Postcards From Labuan Bajo: A Birthday Trip With Travel Society!

I still remember last year strolling around several Instagram accounts, hoppin from one photo to another, and stumblin upon many photos of the beautiful Labuan Bajo. That was when I decided to intentionally find more infos on how to travel to this part of Indonesia. Particularly as I was craving for a good holiday day on the beach, yet was so bored with Bali. I was keen to explore more hidden gems of this country.

Travel Society was like that thirst-quencher in the middle of a sunny day. Our convo begun with warm greetings and ended up in a collaboration as they invited me to join one of their sailing trips to Bajo! If you are looking for an affordable travel experience to Labuan Bajo and some other places in Indonesia, yet with comfortable place to stay and friendly guides to accompany you, Travel Society should be on your call list.

They have regular dates every year for an open trip to Bajo that you can check on their Instagram account. Out of the dates they provide, I picked the one in September not knowing that it fell right on my 30th birthday!

Celebrating your birthday with a new experience was definitely a great idea. As for me, I celebrated it with a living on a boat for 3 days and 2 nights, visiting 9 islands (Kelor, Manjarite, Rinca, Padar, Namo, Taka Makassar, Gili Lawa, Kanawa, and Bidadari) in total, trekking several hills to watch sunrise and sunset, snorkeling to find manta, getting up close and personal with the Komodo dragon, laying on a pink beach, and swimming in a clear turquoise sea. Well, I got a pretty bad sunburnt as a birthday gift, but it was definitely worth the experience!

I’ll share more about these trip, but for now, please enjoy my postcard series from Labuan Bajo!

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First island in the itinerary, Pulau Kelor

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Menjangan (deer), which is the Komodo dragon’s lunch menu.

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Enjoying the sailing trip a little bit too much.

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Fishermen ready to go to work.

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A convo at golden hour.

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That beautiful hue of gold behind a hill.

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Sunrise watching from the top of Padar Island.

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One of the best islands, Taka Makassar, which pretty much reminds me of Maldive.

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Floating hotels at Gili Lawa.

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Resting to catch a breath.

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Sand-dipped toes on Bidadari Island.

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I was so tempted to say “Dracarys” LOL!

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Sunset at Labuan Bajo.

Write to you later,

HG. (@gersonhenry)

 

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The Canali Experience: Store Launch and Su Misura

With so many weddings to attend at the end of the year, I have been contemplating much on the kinds of formal wear that gentlemen are wearing. As every night I show up for wedding, be it gigs or invitations, I always hate the challenge to suit differently or to show up with something I haven’t wore last week. I don’t deal with fashion pressure easily as I don’t really care that much. How many of you actually ended up wearing the same thing over and over again to weddings and formal parties just as I did?

It was a good thing that Canali invited me to host their store launch event right in the midst of my formal wear confusion. I got to learn so many things, met a lot of people and enjoy Canali’s prime store that exhibits formal wear, sport casual and accessories.

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Suit by Canali. Loving the pocket square detail!

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Mingle session with fellow bloggers and other fashion journalists. 

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All the details in the fabric.

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Final brief before the show starts.

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Wine to warm the night.

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Canali, Plaza Indonesia, Ground Floor.

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Exquisite.

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Su Misura: Made to Measure Service.

Now, let me explain to you what Su Misura means. Su Misura (french for made to measure) is a service that allows you to own a Canali suit made exclusively for you. Not just suits, but also blazers, pants, coats, dress shirts and even knitwear! This service is so exclusive that you can choose over 500 options of fabric that are renewed each season and many of which are made exclusively for Canali.

Enjoy creating as you are given the freedom to pick your own detail as you select lapels, buttons, pockets, linings, collars and cuffs among other options. Once the suit is finished, you can wear it with pride as your name will be embroidered on the label itself.

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The Su Misura corner.

The event lasted only for a while, but being able to witness such a commitment to bring only the best details in their product and interior was quite a profound moment to me. I guess the commitment is what makes Canali one of the best in the industry since 1934.

Truth be told, I am very much humbled by the invitation to experience Canali.

 

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Keep exploring,

DR. (@demasryan)

PS: Thanks to PT Trans Fashion Indonesia for having me! I would like to thank Rizky Aditya from Le Motion Photography for these beautiful photos of the event. All credit goes to Le Motion.

