Self-Arranged Trip to China: Some tips before you go

Preambule

Dua bulan lalu gue pergi ke China tanpa ikut tur, cuma berdua sama kakak. Awalnya sempet takut juga sih karena kata orang-orang, susah banget pergi sendiri ke China. Tulisannya cang cing cong ga jelas, makanannya haram, informasi ga lengkap, dll. Well, personally, dari semua negara yang udah gue kunjungin, China memang salah satu negara yang paling susah buat ‘ditaklukkan’ 😀 but seriously, bisa banget kok survive di sana. Yaa walaupun mungkin gak segampang Jepang tapi sebanding lah, kalo udah berhasil travelling sendiri ke China pasti jadi pede untuk jalan-jalan ke negara lain, hehehe.

Berikut beberapa tips yang gue pelajarin dari trip kemaren, siapa tau berguna buat yang mau travelling ke China 😉

1. Mau ngunjungin China bagian mana?

China bagian mana
Bell Tower di Xi’an

Ini penting banget karena China itu LUAS yah bok! Gak mungkin lo dapet semuanya dalam sekali trip. For first timer sih gue sarankan untuk mengikuti rute gue: Xi’an –> Beijing –> Shanghai –> Hangzhou. Ini kota-kota yang “China banget”, dapet wisata sejarah+budaya, wisata alam, dan wisata metropolitan, so I highly recommend it. Gue cukup puas 10 hari muterin 4 kota itu, walaupun jadwalnya agak padat karena pengen dapet semua places of interest 😛

Kota lain yang suka jadi tujuan biasanya Chengdu, Zhangjiajie, Guilin, Huangshan, Yunnan, Harbin, dan Tibet. Tapi ribet ngurus visa nya kalo Tibet.

2. Bikin visa China

Bikin visa China cukup gampang, bisa datang sendiri dan pesen Single Entry – Regular Application dengan biaya Rp 540.000 dan selesai sekitar 4-5 hari kerja. Persyaratannya monggo di-Google 😛 yang paling penting adalah:

  • Itinerary (tanggal berapa kemana) harus dilampirkan
  • Tiket pesawat udah dibeli dan PDFnya diprint
  • Hotel udah dipesen, bukti reservasinya lampirin

Karena gue males ngurus bolak-balik Jakarta, akhirnya pake biro jasa. Worth it sih, gue bayar Rp 575.000 aja per visa di Dwidaya Tour Bandung. Selesainya sekitar 1 minggu.

Oiya visa China itu cuma buat Mainland China. Jadi lo gak bisa pake visa ini untuk ke Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, dan Tibet.

3. Hotel atau Hostel?

Gue pribadi lebih nyaranin tinggal di Hostel daripada Hotel. Kenapa? Simply karena orang China jarang banget bisa bahasa Inggris! Bahkan gue pernah baca suatu blog yang orangnya nginep di well-known chain hotel dan susah berkomunikasi sama resepsionisnya. Hostel di China biasanya memang lebih banyak dihuni sama foreigners, jadi resepsionisnya rata-rata anak muda yang bisa ngomong Inggris.

Dari review-review, kebanyakan hostel disini agak jorok, jadi gue kemaren takut nginep di Dorm Room. But the private rooms juga gak mahal kok, walaupun out of a backpacker’s budget. Bagi 2 sama kakak, total pengeluaran gue untuk akomodasi nyaman selama 10 hari cuma 1.5 juta 😛

Hostel
Private Room di Han Tang Inn, Xi’an

Hostel di China harganya berubah-ubah tergantung musim. Di peak season (April – Oktober), harganya bisa 2x lipat dari low season!

Semua hostel yang gue tempatin kemaren recommended (horeee!). Bersih, lokasinya sentral, <500 meter dari subway/halte bus, deket sama convenience store.

  • Xi’an: Han Tang Inn Hostel –> favorit banget! Baca aja review TripAdvisornya
  • Beijing: 161 Hotel –> ini bukan hostel sih sebenernya tapi entah kenapa masuk listing di situs pencarian hostel. Di sebelah hotel ada restoran halal lho.
  • Shanghai: Mingtown Nanjing Road Youth Hostel
  • Hangzhou: awalnya di West Lake Youth Hostel, tapi ternyata dia sudah tutup padahal lokasinya bagus banget deket Leifeng Pagoda 😦 akhirnya ke Mingtown Hangzhou International Youth Hostel
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West Lake di Hangzhou

