Tag Archives: indonesia

Fat Turtle Seminyak Bali

The Fat Turtle, Seminyak, Bali: A Top Spot for Brekky

Located on Jalan Petitenget right next to Biku, The Fat Turtle is a casual cafe serving up toast and pancakes and great coffee. A great place for a slow and leisurely breakfast!

The cafe is small with old fashioned tiles, sewing machine tables and hipster lights. We found the tables to be slightly small for groups of 4, but we managed anyway. If you’re a couple wanting to come here, there’s plenty of room.Inside Area Fat Turtle Seminyak BaliWe ordered a range of dishes and all were quite good. The red velvet pancakes came topped with cream and were tasty and moist.Red Velvet Pancakes Fat TurtleThe banana bread French toast was also moist, but some might think it’s too small. We like the size.Banana Bread French Toast Fat Turtle BaliThe corn fritters were awesome and the addition of the avocado purée was a good choice in order to keep the dish from being too dry.

The coffee was too notch and pretty much in line with what we expect in Bali these days.Coffee at Fat Turtle BaliWe’re fans of this place and would be happy to come back here again for breakfast or lunch. A good solid cafe for those in need of sustenance in Seminyak and one of the better places around.

The Fat Turtle
Jalan Petitenget 886A, Seminyak
thefatturtlebali@gmail.com
Instagram: @thefatturtlebali
Opening Hours: 08:00 – 18:00
Red Velvet Pancakes: Rp55.000++
Banana Bread French Toast: Rp45.000++
Corn Fritters: Rp55.000++
Cappuccino: Rp25.000++

Milk and Madu Canggu

Milk & Madu, Canggu, Bali: Great Food in a Fantastic Open Air Pavilion

As Canggu opens up to more and more foreigners, more and more cafes open. Milk & Madu is one of the better ones in Canggu catering toward the foreigner crowd.

Located in a large Balinese style pavilion out towards Pantai Berawa, Milk & Madu serves up a range of baked egg dishes, toast, pancakes and other standard cafe fare.Hotcakes at Milk and MaduAnd the food we’ve tried is good! The skillet eggs are not huge, but enough for a breakfast and very tasty.Organic Skillet EggsThe eggs benedict with smashed avo was sensational. The mango pancakes tasted great, but were just too much for one person to eat.

Coffees and juices are good and worth coming here for on their own.Coffee at Milk and MaduFor people with kids, this is the perfect cafe. There’s a fair sized play area on the back lawn which doesn’t disturb other guests, but caters perfectly for families with kids.Milk and Madu Canggu BaliGarden at the back of Milk and MaduWe really like this cafe and think it’s worth visiting if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of Seminyak for a while.

Milk & Madu
Jalan Raya Pantai Berawa No.52, Tibubeneng, Kuta Utara
www.milkandmadu.com
Instagram: @milkandmadu
Jam Buka: setiap hari 07:00 – 22:00
Buttermilk hotcakes: Rp60.000++
Sauteed chorizo organic skillet eggs: Rp65.000++
Cappuccino: Rp30.000++
Super smoothies: Rp55.000++

Summerbird Boutique Hotel Bandung

Summerbird: Boutique Hotel in Bandung

Summerbird is a funky boutique hotel in Bandung which is perfect for kids of the Instagram generation due to its unique style and trendy fitout. Located in the centre of Bandung just off Jalan Pasirkaliki, Summerbird is close to the Bandung train station, Istana Plaza, Paskal Hypersquare and Jalan Cibadak. You can even walk to Pasar Baru from here if you feel like it.

Summerbird is a small hotel with only 3 levels of rooms, with each of the rooms surrounding an open courtyard area which gives the entire hotel a bright and airy feel. Construction is based on bare steel, lots of wood and a liberal usage of bricks which gives a very modern, fresh feel.Summerbird Boutique Hotel Bandung Bathroom

Rooms at Summerbird are themed — French, Scandinavian, Industrial and Vintage. We stayed in both the French and the Scandinavian rooms and to be honest, they are one of the funkiest rooms we’ve ever stayed in. Oh, and perfect for taking great photos of. We even saw a couple doing a pre-wedding shoot while we were there.

