Sunday, November 30, 2008

Using IM2 Broom Unlimited

I and my family are now in Jakarta, Indonesia for a (short?) two-week holiday. We left Singapore yesterday afternoon, taking Lion Air flight to Jakarta. It took more than 40 minutes for us to queue for checking-in at Singapore's Changi airport. The flight was full, there were so many passengers queuing for checking-in and yet, there were only 4 check-in counters available. It also caused around 20 minutes of delay of the flight since it took some time for all passengers to eventually checked in to the flight, despite an additional one (yes, only one, sigh) counter being set up.

We arrived at Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta International Airport at around 4pm. It turned out that we were on the same flight as Yudi (one of my friends from the Indo-Sing community, and I initially had mistaken him as Pieter, another friend from the same community, gosh!)  and Audi (one of my band-mates) with his wife Erina and son Rifa. My parents picked us up at the airport and we went straight to Plasa Semanggi for late lunch/early dinner. Lion Air is a budget airline and they don't serve any snacks or meal on board. We also didn't have the chance to have our lunch at Changi airport prior to boarding the plane due to the check-in's long queue taking up much of our "precious" time at the airport. Had a Bakmi Gang Kelinci's chicken noodle at the food court in Plasa Semanggi, which is located on the 3A floor of the shopping mall.

1000_Broom_Starter_Pack I also went to Indosat's IM2 Broadband Centre located on the first floor of Plasa Semanggi, for me to buy the starter pack of IM2 Broom, for our Internet connection during our stay in Indonesia. The starter pack costs IDR 150,000, and it provides unlimited HSDPA/3.5G-based Internet connection for a month. Subsequent months will even cost less, only IDR 100,000/month. Quite worth value for money, especially since now we have mobile phones which have HSDPA capabilities so we don't need to invest for additional HSDPA modem, which can be quite costly.

I am currently using my daughter's Nokia 6120 classic phone as a HSDPA modem using the PC Suite for me to enjoy the Internet connection using my laptop. Since I'm taking the unlimited package, the maximum bandwidth speed I should get is only up to 256 KBps for the first 2 GB of data transfer, after which the bandwidth will be capped at 64 Kbps, unlimited until it expires in one month. However, seems that I could get up to 460.8 Kbps of connection last night when I tried to connect. :) Connection is good for browsing purposes, accessing international sites sometimes can be a bit slow, but I believe this is more to infrastructure issue on the ISP's connection to the global Internet rather than issue on the HSDPA connection itself. Accessing local Indonesian sites is very fast.

Unfortunately, IM2 Broom only provides data connection without any voice capability, while I also need a local Indonesian number for normal voice calls, to save the roaming charges. I might be getting a Telkomsel's Simpati line today, so that I can also use its Telkomsel Flash feature for ad-hoc Internet connections for my phone. I won't be using my SingTel line for HSDPA connection here in Indonesia, the data roaming charges are very expensive.

Other than Jakarta, I'll also be visiting my hometown Bandung (of course) and Garut (Cipanas, to be exact) for a short holiday, before going to Tasikmalaya to celebrate Hari Raya Idul Adha (Hari Raya Haji) with my family and relatives there.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sony Ericsson Xperia X1: My First Review

1000 - Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 I have been using my Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 for about a week, so now I'm trying to write my review about this phone. I'm not really too good in reviewing gadgets so I will try to keep my review short. Especially, since I have been using this phone for only a week. I might write another review again after I have used the phone for quite some time.

I was considering this phone and HTC Touch Pro over other Windows Mobile-based PDA phones like Samsung Omnia or HTC Touch Diamond because of an obvious reason, the sliding keyboard. And frankly, I was quite disappointed with Xperia X1's keyboard, initially. Its flat surface makes me difficult to type on the keyboard. The good news is that I managed to get over with the difficulties over time. Once I have gotten use to it, I find the keyboard is still much more convenient to type compared to if I have to use the stylus and the on-screen keyboard. While typing, the optical joystick is also quite useful to replace the arrow keys, which are not available on Xperia X1's keyboard.

With regards to the interface, many people said that the Xperia X1's panel is not as good as HTC's TouchFlo 3D. I haven't tried the TouchFlo 3D myself, although we can actually port over TouchFlo 3D interface into the Xperia X1. However, I am personally satisfied with the Sony Ericsson panel. I can put the clock, calendar, weather, appointments and some shortcut buttons, all in one display. That said, I really appreciate the big (and somewhat long) screen that the Xperia X1 has.

1005 - Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 with sliding keyboard The GPS also works like a charm. Its built-in internal GPS receiver locks on to the satellites much faster than my Garmin GPS 10x receiver. I have installed my favourite Garmin Mobile XT software into the phone, and it can detect the built-in GPS receiver without any issues. I also do not need to activate my favourite GPS proxy software, WMMiniGPS, for the GMXT to work, although sometimes I would still turn on the WMMiniGPS if I need to do 1-second tracking for my contributions to Malsingmaps and Malfreemaps.

