I always find it comforting, to be surrounded by greeneries, enveloped by silence, only to catch the faint sounds of birds, cicadas, and waterfalls. I ran away here one afternoon a few weeks ago with a friend, Martijn. A few slices of yellow watermelons, a pack of grapes, a carton of fruit juice, and Susan Wooldrigde’s Poemcrazy book were resting nicely inside my flowery canvas bag. My head was still spinning with the beautiful words from the book. I remembered one line where Wooldridge quoted Gary Snyde: poetry has an interesting function; it helps people be where they are. And suddenly, my world was bursting with pinecones, the smell of the leaves and the wet soil, the shape of the rocks, the changing colors of the sky…
I was sitting on a rock; dipping my toes into the flowing river, while Martijn went underneath the waterfalls. I was thinking about everything that had happened in my life lately: about hellos and farewells, and how curious was it that I kept stumbling upon random people who brought ‘messages’ for me and answered some questions I have pondered upon for a while through simple conversations.
I once wrote inside my black travel notebook: what if we think of everyone we meet on our journey as a messenger? What if we don’t bump into them coincidentally? What if they were sent to tell us something, to deliver a message, a lesson… what difference would it make if we stop, say hello, glance a smile, and make that connection? Don’t you think it would make you feel like you are never alone in this world? That every step you make is another chance to learn new life lessons? That everyone of us is, in one and another way, carry ‘The Prophet‘ inside, like that of Gibran’s?
Last evening, a girl on Twitter sent me a direct message, and asked, out of the blue, “What should I do when the person I care about decided to disappear?” and I found myself typing away: just pray for them to be alright, and to be happy. Maybe I was talking to myself or hearing myself asking the same question to my other self; this could be more complicated than understanding the flower petals and Fibonacci numbers–but such ‘creepy’ or amazingly coincidental things happened more often in my life lately (oh well, I never believed in coincidences anyway). When I came to think about it, I guess even our prayers (or wishes) define who we are and how we see the world. If you do believe that prayers have such a vast amount of energy that will resonate to the universe and being echoed back to you, you would want to recite beautiful prayers, wouldn’t you?
I fell in love with Indian literature when I first read Jhumpa Lahiri‘s collection of short stories, Interpreter of Maladies. It was then that I got obsessed with Indian–and South Asian–literature in general. Soon, I found myself immersed in the works of other Indian writers like Thrity Umrigar, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Chetan Bhagat, and Raj Kamal Jha, as well as Pakistani writers, including Roopa Farooki, Bina Shah, John Siddique, and Daniyal Mueenuddin. When I landed in India mid-February this year, hitting Mumbai and the golden triangle of Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur, I got swept away by this nostalgic feeling of being at home. Everything seemed distant and foreign, yet comforting and familiar. In one and other way, India reminded me a lot of Pakistan. The two countries captivated me in an instant to the extent that I would gladly think of them as my second home. And these are the 9 things I miss the most about India, not in any particular order:
1. The beautiful buildings and architectures. Especially in Mumbai. I love the feeling of going back in time every time I look at those beautiful structures: palaces, flats, train stations, government offices, forts, temples.
2. The food. In Indonesia, I am not a big fan of Indian food. I never really liked the taste somehow–there’s always something that isn’t right. But I found myself falling in love with Indian food in India. Wherever I went, from the street-stalls to a fancy restaurant to someone’s kitchen, the taste of the food was always perfect. I loved it so much that I had no cravings for junk food at all–despite the fact that I spent 13 days in the country and passed by McDonald’s or KFC numerous times.
3. The birds. I don’t know why there are so many birds in India. Birds are flying freely above the temples, the street, someone’s backyard, and nesting right outside your window. I miss their constant cooing. I miss going to sleep at night with the sound of their flapping wings against the windowsill.
4. The squirrels. And I don’t know why there are so many squirrels in India! Just like the birds, they are everywhere: temples, buildings, streets, backyards, random trees, you name it. They are the cutest thing ever. I love them!
5. The bookshops. For someone who spent most of her money on books, India is definitely a paradise for book lovers. Compared to Indonesia, the price of books in India is very cheap. You can get a classic English book for IDR 30,000 only (USD 3)–and bookshops can be found everywhere: from the posh Khan Market area to the bustling street-side of Colaba’s night market. I bought so many books in Delhi and ended up sending them back home from Jaipur to avoid excess baggage–because they weighed 10 kilograms.
6. The Qutb complex in Delhi. Qutb Minar is the tallest minaret in India, but the complex housed several other ancient structures from that era; including Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque–the first mosque to be built in India. It was so serene–the morning when I was there–I could breathe in the glory and the divinity of what it once had been. And the huge garden inside the complex was just breathtaking. I could see myself spending my mornings in this complex, walking around mindlessly or sitting on a bench under a tree, painting, reading a poetry book, or writing on a piece of paper.
7. The city’s outdoors. I love it when you’re in the middle of the city and you can just walk by to the nearest park or a riverbank or the seaside to sit and chill. And India has loads of spots like that. From Mumbai’s Marine Drive to Delhi’s public parks, I found it charming to see people from all ages having picnics at the outdoors: couples, friends, families, some blokes… *giggles*
8. The color-burst. Those colorful saris, bangles, buildings, trucks, rickshaws, desserts… India’s color palette is extremely rich. No matter where I looked, I was exposed to those amazing colors, like a constant feast for the eyes. Immediately, it brought me back to my childhood days–to the nostalgic feeling of wonder and amusement as I opened up my first box of 32 Crayola crayons.
9. Gee. It was amazing how we got to know each other through this blog. And that we decided to meet up in Delhi. Gee, or Geetanjali Kaul, is definitely the highlight of my India trip. She is also a living proof that arranged marriage can actually work; romantically speaking. Amazing to see how–after 15 years of marriage, she is still madly in love with his husband, Ashish. Maybe wonderful souls did find each other. Gee and I spent an amazing three days together, and she took care of me like we had known each other for years. I miss her. And her best friend, Neeraj. And her mother-in-law (Didi), and her mother-in-law’s mother (Nani), and her wonderful kids Anika and Vivan. And her dogs.
I miss India.
