Knowing that somebody will ask me whether or not I am bored of Kuala Lumpur after having visited it three times, I have prepared a simple answer: No, I am not. For me, traveling is not about paying a visit to new places or new countries, traveling is about something new that you can learn during the process. It doesn't matter how close the place is from your backyard, or how many times you've visited it before. So, that’s my excuse for not being creative in choosing other destinations.
My first journey to KL happened in 2010 or 2011, the second was in 2014, and the third, but probably not the last, was in 2017. The capital has barely changed, even though I did notice that they have polished some places up a bit, such as the Merdeka Square and some areas close to the Jamek Mosque.
Despite its crowd, Kuala Lumpur is still a pleasant place to visit. Personally, I found it quite homey as it is almost the same as my Jakarta – not 100% of course, but at least 50%. The traffic in Jakarta is incomparable. So, I wouldn't dare compare KL with Jakarta in this respect.
When to go to KL
I like this question because I don’t need to exercise my brain to answer this. The weather in KL is quite predictable. The dry season is from April to August and the monsoon season is from September to March/February. During the dry season, you will get full scorching summer days, while during the monsoon season you can dance or sing in the rain.
To be honest, I was there in September and October. I didn’t experience as heavy a rainfall as I thought I would. Instead of that, we had a pleasant walk in a moderate temperature (for us), which was around 28-29 degrees celsius.
How to get there
KL is easily accessible by road, rail, and air.
If you come from Singapore or the cities around KL, buses are always available almost every day at a reasonable price. For further information, please check: www.easybook.com.
If you love to fly, almost all airlines have flights (non-stop or with layovers) to KL. If you're on a budget, I recommend you use AirAsia (local company), Scoot (Singapore), Jetstar (Singapore) or Lion Air (Indonesia). But if you are one of the spoiled travelers like I am (sometimes), you can try a full-cost carrier such as Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, KLM, Garuda Indonesia and so forth.
Travel by rail is only available from Thailand (Hat Yai) and not from Singapore or even from Indonesia.
Where to stay
TUN H S LEE (HOTEL RECOMMENDATION - 1000 MILES HOTEL)
The last time I was in Malaysia, I accidentally found a pleasant hotel at a very reasonable price that wouldn’t bleed me dry. And, as a bonus: it's a stone’s throw away from Jamek Mosque, Pasar Seni (art market) and Merdeka Square. Our stay was really satisfying. The room was quite spacious with a reliable bunk bed, clean bathroom, and air conditioner. The staff were very friendly, and the breakfast was nice. They serve bread, cereals, milk, tea and coffee every morning till around 10 am. To check the price, please kindly visit www.booking.com
Where to eat
Tips before going to KL:
As one of the most progressive cities in the world, Moscow provides lots of options for public transportation, which you can easily choose when you arrive in this historical capital city. But, as the saying goes, “better safe than sorry”; carefulness is something that you can’t just leave at home. Pack it in your bag and carry it along your journey!
No matter how sophisticated the city is or how developed the country is, a review from someone who has already been to the country is always worth a read, right? Especially in this era, when you can access any kind of information via the internet.
So, here is the list of available transport in Moscow, along with my opinion about them.
Bus and Trolleybus (Troika for Moscow Region and Strelka for suburban areas)
Moscow has a handful of buses that depart every 5-10 minutes to almost all directions, including to suburban areas and other cities around the capital. They will pick the passengers up at the bus stops and go directly, without caring about how many passengers are inside. I find this method both good and surprising - preferable to, for example, Indonesia, where all drivers will wait patiently till they have loaded all the passengers they could find, until there is no breathing space between passengers and we are suffocated because the bus is too full.
There are two types of buses in Moscow; Trolleybus and normal bus. You can check the routes carefully on the available timetable at the bus stops. Normally they are written in Cyrillic.
To be honest, I never use the bus in Moscow. I use it enough to get from my town to the center, so I don’t want to waste my time trapped in the traffic, especially during rush hour.
I have been living in Moscow for about 5 years but I have not tried yet the monorail. Oh, how come? That’s all because my town is located far far away from the center, and you can catch the monorail ONLY from VDNKh, Fonvizinskaya, and Timiryazevskaya metro stations. The people who use this public transport method are mostly tourists, as this train passes many Moscow sites such as VDNKh and Ostankino Tower.
The train is a simple way to reach suburban areas or even to go to the airport and other cities outside of Moscow. The price is quite friendly, as usual, except when you buy the Trans-Siberian Railway Ticket or Sapsan (high speed electric express train) - that’s another thing, but let’s forget about it and back to the topic.
The appearance of the trains is also devastating in some contexts. Some of them look modern but as you enter, you will feel deceived by what you’ve judged from its cover, whereas some of the others look pathetic (and in this case you won’t give any initial judgement), and the last type, the one that you’ll see mostly in the center, especially after the grandiose event such as the FIFA World Cup: new wagons, with comfortable seats, clean, and quite fast.
The advantage of using the train in Moscow is you won’t get stuck in a traffic jam.
