Menikmati Masakan Vietnam di Belanda

“The best way to lose weight is to close your mouth – something very difficult for a politician. Or watch your food – just watch it, don’t eat it.” – Ed Koch

Ga seperti restoran yang menjual masakan khas Indonesia, India atau Thailand (kalo restoran Cina sih jangan ditanya ya hehe), mencari restoran yang menyajikan masakan Vietnam yang cukup otentik dan enak di Belanda lumayan susah buat saya yang cetek banget pengetahuannya ini (terutama di sekitar tempat tinggal kami).

Walau kemungkinan besar banyak restoran Vietnam di kota-kota besar seperti Amsterdam, Rotterdam atau Den Haag, saya baru pernah makan masakan Vietnam yang enak di Den Haag aja. Ada dua restoran Vietnam yang pernah saya kunjungi. Saya tau restoran yang pertama berdasarkan rekomendasi dari teman saya yang waktu itu masih bertugas di Kedutaan. Kebetulan kata dia ibu Dubes atau pejabat diplomatik lainnya kadang suka ngajak tamu mereka untuk makan di sana. Nama restoran yang pertama adalah “NGON”, kali aja ada temen-temen yang sedang jalan-jalan ke Den Haag dan pengen makan masakan Vietnam boleh coba makan di sana. Dari pengalaman saya, memang masakan Vietnam di resto ini enak. Kalo ga jauh mah mungkin saya bakal lebih sering berkunjung ke sana deh hehe. Biasanya kalo kami makan di sana kami pesen papaya salad, fresh cold (beef) spring roll, dan sudah pasti Pho-nya (saya suka pesen yang Pho Bo Tai atau Beef Pho). Kuah Pho-nya itu enak, jernih dan ga bikin eneg. Porsinya lumayan besar, jadi buat yang makannya ga banyak bisa share sama temen. Dessert-nya juga lumayan enak, terutama yang kaya kolak ubi (namanya Che Koai Mon). Lokasi resto Ngon ini agak ke belakang Den Haag Centrum, kalo ga salah nama daerahnya Groenmarkt.

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via city guide

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Papaya Prawn Salad. Image via Tripadvisor

Restoran Vietnam lain yang pernah saya kunjungi di kota yang sama adalah “Little V”. Untuk lokasi Little V lebih di Centrum (kalo dibandingin sama Ngon), bersebelahan dengan rumah makan Indonesia “Si Des”. Kalo menurut saya, untuk makanan di Little V kurang umph, tapi resto ini menang ambience dan minumannya yang jauh lebih variatif dibandingkan Ngon. Buat yang pengen lamaan dan nyaman ngobrolnya, Little V menang deh. The food itself is not that bad, cuma emang kalo dibandingin Ngon sedikit dibawah untuk rasanya. O ya, kalo saya liat Little V ini punya cabang di Rotterdam.

Eksterior dari Little V. Image via delicioustravel

Sebagian interior dari Little V. Image via Travellust.

Menu yang pernah saya pesan di Little V. Foto dokumen pribadi.

Nah, karena tiba-tiba kangen masakan Vietnam (kalo kita bela-belain ke Den Haag cuma buat makan suami males hihi), minggu lalu saya dan suami browsing buat nyari restoran Vietnam di dekat-dekat tempat tinggal kami (kira-kira yang ga lebih dari 20 KM jaraknya dari rumah kita lah wkwk). Thanks to Google, kebetulan kami nemuin satu restoran yang kalo diliat dari review-nya lumayan bagus (bintang 4 dari 5), nama restorannya “Vin Pearl”. Lokasinya bersahabat banget, karna terletak di Stationplein, bersebelahan dengan stasiun kereta dan terminal bus Den Bosch. Setelah kita liat dan menimbang kalo menunya cukup kids’ friendly (setidaknya buat anak-anak kami), lalu cus-lah kami ke sana. O ya, sebelumnya kami sudah buat reservasi terlebih dahulu buat amannya.

Pintu masuk Vin Pearl. Image via Dailydinner.

Kami reservasi untuk makan malam jam 17.30 (di rumah kami biasa makan malam paling lambat jam 18.00). Sesampainya kami di sana, cuma kami pelanggan yang dine-in di jam yang sama, dan sekitar sejam kemudian baru ada pelanggan lainnya. O ya, restoran ini juga menerima delivery order via thuisbezorg.nl, dan kayanya si yang order untuk delivery ini lumayan banyak karna pas kita di sana pelayannya lumayan sibuk bolak-balik. Untuk ukuran restoran asia, interiornya lumayan bagus dan ga corny (saya cuma ga suka musiknya). Pelayannya cukup sigap, menu-menu yang kami pesan juga lumayan cepat keluar dari dapurnya.

Sebagai appetizer, saya dan suami memesan fresh cold spring roll dan crispy pancake, sementara anak-anak memesan lumpia goreng isi ayam. Rasa dari kedua makanan yang kami pesan bikin fresh dan ga berat, sesuai dengan tujuan makanan pembuka. Untuk main dishes anak-anak pesen mie goreng (kebanyakan tauge kalo kata anak saya yang perempuan), suami pesen rolled minced beef dengan rice noodles, sementara saya pesen beef pho. Kedua main dishes yang suami dan saya pesan dua-duanya tidak mengecewakan. Menurut saya rasa kuah Pho-nya cukup balance – ga keasinan ga flaw juga ga bikin eneg rasanya. Yang lumayan menarik dan belum pernah kami coba adalah menunya suami. Jadi si minced beef-nya itu digulung pake piper leaves, sejenis daun sirih tapi rasanya agak beda dan ga tajam. Sementara si rice noodles-nya ga tau dikasih apa tapi warnanya jadi agak keunguan gitu dan rasanya gurih. Surprisingly good lah.

