Saturday, December 28, 2013

bonus: sacramento, california

saturday 30 november - monday 02 december

two weeks in indonesia flew by and before we knew it we were on our way home. BUT vacation wasn't quite over for me; i still had a couple days in california before really heading back to reality.

our travel day started off super early at 5am as we zipped through empty streets on our way to the jakarta airport. we made it there in plenty of time for our flight to bali, which meant bumming around and random breakfast snacks: chocolate buns, beef sausage bun, coffee in red holiday cups (!) and (free) sugar donuts from JCo, and provisions for later (chocolate mint candies and purple yam puffs).
it's a good thing we had our morning fill of snacks because once we made it to bali's international terminal things were sorely lacking due to airport construction. we wandered and napped and splurged on neck pillows for the long flights ahead (red for deb and black for me). for our next round of snacks we bought some cappuccino tim tams, bacon/ham sandwiches (limited options), and the true star--haagen-dazs crispy ice cream sandwiches.
we had been waiting to get the ice cream sandwiches, and they did not disappoint. debby got the  caramel, and i chose the vanilla with chocolate. for $9 (yes, that's nine US dollars--EACH) we were treated to a totally self-contained (read: no melty drips or broken wafer bits) ice cream sandwich with the delicious quality you come to expect from haagen-dazs. excellent treat before boarding a full flight to taipei.
the rest of our travel day was spent on a plane to taipei (5 hours sleeping, reading, and watching junior master chef: aussie edition, wolverine, the amazing spider-man), a few hours walking around the taipei airport (hello kitty lounge! and charging stations galore), and finally a plane to sfo (11 hours of sleep mixed with more movies: people like us and madagascar 2). we landed in san francisco  around 7pm the same day..technically speaking. deb's parents treated us to some in-n-out burgers and fries before we passed out in the car. 

the next morning started with a nice breakfast of hash browns, apples, persimmons, and jane's sourdough bread (chocolate and cherries--yum!). ah, i can't tell you how much i missed fresh produce! (we would definitely make up for it in the next couple days~) after breakfast we left novato and made our way to deb's place in sacramento. 
stopped by the sacramento farmers market (we got there a little late so things were close to wrapping up, but we still picked up a few things), trader joe's for some lunch items, and safeway in search of it's-its (they were all out but luckily we found some at good ol' reliable target), then we had a nice californian lunch of tj's kale and edamame salad, mandarins, sugar snap peas, brie with big wheat thins, red grapes, and G7 coffee. the caffeine started to kick in, and we got noticeably extra chatty. just in time for a walk around the neighborhood with thea and her dog callie. the weather was typical of a northern californian fall/winter--mid 60s, cool and sunny--which felt great after the balminess and humidity of indonesia. after our walk we met up with some of deb's friends for vietnamese spring rolls. SO good! it's a good sign when you lose track of how many rolls you've wrapped and eaten and are still chomping away. on our way home we took a detour to east sacramento to look at the decorated houses. they even decorated the sidewalks with lighted archways. fancy~ once we got home, we capped the night off with a proper dessert of vanilla it's-its.

my last day of vacation was deb's first day back at work. i bummed around the apartment checking out cyber monday sales, watched some tv (hello, saved by the bell), and made myself a california snack of sugar snap peas, grapes, brie and wheat thins. 
debby had about an hour for lunch, so we went to jack's urban eats; went halvsies on the turkey sandwich and the california cheese steak with a side order of urban fries (garlic fries with blue cheese and herbs). so flavorful and so filling. deb went back to work, and i made a quick stop at the arden mall for some see's lollypops to bring back (chocolate, butterscotch, cafe latte, vanilla, and christmas mint...and the free chocolate sample, of course). i walked around the mall a little but just wasn't in the holiday shopping mood, so i made my way back to the apartment and packed. deb got home around 530pm, and we were off to zumba! this was my first time at a real zumba class and managed not to make a fool of myself, although that's not to say that my sense of left and right and coordinating my arms and feet were close to being correct :P hey, A for effort, right? an hour of cardio, a quick shower, dinner of thanksgiving leftovers at jae hyoun's, and my last day in sac was coming to an end. deb dropped me off at smf (smurf!), and i waited patiently for my red-eye back to new york...back to reality.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

