Total Pageviews


Wednesday, June 12, 2024


Here we are, seven years and counting. I finally made it to the 505th blog post on Roadblog101. The last time such an achievement unlocked was back in October 2021. Almost three years ago. It was during COVID-19, when things were bleak. But just like year 2020, a lot of reading was done, though.
And a lot of things had changed since then. Life returned to some semblance of normalcy in 2022. I'd remember it as the year I finally visited India. In 2023, a long overdue dream came true when we went to Japan. And 2024, as the story continued to unfold, had been one great adventure for the past six months. 

So what does all this mean to It means quite a fair bit of things, really. It means acceptance, to be comfortable with its role as an outlet and a hobby as it is heading to its eighth year. It's not about churning out tons of blog posts anymore, but more of a freedom of being able to write when I'm inspired. 

And I still get inspired. Funny how life is never lack of something new. Even at this age I still have much to learn. For example, I was surprised by recent trips to Phuket and Ipoh. They were nothing like what I had done before and I like it. If I had to sum it up, they were unusually casual

Talking about the word new, during my visit to Taipei, I came to realise why I always like travelling to new places. There is this sensation of something new and foreign that will make you disoriented at first, because you feel so alien in an environment you know so little about. I thoroughly enjoyed the excitement of being unsure and overcoming it. 

For instance, when I arrived at Taipei Main Station late at night, I had to look around and absorb as much information as I could from my surroundings and Google Maps, then acted on it partly based on instinct. After a while in Taipei, things became more familiar and I eventually got the hang of it.

And that's the thing with, too. There'll always be something new that I go through and I will need an outlet to note it down, share it out and move onto a new experience. So, yeah, I think the blog is here to stay. See you again, probably in another few years, on Roadblog606...


Setelah tujuh tahun lebih, akhirnya kita tiba di artikel Roadblog101 ke-505. Terakhir kalinya peristiwa serupa tercapai adalah bulan Oktober 2021. Hampir tiga tahun lamanya semenjak itu terjadi. Saat itu COVID-19 dan suram suasananya. Namun sama halnya seperti tahun 2020, banyak buku dibaca di tahun tersebut. 
Dan banyak hal yang sudah berubah setelah itu. Hidup berangsur-angsur kembali normal di tahun 2022. Saya akan selalu mengenangnya sebagai tahun di mana saya akhirnya mengunjungi India. Di tahun 2023, satu impian yang tertunda sejak 2020 pun terwujud ketika kita tiba di Jepang. Dan tahun 2024 yang masih berlangsung ceritanya bisa dijabarkan sebagai satu petualangan yang berlangsung dengan baik dan lancar selama enam bulan terakhir. 

Jadi apa artinya semua ini bagi Bisa beraneka makna, saya kira. Yang utama adalah penerimaan akan perannya sebagai penyaluran dari sebuah hobi yang kini bergulir ke tahun ke-delapan. tak lagi harus menelurkan artikel sebanyak mungkin, tapi lebih merupakan sebuah kebebasan dalam menulis tatkala saya terinspirasi. 

Dan saya masih terinspirasi. Lucu rasanya bahwa hidup ini tidak pernah kehabisan sesuatu yang baru. Bahkan di usia menjelang 44 pun saya masih banyak belajar. Sebagai contoh, saya tertegun dengan liburan ke Phuket dan Ipoh di tahun ini. Dua liburan ini berbeda dengan apa yang saya jalani selama ini dan saya menyukainya. Jika saya harus menyimpulkan, rasanya seperti sebuah pengalaman santai yang tidak lazim bagi orang yang bepergian ke luar negeri untuk liburan. 

Bicara tentang kata baru, saat saya di Taipei, saya menyadari kenapa saya suka bepergian ke tempat baru. Ada kesan disorientasi karena saya merasa asing di tempat yang sama sekali baru dan tidak saya kenal baik ini. Saya suka perasaan suka-cita yang diiringi dengan ketidakpastian dan juga proses mengatasi semua ini.  

Misalnya saja, saat saya tiba di Taipei Main Station di malam yang telah larut, saya harus mengamati sekeliling saya dan juga mencari tahu lewat Google Maps, lalu mengambil tindakan berdasarkan naluri. Setelah beberapa lama di Taipei, saya mulai mengenal apa yang terjadi di sekeliling saya dan bisa beradaptasi. 

Hal serupa juga otomatis terekspresikan lewat Senantiasa ada hal baru yang saya alami dan perlu saya tuangkan supaya saya bisa beralih ke inspirasi berikutnya. Jadi saya rasa akan terus berlanjut. Sampai ketemu lagi beberapa tahun kemudian di episode Roadblog606... 

Saturday, June 8, 2024

Singapore Trip 2024

It really has been a while for yours truly, Simon Parno Bong. I never thought of going to Singapore for the fourth times after the Japan trip in 2023. I thought I was grounded for good, but my friend Anthony insisted that I had to go there, taking part in Drinking With Eday. The annual tradition had been going on for a decade, so it was quite a milestone!

Two days before I went to Singapore, I did say to my Mum that I would meet my friends in Singapore. She responded by telling me to wear a nice shirt, hahaha. 

The journey happened to be a long one. The day of my departure, I still opened my shop. Later on that day, I bought yammie, a special delicacy from Pontianak. When I reached the Supadio Airport, I directly went to the gate, but the officer stopped me and he demanded to see my boarding pass. Silly me, so I rushed back to the counter and tried checking in for the flight to Batam. Much to my surprise, I was told that there was no flight to Batam! 

Boarding pass to Jakarta. 

I was redirected to the ticket office. There, the officer in charge told me that I could still go to Batam via Jakarta. Upon hearing that, I felt extremely disappointed, contemplating if I should cancel my trip. I texted Anthony and he said the show must go on. I could imagine missing the last ferry to Singapore and therefore spending a night in Batam. With a weary heart, I boarded the flight to Jakarta. 

When I landed in Jakarta, I ran to the gate to catch the flight to Batam. The boarding time was 21:55 and I touched down in Jakarta at 21:35, so I couldn't help thinking that I was going to miss my connecting flight. Turned out that the flight was delayed, hence my effort was wasted, haha. As I sat there waiting, I became hungry. Bought a bread and and pre-heated rice. When I read the group chat and saw my friends worrying about me, I told them I was okay.  

One night in Batam. 

I eventually reached Batam in the middle of the night. Quickly rushed to the hotel, but before I retired to my room, I asked the receptionist to help me putting the yammie in the fridge. Since I had lost so much time, I wanted to take the earliest ferry to Singapore. By the way, it was 00:55 when I dozed off, so I only slept for three hours. 

Early in the morning, I took the Maxim bike ride and headed to Batam Centre. It was literally smooth sailing and I had no issue entering Singapore. But Anthony and friends didn't pick me up this round. As I wasn't sure where to go, I kept walking by following the signages. To make it worse, the internet on my iPhone didn't work. I was upset, tired and angry. I was desperate for a good connection, but it sucked big time.

Suddenly Anthony called me and advised me to buy a one way ticket. I asked the information counter, but the one way ticket was no longer available. I had to buy a card with five dollars stored inside, so I did exactly that and took the MRT. For a while, I thought I would be stranded in Singapore, haha. 

Reaching Anthony's house. 

In Sengkang, on a wet rainy day, Anthony called and guided to his house. When I arrived there, I was so overwhelmed by tiredness that I lashed out at Anthony and Eday for sitting at home and enjoying their coffee leisurely! Ahh, what a day, but it all paid off with the party we had that night! It was the first time I vomited after drinking too much beer. 

