Best Travel Moments in 2013 and Why I Want to Travel More

Medischfun travel quote

Approaching the end of 2013, it’s time to reflect and make resolution for new year ahead. Maybe sounds cliché…make resolutions for new year and maybe some people will forget theirs soon after the trumpet blown and fireworks blasted. But I am not that type of person. Every year I usually make big goals to be reached and usually I work hard to accomplish them. Last year it was Thailand which gave me the travelbug. Trip to Thailand opened my eyes and reminded me of my other passion (besides Medicine), is to travel.

Since I was a kid I want to travel the world (well, who doesn’t?). Me and my family travelled a lot, although only domestically, but they always encouraged me to see the world, gather experiences, and taste everything new. The most important thing they taught me is to pursue my passion, no matter what it is.

I grew up with the passion to see the world, then, I fell in love with Human Medicine. When I entered my Medicine study, I don’t want to forget my travel passion, so I sticked a World Map on my bedroom wall. My very bestfriend who know me very very well always sent me birthday card with text : “Hope your wishes to travel the world will come true”.

This year, I learned and experienced a lot, and here I write some of my best travel moments, because some memories are just too precious to be forgotten and worth to be written (typed?) down so it will last, hopefully, forever.

#Unforgettable View

It was a scenic view of rice fields, long and thick bamboo forest, surrounded by green hills, blue mountains and clear blue sky which took my heart away. A road to Batutumonga peak in Tana Toraja, the Land of the Dead located in South Sulawesi. The road is long and bumpy, but sitting on the motorbike for almost two hours with aching pain on your butt is nothing compared with the price…

Batutumonga Tanah Toraja South Sulawesi

#Unforgettable Experience

To sat inside a bamboo hut, ate pa’piong (traditional Torajan food, pork with spices cooked inside a bamboo), under the hut was living pigs walked around, waited to be slaughtered, meanwhile in front of me was living and anxious buffalos, stood there watching their friend’s bodies laid on the ground, cut and left only head and horns… Next to me was another huts, full with people in black clothing, the relatives of the man who died a year ago, mummified and kept in home until the family ready to held the Torajan Funeral Ceremony, and buried (or put inside the stone grave) after then.

Torajan Funeral Ceremony South Sulawesi

#Unforgettable Fun

Transformers The Ride, USS. Hell yeah it’s good to be kids again! To enjoy the ride, experienced those visual high-tech and felt as it were real, screamed, laughed, and tensed at the same time. Funny was, even on that moment, for a short second, I felt a serene and grateful feeling. A kind of feeling that I want to smile as wide as possible and say “oh thank you God for let me live and experience this fun”. Absurd maybe, but it happened to me. Or maybe it just the endorphine. :D

Transformer the Ride USS

#Unforgettable Challenge

You haven’t go to Ubud if you haven’t visit Tegalalang. Okay so I took the challenge (actually challenge myself), to bike to Tegalalang. Tegalalang rice fields is maybe one of the  most scenic beauty of Ubud, but it was not the yellow rice fields, nor the smile of the local female farmers which made it unforgettable, but the feeling from a accomplished mission. It was the sweat under the heat, the tiring muscle, the grunting and the self-motivatalk during the journey that made it unforgettable. How I smiled (and relieved) when I finally reached Tegalalang, how I beat the challenge, and how I survived from 10 km biking through some steep hills. It was the survival that made it unforgettable.

biking ubud tegalalang

#Unforgettable Sunrise

Sanur Beach, Bali, the first time I finally made an effort to woke up early to saw the sunrise. I am not a morning person, and after several times I failed, now I know that only persistence can beat laziness. Why choose to snooze if you can experience a view like this?

