TRAVELING

BOGOR BOTANICAL GARDEN, INDONESIA


Located 300m above sea level and just an hour's train journey from South of Jakarta, BOGOR enjoys a cool, wet climate and is home to the famously lush Botanical Garden (Kebun Raya Bogor). The Botanical Garden open daily from 08.00am to 05.00pm; with an entrance fee about US $ 1.- plus 20cent dollar for entering the orchid house. You can go by train, bus or private car to Bogor and enjoy the beautiful scenery on the way. Some rest areas offer you not only local and Indonesian cuisines but also western one. You don’t have to worry about hotels or restaurants in Bogor. There are a lot of Hotels available nearby the Botanical Garden. Some Hotels I could highly recommend for its cleanliness and conveniences are Santika Hotel (a three star hotel with mall, cinema and restaurants at the same compound), Salak Hotel (a four star hotel built since colonial time located right in front of Presidential Palace and nearby Botanical Garden) and Novotel Golf Course Hotel (a five star hotel located near by the traditional market and not far from the Botanical Garden). These hotels are all between reasonable prices and their foods are yummy and it is almost at no price at all. In the Botanical Garden, some pathways lie in between towering bamboo stands and climbing bougainvillea, passing through a small tropical rainforest, and ponds full of water lilies and fountains. Perhaps the garden's best-known occupant is the Titan Arun flower family or the giant Rafflesia (Bunga Bangkai), the world's largest and smelliest flower. Near the gardens' main entrance, the rather dilapidated Zoological Museum (open daily from 08.00am to 04.00pm) full with 30,000 specimens, including a complete skeleton of a blue whale, a stuffed of Javanese rhino and most impressively the remains of a huge coconut crab. Outside of the garden, there are plenty of vendors and workshop selling among others Wayang golek or Indonesian traditional puppets and local made souvenirs. If you're interested in gamelan or Javanese gongs that are using traditional methods, are also for sale around here.


The Giant Rafflesia or Bunga Bangkai


The Giant Rafflesia or Bunga Bangkai may be included in the family of Amorphophallus titanum or Titan Arum - is indeed considered as one of the largest flower in the world. Also known as the "Corpse Flower" because of its foul smell, Amorphophallus titanum is a prized addition to a number of well-known botanical gardens around the world, including London's Kew Gardens, California's Huntington Botanical Gardens and Sydney's Royal Botanic Gardens as well as at Bogor Botanical Garden Indonesia. The plants have become quite famous and always attract large crowds when a particular specimen blooms at one of the above locations or at a number of others gardens around the world. One such plant was also featured in Sir David Attenborough's outstanding BBC documentary The Private Life of Plants. In fact, the native habitat of Amorphophallus titanum is the rainforests of Sumatra, Indonesia.
Below, the photograph of the Titan Arum taken at Stuttgart, Germany's Wilhelma Botanical and Zoological Gardens by Lothar Grünz in October 2005.

The same photograph along with details about where, when and by whom the picture was taken, is available on the Wikimedia Commons website. And, another shot published on the Wilhelma website clearly shows the same building in the background as that shown in this photograph.

The blooming of the Amorphophallus titanum is certainly rare, and the flowers only last for two or three days. The specimens kept in various botanical gardens often go for several years between blooms. In "The Private Life of Plants", David Attenborough suggests that Amorphophallus titanum in the wild, bloom about once every 1000 days.

So, welcome and visit Indonesia and explore more about the Titan Arun flower family!!!

