One recent jaunt out for a quick Cuti Cuti Malaysia, brought is to Batang Kali for a spot of glamping… wilderness, outdoor fun for the family, in the heart of one of the most lush and pristine orchards in Selangor, Dusun Bonda.
The name Dusun Bonda (Mother’s Orchard) is the brain-child of Azura, and came from her simple idea of wanting to create great childhood memories for her daughter. She converted their fruit orchard into a modern, landscaped getaway for city folk wishing to enjoy the great outdoors and camping lifestyle, minus the hardship. Thus glamping – a more glamorous side to camping complete with amenities and almost resort-style services. A mere 1 hour for KL, it’s relatively easy to get to, especially on the weekends. Good service, all the meals provided (at a cost of course) fully functional kitchen, air-conditioning as well as hot water for the showers. Only thing missing was the wifi.
Deceptively peaceful and serene, one would almost have not recalled, the horrors that had occurred here, to put this small sleepy town of Batang Kali on the map. In 1948 the brief post-War dominance of the Communist Party of Malaya was clearly at odds with the desire of the British authorities to reclaim a territory whose raw materials would help rebuild Britain itself.
By 1948, this had erupted into an undeclared war that would be waged until 1960. British forces sought to subdue the Communists, who had gained a degree of popularity for their resistance towards the Japanese. It was against this backdrop that the 7th Platoon of G Company, of the second battalion of Scots Guards unit of the British Army, belied its centuries-long reputation for honour. On Dec 12, 1948, under the leadership of Sgt Charles Douglas, the Guards surrounded a rubber estate near Batang Kali, Selangor. Looking for Communist guerillas who habitually moved in and out of the local population, they shot and killed 24 ethnic Chinese villagers before razing the village. According to them the Scots Guards had separated the men to be interrogated before the situation turned into a rampage of indiscriminate shooting. In the end, and 60+ odd years later, justice was served, when the the case against the soldiers was heard in the British courts – judges blame Britain over Malaya massacre. Too much too late. Though the court sided with the arguement that it was absolutely clear that those at Batang Kali and those who were killed were civilians, this verdict came more that 60 years too late.
Back to present day life.. you can’t dispute the fact as to why the natural resources of Malaysia (Malaya then) are such a point of envy for any other country. We have everything. I’m just glad that my toddler is able to still enjoy the great outdoors with me and hubs, in surroundings as lush as it was 60 odd years ago.
“can I go down to play yet??”
home away from home. Wow mummy, it even has airconditioning!
“this tent is way bigger than the play tent at home, mom!”
THREE queen beds fit in here. Super luxurious!
A pool with it’s natural source of water
beware the freeze!
strolling to lunch…
“why no wifi, mom?? ”
Hearty home-cooked Kampung food!
Masakan dusun… that killer tasty appetite opener called Tempoyak (condiment made from fermented durian & cili padi) Rich, cococnut cream based Chicken curry – ayam masak lemak cili padi, Sambal Ikan (fish) kembung goreng, fried Omelette, vegetable soup, ulam-ulam (raw veggies) and rice eaten with explosively spicy sambal belacan. Major sweat fest!!
Option for Villa style stay as well. The biggest Glamping tent (bell tent) is going for approximately RM750 per night, and the Villa’s at RM800 per night weekend rate, (check in IG stories for 15% discount on your bookings, valid till Oct 2019). All rooms come with complimentary breakfast. They throw in a BBQ dinner for free, as well as an”Eat all you can durian session” on the house. If you are a massive durian fan then this would be for you:)
Out exploring Ulu Yam Lama, Batang Kali.
The best things in life are free.. like this swing!
Definitely worth a visit or two annually. We will be back:)
Add: Lot 2121,Jalan Ulu Tamu 44300 Batang Kali 012-663 3667 www.dusunbonda.com
Never ever having been a fan, of wet, sweet fried yellow noodles, it takes a lot for me to order, the Penang style Mee Goreng Sotong.
Well, this coffee shop is fairly new to the SS2 hood, and I was feeling particularly pragmatic one afternoon. Throwing caution to the wind, I ordered it. Hoping that this signature Penang dish would do justice to its name, I dug into the orange mound of glittering grease before me.
Sambal squid cooked separately, lends its crimson florescence hue the the mee goreng.
