Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Oakwood Kuala Lumpur | The perfect staycation hotel

Sometimes, the best vacation is a staycation.
A foreign activity or/and name for some yet it is pretty common now.

Staycation has received a few urban definition these past few years, a few of the popular ones found are:
  • A vacation that is spent at one's home enjoying all that one's home environs have to offer.
  • A reprieve from daily activities of work and chores; taking personal time.
  • A  vacation spent close to home.

And everyone’s favourite choice will be ‘A Vacation spent close to home’.  I got the chance to enjoy this experience at Oakwood Hotel & Residence off Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur. Everything is perfect to the T; the room comes with a decent and well equip kitchenette, a living room and bedroom.  A few thoughts ran into my mind as I walked in the room, this is a suitable place to hold a small gathering or reunion among close friends, family weekend getaway in the city and perhaps a home away from home for those who wants a different from home yet close enough to attend any emergency issues (if need be).

I have to admit, it was a much needed staycation cum holiday as I get to focus on my work (need to complete my 2017 plan), backlogged blog post, rest while enjoying the pool and gym facilities (obviously).... not only that, I also managed to go for an acupuncture cupping therapy. AND that's a big YEAY for me.

That is not all, a few of the services and facilities I noticed and impressed with are the:
  • Doctor on-call
  • Complimentary Daily Shuttle Service
  • Internal Laundry Facilities (self-operated machine is available)
  • 10-minute drive to MaTIC, Kuala Lumpur's one-stop Tourist Information Centre, Suria KLCC, Petronas Twin Tower, KL Tower, Lot10, Lake Titiwangsa, Istana Budaya and etc. Aside, shopping malls along with the financial district within a stone’s throw.
  • 5 minute drive away from the world class medical centre; The Gleneagles Hospital
  • Situated in a well-connected, accessible and within the popularly known "Embassies Hub” area thus providing guests with a comfortable and hassle-free stay.

Oakwood Hotel & Residence Kuala Lumpur is located in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, making it the perfect place for me to have a great staycation. Accessible to KLCC, Avenue K, Pavillion and etc makes it convenient for me to shop or attend any event.

The TrEat Restaurant & Bar offers light and simple meal for guest. Craving for a pasta meal since the last few weeks drive me to sample what TrEat Restaurant has to offer. Flipping thru Oakwood Hotel menu (thank goodness for the simplicity else I have an even tougher time picking a meal), I saw a section dedicated to pasta. 'Hemmm... Gonna get myself an Aglio Olio pasta' I said to myself satisfactorily. Few minutes after placing my order, the most anticipated pasta arrives. Doesn't look that appealing, I remembered telling myself. I took a small bite (doubting)...

It was spicy. Very spicy in fact.
But strangely, I kinda love this new and interesting fuse of Italian food with cili padi. Fit my Minang taste bud. Definitely.

So far so good, love my room, great food and now I set to hunt for recreational activities which sums up to gym and pool. Finding the pool site was easy as it is situated by the TrEat Restaurant of which one can dine while watching the kids playing by the pool at the same time, I believe this is called good time management and great multi-tasking skill *wink*. As for the gym, it is located just next to the restaurant overlooking the pool. I guess the management really think through on everything.

Looking for a great Oakwood Hotel Kuala Lumpur promotion? Click HERE to know more.

Fact :
Oakwood Worldwide® is the premier provider of corporate housing and serviced apartment solutions through its well-known brands, Oakwood®, ExecuStay® and Insurance Housing Solutions™. With a presence in all 50 United States and more than 85 countries, the award-winning company provides move-in-ready furnished accommodations to meet the needs of global organizations, individual business travellers, insurance clients and leisure travellers alike. Oakwood Worldwide was founded in and continues to base its corporate headquarters in Los Angeles and operates regional headquarters in London, Phoenix and Singapore.

222 Jalan Ampang
50450 Kuala Lumpur
Tel : 603.2720.3888

Friday, December 23, 2016

Harry Porter Graduation Tower. NOT! It’s the Wieliczka Salt Mine Graduation Tower

Looks pretty mighty and weird at the same time eh!
We found it by chance, not knowing what it is.

Mind my ignorance when writing this as I will share my experience.

It started with both Anna and I wanted to cover the famous UNESCO site Wieliczka Salt Mine, after looking at the entrance price, I decided to be kiam siap (stingy) for whatever stupid reason. Occasionally I do this during trips despite I told myself not to, after spending a bomb on a trip, I should just close my eyes and pay for the entrance fee (of which I now regretted not visiting [padan muka Lily!]). So we decided, to do a self-discovery trip Wieliczka town, rather quaint seriously.

