Thursday, September 8, 2016

When shit goes wrong

Hi guys, apologies again for the looooong break.
I’ve wanted to update this blog for a while but there was one thing stopping me (well, to be honest, it was stopping me from June to July. Since July it's just been sheer laziness on my part... sorry). But don't worry, it’s definitely not any indication that weird stuff has stopped happening in this country (if that happened I’d be on the first plane out of here). So here’s a little post that kind of explains my absence and I'm hoping now I can get back to blogging every Friday. So, I hope you enjoy.

You’ve probably guessed that Indonesia isn’t the easiest place to get stuff done. I guess considering it’s still a developing country, it’s doing okay overall but some things still don’t quite work efficiently.  And, that may be an understatement because sometimes I find it so frustrating when something goes wrong that I feel like giving up and fleeing the country is a better option than say- working out how to solve the problem. I know that's very dramatic, but  seriously this country is crazy sometimes and I don't even know what's going on...

If you've ever read this blog before, you've probably noticed from the earlier entries that bad things sometimes happen in this country (obviously bad things happen everywhere but somehow it's easier when you're at home). Mostly though, things will be going well for a while and then for some reason everything seems to fall apart at the same time.

For example, earlier this year, both our satellite TV and our internet were broken at the same time. This basically meant that we had absolutely nothing to do (we're a house of people whose weekends revolve around watching football on TV and considering we didn't have internet we couldn't even stream the games). We called both the companies and asked them to send technicians to fix it. Coincidentally, both technicians arrived on the same morning. The internet technician spent 5 minutes fiddling around with something, then claimed he was done. I checked and there was still no connection and told him to try again. He said he had to go somewhere else to check on something and proceeded to spend about 2 hours messing around without really doing a lot. Sometime in the middle of all that, the satellite TV man arrived. As I let him in the gate, he stood there kind of awkwardly (because I’m a foreigner I’m guessing). After a few seconds he finally asked: “So, where is the TV?”

Where is the TV? Where do you think the TV is? It’s not in the front yard.

“Ahh…inside?” I replied.

So we went inside and the satellite TV man actually worked quite well and had the satellite functioning within a few minutes which was great. He commented that it was likely that a cat knocked over the satellite and knocked over the satellite and that was the cause of the problem. My housemate Ika said “Yeah, actually there’s a lot of cats around” and our housekeeper Parmi added: “Meow meow!” Another useful contribution from Parmi.

But this post isn’t really about useless technicians. The real story happened at the end of May I believe when despite the fact that it was supposed to be dry season, Surabaya rained enough to flood my house and kill my laptop (a shopping mall and a hospital also flooded).

That morning I had packed up for a trip to Thailand, flown out of Surabaya locking my bedroom door behind me. When I arrived in Thailand and I checked Facebook I saw that my housemate Adam had posted pictures of a flood in my house, which is just excellent because I'd left my laptop on the floor. What can you even do when your house floods and you’re in a foreign country? I guess the best I could do was be grateful that I didn’t have to clean up the dirty, flooded house. I decided not to get stressed about it.

picture by Adam

picture by one of my housemates but I don't know who

If I'm being honest, I probably shouldn’t have left my laptop on the floor but you hardly expect your bedroom to flood. I mean, I could have really expected it because our house already flooded once before but who knew it would happen again? Especially considering it was the end of May.

pretty cool right?

 So, I came back from Thailand to find the full extent of the damage. The laptop was off being repaired by someone at work. I also found my teaching certificate floating in folder full of water which my housekeeper must have missed when cleaning up my room. My first reaction was “well I don't have a TEFL certificate anymore so I guess I’m staying at EF Surabaya forever now” and I accepted that and felt fine about it. Then, I realised that if I went in to a job interview and showed them what remains of my certificate and said “So, one time I was teaching English in Indonesia for 4 years and my house flooded, so this is my certificate now…” it would probably be quite memorable for the interviewer. I decided it was actually a good thing. A few other things were quite broken such as my banking security device but mostly everything was fine.

The next day I had to go to the bank to get a new security device. And for those of you who are unfamiliar with Indonesian banks, going to the bank is definitely not an enjoyable thing. Actually I hate it more than I hate most things. I try to only go there once a year, to transfer money back to my Australian account when I go home. So I forced myself to go to the bank but I didn’t realise that you needed your passport and your bank book (yes bank book, we still use bank books here afdkfdfkff) to get a new machine and the bank couldn't do anything to help me.

