Tag Archives: travel

Phuket Survival Tips

I had a great vacation in Phuket, Thailand, earlier this month. I’d like to share some tips that can be useful if you plan to travel there. If you’re looking for the stories, my friend has written a series of it (Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5).

1. Book the airport transfer

A taxi can load up to 4 passengers and costs about 450 THB from the Phuket international airport to Patong Beach (one of the most popular tourist destination). If you’re travelling in group and have to take more than one cab, consider to hire a driver with a minivan for the airport transfer.

It costs about 800 THB for a luxury Lexus minivan. It can load up to 9 passengers (or 10 if you include the front seat beside the driver’s). Our driver was Mr. Liem (Niwat Panphuet). He was a gentle driver, didn’t talk much, but actually quite friendly. He will pick you up and you can pay him after he drops you at your destination.

If you want his service, you can contact him through the following:
Email: [email protected]
Mobile: +66 89 4696867, +66 81 8949080
Tel/fax: +66 76 528044

2. Take a road trip

Phuket has many beautiful beaches and wonderful sight-seeing spots. You definitely won’t want to stay only in one place and skip the chance to visit those amazing places. The best way to visit most (if not all) of them is by taking a road trip. You can rent a car and drive on your own, but you will need an international driving license for this. Or just hire a driver with a car to drive you around.

When you do, take the west coast line of Phuket from Patong Beach – Karon Beach – Kata Beach – Nai Harn Beach, and all the way to Promthep Cape at the southwest. Along the way, you can also stop at some nice viewpoints (Kata and Karon viewpoints), the Big Buddha, or Phuket Town.

Tip: it cost us 2,500 THB for a 1 day (additional cost applicable beyond 10 hours of trip) for hiring the driver and the car (petrol included). We also hired Mr. Liem  for this road trip and we totally enjoyed and loved the ride.

3. Take a boat trip

Many parts in Phuket are accessible only by boats. Make sure you spare at least one day to visit those lovely places in Phang Nga Bay (James Bond Island, Hong Island, Bamboo Island) and Phi Phi Islands (Koh Phi Phi and the world-famous Maya Beach).

The ride can be long, rough, and bumpy, so if you have a weak stomach, be sure to have some preparation or medication to calm your sickness.

4. Haggle prices from street vendors

Often, you can buy your items at 50% or less than the initial price. Don’t hesitate to bargain. The vendors are quite friendly and they’re not so aggressive.

This includes show tickets (Simon Cabaret, Fantasea, etc.) and tours (Phang Nga Bay and Phi Phi Islands). For example, the listed VIP ticket price for Simon Cabaret is 600 THB, but we managed to get it for 550 THB including 2-way transfer by Tuk Tuk (Phuket local public transportation).

5. Bring some sunscreen or sun protection

Or buy one at Phuket. If you are at the Patong Beach, you can buy from Watson’s nearby. The price was quite cheap there.

Phuket is about beach. You will stay most of the time under the sun. Be sure you have enough protection against sunburn and, more importantly, skin cancer.

6. Bring some insect/mosquitoes repellent

Some areas can be populated by mosquitoes. Bringing one may save you from clapping your hands and scratching your legs all night every night.

First Days in Jakarta

Living in Jakarta is a great change in my life. I don’t know if it will be better or was, but I do know that there will be someone beside me all the time.

November 19: A Bad Start

I was with my family in Jember. Around 1PM, carrying a heavy backpack and a unit of PC (also heavy), I took a bus to Surabaya. It was a Mila Patas (Cepat-Terbatas) Bus. Although the fare was way more expensive than regular bus fare, I took the bus because of its comfort and convenience.

It’s comfort and convenience indeed, at least halfway to Surabaya. Soon after we passed Probolinggo (about two hours trip), the driver stopped the bus. Then he told us that the bus had an air conditioning problem and must return to its base immediately. What the $%^&!! The passengers (including me) complained a lot. But nothing we could do but try to get another bus. We stepped out of the bus and hey, it’s raining men, hallelujah!! Some times later, a regular bus showed up and I thought the bad luck ended.

