Tuesday, July 19, 2016

On Tipping



Tipping adalah salah satu hal paling aneh dan ruwet terutama saat sedang traveling. Pada dasarnya, saya orangnya cukup generous dan nggak tegaan, jadi saya suka nggak enak sendiri kalau nggak memberi tip untuk orang-orang yang sudah membantu saya dengan servisnya (misalnya: tukang ojek, supir taksi, porter hotel, pelayan restoran).

Di Indonesia sendiri, aturan tentang tipping ini tidak terlalu rumit. Kita bisa memberikan berapapun yang kita mau, sesuai dengan keinginan kita, tanpa perlu merasa takut kurang atau salah. Rata-rata orang sudah cukup bersyukur menerima uang tambahan, berapapun jumlahnya. Misalnya, argo taksi Rp 17,500, dan kita membulatkannya menjadi Rp 20,000; supir taksi sudah menganggapnya sebagai tip yang memadai.

Begitu pula dengan pelayan restoran. Karena service charge saat ini sudah masuk ke dalam bon di hampir semua restoran, maka kita bahkan tidak perlu meninggalkan tip lagi, kecuali mungkin kalau kita menganggap service si pelayan benar-benar luar biasa dan layak mendapatkan tambahan tersendiri.

Di negara-negara di Asia, budaya tipping rata-rata mirip dengan di negara kita. Bahkan di Singapura misalnya, supir taksi tidak mengharapkan tip dan biasanya sudah menyiapkan uang kecil untuk kembalian, sampai ke sen-sen nya. Supir Uber pun biasanya tidak terlalu mengharapkan tip.

Masalah tipping menjadi ruwet ketika kita traveling ke negara-negara Barat, khususnya Amerika Serikat. Di Amerika, tipping wajib hukumnya, dan mereka memiliki aturan-aturan tersendiri yang agak membingungkan, khususnya di restoran. Biasanya, bon yang kita terima belum memasukkan service charge di dalamnya, tapi di bagian bawah, tercantum "saran" untuk memberikan besaran tip sesuai total tagihan, biasanya kisarannya antara 18-22% dari total tagihan. Jadi si restoran sudah "berbaik hati" menghitungkan tip untuk kita sesuai dengan total tagihan dan standar persentase yang mereka gunakan.


Misalnya di contoh tagihan di atas, total yang harus saya bayar adalah USD 57.59 termasuk pajak, lalu restoran memberikan saran berapa jumlah tip yang seharusnya saya kasih, dalam kisaran 18% sampai 25%, Saya bebas memberikan berapapun, tapi diharapkan agar jumlah yang saya berikan masih masuk ke dalam range yang tercantum di dalam bon.

Bagaimana kalau tip yang saya berikan kurang? Atau, bagaimana kalau di dalam bon tidak tercantum jumlah tip yang disarankan? Nah, ini memang tergantung restorannya masing-masing sih. Kebanyakan restoran biasanya let go saja meski mungkin sambil ngedumel, atau pelayannya mendadak jutek sama kita. Tapi... beberapa restoran (terutama restoran Cina!) pelayannya suka nekat minta kita untuk menambah tip, dengan alasan belum mencapai jumlah minimun 18%. Lebih trickynya, kadang di restoran Cina tip tidak dicantumkan sama sekali, sehingga kita harus mengira-ngira atau menghitung-hitung sendiri. Nyebelin banget!

Yang lebih susah lagi tentu kalau kita makan beramai-ramai. Pembagian tip ini menjadi satu sesi rumit tersendiri yang biasanya saya sih sudah hopeless dan hanya terima jadi saja hasil hitung-hitungan dari teman semeja saya. Di Amerika, rata-rata orang hidup cashless, jadi ke mana-mana membayar dengan kartu debit atau kredit. Dalam satu meja yang sama, kebanyakan restoran bisa menerima sampai 10 kartu yang berbeda, dan bill nya displit sesuai dengan pesanan masing-masing. Hanya saja, tip tetap disatukan, sehingga biasanya masing-masing orang akan chip in dari kartunya sendiri. Nah, karena saya hanya menggunakan cash selama di Amerika, biasanya tip saya akan terpisah dalam bentuk cash, sementara yang lain-lain disatukan di dalam kartu debit/kredit mereka masing-masing. Tambah ruwet saja deh!