After getting used to only GPRS connection on my old Dopod 818 Pro, I find the high-speed downlink packet access (HSDPA, or 3.5G connection) to be much rewarding. Paired with Wi-Fi capabilities, the phone makes my microblogging activitiy much more fun and definitely faster. Browsing the Internet using the pre-loaded Opera Mobile software is really fun, and thanks to a bigger display, I can see more on the screen compared to my older phone. So guys, expect to see more of my updates on Kronologger, Twitter, Plurk and Facebook. :) :)

The only downside I can think of now, is the battery. It drains very fast under heavy usage. Yes, I am a heavy user of the phone, since I use it for phone, SMS, GPS (every time I drive around), and the Internet (mainly for microblogging). And I have to charge the phone almost every night. A 100% bar of battery in the morning can drop to a 20-30% bar in the evening. Understand that this is normal for a PDA phone, however I still wish that Sony Ericsson can invent a more powerful and long-lasting battery for this phone. :)

Well, that's what I can think of right now. I might write more reviews once I explore more on the features of this phone. Stay tuned. :)

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Getting Myself a Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 for only S$338

I just came back from the Sony Ericsson SingTel Roadshow, located outside Plaza Singapura, near The Atrium @ Orchard, Dhoby Ghaut. I have decided to get myself the new Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 phone to replace my old Dopod 818 Pro. The normal price for the phone is S$1,298 (without contract), and from the roadshow, I can get the phone for only S$338, without any trade in. How did I get the S$960 savings?

On the roadshow which will end today, SingTel sells the phone for only S$638 with iOne Plus or Classic plan, plus a 3-month Broadband on Mobile Plus subscription. Compared to my current mobile provider M1's promotion, which sells the phone at $998 under their SunSaver Plan, that's already quite a big S$360 difference. Based on my average monthly phone usage with M1, I decided to take the iTwo Value plan from SingTel, which allows me to purchase the Xperia X1 phone for only S$538.

Furthermore, SingTel gives additional S$200 discount for me to switch over from M1 to SingTel, thanks to the full mobile number portability. Since my M1 mobile line's contract has expired, I can port over the number to SingTel so that I can still use the same mobile number under SingTel's service plan. With all the discounts, I can get myself the Xperia X1 phone for only S$338.

What's more? Exclusive to the roadshow, I also can get some additional freebies, such as a $50 The Choice vouchers (which can be used at Cold Storage and Giant supermarkets), a Sony Ericsson Bluetooth Car Handsfree kit and a DVD mobile converter software.

Unfortunately, the phone was fully sold out during the first day of the roadshow yesterday, so even when I can purchase at the same low price today, I can only collect the phone next week. Never mind, I think it's worth the wait. :)


Why Not HTC Touch Pro?

Good question. I have been comparing the Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 with its closest competitor, the HTC Touch Pro. The specifications of both phones are very similar, although each has some pros and cons as well. To be frank, I decided to choose the Xperia X1 because of this promotion. Hey, where else you can get a high end high end Windows Mobile-based mobile phone with sliding keyboard for only $S338? :) Right now, if I'm getting myself a HTC Touch Pro, I will definitely be paying more than that, since none of the mobile providers in Singapore has similar promotion for HTC Touch Pro. For example, M1 is selling the HTC Touch Pro for $868 for a 2-year contract.

Furthermore, having a Dopod mobile phone for almost three years, I had some quite unpleasant experiences with HTC support in Singapore, both at SIS Technologies' Leng Kee office and the HTC Service Centre at Keppel Bay Tower, Harbourfront. Even though the Xperia X1 is actually built by HTC for Sony Ericsson, at least I can still expect the same quality of product and tap on Sony Ericsson's (hopefully) better service.

Hopefully. Let's see. :)

PS. Pictures are courtesy of Sony Ericsson website and CNET Asia website.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Planet Indra is Temporarily Down

I have temporarily shut down my Planet Indra site. For some unknown reasons, the WordPress-based aggregation blog site refuses to show the contents of the blog and instead it's giving this error message to everyone who tried to access the site:

It doesn't look like you've installed WP yet. Try running install.php

I have Googled around and mostly people would encounter the above message when they tried to upgrade their WordPress installation. This is not the case in my situation. I was not doing anything on the WordPress installation and suddenly the error message appeared. I have other WordPress installations for Minda Indra and Planet Singapura on the same server, running under the same user-id and connecting to the same MySQL database, and they do not encounter the same problem.

Anyone has a clue on what could have happened? Could it be that the database used is corrupted?

I haven't got the time to investigate this issue further. Will look into this problem later when I have the time. Apologise for the inconvenience caused.

Happy National Blogger Day and Happy Deepavali

27 October 2008 is the first anniversary of Indonesia's National Blogger Day. Therefore, I would like to wish all Indonesian bloggers a very happy National Blogger Day.

And since this very same day is also a Diwali day (which is a public holiday here in Singapore), I also would like to wish a very Happy Deepavali to all my Indian friends who celebrate the festival of lights.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Claypot Chicken Rice

My first encounter with claypot chicken rice was in Malaysia. I immediately fell in love with this dish, rice cooked in a claypot together with all the additional ingredients such as diced chickens, vegetables and, most importantly, the spices, thrown in. Cooked over charcoal stove, and served with the pot while still hot. Wonderfulicious. :)

Since it's a Chinese traditional dish, it's quite difficult to find halal claypot chicken rice in Singapore. Normally, I would go to Johor Bahru to look for this dish, notably the food courts at Johor Bahru's City Square and Tebrau City. Therefore, it was a very delightful surprise to see this dish in one of the stalls at Banquet halal food court, located on the basement two (B2) floor of VivoCity shopping mall, Singapore.

