Friday, December 31, 2010

As Time Goes By...

...Time never fails to amaze me. Time may slip quickly and quietly behind your back. Time may feel like it stays still until you can't bear it any longer.

Time heals all wounds, either physical wounds or those unseen scars. You may be crying your heart out now, but give yourself some time and you'll be back in shape soon.

Humans have tried to calculate time, from making a calendar to inventing watch and clocks. The truth is no one ever know how time pass us by. The Gregorian calendar (solar-based) has a leap year every four years while the Hijriyah calendar (lunar-based) creates disputes about when is the first day of Ramadan, the Idul Fitri or Idul Adha.

In a place where deadlines rule, you'll be shocked when you realize that time has passed you by. At the end of the day, you'll realize that time is the only thing we have in this world. So make good use of it.
Happy New Year!

31 On 31

Today is the first year anniversary of this blog and also the day I'm officially turned 31 years old. Yep, you read me correctly. Thirty one. And sane (although some have questioned the sanity level). And single.

Before you start congratulating me on my birthday, I want you to know that I'm not going to hold birthday party, or treat party traktiran. But I do love the birthday wishes. I feel the love:). If there is one thing I like about my birthday, it is the fact that I can reply the birthday wishes with another wish, "Thank you, my darlings, and Happy New Year!"

To tell you the truth, I was a bit scared to start this year as a single thirty-year-old in a country where marital status and the number of children you bore matter. But then my worry was baseless. This year has been an amazing year for me. Being thirty rocks! Being, well, there is nothing I can do to change it at the moment. So it's best to enjoy the here and now:). Since I'm celebrating my turning 31, here are thirty one of my favorite moments in 2010.
- I started this blog:)
- On Feb. 12, I was free from the three-year contract. Now, I can resign without paying the penalty fee. Oh joy!
- I managed to take D to his favorite chicken porridge stalls for several Sundays. Now he always asks if I have Sunday as my day-off:)
- My cousin Dina bought a house in Bogor. I went with her to take a look of the house, before we hit factory outlet stores, hahaha.
- I went to French spring festival Printemps Francaise with my friends K and Lenora. We watched hip hop dance performance Wanted Posse. But then one of the dancers asked K to have a cup of coffee, so Lenora and I were also invited!
- After all these years, I finally take the long-awaited holiday to Bali and Lombok with my university friend Aneen.
- During the holiday to Lombok, I did my first snorkeling at the Gilis, I loved it!
- My office held a day-out in amusement park Dufan. I didn't have the guts to try the roller coaster Halilintar  but it was still a fun day!   
- Finally made it to go to Bango Streetfood Festival.
- I got a chance to hike the less-traveled path of Mount Beuticanar
- I attended a Peranakan wedding, which gave me insights to a part of cultures that shaped Indonesia
- An assignment to Bandung, West Java, got me seeing an abandoned train garage.
- A day with Aneen in Solo's Big Market taught me how to peel the prawns. My hands got blistered, but it was worth the experience.
- This year, I got a chance to test-drive some of Mercedes-Benz's new line-up in Sentul International Circuit. It was the first time I use automatic car as I use the manual. I accidentally got into the gravel area, but I managed to hit the brake and got back to track, all done calmly. A guy reporter who was sitting next to me said,"You know what? It's the first time I got into the gravel area, but I didn't panic. I don't know why, but you make your passengers calm too." It was the best compliment, ever! Anyway, some of my favorite cars are the S-500 class (the interior is amazing, the engine roars beautifully and I feel really safe driving it) and the G300 jeep (I always have soft spot for jeeps).
- I visited Kei Islands, Maluku province where I strolled on the soft-as-talcum powder sandy beach, saw the underwater cave and learned local traditions in the island's remote villages.
- One of my yoga friends was married. She held a small ceremony, which I was planning to copy:). Recently, she delivered a healthy baby boy. Congratulation, my dear R! 
- A colleague who was departing for Australia held a garage sale and I managed to buy his bike. I've been using the bike to do errands. Don't you just love the wind in your face when you pedal your bike? 
- I bought my first laptop
- While looking for the right DSLR camera, I accidentally stumbled upon a red camera and found it  irresistible:)
- Sometime in the middle of this year, I moved to my new home with M&D. Although I didn't really like the layout, the new home is nearer to the main road.
- Thanks to an assignment, now I know how to make the breakfasting menus in Turkey, Morocco, Egypt, Pakistan and Jordan.
- A colleague gave me a ticket to see a badminton match in Senayan. Wow, it's the first time I saw live match events. It's too bad that Taufik Hidayat lost the match.
- Thanks to SNU and LG, I went to South Korea for a three-week fellowship
- During the three-week sojourn, I went to several shooting location of South Korean dramas, such as Coffee Prince and My Name is Kim Sam Soon
- I spent my first Idul Fitri abroad, which was very quiet and unlike the usual Idul Fitri.
- I tried backpacking to Ujung Genteng with (again) my friend Aneen
- I discovered my newfound interest on composing pick-up lines. And I infected several friends to join the band:)
- Despite the workloads, I still had time to see film festivals such as Jiffest and Korean Film Festival
- I went to Ende, Flores Island. I really love the place for one obvious reason: my cellphone lost signals every time we went to the hills.
- People may find it weird, but I am actually happy when the bosses moved me to National desk.  While the fashion shows I covered for Sunday Post broadened my fashion sense, the people I met (either prostitutes, children with HIV/AIDS or villagers in Indonesia's eastern region) during the reporting for National desk have humbled me.
- I met and made new friends across the country and the globe. I love you, guys, you rock!

