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Hidup di Belanda Netherlands

Tips Berburu Padang Tulip di Belanda

27th April 2018 - 5 min read

Musim semi dateng lagiiii!!! Minggu lalu (17-23 April), cuaca di Belanda menghangat sampai 25 derajat. Tahun ini memang kerasa banget perbedaannya dengan tahun-tahun lalu. Tahun ini, musim dingin sangat panjang dan spring datang terlambat. Jadi saat Belanda menghangat, disitulah terlihat orang-orang Belanda bertebaran di luar.

Sebenernya sudah mulai akhir maret taman Keukenhof (taman tulip di Belanda yang terkenal) buka, tapi biasanya di minggu-minggu pertama tulipnya tidak berkembang dan berwarna maksimal. Mulai awal april, bunga semakin banyak berkembang dan puncaknya saat cuaca menghangat. Jadi saat kami berdua melihat weather forecast akan menghangat, Damar punya ide untuk bersepeda ke padang tulip. Kebetulan akhir pekan itu adalah akan menjadi akhir pekan kami sebelum Damar business trip selama 3 bulan.

Pertengahan April adalah waktu yang pas untuk jalan-jalan melihat bunga tulip. Ada dua macam cara untuk menikmati keindahan tulip, melalui Keukenhof atau mengunjungi langsung padang tulip yang dikelola langsung oleh petaninya. Kalau menurut saya Keukenhof memang worth untuk dikunjungi paling tidak sekali. Tapi padang tulip lebih memorable dan menarik untuk saya, dan kali ini saya memutuskan untuk sekali lagi berjalan kesana.

Keukenhof (+): 

  • Ramai
  • Tiketnya sekitar 17 euro
  • Terstruktur
  • Moda transportasi yang sudah dibuat untuk ke taman ini
  • Setiap tahunnya, Keukenhof memiliki tema-tema yang berbeda
  • It is beyond tulip. Banyak bunga-bunga lainnya dan bermacam varian.

Padang tulip petani (+)

  • GRATIS
  • Bebas
  • Banyak sekali spotnya dan bisa berpindah-pindah
  • Cenderung lebih sepi
  • Bagus untuk foto karena hamparan yang luas, hampir seperti ada di lautan Tulip
  • Bisa menikmatinya dengan bersepeda dan melihat alam sekitar
Belgium Hidup di Belanda Hidup Minimalis Life Travel

Caravan Trip to Ardennes

8th April 2018 - 9 min read

Akhir pekan lalu adalah akhir pekan yang panjang karena libur paskah. Keluarga saya dan keluarga kakak saya memutuskan untuk menyewa camper van untuk perjalanan ke Ardennes, Belgium. Ardennes adalah sebuah region yang terdiri dari wilayah hutan yang luas, medan yang naik turun, bukit yang terbentuk dari fitur geologis pegunungan Ardennes dan cekungan sungai-sungai yang mengelilingi. Perjalanan dari Den Haag tempat kakak saya tinggal memakan waktu sekitar 4 jam. Damar dan saya sudah lama sekali ingin berlibur menggunakan camper van dan begitu pula kakak saya. Perencanaan trip ini lumayan last minute, tapi semuanya berjalan dengan baik.

Soal camper van, katanya setengah populasi orang di Belanda ini punya camper van lho. Makanya jadi pengen nyoba the hype, apa sih yang bikin orang belanda seneng dengan kegiatan ini. Salah satunya ya karena bisa memboyong rumah mereka kemanapun mereka pergi dan tentunya faktor pelit/hemat 😛

Kami bertujuh, 5 adults (saya, damar, adek kami, kakak saya, suaminya) dan 2 anak kecil (anak-anak kakak saya) untuk camper bermuatan 6 orang. Untuk perjalanan pertama menggunakan camper, rasanya semua menyenangkan walau di awal-awal kami perlu benar-benar harus cek bahwa barang di dalam camper aman dan tidak akan bergerak mengikuti laju camper. Kami berangkat pukul 5 sore karena memang peraturan dari camptoo.nl dimana kita menyewa camper, camper hanya boleh dijemput di atas pukul 3 sore. Kebetulan camper yang kami pilih berlokasi di luar kota, jadi perjalanan penjemputan sendiri sudah cukup lama. Camptoo ini kurang lebih memiliki konsep sama dengan snapcar atau airbnb, jadi campernya milik orang dan disewakan saat tidak digunakan.

Di jalan lumayan mati gaya karena nggak bawa banyak mainan. Untung saya bawa buku dan earphone jadi bisa dengar podcast saat yang lain tidur. Setelah 5 jam di jalan, akhirnya kami pun sampai di camping site yang kami sudah book sebelumnya, namanya Parc La Clusure yang terletak di Bure (Tellin). Pemiliknya orang belanda, kami memutuskan menginap disitu karena ratingnya yang bagus plus tempatnya yang friendly untuk anak-anak. Fasilitasnya termasuk kolam renang, play ground di banyak titik, dan lain-lain. Setelah sampai, reception-nya sudah tutup tapi bisa bel dan salah satu dari kru mereka keluar untuk membantu kami cek in sekaligus menjelaskan hal-hal standar soal camp site mereka. Servisnya bagus dan ramah sekali..

Hal pertama yang harus dilakukan saat sampai di camping site adalah mengisi air dan menyambungkan ke listrik. Tujuan untuk mengisi air adalah untuk heating, kamar mandi, dapur, sedangkan menyambungkan listrik adalah untuk penerangan dan juga kulkas (yes mbak Vicka sudah menyiapkan banyak makanan yang pre-cook dari Belanda, jadi bisa runyam kalau sampai bermasalah dengan ini). Listrik oke, karena bisa dengan mudah dicolok di parkiran camper. Tapi karena hari sudah gelap, kami memutuskan untuk tidak pergi ke camper station untuk mengisi air toh juga karena kebetulan tempat sanitasi dekat sekali dari tempat parkir kami. Saat itu kami tidak tahu bahwa air juga berhubungan dengan sistem pemanas. Alhasil, semalaman kami mengginggil kedinginan, untung beberapa dari kami membawa sleeping bag. Lesson learned: Always consider these things! dan karena ini bukan camper kami sendiri, selalu make sure gimana cara kerja hal-hal esensial seperti ini.

DAY  1

Kami bangun lumayan siang hari itu, kayanya masih kecapaian dari perjalanan panjang. Note: Kita nggak boleh tiduran di kasur selama perjalanan walaupun kasurnya lega dan keliatan enak banget ditidurin. Dan karena ada 2 anak-anak yang wajib pake car seat, akhirnya saya, Damar dan Giras duduk dempet-dempetan di kursi yang seharusnya buat 2 orang hahaha. Lelah lah rasa otot-ototnya. Sekitar pukul 09.30 pagi, kami mulai beraktivitas, ada yang mandi, isi air, siapkan makan dll.

Aktivitas hari itu adalah HIKING. Dan ternyata daerah di camping site itu indah sekali, tipikal keindahan Ardennes. Mereka punya rute khusus sejauh 4 km (still okay for kids – Mbak Qila sama dek Dina itungannya hebat, harus selalu disemangatin). Dan kami pun mengikuti rute itu. Bagus banget nget nget ngettttt. Serasa kaya di New Zealand. Beruntung banget pagi itu cuaca cerah dan matahari nggak malu-malu keluar.

Total kira-kira kami berjalan sambil menikmati selama 2-3 jam. Nggak lama setelah kami sampai kembali di camping site, hujan mengguyur dan nggak berhenti-berhenti sampai malam.

Tips: Bawa bekal (minum dan makan), maps, dan extra sunscreen. Rute 4km is super worth it!

