Friday, May 31, 2013

Cute Shirts For Cute Little Boys

Photo source

It's always easy to dress up little girls because there are so many cute dresses/shoes/accessories designed for girls. My former colleague and mother of a one-year-old son Nissa, who established Muscingcraft over two years ago, wants to show that little boys can both be dapper and adorable. The patterns make me wishing that I have two little boys. Ha!

Unfortunately, these shirts do not come in cheap because she uses imported materials. I wonder if there is a manufacturer who can produce self-designed fabrics with affordable prices here in Indonesia. I'm sure Nissa can come up with some amazing ones.
Have a wonderful weekends, y'all! :)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Top 10 Questions An Indonesian Will Likely Encounter In His/Her Lifetime

As much as I don't like stereotyping, I couldn't help noticing that many Indonesians (if not all of them) tend to ask personal (and nagging) questions, even to people they barely know. They may sound innocent and harmless, but they are usually followed by a series of (even more nagging) questions.

Some may argue that they do it out of courtesy, but during the sensitive times, these questions (and the follow-up ones) are not a good way to kick start a conversation. Indonesians are people-oriented and want to know more about other people. Perhaps this is why we have so many infotainment shows on the TVs.
Here are some questions that I gather based on my own and my friends' experiences.
1. Which school did you go to?
I've got this question all the way from elementary school to university. While this question seems harmless, there are follow-up questions that may tickle some sensitive nerves, such as "What is your ranking/GPA?", "Which year are you now?" or "When are you graduating?" (and then they will compare you with someone's kid who can finish university in 3.5 years. Ouch.)

2. Where do you work?
Remember this post? Again, this question sounds innocent. But if a random person sitting next to you in TransJakarta asks this question, you may wonder: why would they need to know? My friend @alfianindris says,"Sometimes people ask this question not because they care but because they see you wearing very casual clothes yet holding the latest gadget, so they are just curious."

3. On marital status
There are two versions for this category: "When are you getting married?" (usually asked by close relatives, friends) or "Are you married?" (by people who just know you). And if you are single, be prepare for the judgmental closing statement:"You're picky, that's why you stay single." Ack! I've written a counter-attack reply on this post.

4. Where do you live?
In Indonesia, if you are single, it is considered normal to live at your parents' home. After you're married, it is also still normal to stay in the parents' home but the society deem that the right answer for this question would be anywhere but there. I'm sure everyone would love to have a space on their own but there are circumstances that force people to stay, such as rising home mortgages and ailing parents.

5. Are you pregnant (yet)? 
When asked to a single woman with a chubby tummy (points to self), this is a serious case of defamation. I've learned to not ask this question, even to a married friend who is very dear to me. Another version of this question is "Are you planning to have children?" Hmm.

6. Pregnancy-related questions
My pregnant friends say that the questions they get during the nine-month period include "How far along are you?", "What is the baby's gender?", "When is it due?" and "How come you do not have big belly yet?" (for expecting mothers in the first or second trimester).

7. Post-partum questions
The most infamous questions that fall in this category are...(can you guess?) "So when are you planning to have another child?" and "Are you going back to work after the parental leave is over?" (usually to the working moms).

8. When are you planning to go on a pilgrimage (or any religious place according to your belief)?
I seriously don't know why people even bother to ask this question. They are not going to pay the air fare anyway.

9. Are you celebrating Idul Fitri or Christmas?
I haven't gotten this question since I wore hijab. But in the past, I got this a lot. Sometimes, when I was hanging out with my Catholic friends, a guy would ask which parochial I went to. Perhaps wanting to go to church together? :P

10. Where do you come from?
You may think that they are asking your hometown, but they are actually asking your ethnicity. I've been getting this question many many times because I don't have any accent and I have a generic Indonesian face. Indonesia has more than 300 ethnic groups, with each group having its own language, so it's only natural that each person come from a different place. But instead of finding differences, we should just focus on the similarities. My answer to this question? I'm an Indonesian.

Has anyone asked you one of the questions above? Which annoys you most? Do you have other annoying questions people ask you?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Classic Beauty

Dancers from the Jawa Padnecwara troupe perform Sekar Putri during the Lelangen Beksan Javanese classical dance event at the Taman Ismail Marzuki arts center in Central Jakarta on Saturday. The event presents classic and newly created dances until Sunday. (JP/Wendra Ajistyatama) Source

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

That Primal Protective Paternal Feeling

Wouldn't this be perfect for a Father's Day gift? :P Source

I read this article in ANN and D came to mind:). Just like mothers would feel that an ordinary woman would never be enough for their sons, I'm sure fathers feel the same way about men dating their daughters. The article may be about teenagers, but those are pretty much applicable for adults as well. Read it and let me know what you think:).

