Last day of july

I should have been posting about my vacation to Bangkok earlier this month, but all you’re gonna get is these stupid generic tourist photos because I’m lazy. Oh and a drawing because I feel like it.

Enjoy the rest of this year! It will be over before you know it!

Stupid tourist volume 1

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Stupid tourist volume 2

STUPID2

And I wish this would happen in real life… maybe not!

gat

Pre-trip conversation with Oma and 1982 Europe holiday photos

(Lunchtime)

Me: Oma, I want to talk. I’m leaving on an overseas trip next week. Here, I will mark the dates on your calendar as a reminder. I will go on this date [*scribbles departure date on calendar*], and I will come back on this date… [*scribbles return date on calendar*].

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Oma: *takes awhile to think* Okay, now how long would that be?

Me: Just about over two weeks, Oma.

Oma: That’s so long! Are you going to do “business” there or something?

Me: No it’s a holiday, Oma.

Oma: You mean you go on those TOURS, right? Pakansi?

(I’m sorry I can’t translate pakansi into an appropriate outdated English equivalent)

Me: I’m going my own way, Oma, no tours.

Oma: Okay, I see… Because Opa and me, when we go overseas… we went on tours.

Me: I know Oma, but this time I’m not going on one…

.

.

(cut to a few hours later, dinnertime)

Oma: Are you on a tour?

Me: Excuse me??

Oma: You said you are going overseas, on a tour?

Me: No no, I’m going on my own. I don’t wanna join ANY tours…

Oma: Isn’t it hard to go on your own, with no one to show you places and things?

Me: That’s the way young people do it these days, Oma.

Oma: Please don’t forget to bring medicines with you.

Me: Okay I will…

Oma: Where are you going again? One country or many places?

Me: I’m going to Thailand, Cambodia, and Malaysia, Oma.

Oma: Aren’t you afraid to get lost, etc

Me: These days it’s much easier to get information, Oma. I already researched before the trip and it’s gonna be okay.

Oma: But don’t you need to go on a tour. What if you don’t understand the language.

Me: Everyone knows English these days, Oma. It will be fine…

Oma: I used to go to a lot of tours… To China, Europe, America…

Me: I prefer going on my own, because with tours they always rush you, and also you can’t choose what you eat… Tours are more for families, Oma.

Oma: But it’s more safe on a tour… (silence) …How many people will be with you on this trip?

Me: I’m going with a friend, Oma. (I had to lie, if I said I was going to do a solo trip, she would probably worry and lose sleep over it!)

Oma: Oh, that’s good, I thought you were gonna go alone… (she does know that I’m an adventurous sort of girl)

Me: It’s OK, also I’ve been there Oma. This won’t be the first time. (Fact: I’ve never been to Cambodia, like ever!)

Oma: *thinks very long and hard* …Thailand is Siam, right?

Me: Yes it is.

(silence for about 5 minutes as I sat cleaning my Doc Martens and Oma watched me quietly)

Oma: In Rome they have a lot of pickpockets!

(Wow, Rome is so notorious even my 87 year old grandma knows about it)

Me: That’s right Oma…

Oma: …Also, please don’t forget to bring medicines with you

Me: Okay I will bring medicines with me

Oma: Your aunty Linda is going to Europe. I thought you are also going to Europe alone, so I was worried about you.

Me: No, Oma. Not to Europe. But I would love to, one day.

Oma: Yes. In Rome they have a lot of pickpockets!

Me: Yes they do… But I’m not going to Rome so it’s OK…

Oma: Please prepare medicines before you go…

(Gotta be honest, this worrying about drugs thing have just started to rub on me a bit, sorry Oma!)

Me: Don’t worry about that, Oma. Look… I’m healthy so I don’t need a lot of drugs… but of course I will take some with me!

Oma: What if you get sick on the trip??

Me: I’m young (yeah right) and healthy, and if I ever get sick, there’s gonna be drugstores everywhere so it’s gonna be fine, Oma…

Oma: At least bring some headache and cold pills…

Me: I will, Oma. In fact I always carry migraine pills with me everyday. (truth!) Also I still have a week to prepare for the trip…

Oma: …But at least bring some drugs… Just in case

Me: Sure, Oma. I will!

Oma: They say Rome has a lot of pickpockets…

Me: Yes, I know Oma…  xdddd

 (I will end this post with pictures of Oma’s trip to Rome. God bless her!)

IMG_6532 Yes, that’s Oma in Rome… : )

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Oma at the Colloseum!

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The whole Vaya Europe Holiday Tour ’82 bunch. Oma and Opa were somewhere in there.

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Oma and Opa in front of some Ristorante! (Rrrristorante. That word has a nice ring to it…)

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Opa took quite a lot of photographs and related newspaper clippings, too… He used a manual film camera and was pretty good at it!