As it turned out, I still can’t fathom this dish. Mee goreng served with potatoes, tofu and fritters, sotong sauce, topped with crispy fried baby shallots & raw sliced iceberg lettuce, perhaps marred only by the overly sickly sweet squid, served tough and chewy slathered in a sambal sauce sweetness that most Penangites would appreciate.
One massive slurry of pungent belacan-y sweetness that’s memorable the way a nightmare keeps coming back to haunt a child at bedtime.
Now, will the real Robert, please stand up.
Folks of PJ know that Robert Char Kwey Teow (CKT) needs no intro…
So be it Robert, or family member, this oldie is still a goodie.
We were in fact, happy to see that, Sunny, our wok noodle frying maestro under the Robert CKT banner (we loved his Char Kwey Toew in Sec17, then followed him to SS2 Wai Sek Kai, where he delved into a short Mee Rebus stint) was now here, serving it up, smoky, greasy & with a whole load of Char Kwey Teow, wok-hei kick.
Also decided to try out the Siew Yoke(BBQ pork) Curry Mee. Full marks for the Siew Yoke, perhaps 60% for the curry broth which needed more santan.
I dug into my CKT and Curry Laksa happily and passed the crimson sotong mess over to hubby.
Been there, done that. Next.
No: 95, Jalan SS 2/6, Taman Bahagia,
47300 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Every now and then, I get this massive hankering for Vietnamese.
Not every place does a good bowl of Bún Thịt Nướng – a knock-out carbo-heavyweight, tempered with a lethal, zippy right hand of explosive herbs, interlaced with a fast shuffle of fatty decadent pork bits and porcine matter. Balance & precision count and this place has all that. At super affordable prices too.
Bún Thịt Nướng .. nubs of pork grilled to caramelized sweetness, on a tangle of cool rice noodles, shredded lettuce and fresh crunchy herbs. Only SEVEN bucks. What do you pay in the more fancy restaurants again.. ?! My memory fails me. Too much I expect. Way too much.
‘Giò Heo’ which translates to pig’s hock or trotter.. They didn’t have the trotter that day but it was fatty enough for me. Pork belly, pork balls, pork mince, pork liver .. you get the drill.
This bihun dish was busting out of its fatty socks with basil, mint leaves, spring onions.. soooo fresh and green tasting it almost made you forget about the lard laced pork soup for a bit. Also 7 bucks.
Gorgeous curly Vietnamese rice noodles sprinkled with a rainbow of colours thanks to pungent edibles, that are built layer by layer.
Lining the bottom of the bowl are crunchy lettuce leaves, bean sprouts, carrot, mint and slivers of cucumber. Then come a central body of essential white carbs, a solid base for a nice charred protein top.. the grilled, juicy pork seasoned with a refreshing lemongrass marinade is to die for. .. And then the final crown of glistening nuoc cham, a light, tangy dressing made with fermented fish sauce, lime juice, sugar and chilies that unifies them all.
This goes crazy good with a spicy bean sauce. Not counting calories here. Or ever.
Mayang Oasis Food Court
Jalan SS 26/9, Taman Mayang Jaya, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
And definitely not more decadent than the Boston Lobster Fettuccine!
Whole Boston Lobster Fettucine
Seafood lovers, get your forks & bibs ready… this pasta dish is divine! Definitely worth sharing… picture succulent Lobster Fettuccine, topped with a medley of tiger prawns, squids and vongole. Be sure to get your fingers dirty… & don’t wear white ( like I did! haha)
YUMZZZZ… crazy good!
Super Supreme Calzone
Redefining the traditional Calzone, Positano Risto’s is an open faced, thin crusted version of the classic. It has 8 pockets of handcrafted pockets filled with mushrooms and beef pastrami, topped with homemade tomato sauce, mozzarella, turkey ham, beef pepperoni. Great for sharing.
Wild Mushroom Soup – smooth and rich but a little salty
Arancini Balls tasted too bland. Char-grilled Calamari with Herbs – tasty but too heavy on the salt.
Positano Grain-fed Beef Burger with Maroon 6 and Sky Walker cocktails. Liked the messy double patty burger but a bit too much tendon.
Signature Short Rib – not quite fall of the bone tenderness and the sauce was on the sweet side.
