Sunday, August 05, 2007

i usually don't like being in an old hotel room. but, this one was different. i fell in love the moment i stepped into this room. it was beautiful. with old window panes and hue lights surrounding the room, it was just beautiful. 
flew to singapore last week for a meeting and stayed in an old-renovated hotel building. singapore is good for renovating and preserving historical buildings. when i saw this picture, i didn't feel like i was in singapore, but in one european country. the english manor architecture is still well preserved. 

Ah... what are your goals?

there are things to be done which considered to be my goals. 

two books to be written,  a non-fiction and a novel. i felt honored when somebody from the publishing company requested those two book especially written by me.

visiting dubai and beijing late this year and early next year. i always amazed by the forbidden city and the great wall. 

get married next year (if and if). cannot stand my mother's yapping on my ears. 

Bali during summer vacation season where people were enjoying the sun and the cool wind from the wintry Australia. The low sky of Nusa Dua was full of people doing the para-sailing. 

i didn't travel much this past summer season due to the work load at the office. but early July, i was quite lucky to be invited to bali for just an engagement party i have to attend for the magazine. a one day break,  meaning to stay just one night then returned to jakarta the next day. 

Sunday, April 08, 2007

welcome to our story

it took almost a year to finish it.

four of us,
four styles of writing,
four characters to build the plot,
four continents to travel through in the story.

satu benang merah di dalamnya.

we love it.
hope, you will, too.

[cetakan kedua sudah beredar dan dicetak dengan perbaikan warna dan halaman. beberapa toko buku yang saya datangi meletakkan travelers' tale di bagian buku laris atau best seller. sementara koran sindo dan majalah cosmopolitan memberikan good reviews untuk novel ini. juga, 43 good reviews dari teman-teman di berbagai blogs dan website. thank you buat support-nya]
march was a traveling month. i spent only two weeks staying in jakarta. right after arriving from bali, i have to be at the airport early the next day departing to surabaya.

a scary moment occured at the runway of ngurah rai airport when my B747-400 flight carrying more than 300 passangers, mostly japanese tourists , aborted its take off. the plane started running fast from the edge of the runway going to its V1 speed ready to lift off when a sudden jolt was felt and the pilots aborted the take-off immediately. i've been in many take-off situations, but not once experiencing an aborted take-off.

in ten days from today, i will be flying to bali again invited to cover an indian-japanese wedding. quite unique. a week after that, singapore is on the schedule.

sometimes, i just wanted to be at home reading all the novels i haven't had time to read. but, i guess, they have to wait.

morning came. and, it was time to sail to catch some fish.

ada yang bisa kasih tahu nama persembahan buah-buahan ini?

visited a small temple during the photoshoot and there was a ritual going on. didn't know what the ritual name was, but it was so colorful with lots of fruits offerings on the ground. the priest took the money offering that put atop of the fruits offering. after the ritual, one of the hotel employees gave one of its offering to me and the team and we ate them all.

the boat sailed leisurely around east bali passing amankila and alila manggis. the clouds grew thicker, the blue sky turned greyish as it came to an end. rain would be just a matter minutes. physically i was tired from a long flight home from japan but having all these sceneries and with camera on hand, feeling tired was just out of question.

i was following a couple having their pre-wedding shoots here. the weather was just beautiful. the sceneries! bali is so beautiful even the word 'beautiful' is so understated.

i would want to have my pre-wedding shoot like this, too, i said to the one who arranged it. "just tell me the date and i arrange it for you," that one said.

took only one-day rest, the next day, still exhausted, my schedule flew me to bali for another photoshooting. this time, i would be in karangasem area where i the magazine never covered. it turned out, karangasem district was quite far than where i usually stayed in jimbaran area. but, i didn't regret it. blue sky, clear water, sea breeze not to mention hearty breakfast. it was just superb!

sakura blossomed early this year. such beautiful flowers indeed! in the daytime, its pinkish color grace the surroundings and in the evening the color gives light to the darken night.

one of otosan does during his retirement is farming the strawberries. you just can't resist having fresh cold strawberries after dinner which followed by drinking hot green tea.

i just can't get enough of sushi. makan sushi di jakarta, di bali, di singapore, di kansas city, di bangkok, di sydney rasanya semuanya gak ada yang nyamain daripada makan sushi di negara aslinya sendiri. nasinya tetap sama, nasi jepang (nippon kohan), tapi the way they made them, the way they curl the rice into a sushi shape and the way they cut the fish and make it into a nigiri sushi, it's just different.

knowing that i love sushi, otosan and okasan came one night and brought two trays of sushi that we ate together during dinner time. okasan cut the fish by herself and made me felt so honored.

