Category Archives: Byq Trip

An Update (Again)

Standard

Just came back from my annual visit to Indonesia. As usual, to celebrate the CNY.

This time, Chinese New Year feels different for me. In so many ways.

Not only that now I am no longer receiving angpao, and instead having to give kids ones, it was also… I don’t know. Ambivalent? I don’t know, I am not even sure how to put it. What I know is that in this trip home, so many things has changed. And, I realised that I have changed a lot too, since the last CNY.

img_2534

Mentally, mostly.

One little thing like… how I feel when I was surrounded by family, for example. It has changed too.

I used to like being left alone. I can blame it to my teenage angst, but now I can appreciate it more. I can appreciate being surrounded by cousins whom I haven’t met for at least five years, or nieces and nephews I haven’t never seen before. I can appreciate the attentions, as much as I could appreciate them leaving me alone in the past.

Or, the way I reacted to the problems in the family. I feel that I am no longer trying to fix stuff. It was, of course an effort not to treat my sisters and brother like children anymore. They are adults now, and the realisation has helped me to let them go, and be their own person. And they are their own persons, and I am proud of them.

It’s just…

Being the eldest in the family, there’s always this feeling of wanting to protect my sisters and brother. They probably don’t need my protection, not anymore. But it is always ingrained in me, the sisterly tough love to them. And, to be honest, this is probably the closest I could ever be to parenthood, so… IF they read this, I hope they understand if I was mummying them. (No, there’s a difference between mummying, and mummifying. Pay attention!)

Anyway. One thing doesn’t change though…

The FOOD.

As the closing of today’s post, I will present you: THE FOOD

img_2714 img_2725 img_2764 img_2787

Advertisements

When Mr. Fix-It Is Having Days Off

Standard

Belated Happy Easter, people.

Yeah.

It is said that Easter is supposed to be a bigger celebration than Christmas if you are a Catholic. Roman Catholic. I’ve been told that by my teachers at school. Mind you, I was schooled in a Catholic schools, so I just took in what they told me.

And, why? I heard you ask. Why Easter is supposed to be bigger celebration that Christmas. Well… Apparently being undead is a bigger magic trick miracle than being born.

Anyway… I am not in the mood for religious argument. Talking about Easter is supposed to be coincide with Jewish Passover, or that what we now celebrate as Easter is actually he pagan spring solstice celebration. But oh well.. it doesn’t matter. Does it? People will believe what they want, and I could just ignore it and enjoy the holiday it gives me and Mr. Fix-It.

We went to London.

My plan was brilliant, of course, by taking my beloved husband to V&A museum. It wasn’t heavily packed with people, considering it was Sunday, and school holiday. But sometime after lunch Mr. Fix -It decided that it would be nice if we abandon V&A and go to Science Museum.

And then we realised. Going to museums that catered for kiddies in school holidays is not a good idea.

Granted that the queue in front of Science Museum was not as long as the one in front of Natural History Museum. But you couldn’t judge a museum from the queue in front of it, really. Because when we went in to Science Museum, it was packed with people. I hated it.

I mean… I never hated going to museum, but I never went to a museum when it was incredibly… incredibly packed with children like that. Oh the agony. Wished we never left V&A.

ac497480-9e9a-46cd-8067-6c8c62579ecc

Me trying the gauntlet. Should have bought hand gel to sanitise my hand after putting it on.

Oh well.. We did have fun though. We went home completely exhausted, but happy that we did what we did. I wish he could have a longer holiday ūüė¶

 

Eating My Papaya

Standard

Okay… I will admit that it is a stupid title. But papaya is all I could think of as I just had a box full of papaya so I hope you don’t mind. And, how did I get papaya in the UK? Well, there are papayas in the UK, obviously. But no, I am not having papaya in the UK. I am in Indonesia right now. Home.

It is a sudden decision. I am quite surprised with this myself. I am not known for being impulsive. Usually my decision will have to go through a series of thought process before finally taking place. This one, it is purely emotional.

I think it started with the new year blues where I would like to have a kind of celebration, but ended up sulking at home. I told my mother a little about how I would like to be in Solo when we are celebrating Chinese New Year. The problems are: 1. Mr. Fix-It would not be able to go with us, and 2. His Birthday would only be a couple of days from this year’s CNY. So it would be a tricky matter.