Postcards From New Zealand: 9 Days, 7 Cities, 6 People, 5 Hotels, 2 Islands, 1 Car!

The trip to New Zealand last August was loaded with plenty of remarkable “first time” experience for me. For example, it was my first time..

flying solo in a long hours flight with two layovers
going on a road trip (this includes being a good co-driver, trying so hard not to fall asleep while paying attention to the GPS, and also surviving hunger and the urge to pee when there’s no gas station and mini mart anywhere near us)
seeing snow
hiking a mountain, which was located in the middle of a city
staying in a cabin hotel (and had to walk at 6.30am in the morning to the toilet, fighting the winter breeze, and end up shivering, thinking I might die of hypothermia, while doing number two).
experiencing flood in other country (LOL).

I kid you not, road trip in New Zealand should be the thing you must do before you hit 30. Or, at least before you die.

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Along with 5 traveling companion, we started the road trip from Auckland (North Island), dropped by at Hobbiton, then went all the way down to Wellington (exploring Martinborough, the city of winery), then took a ferry ride to the South Island, arrived at Picton, passed Nelson – a very beautiful city, I might wanna spend my old days there -, stayed at Hanmersprings (where I shivered (almost to death) in the toilet), moved to Christchurch, dropped by at Lake Tekapo, Mount Cook, ended the trip at Queenstown, and made a 7 hours trip to visit Milford Sound (which pretty much reminds of Kong Island movie).

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The NZ Road Trip Buddies: @demasryan, @yolandelwanda, @arisleonardo, @wisiannysusanty, @felwijaya.

I’ll share more stories in the upcoming post, so please stick around! Feel free to comment or reach me via Instagram if you want the full NZ itinerary along with budget planning, and hotel recommendations!

Write to you later,

HG. (@gersonhenry)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Story of How I Decided To Summit An Active Volcano With No Training or Preparation Whatsoever

Gunung Merapi, which literally translated means mountain of fire, is one the biggest active volcanoes in Indonesia. Earlier this year I was feeling a little restless at work and had the bright idea to attempt to summit the Mountain of Fire with two ex-military guys.

For context, I’d been back in Jakarta for about a year and wanted to start hiking. One of the things on my bucket list is climbing Mt Rinjani in Lombok (which HG & DR did just last year), and I was looking for a few easier hikes to start training for it. Merapi sounded like a solid choice for a first serious hike as it was accessible from Jogja and could be completed in a day, i.e. without having to carry a ton of camping equipment around. The trek from basecamp to summit was supposed to take about 4.5 hours.

I can do that, I thought. I’ll be fine.

I definitely underestimated the Mountain of Fire. Let me just make this clear—Merapi is a beast of a hike. It’s not the distance, which is a manageable 3.4 kilometres from basecamp to the summit. It’s not the altitude, which is just under 3,000m above sea level. And it’s not the trail, which is a single meandering path up the mountain that’s actually quite well-marked. But the thing that I didn’t know was this: Merapi is insanely steep.

You know how even decently fit people find themselves a little out of breath after running up a flight of stairs? Imagine climbing up escalator steps for five hours—for some sections of the hike, it was more like two escalator steps at a time—and then imagine doing that with an extra 10 kilograms on your back. And all the while, you’re racing time to make it to the summit in time for the spectacular sunrise you’ve been promised.

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The hike is broken up into five sections. By taking the distance and dividing it by the estimated time it would take, you can tell that the section between Pos I and Pos II is the steepest and most difficult. That and the final scramble up to the summit itself, of course.

The other thing about hiking Merapi is that you have to start in the middle of the night, because during the day the active volcano emits more sulphurous gases. Full confession: this hike was only my second all-nighter ever. But as someone once said, adventure gets out of bed before the sun does!

(Okay, it was me. I said it.)

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Adventure gets out of bed before the sun does, but once the sun is up feel free to take naps. Stef took a nap out in the open, exposed to the winds at high altitude, which in hindsight was not the best idea. When he woke up 20 minutes later, his body’s core temperature had dropped and he had to put on extra layers, huddle in the carne, and drink hot tea to warm up again.