Taxi (Cash and sometimes Visa, MasterCard)
Although Uber and Yandex Taxi exist in Moscow to simplify our lives, you still need to be very attentive when choosing a taxi. Don’t ever try an ‘illegal taxi’ from one of the unreliable companies that will bleed you dry. As you might read from other sources, Russian taxis are infamous for their scams. The method which the scammers use is very simple: they tell you the price, bring you to the destination, and overcharge you. So, make sure you only use Yandex Taxi or Uber. There is no need to have a new adventure in Moscow, especially if you don’t speak Russian.
Tramvay or trolleys are available in the city. They won’t take you to suburban areas, but, as I know, it is quite comfortable, cheap, and fast compared to a taxi or travelling by foot. Here is the map of the trolleys:
Metro or Subways (Troika)
The metro in Moscow offers not only the most convenient way to reach your destination, but also some attractions. Every metro station here has its own history, design, and uniqueness. In other words, you will not find the same design between one station and another. And don’t forget the metro stations in Moscow were built deep down the earth (the deepest one is about 200 meters) because they are located close to the rivers.
It’s forbidden to take too many pictures inside the stations unless you are in a tour group with a permit.
Map of the metro:
Moscow Central Circle (MCC) (Troika)
The Moscow Central Circle is a 54-kilometer long railway that opened one or two years ago. By riding the MCC that goes circular around the center, you can visit many city sights and, of course, easily change to Metro or Subways. It departs every 5-10 minutes and closes earlier than the Metro.
Marshrutka (route taxi) (Cash)
There are two types of Marshrutka that you can find in Moscow: the official one with the routes stated on the window or the unofficial one for going to suburban areas. I could say this as unofficial because they never mention where they go as clearly as the official ones. You will get full information if you ask the drivers, but make sure that you don’t take the wrong car.
How to pay for the journey?
To minimise the time and to reduce the cost, I want to introduce you to some cards that can be used for your trip in Moscow.
Multi-fare passes a.k.a Unified Travelcard can be used on surface transport, such as bus, trolley bus, tram, and also Metro and monorail. They are available for a 24-hour journey, three days, or a week. The prices are about 210, 400 and 800 roubles respectively. Please check this site for more information about the tariffs: https://www.mos.ru/en/news/item/31475073/
For Muscovites but also for tourists
Most Muscovites, including myself, and also some tourists planning to stay in Moscow more than a week, opt to use these cards, which are not only cheap but also more flexible than the ones used by tourists.
TROIKA: the card that depicts three horses running together, dominated by turquoise, is the must-have card for any visit to Moscow. The card can be used for paying your journey on the METRO, BUS, AND TROLLEY.
The good news is that by using this card, you will get a discount for your trip. For example, one trip on the Metro will cost only 35 roubles (or 32 roubles) if you use this card. If you buy a one-way ticket, it will cost around 50 roubles.
STRELKA: this card can only be used when you take a trip to a suburban area. You can use it for TRAINS, and some buses to suburban areas.
Have a great time in Moscow!
Since early childhood, hairdressers never were my best friends. Maybe it’s because the one who used to take charge of the destiny of my hair was my mom, as she previously worked as a hairdresser. For her beloved girl, she created a legendary masterpiece that later shaped my personality, influenced my life and made a special feature of my hair. We call those haircuts the Severus Snape style, or cute Cleopatra’s. Did I look cute? That could be, but at the same time, I am not sure those styles would suit me now.
I was an obedient girl. I never really rebelled against my mom’s choice. Yet, once I started opening my eyes to the things that we call “fashionable and trendy”, I realized that Severus Snape was out of fashion (or at least, his haircut for a girl like me). So, I did some experiments on my hair, starting by curling it and straightening it.
Unfortunately, I am not blessed with a thick head of hair. I guess that God forgot to add a little more hair in the process of my creation. More unfortunately, I started to lose a lot of hair after taking medication.
From now to then, my dislike for hairdressers has grown. Especially if they keep reminding me every 3 minutes about how thin my hair is, how they can’t give me a good haircut due to my thin hair and "Oh my gosh, how thin your hair is!" Regarding my statistics, from the 100 hairdressers I have gone to, only 1-2 kept silent or said something more useful instead of preaching to me about how thin my hair is and how I could be bald in a year.
How do I feel hearing this type of “explanation”? To be honest, I feel terribly sad and feel more stressed after it, because I keep thinking, what if I go bald soon? Maybe I'll need to use a wig for my entire life? And my impressions of such hairdressers:
And now, I am still looking for a good hairdresser. This search will last for centuries I think….
Summer is the best time to hit the beach. Unfortunately, this time I am not able to set off on a journey because I’m absolutely snowed under with work at the moment. Don’t be fooled! I am a freelancer, yes, I am, but It doesn’t mean that I am less busy than someone who works behind a desk! I also sometimes work behind a desk, but mostly I choose a park, cafe or sofa to do my own tasks. Or if it is very urgent, I can even work on the toilet. Anywhere, as long as they have connection to the internet. I am as flexible as a rubber!
