Friday, June 26, 2015

Cycling your way in Jakarta



In a traffic congested city like Jakarta, it would be hard enough to get your way on foot without worrying of being side swept by a car. Nevertheless, many tourists and visitors continue to suggest that the best way to truly experience the heat, the landscape, the culture and the city is to tour by bike.

Ernest Hemingway once said, “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.”

Still, we all need to be cautious when touring the dangerous paths of Indonesia by bike. Motorists may respect your choice of transportation but it is still better to travel safely. Westhill Consulting Travel and Tours have gathered these simple tips to keep in mind whenever you are cycling your way in the city:

1. There are caveats along the way and these warnings shouldn’t be ignored. Any city biker alive in the city very well know this and of course, it only takes common sense to understand them in the city

2. You have to know and accept that you're a cyclist and at the bottom end of the totem pole.

3. You have to have the humility to acknowledge other forms of motor transport and be willing to concede the rights of way in acquiesce to the honks of the other.

4. You have to have the mental discipline to forget the probabilities and risks that you face from stupid drivers behind you, and proceed from Point A to B in a very steady and conservative line on the road and a cool head. If for any reason there is an obstruction in your path, you should quickly and certainly (no doubts!) determine if there is traffic behind you or not and whether it is safe to overtake. If in doubt, always be ready to choose to be conservative and to dismount. You should also not be averse to momentarily riding on the dusty shoulder of the road if the oncoming traffic looks like it's going to crowded.

5. Please always be reminded to wear all the lights, blinkers, bright shirts and helmets and please always review the most important parts of your bike and if it needs repair. It may look geeky, but geeky also communicates that you have done all that is expected of you as a safe biker and places all other responsibility on others.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Things to Remember

When we talk about natural disasters, we might immediately be thinking of typhoons, tsunamis, flood and other heart-breaking disasters that we dreaded. Among the countries in Asia, Indonesia seems to be on the top when it comes to experiencing these disasters.



Indonesia is a large country spanning across few time zones. Natural disasters common here are the earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions. Also, the separation between islands makes it harder for help to come immediately when needed. Despite all of these, Westhill Consulting Travel and Tours still continue to promote tourism in this country for obvious reasons. Local and foreign tourists continue to flock the country, ignoring the warning because of the majestic invitation of archipelago from the buzzing busy streets of Jakarta to heaven-like Bali.

Just to be sure, here are some things to remember once you visit Indonesia:

Crime

The crime rate in Indonesia has increased over the years but most are just petty thieving like robbery, theft, scams and pickpocketing. Avoid showing your valuables and money in public and like most places in the world, be aware of your surroundings especially popular public places. There are several bombing reported at highly concentrated tourist area such as Bali and Jakarta, so as to minimize your risk, try to avoid tourist packed nightclubs or restaurants.

Vaccination

It is recommended to get vaccinated for hepatitis A and typhoid fever before traveling to Indonesia as food hygiene in some areas are questionable. Get more information in vaccinations for traveling in Indonesia.

Medical Issues

Dengue is rampant in remote areas of Sumatra, Borneo and Lombok or points east, so bring strong repellants and be careful. Also the air quality in Indonesia is quite poor, especially in major cities, with occasional haze (June-October) from forest fires in Borneo and Sumatra, so if you have respiratory problems do remember to bring your medication and breather.

Areas to be Cautious at

• Maluku – there is serious civil unrest in this area with long standing communal tensions.
• Papua and West Papua – political tension creates a high risk security situation in that area.
• Central Sulawesi – security situation on risk due to religious tensions and terrorist activities.

Every other country has their own imperfections. Just as no human is perfect, no country is perfect as well. While taking these warnings at heart, never forget to enjoy your journey. Look into the good things each place has to offer. Happy trip!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Exploring Indonesia

I am a native of Jakarta, Indonesia and have also been a host in the famous hosting website, Couchsurfiung.com. Many of our visitors are asking me what they should be expecting and doing in Indonesia that can make their trip worthwhile. Well, in my most humble and objective opinion regarding my country, here are some tips that I can give:
  • Eat on the street – Like many Asian cultures, we Indonesian also like to eat street foods which offers delicious traditional and customary culinary skills. If you are saving money or just trying to be a local, you can buy food for $0.50 while experiencing legit Indonesian custom beside the streets.

  • Bargain hard – Another Indonesian culture. If you don’t bargain and complain about the price, you are definitely not from around. Nothing is ever at face value in Indonesia. Bargain with sellers as most of the time, the price they’ve quoted will not be the price you’ll pay if you bargain!

  • Relax in Bali – When mentioning Indonesia, first thing that comes to mind is Bali. This is probably the most famous of Indonesia’s islands and for good reason. Although often crowded with travelers, there is no escaping the fact that this place is beautiful. Try some surfing at Bingin Beach or visit the Pura Besakih, the Mother Temple, which is a truly stunning building.

