Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Peek Into The Indonesian Peranakan Wedding

Please bear with me for today will be the final post on peranakan-themed week:). By now, you must be wondering why I am suddenly interested with peranakan cultures. A few weeks ago, I was assigned to cover an Indonesian peranakan wedding, a unique one as it features rituals that are no longer practice in mainland China.

I'm a bit lazy to write all the details since I've written them all in my article. I will only share a photo I took during the peranakan wedding that I witnessed a few weeks ago.

That is Makan 12 Mangkuk (eating 12 bowls), in which both bride and groom eat 12 bowls of food, representing what life will probably give to them in a year. The foods have various taste, from sweet to sour to bitter.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Peranakan Penang Cuisine At Seroeni

I have told you yesterday that peranakan means native born people of Chinese descent. Peranakan culture is found across Nusantara archipelago (or what British biogeographer Alfred Russel Wallace called as The Malay Archipelago), including Singapore and Malaysia.

Penang of Malaysia also has the peranakan culture, which is unique because there are Chinese, Indian and Malay cultures molding into one. As a result, the Penang cuisines have a richer taste and variety compared to other Malaysia's regions. Want to try the cuisines? Guess what? We don't have to fly over to Penang to sample the cuisines, for there is Seroeni, a restaurant specializing in peranakan Penang cuisines, in Plaza Senayan. Ahh, the joy of living in urban area!

The interior

Shark's Fin Soup (poor shark)

Sambal Ebi String Bean (bean cooked with shrimp paste)

Honey Vinegar Chicken

Crispy Long An Beef
Sweet And Spicy Prawn
 Fried Mee Mamak

And for the dessert, try Snow Monster (shaved ice with fruits and other toppings). It doesn't give you the brain freeze:)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Peranakan Padang Cuisines At Marco's Bofet

Everyone knows how spicy Padang cuisine is. I like it, but after having suffered paratyphoid fever several times, I always take precautious measures whenever eating out at a Padang restaurant. For those with weak stomach out there, I can fully recommend Marco's Bofet at Setiabudi One. The restaurant serves peranakan style of Padang cuisine as chef Marco is of Chinese descent. 

Peranakan is a term, referring to native-born Indonesians of mixed Indonesian and any foreign ancestry, commonly applied to those of Chinese descent. Since there are two cultures in the peranakan family, the cuisines are different to the common cuisines.

If you have never dined at a Padang restaurant, fear not oh my lovelies, for Marco's Bofet has several plasma screens that play videos on how to eat the cuisines. That being said, using your hands, of course.

The cuisine above is Dendeng Kering Lado Merah (thinly sliced, dried and spiced with red chili). It looks very spicy, but it is not. Love it!

That is Pete Kacamata (eyeglasses-shaped stinky bean). I always avoid stinky bean-based cuisine for it causes bad breath (yikes!), but I find it as a crunchy odorless treat. Definitely a must-try.
Two other must-try menus are Randang Itam (black beef stew) and Ikan Bilih Asok (spiced small fishes), which I forgot to photograph because they really were delicious and I couldn't stop munching and the last thing I knew, "oh dear, the plates were empty".

Gado-gado Padang (Padang version of mixed vegetable with peanut sauce). Love it too!

On the left is Kopi Padang (black coffee) and on the right is Teh Telok (tea with egg). I should post on how to make Teh Telok someday, it's so delicious!

And now, I have to leave you to get my lunch for this images are making me hungry.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Level One

Do you like products of distros (distribution outlets)? If you do, you'd better take a stroll at Level One, Grand Indonesia's East Mall. There are 22 shops that sells 26 brands, made by Indonesia's young designers aged under 30.

The products sold in Level One are various, from clothing to furniture to lomo cameras. The management of the mall has told the shop owners to change their products and display windows every three months, so customers always have new things

I love the fact that some of them have websites so we can browse their products before heading to the shops. Here's the list of the shops at Level One:
- 16DS / Sixteen D Scale
- Ciel
- Cocomomo
- damn! i love indonesia
- Deer
- Eightshop
- Geulis
- Harrington
- House of Jealouxy
- Hunting Fields
- Ichwan Thoha
- Kaligiila
- Kle
- Lomography by Lomography Embassy Store Indonesia
- Magic Happens and MYE
- Mimsy
- Monday to Sunday
- Naima
- Plastic Culture
- Rebel for a cause charity store
- Satcas & Sash
- Saint and Sinner
- Silla Home
- No'om and Soe Hoe
- Tikshirt
- Tick Tock
- Tosavica
- Venom

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Friday Morning In Pasar Gedhe Solo

Pasar Gedhe means big market. And it is big indeed. Standing on a 6,971 square meter land, the 5,800 square meter market houses 108 stalls. According to a recent data, there are 741 stall vendors and 240 non-stall vendors who work in the market. My friend Aneen and her mother, Tante Ing, run a stall in the second floor, and I was very lucky to experience a day in the market with them. 

