Journey to The Heart of Asia – GETTING THE VISA

I’ve got Afghan visa! Hooray! The Second Secretary of The Afghanistan Embassy, Mr. Abdul Ghafar Jamshidy, handed it over to me this morning. He was nice and asked me few questions (“Why do you want to go to Afghanistan? Why are you going solo?”). Later he gave me a phone number, his brother in Herat, told me to call whenever arrive at the city. After his description of winter in Afghanistan, snow might reach 1 meter high then roads might get blocked, seems like I will have to take flight between cities instead of landtrip as I planned.

The Afghan visa was expensive, USD 100 (I had to pay IDR 932,500 including “biaya materai” charged by the bank), compared to Indian/Iranian visa. Anyway I’m so happy, my dream to travel within SAARC will soon come true. Well, Iran (in Central Asia) is not member of SAARC but I’m dying to see this land of Persian too.

http://www.saarctourism.org/

“Established on December 8, 1985, South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (popularly known as SAARC) is a unique concept, a combined vision of eight different countries for the welfare of the people and for peace, stability and progress of the region by fostering mutual understanding, meaningful cooperation and good neighborly relations. Originally, the SAARC countries list included Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The eighth SAARC country to be included in the list was Afghanistan.”

I bought my tickets in October 2011 (Jakarta-KL-Delhi return trip by Air Asia, one way basic fare was less than USD 90), then my first step was getting Indian visa. Actually it’s visa on arrival for Indonesian, but VOA would be only valid for one entry every two months. I planned to enter India at least twice within less than a month, so I had to apply for multiple entry visa. Beside, I read somewhere that VOA would take 3 hours to process at arrival gate before can leave the airport, not sure I can afford to lose that much time considering every minute will be precious for me.

I applied for my visa to The India Embassy (on Jalan Rasuna Said, across Erasmus Huis of The Netherlands Embassy) at end of October 2011. There was always long queue there, many people from various nationalities were applying for tourist/business visa, not only Indonesian. At the receiving counter, I told the visa processing officer (a nice Indian lady) that I needed multiple entry visa for 6 months. I gave her my itinerary (showing my plan to travel around some other countries around India), explained the reason why I couldn’t use VOA facility. She read it a while then assigned me to get interviewed by The First Secretary of The India Embassy, Mr. Anand Basera.

Mr. Basera got interested when reading my itinerary, asked why I had such “bravery” (or “craziness”?) to travel to Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan. I had nice chat with him, he shared some experiences, glad that later he approved my double entry visa. At the end, he made me promise to take lots of pictures, write lots of journals, to be shared with him after finish my trip.

Sadly, when I got back to the visa processing counter, the lady would give only 2 months of visa validity (for first-timer to India like me). Meant, if I got it on that end of October, then my visa would be expired at end of December before my travel date. I didn’t want it at that time, so I took back my passport, re-applied on December 5 and got my visa on December 7 (actually only one working day but it was day off on December 6). Fee = IDR 492,000 to be paid at the embassy.

On the next week, I submitted my forms etc to The Iran Embassy (Jalan HOS Cokroaminoto) on December 12, 2011, but the consul was taking holiday and not in office for few weeks later. So, my application wasn’t being processed until last week, finally it’s finished on Thursday. Fee = EUR 30 to be paid to a BRI bank account. A bit strange that I never met any Iranian whenever I come to the embassy (the only officer was Mr. Abdullah, a very kind Indonesian). Not much people come there to get visa, each visit I met only one or two Indonesians.

On Friday morning – January 6, 2012, I took my passport back with attached beautiful exotic Iranian visa (I really love to see my name written in Arabic on it), then walked few meters away to The Afghanistan Embassy at Jalan Muchtar Kusumaatmadja.

First, I met the security guards. They wouldn’t let me in so I had to wait until an embassy officer come out and talked to me.

The gentleman, Mr. Saif, asked me why I wanted to visit Afghanistan. I told him (and shown my Iranian/Indian visa) that I planned to travel to Iran, last city in that country will be Mashhad which is only 6 hours by bus to Afghan city Herat, then why would I miss the chance to see his beautiful country?

Mr. Saif suggested me to get Afghan visa later from their embassy in India or Iran, instead of getting it from Jakarta. It’s a strange suggestion, I wondered why, later got the answer after the security guard told me that I was first Indonesian female who ever asked for tourist visa to Afghanistan by myself (was it true?). Usually only men on work/business purpose who wanted it, and applications were handled by company/agent instead of applying by themselves.

