A Little Oasis

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“How do I start? Blaming myself for being so, so lackadaisical?”

Perhaps, I really should. It is awful neglecting this page for almost a year. I’m writing this apology from myself to Goofydreamer, a room of everything I share to the world, from a simple story of how I prepare my breakfast till a-very-personal life stories.

Eine Unvergesslische Reise (teil eins) was originally written last year but I re-published on the month of May when I did correct some grammatical errors and adjusted few photographs. So truly, I neglected this blog from October last year, the longest time I did write nothing here.

2020 was definitely an unforgettably awful and unexpected year for everyone. As I thought 2021 was going to be better yet some moments terribly hit me till I almost lost myself for sometime. Never had I imagined one the worst life destinies happened to me too soon. Never ever had I imagine it left me nothing but memories with one of the most important people in my life. Nothing I could change but keep going even to crawl for days till I had enough braveness to stand still again. I may share on writing what happened when myself is ready.

I once stood in front of a mirror in the restroom when I thought that one of the things we all need to do during these hard times is to stay happy. So many ways to achieve that, different ways for different people. I have been trying hard to keep myself stable during this “pandemic” era from last year, listening to a record that help me to stay happy everytime I listen to the whole body of work (folklore, what else :) let me remind you that today last year ago folklore was released and boom! it won Album of The Year Grammy 2021), investing more on my time to be closer to my mom even though it is only by phone, keeping my saving on track but I still let myself go for an eat-out ordering the same Tom Yam at the Chinatown restaurant, buying one or two new mugs (you’ll see the latest one is FOR FOX SAKE below – I guess it’s my new addiction), watching Lee Je-Hoon‘s dramas, etcetera, etcetera. I am taking it slowly on the fact that I never travel back home for more than two years due to some issues on this and that yet I am still looking on the day I stare to the clouds by the window seat again pretty soon.

Today when I woke up, I whispered to myself that I wanted to try to write something here, some random stuffs, or thoughts, anything, just to keep updating. Because updating contents here used to make me happy: photographing my food, chasing an afternoon light when shadowplay falls nicely, editing travel photographs from the vaults and publish them, or even those personal touchy stories that take one or two months to finish, or some random iPhone pictures. I was worried that I might not keep my words to post but then, I accidentally lifted myself when I found an afternoon light fell on my faux Eames chair. I took some interesting objects near me and well the time I exported all to my MacBook, I finally felt that spark again. I was happy. I named that simply happiness from photographs I took for 15 minutes as “A Little Oasis” – feeling.

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All taken with Sony A6300

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Eine Unvergessliche Reise (Teil Eins)


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One time on Sunday afternoon early March, we had a chat on what we wanted to do.

It was around 2 o’clock and I did say from the beginning:”Anything about best food or sort, I trust you.”.

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I didn’t do any research on things to do, not even must-visit spots or something like that (coffee shops excluded of course). I only had one clear purpose of the trip: nothing less than to enjoy every single moment.

I flew on May 5th. A flight from Cape Town with two hours transit in Dubai was smooth yet exhausting. I didn’t make time to sleep on the plane yet I couldn’t blame myself cause those questions why Hong Kong anxiously came out twice. I had a very good seat and entertainment on board with choices of good movies. I did watch some movies yet I knew, I lied to myself if I wasn’t bored. It was only a hot coffee I requested just before landing time which made me felt better.

I should have felt excited because a pleasant week from South Africa would continue in Asia. But there was a reason why Hong Kong was a bit peculiar: I never thought I would fly all the way for such a busy crowded city for a vacation. I did think Hong Kong was never on my top list.

I never landed but I could feel the heat. I was still on my window seat witnessing a typical iconic Hong Kong skyscrapers tucked with thick clouds. The sun was bright as I was gathering my excitement and pushing one by one questions of why Hong Kong in 2018.

I was inside an airport train to immigration when I finally felt the Asia vibe again. “Damn, I’m close enough to home. Should I pay a visit on my last three days here?”, I never even started my trip but a thought of going home was echoed inside my mind. I knew I was exhausted but somehow, I loved the sensation being on a very tight train among strangers.

I remember, I hugged Andreas twice to ensure he was real. Lé pardon if the sentence before this was too much. I did hug him twice to reassure it wasn’t a dream. When he stood there with my name handwritten on a piece of paper, my mind excitingly remembered to this magical note, “We both do not know where that will be, but we know it will happen.” As much as I remind myself to strongly believe that every dream will find its way to be real, someday, with some shiny glittering magic in between, a beautiful moment at that airport had proved it right. My peculiar feeling of why Hong Kong was evaporated in the air and suddenly showering different kind of excitements.

We took a fast train to the central. The day was sunny as I could see from the window. Andreas sat where my will-always-be-my-spot a.k.a window seat while I asked him twice, “Isn’t this strange? Don’t you think so?.” He answered it was. I felt it was strange in a very good way that hours we spent on Skype for the past two and half years brought us to real a life again. As we were on the train passing some typical Hong Kong residences, my heart was ready for some new surprises. I sat with memories when we had a chat twice in Tokyo which weren’t long. In the morning I repacked my things from Kyoto and a to-midnight short conversation at the lobby that has a wide clear glass somewhere in Akihabara.

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Here how our travel time through four memorable days was documented.

On a sunny afternoon, I finally felt glücklich to be in Hong Kong and let Andreas showed the best Hong Kong has to offer.

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Off from the airport, we went straight to my hostel (yes with S, you didn’t read wrong). I didn’t rent a portable pocket Wi-Fi since I found it was expensive, so on the first day Andreas was my live-Google-Map. Well, I had some screenshots on my iPhone to where I should have headed but I trusted him to lead the way. I remember we were off from the train and stopped at one train station heading to where we stood for a bus. When we realized the bus was heading to the opposite destination, we changed to the right one by burning calories under the sun until we finally arrived at Shek Pai Wan Road, Aberdeen.

I was managing myself to sort everything out rapidly while Andreas was waiting. I even forgot to enjoy my bath under the shower (best part: there are two with clear glass to enjoy the view outside, oh ofc not from floor to ceiling). I felt better and fresher after changing that faded green Zara tee with more comfortable one in black.

When I stepped out of the hostel, I looked up. It was after 5 pm and the sky turned to grey.

I was a little worried if it started raining. In front of where we stood for a bus, Andreas was checking the route on the information board. I thought that time, he wanted to reassure we won’t just get in to a wrong bus again. I was admiring the environment around us, the Cantonese in the air, and typical Hong Kong tight crowded flats with ACs placed outside the building. The first thing Andreas did and I loved it so much: he took me to the upper deck of the bus that has a wide clear glass (and it was empty!) where we could actually see different scenes on the road. The time we sat, I started believing that evening would be a great start of a wonderful travel experience.

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Off from the bus, he brought me to another simply exciting experience: we took a Hong Kong open tram and we again sat on the upper deck. “Azis, come with me, I’ll show the best spot to be on this tram. You’ll love it.”

And for God-sake, it was beautiful. I sat with a California Dream in the air. By writing this, I still remember the sensation sitting behind him gazing out to the people on busy roads, different shops with neon signage lights, the breeze, the rush. My travel bugs were flying high and dancing gleefully until I didn’t think it was necessary to capture the moment with my camera but my own brain. And keeping it somewhere safe.