We started the hike at 1 am, and it was painfully steep from the get-go. Within 10 minutes I was gasping for breath and wondering what on earth I had gotten myself into. Of course it was no problem for my ex-military hiking companions, but I kept needing to pause for breath, and soon enough the three of us were trailing behind the rest of the group. Stef, seeing me struggling, offered to take my water pack and some of my extra weight. Still, it was tough going.

But there was no turning around, there was no going home, there was no sitting on a rock in the jungle by myself waiting 7 hours for everyone to go up and come back down. In a way, quitting simply wasn’t an option, and that kept me going, taking step after step after step. Eventually I relaxed into the rhythm, going at my own pace. I stopped worrying about trying to keep up with the pack, or making it to the summit by sunrise, and focused instead on just doing the hike (and surviving it).

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It was, in a way, oddly therapeutic.

Picture the scene: it’s 0200 or 0300 in the middle of the night—you’ve lost track of the time in your sleep-deprived haze—and you’re making your way slowly up the side of a volcano.

There are no lights for miles around, except for the torch strapped onto your forehead, cutting a swath of light through the darkness ahead. There’s a cool breeze every once in a while, rustling the leaves of the trees around you. Other than that, the only audible sounds are the scuff and step of hiking boots and the rhythm of your own laboured breathing.

At some point, the forest thins out and you catch a glimpse of the view.
It’s dark, of course, but you realize you’re standing near the edge of the mountain, with a steep drop-off. Below you is a scattered sea of lights, dimly lit and twinkling in the night.

You realize you’re looking down into the valley, into sleeping towns, and you realize how high up you are. That feeling—of standing on the edge of the world, of having made it this far up—made the aching in my legs fade.

That moment kept me moving, kept me reaching, kept me pushing myself.

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At about 05AM, we stopped by a little cave just below the Pasar Bubrah station. This far above the treeline, the ground was sparse and rocky, but just as steep. My body felt exhausted and one of the guys was starting to get cramps in his legs. We decided to stop at the cave to avoid aggravating our pre-existing injuries, and because although I had just enough energy left to make it to the summit, I didn’t know if I’d be able to get all the way back down the volcano after that.

The three of us swung our packs off our tired shoulders, drank lots of water, ate some snacks, and made ourselves comfortable while we waited for the sunrise.

We didn’t have long to wait. All around us, the endless darkness began to lift. The blackness became a grey, and then took on an orange tinge. Slowly the forms began to emerge—the blanket of clouds under us, the creases and ridges in the mountain.

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Our cameras were out and we began shooting. It was cold, the wind whipping around us as we stood exposed on the side of the mountain. My fingers grew numb and I got to the point where I put it away and just stood there, watching the sun come up, watching colours flood back into the landscape, watching our surreal, otherworldly surroundings come into view.

It made everything worth it, huddled there together above the clouds, with an amazing 270 degree panorama around us. The ache in our muscles dulled and stilled, and it felt all the better because the pounding ache reminded us that we’d earned it, in a sense.

Soon, our guide came back down the mountain to pick us up and head back down. We stumbled down the mountain with shaking jelly legs, using hands to scramble down the steep route, grabbing on to branches and rocks to take some weight and pressure off our legs. To be honest, it was a miracle that none of us fell head over heels on all the way down, but we made it in one piece.

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Climbing the Mountain of Fire was a long ordeal. We set off at 1 am, and didn’t get back down to base camp at 10 am. Is it crazy to say that in my mental calculations, I had only thought of it as a one-way journey? I had envisioned 4-5 hours of comfortable walking, and instead spent 9 hours pushing my physical limits on a difficult terrain on an incline that killed me. The next day I could hardly walk, and everything hurt.

But were there any regrets? None.

We fought gravity for four and a half hours, snatched 20 minutes of sleep in a little cave, soaked up a beautiful sunrise against striking mountains, and welcomed a new day from above the clouds.

The rest of that Jogja trip is another story to come. But until then, I urge you: Go climb your mountain! Go do something big and bold and outrageous. Go outside your comfort zone, but stay within your limits. I promise you won’t regret it.

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To more adventures and stories to tell,

SL. (@sofietyger)

 

A Question For The Automaton Generation: Who Do You Want To Be?

When I was thirteen I aspire to be many things.

