Tag Archives: asia

Around Asia – Indonesia (Day 1: Malioboro Street, Kopi Joss)

Last September, I went on a 12-day trip around some places that I have been wanting to go to around Asia with my sister. It was a long shot when I first thought about this trip. We only had less than 2 weeks to plan when we decided to push through – it was definitely worth it!

To summarize our trip, here is the breakdown of where we were each day:

Day 1: Manila (Philippines) – Singapore – Yogyakarta (Indonesia)
Day 2: Borobudur (Indonesia)
Day 3: Mt. Bromo (Indonesia)
Day 4: Mt. Ijen (Indonesia)
Day 5: Mt. Bromo (Indonesia) – Surabaya (Indonesia)
Day 6: Colombo/Negombo (Sri Lanka)
Day 7: Dambulla (Sri Lanka)
Day 8: Sigiriya (Sri Lanka)
Day 9: Anuradhapura (Sri Lanka)
Day 10: Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) – Malacca (Malaysia)
Day 11: Brunei
Day 12: Brunei – Manila (Philippines)

Our first day was technically our “rest day”. We flew with Singapore Airlines from Manila to Yogyakarta via Singapore. I would have wanted to leave the airport to get some chili crabs from Jumbo but decided to stay inside instead. From my last visit (which was last May 2015), I noticed that they already renovated the food court. You can even order from any of the stalls through a vending machine.

From our early morning flight, it was already 5pm when we arrived in Yogyakarta. It was almost 7pm when we finally headed out from the airport. The line exiting from the baggage counters to the immigration took awhile; something I definitely did not expect.

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We stayed at Inna Garuda for our first night. For one, this hotel was built in 1908 which definitely has some history behind it. It is also strategically located in Malioboro Street which is probably the most popular area to go to in Yogyakarta.

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Our visit was timely as they were celebrating Eid al-Adha so there was a lot of happening around the city. The first stop we went to was to try some Kopi Joss (Charcoal Coffee) from Angkringan Kopi Joss Pak Agus. This drink literally has a hot charcoal dunked in your coffee. It is said to have some health benefits from the activated carbon of the charcoal. We also tried some of their chicken satay which was our first meal in Yogyakarta.

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Keep in mind that most (if not all) establishments do not serve pork as with all other Muslim countries. I had to learn this the hard way as I kept forgetting about this and would sometimes ask if they had pork on the menu. Same thing happened when we visited A&W in Surabaya on Day 5. I was craving for some Coney Dog but of course… Definitely my bad!

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How to get here: go to the opposite direction of Malioboro Street and you will find a train track. Keep walking ahead and you will see this establishment to your right along with other stalls and street vendors.

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Afterwards, we headed back to Malioboro Street and walked around for a bit. There are a lot of side streets that you may also want to check as well. We ended up in one of those to try some more local food.

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My sister really enjoyed trying out new dishes but I was the complete opposite. I have a bad tolerance for spicy food which is why I even forgot about taking a photo of where we ate afterwards. I did enjoy some of the Indonesian dishes we tried in the latter part of the trip as long as it was not spicy. We ended up going to a mall close by so I can order some McDonald’s to go before we headed back to the hotel.

It was probably around 10pm at this point and our call time was at 4AM the next day. Little did I know that 4AM was already late compared to the time we had to wake up for the next few days. We asked for it!

Hanoi (Day 2: Halong Bay, Bia Hoi Corner)

For our second day in Hanoi, we booked a Halong Bay day tour in the Halong Phoenix Cruiser via Blue Dragon Tours. The voucher we purchased online cost us around USD $52.00 per person. Hotel pick-up and drop-off is included in the package.

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We were picked-up at around 8:30 am in a mini bus that will head straight to Halong City. Of course, the tour would not be complete without your usual tourist trap stopover.

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It was almost 2 pm when we arrived at the docks. Since we did some careful research on the junk we will be boarding, the Phoenix Cruiser did not disappoint and we got exactly what we booked for.

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We were lucky to be able to book a boat that is not fully occupied as I would have imagined a less enjoyable experience. Our guide, Hai, told us that the big group booked on our tour decided to take the overnight boat instead. We were only 7 in the group that day.

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As we cruised along the bay, you can already see the limestone formations a few minutes after departing the dock. The formations are similar to the ones I have seen in Coron, Palawan. In Halong Bay, you experience foggy cold weather as you cruise along the bay versus the summer island vibe in Coron. If you had to ask me which one is better, I would have to tell you to experience both.

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Our first stop was a floating village called Ba Hang. We moved to a smaller boat that was maneuvered by a female local. Though there were lots of tourists from other junk operators, Halong Bay still felt calm and quiet.

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The last stop of the tour was Thien Cung Cave. Comparing this cave to the one I visited in Sagada (Philippines), which was dark, damp and had bat guano everywhere, this cave is lighted and well-kept.

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The cave looks nice, especially in photos, but it looks too touristy for me at times. Then again, maybe the whole Halong Bay tour is. I still enjoyed it though!

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It was time to go back to Hanoi. One of our tourmates joined us after the trip. We decided to head to Bia Hoi Corner. You can locate this area along Ta Hien and Luong Ngoc Street.

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The street is all lined-up with locals and tourists all seated beside each other in small stools. We decided to grab some cold bia hoi in one of the shops near the front. Apparently, not all shops sell this local beer.

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As the night passed, our group grew in to six people. That being two locals who recently attended a language school in Hanoi and were practicing their English as well as the peer of our tourmate who we were just talking about. Four different countries represented at our table.

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Time to rest after the shop ran out of bia hoi. Cheers!

Hanoi (Day 3: Imperial Citadel, Pho Bo, Egg Coffee, Legend Beer)

– The Tourist Pao