2016 – A year in gaming

With the year almost over, it’s a good time to recap what games I’ve been playing so far and my thoughts about them.

January – March

Played: Elder Scrolls Online (PS4)

I picked up ESO in December and couldn’t stop playing for a couple months. As I might’ve written before I’m not a MMO player, and surprisingly it’s been a fun learning curve for me to learn to play with others. Coming from Skyrim I enjoyed the PVE a lot, managed to finish the main story and went post-completion to get Cadwell’s Silver. I was at Veteran 12 and midway through getting Cadwell’s Gold when I stopped playing regularly, because after hundreds of hours the quests sort of become tedious and I can’t even remember who’s who. I’m talking about the Daggerfall Covenant main story, after finishing the Aldmeri Dominion and Ebonheart Pact stories it’s starting to get a bit much of the same, and PVP doesn’t really interest me. Well, in short I had to take a break from too much ESO, and I was highly distracted by Witcher 3!

Retired: Assassin’s Creed Black Flag (PS4)

I loved this game, coming from the monotonous AC 1 (eat, sleep, kill, repeat) this was a game I could enjoy, the missions were interesting and engaging, the difficulty was just right (maybe a little too easy?) and the sea combat/exploration was the aspect I enjoyed the most. I just felt like sailing all day and being a bad ass pirate and forget the main story altogether. It was great while it lasted, but I had to dedicate more time to beating ESO, so I’m only about 50% done. I really do intend to get back and finish the game someday…

April

Played: Witcher 3 (PS4)

I love, love this game. I got it on Christmas and it’s been sitting on the shelf waiting for me to start, so I finally went all in on April and I realized I should’ve started sooner. Witcher 3 is great! I’m not an old time Witcher plan, only played Witcher 1 in 2014 and skipped 2 altogether (there’s no Steam port for Mac and I don’t own an XBOX), but somehow the charming universe, extensive lore, and the unique characters drew me in. Playing this game felt like delving into a fully fleshed fantasy universe not unlike LOTR. Awesome storyline, fast-paced battle system, a huge world to explore, and for once the side missions doesn’t suck as much as other RPG games. For me this is the standard that Elder Scrolls 6 should be and Bethesda better take note 😀

The base game alone consumed my spare time for a good 2 months. When I finished the main story I was left wanting more. I am seriously thinking of getting Blood and Wine once I’m finished with FFXV.

May

Played: Life is Strange (PS4)
Playing LIS was an experience I won’t forget. I marathoned episode 1-5 in a week and I’m glad I did because I wouldn’t do it any other way. The storyline was so engaging, and each episode would end with unanswered questions, cliffhangers and what ifs. (Remember episode 3?) I figured waiting between episodes to be released would be too much pain!

There’s so many good things about the game, the story, the game mechanics, the characters, and the art style. Playing this has inspired me to draw and paint again regularly, so I gotta thank Square Enix and Dontnod for that.

 June

Played: Dragon Age Origins (PS3)

I always wanted to get into the DA franchise and I’m glad I finally did. The bad:The battle system. Origins was hard as ***k, I regularly get my party wiped by normal mobs (why!) and it does nothing for my pride as a veteran gamer. And oh, the blocky graphics and long load times. But why should I complain? It’s an older game. The good: Everything else. Great storyline, universe, lore (ended up reading all the codexes!), so many likeable characters. Origins was a good investment of my time, but I’m not sure if I’m gonna play again…

Here’s my full review of the game.

July

Played: Dragon Age II (PS3)

Everyone’s been hating on DA II but I loved the game. Sure, the dungeons are repetitive and you ended up replaying the same area over and over – but there’s an explanation for that – this game spans over different periods of time! Sure the game is short, (beaten it in 2 weeks time) and it doesn’t have a large open world map. Of course, because it’s not about a band of guys uniting allies all over to save the world, but it’s a personal story about Hawke and friends, and his/her life journey from nobody to a hero. That’s the premise of the story and that’s why I enjoyed it. Get over it guys, and just appreciate everything else DA II has to offer.

