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2016-03-14-melbourne-day2-a-patricia-coffeehouse-15

Melbourne Cafe Hopping Part 1 (March 2016)

By | Australia, Travel | No Comments

I have SO many backdated travel logs that it’s not funny. I just get so shutter happy with my cameras and take too long to edit… But since this one’s still relatively fresh (March 2016), I thought I’d get it done first!

To be very honest (please don’t drop me for any future campaigns, Australia), Melbourne’s probably the last travel destination on my list – for some reason I just never had any inclination to visit, but I definitely didn’t mind it. A work trip beckoned and since the exchange rate was favourable ($1 SGD = AUD $1.036)… why not right? The next thing you knew, I was on my way over to one of Australia’s most popular cities!

This trip’s itinerary has gotta be one of my favourites because what we did was cafe hop ALL DAY. *heart in eyes* It was the perfect timing for me to try out my new Olympus PEN-F with the amazing light you’ll get in Australia! For this trip, I had only my Olympus 12-40mm mounted on the Olympus PEN-F – I really think that this is the best travel lens and combination for me, especially for street photography, since the PEN-F’s shutter sound can be silenced! I love the EVF as well, which worked really well against the strong sun lighting conditions in Melbourne.

Less words, more pictures. Enjoy Part 1 of my Melbourne Cafe Hopping post!
(Link to my Google Map of all the places I’ve visited in Melbourne and places YOU should visit at the bottom of my post!)

Day 1 in Melbourne

The Kettle Black, Seven Seeds, I Love Pho

We landed bright and early at around 8am from a red-eye flight – I never knew that it would take 7+ hours to get to Australia! It was a lovely and spacious flight aboard Emirates (A380!!!) and the weather was so pleasant! It was a comfortable 24~ degrees in the day and dropped to about 18 ~ 16 degrees at night.

Our first stop was a popular one - Kettle Black!

Our first stop was a popular one – The Kettle Black!

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Evonnz in HK – The Playing & Shopping Chapter

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I’ve always been craft-inclined, and as much as I’ve wanted to, I’ve never had the chance to attend a craft workshop while overseas as I didn’t have the right company! Thankfully, Hong Kong Tourism Board had the same thoughts as well and planned a leather making workshop for us to learn something new!

{ Fungus Workshop }

Add: G/F, 4 Po Hing Fong, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
上環普慶坊4號地下
Email: fungusworkshop@gmail.com | website
Tel: +852 2779 9003 

"A handmade leather bags and accessories workshop, FUNGUS WORKSHOP is a partnership between ‘hoiming’ (a leather goods designer brand) and ‘cowrice’ (a lifestyle creative unit). FUNGUS WORKSHOP is passionate about expressing individual creativity, and uses this workshop to share their leatherwork and attitude towards life with the world. FUNGUS WORKSHOP is a creative workshop filled with lovers of unique hand-made designs, varying from leather goods and fashion to photography, paintings, writings and home ware."

“A handmade leather bags and accessories workshop, FUNGUS WORKSHOP is a partnership between ‘hoiming’ (a leather goods designer brand) and ‘cowrice’ (a lifestyle creative unit). FUNGUS WORKSHOP is passionate about expressing individual creativity, and uses this workshop to share their leatherwork and attitude towards life with the world.
FUNGUS WORKSHOP is a creative workshop filled with lovers of unique hand-made designs, varying from leather goods and fashion to photography, paintings, writings and home ware.”

It’s actually located along Tai Ping Shan St., which is a pretty nice neighbourhood itself to walk around and shop for goods by local designers and talents – shops vary from candles, hipster cafes, to floral artistry workshops for you to spend an afternoon at.

Today's workshop target: A card holder!

Today’s workshop target: A card holder!

We were told to select a leather color - I was instantly attracted to this beautiful shade of navy blue! We were taught the basics of leather priming and cutting - how to season it, how to cut it, and making holes for stitching.

We were told to select a leather color – I was instantly attracted to this beautiful shade of navy blue!
We were taught the basics of leather priming and cutting – how to season it, how to cut it, and making holes for stitching.

This is my first time at a real leather making workshop, and I wished I was able to film the entire process down because there was just so much to learn! This is a tool/technique to seal off the leather, and to make sure that the edges of the leather are smooth, and don't fray from daily usage.

This is my first time at a real leather making workshop, and I wished I was able to film the entire process down because there was just so much to learn! This is a tool/technique to seal off the leather, and to make sure that the edges of the leather are smooth, and don’t fray from daily usage.

Customizing our card holder with letter embossing tools

Customizing our card holder with letter embossing tools

I'm quite bad when it comes to stitching and also due to time constraint, we had to engage help from the masters, who finished things up for us in record time! Mind you, they are guys. I was definitely impressed with their skill and precision!

I’m quite bad when it comes to stitching and also due to time constraints, we had to engage help from the masters, who finished things up for us in record time! Mind you, they are guys. I was definitely impressed with their skill and precision!

Finishing off some bits...

Finishing off some bits…

All done! I think you can tell by now that blue is my favorite color, yes? Hahaha. I love it to bits!

All done! I think you can tell by now that blue is my favorite color, yes? Hahaha. I love it to bits!

Thank you so much, Baldwin! See the items on display behind us? These are the items you can actually learn to make at the workshops - of course the bigger the items, the more time you'll need. Cardholder making was pretty basic and didn't require more than a lesson to complete, unlike shoes and bags. I'd really love to learn how to make a bag one day though! P.S. - You can also buy ready-made items off the rack!

Thank you so much, Baldwin!
See the items on display behind us? These are the items you can actually learn to make at the workshops – of course the bigger the items, the more time you’ll need. Cardholder making was pretty basic and didn’t require more than a lesson to complete, unlike shoes and bags. I’d really love to learn how to make a bag one day though!
P.S. – You can also buy ready-made items off the rack!

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I think it’s a must for every country to show support for the local arts scene and to encourage local talent – and for Hong Kong, it came in the form of a complex called PMQ (元創方) – previously a school, and the former Hollywood Police Married Quarters, it has been turned into a hub for local young entrepreneurs.

I love this quote hanging off one side of PMQ!

I love this quote hanging off one side of PMQ!

{ PMQ 元創方 }

Add: 35 Aberdeen St, Central, Hong Kong
中环鸭巴甸街35号
Tel: +852 2870 2335 | website
Opening Hours: 7am – 11pm (but the stores operate at different timings)

PMQ aka 元創方 has been around for approximately a year by now, and while I was initially there for filming, the place had intrigued me so much that I had to head back a second time to explore further – first for the Okinawan festival that was to take place during the period of time I was in Hong Kong (LUCKY!), and also to pick up the lens cap that I had carelessly left behind at Fungus Workshop from Baldwin (THANK YOU again, Baldwin!).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOver at PMQ, you can find Vivienne Tam, Goods of Desire, and various other local designers for design, clothing/fashion, homeware, lifestyle, to workshops, cafes, bakeries and even baking schools! Check out their directory here. Actually, the best thing is to book yourself a workshop of interest (baking? jewelry making? sewing & crafts?), and then spend the rest of the day exploring PMQ, because it is just that fabulous a place especially if you’re into cute and locally designed things! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Isn’t the mini workshop just so interesting?! I would really have loved to spend a whole day here!

I did mention that I was here for the Okinawa festival, right? PMQ has events (aka Happenings) every now and then which you can check out here to see what’s going on during the time you’ll be in HK.

It was abuzz with activity by the time I got to PMQ for the 2nd time, at 7pm!

Japanese goodies on sale!

Japanese goodies on sale!

Okinawa fest at PMQ!

Okinawa fest at PMQ!

I'll always have space for some beer

I’ll always have space for some beer

Some may find it creepy but you won't know how elated I was to spot these dolls, perched on their owner's shoulders! I would want to own a volks doll someday : p

Some may find it creepy but you won’t know how elated I was to spot these dolls, perched on their owner’s shoulders! I would want to own a volks doll someday : p

Tai Ping Shan St. is just right around the corner from PMQ, and as I’ve mentioned, it’s somewhat like our Haji Lane – littered with little workshops, local designer goods and a handful of pretty cafes!

La Cabane is a cigar/wine bistro, and it's right opposite Munchies which was recommended by a friend's friend!

La Cabane is a cigar/wine bistro, and it’s right opposite Munchies which was recommended by a friend’s friend!

Both restaurants are located along a long flight of stairs - and going all the way down will lead you to Kau Kee Beef Brisket, and a busier street

Both restaurants are located along a long flight of stairs – and going all the way down will lead you to Kau Kee Beef Brisket, and a busier street.

Agnes B Cafe LPG, 中環歌賦街8-10號中山樓地鋪

Agnes B Cafe LPG, 中環歌賦街8-10號中山樓地鋪

 

Just right opposite Agnes B Cafe, is a shop that spans 2 levels and has a modest coffee bar right inside it. It’s called WOAW, and I love the things they carry!

"Where the Woaw (wild!) Things Are"

“Where the Woaw (wild!) Things Are”

Other than stationery, they also carry tech gadgets like earphones, mobile covers, sunglasses, strangely cute plushies, hershel bags, self-assemble pinhole cameras and hats!

Other than stationery, they also carry tech gadgets like earphones, mobile covers, sunglasses, strangely cute plushies, hershel bags, self-assemble pinhole cameras and hats!

There's a bar right inside it, with a little outdoor area. I would have loved to sit for a while if I had the time too, and if I drank coffee!

There’s a bar right inside it, with a little outdoor area. I would have loved to sit for a while if I had the time to, and if I drank coffee!

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Passed by this little cafe, called Homei and my body told me to take a rest inside. Hahaha. It was really tiring climbing up and down!

Passed by this little cafe, called Homei and my body told me to take a rest inside. Hahaha. It was really tiring climbing up and down!

The 3 of us! ; )

The 3 of us! ; )

Turns out to be such a good decision! The cafe was incredibly photogenic inside and the walls are just so cheerful!

Turns out to be such a good decision! The cafe was incredibly photogenic inside and the walls are just so cheerful!

When it comes to shopping in Hong Kong, there are a few must visit places – Argyle Centre, Mong Kok Shopping Centre for reasonably priced fashion, and Trendy Zone for street styles!

Trendy Zone in Mong Kok - they have a basement level, and also a 2nd floor full of shops selling streetwear, especially sneakers like limited edition Nikes etc.

Trendy Zone in Mong Kok – they have a basement level, and also a 2nd floor full of shops selling streetwear, especially sneakers like limited edition Nikes etc.

The second floor of Trendy Zone, where I got a pair of shoes from! I was okay with purchasing it at a higher price, but it's better if you look for such shoes at Argyle or Mong Kok Shopping Centre.

The second floor of Trendy Zone, where I got a pair of shoes from! I was okay with purchasing it at a higher price, but it’s better if you look for such shoes at Argyle or Mong Kok Shopping Centre.