On a side note, Banquet VivoCity is one of our favourite Banquet outlets, other than the Bagus by Banquet at IMM and Banquet Jurong Point. In Banquet VivoCity, the kids would normally go with the chicken rice, other than fish and chips or chicken cutlet from the western stall. For me, another favourite dish there is the cockles kway teow.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Julie's Biscuits also Tainted with Melamine

Picture courtesy of Channel NewsAsia.

I was very surprised (if not shocked) when I read from today's Weekend Today newspaper (which I get for free in my doorstep everyday, by the way) that some (or all?) of Julie's biscuits made in Malaysia are also tainted with melamine.

This is because our family (myself, my wife and the kids) has been buying Julie's biscuit products all this while. Inka is a great fan of Julie's wheat crackers (see above picture) while Julie's Cocoro crispy chocolate wafer rolls are also one of our family's favourites.

Yes, the Agri-Food and Vetenirary Authority (AVA) has reassured that the levels of melamine in the affected products are very low, and one has to consume large quantities of the contaminated products over a prolonged period of time before it can affect his/her health. But this still cannot much relieve our worries, especially since we have been consuming the affected products for quite some time.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Selamat Hari Raya Idul Fitri

Wishing all Muslims a very happy and joyous Eid ul-Fitr celebration. Selamat Hari Raya Idul Fitri, mohon maaf lahir dan batin. :)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Celebrating Hari Raya in Singapore

It's confirmed. Unlike last year, we will not be able to go back for our "mudik" ritual to Indonesia for this year's Hari Raya Idul Fitri. I have called Inka and Irza's school last week and confirmed that not only that there'll be no school holiday during the Hari Raya week, they will also have their SA2 paper 1 exam for both English and Mother Tongue on the following week after the Hari Raya.

Therefore, similar to two years ago, we will be celebrating Hari Raya Idul Fitri here in Singapore. Feeling sad? Of course, but we (myself, my wife and the kids) have already accepted this as one of the consequences of hidup merantau di negeri orang. We just have to live with it. :)

Based on our experience two years ago, celebrating Hari Raya Idul Fitri in Singapore is not really too bad, after all. This is because we have many Indonesian friends in Singapore who also, mostly due to the same reason, do not go back to Indonesia during Hari Raya. I remember two years ago, we went to three different places in Singapore on one day: Hougang, Tampines and Braddell, to celebrate Hari Raya together with our Indonesian friends here. My wife even conducted our own open house on the following weekend at that time.

Therefore, we are looking forward to celebrate Hari Raya in Singapore again for this year. For friends who plan to conduct an open house event in Singapore on this year's Hari Raya, please, do not hesitate to invite us along... :) :)

Love Letter

Akhirnya, "surat cinta" dari Traffic Police itu-pun datang juga...

Last Sunday, 7 September 2008, I was driving along Bukit Timah Road after picking up my wife and daughter at Bugis Junction towards Al-Azhar which is located along Upper Bukit Timah Road for us to break our fast for the day. Was held up on a red light junction while two traffic police officers were riding their motorcycles just beside our car.

When the light turned green, one of the officers then asked me to pull over on the side of the road. Apparently, he noticed that Irza was sleeping on the middle seat without properly secured by a child booster seat, even though he always wears his seat belts. The police officer explained that a child younger than 8 years old and less than 150cm in height would have to be properly secured by an approved child restraint. I had to wake Irza up so that the officer can measure his height, which definitely is shorter than 150cm.

Really didn't know that he still has to use a booster seat until he's 8 years old, since he has not been using the booster seat for quite some time. The composition amount is $120 (!!!) which I have to pay by 10 October 2008, plus 3 demerit points being given.

After the incident, Irza now re-uses his old booster seat and will do so until he turns 8 next year. He was also a bit shocked when he had to wake up and being checked by the police officer at that time.

Lesson learnt: if you have a child which is not yet 8 years old and not yet 150cm in height, please ensure that the he/she uses an approved child restraint (either a child seat or a booster seat, depends on his/her age/height) in the car.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Windsor Bed & Breakfast Hotel

1000 - Windsor Private Hotel Windsor Bed & Breakfast Hotel is the hotel I'm staying during my week stay in Christchurch to attend the APNIC 26 Meeting. As one of the APNIC meeting fellows, the hotel cost is bourne by APNIC (thanks Sunny!) and I'm sharing a room with another fellow, Stanley Osao from Papua New Guinea.

1045 - Cozy bed I would have to say that their service standards are quite high for a budget hotel. The hosts (which are the owners of the hotel) are very nice and friendly, and the room is very clean, tidy and comfortable. The bathrooms are shared, but they are quite a plenty and bathrobes are provided.

1100 - One of the best breakfast I had ever Every morning, they serve a very generous English-style breakfast, which is cooked on the spot. We can choose the breakfast menu, which consists of eggs (scrambled, poached or fried), sausages, bacon, baked beans and sweet corn. I love their beef sausages, unfortunately I couldn't try the bacon since it's made of pork. On top of that, there are also toasts, fresh fruits and cereals which you can have your own servings. To be frank, the breakfast time is one of my most-waited time during my stay there. :)

1075 - The TV lounge They have a lounge where guests can watch TV and use some computer terminals to connect to the Internet, free of charge. On top of that, they also provide free wireless Internet connections for people like me who has laptop with wireless connection. The lounge also allows us to interact with other guests, creating a "warm" environment for the guests. Free carpark lots are also available for those who drive or rent a car.

