Restaurants are everywhere, but if you're looking for something unusual, then Moscow is one of the best places to visit. Having a long history beginning with the immigration of the Russ to the downfall of USSR, Moscow has been influenced by its neighbors. It's no wonder there are hundreds of Georgian restaurants, Armenian food, and traditional Ukrainian restaurants on the street, trying to attract more visitors.
Korchma — Taras Bulba was actually a fictional character in one of Nikolay Gogol’s masterpieces. He was described as a Zaporozhian Cossack who went to battle against Poland. His appearance — with his unique ponytail — has become the official logo for this chain of restaurants.
Because it's a chain, you can find it not only in Novokuznetskaya Metropolitan station, but also in other places. Another is located not far from Biblioteka Imeni Lenina Metropolitan station.
The restaurant is authentically decorated. You will see beautiful curtains made of traditional Ukrainian fabric, dozens of jars filled with fermented cucumbers, tomatoes, and berries, even some tools for gardening, hunting, and, of course, paintings.
There is a lot of variety in the food and price. If you come during the summer and mushroom (lisichka) season has started, then I recommend you try them with bread (pampushki), berry juice (mors), borsch (Ukrainian borsch) and appetizers such as baked sweet pumpkin.
The waiters are dressed in traditional costume too, so if you want, you can take a picture with them.
It's not related with the picture above
Unfortunately, I had an unpleasant experience the last time I was there. I visited the restaurant twice, once in Biblioteka Imeni Lenina and the other in Novokuznetskaya station. The waiter was friendly and recommended the ‘menu of the day’. Overall, she was professional — the type of waitress you dream about — and could have been nominated as ‘waitress of the month’.
We ordered too much food, more than our tummy could handle. So, we asked for a doggy bag, and do you know what happened next? That friendly waitress changed her mind and started to treat us like we stole the food! She didn’t smile, didn't respond to my ‘Thank you,’ and looked incredibly annoyed with us.
Was I wrong to ask for a doggy bag because the food was too delicious to be left behind? It's still a mystery to me.
But, I was quite satisfied with the food and the price... so, I will try to forget the unpleasant moment with the waitress.
The address of the restaurant:
ул. Моховая, 8, стр. 1, Москва, Россия, 119019 (Ulitsa Mokhovaya, 8, stroiteley 1, Moscow)
ул. Пятницкая, 14, Москва, Россия, 115035 (Ulitsa Pyatnitskaya, 14, Moscow)
Смоленский бульвар, 12, Москва, Россия, 119002 (Smolenskiy Bulvar, 12, Moscow)
I recommend you try other places, except the one in Novokuznetskaya if you want to take the doggy bag with you.
Indonesians are super friendly. Indonesians are chatterboxes.
I’ve heard those things a million times from visitors to my beloved country. So, what do I think about that?
That’s such a hard question. Indonesians are amiable and easy to talk to, especially if you speak our language, Bahasa Indonesian. Others that don't speak the language are no less friendly.
We're simply friendly and like to talk, question, and gossip. If you're a foreigner living in Indonesia, or you're just simply a tourist, you might consider it as great hospitality while still in the ‘honeymoon phase’. You'll have this feeling that everything is still fine, beautiful, nice. This usually lasts up to two weeks of your vacation, but sometimes lasts longer. During that phase, you won’t mind talking to an amiable, unknown stranger you met at the warung (small kiosk), or a friendly seller, etc. But after the honeymoon phase ends, you'll soon become a really quiet person, keeping away from anyone you think might ask you something.
We love asking. Questions are the best way to open a warm, long-lasting (sometimes everlasting) conversation. There are many questions in Indonesia that are considered polite that you might think are really mmm... impolite, offensive, or blunt. Based on my long, rich experience as a native, here are the most frequently asked questions in Indonesia:
Other extreme questions:
Aaannnddd, thousands of questions I can’t even describe here.
How should you react?
I love my own culture, and I love Indonesia, but that doesn’t mean I approve of all the questions Indonesians ask. We are friendly, but sometimes, to be frank, we are quite annoying (even to other Indonesians). We ask so many questions because we care too much, even though it's certainly not our business.
Have a great adventure in Indonesia!
After spending a night watching the Water Festival and sitting for too long on the bus, what we needed was to sleep like logs. Yet, our (actually, my) enthusiasm about exploring Phnom Penh successfully beat what we called our tiredness. Right after coming back to the hotel, with the help of a super map and guide book we ‘stole’ from the receptionist’s area, we made a list of places we’d like to visit around Sisowath Quay.