Meanwhile, here are several conversations I've had with D about other men :P.

#1. Safety Driving Tips For A Future Father-In-Law
Situation: when I was a little kid, we would go to Kebumen, M's hometown, to celebrate Idul Fitri. We were on the road in our humble family car when D started to speed up and did some manoeuvrings.
M: Don't drive too fast!
D: We need to arrive in Kebumen soon, right?
M: The driver in that car we passed just now could have been our future in-laws. What if they cancel our daughters' marriage once they saw that you're the driver who drive recklessly?
D: (resumed to driving slowly)

#2. Go Fast And Furious Or Go Home 
Situation: D was speeding up again, this time I was in my twenties.
M: Don't drive too fast!
Me: Yes, D. They could be our future in-laws (trying to look serious).
D: Well, if they want to be part of my family, they should know how to drive fast.

#3. One Of The Requirements To Be D's Son-In-Law (Seriously)
Situation: I was driving because D was not fit to drive.
D: I wish I have I son-in-law who can drive me around.
Me: Are you looking for a son-in-law or a driver? Am I not a good driver for you?
D: You are too slow
(In my defense, I drive slowly when M&D are in the car with me. If the passengers are my friends, then you'd better buckle up the seat belt for some serious driving :P).

Speaking of fast cars, have you watched Fast and Furious 6? If you like cars, cliche Hollywood ending and are in the mood of light movies, you may enjoy the latest series. Indonesian actor and former judo athlete Joe Taslim also plays in the movie. Although he is playing as Jah, one of the bad guys, he gets many close up scenes, has several minutes of fighting scene with Han (Sung Kang) and Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and even says one line in Bahasa Indonesia.

Have a safe drive, my friends!

Monday, May 27, 2013

TransJakarta Now Has Electronic Ticketing System

Hello everybody, I'm back...not from a holiday, not from an assignment in a faraway land, but from a pit that was writer's block. Hahaha. I wish I could say that it's the work load that kept me away last week (which is also true), but work has never kept me away from blogging so yeah, it's one of those writer's block moments.
Now that I'm back, how are you? How is life? Have you gotten your e-money card for TransJakarta? I have gotten not only one card, but two :).

Jakarta busway company TransJakarta has rolled a campaign to introduce its electronic ticketing system, and boy, this is a perfect time to own all electronic money cards at no cost. I now own BCA Flazz card and BNI Prepaid card.

As a BCA customer, I've been wanting to own a BCA Flazz card, which can be used to shop at various merchants. Unfortunately, we used to have to pay Rp 25,000 to get it. While the amount of money is quite affordable, I find it ridiculous to pay for a service that the bank should provide for free. (Do I hear a 'yeah' from you guys?)

Back to TransJakarta, which partners with BCA, BNI, BRI, Bank Mandiri and Bank DKI to support the new ticketing system. Passengers can own one of the cards simply by paying Rp 50,000, which also contain that amount of money, meaning the card is free! Yay!

I love the electronic payment system as it will cut down the paper trash volume from busway stations (the previous ticket system includes paper tickets that most passengers toss away once they pass the barrier). Don't you feel sorry for the paper tickets? A friend kept the tickets and re-purposed them as small notebooks. I've been keeping those tickets to doodle on them. (Please tell me I'm not the only one?)

It will take some time to get used to the new ticket (we need to place the card on the machine and wait for about 30 seconds, which is quite a long time when you're in a rush), but I'm optimistic that more people will join the band.

To add the credit, cardholders can top up in ATMs or certain busway stations that have the machine. This means that we don't have to be a customer at the card issuer bank. Double yay!

And if TransJakarta decided to stop using the electronic ticket like Jakarta railway company PT  KRL did, I could still use the card for other purposes. But I do hope the bus company continues with the card.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Incidental Comics On Iconic Houses

As a former architecture student, this comic is right up my alley. Thank you, Grant Snider for brightening up my day :). Found here

Monday, May 13, 2013

A Syrian Mother

Tens of thousand of Syrian refugee women have been forced to leave their husbands and homes and escape with their children to neighborhood countries.

Iftikar Hsaiian came three days ago from Syria to Lebanon. Three o'clock at night her husband woke her up and forced her and the children to leave they home immediately without any belongings. She was hiding many weeks in forests and empty buildings until she walked across the border carrying her small child while Syrian officials shot bullets to their group. Last news she knows is that her husband was wounded in the battle.

"Insha'Allah, only God knows if we will meet ever again."
Text and photo are by Meeri Koutaniemi, found here

Friday, May 10, 2013

Festivals That Require A Waterproof Camera

Now that I have a waterproof camera, which has survived Songkran Festival, I've been thinking to bring it to attend other festivals that require a waterproof/shockproof/dustproof quality. While no tickets have been bought (I will need to take a break from holiday as I've spent various currencies last month, from Indonesian Rupiah to Malaysian Ringgit to Thailand Baht to Cambodian Riel to US Dollar. I don't regret a single dime, though, the traveling experience is priceless) and these are just wishful thinking, one can always hope someone from Pentax would read the post and help make this girl's dreams come true. Ha!

