Traveling (on A Long Haul Flight) with A Baby.

“Asked to switch seats on the plane because I was sitting next to a crying baby. Apparently, that’s not allowed if the baby is yours.”
Ilana Wiles, blogger

So, last April I went to Indonesia together with my seven month-old baby to attend my little sister’s wedding. Although it was not the first time for us to travel together without my husband and our two other kids (when he was still 4 months old, we traveled to Paris but a friend joined us half the way), it was still quite worrying for me at first to do the trip.

Main thing that concerned me before doing the trip was of course what if my baby (fabian) gets cranky all the way. This trip is way much longer if we compared it to Paris trip. And anyone who had experience of getting irritated by crying baby(ies) in the plane would know what I mean I guess (I am one of them 😜 – can you imagine if its your baby who did that!). Another concern was the loo issue. I didn’t have anyone to assist me or asked for help (well, I can ask the flight attendant actually but only to a certain limit I think). Plus, my baby at that age (7 months) has already starting to recognize people and he didn’t want to be hold by a stranger.

Having these in mind, my husband and I had to think and manage the trip as efficient as possible to make it easier and less hassle for me.

First of course which flight will suit best for us: direct flight or the one with stopover. After taking some considerations, we then decided that it would be better for me and fabian to use direct flight instead of flights with transit. There are few options for me to take direct flight from Amsterdam to Jakarta (we chose to use Garuda Indonesia). The duration of the flight from Amsterdam to Jakarta was approximately 13 hours, and the return flight was approximately 14 hours. The flight departed in the evening, hoping that it would be easier for fabian to sleep along the way and to adapt with the time difference later on.

After we confirmed the booking, I immediately contact the customer service of Garuda via email to request for a baby bassinet. This is actually a big advantage for those who travel with children less than 1 year old (well, maybe maximum 1,5 years – depends on the size of your baby).

This is the bassinet we got on our flight. Btw, the type of the bassinet self could be different from one airline (or flight) to another.

After the ticket and the bassinet have been settled, then we have to decide whether I should bring the buggy along to Indonesia or not, and which way would be the easiest for me to bring fabian and his (including mine) “equipment” along the whole time. In the beginning I considered to bring the buggy and a backpack diaper bag with me. But at the last moment (during the check in queue lol), I decided to leave the buggy and instead just using a baby carrier and replaced the backpack with shoulder-carry diaper bag. The consideration for the latter was mainly for the practicality – if I use backpack it would be a bit difficult for me to reach its pocket(s) without needed to take the bag out of my back.

I also have read some articles which discussed about how to handle a baby during take off and landing (because of the loud sound of the engine). Some people suggested to use earplug or earphone to reduce the sound, while others suggested to breastfeed the baby during the take off (and landing). Luckily fabian was not that critical at that moment. During the take off and landing he was quite relax and (without me asking) he just went to breastfeed and getting ready to sleep. I guess picking the evening flight also helped then 🙂

All in all, we had quite a smooth trip I can say. My son were mostly sleeping during the flight, and since I couldn’t use my tv (entertainment on demand) on my seat (hindered by the bassinet), I decided to make use the wifi connection on board (not for free but the price is still reasonably ok). I could use internet connection nicely during the flight (at least on the first batch) and able to chat with people on the ground – in Indonesia and in the Netherlands.

Nevertheless, doing a long haul trip only with your baby is definitely a tiresome. Yes – it’s possible, but if you have an option, I would suggest to bring your partner (or someone else) along. That would be much better for your body! 😉

And finally, although already a lot of people discuss it and what I will write below probably not much, I would like to share some tips for those who “must” do a long haul flight with a baby (or toddler below two years old).

1. Book your flight early. If you have an option to fly in the evening, do pick that. Evening flight(s) mean your baby doesn’t have to adjust that much with the time frame during the take off and landing – which means would be less stress for them.

2. Don’t forget to contact the customer service of the airlines in case you need them to provide a bassinet for your baby. Fyi, the bassinet can only be used for baby with maximum weight of 9kg or maximum age of 2 years old. The airlines only can provide limited number of bassinet in one flight, thus make sure you contact the airlines the soonest after your booking is confirmed.

3. Travel as light as possible. If you think you don’t need the stroller/buggy that much, just bring your baby with a baby carrier. Make sure your carrier is easy to wear on and off without assistance needed (as reference, I used ergobaby 360 four position). Further, bring a diaper bag which sufficient enough to accommodate your baby stuff, travel documents and your stuff as well (you don’t have to bring separated bag). In short, things you bring to the cabin would only be the baby (with the baby carrier) and one diaper bag.

4. If possible, choose a diaper bag that has at least one or two mini bags (one for the clothing stuff and one for food stuff – the latter is optional) with some extra pockets on it. The minibag is handy to bring in case you need to change your baby’s diaper. The extra pocket with sufficient size (preferably one with zipper in front or in the back of the bag) is important so that you can put your travel documents there and you can easily easily access them when you need it.

Stuff you need to bring in the clothing minibag: diapers (2 pcs would be enough), 1 pack wet wipes (choose the small one or reduce the wipe half), 1 set spare clothes (make sure its a comfy one like a jumper for example – no need to bring jeans or any clothes that less handy and less comfy), one pc of diaper cloth and 2 pcs (disposable) body wipes (washandjes).

If you have two minibag, you can put these things in the food minibag: (food and) milk container (to bring some snacks, milk, and the cereal/porridge for your baby – you don’t have to bring alot! Just some small portions in case your baby need it), baby spoon, bottle feed (for the milk), a mug (if your baby also drinks water), wet napkin, tissues, and (disposable) bib 2 pcs. If you only have one minibag, do remember to bring a thermal bag for your baby’s milk, while the rest can also just dump into the bag.

Some other stuff you also need to bring is a spare clothes for yourself (one t-shirt would be sufficient enough – in case an “accident” happened you would be happy that you bring a spare shirt 😅), some (small) toys for your baby (teethers, tiny stuffed doll), phone/cable charger, and a (light-weight) novel (optional). Don’t forget also to bring medicine such as paracetamol or other medicines you usually used (always handy when you have them around), band-aid (pleisters), mini perfume (important!), travel size toothbrush and toothpaste, and telon/kayuputih oil (only applicable to indonesian I think haha).

