Saturday, January 31, 2009

The journey continues

Day 1 (Saturday 24th January 2009) – Damri

After collecting my small pack, I headed out the arrival gate. I stopped by the rows of money changer and change a hundred Ringgit into Rupiah. I asked the man behind the counter where can I get a Damri. He gave some direction and off I went, brushing away taxi and ‘ojek’ touts.

What exactly is a Damri? It’s a bus service to and fro the Bandara (short for Bandar Udara also know as airport). It seemed that the first mode of public transport that you would see after passing the touts is car rentals and taxis. I had to ask a few people where was the Damri. I walked towards what seem to be the end of the airport. Until I finally found the signboard and eventually the ticket booth.

As instructed by Mutiara (via online chat and again, sms), I bought a ticket to Bogor. It cost me IDR 30 000. I sat on the bench and waited for the bus. Busses to all destinations seemed to have come, except to Bogor. I waited. And waited. I ‘sms’ed Mutiara telling her that I was still waiting for the bus. Not long after I sent the text, the bus arrived. It was probably around 5.30pm (sorry, on this journey I didn’t bring my Tungsten T5 to jot things down).

I sat next to a man.
Me: Maaf pak, bisa bantu nggak? (translation: Excuse me sir, can you help me?)
Man: Ya bisa. (Yes, of course)
Me: Bisa bantu turunin saya di Citeureup? (Can you help me to get off at Citeureup?)
Man: Ya bisa. Ntar kasi tau sama abang tiket. (Yes, of course. Later [we’ll] tell the ticket man)
That simple request helps to break the ice. His name is Nur. He works in a bauksite (the thingy used to make aluminium) mine somewhere in Kalimantan. He was on his day off to see his three children and wife in Sukabumi – about three hours bus ride from the airport. Though he didn’t look educated, he sounded educated. We talked about various things ranging from demographic in Malaysia, education system in Malaysia to guessing my age and even a little ‘personality reading’ of my name. According to him, my name indicates that I am a good leader, and I more often than not, do things my way. I’m not sure about the first part, but I sure do things my way quite often.

An hour and a half later, the bus exited the highway to Citeureup. I bid my goodbye to Bapak Nur. I secretly thank him for without his constant chat, I might have doze off and missed the stop. I gather my bags and got off the bus, on to the roadside. The bus continued to Bogor.

Day 1 (Saturday 24th January 2009) – Reunion

It was 7 pm and already dark. Unsure where to wait for Mutiara, I tried to telephone her. The call did not got through. I smsed her. Almost immediately she replied. She would be a little late because it rained. I was asked to stay put. And so I did. I stood at the corner of a chaotic road.

There were small stalls along the corner. The small stall on my right was selling some deep fried food. The stall on my right sold drinks, buns and cigarette. There were other stalls, but I couldn’t see what they were selling. The stall on my right was manned by a lady. She had two benches – one on each side of her stall – and two plastic stools.

My feet began to ache. I wanted to sit at the bench, but I felt guilty seating there for free. Feeling a bit thirsty, I bought a bottle of mineral water from the stall on my right.
Me: Berapa, bu? (How much, madam?)
Lady: Dua setengah (Two and a half)
Assuming that she meant IDR 2 500, I gave her IDR 3 000. True enough, she returned a little piece of coin – IDR 500 - to me. I sat on the bench and drank the water. I observed my chaotic surrounding. There were men helping to guide the traffic. Amazingly, even without the men, vehicles just knew when to stop (often at the nick of time). I regretted not putting my fisheye lens on the 400D beforehand. Taking out the camera and changing the lens by the roadside wasn’t really an option. I didn’t want to attract unwanted attention.

After waiting for about thirty minutes, I got a sms from Mutiara, asking my where-about. I replied and immediately stood by the roadside, just in case she had hard time finding me sitting down. I look left and right, unsure where she would come from. Turning my head right, I finally saw her walking with MP from across the road.

Unlike the first time we met, this time we forgo the formal handshake. Mutiara and I hugged like old friends.

It has begun

The invitation

Somewhere in December, Mutiara told me that Kakak was getting married to KP. Yes, thanks to the internet, we still keep in touch. She invited me to attend the wedding. But the dates weren’t set yet. In the weeks that followed, eventually the date was set and Mutiara got busy with the wedding preparation. I on the other hand, got busy with work and at the same time preparing for the trips (saving up money and scouting for the best air fare).

I wasn’t sure my boss would approve my leave. Nevertheless, I booked a flight ticket online. As the date drew nearer, I finally realized that it would be a long weekend break due to the Chinese New Year Holiday! So I just had to apply a day leave and to my surprised, it was approved with no question asked.

And so began yet another solo trip to Cibinong on Saturday 24th January 2009.

Day 1 (Saturday 24th January 2009) – Earful

I had initially wanted to take the bus to the airport. Unfortunately, I was caught in an unexpected traffic jams in my small town, while I was running some errands. Not to mention that I accidently left my international-roaming-enabled-phone on my bed. I had to turn back to pick it up, and by then, it was probably too late to take the bus. I had to ask mom to send me to meet my brother half way to the airport. Mom, only to be told about the trip two days before departure, grudgingly drops me off at the rendezvous point.

