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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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?


Budget and Tips to Explore Jeju Island by Public Bus

Three years ago, we completed our journey to the east side of Jeju by public bus, using the East Course tour package by Yeha Tour as a reference. There are 6 places of interest, when lunch is excluded from the list, as mentioned in the brochure below (check the image below, on the right side), that I will rewrite for reading comfort:

  1. Trick Art Museum (Fall: Sangumburi Crater)
  2. Seongeup Folk Village
  3. Woman Diver Show
  4. Seongsan Sunrise Peak
  5. Via Jongdalri Shore Road
  6. Manjang Cave

jeju tou

However, having had a very limited time and wanted to have more free time for ourselves, we decided to travel on our own by public bus and visited selected objects only, Seongeup Folk Village and Seongsan Ilchulbong. The bus station was 3 minutes walking distance from You & I Guesthouse in Jeju City, lucky us.

Budget and Breakdown

It’s been a while since we did it, but I still remember the approximate total cost for the whole trip. It was about KRW 22,000 (S 19.32) with the following breakdown:

  • Bus fare, ranging from KRW 2,000 ($ 1.75) to KRW 3,500 ($3.07) for 1 way trip: KRW 10,000 ($ 1.75), including one wrong stop because we were lost.
  • Seongeup Folk Village entrance: free
  • Seongsan Ilchulbong entrance: KRW 2000 ($ 1.75), including Woman Diver Show (but we didn’t go there) that actually situated in the same neighborhood as Seongsan Ilchulbong. Additionally, Jongdalri Shore Road is situated on the way to Seongsan Ilchulbong, so there’s no entrance fee for that. If you take the right bus, I think you’ll find one. Although we didn’t notice that, actually.
  • Lunch: KRW 10,000 ($ 1.75) (it may vary depending on the restaurant)

Suppose we visit all other East Course places of interest based on the brochure, such as:

Most probably, the guests need to choose either Trick Art Museum or Sangumburi Crater.

It would be about KRW 45,000 ($ 29.57) altogether, including lunch, bus fares and may be some unexpected expenses, e.g. snacks, souvenirs and additional bus fares when you lost.

Price wise, it is a lot cheaper to travel on your own. Nonetheless, the tour includes English speaking guide that actually helpful  (I believe) to get better understanding of each attraction and it can save a lot of time because for sure they know exactly the fastest way to visit all of them in one day. Travelers having a limited days of visit and not wanting to hassle with road direction and language barrier, joining the tour will be the best option.

In this case, I’m not able to share my experience with the tour since I didn’t join it at all.

Travel Tips

Suppose you are a budget conscious traveler or just want to be (slightly) more adventurous by mingling with locals, public bus is the right choice in terms of safety and cleanliness. Moreover, if you stay in Jeju City, which is basically closer to the airport than most touristic places situated in the west, east or south of Jeju Island, transportation matters the most as it can take an hour or more to reach those attractions.

However, there are things to consider what to expect before and when using the public service:

  • It could take longer to reach each destination. Why? Because the bus may pass and stop in residential areas or non-touristic sites prior to main destinations. Moreover, you’re in the new environment when anything is possible, such as choosing the wrong bus, stopping at the wrong station or missing the museum building because you walk a bit too far. So, my advise is that leave the hotel earlier in order not to run out of time. If your have more time, stay longer in the island so you can travel in your own pace. Let’s say, if you can’t make it to Trick Art Museum today, you’ll be able to do the visit next day.
  • Select the attractions wisely. Get as much information as possible before selecting the attractions, especially if you have a limited duration of stay. In my case, I’d rather visit a place I will love that can be reached easily by bus without too many transfers and something traditional in the island that I cannot find elsewhere. Who says you have to visit all places mentioned in those brochures?
  • Not all attractions have English inscription boards and guided tour. Seongeup Folk Village is one of the examples. If you are really into details about all places, joining the tour with English speaking guide is the best choice you can have.
  • (Nearly) all touristic place are not visible from the road. It’s pretty hard to guess whether that’s the bus stop for the museum or the waterfall. Usually, you should walk a bit further to find the real building or entrance. Therefore….
  • Listen to the announcement carefully. The bus is narrated in both Korean and English, delivering concise information about the next station or stop and the closest tourist attraction from the station. It defines when you get off the bus. When in doubt….
  • Do not hesitate to ask. Either to the driver or other (local) passengers. Though language barrier could be an issue, and it is usually the issue, Korean people are willing to help. Somehow the driver has his own initiative to inform you that you need to get off in certain station if he knows where you want to go.
  • The time table could be a bit tricky if you don’t read Korean. Although the departure hours are written in familiar Arabic numeric form, certain notifications are only in hangeul letters, including words like weekend and weekdays. But it’s not really something to be afraid of. As long as you don’t hesitate to ask when in doubt.
  • There are more departure hours on weekdays than weekend. So please check the schedule carefully.

