Monday, March 31, 2014

Be a Responsible Traveller

WESTHILL CONSULTING, TRAVEL & TOURS, INC. based in Singapore provide services such as booking, tour facilitation, travel documentation and other related services to Southeast Asian countries like KL Malaysia, Beijing China, Jakarta Indonesia and many more.  However, aside from giving out warnings regarding scams, providing tips and advice out of our concern for travelers we also promote responsible travel.

We hope that the article Responsible Travel in Indonesia (Jakarta's Monsters and Mangroves) written by Sarah Baxter, a freelance teacher and writer, will create awareness about responsible tourism.

Jakarta is a sprawling and crowded city home to approximately 12 million people, which puts it in the category of “Mega-City.” Sadly, the size of the city is taking a toll on the health and well-being of its inhabitants. The smog that blankets Jakarta is legendary, and is chiefly produced by the cars, buses, and minivans that flood its highways. The pollution that motor vehicles, factories, and the improper burning of waste is the leading source of lung infections and other respiratory diseases affecting some of the city’s youngest inhabitants. Just walking down the street, visitors can get a sense of the chaotic lives of urban residents who must cope daily with the noise, traffic, and fumes that come with city living in Jakarta.  Yet, there are still some places that offer a retreat.

On Saturday morning, I wake up early and catch a taxi to the Muara Angke Wildlife Reserve to meet with members of the Jakarta Green Monsters (JGM), a non-governmental organization that cares for Jakarta’s last Mangrove Forest. The wildlife reserve is located in the Northwestern part of the city only 15 kilometers from the airport. Maneuvering through the traffic, my taxi passes large scale housing developments and modern-looking businesses before finally reaching the park.  While Muara Angke is located near a busy road, the sound of traffic diminishes as one enters. I look around at the large imposing trees trying to get my bearings, when I’m greeted by a park guide who shows me to where Edy and Riri are already waiting at a bird hide. These two, with binoculars around their necks, are enthusiastic bird watchers and committed members of the Green Monsters.

Over sweet tea and fried bananas at the forestry station, they tell me about the reserve and their work to preserve the ecosystem of the mangrove forest.  Originally 2,000 hectares along the Jakarta Bay, the reserve has been reduced to only 25 hectares making it the smallest wildlife sanctuary in Indonesia. The park still accommodates over 90 types of birds and other wildlife such as monkeys, monitor lizards, and snakes. The spidery arms of the mangrove trees, ideal for preventing erosion and controlling flood tides, also act as a net for the city’s garbage before it can be swept out to sea. The JGM group works valiantly to limit the damage caused by pollution and helps preserve the 25 hectares that remains of the park. In such a big and crowded city, the park feels like an oasis and offers a quick getaway to those wanting to see a different side of Jakarta.

Concerned about the marsh and its wildlife, JGM formed in 2006 to clean up the reserve and generate awareness of the wetlands. In addition to continual cleaning efforts organized every 3-4 months, the group’s first project was to replace the boardwalks winding through the park. The new walkways include a bird viewing shelter, and provide excellent observation spots for visitors. The group hopes that by generating knowledge about the importance of coastal wetlands, and the value of green spaces, they can show visitors how the environment plays a key role in the overall health of a city. In addition, by educating school children through visits to their classrooms and by conducting special organized viewings of the park, the group works to teach kids about the significance of water quality and proper waste disposal.

As we get up, Edy, Riri, and I bypass some lively monkeys near the front of the park, and take a stroll on the path that extends around 900 meters into the park’s center. They let me borrow the binoculars and I see a Fantail, and numerous other birds I can’t even begin to identify. We also see a baby monitor lizard scrambling over the wooden boardwalk and then disappearing back into the marsh. Around the reserve’s perimeter I can still see houses and buildings, occasionally a plane overhead, but in the park it’s easy to get lost while staring off at an seemingly immovable twisted mangrove tree, or waiting patiently for the next creature to present itself.

Like most environmental areas, there is a looming threat on the horizon. This particular area faces danger from the effects of Jakarta Bay’s North Coast reclamation project. The scheme entails developing Jakarta’s Northern area into a waterfront business district. A large number of people will lose their homes, and the project threatens to disrupt wildlife habitats. It’s even expected to affect the water flows of the tides. Regrettably, when people are not aware of the importance of their natural environment, and do not exert social pressure to maintain a balance between development, social welfare, and environmental protection, it’s much easier for a place’s natural assets to be lost.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Westhill Consulting Travel and Tours Tip: Top Restaurants in Bali and Jakarta, Indonesia

Heading To Bali Or Jakarta Anytime Soon? Westhill Consulting Travel & Tours Singapore Pulled Together Several Restaurants Within The Bali And Jakarta Indonesia Area.

Pondok Laguna – Jakarta, Indonesia
Offering traditional Indonesian cuisines in this open-aired seafood restaurant, with its deep fried gourami, and with 84% of reviews rating the restaurant very good to excellent, it’s one restaurant you’ll need to put on your itinerary when you head to Jakarta.

Lara Djonggrang – Jakarta, Indonesia
Ranked number 10 in the top restaurants in Indonesia, the interior is decorated in the traditional Indonesian style and is located in the Tugu Hotels. Great for any occasion, their signature dishes are: Nasi Campur, satay and banana pancake.

