Endless Journey of Learning to Let Go

I had a bit of misfortune couple days ago. Well, to say ‘a bit’ might be an understatement. I had a fucking disaster, is the perfect expression.

It was one of those days when I need an escape. Over the past few weeks, I have been researching about Philippines. Hmm, sounds nice. Beautiful beach, quiet island, and a place that I never been to before. I have made the itineraries, and of course, me being me, would not have enough money to afford the trip. So instead, I settle for

Pelabuhan Ratu

Well, that’s quite anti-climax.

But you know, from the website it looks okay. It’s not too far from where I live, and the beach looks good enough, for someone who just want to contemplate, that is. So off I go. With motorbikes.

During the journey, I was holding my phone the whole time, checking if I’m in the right way through the maps. I have the battery pack and the charger on my hoodie pocket, so it’s handy. I have only got my red backpack, the jansport that I have owned since more than 6 years ago when I got my first paycheck. Put all my things in there; clothes, passport, ATM, kindle, books…

And I lost it, I lost the bag, I can’t believe I lost the bag, just literally a kilometer away before I reach my hostel after 4 hours driving.

I was trying to get the bag back, when the people in that crowded street yelled that my bag was dragged by a car. I chased the car. Couldn’t find my bag. And lost it forever.

I was crying. I mean, how can’t I? Everything I love is in there. Especially kindle. And I am crying again now while writing this. It was a gift from someone that is so important to me, and I have had it for about two years now. Always with me everywhere, my companion when I’m waiting for my flight or when I don’t want to be bothered by my surrounding. And now it’s gone. With all the memories I had in there. Gone.

I cry for a good 10 minutes after realizing I couldn’t get my bag back, then I knew I had to do something. There were two choices: I could leave and go back to my parents house and spend the rest of my holiday being miserable…or stayed on my holiday and being miserable on the beach. After all, the hostel has been paid and I have got enough money to survive for two days.

I decided to stay. The hostel I stayed in was called BW Beach Cafe and Villas, owned by a surfer and his family, German-Indonesian couple. The wife is Indonesian, and I told her about my unfortunate incident. She lend me some of her dress, cute summer dresses! My mood surely has elated because of that.

My room was exceptionally comfortable. It was just by the beach, overlooking the sea with bamboo wall. The bed was simple, but makes me like home. No air-con, but the weather was chilly enough I don’t have to sleep in sweat. That night, I was put to bed by the sound of the waves crashing to the sea.

 

I woke up the next day, already forgetting about my lost bag. Nah, I’m kidding. Still think about it, but at least last night I have reported the incident to local police, which located only 2 minutes walk from my hotel. With their letter, I could get my ATM, passport and ID back soon as I return to my home. I’m trying to forget that I lost the kindle. I couldn’t. What do you know? It seems like a sign from the universe somehow.

I was supposed to be staying for only one day because I don’t have enough money. But the owner was very friendly, they talked me into staying for another night. Money is still the problem, so they said I could rent the pavilion by the beach (still inside the property) for only Rp100,000! I was tempted and I said, well, it’s really no harm staying for another day.

They fixed the pavilion to make it a little more cozy for me to sleep in. Put some makeshift curtain to protect me from the strong wind of the sea. And voila, my private beach villa.

This impulsive turns out to be quite all right in the end, despite me losing a lot of things on my pre-departure. I am very lucky to stay in a warm hostel, very friendly owner that helped me a lot. I still have got everything I need, still have my phone. It could have been worse. It really could.

In the absence of book and kindle, I spend a lot of my time just contemplating, taking a really long walk on the beach. It’s cliche af but I was trying to search in my brain the word ‘let go’. Some things, at the end, need to fall apart to make way for better things. Maybe.

I thought I have managed that, until that last morning in Pelabuhan Ratu I sat on one of the boulders on the beach, watching the sunrise. Pink Floyd singing in my ears.

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“Encumbered forever by desire and ambition
There’s a hunger still unsatisfied
Our weary eyes still stray to the horizon
Though down this road we’ve been so many times”

If it is meant to be, it will be.

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Good Bye

Your flight delayed is nothing new if you live in Indonesia. Even though recently one of our airport earn appreciation as the most punctual airport in South East Asia (beating Changi Airport, can you believe that?), delay is inevitable. I was supposed to get on the plane 45 minutes ago and yet still no sign from the airline for our boarding time.

