Almost Three Years


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“I deliberately picked a seat on the aisle because I wasn’t patient enough to jump out of the plane. And Surabaya was gray, cloudy. The rain became such a gloomy welcome, after almost three years.”


If you ask me if I was really keen to fly home after two years plus which was the longest I had ever been away, the answer is no. I was feeling like “it’s not a big deal” even if I have to wait till the end of this year but I was thrilled I did it.

The pandemic was something else. It has changed few things in life we have never thought before. I remember, on Sunday afternoon in my room, I had a courage to sit and concentrated thinking about my itinerary. That time I was started feeling excited to think about the best flight to choose, how long my transit time would be, how about things to prepare when I landed in Jakarta as you know there are so many updates on the health protocols at the airport, and my wish to see Mbak Ririn when I was still in Jakarta (which we met!). 

I knew I would feel maudlin when I landed in Surabaya. The first person who always came to the airport every time I fly back home was Ruli, a best friend of mine who passed away because of Covid last year. It still feels hard for me not to find him not only at the airport, but during my stay in Indonesia, and the worst is forever. But I had made a promise to myself when I landed in Indonesia this time around, I want to live to the fullest. 

I loved how Surabaya was chill when I came out of the airport. “Let’s live to the fullest” echoed in my head so I took my AirPods and listened to August. I just wanted to create the most enjoyable and comfortable vibe possible while looking at the drizzles outside. It was the simplest thing that made me excited on my way to my mom’s house. I finally gave her an answer to be here and I couldn’t be more grateful.

From the day I landed, I tried to rush to do those important things way ahead so at least, I won’t be lazy to postpone things till the last minute. I was glad I did a small renovation for a small room in my mom’s house. A room I always stay in every time I’m back. So, “How far with your house?” question that has no answer yet.

I have prepared my mind before I travelled that my time in Indonesia would be 50% of “go outside and find coffees” and another 50% would be “chilling in the house with Korean dramas on Netflix is the best”. It is because I only had like one and a half weeks before Ramadan so I had quite limited time to hang out over coffees.

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This time around I had to postpone on vacation-thing. This year marks the second time I have an opportunity to do fasting with my family in Indonesia after 10 years of working outside the country (please don’t tell me it’s a long time!) so I think it’s a wise decision not to travel during Ramadan (hey I won’t be ably sipping a coffee or dark mocha during the day! and document it). The fact that I only have half of Ramadan in Indonesia, I decided to take my time during the fasting period with my family in the house. Gosh I know it’s going to be a bit hard when the time to fly back is finally here but again, I want to cherish my time here and try to live to the fullest.

One of the funny things I experienced lately is that I prefer to stay in the house after 3 pm. It might sound weird because I used to like to hang out till late back then. I suspect because of age (I know right!) but truly, I feel more relaxed and comfortable being at home after 3 pm. Also, Surabaya starts its rain mostly in the late afternoon so imagine being in the room with TwentyFiveTwentyOne or folklore when the weather is chill.

Do you know the funny part about being away for three years? So many things have changed since I was here before the world pandemic.

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Surabaya looks prettier and tidier. I love the fact that along Tunjungan street, there are so many cute little coffee shops and eateries which in the evening the vibe is inviting.

A best friend of mine Fahmi, has rebuilt his house and I was shocked because it is so much bigger (with a high ceiling!). Before we went for an early breakfast he took me to his newly-renovated house which made me want to slap my own face (I guess I should!). I neglected my house because I am not financially ready yet but again, I won’t let myself look for an excuse not to visit mine just to see how the condition is. Man, Fahmi was invisibly slapped me with “When will you do yours!!” and I always say the same thing to myself, “We have different directions so I am okay.” But till when will I be okay with this? :)

I got a piece of good news from Winda and Ayos that they are expecting their second child days after I landed here! I was so thrilled for them :)

We finally met again after three years over some sushi two days before Ramadan started. I really had a good time with them and Mas Raka until evening with scoops of ice cream. I won’t ask for more when we both had our time and tried as much to meet, sit and share quality time but be grateful.

I also made such a surprising welcome by showing up in front of Mas Andhi’s house as planned. I believe he was flabbergasted :). The day before I, we texted over Instagram DM and he didn’t have an idea we were in the same town. It was all fun keeping my arrival for twelve days in secret and then showing up in the morning when he half awoke :) and spent a whole day in his little cute coffee shop called Tropikal Coffee.