Bandar Djakarta – Jakarta, Indonesia
With over 180 reviews and quotes like “menu there... very tasty... already try all the menu and want to go there again and again” and “The food was really delicious, fresh and well presented” on TripAdvisor, this is one restaurant to visit.

Wacko Burger Cafe, Seminyak, Bali, Indonesia
One of the best restaurants in Bali, as the name suggests, the Wacko Burger CafĂ©, focuses on American/Australian style burgers and milkshakes, it’s a sneaky little place tucked away in a back street of Seminyak. If you’re missing home or just sick of traditional Indonesian foods, Wacko Burger could be your place.

Fair Warung Bale, Ubud
Tip: if you’re planning to visit Fair Warung Bale, book! This place is very popular and gets full early, so book in advance.  Besides offering great food, the place is also a working foundation doing good for the community as all revenue from the restaurant goes back to funding the foundation’s community goals and as a clinic helping provide assistance to children under 16 years, and young adults under 25 years.

These are just some of many great restaurants in Jakarta and Bali you can visit. Best advice if you’re planning your food odyssey is to do your research and tailor your restaurants to your taste pallet.

Warning! Watch out for scams in both cities. There are more of these tips, just visit Westhill Consulting Travel & Tours Singapore.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Places to visit in Jakarta, Indonesia

Looking for places to visit in Jakarta Indonesia?

There is no doubt that Jakarta is the heart and soul of Indonesia and one of the most exciting places to visit in Southeast Asia to enjoy an electrifying nightlife and shopping experience.

Whether you are visiting Jakarta on a stop-over trip to Bali, or visiting Jakarta on a long vacation, westhill consulting travel & Tours Singapore is hoping you’ll find plenty interesting places to visit and things to do in Jakarta besides shopping. Here are some tips! Have fun!

Merdeka Square

Historic Merdeka Square is Jakarta’s most important square and one of the top tourist sights in the city to visit because of other nearby attractions such as Merdeka Palace, Istiqlal Mosque and the National Museum of Indonesia.

In the heart of Merdeka Square, you’ll find the famed National Monument (pictured) surrounded by beautiful sculptured carved works depicting the history of Indonesia.

Inside the base of the National Monument, you’ll find the National History Museum and the Hall of Independence, both great places to learn about Indonesian history.

The square is also the focal point in the city at night when the National Monument is lit up. Within the vicinity, you'll also many landmarks, statues, parks such as West Merdeka Park where you can witness fun events like the fountain water show.

Taman Park

Taman Park, also known as Mini Indonesia Indah, is another of the places to visit in Jakarta Indonesia where everyone can have a fun day out.

Taman Park is one of the largest green areas in the city and a great place to unwind, do some bird-spotting and enjoy a picnic while taking in the lovely scenery.

The park also boasts the popular Indonesia Miniature Park where you can get a nice scaled overview of places in Indonesia such as Sumatra and Borneo. Within the park, you’ll also find many museums, an IMAX theatre and an Aquarium.

Jakarta Old Town

Jakarta Old Town is another of the places to visit in Jakarta Indonesia where you’ll find many more interesting tourist sights such as the Jakarta Kota Station and Jakarta Old Port.

Jakarta’s old port – Sunda Kelapa - is a great place to visit in itself because of the 12th century wooden ships and the port’s lookout tower, which offers great views of the port and the area around.

In Jakarta old town, you can also marvel at Dutch colonial-style buildings and visit many interesting places such as the Maritime museum, Jakarta History Museum and the Wayang museum which features a cool collection of puppets and dolls.

The Jakarta history museum is also worth passing by, as you can see more interesting pre-colonial and colonial artifacts and items such as old maps, stone tablets, paintings, swords, etc.

Jakarta Ancol Dreamland

If you’re traveling to Jakarta with the family and are looking for things to do in Jakarta with kids and teenagers, there is no better place to do this than at Jakarta’s largest recreation park – Ancol Dreamland.

Ancol Dreamland is located on the north coast of Jakarta overlooking the beautiful Java Sea, and it's a massive complex boasting a theme park, a Sea World, an aquarium and a fun Gondola cable car system which you can use to get around the recreation park and enjoy great views.

Jakarta’s Chinatown

If you’re looking to buy cheap CD’s, cameras and gadgets in general, Jakarta’s Chinatown in Glodok (Jakarta’s old town) is one of the best places to visit in Jakarta Indonesia to find all kind of cheap electronic goods.

Tanah Abang

Tanah Abang district is one the most upmarket areas in Jakarta and it’s a popular place to enjoy high end shopping and fine dining.

Not far from Tanag Abang Station, you’ll find Plaza Indonesia shopping mall and Grand Indonesia mall which are both home to fine restaurants, Sogo department stores, and designer boutiques such as Versace and Gucci. Tanag Abang is also home to the popular Tanag Abang textile market where you can shop for genuine Indonesian textiles like carpets and clothes.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Is Jakarta Dangerous?

Westhill Consulting Travel & Tours Singapore presents to you safety tips while travelling in Jakarta, Indonesia. Applicable to any Asian city.