Here they are, in no particular order... 

Holi Festival in India

Known as Festival of Colors, Holi Festival celebrates the beginning of spring (just like Songkran), usually in February or March. During the event, participants hold bonfire and throw colored powder or colored water at each other.

Clean Monday in Galaxidi, Greece

Despite the name, the festival that marks the end of carnival season and the start of 40-day Greek Orthodox Lent period is not clean. Revelers fling pounds of starch to each other during this day-long flour fight. Locals usually cover buildings with tarp as the stains do not come off easily. This festival may not involve liquid, but of course you'll need to wash the dust off your camera.

La Tomatina Festival in Bunol, Spain

This is what waterproof camera is for :). Source

The festival is held on the last Wednesday of August in Bunol, Valencia.  While it is an event that sees tomatoes go to waste (I like tomatoes!), it is a good place to give a new purpose to an old T-shirt. Also, I can visit my friend Santiago and his family in Madrid (Bunol is only four hours by train from Spain's capital).

Boryeong Mud Festival in Seoul, South Korea

Established in 1998, the festival was initially staged to promote Boryeong mud-based cosmetics. The festival takes place over a period of two weeks, with the final weekend usually falls on the second weekend of July. There will be mud pool, mud slides and mud skiing competition.

If you have a waterproof camera, what kind of festival you will attend?

Have a fantastic weekend :)

Friday, May 3, 2013

Back To Kuala Lumpur

We flew back to KL on April 20 with basically no plan. After all, the only reason KL was in my trip itinerary because I wanted to visit my friend Tika. Fortunately, Tika had arranged a small city tour for us. So when our bus from LCCT reached KL Sentral, we were taken to the palaces.

But first, we had lunch at Wondermama Restaurant at Bangsar Village.

From left to right: 3-Layer Bandung (I forgot what it's made of), flower arrangement for our table and Asam Boi (tamarind and lemon with 7-Up)

I forgot the name of this dish

And also this dish

Chicken pongteh

Nasi Lemak 2.0

Nasi Lemak 4.0

Dessert is fried banana with ice cream and marshmallow

Enough with the food porn. Let's continue to the palaces. There are two palaces in KL. The new one, Istana Negara (State Palace), and the old one, Istana Negara Lama.

We couldn't come close to the palace so we only took photos from the gate and then flirted with the palace guard. I think the guard is afraid of us :)

Afterwards, we went to Istana Lama, where the guard was more than happy to take picture with us :P

From Istana Lama, we returned to Tika and Budi's home to take a rest before we delivered Aneen to KL Sentral as her flight was scheduled to leave 15minutes before 11 p.m.

This kid was so excited to see the dark tunnel along the LRT track

From KL Sentral, we made a stop at Petronas twin tower to take the night photo

It is also entertaining to see how people try to beat their camera's limitation in order to take good photos :D
I managed to contact my yoga friend Ririn, who also relocated to KL two years ago. We agreed to meet in the morning on April 21, just several hours before my departure. We had breakfast at Village Par restaurant, the same eatery I went to on my first day in KL, because her house is just a couple of blocks away. Hahaha, if I knew it on the first place, I would have asked her to join me then.

I shall soon come back to KL and visit you two, girls!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Explore Angkor

After we passed the Thailand-Cambodia border posts, we were told to board a small bus, which later took us to a bus terminal, which looks like a hangar. We already purchased the bus ticket to Siem Reap, so we waited for the bus. Two hours later the bus arrived. 

Tips #1: If you go in small group (3-4 persons) and have limited time, just buy the bus ticket to the border. After crossing the border, you can continue with taxi or minivan, much quicker than waiting for the bus. Be sure to check the rental price in travel forums.

Anyway, the bus trip to Siem Reap actually took two hours, but our bus stopped at a small eatery for one hour, so that we arrived later than expected. The bus suddenly made a turn to a dark road, where it stopped at a bus pool. They told all passengers to hop off. Soon, a group of tuk-tuk drivers swarmed around to offer their service. Most demanded a fee of 150 Baht or US$ 10. Whoa!

Tips #2: While Cambodia has local currency Cambodian Riel, US dollars are widely used. 1 US$ = 4,000 Riel. If you have dollars, don't change to Riel. It's easier and more comfortable to carry US dollars.

We ignored them and just walked to the main road, where there were more lights and tuk-tuk drivers. We were approached by a tuk-tuk driver, who was willing to drop the fee to US$3.

