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.

Mt. Krakatoa | April

time with a friend: This trip was made possible throughout a midday conversation, mostly just wishing we were somewhere else near nature, so then we packed our bags and just go. It was a memorable night drive to the harbour, midnight sail on the ferry with a noisy pop music blasting through the karaoke stall, a morning swim on the shore, a late morning hike to see the sunrise, a loving family who kept us at a great company, and an endless conversation about life, fear, as well as failed relationship

encounter: We met a lovely grandmother who joined her kids at this open trip together. On one fine afternoon, while others were asleep after such a tiring day being out in the open water for hours, we sat together under the big tree overlooking the sea. Hearing her stories about life makes me miss my grandma. Her spirit in life even though her husband had passed away is something that I'll always hold close in my heart.

nature: (accidentally) Celebrating Earth day near my element on a bloated boat filled with ecstatic strangers never crossed my mind even at once. And I'm so glad I did.

Japan | July

It was my first time visiting Japan for a photo assignment from DestinAsian Indonesia. I went together with my editor, Cristian, for a media trip in Kanagawa prefecture. We explored Odawara, Hakone, and Yokohama, followed by a reportage about Towada Arts Initiative in Aomori prefecture and an extended solo travel in Tokyo. The long travel feature about Towada will be published in their April - June 2018 issue!

surprise: We celebrated our last night in Kanagawa prefecture at Yokohama Brewery for a feast. Still pretty much on a working mode, I went shooting their beer tasting then munched on my fries and chicken wings. It was still 10 PM when a duo appeared from upstairs, one man playing his bass tube while the woman sung what supposed to be a French Opera song. A big plate of sweets placed on my table, it's written "Happy birthday Fransisca". I was touched by my local guide' generosity for being thoughtful even it was a day earlier from my actual birthday.

nature 01:  I woke up early in the morning with ridiculously beautiful view of Haya River in Hakone. We were staying overnight at a traditional ryokan. They pampered us with a 4 course dinner & breakfast, made our bed, and the list goes on. The next morning of our departure to Yokohama by train from Hakone station; we walked passed the river, an old bridge, and an abandoned tunnel surrounded by mountain, it was magical!

nature 02: Watching a full moon rising above the sea, during my first night in Odawara. A glimpse of silver light appears on the surface as I spend an hour sitting on the balcony, looking at the horizon, while I put my camera on a tripod to capture the magic.

time alone: I spent two days in a row looking up, admiring the blue skies from the eye of Japan's renowned architect, Tadao Ando. Adoring his signature style of concrete walls, and glass overlooking the sky atop of high ceiling, I took some time to finally realise that I was actually in a public library. Towada was surprisingly very quiet, my commute back to the hostel always left an impression of walking in an exclusive residency rather than a small town.

time with a friend: My first attempt in solo travelling was an extended holiday trip in Tokyo. Despite the content moment of solitary. It was great to finally see familiar faces when I met up with Agnes and her friend in Shinjuku for a yakitori dinner together. It was crowded and took us around one hour to finally get seated, nonetheless it's great to hang out where the local people go.

Lake Ashi; Traditional Ryokan in Hakone; Odawara full moon

 Towada public library by Tadao Ando; streets in Towada

Cigombong, West Java | September

I travelled to Sukabumi, West Java for photo assignments from a social travel enterprise called I Like Local. Documenting two new local hosts in Sukabumi that offer an authentic travel experiences to better promote Indonesian sustainable tourism practice for travellers across the globe. The first one is an organic farm stay in Cigombong.

day out: The morning I arrived at Cigombong, a group of foreigners were having dried cassava and coconut for breakfast. We were scheduled for a full day activity, from exploring organic farm to hiking to the waterfall. It had been quite awhile since the last time I went for a hike so it was a pretty tiring but rewarding experience. After all the sweats, traditional Sundanese lunch were served in a spacious room overlooking paddy fields, followed by another hike to the tea plantation..

encounter: The farmers, cooks, and other helpers at the farm are related as a family to one another, they were a bunch of the most passionate people I know. One time I asked them what's the most fulfilling moments from their job and they replied "Getting an empty plate back from the dinner table to our kitchen is the best feeling ever. It means the guests love our food, it's what matter the most."

story: A lovely American lady, Johanna shared with me her experience of working as a volunteer teacher for kids of an expat family in Papua. While most of the expats' family that worked there have access for education and health, the local children were struggling with school, having had to walk 2 - 4 hours a day just to arrive at class with no teacher around. "I wanted to help but there's nothing I can do as a foreigner, the situation were depressing and so then I quit teaching."

change: I conquered my fear of (friendly) dogs, it felt awesome!