So, while I am taking a break from my pile of documents, I would like to escort you in a fictive journey to some famous beaches in my homeland, Indonesia. Of course, I won’t mention every single one, from the east to the west, or from the north to the south. Today, we will just focus on Bali. Why Bali?
First, because I have lots of photographs of Bali. Second, because Bali is famous among tourists. Third, because in Bali you won’t understand what the wet season is. They do have it, but the average annual rainfall in this region is relatively low compared to Java, for example.
1. Kuta Beach
Suitable for: Surfing, sunbathing, swimming, watching the sunset.
Kuta is situated on the southern part of the island. Besides the beach, this area (especially Legian) is also well known for its nightclubs, cafes, bars, hotels and other entertainments that can add a bit of colour to your holiday.
If you want a peaceful atmosphere, I would not recommend this beach. At noon, you will find a million tourists lying down like sardines just to get suntan or enjoy the sun. If you are curious what this beach looks like, please come around dusk before the sunset.
2. Jimbaran Beach
Suitable for: Surfing, sunbathing, maybe swimming, walking, having dinner.
This beach is within spitting distance of the airport. As your aircraft is descending, ready to land on the runway, take a look through your window and you will find this picturesque beach standing there, greeting you in its warmest way. But, please, don’t be mistaken. Despite its charms, Jimbaran is quite dangerous for swimming.
The best thing to do here is walking barefoot along the beach and, of course, filling your tummy with fresh local seafood.
The restaurants open from 5pm till late at night. What you need to do is to sit down on one of the chairs available, look at the menu, choose the food you want (or sometimes even choose your own ‘prey’) and prepare your money. The prices vary, starting from around 70,000 IDR per portion (around 6 USD) up to 1,500,000 IDR (around 140 USD). Depends on your choice.
sorry for the quality of my pictures
3. Padang-padang Beach
Suitable for: Swimming, sunbathing, surfing, daydreaming
Obsessed with ‘Eat, Pray, and Love’ and want to experience how it feels to be Julia Roberts for a day? Then you should visit this beach. But, don’t dare to imagine that you’ll have what Julia had. This beach is always full of people, tourists and surfers that might have the same purpose as you do.
Different from the other two beaches I mentioned above, here you can have a swim because even though the wave is as big as any other beaches in Bali, the rocks that stand under the water and scatter over the beach succesfully block the wave in coming in further.
What I don’t like: I had to get there the most difficult way of my life. Due to its location which is lower than the land itself, you need to go down through a small path consisting of stairs. For a claustrophobic like me, the narrow steps, along with the big stones above my head were not a pleasant journey at all.
4. Pandawa Beach
Suitable for: Swimming, sunbathing, surfing, daydreaming.
This acclaimed beach was relatively new when I visited Bali. There weren’t so many tourists like the other three beaches at noon.
So, I removed my sandals, changed my clothes and jumped into its warm and pure water. The sand was incredibly white and clean, really smooth under my feet, and it didn't burn like charcoal. I put this beach as my favorite one. Yet, according to one of my students who had been there lately, unfortunately, it has changed.
5. Uluwatu Beach
Suitable for: Surfing, watching the sunset, meeting the monkeys.
This beach is undoubtedly dedicated for surfers, no two ways about. The wave is too big for normal people without boards, no matter how pro they are, whether they are one of the members of Baywatch, professional swimmer or athletes. Yet, Uluwatu offers not only the beach, but also the temple where you can enjoy one of the most enchanting dances ever - Kecak Dance, which is performed every evening before sunset.
Or, if you are an animal lover, explore the temple with hundreds of chubby monkeys waiting for some evening snacks. Don’t get me wrong! You can feed them but you can't stroke them! When I was there, I didn’t even dare to pass where monkeys were sitting happily with their family. There was too much risk of getting bitten on my way!
Tips for exploring the beaches in Indonesia:
Admission: 10 RM for foreigners
One of the must visit museums, besides all the the museums I mentioned in my previous post, is Malacca Sultanate Palace. I don’t even know how to categorize this place, whether it is museum or a palace. So, let’s call it a Museum of the Palace.
This wooden palace was originally erected by the already extinct sultanate of Malacca. But don’t let this fool you! This palace is just replica of the original that once belonged to Sultan Mansur Shah. Who was he? He was the nobleman who ruled Malacca from 1459 to 1477.
Nowadays, this palace has become the home of the Cultural Museum. This means that you can learn as much as possible about the glorious history of Malacca. As you can see, the museum inside is tremendous. It showcases more than 1300 items related to Malacca, starting from traditional costumes from every state in Malaysia up to some immersive displays of the ceremonies and traditions in Malacca.
Traders from the Siam and Gujarat in the past
The display of how the Sultan received his guess in the past
The entire building is made from wood, so you can still smell the inimitable scent of it as soon as you come into the building. And also, it’s really comfortable to stay and stroll around inside on a real scorcher of a day like when we were there.
Don’t forget to remove your shoes before you enter the building!