Grilled salmon from the kids menu. Would have preferred if they made fresh mash potato versus the instant stuff
This Ice Cream Brioche is pretty as a picture… melts away into decadent yumminess…
The mention of ‘Positano’ to an Italian will probably suggests the well-known beach holiday destination on the Amalfi Coast in Italy. Here in Publika, Positano Risto offers no beach-side views but is more a casual family dining venue with Italian-style offerings than a real Italian restaurant. It’s also a halal joint with no alcoholic beverages (Boo Hoo!). Kids can be kept preoccupied with coloring pencils and paper.
Positano Risto @ Publika
Block C1, Level G3, Lot 2 Publika Shopping Gallery
However, if you are as dedicated to the eaux-de-vie as Marc Boissonnet, then of course you are going to always side with Cognac.
A recent visit by Marc Boissonnet, Ambassador of Hennessy Cognac to KL also meant we would soon have the pleasure of his company at a cognac food pairing event at Skillet KL.
During the dinner, Boissonnet shared his views on the dynamic Hennessy Maison and spoke of the House’s values of savoir-faire, innovation & creation. Boissonnet also spoke passionately about Hennessy X.O, the emblematic icon of the House of Hennessy, which was the main highlight of the evening. The term X.O was coined for this very Cognac by Maurice Hennessy in the 19th century, and it was first bottled in 1870 for family and friends… Extra Old.. Good lord.. heaven forbid they describe a woman that way:P Anyways, this blend was composed of over 100 eaux-de-vie, forming a uniquely satisfying character, robust and rich with incredible persistence. So, just like a matured woman.. you could say that it remains unchanged since its creation, yet never ceases to surprise the connoisseur, to whom it reveals more of its multiple facets each time it’s experiences.. well just like a woman.
To celebrate this fascinating occasion, the team at Skillet@163 curated a special degustation menu to accompany Hennessy’s line of exclusive cognacs:
First a couple of rounds of canapes to set the mood…. paired with the Hennessy Highball
So what exactly, was THE FOLE ? The words puzzled us.
On one of our lunch jaunts several weeks back, one of the banners hanging on a fence and roof of an old building in the residential side in old Ampang town caught our eye.
The images on the banner depicted Fine Western Cuisine but the venue was a roadside shack not far off from the Nine Emperor Gods Temple, a place of Taoist worship where once a year, on the eve of 9th lunar month of the Chinese calendar, a nine-day long festival is held with rituals of fire-walking, food offerings, prayer chants, spirit possessions, and body piercings.
Seabass with grilled pepper sauce – RM18.80
So anyway, with ‘The Fole’ in mind, we made it a point to return at dusk (operating hours) to find out what the place was all about. Well we had dinner there once, and then again, .. and again. And after several visits & tasting different dishes, we can say for certain this is THE BEST discovery of 2019 so far.
Barely a month old, The Fole is a western food stall inside the Sek Ka Restaurant offering very affordable, tasty western food in immensely hearty portions. Their cooking is not your regular ‘hawker-style western food in a kopitiam’ sort, as we experienced. There is quality in their dishes, for the prices they charge. For example, they make fresh thick cut fries instead of frozen crinkle fries, and the mushroom soup is freshly made instead of from the can. Their menu offers choices of chicken, pork, lamb, fish and pasta dishes. Everything was great except for the lamb (this was just average as a wee bit too much fat and tendons). Apart from that, it was mostly good.
Fish & Chips – RM17.80
Grilled Pork Chop -RM15
Grilled Lamb shoulder – RM23.00
Cheesy Bacon Chicken Chop
Also, we uncovered that, The Fole wasn’t the only good thing there. The chinese ‘small stir-fry’ (xiao chao) stall right next to it cooks up a really tasty, bountiful Yang Chow Fried Rice and Fried Hokkien Mee with plenty of ‘wok-hei’. Their signature Kung Pao Fried Ramen was mediocre though. So, in light of this, dinner here, with the older generation, whose taste buds have not evolved from traditional Chinese food won’t be a problem at all. Enough of variety for everybody.
Most awesome fried rice here.. best thing since sliced bread!
mediocre fried ramen
In summary, Sek Ka is a great destination for a family outing to have hearty western dishes at affordable prices. And if any member of your party prefers non-western cuisine, the Chinese stall offers enough to appease any south east asian tummy.