So, the next day I was back at the bank, this time bringing everything I needed. Ugh, my 3rd visit to the bank in 2016. It took about half an hour to get my new machine- half an hour of filing in random paper work, them taking photos of things with their webcam (including pictures of me, my bank book, irrelevant pages of my passport etc.) and snacking on the free candy the bank provides. 

While I was waiting in the bank I messaged my mum to tell her that whenever things like this go wrong it makes me wish I never moved to this country. She reminded me that things go wrong in Australia too but I still think blaming your problems on Indonesia is better than accepting that everyone has problems in their life, no matter which country you live in.

And the last step of recovering from the flood was replacing my laptop which couldn't be saved unfortunately (the laptop was about to die anyway and was probably going to need to be replaced this year plus I had backed it up about a month before so it wasn't a really big deal). I felt like buying a laptop was also one of those too hard things as it involved a trip to HI-TECH Mall. HI-TECH Mall is possibly the lowest tech mall in the city or even the world but it is surely the place to go when you find yourself in need of a new laptop. I'd never actually been to HI-TECH Mall but based on what I'd seen when I'd driven by I imagined it being like a dirty market, full of people staring at me. I tried to get the IT guy at work to help me but he seemed too busy to help. I considered asking him on a date and suggesting we go to HI-TECH Mall, but using someone for their laptop expertise doesn't really seem nice to me.

So I went alone.

I had envisioned HI-TECH Mall as an awful place. You might think I was being dramatic (and I was) but actually being negative worked well because when I got there it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I went straight to the Lenovo dealer and picked up this laptop. As soon as I’d paid, the lady in the shop advised me to go “tukar hadiah” ("exchange gift"?) which I had no idea what she was talking about, she walked me outside the shop and pointed at a desk with a sign that said “redemption” and told me to “Just go there”.

So I did. And then the most amazing thing happened. They made a mug. With my face on it. I take back all the bad things I’ve said about HI-TECH Mall. It’s clearly the greatest mall ever. Buy a laptop, get a free photo mug.

I made a collage of my visit to Hi-tech Mall to send to my Dad

So now I have a mug with my face on it, I spend my classes talking to my students about how beautiful the mug is. It's an amazing conversation starter really ("My brother has that mug too" "Your brother has a mug with my photo on it? That's weird" "Miss! No!"). Actually the mug went missing for a few days and I freaked out and thought I must have an office secret admirer who took it home but then it turned out that the cleaning staff just put it somewhere else and I got it back. The secret admirer option would have been more interesting though super weird. But -probably more importantly- I now have a laptop and can continue this blog (I know it seems like I'm more excited about the mug).

So, I apologise for the long delay, hopefully I'm back on track now. Thank you for continuing to support this blog.
See you next Friday!

Monday, September 5, 2016

The most complicated pros and cons list you've probably ever seen

This year so far has been extra amazing.

I don't know why exactly but somehow it has. Somehow, I have found myself learning a lot and working to improve myself and have started to figure out what kind of person I want to be. I've gotten into a really cool rhythm and have actually found myself feeling happier than I've ever been in my life.

I had every intention of getting my shit together, going back to Australia next year and getting my Masters degree. Actually, I wasn't even supposed to be in Indonesia right now, but I seem to take every opportunity to put off leaving here (because it will probably be the hardest thing I ever have to do). Every time I think about leaving, I want to cry. I don't know why but for the longest time I have felt like that.

This was supposed to be my last year. In my mind there was no doubt that I was leaving. Of course I was devastated by the prospect but I was going to do it.

Then, a few months ago a friend of mine said something along the lines of "don't leave, you love Indonesia, you should just stay". No one had told me to stay before and after it was suggested to me my brain became fixated on the idea of staying. I tried to push that thought to the back of my mind but failed.

Of course it made me feel bad, like I'd been making empty promises about returning. I have an overwhelming fear that eventually my family will give up on me. I have another fear that eventually I won't have any friends left in Australia. But I sat down and for the third time in my life wrote a pros and cons list on staying or leaving (I really should have just kept the last two, it would have saved time).

So, I want to share this list with you.I decided that not everything on the list was equal so I decided to use a colour-coding system to reflect that. I also may have missed a few things.

The items listed in blue are worth 3 points, those in purple are 2 points and the ones listed in pink are worth 1 point each. The points from the cons were subtracted from the points from the pros.

