50 Travel Bloggers from 12 Countries, celebrating the love for travel and exploring a new destination!
AirAsia Bloggers Community is something that I recently became a part of, and have come to relish it already. Not only because they took me on a trip of wonder to Jakarta, Indonesia – okay that’s a part too, hehe – but also because the team, from the in-flight crew to the PR Head and everyone in between are a bunch of lovable, hard working and very helpful people. It’s always the people that matter the most, always.
However, my association with AirAsia isn’t as new as my initiation into AirAsia Bloggers Community, I’ve been flying with them since 2014.
I had the chance to fly with AirAsia as soon as their India operation began in June 2014. In fact, my post Fly With AirAsia: Delhi To Goa Return Flight Review is one of the top 15 popular posts on this travel blog, with majority of traffic coming from India and the U.S. Which is no surprise once you realise that most young American travellers head to Goa during the last leg of their India trip.
From the previous review of AirAsia India, there is no doubt that I loved AirAsia’s in-flight meals. I still do!
Akanksha and I, we had travelled to Phuket, Thailand via AirAsia in Oct 2016. I have mentioned in some posts before this one, that I travelled to Thailand twice last month, and the second trip was with AirAsia India and AirAsia X.
AirAsia is a budget airline, so once you understand that and get your expectations right, you start to love it. We totally loved our flying experience with AirAsia.
So, when AirAsia invited us both to be a part of the grand third anniversary celebration of AABC – AirAsia Bloggers Community – in Jakarta, we immediately started making exhaustive Things To See In Jakarta lists.
Jakarta, as you might know, is the second most popular destination in Indonesia (after Bali), attracting of 243,178 foreign tourists in September of this year alone. I was excited for this trip.
And so the journey to Jakarta started!
After transit in Bangkok, we landed in Jakarta on 12 Nov 2016. After getting out Visa on Arrival, we took an Uber to The DoubleTree by Hilton Jakarta – Diponegoro, this year’s AABC Official Hotel Partner. This beautiful luxury hotel is located in the heart of Menteng area, and is a short walk away from the Central Business District, Taman Ismail Marzuki Cultural Arts Centre and Jalan Surabaya Antique Market, as well as magnificent sites such as Istiqlal Mosque and Jakarta Cathedral. On entering the lobby, I saw a huge coffee counter opposite to the front desk, with Batik-style painted vases on the wall, the aroma of freshly brewed coffee and cookies wafting in the air and I instantly loved the hotel.
As if they heard my thoughts – or my rumbling tummy – they handed each of us a tin box full of cookies.
My room was on the 18th floor of the hotel and the glass wall on one side of the room had a stunning view of a sparkling blue swimming pool and the city of Jakarta. Also, I found out at one of the #AABC2016 challenges that the hotel is famous for its delicious cookies. The challenge was to click a creative picture with the cookie, and I clicked this.
Akanksha, obviously, is the cookie monster here. Didn’t win the challenge because you probably shouldn’t call your friend a monster for pretending to eat your cookie in a picture. Sharing lesson, remember? Yeah, I forgot. ha-ha.
The same night, at the Welcome Dinner, we met travel-crazy people like us from 12 countries. AirAsia Bloggers Community (AABC) is a community for bloggers, vloggers, digital influencers and netizens that loves to #FlyWithAirAsia – and we saw some great photographers, bloggers, YouTubers, Instagrammers and more. What fun!
This year, travel bloggers from Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Indochina, Brunei, India, Taiwan, China, Myanmar and more came together to be a part of AirAsia Bloggers Community and together we witnessed the colonial charm and much-celebrated cultural diversity of Jakarta.
We also met the AirAsia people, the faces and brains behind the AirAsia Bloggers Community and more, and it was a good and productive interaction for me.
We were treated with special food tasting of AirAsia’s Santan menu, including famous dishes like Nasi Goreng, Nasi Kerabu, Longevity Noodles, Chicken Tikka, Rajma Rice, Chicken Satay and many more dishes from across Asean and beyond. AirAsia recently launched the Santan Combo that allows guests to pre-book hot meals with a drink of their choice for as low as INR 189.
After tasting almost thirty – I could be wrong but nobody was counting what they’re eating – yummy dishes from AirAsis’s Santan menu, we were assigned different teams for the Fun Race Challenge the next day. I was a part of team Ketoprak, with people from Taiwan, Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand and India (obviously).
The next day, using local transport, we explored the old town of Jakarta, Kota Tua.
I read in a lot of articles before this trip, that Jakarta 1945 Museum, Sunda Kelapa Harbour, National Museum, Ancient Inscription Museum and Jakarta History Museum in Kota Tua not to be missed – and I got to see most of this.
From street performers to glittery puppets, from museums to live performances, and from posing mid air in front of a local monument to buying local artefacts from road side shops – the day went by quickly.
I returned to the hotel exhausted, and slept for an hour while admiring Akanksha’s determination to head out with energy.
And hour and half later, we dressed up in traditional attire, and headed for the Gala Dinner. Dressed in a red Italian crepe bandnhi saree and an elaborate headgear, I felt a tad overdressed in the elevator. That didn’t last long, though.
The moment we entered the hall where the Gala Dinner was being hosted, my eyes popped out of their sockets. Bloggers were dresses impeccably in their most elaborate, most beautiful traditional attires. From Indonesian tribal warrior to Malaysian Royal Princess, this was feast for the eyes. Everyone looked absolutely gorgeous.
I even got selected as one of the three people for the Best Traditional Dress prize! Didn’t win it, but it was super fun to be on stage in my saree.
After the dinner, we went to sleep and the next day it was already time to go. After breakfast, we hugged and clicked pictures with our new tribe, and headed back to our respective detonations. But not without a lot of inspiration, a tick mark against a dream destination and lots and lots of leanings about travel writing and the digital medium from the fellow AirAsia Bloggers Community members. Fun and knowledge, what more could I ask for?
I made new friends – amazing Bloggers from Taiwan to big Instagram stars from Myanmar. Photographers from Malaysia and Travel Writers from India – Nivy and Hrish, who we now call friends and are good folks with kind hearts and an insatiable hunger for new destinations and new experiences, like me. Akanksha, you might already know, is one of my best travel partners. Add to the mix, AirAsia India PR who is as fun as one could imagine. We had a superb time in Jakarta!
Thank you AirAsia for making me a part of this incredible celebration.
I loved you even before we had any collaboration (hint: my post from 2014!) and I love you even more now that I know the hard working people behind the scenes.
Your love for travel bloggers is a big turn on (figuratively, of course). And I hope you keep nurturing the passion for travel and strengthen your bond with travel blogger who truly believe that “Everyone Can Fly!“