"I won't drink anymore..."

Anyway I am thankful to Anthony, Eday, Yardi and his two daughters, Landak, Taty, Rend, Mr. T and Mei Ing. Thanks for the unforgettable night that I will always remember!!

Drinking With Eday.

Editor's note: editing Parno's work has always been fun but challenging. Below here is a diamond in the rough. Literally!

Its been a while for me as simon parno bong i never thought to go to Singapore for the fourth times well after a japan trip exactly in 2023 , further speaking i thought i was grounded for good but eventualy my friend anthony insist me to go there just for a drink with eday ng for a dacade of memory to remain therefore anthony n friend did persue me to go sg haha 

      Well 2 day before i went to sg , i did said to my mom that i will to meet my friend to sg haha she said ware a good looking shirt hahaha , the long day has come for me to go sg ,the day i depart to sg , i still open my shop thought later i bought yammie a special delicasy from pontianak , n so i arrived at the airport i directly go to the the gateway but the officer stop me n demanding a boarding pass how clumsy i am n then i rush to the ticket to queqe but when i mention a boarding pass ptk batam please, the officer said there no plane to batam today , then he told me to go to that counter n ask explanation he said you can go to batam but must transit to jkt first n then go to batam after hearing that i feel desperate i thought should i cancel my trip ? N i text anthony reply go on ! Wahaha i smile i gonne miss my ferry to sg n ask again what time i be at batam he said 9 pm! What i said i will have a night in batam!! There no other choice i obey the rule with a tired heart go to the gate for boarding to jkt ....

     After i reached jkt i was so in the rush to transit to batam that boarding time is 955 cos the time i touchdown in jkt is 935 so i was so desperate i gonno miss my flight , after rushing to the mentioned gate i was there n find out the flight was delayed i kinda wasted my time on rushing to here , hahaha n sitting there make me hungry n i buy a bread n microwave rice that just like in plane ahahaha there i was sitting just waiting for boarding, my friends in WA group were concerning me , i said i m ok 

     And then finallyi v landed in batam n quickly rush to hotel that i intended before i get in to the room , i urged the receptionist to help me to put my goodies in the freezer cos thats the goodies is for eating , n so he help me to keep it fresh in the freezer , into hotel room , my friend anthony confirmed me to take the early ferry to sg haha i thought i got a little time there , so i choose the early departure haha, by the way the time i was in hotel room was 1255 in the night its almost morning ! N the i slept for 3 hours 

The early morning i took an online bike to go to batam center n then i departed for sg , after i arrrived there i thought i will be hard to enter sg but frankly said its was smoothly done , but this time anthony n friend did not welcome me at the exist haoburfront haha i dont know the where im going to , i just keep on walking see the sign here n there , not for mention the sg number that i got was a shit thing its unusefull ,its me grow my anger to certain emotion yet mix with tired ssome condition , desperated to have a good connection but still suck!! suddenly anthony called me with the phone , he guide me to buy a one way ticket ticket to sengkang , so i ask the information n said to me there is no one way ticket to buy anymore , you have buy a card for 5 dollars n Refill with 5 dollars valued for taking the mrt , so i did it , make my way to sengkang with 5 dollars value card haha , i thought i will be stranded in sg ,   

      At sengkang , i was guided by anthony to reach his home on the wet rainny day , n arrived there i was so emosional tiredless i suddenly mad at anthony n eday ng whose at home enjoying koffee! Ahh what a day , but its all pay off with a friendhip drinking dacade ! ! N the first time i vommited after too much drinking beer

      But anyway i thankfull to anthony , eday ng yard n his 2 daughter landak taty rend mr t n mei ing thanks for Unforgettable night i will always remember!!

Monday, June 3, 2024

Muliady The: A True Friend

The title above came from a man called Parno. He mentioned this recently, when we celebrated one decade of Drinking With Eday, our annual gathering in Singapore. The comment was originated from an honest opinion that even though Muliady was financially successful, he was kind and never looked down on Parno. Then, as I had a chance to walk with Muliady on the following afternoon, it slowly dawned on me that I had also known him for a long time.

Mul and I aren't exactly the closest of friends. His story is often overshadowed by Eday, Parno or Endrico, but I've already known him just as long as I know the others. He was that cheerful kid that I hung out with when we frequented Jimmy Kohir's house back in secondary school. He was our footballer and a riot who had his school pants ripped apart by Susanto Phang when we got rowdy in high school. He was my VCD supplier and our lead guitarist when we were in college. Whenever I hear You Are My Religion by Firehouse, I remember how he loved singing the song. 

Back in Pontianak, circa 1999.

By the time I moved to Jakarta, he was the guy who tried to earn commissions by asking me, his equally poor friend, to apply a credit card through him. Talk about a humble beginning! But my fondest memories of him during this period was the time we went to Cibodas together. He immediately ran to the waterfall to get soaked when we reached the peak. Then there was the time he misunderstood us and exclaimed that he didn't know how to row a canoe when we asked if he'd like to join us and play keno, a gambling machine. 

The next time we met was in Singapore. It was his first trip, if I remember correctly. When I got married in 2011, he attended my wedding. Things got better for the both of us and we started meeting regularly. When I thought of doing a reunion in 2014, there he was, playing guitar. Then in 2015, we watched Bon Jovi in Jakarta. His first concert! When I did We Are the World in 2016, I immediately remember that he'd be suitable for one particular part and he clearly didn't disappoint. We watched another concert again in 2017, this time was Guns N' Roses. Then came another high school reunion, his visit to Singapore in 2018 and my visit to Jakarta in late November. 

Mul's first visit to Singapore.

Then the unthinkable right after that. I got the news of him having stroke when I was queuing to buy a Nintendo Switch. It was hard to believe, because I just saw him few weeks ago. When I got a chance to visit him right before Christmas 2018, the man was visibly shaken. He was vulnerable, feeling unsure if he could recover. But he persevered and by time we met again, it was in Singapore, when he joined the SNY Tour.

He looked fine, seemed as healthy as ever, but I could sense that something had changed in him: now that he was given a second chance, there was this unusual eagerness to seize the moment whenever he could. He was also there at my Dad's wake in Jakarta and the two of us also watched the football match between Juventus and Tottenham Hotspur in Singapore. 

At the National Stadium, Singapore.

COVID-19 put a stop to our meetup, but the moment Singapore opened its door to the world, Mul visited us again in 2022. The following year, he was with us in Japan and that's when Eday gave him the nickname Thunder-Man because he always talked loudly. And then came the event this year. He was the one that set his phone and had our picture taken. 

As I walked with him under a drizzling rain in Clarke Quay, I recall the times we crossed path throughout so many phases in my life. Two things always remained constants: his ever-present smile and his friendliness. Parno was right, he was a true friend. And if I never said it before, I'd like to say it now. I, too, love him dearly as a friend...

After Drinking With Eday, 2024. 
Photo by Muliady.

Muliady The: Seorang Teman Sejati

Judul di atas berasal dari seorang teman bernama Parno. Julukan ini terucapkan olehnya saat acara Minum Bersama Eday yang digelar setiap tahun di Singapura. Menurut Parno, meski sukses secara finansial, Mul tidak pernah memandang rendah dirinya. Keesokan sorenya, selagi saya berjalan bersama Mul, saya tiba-tiba menyadari bahwa saya pun sudah mengenalnya dari sejak lama. 

