Holiday Recap

As usual the girls are already on their school holiday while their parents are still busy fulfilling all works before end of year. Since our domestic helper is also taking leaves and went back to her hometown so the girls are with me here and there, to the workplace, the meeting, the teaching, the dating with friends and closed by malls to calm them down.

Hubby's cousin had an engagement a couple weeks ago in Bandung. I know Bandung in school recess  would be unbearable with the traffic and the crowd thus finally I decided to stay in Mason Pine Hotel at Kota Baru Parahyangan and stayed away from Dago and Lembang hustle bustle. 

I guessed I made a right decision since the hotel turned out to be awesome. The girls love the atmosphere and their favorite part is the olympic size swimming pool.  Zea is really into swimming now finally ...after she successfully took swimming lesson.

And other activity that we did yesterday was visiting Amped Trampoline Park in Kelapa Gading. I've been heard about this place quite sometime and finally had a chance to visit it. The girls were also super excited. I bought the one-hour ticket and promised the girls that they could extend the hour if they're still strong enough. However after one hour, the girls said it's ENOUGH. Jumping on trampoline for one hour non-stop turns out to be EXHAUSTING. 

Still...the girls said that they love the trampoline and would love to go back there soon. Hear...hear...let's do it again the future. Now, mom just wants to lay down and read good books:)

Winter in Tokyo 2016

Tokyo in winter. A well-maintained city. Friendly people everywhere even the language barrier is not an issue anymore. The warm feeling in the cold weather. Feeling safe to be all alone, wandering around at night and getting ready to get lost in translation. Nothing to worry about since there's always someone who easily helped you wholeheartedly.

ANELLO Backpacks are EVERYWHERE (with affordable price)
Just realized that  it's really nice to explore a country with very low criminal rate. I remembered my trip to Europe last March, I got lots of warning about the pickpockets (especially in the city which are full of tourists such as Paris and Rome), and this criminal issue really made me tired. Tired of always staying alert. Tired of worries and all.

Souvenir Shop at Asakusa Temple area
The Beloved Hachiko
But Tokyo is totally different. It does steal my heart. No wonder if it's considered as one of the safest cities for solo female traveler.

Hakone, View  from the Cable Car
I left this city with a promise that...I shall return.

Misteri Soliter

Title: The Solitaire Mystery
Indonesian Title: Misteri Soliter (Filsafat dalam Setumpuk Kartu Remi)
Author: Jostein Gaarder
Translator:Utti Setiawati
Publisher: Penerbit Mizan
January 2016
484 pages
Saranku untuk semua orang yang berusaha menemukan jati diri adalah: tetaplah tinggal di tempatmu sekarang. Kalau tidak kau dalam bahaya besar kehilangan dirimu selamanya.

--Misteri Soliter, Jostein Gaarder
Just realized that t's almost end of November and not even one post written down this month??? #tutupmuka. because I am too busy with my account in social media. In fact I have been a silence reader for quite some time particularly now when lots of people suddenly feel that they're having the best knowledge in politics and religion #kokcurcol?  

Actually I got a lot of things in my mind. I still read books, watch movies, visit some places, try new tea, and have some other stuffs to share but every time I arrived home, suddenly the urge to write was gone. I just wanted to lay down, took some rest, chit-chatting with the girls, and that's it. Perhaps I am already too tired with the traffic jam and the works deadline so home is associated as a place to rest while opening a laptop seems like starting a new work #neverendingexcuse. While the main factor I guess is just simply the OLD age #tumbenjujur.   

Back to the book, as usual Jostein Gaarder will take us on an awesome adventure with a 12-year-old-boy, Hans Thomas and his father who are on a journey around Europe to find Hans' mother. Hans' mother left him when Hans was only four years old. Along the way, Hans and his father experience  many adventures and much self-discovery.

Only Jostein might turn a philosophy into a very interesting topic. Instead of getting bored or confused, you just feel the excitement in learning about life and all. As usual Jostein will leave his readers with much to think about.
"Jadi Ayah percaya pada Tuhan?"
"Aku tidak bilang begitu. Sebenarnya yang kukatakan adalah, Tuhan sedang menertawakan kita karena kita tidak percaya pada-Nya." 