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Banh Xeo or crispy pancake with beef, beansprout and onion (foto dok. pribadi)

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Goi Cuon Tom or fresh cold spring roll with shrimp and veggies filling (foto dok. pribadi)

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Banh Hoi Bo La Lot, grilled minced beef rolled with piper leaves (foto dok.pribadi)

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Pho Bo Tai atau Beef Pho (foto dok. pribadi)

Sebagai penutup, kami nyoba salah satu menu dessert mereka, yaitu Vin Pearl Matcha Green Tea. Menurut kami rasa green tea-nya terlalu subtle alias ga terasa, yang menonjol adalah rasa susunya. Enak si tapi agak kurang sesuai ekspetasi saya.
All in all, restoran ini menurut saya lumayan otentik dan enak masakannya. Besar kemungkinan ini bukan terakhir kali saya akan makan di sana (dengan catatan restorannya ga tutup atau pailit ya hehe). Lumayan lah sebagai pelepas rindu kalo lagi kangen sama masakan Vietnam 🙂

“Vietnamese food has probably been saved from the mass market because most people never master the sauces and condiments that must be added to the food, at the table, for its glories to become apparent. It’s too much trouble, and a lot of people don’t like asking for help, especially if the interaction involves some linguistic awkwardness.” – Tyler Cowen

Throwback Time: Holiday in London.

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“Nothing is certain in London but expense.” – William Shenstone.

Pengennya si nulis lebih cepet biar ga basi-basi banget gitu ceritanya hehe, tapi apa daya baru sekarang deh bisa kesampaian. Well, better late than never ya =)

We went visiting London last year, during Christmas holiday (on December 24th and return to Holland on December 29th). At first we were a little bit worried actually, because based on some info I have read on internet, during Christmas holiday – especially on the 25th of December – (almost) all London transportation does not operate. This means that there’s a possibility that we could be abandoned and only able to spend the whole holiday in the hotel. That would be sooo zzz. Luckily after spending some time searching again on internet (and a little bit of gambling), we could find a good solution to solve the issue.

We departed from Eindhoven Airport. There are several budget/low cost airlines depart from this airport to London. This is handy for us since the airport is closer to our place. We took a flight offered by Ryan Air and the duration from Holland to London (London Stansted) took around an hour and five minutes. We have arranged for car park close to the airport (we used valet parking from Eazzypark for 2 nights and found a nice offer from Groupon) and from London Stansted Airport to the hotel we used Airport Coach/ Bus Shuttle from Terravision (around an hour drive). We ordered the tickets via internet (the price of one way trip from the Stansted Airport to Liverpool Street (in front of the Liverpool station) is £6 for adult and £3 for child between 5 – 12 years). From Liverpool Street (the distance is approximately 1,2 km) to the hotel we took a short drive by taxi.

During in London we stayed at the Premier Inn London Aldgate. The closest tube station from the hotel is Aldgate East (around 300-500 m), and it is located not very far from the Tower Hill (approx. 1 km). Thus, although it’s not really in the center, the hotel has a nice location to travel around. Plus, they also had family room options, so it’s a very good bargain for us to stay there for the holiday.

We didn’t make any plan to go for sightseeing right away after we arrived. Despite the arrival time we also didn’t want to make the kids feel stressed out and not enjoying the holiday. In the evening we walked a bit to fast food restaurant nearby (KFC – food that taste “friendly” and familiar for the kids) and bought meals there for our dinner. Again we didn’t want to make things too complicated for the kids. Btw, KFC here had other sort of menus than one in Holland, where they also offered rice.

On the second day of the trip (25th), we have booked hop on hop off tour bus. Yes…We were really becoming a tourist on that day :p. It’s not that bad actually, but this was mainly because we didn’t have that many options. Either you walk, or you go with this bus. As I said before, all public transports were not operating on that day (well except Taxis, with double tariff – even triple I think – than normal, and you have to order them in advance). In normal days, there are 3 companies operating hop on hop off tour bus, but on the 25th there were only one operated: one from Golden Tours. The ticket price was twice than normal (around £35 for adult and £15 for child). Crazy, I know..but we didn’t have many options as I told you before, so yeah. The closest bus stop from our hotel was at the Tower Hill. So we walked first from the hotel to the bus stop. The weather on this day was not that friendly. In the beginning it was only cloudy, but the minute we sat in the bus it began to rain. Well, you cannot expect much from London weather during winter eh. Anyway, we stopped at several point of interests, and took some photos from the bus.

Oh, have I told you that most of stores and restaurants were also closed on Christmas day? well there you go. But as far as I know, some pubs and restaurants at Leicester Square or Trafalgar Square were open. We had our lunch also at one of restaurants there. The kids were quite enjoying the day although they got wet and received extra cold from the rain. In the evening we had the Christmas Dinner at the restaurant in the Hotel. The food was not that bad, but also not that special.

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hello from us =)

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a closer look to the famous Big Ben.

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The queue to enter Westminster Abbey. LONG!

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St. Paul Church. Looks grande =)

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The Shard on a distance.

On the next day (the 26th), the initial plan was to visit the London Eye. There were not so many options to be done on the 2nd day of Christmas in London, because most of attractions or public interests such as museums or historical places were still closed for public. However that didn’t happen. Before we went to London, I actually have suggested my husband to buy the ticket in advance via internet. However, he thought that we could just buy on the spot, because he didn’t want to be attached on one date only (the ticket date is fixed and cannot be changed). I agreed to this and thus we went to the London Eye and went to get the ticket there. When we reached the London Eye, the queue on the ticket booth was already looong, and when we reached the booth the officer told us that apparently we couldn’t buy family ticket (valid for 2 adults and 2 children) there and instead they only offered us the individual ticket. The price difference between family ticket and individual ticket was quite significant, and because of this we then decided to just go back the next day and buy the ticket online.

What did we do then on that day? After having a quick lunch at Subway nearby to the London Eye (my kids and husband are a fan of Subway btw hehe), we then went to watch Starwars VII at Leicester Square. After the movie we just strolling around the China Town, Trafalgar Square and of course Leicester Square :D. Btw, I didn’t recommend to watch movies at cinemas in London. It’s freaking expensive! For the four of us we had to pay like almost £100 for 3D movie. That’s crazily expensive even if you compare to the price in Holland (apalagi dibanding sama harga di Indonesia ya..jauh!). Before we went back to the hotel we took dinner at a Chinese Restaurant in the surrounding of Leicester Square.