part three: jakarta

monday 25 november - saturday 30 november

we said our goodbyes to bali and spent the morning at the airport. after a breakfast of noodles, rice, and candy (no judgment--we're ON VACATION), an hour-plus delay, and a two-hour flight, we made it to jakarta.
not to be rivaled by other southeast asian cities, jakarta traffic was pretty notable (this would be a theme for our car time in the city ;P), and we spent almost two hours to get to marcela's family's house in pondok indah, south jakarta.
for our first full day in jakarta, marcela booked a city tour for me, debby, and dan. the tour started at 9am, and the first stop was the national museum, or commonly referred to as the elephant building. we walked through exhibits featuring collections from different regions of indonesia. fun fact: indonesia is the fourth most populous country in the world and consists of hundreds of different languages, not to mention over 17,000 islands! after the museum we made our way to old chinatown (glodok), and the rain really started to come down. thankfully the tour had giant umbrellas for us, otherwise we would have been soaked. we trudged through quick-forming puddles and flooded streets to check out a buddhist temple and multiple produce and meat stands. too bad they didn't have extra galoshes too :P we took a little break from the rain in old town batavia, where we had lunch and toured a traditional wooden puppet museum. the intricacy and artistry of the puppets was really impressive. by the time we wrapped up the museum tour, the sun came out and we made our last stop at the old port in sunda kelapa harbor. jakarta was, and still is, an important trading port for indonesia, so it was cool to see all the shipping boats and dock workers in action. all in all, a very full day that offered a glimpse into indonesian history and culture.

the rest of our week was spent living the city life. shopping malls are no joke in jakarta and are a common hangout spot that have EVERYTHING you need. we indulged in a hair cream spa, cheap but good massages, mani-pedis (not great but it's because we picked a random place), lots of tasty food and snacks, and a premiere movie experience (la-z-boy seating!). the highlights from all our mall time would have to be the la-z-boy movie (cushy leather recliners, fleece blankets, caramel corn, and the hunger games' catching fire--YES!), massages (an hour and a half of total relaxation), and customizable magnum ice cream bars (wholly unnecessary but completely delicious). aside from the malls, we had a great time just chilling with new friends and family. such a nice way to end a super fun and enjoyable two-week vacation.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

part two: nusa dua, bali

friday 22 november - monday 25 november
after a two-hour drive and a couple loops around the resort area we arrived at our LUXURY RESORT, the laguna, in nusa dua. the place was gorgeous--beautiful open lobby/reception area, flowers everywhere, and lagoon-like pools spreading out towards the beach. we were a little early so our room wasn't ready yet, which gave us some time to explore the hotel and walk along the beach path to neighboring resorts. it was noticeably warmer and sunnier here so we decided to snack on some tim tams in the air-conditioned computer center (free internet time!) before heading to our freshly made room.
our room overlooked one of the many pools, but we opted to plant ourselves on the beach for the next few hours. cushy lounge chairs, fresh young coconut, and free wifi...this is the life.

woke up at 530am on day two in nusa dua--guess our jet lag hasn't quite worn off. we started with a breakfast of papaya with lime,  muesli with milk, and some strong balinese coffee. today we had a driver (putu) who would take us around bali for the day. first stop was a balinese dance show which told the traditional story of the barong; there was more acting than actual dancing, but it was neat to learn about the story. next up was a small coffee plantation where we tried luwak coffee (beans pooped from a mongoose O.O) and a selection of teas and flavored coffees. we liked all their teas (even the ginger one!) and really enjoyed the coconut coffee and vanilla coffee. also, sugar goes a long way in enhancing flavor in all the drinks. now it was time for lunch and a little shopping in seminyak. we ate gado gado and nasi goreng and stocked up on snacks from cocomart. from there putu drove us to uluwatu temple with a quick stop at padang padang beach. uluwatu is set atop a cliff and offered up some really stunning views. the sun was peeking through the clouds and cast some beautiful beams of light on the ocean. it was pretty refreshing to be so high up and out in the open. after taking in the sights, our last stop for the day was a jimbaran seafood dinner on the beach at new moon cafe. we picked out our seafood (red snapper and mussels/clams) and sipped our young coconuts (finally we got spoons to scrape out the coconut meat!) while enjoying the sunset and awesome-looking sky. what a great way to end our balinese-filled day.