Andreas brought me to a place where we had dinner. It was such a food court kind of that was crowded and sonorous but somehow, it was epic. The sensation was distinct where I could feel the strong Hong Kong vibe surrounded. I had delicious Vietnamese Pho while Andreas had curry noodle. That evening was a bit cloudy but warm. We took a walk for a ferry ride to peninsula afterwards.

It was a great experience on the ferry but more than that, I did enjoy all the simple things that evening. It was a kind of travel style I love the most: no plans, just surprises. Going to places with no expectations but ended with some memorable memories. I remember crystal clear, a young lady was singing a Cantonese song with guitar behind us, I joked I could take her mic and sang better. I crossed my legs on the hard cement floor when we had a slow time for friendship talk.

He got a cold canned beer which I opened and had a ship. My first beer in my life at the Hong Kong harbor I said, proudly. It tasted so weird but the view in front of my eyes was picturesque. I captured and remembered it.

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I sat on the second floor at Kowloon mosque, it was around 4 pm-ish.

I never sent a text asking if Andreas had time to accompany me again on the second day until I later got one; “I just finished my research at uni. Any idea of what we should do?.” I had waited for a while for something stated in my reply; “Something to eat.” He later answered with an idea of where to go.

I remember the mosque was near the Tsim Sha Tsui station. Andreas was standing near exit C and I came to him with an empty tummy. I had no idea what he had in mind but I trusted every decision he made. We later found ourselves at Tim Ho Wan Olympian City 2 in West Kowloon. As we entered, I only had one request to him: a seat by the window for good lighting, what else?

The best part of our lunch was the restaurant wasn’t crowded then so it gave us a good time to talk in between pleasantly. The meal was great, not to mention he was the only one who had schweinefleisch in warm buns. He joked I should have tried a little taste of heaven.

We spent an hour plus then we were heading to Ladies Market, a bet of eating durian (which he didn’t try! he should have tried it when in Asia even though I can’t eat raw durian too), passing some interesting stalls with Cantonese everywhere.

Everything was really enthralling.

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Andreas used to spend eight months in Hong Kong years ago as an exchange student so trusting him to show all best sites was the best decision (if I shouldn’t mention it was such an excuse for being lackadaisical). When the day got dark, we sat at one of the famous traditional Hong Kong restaurants in Jordan called Australia Diary Company. He told me to taste the popular meal: scrambled egg served on toast and I must say the scrambled egg tasted so good but sadly I couldn’t finish eating it. I was full from Tim Ho Wan but the best part was the milk tea.

Oh God, it was heaven. The best I ever tasted.

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As a milk tea lover, he was blithe having a full glass with generous ice. I remember he was laughing when looking on how I looked after he told me not to expect a polite service and eating slowly because the waiter could forcibly get you to stand out from your chair. It was a typical Hong Kong restaurant service when they could roughly drop a food you order on the table. But that wasn’t a big deal for me because the way I enjoyed the most that evening apart of the milk tea was the vibe, the strangers chats, and some unique details my mind had captured: pen scribble on a waiter’s pocket that clearly showed on his white shirt, six vertical stacks of white coffee cups behind where Andreas sat, the grumpy face of the man behind the bar brewing Vietnamese coffee, and of course, the yellow menu card.

We ended the day by sitting near TST promenade for a random friendship talk with a view of Hong Kong skylines. Andreas told me we could get in The Peak Tram if the weather was friendly. Thought I won’t mind to experience the famous view of Hong Kong with her skyscrapers, there was no necessary apologetic “why” from the nature.

Staring to the clouds up there, deep down in my heart, I sent my gratitude to the universe for giving me a privilege such travel.

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~ to be continued to part ii ~

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Reminiscing Old Phones & Random Moments Via iPhone

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I remember how it felt when I received a gift from my sister which was the first mobile phone I ever had, Nokia 2112.

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Few months before I handed mine, I always imagined how cool it was if I was walking, passing the crowd and the mobile phone was ringing. It was tardy in my third year at high school when I first got mine while most of my friends had those fancy ones. Back then, Nokia was ahead of time. I remember various “out-of-the-box” designs applied on the mobile phone yet I was enough with a very handy one in lilac. The way I imagined I was so cool for sending a text with my Nokia to my friends just to ask if the next day at school we would have an exam came to real.

Then the trend for changeable phone cases was in as well as various designs and phone accessories. From 2112 I got upgraded to 3220, my world, that phone was so cool back then, launched with a fun feature, LED light on the body. It wasn’t that long until I changed to another “quite-quirky” phone called Nokia 7610 (whatsss!! I remember the unusual looking phone in red, white and black!! – trust me, I had to Google the series). It was crystal clear in mind I had 7610 when I started college. Photographing via mobile phone was an epic experience even the pixel was so limited :)

From Nokia, my mobile phone adventure flew to Samsung. I do not remember what series my first Android phone was but I remember it was white with a better quality camera. When I left Indonesia for the first time and started working overseas, I got an upgraded Android as a reward for myself, from myself. Until later the phone was lost when I left from a meeting in the evening. I recalled it was gone when I had to return to check the screening system twice and found nothing. Few days later I closed my eyes by spending my saving and got a Blackberry (who remember BBM, and the pop-up sound, and the emoticons, and BBM status?!).

Blackberry Bold 9900 to Sony Xperia Acro S then I finally landed on iPhone 5 (my first iPhone was iPhone 5! :)).

iPhone 5 accidentally fell and got broken –> iPhone 5 again, just because I had thought twice on getting an upgraded iPhone 5S (but no! I was diligent enough on saving money, lol) –> iPhone 7 –> and the current one, iPhone X –> iPhone 12 (blue one bitte, who knows! LOL, I’m still okay with iPhone X).

Some random iPhone photos from an iPhone X to end this random post :)

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Rhapsodizing Coffee Prince & An Ode To Gong Yoo


Okay, I’m going to divulge one thing before rhapsodizing a Korean drama that made me such an infatuated teenager lately: I am a fan of Gong Yoo.

If saying I’m a newbie die-hard fan is too much, I am unperturbed.

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((clearingthroats))

This post might be a bit “too-long” but this is written with so much feeling deep of admiration. To Gong Yoo, and to one drama I had a crush with. Should I open a bottle of red wine for us, too, before we start?

((droppingthemic))


I crossed my legs on the floor when I was about to end my day by sleeping early. It was after 9 PM, my MacBook was still on, I was in front of a free-streaming website trying to remember one particular movie I never watched. I had watched Love, Simon the day before on the same website so I typed Parasite. The two were not on Netflix here, so I said woah! when I found them. Unfortunately, there was no English subtitle for Parasite. Postponed, later ~ it was just I became lackadaisical finding English subtitle and adding it in the web. I was about to lay on the bed but my mind was holding on one particular title: Train To Busan.

I knew I was waaay behind since the movie itself was booming in 2016 when people online talked how epic the movie was. I am not worried if you say I am dated by divulging “Hey, I just watched Train To Busan in 2020”. I was under the blanket back then until I later understood why the score is 94% in Rotten Tomatoes. If Lucy was the first movie ever (I mean it, ever) that made me awoke in the over-chilled cinema for the whole ninety minutes (as I could easily fall to sleep in the cinema, most of the times), Train To Busan was the one that made my heart jumped and my eyes roused. It is such a movie I won’t mind watching it for the seventh time.

