Travel

The beauty that never last

It’s  sunday morning as usual do what I like. Whether being productive like go to the gym or shopping with my daughter. Sometimes I just do nothing but eat, sleep or have massage at home. Today why not give more attention to my blog, since it has been neglecting for years. Yes, blame my laziness !

Throwback a family visit to England few years ago. One crisp winter morning we took a stroll to the Abbey. This is Kirkstall Abbey in Leeds was built in 1152  as a great example of medieval cistercian in Britain. This was not my first Abbey visit, but it brings back my memory with my first visit to Whitby Abbey in Yorkshire many years ago. The construction of the building always impress me. That old stone that shows the age of the building. I like the smell of it. It so well maintain and a truly priceless treasure. No surprise when summer this place always crowded with families picnic and of course, weddings photo shoot. Who doesn’t like this place ? It’s free entrance, no food vendor around and you can use the facility like those benches for picnic. I guess is not only kids playground, this could be photographer playground too. I can not imagine if we have place like this in Jakarta, it must have been being commercial.

The morning walk with the family was truly enjoyable. Our stroll ended at the coffee shop nearby for having cup of english breakfast tea, scone and jam. It was perfect ending and I could not asked for more. Come back here, I feels like falling in love over and over again.

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Glamour, People

Benang Id new collections

Ah, finally I have finished the photoshoot on time. For the  second time I collaborated with my daughter for Benang.id new collections. I must say work with my daughter as a model not as easy as you could imagine. She can be so pain in the ass sometimes. Since she knows that I am the photographer and mostly we do our shoot at the studio at home. So you could imagine she must be thinking that we are more having fun than working. Well, actually to be honest we did. I found so difficult sometimes to convinces her that this is my work. However I still expect her to be acting as a professional model. Whatever it is , once you set the commitment whether you only do it for fun or commercial you have to show that you are taking the job seriously. I totally understand if she keeps reminding me that the modelling is not her path that she wants to do for her future. Although with her natural talent in front of camera I wish she will realised that she capable to start modelling anytime this age. But seem modelling is not her interest at all. She rather picks soccer, rugby or painting for her passion. I am, my self can not pursue her happiness but she can. She seem already knows what she wants. At the moment her priority still studying to become a journalist, plays soccer with friends or sometimes does some painting at her own sanctuary (her room). Some of her dramatic painting is now hung in my studio and my parents house.

Here are the shots that we did it together as model and photographer. As you see here we actually a solid team work. Didn’t see you that?  Yes finally the shoot is over. Phew … did you know during this photo shoot she was busy munching some donuts that my clients had brought 🙂

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Food, People, Personal, Travel

Visited Amber

Another uniquely-themed restaurant has just opened in South of Jakarta. Amber is located at No. 61 Jalan Senopati Raya and has a different atmosphere that many other restaurants in that area.  Now that there area so many restaurants in town competition is getting serious. Restauranteurs have to be creative and innovative, as people coming to restaurants look for both great food and a good atmosphere.  And, with Jakarta’s traffic many people would rather spend time in a nice restaurant rather than face heavy traffic going home in rush hours.

Jo (from ajourneybespoke; http://www.ajourneybespoke.com) and I became curious when we saw the lovely facade of the building, so we popped in for a lunch at Amber. As soon as we opened the door a friendly staff member greeted us and asked whether we would like to go for a main course or only dessert. The first floor turned out to be their desert lounge – definitely heaven for those with a sweet tooth. The lounge is designed in a french style with elegant and softly coloured furniture. There are so many varieties of beautiful cakes, truffles and macaroons, and specialty teas too.  A perfect place for afternoon tea with your girl-friends. The second floor is called the library room.  The books on the shelves, wooden floors and comfy chairs really make this place look and feel like a small library.  Although the books were acquired for display, I’m sure no one would mind if you wanted to read or look through one.  I recall a restaurant in Sydney I visited that had a library – there you could read and purchase what was displayed.  The third floor is a music lounge – actually located on the roof – but I think that it is only open at night, perhaps because during the day it would be too hot up there.  But definitely a great place for a private party.

