(Article by Jerni Tania)

A friend asked how was my holiday went to Egypt. Short answer: it was like Heaven on earth, come to her surprise, she continued, “nobody ever said that before so far I have stayed there for more than a decade.”

Egypt holds more than the only history, it is one of the first ancient civilization on earth. The Bible mentioned it, how the Israelites lived there and moved to another land. Along the way to the Promised Land, they were complaining about how good life was when they were slaves in Egypt. I can’t imagine, some people, particularly who works in the lowest chain of society would prefer to work like that forever if there is another option to live better in an unknown land. Enough to tell about the Israelites at that time, but it comes to my mind how good their life was in Egypt which caused them strong impression and desire to come back and live as slaves there!

Despite its political situation, Egypt still one of the most favorite tourist destination. The green landscape is easy to find when we go down to lower Egypt by train. My friends and I took the night train from Cairo, then traveled 8 hours to Aswan. We started our journey from Central Station in the evening, with the calculation we will arrive in Aswan in the morning, so we can get some rest on the train. Adzan voice hanging in the air blended very well with the rhythm of people who ended their day and ready to go home, while we were on the other side of the life was very excited to begin our journey.

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Our train arrived at 8 am, in Aswan station and the ship for our Nile Cruise had been waiting there. The tiredness after 8-hour trip on the train was replaced by the excitement to see the beautiful landscape of Nile and the fresh morning breeze on our face. Our ship was not the nicest sailing ship ever, nor the most luxurious one but we have enough room for 12 people, a rooftop and even a sitting toilet! We planned to sail along the Nile river till Luxor, and the ship was dependent by the movement of the breeze.

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The first night, we were so tired so we slept tide inside of the sleeping bag because the wind was very strong, the ship was covered by blanket all around. The moment that we shared on that first night was very sacred, silent and beautiful. The constellation of the stars was so bright in the middle of darkest night, far away from light pollution and the noise of civilization. The cricket sound and soft splashing from the water beneath us represent all the perfection we had that night.

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As dawn come to rise, we were served by a beautiful golden view from the morning sun who can not wait to warm up the day. We continued our journey after had our breakfast, typical Egyptian bread with Nutella that we brought along from Germany, you can tell at how blessed you are to testify this universe from another perspective. Nile river seemed very calm, so we decided to “taste” it. We swam back and forth, letting the freshwater soaked into our skin. We made several stopping points, near to the shore and played for a moment with sand.

The journey continued along, we did enjoy the time floating on the Nile. Sat at the corner of the ship, and looking beyond the horizon where our eyes could not see anything else beyond the line that separates the Nile and the sky above. The second night, after floating we felt a little bit bored. We played a board game, we sang songs, we joked around with stupid riddles, still, the feeling of being disconnected with the outer world creep into our soul. Do not expect there will an internet signal, because there was not. We started to feel lost for some time until we realize we can also be civil without an internet connection. Look how the Israelites lived back then, the connection between them was stronger than what we have now in this era. We realized that, and we come back to live in the present by dancing some random movement and public sport on the rooftop.

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There was something special about the captain of our ship. He is a very funny man and so friendly. The second night, after we found a port to stop and to rest, the captain started using his special clothing. We did not even notice we did he got that, plus some percussion tools. The captain led the team and played some energetic music, while we were dancing around the bonfire. We were singing in one accord, and just let our body followed where the melody brought us along. It was a remarkable experience, an unforgettable impression of heaven on earth!

Our planet is a fine place to live in, we can contribute and play some roles to preserve nature so it is not only a story we will tell to our offspring one day. Let them feel the breeze on their skin, let their eyes see the unspoken beauty of creation, let the future become more civil by doing sustainable travel! It costs you nothing, but it saves our home!

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Opening My House for Guests

Posted: December 13, 2018 in ASIA

I’m running a guest house in Purwokerto: Rumah Orange Guest House.