Dear Allah, thank You for all the wonderful experiences You have given me this year. Those have enriched my horizon, and hopefully make me into a better person.

Dear friends and readers, thanks for stopping by and leaving the heartwarming comments. Hope this blogs help you in some way:)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Friends Who Ended Up In Ende:)

I have posted several group photos, but allow me to introduce each of the nice people I met in Ende.

Here is one of our first photo when we arrived at Haji Hasan Aroeboesman airport in Ende. From left to right are Nivell from JG (competitor! hahaha), who we sometimes called as Neville (Longbottom? We are fans of Harry Potter, after all), me, Luki from Kompas, Rusdi and Shandy from MetroTV. 

This is Dheni from Oxfam. He was like the official photographer of the group. We had to maintain the camera-ready pose whenever he's around. Thanks for those lovely photos! A little secret: he is a bit obsessed with my red camera. But then, who doesn't? :)

Fara, or sometimes we called her Fay. Also from Oxfam. She accompanied us from Jakarta to Ende and then back. Thanks for all the help during the trip to Ende:)

There's also Rafael or El (you can see a picture of me and him in the Kelimutu post, he's the one trying to divert me from the path). There were three women in the group (me, Luki and Fay) and El made sure nothing harm fell upon us. Thanks, Pak El:)

Then there are two drivers, Duke and Ardian, who entertained us with the jokes and local legends in Ende. They are like two sides of a coin, but they are the right people to take you around the city.

This is Duke, not pronounced like the English's duke, but how Indonesians say it... hmm I don't know how to explain this...anyway, he looks tough, he has tattoos, he always have the funny sentence but he doesn't eat dog meat, can't stand the cold (he wore that red blanket when we're going to Kelimutu!) and he has religious songs (church songs) in his MP3 collection. This photo of him kinda reminds me of Little Red Riding Hood:) Peace, Duke:D

This is Ardian. He's a quiet guy, but he knows the places to hang out and to buy the cinnamon-mixed coffee in Ende. I love the coffee!

Thanks for all the fun we had in Ende. I hope we can meet again someday.

Soekarno's Trails In Ende

I have yet to read any academic studies on Ende, but I believe the city was named Ende because it was like the end of the world. That was why the Dutch colonials exiled Soekarno to the southern coast city  of Flores Island back in the 1930s. 

By the way, did you know that Flores means flowers in Portuguese? The name fits perfectly since Flores is bursting with the greenery. If today's Flores is so green, I really want to see the Flores before the Dutch or the Portuguese era. 

But I digress. Back to the Soekarno story.

Soekarno was exiled by the Dutch colonial government to Ende for four years, from 1934 to 1938. Accompanying him to Ende were his then wife Inggit Garnasih and her parents. When he arrived in Ende, he did not have a place to stay. A kind person named Haji Abdullah Ambuwaru gave a house to him. Wow, isn't nice to help people in need?



Here's for a tangent. Another simple act of kindness I heard was this: when I was still in the Tanali village, a resident told me that her shop was burned down recently. Then her neighbors came, bringing building materials to rebuild her shop.

"I'm really grateful to have such wonderful neighbors. Also, they don't ask for payment. I only have to give them lunch," she said.

I don't know how you would react to this story, but I actually shed a tear or two. I'm a melancholic, I know. But it was really heartening to hear about the good things people do for others. 

