Friday, October 7, 2016

The summer after freshman year

I'd be lying if I said I didn't dread about summer break three months ago. Just read a post in June, in the middle of all classes saying I was tired and needed to go home while I knew of the fact that I wouldn't go home until next year. I was afraid I wouldn't do anything during the two months break and ended up homesick, longing for home. I should've had more faith in myself. This summer turns out to be the best thing a break could happened to me and I'm forever grateful about how things unfolded.

I started my summer with teaching English in Himeshima, a tiny, remote island in northern Kyushu for a week. Everyday I biked my way around the island; breakfast at 8, going to Himeshima Middle School at 9, lunch at 12, back to the school til evening, dinner at 6, then free time. Every-single-day. I assured you, the food was something to remember. I'm not talking about regular sushi or udon, but full-set of Japanese food in every single meal. Me being myself, I can't take much in one time, so I tried to save it in my bento box for later if I get hungry again. Nope, didn't work like that. I never felt hungry during my stay there, always being fed with lots and lots of seafood, veggies, miso soup...

Not only the food that I missed, but also the students whom I taught. My fond memory about them is our BBQ party, grilling all the meat in the school yard and spending time together. We went to the beach and swam, as well, cause who wouldn't use the opportunity to swim everyday while in Himeshima??? Ah, the memory. I can still feel the morning sunlight kissing my skin while biked along the harbor.

Right after Himeshima ended, I went straight to Fukuoka airport and flew to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam to do volunteering in teaching English in a small city called Vinh Long, about 2 hours drive from the capital city. One of the best investment I have done in my life. Investment to myself as a person, investment at my Vietnamese family whom I gained over the course of 2 weeks I spent in Vietnam, lifetime friendship and new grown love to children there.

I remember the day when we left after 9 days of teaching English in a local elementary school and living together in a house with other volunteers in Vinh Long. We were bawling our eyes out, crying so hard with the children that live nearby, who always visited us during our camp. It was so hard to leave, it felt like it was my home... Even though I couldn't understand what the children were saying whatsoever. They couldn't speak English and I certainly cannot speak Vietnamese. Despite the high communication barrier, we connected somehow. The miracle that always leave me baffled. Along the way, they have touched my heart and I'm forever thankful for the chances.

After we left Vung Tau, we stayed in Ho Chi Minh City for a few days, touring the city and had exchange with local university students. 

Anh Quanggg

Midnight food hunt in Saigon

In downtown Saigon

With Yunnn

After Vinh Long, I visited Yun's family in Vung Tau. Yun and I share an apartment in Beppu with Nadya. I stayed in Yun's house for 5 days. SOOOOO HAPPY to meet Yun's parent!!! The first day I was there, Yun's mom told me she is adopting me hahahhaa. After that she always refer to me as her 'lovely daughter'

With Ba

After we cut our hair!

mẹ ❤


she understands my love for seafood❤

After Vietnam, I went back to Beppu and still had about 4 days until leaving to teach English in another island. So the next day I arrived Beppu, I tried my luck to do my first real part-time job. It was in Nadya's baito place, a hotel called Ryotiku. The hotel is small, family business one. They needed baito people so bad, they didn't even interviewed me. I went straight to work the morning after I got back from Vietnam.

I worked there for four days before I left for Kyoto. One thing I learned from that experience: labor work is not for me. All my respect goes to people like Nadya and Yun who work in kitchen in hotels or restaurants. I just....... Can't stand washing dishes, serving snacks, or cleaning tables for 6 hours everyday. In my head every morning I worked, I imagined the brain inside my head started to shut down and I turned into a robot with only my hands moved. Now, it's not as bad as what I've been describing here for sure. Every person is different. Yun and Nadya loves working in the kitchen in Suginoi Hotel much because they love their coworkers. Labor work is simply just not for me. 

first day of hotel work with Nadya

Most probably because I have known there is another job I love and fit me well: teaching English. 

So then after 4 days working in the hotel, I took off to Kyoto to teach in Ritsumeikan Primary School for 10 days and love every single second of it. I love my class, 2nd Grade R kumi. I love dinner trip after work everyday with other APU students that are TAs as well. I LOVE my host family. I have a new family in Osaka, whom I call Okaasan, Otousan and my imoto, Sakurako. 