Stay in Surabaya


  • I'm happy- This is obviously the number 1 most important factor in it for me.
  • Can travel more- Being located in Asia and having a lot of annual leave makes this a reality.
  • Love my job- I think I'm part of the minority of people who drive to work with a smile on their face everyday. None of this "I hate Mondays" for me.
  • More free time- Due to really reasoable working hours and not having to do any housework I guess.

  • More fun- I'm not 100% sure on this one but I feel like theres a lot more serious stuff that has to be done in Australia. Plus going out for meals, karaoke, concerts etc. is so cheap here that it is easy to have a lot of fun.
  • Amazing friends- Obviously and I seem to keep finding more amazing people around somehow.
  • Lots of holidays- 4 weeks annual leave, 1 week off at Idul Fitri, 1-2 weeks off at Christmas, approx. 15 public holidays a year and the opporunity to take up to 6 weeks off (unpaid) between contracts. I don't know many jobs that give you so many holiday days.
  • Easier lifestyle- Things are just easy here, people are chilled out, there's no rush to do anything etc.
  • Nice house- Yea, having a big bedroom and a house full of nice people to come home to is awesome. :)
  • Gojek/motorbikes- I miss my motorbike even when I'm away for a few weeks. And gojek just makes my life so convenient- hung over? Order a burger on Gojek... problem solved.
  • My laundry lady- I hate doing laundry. Having your clothes washed and ironed for you for $3 a week? Amazing.
  • More unpredictable- I love the idea that anything can happen at any time. Even after four years here I still feel like I can't predict what's coming up next.

  • Improve my Indonesian- I haven't made any effort towards doing this in a long time but I really want to.
  • Good routine- Eating well, gym, social life- I could probably have this in Australia too but I'm scared that I won't


  • Feel like I'm not really achieving anything- I'm not really a career-focused person but I also don't want to achieve nothing or do the same thing for my whole life. Getting a Master degree would allow more options

  • Not a good place to be if sick- Yea, it really isn't. Ask anyone who has been sick here. Hospitals are businesses, doctors have no idea and even seeing a doctor is stressful.
  • Hard to find solutions to problems- When things go wrong you're gonna have to work hard to sort it out.
  • I feel like a terrible daughter- Yea I do. Sometimes I feel like I'm being really selfish.
  • Stressful because people always leave- Yea, not all my friends love it as much as I do, so I've outlasted a lot of people. Saying goodbye sucks. Every time.
  • Being stared at/annoyed by random people- An ungoing issue. No one stares at me in Australia which is really nice.
  • Khaki trousers- This is in reference to my uniform by the way. A valid problem for sure.

  • No relationship prospects- Yea, don't see myself meeting someone here due to the cultural differences (and being extremely picky) but to be honest not my greatest concern/ priority at the moment.
  • Never really going to have any money- I spend it all on traveling and never seem to get ahead. Could be exactly the same in Australia though.

TOTAL= 13 points

Go back to Australia


  • Family- Yes I really do miss my friends and family. And when things go wrong I really want to be there for my family. It's extremely hard to stay in contact and maintain good relationships too.
  • Better for the future- More options, more financial security. These are all great things.

  • Healthier- Eating well is easier in Australia. Plus I'd be more likely to say- go for a walk or spend time outside there.
  • Beach/more to do- Lots of fun events, lots of natural stuff. Stuff to do outside a shopping mall. Stuff to do that doesn't cost money. These are beautiful things.
  • It's a good challenge- I do have things very easy here. It would be really good for me to grow up a bit and try something else.
  • Less traffic/ pollution- Both of these are getting worse and worse.

  • Get masters- Would be a cool piece of paper to have.
  • Easier place to live- In terms of when things go wrong. I mean knowing what to expect and how to fix problems would actually be quite nice.  
  • Better food (kind of)- I mean most food you can find here and Indonesian food is pretty good anyway, but I really do love Australian food... Especially the snacks.
  • Good coffee- Yea there's coffee everywhere, but the coffee in Melbourne is the best!


  • Maybe will be miserable- Reverse culture shock could destroy me.