We are Young, We are Strong & We Love Indonesia

Another routine program at my girls' school is Bulan Bahasa. During 26-28 October, it's going to be several activities to commemorate the Youth Pledge, such as donating books, school performances (reading poem, writing, dancing, choir, etc), and the final program was celebrated on 28 October with a beautiful parade since all students were asked to wear traditional costumes from all provinces in Indonesia and prepared then ate the traditional food. 

Credit to: Mbak Is
Zea as a 4th grader wore Dayak's costume from Kalimantan while Najla and all 6th graders performed all things related to Sulawesi culture.

Credit to: Mbak Ira
Credit to: Mbak Maya
There it went I turned to be a very hectic (and fussy) mother on that Friday morning. I had to prepare these two girls stuffs nevertheless when I watched their performances and saw their super happy faces, well...everything's paid off. Mom felt nothing but a full heart:)

The Abundance

Title: The Abundance
Author: Amit Majmudar
Metropolitan Books New York
First Edition 2013
259 pages

Another book from Big Bad Wolf  at ICE. A hard cover book with a fancy cover and a price of only Rp 70,000 easily captured my heart.

A story of Indian family who lives in US. The mother suffers from terminal illness and at first she wants to keep it for herself however finally her two adult children find out and they try to spend their mother last days with things that she loves such as cooking Indian food.

I read many positive reviews about this book written by Amit Majmudar. Yet, I don't know I just couldn't finish this book. It is very slow moving that I lost interest before I got halfway through. I tried my best therefore I basically love the characters but I felt so bored with the story even I couldn't remember the page that I just read. I don't care enough to know what will happen to them. 

I guess I need a page-turner book. Tired with all the drama in the books I bought at Big Bad Wolf (just realized that most of the books I bought telling about Indian family).

Well...perhaps it's just an excuse for me to buy new books...hahaha... 

The Eternal Wonder

Title: The Eternal Wonder
Author: Pearl S. Buck
Indonesian Title: Pencarian yang Hakiki
Translator: Lanny Murtihardjana
Publisher: PT Gramedia Pustaka Utama, 2016
382 pages

I remember I read The Good Earth, the most famous literature written by Pearl S. Buck back in 1990s. This compassionate portrait of peasants in China that was published in 1931  haunting me and made me curious about Chinese's culture, the life, and everything there. Pearl S. Buck had her own way in delivering her vivid story, since she herself lived in China for a long time following her parents who worked as Presbyterian Missionaries, and made readers wanted to read her works more. She won the Pulitzer prize in 1932 for The Good Earth and she's the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1938.

I read almost all her works. When I heard that a hand-written manuscript was discovered on January 2013, forty years after her death, I just couldn't wait to read it. The manuscript was found in a storage unit in Texas and finally returned to the Buck family. No body knew how on earth this manuscript could end up in Texas yet Pearl's son, Edgar Walsh decided to have the novel published even though his mother died before she was able to revise it.  Pearl was dead of cancer in 1973.

The Eternal Wonder is a story of a young guy, Randolph "Rann" Colfax, an extraordinary gifted young man whose search for meaning and purpose of life leads him to New York, England, Paris and a mission patrolling in Korea that will change his life forever.   

In his search of the real meaning of life, he meets Stephanie Kung who lives in Paris with her Chinese father. Stephanie's mother is an American woman who left her since she was a small girl. Rann and Stephanie both are young people who have lots of questions about life and other things. Life brings destinies to them and they have to accept it, no matter what.

Not Pearl S. Buck at her best but it is still beautiful. Recommended. If you never read Pearl S. Buck's work before, this one is easy to enjoy.

More on Pearl S. Buck, check HERE


Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (2016)

Title: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Directed by: Tim Burton
Produced by: Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping
Screenplay by: Jane Goldman
Based on: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Casts: Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Judi Dench, Samuel L. Jackson

I saw this book of  Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children several times in the bookshop but I didn't know there's always something that stopped me to buy it. Perhaps since the book is full of photographs so I though it's just a children story book until finally I watch the movie with the girls last week and I got to admit that the story is totally AWESOME.

