Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Some Already Famous Tourist Sites In Beijing

1. Great Wall

2. Forbidden City

3. Tiananmen Square

4. Wangfujing Street

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

How To Get Around Beijing

It is so easy and cheap to explore the China's capital as Beijing has grid town plan. So, as long as you have a map in your hand, you can just go on foot and you'll be allright. But if your destination is quite far, there are so many ways to go around the city.

1. Subway

Since Indonesia has yet to have this mass transportation, I really made good use of my time to try all the subway lines. You know what? You can switch from Line 1 to Line 2 to Line 3 and so on, and you only pay 2 Yuan (1 Yuan is Rp 1,500 at that moment)! So cheap! Even cheaper than Jakarta's busway fare.

2. Bus

It's a bit difficult for me to try this mass transportation because the route was not mention as clear as the subway. However, during my quest to get to 798 Art Zone, I got on board. And it only costs 1 Yuan! Public transportation is such an affordable thing here.

3. Bicycle

I didn't get the chance to try this during my stay. Too bad. Because there are many bike rentals around. I even found one that only charges 5 Yuan per hour!

4. Bajaj-like vehicles

The vehicles really got my attention when I first saw them on the roads. They look like bajaj. What's even funny is the passenger's seats. Sometimes the passengers sit sideways, sometimes the seats face to the back.

5. Taxi

If you want to ride taxi in China, make sure you have the address in Chinese letters. Because (a) the drivers can't understand anything we say, and, (b) most of them can't understand the Roman alphabet. During my stay there, I would carry my hotel namecard and show it to the driver.

798 Art District

Many people come to China to marvel at its ancient classics, but a visit to 798 Art District, which features works of contemporary Chinese artists, is a must, even if you're not an art buff.

Located in Chaoyang district of Beijing, it houses thriving artist community and is often compared with New York's Greenwich Village or SoHo.
My colleagues and I spotted it on the Beijing map we got from the hotel. After some googling, we decided to give it a try. It was a long trip, with us changing subway three times, got on a bus and walked for endless hours. But when we got there, I just knew that it was worth the trip.

The area is often called the 798 Art District or Factory 790, although technically Factory #798 is only one of several structures within a complex formerly known as Joint Factory 718. The buildings are located inside alleys number 2 and 4 on Jiuxianqiao Lu, south of the Dashanziqiao flyover.

There are many activities you can do at 798 Art District. 

You can see the paintings and other artworks, that's for sure.

But you can also listen to them.

Or make them yourself. 

Or watch people making art.

You can even be part of the art, since artworks are not only found inside some 120 galleries in the place but they are also scattered along the way.

 If you zoom the picture above, you will notice that each brick has a picture of a worker. I'm totally loving it!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Let's Walk Into Beijing's Narrow Alley

Hello sweeties, how was your weekend? By now, you must be wondering why I haven't wrote a post on  Beuticanar Mount. Since it was an assignment from my office, it's only fair if I publish it here after my office does. So just wait, ok?

Meanwhile, allow me to take you to People's Republic of China, particularly Beijing and Shanghai. This month last year, I was assigned to Beijing to attend Indonesian Week. After covering the events and interviewing the bigwigs, my colleagues and I had a chance to walk around and feel the beat of the city.

We knew that visits to Great Wall and Forbidden City were on the schedule for the next day, so we decided to do something else.We went to a hutong, a type of narrow alley formed by traditional courtyard residences usually found in Beijing.

It was Lishi hutong we visited and below are several photos taken during our walk there.

You can read the published article at The Jakarta Post (here and here) or ANN Magazine.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Betawi Food

Last year I wrote an article about Betawi food in conjunction to Jakarta's anniversary. Here are some photos of the food. Enjoy!

Soto Betawi

Pesmol Ikan Kakap

Kue Putu Mayang

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Jakarta, Aku Cinta Kamu*

* means Jakarta, I Love You

 Found here

Have you watched "Paris Je T'Aime"? The 2006 production movie tells about the love stories in Paris's 20 districts (The movie only portrays 18 districts, but who's noticing?). I love the movie as it shows that each district has its own identity. The movie is later made into series with "New York I Love You" already being released last year. Rumor has it that the next city is Rio de Janeiro.

So I was thinking: why don't we make a version of that film? Paris has 20 districts, while Jakarta has 44. So we can have twice as much story ideas compared to "Paris Je T'Aime".

Let's start from Cipayung, a district in East Jakarta known as the training base for our badminton athletes.  The love story there can go like this: a young man is tossing shuttlecocks by himself. Then suddenly, one of the shuttlecocks fly back at him. 

A love story in Menteng should take place in Menteng Park. Perhaps a man with a DSLR camera notice a girl sitting by the fountain and takes her pictures secretly (It happened to me once).

For Tanah Abang district of Central Jakarta, we can portray one of the thugs there falling in love with the textile and then he opens his own textile shop. Hmm, that would be hilarious.

To learn more about the 44 districts in Jakarta, you can click here.

Happy birthday, Jakarta!

