Posts in Journal

Travel Diary: September 2018, Bandung (Part 1)

We drove to Bandung over the weekend of September 8-9th so I could serve as one of the speakers of PADghrs’ “Coming In” workshop. I was honored to be able to listen to so many different styles of writing. I hope my guidance and input helped them in some way.

The event was held at 107 Garage Room, which was actually less of a room and more like a cozy and large and warm multipurpose space. There’s a coffee shop, a small store, lots of small tables, and a rentable event room (which is what we used). We ate lunch at Johnny’s Burgers (or something like that)—they had a food truck on the property and the burgers were amazing.

That was on Saturday. We went exploring a bit on Sunday and visited Bakmie Naripan, which has some absolutely delicious bakmie (babi + ayam ada). Don’t go during regular lunch hours! It’s very crowded. We visited at around 3 pm and didn’t have to wait at all.

 The entrance to Garasi Opa.
The entrance to Garasi Opa.

After Naripan we visited Kineruku, an indie library in [I forget where, but I’ll update this later]. There was a small vintage shop named Garasi Opa right next door. Though we looked around, nothing caught our eye and we left to see the books.

 Kineruku is a small bookstore, library, and cafe. It was a shame that we didn’t get to taste the food!
Kineruku is a small bookstore, library, and cafe. It was a shame that we didn’t get to taste the food!

Kineruku is small—not really a library but a house that’s been dedicated to books. Bandung residents can make a library card for less than Rp. 100.000 a year, and if I lived in Bandung, you can bet I’d be there everyday. Later that night we had dinner with some lovely friends at Le Jardin, a new hip cafe that’d just opened. The ambience was okay-ish, and the cafe itself was definitely Instagrammable. The music playing was typical Pop 40 fare and somehow, it didn’t really mesh with the natural, green style.

I felt a little bit sad about it. But it was beautiful and the food was tasty enough (about 40-70rb per person). So I was glad to be able to go there.

 The #aesthetic bathroom at Le Jardin. Excuse the toilet!
The #aesthetic bathroom at Le Jardin. Excuse the toilet!

Later that night, we decided to drive all the way to Lembang and extend our trip by a day. But I’ll wrap up this diary here—I have more pictures and stories than I expected.

All my love, 

Ebi

Travel Diary: September 2018, Bandung (Part 2)

It’s funny that I’m only updating this blog now, a full month after we went to Bandung. Sorry, everyone!

First stop: Kawah Putih! We left for this tourist destination at around 10 or 11 am from Lembang (later than intended).

This place looks EXACTLY like it does in the photos on Google. So if you plan to go here to adventure, and you hope to discover something magical and wonderful and something more, then… you shouldn’t go.

It’s nice to do a bit of hiking at Kawah Putih, but like many places in Indonesia, there are lots and lots of hawkers waiting to sell you things. It also smells like sulfur. There are plenty of souvenir shops lining some of the roads, and you can ride a horse around for a few minutes (similar to Bromo). I’d definitely recommend Bromo if you’re looking for the mountain-and-horse-riding experience.

That being said, we did have some fun here, and it was interesting to see the crater up close.

You don’t have to stay overnight at the Maribaya Hot Springs Resort to enjoy it. I can’t seem to recall what happened between Kawah Putih and Maribaya, but we arrived here at around 4 pm—which means we only had an hour to explore the place!

We were a bit disappointed to discover that the resort was less of a hiking destination and more of a series of paid photo opportunities—from 15-16 of the Instagrammable places that you could take pictures at, a majority of them were ticketed. It was absolutely beautiful, but considering we were hoping to find some sort of magical forest wonderland here….

well…

:’)

Fairy Land (?) is a whole new attraction built by the same people who built Maribaya. Since it was still under construction, the tickets were given as a bonus to drum up attention for the place. And it worked! Fortunately for us, it closed at 6—we spent an hour wandering around this place. There are so many fun child-friendly activities and attractions here, like a wooden playground, a massive seesaw, and cute-and-slightly-terrifying fairy statues. If you have children, it’s absolutely worth a visit!

We didn’t stop by Kampung Daun this time! Instead, we ate dinner, then drove to Bukit Moko. This is the view from the top of the hill—gorgeous, right? From this point, it looked like the city lights really were stars. I swear that I could see them twinkling in the distance (or maybe my eyes were just broken).