In a nutshell, it is eventually your call whether you decide to take a public bus or join the tour. There are advantages and disadvantages in each option. So, choose what’s best for you.

Sharing is Caring

That’s our experience of exploring Jeju Island of our own. Suppose you have something new to share about it (since we did this 3 years ago), please feel free to share in Comments below this post. Kindly correct me if I accidentally share wrong information.

Have a great travel!


Exploring East Jeju Island by Public Bus

When we arrived in  Jeju City, we just realized that all the main attractions shown beautifully on Google Images are not simply around the corner. Although Jeju City is the capital city of Jeju Island, the truth is that many of them are situated about an hour or more from the city.

Final Verdict: Public Bus

We prioritized on visiting something unique and typical from Korea’s Island of Gods, Seongeup Folk Village and one of The 7 Wonders of Nature, Seongsan Sunrise Peak (Seongsan Ilchulbong), where both are situated in the east side of Jeju Island. We actually would like to see all the East attractions as seen in Yeha Tour brochure below, but we woke up too late. Blame it on soju hangover the day before.

Instead of taking the bus tour that costs KRW 79,000 ($ 68.97) per person (as in 2013 rate), we decided to do it by public bus for the sake of adventure and budget saving. The closest intercity bus stop was merely 3 minutes walking distance from You & I Guesthouse.

jeju tou
Yeha Bus Tour Package

Mingle, Be Patient and Be Observant

It was a blazing afternoon and burning sunshine when we mingled with crowds who don’t or hardly speak English at the station. Except a young Caucasian man in late 20’s with earphones attached in both of his ears, whose body language showed some kind of certainty of what he had to do, depicting familiarity of his surrounding in the place he’s not originally come from.

I noticed a completely different atmosphere compared to Seoul. Not only they are more fashion laid back and do not rush that much, but also the significant amount of elderly women (aka widows?) on street. Even more than retired couples. K-Pop and K-Dramas apparently do not give the whole picture of certain parts of Korea. Gen Y and Gen Z people in the island have less exposure of plastic surgery that make them look real, instead of homogenized beauty referring to current trend.

2013-09-26 14.08
You & I Guesthouse Map & Intercity Bus Stop

When the bus arrived, I hurriedly pointed the location map of Seongeup Folk Village to the driver to make sure we were in the right bus. He nodded. Phew! Then, we inserted KRW 2000 ($ 1.74) each in the fare box in front of us.

It required a bit more patience, though, to wait for everyone to be on board. Especially elderly women who took more time to climb up the bus from the pavement. Sometimes, the driver gave some hands to them voluntarily. Later on, I realized that it happened several times in a day.

I was impressed by the cleanliness and appropriateness inside the bus. The corduroy fabrics covering the seats looked like brand new. The handle bars, the ceiling, the windows, the floor were definitely in perfect condition. From this point of view, I didn’t see much difference from the tourist bus.

Within 20 minutes, the Caucasian man left the bus. And there we were, the only non-Korean speakers left inside. We really counted on the woman whom we could only hear the voice, presenting bilingual information with the same opening line. Firstly in Korean, secondly in English, saying “Next station is…..”, followed by mentioning the nearest places of interest.

The appearance of buildings were replaced by green fields and rows of trees in clear sky as the bus went further, leaving the city. The countryside view was look alike along the way after an hour journey. Most tourist attractions were not immediately visible after the bus stopped at the station where they are located, except a huge signboard situated a few hundred meters prior to the arrival.

Therefore, hearing sense was the most important of all to ensure we got off at the right station. When in doubt, ask the driver.


Better Visited when Guided

the villager. photo by Miss I

We finally succeeded arriving in Seongeup Folk Village by walking further for 200 meters from the bus stop. The entrance was free, but it is best visited when guided because we kept making lucky guesses to understand what’s really going on in that village.