Played: Dragon Age Inquisition (PS4)

DA:I was the game I enjoyed most out of all 3. It is a long-ish game but I enjoyed playing it so much, going through 100+ hours was a breeze.For me, this time around the creators (EA/Bioware) have done a lot of things right. I liked most of the characters, loved how they almost always have interesting random dialogue and interactions.This is something the team has always done right since Origins. I enjoyed the romance aspect of the game – gone is the mechanism from DA: O where you have to buy stuff to please your potential partner – this time it’s a lot more challenging to win someone over, and I found it quite interesting.  The storyline missions were interesting, especially the longer missions (Wicked Eyes and Wicked Hearts, What Pride Has Wrought). The open world is extensive and full of random areas to explore. You have no idea that you’d turn a corner and boom, there’s a huge dragon ready to wipe your party’s butt. That sort of thing. Lastly I’m also loving the customisation aspect where you can craft unique weapons and gear from enemy drops, and redecorate your castle, all of that makes sidequests/fetch quests less of a chore.

Not sure if there’s ever going to be a DA 4, but if it’s announced I’d be buying a day one edition.

August

Played: Mass Effect 1 (PS3)

Had to retire at 10 hours because I couldn’t stand driving around in the Mako. It’s such a shame because I know ME is a good game and I wanted to do a trilogy run. Maybe one day I’ll gather enough courage to try steering the Mako again.

Played: Beyond Two Souls (PS3), The Last of Us (PS4), Until Dawn (PS4)

After my failed run of ME1, I took a break from playing long games and I played 3 shorter games in succession, which were Beyond Two Souls, The Last of Us and Until Dawn, and I think all of them were great in their own ways.

Beyond Two Souls has an interesting storyline narrated in a nonlinear fashion. What’s interesting is since the story was told in short episodes, you had to progress the story for all these jumbled episodes to make sense next to each other in a coherent timeline. The gameplay is different from anything else I’ve played, I think it’s a fresh approach and I enjoyed it.

I had fun with The Last of Us, didn’t think that I would because I’m a bad shooter. It was frustrating having to survive with limited ammo, etc but I managed to pull myself through with blood, sweat and tears. The captivating visuals drew me in, the whole atmosphere of a post apocalyptic, semi abandoned world is just so awesome, and I just wanted to know more of Joel and Ellie’s story that I wouldn’t mind getting bitten by zombies over and over again. Oh, and by the time I’ve beaten the game I was semi-good at shooting.

Until Dawn was OK. I haven’t played any horror/shocker game for awhile, the reason being I just couldn’t handle jumpscares, and this game did a good job at that, building suspense after suspense and scares you when you expect it the least. My poor heart. Finished one playthrough in 3 days, but I don’t think I’d be replaying anytime soon.

September

Played/retired: Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate (PS4)

My playthrough of AC: Syndicate was great while it lasts. It’s lovely to see London in the midst of the Industrial Revolution and to be involved in history changing events. The two main characters were OK. Couldn’t relate much to the story, though. Are we the bad guys? Are we the good guys? I always enjoyed going back to the Assassins’ universe where a lot of the gameplay mechanism is familiar from the previous AC games, making it less of a learning curve. I managed to get to about 70% completion before I got sort of bored/distracted by the next game on my laundry list… Silly me.

Retired: Final Fantasy Type 0 HD (PS4)
This game looks interesting but I just couldn’t get into the mechanics – couldn’t figure out the battle mechanism, etc. Would be easier to just watch someone’s playthrough on Youtube.

October

Played: Gravity Rush (PS4)

Great game! While the graphics leave much to be desired, I loved the characters, story and the overall comic book style treatment. The gameplay/warping mechanism takes some time to get used to but once you get it down, it’s very enjoyable. Too bad it’s a little short. I can’t wait for GR 2 to be released next year!

November

Played: GTA 5 (PS3), GTA 4 (PS3)

For some reason I got into GTA 5 three years late. Does it matter? Maybe. But as they say, better late than never. GTA 5 occupied most of my spare time in November. I finished the main story with 76% completion or something. It was so fun maybe I’ll get the remastered PS4 version and do a 100% completion for the OCD completionist in me. Best part: The soundtrack! When i’m driving around in real life sometimes I could hear all the songs from Non Stop Pop playing in my head…

I started GTA4 late November, but I got really, really distracted when my much anticipated copy of FFXV shipped in… but I could say that I liked the main character so far, I think Niko’s backstory and character is interesting, so maybe I’ll get back to it later next year.

