The Ignorant Sakai

Sakai is a local idiom to describe a person who is a country bumpkin or someone who has never seen common things. It is a somewhat derogatory term for the indigenous tribe it was named after.

After receiving two bookings for hotels in Kuningan, Jakarta, I was curious. The first is Ascott Kuningan Jakarta and the second being the Aston at Kuningan Suites Hotel.

Confusingly, there is also a regency and city named Kuningan, east of Jakarta, near Cirebon. To complicate things, Kuningan City Mall turns up in search results.

I asked my Jakarta friend and Jakarta resident Veronica Sitorus (@ve_nat on IG) and she confirmed Kuningan is one of three business districts in Jakarta. When I went to Jakarta, I stayed at the Gran Mahakam Jakarta which was a fine hotel but I hated the metal detectors and explosive sniffing dogs checking my camera bags.

Jahabar Sadiq, who was then working there, visited me at the hotel before taking me on a Jakarta pub crawl. Coming from KL I have seen the undercarriage of cars inspected with mirrors before entering the car park of the KL Hilton in KL Sentral. I suspect the Grand Mahkam hotel had some American connection. This was after the Jakarta Marriott bombing.

Just my luck that I stayed later at the Renaissance New World Makati Hotel in Manila, also managed by Marriot I think. The Philippines capital suffered a wave of bombings by militants at that time. I went through the same hassle with my camera bags at hotel and at mall entrances. Was a bit unnerving seeing. for the first time, a guard with firearms inside a McDonald’s.

Anyway, Jakarta is great for street photography on foot. Although there seems to be growing inter faith intolerance now. It was nice to see multi-religious symbols placed together at a roadside art shop. I went to the Jakarta Cathedral or the Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady of Assumption earlier and saw many male guests attending a wedding dressed in batik and wearing songkoks. The women were in beautiful kebayas. I felt like an ignorant, sheltered sakai from Malaysia. All hotels cited can be booked at MyCen Hotels

#kuningan #jakarta #indonesia #streetphotography #manila



I was about to write a feature on Borobudur in Indonesia. The 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist temple ruins with stupas and statues in Magelang, Central Java, is the world’s largest Buddhist temple, and also considered one of the greatest Buddhist monuments in the world. With the historical landmark so near, I can see from my social media timeline, many Malaysians visiting the UNESCO World Heritage site, probably as a bucket list destination.

By a happy coincidence, I gained a recent Instagram follower named @sarasvati_borobudur_hotel. I contacted them and found out the account is run by the management of the hotel. A nice person by the name of Emir responded and a helpful Bambang sent me pics to feature. Touted as a boutique hotel with colonial design, Saraswati Borobudur Hotel offers free wi-fi, an outdoor pool and a restaurant. It also provides bicycle rental and Javanese arts classes. More importantly, it is a short walk or bicycle ride from Candi Borobudur. (see map at MyCen Hotels). I asked Emir if Saraswati is spelled with a V or W. He said they were registered as Saraswati but are in the process of changing to Sarasvati.

Check for low room rates and availability of the Saraswati Borobudur by Agoda or by

See the special page on Saraswati Borobudur Hotel for more pics, and to book at

See also: Pop! Hotel Kut Beach Bali.

#borobudur #indonesia #worldheritagesite #travel #hotels

Let’s Pop!

Let’s Pop! A stay at legendary Bali is now more affordable than many may think. Like to introduce you to an affordable and stylish place with colours that pop. Haha. I got to know ethnic Indonesian Hokkien Treshia Lim (Lim E Cha) when she was working at the Swiss-Belhotel International in Bali. She went back to her hometown in Medan to work for Radisson Medan. Before I can visit her at the Kota Kuliner (culinary capital) in which the North Sumatra city is known for, she is back in Bali. Such a nomadic life for a hotelier. She is also a Catholic and a foodie.

She is now with the corporate office of the chain that runs the Pop! Group of hotels and they have a nice and affordable hotel in Bali. With information from her, I created a custom page for Pop! Hotel Kuta Beach Bali. It is also the first time I am implementing Agoda’s dynamic banners in which other hotel options in the same destination are displayed with scrolling views. Seeing the Google map may be dizzying as there are over 3000 hotels listed by Agoda on the island! Pop! Hotel Kuta Beach seems a logical choice because the rates are truly affordable and it is very near the beach and popular eating places. The hotel has all the modern amenities such as free wi-fi and pool. It is also a fairly new hotel, being only 3 years old.

For more info or to book, go to:

#bali #kuta #beachhotel #indonesia #pophotel #island #beach #hotel #denpasar

Love Her Freckles

On this day in 2015, I met Indonesian Chinese school teacher Lix Xia when she was wandering by herself in Chinatown KL. The then stranger and tourist told me she is from exotic Cirebon and it was my first time hearing of the ancient port city in West Java. At first, I thought she meant Seremban. Haha.

I asked to take pictures of her on the street and she asked why. I told her I like her (mild) freckles. Honesty helps:-) We spoke in a mixture of English, Hokkien (Fujian) and Mandarin.

If you ever go to Cirebon, book a hotel room through me at

Search for Cirebon on that page and Agoda will list at least 38 hotels there.

#cirebon #java #indonesia #indonesian #chinese #freckles #tourist #chinatownkl



Historically, the Minangkabau people of Sumatra were of a migrating (merantau) culture. Many left home to start new lives in other Indonesian cities, as well as at regional countries. Soon, Padang restaurants were everywhere.

But there was one problem when they wanted to take food along their long journeys through rivers and oceans. Refrigerators weren’t available in the 16th century.

So the enterprising Minangkabaus came up with Rendang, a form of drier curry meat. The special recipe used a combination of spices and cooking methods that resulted in a dish that will last when stored for weeks at room temperatures.

There are now, of course, many regional and different adaptations in both dry and wet versions. The rendang curry, be it chicken, beef or mutton, goes very well with lemang.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 2500, f13, 1/160 sec.