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I am ending this post by counting my days, hiks. Instead of growing the maudlin feeling, I perhaps should look for more food to taste when my fasting ends in the evening and document it :) oh, I managed time to have dinner at the same restaurant where Ruli and I always sat with tenderloin steaks every time I am here :) I felt you were there, Rul.

Happy & Sad (At The Same Time)

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“It was 10 PM when I landed in Jakarta after almost three years. The longest I have ever waited to go back home.”


You know that excitement when you had waited for so long for a thing you wanted to do, you thought your heart would be over the moon but you didn’t. That was exactly how I felt when I reached Dubai for six hours of transit.

I wondered why. I loved being at the massive airport again, I loved to stand in front of the destination board wondering if I someday could fly to those cities I’ve been dreaming for. I loved entering Boeing, I loved the vibe. I did feel that from my first flight, it was just like a dream I could be on the big aeroplane again looking for my seat, since the pandemic, travelling seemed like a diamond.

This time around I had that idea to record my journey through my iPhone. I wanted to have a livelier recorded journey than just some pictures. I was just trying to become a bit selfless by ignoring people around me. You won’t find me being busy with an iPhone recording things on daily basis, I might prefer to live the moment. But since the pandemic, my thought of that was slightly shifted. So from the moment I waited at the passenger lounge in Lagos, till I landed in Jakarta, I recorded some.

During my flight from Lagos to Dubai, I felt a bit excited knowing that I would eat my favourite authentic Indonesian food in the next few days. I felt a bit excited that my mom’s question every time she called me in the past few months would have an answer. I felt a bit excited that I would see my close friends. I felt a bit of these and those, but a thousand bits would be incomplete. I wondered. I wondered why I didn’t feel that “a complete, bold happiness.”

Perhaps before I even flew I already knew my plans in Indonesia would have to be shifted because I mostly would still be working from home during my leave (you might wonder how I feel about this). Perhaps because the plan of two months has to be shared into two, which on one side I felt like “it’s okay.” but on another side, it was a bit hard. I had imagined I wanted to feel the end of Ramadan in Indonesia with my mom and my family, I had imagined even though we do not have that kind of special celebration for a whole day. I even told my mom before I left and before I had a conversation with my employer that I would be home for a short time. She was a bit disappointed and reminded me how long I had been away. Sometimes I feel like, choosing my job over my family isn’t always right. I love what I am doing but since the pandemic, I am trying really hard to keep myself stable, to keep thinking positively about my mom’s health, to keep remembering that time is essential. Or perhaps, my feeling seemed to be down in the dumps knowing that Ruli had gone. I won’t see him picking me up from the airport as he always did. The last one might be the worst I ever felt, mostly when I stared at the clouds and wondered if he was even on the highest cloud smiling.

The fact that Ruli had gone was really hard for me. Even to date, I have no courage to tell you on writing here, to cement my feeling to my best friend for life, how much sudden I have been keeping since the day he passed.

Before I had my plan set last year, when I saw how travelling bit by bit became easier after the vaccine was invented, I told Ruli that I would be going soon. Then, when he was still alive, he told me that he missed me, asking me when would I fly home. We had this place in Surabaya where we always had steak every time I go home. We sat at the same restaurant and talked about our dads, about when would I resign from the job I am currently having and pursue my Master, about where would I be if I could travel again. After we had our meal, I always asked him to wait for a minute. I always stood at the end of the porch looking at the seat where my dad used to enjoy his meal. Little did I know, the way he left so swiftly with no signs, still, giving me that mournful feeling. So deeply.

I completely understand that we can’t force the universe for giving us enough time for everything. When I landed, I tried to leave some of those mournful feelings behind, but instead, I will try to cherish each day I have in Indonesia.