O ya, on the second day of Christmas the public transports were already available, but with a holiday schedule (longer waiting time). The advantage of using public transport in London is that for any children up to 16 years who travel with adult(s) are free of charge. There are several options if you happen to be a tourist here: pay per trip, using travel card (with some options of validity period), or using Oyster Card (refillable). We used Oyster Card for transportation instead of Travel card, because we think that its the most efficient one for us. I still have my old Oyster with some credits in (from my previous visit in 2012 for work), thus we only need to buy another one for my husband. It was handy indeed 😉

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The Gate to Chinatown.

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Leicester Square.

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The front part of the National Gallery, located in front of Trafalgar Square.

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Super tall Christmas tree at the Trafalgar Square.

On the 27th, we went back again to the London Eye, this time with the entrance tickets in hand ;). It was nice to see some parts of London from above. The London Eye is similar with the Singapore Flyer, only the size is a bit smaller. The technology they use here is also the same, and made by the same engineer (if I’m not mistaken). The duration for one round (standard ticket) is approximately 30 minutes. It’s pity that during our turn the weather was again not that friendly for us: quite gloomy with some drizzles pouring down a bit. But anyway, it still nice for the kids (and my husband and I) to have the experience 🙂

A short info, I just checked the official London Eye website, apparently the family ticket has no longer being offered. The standard ticket for adult if you buy online is around £21 and for a child is around £16-17 (if you buy on the spot the price is around £28 for adult and £20ish for child).

Afterwards, we then went by the subway (they called it as “tube”) to the Tower of London. We had prepared our tickets and bought them via internet before we flew to London. The Tower is quite big, but still can be visited within a day. One of the interesting part of the Tower is of course the Crown Jewels Room where the Royalty kept the royal regalia, including jewels, plate, and symbols of royalty such as the crown, sceptre, and sword there. No guests are allowed to take any picture inside (due to security reason I guess).

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The Emblem of King George VI, Royal Fortress of The Tower of London

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One side of the Tower of London.

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A raven seen at the Tower of London. Why does the Tower of London have ravens? A guide told that the ravens are part of an old superstition that, if the ravens leave, the tower will fall down, and there will no longer be a king or queen.

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The White Tower

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The Guards and the canon in front of the Crown Jewel Room.

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You have to queue for quite some time to enter the Crown Jewel Room.

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The Tower Bridge in a closer look.

After the visit, we went back to hotel. For our dinner, my husband and I went for a walk to grab a take away of Fish and Chips at a restaurant nearby. We tried the very typical english(y) meal at its own original place for the sake of curiousity (and hunger of course =)). I did a bit of research on internet to find a recommended fish and chips resto around our location and I found this one resto called Poppie’s. The taste was quite good although it’s not exceeded my expectation.

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Nice interesting box eh (ignore the oily part :p)

On the 28th, finally major musea were open for public. London I think is famous for their museum, and as some of you might already know, the entrance to most of musea in London are free of charge (unlike other attractions where you have to pay like crazy). That is why I think many people (tourists as well as the Londoners) like to come there. O ya, most parks (gardens) here are also free to visit, but then I would suggest to come preferably NOT in the winter season (find a time with the least chance of raining :p).

One of the most acknowledged museum here is of course the British Museum, located in Bloomsburry area (if I’m not mistaken). Another famous one(s) among them are the Science Museum, The Natural History Museum, and the Victoria & Albert Museum of Art and Design (V&A Museum). The nice thing with these three museums are that they located closely one to each other (at Exhibition Road – South Kensington). We actually planned to go to the British Museum after we visit the three museums, but by the end of the day we couldn’t make it. O ya, be prepare for a long queue, especially when you want to enter the Science Museum and The Natural History Museum. But probably it was also because of holidays then the museums were quite full.

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A street musician we found in the tunnel from the Underground stop (South Kensington) heading to Museum area.

The first museum we visited was the Science Museum. According to wikipedia, the Science Museum was founded in 1857 and today has become one of the city’s major tourist attractions, attracting 3.3 million visitors annually.

The museum also has several areas dedicated to children where they can explore and play. On the ground level you’ll find a sensory exploration area that’s fun for younger kids and a few floors up there are also area for older kids where they can experiment, play and discover.

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part of Making the Modern World Gallery inside the Science Museum, ground floor.

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I see Indonesia here 😉

After the Science Museum, due to the intimidating queue at the entrance of the Natural History Museum, we then went to the V&A Museum located across the street of the Science Museum. It was a very short visit, because the kids were complaining and the museum was not as they expected. In their mind, the museum was a place where they would find toys and other interesting stuff related to toys and playing. Apparently it was more serious than what they have thought. We only strolled around on the ground floor, took a bit of photos and then decided to just go to one of the oldest toy store in the world, Hamleys, located at the Oxford Street. But again, the store was so crowded it gave us a headache even to just look around. The kids also were not too excited because of this. So we just did a round from first floor to the last (it has five storeys) and then went back to South Kensington to try our luck of getting into the Natural History Museum.

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The ceiling at the entrance of V&A Museum

O ya, at V&A Museum you can find various art pieces from (almost) all over the world, with many kind of forms such as statues, calligraphy, books, or even a carved tusk.

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One of interesting piece of art found at V&A Museum

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The very busy Toy Shop. I think during holidays the situation is always like these. image via http://www.express.co.uk

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Lego version of the Imperial State Crown.

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Lego version of the Queen, together with her dog. This lego can be found at Hamleys – Oxford Street.

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Typical of coffee shop you can find around London.

When we got back to museum area, the queue in front of the Natural History Museum was not as long as the first time we arrived. And since the kids didn’t mind to wait in line, we decided to join the queue. If you are a Dino fan I think you will like this museum. It has alot of things related to Dinos. They have a special section for displaying all the dinos and “the living” T-Rex. Even in front of the entrance of the museum you will be welcomed by a giant dino skeleton :p. Bear in mind that you have to queue again inside to enter this special section. Beside dinos, this museum also have many other interesting displays, including animals from around the world (they have a stuffed dodo!), also various kind of stones from the earth. The building itself is very extravagant (typical old big buildings in the UK). You can really see that this museum has been there for quite a while.