1040 - Tram stop just in front of the hotel It's conveniently located near the Christchurch city centre, just in front of Cranmer Square and only several minutes walk to the Arts Centre, Canterbury Museum and Cathedral Square. The historic Christchurch Tramway also stops just in front of the hotel.

These high standards of services for a bed and breakfast hotel makes its rates to be a bit higher than other B&Bs in Christchurch. The price for single is NZ$89 while for twin/double is NZ$128, and they have a plan to increase the rates to $NZ98 (single) and NZ$140 (twin/double) after 1 November 2008.

More pictures of the hotel can be found here.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Siam Kitchen

3000-SiamKitchen 3005-BBQplatter

Siam Kitchen is our family's favourite Thai restaurant, providing quite a wide range of Thai cuisines.

My wife's (and also my) favourite menu is the BBQ platter, containing grilled prawn, squid and meat with a special sauce, while the kids' favourite is the crispy soft-shell crab with mayonnaise sauce.

3010-Tofu 3015-SoftShellCrab

It has many outlets around Singapore, and the outlet we often visit is the one at the second floor of Bugis Junction, just above the Bugis MRT station.

It is one of only a few Thai restaurants in Singapore which obtains halal certification from MUIS.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

e!Hub @ Downtown East

1000 - e!Hub @ Downtown East It has been quite some time since I visited Downtown East in Pasir Ris, and was surprised when I went there again with Inka last Saturday, after dropping off my wife and Irza at the Singapore Expo for them to watch the High School Musical: The Ice Tour.

1015 - Inka and the ferris wheel There's a new shopping mall called e!Hub @ Downtown East, featuring some leisure activities such as bowling at Orchid Bowl, watching movies at Cathay Cineplex, karaokeing at K-Box, and many more. There's also eXplorerkid indoor family park for the kids, and also an indoor ferris wheel similar to the one at First World Plaza, Genting Highlands, Malaysia and Bandung Supermal, Bandung, Indonesia.

1020 - The ferris wheel How I envy those who live on the east side of Singapore. Looks like they are more accessible to many attractions and leisure activities compared to us on the west side of the island.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Cavana Chicken Rice

1015 - Cavana chicken rice Sun Plaza Some of you might have been wondering why we went all the way to Sembawang, an area north of Singapore which we seldom visit. You might be surprised to know that the reason why we went to Sembawang is to hunt for chicken rice. :) Cavana chicken rice, to be exact.

1000 - Mama and Irza at Cavana Sun Plaza Our favourite Cavana outlet at Marina Square has closed down. :(  This means that there's no more outlet around the south and west area of Singapore, although I understand that they are going to open a new outlet at Jurong Point soon. So, the closest Cavana outlets to our place of residence are the two on the north area of Singapore, one in Causeway Point, Woodlands and the other one in Sun Plaza, Sembawang. The rest are located east of Singapore, namely Tampines and Pasir Ris.

At that time, we decided to go to the Cavana outlet at Sun Plaza since we seldom go to the shopping mall and would like to know what other things it offers. Nothing much, though.

I really hope that the new outlet in Jurong Point will open soon.

1005 - Inka enjoying her chicken rice 1010 - Cavana's potato wedges


Learned about this new site from Tomorrow.SG, and I found that is really helpful for both motorists and commuters in Singapore. Not only that we can search for any addresses in Singapore, we can also easily put two addresses in Singapore and the site will automatically calculate the best route from point A to point B under three main categories: "Train + Bus", "Bus" and "Drive".

Its map is powered by Google and the recommended route will be marked on the map. And the best thing I find on this site is that we can easily drag the point A and/or the point B markers to anywhere within the map and the route -- be it driving route or public transport route -- will automatically be recalculated. Estimation time for each leg of the route (bus, train and even the walking time) is given. For driving routes, option to avoid ERP gantries is also given. Searching can be done by entering the partial address, building name or the postal code.

For me, this site is currently the best replacement for the Street Directory site, which is still offline until don't know when.

Related links:

Monday, July 28, 2008

Petrol Prices Going Down Again

I got a very sweet and delighting news from PetrolWatch's Twitter updates earlier today, petrol prices in Singapore is going down again. And for this time round, the prices are being adjusted down by 10 cents. This would be the fifth time petrol stations in Singapore has adjusted down the prices after the first reduction of petrol prices early this month.

This reduction of the petrol prices in Singapore is due to further reduction of the global crude oil price to a near 7-week low, which is now around US$123.26 per barrel.

This is really a great news for us. Let's just hope that the price will continue to slide down, not only for a greater relief to motorists, but also to further slow down the inflation rate and the rise of prices of goods and services in Singapore.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Coffee Bean is Now Halal-certified

This might be an old news for some of you, since it's already happening since May 2008. But still, it's a good news for all my Muslim friends in Singapore. Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, one of the leading cafe in Singapore, is now certified halal by MUIS.

My family and I have already been fans of Coffee Bean even before they were certified, since we knew that they are not providing food which contains pork or lard. In fact, we prefer Coffee Been much more than Starbucks. Inka and Irza's favourite is the tiramisu cake, which is superbly wonderfulicious.

