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.

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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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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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Food, People, Travel

Beautiful Minangkabau

Traveling to Sumatra was something I had been really looking forward to. I think for those who never been to Sumatra, visiting Bukittinggi (in West Sumatra) should be on your list. I went with a group of five friends from Jakarta. It was just a four day visit but truly a nice journey. As I love spicy food I was so looking forward to tasting the real flavours of Padang food such as beef rendang (beef curry) and Satay Padang.  I knew it would not be too different from the taste if bought in Jakarta, but I wanted to taste the real thing. We were so lucky that one of our friends in the group is from Bukittinggi.  She guided us to some great places. Particularly when visiting new places I find it a true pleasure to explore the place and do unique things. Beside tasting the food, visiting a traditional market was a must for me, and my thanks to Rino who took me around the market. In fact there were so many kind of products sold there I even managed to get a photograph of a dried eel – Rino also told me how to cook them to make crunchy and spicy. Sounds delicious !

Our journey begin as soon as we arrived at Padang airport. Our tour guide drove us straight to Bukittinggi.  It took three hours. We finally made it to our first stop the Lembah Anai (Anai waterfall).  It was OK – nothing really special though.  I don’t know why this place is so popular with tourists. We did not stay there too long.

We visited Pusat Dokumentasi and Informasi Kebudayaan Minangkabau (Centre for Documentation and Cultural information of Minangkabau). That was quite interesting too. It is a stunning building the shape of rumah gadang (sharp peaks at both ends of the roof).  The inside is more like a library with open space and so many old black and white photographs displayed everywhere. After we listened to a short history of the Rumah Gadang the guide took us to a dressing room – this was the fun part. We had the opportunity to wear a beautiful Minang bridal costume, including the tall head ornaments.  The guide told us the ornament we had on were only imitations and that the originals that were worn by the bride in a Minang wedding weighed an additional five kg.  Wow! Anyway I can tell you we had so much fun in dressing room – six little girls playing dress up!

The Hills hotel (www.thehillsbukittinggi.com; Jl. Laras Dt Bandaro, Bukittingi, Sumatera Barat 26115, Indonesia
+62 752 35000) that we stayed at during in Bukittinggi is just walking distance to the famous Bukittinggi icon Jam Gadang and Pasar atas (a traditional market located upstair where they sell handcrafts and fabrics and a market below where they sell fresh veggies and fruits). Jam Gadang in the evening looked more charming than during the day. They have a night market every Saturday and that gave the place a more “happening” feeling with locals around  as it is likely the products they sell are only for local consume not for tourist.

The last day of our trip we went to Lembah Harau (Harau Valley) and Danau Maninjau (Lake Maninjau) before heading back to Padang.  However, for me the highlight of this trip was when we visited Istana Baso Pagaruyung (Pagaruyung Palace) that was beyond my expectation. It’s real beautiful. Pagaruyung Palace is the istana of the former Pagaruyung Kingdom, located in Tanjung Emas subdistrict near Batusangkar town, Tanah Datar Regency, West Sumatra, Indonesia. The exterior and interior palace are stunning and well kept. Never seen anything like it before. The inside palace is exeptionally well maintained. I loved those colours and the sparkly fabric in every piece of  drapery. This palace used to lived in by a king and queen with their big family (the history of this palace please check Istana Baso Pagaruyung).

Lembah Anai (Anai Waterfall)

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Pusat Dokumentasi dan Informasi Kebudayaan Minangkabau (Centre for Documentation and Cultural information of Minangkabau) in Padang Panjang.

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Istana Baso Pagaruyung (Pagaruyung Palace, West Sumatra)

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Jam Gadang at night, Bukittinggi West Sumatra
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Food, People, Personal, Travel

Bali … Again.

It is a while since these photographs were taken. But I have had no time to write. Fortunately, my passion for photography never fails me – i just need to find time to record my thoughts. I take photographs every single day wether with my camera or my iPhone. I do enjoy capturing small things that catch my attention. I like the phrase by Bill Bryson;  “To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.”  It’s so true. Although we visit here relatively often,  every visit reveals  something different and we always look forward to returning for that reason.

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People, Personal, Travel

Friendship reunion

My friend and her daughter decided to spend two weeks in Indonesia during the winter break in Australia.  So we planned to have a mother & daughters getaway. Since this was her first visit to Indonesia and there was only limited time we decided to explore places that did not require long travel times.  We visited both Yogyakarta and Bali.