Yang paling gampang memang makan di fast food restaurant saja, bebas tip dan nggak perlu pusing membagi-bagi bill :D

Friday, July 15, 2016

Ada New York Hari Ini

New York City, kota yang selalu membuat saya melankoli. Entah ada apa dengan kota ini, yang sudah memikat saya sejak saya hanya bisa mengaguminya lewat layar kaca dan lembaran buku cerita. Mimpi saya untuk bisa menginjakkan kaki di sana terwujud pertama kalinya di penghujung tahun 1999, dan serasa mendapat durian runtuh saat bisa mengalami pergantian milenium di kota yang tak pernah tidur itu.

New York City seolah selalu menggoda saya dengan kehadirannya yang nun jauh di sana. Dalam benak, saya bisa membayangkan dengan mudah suasanya yang seperti terasa akrab di hati. Setiap musim terasa cocok saja berpadu dengan jalan-jalannya, dengan taman besar di tengah kota, dengan deretan toko dan bangunan tua, bahkan dengan jubelan penduduknya yang tak kunjung berkurang. Buat saya, New York adalah kota yang membuat rindu - meski saya tidak pernah tinggal di sana, bahkan hanya pernah berkunjung singkat sekali-sekali saja. Saya jatuh cinta pada New York seperti kepada seseorang yang belum saya kenal, namun sudah terasa layaknya sahabat sendiri.

Impian terbesar saya adalah mengenal sudut-sudut kota ini, lekuk-lekuknya yang tersembunyi, dan menghirup udaranya yang mengandung berbagai macam aroma. Saya terjerat bahkan tanpa tahu apa sebabnya.

Bulan lalu, saya berkesempatan kembali ke sana, meski hanya untuk beberapa hari. Degup jantung saya tidak mau diajak bekerja sama, sudah seperti mau ketemu mantan pacar saja :) Tujuan utama saya memang bekerja, tapi tak ayal saya menyusun rencana untuk menyusuri beberapa bagian kota.

Saya langsung terkesima dengan dengungan manusia dan tingkah polahnya. Bunyi sirene mobil polisi bukan hal yang aneh, bahkan di tengah malam sekalipun. Saya membuka jendela kamar hotel semalaman, menikmati suasana tengah kota yang penuh teriakan, klakson mobil dan suara mesin seolah mereka adalah hal-hal paling merdu di telinga saya.

Menyusuri jalan kota yang dihimpit oleh gedung tinggi raksasa menimbulkan perasaan yang aneh - seperti menjadi manusia terkecil di dunia, tapi sekaligus menjadi bagian dari kota yang sibuk ini. Saya merasa gampang saja berbaur dengan manusia aneka rupa, karena memang segala jenis orang ada di New York, yang sering disebut sebagai melting pot segala bangsa.

Central Park, dengan segala pesonanya, masih memikat saya, kali ini dengan suasana musim panas yang ceria. Pasangan-pasangan yang berdayung di danau, anak-anak berkejaran di antara gelembung sabun raksasa, bahkan sekumpulan orang yang semangat beryoga di tengah hari bolong, adalah beberapa pemandangan biasa yang dijumpai di taman kota tersebut. Mungkin ratusan kisah berakar di sana, dan butuh lebih dari sekadar satu buah postingan blog untuk menceritakannya.

Salah satu hal paling berkesan bagi saya adalah menapaki Brooklyn Bridge, jembatan legendaris yang menghubungkan daerah Manhattan yang dipenuhi gedung pencakar langit dengan segala kemegahannya, dengan Brooklyn yang dijejeri gedung-gedung apartemen brownstone tua yang terlihat hangat dan nyaman. Jembatan sepanjang 1,8 km ini selalu dipenuhi oleh ratusan orang yang menyeberang setiap harinya dari kedua sisi kota tersebut. Ada yang naik sepeda, ada yang berjalan santai, ada yang sambil lari, ada yang membawa stroller, ada yang berfoto-foto di sepanjang jembatan, ada yang berjualan magnet dan kartu pos, ada yang menggantungkan gembok cinta di pagar besi yang berjajar, pokoknya segala jenis orang ada di sana.

Brooklyn Bridge adalah titik strategis untuk mengagumi keindahan New York dari berbagai sisi. Dan suasana menjelang matahari terbenam adalah saat terbaik untuk menikmatinya. Semburat cahaya matahari yang terpantul di antara gedung pencakar langit, berpadu dengan riak air Sungai Hudson, mampu membuat siapapun berhenti sejenak, memandang keindahan tersebut dari kisi-kisi jeruji besi jembatan Brooklyn.