#TravelTips 1 : I would highly recommend for you guys to do an overnight trip here here, the country site is awesome and calm to look at. And do check activities you can do at the meadows, farms or country site.

We departed during the midday and arrive just before noon I think, or perhaps at noon. Upon checking out the Wieliczka Salt Mine plus mapping and ticking those attractions we covered, we noticed that there is thing called Graduation Tower which we were curious of. We obediently head to the tower direction, while looking for any place interesting for us to look-see look-see or perhaps drop in and get some souvenirs. There was almost none. Sigh….

It was pretty easy actually, as we got down from the train and cross the main street (a rather small street), within 50m or so, you’ll notice an Information   Booth/Counter, just go right in and get a map, they will be able to point you the right direction to whether you should start your walking excursion. Yup! You practically can walk to most of the attractions.

#TravelTips 2 : Depart as early as possible as the queue can be super long.
#TravelTips 3 : Where a proper walking shoe and bring a bottle of water

Our first point of interest was the Salt Mine, of which we later head to the Graduation Tower, here, we decided to stay abit longer due to the health benefit…gitew.  It is one of the most interesting structure I’ve seen and coupled with the health benefits, I guess I am more impress with how the Polish able to combine this 2 element and build this tower.

Graduation Tower

Also called a Thorn House, the graduation tower wall is made of bundles of brushwood/blackthorn against a wooden wall-like frame. You will see salt water dripping on the brushwood from the top and partly evaporates; it is said that some of the minerals from the solution are left behind on the brushwood twigs. This mineral-rich water droplets are regarded as having beneficial health effects similar to breathing in sea air. Hence, it is often visited for health reason.

Who and why should visit the graduation tower?
Inhalations at the graduation tower are recommended for persons suffering from recurring and chronic ailments of the respiratory system. Thus patients with rhinitis, sinusitis, laryngitis and during the period of post-therapy of acute infections of the respiratory system will feel a relief. The brine aerosol also helps patients to remove mucus during such ailments as, for instance, bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and bronchial asthma.

The benefits of inhalations at a graduation tower are well known. The salutary effects can be observed especially with patients suffering respiratory system disorders. Inhalations at a graduation tower have a positive impact on the mucous membrane of our nose, throat, sinuses, trachea and larynx, confirms doctor Magdalena Paciorek, Assistant Health Treatment Consultant at the “Wieliczka” Salt Mine Health Resort. The microclimate of the area surrounding the graduation tower is also serves as a preventive measure for healthy persons cleansing their respiratory tract and improving their body defence system. This allows to protect oneself, at least to a certain extent, from recurring infections.

The best treatment effects can be achieved while standing not closer than 30 meters from the tower while the recommended duration of a single visit is 15 to 30 minutes, twice a day. It is also recommended to have a brisk walk after the visit to the graduation tower or take a stroll along the park avenues. You can also enter the roofed platforms or the tower from which you can admire the magnificent view of the surroundings. But, if you just want to relax and take a deep and healthy breath in the area of the graduation tower there are plenty of benches to sit on in the area.

#TravelTips 4 : The brushwood twigs are usually changed every 5-10 years.
#TravelTips 5 : Prepare to spend longer time at the Graduation Tower.

The place is rather scenic I must say, in fact I think the whole town is scenic, quaint and full of history. I fell in love with it immediately.

#TravelTips 6 : For those whom love to take ‘creative’ memorable photography, bring your graduation robe and take a picture here J *wink*.

Oh! This ain’t over yet for Wieliczka town, I have more to share in my next entry. Stay tune.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Villa Kontena | Paving the market trend in Malaysia

Paving the market trend on container eco-friendly home.
A trend setter.

Settling with architecture experience doesn’t goes well with Port25; the company that showcased Villa Kontena at the recent Camping in the City event held a Lanai Matic, Jalan Ampang.

Hungry for challenge and craving for green building excellence, Port25 aimed to create a different in Malaysia tourism industry. Understanding the concern that hoteliers have, the pain that small time guesthouses encountered and coupled with the travellers need of a decent and affordable accommodation during ones journey, makes Port25 craft Villa Kontena. Villa Kontena is an affordable accommodation that focuses on necessity and carbon footprint while meeting demand-supply from both parties; hotel and guesthouse owners and guest. 