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Hong Kong is Tax-free, which means you do away with the hassle of tax redemption and filling up forms – yay! I got myself a bag chain from Agnes B (couldn’t resist all the stars) and even 2 bags from Rabeanco – although, much to my surprise, the prices weren’t exactly very different when they had a sale going on in Singapore.

Did you know that they have Eslite in HK? I love Eslite because of the things they sell! (MT Tapes! Hobonichi! Craft books! ETC ETC)

Did you know that they have Eslite in HK? I love Eslite because of the things they sell! (MT Tapes! Hobonichi! Craft books! ETC ETC) Eslite HK occupies 3 storeys in a mall called Hysan Place, at Causeway Bay – it’s actually a pretty nice place to shop, and there’s a shop in there named 6ixty8ight where my friends all love to check out when they’re in Hong Kong.

And right outside Eslite, there's a cafe (Caffe Habitu) where you can sit and wait for your partner if they're too busy shopping down the entire building.

And right outside Eslite, there’s a cafe (Caffe Habitu) where you can sit and wait for your partner if they’re too busy shopping down the entire building.

You can also find cosmetics which you cannot get in Singapore, in HK - for example, Jill Stuart, Paul & Joe, and...

You can also find cosmetics which you cannot get in Singapore, in HK – for example, Jill Stuart, Paul & Joe, and…

Laduree makeup! Yes LADUREE!

Laduree makeup! Yes LADUREE!

I've been a supermarket person since I turned 25 hahaha and I love checking out the supermarket sections in malls! This one had a store selling soft serve ice cream with melon and fruits, sounded so super yummy!

I’ve been a supermarket person since I turned 25 hahaha and I love checking out the supermarket sections in malls! This one had a store selling soft serve ice cream with melon and fruits, sounded so super yummy!

My friends settled for Godiva instead though. Hahaha.

My friends settled for Godiva instead though. Hahaha.

There were also pretty gifts you could bring back, like these tins of Agnes B biscuits and chocolates! I was in SOGO Causeway Bay, btw.

There were also pretty gifts you could bring back, like these tins of Agnes B biscuits and chocolates! I was in SOGO Causeway Bay, btw.

Some other malls worth visiting are Harbour City (which is actually right next to and connected to Marco Polo Hotel), Langham Place, and Horizon Plaza for outlet shopping! All these places are listed on my HK EAT.PLAY.SHOP Google map!

 

* Halloween in Hong Kong! *

Lan Kwai Fong 蘭桂坊

Lan Kwai Fong 蘭桂坊

Halloween’s really big in Hong Kong, and you have NO IDEA how big an affair it is till you’re in Lan Kwai Fong during Halloween! Actually, I was there BEFORE Halloween and you can see the scary party gear’s already in full swing.

THEY were totally ready for Halloween!

THEY were totally ready for Halloween!

From what I heard, LKF was flooded (with people) with queues extending way beyond the entrance of LKF! Yikes! And I’m kind of sad to have missed out on Kaskade’s appearance at Bungalow in LKF on 19th Nov.

Halloween in Hong Kong seems to be really special and celebrated island-wide – Ocean Park’s Halloween Fest, LKF… Unfortunately, there’s only so many places we can be at at one time, and we choose to visit…

The Happiest Place On Earth!

And that’s of course, Hong Kong Disneyland!
How can you not visit this when you’re in Hong Kong?!
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Once again, we’re in Disneyland at just the right time! On top of Halloween celebrations and decoration all over the theme park, Disneyland HK also happens to be celebrating their 10th year anniversary with new shows, new projections and new attractions!

We got a pic with Duffy & Shelliemay in their Halloween outfits!

We got a pic with Duffy & Shelliemay in their Halloween outfits!

We started off with some Halloween themed snacks from the bakery! Omg look at Jack!

We started off with some Halloween themed snacks from the bakery! Omg look at Jack!

And that's a special Halloween mickey vampire bat biscuit!

And that’s a special Halloween Mickey mouse vampire bat biscuit!

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The streets started to clear, and then we all lined up to the side because it was time for a midday parade!

The streets started to clear, and then we all lined up to the side because it was time for a midday parade – Disneyland’s Flights of Fantasy, which starts at 3pm!

Love how jovial the dancers were and how they engaged the audiences too!

Love how jovial the dancers were and how they engaged the audiences too!

Yina, Maureen & I!

Yina, Maureen & I!

We just had to check out the Halloween specials from Corner Cafe in Disneyland HK!

Main Street Halloween Duffy’s Afternoon Tea Set

This afternoon tea set comes with 2 drinks - Duffy's Cookie & Chocolate Chill Buster, & ShellieMay's Pink Banana Shake!

This afternoon tea set comes with 2 drinks – Duffy’s Cookie & Chocolate Chill Buster, & ShellieMay’s Pink Banana Shake!

Even the fruits came in assorted shapes! Super cute.

Even the fruits came in assorted shapes! Super cute.

Halloween Special Set Menu 

This 3 course menu comes with a drink, an appetizer, a main and a dessert at just $268 ($50 SGD)!

The Grilled Veal Tenderloin and Slow Poached Beef Short Rib with Molecular Coca Cola served with Celeriac Root Mashed Potato & Red Wine Sauce

The Grilled Veal Tenderloin and Slow Poached Beef Short Rib with Molecular Coca Cola served with Celeriac Root Mashed Potato & Red Wine Sauce

The other main - Pan-fried Pink Sea Perch with Sprite Lemongrass Sauce served with Cheese Tortellini and Baby Vegetables

The other main – Pan-fried Pink Sea Perch with Sprite Lemongrass Sauce served with Cheese Tortellini and Baby Vegetables

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And to Toy Story Land we go!

And to Toy Story Land we go!

View from the parachute ride. Seriously. I did not expect the ride which I was told "even 3 year olds can sit" to be this scary. To be honest, it wasn't moving fast or had a sudden drop. It's just... my heart cannot handle this, haha. Some people might get a kick out of this (or no kick at all) but oh gosh.

View from the Toy Soldier Parachute Drop. Seriously. I did not expect the ride which I was told “even 3 year olds can sit” to be this scary. To be honest, it wasn’t moving fast nor had a sudden drop. It’s just… my heart cannot handle this, haha. Some people might get a kick out of this (or no kick at all) but oh gosh.

The RC Racer is a thrill drop ride, which, I obviously opted out of, hahaha. But the rest seemed to have had lotsa fun doing it!

The RC Racer is a thrill drop ride, which, I obviously opted out of, hahaha. But the rest seemed to have had lotsa fun doing it!

We then moved on to Grizzly Gulch, where I was convinced to then take the Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars ride T_____T It's a milder version of a rollercoaster, but I STILL came out with my wrists feeling the pain of clutching onto the handles too tightly!

We then moved on to Grizzly Gulch, where I was convinced to then take the Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars ride T_____T It’s a milder version of a rollercoaster, but I STILL came out with my wrists feeling the pain of clutching onto the handles too tightly!

There was a ghastly story telling session going on by a prospector but I really couldn't understand it (it's in Cantonese!). Still, it drew a pretty large crowd and was entertaining to watch!

There was a ghastly story telling session going on by a prospector but I really couldn’t understand it (it’s in Cantonese!). Still, it drew a pretty large crowd and was entertaining to watch!

Our 2nd last ride was at Mystic Manor, where we explored the mansion full of artefacts via automatic rail cars. This one was really suitable for kids this time round so it was no biggie for me! : D Hehehe.

Our 2nd last ride was at Mystic Manor, where we explored the mansion full of artefacts via automatic rail cars. This one was really suitable for kids – the ride wasn’t as shocking as the other two to me, haha.

I don’t have pictures for this one because it was just too dark and moving too quickly, but the best time to take the Jungle River Cruise is after sunset, so that you can experience the full thrill of it all – the well placed props, the delivery of the storyline by the boat crew, and the suspense that comes with the boat ride! Even for guests who don’t understand Cantonese, the great acting by the Disneyland staff still kept the delivery of the ride really thrilling! And then it was time to end the magical night with a light parade! The “Disney Paint the Night” Nighttime Spectacular starts at 7:15, and we got very good spots for the parade, along with a Mickey Glow Mitt & a Minnie Glow Bow which lights up in the dark!

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CARS!

CARS!

Tinkerbell in the background!

Tinkerbell in the background!

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And for some weird reason, Lea Salonga’s voice was on loop in my head as the parade went by! Disney was, and will always be part of my childhood. Ending my day at Disney just completed my night, there was an inexplicable sense of joy lingering around!

Thank you so much, HKTB and my travelling partners (Yina & Maureen) for such a wonderful trip, and Nuffnang for making this possible too! I had no idea that visiting Hong Kong in October would be this much fun, and I really wished that I had discovered the German Bierfest earlier! So if you’re planning to head over to HK in October next year… you know what festivals to look out for!

I had actually booked a trip to Hong Kong with my girlfriends (Estrella & Felicia) before this HKTB one came about – and much of my research was done actually on Discoverhongkong.com, which was extremely helpful when it came to planning for activities. Alternatively, you could refer to the google map for HK EAT.PLAY.SHOP that I’ve done up and also relied on when it came to travel planning. Here’s the link to Part 1 (The Eating Chapter) too, if you’ve missed it!

I can’t wait for my next trip with the girlfriends!

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Evonnz in HK – The Eating Chapter

By | Asia, Travel | One Comment

“買東西吃東西” 

I guess that’s the first impression people have of Hong Kong! But… where does one start when one hasn’t been to HK in the last few years? I was lucky enough to be going on a trip with the two biggest foodies from Nuffnang I know – Yina & MissTamChiak!

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Hong Kong in October

I’ve always travelled to HK via Cathay Pacific Airways for the past few trips – they’re reliable, comfortable, and service is good – it’s always wise to camp around for promotions on their site! My friends managed to get return flights for less than $350 each person.

October wasn’t really a school holiday month for Singapore yet, which meant it was a good time to visit Hong Kong, especially weather wise – it was a comfortable 28 degrees the whole time I was there. Less humid than Singapore for sure, and more luggage space for your shopping haul!

Exchange rate, Internet, & other random things

Right now, it’s about 5.5 HKD to 1 Sing $ Dollar. A typical meal at Kam Wah ranges from $5 HKD for an egg tart to $44 HKD for a bowl of porkchop instant noodles – that’s around $8 SGD.

Taxis are decently priced – from Mong Kok to the Airport, it’ll cost an approximate of $250 – $280 HKD (around $45 bucks).

You can get a local sim card for approximately $25 (if I’m not wrong!), but I preferred having my SG line contactable for various reasons, so I opted for a mobile wifi device.

I’m always wearing boots or covered shoes when I’m in HK, because it can be quite wet at certain areas. A lot of people I know like to wear hats to protect themselves from water dripping off the air-conditioning units hahaha.

In HK Airport, wearing my Uniqlo x Disney hoodie, shorts & nike flyknits! Perfect flight weather apparel if you ask me!

