Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Review : A Million Suns by Beth Ravis

Title : A Million Suns (Across The Universe #2)
Author : Beth Ravis
Published : January 2011 by Razorbill 
Godspeed was once fueled by lies. Now it is ruled by chaos.

It’s been three months since Amy was unplugged. The life she always knew is over. Everywhere she looks, she sees the walls of the spaceship Godspeed.

But there may be hope: Elder has assumed leadership of the ship. He's finally free to act on his vision—no more Phydus, no more lies.

But when Elder learns shocking news about the ship, he and Amy race to discover the truth behind life on Godspeed. They must work together to unlock a mystery that was set in motion hundreds of years earlier. Their success—or failure—will determine the fate of the 2,298 passengers aboard Godspeed. But with each step, the journey becomes more perilous, the ship more chaotic, and the love between them more impossible to fight.

Beth Revis catapulted readers into the far reaches of space with her New York Times bestselling debut, Across the Universe. In A Million Suns, Beth deepens the mystery with action, suspense, romance, and deep philosophical questions. And this time it all builds to one mind-bending conclusion: They have to get off this ship -goodreads

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

Another lonely Christmas I have this year. Right on December 25 I have to go back to boarding house because I have to work at 26-28. Thank God I could attaended Christmas service back in my hometown on Dec 23 and was still able to gather with my family even if it was only for 2 days.

Now while I'm typing this post, I'm all alone in my room at boarding house. I plan to spend this whole day reading The Ring of Solomon by Jonathan Stroud. I know that is so not a Christmas reading but it's the only book I bring from home, so I guess better than nothing.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Review : Across The Universe by Beth Ravis

Title : Across The Universe
Author : Beth Ravis
Published : January 2011 by Razorbill 
A love out of time. A spaceship built of secrets and murder.

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone-one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship-tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming

Friday, October 5, 2012

China Trip Day 8 and 9 : Beijing

Itinerary day 8 : Julong – Qianmen
Itinerary day 9 (last day) : Xidan - Qianmen - Wangfujing

We flew to Beijing by Air China again at 7.00 am. At that time they didn’t serve western breakfast, so I had Chinese breakfast. I didn’t like it. It was a bland porridge with sweet dried radish, strange taste nut and salted egg for side dish. BLAH!

I had booked another night at Oriental Peace Hotel from ctrip when I was in Chengdu. I was lazy to search for another place to stay plus it was only for one night. Ctrip had a cheaper rate than book at the hotel itself. 1 night there cost me RMB 371. From Beijing Capital Airport we took airport express to Wangfujing. 

How to go to Wangfujing from Beijing Capital Airport : From airport take airport express and get off at Dongzhimen station, transfer to line 2 (dark blue line) and get off at Jianguomen station, transfer to line 1 (red line) and get off at Wangfujing station

I do not recommend airport express if you have big luggage with you. The subway stations in Beijing rarely have escalator. I dragged my big luggage up and down stairs for several times and you know how people there don’t queue. It was so painful. We didn’t have any difficulty when we checked in at the hotel. They had our booking on their list.

How to go to Julong underground market : From Wangfujing station take line 1 (red line) and get off at Xidan, then transfer to line 4 (light blue line) and get off at Beijing Zoo station

I browsed for Julong a night before. Some blogs said it’s located in Xizhimen so we took off at Xizhimen Station. Apparently Julong was closer from Beijing Zoo station. It took about 500 m walk from Xizhimen. When you arrived at Beijing Zoo Station, go up to the main road and look for Mc Donald, it’s located at the corner. Just near the Mc Donald, you can find a way in to Julong underground market.

Our itinerary for the last 2 days in Beijing was for shopping. We went to Julong, an underground wholesale market place where you can buy clothes, shoes, bags, accessories in low prices. Eventhough it’s a wholesale market, you don’t have to buy many. It’s allowed to only buy one item. You have to bargain very low in here. Bring your own plastic bag, they don’t provide any. Soon our 2 big bags were full with things. We left Julong at 4.30 pm and went back to the hotel.