5. Make sure you and your baby wear comfortable clothes yet warm enough to wear in a room with an airco. Put your high heels and the blings in the baggage, also your make up kit. You will only need a (vaseline) petroleum gel or a lipbalm (and a thin lipstick after landing) to be put on your lips during the flight.

6. In my experience, the airline also provides baby food (usually baby food in a jar) and a diaper (complete with the wet wipes) for our baby. But, you cannot count on that since there’s always a possibility that the flight attendant forget to give them to you (happened to me).

7. After you landing (also applicable during the flight), if you need a help do not hesitate to ask someone else to help you – especially when picking up your luggage(s) from the baggage belt.

8. And finally, don’t stress out. Just relax, enjoy it and consider the trip as something that will make the bond between you and your baby stronger (😁).

I hope this post could help those who will do the travel alone with her (or his) baby just like me😊

Happy traveling!

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A Visit to Durban, South Africa

Umhlanga beachfront

“Durban is South Africa’s own Monaco, and it is appropriate that the event should take the form of a Monaco-style street race along one of the most beautiful beachfronts in the world.” – S’BU NDEBELE

Back then in April 2011 when I had a training in Stockholm, I knew there would be a follow up session (of the training) for all participants to be attended six months afterwards in one of participants’ country. We were excited enough with any of the options (among others, two strong candidates were China and South Africa). In September we received an email from the host, they informed us that the follow up session will be held in Durban, South Africa. Although China would be great as well, but going to South Africa (or any countries in Africa continent) by any chance would be more difficult for me to be fulfilled. That’s why I was very excited for having this one time experience.

I know a bit about Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria or Port Elisabeth (one of my friends is from this city), but I never heard Durban before. Thats why after we received confirmation about the place, I then began to browse and tried to look any information I can find about Durban online.

According to Wikipedia, Durban is the largest city in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, and the third in South Africa. It was originally called Port Natal, and was founded by British settlers. There are quite a lot of Indians live here, makes it as one of the largest population centers of Indians in the world, outside of India. It’s mainly because of the history where Indian workers were brought in to work the sugar cane plantations. Zulu and English are the most common languages in Durban.

There are several ways to enter Durban. Most flights from other countries usually fly to Johannesburg, Cape Town or Pretoria. From those cities then you can take domestic flight heading to King Shaka International Airport in Durban. Another way is to fly to Durban directly, although there were not so many scheduled flight options you can choose. If you happen to be from Jakarta, you can use Emirates with one stopover in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. This was the flight that I and another Indonesian participant (Bu Ina) used to reach Durban. In Dubai airport we also met other participants from other countries (Ukraine, Bangladesh and Philippines) at the airport. Apparently we had the same (connecting) flight from Dubai to Durban. The flying duration from Jakarta to Dubai took around 8 hours, and then we had 4-5 hours lay-over time in Dubai Airport. Further we had to fly from Dubai to Durban for approximately 9 hours.

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tired faces waiting for the next flight to Durban.

We stayed in Protea Hotel (now managed by Marriott) located in Umhlanga Rocks area, a place faces the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. Btw, the name Umhlanga means ‘place of reeds’ in the Zulu language. The hotel is located next to a shopping mall, and only a stone away from the umhlanga beach and its (famous?) light house. When you’re lucky, sometimes if you go by boat a bit further from the beach you can see some whales (and dolphins) swimming around.

The view of the hotel and the surrounding. Image via marriott.com

The room. Image via booking.com

The rooftop. Image via hotels.com

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The view from my hotel room.

During my stay there, almost every morning I went for light jogging or just a walk together with some of other friends. The view around the beach was so pretty and they made a special jogging track so people can enjoy the surrounding. My friend said that Durban seaside is one of the elite area where mostly rich people live there. No wonder you can find lots of big houses in this area (complete with high wall and (barb)wire protection – just like rumah gedong in Jakarta :)). Umhlanga Rocks also has a big mall where you can find almost anything, including local souvenirs as well as diamond.

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View of the Umhlanga beach (Anis’ image).

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Warning Sign about sharks on the beach (Anis’ image).

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Almost all activities are not allowed on the beach lol (image courtesy of Joy).

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The other side of the beach (image courtesy of Chowdhury).

In contrast, the situation in the City Center was less interesting (in other words: not that pretty). It was more like a side of Jakarta where you can find some pedagang kaki lima. I guess here you can see the real Durban – and not a touristic place like Umhlanga area. We also went to the market there to get some typical souvenirs from Africa.

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(image courtesy of Chowdhury)

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The van we used to go around the city (image courtesy of Chowdhury).

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One of statues we found in the city center (image courtesy of Chowdhury).

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The view of the market (image courtesy of Iolanda).

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One of the souvenir store close by to our hotel (image courtesy of Iolanda).

Regarding the food, you can see that Indian cuisine has a big influence here. No wonder I guess since lots of Indians live here. Other than that, they also have other options including fast food (there was KFC not that far from the hotel 😂). At the big mall, they have a food court that offers variety of foods. I only had a chance to taste typical African food at the hotel during breakfast and dinner reception btw (and I didn’t quite enjoy it since it’s not really my cup of tea 😅).

As an add-up to the training session, we also had a chance to have some visits to several interesting places around, including a visit to local village of Zulu tribes. Fyi, the name of the Durban Airport was taken from the (once) leader of this tribe – King Shaka. At the village, they told us about how they live, what are things that important for them, how things worked there, and made us involved in some of their activities.

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The view on the road to Shakaland.

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Information about Zulu (Anis’ image).

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The (tour) guide at the Shakaland – Zulu Village (Anis’ image).

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In front of the entrance to the Village (Anis’ image).

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(Anis’ image)

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(image courtesy of Iolanda)

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(image courtesy of Iolanda)

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The two ladies posing for us (image courtesy of Iolanda)

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One “ingusan” kid lol (Anis’ image)

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They did a special performance for us 🙂 (image courtesy of Bu Ina)

Another interesting place we have been visited was the soccer stadium. Soccer is actually less popular than Rugby here in South Africa. This stadium was especially built during the world cup in 2010 (correct me if I am wrong). We can go to the top part of the stadium using cable car.