And the highlight of my Kyoto trip, the one who shows me nothing is impossible as long as we believe, the one whom I will be forever grateful to enter my life and gives me reasons, the one who challenges me and supports me at the same time. The same one whom I'm forever thankful of to God. He loves us so much He gave us a chance to meet in the middle of our long-term long distance relationship.

He got a scholarship to do exchange program in Japan for a week. Out of all places in Japan, he got the team that stays in Kansai area. And out of all time and plans, I was in Kansai at the same time with him because of my work. If I was in any other place, say Vietnam or Himeshima, working, we wouldn't have met. God's plan is precise and I'm forever thankful.

Went back to Beppu after teaching in Kyoto and went straight to work in Ryotiku again. Not for long though. I was working there for 2 days before decided to quit. Then I was jobless for a while. Not for long, though. Soon after that, with my experiences in the summer teaching English here and there, I got an offer to teach long term in a small English school in Oita owns by a British man and his wife, a Japanese woman.

Since then, I got LOTS of offer to teach English. Maybe because I can communicate in Japanese now so I can navigate my way around when looking for job. 

Summer break is a blessing for me. Wouldn't change anything for the world

Thursday, July 21, 2016

a small gesture to notice

This is probably the longest break I've taken from blogging since I started to blog six years ago. Two months straight without any stories! Haha. Even the last post was just the lyric of my favorite song posted in between quarrel and thirsty heart.

Exam week has been going on right now, strong and its current been trying to drown me inside. I hope I can keep afloat til the end. There are no other way than surviving this anyway. I just had a test this morning, doesn't have much impact to my grades but it measures my ability so it's important anyway. Let's just say it was a total zonk, I mean TOTALLY zonk. I couldn't even feel bad about it, just laughed at how zonked it was. Perhaps with that zonk score, I've restored my ability to laugh at life with its twists and turns. Lately I've been so wrung up I couldn't laugh at myself. I couldn't even brought myself to blog or write on my journal.

With a distracted mind, I went to my dorm to nap, totally forgot that I was supposed to meet someone in the library. After that was taken care of, I had an uneasy nap for 20 minutes and headed back to the campus.

This is when I knew I've been doing no good of thinking about my score. I was waiting for the elevator with a guy, my guess he is a Spring semester student so he got here last April. He seemed to be in a hurry, with a piece of paper dangled on his hands and distracted eyes zoned out while waiting. When the elevator opened, I walked in with him, but he suddenly push the button to keep the elevator open. My face was like, 'what?'. We were waiting for a good 30 seconds before I knew he kept it opened for someone who was walking toward the elevator.

That moment shook me awake from my cloudy head. How is that test going to affect me in 10, 15 years? I did it myself, I stayed true to myself. Why I keep forgetting the value my parents raised me with? The only thing that matters is the process, as long as you learn and keep learning.

Why would a piece of test be your whole world but you can't keep up with your manner and with the world around you? Remember when you were so upset when someone you acquainted with closed the elevator RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOUR FACE, only him using the elevator and you knew he knew you were walking toward the elevator but closed it anyway.

I was touched by how this Spring guy even KNEW somebody 30 seconds away from us was walking toward us. I didn't pay attention to that cause I was too busy thinking about that screwed-up test.

Small gesture that woke up my fibers. Remind me to be in tune with my surrounding, with the Universe, with Mother Nature that has been blessing me with kismet and karma. With life's ups and downs and other people' ups and downs.

Peace in, peace out, people.

