AISEF’s Story Part 1 : How it began and a little story from Kuala Lumpur

Hello, my dear fellow readers!

Hmm, I know I owe you guys story about my journey in AISEF and I’m really sorry for writing it just now. I got a lot of assignments that I left because of the trip, so I need to finish them first :<

So, here I am. Well, how should I begin? I think it’s going to be very long. So you might have to be patient in reading it, lol.

It was on February 2012, when I first knew about the AYFN (ASEAN Youth Friendship Network; you can find all the information about it here, all about the programs and how to join them). I knew about the program from my friend who also joined NTUMUN 2012. I was really excited about it and planning to apply for the program soon. I’ve been exactly looking for this kind of program; cultural exchange! I’ve been always wanted to know how it feels to learn others cultures, I want to get socialized with them, I also want to tell them about Indonesian cultures, and also travelling to places I’ve never been before. Well, the program has all of them!

Unfortunately, I don’t have the chance to apply, yet. Well….because of these and those. So I waited for chance to come and finally on March 2013, I decided to apply a program that called AISEF (Art Immersion and Student Exchange Fieldtrip).

AISEF ParticipantsAISEF Batch April 2013 – Participants & The Thai Buddies

AYFN has several programs that held in many different cities around the ASEAN countries (you can check it on their website). My program was held in Chiang Mai, Thailand, a living city that unexpectedly more beautiful than Bangkok in some ways. Other programs held in Bangkok, Phuket, Ho Chi Minh city, Hanoi, Manila, and others. They usually set up an association with local university, so the lessons are being taught by real teachers and professionals. We also got buddies from the local university to accompany us everywhere during the program and the break time. I think this one is the best part because you can directly share your thoughts about each cultures you have, plus you got new foreigner friends!

To apply for the program, I need to fill up a form and have to write some essays about myself, my motivation to join the program, my strengths & weakness, and others. Well, for some other programs, you need to make a video that show about your talents (it could be dancing or singing a traditional song). Luckily, I don’t have to make that video because my program didn’t have any schedule for any performances :p It was still great though, because we got the chance to celebrate Songkran Festival in Chiang Mai (Water Festival; Thai’s New Year Celebration).

After waiting for a week, I got an email that told me I was accepted! I just woke up from my sleep at that time, so I was still wondering whether it was real or not. Several minutes after that I realized it was real and told my mom about it. She allowed me to go, and I was sooooooo happy! It was my dream to join this kind of program. So I feel like finally can make one of my dreams come true.

Days after that, I met other participants online (well, thank God there’s Facebook! and again, thank you for the AYFN’s committee for making us the group). We exchanged phone numbers and started to plan on reserving our airplane tickets, some of us also decided to extend our trip and visit Bangkok before we go home (FYI, you need to buy your airplane tickets by yourself for this program. But don’t worry,  AYFN’s committees are very nice and helpful. They always guide us everywhere and even help us to reserve rooms for our extended days).

Actually, there is no direct flight from Indonesia to Chiang Mai. Either we have to fly to Bangkok first, or we can also have a quick trip in Kuala Lumpur. So the routes available are Jakarta/Bandung/Yogyakarta-KL-Chiang Mai or Jakarta/Bandung/Yogyakarta-Bangkok-Chiang Mai.

Me and some of Jakarta’s participants decided to took the first route, considering the price is also cheaper on the date we picked (you can always find promotion fares!). And then we decided to meet other participants from Bandung (I departed from Jakarta because it’s easier for me; my home is in Bekasi, remember? :p), Yogyakarta, Purwokerto, and Solo in Kuala Lumpur to take the airplane to Chiang Mai together. One of AYFN’s committee, Mas Aan, also join us in Kuala Lumpur, so we thought it would be safe.

Me, Diana, Yessica, and Warsi (participants from UNPAR and UI) decided to have a trip together in Bangkok. So we also planned our place to stay there, the itineraries, and our airplane tickets to home. Aaaaand after excitedly planned our journey, we waited for the day to come with full of expectations!

IMG_1637left-right : Diana, Yessica, Warsi. My travelling partners.

On the day we have to go, it was a little awkward for me because we finally get to see each other after talking only via whatsapp and facebook. It felt like a blind date, lol. I took a plane with only Yessica and Warsi from CGK to KLIA using Lion Air. Yessica and Warsi are basically friends from the same department in their university. So it was a little hard for me, right? lol. But of course I get along with them fine, Yessica and Warsi were really nice to me. It turned out that Yessica was also ITB’s student before she decided to go to UI after a year. Now she’s in her last year major in Electrical Engineering. So we had a lot of to talk about. Warsi is also a very funny person, somehow I miss her little jokes that can make the atmosphere around us warm. She made me comfortable being around her. So when I finally get to meet them, I feel no awkward after talking for only several minutes :>

It was our first time to visit Kuala Lumpur. So I was a bit nervous. Fortunately, in KLIA, Reza was already waiting for us to join the KL trip. Reza is a participant from UIN, and surprisingly he also lives in Bekasi. Ha! It seems like my city a bit popular now, lol. It’s a relief to have Reza in our trip in KL because he’s the only male with us. Reza already arrived in KLIA the night before us. He stayed in KLIA all night. Thank God, KLIA is a really great International Airport. I was lucky to took Lion Air instead of Air Asia, because I can get to see KLIA (Air Asia operates in LCCT Airport, near KLIA).

IMG_9025Yeay! We’ve reached KL already!

IMG_9104Let me introduce you to Reza!