I told Mr. Saif that I really need the visa from Jakarta because I won’t have much travel time, no plan stay longer than one day in each cities of India and Iran (hopefully not), then I can’t spare time for visa application processes that might take hours at Afghanistan Embassy in Delhi or Tehran.

He asked for invitation letter, I said that I don’t have any (“Nobody invited me to Afghanistan, it’s my own intention to come there.”). I only had reference letter from my employer stating my job position and purpose/date of visit, also salary slip and copy of bank saving book as proof that I have sufficient fund to support myself during the trip. Mr. Saif smiled again (damn, so cute, I almost fallen in love!), took the reference letter but hadn’t interest to see my salary or saved money.

I also told Mr. Saif that I planned to take landtrip from Iran to Afghanistan to Pakistan, then no airplane ticket from/to his country. I will stay at my friend’s house in Herat and Kabul, then no hotel booking.

He gave me a form to be filled (similar to the one that can be downloaded from http://www.mfa.gov.af/), then finally let me enter the embassy (the whole previous conversation happened outside the gate, on the roadside).

Oh my God, there was a space for “address during stay in Afghanistan”, that made me panic because I hadn’t any at the time. Hurriedly I called my friend, an Afghan who’s married with Indonesian lady – he previously lived in Indonesia but currently in Australia (since 2008). I couldn’t get what he said (hard to capture the Afghan city’s name clearly), then I gave my phone to Mr. Saif, he helped me to write down “Kare Parwan” on the form. I didn’t have to write anybody’s name or phone number on the form, just those two words.

And that’s all, he gave me a payment guide, I paid it at the Permata bank and got my visa on this Monday – January 9, 2012 (actually could get it on next workday but Saturdays and Sundays are weekends in Indonesia). This easy process was surprising because seems like the country is still in war, perhaps a bit “dangerous” (some bad stories lately on http://www.tolonews.com/), so their government must had great concern for Indonesian solo female traveler like me. Well, probably those few visa stamps/stickers on my passport were good as proof that I’m not really beginner on traveling and they shouldn’t have anything to be worried about.

My current itinerary:
January 20, 2012 = Jakarta-KL-Delhi by Air Asia
January 21, 2012 = Agra, day trip to Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Fatekhpur Sikri, then overnight bus to Jaipur
January 22, 2012 = Jaipur day tour
January 23, 2012 = Jaipur-Sharjah-Shiraz by Air Arabia

I’m not sure yet after Shiraz (which is famous with Persepolis, Naghsh e Radjab, Naghsh e Rostam, Passargad etc). I want to go to Isfahan (Naghsh e Jahan and beautiful bridges/mosques/cathedrals), Kashan (stop at Abyaneh village on the way), Qom (the largest center for Shia scholarship in the world), Tehran…then I don’t have fixed plan yet. I might take overnight train to Mashhad (to see the holiest city for Shia) then landtrip on next day to Herat (“The Pearl of Khorasan”)…or fly directly to Mazar e Sharif (then landtrip via the famous Salang Pass and Bamiyan, stay overnight around the stunning lakes of Band e Amir)…or fly directly to Kabul? One thing for sure, I have to get back to Delhi on Friday (February 3, 2012) to enjoy the city and catch my flight back to Jakarta on Sunday night (February 5, 2012).

Flight available from Iran to Afghanistan:
– Every Sunday, from Tehran to Mazar e Sharif or Kabul (KAM Air, 12:45 PM)
– Every Tuesday, from Mashhad to Mazar e Sharif or Kabul (KAM Air, 11:15 AM)
– Every Friday, from Tehran to Mazar e Sharif or Kabul (Ariana Afghan, 1:00 PM)

Landtrip from Mashhad (Iran) to Herat (Afghanistan):

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/afghanistan/transport/getting-there-away

Direct buses run daily from Mashhad to Herat (IRR 70,000 – seven hours), which is slightly cheaper than travelling piecemeal.