There were local officials explaining and demonstrating the ancient way of preparing food and storing agriculture products and so on, but too bad it was all conducted in Korean. They hardly understood any English either. However, we were happy enough to see the distinctive look of the traditional houses.

demonstration. unfortunately conducted in Korean only. Photo by Miss I

2013-09-25 12.jpg


Our journey to Seongsan Ilchulbong was not as smooth as before. There were several bus stops nearby the folk village that confused us. Furthermore, communicating with the locals were not that easy because of the language barrier. We ended up taking the wrong bus and the driver advised us to get off somewhere in the small town we don’t know what it’s called to change another bus heading to our desired destination.

2013-09-25 13.14
Yes we were lost HERE

There were a very few inhabitants on street, including a mom taking her daughter to a grocery store and a group of elderly women hanging out with fellas. It was a relief to witness a sign of life in a very quiet neighborhood while waiting for the next bus a little longer.

Up, Up, Up to the Cone

After a 10 minute-walk from the station, passing through seafood, barbecue restaurants, local and international cafe and restaurant chains, such as LotteriaAngel in Us and  Starbucks, eventually a big tuff cone known for its legendary crater stood gracefully before us. That was Seongsan Ilchulbong.

The temperature changed dramatically, about 10 degrees Celsius colder than that in Jeju City, and the wind blew strong. My bad, I just wore a t-shirt dress without any jacket. A very wrong kind of outfit of the day.

On the way to the giant tuff cone. Photo by Miss I

A final round to accomplish before heading back to the guesthouse: climbing up the stairs for 180 meters high and immortalize the moment when we reached the top: the crater with 600 meters diameter and 90 meters high.

2013-09-25 17.57.jpg

2013-09-25 16.59

Unlike Seongeup Folk Village, Seongsan Ilchulbong is much more prepared to welcome foreign tourists with explanations in English and Korean engraved on marble stone in each stop on the way up. It came to my surprise that crater looks more like a soccer field with grasses covering the surface.

The Peak, immortalizing victory at the top. Photo by Miss I

Time flew, and it was about half an hour before closing time. Before reaching the exit, accidentally we spotted the location of Woman Diver Show, another place of interest mentioned in Yeha brochure. But we didn’t go there because show had ended.

Woman Diver Show from top. Photo by Miss I

We followed the crowds walking to the same direction, the bus station. The return trip to Jeju City was so much easier without the need for transfers. It gave us more time to rest since the journey took about 2.5 hours.


2013-09-25 19.20.jpg
Teddy Bear greeted us when we entered the bus

With a little help from Mr. Nice Guy, who informed us about the public bus, a conventional map and some guts, we were proud of ourselves that we made it without guided tour, Google Map and arrived in Jeju City safely in the evening.

In a nutshell, the infrastructure in Jeju Island is user friendly for tourists. The availability of public buses help a lot of people to travel on budget without neglecting comfort and safety. I really recommend visitors to try this, to leave the comfort zone, enjoy the unexpected journey, exploring the Island of Gods on your own!

Spoiler: I will give some tips and estimated budget of our Jeju trip in my next post. Stay tuned!

10 Practical Beauty Products for Travelling I Can’t Live Without

Welcome 2015 (Okay, that sound kinda too late to say ;p)! This is my writing debut about beauty. I didn’t mean to be inconsistent with travel as my main subject. However, I notice that I take the longest time to pack beauty products into my luggage. Why?

I like to travel light and be practical during the trip, but I never leave beauty products (referring to face, body and hair care) behind. I do not wish to have chapped lips, rough, premature skin aging and bad hair day during and after my wonderful journey around the world. Too bad, toiletries from the hotel are not sufficient for my needs and beauty products often cause (luggage) overweight, especially many of them are made of liquid. Liquids are always heavy!

Therefore, I put them in small containers as needed, depending on the product and the length of my trip, and bring multi-purpose products to alter the regular ones if possible. Please note that I seldom buy travel-sized skin care and do not always depend on one brand – but it works on me anyways.

So here are my favourite beauty products for travelling:

1. Dr. Bronner’s Organic Hand and Body Shikakai Soap

picture credit: http://www.vitacost.com

This product is not just an ordinary hand and body soap. It also works as a face cleanser, body soap, shampoo, and made of certified organic ingredients, which generally means it is very save for your skin. The lemon grass lime scent I have is refreshing and energizing without smelling like an artificial perfume. What could be more practical than this?

