Friday, August 26, 2016

The Whole Office-Bazaar Hubbub

There was a bazaar organized by a Japanese-themed mall in the office building this week. The items being sold on discount were various, from mattresses, to clothes, to toys, to food. To sum it up, there was something for everyone. Here is several conversation that took place in the office during the bazaar...

How It All Began
Female Boss (FB): Did you see the announcement  downstairs? There's a bazaar. What kind of items will be on sale?
Finance Manager (FM): (produced a brochure) Here it is. I took it at the reception desk
FB: Hmm, thank you (reading the brochure seriously)
(a few minutes before the lunch time)
FB: FM, let's go now before it's too crowded.
FM: Go where?
FB: To the bazaar!

Checking Things Out
(At 12.30 p.m.)
Me: Oh my God, it's so crowded
Colleague #1: Of course, it's lunch time. Everyone comes here to have a look
Me: How about if we come back at 02.30 p.m? The crowd may have dispersed by then
Colleague #1: Ok

At 02.30 p.m.
Me: Oh my God, how come it's still crowded?
Colleague #1: Hmm, perhaps we should come again? At 07.00 p.m.?
Me: Ok

At 07.00 p.m.
Me: Why are these people still come here? Didn't they have homes to go to?
Colleague #1: Hmm, let's just finish it quickly then
Colleague #2: Oh hey, you guys are here again? I thought I saw you a few hours ago

Lipstick Jungle
Situation: one of the items on sale was Purbasari's matte lipstick, which had been getting rave reviews on its durability, lovely colors and other good qualities. Most women bought at least one color of the lipstick series, so we tried each other lipstick to see which suit us best. I had to ask for other people's opinion, and DAP was there...
Day 1
Me: What do you think of this color? (showing my lip to DAP)
DAP: It's good

Day 2
Me: How about this one?
DAP: It's good, it's good

Day 3
Me: Hey, this is actually really good (pointing to cellphone charger cable)
DAP: Ok, which lipstick you're wearing now?
Me: Why does it have to be lipstick? I'm talking about this charger cable
DAP: Because lipstick is the trending topic of this week 

The Power Of Moms
FNA: It's so crowded downstairs, I couldn't buy the Number 90 lipstick
Me: Oh really? I just got myself two lipsticks a few minutes ago (showing the purchased items)
FNA: Oh, but you're a mom. Moms have power girls don't have
Me: You're asking for a spank. I'm not a mom yet, I'm an auntie.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Passing The Test For Master Degree

Today I passed the test for a Master degree for Renewable Energy postgraduate school at a local private university.

I decided to not write anything about it until I'm declared graduated, due to 2 reasons:
1) I was not sure I could graduate because it was another engineering degree, and I was not confident that my old brain was still fit enough to learn the subject  
2) It was not the major of my choice. Rather, it was M&D who forced me to take it. They nagged me for 6 months until I finally relented. I'm too old for this nagging, so I thought, well, I'd give it a shot.

To be honest, if I could choose, I would apply for a scholarship abroad on Communications, because that's what I've been doing for the past 10 years. But M has asked me to stay and help her taking care of D. Being their only child, I didn't have the heart to say no. 

The great thing was: I enrolled the postgraduate school in 2014, along with 10 other people. Class of 2014 is a group of 11 people between 23 years old and 55 years old, with one from Maluku, one from Nusa Tenggara, one from South Sulawesi, one from North Sumatra, and the rest from Java and Madura. So we are quite diverse, in terms of age and ethnic background. But we all took Engineering for our undergraduate degree.

There were only two women in Class 2014: me and another woman (heretofore, let's call her JH). But it was the first time the school had two women in a year. Usually it was all men, or perhaps only one woman. I considered myself very lucky, especially when I found that JH was very supportive.

For the past two years, we had classes every Friday nights and Saturdays. We took part in field visits to two geothermal power plants, one wind power plant and the nuclear power plant in BATAN (I saw the real Uranium glowing beautifully right before my eyes! From a safe distance, of course). Accompanying JH, I even went to an energy-independent village, which was established by my campus. 

So if you read about my trip to such places, now you know why I went there. It was not for work purpose, but study purpose.

Writing the thesis while working the day job has been a real struggle for me. There were moments where I felt like giving up, because the workplace and the campus could have schedules at the same time. Of course, I had to put workplace first, because that's how I could afford the school. But after the work is completed, I would run to campus to work on the thesis again. To all students who work to pay for study, my heart goes to you *grouphug*. 

Anyway, the thesis was finally done and had been defended in front of five lecturers, albeit imperfectly. Lots of revision to work on for the next couple of weeks, but it was finally over, alhamdulillah.