Dan meskipun Rangga tidak ada di sana - saya tidak keberatan. Karena New York saja, sudah cukup bagi saya :)

Brooklyn Bridge, June 2016



Monday, May 09, 2016

Religions vs Bigotry



 Hari-hari sekarang ini, sepertinya dikotomi antara orang "beragama" dengan "tidak beragama" semakin marak diperbincangkan. Kalau dulu banyak yang menghujat orang yang tidak beragama atau tidak percaya Tuhan, sekarang ini justru lebih banyak sisi seberangnya yang dikritik, yaitu orang-orang yang mengaku relijius. Alasannya? Karena kebanyakan kelompok yang mengaku relijius ini dinilai terlalu fanatik dan bahkan disebut sebagai bigot.

Apakah mungkin menjadi relijius tanpa harus menjadi bigot? Apakah mungkin memiliki agama tanpa harus memisahkan diri dari dunia? Pertanyaan yang berat tentunya, dan saya sih bukan ahli agama apapun, jadi nggak berani juga sok sok berteori tentang hal ini.

Memiliki agama artinya kita harus mengikuti ajaran yang sudah kita anut. Dan kadang hal tersebut tidak sesederhana "membenci yang jahat dan melakukan yang baik". Karena banyak hukum dan aturan agama hingga yang sangat detail dan tercantum dalam kitab suci, yang tentu saja menjadi acuan para penganut ajaran agama tersebut. Yang membuat rumit adalah saat aturan agama bertentangan dengan norma yang sudah dianut orang-orang secara general, apalagi kalau norma tersebut bukanlah merupakan suatu tindak kriminal atau kejahatan bila dilihat dari kacamata masyarakat secara general. Mulailah konflik dan pertentangan antara kelompok relijius yang menganggap ajarannya yang benar, dengan orang-orang di luar lingkaran tersebut dengan norma-norma yang lebih umum dan tidak merasa salah sedikitpun.

Dan kembalilah kita ke masalah kepercayaan. Sulit memang mencapai kesepakatan, bila kacamata yang dipakai saja sudah berbeda. Yang satu minus 5 dan yang satu plus 3. Nggak akan nyambung dan nggak akan ketemu. Dan inilah ujung pangkalnya mengapa kelompok beragama seringkali dicap bigot. Karena mereka seolah tidak bisa menerima kenyataan kalau ada orang-orang yang tidak sepaham dengan ajaran mereka, dan hukumnya adalah satu: di luar ajaran mereka, tidak ada yang benar.

Tapi apakah tidak mungkin memeluk suatu agama tanpa harus menjadi seorang bigot? Apakah tidak mungkin menganut kepercayaan tanpa mengedepankan bigotry? Ini mungkin pertanyaan yang memerlukan pendekatan filosofis, religious, dan lain sebagainya. Tapi saya sendiri, sebagai seorang penganut agama, masih merasa kalau hal tersebut adalah mungkin.

Menerima perbedaan, merangkul yang tak sependapat, dan membuka pikiran, sepertinya tidak akan bertentangan dengan ajaran agama manapun. At least, setahu saya ya. Saya kan bukan juga ahli agama XD Tapi yang jelas, meyakini ajaran agama tanpa bersikap menghakimi, sebenarnya masih mungkin kok. Entahlah kalau ada yang menganggap sikap seperti itu justru bertentangan dengan ajaran agamanya atau bahkan malah merasa tidak sepenuhnya beragama kalau belum menghakimi orang yang berada di luar lingkarannya. Saya sendiri merasa ajaran kasih itu harusnya menjadi ajaran universal yang pastinya ada di semua agama di seluruh dunia. Dan kalau memang orang-orang menerapkannya, tanpa harus menjadi hakim yang serasa paling berkuasa, sepertinya masih ada harapan untuk kehidupan umat beragama di seluruh dunia, tanpa harus disamakan dengan seorang bigot.

Karena kadang orang beragama memang suka lupa, apa esensi dari ajarannya. Apakah hal-hal seperti jenis baju dan makanan memang lebih penting dibandingkan dengan kepedulian terhadap sesama? Semoga saja tidak. Karena kalau tidak hati-hati, bisa-bisa arti kata relijius nanti benar-benar disamakan dengan arti kata bigot.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Starting Over

Jadi... tahun 2015 sudah berlalu... dan janji untuk lebih rajin ngeblog juga sudah terlupakan XD Lalu, baru-baru ini ada beberapa teman yang tanya, "Masih ngeblog Trid?" Juga ada yang bikin ge er dan bilang, "Kangen nih gue sama tulisan lo!"