  • So cold- I haven't experienced winter since 2012 so I don't know If I can survive it. :(
  • Studying is boring/possibly not what I want to do- I think if something isn't 100% what you want, you'll have a hard time doing it properly and obviously a masters degree requires a great deal of focus and hard work. Also, I have never liked being a student.
  • Expensive- I feel like I can't even afford to have fun. I mean Melbourne is super fun when you have money but when you can't go out for dinner or go to a cafe to chill because you're a poor uni kid, it's pretty sad.
  • Some people I can't even imagine saying goodbye to- Leaving here would require weeks of sad goodbyes and crying and feeling like crap. Am I ready to do this?
  • No traveling- Poor uni student problems again....
  • Will be poor for 2 years (even poorer than in Indonesia)- And I'm used to being able to buy pretty much everything I want. So good luck with that...
  • So difficult- It seems like it'll be a struggle both financially and emotionally. And again I've had it pretty good for four years so am I strong enough?

TOTAL=0 points (Sorry, Australia)

A few weeks ago I made a decision. In the end, I decided to stay in Indonesia indefinitely. My decision was made slightly easier when I was offered a promotion at work which will give me new challenges (I am really excited about this)

But, I'm still really sorry to all my friends and family in Australia that were expecting me to come back. I do feel really bad for my indecisiveness. I really hope I haven't let anyone down. I also want to apologise to my friends here and the people of Surabaya because I'm still going to be here annoying you. So sorry guys.

The thing that motivates me the most to stay here is that I'm happy. I'm not saying I couldn't be happy someplace else but I feel like happiness isn't guaranteed and if you have it you should hold onto it. I hope that my friends and family are able to find this kind of happiness too, doing whatever it is that makes you happy.

Thank you all so much for your ongoing support and for staying with me through my indecision and all the craziness of my life.  

Normal post to follow on Friday. :)

Thursday, April 7, 2016

How to win at life (awful advice from me)

I don't know why anyone would want my advice but if you want my advice, here it is. But, I'm not responsible for any weird or awkward situations that occur due to taking this advice because probably the only result you might get is your life ending up like mine. I know a lot of this advice is 'What not to do' but I'm better at knowing what not to do than I am at knowing what to do and if you can avoid making the same mistakes that I have, you'll be better off for it.

1. How to get a boys/girls phone number 

This has been tried and tested* and I know it will work almost all of the time. This is how to get anyone's phone number.

Step 1: Take a photo of/ with the person whose number you want.
Step 2: Say "what a great photo" and try to get them interested in the photo.
Step 3: Say "I can send you this photo" then look down at your phone and say "Oh damn, I don't have your number."
Step 4: They'll give you their number.
Step 5: Win at life.

I actually have a version of this written on a piece of paper somewhere because my friends and I came up with this and I actually thought it was solid advice and worth trying. So please try this and let me know if it really works.

*Tried this on one friend, who probably would have given me his number if I just asked the normal way.

2. How to communicate with your more successful friends

Sometimes other people are just more successful than you and they get their shit together faster than you do but that's okay. That's called reality and you have to accept that. The best thing you can do is handle the matter with optimism and dignity.

I was in this very situation several months ago when a friend from high school messaged me to tell me that she'd gotten her dream job and was in a good relationship and that she was pregnant. Of course I was really happy for her (really, really) but when she asked how my life was going I was faced with a dilemma because how do you compete with dream job, great partner AND baby on the way when you have none of those things?

My reply was basically "I'm doing the same thing I've been doing for 3 years and I've been single for almost 2 years hahaha" which really is a bit of a buzzkill because actually I could have gone along with it and said something positive but I went with that... I sent that message November 24th and still no reply so I'm guessing I said the wrong thing. 

3. How to deal with rude/annoying/incompetent Indonesians

The answer is simple- sarcasm. Most Indonesians (those I've met here in Surabaya especially) don't understand sarcasm and you can use this to your advantage. For example, this guy I work with literally stuffed everything up that he was supposed to do for my class ahead of their parent teacher meeting and then spoke to me quite rudely. So at the end of the day I just said a simple "Thank you for everything today, I couldn't have done it without you" and it was actually comforting to say those words because in my mind I was being really rude and aggressive. But no damage was done because to him I was being unprecedentedly nice. I saw a smile spread across his face and I think we both left work that day feeling good.