I wrote the sentence above with pride and also homework. I have to look more from Gong Yoo’s catalogues after A Man And A Woman, Silenced, Kim Ji-young: Born 1982, Goblin (I’m still on episode 2). I have no doubts praising his talent, so I would just take more of his movies for reference purpose. Yes, Train To Busan is an impressive movie, but the one that turned me as a fan of Gong Yoo, in particular, was his role in what I could call as my favourite Korean drama till my dying day: Coffee Prince.

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Till my dying day sounds exaggerated, but again, let me be endlessly exaggerated if I talk about Coffee Prince. This sounds so miffed, no offence. Oh, I’m a Taurus. If Taurus loves something, he’ll show his love all out. Sometimes it’s too much, off one’s nut. For instance, the way I printed some favourite scenes of Coffee Prince and pasted on my wall ~ oh why, why am I so obsessed, my world. Trust me, I was laughing inside when I was standing at the printing shop. By the time I saw Gong Yoo and Yoon Eun-Hye’s faces printed so many, I felt like I was 11 years old collecting his favourite celebrity posters, an euphoric happiness.

 



I was once on Netflix after watching Train To Busan and found some KDramas starring Gong Yoo after typing his name. I did try one titled “Big”. I cursed. How cheesy, nope, skipped, never. Hush, it perhaps was an untimely judgement when I just watched Gong Yoo’s acting as a doctor in flash and suddenly gave a solid conclusion that the first fifteen minutes of episode 1 was so cheesy. Not him, the whole impression of the drama was not just for me, so “I would give a try for Coffee Prince, let see how this drama goes.”.

Since I came back to be a little more active on Instagram, IG Stories to be exact, there was one time I shared some thoughts on the day I started Coffee Prince. One of my good friends, Dwi Putri, replied that Coffee Prince is such a legendary Korean drama. Hold on, how could she think that way? Not ruining my expectation as I had none, also she was kind enough by not telling what the drama was all about but to left me enjoying the ride instead. She holds a Master Degree in Contemporary Korean Literature and Drama from Seoul National University*, trusting Putri as she said Coffee Prince is one of monumental Korean dramas is a hundred percent yes.

I started the premiere episode with nothing but a guess where the storyline would lead to. I did wonder why I felt like watching an old series as I laid eyes on the angles, cinematography, lighting, costumes and settings and felt like oldies. Little did I know Coffee Prince was released in 2007. Well I see. I was mesmerized on Chocolate‘s cinematography, my first Korean drama I have ever watched. Comparing the two isn’t Apple to Apple so I left my thought behind and enjoyed the whole first episode. I stayed for sixty-two minutes with joy in the air, “This is sweet. Hold on, she is Eun-chan, Go Eun-chan and his name? Oh okay, Han-kyul, Choi Han-kyul.”

The two names marked in my brain from day one.

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“Rhapsodizing Coffee Prince for me comes from three things: one, the love story. Two, Gong Yoo. Three, the overload winsomeness of Han-kyul and Eun-chan.“

Number three is the one I love the most. I mean, the idea of their love story? I might want to give a warm tight hug to the writers to congratulate how clever the love story was written.

Gong Yoo in 2007? kein Zweifel, natürlich. If in his portfolio mentioning his role in Coffee Prince as the breakthrough to stardom, that is not because he is an incredible actor, it is just because he is Gong Ji-Cheol. A charismatic and indeed one of the best Korean actors of all time but Han-kyul is what we have to agree as one of his unforgettable roles, fo e fah. What I mean as “we”, is all of you even though you never watch, or about to, or have watched Gong Yoo in Coffee Prince. Just agree with me and we could become friends. A cheesy exertion but trust me, you would love him both as Han-kyul and Gong Yoo himself.

I once threw a joke to one of my friends who also loves watching Korean Dramas, why when we find Korean drama that matches with our particular interests, related to the story, from the charming actors until how sweet the story is, we could be stuck from episode one till the end. When people I followed on Twitter were talking about Itaewon Class or It’s Okay Not To Be Okay, I used to think why they were crazy about Korean drama? Like, what made them following the series which mostly takes an hour for one episode, isn’t that quite inane? If I am not mistaken, the two dramas were updated weekly. Then I remembered, I shouldn’t have thought that shallow because my heart jumped when there was a notification on my iPhone every time the new episode of Sex Education was available. I went crazy whilst I kept wondering what would the next story be?

When people went nuts for Korean drama on Twitter I stayed away until I later sank.

I wondered, perhaps, Coffee Prince was a curse for me. It must be a sweet curse.

“I made a promise to myself that the last two episodes had to be celebrated in a proper way possible.“

I ended Chocolate on Sunday morning, with two forms of chocolate, coffee, popcorn, potato chips, plus candle after a “seven-days” gap. But Coffee Prince took longer for my heart to be actually ready witnessing the end of the story. From the day I started episode one and dived so swiftly until I reached episode fifteen, I gave myself fourteen days to be ready for the last two episodes. Was it enough? of course not. Too much? see, I do not care what people would think how this drama had turned me upside down, I mean it. I sometimes felt I was not OK diving into Coffee Prince deep and deeper from one episode to another. During two weeks time I fled from Coffee Prince by watching another Korean drama titled Fight For My Way and What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim? whilst I did guess every single day on how Eun-chan and Han-kyul’s love story leading to. Also, what were surprises I would find at the end.

“Should I, tonight?.”, opened Netflix, the closed. Another day, “Tonight? No, I am not in such a scurry.”, nope.

Another day, “I have to celebrate more than what I did for Chocolate, so let me think what to do.”, another day, until twenty four days passed. It’s crazy, isn’t it? My only justification was: “I am not ready to end Han-kyul and Eun-chan’s cuteness. I just definitely can’t.”.

A day before August 9th I had prepared few things for the finale as I imagined: red wine, cherries, chicken barbeque, salty biscuits and blackberries. Just in case on Sunday I woke up with an ardent heart to end it. I thought two hours before the sunset was the perfect time to experiencing the end of Coffee Prince. Everything was set. I took some photographs before I opened my MacBook and went straight to click episode sixteen. Then I stopped, ‘”No, not today. My heart’s frail”.

I drank the red wine while I enjoyed the sunset from my window.

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August 16 // 8:55 AM // Episode 16. The last episode before the finale.

A week after what I then called a rehearsal, I finally saw the light. When I thought two last episodes could be celebrated with one proper celebration, I did tweak the idea and broke it into two.

“Why don’t you welcome episode sixteen in the perfect morning, have a proper breakfast, brew delicious coffee with Moka pot, biscuits, also some cupcakes.”

Eun-chan’s depiction as a hardworking lady whose work spirit is genuine and diligently sacrificing for the sake of her family stole my heart from the very beginning. And I know myself so well, any story of “dream & determination” or “reach-your-dream” per se, I’ll buy it. There is a particular scene in episode 5 when the coffee shop just operated and they take a trip to the countryside. Han-kyul casually asks what is Eun-chan’s dream and she replies to live happily with her mom and sister, that is so simple yet meaningful. Later in episode 15, she opens to Han-kyul that her dream is to become a world-class barista. That teaches me that everyone deserves to dream big and has to fight for it no matter what.

