Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Magnum Cafe at Grand Indonesia Mall

During my recent trip to Jakarta, I had the privilege of having a chocolate fix at the Magnum Cafe at Grand Indonesia mall.

Let me share with you my experience at Magnum Cafe Jakarta.

 Entrance to the cafe.

Red carpet welcome for guests.

This is where the goodies are prepared.

The weekend crowd. 

Since the place was crowded, we walked towards the back where there was an open air dining area ...

I presume this space is for smokers.

... with a marvellous view of the city and its skyscrappers:

After picking a spot where we could admire the views, it was time to order. 

When Angie told me about Magnum Cafe, I was wondering what sort of ice cream desserts would they have. Would it be chocolate and nothing but chocolate? Would they sell fusion stuff? Any savoury food perhaps? My questions was about to be answered here:

This menu holds the key to all chocolate goodness.

This is what we ordered:

Mont St Aubert (IDR 39,000) and Truffle Royale (IDR 39,000)
Mont St Aubert was flat, if you know what I mean. Truffle Royale had more kick.

Antwerp Petite (IDR 45,000)
The combination of chocolate on the belgian wafer was good. 

To give a savoury taste to our chocolate drinks and the Antwerp Petite, we ordered a pizza:

Au Poulet (IDR 55,000). 
As a lover of thin crust pizza, this certainly agrees with me. The chicken, tomato sauce and melted cheese brings the whole pizza together nicely. I'm glad we ordered this.

Magnum Cafe also sells chocolate goodies like these:

 Good to buy as gifts.

I like the words on this frame:

After visiting Magnum Cafe in Jakarta, I was wondering why no one had opened one in KL. And now after about 2 months since my trip to Jakarta, Magnum Cafe is now in Mid Valley Megamall. Talk about coincidence!

I will certainly go to the Mid Valley outlet, but only after a few months when the the crowd has died down.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

First Impressions of Jakarta

I was in Jakarta for a 3-day trip at the beginning of October - all because Angie got transferred there for a year. So lodging was free :-)

Eventhough I've been to other parts of Indonesia before, it was my first time in Jakarta. And whenever I travel to a place for the first time, I try not to have expectations to avoid disappointments.

Here are 3 of my personal observations of the city:

One thing that people usually tell me is that the traffic in Jakarta is horrendous. One can get caught in a traffic jam for hours just to travel a short distance.

However this time I didn't get to experience the horrible traffic that Jakarta is famous for, simply because I travelled on a weekend. I heard that traffic is usually notorious on weekdays during peak hours.

Customer service
Customer service standards in Jakarta are relatively higher compared to other countries - even in KL where I live.

In Jakarta we walked into malls and shops and the staff would greet us like they value the business we're potentially giving them. Even if we don't buy anything, they would still smile and thank us as we walk away.

At the Sate Senayan restaurant in South Jakarta, there was a staff on duty in front of the washroom to greet and direct customers to the washroom. That particular staff also ensured that the washroom is consistently clean. I haven't seen such a thing yet in KL.

Malls, malls and more malls
When it comes to malls, Jakarta is in a league of its own. The sheer boldness in the way the city builds its mammoth malls is amazing. I think Jakarta has ample land and enough customer volume to sustain these giant malls.

We went to 3 malls during my stay in Jakarta - Pondok Indah Mall, Anggrek Mall and Grand Indonesia. Amongst the 3, Grand Indonesia lives up to its name as the grandest mall of them all. Can someone please tell me what is the biggest mall in Jakarta?

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Review: Tea Spa in South Jakarta

I was in Jakarta early last month to visit Angie who has been transferred there for a year.

On my second day in Jakarta, we hopped into a bajaj and headed for our spa session.

 The bajaj is built for small sized people. We could fit 2 people at the back. But I don't think even one sumo wrestler can fit in there.

After riding around and getting lost, we managed to find Tea Spa on Jalan Gunawarman 9, Kebayoran Baru, Jakarta.

The spa is locsted above a cafe that sells tea (what else!).

As we walked up the stairs we were greeted with this table:

I like this table with the 'Tea Spa' wordings at the top.

While waiting for the lady to prepare our massage materials, I went around snapping pics and took this:

 Interesting words ...

The lady led us to the room where I managed to snap a pic before the massage began:

We chose the 3-hour Perfect Contour Tea Treatment which is one of the spa's signature package. The package consists of a Tea Aromatherapy French Massage (for slimming), Herbal Tea Body Scrub, Herbal Tea Body Mask and Herbal Tea Body Wrap.

My massauer was good with her hands and placed just enough pressure.