The farm dog; kids of the farmer; seeds germination; right > Pak Usaha, head of the farm; Cibadak waterfall

Cicurug, West Java | October

Still on a photo assignment for I Like Local, I documented a new host in Cicurug, Sukabumi. The open-air wooden lodges consist of a few spacious areas of library, dining room, and kitchen. Surrounded by greenery, it makes the place feels like a sanctuary. Also, the food was pure bliss, as they used fresh ingredients from their organic farm.

encounter: I met a Dutch couple, Fenneke and Erik who lives in Bogor while accompanying their mother, Rietje during a holiday in Indonesia. It was the mother' interest in photography that get us along pretty well. On our last day, we spent some time together visiting the organic farm nearby. While I was busy taking photos for I Like Local assignment, she too was having a blast with her phone camera, taking macro photos of bizarre plants and insects.

object (old): A classic wooden cabinet filled with a turntable and some of the most amazing vinyl collections; Fletwood Mac, Joni Mitchell, and Queen. Although the turntable was broken, I still got butterflies just by seeing that corner. I guess I simply adore passionate people, especially those who live around music. They're the best!

South Korea | November

A long overdue trip with my mum, just the two of us. Gracing the windy autumn weather in South Korea.

gratitude: Life gets harder every time; thus I'm thankful for the time spent together with my mum. For the autumn foliages that appears at its best during our visit, for sharing the excitement and laughing over silly things during our long bus ride

encounter: I met a family of five siblings who happened to also share the same homeland (even the same high school) as my mother in Palembang (Sumatra); three beautiful sisters and one lovely couple. They ended up were related friends to one another. Simply hearing a shared conversation over Sumatran language felt very nostalgic to me, as if I was going on a trip with my aunties. Can you imagine the odds of such an encounter?

nature: "It surprises me how beautiful South Korea is." My mum told me when we were walking beneath a huge pine trees in Nami Island during my favourite time of the day just as the sun goes down. Making my mum happy is probably the best feeling in the world.

change: Before our visit to South Korea, I underestimated the country a little bit due to the stereotype with their popular culture and plastic surgery phenomenon. Usually, I won't even consider on visiting a country that wasn't as interesting as other destination. But this year, I changed my perspective, gave South Korea a chance, and it didn't disappoint us.

Thank you, 2017 

Time has indeed taught me a lot this year, mostly about patience
Patience in keep doing our best work while you doubt no one's watching
Patience in keeping up with the people that matter the most during their lowest point
Patience in having to say no to a dream office job just because you know it's not really what you wanted in the first place
Patience in accepting people as they truly are and having the empathy to hold still
Patience in putting your faith into the uncertainty
But there's also time when I let go of things as it should be, hopefully for the better

With the year coming closer to an end, I would like to wish you, who have read until this very part, a great, fulfilling year ahead. Be kind!

Fransisca Angela,
23 December 2017


  1. Beautiful as always, btw...emang biasanya suka nyimpenin stok foto yang unpublished biar nanti bisa kepublish di Travelogue?

    1. Terima kasih Adi. Sebenarnya bukan sengaja simpen stok foto sih, karena ga begitu sering ngeblog jadinya memang banyak foto yang cuma tersimpan di hard disk aja. Momen review akhir tahun memang sudah jadi tradisi untuk share kompilasi foto-foto yang tidak terpublish ini sejak dari 4 tahun yang lalu.

  2. Stunning photos, wonderful stories! Thank you for sharing, Sisca :)



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