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“We are very apologize for the inconvenience, the flight will most likely ready to board the passenger in an hour.” said the announcement. I hear groan everywhere in the waiting room. “Susan. My flight is delayed, again. You don’t have to pick me up at the airport, I’ll take the taxi by myself” “Angela, I told you not to book a flight with this airline! It has been delayed for 45 minutes and more, now I’m going to be very late!” “Tony, can you please reschedule the meeting to tomorrow? My flight is delayed, I don’t think I could make it there on time.” Suddenly the room fill with the air of frustration, impatience. But I don’t mind. Unexpectedly, I actually enjoyed being delayed to leave Jakarta.

What can I say about this city? I wasn’t born here, wasn’t actually growing up here either but I do spend my adult life in this city, the capital city of my country. Growing up moving here and there once in every 3-5 years, I couldn’t remember most of my childhood. We moved here 11 years ago, and decided Jakarta would be our place to grow old. At least until now.

I know some people think that love at first sight is bullshit, but that’s how I feel about Jakarta. When you spend your time moving here and there, not settling, the idea of finally having a place you can call home is comforting. That you know, you’d still wake up there every morning, feel the same air, and expect the same thing every day. It might sounds boring but not for me. I did not know this before, but apparently I like the idea of settling down.

But everything has its expiration date. After 10 years, things start to fell apart. Everything I love about this city start to bite me in the ass. Maybe that is why people said living in Jakarta is like having a relationship with abusive lover; it kills you to stay with them but kills you more if you leave.

I’m no longer enjoy walking around the city; things I used to be so fond of for years. Everything getting too expensive; impossible to live here with my current salary. There are many new places opening, but none of them are attractive to me; they all sale the same thing: Instagram friendly interior and shitty food. Every morning, I keep waking up with grudge and crankiness, wishing I was somewhere else.

Which is weird that when the opportunity arise, I was hesitate.

It was about 6 months ago, when my boss called and said they would move me to our branch in Hong Kong. I’d still be in the same position as I am now, but with better salary. And a chance to start a new life in a new city, new country. It was a privilege indeed, and I feel like my wish to leave this god-awful city has been granted. But I told my boss that I need to think this through. “3 months,” he said. I have three months to think about it.

God. It’s true what they say, be careful what you wish for.

“You keep whining about how terrible your life is in Jakarta. That you really want to live somewhere else. Now you have the opportunity to leave, and you scared?” said Sharon, my best friend. We were having beer in my pub; one of many of my ‘den’ in this city. It was quiet that night, only few regular sitting in. I didn’t respond to that, and start scraping the label on my Bintang instead. A habit that I used to do when I feel stressed out. “Look, I know what it is. You are scared. You’ve been in this city long enough that you are comfortable with it and afraid of starting your life in a new place. But what’s the point of staying in something that doesn’t make you happy anymore?” she continued. I shrugged, taking another sip of my beer. “If you can’t be with the one you love, would you settle for the one who loves you?” I ask her. “What the fuck does that have to do with you moving to a new country?” she laughed.

I love this city, but it doesn’t love me anymore. No matter what I do, we wouldn’t get along well. We are tired of each other, but I couldn’t just leave it. It is true what Sharon said, I am afraid. But rather than afraid of moving to a new place, I am more afraid of leaving Jakarta. My relationship with this city has been sickening lately, but what if it could get better? What if I could give it another chance, I probably would love it even more. Maybe there is something that I haven’t done yet to make me feel happier in this city, and I just don’t want to leave without fighting for it.

“There is a limit of fighting for something, you know. Sometime the answer is just to leave,” she said. “I am very sad to know that you are not going to be in this city anymore, but I just want you to be happy. I feel sorry seeing you waking up miserably and crying yourself to sleep every night. You need to give yourself a chance, with something new,”

“Everyone brave is forgiven, said Chris Cleave,” I murmured. “There you go,” she raised her glass.

Jakarta is everything I know in my whole adult life. I know where I can get my favourite food, a park where I can just sit and enjoy the world, a friendly pub to wind up after a long day…and most importantly, this city hold an abundance of memories that I can never forget. I can’t count how many new experience I had in this city, whether it’s good or bad. They tied me to Jakarta, I couldn’t just leave it like that.

In short, loving Jakarta is very easy. But staying in love with it, is not.

