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)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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)

Postcards From Sydney: Fallin’ In Love For The Third Time Around

“Sydney? Again?”
Most people reacted like that when they heard that I’m going to Sydney for the third time. They failed to understand why on earth would I keep coming back and forth to Sydney.

“If I were you, I would use the money to travel to other cities on earth,” so they said. As much as I agreed on their comeback, somehow, there’s something about Sydney that makes me feel like it’s always a trip to second home (probably, partly because I still have a close family who lives there).

Now, after the third visit, I departed from Sydney shedding a little tear wondering whether I can come back for more or not. How about I just spend the next season of my life in Sydney? It’s all in my head. Not sure whether I should act on it right away.

This time in Sydney, I found comfort and felt confident in wandering around and exploring the city alone. I enjoy every single experience of getting the wrong bus, walking a bit too far because I took the wrong turn, hopping on and off the trains all by myself. Will tell you more details about this trip, but for now, please do enjoy some photos I captured from this beautiful city.

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First time witnessing double rainbow at Shelly Beach. 


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Captured this by iPhone 5S. One eye-spoiling sunset!


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Symmetrical. Captured this when I took the wrong train to Macquarie.


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Stumbling upon this “urban”-ish and “instagenic” train tunnel.


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In Indonesia, I had to hike to high places to watch sunrise. In Sydney, I woke up and opened my eyes to this beautiful sunrise from my cousin’s apartment. 


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Marchin’ on a hill.


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Sunbathing. Not On A Sand. But On A Grass Field.


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Climb Up, Climb Up.


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Nap Time At The Park.


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Should I Dip My Feet On The Water?


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Architectural.


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Temptation For A Munching Machine. 


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Reminds Me Of That Groceries Store Corner That I Saw Once In Monocle.


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The Popular Bondi Beach.


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What You Lookin’ At?


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Will I Find Love Inside?

 

Write to you later,

HG. (@gersonhenry)

Golden Sunrise From The Peak of Sikunir

There’s always a brighter side to every story.
Even to the most devastating one.
That’s what I believe.

What’s the key to seeing the brighter side of a bad situation?
How to keep walking in a dark tunnel, that seems to have no end?
To have your hope anchored firmly to the One who is in control upon your life.
To keep a fit and well-trained faith, even when things seem to make no sense.
To have an unshakeable conviction that when things don’t happen the way you want it to be, it’s not the end of everything.
In fact, it’s a beginning of something that you would categorize as better.
To remind yourself that it’s never a setback, but it’s a setup that will launch you to higher places.

Pardon the poetic side of me. But you get the point. Hopefully.

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Taken by Nydia Orlatta.

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Sitting at 2350 Metres Above Sea Level

The trip to Central Java that I had last April could be defined as an evidence of what I wrote in the paragraphs above. Departed from Jakarta by train, along with 8 travel companions (which, for some of us, this is our first travel-together experience, hashtag hopefully there’s no drama), all of us left the big city with high hope to hike Mount Prau. We wished for a clear night sky for star gazing, some of us were tripod & camera-ready to capture the milky way, while the rest simply longed for their first hiking experience.

Sadly, that’s not what happened.

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In the middle of our train ride to Purwokerto we found out that Mount Prau has been temporarily closed due to bad weather. Two hikers died of a lightning strike on their way down from the summit. I don’t know about the others, but part of me responded like a kid, blaming the weather (which indirectly blaming God) and asking for an explanation why that sort of thing had to happen when we were already on our way there. We couldn’t postpone or cancel the trip.

Sometimes life is just like that. It doesn’t give you time to stop. It pushes you to move forward and deal with whatever it is that comes your way.

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So we continued our trip and decided to enjoy it the best way possible. Whether we end up at the top of Prau or not, that’s totally beyond our control. But even if we can’t, that won’t stop us from having fun. After a short, yet remarkable, culinary experience at Purwokerto, we continued our trip to Dieng Plateau by car.

Dieng welcomed us with drizzle and fog. There were no stars. The local guide suggested us to forget about Prau and hike the Sikunir Hill instead. With such weather, it would take more than a luck to be able to watch sunrise the next morning. However, we went to sleep with our hearts full of expectancy. We didn’t get to hike Prau. That’s okay. Now, we might not even be able to watch the sunrise. Hell, no. I refused to believe that. “We are going to watch the most beautiful breath-taking sunrise tomorrow!” So I said, stubbornly, in my prayer.

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At 3-ish AM, we all woke up and prepared ourselves for Sikunir. The car we rented took us to the basecamp, at the bottom of Sikunir, where we had to continue the rest 900m (about 30 minutes or less) of the trip by foot. If you’re a first-timer, don’t worry too much about bringing a lot of stuff, all you need is  bottled water, jacket, and pair of comfy shoes. The route was already carved into stairs, which makes this place a very tourist-friendly destination.