After we finished lunch we went downstairs for dessert. Actually we could have asked the staff to bring up our dessert but we preferred to go down and experience sitting at the dessert lounge. It had a very different atmosphere to the library.  We chose to have macaroons; cream cheese (blue) and curry (brown). Curry macaroon may not sound too tempting, especially for those not too keen on curry – but you really must try one. The exotic flavour (masala) will give a little bit of kick to your tongue but I’m sure you’ll find this macaroon rather special and just as unique as Amber itself.

© Nita Strudwick Photography© Nita Strudwick Photography© Nita Strudwick Photography© Nita Strudwick Photography

© Nita Strudwick Photography © Nita Strudwick Photography © Nita Strudwick Photography © Nita Strudwick Photography © Nita Strudwick Photography © Nita Strudwick Photography © Nita Strudwick PhotographyIMG_0472 © Nita Strudwick Photography © Nita Strudwick Photography © Nita Strudwick Photography © Nita Strudwick Photography © Nita Strudwick Photography © Nita Strudwick Photography © Nita Strudwick PhotographyOne of the restaurant in Sydney that have library concept

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People, Personal, Travel

Back to Bali

Whether we are away for a few days, a few weeks or a few months, at the end of a holiday we often feel that it just was not long enough. It’s true that time passes so quickly when you are having fun. I thought that with a week off and nothing to do but relax, I would have more than enough time to write for my blog.  In fact, the days passed before I had even started one story!  But don’t get me wrong, of course it was a blessing to have quality time with my family and to be able to discover some new places.  Here are some places that contributed to us having such a full holiday.

The Villa Prana in Seminyak is simply beautiful. Open space, a beautiful garden and the minimalist design of this place made it seem like a hidden treasure. Although the villas are new, they are in kept in excellent condition and the grounds are very well maintained. I strongly recommend this place to those who want to stay in Seminyak area. It’s in a good location being within walking distance to the better boutiques and restaurants. The friendly staff and the excellent service made our stay so enjoyable. The Prana Spa is really something that you must experience when you stay – as a villa guest we received a 50% discount.  I spent my “me time” having a great three hour treatment. It was one of the best spa sessions I have ever had, and it only cost $56. The Balinese lady who attended to me, Ibu Sudiani, is excellent therapist.   If you like yoga, they offers a yoga package too.

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Karma Kandara beach. Located in Uluwatu area, this place is only a 45 minute drive from Seminyak. The view from the cliff top there is stunning – quite breathtaking.  You can enjoy this beautiful panoramic view while having lunch at the Al Mare restaurant. If you would like to go to the beach there is a charge of roughly $25  (two hundreds and fifty thousand rupiah) but that includes umbrella rental, use of beach towels and a substantial part-payment for your meal. The prices at the beach side restaurant are reasonable. 

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Another heat place for lunch was Sisterfield in Seminyak. I really loved the simplicity of this place and the food is great.  Friends had recommended Sisterfield for breakfast or brunch. The service is very good and the staff are well-trained, friendly and knowledgeable. Definitely this place became an immediate family favourite eating place.© Nita Strudwick Photography © Nita Strudwick Photography © Nita Strudwick Photography

I found the Feather and Find Boutique quite accidentally. The boutique is actually located next to Sisterfield. It is owned by a Swiss lady who has been living in Bali for many years. I liked everything in this shop, especially the dress collection as all were elegantly simple and well made. The collectable trinkets there are all one-of-a-kind.

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Uncategorized

New coffee shop in Jakarta

Good news for coffee drinkers: perhaps this place should be one of your new destinations. Trafique opened eight months ago and is located in an unusual place (and by that I mean that it is not in a mall or shopping area). It is in fact located at Jalan Hang Tuah Raya, a plain white building and has no sign, only a yellow door – that convinced me that perhaps this place could be quite special. The interior is unique. Its simple, clean and very tastefully decorated. It’s open plan approach is complemented by a high ceiling that adds charm and elegance. I just fell in love right away – and that was before I tried the coffee. I found myself contemplating what I would do if this place were mine: would I make the coffee counter as my open kitchen so that I can entertain my guests while cooking. Cool, I thought – well, places like this always fill me with ideas.