It kind of backfired yesterday though because it was my first day back after three and a half weeks in Melbourne and I saw a girl I work with and immediately she said "Ohhh! You've gotten so fat!" (which by the way is a totally acceptable thing to say here and not considered rude). And I was thinking "kind of true, probably should get to the swimming pool tomorrow" (And also "damn you hipster Melbourne burger bars and Easter and Iced Coffee BIG M's") but I guess I was a little upset by it. I just replied with a very sarcastic "Oh thanks for that, I'm really happy to hear that". She obviously didn't notice/understand the sarcasm in my voice and just smiled, nodded and said "so so fat". Great self-esteem boost right there. :)

4. How to make an awkward situation and weird out a potential future husband at the same time!

I actually forgot about for a long time (I probably buried it under the countless memories of awkward things I've done since) but this came back to me about a month ago. Although this is something I'm actually quite embarrassed of, I'll share it with you so you can avoid making the same mistake.

This happened to me in mid 2014 when I was working at Jember (a small town in East Java) for a week. Jember is quite conservative especially compared to trashy Surabaya. I went to Jember during the first week of Ramadan and it is definitely Muslim majority and almost everyone was fasting. No one forced me to fast of course and I'm sure everyone would be really understanding had I not fasted, but I already felt like the only Westerner in town and enough of an outsider that I decided to follow the crowd and fast. 

I thought it would be easy considering I'd already fasted the year before. But I guess I forgot how hard fasting was because you have to get up at 3AM for sahur which basically means shoveling as much food and drink into your system when you're not even hungry and barely even awake so that you can get through to 5:30PM. And I actually only realised I was addicted to coffee when I started having withdrawal symptoms. The teachers at Jember were all like "If you have a headache you don't need to fast" but I was like "I've already starved myself for 10 hours, I'm finishing this!" And when it got to time to break the fast each day, I would break the fast with Panadol rather than food. 

Throughout that week I got hangrier and hangrier and I missed coffee so much. I managed to hide it from the teachers at Jember and instead texted my boyfriend at the time, Frans (still a fake name). I also got so frustrated with the lack of variety in the food there (noodles, rice, noodles, rice, repeat)  and had a mini breakdown over Whatsapp messages about it. Frans got so worried about me that he actually tried calling Pizza Hut in Jember to save me! It got that serious!

By Friday, I was so relieved that the week was over and I had no intention of fasting again after that. On Friday night the teachers all went for after work drinks. Well, I guess it was the Jember equivalent of  that. Instead of beer, we got some STMJ (a drink made of milk, egg, honey and ginger). This was the last thing I had to do in Jember before heading back to Surabaya the next day and remember that I had been on my best behavior all week and despite being starving I still acted like a reasonable human.

Then I fucked up. I don't know why but I made a joke about wanting to marry this random teacher. I really really don't know why because I'd barely noticed him and I don't even remember his name but I just said that.
"He's already married" someone said.
And then I said the stupidest thing possible:
"It's okay, he's Muslim, he can have more than one wife". 
I think I'd completely forgotten that these people barely knew me and didn't know my sense of humor. It also wasn't even remotely funny so I guess I can't blame them for not laughing. But honestly at my office in Surabaya everyone already knows I'm never serious and people would actually laugh (maybe just out of awkwardness... but still)! 
But not in Jember. I was met with a long awkward silence. 
Finally, one of the female teachers broke the silence with three simple words "Polygamy is bad". 

And then it hit me like a ton of bricks that they didn't know I was joking. What do you say to that anyway? Because that girl was right and I didn't want to argue and make it seem like I thought polygamy was good. I sat there in stunned silence realizing what I'd just done. But by then, the conversation had moved on and I didn't want to interrupt reasonable conversation to steer it back to my embarrassing comment. So I left Jember on that note. 
(But seriously all the teachers in Jember were so lovely so I hope they forgot this ever happened too)

Back in Surabaya I headed straight to McDonald's to talk it over with Frans. But, not before he made the sign of the cross so that the McDonald's customers would think he was Catholic and he wouldn't have to feel bad about not fasting (even though we were in the middle of McDonald's and the other customers were also not fasting).

So my advice on this matter is: don't do what I did. Act like a reasonable human while you're around a place where people don't get your stupid sense of humor.

If you guys have any matters that you need advice on, feel free to submit them to the comment box below... and I'll get back to you with some advice, because I'm really good at giving advice as you can see above. Thank you for reading guys, hope you learnt something :). 

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Crazy Celebrity Situations 2: RAN

RAN was easily the first Indonesian band I ever fell in love with. It happened one day back when I was still living in Australia when a friend got into my car to take a road trip to Bendigo bringing with him RAN's music. Since then I have listened to their music a lot. 

