(almost) Near Death Experience in Katherine

In the end of May, I went back to Indonesia to see my dying grandma. Both of us lived together alone for 6 years and I was so afraid to lose her when I wasn’t around her so I made up my mind to go home. It wasn’t an easy decision tho because the airfare wasn’t cheap either and I just received my salary which should be used to pay my debt back (it was due on that time). Popo’s -how I call grandma- condition has gotten worse and gotten better that my parents and family suggested me to wait any longer but Miki and Gwenn helped me to convince myself that going home was the only option. Glad I listened to my heart so I had ONE day to spend with Popo when she was still conscious before she passed away on the following day :'(

Sitting beside Popo, holding her hand, repeating a never ending prayer for her and witnessing Popo took her very last breath together with many family members helped me to gain a level-up acceptance about death. I could let her go and although it was painful, it wasn’t as painful as when I missed the chance to be beside my grandpa and Taro (my pet) when they were gone. I was also blessed that my friends and family helped me to keep myself busy so I didn’t mourn continuously because what is death when actually we’re all interconnected in a very complex way that time and space, being alive or dead are not the exact factors of separation.

Anyway, I went back to Australia a day after Popo’s body was cremated. During my flight from JKT to SIN, I felt lonely and was carried away by loving memories of Popo and me that I couldn’t stop crying. Gwenn contacted me when I was at Changi airport, waiting for my next flight to Darwin; he invited me to go to Katherine on the day I arrived in Darwin. I said yes. I knew I need that.

I arrived at Darwin airport at around 5 Am and went through a series of drama at the immigration and custom check but thank God I finally got out of the situation at almost an hour later (lesson learned: never help someone to bring things or whatsoever that you’re not sure about the safety -biologically, especially- and tick YES on passenger card if you’re not sure about anything. Let them check you rather than get you accused from not ticking). Okta picked me up and we were in hurry to get ready for the trip. It was 5 of us; I traveled with Okta, Gwenn, Ian, and Fabiola. The trip to Katherine took us about 4 hours and I slept most of the time lol, didn’t get enough sleep from Indonesia. All the places we visited were located at Nitmiluk National Park.

 

 

EDITH FALLS

Our first stop! I was dying to dunk myself into the water as I have prepared my goggle, yea, can’t live without it.  Edith Falls was kinda nice, not as beautiful as Florence Falls at Litchfield but omg, Edith Falls had something that made me want to challenge myself: the width of the the pool. The pool was sooooo vaaasssttt I didn’t even dare to swim across it.

 

I stood at the starting point. See how far the waterfall is?

 

None of us were brave to swim straight to there lol so we came up with another plan. We swam to the nearer check-point and would continue swimming side by side with the cliff on the right so whenever we get tired we can hold onto the rocks. Gwenn started swimming followed by me and the rest of us but Okta, Fabiola, and Ian decided to go back x_x. Gwenn and I were like “Oh come onnn!” lol but both of us really wanted to reach the waterfall so we decided to carry on, I took the lead. I was never be a very committed person, even when it came to the swimming lol. I kept pausing and hanging on the cliff; sometimes we were lucky enough to find nice rock to sit at. Seriously, I was really scared, I wasn’t tired, I was scared. Wearing goggle made you could see what underneath and omg, the pool was sooooo deep and so dark I imagined scary animals would come up and bite us. Anyway, Gwenn and I made it to the waterfall and sitting under it was sooo niceee! We jumped in too!

Gwenn told me that we still had 2 more places to go and he suggested me to swim ACROSS so we could buy some time.  I wasn’t sure at first but actually I could just do it. I’ve ever done 750m swimming non-stop so I thought it wouldn’t be that hard. I just have to keep myself calm, I told myself. I forced Gwenn to agree swimming together with me so I could be less panicked. He agreed but he asked me to start first because he knew I swam slower than him. I agreed tho, I started swimming. It wasn’t hard at first. I swam and maintained myself relaxed at the same time, I kept my pace, I tried not to see under. It went smoothly after some time, I realized Gwenn wasn’t with me. I turned my head back and Gwenn was still at the waterfall, perhaps waiting for the right time to join me. I ruined my rhythm by shouting his name. I kept swimming, felt uneasy again, turned my head back again, and shouted again. Gwenn finally caught up and even surpassed me! He was taking the lead while I didn’t even move forward for an inch! I got panicked, I couldn’t breath, I tried to change the style and still got stuck. I kept shouting his name but I knew he couldn’t even help me. The destination was still TOO far and if I were him, I didn’t know how to help either. I knew he was tired too. This was not Hollywood movie.

I seriously thought that would be the end of my life lol! I even didn’t tell my parents about the trip, I wonder if my parents would suffer a super great loss as my dad just lost her mom. But I couldn’t help it, 60% of my cognitive function wanted me to give up, didn’t know why. I was so tired, I was in the middle, no shortcut to anywhere safe. Gwenn’s voice brought my sanity back. He said: “Okay, let’s swim slowly to the right, it’s nearer.” And he slowed down the pace. I tried once again. I didn’t give a damn about anything else. I tried to lose myself with the swimming. I called Popo again and again hoping her spirit would come and guide me. Maybe I was still so scared of death lol! Slowly, the rhythm came back, I could move and breath again. I was alive! xD

Okta, Fabiola, and Ian laughed so hard at me! They were panicking and tried to help me too by shouting: “TURN TO FLOAT!” I didn’t hear tho lol. What a story! Thank you so much Gwenn!!!

Still managed to smile aftermath. Maybe it wasn’t Near Death Experience after all lol.

 

KATHERINE HOT SPRINGS

Second stop. We didn’t take any picture here; too busy enjoying life, I guess? The thermal pool was so nice! It wasn’t that hot, perfect temperature to me!

Image courtesy of Katherine Town Council.

Yes it was that blue and clear. It’s located near a famous caravan park in Katherine and so many old people came here at that time to spend the day.

 

KATHERINE GORGES

This was my most favorite spot! Katherine is so famous of its gorges and we really wanted to end the trip magnificently. Actually I didn’t have much money but the majority wanted to go on sunset dinner cruise tour for $170 or whatever other affordable tours Katherine offered. But life turned out to be on my side tho, all the tours were fully booked xD. Sad not! We could still hike to see the beauty of the gorges and Katherine river from up above.

-disclaimer: you’ll see more faces instead of the scenery itself from this point-

 

We headed to Baruwei lookout.

 

 

 

scenery

 

scenery and me

 

scenery

 

scenery and me lol

 

OMG it was good!

 

 

 

Nice family pictures yea? All was taken by iPhone X belonged to Ian. Wohoo!!

 

We headed back home at around sunset time and did a lil bit exploration of restaurants at Katherine. Found a nice Chinese restaurant and it wasn’t so expensive. We went back to Darwin at around 8pm if I was not mistaken, was so dark already. It was Gwenn’s turn to drive and me? Tired+feeling full meant I needed to sleep lol! Suddenly, another crazy thing happened.

None of us were aware that the car was almost running out of fuel! Believe me, road trip in Australia actually kinda sucks in case of emergency because our phones had no signals, minimum rest areas and gas stations (actually this wouldn’t be a problem if we arranged the trip nicely). So, we missed one gas station and the other one was not working and the next gas station was in Adelaide River which located 60 kms ahead and our car capability was only around 50++ kms left (yes the car showed it, we rented a new Nissan Xtrail). We all prayed so we could make it and suddenly Gwenn turned left as he saw a sign of nearest gas station. I was actually against it, I thought it was still better to stay on the main big road. Then we’re forced to keep on going, it would be a waste of gas if we turned back. Gwenn said he saw the nearest one was around 30kms.