When you are almost at the top of the hill, you’ll find rest area with toilets and chairs. From here, you can choose the left path that will take you to a lower viewing point, or the right path that will take you all the way to the top of the hill. For sure, I chose the right path.

As I climbed my way up, I looked up at the sky and saw no fog or clouds. The star-decorated sky was more than enough to lit up an indescribable hopeful feeling within me, whispering to me that within only a few hours I’d witness a breath-taking sunrise with my naked eyes.

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The time gap between our arrival at the top of Sikunir to the appearance of that stunning strike of orange in the midst of a dark-blue sky wasn’t too far away. The moment she appeared, time stood still. The orange line then started to grow bigger and forming a circle, igniting the surrounding sky with a combination of magenta and purple. The dark blue sky transfigured to a lighter shade of blue, accompanied with white puffy clouds.

I smiled and uttered a thankful prayer. Apparently, Sikunir is listed as one of the best sunrise spots in the world, and is included as one of the five best sunrise spots in Indonesia (along with Bromo, Ijen, Borobudur and Punthuk Setumbu). Who would have thought that Sikunir, which was originally a second-option turned out to be the best spot for sunrise-watching? Our eyes were being pampered like a good session of massage and spa after being polluted with only laptop and phone screens, and smokes from old vehicles in the city for years!

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Gerson’s eclipse. LOL.

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My limited words could never perfectly describe the beautiful scenery. Hopefully some of the selected photos here will answer your curiosity. Although, if I could give you an advice, schedule a trip to Dieng with your friends and experience it yourself! The trip only cost us about IDR 1,2million per person with train (to Purwokerto) and airplane tickets (from Semarang), rented car, and a nice homestay with hot water, clean bathroom and comfortable beds! It would cost you cheaper if you eliminate the car renting cost and airplane ticket.

We left Sikunir with empty tummy, yet with hearts full of memories! Near the car park, there were some local food trucks that provided breakfast (like a bowl of warm instant noodle, and Dieng’s signature sweet potato balls).

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This trip has been such a good reminder to me that it’s never the end of the world when things go south from how you want it to be. When life slams its doors and screams rejections towards you, don’t let yourself get carried away for too long. Use it as a launching pad to seize whatever good news that will come after the dark. Who could ever predict that what was once considered as the second-best option turned out to be your ultimate memorable life experience.

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Cheers to this awesome travel companions! (Nydia, Bella, Dennies, Kevin, Praba, STP, Luis, and the other Dennis).

Write to you later,

HG. (@gersonhenry)

PS: More stories from this Dieng trip will be up in other posts (hopefully, soon)!

The Done List!

I used to be in love with my to-do list, but it turned into a toxic relationship pretty quickly. I was Gretchen Wieners, and the list was Regina George. Have you ever felt personally victimized by your own to-do list?

“HAVE YOU EVER FELT PERSONALLY VICTIMIZED BY YOUR OWN TO DO LIST?”

To-do lists aren’t bad. Goal-setting has been a major practice in my life since age 15, thanks to my mom. With these grand visions and projects set for various aspects of my life, chipping away at it bit by bit helped me maintain my sanity.

This still wasn’t enough. When I started university 3 years ago, my inner Type A evolved into a monster. I developed a phobia of wasting time, an obsessive dependence on Google Calendars, and micro-managed every detail of my life across multiple Trello boards and to-do lists.

The problem with to-do lists is that they never truly end. Even after you cross off that last item and breathe a sigh of relief, there’s always something you can add – another task, goal, project, dream.

“THE PROBLEM WITH TO-DO LISTS IS THAT THEY NEVER TRULY END.”

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In my busiest seasons, I would beat myself up for not being as productive as I hoped. My day revolved around my work/school to-do list, with no flexibility for relationships, health and personal growth. What I did was never enough.

Summer 2016 was hectic season for me. I had just returned from a semester abroad in Tel Aviv, and dove straight into an internship in the Indonesian film industry. I didn’t have a 9 to 5 routine due to the nature of my job, and it was hard to face my to-do list. The list was a tangible reminder of how behind I was on my goals.

It just so happened that I was reading John Maxwell’s Laws of Growth, which was on my reading list that summer. Maxwell stressed the importance of evaluated experience. Experience may be a good teacher, but evaluated experience is a true accelerator of growth. Not only does this allow you to assess areas that need improvement, but it also allows you to celebrate progress.

“CELEBRATE PROGRESS. CELEBRATE THE SMALL WINS.”

On August 14, 2016, I created the template for my very first weekly Done List. There are plenty of apps and tools that can help you create your own, but mine looks a little something like this:

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One of the things I love about this format is that I can visually evaluate aspects of my life that were neglected throughout the week. Let’s say I had midterms all week. The “Academics” column would be full of bullets recording my study time. On the other hand, the “Health” column may need a little love because I had traded the gym for late nights in the library.

