flavouring (check my no. 3 explanation above). In Kuroshio Ichiba Market, you also have the opportunity to try the signature orange in the region, as well as grape and persimmon, that cost you from 400 Yen ($ 3.80) to 600 Yen ($ 5.70) per pack. Fresh juices, dried and processed fruits, including jam, are also available.

6. REFRESHING PICKLES

plum pickles in jars

Japanese people are pickle lovers. You can find several kinds of veggie, from bamboo shoots, cucumber to radish processed into pickles. Some of them are even mixed with clams as part of flavoring varieties.

If you like to get something particular from Wakayama, try plum pickles. Unlike other pickles that usually have sour taste, plum pickles is salty. You can choose the saltiness percentage from 4, 9 to 13 percent. Packed in a big jar, the pickles cost you 1490 Yen ($ 14) for 400 grams. Of course, smaller packages are available as well.

7. DESSERTS AND SWEETS

sweets, sweets, sweets!

I believe that you can’t leave Japan, especially sweet tooth people, without having mochi.

Kuroshio Ichiba Market offers this popular Japanese chewy rice cake in varieties of filling, such as pear, black sesame, chocolate, sakura (cherry blossom), matcha (green tea) and last but not least, Wakayama orange. Besides mochi, you can also get the famous Wakayama orange filling in sponge cakes and pies. They all cost starting from 390 Yen ($ 3.70) in a small package.

TESTER: AVOIDING WRONG BUYING DECISION!

Operating from 10 am to 5 pm, Kuroshio Ichiba Market provides a comfortable place to shop with great hospitality. The best part is that almost every counter offers product tester. As you know, nearly all Japanese products, including food, have such a fantastic packaging design that sometimes we instantly forget that what’s inside may not suit our taste buds.

Testers definitely helped me to omit wrong purchasing decisions. It turns out that Wakayama orange flavoured fried fish and salty plum pickles are not my things at all.

There’s no doubt that Kuroshio Ichiba Market is the right place to get varieties of souvenirs not only seafood) for friends, family and yourself under one roof.

Make sure you bring enough money when you travel to this market. From seafood, fruits to sweets, they all look so tantalizing that you may end up with buying things you don’t need. Forget shopping list (it wont work!) as tester is the only way to control overspending. You won’t buy food you hate the taste regardless of how cute they look, do you?

7 Things about New Normal at The Mall in Jakarta

After 2 months of Large Scale of Social Distancing (PSBB) in Jakarta, as we don’t do lock down, the phase of New Normal (the governor prefers to call it PSBB transisi (Large Scale of Social Distancing in transition) finally begins this June. The number of COVID-19 cases in Indonesia’s capital is far from of slowing down. Yet at the same time, financial recovery has to be done immediately.

Reopening activities with strict health protocols to lessen the virus spread seems to be the best option to balance health and economic concern. After places of worship, outdoor activities, stores and restaurants in shophouses re-operate from the first week of June, shopping malls finally get their turn starting from June 15.

The first shopping mall I visited after PSBB is Pondok Indah Mall in South Jakarta. Its reopening signifies that life will never be the same as that before the pandemic, at least until the vaccine is available for public.

The are 7 things I notice about new normal at the mall in Jakarta:

METAL DETECTOR VS THERMOGUN

Those days, checking visitors and their cars with a metal detector is a common practice for safety against terrorist attacks. Nowadays, thermogun is a new tool for decision making as anyone with a body temperature over 37.3 degrees celcius is not allowed to enter the mall.

If you are behind the wheels, security officials with even “shoot” you twice: before taking a parking ticket and entering the building. The practice occurs in Pondok Indah Mall, but it probably doesn’t happen in other shopping malls.

Metal detectors are still in their hands, but their role tends to be just a formality, not as strong as thermoguns. Mostly I get shot (with a thermogun) and scanned (with a metal detector), but sometimes I skip the scan part (simply because the security skips it, not that I get rid of it) and only get shot.

HAND SANITIZER AND WASH BASIN

wash basin with a foot pedal

Yep, hand sanitizer and wash basin are partners in crime with thermogun. Shopping malls are more hygienic in the midst of pandemic than hospitals prior to pandemic. Speaking of which, the basin has a new version that no one would ever think of unless COVID-19 strikes, where the main switch is on the foot pedal.

TOUCHLESS ELEVATOR

This probably reminds you of a sci-fi movie. Simply wave your hands in front of the light sensor to open the door. How cool is that? Nonetheless, the interior remains the same since you still need to press, aka touch, the button to the destined floor. I’m expecting to see foot pedals inside the elevator, but they’re not available at Pondok Indah Mall. This probably a silly obsession, but I hope I can find them somewhere in Jakarta.

SLOWING DOWN TRAFFIC

In fact, we are facing 2 types of terrorist: human and virus. Although (human) terrorists haven’t been a distant memory yet, it is proven that we fear virus much more than terrorists. After terrorist attacks, public places are usually more quiet for a day or 2, then it will be back to normal. Nonetheless, COVID-19 threads last much longer (only God knows when they will end) and people think twice before blending with the crowds.

NOBODY’S SMILING AT YOU

make a guess… am I smiling at you or not?

There’s a saying that eyes are the window of the soul. And from now on, you need to count on this even more, especially when everyone in the city must use a face mask in public places. You won’t see whether someone is smiling or grumpy by looking at his or her lips, but the eyes won’t lie.

