I’ve been traveling before I realized I was traveling, that is when I was 2 months old. I was born in capital of Indonesia, Jakarta. However, I originally from West Sumatra,- located on the western part of Sumatra island, almost 2 hours by plane from Jakarta, or 30 hours by bus or car across the fifth biggest island in the world named Sumatra, then take a 2 hour ferry to land on Java island, it’s not finish yet..still there’s around 3 hours road trip to reach Jakarta city.
After 2 months gave birth, my mom brought me back to West Sumatra by plane. It was my first flight experience that I only heard from my mom story, of course I can’t remember anything of my first flight since I was still a newborn baby.
My grandparents’ origin is from a small village at Lake Maninjau, around 3 hours road trip from capital of West Sumatra, Padang. Okay, based on my dad’s story,- actually my great grandparent from dad side comes from Aceh, southern part of Aceh, Tapak Tuan to be exact.
Aceh is Indonesian province located on the northern tip of Sumatra island, which is full of her colorful culture, melting pot of Arabic, Indian, Indochine (Thai, Cambodian, Vietnamese), Malay Peninsula, Persian and Portuguese.
Speaking of Portuguese or descendants of Portuguese in Aceh, there are a group of Acehnese who are called as ‘Blue Eyed Acehnese’. They have Eurasian appearance with blue eyes, sharp nose, blond hair and quite taller than average Acehnese.
Before 2004 they can be found in Lamno, then the saddest thing happened, this area and its people were swept away by Aceh Tsunami 2004 disaster that caused these blue eyes Acehnese lost lives and survivors moved to other places around Aceh province.
Portuguese started living in Aceh when they were conquering Malacca in Malay peninsula, it’s around 1400 – 1500. I’m wondering how come these blue eyed people still keep the Caucasian feature in their DNA after more than 4 century?
Since I was young, I’ve gotten used to travel through the road trip from Padang city to my parents village in remote area around lake Maninjau. It takes around 3 or 4 hours journey and my dad used to drive himself. I do enjoying the trip where I love to let my mind wandering around while seeing the great scenery, flowing river, waterfall, hills, rice fields and finally the lake.
My grandparents from my mom resided in Jakarta, on Java island. It’s not a short distance, around 900 kilometer from West Sumatra. However, since I was young I used to visit them when we had a big holiday.
We didn’t travel to Jakarta by plane, but my dad together with his friend drove the car from West Sumatra to Jakarta which took around 2 days road trip. ROAD TRIP!!!! The infrastructure wasn’t really good, we passed some truck or private car accidents, or I admit it, there are a lot Indonesian who are not really responsible in driving, or another cases, the vehicle itself is not possible to be used anymore. Sad but true. The law is not really strict in this matter.
I remember, I was around 7 years old when one of our car tire got crashed. It is okay if it’s happened at the day, but the scary thing was happened in the middle of the night and we’re in the middle of Sumatra jungle. GPS was not invented or being sold back then, also mobile phone isn’t exist yet, even though we had GPS and mobile phone I’m not sure there would be signal in the jungle.
We didn’t even have any idea where we are exactly unless we’re in the middle of nowhere. No other cars or trucks passing by, the latter we knew, it’s not recommended to pass these jungle road after the sun set. There are a lot of case private cars/truck driver hijacked by muggers.
There are many bad things would be happened If we’re unlucky such as, a group of mugger who ready to rob and kill us to vanish the witness, wild animal probably there, animal could smell the fresh human blood from far distance.
My dad and his friends asked me to lock the car when they were replaced the tire, they worked fast, tried to limit the sound and Thank God, finally we passed the intense moment, ……… I was still 7 years old at that time.
The latter, I realized I was too young to face the adventure. My adventure soul starts growing since then.
Some years later, I went studying in Jakarta. At those times, airlines ticket whether it is domestic or International flight were still very expensive, I wouldn’t spend much money for flight IF it’s not in emergency situation.
So, while studying in Jakarta,- at least twice a year I traveled from Padang-Jakarta or vice versa by bus. Around 30 hours road trip, passing the hills, mountainous areas, jungle, city to city and provinces… watching locals when the bus stop over for lunch, dinner or break fast.
I know it’s hard to imagine for my Jakartan friends who never experience this long journey, they can’t imagine I have to sit for 30 hours in the bus, it must be boring, one of them commented. NO. I said, .. I never really think it’s boring.
Most of the time, I traveled without company, just with stranger I met in the bus. I can truly say, it’s the time I can recharge my body or SOUL.
I love sitting next to the window and let my eyes wandering on my own mind for many hours. I’m happy I have my own time to be alone during the road trip with green scenery behind my window.
I remember last summer in Utrecht, Holland. I told my Spanish classmate that I’m going to Berlin by night bus. It will take around 9 hours journey,- I explained, then his reaction was so depressing and ‘Oh no’, that’s a long journey and must be tiring!!!! he said.
I told him that I used to this, I used to travel by bus from island to island for 30 hours road trip. He got surprised, laughed and added, ..okay,- 9 hours must be easy for you then, … ‘yes, it’s just a piece of cake’ I said silently, almost in heart. 😛
In 2004, I moved to Singapore. I encountered new people, atmosphere, culture, food, accent and different languages, characters and the nice thing is I make friends with people from different nationalities. I entered a new chapter of my life. Times in Singapore for more than 5 years, it’s not only study and work I’ve gained here, but also a life lesson.