We kept driving to a narrow street, no other cars was visible. What I worried was right! I guess we all were hallucinated or something but from that road, the sign showed the nearest gas station was 108km ahead at Daly River. WTF! Okay, it was the right time to panic. We turned on the carrier’s signal, hoping one of our phones would work. But the hell! SOS would do! I got the SOS and pressed 000; tried to call emergency LOL! Gwenn also started panicking by doing harsh turning and sometimes braking. I wished fuel would be the only problem, no accident please xD. Then I succeeded connecting to the emergency and let the officer know where we were (in the end, this method didn’t help at all). The girls said I was so damn panicked that I might hurt Ian’s feeling by grabbing car’s information details from his hand harshly. Okta was like kept trying to calm me down (she was calm too, I was proud of her). Glad Ian wasn’t sensitive lol! Sorry Ian, pure panic, no intention of hurting. Not long after that, Fabiola got signal! She could browse and searched for the ACTUAL nearest gas station. It was only 3kms far! We eventually MADE IT TO ADELAIDE RIVER!

Yes we’re all safe and sound until now if you’re asking lol! It was a super duper exciting day! XD Thanks guys, it was a niiiiiiiiicceeeeeeeeeeee trip and this trip I’ll never forget.

 

My Tribe

See the faces up there? Those are who touch my soul and I can’t tell how grateful I am to have them. Family alone has done too much to support me and I’ve got those guys too, wooo.. what a lucky bich I am :*. Sadly, it would be a hundred-thousand-word blog post if I write about them all so I hope I’ve done good enough by putting my tribe’s profile pics here (I didn’t even ask for their consents but I think they wouldn’t mind xD). And I’ve got more pics than that but hard to compile them all here >.<.

-miki-

My other self. She’s like a walking diary. She knows literally almost everything about me. Everything. She has ears to hear and the heart to listen. She always makes time for me and even if she can’t, she does her best so she will. Referring to my Aussie life, I still remember she OFFERED me money so I could live in the first 2 months here. She used her savings to help me even when I didn’t ask anything about it. She waited patiently until I was finally able to pay her back and she even let me postpone the due date because I had to go back to Indonesia to see my dying grandma :'( She could tell every sh*t about me in front of my face. She’s the type that could slap my face to make me realize of my wrongdoings and I didn’t know why I can never felt offended by her lol. No one is like you, gurl.

-messi-

My adventure buddy. Crossing the same path, climbing the same mountain, and having the same lifestyle made us connected. Well actually I am exaggerating, we’re not that extremely similar but still yeaaa kind of xD! Nature has a very big portion in our friendship and that’s what I like about us. Talking to Messi is like opening so many windows, I always learn much from her and since she’s older than me, it was not once or twice I was surprised by her wise advice. She listened about the hardship I had here and even I now walk in a way that doesn’t match to her value, she still understands and supports me. She cherishes friendship so much that I feel so so so thankful to call her my bestie.

-hery-

Oh, Hery is the wisest coz he’s waaaaayyy much older than me (I think Messi thinks the same XD). I’ve known Hery for years in PALADA — where Messi spent her youth at too –, and Hery might can tell my mental growth, from a very annoying girl to a bit less annoying girl I am now lol. Now I am 28 years old, I’ve heard a few people who are younger than me praised for my maturity, leadership, way of thinking and etc (well, it occasionally happens tho). It is because of him! He’s like a teacher and I’m his pupil and I still remember his comments, response of my stories, and his advice were things that I anticipated so much. Even I could be dumbfounded only by him opening his mouth lol! His signature to advise me is to let me be :’) Have you ever felt so happy to be nakedly accepted by someone?

Messi-Heri and Miki finally met each other for the first time this year.

They are my jewels now and then 😉 Even if I’m far away now, I won’t forget my roots.

During my time living here, I’ve met so many good friends but most of them come and go, just like the wind. So sad we’re not destined to keep each other company longer for now. Nevertheless, their kindness stays forever inside me. Since life here feels so fast and I couldn’t meet at least one friend to cling on to, I was pessimistic when I started working at the hotel; plus, we basically work alone when cleaning the rooms. A week after I started working there, the number of Indonesian employees was rising lol and it was very convenient to talk in Bahasa Indonesia so much again. Our manager and supervisor had an idea to go on an outing and hell yeah, of course I was in!

Went to Litchfield National Park and paid a visit to this giant termite. COOL huh

LOL
Florence Falls

The outing was really helpful to break the ice and maaannn, my workmates were so funny lol. I’m glad I was be able to know more about them. However, my life soundtrack was still All By Myself and I told Mark I missed Perth so much that I failed to see beautiful things in Darwin. Even I wasn’t that enthusiastic when my housemates asked me to join group dinner at home or to go to market on Sunday. I wasn’t really sure when but I began to be more open and gosh, it was a very good decision! Now I am confused how to write this post lol. It took longer than I thought because I couldn’t find a way to write efficiently to show you my gratefulness. Let’s try this way:

Best friends at hotel. So nice to hangout with them. Cia is the always-be-there friend, Lisa is mak-rempong-yet-so-caring friend, and Rusi is everyone’s happy pill!
Enjoyed the Territory Day with them (pic by Rusi)
And Darwin has beautiful beaches to visit (sadly crocodile warning is almost everywhere). Casuarina Beach was one of them.
This is Gwen, he was one of my housemates and I am forever grateful because he helped me convinced myself to go home and see my grandma. Gwen and Okta were unforgettable friends whom you’ll find out soon in the next post 😉
With Connie. OMG, Connie is the most innocently funny girl I’ve ever met. So many funny stories with her xD. Plus, she’s very nice and kind to me. Actually I was a bit skeptic every time I met people from her country. When I was at the farm, I didn’t really like Chinese people but Connie broke my (bad) idea of them. Plus, she’s pretty huh?
With Yervan (left), my mate when attending WHV interview in Indonesia, the first familiar face when I was in Perth, and now he’s in Darwin.
At Dara’s (grey t-shirt) farewell dinner 🙂 Dara and Andit were my previous housemates at farm. Dara and I were fired at the same time and glad we could be able to work together at restaurant while Andit is now my workmate at hotel lol. These girls were also fun to hang out with!
Introducing Ayu (at the back) lol. She has the same age as mine and I discovered she’s so fun to talk with. It is so convenient to talk serious matters with her but she’s also silly at the same time. Her behavior is funny xD
So sad we never had a good quality pic with friends at restaurant T^T. The 2 girls at the back, Kriti and Asmita were my best Nepalese friends. They were SOOOO SUPPORTIVE when I was hitting on a male customer at restaurant lol! They were also very caring, always asked their husbands to drive me home at night :’) They are still soooo young but dunno why they were like my moms lol.

From those pics, you can see top 2 most seen faces and I am so glad to call them my closest friends here.

-rusi-

Rusi is a type of friend you want to bring anywhere lol. She’s calm but you’ll like every time she laughs so hard. She works smart and is a dedicated employee and now she became one of our supervisors. She is the funniest of all and I sometimes wonder how she can think so fast when she throws a joke lol. She also thinks about others so much like every time we went shopping from check out rooms, she could always bring home 2 or 3 bags of items and I wondered does she really need that much??. But later I learned she took pics of all the leftovers, uploaded and gave them away to friends who needed *wooooooo*. She also likes to be extra. I always asked for Rusi’s help when I needed my body to be kerok-ed lol. Even if I only asked for her help to kerok my back, she did it on my neck, my arms, plus she gave me full body massage and she took out a massaging roller and she made me feel like I was in heaven XD.

And at last,

-cia-

Her existence stimulates the youth in me. I still remember the first time I met her at hotel, she started working almost a week after my first day and she joined us to Litchfield. At that time, only Cia and I jumped into the water not long after we arrived and since Lisa and Rusi couldn’t swim, Cia was the only one I relied on to lol! I tell you again, water is not my element. I can swim but I need someone else beside me >.<. She became the first one who knew my story here; the obstacles I had at hotel, my dreams, my fears, etc. She is a really really good friend, she smiles a lot, she doesn’t worry about what others think about her, she gives much, and omg I am so grateful to know her. I absolutely look forward to have so many adventures to go on and so many days to spend with. I guess, we became inseparable? XD

The Northern Territory

Welcome to the two season state in Australia!