Mul dan saya mungkin tidak bisa dikatakan sebagai teman dekat. Oleh karena itu, walaupun saya sudah kenal Mul selama saya mengenal Eday, Parno atau Endrico, kisahnya cenderung tersamarkan oleh mereka. Mul adalah teman yang riang saat kita berkumpul di rumah Jimmy Kohir di masa SMP. Dia adalah anggota tim sepak bola sekaligus teman yang heboh dan pernah disobek celananya oleh Susanto Phang di masa SMA. Sewaktu kuliah, dia adalah pemasok VCD dan juga gitaris saya. Hingga hari ini, setiap kali saya mendengar lagu You Are My Religion oleh Firehouse, saya terkenang betapa dia suka bermain gitar dan menyanyikan lagu ini. 

Di Pontianak, kisaran tahun 1999.

Ketika saya pindah ke Jakarta, dia adalah orang yang menawarkan saya untuk membuat kartu kredit. Saya, teman yang sama susahnya di kala kita mulai merintis karir! Tapi kenangan yang paling berkesan pada saat itu adalah sewaktu kita ke Cibodas. Dia langsung berlari ke air terjun saat kita tiba di atas. Lalu ada pula saat dia salah paham dan berkata dengan polos bahwa dia tak tahu cara mendayung kano, padahal kita bertanya apakah dia mau ikut main keno, mesin judi bola. 

Kali berikutnya kita bertemu adalah di Singapura. Itu adalah kali pertamanya di Singapura, kalau saya tidak salah ingat. Ketika saya menikah di tahun 2011, dia hadir sebagai tamu bersama teman-teman lain. Kehidupan kita lantas kian membaik dan kita mulai rutin bertemu. Saat saya mengadakan reuni di tahun 2014, dia pun tampil di pentas bersama saya. Kemudian, di tahun 2015, kita menyaksikan konser Bon Jovi di Jakarta. Saat saya merekam We Are the World di tahun 2016, saya tahu Mul pasti cocok di bagian vokal Bruce Springsteen dan dia tidak mengecewakan. Di tahun 2017, kita menonton Guns N' Roses. Setelah itu, kita makan bubur kodok di Singapura, reuni 20 tahun di Pontianak, lalu ikut aksi bela Kedai 7 di bulan November 2018. 

Kunjungan pertama ke Singapura.

Mendadak sesuatu yang di luar dugaan terjadi. Saat saya sedang antri membeli Nintendo Switch, saya mendapat kabar bahwa Mul terkena stroke. Ini sulit dipercaya, sebab saya baru saja bertemu dengannya beberapa minggu lalu. Ketika saya berkesempatan untuk mengunjunginya sebelum Natal 2018, dia tampak terguncang dan rentan mentalnya, tak yakin apakah dia bisa pulih lagi seperti dulu. Tapi dia tabah menjalani dan ketika kita bertemu lagi, dia muncul di Singapura, mengikuti acara Tur SNY

Mul terlihat sehat, namun saya merasa bahwa ada yang berubah dengannya. Setelah mendapatkan kesempatan kedua, ada kesan bahwa dia sangat bersemangat dan sebisa mungkin tidak melewatkan kesempatan yang ada. Dia hadir di rumah duka ketika ayah saya meninggal. Dia pun kembali ke Singapura dan kita bersama-sama menonton pertandingan Juventus melawan Tottenham Hotspur. 

Di National Stadium, Singapura.

COVID-19 sempat membuat dunia berhenti, namun saat Singapura mulai membuka diri, Mul datang berkunjung lagi di tahun 2022. Di tahun berikutnya, dia ikut ke Jepang dan mendapat julukan Manusia Halilintar karena suaranya yang menggelegar. Dan di tahun ini, dia hadir dan mengabadikan kebersamaan kita dengan foto di bawah ini. 

Selagi berjalan bersamanya di bawah hujan gerimis di Clarke Quay, saya jadi teringat betapa sering kita berpapasan dalam hidup ini selama tiga puluh tahun terakhir. Ada dua hal yang selalu konstan selama ini: senyumnya yang ceria dan keramahannya. Parno benar, Mul adalah teman sejati. Jika saya tidak pernah mengatakan hal ini sebelumnya, maka akan saya katakan pada saat ini juga. Saya juga teramat sangat bersyukur dengan persahabatan kita selama ini...

Setelah acara Minum Bersama Eday, 2024.
Foto oleh Muliady.

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

The Man Who Tried To Explain Music

One of many interesting things that happened during the trip to Ipoh was Eday's story about a young man who tried to explain music. He studied music as if it was some science. He learnt chords that carried sad feelings. Then he tried to formulate them into something that he could put together like ABC. Mind boggling, eh?

I never heard anything like this before. To me, music and lyrics are something you relate with, not something you try to make sense of. When I write, I simply pour out the inspiration that comes to me. I know when it is worded properly. It's intuitive. I just know it. 

The thought of songwriting as something logical is indeed amusing. How's that even a thing? That's when Eday suggested that perhaps I should explain how I listen to songs. For the fact I often inspired by the lyrics, how does it speak to me in a way many will not understand it? How can a mere song make a person cry?

Upon hearing this, I couldn't help thinking of two songs from Hamilton the musical. The first one was called One Last Time. I was suddenly on the edge of my seat, couldn't take my eyes of the George Washington character as he sang the song with R&B feeling. The words if I say goodbye, the nation learns to move onIt outlives me when I’m gone hit me hard like an epiphany. 

By the time it got to the gospel singing of George Washington’s going home that was responded nonchalantly by George with teach ‘em how to say goodbye, I couldn't help thinking about how one right decision made in the past resonated to this day. It was bigger than ever. I was very much in awe with what I had just experienced.

The second song, It's a Quiet Uptown, was captivating thanks to its melody. I was lured and hypnotized by the choir singing if you see him in the street, walking by himself, talking to himself, have pity. That's when I really listened to find out what's going. The words told me of the pain, the music conveyed the loss. It touched my heart and opened the floodgate of what I feared the most: burying your own child. Then I cried. 

Using the two examples above, the initial attraction always begins with the music. There is something with the groove that makes it irresistible. It could be funky, jazzy or anything that connects me with it. The music doesn't have to complicated, it just has to be relatable. Then, when the powerful lyrics are sung by the right person, you just listen and process both the emotions and the message. And just like that, it becomes the song I love for life. 

That's how it works between the songs and I. It's pure feeling. Nothing logical about it. If that's the case, how to put something that is so abstract into a secret recipe? If indeed it can be done, everyone can write hit songs, then! I don't know, maybe I'm not smart enough. I rest my case. May the young man succeed in his quest one day...

Yani and Hamilton. 

Pria Yang Mencoba Menjelaskan Tentang Musik

Satu dari sedemikian banyak hal menarik yang terjadi saat liburan di Ipoh adalah cerita Eday tentang seorang anak muda yang ingin memahami musik secara logis. Dia mempelajari musik seakan-akan itu adalah sesuatu yang ilmiah. Nada-nada yang bernuansa sedih pun ditelaah. Sesudah itu, dia mencoba merumuskan apa yang diketahuinya supaya bisa dirangkai seperti ABC. Mengherankan, bukan? 

Saya tidak pernah mendengar yang seperti ini sebelumnya. Bagi saya, musik dan lirik adalah sesuatu yang anda rasakan, bukan sesuatu yang dimengerti dan dijabarkan. Ketika saya menulis, saya hanya menuangkan inspirasi yang saya dapatkan. Saya tahu ketika susunan katanya terasa pas. Semua ini intuitif. Saya bisa merasakannya. 