I believe we only got one chance of meeting our soulmate, and I believe I’ve met one: it’s Jakarta. What if I cannot find the same thing that I love about this city in the new place?

“That is the good thing about moving to a new place: you get a fresh start. You’ve learned a lot in Jakarta, the good and the bad, maybe that is what the city is for you; a place to learn. It’s not for you to settling down, it’s to prepare you for a greater journey,” Sharon conclude. I don’t have anything to respond to that.

And here I am, 6 months later, in the airport to my new home. I started doing my farewell to my family and friends since a month ago and I didn’t feel sad at all. I drink for the last time in my pub last night and didn’t feel anything. It just hits me now.

That I won’t be coming back here to Jakarta, at least for quite a long time. That I won’t be able to snuggle in its comfort anymore, to have another unexpected adventure that has been filling my days in this city since 11 years ago. That I, finally, moving on. And like Sharon said, a greater journey awaits me. I thought I’d move on with happy smile on my face; but it appears to be that getting what you want can be heartbreaking too.

“Good afternoon passengers. This is the pre-boarding announcement for flight 89B to Hong Kong. We are now inviting those passengers with small children, and any passengers requiring special assistance, to begin boarding at this time. Please have your boarding pass and identification ready. Regular boarding will begin in approximately ten minutes time, thank you.”

I wipe the tears off of my face, and walk to the boarding gate. Thank you for the memories, Jakarta. Good bye.

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*Fiction. Some people might understand that ‘Jakarta’ is a metaphor for something else.

Blue

Everytime somebody ask me what my favourite colour is, I always have different answer. When I was teenager; black. When I started my flirting years, it was red. If you asked me two years ago, it was blue.

Maybe unconsciously I always like the colour blue. Every time I travel, it always has blue on it; blue sky, turquoise water. Anyone who knows me well understand how much I love the sea. Let’s go on snorkeling! Let’s sleep under the sun all day!

The recent blue I love I saw it when on a business trip to a place I never been to before; Gorontalo. I was pretty scared at first because their airport was just recently open after a bit of mishap, when a plance slide off the runway because it was raining. The news I read said that it has been raining in Gorontalo for a week, probably not a good time to visit. What do you know; two days I was there it was sunny all day, the sky was striking blue. The view from the plane’s window shows no boundary between the sea and the sky, both are beautifully blue. I couldn’t be happier.

Joni Mitchell once sings about Blue.

Blue songs are like tattoos/You know I’ve been to sea before/Crown and anchor me/Or let me sail away…

Like Mitchell, I was in love with the colour of blue once, the ones in someone’s eyes. I witnessed how the blue can be playful, loving, funny, and calming, and then it turned into strange, disappointing look. That was the last time I saw the blue and I thought I could never love that colour again.

This time it wasn’t blue. It was green, with a slightly brown (or was it grey?) highlight and somehow I can feel that it contained wisdom. It looked at me lovingly yet I cannot look back. As asshole and cliche and impossible it sound (plus the fact that I probably just looking for excuses), perhaps it’s because they weren’t blue.

Medan Trip: A Reset

It’s funny how our brain works sometimes. It tends to forget things that make you upset.

I had another business trip last week, to Medan, North Sumatra. I was quite thrilled because I used to live in the city more than 10 years ago. I lived there when I was on the 5th grade, all the way to 7th and then moved to Pekanbaru, Riau.

I still remember vaguely how hesitant I was to moved from Bogor to Medan; all my friends were in Bogor, I’m afraid of all the new people I’m going to meet, I’m scared that I wouldn’t be able to adapt with my new school. I remember I had to flew there on my own; my dad already lived in Medan for several years and mum would have to wait for a couple months to move. It wasn’t frightening, flying alone even though I was still a little girl. What startled me most was the idea of moving to a new city that I never know.

Back to the present. We arrived in Kuala Namu International Airport (KNO) just an hour before noon. The last time I was in Medan, the airport wasn’t even exist; the only airport was Polonia Airport in Medan that had to stop operating because it’s too close to the city. The new airport is around an hour drive to the capital city or 45 minutes by train.

An hour later, we arrived in the city. I was ready to see things that I recognize, some part of my childhood. Street where I used to wander, places my dad used to take me to.

Nothing. I remember nothing.