Sunrise Sanur Beach Bali

#Unforgettable Near Death Experience Feeling

I didn’t realize that I have Fear of Heights before. I am not afraid when I have to ride a roller coaster. Well, I am afraid a bit when I stand in high building. I freaked a little when I use a very very high escalator (like those in some of Singapore malls). I freaked a lot when I have to walked through an old wooden bridge that cross a big river at Maribaya Waterfalls. But I became crazier when I walked through the OCBC Skyway at Garden By The Bay, Singapore. Hell, it is 22-metres high from the ground, with the 128-metres steel-net floor and big wind blew from side to side, I was lucky my heart didn’t stop beating! Will.Not.Do.This.Again.(But.Happy.To.Did.That.Though)

Garden By The Bay OCBC Skyway Singapore

#Unforgettable Overland Journey

I love overland journey! It’s hard to choose between 8-hours journey sat inside the night bus from Makassar to Tana Toraja, full moon outside, mountains, hills, and Gunung Nona view in the midnight, chatted randomly with my travelmate and also one of my bestfriend, no luxurious or fake smile service nor comfortable seat, but I felt so peaceful and comfortable with myself, or 9-hours comfortable night bus ride with massage chair from Johor Baru to Penang, when I awaken by a glimpse of light from the morning sunrise and the beautiful view from Penang Bridge was the first thing I saw. Hmm…I choose both.

Penang Bridge Malaysia

#Unforgettable Food

Despite a lot of arguments toward which is the best Babi Guling or Suckling Pig in Bali, I choose Babi Guling Ibu Oka as the best for my tongue and tummy. A bit pricey, yes, but it worth the size, taste, and experience. I still dream the taste of crispyness and the thick fat under the fried pork skin. Damn, why now I feel like Hannibal? Read the full review and story about Babi Guling Ibu Oka here.

babi guling ibu oka ubud bali

#Unforgettable Drink

Black and strong Toraja Coffee. A sip of this thick black coffee is one of my favourite way to start a day.

toraja coffee

So, why travel? Because I want to collect memories and experiences, not things.

“See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories. Ask for no guarantees, ask for no security” – Ray Bradbury

Why You Should Go to Ora Beach, at Least Once

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Maldives-nya Indonesia. Konon itulah julukan yang disematkan pada pantai Ora yang terletak di Seram Utara, Maluku. Pantai Ora merupakan bagian dari The Ora Eco Resort. Berlokasi di Teluk Sawai dengan latar Pegunungan Manusela yang terkenal dengan keanekaragaman flora dan faunanya, Ora Eco Resort ini pun menggelitik rasa penasaran saya untuk mengunjunginya. Bagaimana tidak? Enam buah cottage kayu yang berdiri tepat di atas laut dengan pemandangan laut biru yang jernih dan koral berwarna-warni siap menyambut tamu yang bersedia merogoh kocek sebesar 700.000 rupiah per malamnya. Mahal memang, tapi pengalaman yang didapat pun sebanding dengan harganya. Untuk mengakali cost resort yang mahal, saya pun memilih untuk melakukan perjalanan secara mandiri alias tidak mengikuti tour yang disediakan oleh pihak resort ataupun agensi wisata.

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Untuk mencapai Ora Resort, saya mengambil penerbangan Jakarta – Ambon dengan menggunakan maskapai Batik Air, harga promo pada bulan April 2014 yaitu sebesar 800.000 rupiah one way. Sesampainya di Ambon, bisa menggunakan bus DAMRI (Rp. 30.000,-) untuk menuju pusat kota, dengan rute terakhir berhenti di Gong Perdamaian. Untuk mencapai pulau Seram, saya menggunakan kapal feri Express Cantika kelas ekonomi dengan harga tiket Rp. 90.000,- one way. Kapal feri ini berangkat dari Pelabuhan Tulehu, kira-kira 30 menit berkendara dari pusat kota Ambon. Perhatikan jam keberangkatan kapal feri menuju Pelabuhan Amahai di pulau Seram, yaitu jam 9 pagi dan 4 sore, khusus hari Minggu hanya beroperasi jam 11 siang. Di dalam kapal feri kelas ekonomi banyak pedagang yang berjualan snack dan air minum. Tempat duduk pun cukup nyaman meskipun saya memilih untuk naik ke atas dek dan menikmati pemandangan pulau-pulau kecil di sekitar pulau Ambon yang kami lewati. Perjalanan selama 2 jam pun tak terasa, ditemani oleh angin sepoi-sepoi, laut biru yang cantik dan rombongan lumba-lumba yang berlompatan di belakang kapal feri, saya pun sampai di Pelabuhan Amahai yang terletak di pinggiran kota Masohi, Seram Selatan.

