Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Backpacking in Yogyakarta - Part 1

This is a continuation of my previous post (taken in Jakarta), and you can read it here:

But if you want to skip the Jakarta part, you are very much welcome to read my second backpacking experience in Jogja. Okay, without further adieu I will now give you a background of this trip.

We rode a train via Pasar Senen Railyway Station to Lempuyangan Yogyakarta. It's a 9-hour ride and you have time and space for movements, I mean don't just sit and pretend you are comfortable lol. It's a fairly good train, we have not encountered technical issues nor problems; the people who managed to talk with us were absolutely kind; still and all in general, they were minding their own business.

When we arrived in Yogyakarta, it was way past 6 pm as far as I could remember, and it rained pretty hard too. I found an auto becak and tried my best to communicate in English-Bahasa to get to our hotel. I made sure to say the street name, di Jalan (insert street name here) but the hotel's signage was apparently tiny, for that matter we probably have missed it a couple times. It took about 30 minutes to find that signage. The becak driver likewise was confused coz the hotel's name doesn't ring a bell.

We finally found the hotel and it was located where there were more than 10 hotel signs in one street, there were signage everywhere; confusing, and rain made it more chaotic. Looking back it was sort of hilarious.

We stayed our first night at Grand Marto Hotel, it must have been a new building because they had the most affordable deal in booking.com. I was really surprised because the hotel didn't look shabby nor cheap. It was looking rather authentic, clean and relaxing. The staff were accommodating; they spoke English clearly so we had no language barrier by all means. In the morning it felt like we were at home. We had free breakfast, unlimited coffee and tea which was really worth it. Furthermore, Grand Marto Hotel is a walking distance to restaurants, cafes, shops and slightly some kilometers away to the bed and breakfast I booked in airbnb. Convenient at it's best!

Also, here's a vlog I made during our 1st & 2nd day in Jogja:

DAY 4 (Day 1-4 1/2 was in Jakarta)

Our view from the becak. I mean seriously it was fun, a bit of a hassle though coz it rained heavily. It's a must-ride if you want to see Jogja's street life and graffiti art during the day and night.

After much delay we've arrived in Grand Marto hotel. It's clean, comfy and chic. Toilet & bath is spacious as well.

Subsequently loosened for some time in our room, then we went to eat out at the nearest restaurant. Good thing the rain had stopped. The first restaurant we went to was Aglioo Pizza & Pasta. Eventually I wanted to drink beer, eat and chill, so this is the place! As what I've said before, there were no language barriers, I feel that people in Jogja will give you a pleasant vibe than some in Jakarta, just my honest opinion, and they happen to be truly hospitable and friendly people :D

We were at the 2nd floor and the Interior is like out of a bali-inspired bar. Couches were so cozy, loved the couches! I literally crossed my legs whilst dining. 

Yep, you can tell I was spent but that didn't matter coz we were about to eat.

We had smoked salmon & spinach cheese swirls, Aglioo pizza and fresh garden salad plus one bintang beer and Sheff also ordered strawberry milkshake. 

The strawberry milkshake tastes like real strawberries but sweeter (without sugar yet) however you can pour sugar syrup likewise :)

Just walk a little bit more and you'll come across Tempo Gelato. So far, they have the best Italian ice cream among all of the gelatos I've tasted, possibly first in my gelato list and second is giardino (which is in my hometown).

They've got numerous flavors to choose from and a cone costs for about 25,000 idr (92 php) with 2 flavors already. That's gelato heaven for you!

I forgot what Sheff and I ordered but I remember the white one is coconut and honestly it tasted like real coconut! Help me I'm salivating right now D:

After devouring like forever at Tempo Gelato, we headed back to our hotel and slept. I was actually watching an Indonesian horror series then dozed off.


Rise and shine. (at Grand Marto Hotel)

Beautiful view over breakfast and coffee. 

This hotel is quite small but pleasing to the eyes. 

We stayed in room 2. Everything looks neat and organized omg! >_<

I observed typically it's make-your-own-coffee at most hotels in Indonesia. I'm not complaining though, I think it's much better than bothering the waiter to ask for coffee from time to time.

After breakfast, checked out and walked a few kilometers to Abrakadabra Art bnb. Not so near yet not so far, it's utterly a good walkathon, and besides that the street walls are full of phenomenal art!