My mum said: “Worry not, just plan a holiday and come home”

I think it was my dad’s idea. But dad likes using mum’s mouth to voice his idea. Oh well, every marriage has its own dynamics, doesn’t it?

So few weeks ago I planned my visit. In my plan, I would like to stay for a few days in Jakarta so that I can meet up with some old friends. It didn’t work, because of the reasons you might have known. The day when I took off from Norwich, terrorists bombed Jakarta.

What a bunch of nasty pile of slimy shits!

My dad was panic, and sent a direct order for me to get the first (Garuda and only Garuda) flight I could get. So after a long 18 hour journey, and a day rest, I flew to Solo.

There… It is where I am now eating my papaya.

Prost!

We’re Back!

Standard

I think I could slip one more entry before New Year ūüôā And yes, we are back from visiting Mr. Fix-It’s parents for Christmas. As much as we’re happy to see them, we are so delighted to come back home and just relax. Especially after all the troubles happened.

Okay.

If you have seen the holiday films, you would see that nothing would go so smooth. You thought that it was just a movie, and it would never happen to you. You are wrong. It could, because that’s exactly what happened to us. Yes, even when we have carefully planned our trip.

Weeks before the travelling day, we have sent the car we’re going to drive in for a check and service. We have booked the hotel way in advance so there’s no last minute rush. We cleaned the house, wash our clothings and get cards and gifts sorted, so we could go very early in the morning without any silly delay. Yes, we planned to leave the house around five in the morning because last year we arrived at Wales quite late, and apparently driving in Wales’s windy road in the dark is not the best thing you could have for a happy driving.

Everything seems to be in the right place.

Until when we got up at half four, getting ready and slipped our toothbrushes and toothpaste in our bag…

I heard a lout expletives from the back room. Mr. Fix-It looked frustrated and miserable. The boiler busted again. You know the love-hate relationship between the Brits and their boilers? Yes, our boiler had problem earlier this year, and just before we left the house, it went again. It drenched the boiler room and almost flood the back room too. We had to stop the water in the house so that it would stop dripping.

My husband phoned the council to report it, and got an assurance that someone could come to get it done once we are back from holiday. But we’ve already late from our schedule.

First crisis evaded. We loaded our stuff to our car, set the satnav.

AND… the car is not starting.

It just didn’t want to start. I mean… we we believe in sign, we would just cancel the holiday, thinking that it is a sign sent by the universe telling us that we should not leave our house at all.

Luckily, our house is a little bit up the slope, so all he needed to do is to give our little car a nudge so it rolled down the slope while he jumpstarted it. The car engine works again, but the engine light was flashing and it made Mr. Fix-It incredibly twitchy. I googled a little when we were filling up our tanks, and told him that the engine light would take time before it goes. It did stop flashing on our first stop in the motorway service.

That is… when we realised that Mr. Fix-It has left his phone home. And he was the one in contact with the B&B we’re going to spend the night in. Luckily, Mr. Fix-It had slipped in his “emergency” mobile phone in one of the bags. He managed to access his e-mails and we’re saved. For now.

I have to say that this trip might be fun for me, but not so for my husband. Bless him, he could not rest for a minute because my father in law and his wife, and I were just making more and more troubles for him. His dad kept asking him to do some ground work, and I got horribly drunk after my father in law poured my third glass of black russian. Probably the only people who were actually trying to make Mr. Fix-It felt relaxed were our B&B Host.

Yep.

We are so happy that we are home. The repairman came this morning and fix our boiler. And the car haven’t done anything dodgy so far. AND… we still have few more days of holiday ūüôā

 

Bybyq Goes to Indonesian Embassy

Standard

My passport is about to expire, so I had to get a new one. After a very discouraging phone call to the Indonesian Embassy about a week ago, I felt a little bit doubtful that I would want to see those bureaucrats. However, since I do not have much time left, I decided to pursue this further by going there by myself. I followed the information I gathered from the phone call, and also from the official website of the Indonesian Embassy, and bring the documents asked: my passport, 4 passport photos 4x6cm red background, postal order to pay for the service and also a special delivery envelope.