Monday, June 21, 2010

My Favorite Things In Jakarta

This week, Jakarta will celebrate its 483rd anniversary. The picture is not always beautiful when we talk about the capital city of Indonesia. Jakarta would remind people about its notorious traffic jams, inundations and air pollution. But the city does have its own charm, and here is my top 10 favorite things in Jakarta (Warning: since I'm a bit quaint, it is likely that you won't find these list appealing).

1. The parks
My favorite is Suropati Park and Menteng Park. Located on Jl. Diponegoro, Suropati Park is like a haven from all the city's hustle and bustle.  It would be just nice to sit there and feed the pigeons. I love going here on a Sunday at 10.00 - 15.00 as Suropati Park Chambers holds their string practice at that moment. You can read articles on the violin player community here and here
 Found here

Menteng Park is located near Suropati Park. It has just been renovated a few years ago.

2. The Old Town, including Sunda Kelapa harbor
It's a great place to take photos. Or to stroll down the paved road and admire the 18th century buildings.Or to practice your English to tourists who seem to be at lost.

3. TransJakarta
People love it or hate it. I choose to love it. It's air conditioned and (most of the time) congestion-free. I'm waiting for the day the network reaching Bekasi. However, we have to worry about those perverts lurking on busway.
4. Car Free Day
Should I give further explanation? It's the best time to frolic on the road! You can run, ride your bike and even dance right in the middle of the road.

5. The food
It's easy to find cheap and delicious food here. You don't have to go the distance just to sample (for example) Manadonese foods, since there are many restaurants here. The city consists of many ethnics groups, therefore the right food to represent Jakarta will be Betawi food. I'll try to sum up a post on that food ASAP.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Have A Childish Weekend

Source: here 

Dear readers, what is your plan this weekend? If you still have no plan, why don't you go to Menteng Park on June 19 at 17.00 and 19.00. There will be a free performance there by a French juggler (It's part of Printemps Francais). You can also see the full performance on June 22 at Gedung Kesenian Jakarta (Jakarta Playhouse).

There is also Goelali Children's Film Festival, where you can do a lot of activities with your children or other people's children (I'm referring to nephews/nieces here. Don't kidnap other people's children please). You can read more about the event on

As you read this, I am already heading to Tasikmalaya with fellow hikers from gunungbagging community. We plan to climb Mount Beuticanar (If the name is not familiar, then it's not your fault because I also don't know exactly where it is. Well, some say it's part of Mount Galunggung. You'll just have to wait until I get back to read the full story). I'm a bit excited because it's been four years since my last hiking. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

...And These Telenovelas Too

Since I've started this week with J-Dorama, it's only fair if I also write about another pastime activities in the past, which was watching telenovelas (South American soap operas). So telenovelas lovers, this post goes for you! 

If I'm not mistaken, some of the first telenovelas are from Brazil (Escrava Isaura, and Little Missy), then Mexican production flooded the screen, such as Wild Rose, Esmeralda, Marimar,  Betty La Fea, Carita de Angel, etc.

One thing about these telenovelas is they're addictive. Once you watch the first episode, you will be glued to the end. My auntie insisted to watch Cassandra when she visited us. I really liked Marimar's soundtrack, I taped it. One of my indekost friends vowed that she would named her son Alvaro after she watched Esmeralda. Halah.

Several telenovelas were stopped before it ended, such as Isamar and Terra Nostra.  I wonder how the story ends. 

Most of telenovelas' plots are about love, either forbidden or unrequited. Usually one of the characters will either suffer temporary blindness, amnesia or paralyzed in the middle of the story. 

The most entertaining thing about telenovela was the overly dramatized dialog.
"Who are you? Who am I? I can't remember anything."
"I'm blind, Fernando. I'm blind!!!"
"But I love you, Rosalinda. Please don't leave me."

The telenovela I remembered most was La Picara Sonadora (The Dreaming Girl/Gadis Pemimpi). The 1991 production was a love story of Lupita Lopez (Mariana Levy) and Alfredo Rochild (Eduardo Palomo). 

Found here
Lupita, a law student, lives with her uncle in the Sares department store, where she works by day as a  salesgirl in the toy department and  her uncle works by night as the  security guard. She writes down the things she "borrows'' from the store in a little book so that she can repay it when she finishes her studies. One day she met a handsome guy (Alfredo), whom she thinks applying for a job. 

Why I like it? Because I'd love to imagine myself living in a department store and walking at night amidst the goods. I once hoped to be locked up inside Gramedia so that I could tear the plastic cover and read all those manga comics. 

B-Channel is airing the latest interpretation of Little Missy. Ahh, I can only hope that someone in the television company has the initiative to re-run La Picara Sonadora. (And  please air it on Sundays?)
How about you? Do you have any favorite telenovelas?

Monday, June 14, 2010

I Wish I Could Buy DVDs of These J-Dorama

I'm having the nostalgic mood lately, especially since B-Channel is airing the film series of my childhood, such as The Cosby Show, Growing Pains and Full House. But the series I've been wanting to watch again is the Japanese drama (J-dorama). 