I wanted to be a scholar
A professor
A well known educator…

But at the same time, I also wanted to be a writer,
A poet
And ultimately, an artist, because I want to inspire people…

Years from there my aspirations keep growing to many different things to the point it was scattered into many different interests in life.
I ended up becoming a misfits.
It was a bit sad really…

All those years from a very highly inspired teenagers into a depressed, don’t-know-what-to-do-with-life human being. Why? You may asked.

Simple. People happened.

We are living in a society where people love to be involved in our lives. Whether it is for positive or negative thing, people simply love to meddle. It is not wrong, this is just how we make relationship with others.

I was once a by product of a society that dictates what I should and should not do. There were people in my life who “dislike” the fact that I had such big ambition and “quietly” killed my ambition. They drove me into questioning myself if what I wanted was too big.

Then, there were people who would “force” me to thrive differently, not in the things that I actually wanted but it was simply because what seemed to be “right”. Today is even worse, there seems to be a baseline for what is called to be “accepted” in society, in terms of your wishes, your identity, even your ultimate goals in life. And this makes me sad even further.

I finally managed to get out of this “automaton” dictation by pulling myself apart. This doesn’t mean I become an actual misfit. On the contrary, I have a better social life now and people accepted me just fine.

What changes, however, was how I’m letting this society get into my mind. Like I said earlier, it’s inevitable and not wrong for having a society who meddles in your life. This is how human interact but what we need to protect is our core. Who we really are. If we can do that by being true to who we really are, we can let the “right” people meddle into our life, which will enrich us instead of tearing us down.

People who can sharpen our desires instead of crushing it. People who can inspire us because they are also running in the same journey as ours. All in all, we need to let people who have the best interest for us to be a loud voice in our life. If there are people who keeps negating what we want to do, we should consider the existence of that person in our lives. Maybe, that person needs to be put aside some times.

Challenge is good but if you are constantly being challenged and questioned, sooner or later doubts will start to grow and block you from becoming who you really are.

To find who you are and to be who you want to be today is a bit harder, simply because the world is a lot noisier than before. Social media is a gateway for us to be depressed or to freely expressed ourselves correctly. It’s both a lethal machinery that can build us or kill us.

We need a strong filter for these voices in order for us to be true to ourselves. In my journey, I find that getting alone for a while and distant myself from all the noises for once in a while really helps. It makes me think clearly and inspire me again to get to where I wanted to go.

I’m writing this to you, who might be in need of any encouragement to find who you truly are. I hope this can help you. Just remember, you will finally be comfortable with who you are when you finally can be honest about who you are.

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Talk to you later!

SC. (@callistasarah)

An Interview With Aveline Gunawan: The Clumsy Girl With Secret Obsession Towards Greenday.

I’ve known Aveline Gunawan (Ave), a photographer for Baby Axioo, since her first days in Baby Axioo. We share mutual best friends, and got involved in preparing for their proposal, birthday surprises, bachelor parties, pre-wedding photoshoot and even became one of their groomsmen and bridesmaids.

Although she might look like a high-maintenance princess on her Instagram feeds, Ave is a complete opposite in person. She is very down to earth and far from princess-sy attitude. She is a clown who is not afraid to make fun of herself in front of other people. Her talent in photography is undeniably and inarguably a God’s gift. I remember during our trip to Bromo, she took photos using a Samsung phone, iPhone, DSLR, Mirrorless camera, and Analog camera, and every single shot she took was beautiful! Because of her I believe the idioms that says, “It’s not about the gear, it’s about the eyes and the taste behind the lens.” A real photographer could take the most beautiful photo using any gear, and she has proven it.

Working in Axioo has been her one and only dream since she graduated from University. The journey to become where she is right now was not easy at all and that is why I decided to feature her in this month’s “Get To Know” section. We met at a restaurant after church, and started to the interview over a plate of pizza and desserts. One funny similarity that we share is that we are both an unstoppable munching machine. When we see foods on the table, we don’t even care to ask who owns it, we’re just gonna grab it and start munching!

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TPOB20: Who is Aveline Gunawan in your own eyes?
Ave: Aveline Gunawan is a clumsy girl from Surabaya. A girl who looks very elegant on Instagram, but actually a clown who can’t stop munching, and loves to listen to Greenday.

TPOB20: What do you do?
Ave: I’m a photographer in Baby Axioo, so I’m mostly busy doing photoshoot probably about seven different clients in a week, while at the same time juggling my wedding preparation.