 


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INDONESIA - THE EMERALD OF THE EQUATOR:

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There are so much stories about my beautiful country Indonesia. A country with abundant natural resources and approximately 250 million citizens; with more than 17,000 islands some has no name still; and  more than 450 local languages belong to the ethnic groups.
We can speak years and years about the uniqueness of Indonesia. However, in modern time, we better enjoy the story from the slides, because time is so precious and it is more effective if I show you Indonesia from the visual facts.
Every part of Indonesia has a beautiful natural landscape, a gracefully GOD gives to our nation. Some part yes I must admit is bold and deforestated by irresponsible people for illegal logs businesses. Some because of the nature and heavy rain as Indonesia has two season that is rainy and dry. 
Poverty and imbalance distribution of income and development, yes we still have that, but the central government as well as the local goverments work hard to revive the economy; because before the economic crisis hits Indonesia in 1997 our economy was steadily growing at 7 percent annualy. The second hit in 2007-2008 due to the drop of commodity prices that was almost coincide with the rapid increase of world oil price and the subprime mortgage financial crises, contribute a negative impacts to Indonesia's economy. The economy that had already experience a turbulance in 1997 now had to endure again the impacts of the world economic crises not to mention the impact of the Tsunami that hits Aceh in December 2004, earth quakes in Yogyakarta in May 2006, in Padalarang early of September 2006  and West Sumatera end of September 2009, as well as various eartquakes in many places of Indonesia in 2010.
But, do the country lost its beauty because of the economic turbulances and tha natural disasters? Not at all, neither in the country sides that I mentioned before, because they still have their beauty and extraordinary natural landscapes that we can enjoy till today.
So, why not trying to explore the beauty of Indonesia? This short slides will prove in itself, but by visiting Indonesia you can prove it yourself. Dont they said: "Seeing is believing"? Bring along your family and friends and have a nice trip in Indonesia. Welcome.
Take a little of Your time and watch the slides. Thank you!

THE BATAK KARO TRADITIONAL WEDDING PARTY:

Do you have any idea, how great Indonesia is with its thousands Cultures and traditional customs? Well, here is an example of a Traditional Wedding Party in Batak Karo, North Sumatera Indonesia. Actually, the ceremony itself will take place approximately 8 hours at least, depends on the well being status of a family. For the rich, it may sometimes takes 3 days, included the church ceremony and the family gathering, but in modern days even the rich hold it only for 8 hours the most.
The following video clip was taken during the wedding ceremony of my niece end of 2009 in Jakarta. This part is showing how the parents, uncles and relatives of the of the two sides proceed the weds to their wedding chair.
I do not know much about the Batak Karo tradition although my late father is a Karonese himself, because I am a product of mix blood of Karonese, Molucans and Mandailing. Anyhow, if you are lucky enough to get an invitation from any traditional wedding party, please do not hesitate to go, you will be entertained by a remarkable traditions of thousands of variety of Indonesian cultures.


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THE BEAUTY 0F MYANMAR.

Myanmar is one of the most secluded country in the world, but the beauty of this agricultural country of thousands pagoda is quite amazing. People are so friendly here, and of course it is difficult to distinct them with Indonesians, since we Indonesians and Burmese are all look the same, only our language, religion and tradition are somehow different, but we also have Buddhists in Indonesia, so in general I must say our people are almost the same especially in social life and culture.