It was weird, because the city doesn’t look strange to me; everything was familiar. It’s not like the city has changed drastically, because it’s not. It still has the same malls. The street didn’t look different. Everything stays the same yet I can’t remember a thing. Which I don’t think it’s because I was there more than 10 years ago, but rather because of other reasons that I couldn’t grasp.

On my last day, I took a walk around the city, to find things I might familiar with. Instead, I found a lot of new places that already exist even when I was a kid but never visit it because well, what a little kid could do? Bit by bit, everything comes to my head again; there are parts of this city that I remember very much.

My hotel wasn’t far enough from the street that filled with music shop, where I got my first violin. Apparently, it’s one of the many china town area in Medan. There’s this house, an old Chinese settlement that is now become a museum. Many old buildings in the 1 kilometer long street, I can’t stop taking pictures and marveled at it’s antiques. The sound of swallow screeching through the evening sky, something that very much a Medan thing; many people breed swallow and use their nest as medicine.

Then I walk to Kampung Keling (Little India). I remember when I was a kid there’s a store in the area that sells food and dairy from the UK. I went there and the store still exist! I was thrilled, and hoping that I could get some of the British crisps there. But they don’t sell it anymore. The stores now only have several stuff from Malaysia, and the rest are Indonesian goods. I was a bit bummed but hey, doesn’t matter. In overall, Kampung Keling still look the same, only more quiet. The Hindu temple that I used to took a picture too is now in gold, back then it was paint with various pastel colors.

It was almost dark when I finished walking around Kampung Keling, so I turn to my phone for dinner recommendation. Mind you, I grew up in a muslim family so I never had any chance to taste the actual Medan food when I was living there. Now… haram time! I found out that most people recommend Jalan Selat Panjang for good porky dish. I thought it’s only one restaurant name, but apparently it’s one street full of Chinese food!

Fucking delicious. I’m going to hell, indeed. As a rock star.

After dinner, I took a walk back to my hotel, around 4 kilometers. A good distance for contemplating, that made me realize… My brain has shut me down from remembering things that were upsetting me. That is why some part of this city is strange to me.

My childhood in Medan wasn’t all fun and games. I hate my school; I was bullied because how I look (back then having a skinny, dark skin body and curly hair was considered unappealing). I don’t have many friends, that’s why I didn’t go out a lot. And finally, the reason we moved from the city because of something that would disturb our life forever; and that wiped out the memories I had when I lived in Medan.

All the places that I remember was part of my good memories. The time when I want to learn how to play violin, and going to the store with mum. Almost every morning, I cycled through the city and stopped in front of the temple in Kampung Keling. Watching movie in my dad’s office when mum hasn’t stayed with us yet. Only the good part.

Cheeky brain, I thought.

But maybe it’s for a good thing. Sometimes we need that; a reset. Let only the good memory that stays.

Jakarta, soon you might be one the thing that I need to reset in my life.

A Long Walk To The Beach

I love a long walk on the beach.

Haha, sorry, that was an inside joke. But in all seriousness, I do love a long walk on the beach. What’s not to love? Sun burning your skin, sands melting your open toe… plus your skin gets darker and in certain market, you’ll look more exotic! Yay!

Recently, I’m longing for this long walk on the beach. I mean, I was depressed and kind of need those “FUCK YOU, YOU EVIL CUNT!” scream to the beautiful open ocean. But my stupid financial planning didn’t let me to have a holiday so I stick to lay down on my gym’s swimming pool instead. Life is hard, I know.

But hey ho, sometimes life has its way to turn itself upside down, right to left. I got a job in a-wait for it-tractor company. I was stuttered when my friend offered me this job because who the hell thought I’d be working in a farming heavy machinery company?! But she said I’d be good at it, they need someone to speak English to Japanese expats, um, yeah, weird but ok and boom I got the job.

Basically what I have to do is accompany the Japanese bosses to our farms, which spread around the country. My first business trip is to Tuban, East Java. Here’s the map.

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I won’t bore you with the detail, I was at the farm, playing with tractors, getting lost in another farm, yadda yadda. On our last day, we finished early (3 pm). Our hotel is in Tuban city center, and I heard they have beach. So I thought, huh, let’s check that out.

I looked up on Waze and it says it only 1.7 km away from my hotel to the beach. Not bad. I used to walk farther than that in Jakarta.