Oleh karena itu ide memahami cara menulis lagu secara logis sangatlah mencengangkan bagi saya. Memangnya ada yang seperti itu? Eday lantas menyarankan, mungkin saya bisa coba jelaskan bagaimana cara saya mendengarkan lagu. Karena saya seringkali terinspirasi oleh lirik, apa sebenarnya yang terjadi sehingga saya bisa merasakan korelasinya sementara bagi orang lain biasa saja? Mungkin saya bisa jelaskan bagaimana sebuah lagu bisa membuat pendengarnya menangis? 

Saat mendengarkan ucapannya, saya jadi teringat dengan dua lagu dari musikal Hamilton. Lagu pertama berjudul One Last Time. Sewaktu saya pertama kali mendengarkan lagu ini, saya duduk terpana di kursi dan fokus pada karakter George Washington saat dia menyanyikan lagu yang berirama R&B ini. Kalimat if I say goodbye, the nation learns to move on. It outlives me when I’m gone menggetarkan hati saya. 

Tatkala bagian George Washington’s going home! dinyanyikan dan ditanggapi George dengan teach ‘em how to say goodbye, saya jadi berpikir tentang bagaimana sebuah keputusan yang benar di masa lampau masih terasa gaungnya di hari ini. Bahkan lebih dahsyat dari sebelumnya! Saya jadi terkagum-kagum dengan apa yang baru saja saya dengarkan.

Lagu kedua, It's a Quiet Uptown, juga memikat karena melodinya. Saya terlena dan terbuai oleh paduan suara yang melantunkan bait if you see him in the street, walking by himself, talking to himself, have pity. Ada nuansa sedih yang membuat saya menyimak lebih lanjut, apa sebenarnya yang terjadi. Lirik lagunya mengabarkan tentang kepedihan Hamilton, musiknya pun terasa lirih. Lagu ini membuat saya terenyuh dan mengingatkan saya tentang satu hal yang saya takuti: perasaan seorang ayah yang harus menguburkan anaknya. Dan saya pun menangis. 

Menggunakan dua contoh lagu di atas, kita bisa lihat bahwa daya tarik sebuah lagu selalu dimulai dari musik. Ada sesuatu dengan irama dan temponya yang membuat lagu itu seksi, entah itu karena nadanya yang funky, jazzy dan sebagainya yang membuat saya suka. Musik dari sebuah lagu tidak harus rumit, tapi hendaknya bisa dinikmati oleh pendengar. Setelah itu, ketika liriknya dibawakan oleh penyanyi yang tepat, saya mendengar dan mencerna emosi dan apa yang disampaikan. Ketika semua ini terjadi, lagu tersebut akan menjadi favorit saya. 

Bagi saya, demikianlah prosesnya. Semua ini berdasarkan perasaan. Tak ada yang logis di sini. Kalau memang demikian, apakah bisa menjabarkan sesuatu yang abstrak ini menjadi sebuah rumus? Kalau memang bisa, berarti semua orang bisa menjadi penulis lagu yang sukses? Entahlah, saya tidak secerdas itu. Mungkin anak muda itu bisa memecahkan misteri ini suatu hari nanti... 

Friday, May 24, 2024

From KL To Ipoh

My friend Eday started a 6-week trip earlier year, covering Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia. It was unprecedented, something we hadn't seen before. Clearly rocking the status quo, I'd say, but that's a story for another day. Anyway, it must be a fulfilling experience that volume II was planned and executed in April. The first leg of the trip coincided with Hendra's visit to Singapore

Then, as part of the tour, came the trip to Ipoh after Eday's visit to Indonesia. The destination wasn't always Ipoh, though. Vientiane and Siem Reap, cities with Hard Rock Cafe, were considered. However, both had their own set of problems that left us mulling them over. It was then decided that we'd revisit the destination again after the China trip. The route was eventually confirmed. We'd go to Ipoh via KL.

The art of looking at the sky and avoiding the bill.

Our flights landed at 9:15 PM. I was flying from Singapore, Eday was coming from Jakarta. We had our dinner at KLIA, then made our way to Hotel 99 in Kota Kemuning. I was amused that the receptionist actually found my data from seven years ago, when I was still holding an Indonesian passport. Five minutes after check-in, our host Wiwi came to pick us up for supper. That night, for the first time ever in my life, I ate lok-lok, haha. 

The next morning, Wiwi brought us to see the Saturday market. Funny how she suddenly felt reluctant to leave the car, citing the reason that she was overdressed for the occasion, haha. After getting pancakes and tea c, we went to her house that was guarded by a jumpy, barking dog. The conversation with her husband led to a quick recap of Eday's story about Syria.

In Klang, having bak kut teh.

For brunch, we went to Klang to eat the famous bak kut teh. It was good indeed. As her husband needed to go back to work, Wiwi decided that she would join us to KL. It turned out to be a historical moment: Wiwi took LRT with us from Alam Megah to Pasar Seni! It was a miracle to see her walking under the sun like any of us, haha. 

More often not, I only go to KL for either transit or business trip. Having said that, it was my first time visiting Pasar Seni. It somehow reminded me of Pasar Baru in Jakarta. We had cendol, then headed towards Petaling Street for a glimpse of Chinatown. The one in Singapore is better, though.

Petaling Street.

When it was time for coffee break, we went to Suria KLCC. There we sat at San Francisco Coffee and talked about anything the three old friends could think of. At 6 PM, we made our move and parted ways with Wiwi as we alighted at KL Sentral. Wiwi returned to Kota Kemuning and we continued our journey to Ipoh. 

The train was freezing cold, but it got better when it started moving. The sky went dark and we had our decent meal in the train. It was almost 10 PM when we reached Ipoh Station. From there, we walked about 25 minutes to M Boutique Hotel. The hotel had a classic British Colonial design. Hot water and aircon were working fine, but it was the pillows that I found very comfortable!

Eday, taking picture of M Boutique Hotel.

Just like our trip to Phuket, we weren't rushing and we didn't exactly have places we'd like to visit, so we woke up late for coffee and tea, then walked towards Concubine Lane. Along the way, whenever we saw a fancy looking cafe, we'd go in for a short break. For lunch, we we had roasted chicken and bean sprouts. The tubby shaped bean sprouts was crunchy and tasty!

From Restoran Wong Koh Kee, we went to Ipoh Parade. Eday needed a place for work, so we spent some time at Starbucks. Come to think of it, we missed the chance of trying Ipoh white coffee! And, instead of any places of interest, we entered grave yard that we passed by after we left Ipoh Parade, hehe.

Checking out the grave yard.

Eday went for a haircut at Eroll Barbershop and off we went to Vantage Wine & Cigar Lounge once the barber had finished his job. We stayed here, slowly drinking two big bottles of wine and talking about friends, life and philosophy. In order to understand how slow we were, the Swarm app showed that I checked in at 5:17 PM and the next entry at Tuck Kee for yu kong hor and a plate of bean sprouts was around 10:52 PM. We spent close to six hours drinking wine and from time to time, the movie title Monty Python's The Meaning of Life came to mind. Alcohol and philosophy surely mixed well!

It was raining the whole night, but not heavy enough that we could still walk to Restoran Tuck Kee. After dinner, we rushed to Hard Rock Cafe before it was closed. The night ended at Warehouse, a Chinese drinking joint with a 3-piece Cantonese band. I had a sip of Guinness and Eday finished 4.5 glasses of ½ pint, haha.

At Hard Rock Cafe Ipoh.