The Fole operates about 6pm til late and closed Thursdays. Check it out.
The Fole Western Cuisine
T15A, Jalan 3, Kampung Baru Ampang, 68000 Ampang,
Phone: 012-902 9688
Me and a couple of my close travel buddies where just discussing this the other day… “How indeed the face of travel has changed, in the past 10 years”.
Let me see… in the past decade or so, the power of collective knowledge has been the formidable force behind how we think about and experience travel. We now document on the world wide web, plainly for folks we don’t even know, to see, notes and tips about places, people, and, yes, especially problems, all for the benefit of strangers that will visit after we do.
There has also been a huge shift in accessibility of travel – you just need to look at the annual numbers of people now criss-crossing the globe to know this is true. Rather than a luxury enjoyed by few, travel is now a given right, and everyone travels… starting at a much younger age. Nomadic travel has exploded – no more burdensome ties to long term mortgages, or slogging 2 jobs, to pay off expensive assets.. just me, my bag and my skills setting up home any place I like, and working from where I choose, with anyone who will hire me.
But one things for sure, the more uncertain the travel lifestyle, the more important the certainty of travel medical insurance should be. Should any ill tidings befall you in a foreign land, you need to be certain that you are well taken care of.
Well to put it plainly in a nutshell, it is one of the best value for money, travel medical insurance plan on the planet, I kid you not.
SafetyWing is the World’s First Travel Medical Insurance founded by Norwegian Digital Nomads and is designed for Digital Nomads and available for purchase in 180 countries worldwide. It is specially designed to meet the medical, travel and lifestyle disruption needs faced by Digital Nomads and other remote workers while they are outside of their home country. It is a Y-Combinator company and the policy is administered by Tokio Marine which is one of the largest insurance companies in the world.
Well more importantly it’s also super affordable.. ie. its base rate is $37/4 weeks (higher if your travels include the US), and has a medical insurance plan with impressive emergency medical and dental coverage, $3,000 of lost luggage coverage and a $250,000 maximum limit.
SafetyWing covers unexpected illnesses and injuries sustained abroad, including expenses for hospitals, doctors and prescription drugs. It also covers emergency travel-related benefits such as emergency medical evacuation, emergency dental treatment, travel delay/interruption and lost luggage. It even offers coverage in your home country, perfect for the frequent traveler who still likes to visit home once in a while. Americans get 15 days of home country coverage for every 90 days of their policy, while everyone else gets 30 days of home country coverage for every 90 days of their policy.
SafetyWing’s policy excludes the same things as just about every other travel medical insurance policy: cancer treatment, pre-existing conditions (though it does include the acute onset of those pre-existing conditions) and routine check-ups.
So why is it so affordable?
Their $37/4 weeks plan is due to the fact that, they have less overheads. SafetyWing believes in building a global safety net that offers a worldwide travel medical insurance tailored to the needs of online freelancers and entrepreneurs.
SafetyWing cuts out the middlemen by eliminating agents and selling insurance directly to the consumer.
A focus on fairness
If even one customer bills their cancer treatments to SafetyWing at $10,000 a pop, that means every other customer has to pay for them through higher fees. SafetyWing avoids this cost asymmetry by excluding high-cost, highly specific items like cancer treatment from its policy entirely, while still providing coverage for the acute onset of pre-existing conditions
The Ideal SafetyWing User…
If you meet these three criteria, SafetyWing is built specifically for you:
You can definitely still be an American citizen as long as most of your travels in a given year take place outside of the United States, otherwise, the insurance policy will be more expensive. However, still affordable compared to other insurance providers.
Travel without expensive equipment
You don’t travel with lots of expensive equipment. By expensive equipment, I don’t mean a MacBook, an iPhone and some Bose noise-cancelling headphones (you definitely need those gadgets as a digital nomad) — these are exactly the type of people SafetyWing is built for. I’m talking about top-of-the-line photography equipment, professional-grade drones and other electronics worth $5,000 or more per piece.
Not a Hell-Raising, Risk-Taking, Adrenaline Junkie
Surfing or Rock climbing doesn’t quite cut it—those are all covered by SafetyWing, don’t worry! I’m talking about seriously dangerous sports such as, people that are heli-skiing, base-jumping or basically anything that involves throwing yourself off cliffs of high places. See page 19 of SafetyWing’s policy for a full list of sports and activities they don’t cover (if you don’t consider yourself a true thrill seeker, you probably don’t need to read the list).