But hell no, amigo, it’s not that simple. Somehow Waze took me to different route and even though it’s indeed, less than 2 km, it was so.fucking.long.

I walked on a street where only transformer passing by. Several time almost got killed by these giant buses. Saw a few becak on the street and this is what I like about Tuban: the becak is not agressive. No “ayo, naik becak sini!” or something like that. Or maybe they just want to see how far this city girl could walk. Hold my fucking beer. I’m trained for this!

Overall, Tuban is nice to walk around. It’s a small city, although, not the kind of city I would want to spend my old days in. The kind of small city where it’s kind of saying “here’s what we have, take it or leave it, mate.” But they do have good seafood restaurants and something that trying to copy another attraction from another city.

So, 45 minutes later, I arrived at the beach. Pantai Boom Tuban. Hmm, Boom Beach. Is it that good so it’s the BOMB of every beach in northern Java?

Ticket price is only Rp1500, btw.

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The beach was utterly, terribly sad. Expectation? White sand, blue sea where I could contemplate all my problems away and letting go everything on the salt water… Nuh-uh. It was dirty, it was dark (it was fucking 4 pm and it looked like its 6!), lots of trees where I saw some suspicious couples doing suspicious things. Perhaps they were just playing chess. Positive thinking, mate.

But you know, I’m all about positivity. I decided to sat on one the bench, open my book and read. It was funny, actually. Imagine this is the kind of beach our govenrment put on the tourism brochure…Indonesia will never known to any tourist for sure.

So that was my long walk to the beach, not on the beach (I don’t mix-up the preposition, hahaha). Followed with another long walk back to my hotel, which was nicer because I took different route through small alley.

And by the end of that week, I finally get my dream beach. Story on that later.

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One Way Ticket

“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Changi International Airport, Singapore. Local time is 11.38, an hour ahead of Jakarta.

For your safety and comfort, please remain seated with your seat belt fastened. Cellular phones may only be used on the terminal building.”

Even so, everyone around me has already turning on their phone. Updating their facebook status (Singapore for work, just landed).Texting relatives/friend/loved ones, telling them that they have arrived safely. Some even make a phone call, under the glaring stare of the flight attendant. My phone was still on my bag, turned off. I have no plan on turning it on any time soon.

It took another five minutes for our plane to taxi and then finally I can get out. I need fresh air. Of course, I wouldn’t get it easier. Sitting on window-seat means you have to be patient, waiting for other people to take their bags and walk through the narrow aisle. Everyone was in such a hurry, yet walked so slowly. Two girls in front of me were busy doing instastory (Hi!! We just landed in SG!) and halt the queue. “Ehm,” I said, trying so hard to be polite. “Can you move, please?” They sneered at me but continue walking, thank god, and finally, here I am.

Terminal 2, Changi International Airport, Singapore. Local time is now 11.50, and without even looking at my watch, I know it’s lunch time. Thankfully I don’t have any luggage; only got my backpack so I don’t have to do another queue. What to eat? It’s Singapore and I always here for the Chicken Rice, but of course the one in this airport is not going to be as good as my favorite one in Maxwell Food Center, Chinatown (and more expensive too). So I walk to Subway, and ordered a 6″ Meatball Marinara Melt, with a pack of Lays and Coca Cola. “That’d be S$9.20, please,” said the waiter. I gave her S$10 and she wished me to have a good day. Thanks, you too, miss.

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Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

I walk to my table with my tray of sub, coca cola and lays, as if I’m walking to accept my Academy Award trophy. Sitting in front of me is a dude with a big carrier on his side. He haven’t touched his sub yet, only moving it side to side, trying to find a good angle before he takes a picture with his phone. One shot. Two shot. Three. There you go, happy, satisfied face as he looks into the the screen. Now the sub is finally get into his mouth.

And I just remembered I haven’t touch my phone at all since I landed here.

I finished my sub, but I don’t feel like leaving the airport just yet. I don’t know where to go anyway; this is one of those impulsive trip I take because I can’t stand staying in Jakarta. I bought a one way ticket, just to see whether I’m going to miss that place or not.

A litmus test. How stupid. And expensive too.

I decided to walk around Terminal 2, just because. Ah, I always want to see the Sunflower Garden, because my friends always talks about it on Instagram. I walk to the nearest directory map hologram, and check where the garden is. Ah, not far, I only have to walk to the second floor. This is the greatest thing about Changi Airport, guide is available everywhere. In just 5 minutes, there I am in the Sunflower Garden.