2. Lush R&B Hair Moisturizer 

picture credit: www.polyvore.com
picture credit: http://www.polyvore.com

I’m not so much into 2 in 1 shampoo as its conditioner usually doesn’t moisturize my hair that well. Therefore, I find this leave-in conditioner saves my time from “rinsing after applying” routine and I no longer need hair serum for less frizzy effect. Apply a finger tip-sized of the creme and massage onto hair. Do not apply too much as it leaves sticky and heavy texture later on. Besides, any hair conditioner can be used as an alternative shaving cream. However, I’d rather use one provided from the hotel for that (if any).

3. Inti Bali Rose Water 

picture credit: english.intibali.biz
picture credit: english.intibali.biz

Made of Bulgarian rose extract, it is hydrating, non-alcohol and can be used on top of make-up to make it last longer. I also use it as a toner. Compared with other brands, sometimes in skyrocketed price, Inti Bali is much more affordable. Since it has no preservatives, I suggest to bring it only as needed, instead of the whole bottle, and keep the rest in your fridge at home.

4. MooGoo Anti-Ageing Face Cream 

picture credit: www.moogoo.com.au
picture credit: http://www.moogoo.com.au

I truly fall in love with this product! The non-chemical formula powered by resveratrol, an antioxidant compound found in red grapes, makes my skin smoother and more subtle after a couple of months of use. The SPF 15 version of this product is also available.

5. Olive Oil

picture credit: www.italiantribune.com
picture credit: http://www.italiantribune.com

After a long day exploring places of attractions, a few drops of olive oil can remove dirt, make-up and sunblock. Leave it for 10 minutes to maintain the moisture of your skin (but you can skip this part by rinsing it with cleanser afterwards). I carry the oil with a food-grade bottle, so I can use it as a salad dressing too (I like buying salad from supermarkets as part of my breakfast routine).

I once used the all-in-one no-rinse formula, but I miss the sensation of water splash on my face despite its goodness. Thus, I’ll still go for olive oil.

6. Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover

maybelline clean express
picture credit: http://www.ebay.com

Although olive oil can remove makeup, I still bring waterproof eye make-up remover in a smaller container just in case I still need it to remove my mascara. I’m not really specific about the chosen brand, but Maybelline Clean Express! Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover is the one I’m using at the moment.

7.  MooGoo Rose Hip Oil Serum 

picture credit: www.productreview.com.au
picture credit: http://www.productreview.com.au

As part of my anti-ageing routine (too bad I need it), I use serum every night before moisturizer to help reducing the appearance of fine lines on face and eyes. Again, I choose this product for its certified organic ingredients.

8. L’Occitane Organic Shea Butter

picture credit: beauty.allwomenstalk.com
picture credit: beauty.allwomenstalk.com

I first tried L’Occitane Shea Butter in winter time when the tip of my nose and lips chapped. My lips and nose got smoother in minutes, it doesn’t dry up in dry air and save for all parts of body that need more moisture. I depend on it ever since regardless the weather. Although I’m basically experimental with other brands, I eventually return to this. Its non-oily texture also enhances and prolongs the colour of your lipstick.

Just a friendly advice, add a small amount of the butter to your body or face lotion for more moisturizing effect. Familiar with any cream containing 10% or 20% shea butter in it? Indeed, you can make it yourself as well!

9. SPF Body Lotion 

picture credit: http://www.nichebabies.com

In order not to forget using sunblock, I use a body lotion with SPF. Vaseline Aloe Fresh SPF 15 and Nivea Intensive Serum SPF 25 are two major brands easily accessible in the market in less than $8. I’m not into any whitening lotion as I don’t feel the (improved) effect on my skin and I think it’s basically just chemicals you don’t need.  Alternatively, suppose you are an organic freak and don’t mind paying more for it, you can try MooGoo Cover Up Buttercup SPF 15, which is save for both face and body.

10. Face and Body Sunblock

picture credit: wcosmetics.com.au
picture credit: wcosmetics.com.au

It is recommended to re-apply your sunblock although you’ve done it first day in the morning. For the sake of practicality, I’ll go for any non-sticky sunblock for face and body, for instance Tony Moly Powder Finish Sun Milk SPF 47. However, if you are looking for a face sunblock which is save for eye area and can be used as a primer, I recommend Clinique City Block SPF 25. I like the skin-coloured cream (not white) that feels like an extremely light CC Cream.

Well, that’s a glimpse of the content of my suitcase I can share with you. I hope it inspires you to travel light without leaving your daily (beauty) routine. Have a great travel!