4. Transportasi

Kalo di Xi’an, cari hostel deket Bell Tower. Sumpah lo tinggal jalan kaki aja ke hampir semua major attraction. Cape sih, tapi biar kurus dan sehat 😛 dan ada naik bus dikit paling ke beberapa tempat. Di Beijing, sebisa mungkin cari yang deket Subway dan cari yang gampang transfer ke Line 1. Banyak naik bus juga. Di Shanghai, carilah yang dekat Nanjing Road/The Bund, itu tinggal jalan banget kemana-mana. Naah kalo di Hangzhou ini agak tricky. Berhubung major attractionnya adalah West Lake dan danau itu jauh dari pusat kota plus GEDE BANGET TOLOOONG, option yang paling memungkinkan adalah sepeda dan jalan kaki sampe gempor (hiks). Tunggu cerita gue tentang masing-masing kota ini di postingan2 selanjutnya! 😀

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My twin brother and I at Terracotta Warrior

Transportasi di dalam kota

Ketika naik Subway, pastikan keluar dari Exit yang tepat supaya gak muter-muter. Bisa pake petunjuk Google Maps atau liat jalan yang deket tujuan kita di neon board.

Subway di China sangat ketat pengamanannya, selalu ada security scanner kayak di airport. Tapi bawa koper besar masih bisa kok, apalagi kalo tampang kita innocent, ga bakal ribet ditanya-tanya. Hehe. 😀

Transportation 1
Kakak gue di dalam Subway Beijing

Untuk naik bus, tunggu di bus station terdekat dan cari nomor bus yang dituju di papan. Kalo ada bus datang, liat neon sign di depan, ada nomor busnya (misalnya 602). Biasanya gue cari dulu di Google Maps, hitung perhentian kita ada di perhentian ke berapa, lalu hitung sendiri waktu di dalem bus. Soalnya semua tulisannya ga bisa gue baca, dan loudspeaker nya juga bahasa Mandarin. Di tempat-tempat populer, kadang ada beberapa bus stop. Selalu cek nomor bus terlebih dahulu di papan petunjuk.

Transportasi antar kota

Dari satu kota ke kota lain, bisa naik pesawat (maskapai lokal) atau kereta. Surprisingly, harganya kadang gak jauh beda lho. Sama-sama mahal. Hiks :(.

Jenis-jenis kereta dan kelasnya bisa diliat di sini.

Stasiun kereta di China ini gedeee banget kayak airport. Security systemnya juga kayak airport, jadi gue sangat menyarankan untuk datang ke stasiun 2 jam sebelum keberangkatan. Karena banyak banget pemeriksaannya.

Transportation 3
Stasiun kereta di Beijing yang gedenya kayak airport

Untuk menghemat biaya akomodasi, gue pake Soft Sleeper dari Xi’an –> Beijing dan Beijing –> Shanghai. Dari Xi’an itu gue dapet kereta T (kelas bisnis kali ya kalo di kita), jadi kasurnya agak keras. Kalo dari Beijing gue dapet kereta D, kasurnya empuk, lebih lebar dikit dan selimutnya fluffy~

5. Outfit + Cuaca

Jadi ternyata saudara-saudara, AccuWeather di hp itu tidak akurat! 😦 Gue pergi ke China akhir Maret. Waktu di Indonesia, si AccuWeather bilang Xi’an siang-siang 21 derajat Celcius. Ih gile kayak Bandung jaman baheula kan. Ternyata oh ternyata pas nyampe China, suhunya sekitar 12 derajat plus angin-angin setan yang bikin kakak gue langsung pilek 😦 untungnya pengalaman gue dengan winter mengatakan bahwa lebih baik overdressed daripada kedinginan, jadi gue udah bawa winter coat dan banyak sweater, which helped a lot! Selama masih winter/spring juga sering hujan, jadi bawalah payung.

Outfit 1
Kalo di selatan (Shanghai / Hangzhou) lebih anget, pake jaket juga cukup

Gue sarankan liat AccuWeather dari PC biar lebih detail, bisa juga liat ini. Buat cewek, bisa liat ini dan ini untuk referensi outfit.

Outfit 2
Kalo di utara (Xi’an, Beijing) lebih dingin, ini gue pake winter coat pun masih dingin :’)

Pakailah sepatu dan baju yang nyaman. Trust me, it works. Karena……… (jreeeng)

6. Nyusun itinerary

Taman, istana, temple, museum, dan hampir semua tourist spot lainnya di China adalah SANGAT LUAAAASSSS. Capek, capek banget sumpah ngejalanin semuanya tuh bagaikan menjalani kehidupan ini *tsah. No kidding. Orang China ini setiap Dinasti nya pengen bikin bangunan yang remarkable, jadilah semua dibangun dengan megah.

Itinerary 1
Temple of Heaven – Beijing. Untuk mencapai tempat ini tuh harus ngelewatin taman gede dan jalan jauuuh….

Untuk muterin 1 tempat aja perlu waktu tidak kurang dari 2 jam, jadi buatlah itinerary dengan mempertimbangkan semua ini. Belom lagi kalo ribet cari pintu keluar, salah keluar subway, nyasar, dan udah keburu gelap jadi takut mau ngeeksplor. Huft.