Bogor Botanical Garden is one of my favorite places in my hometown. It’s always nice to get lost in the lush canopy of green, daydreaming by the lotus pond, or reading some good books while sitting cross-legged on the grass. Built during the Dutch colonial period by Stamford Raffles, the garden houses more than 15,000 species of trees and plants, covering an area of 80 hectares. I always love to see my City of Rain as a fried egg: the yellow part is the Botanical Garden, and the white part is the town–all around it. I went to the Botanical Garden again with Patricia, Ewan, and Vidi. It was a spontaneous decision, actually.
A few days before, I had just decided to let go and move on from something that had tied me down and made me sad. It was difficult, but like my dear friend Ollie said, we’ll get better in overcoming heartbreaks. And she is right. Being in the outdoors was good for me: laughing, walking for hours, taking pictures, telling stories, making jokes, eating out. For the first time after such a bad few weeks, I felt whole again. I felt genuinely happy and free. Suddenly the world turned beautiful once again.
In two days, I’ll be off to India, visiting Mumbai, Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur. Again, I am hitting the road, meeting people, enjoying life, reuniting with old friends, counting my blessings, and loving myself. And when people ask me how-are-you-doing, I can just give them a huge smile and say I-am-doing-great and it’ll feel so damn good because I know that this time, I am telling the truth.
Happy Valentine’s Day, lovelies!
Batik (/ˈbætɪk/ or /bəˈtiːk/; Javanese pronunciation: [ˈbateʔ]; Indonesian: [ˈbatɪk]) is a cloth that is traditionally made using a manual wax-resist dyeing technique. UNESCO designated Indonesian batik as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity on October 2, 2009.
I had always wanted to learn how to make batik. The hot wax, the tracing of the lines, the coloring, the patience… I found the process both beautiful and calming; like a meditation practice. The opportunity to learn how to make batik came to me not in Yogyakarta or Solo, but in Ubud, Bali. Adit introduced me to Pak Nyoman and Ibu Rai, who own Nirvana—a small inn/gallery hidden in the midst of Ubud’s touristy Gautama Street.
Pak Nyoman is an Ubud-born painter who works with batik, oil paint, and water color. He had been an artist-in-residence at Bondi Pavilion, Sydney and Toorak College, Melbourne, lectured at John Kennedy Hall, Guam University, and exhibited extensively in Australia, Italy, Guam, Japan, Singapore and Switzerland. One morning, together with Adit and his cousin, Uma, I spent a day in Ubud to learn how to make batik.
The very first thing to do is to draw a pattern on the cloth with a pencil. Since it was my very first time, I decided to draw something simple and playful. I ended up drawing Susuwatari (wandering soot/ススワタリ)—that appears in Ghibli’s My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away; who got curious due to a sudden appearance of a lotus.
Once the drawing is finished, we continue to the second step: tracing the lines with hot wax. Dip the “canting” pen into the hot wax and make sure the canting isn’t too full, or else the wax will spill out. Before tracing the lines, blow the tip of the canting pen to make the wax flows easier. We need to concentrate during the tracing process and keep the canting pen at the right angle to ensure that the wax will continue to flow without spilling over.
Next, a more relaxing process: coloring! Don’t mix the paint with too much water if you’d like to have a vibrant color. Uma worked on a Balinese drawing with Balinese color that day—the kind you’d be seeing in cloths sold at some small shops along Kuta or Legian street stretch; while Adit worked on something more Japanese with the drawings of a fish in a pond.
Once the coloring is done and the paint is dry, we need to go back to the hot wax. The next step is to glaze the paint (colored areas) with hot wax. We don’t use canting pen for this. We use a brush instead. Dip the brush into the hot wax, and glaze, dip and glaze, dip and glaze. You need to ensure that the colored surface has been glazed perfectly. You can check this by turning the cloth over; the spots you miss will be visible. Pandjul—the son of Pak Nyoman and Ibu Rai helped me in checking the missed spots and glazing them; while Bocil, the family dog, was waiting for us to finish with sleepy eyes.
After the glazing, the next step is to color the whole cloth. You can pick the color that you like. The cloth will then be dipped into a color solution of your selection.
And then, it’s time to get rid of all the wax in your cloth. How? By dipping the cloth into a pan of boiling water, of course!
After that, you need to put your cloth to dry… and then you can see the results. Adit and Uma’s cloths turned out seriously stunning and beautiful! They are so talented!
And this one is mine. My batik cloth: Susuwatari Spotted A Lotus :D
Would you like to learn how to make batik, too? If you’re in Ubud one day, come early in the morning to:
Jalan Gautama 10, Padangtegal Kaja, Ubud,
Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia. (80571)
Phone : +62.361.975415
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Website : http://www.nirvanaku.com
and please pet Bocil the dog for me!
I spent another week in Bali this October. The actual plan was to meet up with Adit and Ney for our #PecahdiUbud routine at Ubud International Writers & Readers Festival; but I intentionally came a few days earlier, wanting to savor Bali by myself. No wild parties, no shopping spree. I spent those days to walk around aimlessly in shorts, sleeveless top and flip-flops: eating out, having cocktails or coffee, writing, reading, and daydreaming.
And these are some of the places where I had been hiding, alone:
Cocoon Beach Club, Jl. Double Six no. 66, Blue Ocean Boulevard, Legian.
Just come early in the morning (while it’s still empty) for breakfast, plunge into the swimming pool every once and a while, and then spend the rest of your time sunbathing while reading some good books.
Gusto Gelato & Caffè, 67 B Jalan Umalas 2, Kerobokan, Seminyak
A tiny gem in Kerobokan! Located inside a small road, these gelato shop is offering the most delicious gelato I’ve ever tasted so far. And it’s cheap, too! For USD$2 or around IDR 20,000, you could have one luscious cup of gelato; and the portion is generous! Don’t forget to try the chocolate chili. Amazingly hot and spicy!
Kunyit Bali, Jalan Kartika Plaza, Kuta.
Craving for some Balinese food? Stop by at Kunyit Bali. Lovely place, good food (the crispy duck is amazingly delicious), friendly staff, cozy ambience.
Nammos Beach Club, Jalan Villa Kandara, Banjar Wijaya Kusuma, Ungasan.
Located inside the luxurious Karma Kandara resort, you need to pay USD$35 to ride an elevator down to Nammos Beach Club (the elevator ride is free for the resorts’ guests). From that particular amount, the USD$25 can be spent later on, at the beach bar, to order some food and drinks. Though it’s quite expensive, I just love the beach club. I love the service. I love the fact that you can just leave all your belongings if you’d like to go for a swim—because the staff will look after it (very important when you’re traveling alone). I love it that they have a drink called Hemingway Daiquiri.
