Monday, February 13, 2012

Lijiang The Old Town

I was so happy when I received a unique postcard from Yu, she lives in Yunnan a province in southwest China. She sent me a very nice postcard own in with a picture of Lijiang Old Town in Yunnan.  This old town was registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List on December 4, 1997. And since it became a UNESCO World Heritage site, more and more tourist flooding the town. Here cars are not allowed. So visitors walk on the cobblestone streets.

Here’s more detail story about the city which copied from UNESCO World Heritage Convention site

Lijiang is an exceptional ancient town set in a dramatic landscape which represents the harmonious fusion of 
different cultural traditions to produce an urban landscape of outstanding quality.
In the 13th century AD, during the later Southern Song dynasty, the ancestors of the ruling Mu family moved their main centre from Baisha to the foot of the Shizi Mountains to a new town known as Dayechang (later Dayan), where they began building houses surrounded by a city wall and moat. After Azong Aliang submitted in the 1250s to the authority of the Yuan Emperor Hubilie, Dayechang became an administrative centre. The Lijiang Junmin prefecture was established when the region came under Ming rule in 1382.

In 1724 the first non-native prefect began building prefectural offices, barracks and educational facilities at the foot of the Jinhong Mountain. Lijiang County was created as part of Lijiang Junmin Prefecture in 1770. The old town of Lijiang is built on a mountain slope running from north-west to south-east, facing a deep river.

The northern part of the city was a commercial district. The main streets in this part of the old town radiate from the broad street known as Sifangjie, which has traditionally been the commercial and trading centre of the north-western part of Yunnan Province. On the west side of the Sifangjie is the imposing three-storeyed Kegongfang (Imperial Examination Archway), which is flanked by the Western and Central rivers.

A sluice on the former uses the different levels of the two waterways to wash the streets, a unique form of municipal sanitation. The streets are paved with slabs of a fine-grained red breccia. Water flows from here to the Shuangshi Bridge, where it branches into three tributaries. These subdivide into a network of channels and culverts to supply every house in the town. This water supply is supplemented by many springs and wells within the town itself. A system of watercourses of this complexity necessitates a large number of bridges of varying sizes. There are 354 bridges altogether; they take several forms. It is from these structures that Lijiang derives its name, the 'City of Bridges'. The feature of Lijiang that is most representative of the Naxi minority culture is its wealth of domestic dwellings. The basic timber-framed structure developed into a unique architectural style with the absorption of elements of Han and Zang architecture. Most of the houses are two-storeyed. The chuandoushi wooden frames are walled with adobe on the ground floor and planks on the upper floors; the walls have stone foundation courses. The exteriors of the walls are plastered and lime-washed, and there are often brick panels at the corners. The houses have tiled roofs and an external corridor or veranda.

Special attention is paid to the decoration of the houses, especially in the arches over gateways, the screen walls, the external corridors, the doors and windows, the courtyards and the roof beams. Wooden elements are elaborately carved with domestic and cultural elements - pottery, musical instruments, flowers, birds, etc. - and gate arches take several elegant forms.

The Lijiang Junmin Prefectural Government Office and Mujia Compound were established in 1368, during the Ming dynasty, in the eastern part of the city. The 286 m long government office was a complex of halls, towers, bridges, terraces, pavilions and palaces. To the north was the official residence, known as the Mujia Compound. It was largely destroyed by war during the Qing dynasty and only the Yizi Pavilion, the Guagbi Tower, and a stone archway survive. The group known as the Yuquan architectural structures is in the Heilongtan Park and date from the Ming and Qing dynasties. Most notable is the Wufeng Tower (1601), moved from the Fugue Temple, of which it formed part, and now designated as one of the major historical sites in Yunnan Province. In addition to the Dayan old town, established in the Ming dynasty, the earlier Baisha quarter, the centre during the preceding Song and Yuan dynasties, survives 8 km to the north.

Another special thing from Yu postcard is the ginkgo leaves. I’ve heard about this in a shampoo commercial on TV but I’ve never seen one for real. Thank you so much Yu for showing me the leaves.  It seems that there are many ginkgo leaves in Yu’s neighborhood.

According to Wikipedia, Ginkgos are large trees, normally reaching a height of 20–35 m (66–115 feet), with some specimens in China being over 50 m (164 feet). Surprisingly Ginkgo is believed to be a very primitive plant. Ginkgo is a living fossil according to here you can read more about the leaves.
Thank you so much Yu for the postcard.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Khotso's Postcard, The First Postcard from Lesotho

On 7th February 2012, I received a very nice postcard for my dear friend Khotso from Lesotho. We’ve been friends for more than 3 years. I knew him from my friend who was studying his master at ITS, a state technology institute in Surabaya. Khotso was a lucky student who was granted a scholarship from Indonesia Government through a developing countries scholarship. He studied his master for two years in Surabaya and he also had 1 year Bahasa Indonesia lesson before his study was started.

