Notes From a Homesick Heart

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I can’t even begin to find the words nor contain the excitement of writing my first post since moving to Australia. I know I’ve been on a long hiatus but all this moving and settling down have been keeping me so occupied that I didn’t have chance to blog much about the whole experience as it was happening. Today marks exactly one month since I moved here as well as the anniversary of Indonesia’s Independence Day and seeing all these posts about celebrating the big day back home, I couldn’t be more homesick.

As great as it has been so far, I won’t lie – moving here from Indonesia, leaving my family and friends behind, was gut-wrenching and has been one of the scariest yet most exciting things that has ever happened to me. I didn’t realize how much I could miss home up to this very day. I spent the whole afternoon looking at the photographs and videos that we took on our last family getaway, browsing for Indonesian food recipes, and actually listening to different versions of our National songs on Spotify. So here’s a little note from my homesick heart.

I’m sorry for all the times I called you boring and lame. I didn’t see that there will come a day where I would miss your cracked sidewalks, your local cafes where I spent most of my Friday nights at, your endless summer warmth, and the faces of people who call you home. You gave me so many wonderful memories and friendships to last a lifetime. It’s safe to say that my fondest memories are locked behind those walls of my high school classrooms and my beloved alma mater Universitas Indonesia. I miss all the random movie nights and going to our go-to ramen place cornered at a gas station near home where my friends and I would always end up at whenever we ran out of places to hang out at. We would stay late and had countless conversations about how the future would unfold or simply reminiscing our high school days.

You gave me the loveliest paradise and trips of a lifetime. You still have the most beautiful beaches and sunsets I’ve ever seen, the most gorgeous paddy fields, and the most diverse of cultures I’ve ever experienced. I promise to explore a lot more of you whenever I’m home. Although you’re not always a pure bliss (I still don’t think I can cope with your traffic jams), I can never express how much appreciation I have for what you have brought to my life. We all grow up and move on, but that doesn’t mean we forget where we came from. Because no matter where I end up or where this crazy world takes me, you are and will always be home.

Dirgahayu Indonesia. You’ve come so far and even further you will go.

Ps. Looking forward to eating my way through Pesta Rakyat this coming Sunday and celebrate Independence Day with all fellow Indonesians.

Summer Bliss

This week has already been a series of bad luck; starting from a major accident that I got into on Monday morning (which I’d rather not talk about), an ugly allergy reaction and the nasty flu that caught me after. All of this only leads to my organized plans falling apart including work and a medical check-up appointment for a student visa that had to be rescheduled until after I fully recover. I usually get stir crazy after being in bed for more than a day, but I made the right call and opted to get the rest I needed.

Since the days pretty much forced me to stay in my pajamas and bed all day, I decided to try my best to stay positive and reminisce about a picture perfect weekend spent on an island getaway last week. I posted some pictures and videos up on my Instagram and Snapchat, which surprisingly led to so many people commenting and personally messaging me to ask where I went (half actually guessed Bali in the first try). One wouldn’t guess that only two short hours by speedboat from the bustling city of Jakarta, you’d find such a gorgeous and pristine place. Tiger Island, or Pulau Macan as they call it, is a true hidden gem and even that is an understatement.

The accommodation (we were in the Island hut) was the most romantic I ever stayed in with a deck and stairs over the sea. At night we laid down on the deck stargazing for hours and in the morning we got out of bed, stood by the sea and watched the sunrise. One of highlights of the trip I must say was the little island hopping adventure I had with my siblings the next day. At the crack of dawn, we took a little paddle boat out and rowed our way to a nearby island. There were no people occupying it and it was just the three of us snorkeling and swimming on the beach where warm sands meets crystal clear turquoise water. It was so calming and serene that we simply didn’t wanna leave. There were plenty to do – and not to do – involving a lot of soaking in the sun, listening to my Spotify summer playlists (mostly by Kings of Convenience), and taking lots of naps.