Back to the Soekarno's story again. When one was exiled, he was literally put into a place where he had no political, economical, and social powers. But Soekarno managed to build all of those during his sojourn in Ende. He wrote and staged plays, he made friends and he composed the nation's ideology Pancasila while casting his gaze to the ocean (perhaps thinking a way to leave the city?).

Statue of Soekarno and the sukun tree where he composed Pancasila

Moral of the story: never lose your hope, my friends.

Talking about friend, I have yet introduce you to the friends I met in Ende. That will be elaborated in the upcoming post, amigos:)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

1,690 Meters Above Sea Level, Or The Hike To Mount Kelimutu

After we left the Tanali village, we went to Saoria motel and spent the night there. We agreed to leave the motel at 4.00 a.m. in a bid to catch the sun rise at the peak of Mount Kelimutu. Alas, due to fatigue, we could only leave at 5.00 a.m. Sleepy-eyed and covered in thick jackets, we all made our way to the peak.

After the hike to Gede-Pangrango and Beuticanar, I found this hike to Kelimutu as very easy. I don't mean to sound arrogant, but there are steps leading the way to the summit, clear signage of the route and it's under 2,000 meters. Not much to tell actually.

For the adventure seekers out there, Kelimutu may not have the difficult terrain, but the beauty of Kelimutu with its three colored lakes: Tiwu Ata Polo, Tiwu Nuamuri Koo Fai and Tiwu Ata Bupu, is definitely worth to visit.

The one on the left is Nuamuri and on the right is Ata Polo

Ata Bupu

When we visited Kelimutu, the colors were emerald green, emerald green and black, respectively. But in the past, the colors were red, emerald green and white. Nobody knows for sure why the colors change. Some say the colors change as the mount show volcanic activity, with green means very active and black means not so active. Last year, all three lakes turned green.

Locals also believe that when Ata Polo turns red blood, something terrible will happen. The last time Ata Polo turned red blood was a few days before the 1998 student riot. Hmm, interesting.

Did you know that if you took a sample of water out of the crater lakes, the sample would be transparent? How come the lakes have colors? Very interesting.

I didn't have many photos on Kelimutu crater lakes. If you want to see more photos on Kelimutu, you can click here.

And the next photo is about the happy group who believed that they could finally go back to sleep once they returned to the cars. No, we couldn't sleep since we were too excited after seeing those beautiful crater lakes.

From all the jackets we wore, you could tell it's a cold morning. I was glad I had that green Satcas hoodie on and that red camera to brighten my day:)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Life As Tanalinese People Know It

One thing about the Tanalinese is they are good hosts who are willing to take all the efforts to make their guests feeling at home. When we reached the village, the elders gave each of us a woven scarf, meaning that we're now part of the community. Seeing that all of us are Muslims, the Tanalinese who are Catholics ask if we can slaughter the chicken.

"We don't know how to slaughter the chicken the Islamic way. So it's best that you do it," one of the mothers said.

Kill the chicken? That is definitely not my call. One of the male journos finally did it. I think he still has nightmare from doing the butchery act, hahaha.

Anyway, the bottom line is they really make sure that we only eat the halal menu. On one occasion, when they served dog meat, they put the dog meat and the chicken meat on different tables. Since there were many stray dogs in the village, we were curious about which dog that became the lunch menu. But apparently they bought the dog in the market, instead of taking one of the stray dogs. I felt sorry for the dog.

Poor dog. He must be missing his brother.

Enough with the dog. The local menus were simple, such as sauteed papaya flower and fried chicken. But if there is one menu deserving an honorable mention award, it will be this sambal (chili), yum. Even just seeing the photo makes me salivating. 

The honorable mention award goes to this sambal. Seriously.

Guys, if you have a chance to go to Flores or Indonesia's eastern regions, make sure you have this kind of sambal. Made from tomato, chili, lime juice, kemangi and salt, this sambal is the reason of my chubby cheeks just  three days after I arrived in the village.

If you drink alcohol (I don't), you may want to try moke, local wine made from palm fruit juice. A friend who tried this moke said that it tasted like Korea's soju. At first, I wanted to bring moke as a souvenir for my bosses. I also thought of buying a parang (a kind of machete to cut the branches) for D. Yeah, people raised eyebrows when I mentioned it, but I have many trees in my home. Since we're going to take a transit in Denpasar, I thought that would not be a good idea. 

People who know me in real life, or who have been reading this blog since its early post, definitely know that I don't drink coffee. But my stay in the village has turned me into a coffee-convert. Seriously. I don't know how they roast or grind the coffee beans, but the coffee doesn't give me that nauseous feeling I feel every time I drink a caffeinated drink. If you have a caffeine-weak stomach like I do, give the Flores coffee a try. 