Safety on the road: High
I think that your biggest threat while being in Jakarta will be dealing with motorized vehicles, whether your are walking, in a car, or in a motorcycle. If you take the taxi for instance, you will notice cars don’t have a safety belt in the back. If you take an ojek (moto-taxi), the driver will give you a shitty helmet and drive recklessly, putting your life in danger every second.

How to avoid it: Take silver bird taxis, go in the passenger seat, avoid taking ojeks, be very careful when walking in Jakarta.

Natural Disaster: High
Flood, earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis… Jakarta, as the rest of the country, is prone to natural disasters. In fact, according to theNatural Disaster Risk Index, Indonesia is the world’s second most dangerous nation regarding natural catastrophes after Bangladesh. I don’t think it can impact your stay in Jakarta though, because it is something you cannot really protect yourself from. All you can do is cross your finger and hope that everything will be OK.

Terrorism: Medium to High
I don’t know what I should say about terrorism. It happened in Jakarta and Bali, and even though the government is very active in fighting terrorists, we cannot ignore that new bombings could happen again in Jakarta/Indonesia in the future.

The targets of terrorists have always been places frequented by expats, like embassies, night clubs, restaurants or 5-star hotels. A safe precaution therefore is to avoid too crowded areas. Check your home country’s website for current warnings.

Some extremist religious groups have been attacking entertainment venues too, especially during religious times of the year like Ramadan. It is quite rare though and they are more scary than dangerous.

Pickpockets: Medium
It is the most common offence in Jakarta affecting expats: Having a small thing stolen while in a bar (usually a phone) or in a crowd. It is not so common either, but it happened to me with a camera, and it happened to a few of my friends, in particular in Stadium nightclub. I had once a problem with a drink that almost made me pass out… The guy I was with may have put something in it, but I’ll never know that for sure.

Robbery: Medium
I don’t have statistics about robbery, but from what I could observe, it involves most of the time the people working in your house: Maids, cooks, guards. It is usually low value items (in my situation, I had all my cleaning products disappearing…), but very annoying. To avoid any problems, look for staff that has been recommended to you by fellow expats, and pay them more than average.

Scams: High
Getting to pay the right price for things is a challenge in Jakarta when you are or when you look like an expat. Most of the times, it only requires negotiation, but sometimes, it gets tougher. Taxis are usually a pain in the ass: Apart from the reputed Blue Bird and Express brands, many drivers will try to get more from you by using various tricks: No meter, longer routes, fiddled meters. Beware also of “fake” Blue Bird taxis: They look exactly like them but belong to other companies. The danger is not so high, usually you only end up paying a few dollars extra, but in some cases, drivers can get violent (it happened with girls travelling alone)

Some people will warn you about credit card fraud, and you should be cautious about that. The same precaution applies when you want to change money: Always prefer a bank rather than street vendors.

Police: High
Having to deal with the police is one of the worst annoyances in Jakarta for an expat, especially if you own a car or a motorbike. Personally I take a personal pride in never bribing policemen, but to do so you need to be “clean” and have all the appropriate documentation with you (a copy of the passport, driving license, etc..).

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Political instability: Low
Many tourists are afraid of the potential instability of Jakarta and Indonesia. I know many people in Malaysia from Chinese descent who refuses to come to Jakarta, because they are scared of what happened during the 1998 riots. I also know many people who are afraid of going to a Muslim country, because they think people won’t be tolerant if they say they are Catholics. I think there is absolutely no reason to be scared. Indonesians are among the most welcoming and tolerant people on earth. Terrorism is only supported by a extremely tiny minority, and you will realize that Indonesia is not the dark, dangerous country some medias are trying to describe.

Health Hazards (Food poisoning, pollution, etc): Average
Jakarta is often dirty and not always very hygienic. It is very easy to get small diseases or asthma. If you are fragile, or if you are travelling with children or elderly people, I would advise you to be prepared to be in a hostile environment. I think if you avoid the most risky situation everything should be OK: No walking, no street food, do wash your hands, peel your fruits, drink bottled water, etc…

Physical assault: Low
It is very uncommon, but it happens. The most often, crime happens in Jakarta among gangs so you shouldn’t have troubles with it. Some clubs in North Jakarta have the reputation to be controlled by mafias, so if you want to be safe, you can start avoiding those

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Postcards From Bali

If you thought Bali was just another notch for your travel belt, we've got good news: with a little in-the-know, it can also be one of the most rewarding destinations in Asia.

Travel destination: Bali

Where I stayed: The Pan Pacific Nirwana Bali Resort, which is approx. 40 minutes from Seminyak and the ideal escape from the chaos. Regardless of whether you have or haven’t been to Bali before, this is the place to stay: you’ll be pampered till your heart’s content, eat like a king and live like a kid: the resort has four pools and a 54-metre waterslide.

Who I booked through:, which offers bespoke travel deals at amazing prices. Need to know: the staff have personally tried every escape on the site (the lucky things), which means they’ve been able to curate each trip to ensure it’s the best deal.

What I wore: Lots of lightweight fabrics! It was extremely hot when I was there. I mostly wore sheer shirts with printed skirts and flats, summer dresses with shoulder bags and long-sleeved tops with shorts. Be aware that it’s best not to show too much skin here out of respect for the locals.