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?threadID=1626956

The road from Mashhad to Herat is safe and easy. I did it with my family (2 kids) two weeks ago. You take a taxi from Mashhad to the border for USD 40 (2.5 hours) cross the border by foot and another taxi to Herat, USD 40-50 (1.5 hours).

http://www.virtualtourist.com/travel/Asia/Afghanistan/Transportation-Afghanistan-TG-C-1.html

The only way to travel from Iran to Afghanistan is through Taybad from Iran to Herat at Afghanistan. From Iran, direct bus from Mashhad leaves at 7:30AM daily. Get the ticket a day earlier, there is only one company operating the route, the counter is at salon 1, counter 4. The journey from Mashhad to Taybad takes 3-5 hours, and it will be around 4-5PM when one finally reaches Herat.

*SIGH*

So much nice places to visit, so many things to do (ski at Dizin, watch zurkane traditional sport etc), so many nice friends and families to stay with (I plan to use CouchSurfing instead of staying in hotels) but I have only 18 days to get best of this region (without quit my job then lose income for future trip)… :((

I’d love to go to Pakistan too, but seems like I won’t have time. It might be too tired for me, I won’t be able to enjoy my trip as much as I want, then I’ve deleted this country out from my current itinerary (and save it for future trip in year 2013, insya Allah).

Just 10 days to go! I’m so excited.

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Visit Australia for Indonesian Dummy

Catatan Persiapan Perjalanan

1. TRANSPORTASI

Tiket saya harganya USD 784.49 = IDR 6,692,484 (Senin – 30 Mei 2011) melalui website Garuda Indonesia. Tiket saya beli 5 bulan sebelum berangkat karena bulan September khan best time to visit Australia (musim semi, sudah lewat musim dingin yang mungkin agak menyebalkan dan cuaca agak hangat tapi tidak seterik musim panas), istilahnya “high season” sehingga kemungkinan harga tiket agak mahal dibandingkan bulan-bulan lain kalau belinya tidak jauh-jauh hari.

Sesudah saya cek, harga segitu lebih murah daripada tiket multiple city, misalnya Jakarta-Sydney lalu pulangnya Melbourne-Jakarta. Hari Senin – 13 Juni 2011, saya lihat return tickets untuk Jakarta-Sydney masih bisa pada rate USD 786.34 (IDR 6,708,266). Anehnya seminggu kemudian (Selasa – 21 Juni 2011), harganya turun jadi USD 785.41 lho…

Namun atas saran beberapa teman, akhirnya saya re-route tiket tersebut. Perginya Jakarta-Melbourne, pulangnya Sydney-Jakarta, dengan menambah USD 76 untuk biaya perubahan tersebut beserta re-issue charge. Total biaya tiket menjadi  USD 860.49, tetap lebih murah dari one way tickets untuk Jakarta-Melbourne (USD 481.03) + Sydney-Jakarta (USD 771.17)

Jakarta to Melbourne Tullamarine, terminal 2
Friday, September 16, 2011
Departure: 22:10
Arrival: 07:25 +1 day(s)
Duration: 6:15

Kingsford Smith, terminal 1 – Sydney to Jakarta
Sunday, September 25, 2011
Departure: 11:15
Arrival: 15:55
Duration: 7:40

Sebenarnya kalau mau ngeteng, Jakarta-Perth dengan Jetstar tanggal segitu bisa USD 179 aja (sekali jalan). Nah Perth-Sydney AUD 119 (AUD lebih tinggi sedikit dari USD). Tapi sayang ongkos baliknya dari Sydney paling murah AUD 472.03 belum termasuk bagasi. Anyway silahkan cek lagi ke website Air Asia, Jetstar, Tiger Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, dll untuk membanding-bandingkan lebih lanjut.

Karena ini perjalanan panjang (dan waktunya terhitung singkat, hanya 9 hari 8 malam), maka saya memilih Garuda yang pesawatnya relatif nyaman, banyak makanan, dan ada jatah bagasi 20 kg (tidak seperti budget airlines yang only hand baggage – maksimal 7 kg atau 10 kg saja dan selebihnya mesti bayar lagi). Khan pulangnya mesti bawa oleh-oleh beberapa lusin boneka kanguru, hehehehe…

Catatan:
– Juni, Juli, Agustus = musim dingin (winter)
– September, Oktober, November = musim semi (spring)
– Desember, Januari, Februari = musim panas (summer)
– Maret, April, Mei = musim gugur (autumn)

2. ITINERARY

DAY ONE – Saturday (September 17, 2011)
7:15 AM = arrive at Tullamarine
9:00 AM = immigration and baggage clearance
10:00 AM = check in at YHA Melbourne Central
11:00 AM = go to Queen Victoria Market, get train from Flinders Station to Brighton Beach and/or Kilda Beach, Luna Park
7:00 PM = night at Dockland