Some tuk-tuk drivers who stood in front of our hotels offered us a short or long journey around the capital. Usually, they handed you a list of places along with the picture and the price. So, you can directly adjust your budget and they won’t rip you off with their price. Most of the places they suggested are located outside the Sisowath Quay, such as Wat Phnom, Independence Monument, Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, and Choeung Ek.
For the last two, we had made a decision not to visit them. Why? We thought that it was enough seeing how bad the war was in the Vietnam War Remnants Museum. Moreover, what had happened in Cambodia is a nightmare not only for the locals, but also for me even though I’m just a tourist. It doesn’t mean that I don’t feel sorry for them, but to be honest such places always reduce me to tears. Tears of remorse about what has happened in Cambodia in the past, tears of anger and tears of deep sadness. Therefore, please don’t be surprised if you don’t find any posts about those two places on my blog.
Back to the main theme, about tuk-tuk. They can bring you all over the town with really affordable price, or if you are a real penny-pinching person, you can walk around only in Sisowath Quay like we did on the first and second day.
National Museum of Cambodia
Entrance fee: 10 USD (2017)
I won’t tell you that the entrance fee will break your bank, but if you are not a fan of museums, antiquities, or historical artefacts, you’d better stay outside and take some pictures without buying the entrance ticket. This is Cambodia’s largest museum of cultural history and archeology and is dedicated to aficionados of art, especially Khmer art, including sculptural, ceramics, bronzes, and ethnographic objects.
The building itself has an elegant facade, with a traditional pattern on its roof and an exquisite warm color, in this case red brick, dominating the outside and the wings.
The Royal Palace
Despite being an official residence of King Sihamoni, The Royal Palace is still open to the public. Although, of course, we can’t visit all parts of the palace – the visit is limited only to the throne hall and a clutch of buildings surrounding it.
But it’s more than enough for me admiring its super classic Khmer Roof, decorated ornately and dominated by the color of gold. To enter the building, there are some rules you need to adhere to: you are not allowed to wear shorts or a tank top. If you do, the shorts must reach your knees and the t-shirt or blouse must cover your elbows. If you don’t know the rules, don’t worry, at the ticket booth they sell some appropriate sarong for visitors who are dressed too sexy. :) Is it worth to visit? Yes, it is.
Walking along the Sisowath Quay
When you are staying on Sisowath Quay, the most appropriate thing to do is walk around the district and stroll along the riverbank, because it’s beautiful, especially if the weather is nice and the day is not a real scorcher. Besides the river and a great view overlooking the Tonle Sap River, you can also enjoy some snacks from the food stalls around it, varying from crepes to fried sweet potatoes.
Watching traditional dance
Something that I skipped but is worth doing in Sisowath Quay is watching the traditional dancing. The dance is normally held in a place close to the National Museum of Cambodia with an entrance fee of 10 or 15 USD. The ticket can be bought directly from the ticket booth.
And what if you are tired of Sisowath Quay (which is impossible)?
SHOP TILL YOU DROP IN THE RUSSIAN MARKET!
Phnom Penh, as a fast growing capital, offers not only hundreds of historical places to visit, but also an overwhelming number of places to shop, starting from local boutiques up to international ones. With a great number of choices of products, I bet you won’t stop until your wallet tells you you have to. Note: maybe this only applies only to shopaholics, but believe me, I needed to ‘survive’ thousands of interesting things and shops along the Sisowath Quay, and at the end I was enchanted by a local clothing store.
A store in Cambodia is not just a store. Most of the time, they are built by the foundations to raise funds, which may be for war victims, the handicapped, or the poor. So, while you are shopping, you also donating some of your money to them. What a great idea!
Besides local stores that are situated a stone’s throw away from your hotel, you can also visit some Phsars (Khmer for market). Among the five or more markets scattered around the capital – Bayon Market, Old Market, Olympic Market, Orussey Market, and Central Market – I decided to visit the Russian Market a.k.a Toul Tum Poung. Its name successfully lured me to come, not because my husband is Russian, but mostly because I wanted a souvenir for myself: a magnet for the refrigerator. So, accompanied by our friendly tuk-tuk driver (he was really friendly – he charged us 6 USD one way and 12 USD return, and waited for us while we went around the market for no additional fee), we explored the market.