It did not start well. The bus I took for the journey was 30 minutes late. Mind you that the passport service only opens from 10.00 – 13.00, and god knows how long the queue and the process would take. I had a day trip return ticket, I did not want to come home empty handed. Have to admit though, the anxiety too the best of me for awhile… luckily Mr.Fix-It was with me (he is on holiday).

Good job we knew where we were going, as we went to the Indonesian Embassy last year for the election, that we did not waste time running around finding our way. In the embassy’s reception, we were sent downstairs. Contrast to the one upstairs, the consular’s office downstairs is a dingy, hot, and slightly manky. There were only two officials there, one that was busy talking to visitors, and the other one who was doing god know what behind the desk. No matter how long the queue was, the one behind the desk would not move his arse to help.

Maybe it was his job description. I do not know.

Anyway… I got served, and he gave me more documents to fill in. It was not a biggie, there was a telly that kept my husband busy while I wrote my name 4 times, my UK address at least 6 times, my Indonesian address at least 6 times, my phone numbers at least 10 times, and sign those papers before handing them back to the man behind the glass window.

What’s not surprising me is that apparently the information in the website is not accurate — except the payment method, and I had to go to TWO different shops — very specific shops to get another passport photos and a prepaid special delivery envelopes (nobody says anything about PREPAID envelope in the website, if you bother to check the website again).

Anyway, I did not care. I just want my passport to be done, so that I could start applying for the visa I need to visit THE¬†wedding in Germany this summer (hopefully my German would be good enough by then… so excited). I did not even care if my photo in the passport would look like a war refugee because I was so tired and angry for the treatment I got from the public service officials in the embassy (and the fact that those photos would stick there for the next five years).

I am done ranting… I just hope I do not have to deal with the embassy’s officials in the near future.

Cheers…

Istanbul: Maiden’s Tower dan Bosphorus Cruise

Standard

Dua hari terakhir di Istanbul, saya rasa barulah kami betul-betul melihat indahnya tempat ini. Baru ngeh kenapa kota ini diperebutkan dua kekaisaran besar, untuk dijadikan sebagai pusat kekuasaan mereka. Sungguh tidak heran deh…

Dengan lebih dari 90% penduduknya beragama Islam, tidak heran kita bisa melihat masjid di sepanjang jalan. Erkan, tour guide kami, bahkan mengingatkan untuk tidak menggunakan masjid sebagai ancer-ancer, karena di setiap ujung jalan kami pasti akan bertemu masjid. Tentu saja kami sudah siap-siap untuk mendengar suara adzan lima kali sehari, mengingat begitu banyaknya masjid di Istanbul, tapi ternyata tidak. Tidak ada panggilan, aktivitas di pasar, restoran, tempat wisata tidak ada yang berhenti menjelang waktu beribadah.

Salah satu Masjid di sepanjang jalan dari Anatolia menuju Istanbul

Salah satu Masjid di sepanjang jalan dari Anatolia menuju Istanbul

Saat ditanya, Erkan hanya tertawa. “Ya benar,” katanya. “Memang 90% atau bahkan 95% penduduk Turki ini beragama Islam, tapi di kota besar macam Istanbul, cuma 3% bahkan kurang yang pergi ke masjid atau solat lima waktu.”

Erkan melanjutkan, “Orang Turki, karena sejarahnya merupakan masyarakat yang toleran. Meskipun saya tahu tetangga saya muslim, tapi kalau dia ingin minum alkohol, saya tidak akan melarang. Mau puasa silakan, mau tidak puasa suka-suka. Mau pergi ke masjid silakan, mau tidak pergi tidak ada yang menghakimi. Itu sudah normal di Turki.”

“Hanya saja, satu hal yang kami tidak lakukan…” Erkan menunggu, membangun suspense. “Makan babi!” katanya.

“Aneh memang orang Turki ini. Menurut hukum agama kami, tidak sholat tidak puasa dan minum alkohol dosanya lebih besar daripada makan babi. Tapi kami lebih sensitif soal makan babi daripada dosa yang lain. Aneh memang kami ini…” katanya mengakhiri pembahasan, disambut tawa kami semua.

