Milan, Italy (in hindsight?)

It’s been over two months since I moved to Milan, Italy and still no pictures of this town. Strange, huh? Yeah, I’ve been busy with school and stuff. But here you go, all the pictures I took while I wandered around the city so far. There are Duomo di Milano, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, San Siro/Giuseppe Meazza Stadium, Navigli, and an afternoon sky from the windows of my apartment. I have some more pictures but sadly I don’t know where I placed them *sigh. The mix of 12th century buildings and behaviors of 21st century human beings is just around the corner. I especially like that I can get to Duomo di Milano in 15 minutes and the fact that a lot of people still use Duomo as a meeting point even after over 800 years since it was built. So far, I find this city quite attractive.

D

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Danang, Hoi An & Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

Okay, I admit I have been very lazy about posting my travel trip notes. It’s just that after my trip to Vietnam, everything was go go go in terms of my departure to Italy. So here it goes, my Vietnam travel pictures. So, my Vietnam trip was a funny story. It started after I arrived home from my Burma trip. I was lounging on the living room chair or something when my mom said, “Hey Dina, don’t you want to fly to your father? He’s in Vietnam right now”. I was pretty taken aback by her comment. But then not long after, I had a round trip ticket Jakarta-Ho Chi Minh City-Jakarta. Voila, Vietnam, I’m coming!

The idea was to go there visiting my father in Da Nang in central Vietnam and then went south again to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) by myself, because my father would fly straight to Jakarta after he finished his business trip in Da Nang. Da Nang is an industrial town by the sea. It is pretty cool to walk there at night. While we were in Da Nang, my father and I visited Hoi An, too. It is an old pretty town and just about 30 minutes by car from Da Nang. After my father left Vietnam, I continued my travel alone to Saigon and met new people along the way which was nice. I fell in love with Saigon. I think I’m going to visit Vietnam again some time for Saigon and northern Vietnam, like Ha Noi and Ha Long.

I love traveling with my father. We share pretty much the same interests and have a pretty similar nature of being reserved and quiet. Also, my father and I love to walk. We walked a lot in our visit to Da Nang and Hoi An. Besides that, I also love traveling alone. I met people from many different countries and also met fellow women solo travelers. It was cool.

D

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Milano so far

Hello,

I haven’t written for a while. Well, what can I say. It might sound cliche, but the truth is Life gets in the way. Sometimes you just have to let Life gets in your way, you know. Okay, so, where to start?

I’ve been in Milan, Italy for almost two months. Currently I live in a flat about 10 minutes by bus from my campus. My landlord is a good guy and the people I live with are such nice persons. I started school about four weeks ago and my classes are getting busier day by day. I have found some great friends here and feel happy about it. Things have fallen into place, more or less.

Today I went to see a friend for breakfast at 9ish to talk about our group project for one of our classes. What was supposed to be an hour or two meeting turned out to be an all-day work. But in between, I headed out to a sushi place with some friends. It was an all you can eat sushi for a very reasonable price (even in Indonesian currency!). We ate a damn lot. We came back to the campus with full tummies in the late afternoon. Then we worked for a while in our group project and it was time for me to have an Italian lesson for two hours. I made friends with two kids from my class, which was nice. They were very nice and funny. It is always nice to make new friends, after all. I went home at 8ish then had a cute chat with some of my flatmates. I offered them the broccoli soup I made yesterday and they loved it! One of them even asked for the recipe. I also cleaned up my room and took a shower this evening. In conclusion, today is such a good day.

I have a lot of assignment to do though, seriously. I don’t even know how I can handle these *laughing in despair.

D

Vietnam Trip

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I am stranded in Changi again until 6.40 PM local time today when I will have a flight to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam. Those are the only things I bring along in this solo 10-days trip: one backpack and one purse. I left my backpack at the luggage station so I don’t have to carry it around with me all the time. It’s pretty heavy. I can’t wait until I get to Vietnam and explore places!