December

Played: Final Fantasy XV (PS4)

I’ve been playing FFXV on and off for the last 3 weeks. I’m 30 hours in and I’m nowhere near finishing the game so I couldn’t write a proper review, but here’s my impression so far…

The good: Not grindy (you get lots of AP and XP just by doing regular quests and random encounters, huge open world, cooking system that is actually useful because you get stat buffs through food, fishing system/mini game that’s a lot of fun, the mechanism of leveling up through camping/staying at inns, which for once gives me motivation to end the day, camp and hang out with my buddies.

The bad: Fetch quests. FFXV has lots of these. Find X item, kill X monster, return to quest giver. Of course you don’t have to do all of them side quests, but sometimes I would pick up the quest accidentally and my inner OCD just couldn’t leave them unchecked on my quest list.

I’m only in Chapter 5 and I’m in no hurry to beat the game, so I can’t complain much about the story pacing that’s pissing everyone else off… so we’ll see about that.

Well, that pretty much sums it up, thanks for reading and stay tuned for 2017… I think I’d still be playing FFXV 🙂

Illustration: Pasar Baru Haul vs Reality Check

pasar baru haul

Ah yes, thrift-shopping-haul-show-off time! Yes, I love wandering around Metro Atom Pasar Baru to find one of a kind outfits! You’ll never know what bargain you’re gonna get. Pasar Baru prices can be a bit steep compared to Pasar Senen, but it’s far less hot and sweaty (Metro Atom is air conditioned) and the sellers are more civil in my opinion. Your choice. I go to both alternately depending on the mood and the weather.

If you live in Jakarta, feel free to contact me and we can thrift-shop together and eat nice noodles afterwards.

FYI! These clothes are modeled by, er, my “models”, because:
1. I don’t have wonderful fabulous princess Emma Swan hair, I wish I do 😦
2. I don’t do smug bitch face very well.
3. Would you rather stare at my artwork than …this? Yeah. I bet.

no-just-no

PS: I’m wearing blue leggings on the left because I can’t find my red leggings. Get over it!
PPS: I hate selfies!

A strange, cautionary tale of how to order bespoke shoes online

This rather long post is part rant, part complaint, and part in-depth report on the long, grueling, ridiculous process of ordering bespoke shoes in Indonesia.

I ordered my boat shoes on May 20, 2012.
I finally get the shoes I (sort of) wanted on January 28, 2013.

It took 8 months, and countless text/facebook/instant messages and quite a lot of phone calls that never gets through. Figuratively speaking, it took so long that if I were pregnant on May I would’ve already given birth by now, but fortunately I’m not pregnant. Ha!

Anyway, here’s a detailed rundown on what happened within the previous 8 months.

May 2012

I love, love boat shoes. You may call them deck shoes, too. I like how they’re tailored and casual at the same time, and you can dress up or dress down with them and still look neat and nice. They last longer than a pair of Toms, and look better than a pair of Crocs. Unfortunately the nice ones sold in stores in Indonesia are all in guys’ size (40 european and bigger) while my feet is a 38 1/2 european size (6 UK women’s, 8 US women’s). People. Can’t you see that a girl needs her quality boat shoes too?

So I’m stuck with 2 options, ordering online from overseas or ordering a custom one locally.

Sperry and Sebago makes really nice boat shoes, but I’m not looking forward to the astronomical shipment fees and added import taxes, since it’s likely that my order will exceed US$50 and therefore legible for import tax. No, I’m a cheapskate.So I resorted to ordering custom shoes online.

Enter the vendor. Let’s keep the vendor anonymous for his reputation’s sake. He sells custom shoes through Facebook. In his FB online shop, he has many albums of shoes from well known shoe brands that he can “replicate” to 99% likeness, at a fraction of the real cost. That’s what he claimed. I ordered a custom once with him in 2010 and it turned out well, so I thought, why not?

So I messaged him and sent him a picture from one of his FB albums. It’s a Sebago, something like this. And his version would only cost me $25 + $1.50 postage. SCORE. Ahh, Sebagos are so nice! (They cost $100+ though)

url(picture nabbed from lowyat.net)

I specifically told him “Hi pls make me this style in DARK RED and make all the laces WHITE in size 39 in genuine leather pls”. He replied: “Ok, once you transfer the cost, it will take 3 weeks and we’ll send the shoes to you.” I was so ecstatic because I’m about to have a genuine leather, Sebago deck shoes replica for $25!… NOT

June 2012

About 2-3 weeks has passed, and as promised, the shoe delivery arrived in the mail.

