Monday, 19 December 2011

Karimunjawa - Figuring out your transportation options


So you have booked that flight ticket to Semarang, but then you have no idea of how to get to this spectacular islands. Fret not, I will be breaking down the transportation options available to you.

Semarang, Jepara, and Karimunjawa
First thing first, your starting point most likely will be Semarang, although in some cases you will have to start from Jepara. Semarang is highly accessible by air and rail. There are many daily flights from Jakarta (Lion Air, Garuda, Sriwijaya, Batavia) as well as a 4x weekly flight by Batavia Air from Singapore. Ahmad Yani Airport in Semarang also have routes to other cities, such as Surabaya, Bandung, and Denpasar (Bali). Starting 6 February 2012, Air Asia will also serve a daily flight to Semarang from Kuala Lumpur.

Semarang is also well-served by the rail network of PT Kereta Api, with daily trains from other major cities like Jakarta, Surabaya, and Bandung (see PT Kereta Api Indonesia's Website for a complete schedule)

From Semarang, there are two options going to Karimunjawa, by air and by sea. Flying is obviously the fastest and most comfortable method, but it is also priced beyond most people's reach. All flights are chartered flights, operated by Kura Kura Resort, one of the most luxurious accommodation in Karimunjawa. The flights are operated on Cessna 402B with 6-8 passenger seats and one Cessna 172 for 3. For 1 May until 31 October this year, flights are scheduled as such:

Semarang Airport        12:00     Karimunjawa Airport     13:15
Karimunjawa Airport  12:00     Semarang Airport           13:15

Kura Kura Aviation's Cessna

The 130 km or so flight takes only half an hour before you will land at the tiny airstrip in Kemujan (one of the two main islands lying side by side).  For more information on rates, schedules, etc. you can contact Kura Kura Resort, by emailing them at info [at] kurakuraresort [dot] com or calling +62 (0)24-766 325 10

Most people, however will take the ferry from either Semarang or Jepara. Take not that the ferry route is not served daily, therefore you may need to plan your trip accordingly. The weather is sometimes unpredictable, and there are limited seats on the air-conditioned VIP / Business cabins, so do call in advance to book and then call another time to confirm that the ship will depart (no high storm, bad weather etc.)

The fast ferry serves Karimunjawa from both Tanjung Emas Port in Semarang and Kartini Port in Jepara (on different days). It is called KMC (Kapal Motor Cepat) Kartini 1. The journey on KMC Kartini 1 will take approximately 3.5 hour from Semarang and 2.5 hour from Jepara.  The schedule and pricing are as follows

KMC Kartini
  • Semarang - Karimunjawa - Semarang
    Semarang - Karimunjawa: Saturday, 09.00-12.30
    Karimunjawa - Semarang: Sunday, 14:00-17.30

    Business Class: 130,000 IDR/pax (lower part of the deck)
    Executive Class: 150,000 IDR/pax (upper part of the deck)
  • Jepara - Karimunjawa - Jepara
    Jepara - Karimunjawa: Monday 10:00 - 12:30
    Karimunjawa - Jepara: Tuesday 11:00 - 13:30

    Business Class: 69,000 IDR/pax
    Executive Class: 84,000 IDR/pax

    Note: With this one, you can still return to Semarang (every second week), but the ship will transit for around one hour, arriving in Semarang at approximately 17.00. Fare for Jepara - Semarang is the same as that of Jepara - Karimunjawa
These figures and timing are provided for estimation and planning purposes only. For the latest updates and bookings, do contact Mr. Purwanto (Dinas Perhubungan Semarang) at +62-24-70400010.

