Tuesday, July 16, 2019


Grand design: Construction on Milan Cathedral in Piazza del Duomo, Milan, started in 1386 and went on for centuries, with finishing touches applied in 1965.

ITALY, known for its glory and splendor, is on the bucket list of many people who want to wine, and dine and marvel at the beautiful architecture and old ruins that grace the country. This summer I took the opportunity to visit the country. Check out these recommended places.
My first stop was Milan, the fashion hub of Italy, which was breezeless and humid in June. The heat was piercing to the skin, so an umbrella or a hat would be advisable to use. We took the hop on hop off bus and got off at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, a famous mall selling all the latest Italian brands. This is a highlight in the city, as it has many fine dining restaurants complemented by a McDonald’s inside a side mall.
The Galleria is a main stopover because it also leads to Piazza Del Duomo, where rooftop restaurants have the best views of the area and the prices are much lower than the restaurants inside the mall. The Piazza is square in shape, and pharmacies, restaurants and souvenir stores can be found there.
Inside the Piazza is the breathtaking Milan Cathedral. The cathedral is 157 meters long and can accommodate 40,0000 people. Inside the church is many separate altars with beautifully crafted statues. One of the most famous ones is the copper statue of Madonnanina.
Even the exterior of the cathedral has many statues on it depicting the lives of Saints, Mary and the history of Milan.
Another famous thing to see in this city is the Last Supper painting of Leonardo da Vinci. Make sure you book your tickets before arriving in Milan as the place is always fully booked.


Serenity: The Ponte Vecchio, an arch bridge in Florence, Italy, stretches across the Arno River. 

Upon reaching the city, one can quickly discover how Florence differs from Milan. The city is calm, serene and enchanting and is bursting with art and Renaissance culture.
Two days is enough for a quick tour of the city, starting with the Palazzo degli Uffizi, a U-shaped gallery housing the best Renaissance collection. Then there is Florence’s own version of the Duomo, which is located in Piazza del Duomo and boasts a beautiful marble façade that is pink, white and green. The Museo di San Marco boasts beautiful paintings, so it is also worth a visit.
The cuisine offered by the city is a must-try, giving a different flavor to Italian cuisine. Many restaurants line the downtown area of the city and offer breathtaking views.

Leaning Tower of Pisa

Iconic building: A horse-drawn carriage awaits passengers in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. 

If you have already seen most of Florence and want to visit a place nearby, your best option would be the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Just an hour away by car from Florence, you can see one of the most famous places in the world. Don’t forget to put on sunblock and take along an umbrella if you are visiting during summer, as the area where the leaning tower is located is a massive open space.
What’s amazing is as you enter you will see that everything is sparkling white around the square enhanced by a green garden. I recommend traveling at summer as there are not many tourists during this season and it is thus easier to walk around the area and the queue to go up the tower is shorter. There also carriages available that tour around the area.


Look closer: The ceilings of St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City feature what look like elaborate paintings, but are actually highly detailed mosaics. 

This city explodes with ruins in every nook and corner, which has all been kept the way they are. An Asian city with those kinds of ruins might be termed an underdeveloped place, but in Rome it is art of historical significance. Although at first sight the city seems overrated and overhyped, as days pass, one will comprehend the necessity of maintaining the ruins as they are.
There are many tourist spots in Rome, one of the most famous ones is the Colosseum. From afar it may seem like a half cracked façade, but upon entering it one can feel the historic action that took place centuries ago.
Another place to see is the smallest city in the world, the Vatican. Covering 100 acres, the city is not part of Italy but is independent. People who live here have different passports. A hired guide is advisable upon visiting this place to ensure an easier entrance to the city. Upon entering the city, you will be situated in St. Peter’s Square, which is surrounded by a colonnade.
Before entering the church, you will be shown paintings with explanations of their representations. Upon entering the first floor of St. Peter’s Basilica, the floor is lined with different creatively crafted white statues. There is only a one-track pathway inside the Basilica.
On the higher floors, one can enjoy the paintings of Michelangelo on the ceilings and walls all depicting a historical tale. At the end of the tour, the last stop is an altar, where everyone had to maintain a pin-drop silence. A moment of prayer is offered by everyone waiting at the altar.
The popular Trevi fountain should not be missed when visiting Rome. It is very crowded so be prepared to watch your belongings and squeeze your way for a photo.