The drive up to Bukit Moko is frightening, mainly because there are very few lights. Make sure to download Waze before you head there! The map point is in the right place; you just have to follow it allllll the way up the hill. We arrived to the hill at 10 or 11 pm, and had to walk 1-2 kilometers since the road up was also under construction.

There were some men hanging around the gate. After charing us Rp. 10.000 to enter, we made our way up and finally found a few ojek who agreed to bring us to the top for Rp. 10.000 each.

We stayed for about 3 hours, then made our way back down and drove to Jakarta that night.

Poesie Perfume Reviews Master List

Hi everyone! To make this a little bit easier for y’all, I’ve placed all of my reviews in an Airtable. You can filter and sort by collection, by type of perfume.. so I hope you’ll enjoy this masterlist of Poesie Perfume reviews.

Overall, as a perfume house, I find that Poesie excels in creating light, whistle-like fragrances. They don’t always have the best throw or longevity, but while they’re around, they’re so bright, lovely, and simple. To solve the longevity problem, I usually dab the perfume into my hair, and then it lasts for the whole day.

My favorites from Poesie include Innocence, Madar, and Tiny Phantom—all delicate fragrances that boast strong sweetness. Others to try include County Line and Madchenland.

Luvmilk: Massive Haul + Review (2018)

Hiya! I’m back with yet another review of my beloved indie skincare + makeup products. Today we’ll be talking about Luvmilk, a gorgeous skincare brand that got its start on etsy, before moving to its own standalone site. Customs screwed me over with a Rp. 700.000 tax (why? WHY? that’s USD $50, btw) because the value was over $100 (total was $157). Though she kindly understated the value, Customs opened the box and found the actual invoice inside. I’m not sure why they taxed me 30% of the value, because that’s a huge amount, but fortunately, the order was worth it. WORTH IT.

I’d always been planning to order from Luvmilk (since about a year ago), but for some reason I never got around to it. When I saw that they’d released a Halloween collection in their EDP, I decided to finally check out (I had about 20 things in my cart). Here’s everything I received—I also ordered a $25 mystery box.

These lip balms cost $2.50. They are the creamiest and lightest that I’ve ever tried, so much so that it sometimes feels I’m not wearing anything. They’re not amazingly moisturizing (I’d rate them a 6 on a 1 to 10 scale), but they smell amazing. AMAZING. My one complaint is that if you lick your lips, they taste nothing like they smell >_<

Luvmilk’s body sprays come in 4 sizes: 1 oz is $4, 2 oz is $6, 4 oz is $12, and 8 oz is $24. These smell amazing as well and have crazy throw and longevity. I sprayed once—ONCE—on myself and it lasted the entire day. I actually received a 1 oz prior to this in one of my Hello Waffles subscription boxes (that scent was Summer Surprise) and that’s part of what made me even more interested in this brand. I’d definitely recommend this if you’re looking for a low-cost alternative to Bath&Bodyworks.

Welcome to all of my new conditioners. The 8 oz size is $12, the 4 oz is $7, and the 2 oz is $4. I got a bunch (a BUNCH) and let me tell you, these work great on my hair. I have severely damaged hair that gets tangled very, very easily. It can be hard to brush and more often than not, it’s just a frazzled mess. Many of the conditioners I’ve tried from the store have done nothing for my hair, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that after trying them out, my hair felt lighter and was much easier to brush. You can see in the center on the top row—that’s how much I used for one wash. I have long hair that stretches past my neck and to my back.

Note: I’ve only tried ‘Goblin Lover’, but I think there might be a spice in the conditioner because when I used it to condition my hair, some of it got into my scalp and it began feeling a bit tingly D: It was a very uncomfortable feeling..

The conditioners’ scents last over a day—they’re faint by the second day of wearing, but it’s so nice to go to sleep in a cloud of sweet-smelling perfume.

You can see how much more conditioner I use vs. shampoo.. Oh my gosh. These shampoos aren’t anything mindblowing, but I love how wonderfully they smell. They clean my hair well—my hair gets very oily after 2-3 days, and with just a few pumps I was able to work the shampoo into a medium lather and wash my hair. It’s very gentle compared to the Chinese shampoos my husband likes to use. These come in three sizes: 2 oz = $4, 4 oz = $7, and 8 oz = $12.

