Travelogue : 2017 in Review

Monday, December 25, 2017



If I can describe 2017 with one word, it would be: timing. This year has been the most challenging, yet at the same time rewarding for myself. What had begun as a rough start of the new year by leaving a full time job (with the most loving boss) and went freelancing had taught me a lot about really figuring things out on my own. Most people thought I had it all figured it out when I went freelancing full time. While in fact, I spent the first quarter of the year focusing on simple things that bring me contentment; start from reading books that have been piled up to the top of my desk, 30 minutes evening run, to spending more time with my mum. In other words, I learned to slow down.

When my long overdue trip to Vietnam on April with my closest friends was cancelled last minute due to my mom's sickness (she's fine now, though!), I thought that was it. But boy was I wrong, turns out it was only the beginning of everything! Looking back, most of my travels this year involved going somewhere to work on an assignment while meeting amazing people along the way. Somehow, I still thought it was pretty much unreal, though I guess you cannot force things to happen and it's right when they say 'there's always a timing for everything'. Enjoy this year's travelogue and reminiscent of intimate moments! p s : each of the prompt is from The Moon Lists.

B&W leftovers from Lahiri

Saturday, December 16, 2017



While Vatican taught me the art of looking up to beautiful masterpiece in St. Peter's Basilica' ceilings. I realised there's a magical feeling that always leads my mind back to the canals of Venice. I still can recall those moments of crossing the bridges, the overwhelming amount of tourists, being mesmerised by the hidden alleys, and the crowded Dodge's Palace. It is beautifully written in Jhumpa Lahiri' In Other Words with the setting of Italy which is her fifth book that I'm currently reading right now. Growing up with her Indian roots as a successful American writer was not easy, since she struggled to find balance between these two; to keep her mother tongue, Bengali whenever her parents were around and her present language, English that has lifted up her career as an author. This book took us to her journey of immersing into a new language, Italian. It gives her a chance to reconstruct herself and take a different literally path without getting attached emotionally to any of the culture.

I find it fascinating how her mind wonders and creates a correlation between the painful process of learning a new language with bridges over canals in Venice. The struggles were real of being misunderstood by her exotic presence in a foreign land where you can no longer distinguish between a compliment and an insult because every word sounds beautiful in Italian. As someone who wanted to learn a new language, she took me on a whirlwind ride through her writings. Having a nostalgic ritual of browsing my old photo archive every year, Lahiri made me look through the black & white rolls from Italy last year, untouched on my hard drive. Since I feel bad for not publishing these earlier, reading these lines from the chapter entitled 'Venice' were sort of healing my incurable desire of going back to the harbour. I hope you enjoy this too as much as I do!

V E N I C E
taken from In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri

In this disquieting, almost dreamlike city, I discover a new way to understand my relationship with Italian.
The fragmented, disorienting topography gives me another key.
"It's the dialogue between the bridges and the canals. A dialogue between water and land. A dialogue that expresses a state of both separation and connection. " 
In Venice, I can't go anywhere without crossing countless pedestrian bridges. At first, having to cross a bridge every few minutes is exhausting. Each journey seems abnormal and somewhat difficult. In a short time, though, I get used to it and slowly this journey becomes habitual, enticing. I ascend, cross the canal, then descend on the other side.Walking through Venice means repeating this act an incalculable number of times. In the middle of every bridge I find myself suspended, neither her nor there. Writing in another language resembles a journey of this sort.

My writing in Italian is, just like a bridge, something constructed, fragile. It might collapse at any moment, leaving me in danger. English flows under my feet. I'm aware of it: an undeniable presence, even if I try to avoid it. Like the water in Venice, it remains the stronger, more natural element, the element that forever threatens to swallow me. Paradoxically, I could survive without any trouble in English; I wouldn't drown. And yet, because I don't want any contact with the water, I build bridges.
"I notice that in Venice almost all the elements are inverted. It's hard for me to distinguish between what exists and what seems an illusion, an apparition. Everything appears unstable, changeable. The streets aren't solid. The house seem to float. The high water can flood a square. The canals reflect a version of the city that doesn't exist."