KEEP THE DISTANCE AND 50% OCCUPANCY

escalator marked with foot and cross sign

It is compulsory to put cross signs on chairs, tables, escalators and arrow signs on the floor in all retail stores to remind visitors to keep the distance. The occupancy of each store is only 50% from its actual capacity to avoid more spread of the virus. In some way, this new normal habit is a blessing in disguise for introvert and anti-social people.

In line with avoiding more crowds, operational hours at the stores have changed a bit, as they are closed 1 to 2 hours earlier than normal. Some stores operate from 11 am to 8 pm, some from 10 am to 9 pm.

tables with cross signs

EMPLOYEES WEARING FACE SHIELD AND MASK

new normal uniform

Once you pass the (mall) entrance door, enter any shops and restaurants, the staffs will greet you with new uniform standard, face mask and face shield, as it is part of the new SOP from Pondok Indah Mall. I believe that other shopping malls have more or less the same regulation.

I guess the only thing we can do is to get used with new normal life until there’s a cure for covid-19. Stay save and healthy!

What changes do you notice after new normal life in your city, especially at shopping malls?

What You Need to Know before Staying at a UNESCO Heritage House in Shirakawa-go

Listed on UNESCO Heritage Site since 1995, the popularity of Shirakawa-go has been increasing ever since. The special characteristics of the heritage village in Gifu Prefecture is the thatched-roof farmhouse, gassho-zukuri. Its unique shape that looks like hands in prayer position whose length almost touches the ground has caught attention visitors worldwide.

Your visit to Shirakawa-go could be much more memorable if you have a chance to go local by staying in one of these houses. Indeed, some of them are not only transformed into restaurants, souvenir shops or museums, but also guest houses where you can stay overnight.

Interested? To make your holiday plan runs smoothly, here’s what you need to know before staying in a gassho-style guesthouse.

gassho-zukuri farmhouse

ONLY AVAILABLE ON CERTAIN SITES

I recommend you to order any gassho-style guest house on specialized websites focusing on traditional Japanese accommodations, such as https://www.japaneseguesthouses.com/ryokan-search-results/Shirakawa-go/ and https://shirakawa-go.gr.jp/en/stay/?index.

In fact, larger-scale accommodation sites you’re familiar with, booking.com and agoda.com for instance, hardly have gassho-zukuri guest houses on their list.

ROOM RATES: NOT A SHOESTRING, YET RELATIVELY AFFORDABLE

futon bed

The average rate per night for staying at gassho-style guesthouses is between 9000 Yen and 13,000 Yen ($84 to $122), including breakfast and dinner. There’s an option for dinner or breakfast only as well, or none.

Historical houses requires old-fashioned maintenance, that usually takes a lot of money and time. Therefore, the rate won’t beat budget hotels in a million years. Bear in mind that some guest houses only receive cash payment, so please double check this to the agent.

Like all traditional Japanese inns, or ryokan, all gassho-zukuri rooms have neither private toilet nor private bathrooms. So yeah, you have to share those facilities with others. You will sleep on futon bed on tatami floor, Japanese carpet made of straw or styrofoam.

OLD-FASHIONED DINING EXPERIENCE

shirakawago
irori

Since all restaurants in Shirakawa-go don’t open until late at night, it is recommended to take the dinner package at the guest house. The streets are dark after 7 pm and night life equals to staying at home.

At the same time, it’a a great opportunity to reach the experience of going local to the fullest by enjoying home cooking. You will seat on the floor, with a pillow that takes place of a chair, with a table surrounding irori, an ancient Japanese sunken hearth to heat to heat the room and cooking.

Suppose you have certain allergies, vegetarian or pescatarian, you should inform the owner or the agent prior to your arrival, so they can adjust your preference.

UNUSUAL Check-in AND Check-out TIME

Only starting from 3 pm can you actually check in at the guesthouse and surprisingly, the check out time is considered very early, at 9 am.

What you can do to maximize your stay at the guest house is that you come earlier to keep your luggage, then continue exploring Shirakawa-go as relax as you can. Between 5 pm to 6 pm when places of interests gradually close down, you return to the guest house to spend the rest of the evening and take a rest, as you need to leave early.

If you take the complete dining package, make sure you don’t check in too late, otherwise the host will wait for too long and finally won’t be able to cook your dinner.

FAMILY-OWNED

Generally speaking, gassho-zukuri guesthouses are family business and and inherited from their predecessors, as many of the houses are older than 200 years old. The host who serve you during your stay is the owner, not employees, from cleaning, mending the room until preparing your breakfast and dinner. They even stay under one roof with you.

Therefore, it would be better to show some gratitude for their services and manage your manner. For example, keep the silence during night time when they and other guests are sleeping.

NO BIG SUITCASES

Although it’s still possible to accommodate a large suitcase in the guest house, it could be exhausting to drag it on streets for a long time. Moreover, Japanese buses have narrow corridors that only fit up to medium-sized suitcases and no extra space for large ones. Thus, learn to travel light will be very handy for you.

NOT FOR LARGE GROUPS

crowds

Usually, a gassho farmhouse has 4 to 5 rooms, with maximum capacity of 12 people. If you travel with a group of friends or family, make sure that the rooms at the guest house where you’re staying are still vacant to keep everyone together under one roof. Moreover, you’re allowed to stay there just for one day, not more.