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Interesting dinosaurs skeleton you can see at front part of the Natural History Museum.

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Super nice and extravagant exterior of the Natural History Museum.

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Merry go Round in front of the Natural History Museum.

We stayed at the Museum until closed (around 7 p.m. if I’m not mistaken). And then we went to Leicester Square again to look out for dinner. Since it’s weekend, most of the restaurants were quite full. Luckily we could get a table at Pizza Express (without reservation) although we had to wait for 30 minutes at the bar to be seated. This Pizza Express Resto is the same like one in Indonesia (previously called as Pizza Marzano – and then changed name into Pizza Express). We liked all the food here, as well as the drinks. And before we were done, they gave chocolate praline for each of us. Lekker klein toetje voor ons 🙂

Finally we went back to Holland on the next day. We had our breakfast at the hotel, took a taxi to the Liverpool Street, and then went to the Stansted Airport by the same shuttle service as before. All in all it was quite a nice holiday for us (although for some days we had quite lousy weather). Just too bad we didn’t have a chance to visit Harry Potter Studio (all were fully booked!), the Stonehenge, the British Museum or other touristic things in the surrounding. I guess we just have to visit UK one more time in the future. And moreover, preferably combine the visit to other cities around London as well.

‘t Kwekkeltje Rosmalen

Back then when the kids were still in group 2, they had a school trip to a public founded playground called ‘t Kwekkeltje. It is located in Rosmalen, a city close by to our place (around 15-20 KM). They really enjoyed it they asked me if we can go there by ourselves during their autumn break.
Finally on the last day of their holiday we managed to go there. It was my first time visiting the place. The entrance to the playground is completely free. It has quite big space and you can play with many things (sand, water, climbing, what kids not to like huh). My husband said that usually this place is completely packed, especially when the weather is nice. But luckily on that day we had quite reasonable crowd: not too full, although not that empty either. The weather was just like typical autumn weather: a bit gloomy and cold. Other than that, everything was just fine. Our youngest one also didn’t complain much although it was quite cold for someone at his age. We only put double layers of clothes and an extra blanket to cover him while sitting at maxi cosi car seat (we didn’t bring his bassinet).

The kids were reaaally enjoyed it! The minute we arrived they went directly to the tree house and just disappeared from our sight. After that, they went to the sling where they can sit on and then let it run from one side to the other. Afterwards they started to make a stream for water in the zandbak (sandbox). We forgot to ask them to just wear their boots instead of daily shoes (and old clothes instead of netjes one). I don’t really care actually as long as they’re having fun. But still..looking at them I couldn’t stop but think “sniff..must double time washing for their clothes. And not to forget to ask kids to clean up their shoes before going inside.

Now, back to the playground topic. So, as I mentioned above, this playground is completely free. Its a self-funding park – so to say. Some people gave donation to build some of its attractions. Other than that, they also have a kind of spaarpot (piggybank) not so far from the entrance/exit door where all the visitors can put in a bit of their money (or a lot if you are a coin collector for example :p). The place has several public WC (two if i’m not mistake), and one special for handicap and baby changing room. There is also a small room next to the entrance, for the volunteer(s) to get some warm when the day is cold (I guess). The playground can also be booked for special occasion like birthday party or school trip, by advanced reservation. They only will charged €1,5 per child for those kind of occasion (for maintenance cost I think). I find this place is quite good, considering the fact that its a self funding park. They took care of it quite well. Only kids said that the restroom was quite smelly. Oh ya, they didn’t provide any toilet paper or whatsoever there, so in case someone wanna go there it would be handier if they also bring their own toilet paper (and wet tissue when necessary). Also there are no food stall or cafe that sells consignment around, so it is better to bring at least a bottle of water and some snacks if you bring your kid(s) there.

If you wanna know more about this playground, you can check their personal website on this web address.

For the rest I will leave you with some photos of the playground which I took by my phone.
See ya on my next post!

the entrance (and exit)

list of the sponsors and donors of the playground.

bicycle parking space.

the restroom.

special restroom and baby changing room.

a part of the tree house.

a special bridge that can be used as a seesaw.

the other side of the tree house

climbing stuff.

the sling (I dunno how its called hehe)

water parkour

rabbit hole.

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the kids were busy with the digging

waterpump.

the spaarpot where you can put in some coins inside.

#TBT: Tokyo, Japan – 2007.

“I’ve never really wanted to go to Japan. Simply because I don’t like eating fish. And I know that’s very popular out there in Africa.” ~ Britney Spears

I don’t know where Spears got her Geography lesson, but that quote is quite something eh😜 and it relates to the post I’m about to write here =)

Back then in 2007, during the first years of my work, my boss had appointed me to join in a three week training held by the Government of Japan through their agency, JICA (stands for Japan International Cooperation Agency). The training was held in Tokyo, Japan. I got quite excited because it was the first time for me traveling abroad. At that time, never across in my mind that I could go traveling outside Indonesia. Besides the cost, I also never been far from my family for such a long time.

The flight from Jakarta (Soekarno-Hatta Airport) to Tokyo took around 7 hours direct and non-stop. I went there with other two office colleagues (from different Division). We landed at Narita Airport early in the morning. Luckily the Agency had arranged the transportation for us (by taxi) from the airport to the place we were staying. The place where we stayed called JICA “Tokyo International Center” or TIC – Tokyo. From the TIC there are two metro stations that quite close by: Hatagaya and Yoyogi-Uehara station. The facilities at the TIC was quite complete. The place itself was almost like a dorm actually. The room was a bit compact, it has private bathroom inside (with a small bathtub), standard hotel room equipment such as bed (single size), wardrobe, TV, AC/heater. In the building they provide washing room, shared kitchen (including water cooker and ice block machines), karaoke room, lounge, dining room (which provide halal food as well), and computer room. A bit out of the topic, during the tsunami and big earth quake in Japan not so long ago, TIC was being used as one of the victim base-camp.