It has really surprised me that there are now so many coffee shops around Jakarta. They are no longer just a meeting place or a place to do a little work on your laptop. The coffee shop has become part of the Jakarta lifestyle for many. No doubt this must be part of the stimulation for coffee shop owners to create a unique places like this one to attract new customers. And, so many offer barista classes or classes to educate coffee enthusiasts: so you not only drink your coffee but know something about what you are drinking!

As most people know, coffee beans of different types and from different places have very different flavours. From one coffee vendor I learnt how to recognise good quality coffee by its taste and that the darker coffee bean does not guarantee quality or taste. I am not a coffee person, I only drink it occasionally, but my husband is. He prefers to buy beans and to grind them himself each time he wants coffee. I do, however, love the smell of fresh made coffee as it is poured into a cup. Sensational. My first experience with Gayo Coffee in Pasar Santa is one reason I would like to know more about coffee. I am learning to like creamy coffee but am steering away from coffee that is too bitter. Gayo Coffee is becoming my favourite.

If you are curious about the Trafique coffee shop, check this out.

© Nita Strudwick Photography© Nita Strudwick Photography© Nita Strudwick Photography © Nita Strudwick Photography © Nita Strudwick Photography © Nita Strudwick Photography © Nita Strudwick Photography © Nita Strudwick Photography © Nita Strudwick Photography© Nita Strudwick PhotographyTrafique Coffee Shop

Jl Hang Tuah Raya No. 9, Kebayoran Baru

Jakarta Selatan

Special Events, Travel

Visited Chinatown, Jakarta

I hope it is not too late to wish Gong Xi Fa Cha for those who celebrate Chinese New year. Some weeks ago, when friends from a journey bespoke (www.ajourneybespoke.com), Liz and Jo asked for some ideas to visit a “pasar” (traditional market) for their blog, I suggested a visit to Chinatown in Glodok, West Jakarta. Particularly as the coming week was when the Chinese there were busy preparing for the New Year. I guess it is not only my western friends who wonder what things were sold for the “preparations” beside vegetables and fruits, I too wanted to know what the atmosphere would be in Glodok. I had imagined that the pasar would be dominated by all things red. The traffic en route was OK, although it still took over an hour from Kuningan, South Jakarta to Pancoran, Glodok, West Jakarta. The place exactly as I had imagined. Red lanterns were hung everywhere, and they looked beautiful. Many vendors were selling red ornaments for house decorations.

Here’s the story of the red colour and Lunar New Year. According to tales and legends, the beginning of the Chinese New Year started with a mythical beast called the Nian. Nian would come on the first day of New Year to eat livestock, crops, and even villagers, especially children. To protect themselves, the villagers would put food in front of their doors at the beginning of every year. It was believed that after the Nian ate the food they prepared, it wouldn’t attack any more people. One day a villager decided to take revenge on the Nian.  A god visited him and told him to put red paper on his house and to place firecrackers everywhere. The villagers then learnt that the Nian was afraid of the colour red. When the New Year was about to arrive, the villagers would hang red lanterns and red spring scrolls on windows and doors. They also used firecrackers to frighten away the Nian.   From then on, Nian never came to the village again.

Isn’t that interesting story? I truly enjoyed my first visit to Chinatown in Jakarta with my friends. We were delighted to see what was happening before the Lunar New Year. We were like bunch of kids in a candy store. We discovered so many thing that we had never seen before. What a trip we had.  As usual, I am sharing the photographs I took during my visit.

Gong Xi Fa Cha!!!

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Commercial, Food

Casadina Kitchen and Bakery

Finding a nice place to relax with a good coffee and croissant during the weekend is not always that easy.  But recently I found a great spot: Casadina Kitchen and Bakery.  It’s located in the Kuningan area, South Jakarta. I really love the simplicity and casual air of the place. Seems that the owner, who’s also a chef, knows how to make a place just as comfortable for a family hangout as it is for anyone who wants to relax alone. Whether you go for brunch, coffee, dinner or an afternoon tea (and I have been there for all those reasons!) I think this place should be on your list of options.
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Personal, Travel

Amsterdam in our mind

Happy New Year 2015!