7. Makanan

This is it! *nyam nyam*

Menurut gue, regardless of Muslim atau nggak, cari makan di China itu gak susah kok. Di Xi’an, salah satu top attractionnya adalah Muslim Quarter yang deket sama Drum Tower. Sepanjang jalan ini, semua makanannya halal. Beijing juga banyak makanan halal (ditandai dengan papan restoran yang warna ijo tua atau ada tulisan Arab nya).

Food 2
Mie super asin di Muslim Quarter -__-

Tapiii kalo di Selatan (Shanghai dan Hangzhou), memang agak susah cari restoran halal. The best I could do adalah makan KFC/McDonalds/Yoshinoya, dan beli makanan pak yang dipanasin di microwave di convenience store (setelah dengan susah payah nanya pake isyarat tangan sama kasirnya apakah ini daging babi atau bukan….).

Food 3
KFC di Nanjing Road, Shanghai. Jangan ngarepin ada menu nasi ya, hahaha

Dimsum udah hampir bisa dipastikan isinya daging babi, kecuali mungkin mantau yang manis dan ga ada isinya. Kalo typical Chinese food, kayak semacam sapi/ayam lada hitam, gue sih gak saklek ya, asal bukan babi gue makan-makan aja. Entah bumbunya atau minyaknya pake yang haram atau nggak 😦 Alternatif lain adalah pesen menu vegetarian, biasanya sih aman, tapi jarang ada option ini.

Food 1
Sharing Chinese food sama strangers di Xi’an

8. Komunikasi

Poin terakhir dan yang paling penting adalah komunikasi. It didn’t help that my brother and I looked A LOT like Chinese, jadi diajak ngomong Mandarin mulu, malah ditanya alamat di Shanghai dan diminta KTP China sama security di Xi’an 😦

Orang China itu jarang banget yang bisa bahasa Inggris. And I have to add, mereka tidak terlalu ramah. Bukan tipe yang bisa diminta fotoin di spot lucu, dan jalannya terlalu cepet untuk dihentikan dan ditanya arah.

Kalau lo cuma bisa ngomong Xie xie doang kayak gue, life will be tough. It will. Tapi bisa disiasati dengan cara:

  • Selalu bawa tulisan alamat hostel dalam bahasa Mandarin. You’ll never know kalo tetiba nyasar dan harus nanya arah pulang.
  • Siapkan tulisan “Ayam”, “Sapi”, “Babi”, “Udang”, “Cumi”, kalo nyari makan dan ragu itu babi atau bukan, tanya pake bahasa isyarat sambil nunjuk tulisan.
  • Likewise, tulisan “Bus stop” dan “Subway” juga penting.
  • Last but not least, inilah kertas ajaib penyelamat semesta alam:
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Kertas ajaib! 😀

Internet Censorship

Ini poin super duper penting yang sering terlupakan. China mensensor hampir semua kebutuhan internet kita… yang without it we cannot live *lebay*. Wi-Fi hotel gak guna dah. Semua produk Google (Chrome, Maps, Gmail, Youtube, dll), WhatsApp, Line, Instagram, dan social media lainnya di-block. Katanya sih Path dan Yahoo bisa, tapi entah kalo sekarang di-block.

Berhubung gue gak se-petualang itu sampe bisa jalan-jalan tanpa Google Maps, gue mensiasatinya dengan cara langganan paket internet dari Indonesia. Gatau ya kalo operator lain, kemaren sih gue pake Telkomsel alhamdulillah lancar, gak ada sensor-sensoran. Mahal memang, selama 10 hari abis pulsa 700 ribu… tapi yah, gimana lagi? Daftar paketnya di *266# lalu ikutin aja petunjuknya. Pas di China, pilih operator China Unicom, koneksinya lebih stabil dan kenceng. KECUALI di Hangzhou. Itu gue udah putus asa karena semua operator sinyalnya E, dan hilang-hilang timbul. Sedih 😦 Kalo di 3 kota lain sih lancar jaya aman sentosa.

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Okee sekian tips jalan-jalan ke China dari gue. Intinya kalo ada kemauan pasti ada jalan, apalagi sekarang udah zaman canggih semua informasi ada di fingertips, asal rajin nyari aja.

Di postingan-postingan selanjutnya gue akan bahas itinerary masing-masing kota. Mudah-mudahan ga males bikinnya, haha 😀 See you!

What I’ve Learned From Being Single

It’s my 16th month of being single and I’ve just finished reading a novel titled “How To Be Single”, so it’s easy to imagine where I might have drawn the inspiration of this post from. But really, I think I’ve had these thoughts fleeting in my mind for a couple of months now, after I’ve recovered from all the bad dramas of a broken relationship and endless, sleepless nights where tears stained my pillows almost permanently every night.