1) Who can purchase Travel Medical Insurance from SafetyWing?
You can be covered with SafetyWing from 18 to 69 years of age. Per adult, one young child between the age of 14 days and 10 years old can be included on the insurance without added cost. There is a limit to two children per family.
Although the product is designed to meet the unique needs of Digital Nomads, Remote Workers and Freelancers, others can buy or be covered by the insurance too. SafetyWing can be purchased in 180 countries around the world, unless your home country is Iran, North Korea or Cuba.
2) What Does Home Country Coverage Mean?
If your Home Country is the United States, you are covered for up to 15 days in the U.S. for each 90 days that you are covered. For other countries, you are covered for 30 days for each 90 days of coverage.
3) How do I find a Legit Medical Provider?
Simply login to SafetyWing.com and select “find hospital or doctor” from the menu to search for a provider close to your location. They have a worldwide network of qualified doctors, specialists and hospitals. However, it is not necessary to use their network of doctors and hospitals, you can go to any doctor of your choice.
4) What do I do when I get to the hospital?
For the hospitals and doctors in their network, direct billing is sometimes an option (for bigger sums only), with the medical office submitting the bills directly.
After any doctor’s visit, you will need to submit a claim and give detail of what has happened as well as provide copies of your bill and payment receipts from the doctor.
5) Who do I call in case of an emergency?
For those in the US, simply call 911 and for those in other countries contact an ambulance or the local emergency phone number for that country. For claims, a doctor referral or other issues concerning your coverage, contact Tokio Marine HCC-MIS Group: Inside the U.S.A. call 1-(800) 605-2282 Outside the U.S.A – you can check their website for tollfree numbers.
Finally.. who should get SafetyWing…
1. Digital nomads and frequent travelers who plan on spending a large amount outside their home country annually travelling the world.
2. Expats living abroad
3. Foreign workers living and working in another country
And why should you put your faith in SafetyWing?
SafetyWing took part in the Winter 2018 cohort of Y Combinator, the Silicon Valley-based startup accelerator that’s known to be the best in the world. That means they’re joining the likes of Airbnb, Dropbox and Reddit as Y Combinator graduate companies.
On top of the Y Combinator blessing, SafetyWing has also raised about $500,000 from investors like NordicVest Angels, the Norwegian Investment Authority and other individual investors. Their founders do hail from Norway, after all.
On the insurance side, SafetyWing has hired senior insurance experts with 30+ years of industry experience to set up their plans. They’ve partnered with the worldwide insurance giant Tokio Marine for all of their plans.
So based on these points, I’d say SafetyWing is one of the best options for travel and medical insurance plans for Nomads! Do yourselves a favour and get covered asap!
Long weekends, long lunches.. with long flutes of champagne of course:)
Bubbly yumminess, over exquisite dishes… the Sunday Bubbly Brunch at Four Seasons Hotel Kuala Lumpur is one to lock down in your calendars.
Held at Curate, this exhilarating event brings together incredible food, drinks and entertainment – an ideal way to enjoy the afternoon with family and friends.
Guests can savour a range of dishes at the lavish buffet – from local favourites, to Western brunch classics, to Four Seasons specialties.. Executive Chef Junious and his team, has the afternoon all planned out for you.
In true Four Seasons fashion, the buffet stations are LIT. With the finest seafood and meats on the menu, top recommendations include the Ikan Bakar (Malaysian-style grilled fish), Roasted Whole Lamb & Prime Rib, and Chef Junious’ Chicken & Waffles.
A mouth-watering spread of chilled seafood also awaits, featuring fresh Boston lobster, extra large Alaskan king crab and sumptuous oysters from New Zealand. Not to mention the local artisanal cheese, crafted especially for Four Seasons Hotel Kuala Lumpur – blending classic European cheese making techniques with local Malaysian flavours, selections such as Cili Padi and Sarawak Black Pepper, are a pleasant surprise from the norm.
Guests can indulge in endless varieties of champagne or sample specially-crafted cocktails at the Bar Trigona Pop-Up – available now at the Sunday Brunch. Head Bartender Ashish Sharma uses sustainable ingredients and distinctive techniques to create his cocktails. Look out for the unique flavours of their Trigona honey, made in small batches for Curate, by local producers.
