Exploring Selangor, Malaysia

This is probably the most spontaneous trip I've ever had. I just got back home from our Indonesia trip when I decided to check tickets to nearby countries. I came across a cheap ticket to Kuala Lumpur and thought that maybe I should try and celebrate my birthday in a different country. I thought about it for a few days and finally convinced myself to book the ticket. Luckily, the price didn't change. I couldn't believe that in two weeks, I'll finally be able to visit Malaysia! I've been telling my friends in Malaysia that one day I'll visit and I'm glad it was finally going to happen.

I arrived in KLIA at around 8PM -- was supposed to land at 6PM but my flight got delayed so I had to wait a bit longer. From the airport, I took the KLIA Express to KL Sentral. I think it's the fastest way to get to the city without having to drive through rush hour traffic. The ticket usually costs RM55 (about 14 USD) but there is a machine that lets you buy tickets using your credit/debit card and gives you 10% off, so I opted for that.

Kuala Lumpur

I arrived at my hotel at around 10pm. I scheduled a dinner with my friends (who I met through Instagram) and I feel so bad that I had to make them wait for me (Sorry Trisha and Sher Reen!!) -- Anyway, they took me to a nearby Chinese restaurant in Bukit Bintang. I was told that it was one of the best places to go for food! No photos were though! We were just so hungry and excited that we finally got to meet in person! I've been promising Trisha that I will visit but it never happens and I'm glad this time, it finally did! 

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KL tower is the 7th free standing tower in the world!

KL tower is the 7th free standing tower in the world!

Woke up early the next day because someone was picking us up at our hotel to bring us to the meet up place for #EatTravelWrite 4.0 Selangor tour.  Took these photos before leaving my room with the beautiful view of the KL Tower.

After breakfast, we boarded the bus and made our way to our first stop, BOH Teh Farm.

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We got to tour the inside of the factory where they pack all the tea. 

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Mushroom Pau

Mushroom Pau

Tea leaves

Tea leaves

Of course one of my favorite parts of any trip is snack time! One of the things that caught my attention when we got to the place was this mushroom looking thing. I initially thought that they were giant mushrooms (one would assume since they're called mushroom buns!). Apparently, it's bread (or pau as they call it) that was made to look like mushrooms! Inside these mushroom looking paus is creamy chicken mushroom soup. I'm not sure how to describe the taste but for me, it tasted like bread dipped in mushroom soup. 

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Kuala Langat

After, we headed to the Royal Mausoleum of Sultan Abdul Samad. Located in the royal town of Jugra.  Sultan Abdul Samad was the fourth sultan of Selangor.

Being the only person who can't speak/understand Bahasa, I always stayed with Aven. He was one of the people who patiently translated everything to me when someone is explaining something. 

Being the only person who can't speak/understand Bahasa, I always stayed with Aven. He was one of the people who patiently translated everything to me when someone is explaining something. 

Second floor of the museum

Second floor of the museum

Our next stop was a nearby museum called Muzium Insitu Jugra. This place was originally a police station and a prison! The first floor was the prison and the second floor was a court.

View from Bukit Jugra -- sad that it was very hazy!

View from Bukit Jugra -- sad that it was very hazy!

Near the museum is Bukit Jugra. A hill that gives you a beautiful view of the Langat river. This is also a jump off point for paragliding! Sadly, we didn't get to try it out (a bit happy cause I'm a scaredy cat lol!)

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We had lunch infront of Istana Bandar / Istana Alaeddin (no not the Disney one hehe!) This is also one of my favorite sights during my trip around Selangor. The place is huge (2 storeys with 15 rooms!)! Plus, the photo above is actually the back entrance of the Palace (unfortunately I didn't get the shot of the front entrance. Boo!)

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We were able to go around inside but the place was empty... What caught my attention was how beautiful the windows were. 

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Kak Putri, one of the people who helped organise the trip. 

Kak Putri, one of the people who helped organise the trip. 

Before heading to the hotel, we passed by Ros Kerepek. In here, they make crackers from banana and yam. These crackers are what I miss during meals in Malaysia. I remember that in a buffet, there will always be a giant jar waiting for you at the end of the table which I obviously abused.