In HK Airport, wearing my Uniqlo x Disney hoodie, shorts & nike flyknits! Perfect flight weather apparel if you ask me!

 

So now that the basics are covered, let’s move on to the most important subject – FOOD!

{ Star Cafe 星座冰室 }

Add: Shop No. 36, Champagne Court, 16-20 Kimberley Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
尖沙咀金巴利道16-20號香檳大廈地庫36號舖
Tel: +852 2724 4408
Opening Hours: Mon – Sat, 08:00 – 21:30

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This was our first stop after landing – and I couldn’t be more grateful because this first meal of the day was extremely delicious! Star Cafe is famed for their tomato broth items – so much that practically half the menu contained a tomato-something.

Noodles in Tomato Broth with Egg

Noodles in Tomato Broth with Egg

Star Cafe isn’t easy to find as it’s hidden from street view, and a place mostly visited by locals.

If you see this sign, you're on the right path!

If you see this sign, you’re on the right path! Just go down the stairwell beneath the sign…

We also had their pork chop at the recommendation of the owner, who claims that he's a personal friend of Andy Lau!

We also had pork chop at the recommendation of the owner, who claims that he’s a personal friend of Andy Lau!

We later checked in to our accommodation – the luxurious Marco Polo hotel!

Quite possibly the most spacious hotel room I've ever stayed in in Hong Kong!

Quite possibly the most spacious hotel room I’ve ever stayed at in Hong Kong!

I've come to realize that many hotels now offer the usage of a handy phone which you can tap into for WIFI (tethering) on the go, or make local calls with! Marco Polo Hotel has free wifi access too which was a nice plus!

I’ve come to realize that many hotels now offer the usage of a handy phone which you can tap into for WIFI (tethering) on the go, or make local calls with! Marco Polo Hotel has free wifi access too which is a nice perk!

The real reason as to why we were staying there - for their annual German Bierfest!!! The Bierfest spans over 3 weeks and has been held at Marco Polo Hotel since its inception in 1992!

The real reason as to why we were staying there – for their annual German Bierfest, held within the same compound! The merrymaking spans over 3 weeks, and has been held at Marco Polo Hotel since its inception in 1992!

It's actually across the Marco Polo Hotel's carpark, but still within the same compound - and on the walk to that, you're able to catch a breathtaking view of the harbour, which the hotel is situated right next to (you can get a good view of it if you get a hotel room facing the right corner)! It's really pretty at night! (Pic credit to Yina)

It’s actually across the Marco Polo Hotel’s carpark, but still within the same compound – and on the walk to that, you’re able to catch a breathtaking view of the harbour, which the hotel is situated right next to (you can get a good view of it if you get a hotel room facing the right corner)! It’s really pretty at night! (Pic credit to Yina)

{ German Bierfest }

Takes place every year during October (check website for more info) 
Harbour Deck 6, Level 6, Marco Polo Hongkong Hotel
Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon

The merrymaking begins in the evening and doesn't end till nearly midnight! The hotel was abuzz with German Bierfest goers.

The merrymaking begins in the evening and doesn’t end till nearly midnight! The hotel was abuzz with German Bierfest goers.

Admission starts from HKD150 and comes with a glass of beer free. We redeemd our food with coupons!

Admission starts from HKD150 and came with a free glass of beer. We redeemed some food to go with the beer with coupons!

German food to go along with German beer, of course! Ribs, corn, bratwurst, apple strudel, ice cream and other pastries to satiate your hunger!

German food to go along with German beer, of course! Ribs, corn, bratwurst, apple strudel, ice cream and other pastries to satiate your hunger!

There were chairs and tables for you to sit and enjoy, but towards the end of the merriment everyone was just crowding around the stage and hopping everywhere - it was pretty fun really if you're in the right mood!

There were chairs and tables for you to sit and enjoy, but towards the end of the merriment everyone was just crowding around the stage and hopping everywhere! Happy hour’s from 6-7 pm.

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I know that this isn't exactly a food place I can pinpoint some one to visit as it only happens every October, but you can definitely consider dropping by if you happen to be traveling here in October next year, or any year! It was such a fun night with the live band dishing out hit after hit that I wished it lasted longer!

I know that this isn’t exactly a food place I can pinpoint someone to visit as it only happens every October, but you can definitely consider dropping by if you happen to be traveling here in October next year, or any year! It was such a fun night with the live band “The Notenhobler” hosting and playing for the event, which has been the official band since the inception of the event, wearing original Oberkrainer clothes, and dishing out hit after hit and even obliging to encore requests from the clearly happy public who couldn’t get enough of them!

{ Kau Kee Beef Brisket 九記牛腩 }

Add: 21 Gough Street, Central, Hong Kong
中環歌賦街21號地舖
Tel: +852 2850 5967
Opening Hours: Mon – Sat, 12.30pm – 10.30pm.

Kau Kee has a history of over 60 years - it was first opened in the 1950's, and has been passed down a generation.

Kau Kee has a history of over 60 years – it first opened in the 1950’s, and has been passed down a generation.

Business was brisk, and so were the service! The food magically appeared on our table practically within SECONDS of us ordering. I might have been exaggerating a little but it was definitely less than 2 minutes, tops.

Business was brisk, and so was the service! The food magically appeared on our table practically within SECONDS of us ordering. I might have been exaggerating a little but it was definitely less than 2 minutes, tops.

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The 2 most popular choices - Beef Brisket Noodles In Broth & Beef Tendon Noodles In Curry! Yina liked it so much she went back a second time!

The 2 most popular choices – Beef Brisket Noodles In Broth & Beef Tendon Noodles In Curry! Yina liked it so much she went back a second time!

I don’t take beef, but I sat down for the soup/noodles without meat, and it was delicious! Expect a queue – it was about 15 minutes before we got some seats. Prices range from $40+ HKD for a bowl of noodles with soup.

{ Roast Goose King 燒鵝大王 }

Add: 119 Fuk Wing Street, Sham Shui Po
深水埗福榮街119號
Tel: +852 2725 9118
Opening Hours: 12pm – 11pm, Daily

Roast Goose King in Sham Shui Po

Roast Goose King in Sham Shui Po

The inside of Roast Goose King. It's more well spaced out than many restaurants, which I appreciate after squeezing here and there!

The inside of Roast Goose King. It’s more well spaced out than many restaurants, which I appreciate after squeezing here and there!

Menu!

Menu!

They were extremely nice, and let us take a look at what happens behind!

They were extremely nice, allowing us to take a look at what happens in the kitchen!

Worth ordering: Roast Goose Rice 烧鹅饭, Char Siew Rice 叉烧饭! I like how tender the charsiew was. Can skip the 烧肉。

Worth ordering: Roast Goose Rice 烧鹅饭, Char Siew Rice 叉烧饭! I like how tender the charsiew was. Can skip the 烧肉。

There was no queue when we swung by, but a short one when we left and the shop is almost always full during the time we were there. Service was pretty good, and I did not have a chance to try Yat Lok, but I’ll prefer this place over Yung Kee anytime.

There was a noodle store with a queue just next to Roast Goose King. If I wasn't so full and we weren't rushing for time, I would have gone in for a bowl!

There was a noodle store with a queue just next to Roast Goose King. If I wasn’t so full and we weren’t rushing for time, I would have gone in for a bowl!

{ Kung Wo Dou Bun Chong 公和荳品廠 }

Add: 118 Pei Ho Street, Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong
深水埗北河街118號地下
Tel: +852 2386 6871
Opening Hours: 7am – 9pm, Daily

Just right around the corner from Roast Goose King, you can find Kung Wo Dou Bun Chong, which specializes in all things soy bean! It was also recently listed in the Michelin Guide 2016 under the street food category!

公和荳品廠 in Sham Shui Po

公和荳品廠 in Sham Shui Po

You can find plenty of soy based products for sale, from drinks to 豆干!

You can find plenty of soy based products for sale, from drinks to 豆干!

What we got! I seriously have no idea what these were because my understanding of cantonese is zero. But I know that they tasted really really good and light - it's perfect as breakfast snack!

What we got! I seriously have no idea what these were because my understanding of cantonese is zero. But I know that they tasted really really good and light – it’s perfect as breakfast snack!

The star of the stall for me was this - 豆花 Beancurd, served plain, which you can top off with orange sugar! IT'S SO GOOD I'M CRAVING FOR IT NOW AS I'M TYPING THIS!

The star of the stall for me was this – 豆花 Beancurd, served plain, which you can top off with orange sugar! IT’S SO GOOD I’M CRAVING FOR IT NOW AS I’M TYPING THIS!

{ Kam Wah 金華冰廳 }

Add: 47 Bute Street, Prince Edward
太子弼街47號地下
Tel: +852 2392 6830
Opening Hours: 6.30am – 12mn Daily

Kam Wah is most famously known for their 菠萝包 (Bolo Bao aka Pineapple Baos)!

Kam Wah is most famously known for their 菠萝包 (Bolo Bao aka Pineapple Baos)!

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There wasn't a queue when we went, but the place was pretty crowded! Service here was really one of the better ones, with happy smiling aunties. It made my day a lot better.

There wasn’t a queue when we went, but the place was pretty crowded! Service here was really one of the better ones, with happy smiling aunties. It made my day a lot better.

Prices!

Prices!

Charsiew Bolo Bao!

Charsiew Bolo Bao!

Yina loved the egg tarts. I'm very much a Portuguese egg tart person : p so I went for the noodles instead. IT'S SO GOOD! Or I could be just really hungry.

Yina loved the egg tarts. I’m very much a Portuguese egg tart person : p so I went for the noodles instead. IT’S SO GOOD! Or I could be just really hungry.

AND THIS. I missed this loads! Sorry I couldn't wait and took a bite off it before we realized that we've forgotten about the honey.

AND THIS. I missed this loads! Sorry I couldn’t wait and took a bite off it before we realized that we’ve forgotten about the honey.

{ Dimsum Icon 点心代表 }
aka Gudetama ぐでたま Themed Dimsum

Add: Shop L308, 3F, The ONE, 100 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
尖沙咀彌敦道100號The ONE 3樓L308號舖
Tel: +852 2885 1345
Opening Hours: 11am – 11pm Daily

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Visiting a Gudetama themed restaurant was top on my list once I saw articles about it. HOW TO RESIST 蛋黄哥?Hahaha!

The tie up between Dimsum Icon and Gudetama looks to be a really good one, with long queues if you come any later than 11.30am (they open at 11am) you can expect to wait 30mins or more for a seat. You can be seated before your entire party arrives, but they do restrict diners to dine within a certain time frame though (1 hour 15 minutes) so be prepared!

Love the logo so much! In case you haven't noticed, it's *dot* *heart* that Gudetama is holding. That literally translate to 点心!

Love the logo so much! In case you haven’t noticed, it’s *dot* *heart* that Gudetama is holding. That literally translates to 点心!