JuMaNa Bar, Banyan Tree Ungasan, Jl. Melasti, Banjar Kelod, Ungasan.
They said you need to have a reservation first for dinner. I came at around 4:30, saying that I just wanted to chill at the bar, and then a golf cart came to take me down from the lobby of Banyan Tree hotel to JuMaNa Bar. I sat outside, sipping their signature cocktail JuMaNa Royal (champagne flavoured with yuzu essence and Moroccan rose petal water) that tastes as ‘royal’ as its price, waiting for the sun to set.
Corner Store, Jln. Laksmana 10A, Seminyak
Lovely place serving healthy meals; perfect for brunch or coffee-time in the afternoon. I fall in love with the smoked salmon bagel.
Blue Point, Uluwatu.
When some friends from abroad came to Bali, I always take them to Blue Point, Uluwatu. Nothing much to do but to chill while drinking soft drinks or beers, looking at the surfers riding the waves, and telling stories while enjoying the sea breeze. Alone at Blue Point? I’ll just sit there and write for hours.
The next morning, I was on a boat for El Nido’s famous island-hopping tour. I was sharing the boat with two couples on their first and second honeymoon. One of them is Belle and Michael, who had just got married a few days before. Their love story was just amazing: from best friends to husband and wife :’) Island-hopping is a must in El Nido. What’s great is that the local authority have managed to regulate the price for such tours (tour A, B, C and D) so you won’t be ripped off. The authority have also decided on the islands we can visit (Turtle Island, for instance, where turtles lay their eggs, is closed for public. Only researchers can land on this island after obtaining a permit).
When you pay for the tour, included in the price is the boat, guides, lunch, and snorkeling gears. And snorkeling is also a must, because the underwater view is just amazing! The clear water and the fish and the colorful corals… breath-taking! And don’t worry if you can’t swim (or too lazy to swim). You’ll have a life vest, so you can just float lazily there. If you don’t know how to snorkel, the guide will teach you how.
There are two lagoons included in the tour (small lagoon and big lagoon). To reach these lagoons, you need to swim through an opening between the cliffs, because the boat could not get in. But if you can’t swim, the guides will help you to get there. No worries. Traveling alone? The guides will take your camera and put it inside their waterproof bag, and will take pictures for you during the trip (good pictures, too!). I love the guides! And they prepared our lunch-by-the-beach, too! ^^
What’s better than enjoying lunch accompanied by such a beautiful view (and a cute dog)?
It was during lunch when I met Mischa and Julia and some of their friends. They were about to take a group photo by placing their camera on a rock. And because I overheard them speaking in Russian, I greeted them and offered them some help. We ended up conversing in Russian (well, perfect Russian on their side because they came from Moscow and could not speak English; and broken Russian on my side) and took turns taking pictures of each other.
Matinloc Shrine was amazing. It was located in a small island, surrounded by the forests and the cliffs. It was also known as Shrine of Our Lady of Matinloc or Shrine of the Blessed Virgin). The view from the top of the cliff were just awesome; it was worth climbing.
And it won’t be complete without lazying on the beach, waiting for the sun to set, and drinking young coconut water (buko in Tagalog) before heading back to town.
The photographs tell it all :)
This is my typical morning in El Nido: woke up at around 7 or 8 in the morning, had a shower, and walked lazily to the small hut in the inn’s area; had my morning dose of coffee, toast, and omelette; and sat there for around an hour—enjoying the view of the ocean and the cliffs while listening to the melodious sound of the waves.
Then I would be taking a walk by the beach, dipping my feet in the water, joining the kids who were playing catch, taking pictures… and breathing in the fresh morning air. It smelled of summer and flowers and daydream.
El Nido town is very small; you could walk your way everywhere. After taking my morning stroll at the beach, I would just wander around the streets—checking out the small cafes, still-closed bars and restaurants. When I looked up, I could see the sky and the cliffs surrounding the town.
When the sun became too hot to bear, I would just sit at a small diner in front of La Banane’s hostel—having iced coffee, juice, and cheeseburger for a quick lunch while conversing with the owner; a very friendly lady. When she saw me reading a book there while munching my cheeseburger, she said, “Why don’t you just come inside the hostel? We have a terrace there, and you can read there. Will be more convenient than reading here, and cooler, too!”
Afterwards, full and a bit sleepy, I would retreat to my hammock at the inn to read and write; glancing at this view every once and a while.
One afternoon, as I sat there, a pretty little girl came by and watched me taking pictures with my DSLR. She wanted to try, so I thought her how to snap some pictures. And then she saw me taking pictures with my iPhone, and she wanted to try, too. Her name is Maria, and we spent that entire afternoon taking pictures of the beachside.
Then her mother, Lani—who turned out to work in El Nido arranging tours, came along and we chatted for a while under the shade. She brought along a plate of Philippine’s typical jelly (she said), made of coconut milk. It was really refreshing for such a hot and humid afternoon!
Not long after, Maria’s brother, Klein, joined us and took pictures of everything, too. They are so cute—and they definitely know how to pose in front of the camera!
“There will be two couples going for island-hopping tour tomorrow,” said Lani afterwards, when I asked her about the island-hopping tour in El Nido. “Why don’t you just join them, so you can split the cost and do not have to hire your own boat?”
I agreed to that. Deal. It would be two couples on their honeymoon and yours truly, alone.
I had heard about Palawan before. But El Nido—particularly, came to me in a dream. In the dream, I was spending some time there; at a beach house; with a guy I had a crush on (later on, I found out that the guy turned out to be a jerk). But, anyway, El Nido had captured me somehow. My boss—who had been there in the 80s, also encouraged me to go there. Thus, just like that, El Nido became one of the destination for my one-month traveling journey. A week before my departure, I found a cheap ticket from Philippine Airline via Skyscanner (oh, I love this site!) and booked my flight from Jakarta to Manila and from Manila to Palawan. Two days later, I checked the weather forecast for El Nido and Palawan during the dates of my stay. The results? Rain, storm, rain, rain, storm, rain… whatever! >__<
It took around 3.5 hours to fly from Jakarta to Manila, an hour flight from Manila to Palawan (Puerto Princessa) and 6-8 hours ride on a public van (around 500-600 Pesos) or the green-yellow RORO bus (300-400 Pesos) to reach El Nido from Puerto Princessa. Public van or buses are available near Puerto Princessa airport; even if you have not booked in advance, you won’t find any trouble in getting a transport to El Nido as long as it is still under 6 pm (oh, and it seems like everyone speaks English which makes it easier for you to ask for help or directions). I took the Eulen Joy public van to El Nido that day. “Marina Garden,” I told the driver when he asked where I stayed in El Nido. And so the bumpy ride began: downhill, uphill, downhill, uphill, mountain forests, villages, mountain forests, villages, it was very similar to riding a roller coaster (apart from the somersault)—but of course, being me, I just sat by the window, put on my sunglasses, hugged my backpack, and slept throughout the journey.