Wow, I was taken aback. Firstly, it’s BROWN, not RED as I ordered. Second, all the laces are also BROWN! I specifically said WHITE. Well the build quality was quite nice, though it’s not quite close to the real Sebago in terms of details and style. Anyway… I was so upset I didn’t take any pictures of the shoes, instead I texted the seller immediately:

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Translation: Y SHOE NOT RED AND WHITE!!1 DO NOT WANT SHOE!!!

And this is what I got in reply:

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Translation:
Vendor (in blue): Dude, that’s maroon, not brown. That’s the shade of maroon in GENUINE LEATHER. *facepalm emoticon*.
Amel (in white): But I sent u reference picture for color!

To make a long story short, the vendor agreed to have me send the shoe back (at my own cost!) and he will replace the laces with white, but there’s nothing I can do about the brown leather color, because he insisted that it’s RED. Ha! The next day, I mailed the shoes all the way back to Solo, where the vendor is located…

July 2012

A month has passed, and my replacement!shoes has not arrived. I was starting to get anxious. Did my delivery made it to Solo in time? Did he managed to fix the laces in time? So I shot another text message…

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Translation: Where the hell is my shoes? U told me u will fix them! I want them naooo!1

Bummer! The text message was not delivered by the network! That could only mean, it’s a dead number. That’s quite normal in Indonesia because everyone except me because I have common sense changes their mobile phone number all the time without a care in the world… So i messaged the seller in FB. Twice. And no response. Then a few days later, the vendor wrote this in his FB wall:

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Translation: Just info: Our shop’s Blackberry with the phone number 08*** **** **** is currently in repair. All orders have already been shipped to the customers. We apologize for not contacting you individually. Please message us for orders. We are open for orders this coming Tuesday.

Ah, I see. That’s quite a letdown, seeing that I’ve been trying to contact him for a few weeks now… also I think it’s not that hard to get another phone number/handset while the usual one is being repaired, what a lame excuse! Bummer! Such third world mentality… Anyway I better stop complaining now and go on with the story. So I decided to wait on good faith and hope my shoes will turn up eventually…

July 22, no news on my shoes… So I shot another message on his FB:

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Translation:
Amel: Please check your text, FB inbox, and your Blackberry messenger sir

Vendor: OK we’ve just gotten back online

Amel: I have been waiting quite awhile for your updates, please respond.

What kind of phone repair takes 3 weeks? If I were unable to use my phone and usual mobile number for more than 1 week, I would get super anxious like it’s the end of the world and lose my mind… but it turned out some people just would not care at all! Anyway, more waiting ensues…

August 2012

Lebaran (Eid) came and went. Still no shoes, or news. I’ve gotten sick and tired of waiting already… so I called his number(s). No reply. In desperation I shot a text… also a FB message. Alas, no reply!!! At this point I was quite sure my lovely red brown shoes deal has gone down the toilet (or sat forgotten in storage somewhere in Solo)

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Translation: Dude it’s been super difficult to contact you, please take care of this matter professionally, I just wanted confirmation whether you’ve send my shoes or not.

September 2012

OMG, after a long wait, I finally got news! I sent a BlackBerry instant message (with the same content as above) and the vendor replied! I was so over the moon happy! It’s like hearing back from your favorite band or Hollywood actor or your unavailable but oh-so-adorable secret crush or whatever. The conversation went like this:

Me: Dude what happened to my shoes!!1 I thought you were gonna fix em and send em back to me?

Vendor: Sorry, I FORGOT about your order and my phone was dead for over a month maybe your order got lost and misplaced. My bad.

Me: Say whaaat?

Me: That’s not how you treat a customer! You promised 3 weeks delivery time didn’t you?

Vendor: Yes and I did delivered your shoes in 2 weeks’ time last time

Me: But you gave me the wrong shoe!!1 Now can you make it 2 weeks time this time? Can I trust you?

Vendor: OK I won’t be late again, we will work on your order ASAP

Me: Thank you. (Well you better get started soon, or I’m gonna go all RAGE!1 on you)

October 2012

No shoes. I almost gave up already so I think I didn’t bother texting the vendor.

November 2012

OH MY.

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Translation:
Me: Where is my shoesssssss! 2 weeks ago you said it will be done by now.

Me: I’ve been waiting since July. I’ve texted you 1000 times also. Please take care of this ASAP. You’re wasting my time.