On a short note about the training, it was mainly about Intellectual Property System (IP System). The participants got a chance also to see how the Japan Patent Office handled the IP management system, including how they did the IP awareness campaign with young generation as their target and how the Japan Custom Office tackled the IP infringement.

For a first timer, and considering that during that time was the start of Ramadhan fasting moment, I think my visit at that time was not that bad. I had a chance to visit some Japanese’s landmarks such as the Imperial Palace, Tokyo Tower, Asakusa temple, City of Odaiba, Ueno park, Ginza as well as few other places. Oh, and just like typical (first timer) tourists do, I also took a ride on a hop on hop off bus there :p

Since this trip was completely arranged by the organization, I don’t think I have any tips or useful thing to share for a traveler here hehe. If I had another chance, I would love to visit Japan again someday, but preferably only for holiday =)

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The history of Customs in Japan explained in a beautiful painting

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(Miniature of) The Liberty Statue in Odaiba, Japan

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the view of Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan

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Team F1 – Panasonic in that year=)

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Plopped atop Tokyo’s Asahi Beer building is the famous kin no unchi, Japanese for “Golden Turd.” (Locals also call it the unchi biru, aka “poop building.”) The 300-ton stainless steel sculpture designed by French architect Philippe Stark was meant to look like foam rising from a beer mug (information derived from http://www.cnn.com)

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View from Ueno Park

In Ueno Park, there are some handprints and signature of very famous Japanese people who contributed to each field like sports and performing arts in Japan. I tried to look up on internet whose handprint this one below is, but I couldn’t find it. I guess I picked the wrong one hehe. There were few others also which has some info, for example the handprints of a former Judoka who won a gold medal with a world record in 1984 Los Angeles Olympic – YAMASHITA, Yasuhiro, and OH, Sadaharu – a former baseball player who held a world record of the total 868 home run and has not been broken by anymone else until now.

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does anyone know whose handprint is this? – taken at ueno park.

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the Swan swimming on the lake nearby Imperial Palace

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Lekker Shabu-shabu!

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Seeing these display of crepes which not (yet) available in Indonesia during that time made my eyes drooled :p

In Asakusa, there is an ancient Buddhist temple called Sensō-ji (Kinryū-zan Sensō-ji). It is Tokyo’s oldest temple, and one of its most significant. Formerly associated with the Tendai sect of Buddhism, it became independent after World War II. Adjacent to the temple is a Shinto shrine, called the Asakusa Shrine.

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The Hozōmon (“Treasure-House Gate”) is the inner of two large entrance gates that ultimately leads to the Sensō-ji (the outer being the Kaminarimon) in Asakusa, Tokyo. A two-story gate (nijūmon), the Hōzōmon’s second story houses many of the Sensō-ji’s treasures. The first story houses two statues, three lanterns and two large sandals. It stands 22.7 metres (74 ft) tall, 21 metres (69 ft) wide, and 8 metres (26 ft) deep. (Information taken from http://www.wikipedia.org)

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Nakamise dōri in Autumn

The Nakamise-dōri is a street on the approach to the temple. It is said to have come about in the early 18th century, when neighbors of Sensō-ji were granted permission to set up shops on the approach to the temple. However, in May 1885 the government of Tokyo ordered all shop owners to leave. In December of that same year the area was reconstructed in Western-style brick. During the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake many of the shops were destroyed, then rebuilt in 1925 using concrete, only to be destroyed again during the bombings of World War II.

The length of the street is approximately 250 meters and contains around 89 shops.

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The Indonesian group who stayed in TIC during the time of my visit posed in front of an interesting art on the ceramic painting located in one of the gate at the Ueno Station

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celebrating the Autumnal Equinox Day at the TIC =)

 

Reminiscing the Trip To Alsace Region, France

Alsace is the Germanic region of France. It is a region lying on the west bank of the river Rhine, between the Rhine and the Vosges mountains. To the north and east it shares a border with Germany; to the south with German-speaking Switzerland, and to the west with Lorraine and Franche Comté.

From 1982 until January 2016, Alsace was the smallest of 22 administrative regions in metropolitan France, consisting of the Bas-Rhin and Haut-Rhin departments. Territorial reform passed by the French legislature in 2014 resulted in the merger of the Alsace administrative region with Champagne-Ardenne and Lorraine to form Alsace-Champagne-Ardenne-Lorraine.

Historically speaking, Alsace was part of the German-speaking area of central Europe, and to this day a large proportion of the population, of all generations, speak or understand Alsacian, a dialectal form of German closely resembling the German spoken in Switzerland.

In the last two centuries, Alsace has passed from Germany to France and back , and back again; consequently, it is a region that was not part of France at the time of the makings of the modern-day nation, and has held on to a number of institutional differences, particularly concerning religious affairs. For example, Good Friday is a public holiday in Alsace, but not in the rest of France; and in Alsace, priests are paid by the state.
*information partly derived from wikipedia and about-france.com.*

Back in 2011, right after a work-related thing I have done in Durban, South Africa, I decided to continue my trip and have a bit of a break, went to Europe for couple of days to meet my friend who lives in Brussels instead of going back straight to my homeland, Indonesia. Although it was not recent, I think the experience is still worth to share here. However I’m sorry if the post is a bit too long, it’s just that so many things I can share from the region. I hope you will enjoy it anyway 🙂

It was in October, and the weather was pretty decent and not too cold at that time (although at one point we had a 0°c in the middle of the night). We have made a plan to make a short getaway to a place where we both never been visited before. We wanted to do the trip by car, because we thought that would be more convenient for us, thus we sorted out few options where we could go with reasonable amount of driving time yet still interesting for us to visit. Both of us like nature, some kind of gothic-medieval architectures, and castle thingy stuff. After some research, we then decided to go visit Alsace area, with a stop by at Luxembourg.