I had booked an accommodation at Marina Garden Beach Resort in El Nido beforehand; via SMS (turned out it was faster to arrange everything via SMS instead of emails).
Don’t expect anything fancy from this place though the name might suggest so. El Nido is a newly-developed tourism destination, so most accommodations in this area consist of home stays and small inns (though constructions for hotels and inns were everywhere when I was there. well, there is this fancy El Nido Resorts in Miniloc Island if you’d like to go posh). In Marina Garden, the rate is around 700-800 Pesos per night. The room is very basic: bed, desk, bathroom, fan, old air-con, no television set; but it’s clean and tidy. Like everywhere else in this island, the electricity runs only from 2 pm to 6 am. So it’s best to go out in the morning and enjoy the sun!
Marina Garden’s location is very convenient because it is right in the middle of everything, including the police station (safe!), tourism office, and the rows of cafes, restaurants, and bars (you can just walk for 1-5 minutes to reach those places), plus, the departure point for the island-hopping boats is right in front of their yard! But what’s best is that they have this amazing ocean view only 10 steps away from the room; a small hut where you can have breakfast or coffee; and the hammock—my hammock (!).
Thank God I got some sunny days while I was in El Nido (don’t trust the weather forecast?)—though it was usually raining or drizzling in the evening and very early in the morning (I got my umbrella with me!). However, the mist that rose up afterwards from the rocks and limestone cliffs surrounding the small town gave such an amazing view; I could not complain.
And that was exactly how I spent my first days in El Nido: woke up at around 7, took a shower, ate my breakfast, got a cup of coffee, then retreated to my hammock to read and write all day.
I want this view from my backyard. I can get used to this.
There are only a few places I like in Jakarta: my office (seriously), the giant bookstores, coffee shops with bookshelves, the stretch of street stalls selling everything vintage in Jalan Surabaya, Seaworld and Planetarium (again, seriously), and… the Old Town area.
I love the Old Town not only because this 1.3 square kilometers area is very picturesque; but also because it reminded me of the pictures I saw in my history books. It gave me those “colonial romanticism” feeling (you know how I love to imagine myself living in a different era; the 1920s fascinates me the most).
A lazy stroll along this area is always a pleasant one. All those old buildings with beautiful architectures, street artists drawing your sketch or silhouette, tattoo stand, fortune-teller… It was unfortunate that several historical sites had been destroyed by the provincial government during the development of Jakarta, including Fortress Batavia, Gate of Amsterdam, and tram lane of Batavia (we had tram lane, once!).
I went to the Old Town again last weekend with my friend, Chris—me with my DSLR camera, running around taking pictures, and Chris with… nothing. “Who is the tourist, actually?” Chris laughed. “Yes, I am playing tourist!” I answered to that and mindlessly snapping some pictures again. Anyway, if you’re around this area, pay a visit to Warung Kota Tua. They have the best chicken noodles.
Dear ___ ,
Have I told you that this journey is different? I have decided to skip all the touristy spots in Kyiv, and left my camera at the hostel. The idea was just to enjoy Kyiv from a perspective of a local—and to spend more time connecting with people: just hanging around, laughing, talking, eating out. It was fun. It was a great fun.
From Couchsurfing, I met Kyryl and his lovely girlfriend Ieugenia.
They were such a cute couple! I had so much fun taking pictures of them both, because they were so kind and fun and affectionate and down-to-earth. They made jokes out of each other, yet you could clearly see the sparks of love in their eyes as they looked at each other (I was thinking of us when I saw them).
Together with my wonderful interpreter at TechCamp, Inna (right) and her friend Anna (left),
the five of us went for a stroll around Kyiv one lovely afternoon, practicing some Russian phrases along the way; and ended up in a small Sovyet-style diner with loads of magazines and books from the Sovyet era,
attacking a plate of Vereniki (a kind of dumpling that can be filled with mushroom, beef, chicken, etc., served with sour cream)
and drinking Kyiv’s local liqeur Hrenovuha—that was made of horseradish (smelled and tasted like one, too, with the after-effect resembling eating too much wasabi).
It was raining that evening, as we got out from the diner. Inna and Anna went back home, and I went with Kyryl and Ieugenia to Ieugenia’s apartment. “It’s a typical Sovyet apartment,” said Ieugenia. “All the apartments look the same, with the same furnitures, cupboards, stoves…”
We talked all night long on Ieugenia’s kitchen table, sipping cognac and eating melon; while listening to the government’s radio playing on the background. The cold wind was blowing from the open window and it was drizzling outside. It was such a wonderful time.
Earlier that week, at the hostel, I also met Francois—a Canadian who lives in London at the moment,
and Fransisco, a Brazilian who gets fascinated by my name and kept on teasing me when we bumped into each other (Hey, Hanny *wink* Can I call you Hanny? *wink* Hello, Hanny *wink*) and we laughed out loud every time. “Sorry, I can’t help myself. I know, lame jokes, but I just love it!” he said.
With the boys and some other Ukrainian friends, we went for a bar-hopping experience in Kyiv one night, and ended up eating chicken soup at a restaurant and spent the rest of the night conversing as we walked back home.
On my last day in Kyiv, I met Natalya Kovalienko as I walked around the artsy stretch of Andriyivzkyy in the morning. Natalya sells arts & crafts in a street stall. She is an artist; a painter—and she painted all of the souvenirs she offers: matryoshka dolls, fridge magnets, hair combs, mirrors, jewelry boxes…
In one of my letters, I told you how I was scared and nervous and anxious when I first traveling alone, because I was such an introverted shy girl, and I doubted myself a lot. I told you that often times, I wasn’t sure that I could, that I would make it. “But soon, I started to enjoy the feeling of being on my own: of making connections, of trusting people I have just met, of initiating a conversation with a total stranger,” I said.
