3.14.2015

MEL meets Indonesia


It was November 2014 when I visited Jakarta for the Asia Geospatial Forum.

Since I came from a neighboring country- Philippines, I find Indonesia something much more like our country than other places abroad that I have visited before.

I see motorcycles all around, perhaps because of the heavy traffic there in Jakarta. I can't believe it is even worse than Manila. Oftentimes I wish I should've walked to my destination some 300 meters away instead of taking a ride. It took me almost 2 hours just waiting patiently on a taxi ride. I say I could've really enjoyed roaming around when the transportation system will be improved. 

Best tip for when traveling to Jakarta: always ride a Blue Bird taxi. It is a regulated group of taxis where you won't get overcharged or fooled around circles to get to your destination. Learn a bit of the Indonesian language as well for the locals are not very good in English. 

I like that Indonesia charges very little for a taxi ride. I heard it is because Indonesia is an oil producing country. Anyways, I think Indonesia is a very rich country. The malls are luxurious, they even have a mall dedicated just for selling Louis Vuitton products alone!
Jakarta, Indonesia

As mentioned above, I have been to Jakarta to attend the Asia Geospatial Forum. Our company bagged the Asia Geospatial Excellence Award 2014 and I am there to present our works.It was held at Hotel Mulia. From there I get to meet my graduate degree thesis adviser and I also get to meet a fellow Filipina who happens to be a consultant in Jakarta. Their presence made me enjoy my Jakarta Trip :)

Asia Geospatial Forum 2014 at Hotel Mulia
This is Sultan Hotel.This has been my home for my 5 days stay in Jakarta. It is a pretty old 5-star hotel but their staff is really great! I got a premier suite and the food inside the fridge is free. I get my food refreshed everytime they makeup my room. There is a fast internet inside my room so I get to work even before  I sleep :( Hahaha! No excuses! :)

The breakfast buffet offers a variety of Asian and American dishes. Indonesian food are much more like in our country so I get to enjoy their curry meals.Indonesian must have loved a variety of spices in their food that is why their meals are so tasty.
Sultan Hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia

Top 5 things I like about my Jakarta Trip.

  1. Hotel Mulia is grand and the food is very good. I love the bakery where really nice cakes are being displayed. Too bad we can't take photos. I love the giant Christmas Tree as well. 
  2. Sultan Hotel has fast interned connection. Food on the fridge is free. The place is quiet and the staff are very courteous.
  3. Blue Bird taxi drivers are very honest. They charge exactly and return the exact change. Some speak good English as well :)
  4. I learned that Muslims are really very dedicated to their praying time. It is the first Muslim country that I have visited. I learned how they are very serious in reminding people of their prayer time, even on malls, on television and when you're out on streets. I hope we Christians adopt that kind of dedication as well when it comes to our praying time :)
  5. Mi Goreng and Arabica Coffee! The supermarket offers very affordable prices for Coffee Beans! Yay! I just hoarded 8 packs of House Blend and Arabica. I had three months of reserved beans for my coffee maker. When I compute it was just like 150 pesos for 250 grams of ground and whole beans. Mi Goreng, their pansit canton in Indonesia, is so yummy and so affordable. I got it for like 8 pesos only and I also hoarded quite an amount :) Hihi! When I go to our supermarkets here in the Philippines it already priced 15 pesos. I still buy occasionally when I miss that sweet and spicy taste of Mi Goreng :)
All in all it was one lonesome but enjoyable 5-day trip that I would love to come back for more.(Except the traffic of course!) Props to the FX Mall as well where there is already a hotel integrated on the mall as well.    The view, the food and the shopping is great as well. I wish our booking agent has booked me there. No worries, there will always be a next time! :)

MEL meets Hong Kong

It was June 2014 when I get to experience Hong Kong! My stay there is too short, like 3 days and the 2 days I have spent inside a conference. I am one of the invited speakers for the GeoSmart Summit. From there I get to meet lots of professionals who venture into our field of interest/expertise i..e Geospatial technology. For the non-technical, we're the one who study and uses high level GPS receivers and integrates it in a more complicated but equally exciting database with mapping and analysis features known as GIS (Geographic Information System). 

Given that it is my first time to speak abroad with an audience as big as this, I am very anxious. It was only after my presentation that I get to relax and feel the Hong Kong fever! Hahah!
Asia Geospatial Summit 2014 at Langham Place Hong Kong

During our 3 day stay, this has been our home - the Langham Place Hotel!

It's nice because the conference is also being held within the same hotel. The food is really great and the room is very modern and cozy. The buffet breakfast has lots to offer and I just love their croissant!  My best out of the hotels that I get to stay and visit in Indonesia and Singapore.This Langham Place is also adjacent to a mall where the goods are pricey and  the food tastes like heaven. It was there where I get to try the Singaporean laksa that I really love. The restaurant is Papaya Pok Pok, I won't forget because the name is witty :). They have big servings for their meals which compensate for the price. I love it!

