Indonesia Anonymus

We are a group of Indonesians, ranting about our beloved country. This blog is a result of many people grumbling about many things in many ways.
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Anonymus is the Latin word for anonymous, the correct English spelling. The Latin spelling, however, is traditionally used by scholars in the humanities to refer to an ancient writer whose name is not known, or to a manuscript of their work. Read more at Wikipedia.

Our blog in Bahasa Indonesia (but rarely updated) can be found here.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The journey of a broken heart 7 - The End

7. Life

(Note: this is part 7 of 'the journey' series. To read from the beginning, click here.)

I have been racking my brain trying to find things from my trip that I think is worth sharing, alas to no avail. Oh well. Too bad I did not keep notes along the way. So I guess this would be the last post of the series.

It would be nice, of course, if after I got back from the trip, and after all of my posts, my girlfriend took me back. Or if during my trip I met someone new. But no. This is not a tv drama. Life does not work that way.

But at least I learned a lot.

So, if you have never done this kind of trip, I would really recommend it to you. Trust me, it will worth your while.

I will use this post to share a few pointers that I learned, to hopefully help you have a better trip and better experience than I did.

1. The logistics

You all know this: Travel light, make sure the clothes you have are easy to clean and quick to dry (that means no jeans). Wear comfortable shoes, bring a raincoat (not umbrella) and bring enough cash. (Do not rely on ATM). Secure your cash in separate pockets. (I used a pouch that I hang on my chest under my shirt for my 'cash reserve', and put just enough for the day in separate pockets for easy access.)

2. Go alone

I am not sure I recommend this to the ladies because I am not sure if it is safe, but if you are a guy like me, do try to go alone. Of course it is more fun to go with your friends, but unfortunately, it won't be the same. If you are in a group, you will care more about your group and less about your surrounding. You will talk more among yourselves and less to the people you meet along the way. When you are alone, you have no choice but to listen to yourself and to the people you meet.

3. Set yourself free

I had my cellphone with me during my trip, and from time to time when I lost signal coverage on my phone, I got really anxious.What if someone called me? What if something happened at work that needed my attention? What if I received an important email? What if this and that and the other?
Every moment felt like my life is passing me by.

After a while, I realized that actually it is the opposite:
Actually, when I spend my time worrying about all the above, THAT's when my life is passing me by. Life is what you see, what you hear, what you feel. Life is what happen at this moment. Not the what ifs.

So don't be like me. Set yourself free. Turn your phone off.

In your deathbed, you will never wish to have a little bit more time to use your cellphone or to check your email. No. But you'll probably wish you had more time to go places, see more, hear more, taste more, know more, experience more. This is your chance.

4. Not too long, not too short

I went for about three weeks in total. To me it felt a bit too long. After a while, the experience became increasingly similar from one city to the next, and the vanity started to wear off. I began to feel tired and bored. When that happened, I failed to experience things. I failed to appreciate my surroundings. I lost focus.

In the future, I probably would go for two weeks max. Three weeks is a bit too long and one week is probably too short.

5. It is not a walk in the park

I am not going to lie to you. The trip will be tough. It's not easy, and at times, no fun at all. There were moments where I found myself eager to just drop everything and go home. (In fact, if I did not have all my friends betting against me, I probably would have given up).

My most favorite thing about my trip is this:
The people. They are nice. Beautiful wonderful amazing people.
And the least favorite thing is:
The people. Some of them are just plain annoying.

Sure, the nice people outnumber the annoying ones, but it just takes one annoying a-hole to really ruin your day. And unfortunately, They are not in short supply. Annoying people are everywhere, ready to draw your anger and make your day miserable.

To handle this, let me tell you a story:
When I was a kid, my neighbour had a monkey (The small grey type we commonly see in Bali). The monkey was chained by his waist at the front yard, by a tree. Obviously, he was one grumpy monkey. (I would be too if I were chained like that. Not sure why my neighbour would do such a thing).
So this monkey would throw stuff at people passing in front of the house. He'd throw his food, branches, anything. And the worst that happened to me was when he threw his feces at me.
Bad, bad monkey.

But even after all that, I was never angry at him. Never. He's a monkey. Monkey does not think like us. I understand that. I understand him.

So that's what I do when I meet annoying people.
I picture them as my neighbour's monkey.
That way I can prevent myself from getting angry and ruin my day.
(And now that I am back at work, I started to see more and more monkeys at work too...)

The point is, you are the one in control. Not them. Do not let anybody or anything ruin your day.
Your trip can be fun, or it can be miserable. It's (mostly) up to you.

Well, that's it from me. Feel free to add more if you think you have some pointers that would be useful for me and other readers.

Before I go, I would like to thank all of you who set aside some time to leave comments on this series. Among them are: Felicia, Piqs, nCy.vLa, Ronzak, Colson, Hendro, John Orford, Hilmy, Silverlines, Kamil, Michael, Oscar Guo, B4nch4, YuGho, Kutubusuk, Roi, Nancy Indrawati, Nena, and others I may have missed.
When I started this series, it felt like I was talking to myself when I wrote it. But after a few posts and receiving your comments, everytime I started a new post, it felt like I was talking to you. As if I was telling you my story. Suddenly writing is not a solitary activity anymore.You guys are great and I thank you all.