Each room comes with air-conditiong, private bathroom with Western toilet and hot water, a big comfortable bed (seriously, it’s really soft and fluffy), cable television and free WiFi. The other thing is that the rooms are really clean and some of the fittings they use are seriously expensive and imported meaning you can immediately feel the quality of the room. Take the shower fittings for example — classy toto.Summerbird Boutique Hotel Bandung

Breakfast is included in the room price and is served in the cafe downstairs. We had nasi goreng and coffee and it was perfectly adequate for the day ahead. You’re also able to order other things off the menu for an extra fee, just like a regular cafe and we can people coming and having other meals here too.

We were initially worried that the massive glass wall in the bathroom would be a problem as far as privacy is concerned, but it turns out that they have blinds which you can pull down. all the way meaning you don’t have to worry about anything.

So what’s our verdict about this place? We really love it. Not only does the hotel look good in photos, it actually feels good to stay there. The beds are awesome, the air-conditioning icy cold and the room feels homey especially on a rainy Bandung day.

Summerbird Hotel
Jalan Ksatriaan no. 11. Bandung
Standard: Rp. 439.000
Superior: Rp. 489.000
Deluxe: Rp. 539.000

Check the current price on Agoda

Relaxing on Kanawa Island

A couple of weeks in Flores, Indonesia

So we went to Flores a few weeks back to check out this mountainous Indonesian island and some of the great attractions around it such as Komodo Island – home of Komodo Dragons.

Komodo Dragons are huge ugly beasts
Komodo Dragons are huge ugly beasts

We flew directly from Bali into Labuan Bajo at the western end of Flores. Labuan Bajo is a ramshackle old port town and is a popular jumping off point for people wanting to dive the islands in this part of the world and also to visit the famous Komodo Island. We headed straight for Kanawa Island, an idyllic tropical island fringed by a stunning coral reef.

Relaxing on Kanawa Island
Relaxing on Kanawa Island

Accommodation on the island is basic with electricity only available for a few hours per day and only cold water for showering. Prices are quite high for what you get, but one thing that really makes this place worthwhile is the reef right in front of the bungalows. It’s a healthy patch of sea filled with massive fish, colourful sea creatures and the odd shark. The other thing that sets this place apart from many places is that it gets magnificent, almost unrealistic sunsets.

Kanawa Island puts on a light show
Kanawa Island puts on a light show

During our stay on Kanawa Island we did a day trip which included snorkelling with 4m wide manta rays, observing Komodo dragons up close and see some amazing coral at Batu Bolong. That day trip was one of the best I have ever done and I highly recommend it to anyone coming to Indonesia.

Next stop on our trip was Seraya Island which  is essentially a simplified version of Kanawa Island. Great reef, fantastic sunrise and sunset, basic accommodation and a fantastic fishing village around the other side.

Sunrise on Seraya Island is worth getting up early for
Sunrise on Seraya Island is worth getting up early for
The sunrises on Seraya Island are stunning
The sunrises on Seraya Island are stunning

After 5 days on the islands, we headed back to Labuan Bajo to commence our Flores overland trip. It’s possible to get across the island on public transport and we’d normally want to do that, but we had my mum and her friend with us so we decided to hire a car and driver for $60 per day which included everything. Across Flores there are so many things to see ranging from a ricefield shaped like a spiderweb to Kelimutu, a famous volcano with three differently coloured lakes.

The first day took us to Ruteng where the highlight is a spiderweb ricefield. Nice to see, but quick to enjoy. All along the road to Ruteng are people selling oranges — for me, buying oranges from these kids was one of the highlights of the day rather than the ricefield. I guess that’s a sign of my shift to preferring experiences when travelling rather than simply seeing stuff.

Buying juicy oranges off the children -- an absolute highlight!
Buying juicy oranges off the children — an absolute highlight!

The next day we headed to Bajawa where there are a few cool things such as some traditional villages and some hot springs. We visited the traditional village of Bena and had a great time walking around, talking to the local people and trying to learn about their lives. In particular, one old man we spoke to told us all about his life, how much he pays for electricity ($5 for 3 months), what he likes to eat etc. The hot springs were also a cool thing to do. The water seeps out of the ground into a large pool and is extremely hot. Once you get used to the heat, it’s not too bad in the water, but you do find yourself feeling not so good after a while as you start to overheat. At that time we found it best to go to a part of the stream where the hot water mixes with cold water. A perfect luke warm bath!