DAY TWO – Sunday (September 18, 2011)
6:00 AM = depart to Arthur’s Seat
3:00 PM = go to Phillip Island for penguin parade

DAY THREE – Monday (September 19, 2011)
8:00 AM = South Yarra Bank, Alexander Park, Albert Park, Wowo Swanson St, King St, Bourke St (Chinatown)
6:50 PM = depart from Tullamarine to Sydney

DAY FOUR – Tuesday (September 20, 2011)
Circular Quay, Darling Harbour, Hyde Park, Paddy’s Market, Chinatown

DAY FIVE – Wednesday (September 21, 2011)
Bondi Beach, Power House Museum, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Manly Island

DAY SIX – Thursday (September 22, 2011)
Canberra (return trips by Murray’s bus)

DAY SEVEN/EIGHT – Friday/Saturday (September 23/24, 2011)
Sydney Tower, cathedrals and masjid (gotta see shalat Jum’at), then go to Blue Mountain
http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/pauldwade/oz2004/1112582640/tpod.html

DAY NINE – Sunday (September 25, 2011)
11:15 AM depart from Kingsford Airport

3. PENGURUSAN VISA

Paspor saya biasa saja kok, belum ada visa US atau Jepang atau Europe yang konon susah banget dapatnya. Tapi ya memang tidak blank banget sih…

Langkah pertama adalah download formulir dari website http://www.indonesia.embassy.gov.au/jakt/Checklist_Visitor.html. Sebaiknya diisi dengan mengetik langsung pada pdf itu (bukan di-print lalu tulis tangan) supaya rapi. Ditulis tangan pun tidak apa-apa juga kok, soalnya pas di visa application center juga tersedia blank form yang bisa diisi on-the-spot. Tapi tulisan tangan saya jelek sih, mendingan ngetik deh.

Sepertinya (mungkin, barangkali, kira-kira, saya juga nggak tahu persis) Kedubes Australia butuh diyakinkan bahwa kita beneran cuma turis yang akan stay beberapa waktu (menambah devisa negara mereka) bukan bakalan cari kerja trus tinggal di sana lalu ingin jadi permanent resident. Untuk itu, siapkan aja surat keterangan kerja dari HRD perusahaan.

Lalu slip gaji bisa berguna juga tuh sebagai lampiran, menunjukkan bahwa kita memang berpenghasilan tetap. Makanya butuh fotokopi rekening tabungan tempat menerima gaji, sebagai bukti bahwa secara keuangan kita punya arus keluar-masuk yang lancar. Khan ada tuh yang “rekening terima gaji” beda dengan “rekening duit buat ditabung”. Kalau begitu, serahkan aja fotokopi kedua bukunya.

Saya terima gaji via rekening BCA, nah selama 3 bulan terakhir selalu saya usahakan agar ada saldo sekitar 5 jutaan rupiah (sampai ngutang sana sini deh, hehehehe…). Beneran cuma segitu (belum sepenuhnya financially recovered dari perjalanan-perjalanan sebelumnya), sekedar supaya orang kedutaan bisa lihat berapa yang saya terima dan berapa yang dikeluarkan selama 3 bulan itu. Arus keluar masuk (cash flow) yang diperhatikan, kayaknya. Pokoknya asal kelihatan arus masuknya lancar dan kira-kira berpenghasilan cukup untuk membiayai hidup sendiri selama di sana.

Visa Australia ternyata cepat juga dapetnya. Formulir dan kelengkapannya saya masukkan ke VFS di Plaza ABDA (di Sudirman, seberang Pintu Satu Senayan) di hari Senin pagi, hari Jumat siang udah dapet visanya. Tarif AUD 105 (IDR 970,000 – disesuaikan dengan kurs setiap 6 bulan) plus biaya logistik IDR 160,000. Bisa dibayar dengan kartu kredit, tapi waktu itu sedang ada masalah jaringan sehingga harus dibayar tunai.

VFS adalah agen yang jasanya dipakai banyak kedubes negara-negara asing di Indonesia untuk menangani penerimaan aplikasi visa. Status aplikasi visa kita bisa di-track di http://www.vfs-au-id.com atau membayar sedikit biaya tambahan jika ingin dikabari melalui e-mail dan SMS.