D

Harapan Island, Kepulauan Seribu, Jakarta, Indonesia

I went there in September 2013. I found a weekend gateaway package (I know, I know. My life actually consisted of weekend getaways back then) for a very cheap price, I think it was IDR 285k per person or something. Harapan Island is located about 4 hours by boat from Muara Angke harbor. It is definitely farther away off shore Jakarta than Tidung. I went there with friends. We went to many islands around Harapan: Dolphin, Gusung, Perak, Bulat, Macan, and also Matahari Island. We tried out local street food at night in the nearby food center, too. We had delicious grilled corns and squids. It was a lot of fun! I didn’t take that many pictures because I was busy swimming and snorkeling. My skin got so tanned after I got back (Yeah, I didn’t think I could get more tanned either. But, I did. Not necessarily a bad thing, though. I think tanned skin is sexy). The photos are a bit hazy but oh well!

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New York City, New York, USA

I went to the States for three weeks (more or less) in August 2013. I went to New York City, Upstate New York, and my host town in Pennsylvania. I’m going to divide my USA trip into three parts, one for each place I went to. I might add one or two other parts but I’ll decide about it later. Enjoy the post!

I hadn’t been in USA for six years. SIX FREAKING YEARS! My gosh, you have no idea how much I missed the States! When I was there six years ago, I went pretty much everywhere from Chicago to Florida so last summer I didn’t plan to roam around the United States. My plan was to have quality time with my host family and relax. But since my plane arrived at JFK International Airport, I thought I’d take a look around the Big Apple. My host dad picked me up from JFK and we stayed in Brooklyn for three days. This was my second time going to New York City (or, as New Yorkers call it, the City). Still amazed me every time. We went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim museum, the Jewish museum, Central Park (or the Park, as New Yorkers call it), the Brooklyn Bridge (or the Bridge, as Brooklyn people call it), and a few local restaurants.

I enjoyed walking around Manhattan and taking subway by myself. At one point, when I was waiting for a train in a subway station, a girl approached and asked me for direction. She thought I was a New Yorker! Not going to lie, I’m pretty smug about it still. Anyway, I want to confirm about the so-called unfriendly New Yorkers. When I walked around NYC by myself, I asked people for direction and whatnot a lot. By a lot I mean more than three times. Fortunately for me, people kindly gave feedback and I was able to get to my destinations. A few tips about getting around in NYC: 1. Don’t bring out big map. Put your destination names and addresses on a journal 2. Always ask a female 3. When asking for directions, be confident with your English even though you might think your English sucks. Believe me, those three work wonder. Exhibit A: Me.

Ah, New York. I will always miss you when we’re away from each other!

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Upstate New York, New York, USA

This was the first time I went to Upstate New York. Upstate New York consisted of little villages and towns in the North part of New York State. The idea was that to give me a tour around the campus and areas where my host parents went to college. My host mom passed away three years ago, so it was just my host dad and I who went there. We went to Bard College campus in Annandale-on-Hudson. Bard is a private liberal arts college that has excellent reputations all around. That was my host parents’ alma mater. What a beautiful, beautiful place to study! It was located by the Hudson river with woods surrounding it. After walking around the dazzling Bard campus, we hung out in Red Hook and Rhinebeck. What I liked the most about Upstate New York was the scenery and pretty little villages full of pretty little houses and shops. We had a chance to watch a movie in an independent movie theater called Upstate Film in Rhinebeck. I watched “The Way Way Back” while my host dad watched a Spanish film called “I’m So Excited!”. I loved The Way Way Back. I think I might watch it again at some point.

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Sawarna, Banten, West Java, Indonesia

Sawarna village is located in the south coast of Banten, West Java. Facing the Hindia Ocean, it’s impossible for people to swim on the beach because the waves are gigantic (it can go up to 5 m or more at times). The reefs are big and sharp, too. Even though swimming is mostly prohibited, the views are so pretty you can hardly look away from it.