While the adults embark on a sparkling culinary adventure, there is also plenty to keep the kids amused. A live magician enthrals young diners with an interactive show, while a balloon artist amuses my kiddo for hours on end;) All in all, the Sunday Bubbly Brunch promises a delicious, fun-filled afternoon for the entire family.
The Sunday Bubbly Brunch is served at Curate every Sunday, from 12.00 pm to 3.00 pm. It is priced at RM 210 per adult for brunch only, RM 348 per adult with free flow cocktails and wine (with one glass of welcome champagne), and RM 488 per adult with free flow champagne. Kids age 5 and older eat and drink for RM 105. All prices are nett inclusive of prevailing taxes. More info on the website or call this no. +603 2382 8888
Its been 3 years since we first visited Banyuwangi. With a direct 3-hour flight from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), we were invited to check out what is touted to be the newest and best hotel in Banyuwangi, Dialoog Banyuwangi.
Be warned the new international terminal is small. The airline baggage, customs and immigration staff isn’t quite ready for the arrivals and it is not a speedy checkout as we discovered. We were stuck in waiting lounge for 1 hour. The toilets were minute and cramped too, albeit modern and clean. A short distance away, the newish domestic terminal is at least 5 times larger which makes us wonder why the government didn’t plan for the future with a bigger international terminal. For travellers coming from Malaysia, this is a great destination as its only 3 hours flight with sufficient adventurous activities to get out to and a comfortable modern lodging to return to if choosing Dialoog. West Bali is a short ferry ride away.
Banyuwangi town is not quite ready for commercial tourism yet but it is moseying its way towards an international tourist destination. Poor sidewalks, public transport, public amenities, clean beaches. Friendly locals. Here’s our suggested things to do while in Banyuwangi if you don’t want to just laze by the pool.
view from our room balcony.
The Dialoog hotel in Banyuwangi is a mere 9 months old piece of property. Under the Alila Resorts & Hotels group it will be the closest thing to a 5 star that you will get, this side of Java. With its beach front & awesome sunrise view, it’s easy to forget that the rest of the town is pretty rural.
Strategically located ie. 1 hour to Ijen Crater and around 30 minutes from the airport, it’s now even more convenient thanks to the direct flight via Citilink (Garuda’s budget airline), which flies twice a week (in Wed/out Sun) from KLIA to Banyuwangi direct. We had a full itinerary organized for us ,complete with driver and guide, to travel around Banyuwangi – it would include visiting Ijen, Baluran National Park, Tabuan Island, Alas Purwo National Park etc. Read about our trip here.
Even without excursions, this is a cool little place for staycation too.. one can just lounge around and do nothing all day if one chooses to.
Minimalist Modernist Design
Clean simple lines are found all over the beach front property with hints of Indonesian decorative flavors. Loved the island vibe – think coconut tree laden gardens, neat lawns, fresh sea breeze and modern linear lines for architecture.
There is a horizon pool by the all day dining restaurant that looks out to West Bali. A spacious gym that is sufficient to keep your cardio workout in check and your muscles toned. I was surprised to find a body bike for spinning at the gym. Should have brought my riding shoes! Still didn’t stop me from getting a workout in, I tell ya.
The staff of mainly Banyuwangi residents are always willing to serve you with a happy smile. One main all day dining restaurant is all you need to cater to your growling stomach when the time comes. The rooms were modern and super comfortable with balcony overlooking the pool and the horizon.
Black volcanic sand might not be everyone’s cuppa , but it was a nice enough stretch of sand on the property front.
Best western cuisine in Banyuwangi?
Though we didn’t have time to try every western food outlet in Banyuwangi, the offerings at Dialoog could be the best. Whilst the menu is limited, what they have they try to do well. Wine pairing is available which is a great option to have with the Western. The kitchen aims to please parents by customising dishes to meet the child’s palate so that’s a big plus for Dialoog.
Cooking consistency is currently an issue but by the time you visit, they would probably have sorted it out. If you are hankering for decent burgers, fries and a tenderloin steak, make this a go-to place for a fine meal.
Besides western, they offer a selection of Indonesian and Banyuwangi favourites which were popular with locals. Fantastic sup ekor. Fall off the bone tender with succulent wobbly bits that hit the spot!
breakfast – most important meal of the day.