These categories are pretty straightforward. In “Tasks”, I’ll usually jot down errands, calls and miscellaneous chores that still deserve to be recognized. Under the “Relationships” column, I’m reminded that time spent with family or friends is an opportunity to add value to the person. Using to-do lists, I used to see hanging out with friends as a distraction. With a Done List, relationships are represented as an integral part of my balanced life.

I’m still in my early 20s (just turned 21 a few days ago!), and want to achieve my dreams without burning out. For me, I’ve found that a to-do list is simply not sustainable. It’s not only important, but absolutely crucial to celebrate the small wins. Give yourself a pat on the back, and be grateful for how far you’ve come. Acknowledge growth, and reward progress. This is the only way you can continue to sprint towards that finish line.

Whether you’re building a startup, leading a team at work, or still pursuing your degree – don’t be personally victimized by your own to-do list. Give the Done List a try.

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Signing off (and adding this to my Done List!) ,

Rae. (@raesaputro)

 

 

 

Say Hi To KLTR Coffee Roasters!

Finally the owner of Koultoura, which has been one of my favorite coffee shop, decided to bring their coffee madness to the center of Jakarta! With a nicely revamped concept, they introduced a different name, KLTR Coffee Roasters, which was opened for public in August 9th. While Koultoura has always been a nice casual brunch & coffee spots for family and friends, KLTR embodies a more serious, classy and exclusive ambience that is suitable for the business people working around the area.

Located at Apartment Pavilion Retail Arcade, Jl KH Mas Mansyur Kav 24, Jakarta, KLTR Coffee Roasters is ready to welcome you with their fine selection of great foods and coffee! I got to try most of their menu during the soft-opening and the highlights for me are: the Beef Yakimeshi (with poached egg and truffle essence), Pork Ragout, Pork Ham (with scrambled egg croissant), and the French Toast (maple pork bacon with whisky ice cream)!

If you’re looking for a nice spot for lunch meeting, or you happen to work around Sudirman area, visiting KLTR Coffee Roasters this week should be a priority!

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Pan Seared Barramundi

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Crab Cake

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Beef Yakimeshi

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Pork Ragout

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Pork Ham

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Salmon Iberico

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Two Stack Pancakes

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French Toast

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Strawberry Yoghurt

 

Write to you later,

HG. (@gersonhenry)

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Congrats, Joe!

Price of Passion.

I still vividly remember my parents’ disappointed face when I told them I wanted to pursue my passion in writing for my college major instead of business major.

It was not a pretty sight.

The loneliness of being the only Asian among Australians in the class because Art degree, let alone Creative Writing major, was far from popular among my peers. Oh the frustration, when I had to quit my writing job in a magazine that I actually loved doing because the paycheque was far from ideal and had to look for other career opportunity instead.

I buried my writing dream since then for five years, as I started to work purely for good money by running my own business in fashion.

I thought I was fine living with a dead dream.

Until not too long ago I found myself completely, utterly, broken.
I was hopeless.  I was helpless.
My soul was weary.
The future is nothing but a fog.
Unfathomable dead of night that this small mind failed to comprehend.

Pursuing a passion has its price to pay.

As for me, it was depression.
Not the “OMG my boyfriend broke up with me, I feel sooo depressed” kind, but diagnosed-by-psychiatrist-and-she-prescribed-me-with-an anti-depressants-so-I-won’t-turn-suicidal-kind.

There were days when I had to swallow that tiny pill just to give me the strength, to get me out of the bed and go to work. When I woke up I wished the day would end already, so tomorrow will come and I will finally be done feeling this empty.

In that state of mind, I kept telling the universe,

“I know I’m not a child anymore and I need to grow up,
but don’t make me a dreamer if you’re just gonna crush it with harsh reality.”

I was artistically heart broken, because the creator in me wasn’t able to create.
I had some success in my business, but I was far from being genuinely happy.
People who just knew me recently, would never know the wordsmith side of me.
Because I never show them.

Now more than ever, the world tells you to pursue your passion.
“Do what you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life,” they said.

But guess what, you actually have to.

Maybe your true passion isn’t making a lot of money, but the bill needs to be paid.
Last time I checked, groceries can’t be exchanged by passion nor big dreams.
Traveling and taking Insta-worthy pictures costs you.

Pursuing a passion is hard work.

Working your arse off day and night, doing everything you can, chasing every opportunities like you chase the wind, while waiting, for that door to finally come bursting open, for your teenage dream to finally come true, it can get mind-numbingly discouraging.

But after being molded for so long in darkness, imprisoned by the uncertainty, when the time is right, the light in you will shine bright.

If you prove yourself to be FAITHFUL in LOVING what you were entrusted to DO, even if it wasn’t the ideal job that you had in mind growing up, soon enough the universe will reward you with

the right people, 
right place, 
right time,

and you will be able to DO what you LOVE.

Start with a small step.
Start with what you currently have in your hands.
Dare to hope again.
Dare to feel again.
If you’re like me, dare to write again.

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Dream on my dearest,

S. (@sashatjie)