TIP: Almost all becak drivers will ask you for a ride, you can kindly say no by telling them that you just want to walk coz it's good for your health (they'd usually smile, they're totally fine about it).

It was one sunny afternoon but not that humid.

Props to all the artists! *clap clap*

Looks dope!

And me... :)

Because we had check-out at 12 in the afternoon and walking made us hungry, might as well have lunch.

We went to this really lovely authentic restaurant. Luckily it was famous for it's gado-gado and other local dishes. The name of this restaurant is Warung Heru.

Everything was so delicious specially their gado-gado, no doubt! We were not disappointed at all! Also had beef rendang and fish in coconut sauce. Quite pricey but you get what you paid for. Jogja I miss you! :'(

In Warung Heru, a grandma slash cashier slash waitress is there to accommodate you, but actually all staff are friendly and hospitable. We went here twice, so by the second time they remembered and greeted us wholesomely. After having our lunch here, we scored a meager amount of energy and started walking again.

And... arrived in Abrakadabra Art bnb. You know art is definitely abundant in this place by just looking at the gate. It made me so excited and nervous at the same time because it was my first airbnb booking lol.

TIP: Getting here was jaunty because of the graffiti, food stalls, antique shops, batik shops, cafes and restaurants along the way in fact, google maps was helpful. In addition, the host eventually sends you an instruction or guide on how to get here. Since we booked a room via airbnb, the fee was cheaper than usual. Always book airbnb in advance, important tip! 

Oh there's my name on the board. My full name that is hahaha!

It was already drizzling. This place was absurdly unwinding haha!

Took my time to chill and rest my weary heart charot!

I tried to roll a tobacco but sadly it was hideous. This one looks more promising haha!

I was greeted by the host. He was sharing facts and myths about Yogyakarta and Sleman (yeah I remember the stories), it was one heck of an ice breaker! We immediately went inside our room after the chit chat so we could rest because I had to meet my Indonesian friend in the evening.

But before going inside our room, here are pictures of the interior in Abrakadabra. 

Good source of light during day time, minimalist check.

Almost all things were recycled, amazing!

Indonesian artists really know how to paint the wall yeah.

A quirky & elaborate map of where to eat, where to go and what to do in Jogja; out of town furthermore.

The junkyard room is one crazy ass room, really cool and I mean cool the weather was also fine. Moreover that cute swan towel to some extent meant romance? thanks guys lol.

I agree with that quote if 'other things' meant 'innovation'.

Officially my make-up area haha!

The rooms aren't fully sound proof (yet) nevertheless quiet time starts at 11 pm. This room had high ceilings therefore it was cooler than the other ones I guess. Unfortunately, I forgot to book another stay via airbnb so it was necessary to change. The junkyard room was already booked when we extended our stay.

Opened the curtain and this is the scene, Sheff's playing the guitar.

Can I just say I am obsessed with their outdoor bath & toilet! ugh! D: Rainy season started in Indonesia at that time therefore the b&t was chilly especially in the morning; raindrops falling over those plants, what a sight! :}

I love the concept! :D 

It was almost at the end of the day so we set out to go to Malioboro Mal and meet-up with my long time friend Citra (whom I lived with in a guest house when we were students in the Indonesian Arts & Culture Scholarship program for 2 months). It was an exhilarating feeling; we haven't seen each other for 5 years not until we finally got the chance, and coincidentally arrange a meeting at Malioboro which was absolutely nostalgic for us.

LDF long distance friendship exists haha! She's from Bandung. Next time we'll visit Indonesia, I'm a hundred percent sure we'll go to her hometown.

Following the non-stop rain and crowded streets of Malioboro, we went back to Abrakadabra art bnb coz we needed to change our wet clothes. Talked with Andi (who is the awesome and funny receptionist of Abrakadabra), he recommended to have dinner at Warung Bu Ageng, check!

TIP: Jalan Tirtodipuran and Jalan Prawirotaman are both lively streets (if it weren't raining), lots of establishments, and you can't choose just one favorite. Warung Bu Ageng is located in Jalan Tirtodipuran, you won't miss it!

Warung Bu Ageng at night.