There are more than ten sections inside the market: clothes, spare parts for motorcycles and cars, food, antiques and art, books and stationery, luggage and bags, tools and paint, beauty salons and cosmetics, tailors, CD/DVD, watches and jewelry, general house appliances, Khmer handicraft, silk, electronics, and fresh produce. Entering the building of the Phsar made me feel like Harry Potter inside the maze on the third task of The Triwizard Tournament. You MUST remember where the entrance is if you don’t want to get lost inside. The best way to prevent the problem is by reading and studying the map one day before you go.
By the way, why is it called the Russian Market? It’s not because they sell Russians, or because the sellers are Russian, or because they sell ‘secret additional products’ like AK-47s, Vodka and all that jazz – this name has become popular as most of the visitors in the past were Soviets, who lived not so far from the area.
Keep in mind that Phsars in Asia may be big, busy, hot, and confusing like a maze. Here, what you need is comfortable clothes, a bottle of mineral water, and a high level of patience. Happy shopping!
Life is an adventure, and MY life is that kind. Wherever I go, unexpected things always happen, whether good or bad, pleasant or annoying. The good thing is I always have something to write about. Maybe that’s God's way of helping me stay on my path: rambling about something unimportant in my blog, or my diary if I still had it.
When we go to the hotel in Phnom Penh, I stretched for a few minutes, jumped on my bed to see how soft it was, and, of course, filled my tummy. The owner of the hotel proudly told us that we were lucky to come at that time since the Water Festival was being held near our hotel. What came to mind when I heard that was a street battle with water pistols, or buckets of water like in Thailand. That instant, I decided not to take part in the festival, not because I am boring (actually, I am) but mostly because I had flu. A bucket of cold water wouldn’t cure my sickness. However, it was holy water, and the cause of my sickness was possession or something similar.
It was a real surprise. The Water Festival, or Bon Om Touk (The Pirogue Racing Festival), was totally different from what I had imagined. Instead of a group of people shooting each other with water pistols, I saw boats, beautifully decorated with lamps, sailing along the Tonle Sap river.
This festival is considered the most magnificent festival in Phnom Penh. It lasts for 3 days, giving people an opportunity to take part. The first day was opened by an important ceremony: The Illuminated Float (Loy Pratip) where dozens of boats glow with beautiful decorations against the dark sky. The second day involved the Moon Salutation (Sampeas Preah Khe), which I watched on TV as it was impossible to reach the river bank with thousands, or even millions, of people having picnics by the river. The third day was devoted to battle, as teams from various provinces around in Cambodia competed with each other to become the champion.
We tried to reach the higher level by visiting rooftop bars. Unfortunately, there was no room, or if there was room, some tourists wouldn't let us sit down since they needed two chairs for one person.
And why is the festival related to the boats?
According to history, Khmer King used to battle enemies by sailing. He created this yearly festival to choose the best sailor, who would then be recruited into the army.
When is it held? It is held around November: the last time we went, it was on the 3rd of November.
Tips for enjoying the festival:
If you are good at geography, you might remember that Vietnam and Cambodia share international borders. In total, there are 5 ‘gates’ you can easily meander from one country to the other and back again.
Sometimes I envy the convenience of belonging to a country located on the mainland. I live in Indonesia, an archipelago country surrounded by sea, and cannot travel by bus to other countries from Kalimantan (Borneo). I always have to go by plane or journey forever on a boat, ferry, or cruise. I wasn’t made for it; I wasn’t meant to be a sailor or pirate. Just thinking about 1 day on a boat, even 1 hour or 10 minutes alone is enough to torture me!
So, I was so relieved to know I could go by bus, not an airplane or boat, to my next destination.
Getting to Cambodia
There are hundreds of travel agents in Vietnam that offer coaches at affordable prices. They also guarantee your journey will be pleasant, unforgettable, and amazing. Yeah, sometimes it happens, the trip is really awful and you can’t stop thinking about it. That's why you should be careful when choosing a bus, where you will spend 8 or 9 hours.
Are you an adventurer and think that going by bus would be boring? You can go by boat, but I don’t suggest it and have heard it was really awful. The boats are not very reliable (normally), the journey takes longer than by bus, and if you can't swim, be prepared to worry the whole trip. But, it's not impossible. Some travel agents have special offers for crossing the border by river. You need to purchase a tour from Vietnam, stay somewhere and continue the journey till the end. This will take 3-4 days I don’t have.
Plane? Sure, but it’s expensive and I won’t feel that safe, even though it only takes a couple of hours.