DAY 2

Kami berencana ke kota sebelah yang bernama Rochefort yang nggak kalah cantiknya. Disitu terletak gua Grotte de Han yang masih aktif (masih membentuk stalaktit dan stalakmit, juga ditinggali tumbuhan dan binatang) dan menarik sekali karena perjalanan ke gua-nya harus dengan kereta (sudah termasuk di harga tiket). Gua itu adalah hasil dari erosi bawah tanah bukit batu kapur oleh sungai Lesse. Di dalamnya sepertia sungai berliku-liku. Di area ini nggak hanya gua dan jalan kereta yang menarik tapi juga hutannya karena kita bisa melihat banyak binatang-binatang (tiger, babi hutan, beruang dll) yang pastinya dipagari tanpa menghilangkan habitatnya. Safari ini bisa dilakukan berjalan kaki ataupun dengan kereta. Juga ada playground besar untuk anak-anak main. Semuanya happy! Hanya saja hari itu hawanya dingiiiin, sampai saya kembung hahaa.

Caravan-Trip-Ardennes-Hiking

Main di playground

Kami kembali ke penginapan sekitar pukul 7 sore dan dilanjutkan dengan makan dan istirahat untuk siap-siap bangun pagi keesokan harinya. Rencana keesokan hari adalah berfoto dengan camper van di salah satu titik tinggi untuk menunjukkan keindahan alamnya. Kami semua harus bergegas karena peraturan camptoo untuk pengembalian adalah selambat-lambatnya pukul 12 siang. Itu pun kami terlambat dan hasilnya dicharge ekstra satu hari. Peraturan tetep peraturan, ah yasudahlah.. yang penting kami semua have fun!

Tips: Beli tiket di tempat kamu menginap karena lebih murah dan tidak perlu antre.

Caravan-Trip-Ardennes-Grotte-de-Han Caravan-Trip-Ardennes-Grotte-de-Han

Rincian biaya pengeluaran (4 hari 3 malam, 6 people*)

Sewa Camper Van                  : €231
Denda keterlambatan            : € 72
Bensin                                       : € 100
Makan                                       : € 50
Camp Site                                 : € 180
Cave entrance (+safari)         : € 155
Total                                       : € 788

Biaya per hari per orang        : € 43,7

*2 kids dihitung jadi 1

Tips and trick

  • Siapkan makanan dan bahan makanan, kelebihan dari camper van adalah nggak ada maksimal bawa barang. Jadi bebas! Meal planning dan meal prep play a big role untuk berhemat uang dan waktu.
  • Cek cuaca untuk bersiap bawa perbekalan. Sleeping bag akan sangat berguna di waktu-waktu dingin in case heater-nya mati. Kalau cuacanya bagus bisa bawa barbeque, kalau cuacanya jelek bisa bawa ekstra peralatan bersih-bersih haha
  • Bawa lighter untuk menyalakan kompor.
  • Bawa mainan atau time killer (ipod, buku, dll) untuk road trip.
  • Bawa bantal, sprei dan selimut
  • Siapkan wadah untuk sampah
  • Untuk reduce sampah plasti di perjalanan dengan camper: Bawa masing-masing botol minum, cuttlery dan kotak makan untuk bekal. Karena untungnya di dalam camper kami sudah tersedia peralatan makan.
  • Di camping site kami, wifi hanya bisa digunakan oleh satu orang. Bisa bawa router untuk memecah wifi.
  • Pergilah dengan orang yang kamu nyaman, karena lingkupnya bakal disitu-situ aja. Gak banyak tempat untuk escape. So bringing intimate friends or family adalah pilihan yang baik.
  • Bawa sabun cuci piring dan sponge-nya!!!

All in all, it was a very cool experience!!! Selamat mencoba!! I’d say this is one of the things to do before you leave Netherlands 😉

Africa Morocco Travel

What to pack for Sahara desert trip

25th December 2017 - 6 min read
What to pack for Sahara desert trip

On our trip to Morocco, we took our time to also visit the greatness Sahara desert in Zagora. No matter which desert you went, there are several things you have to keep in mind. Look at also the weather forecast and simply the season when you will be there. This post explains in detailed on what we learnt during desert trip and what to pack for Sahara desert trip.

The season in Morocco is divided as follows*:

Low (May–Sep): Although this is summer, there are lots of discounts in accommodation and souqs. This is Ramadan and sacrifice day period.

Medium (Apr & Oct)Spring sandstorms in the Sahara and persistent rain in the north; popular elsewhere. Accommodation prices and demand jump around Easter.

High Season (Nov–Mar)Spring and autumn are the most popular times to visit. Accommodation prices are highest. Marrakesh and the south are popular at Christmas and New Year, but the north of the country can be chilly and wet.

We went during the so called high season period even though the price ticket was really cheap and accommodation was fair too. I think it applies around the busy Christmas and New year period literally. We went in the beginning of December and it was still perfect. While in the beginning of winter, the weather could be warm during the day (18-25) but drastically drop at night (7-10). Even though the winter in Morocco is fairly warmer than Europe, it can’t be categorised as warm. Never underestimate this.

  • Sport shoes

    It is very tricky to walk on the desert sand. Wearing sandals and open shoes will not help but burdening you as the sands particle will get in and you constantly need to clean it. Some other reasons is the camel ride. Camel is higher than you think, so you want to get rid of worries that your shoes might lose considering the bumpy ride. I personally think the good grip of the inside shoes are important to give extra support to walk in the sand texture. Some parts might require you to hike, so sport shoes is really a must!! Bring sandals to take shower or go to toilet.

  • Comfortable backpack

    There will be some times that requires you to ride camels. Although luggage is allowed and somehow possible to bring along on the camel, having comfortable bag (or backpack) will enable you to forget and merely enjoy the ride. I remembered I was a bit worried because my cabin bag was not properly tightened on the camel. That made me extra cautious and wanted to pay extra attention to the bag. If you have a base stay in Marrakech or somewhere else, I would recommend to just bring what’s important and leave the rests behind.

  • Flashlight

    There are not so much lights at night. The main source of light is literally stars and bonfire. Flashlight is to be used for extra sights.

  • Jeans or comfortable pants

    Shorts & skirts are not recommended. The camel saddles might cause itchiness and skin irritation. Also, it’s more comfortable to wear pants for any ride in general.

  • Sunscreen

    During the day, the sun can be very hot and hitting your skin.

  • Appropriate clothes

    Morocco is considered as a religious country, which means we need to be mindful to dress up. This also applies in the Sahara desert and its surrounding villages. The women should always cover the arms and knees up. Men needs to cover up the shoulders and above the knee.

    Warm clothes for winter season, this is also part of dress appropriately. Never underestimate winter in the desert, it is cold, dry, and windy. I do think the sand absorbs coldness and a spread agent. The tents do not have heater as it’s just a simple one made of thick garments.

  • A headscarf or hat and sunglasses

    This will be very helpful to cover your face from sun and dust. Desert can be very windy and your eyes will not be absent in getting some small of sands.

  • Sanitary

    At some nights, it will be too cold to take shower and sometimes the hot water will not work properly. This is when we tissue come to the rescue to freshen up your body quickly. I will also bring moisturiser and hand sanitiser everywhere, just in case 😉

  • Bottle water

    The tents provide bottle water with more expensive price. It is better to buy bottles of water before arrival. Also, I believe the supply to desert is more limited than in the city. Also, be mindful in using tap water because they have very limited sources in the middle desert.

  • Camera and phone charges

    This will be by default things to pack, just in case not, this will remind you. Desert is very majestic like no other views you see everyday (this is basically what I always say everywhere I go). Everywhere we go is different and worth memorising. Capturing the moment is what truly will remind us to be grateful and stay open.