When I was in Surabaya doing my teaching training I saw that RAN was set to appear in Sutos and jumped at the opportunity to see them. On the day of the event I was so excited about it. When they came out on stage I was mesmerised. It was so much fun and they were so cool. At the end of the concert Nino gave me (and lots of other fans) a high five. I got really nervous and excited and when he gave me a high five and grabbed his hand and when he tried to walk away I didn't want to let go so I just kept holding on and he couldn't walk away... That was a bit awkward I guess.

the best photo I got on the day
The next time I watched them was three years later at Colours pub (aka my least favorite place in the world). The billboards advertising the concert said that it started at "10pm sharps" so after I finished work at 9pm, I went straight over completely skipping dinner. There's something terrible about being in Colours sober so I decided to have a few beers, but three glasses of beer on an empty stomach proved to be quite disastrous. 

By the time RAN came on stage I was pretty drunk! I stopped caring about being normal. At one stage I yelled out "I love you" which is probably perfectly reasonable concert behavior but doesn't really look so cool. Later I yelled out at Rayi, "Rayi! Rayi" Rayi!" and when Rayi looked over I just said "hi" because I didn't know what to say. Then he asked "where are you from?" which I replied with "Australia, America and England" which is an extremely unclear way of answering the question (I was actually at the concert with an American and an Englishman so it kind of makes sense). 

That night was the first (and last) time I rode a motorbike drunk because I didn't really think about what I was doing. But while I was riding I realised that I was too drunk to be riding home so it ended up that I was sitting at some traffic lights giving myself a pep talk in my head "Don't crash, you're almost home, there's no traffic, just drive properly" etc. But after awhile  when I noticed that lots of other motorists were staring at me, I realised I was talking out loud. Don't ride a motorbike while drinking! 

Anyway, a few weeks after that RAN were to come back to Surabaya for another event. Because it was there 9 year anniversary of playing together they organised an event called traktiRAN (traktiran means "to treat someone/ pay for their food") in 9 different cities with 9 winners in each city. Of course when I found out Surabaya was included I started working on my entry immediately. I had to make a collage using pictures from their music videos and write a caption. I spent hours on it over the course of two weeks and even after working on it every day I still wasn't satisfied with it in the end.

Seriously my caption was this long and probably full of mistakes but I don't even care because I love bad English grammar and I hope others appreciate my bad Indonesian :D
Somehow, I got kind of cocky about it at one stage and even spent $100 on a new outfit to wear to meet them (this was several days before I could even enter the competition). At the time I thought of that expression "don't count your chickens before they hatch" but I realised that counting chickens was good fun. I told myself if I believed I was going to get it I'd be more ready to deal with it when I got to the day. I was quite confident until the moment my entry was actually submitted at which point I felt extremely anxious. Lucky I taught 6 classes in the just over 24 hour period that they were accepting entries or I would have spent the whole time on Instagram checking if there were 9 entries better than mine. I wondered if I had written enough, if I had written too much (probably) or if my entry would even be noticed in a sea of other excellent entries. Finally when I got the message saying I'd won, I felt like I could get back to my normal activities (why am I so dramatic?). 

My entry
On the Sunday RAN were set to appear at an event with Sheila on 7 and Raditya Dika which I was super excited about because I love Sheila on 7 too and I have read all of Raditya Dika's books and love them too. I didn't really know what the event was about or how it worked (I'm constantly confused in this country) but I went anyway. I'm going to put the events of the day in point form because it's easier that way. 
  • The place was so full of people that it was hard to move around (typical Indonesia though).
  • We went into a big hall (actually a basketball court) and heaps of people were squished in there.
  • I ran into one of my students there and he asked if I was alone and I didn't want to say I was alone but I obviously was. Slightly awkward.
  • I quickly started to feel like I was the oldest person there... I may have been.
  • After awhile the MC's came on and told everyone to sit down. They spent 15 minutes telling people to sit down. There was literally not enough room for people to sit comfortably.
  • I had to sit uncomfortably for 4 hours because the room was so full it would literally be impossible to get out. Literally was in pain for the next two days.
  • I hadn't eaten or drunk anything all day and I was kind worried I'd pass out.
  • About 30% of that 4 hours was actually interesting- the talks by Pandji Pragiwaksono and RAN were interesting but by the time Raditya Dika came on I was too tired and dehydrated to even concentrate on what he was saying enough to understand it.
  • Finally RAN came on the perform and we were allowed to stand up and I felt 10 times better. 
After RAN's performance I left. I felt like I should go home and have a quick shower because I felt pretty gross after being in that room all day and didn't want to meet anyone looking/ smelling like that. I even had to change my clothes! So I didn't even get to wear my new outfit to meet them but luckily months before I bought an outfit for another future plan (that I've realised is never going to happen), so I wore that instead. 