So, I chose the bus. I chose Giant Ibis because they are reliable, comfortable, cheap and fast. Tickets can be booked in advance through the site or bought directly from the agent. http://giantibis.com/
The ticketing office in Ho Chi Minh is located at this address:
237 Phạm Ngũ Lão, Phường Phạm Ngũ Lão, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
+84 120 890 2333
Large buses are usually taken for long journeys, and medium coaches for trips of medium distance (3-4 hours). Giant Ibis offers full service which will help you get your visa or stamp at the border. Check whether you need a visa to enter Cambodia.
They will collect your passport before the journey, complete the immigration forms, and save them until you cross the border. You don’t need to be afraid of losing your passport, because they will give it back as soon as you pass the immigration check.
Besides visa service, they also serve snacks or a meal with a drink during the journey. Passengers are free to bring their own food, as long as it is not durian (I think). In summary, here are the facilities you'll get with Giant Ibis:
My opinion of the bus:
The drivers were careful, so you won’t need to hold your breath like you're watching Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton competing. The AC works well and the food is enough. Remember guys, it’s not a restaurant, so please don’t complain if they don't have much variety in their menu, or they don't serve hot coffee or tea. It costs less than 50 dollars per person, so be reasonable. Before passing the Cambodian border, the bus will stop at a restaurant where you can fill your tummy before continuing the journey.
Arriving in Cambodia
When to go to Cambodia?
The best time to visit Cambodia is from November to March. Even though Cambodia is warm-year round, you should be prepared for a brief shower or even heavy rain if you choose the wrong month. Just keep in mind that May to October is the wet season and November to March is the dry season, so the price is higher compared to the wet season.
Based on my experience, November is a good choice. The weather was fine, although we were interrupted by a brief shower on the second and third day. Believe me, it was nothing and won’t affect your journey.
Where to stay?
Sorry to say, Singapore is the most expensive country in Southeast Asia (correct me If I'm wrong). Cambodia is like the others: cheap and affordable. As a country that is developing their tourism, Cambodia has an overwhelming number of choices of hotels that are spread throughout the big tourist cities of Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Kampot, Sihanoukville, and so forth. To be close to the main attractions in Phnom Penh, you can try the Sisowath Quay area.
Sisowath Quay is actually a long boulevard located along the intersection of the Tonle Sap and Mekong Rivers. Basically it’s the river bank, and is the best place to witness the water festival that is usually held in November. The other advantage of staying in Sisowath Quay is the distance. The National Museum of Cambodia and the Royal Palace are just a stone’s throw away, there are millions of restaurants and cafes (local or international), and hundreds of travel agents if you later decide to visit other cities in Cambodia.
Which currency do they use?
Although the official currency of Cambodia is the Cambodian Riel, most people prefer to use the US Dollar. The Cambodian Riel is used for buying small things, while the US Dollar is for paying at hotels, restaurants or cafes. If you want to try some street food, you can also pay with the USD. So, bringing a wallet full of USD will come in handy. Please keep in mind that most places in Cambodia won’t accept credit cards. But, don’t worry, ATMs are everywhere.
How about the language?
They speak Khmer but in touristic spots, most people can speak English. Cambodians are very friendly, and they won’t overcharge you or try to deceive you, especially if you need to go by tuk-tuk. The most common price is $3 to $6 (if very far from your departure point).
Depends on the hotel. If your hotel has a good internet connection, lucky you. Otherwise, you might need to pray or buy a SIM card which will be quite expensive compared to Indonesia, Malaysia or Vietnam. I have tried Cell Card and had no idea how to use it. The internet service lasted for only one day after I loaded it with $10 (I used it to get a hotspot). To find more information about the card: https://www.cellcard.com.kh/en/
What to bring along?
Ojek, or taxibike, is considered one of the most important modes of public transportation in Indonesia, compared to others like buses, trains, or bicycles. They are quite famous. In the middle of a terrible traffic jam, ojek, or taxibike, is the perfect choice not just because of their cheapness but also because the amount of time we spend in an ojek is shorter than what we would spend on the bus.
Departing from this typical practice, some creative entrepreneurs decided to establish a very interesting business that later become a new trend. It sounds like a lot, but believe it or not this company offers not only ojeks but also a dozen other services. So I gladly present, Go-Jek (I am not being paid and this is not an advertisement).
Online taxibike, also known as Ojek Daring in Bahasa, Indonesia, has mushroomed in recent years. Wherever I look, I see the ojek drivers wearing their own company’s jacket, whether it’s green, orange, or even pink, as if they are part of a flash mob carnival. However, to be honest I just tried Ojek for the first time last year. What a shame. Yes, this was mostly because I felt sympathy for the Ojek in Pangkalans (a base for ojek, which normally can be found on every street corner, depending on the agreements between Ojekers). I thought, "who would use them if everybody prefers to get an Ojek Online?"