Inka enjoying tiramisu cake at Coffee Bean VivoCity

Yes, I know that some people said that Starbuck's coffee is better than Coffee Bean's. But hey, I'm not a coffee lover, in fact, I always order non-coffee beverages at Coffee Bean. :) My favourite non-coffee beverage at Coffee Bean, which is the kids' favourite as well, is the ice blended chocolate. :)

Monday, July 07, 2008

Twitting in Facebook's Style

To be frank, I have been neglecting my Facebook account for quite some time. I have not logged in to my Facebook account for months. :) Nevertheless, I just found out that for some reason, my Twitter updates are synchronised with my Facebook status. I think this was started when I installed Twitter application on my Facebook account?

So, please do not be alarmed when now you see me twitting in Facebook's style. :) I don't want to explain more on what do I mean by Facebook's style, it's just about grammar, you should be able to see the difference by seeing these two different examples:

Twitting in normal style:

indrapr Earlier went to Khatib MRT station to collect my Malsingmaps car decal. Now at IKEA Alexandra. about 5 hours ago from mobile web

Twitting in Facebook style:

indrapr is at home now. Earlier we visited Satya and Enon's new residence in West Coast. Were served with a sumptuous dinner. :) 15 minutes ago from web

Can you see the difference? :)  Oh yes, I also have registered with Plurk. But to be frank, I haven't started to really fully make use of it. Is there a way I can send one update for both Twitter and Plurk? :) :)

Yesterday morning, Iko and Hera, together with Abhy and Aya, came to our house for a visit. This is the first time they visit our new house after we moved in last March. Concidentally, the fire alarm in our apartment's building was activated, for some reason. Although it was a false alarm, it caused the lifts to cease working, so they had to climb the stairs, nine stories high, to reach our apartment.

Before we knew that it was a false alarm, we were also puzzled on why the fire alarm kept on ringing. Normally, during normal test, the alarm would only ring for a short period of time. After realising that all the lifts were down, I immediately grab our keys and our passports and together we all left our apartment and took the stairs down for evacuation. We then met Iko and family at the fourth floor, who were on their way up to our apartment. Only that time then we knew that it was a false alarm, after Iko and Hera informed us.

Earlier today, I saw the Asus Eee PC 4G is being offered for only $398, at an exhibition in Suntec City. The 8G version is being offered for only around $528. Very tempting. The reason why I'm eyeing this mini notebook is to accommodate my needs in checking e-mails, browsing, blogging, twitting and kronning on the go. :) I am very lazy in bringing my laptop while on the go, although it's considered one of Dell's lightest laptop, I still find it too heavy to be carried around. Yes, I can still rely on my Dopod 818Pro PDA phone for twitting and perhaps kronning, but I still cannot rely much on it for checking my emails or browsing the web.

Last but not least, I would also like to congratulate Pangeran Panda and Putri Panda for the birth of their newborn baby, Jamie. Just heard the news from the Indo-Sing mailing list. Semoga kelahirannya membawa berkah bagi kerajaan Panda. :) I would also like to congratulate the Indo-Sing community for getting a new nephew.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Gelanggang Samudra, Ancol

This article is originally posted on ABN's Asia Travel Blog here.


Gelanggang Samudra is an animal-based theme park, which is one of the attractions at the Taman Impian Jaya Ancol recreation park located in Jakarta, Indonesia. Ancol itself is a popular recreation park among Indonesians, located within the shore of the Jakarta bay, north of the city. However, being an aging attraction, it seems that Gelanggang Samudra is not as popular as other attractions such as the Sea World, which is located next to Gelanggang Samudra, the Atlantis Water Adventure and the more thrilling Dunia Fantasi.

For me, I found out that the Gelanggang Samudra is more educative to the kids. There are three animal shows, namely dolphin show, sealion show and other various animals show, staged several times a day, and each show is being conducted at different times, to ensure that we can attend all the three shows at the shortest time possible. There's also one 4D show which we can attend, and the kids also can have unlimited access to some rides, such as bumper car and balloon ride.

The MCs and the trainers of the animals who are staging the shows are also very professional in bringing up the shows with some jokes here and there. However, the shows were being presented in bahasa Indonesia, so foreign tourists might have difficulties in understanding them although they can still enjoy the animals' talents and capabilities during the show. That might be the reason why this attraction might still be appealing for domestic tourists, but not for foreign tourists.

On top of Ancol's entrance fee (12,000 rupiahs per person and 12,000 rupiahs per car), we needed to pay the Gelanggang Samudra's entrance fee of 60,000 rupiahs per person. That would set you back around 72,000 rupiahs (around SGD $10 or USD $7.79) per person, which is quite reasonable. The best way to reach Ancol is to drive your own car or take a cab. Alternatively, you can also take the TransJakarta busway.

More pictures can be found here.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Back in Singapore

I'm now back in Singapore after my mudik holiday to Jakarta for about 1.5 weeks. It was quite a rewarding holiday for me and the family. Managed to take the kids to Ancol, specifically the Gelanggang Samudra and Dunia Fantasi, and we also had a fruitful 3D2N getaway to Bandung, my hometown.

As usual, I will be uploading the pictures to my Multiply site, soon, hopefully...

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Treetop Walk at MacRitchie

This article is originally posted on ABN's Asia Travel Blog here.

100 - HSBC Treetop Walk HSBC Treetop Walk is a free-standing suspension bridge, which provices a bird eyes' view of the forest located at MacRitchie, which is part of Singapore's Central Catchment Nature Reserve. To reach the bridge, we can follow the MacRitchie walking trails from MacRitchie reservoir or from a carpark along Venus Drive, off Upper Thomson Road. Walking distance from Venus Drive carpark is notably shorter compared to the walking distance from MacRitchie reservoir to the Treetop Walk.