Was it? Somehow another series of unfortunate events was about to begin. Well, what could I expect from a regular bus? There’s this little girl peed on the bus floor near me. Some men smoked heavily in their seat behind me. It’s regular in this regular bus I think. So I just held my breath and hoped we would get to Surabaya soon.

How soon is soon? After an hour, we got stuck in a heavy traffic jam. And I meant a really heavy traffic jam. The bus couldn’t move forward even an inch for two hours. My only consolation was the text messages from my darling. But hey, my cellphone beeped loudly and the display told me that it ran out of battery. Oh gosh.

Now I only hoped that the rain stopped sooner so I could walk to the nearest angkot (a public transportation vehicle) along with my belonging. But the rain didn’t stop when the bus finally arrived at Bungurasih (the bus terminal in Surabaya) after 2 hours late of schedule. So I took the nearest cab to go to my aunt’s house at Wisma Tropodo. Recent raise of fuel price was still astonishing. The cab fare was even more expensive than the bus ticket from Jember to Surabaya. But I didn’t care as long as I got to Wisma Tropodo soon. I was tired and hungry.

When I arrived at my aunt’s house, I charged my phone then went to buy Bakso Solo. It’s delicious but pricey. Never mind as long as it could satisfy my hunger. Two portions of bakso certainly did satisfy me. Now I should prepare for my departure to the airport. I got a plane to Jakarta to catch tonight. My plane took off late at the night, around 10PM and it’s scheduled to arrive in Jakarta about 11PM. By the time, the airport bus won’t operate. So I should wait until morning to get it. Unless I wanted to spend much more money to get a cab. I already decided to spend the night in Jakarta airport. And my girlfriend would be there accompanying me.

After eating bakso, I returned to my aunt’s house to get my belongings. I also met my grandma and had a nice talk. Then I checked my phone and it’s been fully recharged. I turned it on to get the news of my girlfriend. She should be in the airport already. But I was very surprised. She told me that she missed the bus and she asked me whether she should took a cab. I didn’t let her do it because it’s too dangerous to be in a cab alone in the late night.

I went to the airport earlier so I won’t miss the plane, only to find that it was delayed for an hour. I didn’t even have the will to curse anymore. So I just waited impatiently for the plane. Thanks God, I finally got to Jakarta, around midnight. So I tried to look for a vacant bench to spend the night. That’s it, let’s call it a day.

November 20: At Last My Suffering’s Over

Early in the morning I got the airport bus take me to Blok M. I met my girlfriend there and it changed my whole mood. Then we took a cab to Jalan Dokter Satrio, where my boarding house was located. Unfortunately, the cab driver didn’t really know how to reach it. Since it’s not an uncommon adress, I somehow wondered why he could be a driver of a wellknown taxy company, Blue Bird. And that was not my first experience with drivers who didn’t know the city well. Luckily, my girlfriend had been there several times so she could guide the driver.

When we arrived at the boarding house, the owner (a good middle-aged man), greeted us warmly. But once again, things didn’t work as I expected. The owner had not finished installing the air conditioner. But he immediately ordered his man to work on it. I got a pretty big room on the second floor. It’s in the corner. Nice placement. But I felt a little discomfort since the room wall and flooring was made of wood. Considering that sometimes I could behave brutally, I was afraid I would ruin the room. Anyway, thanks to my girlfriend who had worked hard to find me a nice room.

After resting for a few hours, we went to a nearby mall, Plaza Semanggi, to have some food. Then I decided to go to the movie to watch the Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire movie. But we definitely had no luck. The tickets had been sold out. Never mind, it would still be played in the next 4 weeks or so. Since we were at a mall, we continued to shop for my everyday needs before we went home.

November 21: And I Thought My Suffering’s Over?

