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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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)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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)

 

 

 

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)

 

 

An Interview With Greys Polii: The Admirable Story of Pursuing Passion with Perseverance.

The girl who will be leaving 20something season in the next few weeks have been a friend of mine probably since 2009 or 2010. Sharing the same pride of being heirs of Minahasan (one of the tribes in Indonesia, located in North Sulawesi) blood, was one of the things that made our friendship flows quite naturally.

Greys Polii (Gel) has always been kind-hearted, easy going and very humble person, even though she was already a star in the national sports field, when we first became friends. From the first hang out to following each other on Twitter, and even until she finally won her first Gold Medal and ranked Number 2 in the Badminton Women’s Doubles World Rank, Gel remains as humble as ever. Nothing has changed except now that she is more mature and wise in handling challenges. That is why I decided to feature her and get some worth-sharing insights that hopefully could enrich your twenty-something journey.

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TPOB20: Who is Greys Polii in your own eyes?
Gel: 
Greys Polii career-wise she is a very ambitious and strong-willed woman who will give 200% focus and energy to make sure she got what she wants. But at the same time, she knows when and how to rest. For her, working and resting  must go hand-in-hand. In daily life, she’s a very sociable person, easy to make new friends and have high level of curiosity. She loves to learn from other people’s stories.

TPOB20: The question “What do you do” would be irrelevant to you, as most people, especially Indonesians must have heard about your astonishing achievements in Badminton. So, why don’t you share the story of how did you get into this career path.
Gel: 
Haha.. yea, there’s nothing interesting about “What I do” because I spend my days practicing and traveling for championship. I don’t have much time flexibility to do anything else outside of badminton. I’ve spent my whole life living at the dormitory with other badminton athletes, and only got to meet my family and friends during weekend or holiday.

I started playing badminton since I was only a 5-year-old kid. My mom, who was a tennis player, started to introduce me to both sports, but then I loved badminton more than tennis. We even moved from Manado (the capital city of North Sulawesi) to Jakarta when I was 8 to join a club. I remember she challenged the 8-year-old me whether I want to be a badminton player or not, if yes then we have to move to Jakarta so that I can get more serious in preparing myself to be an athlete.

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Three years later, when I was 11, I decided to get more serious in badminton and started to live in the dormitory. It was a total game-changer for me when I got separated from my Mom, which forced me to grow up independently. For me it was like the real moment where I said to myself, “This is it…” When I was 14, I started to wonder about my true calling and purpose. I realized that my life and talent is not only about being a world champion, but there’s gotta be something bigger, which is to be the best at what I do in order to inspire and bless other people.

At that moment I also had to choose which category (Singles, Doubles, or Mixed Doubles) of badminton that I want to focus on. Everyone I know (friends, family, coach) encouraged me to play in Singles or Mixed Doubles category, yet I was so convinced that I’m meant for Women’s Doubles category. When I told them that I chose to focus on Women’s Doubles, they considered my decision as foolish because Indonesia’s Women’s Doubles team haven’t won anything. China have been dominating the Women’s Doubles category for 20 to 30 years. It would be a lot easier and faster for me to become successful to play at Singles or Mixed Doubles. Although everyone I know was against my decision, I decided to continue and believed that I could make a history in this particular category.

TPOB20: How did it go? Did you ever change your mind or regret your decision?
Gel: Although the process and journey was really tough and challenging, I had never regretted or changed my mind about it.

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TPOB20: Tell us more about it. What was your biggest challenge, or your lowest point in pursuing your dream?
Gel: 
Well, 2012 was the lowest point in my life. I was 25 at that time. After 11 years of working hard and longing for a breakthrough, which is to be the first in Women’s Doubles, life decided to turn its back on me. I was disqualified at the Olympic Games for something that my partner and I didn’t do. We were accused of playing dirty in the Olympic Games and the saddest part was that we had to submit to the International Olympic Committee. The government apologized to us for not being able to help us out of the situation despite of the fact that we were not guilty. The IOC insisted that we had to bear the consequences otherwise Indonesia, particularly Badminton won’t be included in the next Olympic Games.

It was an utterly devastating experience. I felt like I’ve climbed way too high for 11 years only to be dragged down and hit the solid bottom. Somehow I lost focus and felt like the dream that I’ve been pursuing with high hopes and perseverance was totally unreachable. As disappointed as it was, I decided to quickly move on. I refused to give up and lose hope, and kept on trying until the promotion finally came in 2014, which has changed my life forever. Together with my partner, Nitya Krishinda Maheswari, won the Gold Medal at Asian Games in Korea, and we ranked number two in World Women’s Double.

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TPOB20: What are your work values that brought you here?
Gel: Perseverance and strong determination. I’ve made so many mistakes, but that shouldn’t stop me from getting back up every time I stumbled.

