Tag Archives: indonesia

In response to: “Kami Cinta Indonesia. Tapi Buat Apa Kami Pulang Ke Indonesia?”

Indonesia, Asia’s sleeping giant, has recently been woken up by a man on a quest to clean up Jakarta with his straight-talk and no-corruption movement. What he is doing is unheard of in Indonesia where corruption has become part of our cultural identity, one that I abhor but at the same time benefit from.

This man, Pak Ahok, truly has the heart for the nation. He should be hailed as National Hero because he is unafraid of the “elite” gangsters and working his best to help the citizens who are unable to return him any favour. But instead he is put behind bars for deliberate blasphemy. While I can see why a Muslim can take offence of what he said but anyone should be able to tell the context of what he said was that voters should not be deceived by politicians hiding behind the religious veil and using that to manipulate people. It wasn’t a deliberate blasphemy. Besides, if someone said something negative about the bible I would defend it but I wouldn’t demand that person be locked up or cry for blood. We can have differing opinion and still co-exist that’s the whole point of democracy. Anyone with clarity of mind should be able to tell Pak Ahok has no ill-intention to the Muslim community. It’s just unfortunate that he was a marked man and his opponents were looking for reason to throw a grenade and they did.

For Ahok’s supporter, I can understand your disappointment, anger, or sadness. His sentencing to 2 years in prison is clearly a political play. How could the sentence be harsher than what the prosecutor demand for? I find the whole case just ridiculous. After the verdict, my Facebook timeline was flooded with posts expressing my friends’ disappointment and how some of them are ready to abandon their Indonesian passport or move to another country. Then I read an article of a letter by a student in Australia asking “Kami Cinta Indonesia, Tapi Buat Apa Kami Pulang Ke Indonesia?” (translate: We love Indonesia, but what for we come back to Indonesia?)

I grew up in Singapore and I’ve spent most of my life abroad. Every time someone asked if I have any intention to come back, I would say “what for?” or “not really”. I’m much more comfortable living in Singapore where rules are observed and values are sustained. In Indonesia everything is malleable. My friends say that what makes Indonesia creative and filled with opportunities but I find it just too much hassle. I like to keep my hands clean and enjoy the advantages of earning dollars, spending rupiah. Yes, I’m one of those hypocrites but if there’s anything that Ahok has stirred within me is the desire to come back to Jakarta.

Since Ahok came along I see how the nationalism towards Jakarta has improved among Indonesians around me. He brings glimmer of hope that Jakarta can be improved and become a city we are proud of, or willing to come back to. I always thought the slogan for Indonesia should be “Money is Power” but Ahok has a vision to help the less fortunate. As an idealist, I think that’s more important than thinking of how I can earn more for myself while watching the depressing news everyday and reading about the poor dying because they are denied of basic health care.

Now that Ahok is locked behind bars, the first thing that came to my mind was “Man. Jakarta need more people like Ahok to continue the fight!” We have an obligation to come back if we truly love the country. Honestly I don’t know if I love the country enough to leave the comfort of Singapore and if that’s what my calling at this point. Even if I come back I don’t know what good can I do to the country. Will I be joining a political party? If yes I need to be active? Am I willing to be active? Okay, this indecisiveness is my problem. Let’s leave it at that but I’m considering returning for good.

Ahok said “Kalian semua bisa memenjarakan Ahok, tapi kalian tidak bisa memenjarakan ide-ide saya.” (translate: You can put Ahok behind bars, but you can’t put my ideas behind bars.) Ahok may be in jail but we still have more people with his ideas. We need to rise up. We need to continue the fight. It’s time to stop mourning for Ahok’s sentence. The war is not lost. It has only started.




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“People have different ways of dealing with a situation.”

Looking at the recent terrorist attack that happened in Jakarta on Thursday, 14th Jan, and Paris on 13th November last year, the above statement could not be more true.

Parisians were in unison, solemn, in mourning but remain strong after the attack. They show solidarity among countrymen especially to Muslims who could have been the target of public’s anger. Paris inspires the World and unite us to fight against the terrorist.

Jakartans on the other hand, reacted to the recent attack in way true to their nature; with humour. The trending #KamiTidakTakut (#WeAreNotAfraid) soon deviated to #KamiNaksir (#WeHaveACrush) when someone posted a sighting of handsome policeman on duty during the incident.

Unlike Paris which has one trending social media image that was shared worldwide following the attack, Indonesia known for its strong social culture began showcasing its pool of graphic design talents via Instagram and Facebook.

Third, the livelihood in the city resumed almost immediately, except for a few that took advantage of the event to slack off work. Roadside food seller keeps on selling, passerby keep taking selfie. You can read more on why the terrorist attack in Indonesia is a failure here.