Begitu memasuki kota Istanbul, selat Bhosporus biru membentang di sebelah kiri kami. Terlihatlah juga sebuah pulau kecil dengan tower di atasnya. Maiden’s Tower. Bangunan bersejarah ini milik pemerintah, tetapi upkeepnya diberikan kepada swasta dan interiornya digunakan sebagai restoran. Saya rasa ini ide yang sangat bagus untuk mempertahankan feel kota tua yang dimiliki Istanbul.

Maidens Tower, menara kecil di Selat Bhosporus

Maidens Tower, menara kecil di Selat Bhosporus

Maiden’s Tower memiliki banyak cerita. Sama seperti Indonesia, Turki memiliki banyak mitos dan legenda lokal untuk menjelaskan suatu daerah. Maiden’s Tower sendiri memiliki setidaknya lima urban legend. Tetapi salah satu yang paling terkenal adalah kisah mengenai putri raja dan ular.

Alkisah, suatu malam dalam tidurnya, Sultan mendapat mimpi. Dalam mimpi itu seorang ahli nujum berkata padanya bahwa putri kesayangannya akan meninggal digigit ular. Sang Sultan sangat mempercayai mimpi tersebut, dan ingin menyelamatkan putrinya dari kematian. Dipikirkannya seribu cara, sampai diputuskannya bahwa Sang Putri akan ditempatkannya di sebuah menara di pulau kecil, jauh dari ular.

Setiap hari, pelayan akan datang membawakan pakaian, dan makanan untuk Sang Putri. Dayang-dayang memenuhi apapun kebutuhan Sang Putri, dan apapun yang diinginkannya. Suatu hari, datanglah kiriman makanan berupa buah-buahan segar dari mainland. Makanan kesukaan Sang Putri. Tak disangka, seekor ular berhasil menyelinap di keranjang buah itu dan menggigit tangan Sang Putri pada saat dia hendak mengambil buah dari keranjang. Sang Putri pun meninggal digigit ular.

Not a cheerful story…

Tapi Maiden’s Tower ini memang bagus… Butuh ekstra perjuangan buat naik ke atas tower, yang dari jauh tidak kelihatan terlalu tinggi itu. Tapi sampai di sana kami bisa melihat indahnya selat Bosphorus.

Btw, Selat Bosphorus iki opo tho? 

Selat Bosphorus dari puncak Maidens Tower

Selat Bosphorus dari puncak Maidens Tower

Turki ini adalah negara yang letaknya tepat di perbatasan antara Asia dan Eropa. Pembatasnya ya Selat Bosphorus ini. Di sebelah Timur Selat Bosphorus adalah Turki di Asia, dan di sebelah Barat adalah Turki di Eropa. Inilah yang menyebabkan Turki begitu kaya dengan budaya, meskipun tidak jelas apakah ini budaya Asia, atau Eropa.

Setelah makan siang di restoran di tower, kami naik ke kapal. Bosphorus Cruise adalah salah satu kegiatan wisata yang sangat populer di Turki. Jadi kami akan mengarungi Selat Bosphorus sambil melihat Turki dari laut. Percaya atau tidak, dengan sedikit pengamatan kita bisa melihat bedanya bangunan dengan pengaruh Eropa dan bangunan dengan pengaruh Asia.

IMG_6446

Pemandangan dari dalam kapal, Kota Istanbul yang padat dan sibuk

Dari Selat Bosphorus, kami juga bisa melihat tempat yang akan kami kunjungi keesokan harinya. Topkapi Palace.

 

Istanbul: Hippodrome, Blue Mosque, dan Hagia Sophia

Standard

Jauh sebelum Kota Istanbul dikenal dengan nama demikian, kota ini tidak lebih dari sekedar kota nelayan kecil dalam wilayah kekuasan kekaisaran Yunani dengan lokasi yang sangat strategis bernama Byzantium atau Byzantion. Saat berjayanya kekaisaran Romawi, Byzantium — karena lokasinya yang strategis itu, dijadikan sebagai pusat kekuasaan Romawi dan diberi nama Konstantinopel (Constantinople), atau Konstantinopolis (Constantinopolis), dari nama Kaisar Konstantin.

