Travel tips: momondo

Being acknowledged by CNN as the best search engine with the greatest coverage and speed, momondo is truly the best “travel search and compare” tool. I firstly knew this site about two years ago, and it became my favorite since then.

The beauty of momondo is its vast coverage. It compares many famous travel search engines like eDreams and skyscanner. It gives you rich selection with various parameters like price, time and duration of travel, with a nice time series graphic showing the fares fluctuation. It offers good fares, even compared to the famous KAYAK.

Different from other similar search engines, momondo doesn’t directly sell tickets. Instead, it will direct you to the booking site like eDreams, Bravofly, airtickets24, skyscanner or refer you to the airlines.

As a one-stop travel site, momondo also has feature to search for hotels, car rentals, even some holiday inspiration. You can save time from comparing which one is better between Agoda or booking.com, for instance. Momondo will do the work in finding the best price, you then choose from the booking site.

Searching for flights and hotels never been this fun!

The preview of hotel booking selection

The preview of hotel booking selection

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Living for Today

I just recently came back from a a duty trip to Pulau Nyamuk, a tiny island inhabited by around 600 people in Karimunjawa archipelago, in the north of Java. This fishermen community have electricity only for 12 hours per day provided by 30kW diesel power plant and 25kWp solar power plant. With such limitation on energy source, the people live a humble and simple life, at least compared to the hectic Jakarta life. It’s the crew I went with also the people I met who really got me realized that all this time I was too busy thinking about “tomorrow”.

Hari is in his late twenty working as an electrical engineer while Andi is a technician who is a little older than Hari and me. Together we inspected the solar mini-grid installation in Pulau Nyamuk and trained the operators. They are really inspiring people. They have travelled a lot to remote islands of Indonesia, they live by the day, and they are happy. Yes, they are. It’s like nothing can make them upset.

The trip back from Pulau Nyamuk to Pulau Karimun was special. We were trapped in a storm on a small wooden boat of 12×1.6 m. It was seven of us with me the only female and the most inexperience one in the sea. The engine was dead at some point and the diesel leaked. Some guys shouted to the Captain, “Turn left! Turn left! You take the wrong direction!” I was quietly panicked and wished that the Captain could handle the situation.

“I don’t want to die now. I don’t want to die like this. Like… drowned in the sea where my body would never be found. Or is it better that way? Die quickly with a lung full of seawater? But no… not now, not like this. I have things I want to do. There are so many things I still need to do.”

Yes, that was my thought. Cliché :).

A couple of fishermen on board helped. Together they fixed the fuel pipe, pumped the leaked fuel out of the hull, turned on the backup engine, and tried to navigate the boat back to the right track. It was a very long one hour.

“I see the island!” Hari told me, “don’t worry.” I smiled a bit, I knew he was just trying to calm me down. I peeked, and yeah, vaguely I saw tiny grey bump in a far. That must be the island. Another two hours to go. But shortly, we survived. We were all wet from the storm and wave but relieved to finally reach the land. We smiled a conquer-kind-of-smile.

Back in the homestay, we relaxed at the terrace and rewound our experience, with laugh and thankfulness. I contemplated my past. How everything seems far away once we are in a potentially fatal experience. How every plan seems insignificant. And whatever you do, it’s a matter of how you do it that determines your happiness.

When in college, I was busy thinking of where I will work and how much I will make money. Now I’m still thinking the same (only with better financial situation). What an unwise way of spending time.

As a closure, although it’s slightly against my principle to always plan thing ahead, I’d like to tell you that sometimes you need to push the brake. Slow down and enjoy your ride.

 

No Reservation: Bromo – Jogja – Dieng

Just recently I did my very first real backpacking trip. I said “real” because although I have traveled a lot with my backpack, it was the first time I did one such trip with no reservation. It was started with an invitation from a good friend and since I’m still in the mood of ‘saying-yes-to-everything’, I said yes and we left the next day. The experience really is worthwhile to share in my blog.

So here we go: a little story of an unexpected journey plus some tips for you.

