Category Archives: Travel

Middle East Trip: Picnic in Shiraz

Azin asks me if I have any plans today and whether or not I'd like to join her for a so-called Shirazi picnic in her friend's house. Since the first day I arrive in Tehran a week ago, my schedules were always packed with sightseeing and meeting CouchSurfing people. I did not have a single day of full rest and doing nothing. Somehow, I kinda miss that feeling. I figure, I have two more days before I come back to Tehran. That's enough time to do sightseeing and mingling with locals. Why would I want to miss out this golden chance? I finally say 'yes' to her invitation :)

Middle East Trip: A Tour of Persepolis et al

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Traveling to Iran would not be complete without visiting historic sites of the Great Archaemenid Empire. Since these sites are not too far away from Shiraz, I decided to visit them as soon as we arrive in the city from Yazd early morning. An Iranian guide, recommended by Lonely Planet, picks us up from the bus station to our ultimate destination. I'm hoping that by having a tour guide, we'd not only visit these places and be amazed with their architectures, but also learn about the history behind them.

Middle East Trip: Yazd – The City of Zoroastrianism

When doing my research on Iran before this Middle East trip, there were two particular cities that particularly caught my attention. Yazd is one of them. Being the centre of Zoroastrianism and the main religion of some of Persian great empires, Yazd is the city I would not want to miss. Even though I would be spending only a few hours in Yazd, I wouldn’t mind taking a bit of detour, just so that I can catch a glimpse of Yazd. Upon traveling around Iran for few days, I came to realize that indeed, I made the right decision to come all the way from Esfahan to Yazd. Zoroastrianism has been one of the defining elements of Persian culture.

Middle East Trip: Our Host in Esfahan

After dinner, Ikmal and I join Majid to discuss about Shia, the most misunderstood branch of Islam, merely because the majority of Muslims in this world are Sunnis. Our intention in starting such discussion is not to try to convince the other party that his view is wrong, but merely to know and understand Shia from a Shia's perspective.

Middle East Trip: Exploring Esfahan Continues

Our tour around the Imam Square continues to Ali Qapu Palace, which is unfortunately closing earlier than we expected. This used to be the place where Shah Abbas entertained his noble visitors and foreign ambassadors

Middle East Trip: Esfahan – Half of the World

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We arrive in Esfahan just after the call to a morning prayer. I managed to sleep a little bit during the 6-hour long train ride. It was noisy and bumpy, but this was expected as I was too used to the comfort of European trains. But I'm happy that I'm in Esfahan now! I've always wanted to go to this city, which is the former capital city of Persia. When I think of Iran, Esfahan is the first thing that comes into my mind. The famous Square is the reason why I am drawn into this place.

Middle East Trip: Exploring Tehran – Part 2

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The minute we step into Sharaf El Islam Restaurant we know that this is indeed a perfect place to taste authentic Iranian foods. My host, Reza, recommended me this restaurant located right inside the Grand Brazaar of Tehran. The restaurant is packed with Iranians and the tables are arranged very close to each other. The place is quite narrow and it is quite tricky to find a place to sit.

Malaysia: One Year On

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It was only a year and five months ago when I first stepped my foot in KL, with nothing but my luggage, a tourist visa, and the hope of getting a job. After only a month, I landed myself a job in a middle-sized IT company and tried my best to build my life here from scratch. At that moment in time, my journey in Malaysia had – more or less — started. I have to admit though — itRead more

Middle East Trip: Arriving in Tehran

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After what seems like the most boring 15-hour transit experience ever, my plane arrives in Tehran. I am finally here, in Iran. Today, 17th of December 2011, marks the start of my Middle East trip. The trip that I have always been waiting for. One dream can soon be checked off the list. I feel excited, thrilled, and nervous at the same time. Yes, I am alone here, at this moment. One part of me screams that I am insane. What am I doing in this totally strange place alone? The other part of me applauds myself for having the courage to do this. Well done, you have finally conquered your fear!

Culture Shock: Malaysia

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A friend once told me, “Their language is the same as ours. Their culture is similar too. Why do you still need to adapt?” Ooooh, yes! I still need to adapt and I’m struggling with it. Culture shock is inevitable, even for a person like me who have lived in 6 different countries across 3 continents. Living in a new country is like starting your life all over again from scratch. Finding new friends. Getting acquainted with a new culture.Read more

The Middle East Trip: Intro

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It’s been years since the last time I had a “major” trip. I did New Zealand during my last year in Australia. I did it as part of my official farewell to the continent. It was one of the most memorable trips that I had ever done. New Zealand’s natural beauty was not like any other places I had ever seen (mind you, I hadn’t explored Indonesia yet!). After that amazing trip, I vowed to myself that I would doRead more

The Queensland Floods & Can The Indonesians Learn from Them?

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You may have heard about the floods that devastated 75% of Queensland, which is about an area the size of France and Germany combined. It’s heartbreaking to say that Brisbane was badly affected by the floods. I lived there for 4 years until 2007, so the city had put a mark in my heart, somehow. There were a lot of beautiful memories that I remember fondly. It’s a beautiful city and some of my good friends live there. That’s whyRead more

Angklung Charity Concert

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About two weeks ago, my friends and I organised a concert dedicated to those affected by the Wasior, Mentawai, and Merapi disasters. The concert, Angklung Charity Concert: “Bamboo in Harmony”, was first initiated by teh Desiree, who was a member of an angklung group years ago, and was led by our lovely conductor, teh Ida Soesanti.

A Visit to KAUST

* Disclaimer: This post was written in October 2010. So a lot of things, including KAUST policy, might have changed. About a week ago, I got a chance to visit the campus of King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST) in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia. I had always been wanting to visit KAUST, but as the university was closely guarded, it was impossible to go there without knowing anyone who lived in the campus. Lucky for me, during an IndonesianRead more