TPOB20: How did you get into this industry?
Ave: I’ve been introduced to photography since I was a kid. Probably because my Dad was also quite passionate in photography. I remember him taking photos of me and my two sisters with his vintage camera, and also recorded our silly actions with a handy cam.

But, it was not until senior high that I finally considered to explore photography. When I was still a little girl, I wanted to be a bank teller because I thought I’d have a lot of money, not knowing that it’s actually other people’s money hahaha… And then I also wanted to be a comic illustrator because I like drawing. When I was in Middle High I wanted to be a part of Emo Band, mainly because of Greenday.

Until one day, I had this Motorolla phone that came with a camera. It became my first camera, and that’s how it all began. I moved to Melbourne for my bachelor degree in Communication Design. One day, a friend of mine asked me to take photos of their kid. That’s when I had the opportunity to build my portfolio.

After college, I went back for good to Surabaya and decided to focus more on photography. I wanted to apply to Axioo but then I didn’t have that much confident in me to actually send out my portfolios. At that moment, it just felt impossible. So I tried applying to other photography services in Surabaya instead, and none of them called me back. I was so devastated, feeling so incompetent. How could I apply for the big giant like Axioo, if no one in Surabaya wanted to hire me.

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Photo courtesy of Aveline Gunawan and Baby Axioo

One day, my ex’s sister was having a pre-wedding photo shoot in Bogor with Axioo. Usually, there will be one photographer with one stylist handling the photo shoot. But, that day, I believe it’s not a coincidence, the stylist wasn’t available to come so the owner herself (which happens to be my current boss) came all the way from Jakarta to handle the photoshoot. It’s a very rare situation, probably even the first and the last time ever. Anyway, that’s when I first met Fen Soong. The owner of my dream company. Of course, she knew nothing about me. We rarely even speak during the photo shoot I guess.

Fast forward two weeks later, Fen left a comment on my Instagram’s post, saying that she would love to meet and have a talk with me. Apparently, she found my Instagram through some sort of Instagram baby account, which featured my portfolio.

One month later, in September 2013, I went to Jakarta and arranged a meeting with Fen. She asked me to be a photographer for Baby Axioo. That was really mind blowing, because I’m fine being a photographer’s assistant as a starter. I was so flattered yet quite nervous at that time. She asked me to think about the offer. And so I moved to Jakarta and started to work for Baby Axioo since October 2013.

I realized that it’s totally God’s grace. Fen and I were a complete stranger, yet somehow we crossed paths. I crossed path not with some random business owner, but with the one particular business owner that I’ve been adoring.

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Photo courtesy of Aveline Gunawan and Baby Axioo

TPOB20: Why Axioo? And, why Baby Axioo?
Ave:
Apart from the fact that Axioo has such great name and portfolio, it just seems fun to work in Axioo. The team looks very solid. Apparently, when I joined, everything that I could imagine about working in Axioo is true! I got paid for having fun doing what I love to do, I gained not only good friends, but also a new family.

Why Baby Axioo? Hmmm.. I just love kids. When my sisters and I were kids, the two of them preferred to go to our cousins’ house to play saloon and other girly toys. Me? I preferred to go to my other cousin who was still a baby and play with her.

TPOB20: What are your work values that brought you to where you are right now?
Ave: 
Integrity. I believe that every client has to get the same treatment, the best of me. I can’t play favorites because they pay the same price. Second to integrity would be innovative I guess. I always come up with new ideas for photoshoot, thanks to Pinterest and a lot of brainstorming session with the fashion stylist. Or, sometimes I could get ideas simply by reading magazines, traveling, or looking at a window display.

TPOB20: What kind of thing disturbs or angers you the most?
Ave: I cannot tolerate a fake and sneaky person who always has a hidden agenda for his/her own benefit. I really despise people who act nicely in front of people yet talk bad about them behind their back. I value people who are sincere and kind-hearted.

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TPOB20: What kind of activity do you do to refuel your creative tanks?
Ave: Mostly traveling. Or, taking a time off for a while.

TPOB20: What is the most interesting thing about being a baby photographer?
Ave: 
I got to meet new people everytime I have a photoshoot. Mostly are Instagram mommies with very cute and adorable babies or toddlers. I love hearing their stories and their insights about being a Mom.