The slow ferry will be useful if you want to bring your car / motorcycle, or if simply there is no fast ferry on that day. The ship KMP Muria carries all sorts of commodities, into the islands from Jepara, so you are more likely to meet locals travelling on this ship. The journey from Jepara will take about 6-7 hours. The Departure schedule are as follows:
  • Jepara – Karimunjawa
    Monday, Wednesday, Saturday 09.00
  • Karimunjawa – Jepara
    Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday 08.00
KMP Muria
Tickets are IDR 30,500/pax (Economy), IDR 60,250/pax (VIP). If you plan on bringing vehicles, tickets are IDR 27.500 for motorcycles and IDR 300,000 for cars. For further information and on KMP Muria, do contact ASDP Jepara +62-291-591048, or Mrs. Retno +62-81-22895510. For your return, you can book from the ASDP office in the centre of Karimunjawa.

Take not that for this ferry, even though the departure is stated as 9.00 am, you are advised to be at the Kartini Port much much earlier, because once the ship is loaded to capacity it may depart somewhat earlier. Be there at 7 am, or even 6 am if you could, have breakfast or chit chat, and of course claim your precious seat as soon as the ferry opens.

Public transport in Karimunjawa are almost nonexistent, so do arrange with your lodging for pickup beforehand, or be prepared to haggle hard with the local pedicab drivers or van drivers. Prices may be steep.

If you do need to travel between Semarang and Jepara, there are buses from Terminal Terboyo (eastern part of Semarang) to the bus terminal in Jepara (from 15,000 to 30,000 IDR one way). The port is a  walkable 2 km or so from the terminal, but of course you can take local transport (becak / pedicab) too. But then, why not just stay in Jepara and admire their famous wood carving

Hope this summary can help anyone wishing to come to Karimunjawa. It is a beautiful island yet to be discovered by many!

    Saturday, 17 December 2011

    Semarang promotional tourism video, Kuku Bima Ener-G - Let's Go to Semarang!


    Press CC to turn on the English subtitle (done by me :P)

    This is what a tourism video should look like. I have to admit that many promotional videos made by many Indonesian government agencies are boring and looks unprofessional. But this, is one of the better ones I have seen, notwithstanding the fact that it is a product commercial too.

    Sido Muncul, a home grown company, has helped in promoting Semarang as a travel destination. Its main product line is traditional herbal medicine (jamu). The company has grown tremendously, having started as a home grown industry in 1961. Before this video's release, this home grown company has promoted some other destinations too, like Komodo Island. I hope this can inspire governmental agencies (who can't even produce a decent tourism slogan), to buck up on their promotional efforts!

    AirAsia will soon fly to Semarang, Indonesia!


    Flight                                               ETD*    ETA*
    AK1310    Kuala Lumpur-Semarang      0720    0830
    AK1311    Semarang-Kuala Lumpur      0900    1200

    Starting: 6 February 2012

    Semarang is a name alien to many travellers. This city is admittedly not a very popular destination (yet), far off the tourist trail and even among Indonesian is better known as a business city. Nevertheless, it has many hidden charms, both in and around it. There is something on offer for everyone, from culinary, history, architecture, nature, marine, to culture.

    Semarang's Location
    It was a major port during the Dutch era, and even nowadays many cruise ships would dock at the city, although admittedly most tourists will be bused away to the more famous Borobudur Temple. It is a city often overshadowed by its more 'Javanese' neighbours, Yogyakarta and Surakarta (Solo). Historically it has been a harmonious melting pot of cultures, with a large ethnic Chinese population.

    6 February is still two months away. So, I will be writing more about places of interest in my beloved hometown and its surroundings in the next posts. Stay tuned!

    Monday, 5 December 2011

    Citilink, the Best Indonesian Budget Airline for 2011/2012


    This award is given to the leading Indonesian low budget scheduled airlines company providing air services for passenger generally with a recognized operation certificate license. Four airlines are nominated for this award, namely Citilink, Indonesia Air Asia, Sriwijaya Air, and Batavia Air. The awarding process is determined by both online votes by traveller, and an advisory board. There are also other categories, such as city hotels, hotel chains, and resorts included in the Indonesia Travel Tourism Awards 2011/2012.