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The Moses Mabhida Soccer Stadium, seeing from Botanical Garden (image courtesy of Chowdhury)

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The ticket price to go up at the stadium using cable car at that time (Anis’ image)

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The view of Durban harbor seeing from above the stadium (image courtesy of Chowdhury)

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A Colombian, An Indonesian, and A Brazillian 🙂 (Anis’ image)

There are so many other interesting things you can do here actually (sea aquarium, safari). Too bad I didn’t have a chance to go to the wild (safari) since we only stayed there for a week (and I already arranged another plan afterwards at that time). I guess I just have to visit South Africa one (or more) more time to get the real feel of being in Africa 🙂

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Doei ! 😀 (image courtesy of Chowdhury)

#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 =)

 

Long Haul Flight, Mudik dan Hamil (2).

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Kamboja yang sedang mekar di rumah mama. Such a beauty 🙂

“You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you.”
― Frederick Buechner

Memang ya, tempat dimana kita dilahirkan dan dibesarkan (hampir) selalu memberikan a certain kind of feeling. It will always be a part of you. Rasa nyaman, homey, terutama kalo keluarga dan sahabat yang kita miliki masih bisa kita temui dan ada di sekeliling kita, best feeling deh pokonya.

Sesampai di rumah, seneng banget akhirnya bisa ketemu mama, kakak adik dan keponakan. Saya langsung teler tapi hihi, secara perjalanan dari bandara ke rumah mama hampir sama aja lamanya kaya terbang dari jakarta ke aceh! tapi alhamdulillah kami tiba dengan selamat. Pengen cerita-cerita akhirnya ditunda besoknya supaya saya lebih fresh. Bersyukur banget, saya yang biasanya jetlag – terutama masalah jam tidur – kalo balik dari eropa, kemarin hampir ga gitu berasa.

Hari pertama sarapan, so pasti pake nasi uduk langganan hahaha. Jadi ada ibu-ibu yang jual nasi uduk di deket rumah, rasanya itu pas banget sama lidah saya. Bukan yang jenis nasi uduk betawi, tapi kalo yang ini lauknya pake telur dadar iris dan tempe kering plus sambal goreng dan kerupuk. Simpel tapi enak banget. Setelah sarapan, saya dan kakak-adik olah raga ke taman kota BSD. Cuma jalan santai aja si ikutin track, tapi lumayan lah daripada ga olah raga sama sekali yah. Abis itu jajan deh hahaha :p

Sebelum mudik, saya udah bikin semacam itinerary kasar (kali ini di otak aja tapi :p) kira-kira apa atau siapa aja yang mau saya lakukan/temui selama di Indonesia. Kali ini karna berangkat sendiri jadi lebih santai dan ga banyak rencana. Cuma karna ada beberapa prioritas dan yang akan saya temui ini agak sibuk jadwalnya jadilah kami harus bikin rencana sebelum saya tiba. Minggu pertama praktis hanya kumpul di Bogor bareng sahabat saya sewaktu kuliah dan persiapan acara syukuran/pengajian 4 bulanan kehamilan saya di rumah (pas acara sebenernya udah lewat 4 bulan si hehe). Tanggal yang kami pilih untuk syukuran/pengajian bersamaan dengan 2 tahun meninggalnya almarhum bapak, jadi pas saat acara juga sekaligus mendoakan almarhum bapak. Rencana awal cuma pengen ngundang tetangga sekitar aja, tapi akhirnya kita putuskan untuk ngundang keluarga juga (adik-adik mama dan almarhum bapak beserta anak-anaknya).

Untuk selebihnya saya tidak bikin rencana apa-apa lagi. Kalo biasanya setiap liburan bareng suami dan anak-anak kita pergi keluar kota supaya anak-anak ga gitu bosen, kali ini saya cuma stay di rumah aja. Sempet juga pengen ajak mama dan lainnya untuk weekend getaway karna kebetulan persis sebelum jadwal flight pulang mama saya berulang tahun. Tapi akhirnya gagal karna keponakan saya terkena demam berdarah dan harus dirawat 😦

Di minggu pertama saya dan sahabat saya (kami berlima, cuma sayang yang satu (Inge) pindah ke LA dan kita ga bisa dapet tanggal mudik yang sama – pas dia pulang seminggu kemudian saya baru mudik huhu) rencana untuk stay di Bogor. Sahabat-sahabat saya ini sampe ambil cuti dong supaya bisa nemenin saya hari Seninnya. Salah satu sahabat saya, Erina, dari lahir memang tinggal di Bogor, dan sebelum saya dan Inge pindah kami sering menghabiskan waktu bareng-bareng nginep di sana. Tapi sayangnya lagi, salah satu sahabat saya, Lia, mendadak ga bisa ambil cuti hari Seninnya karna ada kerjaan yang ga bisa ditinggal. Akhirnya cuma saya dan sahabat saya satunya lagi, Melissa, yang nginep di tempat Erina. Bicara tentang teman dan sahabat, mungkin di lain waktu saya akan cerita tentang mereka di postingan terpisah hehe.

Back to the story, jadi seperti biasa tujuan utama kalo berkunjung ke Bogor adalah wisata kuliner dong haha (selain tentu nengokin Erina dan keluarga). Enaknya punya sahabat yang orang lokal itu kita jadi bisa tau tempat mana yang rekomen untuk dikunjungi, dan biasanya tempat-tempatnya itu bukan yang orang banyak tau ato terkenal karna omongan mulut ke mulut.