*Source

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/morocco/weather

Africa Milestone Morocco

4 Days Morocco Itinerary Tips and Stories

16th December 2017 - 14 min read
4 days Morocco Itinerary tips and Stories

Morocco has always been a place in my list. Its berberian building and mosaic tiles are what prettified my 3 years vision board. This trip was a surprise trip (which almost failed) for Damar’s birthday. We made an agreement not to give each other’s gift this year, especially after buying a house and big next year’s travel plan. But, the flight ticket deal was absolutely irresistible. Usually we always plan the trip and itinerary together, this time I had to do it by myself (yes, very challenging to be decisive for me). In this post, I would like to share our Morocco itinerary tips and stories. Note that this travel is in budget and I’ll also share roughly our expense in upcoming post.

DAY 1 – Marrakech

We stayed over night in Tulip Inn hotel just right above Eindhoven airport. It is because we took the very first flight from Eindhoven to Morocco on that Sunday. Public transportation only starts operating at 8 am on Sunday. However, it paid off! Because the good thing about having first flight is that we don’t lose a day in Morocco and was able to enjoy the rest of our first day there. The flight was smooth and took 3 hours 45 minutes. I found it fascinating that in 4 hours away, we arrived in a whole complete different continent, Africa.

Once we arrived we immediately took BUS number 19 (read here why we took the bus). It only took 25 minutes to Jemaa El-Fna. Unlike other airports which location is in the outskirt of the city, this one it is quite close to the city. It is quite nearby Gueliz, the modern ‘new town’ of Marrakech. I wish I had more time to visit and try out its wide range of food. It is amazing to know that beyond the borders of the historical old town (Medina), there is a modern town. It was designed and developed by the French in the early 1900s and the French influences are obvious in stark difference in the design of the area.

We went straight to the Bab Doukkala (the stop of our stay (Riad Itry – from hostel world) which is 5 minutes away from Jemaa El-Fna square. We were already guided with the direction from our hostel on where we should go. Even so, we almost got scam on our way (read more for story and how to avoid it) Tips: Always follow the guidance, it is usually very clear or turn your GPS. Do not let other people who ‘pretend’ to be nice and want to show you the way. Always take your guard up. Believe in yourself or call your hostel for help.

We got tips for our kind hostel keeper to avoid people in the street who try to approach us. To be polite we can say ‘La, Syukron” (no, thank you) or just ignore and walk away (according to him, it is more effective). He also reminded that the price in the Souk (souq or souk is a marketplace in North African cities) is never a fix price. If you ever want to purchase something, be confident and do not let the shop owner play the mind trick. The mind trick here would be “acting” offended saying your bargain price is too low etc. Know how much you want to spend on stuff. To be safer, you can always secretly take picture and ask your hostel keeper once back in your stay how much that stuff usually worth.

We walked around Bab Doukkala to get some lunch, I was super starving that time that we just went in to a restaurant. It was the only restaurant we saw putting their menu and price clearly outside. It ended up not so bad (read more here). First time “tagine” experience in North Africa. While waiting for our food, we suddenly heard azan (islamic call to prayer). I missed that too much. We were used to it back in our home country (Indonesia). Such a beautiful sound! Please scare not, it has such a meaningful message.

We continued walking toward Koutubia Mosque (biggest mosque in Morocco) which is nearby Jemaa El-Fna. If you are moslem and have time, use the opportunity to pray there. It is always magical feeling to experience that in different country with different culture. You’ll be amazed on how normality is not existing anymore. Your way is not normal and you have to adapt on your surrounding, ALWAYS!

IMG_6379

Koutubia Mosque

That is what I learn so much with traveling. To be more opened and understand people better. Unfortunately, I did not have the chance to pray in Morocco (you know why ;)) but Damar did and people around him did not take eyes off of him. He was also taught to do wudu (cleaning before praying) in the ‘correct’ way. Hahahha. Our routine is not theirs, theirs are not ours, but as my dad always says ‘never feel the most righteous, keep open minded’.

After spending sometimes and taking bunch of pictures in Koutubia Mosque, we went along to Jemaa El-Fna which was just 2 minutes walking distance from the mosque. I started hearing the sound of Moroccon instrument and vendors cheering. It was quite chaotic I must say, so many people, if you’re not used to it, it could be overwhelming. You’d quickly adjust though, don’t be afraid and smile. I was a bit scared then remember how blessed I was to be standing in that square really. Never had I dreamed when I was a kid, I would arrive in this point.

First thing first, ORANGE JUICE. They would all whistle at you and give you smoothie tester. I’d say stick with orange juice and pomegranate. I tried the mango which tasted sugar sweet. After the shot, we walked around the souk and all of the sudden I looked up and saw how beautiful the sky was! The color was just as terracotta as the typical Moroccan building. I trully admire it. I am sure there is something magical with sky in Morocco.

After getting lost and enjoying azan+sunset, we sat in a cafe and have moroccan mint tea. I saw so many guys by themselves (did not see much women in general) having their tea time. They take this rather seriously. At night for dinner, we got our food on our way and went home because the next day the desert tour driver would pick us up at 7 am.

DAY 2 and 3 – Sahara desert

We spent the whole day in Zagora desert which the details I would dedicate in my upcoming post. The desert was not closeby! It was 7 hours drive. We crossed the high atlast mountains and visit Kasbah Ait Ben Hadou which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a place where traditional Saharan habitat used to live. At the moment there were still 4 families living there. We had an hour tour continued with lunch and continued driving along Draa Valley. After arriving in the desert, we met our camel friends which brought us to an hour ride to our tents.

We left the next day to the desert early after sunrise and breakfast heading to Ouarzazate and eventually Marrakech. It was an incredible experience even in a short time.

 

4 days Morocco Itinerary tips and Stories

4 days morocco itinerary tips and stories

DAY 4 – Marrakech

We started to do the tour ourselves from El Badi Palace, Tombeaux des Saadiens, Bahia Palace, Ben Youssef Madrasa (but closed when we were there), and Jardin Majorelle.

El Badi palace is a ruined palace that is used to be a display of best craftmanship in Saadian period. I imagined how was the setting and the hardwork back then. This needed 25 years to complete!

4 days Morocco Itinerary tips and Stories 4 days Morocco Itinerary tips and Stories

Bahia Palace means (palace of the beautiful, the brilliant) is a 19th century palace of eight hectares. It is one of the masterpieces of Moroccan architecture. This place is genuinely mesmerizing, out of the 3 (El Badi, Bahia, Tombeaux des Saadiens), this was my favorite. It is brilliant, just like its name. Capturing every little details will not fit a day.

4 days Morocco Itinerary tips and Stories 4 days Morocco Itinerary tips and Stories

4 days Morocco Itinerary tips and Stories

Tombeaux des Saadiens is grave of Ahmad Al-Mansur and family. The most famous is the room with the twelve columns. This room contains the grave of the son of the sultan’s son, Ahmad Al-Mansur. Outside the building is a garden and the graves of soldiers and servants.

4 days Morocco Itinerary tips and Stories

Ben Youssef Madrasa is islamic college in Marrakesh, named after the Almoravid sultan Ali ibn Yusuf (reigned 1106–1142), who expanded the city and its influence considerably. It is the largest madrasa in all of Morocco! Too bad, it closed for construction when we were there.

Jardin Majorelle is a place that I was always curious to see. This one needed 40 years to be completed, can you imagine? This garden contains many sahara plants (cactus etc). It is full of green plants color, and Morocco color in the building (cobalt blue from indigo and yellow from saffron). This was designed and built by French painter Jacques Majorelle and then rescued/bought over by Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge on 2010.

4 days Morocco Itinerary tips and Stories 4 days Morocco Itinerary tips and Stories 4 days Morocco Itinerary tips and Stories

Where to stay in Marrakech

Try to stay in Riad if you want to have full Morroco trip experience. Riad is traditional Moroccan house or palace with an interior garden or courtyardI’d suggest to not stay far from Jemaa El-Fnaa or in the old town (Medina) if you want to have much easy access to the places in the center. Everywhere is quite walking distance anyway. But staying in the city ease the access to get to food and attractions.