    Funnily enough, last year’s winner Mandala Airlines have gone bust with debt problems after forced to temporarily stop their flights on 11 January 2011. What then makes Citilink different from its less than illustrious past winner?
    Many people outside of Indonesia may not have heard of it, but the airline certainly has a firm base. Citilink is a budget airline under a joint management with Indonesia’s flag carrier, Garuda Indonesia. This pairing is somewhat like that of Qantas and Jetstar in Australia. One caters to those flying in comfort, the other caters to people preferring no-frills for a cheaper price.

    Garuda Maintenance Facilities
    There are of course huge benefits that come with its association with Garuda. Firstly, unlike Sriwijaya Air, it is exempted from the blanket ban prohibiting Indonesian airlines from flying in EU airspace, together with Garuda, Indonesia Air Asia, and Batavia, (not to mention the now defunct Mandala). Citilink utilises Garuda’s Garuda Maintenance Facility Aero Asia (GMFAA) in Cengkareng, Jakarta, which is a top-notch facility compared to other Indonesian airlines. Unlike its counterparts, its flights do have a high chance of being on time. This is a huge bonus compared to airlines like Lion Air with its especially chronic delays in the afternoons.

    Despite those perks, tickets booked in advance much cheaper than Garuda, and like in many other Indonesian budget airlines, free baggage allowance is included (20 kg for Citilink). A selection of food and drinks may also be ordered on board, or when booking.
    My only peeve is that it does not have any routes to my hometown (yet), so I haven’t really have the chance to utilise it that much. Its flight hub was primarily in Surabaya, going to cities like Batam, Makassar, Balikpapan, etc, with some flights from Jakarta too.
    Citilink’s fleet now consists of Boeing 737 series, both Boeing 737-300 (148 seater) and Boeing 737-400 (170 seat)
    Citilink Fleet
    However, last month the Jakarta Post reports that they have ordered new A320s to prepare for the ever-increasing demand for budget airlines.

    Quoting the news:
    “By having 10 new Airbus aircraft next year and adding more flights, we are expecting 4 million passengers to fly with Citilink next year,”
    Elisa Lumbantoruan, the vice president of Citilink and executive president of finances for Garuda Indonesia told The Jakarta Post during the Indonesia Travel and Tourism Awards 2011/2012 in Taman Ismail Marzuki, Jakarta.
    "In order to take the advantage of the surging demand for budget airlines, the airline will add three more routes next year, which will link Jakarta and Yogyakarta, Jakarta and Pekanbaru and Jakarta and Palembang.”

    Current Citilink Routes

    View Citilink Routes in a larger map

    Still no flight to Semarang, but they fly to many other cities too!
    Awarding the best, inspiring the rest. Hopefully ITTA 2011/2012 can inspire other airlines to emulate Citilink’s success too.

    Sunday, 14 August 2011

    Stay tuned for stories from Europe


    Hundreds of photos to sort, hundreds of story to tell! Stay tuned for my trip report from Europe!Awesome place, really!

    Reblog - Passport by Rhenald Kasali


    This article is not written by myself. It is a translation of an article titled "Paspor", written by Rhenald Kasali, first published in the newspaper "Jawa Pos" on 8th of August 2011. Rhenald Kasali is an Indonesian academic and business practitioner and a professor (Guru Besar) of Management Science at the Faculty of Economics, Universitas Indonesia (UI). Hopefully this article could inspire myself and other people to open their eyes and see more of the world!

    Whenever I am lecturing, I always start by asking my students, how many of them have already owned a passport. Not surprisingly, only around 5% of them would raise their hand. However, when asked whether they have flown on a plane before, many more students would say yes. Almost 90% of my students have seen a cloud from the top, yet, most of our young people are only local traveler.  

    Therefore, instead of giving written assignments and papers like other lecturers, in my classes I begin by asking my students to complete the required paperwork and get a passport. Every student must have this ticket to the globalised world.

    Without a passport a man will be lonely, short-sighted, narrow, and thus will be a sterile leader. Two weeks later, the students can already be proud of themselves because of their passports. They would then ask, what is this passport for? I would say, go abroad, outside of the Malay-speaking regions, outside of Malaysia, Singapore, Timor Leste, or Brunei Darussalam. Go as far as you could, to the farthest place that you could reach.

