Pekanbaru, Indonesia

Hazeeq stepping out of the plane like a child star

Hazeeq stepping out of the plane like a child star

I got back from my 4D3N trip from Pekanbaru some time ago and colleagues were asking,

How was Pekanbaru?

We were  small group of 5 people. Our little family of 3 including my parents in law. I have to be honest – not much to shout about unless one is planning for a trip to Bukit Tinggi. There were only 3 highlights of the trip

  • Amaris Hotel
  • Pitek Lanang
  • Masjid Besar

I sound like a miserable traveller already.

AMARIS HOTEL PEKANBARU

There couldn’t be a better hotel like Amaris. We were very grateful for the early check-in. And more thankful for the offer of a late check-out. Amaris seems busy this week – catering to meetings and small workshops. A lot of corporate clients appears really important walking through the front door.

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Our non smoking room has a comfortable King size bed, a small TV with only one particular channel we understand and enjoy which is HBO, complimentary drinking water, water dispenser (hot & cold) just outside our room at the corner of the stairs, cooling air conditioning and a decent view.

We don’t have a mini fridge – but it’s okay. Although we have a water dispenser, sometimes the water seems to run out. Thank God I brought a mini thermos so Hazeeq could still have his milk at a good temperature.

Breakfast selection was commendable – I loved the coffee and the fried rice a lot. Hazeeq on the other hand loved the keropok and juice.

PITEK LANANG

This was the restaurant situated just outside our hotel opposite the small road. We had our main meals there almost everyday. If not for lunch, then for dinner. They have both Western and Indonesian cuisine. I loved its pecel lele the most. ONce I got bored of having white rice, I ordered its nasi goreng. It did not taste like the ones we had in Malaysia. They were in fact very rempah-y.

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We did try the special Murtabak and Sate Padang at another warung – that too tasted weird. Edible and interesting but weird to the palate.

MASJID BESAR

Like I’ve mentioned earlier, there is not much to do at Pekanbaru. It’s good for elderly tourist because you get to walk slowly and soak in the experience of being in a foreign country without having to rush for its public transport and such. Shopping was biasa. We did went to the Ramayana store but was fooled into thinking that we could get a discount. It did not display properly that only those with store cards get discount on merchandise. Sgtlah sik transparent.

Despite that, going to it’s Masjid Besar was WOW.

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Perhaps I haven’t been to a big masjid for quite some time – I thought it was interesting to have a huge area within the masjid compound that allows the public to come by and exercise (riadah) in the evenings. In a way, people would not have the idea that masjid is only for praying. Instead, a place where human beings from all walks of life regardless muslim or not can gather at the area as a community and a family. That we learn to perform riadah in a respectable way yet still being able to achieve one’s goals of either burning calories or just keeping fit.

Although our daily schedule involved a lot of eating and lazing around, both my in-laws were happy. Eventhough they had to visit a miserable museum as well. Ha ha. Seeing them enjoying the short trip was enough to make us happy too. But perhaps we’ll choose a better destination next time. With also cheap tickets from Air Asia.

4 days in pekanbaru? too long.. he he

Yogyakarta : Food And Ole – Ole

To be honest, after the 2nd day I can’t palate another Indonesian dish. I was craving for spaghetti or something cheesy instead.

Mr Husband seems to love its food. He had Lontong, Kueytiew Ala cina, Nasi Daging and such. I could only stomach the Nasi Penyek whole heartedly as it was a familiar taste. The rest of the cuisine was just too spicy for my liking. We did however splurge on their snacks and brought back loads of interesting tidbits as ole-ole (souvenirs). You could try bringing back home its delicious brownies, their local chocolate confectionary branded as MONGGO, bakpia, fruit cake, kerepek pisang sale (pronounced as sah-ley), Good Day instant coffee and of course Indonesia’s pride.. teh kotak or teh botol.

I drank the teh kotak till I pee-d the clear colour of pure spring water. That’s how much I loved it.

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Overall, it was a pleasant and safe trip. We enjoyed it very much. We did not suffer from any food poisoning nor were we at the edge of getting mugged. We did however exceeded our hand luggage 7kg limit and had to ‘rearrange’ a few things in the bag.

Our HotelThe 1-day tour ⌉ Taman Sari & Malioboro ⌉

Yogyakarta Day 2

Day 2 was Free and Easy. We went to 2 places. This was on a Monday.

To be honest I think Taman Sari is officially closed for some official ceremony but the guy manning the place was more than willing to bring this family from Malaysia for a mini tour around the area. I say so because we did not buy any official ticket at an official booth nor did we have to get a camera pass like the ones they talk about in blogs.

Anyway, we were grateful for the personalized tour. Even if the guy lied about the history of the place we’d just swallow it whole like a kindie kid. In truth, he did not lie. Instead his face glows as he tells the story of the place.

Taman Sari is interesting and one could easily get lost within the many spiraling and small streets. This place was once a place for the sultan to rest and play. Now, the compound is inhabited by the locals who are helping to preserve the taman  for tourism purposes. So to get to the bath house you’ll have to pass through a housing lane and to get to the underground mosque you have to use the neighbours staircase.. things like that. A palace within the commoners. So don’t be a Scrooge and just pay for a tourist guide.