The second Riad we stayed is very much recommendable. The name is Riad La Caleche. It is affordable, nice staff, clean space, free breakfast and service to drop/pick up from the airport.

What you should go and try if you have more time in Marrakech

HAMAM / Spa – A bath is a type of public bathing associated with the culture of the Ottoman Empire and more widely the Islamic world

Cooking class – It will be amazing to learn cooking from the local master chef especially if you are like who love food. Check some of the options in here 

Dar si Said – A monument to Moroccan mâalems (master artisans), the residence of Bou Ahmed’s brother Si Said. The highlight of a visit here is the spectacular painted and domed wedding-reception chamber flanked by flower-painted musicians’ balconies; credits to artisans from Fez.

House of Photography (La Maison de La Photographia) –  It contains a large collection of pictures and documents gathered during the period 1870 to 1960 mostly by anonymous visitors and some very well-known photographers. Many people say the restaurant/cafe above is worth paying visit.

Gueliz – The modern ‘new town’ of Marrakech

Morocco Itinerary (Downloadable)

 

Africa Morocco Travel

Common scams in Marrakech and how to avoid them

9th December 2017 - 12 min read
common scams in Marrakech and how to avoid them

Besides its beauty and uniqueness, Marrakech is the type of destination that you have to keep your guard up at all times and well informed before hand. There are a lot of scams around you that is sometimes hard to tell until you experience it yourself. My friends who have been to Morocco either despise it or love it. Too bad that bad experiences caused of scams get many people to pass bad judgement on an amazing country and people. Just remember that the scammers are doing these because they are trying to live by in very poor conditions.

I have to say, at the end of the day it is about expectation management. Research and read what to expect in a new place you go. Even myself, I learnt and read a lot of articles about scam Morocco, and I almost fell into some. So, I thought it might be handy to share for you who are going or still dreaming to go. Note: It is definitely not a reason for you not to go and explore Marrakech or Morocco in general.  Do your research before, know what to look out for, and you will be fine.

Most of these scams are pretty harmless and won’t cost you more than a couple of coins. However they might leave you feel ashamed and mad. Sellers or scammers are aggressive: true, but not all Moroccans are like that. It is absolutely not part of their culture!

Ok, so basically, every scams that I had read are a real thing! It’s either happened to us or to other tourists around me. Here are the most common ones. I hope this list does not scare you but instead make you travel easier.

1. Taxi drivers

Once we exit the airport, we had to search for where the bus was at. I was a little bit reluctant to ride a bus, because of the scams fear etc. However, it’s the taxi which could get you into scams. All the taxis will call you out, insist to go with their taxi and if they figure you look for the bus, they will say that the taxi price is the same with bus, which is not. Price should be not more than 50 dirham but they surely will ask for around 100-200 dirham. If you travel by yourself and want some extra security and guard, you better make the arrangement with your stay for airport pick up.

At the end of our journey, we did not have any other choice then to reserve a taxi (arranged by our hostel). Our flight was at 6.55 am so we had to leave our stay at 4 am. The night before we agreed with the hostel that the cost would be 15 euro (which we calculated to be 170 dirham but the hostel calculated to be 150 dirham). And to be honest, 180 dirham was our last cash.

At 4 am a taxi driver, who looks very nice and sincere, picked us up. Damar, with his initiative make sure that 150 is the price we had to pay. You know, just to get agreement beforehand. You know what he said????? He pointed the watch and said no, 200 dirham!!! But because our cash is literally limited, we said that we don’t have the money. I said we only had 180 dirham. He nodded and agreed.

Once we arrive, Damar only gave the 170 dirham because he could not find the 10 in his pocket. The man said, it’s okay. Well there you go! It was happy ending for us, but can you imagine if Damar did not ask, we would be surprised and did not know what to do. Although in our case, nothing much we could do because we literally had none.

Tips: Always make sure and make agreement in the beginning. Also, taxi price will never be the same with bus, that is for sure. However, I think it is different if you already know and you decide to do it anyway. It means you agree to pay more and I would suggest to agree with the price in the beginning!! Also bring GPS with you to check where this taxi driver brings you. It’s worth paying more credit.

Bus in the airport 

The bus is operated by a Spanish company, Alsa. The Airport Bus service is no. 19 transferring from the Marrakech Menara airport to the medina (ancient city) and Gueliz (new city) of Marrakech.  Bus number 19 is definitely the least expensive method of airport transfer. Price is 30 dirham one way and 50 dirham return ticket at time of initial purchase. It comes every 3o minute.

Good to know is, the approximate time from airport to centre is 20 mins.

Where to wait

It is definitely not in a quick glance. You have go towards packing lot and you will see big sign of BUS 19 there. You will not be the only waiting for the bus. If you do, not so long after you there will be people coming and waiting under that sign.

2. Helpful local

There are several things in this category, but the most common one is someone tries to help you getting a direction. Out of politeness and a stranger in a place, you tend to be polite and oblivious. They will come towards you, be friendly, ask you where you are from etc. And then they will offer to guide you and ask for a service fee at the end. What almost happened to us was someone tried to mislead us by showing another turn. I almost fell into it, but Damar was confident with the direction from our hostel and generally his sense of direction is much better than me. So I followed.

Apparently after arriving to the hostel, the keeper told us to be careful with someone who pretend to want to show the way. Which was exactly what happened to us. The guy who tried to detour us would have showed up in our confusion and offer to find a way. He would take you to the “labyrinth” and made a complex route. It could be quadrupled longer than it should have been. At the end, they made you think that it’s impossible to find the place without their help. That is when they ask for money.

Tips: Walk around confidently (even if you are lost) and use GPS. They will still try and follow you. Our hostel keeper said the best way to avoid it is to just keep walking. Even saying ‘La, Syukron (no, thank you)’ will make them think they have chances and follow you even more. If you just smile and keep walking, after  5 meter, they will know you really are not interested.

3. Henna lady

I did not experience myself until the last day. Around Jemaa El-Fna there are a lot of Henna ladies. Some just sit and quietly offer, but some are really aggressive. I must say they get more aggressive and walk towards you at night. On our last night while walking in the middle of food stalls, the lady came over and offered henna. I said no, and she asked if i’d be interested tomorrow, well just to get away with it, I said sure. Then he took my hand and almost started drawing (to show what she can do) until I pulled my hand away quite roughly. I am sure she’d ask for money if that had happened.

Tips: If you are not interested, don’t come near it and do not take pictures. If you want to take the risk (fake henna, terrible drawing) be very clear with drawing you want and agree on price. If they happen to come towards you and ask, smile, say firm no and walk away. I’d suggest not to do in the square, if you really want it, go to Henna cafe not so far from the square.

4. Pictures (Snake, monkey)

When walking around Jemaa El-Fna square, there will be a lot of monkey handlers, cobra snakes performers etc. They will walk to you, put the animals around you and once you take pictures, they will ask money from you. Even you just enjoy from afar and take pictures, when they find out, they will force you to pay.

Tips: Do not go near it. Or if you want to take pictures, bargain the price first and agree before hand (10-20 dirham would make sense).

5. Restaurant or food stall

You go to the restaurant, check the menu and order. When it comes to pay the bill, the result is way more than what you ordered. The waitress would say you must read the menu wrong and showed different menu than you saw earlier.

Also, in the food stalls, if you receive food you don’t order. Never think it’s a complimentary food. They will add up at the end. This happened to us but I was conscious enough not to eat anything other than what I ordered.

Tips: Make a picture of every menu before you order so that if this happens you can show them the picture with the old prices.