This was a debut novel by American author, Ransom Riggs. I am not a fan of fantasy story but I just found out that Riggs' imagination is enjoyable. When I checked his website I found out that Riggs is into photographs, travelling to places that are tricky to find on maps and exploring places therefore his story is rich with lots of magical things.

Luckily, the book was adapted into a movie by an excellent director, Tim Burton, no wonder that my girls and I stared at the screen religiously  for more than two hours wondering what will happen in the next scene?

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is a story about a boy who follows clues from his grandfather's old photographs which lead him on an adventure that takes him to a large abandoned orphanage on a Welsh Island. Miss Peregrine's home is not just an ordinary orphanage, it's a magical place full of residents with their special powers, such as: Miss Peregrine who might turn into a bird, there's a girl who has the ability to float or a very strong girl and even a girl who can control fire, and many more.

The book has been a New York Times Best Seller and praised for its creative use of vintage photographs as well as good characterisation and settings. It is also already translated into Bahasa Indonesia by Gramedia.

And the movie is highly recommended as well. You'll love it.

Find more on the movie HERE 
While for more info about the author, check HERE

Super Camp 2016

We had a quiet Friday night last weekend. The girls were going camping in their school for two days. The programs were designed for grade 4-6 students since Najla is in grade 6 while Zea is in grade 4 so both of them joined that program.

The girls said that they had a good time.  They did lots of exciting stuff like a true scout (including playing with the mud and getting wet all over), cooking, eating together on a big banana leaf,  sitting around the  the bonfire, gazing at the stars, (the school prepared several telescopes for this activity), and they slept in a tent (although the girls said that they couldn't have good sleep since many of them were busy chit-chatting) on the school parking lot (but for them, it's still cool).

Picking them up on Saturday. The girls looked tired yet happy. Arrived home and fell in a deep sleep. While I was so very much relieved to find my home was complete again with the girls, the screaming, the running here and there, the messy home and everything. It feels like living in a real 'home'.  

A Little Life

Title: A Little Life
Author: Hanya Yanagihara
Publisher: Picador, 2015
724 pages

I have never been one of those people --I know you aren't, either-- who feels that the  love one has for a child is somehow a superior love, one more meaningful, more significant, and grander than any other.

--A Little Life page 163, Hanya Yanagihara

It took months for me to finish the book --despite the thickness and small fonts in the book-- and perhaps a life time to genuinely recover from reading this masterpiece written by American author of  Hawaiian ancestry, Hanya Yanagihara. It's a bestseller, the Man Booker Prize 2015 shortlisted, trending topic in social media and book clubs, and many more and even Jon Michaud in the New Yorker said that Yanagihara's novel can also drive you mad, consume you and take over your life

Perhaps the reason why it took me so long to finish the book was I simply just couldn't stand to finish the story. Yanagihara is a master storyteller. She can transform ordinary moments such as a day at the office, a fight between friends, everyday conversation, etc into something extraordinary. She's getting the details rights and completely described.  

A Little Life tells about four friends, Malcolm, Willem, JB, and Jude in New York City after they graduate from college. They dream to chase big careers and basically they made it. Malcolm is an architect, JB becomes a painter, Willem is a popular actor and Jude as a successful lawyer. 

Willem and Jude are so very close perhaps since they are both orphaned, have no money, and move into a small apartment that they can afford when they just start their career.

The story then focus on Jude, the most mysterious character among four. Jude is unknown, refuse to reveal anything about his childhood of life before meeting his friends. Apart from his successful career as a lawyer, he's actually broken, full of secrets, self-harming, slicing his arms at 2 am and makes his body a web of scar tissue.

This awesome book left me with lots of things. Never though that childhood sexual abuse could be that horrific. I got to hold my breath every time I read the parts of trauma and abuse. Serious sanction is definitely  a must to be imposed to the sexual abuse defendant. No matter what.

A highly recommended novel. A life time favorite.  

After translating 500 pages of documents...