I met RAN at Soto Cak Har. As soon as I saw them I felt so much more nervous than I had anticipated. I felt like I couldn't even talk in the beginning, there were things I wanted to say but trying to get the words out of my mouth felt impossible. The other girls who won the competition were very nice too and far more confident than me. I eventually convinced myself that I had only one chance and that I shouldn't waste it and managed to say a few things. 

Obligatory celebrity selfies.
RAN were really chilled and down-to-earth and the experience made me feel happy to be a fan of theirs. My top three favorite things about the experience were:

1. None of them said anything dodgy or sleazy or weird. For those people who are interested in people saying sleazy things just wait for Crazy Celebrity Situations part 3  (which in reality I can probably never write because I'll get into too much trouble).

2. They mentioned that they like to use Go-jek which to me was really cool because I'm quite bored of rich/successful people bragging about their drivers and fancy cars and lifestyles. So when Asta said "Yea I just use Gojek in Jakarta because it's quicker" I realised he was about 10 times cooler than I originally thought.

3. The other girls at the event asked for a few things- "can you make a video for my friend to wish her good luck on her exam?"/ "can you write me a long letter in this book?"/ "can you guess the password on my phone?". The RAN guys never said no which I thought was really cool because I'm certain those things made those girls really really happy. 

A couple of months back RAN appeared in Surabaya again. I only found out the night before when I was already kind of drunk. When I woke up the next day I was super hungover and almost didn't go to the show. I told myself it may be my last chance ever to see them (it probably won't), took some painkillers and left. 

By the time I got there I felt better and I really enjoyed watching them. The best part was that I didn't have to endure 4 hours of sitting uncomfortably on a basketball court. Towards the end of the show Asta handed me his guitar pick. You know how guitarists usually throw their guitar pick into the crowd? He walked over and put it straight into my hand! That was pretty cool.
His face is even on it!
I'm not sure if/ when I will get to see RAN again but I really hope I do. I just hope I can see them in places that are a bit more relaxing than that time at the basketball arena. But it's often a lot of effort to see concerts here and you've just got to hope it's worth the trouble. But overall, I feel good knowing that the guys in RAN are good people which makes me enjoy their music even more. 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Weird stuff that happened in Singapore

Please don't think I've run out of stories of weird things that have happened in Indonesia... I don't think that will ever happen. Everyday is weird. I just want to recognise that this world is weird, even outside of Indonesia. Even in a country as developed as Singapore, weird things happen.

I've been to Singapore a total of 3 times. The first time was with some uni friends at the start of 2012 and I don't remember anything weird happening. Well, except for Segway Eco Adventure, because segway eco adventures can't be anything but weird (it was literally riding around a track on a segway while reading facts about the environment).

Anyway... The second trip was when things got a little weird. It was November 2012 and I just got my job in Surabaya after a lot of struggle and then a little waiting (which felt like a lot of waiting considering I wasn't very patient back then). Finally, I was on my way to spend a year in Indonesia (which then somehow turned into 4 years). I had to go to Singapore to secure a business visa before going to Indonesia.

I was told to book a hotel for two nights. Basically the flights, hotel, food and visa expenses were to eventually be refunded by work, so it was kind of like an all expenses paid trip to Singapore (well except for entertainment expenses). I felt like a very important businessperson at the time.

When I arrive in Singapore, I was kind of not in the greatest mood because I'd just said goodbye to everyone I loved in Australia and I was depressed about that, and I just had two days to sit alone in my misery before arriving in the place I actually wanted to go to. But I decided not to waste the opportunity and to get out and explore.

this was my hotel, it was a bit old and creepy but it had a bathtub so I quite liked it.
I arrived late at night and crashed at my hotel. The next morning, I had to meet the visa agent. The HR department of my school sent me these instructions: meet the man under the red umbrella at McDonalds at 9:00AM and hand him your money and your passport. It sounded really suss. I don't know why I trusted it at all come to think of it. What kind of person gives a stranger their passport at McDonalds?