Villa Kontena is not a typical container home like what we see trending now in Malaysia, Villa Kontena is a realization and vision of Port25, where it minimizes the reconstruction of the shipping container while leveraging on existing space, at the same time, providing the guest with experience of staying in a eco-like hotel. Embarking in container hotel helped to recycled more than 3000kg worth of steel, not only that, it also contributes in saving the building materials such as mortar, bricks, wood and etc. Aside, it’s fast construction helped to save cost from both the contractor and the hotel/guesthouse owners.

For each recycled shipping container we are reusing around 3,500kg worth of steel. We are also saving all of the traditional building materials (such as bricks, mortar and wood) which don’t need to be used.

Whilst you could argue that melting down the shipping container and recasting the steel into something else is more environmentally friendly, you would be wrong. Recasting steel requires an incredible amount of energy and it isn’t financially viable- this is why there are so many abandoned shipping containers in the world.

Embarking in yet another great project in Perak, Port25 is set to pave their path in this wondrous state, starting with container  villa, equipped with base necessity and eco-friendly built ups, giving guest and travellers alike a pure sense of being and surrounded by nature, yet still feel comfortable and secured.

PORT25, being the acronym for People Of Remarkable Talent, is a design collaborative based in Malaysia. With the aim to forge broader inter-disciplinary creative collaborations, PORT commune was created by repurposing an old factory/warehouse into a space where like-minded creative types would gather and share discourses or exhibits.

Aside from building container home, Port25 also specialises in Architecture Design, Urban Design/Intervention, Interior Design, Furniture Design and Exhibition Installation.

Studio A, No.3, Jalan 51/201
Seksyen 51
Petaling Jaya
Tel : 03-7781 2228

This #CaraCamp Camping in the City event is with supported by #MITA and #NBQS in collaboration with #MaTiC (venue)

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Semarang | 3 Must Not Miss Attractions

We were introduced to Semarang where we get to experience some local delicacy (blogged HERE) and covered a few amazing places. Semarang is the 5th largest city in Indonesia, and its harbor is at the heart of central Java, making it a regional center of commerce for Java Island.

Semarang history dated as far back as 1678 when Sunan Amangkurat II promised to give control of Semarang to the Dutch East India Company (VOC) as a part of a debt payment, this sets the beginning of the Dutch colonial era in this city. It was made official in 1705 when Susuhunan Pakubuwono I made another deal to give extensive trade rights to the VOC in exchange of wiping out Mataram's debt in which prolonged and empowered Dutch to have full control of Semarang. This is when the VOC establishes tobacco plantations, and build roads and railroads thus making Semarang an important colonial trading centre; similar to the British colonial administration in  Asia as well as India.

Most of the Chinese settlements existed in the north coast of Java, and most of them are traders and merchants, this is way before Dutch arrive in the 17th century.

The skilled Chinese artisans assisted the Dutch in the construction of Batavia (Jakarta), making Batavia the home to the largest Chinese community in the archipelago and remains so in the 21st century. As a result of this, several Chinese temples emerged which includes Sam Po Kong, built in honor of the Chinese Great Admiral Zheng He and Tay Kak Sie Temple.

Due to Dutch colonial and oriental influence, Semarang boost as a city of architectural and culinary wonders, yet always fall under the radar. Few Semarang attractions that we visited during this 5 days trip covering Semarang and Jogjakarta are as below. A must visit place if you plan to drop by in this beautiful and wondrous city.

Gedung Batu Temple or Sam Poo Kong Temple
Also known as Gedung Batu Temple, Sam Poo Kong Temple is the oldest Chinese temple in Semarang, Central Java, Indonesia. It is said that this temple was built in honour of Admiral Cheng Ho; a famous Chinese Muslim explorer in the 15th century who visited the Semarang in 1405.

Ambarawa Train Station
Once a military city during the Dutch Colonial Government, Ambarawa now has a unique museum focuses on the collection of steam locomotives. The construction of the new railway is to enable the transport of troops to Semarang. In April 1976, this Ambarawa Railway Station was converted into the Ambarawa Railway Museum.

The heritage railway between Ambarawa-Bedono is currently operated by steam locomotive. Aside from this, there is also a tourist railway servicing Ambarawa-Tuntang.

Lawang Sewu
One of Semarang landmark is the Lawang Sewu or Thousand Doors; a headquarters of the Dutch railway company. Famous for being haunted, this Dutch colonial has gone thru few attempt of unsuccessful rebranding and repositioning by the local council.