IMG_6577Opa paid such attention to details that he even included the names of all the hotels they stayed in, on the albums, done neatly with a typewriter! … Now I know where my OCD-like obsession over details came from. RIP Opa.

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Done with Italy, here’s Oma arriving in Lourdes, France. Look at those nuns alighting the aircraft! You were right, Oma. Going on tours seemed so much fun back in the days!

(Pictures were taken from Oma & Opa’s Europe trip album on June 1982. I’m sorry Oma for nabbing your precious albums without permission… but they’re just so lovely and I was so curious on what made you think (reminisce) about Rome so much.)

(No grading or post-processing was done on these photos. They’ve naturally yellowed over time, just like those trendy Instagram filters!)

Shittiest Hotel Rooms, Part Two

Ah, a long overdue post, to follow Shittiest Hotel Rooms part one here.

2. Hotel Istana, Pekalongan.
Stayed in: July 2010.

It was work, a research road trip across Java,  that brought me to Pekalongan for the first time. Pekalongan is a small town in Central Java, known for its Batik and Batik culture. It’s a beautiful town, and we stayed a total of two nights, the first spent in this hotel.

When we got to town, it was late at night, and some government official’s wedding was on that night, there were a lot of out-of-town guests, so all the good hotels were fully booked, and that was how we ended up in this shithole of a hotel.

From the outside, it looks outdated but innocent enough. If I remember correctly, the hotel is rated 2 stars. I don’t know where those stars came from. Someone’s ass I suppose.

The VIP rooms were fully booked, so we (the 3 of us) had to settle with a deluxe room for (about) Rp. 250.000/night. What a steal! Yeah right! We were ushered up a cum-stained circular staircase, to a dusty, musty corridor, past some old men smoking in the corridor, and then down to our room. OK, I’m going to let the pictures speak on its own.

Walking into the room felt like taking a trip back in time. Way back to the seventies. There’s no bright lighting, all the lights are dim. The wallpaper were peeling, the ceiling mysteriously stained and cracked. Everything was dirty, dusty. I didn’t even bother to take pictures  of the cyan and blue tiled bathroom… I didn’t even bother to shower either, I was too horrified of the water turning into blood, just like in The Shining (or was it Psycho? duh!)

See the window? It faces straight to the highway. Everytime a 16-wheeler truck passed by, the whole building shook like a minor earthquake. And I get to sleep on the extra bed. Extra meant extra-creaky.  Luckily I was so tired that night, so I managed to get a few hours of sleep, thankfully without any strange ghostly disturbance… (I prayed really hard that night)

Look at the cabinet, straight out of a horror movie set. Oh look. I had 2 untattooed arms.

The morning after, I took some more pictures. Ah, the room looked slightly better in the sunlight. Notice the lopsided sofa! And the mysterious hole in the ceiling!

I went down to the lobby to get breakfast. It looked like a rich person’s living room back in the 80s.

Tonight’s entertainment program. Yeah right.

The dining room. Looks like an abandoned nuclear demolition site…

Notice the strange black stuff on the table? It’s someone’s konde! Fresh off last night’s party!

After the breakfast, we decided that we’ve spent enough time in this miserable hotel, and checked out. I took one last picture of the cum-stained stairs. It must have been there since the 1970s or something.

Bye, Pekalongan! Next time I won’t be staying at this hotel, just so you know! This place totally creeped me out!

Wedding Cheese: Stories from my Melbourne trip, part one

Apologies for not updating much, I’ve just got back from Australia last week, mainly for my brother’s wedding. It was great! While I won’t blog too much about it, I will tell you some totally irrelevant stories.

Amel: Oma, here’s the pictures from the wedding. This is the wedding cheese.
Oma: This is the wedding cake?
Amel: No, Oma, it’s a wedding cheese tower. It’s basically a stack of different kinds of cheese.
Oma: Like a cheesecake?
Amel: Nonono, it’s cheese. Not cake.
Oma: *silence* I don’t get it…
Amel: So, instead of a cake, my bro & sis-in-law opted for cheese.
Oma: WEDDING, Y U HAS NO CAKE! How do u eat it? Isn’t it too salty?
Amel: White people just eat it as is, oma.
Oma: Then you pour some chocolate on it or something?
Amel: LOL! No, not like that!

(I excused myself, went to the fridge, grabbed some brie and old cheddar, some water crackers, put ‘em on a plate.)

Amel: This is how they serve it. They cut the cheese, and eat it with crackers.
Oma: Then how do you eat this thing? You can’t even spread the cheese over the crackers?
Amel: You eat it just like that!
Oma: So you just bite into the crackers, and the cheese, at the same time?
Amel: YES!

