It has a reputation for being devoid of tourist attractions and a mere stopover en route to the tropical paradise, but Jakarta does have a few interesting places to stop and admire the immensity of the place and the controlled chaos. A rooftop bar usually does the trick.
On a clear day, tall mountains actually frame the city's background!
Old Batavia shows off remnants of the Dutch period, and is a must photo-stop for the lingering tourist. The puppet museum looks like a relic from the last generation, housed in an old colonial building.
I was more interested in the Museum Bank Mandiri, which is in a formidable art deco structure with lots of old machines showing what banking used to be.
Then again, a lot of the history is crumbling.
I recall watching a documentary on street food in Southeast Asia, and Jakarta doesn't disappoint. It's not really in unsanitary conditions and the food is actually quite nicely represented.
I have always wanted to return to Qingdao after my first visit in 2007. Thanks to a cheap redemption for the flight and winter season sunshine, I was off to a wonderful long weekend. Luckily, the smog wasn't too pervasive and visibility was fairly decent.
Not many large Chinese cities offer a clean beach right in the middle of the city.
This city is not too densely-built either, with these shorter neighbourhoods of older homes.
The German colonial legacy wasn't destroyed in the decades since their departure. It seems a bit odd to see this sort of architecture in China.
The interiors were not elaborately decorated though - simple.
Being a coastal city, seafood plays an important part of the menu. 10 yuan and up seems too good to be true.
Spring came and it was time for a long trip. Morocco seems to be a happening place, but apparently the guidebooks gave up on Casablanca - it was not worth a stop. Head to other parts of Morocco from here. However, the art deco buildings were quite interesting.
Fez is famous for its chaotic market, where it is so easy to get lost amidst the various narrow side streets, the mules, and the humanity.
Life is tough for the workers here.
In the Sahara
Who says it is always sunny in the desert? The Sahara also has cloudy days that give disappointing sunrises.
The great marketplace here has made Marrakech famous through the centuries. Traders from all over came here to market their wares. While not as chaotic and cramped as Fez, this one seemed a lot more intimidating with aggressive sales and suspicious eyes peering over the tourist's every move.
Nevertheless, I did a bit of shopping here myself. Cheese is a bargain even for international brands!
Its reputation devastated by the Fukushima nuclear disaster that is still ongoing and will continue for the decades and centuries to come, Tohoku offered a quieter place to enjoy the cherry blossoms well out of the exclusion zone.
Temples were generally not crowded and you can actually get a peaceful moment to yourself.
Facing the sea, try out what the waters have to offer. Hachinohe's fish market had plenty of options for both immediate consumption or to take home for later culinary creativity.
First reaction .. yuck. But despite its little tourist appeal, there are pockets of interesting things to see here. Manila actually has a nice modern skyline and despite the insufficient public transport, Uber was cheap and easy to find.
Although Makati is the traditional central business district, other pockets are starting to appear around the city. Finding a vantage point to see the progress was not too difficult with some luck and research.
Getting decent food was not difficult as well. BGC had plenty of westernized options in a clean and tidy environment.
The downtown core has seen a residential boom with many tall towers sprouting up to fill in the rather low dense areas that cover much of this part of town, surprisingly.
This construction boom has also spread northwards along the subway line. Intensification is great but unfortunately, transit improvements have not kept pace.
Summer is indeed a great time to visit with manageable temperatures that are perfect for long walks.
Historically, these parts of town have been lowrise, but they are slowly coming under the chopping block with new condo developments.
When these were built years ago, the builders were not ashamed of the copy-cat architecture at the top. Perhaps that was the selling point. They even named the development New York Towers.