Order ALL THE GUDETAMA DIMSUM! And yes that's what we did. Be forewarned that it's not exactly cheap though - it's approximately 50HKD ($8.90 SGD) for a tray of prawn dumplings!

Order ALL THE GUDETAMA DIMSUM! And yes that’s what we did. Be forewarned that it’s not exactly cheap though – it’s approximately 50HKD ($8.90 SGD) for a tray of prawn dumplings!

It was a bit of a wait for the food, then more wait as we snapped pictures of the regurgitating Gudetama hahaha. Much to our surprise, the dimsum was actually pretty good! The faces are actually printed on edible ricepaper then stuck on to the pastries.

It was a bit of a wait for the food, then more wait as we snapped pictures of the regurgitating Gudetama hahaha.
Much to our surprise, the dimsum was actually pretty good! The faces are actually printed on edible ricepaper then stuck on to the pastries.

One more... XD

One more… XD

They even have a small selection of Dim Sum Icon x Gudetama merchandise here! Hoodies are approximately 100+ SGD though. Gulp.

They even have a small selection of Dim Sum Icon x Gudetama merchandise here! Hoodies are approximately 100+ SGD though. Gulp.

OM NOM NOM!

OM NOM NOM!

{ Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival }

Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival, 22nd - 25th October 2015

Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival, 22nd – 25th October 2015

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A proper photo with Maureen and Yina before we started getting imbibed…

It really pays to be in Hong Kong at the right time! Other than the German Bierfest at Marco Polo Hotel, there was also the Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival, held by CCB (China Construction Bank) Asia.

The event was held at Central Harbourfront's Event Space (Near Central piers 9 & 10), which spans over 36,000 sqm and overlooks the beautiful harbour, and even had a ferris wheel - I instantly regretted my choice of heels for the night, but thankfully they were low heels!

The event was held at Central Harbourfront’s Event Space (Near Central piers 9 & 10), which spans over 36,000 sqm and overlooks the beautiful harbour, and even had a ferris wheel – the Hong Kong Observation Wheel – I instantly regretted my choice of heels for the night, but thankfully they were low heels!

With over 300 food & wine booths, you'd definitely be spoilt for choice here! And not just that - there was a stage set up for performances to keep you entertained, as well as a privately ticketed area for you to enjoy your wine and food in a quieter and plusher, green area.

With over 100 food & 200+ wine booths, you’d definitely be spoilt for choice here! And not just that – there was a stage set up for performances to keep you entertained, as well as a privately ticketed area (Garden Party) for you to enjoy your wine and food in a quieter and plusher, green area.

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The Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival was more than massive, but neatly categorized into 10 different thematic zones for food & drinks, featuring winning dishes from 2015’s Best of the Best Culinary Awards & signature dishes from HK’s renowned hotels & restaurants.

FIVE THEMATIC WINE ZONES:

Riedel Grand Tasting Pavilion (premium wines, rare and fine wines collection)
Cheering Zone (champagne, party wines, cocktails and sparkling wine)
Country Pavilions (fine wine and delicacies from Bordeaux, Europe, Germany, Italy, Japan, Portugal, Spain & the US)
Discovery Zone (new products, new wine producers & chateaux, whisky, craft beer)
Wine Experts Zone (professional wine selection and services)

FIVE THEMATIC FOOD ZONES:

Star Avenue (Renowned restaurants were invited to exhibit at the Festival)
Dessert Discovery (with dessert like chocolate and pastry)
Festival Treats (street food, burgers and fries, cheese and ham)
Gourmet Trails (Modern Contemporary Western Cuisine, Hotel Delicious, Best of the Best Culinary Awards Winners)
Spicy and Tasty (Fine meat, taste of herbs and spice from exotic countries)

Admission is merely $30 HKD, which will be waived with the purchase of a wine pass - there are many wine pass tiers, and the most basic starts from $100 HKD which entitles you to a wine glass (comes with a holder to hang around your neck), plus 5 classic wine tokens in your pass (it's stored value, sort of like an ez-link card) with the option to purchase extra credit at top up stations for more drinks! For food - you can either use vouchers from a provided booklet, or pay cash should it be insufficient!

Admission was a mere $30 HKD, which was waived with the purchase of a wine pass – there were many wine pass tiers, and the most basic starts from $100 HKD which entitles you to a wine glass (comes with a holder to hang around your neck), plus 5 classic wine tokens in your pass (it’s stored value, sort of like an ez-link card) with the option to purchase extra credit at top up stations for more drinks!
For food – you can either use vouchers from a provided booklet, or pay cash should it be insufficient!

These were yum! Clams cooked in Tom Yum ~

These were yum! Clams cooked in Tom Yum ~

Cheese and Ham!

Cheese and Ham!

Most of the night, I was doing this actually. (Redeeming my drinks from vendors)

Most of the night, I was doing this actually. (Redeeming my drinks from vendors)

... and this. (Drinking)

… and this. (Drinking)

Yina had the Juicy Pear Cider

Yina had the Juicy Pear Cider

Speaking of Beer Room, it was one of my favorite exhibits! It's new to the Wine & Dine festivals, featuring craft beers with unique flavors and I really liked what I had - Honeydew Yuzu!

Speaking of Beer Room, it was one of my favorite exhibits! It’s new to the Wine & Dine Festival, featuring craft beers with unique flavors and I really liked what I had – Honeydew Yuzu!

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This was also where I fell in love with Choya Green Tea! I had to get a second filling before we went to a quieter area overlooking Victoria Habour to wrap filming up!

This was also where I fell in love with Choya Green Tea! I had to get a second filling before moving to a quieter area overlooking Victoria Habour to wrap filming up!

Can you tell how massive this event is?! Even my wide angle lens couldnt capture everything in one shot!

Can you tell how massive this event is?! Even my wide angle lens couldn’t capture everything in one shot!

Guess who was a happy camper? XD I wish I had discovered this fair earlier - it's not just an eating/drinking place, but it's so much fun as a girl's night out or an evening with friends if we are in Hong Kong!

Guess who was a happy camper? XD
I wish I had discovered this fair earlier – it’s not just an eating/drinking place, but it’s so much fun as a girl’s night out or an evening with friends if we are in Hong Kong!

The Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival actually extends beyond this – in fact, it’s a whole month of wining and dining, starting from mid October to end November – and this festival is just to kick start the month’s worth of Wine & Dine festivities around various locations in Hong Kong, spanning from events, to offers, and workshops / tasting sessions!

OOTD for the night - Rosebullet dress, Zara booties & YSL handbag! Love the cityscape behind me. Thank you Yina for taking this!!!

OOTD for the night – Rosebullet dress, Zara booties & YSL handbag! Love the cityscape behind me. Thank you Yina for taking this!!!

Check out the video below to see our experience at the Hong Kong Wine & Dine video!

Another video of our food adventure in Hong Kong is coming soon – stay tuned!

I know it can be a little too much to absorb in a blog post, so I’ve actually created a little map to share on Google with you guys – this details the places I’ve been to (or want to visit) in HK, as well as my preferred choices of hotels!

List includes:

the old school but so pretty (in mint!) looking Tai Cheong Bakery, which has super nice egg tarts according to my friends! We also bought tidbits back for our family from here!

The old school but so pretty (in mint!) looking Tai Cheong Bakery, which has super nice egg tarts according to my friends! We also bought tidbits back for our family from here!

Yung Kee - go here to tapao Century eggs, only dine here if you are feeling rich (because the bill came up to almost $200 for 5 of us)

Yung Kee – go here to tapao Century eggs, only dine here if you are feeling rich (because the bill came up to almost $200 for 5 of us)

Click here to access Evonnz’s EAT. PLAY. SHOP Google Map in HK! 

Stay tuned for the 2nd chapter coming up soon, on what to do and where to shop in HK!

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Wonderful Indonesia Day 3 – Penanjakan, Mt. Bromo Sunrise, Whispering Sands & Malang

By | Asia, Indonesia, Travel | No Comments

Picking up from where I left off in Part 1 (Day 1 & 2, hiking up Kawah Ijen!), we were housed in the 4-star Jiwa Jawa Resort (also previously known as Java Banana Lodge) which was a really nice place to stay at! I literally had no complaint about this place, except that the internet connection was pretty poor at some parts of the resort (primarily our residential area, reception/cafe was fine).

Temperatures at night hovered around 10 degrees or so since it was 2000m above sea level. If you were to drive up in the day, the view would impress you for sure (and also be quite scary as the bus made its way up). Make sure you bring warm clothes for this part!

Since it was so cold, waking up at 2am and getting ready by 2.30 was no easy feat. *mock horror emoji* Thankfully I brought along warm clothing items to tide me by!

We boarded the bus and left for Mt. Penanjakan, from where we would be able to view the beautiful sunrise over the Bromo-Tengger-Semeru district.

Erh, but I thought you were going to Mt. Bromo? 

Common sense would tell us that we wouldn’t be able to view Bromo from Bromo, lah.

So instead, we had to go up to Penanjakan, which was a super popular spot for tourists and even the locals when they wanted to go somewhere romantic!

The sun started appearing at about 4.30am – 5am, but we had to be there by 3.30am latest (bus ride from Jiwa Jawa was about 45 minutes) to “chope” better viewing spots and avoid the traffic jam up the mountain! If you get there too late, your jeep or bus might have to park really far away and that would mean walking a longer distance up. Ack.

I saw some people walking up the mountain instead of taking a jeep actually – My muscles would be crying murder should I have to go on yet another mountain hike, so thank god for the jeeps, and that the viewing point was a mere few steps away from the warung which we stopped by for some refreshments!

What is a warung? "is a type of small family-owned business — often a casual shop, a modest small restaurant or café — in Indonesia."

What is a warung?
“is a type of small family-owned business — often a casual shop, a modest small restaurant or café — in Indonesia.”

Check out my "not enough sleep" face, haha. We all sat down and enjoyed some hot milo (it was really coldddd!) and also had some pop mie, goreng pisangs and other indonesian snacks! Yummy and really good place to sit down and spend time while waiting for the sun to rise. Would be awesome if I had brought some card games along!

Check out my “not enough sleep” face, haha. We all sat down and enjoyed some hot milo (it was really coldddd!) and also had some pop mie, goreng pisangs and other indonesian snacks! Yummy and really good place to sit down and spend time while waiting for the sun to rise. Would be awesome if I had brought some card games along!

While the rest of them waited in the cafe, I was determined to capture some stars no matter what so I grabbed my tripod and was surprised to find that it took me all of 50 steps to get to the viewing point, which was EXTREMELY OCCUPIED even at just 4am! Like, what?! All of you don’t need to sleep ah!?!

Found a spot, set up my tripod in the cold (it was seriously freezing!) and snapped away in the dark atop the viewing point at Gunung Penanjakan.