St Peter's Basilica, Vatican


Analog Journal: South Korea

Tuesday, November 28, 2017


10 minutes boat ride to Nami Island

Earlier this month, I visited South Korea for a one-week getaway with my mom. It was our first autumn together, and I am still mesmerised every time I imagine the ever-changing colours of the autumn foliage. Besides the magical vibes to it, I’d like to think of autumn as a metaphor for our cycle of life. A down time season to reflect and let go of things, to keep you grounded.

Witnessing the beautiful season with my mother was precious. Although we visited major tourism places during this trip, luckily we both like to avoid most of the crowded areas. I still can recall the moment we arrived in Nami Island, we’d just go to the shore and ended up walking on a bridge near the lake with only a handful of people there. It’s one simple moment that reminded me of how different we are as a person but so much alike when it comes to travel.

I never consider on visiting South Korea. Tracing the path that leads me to once underestimate what this country has to offer made me realized that it happened solely based on the popular culture that was being portrayed through the mass media. Before the trip, all I could think of the country were only K-pop music, K-drama and their plastic surgery culture. Luckily for me, I now have a shared memory of our mother-daughter trip together; both couldn't stand the cold weather yet still manage to find ways for a cold banana milk.


                                                                                   Mount Seorak; cable car view to the hiking point


fresh produce from Jeju island



Mom (2nd from the right) loves to start a conversation with stranger



Micro Galleries in Jakarta

Friday, November 17, 2017



I've always liked the idea of absorbing new perspective from other people via visual and literature. I think that's the only reason why I find absolute joy visiting art gallery and bookstore. If you're reading this, perhaps you're fortunate enough to be able to enjoy a day trip admiring artwork from across generations. But for some people, the idea of going to an art gallery might sound a bit intimidating. But guess what, I personally believe that art belongs to pretty much everyone, it's one thing that set us free, a safe space to express our thoughts or even criticise. Even we learned how to doodle on the walls long before we're being taught how to write.

Last month, I was lucky enough when I found out that a street art collective and reclaimed city acupuncturist, Micro Galleries turned a small alley in Jakarta into an art gallery filled with murals and installations that were being created on the spot by 50 local and international artists. They're lifting up street art scenes and making it accessible for the local community within Jl. Kebon Nanas, Kebayoran Lama with simply amazing art. It was quite a hectic week for myself loaded with shooting, so I decided to grab my camera and headed to the alley and make a photo series. The people and committees were very welcoming even I made friends with some of the artists there. Ariadne and Brian from Austria showed me around and give me a quick tour to the end of the exhibition. We even hung out together for a Sunday walk in the chinatown, I had such a great time with them.

Besides exhibition, they also host artist talk and workshop together with the locals. Thank you Micro Galleries for such a great movement and initiative, I salute the work that you're doing together involving the local community. See more photos on: link


Ariadne Avkiran (Austria) & Yuni Bening' (Yogyakarta) Peace installation



Bambsy


Murals by all female artists from Ladies On Wall with local people & installation of Jaka Thinker




Vivien Poly (France)


Jaka Thinker (Tasik), Belajaran community

Farmstay recap in Java

Monday, October 30, 2017



Hi, hello, sorry for being so quiet in here! It's been awhile since the last time I posted, so here's an update. These past three months, I've been working on a project with a social enterprise called I Like Local. On the admin and marketing side, my responsibility includes reaching out to existing host to update their information, finding potential hosts and partners in and around Java, and make the platform become visible to more travellers in Indonesia. But the most exciting part is when I get to visit new host to document their experiences. As for now, I've visited two farm stay near Bogor and Sukabumi region, which surprisingly are located only 2 - 3 hour away from Jakarta by train.

With this opportunity, I've made some new friends with local hosts around Indonesia, met a lot of new wonderful people, slept inside a rice barn, hiked to two different waterfalls, conquered my fear of dogs, learned some basic skills of organic farming, and ate so many amazing organic food cooked by the locals. Both farms run organically and applied the zero waste management system, but has a different type of management which makes it interesting. 