Berkembangnya kekaisaran Romawi ini sejalan dengan berkembangnya ajaran agama nasrani. Penduduk Byzantium yang sebelumnya adalah penganut agama Pagan Yunani, mulai beralih memeluk agama Nasrani mengikuti pemimpin mereka. Silih berganti pemimpin Konstantinopel ingin menjadikan kota ini sebagai kota suci, menggantikan posisi Roma sebagai pusat agama Kristen. Namun keruntuhan kekaisaran Romawi, diikuti dengan berkembangnya kekaisaran Ottoman, Konstatinopel pun jatuh, dan kemudian diberi nama Istanbul, dan Islam pun mulai dijadikan sebagai agama utama di kota tersebut.

Sekilas begitulah garis besar sejarah kota Istanbul. Apabila tertarik untuk tahu lebih banyak bisa google, atau mungkin mau menonton BBC Four Documentaries, Byzantium: A Tale of Three Cities. Ada tiga episode, dan saya rasa penjelasan maupun rekonstruksi kejadiannya sangat menarik untuk diikuti.

Nah… Perkembangan Istanbul dari jaman Byzantium sampai Ottoman empire itulah yang menyebabkan Istanbul sungguh kaya dengan budaya. Perkembangan agama di kota ini membuat Istanbul tidak hanya dianggap sebagai kota suci umat Islam, namun juga umat Kristen, Katolik dan juga penganut Pagan Yunani.

Hagia Sophia, misalnya. Hagia Sophia atau Aya Sophia artinya adalah Holy Wisdom atau kebijaksanaan suci.

Tidak jelas apakah saya harus menyebut Hagia Sophia sebagai gereja, kuil pagan atau masjid. Di dalam gedung yang luar biasa megah ini tidak hanya bisa kita lihat lukisan ataupun mosaik bergambar Bunda Maria dan Yesus, namun juga benda-benda pemujaan agama pagan dan juga aksara Arab yang menyimbolkan Islam.

IMG_6029

Pemandangan dari dalam Hagia Sophia yang berhasil saya foto sebelum batere ponsel saya benar-benar mati

Bangunan ini mencerminkan sikap orang Turki pada umumnya. Mereka menyambut baik semua agama, dan tidak fanatik terhadap satu agama tertentu. Orang Turki memiliki penghargaan tinggi terhadap tradisi dan juga kekayaan budaya mereka, dan mereka sangat mengerti bahwa menjaga kekayaan budaya ini jauh lebih penting daripada mempertahankan fanatisme sempit.

Hasilnya? Turki adalah negara Islam yang tidak terseret-seret perang di Timur Tengah. Erkan menjelaskan pada kami bahwa karena sikap bangsa Turki yang terbuka dan bhinneka, mereka dapat hidup tenang sebagai bangsa merdeka tanpa harus terjebak dalam perang seperti negara tetangga mereka, Syria.

Selain Hagia Sophia, di area yang sama kita juga bisa melihat Hippodrome. Hippodrome ini didirikan sebagai monumen kebesaran Konstantinopel sebagai pusat kekaisaran. Hippodrome adalah alun-alun, di mana di sana terpajang berbagai obelisks, dan juga patung yang melambangkan kebesaran kekaisaran Romawi pada saat itu.

Pada saat kedatangan pasukan Ottoman, Hippodrome tidak ikut jatuh bersama jatuhnya Konstantinopel. Sebaliknya Hippodrome diabadikan dan diganti nama menjadi Alun-alun Sultan Ahmed, atau Sultan Ahmed Square, atau dalam Bahasa Turki Sultanahmed Meydani. Dan, di area yang sama dibangun pula Masjid Sultan Ahmed, yang dikenal pula sebagai The Blue Mosque.

Kenapa masjid ini diberi nama masjid biru? Kalau kalian masuk ke dalamnya, kalian akan mengerti kenapa.

gambar diambil dari Wikipedia, karena ponsel saya sudah tidak bernyawa pada saat kami sampai di sini…

Interior masjid ini dihiasi dengan keramik iznik yang terkenal dengan motif bunga tulip berwarna biru. Jadi, saat kita masuk ke dalam masjid ini, kita akan dikelilingi warna biru yang menenangkan.