Beuuuh... kenapa ya akhir-akhir ini malas sekali menulis? Saya masih rutin menulis jurnal sih, tapi itu pun dipaksakan biar at least saya masih terbiasa untuk menulis. Kalau nggak, mungkin otak saya karatan karena kebanyakan balesin email kantor yang isinya itu-itu aja :D

Selain itu, saya masih rutin update blog buku saya. Tapi mereview buku kan beda ya sama nulis yang bener-bener mengeluarkan opini gitu. Saya merasa kemampuan saya mengolah pikiran agak menurun nih hehehe..

Jadi, memang sepertinya harus starting over deh. Mulai lagi pelan-pelan belajar untuk mencari topik, menuangkannya dalam tulisan, dan yang pasti, mengusir rasa malas yang hinggap.

Mudah-mudahan postingan ini bukan postingan terakhir di 2016 ya... 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

DC in a Glimpse



I was lucky enough to be sent by my office for another training and conference in Washington, DC. Aside from the very tight and hectic schedule, I still enjoyed the trip (even though the exhaustion keeps on bugging me up to today). I wanted to share some of the places and experience in more details, but for the entree, let me share some of the glimpses and highlights of the life in the US capital.

1. Pedestrian is the King!
Yes, not like in some other cities in the world *cough, Jakarta, cough* - DC is actually pretty nice with their pedestrians. Even though there are no traffic lights, as long as there's a zebra cross and pedestrians crossing the street, then all drivers must stop their cars and let the pedestrians cross. Several times I forgot about this and stopped at the side of the street when I saw a car approaching, but then the car itself stopped immediately and let me passed. How very nice, I wonder when will Jakarta implements the same policy? *in my dream*

2. Local Food? What Local Food?
It's easy to find good food in DC - lots of great restaurants are located in this city - including in my hotel area (Calvert Street and Adams Morgan). Various cuisines from all over the world are served in the restaurants, from Italian, Lebanese, Japanese, Chinese, Indian, French, Mediteranian, etc etc. But when you try to find a restaurant that served  local cuisine, then you will have to try harder. Nobody could really recommend a good place, let alone mention the type of local cuisines they have. In the end, you will have to be satisfied with sandwich, burger, or salad. True story.

3. Going the Metro Way
DC is one of the cities in the US that has a good public transportation system. The residents rely more on the Metro, or subway, to go everywhere in the city. The system is simple enough, and even for a disoriented person like me, who can't read map and doesn't know where the North is, the Metro can be navigated pretty easily. You can go almost anywhere by Metro. And even though there's no Metro station near your destination, at least you can continue by bus, since the bus route is complemented the Metro.

4. Not a Shopping Destination
If you want to do serious shopping, then DC is not the place. There are not many hip branded stores here, even when we looked for an Apple store, there's only one in the area. I also looked for a basketball shoes- a new and a bit rare brand- and can't find it in most of the sport stores. It's very different than New York, when I transited in the city, I can almost immediately spot the basketball shoes in the nearest shop. But don't worry - DC is great in terms of souvenir shops (almost every tourist spot has its own souvenir shop- and they are all great!!), museum stores (love, love this part of museum trip LOL) and secondhand bookstores (I should really write a separate post on this topic). So.. for me, DC is great, because it can fulfill almost all of my yearnings (vintage thingy, cute trinkets, unique souvenirs, and of course, books!!) - and I'm not a big branded person myself, so all's well.

5. Freebies
DC offers lots of free things to do, all the Smithsonian Museums in the National Mall area are admission-free. The zoo is also free. The memorials, parks and statues are free. And even some historical places, like Capitol Building or Library of Congress - offers free tour for the tourist. Really, the only thing that you should be aware is the souvenir shops :)

6. Overpriced 
Although DC offers lots of free things to do, unfortunately the living cost in the city is very high. I stayed in Mariot Wardman Park Hotel for the conference. It's a very expensive hotel (more than USD 300 per night), but with very minimum facilities. I mean, they don't even provide hotel slippers, or free wifi in the room, or even a mailing service (instead of having someone to deliver my package, I have to go to tha mailing room and search my package there). It's expensive, overpriced, unreasonable, but it's DC.