Autumn was just started and the temperature was down to 9-14°C at night when I left Perth. There were days when I wished the toilet seat had heater lol. On April 27th, I said bye bye to the cold weather (it wasn’t even that cold because it wasn’t even winter!). I left Perth wearing t-shirt, covered by a sweater and it didn’t take 10 minutes to have my body sweating from the heat in Darwin lol. Darwin was fcking hot and humid!

I went straight to my new place, hungry, and a kind housemate appeared and shared her lunch with me *cryinghysterically*. Thank you Okta! My place was located not far from the CBD and omg Darwin CBD is so small xD. I remember Han was astonished when we went to Perth CBD and he said: I feel like coming from the jungle, there are no tall buildings in Darwin CBD like this. LOL. I felt like downgrading myself but who cares! I’ve got a job hereeee!!! Actually, Darwin is not that pathetic; speaking of tall buildings, I think the hotel where I work at is high, 26 floors tho! But yea, you can barely see other tall buildings here, you can only count with one hand lol! And whoever said Perth is quiet, Darwin is much much more quiet to me T^T. And it’s a good thing when the centre is small, you can walk on foot to everywhere. I only have to walk 25 mins from my place to the hotel 😉

I completed all application documents on my first day in Darwin and I got accepted right away; would start working on May 2nd! I also remember Han suggested me to print out my resumes, take a day to walk around the city and drop them to restaurants, cafes, etc. The dry season had just started in Darwin and that means more tourists will come, good business, and more people to hire. Han also said finding a job in Darwin wasn’t hard therefore he insisted me to move here ASAP. What he said was right. The day after I came to Darwin, I dropped my resumes and one restaurant called me and asked me to work starting on THAT DAY. *cheers to a new good life xD*

Exotic North Indian Cuisine (image from Google)

Exotic North Indian Cuisine is practically the first job I had in Darwin. It’s located in Cullen Bay and it has a beautiful view of parked private boats in Cullen Bay Marina area. Many customers said we have the best Indian foods in Darwin, some of them also said, the best Indian foods they had ever tasted. I agree tho, the foods there are super delicious! I got accepted there as a waitress and all the people there were soooo kind :'( Especially other waitresses; they taught me everything and molded me from nothing to be a waitress that receives appreciations from customers. All the kitchen staffs are Punjabi people and most of the waitresses are Nepalese. They are soooo kind, love them :’).

Working as waitress became my second job and I only worked in evening. My first job is of course working as housekeeper at Oaks Elan Darwin Hotel.

Image from Google

My first 2 months there was hard! Housekeeping was haaaaaardddd! You rooms need to be (almost) perfect: clean, nice, tidy, and presentable. To make a very nice room is not hard but the problem is you need to get it done within a limited period of time. My manager, supervisor, and workmates are nice and kind but I was stressful because of myself lol. I always came late because I wasn’t get used to the routines. In the end, I still often finish late but as long as the rooms are clean, it’s tolerable. What I like about working at the hotel (especially in Australia), they are fair to you. Everything is money (not to mention the pay rate here is good xD). Weekdays, weekend, and public holiday have different rates. In Indonesia, I will not be happy if I have to work on weekend or public holiday but here, I happily welcome the roster because those days mean mooore money lol. Another benefit working as housekeeper is that you can keep the items that the guests left; we call it SHOPPING. Like recently, a big group of Singapore Defense Army stayed at our hotel. There were 2 batches, each batch stayed around 3 weeks. Those Singaporean bought so so so so so many things (especially foods) while were staying at our apartment rooms. They liked to cook by themselves. Whenever we did their check out rooms, it was like two sides of a coin: felt so crazy and tired to clean the super duper messy room but at the same time, you’ll find so many items left that you may need. It saves you so much money xD. The leftover things you can get: foods, spices, rice, fruits, instant noodles, ice creams, beers and wines, mosquito repellent, shampoos, liquid soaps, vapes, even household items, and of course, money :v

I’m still working there now and everything is better. Love being there <3

Really nice heh?

As WHV holder, we tend to get more physical jobs in the field that are seen lowly in Indonesia. There’s no way I have experience as waitress or housekeeper in Indonesia therefore it was kinda hard to apply the job here unless you have a good connection (so the employer can be more rest assured to hire you coz some don’t care about experience because they will train you anyway) or you’re one of the LUCKY BASTARDS (that’s how we call lucky whv holders here lol). The key to survive is to have the can-do attitude and maintain good relationship with workmates.

My manager in the middle
Before morning briefing lol
Wait until you see housekeepers with make up. *Damn blurred T^T*

I think I am so lucky, I met so many good people here from many nationalities. And I am so thankful because I made new good friends here, with Indonesians. With friends, life becomes so much easier and enjoyable. Because of them, I become happier. You’ll find the story soon 😉

Forever Home

If you have read my previous post, you’d remember I wrote about how I sensed Mark would be one of my biggest support systems. When my contractor contacted me that our farm cut me off, I was kinda in shock although I was expecting it to happen too at the same time. I only thought about one thing: I just wanted to runaway from Gingin. LOL! But, I got no money so I couldn’t afford to pay rent if I want to come back to Perth. I called my previous landlord but he didn’t pick up then I called Mark right away, in tears lol! After I explained everything, I asked, “Would you please help me to stay there and let me pay the rent later when I get any job?”. He answered right away, “I help you“.

I am forever grateful for your gesture, Mark <3

On 2nd April, I moved in to Mark’s house followed by a new guy a few hours later. He was Han; we talked earlier on Whatsapp regarding his choice to move in. My first impression of him: he was trying hard to look cool. HAHAHA. So, Han came to Perth from Darwin to pursue a new job which its office based in Perth. However, the recruitment process took so long that we even worried if Han didn’t get it ;( Meanwhile, I stayed jobless but thank God, I still got on-call job as cleaner. This time, it was Mark’s friend who helped me.

Wayne.

Wayne is Mark’s best friend and he owns a house nearby, only 4 houses away from Mark’s. He was going to renovate the house so he could move in and I was hired to clean the house and furniture which he eventually found it useless because he decided to put the house under major renovation lol. He was super funny and thoughtful! I was easily sweating while working and he was in panic; he kept shouting at me, “DRINK PRITHA, DRINK!” lol! And when I requested a 15 min lunch break, he said, “DON’T TAKE 15 MINS, TAKE 2 HOURS!” XD. Wayne became my best best best friend and I loooove him so much! He cared about me and Han; especially me coz Han is a guy lol! Sooooo, it was 3 of us in the house: Mark, Han, and Me. Sometimes 4, because Wayne often slept over at our place. And another friend of them, Duane, always paid a visit everyday. The house was merry and lively, I loooooveeeedddd the vibe.

My everyday routine was: woke up, had breakfast, applied many jobs online, cooked lunch for me and Han, sometimes stayed at home with Han, sometimes went somewhere with Han, then cooked dinner for me and Han, watched movies with Han and Mark, talked silly things with those guys including Wayne and Duane. Basically, Han and I were happy jobless pair. HAHA.

at the Fremantle.
I wasn’t sure if I took a pic of this beach but South Beach in Fremantle was also well known as dog beach.
At Cottesloe Beach. I spent hours swimming and tanning, I dunno what Han was doing lol!
On our way to have dinner at Northbridge.
Went to the market at Canning vale.
On our way to Serpentine, to see Ajahn Brahm’s meditation centre and Bodhinyana Monastery.
At Jhana Groove meditation centre.
Heirisson Island.
With this cutie at Heirisson Island.
With our friend, Hera, at Spencer Village food court. OMG, it has the best Indonesian restaurant!!!
The famous London court in Perth CBD.
Infinity flame.
State war memorial at Kings Park.
At Kings Park.