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The following day, we went around Endah Village. We checked out a few homestays (photo above) and tried out a few yummy snacks along the way.

Dodol - chewy treat made of sugar, coconut milk, and rice flour

Dodol - chewy treat made of sugar, coconut milk, and rice flour

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One of my favorite sweets during our tour was the dodol. If you're from the Philippines and you've tried sundot kulangot / calamay, that's how it tastes like just a bit more chewy.

We also visited a mushroom farm! It was actually my first time to see a mushroom farm. I didn't know that they were grown this way. We were actually not allowed inside / go too near the mushrooms cause they apparently "get shy" (I'm actually not sure if they told us that just so we wouldn't go in or if they were serious...)

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Above:  Kuah Kacang (peanut sauce) is made -- peanuts, sugar, and chili (lots and lots of it!)

Below: Kuih Abuk-abuk - made of sago, grated coconut, salt, pandan juice, palm sugar, and sugar.

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We spent the rest of the afternoon in a homestay in Endah. It was actually pretty cosy. The house had a lot of windows so it was pretty cool inside the house. I had the urge to lie down on the couch and take a nap lol! 

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Laura and Aven

Laura and Aven

Lychee Kang - this was pretty interesting for me. It was served hot but you can put ice to make it cold. It had lychees, gelatin and peanuts. Althought I think this one was missing a few ingredients...

Lychee Kang - this was pretty interesting for me. It was served hot but you can put ice to make it cold. It had lychees, gelatin and peanuts. Althought I think this one was missing a few ingredients...

ABC (Ais Batu Campur) - Similar to the Philippine's halo-halo. I think the ingredients in ABC depends on where you get them. If you try to search google for Ais Batu Campur, you'll find different colors (and sizes!)

ABC (Ais Batu Campur) - Similar to the Philippine's halo-halo. I think the ingredients in ABC depends on where you get them. If you try to search google for Ais Batu Campur, you'll find different colors (and sizes!)

Soto - I think this one is like Malaysia's version of Pho. White noodles, veggies, beef. The soup is made from the bone of a cow and cooked for half a day.

Soto - I think this one is like Malaysia's version of Pho. White noodles, veggies, beef. The soup is made from the bone of a cow and cooked for half a day.

We made a quick stop at Klanang Beach before heading back to our hotel to rest and call it a day.

We made a quick stop at Klanang Beach before heading back to our hotel to rest and call it a day.

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The next morning (my birthday yay!), we got up early to go to a GO-Kart track! I was almost convinced to ride one but I was too chicken (I seriously need to do something about my fear of everything LOL!) I had fun watching the others drive around though. Maybe one day I'll be able to ride one. I'll keep everyone updated. 

This kid has won a couple of races already and he's so young!

This kid has won a couple of races already and he's so young!

Hasif driving around the track.

Hasif driving around the track.

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This one is Kuih Lemper. Javanese snack which is made of rice on the outside and a whole lot of stuff inside (garlic, candle nut, ground coriander, cumin, brown sugar, vegetable oil, minced shallot, coconut milk, kaffir lime leaves, salt and pepper). This version came with shredded fish as filling but some use chicken or beef.

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Mangrove forest in Taman Rekreasi Paya Bakau in Sijangkang.

Veteran artist Professor Awang Damit (one of the most renowned artists in Malaysia) showing us a few of his works in his studio. His paintings can go up to RM 145,000 ( 35,000 USD ). When he found out that I was from the Philippines, he told me that he auctioned one of his paintings and all the profit went to helping all the victims of typhoon Haiyan.

Veteran artist Professor Awang Damit (one of the most renowned artists in Malaysia) showing us a few of his works in his studio. His paintings can go up to RM 145,000 ( 35,000 USD ). When he found out that I was from the Philippines, he told me that he auctioned one of his paintings and all the profit went to helping all the victims of typhoon Haiyan.

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Professor Awang's son on the other hand, does pottery.

Professor Awang's son on the other hand, does pottery.

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Just recently, Professor Awang opened his studio to students. They usually stay here for 3 months. In the above photo is one of the students currently practicing his art in Professor Awang's studio.