After resting for a while we went to Qianmen again to buy some souvenirs for family and friends. We had Peking Duck for dinner at Qianmen. It was good. We have some Peking Duck restaurants here in Indonesia. The taste was almost the same, but the one in Beijing is more delicious.

Entrance gate to Qianmen

The next day we checked out early and entrust our baggage in the hotel. It was our last day in China. We went to Xidan to do some more shopping. You have to bargain hard too in Xidan. For a belt, the seller gave me RMB 35 and after bargain I got it only for RMB 10. We had lunch at a Taiwan cuisine food stall in the mall. I had pork stewed rice for RMB 16. Finally something I can eat and it tasted sweet just like pork stewed I know. From Xidan we went back to Qianmen to picked up a thing I ordered last night then went back to Wangfujing pedestrian street. 

We went back to our hotel at around 6 pm to take our luggage. We went to the airport by taxi. A taxi driver offered RMB 150 to go to airport. I told him I will go for RMB 100 or use meter, but he refused. He said at rush hour RMB 100 is not enough and insisted RMB 150. I tried to catch another taxi when he finally agreed for RMB 100 with some nagging. He said he have to take another passenger on the way to airport because RMB 100 is not enough. A girl got on the taxi and the taxi driver drove her first then drove us to the airport. We didn’t mind because we still have enough time and we got to sightseeing Beijing at night for free.

My experienced in China was “incredible”. It was none like other trips I ever had before. Will I go back there? I’m still thinking about it. There are many beautiful places in China and suitable for shopping because the prices are very very cheap, but the people, the foods and the language barrier are too frustrating. I want to go back to The Great Wall though, so maybe one day laaaaaaatttteerrrr I’ll go back to China but even if I don’t, it is okay for me. There are many other countries I haven’t visited yet and Korea is still waiting for me to come back.


Monday, October 1, 2012

China Trip Day 6 : Huanglong, Day 7 : Chengdu

It was raining very hard in the morning. We had traditional Chinese breakfast, same as yesterday and headed to Hunglong. Before went to Huanglong we stopped by at another Tibetan house. At first I didn’t know what it was for. We all gathered in their so called livingroom. One Tibetan young girl told us about Tibetan culture which of course I only understood a little. The more I heard her story, I finally understood that it was another tourist trap. She introduced us to some kind of Tibetan belt made of metal and she said even the doctor in Beijing said it’s good for back. She told more story about more Tibetan accessories related to health and as I guessed, she sold those accessories. Most of the people were so attracted but me, my mom and some others went outside back to the bus.

Friday, September 28, 2012

China Trip Day 5 : Jiuzhaigou

I woke up with sore throat that day. I didn't know that the tap water there contains of high concentration of Chlorine. I pour some water into a clear glass that morning and the water color was almost white with chlorine particles flowing. Don't ever drink tap water in Jiuzhaigou! We had breakfast at 7.00 am. The breakfast was traditional Chinese breakfast. Mantau (plain bun) with some vegetables. They also served yellow color hot soup with only rice as its’ ingredients and it was bland. So just imagine you put some rice into a bowl of hot water and drink/eat it. That’s what it tasted like.

We headed to Jiuzhaigou National Park at 8.00 am. It took about 30 mins from our hotel to reach the place. There were so many China group tours there. I didn’t see any foreigner at all at that day. If you have plan to visit China, avoid China holidays. China itself has a very large number of local tourists. 

On the way from parking lot to the entrance, I found something really unique and fascinating. I saw the drainage at the road side and it had 2 water colors, blue and brown. The blue one is the water from inside Jiuzhaigou national park and the brown one is just regular drainage water. Pretty cool isn't it?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

China Trip Day 4 : Chengdu-Jiuzhaigou

Itinerary : Chengdu – Wenchuan – Maoxian – Songpan - Jiuzhaigou

Once again we packed our luggage and boarded to Jiuzhaigou by bus. A driver picked us up at hotel at 07.00 am and drove us to gathering place. The bus should come at 08.00 am but it was late. It arrived at 08.40 am. There were 37 people who joined the tour and we were the only foreigners. The tour guide speaks only Chinese and doesn’t understand English at all. Worse, he can’t read our name that is written in alphabet and he called us “You two” during the tour -.-“

Tour guide
The road to Jiuzhaigou is curvy but the road is good. Only in some spots the road are in maintenance due to the impact of Sichuan earthquake back in 2008. The traffic was already crowded when we departed. If you are planning to go to Jiuzhaigou by bus from Chengdu, it’s better to go as early as possible to avoid traffic jam. Our bus was comfortable enough and air conditioned. The scenery along the way to Jiuzhaigou is incredibly beautiful.