I followed the procedure at the airport on how to get tested after they collected data for my vaccine, PCR test result, and where would I be quarantined. I thought it was going to be a long process that would add to my cracking bones from how many hours I had gone through in the air. Everything was going smoothly till I entered in a hotel room that I picked the day before I flew from Lagos (this was not “me” at all for a last-minute reservation). I did miss that feeling of serenity when you can pause a bit from everything in life and take care of yourself. Having your body on top of a thick clean white blanket, bathing under a warm shower at night, sleep tight, knowing that you have passed so many things you thought were scary and difficult. I felt that when I let myself fall on the bed. I wasn’t sleepy yet even though my body was screaming inside. I thought about what my next journey would be. The pandemic must have taught me to be more present on how to prepare things when I travel. But at the same time, it scares me if something unexpected happens in between. I sat looking through the glass window, thinking I would extend one more night after if I received the result from the Covid test I did at the airport. The good thing about it was that I only needed to be quarantined for one day when I rang the reception the next morning and got a negative result. My mind was rested a bit. The night I sat in the hotel room, my mind was straightly thought to reach Mbak Ririn. She is the one who’s like my older sister from another mother every time I have time in Jakarta, one of the kindest persons I have ever met. I couldn’t help sending her an iPhone picture when the reflection of skyscrapers fell on my window. I kept my journey in secret to my close friends but not to Mbak Ririn. My time is limited in Jakarta and knowing on time if I could or couldn’t meet her again was better. I did expect so much I could see her but I didn’t it was all right. I felt like I should have told her I would be in Jakarta the day I flew from Lagos when I didn’t see any response from the message I sent after midnight.

When she replied we should meet up my heart was full of blossoms. I did realise that if her time and my time didn’t match, we wouldn’t meet yesterday evening.

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I couldn’t help feeling so excited when I came out from the lift and saw her standing in the lobby. We hugged so tight, feeling so grateful we could see each other again after the last time she dropped me at the airport thirty-four months ago. I felt so much joy when we finally sat in the car heading for a dinner. I was grateful knowing that she is healthy. I felt grateful I could pause a bit from those things I had in mind about my job, deadlines, and sitting over dinner with Mbak Ririn at a little and cute eatery somewhere at Cikini. We laughed, we shared each other’s stories. Listening to her stories when she travelled to Japan when the pandemic started, how much she loved the food in Kyoto, talking about how her colleague spent only three nights in New York for a conference because of pandemic, about how I felt about losing my best friend Ruli, those warm stories that again, I would store in my memory. I made a promise to cherish as many as I can all the moments I had and will have when I am here. I expected a longer time with Mbak Ririn than talking for an hour plus by the window but I won’t complain at the end. Because I completely understand how life works. When you have that will to see a person, a good friend or a best friend, after a long time, you must understand that it is not that easy for our “time” to work if it is not at the right time. So when you do have the opportunity, cherish it. Try not to expect too much but enjoy every second till the time to say goodbye is in front of you. By then, you will learn that really, something good happens for a reason, at the right time, and you will feel peaceful and sincerely enough.

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I never thought I would write a long post like this but perhaps, this is a good sign that I will be freely throwing my feeling again here, on this blog. Let’s see how my short time in Indonesia would be.

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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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 ~

Two Nights At

Back to where I spent two nights in November last year.


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Even this sounds mainstream but Ubud will always be one of my favorite getaway destinations.

Ubud always has my heart. Last year after I had a very hectic, if this is another word to replace a hard time, I flew to Bali for five days and decided to respect myself by ran from affordable hostel to a little fancy private room. It’s called AIR Ubud, an artistic Airbnb (it was a second time after my first try of Airbnb in Cape Town) located at Jalan Kanjeng. It’s near downtown Ubud, but getting there a bit tricky at the beginning. Thanks to the host whose quick response was helpful.

I stayed only for two nights which later I felt the regret. Not because it was too short, but my plan to do nothing was totally failed. I was on vacation but had to do some design concepts for one renowned brand for their annual biggest concert. I had no choice but did the work for the office. Although the room was so cosy and gave me good energy to finish the work, I finally squeezed myself for having a me-time.

My me-time was set on the last night till the next morning before I checked out. I finished my work early morning on the second day (ofc after I did sleep for three to four hours only) so I could have my nap. If you see the bed, you’ll understand why it was calling my name. Taking a proper nap when I’m having a vacation is one of the favorite things to do. Walking to Ubud downtown looking for lunch was the next thing I did, it wasn’t long of course cause it’s mandatory to relax in a beautiful place like AIR. Why bother leaving your room?