Japanese occupied the building and used the dungeons for interrogation and prison during the WW2, where else the basement was used as a killing fields of the indigenous population, young Indonesian and Dutch troops. Lawang Sewu complex was completed in 1919 and later seized by the Japanese in 1940s. It was initially used by the Nederlandsch-Indische Spoorweg Maatschappij, the first railway company in the Dutch East Indies.

Obviously there are many more that you guys can visit aside from this 3, hence a 2 days 1 night trip is highly not advisable *wink*. Spend abit more time here and am sure you will love it, not to forget, Semarang is also a food heaven.

Semarang-Jogjakarta Fam Trip is in collaboration with Tourism Indonesia and all its sponsors with #MATTA as Fam Trip coordinator.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Local delicacies from Semarang and Jogjakarta

This entry would be a short, simple and sweet.
As that is how I feel about food.
It shouldn’t be complicated and lengthy.
After all, I am no food connoisseur.

After trying a few delicacies that charmed Semarang and Jogja during our fam trip, I have settled to showcase the below 3 as a must try despite almost all food I’ve bumped into is a must try. But this sets apart from the rest, if tak try, nyesal some have said. Katanya lah…

Rule of thumb, semua must try but the 3 below is a must MUST try. Gitew.

Let’s start.

Popiah in Malaysia, Lumpia in Philippines and Indonesia, Gỏi cuốn or Vietnamese Spring Roll in Vietnam (they have summer roll as well), Yaw Dip from Lao and Poh Pia in Thailand; a popular afternoon snack in S.E.A.

Lumpia or spring roll is a snack or an appetizer that is often made of thin crepe pastry skin called "lumpia wrapper" and the fillings varies, usually consist of vegetables such as carrots, cabbages, green beans, bamboo shoots and sometimes meat such as minced chicken, shrimp and beef are added.

Beef Rib or Iga Sapi Bakar
Beef ribs using Balinese spices is what makes Iga Sapi Bakar famous and highly seeked after food when one is visiting Jogjakarta. Often eaten with rice and its special sauce.

The fact that this special recipe at this extraordinary restaurant is located at a well hidden place, and still receives never ending patrons plus numerous compliments and positive ratings is truly one of Jogja's best hidden secret.

Gudeq Telor
Popularly known as 'City of Gudeg', Jogjakarta has always been associated with Gudeg; a traditional Javanese cuisine that is often made from unripe jack fruit (gori/nangka muda) that is boiled for several hours with palm sugar and coconut milk.

It is usually served with white rice, chicken, hard-boiled egg, tofu and tempe, and chili crisp beef skins (sambel goreng krecek).

Have you sampled any great Semarang and Jogja food, feel free to share J

Semarang-Jogjakarta Fam Trip is in collaboration with Tourism Indonesia and all its sponsors with #MATTA as Fam Trip coordinator.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Jogjakarta | The uniqueness of Omah Kecebong

This is one of the most unique places we visited, I wish we have something similar in Malaysia. Or perhaps we do buy am not aware (please invite me for review yea ).

Omah Kecebong is an all-in-one concept of a traditional attraction, encompassing guesthouse, dining, bullcart, batik craft, grass pupper, traditional dances and many more. Situated just 7km from Jogjqkarta city, Omah Kecebong is surrounded with horticultural garden and scenic landscape. Aside from experiencing local delicacies and staying in their local architecture/decorated guesshouse, one can also venture into outdoor activities lava tour & downhill cycling, gerobag (bull cart) ride, horticultural garden and etc. Not only that, try your hand at some local craft for example ‘wayang suket’, batik Jogja and literature slam night.

Bull Cart Ride
The bull cart ride takes guest from Omah Kecebong passing through green rice field, villages and rural area. Guests get to learn on agricultural produce and local crops from local farmers, their traditional way of planting and harvesting crops such as: rice, beans, corn, chilies and etc.

Wayang Suket
Similar to 'wayang kulit' or shadow puppet, grass puppet or 'wayang suket' made famous and originated from Tegal in Central Java by the renowned Slamet Gundono; a dalang or puppet master that revolutionized the art of puppeteer, specifically grass puppet.

'The puppets are named after the material used to make them, which is grass, or suket in Javanese. The types of grass shaped into the different figures are usually teki (sedge grass), gajah (elephant grass), or mendhong (mat-making grass).' - Credit to The Jakarta Post

Batik Jogja
Jogja batik is known for their base colour which is usually white, black, and brown colors and the way tjanting batik are done (drawn using hot wax) by hand, bird, animal or even human form are the common patterns used. This traditional technique form a category of its own called batik tulis (hand drawn batik). Where else the modern version is called batik cap (batik print/stamp) to cater for large scale production.