The next day began at around 11 AM. We went back to Restoran Sun Fei Kee for brunch, then headed to the city to do laundry. While waiting, we tried the soy bean curd at Funny Mountain. Since our event happened only after dark, we booked a 3-hour karaoke session at Aeon, alternating between singing and attending involuntary work that came our way.

We still made calls when he headed for dinner. I misunderstood Wiwi's suggestion about salted chicken. I thought it was a cuisine you could enjoy on the spot, but it was actually a delicacy for one to bring home from Ipoh. As a result, we went to the nearest restaurant for bean sprouts. We ate another plate, our third and last, at Restoran Tauge Ayam Ong Kee. 

In front of Atap Speakeasy, figuring out how to get in.

Atas Speakeasy was just a walking distance, so we went there after dinner, but the hidden bar's door was locked. Wiwi helped to call, but nobody picked up, so I dropped an email and we went to a bar that is literally called Speakeasy. Thus began the bar hopping adventure, one glass for each bar namely Aftr Work, St. Patrick's (where we got acquainted with a Bee Gees fan) and St. James.

But still we were drawn to Atas Speakeasy. I got a reply that there'd be a slot after 9 PM. I reserved seats at 10 PM and even though I received no reply, we tried our luck. The door wasn't locked this time, so we finally managed to enter the hidden bar. The bartender/owner Alicia Mak greeted us and we ordered our drinks: Bees Knees for me, Helan Gar for Eday.

The ambience was nice. Atas Speakeasy felt like the hangout of Al Capone or an art deco from Shanghai Grand. When Alicia joined our table, she shared with us her dream of being a street performer one day. The dimly lit room, cocktails and passions blended in perfectly as the closure of our time in Ipoh. As Eday and I stood outside the hotel, we talked about the surreal experience we just had. We could have been bar owners that night...

Eday, moments before he headed to Penang.

Dari KL Menuju Ipoh

Teman saya Eday memulai liburan berdurasi enam minggu di awal tahun ini dan petualangannya mencakup Malaysia, Singapura, Thailand dan Indonesia. Sebelum ini, tidak pernah ada yang berlibur selama satu setengah bulan lamanya. Kestabilan dan pemahaman para ibu rumah tangga pun terguncang, tapi ini lebih pantas diceritakan di lain kali. Yang jelas liburan enam minggu ini nampaknya memuaskan sehingga jilid dua pun direncanakan dan dilaksanakan di bulan April. Persinggahan pertama ke Singapura bertepatan dengan kunjungan Hendra

Kemudian, setelah menyelesaikan kunjungan ke Indonesia, tibalah liburan ke Ipoh yang merupakan rangkaian dari tur Eday. Menarik untuk dicatat bahwa Ipoh bukanlah destinasi awal. Sebelumnya kita sempat berdiskusi tentang Vientiane dan Siem Reap, dua kota yang juga memiliki Hard Rock Cafe. Akan tetapi kota-kota ini ada problem tersendiri. Keputusan pun ditunda sampai liburan ke Cina usai. Akhirnya kita memutuskan untuk ke Ipoh lewat KL karena lebih praktis.  

Seni melihat ke langit dan menghindari pembayaran tagihan.

Penerbangan kita sama-sama tiba pada pukul 9:15 malam. Saya datang dari Singapura, sedangkan Eday terbang dari Jakarta. Setelah bersantap malam di KLIA, kita lanjut ke Hotel 99 di Kota Kemuning. Saya tertegun saat mengetahui bahwa resepsionis yang bertugas ternyata berhasil menemukan data saya yang sudah tujuh tahun lamanya, saat saya masih memegang paspor Indonesia. Lima menit setelah menaruh barang, tuan rumah Wiwi datang menjemput. Di malam itu saya pertama kalinya mencoba lok-lok di Malaysia, haha. 

Keesokan paginya, Wiwi membawa kita ke Pasar Sabtu. Saat kita hendak turun dari mobil, tiba-tiba saja dia merasa dandanannya terlalu heboh untuk ke pasar, hehe. Setelah membeli kue apam dan teh c, kita pun mampir ke rumahnya yang dijaga oleh anjing yang menggonggong keras dan siap menerkam tamu. Percakapan dengan suaminya pun berlanjut dengan cerita Eday ke Suriah

Di Klang, menyantap bak kut teh.

Untuk makan siang, kita menuju ke Klang yang terkenal dengan bak kut teh. Enak nian. Karena suaminya harus kembali bekerja, Wiwi lantas memutuskan untuk turut serta ke KL. Peristiwa bersejarah pun terjadi: Wiwi naik LRT bersama kita dari Alam Megah ke Pasar Seni! Mukjizat itu nyata saat melihat Wiwi berjalan bersama kita di bawah teriknya matahari, haha. 

Biasanya saya ke KL hanya untuk transit atau trip bisnis. Oleh karena itu, ini adalah kunjungan pertama saya ke Pasar Seni. Tempatnya mirip seperti Pasar Baru di Jakarta. Kita makan cendol, lalu lanjut ke Petaling Street untuk melihat Pecinan. Menurut saya, yang di Singapura tampak lebih bagus. 

Di Petaling Street.

Tatkala tiba waktunya untuk meminum kopi, kita pergi ke Suria KLCC. Kita duduk di San Francisco Coffee dan berbincang tentang apa saja yang bisa terpikirkan oleh tiga teman lama. Pas pukul enam malam, kita melanjutkan perjalanan ke KL Sentral dan lanjut ke Ipoh, berpisah dengan Wiwi yang kembali ke Kota Kemuning. 

Kereta KTM sangat dingin, namun temperaturnya menjadi lebih manusiawi saat kereta mulai bergerak meninggalkan stasiun. Langit telah gelap ketika kita menyantap makanan seadanya di kereta. Kita akhirnya tiba di Stasiun Ipoh menjelang pukul 10 malam. Dari sana, kira berjalan sekitar 25 menit untuk mencapai M Boutique Hotel. Desainnya condong ke zaman Kolonial Inggris. Air panas dan AC berfungsi dengan baik, tapi yang paling nyaman itu bantalnya.

Eday mengambil foto di M Boutique Hotel.

Seperti halnya liburan kita ke Phuket, kita tidak kejar setoran dan juga tidak memiliki tempat spesifik yang ingin dikunjungi. Karena itu, kita tidur sampai siang dan baru berjalan ke Concubine Lane sesudah menyeruput kopi dan teh di Restoran Sun Fei Kee. Sepanjang jalan, bila ada kafe yang unik, kita pun mampir sejenak. Untuk makan siang, kita memesan ayam dan kecambah. Toge Ipoh yang pendek dan gemuk ini lezat dan sedap untuk dikunyah. 

Dari Restoran Wong Koh Kee, kita pergi ke Ipoh Parade. Eday butuh tempat untuk bekerja, jadi kita duduk sejenak di Starbucks. Kalau dipikirkan lagi sekarang, kita ternyata tidak sempat mencoba kopi putih Ipoh! Bukannya ke tempat yang sering dikunjungi turis, kita malah ke kuburan yang terletak di seberang Ipoh Parade, hehe.

Berjalan-jalan ke kuburan.

Eday potong rambut di Eroll Barbershop dan segera setelah itu, kita naik Grab ke Vantage Wine & Cigar Lounge. Di sana kita minum dua botol anggur dengan perlahan sambil berbincang tentang persahabatan, kehidupan dan filosofi. Sebagai ilustrasi dari deskripsi kata perlahan, aplikasi Swarm menunjukkan bahwa saya masuk sekitar jam 5:17 PM dan selanjutnya kita menyantap yu kong hor dan sepiring kecambah di Tuck Kee pada pukul 10:52 PM. Hampir enam jam lamanya kita menikmati anggur dan tidak cuma sekali judul film Monty Python's The Meaning of Life melintas di benak saya. Alkohol dan filosofi memang cocok! 