And this was exactly how I met you. This was how you ended up in my letters and I ended up in yours. I am glad for now I can say that when it comes to us, I have no regret. No matter what awaits us in the future, we know that together, we’re awesome, and we’re great! See you in a couple of weeks!
Dear ___ ,
There was the night when I went to the Opera House (opirnih thiatr), then found myself stranded in an al-fresco restaurant with a bunch of (old and new) friends—and there was another night when I went to the Irish Pub with them and some other fellows from Kyiv and Belarus. They kind of mixed up, those nights, in my memories. I couldn’t really tell which was which. I lost my sense of time when I was traveling.
But I had a wonderful time the night after the Irish Pub; after a few days and several conversations and long walks and taxi rides and another round of conversations and a few drinks and another round of conversations and a movie… a moment that (no matter how indirect it might be) led me to us. A few weeks later, I told my friend that expectations and imaginations could become our worst enemies. We blew things out of proportion, we didn’t see things as it was; we made things up in our mind about how things should end up and we ended up getting hurt. If life is measured by moments, what’s yours: a collection of moments you’ve missed or a collection of moments you’ve embraced?
I went for coffee with Sam that morning, she was about to fly back to London while I would still be in Kyiv for another 4 days. We had a quick stroll at Marinskiy Park—where people sat lazily and read books and kissed and bought ice creams. When Sam left, I became a solo traveler once again and took my luggage to my hostel in Andriyivsky, Uzviz; located only five steps away from the turned-out-to-be-famous Lviv Chocolate (handmade chocolate shop).
Soon, I felt at home. And I fell in love with the stretch—lines of colorful street stalls where people sell arts and crafts, the way the street performers play their guitars and dombra, the music, the chatter, the downhill and uphill gravel path, those ever-smiling grandmas with whom I practiced my Russian with… I was so happy I found my eyes got teary after a while. The vibe was just amazingly lovely.
I spent most of my mornings just to walk leisurely (sometimes with my camera but more often not), and chatted for a while with some of the street-sellers and performers: a casual Dobre Dien and Dasvidanya and Spasiba, and more phrases would come out when they encouraged me… and I ended up getting some new phrases along the way. It was a great way to spend the day before I retreated at a small cafe for lunch and then locked myself in my room to write (I had a great view from the window!).
Oh, and speaking about writing, you would be surprised knowing that I had written about you even before we met.
Dear ___ ,
I went for a stroll around Kyiv that afternoon. The weather was nice; it was almost dusk. I started to fall in love with the city: the wide and clean pavements, the lovely parks, the abundance of taxis, the people…
And as I was about to reach the Independence Square, this Floral Clock caught me off guard. I was thinking about time, and whether we had ever discussed it. (A few weeks after, you will find yourself asking me what do I think about love, and I will answer to that by saying: “I-love-yous? They are moments.”)
The sun was about to set when I snapped some pictures of the Independence Square, or Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Майдан Незалежності) in Khrestshchatyk Street. The sky was so beautiful with a tint of pink and orange and purple. I stood there for a while, gazing at the Berehynia (Береги́ня) statue—the female spirit in Slavic mythology; the protector of the home, that was beautified by the fountain underneath.
As night fell, I sent a little prayer for you—for us, to those times that we would be spending together; to the chance of meeting you and to know your name and to write these letters for you. We were looking at three weeks from now, more or less. If only I knew, I would have brought you something from here.
Dear ___ ,
I survived my 6-hour stopover in Munich! It involved loads of writing on my black notebook, reading Nick Miller’s Isn’t It Pretty to Think So? for the second time, and of course: a few cups of coffee. It was bearable. As usual, I spent a fair amount of time watching people and making up stories about them in my head. I scribbled and looked up, scribbled and looked up… and I tried to sleep but I couldn’t.
Anyway, as a stopover-survivor, I reached Kyiv in the afternoon. The weather was good. It was actually the beginning of autumn, and they called it Indian summer: that time of the year when the leaves were about to turn yellow, the sun was warm and the breeze was cool, light rain fell occasionally, the temperature was about 20-25°C.
I was overly excited!
Kyiv would be the beginning of my one-month traveling journey, and it started with TechCamp Kyiv—where I’d be meeting activists and youth leaders from Ukraine and Belarus, sharing stories and experiences about crowdfunding and fundraising for a cause.
And of course, it was always a pleasure to reunite with some familiar faces and friends, with Sam in particular.
Being the sweet thing that she is, she gave me a gift from her favorite shop in Notting Hill: a jewelry box and a scented candle with the writings: Live Well. Love Much. Laugh Often. Dream Always. And I was wondering whether the universe was actually trying to speak to me.
Anyway, James came over just now and peeped into this and asked me to write “James rocks“. So, I did. You’ll meet James later on, in about two weeks I guess, according to the calendar (if everything goes as planned). I couldn’t write more with James pestering me, so… until then!
PS: What’s so neat about all this is the fact that in the beginning of this journey, I didn’t even know that I would meet you, thus I didn’t know your name, yet. We’re still so faraway from meeting each other. Are we actually time-traveling?
Taipei in the morning. The weather was nice. The sun was shining brightly—but the breeze was cool. Daud and I had to catch a flight back to Jakarta in the afternoon, so we got up very early in the morning to venture the city and be adventurous. Both of us had this urge of going to Chiufen—but as we consulted this option with the concierge, he said that it would make more sense if we went to Yangmingshan National Park and see the hot springs instead.
Our first destination was the Memorial Hall. The gate was very pretty. I felt like being thrown into an old movie all of a sudden.
Several elderly local women were there, dancing. It was probably a routine practice or something. It was fun to see them dancing around cheerily while another grandma was sweeping and mopping the floor, her head was bobbing up and down following the beat. I wish I could still be such fun when I reach their ages, dancing around in the morning, laughing, being thankful for the good weather, good health, and good life!
We spent an hour or so strolling around the complex of the memorial hall, helping a bunch of tourists taking pictures of themselves in front of the structures. One of the “tour leader” was this uncle from Penang, Malaysia—who handed us his name, address, and cellphone number, and asked us to call him up whenever we were in Penang, as he would gladly take us for a tour around town for free :)
From the memorial hall, we decided to go straight to Yangmingshan National Park, as we had only a few hours left. We took a cab and we had this gut feeling of how things would not be as smooth, when the taxi driver started to ask where in Yangmingshan we’d like to be dropped off. We had no idea. We kept saying “hot springs” and pointed to the image printed on our pathetic little map, but it seemed like none of this registered well to him. So, we decided to get off in front of what looked like a start of a hiking track, with a police station nearby. Maybe we could just ask for direction?