Then, my mind changed. According to my simple research, Ojek Online is:
Go-Jek itself was established in 2010 as a two-wheel public mode of transportation that could be ordered through a mobile application. As time went by, the owner decided to add some more facilities and services to expand his customer base.
Read more about Go-Jek at this link: https://www.go-jek.com/
The additional services, besides Go-Jek itself, are Go-Glam (so you can order a hairdresser to your home), Go-Clean (for ordering cleaning services), Go-Massage (just guess what this is), Go-Blue Bird (the most famous Taxi in Indonesia, especially in big cities like Jakarta), and Go-Food.
My favorite is Go-Food. Like two sides of same coin, Go-Food brings a great benefit to Indonesians, but at the same time enhances our laziness. You can order whatever food you want restaurants nearby, or even more than 13 kilometers away, without moving from your sofa, except if you don’t have money and need to get it from the ATM.
How do you use it?
The food is divided into several categories, starting from sweets and going through Korean food. So you need to decide which one you want and open the relevant page. Once it is open, you will see a generous list of restaurants available nearby. Open the one you want and check out their menu.
Step 2: On the same page, you will see these categories
After greedily ordering everything you need, you need to make sure that your address is correct. Then you will see the delivery fee, which depends on the distance (normally 9.000 IDR, but during rush hour or on a busy day it could be more). Then, click ‘order’. The system automatically finds you a driver who will contact you and re-confirm your order.
Just wait for about 30 minutes and the food is there. If you like the service, give your driver 5 stars! Or even a tip!
Your ‘stars’ will greatly affect their rating, so please be smart when you're inputting the rating. A minor mistake shouldn’t be punished with 4 or even fewer stars, because if the drivers get low ratings they could be punished by the company or even be fired!
Application can be download in Appstore both for Android or iOS.
Shame is when you are a Jakartan (or somebody who lives nearby) but you don’t know what to say whenever someone asks you the really hard and complicated question: “What should I visit in Jakarta?” That’s totally me. For your information, I lived in a city close to Jakarta (they said so, even though it takes around 1 hour by train, 2 hours by car or even 3 hours by public transport in a rush hour to get from my hometown in Bekasi to Jakarta) for more than 20 years before my sudden migration to Russia. During that time, I was so busy living my life and building my career in a big company - Procrastinator Ltd - that I didn’t have any spare time to visit the hundreds of interesting places spread around the capital.
But now? I am a happy freelancer and, as a fake tourist, I am able to mooch about, hunting for 'interesting', 'quite interesting', or even 'interesting enough to visit' places. Here are my must-see lists:
This is a 132-meter tall tower situated right in the middle of the Merdeka Square (Merdeka means Independence). Due to its name, you might guess that the tower was erected to commemorate our struggle to seize the independence from the colonialists. That’s absolutely correct. Besides the tower, in which you are able to learn a bit about our history (you can enter the building by paying a fee), the National Monument has also become a stunning park to visit. 10 or 15 years ago, this park was no more than a space filled with carts of street food and rubbish. Thanks to our governor (now he is our president), this park looks more friendly and is convenient to visit.
My suggestion: visit this park during working hours (especially on Fridays) if you don’t want to be bothered by too many visitors.
How to get there: You can reach the National Monument by taking a taxi or simply jumping into TransJakarta — stop at the station ‘Monumen Nasional’.
The Dutch, who occupied our land for more than 300 years, left not only their influence on our daily life but also a bunch of museums that can be found around the cities. One of the most interesting museums for me was the Maritime Museum. Located around 15 minutes by taxi from the Old Town, the Maritime Museum is seldom visited by the tourists, both local and international. Maybe because of its not-so-strategic location, or maybe because of a lack of promotion from the government, who always focus on tourist sites that are more central.
The museum itself provides some fascinating displays, from boats to shells and samples of fish that are usually found in our territory. Also, they provide a short history about the Portuguese, Dutch, Arab, Chinese and other traders who came to Indonesia and sold their commodities.
Taman Fatahillah (in English simply translated as “Fatahillah Park”) is actually a square with a total area of around 1,300 square meters. Back in the day, the square itself was the place where executions usually took place. Even now, you can still find the underground jail if you go inside the Museum Fatahillah, which before was known as the first Stadhuis.