When we went to Kings Park, Han was informed he got the job. So happy!

Han was the one who helped me so much with the job thing. He is in the second year now and he had so much experience to tell. He taught me many things and he helped me to find a job in Darwin ;’) He recommended me to the place he worked at earlier and I finally got a job there. THANK YOU HAN :”'( My flight to Darwin was on April 27th, just two days after my birthday. And you know what, I was so thankful they celebrated my birthday!

Han, Duane, Wayne.
Cyntia, Me, and Mark.
Happy girl.

Mark, Wayne, and Duane are South-African born and I don’t know much about South African people, that was the first experience for me. What I could see was, they were so so nice :’) Their friendship and familyhood were strong and they loved to help each other. They were so warm and silly and omg, they were like my dads lol. I remember when I had a tinder date (first time for me) they were acting like grumpy fathers xD.

Han with South African guys.

I was so sad I had to leave Perth but I had no choice, Perth wasn’t meant for me at that time. And, I really really felt so thankful to be given the opportunity to work in Darwin (because I could also complete one of the requirements for my second year visa). Han worked hard; called A, B, and C to help me. I will be forever grateful and actually I miss our silly talks, our jokes, etc. Dunno how I will meet him again in the future but I hope he has the best of luck in his life.

Thank you Han.

Till we meet again

See you again Perth, my home.

Me Before You

It’s funny to think in a certain point of time, your life changed because of someone. I knew about this Work and Holiday Visa program from my senior, Christie; and my life in Perth, even in Australia, changed after I met Han. This is Han.

xD

But I’m not going to talk about it now. Let me tell you about the bittersweet story as a newcomer when I was in Perth instead.

I chose Perth out of all other states in Australia because somehow it captured my heart even though I never came there before and it eventually really did. I came to Perth by myself after crazy delays in Indonesia airports. I still remember Perth airport was cold at 5 in the morning.  I’m grateful there were several Work and Holiday Visa (WHV) groups where I could ask about many things as well as about the accommodation. Redcliffe was where I lived for 2 months and I lived with a New Zealander guy and another WHV holder from Indonesia.

As I said in the previous blog, the first 2 weeks were the hardest lol! I cried a lot, made so many video calls with my friends and family. The house where I lived wasn’t warm either; my housemate, Cyntia, was kind but she didn’t talk much and my landlord was a serious man that I somehow preferred avoid talking too much about serious matters. My first impression about Australia: beautiful and expensive but not that expensive. I could still manage to spend my money well but transportation in Perth was kinda pricey. After several days of playing around, I was ready to enter the battle field: JOB HUNTING.

It was hard to find a job there and not to mention I had no experience they needed: barista, waitress, housekeeper, etc. I applied many jobs online and dropped resumes at many cafes or restaurants but thank God, one day I finally got accepted for a trial. So, some places will request trial from applicants and we are usually asked to do 2 hours working so employer can decide if they want to hire us.  I was so happy when they invited me to do so; I told my parents, my friends; I bought new outfits and new shoes (here all new workers usually wear all black). On the D day, I arrived 1.5 hour earlier; I put makeup on and felt so nervous! Then I was asked to work as a server. That was my very first damn time working like that! I had no experience at all and I thought all I needed was a good mentality. But I got no confidence, I worked so timidly when I served coffees (and seriously why coffee must be served so full like it want to spill??); 15 mins later the manager called me and sent me home politely. I knew I didn’t make it.

My day went even worse, I was rejected to be a Plasma donor by Australia Red Cross because I got typhoid 8 years ago. I had to see a doctor to get medical clearance and to prove that I was free from the virus but seeing a doctor and running a blood test were very costly to me at that time. I was thinking like, “Oh come on! Even I am rejected to donate my blood too?!” :'( I kept having unlucky days about the job seeking but I one day I saw an ad in the group to work as gardener and I grabbed it so fast so tadaaa, my very first job in Perth was to be an on-call gardener lol. My very first boss was an Indonesian lady who owns a house in Perth but left it for months that its yard covered by 40-cm deep dead leaves. I worked 6 hours to sweep ALL and clean the outside of the house. My body was sore but believe me, nothing beat the good feeling about having a job lol!

I made a good friend with Venny, another Indonesian girl who lived 4 houses away from me. I spent so much time with her; she was very talkative and I found it was comfortable to hangout with her.

We had this view in just 2 kilometers away from our homes!
I found it first when I went out for a jog. Venny liked this so much!

Her landlord, Mark, was a very adorable man lol! All of us had fun in the summer! We went to Hillarys Beach (I had fun so much I didn’t care about taking pictures) and Yanchep Lagoon with Mark’s boys.

Handsome boy.

Someday Venny and I got an opportunity to work at a farm in Gingin. I thought it was like a destined job for us because everything happened like it was meant to be. We moved fast; we found another 3 people to share car and house expenses in Gingin.

We had a small farewell with friends in Redcliffe. Mark in white shirt, Venny is on my left.

I knew Mark would be one of my greatest support systems ever since he hugged me and wished me a good luck. So, yeap, we were ready for our new life in Gingin!

Gingin is located about 90km away from Perth and what I liked about the journey was the road scenery! We passed Swan Valley, a famous winery and we could see many grape farms along the way. Actually the view was mostly about bushes but dunno what it looked so damn good lol! Gingin is a pretty small town, I fell in love with it.

Our favorite garden where we usually had our lunch. There’s a small mill and SO MANY DUCKS.
From the backyard of our house.
How lovely.
Housemates!
The farm.

The farm is managed by a big company and we were hired as raspberry pickers. I thought it would be a quite easy job, just picking fruits you know. BUT I FAILED. They cut me off after 2 weeks because I was always in bottom 5. There were 20 something pickers and everyday there would be a list from the fastest to the slowest picker. To me it was kinda ridiculous and not so fair because we had to pick ALL fruits (ripe, overripe) but we were paid based on piece rate; on how many packs of good fruits you can do in a day. Most of the fast pickers, they only picked whatever were visible in their eyes, mostly in the top area of the plants. They didn’t care about the fruits that lied under and the supervisor would always told us to pick all fruits, the overripe fruits too. I was kinda scared to rebel and I just wanted to follow the system so I spent much time doing the right thing. Plus, I was so selective when I packed my fruits. All were good fruits, I didn’t cheat (because there was a trick: hide the several bad fruits so you wouldn’t lose so many numbers of packing). I was an idealist, I worked honestly but sometimes idealism can help you nothing. That’s how I lost my job.

Que Sera Sera

I lost much money. I hurt my feet and my knees yet I didn’t regret anything. And I was thankful I got fired therefore I met Han in the next day.

Later, Gingin!

Living To The Fullest

Good day, Mate! Cheers from Straya! xD

It’s been 6 months since I came to Australia and I am still in the same euphoria as when I landed my feet at Perth International Airport on last 20th February 2018. Life has been so good to me until now. Several days ago, I reread my old blog (here) and flash-backed how I was so confused with my life back then. Quarter-life crisis hit me and I was really not happy with myself; kept asking about what I should’ve been. I demanded myself to know what to do even though I knew finding an identity was not that simple; at least for me. If I have to ask myself right now, I still don’t have a good picture about my future: about what kind of long-term job I want to do, what kind of life style I want to have, etc; BUT, ever since I came here I got so much resources to move and explore.