Another thing that made me envying the villagers is they have cacao trees in their front yard!  

While they embrace Catholics, most of them still practice the religion of the past, or animism. They still believe in their ancestors and perform rituals in front of the traditional house. See that small rock in front of the house? Legend has it that if you touch it, it will be just a matter of hours before you go to the eternal world. I bore that warning in my head every time I passed the green pasture. Not because I believe it, but because of respect.

A positive thing from this traditional belief is they will not do anything that the community leaders forbid because the penalty will be very heavy. Usually they have to pay the fines in the form of a pig. In some cases, the perpetrators have to leave the village.

Somehow this photo reminds me of a scene in Asterix comic books:)

I will leave you with a photo of me, a journo friend and the kids of Tanali village. Have a great day, my lovelies:)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Beginning Of The Ende Adventure

The journey to Ende began early in the morning of Dec. 14. My flight to Denpasar, Bali was at 06.50 a.m., meaning that I should be at the airport at least at 05.50 a.m., meaning that I should leave home at 03.50 a.m because I live in Bekasi and it takes 2 hours from my home to the airport. 

The problem is I'm not a morning person. So I decided to stay awake, rather than woke up late and missed my flight. But the real problem is I can fall asleep even though I stand on my feet. So I set the alarm clock and laid myself down. Aaand...I woke up at 04.00 a.m.!

I quickly changed my pajamas and dragged my suitcase and backpack to the front door. D was about to depart to the mosque while M looked at me as if I was insane. Judging from the ruckus I made, I probably was out of my mind at that time.

“Are you leaving now? What time is your flight?” M asked.
“06.50 a.m. I'm overslept,” I said.

M called D and told him to take me to the airport bus terminal. So we went together to the terminal. Ah, that's why I love my parents.

I got to the bus a few minutes before it left the terminal. The man sitting next to me said that his flight was at 06.30 a.m. And he was sure that the bus would reach the airport before that. Ok, at least we could cry together at the airport if the bus got there late, I thought.

But it only took 45 minutes to the airport, so I was saved from the communal cry. I checked on my e-ticket, and…yup, you got it right...I forgot to print it! 

I called the organizer, Mbak Fara from Oxfam, and she delivered my ticket to the front gate. After going through all the check-in process, we went to the boarding room, where we met the other journalists. I was impressed with the service in our national flag carrier Garuda Indonesia. First of all, now each seat has a mini TV! And it's touch screen! Wow.

And I love the breakfast menu.

We reached Denpasar, Bali at around 10.00 a.m. We had a quick snack and then boarded a Merpati plane to Ende. Since almost all journalists are not morning persons, we fell asleep as soon as our plane took off.

When we reached Ende, we went to Tanali village, where we spent two nights in the villagers's homes. It was interesting to learn about how they tried to minimize the disaster risk with the local wisdom passed from their ancestors. 

However, I wish my host put a  door on their bathroom. Yup, you got me right: the bathroom has no door. When I asked another journo (a man) whether the bathroom in his host's home had door, he said,"Yes, of course. The only problem is I have to fill the tub first by taking the water out of the well. Why did you ask?"

"Oh, how lucky you are. Mine has no door," I said.
"Oh, I see. So what time do you usually take a bath?" he asked.
I raised my eyebrows and walked away.

Anyway, I did take a bath. It was the quickest bath, and it resembled a scene out of a Mission Impossible movie. I had to watch around and see if the host already left the house, ran to the bathroom, take a bath in a jiffy, and ran back to the bedroom. Hmm, perhaps I will do a separate post on life in the village.

We left the village two days later and headed to Kelimutu National Park. The weather was cold, but the sky was bright and sunny. It was a fun hike. (Ok, this one should really be elaborated in another post)

We spent the remaining two days to explore the city and met the other stakeholders for this disaster risk management. We even managed to go to the house of Soekarno (the Dutch government exiled Soekarno to Ende in the 1930s). That will be elaborated in another post:)

The journey back home was a bit adventurous. Our plane, which was supposed to go directly to Denpasar, made a 30-minute transit in Tambolaka airport. Where the hell is Tambolaka? Ohoo, it's in West Sumba. Kids, check your map, please.

That transit only gave us 30 minutes to catch our connecting flight to Jakarta. We ran like crazy.  Thank God, we could catch the plane. That's all for now.

Happy holidays and season's greetings, folks:)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Postcards From Ende, Flores Island

Hello, readers! Sorry for the lack of posting. I just got back from Ende, Flores Island from an assignment on disaster management. It was an exciting six-day journey. I could not tell much right now, for I have to complete the stories, the financial reports (gaah!) and the laundry.