It's my sister on the left, me in the middle, and Khotso in his traditional costume

He’s the first African guy I know and we became good friends since then. We had good time together. He left Surabaya to his homeland in October 2011. We still contact each other via e-mail and postcard. Here’s the first postcard I received from him. I love this postcard. This is super awesome.

The postcard has a view of Maletsunyane Falls. It’s Guinness record holder for the highest commercial abseil in the world. According to Wikipedia, it’s a 192 m falls, but according to the postcard it’s a 204 m falls. It is located near the city of Semonkong, 75 miles (121 km) southeast of Maseru. My friend Khotso lives in Maseru, the Capital City.

The postcard

Khotso's postcard written in Bahasa Indonesia.
He still remember the language. yeah!!

The waterfall is so amazing. It’s beautiful and green. I’m so lucky I can get the postcard of the falls pic since I love nature. I tried to browse some info about the falls but I couldn’t find a lot of information. But, I check a site for those who want to feel the sensational experience of hiking and sliding down from top of the falls here. What an amazing place. Will I want to try? Definitely not. Well actually I think it’s cool, I’ll think about it.

Another unique thing from Khotso's postcard is the pictures of a unique hat from Lesotho, which is called Basotho hat. You can see the hat image on the bottom right and left down corner of the postcard. I once wore this hat when I visited Khotso’s in his new home that he rented with the other foreign students. He had a very neat room anyway, mine is so messy FYI ^_^ . 

I'm wearing the Basotho hat and Khotso with the fury hat. We're holding Lesotho flag

The hat is quite heavy to me. It is made of straw and of roughly conical shape. It is topped by a complicated knot about 5 centimetres in diameter. Basotho means 'people of Lesotho'. And this hat becomes a symbol of the country.

As quoted from, “The Basotho hat is the national emblem of the Kingdom of Lesotho.  It appeared on the previous national flag but was replaced when the flag changed in the early 1990s. It still features on most logos of Lesotho-based organizations.
The common belief is that the shape of the hat was inspired by the shape of one of the mountains visible from Thaba Tseka, which itself was the mountain fortress that was key to the establishment of the Kingdom of Lesotho.
In Maseru, stands a large building whose roof has been thatched to resemble a Basotho hat. As well as housing the tourist goods shop, this building serves as a universal point of reference for any directions in Maseru. The hut was destroyed in the looting of 1998, but a body of concerned (and presumably lost) local residents raised the funds to rebuild it. It was reopened in January 2001.”

Khotso also has another unique hat. The fury one. It is made of squirrel or such animal. I’m not quite sure about this, I forgot what he said to me the last time we talked about the hats. Isn’t the hat cute?
Thank you Mas Khotso for sending me the postcard. I will never forget our friendship. Hugs Khotso!!!

The last picture we took few weeks before Khotso left Indonesia
Source :

Wisata Bahari Lamongan (WBL)

WBL when i visited in 2009

 I have visited this place three times. The first time was in 2008, the second was in 2010 and the last time was on 22 January 2012 when I visited this place with my students and my fellow Romanian friend.

The entrance with gigantic crab

Wisata Bahari Lamongan or famous with its abbreviation name WBL is a theme park located in the sea side in a beach,which is called Tanjung Kodok.  Tanjung is a cape and kodok is frog. According to the story there is a big rock in the sea side that looks like a giant frog. That’s why the beach is named Tanjung Kodok.

When I was a kid my  parents took me to the beach once. I was thinking about having white sand and great sunshine but I was totally disappointed because the beach was dirty, muddy, and there’s no sand. What I had was only rocks and coral reef. They hurt my feet for sure. I couldn’t swim and I couldn’t do anything. I stayed there for less than an hour before I and my family moved to the fish market.

On special event like Chinese New Year there's a special performance 

Since 2004, the local government of Lamongan invited an investor to make a great tourism destination. And voila!! The theme park was established and opened for public.

When I visited the place for the first time I was shocked. I never imagined that the dirty muddy beach was then turned into a beautiful adventurous theme park. The local government was successful in changing the image of the muddy and uninteresting beach into a multi billion rupiah business.

With only 1,5 hour driving from Surabaya the place is worthy to be visited. A spacious parking space could fit for dozens of buses and hundred of cars. At the entrance, there’s a huge image of crab as the symbol of the theme park. Hundred of food, clothes, and souvenirs shops are located near the entrance. It’s good way to attract hungry visitors who forgot the breakfast or to those who have enjoyed their time at the theme park heading home.

