It was January 14, 2018
It was my 45th birthday 

Endless gratitude for this beautiful life
and....uncountable happiness.

Big thanks for Mbak Debby for its yummy Nasi Kecombrang Sambal Gandaria and its fresh Rujak Tampah


Semarang, The Little Netherland #1

We didn't realise  we were making memories
We just knew we were having fun.

Destination: Umbul Sidomukti, Pondok Kopi & Masjid Agung Jawa Tengah

This Semarang trip was kind of a sudden idea. Our family is really not into crazy crowd therefore we always stay home on new year's eve. Lucky us, last week people already got back to their works and kids were back to school so..yes, it's a perfect time to just enjoy our holiday peacefully.   

I love old and historical buildings and I never thought that Semarang has LOTS of grand historical buildings in many places. God. However the maintenance is not so good though but the guide at Lawang Sewu, Pak Aris, told me that the recent government seems to care more for these cultural heritage.

I really hope that when I go back to this city, Semarang has changed into the little Netherland just like what's stated in my daughters' t'shirts.  

Turning 11

Hey, our new year baby!
Here's wishing you a birthday as special as you are.
You are one-in-a-million and deserve the best birthday ever!!!

Love & Hugs,
Ayah, Mama & Kk Najla


Book Review: Laut Bercerita

Title: Laut Bercerita
Author: Leila S. Chudori
Publisher: KPG (Kepustakaan Populer Gramedia)
First Print, October 2017
379 pages

Ketidaktahuan dan ketidakpastian kadang-kadang jauh lebih membunuh dibanding pembunuhan.

Laut Bercerita tells about a college student named, Biru Laut. Some people perhaps were born to live in their idealism. They want to do something for the country, they want to have an ideal government who care about its people, while the government itself is not that friendly in receiving the critics. It happened during Suharto's era. The New Order was considered as a dictator. Violating the human rights, unfairness in politics and economics, etc. Until we heard that 23 persons were kidnapped on May 1998 and up until now there are still 13 of them that have no news yet. 

Laut Bercerita took place during 1991 until 1998. The book tells about the loss felt by the families and friends of their beloved persons. There is also betrayal and a very sadistic torture by those for whom power is more valuable than lives. 

There are parents who always put one extra plate during their family lunch just because they hope their beloved one will suddenly come and visit the house. This kidnapping mostly changed the lives of the family and friends. Reading this book really needs a strong heart since the story felt so real (yes, it's based on true events) and some of these missing people are still gone and to date government also seems not to do any significant efforts to reveal the case.

One of the lines in the book that broke my heart:

Begitu hujan mulai membasahi Tanah Kusir, aku merasa para penghuni makam terbangun dan membunyikan serunai. Mereka menghibur kami, orang-orang yang tak memiliki makam orang-orang tercinta.

The author, Leila S. Chudori, a senior journalist, said that this book was inspired by her friend's story, Nezar Patria, who was kidnapped with other 20 persons due to their activities considered as a threat for Suharto's government. Nezar and some of his friends were released however there are still many of them that have no news at all up until now. The families and friends left are living with endless pain for the rest of their lives. Their lives will never be the same again.

One of the best Indonesian books in 2017. A must read to learn about Indonesian history. 

Books with Illustration, Quotes, and Such

Several researches show that Indonesian people are not into reading books. It is referred from the data of reading interest that is quite low or we can also simply just check the bookshop, even in a big bookshop like Gramedia, nowadays I saw at cashier that people mostly bought stationery or other stuffs instead of buying  books. 

No wonder that bookshop must do something to SURVIVE. I noticed that one of my favourite bookshops, Gramedia PIM, now has a cafe inside its bookshop. While the stuffs sold there also having more variation, I found some outdoor activities equipments, shoes, even head scarf aka hijab. There is nothing wrong about it. As long as books are still there and these new stuffs are still in line with the business, well...just go ahead. By the way, I am happy with the cafe since I can just sit there, order my favourite drink and drown in my new book. 

Other trends that I notice in the bookshop is the books form. If in the old days we only have novel or comic but now you can easily find lots of books with beautiful illustration, quotes, variation of colours, and all. These illustrated books will really help people that not into thick books, at least when they are bored with the texts then they can just focus on the illustration and vice versa.

The following are illustrated books that I recommend for your year end holiday, check them all:


You know Diana Rikasari right? She's one of the most creative and popular fashion bloggers. Although I am not into fashion especially Diana's style that sometimes too bright (although it is always looks good on her) however I always love the way Diana writes. From her writing I learned that she's really a hard worker, humble and very true to herself. Respect.

These #88LOVELIFE consists of three books. Diana divides it into Part One about 88 Thoughts on Love and Life, 2nd book is about Passion and the last book is about Priorities.  Each book is enriched with some thoughts, quotes, illustration, stickers, postcards, and all are in colourful ambience. Simple writing with deep meaning. A mood booster.  

Stories for Rainy Days#1 and #2
& Things and Thoughts I Drew When I was Bored 

Stories for Rainy Days  #1 and #2 are kind of novels that are written down in a beautiful way by Naela Ali. It's actually a romance. Boy meets girl. Fall in Love. Broken Heart. Such a cliche however you will enjoy it. Naela with her simple yet magic words and illustrations will fascinate you, force you to finish the book  and  can't wait for the ending. 

This serial is quite successful. Book #1 since it was launched on May 2016, now it has reached the  sixth printing in August 2017 while Book #2 since the first printing on February 2017, currently has had the fourth printing. 

If you love raining, music, touching  love story that can warm your heart, this is the ONE. 