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I later had to tell myself on my way back coming to a restaurant nearby. I had Balinese mixed rice with a view the day before, rather than I came back with nothing, just in case I starved at midnight, I packed vegan fried rice (vegan, me? not now :)). It’s not funny to look for food while the location is a bit remote. The day became dark and as far as I remember, walking through the rice field was relaxing. Near the alley I had to pass, I found a torchlight rayed a spot on the ground which later I knew it was a little frog. Marian, a friendly lady from Spain, was the one who answered my curiosity about what someone did with a frog. From there, we spoke and shared some stories until the next day we had breakfast at the Cat Cafe. She travelled to some cities in Indonesia then (she was in Borneo to see Orang Utan. I should consider putting Borneo for a future destination).

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I came back to my room, having a packed dinner on the floor when I was on Skype with Andreas, and the rain was pouring outside.

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“I did find myself feeling comfortable when I stepped my feet in front of my room for the first time, I said, “It’s perfect”.

Perhaps, I should have stayed one night longer”

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Canggu

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I was in between two things for the rest of my stay in Surabaya. Staying in the house, shopping some last minute needs, coffee hopping with friends. Or quick escape for the sound of the ocean, sunset at the beach, a little fancy food, alone. I had dreamed of spending three days in Lombok since my new friend, Hayyi, stays in Lombok. But that time, it didn’t go well. In my fickle heart, I picked the second option to Canggu: booked a return ticket and a $5 new hostel two days before departure (counted as a little present for myself after I passed my German Prüfung).

I did mostly nothing: napping, 5pm to the beach, 7am sitting at Avocado Factory and Shady Shack on the next day, cookies ice cream at Kynd Community, affordable Javanese food in between, looking at all those strangers with dogs happily running around by the water at the beach, back to Pison for a hot cappuccino before flying back to Surabaya.

The most favorite part of my quick escape: witnessing the glory of the sunset while thinking about life.


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“I came as the first. It has a rice field right in front of the small space where I ended sitting with a bowl of greens, vegan chocolate mousse, and a cup of matcha made in heaven. It was a perfect way to start a morning in Canggu.”

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“I sat alone on the balcony at Pison. An afternoon wind was quietly chilled. I opened a book and read a few pages, I looked at my wrist watch when I finished with my meal and left a little coffee in the cup.”

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“Two nights at Socialista Hostel Canggu where it was easy to reach the nearest beach and felt the breeze of the ocean. Thinking about life, about most things I experienced lately. That was the main reason why I grabbed my bag and did a very short runaway”

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“Updating sugar dose on one fine afternoon at Kynd”

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“At Shady Shack, I had a blueberry smoothie bowl with pineapple smoothie on my last morning after reading some pages of a current book I was having. The sunshine was bright before turned into grey with a little drizzle from above”

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“And I got what I imagined and expected for, two sunsets on my two evenings at the beach. When I was staring at the gift from the universe, I  felt there are so many things to be grateful for this worth living life.”

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Slow Time In Cape Town

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I’m writing this post when travel bugs around me are flying higher. I think it’s such a good sign to hurry packing a bag pack and explore somewhere new.

This might be the last post I dedicated for a pretty city called Cape Town. Last year during this time, I was in my room thinking about a destination. Few choices, few new places in mind. I was pretty excited as always to start browsing where are the hits coffee shops in town, museums I needed to pay a visit, how about outfits to bring, and of course, thinking about how my indulgence in photography would be stronger.

Cape Town as I mentioned a few times on previous posts was beautiful. Having a week there was a cup of tea. Combination of nice weather (clear sky, tho sometimes was too-chill in the evening), delicious food, picturesque landscapes, freedom to visit and documented places as I wished without a schedule. I loved it when I woke up a bit late and took a good coffee nearby. I loved it when I didn’t need to rush because of drizzling and enjoyed the vibe after rain without an umbrella. I loved it when I went to a supermarket at noon and stood confusingly choosing what to eat. I loved it when I went to places and got photographs of Cape Town. All of these make me want to, let me repeat from above; make me want to pack my bag and explore somewhere new sooner than later.

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Colors I saw after I had a very quality breakfast and coffee at Truth


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To be honest I was quite disappointed with what I found “just this?” at Boo-Kap. Good news, it wasn’t far from where I stayed


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A little fancy brunch at Hemelhvijs (the ceiling has dry colorful hydrangeas). That day was very windy so I ordered hot Sri Lankan tea.