kitkat anyone? what i like about this kitkat wasn't because of its chocolate taste. i forked in Y190 just to buy its can. japanese is so meticulous in packaging. if i couldn't contain myself, i would fly home with over-weight luggages full of cans.

just like the shape of its can. a Rp9,600 fanta can

my four-and-half years old nephew, masyu, looking to a japanese-bred puppy outside a grocery store. japan is a very safe country. people can just leave everything out and nobody will bother to steal or do bad thing. a couple of years ago, i, foolishly, left my passport at a post office in narita airport before walking through the immigration and i just realized it after more than half an hour. luckily, i remembered the last time i touched my passport and frantically ran to the post office. amazingly, the passport was still at the same place as when i left it.

my march started with a quick trip to tokyo. it was my fifth time visiting japan. i still remember like it was yesterday, when i was still a secondary school. i was dreaming of visiting Tokyo Disneyland one day but never thought i would ever be able to do that. we were poor. and, i said to my father when would i be able to fly away visiting other countries and seeing Tokyo Disneyland. father simply answered, keep visualizing and keep praying.

as i landed at narita airport after 7 sleepless hours sitting in upper-deck (never choose an upper-deck seat on a long-haul flight), i remembered what my father told me when i was 11 years old. one day, you would be able to visit Tokyo Disneyland. don't give up hope.

i would never give up my hope.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

thank you Lord for creating the tulips for they are one of the most beautiful flowers.

as melancholic as a flower can be. a stem-cut pink tulip under soft afternoon light.

my sunday morning started with some drums sound like in one of the maroon 5's song with the same title.
went out early in the morning helping some of my college friends to take pictures of several flower arrangements. yet, along the way, i couldn't help taking some macro pictures.
we all love to see the beauty of flowers as they paint the earth with their colors. but, have we ever wonder what inside their beauty look like?

as i am retouching this picture, my amazement to see inside this pink gerbera's crown aroused. it's the other side of beauty we uncommonly see in a flower.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

i saw my friends get married for reasons of social acceptability or just because they thought it was a logical thing to do. then i watched as they became embittered and petty in their dealings with each other. i looked at my parents and saw at best, mutual toleration of each other. they seemed really in love which somehow glow in each other's presence. how can they have survived so many years of sameness, so much irritation at the other's habit? the central secret seems to be in choosing well.

good people can create a bad relationship eventhough they both dearly want the relationship to succeed. the truly lucky people are the ones who manage to become long time friends before they realized they are attracted to each other. they got to know each others' laugh, passions, sadness and fears. they share time together before they get swept up into the entangling intimacy. this is the ideal, but not often possible.

laughter is one of the key compatibilities. laughter tells you how much you will enjoy each other's company over the long term. if your laughter together is good and healthy, then you have a healthy relationship to the world.

then, look at the way he or she cares of others and deals with the daily affairs of love. if that makes you love him or her more, your love will grow. if it does not, be careful. if you do not respect the way you each deal with the world around you, eventually the two of you will not respect each other.

if you have sufficient faith that you can resist the endless attraction of the road not taken and the partner not chosen, then you may be ready to seek the miracle that marriage offers. if not then wait. the grace of relationship well prepared is worth your patience.

when time comes, a thousand flowers will bloom.

singapore is the closest country i could feel like i was in the states. the closest border's bookstore i could visit rather than flying long haul to the land of the snow. last september, i took a break from work and flew there and was lucky enough that the room was upgraded and facing the harbour's view. it was one of the nicest visits to singapore i've ever had.

chess and checkers board were put to the guests' enjoyment to play the pastime games. several tents were erected. their bright colors seemed to match the bluish sky above. this was one of the luncheon party held by the brides for her family and closest friends. guests were awed by its decorations and to be honest, i was, too. in three hours i stayed there, i shot hundreds of frames and it was here i shook hand with one of the richest men in the world and chatted with him.

working in the media certainly has its own perk.

during my hiatus from blogging, i was invited to cover a huge wedding party in bali. it covered five resorts, five days and four nights, also lots of important guests.

they flew in the chefs, the entertainers and invited movie stars from their origin country. no wonder, a Singapore Airlines B-777 was parked in the corner of Ngurah Rai International Airport.

the coverage is in the latest edition of the magazine. it was one of a heck experience i've never forget and i felt so lucky being invited. just me and the magazine. not even, harper's bazaar, indonesian tatler, and prestige were permitted.