Rumah makan pertama yang kami kunjungi untuk makan siang adalah Restoran Yama Masu di Sentul City (Ruko Plaza Niaga 1). Resto ini menyajikan masakan Jepang yang cukup otentik (ini penting secara Erina agak rewel sama masakan Jepang karna dia setengah jepang hehe). Koki resto ini menurut info dari Erina dulu kerja di restoran Sakura yang ada di lebak bulus (resto Jepang favorit kami sebelumnya, tapi range harganya lumayan tinggi). Buat kami ini recommended deh, rasanya memang enakk dan harganya lumayan ga gila. Malah Erina suka request menu modifikasi alias yang ga ada di menu dan sama mereka dibikinin dong. Kemarin pas kami ke sana saya pesen set menu (teishoku) yang isinya beef teriyaki, rice, miso soup, side dish dan japanese pickles. Selain itu kami juga pesen side dish edamame, salmon salad, dan chuka kurage (jelly fish). Sayang banget ga nyoba sushinya karna yakin ga bakalan kemakan kalo pesen – porsinya gede ternyata! Temen-temen yang lain ada yang pesan ramen (Lia), nasi goreng salmon untuk O (Erina’s son), Chicken Katsu Curry (Erina’s hubby), Chicken katsu teishoku (Melissa’s), dan menu modifikasi untuk Erina (something with sushi rice and a lot of toppings on top).

Selesai makan kami meluncur ke rumah Erina. Well, ga langsung ke sana si tapi mampir dulu beli martabak hehehe. Kalo biasanya kami beli martabak di daerah tajur (martabak air mancur), kali ini kami beli martabak pecenongan. Untuk rasanya juga kali ini beda. Biasanya kami pasti pesen martabak keju-nangka dan coklat nutella, kali ini kami pesen martabak rasa Black Oreo-Cheese, Red Velvet-Cheese, dan mini Nutella. Dan so pasti martabak telornya hahhaha (kalap bener ya:p). Ujung-ujungnya si sebenernya ga dimakan langsung juga. Akhirnya ini martabak(s) kami makan pas sarapan besoknya. Di jalan kami juga sempet beli duku (senengnyaaa karna lagi musim). Sampai di rumah Erina dukunya langsung diserbu donggg, terutama sama anak-anak. Ga nyangka mereka suka duku (dan bisa makannya!).

Untuk makan malam, tadinya kami rencana mau makan di rumah makan jawa timuran (seafood), tapi karna udah kemaleman trus kehabisan jadinya kami putar haluan dan makan di Lemon Grass, resto yang lagi ngehits banget di Bogor. Dimana-mana di social media banyak banget yang posting foto dan rekomen resto ini. Kalo kata Erina, ini resto ga pernah sepi (kalo liat dari parkirannya yang penuh melulu). Mau weekdays ato weekend sama aja, makanya Erina yang orang bogor pun belum pernah kesana.

Kami sampai di Lemon Grass udah jam 9 malem, tempat masih lumayan full, tapi beruntung pas kami sampe ada spot yang muat untuk kami semua (walau di bagian smoking area). Kalo menurut saya, tempat ini memang ditujukan untuk nongkrong, bukan untuk bener-bener makan. Suasananya enak, interiornya keren, tapi kalo untuk makan beneran agak susah. Bangkunya banyakan lebih untuk santai. Untuk makanannya sendiri not that bad kok. Lumayan enak malah, cuma untuk harga yaa harga cafe lah ya, agak lebih tinggi dari rumah makan biasa. But again, all in all its not that bad.

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cornucopia of food I had on the first day in Bogor 😀

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Us 🙂

Keesokan harinya, tadinya kami rencana mau cari-cari makanan yang seru di pasar pagi Sentul (makanan tradisional kaya nasi kuning ambon, panada, gorengan dan lain-lain), tapi kita bangun kesiangan dong hahaha. Ya udahlah jadinya kita makan apa yang ada di tempat Erina aja, abis itu kita meluncur ke baby shop sebentar, mampir ke roti unyil venus, beli asinan bogor dan menuju rumah makan favorit kami lainnya, Warung Ngariung (ngetik namanya aja udah bikin saya ngeces niih hahhaha). Tiap ke Bogor sebenernya pengennya ke sini, tapi karna lokasi dan rame tiap weekend makanya kami ga bisa juga selalu ke sini. Untungnya pas kami ke sana kan hari Senin, jadi aman hehe. Menu favorit kami di sini Ayam bakar bekakak dan sambal dadaknya. Duh ini dua enaknya bikin stress soalnya jadi maunya nambah nasi terus hahahha. Selain menu ini, gurame goreng terbangnya juga enak, sayur asemnya juga, tempe mendoannya, dan sambal-sambal lainnya (sambal mangga juga rekomen). Pokonya selera saya banget lah. Mulut kampung banget ya hihi. Dan udah segitu banyaknya kami makan, kami cuma perlu bayar ga sampai setengahnya dari billing order kami di Lemon Grass! makanya cinta banget sama rumah makan ini 😀

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Our meals at Warung Ngariung. Slurp!

Selesai makan siang kami langsung pulang ke rumah masing-masing. Melissa pake gojek trus naik kereta dari stasiun bogor ke stasiun terdekat dengan Rawamangun, sementara saya pake Uber dari rumah Erina ke rumah mama saya. Berhubung pertama kali pake Uber, saya bisa pake voucher potongan harga dari Erina’s hubby, dan you know what, saya dong ga perlu bayaaar alias di charge nol!. Karna kasian (dan surprised banget wkwk) akhirnya saya kasih tip lebih aja ke pak supirnya.

Di hari minggunya, kami mengadakan syukuran dan pengajian di rumah. Alhamdulillah acara berjalan lancar. Banyak doa-doa dan wejangan yang diberikan dari keluarga dan tetangga. Yang bikin seru ya tebak-tebakan jenis kelamin dari rasa rujak hehe. Hampir semua yang nebak sesuai dengan hasil USG loh! hebat ya 😀

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Mom and I.

Di minggu kedua saya lumayan banyak ketemu dengan teman-teman. Mulai dari Bas si nederlander temen kuliah di Tilburg yang sekarang kerja di Jakarta, geng di kantor, geng jaman kuliah, geng masa SMA, geng dari SMP, sampe geng komplek hahahha. Seru! Ampun ya, saya gangster banget ternyata :p Alhamdulillah mereka masih perhatian dan nyempetin untuk ketemu di sela-sela kesibukan mereka. Walau cuma sebentar tapi buat saya itu berarti.

Untuk hari-hari selebihnya semasa saya di sana saya habiskan bareng mama dan keponakan. Kakak dan adik saya kan kerja, jadi ga bisa juga diajak kumpul sering-sering. Belum lagi kakak saya yang harus ekstra jaga anaknya yang dirawat di rumah sakit. Alhamdulillah sebelum saya pulang kondisi keponakan sudah membaik, dan waktu saya tiba di Belanda dia sudah diperbolehkan pulang ke rumah.