Suitable for (couples, singles or families): There are a lot of backpackers, couples, families and friends travelling together. Basically, anything goes here.

Best shopping locations: Head to Seminyak via the free shuttle bus from Pan Pacific. Here you’ll find lots of little clothing boutiques, cheap CD stores and beauty spas.

Best dining experience: The brand new Merah Putih in Seminyak, which serves sumptuous Indonesian cuisine that will set your tastebuds alight. The architecture is equally amazing: it’s somewhat akin to being dining inside a tropical spaceship and will leave you reminiscing long after you leave. Top tip: this place also offers some of the best cocktails in town.

Best drinking experience: Head to the infamous ocean-side Potato Head club to chink glasses with Bali’s trendy high-flyers and stylish locals. You’ll want to make it in time for sunset, so head here at least an hour before: the queues to get in can be lengthy, but for good reason!

Must-do - Adults: If you need a break from it all and came to Bali simply to relax, there are a million and one low-key things to do at the Pan Pacific Nirwana Bali Resort: from the 18-hole golfcourse (designed by Greg Norman, naturally) to the deluxe cooking and outdoor yoga classes on offer, you’ll never be bored. But let’s face it: the array of pools here is the big drawcard: if, like me, you’re a kid at heart, you’ll probably be content to make the most of the resort’s four pools, two jacuzzi’s and, oh, did we mention the waterslide?!

Must-do - Kids/Kids at Heart: As part of an ongoing program to conserve the endangered Green Sea Turtle, Pan Pacific Nirwana Bali offers the chance for guests to release baby turtles into the ocean. This once-in-a-lifetime experience is not to be missed: there’s something spectacular about releasing an animal into the wild for the first time. Not to mention the cuteness factor!

Highlight / don’t miss: The Tanah Lot temple, which you can walk to during low tide via the beach from the Pan Pacific. This spectacular building sits on a clifftop and is said to be one of the most spiritually important sites in Bali. Go at sunset to experience the cesspool of people milling around against an amazing backdrop.

Relaxation factor: There are a million and one beauty spas in Bali, but the good news is, you don’t even have to leave your hotel to find one of the best. The Pan Pacific offers a range of treatments including massages, facials and reflexology, with an emphasis on total relaxation. In other words, if you’re the type that can’t switch off, pay them a visit and you’ll soon forget your own name.

Budget (Splurge or Steal): – Splurge, but the value you get from your money is amazing. Note the Pan Pacific Nirwana Bali Resort is also happy to organise weddings. We’re fairly sure you won't have to twist your guest’s arms too much to come here...

Cost: Starting from $202 a night, you can choose from a variety of rooms and suites.

Monday, March 17, 2014

27 Travel Tips to Help You Became a Master Traveler

Every industry has its own "best practices" -- proven rules and standards that guide the industry. Travel is no different. There are many rules to live by that help us navigate the unknown world with fewer costly mistakes and help quicken the pace in which we melt into the local culture. They make travel easier, better, and less stressful.

I have my own rules.

Below are my 27 golden rules for travel. If you follow them, you'll be a master traveler, able to travel the world with swashbuckling zeal and expert ninja-like knowledge... all without breaking the bank so you can keep cutting a path forward through the world for longer:

Get a no-fee ATM card: Why give your money to the banks? Get an ATM card that doesn't charge any fees and use that extra money for more traveling. Over the long term those $2-5 charges really add up. I use Charles Schwab as my bank but you can also find many others that offer no-fee accounts -- or use a one that is part of the Global ATM alliance, and pay no fees within that network. There is never a reason to pay a bank fee.

Be adventurous: You only live once. You're going to get chances to do wild things you've never dreamed of doing when you travel. Don't hold back. Count to 3, say "screw it", and take the leap. You didn't come this far for nothing. Say yes when someone asks you to go rock climbing, salsa dancing, spelunking, or try the world's hottest pepper despite not liking spicy food.

Get a rewards credit card: Why pay for travel when you can get it for free? Use a travel rewards credit card to earn points and miles that can be redeemed for free travel. Additionally, sign up for a no-fee card like Capital One's No Hassle Card, Chase Ink, or United's MileagePlus to avoid overseas transaction fees. Through travel hacking and using these cards, I've gained hundreds of thousands of miles every year - that's enough for even a family of four!

Always carry a back up: Always carry a back up bank and credit card in case one is lost, stolen, or hacked. That way while you are fixing the issue, you still have access to your money. Instead of the problem crippling your trip, it merely is an annoyance.

Travel alone: Travel alone at least once. It will teach you to be self-sufficient, encourage independence, allow you to get to know yourself, and make you more outgoing by forcing you to talk to strangers. You'll be surprised how easy it is to find yourself on the road.

Join a frequent flier program: Get rewarded for all of those flights you'll be taking by joining a frequent flier program. Then you'll earn miles, perks for flying, and free flights. Don't miss out. Miles are like money -- and you wouldn't waste money, would you?

Learn basic phrases: Locals don't expect you to be an expert, but learning a few basic phrases in the local language will go a long way to endearing you in their hearts and making them go the extra mile for you. It will bring a smile to their face that you tried and might even lead to some friendships and invitations out to events. "Hello," "how are you," and "thank you" go a long, long way no matter where you are in the world.

