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Journey To Verne’s Copenhagen April 22, 2008

Posted by finallywoken in Around The World.
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The article is writen in 2005
Eva C. Komandjaja, The Jakarta Post, Copenhagen*

Most people associate Denmark with famous author Hans Christian Andersen, or maybe the brilliant scientist Niels Bohr, who discovered the atomic theory, or probably rock band Metallica’s drummer Lars Ulrich, but I found Denmark between the pages of a Jules Verne book titled A Journey to the Center of the Earth.

The book, which I read over and over from the age of 15, told how Professor Lidenbrock and his nephew Axel, the main characters of the story, took their preparations here before moving to isolated Iceland where their journey began. (lebih…)

Living Above The Arctic Circle April 19, 2008

Posted by finallywoken in Around The World.
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This article is written by
Mulia Nurhasan, the blog owner of
My Process of Learning.

tromso-17-april-2008.JPG

See the picture above? Beautiful isn’t it? C’on..you have got to admit. And I didn’t take it from a tourism site or top of a mountain. It’s just from my window, few minutes ago 😀 , 2.22 PM local time.

I live in Tromso, they say it’s the capital of the north. Capital, yea rite, we are only 64,782 people here. Hehe. It’s 300 km above the arctic circle. Do you know what that means? It means during summer, we have no moon and during winter we have no sun. AT ALL!!!

(lebih…)

Little Known Facts About Belgium April 19, 2008

Posted by finallywoken in Around The World.
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This article is written by
Rima Fauzi M.A., the blog owner of A Chocoholic’s Piece of Mind.


When people think of Europe, they usually think Paris, London, Amsterdam, Berlin, Rome, Geneva or Vienna. Most Indonesian visiting Europe will most likely visit those cities and pass those, albeit lovely, but less famous or even somewhat obscure.

I live in Brussels, the capital of Belgium, a gem located between the Netherlands, France, Luxembourg and Germany. This is one of the less famous European cities people should visit besides the five above.

Besides being the country’s capital, Brussels is also the capital of the European Union, the heart of Europe. Although Belgium is not famous for a lot of things except maybe for its’ waffles, Brussels sprouts, beers and chocolate, it is the home of many great things and people. Among many are the legendary Jacques Brel, Django Reindhardt, Toots Thielemans and my favorite detective, Hercule Poirot.

(lebih…)

Philippine Visa – On Arrival April 9, 2008

Posted by Jun in Uncategorized.
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Not that I am an expert on Philippine or anything, but it is the only country I am exposed to right now. I really hate beareaucratic platform of foreign relation and immigration relation. They are really not my favourite kind of people, seriously. I shuddered whenever I think of what I and D (my husband) go through each month when he was living here in Medan with me. Anyway, that is another story for another time.

I was off to the Philippine feeling very confident that I would not need visa of anykind. Well, guess again. The visa on arrival is indeed free but only lasted for 21 days. So I needed a Visa Waiver that would entitled me to stay for 59 days for PHP 3,030 (around USD 75). The waiver can be obtained in any travel agencies or local rep of Bureau of Immigration. You just need to fill up two forms and they will stamp the passport for you. Very easy, the whole process took me less than 15 minutes to complete. I would say the country is very friendly to people who want to stay longer there.

Now I am back in the country to work on the spouse visa which has to be picked up outside of the country. Again, another story for another time.

Whale Shark Watching April 9, 2008

Posted by Jun in Uncategorized.
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The only internationally renowned tourism attraction in this part of the Philippines is the Whale Shark watching (or Butanding for locals, in Bicol). Donsol – a seaside town – one hour drive away from Legazpi City. The whale sharks can be seen in the bordering seas, is the largest number of recorded sightings of whale sharks anywhere in the world. This largest fish can be seen around February to March each year. Swimming with whale sharks was featured in Time Magazine as the “Best Animal Encounter in Asia” in 2004.

whaleshark.jpg

Our shark encounter adventure was last weekend. We drove to one of the many resorts, next to Donsol Tourism Office for tourists. We were required to register personal information and stated which of the attraction we were going to do. Butanding interaction or Butanding sightseeing. We teamed up with other couples – so the whole experience cost about USD 130 for a boat, a guide and some crews. Excluding the rental of snorkeling equipment such as mask, snorkle and fins

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Donsol Tourism Office

About 6 boats set out to the sea, each boat has one spotter who stands at the top of the sail searching for the shark. It is as big as a house, so very easy to be sighted. He said he was only looking for a moving shadow on the sea. When one spotter see one, all the boats will close in and swimmers will jump off the boat and start swimming towards the shark.