Waktu itu, yang saya serahkan hanya:
– paspor asli
– biaya pengurusan IDR 1,130,000
– formulir yang udah diisi dan ditanda-tangani
– surat referensi perusahaan dan slip gaji asli
– fotokopi KTP, KK, rekening tabungan
– pasfoto 4×6 cm (latar belakang bebas)

Siap-siap aja kalau ditanya itinerary. Supaya aman sih enaknya lampirkan juga print-out mengenai “mau ke mana, tanggal berapa” (waktu itu sih saya nggak lampirkan apa-apa, wong masih blank banget mengenai apa di mana yang menarik di Australia).

Petugasnya bertanya, “Udah beli tiket? Ada bukti reservasi hotel?” (saya jawab: “Rencananya beli tiket kalau udah dapet visa, Mbak. Kalau booking hotel mah nggak ada juga, karena rencananya akan nginep di rumah temen aja.”)

Oya, di formulir itu juga ada isian “Do you have any relatives in Australia?” (saya contreng “No”) dan “Do you have any friends or contact in Australia?” (saya contreng “Yes” dan mengisi kolom “Give details” berikutnya, tapi nggak diverifikasi deh kayaknya).

Katanya sih bisa minta visa untuk multiple entry yang berlaku selama setahun. Saya hanya dapet yang single entry (maksimal tinggal di sana selama sebulan) dan berlaku 6 bulan, ya cukuplah untuk perjalanan kali ini dan cukup sekali seumur hidup ajalah ke Australia (mahal khaaan…hiks hiks hiks…).

4. CONTOH SURAT REFERENSI PERUSAHAAN

To:
The Embassy of Australia
Jl. H.R. Rasuna Said Kav. C15-16
Kuningan, Jakarta Selatan 12940

Ref: Application for Visa

Dear Sir/Madam,

This is to certify that ….. (passport # …..) is employed by ….. since ……. until now as a ………

S/he will be traveling to Melbourne  and Sydney  for a vacation from ………. until …….. All expenses will be borne by him/her.

This reference letter issued for visa application purpose.

Yours faithfully,

Human Resources

5. TANGGAPAN YANG MASUK (SETELAH SEDIKIT EDITING) DI MILIS INDOBACKPACKER

Dari Sari:

Hai Desi,

Kalau boleh saran sih, mending pas hari kedua disempatkan dari Circulay Quay ke Manly Island jadi nggak buang-buang waktu. Pas di Sydney coba liat Chinese Park deh, bagus juga untuk diintip.

Sayang kalau Ke Melbourne hanya dua hari aja. Cuma ke Dockland? Coba ke Victoria Market, wisata kuliner di Carlton area dll. Kalau bisa menambah hari sih mending ke Great Ocean Road.

Biaya hidup di Melbourne dan Sydney nggak mahal kok, beda tipis kalau dibandingkan dengan harga makanan di mall di Jakarta. Kalau dibandingkan dengan di Papua sini, malah mahalan Papua… :-(

Kalau beli souvenir yang murah di Manly ada tuh yang serba AUD 1, murah kan? Cuma IDR 9 ribuan hehehe…tapi jangan bilang-bilang orang yang dikasih oleh-oleh ya. Kalau di Melbourne, di Burke Street (pecinan) ada yang serba AUD 2.

Sebenarnya ada hostel yang lebih murah hanya cuma AUD 22 per malam/bed, cuma dapat sarapan roti, WiFi bayar AUD 1. Aku waktu di Sydney, stay di hostel kawasan xxx di Kingcross.

Eh lupa, kalau spring ke Taselaar (daerah Dandenong) ada festival tulip.

Dari Icha:

Kalau berangkat September, nggak ada masalah dengan cuaca. Sydney OK juga untuk dikunjungi. Terutama daerah Darling Harbour, wajib carter kapal (berbagai macam dan berbagai harga). Tapi, dari semua kota di Aussie, yang aku paling suka adalah Melbourne. This beautiful city wajib dikunjungi karena kota ini keren banget.

Banyak banget yang bisa dilihat di Melbourne dan kota-kota lainnya di Victoria, seperti Geelong, Mornington, dll. Kamu bisa nikmati free perfomance di Fed Square di depan Flinders Station (ini jadi ikon Melbourne) sampai dengan Philip Island (ini jauh, empat jam dari Melbourne) tempat bisa lihat penguin. Tapi, emang butuh waktu banyak. Jadi, kalau kurang dari seminggu, cukup di kota Melbourne saja. Pantai-pantai di kota bisa dijangkau by tram, bus, and train.