I went to Sawarna in June 2013. This was one of those impulsive and not-thoroughly-planned trips I made. I saw a considerably priced weekend gateaway package on the internet and since none of my friends were willing to go (financial matter, etc, etc) I decided to just go for it. Turned out, it was fun and refreshing! I met a bunch of ladies who went in the same tour package as I was and it was just a very girlish weekend! The thing about traveling on your own was, even though you went with a tour, there was nothing to hold you back. When I wanted to know more about the area we walked through, I just roamed closely around the tour guide; when I wanted to socialize, I talked with the girls and had a good laugh; when I wanted to enjoy myself, I walked by my own pace and just absorbed things. It was great.

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Yogyakarta, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

I went there with a friend in May 2013, particularly to see the Vesak ceremony held in Borobudur temple. We also ended up going around museums and whatnot. We went to Sonobudoyo Museum, Monjali (Monumen Jogja Kembali), Affandi Museum, and the Tamansari complex. We also went to Alun-alun Selatan and tried the game in which we had to walk pass the two big trees with eyes blindfolded. We had a chance to watch a traditional Javanese puppet show over at Sonobudoyo Museum at night time, all thanks to a pedicab driver who told us about the show like two hours before it started. Yogyakarta was magical! I’d love to go there again and just explore things. Since there were so many interesting things to see, I’m going to divide this particular trip into two posts: the going about town and the Vesak ceremony. Enjoy!

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Borobudur Temple, Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia

A friend of mine and I went here during the Vesak ceremony 2557 or Vesak 2013. Vesak is a Buddhist holy day celebrating three important dates: the born day, the enlightenment day, and the passing away of Siddharta Gautama (Buddha). We went straight from Tamansari complex to Mendut temple by motorcycle cab (took us IDR 50,000). Then from Mendut temple we walked to Borobudur temple like the celebrating Buddhists did (about 3 km, more or less). Although the ceremony itself was a bit chaotic and we didn’t see the flying lanterns ritual, it was still worth seeing. The costumes, the festivities, the crowd. I was humbled once again by diversity. Enjoy the photos!

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Tidung Island, Kepulauan Seribu, Jakarta, Indonesia

I got inspired by a travel blog I read yesterday. So, I decided to put pictures I took from my travels from the past few years. These ones were taken in Tidung Island, Kepulauan Seribu. We went there in March 2013. Reaching Tidung took about 3 hours from Muara Angke harbor. The island was divided into two smaller islands: Tidung Besar (Big Tidung) and Tidung Kecil (Little Tidung) connected by a bridge called Jembatan Cinta (The Bridge of Love. Yeah, yeah, yeah. As cheesy as it might sound. Whatever, though!). We also went to several other neighbor islands to play in the water and snorkel. We watched sunrise and sunset, some of us tried the water sports available, we biked, ate a lot of seafood. It was fun! I found a tour that gave a discount fare through a website, so we only had to pay IDR 295,000 or so for the whole package. Pretty sweet bargain for a sunny weekend getaway off shore the busy bee Jakarta!

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The Most Remarkable Thing From My Exchange Year

I was asked to write about the thing that is most remarkable from my exchange year in the USA in less than 400 words last night. So here it is. I added some pictures too here. All these pictures taken when I walked up the hill near next to my host family’s home in the USA. Pretty, huh? It’s such a shame for me to realize that nature is cool when I was abroad, while in fact I live in Indonesia, a country with the most enchanting scenery in the world. But, it’s never too late for anything, right? So, enjoy!

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Hello, my name is Dina. I was selected in the YES program for the year 2006-2007. In my exchange year in the USA, I  lived in Williamsport, the state of Pennsylvania.  Williamsport is a small town consists of more or less 35,000 people. The thing that amazed me the most when I was in the USA was the fact that USA was not only about all those movie stars with their big shiny cars. I was born and raised in Jakarta, with its population of 17 millions people or more. I am used to malls and all those artificial things since I was a little girl, although I haven’t been very fond of them. While in my exchange year in the USA, I lived in relatively smaller town in mountainous area, with one or two deers occasionally crossed the road near my host family’s home. I lived side by side with nature. I took a walk in the woods, went to parks, went swimming in the creek, walked up hills, and even collected strawberries and pumpkins right from the barns. All those I did when I was living in America. I don’t know what people have in their minds when they hear the word “USA”. For me, what I have in mind would be those captivating sceneries on the northeast part of Pennsylvania, where I spent 11 months in a country I never set foot in before but has now become a significant part of me.