While this may or may not be my last official family vacation before I’m leaving for Australia in just the count of days, I’m glad that it was such a bliss and filled with beautiful memories to look back on. Looking forward to sunnier days and recovering real soon. Have a great week.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetThis epic cold has me missing sunny days

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetOur eco-friendly hut with no air-con. But who needs one when you have the sea breeze?

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetA private deck to our own side of the beach

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Because if you’re not barefoot then you’re overdressed

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What every morning should be like if I had my way

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Paddled our way across to this breathtaking (unoccupied) paradise and was worth all the sunburn

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My absolute beach essentials (minus my SPF 50 sunscreen) 

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Irresistible naps after mornings spent lazing in the sun, swimming, and snorkeling

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Then waking up to this, I could really get used to.

Processed with VSCO with hb2 presetTo say I fell in love with this place is an understatement because no words or pictures could really do the place justice

A Day in Bandung

A few weeks ago I went for a little getaway to Bandung with 2 of my girlfriends, which I wrote about in this earlier post. So this video pretty much summed up our trip including all the foods and sight-seeings we managed to squeeze in a day in Bandung. Now that we’re officially on break, it just reminds me of how much I miss their silly company and what a lovely day it was to look back on. Desperately need to have something planned out real soon. I hope you check it out and give it a thumb up.

 

New Sport: Rock Climbing

One of the things included in my summer to-do-list was to try a new sport and rock climbing has been something I’ve been dying to get back to. It just so happened that a new indoor climbing facility recently opened up in the neighborhood and this week I finally had a chance to check the place out. Rock climbing was actually something I did regularly with one of my cousins when we were little (there used to be a climbing facility in a mall’s parking lot in Jakarta but got shut down when I was about 10), so while it doesn’t exactly fall in a new sport category, it was definitely something I was excited (after nearly 10 years) to get back to.

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So I went to check the place out with a friend of mine and the space was in fact a lot bigger than expected. It was just us at first but then there were some intense people training there while we really just played around. There were all kinds of walls to climb on, including walls for traditional climbing, top roping, and bouldering. We first threw on our climbing shoes and harnesses, and learned about the basic techniques of rope-knotting and climbing.

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I must have genuinely forgot about how challenging this sport was, because I fell short on the first try. The hardest part is personally not the climbing itself, but the constant thinking of your next step and planning ahead. Although, it does involve a lot of legs and upper body workout. A lot of times I would get myself all twisted up and I would have to really stop and think the next step through in order to unwind myself and climb on. I also found it really tempting to just repel down instantly whenever I look down and realize how far I’ve gone up, so words of encouragement from my friend and instructor played a really big part in topping my every climb.  It was both physically and mentally exhausting but at the same time satisfyingly rewarding once you reach those tops. We were beyond drained at the end of our climb but definitely looking forward to come back again!

Strangers That Turned Into Family

I’m so stoked to be back from finals and with a ton of pictures and stories to share. Today marks the end of my 4th semester as well as my last day in University of Indonesia. Don’t get too excited, I’m still far from graduating itself but as I’ve mentioned a couple times before, I’m transferring to Australia this July for my double degree programme (If all goes well, Amen) . These days time seems to just fly by and although I’ve been looking forward to today for as long as I could remember, I simply freaked out when it hits. The fact that I’m already halfway through uni itself seems like a bit of a brain-jumble. I think I’m supposed to say some cliché quotes here about how time flies when you’re having fun and all, but the days run away. They really do.

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Much love to Z for our almost matching off-shoulder topsIMG_7769

As I’m writing this I’m trying to throw way back to the first day the 15 of us sat together for a class. It was somewhere in early September 2014.  I remember looking at all of these new faces, having a hard time recalling half of the class’ names (because I naturally just suck at names), and simply carefully avoiding awkward conversations. But in between our long sleepy lectures, our Thursday lunches, our unquestionable “teamwork” performance from homeworks to finals, heart-to-heart convos, and our dumb inside jokes, I looked around and are just struck for a moment at what a family these once complete strangers have all become.