Nevertheless, we still have to be prepared for a long walk. From Venus Drive carpark to the entrance of the Treetop Walk is a good 2.5 km walk along the Treetop trail, passes by the Singapore Island Country Club (SICC) and Terentang trail, before reaching the Ranger Station, which is equipped with toilets and drinking water dispenser for us to "recharge". From there, we still need to climb the Bukit Peirce hill, where the entrance to the suspension bridge is located.

105 - Treetop Walk plague HSBC Treetop Walk is opened between 9am and 5pm on Tuesday to Friday, and between 8:30am and 5pm on Saturday, Sunday and public holidays. It is closed on Mondays (except public holiday) for maintenance and research. Since it's closed by 5pm, it's advisable to reach the Ranger Station by 4pm.

The view from the suspension bridge is spectacular. Unfortunately, the bridge is quite narrow and it's a one-way traffic flow so we can't spend much time on the bridge, otherwise we will block people behind. And since it's a one-way traffic, we have to move on and follow the Petaling trail to go back to the Ranger Station and further back to the carpark. This is quite a long detour via Petaling Hut and then follow Sime track eastward back to the Ranger Station, adding around 30-45 minutes of journey time.

The total length of the journey from Venus Drive carpark to Treetop Walk and then back to carpark via Petaling hut is more than 7km, which is quite a long walk (about 3 hours walk in total, depends on our walking pace). With some quite difficult terrains found along some of the trails, the walk might not be suitable for very young kids and the elderly.

Note: More pictures can be found here.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Indo-Sing Photographers' Lighting Workshop

1080 - The set prepared Last Saturday, I and Irza went to Indo-Sing Photographers' lighting workshop. This event is hosted by Andre, one of the active members of the mailing list. The workshop itself is conducted by eRBe.

As some of us might have known, my presence there was just a "penggembira" :), since I don't consider myself as an avid photographer. I believe I was the only one who came to the event with a pocket camera. :) :)

1540 - Photo session That's why, while the others were busy attending to the workshop and trying all the various lightings to take pictures of the models (who are actually Andre's friends who volunteered to become the models for this workshop event), I chose to bring Irza and his friends (Wawan and Ahmad Dasuki's kids) outdoor and create our own photo sessions. :)

9999 - Outdoor photo session We went around the swimming pool area, as well as to the water fountain area and the BBQ pit area and I took their pictures while they were happily playing and running around. The result? Beautiful Wina and Marsya, as well as handsome Rafli and Rifqi, together with Irza, really look great in front of the camera. And the most important thing, they were really having fun! :) :)

More pictures can be found here.

Related links:

Friday, April 25, 2008

Sedap Corner, Bukit Batok

1000t This hainanese chicken rice stall is located inside the S11 Food Court in block 640 Bukit Batok Central, not far from Bukit Batok bus interchange and the MRT station. It has a halal certification from MUIS.

When I went there yesterday afternoon for lunch, this stall has the longest queue compared to other stalls in the vicinity. However, surprisingly the service is quite fast and efficient, and despite the long queue, I didn't have to wait for long to get my chicken rice set.

1005t The price is also, surprisingly, reasonable. Normal chicken rice dish will cost you only $2.50 to $3.00, while more "complete" set with egg, tofu and gizzard like what I had yesterday only cost me $4.00.

Apologise for the lack and the low quality of the pictures, I took them using my mobile phone.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Quicklink: Another Jakarta-Bandung Travelogue by Rush Murad

(Pictures taken from the article)

Being involved in a accident last year -- while the car he was taking had the brakes failed when cruising down the steep slope of Mount Tangkuban Perahu -- does not prevent Rush Murad, a Malaysian traveler and blogger, from again choosing Jakarta and -- especially -- Bandung, for his holiday destinations. He revisited both cities recently and again, he wrote a nice travelogue about his journey, in Malay. The travelogue can be found here.

Again, thanks for writing such a nice travelogue and helping to promote our country's (and especially, my home town's) tourist attractions.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Kedai Kue-Kue

This small shop is selling traditional Indonesian snacks. It's located at the basement of Bugis Junction, next to Delifrance, below the escalator. The outlet also have some tables for dine-in guests. I remember they also have another outlet in Great World City, but I'm not too sure whether the outlet still there or not.

Some people said that the ketoprak is quite nice. I tried the ketroprak when I went there couple of weeks ago. It is nice, although you still can't compare with those which we usually buy from tukang ketoprak street vendors in Jakarta.

More pictures (not many) can be found here.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Freedom of Speech in Indonesia

Treespotter wrote:

Indonesia has one of the most liberal press law in the world (which not without problems in itself, but we’ll get there later). We’re no longer live in opaque Soehartoesque police state and people are free to write whatever they want. For any of you with any experience whatsoever of the press life 20 years ago, then you’d know that life is a whole world of difference these days where freedom of opinion is concerned.

Agree with him. Compared to Malaysia and Singapore, the Indonesian government is more relaxed in giving its press, be it mainstream press of citizenship journalism (e.g. bloggers), more freedom to express their views and opinions. The Pesta Blogger 2007 event, which is supported by the Indonesian government with its declaration of Indonesia's National Blogger Day, is a great example.