The dark history behind its function during the era of colonization doesn’t make this square less beautiful or less worth a visit. On the weekend or during the holidays, both locals and foreign tourists like to spend time in this area, not only because there are so many things to do, but also because there are so many things to eat! Yep, 2 years ago the local government made a regulation to manage the hustle and bustle of the street vendors around this area, but nowadays as we have a new governor, the square has turned into a ‘sudden market’ with hundreds of street vendors — which is good, but also bad at the same time, because…. Indonesians like to litter. So, don’t be surprised if you find rubbish everywhere.
Besides the Stadthuys and the square. you will also find two other big museums close by: Wayang (shadow puppet theater) and Museum of Fine arts and Ceramics.
I am not a fan of art. Anytime I visit a gallery, I need to prepare myself like I have exams or something. I must read and reread the booklet, brochure or whatever printed information they have just to get lost inside the gallery. Even then I can’t fully comprehend what the painters or artists want to tell through their masterpiece even though I’ve tried so hard.
The National Gallery, which is located right in front of Gambir Station, displays both local and international masterpieces, from paintings to sculptures and compositions.
Since it’s hard to find Indonesians who are really interested in art, you will find this gallery is always empty and makes you feel like you're at home in your own gallery.
Tips: don’t be afraid to try any museums in Jakarta. The entrance fee is always 5 dollars or even less!
Do a Safari in Bali? Are you kidding me?
No, I am not. However, what I mean by a safari here isn’t like a safari you can find in Africa, camping in a tent, trekking through the wilderness, trying to capture a moment with the wildlife. Nope. It’s far from it. However, we do have things like safaris in certain areas, on certain islands such as Komodo Island, East Java and so forth. Here, we won’t talk about these safaris, but a man-made safari, which is located on one of the most visited islands in Indonesia, Bali.
As usual, Bali has much to offer. With an overwhelming number of things to see and to do, you will certainly never have a boring stay here. Want a beach? They have it. Read my post about the beach: (link), nightclubs and bars, mountains, temples, paddy terraces… they have everything you need to enjoy your vacation.
After stopping at almost all the main destinations in Bali, laying around on the balmy white sand, and soaking up the sun, we decided to visit something that later became one of the must visit destinations on every vacation we take: the zoo park. As with any other region in Indonesia, Bali has more than one zoo park, each with different concepts.
Location: Singapadu, Sukawati, Gianyar, Bali 80582, Indonesia
This zoo park is an ordinary zoo park that mostly shows you the fauna world of Indonesia. The animals vary and the area is divided into sections, for example “Kampung Sumatra” for animals come from Sumatra, Gibbon Island, and of course a petting zoo for kids + a photo booth if you really need to update your status, along with take a picture for your Instagram or Facebook.
To get around the zoo, a car is unnecessary because you can simply walk on the footpath. Even on a real scorcher of a day, you won’t get sun-baked, as the area is really green and full of trees.
PLUS: You can set your own journey, with no need to dash around. With a map in your hand and a bottle of fresh local mineral water, you can do things on your own time without any need to be in a hurry. Stop at the orangutan cage for an hour? Nobody will be mad at you. Taking as many selfies as you can with a giraffe? No one will tell you to leave.
MINUS: Your journey depends on the weather. If it rains or is too hot, I don't think it will be enjoyable to walk around the zoo.
Bali Safari Park
Location: Jalan Bypass Prof. Dr. Ida Bagus Mantra Km. 19,8 Kec. Gianyar, Bali 80551, Indonesia
The Safari Park is quite popular among Indonesians. The two biggest Safari Parks are located on West Java and on Bali. The concept is different from a normal zoo. Here you need to join a group in a full covered car that will take you around the area. Simply speaking, it’s almost like a real safari, but here the habitat is man-made instead of a real one like in Africa. But I think this is good enough to give it a try, especially if you want to see how the animals behave in an open space without cages.
PLUS: you don’t need to feel bad for the animals, because they are free from cages. They can walk anywhere around the area. If you are a lazybones and have no power to walk in the unpleasant humidity, this kind of trip is a big plus. They will take you around inside a car with full air conditioning.
If you have kids, this safari won’t make you sweat chasing your enthusiastic kids around.
MINUS: You can't set your own pace. You are in a group of unknown people and the time you spend with each animal normally depends on the driver's or guide's generosity.
Since I was a toddler, I always dreamt of being an astronout. It is probably because I was a big fan of a Manga cartoon from Japan, “Sailor Moon”, and thought that by flying to space I would get to meet them… Or! It was just my hidden passion that still remains today. I have always been interested in cosmic things: planets, the solar system, black holes, the big bang theory, and all that jazz. Unfortunately, living in Indonesia means that I need to bury it deeply as we don’t have enough resources or facilities related to the cosmos, space, and so on.