Vendor: I’m terribly sorry but every time I checked, my workshop guy said that he’d forgotten to do your order (!!!) Now I feel bad for you

Me: (WELL YOU SHOULD!) Okay then please remind your workshop guy. Kthxbye

Vendor: Sure, it is only a minor fix anyway, I will remind him and let you know.

December 2012

Getting a little bit desperate here aren’t we… (I know it’s just $25 but it’s my right!)

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Translation:
Me: Where is my shoeeee (Starting to sound like a broken record now)

Me: Can I call your workshop guy myself? Can I get his number? It doesn’t seem to be working with you reminding him. It’s been going for months now. I’m sorry.

Vendor: It’s not yet done, he kept telling me he’s gonna do it soon, we apologize, please be patient for a little while longer.

Me: I’m gonna wait until the New Year, then you have two options: Refund my money, or send the shoe AS IS without any repairs. Thank you.

In retrospect, I sounded very much like a bitch… but I couldn’t help it… He had it coming!

January 2013

Finally, a progress towards my happy ending! On January 21 I texted the vendor for the 1000th time:

Me: Where is my shoeesss (exhausted tone) I want my shoes or my refund please…

Me: I have your address, name, bank details etc, I could sue you but let’s play nice…. If you can’t fix my shoes just return it AS IS and I will shut up and stop bothering you…

Vendor: Ah, I finally can update you. My workshop guy is working on your order. He damaged your shoe while repairing the laces (!!!) so he’s making you a new replacement pair now with white laces. Yay.

Me: After 100 excuses HOW CAN I TRUST YOU NOW? (spoken like a wife who’s been cheated on)

Vendor: It’s the truth! My workshop guy LIED to me. He kept telling me he forgot your order, because he won’t admit to me that he damaged the shoe and could not find the correct shade of leather to make a replacement. Now that we have the leather in stock, he’s finally doing your shoes. That’s the story.

Me: (After shaking my head in disbelief) Wow. I felt awful that I’ve been hassling you for like, forever, while in fact it’s your guy’s fault to blame. If so, then, please do replace my shoe with a new pair. And it doesn’t have to be the same exact shade of brown red.

Vendor: We have the same material, I will keep you updated and your shoe will be done over the weekend. I’m sorry for not updating you any sooner!

Me: Thank you for updating. Looking forward to my shoes now.  Kthxbye.

January 26: He texted me that my shoe is on the way. Wow. I am about to burst in tears of happiness…

January 28: My shoes has finally arrived. It’s not red, it might not be a Sebago, or even a replica, but it’s quite a looker, and a keeper…

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It’s here!

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At size 39 it’s a little too big, but I suppose they don’t do half sizes…

Verdict: I quite liked the shoes. It’s a nice shade of red brown, the leather is good quality, and it’s quite well made too. The only downside that it doesn’t have moc-toe stitching on the toe end like a real boat shoe should, and the vamp’s (upper surface that covers your foot) length is a bit too long for a boat shoe… Anyhow! It’s quite a steal for the price paid. I’m just not quite sure if 8 months is worth the wait…

Here’s how a real “moc-toe” front stitching should like. This is my favorite bargain find from a Brunswick goodwill shop, $13 brand new:

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Now that I’m done with all that ordeal, I finally have a pair of “boat shoes!” Though I’m still left wanting for a pair of RED shoes. Actually it’s OK that I’ve got brown shoes instead of red ones, so I can keep saving for my next Dr. Martens in red!

This is what I’ll get if I have money to spare: 3-hole 1461 Dr. Martens in Cherry Red.

Yep, you can’t have enough brown shoes. They go with everything. I will end this post with my favorite pair of boots… in brown. It’s a Dr. Martens knockoff I found in Chatuchak for 600 THB.

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These boots are made for walking, and kicking asses too…

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If you’re stil reading this, well, I thank you for reading, and I’ll see you next rant. Enjoy!

Swimming pool hopping, part 3: Cilandak Sport Center

The Cilandak Sports Center pool is located just next to the Citos shopping mall in TB Simatupang. It is quite conveniently located, only 15 minutes drive from my house. Entry price is a bit steep at 45k for weekdays and 50k for weekends, correct me if I’m wrong. There’s also an unlimited monthly ticket that costs millions of rupiahs. Not exactly affordable, but again, you get what you pay for.

I came on a Saturday morning, The water quality is very good. It’s one of the cleanest public pools I’ve been in Jakarta.  Shower and changing area is not bad either. I didn’t take pictures because the facilities are good. (Ha!) They have private showers with doors, not sleazy torn curtains. You have your own locker, shoe storage area, and they will provide you with keys. Towel rentai is also available.