My return to the Borobudur temple was not only to show my guests this wonderful site but also to introduce my daughter to the magnificent structures that form the world’s largest Buddhist temple –  one of the masterpieces among the Wonders of the World.  Part of my goal was that this trip would expose Camille to more of her Indonesia culture and heritage knowledge (half of her life has been spent overseas).  When we reached the temple it brought back memories of my first trip there when I was only fourteen. I went with my family plus my eyang kakung (grand father).  He told me the story behind the temples construction. It was amazing story, that i know have shared with my daughter.

Another highlight from this trip was an outdoor buffet dinner facing the magnificent Prambanan temples and watching a Ramayana dance performance. The dancers were in beautiful traditional costumes, and the story was easy to follow – an exquisite performance. Highly recommended. During our last day in Yogya our driver took us around Jalan Prawiro Taman, the area where the palace is located. We saw many VW cars decorated with colourful neon lights – quite a surprise.  It was the first time I had ever seen anything like that there. I never knew that so much was happening in Yogya nowadays. After Yogyakarta we flew to Bali and stayed a few days in a villa in Seminyak. Bali was our last destination before heading back to Jakarta, so we would just stretched out a bit and relaxed. My friend joined yoga class every morning while I swam and enjoyed the start of my lazy day with a breakfast prepared by the vila staff – what a delight!.

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Food, People, Personal, Special Events

Cooking Class

SieMatic collaborated with Petty Elliott to present an interactive cooking class recently. Petty demonstrated how to make a simple yet healthy meal quickly. The recipes were from her cook book (salad, main course and dessert all wonderfully presented). Here’s the menu; Beetroot Carpaccio with Griddled Chicken and Feta Cheese salad; for the main course, Tagliatelle with Padang Pesto and pan fried Barramundi, this is Italian twisted with Indonesian style pesto “sambal hijau”  (green chillies) and; a dessert of Strawberry Semifreddo. All delicious and surprisingly easy to make.  My favourite was the dessert, it was delicious. I really enjoyed it.  Here is a little  story about Petty Elliott: she’s an Indonesian who found her passion in cooking and has spent years in the UK where she participated in the BBC’s Master Chef competition in 2001. She recently published her first book, “Papaya Flower”, on Manadonese Cuisine and is a contributor to Miele Guide, a restaurant guide for Asia and to the Now Jakarta magazine.

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People, Personal, Travel

Da Nang, Vietnam

Da Nang is a medium sized city with a beautiful white sand beach. It took only 1 hour to fly from Hanoi to Da Nang. Da Nang is a completely different from both  Hanoi and Ho chi Min. The city is more laid back, less traffic and more compact.  We stayed in Hyatt Regency Da Nang Spa and Resort for a few days. It is a brand new hotel – I was told by the staff there that it had been operating for less than 3 years. The room we had was so furnished in a minimalist way but it was simply gorgeous. We had a sea view room, so every morning when the sunrise hit the balcony it was really beautiful. As Da Nang was our final destination we decided to just relax at the hotel. But I did spend one day trip with a personal tour guide visiting Hoi An, the ancient town, and My’son (read-Mei Shen) Sanctuary, located 70km south west of Da Nang. My’son sanctuary was an imperial city during the Cham dynasty, between 4th and 12th centuries. the day trip around Hoi An was really facsinating (so many things to see), but I do think Hoi An at night is definitely a must-do thing. The town is transformed and comes alive.  All the shops and restaurants and the night market are illuminated by vendors selling beautiful handcrafted lanterns. Here are the photographs from Da Nang!   We definitely will return.

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People, Personal, Travel

So long … Ha Long!

The trip to Ha Long Bay in Vietnam was unforgetable. We really had a great time from the day we arrived until the end of our tour. We stayed a few days on a boat with only 21 cabins, the Pelican. The boat’s staff provided us with breakfast, lunch and dinner. They also had scheduled activities for us day and night. During the day we kayaked (not me, but my husband and daughter did), rode bikes, swam in the sea, and visited small islands. In the evening we had cooking classes while enjoying cocktails.   The views were absolutely stunning. Words can not describe how beautiful it was. For me the highlight of the trip was a day tour to a small island where we cycled through many small villages and met the local communities.

At the cooking classes they taught us how to make Vietnam dishes and it seemed that everybody participated –  except me, as  I was too busy with my camera. I must admit this holiday was quite different from our usual vacation and certainly something that we will not forget.  In fact, no TV and no internet on the boat for few days was a blessing, even our teenage daughter, who really depends on the internet, appreciated that.  So long, Ha Long!   Until next time.

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