Gunung Penanjakan

“Mount Penanjakan (2,770m), its peak also called Viewpoint #1, located just north of the caldera, is a mountain-top viewpoint accessible by paved road from Tosari and hence popular with jeeps and even tour buses. It’s the highest point easily accessible, so many visit here to get a good look around. The most popular sight is the sunrise: most of the crowd comes to see the dawn at 05:00 and you will likely have the large concrete observation post to yourself if you arrive later in the day. Ancient Javanese Hindu texts tell of how Bromo-Penanjakan-Semeru (or Mahameru as it was then) was the spiritual axis of the universe and the point of all creation. The view from Penanjakan will explain why – it is truly breathtaking. This is where most of those iconic picture postcard views are taken from.” – Wikitravel

overlooking the city.... not in the right conditions to get the milky way, but definitely captured the stars : D

overlooking the city…. not in the right conditions to get the milky way, but definitely captured the stars : D

sun was slowly rising

sun was slowly rising

I also tried out the star trail function (aka Live Composite) of the Olympus OMD EM5MK2, which is also present in the newer olympus cameras like my E-PL7! I didn't have enough time to finish the shots, so here's a partial. Given the right place and time, I would love to try again!

I also tried out the star trail function (aka Live Composite) of the Olympus OMD EM5MK2, which is also present in the newer olympus cameras like my E-PL7! I didn’t have enough time to finish the shots, so here’s a partial. Given the right place and time, I would love to try again!

Since the sun was rising already, my guide/planner tried to bring me to another spot to catch the sunrise. On the way there, I passed by the viewing pavilion and… IT WAS FULLY PACKED! It was so full of people standing that you would have mistaken it for an ongoing mega sale! I now know why they make people come a whole 2 hours before the sun rose. If you don’t, you wouldn’t be able to get any spot at all, let alone good spots.

So the guide took us to a secret place which was so amazing that I thanked them profusely 10 times (at least), and I quickly set up my tripod only to realize that I lost my mount! WTF. Good grief! And I just used it about 5 minutes prior! Sigh. Still it was wide enough for my other camera – I took a time lapse video on the HTC RE camera, while shooting stills with the OMD E-M5 MKII!

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It was utterly breathtaking. And also very cold. But anything for this!!!

So cold, but so worth the wait! 🌞🌄 Much grander in person, but here you go – the sunrise as viewed from #Penanjakan, #WonderfulIndonesia (captured with my #HTCRe camera) We were all onboard keeps by 230am, and reached Penanjakan by 3.30am to avoid the crowd. There are little warungs (cafes) for you to warm up and satiate your hunger at since it was a chilly 10-12 degrees before the break of dawn (pop mie! milo!) Sunrise began at 5:20am approximately, but we were there much earlier to get a good seat, as were everyone (since this was easy to get to, hence the crowd), and all you need is good company (and good wind proof clothes) while you wait! Thankful for the wonderful guides and planners #GarudaIndonesiaSG had planned for us because if not there would be about a thousand heads in this video! 💖 #evonnzinIndonesia #NuffnangSGxGarudaxVITO #NuffnangSG

A video posted by Evonne Ng ★ 琳 (@evonnz) on

Another one, after the sun came up!

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Thank you, Adi (guide) & Senna (planner)!

Thank you, Adi (guide) & Senna (planner)!

On the other side; the view was extremely gorgeous too! Cotton candy colored skies!

On the other side; the view was extremely gorgeous too! Cotton candy colored skies!

And of course, the view of the Bromo-Tengger-Semeru caldera from the secret spot! I'm so glad I brought the 12-40mm with me, because it allowed for better framing and also gave me this beautiful postcard shot!! I was like, ready to go home already after this shot hahaha. It's extremely beautiful!

And of course, the view of the Bromo-Tengger-Semeru caldera from the secret spot! I’m so glad I brought the 12-40mm with me, because it allowed for better framing and also gave me this beautiful postcard shot!! I was like, ready to go home already after this shot hahaha. It’s extremely beautiful!

At the very back - that's Mt Semeru, which is the highest point at 3676m. In the very front, that's Mt Batok - which is dormant and inactive - and between Semeru & Batok lies Mt Bromo, which is smoking!

At the very back – that’s Mt Semeru, which is the highest point at 3676m. In the very front, that’s Mt Batok – which is dormant and inactive – and between Semeru & Batok lies Mt Bromo, which is smoking!

The nuffies later came over to join me at my secret spot hehehe. This was actually also pretty popular a location with the tourists. You might have to ask them to get out of your picture politely, but it's not as packed as the viewing pavilion for sure!

The nuffies later came over to join me at my secret spot hehehe. This was actually also pretty popular a location with the tourists. You might have to ask them to get out of your picture politely, but it’s not as packed as the viewing pavilion for sure!

And with our sunrise captures done, we were off to part 2 of our adventure around this mountainous area... Horseback riding and hiking up the actual Mt Bromo!

And with our sunrise captures done, we were off  on our jeep again for part 2 of our adventure around this mountainous area… Pony riding and hiking up the actual Mt Bromo!

 Mount Bromo

“Mount Bromo (Gunung Bromo), is an active volcano and part of the Tengger massif, in East Java, Indonesia. At 2,329 metres (7,641 ft) it is not the highest peak of the massif, but is the most well known. The massif area is one of the most visited tourist attractions in East Java, Indonesia. The name of Bromo derived from Javanese pronunciation of Brahma, the Hindu creator god. Mount Bromo sits in the middle of a vast plain called the “Sea of Sand” (Javanese: Segara Wedi or Indonesian: Lautan Pasir), a protected nature reserve since 1919.” – Wikipedia

P.S. It might be interesting to note that Mount Bromo is active, and the most recent eruption was in 2011. 

The Nuffnang Bloggeratis with the Indonesian bloggers, after arriving near Bromo!

The Nuffnang Bloggeratis with the Indonesian bloggers, after arriving near Bromo!

The jeep stops everyone a distance away from the crater at this place they refer to as Sea of Sands, and you can have two options – walk, OR get a pony ride to the base of Mt Bromo’s crater!

Well with our muscles aching, there’s no way we’re gonna walk. Anyway it wasn’t in our plans as our wonderful guides and planners have already arranged it for us! Hehehe. By the way, the horses and their owners will literally shove a piece of paper with the horses’ name written on it in your face.

Hi. Meet my horse, Mail.

Hi. Meet my camera shy pony, Mail.

Mail and his handler. The pony has a handler, who will walk it to the crater base on foot while you sit on the pony! After getting a pony ride I've realized how hard it is to keep my ass on the pony. I mean okay, it wasn't exactly rocket science but wow this requires some good balance - I didn't even dare to release my grip on the handles to use my camera!

Mail and his handler. The pony has a handler, who will walk it to the crater base on foot while you sit on the pony!
After getting a pony ride I’ve realized how hard it is to keep my ass on the pony. I mean okay, it wasn’t exactly rocket science but wow this requires some good balance – I didn’t even dare to release my grip on the handles to use my camera!

Tips on the pony ride: Bring a mask. You don’t need a gas mask, but an N95 particle mask would be good, because (as you can see) there were extremely fine volcanic sand and soil particles everywhere at Sea of Sands, being kicked up by ponies and humans alike. And also a pair of good sunnies as it’s pretty bright.

The ponies will bring you to a resting point just right at the foot of the crater to disembark and go up the volcano by foot. You were passed a tag before you got up the pony - you have to keep it, and then when you're done with climbing up bromo, you'll use this tag to identify which pony will take you back. Note that the ponies may head back to fetch more people, so sometimes you'll be assigned to a different horse if you're done too quickly or too slowly.

The ponies will bring you to a resting point just right at the foot of the crater to disembark and go up the volcano by foot. (I’m taking this picture from beyond the fence, not outside) 
You were passed a tag before you got up the pony – you have to keep it, and then when you’re done with climbing up bromo, you’ll use this tag to identify which pony will take you back. Note that the ponies may head back to fetch more people, so sometimes you’ll be assigned to a different horse if you’re done too quickly or too slowly.

Along the ride to the base, you can see a few huts serving drinks and food - and you'll also see people selling offerings.

Along the ride to the base, you can see a few huts serving drinks and food – and you’ll also see people selling offerings to throw into the crater.

“On the fourteenth day of the Hindu festival of Yadnya Kasada, the Tenggerese people of Probolinggo, East Java, travel up the mountain in order to make offerings of fruit, rice, vegetables, flowers and sacrifices of livestock to the mountain gods by throwing them into the caldera of the volcano.” – Wikipedia

Meet Mount Bromo. It's 300 steps up this thing to Mount Bromo's crater rim, where you can... view the sulfur lake / steam / throw offerings in! I did not go up (my aching muscles) so my view of Mount Bromo ends here, haha.

Meet Mount Bromo. It’s 300 steps up this thing to Mount Bromo’s crater rim, where you can… view the sulfur lake / steam / throw offerings in! I did not go up (my aching muscles) so my view of Mount Bromo ends here, haha.

Randy's horse with its handler. The ponies are just so adorable!

Randy’s horse with its handler. The ponies are just so adorable!

Randy said his horse is quite temperamental though.

Randy said his horse is quite temperamental though.

Me, Jess & Randy on our ponies!

Me, Jess & Randy on our ponies!

After everyone had gathered back, we were off on the jeep again to the next destination: Teletubbies Hill & Whispering Sands!

 Teletubbies Hill

When we were told that we’re headed to Teletubbies Hill we got reactions like “huh? does it look like a teletubby? or did it inspire the backdrop for teletubbies (the tv show)?”

As it turns out, nah. It’s a savannah with green hills that remind people of the teletubbies backdrop. Heh. It’s not too far away from Bromo ; )

Teletubbies hill behind us!

Teletubbies hill behind us!

Everyone got a shot with the jeeps so.. here. hahahaha. I loved our jeep's decalas though, and our driver's pretty awesome!

Everyone got a shot with the jeeps so.. here. hahahaha. I loved our jeep’s decals, and our driver’s pretty awesome!

 Whispering Sands (Pasir Berbisik)

Just a little further up, you’ll reach Whispering Sands – a vast sea of sand with nothing obstructing the blue skies above it – it’s such a refreshing sight from the city skylines we’ve been accustomed to!

Our awesome jeep driver drove us a distance away from where the jeeps were all parked for a better view, and indeed it was!

Our awesome jeep driver drove us a distance away from where the jeeps were all parked for a better view, and indeed it was!

evonnz-indonesia-whispering-sands-1

OOTD taking in progress... XD

Bloggers at work – OOTD taking in progress! XD

We were supposed to go to a waterfall attraction, but we decided to swop that out for some snacks shopping and a massage for our aching muscles instead! Headed back to Jiwa Jawa Resort, packed our stuff and checked out for the next part of our adventure.

But first, lunch!

Not a fan of brinjal, but I think I've grown to love indonesian food quite a bit!

Not a fan of brinjal, but I think I’ve grown to love indonesian food quite a bit!

Then it was off to shop for Indonesian / Malang snacks at Goedang Oleh Oleh

Goedang is a huge souvenir shop - mostly snacks, and I've heard that apple chips are really popular in Malang!