7. Stiff!
I worked mostly with government offices in the US, and in most of my meetings, there's noone who offered me drinks, or something to eat, or any kind of pleasantness. It's so different than if we have a meeting in Indonesian government offices. There's most likely hot tea, or some snacks, or even lunch box. But in DC, you will have to bring your own stuff. Even in lunch time, you have to buy your own lunch. So there you go, be nice with Indonesian officials :) You know there are worse people to work with on the other side of the world :)

I'll write more about Washington, DC in my next posts. Crossing fingers there won't be more writing slump :)

Monday, June 01, 2015

What's Up?

Yes, what's up?

It's been almost a year since my last post, and yes, this is the longest hiatus I've ever taken since I had this blog more than 10 years ago. It's as if every time I opened the dashboard and ready to type, all words evaporated from my brain, and my fingers were stuck midway to the keyboard.

So, what's up? What's happened during this past 10 months or so, despite my never ending writer (or blogger) block?

Let me start from the big changes first: New President (and Vice President, of course). Yes, I finally had participated in the democracy process of my country- after being golput for a long long time. I know that my chosen candidates are not perfect - but at least they offered some lights in this bleak era. And after more than half year of this new government: am I disappointed? Did I regret my choice? Well, the short answer is no. Even though sometimes they made some doubtful decisions and I didn't always agree with them, I know at least they work hard for this country. And many problems did come from the previous regimes. Cleaning up other people's messes is not easy, and I supported our president and his staff wholeheartedly.

Other news? I have a new position in the office :D It's a personal achievement and I'm proud and all that, but true, with big power, comes big responsibility. Sometimes I had to make some difficult decisions, sometimes I had to swallow my ego and actually listened to my colleagues. Sometimes I had to take risk, endangered my position even let other people snickered at me. But hey, that's life. And I learned so much for this past year tat I think I could face anything now (well, almost anything).

Yofel has turned 5 and I turned 34 (not ashamed of that, really XD). He's getting ready for elementary school and I can't agree more that -as cliche as it sounds- time does fly really fast. He just lost his first milk tooth yesterday and I could still remember clearly when his first tooth showed up. Scary, huh?

I hope I could memorize all moments, precious moments, small or big. I think that's what I realized this past year, where I had a huge gap in this blog of my memories from the last time I posted something. I hope I will never have another blogger block - however busy or chaotic my life would be. At least a simple sentence or some memorable words could capture my days more justifiably.

So today is just the beginning. It's hard to start writing again but I hope my fingers are still capable to fly around the keyboard.

We'll see :)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Rhetorical Devices

Time to continue my sharing from the Jakarta Post's Writing Workshop. The second session is about Rhetorical Devices, very useful for people who want to make their writing stronger. There are many rhetorical devices, such as simile, alliteration, tricolon, etc. If you remember your Bahasa Indonesia classes from high school, you'll remember the lessons about "majas", right? This is kinda similar with that.

For the assignment, the coach asked us to submit an article that has at least 3 different rhetorical devices. Here's mine below. Can you spot the rhetorical devices?



Why I Fight the iPad

Kids who are raised in the digital age do not understand how it feels to be a gaptek (gagap teknologi – or technology illiterate). They seem to be equipped by a sixth sense for technology related stuff: they know exactly the differences between touch screen phones and the ones with keypads, they can adjust easily with new gadgets, and they usually can find the best shortcuts or tricks in our phone- long before we even knew that they existed.

My 4,5 years old son amazed me every time he played with his iPad. Beating my score in Temple Run, sailing easily through the dead end levels in Candy Crush, or showing me the ways how to play Angry Birds correctly. I watched with mixed feelings when his fingers moved across the screen, like a cheetah chasing his prey.

I realized that nowadays iPad has played a huge role in children’s education and brain development. A study conducted at Longfield Academy in Kent, England, showed positive impacts of the iPad when being used as educational tool for students and teachers. The study mentioned that iPads have revolutionized teaching and encouraged collaborative learning.

Meanwhile, some companies like Vivity Labs had launched scientifically designed brain-training games to help develop children’s brain. One of the games, Sparky’s Adventures, has Parent’s Corner that gives parents insight into how their kids’ brains are developing while playing the games.