I am a Work and Holiday Visa holder (visa subclass 462). Only 1000 people from Indonesia can go to Australia with this visa in a year. The first time I heard about this was in 2015 and I actually wanted to join in the next batch in 2016. Somehow life gave me another privilege to enjoy my time in Indonesia until I finally departed in Feb 2018. I still remember I started to aim this in early 2017 and I thought I was be able to make it in the same year. Nevertheless, I never regret anything and I really really believe in God’s timing. During my waiting period, I enjoyed my work life with Jasmine Tease, I enjoyed my friends company, and I enjoyed spending time with my family until the time for me to go had come.

It was hard indeed. I had never lived alone before and fully depended on myself; being away from home made me really sad! I really missed my Unyung, my family, my friends, my clay, and everything. The first 2 weeks were the hardest and it was worse because I didn’t have so many activities to do. It was hard to find a job and I didn’t have much money to survive PLUS, I still had bills to pay in Indonesia. It was hard yes, I should’ve been so stressed but funny, I was so happy too! Life somehow tasted much sweeter when I had no money. I thank universe for leading my life this way and I am so grateful I met so many kind people whom without them, I wouldn’t have been here, living happily right now.

Now, I have a job, I earn good money, I can help my parents and others, I have savings, I can go on holidays, I meet so many good friends, and most importantly, I KNOW WHAT TO DO at least in the next 5 years. Seriously, that’s what makes me soooooo happy. Well, everything is uncertain; I may get many surprises along the way; I may experience the good and the bad. But, good? bad? who knows! I totally dare to live my life to the fullest.

The Motorcycle Diaries: The End of Trip

May 14th 2017

It was Sunday and it was our last day in Kupang. We decided to visit two last places before heading back to Jakarta and we got ready in the very morning; those were Oenesu Waterfall and Tablolong Beach. Oenesu was located not far from the city and Messi helped me again with GPS. It was quite complicated when we drove in the city but after that, the view was so nice. Trees were everywhere and the breeze was very fresh. It was quite quiet tho, wherever we passed any neighborhood. Then we later learned that most of the people went to the church for Sunday morning mass.

We drove about 30 mins until we finally reached Oenesu Waterfall site. It was super quiet, REALLY! When we entered the parking lot, there were just 3 people: two in ticketing and one was sweeping the ground. Honestly, I was having goosebumps knowing that there were no other visitors but us. However, we acted cool and ‘hey, this is the time when we can enjoy the nature, just us, no crowds like at other famous places’, I told to myself. And yeah indeed! That was very nice to enjoy nature privately!

We trekked down a few steps to reach the bench where we put our clothes and from that view, the waterfall looked so majestic. It has 4 tiers that it looked like a giant chocolate fountain, well I don’t mean the color. Messi took some long-exposure pictures without tripod and I copied her technique lol. I love the result!

Done taking pictures, we quickly played with the water. We crossed a big tier and walked to the highest. Anyway, there were SO MANY millipedes, we found about 11 as we walked on the ground. I was scared of them and so was Messi >.< But luckily we found a safe spot to put our bags, right beside the highest tier of waterfall. Oenesu waterfall was very fun to explore! I could land my feet anywhere and lied myself down anywhere! Right below the tallest waterfall there was a ‘pond’ which called me to swim. I put on my goggle but I was scared lol! As I said in my post earlier that I am not a water-element girl and since Messi couldn’t swim, I was afraid no one could help me, lol! We just had fun laying down, felt the water passing us. It was relaxing, calming, fresh, and I felt peaceful. I looked up to the sky, well, almost no sky actually, the trees were so big and they covered it but whatever, I felt so grateful. I was in love with mother nature and Indonesia; I started singing national anthem and songs. I powered up my voice and burst in tears, not sure if Messi saw that, she was enjoying with her own style. Messi joined me in the water and we talked to each other for some time.

Tall enough! (Messi)
Super nice! (Messi)

We enjoyed it peacefully quite long, maybe for almost an hour when I realized I lost my swim goggle! I was like wtf, it was new and expensive and I didn’t have budget to buy new one afterward. I walked down to the lower tiers and tried searching for it then I saw a man far down there, squatted by the stream and I shouted to him, asking if he saw a swim goggle. He didn’t seem hear us yet he came over and greeted us. He was small, looked old and seemed to be friendly enough, those were my first judgement about him. He couldn’t speak Bahasa Indonesia very well but he explained he didn’t see my property so yeahh, let’s just let it go. I am sure I asked his name but I forgot, so let’s just call him Mr. X.

Although Mr. X couldn’t speak Bahasa Indonesia very well, he seemed excited enough to talk with us. He carried a long blade and he explained that he has been living near there for a long time and he took care of the place. He told us several stories about how people should behave at Oenesu Waterfall. He told us that sexual conduct is not appropriate there yet there were always romantic couples did that. He also told about a tall and dark-skinned man who always peek from far and hunt for girls. Since his Bahasa wasn’t really clear, I thought he was talking about ghost or goblin or whatever! My goosebumps felt much stronger and I looked around, it was still quiet. Where are the hell the others? It was Sunday and people normally come to famous tourism spot to hangout huh?? My instinct gave me alert yet I still wanted to dig more information. He kept talking about that man and described how that guy love to see women in wet clothes, just like me and Messi. I guess Mr. X was good in impersonating when he stared at our bodies. At that time I realized that we were totally soaked! He continued telling us how he saved the women. Mr. X claimed he hit the guy three times already and while he was explaining that, he pointing the blade into the air and we were very scared. He told us not to worry because we got him around and he would protect us.

Messi and I love watching movies and there are countless movies that show a ‘friend’ is actually your enemy. Playing hero. As if Messi could read my mind, we ended the conversation right away. I tried to be good, didn’t show that I was scared to death. I pretended to keep being friendly to him and always starting conversations with him. We asked for a moment to take our belongings and when we were away from him, Messi and I assured each other that we should get the hell outta there quickly. Well, just say I am a bad friend, I walked quickly and took the first in the line and Messi was behind me, followed by Mr. X. LOL!! Sorry Messi! But damn, a moment after that Messi took my spot and I eventually walked in the middle! (Messi later admitted that she also had the same motive and she wanted to keep her safe, just like me, damn you Messi! lol). Well, I couldn’t even laugh at that time; the fact that I was right in front of Mr. X and he could swing the blade to me at anytime made me felt restless. I walked like a crab then, I didn’t give my back to him so that I could monitor his movement. I kept talking to him while walking to the bench where we put our outer clothes. I asked how many children he had. He answered he wasn’t married. I laughed pitifully. I suggested him to find a good woman in the neighborhood. He also asked me back to help him find the woman. Woman from Jakarta is nice, he said. Like me and Messi, he said. I wanted to cry!

We successfully took our clothes and I quickly said good bye. I asked Messi to quickly give our BIG bread –forget about breakfast!– to avoid him asking anything. He received that with smile and later he asked for money. I asked Messi to give him 20k and he accepted it with smile again, maybe because of the bread since he told us earlier that people usually gave him 50k. We said goodbye again and HE ASKED AGAIN! He asked for our phone numbers and OMG, OF COURSE I CAN’T GIVE IT TO YOU, BRO! I refused, he asked again, I refused again while walking up to the exit xD. We wanted to get some help from people but omg there was nobody outside in the parking lot, even the fence was closed! I asked Messi to open it while I was turning the scooter on and we finally escaped quickly. Not long after that, we passed a house with many people. I stopped and explained the situation. I just wanted to know if the tall guy existed (there must be rumor tho!) but they said no. So then we didn’t know which one was true; was Mr. X true, or was he just making up a story.

I managed to take picture of him. He innocently agreed with the fact I was taking his picture as a proof. Just in case. Sometimes he was innocent like a kid, if he was really a villain, he musn’t have wanted his picture taken. Just be safe if you want to visit the waterfall, okay!

Even though we have left Oenesu Waterfull far behind, I still drove fast lol! YES I WAS SO SCARED! But not long after that Messi and I laughed together, it was fun tho!! We headed to the Tablolong Beach and felt calmer. The road was very beautiful that I can’t show you. We tried to take pictures but I don’t think they resemble well.

