Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A trip that taught me not to give up

Top of Mount Ijen, May 2015

A family affair

Truthfully, I didn't plan any vacation for the rest of 2015 until my sister, who's been living in Holland, told me that she was coming back for three weeks. After some planning with her and our brother, we decided to have a trip together. The destination was Mount Ijen, for they wanted a sight of the Blue Fire, which can only be found in two places in the entire world. 

So on Friday, 22nd of May, I dragged my love one and take a plane home to join my siblings. We picked this airways in the next picture. Since it wasn't a long flight, we figure that convenience can take a second place. I should tell you, though, the combination of rough weather (and knowing that most Indonesian does not take warning for not using their cellphone on board seriously) was not good for my mental health. (Though it paid off after getting home and having what my mother cooked for dinner).
Meet Mr. Turtle, my travelling avatar.
The plane flew quite low, and we got to see sights of Java island from above. I took this picture on the way, not knowing really what mountain it was.
Can it be Merapi?

Starting it hot

Fast forward to the next day, the real trip began. We were picked up by our ride around 10.00 AM on Saturday, since it will take around 6 to 8 hours drive from our house to Bondowoso, a city close to Mount Ijen. We had one guide who accompanied us along the trip and one driver. Our team consisted of me and my dearest love, my older brother, my sister and his boyfriend. Boy, did we have fun teasing my brother for being alone.

The ride itself was rather unpleasant due to the air conditioner malfunction. It was as hot as a sauna that we opted to open the windows. But that was about the only complain we had along this trip, fortunately.

Just at lunchtime, we arrived at the city of Probolinggo, one of the cities along the northern coast of East Java. We stopped at at place called Ocean Garden, a restaurant located in a mangrove forest. The restaurant has these tiny huts connected to the main area with boardwalks. Unfortunately, the path that goes to the seaside was being repaired, so we can't go too far inside the mangrove forest.

The food was good, by the way, so if you happened to be around the city and wanted a nice experience, Ocean Garden could be a place to check.

The hut that we picked for lunch
Mr. Turtle peeking at the swamp

A cute little fountain
Garuda statue

A long drive later, we arrived at the town of Bondowoso. It was past dusk, around 7 hours from when we set off. We stopped at a hotel for some dinner and rest. Our guide told us to take a good rest, because the hike up the mountain would not be easy. It will take another 3 hours drive from Bondowoso to the mountain, and since the gate to Mount Ijen itself won't be open until 2 AM, we had about 6 hours for rest.
The small cozy hotel

I couldn't rest that easily, though, since I am used to sleeping at certain hour at night. And since it was my first time in Bondowoso, I asked my boyfriend to accompany me sightseeing for a bit. 

Luckily the hotel was not far from the city square, or Alun-alun as we called it in Bahasa Indonesia. We walked there to see people enjoying their weekend, caught a sight of a bunch of kids practicing hip-hop dance, and passing by a small carnival held at one corner of the Alun-alun.

We spent around 1 hour strolling around the area. And I have to say, I envy the serenity and the slow-pace feel of the town. It was dark, yet the sidewalks were well-lit that I felt secure walking around at night in a place that I just visited that day, the vehicles were slow enough that crossing the streets was peaceful. Something that I haven't felt for years since I came to Bandung.  

To give up or not to give up, that was the question

An hour before midnight, we started out again. We left the hotel and head to our main destination, Mount Ijen. We arrived at the gate exactly when it was just opened, so we set out almost immediately after getting our tickets.

This picture is of the rest point near the entrance, just before the hiking path. As you can see, it was about 3 KM away from the crater, with around 1500 m difference in height. 

Paltuding under the morning light
Now you see, I'm not much of an exercising kind. Even my boyfriend would scold me time to time for my laziness. And it kinda show as we started out on the climb. Our guide brought along a second guide, a local man to join us, just to make sure we have a help if our team got separated. Mr guide said that sometimes a group would have different pace of walk, so having more than one guide would be advantageous. He probably could tell that I was not as fit as my siblings, for I got left behind so badly in the end. 

The climb took us through a series of sandy path, dark and unlit. We managed our way with flashlights, with the guide telling us to stay on one side of the road, avoiding the cliffs to the other side. The path itself were mostly sloped upward, testing both our stamina and willpower. 

For me, it was not easy. I fretted a lot to my boyfriend who stayed with me while my siblings took off ahead with the local guide. I stopped a lot too, sometimes walking just a few steps ahead before catching a breath. Groups and groups of people passed me by, making it look easy to climb up, yet I couldn't even force myself to walk more than 20 steps ahead without stopping. Thankfully I had my dearest and our guide who encouraged me along the way.