My room, I must love it really! There is wi-fi inside the room. Very good view from the window and the pool is just so inviting. I must also mention my see through bathroom glass.It was my first time to have a see-t-hrough bathroom but I must say, I just love it! I feel like this is perfect for couples on their honeymoon:) Hehhe!
Langham Place Hotel at Mongkok, Hong Kong

Since we just had a very limited time to stay, we've got the best of us roaming around the streets of Mongkok for some shopping! When we arrived there on a Sunday, we just love how the street is so busy at night! There are street performers and the spirit is just so high with lights blinking on the streets!

On a regular day, people are so busy as it was just near their Mongkok train station. With my paper street map, I battled the busy streets and alleys to find for affordable steals! I get to buy affordable pasalubong shirt at a nearby tiangge. I got something like 8 shirts for 100 hongkong dollars. Converting that would just be like 60 Philippine pesos each. That was such a steal! I also packed some big Dove shampoo and lotion thrift packs for just like 500 pesos. And perhaps the best part is when I get to purchase an Esprit bag for just like 2000 pesos because it is on sale in its outlet center. It's one trusty big black leather bag that costs more than 6k here in the Philippines. Wew!

For honey, I got him a brown leather Converse Chuck Taylor for just 2000 pesos as well. Yay! I swept the entire sports street and luckily, I found what I am looking for in a thrift shop there as it was on 60% discount! Double yehey! Honey was so happy as it was a rare find here and when we checked on the same design at the malls it is priced at more than 4000 pesos! What a steal again!

Next year we're planning to bring the children to Disneyland and we'll surely have another round of shopping adventure at Hong Kong!
Streets at Mongkok and the HongKong International Airport
From the streets of Mongkok to the HongKong International Airport, I am very sure that every tourist who's up for some real shopping experience would surely love it here!

Here are the  Top 5 things that I love about my HongKong trip.

  1. My stay at the Langham Place is really first class. The see-through bathroom is for the books! The food at the buffet breakfast is sumptuous and offers real variety. The croissant is love. The hotel staff is very courteous and my things are well taken cared of.
  2. The adjacent mall at Langham Place is just but an eye candy for expensive brands! The food is also pricey but the servings are very full. Must try their food court meals and you surely would have empty plates and bowls with a full stomach after a meal.
  3. The street entertainment on Sunday nights! I love how they can be so vulnerable and just play around the blinking street lights on a weekend. The lights are really festive and the music all around makes the shopping oh so lovely!
  4. The modern look of the Hong Kong International Airport. Very clean and lovely and modern. There are also affordable chips and snacks around for some shopping before boarding :) . In fact, when we roam around, we found a small stall selling affordable leather items for half the price here in our country! If you're still up for some shopping before riding the plane, board early and roam around for some extended shopping there at Hong Kong International Airport! 
  5. The shopping! Shopping! Shopping and SALE! Wuhoo! Getting really great discounts on quality brands is the one I just so love to have as a tourist in Hong Kong. My 2k EDC bag and 2k leather Chucks is what a steal! I should've had more time for shopping and I surely got some more. 
Summing it all up, I think a three day trip is just plain injusttice for the so many things that Hong Kong can offer. By the time we go to Disneyland, I will surely allot a few more days to go back to Mongkok to shop and lurk around and get some real bang for the bucks that I get to have during my first visit! :)

MEL meets Singapore

It was November 2013 when I got my first airplane ride. I met Merlion on my first step outside the Philippines. 

November 2013- MEL visits Singapore!

At age 27, I had my first airplane ride. Haha! I know right, I am so late for the journey. Nevertheless, better late than never! 

My first trip is a 5-day trip to Singapore. This is a business trip so I never had a hard time passing through the immigration. 

THE WALK AROUND SG TO MERLION PARK
It was on the second day that we get to roam around. It was also when I get to see the famous Merlion. You've never been to Singapore if you've never had a photo op with this Mermaid Lion at Merlion Park. Marina Bay is within view so you just have to take another photo op there! 

From our place at Orchard Road, we just took the brisk walk around to the Merlion Park.You get to see the beauty of Singapore by just walking around. I appreciate the very clean streets, tall buildings, fresh surroundings - a very modern and rich country so to speak!

Merlion Park, Marina Bay Sands and the Suntec City Fountain of Wealth
THE CARLTON HOTEL

From my room at the Carlton Hotel, I get a view of the Metropolis and it was such a sight to see! You'll know you're at the heart of a very rich city/country because of the view of those buildings that stand tall on piles of colorful lights by the hotel window. Raffles City is just outside our hotel along Orchard Rd.
Singapore by Day and Night as viewed from my Room at Carlton
This is my hotel room at Carlton. I've got a double bed but I am actually alone. It was the only room available by that time so they got me booked here. Since I stayed here for 5 days, I slept alternately on my two beds just for fun! :) The room is already big for a single person and the amenities are commendable. One haggle through is that the W-Fi on the room is not free. You have to go to the lobby for free Wi-Fi or you have to pay for extra charge to have your room connected.
My home for 5 days at Carlton Hotel, Singapore
Since there is no Wi-Fi in the room, I never opted to pay for extra charge so I just took it as a chance to lurk around the lobby and see its great interiors and exterior as well as the busy guests that comes in and out of the hotel. The couches on the lobby are very comfy so staying there is more of a relaxing experience as well!