Although generally, her life story has a bit “Cinderella-ish” spice, the way I love it is the fact that there is no such a shortcut for her which makes the whole story seems so real. I do love that she stands on her feet and using all support systems around her cleverly. And Han-kyul on this part? He has so many perfect boyfriend materials indeed. I love the way he supports her dream to study to Milan and leaves his ego of marriage aside, that shows he grows as a matured man. Oh shit I think there is no need to express how adorable their steamy kiss in Eun-chan’s room leads to cranky-too-cute Han-kyul in writing, and ew also the last scene in episode 16 :).

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August 16th // 16:37 PM // The Finale

My heart was a bit fickle as if I was in between of excitement and desolation leading to the finale.

It was a perfect afternoon with rosé, spicy pizza, rosemary potato chips, grapes, and natural light. I guess that day the universe supported my imagination on how to honour the end of Coffee Prince. Everything went smoothly although my heart was jumping like “Woah, this is it! Would I love or hate the ending woah, it’s here!”. When the opening of episode 17 started, I was trying not to let my what-ifs sank. I knew I wasn’t just being an infatuated kid for Coffee Prince.

 



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Frankly speaking, the only expectation I had for Coffee Prince was the finale. I won’t say I was disappointed that much witnessing their love story came to end but there was something that didn’t hit the “it-should-be-more-memorable” ending imho. Covering stories of each character in one episode seems baggy although it doesn’t do justice as the core of the whole story that matters. I won’t chide more but sharing my favourite scenes from the finale; the rooftop scene at the beginning is cute, super cute. When Eun-chan falls asleep while she is still on call with Han-kyul is adorable.

I love the scene when Han-kyul guides Eun-chan on the phone when she is packing all her needs in a suitcase, also to mention that the emotion of her mom and her little sister is subtle but feels so real. “WHY HAN-KYUL does not want to accompany Eun-chan before she departs to Italy, why??…” but Gong Yoo’s acting in his car crying after Eun-chan said saranghae is a BIG YES. I love the way their long-distance relationship is being framed with Eun-chan’s polaroids, I also love the scene showing that the friendship among Min-yeop, Ha-rim, Sun-ki along with Gae-shik has grown in the Coffee Prince shop. The way Eun-chan casually comes to surprise Han-kyul and he doesn’t seem “so-surprised” is a bit disappointing for me although I know the devil is in the detail. But their dialogue saves that (remembering the way he asked Eun-chan’s ID in the early episode), also thanks to Gong Yoo’s flawless acting skill.

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Summing up, the finale still evokes the same emotion as there are many simply amusing scenes in which I have to agree with my friend, Putri, Coffee Prince is still one of the memorable legendary Korean Dramas till date.


“Natural, remarkable and whimsically adorable, are three words I’ll use to picture Eun-chan and Han-kyul’s love story.”

In my humble opinion, the round applause for Coffee Prince goes to the fact that Gong Yoo and Yoon Eun-Hye’s role as a couple was unfeigned in a real life. It was a bit hard to believe all those fights and tears were not real, all those cute moments were not scripted, literally everything.

It is implausible not to mention which and which scenes of Coffee Prince are “worth-to-be-watched” for hundred times. I may lost count but I do have some remarkable ones in heart and mind. When Eun-chan hilariously meets shirtless Han-kyul for the first time. The iconic beach scene when Han-kyul is hardly holding his feeling. All those fights happen at the back of the refurbished coffee shop. That midnight scene when he drives back to Coffee Prince to admit his feeling to her (in which he still believes Eun-chan was a guy) and lands passionate kiss to her, Meine Güte, his words after that kiss are so powerful. When Eun-chan cries her eyes out in front of Han-sung telling how much she loves Han-kyul, omo. All those ‘super-duper-cute’ scenes when he shows his signs of love to her, his smiles, her clumsy ‘omg-he-loves-me’ acts, so many, so many without one single trite scene.

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For me personally, the core of Coffee Prince exists in episode 12. The opening scene is unforgettable, the way Han-kyul gives Eun-chan only three minutes to clarify whatsoever she wants to say while she keeps sobbing for forgiveness on the second floor is something else (IT IS SOMETHING ELSEin capital and bold, bitte). Han-kyul’s cry when he expects her as someone who’ll trust even the whole world goes against him is heartbreaking, it almost SWOONED me. His emotion is so damn raw, oh Gong Yoo. Excuse me, who had an idea of the chestnut scene? A scene when Eun-chan goes to his apartment while Han-kyul himself is staring at Eun-chan’s bedroom from his mini-cooper, holy moly, and the smile of Han-kyul after making up to Eun-chan? I died, yikes. The day after the chestnut scene, when he arrives at the coffee shop and smiles at Eun-chan’s scooter, the way Eun-chan blushing when she gives her cellphone to send a heart emoji to Han-kyul, and he smiles ear to ear when he receives it. It is definitely one of my favourite scenes ever (EVER and EVER in the history of Korean Drama, bold in capitals please).

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My Dear Youth.


I may say one of the felicities during the cruellest summer in this unbelievably year along with folklore is the fact that the cast reunion of Coffee Prince exists in 2020. I could imagine how much the euphoria bursts from Coffee Prince fans around the globe witnessing Gong Yoo and Yoon Eun-Hye sit together at the same memorable place where all those wholesomeness happened thirteen years ago. Thirteen? omo. I became a fan ~ “die-hard” fan as I claimed from the very beginning of this post ~ right after I watched the drama early this year and the excitement I felt in my heart when I first watched Gong Yoo in coffee brown shirt (how clever his stylists picked close to “coffee” theme, I guessed) entering the Coffee Prince shop and touching Eun-chan’s life-size photograph (and says “Eun-chan”) by the entrance paralyzed me; it is so warm and CHARMING I kennot.

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I can’t tell how much My Dear Youth completed the whole experience of mine among Gong Yoo in black shirt himself, episode twelve, the beach and the chestnut scenes, but waking up from a dream that Mas Gong Yoo reunited with Mbak Yoon reminiscing Coffee Prince made me fly peacefully and stayed on cloud nine.


And my last sentence to end this post would sound a little gauche, but I had warned you from the beginning that being exaggerated for Coffee Prince is always allowed:

My unconditional love for Han-kyul and Eun-chan stays to the moon, and the Saturn.

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side note

Oh, if I am still being crazy for Coffee Prince sometimes in the future, and rewatching it over and over again on Netflix, and I will pretend I miss Han-kyul and Eun-chan’s smiles, then staying late for My Dear Youth for hundred times, look for Dwi Putri (look what you made me do, Put), she is involved for my craziness :).


P.S. All photographs of Coffee Prince’s scenes were taken by screen-shooting from Netflix, My Dear Youth taken from MBCLife official page on YouTube, edited and arranged by me. (*) it is just a joke, anyway :).

Folklore

I am not gonna spin a yarn this time but writing my sincere upstanding to folklore. I’ll try to make it short.