D

Going Solo

Akhirnya gue traveling sendiri juga! Gue sempet aneh karena dibolehin sama bokap nyokap. Tapi, setelah dipikir-pikir, dulu gue dilepas gitu aja setahun di Amerika nggak kenapa-kenapa, sih. Mungkin itu jadi salah satu faktor juga kenapa bokap nyokap ngebolehin gue jalan sendiri ke Singapur. I mean, dibanding Amerika Serikat, Singapur is like next door. Dan jadilah gue ke Singapur sendirian. Di Terminal 3 Bandara Soekarno-Hatta gue dilepas begitu aja oleh nyokap dan adek gue. Check in sendiri, melalui imigrasi sendiri, menunggu pesawat sendiri, masuk pesawat sendiri, yah pokoknya serba sendiri lah. Parahnya lagi, Blackberry gue nggak bisa dipake dong pas nyampe di Singapur hahaha. Padahal gue udah bayar paket buat ke luar negeri, loh. Sialan emang, nih. Nanti gue tanyain ah ke Grapari. Mumpung deket kosan.

So, anyway. Gue bener-bener sendirian selama di bandara, baik di Soetta maupun Changi. Rasanya apa ya, reflektif banget hahaha. Bosen juga, sih. Tapi gue suka interaksi orang-orang di bandara. Kayak, pas gue mau beli kopi dari coffee maker di ruang tunggu terminal 3, gue akhirnya beli kopi ke mbak-mbak yang kelebihan masukin uang. Terus juga pas di pesawat mau ke Changi, ada bapak yang anaknya nangis nggak karuan sampai pesawatnya take off. Lalu ibu-ibu yang duduk di sebelah gue ngasih gue permen untuk diberikan ke bapak itu, supaya bapak itu ngasih ke anaknya, dan anaknya diam. Gue lalu memberikan permen itu ke orang yang duduknya di belakang bapak itu. Ketika gue balik dari Singapur, gue harus ngecharge handphone gue dulu sehingga gue jadi ngobrol-ngobrol sama ibu yang sedang duduk dan menunggu anaknya keluar dari terminal kedatangan. Dan juga obrolan singkat dengan petugas imigrasi. Yah, pokoknya hal-hal khas bandara seperti itu lah.  Gue sangat suka. Karena, apa yah, untuk sesaat, cerita kami saling bersilangan di tempat persinggahan ini, untuk kemudian kami kembali ke kehidupan kami masing-masing. Begitulah.

Singapur menyenangkan. Panas, seperti di Ancol. Tapi sangat rapi dan modern. Oh iya, selama di Singapur gue nggak sendiri. Gue nginep di tempat temen SMA gue, Agita Sesara. Uh, gue super dimanja deh pokoknya. Pas di Changi dijemput Agita, jalan-jalan ditemani Agita, tinggal di dorm Agita. Ah, thank you so so so so much for your hospitality and company! :* Selama di Singapur gue menginap di kamar Agita di dorm Nanyang Technology University (NTU). Sedikit banyak gue jadi belajar tentang kehidupan anak-anak perantauan yang tinggal di luar negeri. Gue ketemu beberapa teman SMA yang sekarang kuliah di NTU juga kayak Tony, Hafiy, dan Egi. Yah, seru lah. Malam pertama gue makan malem pancakes di kamar temennya Agita, si Renung. Malam kedua abis Laneway juga makan malam (yang super telat) di situ bareng sama Egi dan Hafiy. Wah, ini terima kasih sebesar-besarnya loh sudah memperbolehkan gue crash in dan ikut makan-makan hehe.