TPOB20: What kind of thing disturbs or angers you the most?
Gel: Dishonesty. Every one has a problem and past that they have to deal with, but as humans we need to learn how to be bold. Once we live freely in the open, being honest and transparent about our lives we gain freedom. Fear could not conquer us. People who are dishonest can’t enjoy a free live, because fear will sooner or later haunt them.

TPOB20: What kind of activity do you do to refuel your creative tanks?
Gel: 
Uhmm.. I do a lot of stuff in my spare time because I have high level of curiosity so I keep wanting to try new things: reading books, learning how to play a guitar, keyboards, taking a diving lesson, mount climbing, learning about public speaking, and other languages like English and Mandarin.

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TPOB20: What would you do when you stop playing badminton? 
Gel: Being an athlete in Indonesia is not easy. Even though we have sacrificed and gave everything for our country, once we stop our duty we are on our own. We need to plan for our lives if we want to live a life with financial freedom once we retired. That’s where I want to involve myself in after retirement. I want to help educate the next generation of athletes how crucial it is for them to manage their income, to challenge their way of thinking so that they could plan ahead, and not only live for the moment.

TPOB20: Now that you have won a gold medal, what would be your next big dream to pursue?
Gel: Definitely winning gold medal on a higher level, for example at the Olympic and becoming a world champion. Or, perhaps getting the first rank, because currently my partner and I are in number 2 of world rank.

TPOB20: Lastly, now that you are about to leave 20s, what is the perks of being 20 to you?
Gel: Hmm.. what we do in our twenties will affect our lives in our thirties. What we do in our thirties will affect us in our forties. And so on… That’s why it’s important for us not to live carelessly, because what we do today will determine the quality of our lives in the next season. I’m grateful that I have found my purpose and passion long way before I hit 20. By discovering my purpose, I now have a fulfilled life and clear direction of where I’m going.

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She closed our conversation with a simple encouragement for you who is on the run of pursuing your passion, particularly in sports: “Give the best of you in every thing that you do, especially in sports. Give 1000% focus and energy. Don’t pursue your passion and dreams half-heartedly because you will never be able to achieve it.”

Write to you later,

HG. (@gersonhenry)

 

The Flat White Culture

Hello everyone! This is going to be my very first post on this blog and let’s talk about coffee, specifically the flat whites! What can I say about Aussie’s flat white, except that it is the most amazing 6.5 ounce cup of coffee.

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Posin’ in front of Single O

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Bonnie Coffee Shop

I just recently came back from Aussie, I went to Melbourne and Sydney. Naturally when I’m in Aussie, all that I drink was their coffee. I myself love pour over coffee, whether it’s a batch brew or freshly made over V60. But then, when in Aussie, flat white is a must have. Why is that? Because it’s the best! Here’s the thing, you should know that in order to brew a good cup of coffee, there are many factors to consider.

From the altitude of where the beans were planted, the moment the beans were picked out in the farm, to the drying process, roasting and whose the roaster, then to the grinder which is actually more important than the espresso machine, then of course to the hand of the barista who pull the shots from the espresso machine, and also how the barista froth the milk.

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Patricia Coffee

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Kingswood Coffee Shop

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Reuben Hills Coffee Shop

Now, in between these important process, other factors that can produce a nice velvety cup of coffee are both water and milk.

Water and milk in Aussie are just different than the ones we have here in Indonesia, well actually the beans as well, but we can always buy the better beans. You see water and milk are something we can’t just bring back here. They delicately filtered their tap water into their machine. I heard they even do cupping for water, isn’t that extreme? LOL. Their milk contain different protein level, fat percentage, and consistency than ours here, so it gives out a different kind of sweetness in your cup of coffee. Because of all this, their flat white has unique taste. I know for sure that you can’t find it anywhere else in the world except in Aussie. Even the flat whites in Melbourne and Sydney tasted differently.

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Market Lane Coffee

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Duke’s Roaster

Let me describe the taste; first when you sip that velvety thick brown coffee it will surprise you with a nice aroma of either yummy bread or floral scent. As you swirl it in your mouth the taste will start to dance in your taste palette. Either it’s very sweet like biscuits or it’s very fruity and juicy. Then as it finishes, the after taste is clean and satisfying. Imagine that!

Not all coffee shop there serve this kind of flat whites, but here’s a few of good places where you can try for a good cup of flat white. When in Melbourne, go to: Bonnie Coffee, Duke Roasters, Proud Mary, Patricia, and Market Lane. When in Sydney you can try Single O, Reuben Hills, Paramount, Campos, and Kingswood.

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Melbourne Finest Art

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The quiet side of Sydney

I’m guessing ever people’s experience on their cup of coffee is different. For me coffee is life, I can hardly function without it and I so happen to own a coffee shop with my husband. We try our best everyday to serve the best out of what we have and we invite people to experience coffee through our coffee shop. We try to educate each customer that come into our place by giving them selections to what they want to experience that day.

So… I hope you can experience good coffee and have an awesome day!

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Meet the backside of my husband, Alfred. LOL.

Talk to you later,

SC. (@callistasarah)