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Growing up, we make all different types of friendships.When I was younger, I put more emphasis on the amount of friends I had and whom I was friends with. But as I’ve gotten older, I truly value having a smaller, but closer circle of friends. Ones you can really trust, make new memories with, and constantly provide you with love and support. In essence, my #squadgoals are modest. And this right here, is one pretty damn good example.

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Our last full team lunch at Blue Jasmine at The MajaIMG_7726Chemical Engineering International Class of 2014, University of Indonesia

The Bare Necessities

Yesterday I was just scrolling through my Facebook timeline when I spotted my friend posting on his wall this quote that reminded me so much of my childhood. It’s from Baloo from The Jungle Book, which 3-year-old-me used to watch all the time (besides my crazy obsession with Dumbo and The Lion King). This Disney classic told us a story about Mowgli, an abandoned child raised by wolves, who fled the jungle after a threat from a tiger. In the quest, he was accompanied by Bagheera the panther, and the carefree bear Balloo as he braves the jungle’s many perils. The life-action remake of The Jungle Book directed by Jon Favreau recently made its way to the cinema, in which it loses the songs but brings new, ingenious twists on the original.

Jungle-Book-Baloo-9 “Look for the bare necessities. The simple bare necessities. Forget about your worries and your strife.” Thanks for the reminder, Baloo. You big lovable bear.

I guess we never really grasped when we were kids, just how deep Disney movies are. We were too occupied with the silly songs, hilarious sidekicks, and princesses finding their happily ever afters to realise there are some seriously touching moments in so many Disney movies and lines that are incredibly moving that most people can relate to.  I can’t even get started on here, I will be typing for hours on how much I miss the classic Disney movies I had growing up. So here I’ve rounded up 8 of my favourite funny, life-changing quotes from my favourite Disney movies of all time, just to keep your chin up, and for old times’ sake.

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“Oh yes the past can hurt. But you can either run from it, or learn from it” – Rafiki, The Lion King.
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“Cheer up, child. It’ll turn out all right in the end. You’ll see.” – Mrs Potts, Beauty and The Beast.
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“Do not be fooled by its commonplace appearance. Like so many things, it is not what outside, but what is inside that counts.” Aladdin, Aladdin.nemo
“When life gets you down do you wanna know what you’ve gotta do? Just keep swimming!” – Dory, Finding Nemo.
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“You must not let anyone define your limits because of where you come from. Your only limit is your soul.” – Gusteau, Ratatouille.
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“The very things that hold you down are gonna lift you up and up and up!” – Dumbo.tangled
“Venture outside your comfort zone. The rewards are worth it.” – Rapunzel, Tangled.
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“If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together, there is something you must always remember: You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart, I’ll always be with you.” – Winnie The Pooh.

Birthday Weekend Getaway

The last time I visited Singapore was nearly two years ago, when I stayed with my best friend in town for a few days on a short summer getaway. It was somewhat a farewell trip, a few months prior to her moving to Adelaide. My trip this time was almost spontaneous, considering everything was booked only two weeks before. I actually had a lot of conflicted feelings about leaving right before my exam, but after a string of particularly challenging weeks, I simply needed something relaxing to look forward to. Plus, it’s my birthday and that should be good enough excuse – no pun intended.

I’ve always loved the energy of the city – the dynamic mix of cultures, ideas, and histories – sparklingly savvy with a touch of old school. From the bustle of Orchard crossing to the off-the-beaten track neighbourhoods of Haji Lane, the city is a cultural melting pot – a blend of old-world and new architecture. I intentionally left my schedule open, to accommodate for those leisurely afternoons that I’m usually too busy to enjoy. I was able to arrange a spontaneous meet up and watched Batman V Superman together with a couple of friends, and going to church for the Holy-Week Mass. But the highlight of the trip I must say was the casual afternoon picnic we had at the Singapore Botanic Gardens to celebrate my birthday. The weather cooperated wonderfully and we just sat down by the lake for hours – finishing our chips and boxes of orange juice. I truly wouldn’t have spent the day any other way.