After our trip to the studio, we headed to a homestay where we will stay for the rest of the trip. During dinner, we had Nasi Ambeng. It's a meal shared by a few people and they eat in one big plate. I was told that it was a symbol for equality. After dinner, a few people performed the traditional Javanese Martial Arts infront of us called silat. It was pretty amazing to watch actually. Too bad my camera died before all these happened -- boo! I will try my best to find photos so I can show you guys what happened! After everything, I opted to ride with a friend going back to Kuala Lumpur  since the next day was just for shopping. 

 

Next couple days were spent exploring Kuala Lumpur (malls included LOL!) with friends: Kerol, Sher Reen and Pojie.

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One place I loved and made me wow so many times was Masjid Wilayah. It was an unplanned trip actually. After having lunch with Kerol, he needed to pray so he brought me with him. It was my first time inside a mosque and wow, it is amazing. The details on the doors, walls, and windows are so intricate. Everything was so beautiful!

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Pretty packed schedule for Eat Travel Write tour but I definitely enjoyed all of it. It was pretty nice to experience a different side of Malaysia during my first visit to this country. I'm pretty sure this won't be the last. I'm already looking forward to my next trip to this country! Melaka, I'm looking at you. Haha!

Disclosure: I was a participant of Gaya Travel Magazine's #EatTravelWrite 4.0 tour around Selangor. 

Exploring Baluran & Kawah Putih

To conitue our Banyuwangi adventure, after climbing down Mount Ijen, we drove back to the hotel to rest. After lunch, we hopped on a bus and made our way to Baluran National Park. I was pretty excited to visit this place because I mentioned it to a friend and he showed me a photo of the place. (plus, I've never been to a savanna before!)

Baluran National Park

I was asleep during the whole bus ride going to Baluran (probably because I ate a lot during lunch lol!) I woke up when we were finally inside Baluran National Park. (There is an entrance fee to get inside the park, by the way. 150,000 IDR during the week and 225,000 IDR on week-ends per person) It took us a while to actually get to the vast field (the one in the photo below). Definitely shows how big the place is.

(Baluran National Park, located in Situbondo Regency, East Java, Indonesia is about 250 square kilometers. It is home to 196 bird species, 444 species of plants, and 26 species of mammals including a few endangered ones. The park has been protected since 1928 and was declared a national park in 1980.) 

Our bus finally stopped and we were finally allowed to go down and explore the field!  I couldn't help but smile upon seeing the view. I mean, if you were greeted by this view, wouldn't you smile too? 

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I guess everyone was pretty excited to explore the field (and take photos of course!) 

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We tried our best to get closer to the animals but I think they were just too far. (Be cautious when running around the savanna though. We were informed that there are snakes in the area so better watch where you're stepping.)

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It's not everyday we get to go to a place like this so we took the opportunity to take lots and lots of photos!

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Jeremy and Kama caught taking photos during our stay in the park. 

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Closest I got to some water buffalos in the park.

We were hoping to see more animals but the sun was about to set and we had to leave to go to our next hotel. Our next hotel was a bit far so we had to pack up before the sun totally set so we can have dinner on time and have enough rest for our early flight to Bandung the next day.

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Bandung

Saying hello to Bandung from above. We landed around lunch time in Bandung and we were greeted by the huge volume of cars in the city. 

Bandung is the capital city of West Java and is the fourth largest city in Indonesia. It is also the third largest city by population. My favorite part about Bandung is the slightly cooler weather it has. It got pretty chilly during our first night (note that I easily get cold and temperatures around 17-18c is already cold for me. Haha). On our second day in Bandung (and sadly our last in Indonesia), we headed to Kawah Putih.

Kawah Putih

Kawah Putih is located 50km south of Bandung which makes it a must see when you're in the area. It usually takes 2 hours to get to Kawah Putih from Bandung but it may vary depending on the traffic. If you got to see my post about Kawah Ijen, you'd notice that Ijen has a lake. To get down Ijen's lake, you'd have to traverse 700m down from the summit. So if you're like me and you're not really up for something like that, you get a chance to see a similar lake up close in Kawah Putih. 

When going to Kawah Putih, it is recommended to wear a jacket since it tends to get chilly (10c) in the area. Wearing a gas mask is also advised since the smell of sulfur is present in the area.