But besides all the glitters, can iPad really replace the green scenery and the fresh air? Or the pleasure of playing outside with your friends, socializing with real people? I don’t think so.

If you grew up before the 90s, I’m pretty sure you still remember the beauty of playing outdoor with your friends. I remember vividly my excitement every time I walked outside my house and anticipated a long, fun afternoon. Playing tag with the neighbor kids and fishing in the nearest pond and riding bicycle and exploring the neighborhood. The joy that my son, along with so many kids out there, missed a lot these days.

I noticed that my son spent so much time indoor, glued into his iPad screen, and only spent little time outdoor socializing with his friends. Every time I had prepared other activities for him, iPad always allured him to find some excuses to check on it. Even more unbelievable is whenever we have a playdate with other kids, they keep on busy playing (or exchanging) iPads! And this is when I finally declared my war against the iPad.

The first time I tried to separate my son with his iPad, it was so hard. He’s furious: kicking, screaming, wailing. I’ve developed a schedule that limits his time playing with iPad. Homework first, then he can play for 30 minutes. On weekends, I prepared outdoor activities for him, from swimming lessons to museum trips and biking in Car Free Day. Anything that can separate him with his iPad, even only for a while.

Of course it’s not easy. Another day, another battle, another drama. My son still asks for his iPad every time he doesn’t have interesting thing to do, or if he sees other kids playing with their iPads. Moreover, I know that sometimes, when I was busy with works or had to catch up with something else, I was the one who’ve been tempted to pull out the iPad from its hiding place and give it to my son so he wouldn’t disturb me.

But gradually, the effort works. Last week I accompanied him to his swimming lesson and he didn’t want to come out from the pool even though his lesson was already over. And the last time we met with my brother’s kids, the children were playing football instead of being busy with their gadgets. It’s relieving to see kids having fun outside and laughing out loud for a change.

I agree that it’s impossible to eliminate the role of gadgets in this digital era. And like other gadgets, iPad has its own perks and positive traits. But I’m glad to say that although the iPad still becomes a part of our lives, its grip is not as strong as before and my son is less dependent on it.

It is indeed good news but with the school holiday just around the corner, I know the challenge is not over yet. And my fight will continue- maybe for many years to come.         

Monday, August 04, 2014

Sing It Singapore!


Another family holiday, this time was a crowded one. The main objective was to make the kids happy, so the destinations - Singapore and Johor - were chosen just to fulfill that goal. Here are some recollections, recommendations, and reminiscence from the memorable holiday :)

1. Peninsula Hotel

- is where we stayed during the short trip. Not too expensive like the hotels in Orchard Road, but still it's pretty decent for kids and the location is also very good. Not far from City Hall station, there is Watson just next door and 7-11 across the street. Recommended! Ow, and the best thing is there's no Indonesians staying at this hotel so you can talk freely in Bahasa Indonesia without worrying somebody will eavesdrop :D

2. Legoland Malaysia

Look at the background! Those two little devils were having a grand time :D
We chartered a bus from Singapore because our group was quite big (17 people). The traveling time was not so bad, about an hour from Singapore to Johor Baru. But the process of getting off the bus to go through Immigration check points (one in Singapore and one in Malaysia) was pretty exhausting, especially for the kids. Finally we made it to Legoland, and since it was a weekday, the place was not too crowded. We almost successfully riding all the rides :)

It's true, though, that Legoland is more suitable for kids below 10 years old. The rides are quite slow and children friendly. They even have two roller coasters, one is for younger kids (like Alap-alap in Dufan). Yofel was pretty excited. Too bad the 4D theater didn't function well, the scent and moving functions didn't work, although the kids related well with the Chima story (you only understand this if your kids play Lego, trust me).

Another cool ride is the Dino Island, but it's not eligible for kids whose heights are below 120 cm. It's like Niagara-gara in Dufan, but instead of Indians and cowboys, there are dinosaurs made from Lego. Too bad Yofel can't ride it.

One of Yofel's favorite rides is the Junior Driving School. Here, kids pretended to enter the driving school, and learn to ride a car (again, made from Lego, very cute). At the end of the ride, they are allowed to have a driving license (although you'll have to pay R35 for this haha).

Before getting the license. Watch out Pak Polisi!
 At the end of the day, we gave the kids a chance to shop for their favorite Lego. My tip is to prepare extra money to buy Lego in one of the shops, because it's worth it, the price is cheaper up to IDR 200k.