DAY 1: 24 December 2012

It’s the three of us: Tommy, Ben, and me. Sophie – a friend of Tommy would join somewhere in the middle of the journey. We planned to have a volcanic trip by visiting Dieng Plateau, Mount Merapi, and Mount Bromo. That’s as much as we plan. We went hunting for the bus ticket to Wonosobo, Central Java. Failed! Since it was holiday season, tickets are sold out. Around 4PM we were offered three seats on the last bus leaving from Tangerang. We only had around thirty minutes to catch it and yes, we lost the chance. Around 6PM we ended up in McDonald in Plaza Festival, Kuningan, planning to go via Bandung instead. We booked the seats and settled for a trip at 7PM by a Jakarta-Bandung shuttle car.

Out of curiosity, I casually called the train station asking for tickets to Surabaya. Surprisingly, there were four tickets left. The train would leave at 7.30PM. We discussed shortly and decided to go for it. So we had less than an hour to reach the station. And like those scenes in The Amazing Race show, we hailed a cab and threw ourselves and the backpacks in. We arrived just in time.

We took Sembrani train going to Surabaya at IDR 495,000. Yes, the plan had changed :). We basically change the order: Mount Bromo – Mount Merapi – Dieng Plateau.

Tips: you can have a quite good nasi goreng with fried egg and chicken for IDR 25,000. You can either eat on your seat or in the dining wagon.


DAY 2: 25 December 2012

Surabaya to Probolinggo

We arrived in Surabaya in the morning before 7. Since Ben didn’t have proper shoes, we waited for the closest mall to open and let him get a pair (he eventually got 2 pairs instead). We took an illegal taxi from the Pasar Turi Station to Embong Malang Street for IDR 40,000 – definitely ripped off as a normal taxi will cost around IDR 25,000. I feel bad because as an ex-Surabaya student I should know better. In my defense… well, it was like… ten years ago. Price has gone up. Hehe…

Submarine Museum (Monkasel = Monumen Kapal Selam)

Submarine Museum (Monkasel)

To kill time in the second largest city in Indonesia, we visited the submarine museum or known as Monkasel (Monumen Kapal Selam) which fortunately opens early at 8AM. It is a Russian submarine operational in the 50s and called: KRI Pasopati. It was really a nice experience to finally explore the inside of the submarine (I studied in Surabaya for four years yet didn’t even make the effort to go there back then). The ticket is IDR 5,000 including watching a documentary video in a simple theater.

We continued the journey to the House of Sampoerna by taxi at IDR 22,000 from Tunjungan Plaza (http://houseofsampoerna.museum/e_home.htm). This is a museum of the biggest cigarette manufacturer in Indonesia as well as its first major production facility. There is no entrance fee and if you visit it during weekdays (and no holiday) you can see how the production going. We weren’t lucky since we went there on Christmas day :).

From there we took a taxi to the bus station Bungurasih at IDR 60,000.

We then took the bus to Probolinggo, one of the entrances to Mount Bromo. The bus cost IDR 13,000 (economy bus with AC) and the trip took around two hours. From Terminal Bayuangga, Probolinggo, we continued the trip to Cemoro Lawang, the last village closest to Mount Bromo (approx. 2,300m altitude). The only public transport available is a big car – they call it Elf – that costs IDR 25,000 per person. You might share with up to fifteen people in the car. It takes around 1.5 hours to arrive in the village.

Bromo

We stayed in a homestay at IDR 250,000 per night. The house has six bedrooms, two living rooms, and two bathrooms with hot water. When I said hot water, it was literally HOT water! 🙂 This house we’re staying in has a balcony that gave us a picturesque view of hills – quite “Alpinec.” From there, we can walk less than 50 meters to see Bromo et al lying down very closely and beautifully.

DAY 3: 26 December 2012

Bromo

The view of Mount Bromo from Pananjakan

We took the Jeep tour sharing with three other people at IDR 117,000 per person (or IDR 700,000 per jeep). The quite high price is due to high season and that we took the complete tour of: Pananjakan (the view point for sunrise), the Sand Sea (Lautan Pasir), the savanna, and the crater of Mount Bromo itself.