  • Dive in the Gili Islands – For a true sense of an island paradise, head to the Gili Islands. You won’t find any cars on these islands; bike travel or horse and cart are the ways to see all that Gili has to offer. You’ll find excellent scuba and snorkel facilities, as well as nightlife on the party island of Gili Trawangan.

  • Jakarta – Indonesia’s capital is a large, bustling city with a population of over 10 million. For a moment of calm, people-watch from one of the cafes overlooking Fatahillah Square in the Old Batavia, the Dutch quarter, where you can take in the historic architecture. In terms of nightlife and eateries, you’ll be spoiled for choice in Jakarta. Make sure to watch for your personal belongings though as my city is admittedly full of scammers (but aren’t they all).

  • Have a spa day – Another famous thing in Indonesia. When you are in a place like this, it only seems right to treat your body to some probably much needed, deep pampering treatments. Getting a massage is basically a given, but why not do it on a beach. Body wraps, facials, manicures, and pedicures are also a nice bonus.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Avoid Getting Screwed

Traveling in a foreign land is a good opportunity but it involves many risks as well. You might find yourself naked, penniless and tied on a telephone pole on a side of a dirt road outside of a corn field. These kinds of situations may happen to you one way or the other so you should be cautious and put these simple warnings at heart. Westhill Consulting Travel and Tours have these simple steps for you to follow:

1. Simple Security Items You should Pack
Carry a card with you with numbers of the local police station, fire departments, hospitals and other numbers that you need to call in case of emergencies. In addition, it's not a bad idea to put your own emergency contact information on the card in case you're in trouble and someone needs to know who to call.

2. Protect your Passport
Passports nowadays have RFID which can be scanned from a distance. Scammers have been taken advantage of this to take your personal identification and information. This is easily solved with an RFID blocking wallet or case. You'll probably need to carry a wallet anyway, so you might as well carry one that'll keep you a bit safer.

3. Know your Taxi
There are a lot of taxi scams existing especially in traffic congested cities like Jakarta, Indonesia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Bangkok, Thailand. You're almost always better off taking official taxis, as the unmarked cars aren't bound by the strict regulations. A reputable private car service might work just fine, but generally you'll pay a lot more for it. When an unmarked cab is offering a similar or better rate than the official taxis, it's at least worth being a little skeptical. If there's some reason you really don't want to take an official taxi, make sure the fare includes any tolls and fees that might come as a surprise later on. Also, if the fare isn't flat rate, be sure you know the possible routes. Some drivers will know better and will take good care of you, but others will take longer routes to increase the fare. If you know your options, you can suggest a different route to avoid paying too much.

4. Know Your Rights
Laws change from state to state, and certainly from country to country, but ignorance to them will get you nowhere. In fact, in many cases you can get yourself out of trouble by known the laws that will affect you. When traveling to other countries, make sure to review the laws and policies that can affect your activities. There are a lot of misconceptions and knowing better could save you a headache.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Indonesia and the Reasons Why You Should Visit

                Jakarta is known to be the home of the world’s worst traffic. Because of this impression, added by accounts of pick-pocketers around the city, Indonesia should be one of the least visited countries in Asia. Or is it?

                Despite the complaints, the country seems to boom in terms of tourism and travel. With over 17, 000 islands, the archipelago is home to thousands of great beaches, majestic sceneries and bountiful natural wonders. Bali always comes to mind when thinking of resorts in the country but although Bali is great, the place has so much more to offer.

                Westhill Consulting Travel and Tours has wrapped it up in some of the top reasons why you should visit Indonesia:

1.            The Komodo Dragons

                Indonesia is home to Komodo National Park, named after its celebrity residents, the Komodo Dragon. Currently the largest living lizard in the world and the closest thing we have to dinosaurs, these fierce dragons are quite the tourist attraction for the thrill seeker. Indonesia is the only place in the world where they can be found living in the wild on the four islands that make up Komodo National Park. A little warning though, Komodo dragons are also known to eat a human or two so you have to make sure you have park rangers with you when you come face to face with these deadly creatures.

2.            Scuba/Snorkel

                Indonesia is home to 20% of the world’s coral reefs and some of the best scuba diving and snorkeling you can find. There are many opportunities available for beginner and experienced divers, with lots of gear rental shops and liveaboard trips and more being offered. Indonesia also has a lot of shipwrecks off its shores, which make for interesting dives. It's almost a shame to visit Indonesia and not get your feet wet.

3.            Food & Coffee

With a lot of varieties of food to choose from in Indonesia, you can definitely eat for days and always try something new. From chicken skewers (yup, Asians are famous for eating weird things) to fried rice with everything thrown in it, you can deliciously enjoy your meal. You will never have any complaints trying a cup of coffee as well as one of its most famous drinks, Java, actually originated here (obviously).