It was my first day at the new company. Since I still wasn’t familiar with the city, I got up early in the morning so I won’t get late. I took a mikrolet (a public transportation) to go to the bus stop. Then I took the correct bus to Menara Kebon Sirih where I worked. Everything was okay. Or was it? When I got off the bus to walk to my office, I suddenly realized that I couldn’t find one of my cellphone in my bag. I was so surprised when I noticed that my bag had a hole at the bottom. Damn it!! I lost my first cellphone, Nokia 3350 along with my first mobile number, 081 2305 8773. This surely pissed me off. But not that bad. I could still control my mood so it didn’t ruin my whole day. And I was so lucky I had a loving girlfriend. She was with me that night and comforted me. That eased everything really.

Well, that’s all for now. I am not really in the mood of blogging. So see you later. Thanks for reading.

Bye Surabaya

Yes, it’s true. I will leave Surabaya by the end of this month. I’ll go to my hometown, Jember, and stay there for a few weeks. Then I’ll start my new job in Jakarta. Since I am still in Surabaya at this moment, I think this is a good time for me to write my experience briefly here.

What have I done in Surabaya?

I first came to stay in Surabaya in the year of 1998 when I entered the college in Universitas Surabaya. Many things have happened since then. I learned so much new things, made so much mistakes, made some new friends, met my first and second girlfriends, got my first professional job in PT Nagamas Gemilang Mandiri (the publisher of the Chinese Daily Newspaper: Naga Surya), got my first salary, got my first cellular phone, lost my grandpa and grandma, lost my first motorcycle, and many more things.

But to be honest, the most memorable moments are the past five months, since I met my first love. She is not my first girlfriend, but she is truly my first love. The one to whom I am willing to sacrifice myself. In the past five months I shed tears more than I did in my whole life. But the love and happiness she gave me was more than enough to make me survive. Also, she is the main reason why I want to leave Surabaya.

A tribute to my company and colleagues

My colleagues and I Currently I work as a Web developer at Excellogix, a Web site publishing company. It is a small company based in Surabaya. We have two bosses here: Mr. Tan It Pin and Mrs. Vera Sumargo. While Mr. It Pin has great ambition and vision about this company, Mrs. Vera possesses excellent technical and interpersonal skill. Together they make a good team of leadership. I would like to say many thanks to them for giving me the opportunity to work here for the past two years. I really appreciate their advices in my professional and personal life.

I also have many great friends here. Let’s say Vebby Anastasia and Lusida Juwita who sit next to my desk. They like to bring and share food to the office. Lusida is also a great cook. Her chocolate pudding is very delicious. Vebby and Carla Bley Ardian are also good listeners. I know to whom should I go when I need to talk. Jonathan Himawan Wijaya is a crazy guy. He likes violence but deep inside, he has a good heart. He loves to help people sincerely. He helped me a lot during my journey to Jakarta.

There is also Bambang, a nice person and a hard worker. We often go outside having lunch together or watching movies. Yendy is a sweet guy. He always talks nice and sweet things. On the other hand, Lisa Gunawan likes to make fun of her self and people around her. The environment is always cheerful whenever she’s around. Yet on the other hand, Devy Liliana and Agung Wicaksono are the quietest persons here. They are both also the tallest boy and girl in this office. They are both skinny. Wow, they share so many common things.

We also have a couple of lovers here, Freddy Tjokro and Eva Natalia. There is also a couple of maniac like Anton and Mariza Saraswati who like to have seductive conversation. Then there is the caring Sinta, the material girl Herlina, the workaholic Stephanie, the anime lover Pratu, the weird game lover Alex, the calm Yustina, and the hardworker Yunus Tamin.

I’m glad I have the chance to know various kinds of person like you, guys. You are all great. This is not good bye. We live in the Information age, right? And we work in the Information Technology industry. So staying in touch is not a problem at all. We will meet again for sure. Good luck to all of you.