We left our bus in the main parking area and got on a mini shuttle bus to the crater itself. The ride going to the crater was actually quite fun (since the driver quite drives pretty fast lol!). We dropped off by the giant Kawah Putih sign and had to walk a bit to get to the crater. 

We finally got to the crater and we were greeted by this gorgeous turquoise colored lake. It was definitely my first time to see a lake with this color. Now I understand why you should go to this place when you're in Bandung. 

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We arrived pretty late so there were quite a number of people already in the area. If ever you'd want to take pictures of the place with fewer people, I suggest you get there before the place opens (8AM).

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Even with a ton of people in the photo, this place still looks amazing. I'm glad that our last stop for our Indonesia trip was Kawah Putih. (Well, it wasn't supposed to be but we had to leave Bandung early and skip the next day to avoid traffic from Bandung to Jakarta).

This concludes my 11-day adventure around Indonesia. It was definitely one of the most memorable trips I've ever gone to. Before I joined this trip, the only thing that came to mind when Indonesia was mentioned was Bali. But now, I know that there is more to Indonesia than just Bali. Honestly, I've been itching to go back ever since I got home from our trip. Writing all these entries actually made me miss Indonesia more. I have my fingers crossed that I get to visit again in the near future.

That's it for all my Indonesia posts for now. Hopefully you guys enjoyed following along my adventures in this wonderful country. :)

Disclosure: I was invited by the Ministry of Tourism of Indonesia to be part of their blogger tour #TripOfWonders

Conquering Mount Ijen

Upon receiving our itinerary for the Indonesia trip, I immediately reviewed the places we were visiting. One of the activities listed was "Midnight Hike to Ijen". Obviously, I wasn't really excited about it because I'm not the type who enjoys hiking up (and down) a mountain. I can still remember my friend laughing at me when I told them we were hiking up a mountain. All my friend was able to say was "Good luck." -- pretty much what I needed.

Fast forward a few days later and I find myself boarding a ferry at 5 in the morning to Denpasar, Bali. After the (not so fun) ferry ride to Bali, we headed straight to the airport to hop on a plane to Banyuwangi. We got in our hotel at around 3-4 PM and suddenly it occurred to me that at 12MN we start our climb to Kawah Ijen. I tried my best to force myself to sleep at 5 PM so that I wouldn't be so restless when we start our ascend to Ijen at 12MN. Unfortunately, I ended up sleeping at 9PM. Woke up at 11:30PM to prepare my stuff and get ready for the climb. We all met up at the hotel lobby, got oriented, and boarded the jeeps that will take up to the starting point of the climb. Luckily the drive was about an hour from our hotel so we were still able to catch so more sleep.

Note that the reason we wanted to climb up Ijen at 12 MN is because we wanted to catch the blue flames. You will only be able to see it in the dark so better if you leave at midnight if you also want to see this.

Kawah Ijen

We arrived at the starting point at around 1AM. It gets a bit chilly here (well for me at least) since the temperature plays around 10-15 degrees C. Better bring clothes for the cold if you're like me and you easily get cold. Gloves are available to be purchased (10,000 IDR) at the starting point too just in case you forget to bring a pair. Also make sure to have hiking boots on (or anything that helps you get a grip on the floor) since the trail can get pretty slippery.  For other equipment, make sure you have a gas mask with you even if you don't plan on going down the crater lake since the smoke usually goes up and reaches the trail. 

The hike up is okay. It's not hard but it's not easy either. It took us about 2 (or was it 3) hours to reach the top mainly because we kept on stopping every now and then. There are benches strategically placed (mostly in steep areas) where you can sit down, rest your legs, and catch your breath.

I wasn't really planning on creating a separate post for Mt. Ijen but after reaching the summit and seeing how beautiful this place is, I felt that it deserved to have its own post.

We reached the summit at around 4 in the morning and we were debating if we should go down (700m hike down) to see the blue flames. Unfortunately, due to the lack of time considering how slow we were going, if we went down, we won't be able to see anything anymore since the sun was about to rise. What we did was just to continue on the trail to a higher point to catch the sunrise. It was unfortunate that we were unable to see the blue flames in person but the sunrise from the summit was also a treat. Everything looked so dreamy and obviously, I went crazy and took a ton of photos. Ha!