While waiting for my full travel story, let me entertain you with several photos I took in during my sojourn there. Hope you like them. Have a wonderful day!

That is basically the kind of scenery you can see while traveling in Ende: hills covered with fog, river with strong stream and rocks. Those white-leaves trees? They are kemiri (candlenut) trees.

I found that small waterfall on the roadside!

Last but not least, I rested my feet on the rocky Mbuu beach

Monday, December 13, 2010

Photos Of The Deep Sea Beauties Captured During The 2010 Index Satal

Dear people, aren't these animals cute or what? These photos were taken during the 2010 Indonesian Exploration in Sangihe-Talaud island (Index Satal), an RI-US joint deep sea exploration that took place last June.

Branching Coral: a crab with outstretched arms about 8 inches across, which are only observed living on soft coral. Image captured on August 5, 2010 by the Little Hercules ROV at 704-meter depth on a seamount mapped by Baruna Jaya IV

Spiked Crab: Lothodid-spike type crab with spiked holothurian and carnivorous anemone. Image captured at 751-meter depth

Striped Sea Urchin: a stunning example of a striped sea urchin living in the twilight zone. Image captured at 279-meter depth on a site referred to Zona Senja

Funny Fish: some of the stunning imagery collected by the Little Hercules ROV

All images are courtesy of NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, Index Satal 2010. To see more images, click here.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Girls Read Better Than Boys

Found here

Boys, I'm so sorry if you're insulted by the title, but it's the result of the 2009 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), a triennial test that assesses the extent to which point 15-year-old student of Organization for Economics Cooperation and Development (OECD) are able to analyze complex problems.

Don't believe me? Read it here. If you want to read how Indonesia students fare in the PISA test, click here.

Anyway, if you want to improve your boys' and girls' reading proficiency, there's going to be a sale on comic books at Gramedia Kompas building from Dec. 10 to Dec. 12. Yes, it starts today! Yay! Since the venue is near my office, I think I will pay a visit:).

Have a nice weekend!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Jiffest 2010

I've always spared time to watch Jiffest. This year, however, I could only watch three movies in Jiffest: Waiting for "Superman", Tete de Turc and Joy.

Waiting for "Superman"
Found here

Director: Davis Guggenheim
Duration: 102 minutes

When Peeyutz asked me to watch this movie, I was a bit reluctant. But then she said, it was directed by the same director who made An Inconvenient Truth. So I jumped for it. It's a documentary about the basic and middle education system in the USA. If you're not into documenter, you may not find it interesting. But I love it! 

I'd like to suggest you to read my former Sunday editor's article on this movie. You can click here to read it.

I find it funny how the universe seems to give me things that I need when I'm not even asking. I mean, I currently write education and health issues in my new desk, so watching this movie is really an eye-opening experience.

Tete De Turc (Turk's Head)
Found here

Director: Pascal Elbe
Duration: 87 minutes

The lives of a 14-year-old boy, an ER doctor, a cop looking for revenge, a mother fighting for her children and a man who lost his wife are changing as the boy throws a Molotov cocktail that sends the doctor into coma.

Watched it to brush up my French, but then Pascal Elbe (he plays as Simon, the doctor) was quite handsome:)

Found here

Director: Mijke De Jong
Duration: 75 minutes

Joy is an emotionally unstable 18-year-old girl, who was given up at birth. She grows up in homes with foster families, earns a little by playing accordion in the subway and is a good shoplifter. The movie follows her attempts in finding her biological mother.

She stalks a woman and her daughter, believing that they are her mother and half-sister. But when she learns about their names, she hears a totally strange name. In the end, she leaves things as it is. Ahh, this movie is a bit depressing:(

Friday, December 3, 2010

I Wish I Were Nicholas For A Day

Is your name Nicholas and are you living in Belgium? Then you can have a free entry to the Herge Museum on Dec. 5, the St. Nicholas Day. *Argh, ce n'est pas juste!*

Anyway, what are your plans this weekend? I'm going to spend my Friday to go watch a Jiffest movie, my Saturday for working and my Sunday to my cousin's wedding reception (LB, if you're reading this, I'm coming! So get those extra foods ready for me, ok? LOL). I have weird schedule for my days off nowadays, but I don't really care as long as I have them.

I have yet to know any exciting event around the city. So if you heard anything, just leave the information in the comment box:)

Meanwhile, I'm going to re-read those Tintin comic books.