The real situation was moreeee beautiful. So green and sometimes when we passed open area and the sea was visible. So blue! When we arrived at the gate, the officer warned us to keep an eye to our belongings. Many thieves, he said. I prayed so hard so nothing bad would happen to us. We were a few hours away until we went back home. The beach was still far from the gate and the road was very bumpy, and it was quiet too. Fortunately we got there safely, I parked the scooter super near the hut LOL! No stealing, thief! It was Om Stev’s not mine. We took pictures and actually I was so tempted to swim. I couldn’t find a clear sea water where I could see corals near the seaside in Lembata. Even color of the water in Kolbano beach was so dense. No shallow sea water like in Tablolong. Sadly, we had to quickly move because our flight time was coming. I want to go to Tablolong Beach first if I come to Kupang again!

We finally got back home safely and returning the scooter to Om Stev. Messi told him to pick us up to the airport at 2pm. I asked her if it was better if we could leave at 1.30pm. Messi said no rush, we got still more time until take off. Well, okay then.

We showered and lazily laying down in bed until I saw our flight details. It was shown that our take off would be 2.50 pm. It was already 2 and we suddenly panicked!! Om Stev were nowhere to be seen! We split the duty. Messi was in charge in checking out and I was looking for Om Stev. Om Stev was still searching for another ojek but he couldn’t find any. We then decided to cengtri; three people in a scooter and we asked him to drive like a bullet because we were running out of time. He tried so hard, really! I used the scooter in the previous day and I felt the brake was quite hard to handle, not working really well. Om Stev looked very hard to drive us with that hilly road. Om Stev, I woof you T^T

Very kind, he cleans his scooter before renting it away, super nice laaa pokoknya. Om Stev (082147510699)

Well yeah, we finally made it and safely landed in Jakarta around 7 PM.

Exhausted.

I am looking forward for another adventure. By the time I write this, still haven’t gotten any chance to do this kind of fun again. Soon, maybe. Alone will be fine, with Messi, will be more fun I think 😉  I am grateful to be trusted to live my life this way. This year is hard for me in some aspects but when I look back to the past nine months, I am glad, I collect memories in a very beautiful way.

P.S.

I dedicated this post for my adventurous friend, Messi, whom just celebrated her birthday mid September. You know I love you and I can’t wait to explore the world with you again. Stay healthy and happy until then!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

The Motorcycle Diaries: 300 KM in a day just to see this!

Hello World! I’m back again lol! It’s kinda weird to write something from a journey that happened 3 months ago, IT’S SUPER LATE! I know! I know lol. Things happened but here I am, laying in bed and writing at a the most proper time. Let’s just get started!


On the previous blog, Messi and I were done with our trip together with Bang Adjie and Kak Nancy. We had so much fun in Lembata and Larantuka and time to part had come. Messi and I continued our journey to Kupang and to me that was also one of the most valuable moments in my life!

I always like driving, both motorcycle and car; since I spend my time mostly riding motorcycle so yeah, my skill is upgraded from time to time. When I was riding in Lembata and Messi was sitting behind me and we talked about a family who rides from the east to the west of Indonesia. Somehow I liked the concept and it must be awesome to do the touring! We also watched The Motorcycle Diaries (2004) and we loved it. Well, we’re not Ernesto and Alberto who ride for a long time and experience things that change their lives completely. We’re just two city girls who rent a scooter for 100k rupiahs for 2 days and had fun in Kupang.

 

May 12th 2017

Touched down in Kupang at around 5 pm. We took a cab and went directly to our homestay. We got this recommendation from Bang Adjie; our room was so cheap and since Messi and I traveled on budget, we agreed laa. Our room has no AC but it was nice and clean enough (except the toilet). Anyway, I thought Kupang would be hot because it’s located in eastern Indonesia too. It’s near Lembata so I thought they must have the same weather. However, it’s surprisingly not hot and not humid as well, I just felt like I was in my hometown! The ambiance of the city was also like another big cities in Java. We also didn’t find any unique places that sell Kupangnese (?) foods; they were all quite the same as Jakarta: nasi padang, warteg, soto lamongan. Ah, there are so many transmigrants from Java so, well, i felt quite homey yet I expect something more unique and sooo Kupang.

Anyway we met the landlord and discussed about things as well as the recommended places in Kupang. We then decided to visit Kolbano beach on the next day. I immediately opened G-map and saw the duration: around 3 hours driving. Well, yeah, affordable and not hard to do that; I said to myself. We agreed to rent a scooter for 1 and a half day from Om Stev; a tukang ojek nearby (cool name huh xD), and we agreed to start tomorrow morning before 9am.

 

May 13th 2017

I woke up lazily so I took a bath first to fresh myself; Messi was so hyped and she showered quickly after me. While I was waiting for her, I opened G-map again and took a closer look and studied the map. Then I realized one thing: THE DISTANCE! Yeaaaaa, yesterday our landlord also mentioned that Kolbano was far from our place and yeaaaaaa I saw the map slightly and agreed to bear the duration. But that morning, I was completely sane and aware about the place we were about to visit. Kolbano beach was located 149 KM far away from our place and we would go there by scooter for around THREE hours and I was the only one who would drive! WTF lol!

 

 

Earlier on the previous night, I stupidly imagined driving a car for 3 hours and I didn’t find it a trouble because I used to driving that long in my hometown. And that morning I also realized 3 hour driving in Jakarta is NOT the same as 3 hour driving in Kupang xD. In Jakarta, you can drive 50 km for 2-3 hours because of the traffic jam. I googled Kolbano Beach and looked at it carefully while considering if it was worth it to visit lol. The pictures were so tempting but I was still in doubt so I tried to discussed it with Messi. I talked about it to her, not a clear one, I used codes to tell her that I was not really okay to ride that long and that far; she didn’t seem get the codes so hell yeah, just bear with it and break a record! *slapped my face*.

We were heading to the direction to Soe; the road was smooth, no traffic jam, nice weather and nice view along the way! I completely forgot how doubt I was and enjoyed every seconds instead! Since we were not getting used to Kupang area, we thought it was better to be back at our place not too late so I managed the time and was speeding from time to time. When the road was nice enough, I drove fast; around 80-110 kph. Second record, lol! Messi was quiet along the way but I’m sure she didn’t even freak out at once. It was so fun even for the riding solely lol, we had so much fun and experienced beautiful little things before we finally arrived at Kolbano Beach.

 

We thought it was a river but we wondered why it wasn’t loaded with so much water.

 

 

Mass transportation in Kupang. Pardon us for the headless pic; this was taken while riding. (Messi)

 

Saw many children after the school was finished. This group was luckier than the previous groups of children who walked barefoot. (Messi)

 

Saw so many traditional houses in Kupang. (Messi)

 

Near the beach. (Messi)

 

Kolbano Beach was soooooooooo beautiful! There were no sand, just beautiful small rocks and the sea color was so tosca. I really really really really loved it!!

 

Arrived!

 

The famous rock. (Messi)

 

Infinity. (Messi)

 

 

 

 

Anaknya Caesar.

 

Playing like a kid in this milkish water. The wave was strong tho!!

 

 

People collect the rocks and sell it to the other islands with such a cheap price, less than 10k per big sack. We often see these type in the designated garden.

 

A brand new dock. This man is one of the workers who build a port in Kolbano Beach. He said, in the future, Australian tourists will be able to visit Kupang directly by cruise. I asked if he was ever jump from this dock to the water since the it was so tempting. He said hell no! There are crocodiles coming from the estuary. Holy craaaabbbb, glad I didn’t try swimming!