Tips: from Cemoro Lawang village, you can also walk up from the village to the view point for about two hours. You can walk down to the Sea Sand for about 45 minutes.

If you are too tired to climb up Bromo to reach the crater, or if you just simply want to experience a horse ride, there are horses to rent. Early in the morning it might cost you IDR 100,000. But if you wait until a bit late around 8 or 9AM, you can have one way ride to the stairway only for IDR 20,000. Better wait, eh?

Tips: to avoid the crowd, better to improvise your route. Usually people will do Pananjakan – Bromo – Sea Sand – Savanna. We did the other way around: Pananjakan – Savanna – Sea Sand – Bromo. This way, the stairway up won’t be too packed with people. The downside is: it’s quite sunny.

We left Bromo around 3PM using the same mode of transportation. The Elf took us to Probolinggo, and then a bus brought us back to Surabaya. This time we took a direct bus (PATAS) that cost us IDR 23,000. We continued the journey to Jogja. We took Bus Eka just before 10PM for IDR 68,000 including one meal after midnight. We arrived in Jogja at 5AM the next day.


DAY 4: 27 December 2012

Jogja

We were so happy to find this comfy guest house with a 3m-deep swimming pool. It’s called Metro in Prawirotaman area. It cost IDR 350,000 per night with IDR 75,000 for extra bed – not cheap but it’s quite good deal since we arrive very early in the morning and they didn’t charge us extra. The cheapest room they have is at IDR 150,000 (with standard fan). Metro has a nice breakfast of nasi goreng or toast with fried egg.

Once we lay on bed, we realized how tired we were and we surprisingly slept for six hours straight. We then took a swim and had a walk in town. Visiting the south square (Alun-Alun Kidul) where we tried to break the myth of two Bayan Trees in the center of the square. We had a nice lesehan dinner in Malioboro and spent some time just chilling and talking about random stuff.

DAY 5: 28 December 2012

Park in Kaliurang

The random park we visited in Kaliurang

Early in the morning, Sophie joined the group and that made us even.

The plan for a bit of hiking or trekking to Mount Merapi was dropped due to the weather. We then decided to go to Kaliurang instead. We rented a bike at IDR 68,000 for 24 hours and luckily we had another bike borrowed from a friend in Jogja.

The ride to Kaliurang was very pleasant and refreshing. We randomly stopped at a park there with Goa Jepang (Japanese Caves) in it. Climbed for around 900m to reach the caves – we found only 11 out of 24 caves. It was raining and we were the only visitors reach the caves that day. Fun! But oh, the rain stopped us from exploring other spots in Kaliurang. Most of the time, we were just being lazy and do relaxing activities like walking and swimming. We then spent the second night shopping at Mirota Batik and of course Malioboro Street.

Tips: close to our guest house – in the main road – there are many bars and cafes you can chill out. Some have live music too!


DAY 6: 29 December 2012

Sunrise at Dieng

Viewing sunrise in Dieng Plateau

Day 6 was full of road trip. We took a taxi from Prawirotaman to Terminal Giwangan to get the bus to Magelang. We paid IDR 8,000 for two hours trip. From Magelang we continued with a minibus to Wonosobo. It cost IDR 13,000 at took us around 1.5 hours. The journey did not end yet. We still need to ride a microbus from Wonosobo to Dieng. It cost us another IDR 8,000 for an hour trip.

We stayed in Bu Jono Guest House for IDR 200,000 a night. We also rented a scooter for IDR 70,000. (again, high season price). The guy told us it usually is cheaper. Well well… traveling on year-end is not the best option in economy point of view :).

We had Mi Ongklok for our dinner. This is the famous Dieng noodle that cost only IDR 7,000 per portion. It’s usually served together with beef satay (which we didn’t take!).