Other book by Naela is Things and Thoughts I Drew When I was Bored, this book is  more on random stuffs that came to Naela's head  and then transformed into writing or drawing. Interesting still. 

69 Things to be Grateful about Being Single by FEBY INDIRANI Illustration by Emte

From its catchy title, you can guess what the book is about. The special thing about this book is the awesome illustration for every topic of the book. Kudos to the illustrator, Emte, he can put the wording into perfect illustration. Love it.  

It's time for you to choose, which book is perfect to accompany you during the holiday?

Backpacking with Kids: Korea #3

Destination #3: Seoul

"Not all classrooms have four walls.

Through travel, the world becomes a classroom."
Seoul in Summer was kind of confusing. Sometimes the heatwave came, then suddenly the pouring rain wetted us all.  Perhaps it is not the best  time for holiday, yet the positive side is lots of favourite photo spots were empty and we could take photo shoots as many as we want. #Greedy

We really felt we're lucky when we rented Korean traditional dress (Hanbok) and walked through Bukchon Hanok Village for photo session. This place is always full of tourists but that lazy hot afternoon we only met couple of tourists.

Bukchon is  a 'house' for around 900 Korean traditional houses (Hanok). Every spot here is beautiful. Try to get lost in the alleys while enjoying the houses, the walls, the roofs, the garden and everything, you'll feel that you're sent away to Korea in hundred of years a go. Bukchon  is such a contrast with the modern city afar.

Beside Bukchon, we also dropped by at Gyeongbokgung Palace and got the opportunity to watch the changing palace guards ceremony.  
Banana Milk is the perfect drink during Korean summer

Other happening place in Seoul, it must be Myeong-dong, a heaven for skincare, cosmetics, shopping for all tourists and cosmetics sellers. Such a packed place with local products and imported products, just choose what you want. People were busy spending their money on everything. Many of them brought their luggages to put all the stuff they bought. If you're into Korean products, you'll love this place since there are many variations of skincare put in a beautiful package and sold at affordable price. Do not forget, Koreans like to give their customers some bonuses, buy 10 hand creams and get 20, buy 15 face mask and get 25, and more and more offers that will make you headache and later on you will be shocked to see your credit card bills, what the hell did I buy at Myeong-dong??? Hahaha...

I didn't shop much since I need to accompany my girls there. We just tried several cute-look-yet-yummy snacks sold by the street hawkers there.  

Seoul was the last place we visited during our eight-day of backpacking with kids. The girls were super happy. They kept saying, 'This is the best day in my life." 

All in all Korea is not only K-Pop or DraKor. It is also an alternative destination for backpacking with kids.  

"Holiday with young kids isn't about the holiday, (because let's face it, it's beyond exhausting), it's about making MEMORIES."

From Andrea Hirata, A. Fuadi, Okky Madasari and More

Books are still one of my favourite things. A good book, a cup of tea and a cozy couch are all I need.  Although the numbers of books I read are way too small comparing to the old days however I am happy that this year many of my favorite authors released their books. Let's check these five recommended books that you can enjoy during your end of year holiday. 

Sirkus Pohon by Andrea Hirata
Let's start from Andrea Hirata with his Sirkus Pohon. I miss Andrea and his touching way in telling how Belitung people live their lives. It still entertains me although the plot, the characters, the twist and the ending are still far from all time favorite Laskar Pelangi but still it is nice to read another book with Andrea's style.   

Anak Rantau by A. Fuadi
I just visited Padang and Bukit Tinggi and now I am excited to finally can witness the beautiful landscape of Padang and taste the delicious Padang food.  Now, let's  follow Hepi's engaging adventure with his friends and find out how their activities as detective wannabe finally end up.  

Yang Bertahan dan Binasa Perlahan by Okky Madasari
Reading Okky's works are never boring. There is always something to ponder. This time Okky brings her short stories collections. The themes as usual tell about the unfortunate people, the unfairness of life, the struggle to survive, and such. Okky said that the short stories consist of 19 stories that have already been written down within a decade (2007-2017).    

Forgotten Colors by Vabyo
I always love Vabyo's witty way in delivering his stories. This book is special because it was written down after Vabyo got stroke and suffered a kind of memory loss. This book is a therapy for the writer and a lesson for us to understand what happens to people with stroke. A touching story.

Koran Kami with Lucy in the Sky by Bre Redana  
Bre Redana is a senior Kompas journalist. I always wait for his column in Kompas Minggu. He delivers an up-to-date article in a playful yet deep way.  

In his latest book of Koran Kami, he wrote about newspaper company, how a newspaper is managed, the process, the people behind it, the stress, the friendship, and all. The story seems simple but I know it has a very important meaning since Bre said that after 35 years as a journalist, he just needs to write something about his work and he MADE it. This book was launched on his retirement day. A good way to end a working period.

I enjoy the book a lot. I laughed here and there and think for lots of smart statements and quotes. If you are looking for a light with a deep meaning read, try this one. You'll love it.

Some of the quotes I love:

"Itulah bahayanya memori: ia mampu memperdayai kita. Selalu sediakan  ruang untuk mencurigai memori diri sendiri."

"Di zaman fundamentalisme ini orang gampang percaya pada apa såja kecuali kebenaran, ..."

"Agama sekarang adalah persoalan gaya hidup, persoalan politik, dan di atas segalanya bisnis. Tuhan sudah lama menjauh dari agama. Sudah lama Tuhan pindah alamat,..."

"Mabuk bir orang jadi jujur; mabuk agama orang jadi pembohong."

See? There're still more. A must read.