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Mencapai pusat kota Masohi saya menggunakan angkot dengan tarif Rp.5000,-. Angkot berhenti tepat di depan Pasar Masohi. Di sinilah kita bisa mencari mobil-mobil carteran atau di sana diistilahkan “taxi” untuk menuju ke Desa Saleman, Seram Utara. Tarif untuk taxi ini bervariasi tergantung jumlah penumpang dan negosiasi, saat itu karena sedang low season, saya memperoleh harga 100.000 rupiah per orang, padahal taxi hanya diisi oleh dua orang saja. Ini salah satu keuntungan pergi di saat weekdays dan low season, meskipun saat itu saya harus menunggu berjam-jam untuk berangkat karena sang sopir masih menunggu calon penumpang. Perjalanan menuju Desa Saleman ditempuh selama 2,5 jam, menembus pegunungan dan hutan, dengan kondisi jalan yang agak offroad, berlumpur dan berkelok-kelok. Lelah memang, tapi panorama pegunungan Manusela yang hijau dan rimbun serasa membius dan membuat perjalanan tak membosankan, at least for me. Apalagi sesampainya di Desa Saleman, saya disambut oleh Teluk Sawai yang sangat indah, dengan airnya yang berwarna biru toska, sangat tenang hampir tak beriak, dengan latar hijaunya pegunungan Manusela yang berdiri megah, breathtaking and almost sureal…

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Dari Desa Saleman, untuk menyebrang ke Ora Resort saya harus menaiki speedboat dengan tarif Rp. 150.000,- selama kurang lebih 10 menit. Dari kejauhan sudah tampak cottage-cottage kayu yang menjadi andalan Ora Resort, dengan pantai pribadinya yang landai dan berpasir putih. Resort ini jauh dari kesan luxurious. Jembatan kayu dan rumah-rumah beratapkan rumbia yang sederhana menyambut kedatangan saya. Suasananya begitu alami dan natural, sesuai dengan tema Eco Resort yang diutamakan oleh Alvin, sang pengelola.

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Tepat berada di atas laut, saya hanya bisa tercengang ketika menyadari halaman depan dan belakang cottage yang akan saya tiduri malam itu bukan tanah, bukan rumput, bukan semen, melainkan laut. Ya, kalau mengutip nyanyian Syahrini, “maju cantik laut, mundur cantik laut”! Dari teras cottage sudah tampak hamparan koral warna-warni dan berbagai jenis ikan dan bahkan penyu, berenang hilir mudik ke sana ke mari. Ya, penyu! It was like a dream. Snorkeling time!

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Kondisi koral di Ora sendiri masih lumayan bagus, meskipun di muka cottage banyak koral-koral yang sudah rusak, saya duga karena banyak tamu yang melompat langsung dari teras cottage dan berakhir mematahkan koral-koral, hiks. Jangan ditiru ya kawan… Visibility clear, kurang lebih sampai lima meter, koral didominasi oleh jenis hard coral, dan berbagai jenis ikan dan penyu. Overall snorkeling di Ora lumayan recommended, meskipun nothing special kecuali suasana eksklusif dari resort itu sendiri, karena jumlah pengunjung yang masih sedikit, terutama saat weekdays (saat itu hanya ada empat orang tamu, termasuk saya dan seorang teman saya) dan low season. Saran saya hindari saat weekend karena apabila resort ini ramai pengunjung maka akan terasa kurang nyaman. Idealnya sih kunjungi resort ini untuk honeymoon, hehe…

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So, masih mikir dua kali untuk mengunjungi Ora Resort?
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Happy traveling, happy life~

My New Workplace : Aru Islands

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Lorang village, Aru Islands, Moluccas, Indonesia

It’s been a long time I haven’t been updating my blog, and this is why : currently I’m working at Aru Islands, Kepulauan Aru, located at the southeastern part of Indonesia, part of the famous Moluccas. Aru Islands is not really popular among Indonesian. To be honest, I knew about Aru Islands only about several months before I started working here. I work as a medical doctor at Lorang Village, a remote village in the middle of Aru Islands where there is no electricity, no phone signal, and no clean water available. At the village live about 280 indigenous people, mostly fisherman, farmer and hunter.