Rekomendasi: Dari Flinders Station bisa ke Brighton Beach dan St Kilda Beach menggunakan bis atau tram (kurang dari setengah jam). Kedua pantai ini populer banget karena dekat dengan city.

Dari Flinders juga kamu bisa ke Luna Park dekat dengan St Kilda. Tapi, karena di Melbourne semuanya enak dilliat, diam di city aja, kamu udah bisa relax lihat beautiful South Yarra Bank and also if you go further can reach Alexander Park and Albert Park (tempat F1 itu lho).

Kalau mau shopping, Wowo Swantson St, King St, Bourke St, dll cuma beberapa langkah dari Flinders Station. Kotanya enak dan ramah bagi pejalan kaki. Oh….I miss Melbourne a lot..my fave city in the world…

Soal trip ke Dockland and Dandenong, kedua tempat itu menarik juga. Yang satu itu bekas pelabuhan bongkar muat barang, sekarang di sana ada  mall keren dan juga perumahan dengan nuansa Dockland masa lampau. Kata temen aku yang orang Aussie, Dockland itu dulu kumuh banget, sekarang aja jadi tempat elit.

Mengenai Dandenong, tempat ini menarik banget. Bisa naik kereta api satu kali dari Flinders bayar sekitar AUD 11 sekali jalan (untuk 2 jam trip). Karena nggak mungkin dua jam, jadi harus beli return ticket juga. Bener di Dandenong ada festival bunga tulip. Emang di sana banyak taman, awesome.

Yang juga menarik, di kota ini banyak orang Aussie keturunan Afrika. Makanya jangan kaget kalau lihat orang Somalia, Ghana, dll. Kotanya nggak terlalu spektakuler, mall nya kecil, tapi view di sini keren apalagi kalau sempat hiking ke Gunung Dandenong atau tracking ke hutan-hutannya. Btw, asal tahu aja, Melbournian Julian Assange pernah tinggal di salah satu hutan di Dandenong he he he…..

Sebenernya kalo aku masih ada cuti, pengen banget ke Melbourne lagi. Tapi kemarin sudah ke China, Bangkok, and Vietnam, so mungkin tahun depan….:)

Dijamin trip ke Melbourne bakal menyenangkan dan akan terus ingin kembali ke sana. Kalau lagi winter seperti sekarang akan perlu bawa baju extra. Tapi don’t worry, winter di Melbourne nggak sedashyat di Europe. Kalau siang sekitar 10-15 derajat celcius, tapi kadang di bawah itu juga, terutama kalau malam. Aku pernah mengalami itu, makanya ketika winter tiba aku pasang heater deh di kost-an.

Have a safe and nice trip:)

Dari Ari:

Sydney itu sejatinya nggak punya pantai yg bagus. Bondi beach itu pantai buatan, pasirnya didatangkan dari Brisbane.  Kalau cari pantai sih, IMHO, di Indonesia saja :D kebanyakan tuh tujuan pantai di Sydney yang diambil dalam itinerary nya.

IMHO ya…Circular Quay, The Rocks, The Opera House, Botanical Garden bisa dibabat seharian dari pagi (motret) sampai malam (socialita).

Bondi Beach dan Darling Harbour bisa di hari lainnya. Bondi mah ala Bali banget, sementara Darling Harbour masih ada benteng di tengah pulau yg ada jembatannya dari pantai ke pulau. Kalau nggak hobi fotografi atau nggak pengen loncat dari jembatan langsung ke air, kayaknya rada garing sih dolan ke sana. Apalagi sendiri, hihihi…

Mendingan perbanyak jalan ke obyek museum dan memotret banyak-banyak arsitektur gothic nya. Dari The Rock sampai Museum NSW nya bisa sekalian jalan kok.

Blue Mountain malah mendingan dua hari. Ambil jalur trakking dan kemah di sana, naik turun sampai ke lembah dan naik sampai ke The Three Sisters, pasti jadi pengalaman tak terlupakan (daripada hanya datang a la turis lihat dari atas dan naik cab doang).

Setuju juga untuk ke Melbourne lebih lama, dulunya kota terbesar di Australia sampai di awal abad 20 sebelum mulai bergeser ke Sydney.  Ide bagus juga beli tiket bus keliling kota (tiket bisa beli di rata rata grocery store dekat halte) atau beli tiket terusan, keliling kota naik bus ke mana-mana.