So what you’re seeing here is a mix of 3 products. First, the Goat’s Milk Lotion, which is literally the nicest lotion I have ever tried. It’s so creamy, it feels like you’re wearing nothing, and the fragrances SMELL. AMAZING. I’m not sure how many times I can repeat that but OMG THEY SMELL GREAT. I’ve tried Aphrodite’s Temple; wore it at around 7 pm after my shower, and it lasted until bed time (which, shamefully, is around 1 am). Despite its light texture, it truly feels so, so soft on my skin. I have severe dryness issues and I feel like I’ve found my holy grail.

I have not tried the dusting powder or the sugar scrub yet, so I will get back to you on that <3

As you can see, these little beauties are still unopened. I’m planning on using them today, and when I do, I’ll come back and update this post!

Overall, I’m very happy with my Luvmilk order, so much so that I’m planning on making another one as soon as I use up one of these products. I can’t express how much I love every single thing I’ve gotten—the smells are great and so complex and rich and LONGLASTING, the conditioner actually works, the body sprays double as room sprays and leave my house smelling fantastic.. SERIOUSLY worth the money. Okay! I’m going to say bye now and smother myself in lotion again. I hope this review was a bit helpful!

Everything Full of Light and Love, + Short Story!

Hi! It’s 1 in the morning, which means I have time to write my blog. It’s funny, because back in high school I used to use my blog as a silly place to rant and talk about life and boy problems. I think a lot of people did–hence why Livejournal and poorly designed Blogger websites were so popular.

Now, though, everything is about content and SEO and ranking high and getting pageviews and monetizing. The Internet isn’t personal anymore; it’s a money-making machine. And that has felt very lonely at times.

What have I been up to? Well, aside from my awesome day job as the Community Facilitator over at SEA Founders, I’ve been preparing for Ubud. Because yes, I’ll be at Ubud Writers + Readers Festival alongside some of the most talented writers in the world. It still feels like an absolute dream. These past few weeks have been a mess, what with moving to the new house and going to Singapore (twice!) and everything else. Life is busy. I’m sure you know that well.

Like always, I’ve been struggling with doubt and confusion about who I am and what I’m doing and whether or not I should continue what I’ve been doing this whole time. Confession: I’ve been dealing with a lot of pent-up frustration recently, which I think stems from this internalized idea that I shouldn’t complain about what I’m going through because I’m so lucky to have what I do. As a result, I’ve been lashing out passive-aggressively quite a lot recently. 

I’ve been trying to take a “break” of sorts and kind of return to a schedule; the recent commotion has left me scrambling for time and struggling to make sense of everything that’s been going on. I’ve been thinking more and more about that Australian travel blogger who went nuclear and deleted her Instagram page; I wonder how she’s doing and if she’s living her best life. The more time I spend on Instagram and Facebook, the more I get sucked into pretty pictures and this idea that I’m not “flawless” enough or not “aesthetic” enough or not this enough or that enough, that I’m not “engaging” enough with my followers, etc., etc.

The truth is that I’m tired and burnt out, more than slightly so, and I have too little energy for social media except as a silent consumer of all these gorgeous images and curated everythings. So if you’re reading this and you’re a follower, then I’m sorry. 

Anyways, my short story was published a week or two in the Jakarta Post! It’s an excerpt; I cut a lot out to make room for the word count limit. Maybe one day I’ll share the full version with everyone! It was originally titled “Mania”; they tacked on the “Painting” part.

I hope, as always, that you have a wonderful day.

Kawaii/Jfashion Fukubukuro 2019

Hi everyone, I rarely do this type of post (admittedly, I haven’t blogged much at all in the past year or so..) but I wanted to share this as a 1) reminder for myself and 2) resource for any of you who may be looking for the Lucky Bags/Fukubukuro from our favorite Japanese brands.

In case you didn’t know, fukubukuro are a tradition in Japan. Initially, they were created to move old stock and make room for new things—it’s generally considered bad luck to have things from the previous year. In the past, many fashion fukubukuro would include things that hadn’t been popular and sold at discounted prices.

Now, though, many of the popular Japanese kawaii fashion companies will manufacture and design fukubukuro-only clothes. Preorders generally open mid-end November and early December, so hopefully this post is right on time.

Anyways, in case you want to buy any of these, you can try zenmarket.com/Buyee/Tenso (shipping forwarder companies, who will place the order in Japan, have it mailed to their warehouse, re-packed, then sent to you) or Tenshi, an independent shopping agent who I’ve heard many wonderful things about.