Breakfast also changes daily with choices of buffet and ala carte, Western and Indonesian cuisine to choose from. Food can be tailored to suit children’s tastebuds – ie. no chillies and no MSG. Whilst the hotel does not have daycare nor a playroom/ playground for kids, there’s ample space to run around. If these items are added, it would be a top-notch getaway for families with young kids.
Spectacular views…. hello Bali!
The pool whose temperatures seem to hold at body temperature all day round, is good for kids.
A good way to explore the area is by bike. Complementary bikes for the guests are available at the front desk.
After a massive hike to Ijen Crater, pamper yourselves with an invigorating spa. It’s the best way to reenergise the weary muscles.
All in all, Dialoog Bangyuwangi is a top notch hotel in the East tip of Java. We would recommend it in a heartbeat, to folks wanting to take on the Ijen Crater hike. After all, recover is just as important, don’t you think, as any exhilarating adventure and perilous hike. Be sure to check it out.
Banyuwangi Regency on southeastern tip of East Java province is one of the largest regencies in Java. Formerly known as Blambangan, it is often skipped by travellers heading to Bali by ferry. The capital town or city of the regency is also named Banyuwangi.
We visited Banyuwangi several years ago and recently returned to stay at one of the newest and best 4-star hotel here. While the hotel offers comfort and convenience, what else is there to do here?
Banyuwangi is slowly rising to become an attraction so be one of the first few to discover it. Travellers coming from Malaysia can now fly direct to Banyuwangi within 3 hours!
1. Kawah Ijen
In Banyuwangi Regency in East Java, Kawah Ijen (pronounced ee-jern) claims 2 world records. One, having the largest and maybe the tallest blue flames in the world. Second, having the largest and most acidic lake in the world. Earlier this year, Ijen had been added to UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves. Bike and Hike to Kawah Ijen are probably the most famous attractions in Banyuwangi Regency. There are numerous mapped and unmapped trails which take you uphill, downhill jungles, and passing villages and plantations. Don’t want to mountain bike or trudge up jungle trails then organize a 4wd to get up the entrance of the crater. Best time to visit Ijen Crater is April to October – off the rainy season.
There are a few places in this world, where you can see blue flames bursting out of the earth’s crust. And most of these rare but awe-inspiring appearances occur at active volcanic sites.
And it wasn’t till recently, that we’d checked off this bucketlist destination, from our list, when we were flown in from Bali to Banyuwangi’s small airport, after our beach holiday on the Gili Islands.
If you had studied chemistry in school, were an avid reader of Popular Science, or maybe a read the encyclopedia at least once in your life, you’d probably know that the blue colored flames are hotter than red flames, and/or are the result of sulphur(sulfur) gas combustion. For Ijen Crater, the blue flames were the result of super hot sulphur gasses escaping from the deep recesses of earth then combusting on surface air.
Besides sulfuric gasses escaping from the earth’s crust, hydrochloric acid penetrates the ground to contaminate the water on the crater to the level of 0.5 pH making a very acidic body of water on the Ijen caldera. The body of water happens to be the largest and most acidic mass of water in the world so don’t drop your gear in it or stroke the water with your bare hands.
Peering down the steep and treacherous trail into the crater
Sulfur miners average 2 trips a day from the bottom of the crater to the foot of the mountain carrying 70-90kg load which they dig up themselves. They make USD0.08 per kg. Not the easiest or the most lucrative job in the world.
Miners sell natural sulfur formations and moulded sulfur sculptures to visitors to supplement their income. They also provide visitors an opportunity to try out their shoulder yoke with load for a fee.
So is Ijen crater at 2799m easy to conquer?
Yes it is. Anyone with a moderate fitness can easily attempt this attraction. It is only a 3-5km km hike from base camp, Paltuding, to the top of the crater – depending on whether you wish to walk to the end of the crater ridge. There are some steep sections but with some patience and perseverance, you can conquer them. The other challenge is overcoming altitude sickness and stinging sulfuric fumes. If you do not head down to the crater, the fumes will be manageable for most. The hike down the steep rocky path takes a minimum of 20 minutes, depending if there is a crowd and if it’s in darkness. In day light, one can walk to the water’s edge.