Our food. Just a bunch of local dishes; they were sooo affordable I don't know what to say haha! Taste is spicy & yummy of course; home cooked, savory Javanese cuisine.

Can we just reevaluate our sudden sweet tooth cravings? ugh!

We had to end our night fulfilled. I had Passion fruit and Dragon fruit (came out extremely fruity lol). Dragon fruit gelato was nice though.

And so we walked to our hostel once more. It must have been a long stroll thus we were so full haha! We needed to burn extra calories y'know. 

Along the way we came across a becak driver; we already met him twice but we were kinda impartial with his offer. The 2nd time he gave us a good proposal for 50,000 idr to go on a tour around kraton Yogyakarta, water castle and some batik & puppet shops. His name is Cass (or maybe Kas), you'll definitely need to hook him up coz he's a good man and he worked hard discussing about history in English.

TIP: Find Kas or Cass at a very specific spot where he is usually waiting for customers.

You can easily see Kas at the entrance of Jalan Prawirotaman. That area, that's his auto actually.

Yup that's mas Kas. His auto becak is very distinct so it wouldn't be a problem finding him haha! He would need to cut his time for sending and fetching his daughter at school.

All smiles after the tour. :) The tour of course will be continued in my next blog post.

Another day, another adventure. Our call time with Cass was 9 in the morning, he waited at the park near our place. And...

  • When arriving at Lempuyangan station in Yogyakarta (or other station), try haggling a becak driver to get to your destination. If not, then just ride the taxi.
  • Book your stay in advance at airbnb.com.
  • Booking.com if you want affordable hotel deals, download the app it's more efficient. I highly recommend Grand Marto Hotel in Yogyakarta.
  • The best airbnb experience in Yogyakarta was in Abrakadabra art bnb, you can book them in airbnb.com. Extremely recommended! Top notch hospitality and communication. Fee starts below 600 php per night.
  • Aglioo pizza & pasta if you want to dine something fresh and hip, beer sounds good. Pricey but worth the try!
  • Don't forget to visit Tempo Gelato and try their exotic flavors like dragon fruit and perhaps snake fruit. During Saturdays it's jam packed! For 92 php with 2 flavors is music to my ears.
  • Warung Heru is definitely a must-visit, must-dine place. Try their gado-gado if you like vegetables oozing in spicy peanut sauce! A bit pricey but food plus the hospitality were so good!
  • Rent a motorcycle, just ask Andi the receptionist at Abrakadabra art bnb for only 258 php per day. Gas excluded of course.
  • If you need to buy slippers, soap, detergent, toothbrush, withdraw money at ATM and other necessities. There is Maga Swalayan, it's in Jalan Suryodiningratan (difficult to pronounce!), walking distance from Abrakadabra, you need google maps as guide or you can just ask the locals.
  • Warung Bu Ageng likewise, highly recommended. If you want to taste Javanese, home-cooked style food at a very affordable price then you must come to this place.
  • The whimsical map in Abrakadabra's wall is an advantage. 
  • Unlimited coffee and tea at Grand Marto Hotel and Abrakadabra Art bnb.
  • You can ask the receptionist of Abrakadabra to get you a taxi to Malioboro or preferred destination. But you can also haggle a becak to go there at a low cost.
  • Don't forget to find Kas! He will be your guide with utmost respect. He may only remember us by face lol.

To be continued...

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Backpacking in Jakarta - My first time!

Hi guise. Hey, this is my first blog in 2016, yes I have not been able to write a travel blog due to uninteresting activities in recent years. The places I visited were rather simple and they weren't what I wanted to share with you guise. I wanted something raw, local and well, a little stylish too. When I say a little stylish that's because I couldn't bring all of my stuff.

Yep that's right. This post is about my first backpacking experience. My first step to go more deeper within one's culture and style charot! Although I have done this way back when I stayed in Dahican, where I was residing in a tent at a very organic place, I meant no tourist spot. I mingled with the locals and other backpackers as well, we surfed and beach bummed while mesmerized by the cool waves in Amihan sa Dahican.

However the aspect of this trip is to go back to my art roots, which was/is in Indonesia. Usually backpackers would choose other ASEAN countries such as Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, etc. in a month or so. But I chose to stay in Indonesia once again, with only a backpack (fortunately, minimal clothing and make up as well).