Monday, May 16, 2016

小幸運 -田馥甄

我聽見雨滴 落在青青草地
我聽見遠方 下課鐘聲響起
可是我沒有聽見你的聲音 認真呼喚我姓名

愛上你的時候 還不懂感情
離別了 才覺得刻骨銘心
為什麼沒有發現 遇見了你 是生命最好的事情


忙著微笑和哭泣 忙著追逐天空中的流星
是誰風裡 雨裡 一直默默守護在原地

原來你是 我最想留住的幸運

原來我們 和愛情曾經靠得那麼近
那為我對抗世界的決定 那陪我淋的雨
一幕幕都是你 一塵不染的真心

與你相遇 好幸運
可我已失去 為你淚流滿面的權利
但願在我看不到的天際 你張開了雙翼

遇見你的注定 她會有多幸運
來不及感謝 是你給我勇氣 讓我能做回我自己

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

tentang kamu

Di antara tatapan mata dan tautan tangan, kita berjalan mengarah matahari. Kamu yang bersuara sedalam jelaga matamu, yang menapak hati-hati di antara bebatuan sungai, mengingatkan tentang nilai-nilai bersahaja yang mungkin adalah jembatan antara kita. Kamu wujud kerja keras yang sederhana. 

Di antara kesederhaan itu, kita berdiri di bawah jeram air terjun yang tajam dan menyakitkan. Tapi apalah arti sakit sekarang jika mimpi-mimpi kita di depan sana, yang selalu kita bicarakan dengan harapan Semesta mendengar dan mengaminkan, terlalu berharga untuk dibunuh semata-mata karena rasa rindu.

Di antara kerinduan itu, selalu terselip fragmen-fragmen kecil kenangan yang menenangkan. Bunyi tapak kaki kita menuruni ratusan anak tangga menuju Tiu Kelep. Sejuknya Senaru di bawah rintik hujan. Kereta yang hampir kosong di Kamis siang menuju Cianjur. Kokohnya lenganmu melingkari pinggang mengangkatku turun dari ayunan licin di Gili Trawangan. Wajah tak percaya saat aku muncul tiba-tiba di depanmu setelah lima bulan terpisah dua negara… 

Mas Gandhi yang baik hati, selamat ulang tahun. Selamat menikmati kepusingan membagi skala prioritas, selamat bermimpi, selamat menjalani awalan mimpi-mimpi besarmu. Selamat berpahit-pahit sekarang untuk yang manis-manis kemudian. Semoga kamu selalu di jaga Tuhan dimanapun kamu berada dan apapun yang kamu lakukan sekarang. Sampai jumpa di pertemuan kita berikutnya.

Friday, April 22, 2016

in the middle of an earthquake

It has been a week full of earthquakes here in Beppu, Oita. The biggest earthquake happened last week on Saturday, resulting in students fleeing to their hometowns the next day and APU cancelling school for a week. Don't know if I should be happy cause I have the time to finish all these homeworks and tasks in peace, or I should cringe at all make-up classes on Saturday. Either way, I'm thankful that now I'm safe and sound here in my lovely dorm, AP House. Able to do basic human things; breathing, eating, sleeping. Which are what I've been doing this past week (other than doing homework and spending my money on a nabehodai last Wednesday which makes me don't wanna go downtown at least in two weeks)

School hasn't even been on a full swing after spring break, only a week of school and then we have another full week of break! God is good!

Although my local exchange trip to Hiji town is cancelled... They move it to June 5th. Hope everything will go as planned this time onward. I'm really looking forward to make and eat fancy sushi!

And now, people, here I am, still jobless and still looking for a part time job. I had an interview with a hotel two weeks ago and I had a position already! They said they were going to call me the next Wednesday, which they did not. I called them on Thursday asking why, and they told me to wait further. Ok.. I was waiting... Then on Saturday the biggest earthquake in Japan after Fukushima tsunami in 2011 happened in Kumamoto, which is only one hour away from where I live. Resulting in only 300 guests left in the hotel that supposed to accommodate over 3000 guests. That also makes Nadya and Yun who work in one of the restaurants there temporarily on a break... Because apparently they don't need a lot of restaurants open with only 300 guests left. WHICH makes me even more pessimistic they would hire me anytime soon... And that is a bad news, I told ya. I need to earn money soon for all my summer plans.

Anyhow, I'm here, safe and sound, and truly thankful for all the circumstances happening right now in my life. And for loved ones who makes this life of mine meaningful. And for my readers who are curious enough about what is happening in my life right now.