I respect people who work hard, regardless of their professions. In a market, you meet such people. That encounter will make you appreciate the little things you have. Aneen, I take my hat (not my hijab, though) off for you.

If you're a regular reader of this blog, I'm sure you still remember Aneen from my Lombok holiday post in the first photo. The second photo is of Tante Ing, Aneen's mom. We peeled prawns together. If you're not used to it, peeling prawn needs total concentration. I like it though, I find it a meditation-like activity. It looks easy, but it hurts my fingers.

 Can you guess what I have on my palm on the last photo?:)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Fifteen Years Apart

Found here

I find life often offers funny jokes. For example, I went to Austria fifteen years ago, but I saw the Austrian folk dance last week during Solo International Performing Arts's opening night. That really brought back memories of the 1995 summer.

Several places I visited during my two-week sojourn were:
- Kahlenberg, the highest point in Vienna that offers a view to the entire city.
- Stephansplatz, a square at the heart of Vienna, with church Stephansdom. I went inside the church too.
- Ringstrasse. If you walk inside this area, you'll find buildings that dated back before the 1870s. Kunsthistoriche Museum and Naturhistoriche Museum, Rathaus, Heldenplatz, Parliament, Staatsoper are among the buildings you can find in the Ring.
- The parks: Stadtpark, Burgpark, Turkenshanspark, Wahringerpark. It's interesting to see the Vienneses take morning strolls with their dogs or do exercise just before they go to work. In several parks, there are statues of famous Austrians, such as Strauss and Mozart.

- Schwedenplatz. If you visit Vienna in the summer, then Schwedenplatz is a must as it has an Italian ice cream parlor that only opens during the season. Fifteen years ago, I only paid 16 Austrian schilling (1 schilling was Rp 250). My favorite flavor is stracciatella:)
- Grinzinger Hauermandl, a traditional restaurant. The food (well, I only ate schnitzel and other non-pork food) was good, the ambiance was great.
- Donau, or Danube. A boatride is a must! But beware with naked people who jumped from their boats into the river. Argh, my eyes!
- Hundertwasserhaus, an apartment house designed by Austrian artist Hundertwasser. It has undulating floor, earth-grass covered roof and a tree is growing inside the house.
- Mauthausen concentration camp. Not a wonderful place to visit, but it is a good place to learn history.
- Seegrotte, an underground lake. I was there when the tour information was given in German. They refused to give explanation in English. Since I only knew basic Deutsch, I had no idea what this place was about. I only know that one of The Three Musketeer's scenes (the Hollywood version) was shot here, and that it once served as a concentration camp.
- Vienna International City. It's one of United Nations headquarters. Go visit it if you had the chance.
- For the shopaholic, I recommend Shopping City Sud and Mariahilfer Strasse.
- Miss reading English books amidst the German-speaking people? Head to The British Bookshop at Weihburggasse.

Ah, how I miss you, Vienna...

Monday, July 19, 2010

2,240 Meters Above Sea Level

The article on Mount Beuticanar is out! You can read the official article here. But if you want to know  what happened behind the scene, read on please :)

I was typing in my cubicle when my editor popped his head in, and this conversation followed...
"Would you like to go climb a mount?"
"Umm, it depends. Which mount?"
"Some mount in West Java. Forgot the name. Will forward the email to you soon."

A few minutes later I opened an email from a British guy named Dan, who invited one of TJaP's reporters to visit Mount Beuticanar, the highest point of Mount Galunggung. The name of Mount Galunggung emerged when its 1982 eruption forced a British Airways plane to make emergency landing in Jakarta. (Updated: in the article, I wrote that the plane landed on Soekarno-Hatta airport, but the airport commenced operation in 1985. Therefore, it should be either the Kemayoran or Halim airport.  It is my mistake, I take responsibility on this). It was the first time in the history of commercial flights. But the highest peak, Mount Beuticanar, has never basked in the limelight, and Dan wanted to change that.

