Southeast Asia Trip — Part 1 : Escape

2 weeks traveling ‘part of Southeast Asia’

“This is my first short story of our trip in the end of 2016, going to Southeast Asia”

Me and my friends which love to travel, planned to have a layoff day for some vacation to escape from Jakarta, tired of city life, repetitive day. Wake up in the morning, fighting the infamous Jakarta traffic, sat down in front of the desk, go to class in the evening. Need a break for some vacation.

We were looking to visit Vietnam and Cambodia and Thailand as these countries are not being too far each other, and we don’t need visa to visit ASEAN countries. We start to book the flight in the early May, 7 month early for the trip, so we could save the money first before the day is coming.

The trip start from Indonesia to Malaysia first for 2 day 1 night transit, as its cheaper to take flight from Malaysia, and we could explore Malaysia first. We go Vietnam for a weeks, continue by land to Cambodia, and Thailand. At first we would like to add Singapore to the end of the trip, but seems we don’t have enough time, its better if we spend more time on Bangkok. So for the return flight, we decide to just take a direct flight from Bangkok to Jakarta instead of transit in Singapore for a day.

Ready to go

Today is the day, 24 December, the long awaited times after being trapped in a ‘not really’ boring life (lol). This is the only times to have a break in 2016, saving my annual leave for this trip. We’re going to Soekarno Hatta International Airport, Tangerang (Jakarta), fly to Malaysia first by Airasia. Here’s the journey started.

24 Dec — A Day in Kuala Lumpur

The first day of the trip, took the flight from Jakarta to Kuala Lumpur. We arrive in Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2(KLIA2) at 1 pm. KLIA2 is big, they have many shop and restaurant. Having some lunch first in the airport, then go straight to the hotel using GrabCar, the ride sharing service similar to Uber that’s popular in Southeast Asia. We’re staying in Tune Hotel Downtown KL, got the room only for 8 MYR, just about (28k IDR / 1.8USD) from the promotion. The hotel is located near monorail station that is really convenient. We took the monorail and went to Bukit Bintang, just 2 station from here.

The hotel just next to monorail station.

We go strolling and shopping in Bukit Bintang, a shopping and entertainment district in Kuala Lumpur, there are many fashion branded store. we just walking around and visiting the popular Pavilion Mall

Pavilion in Bukit Bintang

In the night we go to Jalan Alor looking for dinner, just ~1 km walk from Pavilion. There’s a lot of street food and restaurant beside the street. It’s like the food heaven, there’s many food available in there, most restaurant serve Chinese food. The crowd of people here make this place more lively. We spent the night in here, and back to hotel using the monorail.

The crowd in Jalan Alor Street Food

25 Dec — Kuala Lumpur and Hanoi Flight

Pork Noodle, Duck Noodle — Dragon View Restaurant

Our time in Kuala Lumpur is gonna end soon, we have the next flight at 7 pm to Hanoi, there’s still time to strolling around KL. We woke up in the morning and checkout, back again to Bukit Bintang to have breakfast because its the nearest one from our hotel and we still need to buy something in here. We’re having noodles for breakfast in Dragon View Restaurant, just in the intersection of Jalan Alor, the restaurant is always crowd in the morning, but their service and the food is very good.

After breakfast and shop, using Grab again, we goes to visit the famous landmark of Malaysia, the Petronas Twin Tower, located in the Kuala Lumpur City Center (KLCC), just for sightseeing and took some photos.

Petronas Twin Tower

We spent about an 1 hour in Petronas, and we still have spare time before go to airport. So we goes to Batu Cave, just 20 minutes drive from KLCC, its in the north of the City. Batu Caves is a limestone hill that has a series of caves and cave temples (from Wikipedia). There’s stair to go up inside the cave. 272 stairs to reach the top. But we don’t have time to going up there. We just stay down here taking photos seeing the people feed the dove. There’s many dove flying in here.

Murugan Statue outside the Batu Cave

The clock pointed at 3 pm, We’re gonna leave to catch the flight. Taking Grab as usual and drove to KLIA, Sepang. Its about 65km drive and took around 1 hour.

Arrived in KLIA. We go check in first, and having an early dinner in McDonalds. Proceed to Immiration and wait at Starbucks. This Starbuck is pretty big and have a great view to the airport

Starbucks @ KLIA

Boarding the Vietnam Airlines VN-680 heading to Hanoi, got the back row seat, impressed by the legroom which is pretty wide. I can freely bend and stretch my leg without touching the front seat. The flight is 3 hour long, estimated arrival at 9.15 pm. The flight was smooth with some minor turbulence. but everything is okay. The best part is the food served, which I really love.

This main dish is Braised fish fillet with potato & vegetable, they also have chicken but its all gone. The side dish is bread & butter, and some salad which i don’t know the name, maybe a Vietnamese style salad, and a cheese cake that is really thick and smooth. Everything was very good, I’m really satisfied with the food served.


Arrived in Hanoi

Its 9.20 pm, we arrived safely at Noi Bai International Airport, Hanoi. The first time we step out of the plane, we felt the cool breeze of Hanoi weather, its about 18°C. Hanoi is located in northern of Vietnam with subtropical climate. December is the cool season of Hanoi which is really nice to walk the city without getting sweaty.

The first thing to do when we arrive is looking for ATM to withdraw the money, we don’t carry any Vietnam Dong (VND), because the exchange rate on Indonesia is expensive, 1 IDR = 0.80 VND, whereas the market rate is at 0.59–0.60. We withdraw the money using debit card from Indonesia, I’m using CIMB debit card, any ATM with Mastercard should accept. for BCA just look for Cirrus logo in ATM. The withdraw rate from the ATM is about 0.60 with cost of 25.000 IDR + 30.000 VND for each transaction.

After got the money, we bought the SIM card in airport, its mobifone which i read its the good one in Vietnam, 200.000 VND for 2GB of data, but they dont have 4G yet (sad). We took the Uber to reach our Hostel, its 30 minutes from airport. The driver couldn’t speak English, and we were having a difficult time to communicate with the driver. But finally we arrived in Hanoi Backpacker Hostel in Ma May.

The hostel is located in the heart of Hanoi Old Quarter, there are many stall opened until midnight. They just finished the party when we arrived at the hostel. They held party every night in the main floor.

Tidy up our stuff and take a shower, we walk and have a supper in the food stall near hostel, they serve Vietnamese food, we order the fried noodle and the famous Pho, they taste really good, price is just about 40.000 Dong for a plate.

Its already 1 am when we finish our meal, we go back to hostel, sleep to get ready for tomorrow.

Continue in part 2…