Due to limited room capacity, staying overnight at gassho-zukuri guest houses will never be the part of tour operators’ itinerary for Japan tour packages. In other words, you need to plan and book your own trip if you really want to experience a unique stay at the heritage farmhouse.

So, are you physically and mentally ready to adapt with the local culture?

gokayama

Gokayama and Two UNESCO Heritage Villages

LESS POPULAR THAN SHIRAKAWA-GO

Bombarded by tons of marketing from many tour operators worldwide, Shirakawa-go has been one of the most visited villages in Japan. Yet Gokayama, the village next door, doesn’t really have that kind of exposure.

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Suganuma Village in pouring rain

Moreover, the assumption that Gokayama is part of Shirakawa-go since both have a traditional house called gassho-zukuri and Shirakawa-go is easier to reach than Gokayama makes Gokayama is even less-known. Let me tell you what, they are just terribly wrong!

HOW TO GET TO GOKAYAMA

Gokayama, literally meaning 5 mountains, is situated in the southwest of Toyama Prefecture in Nanto city. The use of the name Gokayama has begun since 1513 to generalize a group of villages spreading in 5 different areas.

From 5 mountains that consist of 40 villages, Ainokura and Suganuma village are the most beautiful ones, that have been listed on UNESCO Heritage Site since 1995 together with Ogimachi village in Shirakawa-go.

To Gokayama, you can either start your journey from Takayama City, Toyama City or Kanazawa. In my experience, the closest way to get there is to take a bus from Takayama Station in Takayama City. Please note that the only public transportation to Gokayama is a bus. No bullet trains, no trams. You can rent a car, too, if you like.

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Ogimachi Station

At first, all buses will stop in Ogimachi Station, where Shirakawa-go is located, that takes an hour from Takayama Station. Then, you need to transfer to another bus going to both pretty villages in Gokayama. It takes 30 minutes to Suganuma and Ainokura for another 15 minutes.

The best way to explore Gokayama is to get a 3-day-pass for Shirakawa-go and Gokayama World Heritage Bus at Takayama Nohi Bus Terminal (next to JR Takayama Station). It will stop in all heritage sites, from Shirakawa-go (Ogimachi village) to all villages in Gokayama, including Suganuma and Ainokura village. The ticket price is about ¥3700 per person (please check the updates at the station or check the following sites: https://www.nouhibus.co.jp/english/ , http://www.kaetsunou.co.jp/ (Japanese only))

So, going to Gokayama is not as hard as you think.

Nonetheless, I came to Gokayama twice. First in spring 2016 to visit Suganuma Village, which was accidental (check further in my previous post to know why) and second in autumn 2017 to visit Ainokura Village. Bad planning was the key problem here, that should not happen to you as both villages in Gokayama is more than easy to visit all at once, as I explained before.

Another misconception I heard is that Gokayama is situated in the same area as Shirakawa-go. All right, let me get this straight. Gokayama is in Toyama Prefecture, whereas Shirakawa-go is in Gifu Prefecture.

GASSHO ZUKURI

One of the most distinctive characteristics of Suganuma and Ainokura Village lies on the farm houses with thatched-roof almost touching the ground called gassho-zukuri. Gassho means to join one hand’s in prayer, referring to the construction shape of the roof. These unique farmhouses have been existing since Edo Period (1603-1867) when Lord Maeda was in reign.

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gassho-zukuri house in Shirakawa-go, not as steep as that in Gokayama

The gassho-zukuri’s steep roof having 60 degrees angle, steeper than that in Shirakawa-go, is created that way to accelerate the snow to fall down from the roof quickly. Excessive snow creates burden and potentially collapse the roof. Apart from that, the roof is made of straw to maintain the warmth inside the house in winter time.

Surprisingly, they don’t use nails and metals to assemble all materials, that are only straw and wood from forests around the village, to build the farm house. The straw is replaced every 15 to 20 years manually by Gokayama Forest Owner’s Cooperative Association. This is indeed a time consuming kind of work. Yet, if it involves over 100 people, the process would take just a day.

SUGANUMA VILLAGE

The total amount of gassho-zukuri houses in Suganuma is not as many as that in Ainokura, which is only 9 left and nearly all are uninhabited.

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Gokayama Folklore Museum

One of the oldest farmhouses in Suganuma is already transformed into Gokayama Folklore Museum, where you can see the exhibits of indigenous people’s way of life in the past and how they produced potassium nitrate or ensho as the main ingredient of gunpowder, silk and handmade paper called washi.

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Suppose you spot the one and only gassho-zukuri having a pond surrounded by fences, it’s a sign that you have arrived safely in Suganuma.

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non gassho style cafe

Besides, there are 3 non gassho-zukuri houses and some earthen wall and wooden wall storehouses protected by the government. The cafe I visited to shelter myself from pouring rain is one of the examples of a non gassho style house.

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konbu tea

Traditional warm drink you should try is konbu tea, whose main ingredient is seaweed, served with rice crackers. The umami or savoury taste will somehow remind you of refreshing chicken soup, though not per se.

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souvenir shop

AINOKURA VILLAGE

Ms. Shimizu, a guest house owner in Shirakawa-go, where I stayed back in 2016, admitted that Ainokura is her favourite village because of its breathtaking scenery and serenity. Having seen in my own naked eyes, it awakened my sense of sight and simultaneously I felt peace in my heart.