As we made our way up, slow as an old lady, we met people who turned back and gave up. Our guide said that lots of people do gave up, both men and women. I didn't want to. Even if it will take me hours, I still want to climb all the way up. Once I got the the halfway stop, it felt so good that I was whooping out like a kid.

The rest of the track was not as hard, though it still took me some time to get up there. We reached the peak just as dawn tinted the sky with colors. I didn't manage to climb down the crater and caught a sight of the blue fire, but I was just in time for the sunrise. And the beautiful view was enough to pay off for all the climbs.

Morning sky and the Ijen caldera
Saw this cute tree on the way down
I am happy that I didn't give up, otherwise I won't get to see such beautiful sights. It felt just like fiction, where at the end of a hardship, you will get such reward that you'd be forever grateful. That's what I learned from this trip, that I should never give up. Because life is too great of an adventure to give up.

I also learnt that the way down is almost always hardest than the climb up.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Gaza: Authentic Mediterranean Resto, Bandung

Saya punya seorang sahabat yang biasanya menemani saya di akhir minggu. Salah satu kegiatan rutin kami adalah mencoba tempat-tempat makan yang ada di Bandung dan sekitarnya. Sejujurnya, saya tidak merasa kompeten untuk membuat food blog, berhubung saya jenis orang yang rewel masalah makanan. Tapi, sayang juga kalau misalnya semua pengalaman kami hanya kami simpan sendiri. Kita tidak pernah tahu, mungkin saja post sederhana ini bisa membantu orang lain yang galau memilih menu makan mereka, bukan? 

Maka ijinkanlah saya mencoba berbagi. 

Post kali ini adalah tentang Gaza: Authentic Medirretanean Restaurant

Papan penanda di depan restaurant
Kenapa kami memilih tempat ini? Awalnya karena sahabat saya sedang ingin menikmati makanan timur tengah. Setelah melakukan research, Gaza muncul di deretan atas tempat yang direkomendasikan. Perlu perjuangan untuk kami mencapai tempat ini, berhubung kami tinggal di ujung lain Bandung dan kebetulan weekend ini adalah perayaan ulang tahun Bandung yang ke 204. 

Tapi semua macet yang kami alami di jalan cukup terhapuskan setelah makanan terhidang di hadapan kami. 

Hal menarik pertama tentang restoran ini, adalah tempat parkirnya yang jauh lebih besar dibanding tempat makannya sendiri. Sayangnya, saya lupa mengambil foto seluruh tempat. Tempat makannya berupa ruangan terbuka, dan hanya ada kurang dari 20 set meja. 

insert peta di dalam buku menu

Setiap meja di sini, disertai lubang seperti ini di tengahnya. Untuk apa? 
Hal menarik kedua adalah lubang seperti foto di atas. Saya awalnya mengira lubang tersebut berguna untuk asbak bagi pengunjung yang merokok. Lalu, saat makanan akan dihidangkan, kami dhampiri seorang pegawai yang membawa teko air, sabun cuci tangan dan handuk kecil. Beliau menawarkan jika kami mau dibantu untuk mencuci tangan. Saat kami menjawab mau, beliau membantu dengan menuangkan air ke tangan kami, di atas lubang ini. 

Yup, ternyata lubang ini berguna untuk menampung air pembuangan cuci tangan. Keren loh,

Mari kita mulai dengan menu minuman. 

Cold Marakesh Tea, idr 17.000

Haleeb Ma'haal, idr 22.500
Kami masing-masing memesan satu minuman, Marakeesh tea untuk saya, Cold Lemon Lime (idr13.900) untuk sahabat saya (lagi-lagi saya lupa mengambil foto). Awalnya sahabat saya berencana memilih Haleem Ma'haal saja, tapi atas rekomendasi pegawai, akhirnya kami membagi minuman ini berdua sebagai hidangan tambahan. 

Menurut saya, juara hari ini adalah Haleeb Ma'haal. Menurut resep yang saya temukan, minuman ini adalah susu dengan kapulaga (cardamon). Yang terasa di lidah sih sebenarnya lebih mirip ke campuran jahe dan kayu manis, tapi mungkin saja lidah saya salah. Disajikan dalam teko keramik dan gelas kecil, minuman ini sangat enak untuk dinikmati perlahan... sambil menikmati kemacetan jalan yang terlihat di depan restoran, hahah. 