Lake Como

Lake Como is a town surrounded by sparkling blue calm water.

Only three hours from Milan by car, Lake Como is a town surrounded by sparkling blue calm water. One can just sit on the edge of the water sipping a hot Italian cappuccino only to be mesmerized for hours by a lake encircled by everything.
There are many speedboats available that can take tourists around the lake. Many villas surround the lake, including Villa Balbianello, Villa Carlotta, Basila del San Fedele and Santuario della Madonna del Soccorso.
Each villa offers its own unique and spectacular view. Drop into one of the restaurants here to have fine Italian dishes and indulge in the beautiful interiors of the hotels at Lake Como.[Sources: The Jakarta Post, Friday, Octobe 27, 2017|By : Aruna Harjani]

Saturday, July 13, 2019

West Bali as nature-based ecotourism destination

Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelagic country, is making concerted efforts to develop its incredible ecotourism potential, with West Bali National Park (TNBB) serving as a pilot project.
“As a tropical country, Indonesia’s superiority is showcased by its national parks and the country’s rich biodiversity. Indonesia is the second richest country in terms of biodiversity after Brazil,” said Deputy Tourism Minister for Human Resources and Institutions.
TNBB attracts tourists with special interests in nature. “So, the national park has its own market,” she said, adding. ‘Today, nature has become an increasingly preferred tourist attraction.”
Rizki highlighted the importance of collaboration among different stakeholders with respect to developing the national park as the nature based ecotourism destination.
“We encourage tour operators to design forest-based packages and the government will help promote them to potential markets.” She said.
TNBB, Komodo, Bromo Tengger Semeru and Bunaken, to name but a few, are among the country’s national parks that serve as magnets for international visitors.
With nature becoming an alluring treat, conservation is, indeed, a prerequisite and is safeguarded by regulations.
Law No.5/1990 on natural resources and ecosystem conservation is the primary regulation development, according to Director General of KSDAE.
But monitoring on the ground is of equal importance to protect natural habitats, ecosystem and biodiversity. “Balai Taman Nasional (the National Park Office) and tour operators are directly responsible for it,” he said.
Conservation also involves economic and social aspects, with local communities expected to reap the benefits of the ecotourism activity. “Through the ctivity, we can help them improve their welfare. In this way, they feel obliged to conserve the biodiversity and ecosystem,” he noted.
Different stakeholders should refer to the regional development master plan for ecotourism development to ensure good collaboration,” he said.
Meanwhile TNBB head said that thanks to good collaboration among local stakeholders including BTN, the regency administration, village administrations, customary institutions, private sectors and local communities, the population of the wildlife that includes 205 types of birds, 18 types of butterfly could be well conserved.
The mountainous area of TNBB comprises different types of ecosystems, such as primary monsoon forest, mangrove, lowland rainforest, coral reefs and sandy beaches.
The forest police and forest ecosystems controllers conduct patrols on a regular basis to monitor the wildlife population to protect the natural habitat and conserve the ecosystem. “We also involve counsellors to raise awareness about the need to constantly protect the natural habitat among local communities,” he said.
The development of ecotourism in West Bali has provided job opportunities which party contributes to the sustainability of tourism.