It was an eye opener for me, that bringing less can take you places where no introvert would go. I'm saying introvert because as far as one knows I tend to get anxious when I'm with a crowd of unfamiliar people. But I need to express myself, and one way is to become friendly with them; smiling (not awkwardly) is the key my friend.

I'll take you to my first few days in Jakarta. Jakarta by the way, it's a luxury. You can't be with the locals unless you know someone from here or you know Bahasa Indonesia pretty damn well. Transportation is crazy! But I studied them quite a bit and found Go-jek/Go-car to be very helpful and inexpensive. 'Jeepney' in the Philippines will never be a letdown when you know the pros and cons to be honest.

Another advantage for me is that I look Indonesian. Tagalog-Bisaya both sound similar to Bahasa Indonesia hence they thought we were somehow taking it easy but not really. However, I do speak a tad bit of their language because I learned it in 2011 (previously in the IACS-ASEAN batik program). I reviewed some Bahasa words and sentences before ascending. It's easier to haggle transportation, another advice. Haggling may seem rude but everybody thinks it's an efficient way to save money than just agreeing straightaway, which only applies in Indonesia and if you are used to speaking their language. I don't think it will be good in other countries. Furthermore, I recommend downloading the app "Indonesian" from Bravolol. I downloaded the app just in case. Okay, enough babbling, let's get down to the juicy parts.

My vlog about this trip, it's part English and Tagalog lol


Finally to Jakarta!

TIP I've heard stories about offloading (click this link to read the comments) in Manila airport. So before we got on board, I researched and asked some tips from fellow travelers. It seems that you need to dress appropriately (clean and casual) before facing immigration (Terminal 3 kami that time). Always be ready with your itinerary (flight schedule and travel list like where you wanna go, booking receipts, etc.), although we weren't asked to show any of this, only our Cebu pacific itinerary and passport. In our case, Sheff had an intimate convo with the female staff, told her that we just got engaged and planned the Indonesia trip before tying the knot lol. He also told them that it's his first time traveling abroad and my second time to go to Indonesia. The female staff liked the idea and even told us "sana may ganyan rin ako" while the male staff who entertained me was not amused lol. You  need to show you are confident and happy (because I was in fact excited and cheery). Moreover, Indonesia is visa on arrival therefore their immigration staff looked more intimidating but still nice (and they just stamped our passports right away!). Indonesia's visa is free but travel tax in Manila isn't so be sure to check on your itinerary if the travel tax is included; if not then you have to pay it while checking in. 


Blue bird taxi (a bit expensive but you can trust this company). On our way to the hotel past 12 midnight. Our hotel was in Jalan Menteng, therefore we paid 150,000 idr (P 558.00) for the taxi fare.

Why day 2? because from Davao we arrived in Manila in the evening and checked in for our flight to Jakarta. Arrived in Jakarta at 11:55 pm, rested for a bit and started walking to find a cab that uses a meter. I was exhausted so I couldn't haggle at that time. Blue bird taxis are in the blue bird group.

Oh yes, comfy bed, good air conditioner, internet and a private bath & toilet. We booked a room at Sofyan Hotel Betawi Menteng. Sorry about the TV, nadale haha!

Sofyan hotel brings back memories. This was the first hotel I stayed in Jakarta back in my IACS-ASEAN days. I had shared a room with my closest Indonesian friend during that time. Today, the hotel is still nice and cozy. For your information this hotel is a Muslim hotel so respect everything there is inside. If you hear the muezzin please don't make any loud noises because most guests are praying. However, I noticed rooms are almost sound proof but you can still hear the muezzin from the nearest Masjid. (I am not Muslim, I was raised Catholic but I respect all).

I wore my outfit again, just strolling around Menteng and had some snack in the morning, although we already had free buffet breakfast in the hotel haha!

I just wanna say that the free breakfast buffet was so good! They serve the best Indonesian cuisine so far (as a hotel with free breakfast). Absolutely recommended. Brewed coffee's awesome too!

Sofyan hotel betawi is close to some famous cafes and restaurants. We headed to the nearest one and it seems to be popular, Bakoel Koffie in Cikini. However the language barrier was the kind of thing you had to accept and be patient as fervent as possible. We had our order and that was it, we just had to try, no worries. 