6. Store visit / Tea offer

Usually in the rugs souk/market, the owners will invite you to sit down and have some tea. If you at the end refuse to buy anything, they’ll get angry and will ask you you pay for your tea. Usually it ends up with you buying something from their shop which you do not really want.

Tips: Avoid buying things in Jemaa El-Fna or buy with locals you know. If you are really interested with something, take picture (secretly) and ask your hostel keeper or local friend to price. You can use it as a base to bargain, if the sellers act like they get offended, don’t feel sorry, then they will realise that you know the price. If they invite for tea, just refuse it in the first place.

7. Toilet

Public toilet is free! There are scammers who appear at the entrance and demand a small fee.

Tips: Just pay with any coins you have and leave.

 

Emergency number to call

  • Police: 190 or 112
  • Police outside the city: 177
  • Ambulance: 150
  • Fire brigade: 15

Ignore the scams and enjoy the beauty of Marrakesh.

 

Other Morocco series

What to eat in Marrakech

Things to know before travelling to Morocco

Africa Culinary Morocco Travel

What to eat in Marrakech

8th December 2017 - 12 min read
What to eat in Marrakech

One of the great things in one’s place to try out is the culinary. It gives the sense of authenticity of a new place. Damar and I always take our time to taste the local food and adjust it with our taste bud. As we are from Indonesia and most of the food are rich in seasonings, Moroccan food are not at all hard to swallow. To be frankly speaking, its traditional local food is one of the things we remember the most.

There are things you should know before deciding to eat something in Marrakech. People can have very different opinions of the food in Morocco based on circumstance and the surroundings. Also, keep in mind that many of the best food in Marrakech, aren’t what you would think served in a “restaurants”.

These are our personal experience of food that we actually ate there along with the price and how we would rate it.

1.Terrace Cafe around Bab Doukkala

Good thing about Marrakech is that there are plenty of rooftops place to enjoy. We went to this place in our first day right after arriving. We ended up in this place due to hunger and somebody could not bear it anymore (read:me). This place was quite hidden from outside yet it had menu in the showcase with price so we knew what to expect.

We both wanted to taste Tagine (meal cooked in earthenware pot, which is named after) in our first day. So here what they look like. The waitress already took off the authentic cone-shaped lid.What to eat in Marrakech

It is chicken with vegetables with mild saffron spices sauce that tasted slightly like curry. It’s basically a mild curry. Damar expected more from this one (Price: 80 dirham, verdict: 6 of 10)

What to eat in Marrakech

It is called Kefta tagine which is minced meatballs with tomato sauce and eggs that were cracked right in the tagine itself. This one was pretty good. I like it more than Damar’s. (Price: 70 dirham, verdict: 7.5 of 10)

 2. Random Street food in Bab Doukkala

Our hostel keeper suggested to get food in Bab Doukkala area, because it’s not touristy hence worth the value. But then again, the risk is language barrier and scam. In this case, just use your instinct and be confident.

Fried fishes in Bab Doukkala street. Some bloggers I read do not recommend to get fishes or seafood because of its quality. Marrakech is land locked so it takes some effort to get seafood there. However, because we were curious, hungry and have certain budget, we bought anyway. It smelled so great. These street vendors were standing next to each other and only locals ate there.

If you really want to get it, take a small peek to the oils. If it’s very black, just walk away and do not risk it. I myself did not think about it to anticipate. The taste is like fried fish, nothing special, but I like fishes so my verdict might be bias. It was even better with the drip of lemon juice. Fresh! For the value, it is super cheap. You will get a full paper sack with different type of fishes and fried aubergine. (Price: 20 dirham, verdict: 6.5 out of 10)

Shish Kebab in a tiny hidden stall in Bab Doukkala street. We were lucky that it turned out good, the seller was nice honest man which love what he’s doing (seems like). The bread is round bread (typical moroccan bread – khobz) filled with seasoned minced meat grilled in a metal stick, amazing fresh homemade tomato sauce, and chilli sauce. (Price: 10 dirham, verdict: 7.5 out of 10)

3. Pastry from local Pattiserie or more like Boulangerie

Pastry was okay, quite sweet for my taste. However, it is safer to get to one of the ‘real’ place than carts in the square. The cookies and sweets look divine in the cart, but you will never know the ingredients quality (Price: 2 dirham/each, verdict: 5.5 out of 10).

4. A restaurant in Ouarzazate (chosen by the tour)

I had couscous and Damar had mix grilled plate. It was definitely overpriced than the value which we kind of expected it. The couscous was in plate with vegetables and very tender beef/lamb with saffron seasoning (Price: 80 dirham, verdict: 7 out of 10).

What to eat in Marrakech (3)Damar’s mixed grill (Price: 80 dirham, verdict: 5 out of 10)

5. Dinner in the desert (prepared by the tour)

We had another tagine, a bit similar with what Damar had in the first day but tasted better and richer in the filling. So I guess, it is worth to know where to eat this meal to avoid any disappointment. I bet it could be super good.

(Price: Included in the tour, verdict: 7 out of 10)

6. Breakfast (prepared by the tour)

Breakfast in Morocco is simple and easy. Pancake usually was the go to and also some pastry. That is what we had during this breakfast. No complain, to get plates were already one thing to be grateful for considering limited sources in the middle of the desert.

7. Lunch (chosen by the tour)

This time I also went for grilled meat. Again, Damar ordered chicken and I ordered the minced meat. It is almost like burger patty except it is much smaller.

What to eat in Marrakech (4) (Price: 80, verdict: 6 out of 10)

What to eat in Marrakech (5)

(Price: 80, verdict: 6 out of 10)

8. Mechoui Alley

Mechoui or Moroccan roasted lamb is a whole lamb roasted in deep pits with smoldering araar wood for 3-4 hours. There is a popular alley with 3 or 4 tiny restaurants that sell this amazing lamb. The seasonings I tasted in this lamb was mainly cumin and salt, yet it was very very good. The meat was incredibly tender. The best food I had I must say. We ate them with moroccan bread (khobz) and had moroccan tea as the drink. It was so greasy, we could not help to get orange juice in Jemaa El-Fna to get some get fresh intake afterwards.

The next day I woke up with headache, the lamb and oil successfully increased my blood pressure 😀 but it is totally worth trying. For the people who do not eat lamb because of the fishiness of the taste, do not worry because this meat is very long  in the process that all the lamb taste are gone.

What to eat in Morocco

(Price: 75 dirham, verdict: 8 out of 10)

9. Roti d’or

This restaurant is trendy, modern, cozy, affordable, and good quality. I would rate 5 starts for this place. Damar really enjoyed his grilled chicken. I ordered the chicken patty which I could taste the homemade-ness. Both came in bunch with many side vegetables, bread, french fries and different type of sauce. I heard they have an amazing vegan burger!

What to eat in Marrakech

The grilled chicken Damar really enjoyed, it’s his favourite of all food we tried in Marrakech (Price: 40, verdict: 9 out of 10).

The chicken patty (Price: 40, verdict: 7.5 out of 10)

What to eat in Marrakech

10. Snails soup in Jemaa El-Fna

When I first saw this, I knew I got to try for the sake of experience. It was chewy and tasted earthy. In the ingredients, I could taste a bit of ginger and pepper, while apparently it is flavoured by 15 different spices. Pluck the snails from their shells first with a toothpick and then slurp the soup. Moroccans believe the broth is good for digestion and fever.

What to eat in Marrakech

(Price: 5, verdict: 5 out of 10)

11. Stalls in Jemaa El-Fna

It has an exciting atmosphere and something to experience. The key is to look for the ones that have many Moroccan (families) eating. Some bloggers suggested to stick with grilled food, this place is not for tagine or couscous if you do not want to get disappointed. I think the government does a good job in organising this main square. It has hand washing stations and standard stalls-seating. Prepare to not get crazy in the stalls. The vendors will completely drag you and push you to their stalls. Be firm, smile and say ‘maybe tomorrow’ or ‘I just ate, I am full’, then they will ‘kind of’ understand.