I love you, nonetheless. Have a good life, peeps! Ciao!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Cinta dalam bentuk

Dalam badai di tengah laut antara pulau Pari dan Pramuka waktu itu, di tengah hujan deras dan petir yang menggelegar, kamu yang Ningrum bayangkan dalam pikiran. Pola wajahmu dan bagaimana ekspresimu saat mencoba memecahkan rumus sulit. Bagaimana kamu menjadi terlihat sangat serius dan membuat aura yang kata orang menyeramkan di sekitarmu. Tapi Ningrum tidak pernah menganggap kamu menyeramkan. Ningrum selalu melihat kamu sebagai teka-teki, dan mungkin itu kesalahan pertama Ningrum. Karena teka-tekimu terlalu rumit untuk Ningrum pecahkan.

Di bawah hujan rintik-rintik saat kita beli tahu untuk orang-orang keraton waktu itu, di antara genangan lebar dan tapak basah, Ningrum merasa nyaman. Ningrum merasa senyum yang ada di wajahmu itu adalah bayaran yang Ningrum terima untuk segala usaha Ningrum... Yang lagi-lagi untuk memecahkan teka-tekimu. Kilas balik ke masa itu, Ningrum sadar. Semua itu bukan teka-tekimu; semua itu adalah teka-teki yang Ningrum buat sendiri dan kebetulan waktu dan tempat yang pas memungkinkan Semesta membawamu kedalamnya.

Saat mata kita beradu di dalam kaca waktu itu...

Ah, rasanya Ningrum sudah menutup lingkaran itu. Rasanya Ningrum sudah bilang untuk membersihkan debu dan menutup pintu. Sejak Raja dan Putri bersatu, keraton bukan lagi tempat untuk Ningrum. Ningrum sudah bertekad untuk meninggalkan itu semua di belakang. Tapi seperti yang tembang waktu itu kamu dendangkan untuk Ningrum, sampai aku pergi dan kau pula akan pergi... kita tahu waktu perlahan menutup... saat itulah aku memandangmu pergi.

Segala waktu yang sudah lewat ini, memberi Ningrum pelajaran tentang cinta dalam berbagai bentuk. Setiap mil laut yang Ningrum lewati, setiap wajah baru yang Ningrum temui semenjak pergi dari lingkaran keraton... Mengajarkan Ningrum tentang arti rasa hakiki, yang akan selalu ada. Ia hanya berubah bentuk dan menyesuaikan dengan perubahan-perubahan. Tapi ia tetap disana.

Dan yang Ningrum tahu, ternyata bukan kamu tujuan Ningrum pulang. Bukan kamu tempat Ningrum berbagi cerita sampai tua. Bukan kamu yang menemani Ningrum di pinggir air mancur. Ternyata bukan kamu.

Semoga kamu bahagia, karena Ningrum sekarang bahagia. Semoga mimpi-mimpi besarmu sedang dalam proses perwujudan nyata lantaran usahamu yang Ningrum tahu sudah dimulai sejak dahulu.

Untuk segala rasa bersalah, rasa berpisah, rasa cinta dalam berbagai bentuk.

Sampai jumpa.


Sequel dari Kata Hati Ningrum (2013). Ningrum adalah tokoh drama yang berkarakteristik dramatis, ikhlas dan rela berkorban. Sepenggal cerita Ningrum tentang perjalanan hati dan pencarian jati diri.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Age 19 and 9 months

  • It's been two days since I got to my AP House dorm from my travel, and somehow it feels... Good. To know that I still have another two weeks of spring break :p Now it's time for me to apply for part-time jobs. The kind of jobs that hopefully will force me to speak and learn more Japanese as I save money for another travel adventure next summer.
  • My new roommate just came yesterday!! Whoop whoop! She is from Nara, a city near Kyoto. A sweet girl, she is. I hope we'll get along well! This time around, I don't have much expectations about roommate. I'm just gonna get along and let everything fall into places. Though she looks sweet and eager to learn, so that's enough for the start.
  • Two days ago when we were on the phone, Dimas, out of the creative and innovative mind of his, said "Let's make a book together!". Didn't really acknowledge that idea until it somehow came to my dream on the same night. I had a bad dream involving him and when I woke up, I remembered about that book idea. So instead of making a book, we're gonna have a blog project together! Thinking about it, it's a brilliant idea to work on something together while we're so far away from each other. There is not much yet but please check this out!
  • Adek Raras is gonna visit me here in Beppu in June-July! Yep, she is gonna be here for a month. I have an excuse to travel Kyushu together! (Not that I need an excuse anyway...)
  • Spring semester starts in about two weeks. I'm taking Chinese this semester. No, I'm not trying to throttle my neck with swallowing all those kanjis. I'm just plain crazy, I tell you :) 
  • Hope this is gonna be an awesome and another eye-opening journey! 