Lorang is really a beautiful place to live. Surrounded by Mangrove Forests and deep blue sea, under clear blue sky and starry nights…with no electricity and noise pollution, it’s only me and the sound of nature. Birds chirping, bugs singing and frogs shouting all day long. The village is famous for its mangrove crabs with enormous size, invariable species of cuckatoos, and, the Bird of Paradise, or “Cendrawasih” in our language.

Everyday is a whole new experiences. I ate a different kind of fishes, crabs, oysters, deer, even boar. I experience new cultures, how Mollucan people live, how they talk, how they laugh, how they dance and party, how and what they think about life and love. And this is how I will continue to live for the next one and a half year. :)

My Dream.

My ultimate dream is to travel the world. And not by group tour. But to live in several different places for quite a long time. To know new cultures. To blend with them. Maybe some couple months in Siberia, then China, then Italy, and so on. I want my life to be a long life learning. And everyday is a chance to learning something new. Everyday is different and full of mystery.

I want my life unexpected. I want my life full of knowledge and adventures. I want to cross the Great Wall, climb (if it possible) Grand Canyon, take a visit to Niagara Falls, swimming with Whale Sharks. I want my life to full of possibilities. And flexibility. I don’t want to stick in the office for eight hours a day, doing paperwork and the only view I can see is skyscrapers and missed the sunset, stuck at the traffic instead. I want my life to be free. Free to choose and free to do what I want to do. Even if maybe it is a stupid thing or false thing to do, i want to do it anyway, because nothing is truly right or wrong, it’s only merely a new experience to learn and live with.

I want to see a lot and experience a lot, not only read it from books or watch it from TV. I want to see the real view of nature, of animals, of traditional cultures, taste real foreign food, swim in the real sea or lake or lagoon, fly in the real hot balloon air. I want to meet real foreigners and talk to them, if possible, learn their languages, and exchange knowledge as much as possible. I want to live my life like that. I want to be that kind of person.

So, where should I start?

-random writing in the middle of the night-

Turnamen Foto Perjalanan Ronde 38 : Membaca di Stasiun Kereta Api Nongkhai

Nongkhai Bangkok Train

Sebagai penyuka perjalanan darat alias overland, kereta api merupakan salah satu moda transportasi favorit saya, jika dibandingkan dengan bus atau mobil. Suara “gejes-gejes” yang menemani sepanjang perjalanan merupakan salah satu alasan yang membuat saya jatuh hati dengan kereta api. Entah kenapa suara “gejes-gejes” itu bagaikan musik yang bisa membuat hati ini adem. Nyes. Selain karena “gejes-gejes”-nya, traveling dengan kereta api memungkinkan saya untuk menikmati pemandangan dengan cara yang berbeda. Perjalanan yang lebih “slow” dengan rute yang seringkali melewati tempat-tempat dengan pemandangan cantik membuat saya selalu berusaha memprioritaskan perjalanan overland dengan kereta api.

Salah satu stasiun kereta api yang berkesan bagi saya yaitu Stasiun Kereta Api Nongkhai di Thailand. Nongkhai merupakan kota kecil di perbatasan Thailand-Laos. Untuk menuju Nongkhai dari Laos, bisa menggunakan bus dari Vientiane yang akan melewati Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge. Dari Nongkhai kita bisa menggunakan sleeper train untuk menuju Bangkok. sleeper train kelas dua pun menurut saya sudah sangat nyaman dan bersih. Karena saat itu saya kehabisan tiket sleeper train dengan fan, maka saya terpaksa menggunakan sleeper train dengan AC seharga 688 THB. Harga yang tidak terlalu mahal untuk perjalanan selama 12 jam, karena dengan sleeper train maka saya bisa menghemat biaya penginapan untuk satu malam. Ini salah satu metode traveling favorit saya, karena jujur, saya tidak terlalu suka mengeluarkan uang untuk penginapan. Kalau bisa tidur sambil berpindah tempat, kenapa tidak? Hehe…

Nongkhai Station Thailand

Stasiun Nongkhai lokasinya cukup jauh dari Terminal Bus Nongkhai, tempat seluruh penumpang bus dari Vientiane diturunkan. Saran saya naiklah tuktuk, karena apabila berjalan kaki seperti saya (What a mistake! But glad that I did it though) maka akan memakan waktu satu jam. Bukan masalah jarak melainkan masalah cuaca yang panas, terik dan menyengat, yang membuat perjalanan dari terminal ke stasiun saat itu begitu menguras tenaga. Sungguh hati ini girang tak terkira ketika akhirnya berhasil mencapai Stasiun Nongkhai, meskipun tampang sudah amburadul dan penuh debu jalanan.