DAY 7: 30 December 2012

Dieng map

The map of tourism spots you can visit in Dieng Plateau

We went up to Sembungan Village (the highest village in Java, 2,300 msl) to view the sunrise. It was simply beautiful! Close to the view-point, there is Cebong Lake surrounded by greenish hill. In Dieng Plateau we visited some craters and lakes. There are actually many spots you can go to and have some relaxing time (see the map). To every direction you look, you will see fabulously green scenery. Dieng is famous with its potato production. Grab a box of it for breakfast for only IDR 5,000 (can be combined with fried mushroom too) and showered with BBQ or cheese powder. Yummy!

You can also see the lake more closely by paying IDR 5,000. All entrance fees to the sites are cheap around IDR 5,000 to IDR 10,000 per person. Other than that we need to pay the parking lot for IDR 2,000 per parking.

Tips: if you want to view Telaga Warna and Telaga Pengilon (Warna and Pengilon Lake) in a different angle, you can go via Dieng Plateau Theater. From there you will find a trail that leads you to a big rock on the hill. If the weather is perfect, the lake will look amazing.

The amazing motorbike ride in Dieng ended that afternoon. We took the microbus to Wonosobo and take a direct night bus to Jakarta. We chose the executive bus (Pahala Kencana) that cost us IDR 130,000 per person leaving at 5PM. The bus provides us with small pillow, blanket, meal, and toilet with 2 – 2 seater. The normal bus (AC but with 3 – 2 seater) will cost only IDR 70,000.

We safely arrived in Lebak Bulus, Jakarta at 5AM on 31 December 2012.

Overall, I spent around IDR 1,500,000 for this entire 6 days 7 nights trip. It actually may vary depending on how and with how many people you travel. The more people should be the cheaper (and merrier!).

And now I come to the closing remarks of this post. I am glad I made the decision to say yes to this-seemingly-not-feasible-plan. It was audacious, since I like things to be well-organized. Other than the beautiful mountains and hills that entertained my eyes and lungs, I did learn lots of things from my travel companions.

Packing

I love packing. I don’t know how to put in words to explain how big my passion is in packing. I LOVE it. With capital L to E :D. And since I love it, I am getting better and better in it. Give me a suitcase and some piles of clothes and all; I will arrange it neatly and systematically. Or give me boxes. I like packing into boxes even more.

Cute toys 🙂

When I was in Holland, they have plenty cute equipments and tools to pack. And we can easily get them in stores like Action or Xenos.

Maybe it is because I am Asian, then I have the genes. Have you heard about that? About Asians are expert in light packing? No? Well, look at me! I don’t mean to be racist, but I think Africans are the worst. At least Africans I know, they can’t pack. They seem to not knowing the art of packing. It should be packed! :D. Um, perhaps I should stop stereotyping in this “sensitive” issue, hehe. Because maybe it does not have anything to do with the race, or gender, or age, or else. Maybe it is simply talent. Yes, I might say I am talented in packing.

The problem with loving packing is I am not really into unpacking. Yeah, it is like a betrayal. You’ve done an excellent job in putting your stuff into a suitcase or a box, and then at some point you have to open it and start taking all those stuff out. What a disrespectful act that is!

Several times I consider to packing for a living. Yeah, I really mean establishing kind of business related to packing, simply like… help people to pack. The best job in the world is when you do your hobby and get paid, right?

Packing Tips

I originally want to give you some tips to pack your stuff. But then… I think it is kind of useless to teach a talent :). So, I will give you one basic clue: the hardest part of packing is to start it. Once you start it, you will then face the next hardest part: finishing. Helpful, huh? 😀

Okay, okay, my apology. You may click that picture on the left. You will find some reliable tips to pack. Not mine, but it’s quite good (my excuse: I am just so lazy too write and I want to post this now).

Happy packing!

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PS. A friend of mine is struggling now. She has to pack (again!) and she hates it. And every time she is grunting about it, I just wish I was there to help which basically doing my hobby. I miss packing. Life is indeed unfair 🙂