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the glimpse of the Shark that I saw – once only

As a coward as I am, and also no snorkeling and flipper handling experience whatsoever, I freaked quite a number of times and the guide had to stay by me most of the time. I only saw the shark once, when the guide pulled me under the water and made me see one who swam right beneath us. It was gigantic. Thankfully, they are plankton-eating fish. There was like more than 20 dives only in 3 hours’ time. Very busy. At the end of the trip, I was one of the crew of the boat, helping people got on to the boat. D had seen more than 5 sharks, and the other Australian couple actually dived and swam alongside the sharks.

There were boats with Asian tourists (Japanese and Taiwanese, I presumed). The passengers looked as scared as I was, stayed put in the boat with life jackets on. Never once got off the boat. They were just observers. When the western tourists like my husband and his friends were jumping on and off the boats like maniacs chasing the sharks here and there. That was too funny!

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D in the water – first from left – false alarm and the neighbouring boat full of divers

So tips for other wild-life fanatics before going on the trip :

Learn to snorkle properly. Wear decent swimwear. Bikinis are not cool. Lots of sun block. Bring some snack and water on board. Bring water resistant camera (we bought one of those disposable ones – not yet developed) . Rental equipments are quite dodgy, if possible bring your own.

It will so worth it.

Is There Any Indonesian Expat Male Bloggers Out There? April 3, 2008

Posted by finallywoken in Uncategorized.
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I have been consistently blogwalking everyday, trying to find Indonesian bloggers who live abroad or have ever lived overseas, to list them in our Expat Blog section. One thing I notice, while it is very easy to find Indonesian female expat bloggers, male bloggers are like a rare gem: you know it’s there, you can see the glitz, but you can’t reach it. It feels like they live in a different parallel universe!

Since I never list people’s blog without their prior authorization, I usually leave comment or send email to the blog owner. Female bloggers are usually very responsive and positively support the idea, and quickly say yes to my proposal. I don’t have such luck with male bloggers though. They’re difficult to find, and seldom to respond my query.

Not that it matters so much, though. Some people choose to remain anonymous and by their pseudonyms we couldn’t guess whether they are male or female. But glancing at this growing expat blog list, I begin to wonder: Is there any Indonesian expat male bloggers out there?

Let me know if you know one!

Embracing the Foreign Food Culture Maret 31, 2008

Posted by finallywoken in Being Expat.
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Imagine the first you arrived in a foreign land, you didn’t know where to go to get food, everything looks strange, and in some cases, you don’t understand the language! What did you do? Either heading towards Chinese restaurants, or fast food chains. Right? (lebih…)

Driving in a Foreign Country Maret 28, 2008

Posted by finallywoken in Being Expat.
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Ok. I have to admit. I had my first driving license in Indonesia when I was 17. I should have been 18, so yes I cheated a little bit. On age part. But then I didn’t take the test. That’s a big cheating. Just like most of people, I was suckered into the corrupted system, just pay and go home. Bam, new driving license.

When I lived in Sydney, I did not have to drive. First, the campus was only 5 minutes walk. And second, hmm, don’t really need one, really. I actually did a long drive in New Zealand, from Christchurch to Queenstown. It was lovely and quiet, we drove on the same side of the road as in Indonesia, so there was no problem of adjusting.

But now I live in UK, I have to have a UK driving license, after a year living here. (lebih…)

What’s in A Name? Februari 27, 2008

Posted by finallywoken in Being Expat.
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I have received an email from an Indonesian lady who recently has just got married to a Scotsman. She was asking me, referring to my post in my original blog (What’s in A Name?), if I successfully add my new last name, officially, in formal documents, like passport or any other IDs.

But before that, it’s a good thing to ensure that her marriage is legal in both countries – UK and Indonesia.

(lebih…)

Living in A Foreign Country… Is It Always Better? Februari 26, 2008

Posted by finallywoken in Being Expat.
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This article was originally posted in Finally Woken on 29 October 2007.

I received an email from my friend the other day. She’s one of the few Indonesians who could hop on the plane and fly to the US when she’s fed up with what she’s encountered. Which means 1) she has money, 2) she has passport, and 3) most importantly, she has her visa ready. Nevertheless, she said that she’s so jealous to find out that I’ve been living outside Indonesia for several months now. She said that I’m so lucky, and is sure that I’m having a good time. That I must be relieved to get out Indonesia, or Jakarta in particular.

This is not the first time I received such comments. Several friends commented the same thing. Some even said I’m not meant to be living in Indonesia, that I’m better off somewhere else. Funnily enough, only my colleagues in L’Oréal reacted differently (when I said Scotland, they looked at me like I was out of my mind and said, “It’s really cold up there!”. Which means they know exactly where Scotland is – a plus point because most of Indonesians don’t). In general, the reactions I’ve received so far is a mixture of amazement and jealousy, that I finally can get out of Indonesia.

Really? Is it true that everything is better outside Indonesia?

(lebih…)