Courtesy of Nick

It sounds innocently easy. I mean, it's only 2,200 meters above the sea level, compared to the 2,958 meter high Mount Gede that I climbed four years ago. However, Galunggung is still an active volcano. I browsed the internet for a couple times, making sure there had been no serious activity recently. 

When I found none, I said to my editor,"Yup, sure. I'd do it." 

Somewhere in the back of my head, I could see a big red light turning on and the sound of siren blaring out loud. A solemn voice echoed: 'It was a wrong answer, girl. You should have said no.' But I like taking risks in life as it gives more spices, it makes you more alive.

Many people tried to discourage me. Nvn said that the heavy traffic on Friday night would be very heavy that I would reach Cipanas at midnight. As a city girl, traffic doesn't bother me. Trw said that I could meet wild beasts there. I was like, "Wild beasts? You mean leeches?" 

A more radical thought was voiced by Rzk, the guy who lent me the sleeping bag: "Let me get this straight. You don't know this British guy, never meet him, never talk to him. But you are going to climb a mountain with him? Are you sure he's a good man?" I told him that it was an assignment and that I trusted my guts. 

So yeah, on Friday afternoon of June 18 I went to the meeting point, Primajasa bus garage in Cililitan and I saw Dan for the first time. There was no way to misidentify him since he was the only Caucasian guy there. Tall (well, for a 1.57-meter tall girl like me, he's much taller, the top of my head only reaches his shoulder) and blue-eyed, he is as polite as most British guys I knew.

A few things I found out during the journey:
1. Dan spends most weekends climbing mountain or listening to gamelan music
2. Dan loves tofu to the point of addiction

That second point observation was revealed when our bus stopped and vendors pouring in. He was looking for those tofu vendors, but alas, no one in sight. Instead, there was a vendor selling gehu (tofu with bean sprout filling).

"Ahh there is no tofu," he said, a bit disappointed.
"You know, Dan, gehu is also tofu. Gehu is a coined term from toge (bean sprout) and tahu (tofu). If you like tofu, perhaps you want to try gehu?"
"Really? Then I'd like to try one."

But at that moment, the vendors were making their way out of the bus. So for the time being, gehu remained a mysterious food for him. 

We reached Cipanas at 8 p.m. and checked into our rooms at Tirta Merta motel. Each room has a tub filled with hot water to the brim. We later met Nick, an Australian man, who has lived in Indonesia for more than 30 years. Dan said Nick looked like Alfred Russel Wallace, that British biogeographer, but in my opinion, Nick looked like Papa Smurf. Hahaha...sorry, Nick. I like the Smurfs though.

I met with the rest of our team - Masashi, John and Ally - in the morning. Riding in Nick's 4WD car, we headed to Telaga Bodas, which is about 1,640 meters above the sea level (more than half our hike, yay!). The car was parked at the gate, and we hoisted our backpacks. I had the smallest backpack, but it started to pierce my shoulder blade in the first 100 steps toward the lake. (Note for not-so-fit climbers: strategies needed to distribute this weight off your shoulders)

Dan already arranged to meet Adam and Toto, local guides from hiking club Napak Rimba, at a small hut by the lake. There were several boys hanging around. Aha! Help is on the horizon. Started to pray that the boys would join the hike. A few minutes later, prayers were answered and I got few things off the backpack. Then Masashi tied my backpack with his rope, making it easier to carry.

Courtesy of Masashi

The area still has dense vegetation. Since it is only climbed once or twice a year, it is pretty clean too. Walking into the forest was like swimming into a pool of greenery. The higher we hiked, it started to feel like snorkeling! Almost lost mt spirits, but then one of the boys finally took my backpack. Thank you, young man. May Allah bless you.

Dry crater Saat

We reached dry crater Saat, a sandy area where we took a few minutes rest. Then we entered the sea of trees again. The hike felt like a boot camp training, since we had to crawl beneath the weeds and pulled ourselves up with tree roots. After a while, the track began to feel manageable, if not enjoyable. I could catch glimpses of Telaga Bodas at some points along the ridge.

A glimpse of Telaga Bodas can be seen along the ridge

As I hiked, I could feel the air was thinning and my lungs were screaming. I walked slowly, stopping every now and then to catch my breath. The rest of the team was already ahead of me, except Tandang and Sundari, who cheered me up all the way.

The track went high and higher, but just when I thought the summit was near, it started to descend. This happened twice. Continued walking though. I knew I could do it, I just couldn't do it as fast as anyone else in the group. After four-hour hike, I reached the summit. Yay!