We went to the grilled food place in stall 31 and we were not disappointed. We ate with locals and felt blended 🙂 They threw papers as a placemat. For me, the special part is the sauce. It is fresh tomato that I do not know what they put in it, it’s just so good and fresh. Also the moroccan bread (khobz) to scoop up the sauce and the side dish. Note that the sauce and bread was not included in the price. And you could see the olives in the picture below, they just served it without us ordering, also some different type of grilled veggies. Don’t think that it is a complimentary. They will add up in the end. What to eat in Marrakech

I ordered the sausage (Price: 30 dirham, verdict: 8 out of 10)

What to eat in Marrakech

Damar ordered, as usual, grilled chicken skewers (Price: 40 dirham, verdict: 7 out of 10)

What to eat in Marrakech

Good to know some french… Chicken: Poulet, Beef: du boeuf

Places that I really wanted to try but did not get the chance was

CAFE CLOCK which is famous with its camel burger and date smoothies

CAFE NOMAD which is famous with its lamb burger and vegetarian menu

Happy culinary!

 

Other Morocco series

Common scams in Marrakech

Things to know before travelling to Morocco

 

Africa Morocco

Things to know before travelling to Morocco

7th December 2017 - 8 min read
things-to-know-before-travelling-to-Morocco

Morocco is such a cultural and special country. But I must say you need to be well-prepared before travelling there to avoid bad experiences. There are some good things to know before travelling to Morocco. Here are 8 of them:

  1. VISA

    Almost all English-speaking countries (with the exception of South Africa) require no visa to enter the country, and they can stay up to 90 days. It’s always better to check online or call their local embassy to make sure nevertheless. For INDONESIAN passport holder (like Damar and I), no visa is required.

    However, one thing for sure is everybody will need to fill in arrival form so prepare your PEN (it’s not provided). It was quite annoying when you have to depend on someone to lend you one. Also, prepare the detail of your stay, the name and address.

    things-to-know-before-travelling-to-MoroccoLost in the middle of Jemaa el-Fnaa

  2. It is possible to take bus from the airport

    It is very cheap, only 30 dirham/person (3 euro). It will get you to the main square and what not where usually tourist stay. It’s the BUS no 19! We had a great experience with it with a nice and sincere driver who told us where to stop. Worry not when you go out of the airport and you seem like the only one wait for the bus. Not to mention, the taxi drive who would come towards you and say ‘Taxi taxi, the price is same with the bus”. It’s not true. The fix rate of taxi is usually around 100-150 dirham. Slowly but sure, other tourists will follow you and wait together with you. The bus station is not right in front of the door. You have to walk a little bit towards the packing lot where taxis wait.

  3. Tap water

    They claim that the tap water is drinkable enough. However, if you come from a country with a high quality of water or used to drink from package, I’d suggest to avoid it. The price of water bottle is not ripping you off, it is more or less 9-11 Dirham or 1 euro. Damar and I did try out the tap water. For both of us, it has a bit of chlorine touch of taste which we did not really prefer. When you have no other easier option or want to save up your money, you can combine with packaged water bottle and once in a while take the tap water with your own.

  4. Weather

    Generally, Morocco’s climate is moderate and subtropical, cold by breezes off the Atlantic and Mediterranean. Winters can be fairly cold and the summers are very hot. Do not underestimate the weather of Morocco during winter time. It can be quite contrast during the day and night. We went on December and we thought it could have been a nice escape from a freezing-almost-snowing Amsterdam. But nope, it was quite cold than expected. In day time with sun exposure, the temperature could get to 15-20 celcius, at night it could really drop to 7 degree. It was very nice nevertheless because it is always almost sunny everyday. You will definitely need jacket and sweater for winter in Morocco, especially in the desert.

    Regardless of when you travel to Morocco, it’s a good idea to bring layers as your trip might involve travel through many different climate zones.

  5. Restaurant custom

    Do not feel obliged to order drinks and do not feel obliged to give tips. Obviously if you are in a budget trip, you want to save while still enriching your experience. In my opinion, not so many drinks you should try to get to know Morocco better, except the juices (especially orange and pomegranate) and the moroccan mint tea. Other than that, you are welcome to stay with water in which is okay to bring from home. However for the tips part, you are always welcomed to do so and it is always better to do so. To put a smile to someone’s day is always a nice feeling.

     

    You will see a lot of people just hang out in a cafe to enjoy their morocco tea time (or coffee). Most of them are men and just by themselves. It is quite interesting to see. I guess in the ‘mess’ of the county, they need some times alone to think and reflect. It is part of the culture that they take seriously.

    things-to-know-before-travelling-to-Morocco

  6. Get to know Berberian whiskey

    Damar and I were a bit surprised when we first got offered Berberian whiskey because Berber is supposedly known as muslim. Well it was a mislead, they refer to Moroccan tea. It is basically infused mint leaf in hot water with sugar. I do not usually put sugar in my drinks, but this time is special 🙂 Sometimes, it could get quite strong, but I love it. That’s the beauty of it, just like drinking coffee. It hit and wake you up. By the way, berbers are an ethnic group indigenous to Northern Africa. They are over 70% of the Moroccan population! I have met some of them and they are very welcoming with their limited english vocabulary.

  7. Dress culture

    Most of the Moroccan people dress modestly, especially when we speak about the women. Thus, it is polite to respect their culture by not dressing up vulgarly. Avoid too short bottom and sleeveless top. It is also for your own comfort to not be seen strangely and also to feel blended with your surroundings. If you are a woman travels solo, it might be a good idea to cover your self or have scarf with you.

  8. Crossing road

    things-to-know-before-travelling-to-MoroccoConsidering the crazy traffic and road, it is wise to not wait for the vehicles driver to stop, because they simply WILL NOT. So, just be brave and cross that road. In some places, it is clear with the traffic light for pedestrians, and some others are not.

  9. Taking picture

    things-to-know-before-travelling-to-MoroccoBe very discreet, if you want to take pictures of local people or the stuff in the market. Or just simply avoid it. Trust me, there are so much more details to capture in every other corners! Moroccans will not be happy by the idea of you taking their picture or the stuff they sell, which is understandable. If you take pictures of street performers in the square of Jemma el-Fna, they will surely ask and push to get money from you. Be extra careful, if you want to take risks, prepare some coins with you 🙂

Other Morocco series

Common scams in Marrakech

What to eat in Marrakech

Europe France

Gorge du Verdon Itinerary and Activities

28th October 2017 - 13 min read

Les Gorges du Verdon or often called the Grand Canyon of Europe is one of the must-see natural wonders of Provence. We heard from Damar’s friend about this place for the first time. He suggested to go there for camping and he was right!! Frankly I never thought there is such place in Europe. I know I underestimate the nature that Europe has to offer too much. One of the reasons I think that way is because I am used to the flat ground surface of Netherlands.

Gorge du Verdon has such a great vibe. It is very touristy especially in the summer time. During summer time, you better try to catch the river quite early to avoid the crowd. It is worth visiting by anyone in need of a reality check on the passage of time. You should trust me when I say that floating along the lake Gorge feels super majestic. Just imagine centuries ago, it used to be a gigantic mountain and dropped little by little with water until it is split and become a beautiful blue flowing river. It’s called persistence! And I got to float on it 🙂

In this post I will walk through our activities in the 5 days 4 nights stay. Believe me, there’s no shortage of activities in Gorges du Verdon unless when the weather does not allow.

Day 1

We arrived in Nice airport in the morning and directly fetched our rented car that were awaiting. So happy that we got a car with open roof in such a sunny day. We stopped on our way to get all the utilities and food+water we might need in the camping site. On the way, we visit convenient store Intermarche in the city we passed by. The purpose was to be well stocked for our way and for the first 2 days in the camp at least.