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I have many friends in Myanmar. Among them is Ms. Yin Yin, my class mate during my EPP ISS study in The Hague the Netherlands long ago; also Ms. Nwe, whom I met, in my short course in Wuhan China in 2008. Well, I really wish that I could meet with these two beautiful ladies, but I was not that lucky for I only stay there for 3 days during the ASEAN meeting in 2009.
I was so speechless, finding out the mystical and extraordinary beauty of Myanmar. This country is so unique and the history of Myanmar or Burma had started thousands of years ago, from which the remains one can witness as the pictures and slides shows in this article.
Aside of the beauty and the cleanliness of this county and their public places, of course this country is best known as one of the most secluded country in the world. It is difficult to get into Myanmar, one has to go through a very strict screening through their embassies abroad and this will take a very long processing time, the shortest I heard is at least a month to process the entrance permit, because they have to check among others the political back ground of their “incoming visitors”, the country of origin and the approval from the junta government in the capital.
When you are inside, well everything is then easy and comfortable. People here are so friendly and they will welcome you with smile. You can find and buy good quality handicrafts in almost every part of the country. Off course you can hardly find money changers here, but don’t worry, they (I meant almost every shops, vendors, especially hotels) accept, US dollars, Euro, Malaysian Ringgit, Indonesian Rupiahs, Singapore Dollars and Thai Bath with “fantastic exchange rate”, as they wish, sometimes their priced one US dollar only 0.7 of their currency. So, just change your money wisely, only for what you are going to spend and buy, because when you are out of this country you can only change their currency in certain money changers and banks in ASEAN member counties with very low exchange rate.
When you are inside, you can stay at many international five stars hotels and cottages as well as visits all of tourist areas and be amazed by thousands of Buddhist temples mostly built hundreds of years back and buildings from colonial time. One of the most popular places to visit is Bagan, one hour flight from Rangoon. You can take as many pictures or make video for your own documentary in this country, but oops, when you are in Rangoon (the capital city of Myanmar), don’t even dare to take picture of the house of Aung San Su Kyi (the Nobel Price Winner), the living and greatest protester of Myanmar, who demands for freedom to speak, justice and openness. When we pass her house with controlled speed running car, we can only see bushes and huts although she was a daughter of a ruling general in the past. It was because of maintaining the legacy her late father, she “rebelled” against the Junta or the ruling military government, up to this very second. However, when we past her residential area, we can’t see, any single police or military around. My driver said because, it is hard to guest whether she is in jail or under house surveillance at any moment. The most obvious I found, that many big houses in Myanmar, according to the people are belong to the member of Junta and in fact many ordinary people in business are actually rich, and once this country opened to the world we can immediately see thousands of sky scrapers under construction!
So, Bon Voyage my friends. It is one of the best places in the world to worth visit!




SWITZERLAND:
Switzerland is one of the most officials visited countries in the world. Why so, because hundreds of international organizations based here and of course million of diplomats, government officials, head of states, CEOs and prominent business people visit this country for international congress or other meetings.
Aside of its status as international organizations based camps Switzerland is in the top list of most visited countries for hi jet and world celebrities especially for winter sports, but I don’t want to touch that part because I am not part of that society. I have no knowledge to tell the situation and condition of the places they have visited here, but I am sure that must be fantastic and beyond our dreams as back packers and mid class official.
Does it meant then we lost our opportunity to enjoy our stay in this beautiful country? Not at all, like many European countries, Swiss has many open public facilities that we really can enjoy without any cost. Here are some examples:
For tourist promotion, Swiss (the Geneva Tourism & Bureau Des Congress) provides many leniences for their visitors. For example, once you are registered in a hotel in Geneva, automatically then you are eligible for a 10 zones free bus and 2nd class train ticket during your stay in the hotel. 10 zones covered the whole part of Geneva, you can then visit the famous fountain in the centre of the city Mont Blank, the shopping passage nearby central station Gar Cornavin, the shopping centre Bel Air or Ballexert. You can visit the Jardin Botanical Garden in Geneva, or The UN building and any other international bodies under UN (United Nations) such as WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization), ILO (International Labor Organization), WHO (World Health Organization), WTO (World Trade Organization) and UNCTAD (United Nations Council for Trade and Development).
Where to stay? Well, there are many hotels here provide back packers and mid class official a reasonable price to stay, among others Etap Hotel Cornavin, nearby the airport would offer a room for only US$ 90 per night, enough for 3 person to stay in the room. This room equipped with shower, toilet and small TV with at least 3 channels. A bit more expensive is Crystal Hotel, nearby central station Cornavin, USD 150 per night for Deluxe room, Churchill Hotel, Rue de Simplon nearby the Geneva Fountain also USD 150 per night for Deluxe room during its promotion period.
For food, don’t worry, they have Mac Donald or many other restaurants for budget visitors. Traveling in Swiss (Switzerland) is very save, even you are alone. Banks and ATM available in almost every corner of the country, police also are very helpful, but oops, although they adopt 4 languages namely English, Flamish (Dutch), German (Deutch), French is most commonly used by the people here.
Switzerland is a very international country in the world. You can find and bump with people from various nationalities in the world, and this in itself make Swiss most interesting place to visit. Their youngs are very polite, they are not harmful of bad, a bit out of control only if they are drunk, but these are quite a few and most of them usually not a Swiss origin, sorry to say.
Swiss is quite open for foreign workers, especially those under inter corporate transfer, for example if you open and run a restaurant, shops or hotels here, you can bring along your chefs, waitress, bell boys or hired students from your own countries or others as part-time workers. Many foreign students study in Swiss, especially for international law and banking.
Well that is the most I can share, so enjoy your stay whenever you visit this country.