The driving duration from Brussels to Alsace (Strasbourg) is around 5 hours non stop. We went from Brussels in the evening around 6-7 p.m after my friend finished his work. It was a rush hour thus we got a bit of a traffic in order to get out from the city center. The driving time from Brussels to Luxembourg itself is around 2,5 hours. A bit out of the topic, Luxembourg is also an interesting place to visit. But in order to make this post a bit less longer (which already long due to the photos) I will share it some other time in another post 🙂

Three biggest cities in Alsace region are Strasbourg, Mulhouse, and Colmar. Strasbourg and Colmar are quite known for their beautiful old town and its historical places. The distance between both cities is quite reasonable and for those reasons we then decided to visit both the cities. Of course with the visit to the famous Chateau Du Haut-Koenigsbourg (the Chateau is located in between).

Strasbourg

Strasbourg is the capital of Alsace region. Situated on the banks of the river Rhine, Strasbourg is known for its historical and cultural sights, as well as its specific, picturesque ambiance. Strasbourg is also known as a capital of Europe – with the Council of Europe and the Eurocorps, as well as the European Parliament and the European Ombudsman of the European Union located there. The city is also the seat of the Central Commission for Navigation on the Rhine and the International Institute of Human Rights.

From the first time we arrived, we got instantly amazed with how beautiful the surrounding was. After checked in at the hotel, we then right away started to explore the surrounding.

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Typical buildings you find in Strasbourg, especially around the city center. It’s very lovely with those colorful flowers isn’t it?

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A hospital in the city center.

We also had a chance to visit Strasbourg Cathedral or the Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg (French: Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg, or Cathédrale de Strasbourg, German: Liebfrauenmünster zu Straßburg or Straßburger Münster), also known as Strasbourg Minster. It is a Roman Catholic cathedral with some part of the cathedral still in Romanesque architecture. However the cathedral also widely considered to be among the finest examples of high, or late, Gothic architecture.

The Cathedral, as any other cathedrals I have visited, has a very beautiful architecture and surrounding. The main hall in my opinion was almost similar to the Kolner Dom in Cologne, Germany. In this Cathedral there is an astronomical clock which has been built since 1843 (this was the third one built since the first clock built in 14th century). Its main features, besides the automata, are a perpetual calendar (including a computus), an orrery (planetary dial), a display of the real position of the Sun and the Moon, and solar and lunar eclipses (wikipedia).

It was pity that I couldn’t capture any decent pictures to be displayed here. It was mainly because when we got there it was already almost dark. I posted here some of the images I got from wikimedia to give a little glimpse of the Cathedral.

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During our visit, there were an exhibition about Climate with some displays as above at the plaza around city center. I found one of them that interest me, mainly because of “Indonesia” word in it 😀

On the second day we continued our city exploration to the Petite France district which famous for their black (or dark brown) and white timber-framed buildings.

Petite France forms part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Grande Île (an old quarter that exemplifies medieval cities), designated in 1988. It is located at the western end of the Grande Île (it is literally means “large island” which derived from the fact that it is surrounded on one side by the main channel of the River Ill and on the other side by the Canal du Faux-Rempart). Here in Petite France, the River Ill splits up into a number of channels that cascade through an area that was, in the Middle Ages, home to the city’s tanners, millers and fishermen, and is now one of Strasbourg’s main tourist attractions.(wikipedia).

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The Maison des Tanneurs, Petite France.

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Place Benjamin-Zix, Petite France

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Half-timbered houses and the Ill river bank as the background with younger version me 😉

There were still lots of things to be seen here in Strasbourg actually, but after having lunch we decided to just go heading to our next destination. It was a very nice visit, and for sure I would love to go here again some other time 🙂

Chateau Du Haut-Koenigsbourg

Our second destination of our trip (well, the third if you also count Luxembourg actually) was the Chatau Du Haut-Koenigsbourg. We started our trip after having a short lunch in Strasbourg. The scenery during the road trip was very stunning. We passed by a village that has a very beautiful corner and instantly we decided to stop and took some pictures there :p

The village was very quiet. I don’t think we met any living person there except some cars parked as seen in pictures.

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After driving passed the village, we again served with another amazing view. This time was a series of vineyards. It was so beautiful again we decided to just stopped by and took some pictures as well. It became even more magical because of the mist presented in the air. Correct me if I´m wrong, but I think these vineyards are parts of The Alsatian Vineyard Route.

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The road we need to pass to reach the Chateau / the Castle was quite hilly. It reminded me a bit to the road around Lembang, Bandung. With pine trees on the surrounding as well as its winding road (just a tiny bit colder here hehe). The moment we reached the Castle, we had to park the car a bit further from the Castle. And then, when we walked to the Castle I got this magical view (again!) in front of my eyes. Its almost like surreal how it look ya. Those hills are vineyards by the way.

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Based on the information I read from several websites, the Chateau Du Haut-Koenigsbourg (or Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle) was built in a very specific manner, in a way, it was carved in into the rocks standing on the top of the mountain as to preserve its natural strategic and defensive position (at that time). On a glimpse, it was built somewhere around 1147 by Frédéric le Borgne, duke of Souabe and a member of the Hohenstaufens family who wanted to reinforce his power in Alsace by building a defence line made of castles placed all over the region. During the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) the Castle was conquered by the Swedish army and was burnt to the ground. After that, the Castle was left abandoned for more than 200 years until in 1865 bought by the nearby town of Sélestat. In 1871 Alsace became a part of Germany and the city of Sélestat offered the castle ruins to Kaiser Wilhelm II. The German Emperor decided to continue the restoration (which already being done partly by the city of Sélestat). After the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, the castle was once again in possession of France.

If you are interested to know more about the Castle including the complete history of it, you can check this link or their official website.

Pictures I attached here mostly (or all) were taken from inside the Castle. I didn’t put much photos of the inside parts of the Castle because I think the view we got from inside the Castle were more breathtaking and worth to share than the details of the rooms. It’s not that the inside not special, but I guess you will be able to picture how a Castle along with its rooms look like :).