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IMG_9040Greatnesses of KLIA

After meeting Reza, we started our trip by riding a bus to LCCT airport, if I’m not mistaken, the bus service costed around 2.5 MYR and it took about 20 minutes. We went to LCCT because we’d like to deposit our luggages first because it will be hard for us if we have to bring them all along in our short trip, plus we were gonna take the plane to CNX from LCCT anyway. There’s a service named ‘Your Baggage Solution‘ in LCCT so you can keep your belongings there while you’re travelling around KL (you can find it near to International Departure’s gate). It costed  around 28 MYR for 24hours and medium size of luggage. You can also find it in KLIA if you want to continue travel from there. You can find more about the service here.

After having a quick lunch, carefully studying about KL MRT lines, and planning on places we were gonna visit, we took a bus from LCCT Airport to KL Sentral. The bus costed 8 MYR and took about 45 minutes. KL Sentral is an MRT Station that connected to several MRT lines in KL. So it is easier for you to choose which line are you gonna take from there (well, depends on your destination first, of course). There’s also luggage deposit service there. I don’t know exactly how much it costs, but I heard it is cheaper than KLIA & LCCT. But I prefer to deposit my belongings in LCCT considering I was going to sleep at LCCT. I think it is more safe and simpler. If you’re going to plan on travelling in KL, you can choose which one is simpler for your trip.

On my way to KL Sentral, I just realized that KL’s transportation system is quite modern. The main road seems like a highway road, almost similar to Singapore (but I like Singapore better). I think the city is also well-arranged. I wonder when will Indonesia, especially Jakarta, will has something like that. I hope for it soon. I also wonder, why would many Indonesian people say something bad about Malaysia. It is a well-developed country and I respect them for that. At least we can learn many things from them, considering we still got lacked here and there. Well, just an opinion.

The first place we visited in KL was Pasar Seni and Petaling Street using Malaysian’s MRT for the first time (KL Sentral-Pasar Seni costs around 1 MYR). Petaling Street is a street that has transformed into traditional market that sell many kinds of souvenir and other things like women bags, foods, clothes, and others. Pasar Seni is more like KL souvenirs centre, but more like crafts and things like that. I didn’t buy any souvenir there, because it’s quite the same like Indonesian’s souvenirs. But Yessica, Warsi, and Reza bought KL T-shirt there.

IMG_9062 IMG_9066 IMG_9072around the MRT station

IMG_9089 IMG_9095 IMG_9107Petaling Street

IMG_9117 IMG_9119 IMG_9123 IMG_9128 IMG_9132Pasar Seni

After that, we went to KLCC using MRT again (1.6 MYR). KLCC is like a mall district. There’re also the famous Petronas Tower there. In KLCC, we met with Diana and Yanda, participants from UNPAR. We also managed to meet Mas Aan and other participants there; IrfanIhwanAsmaAccaMyta, Anti, Alfi, and Fifi. We stay at KLCC until night and took photo in front of Petronas Tower. KLCC also has a beautiful park with dancing fountain in it! It was beautiful at night because there are colorful lights everywhere!

IMG_9188 IMG_9193 IMG_9271KLCC and Petronas Tower

Before we back to LCCT Airport, Me, Diana, Yessica, Warsi, and Reza went to Bukit Bintang first, again using MRT (4 MYR). The rest of the group were heading to Pasar Seni. We didn’t much time at Bukit Bintang, because we need to catch the last bus to LCCT Airport from KL Sentral which depart on 11.30 p.m. So in Bukit Bintang, we had only 30 minutes and spent the time only for walking around and took pictures. Bukit Bintang is also a shopping district. It’s like Singapore’s Orchard Street.

IMG_9274 IMG_9291 IMG_9295 IMG_9305 IMG_9313a quick photo-session at Bukit Bintang!

After a quick photo session (lol), we rushed back to KL Sentral (using MRT, 2.1 MYR) and fortunately caught the bus! We went back to LCCT safely and quickly find something to eat. There’re many kind of halal foods there, but I just don’t know why, I didn’t feel like eating Malaysian food because the seasoning is a bit different. I don’t know, the taste just didn’t meet my tongue. So, I tried to buy Padangnese food there. Yea I know, surprisingly they had it. But then again, it didn’t match the real taste. But that’s fine. Well, compared with Thai food, I think Malaysian food is a bit pricy. I think maybe because I bought in the airport. The food price there is around 7 to 15 MYR, quite pricy for strict-budget-traveller like me.

IMG_9335 IMG_9338waiting for the check in time at LCCT airport

After the late dinner, we met again with Mas Aan and the other participants. Some of us decided to sleep until the check in time around 4 a.m, and some of us took a stroll around LCCT. I didn’t sleep, because I can’t (even though I was sooooo exhausted after walking around KL in a day). I was too nervous to go to Chiang Mai. Maybe I was so full of expectations and yet I didn’t know whether it would turn out to be good or not. My plane took off around 7 a.m. We were all so tired and fell asleep in the flight. And finally, we reached Chiang Mai safely around 9 a.m.

My trip in Kuala Lumpur was rather too fast and I think I want to go back there again. There’re still lots of places I want to visit in KL. If you’re going to travel there, I heard that you should visit Putrajaya. If you’re interested in unique and modern architecture, this place needs to be your destination then. Well, I think one day if I happened to come back, I will surely visit Putrajaya and KL Tower. Hoping to go back soon!

Well, I think that’s all the story for Part 1 only, lol. Long enough, right? Don’t get bored quickly because I still have several more parts of my AISEF’s story. In the mean time, I will take some time for me to study because next week is the final exam’s week. After that, I’ll tell you more! Hihi.

See you!