Apa lagi, yah. Gue banyak ke museum, sih. Kayaknya gue emang museum geek, deh. Pas di Amerika dulu juga kalau ke luar kota kerjaannya ke museum. Museum of art lah, museum of contemporary art lah, apa lah. Kalau pas ke Singapur kemarin gue ke tiga museum: Red Dot Design Museum, Singapore Art Museum, sama ArtScience Museum. Semuanya menarik, tapi yang paling gue suka secara exhibition-nya itu yang pertama Red Dot, kedua ArtScience, dan ketiga SAM. Gue emang lebih tertarik sama hal-hal kontemporer sih ketimbang klasik hehe. Tapi, gue emang nggak tahan banget kalau ke luar negeri cuma nggak masuk ke design atau art museum. Rasanya ada yang kurang. Yang uber cool sih pas ke ArtScience Museum di Marina Bay Sands. Kan ada pameran 100 Tahun Titanic gitu. Dapet tiket yang bentuknya replika tiket masuk Titanic, dong! Dan di belakangnya ada nama penumpangnya, yang nyata dan memang penumpang Titanic 100 tahun lalu! Lucu deh. Di dalam area display ada nama orang-orang yang selamat dan meninggal. Punya gue termasuk nama orang yang selamat. Ceritanya dia penyanyi di klub malam Paris dan Belgia gitu, deh. Hahaha. Super glamor.

Laneway-nya sendiri menurut gue emang sebagaimana festival musik seharusnya, sih. Gue suka sensasi di mana badan lo udah super capek, keringet nyampur baur sama orang-orang yang nggak lo kenal, mata udah kriyep-kriyep karena kecapekan, tapi lo tetap enjoy karena di depan lo ada band atau artis yang lo kagumi. Gue juga suka sensasi di mana lo dan orang-orang asing di sekitar lo terhipnotis oleh musik yang sama, dan menyanyikan lirik lagu yang sama berbarengan pula. Rasanya sangat magical. Itu salah satu alasan utama gue suka pergi ke konser. Gue suka banget nonton gig. Rasanya ketika lo nonton langsung si artis atau band itu, lo jadi mengerti kenapa lo bisa sampai suka sama mereka, dan kemudian lo akan semakin menyukai mereka dan musiknya. Sensasi mengetahui bahwa ada beratus-ratus orang yang sama-sama menghargai musik yang lo suka juga sangat rewarding. Maklum, gue suka musik yang mungkin di telinga kebanyakan orang dibilang aneh hehehe. Ah, akhirnya ada satu festival musik yang gue coret dari list music-festivals-to-see gue! 🙂

Apa yah. Yah menurut gue traveling memang merupakan salah satu cara paling baik untuk menepi sebentar dari hidup. Kalau selama ini lo ngerasa kayak sedang menjalankan sebuah role dalam sebuah film, traveling itu seperti duduk sebentar di pinggiran sambil bersantai dan melihat orang lain melakukan role-nya. Rasanya menyenangkan. Kayak mengambil napas panjang waktu di pegunungan, lalu dihembuskan lagi.

Nabung lagi ah untuk suatu perjalanan di masa depan hehe.

By the way, 30 Hari Menulis Surat Cinta gue gagal total! Haha!

D

Yogyakarta dan Semarang

last week i had a study tour then an extended trip after. the study tour was in yogyakarta and the extended trip was in semarang. the study tour was hectic, restless, loud, but nonetheless fun. the extended trip was somehow reflective and solemn. it felt great to be away from bandung for a while. things were pretty hectic when i left bandung, with all the final year’s assignments and whatnot.

now i come back here and i become pretty well collected. plus, yesterday i impulsively bought a couple of things at the bodyshop! a bottle of room fragrance (vanilla and tonka bean) and a can of shea body butter. i can’t resist the room fragrance. the packaging is so elegant and nice-looking. and the body butter, well, i need it for my oh-so-dry skin. so, yeah. now my entire room smells very good and relaxing 🙂 i have just finished listening to rivers cuomo’s alone: home recording. pretty wild stuff he made here. very quirky and interesting, extremely different from what he does with weezer.

here are some pictures i took when i was traveling. enjoy the weekend, everyone! 🙂

D

windowsthe malioboro streetsome furniturethe little brotherthe garden of ullen sentaluthe train museuminside the train