After the test, I was asked to tell my impression during the study there. Here's what I said:
"I remembered that on the first day, Professor asked if I had an idea for the thesis. At that time, I worked at an NGO that had a biomass project in Madura. I didn't know much about renewable energy, so I said, I would do a biomass-related thesis. But two years on, I changed workplace and I learned more about renewable energy, which is not only about biomass, but a myriad of many sources: the sun, the wind, the ocean thermal, the river, the geothermal and of course, the energy audit. Two years ago and today, I have grown to a different person, I've learned a lot about renewable energy. And it's all thanks to you, Professor and other lecturers in this campus."

It was not the major of my choice, but I learned a lot, had great time and made friends with wonderful people. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

A Trip To Mt. Ijen's Blue Fire And Baluran National Park

After the business trip in Surabaya concluded, I went on a trip to Mt. Ijen and Baluran National Park with a group of colleagues. We took Mutiara Timur Siang, a morning train, that depart from Surabaya at 9 a.m. to Banyuwangi.

Map of train network across Java island

We were traveling as a group of 11 people, consisting of 3 men (Marto, Bar-bar and Arfan), 5 women (Me, Pristy, Friz, Deb, and Dwi)  and a family of three (Pak Mahar, wife and daughter).

A small minivan picked us up at the station and we went straight to our hotels to have a short break before dinner. I wrote hotels, because the boys stayed in Berlian Abadi Hotel (the same hotel with Pak Mahar & family), while the girls stay in Mahkota Plengkung Hotel, which is in front of Berlian Abadi Hotel.

We booked the hotel via, and there was a promo from Bank Mega credit card. The only person I know as a Bank Mega CC holder is DAP, so I ask if he could lend us the card, or else (hahaha, I'm exercising my Bibi power here). Being a gentleman, he lent us the card, and being gentlewomen, we gave him the money.

We had dinner at a local restaurant named Manizku (ha!). After dinner, we went to Boom Beach to see a kite festival, which happened to take place that day, but unfortunately there was no wind that night, so the festival was postponed.

We got back to the hotels and had another short break before we started the hike to Mt. Ijen. If you're wondering why we picked this particular little mountain (Google says it's 2,799 meters above the sea level, but local websites say it's around 2,443 meters above the sea level), we did it just to see the world-famous blue fire.

Ijen's blue fire has been documented by National Geographic photographer Olivier Grunewald.

This is a pre-hike photo

There is a small canteen at 2,214 meters above the sea level. 

The hike to the blue fire usually started at 1 a.m., the blue fire is usually showing up between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. and then vanishing at 5 a.m. as the sun drops its morning ray along the ridges of the crater. 

If you choose to start the trek after midnight like I did, bring a flashlight or any kind of lighting device, for the trek to the crater is nature-constructed and you may bump into big rocks or fallen trees. It was really dark, and without the flashlight the only light would be the whole star constellation above our heads.

I am a slow hiker, and soon I was left behind. I guess I have written it somewhere in this blog, and yet I would write it over and over again: know your limit and hike in your pace. Bar-bar kindly adjusted his pace to mine and helped me along the way. Hiking really shows who's the real caring person in the group.

We reached the ridge of crater at around 3.15 a.m. We could see the blue flame down below and started to descent. The trek down below is not for the faint-hearted, for sure. Sometimes we had to wait for our turn to pass because the sulfur miners were making their way up/down. The miners are carrying heavy loads, and it's an act of kindness to let them pass first. I've posted before about the sulfur miners (here and here)

After what seemed like hours (but in fact it was probably around 45 minutes), I finally touched down the bottom of crater and got a better look at the blue fire. The blue fire and the rugged rocky surrounding gave a feeling of out-of-this-world experience. Unfortunately, none of us had good photographic skills, so the pictures were blurry. We sat there in awe, admiring the blue fire flickering above and thanking the Almighty Lord for giving us the strength to reach the spot.

Photo by PB

Soon, the wind was blowing around, and the sulfuric gas cloud enveloped us. We quickly left the spot and climbed up again. The gas is not good on the eyes and lungs, so prepare yourself with proper gear (face mask, for example). I was not really well-prepared, though, I only bring a red wool scarf to cover my nose and mouth, and I even wore mountain sandals to do the hike.

The sun rose not long after we reached the ridge, and it was a eye-opening moment when we realized the trail we passed just a few hours before.

Mt. Ijen Crater Lake

The ridge

A group photo with a majestic view

The view from above

On our way back to the entrance gate

From Mt. Ijen, we went back to hotel, had breakfast, had another quick nap and headed to Baluran National Park, which is often called as the little Africa in East Java. We saw deer and stag, peacock and peahen, long-tailed macaque, and buffaloes.

At Savana Bekol



And that's a wrap. Have a lovely weekend, my lovelies.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Food Tour Around Surabaya

I went to Surabaya a few years ago, and fell in love with the local food even if it was a really brief visit. Last week, I got a chance to come back to the City of Heroes for another business trip and managed to sample even more local delicacies.  Here are the foods I tried during the night jaunts with colleagues, and it does not do justice to the smorgasbord that is Surabaya's food scene.