Pemandangan unik menyambut saya di depan stasiun. Gerbong-gerbong lokomotif berwarna ungu cerah di tengah-tengah rimbunnya tanaman hijau tampak bagaikan oase di tengah stasiun yang gersang. Jelas, gerbong-gerbong ini sudah pensiun dari tugasnya mengangkut penumpang. Pada plang di depan gerbong-gerbong tersebut saya membaca : “Railway Public Library Nongkhai Province”. Wah. Perpustakaan di stasiun! How unusual! Memasuki area perpustakaan mini tersebut, saya cukup terkesan karena selain disediakan kursi-kursi kayu panjang (yang dengan segera menjadi lapak saya untuk tiduran), majalan-majalah (kebanyakan dalam bahasa Thailand), di sana juga disediakan Wifi yang sangat kencang. Yipie!! #fakirwifi. Sayang gerbongnya saat itu sedang ditutup, sehingga saya tidak bisa masuk ke dalam gerbong hanya di area “taman”nya saja. But still, it was fun! I wish stasiun-stasiun di Indonesia juga bisa menyediakan educational spot seperti ini…

Membaca di stasiun. Why not?

Membaca di stasiun. Why not?

Apakah kamu penyuka perjalanan darat juga seperti saya? Coba lihat stasiun-stasiun dan terminal-terminal favorit para traveler di Turnamen Foto Perjalanan :)

Weekly Photo Challenge : Community

Khoo Khongsi Clan’s name plates of family inherited

Khoo Khongsi Clan’s name plates of family inherited

The first words occured in my mind when I read about this weekly photo challenge theme by Daily Post is : “Chinese Clan”.

Based on Oxford Dictionary, community means :

  1. a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common
  2. the condition of sharing or having certain attitudes and interests in common
  3. Ecology a group of interdependent plants or animals growing or living together in natural conditions or occupying a specified habitat

Clan, however, preceded more centralized forms of community, a close-knit group of interrelated families.  A Chinese clan is a patrilineal and patrilocal group of related Chinese people with a common surname (e.g. Lie, Hoo, Tan, Khoo, etc.) sharing a common ancestor and, often, also an ancestral home.

Well, China has the biggest population on Earth (more than 1,3 billion!), and we can find Chinatown in many places outside China. Although my anchestors are from China, and I also have a Chinese name, but the thought about Chinese clan house was never occured to me before (I am a failed Chinese!! Forgive me Grandmother! :p), until I visited Khoo Kongsi Clan House in Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia.

The Khoo Kongsi clan forefathers came from Sin Kang village in Hokkien province, South China. They emigrated from there to Penang and built Khoo Kongsi clanhouse for members of the Khoo family in 1851. The clan temple was built in 1906 when the Khoo clan was at the peak of wealth and reached the great status and superiority in Penang society. The temple itself is a form of grandeur art, with the statues, paintings, carved pillars in shiny gold colours.

 

The Khoo Kongsi is known as the most majestic Chinese clan house in South East Asia. The clan, Khoo Kongsi clan, together with Cheah, Yeoh, Lim and Tan Kongsi, were known as the Five Big Clans, formed the backbone of the Hokkien community in early Penang. The Khoos were among the wealthy Straits Chinese traders of 17th century of Malacca and early Penang.

 

Today, Khoo Kongsi is a historic site, due to its location in the UNESCO World Heritage Site area of George Town. I wonder how they used to live in this clan house, must be very interesting, to live together in one clan community. And the fact that the house is still there and well preserved after more than 150 years proves that blood is thicker than water.