Man chewing betelnut in Bena
Man chewing betelnut in Bena
Bena village with its traditional thatched roofs
Bena village with its traditional thatched roofs

Next on the agenda was the village of Moni. This day of driving involved an enormous landslide which blocked the road, some roadside stops and the highlight itself, Moni. Well, Moni isn’t a highlight but the town is home to the famous Kelimutu. The next morning we woke up EARLY. Hiked up the mountain through clouds of sulfurous gas and saw the sunrise over Kelimutu. We later found out that the lakes had recently completely changed colour and that the increased gas was dangerous. The alert level had been raised on the mountain and it was officially closed, but no one on the mountain actually knew about that (or cared!). So we hiked up oblivious to the danger. I actually felt my airways closing over on the way up and was a bit worried. In the end all was fine and we saw a great sunrise.

Cute girl hoola hoops as we stop at a warung
Cute girl hoola hoops as we stop at a warung

We ended our time in Flores in the town of Maumere which isn’t fantastic.

Overall, though, Flores proved to be a fantastic adventure. Highly recommended for those wanting to get out of Bali and see the rest of Indonesia.

Living in Java: an update

Well, well, well. It’s been a pretty amazing year and a bit in Java. Spending one whole year in Java doesn’t actually sound like that much of a big deal to me right now. But I know that before arriving the thought of living anywhere other than Australia for a year seemed like sheer madness. Now it feels normal.

Just one of the many amazing places I have visited in Java in the past year
Just one of the many amazing places I have visited in Java in the past year

Earlier this year I posted a video montage celebrating a year in Indonesia. It’s a simple video which shows some of the trials, tribulations and delights of everyday life in Indonesia. Some with a keen eye will have seen some of the important moments from my time here in Indonesia so far.

Getting Married

The most important thing that has happened to me in Indonesia during the past year is getting married. I came to Java for a 3-month stint studying Indonesian and ended up getting married. How did that happen? Nobody knows, but I’m extremely happy and that’s all that really matters. Susan and I were married in June this year in Bali surrounded by a handful of friends and family.

Us on our wedding day
Us on our wedding day

Learning Indonesian in Bandung

I came originally to study at IMLAC for 3 months before shooting off to Bali to learn how to surf. Well, since I was getting to know Susan and was generally having a fab time living in Bandung, I decided to extend my Indonesian lessons. I ended up completing 6 months of full-time study. I thought that after completing this much studying that I would be fluent, but I am not. I can hold a conversation with anyone in Indonesian and can pickup a lot of what people are talking about when I overhear their conversations, but I still struggle to talk in the style of locals. Why? Because the proper way of speaking and writing in Indonesian is a long way from how most people actually speak. Many people studying at my school questioned why we didn’t learn the informal language, but that’s not something you go to school for. You learn that on the street and by interacting with people.

One of the classrooms at IMLAC
One of the classrooms at IMLAC

For anyone intending on staying in Indonesia for any extended period of time, I would highly recommend getting some formal training in Bahasa Indonesia. I saw many people arrive in IMLAC with no Indonesian language knowledge getting to a pretty good proficiency within 1 month.

Writing for Travelfish

I continued writing for Travelfish while in Indonesia and this took about 3 months of my time. I covered most of Java. Actually, to cover every tourism aspect of Java would probably take about 5 months, so I hit the spots that foreign tourists are more likely to hit. Even then I spent a week at one point without seeing another white person. Java doesn’t get many foreign tourists travelling through it. Those that do come here spend their time in Yogyakarta and then move on. How very sad.

Working for Travelfish is no holiday, but it's fun!
Working for Travelfish is no holiday, but it’s fun!

Honeymoon

Recently Susan and I spent two months in Australia and New Zealand having our honeymoon. We stayed in campervans for most of the period and it was an incredible experience. Highly recommended. More to come on this.

Sunrise in the outback on our honeymoon
Sunrise in the outback on our honeymoon

Thoughts

Reflecting on the past year and a bit, I can truly say that life is unpredictable when you don’t have the anchor of a proper job dictating events. I’m becoming increasingly keen to start a business or ten here in Indonesia. Everywhere I look I see opportunity for people with my background to make money. Whether it be opening up a small guesthouse, a small eatery, a website or something else. Opportunity abounds here.

Right now Susan and I are experimenting with a new Indonesian travel website called Pergi Dulu which we hope one day will provide destination information to the growing masses of Indonesian travellers. Today it is a blog, tomorrow hopefully something different.