It was 12.30pm. I was calm. My flight is at 2.50pm. and the check-in counter closes 45 minutes before the flight. There were still plenty of time (but might not enough if I take the bus). But my brother was furious. He told me that I be in the airport two hours prior the departure time. He lectured me about the security check and clearance. In my previous travel to Indonesia, I never had any problem with security checks. Half an hour later, we reached the airport.

I got my bags scanned and queued at the check-in counter. The lady behind the counter was surprised that I checked-in my small pack instead of my big backpack. I told her that I have liquid in the small back. She understood and expressed her concern that the small pack might get damage or lost. To which I told her it’s okay, the bag contains only liquid in a plastic bottle. It’s my big backpack that I can’t afford to loose.

I got my boarding pass, got through another security check and in a few minutes, got cleared by the immigration. There were many people at the boarding hall. I still had plenty of time to kill. I found a seat, sat down and began to switch on my laptop. I still have plenty of downloaded e-mails to read. Then I realized that I need a power point if I still want to use the laptop onboard the airplane. I looked around and saw another westerner scouting a power point. We booth couldn’t find any near the seating area. I decided to save my battery for the two hours flight and switch off my laptop.

It was around 2.30pm when we started queuing to board the plane. I sat at the window seat, next to a Korean mother and son. The plane took off around 3.20pm, 30 minutes delayed from the scheduled time.

Day 1 (Saturday 24th January 2009) – Killing time in the sky

I had planned to watch some film downloaded into my laptop. Unfortunately, I forgot to take out my earphone. Among the cabin noise, the sound from my small laptop speaker was drowned. I couldn’t hear a thing. So I decide to continue reading my e-mails. And write offline replies. I also got started with some office documentation that needed to be done. However, I had to stop a few times. The flight was a bit bumpy. Perhaps due to some bad weather. Reading while in a bumpy ride caused me to have a little bit of a headache.

The Korean boy next to me dozed off almost throughout the two hours flight. The mom on the other hand woke up during some of those bumpy ride. She noticed the photo on my computer desktop. She commented how cute the little girl. Sensing her skepticism of the girl being my daughter (thought I’m old enough to have a school going child), I explained to her that it’s a photo of my little niece.

I continued with my work. The Korean lady took out a brown exercise book (the kind that have “Rukun Negara” written at the back cover), and began reading. Every now and then she took out an electronic dictionary. I glanced over and realized that she’s learning English. There’s a lot of commonly used English sentences written in the pages. I could make out some of the sentences. It wasn’t the simple basic English sentences. She’s probably in an intermediate level.

Before we knew it, it was time to land.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Preconceive Ideas

Flying back to Malaysia (from a trip that I shall blog about later) last night, I sat next to an Australian. He's making a very short (business) trip to Malaysia. He'll leave on the morning flight.

He commented that I spoke good English, perhaps 99% grammatically correct. I was surprised to hear that. I never think much about how I speak. And to have a native English speaker who studied language to say that, it was really a surprise. Perhaps he after dealing with lots of people, he had a preconceive idea of ordinary-looking-Asian (yes, for those from across the globe who drop by occasionally, I'm an Asian) not being able to speak grammatically correct English. To his comment, I replied that among my friends, my English is not that good. I can say the words, but I can't spell them.

I had wanted to catch a nap, but he's an interesting guy. So I chatted with him throughout the 2 hours flight [clue #1]. He's of mix-blood (though we both agreed we bleed the same red blood). His mix of Indian, German, and native Australian. Because of that, and his beard, some times people thought he's an Arabic. As such, he is often asked whether he's a Muslim. His reply is no. His religion is Humanity. He believes in God. Every human are brothers and sisters. He didn't believe in other kind of religion. To which I replied, religion is a mean to get close to God - whatever God that you believe. And the our relation with God is a personal thing. He agreed.

He told me of his brush with a another westerner in a pub. He, in a good-nature manner, told the guy that he was not offended. By birth, he has a PhD in discrimination - Indian have lots of caste, and discriminates each other. The man in the pub eventually became his good friend. Throughout his travels, he finds more good people than bad, even with all the stereotyping and preconceive ideas.

I told him that most people are good to him BECAUSE of those preconceive ideas. He looks and talks very much like a westerner. The preconceive ideas about him, is that he has money. Naturally, people will treat you better if you have money. He agreed.

We chatted some more and end up exchanging contact numbers. He invited me to stay in his house if I ever come to Brisbane!

Friday, January 02, 2009

My shoes

If you notice, I have a pair of shoes as my profile photo. Yes, that pair of black shoes have been with me on some journey. They have been on some of the trips I took during those lunch break in the city - bus rides and noon walk to name a few. But the pair didn't last, and had since long gone. They did not go as far and as long as these pair of now-no-longer-white-shoes.

My favourite now-no-longer-white-shoes have been with me since 2003. They are well padded making them comfortable enough to be walked in, all day long. Yet they are quick enough to dry when they are wet. They have been with me to Phuket, China, Bali, Singapore, and lots of other places in Malaysia. After five years of abuse, the shoes are still in good condition (though a bit dirty). And best of all, they were given free when I represented my previous office in a sports event!

I hope this year these pair will continue to serve me as I travel through my journey in life!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

It's 2009

My first post for 2009.

I still feel a bit feverish. I'm beginning to think that it's something to do with my internal biological thingy. It's too much of a coincident to fall sick around the same time for three consecutive years. I had fever in 2007 and 2008.

I don't have any new resolution, yet. I'll continue with last year's resolution.