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It was a lovely and calming time at Honest Chocolate. Perhaps, it was the most favorite time I had when in Cape Town. I sat beside the window with cappuccino and banana cake when it was drizzling outside.


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Two photographs I took at one shop and one restaurant at V&A Waterfront .


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Strolling at Cape Town Civic Centre after visiting Ramadhan bazaar where I met one Indonesian lady selling Indonesian food.


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Okay, last ones. These were taken near where I stayed. The last morning and the last sunset.


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Table Mountain


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“A visit to Table Mountain could be counted as the only “must-do” I did, literally”

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As mentioned on several posts, my trip was a relax one. I didn’t really go places but spent my time as slow as I could. It was pretty much like, “Oh, how many days I have remain here?” 

I’m serious, when in Cape Town I was, “Really? I still have 3 days? I thought it was only 2”. I think because I was so relax and did nothing most of my stay then time was running slowly.

I had a fickle heart on May third, to visit Table Mountain cause you know: “Don’t wake me up, still have an affair with my blanket cause hey morning in spring is cold, very cold”. But again, I had to gather my will to visit one of the famous sites Cape Town has to offer. Basically there are two ways to get a ticket to Table Mountain, buying it on the spot or online. I chose the second option a day before I paid a visit. Either you buy it at the ticket counter or online, you still need to join the queue before entering the site.

My choice to wake up early (tho it was hard cause hell ya, it was very cold) brought me to a place that made me throwing smiles to the air. Many times. On my way to Table Mountain was perfect. I had sunshine thru the car window, passing some gorgeous houses along the way (they are so gorgeous, one of the reasons why I said you won’t feel “Africa” in CPT), the sky was clear and blue and too pretty, but two things missed: I had no proper breakfast and I didn’t even care with what I read on the website on how wearing proper shoes is recommended. When I was close to Table Mountain, I could already see how beautiful up there from the car: the peak was covered with thick white clouds.

These photographs below do not do justice how clear, how blue the sky was. Believe me, apart of layouts and some B&W photographs, no Photoshop’s needed to convince you how gorgeous this place was.

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I took a little deep breath and slowed my steps down when I was up there.

It was magical staring at those layers of clouds, standing with a magical view, fresh air and shades of blue.

I, remember”

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“It was typical spring weather, the sky was blue and the sun was bright,

but the air was as cool as my feeling.

I sat for an hour, with gratitude, staring at Cape Town from above. She’s even prettier.

Sometimes the breeze made me shiver a bit, but I had to say it didn’t stop me thinking that this earth is,

exquisite.”

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“I know I still have a lot of places I’d like to see with my naked eyes on this earth, there are a lot in number.

Sometimes, even just dreaming about each one of them, it gives me spirit to stand there someday.

Standing on Table Mountain was such a fantasy which came to real”

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Notes:

  • Take photograph of yourself with Cape Town as a background, don’t miss it even though you are such a BTS person like me. In my case, it was a bit tricky finding someone who familiar with camera so I had you know “why-this?” kind photograph (yes, it wasn’t pleasant when I got a dark one cause someone took mine against sunlight) ~ lesson learned, time to get a tripod every time I travel alone
  • I suggest to check the weather in advance to ensure it is a good day, no rain, no cloudy sky so you won’t miss how fun the cable car is (or if you love hiking then try to hike till up, it must be fun)
  • Standing by the side in the car when you could see the scenery from the glass is a plus. It was a bit terrifying for me first time I entered, but it was fun in the end
  • Check the official website to know more about your preferred time to visit, I did wish I was there for sunset. I could imagine how beautiful it would be yet in my opinion anytime is good
  • There are souvenir shop, cafe and Wi-Fi lounge up. Even if it’s not much, spend some rand for some souvenirs so you have something to remember from the trip
  • I went to the cafe for late breakfast, though you know typical tourist site the price is higher but I had nice sautéed mushroom, so I won’t complain (having breakfast with stunning view was pleasant of course)
  • Don’t spend too much of your time to take photographs, I mean it. It is difficult not to do so especially if you love photography cause every angle would be delighting. Take your time to sit, breath the fresh air while your eyes are pampered with picturesque scenes. It is worth every second

Schön Dich Wieder Zu Sehen!