Di hari saya harus kembali terbang ke Belanda, mama saya berulang tahun. Karena situasi dan kondisi akhirnya kami tidak ada acara khusus untuk merayakan. Tapi saya dan adik saya bikin surprise dengan memesan cake spesial untuk mama. Ga pake tiup lilin ataupun potong kue, yang paling penting berdoa semoga mama selalu diberikan berkah kebahagiaan, kesehatan, kesabaran dan ketenangan dalam hidupnya. Alhamdulillah saya bersyukur masih diberikan kesempatan oleh Allah SWT untuk bertemu dan kumpul dengan mama, semoga mama diberikan kesehatan dan Insya Allah mudah-mudahan nanti bisa kunjungan ke Belanda pada saat saya melahirkan nanti. Aamiin.

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Geng semasa SMA, sayang ga semuanya bisa kumpul. Btw tau ga nama gengnya apa? TR alias Tim Rumpi dong wkwk. Namanya ini yang kasih bukan kami, tapi temen-temen cowo yang mungkin tiap kumpul bareng suka rumpi yah hihi. 

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temen-temen masa kecil di komplek. syari’ah semua ya kecuali saya :p semoga segera menyusul, aamiin.

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kalo yang ini geng jaman SMP dulu. Nama gengnya lebih parah dong, Zombie kemudian ganti nama jadi Da PinkPeppers hahahhaa (duh) 

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Geng susah seneng selama kuliah S1 dulu di UI. Dijulukin G13 karna jumlah kita ada 13 orang.

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Kalo yang ini temen-temen seperjuangan di kantor HKI. 

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Blackforest Cake yang kami beli untuk mama 🙂

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Parts of mi familia. Too bad I forgot to take any photo with the whole fam grrr.

Sedikit mengenai perjalanan kembali ke Belanda, menurut saya untuk trip yang ini alhamdulillah lebih lancar dan terasa lebih smooth dibanding waktu berangkat. Selain kayanya karna persiapan saya yang udah lebih mateng (berdasarkan pengalaman sebelumnya), juga karna faktor penerbangan yang cukup tenang alias sedikit turbulensi deh. Saya bisa tidur dengan nyenyak di leg pertama (sebelum terbang saya nenggak paracetamol :D), waktu transit yang lebih masuk akal (ga terasa terburu-buru), dan saya sendiri yang mungkin udah bisa cope up dengan kondisi yang ada. Sesampai di Schiphol trus ngeliat suami dan anak-anak duh senengnyaaa. Anak-anak langsung minta peluk, bapaknya cuma kebagian koper ajah :p

Satu yang bikin saya ngerasa jetlag adalah bahasa, sepanjang jalan menuju tempat parkir (sampe rumah) anak-anak langsung cerita segala macam nyerocos pake bahasa belanda (mereka seneng cerita ke kami, dan memang kami biasakan untuk selalu bercerita). Rasanya aneh setelah dua minggu penuh cuma denger orang lain ngomong dan ngoceh pake bahasa indo doang sis. Untungnya ga lama-lama jadi langsung tune in deh sama apa yang diceritain sama mereka hehe.

Cuma…sepulang dari Indonesia perasaan kok saya makin berat bawa badan dan perutnya semakin keliatan buncitnya. Usut punya usut (tsaah) ternyata selama dua minggu liburan itu saya naik 2 kilo dooong hahaha. Oh ya, juga selama di Indonesia itu beberapa kali kaki saya bengkak hiks. Pola makan yang ga beraturan (yaiyalaaah, banyak makanan enak di sana!), plus cuaca dan banyak jalan kayanya yang jadi penyebabnya. Begitu saya di Belanda, alhamdulillah kaki kembali normal (ga bengkak lagi). Kalo makan si ya otomatis menyesuaikan ya. Tapi perut tetep makin buncit ahahaha. Alhamdulillaah lah ya, mudah-mudahan si dedek bayi sehat terus dan ga nyusahin mamanya 🙂 (aamiin).

Seperti Barbara Bush bilang, cherish your human connections – your relationships with friends and family. Dan satu lagi, enjoy life while you live 🙂 Sekian dulu cerita mudiknya ya kawan-kawan. Lain waktu nanti saya mau cerita tentang kehamilan saya boleh yaa :).

ps. all photos were taken with mobile phones, or received via WA, thus sorry for the lousy result 🙂

Long Haul Flight, Mudik dan Hamil (1).

“Life takes you to unexpected places. Love brings you home.”
~ Melissa McClone.

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Draft ini pertama kali saya buat di sela-sela waktu penerbangan Amsterdam – Doha karna udah matgay alias gatau mo ngapain lagi hehe. Dan saya lanjutin nulisnya (ngetiknya) pas jetlag melanda. Ato pas terserang insomnia dadakan selama di Indonesia. Diselesaikan setelah saya kembali ke rumah di Belanda. Panjang amat sejarahnya ya wkwkwk.

Jadi ceritanya setelah saya dan suami tau kalo saya (alhamdulillah) mengandung, di kepala saya udah kebayang langsung, berarti juli-agustus besok kami ga bakal bisa mudik ke indonesia secara di bulan tersebut saya (Insya Allah) sedang hamil tua. So pasti udah ga bisa terbang jauh dong ya, sementara hati agak sedih kalo taun ini ga pulang ke indonesia.

Selang beberapa waktu (biar ga keliatan banget ngebetnya hahaha) saya konsultasi ke suami, gimana kalo kira-kira kita pulang pas anak-anak libur akhir april – awal mei aja. Memang waktunya ga banyak si, cuma dua minggu, tapi lumayan menurut saya. Selain itu, kalo diitung dari usia kandungan masih memungkinkan juga untuk terbang. Sayangnya ternyata suami ga ikutan libur kaya anak-anak, daaan anak-anak so pasti ga mau ikut kalo cuma sama saya doang ato sama papa aja (penonton kuciwa :((). Mereka prefer tinggal di rumah daripada harus pergi jauh. Saya bilang ke suami kalo saya aja sendiri yang berangkat kira-kira gimana. Alhamdulillah suami ga keberatan, cuma kita harus atur untuk urusan anak-anak terutama dengan oma, karna suami udah pasti ga bisa full taking care mereka terutama selama jam kerja. Saya kan mikirnya kalo libur lebih gampang ya, ternyata oma minta kalo bisa pas anak-anak masih masuk sekolah aja, jadi dia juga cuma perlu jemput mereka dan ga perlu jaga mereka sepanjang waktu.