We continued to take the route below, which is one of the most scenic drive in Europe. The last thing you would do is falling asleep in that type of scenery. Prepare a good playlist to listen while enjoying the beauty of nature or just have a life (or even trivial) talk with whom you have the drive with.

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One of a lot of stops we made on our way to Gorge du Verdon. Take your time and stop as much as you want, because the way back would be different and it’s worth the air you breath. 

After around 2,5 hours we finally arrived in our camping site. I was quite surprised with how western takes camping life to the very next level. Most of them are French, Dutch and German (obviously). They literally had every single thing ones have in the house except toilet. Whilst, our are just one mini tent that did not allow us to even stand tall. Luckily we both are small.

Somehow we were so tired, so after building up our tent, settled in and took a visit to the the close ‘beach’ that is just in front of our stay site, we fell asleep and woke when the sun was reaching to set. Look how beautiful it is..  We enjoyed it for a bit, cooked rice, instant noodle, and pouched eggs in our teeny tiny pot. Ahh the feeling to be in nature was just so worthwhile.

WhatsApp Image 2017-10-27 at 21.36.01

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Day 2

We got ready at around 9, but unfortunately the wind was not very cooperative with our plan to hike. So we had to wait.. The sport activity was even all cancelled due to the bad weather. We just walked around the camp and played table tennis until around 1, then we had lunch with our canned and instant food. I don’t know why but in camp situation where food are limited, canned and instant food taste so good!

When the wind got calmer around 1.30 pm we headed to route D71 and started our hiking there. It was not an official hiking track or anything. We found this route on google as I looked for level easy for 5 miles. We started quite late, so to be safe we took the easy way.  Turned out we ended up in the military terrace that is prohibited to trespass. Yes we did not reach the peak, but it is okay, because the purpose of me hiking is to engage with nature and be in wild just with Damar (and wind sound + bird chirping). I got all that and sweat was bonus, so that made me very happy. That was just how I always picture the kind of relationship and experience I want to go through with Damar.

After that we just go back on our way further to D71 and enjoyed what we encountered on our way

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Day 3

If you go around September, you should start checking the weather forecast in order to plan your activities. You will eventually find it by the feeling of increased temperature or rain or by the sport activities worker telling you not possible to play with water. But before all efforts you make, keep yourself updated with weather forecast as Summer has slowly gone in that period.

We were planning to do the sport activity but the wind was too severe that day. So we went up there and drove along the villages nearby the camping site location.

Moustiers- Sante- Marie

Do not underestimate this village!! After we parked our car in a street parking spot, which was easy to find, we made a wrong turn and ended up in the only restaurant we could see. So we took a break and had coffee. I thought at that time, how small this village is. It is up the hill and it let you see the scenery to the green forest area in the lower level. Nice but tiny.

Little did we know, there was another turn to the city that we eventually took. The view I was looking at was mesmerizing. There was a spring flows through the cliff in the middle of the town and creates a waterfall which is provides water power. There were many pottery shops which made me gasps, so incredible. I can’t imagine it’s all man-handmade and supposedly by the local people. The village was built on terraces and you can hike meters up in the side of a cliff. See the video in this link.

Above the town, a gold-painted star hangs on a 225m-long chain suspended between two cliffs. Its origin, according to a legend popularised by Provençal poet Frédéric Mistral, lies in the 10th century; the original star and chain have been replaced several times since then. The current star is about 50 years old. Ten years ago it fell after the chain snapped, and was rehung using a helicopter. (Source: Wikipedia

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Sainte Croix

The beauty in this experience is not the village itself, but the road we passed to get through this village. Actually I always want to go to the Lavender field, and we surprisingly drove through it!!! I only could play with my imagination how even more beautiful it would be with full lavenders. No wonder I already found a lot of lavender based products in the other village. Well, after all it’s Provance.

The fully bloom time would be around Jun-Jul and Jul-Aug for harvesting period. I guess there is always a reason to come back 🙂

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Lavender field without lavender

Day 4

Finally, although this is the day we would leave Gorge du Verdon, but it was exciting to do Kayak/Canoe in the beautiful famous Sainte- Croix lake. We went to the Bae de l’etoile. There are also another boat rental company in the opposite. Start early, but make sure that sun is already up to make a good picture lighting and also to give warmth.

We chose canoe out of ignorance. After that we learnt the difference and next time we would take kayak. The difference is canoe paddle has a blade on one end, while a kayak paddle is bladed at both ends. Canoe has the raising end in the boat and kayak has only one, the other end is flat.

By the way, the water was quite cold, but it’s worth to jump!Untitled

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We rented the canoe for 2 hours (30 eur) and once finished, we drove towards Castellane. On this way, we got hitch hiked for the second time during this trip. Funny enough, the 2 hitch hikers speaks quite a bit Indonesian. Damar and I were really surprised because they are French. They love Indonesia and they had lived there for 2 months. Oh what are the chances! For this hitch hike subject, I’d suggest to do it only when you feel comfortable. You’ll find a lot of them waving in the street.

My one and only thought, do something good and greatness will come back to you. Also as my dad says, be kind and positive, everything will be okay when your intention is good. We have extra seats and we love getting to know new people while listening to their stories. So why not? 🙂

Castellane

It is a small town in the Provencal Alps on the Route Napoléon. Castellane has about 1,600 inhabitants. It has the distinction of being the least in population sub-prefecture of France. It is quite big comparing with the other villages, unfortunately we did not have much time to go around. But if you have more time, it’s a must to explore! We aimed to pass the cliff side before dark.

Because we had such an early flight, we wanted to find a city nearby in which we could also explore a bit. We drove via D2 towards Cagne- Sur-Mer. We do not have pictures in Cagne-Sur-Mer but I completely fell in love. It’s so petite, beautiful and warm. There’s a castle in there and we stayed just next to it.

Handy Tips

In Gorge du Verdon: We stayed in a camping site called La source. Highly recommended. Price: 28eur per night

In Cagne sur Mer: We stayed in Chateau Le Cagnard. Price: 60 eur per night

Getting Around: Do yourself a favor and rent a car. You’ll be glad with that decision.

Pack: For Verdon Gorge you’ll definitely want to bring snacks and water. For more, check out my other blog post.

Kayaking/canoeing: We paid 30Euros to rent for two hours. The price includes a life vest and parking is free.

Europe France

Gorge du Verdon Tips and Trick

25th October 2017 - 9 min read

It is no doubt that South of France is a must destination to visit especially in Summer time. I had been there once and stayed in Nice as well as visit Monaco with my friends. Now, it would be a total different kind of experience since Damar and I wanted to go for camping. We always wanted to go camping to see how we liked it and if so, to repeat it in the future. Both of us love nature so much, so we started from the friendly one. Camp in the Camping Site is a friendly step, note that it is not allowed to wild camp in Europe. Although, we met a few hitch hikers who did such, BUT only for a night.

The nature was jaw dropping and I literally had so many breath taking moment. Gorge du Verdon is located in Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. It is a river canyon that is often considered to be one of the most beautiful in Europe. The Gorges du Verdon is about 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) long and up to 700 meters (2296.59 feet) deep. At the end of the canyon, the Verdon River flows into the man-made lake, the Lac de Sainte-Croix. The gorgeous turquoise-green color river.And oh! not forget to mention, the road trip via Napoleon route was a moment I would never forget.

Where to land?

We chose to fly to Nice, some people also goes to Marseille. More or less it takes around the same duration. We chose Nice because the flight was cheaper (obviously! :P). Why pay more, when it’s not more efficient?

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*Please note that the map is only to show the duration, not necessarily the exact same route we took.