Not really. A bunch of police stationed there were very friendly and very chatty, but they didn’t speak English much. We pointed at the image of the hot springs again, and they moved their hands indicating that it was still very very very faraway, and told us to just get onto a bus or a cab. There were no bus or cab in sight after we stood there on the street for around 20 minutes, so we decided to walk (and maybe, hike) a bit.
That was until we spotted this sign, and thought that maybe we could skip the hiking part?
Our good luck started to kick in. A bus was coming. We hopped on, told the driver that we would like to go to the hot springs. Some exchange of words that none of us understood. And so the bus ride began.
The driver kept glancing our way from one stop to another, like asking, “Kids, were are you heading actually?” — and so, for some reason, we got off at a stop that might be the right stop…
The official we met told us that we needed to wait for another bus to reach the hot springs. Again, he said, “It’s still so far faraway.”
Daud and I found ourselves sitting on a wooden bench on another bus stop—it was actually a very comfortable one, and the view of our surrounding was actually breathtaking. But our worries started to kick in, because we had spent around 2 hours in this complex and still couldn’t reach the hot springs. We didn’t know that the park would be this huge, and we had a flight to catch in 4 hours! We waited for almost an hour for another bus, and we thought that we would just drop the hot springs search and went back to the city.
The bus finally came, we hopped in, and rode for 30 minutes or so, still we had not reached the city. The fog came down, enveloped us. Everything was white. We could not see our surroundings, we could only sense the bus turning left and right and left and right and after a few minutes of climbing up the hills, we felt that the bus descended to—hopefully, the city. The fog started to disappear, and as we glanced out of the window, we spotted the sign saying: hot springs!
We decided to check it out. After all, this was what we’d been searching for all day long! So we got off, walked a bit until we found a small inn, and asked for direction there—
only to find out that… the hot springs were not public hot springs. There were small huts around these areas that people could rent, and they could enjoy the hot springs inside this hut, in the bathtub. Argh! Luckily, we could just phone a cab to pick us up at this inn and drove us back to the city just in time to catch our flight.
While Daud was waiting for the cab inside the inn’s restaurant, I wandered around the area happily, as the surroundings were so darn beautiful. The huts were amazingly serene as well. I could imagine myself staying there for a month or so, just to read and write and have a cup of green tea in the morning while enjoying the melodious chirping of the birds.
And the area was full of butterflies…
And look at this pretty thing!
I guess, sometimes, it’s good to get lost.
As I stepped out from the hotel that evening, it was pouring outside. I fetched my umbrella and waited for a cab, hopped in, and sat with my nose glued to the backseat’s window—capturing the beauty of raindrops and city lights. It was gorgeous.
There were around ten of us that evening. Everybody had just met everybody else a few hours ago. Our Taiwanese friends brought us to this ‘hip’ mall in Xinyi District called ATT4FUN. They said there was a new Thai restaurant opening up, and we should try it because the food was so good. I know, I know, like we’re in Taipei and we’ll be eating Thai food? But, I was hungry. I needed rice. Thai food would do. The restaurant was called Bangkok Jam. And the food—yeah, it was so darn good, especially the spicy mango salad. Oh, and those chicken in pandan leaves! And the tom yam soup! And… well, apparently, I was really hungry (later on I realized that we have Bangkok Jam in Jakarta, too).
My Taiwanese friend: “Would you like to try some Taiwan beer?”
Me: Sure, what does it called?
My friend: Taiwan beer.
Me: Like, the brand?
My friend: Yeah, exactly that.
And it was (literally) called Taiwan beer, indeed. It tastes like… a beer. A beer that you drink in Taipei. Okay, I know. I suck :P
Taiwan in the evening. The occasional drizzle. The wide pavements. City lights. Such a good friend for those who would like to stroll around lazily, with nothing in mind. You could just sit on a clean and comfy bench when your feet got tired: sipping a cup of coffee from a carton cup, nibbling on some snacks, reading books, watching people. Suddenly, I felt Adele-ish.
Being me, of course, the highlight of my Taipei journey was Eslite. Imagine a bookstore that opens for 24 hours, with 7 floors full of books, stationeries, and art & craft supplies. Heaven! You could see people reading there, sitting cross-legged on the carpeted floor. Some teenagers were occupying rows of wooden desks—studying solemnly. Wait. Was this a bookstore or a library?
I found myself got overly excited and overwhelmed, surrounded by tall bookshelves lining up and books with wonderful covers from all around the world! I jumped excitedly from one section to another, flipping over some gorgeous-looking illustration books and gasped and sighed and gasped and sighed. It was just too much, that in the end I came out without buying any books. I know. I just… couldn’t make my choice in such a short period of time. I got only… 2 – 3 hours max? I mean, come on! *drenched in tears*
Coffee should ease the pain. There was this cute Starbucks counter on the street—with cartoony poster in pastel colors. Taipei was full of cute stuff and drawings like that. Just mentioned it: billboards, road signs, city maps, advertisements, posters, brochures… probably watercolor artists and illustrators stood better chances of making a living in this part of the world.
The other evening, we had seen a display of an uber-cute artistic work at Taipei 101, the landmark of Taipei that used to be the tallest building in the world.
Look at this Taipei 101 mascot, called “Damper Baby” (a 730-ton tuned mass damper that acts like a giant pendulum to counteract the building’s movement; reducing sway due to wind by 30 to 40 percent). Could you see that the mascot was actually designed out of the number 101? :D
Riding the elevator up to the observatory on the 89th floor, I sat in front of a glass wall overlooking the city, covered in fog. The city lights were disappearing. Everything was gray and white and dark blue. The open-deck on the 91st floor was closed that day due to the bad weather and the strong wind. I treated myself a cup of green tea and sat on a bench, resting my feet; then took more pictures of me with the ever-popular Damper Baby. We actually looked alike.
