Monday, 14 June 2010

Keyalang Beach Cottages Belitung

I have just returned from a 3 day 2 night trip to Belitung and the beach resort of Keyang Beach which is in the north west of the island around 50 minutes from the airport.
The resort itself consists of about 10 beach bungalows and a restaurant cum reception cum everything else. Thats it.
No TV, no billiards, no karaoke, no scrabble, no playing cards. Just a set menu and a fridge full of beer water and soft drinks and happy to serve and smiley staff, a few dogs and chickens and 20 lizards.
For a getaway from it all it is perfect. Why? Well on a blue sky day, the beach is pure white sand, soft and stretches away into the distance. It is broken up by its landmark rock formations, coconut trees and in the flat warm sea, boats and canoes. The sea is warm, crystal clear full of fish and sandy bottom although the rocks are everywhere but you can easily spot them.
I flew there with Sriwijaya airlines and we arrived on the first flight at 7.30am. We were met by a driver of the resort who took use the short cut route and shaved off 30km trip to the resort. 
On arrival we were given a warm welcome and shown to our bungalow which had great views of the sea.

The cottage I stayed. Basic but comfy.

The bed was very comfy and the AC worked wonders. There are Mosquitoes at night and in the day but the nets worked really well. The shower are was ok, the water comes from a groundwell and is pumped up to a tank and then fed to the room, so the water is not drinkable but showerable. Yes it is brown ish but its water and it cleans you. The pressure is not so great but the shower works,

The view from the room

The food as I have mentioned was basic but well done. The seafood was all prawn and squid but it was fresh out of the sea and very cooked and served with either rice or noodles. The menu was limited but great as all fresh and the staff more than eager to help. 
The beer was cheap and always cold. 

The view from the beach of the restaurant.

The view from the resto looking out. It was rainy it was sunny, it was hot, it was very hot. It was awesome,

Some facts for you.

They do not take anything but cash so have plenty.
2 nights with ac was 600,000 (rooms with out AC are 250 a night)
Transports to and from airport was 300,000 in total
All day boat trip to where ever you want 300,000
Hire life vests 25,000 each
Bike hire 40,000 all day (not with petrol)
Food from 4,000
Beer 20,000 large Bintang
Can Coke 4,000
Bottle water 4,000 (large)

Now the bad news :(
The beach has sandflies. If you are asian you might not feel them straight away like I did but bites do swell and itch. Oh my god do they itch. You need to bring some serious repellant with you but they are seasonal, they are not about in the wind. They are so small they are hard to spot but you will know.
If you are attacked and need relief which ultimately you will take tiger balm with you as it will help you. Then see a pharmacist off the island asap to get more relief. Sadly these bites can take weeks to go and can leave nasty scars.

Overall it was amazing. The beaches are the best I have anywhere in the world I have travelled and I have been to quite a few places, New Zealand comes close (and with the flies as wow ha ha ha) but the views are simply amazing. The boat trip is great, trips to the old lighthouse, the sand bank any island you want and snorkelling as well is well worth it. A bike trip around the island again is well worth it again the views are beautiful, the people friendly and very polite and the roads well looked after.

Out of 10 it has to be an 8. It should be a 9 but the sandflies make the place lose a whole point.

More pictures can be found by clicking here and the website for the beach cottages here

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Tanjung Pesona Beach Resort Bangka

I decided to fly to the island off the east coast of Sumatra call Bangka for a weekend to relax and catch some sun and enjoy life by the sea.
I flew with Lion Air to the island and the flight took about an hour in total.
The beach resort I was heading to  was a little over 45 mins away. It was called Tanjung Pesona Beach Resort and to get there I had booked a car although you can arrange transport with the hotel directly and they will come and meet you and then take you back again so thats helpful. The cost is around 80,000 so thats quite good.
The room I paid for was a double standard and I got it at a reduced price from 420,000 t0 372,000 for a night which was great. Why? I really dont know but I am not complaining.