I wrote my appraisal to the genius Taylor Swift here, giving my honest opinions on what is the best among all records she had ever released and best songs from each record. Last week, the whole world was shaken by her again when she suddenly dropped her newest record called folklore ~ yes, it’s stylized in lowercase. You might remember reputation, she never jokes if the album title is written in lowercase. This time around, there was no Easter eggs, not even one, crazy.

I remember I was about to watch another episode of Korean Drama series in the evening when I accidentally opened Twitter and I was bug-eyed when I read,

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“Most of the things I had planned this summer didn’t end up happening, but there is something I hadn’t planned on that DID happen. And that thing is my 8th studio album, folklore. Surprise. Tonight at midnight I’ll be releasing my entire brand new album of songs I’ve poured all of my whims, dreams, fears, and musings into.”

July, 23rd, 2020.

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The day I woke up on Friday, I could not find the album in iTunes and went straight to YouTube when again, I was a bit shocked that she had released all tracks through visually appealing videos complete with the lyrics.

My impressions when I listened to the first track was

fresh and brilliant, distinct.

In iTunes folklore describes as an alternative album, which is another genre she dug in after the success of country and pop. I was flabbergasted with the storytelling as her power as always, the instrumental details, how smooth and calming the entire sound in the record, the mesmerizing aesthetic, everything about this album is genius. I deeply apologize Red, I used to tell the world that you are her best craft ever, but this time around, folklore stole my entire heart.

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It has been a week I’ve been listening to all songs every single day, delicately sweet through my earpieces, dramatically harmonious in the air through my Allure. Truly, I couldn’t describe in words about August, the sweetest track in the record. I fell in love with Exile (Bon Iver is such a rad. After I listened to Exile, my love to Ed Sheeran when he did sing with Taylor in Everything Has Changed gone. The one with Bon is a killer, man, his voice!), Betty, Seven, Cardigan and all tracks. Yes, all tracks. Oh the bonus track, The Lakes, monumental, poetic. This is a record in my humble opinion, is her irreproachable masterpiece. That is the simplest admiration and respect I could describe.

I almost forgot she wrote Afterglow, Begin Again, and the one and only, All Too Well for a whole week.

P.S. The aesthetic above is gathered from different sources in Pinterest.

Oreos In My Pancakes

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“I might not feel guilty because there is oatmeal inside…”

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I once woke up by 3 AM out of the blue, starved, and grabbed whatever was onside (read: my working table). I took one Oreo without feeling guilty that I started the day (literally, it was a new day) with sugar. Sleepy eyes but my palate was happy, “Shit, so good.” I won’t lie, I took three more.

When I’m not that lazy on the weekend, I do prefer to have warm pancakes for breakfast than heavy Indonesian food, for instance. There is a ready-to-cook pancake flour but I always love to make it from scratch just because I love the process. I sometimes get what I call failed-pancakes when the batter is not right, I sometimes master it. It is a waste when I do not get it right, but it is fun when I get the fluffy pancakes – I use my feeling when I add baking soda and powder, perhaps that’s why. If I have ripe bananas, I always love adding it to the batter. No sugar added. Change white flour with oats, it is better. At least, you won’t feel much guilt for calories-reason. Just like others, I cheat to myself sometimes. Once in a while. Adding crushed Oreos along with oats for pancakes is what I’m talking about.

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ingredients:

1 cup of oats flour (it’s oats, just blend in the blender) ~ 1 teaspoon baking soda ~ 1 teaspoon baking powder ~ a pinch of salt ~ 1 cup of buttermilk (if you have it’s better than you add lemon or vinegar in to full-cream milk) ~ 1 egg ~ 2 ripe bananas, mashed ~ 4 to 4 Oreos without the cream, crushed ~ 2 tablespoon melted unsalted butter

Steps:

  • Mix oats flour + baking soda + baking powder + mashed bananas + salt + crushed Oreos in a bowl
  • In another bowl mix egg + buttermilk + melted butter
  • Stir dry mixture into wet mixture, the batter will be slightly lumpy
  • Heat your pan and add a little butter, medium heat. Scoop the batter onto the pan and cook until pancakes are golden, both sides.
  • Serve with berries, coconut flakes, hard-crushed Oreo, and honey

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You are ready to make your weekend morning brighter, enjoy along with your favourite coffee or tea!

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An Ode To Miss Swift’s Songcraft

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Talking about music, it has been a part of my morning rituals listening to some favourites beside a cup of coffee. I’m easy, I listen to any genres as long as its sweet and easy listening (mostly pop, of course, heavy metal? perhaps the only genre I won’t bother to listen to). According to my true self ~ this may sound overrated ~ I’m more into Ed Sheeran’s music. I just love how he creates songs that could touch any souls (Divide is my fav album of him, so far). I’m not going to write about Sheeran on this post but praising Miss Swift. If you read the reason behind all my online accounts named Ayiswift here, Swift isn’t really for Taylor Swift yet perhaps this time around, I won’t bother if it does just to show how much I adore her talent on songwriting. I don’t read celebrity news anymore (I did, ages ago) but from Twitter, I do read some flash news about popular human beings sometimes. Miss Swift, from the snake emoji from wellknown worldwide feud until giant snakes appeared everywhere on her Reputation tour, she shows us how to cleverly build a castle from the bricks they threw at you.

I have a playlist in my iPhone called “Taylor’s Masterpieces” where I gather 5 top songs from her each album and some released singles. I have no idea how often I play them in the air because truly, she is an amazing singer and songwriter. I have all her albums in my iPhone excluding her first debut, well I actually can put more than 5 songs from each album right?

Before I share which album is the best, in my opinion, I’d love to start with thirteen top songs she has ever released till date (why thirteen? isn’t her lucky number is 13? That’s what I know from social media. This list is inspired by an article by Rob Sheffield on Rolling Stone)

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Lasst uns beginnen!

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13  //  I’m a Nightmare Dressed Like a Daydream

We could count that particular lyric as a triumph of songwriting as most of the credible music critics praised Blank Space. Well, you must agree that nothing beats Miss Swift for her creativity on this song even though Thinking Out Loud took the trophy as Song Of The Year at Grammy, the same night when she became the first woman won Album Of The Year twice. That was a crazy night. She won the highest trophy when she was in country music and got one again when she created a pop album.


12  //  We Never Go Out of Style

Without mentioning how artistic the clip is, Style never fails to lift my mood up in the morning. It is such a perfect sophisticated song dedicated to imagining a dream of passing the California endless coast in an open vintage car in summer with a style when the sun disappears below the horizon.


11  //  No, There is Nothing Good Starts in a Getaway Car

All of her fans were wondering why she didn’t release Getaway Car as a single in reputation, most of them have been asking for a music video too, to complete the epic story behind one of the best tracks in the record. She built a cheating love story in a very smart and classy way along with Jack Antonoff. As I admire how both of them came out with the damn-I-love bridge on a creative writing session, I also admire how dark Getaway Car sounds from the intro.


10  //  Remember When We Couldn’t Take The Heat?

It’s weird but genius. I also love the idea behind the music video directed by Joseph Khan. I must admit the first time I listened to Out Of The Woods I didn’t really like the song, I was still trying to figure out how clever the idea behind the songwriting, how the chaotic love story was. But in the end, I must admit this particular song ages like wine. The best live version? when she performed with piano at Grammy Museum, it was deep, it was fragile. It was a magical version indeed which made me realised how her genius brain could turn the same song into a deeper love song.