Strict zoning system
Indonesia is home to 51 national parks, with TNBB becoming the first national park in the country to win first place in the Sustainable Destinations award from ITB Berlin in 2017. The park has been included  on the World’s Top 100 Green Destination.
Ecotourism development Acceleration Team (TPPE) head David Makes, meanwhile, said that the inclusion of TNBB in the Top 100 Green Destination had affirmed the Tourism Ministry’s vision.
“Through its Decree of Minister of Tourism issued in 2016, the government has designated TNBB as a pilot project for national ecotourism development,” he said.
TNBB adopts a strict zoning system, which defines the degree of activities permitted, controlling accessibility and land use within the park, “None of visitors are allowed to enter the core zone.
Only several spots within the park are available for accessibility.” Said corporate DOSM Plataran Indonesia which operates two accommodations and one venue & dining. Plataran Menjangan Resort & Spa and Bajul Eco Lodge by Plataran as well as Octagon Ocean Club. All are situated in the utilization zone of TNBB namely Plataran L’Harmonie.

Breathtaking landscape: Deers at the beach during sunset at West Bali National Park (TNBB)

TNBB’s biodiversity and endangered species, particularly the Bali Starling, were among the major draws, she said. “We package the natural assets in the form of ecotourism products such as Ranger of the Day through which tourists explore the forest and check trees as if they were a park ranger,” she said.
Most of the tourists come from Europe and the US. “But the number of domestic tourists is also on the rise,” she said.
“Many enjoy taking part in our conservation initiatives, such as tree planting,” she said.
With their location being quiet remote, “around 80 percent of our employees recruited locally”, she said.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Sail Moyo Tambora back, with more appealing programs

The archipelagic and maritime country of Indonesia will once again take center stage when 144 yachts from 38 countries sail the Moyo Tambora route in Sumbawa, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB), in the much-anticipated Sail Moyo Tambora 2018.

Sail Moyo Tambora 2018 is part of Sail Indonesia, an annual rally that typically departs from Darwin, Australia, and heads to Indonesia, visiting several ports across the archipelago.
This year's rally, which will highlight Moyo Tambora after having previously promoted the Sabang, Karimata and Bunaken legs, expects to see hundreds of yachts from around the world depart from two locations: Darwin and Singapore.
The yachts are to gather in early September in the Labuan Bajo area of Flores, East Nusa Tenggara, before sailing together to Badas Port, where Sail Moyo Tambora 2018 opens on Sept. 9.
The annual event is scheduled to be held from Sept. 9 to Sept. 23.
Sail Moyo Tambora 2018 features an array of attractive events, from international sports festivals and unique local arts and cultural shows to international seminars and workshops on the economy.
A welcome dinner on Sept. 8 will precede the opening ceremony. The event will be held to welcome invited domestic and international guests, who will come to Sumbawa either as tourists or to take part in a sail competition or other events.
The opening ceremony on Sept. 9 in Badas Port, Sumbawa, carries the theme “Discover Sumbawa” to showcase NTB’s cultural wealth. NTB is more than just Lombok – the Island of Sumbawa is also part of the culturally and marine-rich NTB.

Fighting spirit: Two Lombok men in West Nusa Tenggara engage in the local martial art of peresean, where they fight one another using sticks and protect themselves with rattan armor.

At least 100 yachters from various countries will visit Sumbawa Island to see its breathtaking natural wonders and experience its culture.
The opening event will also feature cultural attractions that reflect the distinct features of NTB. They include mass dances from Sumbawa and Bima, a parade of 1,000 traditional ships and an international yacht rally in Sail Moyo Tambora 2018.
With each yacht carrying a crew of two to four sailors, the province is looking at welcoming around 500 foreign visitors during the event.
The opening ceremony will also mark the peak of three preceding events, namely Social Service, held from Aug. 26 to Sept. 9, and Pelayaran Lingkar Nusantara (Archipelago Circling Sailing), held from Aug. 25 to Sept. 9.
Social activities led by the Indonesian Navy were held in Bungin village, Badas district, Moyo Island. The program focused on free health services for the local community, free house renovations, and the promoting of social and health issues.
Meanwhile, the Archipelago Sailing event involved at least 400 boy scouts across Indonesia. They sailed the sea of Sumbawa.
In addition to sailing, participants were given the opportunity to climb to the top of Mount Tambora.
A number of surfers from different countries will compete in an international surfing competition – the World Surf League Qualifying Series – on Yoyo Beach, West Sumbawa. The event kicked off on Sept. 8 and will end on Sept. 12.