All you want to do is having a deep sleep. 

For me it is added by visiting a bookshop. I just realized that I haven't been in the bookshop for quite sometime --I guess since I am busy finishing tons of books I bought at Big Bad Wolf (and there are still a lot left unread)-- and the feeling of happiness was still there, being around books. I thought that I need some simple book that I could finish it within a day and finally found The Architecture of Love written by Ika Natassa.  The good book was already in my hands, now it's time to drop by at a cafe, ordered a hot green tea latte and drowned in Raia and River's adventure in New York. Well...this book turned out to be interesting since it made me wanted to visit New York #AddTheBucketList.

The next day, I decided to fulfill my other interest which was going to a cinema and enjoying good movies. Here it went, I watched three movies for three days in a row. Yes, you read it right. I started by watching Ini Kisah 3 Dara and felt in love with the story and  suddenly wanted to go to Maumere, East Nusa Tenggara, the setting of the movie which is dangerously beautiful. The next day, I went and watched Warkop Reborn and laughing till my stomach hurt (not doing such things for so long). Last movie that I watched with the girls was BFG. We love this big friendly giant and enjoyed all parts of the movie.

Today I just stayed home (cooking ketupat??? Of course not), planned to read some books yet ended up falling a sleep. However I feel recharged now, ready to welcome Eid al-Adha tomorrow.  Hope everyone having a blessed holiday, too.

When in Rome...& Vatican

My heart turned upside down at the time I saw the earthquake in Italy. The ruins, the victims, the gloomy feeling made me deeply sad. I don't know when I can visit that beautiful country again yet the urge to explore it is always here, in my heart.

If I flash backed a bit, it was in early March this year, my friends and I were enjoying our Europe trip. Then we decided to spend our last days in Rome and Vatican. Rome is the capital city of Italy while Vatican is the smallest state in the world by both area and population.

As I stayed in Venice before so after leaving this romantic floating city in a water taxi, then off we went on a four-hour train heading to Termini Station, Rome.

Arrived in Rome and felt a bit dizzy with a cold wind, cloudy weather, dusty surrounding, and several beggars who kept asking money. I asked a police officer about our hotel's direction and walked along the area to find the hotel. A bit shocked to see our hotel. It's an old one. Yes, when we booked the hotel we just focus on affordable hotel nearby Termini Station but never thought that it could be this OLD. Okay, no complaint, we just need a place to sleep anyway. 

The next morning we walked to Termini Station and took train to Colloseum (iconic ancient Roman gladiatorial arena) and the adventure started there. All other tourist spots are within the area such as: Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Piazza Novena, etc. Rome history is one of the oldest occupied sites in Europe since it has been more than two and a half thousands years. Its historic centre is listed by Unesco as a World Heritage Site. 

Every first week of the month Colosseum and other tourist spots nearby are free of charge. I guess it's our lucky day when we realised that 6 March is the first week of the month so we could enjoy these magnificent spots for FREE.

We ended this trip in Vatican. Enjoying a big lunch and browsing around the souvenir shops that offer a much cheaper price comparing to other European countries. To wrap up, all you need for Rome and Vatican exploration is strong legs since you'll walk A LOT...#BalurBalsem.

Another 43rd Birthday

Yes, this is the second 43rd birthday that we celebrate this year. The first one was mine in January and today is my hubby's birthday.

Happy birthday to the most awesome daddy on the planet
Wishing you an ocean of happiness that life can give you

We love you :)


A Hundred Flowers

Title: A Hundred Flowers
Author: Gail Tsukiyama
St. Martin's Press New York, 2012
288 pages

Let a hundred flowers bloom; let a hundred schools of thought contend.
--Mao Tse-Tung, 1956

Another book from Big Bad Wolf Books, a hardcover version of A Hundred Flowers written by Gail Tsukiyama, with only IDR 60K.  Tsukiyama is an American novelist. She was born in San Francisco to a Japanese father and a Chinese mother. 

This is a novel based on China history. The setting was 1957 when Chairman Mao declared a new openness in China. Lots intellectuals fearing that it was a trap, Kai Ying's husband, Sheng, a teacher was arrested for writing a letter criticising the Communist Party. He was sent to a labor camp to be "reeducated."