Inilah iznik pottery Turki yang terkenal itu (gambar juga saya ambil dari Wikipedia). Kerajinan tangan ini hanya dikuasai beberapa orang saja, salah satunya master potter yang akan kami temui nanti…

Bagi saya, tiga bangunan ini melambangkan perjalanan Kota Istanbul yang sesungguhnya. Tidak heran bahwa tiga objek wisata ini begitu populer, tidak hanya bagi turis tapi juga bagi para sejarawan. Tapi Istanbul tidak hanya tentang mereka, masih banyak cerita tentang Istanbul, seperti Istana Topkapi, Maiden Tower, dan indahnya Selat Bosphorus.

Istanbul, Satu Kota Seribu Cerita

Standard

Mungkin agak terlambat kalau saya menceritakan tentang liburan saya saat Lebaran kemarin, tapi tetap saja saya ingin berbagi, siapa tahu saja di antara kalian ada yang ingin jalan-jalan ke Turki di waktu yang akan datang. Sebelumnya, saya ingin memberi dua tips mengenai kapan waktu yang tepat untuk berlibur ke Turki.

1. Mungkin memang waktu yang paling pas buat kita berlibur, terutama yang di Indonesia adalah pada saat lebaran. Tapi pergi ke Turki pada saat lebaran sungguh bukan waktu yang tepat. Bayangkan macetnya arus mudik? Ya, demikian juga keadaan lalu lintas di Turki. Kenapa? Karena mayoritas penduduk Turki beragama Islam, dan mereka juga merayakan Ramadan, beberapa tempat wisata kemungkinan ditutup atau tutup setengah hari karena perayaan ini juga, jadi sayang sekali kalau harus menghabiskan waktu di jalan karena terjebak macet seperti yang saya alami kemarin di Turki.

2. Karena lokasinya, beberapa wilayah Turki memiliki iklim mediterania. Turki mengalami musim dingin-penghujan yang bisa membuat orang menggigil kedinginan, juga musim panas yang kering dan gerah. Pergi ke Turki pada bulan-bulan musim panas seperti yang saya lakukan kemarin sungguh bukan pengalaman yang menyenangkan, terutama bagi kita yang tinggal di negara tropis. Tentu saja berbeda bagi wisatawan Eropa yang senangnya bukan main kalau melihat cahaya matahari, kita akan sibuk mencari perlindungan pohon atau payung dan berlapis-lapis krim untuk melindungi kita dari sengatan matahari. Takut gosong bok!! Jadi, sebaiknya pergi ke Turki pada bulan-bulan Maret di mana kalian bisa menikmati tulip bermekaran di istana Topkapi, atau akhir September di saat cuaca tidak terlalu panas.

Istanbul ini adalah kota terbesar di Turki, tapi jangan salah, Istanbul bukanlah ibukota Turki. Ibukota Turki berada di Ankara, letaknya di daerah Anatolia. Mengapa kota terbesar di Turki tidak sekalian saja dijadikan ibukota, seperti Jakarta, misalnya?

Nah, bapak pendiri Republik Turki, sekaligus presiden pertama Turki, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk memiliki visi yang besar terhadap negara ini. Dia tahu benar bahwa sebagai ibukota, sebuah wilayah harus memiliki fasilitas infrastruktur yang baik. Istanbul pada saat itu sudah terlalu penuh untuk dibangun ulang, maka dipilihlah Ankara sebagai ibu kota. Dimana letak Ankara ini tidak hanya strategis, tetapi masih memberi ruang untuk membangun gedung-gedung bisnis dan administrasi negara tanpa merombak gedung-gedung tua bersejarah di Istanbul.

Tahu dari mana saya semua itu?

Tour guide kami selama di Turki, Erkan, mungkin adalah tour guide terbaik yang pernah saya temui. Tidak hanya dengan sabar menjelaskan mengenai tempat-tempat yang kami kunjungi, namun juga sangat informatif mengenai hal-hal di luar itu. Erkan tahu banyak hal dari sejarah agama, politik maupun sejarah arkeologi, yang membuat seminggu bersama tur ini membuat saya merasa sudah menjadi ahlinya Turki.