The ticket price now in 2012 is IDR 60,000. It’s 20,000 more expensive compare to my second visit which was only IDR 40,000. All visitors are not allowed to bring rice, soup, and vegetables. That’s the rule. But you also need to check these following guides:
  • 1.       Never use high heels, come on it’s a theme park you’ll kill your feet
  • 2.       Use sun block. The hot sun will burn your skin. I mean it.
  • 3.       Bring extra T-shirt since there’s a spot when you’ll be wet.
  • 4.       Bring swim suit if you want to swim, the pool is nice but too crowded by children.
  • 5.       Bring your sun glasses
The ticket, then rounded in our wrist by the officer

According to the official site the place is open at 9, but when I visited the last time I arrived at 8:45 and there were already hundreds of people flooding the place. So it’s better to come early in the morning at about 8 on holidays.

There are some nice rides like crazy car, roller coaster, and the shuttle space (written shuttle space). These rides are quite nice if you like speed and height. But if you’re scared of height better choose the bumper car and other games. Never try the drop zone if you want to have a fun adventure. The drop zone is so not challenging. I can even eat while riding it.

The drop zone, never try this ride. So not challenging

The Shuttle Space with sea view, this one is nice

What makes WBL an interesting theme park? Because of the water sport. You can go sailing with a canoe for free or ride a water cycle which look like a giant goose. Or  if you don’t wanna get tired you can sail with your family by renting a boat. It’s IDR 10,000 per person. For the youth the shuttle boat, donnut boat, and the banana boat are worth trying. Adventuring the sea with shuttle boat costs IDR 25,000 a boat fits for 6 people. The banana boat costs IDR 175,000 for 5 people. It’ll be a little bit difficult if you don’t bring some companion since you can’t ride the boat alone.

Shuttle boat is the coolest. It’s a rubber boat pulled by a speed boat. 6 people sit on the rubber boat while holding the holder. Since the first time the speed boat engine starts and the shuttle boat moves, I couldn’t stop laughing. Laughing out loud. It’s funny, tickled, and just cool. I wanna ride it again some other time.

Very recommended, the shuttle boat

Another place that people really love to visit is the Ghost Hospital. It’s a haunted hospital, well it’s staged of course. There’ll be some rooms like baby room, operation theater, mortuary, etc. There are some fake man-sized mannequin which moves when you passed the x-ray sensor. The place is totally dark with minimum light to create a very scary ambiance. Was I scared? Yes at the first time, but the second time I went there it’s annoying than scary, because I was tired and there was a lady busy with her infant pushing me and my friends around. That’s suck.

Awwww...take a picture with dracula near the Ghost Hospital

The cowboy land is the one that you shouldn’t be missed. When you step on your feet here you’ll feel you’re in Texas. There’s also a log house and inside the house there’s a robot bull that you can ride. You can act as a real cowboy with a fake machine bull :D.

Don’t forget to buy some souvenirs, snacks, or T-shirt if you visit WBL. The fish product like crackers, shrimp paste, chips etc are nice with reasonable price.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Es Oyen

I don’t know for sure what’s “oyen” means since i believe it’s not Javanese, my local language. Why am I writing about this beverage? Because the seller selss across my workplace and I can observe him from my window where I sit now, because the ice is nice, and because I know the seller.

The man sitting is the owner, Pak Imam

Es Oyen 46 is the booth name. 46 is taken from Valentino Rossi’s bike number. The seller, Pak Imam adores Rossi so much. Or maybe he used “46” because he wants to grow his business as fast as Rossi drives the bike.  He sells his product, es (ice) oyen on the side of the road. As you can see in the picture below, his small booth is so simple, it stands between the auto service centre and a laundry place.

He has some plastic jars, 5 jars. The syrup jar, the coconut milk jar, the shredded young coconut jar, the melon chops jar, and the pearl-sago jar. He takes few spoon of each ingredients, add with carnation milk, shredded ice and voila…a bowl of es oyen is ready to be served.
A bowl of es oyen is only IDR 2,500. It’s the cheapest in the neighborhood and the most important thing, it is the nicest. He also uses fresh and good quality ingredients that make his eyes yum.

Summer is the perfect time for him to sell his ice. Within less than 5 hours he can finish all the jars. But, as any other ice seller, rainy season is not his company. Rain can makes him stranded until the sun set.

Pak Imam, the seller used to be a successful kerosene seller. He’s a big dealer. Since the government regulation that converts the use of kerosene for house consumption to LPG, the man’s business was getting slow and in the end he’s out of business. He tried to earn money by selling es oyen. I think he started selling ice in 2009 or early 2010. And he used to study in the English course where I work now. He loves English and he likes learning English. He’s a married man with 2 children, a girl and a boy. I admire his spirit and of course I admire his es oyen :D