 

We supposed to get back to home at 1pm but we played with the water again and again lol! Too fun and too short! We then left for good at 2pm and I drove very fast to avoid the night. Earlier in the morning I thought I would be very tired on our way home but it wasn’t that bad! Since Messi was so light, I felt like riding by myself and didn’t feel tired because of the weight, plus, the scenery was great and that what helped me the most!

 

Somewhere in Kupang.

 

lol.

 

We were riding super fine until something happened. We heard a dragging sound from our scooter and holy crab, the exhaust cover got loose that it was dragged in one side. Since I couldn’t find a lock nut to put the cover back on, I thought it would be easier to loose the other side. Nevertheless it was useless tho since the lock nut was stuck and I couldn’t find any key to proceed it. We spent 10 minutes there until a kind man came and told us that we had passed a workshop and it wasn’t far so it’d be better to go there. I nodded but I was still confident we could solve this by ourselves so he helped us for another 10 minutes until we finally gave up. He together with Messi then rode the scooter to a workshop nearby. I was quite worried that because of this ‘incident’ we would come home late. We promised Om Stev to be at homestay at 6pm and I also didn’t want to drive at night in an unfamiliar places and the scooter lamp was even out of order. Anyway, less than 10 minutes later Messi and our savior came back and omigosh. Why didn’t I agreed to send it to workshop earlier?!

 

 

We finally arrived at homestay after having more than 4 hours ride with total distance about 300 KM. It was tiring but super fun! Messi was a great companion tho, unlike other female friends, she notices the signs, paths, and she was like my co-pilot. I would love to do this again with her!

VAYA CON DIOS!

People don’t take trips. Trips take people. – John Steinbeck.

It’s what Messi and I exactly feel! We are still amazed until right now and still wonder how lucky we are to have done the trip to Lembata. Continuing to the previous story, Papa Oli and Mama Gita are the biggest reasons we consider ourselves lucky.  I am sorry in advance; there are details of gratefulness we can’t share (although we’re dying want to). Some precious moments are meant for Messi and me to keep. Besides, if you are destined to go there you’d probably think it’s better to have your own personal experience in enjoying kindness from Papa Oli and Mama Gita. Everyone’s different thus let’s keep our blessings special.

“I’ve never received a love like that to me before. No one ever treated me like them before.” I said to Messi tearfully on the night after we left Lembata Island. We cried, again. It was our first time to experience such a life-changing moment. We knew we just have known Papa Oli and Mama Gita for a quite short time, we’ve never known how they were before. But our hearts knew best, conscience sense better than brain, and we knew that they were a truly kind couple. True altruists.

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by love and kindness from someone who doesn’t really do any particular act? We found it in Papa Oli. It was so strange. I even felt so happy without any clear reasons when he asked me to sit beside him, called my name, smiled at me, and touched my shoulder when he encouraged me. He was the most selfless man I’ve ever met in my 27 years of life. I’ve met some ‘influencing’ people; they carry their own charity organizations, their religions; they tell everyone how good they are in their religions and what they have done to contribute in their religions. They become public speakers, trying to make a change to other people, and eventually people will be moved to buy their books, videos, etc. Yet, sadly, when I get to know them deeper, I know who they truly are. More precisely, my heart knew from the beginning that there was something different behind the self they show to others.

Papa Oli has been working for Taman Daun for 30 years and it’s still slow moving. I hope you can guess why. Yes, as I said in the previous blog, he works in silence. He doesn’t let his noble intention forming another ego: ego of a good Oli. All the greatness of Taman Daun that I heard told by Bang Adjie; just like me trying to promote Taman Daun to others. Papa Oli was there when we listened to the story; he just smiled, laughed, and occasionally joined Bang Adjie. These young people: Bang Adjie and John S.J were the ones who tried to promote it on the internet. Papa Oli has a Facebook account and a cell phone, but they are also managed by his daughter. He simply doesn’t care about those things. He enjoys taking care of children. He is so down to earth, he never talks about his greatness; he serves best, and he gives a lot. He doesn’t wear sandals; he lets his feet touching the earth.

Mama Gita is also the same. When she taught us doing tenun, she always said ‘pardon me’ before she interrupted and corrected us. And she was sooo patient teaching us. Even when we screwed up the pattern, she said ‘that’s fine’ ?. She also has a serving heart. She cooked for us and made us lots of breads to keep our stomach full when we were about to go Pulau Siput.

 

A special dinner they prepared for us. (Messi)

 

I heard from Kak Nancy, there once a day when Kak Nancy woke up at 4 am to take over Mama Gita’s role to prepare breakfast for a group of volunteers. Kak Nancy was concerned about Mama Gita’s health. And you know what? Hot tea was even already served at 4am :’( Mama Gita always hugged us tightly every time she greeted us, not merely as basa basi, she hugged with her heart.

Papa Oli and Mama Gita is a perfect match to each other. Both understand about the Lamalera ancient tradition that even when Papa Oli told us a story, Mama Gita would add and vice versa. They did that in a perfect rhythm that didin’t sound like one interrupted rudely each other. Papa Oli also looked at Mama Gita with smile when she talked. They are old by age yet sometimes still teased each other. They always escorted us far to the front when we went home.

Time to part came. We would leave Lembata on Thursday morning so we spent some time at Taman Daun on Wednesday night. Suddenly, Papa Oli came into a room before he headed back to us and said: “These are for you…if I’m not mistakenly stealing (information)…” He gave Messi and me a wood necklace, carved with our Palada number. He must have seen our numbers on our shirts from the first day we came!

 

 

He said the gifts were for us, girls who concerned so much about nature and he said we were special. We were so surprised and so touched. We got so much that night and we tried to contribute too, even though our efforts would never be equal. Later, I aspired that I would come back again to Lembata someday. Papa Oli and Mama Gita said “Pasti.” at the same time ?. Definitely, they said ?. We talked much that night and we would come back again in the following morning to say good bye.

And morning had come, we paid a visit, short one, around 15 mins only. They gave us another gift, a gift that was so special to us and oh my.. Messi and I couldn’t stop saying thank you and we tried so hard to hold our tears. Lastly, I started to hug Mama Gita and she said words indistinctly while hugging me, perhaps a prayer. She later looked at me and marked a cross on my forehead. I started to cry yet I tried so hard to resist. Then I hugged Papa Oli, he prayed for me and crossed my hand while shaking hand. He did it while looking me in the eyes and I felt the love from those eyes.  Messi started to cry hard that I finally failed to act strong. It was a very touching moment to all of us. We were all cried and we were very sad we had to go.

While I was walking out, I rang 3 bells at Taman Daun. They were believed could grant our wishes. I have rung them a few times before, wishing things for my own. That morning before we parted, I rang them again and I sincerely wished that they will still be healthy when I meet them again. Messi and I were ready to go while Bang Adjie and Kak Nancy had departed; maybe, they gave us one last chance. We waved our hands to them, with eyes full of tears. They said go and don’t look back.

 

Last picture of us

 

I’m crying again right now :’(

We became silent on our way to Larantuka while we crossed the sea. It was dramatic and I couldn’t help it. I am always true to my feelings. I spent some time to sit alone on the front deck and I was so grateful about everything. I flash-backed about Taman Daun and I said to myself once again: I.WILL.GO.BACK.

On that night when we were about to sleep at Kak Nancy’s house in Larantuka, I discussed again with Messi. We were asking what made ourselves special and wondering how they could effortlessly inspired us to be kind, like them. They didn’t preach us, didn’t lecture us; they simply effortlessly taught us about love and compassion by being who they were. They inspired me to be a better person, reminded me to be selfless (which i will keep trying to train myself, not easy), and they inspired me to be down to earth and has a heart that serves. We cried again and Messi hugged me. Oh well.

I’m still so young, and so is Messi. We’ll keep practicing and won’t forget to be happy too. Whenever I felt down, I touched the necklace from Papa Oli; and I knew…I’m loved.