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Aerial view of Château Du Haut Koenigsbourg (image from http://www.destination-haute-alsace.com)

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We were quite lucky during our visit the Castle was not that crowded with visitors. I guess it was a bit too cold for some people visiting the Castle at that time. But because of this I was able to take some picturesque scenes without any disturbance from other tourists :p

O ya, one thing to mention, in the entrance of the Castle you can find a miniature of the Castle, complete with some explanations (if I’m not mistaken).

Colmar

After we were done exploring the Castle, we continued our trip to our last destination – Colmar. The distance between the Castle and Colmar was not that far (around 26-30 kilometers). Although the view on the road was not as interesting as the trip from Strasbourg to the Castle, not that far from the Castle we found a nice scenery of a church located in the middle of a hill. It is actually a bit typical French (with their beautiful small villages spread across the hilly land – so different with the Netherlands who only has flat view hehe), but we stopped by anyway to capture some of the sight as well.

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The moment we entered city of Colmar, I found one interesting thing there. They apparently also have their own Statue of Liberty =). The size is not that big, it’s more of the mini liberty, just like the one I saw in Odaiba, Japan.

Apparently according to Colmar Tourisme website, it was sculpted to commemorate the 100th death anniversary of the sculptor Auguste Batholdi, who was born in Colmar and created the “Liberty lightening the world” (The Statue of Liberty in New York). The Municipality of Colmar has placed the replica in the northern entrance to the town.

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the 12-meter high replica of the statue of liberty

Colmar has rather a lot of more recent development around the edges, but at the center you will see a lovely view of the old town with street after narrow street of half-timbered, half-painted houses (almost similar to the old town of Strasbourg).

If Strasbourg has Petite France, then Colmar has Petite Venise (The little Venice). This name probably came from the original line of the houses on both sides of the river, which serves the southeast of the city. (tourisme-colmar)

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The Tanner’s District is constituted from high wood framing houses and half timbered houses, mostly dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries. The houses were used by tanners who worked and lived there with their families. They were also used for drying out their skins on the upper floors, often with an openwork design. The tanner’s district was renovated between 1698 and 1974. The renovation gave back its beauty to this village in the heart of the city.

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Musée d’Unterlinden (Unterlinden Museum)

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One of the most interesting buildings in Colmar: the Saint Martin Church. Built between 1235 and 1365 the Saint Martin’s collegiate church is an important example of Gothic architecture in Alsace. Because of a fire in the south tower in 1572 the framework and all the roofs were destroyed. The tower was replaced three years later by the original lantern bulb (a construction on the top of the dome which has the form of a lantern) which gives the Church its characteristic silhouette. The church has been restored several times. In 1982 during the most recent restoration, foundations of a church from the year 1000 and traces of extensions from the 11th and the 12th centuries were found (Colmar Tourisme).

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The Koïfhus or the former customs house. It is the older public local building and had from its creation a double function. The ground floor was used as a warehouse and as a place of taxation for imported and exported goods. The floor was used for the meetings of the deputies of the Décapole, the federation of the 10 imperial cities of Alsace, which was created in 1534. The Magistrate also met there. The revolution abolished commercial privileges and the building was used for other uses. Around 1840 a theatre took place there and in 1848 the first office of the discount bank. The Koïfhus was occupied by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry from 1870 to 1930 and by a catholic boy school and an Israelite school in the late 19th century. Today many manifestations and public activities take place here (Colmar Tourisme).

It’s pity that we couldn’t explore Colmar as much as Strasbourg. I guess we were already quite tired from the trip and with the driving hours back to Brussels taken into account, we decided that it was about time for us to go. I think it was also because most parts of Colmar were almost look alike what we saw in the old town of Strasbourg, we got less wow-ed with what Colmar offered to us. We didn’t regret it though (not at all!), because we still got some superb view of the city. I just have to revisit the city one more time and explore the city again more thoroughly 😉

 

Greetings from London

“If you’re curious, London’s an amazing place.” – David Bailey.

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Hi everyone. Just a short note here, this is the last evening for us in London and tomorrow we will go back home to Netherlands. It has been a great holiday (and tiring). The kids cannot wait to see their room 🙂 (my husband and I also 😉). It’s true what they say, there’s no place like home.

Sorry for only write a bit here, however I am going to write more about London in a separate post soon.

Meanwhile, I wish you all an enjoyable holiday and also a great new year ahead!

ps. going to London reminds me of the changcuter’s song, Hijrah ke London hehe. Put the link here also so that you know which song I meant.

X

Photographing Heusden (Belajar Motret Pt. 1)

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picture taken from www.etsy.com

“In a world and a life that moves so fast, photography just makes the sound go out and it makes you stop and take a pause. Photography calms me.”
– Drew Barrymore

Weekend kemarin saya dan suami berkunjung ke kota Heusden. Tujuan utama kami adalah agar saya bisa sedikit belajar fotografi (baca: motret :p). Cuma sharing knowledge aja sebenernya si dari suami ke saya, karena kebetulan ternyata dia lumayan berpengalaman megang kamera pro (at least daripada saya :p) .

Saya dari dulu memang suka dengan yang namanya fotografi (motret deh hehe, ga enak ngomong fotografi terlalu canggih kesannya :D). Tapi sampe sekarang (well, minggu lalu) belum sempet kesampaian untuk punya kamera pro (DSLR) yang bisa captured scene lebih mantap. Makanya setiap saya beli handphone yang pertama dilihat adalah kualitas kamera nya hehe. Dulu pernah pake Sony Ericsson yang kameranya 8mp (seri C905 kalo ga salah, ini udah keren banget deh jaman dulu hihi). Sekarang saya juga masih setia pake hp keluaran Sony tapi yang seri Xperia Z (Sony-nya udah cerai sama Ericsson ya hehe).