Stay in hostels: Get to know other travelers and experience the communal spirit of traveling by staying in hostels a few times. They aren't all the dirty party places you see in movies. Most hostels are very clean, offer breakfast, have Wi-Fi, organize events, have comfy beds, and know the local area very well. They also aren't just for young backpackers; you'll find people of all ages (and even some families) staying there. Try them out. You may like it.

Use tourist boards: Local tourist offices are a wealth of knowledge. When you get to a new destination, visit the tourist office and ask the staff an insane number of questions about the place. They know exactly where to do what and when. Visiting one is often one of the first things I do in a new city.

Couchsurf: Get a free place to stay and get to know locals with a hospitality network. Using these networks allows you to stay with a local for FREE and get the inside scoop on an area. I've met some amazing people through hospitality networks who have shown me a side of life I never would have known otherwise.

Try new foods: Culture is often best experienced through food. Don't be afraid to try new things. Get out of your comfort zone and experiment. You might actually like it (those fried caterpillars in Zambia were delicious!).

Be flexible with your plans: Travel is a series of happy accidents with way leading to way. Don't skip going to that random city with the friends you just met because your itinerary says something different. You'll regret it. Go with the flow and be open to new things -- that's when the magic happens.

Pack light: Take it from a former (and sometimes current) overpacker: you never need half the stuff you take. Put all you need in a pile and then remove half of it. The lighter you travel, the easier you travel.

Take extra money: Something always happens. I never thought I would fly last minute to go to Fiji, need to replace my camera in Italy, or buy an extra iPhone cable in Australia. Always take extra money just in case. You may not need it but you don't want to be without a little extra when something bad happens.

Say yes a lot: Don't limit yourself. Say yes to new experiences. Adventure and exploring the unknown are what travel is all about.

Get lost: Meander through a new city without a map. Get lost -- because in the end, you aren't really getting lost, you're just discovering new experiences. So put down the map and wander. Eventually, you'll find your way.

Call home: Your family miss you. Don't forget to call and say hello.

Get a phone: It will be easier to stay in touch with friends (and call home), meet up with other travelers, and contact hostels with a phone. SIM cards and pre-paid phones are cheap, so there's no excuse not to stay connected.

Travel slow: This isn't a race or a competition. I know you want to get a lot in with your limited time, but you see a lot more when you see a lot less. Travel slow and experience each place. Don't race from train station to station; that will set you up for a stressful, unenjoyable time. With travel, less is more.

Live somewhere once: Stop at least once. Get to know a place. Learn the language. Make local friends. Explore. Become the local. Living in a foreign place gives you a different perspective on life and a real sense of what it's like to be an outsider.

Avoid taxis: They just cost a lot. Don't use them unless you don't have any other option.

Bring a water bottle: Not only are all those plastic water bottles bad for the environment, but the cost of each one adds up over time. A water bottle here, a water bottle there and you've spent $50 this month on water. Get a metal bottle and drink the tap water.

Buy travel insurance: You never know what could happen on the road. Get travel insurance so that if something happens to you or you break your camera, you're covered. It's only a few dollars a day. Don't be an idiot.

Bring basic first-aid: Cuts and scraps happen and you can get what you need anywhere in the world, but it's still good to carry bandages, antibacterial cream, and some hydrocortisone cream just in case. Also carry duct tape -- you'll never know when it'll come in handy.

Get off the beaten path : London, Paris, and the temples of Kyoto are all amazing for a reason, but get off the beaten path, go away from the crowds, and explore on your own. Find something new, stick out, meet the locals, and discover. The road less traveled is usually a good one.

Take photos of your friends: Years from now, you'll want to look back at your younger self and see all the people who changed your life. Nostalgia can be a wonderful thing. Make sure you take photos of your friends. You'll want them later.

And finally, the most important tip of them all...

Ignore all my tips and do whatever you want: It's your trip. Go where you want, when you want, and for how long you want. Don't worry about this or that. Make mistakes. Learn. Make more mistakes. Have fun and become a better traveler. At the end of the day, you won't look back and think "if only I had more miles" but instead "Damn, that was a lot of fun."

So get out there and have some fun.

You deserve it.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Go and Travel to Jakarta

Westhill Consulting Travel and Tours Singapore one of our most popular destinations Chaotic, crazy and crowded. But that’s what makes Indonesia’s capital so unique.

There are places you will fall in love with at first sight and some that you won’t. It’s usually the first impressions that makes us love or hate a place. But cities are like women. Some will throw themselves at you, and some will make you chase them. Which woman would you go for?

Jakarta, Indonesia is an example of the latter, you have to dig a little bit deeper to get to know her. She may seem hesitant at first and is happy to let you wait, until you take the time to properly understand her. Then, she’ll give you everything you need. To me, she might even be the unofficial queen of Southeast Asia.

Jakarta is not Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur or Singapore. Some people say “If you don’t like her, she won’t like you”. After a few days I understood why. To be honest, after landing in Jakarta I had no idea what to expect. You don’t hear much about it and as soon as you exit the terminal you already feel lost. It is big and hot and busy. Not to mention the traffic. I didn’t really get the vibe at first. Although soon enough, I understood what the magic of Jakarta was. It is truly Asia, more so than many other Southeast Asian cities you will discover on your journey.