Hujan turun di malam itu, namun tidak terlalu deras sehingga kita masih bisa berjalan ke Restoran Tuck Kee. Setelah makan malam, kita bergegas ke Hard Rock Cafe yang sudah hampir tutup. Malam itu berakhir di Warehouse, tempat minum orang Tionghoa yang menampilkan grup musik Kanton beranggotakan tiga orang. Saya hanya meminum satu teguk Guinness sementara Eday menenggak 4,5 gelas, haha.

Di Hard Rock Cafe Ipoh.

Hari berikutnya bermula jam 11 pagi. Kita kembali ke Restoran Sun Fei Kee untuk santap siang, lalu ke kedai dobi swalayan di tengah kota. Sambil menunggu cucian, kita pergi mencicipi kembang tahu di Funny Mountain. Karena acara kita baru mulai setelah malam tiba, kita karaoke selama tiga jam di Aeon, silih berganti menyanyi dan mengerjakan pekerjaan dadakan. 

Kita masih sempat rapat via telepon saat makan malam. Saya salah kaprah tentang ayam garam yang direkomendasikan Wiwi. Saya sangka ini menu yang bisa disantap di tempat, tapi ayam garam ini ternyata oleh-oleh untuk dibawa pulang. Alhasil kita mampir ke restoran terdekat untuk kecambah lagi. Piring ketiga dan terakhir pun dipesan di Restoran Tauge Ayam Ong Kee. 

Di depan Atas Speakeasy, mencari tahu cara masuk.

Atas Speakeasy berada tak jauh dari tempat kita makan, jadi kita pun berjalan ke sana. Di luar dugaan, pintu bar tersembunyi itu dikunci. Wiwi bantu menelepon, tapi tidak ada yang mengangkat, jadi saya pun mengirim email dan perjalanan dilanjutkan ke bar yang secara harafiah bernama Speakeasy. Dari situ petualangan dari bar ke bar pun dimulai. Seusai satu gelas, kita berpindah, mulai dari Aftr Work, St. Patrick's (di mana kita bertemu dengan sesama penggemar Bee Gees) dan St. James.

Kendati begitu, kita tetap ingin mengunjungi Atas Speakeasy. Saya mendapatkan jawaban bahwa akan ada jadwal kosong setelah jam sembilan malam, jadi saya pun pesan slot jam 10. Meski saya tidak menerima konfirmasi, kita tetap lanjut dan mencoba peruntungan kita. Kali ini pintunya tidak dikunci, jadi kita akhirnya berhasil memasuk bar tersembunyi. Pemilik sekaligus bartender bernama Alicia Mak menyapa kita dan minuman pun segera dipesan: Bees Knees untuk saya, Helan Gar untuk Eday.

Suasana terasa nyaman. Atas Speakeasy terkesan seperti tempat nongkrong Al Capone atau tata ruang bergaya Shanghai Grand. Ketika Alicia duduk dan bercakap-cakap dengan kita, dia bercerita tentang impiannya untuk menjadi seorang seniman jalanan di Inggris. Ruangan yang remang-remang, minuman beralkohol dan impian pun berpadu menjadi sebuah penutup yang penuh kenangan dari kunjungan kita ke Ipoh. Sewaktu saya dan Eday berdiri di depan hotel, kita membahas lagi pengalaman yang terasa seperti mimpi ini. Di malam itu, kita bisa saja menjadi pemilik bar... 

Eday, berfoto sejenak sebelum berangkat ke Penang.

Sunday, May 5, 2024

Plan In Motion

I first started realizing this after the last year's trip to Japan. Many trips had come and gone since then, from Europe to Thailand. The last two, the China trip and Hendra's visit, confirmed what I had been feeling so far: it is magical how things always happen beyond what I have planned.

In order to understand what I was saying just now, let's go back a bit. You've heard about Robinson Travel. In one sentence, it can be described as the time when I'm reading and working on itinerary of places I want to go. There's fun in planning and imagining how things will play out. And yes, it's quite rewarding when those who join the trip turn out liking it, too. 

But I also learnt through many experiences recently that despite what I did, I was never the one responsible for the magic and laughter during the trips. No, they were spontaneous. It takes the chemistry among the participants as well as the right place and the right time for the memorable moments to occur. Case in point: the time we were at Hard Rock or even one as simple as the ice cream story in Sentosa. And that's the great thing about traveling together. 

I love the unforgettable adventure into the unknown with people I call friends and the funny things that come along the way. For all I know, the greatest memories I'd treasure for the rest of my life, ones that really mattered the most to me, could happen any time. And I certainly want to be part of it. 

This is why I disagree with those who say that there's still next time. For the fact that there's no formula to recreate the magic of togetherness, then there's no such thing as next time. It is now or you'll miss it. You go next time with other people, what you get will be an entirely different experience. 

Eventually, it's about priority and the time we have. I don't really repeat the same places, therefore Java road trip is a big no-no. Been there, done that. As I only have limited off days in a year, I don't wish to repeat what I had done back in 2019. The risk of what I'll miss is acknowledged and accepted.

So tomorrow, the world! While solo trip is not necessarily a bad idea these days, my personal favorite is, of course, another holiday brought by Robinson Travel. Another year, another captain, another new destination. Like I said before, I enjoy to be just one of the guys. It's always good to have a short break from being someone's husband, father, son, boss, staff, etc. The thing is, the world's so big, so let's go to places we've never been before! The miracle will happen!

The Hard Rock moment.

Rencana Dan Realita

Saya pertama kali menyadari hal ini setelah liburan ke Jepang di tahun 2023. Banyak liburan yang terjadi dan berlalu setelah itu, mulai dari Eropa sampai Thailand. Dua yang terakhir, liburan ke Cina dan kunjungan Hendra, meyakinkan saya tentang apa yang saya rasakan selama ini: sungguh suatu keajaiban bahwa apa yang terjadi selalu melebihi apa yang saya rencanakan. 

Untuk memahami apa yang saya katakan barusan, mari kita mundur sedikit. Anda sudah dengar tentang Robinson Travel. Secara singkat, rangkumannya adalah saat saya membaca dan menyusun rute tempat-tempat yang ingin saya kunjungi. Ada rasa senang saat merencanakan dan membayangkan apa yang akan terjadi nanti dan ya, ada pula rasa gembira saat yang ikut serta memberikan komentar positif. 

Namun saya juga belajar berdasarkan pengalaman bahwa saya tidak bisa merencanakan momen dan tawa yang terjadi dalam perjalanan. Semua itu spontan, terjadi karena interaksi bersama di saat dan tempat yang tepat. Contohnya adalah saat di Hard Rock atau bahkan hal sesederhana es krim vanila di Sentosa. Hal seperti inilah yang membuat liburan itu menyenangkan. 

Saya suka petualangan tak terlupakan ke tempat baru bersama teman dan juga hal-hal lucu dan berkesan yang terjadi sepanjang perjalanan. Di saat seperti inilah kenangan terindah dalam hidup, yang merupakan hal penting bagi saya, bisa terjadi. Saya ingin menjadi bagian dari kenangan tersebut. 

Ini alasannya kenapa saya tidak setuju dengan pendapat yang dengan mudahnya mengatakan masih ada lain kali. Nyatanya tidak ada rumus untuk menciptakan kembali kebersamaan yang terjadi, oleh karena itu sudah pasti tidak ada lain kali. Kesempatannya hanya sekarang atau anda akan melewatkannya. Anda pergi ke tempat yang sama bersama orang lain, maka berbeda pula pengalamannya. 