I am an Indonesian and I am not trying to diminish the impact of the attack. We lost few lives. Although the number of terrorists killed are greater, we still lost 2 innocent lives. Maybe if more lives were killed Jakartans would take the attack more seriously, but imagine if the two lives were someone close to you. Terrorism, no matter the scale of damage, is not to be taken lightly.

But I do find comfort in knowing that the attack does not dampen the spirit of Jakartans, our solidarity and sense of humor. It’s the way we heal and move on.

Yes ISIS struck us but we stood still and punched them with our spirits.

Cheers to all Jakartans,


P.S: I can’t seem to upload any photo to wordpress. :( Am I the only one?



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[#trickthursday] How To Speak Like A Local – Indonesian version

I may not be the most qualified person to be writing this and my fellow countrymen would probably condemn me for leaking Indo slangs to all you non-Indonesian speakers (No more talking in Bahasa Indonesia in secret!). Nonetheless here are a few slangs that could help you impress the Indonesian friends you have, if any.

1. Lebay [luh-bye]
adjective; excessive.

The word derives from “lebih” which means more. Hence, the lebay is a word to desribe something that beyond more, or excessive.

“Ke pasar aja pake dandan bawa tas merek segala, lebay deh!”

2. Capek Deh [cha-peh-day]
exclamation; Tiresome!

‘Capek’ means Tired. ‘Deh’ is a common sentence ending expression. When combined, it becomes an expression used to describe something troublesome/tiresome.

“Uda Jauh Jauh ke Kelapa Gading, eh tokonya tutup. Capek Deh.”

3. Alay [ah-lahy] or 4LaY
noun/adjective; someone who does things excessively, lebay.

‘Alay’ I believe first used to describe new generation kids who use numbers to type words when texting, for example -> 3x4mpl3.

“Dasar alay. Ketik sms semuanya pake angka nga jelas.”

4. Gejey [ge-jay]
adjective; Unclear.

Originate from the word “Ga Jelas” which means unclear. Gejey can be used to described unclear situation or someone whose intention is unclear.

“Dia dari tadi mau ngomong sesuatu tapi setengah setengah. Gejey gitu deh.”

5. Sakitnya Tuh Disini [sah-kit-nya-too-dee-sea-knee]
Exclamation; the pain is right here.
Important: You have to point to your heart while saying this.

This is to show your heartache to others in a dramatic way.

Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 1.11.46 am

Based on the list of slangs we have, I can conclude that Indonesian in general are animated people thus we have lots of vocab to describe a person who is excessive along with lots of dramatic gestures/expressions. Bahasa Indonesia is fun to learn due to the many slangs. I’ve not met an Indonesian who speaks in perfect Bahasa without slangs. It’s pretty interesting!

Stay tuned for more cultural tips and other close-to-useless tricks!


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[#wwwednesday] The Abuse of Domestic Helpers.

I was born in Indonesia, a country known for supplying domestic helpers to countries around the World. Growing up, I was fortunate to have at least one domestic helper living with our family. I remember fondly of the first helper who took care of me from when I was born till I was about 7 years old. She was loving, fierce when I needed some discipline and always there when I needed her. I feel like tearing up a little remembering those times.

Most domestic helpers who come to big cities or overseas, left their kids and family behind to work so that they can send back whatever they earn and hopefully help their kids have better lives in Kampung (Indonesian word for hometown). They work tirelessly and put our needs ahead of theirs because that was what they are expected to do. Of course once in a while we might encounter bad experiences with helpers like my family did, but most of them are hard-workers who gave up their freedom to serve others.

Screenshot from NYtimes.com

Screenshot from NYtimes.com

In recent years I’ve seen so many cases of domestic helper abuse and every time I read about what was done to them in foreign countries, it angers me so much. How could anyone hire a domestic helper and treat her as slave?? People like that shouldn’t even be allowed to hire one! How could anyone be so despicable to pour hot water, rape, or insults another human being and think it is alright for them to do so just because they paid whatever measly salary that is not even enough to cover the help you’re getting? Does you boss at the office pour hot water at you? NO. Will the law punish an employer who become violent in the office? YES. Should the same treatment be extended to these domestic helpers? ABSOLUTELY.

I’ve had my share of bad helper experiences but that is never a reason to treat them as less than human. We are all the same, regardless of our social status, everyone deserves the same kind of respect. If you have a higher standing in the society, all the more you should be helping those who are less fortunate. Remember these helpers are courageous souls who left their home miles away without any friends so that they can have a decent, honest job and support their family.

Let me leave you with an article from the New York Times titled“Behind Close Doors, Abuse of Domestic Helpers. I hope these images by Steve McCurry and the story they tell would touch your heart and stir in you the desire to care and help those less fortunate than us.


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What to do in Batam

Being just an hour ferry ride away from Singapore, Batam is one of the best short getaway destinations for people in the red dot city.

I’ve just returned from a day trip over the long weekend. That was my 4th time in Batam and I think by now it is suffice for me to share a little insight on what you can do in Batam.