Brand: one spo
Options: Caramel Latte or White Mocha
Price: 10,800 yen (tax included)
Items: 8 (including bag)
Link: https://onespo-store.net/s/181109OSP/?link=top_bnr_01
Contents: Fur Neck Warmer, Jacket, Beret, One Piece, Hoodie, Skirt, Bag Belt, Bag
Comments: I didn’t like these at first, but the more I look at them the more they’re growing on me. The bag is really cute. I’m not 100% sure about the hoodie but I think everything else is adorable!

Brand: Anmille
Options: Sweet or Girly
Price:
8,000 yen (tax excluded)
Items:
5 (including bag)
Link:
https://evelyn.tokyo.jp/item/detail/1_2_ANMF-002_90/23
Contents: Tank Top, Jacket/Sweater, Skirt, Blouse, Bag
Comments: Anmille is a sister brand of evelyn, which we’ll see below. I like this set. With tax and shipping, though, it ends up being around 9,500 yen—and I wasn’t able to justify this purchase since most of the items seem fairly standard. You could get the tank top and long skirt pretty much anywhere.

Brand: Evelyn
Options: Black Mix or Off White
Price:
8,000 yen (tax excluded)
Items:
5 (including bag)
Link:
https://evelyn.tokyo.jp/item/detail/1_1_EVMF-002_90/70
Contents: One Piece, 2 x Blouse, Skirt, Bag
Comments: I think I’m going to be getting this fukubukuro. I fell in love with it at first sight! I appreciate how easy the set is to coord, especially because I’m a big lazy butt. The neckline on the blouse is just so sweet and doll-like, and I love the frills on the other top-sweater-thing.

Brand: Honey Cinnamon
Options: Unisex or Girly
Price:
10,800 yen (tax excluded?)
Items:
5 (including bag)
Link:
not yet available (?), launching on December 1st
Contents: Outer, Blouse, One Piece, Skirt, Bag
Comments: I was waiting on Honey Cinnamon and a few other brands to make my decision about fukubukuro this year, since it’s my first time, but I’m not really feeling the contents of this happy bag! In a sense it was a relief because there are so many other happy bags I want, but still.. The bag is really cute but the blouse looks thin (and it’s one that I could get anywhere). The pockets on the skirt are just so bafflingly huge that I don’t know if they’d look good on me. And the dress is also one that we’ve seen in plenty of other lineups this year.

Brand: Ank Rouge
Options: Black or Pink (?)
Price:
16,200 yen (including tax)
Items:
7 (including bag)
Link:
https://www.shibuya109.jp/ap/item/i/A0AL0000EUDP
Contents: Outer (Jacket), 3 x One Piece, 2 Surprise, Bag
Comments: This fukubukuro is a little bit on the expensive side, but they’ve definitely released some adorable sh*t for this year’s lucky bag. THAT HOODIE IS SO CUTE! I’m also really really drooling over the coquettish one piece. I think the deciding factor that might sway me is knowing whether those 2 secret items might be accessories or clothes. Last year’s bag was only 10,800 yen so I’m curious as to what could justify that steep 5,000 yen price jump.

Brand: Cecil McBee
Options: Type A (fluffy poofy coat) or Type B (breasted coat)
Price:
10,000 yen (excluding tax)
Items:
9 (including bag)
Link:
https://www.shibuya109.jp/ap/item/i/A0AL0000EUDN
Contents: Jacket, Skirt x 2, One Piece, Sweater (Sweater Dress?), Sweater,Hoodie, Blouse
Comments: I’m a sucker for bargains, which means I’m really on the verge about this lucky bag. Considering I live in Indonesia, I probably won’t put the jacket or sweater (sweater-dress?) to much use. But you could probably make a whole week of coords with this bag, and that means there’s VALUE!!! AHHHHHH. But at the same time, “conceit is much fine, life is only once”? Come on Cecil, you can do better than that..

This brand actually has several other lucky bags, but those are geared more towards workout gear/merch.

Brand: Cherite by Prime Pattern
Options: Just one type!
Price:
10,800 yen (including tax)
Items:
7 (including bag)
Link:
https://fashionwalker.com/brand/primepattern/item/PPA0119H0001?areaid=ebPPA01&link=BRAND_PPA01_RANKING
Contents: Blouse, Sweater, Skirt, Sweater Dress, Bag, Cardigan
Comments: This is definitely a surprise stunner because I have paid essentially zero attention to this brand, and then all of a sudden they come out with this incredible lucky bag. It’s sold out on their site, so if you like this, definitely go snag one on fashionwalker! You can do a lot with these six items since they all work so pleasantly together. The fact that there’s no jacket here is probably one of the reasons why I like it so much.