Deep blue: An aerial view of the Moyo Tambora lake in Sumbawa, West Nusa Tenggara.

Following the opening ceremony, there will be a series of main and supporting events that will reflect different facets of Nusa Tenggara and its richness in arts and culture. The main events are the City Parade, the Fun Color Run, the Culinary Program and the Weaving & Fashion Street Fest. The supporting events include the Maritime Culture Dialogue, the Investment Forum, Kenawa Jazz Festival, International Paragliding, International Workshop of the Blue Economy and Senggigi Festival.
For three days, from Sept. 9 to Sept. 11, visitors of Sumbawa will be treated to West Nusa Tenggara’s cultural attractions in an event at Badas Port.
On the same days and at the same venue, visitors will have an unprecedented opportunity to witness a range of creative industrial products that showcase Indonesia’s maritime and tourism potential in Indonesia at the Maritime Expo.
One can also watch the City Parade, through which all regencies and municipalities in West Nusa Tenggara will showcase their traditional cultures, as reflected in attire and accompanying traditional dance and music. The parade, to be held on Sept. 10, will start in the Sumbawa regency office and finish at Pahlawan Field.
For health-conscious travelers, there is the Fun Color Run, a mixture of sports and fun, on Sept. 10. At least 5,000 participants across NTB will take part in the event. It will start at the Sumbawa regent’s office and finish at Saliperate Beach. The first 100 finishers will be entitled to a medal and a door prize that will be presented at the end of the program.
Participants of the Fun Color Run will be treated to Sumbawa’s typical dishes, many of which feature fish, in the Culinary Program on the same day.
Fashion enthusiasts and fans of ethnic fabrics will have the opportunity to see how local weavers weave cloths in Weaving & Fashion Street Fest at Samota Bride on Sept. 12. The weaving demo will be enlivened by the Fashion Street, featuring local cloths.

Intact kingdom site

Skillful riders: Locals take part in a buffalo and horse race, a very common activity in Sumbawa, West Nusa Tenggara

Given that Sumbawa is rich in cultural diversity, with an intact kingdom site as one of its legacies, the event will also feature a cultural dialogue to revive local cultural diversity. The dialogue will be held on Sept. 12 in Sumbawa regency.
Sumbawa offers natural and marine resources that are untapped, providing an opportunity for investors to explore business opportunities. An Investment Forum, therefore, will be held on Sept. 13 to help boost local income.
The event will also feature International Workshop of the Blue Economy, which will be held at Mandalika, Lombok, NTB, from Sept. 1 to 18.
Apart from the workshop, there will also be a seminar themed “Asia Pacific Geopark Network” on Sept. 18 at Mataram, Lombok, NTB.  
Other supporting events will include Barapan Kebo & Pacuan Kuda (Buffalo & Horse Race) on Sept. 15, International Paragliding on Sept. 16, Gili Tramena Begawe on Sept. 20 and Senggigi Festival on Sept. 21 to 22.
Sail Indonesia Moyo Tambora will be closed on Sept. 23 in the Farewell Party event in Gili Mas, Lembar, West Lombok. The closing ceremony is expected to be attended by yachters and a number of dignitaries.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Saporo Snow Festival

Text by Hesti Setiarini, photo adapted from google, executive summary by darmansjah

Saporo snow festival held since 1949 and visited by about two million tourists from home and abroad. This year was held on February 6 to 12 in three places: Odori Park, Susukino and Sapporo Tsudome. Hundreds of ice building of the main sponsors nearly a dozen feet tall meet Odori Park. Park that stretches from west to east along the 1.5 kilometers in the heart of Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido and Sapporo Clock Tower face. In the past it was a festival of ice sculptures are Homare Sawa, Nadeshiko Japan captain. Japanese are so proud of their women's football team, won the trophy because of the World Cup and became the first from Asia.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Statuesque Stunner with a Penchant for Travel