Pada akhirnya, semua ini adalah tentang prioritas dan waktu yang kita miliki. Saya sebisa mungkin tidak kembali ke tempat yang sama, jadi rute seperti keliling Jawa tidak akan saya lakoni karena sudah pernah. Berhubung saya memiliki cuti yang terbatas, saya tidak ingin mengulang lagi apa yang telah saya lakukan di tahun 2019. Resiko tentang apa yang saya lewatkan sudah saya pahami dan terima.  

Jadi mari melanglang buana! Walau berlibur sendiri bukanlah ide yang buruk di zaman sekarang, favorit saya tentu saja liburan bersama Robinson Travel. Tahun yang berbeda, kapten yang berbeda, tujuan yang berbeda pula. Seperti yang saya katakan sebelumnya, saya menikmati saat-saat hanya menjadi bagian dari teman-teman seangkatan. Kadang saya perlu berlibur dari peran sebagai seorang suami, ayah, anak, direktur, karyawan dan lain sebagainya. Dunia begitu luas, jadi mari bepergian ke tempat yang belum pernah kita kunjungi sebelumnya. Sesuatu yang menakjubkan akan terjadi!

Thursday, May 2, 2024

The First Time Traveler

It's all started with a DM. And a question about the visit to Singapore won't be ignored by a proud owner of the fictitious Robinson Travel. I always love the idea of friends coming to Singapore. Yes, they should come and see the First World country nearest to Indonesia! A humbling experience! We even have a group called Tamu SG to welcome them (though the guests will be removed unceremoniously once their visits end, haha). 

So my friend Hendra texted me about his visit to Singapore. His plan was to get return tickets from Kuching to Kuala Lumpur, but I suggested that it made more sense to go from Pontianak, Batam, Singapore, KL to Kuching instead. It'd be a seamless one way trip instead of traveling to and fro. If he was keen, he could even travel to Johor Bahru and Malacca before arriving in KL.

He listened to the advice and once his tickets were booked, he was added to Tamu SG. As planned, he boarded the flight to Batam and, on the following day, ferry to Singapore. A slight hiccup, though. My meeting that day overran and by the time I reached Harbourfront, he was waiting at one corner like a neglected child, haha. 

Off we went and before we got home, we had dinner and I ordered mui fan for him. Much to my surprise, he found the food and its shrimp paste condiment bland. As a matter of fact, the nasi lemak that he had the next morning also was also subjected to a similar comment. His taste buds must have been seriously messed up by decades of consuming MSG. 

The night with Snow Drop. 

Anyway, back to the night Hendra arrived, our friend Eday was also in Singapore and making his way to my place. Endrico reached first and we opened bottles of Snow Drop sake once Eday arrived. By the way, if you think the brand sounded familiar, you probably saw it from my story in Tokyo. Yes, the sake was rather special, worthy of a historical moment that was unfolding that night: hanging out with Hendra for the first time ever in Singapore since we graduated from high school 26 years ago. 

Our adventure began the next day in Sentosa. Eday had fun telling our first time traveler all the bombastic nonsense he could come up with on the spur of the moment. For example, as the monorail train left VivoCity, Eday told him that it would dive into the sea before resurfacing in Sentosa and our newbie wouldn't know how to respond to such a story. The stare in disbelief would then trigger the laughter. 

At the Universal Studios Singapore.

We also enjoyed the frowning eyebrows as Hendra did the mental calculation of converting SGD to IDR. At the Universal Studios, we pushed him to buy some gifts for the family. It's not something that he can get three times cheaper in Malaysia, so it does make sense to spend on something that is uniquely Singapore. 

After sending Hendra to casino for sightseeing on the pretext of getting us free bottles of water, we boarded the cable car and returned to mainland. From there we went to Farrer Park for lunch. We were supposed to eat at MTR, a delicious vegetarian restaurant that I discovered in Bangalore, but it was still crowded even at 2.30pm, so we went to Anjappar instead for Indian food. Hendra finally found something that tasted rich in Singapore, but it sent him to toilet not long after lunch. 

Trying Indian food.

From the hotel, we continued our journey to Bugis and the National Library. The last time I went there, it was under renovation. The library looked brilliant now and Hendra liked what he saw. However, we didn't stay long and resumed our journey to Chinatown. Hendra had a glimpse of it, then we bumped into Taty as we headed to MBS. When in Singapore, especially for the first time, this is the breathtaking city skyline you need to see!

Eday and Surianto went to gym after lunch and rejoined us at MBS. From there, we walked to Merlion via Helix Bridge, then headed to the Fullerton underpass to reach Raffles Place. It was time for dinner and we decided that it'd be a Swiss cuisines at Marche. Mei Ing came and, as she never met Hendra before, Eday introduced him as a Swiss national and he was the reason why we ate here, haha.

Eday, Mei Ing, Surianto, Hendra and Taty at Marche.

We had sake after dinner, but after tasting Snow Drop, the rest only felt fine. As the Sake+ closed at 11pm, I brought them to Ice Cold Beer and we stayed there until 3am. We had a good long talk and most importantly, our first time traveler enjoyed it. The supper (or should I call it breakfast?) at Balestier Bak Kut Teh eventually ended the adventure. 

While it's definitely not the first tour in Singapore that I arranged for my friends, this one is memorable thanks to the fact that Hendra hadn't been going overseas for the past 20 years and the only city he had been to long ago was Kuching. His hometown Sei Pinyuh was even smaller than Pontianak. You add up all this, you get a fresh, genuine and gullible perspective that I hadn't seen for a long time. It was fascinating.

For example, when Surianto bought us ice cream in Sentosa, Hendra chose vanilla. Eday and I burst into laughter at the same time. With so many choices, you'd expect him to explore a new flavor, but no, he went for vanilla instead, the safest bet he's familiar with. 

Taking the cable car.

Another occasion happened inside the cable car. As we crossed back to Harbourfront, he was pondering if he should send his son to study here one day, but then concluded that it was probably not a good idea. We were curious, so we probed further. It turned out that a kid from his hometown passed away while studying here. Now that was biased! I protested that a kid could die everywhere, not only in Singapore! What he was worried about was not even a thing!

The examples above were moments with childlike innocence and I found them refreshing. It was a good reminder. Once upon a time, I was more or less the same, too. But traveling opened your horizon. Hendra said he learnt a lot throughout the trip, but what he perhaps didn't know was I also learnt from what we went through together. What you experienced, it always got you thinking...

When ICB closed.

Pertama Kali Ke Singapura

Cerita kali ini dimulai dari DM di WhatsApp. Dan tentu saja pertanyaan tentang kunjungan ke Singapura tidak akan diabaikan oleh pemilik Robinson Travel, sebuah jasa tur fiktif. Saya selalu menyukai ide tentang teman yang mau berkunjung ke Singapura. Ya, mereka harus datang dan melihat negara maju yang paling dekat dengan Indonesia! Ini adalah sebuah pengalaman yang bersahaja. Kita bahkan memiliki grup Tamu SG untuk melayani mereka yang datang (walaupun mereka akan ditendang keluar begitu kunjungan mereka usai, haha).