A year later, seven-year-old Tao is climbing to the top of the huge kapok tea in front of their home in order to find his father but his foot slips into the air, sending him tumbling thirty feet to the courtyard below which finally makes his mother and grandpa panic. 

This is a story of Tao, his father, Sheng, his mother, Kai Ying, and his grandfather, Wei. The story was told by different characters in the 3rd person. The author paid close attention to details and descriptive language that in the end painting a vivid picture of the daily life of Kai Ying and her family.

The author's tenderness in delivering the story make it easy to become involved in the story. An intimate look of how a family suffered through a cultural revolution. 

I guess I need to find other books written by Tsukiyama. I just love her writing style. Unputdownable.

A Short Getaway: Yogyakarta

Bukit Rhema, Magelang
Just returned from a-three-day Yogyakarta trip. I went there with my three college friends. After trapped in the family and works stuff  for sometime, finally we got the opportunity to spend our leisure time together. 
Yes, we went up to the top of Bukit Rhema

Inspired by AADC 2 the movie (although two of us have not even watched the first part of AADC. Pathetic, right???) however the urge to just go somewhere with old time buddies seemed so tempting. 

We started the journey by having breakfast at Soto Kadipiro that as always having its best soto in town then off to Bukit Rhema, Magelang. People calls this place 'Gereja Ayam' although according to our rental car driver, Pak Wahid,  it's actually a house of prayer in the form of a pigeon not a chicken. We entered the place even went up to the top in order to catch its beautiful view. The place is being renovated so it's a bit dusty there. The power of AADC 2 is quite strong. After giving a very positive impacts to Belitung with Laskar Pelangi the movie, now it's Yogyakarta's turn. All places spotted in AADC 2 now become very popular even Yogya is getting crowded with its traffic jam. 
Greenhouse Boutique Hotel
Awesome hydroponic farm at Greenhost Boutique Hotel Rooftop

From Magelang, we went back to Yogyakarta to do check in at our hotel. We stayed at one of the  happening hotels in Yogya, Greenhost Boutique Hotel at Prawirotaman. This hotel was built with a special design and message. Yes, it's declared as a green hotel. It's obviously shown when we arrived at the hotel and welcomed by its green vertical garden. One other thing that amazed us is the hydroponic vegetables farm at the hotel rooftop. What is more beautiful than that? Every part of the hotel is well crafted. All spots are instagrammable. Not to forget the breakfast menu, they served a wide varieties of yummy food. 
Gumukpasir, Parangkusumo

After finished check in, we had our late lunch at RM Bu Ageng. A very popular restaurant owned by Butet Kertarajasa. Love the food here. Everything is yummy. Highly recommended.

With a happy tummy, we headed to Gumuk Pasir, Parangkusumo. This place is also beautiful. We caught a couple who took their pre-wedding pictures here. We enjoyed the sunset there.

On the way back to our hotel, we dropped by at Mount Merapi Bistro for having dinner. We ended the first day with tiring body yet happy heart.
Istana Ratu Boko

Second day, started by taking pictures at Plekung Gading then continued to Taman Sari, Padepokan Bagong Kusudiarjo and Malioboro (I know it's very mainstream but it turned out that we never get bored of Malioboro and Pasar Beringharjo). Having lunch at Lokal Resto. Resto kece with a good food. Next destination was enjoying sunset at Istana Ratu Boko.
Lokal Resto at Jl. Jembatan Merah
Delicious Nasi Ulam at Lokal Resto

Closed the second day by dropping by at Epic Coffee. This place is awesome. Love every part of the place.
Epic Coffee
Epic Coffee tagline

On our last day we were off to Kaliurang. Joining Merapi Lava Tour in a jeep, visiting Ullen Sentalu Museum and having lunch at D'Padukan, a peaceful restaurant with  a rice field view.  

All in all we enjoyed the moment. After being friends for 24 years, this trip is kind of an intimate reunion for us. Good friends are the best medicine.