Sunday, March 13, 2016

The Avocado's People

Here in Kyoto Avocado Village, there are the other two women who stay beside me. Both of them happen to stay long-term. On the first day I was here, we all gathered in the kitchen whilst each of us preparing dinner. Which, later I learned, three of us together in the kitchen is a rare occasion. I usually talk with Amanda in the morning while we eat our breakfast. Laure is long gone by the time we eat our breakfast because her work begins early in the morning. When I get home,  I usually find Laure cooking in the kitchen. Then that's the time I talk with her until it's time to go to bed. Amanda usually comes home late because of her school.

Amanda is a 19 year old Swedish girl who is taking her gap year after graduating high school. She is here since last November and will leave in the summer to get into university. She goes to a Japanese language school in Sanjo area and also learns karate here! She has been learning karate since middle school. It happens that her karate school in Sweden directly links with the school here in Kyoto. So she has been busy traveling around for karate tournaments and hanging out with her Japanese friends whom she mostly found through HelloTalk application. She introduced me to that app and now I'm using it to talk to native Japanese who wants to learn English and teach me Japanese :)

Laure comes from the south part of France. She is here for a full year, to learn the traditional pattern of kimono. She goes to her work early in the morning and get back in the evening. It's not even 'work', she said, because the wage is very low. She get paid for each sold kimono she made, instead of hourly. For one kimono sold, she only get 2,000 yen out of it. Meanwhile the store sells the kimono starting from 100,000 yen. What?!!? Kimono is that expensive??!! I swear I confirmed again to Laure if maybe she was wrong about the price. Yep, because it's handmade and made with the best fabric, the kimono she makes worth that much. And she only got that much. Thus, she said, not many people stay there for long. Students who work there just stay for awhile before they get a better-paid job. Old women who work there do work just because they have spare time. Working woman like her, who support themselves, have another work after making kimono. Cause, who can actually make a living relying on that work alone?

So Laure is not staying here in Kyoto for long. She is moving out of Avocado Village next month and going to travel Shikoku Island for three months. There, she is going to learn how to make indigo color and pattern out of the local plants. Also visiting art galleries and learning more patterns. Wow, I could hear her stories for hours while she cook her dinner. She is also a very very kind soul. The one who you want to keep as a best friend.

I can't fathom how Yasuko (the owner of this share house) chose her guests. It seems like the guests are considerate and kind, not the thoughtless and rude one. It's really important because we basically live together under the same roof for an amount period of time! Share the space and hear what each other saying (since this is Japanese house which has thin wall). So lucky I came across this house since it's relatively cheap compare to the other accommodations here in Kyoto, plus it's located it a strategic area. Close to subway stations, JR stations and a famous shrine nearby.

Been four days here in Kyoto, unravelling things about me and people around me. Will talk more about it later :)


Wednesday, March 9, 2016

First day of my first solo travel

I just landed in Osaka this morning, after three hours layover in Kuala Lumpur and seven hours up in the sky to Kansai Airport. Found myself chatted with a funny Malaysian couple sitting next to me on the plane and another Malaysian student sitting in the end of the aisle. We chatted in Japanese the whole time! Yayness! The fact that I speak Japanese again after almost one month in Indonesia barely speaking the language makes me sooo ureshii!

Aimee-san goes to a Kyoto university which name I can't remember. What I know is, it's a pretty well-known university. Her Japanese is so fluent and structural! Given that I stumbled and stuttered most of the time, it took me an extra minute to explain something to her. She is super patient and supportive, though! Every time I tried so hard to remember words I forgot, she kept saying 'Ganbatte! Dekiru!' (Fight! You can!). Yokatta! We have a plan to hang out on the last day I'm in Kyoto and I'm so excited about it!