Brand: Swankiss
Options: Just one infamous angel bag
Price:
19,440 yen (including tax)
Items:
6 (including bag)
Link:
https://fashionwalker.com/brand/primepattern/item/PPA0119H0001?areaid=ebPPA01&link=BRAND_PPA01_RANKING
Contents: Blouse x 2, Dress, Outer (Jacket), Beret
Comments: The Swankiss Angel Bag is pretty famous. It just launched today (Nov 27) and was sold out on the site in like, less than an hour. Personally I don’t like it as much as I want to, and I definitely can’t justify the 19,400 yen price tag. I found the length of the dress and the coat to be a bit short. On top of that, one of the 5 clothing items you get is a beret—in my humble opinion, there are better options to get this year. The lace on the blouse is also really… OUT THERE..

Brand: EATME
Options: Black or Pink
Price:
16,200 yen (including tax)
Items:
6 (including bag)
Link:
https://runway-webstore.com/ap/item/i/m/3418679001?aid3=rcmenu_NA_list
Contents: Outer (Jacket), One Piece, Bag, 3 x Mystery
Comments: If it were up to me and I had to choose between Ank Rouge or this, I’d most likely go with Ank Rouge. Their one piece is very similar, and I prefer how Ank Rouge has designed theirs.

Brand: merry jenny
Options: White or Pink, but can’t choose
Price:
10,000 yen (excluding tax)
Items:
5 (including bag)
Link:
https://fashionwalker.com/brand/merryjenny/item/MYJ0119H0001?areaid=ebMYJ01&link=BRAND_MYJ01_NEWARRIVAL
Contents: One Piece, Cap, Outer (Coat), Blouse, Bag
Comments: The dress is very cute, but everything else is meh. Nothing spectacular about this one, so I’m going to skip.

Brand: mercuryduo
Options: Pink Beige or Light Grey, but can’t choose
Price:
12,960 yen (including tax)
Items:
5 (including bag)
Link:
https://runway-webstore.com/ap/item/i/m/0018679001?colvar=M84&aid3=md_official_store
Contents: Bag, Coat, Knit Dress, Skirt, Lace Top (“Bustier”)
Comments: I am very torn about this bag because I’m not sure what I’m going to get! I don’t love the previews enough to say, “Oh my god, I NEED this”. I like the outfits the models are wearing (see the photos below) but.. will I actually be getting anything even remotely similar to that? I was almost going to get this, but ultimately decided against it 🙁

Brand: dazzlin
Options: Beige or Grey, but can’t choose
Price:
10,800 yen (including tax)
Items:
6 (including bag)
Link:
https://runway-webstore.com/ap/item/i/m/0218679001?pi=p_sp_dz_2019happybag&aid3=2019_fukubukuro_dz
Contents: Bag, Coat, Basic Skirt, Knit, Dress, ?
Comments: I love the dazzlin brand but I also can’t justify this purchase. I really hate blind buying, and I don’t want to spend that much money on things I may totally hate.

Okay! Phew, thanks for sticking around. Anyways, I really like the dominant color themes this year—grey, pinkish beige, white, black..

We can also see a shift in these brands to a more larme-esque style, which I love. Glen check is also featuring incredibly prominently, which is nice because we can see how different brands have interpreted the trend and choose which we like best.

Some other brands whose lucky bags I’m waiting on:

Rosemarie seoir (the Holy Grail)
and of course, Liz Lisa.

I’m actually a bit apprehensive about Liz Lisa because they’ve been doing so many patterned fukubukuro (I wasn’t a fan of the My Melody print from last year). I’m curious to see whether they’ll jump on the glen check trend as well. I hope that this post helped you out a bit, and thanks for stopping by <3

Koinworks Review: Simple, Easy P2P Lending (+ Promo Code)

Hi guys! I wrote a variation of this post on my old blog, but it’s gone now. So I decided to rewrite it. 

I have about Rp 3.000.000 in Koinworks: it’s a simple way of investing spare money, and they always have nice promos. Like this one:

Basically, all you have to do is sign up with the link above (or with the code 27967) and you’ll get a free Rp. 50.000 to invest. Pretty nice, right? I wish I had used a code before signing up.