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Processed with VSCO with kk2 preset

It is weird, seeing a garden in the airport, with the background of planes taking off and landing, plus with the noise. Both serene and noisy. It was on the middle of the day, and the sun is striking so not many people were in the garden. There’s a girl taking selfie with huge sunflower next to her. I offered to take her photo. She said thanks, looking happy with the picture I took. I sat around the garden and she joined me. “Thank you! This is going to look soooo good on my Instagram,” she said. I smiled. “Come on, I’ll take your picture too,” she added. “No thanks, I’m good,” I said. I don’t have Instagram anymore anyway, I thought.

I used to have a life that revolved around social media. Taking pictures of this and that, for the sake of Instagram and Path and Facebook. Instastories every moment I had. Until I get sick of it all and decided to deactivate all my social media account. It’s weird how after you decided to ‘close’ your social media account, you also closed the door of networking with your friends. They’re just…gone. Like that. It’s funny how I used to be so attached to my phone and today, it’s just sitting there, inside my bag, turned off. Funny how sometimes it’s that easy to forget things.

I said goodbye to the girl, and walked out the sunflower garden. It’s 2.14 now, I probably should leave the airport soon. I’m taking two flights of stairs to the MRT station, and took out my EZLink card. Still got S$10 on it, should be enough to take me to the city. Waiting on the platform for my train, looking at the map to see where should I took off. Chinatown? I stayed there the last time. Lavender? Nah, too quiet. Marina Bay? Orchard? Yeah, you wish.

“…she said she’ll be waiting for us tomorrow at Bugis, lah. I need to buy some nepalese flag there too,” I overheard the lady next to me talking on the phone. Hmm. I never been to Bugis before. Well, maybe that’s the answer.

My train arrived. It was almost empty, maybe because it’s not the rush hour. From Changi Airport, it’s approximately will take 45 minutes and two transit to get to Bugis. Good, I’ll have enough time to think.

The thing I like about Singapore is that how easy it is to get from one point to another. The train was quiet and clean. As it ride to the center part of Singapore, my mind begin to wander..

How did I get here, without a ticket home? I remember my friend once said that humans are naturally afraid of commitment. I doubt that, because even for a simplest thing like buying ticket, we always commit to a return ones. It’s so seldom people bought a one way ticket. Unless they actually want to leave.

Was I ready to leave? Is that why I bought this one-way ticket? Maybe. Nothing holding me back. I’m so sick of Jakarta, of it’s traffic, of the polutions, I’m fed up with my job. But mostly…

I hate Jakarta because it’s the place where you and I met. And fell a part terribly.

So this one-way ticket is the answer. I will not go back.

“Bugis..Bugis..please mind the platform gap.”

I get off from the train and walk towards the exit gate. It’s a 10 minutes walk, and I thought about how I’d love to live here, just because I can walk more. After exiting the MRT station, I took left to the Kampong Glam area.

Bugis really has changed since I visit Singapore 5 years ago. It is now colorful and vibrant, full of trendy and hipster cafes/bar. Most of the wall painted with graffiti, and I see most people stopped to take pictures. I wonder what it’d look like at night.

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Almost every corner of this area is what kids these days would say “instagrammable”. Very hip, very “now”, and I’m not saying it in a bad way. I bought a mineral water from seven-eleven nearby, talked to the girl behind the counter and she said Bugis is where young Singaporean enterpreneur start their business. “These shops owned mostly by young people, and everything is made in Singapore,” she said, proudly. That is pretty awesome.

The 7-11 girl recommend me to stay at 5Footway Inn, only a block away from the stores. I walk there, and found a nice, minimalist looking hostel. Lucky me, they still have room. 20S$ per night and I get free Milo and breakfast all day! Wohoo, what a great deal. I went to see my room and for 20 bucks, it’s not bad at all. Not bad at all. I throw myself to bed, my phone still inside my bag. Turned off.

6.20

I fell asleep, and woke up feeling hungry. I need my chicken rice now! And I know exactly where to get it.

Singapore’s Chinatown at night is more enjoyable than in the afternoon, I think. The weather is chilly, less crowd and with all the lights on the lantern, everything just look so beautiful. I took a seat in Chinatown Night Market, where I just ordered my chicken rice with Singha Beer. As I sip my beer, my mind again wander to a place where I don’t really fond of now..