Akhirnya setelah konsultasi jadwal, ketemu deh tanggal berangkat dan pulang yang kurang lebih pas buat semua. Saya sempet cek beberapa flight yang kira-kira akan paling convenient buat saya. Suami sempet nyaranin ambil direct flight aja biar lebih cepet, tapi saya kok ya jiper juga 13 jam ga keluar dari pesawat. Mungkin juga karna pernah ada pengalaman kurang mengenakkan (udah terbang sampe atas india harus return to base alias balik ke jakarta karna ada salah satu penumpang yang sakit – dan kemudian meninggal hiks). Akhirnya saya putusin buat cari flight yg paling pendek dan masuk akal waktu transitnya. Kalo saya pergi ada temennya si ga masalah deh transit agak lama. Anyway, setelah nyari-nyari di semua website maskapai yang saya inget, akhirnya ketemu formula yang lumayan enak dan waktu transit yg singkat tapi ga grasa grusu: berangkat via Brussels dan pulang via Amsterdam Schiphol. Waktu transit di Doha kalo berangkat dari Brussels setengah jam lebih lama kalo dibandingin berangkat dari Amsterdam Schiphol, sementara jarak dari rumah ke bandara baik ke Schiphol atau Brussels Zaventem ga beda jauh.

Tiket udah di-booking, persiapan penjemputan di Jakarta udah di atur, ndilalah terjadi musibah (suicide) bombing di bandara Zaventem Brussels, beberapa minggu sebelum jadwal terbang yang saya pilih. Awalnya saya tenang-tenang aja, karna saya pikir masih lumayan ada waktu lah untuk mereka buka lagi bandaranya. Hampir setiap hari saya cek via customer service (CS) Qatar Airways kapan kira-kira bandara akan dibuka. Sampai akhirnya saya lihat di airport update status kalo flight saya dibatalkan (dang). Begitu saya telepon ke CS mereka, diinformasikan kalo saya harus ubah jadwal penerbangan. Yang bikin saya agak stress adalah flight dari Amsterdam untuk tanggal yang sama udah fully booked semua. Either saya harus terbang dari Frankfurt atau Paris (dikira jaraknya selemparan batu apa ya, huh!), atau saya pilih terbang di hari lain. dan info ini baru saya dapet 2 hari sebelum berangkat. Kezel! Suami nyaranin kalo saya berangkat sehari kemudian aja, dengan pertimbangan agar saya ga terlalu stress dan keburu-buru untuk packing. Sementara saya lebih prefer sehari lebih awal karna jauh hari sebelumnya saya udah bikin rencana sehari sesudah saya sampai Jakarta. Dilema, tapi akhirnya suami ok buat saya berangkat sehari lebih awal (fiuhh). Jadilah saya berangkat dari Amsterdam sehari lebih awal dari jadwal semula.

Lamanya penerbangan Amsterdam-Doha sekitar 7 jam. Pesawatnya penuhh (saya dapet pesawat jenis Triple 7 alias 777-300ER kalo ga salah), dan selama perjalanan lumayan banyak guncangan alias turbulence (jarang-jarang flight batch ini saya alami banyak turbulence. Biasanya lumayan smooth). Tapi alhamdulillah kehamilan ga mengganggu perjalanan. I tried to take it as easy as I can. Cuma perut sedikit agak tegang aja kalo udah mulai goyang hehe.

O ya, pas berangkat ini umur kehamilan saya adalah 19 minggu (menuju 5 bulan), sebelum keberangkatan saya dan suami kontrol dulu dan dari hasil USG janin alhamdulillah terlihat sehat dan normal. Dari Bidan tempat saya kontrol juga tidak ada masalah dan kehamilan dengan usia kandungan sekian minggu cukup aman untuk melakukan perjalanan jauh. Cuma ya itu, berhubung terbangnya di kelas ekonomi, jadi ya ruang untuk kaki bergerak cukup terbatas. Mungkin lain ceritanya kalo terbang di kelas bisnis. Bisa jadi akan lebih nyaman ya hehe. Anyway, not complaining here!

Sesampai di Doha, saya harus sesegera mungkin pindah pesawat. Waktu transit di Doha cuma sekitar 1 jam, jadi saya harus jalan cepat begitu pintu pesawat dibuka. Di sini kaki saya mulai agak terasa sakit, terutama bagian telapak kaki sebelah kiri. Mungkin karna harus jalan cepet-cepet ya, ditambah posisi duduk saya selama di pesawat, mungkin juga karna terlalu lama ditekuk ya. Begitu saya sampai di gate, boarding sudah berjalan. Untung ga perlu sampe last call baru sampe. Saya bukan tipe orang yang suka dateng di waktu-waktu akhir soalnya, bikin stress!

Di batch kedua (Doha – Jakarta) lama perjalanan adalah sekitar 9 jam. Couple hours longer than the first one. Lebih sedih lagi karna jenis pesawat yang saya dapet adalah Airbus seri A330 kalo ga salah. Space untuk kaki sedikit lebih tight daripada boeing jenis triple 7 (atau boeing Dreamliner ataupun Airbus seri A380) – kaki saya ga bisa dilurusinnn, ditambah di samping saya satu keluarga dengan 3 anak yang salah satunya ga berenti nangis ato ngambek hiks. Beruntung flight kali ini lebih smooth daripada batch sebelumnya. Alhamdulillah saya survived dan selamat sampai Jakarta :p