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“It was a lovely morning. You could even see from an iPhone picture above”.


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Cape Town, May 5th 2018 

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Some movies on Netflix last night slacken my system. I woke up early on Saturday morning but my spirit was still hiding under a thick duvet and seemed so hard to leave. I could see the sky was still dark from the glass windows even though I nearly blind when I don’t have my spectacles on. That thick white duvet wasn’t the only thing I could blame. The air was very cold, no AC was on, I can’t sleep with AC on fyi. My system was really slow yet fortunately, I had packed all stuffs back to my small suitcase. It was so typical of me packing things night before I travelled. Thirty minutes gone and I was still trying so hard to leave. On the bed, I was cross checking my flight to Asia to ensure I had enough time before leaving this AirBnB.

I finally had my clothes on and prepared light breakfast from the food that was left in the fridge. I cancelled my plan to visit Truth for the last cup of cappuccino even though if I did, I still had enough time for Uber and an hour coffee time since the distance from the city centre to the airport is 30 minutes only.

My Uber was outside. That time, I realized the sky was way brighter than the day I arrived in Cape Town. The sky was very blue, the air was still cold, and the breeze was cool. The sun made the day clearer and it was a good thing. As I was listening to some songs with earpieces on my way to the airport, I was smiling all the way. I sat inside the car with a thought those days I had in Cape Town were amazing.

My flight was for 1 PM. Before I stood among those people who would travel to different parts of the globe, I slowed my steps down to record every single scenes in my brain. I was pleased by the fact that I’d seen a tiny part of South Africa but as far as I remember,

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“Till I stood in front of a huge clear glass window staring at two airplanes outside.

My good feeling was sinking to an excitement as if I couldn’t wait any longer jumping in the plane to memorize how beautiful a sunset that day would be. And also, to the fact that my vacation wasn’t over yet”

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On the way to Dubai, May 5th 2018 

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You know that feeling when you do not realize you’ve created some memories at some corners of this earth and started feeling blue cause it’s time to leave them there? When the plane was up small by small it gave me such an instant nostalgic feeling, but at the same time I tried not to be too maudlin. I could call it as a peculiar feeling number two on this journey.

Cape Town seemed as pretty and neat as the first time I stared out of the window. The blue sky I talked about was closer to me, throwing a perfect afternoon light on my seat. I started to let all those memories stayed in Cape Town when I tucked myself for nine more hours to Dubai. I knew I had to make this journey as comfortable as possible with blanket, earphones, The Shape of Water and low cholesterol meal I accidentally ordered online which was tasteless yet helped so much from starving (bad one, I had no chocolate mousse but fruits as dessert – no, you don’t eat fruit as a dessert, do you? – this is a honest statement, I was secretly drooling when I looked at a lady’s dessert beside me). Tasteless meal didn’t stop me to feel good cause a sunset I suspected that day would be pretty, came to be gorgeous.

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Landed in Dubai for two hours only gave me something I could count as a peculiar feeling number three. Well, not to mention how I was still bemused by the lady who sat on the same row on the plane that played Candy Crush for almost seven hours non-stop (believe me, she did. No movies, no sleep, like seriously). My peculiar feeling number three was how I, Azis – who’s picky for good food – was craving a crispy fried chicken. It was really strange how I thought about fried chicken and ended with a regret at McDonalds. What I got instead were one chocolate donut, one croissant and a cup of coffee cause I had no interest on McD’s burgers – I could tell you, I only eat burger once or max twice a whole year, not a fan. It wasn’t only fried chicken I counted as a peculiar feeling number three. I asked for a coke when I had my on board meal – I mean, that was something since I barely drink anything like coke and friends – and it tasted so damn good with ice cubes.

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Hong Kong, May 6th 2018 

Unlike the flight from Cape Town, I spent most of my time by watching some movies pretended I wasn’t bored. I should have slept more since I felt so tired but these eyes didn’t even want to close. The time I witnessed a gentle sunrise from above, I knew all those peculiar feelings were part of an upcoming exciting journey.