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Being up in the summit and watching the sun rise was just magical. 

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Gorgeous mixture of light and fog (or sulfur smoke?) covering the landscape of Ijen.

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We found a pretty spot to take photos and obviously, we all wanted a photo on that same spot. Haha!

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We were hoping to see the lake from above but the fog was pretty thick and we weren't really able to see it clearly.

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Probably the best photo I can get of the lake with the fog covering it. The Kawah Ijen lake lies at 2148m above sea level and is surrounded by the volcano's crater walls. The vent is a source of sulfur and collectors actually go up and down the mountain everyday.

A bit of trivia for everyone: Ijen is actually a quiet buy active volcano. 

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View of the trail from the summit. Look at how small those people are!

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For people who get tired during the hike, there are people who go around with these carts (usually used for carrying sulfur around) who offer taxi services. You can ride these up (or down) the mountain for 500,000 IDR (around 40 USD)

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I initially thought that I would dread this trip to Ijen but I was wrong. It was actually one of the highlights of my trip to Indonesia. The hike was definitely worth the view. If you ever find yourself in Banyuwangi, maybe you can try and book a trip going up Mt. Ijen. Just make sure that you are in top shape and have the correct gear with you. Better to research the stuff you're going to need before climbing up!

 

Disclosure: I was invited by the Ministry of Tourism of Indonesia to be part of their blogger tour #TripOfWonders

Exploring Lombok, Indonesia

Lombok, Indonesia

Continuing our adventure around Indonesia, from Makassar we flew back to Jakarta and boarded another plane going to Lombok, the main island in West Lesser Sunda Island. After a couple of flights, we finally landed. We boarded the bus and headed straight to our hotel to sleep before exploring the island.

We left the hotel at around 8AM and headed straight to Sasak Sade Village.

Sasak Sade Village

We were greeted by these local playing traditional music as soon as we got down our bus. Sade Village is a traditional village found in Central Lombok, Nusa Tenggara Barat. Houses in this village remain traditional. The roofs of the houses here are made of alang-alang leaves and the walls are made of clay and cow manure.

Interesting trivia: our guide also told us that in Lombok Island, if a young man wants to marry a girl, he must ask the hand of the girl from her parents and negotiate the marriage proposal. If the family does not agree, the man must kidnap the girl and take her to his house. After kidnapping her, he will report to the village chief about his elopement and the chief will negotiate on behalf of the young man to the girl's family to accept his marriage proposal.

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Before going around the village, they performed a few of their traditional dances for us.

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Above: Tarian Gendang Belek - Welcoming dance | Below: Petuk Dance - Dance performed during circumcision ceremony

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Above: Perisaian Dance - To celebrate Indonesia Independence Day and to appoint a warrior | Below: Amak Tempengus Dance - a dance to entertain the warriors who return from war

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After all the performances by the villagers, we started going around and the first thing I noticed are these beautiful sarongs and table cloths made by the women in the village. Naturally, we all went crazy and bought a bunch to bring home to family and friends.

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One of the villagers showing us how to weave ikat cloth.

One of the villagers showing us how to weave ikat cloth.

Gorgeous details

Gorgeous details

Walking around the village

Walking around the village

Tiga Gili / Kepulauan Gili

After going around Sasak Sade Village, we got lunch and headed to the port to ride a speedboat to Gili Trawagnan. 

Tiga Gili  (Three Gilis) / Kepulauan Gili (Gili Archipelago) is an archipelago of three small islands - Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air - just off the northwest coast of Lombok.

Our bumpy speedboat ride to the island

Our bumpy speedboat ride to the island

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The next morning, we got on another boat to go snorkleing around the archipelago. We got to spot a few turtles while snorkeling (such an amazing sight to see!). Love how clear the water is Gili Air. We got to spot a bunch of fish in the area! I really need to get myself an underwater camera so I can take photos when we go snorkeling. :(

Aleah (solitarywanderer.com) 

Aleah (solitarywanderer.com) 

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Trisha by the beach in Gili Air

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Our last sunset in Gili Trawangan before packing all our stuff and getting on a ferry at 5 in the morning the next day to go to Denpasar to fly to Banyuwangi.