Hal menarik ketiga, lemon lime yang dipesan sahabat saya, sangat segar dan cenderung asam. Marakeesh tea punya saya, yang intinya adalah green tea plus mint, memiliki rasa yang segar ringan. Sementara Haleeb Ma'haal, kaya akan rasa rempah dan susu. Saran saya adalah meminum masing-masing secara terpisah, karena perpaduannya tidak terlalu cocok di lidah. 

Nah, saatnya menuju makanan.  
Shiz Kuzu, idr 59.900

Ruzz Kabsa Kharuv, idr 55.500
Shiz Kuzu adalah daging kambing dengan sedikit bumbu (rasa dagingnya kuat), plus bawang bombay dan tomat yang dipanggang dalam bentuk sate. Satu porsi berisi 3 tusuk, dihidangkan dengan 2 lembar roti, salad berbahan paprika, bawang bombay dan tomat, serta saus yang berbahan dasar susu. 

Ruzz Kabsa Kharuv adalah daging kambing yang dimasak ala stew, disajikan dengan nasi rempah, serta sambal berbahan tomat segar. 

Selain dua menu di atas kami juga memesan snack bernama Arayas Dujjaj (idr 24.500). Snack ini berupa roti (seperti roti yang ada di menu Shiz Kuzu), berisi daging cincang, dihidangkan dengan salad dan saus berbahan dasar susu (seperti yang ada di menu Shiz Kuzu juga).

Seperti saya tulis di awal, saya adalah orang yang rewel masalah memilih makanan. Saya tidak pernah suka lemak pada daging, dan saya tidak suka bagian daging yang terlalu dekat dengan tulang karena aromanya terlalu kuat. Kemarin, ketika Ruzz Kabsa Kharuv pesanan saya datang, saya sedikit khawatir. Tiga potongan besar daging yang dihidangkan terlihat penuh lemak dan bertulang. 

Tapi saya berhasil menghabiskan dua potongan besar itu, potongan ketiga saya hibahkan ke sahabat saya karena saya sudah kenyang. Ya, saya yang pemilih ini berhasil memakan daging berlemak. Mungkin karena bumbunya kuat dan entah bagaimana cara masaknya, daging kambing yang saya makan sama sekali tidak beraroma kuat dan memiliki tekstur yang lembut. Singkat kata, enak. 

Apakah kami akan kembali mengunjungi tempat ini? Jawabannya adalah ya. Walau harganya cukup di atas budget makan harian, rasa makanan dan minuman yang cocok dengan selera kami berdua meyakinkan kami untuk datang kembali di masa depan. 

Hal menarik keempat, dengar-dengar dari seorang teman yang rumahnya dekat dengan restoran ini, Gaza tetap buka di bulan puasa. Namun, mereka hanya mau melayani makanan untuk foreigner yang pasti bukan muslim. Jika pengunjung yang datang bertampang lokal, maka pelayan akan menolak untuk menyajikan makanan. Interesting.


Gaza Medirretanean Restaurant
JL Pahlawan No 72, Jawa Barat 40124, Indonesia
+62 22 7219361

Food:  idr 45.000 - 60.000    (di menu ada menu kambing panggang satu ekor, kira-kira idr 1.000.000)
Drinks:  idr 10.000 - 30.000
Open: 13.00 - 01.00

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Starting the year with a bang

fireworks, right outside my bedroom window
Seriously, I think people are taking this saying too literally on any New Year's eve. It's almost like a war out there, with loud bangs, noisy horns and bright fire crackers burning in the sky. To put maters to worse, I couldn't sleep until 3 in the morning last night, for some unknown reason.

As a result, I ended up waking late, throwing away half of the last vacation day with sleeping groggily. I decided to cook for the afternoon, so off I went for a quick shopping before making...

http://eemoticons.net Doenjang Jjigae   http://eemoticons.net

For those who does not know, Doenjang Jjigae is korean style soybean paste stew. I fell in love with it from the first time I tasted it. And thank God for the internet, I found the recipe that easily helped me to make this stew myself. Check here for the recipe.

Alas, I found another problem at the market. I can't find some of the ingredients I was looking for. Hey, even grocers and suppliers need their vacation too, right? :D

So I made due with anything I can find. Regular cucumber instead of zucchini, canned mushroom instead of fresh ones, minced meat (I found some leftover in the fridge), and even a yellow tofu (usually used for fried tofu) instead of white ones.