Sebenernya saya bukan tipe orang yang pengen ngerepotin orang dan suka minta dijemput segala. Dari dulu tiap pulang dari manapun saya biasanya pake damri aja ke tempat terdekat dengan rumah trus naik taksi (ato janjian sama alm. bapak di titik terdekat kita bisa bareng semisal pas hari kerja), ato kalo lagi tajir ya naik taksi dari bandara hahahha. Untuk kali ini, berhubung saya lagi tidak dalam kondisi normal, mintalah saya dijemput sama kakak saya hehe. Saya pun ga berani angkat koper gede dari baggage belt – yang bisa diselesaikan dengan nyewa porter. Buat jemput sebelumnya abang dan kakak saya sudah available jadi saya pikir aman lah ya. Ndilalahnya, berhubung saya sampenya bukan sabtu seperti semula tapi jumat sore (pas jam macret2nya!) si abang saya kejebak macet donggg ga sampe-sampe ke bandara. Saya secara kebetulan landing lebih cepat setengah jam. Begitupun dengan bagasi yang biasanya bisa lebih dari setengah jam nunggu ini paling cuma 5 menit terus nongol tu bagasi. Alhamdulillah kakak saya ternyata udah sampe (bela-belain mau ikut jemput bumil katanya walopun harus naik Damri dari kantornya 😀 lop yu pul sis!). Awalnya kami rencana nunggu si abang sampai, tapi karna liat situasinya yang bikin keki (abang saya itu masih di tol dalam kota dongss zz), akhirnya kami putusin untuk naik taksi aja dari bandara dan biar dia putar balik aja daripada makan waktu lebih lama lagi. Lamanya perjalanan dari bandara ke rumah mama di Pamulang? yukkk 2,5 – 3 jam ajah cin.

Sebelum nyambung ke posting berikutnya, saya mau share beberapa tips buat ibu hamil sebelum memutuskan untuk traveling jarak jauh menggunakan pesawat (long haul flight – penerbangan 6 sampai 12 jam dan ultra long haul flight – penerbangan lebih dari 12 jam):

  • Yang paling utama tentunya pastikan kalo kondisi kita (ibu hamil beserta cabang bayinya) sehat dan tidak ada keluhan khusus. Konsultasikan terlebih dahulu kondisi kesehatan kita dengan dokter atau bidan yang menangani kita selama kehamilan. Jangan lupa minta surat rekomendasi dari dokter atau bidan karena sebagian besar mensyaratkan ini (terutama untuk usia kehamilan tertentu).
  • Cari dan pilih jadwal penerbangan yang paling nyaman (terutama dalam memutuskan apakah akan ambil flight yang direct – dengan konsekuensi kita akan lebih lama berada di dalam pesawat dalam satu kali perjalanan, atau ambil flight dengan transit – dengan resiko seating di flight berikutnya tidak senyaman atau malah lebih nyaman dari flight sebelumnya hehe. Menggunakan direct flight tentu ada untungnya – terutama dari segi durasi secara keseluruhan. Kalo dengan transit durasi perjalanan Amsterdam – Jakarta paling cepat sekitar 15-16 jam, sementara dengan direct flight bisa ditempuh dengan waktu sekitar 13-14 jam. Berdasarkan pengalaman saya, sebaiknya pilih flight dengan transit, jadi kita ada waktu untuk sedikit meluruskan kaki dan bergerak lebih leluasa sebelum kembali ke dalam pesawat. Seandainya memilih jadwal dengan transit usahakan pilih jadwal yang punya waktu transit yang cukup – tidak terlalu lama tapi juga tidak terlalu cepat (sekitar 1,5 jam – 3 jam adalah yang paling ideal). Waktu transit yang mepet akan bikin kita sedikit stress karena takut ketinggalan pesawat berikutnya. Lebih nyaman lagi kalo kita bisa duduk di kelas yang lebih tinggi dari ekonomi si, tapi ya kita harus keluar uang ekstra yang kadang bisa lebih dari dua kali lipat dari harga tiket ekonomi (emak-emak pelit hahak!).
  • Usahakan agar barang bawaan kita (koper dan pernak-perniknya) bisa seefisien mungkin. Ga usah mikirin oleh-oleh buat yang akan dikunjungi, toh mereka juga (Insya Allah) pasti akan ngerti dan ga akan mau ngerepotin ibu hamil ya hehe. Secara umum, bawaan bisa berupa 1 koper ukuran besar (untuk dimasukkan ke bagasi), 1 koper kecil (ukuran kabin, untuk dibawa ke dalam pesawat), dan 1 tas serba guna (lebih baik menggunakan ransel dengan ukuran kecil-medium untuk memudahkan membawanya). Jangan lupa minta bantuan seseorang (bisa petugas atau suami/partner kita) untuk mengangkat koper besar ke timbangan di check-in/desk counter ya. Kalo ada servis porter bisa juga dimanfaatkan (seperti di bandara Soekarno Hatta Cengkareng).
  • Pakai pakaian dan sepatu senyaman mungkin (tapi bukan piyama ya hehe). Untuk sepatu, saya ga punya saran salah satu jenis sepatu tok, karna balik lagi semua tergantung kenyamanan masing-masing orang ya. Yang pasti jangan pake high heels (matik ajalah kalo mau terbang pake high heels cin :p). Sebelum saya hamil, hampir di setiap penerbangan saya selalu pake loafer karna gampang untuk slip on dan slip off. Biasanya selama di pesawat sepatu akan saya lepas dan saya gunakan kaos kaki yang agak tebal. Untuk penerbangan kemarin saya pake sepatu sport/sneakers karna saya pikir mungkin akan lebih nyaman digunakan untuk jalan. Untuk pakaian, kalo ga mau ribet ga usah pake jaket yang super tebel atau yang riweuh banyak pernak-perniknya. Juga untuk celana, saya ga anjurkan buat pake jeans (lebih baik gunakan legging) dan disarankan untuk pake baju yang agak longgar – terutama di bagian perut. Kalo takut dingin selama di pesawat, lebih baik pake baju berlapis atau minta selimut ekstra ke pramugari aja.
  • Kalo maskapainya punya fasilitas online check-in, jangan lupa untuk dipergunakan. Selain menghemat waktu antri di bandara, kita juga bisa memilih seating position yang kita inginkan (terutama kalo kita melakukan online check-in cukup awal). Biasanya maskapai sudah membuka online check-in 48 atau 24 jam sebelum waktu terbang. Jangan lupa pilih seat di lorong/aisle, supaya ruang gerak kita lebih gampang.
  • Selama di pesawat, jangan lupa banyak minum air putih dan banyak jalan/bergerak. Ga usah nunggu haus, kalo liat mbak/mas flight attendant-nya bawa minuman comot aja langsung hehe. Usahakan juga makan ya (ga perlu dihabiskan seluruhnya) walaupun mungkin menunya tidak sesuai selera kita. Untuk jaga-jaga bisa juga kita bawa sedikit cemilan ekstra di tas kita. Untuk berdiri dan meluruskan kaki pun ga perlu nunggu sampai kita mau pipis aja hihi, kalo badan udah terasa pegal sebaiknya segera berdiri atau mondar-mandir aja di lorong. Kalo saya kemarin suka jalan ke pantry, minta minum trus berdiri deh di situ. Paling susah memang kalo kondisi cuaca ga kondusif dan kita diharuskan duduk di tempat aja. Turbulensi juga bikin badan kita jadi lebih tegang dan stress.
  • Kalo ada keluarga, kerabat atau teman yang bisa dimintakan bantuan, jangan sungkan untuk minta tolong jemput di Bandara ya. Mungkin kadang sungkan tapi dengan kondisi kita yang agak khusus boleh lah sesekali ngerepotin orang hehe.