Sign up: You’ll need a KTP, KITAS, or passport (that’s what I used). It’s very easy to sign up as long as you have a bank account and KTP in your name.

Fees: 1% from every borrower repayment, and Rp. 5.000 withdrawal fee

Minimum investment: Rp. 100.000 (This makes Koinworks ideal for newbie investors who just want to squirrel away some spare money at the end of the month. Other investment options, like Modalku, require upwards of Rp. 1.000.000)

Length of time: 1 to 12 months

Safety and guarantees: Loans are reviewed and rated by safety. “A” Grade loans are the safest, and if the payments default you will get your money back. The amount of money returned lowers with each grade, so you can choose how much risk you want to take.

Returns: My Net Annualized Return so far is 18.13%. Pretty good when you remember that mutual funds and other long-term deposit options tend to offer, at best, 7-8%. From Koinworks: “NAR is calculated using a formula where interest received, plus late fees received, minus the 1% service fee paid we divided by the outstanding principal amount of the loan at the beginning of that monthly payment period.”

Top-up: You can top up with a variety of methods. They create a Virtual Account just for you.

On the Portfolio tab, I can quickly see all of my investments. If I click on “Details”, I can then see the repayment schedule and amount. Different colored circles = different things. A green circle, for example, means that the person paid on time. A blue one means that they paid late. A red one means they haven’t paid at all, and missed the deadline.

So far, everyone has been paying on time (except for one guy, who paid a little late on both of his last installments).

Note: You do have to invest in Rp. 100.000 increments. For example, you can’t just invest Rp. 65.000 in a loan, or Rp. 250.000. It has to be an exact multiple of Rp. 100.000.

Pros: 

  • Fast and easy to sign up
  • Returns up to 30%
  • Small starting amount 
  • Detailed look at loans and payment schedules
  • Fast deposits and withdrawals

Cons:

  • 1% fees are a bit high

Overall, I think Koinworks is a safe, fun option for most people. I definitely recommend it for anyone who has some free time and wants to grow their money a bit. I think you’ll get the most out of this if you invest at least Rp. 100.000 a month (since there is a Rp. 5.000 withdrawal fee now).

Okay, thank you for your love! I’ll talk to you later ( I hope the weird mishmash of topics isn’t too offputting for you).

Getting Married: Part 1 (My Engagement!)

(Bi, kenapa sih kamu nikah cepet amat?) There is…a very good reason for that which I am sure some of you have already guessed at, but I will neither confirm nor deny your suspicions until next month. So until then, you will have to make do with my writing and updates on other, somewhat less important topics.

In Indonesia, engagements work a bit differently than they do in America! Apalagiif you’re Chinese-Indonesian. Usually, in Chinese-Indonesian engagements (lamaran), the man’s family is invited to the house of a representative of the woman’s family. However, if no one in the family has accepted a proposal yet, the engagement will usually happen at a restaurant rather than at a home. 

To provide a clearer anecdote: My mother is the youngest of five children, and none of her older siblings have son- or daughter-in-laws yet. That means we couldn’t hold the engagement at any of their houses. Because my beautiful mommy happens to be ten-thousand miles away in another country, the person who accepted the proposal in her place was my grandma (because she already has, you know, five children-in-law).

I was actually really debating about whether or not I should tell the rest of my friends on the Internet. I am not sure if I am expected to explain myself. People will inevitably ask, “Aren’t you too young to get married?” Perhaps. But it is, after all, a matter of perspective and, to some degree, necessity. I am being rather cryptic, I’m afraid, but I promise I will explain everything when I am ready. Suffice to say that I really am happy to be getting married and that even though I am decidedly young I am sure everything will flow peacefully if I let it.

(Sometimes, after all, the most beautiful paths are the ones we did not expect to take).

A serious meeting…with serious faces…hehehe…hoho..

Hi, it’s us again.

Yes, my…signature smile in which my eyes disappear. I think nearly every new person I have had the pleasure to meet here has commented on how oh my gosh when you smile your eyes disappear that is so weird.

older brother is an absolutely amazing photographer. I, being an obsessive stalker, immediately made these photos my computer background and lock screen. All of the photos in this blog post were taken by him, actually!

 ~

Truthfully, I was not expecting my marriage to come about so quickly. But, lest you forget, I am still a Catholic (in heart, and hopefully soon officially as well), and I place my faith in my ever-loving God. No matter what happens, He will lead me towards a brighter and kinder future, and everything will work out beautifully as long as we believe in Him.