After we finished the treatment and I had my super sweet ginger tea, the lady led me to another room for my half leg waxing.

This time the waxing was way below that of the quality I get back in KL.

First of all, they used poor quality wax. After the therapist applied the wax onto my legs and left it to dry, she had a tough time peeling off the sides of the wax to give it a good yank. When she finally could peel the edges, the wax tore away in small parts and she had to scrap away the remnants from my skin.

The end result was that it was not a clean waxing in the sense that there were still hairs on my legs and even tiny bits of wax still stuck to my skin.

Eventhough the massage was good but the waxing was not great at all and I would certainly not recommend you to do at Tea Spa.

After the massage we went looking for the famous Sate Senayan:

When in Indonesia, always look for the word 'gratis' because it means 'free' :-) 

This was dinner:

Clockwise from top left: Sate Senayan, Sup Bontot and Nasi Complete. 

While enjoying dinner I was fascinated with these 3 wooden sculptures at the entrance of the restaurant:

Thursday, 30 October 2014

New Camera

Meet my new camera: 

It's a Samsung WB250F.

How I came to posses this camera is an interesting story.

About a year ago, I helped to purchase a ticket for LvH to attend a salsa pool party. Because I have a good luck hand (ahem), I selected a ticket that won him this camera during the lucky draw.

After the party, I told him cheekily a few times that I should have a share in the camera since I was the one who picked the ticket :-)

Now after more than a year, and hardly used at all, LvH finally decided to give me the camera as he's planning to purchase a Canon Powershot G7 X instead.

I've been using my old Canon IXUS 110 IS for the past 5 years or so. And a few months ago the flash started giving off smoke whenever I used it. So this Samsung camera has certainly came in handy at the right time :-)

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Review: The Neem, Bandar Hilir, Malacca

To celebrate my mum's 60th birthday, my family made a trip to good old Malacca where my late father came from.

My sister selected The Neem for our 2-night vacation. I had a rough idea of what to expect from The Neem after looking at its website. However the real thing looked totally different - in a good way, eventually.

Directions to The Neem on the website was clear and we found the place without getting lost.

This is the road that leads into The Neem. It's located at the back of 2 bungalows fronting Jalan Parameswara.

It's located at the back of 2 bungalows that are fronting Jalan Parameswara.

This is the entrance into The Neem: 

 The beige coloured house on the right is the reception and where the caretakers live.

There are 4 types of accommodation, i.e. chalets of different sizes to suit the number of pax.

Since we were a family of 4, we took Ketapang which is the biggest chalet.

 That's Mum sitting in front of Ketapang.

I like the rustic Welcome sign in front of Ketapang:

The interiors of Ketapang is huge and 4 of us could fit in nicely with lots of room to watch television, read, snooze, etc.

The bathroom is also spacious:

 Only now the Westerners have come up with the Ice Bucket Challenge. We Asians have been doing it since days of yonder. The only problem is we couldn't lift the tempayan, hahaha.

This is the shower and toilet area:

 The rain shower is awesome after a tiring day strolling Jonker Walk and climbing St Paul's Hill.

 Breakfast is included in the package:

 I chose Western breakfast for my first morning which the caretakers prepared in the kitchen. I chose Asian breakfast for my second morning and the caretakers just bought nasi lemak from the shops :-)

The grounds of The Neem is green and even has a small swimming pool as you can see on the bottom left side of this pic:

It's difficult to get a shot of the entire grounds in one pic. This is the best I could do.

There's greenery everywhere:

I like the daun pegaga which are so cute. 

There are water lilies outside each chalet:

I like the cool breeze that ruffles the leaves as I enjoy my breakfast under the tree in front of Ketapang.

There's a trampoline on the grounds too:

I was trying to do somersaults but had to stop in case I fell off the trampoline as there were no safety nets around it.

Eventhough my first impression of The Neem was rather poor because the place didn't look one bit at all like in its website, the place somehow grew on me and I began to like the place. 

The interiors of Ketapang where we stayed was clean and service was good. The caretakers are also friendly and they work hard to ensure their guests are comfortable.

My mum had already said that she will want to stay at The Neem when we come to Malacca again. So what can I say ...

Monday, 25 August 2014

Homestay Experience at Keureni

During our recent trip to Nepal, Angie and I wanted to do something different instead of just trekking our arses off. So we contacted our Nepali friend Raj and he arranged for us to visit the village of Keureni and to spend a night there.

To get to Keureni, we took the public bus from Pokhara to Gorkha Bazaar which was a 6-hour journey. We were seated at the last row in the bus and a fat guy with only one arm was squasing Angie and I to the side. His pants kept dropping whenever he got down at the rest spots and he had a hard time pulling up his pants because he had only one arm, hahaha.