I anticipated the typical post-vacation letdown to hit as soon as we got on the plane back to Jakarta. But gladly, that wasn’t the case. The quick getaway has helped me hit my reset button, and I came home with a renewed sense of energy and positive vibes. I wish I never had to end it, but here’s a glimpse of our 4 days in Singapore.

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My window seat series no. 33
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Evening spent after movies with friends, waffles, and a few glasses of winethumb_IMG_6425_1024
Old-town buildings featuring beautifully broken walls
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One of the many vintage boutiques in Haji LaneProcessed with VSCOcam with a6 presetPlaying tourist for the day, from one vintage shop to the next
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Orchard bound after a Good Friday Mass where we basically shopped till dropped
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Look who barged into the room & showered me with kisses right when the clock strikes 12IMG_6462
My first bizzare wish-list as a 20 year old: Have Jollibee for breakfast
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The charm of Chinatown that is impossible to miss
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Strolling around the park trying to find the perfect picnic spotthumb_IMG_6583_1024
H&M dress, Kate Spade pouch, Bonia vintage wrist watch, Vans Canvas Authentic (True White)thumb_IMG_6582_1024Chocolate ganache cupcake for a birthday cakeProcessed with VSCO with a4 presetThank you for the cupcake, and for eating them too. I’m lucky I got left one bite.
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I don’t know how you guys do it, but thank you for putting up with me for the past 20 years. 
Processed with VSCO with hb2 presetOne of my absolute favorite spots at the Singapore Botanic Gardens
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Hanging out at Changi before flying back home

Thoughts on Turning 20

I love having something to look forward to. It keeps me sane on the most tedious days to have something to be excited about. I’ve been looking forward to this day ever since March arrived, and I finally (drumrolls) turned 20 last Sunday. I love birthdays because I get to be showered with kisses the moment I wake up, and this time around, I was delighted to spend it on a long-weekend getaway in Singapore with my family. I was running a bit of a fever on the night before I left, but luckily recovered once I landed in Singapore. I think it was merely the fact that I got to step out of my routine and to spend the birthday weekend with my favourite ones, which cured me so quickly.

IMG_6632.jpgCelebrated my birthday picnicking at the Singapore Botanic Gardens

My thoughts on turning 20 so far:  I know I may look back on this post a few years from now and laugh hysterically at how big of a deal I’m making this about, but I do feel like turning 20 is such a huge milestone, which I’m somewhat still in denial about. I’m pretty sure this has something to do with my double-degree transfer in a few months time (I’m moving to Australia in July!), but I feel like the older I’ve gotten, the more I appreciate the times spent at home. I’m definitely not looking forward to having a homesick-crisis in the middle of my semester and begging my mom to pay a visit. I’m (hopefully) sure this is all just temporary.

I’ve had my share of second thoughts about transferring to Australia, mostly for the fear that I wouldn’t be able to fit in. But turning 20 made me realise that you’re only ever going to be this young once.You get older by the minutes, and it’s absolutely critical to push the boundaries out of your comfort zone. I’ve realised that opportunities that scared me most are usually the ones that are going to result the most impactful change, and that they don’t easily come every day.

So this year, and in my 20s in general, I look forward to taking more risks, tackling more challenges, be happy about my consciously-made decision to move, pushing past my comfort zone, meeting new people, exploring new places, focusing on myself and simply letting go of the past. I’m starting to accept what all the clichéd Instagram quotes say: Where you are in life right now is exactly where you belong. Sometimes you have to stop worrying, wondering, and doubting and have faith that things will work out. Maybe not how you planned, but just how it’s meant to be.The past months haven’t been the easiest, but I’m glad that it led me to where I am today. I feel content, loved, and blessed and there’s truly nowhere else I’d rather be.

Back From Hiatus

It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged thanks to an epic flu I had just recovered from and I’ve been craving to be back at my keyboard and typing my thoughts away. I just got back from a short trip to Surabaya to attend one of my relative’s restaurant opening and it was nice to just get away from school works and all the stress for a few days. Unfortunately, I’ve got to stop procrastinating and catch up with all my deadlines for the upcoming week. Midterm exam is in 2 weeks and I am the least excited.