So here are a few reasons why you should experience Jakarta for yourself.

Jakarta traffic is more symbolic of ‘Asia’ than Bangkok and Saigon put together

Three million cars, nine million motorbikes and inadequate public transport. Experts predict that in 2014 the whole traffic in the city will collapse. During rush hour the average speed in the inner city is around 10 km/h and if you’re lucky, it will only take you three hours to get to work. The average citizen of Jakarta has his breakfast in the car on their way to work.

Yes the traffic in Jakarta is full on and you need superhuman patience and nerves of steel to survive it. But it can also have positive effects. During rush hour there needs to be at least three people in the car otherwise drivers get fined, and a lot of Indonesian mothers who normally would have trouble finding employment have taken this fact and used it to their advantage. They offer their presence to wealthy businessmen and sitting in their car with them during these peak hours to help them avoid the fine in exchange for some income. Genius.

Find a rooftop on any evening and listen to adzan, Islam’s call to prayer

My CouchSurfing host lived somewhere in the middle of the city in a typically tall building. I explored its rooftop which overlooked the surrounding areas and on the horizon was a beautiful view of Jakarta’s skyline. It was around 7 p.m. when the sun was going to rest, when the call to prayer occurred. It was such a unique experience in this city. You could hear it from many mosques all over the city. It is hard to explain what I felt at that moment, but it really left an impression.

Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation with 87 percent following Islam as their religion.

If people are talking about going to the ‘stadium’ they ain’t talking about football

No opinion in Jakarta is more divided than those about the Stadium. Some people love it, and others hate it. You hear many, many stories about it and it’s up to you whether you believe them or not. One thing is for sure, whenever you ask about Jakarta’s nightlife someone will mention the Stadium.

What is this place though and why is it so popular? Well, one thing that is heavily associated with it are drugs. Sure, you will find drugs in any night club in the world but at the Stadium it seems to be a continuous issue due to the fact that because most Indonesians don’t drink alcohol due to their religious beliefs, they might substitute it with a pill instead.

True or not, most of world’s top DJ’s have performed or will most likely perform at Stadium at some point in their careers. It is a great place with awesome acts and a great audience. Otherwise people wouldn’t talk about it. I reckon it is a must see and if you like good techno, then the Stadium is definitely worth checking out.

You can experience Indonesia in just one day in Jakarta

How can I see a whole country in a day by just staying in Jakarta, that doesn’t make sense. Yes that’s what I thought too. My local friends took me to a park called Taman Mini Indonesia Indah, which essentially translates to “Beautiful Indonesia Miniature Park”. The park was opened in 1975 and unfortunately doesn’t really look well maintained. The lizard house especially looked a bit sad and I felt sorry for the animals. But once you’re there you get the chance to pat a Komodo dragon, even though it probably hasn’t moved since 1975.

But it’s still a great way to get to know the local culture of each province in Indonesia. You get to learn about local habits, look at different architecture, clothing, food and many more aspects of Indonesia’s culture. There is a big lake in the middle of the park with a little island in the shape of the country. If you have the guts to take the cable car you can enjoy a stunning view of it from above.

Indonesians will make you feel like a star

First of all, Indonesians are super hospitable people and they are very friendly towards foreigners. But there aren’t as many foreign tourists in Jakarta as you might think. You will get a lot of attention and the locals will genuinely be very keen to get to know you. That’s in fact amazing to me. In Thailand a lot of the locals seem to get easily bemused and simultaneously annoyed by the mass tourists, and this won’t be the case in Indonesia.

The most surprising thing was the local CouchSurfing scene though. I’d received about a hundred various emails offering help, recommendations and hosting offers. I was blown away by the kindness of those people so I decided to meet as many as I could. We organized a big CouchSurfing meeting and many local Indonesian travelers attended. Their enthusiasm was unbelievable and I made a lot of friends that day. Even a crew from Metro TV came and filmed a little documentary for the national channel about CouchSurfing.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Westhill Consulting Travel & Tours based in Singapore Offers New Family Friendly Trips

The active travel consultant company Westhill Consulting Travel & Tours based in Singapore sets international adventure vacation standards.  The company announces 10 new-for-2014 adventure destinations that are all value-driven family.

The company’s founder and CEO says, “I know how important family is and I value keeping the family tradition going.  It has been my personal mission in life.  This year we took a closer look at our itineraries and prices and offer as much value and relief as we can.  We offer kid-friendly lodgings with exemplary service and cuisine, all at a very competitive price.  We assure you won't be having any complaints.”

Westhill Consulting Travel & Tours Singapore accept children of all ages.  And since there are no age restrictions on custom and private trips, family trips are becoming increasingly popular.  Grandparents can also come with travel plans, including extended family members.
The company has carefully designed itineraries to include supervised activities for kids while adults enjoy a candlelit meal or some private downtime.  A special child pricing for the child or children with parents or grandparents is offered.  There are also some other special offers for families such as an extra guide and van and such-kid friendly equipment as tag-along bikes, squirt guns and games.  