Just renovated in October 2018 and cleaned properly in November 2018 by me. Will be happy to host you or just drop me a message for hang out offers 😀

Click to book through: Booking.com or AirBnB

PS. I’m not always home as an avid traveler, but my family will take care of the house when I’m away.

Mungkin sudah banyak sekali yang sudah posting tentang ini, jadi saya ingin share poin-poin analisis saya selama proses membuat visa B2 (Tourist) tahun 2016 lalu.

Sebenarnya saya membuat visa karena diminta untuk menemani ke Amerika (saya sendiri tidak punya keinginan kesana untuk wisata atau apapun). Sayangnya, teman saya malah tidak mendapatkan visa walaupun dokumen yang dia bawa seharusnya lebih dari cukup, seperti cerita-cerita “horor” yang sering dia baca di internet tentang pembuatan visa USA sebelum berangkat ke Surabaya.

Menurut saran-saran dari orang lain, setelah menyelesaikan langkah-langkah pendaftaran online, ada beberapa dokumen tambahan yang mungkin diperlukan, contohnya:

  1. Surat penjamin yang valid (undangan dari teman, saudara, atau organisasi tertentu).
  2. Surat bukti yang kuat dari tempat kerja bahwa kita pasti kembali ke Indonesia.
  3. Fotokopi rekening bank berisi minimal Rp 50 juta.

Yang membuat saya cukup takjub adalah bahwa saya tidak dimintai dokumen tambahan apapun. Saya hanya menyerahkan print out appointment untuk interview dan paspor, kemudian menunggu giliran. Saat interview pun biasa saja, menjawab apa adanya (dalam Bahasa Inggris), hanya sekitar 5 menit sampai akhirnya saya diberi tahu bahwa permohonan visa saya diterima.

Menurut analisis saya:

  1. Petugas di konsulat sangat berhati-hati, karena banyaknya imigran gelap dari Indonesia (malu-maluin, tapi kenyataan) dan kasus perdagangan manusia (human trafficking). Jika paspor Anda baru (bukan perpanjangan), tanpa visa ataupun cap dari negara manapun, dan Anda tidak pergi dengan travel agent terpercaya untuk tur wisata, kemungkinan besar permohonan visa Anda akan langsung ditolak.
  2. Selain kasus imigran gelap dan human trafficking, petugas juga akan menganalisis kemungkinan-kemungkinan lain. Teman saya berencana pergi mengunjungi keluarga tunangannya (bule AS). Menurut saya, sepertinya petugas curiga bahwa teman saya akan memanfaatkan visa turisnya untuk menikah (seharusnya ada visa tunangan, lebih mahal).
  3. Teman saya sangat gugup dan tegang, juga tidak menggunakan Bahasa Inggris saat interview, sehingga tidak meyakinkan petugas. Semua dokumen tambahan yang dia bawa sama sekali tidak berguna dalam kasus ini.
  4. Saya pernah mendengar cerita dari “orang dalam” bahwa kadang diterimanya permohonan visa itu tergantung mood petugas. Saya tidak tahu apakah pernyataan tersebut benar, tapi satu hal yang saya yakin: diterima atau tidaknya permohonan visa Anda itu takdir (hahaha). Kalau belum diterima sekarang, Anda bisa mencoba lagi setelah 6 bulan jika memang diperlukan.

Selamat mencoba, semoga berhasil 🙂

 

January 2015

This is an extraordinary trip as I planned to visit Manchester, but my friend happened to live in Ramsbottom, about an hour away from Manchester station. It was a pleasant surprise because it’s countryside.

I rode steam train for the first time here to Rawtenstall, where we hung around the city, got a cup of coffee at Illy’s in Whitaker Museum. We couldn’t visit too many places because we only had 3 hours, but it was a very interesting and relaxing journey.

East Lancashire Railway (the link is to the timetables and fares)

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Ramsbottom

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Ramsbottom station

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inside the train

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arrived at Rawtenstall station

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Rawtenstall station. Inside there’s a bar where you can try the local ale while waiting for your train or chatting with your friends

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took a pic of my friend, somewhere along the way…

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The Whitaker Museum

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chilling at Illy coffee shop in Whitaker Museum

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From Whitaker Museum window

It was a rainy day, but we decided that we had to go to Kanazawa no matter what. We needed our shopping in Costco.