So that’s where I am at now. I’m truly passionate about Indonesia and am bullish on the country’s economic prospects and potential as a tourist destination. If only the rest of the world would wake up.

West Java

Ah yes… Java. Previously I spoke of some of the places I loved from both East and Central Java. Today, it’s the West. West Java was a bit of a revelation to me as I had thought there wasn’t a lot to see before setting off on my travelfish.org adventure. But as it turns out, West Java is absolutely packed with awesome things to see and do. Lots of beaches and lots of volcanoes as well as a few reasonably large cities with Western conveniences.

Pangandaran & Batu Karas

I’d already been to Pangandaran before and knew it was a great little beachside spot to hang out for a while. But on my second visit, I enjoyed it even more. It’s nice combination of enough tourist infrastructure to make things comfortable and not enough foreign tourists to turn it into a mini-Kuta. I also checked out Batu Karas which is just down the road and has a totally different vibe — I liked it! The disappointing thing about both of these beach areas is that they deserve to have masses of foreigners visiting them, but at this point in time they are virtually empty with only a small handful making their way there.

Sunsets like this most nights in Pangandaran
Sunsets like this most nights in Pangandaran

Garut

Garut itself is nothing to write home about. But there are few attractions nearby that are definitely worth a look. I particularly liked Gunung Papandayan, an explosive volcano, Kawah Kamojang, a geothermal area with bubbling pits of mud everywhere and Kampung Naga, a traditional village with no electricity supply (except via car battery – so definitely no playing PartyCasino here!).

Huge volcano near Garut
Huge volcano near Garut

Bandung

I’ve been living in Bandung for the past year and it definitely is worthy of a mention. Mainly for the nearby Tangkuban Parahu and Maribaya forest walk, but also for the great culinary scene. There aren’t many foreigners visiting Bandung and it makes sense when you see how difficult it can be to get to Tangkuban Parahu by public transport without getting ripped off.

Tangkuban Parahu near Bandung
Tangkuban Parahu near Bandung

Ujung Genteng

Ujung Genteng would have to be my favourite West Java destination. It’s small strip of villages which stretches along a remote coast some 100km from the nearest city of any size. The great thing about Ujung Genteng? Total isolation, crystal clear water and a magnificent turtle rehab centre. When I was there, I think I saw one other foreigner, but I’m not 100% sure — they flashed past on a motorbike.

Ujung Genteng is magic
Ujung Genteng is magic

So the same disappointment I have felt in other parts of Java came back again in West Java. Absolutely incredible destinations that have very few foreign visitors. Many of them are not that easy to get to, public transport operators regularly rip foreigners off and accommodation is generally VERY basic. If only some of these people could tune into what foreigners want, maybe more would make their way to this neck of the woods. Until that happens, these places are going to be virtually unspoilt. Go there!

 

Central Java – culture, beaches and natural wonders

I have travelled a lot through Java since I arrived almost a year ago. In that time I’ve travelled the entire length of the island for Travelfish.org covering all of the common sights in Java as well as many that are off the beaten track. To be honest, it’s hard to stay on the beaten track in Java and it’s only because many people freak out when they arrive that they speed through the island towards Bali without so much as stepping on a beach or climbing a volcano (except maybe for Gunung Bromo). Central Java is a magnificent part of Java that surprised as it has a bit of a reputation for being desolate. And when you compare it to East and West Java, that might ring true. But Central Java has Borobudur and that is the biggest tourist attraction in Indonesia outside of Bali. Plus, there are some other places that I reckon are some of the best in the whole of Java.

Semarang – capital of Central Java

Semarang is the capital of Central Java and is where I flew into. It’s simply a big city with a great old section which floods occasionally. It flooded when I was there and the becak driver was driving me home in water that would have otherwise been up to my thighs. Needless to say I got wet — especially when the guy couldn’t peddle any more because we’d gotten stuck in a hole. The old town is basically a bunch of old buildings that are sadly falling into a state of disrepair.

Semarang old city
Semarang old city

Move out of the old town and into Chinatown and you find a part of the city that is surprisingly well-looked after. Chinatown is a great place to go on weekends when food markets are set up there.