    "What about the money for purchasing the tickets, Sir?"
    I told them I don't know.
    In life, what I know is that only foolish people would start his life mission and purpose by asking a question about money.
    And as soon as a beginner asks where the money would come from, then he would be trapped in his constraints. Almost surely, the only answer that will come out is no. No I do not have the money. No, I simply can't. No, it is impossible.

    Those questions come up not only in the minds of students, but also those lecturers who have not traveled enough. For those who have not seen the world, other countries would seem far away, expensive, luxurious, unreasonable, and simply a waste of money. Unsurprisingly, many lecturers feel apprehensive about continuing their studies overseas, therefore choosing to do so in their own alma mater.

    An open world translates to millions of opportunities to move forward and better yourselves. You can get many seemingly unimaginable things: knowledge, technology, maturity, and wisdom. Luckily enough, such doubts never cross the minds of avid travelers, one of which is the group of students often known as the backpackers. They tirelessly hunt for extra economical tickets and accommodation, sling a worn out backpack and wear a pair of flip flops. Whenever money runs out, they would go to food stalls and work as dishwashers. Their attitude in traveling actually do not differ greatly from Minang, Banjar, or Bugis teenagers who migrate to Java to try their luck despite their limited money and provisions. Many simply have not understood that going abroad is no longer as intimidating, far, and luxurious as it used to be. One student from the countryside, whom I encouraged to travel to faraway places, now travels regularly. He is now a part of PKI (Pedagang Kakilima Internasional - International Street Vendors), whose job is to collate information about large scale trade fairs organised by the government. They would then open a stall there, taking a risk, selling various handicrafts, doing some sightseeing, participating in courses, and of course earning some dollars before going back home. On his graduation, he came to me and showed his passport with immigration stamps from 35 countries. He sure knows his theories well, but more importantly he has the sharpness and confidence that allows him to sense when an opportunity comes by. When his cum-laude friends are still looking for jobs, he had become an executive in a prominent company overseas.

    The Next Convergence
    In his book, The Next Convergence, recipient of Nobel Prize in Economics writes that our world lies smack in the "third century of the Industrial Revolution". Since 1950, the average incom of people all over the world have increased twentyfold. Therefore despite the large number of poor people, it is normal for us to find a poor women with only elementary education from a village in Madura shuffling regularly between Surabaya and Hong Kong.   

    Of course, we can also find university students who are only busy protesting in the streets and never went overseas at all.
    Such a student will not know the cost of a plane ticket, let alone having a passport or going overseas. Thus, in my opinion it is essential for educators to bring their students to see the world. With just five hundred thousand rupiahs (US$ 59), Elementary School children from Pontianak can ride on a bus through the Indonesia-East Malaysia border at Entikong and enter Kuching. In this nine hours bus ride they would get a very important civics lesson, that is the decline of nationalism due to our negligence in maintaining the areas near the frontier. Shabby houses, potholed roads, small traders neglected by the local government, and inadequate infrastructure are the features of this part of the country. The very contrast of this condition exists only across the border. The eyes of children who have seen the world would be opened, and they will lead our nation with conscience in the future.

    In the University of Indonesia (UI), I made it compulsory for every student to have a passport and see at least one other country.
    I used to be their 'shepherd' and guide myself. We travelled through Chiang Mai and witness how the poor in Thailand and Vietnam struggles again the waves of globalisation. Later on, I changed my mind. When will they have the courage and initiative, if the lecturer oversees them all the time?
    Thus the students embarked on a journey full of uncertainties. When Indonesian students are afraid of not being able to speak English, those from Korea and Japan, with much more complicated writing systems and indecipherable pronunciation have explored the world fearlessly.

    Amazingly enough, 99% of those students with a passport finally managesto go overseas. Again, do not ask how they get the money. The students save money and search for cheap guesthouses They and racked their brain in order to get a ticket, even contacting sponsors and asking for donations when necessary. Of course when they are almost there, his lecturer would then chip in with some too.