A touch of heritage: Patricia explores some of Hong Kong's lesser-known spots, including a traditional cheongsam dress shop.Two years after her dazzling performance on Asia’s Next Top Model, model Patricia Gouw stars in a new reality show that takes her on a thrilling adventure around Hong Kong.The first thing you’ll notice when Patricia Gouw walks into a room is her sheer presence, honed by years in the modeling and pageant circle learning to command the attention of all.
Perhaps best known for being the runner-up in cycle four of the modeling competition-slash-reality show Asia’s Next Top Model, Jakarta-born Patricia has since spread her wings into other ventures like presenting TV shows and radio segments.
Patricia is certainly no stranger to the world of fashion and beauty, having majored in fashion business at LaSalle College as well as receiving numerous accolades such as the runner-up for Wajah Femina 2010, the runner-up for Miss ASEAN 2012, as well as making it to the final 15 of Miss Indonesia 2012 and being crowned Miss Healthy.
Far from the dazzling glamour of fashion and pageantry, Patricia’s latest entry in her TV portfolio took her on an adventure to Hong Kong, as part of reality show Extreme Ends, which premiered on Oct 17 on the KIX channel.
The show follows four Southeast Asian celebrities and their companions as they embark on an adventure around Hong Kong, exploring the metropolitan’s “extreme ends” wit ha different theme for each pair.
Patricia decided to participate in the show was she loves discovering new things, and also because she could bring along her friend, 2008 Putri Pariwisata Indonesia Chika Mailoa.
“After getting married and having two kids, I noticed that she became shier. I was happy to bring her along to get her back in the groove,” Patricia said about her friend of 10 years.
The two were assigned the theme “Hidden and Exposed”, with Patricia taking on “Hidden and Chika ‘Exposed”.
Patricia and Chika were given no clues about their itinerary or challenges before filming in July, perhaps as an allusion to their assigned themes.
“When I arrived, I had no idea what I would be doing, only that I would ‘experience’ Hong Kong. As soon as chika and I arrived at the airport and met our contacts there, we went our separate directions,” Patricia recalled.
Patricia and Chika went to different destinations and were only able to meet up at nighttime.
Particia’s first activity in Hong Kong was far from easy. It was real rock climbing, she noted, not the simplified version one might find in malls.
“It was literally in the hills and cliffs, they were not playing around.”
Despite having zero experience rock climbing, she tried it out with the assistance of an expert. But along the way she faced major challenges: her safety shoes hurt her feet; and it was her time of the month.
“I was stuck at some point, and then the guide was like say whatever  it is that you’re feeling’. So, I can didly answered ‘I’m leaking!’.” Patricia said, giggling.
Not only that, Patricia also needed to strike a pose whiLe clinging to the cliffs.
“When I got halfway, they stopped everything for a drone shot. On one side I was shaking all over, but on the other side I needed to look good for the camera, so I posed while yelling at them to hurry up as they wind was bearing down on me.”
The adrenaline-pumping climbing aside, Extreme Ends also took Patricia to discover Hong Kong’s  charming secret spot, including a Chinese medicine store that actually conceals a restaurant.
“There was a hidden door. You’re supposed to push a button, and it opens to reveal a retro-style café.”
During the culinary trip, Patricia and chika took part in a game through a video call, where one had to guess what dishes the other ordered.
“If my guess was right, then chika would be allowed to eat. That really tested our friendship because we hadn’t seen each other in a long time and we have different tastes as well.”
Patricia thoroughly enjoyed the dinning experience although she could not remember the names of the dishes.
“The food was ordered for me, and I couldn’t read the dishes’ names; I’m KW (not real)Chinese!” Patricia, a model of Chinese descent, joked.
After experiencing the worlds of fashion, pageantry and travel, Patricia said that she enjoyed traveling the most. The Hong Kong trip allowed her to experience the city like a local and exposed her to new things.
“I’m always like ‘what’s next?”. I don’t mind trying new things, and I’m very open to that.”