The night had fallen. The youths and the elders came out in couples, holding hands, landing light kisses on each others’ cheeks. Earlier that afternoon, a Taiwanese guy, D, mentioned about The Raid when he knew that we came from Indonesia. He said The Raid was one of the best action movie he had ever seen. The movie was definitely a big hit in Taipei, too.
There was this one particular evening when I got into my hotel, dead-tired, and just went straight to the bathroom for a quick shower. As I finished up, I realized how beautiful it was: bathing with the city lights twinkling around you. And then it registered to me, way too late. Wait, why did I see these city lights from the tall buildings? Oh. The bathroom had these glass walls, and apparently, I forgot to close the curtain.
I woke up to rain. To the faint smell of pandan leaves and frangipani. The sky was dark gray. The garden were glistening under the downpour. I watched the mist floating silently in the air, astounded by its ghostly appearance. A dark and wet morning in Ubud for a bunch of depressed writers. A perfect gift. When the rain subsided to drizzles, we tip-toed to the breakfast area, to avoid stepping over the offerings (banten).
Breakfast was served in a small hut next to the paddy field. The sound of Balinese gamelan, the hush of the wind, the rhythm of the raindrops, the spores of Actinomycetes. There were three of us at the table, but we did not talk much. I sipped my coffee without hurrying.
Leaving the cottage at around 10, we decided to take our separate ways. The guys went uphill, while I sat on the edge of the bridge, looking down to the mesmerizing beauty of Tjampuhan (Campuhan) river. I could spend hours just looking at the flowing water, orchestrated by the faint sounds of the birds and monkeys from the nearby forest. It was so calming, like a therapy to ignite a sense of melancholy.
Joe Forgas, a social psychologist at the University of New South Wales in Australia, has spent the last decade investigating the link between negative moods and creativity. He has repeatedly demonstrated that a little melancholy sharpens the spotlight of attention, allowing us to become more observant and persistent. Forgas has found that states of sadness also correlate with better writing samples; subjects compose sentences that are clearer and more compelling. Because they were more attentive to what they were writing, they produced more refined prose, the words polished by their misery*.
That was probably the exact reason why the three of us decided to hide in Ubud for a few days.
True, it was that time of the year when they held this annual International Ubud Writers & Readers Festival—where writers from all over the world came to this little dot on the map for a series of talks, readings, or workshops. But the festival was merely an added topping. The core ingredient of our #PecahdiUbud (“Bursting in Ubud“) journey was actually the one that Forgas mentioned.
We were looking for a place where we could savor the melancholy of being silently depressed and miserable.
Ubud was just the perfect place to do this. A small village hidden beneath the lush canopy of green, with its forests, rivers, hills, temples, and October rain, far from the beach-side’s sunny celebrations. A bunch of traveling companions who could understand these shared state-of-sadness. Those who wouldn’t mind to sit together in silence—each one got lost in one’s own thoughts: racking our brains, scribbling some notes, typing stories, reading books, or gazing out into the emptiness.
In the afternoon, after a long lunch, we would wander around listlessly—only to find ourselves took our separate ways, again. Adit went to a batik workshop, Ney went to a book discussion, and I decided to sit in a class of 15 people; clutching my Vernon God Little novel while the author, DBC Pierre, was sharing his writing experience right in front of me.
When the sadness and depression overwhelmed us, we left Ubud for Seminyak and walked under the sun until our feet got tired and our skin were burning hot. That day, we waited for the sun to set in Cafe Bali, Oberoi Street. Sat lazily on a huge couch overlooking the tiny pool and the Ganesha statue, we sipped our coffee and devoured six types of desserts to wash away the bitterness.
As night fell, we climbed back up to Ubud: the wind was chilly, the air was damp, the sky was dark. A small sliver of the moon was hanging there, looking lonely. We walked past the darkness of the museum not far from our cottage, the sound of the night enveloped us. It was the museum of Antonio Blanco—a painter of Spanish and American decent who came to the island in 1952 and fell in love with Ni Ronji, a Balinese dancer, and got married to her a year later.
My mind was instantly filled with mythical creatures, kisses and fireworks, invisible inhabitants of the past and the future, the traces of unrequited love, explosion of tears. It was that time of the year. To celebrate sadness and misery, to welcome tears and despair, to get high just by looking at the words pouring from my computer screen. “Bursting in Ubud” was about embracing all these, to wake up again in a different morning one day and walk out with my golden slippers, sunglasses, shirts, and shorts—heading to the beach with a burst of laughter.
*) p. 77, The Unconcealing, a chapter from the book “Imagine” by Jonah Lehrer.
That evening, after spending some time at Medeu, I found myself stranded in a cafe—eating some cheeseburgers and sipping Georgia wine with Zhamilya, Alex, Jim, and Sean. Suddenly Alex asked, “Hanny, is it just you—or Indonesians are all very happy people?” I have heard this kind of comment quite often since my very first day in Almaty. People were asking why I was always smiling and laughing. I didn’t realize it, really. And I didn’t realize that people actually notice. I’d like to take that as a compliment, and I’d like to say that I think, Indonesians are a bunch of naturally happy and friendly people. Aren’t we? :)
And what about the Kazakhs? Though they might not be the forever-smiling kind of people (I think it’s more about how people with different cultures express themselves in different ways), I found their hospitality and sincere friendship heartwarming. Some students who volunteered at TFCA 2012 didn’t hesitate to strike a conversation and ask questions. They’re so enthusiastic and curious. They want to connect. I found this attitude very amusing.
One of them is Bota Ilyas (her name means “camel eyes”). She volunteered as my translator for TFCA 2012 event, and we connected so well that we spent the rest of my Almaty days together.
Bota taught me Russian: ya svobodna, ya kachu parnya (I’m free, I want a boyfriend). And I taught her (and her friend Madina) Indonesian. Cowok cakep means handsome guy, I told them. The girls giggled. They said they wanted to say this phrase aloud when they spotted some handsome guys. “They wouldn’t know what it means!” the girls giggled again. Of course, when three girls spent some time together, sooner or later, they would be talking about relationship: love and guys. Bota is also very pretty—as I laid my eyes on her for the first time, I knew that she would look great in front of the camera. On my last day in Almaty, we spent half a day to do a photo session together. It was fun!
Ulan Scheff and her sister Zika Gabdusheva took me to the Museum of Arts for the French painting exhibition and accompanied me to walk around Almaty one day. Later on, I found out that they live 1 hour away from Almaty and needed to catch a bus before 9 pm. They actually came to Almaty just to go to the museum and spend that day with me. I couldn’t be more touched.