Goedang is a huge souvenir shop – mostly snacks, and I’ve heard that apple chips are really popular in Malang!

It was such worth it to get snacks here due to the reasonable price, and also as we had 30kg of luggage allowance aboard Garuda Airlines (since it’s not a low cost carrier!) and they package your items into boxes if you need them to!

So yeah we went a bit overboard...

So yeah we all went a bit overboard… whoops.

 Malang City

“Malang is the second largest city in East Java. The city was capital city of Singhasari in 1222, then transferred to Dutch colony. Malang was modernized under the Dutch; its mild climate which results from its elevation, along with its proximity to the major port of Surabaya, made it a popular destination for the Dutch and other Europeans. People in East Java sometimes call it “Paris of East Java.” In 2013, Malang was spared many of the effects of the Asian financial crisis, and since that time it has been marked by steady economic and population growth.”

Malang's pretty beautiful during sunset, isn't it?

Malang’s pretty beautiful during sunset, isn’t it?

We were brought to the Martha Tilaar Spa, which is quite a popular chain of spas all over Indonesia!

Arriving at the Martha Tilaar Salon Day Spa in Malang!

Arriving at the Martha Tilaar Salon Day Spa in Malang!

All the girls waiting for our massages to begin! We were all assigned to a room each, except for Sheila and Zoe who opted for the couple's room.

All the girls waiting for our massages to begin! We were all assigned to a room each, except for Sheila and Zoe who opted for the couple’s room.

The spa was really spacious, and every room has a bathtub for you to wash yourself post massage. It was most refershing! They even have ionizers in each room to maintain a better air quality. (I was impressed as I have the exact same ionizer at home!)

The spa was really spacious, and every room has a bathtub for you to wash yourself post massage. It was most refershing! They even have ionizers in each room to maintain a better air quality. (I was impressed as I have the exact same ionizer at home!)

Each massage was about 90 minutes long and really relaxing – I fell asleep and that really rejuvenated me! Indonesia’s known for their hair spas too, which was what the guys went through as we had our massages. I would really recommend slotting a massage session in if you’re in Indonesia!

Nothing better than a good dinner after a relaxing massage, right? Unless it’s a good dinner… with a view! The planners and guides had a treat in store for us – dinner with a view!

Taman Indie River View, Resto, Malang

Taman Indie River View, Resto, Malang

The entrance was grand, but it did not depict how big and grand it was inside! As it turns out, Taman Indie River View Resto was 2nd on the list for top restaurants in Malang on tripadvisor! One thing I realized about dinner places in Indonesia – they’re sprawling! And really, really cozy. It’s like every corner’s different and just super inviting with their comfortable seats!

They even have souvenirs for purchase!

Dinner by the river! We had buffet and our tables were joined up below the beautiful lights - if you want to dine here for good, it's best that you make reservations for a good seat!

Dinner by the river! We had buffet and our tables were joined up below the beautiful lights – if you want to dine here for good, it’s best that you make reservations for a good seat!

We enjoyed good Indonesian cuisine (buffet style cos there’s too many of us) and great conversation at this place! Malang’s fairly comfortable – ranges from 28 in the day to 22 at night, so you actually don’t get too hot or sweaty here.

We’ve had a long day so we were really all looking forward to a good night’s rest – at Singhasari Resort, Malang!

The resort was so huge that I didn't have any way to capture everything in its entirety! You can view the website here!

The resort was so huge that I didn’t have any way to capture everything in its entirety! You can view the website here!

I was so tired that I fell asleep really early after a hot shower! After all, we’ve been out since 2.30am. We were bound for Batu the next day – Batu Secret Zoo, Museum Angkut and a bus ride to Surabaya awaits us!

Promos, Discounts & Info!

Useful information should you be interested! If you have any more questions, please ask away in the comments section!

Garuda x Nuffnang Promotion

Special promo price: SGD 350 (all inclusive)
Booking period: From now till 31 Oct 15
Travel period: From now till Mar 16

Destinations featured
Departure: Singapore -> Denpasar (Bali) –> Banyuwangi
Return: Surabaya –> Singapore

Booking details: Tickets are available for purchase at Garuda ticketing office
(101 Thomson Road #12-03 United Square)
or via the reservation hotline +65 6250 2888.

Promo code: Please quote ‘GANuffnang’ when booking

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Please email trisno@dioramagroup.net for information

Mt Bromo Info
Entrance Ticket:
Weekday : IDR 207500/pax‎
Weekend : IDR 307500/pax‎
Rent a horse : start from IDR 125000 – 150000

Local Transport (Jeep Hardtop 4×4):
From Malang: IDR 1500000/jeep
From Pasuruan: IDR 800000/jeep (4 attractions) | IDR 600000/jeep (2 attractions)
From Probolinggo: IDR 750000/jeep (4 attractions) | IDR 500000/jeep ( 2 attractions)

Local Transport (jeep, trooper): IDR 75.000

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Visit http://www.acetravelinsurance.com.sg/nuffnang!
*Not applicable to Basic Plan for Malaysia/Batam/Bintan

Use code “VDSGEVONNZ” for 20% OFF at VisonData!
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All images in this post shot with an Olympus OMD EM5 MKII + 12-40mm.

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Wonderful Indonesia Day 1 & 2 – Flying to East Java with Garuda + Kawah Ijen Mountain Hiking

By | Asia, Travel | No Comments

So far, this has been a year of many firsts.

First time overseas with my favourite girlfriends, first time to Taiwan, Germany & Vietnam (which surprised a lot of friends cos they think that I only like visiting cold countries), and this trip, my first time hiking up a mountain!

If you ask me, I probably wouldn’t have planned this in a million years because I’m just not sporty. I cannot count with 2 hands the number of people who’ve expressed their shock at this piece of information. But hey, if Evonne can “climb a mountain”, so can you!

If you were to ask the typical Singaporean whether they’ve been to Indonesia and where, they would most likely respond with the typical answer of “Bali” or “Bintan” – and that would be my exact reply too, hahaha. This trip though, have opened my eyes to the bountiful sights Indonesia has to offer.

We were blessed that Nuffnang Singapore Blogger’s trip to East Java, organized jointly by Garuda Indonesia and Visit Indonesia Tourism Office, was all well planned for – from flights, food, to transport on land and even our insurance (IMPORTANT!) were covered by ACE Insurance – all I had to do was to soak up the beauty and culture of East Java with my fellow Nuffnang Bloggeratis!

In the span of 5 days / 4 nights, we scaled the famous Ijen Crater, got a fabulous view of Mt Bromo and the surrounding spots of interest (Whispering sands), and then to explore what Malang & Surabaya has to offer!

P.S. Did you know that Indonesia has over 18,000 islands?
If you were to spend 1 day on each island alone, it would take you 50 years to finish exploring everything!

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Call time was 6am at Changi Airport (can you tell from my not-awake eyes?) – our Garuda flight was at 7:50am! A photo of us Nuffnang Bloggeratis and the ladies from Garuda before our adventure began! They had a dedicated check-in counter for us, how sweet!

I know there has been a lot of aviation scared recently, but I knew that I could trust Garuda, since they were pretty well known, with an extensive flight network as the 20th member of the SkyTeam alliance, with a modern and young fleet of technologically advanced aircraft!

Garuda Indonesia was awarded "Best Cabin Crew" by Skytrax – a London-based, independent airline ranking agency, and it has won it two years in a row (2014 & 2015)!

Garuda Indonesia was awarded “Best Cabin Crew” by Skytrax – a London-based, independent airline ranking agency, and it has won it two years in a row (2014 & 2015)!

We were pleasantly surprised by the Business Class seats they offered us – it’s actually my first time on business class! Garuda Indonesia is NOT a LCC  (low cost carrier), so you can rest assured that your business class seats are comfortable!

Spacious, plush seats for you to sink into - and a welcome drink once you board the flight (before taking off)!

Spacious, plush seats for you to sink into – towels, and a welcome drink once you board the flight (before taking off)!

They provide you with cushions and blankets in business class!

They provide you with cushions and blankets in business class! And yesssss to leg roommmm!

Seat buddy, Jessica! So glad to be travelling with some familiar faces!

Seat buddy, Jessica! So glad to be travelling with some familiar faces!

This woman can really sleep during flights and when we are travelling (buses too). And while she was fast asleep, the cabin crew made sure not to disturb her - but once she woke, they immediately asked her if she wanted breakfast!

This woman can really sleep during flights and when we are travelling (buses too). And while she was fast asleep, the cabin crew made sure not to disturb her – but once she woke, they immediately asked her if she wanted breakfast!

And breakfast is served! I choose mee goreng of course hehehe

And breakfast is served! I choose mee goreng of course hehehe

Jess had an omelette - I still very much prefer local fare!

Jess had an omelette – I still very much prefer local fare!

Nuffnang bloggeratis and Garuda Indonesia's excellent cabin crew!

Nuffnang bloggeratis – Jess, Shenny, Charlene, Zoe, Sheila, Randy & Andy + Garuda Indonesia’s excellent cabin crew behind us!

There are many ways of getting to the city where Kawah Ijen is nearest to, but the route planned for us was to board a flight on Garuda Airlines from Singapore to Denpasar (yes Bali, Ngurah Rai International Airport), where we would then take a smaller propeller plane from Denpasar to Banyuwangi (Blimbingsari Airport)!

 

As Garuda VIPs, there was a comfy transfer bus waiting to take us to the airport!

As Garuda VIPs, there was a comfy transfer bus waiting to take us to the airport when the plane hit the tarmac!

I haven't been to Bali in a few years, and I was surprised by how different it looks! As it turns out, the Ngurah Rai International Airport's new International Wing was completed back in 2013, while the existing one was renovated and used as a domestic terminal instead. Garuda Airlines is to Indonesia like how SQ is to Singapore, and they have a number of VIP services offered to Garuda's preferred clientele, such as VIP baggage service, where you relax in a lounge and wait while your luggage is being retrieved!

I haven’t been to Bali in a few years, and I was surprised by how different it looks! As it turns out, the Ngurah Rai International Airport’s new International Wing was completed back in 2013, while the existing one was renovated and used as a domestic terminal instead.
Garuda Airlines is to Indonesia like how SQ is to Singapore, and they have a number of VIP services offered to Garuda’s preferred clientele, such as VIP baggage service, where you relax in a lounge and wait while your luggage is being retrieved!

 

There was a short wait between flights at Denpasar and Banyuwangi, so Garuda actually arranged a small surprise for us – lunch outside the airport, at Kuta, Bali! It was a very quick drive out from the airport – it was literally around the corner.

We were brought to the nearby Discovery Shopping Mall along Kartika Plaza St, where Segara Seafood Restaurant was!

We were brought to the nearby Discovery Shopping Mall along Kartika Plaza St – Segara Seafood & Indonesian Restaurant was right outside the end exit of the mall.