9  //  I Love The Riddles that You Speak

Ours is a kind of simple romantic song yet cleverly done. The strength is on the lyrics, only an acoustic guitar is enough to let it resonance beautifully in the air. Ours teaches you that people throw rocks on the thing that shines which makes love looks hard but in the end, they can’t judge just because they have no clue how beautiful your love actually is.


8  //  My Thoughts Will Echo Your Name, Until I See You Again

Enchanted is definitely my favourite track in her self-written album, Speak Now. It’s romantic, charming, and sweet. I fall in love with the bridge as she never fails writing beautiful song bridges indeed.


7  //  They Took The Crown but It’s Alright

I’ve read what the co-writer behind Call It What You Want, Jack Antonoff, wrote when the song was just released, “Use your earpieces on midnight walk when listening to this song”. I tried once when I was walking back to my hostel in Hong Kong at 2 am. He was damn right, the song turned to be more magical.


6  //  I Don’t Wanna Miss You Like This

If you never know this song, it’s also written by Dan Wilson, the same magic hand behind Someone Like You performed by Adele. I find this song is vulnerable but in a very artsy way. It catches my attention first time the rhythm and the lines “Taxi cabs and busy streets, that never bring you back to me”, and “But you’re in London, and I break down, cause it is not fair that you are not around”. Although it’s never been released as a single from Red, it’s one of the best tracks from the deluxe version which she performed live for the very first time during the reputation world tour in Toronto, Canada, 2018.


5  //  Isn’t It? Isn’t It? Isn’t It?

Delicate’s one of the top tracks from reputation (I’ll be confused if you ask me which will I pick for the best between Delicate or Getaway Car). The music video is gorgeously executed even there was a rumour it looks similar to Kenzo ads. She’s well known for Easter eggs in every clip but the message behind Delicate is just stunning even without those eggs you need to find. My favourite part is the bridge, “Sometimes I wonder when you sleep, are you ever dreaming of me” , oh wait, this one too: “Sometimes when I look into your eyes, I pretend you’re mine all the damn time” I have one more: a whole song.


4  //  Everyday is Like A Battle, but Every Night with Us is Like A Dream

This one is also in my “Morning Booster” playlist. One of the best from 1989, I’ll repeat ONE OF THE BEST SONGS IN 1989, PERIODAAAAH. It’s the single and the way I love the music video which shows how magical attending her live stadium tour. You’d agree with me after looking at the endless ocean of crowds with those light sticks glittering. It must be an experience for everyone who has attended the tour, I hope I’ll get to attend at least once someday.


3  //  I Don’t Want Keep Secrets Just To Keep You, And I

I remember I once woke up in the sunny morning when Lover was officially released. I was still laying on the bed and my iPhone was automatically downloading the entire album as I did the pre-order. When it had finished, I reached my earphones and suddenly like, “THIS IS IT! THIS IS THE BEST!”, right after I listened to the first chorus. It’s an excellent bop from Taylor, Jack and St. Vincent which in my opinion I do not really need everyone’s approval to claim as the best song in her seventh album.


2  //  But On a Wednesday, in a Cafe I Watched it Begin Again

Okay, I admit it’s quite hard selecting her songs by how beautiful the lyrics are but my number two from her best would always be Begin Again. I mean, let me make it clearer. Paris, cafe, Leica, subtle morning sun, pastry and coffee in the music video, how could I love the whole scenes? How could you not love this timeless country song?


1  //  Cause I Remember it All, All, All

There is only one word to describe All Too Well: masterpiece. Everything about the song is perfect. The songcraft is something else, the details on the lyrics are brilliant. I didn’t know before that refrigerator light in the dark could be so romantic until I heard the line of “We’re dancing around the kitchen in a refrigerator light.” Only a genius could create that out-of-the-box lyric kind of. Every line shows the fragility of brokenhearted of losing someone in a very, really, I lost word to describe it any more.

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To understand Taylor Swift’s stardom, you have to start from a beautiful country track titled Tim McGraw from her first debut. I admit I started from Fearless, that was like ten years ago in a small office I worked as jewellery conceptor. There was one colleague of mine who loved to play You Belong With Me from a speaker placed at the corner of the room. I had no clue who Taylor Swift was until I copied a whole mp3 songs in Fearless from another colleague whose sister had a deluxe CD. Well, I wasn’t into country music then. It was just because I loved to have it for my music collection.

As of today, I praise Fearless as one of the best country albums of all time. I love to see how her transformation grows in each era which is impressively conceptualised. After watching some of her world tour videos and interviews on YouTube, I came to realize that Miss Swift is such a hard-working artist, out of the box thinking person, always craves for something best, and she’s (this is just an honest opinion, you can’t trust what media said right?) such a super kind. I adore how she controls her creative license on music, her ideas on how people said bad things about her and turned to be something could slap them back with Grammys. Isn’t that cool?

Before I end this post, I’ll rank all of the released albums excluding her debut based on my preferred taste from 1 to 6. Also, seven top tracks in each album including the ones mentioned above.

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#1 Red

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1989 is no doubt an outstanding record, but my highest appraisal is dedicated to Red: stunning, monumental, a timeless record. I fell in love on how wide the love spectrum was captured in the album through different romantic states. And in my humble opinion, her best songwriting so far was in Red.

Best tracks from deluxe version: Come Back Be Here, Red, All Too Well, We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together, Begin Again, The Moment I Knew, State Of Grace (Acoustic).

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#2 1989

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If everyone has the most favourite record of hers so far, mine is 1989 Deluxe. For me, the album is genius, classic, and chic. I love the fact that the world success of this album also made her as the first woman to receive Album of The Year twice at Grammy 2016. She definitely nailed everything in 1989 from the aesthetic till “Trust me, mine is better”.

Best tracks: Style, Blank Space, Clean, Out Of The Woods, New Romantics, Shake It Off, Wildest Dream.

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#3 reputation

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She showed us a bold statement, “Sit down and watch me” vibe, badass-side and the dark version of used-to-be-a-sweet-American-dream-girl in reputation. The world was shocked when she erased all her online platform and came back with Look What You Made Me Do. Most of the music critics didn’t really praise her songwriting in LWYMMD, but for me, it is a powerful come-back track which the longer you listen to it, the more you’ll understand she is not an average artist. She is big. She is powerful. She is unstoppable.

Best tracks: Delicate, Dancing With Our Hands Tied, Dress, I Did Something Bad, Getaway Car, Call It What You Want, End Game.

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#4 Fearless

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Her stardom raised in fame from Fearless, an important record in the country music history. Her success in this album with no doubt was because of her songcraft, her honest fairy love stories, and the fact that she successfully brought country music to the younger audience. A record with bunch of no-skip gems from the fragile Come In With The Rain until her sweetest lyrics in The Best Day, I put Fearless as one of my favorite country albums ever along with Golden Hour by Kacey Musgraves.

Best tracks (platinum edition): Fearless, The Best Day, You Belong With Me, Love Story, Come In With The Rain, Untouchable, Forever & Always (piano version).