After 5 rounds of chocolate testing and 3 rounds of saying hello to clam chowder, we bought what we wanted and headed to the place I had been wanting to go: Myoryuji templein 1-2-12 Nomachi, Kanazawa, which is famous as Ninja Temple (Ninja dera). It’s not actually made for ninjas, but it’s full of tricks just like a ninja house. We went through the back gate as we walked along Nishi Chaya, a former geisha district, first.

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Nishi Chaya. There’s a writer’s museum you can visit for free, and this district is famous with its very delicious (yet very expensive) golden chocolate or something like that

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Myoryuji back gate

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Myoryuji front gate

Sorry taking pictures is not allowed inside the temple. It costs 800 yen to enter, please make a booking beforehand (click the link to the website above). Surprisingly the temple provided guide books in so many languages!

Then we proceed to Ishikawa Prefectural Museum of History. I really love this museum because it costs only 300 yen but they provides audio guide in several languages for free. Here I could understand more about Japanese history, which impressed some of my Japanese friends because they didn’t even know some of it.

Bonus for me, it was raining and there were barely anyone but us, so I got to try a beautiful kimono (Japanese women clothing) worn by princesses in the old times. There are several other costumes people can try, BUT they suppose to be for children only. Glad that I knew that later after I took the kimono off.

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Became a Japanese princess. Photo by Suemasa Kyohei.

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My Loco Moco set

We had late lunch at Nanea Hawaiian cafe, where another friend works.

Here’s another recommendation for you if you love food:

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Dai Nana Gyoza no Mise (Dumpling Shop Number 7), 7-120 Onebu, Uchinada-cho, Kahoku-gun, Ishikawa-ken. Anyways it’s not exactly in Kanazawa but pretty close.

I love gyoza so much I ate 17 pieces of them. They have pan fried dumplings (yaki gyoza), deep friend dumplings (howaito gyoza), and steamed dumplings. Just point at the picture! 😛

Mikuni Minato Station is the last station of Mikuni-Awara line of Echizen Train / Echi-tetsu. It’s the closest to Mikuni Sunset Beach, where you can go fishing or surfing as well as watching the beautiful sunset. If you come on August, you can see Fireworks Festival too. Nearby, there’s Yuaport Onsen (hotspring) to experience the Japanese public bath for only 500 yen.

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The classic Mikuni-Minato Station

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kite surfing / kite boarding at Mikuni sunset beach

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Near sunset at Mikuni sunset beach (please pardon my phone camera – the color is uneven because of the lighting)

Walk along the beach (heading northwest) about 300m, you will find stairs going down to Tojinbo Nature Forest walking trail. Follow this path to Tojinbo Cliffs, one of the world’s most beautiful natural cliffs. The sad thing is that so many people come here to commit suicide. Thankfully there are volunteers who always patrol to rescue these people. Their basecamp is a Japanese rice cake /mochi shop near Tojinbo Tower. Then you can walk to Oshima Island, which is famous with its vermilion bridge and as a sacred place.

Other attractions of Mikuni are Echizen Matsushima Aquarium and Mikuni Museum. Mikuni also has beautiful parks with cherry blossoms (sakura) if you come on spring time. Check HERE for events information.

Around Mikuni Sunset Beach (Komegawaki area, where I lived)

Mille Graines. It’s a petite cake shop but has really pretty and yummy cakes. My suggestion: ask for seasonal cake or go for the cheese cake. The owner speaks English and a bit French. Open at 11.00 – 19.00. Closed on Sunday – Tuesday.