It was scorching hot, but the restaurant offered plenty of sheltered seats and we had the natural sea breeze to cool down with, which wasn't too bad that day!

It was scorching hot, but the restaurant offered plenty of sheltered seats and we had the natural sea breeze to cool down with, which wasn’t too bad that day!

Segara overlooked the beautiful beaches of Kuta! Listening to the waves crashing and enjoying my lunch in the shade was sheer bliss. I didnt mind the squirrels clambering around the stilts above us either haha. It was idyllic life at its best.

Segara overlooked the beautiful beaches of Kuta! Listening to the waves crashing and enjoying my lunch in the shade was sheer bliss. I didnt mind the squirrels clambering around the stilts above us either haha. It was idyllic life at its best.

We were all given SIM Cards to use with out phones - really thoughtful of our guides and planners!

We were all given SIM Cards (simPATI Freedom Prepaid) to use with out phones – really thoughtful of our guides and planners! simPATI supposedly has the best rates and coverage, but I didn’t want to change simcards as I would prefer to be contactable by my original number. I got myself a portable wifi device from Visondata instead (enter VDSGEVONNZ for 20% off!) and did some comparison – connection wasn’t any poorer or slower than the sim cards and it did help to save battery life on my phone when we went into areas with poor reception!

We made the only boy in our group serve us hahaha. Thank you Randy!!!

We made the only boy in our group serve us hahaha. Thank you Randy!!!

YUM! Really tasty fare.

YUM! Really tasty fare at Segara. I did not expect this good a stopover and view just for lunch!

We then boarded a smaller propeller plane at the domestic airport, which would take us to Banyuwangi! Here's a pic of all of us - I believe it's everyone's first time on a propeller plane!

We then boarded a smaller propeller plane at the domestic airport, which would take us to Banyuwangi! Here’s a pic of all of us – I believe it’s everyone’s first time on a propeller plane! We’re all in Liverpool jerseys because Garuda is a partner sponsor!

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With Jess! And my bag of chips which had a story. I had this bag of chips in my bag all the way till the last leg of the trip - it bloated up as we went to higher altitudes LOL before I finally decided to rip it open on the last leg back to Singapore. HAHAHA.

With Jess! And my bag of chips which had a story. I had this bag of chips in my bag all the way till the last leg of the trip – it bloated up as we went to higher altitudes LOL before I finally decided to rip it open on the last leg back to Singapore. HAHAHA.

And we land safely in Banyuwangi!

And we land safely in Banyuwangi’s Blimbingsari Airport, !

“Banyuwangi (Fragrant Water) is at the easternmost tip of Java, and is best known for its ferry connection at Ketapang to Gilimanuk in Bali. This area has a lot more to offer though and it is becoming better known as a visitor destination in its own right. Banyuwangi is also the gateway to some stunning volcanic scenery on the Ijen Plateau as well as the main access point for the Baluran National Park, world renowned surfing at G-Land (Grajagan), and the remote Alas Purwo National Park. – Wikitravel

We were welcomed by the mayor of Banyuwangi and given some token headgear! I thought it was really cute!

We were welcomed by the mayor of Banyuwangi and given some token headgear! I thought it was really cute!

With Veronika from Garuda!

With Veronika from Garuda!

Did I mention that we were being fed non stop? We boarded a bus which would take us to our hotel while showing us around Banyuwangi, where we were to freshen up and have dinner with some very important people - BUT BEFORE THAT, we were given yet ANOTHER snack box for the bus ride. *emoticon with shocked face*

Did I mention that we were being fed non stop? We boarded a bus which would take us to our hotel while showing us around Banyuwangi, where we were to freshen up and have dinner with some very important people – BUT BEFORE THAT, we were given yet ANOTHER snack box for the bus ride. *emoticon with shocked face*

I enjoyed the bus view though - the bus was comfortable, well air-conditioned and they had water for us in the bus too! The scenery outside was full of greens as the bus rolled down to the city area - a whole lot of planting going on!

I enjoyed the bus view though – the bus was comfortable, well air-conditioned and they had water for us in the bus too! The scenery outside was full of greens as the bus rolled down to the city area – a whole lot of planting going on!

Indonesian hospitality : D

Indonesian hospitality : D

After an hour's ride or so (there was a short detour to show us around the place) - we arrive at Hotel Santika, which looked really pretty and presentable! Can't say I didnt feel impressed, really!

After an hour’s ride or so (there was a short detour to show us around the place) – we arrive at Hotel Santika Banyuwangi, which looked really pretty and presentable! Can’t say I didnt feel impressed, really!

Hotel Santika Banyuwangi's rooms didnt disappoint either - it was generally clean, spacious and brightly lit. My only gripe was 1 - the floor seemed to be a little dusty (wear bedroom slippers!) and 2 - they seemed to be having a little electricity issue that day we arrived as we had a few blackouts within an hour. It didn't happen again though for the rest of the night!

Hotel Santika Banyuwangi’s rooms didnt disappoint either – it was generally clean, pretty spacious and brightly lit. My only gripe was 1 – the floor seemed to be a little dusty (wear bedroom slippers!) and 2 – they seemed to be having a little electricity issue that day we arrived as we had a few blackouts within an hour. It didn’t happen again though for the rest of the night!

The view from my room at Hotel Santika Banyuwangi!

The view from my room at Hotel Santika Banyuwangi!

Ondeh ondeh!!! And other coconutty desserts!!!

Ondeh ondeh!!! And other coconutty desserts!!!

Dinner time! It was hosted by the hotel and we all got to savour some pretty nice Indonesian fare! I kept going back for the mee hahaha.

Dinner time! It was hosted by the hotel and we all got to savour some pretty nice Indonesian fare! I kept going back for the mee hahaha.

Us with the VIPs that night, from Banyuwangi and Ministry of Tourism Indonesia!

Us with the VIPs that night, Mayor from Banyuwangi and Ministry of Tourism Indonesia!

By then it was almost 9pm and we really needed to prepare, and then catch up on our sleep as we start our hike at midnight! YES MIDNIGHT!

Gear for the hike up!

Gear for the hike up!

What to wear for hiking up Kawah Ijen? I was told that it’s around 2 – 8 degrees, but it didn’t feel like it at all, so it really wasn’t necessary to go all arctic expedition here. It gets warm when the sun rises and also when you’re hiking up, so I decided to layer smartly.

  • Comfy shoes with a GOOD GRIP on the SOLE (also, preferably wear ankle socks, or something high so that you don’t get abrasions at the back of your feet (I didn’t, sensitivity differs from person to person) and less dirt on your feet)
  • Layers – I had on a relatively thin windproof jacket from Under Armour, but a fleece layer inside (which I later took off halfway up the hike)
  • Neck warmer (mine’s a balaclava from north face, you can bring a scarf but i found this most convenient)
  • Beanie (to keep your head warm and lose less heat, however I didn’t really wear this in the end. Also protects your head from all the dust)
  • Tights / Comfy pants (anything that wouldn’t obstruct you from climbing – I personally didn’t find thick woolen layers or windproof pants necessary)

I would think that if I had known about the slippery downslopes earlier, I might have brought some padding for my knees too because we nearly slipped a few times! Heat pack to me weren’t necessary because you get hot and sweaty really fast hiking up!

Prepping essentials! Which I later regret bringing this much of.

Prepping essentials! Which I later regret bringing this much of.

When I first showed my husband what I’d intended to bring along for my hike, he laughed at me.
What a terrible person. But later on I realized he was right… *sigh* let’s review what I brought along:

  • Mask (necessity, because of the sulfur fumes + volcanic dust/fine soil around)
  • Portable WiFi (not necessary but good to have)
  • Portable charger (you won’t even be using your phone much actually)
  • Towel (Negligible weight so just bring along)
  • Water (Important)
  • Weatherproof Camera (missing cos I’m using it to take this picture)
  • Secondary camera (it’s a HTC RE, which i wanted to use for taking videos of the sunrise while main camera shoots stills)
  • Zoom Lens (Unnecessary – JUST GET ONE GOOD LENS AND FIX IT ONTO YOUR CAMERA)
  • Tripod (GOOD TO HAVE if you’re doing astrophotography)
  • Spare batteries/SD card, plasters, money (for the miners, if you want to)
  • Sunblock, nutmeg balm (just in case), eyedrops, wet wipes (important)
  • Snickers (for energy)
  • Torchlight (necessity! even better if you have the ones that you attach on your head)
  • Backpack to store everything (it’s important to note that this should be washable or at least easy to clean)

I think I could have done away with at least 1KG from all the unnecessary items! Sigh. Thank god I had the guys to help me along (more about that later haha)

The weatherproof part for the camera wasn’t exactly necessary, but the Olympus OMD EM5 MKII was weatherproof anyway so it was a really good plus. I have a friend who went, encountered a sandstorm, fine sand got into the camera and killed it – so I wasn’t taking any risks. And after this PLUS Bromo, I really thank god that I have a weatherproof camera with me because I didn’t have to overly care for it.

I took a quick shower (20 mins), blew dry my hair (20 mins), packed my stuff (15 mins) and tried to hop into bed ASAP but I ended up sleeping all of 2 hours before we had to meet in the lobby of Hotel Santika (12.30am).

The jeep could go where the huge 30 seater bus couldn't, and were waiting for us by the time we gathered at the lobby!

The jeep could go where the huge 30 seater bus couldn’t, and were waiting for us by the time we gathered at the lobby!

Told you we were very well fed. They prepared snacks for us on the jeep ride, which took about 1 hour!

Told you we were very well fed. They prepared snacks and emergency items (essential oil, vitamin c, wipes) for us on the jeep ride even!

The bumpy jeep ride (seats 5 persons, excluding driver) up to Pos Paltuding, (where we start hiking) took approximately 1 hour from Hotel Santika Banyuwangi.

Kawah Ijen

“West of Gunung Merapi is the Ijen volcano, which has a one-kilometer-wide turquoise-colored acidic crater lake. The lake is the site of a labor-intensive sulfur mining operation, in which sulfur-laden baskets are carried by hand from the crater floor. The lake is recognised as the largest highly acidic crater lake in the world.” – Wikipedia

Kawah Ijen is made popular with tourists after a feature on TV, showing it as one of the only 2 locations in the world with “blue flames”. The blue flames aren’t lava – they are actually light, created by the combustion of sulfuric gases when it comes into contact with air that’s being released through the cracks at high pressure. For a series of beautiful images by Olivier Grunewald, click here (because I wasn’t able to get down the crater of Kawah Ijen to take pictures)

The hike up to Kawah Ijen from Pos Paltuding base is about 3.2km long, and you’ll need 2-3 hours to reach the rim of the volcano, depending on your speed. The sun rises at about 4.30am, which meant that you NEED to start early or you’ll miss the famous blue flames as it’s no longer visible once the sun is up!