Karena sudah menjadi tour guide selama lebih dari 10 tahun, dan sudah memimpin tur untuk grup orang Indonesia selama itu juga, kemampuan bahasa Indonesia Erkan sangat baik. Ini sangat membantu bagi anggota keluarga kami yang tidak bisa berbahasa Inggris seperti orang tua saya. Dan, mengenal betul sifat orang Indonesia, Erkan memutuskan untuk membagi tur Istanbul menjadi dua hari. Hari pertama sesaat setelah kami mendarat, dan hari terakhir sebelum kami pulang.

Ide yang bagus. Karena ternyata kami harus terjebak 9 jam kemacetan saat hendak keluar dari Istanbul, menuju ke Canakkale. Ya, benar… arus mudik lebaran. Istanbul adalah kota termacet di Turki, kami tahu itu di hari pertama liburan kami.

Harus saya akui hari pertama saya di Turki, di Istanbul benar-benar melelahkan.

Meskipun tur dimulai di Istanbul, tapi perjalanan saya dimulai duapuluh empat jam sebelumnya di Norwich. Karena saya tidak lagi berdomisili di Indonesia, saya bergabung dengan anggota tur yang lain di Bandara Internasional Ataturk, Istanbul. Hanya saja, karena perbedaan waktu penerbangan, saya harus menunggu di dalam bandara selama kurang lebih tujuh jam. Tanpa internet.

Mengantuk dan kelaparan, saya tidak bisa melakukan apa-apa selain membeli air minum dan cemilan dari vending machine. Karena tidak ada internet sama sekali, saya tidak bisa mengontak siapa pun. ¬†Lagipula batere saya sudah mau mati karena menunggu sekian lama. Alhasil saya harus menunggu di tempat di mana anggota keluarga saya akan mengambil bagasi nanti. Ah…

Ditambah dengan teriknya matahari musim panas di Turki, saya benar-benar tidak bisa seratus persen menikmati hari pertama di Istanbul. Padahal saya penasaran betul dengan tiga tempat ini, Hippodrome, Blue Mosque, dan Hagia Sopia. Tiga tempat bersejarah ini punya beribu cerita tentang Istanbul.

I VOTED!!

Standard

So, I have voted on Saturday 5th July 2014. Yes, the election abroad was held before the 9th July. It’s not as hard as I thought it would be, it’s even pretty straightforward.

The Indonesian embassy is not too hard to find. It is located on Grosvernor Square, just near Hyde Park, London. You would be able to see our red and white national flag next to ASEAN’s flag. On this particular day, it is even easier to spot, because you could see people queuing to vote.

All you need to have is your passport. I saw some people come around without their passport, and couldn’t vote. I can understand his disappointment. I mean, I would be disappointed myself if I couldn’t vote after giving a lot of efforts to go there. However, I agreed with the committee that if you could not present anything to prove that you are an Indonesian citizen to be able to vote.

After I got myself registered, I was sent to the TPS3. This time, Mr. Fix-It would have to wait in the different area, because he was not going to vote. They have 3 different voting areas, people would sit on the waiting room, and wait until their name is called. When your name is called, you would have to present your passport once more, and then go to the next desk to get your ballot paper.

If you have never voted before, this is what happened when we vote.

One of the committee would open the paper in front of me, and show me that the paper is not tampered. After the ballot was signed, I took it to the voting stall. Unfold the ballot paper so you could see both candidates. You poke the ballot with the poking stick provided in the stall. Make sure you do it properly (they have the instruction in the wall, so you wouldn’t go wrong). Fold the paper back, and go out from the stall. Walk to the voting box, and drop your paper inside the box.

Next, you would get your finger — pinky finger of your left hand– dipped in the special ink, to show that you have voted. This is to avoid people cheating and wanting to vote twice.

At the embassy, they were having a little gathering. People are around swarming and eating Indonesian food. I didn’t stay long enough to join them, I have done my part for my country, I don’t need to socialise :p

There’s one thing though, that made me a little bit proud.

On our way to the embassy, Mr. Fix-It who accompanied me all the way said, “I admired your dedication. You go all the way here from Norwich just to vote and go home.”

Yes.