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One Touch Café. It was a church established by Norwegian missionaries, now run by church staffs (they speak English and some speak Chinese/Mandarin), open on Saturdays 12.00 – 15.00. One set of fine meal and free flow coffee/tea for only 500 yen. Serve limited number of people, so please make reservation. (Click HERE to see contact information of the church)

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Meal set example – salad, meatloaf, garlic bun, cake

Port Dijk Coffee. It’s a great spot to watch the sunset. Just up the hill behind One Touch Café. Closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Open at 10.00 – 17.00 (or sometimes 18.00). The owner is learning English and really loves talking to new people. The price is quite high though. (UPDATE 2018: I visited Mikuni again December last year, this coffee shop is CLOSED for good)

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L.A. Surf. Learn surfing or kite surfing/boarding while you’re here. This store is across Port Dijk. The owner speaks English and very active surfer. If he closed the store then he might be at the beach surfing! Best time to surf is autumn to beginning of winter (September-early December).

Tentsuru Noodle Shop. If you go up (heading east) from One Touch Café, then turn right and walk around 100m, you will see “てんつる” sign board. It’s classic Japanese noodle shop which is run by a family. Their katsudon (rice with deep fried pork cutlet and egg) was on the newspaper. There are 3 kinds of Japanese noodles: ramen (Chinese egg noodles), udon (chewy big noodles), and soba (buckwheat noodles). If you’re mainstream, just pick ramen. Otherwise, chikara udon (udon soup with mochi) or tempura soba (soba soup with deep fried seafood/veggies) will be good 🙂 PS. They barely speak English. Closed on Mondays. Open at 17.00 – evening (maybe 22.00 or 23.00).

Must Try

Echizen Crab. Get it with other fresh seafood around Mikuni Fish Market (across Mikuni Minato Station) or Tojinbo Cliffs shopping street. Best time to get it is October, when the crab hunting season is on. Usually there’s crab festival on the beach around 2nd week of October.

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Sakka Manjyu. It’s a traditional Japanese bun with sweet and soft mashed red bean inside and hint of sake (Japanese rice wine). The best shop to get it is Nishisaka: walk on the road across Mikuni Station (not Mikuni Minato) – heading southwest- about 200m, it’s on the left side.

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Sakka manjyu from Nishisaka – the mark on the bun shows it

Church / Sunday Service: Sundays 16.00 at The Lighthouse 749, 5-8-3 Komegawaki, next to One Touch Café. For now the 1st to 3rd Sunday service is at a church nearby Mikuni station. They also have a lot of other events like parents-children event, oil painting class, baking class, pizza party, etc. Please ask the church staffs on One Touch Café for more information or click HERE.

27 December 2014 – 2 January 2015

London – Edinburgh – Newcastle

This is a short note from my backpacking holiday with a friend. We stayed in London at a couchsurfer‘s house and in Newcastle in my cousin’s house. Sometimes we went out separately as we had different things we wanted to see. I wrote about transportation, ideal duration to explore (subjective), and landmarks.

LONDON

Tube: subway. Sometimes you will find strangers giving you their one day ticket because they don’t need it anymore but you can still use it. It will be nice if you do the same to other fellow travelers 🙂

What sucks about London in winter holiday? Too many tube stations are closed that you need to find alternative ways to get to your destination.

Best duration to explore: 3 days.

Buckingham Palace. There was changing guardian procession when I was there. I didn’t know the exact time, but you can check the website. You can also book the ticket if you’d like to see inside. I didn’t because it was too late and too expensive for a backpacker.

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London Eye. Take pictures both daytime and night time.

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London Bridge. Better take pictures night time.

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Thames River. Souvenir shopping, relax and picnic with friends.

lunch by the river...

lunch by the river…

Big Ben. Take pictures both daytime and night time.

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Westminster Abbey. I dreamed of getting married here when I was 9. This time I came for a Sunday mass. It’s still a privilege 🙂 I remember the sermon! “… and Mary ponders it in her heart.” The young virgin Mary was very humble and obedient when she received the message from angel Gabriel. May we also receive God’s message in our lives with that attitude. I was so mesmerized that I didn’t take any pictures inside.

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St. Paul’s Cathedral. I heard it has beautiful architecture and interior, but when we got there it was closed for public.