I dunno but I just found it amusing that Oma found it amusing that people eat cheese and crackers at weddings! I guess Oma’s only familiar with sliced cheese (the one you use for sandwiches) and grated cheese! Anyway, have a gorgeous picture of the aforementioned cheese stack.

Check the rest of the album here on FB. (You have to be my FB friend or a friend of my friend)

Shittiest hotel rooms, part one.

I don’t really know why… but I’m having a serious case of wanderlust. It didn’t help that I’ve just got back from Bali less than 6 weeks ago… and am planning to go to Melbourne next month. I’m still jonesing for an impromptu trip! I wanna travel! By myself! To a far away, exotic destination!

It didn’t help either that Air Asia’s big sale had only started yesterday and a good 80% of the seats are booked already – what is wrong with us Indonesians? So, what better cure to my wanderlust than to write a little bit about my past travel experiences?

I don’t consider myself a well-traveled person, but I’ve had plenty opportunities to travel overseas and within Indonesia in the past. During my trips, I’ve stayed at many different kinds of accommodations. From nice 5-star hotels (on family and business trips), family and friends’ houses, seedy transit sex motels, caravans, to the barest, most basic form of lodgings, I’ve been there, done that.

But out of all the hotel rooms I’ve stayed in… The ones I remember most are the SHITTY ones. Peeling wallpapers, leaky ceilings, suspiciously stained mattresses, cockroach partying all night, you name it. Well, without further ado, yes, this post is dedicated to the memory of the shittiest hotel rooms I’ve stayed in. Enjoy.

1. Hotel Panghegar, Bandar Lampung.
Stayed in: December 2009.

Me and 4 friends were on a road trip to Lampung, when my trusty Corolla broke down just at the outskirts of Bandar Lampung, halfway from our destination, which was Dayan’s hometown. It was Friday night and a public holiday, and it’s getting late. Not a single auto repair shop was open, so we were forced to stay overnight in Bandar Lampung. Get our car fixed first thing in the morning. It was an emergency, so we had to make do with the nearest hotel available, while sticking to our tight budget.

A local ushered us to this inconspicuous 3-storey motel right at the center of the town, not far from where we were stranded. We booked 2 rooms for the night, each for Rp. 100.000,- ish. OK it looked a bit dodgy and tacky and old, but little did we know, it was a night life spot-slash-love hotel. WTF.

We checked in at 9pm, all tired and shit, and soon after, we heard this loud dangdut music blaring from upstairs. OMG. I was like, WTF there’s a night club upstairs! If I wasn’t dead tired and super pissed from having car problems, Dayan and I would be eager to check it out… (we’re totally slaves to the Melayu rhythm) but instead, we dropped our bags in the room, paying little attention to the room, and went out for late supper. When we got back it was midnight and thankfully the shitty, loud dangdut music subsided soon after.

I checked into my room, which I shared with Rara. The room was old, small and cramped. The wall was painted cheery yellow. The curtains, a cheery shade of velour green. It had cheap written all over it… A queen sized bed, a huge ass antique cabinet with mirrored doors, a shitty single sofa and a small TV. No aircon. “Where the f*ck is the bathroom? I wanna poo real bad!” I mumbled. Rara and I looked around… then we found out that the bathroom was INSIDE the f*cking cabinet! You open the creaky cabinet door with the mirror, and literally walk inside the cabinet to get to the freaking bathroom! WTF!

It was like that enchanted wardrobe in that Narnia story, but much, much worse.

And when i got into the bathroom, I found out that I can look outside into the room from the cabinet glass. It’s a one-way mirror thing. Super weird. It’s too bad that I didn’t take any photos of this enchanting room, neither did Rara, cos we went straight to bed, and she totally left the TV on cos this room has a creepy vibe. Right.

The morning after, we went upstairs for free breakfast. Yay. FREE. At least something good came from all the bad shit that has happened. The breakfast room-slash-bar was eye-stabbingly 80s colorful, calling it tacky is an understatement!

Breakfast consisted of instant coffee or tea (which already ran out by the time we get there), shitty, dry fried rice with no meat in it, and some toast with butter and chocolate sprinkles. Really standard fare. Little did I know that most shitty Indonesian motels out of Jakarta serve this kind of breakfast.

We chew our buttered toast in silence, sharing the room with dodgy looking, middle-aged men… And seedy bar girls. Yes, the lighting is neon blue. Yes, it’s broad daylight…

After breakfast, we looked around the room and found the entrance to the dangdut club!

It was deserted in the morning, and we didn’t waste any chance to commemorate our stay by pretending to be dangdut stars.

At 10am sharp, we packed our bags and without hesitation, moved our asses out of this seedy establishment. Here’s one last shot of the boys’ room, looking out. You can almost feel the despair and loneliness.

Next time on shitty hotel rooms: One night in Pekalongan!