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Ainokura is the largest village in Gokayama, yet not as busy as Suganuma. From 23 gassho zukuri farmhouses aged 100, 200 and the oldest 400 years, many of them are still in use.

As a visitor, you should respect the local’s privacy privacy by not trespassing their farm or backyard, picking plants or flowers and maintaining the silence. No worries, though. The good news is that you still can satisfy your curiosity about what’s inside by visiting some of the transformed heritage houses into cafes, restaurants and minshuku (family-owned traditional Japanese guest house)

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Please beware that smoking is prohibited in the neighbourhood, as well as in Suganuma (and Shirakawa-go), and a very dangerous thing to do as the farmhouse straw roof is combustible!

Just like in Suganuma, inhabitants in Ainokura produced ensho, washi and silk for a living, where you can learn more in Ainokura Folk Village. Learning to craft washi, traditional Japanese handmade, could be a fun activity to do in Washi Workshop. To participate in the workshop, you need to register first and make sure to attend before 3.30 pm as it is the last admission.

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souvenir shop at the entrance

SERENITY AND ORIGINALITY AT ITS BEST

Everything you see in Gokayama, from gassho style houses to surrounding crops, rice fields and shrine groves are still very-well preserved as it is until today because they are unaffected by World War II. Moreover, Gokayama is a perfect destination for those who embrace silence and dislike hustling and bustling crowds like Shirakawa-go.

THE PRICE FAVOURITE’S DESTINATION

In a nutshell, it deserves to be part of your itinerary to Japan once in a life time. To be honest, I didn’t regret to return to Gokayama after the screwed up plan I had made the year before.

Prince Akishino, who stayed in Ainokura twice in 1983 and 1992, once said that he has 3 favourite destinations in the world, and Gokayama is one of it.

If a Japanese prince left his heart in Gokayama, why shouldn’t you?

 

yummu app

Review Yummy App: Menjadikan Memasak Makin Mudah dan Menyenangkan

Apa itu Yummy App?

Yummy App adalah aplikasi khusus untuk mencari dan berbagi aneka resep yang disertai petunjuk dan tips praktis . Cara mengakses aplikasi ini mudah saja, kamu tinggal mengunduhnya melalui Google Play atau App Store.

Tampilan Atraktif

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Tanpa basa-basi, kamu langsung disuguhkan gambar-gambar menarik dari menu-menu yang ada pada home page, berikut notifikasi resep-resep terbaru dan sesuai dengan situasi terkini. Misalnya, aneka menu sahur dan ramadhan menjelang perayaan Idul Fitri.

Pencarian resep pada dasarnya terbagi dalam beberapa kategori, mulai dari makanan pembuka, makanan utama, makanan penutup, camilan, makanan pendamping hingga minuman. Tak ketinggalan, tips-tips dasar, misalnya cara mengasah pisau dan membuat adonan tortilla juga diajarkan melalui aplikasi ini.

5 Langkah Mudah

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Dengan berpedoman pada 5 langkah memasak, Yummy App ingin meyakinkan kamu bahwa memasak itu mudah dan semua orang dapat melakukannya. Setiap langkah memasak selalu disertai gambar sehingga mudah dipraktekkan. Bahkan, terdapat tambahan panduan video khusus resep pilihan editor Yummy App yang membuat prosesnya terlihat semakin jelas dan bikin ngiler.

Informasi penting lainnya juga tersedia, misalnya durasi memasak, budget, jumlah porsi, apakah mengandung alkohol atau babi.

Fitur-fitur Keren Pemberi Solusi

Menurut saya, salah satu fitur yang sangat menolong memecahkan masalah yang dialami banyak orang adalah fitur masak. Fitur ini dapat memberi ide apa yang bisa kamu masak dari bahan-bahan yang ada di kulkas.

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Berdasarkan daftar bahan-bahan makanan dari A sampai Z, kamu dapat memilih minimal 2, lalu ketuk “terapkan”. Setelah itu, Yummy App menampilkan aneka resep masakan yang dapat dibuat dengan bahan-bahan yang kamu input tadi.

Sebagai contoh, kamu pilih “agar-agar” dan “apel”, kemudian resep sop buah, puding pepaya dan lain-lain langsung muncul di ponsel pintar kamu. Maka, dijamin bahan makanan yang kamu punya tak akan menganggur sia-sia.

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Fitur lain yang tak kalah penting adalah fitur filter resep yang membantu kamu menentukan menu makanan yang bisa dibuat berdasarkan anggaran, durasi memasak dan jumlah porsi. Pastinya, fitur ini ideal untuk kamu yang lagi berhemat dan tetap bisa makan enak.

Caranya mudah saja, ketik nama masakan atau bahan makanan di kolom “pencari” di home page, lalu ketuk “filter resep”.

Interaktif dan Saling Berbagi

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Tak sebatas melihat dan menerapkan resep yang ada, kamu pun dapat berbagi resep di fitur komunitas dengan ketentuan-ketentuan yang tercantum dalam Panduan Menulis Resep. Kemudian, resep kamu akan dicek terlebih dahulu oleh editor dan di-publish bila sudah memenuhi syarat.

Pastinya, kamu dapat memberi rating dan berkomunikasi dengan anggota komunitas lain yang sudah membagikan resepnya melalui kolom “komentar” yang dapat dibalas dan di-like.

Tanpa perlu menjadi masterchef, kamu sudah bisa menjadi koki yang menginspirasi para anggota komunitas lainnya.