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side

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Museums. There are a lot of museums you can visit for free here. Victoria and Albert is one of the most famous one. My favorite was Science Museum. I spent so much time observing everything one by one.

Trafalgar Square. Take picture with the lion, the fountain, and the pigeons. Go the The National Gallery just behind it.

Can you see the lion? hahaha... the chicken was more interesting to me, honestly...

Can you see the lion? hahaha… the chicken was more interesting to me, honestly…

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The National Gallery

If you have time and budget, check on the schedule for musicals and watch!

EDINBURGH (SCOTLAND)

Tram. It’s easy to get to downtown by tram. Once I had a 3 years old boy sitting next to me and couldn’t stop singing, “Stop the bus I need a wee wee…” (wee wee: a slang for pee)

I stayed in Ibis Budget hotel. It has good location and value. Nearby a supermarket and tram station.

Best duration to explore: 2-3 days.

Edinburgh Castle. It’s HUGE. You might spend the whole day here. The ticket cost 16 GBP. I didn’t get in, it was too late.

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From afar

German Market. Every Christmas they will have this kind of market. They have goods, food and beverage, also mini amusement park and ice rink.

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Scott Monument. It’s really cool monument if you look at it from above. I rode this flying thing with my friends and almost thought we’re going to die.

Do you see that shining colorful thingy next to the monument? That's the ride

Do you see that shining colorful thingy next to the monument? That’s the ride

Museum on the Mound. It’s money museum where you can see a million Scottish pounds! I got a really cool souvenir as well: a keychain with shredded pounds inside. Free entrance.

that million pounds

that million pounds

made my own Scottish money

made my own Scottish money

Writer’s Museum. It’s museum of 3 famous Scottish writers: Robert Burns, Walter Scott, and Robert Louis Stevenson (the writer of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde). The museum is so small, but if you’re a book worm, better come by and see around. Free entrance.

National Museum of Scotland. This is one of the most amazing museums I’ve ever visit. They have 7 levels that I almost spent literally half day there.

A bar in the UK is a place you drink with friends but also have meals with family. We wanted to have dinner at a famous bar, but it was full, so we moved to a bar next to it. Lucky! That was Deacon Broody Tavern, the inspiration for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The food was brilliant too. If you don’t want to pay so much for your drink, just order tap water with lemon and ice (everywhere in the UK, I suppose).

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My food

My food

There are more museums and art galleries I skipped because I didn’t have enough time. I was very interested in going for The Real Mary King’s Close tour, but I had to miss it. You can visit the Edinburgh Dungeon too if you’re a fan of mystery tours.

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE

Subway will be the easiest transportation. Well, basically I stopped somewhere and walked around.

I found the accent here is quite difficult to understand, but the people are really friendly.

Hancock Museum / Museum of The Great North. Free entrance. Quite entertaining. I met my first real mummy here.

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Had an afternoon cream tea at Jesmond Dene House. Better book it online first. It was quite pricey, but the service was really good.

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There’s a surprisingly nice Asian market here. I forgot the name, sorry, but it’s quite easy to find since just around city center. You can find almost all familiar Chinese stuff like plum candies, bubble tea pearls, herbs, and seasonings.

We watched a music show and a parade at Grey’s Monument, then we walked down to the Millennium Bridge (Tyne river) to watch the new year fireworks show. I helped an Indian girl who looked so lost in the crowd, but she wasn’t that thankful and suddenly left me without saying a word after she saw her cousin coming. Anyways, I do what I expect others to do if I’m in that kind of situation. Sow and harvest someday.

Millenium bridge

Millenium bridge

fireworks

fireworks by the river

I heard that there are times that they open the Millenium Bridge, but when I was there, it seemed not in operation anymore. There’s Baltic Mill Art Gallery at the same spot too if you’re into art.

If you want to go a bit further, you can meet Angel of The North statue, the landmark of Gateshead.

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I ended my journey on the bed with heater on for 2 consecutive days at my cousin’s house. What a busy holiday…

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