My love, as always,

Theodora

Getting Married: Part 2 (Praying To Those Who Have Gone Before)

kuntilanak (don’t open that link if you’re easily scared: it’s a Wikipedia article about the creature) and other non-human beings abound here. So it’s natural for us to believe that ghosts exist, as do genies, evil spirits, and the like. Now, one general belief that I and most of my relatives share is that sometimes the spirits of the dead don’t always go to heaven when they pass away. Sometimes because they’ve done many cruel things during their lifetime, they must stay on earth. If they’re lucky, their descendants (children, grandchildren) and relatives will pray for them. Think about it as if they’re a criminal who must be tried before a judge. The criminal can’t lobby for his case by himself; he needs a lawyer and people who can help find proof that he’s innocent/should be forgiven. That’s what descendants and relatives do: intervene for the spirit. Sometimes, people who were cruel during their lifetime really can’t get to heaven. And they can’t go to heaven and bargain with God or St. Peter because they can no longer pray.

Thus, the responsibility falls on the descendants + relatives to ask for God’s mercy:

Lord, please forgive ________ and accept him/her at your side again.

 The incredibly contentious topic of life-after-death and non-human existence really deserves its own post, so I’ll leave it at that)).

Anyways! We can also choose to pray to the dead during auspicious moments or to ask permission/blessings from our parents, which is why we went to Parangtritis this Wednesday.

According to Chinese tradition, when someone dies, they go to the afterlife, and how pleasant their life is depends on their children and descendants. Wealthy people who pass away are sent entire truckloads of paper silver and gold, which are burnt and become riches in their afterlife.

“Jangan foto-foto mulu sih ih, doa duluuuuuu.”

Erik also prayed to his paternal grandfather and his maternal grandmother who have passed away, asking for permission to get married and mohon berkat untuk pernikahannya.

Snacks for my family. I don’t know what these are called in English so you’ll have to be content with the pretty pictures.

Doing this makes it easier for the money to burn. (I thought it had some special meaning but I guess…not…? :’D)

We burnt the paper gold as a sort of offering to God. If you want to go to Six Flags or Dufan, you need to pay for admission, right? This is a similar concept: so that our prayers are communicated to our ancestors, we must “pay” God for admission as well as ask for permission: 

Dear Lord, my name is ___________ and I would like to pray to/for _________.

The silver, however, is for Ngkong and my great-grandparents.

WOW IT’S FIRE WE’RE BURNIN’ THE MONEY SO IT’LL GO TO HEAVEN. Also if you look at the lettuce in the bowl, that serves as a sort of “appetizer”. Without the lettuce + hot water in the bowl, it’s said that our ancestors can’t eat the food we prepared.

Once we’re done praying, we throw the food into the ocean, where the waves will carry the food to Ngkong and Mak Co and Ngkong Co.

My face is grumpy because I was crying, not because I was trying to pick a fight with Erik :’)

Ngkong died when I was in fifth grade, around October. Two years prior he had come to visit New Jersey for two months with my grandma, Mak.

Each morning he would walk me to school (about ten-fifteen minutes away) and then give me a hug and a dollar or two before I left so that I could buy a snack or some stationery from the school store. He made me a coin bank out of a Gatorade bottle and would go out of his way to buy me snacks. Love, I suppose, needs no translations.

When I was a baby, my mother went to the United States to find a job so she could help support her growing family. During this time I stayed with Mak and Ngkong. From all the stories I hear, I was a really spoiled grandkid. He would piggyback me and buy me jajanan and we would walk around the neighborhood and spend a lot of time together.

Thinking back to all those times my grandfather visited and the simple ways he showed love to me (and others around him) made me realize that no matter how down I feel, I was and am still so loved. Wa Ie and Mak say that Erik is very similar to my grandfather, in that he is kind and generous, sometimes so much so that he forgets to take care of his own needs. “You need to take care of Erik,” they said to me, “because he is a very, very good person.” (It is much easier to learn to be smart than to learn to be kind, after all). So sometimes I wonder if perhaps Ngkong is still looking out for me and sent me a very wonderful person to help me, teach me such beautiful things, and fill my life with light.

I really, really miss Ngkong. I feel regretful sometimes that my mother and I were in America and weren’t able to attend his funeral. Wa Ie likes to tell the story of how they had to open Mak‘s house for six days so that people could pay their respects, because he had helped and touched so many peoples’ lives.