We arrive at Pos Paltuding at about 1.30 / 1.45am. Pos Paltuding which is also a base camp with shower facilities to sleep over should you wish to begin here instead of staying at a nearby (and more comfortable) hotel like we did. We all took turns to use the lavatory (if it can be called one – it’s more of a just a floor with a drain for you to pee on) before we started the climb as it’s hard to find a toilet once you begin your journey.

And we began our hike up, in the dark – when I first hopped off the jeep after arrival at base camp, I was awed by the display of stars above me, and it only got prettier and prettier as we hiked up the trail. It wasn’t a bed of roses for sure, but I had severely underestimated the 90 degree slopes! I was way, way, way behind the first group, taking 10 second rests for every 10 steps climbed, panting for air between cursing my weak calves, and also really thankful for Randy who was practically my handrail the entire way up the mountain! And Chuanren the photog who carried my camera. And Andy who helped me with my tripod. And the guide, who stayed behind with us and even offered to carry my entire backpack for me. I said no in an effort to preserve any last bit of dignity I have! Now you see why I say don’t bring so much stuff… or just bring along a man or two with you. XD

The climb up started easy, then slowly became full of really steep upward slopes – as we neared the top, the slope’s incline began to level a bit more and it got easier. So it’s sort of like BEGINNER > EXTREMELY DIFFICULT > EASY MODE going uphill. And mind you, there were no railings at all on the side! It began to get dustier and dustier as we scaled – when we were about 3/4 uphill, you could smell the difference in air quality! I strapped on my mask at this point to protect myself.

If you don’t have a mask, you need not worry – there are masks for rental and you wouldn’t miss them. It was about 20,000 rupiah for a gas mask, though I cannot be sure if they changed the filters or not so… I would still suggest that you bring your own. $50 for your own safety is a small amount to pay!

The trail would be chicken feet for people who exercise a lot and have relatively good stamina – I was probably the weakest link in the group, and made it just in time to the crater’s rim at 2368,m above sea level . I probably had a good 30mins before the sun started to rise, but I really didn’t want to go down the crater (which would take another 30 minutes) because I was afraid of falling.

Visitors are actually warned to not go down the crater as it is a dangerous path to take - but not many heeded the warning anyway.

Visitors are actually warned to not go down the crater as it is a dangerous path to take – but not many heeded the warning anyway.

A huge sign was erected to warn you of the danger of toxic gases if you were to go down - heck, you could smell it even if you stayed at the rim of the crater!

A huge sign was erected to warn you of the danger of toxic gases if you were to go down – heck, you could smell it even if you stayed at the rim of the crater!

I had wanted to stay at the rim of the crater and grab pictures of the amazing stars in the sky (SO CLEAR SO BRIGHT) BUT Andy went down with my tripod before I could ask for it, so… I had no tripod.

I decided to make an attempt to descend, and managed to make it down just maybe 50 steps before I gave up and crouched at a corner for pictures because I was too slow – the sun was already beginning to rise, and it would be pointless as the blue flames would no longer be visible.

Picture taken from about 50 steps down the crater with the Olympus EM5-MKII + 12-40mm at 40mm! Can you spot the blue flames?

Picture taken from about 50 steps down the crater with the Olympus EM5-MKII + 12-40mm! Can you spot the blue flames?

My 12-40mm at 40mm.

My 12-40mm at 40mm.

I think you can clearly see why the 12-40 wasn’t enough to capture the blue flames, especially not this far away from it! I had a longer zoom lens in my bag, but you woudn’t want to expose your lenses as it’s really quite dusty at this point.

I waited a while longer and took more pictures before deciding to go back up. It was easier than going down, but still a bit of an uphill task. I have poor balance, it seems. T_T

I waited a while longer and took more pictures before deciding to go back up. It was easier than going down, but still a bit of an uphill task. I have poor balance, it seems. T_T You can still see a bit of the blue flames here, but they are beginning to disappear as the sun rose.

I decided to take a rest near where the sign was. I was DEAD tired! And check out my dirty feet and shoes *makes a face* Sitting down meant more dirt on me though, but at this point I frankly couldn't care less. Let me rest!

I decided to take a rest near where the sign was. I was DEAD tired! And check out my dirty feet and my black/grey nikes that have turned into a dirty brown beige shade *makes a face* Sitting down meant more dirt on me though, but at this point I frankly couldn’t care less. Let me rest!

And right behind me were more hikers and also the miners who made their way up and downhill like it was walking on a flat surface! Some of them extended a hand to me though when they saw that I had difficulties going up even that exact slope the miner's going up in the picture.

And right behind me were more hikers and also the miners who made their way up and downhill like it was walking on a flat surface! Some of them extended a hand to me though when they saw that I had difficulties going up even that exact slope the miner’s going up in the picture.

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There were some railings to prevent you from tumbling down hahaha but it lasted less than 20m.

There were some railings to prevent you from tumbling down hahaha but it lasted less than 20m. I was thinking… OMG I DID IT. I HIKED UP A MOUNTAIN! /cheer

This was such a great spot for pictures!

This was such a great spot for pictures!

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But that was after some artistic framing of course, haha. Behind me were a bunch of miners burning rubbish to keep themselves warm!

But that was after some artistic framing of course, haha. Behind me were a bunch of miners burning rubbish to keep themselves warm!

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This was breathtaking.

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The miners could carry loads of up to 60 or more on their shoulders each trip!

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Yes, this was the path to the crater’s rim and this is the way back down too!

It wasn't just the night skies that were beautiful - the mountainous terrain teeming with greens was also an amazing sight to behold!

It wasn’t just the night skies that were beautiful – the mountainous terrain teeming with greens was also an amazing sight to behold!

The things you couldn't admire while hiking up in the dark...

The things you couldn’t admire while hiking up in the dark…

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The miners and their wheelbarrows lined up neatly like this was a parking spot.

The miners and their wheelbarrows lined up neatly like this was a parking spot.

The descent wasn’t an easy one, either. It was definitely faster than going up, but you still had to be very careful, as the sand granules were so fine that they practically offered no grip.

Remember the 90 degree incline upslope? THEY ARE NOW 90 DEGREE DOWNSLOPES. You probably could slid down faster, but I wasn’t about to risk my ankles and thus walked very carefully. As careful as we were, we still had a few injuries (even the guide slipped and grazed his leg!). Thank god for the planner who assisted me downslope!

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Couldn’t be happier to reach the base again!

I have a confession to make. Remember I said this was a year of many firsts?

… I created another first – my first time peeing on a mountain, in the wild. *blushes red*

In my defence, I finished half a bottle of water and I had held my pee for at least 4.5 hours by now!!! I thought that there would be a midpoint post with a toilet somewhere, but NOPE! So I had to get Dayu to help me keep a look out while I uh, relieved myself. T_T I’m not very proud of myself and the whole time I was muttering sorry to nobody in particular. Aiyeeeesh.

Next up, Mt Bromo!

We took the jeep back to Hotel Santika Banyuwangi at around 830am and reached at about 930, where I grabbed a quick breakfast at the hotel in my dirty clothes before showering up in the room, and doing some final packing before checking out at 11am. It really wasn’t easy getting the gunk out of my hair and off my body – and I had to clean my jacket and shoes before wearing them again for bromo tomorrow! Yikes!

There was practically no time to snooze – however, to get to Bromo, we had to take a 5 hour bus ride… Which somehow became a 7 hour bus ride and gave us more time to catch up with some sleep! We spent a good part of the 7 hours aboard the comfy big bus with reclining seats, and only transferred to a smaller bus at a terminal as the bigger bus was unable to go up the narrow roads where the mountain lodges were.

We finally reached Jiwa Jawa Banana Lodge at almost 7pm, and boy, was it cold or what?! They weren’t kidding when they said it was cold, and I understood why there were people hawking gloves and beanies at the bus terminal where we did a quick bus switch!

The Jiwa Jawa Banana Lodge (also known as Java Banana Lodge) was at 2000m above sea level, hence really chilly at night. It was about 10 degrees! A warm cup of ginger tea never felt more appropriate and comforting!

We had dinner at the Jiwa Jawa Banana Lodge, but I bet all we really wanted to do was to sleep since we had to be up at 3am the next day, hahaha! The internet connection here was a bit spotty as it's probably resort specific, and our rooms seemed to be really far away from it because we all had bad connections (2G only). I was really impressed by how beautiful the lodge looked though, it was really pretty and clean!

We had dinner at the Jiwa Jawa Banana Lodge, but I bet all we really wanted to do was to sleep, since we had to be up at 3am the next day, hahaha!
The internet connection here was a bit spotty as it’s probably only set up where a resort were, and our rooms seemed to be really far away from the signal because we all had bad connections (2G only). I was really impressed by how beautiful the lodge looked though, it was really presentable and most definitely very clean!

The rooms were spacious, too! Once again, wear your bedroom slippers cos the floors were a bit dusty - but otherwise, they had all the necessary - king sized bed (or XTRA LARGE MAYBE?!) and hot water. Actually all you really need is hot water!

The rooms were super spacious, too! Once again, wear your bedroom slippers cos the floors were a bit dusty – but otherwise, they had all the necessary – king sized bed (or XTRA LARGE MAYBE?!) and hot water. Actually all you really need is hot water that doesn’t run out because it was cold in here even without air-conditioning.

Quickly prepared my stuff and instantly tried to go to bed asap – not that hard since we had spotty internet connection anyway, haha. By the time I got to bed after cleaning up my shoes and gear further for Bromo, it was around 12mn *shocked emoji face*. I had to be ready and leave the lodge by 2.30am! Yikes.

Well, this post is getting REALLY long, so Day 3 (Bromo) would be a story for another day!

Promos & Discounts!

However, if you’re already keen on hiking up Ijen and following the route we took, here are some discount codes!
If you have any more questions, please ask away in the comments section!

Garuda x Nuffnang Promotion

Special promo price: SGD 350 (all inclusive)
Booking period: From now till 31 Oct 15
Travel period: From now till Mar 16

Destinations featured
Departure: Singapore -> Denpasar (Bali) –> Banyuwangi
Return: Surabaya –> Singapore

Booking details: Tickets are available for purchase at Garuda ticketing office
(101 Thomson Road #12-03 United Square)
or via the reservation hotline +65 6250 2888.

Promo code: Please quote ‘GANuffnang’ when booking

Trisno from Diorama Travel Management
Please email trisno@dioramagroup.net for information

Kawah Ijen Entrance Ticket:‎
Weekday: IDR 100000/pax‎
Weekend: IDR 150000/pax‎

Local Transport (jeep, trooper): IDR 75.000

20% off Single Trip Plan* OR 10% off Annual Plan

Visit http://www.acetravelinsurance.com.sg/nuffnang!
*Not applicable to Basic Plan for Malaysia/Batam/Bintan

Use code “VDSGEVONNZ” for 20% OFF at VisonData!
www.visondata.com.sg

 

All images in this post shot with an Olympus OMD EM5 MKII + 12-40mm (mostly) & 17mm lenses.

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