Beberapa waktu lalu saya bilang ke suami kalo saya mau beli kamera DSLR karna saya mau belajar bikin foto yang bagus. Eh ternyata suami ngomong kalo dia (well, his family company si sebenernya) punya kamera DSLR lengkap dengan semua aksesorisnya. Memang kameranya itu tipe lama, tapi masih bagus kalo untuk belajar motret aja. Kamera yang mereka punya adalah Nikon seri D70. Perusahaan beli kamera untuk kepentingan dokumentasi mesin-mesin produksi mereka. Kamera ini dibeli di tahun 2003 (pas seri ini baru aja di-launching). Gila ya! udah lebih dari 10 tahun ternyata. Bahkan suami bilang pas beli mata uang yang dipake masih Gulden hahaha (eh…2003 masih pake Gulden kan ya? seinget saya Euro mulai diperkenalkan per tahun 2002. Tapi bisa juga suami saya yang pelupis hehehe. Anyway).

Kondisi kameranya itu masih bagus loh, mungkin juga karena jarang dipake. Memang untuk pixelnya ga seberapa kalo dibandingkan dengan kamera jaman sekarang (maksimal 6 sekian megapixel – lah kamera di hp saya malahan lebih besar, 20 megapixel), tapi ternyata hasil jepretannya bagus juga kok. Thanks to the (big) lens. Nikon D70 ini di jamannya termasuk salah satu kamera DSLR yang lumayan affordable (dibandingkan dengan kamera pro lainnya yang waktu itu harganya masih selangittt) dengan spesifikasi yang cukup oke. Waktu beli, kameranya itu satu set lengkap beserta lensa 50mm, tele lens, macro lens, flash, dan tripod dari kayu. komplit banget kan! saya hepi dong ngedengernya hehe. Akhirnya punya kesempatan untuk belajar moto beneran deh. Makanya semangat nyari obyek yang masih lumayan gampang untuk difoto hihi.

Oh iya, a glimpse of info about Heusden (I write them in English, who knows maybe someone who doesn’t speak Bahasa would also love to know it :))

Heusden is a fortress town in Heusden Municipality (Gemeente Heusden) located on Bergsche Maas (a canal that was constructed in 1904 to be a branch of the Maas River). The town is surprisingly (for me) a worth-seeing. It has many historic places and nice old buildings.

But don’t get confused with Oudheusden (Old Heusden). They are two different cities, although close to each other (and both in the same Municipality). It’s a bit strange but actually the Old Heusden is the newer one than Heusden (at least from the look). The surrounding in Old Heusden is more modern compare to Heusden. They have built new houses there. While in Heusden, the surrounding is more interesting – more appropriate if they called Heusden as Old Heusden because they look old =). 

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foto pertama using Nikon D70 (dari beberapa kali percobaan yang ‘busuk’ hasilnya hahhaha). A bit low on the light, since I took it indoor – and in the evening

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testing foto kedua. kebetulan anggrek di rumah masih pada berbunga. foto diambil siang hari. exposure cahayanya masih kurang bagus, tapi lumayan bisa fokus ke bunganya hehe.

Pada saat kami ke Heusden, cuaca sedang mendung mendayu. Makanya pencahayaan di foto agak kurang dan terlihat gloomy. Sempet hujan rintik tapi Alhamdulillah ga makin deras. Karena memang niat pengen nyoba kamera beserta kelengkapannya, makanya kami tetep jalan terus hehehe. Dan di bawah ini adalah beberapa hasilnya.

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first walk from the parking place. I used the default lens, and picked “p” for the photo program for almost all my photos (hubby said that’s a bit better than picking “auto” program :p)

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this fort-look building is actually a glass design store.

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This is a part of Heusden Stadshaven. Took the photo with the default lens.

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I used the tele lens to take this picture (almost maximum distance). I am glad that my hands are steady enough to make it less fuzzy 😉

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I used tele lens as well for this photo. I think I should’ve taken the object a bit closer.

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I also captured this one with tele lens. I didn’t realise until I saw on the result that the old guy on the boat was smiling =)

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Also taken with tele lens. Although the exposure was not perfect but I like this one. I didn’t know that I even could see the bird’s feet underwater!

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the last one taken with tele lens. my focus was on the blue flag in front. this photo also makes me happy, it looks alive =)

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this photo was taken using 50mm lens. love it!

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also taken with 50mm lens. hubby said when you use 50mm, you will get a result just like what you see with your eyes.

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foto ini juga diambil menggunakan lensa 50 mm. yang agak susah dari lensa 50mm adalah jangkauan fotonya yang cukup terbatas. 

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also taken with 50mm lens. I think the idea was quite good, but maybe if it was taken by a professional the result would be so much better ya :p

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yang ini kembali lagi ke default lens. walaupun jangkauannya lebih luas tapi di sini minim cahaya jadi agak susah dapet exposure yang pas (makanya kelihatan lebih gelap).

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foto ini sedikit lebih terang, thanks to the green grass that popped out from the dark hehe

Kami ga sempat nyoba lensa makro di Heusden karena sudah keburu hujan juga. Makanya mumpung tadi siang ada sedikit cahaya saya coba-coba aja sendiri motret pake lensa makro hehe. Hasilnya? bisa dilihat di bawah ini. Kebetulan bunga anggrek di rumah masih mekar dengan ceria, jadi bisa deh dijadikan sebagai obyek foto saya =)

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using macro lens is heel erg moeilijk! terutama karena kamera saya kalo ga nemu fokus ga bisa dipencet saya harus tahan-tahan supaya ga goyang dan dapet hasil yang lumayan tajam kaya foto ini. tapi pencahayaannya di sini kurang bagus ya 😦

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foto terakhir untuk postingan kali ini (juga percobaan terakhir hari ini hehe). masih harus ngulik lagi supaya hasil makro nya lebih tajam dan kece. yang ini lumayan ok untuk lighting-nya, tapi masih ga gitu pas fokusnya.

Emang bener apa yang dikatakan bapak Martin Parr, photography is the simplest thing in the world, but it is incredibly complicated to make it really work.

Saya masih harus terus belajar dan terus motret supaya hasil foto saya akan semakin tajam dan fokus. Jangan bosen kalo ke depannya saya posting banyak foto ya 🙂 *sambil mikir gimana ngatasin kendala kapasitas storage di WP yang terbatas wkwk*