Place is kinda vintage, it's cool by the way! We were seated at the non-smoking area. We wanted to try their Indonesian snacks, unfortunately they were unavailable (the waiter tried explaining as he said "no" to our first order) so perhaps wala nga talaga haha! 

We headed back to Sofyan hotel and prepared to check-out at 12 pm so we could go to our next booking at Six degrees backpacker's hostel in Jalan Cikini. Six degrees is just a walking distance to Sofyan, I am good at planning trust me! haha!

But before checking-in in Six degrees. We hung in 7eleven because I bought some stuff, I meant more Indonesian snack lol.

Tangkong is a mix of potato and cassava. Baru means 'new'. They also have Pedas which means 'spicy' and Keju means 'cheese'. Also bought a tiny durian mooncake, it was divine! 

After snacking in 7eleven, we proceeded to walk to Six degrees. Google maps is helpful for your info. I will tell you all about booking Sofyan hotel and Six degrees later (scroll down to the last part to read the summary).

We stayed in the double room with a private bath and toilet. Spacious and cool; no windows though but that's totally fine coz they have an outdoor bar at the rooftop and a little yoga/training area.

Lobby and play area is quite big, even guests are having their meals here, doing internet stuff and reading a book. They also have a movie room, too awesome!

After checking in our room, we freshened up and went to Grand Indonesia and spent a leisurely time eating and window shopping. 

TIP By the way, we used Go-jek separately. It's way more cheaper than grab, go-car or taxi. Go-jek can easily maneuver during traffic. Make sure when you and your partner or friends rode go-jek, you have to set the meeting place like a specific spot you can meet up.

Outside Grand Indonesia.

Sheff thinking that he'll buy these pair of boots someday... someday...

These goddamn seasonal fruits man! :((((( 

Beautiful! You can see this at Plaza Indonesia, it's beside Grand Indonesia.

After a couple of hours of frustration and sad pitiful budgeting leisure time (because we ABSOLUTELY didn't want buy anything expensive). The grandeur made us hungry and so we walked away from the tall buildings and ate some Indonesian street food (first time ever!).

TIP Okay so none of these people will speak English fluently for you even if you're a local or not. Basically Bahasa Indonesia is important especially paying street food vendors or any establishment for that matter. You can watch our vlog so you'll know how to eat them and how we liked the taste. The street food haven is just right in front of Grand Indonesia's west mall entrance. Easy to locate coz you'll see a crowd of people eating and smoking cigarettes.

Some of the street food stalls yay!

Yes! Sate kambing in English is 'barbecued mutton' uyeh! We had two orders of Sate Kambing and per plate had maybe around 10 sticks (basta marami) costs 25,000 idr (P 93.00) per plate. Affordable compared to the restaurant price.

Look at them! Legit Satay, the peanut sauce was really lovely.

This type of street food stall is called 'warung'. Typically they sell local food, desserts (like Martabak) and fruits as well.

Subsequently we went back to the hostel by riding a Bajaj (an auto-rickshaw in Jakarta, the usual color is blue). It was a good experience we rode Bajaj for the first time. In my vlog however I forgot to mention Bajaj rather I said Becak which is different regarding utilization but similarly both are rickshaw. 

Arrived in Six degrees, we prepped ourselves to avail their "happy hour" in the bar. Large bintang was affordable compared to the regular price in Jakarta. Sheff and I just chilled the whole night in the rooftop.

After a couple of drinks, we head downstairs and played a game of 9 balls ayylmao.


Hey, hey! Good morning, had nasi goreng for breakfast and their unlimited coffee. :)

So actually we transferred to another room, in the 4-pod dorm room. You have your own pod (privately you can close the curtain) with a light and socket. We had to switch rooms because someone already booked the double room. It was alright and air conditioner was cool. Public bath and toilet is also spacious and clean, we still had a comfortable stay. :)

Day 3's plan was to go to Kota Tua Jakarta (old town Jakarta) but due to unknown reasons we suddenly changed the plan, we went to Gandaria City Mall instead which was a stupid idea lol because Kota Tua Jakarta is a historical place haha! Anyway charged to experience, we will definitely visit Kota Tua Jakarta soon. 