Monday, August 21, 2006

and this concluded my ten-day three cities eight thousand miles journey.

years ago, i was one of the kids looking through the wired gates of kemayoran airport dreaming of being inside an airplane and flying up to a destinations far far away.

as i took this picture on the way boarding a lion air flight, my mind took me to my childhood memory at kemayoran airport and saw that i used to be in the other side of the airport.

no one ever doubt the power of dream.

dream high. visualize often.

in sam po kong temple, you can see kyai jangkar where it's being respected and prayed upon by people who came to seek solaces and fortunes. some said, it was the jangkar of admiral cheng ho's ship and kyai jangkar has a mystical power people believe.

not to forget, the 500th year of admiral cheng ho's landing in tanjung mas.

sam po kong temple is like a museum itself. there are reliefs of its history that you can learn and follow. it was interesting and i just didn't have enough time to read all the story.

masih ada dua jam sebelum saya harus berangkat ke bandara dan this time a taxi driver took me to the sam po kong temple where i roamed there for forty five minutes taking a lot of pictures and praying for my ancestors -- don't know who they were though.

gedung tawang lawu di depan patung pemuda semarang yang terkenal amat sangat angker bekas barak tentara belanda dulu. tidak ada satupun paranormal yang berani memasuki gedung ini termasuk kru acara dunia lain yang konon terlempar keluar dari dalam gedung ini.

beberapa orang konon memberi sesajen di depan gedung ini dan beberapa anak kecil bermain dengan sesajen-sesajen tersebut. the rest of the story, you can guess yourself.

gedung-gedung ini mustinya bisa di preservasi sebagai bagian dari sejarah bangsa.

gereja glenduk dengan kubahnya yang unik. dinamakan glenduk karena kubahnya. gedung arsitektur peninggalan belanda ini hanya beberapa saja yang ada di indonesia dengan menggunakan gaya kubah. salah satunya adalah gereja emmanuel di jakarta. di beberapa tempat, gereja-gereja peninggalan belanda sudah berbentuk katedral dengan gaya gothic-nya.

bapak becak membawa kami mengelilingi kota tua semarang tempat pusat pemerintahan di jaman belanda dulu. masih banyak sekali gedung-gedung tua yang berdiri kokoh dan tampak tidak terurus dengan baik. tapi suasana kota tua masih terasa sekali.

when was the last time you rode a becak? it was two years ago in jogyakarta when the last time i rode it.

hawa panas yang bercampur dengan angin sepoi-sepoi dari depan jalan ngebuat saya ngantuk. belum lagi ditambah irama kayuhan kaki si bapak becak dan suara kreyit-kreyit kayu becak tersebut dari tekanan rangka besinya. sempat saya tertunduk menahan kantuk, tapi tentu saja pemandangan di sekitar membuat saya terbangun.

bayangkan jalan yang masih teduh dan lebar seperti ini.

seminggu saya meninggalkan jakarta dan jalan yang biasanya saya lalui berangkat kerja sudah porak poranda dihantam proyek busway. macet di sana sini, klakson mobil dimana-mana, dan motor-motor yang bersliweran tak menentu.

tentu saja menikmati jalan lebar dan rindang seperti di atas tidak saya lewatkan begitu saja.

first to jalan pandanaran to buy some wingko babats, bandeng prestos and kue moacis.

the next day, we hired a becak driver to take us around.

kadang-kadang saya suka kasihan. i was thinking like what if i were the becak's driver? tentunya capek ngayuh becak keliling kota ngebawa penumpang yang berat ini.

but, a friend reminded me, "iman... it's his job!"


walking around simpang lima, i didn't know why i felt so safe. i took a lot of pictures around. people saw me like i was a japanese tourist, but they just ignored me and did their own business.

perhaps, i wouldn't do this in jakarta.

across the soothsayer, you can find people were relaxing. lighting his cigarette waiting for his girlfriend finishing her dinner at a lesehan.

for the past weeks, i've been travelled to surabaya and seoul reaching thousand of miles, but to be able to capture this kind of human interest picture made me seem to forget all the tiredness from the weeks before.

a full tummy then brought us to walk around a night market in simpang lima where i shot some pictures describing what people were doing there.

one of the street vendors interested me was a soothsayer where people were sitting around him and he was reading a fortune from one of the spectators.

it was interesting to see how the soothsayer read the future with the prayers of kejawen.

it was late at night and the nine of us were all hungry when we came to a lesehan around simpang lima. we ordered ayam bakar, bebek goreng, cah kangkung, nasi liwet, es jeruk, es teh manis and opened some kerupuk kulit. all for just a hundred thousand rupiahs.

of course, having a lesehan dinner together with chats and laughs among friends was priceless.

we were in semarang for yet another wedding exhibition held in that city. the second night there, we wanted to explore the special local culinary. as we walked around simpang lima, we stopped by beside an officer who was ready to off his duty and asked him about the specialties of this simpang lima.