Karimunjawa Islands

The Karimunjawa Islands are located about 100km off the north coast of Central Java — a cluster of small islands, some of which are inhabited by fishermen. Tourists go there because the water is crystal clear, there’s plenty of coral for snorkelling and the sand on many of the beaches is simply blindingly white. It’s a basic place where food is simple as is most of the accommodation. You rarely see another white person while you’re there and riding a motorbike around the island truly gets you into virgin territory for foreign visitors. This place is magical and is one of my favourite places in Java.

Karimunjawa has white sand and clear water
Karimunjawa has white sand and clear water
Karimunjawa Central Java
Karimunjawa Central Java

Dieng Plateau

Dieng Plateau is another one of my favourite places, but it couldn’t be more different than Karimunjawa. Dieng is located at 2100m above sea level and is home to the oldest Hindu temples in Java, boiling pits of mud and farms that spill down massive steep mountains. It’s cold, cloudy and absolutely enchanting. Overnight temperatures often dip below freezing in the dry season and day time temperatures can be quite frigid too, especially after having arrived from the stifling lowlands.

Small town on the Dieng Plateau
Small town on the Dieng Plateau

The great thing about sleeping overnight in Dieng is that most of the accommodation is located in people’s houses. This means friendly and warm service and some of the quirks you’d expect in an Indonesian house like no heating when it’s practically snowing outside. Needless to say, you do breathe steam out of your mouth the whole night and if you need to get up to go to the toilet in the middle of the night, you’re in for an icy trip across the tiled floor in bare feet as of course Indonesian bathrooms are constantly wet. The best way to get around this is to dehydrate yourself.

Boiling water near Dieng Central Java
Boiling water near Dieng Central Java
Telaga Warna, the coloured lake in Dieng
Telaga Warna, the coloured lake in Dieng

Random photos

These random photos are of a place that isn’t in any of the guidebooks and won’t be in the travelfish guidebook either mainly because it took all day to get to on the back of a motorbike. Almost did me in. Only stayed for about 15 minutes and got bored, but it does make for some good photos. Everyone loves a mud pit!

Bleduk Kuwu Central Java
Bleduk Kuwu Central Java
Exploding mud of Bleduk Kuwu
Exploding mud of Bleduk Kuwu

Of course there are other places in Central Java that I went to that I could go on and on about, but no one has time for that. And there’s also Yogyakarta and Solo, both of which are already written up for travelfish and I didn’t have to visit. Central Java is truly magical and almost completely untouched by white folk. I went about a week without speaking to another one. YES! What you reckon? Good place or not?

Turtle hatchlings in Ujung Genteng

I went to a place called Ujung Genteng last month. It’s an awesome and remote place on the south coast of West Java where only very tourists make it. Among the great things to do there such as snorkelling, eating fresh fish and laying around is the possibility to see turtle hatchlings running down to the ocean. So I took a video as the sun set of those cute turtles. Check it out.

Slow Loris (Javan)

So last month I saw a Javan Slow Loris for sale on the side of the road outside of a big mall in Bandung, but at the time I didn’t know what it was. The locals just called it a cus-cus, but it’s not one of those. It’s an endangered Slow Loris which is a weird-looking and cute primate! Anyway, I found out because someone posted a comment on my youtube video.

When I was in Jakarta last week, I was curious to see if I could find more of these nifty little creatures, so I went to the Pramuka Bird Market otherwise known as Pasar Burung Pramuka. At first I was told that there aren’t any monkeys or lorises in the market as it was illegal to sell them. But all of a sudden a guy popped up and wanted to show me around. So he took me to what he claimed was the only slow loris in the market at the time — all the others had been bought. It was an incredible creature, but I really didn’t like the way they treated it. They held it by the back leg so it wouldn’t run away and generally treated it roughly. I got some great shots though. Check them out.

What a cute Javan Slow Loris
What a cute Javan Slow Loris
What a great set of eyes they have!
What a great set of eyes they have!
The slow loris is hungry!
The slow loris is hungry!

It’s illegal to buy or sell the slow lorises, but the law is no barrier in Indonesia. So they offered it to me for $100 and when I had a startled look on my face (I couldn’t believe it was that cheap!), he laughed hard and told me to negotiate. In other words, he was trying to rip me off by charging $100! I could have easily got it for $50, I’d say.

Elsewhere in the market there were eagles, civet cats and animals that were a cross between a cat and a dog and very cute. I would love to have one of those, but again the issue of them being ripped from the jungles of Indonesia is concerning.

Ever wanted a slow loris? What do you think? Cute or what?