Upon arrival at Gorkha Bazaar, our guides Kapil and his cousin Raj took us by bike on dirt roads to the village of Keureni. The ride was one of the most thrilling for me. We looked like participants in the Dakar Rally and I was hanging on to Kapil for dear life, hahaha.

The village of Keureni is located in a valley:

Before leaving for Nepal, Raj had informed that we could bring stationery for the school in Keureni. Being typical Malaysians, we purchased the items from Mydin because that's the place Malaysians go to buy things in bulk :-)

This is the school that we visited in Keureni:

This is one of the classrooms in the school:

The younger children in the school were just so adorable. Initially they were curious to see us but soon they grew bolder and sang some beautiful songs for us:

It was scorching hot when we were walking around the village that we made a couple of stops to rest under a tree or shade to escape from the heat. Everywhere was dusty and my throat was parched. At the point, I could have downed 2 bottles of mineral water at one go.

There were three girls in particular who were following us around. I guess they were curious at what we were doing. 

After following us around, these three girls mustered up enough courage to ask our names. Christy is the one in the middle. She's the bravest of the lot which makes her my favourite kid in the village :-) 

Currently the main project in Keureni is the building of a community centre so that the villagers can use it for their activities like sewing classes and maybe even computer lessons. 

The idea is to teach the villagers living skills like sewing, craftwork, etc. so that they can earn a living. As what the saying goes ... give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch a fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.

The community centre was under construction when we visited the place in May this year.

The community centre is located on a hill, as you can see from this pic.

The building of the community centre and other projects in Keureni are spearheaded by Dorte Just (from Denmark) and assisted by Dipesh Khadgi who is a local.

They are not affliated with any organisation or NGO and are helping the villagers out of the goodness of their hearts.

Double D: Dorte and Dipesh.

Dorte and Dipesh have got some marvellous plans for Keureni.

They aim to raise 40,000 Kronors this year for the following projects:
  1. To finish the construction of the community centre;
  2. To furnish the community centre with beds, kitchen appliances and other furnishings for 4 volunteers who will be joining in October this year;
  3. To purchase whiteboards and other schooling materials for the school that you saw in the pic above; and
  4. To hire a trainer to conduct sewing classes so that the villagers may learn sewing skills and make a living out of selling their handiwork. A kind soul from Denmark had already donated a few sewing machines to set the ball rolling.
The team will also be starting a goat project with the women's group where each family is given a goat to rear for milk and meat.

If you wish to help the village of Keureni, you may contact Dorte:

Ms Dorte Just
Mobile: +977 984 178 7728 (Nepal), +45 6077 6852 (Denmark)
Email: dortenepal@gmail.com.
Blog: http://dortejust.wordpress.com/

This is the house in Keureni where we spent the night:

The owner of this house used to work in Malaysia. In fact wherever we went in Nepal, for sure we'll meet someone, or at least someone who has a relative who worked in Malaysia. Some Nepalese were even wearing Kuala Lumpur t-shirts.

We shared rooms with Dorte:

Our room - it was hot in the daytime and cool during the night.

Eventhough the village has power supply, the condition is poor - you'll never know when the supply may go off. As such, the folks there hardly have electrical appliances. Only a few homes have television sets and VCD player.

When we were there, everything was in pitch darkness when the sun went down and I had to use a torchlight to move around.

I reckon it's a challenge for the villagers to complete their work and students their homework before the sun sets. In fact, I think this is one of the reason villagers in Keureni sleep early and rise early too.

The bathroom and toilet are located outside the house:

The bathroom and toilet have no lights and water had to be collected to fill up the tong. So we had to ensure that we bathe during the day. I have this habit of bathing just before I sleep which is usually at night (obviously). Thank heavens I had a powerful torchlight with me. 
There's a resident spider in the bathroom too. It is so big that it's size will scare the living daylights out of anyone who is arachnophobia.

This are the 3 brothers who are sons of the owner of the house:

L to R: Mohan, Ranjit and Ishwor

These guys can cook, clean and are well disciplined boys. If you have sons, you'd wish for them to be like Mohan, Ranjit and Ishwor.

These boys love their pets:

The goat's name is Mikhael.

Keureni has many farms with chickens, cows, goats and pigs. Coming from the city, I was fascinated with simple things like watching piglets suckling their mother:

I love the way the goats look at me. It's as if though they are smiling:

So the next time anyone comes to my studio apartment and comments on its size, I'll invite them to make a trip to to the village of Keureni for a homestay experience :-)

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