Perhaps that, more than being financially stable or well-known, is the true mark of success. Have you impacted others’ lives in a positive way? When you stand before the Lord and He asks you, “What have you done with the opportunities and gifts I gave you?”, will you be able to tell him how you have worked to help others, or will you pluck at excuses?

One of the things I love most about the culture I’ve come home to is that we still remember our family. We love, cherish, and honor their memories even after they have died.

Thank you, lovely honeybugs, for your well wishes and congratulations on my engagement. You mean the world to me and I am glad to call you my friends. I pray that your days bloom with light and wonder. May you find whatever it is that you are seeking in this lifetime.

My regards,

Theodora

Travel Diary: October 2017, Tebing Keraton

Hello everyone!

So, on the second day of our trip to Bandung, we woke up pretty late. Around 8 in the morning, right? We were planning to stay up to go to Bukit Bintang in Dago, but the tattooing actually took about 3 hours and was only finished at 1 in the morning. By then we were absolutely pooped so we kind of just…fell asleep. Oops.

The Way There

Anyways, after some quick Googling, we decided to go to Tebing Keraton, which is apparently really beautiful. It’s a cliff from which you can see miles and miles of trees. We left by car from our hotel to the car park at Tebing Keraton, and let me warn you: the road is super, duper bumpy. Also it’s kind of scary, because if you look to the left or right of you you’ll notice that there’s an insanely steep incline. So basically, if you aren’t a pro driver, you might just… fall off.

Fortunately, Erik is a really amazing driver (he’s been driving since he was 14 or so?) and we got to the car park safely. It did start raining on the way, and that was cause for alarm since we didn’t want Baby getting wet or catching a cold.

The Hike Up

So you can’t actually get all the way up to Tebing  Keraton unless you ride a motorcycle or hike up the rest of the way. This is because it’s way too steep and the traffic that would result due to a bunch of cars trying to make it up the hill would probably cause accidents. So you have two options:

1. Ride an ojek

There are plenty of ojek who can ferry you up the hill on their motorbikes. It usually costs about Rp. 30.000 per person for a round trip (so up and then back down). Just make sure to haggle because if you look white or don’t speak Indonesian they’ll probably try to finagle you out of extra money.

2. Hike up.

Honestly, 1.7 kilometers is a bit tiring, but it’s definitely doable. And if I, a tiny little Asian girl with a baby, can do it, then I bet a hell of a lot of other people can too.

Keep in mind that if you do choose to hike and you’re a woman, they’ll probably hassle you for at least half of the way there..

Anyways! I promise, the view is definitely worth the hike! Sometimes the journey really is half of the battle. When your destination to Point A is too easy, it’s easy to feel underwhelmed once you’ve arrived. But because of that grueling hike up, I was really able to appreciate the cliff.

Isn’t it beautiful? Look at all those trees. I was so happy to come visit here! It looks like the mountains from those old Chinese paintings.

It’s beautiful! You can see farms and rice terraces down below, and the fog between the treetops is just so breathtaking. It was a really peaceful place, so different from the steel indifference of Jakarta. It made me so happy.

Tebing Keraton is located within a larger park. If you want to go back down the hill you have to exit the park (it’s about 30 seconds away from the ticket booth) and either hike back down or ride an ojek.

We decided to ride ojek on our way down. It started raining! We had to cover Baby in her breastfeeding cover and hope for the best. Fortunately, by the time we got to the car, the rain had mostly stopped. If you get hungry, you can grab snacks, eat instant noodles, or order meatball soup here. 

Overall:

This cliff is a beautiful sight that you definitely shouldn’t miss! If you’ve been hating the Indonesian heat, going to the higher elevations in Bandung is definitely a good decision. I wish we had spent more time here, but Baby was getting fussy and I had to go breastfeed her in a really dirty bathroom and then it started raining. So we decided to head back. I’d love to come back here. I’d love to live here, too.

Adventurers should try sneaking out of the fence and climbing down the rocks, but do be careful, please. It wasn’t that crowded there, which I really liked. I always feel sad when pleasant tourist destinations get really crowded because then no one has a good experience. If I had to rate it, I’d probably give it a 6/10. For native Indonesians or those who don’t get to see forests often, it’s amazing. I think it would’ve been even better if we had come for the sunrise–apparently that’s the best time to visit. Seeing the sun rise above the tree tops is apparently very moving and humbling.