Dari Edith:

Halo Desi, boleh koreksi dikit jadwalmu?

– Day 1: Arrival 9:00 AM (pesawat Jum’at jam 11 malam dari Jakarta)

– Day 2: Sunrise at Bondi Beach (kalau bisa bangun pagi), lalu ke Circular Quay. Dari Circular Quay, ke kanan menuju ke The Opera House, ke kiri menuju The Rocks. Biasanya saya membawa tour, semuanya bisa sehari termasuk Taronga Zoo. Kalau mau ikut Opera Tour, tempatnya meeting point nya di basement ujung. Kalau tak salah bayar AUD 20.

– Day 3: Botanical Garden and Manly Island (pantai Manly tempatnya asyik, naik ferry dr Circular Quay).

– Day 4: Museums and cathedrals, Hyde Park, Sydney Tower ( saya tak begitu suka Sydney Tower, sekali cukup. Kalau lainnya boleh bolak-balik :~D). Cathedral yang dimana? Yang St Piter dekat dengan Queen Victoria Building, down town.

– Day 5: Darling Harbor and aquarium/wildlife world. Di sini ada Japanese Garden dan museum kapal. Keluar via Japanese Garden menuju China Town dan Paddys Market buat beli souvenir murmer. Jangan lupa makan AJISEN RAMEN di China Town…hmm yummy…

– Day 6 and 7: Melbourne (Arthur’s seat dan Dockland sepertinya menarik dilihat mumpung di Australia)

– Day 8, Blue Mountain. Check dulu di Central Station sehari sebelumnya mengenai pukul berapa train ke Katomba yang paling pagi. Lama perjalanan 2 jam. Pulangnya jangan sampai ketinggalan kereta. Keluar stasion Katomba, sebelah kanan di travel agent ada yg jual tiket bus double dekker menuju Jenolan Cave, Three Sister dan Scenic train, Bush Walking. Satu tiket bisa buat ke mana aja, naik turun. Dingin lho di sana.

– Day 9: Departure from Sydney 11:15 AM

Saya biasanya suka menginap di Central Sydney YHA, sebelah Central train station. YHA ini deket banget dengan Paddys Market, China Town, Darling Harbour, jalan kaki cuma 3 menit. Di George St banyak makanan enak dan murah. Naik bus ke Circular Quay juga banyak dari sana. Bersih dan ada kitchennya, jadi bisa masak sendiri. Check aja di web nya. Saya sudah lebih dr 20 x menginap disini.

Kalau di Melbourne, saya menginap di Melbourne Metro YHA. Bisa jalan kaki bisa ke Queen Victoria Market. Bisa tanya-tanya ke Front Office nya yg helpful banget dan ada peta gratis. Naik train bisa gratis (saya suka nggak bayar) ke down town. Berhenti aja di depan Central Train Station nya Melbourne, trus ganti naik tram yang gratis muter-muter down town, Melbourne Museum, dan museum-museum lainnya. Asyik lah…

Dari Novi:

Hi Desi,

Salam kenal.. aku Novi!

Tanggal 17 September 2011, sekitar sejam setelah kamu, saya juga touch down di Sydney dan tinggal selama dua hari sebelum melanjutkan ke arah utara (Brisbane, Cairns, Great barrier Reefs). Maunya sih nonton film lagi di IMAX Sydney.

Untuk referensi kamu supaya jalan-jalannya maksimal (kalau kamu tidak punya teman di Australia yg ngajak jalan-jalan naik mobil),  Day 1 s/d Day 5 dalam itinerary kamu sebenarnya bisa dihabiskan dalam waktu tiga hari saja. Naik “hop on/hop off” bus tour di Sydney bisa menikmati semua tempat itu: Bondi, Circular Quay, The Rocks, Darling Harbour (yang satu tempat dgn wildlife dan aquarium), IMAX (patut dicoba nonton 3D pada the biggest 3D screen in the world!).