On arrival I had to leave me identification with reception as the copier was broken but I was not going any where else that did not seem to matter. The other thing was that there was a distinct lack of people at the resort, even in the off season you would expect to see other people there, or cars or anything! but no there was not a soul at the place. A few people on the beaches but paying guests, hard to say really. But again that never mattered.
The room was ok. A double standard as described. Not very big but clean and tidy and the bed was also clean. The tv was good with the exception of the Indovision channel which was controlled by someone else and so just as a movie would start, someone changed the channel!!!

The room I was in was next to the Karaoke lounge and staff area and so it was noisy quite late into the night.
Wandering around the resort, there was tennis courts, free bike hire, cheap speedboat rides, 2 restaurants, blliards, karaoke (mind the nearest entertainment from the resort was hard to find, maybe nowhere close). Then there was the beaches. The resort is between 2 coves and both are beautiful. Bangka island has many white or golden beaches and on these beaches are large outcrops of rock which over the years have smoothed away and they meander into the clear, sandy floored sea which is warm and still.
One beach in is part of a public beach, there is a small cafe there with limited food offer which comes from the hotel, the beer is warm but welcoming. The view again is my favourite, beer sea and sand. The beach stretches in a big circle and there was no one on most of it but as I left on the Sunday cars and bikes a plenty were going into the area.
The resort has some nice private villas and some of those have their own terraced areas and private gazebos overlooking the sea.
The other beach is accessible by some steep steps or if you like a short journey around the rocks to it. It is almost private with the exception of some fishermen. There were many rocks there but the water was warm and clear and very welcoming. The sunset could be seen there but sadly the sun set behind the hills as the resort is facing north west.
The main restaurant served some good indonesian food and the staff were friendly and helpful and I think quite happy to see someone.
Overall I enjoyed the resort as I was there for a short time.  2 nights and I would have been ready to move on, but there was enough to do in the day and in the evening for sure.
Tanjung Pesona is not the best resort on the island but if this is the minimum standard then it has to be hard to beat. For a relaxing few days on an sun drenched golden sand island which is not Bali or Lombok then this is a good place to choose.

Sunday, 21 February 2010


Staying at the Hotel Boroburdur was a nice and pleasant experience, but like I was told it was a good looking place but as soon as you started to look you could see things were broken or did not work as well as perhaps they should.
Located near the Monas and Gambir railway station, Hotel Borobudur has a reputation as the safest hotel in Jakarta in relation to terrorist attacks. This is probably down to the fact that there is tighter security to get in than the airport but once you are in then it is pretty easy to wander around the whole place unmolested or questioned as no one likes to question a western person as they might be important.
The hotel is plush and a 4 star place and could 5 star but I think it would need to be even more luxurious than it is now. Standard rooms start at $100 dollars and go up.
There are many and I mean many staff available the service is pretty good. However I would say the staff are nervous of westerners and also Asians a like and so are a little coy and quiet.
I stayed there for a conference and the rooms were good and the facilities were great. The additional service of constant coffee, water and snacks and food was amazing.
The room I was in was a twin and it had 2 good sized twin beds, a very good ac, the fridge was locked (maybe they know of my reputation) and the usual slippers and robes were available.
The bathroom was neat and not too small and there was a bath tub with shower curtain and a big flat shower head. Sadly I am taller than the shower so I had to bend down to wash.
The soap and things cam in little dispensers shaped like the hotels name, the bells champbers at Boroburdur.
But i felt they looked more sexual and so commented on that.
There was 2 bottles of drinking water provided and after that you had to pay for extra. A pot of tea was 50000 or $5.
So I liked the room. I liked the hotel it is long and tall and huge with lots of conference areas and meetings.
Dripping fans in the Cafe Bogor was not great and slow to refill breakfast items also not great but the food was overall great.

The grounds were big and there was a pool and it looked good. It was raining while we were there and really never had the time.
There is a great big model of the Boroburdur temple in the grounds as well.

I would like to stay there again I think as it could be a good place to chill out over a weekend, it is right in the middle of the city and there are always taxis avaiable. The rooms are very comfortable and the service as I have already mentioned was very good.

By far this is the nicest hotel I have stayed in in Indonesia and one of the best I have been in through out the world (Twin Towers Bangkok, Millenium New York, Somewhere is Cardiff and a  lovely coutnry Estate just outside Bath) and so that is good.