After all the crazy break ups with the people I could picture a life with, you would think that I would go crazy and believe that all this hype of love and being loved is just a pure lie, or more accurately, a freaking bullshit.

 

Well, I did think about it that way.

 

But then I changed my mind.

 

So here are some of my thoughts on what I’ve learned from being single:

 

  1. You are not entitled to have the obligation to live your life alone

 

A girl can dream. And one of her biggest dream is to have someone who loves her and who stays by her side in going through this whirlwind of life’s mischief, together. Yes, it’s cheesy. Yes, it takes a shamanic magic to make that come true – what with all the beautiful girls out there that our possible prince charming could choose – but it’s a pathetic idea to live a life alone. REALLY. So even though my heart is broken, and my former man has flown away with his own choice to leave me, and my soul is writhing by picturing another possible failed dates, I promise myself that I will love again, and someone will love me back, again. How will that happen? I don’t know. I guess it’s time to believe in miracles.

 

  1. How will that happen? Treat your love life as seriously as you would treat your professional life

 

Because things are simply getting a bit serious.

I think that at some points, it just dawns on you that you need to settle down. Especially in this Indonesian (or Asian) culture in general, it’s hard to dodge the sad, earth-shattering fact that women are STILL treated differently when they are unmarried. No matter how successful you are in your career, no matter how financially stable, full of achievements, gorgeous looking, I-have-it-all you are, this sick society is still going to pity you. That’s the word. But they don’t do so to men, not as often and as intense.

(And they’re going to suddenly do awkward things to hide their judgments when you tell them you’re single, but your instinct works, thank you very much)

I don’t want to be pitied for the rest of my life, so I at least have made a plan. When I’ve reached a point where my professional life is stable enough, which means I have a satisfying job with at least a clear career development plan for the next five years and it pays all my bills and my needs, I will hunt for a man. No kidding. Hunt for a man. I will be in charge of my own happiness and be a high achiever in my love life as well. I will improve my appearances, search everywhere, ask my friends to set me up on dates, enlarge my circle of acquaintances, do religious rituals, and I even think of online dating. I’m not pathetic, I’m just increasing the odds of getting married and having children and being free to soar high in my own professional life without “being feared by men who are attracted to you”, and finally letting the society shut up. It’s a goddamn free country and I’m allowed to make a personal project.

 

Well, not now, but not too far from now. Maybe in less than five years.

 

  1. Even so, you still deserve someone who loves you back the way you want them to

 

That’s why I find it odd that some of my girl friends are still in a relationship where they are constantly hurting. What’s the point of being in a relationship where there is a constant need to explain yourself over and over again to someone who just don’t understand? What I learned from all of my failed romances, if I can learn anything, is that communication is key. Be brave and tell them you’re disappointed, angry, and unsatisfied. Explain the logic behind your statements. The wrong ones will shrug it off and tell that you’ve been overthinking it or you’re being too pushy but if they really love you, they are going to compromise for the better. Especially if it’s about fundamental concerns. If they aren’t, you may be settling for less than what you deserve.

Don’t expect men to understand or read between the lines. It never happens.

 

  1. Do not, do not, take your partner for granted

 

When I was in a relationship, a partner’s presence was appreciated, expected, and then taken for granted. But when I’m single, it’s just I’ve been reminded of how convenient it was to have someone ready to hear all your stories, offer consolation and assurance that everything’s gonna be okay, and simply be there to give emotional support. Sometimes, we’ve got so used to having someone spare their time, money, and energy to be with us. We complain about the inability to go to some fancy cafes, the long distance, the “very rare phone calls this week!”, less gifts and romantic gestures. Finally, when your partner has flown away to spend 2 days with you, thousand of kilometers away from their workplace, and you complain about not being able to spend the whole week of his days off together, think again.

Think of how sometimes, your partner is underappreciated. When you’re single, this is something you’re going to miss.

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Picture’s taken from here 
  1. And finally, as they say, miracles happen every day

 

I recall that I could be in a relationship with a new, exciting guy, always at the time when I felt content with myself.

I have always been a desperate romantic, and my everyday state is being mildly desperate about my lousy love life. But there have been times when I got so desperate I even went on being depressed. Then I realized that no one, no one in this world would love me if I hadn’t been able to love myself. So I did, and I am still trying to. Because people are drawn to somebody who is enjoying what life has to offer. Somebody who is happy, and has a positive outlook on life. Someone like this evokes a radiant, irresistible glow, and who doesn’t want to be with someone like that?

I think I’m perfectly okay and qualified to meet the one. It’s just that for now, I haven’t been finished with my own life, and somehow that has created a barrier to let someone else’s life mixes in with mine. Perhaps I need to let go of my fears, and my unhappiness, and my constant worry and negativity. Only then can I let someone get into this hidden shell.

 

Only then can I let myself find the love I’ve always dreamed of.