I don’t have any reason why I shouldn’t.

Whoever the next president probably wouldn’t affect me as much, as I am no longer living permanently in Indonesia. But it would affect my family — my parents, my sisters, my brother, my friends, my grandmother… It would affect people that I care about. So yes, I went all the way from Norwich to London and back (almost 8 hours return journey), to vote and contribute.

I told my husband that in Indonesia, this particular presidential election is a big thing because IT COULD change Indonesia for the better. So if my voice could contribute in this, I wouldn’t mind doing this again, and again.

So, if your TPS is just on your neighbourhood, or even 10 minutes driving. GO. Use your rights to choose your own president.

If you think that whoever the president wouldn’t affect your life, think about how it would affect your beloved’s lives. You still have two days to think about it, and choose wisely.

So I voted. You’re next…

UK Fiancée Visa

Standard

It is stressful.

I am not sure if it is because of another PMS phase, or because of the long list of stuffs I needed to gather to get my fiancee visa that has made me feel a little bit agitated lately. Honestly, it may sounds a little bit over-dramatic when I am talking about this to other people, but the tension and the pressure to make things worked has got into me too much that it has made me more anxious than excited.

The last few days I have been busied with gathering documents, typing letters, finding pictures, and also reading other people’s experiences about applying for a fiancee visa. It is not as easy at it is said at the UKBA’s (United Kingdom Border Agency) website. You might only see a short list of stuffs over there, and you might think “oh that’s pretty straightforward”, no it is not.

Few weeks ago I went to a travel agency who helped me with the visitors visa to the UK and to Australia, and asked them if they could help me with the fiancee visa as well. They did not even take more than a minute to decide that they could not help. So I asked my auntie whose friend is the owner of one travel agency, who should be very experienced in making visas, and he said that it is going to be hard and you would never know what could happen. So basically he couldn’t help as well.

Few more rejections later, I decided to do it myself, and go through all the required steps to get things done. I went through the world wide web to get more informations about what I should do to get my visa application approved. It is not easy. Really…

What I have learned from the forums for expatriates, the UKBA never gave us an exact directions about what we should give and what they needed to know. They would give us some guidance, and it would be up to us to interpret that and decide which documents should go with the applications to support the informations there. The more elaborate the supporting documents the better.

So when things became really tense yesterday, I had a very bad conversation with Mr. Fix-It.

Mr Fix-It, being a British citizen himself, never understood how someone could be rejected when they applied for a visa. He believes that as long as the required documents is provided and a long elaborated letter explaining stuffs is given to the officer, things would go smoothly as he wishes — because that’s how the system works in the country where he lives. In fact, he does’t need to apply for any kind of visa to enter some countries in the world at all. So, how could he understand that someone could be rejected in visa application?

He could not get that his country could be the worst for the visa application (together with the US and Australia, of course). He doesn’t understand that as one of the main destination for illegal immigrants, his country NEEDS to be a little bit paranoid to make sure only the right person come in. He doesn’t understand that general visitor visa is not the same with fiancee visa, as the former is only visiting visa and the latter is a settlement visa.

And the fact that he couldn’t understand this annoyed the shit out of me.

When I told him that I needed more proofs to assure the border agency officers about everything, he said I worried too much. When I told him that I worried because there are people from other countries that has got rejected because they’ve provided not enough evidences, he said it was probably because the person and the country they’re from were not quite trusted. When I told him that it was a student in the UK University, who came from the US which should be a low risk country, that has got rejected, he said that it must be the person’s background and history.

Why wouldn’t he just agree that it might be because of the lack of evidences?

He said I don’t have to prove myself to the border agency officers. The heck I do.

I am a stranger. A foreigner to the country. I came to stay and to use their resources. Of course I need to prove that I deserve all that.

It is stressful enough to have to do all of this preparation, and it is even more stressful that he doesn’t understand why I was stressed.

However, so far, I have prepared the best I could. I really hope nothing would go wrong with this application because not only the application fee is so damn expensive (considering the ever changing currency rate), but also because I really don’t want Mr. Fix-It to live in a country like this. I could adapt better than he does ūüė¶

I don’t believe in luck, but just for this one… wish me luck.

 

Cheers~