My last thought, floor 7 where I stayed has a corridor that just screams 'the shining'...."Come and play with us. Come and play with us. Forever... and ever... and ever"

Sunday, 24 January 2010

The Ardjuna Boutique Hotel and Spa Bandung Java

Went a bit up market for a conference in January. My company EF Indonesia organised the conference in Bandung, West Java and chose the Ardjuna Hotel.
The link above is the best one to the site as the main one reports the site is under maintenance.
I dont know much about Bandung except it is built in the hills of Java, its cold at night, they sell lots of Strawberries, Brownies and is shoppers paradise. The traffic is worse in my mind than Jakarta.
Surrounding the city are lots of volcanoes active or inactive and it is about 2.5 hours by fast car from Jakarta. I also think it is one of the best train trips in the world as the route has stunning scenery.

So the hotel. It is up a long long hill and then tucked away behind some trees. It is rather unassuming and does not show any sign of the reason the rooms are so expensive. That happens when you walk inside.

Inside it is very bright and welcoming with lots of staff and pleasant smiles. On checking in there was no sign or help where the elevators were but I found them quickly.
The room I was in was a twin with a stunning view of the mountains and city and it looked great at night. However it was small and still a hotel room.

The colour theme throughout the hotel was brown and white and cream and it really worked. The bedroom had comfy beds and the ac worked well. The shower was over a bath and the water was hot and well pressured. The light in the bathroom was good.
It was very clean.

The conference rooms were huge and we were well provided for.

Dinner, Lunch and Breakfast was great. Lots of food and lots of choice. The vegetarian option was limited. But there was no limit how much you could eat.
The omelettes were not hot as they were cooked in bulk and you had to go looking for a cup of tea and the cups were very small however the service was very good.
Beer was 40,000 a glass with 10% tax and the piano bar shut at 11. It was well stocked with wine but the starting price at 1 million rupiah soon put me off. Thats silly money.

The karaoke bar next to it was occupied by a waiter and 3 hostesses that had sadly seen better days but they were cheerful enough and happy to smile if you bought them drinks. Lucky I did not do karaoke but the others I was with said that they had fun.

Getting to the city was easy although took a long time due to traffic and taking a mini bus down the hill about 1km got you atms and mini marts which was very useful.
Next door was a restaurant serving beer and western food too.

Outside was a great swimming pool although a bit too deep if you had young children but plenty of space to sit and in the evening it was rather pleasant with out the wind blowing.

My only criticism really was the fact that there was so many little steps all over the place and so you had to be very careful where you were walking otherwise you ended up tripping over them.

If I was to rate the place then I would give it 8/10. It was pricey but it was lovely.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Ibis Hotel Tamarin Jakarta

Living in Jakarta has its drawbacks, one being during new year the city fills with traffic and so you cant get anywhere and you spend your time in a car while the new year approaches. So the easiest option for me is to stay in a hotel for a night in the city and then it makes the access and speed to places far easier and faster.
I choose for the 3rd tine the Ibis Hotel in Tamarin. Now in the same street there are 2 Ibis. Why? I dont really know. The Arcadia is the other one and it is smaller and has no pool etc but is equally as comfortable.
The room rate was 600,000 rupiah for the night and this was seasonally inflated of course but still it was ok.
The hotel offers breakfast at another 60,000k and I never took that option as I had no desire to be up and alive before the check out time of 12 noon.
The rooms are small but well laid out with a nice sized double bed which is very comfy and great to sleep in. The TV has lots of channels and there is a lot of information to read.
The bathroom is compact with a big shower cubicle and a fair sized sink area which is well lit. The water was not the fastest but it was hot and the towels are big and very clean.
There is a mini bar which was empty and you are provided with a kettle and water and tea and coffee. They also put some candy in the room also.
The rooms are spotlessly clean.

I used the hotel just for its location and it was well priced amongst other hotels in the area and so did not really expect much apart from what I have already written.

I will use Ibis again as they are both simple and located in key parts of the city.