Untuk sementara kurang lebih segitu dulu tipsnya ya. Nanti di batch kedua saya mau sharing cerita mudik seru-serunya dan juga tips lain terkait mudik yah 😉

Welcome to Jakarta ya Nak! =)

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pardon moi for the blurred image (taken by my lil sis at Taman Kota BSD)

One Day Trip to Lake Como, Italy

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the steep steps which you can find quite often in Varenna

I went to Lake Como (Lago di Como), Italy last year in the mid September with my husband, to commemorate our 1st year wedding anniversary. We did not stay over there, but we went in one day by train from Milan. That was the best option for us, because we also could visit and enjoy Milan on one trip.

According to Wikipedia, Lake Como has been a popular retreat for aristocrats and wealthy people since Roman times, and a very popular tourist attraction with many artistic and cultural gems. Many famous people have or have had homes on the shores of Lake Como, such as Gianni Versace, Madonna and George Clooney. For Intermezzo, during that time of the year George Clooney had been rumored to have his wedding with Amal Alamuddin at his Villa in Lake Como (which did not happen, since they had their wedding in Venice, Italy :)).

lago_di_como

There are approximately 10-11 towns located along the Lake as you can see on the map above.  I think Bellagio is one of the cities that most people familiar with. On our trip, we had a chance to visit Varenna and Bellagio.

Actually, there are a lot of travel agent that offered one day trip from Milan to Lake Como. But after we did (well, I mostly :p) some research we decided to just do the trip by ourselves.

From our hotel, we use a subway/metro to Milan Central Station (Milan Centrale). Then from there, we took the train (regionale) with destination Varenna. The train runs every two hours from Milan Centrale. It takes approximately one hour to reach Varenna. The cost of the ticket at that moment was only €6 for one way (for 2nd class). For reference, you can check the train schedule and the ticket price on their official website.

I think you would enjoy the scenic view served by the ride – especially when the train has reached the lake area – as much as we do :). On the early hours of our trip the weather was quite gloomy. A bit drizzles and lots of clouds covering the sky. Luckily the weather was getting better and better afterwards. When we reached Varenna, there was a certain of excitement burst out. Even from there you can see how beautiful the surrounding is.

Varenna is small enough to be enjoyed only by foot. With staircases and steep paths, the historical centre of Varenna is nicely cozy and has bars with terraces and a pedestrian walk along the lake shore. The biggest draw of Varenna is simply to be able to stroll around by the lakeside or through the winding alleyways, enjoy the traditional Italian architecture and take in the serene atmosphere.

Varenna taken from Bar Il Molo.JPG

This scenic view was taken in the midday from Bar Il Molo, Varenna. You still can see the dark cloud in the sky here.

In between our walk, we decided to get our lunch at Bar Il Molo, where then we got served this stunning view along with a very nice homemade pizzas, fresh juice and a cup of Italian coffee. The price was still quite reasonable and the food were good. All those combined with the view, sitting there for a while was really worth it. In highlight, my husband really likes the coffee they served.

After lunch we continued our walks, heading towards the City Center (sort of), where the Church (with the high tower) located. Apparently on that day there were a group of old cars having a convoy (I’m sorry I don’t know the name of the Car Brand, but They look super nice!). Oh, and also we saw a couple having a (pre)wed shoot in front of the Church =)

After we were done with Varenna (well, more or less), we decided to go to other city around the Lake as well. We took the Ferry trip from Varenna to Bellagio – the city which located at the opposite of Varenna. The Ferry that we took itself is connecting three cities: Bellagio – Menaggio – Varenna. There are also some other routes offered. The fare for one way trip is €4.60. If you are using car, you can also go across the Lake using the Ferry. The ticket price for one transportation (the driver is inclusive) is €15. For the timetable and the price of the Ferry ticket, you can check directly to their website.

Bellagio is situated upon the cape of the land mass that divides Lake Como in two. Many celebrities are known to pass through Bellagio. Even the President of Mirage Resort got inspired and decided to build The Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas after his visit to this town. The City has more hotels (as well as luxury villas) and restaurants to offer along the lakeside than Varenna. The size of the town is quite big.

Bellaggio.JPG

In my opinion Bellagio is a bit more touristic than Varenna. You can notice it right away from the number of souvenir stores available, and of course the price they have set for 🙂

Apart from that, Bellagio is as beautiful as Varenna. That typical small alley with some steep steps, the extravagant church on the higher area of the town (The Basilica of St. James – San Giacomo), and the beautiful view along the lakeside. What makes it special, unlike in Varenna, Bellagio provides some benches and walk path around the lake side, so that when you get tired of walking, you can just sit there and enjoying the sun and the view.

After we felt quite satisfied (and getting tired from the walk :p) we then returned to Varenna, and then back to Milan.

We were glad that we have decided to visit Lake Como. We know it would be worth it but what we have got were much more than what we expected. It’s definitely not going to be the last time we visit this area =)