4.            Bananas

                When we were visiting Indonesia, bananas were very popular everywhere we went, which is no surprise seeing that the country is one of the top six producers of bananas in the world. If we weren’t having them at breakfast, we had them as dessert, deep-fried, drizzled with chocolate, or served many other ways.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Improve your Cruising Experience


Are you now tired of the usual beach vacation but you love the sea? Are resorts already overcrowded? You might want to try cruising, then. 

Some people think that traveling in a yacht is too expensive. Yet, this kind of adventure has been very popular. Many people say that it would be worth it to experience it even once in your life.  But how do you make your cruising experience fun and memorable?

To avoid the hassle or prevent untoward circumstances, Westhill Consulting Travel and Tours has provided you some tips to make sure that you cruise safely and make each moment memorable. 

http://www.clker.com/cliparts/1/8/7/1/13704448901162223323cruise_ship-1.png1.  Get There the Night Before
Sounds simple, but hundreds of cruisers literally miss the boat each year because of delayed flights, traffic, bad weather and other unforeseen troubles. Others board by the skin of their teeth, panting and screaming at one another. Who needs that sort of stress? Fly or drive into your port city the night before and you simultaneously bypass pre-departure jitters and add a day to your vacation. Check and review tourist boards for stay-and-cruise information.

2. Stay Away From the Pool
With large cruise ships, there is a great possibility that every passenger will be eyeing the use of the pools. Unfortunately, there are only a fraction of the chairs necessary to accommodate everyone. It may not be a good idea to insist your way into the crowded place. Instead, duck the hubbub. Most new vessels have adults-only areas, some with pools, and almost always less crowded. Also, scope out ship deck plans for a place to call your own.

3. Eat on Your Terms
Many major cruise lines continue to encourage group dining at a prescribed time. If making small talk with the same strangers every night at the same time is your thing, go for it. But myriad options abound to break up the routine: If the ship is in port late, slip off and have dinner, preferably something native. Order room-service breakfast (it’s included in most cases) and have a picnic on your balcony. Make reservations at an extra-fee specialty restaurant.

4. Stay on the Ship.
It doesn’t matter if you are in the Caribbean or in some part away from the island of Jakarta or Sumatra, Indonesia where there are a lot of nice places to look at. But in most cases, you can only look at it from afar, on your deck outside your cabin. If you can stand not spending 6 hours crammed on a tour bus, stay onboard. Most facilities are still open, and you’ll have them to yourself. Besides, you’ll skip the risk of being left by your ship.


Monday, May 18, 2015

The World is a colorful Place

I know we all cannot get enough of colors. People say that there are mental effects of seeing colors which brighten up moods help stimulate happy hormones in our life. Westhill Consulting Travel and Tours provides you more colorful places to visit around the world:

Keukenhof Park, Lisse, The Netherlands
                Also called the “Garden of Europe,” Keukenhof Park (which covers 80 acres) is planted with over 7 million flower bulbs every year. Though the park is only open from March to May, it has been around since 1949 and remains a major attraction for tourists and dignitaries alike. Many people who have visited the place have thought that the flowers which is sprayed with tulips, roses and other wild flowers are fraud but when it seems too good to be true, they are actually real array of colors.

Kelimutu crater lakes, Indonesia
Far from the buzzing busy street of Jakarta, Indonesia, Kelimutu, one of hundreds of volcanoes in Indonesia, is unique in that it is topped with three crater lakes of drastically different colors. Tiwu Ata Mbupu (“Lake of Old People”) sits apart from the other two and appears deep blue or even black. Tiwu Nuwa Muri Koo Fai (“Lake of Maidens”) is separated from Tiwu Ata Polo (“Enchanted Lake”) by a shared crater wall. These lakes tend to be bright blue-green and red, respectively. The colors of these lakes have been known to change depending on the chemical composition of the water and the position of the sun.

Guilin Rice Terraces, Longji, China
Located in southern China close to Vietnam, the Longji terraced rice fields cover an area of almost 20,000 acres and rise as high as 3,600 feet into the air. These fields, nicknamed the “Dragon’s Backbone” because of their resemblance to scales, first appeared in this area around 1300 AD and take on a different appearance in every season, depending on the life cycle of the rice being grown. Many reviews has also been written on this place which shows petitions for it to be declared as one of man-made wonders of the world.

Lake Retba, Senegal
Literally translating into “pink lake,” this body of water north of the Cap Vert peninsula in northwest Africa is known for its high salt content, and gets its pink color from large concentrations of Dunaliella salina algae, which produce the red pigment as a byproduct of their metabolism. Coincidentally, Dunaliella salina is one of few organisms that can survive in such salty conditions, making Lake Retba an ideal home for the algae species.

Meenakshi Temple, Madurai, India
Located on the southern bank of the Vaigai River in the 2500-year-old city of Madurai, the Meenakshi Amman Temple is dedicated to the gods Meenakshi (Parvati) and Sundareswarar (Shiva). The temple consists of 14 gopurams (gateway towers), all between 100-170 feet high, and two vimana (shrines).