I also would like to thank Jakartass, who has been very kind in giving me a few pointers to correct the grammatical errors in this series, as well as a generous plug.

Lastly, thank you to my Indonesia Anonymus (IA) colleagues, who lend me this space and showed me the joy of writing. I shall seriously consider your advice to start my own blog someday. I never thought writing can be so much fun.

Thank you. To all of you.


Blogger nCy.voiLa said...

wow.. another great post :)
they are great tips, especially the "setting yourself free" part..

i surely hope you'll start your own blog soon, so you can share more wisdom to us..
we're waiting.. when and where can we hear news about it?

PS : that Nancy Indrawati is my real name, hehehe, at that time i forgot to logout from my other email..

6:30 PM  
Anonymous Al of IA said...

nCy . vLa, Or Nancy,

Thank you. You are very kind.

I am still not sure when or whether I will really start my blog. It's just a thought at this moment. Still not sure I have what it takes.

(But if I did start, this blog will help letting readers know.)

Thank you again.

7:57 PM  
Blogger Rusdy said...

When you said "After a while, the experience became increasingly similar from one city to the next, and the vanity started to wear off.", that reminded me of a wise man saying once:

"What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

Is there anything of which one can say, "Look! This is something new"? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time.

8:16 AM  
Blogger Indonesia Anonymus said...


That's a good one.
So true.

3:26 PM  
Anonymous Hendro said...

I love this:
"In your deathbed, you will never wish to have a little bit more time to use your cellphone or to check your email."

It is very relevant as I just had observations about the generation younger than mine and complaint it here:

11:30 PM  
Anonymous Kamil said...

Your trip reminds me of a trip I did last almost 2 years ago. Went alone with no phone, no camera, no electronic, just myself, a couple of clothes, and a tent (and some great people who were willing to let me sleep on their couches when possible!). Took the bus, took the train, had cheap dinners. And it lasted for 3 weeks too.

Except that I did this in Australia. And instead of work, it was a university break.

But to be honest, from reading what your wrote, it's not much different. By going alone it's really less about ourselves than it is about our environment. We are our environment.

Anyway, I think you are a good writer, so regardless of what you write I'm sure it'll be worthwhile! Looking forward to the next one.

6:34 AM  
Blogger Indonesia Anonymus said...

Hendro, thank you.

Kamil, your trip sounds even tougher.
Sleeping in a tent / people's couches? Wow.

If you wrote about your experience anywhere, we'll be interested to read it.

3:18 PM  
Blogger Jakartass said...

On my travels around the world - a journey of 13 months in 86/87 - I kept a diary. (Jakartass is, I suppose, a continuation.)

In Ladakh, up in the Himalayas of northern India, I picked up a copy of Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon (pub.1983), an account of his travels around the back roads of America and the people he met.

Post-divorce, he was in a reflective mode throughout his journey and many of his comments resonated with me then and still do. (The book is here in Jakartass Towers.)

For example:

" ... what you've done becomes the judge of what you're going to do - especially in other people's minds. When you're travelling, you are what you are there and then. People don't have your past to hold against you. There are no yesterdays on the road."

"I learned to travel, then travelled to learn."

And this perhaps is the most pertinent.

"Maybe the road could provide a therapy through observation and obvious, a means whereby the outer yey opens an inner one - Stop, Look, Listen the old railroad signs warned. (Walt) Whitman calls it "the profound lesson of reception".

4:57 PM  
Blogger Indonesia Anonymus said...


You did 13 months of travel? Went to the Himalayas?


Thank you for the book tip. Looks like it reconfirms our good friend Al's experience: traveling alone does make one more receptive.

We'll check the book out. Thank you again.

10:01 PM  
Blogger Jakartass said...

I have another good book about travel which I brought out from the UK all those years ago - The Asiatics: A Novel by Frederic Prokosch

"I believe all of The Asiatics is accurate, geographically and socially speaking,'' he said after the novel's original publication in 1935, when he was 27. His description of Ladakh largely matched mine 50 years later yet he didn't actually travel through all the countries he describes..

The Asiatics is seemingly an autobiography of an American in his twenties exploring the world and thus exploring himself. It is the journey itself rather than the arrival which is of value, so we gradually see the protagonist 'growing up' as he learns about different philosophies.

It is sad to note that he was prescient; sad because surely what he forecast is now upon us.

He wrote: Take away our clothes, our food, our liquor, our quaint sexual pleasures, or fatiguing little conversations and our loathsome excitements about this and that: what's left? A hollow thing, like one of those silver Christmas-tree ornaments, with no more blood or warmth. Let the snow fall and we're cold as ice, let the wind rustle the branches and we drop and shatter once and for all.

Nothing's left, because we never really lived anything, we never rose above the world of objects, we never deep down within us were alive. It's the age of inversion, the negative age. We're changing into tremendous plants, and soon we'll be breathing carbon dioxide, at the rate we're going.

When travelling, I find it comforting to read and extract bon mots, words that encapsulate and clarify my ill-formed thoughts.

When I came to Indonesia at the tailend of 1987, I brought two books with me, knowing that both would be reread more than once.

This classic is one of those.

The other is, as mentioned above, William Least Heat Moon's Blue Highways

5:40 PM  

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