Penghasilan Tambahan

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Bila jeli dalam mengambil kesempatan, sebetulnya kamu berpotensi mendapatkan penghasilan tambahan dari Yummy App. Dengan rajin-rajin update informasi terkini dalam Event & Promosi, berbagi resep, dan mengundang teman untuk mengunduh Yummy App, kamu berkesempatan memenangkan hadiah berupa penambahan poin yang dapat ditukar uang atau hadiah kejutan lainnya.

Misalnya, setelah resep kamu berhasil di-publish, kamu berhak mendapatkan 100 Yummy Point yang bila dirupiahkan adalah Rp. 10.000. Semakin sering bepartisipasi, semakin banyak yang kamu dapat, kan?

Hanya Cocok untuk yang Hobi Masak?

Sebetulnya, persepsi bahwa memasak itu rumit dah repot adalah alasan-alasan utama mengapa beberapa orang tidak menjadikan memasak sebagai hobi. Tetapi, makan adalah kebutuhan pokok dan semua orang pasti mau makan enak, terlepas dari hobi masak atau tidak.

Berkat gambar atau video yang menjelaskan 5 langkah memasak secara jelas dan sederhana, bisa saja mendorong sebagian dari mereka yang tadinya ogah masak menjadi niat mencoba, diawali dengan menu yang prosesnya pembuatannya kurang dari 30 menit saja.

Kesimpulannya, Yummy App cocok untuk semua orang, baik yang sudah bisa masak maupun yang baru mulai mencoba.

Saran: Pengembangan Kolom Komentar menjadi Sarana Edukasi

Alangkah baiknya bila tim Yummy App memberi nilai tambah dari kolom komentar menjadi lebih interaktif dan edukatif dengan meningkatkan kontrol konten komentar yang muncul setiap harinya.

Pasalnya, walaupun tidak ada yang larang, banyak dijumpai komentar yang kurang penting seperti, “Kelihatannya enak, mau coba ah…” dan sejenisnya.

Sebetulnya, komentar diberikan setelah resepnya dicoba sesuai instruksi sebagai masukkan, bahkan pujian tulus kalau rasanya enak. Komentar pun juga dapat berupa pertanyaan lanjutan bila diperlukan, supaya dapat berkembang menjadi portal diskusi tanya jawab yang bermanfaat untuk menambah ilmu.

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Hal ini dapat dimulai dari pihak Yummy App untuk lebih aktif menjawab pertanyaan dari para penggunanya, yang selama ini tidak saya lihat seperti contoh resep Keripik Tahu diatas. Padahal, tim editor sendiri yang mengunggah resep tersebut.

Bahkan, setelah situasi lebih kondusif, pertemuan antar anggota komunitas dan demo masak bareng akan menjadi acara yang sangat menarik dan ditunggu-tunggu.

Apakah Layak Diunduh?

Setelah menggunakan Yummy App, saya merekomendasikan aplikasi ini untuk diunduh, baik untuk yang hobi masak maupun yang jarang masak seperti saya. Selain nampak user friendly dengan gambar dan video yang menggoda selera, saya jadi terinspirasi untuk mencoba makanan baru yang tak terpikir sebelumnya.

Aplikasi ini membuka pikiran saya bahwa membuat masakan enak, sehat, dan murah dapat dikerjakan dengan mudah dan tidak ada kata terlambat untuk memulai. Selain itu, saya dapat belajar berpikir efisien untuk membuat masakan sesuai anggaran dengan ketersediaan bahan-bahan yang ada.

Melihat banyaknya anggota komunitas berbagi resep, saya merasa bahwa Yummy App diciptakan untuk semua orang tanpa memandang level pemula atau lanjutan, sehingga saya sebagai pengguna baru tak perlu berkecil hati untuk bergabung.

Mendapatkan penghasilan tambahan sih sebetulnya bukan prioritas saya dalam mengunduh aplikasi ini. Namun, tentunya sah-sah saja kalau memang tujuan kamu untuk mengumpulkan pundi-pundi uang sebanyak-banyaknya dan memenangkan berbagai tantangan yang diadakan Yummy App.

Tunggu apalagi, bergabunglah segera dan nikmati beragam manfaatnya!

 

 

 

 

 

 

ereveld menteng pulo

Ereveld Menteng Pulo, Historical Honorary Cemetery in a Concrete Jungle

It is quite a wonder that in Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital surrounded by shopping malls and tall buildings, still has a few hidden green areas left delivering a piece of Indonesian history during Dutch colonization era. Situated in South Jakarta, Ereveld Menteng Pulo, the honorary cemetery, is one of it. Those days, Menteng Pulo was a suburban area of Menteng, somewhat isolated from the crowds. Once you walk in and pass the gate, the common perception about cemeteries in Indonesia, which is often filthy and frightening, will soon fade away.

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entrance gate

Speaking of which, there’s an interesting story behind Menteng itself. Menteng is a luxurious residential area in South Jakarta where high rank government officials live, as well as the place where the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, spent his 4-year childhood in Indonesia. If there’s no traffic jam, from Menteng to Menteng Pulo takes about 10 minutes by car.

Now, let’s go back to our main topic.

HISTORY OF EREVELD MENTENG PULO

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Ereveld Menteng Pulo is the resting place for over 4000 war victims of World War II (1939-1945), especially who died from a Japanese concentration camp, and the revolution after that (1945-1949). The honorary cemetery was inaugurated on December 8, 1947, managed by Netherlands War Graves Foundation or OGS (Oorlogsgravenstichting).