Do you need a guide to lead you up to Ijen? Unless you are a traveler who seeks plenty of information on a location or traveling with young children, a guide isn’t necessary. The path is easy to identify and difficult to stray off.
Blue sulfur flames are not visible during the day. It can only be seen in low-light or darkness so a midnight excursion is best because when you do the late night program, a beautiful sunrise is the bonus if the skies are clear. When day light breaks, one can capture an envious breathtaking Instagram shot at the end of the crater ridge.
Ijen’s acid lake seen from crater ridge. Visitors can walk along the ridge to the right.
2. Baluran National Park
Baluran National Park once harboured a diverse range of ecosystems in a 250-sq-km area of northeastern Java. Recently development has severely impacted the park, but it’s still a popular place to visit if ever you’re in Banyuwangi.
photo credit : wonderful east java
Extensive grasslands still cover parts of the park, providing grazing for banteng (wild cattle), various deer and water buffalo, and the savannah-like terrain gives the place a feeling of adventure.
3. Alas Purwo National Park
Occupying the the remote Blambangan Peninsula on the southeastern tip of Java, Alas Purwo is well-known for its beaches, wildlife-spotting, savannah, mangrove and lowland monsoon forests. Apart from day-trippers and surfers, the park gets few visitors. Alas Purwo means First Forest in Javanese: according to legend, this is where the earth first emerged from the ocean. Many soul-searchers and mystics flock here during the month of Suro, which marks the Javanese New Year. These pilgrims meditate in caves and pray to Nyai Loro Kidul. Pura Giri Selokah, a Hindu temple in the park, also attracts pilgrims, especially during Pagerwesi, the Hindu New Year. The huge surf at Plengkung – aka G-Land is famous for its waves over shallow reef, and draw surfers here in peak season.
4. De Djawatan Forest
De Djawatan is a unique destination where huge towering Trembesi (Monkey Pod) trees sprawl around a 3.8 hectares area of land, formerly used by the Dutch colonialists for timber warehouse before being transported off by rail. Structural remnants of the holding area can still be seen. Definitely an instagram friendly destination. Best time to visit is April to October – off the rainy season
5. Visit Jagir Falls
Banyuwangi is famous for many natural phenomenons and one of them is the daunting Jagir Waterfall.
Located in Dusun Kampung Anyar, Desa Taman Suruh, Kecamatan Glagah, Kabupaten Banyuwangi you will find Jagir Waterfall tucked in the center of it.
The water that flows in this waterfall is from the source which is located in above the waterfall, Pawon Spring. To me, one of the nicest photo spots on this trip!
Another interesting location we visited was Sg. Kalibendo. We walked around a private farm land converted for commercial tourism and ended up at this green lung. Lovely place for a weekend getaway in Banyuwangi.
Kalibendo Banyuwangi also called Bendo river in English language, It is surrounded by plantations such as Coffee, Rubber and Cloves. This place is super fertile and located at the foot of Ijen Volcano. The journey from Banyuwangi to Bendo River Waterfall is 1 hour drive.
It is located in the northern city of Banyuwangi, in the same direction when we go to Kawah Ijen or Ijen crater. This place is a popular dating spot with the locals.
6. Visit the places of interest in Banyuwangi town
The town is worth at least 2 days visit. You can cycle if you dare negotiate the busy traffic or just go on foot. We particularly enjoyed discovering and instagram-ming the colorful painted murals in residential lanes and riverside walls – there are so many of them!
Photo Warung @Sam_kuliner
As for the foodie – don’t miss Banyuwangi culinary specialties of nasi tempong, rujak cingur and rujak cemplung. Shop at the local wet and dry markets in the town for local ware.
Exploring the town, we ended up at the historical former British Army Headquarters where the remnants of a cast iron manhole cover showed where there was once a connection between Britain and the Australia telegraphic line.
7. Taste the Banyuwangi Coffee
Coffee culture, alive and well in Banyuwangi!
Robusta coffee thrives in the low highlands of Banyuwangi. We were told the unusual mix sulphur and sea conditions of the region add unique notes in the coffee beans. Find out yourself at local coffee houses when you visit and tell us what you think. Gourmet-ish coffee prices are amongst the cheapest in the world. We visited Ais Coffee for a locally brewed cuppa and whilst not the strongest, it certainly went down well on a lazy weekend.