1. Gokart at Golden City Batam.
If you’re the sporty type, you can head over to Golden City Batam for 10 or 20 minutes spin on a gokart. The ride cost around S$13 and S$27 respectively. It is a lot cheaper than the ones in Singapore which ridiculously cost S$90 for 20 minutes but of course the facility in Batam is nowhere near Singapore’s. Just remember to choose your gokart carefully. I picked a gokart that’s more like a “Bajaj” and ended up getting rubbles in my eyes as the rest sped past me. It was a fun experience nonetheless!

2. Eat Seafood.
Because seafood is considerably overpriced in Singapore, many people sail across the ocean to have seafood. Golden Prawn which is located right next to Golden City Gokart is a safe choice for tourists. However, I had a bad experience visiting the restaurant on a tour group because the food was cold by the time we arrived. I believe the food prepared for tour group isn’t as fresh because it was cooked way in advance. When I returned with my friends (not on tour group), it tasted much fresher. Another place to have seafood is at Harbour Bay. It has a great ambience but the food quality is slightly below average. It’s the trade off I guess.

3. A&W Fast Food.
Things to order: Root beer float, duo fries, chicken and Monas Ice Cream. I recommended having them twice at least during your trip; Once when you reached Batam and second time before you leave the city. You can never have too many of good things. *Drools*

Le Boy enjoying the Float.

Le Boy enjoying the Float.

4. Good Massage.
The best day to end the day is with a good massage. I recommend Eska Wellness Spa and Salon, a popular massage parlor chain. They have branches at the Megamall and Nagoya Hill Mall so it’s very convenient. 60 minutes of Stressless Body Massage cost S$19+ and 90 minutes cost $21+. Check out their website for more info.

5. Golf.
You need to go for at least 2D1N to enjoy the trip. The best is to play 2 rounds of green and include massage + shopping in the itinerary. I’ve only visited Palm Springs Golf Course and it is a beautiful course. Will definitely come back.

6. Other Tips:
a. Good idea to hire chauffeur for the day. 12 hours car rental inclusive of chauffeur cost about S$55 to S$60. It is value for money if you’re going with a number of friends.
b. For cheaper ferry ticket price, check out Carousell. I got mine for $34 and the original price is $48 if you buy at the terminal.
c. Try to go to the Supermarket because everything is cheaper in Batam.

There you go. I hope this is useful and if you have any questions regarding going to Batam, just drop me a message and I’ll try my best to help out. Cheers!


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[#traveltuesday] Jakarta – Introduction

What better way to start the #traveltuesday theme than to begin with my birthplace, Jakarta!

Jakarta is the capital of Indonesia. Indonesia is the country that owns Bali. In case you’ve never heard of it. Now you know.

Jakarta is not the kind city that will be on people’s bucket list. It is a chaotic city marks with bottleneck traffic, overpopulation, high poverty rate yet hosts some of the most laid-back, friendliest and easy-going people in the world!

We spend half our lives getting stuck in traffic.

We spend half our lives getting stuck in traffic.

If you’re ever traveling to Jakarta (most likely on a business trip or you’re feeling extra adventurous) one thing you should not miss is the noodles! Noodle houses are ubiquitous in Jakarta and each noodle house has its own unique recipe so no two places taste the same. That also means you have to try as many noodle houses as time permits. The price per bowl ranges from US$1 to US$5.

Bakmi Akong!

Bakmi Akong, a small family-run noodle house.

Of course we have many other food that are really awesome like Martabak (pancake-ish), Pempek (Fish Cake), etc. I don’t understand why Jakarta has not become a food destination. Okay, maybe the poor infrastructure and horrendous traffic is a big tourist-proof. Nonetheless, Jakarta is definitely a city that welcomes travelers!

IMPORTANT: When taking taxi you must only hail for BLUE BIRD. You have to make sure the word “Blue Bird” is on the cab because not all blue cab with a bird logo belongs to the company. Yes, Indonesians like to trick you like that.

Other than that, enjoy the warmth of its people, depth of its cultures and the glorious food!

Processed with Moldiv


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Bali Travel Journal part 1: Hello Sunshine!

Believe it or not, I’ve met people who don’t know where Indonesia is and when I asked, “You know Bali?”, their eyes gleamed in enlightenment. I reckon Bali is more famous than the country it belongs to and that’s no big surprise ‘cause Bali is not like anywhere else in Indonesia.

I just got back from a 3-Days 2-Nights short getaway to Bali. My sister and I went on a one-day beach tour and beach hopped to some of the most beautiful beaches in the island. I’ll tell you more on the next post and give some travel tips for those who plan to have days under the Bali sun. Before I do that, I’m gonna show you some of the places I went to. Here’s a compilation of some photos taken during the trip. Cheers! :)

Song by David Choi & Kina Grannis

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