A person like me, I guess. But It turned out the HR people forgot to mention that I should bring extra passport photos so as soon as I met the passport man he actually yelled at me really angrily to go get new passport photos done. So I was giving my passport to a mean man at Mcdonalds now...

But in the end, I just had to trust the process and go off and enjoy my day. Basically after dropping my passport off, I got to go and hang out in Singapore for the day and later swing by McDonalds again to collect my passport. 

So after leaving McDonalds I was quite enthusiastic and  I went and explored little India and ate some street food and wandered around the streets. But I was tired to begin with and after I'd walked around little India for a bit I was quite tired, plus I didn't really know what to do because I hadn't really researched stuff to do in Singapore.

So, I ended up just sitting in some random outdoor area to do some people watching. After about 15 minutes, I realised that one of the people I was watching was watching me back! I smiled at him. He said hi. He asked if I wanted to go for a coffee and I didn't have anything else to do, so we went to Starbucks. His name was Rahul* and he was fairly new to Singapore.  

After we finished our drinks, Rahul decided to be my tour guide. He took me to all the touristy places in Singapore. That was a really nice thing for him to do so I was grateful that he helped me kill a few hours. He took me all over the place and insisted on taking heaps of touristy photos which I didn't really want or need.

This seriously felt like the most photographed day of my life!
Then he took me to Bugis market for shopping and gave me advice on clothes to buy. I really thought guys hated going clothes shopping with girls but Rahul was fine with it. And then we went for food at some food court. And then I was starting to get really sick of this random guy.

In the afternoon it was raining really hard. I explained that I had to get back to the McDonalds to get my passport and I thought he'd probably take that as his cue to leave. But he followed me through the torrential rain while I was rushing to get to McDonalds in time. I was actually running through the rain because I was worried about what would happen to my passport if I didn't make it in time. But, we had to wait around because the visa man was late in the end. Rahul spent the time taking photos of me at McDonalds. 

Something to remember my time in McDonalds...

I was pretty young back then and didn't yet know how to get rid of an annoying guy and I felt kind of bad that he'd helped me see so much of Singapore and I didn't really know how to ask him to go away nicely. So that's how he ended up walking me back to my hotel. 

I was a bit uncomfortable when Rahul then decided to come into my hotel room. To be fair to the guy, he didn't actually try anything. He was actually a really nice guy but there aren't many people in the world that I'd want to be around for 8 hours so really it was just too long. We were watching Wipeout on TV and he was again taking photos of me and taking photos of the things I bought that day. I kept hinting that he should leave, but he never seemed to get the hint. So most of the conversation I was making was "so do you need to leave to meet your friend now?" and "I'm actually really tired, I'm about to sleep". Somehow, he seemed to not see that I obviously wanted him to leave.

He insisted that I arranged the things  I bought on the bed to take this photo. 
A great photo of me opening something with my mouth?
Eventually he decided to leave. I said goodbye to him at the door to my room and he went to give me a hug and I wasn't having any of that and went for a high-five instead. So we high-fived awkwardly and he left. The hug/high-five moment was so awkward that it felt like my face was on fire but I was just so relieved it was over. I started getting ready for bed. 

Five minutes later there was a knock at the door and he was there again saying he'd forgotten his jacket and it was even more awkward because I still hadn't fully recovered from the high five and he was there again. I was scared he'd try to hug me again but I think he felt awkward too so he left right away.

So, that was Singapore. I kept in touch with Rahul for awhile. Well mostly he kept in touch with me, even asking me to go travelling with him which I decided not to do. He told me to let him know if I was ever in Singapore again.

And I was- I went back again not long after that to get my working visa. I felt all fancy because I was making an international day trip. The idea of going to a country for one day is quite amazing, especially for an Australian. But actually, the experience was less than amazing because I had to take the earliest flight to Singapore which is like 6:00, which means I had to leave for the airport at 3:00 AM, so basically it means no sleep, and then it's a long day before I got the last flight back in the evening and got home around midnight.

The second visa trip went well though, aside from being exhausted. Oh, and I've just realised now that I "forgot" to tell Rahul I was in Singapore. Oops.

So what do you guys think? Is 'Weird stuff that happened in (insert place here)' okay? Or should I stick to Indonesia? I get the feeling it's going to mostly be about Indonesia anyway.  Thanks for reading guys :).