When I moved to Russia, I felt that the universe helped me to rebuild my scattered-in-pieces dream. Everybody knows that, besides the USA, Russia has always been the most ambitious about space. Since The Cold War, they have both been competing in all aspects of life, and one of the biggest, hottest and most popular themes at the time was journeying to space.
Yeah, I feel that I am in the right place finally. Of course, it doesn’t mean that I applied to be a cosmonaut (Russian astronout). I know that it is undoubtedly impossible and that I am too old to be trained; plus, I realized that the older I get, the worse I am at understanding technical things. But at least they have a handful of interesting museums – space museums, scattered around the capital! They are waiting to be explored.
Space and Engineering Pavilion at VDNKh
As I mentioned in my previous post, VDNKh is not only about the park – they have lots of things on display, and one of them is the Space and Engineering Pavilion. The museum, which was opened to the public on April 13th this year (I think), provides some real samples and miniature models of the technology used by the Russians or the International Space Station in space.
Around the building, you will find samples of Russian masterpieces, such as a rocket – Vostok (East), a fighter plane, a helicopter, and a passenger jet (Yak-42). Those displays are my favorite ones because I love how the Russians design their fighter aircraft (my favorite is the Mig), while at the same time I feel that my dream has finally come true – seeing a rocket (not actual size, admittedly, but it’s big enough) with my very own eyes.
The entrance fee is 500 rubles. This is quite expensive but it is worth it. To avoid the queue, you can buy your tickets online here: https://cosmos.vdnh.ru/ (the site is only available in Russian).
The museum is almost like an open space, divided into two floors with a big hall that displays a huge globe.
As I am not a cosmonaut, I will just explain some of the displays briefly.
Picture 1: a capsule, used by cosmonauts to come back to Mother Earth. It burnt as it passed through the atmosphere. Thank God, If I have had been one of the cosmonauts who needed to fly back to earth, the capsule would definitely have been very messy because of all the vomit...
Picture 2: Nozzle (the main engine) – the spaceships use the nozzle to expel hot exhaust gas to produce thrust. Simply speaking, this part is something that you will see when a space shuttle touches down.
Picture 3: Space suit from the time of the USSR.
Picture 4: Space food. The food must meet the requirement of not only the tasting good (quite good I bet), but also the nutrition for individuals working in space. The menu itself varies, depending on the country – For USSR cosmonauts, they packed soup (borscht, kharcho, even pancake!).
Picture 5: Medical equipment in space.
Picture 6: A display of a space station on the ceiling of the museum. Note: Almaz was a highly secret Soviet military space program that began in the early ’60s (ow..ow..ow...)
Picture 7: A map of a cosmodrome in Russia (a launching site for spacecraft). They are located in Plesetsk, Kapustin, Baikonur (the most famous one), Yasniy, and Vostochniy.
Picture 8: Interactive game. As a technician in space, you need to set an adequate fuel mixture, repair the nozzle, etc. It isn't a fun game because we need to think much here (for me).
Picture 9: Interactive room that displays space with video.
Picture 10: A simulation area for launching the spacecraft. What you need to do is choose a seat as one of the launcher team, choose your rocket, and wait for the countdown.
Picture 11: Satellite with solar panel. It might be used for communication, earth observation, or military needs (even for spying on somebody – oops).
Besides all the displays, you can also get some more information about who invented the space station, the history behind it, and so on the descriptions available almost everywhere in the museum.
Is it good for kids?
Yes it is. But probably not for under 5 years old, I think. For adults who are crazy about space, this place is perfect to satisfy your curiosity.
How do I get there?
As it is still in the complex of VDNKh, you can read my previous post: http://www.sightseersdiary.com/blog/vdnkh
VDNKh, which stands for Vystavka Dostizheniy Narodnogo Khozyaystva, or in English – The Exhibition of Achievements of the National Economy – is an official area that was built to be an exhibition and amusement park. Having a long history behind its establishment, such as a number of delays during the process, changes to the statues’ designs, names and so forth, VDNKh is considered a must-visit place during your stay in Moscow.
Why do you need to visit this place?
To be honest, this was the first time I paid the VDNKh a visit even though I have been living here for more than 4 years. That’s not because I am a super-lazy ass, but because the location is quite a long way from my ‘palace’. Therefore, right after I came back from Indonesia, after I restarted my brain, I decided to discover places I hadn’t been to before.