I'm staying at Kyoto Avocado Village for the next 9 days, a simple and homey guest house in Ishida area. Yasuko-san, the owner, is such a warm woman and offer great hospitality. This house is a simple Japanese house and we can cook here (which is why I stay here so I can cook everyday and save a lot of money). I stay in a dormitory room with two bunk beds inside. I'm the only one staying there for now, have the room all by myself.

It's raining here in Kyoto. The room is soooo cold. I was trying to turn on the heater by pushing any button on the remote control. Nope, not working. I guess I'm just gonna ask someone later. Did I mention that most people stay here for a length period of time? Some stay here for months, either for travel or for learning Japanese at language schools. Now, I'm by myself in this house. 

I just cooked rice which I brought from Indonesia and in doing so somehow touches the softest part of my heart. Cooking rice from home makes me feel mushy. I've spent three hours in front of my computer now, trying to figure out how to reserve bus to Tokyo and plane to Fukuoka. Got a pretty good deal yay! Now I'm heading out to buy ingredients and pay the reservations. 

I'm going to explore Kyoto yay!!

Saturday, February 20, 2016


When you know what you know but are too afraid to think about. You are young and have the world ahead of you. Still a nobody, trying to figure out your way and your footing. Demo... You have this feeling. The feeling before you weep and a thought flash in your mind that you just know.

Know what?

That, my friend, 私もわからない。


Saturday, February 13, 2016



ホストファミリに伺って、浅草寺お寺へいらっしゃいました。お母さん、かずくん、 もちゃんもきました。仕事をあったので、お父さんはいらっしゃいませんでした。




Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Charming Kumamoto

I have been loving history since forever, and in the end of last year when I saw an announcement in campus terminal to tour Kumamoto for free, wouldn't missed it for the world! Kumamoto is located in the southern of Kyushu island, famous for its history dating far back in Edo period. The city is now aiming to attract foreign visitors with its historic culture, agriculture and cuisine. 

I went to an exhibition in the heart of Kumamoto city which purpose was to showcase the potentials of Kumamoto. Basically they surveyed which products foreigners liked, that's why each booth gave us tons of free samples. I was full before lunch time! It was so fun interacting with Kumamoto locals and learning their marketing strategy :) 

Then they took us to the city's shopping arcade. Nothing special there, just another big lane full of shops. I went to a book store, trying my luck to find English books. Nope, no English novels. They are all in Japanese and I didn't want to spend money on Japanese novels --yet. I have a Japanese children novel in my room and haven't had the ability to understand even one page. Soon though, I hope :) 

The last destination of the tour was the highlight of the day, which was Kumamoto Castle!! The castle was HUGE and the stories behind each constructions are so interesting! While they reconstructed the building due to it burned during a war some hundreds years ago, there are still some original pieces inside the buildings. I particularly like the Dark Tunnel. It was a tunnel with about 100 metres long, maybe less. Not that long to hold a battalion, but in the past there wasn't any light inside the tunnel. They made it so two enemies who tried to attack the castle would fought each other without knowing that its not the target they were looking for. Nice trick.

I love how charming the city of Kumamoto is! The city is more alive than Beppu. They even have trams! Trams! I wished we had more time to explore the city. I will surely be back to Kumamoto some time in the future! I want to try its onsen, along with Kagoshima onsen. The onsens are soooooo pretty! At least what I saw in the brochures, their onsens are inside a forest. Fingers crossed this summer I got the chance to travel around southern Kyushu area. If so, wouldn't miss Kumamoto for sure!

The group with our travel guide, Tomi-san. He travels the world to keep the youth spirit inside him!

Walls of rock. Remind me of Borobudur.

The castle creeping behind

the castle behind us!

Entrance gate to enter the castle

Downtown Kumamoto seen from the attic of the castle

A room inside the castle where the shogun (knight) stayed. This room is usually not for public, but we got lucky they opened this for a month, only this February.
Me in front of kanjis :)
This post is sponsored by Higo Bank, Kumamoto. February 2016.