Between 1960 and 1970, war victims from Ereveld outside Java Island, such as Manado, Tarakan, Makassar and Palembang, were relocated and reburied in Ereveld Menteng Pulo. Therefore, from 22 Ereveld cemeteries nationwide, now only 7 left. All of them are in Java Island, including 2 in Jakarta. Besides in Menteng Pulo, which is the biggest and the most beautiful of all, there’s also Ereveld in Ancol, North Jakarta.

Those who are buried here are Dutch and Indonesian soldiers under KNIL (Koninklijk Nederlands Indisch Leger) or Royal Netherlands East Indies Army. However, what makes Ereveld Menteng Pulo is particular is that only 25 percent of the victims are actually from military services and the rest are civilians, including children.

There are unwritten house rules applied at the honorary cemetery. While walking around it, you should start from the foot part of the grave in order not to step on the head part. Another important thing is that the names of the deceased should be blurred before publishing the pictures in any (social) media. Otherwise, take pictures from the rear side of the graves, so the names won’t appear.

MEANING OF GRAVE MARKERS

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mass grave

Take a closer look at the graves and you will immediately notice that there are 6 grave markers defining the victim’s religion. The round shape is Buddha, the 3 petal-shaped is Muslim, the David star is Jewish, the huge shield shape is a mass grave and the cross shape is Christian.

For Christians, there are 2 kinds of cross to distinguish the gender. The plain cross is male and the one with 3 petals on the edges is female. Suppose you see smaller and shorter cross graves, they belong to Christian children with no specified gender. It’s breaking my heart to see the war victims include babies aged 3 to 6 months old.

And more more thing. When the graves are written ontbekend, meaning unknown in Dutch, they stand for unidentified victims.

SIMULTAAN CHURCH

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Although Simultaan Church is a “church” having an altar, a big Dutch language bible and a cross, it actually holds memorial services and other ceremonial events for various religions, not specifically for Christian Sunday services.

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the altar

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wooden cross memorial

A huge cross monument made of wooden railroad in Burma on the right side of the altar was built to commemorate Dutch, Australians, American and British soldiers who died from forced labour by the Japanese during the construction of a railroad in Burma.

COLUMBARIUM

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columbarium

Apart from graves, Ereveld Menteng Pulo also houses 754 ashes of Dutch soldiers, who died in the Japanese concentration camp during World War II, in the columbarium situated outside Simultaan Church.

Thanks to Robbert CJM van de Rijdt, the director of Ereveld, who has a fond of plants and flowers, the largest honorary cemetery in the country has varieties of flower, including lotuses in the pond, that makes the environment within the complex more beautiful and serene.

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“In our thoughts, Wil and Rens”

Fresh flowers or garland placed on the grave or the columbarium prove that there are still families who visit their loved ones at the cemetery, not only tourists for a place of interest.

BRITISH CEMETERY COMPLEX

ereveld menteng pulo

Inside Ereveld Menteng Pulo, there’s also a special cemetery complex managed by the British Kingdom. To distinguish its territory, the land position is slightly higher and a small fence as a border.

One of the prominent British military figures buried here is Brigadier General Mallaby, who died during the shootout in Surabaya, triggering the Battle of Surabaya, because Indonesian troops ignored the British ultimatum to surrender unconditionally. Nowadays, the battle’s commemoration is held annually on November 10 nationwide.

https://travel.tribunnews.com/2019/09/11/melihat-ereveld-ancol-saksi-bisu-perang-dunia-ii-di-jakarta

Besides, there are also war victims from other Commonwealth countries, such as Australians, Canada, American, Pakistani and Indian.

EMBRACE PEACE AND APPROPRIATE MANNER 

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the canopy and unknown victims

As a silent witness of World War II and Dutch occupation in Indonesia, Ereveld Menteng Pulo reminds us that war is not the solution in any cases and has killed a lot of innocent people, especially there are more civilians that soldiers buried here. To pay the last respect of the victims, embrace peace and love in any situation.

The visit to Ereveld Menteng Pulo is free of charge, opening from 7 am to 5 pm. Anyways, I heard that the sunset view is magnificent. Ask for a permission if you want to stay longer to enjoy or immortalize the moment since sunset occurs after 5.30 pm.

Despite its historical value, I receive complaints from the security that there are certain visitors having bad habits, from littering, making noises, until dating in inappropriate way as if the place were their own backyard. Gosh, I hope they know what they’re doing to this wonderful place!

7 Facts You Need to Know about Virtual Tour

Kepulauan Natuna, Mutiara di Ujung Laut yang Diperebutkan!
Natuna Islands (Kepulauan Natuna). Source: pegipegi.com

No doubt, Covid-19 pandemic hits tourism really hard. Nonetheless, some tour operators refuse to give up just like that and decide to launch virtual tours. Atourin, a tour operator offering destinations within Indonesia is one of them.

I wasn’t interested at first as I believe the sensation won’t be the same as I do the trip myself. Nonetheless, there were several members from my Whatsapp traveler group who wanted to join as they miss traveling so badly that it can’t wait until the pandemic is over.

The destination I joined was Natuna Regency in Riau in the province of Sumatera, which is famous for nature lovers offering spectacular views of sea, beaches and waterfall, presented by a local guide living there.