Disclosure: I was invited by the Ministry of Tourism of Indonesia to be part of their blogger tour #TripOfWonders

Exploring Makassar, Indonesia

A few weeks ago, I got a call from a friend asking me if I wasn't busy. I wasn't sure why she was asking if I wasn't but as soon as I answered "Nope, I'm free. What's up?". She immediately asked if I wanted to come to Indonesia. At first, all I was able to say was "Weh?? Di nga?" (It sort of translates to "What? Really??"). I couldn't believe that she was asking me if I wanted to come. I think I even teared up a little. I've been wanting to go to Indonesia for the longest time and I'm so glad that it finally happened. I've been to Indonesia before but it was only for a weekend so I don't think that counts. Ha! Fast forward to a few days after the phone call, I found myself at the airport (still in shock that I'm going to Indonesia for 11 days!) meeting up with my friend who called me and new faces also traveling with us. We were to explore Makassar, Lombok, Banyuwangi, and Bandung (I'll be writing one blog post per place just so the entry doesn't get too long.)

We arrived in the middle of the night in Jakarta and was scheduled to leave at 5 in the morning to go back to the airport and fly to Makassar, the capital city of South Sulawesi. Our first stop in Indonesia.

We arrived in Makassar just right before lunch. We hopped on the bus and made our way to Bantimurung National Park. The park is in Maros Regency, 50 km north of Makassar (an hour drive) or 20 km from Sultan Hasanuddin International Airport (30 mins drive).

At first I thought that we had to hike somewhere to reach the waterfalls but luckily it was just an easy stroll. At the end of the path, the Bantimurung Waterfalls will greet you.

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Bantimurung Waterfalls

Bantimurung Waterfalls

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This path leads to a cave which unfortunately I wasn't able to get to. 

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One of the many activities you can do in this place is rent a life saver and ride down the water. It seemed really fun. I kinda felt bad that I wasn't wearing proper attire and didn't have extra clothes with me. Else, you'd see a photo of me here in a life saver riding down the falls. 

There are also huts around the park so you can just sit and listen to the sound of the water falling while having lunch or a cup of coffee. 

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Day two in Makassar, we woke up early to head to the dock and ride a boat to Kodingareng Keke Island. It is one of several uninhabited islands in the region of South Sulawesi. The island is located 14km from Losari Makassar, or 20- 30 minutes from the island of Samalona.

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Morning scenes at the dock

Morning scenes at the dock

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Kodingareng Keke Island

Kodingareng Keke Island

After about 30 minutes, we finally saw the island. We couldn't wait to get off and start swimming! The water is super clear. And just from the shore, you can already start snorkeling. Tip: Better wear some aqua shoes or sandals if you plan on swimming since the corals might hurt your feet. 

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There were boats parked at the shore and of course, we didn't let this opportunity pass! We grabbed our cameras and started taking photos. Haha!

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Snorkeling

Snorkeling

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One of the participants, Motulz, drew the island while we were there.

One of the participants, Motulz, drew the island while we were there.

This is Samalona Island where we had our yummy lunch by the beach.

This is Samalona Island where we had our yummy lunch by the beach.

Makassar from our boat ride going back

Makassar from our boat ride going back

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On our third and last day in Makassar, we tried out some local food (Yay!)

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Pallubasa - a traditional food found in Makassar. It is made from long boiled internal meats/organ parts of a cattle and is served with slices of meat and an egg yolk on top. 

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Making Jalangkote - a fried pastry with veggies, some egg and meat. 

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Left: Fresh from the fryer Jalangkote / Right: Es Pisang Ijo - It's banana warpped in sago flour dough and served with ice, coconut milk and rose syrup. It's one of the most interesting desserts I've had in Indonesia. It's one of South Sulawesi's specialties so if ever you find your self in the area, don't forget to try it!

That's it for our Makassar adventure. After all the food we ate, we headed to the airport to fly to our next destination, Lombok

 

Disclosure: I was invited by the Ministry of Tourism of Indonesia to be part of their blogger tour #TripOfWonders