Friday, September 21, 2012

China Trip Day 3 : Chengdu

Itinerary : People’s Park – Tianfu Square

Local tour itinerary :
Day 1 : Fly from Beijing to Chengdu, free time at Chengdu
Day 2 : Road trip from Chengdu to Jiuzhaigou by bus (approximately 8 hours)
Day 3 : Jiuzhaigou National Park
Day 4 : Huanglong
Day 5 : Road trip from Jiuzhaigou to Chengdu by bus (approximately 8 hours)
Day 6 : Fly from Chengdu to Beijing

Our flight to Chengdu was at 07.00 am by Air China. We departed from hotel to airport at 05.00 am. The hotel receptionist told us if we call a taxi to pick us at the hotel, it will cost double. So we decided to go to main road on foot and caught taxi there. The road was empty at that time. After about 10 minutes, we finally got a taxi. The taxi driver presumed we are Korean. I think it’s cool to have oriental face you know. When I was in Korea, people there thought I was a Taiwanese. While in China, they think I was a Korean. When I told them that I’m an Indonesian, they (both countries) were surprised. What's wrong with an Indonesian born Chinese? 

The domestic fight is at Terminal T3 Beijing Capital Airport. We were told that we were supposed to meet a travel agent there. The itinerary we got from travel agent was all in Chinese. After some time wandering around, include made some phone calls and asked the information center, who told me the direction frostily, finally we found the agent.


The problem with China people is when they see an oriental Chinese-like face, they presume that person can speak Chinese. When I proceeded to the gate, I gave the officer my boarding pass and forgot to present my passport with. A woman officer said something in Chinese and what I heard was “$@#(@*&”. I didn’t understand what she said. When I said nothing and did nothing, she started to talked another “$@#*&#*$” to me. I confused and was still trying to understand but she already pissed off. Her voice started to get higher and she asked me again in Chinese, this time finally my brain worked. She asked viciously “Are you a China people or not??” HELLO!! She held my boarding pass and my name is not in Chinese. Couldn’t she tell that I’m not a China people? I didn’t say anything, I only shook my head. She got really pissed and started to ask again, still in Chinese. My brain worked again that time, apparently she asked for my ID. I gave her my passport without saying anything. She checked it and gave it back to me with angry face -.-“

Anyway let’s continue, Air China served breakfast on board for the morning flight. They had 2 menus, Western and Chinese food. I chose Western while my mom chose Chinese.

western food
chinese food
The flight to Chengdu takes 2.5 hours. We arrived at Chengdu at about 9.40 am. Someone had wait for us at the arrival hall at the airport and drove us to the hotel. My first impression of Chengdu was grey. Chengdu is a big city but most of the buildings are old and not well maintained nor restored. By seeing Chengdu, I realized how modern Beijing is. 

one of old building
We stayed at Jin Shang Hua, a 3 starts hotel. It took about 1 hour drive from airport. The way China people drive is "amazing". They like to drive in high speed even in busy roads and they like to sound the horn whenever whatever coming to their way or near them. Along the way to the hotel, there was no one second I didn’t hear a horn sound.

Jin Shang Hua hotel is located at the main road. It provides wifi but only at the hotel lobby. Our room was a double bed room. It’s nicer than the one in Beijing. The bathroom in Beijing is better but it was still ok. Just like in the hotel in Beijing, Jin Shang Hua also provides a big bottle of shampoo and liquid soap.