Gandaria City Mall is pretty far from Jalan Cikini (where Six Degrees is located), therefore we rode a go-car going there and the driver knew where to move away from traffic.

Okay so to be honest, we went to Gandaria for a reason, we wanted to try that Pablo cheesecake, stupid eh? Unfortunately the queue was impossible! I mean absolutely long! We ditched that idea and tried Kyochon's chicken salsal (lmao). Salsal in Tagalog means 'placing your finger into something whilst penetrating it in and out' ayylmao.

We bought these mini matcha croissants from breadtalk and are only available in Indonesia, they were so delish! It has red bean filling and texture was soft, not flaky. You have to watch my vlog to see our reactions, we had a wonderful time eating these minis.

BOGO! Lmao, buy one and get one and we did. In my vlog you'll see how the burgers looked like haha!

Gandaria City Mall has one of the most outrageous and ridiculously awesome art installations! Especially that contortionist sculpture, amazing!

It was a bit exhausting we walked about in the mall. I couldn't get a go-car so I just called a cab, eventually we paid the exact metered amount 150,000 idr. It's kind of expensive because Gandaria City Mall is 12 km to Cikini (Six Degrees Hostel) 34 minutes by car plus traffic.

When we got back to the hostel, I really wanted to see I am a hero, a Japanese live action movie (from the manga). It was awesome because we watched it on the projector.


The next morning, we checked out because I booked a train ticket online from Pasar Senen station to Lempuyangan station Yogyakarta. I called a go-car and went to the station without any worries.

Since we've already booked our ticket online (at tiket dot com), it was easier to check-in and the officer in charge was the one who did everything for us lol.

One thing I like about Pasar Senen station is it was so clean! I don't wanna brag but guise from Philippines, you get my point. 

Hey guyth, before boarding the train to Yogyakarta. I strongly suggest you buy as many food as you can hoard because these were the only snacks we bought and they weren't enough for the 9-hour train ride lol. By the way, sari roti MUST-TRY lol.

Nevertheless we managed the grueling hours by just water intake, we're used to fasting to tell the truth so okay lang, we survived lol. This train seemed very local and fully booked fortunately. We had conversations with Indonesians seated behind and in front of us, it was rather enlightening.

 Here are some photos I took inside using my Iphone.

Jogja here we come!

That was absolutely our first time riding a local subway, the scenery was breathtaking furthermore. I will continue my next blog about our first backpacking in Yogyakarta soon. I'm really excited to write the continuation. Thank you so much for taking the time to read. 

I will now give a summary of this story, just a breakdown of what we brought, where we ate and stayed.

  • Arriving in Soekarno-Hatta international airport. We rode a blue taxi group cab which is an expensive company but you can trust them arriving at your destination on time without further echos (for example other taxis will give you a tour around Jakarta and eventually the fee goes high). Just tell the driver to use the meter. From airport to Sofyan Hotel Betawi Menteng we paid 150,000 idr (shown on the meter) without any additional fees.
  • I booked a room at Sofyan Hotel Betawi Menteng through booking dot com app. (download the app because it's a lot easier and faster). Breakfast buffet is already included and wifi in the room. Their Indonesian breakfast is a must-try!
  • For foreign charger plugs or trinkets, you can buy a universal electrical socket at Ace hardware in Menteng Huis, a walking distance from Sofyan Hotel. 
  • There are many cafes and restaurants nearby Menteng and Cikini, if you open your google maps, you can find lots of them.
  • You can buy Indonesian snacks at 7eleven in Cikini. There are plenty which you couldn't find here in the Philippines.
  • Learn Bahasa Indonesia when you're in Jakarta.
  • Don't buy any souvenirs just yet, wait til' you get to Yogyakarta.
  • I brought my laptop that's because I did some research and I was also doing a little blogging at that time. You can either bring it or not but apparently, Indonesia has a very good internet connection.
  • Always bring/withdraw IDR cash in change and 50s, not just hundreds and debit/credit cards, usually items/fees in Indonesia start at 2,000 idr.
  • Book train tickets online at tiket dot com, it's faster! Perhaps if you're an adventurer like me, book the cheapest one haha!
  • Say thank you and smile, don't worry! Enjoy Jakarta! :D
Ask me anything and if you wanna share this blog please do, thank you. :)

To be continued...