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#5 Lover

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People had different opinions when she dropped Me! as the lead single of Lover which most of them thought why in capital letters where there is Cruel Summer in it. You might think Me! sounds so childish and garish, don’t count Hey Kids! perhaps it makes it worse, but for me, it is a fun song. Lover is a romantic record where you could listen to her most-honest side, it’s raw in a certain point, plus one of the most beautiful bridges she has ever written in a song titled the same with the album– in my honest opinion –, Lover is a love celebration in every angle, from her shiny love story, her voice for the LGBT community, to a hint of Saint Tropez, it is her most mature record till date.

Best tracks: Cruel Summer, False God, Afterglow, Lover, The Man, Cornelia Street (the live version in Paris is something else!), London Boy.

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#6 Speak Now

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I had a fickle heart to choose Lover or Speak Now for the last one because there are bunch of favorite songs in an album where she wrote every single track by her own. I repeat, by her own a.k.a. Taylor Swift only. She is a genius human being who could turn mean critics to Grammy in which she has taught all of us that the best revenge to people who look down at us is our success. Period.

Best tracks: Sparks Fly, Enchanted, Back To December, Ours, Long Live, Mean, Mine.

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P.S. All Swift’s photographs were taken from different sources on Pinterest. Edited by me. Originally written and published on January 11, 2019. Being updated on June 19, 2020, as an addition to complete her latest album, Lover.

Wrap It Up

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Guys, we are in the middle of the year already. How heartbreaking 2020 is so far, huh? IT REALLY DOES :(

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There is one verse I’ll always keep in mind if I’m in the middle of a bad situation: “Do not lose hope, nor be sad” – Qur’an 3:139. Even though it is really hard this time on all aspecs of life, globally, please do not lose hope. We are all in this together. I’m sometimes wondering to all plans I’ve had this year that most are need to be postposed and some are even cancelled. I wonder how long we have to be patient again to face our normal life back (or a new normal, as they call it).

Staying at home from the end of March and now I’m in June, holy moly! how fast. During the first days of the period, I was afraid of how would I manage myself in boredom. Some interesting ideas were in the sky: “You have time to play around with new recipes, take photographs and write more on the blog!.”, “Time for Netflix would be longer! Yes! Bonus: stay late and wake up late too.”, “Updating your portfolio must be inside your list!.”, “Decorate your room, probably repaint your wall into grey!.”, “Get your acrylic paint and start creating creative pieces of stuff!.”, “Back to IELTS online, sharpen your English!.”, “Don’t forget to exercise your basic German, see, it was a good thing you brought your Kursbuch und Arbeitsbuch!.”, etc, etc.

Facts: I did some of those activities even though hey! it wasn’t that easy. Sometimes your system has to adjust to the new situation and condition when mostly, bed is screaming louder than working table. Youtube was more pleasing than my books. As if boredom was just flying around your body, looking at the ceiling wondering when everything would be back to normal was such a daily activity. Checking what I have left in my account to survive (if you’re still working and having an income don’t forget to be grateful!), trying to look for something else to do just to let your system won’t be so bored and stuck. But here I am – as I supposed to fly back to Indonesia on early April but never know when will I go – feeling better with the new adjusted system. I know I had spent so much during stay-at-home, I know there are still a few personal things I have to accomplish, going back to the office twice-thrice a week as we’ve started back to the business slowly, I know I have to let some plans go, but again I must remember one thing: health is the priority, and I thank God for that. Also, for my beloved people over there.

I one time scrolled on Twitter during those days when everyone had started working from home and found there was one thing that seemed like a new habit: buying stuff online just because of endless boredom and ended with things they didn’t actually need. I thank God that kind of trap didn’t come to me as I know I love spending on food and nice things. To be honest, if you ask me if I have something I’d love to purchase online, two things: Airpods (Pro) and a cake mixer. The first is O-Mai-Gah stuff I’d love to have after I did borrow the one my flatmate has. I do think it’s not a bad idea to get one but I realise during this time, it could be wiser not to spend some money on a luxury. Two, I’ve been dying to start baking again, the fact that I have more time at home and wondering the smell of fresh buttery banana cake in the air from my oven, it could be something that makes me happier. But for myself? I’ve kept my faith for not to buy just a mixer but KitchenAid Artisan. Guys, I love nice things, but thankfully I’m happy being wise to myself at the moment. I’ll keep my dream mixer in mind but for now, I’d love to share a simple recipe yet super yummy you can try at home.

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Here is a super easy recipe you can try when there is a free time at home. Trust me it’s yummy.

Bonus: you don’t need to worry about hygiene and anything about the fat cause you have the control when you cook at home.

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Be generous with the chicken!

Sacred. Silent. And The Enchanting Dawns I Won’t Forget ( i )

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There is one man who always reminded me that I should have gone since. “You can afford it, you travel places but not there, why?.”

Every time that question stood in front of my face, I smiled.

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I kept answering with the same answer: “You know you can afford it easily because you have the money. But when the echo here, in your heart, never calls you, no matter what, you won’t go.”

His name is not Ibrahim but I don’t know why I always call him Mr. Ibrahim. He’s the one I always come to if I need to exchange foreign currency. Perhaps, what he told me was a sign from up. And perhaps, I was also true having that kind of logic because I do believe in one thing. A spiritual trip to the Holy Ground is not just about you can afford it, it is more about the perfect time He invites you to come.

I sat on the floor with my legs crossed. It was after evening prayer, there was an echo in my head whispering me one thing: “Perhaps it’s time.” Perhaps, I had to make the time. As I heard the echo, I was sure that was the time I had to make the trip. If I’m not mistaken, that was two months before one of the saddest times I had in life happened: my dad passed. It was October 24th, two years ago.

The echo in my head came down to my heart. That time was stronger, I had to make it. I didn’t think anything but to send him a prayer. I had a lot of wrongdoings I did when he was still alive, the distance could be one of the reasons but truly, I felt nothing but chagrined to the bottom of my heart. I should have done these and those but everything is futile right now. Nothing could bring him back, nothing I could fix. Until I’m typing this sentence I still grieved, I still keep my last tribute in the draft, I’m still broken hearted yet what I could only do to ease myself is to let him peacefully smiling up there through prayers.

Three days before my departure I told my mom about the trip. She was a bit surprised yet smiling at the end when she looked at my passport. I could feel she was relieved with the fact that I finally made the trip she always reminded me of. In our culture specifically, making a trip to the Holy Mecca could be considered as one of the essential life achievements. There is a culture of celebration by inviting people to send some prayers a day before the trip starts but I didn’t go with such a direction. I prefer to keep it as secret as the trip is such a personal one, and I did go there just for two things: to pray for my late dad and my self-healing.

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Time changed. And I didn’t feel the same.

I packed light. I dressed casually in black. I kept the tailored uniform inside my blue Herschel. I kept everything tidily as it should be.

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-Medina-

After seven hours of flight from Singapore, I found myself in Jeddah with a group of people. I found it interesting with the fact that the group contained forty years old and above. As I never involved myself in a tour before, it was such an experience.