From the hotel door you get to see really luxurious cars arriving here and there. For us we took a Toyota Prius as a ride from Changi Airport. Maserati and Porsche are just a common view in Sg! I heard it's quite expensive to acquire a car in Singapore that of which explains why there are really high end cars just around the corner because owning a car in SG is more of like for the rich of the rich!

Carlton Hotel Interiors and Exteriors
THE ESRI ASIA PACIFIC USER CONFERENCE 2013

It was my first time to join a region-wide User Conference. For 2013, it was held at the Suntec Convention Center at Singapore. I learned a lot and met lots of professionals within my field. I love to join them as a delegate and I love to really discover how our field has much more to offer than just maps! I am so looking forward to discovering more at the future User Conferences. :) Hopefully, I get to visit ESRI's main office at Redlands Califrornia and join the International User Conference as San Diego as well.

ESRI Founder Jack Dangermond and the Delegates of the 2013 ESRI Asia Pacific User Conference

AROUND SINGAPORE

On my last day of stay in SG, I took it as a time to just roam around the city by walking. I love that I get to see these structures that seems to be so old but are preserved within the busy streets of Singapore. From our place at Orchard Road, I took the walk to their Parliament and some Art Museums around. The Fullerton Hotel and the Bridge is just iconic.The parks are so clean with just a few people around in the mornings. I know there are so many fines in Singapore so I am very careful of being charged of fines as I roam around.

From my observation, the people here in Singapore are so busy for work. Few people on the park and streets, few people on the mall and cafe during mornings. Very different from what we have here in the Philippines where people are jampacked all around may it be day or night!
Singapore Parliament, Museum and the Fullerton Hotel

Just so cars are so expensive to own, the public transportation in Singapore is already sufficient as I may say. The people are so wary on Bus Stops and the subways are just as commendable!

Of course, we can't leave Singapore without shopping and buying pasalubongs! There is the Funan Digital Mall for the technology savvy.Raffles City for the eye candy expensive finds. Now if you're up looking for Hawker Foods and affordable Pasalubongs, there's a lot along Pearl Street where affordable trinkets can be bought. We got some souvenir bags, shirts, key chains and other novelty items for like 100 pesos each. The price for these goes triple or even more at Changi Airport so better grab a lot from these thrift shops before heading the airport. How's that?

Shopping around Funan Digital Mall, Raffles City and Singapore Souvenirs at Peal Street with Hawker's Food


THE AIRPORT and THE AIRLINES

I was also very lucky to board via Singapore Airlines. I've read that it is one of the best airlines around so I am just so happy to be on board with them! The food is very good and the amenities are really thumbs up. I got an economy ticket but based on the other airlines that I have taken, this one is much more like a Business Class treatment for an Economy Class passenger. I must love Singapore Airlines that is why when I went to Indonesia the next year, I just opted to take the Singapore Airlines route MLA-SG then SG-Jakarta.

Changi Airport is just so BEST! The amenities are great, the Duty Free shopping is first class and the stay inside it is already a tourist experience for the books! Kudos to a very high customer satisfaction rating that I just have to give to Changi Airport! How I wish we just have the same amenities as that of Changi here in the Philippines :)
The Prius Ride, Singapore Airlines by Changi Airport in Singapore

My first airplane ride and my first trip abroad is just fun-filled amidst the fact that I am missing the kids and honey back home. It was one for some me time and reflection and the much coveted rest after the hustles and the bustles of the busy days at work.

Here are the Top 5 Things that I love about my Singapore trip.

  1. Changi Airport and Singapore Airlines is a tourist spot in itself. I love that I was being taken cared of really well during my Singapore Airlines flight (s). The airport in itself as well as real taker for their pampering amenities and great sights to see and shop! 
  2. The Carlton Hotel for the very accommodating staff and the great food at the buffet. They offer a variety of meals everyday so I did get to enjoy my daily breakfasts during my 5 days stay. 
  3. The Merlion Park is just as busy and the view around is really a tourist photo op attraction. I am glad to see some boat within the lake, the busy highways, the Marina Bay Sands and the very clean walkways that I just wish to happen too here in our country. Kahit sa Metro Manila lang muna! :
  4. The Suntec Convention Center. It was one modern mall with I guess that largest LCD Display in the world. We get to shop around after the conference and do some lurk around the park where the Suntec Fountain of Wealth is. It was walking distance from our hotel so we don't mind staying late. The streets are safe so we have no worries too!
  5. The Singapore Souvenirs, thrift shops and Hawker's Place! Hawker foods are affordable, good to the taste and clean. It is our break from the first class food from the buffet breakfast at the hotel and along Suntec Convention Center. These hawker foods offer more of like the real Singapore culture. A must try! On the side are some thrift shops where you can go get affordable pasalubongs that the loved ones back home would surely love.:)
Thats's all and I hope I get to touch Singapore grounds again for I know I missed some fun at the Sentosa and the Night Safari. Will definitely go back to Singapore for MORE!