We had lunch at a noodle house near the hotel. The place was packed in lunch time. Me and my mom ordered a spicy fried beef noodle. The food in Chengdu is much more delicious than in Beijing. 

My original plan was to visit Panda Research and Breeding Base, but it was already pass mid day and it required 1.5 hours to reach the place so we changed our plan to People’s Park (Ren Ming Gong Yuan). I didn’t prepare for this plan B at Chengdu. I didn’t know how to go to People’s Park. Good thing a shop owner beside our hotel is nice. I asked the direction and she told me clearly. We hopped to bus no. 57 and got off at People’s Park. The bus ride was only took about 5 minutes.

It was a really hot day. 35 Celsius degrees, the sun was shining so brightly and no wind at all! Being at People’s park was quite convenient since the place was green and had many big trees. The park was quite packed with local people. Some were boating on the lake, some were enjoying their leisure time at tea house, others were playing mahjong, etc.

tea house entrance


We spent about 2 hours there then we went to Tianfu Square. It took about 10 minutes walk. There is a big Mao statue in front of Sichuan Science and Technology Museum located across the road of Tianfu Square. This must be the heart of the city. The buildings here are modern, well maintained and the development is fast in that area. Around Tianfu Square there are many malls and some other big buildings under construction. Since it was so hot, we spent most of our afternoon inside the malls. 

I suggest to visit Tianfu Square at night after the sun set, you can see beautiful lighting there (I see the picture in the internet). Actually I wanted to stay there until dark to see the lighting, but it was summer and the sun set at 8 pm. There was nothing we can do anymore, so we decided to go back to the hotel at 5.30 pm. Just by then I realized that I forgot to ask the shop owner how to go back to the hotel. We went back to People’s Park then tried to ask people around there. Thank God we met a really kind young lady, we showed her our hotel business card and she helped us called the hotel to ask for direction. She told us to take bus no. 5 and got off at Ba something (sorry I forget the bus stop name). The station was only 3 stations away.

We reached hotel at 6.00 pm. Since we didn’t know other place to have dinner, we ate at the same noodle house but this time I had non spicy beef noodle. We spent the rest of the day resting at hotel. A long road trip was waiting for us the next day

Local tour – RMB 3900
Spicy fried beef noodle (small) – RMB 6
Bus – RMB 2 (I think they also have one fare only, just like MRT in Beijing)
Non spicy beef noodle – RMB 8

Thursday, September 20, 2012

[Mobile App] Visit Korea 2.0

*This review is requested by EC21 Inc. Korea

Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) has released their new version of Visit Korea mobile application. This app contains of useful information about Korea and Korea travel.

I like the interface of this app. The design is simple yet elegant. The most important thing, this app is in English. They have all information about things you need when you travel to Korea, such as attraction, food, accommodation, shopping, transportation and other useful information.

Friday, September 14, 2012

China Trip Day 2 : Beijing

Itinerary : Mutianyu Great Wall – Qianmen square

How to go to Mutianyu Great Wall : From Wangfujing station take line 1 (red line) and get off at Jianguomen Station then transit to line 2 (blue line) and get off at Dongzhimen station. Exit from exit B then make a U turn, walk straight to the traffic light then turn left, walk straight to the Dongzhimen outside bus stop. Take bus no. 867 (direct bus) and get off at Mutianyu Great Wall.
Note : There are 2 bus terminals in Dongzhimen, inside and outside. Make sure you go to the outside one. When you find the entrance of inside bus stop (a big building with many buses), do not go inside. Just keep walking about 10 meters and you’ll find outside bus stop.

We departed at 8.00 from hotel. It was hard for me to find the bus terminal. When we arrived at Dongzhimen station, a tourist guide told us to take other bus number (sorry I forget the number). She said it’s faster than bus no 867 but have to transit to a minibus. I told her that I prefer the direct bus and she told me the direction but not so clear. I asked some people and they all directed me to the inside one. I didn’t noted that it was supposed to be the outside bus terminal. We went inside but I couldn’t find bus no 867. I asked an officer and she said the bus is outside. So we went outside again and finally I found the outside bus stop. The line for bus no.867 is at the end of bus terminal.