    Now, even students with seemingly unsophisticated (ndeso) faces have one or two overseas immigration stamps on their passport. Are their parents so rich that they can buy the tickets for their children? Of course not. In UI, some of our students' parents are civil servants (PNS), or even farmers and fishermen. Nevertheless, they do not want to lose out to less educated Indonesian migrant workers (TKW), many of whom are now fluent in foreign languages.

    Those sent overseas on their own have also heighten their innovativeness and level of initiative. Their confidence were boosted. As soon as they came home, they bring a wealth of experience, stories, and pictures which shapes their vision.

    I think it will be good if educators highly encouraged the students under them to own a passport. It is a ticket to see the world. From a passport, a muslim boarding school student (santri) from East Java becomes a businessman overseas. In Italy I met Dewi Francesca, a Balinese women who owns a stunningly beautiful cafe in Rocca di Papa. Because of that very passport, Yohanes Surya also obtained a scholarship to study in the United States.
    Come on, do not let people like Gayus Tambunan or Nazaruddin, who only have their state-funded passport to themselves, beat you.

    *Written by Rhenald Kasali
      Guru Besar Universitas Indonesia

    I found this great article thanks to a few great blogs, namely Catatan Fauzan and a journo

    Wednesday, 10 August 2011

    Nazaruddin in Cartagena, Colombia


    Yesterday, Indonesian media outlets were buzzing about the arrest of Muhammad Nazaruddin in Colombia. The fugitive is the former treasurer of Indonesia's ruling Democratic Party, led by current president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. He was named a suspect by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) for his role in a graft case related to construction of venues for the coming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Palembang, South Sumatra.

    The Fake Passport (photo: Jakarta Globe)
    The wanted man then fled to Singapore in May, just one day before he was to be banned from travelling. Later he traveled to Vietnam, Cambodia, Spain and then to the Dominican Republic before going to Colombia on July 24, where he was caught by Interpol. He was holding on to a fake passport going by the name of Muhammad Syarifuddin, who allegedly is his cousin.

    There are many stories surrounding the politics behind, but what caught my attention was the city where he was arrested. Yes, Cartagena, Colombia, some 19000 kilometers across the Pacific from. The bizarre thing is that very few countries outside of ASEAN will allow visa-free entry for Indonesians like me. Often, the thumbprint of the person will be scanned again to ensure a match with the data they have from the passport, making unlawful entry using fake travel documents more difficult.

    I did some googling out of curiousity, and it turns out that Indonesians can enter Colombia visa-free for 90 days! This is what I read from the Colombian embassy's website. A few neighbouring countries in Latin America (Peru, Chile) apparently also give this privilege to Indonesians. So, entry to Colombia will not be that problematic, even for a fugitive like Nazaruddin.

    To be honest, I did not really expect those countries to accord such a privilege to my country. En route to Europe, I can't even exit the Dubai airport because I need a visa, while my buddies from Singapore could have the liberty to explore. Maybe I should dig up more and find out countries where I can just hop on a plane and visit.

    Granted, Colombia is more famous for its drug lords and conflicts rather than tourism, but it will still be an interesting place to visit one day. Peru have more well-known attraction in their pre-Columbian cultural sites, as well as places like Macchu Picchu and the Nazca Lines. Latin America is definitely a place I would love to visit one day. For now, the travelling stays in my head, but hopefully I will make the journey someday!!

    Monday, 8 August 2011

    Where have I been?


    This handy map shows cities that I have visited. So, seven countries in the twenty years that I have lived. Not a very impressive number, but I am happy with it. I am considered very lucky by Indonesian standard, having traveled overseas before finishing elementary school. Still, I wish I could have traveled more on my own. Well, I am still young and have many years ahead! I do have to start saving now though.

    I often do 'imaginary travel' on my own to places I have never been to. Nevertheless, nothing beats the real thing, the people I meet, the scenery I see, the whole experience of seeing other parts of the world.

    My personal goal is to set foot on all the continents by the time I turn 25. Why not? I have two up my sleeves already and still have five years to go. Wish me luck, peeps!