The vegetation was covering the view, so the guys pulled out their machetes and started to trim down. Dan trimmed down almost everything that I had to curb down his enthusiasm.
"Dan, don't cut all the weeds, because we need to have some enclosure for"
"Toilet? Oh, yes. Sure."

View from summit

After the trimming was over, we could get a clear view around. There is Telaga Bodas on the west and the city of Tasikmalaya on the east. Fresh air, beautiful views, it feels great to stand on top of the mountain. Just for that fleeting moment, I understand why hiking is fun. Then I started to feel hungry and tired.

The others built the tents and I ate my bread. Too hungry to respond to the surrounding activity. Then I helped Dan making my tent. Well, it's his tent, but he lent it to me. He would share tent with Nick, while I'd be tent alone.

As Masashi began cooking for dinner, Nick turned on his paraffin stove. It started to feel like a cooking competition Allez Cuisine. I only brought Pop Mie, Beng-Beng, jelly and peanuts, but  Masashi and Nick were very well-prepared.

Courtesy of Masashi

Masashi is obsessed to have a three-course meal. For the appetizer, he boiled edamame (Japanese beans) and gave each of us a fist of edamame. Yum, I like it. For the main course, he made a kind of veggie burrito for John and Ally. The three of them were going as a team and they shared food together.

"What's for dessert?" Masashi asked John and Ally.
Dan opened a pack of Oreo and offered it to us. So that should be dessert.

"What are you having for dinner?" Nick asked me.
"Pop Mie."
"I'm making minestrone soup. Why don't we share it for dinner? You, me and Dan."

"Do you want coffee?" Masashi offered.
"I don't drink coffee," I said.
"I have tea."
"Japanese tea? Ocha? Oh, yes please."

Wow! I felt like an orphan being adopted by a family. As Nick stirred the soup, the boys came to watch. Nick looked up and said,"What's going on here? Why are you boys looking at?" The boys quickly dispersed. Masashi laughed and said,"You should pay if you want to have a look."

We had no luck with the sunset as the weather became cloudy. We expected to have a moonlight night, but  no, we could not have it too. I went into the tent and tried to sleep. But the night at the top of the mountain was so effing cold. I applied Minyak Tawon all over my tummy, put on several layers of clothing and lied my self down.

That didn't help much, because I still felt the cold. I sat there for 30 minutes, mulling over what I should do.  As the night got colder, my breath got heavier. I remembered the asthma episode I had four years ago. That was no fun. So I carried my sleeping bag and other amenities to Nick's and Dan's tent. Please note that this is not something I do in a regular basis. I'm built for the tropical climate and the mountain tops at night certainly don't provide that. They were surprised to see me, but let me in anyway. I think they were more afraid of me than I was of them.

"G-g-guys, I'm freezing. C-could I share tent with you?"
"Hahaha, are you sure you're cold? Not because you're afraid of wild beasts?" Dan asked.
"I already put on two pairs of socks, two trousers, two shirts, a sweater and a jacket, and I still feel cold."

Nick put his hand on my face and said,"Hey, you're cold. Your face is cold."
"A-and my hands are cold too," I said.

"You should sleep in the lateral position as I do," Nick said.
"Er, you mean like spooning?"

From the adjacent tent, we could hear John chuckled and said,"Guys, watch your manners, ok?"
Nick calmly said,"John, this is basic mountain survival. Now, I think you are not wearing your sleeping bag properly. You should pull it over your head."

A few minutes in their tent, I already felt warm again. Huddling myself in the sleeping bag, I closed my eyes and fell asleep. Waking up several times in the middle of the night, my feet were feeling cold, so I snuggled my feet to either one of them. I dreamed about being in the sawmill, then I realized they were snoring. (Argh)

I left their tent before Subuh (dawn prayer time). From inside my tent, I heard conversations outside.

"Good morning. How's your sleep?" Masashi said.
"Nice and warm," Dan said.
Masashi laughed. (Argh) I opened the tent zipper and greeted him. He later offered me a cup of tea. 
"I saw your feet coming out of the tent last night (Ah, so that's why my feet felt cold). Looks hot." Masashi smiled at Dan, while glancing at me. (Argh)
"It was a very cold night."

Ally asked me,"So did you finally get warm?"
"Don't you feel like you're being used? Exploited?" Ally asked Nick and Dan.
"We exploit each other," Dan deadpanned.