Jadi teman saya Hendra menghubungi saya tentang rencana liburan ke Singapura. Tadinya dia ingin beli tiket pergi-pulang dari Kuching ke Kuala Lumpur, namun saya sarankan bahwa sebaiknya dia berangkat dari Pontianak, Batam, Singapura, KL dan pulang lewat Kuching. Dengan demikian jalannya lebih searah dan tidak bolak-balik. Kalau Hendra mau, dia bahkan bisa ke Johor Bahru dan Melaka sebelum tiba di KL. 

Hendra mendengarkan saran saya dan begitu tiketnya dibeli, dia pun dimasukkan ke grup Tamu SG. Seperti yang sudah direncanakan, Hendra berangkat dari Batam dan naik feri ke Singapura di hari berikutnya. Akan tetapi ada sedikit masalah. Rapat saya di kantor pada hari itu berakhir lebih malam dari perkiraan dan saat saya tiba di Harbourfront, Hendra sudah menunggu di pojok seperti anak terlantar, haha. 

Kita pun pulang, namun sebelum sampai di rumah, kita mampir dulu untuk makan malam. Saya pesankan mui fan untuk Hendra. Setelah dicicipi, ternyata makanan dan belacannya terasa hambar bagi Hendra. Bahkan nasi lemak yang menjadi sarapan pagi di hari berikutnya pun mendapatkan komentar yang sama. Indera perasanya pasti sudah sangat tidak peka karena bertahun-tahun makan masakan yang banyak micinnya.  

Menikmati sake Snow Drop. 

Kembali ke malam tibanya Hendra, teman kita Eday juga sudah sampai di Singapura dan kini sedang menuju ke rumah. Endrico tiba dulu dan kita pun membuka botol sake Snow Drop saat Eday tiba. Oh ya, bila anda merasa kenal dengan nama sake ini, mungkin anda pernah membacanya lewat cerita saya tentang kunjungan ke Tokyo setahun silam. Ya, sake ini istimewa, pantas untuk merayakan malam bersejarah yang sedang terjadi: berkumpul untuk pertama kalinya dengan Hendra di Singapura setelah kita tamat SMA 26 tahun silam.  

Petualangan kita dimulai keesokan harinya di Sentosa. Eday senang menggoda teman yang berlibur di Singapura untuk pertama kalinya ini dengan cerita-cerita yang tidak masuk akal. Sebagai contoh, saat monorel meninggalkan VivoCity, Eday berkata bahwa kereta ini akan menyelam ke dalam laut dan muncul lagi di Sentosa. Hendra pun tak yakin bagaimana ia harus menanggapi cerita tersebut. Pandangannya yang penuh kecurigaan lantas memicu gelak tawa.  

Di Universal Studios Singapore.

Kita juga menikmati ekspresi Hendra yang mengernyitkan dahi saat menghitung konversi SGD ke IDR di dalam hati. Di Universal Studios, kita mendorongnya untuk membeli hadiah untuk keluarga. Beberapa suvenir di sini bukanlah sesuatu yang bisa ia dapatkan tiga kali lebih murah di Malaysia, jadi layak dibeli karena khas dan cuma ada di Singapura.  

Setelah mengirim Hendra ke kasino untuk melihat-lihat dengan misi mengambilkan botol air gratis di kasino bagi kita yang kehausan, kita akhirnya naik ke kereta gantung dan menyeberang kembali ke Harbourfront. Dari sana kita lanjut ke Farrer Park untuk makan siang. Kita ingin mencoba MTR, restoran vegetarian lezat yang pertama kali saya coba di Bangalore, tapi tempat makan ini masih penuh meski sudah jam 2.30 siang, jadi kita pun beranjak ke Anjappar untuk menyantap masakan India. Hendra akhirnya menemukan sesuatu yang kaya rasa di Singapura, namun dia perlu ke toilet setelah itu. 

Mencoba masakan Indian.

Dari hotel, kita menuju ke Bugis dan National Library. Terakhir kali saya ke sana, perpustakaan ini masih direnovasi. Hasilnya bagus sekarang dan Hendra sibuk melihat-lihat rak-rak yang penuh dengan buku. Kendati begitu, kita tidak lama di perpustakaan dan perjalanan pun berlanjut ke Chinatown. Setelah berkeliling sejenak, kita berpapasan dengan Taty dan menuju ke MBS. Saat berada di Singapura, apalagi untuk pertama kalinya, pemandangan gedung pencakar langit ini wajib untuk dilihat langsung dengan mata sendiri!

Eday dan Surianto pergi ke gym setelah makan siang dan bergabung dengan kita di MBS. Dari sana, kita berjalan ke Merlion lewat Helix Bridge, lalu menelusuri lorong bawah tanah Fullerton ke Raffles Place. Sudah tiba waktunya untuk makan malam dan menunya adalah makanan Swiss di Marche yang bersebelahan dengan Sake+. Saat Mei Ing tiba, Eday memperkenalkan Hendra sebagai orang Swiss dan karena dialah kita bersantap di sini, haha. 

Eday, Mei Ing, Surianto, Hendra dan Taty di Marche.

Setelah makan malam, kita menikmati sake. Bagi saya pribadi, setelah Snow Drop, sake lainnya terasa biasa. Berhubung Sake+ tutup jam 11 malam, saya bawa mereka ke Ice Cold Beer yang berada di seberang jalan dan bincang-bincang diteruskan hingga jam 3 pagi. Tamu kita yang pertama kali ke Singapura menikmati waktunya di bar ini. Makan subuh (atau sarapan?) di Balestier Bak Kut Teh pun mengakhiri petualangan kita. 

Meski ini bukanlah tur pertama di Singapura yang saya adakan untuk teman, yang satu ini sangat berkesan karena Hendra tidak pernah bepergian ke luar negeri selama 20 tahun terakhir dan satu-satunya kota yang ia kunjungi dulu adalah Kuching. Kampung halamannya, Sei Pinyuh, bahkan lebih terpencil dari Pontianak. Bila semua faktor ini digabungkan, yang kita dapatkan adalah sebuah perspektif yang baru dan agak naif, yang sudah lama tidak saya lihat. Dan saya sangat tertarik. 

Sebagai contoh, sewaktu Surianto membelikan kita es krim, Hendra memilih rasa vanila. Saya dan Eday spontan tergelak saat melihatnya. Ada begitu banyak pilihan es krim dan kita mengira dia akan mencoba sesuatu yang baru, tapi tidak, dia malah memesan vanila, rasa yang paling ia kenal baik sekaligus pilihan paling aman. 

Menaiki kereta gantung.

Peristiwa lainnya terjadi di dalam kereta gantung. Saat kita berada di ketinggian dan menyeberangi laut, Hendra membayangkan apakah mengirimkan anaknya untuk bersekolah di sini adalah keputusan yang baik, namun mendadak dia mengurungkan niatnya. Kita yang penasaran pun bertanya lebih lanjut. Ternyata alasannya adalah karena ada anak dari Sei Pinyuh yang meninggal sewaktu belajar di Singapura. Saya protes dengan biasnya sudut pandang ini. Kalau sudah tiba waktunya, seorang anak bisa meninggal di mana saja, bukan cuma di Singapura. Jadi apa yang dia khawatirkan itu tidak beralasan!

Contoh-contoh di atas adalah momen yang sangat lugu dan saya sukai. Saya jadi teringat bahwa bertahun-tahun silam, saya pun pastilah sepolos ini. Namun berkelana melihat dunia adalah suatu hal yang membuka wawasan. Hendra berkata bahwa dia belajar banyak dari kunjungan singkat ini, tapi dia mungkin tidak tahu bahwa saya pun belajar dari apa yang kita lalui bersama. Apa yang kita alami selalu membuat kita berpikir kembali...