“We've created the perfect blend of cross-generational activity, comfort and adventure to satisfy adventurers of all ages with many choices and flexibility on our family vacation trips,” Westhill says.
Accommodations are carefully designed to combine child-friendly elements.
Here is a sample of new family friendly trips of Jakarta, Indonesia Tour: source 
Laser Game

Technology has improved on paintball and now you can enjoy the same fun as paintball without the pain of getting hit or the mess of the paint.  Laser Game uses infrared technology to record hits on an individual or a team. At the end of the session a printout is generated with the record of all the action during the 15-minute session.  Played in a maze with black light, this is a great activity for children 8 years and older - all the way to adults.  Corporations are a using a lot laser games as a way to encourage team building or outings for their young executives. The company offers a free training session which includes safety advice and warnings. 


Kidzania is a role playing indoor theme park. Children are given the opportunity to work at over 70 professions with opportunities to become a doctor or a pilot or baker for the day. They are paid with Kidzos, the official currency of the park. There are two sessions during the day, 9:00– 2:00 and 3:00 – 8:00. Because of its popularity, it is best to make reservations for your child. Kidzania is located in Pacific Place Mall in Jakarta.  

Sunday, March 9, 2014

10 Things to Know About Travel in Southeast Asia

Lots of globetrotters and backpackers have journeyed to the fertile and culturally rich Southeast Asia. Known for its beautiful beaches, mesmerizing historical sights and a touch of adventurousness, this comparatively inexpensive travel destination baits thousands amongst thousands of people every year with landmarks like Angkor Wat, Cambodia; the city of Bangkok, Thailand; and the scenic views of Ha Long Bay, Vietnam. Don’t forget Jakarta Indonesia a surprise in Southeast Asia.

As much as we highly recommend you visit these places, the prudent traveler will do his/her homework as to abide the laws and traditions of these very different countries, as well as be prepared to face the risks, both financial and otherwise that could wind up tarnishing your vacation.

Almost everything is negotiable, almost: Haggling can be more beneficial in Southeast Asia than in most places in the world. Vendors at most malls and shops do not have price tags and it is common that when you ask for one, the price will be quite high because it looks like you have cash to burn. Don't be afraid to ask for a lower price since another vendor just a few feet way is sure to be selling the same thing.

The food is great, just be careful: Renowned for its amazing cuisine, both on the street and in the restaurants, eating in SE Asia is one of the most exciting parts of going, but be cautious before eating just anything. One tip is to check if you see other patrons dining at a location before you go in.

Also, many of these countries have free English-written dining guides. Check them out.

Watch your pockets: Whether you are on the back of a motorbike or walking down the street, muggings and scams happen everywhere. Keep your personal belongings near to you at all times, perhaps consider a fanny pack or only bringing along essentials where you're out of the hotel. This is a justified warning.

There is more to life than 'backpacker street': SE Asian countries have become very good at creating mini-tourism hubs of inexpensive hotels or hostels and surrounding them with vendors and bars and everything you need so that you don't leave.

Granted, in places like Saigon and Bangkok, they are a lot of fun, but make a point to get out and explore other places. You'll never know what's waiting just around the corner.

Wetshill Consulting Travel & Tours based in Singapore specializes in in giving advice and tips for tourists from Australia, Canada, US and all countries all over the world.

Check the local rags and mags: As I mentioned before, most SE Asian countries have English-written guides. That's because in a number of countries there, there is already an established community of expatriates. If you are looking to just find your bearings and want a safe bet on places to go, pick one up.

Be prepared to be approached by strangers: Locals in Southeast Asia are often very nice toward westerners and truthfully enjoy telling you how nice you look. Whether it is coming from a man or woman, get ready for a swarm of compliments on your appearance. It may seem a little strange at first, but you will get used to it. I promise.

This scotch does not taste like scotch: Drinks are a quarter of the price than what you'd find in Europe or in the U.S., the reason being that many of the typical name brands are regionally produced and use local ingredients, so don't be shocked when your beloved Grey Goose on ice tastes a little different from what you are used to. Use the opportunity to try some very interesting locally produced spirits.

Take the tour deals seriously: Pretty much anywhere you go (of the major tourist destinations) there are sure to be tour pamphlets sitting around with great deals. From boat rides to day trips, there are great tours around that will get you where you need to go.

Hire local transport for the day: One great way to get around is to hire a tuk tuk or a moto-driver for the whole day to take you everywhere you want to go for a very nominal price. Your driver can also work as a de facto tour guide, getting you around to the spots you may not have thought of and that you would regret not seeing.

When you can, take a bus or train: When it comes to budget traveling, this is the way. Night buses get you from one country to the next for next to nothing, although they do take longer, no doubt about that. Roads between many destinations are well enough to travel, although there are going to be bumpy rides. None the less, when you need to do it on the cheap, this is the best option.

Article Source:

Monday, March 3, 2014

Travel Tips

It's always important to take care of your health, but there are additional concerns to keep in mind when you're traveling.

Whether you're taking a quick trip with your family or studying abroad for several months, it's easier to get sick when you're in a new place because your body hasn't had a chance to adjust to the food, water, and air in a new environment. Traveling can bring you in contact with things that your body isn't used to.

Here are some tips on keeping your travel experience as healthy as possible.

