22 hours in Padang!

Last weekend I went to Padang – West Sumatra for a friend’s wedding with some friends. It was my first time and albeit the short time (only 22 hours!), I really enjoyed it.

I was supposed to stay longer though (not that long, but at least passed the 24 hours mark), but I missed my flight at Saturday morning and then got transferred to a later flight on the afternoon. That flight then got delayed, so I arrived in Padang at 4PM on Saturday.

My friends and I went straight to Lamun Ombak – a local restaurant serving none other than the super delicious Padang Food!

Padang food fiesta!

It’s a common destination for those just arrived in Padang as the location is nearby the airport. Such a perfect welcome after our delayed flight! The food was delicious but it was a bit disappointing that they don’t serve Soto Padang – my favorite kind of Padang Food.

After getting our stomach full, we had a bit of time to kill before we were scheduled to meet our friend the groom. Our driver took us to Air Manis Beach – a nearby beach, famous as a surfing spot and also the legend of Malin Kundang. There’s a rock formation on the beach which is told to be the him and the remains of his ship.

Malin Kundang
Malin Kundang Rocks

The beach is supposedly pretty – to get there you would have to drive pass a hill first, which also gives you a nice experience. It’s around 30 minutes from Padang’s city centre. BUT, it is VERY dirty. I was heartbroken to see the dirty beach. There were trash all over the place, and no facilities at all. The Malin Kundang rocks is also poorly maintained, which is such a shame. I really really really wish that the government would take action to restore Indonesia’s nature spots.

Air Manis Beach, pretty but so dirty 😦

From there, we went to our hotel, checked in and had dinner with the groom and our friends. We had Martabak in Malabar Bofet & Restoran. It was one of the best Martabak I’ve had! Really satisfying. Then we went back to the hotel because the groom (obviously) needs to rest 🙂 The rest of us decided to hang out at a nearby cafe and ended up staying until 1AM, then had Soto Padang (finally!) at a nearby food stall before finally getting some rest…

The next day was the wedding day – we started the day early despite the lack of sleep, and had breakfast with the groom and his family, and his other friends in the hotel’s restaurant. Then we went to the convention centre where the ceremony was held to witness the wedding ceremony. The ceremony was finished at around 10 AM and there was an hour break before the wedding reception started at 11 AM. I stayed there until 12 PM and rushed to the airport to catch my 14.20 PM flight.

Minang Wedding
Minang Wedding!

So that’s how I spent 22 hours in Padang. Short but surely eventful 🙂 I’m happy that I was able to witness a traditional Minang wedding and had (a glimpse) of delicious Padang Food! Perhaps I’ll be back and stay longer some time.

Those Island Days

I’ve heard about Derawan Islands quite a lot before I finally paid a visit. The islands – located in North Kalimantan – has been frequently reviewed on magazines and travel blogs, but I kind of hesitated to go because I read that it’s still quite hard to reach – you’d have to change several methods of transportation to get to the islands. So the trip stayed in my plans almost forever, I kept talking about wanting to go, but never actually went… until last month.  Spoke to a couple of friends and gathered a group of 8 and then we registered ourselves to a travel group, called Kakaban Trip.

With Kakaban Trip, we had to pay IDR 5,600,000 for a 4 day trip, which I think is a pretty good deal considering that all expenses were covered – only exclude airport tax (IDR 40,000) and snorkeling gear rental (IDR 50,000 a day). Plus, they accept installment if you book in advance! (do check again though, price might differ since my visit..)

So we went on a Thursday morning, took the earliest flight from Jakarta to Tarakan. From Tarakan, we then had to take a speedboat for 3 hours (!!!) to finally reach Maratua Island, where our villa was located. Though it was realllly tiring but when we reached Maratua on the afternoon, I suddenly forgot that I was tired because of this view!

Maratua Paradise Resort
Maratua Paradise Resort
Maratua Island
Maratua Paradise Resort
View from our beach cottage

Because it’s almost sunset when we arrived, there was not many things to do except settling in to our lovely beach cottages, catching sunset, had some dinner and went to the bed early… because a lot of things were waiting for us the next day.

One of the best sunsets that I've seen!
One of the best sunsets that I’ve seen!

The next day, we woke up at 4, went to catch sunrise on the other side of the island, went back to the villa for breakfast and then left for island hopping! You see, Derawan Islands has a lot of islands, some big ones including Maratua. The smaller ones don’t have villas/resorts, but have beautiful snorkeling/diving spots.

First stop was Derawan Island. As predicted, this is the main island – where there are more resorts (there’s only one resort in Maratua), a lot of homestays, small restaurants, bike rentals, etc. Basically, there’s life in Derawan island. BUT… when there’s life, there’s also… trash. Junk. So disappointing, because the snorkeling spots are not that clean anymore. I spotted a big turtle AND a manta ray while I was snorkeling, so that made me very happy though. Then we went to other smaller islands and did snorkeling again. The experience was waaay better than snorkeling in Derawan Islands, the sea was way more clearer, coral reef were a lot prettier, and the beach, AAAK i lost words. Here are some pictures for your eyes to see 🙂

Derawan Islands
Bluest blue!
Derawan Islands
My personal favorite – Gusung Island!
White sands, clear sea, blue sky!
White sands, clear sea, blue sky!

On our third day, we went island hopping to the smaller islands. I don’t remember all the names, but one that really caught my attention was Kakaban Island. I visited two parts of the island –  where there’s a big lake full of sting-less jelly fish (you can swim with them!), and another one to see a pretty lagoon. We swam with the jelly fish, and spent some time in the lagoon. Interesting fact, we had to do some caving to get out of the lagoon. Definitely once in a lifetime experience!

Kakaban Lake
On our way to Kakaban Lake
I swam with the jellyfish!
Kakaban Lagoon
Kakaban Lagoon

After island hopping, snorkeling, and all the fun times in the islands, it was time to go home. We left the island the Sunday afternoon, went on another 3 hours speedboat ride (!!!), spent some time in Tarakan before finally going back to Jakarta. I really really looooove Derawan Islands, definitely worth the long journey and even the sunburn! :p oh, btw.. Do browse #thisisderawan on instagram to see more pics from me and my friends!

P.S: I would gladly recommend Kakaban Trip if you want to save the hassle in planning, because they will arrange everything for you. It may be a little bit more expensive, but saves you a lot of trouble. But, if you prefer to plan your own trip, i would say to take out Derawan Island from your itinerary and focus on the smaller islands like Maratua or Kakaban instead. Enjoy! 🙂