Highs and Lows of 2014

Its the first day of 2015. As I started the year, cant help but to reflect on what has happened in 2014.

Work wise it has been quite a year. There are plenty of changes in the institution that kept us busy. Moreover, our faculty has additional responsibility as the organizer for our Institute’s 54th Anniversary. It was a huge task with so many drama for me. I will have to write an entire post about it later. But reflecting on it now I am so relieved that we finished the task with a generally good result and I learn so much invaluable lessons from it 😉

Personally, 2014 didn’t give me the chance to add more stamp on my passport nor did it give me the chance to set foot on another island in Indonesia. Still, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, UK, The Netherlands, Italy, France and USA for me. Sadly too, only Java, Bali and Madura in Indonesia so far…I know its pretty bad that I live in a country with over 13000 island, but I have only visited 3??!!! Cmon, this should be high on my new years resolution: see more of Indonesia!!!!!

In May, Hita celebrated her 4th Birthday, and it was the first time that she celebrated it in School. Here she is with her Blue Frozen Ombre Cake 😉

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But, its not all gloomy in the travel department. Though limited in Java and Bali, I managed to take the girls to visit more places. We went home in January. Then again in August. We went to visit Panglipuran, a village in Bangli, Bali that still preserved the traditional Balinese house. After that, we went to Bali Bird Park.

But, the high is immediately followed by low period for me. My body must be so tired that upon our return to Surabaya I got so ill and must be hospitalized. In the first two days the doctor thought that it was just digestive problem that lead to dehydration. After the third day he said that I also got dengue fever. I was so gutted since this was NOT my first case of dengue fever. But it was certainly the worst. I must spent 6 days in the hospital with over 10 needle shots :(( So here comes the second new year resolution. Quite simple: be healthy!! I have to really work hard on this since it has been my resolution in the past 3 years :’)

Luckily, I bounced back and then come December we have got another trip to Bali. This time it was for a conference, followed by holiday. It was my first experience to fly with the girls without their dad (he was the conference organizer so he left earlier). Thankfully, they were in their best behaviour 🙂 We stayed at Sanur Paradise Hotel. It was quite a pleasant stay. After the conference, we went to Bali Zoo where the girls got the chance to take photos with animal…and…rode an Elephant!

When we return a week later, the girls grand mom and cousin visited us in Surabaya. At that time I realized that we rarely explore Surabaya. So in the end we went to the Surabaya Heroes Monument, Monkasel Submarine Monument, Surabaya Night Carnival and Kenjeran Park. It was a really fun time for the girls.

Finally, during the christmas holiday we went to Purwodadi Garden. Unfortunately, we only had a very short time to explore as it started raining. Then we went to Taman Dayu Golf and Resort. The next morning, the girls enjoyed the water park. Before heading back to Surabaya we went up to the Pines Camping Ground. It was really interesting because the place actually rent out Tree Houses and Wooden houses. But I think it was not really fun during rainy season. Wish to rent one of the wooden house in the dry season 😉

Sadly, it was during this time that I first heard the news about AirAsia QZ8501. My deepest condolence to the relatives of the passengers. Hope they will have the strength during this difficult time.

 

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Missing my Homeland – BALI

Temple at Balinese Home
Temple at Balinese Home

Last week, just as I prepared myself for a holiday to my homeland in Bali, I suddenly started humming and recalling so many songs that have been written about home…

“Been around the world,there’s no place like home” East Seventeen

“Another summer day
Has come and gone away
In Paris and Rome
But I wanna go home
Mmmmmmmm” Michael Buble

“Well I’m going home,Back to the place where I belong, And where your love has always been enough for me” Daughtry

And of course the big ballads “Home Sweet Home” from Motley Crue

You know I’m a dreamer
But my heart’s of gold
I had to run away high
So I wouldn’t come home low
Just when things went right
It doesn’t mean they were always wrong
Just take this song, and you’ll never feel
Left all alone

Take me to your heart
Feel me in your bones
Just one more night
And I’m comin’ off this
Long & winding road

I’m on my way
I’m on my way
Home sweet home…
Tonight, tonight
I’m on my way
I’m on my way
Home sweet home…

I guess home and our feelings about it have been the source of inspiration for so many artists 😀

There is an expression that says “Home is where your heart is” which I think means that your home is where you lived with the people you love. By this definition, my home is in Surabaya because me, my husband and two girls currently lived there. But, deep in my heart I always miss my homeland, BALI. Most of our family still lived in Bali. I also miss the landscape, the environment, the culture, and the food ^^

I miss the familiar trees like Kamboja and Coconut trees mixed in between people homes.

A popular flower tree in Balinese homes
A popular flower tree in Balinese homes

All of these element have changed since my childhood. But, thankfully, I still can find one of my favorite food: Jukut Undis..it’s a kind of soup made from black soybean. It’s really spicy and tasty. Yummy!!! try it if you visit Bali. Unlike many traditional Balinese food that have gone national even international like Betutu, Plecing Kangkung I’m pretty sure you can only find it in Bali 🙂

Undis - traditional Balinese Soup made of Black Soybean
Undis – traditional Balinese Soup made of Black Soybean

The mystery of my Indonesian Face

One of the things that I really enjoyed during my stay in England is the opportunity to meet so many new people from various different countries and backgrounds. I have shared a flat with girls from Mexico, Taiwan, Syria, Nigeria, Brazil, India, and China! My friends during my master course were from all over the world: England, France, Dutch, Germany, Thailand, Malaysia, India, Korea, Mexico, Mauritius and many many more.