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PARIS:



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PATTAYA, THAILAND

Pattaya City is divided into North / central and South area, going from a more family oriented, to the iconic night life walking Street in the South Pattaya area.
We can reach Pattaya in a comfortable 2-hours drive from Bangkok by taxi, or if we are in a big group, we can rent a van for 30.000 Baht one way, or about less than USD 100.- (USD 1 = 32.6 TBH). If we share it within the group of maximum 8 persons or even to 10 persons; it's not money at all!


Pattaya from 22 floor Holiday Inn


The half-moon-shaped Pattaya Beach is 4 kilometers long with a road running parallel to the beach. It is actually free; to stroll along the beaches, but operators will charge you for the services they provided, i.e. the beach chair. A price is roughly $0.5 per chair, although bargaining is accustom in Thailand.
From the mid-section to the southern end of the area, there is a vast array of shops, department stores, boutiques, beauty salons, supermarkets, bars, discotheques, restaurants, nightclubs, souvenir stores, as well as other places of entertainment; .... And don't worry, free and clean public toilets with lemon or lavender flavor are also available along the beach. The complete compound that serves you the combination of such facilities is Central Centre.
Thai people in general love cleanliness and they are somehow a little bit artistic, so their food and room decoration rather similar with what we can find in the land of gods, Bali, Indonesia.

 Public toilet facilities at Central Centre, Pattaya

During the riots and demonstration that costs many lives and casualties, the trend of tourists visiting Thailand is shrinking, although the riots actually taken place mainly in the centre of Bangkok City. After military actions, now we can see a slight increase in tourism business.
Today, it is quite safe to travel to Bangkok or Thailand in general, however don't forget to bring along the documents, such as passport, visa etc, because Thai immigration quite strict. Although the airport has been well equipped with biometric camera etc that does not guaranteed us to be freed by several unfriendly questions. Maybe, having a well equipped international export affect a cultural shock to some immigration officers, so that behave a little bit over reaction!

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OTARU, HOKKAIDO, JAPAN

Otaru is a harbor city that once known as the centre of economy of Hokkaido’s region. The Otaru’s harbor developed about 150 years ago during Meiji Restoration Era as one of the busiest distribution and logistics centre for fishery and agricultural products of the Northern Part of Japan.

In the old day, according to the tour guide, many warehouses and banks were built to meet the demand of consumers as well as traders that came not only throughout Japan but also from neighboring countries and Europe. That is why we can see many building that had been constructed century ago as well as the canal and the warehouses looked rather similar with those that we can find in Europe or Netherlands in particular.

Nowadays, due to its isolated area in the North, many old banks and warehouses turned to be souvenir shop and restaurants as Otaru is now more popular as tourist destination for winter sports since Winter Olympic Games had taken place in Sapporo once in 1972 as well as for candies, chocolate, glassware, .

To reach Otaru, the easiest and most efficient way is by bus or train. First, go to Hokkaido by air depends where you live, then a take a bus or train to Sapporo that only cost you Y 1000. - one way (if you go by taxi, that will cost you around Y 12,000.-) Don’t worry, even you are the only passenger on board, the bus or he train will continue their journey to take you to the bus stop according to their schedule, so watch carefully for the bus and the train schedules and where they stop. The distance between Hokkaido and Sapporo is about one hour drive. From Sapporo you can join the tour take another bus to Otaru and this will cost less, as for me I only pay Y 700 for return bus ticket to Otaru including the entrance ticket to Mount Tengu ski slope.

The rest, I hope you enjoy your trip.


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