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It’s a very smart and practical place to begin with. And they used a lot of natural influences in building and running the palace. For instance, the king has two beds in his room. One had running water underneath the ‘mattress planks’ for cold conditioning and if its gets to freezing temp, he’ll move to the other bed where there are hot ashes underneath the planks.

We wanted to continue with a visit to Kraton. But it was also closed for an official event. So we got on a beca and headed to Malioboro – a shopping destination.

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Malaysians just like our Indonesian cousins are obsessed with clothes and batik and such.

We bought memorabilia items like T shirts and keychains. A few batik -like outfits for Hazeeq and his cousins as well. Mr Husband enjoyed haggling for the best price. So I let him do the talking.

We did not rush but once again it rained towards the later half of the day. This time no room service but Mr Husband bought kebabs and tidbits for supper.

Our Hotel ⌉  The 1-Day Tour Food & Ole-Ole ⌉

Yogyakarta : Day 1

We hired a supir for 12 hours but ended up finishing our excursion in less than 10 hours because Hazeeq was getting cranky from the Avanza ride. Our Supir’s name was Fitrah. He was a sub for the original supir Arnaaz, a nice fella we met at the airport. Arnaz was actually our taxi driver from the airport to the hotel.

This was the plan for the day : Candi Borobudur → Gunung Merapi → Candi Prambanan

Candi Borobudur

Foreigner : IDR 250K/pax

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With such extravagant fee, we had a complimentary 330mls of bottled water each. I was in awe of the architecture of the place and the surroundings. Never have I seen a place so at peace with nature befitting its role as a place for worship. Eventhough I am a Muslim and this place is best known for its Buddha practices, I still wish that some visitors would be more respectful towards it. I hate how some would freely climb onto the sacred structures or out of habit clear their throats on the wonderful green grass. Like, helloooo..

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We spent just an hour at the place as the place was getting hotter by the hour with the crowd of people piling in.

Gunung Merapi

General entrance fee : IDR6K/pax

Jeep ride : depend on chosen route

We had doubts on whether Hazeeq would enjoy the jeep ride. We chose the shortest route which was still a 1.5 hour journey that cost IDR 300K per jeep. I wouldn’t recommend this jeep ride to pregnant mothers, elderly with bone and joint problems, a heart condition, severe asthmatic sufferers or those with anxiety attacks.

Hazeeq loved the bumpy rocky ride.

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We also had an overly enthusiastic jeep driver who even directed certain photograph poses for us. We couldn’t help noticing that slight irritated tone when Mr Husband can’t seem to follow his instructions on how to pose. Ha ha ha.

Candi Prambanan

Fee : IDR 20K/pax

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We wanted to pay the foreigner fee (very honest tourist we are) but was ushered to the local’s ticketing office instead. So we were like, ‘okay…. ‘. We got in with a local price and again I was struck by its magnificence. A Hindu temple in almost ruins during the earthquake.

The walk around this candi was quicker as there were less space to cover. We spent more time on lunch and feeding the deers. Even Fitrah, our supir was surprised at how fast we finished the trip. He even offered to take us to one more place to finish the 12 hours as promised. We declined. We needed to rest. Hazeeq needed a nap before he morphs into Hulk.

On our way back o the hotel it rained. So dinner was again, room service. I have to say it was an exhausting 10 hours especially when you’re bringing a 3 year old. Cause sometimes he just refuses to walk and you’re stuck in having to carry him or it could be the complete opposite when Hazeeq would be like this crazy energizer bunny and wouldn’t stop running.

So be advised to have breakfast before even starting the trip and have your lunches promptly. Feed the little monster in good intervals and wear comfortable footwear. Bring a hat. Bring a paper fan. Prepare small change for snacks and water.

Our Hotel ⌉ Taman Sari & Malioboro ⌉ Food & Ole Ole ⌉

Yogyakarta : Cakrakusuma Hotel, Jalan Kaliuran

RM 559.56 . That was the cost for our trip – A return flight ticket from KLIA2 to Yogyakarta for 2 adults and 1 child plus a 4D3N stay at Cakra Kusuma Hotel. Minus shopping and touring money of course.

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I was pleasantly surprised with this hotel. It was rated as a 3 star hotel but hey.. it was worth all the money we paid for. What was important was not only the cleanliness but the kind hospitality they offered to my kid. It was like a small resort in its own world. At one time you’re on the busy streets of Yogya and once you’re in the facility, you’re like in a different place. Very cooling and relaxing.

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There were a few setbacks:

We had to weather the rain to get to our rooms situated further back from the roofed reception. Especially now when its sunny during the first half of the day and like a meteorological expert – we can predict the rain to pour by 3PM everyday. Thank god for in-house umbrellas.

There was no fridge in the room. We had a leaking sink and the walls were not soundproof.

But they compensated well:

Hot showers, daily complimentary bottled water and beverages, free basic toiletries, a resourceful reception and fine room service dining. At least we can still experience Indonesian cuisine within the comfort of our own room especially when it rains during dinnertime. We enjoyed the Free WIFI most, so Mr Husband could VIBER his parents back home and upload the pictures on FaceBook.

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Would I stay at this hotel again? A definite yes.

The 1-Day Tour ⌉  Taman Sari & Malioboro ⌉ Food & Ole-Ole ⌉