“You don’t like beer, why are you ordering it?” You said, laughing when I cringe as I drank my beer.

“Yeah but you like it! I would like to know better something that you like,”

“Plus, I always like the taste of beer when it’s from your mouth,” I added.

You laughed. Then you kissed me.

And my Singha Beer suddenly taste way too bitter.

—–

After finishing my dinner, I walked randomly around Chinatown area. I remember there’s a neighbourhood nearby called Ann Siang Hill, so I walked there. I can see line of restaurants (looks like fancy one) but most of them are closed. So I just walk to the next block, see what they have.

The street sign says “Club Street” but no club to be found. Instead, it was a street of pubs and bars, and seems like a place for expatriate in Singapore to hang out. Compared with Ann Siang Hill, Club Street at night really live up to its name (eventhough without a club at all), a place for drinks and fun.

I picked a pub and sat there. This time, I got Gin & Tonic. I don’t need anything to remind me of you again tonight.

After 11, it’s impossible to get a taxi in Singapore. I stood on the sidewalk for about 15 minutes, and no taxi want to stop for me. Damn. At this hour, the MRT already stop operating.

So I guess I have to walk. No big deal, Chinatown to Bugis is not that far. Only 5 km.

I used to walk everywhere in Jakarta, except during the night. I don’t think it’s very safe, eventhough you keep saying that Jakarta is safer than any other places in the world. “It’s even safer than UK!” you said that as we walk through a dark alley in Menteng after strolling around the area, spending our weekend. I remember how I told you not to pass that alley but you remind me that it’s all safe. I know that I’m safe with you.

And now I’m walking in the street of a city in a stranger country. On my own. I don’t feel afraid at all. Not because this is Singapore, where crime rates are low and everything is safe. Maybe because I’m numb already. Broken heart does makes you fearless sometimes, although it comes with painful nights of crying yourself to sleep.

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8.30

I don’t really remember what time I get to my hostel last night. I’m still wearing the same clothes that I wore last night, means I’m that tired of walking.

I got my breakfast at the hostel and leave to see more of Bugis. Cute shops selling hipster clothing. Hipster barbershops. More hipster stuff. Again, I’m not saying it in a bad way. It actually pretty awesome to see these young Singaporean create their own business. They seems really know who their market is and how to attract them. Along the street, I saw many, many people taking pictures. I can just imagine what you’re going to say if you’re here.

“I don’t get why people taking pictures with scenery behind them. They basically ruining the photo!” you said while scrolling your instagram feed.

“Yeah but that’s how they say ‘look at me here in this beautiful place'” I leaned to your shoulder.

You don’t have any faces in your instagram. Not you, not me. I don’t mind because it’s filled with all the places that we explore together.

—-

11.30

I had my lunch at Maxwell Food Centre, not very far from Chinatown. I was going to buy chicken rice from Tian Tian, but the queue was waaaay too long. No wonder, the small stall got a Michelin-star, and famous as one of the best chicken rice in this country. I’ll just settle for ordinary chicken rice now.

The food center was hot and humid, and almost every table was occupied. Yet, I’d still prefer this place than anywhere else. Less than 7S$ for a meal, what more could you ask for?

Of course unlike Jakarta, you can’t linger here for long. After finishing my meal, I walk out to Chinatown (yes, again) and just wandering around. One of the thing that I like about Chinatown is that they sell ridiculous, odd stuff. I saw the rubber chicken, weird toy with weird noises that I brought for you a year ago. I almost about to take a pic of that thing with my phone, then I remember.

Stay away from your phone.

And I leave Chinatown. Maybe I need to walk some more to forget about you.

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14.45

Kinokuniya Orchard Road. One of my favourite place in Singapore. The bookstore is so big, I could lost in there (and I don’t mind). This is one of the place where you’d go and doesn’t even know where to start. The book was arranged alphabetically, by genre, by popularity and even everything was so tidy, I still don’t know where to start.

There’s Kinokuniya too in Jakarta, but this one in Singapore has much more books. Most of the book here doesn’t exist in Kinokuniya Jakarta, so it feels like a treasure box for me.

Sadly, even bookstore brings you back to my head. I saw David Sedaris and Chris Cleave’s books, and was wondering if you already read that one. I pick it up. Just in case.