But you know what, even with those ingredients and the result looking like this sad little picture below, it still taste marvelous. Especially on a cold evening. Come over to my house, there's still some in the kitchen. :p

Eat me~
I had dinner while watching the new MV from my favorite idol group, Morning Musume. '14 (read as Morning Musume One Four). Yeah, management decided that it's a good idea to add the year behind their name starting this year. I myself don't really care. I've been following them long enough to love them through all the ups and down. http://eemoticons.net

Thus, here's the video to grace our first day of 2014 and to spread the love for Morning Musume. '14. 

As always, thank you for reading and see you again soon.

PS. I found this site for cute emoticons. Yay emoticons!
Now I can make my blog more lively.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year 2014

I'm watching fireworks right off my bedroom window. Here's to a good year ahead!

Last day of a year is the start of a new adventure

People would probably comment on my inconsistency. Here I was just starting a tumblr account the other day, and now I'm already abandoning it for a blogspot site. Why? Honestly, I made that tumblr thing because someone suggested me to do so when I told him I want to start a fresh blog. By a few posts, I realized that tumblr is more of a picture sharing site, not the ideal kind of blog I wanted.

So I went back here. Tadaa! I welcome you to my -hopefully- regularly updated blog. No, I should update regularly. I will make it a goal to write at least one entry per day for the next year. Let's start by making a summary of the soon ending year of 2013.


This has been a rather eventful year for me. Filled with lots of ups and downs, with tears and laughter, with food and friends and everything else in between. 

The year started with a great movie, Les Miserables. It was one of those movies that I know I'm going to watch while crying, but I love it anyway. January also witnessed the wedding of a dear friend I known from work. She's such a sweet lady, truly. Sadly, though, I couldn't attend the wedding she held back in our hometown. 

But on February, she held a party where I got to duet some Disney tunes per her request. On February I also exchanged my old phone for an android device, now allowing me to do things while on the move. It was also the month where my favorite Japanese idol family, Hello! Project opened up their youtube TV channel. This has been my weekly entertainment since. 

March witnessed the end of a year long Dungeons and Dragons campaign I had with my good friends titled the Scarlet Banners. I remembered how I cried when it ended, not as much as sadness but out of anger. 

Then, came April. The greatest achievement was attending my dearest's graduation day. Why was it such an achievement? Because I got to spend the day with his whole family. Also, I (although late) watched Life of Pi. At the end of the month, I got to meet friends who I haven't seen for years. I see them quite often in my dreams, so it was fulfilling to finally get to spend some time with them. 

May was mostly spent with brewing plot for a better future. Which was brought to life on June. I moved from my old rented house to a better place as well as starting a new job. It has more challenges, but it is also more fun. With some close friends, we made our own game company called Ekuator Games, aiming to create games with great storylines. 

As a start, we launched a kickstarter project on July. Sadly, we failed to reach our goal by the deadline on August. I visited my hometown for annual holiday feasts this month, returning back bringing a large package filled with food made by my mom for my dearest. Also, I bought a toy I've wanted for years after breaking my own glasses a few days before. 

Yay! VF-1A/S fighter plane from Macross anime

September, was the official birthday of my favorite idol group, Morning Musume. It's their 16th anniversary, and I've been their fans for 15 of those years. They celebrated this month by releasing two great songs. Also, I got one of my short stories published in an anthology that I worked on with some close friends. I never thought that the story was going to be published so I -as always- just wrote anything that came up in my head. I hope people won't get too shocked reading that story called 'F'.

October didn't have much going on other than the 7th anniversary with my boyfriend and a somewhat huge fight. But it was all good by November when my brother came to visit town. He spent ten days in town including his birthday. So as a surprise, I invited my mom over to celebrate it together. I was also the day that the anthology project I mentioned before got officially launched.  
A to Z anthology by request

And on December, I got one of the best birthday gift ever. A set of art books by Yoshitaka Amano, filled with his arts for the Final Fantasy series. And thus, went the wonderful year of 2013 for me. 

The Sky, Yoshitaka Amano

Last but not least, what would a New Year be without some goals and resolutions, right? Mine would be: 

- To be a happier person. Really, I should keep reminding myself that being always nice and waiting for other people won't do me any good. Which means for example, no more giving empty promises and no more keeping up with people who runs late.
- Have hobbies. It sucks lately since one of my hobby became my work. On one side, I a blessed to enjoy my work. On the other hand, I need another hobby that won't always remind me of work. 
- Make some critical decision. I'll tell you more when the day comes. 
- Learn at least one song and play it well on the flute.

I'll stop here and go have lunch now. Thank you for reading and have fun on this New Year's eve. Be safe and see you next year!

- nath