Timur (Tima) Azizov was volunteering for TFCA 2012 as well (girls, he’s still in high school, he plays piano and basketball, and he doesn’t drink). On my last day in Almaty, Bota, Ulan, Tima, and myself went to Omega Sector—the game center for teens in Almaty, and tried our luck playing Guitar Hero. None of us had played Guitar Hero before, and… well, we felt bad for everyone in the game center who were forced to hear us play :D But anyway, we could finish one song that day, and it was quite an achievement!
I felt young in Almaty, thanks to spending my time with a bunch of high school and university students! *love*
Apart from my new Kazakh friends, I met some awesome speakers of TFCA 2012 as well. They are a great bunch. I missed them much when they left Almaty. Two of them left something behind for me: a book and a strip of paracetamol.
Jim Williams who is now back in Islamabad, Pakistan, gave me his Lonely Planet Central Asia book. “Why? Don’t you need this?” I asked. “No worries. I can get one again,” he said, handed out the book. Maybe it was a sign for me to pack up my bag and do my Central Asia tour next year?
Sean Knox is my saviour in Almaty—the one who brought me some paracetamol from the pharmacy when I was down with high fever.
“I got loads of mentions in Twitter from Indonesian teens,” Sean laughed. He showed me his Twitter stream; with his Twitter handle @smk. “SMK in Indonesia is like… what? A kind of school? Indonesian teenagers keep checking in or posting stuff saying that they’re in SMK this and SMK that, mentioning me!”
Sean got me for the first time when he told me about how he had sold everything that he once had; and decided to backpack all over the world. It takes a lot of courage to do that, I believe. To leave everything behind and pack all your life in a cabin bag. Which may not be a bad option. After all, we only live once. And I am pondering over the idea at the moment.
“How did it happen?” I asked. “Have you planned this for a long time, or was it just an impulse?”
“I attended a travelers’ gathering one day,” Sean answered. “I met people who have backpacked all around the world for months, even years. And then it hit me: if they could do this, I could do this, too. And so, I left.” Now Sean is traveling across South East Asia. Last seen in Koh Tao, Thailand.
From my previous traveling journeys, I realized that the places I cherish the most are places with names and faces; places where stories and dreams are being shared with someone you have just met for the very first time; places where you arrive as a stranger and depart as a dear friend | @beradadisini
OK, are you ready for a blog-tour around Almaty, Kazakhstan today? Let’s go!
1) Republic Square. I think every city has this kind of place. You know—a spot where you can do something and have your wish granted. Or in some cities, if you drink the water from a certain well, for instance, you’ll get a chance to visit the city again. In Almaty, there’s a monument with this ‘bronze book of wish fulfillment‘ with the imprinted palm of President Nazarbayev on it. What you need to do is to place your palm there, make a wish, and… well, InshaAllah, it will come true :)
2) Panfilov Park & Zenkov Cathedral. If you know me well enough, you know that I won’t miss a chance to visit public parks. Almaty is blessed for having lots of public parks that are well taken care of, with flowers, trees and benches. Panfilov Park is well-known as the “wedding park” for the locals, because a lot of couples do their pre-wedding photo shoot here. The jewel of Panfilov Park is the ever-colourful Zenkov Cathedral.
3) KokTobe. I am a fan of cable cars, so a ride to the mountain of KokTobe was just amazing. I went there during sunset; and being able to see the last ray of sun disappearing in the sky with that wonderful orange-pinkish light made me really content.
There were loads of thing you could find in this recreational area: from people selling souvenirs to different kind of games; cafes and restaurants to roller-coaster ride. Yes, roller-coastering your way down the mountain. How cool was that!
4) Green Bazaar. Local market is always an interesting place to visit; because you can see the locals doing their daily activities, shopping for fruits, vegetables, meats, and many more. Of course, you can also find fresh horse meat here. The best thing I found in the Green Market? A kind of smoked cheese that looks like a bunch of enokitake (enoki mushroom); that can be munched while we’re sipping beer or wine. But the highlight of the day was to see Jim shopping for spices, assisted by our new Kazakh friend, Bota—who continuously asked the seller (on behalf of Jim) on which spices should be used for which dishes.
5) Medeu. This is the mountainous area where the olympic-sized ice-skating stadium was located. I went to Medeu at around ten one night with Jim and Sean, accompanied by our new Kazakh friend, Zhamilya, and her boyfriend Alex. It took us 20-30 minutes to reach Medeu by taxi. Though there were several cafes or restaurants in Medeu, we met several groups of people who actually brought their own ‘picnic’ baskets; a bottle of wine (or vodka), plastic glasses, as well as some chips and… hookah! (Alex had also brought a bottle of drinks and some plastic cups with him. Cheers to Almaty! *clink*). Apart from having a midnight picnic while enjoying the breathtaking view, you could also stroll around Medeu on the back of a horse (they have tall and huge horses here!). Medeu is really cold, so you better wrap yourself in overcoat and boots!
6) Arbat. Arbat is the most artsy stretch in Almaty, where you can find people playing instruments, dancing, or sketching. You can have yourself being sketched there as well! If you’re crazy about accessories and cute stuff, people are selling everything from lucky charms, earrings, necklaces and bracelets to cute matryoshka fridge magnet. There are several hip cafes, restaurants and boutiques here. The street is lively with youths and young couples.
7) Almaty’s Museum of Art. Consider it my lucky week in Almaty. During my stay, Almaty’s Museum of Art hosted “Treasures of France” exhibition—where they displayed French art and culture from Renaissance to this day. For the first time, about 400 works from 40 largest museums of France, such as the Louvre Museum, d’Orsai Museum, Versailles Palace, National Museum of Modern Art – Pompidou Centre, and the French National Library, are exhibited in Kazakhstan. I went to the museum with two new Kazakh friends, Ulan and his sister, Zika. The entrance ticket is KZT 500.
We spent almost 5 hours there, just looking at loads of paintings and sculptures from one room to the next. I adored the Laloue paintings and the photoworks of Henri Cartier-Bresson; they were magnetic, I kept finding myself being drawn over and over again into their works. There were also some “booths” where we could listen to some French music via headphones. Zika and me danced along to the songs from our headphones—mindless of how other visitors were staring at us doing this “silent disco”. Too bad we weren’t allowed to take pictures of the exhibition.