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I kept smiling after few photographs of sunrise were taken. It was pretty, it was tranquil. I smiled because I felt lucky still having an opportunity to travel, flying from one corner to another where life experiences awaited. I tried closing my eyes for an hour but I was awoke immediately when a harsh light fell thru my window. Morning light was brighter as the sun came up, it told me gently that Hong Kong was closer.

Those skyscrapers were seen among fluffy white clouds. It was a similar view I saw last year when I had a connecting flight from Tokyo to Jakarta. That was just few hours flying from the airport but this journey won’t be the same. I was on top of Hong Kong, a country I used to put at those last ones to visit cause I wasn’t interested, what else.

I was on the queue to enter a train to the immigration. I had one peculiar feeling of “Back to Asia” added when I stood and learned where the train would stop (how many times I said ‘peculiar’ here? You count?). It was a busy afternoon when my mind was even just, meager. I was feeling meager actually, blame my eyes. A message dropped from a friend of mine right after my iPhone connected to airport’s WiFi.

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He asked, “You’ve taken a train to the city?”

I replied with a picture of a route showed outside the train, “Not yet, heading to immigration first”


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I experienced the same thing in front of the immigration officer. Damn, it took longer to check my passport. I had no clue why perhaps my name? But it didn’t shake me at all. I mean, I had no clue what surprises I’d have so let’s face it. Immigration done and time to learn those signages on the spot. I admit I didn’t delve anything about Hong Kong, well somebody I could ask everything was there, lazy me. I walked with a little migraine, oily straight face, and stiff shoulders but my eyes and brain had to connect learning those signages where I should get a train ticket to the central. All I wanted that afternoon was taking bath, standing under the shower, clean towel and spray of perfume before lied down on the bed.

My steps stopped at one corner of a foreign exchange counter. Two o’clock, I came out to the arrival point and followed those signages till I stopped with worse migraine. Believe me, I’d be so glad if I had a magic door like Doraemon has. Although a magic door seemed like a mindless dream, I was standing with a dream when a 5,5 feet somebody surprisingly came from the right side. As my mind was still meager, I clearly remembered I didn’t expect any travel agents. But, there was Andreas Knogler with a little Mr. written thinner than Azis Abdul in capital on a piece of paper.

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“I had a daze for seven seconds till I woke up that this somebody was actually Andreas Knogler. It was ridiculous, diverting per se”

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On the eighth second, I realized it wasn’t a dream when we both hugged and I said, “Wie geht’s Herr Knogler?!!!!” (No I didn’t ask him in German, in English of course. Herr means Mr. as I always call him Mr. Knogler, fyi). If you are attentive enough how many exclamation marks on the German question, you would know how bemused it was. Andreas didn’t even tell me he waited in the airport and the way he asked if I had already taken a train to the city wasn’t such a piece of puzzles. Honestly speaking, I didn’t surmise Andreas could create a surprise which imho, it was ridiculously-geniusly done.

If you just visited this blog, I wrote how Andreas and I met in Tokyo on 2016 here. For the past two years we have been communicating through Skype sharing and talking random things every time we both free (on no, sometimes I have to book his time ahead – no you’re not reading wrongly – in case he’s climbing somewhere in Southern Italy, or running marathon in Athens). I must say talking to Andreas over the screen on Skype is always pleasing but had an opportunity to see him again in person this year was remarkable. I don’t know, there is something special about seeing best friends halfway around the world.

Andreas was way too kind for becoming a travel companion while we were in Hong Kong. I’m gonna share days we spent on separate posts when we had so much fun. But before this post ends, I want to share a note which originally written by him through Messenger two years ago, August 8th – I copied his note for a picture purpose, you all know. Please read his last sentence, you’ll start believing that universe has a magical way to make a sincere wish, strongly, secretly, becomes real when all opportunities meet together without even telling you when. Till right now, I could even feel the magic of this note.

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P.S. A photograph of Andreas above was actually taken few minutes before he caught a flight to Seoul. I asked him to recreate the scene of him holding that – travel agent, oh Lord it was funny- paper before he left Hong Kong for a short vacation whilst I still had few days left. Let me remind you one thing, it is true that some moments in life are fine to keep in our memory. But trust me, if you could freeze that moment into a photograph, you’ll have double memories which easier to be remembered in the next let say, ten to twenty years :)  

Truth And The Academics

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“Oh, you didn’t go to Disneyland when in Hong Kong?”, someone asked me last week.