On to the pool… Here’s a view from the shallow area looking onto the deep end.

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The deep end area. Thank goodness… It’s not as crowded. The drains are in the middle somewhere near the stairs area in the picture. There were 2 of them, measuring about 30x30cm square. This marked the first time I swam next to the drains. The water was so clean that I could see the drain clearly. When I can see where the drains are, it becomes less scary. That’s one step closer to curing my drain-phobia. Yay!

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Now, for the location of pool drains, I’ve drawn a diagram here. Beware of drains!!! LOL

citos pool

Pros: Clean water, clean showers and changing room, safe locker.
Cons: Pricy entrance ticket.

Verdict: I would swim here again, preferably on a weekday, because there’s quite a lot of kiddies crowding the changing room on weekends.

Swimming pool hopping, part 2: Pertamina Simprug

It was one sunny afternoon when I headed to the Pertamina pool in Simprug. This pool is only 15 minute drive from my house, it is quite convenient.  And entrance tickets only cost Rp. 20.000,- (that’s $2 for you folks), what a steal! So I thought, why not? I’d give it a try.

Maybe it will cure my drain phobia.

Getting there is quite straightforward. Take the Arteri road towards Permata Hijau, and the Pertamina Sports Complex should be after the Kebayoran Lama flyover on your left. After driving through the entrance gate, and past a few buildings, I turn right to see this. Ha.

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Pool was deserted at 2pm. No one was there, and no one was in the ticket box either, so I walked in and take a look around…

P1320846It’s quite a huge complex with 2 pools, 1 olympic size and 1 diving pool with towers. The whole complex looks like it was built in the late 80s and never been renovated since. It’s a strange, almost creepy, serene feeling, almost like seeing the scenery in Prypiat, that deserted post-Chernobyl town. (Not that I’ve been there myself!)

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Not going near the diving pools for now… I bet there’s a huge drain in there…. *shudder*

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View from the diving pool. This set-up looks similar to Senayan pool complex, but a little bit smaller. Note the bleachers and podium on the left.

After a few minutes, a middle aged man, smoking, wearing a sarung, walked towards me and I asked for one admission ticket. With ticket in hand, I located the changing rooms , get changed, and headed to the lockers. The lockers are rows of wooden cubicles about 50x50cm wide each. I was gonna put my stuff inside but wait… All the locker doors are open, and there’s no latch or locking mechanism. There’s no way I could leave my valuables there!

So I headed back to the entrance, wearing my swimsuit already, and asked the sarung guy “dude, I can’t lock the lockers, where am I supposed to leave my stuff?” He say, most people just leave their stuff around. It’s gonna be safe. (Yeah, right!!) I just smiled and nodded politely, and took a humiliating trip out to the carpark (it’s quite a distance) in my swimsuit, to put my stuff in the car! At least my purse, camera, and phone will be safe in there.

2.30 pm. After much drama, and a fair bit of sweating (and swearing) in the sun, finally I’m sitting by the water. The water is semi opaque… I can’t say murky but it’s definitely not clear. They’re refilling or recirculating the water, and it created ripples across the pool surface . I can’t see no drain. I mean like, dude, this is supposed to be a competition pool, but you can’t even see the black lines on the bottom of the pool! FAIL!

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I was gonna start at the shallow end, but then a group of guys (mas2) came into the pool and took over the shallow side… so there’s no choice but to start in the middle or the deep end, near the diving blocks. OMG. By this time, my heart was racing. The fear of drains was lurking at the back of my mind. I lowered myself onto the pool at the deep end. It has a 1.5m ledge on its edges, and I propped my feet there in the water… It felt strange. I haven’t swam in pools, in like, 3 years, since I got seriously tattooed.

I ducked my head underwater, searching for drains along the floor… but it’s so hard to see anything. I can’t even see the floor very clearly, save for the immediate bit under me and about 2m radius around me. It was terrifying, not knowing where the drains were… it’s gotta be somewhere here in the deep end of the pool.

After a few minutes I calmed myself down enough to do a few laps, taking half the pool length and back towards the diving block area, keeping myself close to the pool edges. All the while looking for drains. I could hear my heartbeat while underwater, it was beating really fast. I was scared and excited at the same time, knowing that I was either on the verge of breaking my phobia, or a panic attack, and worst of all I was by myself! I should’ve brought a friend!