The sunset-like sunrise

We stood there, waiting for the sun to show up. But it was cloudy and foggy, we could not even tell whether the sun had come out. Seeing this, we quickly packed up our backpacks and dismantled the tent.Going down the mountain is quite easy once you find the right track. Sometimes all you need is sliding down with your feet or bum.

While the hike to the summit took us four hours, it only took about two hours to go down. We went to the hot spring pools and have a dip. It was a relaxing treat after the hike. It is the best part of the journey, other than the fact that there is no leech in Mount Beuticanar.

 Courtesy of Masashi

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Any Idea For This Train Garage?

Allow me to give you another train-related post, and then I will leave you to enjoy the rest of the week:). Like I said yesterday, I was invited by PT KAI officials to see their conservation efforts. They also take me to an unused garage in Cikudapateuh. They were thinking to convert this 4.5-hectare area into something hip and trendy. Do you have any idea for them? 


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Kelling House

PT Kereta Api Indonesia invited me and several journalists to Bandung earlier this year. We visited the main office and had a talk on their conservation efforts on Dayang Sumbi House, previously called as the Kelling House. Then we went to see the house, and here are the pictures.

 Welcome to my crib!

I really hope the house gets the best treatment it needs:)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I Have A Train Brain

A train passed Cisomang bridge

My dearies, what means of transportation do you prefer when traveling?  I have always loved taking a train. Perhaps because it was the first means of transportation I used. D took me to Bandung, West Java by train when I was around six months old. He left me there under the guidance of his parents because both M&D worked and there was no nanny to take care of me.

It was lucky for them that I am such a good girl. I was very calm during the train ride. However, according to D, everyone in the train took pity on him, because he had to go by himself.

“Perhaps they were thinking that the wife had been leaving the man and the baby for a much better life,” D said, laughing.

But I digress. Back to the train thing.

A train passes Sasaksaat tunnel

What I find so exciting about the train is that it runs on its own tracks and is unlikely to get trapped in a traffic. And the fact that it’s the only means of transportation that I get along with. The others (cars,ships, planes) get me nauseated.

My love towards train is growing as time goes by. In 1980s, D wrote a book titled Berkelana Dengan Kuda Besi (Traveling With The Iron Horse), in which he told the history of train and how we can actually travel across the globe using trains.Well, not exactly across the globe. We have to switch to buses, boats and planes in some parts of the world.

I watched a documentary on Trans Siberia when I was in elementary schools, and I’ve been having dreams about the train ever since. Reading Agatha Christie’s Murder On the Orient Express only amplified it.

D was assigned to Germany in 1990 (or was it in 1989? He was there during the German reunification) to attend Frankfurt Book Fair. During his stay in Europe, he got to travel between Germany, France and the Netherlands by Eurorail. Oh, how I envied him until I tried the subway of Vienna.

When I went to college in Central Java’s Semarang, I used train to go between Jakarta and Semarang. If I take the morning train from Jakarta, I can see a glimpse of Java’s northern coastal in the afternoon as the train passes Batang-Pemalang. The view is majestic.

For a quick and beautiful train ride, I suggest the Argo Gede that runs between Jakarta and Bandung. If you depart from Jakarta, take the seats on the right side of the aisle. It is a feast to your eyes, since the ride will pass hundreds of train bridges, such as Cisomang and Ciganea. You can also see the amazing structure of Cipularang tollroad.
I usually get lucky whenever taking a train. An old man gave me a bag of wingko babat (coconut and sugar snack) when he sat next to me. During my college years, I visited the Train Museum in Ambarawa with cousine Dina. And we got to ride the steam train that travels between Ambarawa and Bedono, thanks to employees of Total Fina Elf (now: Total E&P Indonesie) that allowed two brave-yet-penniless girls boarding the train.

When you read this post, I have probably reached Kebumen by train. Although I can buy plane ticket, I decide to go by train. Boy, if I had the time and the money, I would travel the world by train.

Photos: courtesy of PT Kereta Api Indonesia

Monday, July 12, 2010

Latte Art

Good morning, my lovelies! Do you need a cup of coffee in the morning to get you in the mood? I prefer tea to coffee, so I'm of a Javanese descent who doesn't drink Java, hehehe. But I adore the latte art. Last year, I went to a coffee class and tried my hands on latte art. Here are some pictures from the event. Sorry for the blur and noises. 

You will need a stable hand to pour the milk on the coffee

The last photo of latte art is mine. My hands got a bit shaky and created this abstract pattern:).