i told you, semarang people are all nice, right. even the officer was kind enough to show us the well known lesehan and took picture with us. never before we took a picture with a policeman in jakarta.

after seoul, korea, my journey took me to semarang -- just 50 minutes to the east of jakarta by air. i've never been to this city before. my semarang recollection was just a pass through on the way to salatiga when i was a high school student years ago. but to be really exploring this city and stay nights in semarang happened to me just days ago.

the city was smaller than surabaya. one thing i learned right away, its people are so humble and very nice.

in jakarta, you never heard people say "terima kasih" or "maaf-permisi" anymore in general occasion, but in semarang, i heard those words being said many times.

one thing from semarang i think the city lacks off is the mall. its mall is just too small.

the nicest thing being a tourist is i can shoot anything. everytime i visited a foreign city, two things that i try to find -- bookstores and people's market (pasar basah).

in pasar basah, you can learn something from its country that people everywhere is the same.

living in this world is about survival -- to survive everyday by working hard to face another day tomorrow.

penjaja buah di nam dae mun market. satu slice semangka, satu slice nenas seharga 1000 won. berapa slices bisa kita beli di jakarta seharga Rp10,000?

tentu saja dengan biaya hidup yang amat sangat tinggi -- seoul is the second most expensive city in the world next to new york city as the most expensive city to live -- kita tidak bisa menyamakan kehidupan di seoul dengan di jakarta.

tapi sedikit banyak, gambaran di atas dapat dipakai untuk menggambarkan betapa tingginya tingkat perekonomian negara tersebut.

come evening and this tree will be alive!

waktu saya melihat foto ini kembali, bulu kuduk saya berdiri. dan bulu kuduk saya masih berdiri ketika saya mengetik posting ini.

ceritanya begini. seperti biasa, karena hobi saya motret maka saya adalah peserta tur yang paling tertinggal dan paling belakang. saya bisa mempelajari sejarah bangunan ini dari brosur atau buku yang bisa saya beli, tapi momen untuk memotret hanya ada saat itu saja. entah kapan saya bisa balik ke sini lagi.

it was a hot day and the clouds above was dark. rain was about to fall shortly when i was captivated by this wall. the combination of the old walls and the woods area to its right was a good composition for me to capture it.

at that moment, i knew that i was left far behind the group and for a split second, i felt a chill. uh-oh.

then suddenly, my never-troubled-camera stuck. it was just stuck. it has never happened before. i knew the battery was full since i just changed it minutes ago.

was i panicked? yes, it was my beloved camera! but, i did a stupid thing! a really really stupid thing out of my unconsciousness.

i yelled an expletive word to my camera!

in a place like that one you just cannot even speak with a loud voice. i yelled an expletive word!

at that moment, i can feel something strange. it was like i was slapped by the wind and i just cannot say what else -- i ran and ran. the tour leader was looking for me that was then i realized that something was not right the moment the tour leader asked me whether i was okay or not. i was pretty ashen at that moment.

the moral of the story -- never say a bad word in a place like that.

ada yang pernah berkunjung ke kesultanan jogyakarta? masuk ke salah satu bangunan di kesultanan yang menjadi tempat pajangan lukisan-lukisan jaman peninggalan belanda dulu? di situ, lukisan-lukisan itu rusak karena tidak terawat. jika terawat pun mungkin prosedurnya tidak tepat hingga lukisan-lukisan bersejarah tersebut menjadi rusak.

mungkin kita harus belajar dari bangsa lain untuk bisa merawat peninggalan-peninggalan bersejarah.

memasuki istana kekaisaran ini di seoul, saya teringat waktu saya mengunjungi kesultanan jogyakarta. saya banyak menemukan kesamaan mulai dari lapangan luas di tengah-tengah areal sampai dengan bangunan-bangunan di mana raja atau kaisar bertemu dengan rakyatnya -- tentu saja dengan arsitektur yang lain.

tapi yang berbeda dari kedua tempat berserjarah itu adalah cara masing-masing tempat menjaga peninggalan-peninggalan bersejarah tersebut.

sayang sekali.

semenanjung korea adalah sejarah daerah sejarah yang telah berasal dari ratusan bahkan seribuan tahun lalu bersamaan dengan berkembangnya kekaisaran cina di sebelah baratnya. banyak dari arsitektur bangunan-bangunan istana di korea mirip dengan arsitektur kekaisaran di cina.

i love visiting this kind of places. salah satu yang menjadi daya tarik saya mengunjungi tempat-tempat peninggalan bersejarah ini adalah membayangkan kehidupan orang-orang yang tinggal di tempat ini 600 tahun yang lalu.