Although the name is always associated with exhibitions (all kinds of exhibitions), VDNKh, which occupies more than 2 square kilometres, is divided into sections, pavilions, and museums (Russians love museums, which is why you will find museums almost everywhere in the city), and is used by Moskvich as tourists as a place of recreation.
If you go by monorail or trolleybus, you can stop right in front of the main gate. If you go to VDNKh by subway, it's about a 5-10 minute walk from the station. When you reach the place, you will find a huge entrance gate in the Propylaea style, along with a statue of a man and a woman holding a bunch of wheat on the top of it (Тракторист и колхозница; Tractor Driver and Kolkhoz Woman).
According to the official site of VDNKh, here are the pavilions:
No. 1 Central;
No. 2 Popular Education;
No. 6 Chemistry;
No. 8 Young Naturalists;
No. 13 Health;
No. 15 Radio Electronics and Communication (Povolzhye) since the 1960–1970s.
No. 30 Microbiology;
No. 31 Geology;
No. 32/34 Space and Engineering;
No. 44 Rabbit Breeding;
No. 58 Agriculture;
No. 59 Grain;
No. 62 Environment Protection;
No. 64 Optics;
No. 66 Culture;
No. 67 Karelia;
No. 71 Atomic Power; Green Theater; Main Entrance; Southern Entrance, facades of the Central alley were repaired; metal false facades that were covering the gables of the pavillions were removed.
There are also pavilions from CIS countries such as:
Pavilion No. 6 - Republic of Abkhazia;
Pavilion No. 11 - Republic of Kazakhstan;
Pavilion No. 14 - Republic of Azerbaijan;
Pavilion No. 18 - Republic of Belarus;
Pavilion No. 68 - Republic of Armenia.
When I was there, some of them were still under reconstruction so I couldn’t enter the buildings. Inside each building you will find many kinds of local products from the related country, from the clothes to food and candy.
Besides the museums and pavilions, VDNKh has two famous and stunning fountains. The first one, close to the main entrance, is the “Friendship of the People (Druzhba Narodov)” fountain and the second one is the “Stone Flower” fountain.
The “Friendship of the People (Druzhba Narodov)” Fountain
This fountain is the largest fountain in the area and was built according to the design of the architect and craftsman K.T. Topuridze, and the engineer V.I. Klyavin, along with a team of sculptors. The sculptures itself consists of 16 girls, covered with gold leaf, symbolizing the republics of the USSR before 1956. In the middle of the fountain you can find a statue of a flower in the plan view, which blends into the bowl-shaped sheaf of spikes and sunflowers.
The “Stone Flower” Fountain
Stone Flower was actually a fairy-tale film created by Alexander Ptushko, which was released right after the war in 1946, and was very popular. Later, in 1949, Sergei Prokofiev composed the ballet “Mistress of the Copper Mountain” (which was inspired by this fairy-tale) and was on stage for the first time in the Bolshoi Theatre.
Places to Eat
From all the places to eat available here, I recommend you try Ararat Restaurant, which is situated in the Armenian Pavilion, for a big lunch. They serve authentic local dishes with generous portions and very affordable prices.
If you just want a snack, Druzhba Cafe (Cafe Friendship) serves coffee, tea, and some pastries while you enjoy the fountains right in front of your seat.
Food stalls are available, but they mostly just sell cotton candy, apple or hazelnuts in caramel, and boiled corn or popcorn. If you don’t want to pay stupid money for a bottle of mineral water, don’t forget to bring your own water from home!
VDNKh in Winter
Every winter, under the bitter cold of Moscow, VDNKh transforms itself into the largest artificial ice rink, occupying around 20,510 square meters of its total area. I haven’t tried to ice skate here because I am 100% sure that it will be full of people and not pleasant at all for a beginner like me, even though they say that they have special area, located around the “Stone Flower” fountain, which dedicated for beginners. Also, they offer private training for 1000 rubles per person per hour.
You can easily buy tickets in advance on the official site.
How to get there
As it is a popular place, you can easily find VDNKh on the Moscow metro map. It is located on the northern part of the orange line, beside the Botanicheskiy Sad. If you want to use MCC, you can stop at Botanicheskiy Sad station then continue your journey by taking a subway to VDNKh (only 1 stop).
Tickets are not needed for general admission, just for certain museums and attractions such as the Space Museum and Historical Museum.
Open 24 hours a day (for park, not for the museum)!