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The happiest place on earth, people say, wasn’t on my list then. I honestly thought about it cause I’m still curious (yes, till today) how Disneyland is. Also, I used to be a big fan of Mickey Mouse. Next time if I have an opportunity to travel to countries where Disneyland’s located, I should try to pay a visit at least once in my life.

My answer for such a question above was the same and will always be. I’d stick on my travel style which is fifty percent of my time I’ll use it for “must-visit” places while another fifty percent is free. On the recent vacation, my free time was increased to seventy percent and I loved it somehow. I have a standard time when I visit a country for leisure: it must be minimum seven days stay. It would be great if I could visit at least two different cities but I came to realize that I much prefer to explore one city for a week cause that would give me enough time to find some ideas of my luxury (read: do nothing, coffee-hopping, taking a lot of photographs, late night ice cream? I’m listing). I was lucky enough I had two different cappuccinos at two different excellent coffee shops in two different countries last month.

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TRUTH COFFEE

– Cape Town –


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I had no idea that Truth Coffee was listed as the best coffee shop in the world by The Telegraph on 2016 when I was in Cape Town. You know, I woke up and thought, “Oh a cup of hot cappuccino would be good” then Google was kind enough to let me know Truth Coffee wasn’t that far from where I stayed.

Only 6 minutes Uber ride to finally pay a visit for a cup of excellent cappuccino and eggs benedict served with Norwegian salmon for breakfast. I’m not a coffee connoisseur, I just love to enjoy a cup of good one and examine as much as I could which coffee tastes good. And I must confess the one I had at Truth was excellent.

Few things: You could have your coffee as early as 6 am on weekdays and 8 am on weekend // Don’t ever expect sugar (nothing!) cause that’s the best way to enjoy coffee // I suggest to come when it’s not packed with people (so you could enjoy yours by the window, no rush) // Take some photographs of the interior, the steampunk-vibe is distinct (I didn’t take that many :)).

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THE COFFEE ACADEMICS

– Hong Kong –


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I admit one of the reasons why I decided to visit Hong Kong this year was the coffee. I heard there are quite many good coffees. I repeat this, I visited some coffee shops when I was there not because I’m a coffee connoisseur nor for Instagram purpose. Although after I read a post on The Telegraph about Truth Coffee was listed as the first best coffee shop in the world and The Coffee Academics in Hong Kong was the second I made a promise, “Ok, I’ll pay a visit”.

It was an accidental visit if I might say. It was just a day before I flew back to a real life, I was lingered around Central for Friday prayer. Well, I didn’t pray on time cause I woke up a bit late, took a wrong bus from hostel and also, finding the mosque was tricky (Google map didn’t help me much). When I was a bit close to where the mosque’s located, I passed The Coffee Academics and believed it was a sign to pay my promise, huh?

After I came back from the mosque – I took a wrong way –  (and some uphill alleys made myself weak, think I should start accompanying Andreas for hiking, sometimes in the future *fingercrossed*) and ended with a cup of cappuccino and a slice of carrot cake. It’s written on my bio on this blog that I could die for a yummy buttery croissant, I’ll add this: a luscious carrot cake is on the second place.

Few things I remember: I never took any food for breakfast till late noon that day, so the carrot cake was the first meal (that wasn’t a good thing cause I walked a lot) // The Coffee Academics has several locations, if you are in Hong Kong you could browse the nearest location in case you want to pay a visit, their coffee is excellent // Although coffee in Hong Kong isn’t that cheap but it’s worth to try. I asked for Shaken Viennese after cappuccino and I was blithesome after. When I stood and found, “Oh, Vienna”, I sent a message to Andreas with those silly wishes (well I know he used to it :)). I just took it as a sign that someday I’ll visit Vienna, so why not to try when I was there, right? // If you look at one photograph below where you could see a guy standing with his phone, that was where I sat. I also love to do this when I travel: sitting with a coffee and enjoying the vibe surrounds me. It’s a busy street, and you know Hong Kong life is hectic, so looking at people walking by when I was having my coffee was an experience // When I wanted to bring my cup in, a lady who works there came and took it from my hand. She smiled and we started a conversation about the coffee, it was a short one but lovely. I know I also love to do that when I could talk with a stranger with some smiles in between.

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