Overall, it's a humbling experience when I realised that I was actually working while visiting these new places that I've never been before and that through my photos I'll help these local people get discovered by travellers from around the world. It's obviously not all rainbows, but the journey is what makes it worth while. I dearly hope more of this kind of work will come my way! These photos are all taken with film and during this assignment I mainly shoot with my main camera. Feel free to see more on this: link



Peyton and Nadine, WOOF volunteers from USA & Germany




Analog Journal: Tokyo Part 2

Saturday, September 16, 2017



After around ten days carrying a proper DSLR for work, I prefer to have some me time wandering through hidden alleys in Tokyo using only a simple point and shoot camera. There's always a little magical touch that neither your eyes nor a digital camera can capture compared to my favourite Olympus Mju ii. This post is dedicated to my last full day in Japan, as usual, written in a specific keywords.

Treat

Compared to my friends, I won't consider myself a foodie since I'm quite an easy person that take  pleasure from a soft boiled egg and sesame oil. But one thing that I can recall from my friend' message was "you'll love the food there!!" and "try as many food as you can". So I did and treat myself for a big lunch at this restaurant near Tsukiji Fish Market (where all the foodies go, obviously). The perks of going out on lunchtime was when you could get the most scrumptious food set in almost half of the price. While sitting at the sushi bar, I get to witness the cook, passionately wrapping sushi roll and smiling at me. He noticed that I'm a foreigner who cannot understand a single word in their menu. While usually I'll pull out my Google Translate app from my phone, this time, I asked his favour to chose my last lunch in Tokyo, it was a big Chirashi bowl. While waiting for the sun to be at least bearable to my skin, I slowly ate my lunch, enjoying my last day, counting my blessings for the fact that I've been in Japan for almost two weeks.



Tsukiji Fish Market

Beer O'clock

These past two years, I've been slowly getting to loosen up myself better through leisure time with former colleagues mostly on Monday, enjoying cheap beers at the nearest pizza bar. We usually had either the most ridiculous conversations or an intense ones and shared our germs through a large bowl of honey chicken wings. I'm not a drinker, and usually after one glass of beer, you could spot me as the 'red face' girl in the room.

While visiting this charming neighbourhood of Yanaka Old Town, I stumbled upon a collaborative space located in a renovated traditional Japanese house that has a bakery, local craft beer shop, and small space for local gathering. I've never had a beer alone, but on that last day I decided to order a medium glass of the local craft beer. The next thing I knew, I had a conversation with three Japanese girls who were about to go to a concert, asking their favour to take a portrait of me in front of this authentic Japanese building, just because. Only after seeing that shameless portrait taken by a stranger, I realised that I still carry my Asian flush syndrome with me everywhere I go.


Yanaka Beer Hall


Memoir

Still with a face as bright as a fresh tomato, I decided to call it a day and go back to my place heading back to Yanaka Ginza to later catch a bus from Nippori Station. While walking under the big sakura trees, I passed by many locals enjoying their down time, some walked their dogs, a few carried their suitcase and the others were holding hands. All of those moments were recorded beside a huge cemetery complex in Yanaka. All seems well until I walked behind a young man wearing white suit, carrying two green watering cans, (I supposed) about to visit his long lost loved ones cemetery. All of a sudden, everything became much slower. I can portray myself visiting my grandma's cemetery back home. I miss her too much.




Yanaka Cemetery

Independence Day

Thursday, August 31, 2017



I still have a clear memory of the excitement during Indonesia Independence day ten years ago, where all people in my neighbourhood were busy preparing for so many fun activities for kids to their parents. From drawing contest, bike parade, poem contest, to other traditional ones like Panjat Pinang and Tarik Tambang. August would be the only month I look forward to throughout my elementary school year, simply because I knew how special it would be. It was the only time we simply put aside the school drama and worked together to bring home dozen of prizes.

However, these days, it is rather quiet, with just a handful of red and white decoration and the mandatory flags lining up across the street. I wonder how each of the supposed to be huge celebration (not only Independence day, but Christmas as well) became less and less meaningful every year? Could it be because we became too busy with our screen now? While thousands of message of nationalism being broadcasted across all the social media channels, I took my camera for a walk to a slum area near my neighbourhood to rekindle with the euphoria once again. Despite the environment they live in, these people keep the tradition alive, more than the rest of us do with our online persona.




 

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