We got back to Singapore by our bus, and again, had to pass through the Immigration checkpoints. This time it's more challenging because the kids were already really tired and cranky. My suggestion, if you have extra money and extra time, it's better to spend one night in the Legoland Hotel, and you can also try the waterpark.

Dino from Lego!

3. Dinosaurs Dawn to Extinction (and Annie Leibovitz Exhibition!)
Which one should I choose? :D
The next day, our group split up and we took Yofel to ArtScience Museum in Marina Bay Sands. The building has very cool design, modern and sleek with spacious rooms for the exhibitions. Dinosaurs Dawn to Extinction was almost over, we were lucky it's still there when we visited the museum. The good news was, there's an exhibition of Annie Leibovitz at the 3rd floor and the combo ticket price was quite cheap, so my sister and I decided we will stop by the Annie Leibovitz exhibition after done with the Dino.

But first thing first: Yofel was soooo excited and happy with the dino exhibition. It showed the most wonderful things: real fossils, edutainment related to dinosaurs, replicas of jungle and even the almost real fighting scenes between the fierce dinos.

Cool replicas!
 The audio, video, even 3D demos were very descriptive and interesting. For kids like Yofel, there were some cool games and activities that suitable for children and toddlers. I wish this kind exhibition will visit Jakarta in the future!

Next, my sister and I went to the 3rd floor to see the Annie Leibovitz photo exhibition. I love the spacious, light gallery where the exhibition was held, and I love how the gallery arranged Annie's photos chronologically. My most favorite is of course the Leonardo DiCaprio's one :D

We're not supposed to take picture here *ssshhhh*

4. The Sound of Music

We were very lucky we could watch Sound of Music the musical in Marina Bay Sands Mastercard Theater. This was actually the first time I took Yofel to a musical so I was pretty nervous. Will he make a scene? Will he be bored?

The theater itself is amazing- it's large with live music performance below the stage. The acoustic quality is marvelous and the stage design is beautiful. The performance is wonderful, too. Although coming from Broadway, the theater gave opportunity to Singaporean to also perform. So from the 7 Von Trapp's kids, there's one Singaporean :)

Yofel unexpectedly loved the performance. He sat in the children special stool provided by the theater and enjoyed the musical scenes, especially the Do Re Mi one :) But he was a bit confused because there were some scenes different from the movie. And Yofel got bored during the conversation scenes, especially that involved only the grown ups. He fell asleep after the intermission, but I'm so proud of him for accompanying me in this amazing musical :)

yaaawnnn XD

the gank...
5. Fullerton Walk

Singapore is crazy about running (like Jakarta) and now there are lots and lots of running track. Too bad I didn't bring my running shoes, but one evening we decided to walk from our hotel to the Fullerton area, passing by the running track (and many runners!) to the Merlion. The atmosphere was so nice, and the view was beautiful.

Next time I visit Singapore, running shoes are in my packing list :)




Friday, June 13, 2014

Opinion Piece

My office registered the staff to join a writing workshop by the Jakarta Post. The trainers are from various background and the workshop's sessions range from writing opinion pieces to using power writing tools. This workshop made me itchy to dig my writing passion. I looked at this blog shamefully since it's been neglected for quite some time.

I promised myself to revisit my writing habit, try to write something every other day or week. Writing has always been my passion, my escapade from daily mundane problems, and I truly miss my writing days.

After each session, the trainer assigned us to write something related to the topic. For the first assignment, we had to write an opinion piece. This is a good exercise, especially because we have a whole session specially to discuss and do some peer editing. Very inspiring.

Here's my first opinion piece. Open for comments and suggestions :)
Hopefully I'll have some time later to share more about what I gain from this workshop.
Enjoy!



The Road to Purple Pinky

Many years has passed since the last time I walked to my TPS (Tempat Pemungutan Suara – Indonesian term for election booth) to vote and get my pinky purpled by the famous ink. With the way democracy and election implemented in Indonesia, not voting became the easiest decision for me.  I couldn’t care less with Indonesian politics for the last decade since I had been too upset with the moral crisis this country facing, namely government false promises, fake images of elite politicians, and the big corruption everywhere.