finally a solid night's sleep :) yay! a little bit of tv time and a breakfast of mangosteen and cocomart snacks and we were off to the beach. searched for the perfect spot under a tree and proceeded to read, nap, dip in the water, collect shells, snack, and repeat for the next four hours.
given our SUPER taxing day, we needed some nourishment and made dinner reservations at bumbu bali. seating was outside in a courtyard setting that resembled a traditional balinese home. this caused for some bug bites with our dinner, but at least we were distracted by the bounty of food. we dined on the rijstaffel, or "rice table," which consisted of the following dishes:
  * cram cam (chicken soup with shallots)
  * sambel be tongkoi (tuna salad with lemongrass)
  * sate babi, ayam, lilit (pork, chicken, and
    seafood satay)
  * ayam pelalah (shredded chicken with chili, and
  * tum bebek (minced duck in banana leaf)
  * be celeng base manis (pork in sweet soy sauce)
  * be sampi mebase bali (braised beef in coconut milk)
  * kambing mekuah (lamb stew with cardamom)
  * ikan bakar (grilled fish fillet)
  * pesan be pasih (diced fish  grilled in banana leaf)
  * two vegetable dishes: jack fruit salad and green bean salad
  * desserts: seasonal fruits, balinese cakes and glutinous rice flour dumplings, green bean in
    coconut milk
the highlights for us were the pork and chicken sate, lamb stew, braised beef, and the fruit plate. and let's not forget the welcome flowers ;) free shuttle back to the laguna and a satisfying way to wrap up our last night in bali. off to jakarta in the morning!

Friday, December 6, 2013

part one: ubud, bali

tuesday 19 november - friday 22 november

after almost 36 hours of travel (layovers included), we finally made it to bali! the jet lag was definitely kicking in, and i was feeling more than a little disoriented. our first afternoon/evening in bali was spent relaxing in our plush jungle villa (bima 3) at alam ubud. we were greeted with a floral foot bath and welcome leis, and our room was stocked with bottled waters and a tiny fruit basket (snake fruit? no thank you). to keep things easy, we ordered room service for dinner and tucked in early.

our first official day in bali started off super early and with a little rain. we were the first ones to arrive for breakfast at 6am :P and had the whole place to ourselves. we each had a mixed fruit platter, coffee, and asian breakfasts (congee for deb, fried rice for me), overlooking the infinity pool and jungle-mountain landscape. i'd say we were off to a pretty good start. after breakfast, we hopped on the shuttle to ubud center. first thing was first: exchange money. with an exchange rate of 11,500 IDR:USD you can imagine the mental math and confusion of too many zeros. don't worry, we got the hang of it by the end of our trip--hah! once we were plush with cash it was time to eat :D we made our way to ibu oka for their roast pork special, which has been mentioned by bourdain and the times--and for good reason. after we stuffed our faces, it was time to explore: lots of shops/restaurants, temples, cocomart (stocked up on snacks), monkey forest, ubud market (haggled for sunglasses and scarves), and balinese massages ($8 for an hour massage? yes, please. of course it did come with some awkward moments, but i'm gonna overlook that...). after a rather full first day in town, we ended with a dip in the infinity pool and room service.

day two in ubud was sunny and warm, which was ideal for our morning bike ride through the rice paddies. we borrowed the hotel bikes and headed out after breakfast. started off great--the scenery was gorgeous--but after some uphill and strong bali sun, i totally wimped out from overexertion. wah wah. we turned back and stuck to some flatter areas but were still able to see some rice harvesting. man, it is SUPER labor-intensive; i will never waste rice ever. we headed back into town for some more (sweaty) wandering: stocked up on mangosteen, shared a fresh coconut and some free wifi, coffee break, lunch at bebek bengil (the crispy duck was SO good, probably our favorite meal of the trip), fifteen-minute fish foot soak, and an ice cream reward.

for our last morning in ubud we enjoyed a leisurely poolside breakfast and some reading time in our room before a two-hour drive to nusa dua. see ya later, alam ubud villas~

indo, here we go

two weeks in indonesia with debby went by way too fast. what's better than going on a southeast asian adventure with your best bud! our days were filled with lots of laughs; heat, humidity, and sun (with the occasional rain shower); snack time galore (we love you, cocomart); and a ton of pictures. as per usual i went a little camera crazy, so i'll have to limit my recaps to the highlights.

here's the indo itinerary:
* part one: ubud, bali
* part two: nusa dua, bali
* part three: jakarta
* bonus: sacramento, california