2009 marks the years when UNESCO designated Indonesian batik as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

For more information on Omah Kecebong, click HERE.

Phone: 0817 0290 771

Semarang-Jogjakarta Fam Trip is in collaboration with Tourism Indonesia and all its sponsors with #MATTA as Fam Trip coordinator.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Jogjakarta | Center of Javanese Culture

Yogya or Jogja?
Has the question pop-up in your mind before?

City of 1001 names I would say, am sure you’ve heard of many referring it as Yogya, Jogja, Jogjakarta, Ngayogyakarta and Djokdja. Which one is the right one?

How Yogyakarta name first existed is unknown of, whether it is a contraction of the name Ngayogyakarto was never verified. Having said that, the name Yogyakarta is being used officially ever since Indonesia independence and this was stressed even more when Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwono IX used the name Yogyakarta when he announced that his kingdom is part of the Indonesian Republic.

Now, famously knowned as a Center of Education (Kota Pelajar) and Center of Javanese Culture, showcasing classical Javanese fine art and culture such as batik, ballet, drama, music, poetry, and puppet shows. Jogja was also the Indonesian capital during the Indonesian National Revolution.

Candi or temple is one of the attractions that made Jogja famous to the eyes of UNESO hunters, travellers and holiday makers. Amongst the popular candis are :

Candi Borobudur - The world's largest Buddhist temple
Candi Prambanan - The most Beautiful Hindu temple in the world
Candi Kalasan - The oldest Buddhist relics in Yogyakarta
Kraton Ratu Boko -  Impressive in a peaceful hill

3 candis that a travellers here must visit is Candi Borobudur, Candi Prambanan and Kraton Ratu Boko.

Candi Borobudur - The world's largest Buddhist temple
This #UNESCO site is a 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist temple that is situated 40 km northwest of Yogyakarta. Borobudur was listed as a World Heritage Site in 1991. It has also won multiple international awards and in 2012, #Borobudur was recorded as the world's largest Buddhist archaeological site in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Aside from the 9 platforms that raised majestically envaloped by nature, it also consist of 504 Buddha statues making it the greatest Buddhist monuments in the world todate.

The best time to visit Borobudur is at dawn and capture the beautiful sunrise.

Candi Prambanan - The most Beautiful Hindu temple in the world
#UNESCO Heritage Site's Prambanan Temple complex is dedicated to the three great Hindu divinities (Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma) and is said to be the largest Hindu temple site in Indonesia, and one of the biggest in Southeast #Asia.

My first trip here was in 2007, a year after Jogjakarta earthquake. I could see that debris and carvings from the temple scattered all over the ground and some of the places were being closed for visitors for safety reason.

Journey from this 19th century temple to Jogjakarta city is approximately 20mins/17km.

Kraton Ratu Boko -  Impressive in a peaceful hill

"Stork King" basically what Ratu Boko stands for; an archaeological siteif the legendary king mentioned in Loro Jonggrang folklore. This unique site is located some 190m above the sea level and there is a small pavilion at the top of this site of which one will be able to see a panoramic view of the Prambanan Temple to the north with Mount Merapi in the background and villages in the area.

It is also said to be the only Hindu and Buddhist Mixed-architectural Archeological site, and the stone basements of pendopo hall (where the wooden building stood) was apparently a man-made water tank or a bathing place.

It is said that one can enjoy the most magnificent sunset in Jogja, here at Kraton Ratu Bako.

Picture courtesy of Abbaz :

Candi Mendut - The oldest of the three temples inclusive of Borobudur

Just 3 km east of Borobudur Temple is Candi Mendut; this 9th century AD temple is the oldest of the three temples including Pawon and Borobudur. It was built and finished during the reign of King Indra of Sailendra dynasty and named it Venuvana which means "bamboo forest".

3 carved large stone statues is located in the main chamber, a 3 metres tall statue of Dhyani Buddha Vairocana, on the left is statue of Boddhisatva Avalokitesvara and on the at the right is Boddhisatva Vajrapani. Where else, the outer walls of the temple is adorned with bas-reliefs of Boddhisattvas (Buddhist divinities).

Of course there are many more temples that one should visit when in Jogja, hence my advice to you is to spend between 3-7 days in Jogja alone. Aside from temple exploring, you can also do cafe hopping and culture rediscovering.

You can never be bored of Jogja - Center of Javanese Culture.

Semarang-Jogjakarta Fam Trip is in collaboration with Tourism Indonesia and all its sponsors with #MATTA as Fam Trip coordinator.

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