Photo taken from here

The first J-dorama I watched was, of course, Oshin. It was aired on state-owned television TVRI during the 1980s, depicting the life of hardworking woman during the WW II era. The  movie runs back and forth in the woman's life, causing a six-year-old girl left confused  with the story plot. It was re-run recently, and M went ecstatic.

Japanese dorama made a comeback to Indonesia’s orbit in 1994, when Indosiar aired Tokyo Love Story (Tokyo rabu sutori), starred by Suzuki Honami and Oda Yuji. I had to admit, I was shocked to see the movie’s portrayal of modern Tokyo people (Previously, I had always thought that I could only find love-making scenes in Hollywood movies). 

Photo found here

More J-dorama came in after that, such as Ordinary People (Asunaro hakusho) and 101 Proposals (101 kaime no puropozu). I remembered rushing home from school to see Ordinary People as it was played at 6 p.m. and I had afternoon classes (I would reach home at 6.15 p.m).

At that time, my uncle and his family had just returned from Australia and they
stayed at my house. Upon seeing me trying to catch my breath, my auntie would say: “Don’t worry, no significant development so far.” And she would tell me about the story plot. That’s what families are for

Not only do I like the story, I also love the original soundtracks. As I typed this post, I was listening to Fuji Fumiya’s True Love. Here it is, hope you like it.

But the J-dorama I truly, madly, deeply love is Kamisama (Kamisama mou sukoshi dake/God, please give me more time). It was played during my college years, perhaps in 2003 (bless my poor memory).

Source here
It tells a touching love story about teenage girl Kano Masaki (Kyoko Fukada) who contacted HIV after selling her body in order to earn money for the concert of a famous composer Ishikawa Keigo, played by Takeshi Taneshiro. (Now you know why I love Takeshi). 

Back to the dorama. After the concert, Keigo saw Masaki chasing after his van. She was drenched, and thus Keigo took her to his apartment, where they spent the night. Masaki tells Keigo that she has HIV and asks him to check whether he’s also infected. Well, he’s not (thank you, scriptwriter).

Keigo is a real gentleman. He fully supports Masaki when he learns the truth. He even marries her. IMHO, Kamisama is made to educate people on how HIV infected others and stop discrimination on people with HIV.

The commonly found scenes in J-dorama movies are scenes taken in train station, apartment or bridge. As a result, I once wanted to live in a low-cost apartment next to Pondok Kopi train station.

Friday, June 11, 2010

It's Time To Wave Your Flag

Wavin' Flag - the Peoples' Anthem

K'NAAN | MySpace Music Videos

My lovelies, how are you? It's Friday and the 2010 World Cup is just around the corner! I'm not really a fan of soccer, but I love the spirit of fair play and a dose of nationalism. And why should  you watch alone at your home, when there is a list of cool places to watch World Cup in Jakarta?

For those wanting a non-soccer activity, well you can go watch DJ Wax Tailor in Indochine at fX Plaza. It's part of Printemps Francais, and the website says that it's free before midnight if you bring the invitation. But where to get it? You might want to ask CCF Jakarta. A few years ago I went to a similar event held by the cultural center. I'm not a fan of dancefloor music, but I have to say that it was quite good.

Or you can go to the 2010 Jakarta Fair, which will be open until July 11. The fair is open everyday, from 15.30 to 22.00 (wordays) and from 10.00 to 23.00  (weekends). The ticket is priced at Rp 15,000  each from Monday to Thursday and Rp 20,000 from Friday to Sunday.

The fair displays products, sometimes at discount prices, so it can be a sign for some retail therapy, hahaha...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

View From Above The Forests Of Riau

I've taken you up on the mountain and into the caves in the past few days. So how about if we do something different today? Let's fly above the forest of Riau, Sumatra, or what was left of it. I went there in 2007 for an assignment.

I was invited by a pulp and paper company. They showed that they did better preservation than other players in the industry since they applied mosaic forest system, in which they combine the real forest with acacia plantation for the paper mill. But still, the view from above is heartrending.

I got to see the forest's bald patches.

But I also saw glimpses of the virgin forest.

Beautiful, eh? I've never been to the Amazon river, but the view somehow gave me a clue:)

The ugly side? Well, this assignment showed me that I'm not a good sport when it comes to flying with a Fokker plane.

#1. The girl looks confident upon boarding the plane. Little did she know that she will have the worst turbulence experience, throw up and succeed in humiliating herself.

#2. Still smiling inside the f***ing Fokker.

I was not the only one who got nauseous as everyone felt the same. Therefore, thirty minutes after the flight commenced, all passengers fell asleep to kick out the feeling of throwing up. The guide was a very dedicated man, though.

The guide : "So now, ladies and gentlemen, we are flying above...Huh? Everyone's sleeping already?"
The passengers: (continue to sleep)
#3. The aftermath: no smile at all.
Lessons learned from this experience:
- Never agree to fly over at noon, because the air has been mixed. Try to do it early in the morning.
- If you have to fly over at noon, sit at the front row to reduce turbulence effect and always have those small brown paper bags near you.
- Never make fun of your friends who threw up during the fly over because you can still throw up after the plane has landed. I call it the post-flight syndrome. This happened to FR, an AntaraTV journo.
Have a happy Wednesday!