I had a first-hand experience on how the false promises were made (and later be broken). In 2005, when I was still a journalist working for one of the largest online media in Indonesia, my editor assigned me to cover Jusuf Kalla’s pre election campaign. Kalla then was the candidate for vice president of the already popular SBY. I followed him closely in many of his trips across the archipelago, from island to island and big cities to remote villages, listening to his speeches and promises. They were always the same, really sweet and sugar coated talks that told in front of many hopeful faces, and in the end made me quite bored and sceptical. After SBY and Kalla had been elected that year and all the promises to Indonesia were forgotten – replaced by the compromise and heavy coalitions in the government- I vowed that I would never vote again.

Apparently I was not the only one who felt that way. According to the Election Commission (KPU), the number of Golput (Golongan Putih– the term used for non voters in Indonesia) has been increasing during the last three elections, from 10,40% in 1999, to 23% in 2004, and around 29% in 2009. This data was quite surprising, considering the stage of democracy in Indonesia that is still young and dynamic, and people should not start to lose their faith in the government and democracy process in this country yet.

However, after a dose of careful reflection, I’ve changed my mind recently. I realized that losing faith – and hope – does not really change anything. One consideration is because, in the absence of my vote,  the government will still do whatever they used to do, and I don’t have the right to complain or judge them, since I choose to be indiferent to politics and did not use my right to vote in the elections. It’s like when you have a movie night with your friends and you don’t want to choose which movie you want to watch, but then you have the loudest complaint because the movie doesn’t fit your taste.

There are many reasons why people choose to become Golput. Beside feeling disappointed with the government performance, some people do not vote because they can’t decide which candidate is better, even marginally. Others become Golput incidentally, because they are not registered or even do not have adequate information about the voting system in Indonesia.

One of the reasons why most of my friends do not want to vote is because they think politics has nothing to do with them. They couldn’t care less who will become the President of Indonesia as long as they can still keep their jobs and feed their families. Flash news: politics is real. Politics is a part of our lives. Are you tired of the bad traffic everytime you’re going home from the office? Annoyed when you try to open your favorite website but it’s being blocked by the Ministry of Information? Frustrated with the ever more absurd system of National Exam that your children must pass? Welcome to the hard reality, where politics has real impacts in our daily activities.

We probably do not have the best candidates in the world for the upcoming presidential election, and nobody can guarantee that their promises will be fulfilled after they’re being elected. One has a doubtful past and the other still has much to prove. Moreover, some faces still come from the New Order era.

But this time, I’ve made up my mind. Indonesia is at an important moral junction and this election may cast some light to our country. For me, it’s still better to put hopes up and be disappointed afterwards (and then exercise my right to complain!) than to throw away hopes and live a stagnant life. For me, it is better to walk to the TPS and get my pinky purpled, than stay at home and hate my country with all my might without doing anything about it. Because like Dante Alighieri said, “The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.”


Friday, April 11, 2014

You'll Survive

People come and go.

How many times have you said goodbye? Lots of times, I bet. Like so many people out there, I hate goodbyes and farewells (who doesn't?).

A few weeks ago, I had to say goodbye to my boss for the past four years. It's a bit dramatic since he decided to leave quite abruptly - before his contract actually ends - and with a bit of drama-rama (and some baggage left behind!!). I was feeling lost because we are actually in the middle of reorganizing everything in the office. Mad, sad and abandoned, I felt the whole situation was kinda unfair to us the staff. Because of some dispute between the higher authorities, we were left alone - and without any guidance how to proceed with the tasks until the new boss comes.

I remember when my old boss said to me, "So this is it, kiddo. I wish you the best things in life, and I know you'll do fine." I was between hugging him and punching him since it was easy for him, the one who left, than to us, the one who'd left behind.

Not long after that, I got news from my personal trainer (PT) in gym, the one who had made me keeping up with healthy life for the past six months. He said to me that he will move to another gym - quite far from my place- to pursue a better opportunity. I was devastated since I like him and his trainings a lot. He's the one who always supported me whenever I wanted to give up. He's the one who made me realize that it's possible to change your way of life - even though you're already in your 30s and haven't done sports for a decade.

And just like that, he's gone, after transferred my training to another PT.

I hate goodbyes. I hate losing people. But here I am. With a new boss coming my way (he'll be here next week and rumors said he's worse than my previous boss, but we'll see!) and a new PT in the gym (my first session with him was yesterday and surprisingly went quite well!!)

Yes there are some adjustments to make, some things that I still miss, and some differences that are hard to take. But guess what? I survive.

Yes, people come and go. But I'll survive. We'll survive :)