The onus is now with us to ensure that we make use of this "freedom" responsibly.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Singapore DUCKtours

This article is originally posted on ABN's Asia Travel Blog here.

Singapore DUCKtours is a combined city and harbour tour in Singapore, using a refurbished ex-military amphibious vehicle they call as "duck" which can travel on both land and water. The one-hour tour comprises of 40 minutes water tour around Singapore's Marina Bay area and 20 minutes land tour around Singapore's civic district. The water tour in the Marina Bay area will show you places around the Singapore Flyer, Benjamin Sheares bridge, the floating platform, Esplanade and the Merlion, while the land tour in the civic district area will show you places around City Hall and the Padang.

The tour departs from Suntec City on an hourly basis between 10am to 7pm, subject to weather conditions. The price is $33 for adult and $17 for child, quite expensive since it's catered more for tourists. To purchase the tickets, we can approach the ticketing counter, which is located at the Suntec City Mall, near the Convention Centre area. We can use major credit cards for payment.

We will board the duck on an open area just next to the ticketing counter. There is a tour guide who accompanies all the guests throughout the journey and give running commentaries with regards to all the tourist attractions along the way. The best photo stop would be the Merlion, where the duck boat will have a brief stop to allow all guests to take pictures of the Merlion from both sides of the boat.

Note: More pictures can be found here.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

J.Co Donuts & Coffee Opens in Singapore

J.Co Donuts & Coffee, a leading doughnut retailer chain in Indonesia, has opened its outlet in Singapore. Very popular among Indonesians, it's very common to see long queues in almost all J.Co outlets in Indonesia. This very first outlet in Singapore -- which I hope will not be the only one -- is situated on the basement floor of Raffles City shopping centre, which is located just above the City Hall MRT station.

I and my family was walking around the shopping mall yesterday (8/4) when we saw the new outlet, which was still closed at that time. We were very pleasantly surprised since we have never seen a J.Co outlet outside Indonesia. According to jeng Epha who visited the outlet earlier today, the outlet has just opened today (Saturday, 9 February 2008). I believe this should be a very good and pleasant news for Indonesians in Singapore, since this means that we don't have to go back to Jakarta or go to Batam to get J.Co donuts.

According to Devi while responding to Bonnie's question, J.Co has also opened two new outlets in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Specifically, those two outlets are located in Pavilion Kuala Lumpur at Bukit Bintang and Sunway Pyramid near Sunway Lagoon. So I believe this would be a great news for Indonesians currently living in Malaysia, especially Kuala Lumpur, as well. :)

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Happy Lunar New Year

For those of you who celebrate Chinese New Year all around the world: Xīnnián kuàilè, Gōngxǐ fācái. Happy new year, and wishing everyone of you a very happy and prosperous new year ahead.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

RSI Interview at MediaCorp

Original article and pictures can be found here.

It was just a normal and usual day in the office couple of weeks ago when I received an e-mail from Renatha, one of my fellow moderators of the Indo-Sing mailing list, asked me to join a forum interview by Radio Singapore International (RSI), the Indonesian section, with topics related to Indonesians living in Singapore.

He said that Handoko, another of our fellow Indo-Sing moderator, was supposed to join but he couldn't make it, so he asked me to cover for him. Other people who were invited to join the forum were Sigit, an Indo-Sing mailing list user, Hany and Ellen, Indo-Sing mailing list users and IndoSing-Mums mailing list moderators, and another one which was not yet decided.

Earlier, Renatha asked Andre, Dedhi, dan Ikhsan, three of some active Indo-Sing mailing list users, to also join the forum, but they were not able to make it. Therefore, we decided to invite Judhi, one of the moderators for the IMAS mailing list, to also join the forum, and fortunately he's able to join. So there would be representatives from three Indonesian communities in Singapore, namely Indo-Sing, IndoSing-Mums and IMAS.

Efika Rosemarie (Fika) is the RSI's presenter who interviewed us. She said that it was supposed to be Rane's show, but now Rane is being posted in Indonesia for six months, as RSI's correspondent in Indonesia. We had a pre-interview meeting on 29 January 2007, located at Hany's residence in Braddell, Toa Payoh, for Fika to brief us on what the programme is all about, and how we were going to conduct the forum discussion.

During the briefing, we were also brainstorming on what topics we would be discussing on the interview forum. There were three topics being discussed during the interview, and each topic was being discussed in a 30-minute duration. Fika suggested "working in Singapore" and "mailing lists for Indonesian communities in Singapore" as the two topics that we would be discussing, and for the third discussion, the topic would be "how long we would continue to stay in Singapore and whether we would be back to Indonesia later". Quite interesting topics to discuss. :)

Unfortunately, Ellen's daughter was admitted to hospital, so Ellen was not able to join both the pre-interview meeting and the interview itself. So there were five of us: myself, Renatha, Sigit, Hany and Judhi attended the forum interview.

The interview itself was conducted on 31 January 2007 at MediaCorp's Caldecott Broadcast Centre on Andrew Road. This is not my first experience in attending interview by RSI, I have been there before to attend an interview session with Rane. However, this is my first experience of a forum interview session with my friends, discussing about familiar topics that we all know very well. It was really, really, really fun!!! :)

Furthermore, Fika allowed us to take pictures prior, after and even *during* the interview session, and being narcisst photographers, Judhi, Hany and myself took our pictures during the whole event. :) :)

Similar to my interviews last time, it was not a live programme. It's recorded and I will update again on the exact time when the programme will be aired so that all of you can hear us on the radio. :) Unfortunately, being an international radio in Singapore, the programme cannot be heard in Singapore using the normal radio, since it's being broadcasted through the short-wave (SW) frequency which can only be received outside Singapore. Listeners in Indonesia can also hear RSI programme through some local radio stations which list can be found here. For those in Singapore, you can still hear it via the Internet, either via streaming or podcast. I'll update you again when they become available.