On a brighter note, spring is here and it’s meant to be refreshing and a feast of blossoms. Here’s some Spring-snack recipes I’ve been excited about tackling as the season unfolds.

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Joy The Baker: Banana Milk Chocolate Weekend Pancakes

Joy said in her blog post and I quote, “welcome to the weekend where there’s time enough for pancakes and reason enough for chocolate inside of them.” I hope you allow yourself at least one lazy day this weekend where you wear you pajamas so long into the day it doesn’t make sense to change out of them.  Add homemade pancakes and that’s real, deep luxury.

carrot-cake-cinnamon-rolls-I-howsweeteats.com-2-2.jpgHow Sweet It Is: Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls With Mascarpone Icing

There is breakfast. Thus, there is a breakfast dessert. Craving for something sweet with just a healthy hint of veggies and vitamins so you won’t feel as guilty after eating it for the rest of the day? Carrot cake cinnamon rolls to the rescue. I guess. I’ll let you know if this one works out.

49f7082697a3d7105b5aa848985971b1.jpgPinch of Yum: Turon (banana lumpia) with caramel sauce

Born being a half-bred Filipino, yet it took me 18 years to visit the Philippines. Early last year I went to visit this beautiful country and fell in love with the local cuisine, except for Balut (don’t even ask. Google for yourself). One thing I couldn’t stop eating was Turon. What is it? It’s a deep fried Filipino–style spring rolls with sweet banana fillings. It’s more or less a pisang goreng (a similar Indonesian snack) but smaller in size and usually comes with caramel sauce for dipping. If you’re ever in The Philippines or happen to have a pantry full of sweet bananas, it’s only a must to give this Pinoy dish a try. I’ve been intensely craving for it and looking forward to making a few dozen(s) with my grandma this weekend.

Quiet Reflections

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To say that these past couple of weeks have been tough is simply an understatement. Some days just plain sucked. Days where I was feeling resentful, bitter, and angry, and wanted to (at least mentally) curl into a ball or watch chick flicks for the rest of the afternoon. The whole thing had easily spiralled up into a pity party for one and it turned me into this one gloomy, miserable mess.

So a few days ago I decided to talk to a good friend of mine. Not exactly one of my “closest” friends, but certainly one of the wisest. I’m grateful for she didn’t try to sugar-coat anything or say things I wanted to hear, but all was just what I needed to. She sent me this: At some point in life you will realize that you have tried so hard, done so much for someone, that the only next possible thing to do is to stop. Walk away. It’s not like you’re giving up and it’s not like you shouldn’t try. But you tried your best and what is truly yours will eventually be yours, and what is not, no matter how hard you try, will never be.

Then today, just 10 minutes ago to be exact – before I jumped out of bed and grabbed my laptop to jot this all down – it hit me. I realized I was too focused with this picture-perfect idea that I have in my head, I felt blindsided when things turned upside down. I knew I saw it coming, and I thought I was ready, prepared for the worst – but never really were.

So today I choose to let go.

The key of letting go is to forgive yourself first before all else. Forgiveness is letting go of the past. And trust me, I know it’s easier said than done and forgetting is a way harder fight. But the truth is as simple as this: you can’t move forward looking backwards (Believe me, I tried). And letting go doesn’t mean that you don’t care about someone anymore. It’s just realizing that the only person you really have control over is yourself.

So thank you. Thank you for the good laugh, the lessons, the good memories and the bitter ones. For showing me patience and compliance in the most genuine way. Thank you for constantly reminding me to move on lightly and happily, even at times when I couldn’t believe in myself.

Cliché as it sounds, I learned that it’s okay not to be okay, because life’s balanced that way. It’s a bittersweet reminder that sometimes you have to stop worrying, wondering, and doubting and just have faith that things will work out in the right place, at the right time.

x, Amanda.