Banyak tempat yang dilewati rute bus ini. Tiketnya murah cuma sekitar AUD 50 utk 48 jam dan kamu nggak pusing cari transportasi. Beli tiketnya di departure point aja sama petugas di bus, langsung by cash or credit cards. Kalau beli tiket bus yang 24 jam harganya AUD 40.

http://www.viator.com/showDetail.jspa?code=5010SYDNEY&productId=1016&id=1010&productType=SIC&SSAID=174974&aid=132440

If I were you, aku akan naik bus dari Sydney ke Gold Coast dan Brisbane (12 jam nonstop melewati beberapa small towns) and experience the most beautiful country side of Australia!  Perjalanan 9 hari di Australia itu terlalu mewah banget kalau cuma habis di Sydney… ;-)

Mengenai itinerary di Sydney, saranku:

Day 1

Arrive at Sydney, check in hostel trus bisa langsung ke Darling harbour sambil santai-santai di sini. Lunch trus ke Aquarium, Wildlife, dan nonton IMAX bisa dihabiskan karena di satu area square. Kalau keburu, bisa naik bus tour dari sini kok ke tempat lain seperti The Opera House yang memang best pada saat sunset time to dark. Atau ke The Opera House di hari Minggu sore (kalau nggak sempat di hari Sabtu) karena ada lighting show sekitar pukul 6 atau 7 petang di sana.

Bisa juga pukul 14.00 hop on bus dari Darling Harbour. Stop di katedral, museum dll end up di The Opera House. Trust me, suasana di The Opera House kalau sunset dan malam hari lebih spectacular dan banyak entertaintment di sana (Circular Quay).

Day 2

Habiskan sisa bus tur!

Ke Bondi Beach pas tengah hari bolong aja karena tidak ada orang atau pemandangan yang bisa dilihat di Bondi kalau pagi-pagi. Cowok-cowok telanjang dada baru menampakkan diri pas siang waktu matahari terik. Bondi beach sucks except pemandangan cowok/cewek muda sexy!

After Bondi, langsung ke Manly. Ada bus yg menuju Manly Wharf, tapi nggak ada transport menuju ke bukit (tempat menikmati pemandangan kota Sydney dari bukit). Bisa sampai Sydney lagi at late night nih kamu, karena nggak dekat lho Manly! Lebih menarik kalau naik ferry dari Circular Quay sampai Manly Wharf, ongkosnya sekitar AUD 8.

Day 3

Blue Mountain (full-day trip).

Day 4

Land trip ke Canberra.

Day 5

Enjoy Canberra.

Day 6

Land trip ke Melbourne.

Day 7 & Day 8

Enjoy Melbourne.

Day 9

Return to Jakarta.

So, better kamu fly out dari Melbourne daripada harus kembali ke Sydney. Kalau bisa fly out dari Brisbane, akan lebih menarik lagi jalan-jalan kamu di Australia. Queensland is better than NSW :-)

Pilihan kota lain buat kamu cuma:
1. Sydney –> Canberra –> Melbourne, total +/- 900 km
2. Sydney –> Gold Coast –> Brisbane, total +/- 980 km

Lebih banyak things to see and do di Gold Coast dan Brisbane. Bisa ke Steve Irwin Zoo, main-main sama koala dan kangaroo, juga spectacular beaches dan fun world.

Tiket kamu itu JKT-SYD-JKT ya? Tadi kalau nggak salah kamu bilang kalo re-route Garuda bayar USD 76, benar gitu? Lebih baik dibayar aja supaya bisa pulang via Melbourne atau Brisbane, jadi lebih mudah dan murah.

Have fun di Australia!

Novi

Going to The East Asia

It’s visa on arrival for Indonesian like me to enter Hong Kong (and Macau), but getting Chinese visa is not hard either.

Application should be submitted to Chinese Visa Application Service Center (CVASC) at Unit 6, 2nd Floor East Building, JL. Lingkar Mega Kuningan Blok E3.2 Kav 1, Jakarta 12950, Indonesia. Tel: +62-21-57938655. Fax: +62-21-57938659.  E-mail: jakartacentre@visaforchina.org. Website: http://www.visaforchina.org/JKT_EN/.

Office Hours: Application Time = 09:00-15:00 (Monday to Friday), Pick-Up Time =  09:00-16:00 (Monday to Friday).

On Monday morning (December 13, 2010), I went there, filled the form (if applicants haven’t got downloaded it then can ask from the officer at front desk), attached my pics (one piece, 4×6 cm), then I got my Chinese visa on Thursday morning (December 16, 2010). No interview, the officer didn’t ask me any documents (such as hotel booking or return tickets like normally required). Fee = IDR 540,000 to be paid cash at CVASC.