TPOB20: What is the most challenging thing about your job?
Ave: When the baby doesn’t cooperate. But, what would be like the MOST challenging is when both the baby and the parents don’t cooperate.

TPOB20: What was the biggest struggle in your 20s? What made you kept going?
Ave: 
I’m a sucker for lover. Thank God I now have a fiance. But few years ago, I could overthink and worry a lot about my love life. As a competitive person, I often compare my life with other and the seeds of jealousy could cripple me. I always want to be better than others and completely forget that the real battle is not against others but against my own self. I learned over time to put aside all the negative thoughts and choose to focus on being the best in what I do. The blessing that is meant for you will always be meant for you. God has designed everything and put each person’s blessing according to their capacity. That thought somehow managed to keep me going everytime I stumble.

At this point I got so distracted by some pizza crumbles that got stuck on her hair. That’s how much she fancies eating. (Don’t worry Ave, you still have time to diet and you’ll fit well in your wedding dress!)

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Photo courtesy of Aveline Gunawan and Baby Axioo

TPOB20: What is your biggest dream that you haven’t achieved until today?
Ave: Uhm.. probably being a vessel of blessing to others, like creating a job opportunity for other people so they can support their family, pay the bills, etc. I strongly believe that’s what God wants me to do next.

TPOB20: Who is your inspiration?
Ave: 
My boss, Fen. She is very genuine and caring towards people. She would go the extra mile to make her ideas come to life. She values and appreciates relationship and really take a good care of her employees.

TPOB20: Lastly, what are the perks of being 20 to you?
Ave: 
It’s the season where you can explore a lot of things, or should I say every thing that your heart desires, without being worried because you still don’t have any responsibility towards your own family. You are not yet married and still don’t have kids. Your old days seem far away. You are all fresh and healthy to do the things that you love to do.

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Hopefully her story would inspire you to never give up praying on what you want and pursue your dream until it comes to life.

Write to you later,

HG. (@gersonhenry)

Gondos Kitchen in Jakarta: A Bite on a Heaven Sent Burger From Sydney

Although I am not a huge fan of burgers, I couldn’t resist the urge to give this burger a bite. Especially since a lot of my friends were talking about it so much. In case you haven’t heard, I am talking about Gondo’s Kitchen.

Based in Sydney, Gondo’s Kitchen offers a pop up dining concept with varieties of food and cakes to try! You can check out their website and see that Stephani Gondo, the founder of Gondos Kitchen, is a passionate foodie.

With all of that on the table, I was quite excited to hear that Gondos Kitchen is having a pop up dining concept in Neo Soho’s Common Grounds in Jakarta. After a short drive on a lazy Sunday, I managed to find a seat with some friends and ordered one of Gondos Kitchen’s signature meal: #proprburgr.

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Simple yet unforgettable lunch: burgers and fries topped with fried pork skin.

With 100k, you can order a signature burger by Gondos Kitchen. If that is not enough filling for you, extra patty and bacon are offered from 10k to 30k. Since I was splitting the burger with my girlfriend, we decided to order the combo, which includes french fries topped with crispy pork skin. Yes, you read it right. I honestly thought the combination of pork and fries were brilliant!

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Extra bacon on top of the cheese covered patty.

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Fries and crispy pork skin.

The taste was incredible and I can vouch that the price wasn’t overrated. The claim that this burger is a proper one is indeed true. After a few bites, I wished that I ordered an extra patty and more crispy pork skin. I couldn’t stop munching on the fries and I believe tension rose up as my girlfriend and I fought for the last piece of fries.

I really wished we had more menus to try, but Stephanie Gondo only brought this burger recipe this time. Will we have more dishes in Jakarta from Gondos Kitchen? Probably one day. Perhaps, the best thing we can do right now is to check out @gondoskitchen on Instagram and spam her with death threats (or nice wishes) to bring Gondos Kitchen back to Jakarta.

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Stephani Gondo, the lady behind the Gondos Kitchen.

Keep exploring,

DR. (@demasryan)

 

PS: Since we are talking about Sydney, don’t miss out some posts from Sydney on this blog. HG took some decent postcards that you can check out right here. For more of beaches, check out my blog right here.

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I didn’t have a death wish. Don’t worry.