Update on 4 February 2007, 6:15pm: Fika has updated us that the FORUM talk show will be broadcasted by RSI Indonesia every Monday night at 9:35pm Singapore time (or 8:35pm Western Indonesian Time), starting from 18 February 2008 until 14 April 2008.

There are three topics to be discussed and each topic will be divided into three time slots. Thus, the whole interview will be broadcasted in a span of 9 weeks. The broadcast can be listened through RSI Indonesia's live streaming as well as its podcast, which will be available during and after the broadcast.

Related links:

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Mount Faber

This article is originally posted on ABN's Asia Travel Blog here.

Mount Faber, one of tourist attractions in Singapore, is not really a mountain. It is just a hill, about 106 metres in height, located just north of the Harbourfront area. The highest point is called Faber Point, and from there, we can have a panoramic view of the surrounding areas, including the Harbourfront area and the buildings at Singapore's central business district area. There's a small Merlion statue in Faber Point, and on the lower level, there are some stone carvings depicting some of Singapore's history.

Just further down from Faber Point, there's a building called The Jewel Box, houses some fine dining restaurants and some souvenir shops. From there, we can also catch a cable car to Harbourfront and Sentosa. Apart from that, there's nothing much to see and do there other than enjoying the greenery of the secondary rainforest around Mount Faber.

The best way to reach Mount Faber is by taxi. There is a bus service from SBS Transit called Parks 409, which runs from Harbourfront bus interchange to Mount Faber on Saturday, Sunday and public holiday. The bus fare is $1, payable using cash or EZ-Link card. If we drive a car there, finding a parking lot might be difficult, especially during evening peak hours. However, The Jewel Box provides valet service for those who need it.

At the moment, the National Parks Board is building a bridge to connect Mount Faber Park and Telok Blangah Hill Park, with a further connection up to Kent Ridge Park, connecting all the three parks. This means that visitors can jog or walk from one park to another without having to exit the park and/or take other methods of transportation. When I visited Mount Faber recently, I saw that the bridge is still under construction, and might be fully operational in the next couple of months.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Dolphin Lagoon in Sentosa

This article is originally posted on ABN's Asia Travel Blog here.


DolphinLagoon Sentosa, a small island located south of Singapore, is one of the country’s most visited tourist destinations. With only S$2 entrance fee per person (excluding transport), going to Sentosa is now much more affordable compared to several years ago when the entrance fee was still a hefty S$6 per person. There are many ways to enter Sentosa, and the most convenient and cheapest method is to take the Sentosa Express monorail from VivoCity shopping mall, with a transport fee of a mere S$1. Alternatively, you can also take the Sentosa bus from Harbourfront bus interchange with the same fee. Taking the cable car from Harbourfront tower or Mount Faber to enter Sentosa is also possible, with a much higher fee. Once we enter Sentosa, all the transportation methods within Sentosa (bus, monorail, tram) are free.

There are many attractions inside Sentosa, each with its own entrance fee, which is on top of the S$2 entrance fee into the island. One of the attractions which tourists usually visit is Dolphin Lagoon, which is located near to the Palawan beach in Sentosa. The entrance fee is quite steep, S$19.90 for adult and S$12.70 for child, however the fee includes the entrance tickets for both Dolphin Lagoon and Underwater World. To reach Dolphin Lagoon, we can take the Sentosa Express monorail to the Beach station, and from there, we can take the Palawan beach tram which will bring us right into Dolphin Lagoon’s doorstep. Alternatively, we can also take the red or yellow line bus within Sentosa.

There are dolphin show sessions where we can watch all the pink dolphins in action, four times daily at 11am, 1:30pm, 3:30pm and 5:30pm. It’s advisable that we manage the time properly and be at the Dolphin Lagoon gate at least 30-45 minutes before the show time. This is to ensure that we get the best seats for the show. Take note that the waiting time for buses and trams in Sentosa is quite long, especially during peak holiday period where Sentosa can get very crowded and it seems that the available buses and trams are outnumbered by the visitors.

MeetAndGreetTheDolphin After each session, there’s a meet and greet session where we can touch the dolphins and have your photos taken with them. For this, we would need to pay additional $15 fee per photo session, and each session is valid for up to two persons. We will have to go to one of the two corners of the lagoon compound and queue there to have our pictures being taken while touching the dolphins. We can then collect the photo at the souvenir shop near the exit of the lagoon complex. If we have another friend with a camera there, we can also ask the friend to take our pictures with the dolphin, so we can also have our own version of the photo.

Do not forget that the admission fee for Dolphin Lagoon includes the admission to Underwater World, which will be valid on the same day. So we might want to manage our time properly so we can visit both attractions on the same day. Underwater World opens until 9pm daily while the last show session is at 5:30pm daily, so if we reach Sentosa in the afternoon, we might want to watch the Dolphin Lagoon show first before heading to the Underwater World, which is located on the other side of the island.