So many unforgetable moments in 2014.  And, we had also so many special events to celebrate in Decembers including fifteen years of marriage and our daughter’s fourteen birthday.  So why not celebrate those events and go to a place we had never been to?  We choose to visit Amsterdam before flying on to the UK to spend Christmas with family. When we arrived at Schiphol airport at 6.30 in the morning it was dark, wet and cold. It brought back the memories of my first winter in US (quite some years ago).  A truly nice feeling, though. We stayed at Ambassade hotel which is located in Herengracht and has a stunning view of one of Amsterdam’s canals.  In 2010 the canals joined UNESCO’s world heritage listing. The hotel is located at the city centre and is walking distance to many museums, restaurants and shopping areas. I think the Ambassade hotel was the perfect hotel for us as we were doing what most tourist do: walking and sightseeing.  Visits to the Anne Frank and Van Gogh museums were on our “must do” list for the trip. To me, both were really worth a visit as each was truly captivating. During a wet day we took a canal tour around the city. It was a great week and although it was winter Amsterdam still looked charming and stunning. I’d love to come back and exploring the city some more. My little wish for this year is that three of us will be able to continue to travel and to see how beautiful the world is.

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People, Personal, Travel

From up there

After a few days traveling around Sri Lanka by car between Colombo and Trincomallee in the North East, it was time to take a different way back to Colombo.  We flew back  with Sri Lankan air taxi. The small seaplane was like a giant dragonfly. It only accommodated seven passengers  and a pilot and co-pilot. It took an hour and a half to fly from Batticlao to Colombo. The view from above was simply gorgeous. I was speechless. Truly, this flying experience gave us such an unforgettable experience. I found it very funny during our departure to see that while we were waiting for the plane to arrive many local people gathered to watch us, we even had kids waving at us as if we were a movie stars!

The last hotel we stayed at in Colombo, the Wallawwa boutique hotel, is a charming hotel. The simplicity and natural touches in the interior made the place so welcoming and cozy. The Z Spa is a must to try after a long day trip. I felt so energised after my spa experience. The food and the service at this hotel were really fantastic.  Very highly recommended.   There is no doubt,  we will come back and stay at this hotel again.

Last but not least, we have to commend RedDot Tours.  They did such an amazing job.  Our vacation arrangements were excellent: great hotels, excellent driver, comfortable minivan and everything ran so smoothly. They really made everything so much easy as it was so well organised. Well done RedDot.

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Personal, Travel

The colours of Sri Lanka

These are my favourite photographs from our trip to Sri Lanka. The private walking tour we took in Colombo introduced us to some highlights from a local’s perspective. With a knowledgeable private guide we learned about the city’s architectural history. The company offered half-day or full-day tours, each going at your preferred pace. Although we could not avoid a little hectic traffic, especially on the way to the market, we saw so many interesting things and got to feel the city’s dynamic pulse. I personally like to visit locals’ preferred shops when I travel and I like to know what things are usually sold in local markets. Its always fun to watch the activity in the markets. The colours and the textures of the vegetables and fruits are not just great to photograph but getting to know them adds to my knowledge about the varieties of the local foods available  Visiting Colombo’s historical building was really interesting too, especially the old Grand Oriental hotel building that has been open since World War II and is still quite well maintained.  I never thought that taking a walking tour could be such a great way to get to know so much about a city.

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The view of Colombo harbour© Nita Strudwick Photography © Nita Strudwick Photography© Nita Strudwick Photography © Nita Strudwick Photography © Nita Strudwick Photography© Nita Strudwick Photography © Nita Strudwick Photography © Nita Strudwick Photography © Nita Strudwick Photography © Nita Strudwick Photography © Nita Strudwick Photography © Nita Strudwick Photography© Nita Strudwick Photography © Nita Strudwick Photography© Nita Strudwick Photography © Nita Strudwick Photography © Nita Strudwick Photography