I’m not here to tell you stories about Natuna, but rather tell my experience in virtual tour for the first time and some facts you need to know before taking it.

MEETING POINT

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source: unspash.com/andrewneel

Remember, when the tour is on, you’re at home in front of the computer, laptop or smartphone. So, for sure the meeting point is not on the island. Instead, it was on an app, like Zoom, that you can download on Playstore. Otherwise, choose join through browser. I did the second.

GOOGLE MAP, PANORAMA VIEW

The guide showed the island on Google Map, from marking some stops we will (virtually) visited until the close up looks on each destination with 360-degree panorama view. Just like how tours should be presented, he explained the history, points of interest followed by related images.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WATCHING ON NAT GEO AND JOINING THE TOUR VIRTUALLY??

By joining a virtual tour, you can (virtually) see who’s talking on the small square on top right side of your screen. On a TV program, you may see the narrator or not. Except if the program is presented by a particular host owning his or her own show.

The best part is that you can ask questions on the chat box on the right side (depending on your setting and app you use), that will be answered on Q&A session after the tour.

On that day, a tour member asked very good questions about the internet connection on the island and which provider works the best. Sometimes, a guide may forget telling you this.

VIRTUAL TOUR FINISHES WITHIN A COUPLE OF HOURS

When a real tour can take days, a virtual tour can finish within a couple of hours. Of course, you don’t have to walk, take a bus or plane, take pictures on nice spots, sleep to continue the journey next day etc.

IT COSTS YOU MUCH LESS

The cost of the tour with Atourin is in a shoestring, 2 persons for Rp. 50.000 and 5 people for Rp. 100.000. As you can see, the more the better deal. Finally, a group member could finally persuade 5 people to join, so I only paid Rp 20.000. No harm at all. The money you need to spend in real life is more than Rp. 5.000.000.

I don’t know how much a virtual tour in your country, but it must be cheaper than a real one.

May be some of you ask why not for free. Here I remind you. Virtual tour is made to survive financially during the outbreak and feed freelance tour guides while not having flow of income. Moreover, it takes an effort and time to set up a virtual tour, create a script, etc.

In the eye of tour operators and travel agencies, it’s a very good way for brand awareness and promote their programs in the future.

DONATION FOR TOURISM

By paying some (little, I think) amount of money to participate in any virtual tour, you are helping tourism industry and their teams to survive during the outbreak.

BUCKET LIST OR NOT

It doesn’t take a genius to know that the joy of virtual tour won’t be the same as the real tour on a chosen destination. You can’t bathe under the sun, swim in the ocean and feel the breeze.

But it gives you ideas where (not) to go next. Images and words on brochures or the story from mouth to mouth can be so tempting that sometimes you ignore about reality you could face when you’re on location. May be, you love the picture of the sea view but you don’t like swimming in the ocean and there’s nothing much to do other than that. Therefore, you can decide whether you take it as your next holiday trip or skip it for other destinations that suit you better.

In the end, you have your own taste and are not obligated to like what other people like.

MY VERDICT: VIRTUAL TOUR, YAY OR NAY?

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group photo of Natuna virtual tour. Should be 41 people, but many left after the session is over, not realizing that would be group photo as a closure

As a traveler, I won’t be obsessed with virtual tours, yet I may take it for the second time and on to kill the time. But not within a few days or next week. It gives me broader knowledge from a legitimate source, which is a licensed tour guide, and it’s a great way to gather and get new acquaintances while being at home, though I still can wait until we’re all free from this virus.

However, I’m not saying that virtual tours don’t sell well. On virtual tour to Natuna, there were 41 participants. So, basically people are pretty excited about it. An added value of joining the tour? No other than you’re doing a good deed.

Have you been joining virtual tours and what do you think about it? Will you be a regular customer in the future or just wait until Covid-19 is vanished from mother earth?

porto europa

Porto Europa: In Renovation, Not Lockdown

The covid-19 outbreak, although won’t last forever, change the way we live. Travel bloggers and avid travellers are no exception. They, like everyone else, are not allowed to leave their hometown and globe-trotting as they should be, not even their own house except going to pharmacy and supermarket.

So what I can do, as a travel blogger, is to improve my discipline in writing more articles regularly on my travel journeys. During the process, I found something interesting on my Japan trip file. It’s about Porto Europa I visited back in 2017.

Just to be sure, this is not about Porto in Portugal and not Europa in Europe.

Porto Europa is a theme park inspired by streets and houses in Italy, Spain and France located in Wakayama City Marina, Japan. Wakayama City Marina itself is a man-made island of 49 hectares that takes about 30 minutes by bus from the city center, Wakayama City.

I was hoping to ride the merry go round and roller coaster after visiting Kuroshio Ichiba Market, a seafood market next door. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen because the park was under renovation. But it didn’t close either. Instead, everyone could go in and wander for free, nothing else. Usually, the admission fee is 3800 Yen (#35) per person.

Oh well, why not? And I didn’t regret it at all. Honestly, it was a wonderful place to be, as the European “feel” was pretty intense, in one condition: when it locks down.

I took pictures as many as I could without disturbance from the crowds and so happy that I did it!

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entrance gate

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porto europa

porto europa

porto europa

porto europa

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porto europa
does it look like Venice to you?

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porto europa

porto europa

porto europa

porto europa

So, does it feel like Europe? Or a lockdown?

pasar ular

6 Attractions in Tanjung Priok, North Jakarta

Tanjung Priok, Off-The-Beaten Path Tourist Destination?