It is really interesting to hear about their countries, custom and of course their foods. It was during my stay in England that I fell in love with Thai Foods because I have got so many Thai friends and they all somehow cook very well. I also get to know Indian and Mexican foods because I’ve got Indian and Mexican friends who love to cook and invite me over…

One of the thing that I found quite amusing when I converse in this multicultural environment is the fact that people really could not identify where I came from. Sometimes I met kids on the street, who will yell “Ni Hau Ma” to me…so they think I am Chinese 😀

Even one of the most senior lecturer in my department find it hard to figure out my nationality. I remember he asked me during our earliest meeting “Are you Nepalese?” Well, I was quite astonished, from Nepal? Really, I thought. (later I searched around and yes indeed, I can pass as a Nepalese :D).

NO, I said…He tried again “Philipino?” No, but close. “Malaysia?” Wrong again…then he finally gave up. When I said, I am from Indonesia, he finally said…”ahhhh, yeahhh, how could I not guessed that 🙂 well, at least he knows about Indonesia. Sometimes, I am really sad if I mentioned Indonesia and see the look of confusion in the face of the person’s that I am talking too…Then I will have to take out my most trusted weapon “well, do you know Bali?” and I will usually get the answers that I am looking for. They will either said, yes, they know or heard about Bali. Then I will carry on to explain that Bali is actually an island in Indonesia 🙂

My Lucky Shot of Songan!

Like many of my fellow Indonesian and perhaps Asian, I used to really like getting photographed in various situations. Be it with my family, friends or striking a pose in front of statue, places of interests, landscape…basically getting myself into the picture.
But as I went and study in England, I found myself being teased by my friends for standing in front of an object and getting photographed. For some reasons, they feel that the object is much more important then putting our face in front of it 😀 I once argued, then how could we remember those moments when we visited the object and they said, “do you want to remember the place or your face” haha..so, gradually, I get into the habit of taking picture of my surroundings, objects and things that intrigued me..

Still, I am not a professional photographer. In fact, unlike many “amateur” photographer that become increasingly sophisticated, my camera was really standard ..Just a pocket camera ^^
But every now and then, I got lucky…I ended up with a picture that I found really really unique and beautiful. The last picture that I am really proud was this picture here. At the moment I used it as my header 🙂

Just grew, just harvested and a Tree

I took it during our vacation in Songan, Kintamani, Bangli. The kids really want to go the lake…So we crossed the fields. I actually hurried back to get my pocket camera…All the way there I just snapped my camera without actually thinking about the results. So I was really surprised to see how it turn out.

The picture captured two fields with such a different conditions, one just harvested and empty field, and the other just being planted with shallots…and there is a fine tree that separates the two fields almost in the middle. Really great.

A photograph can show you something that you missed out in reality 🙂

Songan – My World’s End

Its funny how life turns out the way it is…

The year was 1992. I was in the final year of senior high school. It was term break, and my friend and I were really keen on going camping. My dad was out of town, so I went only with permission from my mom. Sorry Dad, now you know this secret from up there…Anyway, around ten of us went by car, and some with motorcycle…We didn’t know yet where we would camp, we just knew that it will be around Toya Bungkah. We knew the place because my high school always have inauguration for freshmen there…But, as we arrived there, we found that we needed permission to camp there…then we drove again and found another place nearby…a field by the lake…but, we weren’t allowed…so we passed Toya Bungkah through a very condensed village called Songan…I remembered I felt so strange as we passed that village. The narrow streets were surrounded by small houses, yet there were no fences between the houses! I think the center of the village lies around 1 kilometer stretch of that street! The faces look unfamiliar to us, not threatening but full of curiosity. It was totally beyond of what I have known at that time. As we passed the streets, the houses became scarcer replaced by lots of vegetables fields. Then we reached the end of the road. We parked our vehicles outside Pura Ulun Danu. This temple is very famous among Balinese. Perhaps, it is probably the main reason that people travel all the way here..I don’t know how, my friend manage to get permission for us to camp in one of an empty field, just by the lake. In the end we put our tent there. It was freezing cold during the night. The next morning, my friend hurried us to leave because apparently he saw something strange when he was on the watch the night before. He said it looks like a light crossing the hill across the lake. Most of us already imagined that it was some mystical creature…but, we never knew what it was. It could be a shooting stars..but we all realized that we have probably trespassed somebody elses property. So, we cut our camping short and head home. But, that one night camp remained in my memory until now…

The year was 2000, when my husband (then still my fiancée), took me to his home to meet my future mother and father in law. He already told me that he came from Songan. But, never did I imagine that his house was just 500 meters from where we camped in 1992!

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This is a place that I call home now. Here, is my sanctuary… Where I can escape from all the burden of work for a while…Being here is like being at world’ end. Literally, because our humble home is surrounded by hills…About a few hundred meters in front of us is the lake…So we have got quite a view..

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The weather in Songan is quite cold compared to Denpasar or Surabaya. The people in Songan mostly are farmers. They grow shallots, tomatoes, chillies, cabbages and different types of nuts.

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Although we have got a decent road, but the infrastructure remains to the minimal. We only have 400KWH of electricity, so at nite we have to use it wisely.

Whenever I’m in Songan, I can appreciate all the little things that I often took for granted…

 

Galungan

It is the day when the good prevails against the evil.
Starting from last Monday to next Saturday is probably the best time to be in Bali if you wanna learn about the blend of religion/culture…
The Penjor on the streets…the colourful offerings and the mystifying smell of the incents…
Really miss the atmosphere…
May this day brings the goods in all humand kind.