Direct bus to Mutianyu only departed twice a day, at 7.00 and 9.00 am. I was afraid the bus left because I spent too much time looking for the bus terminal. When we entered the bus terminal an officer screamed at me, I mean literally screamed because I was still about 10 meters away from her, and asked where we want to go. I said Mutianyu. She told me to queue in her line. The queue was already long at that time but the bus haven’t arrived yet. We met some people from Indonesia there who also went to Mutianyu. It felt really good to be able to speak in my mother language with other people.

It costs RMB 6.4/way if you use Yi Ka Tong but if you buy the ticket on board it costs RMB 16/way. Finally the bus arrived at about 9.20 am. The bus was not so big and the seats are less than the people. People who didn’t get seat have to stand up along the way. It took 2.5 hours to reach Mutianyu so yeah, I stood for 2.5 hours.

Arrived at Mutianyu court yard, we bought Subway for lunch. Thank God Subway is available there. Along the way to the great wall, the path is an upward slope and it’s quite steep. Souvenirs stalls are packed at the right and left side. Not so far, you can find the ticket booth at the right side, right at the front of stone museum. You can buy the entrance ticket and ride ticket there as well. There are 4 ways to go up to the great wall, closed cable car, open cable car, toboggan and hiking the stairs. We chose the closed cable car. I wanted to go down by toboggan, but it’s not allowed for old people. So me and my mom bought 2 ways cable car.

The cable car ride wasn’t long. It was only about 5 minutes I guess. My first impression of the great wall was it is really a great great wall. I was lucky when I was there it was a cloudy day. No sunlight at all. The weather was just perfect! I love love love Mutianyu Great Wall. Unlike Badaling, Mutianyu isn’t crowded, that was why I chose Mutianyu instead of Badaling. I haven’t been to Badaling but by seeing the pictures in the internet, I passed. Badaling is the closest part to Beijing and most tours go there, that’s why that section is the most crowded.

I went to the left side of the great wall. If you go down by Toboggan, I suggest to take the right side because the toboggan is located on the right. The path at the left is harder that the right side. My mom gave up when we arrived at first tower. So she headed back to a court yard near cable station and I continued alone. Make sure to wear a very comfortable walking or running shoes, some of the slopes and stairs are steep.

If you want, you can climb a really long stair to go to high place that said to have a magnificent view of great wall at the far left. I wanted to but I didn’t have much time at great wall so after about 6 towers I went back to cable car station. I was there for only about 1 hour and that wasn’t enough. I must come back there again someday. I want to go to that high place at the far left then go back, continue with the right path and go down with toboggan :D The bus to Beijing also available only twice a day, at 2.00 and 4.00 pm. I caught the 2.00 pm bus. This time there were not as many people as the departure so all of the passengers got seat. The last bus at 4.00 pm must be crowded then.

How to go to Qianmen square : Take bus no.867 to Dongzhimen outside bus terminal then go to Dongzhimen station, take line 2 (blue line) and get off at Qianmen station. Exit from exit C, turn left, cross the road via underground passage and walk straight to Mc Donald. The right and left streets are Qianmen Square.

I really like Qianmen Square more than Wangfujing. I felt the atmosphere is more relax and friendly. The right and left side of the street are packed with hostels, food, street snacks, tea and souvenir stalls. The buildings are all in traditional model. For the souvenirs, they have all item RMB 5 and RMB 10 stores. Very cheap. The food price in Qianmen is way cheaper than Wangfujing. Me, my mom and 2 Indonesian people we met at Mutianyu had dinner together there. We had steamboat. The soup was actually bland so we had to add more soy sauce and eggs. The nut sauce was also salty so we added more sugar into it. We ordered many ingredients for the steamboat : beef, pork, tofu, fish tofu, 3 kinds of vegetables, tofu cake, noodle, and a kind of fried food that I don’t know the name, each 1 plate. Each plate was in quite big portion and they had a very reasonable price.

Subway – RMB 28
Mutianyu entrance ticket – RMB 45
Return cable car ticket – RMB 80
Steamboat – RMB 160