Tanjung Priok is the district in North Jakarta, which is identical with Port of Tanjung Priok, the busiest seaport in Indonesia. Perhaps, thinking about Tanjung Priok as a tourist destination doesn’t always cross people’s mind.

But let me tell you what, suppose you are searching for somewhere off-the-beaten path places in Jakarta, Tanjung Priok and its surroundings could be a great choice. Not because it’s a quiet and less known, but the locals mostly have a very slight idea about things to do when foreigners land their feet in this district.

Here are things you can do in Tanjung Priok:

Visit Instagrammable Railway Station

stasiun tanjung priok
Tanjung Priok Station

The closest railway station is Tanjung Priok Station, one of the oldest stations in Jakarta. Initially built in 1885 next to the harbour, the station was moved 1 km away to its present location and opened on April 6, 1925. After being neglected for 10 years, the art deco style building re-operates in 2009. It has been one of the most favorite photography hunting and shooting scenes for video clips, movies, pre-wedding shots and more.

stasiun tanjung priok
Tanjung Priok Station

The best part is the station still maintains its original look, including the steel construction of the 6 gates like those in Europe. There are certain rooms not functioned properly and remains empty, but we hope that someday the government will have a funding to maximize its potential.

Shop in Pasar Ular

Pasar Ular, literally means snake market, doesn’t actually sell snakes. Some say it’s called that way because the market has a long and winding alley like a snake. Yet some others say that since it sells smuggled goods (in the past), thus merchants have to be as tricky as a snake. No matter which opinion you believe, for sure it’s not a pet shop at all.

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Pasar Ular Plumpang

There are 2 Pasar Ular markets in the area. Pasar Ular Plumpang sells both original (yes, you definitely need good eyes to notice them) and knock-off fashion goods.

pasar ular
Pasar Ular Permai

On the other hand, Pasar Ular Permai offers ceramic goods, from tea sets, chandelier to giant vases imported from Europe and China, that cost you from Rp. 100.000 to Rp. 250.000.000 ($6.5 to $16,000). Surprisingly, you can find souvenirs from European countries, such as fridge magnet with the picture of Berlin landmarks, Dutch Delft Blue plates, can opener carved with pictures of Barcelona landmarks, and many more that cost much cheaper than those in Europe. Yes, you can get an €6 (Rp. 80.000) Euro fridge magnet for only €1.5 (Rp. 25.000) in Pasar Ular Permai. Believe it or not!

Dine in Kampung Warteg

Kampung Warteg is a 24-hour food stall village on Ende Street, housing over 20 stalls selling various traditional Indonesian food and beverages in a shoestring and I can guarantee its cleanliness. So, there’s nothing to worry about.

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beef rib soup with rice

For instance, I went to Warung Nabila and got a beef rib soup with rice sold for only Rp. 23.000 ($1.5) per portion and chicken soup for only Rp 15.000 ($0.90). Usually, these stalls give you quite a lot of portion of rice since they are used to serve harbour and cargo ship workers.

Church and Mosque Sharing the Same Wall

What’s so unique between Masehi Injil Sangihe Talaud Mahanaim Church and Al-Muqarrabien Mosque? The 2 buildings are not only side by side, but also share the same wall as well. Yes, so this is not about 2 different walls attached to separate them. Both places of worship were built by sailors to serve those who need to pray. The church was built in 1957 by Christian sailors, then the mosque was built a year later by Moslem sailors.

tanjung priok
tanjung priok

The story of religious tolerance maintained for over 60 years in both places is well-known locally and internationally, starting from sharing parking lots to one of them while celebrating huge religious events until Al-Muqarrabien Mosque protected Masehi Injil Sangihe Talaud Mahanaim Church when rioters almost burn the church in 1984.

Visit Maritime Museum

Maritime Museum is located inside the Port of Tanjung Priok complex, introducing the history of maritime in Indonesia, from the kingdom of Majapahit until the era of the Dutch colony.

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maritime museum
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rooftop view of Port of Tanjung Priok

It’s the first modern and international standard museum in Jakarta, performed with high quality diorama, improved lay out (which is for sure, instagrammable), facilities from library, cinema, souvenir shop, rooftop view of the biggest harbour in the country and simulator of the ship’s behind the wheels area.

Visit Mbak Priok’s Tomb

Mbah Priok’s Tomb is one of the most visited place of Moslem pilgrimage in Indonesia. Mbah Priok himself was an Islamic missionary from Palembang, South Sumatra, who died on his way to Tanjung Priok, and buried on the seashore with the pot he always carried in his journey.

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Mbah Priok’s Tomb

During the Dutch conquest, his tomb was moved to Koja, a subdistrict in North Jakarta. In 2010, the eviction of his tomb triggered a riot between thousands of municipal police and 80 tomb caretakers who against the plan. Suddenly, the municipal police lost the battle because they saw a mysterious spirit when the tomb demolition was about to began. Finally, they were scared and the eviction was cancelled. The incident confirms people’s belief that the tomb is sacred.

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spring water

The visit to the tomb, which is now a cultural heritage inaugurated by the former governor of Jakarta Basuki Tjahaya Purnama, is free of charge. There is a drinkable spring water, which is believed to bring luck and blessing, that never stops flowing.

Oh well, do I manage to convince you that Tanjung Priok is pretty interesting and more than just a port?