When we were at the borders, we met two Indonesians who said they were staying at Rosy Guesthouse. We thought let's take a look at the place. When we got there, we saw the place had a restaurant and a bar, which was full. Again, we decided to leave the place.

The tuk-tuk driver said he knew a hotel, which is near the Old Market, Central Market and Night Market, and offered to take us there. We thought why not. The place, The Mekong Bed and Breakfast, looked quiet when we got there. The receptionist offered a room with twin bed, AC, bathroom ensuite and TV, a bit too much from our usual humble room. However, it would be the last hotel and we had saved our money throughout the trip, so we checked in.

At night, we went around to find a travel agent to book tickets to Kuala Lumpur. Since the price the agent quoted was quite high (and it excluded the baggage pricing), we decided to go to the airport and bought the tickets there. We didn't bought tickets to KL in the first place because Aneen was thinking to go to Phnom Penh. After we calculated it, flying from Phnom Penh to KL would mean more budget. So from Siem Reap it is.

The next day, we took a ride with the tuk-tuk driver from the night before to the airport, bought the tickets to KL and then to the Angkor Wat complex. We took the one-day ticket and did big tour. I don't suggest to take the one-day tour because by the end of the day, we were spent. Angkor is a massive complex of temples that it is best to digest it slowly.

Here are the photos. I'm sure there are many photos of Angkor out there on the Internet, so I'll just post the details.

The before-the-tour-start photo: ready to take over the world.

Almost all parts of Angkor Wat are adorned with bas-reliefs

At Ta Prohm

The after-the-tour photo: too tired to smile. At Bayon

But I guess all those exercise paid of if you could watch the sun set from the top of Phnom Bakheng

We walked to the Night Market to find something to eat and perhaps souvenirs. We had dinner at one of the halal Indian restaurants along the market but no souvenirs that caught our eyes/hearts/wallets. We took another tour around the Old Market and Central Market the next day, but still no luck in souvenirs. Oh well, I took some pictures as souvenirs, though. 

Despite the brightness, this photo was taken at night

These are lip balm. US$5 each.

A corner on Pub Street and a Transformer tuk-tuk:)

A group of people had foot massages while (most probably) updated their Facebook status on their gadget. Humble they may appear, but some road side foot massage shops in Siem Reap actually offer free Wi-Fi!

At Old Market

I think those were dried octopus and fishes, but I'm not sure.

These may be the grim portrayals of how Tintin would look had he went to Cambodia

Overland Border Crossing: Malaysia-Thailand And Thailand-Cambodia

Before I continue my travel stories in Cambodia, I'd like to take you to the issue of overland border crossing. As a citizen of a third world country, I have faced the problem of securing visa before entering first world countries. I'm sure all Indonesian passport holders who have been to many places would agree with me.

It was during this trip that I really enjoyed being a citizen of South East Asian nations. 

Indonesia and nine other countries (Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Brunei, the Philippines, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar) are members of ASEAN, a geo-political and economic organization. The ASEAN members apply the free-visa policy for intra-ASEAN travel, except Myanmar that still obliges citizens of ASEAN nations to apply for visa. This year, Myanmar becomes the ASEAN chairman, so perhaps there is hope for new visa policy.  

While other European/American citizens sat on the sideline, waiting for their Visa On Arrival procedure to complete, Aneen and I and other citizens of ASEAN countries literally walked past the borders easily that it felt like visiting the good-looking guy next door :).

I heart you, ASEAN countries that have opened the visa policy! (Dear Myanmar government, I hope you get the message. Sincerely, Future Visitor)

Let's start with the Malaysia-Thailand overland border crossing. Since we took a bus, we left Malaysia through Chungloon (or Changloon) and entered Thailand through Sadao. 

The bus driver arranged for the papers and we only had to show them to the immigration officers, who stamped our passports quickly. They didn't ask where we were staying at and how long we would stay, which you would encounter when visiting first world countries.

The bus dropped us in the border posts in Chungloon. While we walked to the posts, the bus rode past us on the left lane and waited on us

We handed over our passport and visa papers that we got from our bus driver, got our passports stamped and hopped on the bus again. The bus drove for several hundreds meters until we reached Sadao, where we repeated the procedure.
The Thai border posts in Sadao.

For the Thailand-Cambodia border, in which we also took a bus, we stopped at the Thai border in Aranyaprathet, walked for about 100 meters (yes, it's that close) to the Cambodian border of Poipet and had our passports cleared within minutes.

Thailand border

Cambodian border

Welcome to Cambodia!

Entering a country overland needs more time than going by airplane. But you get to see the scenery and glimpses of the people's daily lives.  

With the ease on visa requirements, other ASEAN countries could be my future holiday destination. The Philippines, Laos and Brunei, be ready to be my host :).