The stress and excitement of travel can make you more likely to get sick, but if you follow a few simple tips, you're more likely to stay healthy throughout your trip — and your trip will definitely be more enjoyable. The good news is that as a teen, your immune system is as strong as an adult's, but lack of sleep and a poor diet can make it easier for you to become sick.

The first thing you should do if you're heading overseas is to find out what kinds of vaccinations you'll need in advance because different countries have different requirements. In the United States, contact your doctor or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for a list of necessary vaccinations. You'll want to allow plenty of time for this step in case you need to get vaccines that require more than one dose.

Common Travel Troubles
Three of the most common health problems that you may experience when traveling are jet lag, altitude sickness, and diarrhea. When you fly across time zones, the differing amounts of light can change your internal body clock, resulting in a condition known as jet lag. Jet lag may cause some symptoms that are bummers on a fun trip, including upset stomach, insomnia, and tiredness.

There are some things you can do to combat jet lag; for example, if you're traveling from west to east, you should stay out of the sun until the day after your arrival. If you're flying from east to west, go for a brisk walk as soon as possible after you arrive.

Altitude sickness is caused by dry air, a decrease in oxygen, and low barometric pressure when you travel to a higher altitude than you're used to. As a result, you may have problems, such as headaches, dehydration, and shortness of breath. Some people are affected at 5,000 feet (1,524 meters), but others aren't affected until they reach altitudes of 10,000 feet (3,048 meters) or more. Find out what altitude you're traveling to before you go to see if altitude sickness could be a problem.

The best prevention for altitude sickness is to gradually increase your altitude every day to get used to it. If that isn't possible, a drug known as acetazolamide can help relieve and even prevent symptoms of altitude sickness. If you think that you might get altitude sickness, talk with your doctor before you leave home.

The topic of diarrhea may seem gross, but it can be a serious problem. Traveler's diarrhea, known as turista, often occurs when a foreign type of bacteria enters your digestive tract, usually when you eat contaminated food or water. The best way to prevent turista is to be very careful of the food you eat and the water you drink on the road

Sunday, March 2, 2014


Jakarta, the capital city of the Republic of Indonesia, is a special territory enjoying the status of a province, consisting of Greater Jakarta, covering an area of 637.44 square km. Located on the northern coast of West Java, it is the center of government, commerce and industry and as such has an extensive communications network with the rest of the country and the outside world. As Indonesia's main gateway, the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport serves a growing number of international airlines and domestic flights. Jakarta is a city of contrasts; the traditional and the modern, the rich and the poor, the sacral and the worldly, often stand side by side in this bustling metropolis. Even its population, gathered from all those diverse ethnic and cultural groups which compose Indonesia, are constantly juxtaposed as an ever- present reminder of the national motto; Unity in Diversity.

Finding its origin in the small early 16th century harbor town of Sunda Kelapa, Jakarta's founding is thought to have taken place on June 22, 1527, when it was re-named Jayakarta, meaning

Glorious Victory by the conquering Prince Fatahillah from neighboring Cirebon. The Dutch East Indies Company which captured the town and destroyed it in 1619, changed its name into Batavia and made it the center for the expansion of their power in the East Indies. Shortly after the outbreak of World War II, Batavia fell into the hands of the invading Japanese forces who changed the name of the city into Jakarta as a gesture aimed at winning the sympathy of the Indonesians.

The name was retained after Indonesia achieved national independence after the war's end.

The ethnic Jakartan called "Orang Betawi" speaks Betawi Malay, spoken as well in the surrounding towns such as Bekasi and Tangerang. This language has two variations: the conventional Betawi Malay and the modern Jakarta Malay. While the first is spoken by the elder people, born and bred in Jakarta, the second is spoken by the younger generation and migrants.

Jakarta's architecture reflects to a large extent the influx of outside influences which came and has remained in this vital seaport city. The Taman Fatahillah Restoration Project, begun in the early 1970s has restored one of the oldest sections of Jakarta also known as Old Batavia to approximately its original state.

The old Portuguese Church and warehouse have been rehabilitated into living museums. The old Supreme Court building is now a museum of fine arts which also houses part of the excellent Chinese porcelain collection of former Vice President Adam Malik. The old Town Hall has become the Jakarta Museum, displaying such rare items as Indonesia's old historical documents and Dutch period furniture.

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Its tower clock was once returned to England to be repaired under its lifetime guarantee, which up to now has already lasted hundreds of years.

One of the most interesting tourist attractions is the "Beautiful Indonesia in Miniature Park" popularly called "Taman Mini". Built to portray the variety of cultures found within the many islands contained in the Republic of Indonesia, this open-air museum comprises the many architectural forms of arts and traditions of all 27 provinces. It is proof of the country's motto of Unity in Diversity as well as Freedom of Religion depicted in the houses of worship built on the grounds.

Jakarta has preserved its past and is developing for the future. Skyscrapers in the center of the city are part of a new look.

Modern luxury hotels today cater to the discriminating visitors. Transport within the city is plentiful. It should be noted that museums are open daily from 8.00 a.m. (except Mondays) till 2.00 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. On Fridays closing hour is 11.00 a.m. and on Saturdays at 1.00 p.m.