While living in Singapore, I loved exploring the city alone, I enjoy the long walks in the city street, watching the hustle and bustle city life, stop at a cafe to drink coffee. Or taking random bus without any idea where the bus will bring me. When I found a place worth visiting, I pressed the bell then get off the bus.
One thing I become aware since I lived abroad for a long period of time is, I love my country cuisine more than before 🙂
As a tourist I think it is normal I become so excited and curious ordering new menu I’ve never tried. But, when I started becoming a long term resident abroad, I must admit it,— I can’t tell lie to my origin taste. So, I’m extremely happy when I’m abroad then I meet Indonesian cuisine. As I experienced in Holland and Germany summer 2010 where there are a lot Indonesisch Restaurant scattered over Holland, which I believe if continue my study in this country, I will survive 😉
One day, I had a good chat with a random fellow Indonesian. He told me that we don’t need to travel overseas to see paradise. Indonesia is big, the largest archipelago in the world, paradise is in Indonesia, you don’t need to be so proud of traveling to Europe, Japan before you explore Indonesia first.
I was speechless and muting. It doesn’t mean I agreed with what he said, but I’m just wondering…. On my journey, I actually don’t really search for paradise.
I’m not on honeymoon or to be honest, I’m not European backpacker who become so excited to see the beaches, because they live in cold region, they worship SUN and beaches in tropical countries like Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. Their expectation to be getting tanner after their trip in tropical paradise.
I grew up in Padang city, my house is not more than 2 km away of the shore. Every morning I could hear the wave sound from my house, yes, it’s just a normal beach, unlike beaches in Bali, Thailand or Maldives. But, as a person who grew up not really far from the beach I’m not really excited to see the beach, it’s just a common thing for me, like one of my Dutch friend who never interested in wind mill and black and white cows, he becomes so interested in palm trees and paddy field instead.
On the contrary, my ideal place for holiday or live is mountainous place like Switzerland, Canada or New Zealand pictures I’ve seen on postcards. I feel so peaceful every time I close my eyes and imagine I was inhaling the fresh air of mountainous oxygen, then having a cup of hot chocolate with some biscuit every afternoon, instead of freaking hot beaches in tropical, and party, Rastafarian lifestyle.
I know Indonesia is HUGE, 5000 km distance from west to east, more than 300 culture and ethnic languages, great place for scuba diving, surfing, more than 30 active volcanoes, more than 16,000 islands spread across the equator. It makes us proud with its nickname, ‘Indonesia, emerald of the equator.’ Yes, it’s one of million beautiful places in the world, ……. but, It doesn’t mean we don’t need to travel to widen our horizon, we need to get out of our comfort zone.
I’m not a tourist in a group tour. I’m explorer, adventurist by nature. I enjoy meeting new people, from different countries… I enjoy listening to different languages I don’t understand….. even though it sounds like %(*#)!#BV&!#N())) for me, …. For sure It’s enriched my mind. I enjoy to figure out non roman alphabet I discovered in Singapore, Thailand. I enjoy encountering local character and cultural communication. It brings me to small conclusion that this world is so colorful, push me to be more tolerant towards the difference.
A few days ago, I participated on lonely planet quiz about cultural communication, Wow, I’m happy with the result that I only got one mistake of 10. They claimed me as a seasoned traveler!!! Woohooo, I’m somewhat flattered with the result and comment… I’ve only been traveling 5 percent of the world so far;) , and scoring 9 out of 10 is a fun news….
Frankly speaking, appreciating our country is great, it’s better than we just criticizing our country without doing nothing for our country. But, being too nationalist is enough to blind our mind and eyes, we only think we’re the best, without opening our mind that the fact is, Indonesia is only a small part of the globe.
And, traveling over Indonesia region is not cheap though. Flight to Thailand is way cheaper than flight to Papua, or eastern part of Indonesia if your starting point from Sumatra or Jakarta.
You don’t need to judge Indonesians who travel to Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore are not a smart traveler, and teaching them that they’d better spend money for their own people than their neighbors. Can you see the picture, for those Indonesian who live in Aceh, North Sumatra, West Sumatra and Riau are easier, closer and cheaper for them to travel to neighbor countries like Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore than Jakarta or Java, Bali.
Actually, it’s easy. Neighbor visits their neighbor one another. And sometimes, the grass is always greener on the other side, no?
At this age, I’d still have some dreams I really want to achieve. I’m not a person who wants to travel more the whole year, because I have another vision and mission for my career either. If I work for bigger company, full time multimedia designer, of course I have to dedicate most of my hours and days for my company and clients. I want to focus on my job, upgrading and exploring my skills, regular life and wait for my annual leaves 😉
After my saving is enough, I really want to take a career break and travel for at least 7 months continuously. Of course, it’s an unpaid leaves……. 😉
I’d like to fulfil my dream to explore Morocco, Turkey ,Italy, Armenia , Albania, Bosnia Herzegovina, Jordan, Iran , Ireland , Iceland hopefully I’ll capture Aurora there, and visiting Chernobyl in Ukraine. I’ve been longing ‘solo travel’ like this, but time and money is the obstacle of my dream.
Since a young age, I’m so interested in Mediterranean and Balkan countries from their history, food and country landscape.
Let the universe conspires in helping me to achieve it.
The Explorer, Adventurer and Dreamer