I got a box of too-late dinner on the bus. It helped me a bit from starving but it didn’t release my exhausting mood. It was a quarter after one and I felt the weather was chill. Five hours on the road didn’t feel long as I thought it would be. I tried not to feel nervous cause I did prefer flying if I might say. Perhaps it would be different if we were looking at the sunset and being offered by a distinct landscape, but it was too dark from the bus window to see the road. Our old travel guide was telling some kind of rules and different prayers when I checked on how long we had until we could reach our hotel. As I kept everything tidily silent, I landed in Medina at midnight. By the time I stepped my feet out of the bus, I did finally feel the spark. I looked around, the street was quiet with some not-too-bright yellow street light at some corners, tall buildings everywhere, marbles, and different kind of midnight talks.

When we were almost done checking in, our tour guide announced we would have free time until 7 AM. The only thing I would love to do was just to get some rest on the bed. I stayed with two gentlemen in a room with three twin beds. I was truly exhausted but I couldn’t laze because the time we had wasn’t much. I unpacked all necessities out of my small suitcase and started preparing what to wear in the next few hours. I could only close my eyes for 2 hours and found myself under a warm shower thirty minutes before 4. My muscles could breathe, my eyes relaxed and my mind somehow was still in the air with the fact that I made the trip. Our hotel is right in front of Nabawi Mosque, one of the biggest mosques on earth and was built by Prophet Muhammad. As I’m writing this sentence I remember vividly the sensation when I first stepped out of my hotel: freezing, sacred, and memorable. When I finished with tahajjud, I did my last sujūd and accomplished my main purpose: asking God for forgiveness for my dad. It was emotional, relieved, happy tears on my eyes.

I took a deep breath, I felt indescribable peace in my chest. I received an endless blessing from above. I sat among millions of people in Medina on the alluring marble floor, I could clearly see my dad was smiling from above.

“I did it, I did it, Dad.”, I whispered to myself, calmly, waiting for the first obligatory prayer of the day.

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The twilight was enchanting. The dawn at Nabawi was the most beautiful one I’ve ever seen in my life.

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Medina stole my heart from the day I breathed the air. The sun, the sky, the breeze, the marble floor at Nabawi, how serene the morning was, everything. I won’t forget the feeling of gaiety in my heart every time I stared to the enchanting sky after dawn. The fresh air, the echo of prayer calls five times a day, the beauty on every corner of Nabawi mosque, the endless sacred prayers by diverse faces who came from every part of the world. The tranquil vibe in the sky before sunset.

I was speechless on how my system received such unbelievable goosebumps among the crowd in front of Prophet Muhammad’s tomb. Goosebumps which led me to shed tears. My eyes used to cry a little when I saw Prophet Muhammad’s hair at a museum in Istanbul with the calm Qur’an chant in the air. But standing in front of his tomb, where everyone cries, I didn’t know if that was a mixture of elation and desolation. What I knew, it was real. It was spiritually impalpable.

The day I realized I had to send such an adieu to Medina, my heart sank. Three days came to end and I headed to the next indelible journey.

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~ to be continued ~

What A Friday Morning


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Everything went normal like usual, I played my playlist through Allure, left it loudly so I could still listen to it from my room even the door was closed.

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There was something unpleasant happened to me days ago. I woke up from eight hours of sleep, even though I was still feeling so sleepy, I got up and went to the kitchen. I took my cutting board and went straight with an idea that was in my head from the night before. I had seasoned two chicken legs and continued making the sauce from the chicken broth by adding more red onion, chopped tomatoes, basic spices and curry powder. I like to plan what I cook even sometimes an idea pops out during the cooking process. I prefer to spend not more than an hour every morning if I cook the main food plus condiments, okay, if I have to do everything from scratch I will allow myself to spend an hour plus. That counts including packing the food, cleaning my kitchen station and washing utensils.

The curry sauce was done, I only had two chicken legs to be fried but I saw a leftover batter. Fried chicken legs with curry sauce weren’t complete for lunch, my mind said. At the same time, I didn’t want to waste ingredients because hello, I had spent money like crazy on food. It was a wiser version of me when I only took one medium size carrot, dice-cut, added chopped leak and red pepper, red onion and seasoned with basic spice plus crayfish. Everything went to the leftover batter and started frying.

Carrot fritters were done but my brain thought of something when I saw leftover spaghetti I cooked the day before. If I had to blame myself for spending more time at the kitchen, I would blame Masterchef Canada for giving me different kind of ideas, I spend my evening on Youtube watching different ideas on food through the competition these daysThis means I would become weaker in terms of saving cause my ideas are flying as well as my money. I wanted to deep fry the spaghetti and turned it to be something crunchy. I took some with a fork and put it in the same oil I used for the fritters. First one was okay, the third one gave me a surprise when the pan accidentally fell and boom! The hot frying oil kissed my left foot, near my ankle to be exact. I ran to the bathroom and took toothpaste. No no, something wrong, I shouldn’t have spread it on my skin so I put my tap on and let the running water chilled it out. I was worried like crazy because I knew what would my skin be after sometimes. I felt the same peppery feel in my left thumb, on my tight too, and eh some marks on the inner shin. Okay, I was done.

My hand was shaking looking for what was the best first aid to do on Google, options: cold milk, a mixture of honey and cumin, or aloe vera. The last one I didn’t have in the kitchen. I tried washing my leg with very cold milk also spreading honey plus cumin with hopes it won’t make my skin as terrible as I thought it would be, even though I knew it was useless. What a Friday morning. Even though one of my colleagues helped me to burst the blisters with a syringe and a purple liquid – I don’t remember the name –  that Friday at the office, but I still went to the hospital the day after in the afternoon for more professional treatment. Even the swollen part of my foot was reduced but got one injection, blisters were burst, cleaned and wrapped with a bandage, two different pills I must take in the morning and evening, were enough to make myself felt better. When the doctor said it would take six weeks for my skin to be back to normal, I had no choice but wishing it could be faster. Ah, at least I didn’t let myself see how he did burst the blisters because truly, I hate the hospital.

It’s been seven days and my left foot is still “uh” every time I manage walking. It shows progress but the open skin is the one that’s bit painful. I hope it will heal faster than it should be, I want my skin back :). Well, I knew I thought about that carelessness sometimes but lesson learned. Safety first, health is the priority in life, isn’t it? I know I’m managing my feet for now but it won’t stop me cooking. I’ll take sometimes to slow myself down not to cook every morning. I know it gets crazier since I started watching Masterchef. It makes me crave for more and more to cook something different every morning which I could just cook once for two days before that.

I would like to share some photographs of West African dishes I tried lately. Deep frying isn’t my style – which you would find easily in Africa, just like in South East Asia – but it was interesting when I could achieve the food as close as it should be. I need to learn more, I know, but knowing different techniques and tastes like Nigerian Jollof Rice and Coconut Rice, will enrich my cooking skill. Next time, I’ll share the ingredients and the step-by-step when I could achieve creamier taste in the coconut rice because this one below wasn’t close as I wanted even though overall, it tasted so good. The curry sauce was on point and I was proud of it.


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Coconut Rice Served with Curry Fried Chicken and Fried Plantain, and Coconut Brown Plantain with Strawberries.

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Jollof Rice Served with Coriander Infused Beef and Fried Plantain, Minimalist Coleslaw for the Condiment, and Butterscotch Almond Plantain for the Dessert.

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