We deeply thank Bang Adjie and Kak Nancy so much again and again. Kak Nancy cooked and did a lot to us. We thank Bang Adjie, for hosting us at his house, for accompanying us everywhere, and for washing our clothes with washing machine in so early morning ??. We thank Bang Adjie’s parents for letting us sleep there, made the room ready, for the breakfasts every morning. We thank Kak Nancy’s family for doing the same.

All these precious memories will forever be cherished. Even if we can’t pay back, God will.

 

With Bang Adjie's parents
Farewell with Bang Adjie’s parents. Ignore my legging please.

 

With Papa Oli’s father. His heart was so tender.

 

With Kak Nancy’s family.

 

Our last selfie.

 

Thank you so much.

Vaya Con Dios and till we meet again.

TAMAN DAUN, A PLAYGROUND FOR ALL

Reading is a window to the world. Imagine life without books, without information, how would your life be? I’ve never truly conceived it until just now.

We visited Taman Daun on our second day when we had finished exploring Bukit Cinta and Bukit Doa. As we got there, we were greeted very warmly from an old man whom we later called Papa Oli. We were quickly introduced about Taman Daun.

 

 

Taman Daun is a place designed for children to read and to relax. The idea came up with a very thoughtful intention, to provide various books for children since the access to read books was very limited. Lembata Island is bigger than Jakarta, yet there are no bookstores like here which we can find in every mall. And you know how many malls in Jakarta. Imagine there is an island which has no privilege the same as we have here and there are brains which are probably much smarter than us? All they need is the access to get education, to receive knowledge, and I believe there is at least somebody who will grow up to be such a great person. Imagine.

This man, Papa Oli, provides it. He, together with his wife, Mama Gita, built a place for children to enjoy their after-school time.

 

Papa Oli

 

Papa Oli and Mama Gita used their own land, built everything slowly with their own money, and they gathered book donors from their relatives. Taman Daun’s natural concept also provides a relaxing ambiance for children because they knew children get so much pressure from schools; get a strict education such as memorizing or answer questions academically. Taman Daun also provides creative activities to emerge and stimulate other part of children’s brain, or simply to let them to just have fun. Children can also enjoy reading things they don’t get from school such as folklore, craft books, history of many countries in the world, fun science, etc. Taman Daun has a dream: to provide a million books for Lembata. As for now, they have received about 4.000 books and they are also have distributed the books to 3 other branches. Those branches were collaborated with others (some are under different names), inspired by the noble vision of Papa Oli has.

 

 

 

Paintings by Papa Oli and his children. Archie (middle child) contributes most and he also crafts things as souvenirs.

 

Courtesy of Taman Daun blogspot

 

Taman Daun also has so many beautiful spots, indoor and outdoor. Children really love spending time outdoors. I also noticed that children even visit Taman Daun right after school when the school uniform is still put on. They will spend a quite short time to play then they will go home to change clothes before they come back again to read, to play, or to finish their homework.

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the title said, it’s also a playground for adults to have fun in a different way. Messi and I enjoyed spending quality time; talking about change, world, children, ancient belief of Lamaholot people, the whale-hunting tradition, and sooo many more topics. We discussed it altogether with Papa Oli, Mama Gita, Bang Adjie, Kak Nancy, and sometimes, Papa Oli’s youngest daughter, Maris. We talked about it in a way that I found it was so refreshing, amazing, completely from a different point of view. One of them is about the whale-hunting tradition of Lamalera.

Lamalera is located in the southern part of Lembata. During May to October, whales migrate passing the sea area near their village. I am an animal lover and I truly deeply passionately (lol) disrespect or sometimes hate people who abuse or kill animals. I have heard about the whale-hunting tradition from several years ago and Bang Adjie invited me to come to Lembata when the ceremony is held. I said yes but I actually didn’t want to see it lol. Since it’s a tradition, I knew I should respect it and I can’t do anything to change it so I better pull to one side. However, our afternoon talk about this tradition with Papa Oli, Mama Gita and Bang Adjie, opened my eyes and made me realize that there are always 2 sides of a coin.

I hope I can re-explain it with pictures taken by Arnold Simanjuntak.

 

Blessings From The Sea

Young to old people take a part in this tradition.

 

Tradition and religion walk side by side. Catholic religion adapts and supports by adding rituals.

 

Priests (or pastors?) bless the sea, hoping things will go well. Before that, a mass also be held and attended by the whole villagers.

 

Twelve men in the boat. Those who go to the hunting should be ‘clean’. They are not supposed to do bad things to others before otherwise they’ll be dead or missing. Those who stands lead the way; they use sign language. Verbal activity is forbidden to prevent bad luck. Hunting is a spiritual process that everyone has to go through. Nature is amazing. Be kind, always.

 

These are Pledang, their traditional boat.

 

When a whale is within coverage, all gather work together. No individual ego here about which boat should win the prize.

 

Juru tikam..

 

Ready to be brought home.

 

Once the whale touch the shore, all people gathered and help each other to process it. They get the oil, the bones, the teeth, and of course, the meat.

 

While waiting for the men coming back from the sea, all women can do chores as usual yet they should always carry a knife in case a whale successfully brought to the village. It’s believed that the blessing from the sea should be taken care of immediately otherwise nature will see the neglect and bring bad luck to the village.

 

The meat will be distributed to all people in the village. The poor and the widows will also get the portion hence it’s literally called a blessing from the sea. Some will use the meat and oil to consume, to sell, or to trade with people in mountain. Lamalera people who live near the sea normally use the ‘blessing’ to barter into cotton, corns, etc.

 

All are happy 🙂

 

Get the local wisdom?

One more wonder of Taman Daun xD!! Visitors can also try tenun. Indonesia has so many places which produce tenun and each tenun from a place is different to another. Since Papa Oli and Mama Gita are Lamalera people, they style of tenun is also influenced by Lamalera thing: whale.

 

Love it so much.

 

Messi was sooo serious learning.

 

Messi and I gave it a try and omigosh it was quite hard! Well, tenun with the machine isn’t that hard as long as we get used to the pattern but what I describe as hard is the whole process! From harvesting the cotton, dyeing process, into a ready-to-wear fabric! Mama Gita is an expert in this. She has been producing tenun from she was young and now she also teaches visitors to finish their own tenun. She also creates some for sale, Messi bought one and she loved it!

 

Mama Gita taught each of us very politely and very patiently xD

 

Messi got the first turn and she learned for about 30 mins. She even dare to teach me! Look, she laughed at me -.-  xD

 

We had to wear tenun while we menenun. It’s a tradition that should be followed.

 

Finished learning. Messi and I wore traditional tenun.

 

Days that Messi and I spent in Taman Daun were good. We were amazed by the kindness of Papa Oli, Mama Gita, and the whole family! We knew we were so lucky to have the opportunity to know them; thank you Bang Adjie, thank you universe.

As I heard from Bang Adjie, not everybody likes Papa Oli and his Taman Daun. Some are envious or even dislike with no clear reason. Well, there are always haters 🙂 Papa Oli and Mama Gita work in silence. On its 30th anniversary, all they want isn’t to have a bigger and a more materialistic Taman Daun. They just simply wish to receive 996.000 more books for children in Lembata, or maybe, NTT. Will you be a part of their dream?

Here is the address in case you are moved to send reading books, drawing books, stationery, school supplies and other related gifts for the children in Lembata.

Taman Daun / Taman Baca Anak

RT 005 RW 002

Kelurahan Lewoleba, Kecamatan Nubatukan

Kabupaten Lembata, NTT

Contact Person: (+62)822.4758.0547 — Goris Ubas (Papa Oli)

 

There is also a relative of Papa Oli who also has the same spirit and he fights for Kupang area while helping Papa Oli taking care social net marketing of Taman Daun.

You can also send the book to him  (+62)813.385.394.34 (John, S.J)

http://tamandaun.blogspot.co.id

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