Transportation

We intended to rent a car there in France. However, we had only a narrow option due to no credit card. None of the car rental would rent out their vehicles without a proof of ownership of credit card from the rider which is understandable. It is not a good example, but Damar finally found a way. He found the ‘snapcar‘ version of France, which is called ouicar. Knowing neither of us had no credit card, the owner was still letting us rent. I do think it’s against the rule of the company, but we were really lucky! Luckily also, we got a very cool car with open roof. We rode along the road feeling like a millionaire (just a little!).

So rent a car and arrange before your flight so you have a security once landed in terms of transportation. Public transportation is not recommended and it is quite difficult too to be flexible.

Here you can find some of options of car rental in France.

Road Trip and Route

Prepare yourself mentally and your photograph gear because this road trip would be one of the most beautiful car journey. It is one of the finest, most scenic and exciting mountain drives in the world. There is no other mountain road route of such duration and awesome beauty so rewarding to drive. Damar and I often gasped after making a turn, because what we saw next was more and more beautiful. At over 730M up we could see down into the gorge.Image result for napoleon route

Source: http://www.alsgodinzuidfrankrijk.nl/nl/routes/la_route_napoleon. The Route Napoléon is the route taken by Napoleon in 1815 on his return from Elba. 

 

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Our pose on our way

Driving the Verdon Gorge puts the car on the mountainside of the road. Some people wonder whether or not it is safe to drive along side the mountain. From Damar’s perspective, it was not as scary as he thought, because with the narrow roads, there were still barriers on the cliff side. Just make sure that you stay in the road and be extra vigilant with other cars. Sometimes they who come from the opposite way do not want to share the road.

From people’s review, during Summer (end of Jun, Jul, Aug), there are usually traffic jam where cars are in line, so maybe avoid it? That is when the people with manual car is tested with their driving skill 😉 It’s worth every nail-biting moment though.

A MUST PASS ROAD: D71, D952

Skip to 2:00 to see how the view in the road.

Where to camp?

There are literally a lot of camping site options in this area. We went to ‘Camping La Source‘ that rates 28 euro plus 5 euro of electricity. We had no complains, customer service was so good, the sanitary was always controlled hence super duper clean. I would suggest to search a camp in the area of the lake. Our camp site was just 2 minutes (100 m) away from the beach lake. Most of the time it was more quiet than the main lake, so you could have your own quality time with yourself, partner or family.

The camp site had some entertainment options, they had kayak-canoe0-boat rental as well as table tennis. It’s the heaven of water sport and the camping provided your needs. Too bad we did not have chances to use the rental facility due to the time restrain and bad weather.

Tips: Bring your own dishes cleaning tools! And no need to take electricity if you only need it for your phone. You can do this in the reception. 

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A view 2 mins away from camping site

What to pack?

  • During the period of September – October, the weather might be unstable. I did not really this coming because I assumed that South of France will still be relatively warm. During the day, sun was out but being in a shadow would make you chilled. And it could be windy as well which what happened in the 2nd day we were there. In that case always bring extra sweater, socks and some layers!!!!!
  • Tent + sleeping bag
  • Toiletries
  • Flip flop – for going to the toilet etc. Don’t bring the fancy expensive one as it would get wet
  • Sneakers or mountain shoes
  • Cutlery
  • Lunch or food box
  • Reusable bottle
  • Plastics for dirty clothes and bin
  • Water, food, snacks, rice can be bought in the supermarket there
  • Sunblock + swimsuit + sunglasses
  • Stove + gas (in our case, we need the cable connector to connect French gas and Dutch stove)

Where to shop?

The campsite backs on to the village of Les Salles sur Verdon which means that campers can make use of the many shops (bakery, supermarket etc. ), restaurants and other service.

You can buy your groceries at 8 à Huit which is 3 minutes driving from the camping site.

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Asia Malaysia Travel

Transit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

8th October 2017 - 7 min read

A few months back, Damar and I went to Indonesia for the wedding of his brother. Actually we did not plan to come due to my limited holiday at the office and the high flight season. But then we changed our mind. You can earn money but no family memory, I believe. And therefore, we kept it easy going and looked for the cheapest options. The selected flight went to a combo of KLM – Malaysian Airlines which required a transit in Kuala Lumpur. I felt somewhat more excited because I had not stepped my feet on Malaysia before. And obviously the cheapest one required a long amount of transit in the Airport (16 hours!!). So we could go out and take a peek in the city. Off we went!!

The airport is very big and modern. The only way to get you connected from KLIA and KLIA2 is an aerotrain (airport facility). Follow the sign or ask the friendly staff, you will get yourself there very easily. KLIA is for the Malaysian airlines and International – national flight while KLIA2 is more for the budget/carrier flights. We ended up in KLIA and stayed there.

Visa or no Visa

If you remain staying within the Airport, check the detail in here. As Indonesians, we obviously do not need visa to enter Malaysia. However, you might do. Check out the list of countries that need visa here, especially when you want to take a look outside.

Place to sleep

There are different places for you to spend the night. Overall there are a bunch of chairs and benches you can choose. That is actually what we decided to do. Many travelers recommended avoiding KLIA2 overnight, the main terminals have more options. The food court on the 2nd floor is pretty quiet, many travelers try to sleep here. We decided to go there for having a bite (actually a big bowl of noodles) at 11.00 pm just right before it closed down. Actually in general, all the places are quiet after 00.00 because that is when the stores close. For uninterrupted sleep, there is a transit hotel and sleep pods inside the airport and several hotels near the airport. See Airport Hotels list.

What to bring

If you decide to sleep in the airport, Eye shades, socks and blanket is a must! We were lucky because our airline provided us with a few of those equipment. The light in the airport is pretty bright and for those who need darkness, nothing would do but a proper eye shades.

Other than that, toiletries, towel and clothes change are obviously needed, but we all would know that.

I would exchange money in the ATM machine before anything.

What to do in Kuala Lumpur city the next day

The next day we started at 5 am and took a shower in one of the shower room there. Damar did but I just freshened up instead 😉 We went to KLIA2 and left our baggage over there. You can choose to be put in a locker or just to drop off (kept in a big room). I recommend to take the locker if you have valuable belongings. As it is time sensitive, you should already plan where to go beforehand, we used the night before with free WIFI to do a small research. We do not want to waste the time where we can enjoy the city, do we? Our next flight was at 13.30 in the afternoon, thus the goal was to already back in the airport at 12.30.

We took a bus to get ourselves to KL Central. The bus was enjoyable, with AC and free WIFI inside. Once I went out of the airport, I felt the breeze of Asian life already. Life starts super early over there and the dynamic is just oh feel a lot like home. It took 1 hour to KL central and once we were in the KL Central we transferred to another transportation. We took the green line because we wanted to have Nasi Lemak as breakfast. Checked lots of different sites, we wanted the famous one and also located in the middle of our way to Batu Cave. Yes, that is our ultimate destination! The selection dropped to Nasi Lemak Mak Wanjor atau Mak Wonjo! It made our morning and we continued our journey to  by commuter. It took 25 minutes to get there.

No entrance fee and just enjoyed the time there. Put alarm on when you should take the tram back to Sentral.

Transit in Kuala Lumpur

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Image result for transportation system kuala lumpur

Budget

Activity Price Details
Late Dinner in the airport 20 RM
Baggage drop off 40 RM in Medium-sized locker
Bus 2 ways 20 RM
Ticket train 2 ways 4,2 RM
Breakfast Nasi Lemak mak Wanjo 10 RM
Rent Sarong in Batu Cave (if needed) 5 RM
Fresh coconut water 5 RM
Total 104,2 RM


Source

https://www.sleepinginairports.net/asia/kualalumpur.htm

http://www.malaysiaairports.com.my/?m=airport&c=transit_info&id=4&aid=1