17.00

I finished my Big Mac, then walk outside to Orchard MRT station. I just get on the train randomly, and get off in Raffles Place. Walk outside, to the bridge where I can see Marina Bay Sands from afar. The thing I love about a city, any city: the lights. From this distance, Marina Bay look very grand, yet not intimidating.

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How did I get here? How did we become this? Two people who used to be so fond of each other, to strangers?

It’s been more than 24 hours of me being far from you, from the city where I met and fall in love with you. Maybe I could do this. Maybe I could really use this one way ticket. To never go back.

I reached my phone on my bag, and turned it on.

8 new messages. Mom, office’s whatsapp group. You.

“Hi”

That’s it, that’s your only message.

I open Traveloka app on my phone and type something in there. After 15 minutes, my phone blinking again.

1 new e-mail.

“Congratulations! You have booked your flight to Jakarta by Traveloka.”

I’m going home.


A fiction, of course.

The So-Called Soul Searching Trip

I’ve been traveling on my own.
I’ve been traveling with partner as well.
This time, I go back traveling on my own.

I haven’t done any solo traveling for about a year. Last time I did that was when I went to Vietnam last May, and it was pretty fun. I spend my day doing fuck all, just having coffee, strolling around the city and relaxing. Meeting new people while having beer at night, sharing stories about life and whatever it is. It was really fun but I remember when I was thinking that this is enough…I’d like to see what it feels like to be traveling with a partner. Boom, not a week after get back from Vietnam I met someone and we dated and couple months later traveled together. It was exactly like what I thought it would be. We had so much fun, explore new places and I feel like closer to him when we’re out there together.

But this time, I went solo again. My friend told me that “this is your soul-searching time” or “now find your old self back”. Fuck it. I know I’m still the old me. But then I was being a miserable C and it was long weekend so I impulsively bought ticket to Bali. It was a “bring it on” moment.

So what it’s like? Well…still like the last time I went traveling alone. I still love being able to wake up anytime I want, to go wherever I want to go. My first day, I just walk around the hotel area then sleeping and reading book on the beach until I burn my skin. On the next day, I decided to climb a mountain, made some friends there and having a really good time. The I spend the rest of my trip hunting secondhand bookshops and spending more time in the beach because your girl love to make her skin darker, yo.

The thing about traveling alone that I forgot is that you can’t actually be alone. Everytime I was in a cafe or a pub, minding my own business, there’s always someone asking to join my table. I remember my first night in Bali there’s a dude wanting to join my table while I was reading my book. I wasn’t really in the mood for talking so I just nod and when he started the conversation I told him I can’t speak english…..but I forgot that I was holding an english book. Dumbass. I left soon afterwards, hiding my laugh.

So that’s what I love about traveling alone. The joy of be whoever I want, go to wherever I want. But..there’s no one to shared the story too. Traveling with someone else was fun because if you see something funny on your trip, you have someone to share the laugh with. Or when you lost, you’re not alone. You lost with that someone. And mind you that during this trip I don’t have social media whatsoever (only twitter) so it does actually feel like I’m with myself. It’s not that I don’t like it…it’s just more fun if you have someone to share the joy with.

I also realized that I change a little bit during this solo trip, especially on accommodation’s preference. Back then, I used to be okay staying in a hotel or just a crappy cheap room to save my budget. But not this time hahaha. It’s not that I have a lot of money, no, no at all but I just prefer comfort more? Is that make sense? I booked the wrong room once in Bali last week. It was a cheap room in Kuta, Rp150K per night. When I got there…single bed, no windows, no tv and have this creepy vibe. So I cancelled right away and luckily, found another room, slightly more expensive than that one (220K) but better! I guess I’m that age where comfort bed and room is important.

Aside all that, I’m still the same person. Still the fun, energetic person that not shy to made new friends. Still the same person who dare to have some adventures, walking alone in the place unknown just to fill in my curiosity. I had fun, I climb a mountain, I spend my day reading books on the beach, biking around the city.

It’s not that I can’t do it. I can travel on my own. But I prefer to be with a partner now.

I’ve been traveling on my own, and I’ve been traveling with a partner. I love both almost equally, but experience taught me that I like it better when I have someone beside me. Same thing like, I’m okay being single. But I like more being in a relationship.

Because happiness only real when shared.

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