At some stage, (I think about 5 laps) the fear got into me and I couldn’t take it anymore. I rushed towards the stairs, climbed out, and sat on one of the post-Chernobyl beach chairs, dripping, heaving and panting.

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I glanced at my G-Shock watch… I had spent a total of half hours in the mystery water! Success! Zero drain encounter! I smiled, thinking that it wasn’t too bad after all. I could definitely do this again. It was then I felt a sting on my toes…

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Crap, I must’ve cut myself while climbing out of the pool or something. Okay, that means it’s time to grab my stuff from the car, shower and go home…

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P1320838The showers are creepy and really old, there’s no bench to put your bag on, and as you can see, the curtain was torn. It’s cold shower only. What do you expect.

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I took another photo before it’s time to head back. Here’s my verdict:

Pros:
– Close to my house
– Cheap ticket price
– Not crowded

Cons:
– Water quality not so good
– Lockers are not secure
– Shitty changing room

Verdict: You get what you pay for. I might or might not go back there again, it’s undecided…

Swimming pool hopping for the tattoo enthusiast (Part 1: Intro)

Good day, readers, and I apologize for the lack of updates. Life happens, so you know. Today I’m gonna talk about one of my phobias…

drain

Yesss, I am terribly scared of swimming pool drains. This, is how it looks like. Ooh, my heart is racing: (thanks, google)

main-drain-cover-square-shape-250x250
Like most phobias I had no idea on how I developed the fear, because I clearly remembered swimming a lot as a kid. And then I read too much stuff on the internet. About people getting their intestines sucked out into the drains and stuff. Chances are that won’t happen to me (fat people always float in water), but still, a phobia is a phobia…

So when I swim with friends I will only jump in a pool where there’s no visible drains. No olympic sized pools, lazy rivers and the likes.

And then I got sleeve tattoos, which in itself takes about 2 years to complete, which is more reason not to swim, because swimming with freshly done tattoos is a no-no. Well, lucky for me, both of my sleeve tattoos were finally done on last October. It was the perfect time to get back into swimming, and get over that irrational phobia. So it’s time to buy swimsuits…

swimsuit

Yep. This is how I’m gonna roll from now on. As much as I’m proud of my sleeves, I don’t really want to catch unwanted attention (this is Indonesia, folks), and risk exposing my tattoos to the sun too much. I’m a fickle bitch, get used to that. Oh and I also bought some knockoff prescription swimming goggles from Kaskus for Rp. 70k, much cheaper than the Speedo brand (which I will eventually regret, cos it’s not as good! Hehe)

With all that prepared, and with some last-minute courage, I headed to my first destination: The Simprug Pertamina Pool.

Anyways! My lunch is here. I’ll continue in another post, very soon.

Complicated bitch with a heart of gold

It was just half past six in the afternoon, it was dark, and it was raining hard. I was standing on the side of the road, in front of the Citibank building near Plaza Pondok Indah, with just a narrow canopy between me and the violent wind and the pouring rain. I was trying my best to catch any taxi cab, and sadly, there were none of them for the last few minutes… and I was cold without a jacket in a cotton shirt and knee length skirt.

At long last! I saw one heading my way from a distance. I hastily ran out of the shelter and hailed the cab. It was an older cab, possibly a Kotas or a Kosti. Definitely not a Blue Bird, Putra or Express, the only 3 taxicab companies that I can trust. On the other hand, Kotas and Kosti cabs, they’re known to be less safe and trustworthy. On a normal, non-rainy day, I wouldn’t think twice to catch such cabs, for a reason!

“Good evening Pak, turn around at the next u-turn and go towards Pondok Indah Mall.” I ordered as I got in. He didn’t say anything, but he proceeded towards the u-turn 50 metres away. For those of you who don’t know, I live on a street next to the mall, and just about 5-10 minutes drive from the spot I boarded the cab. My destination was conveniently close for me, but apparently not for him.

As we approached the u-turn, he asked me, “How about I charge you a flat fee of Rp. 20.000,-? It’s too close for a metered trip.” I was like, wtf man! As far as I know, all taxicabs in Jakarta must charge by the meter. That’s the rule. So I argued, “Sorry I don’t think so. If you don’t want to turn on the meter, I’d rather get off here, now. I’d like to pay by the meter, please, sir.”

Note: The flag-fall for the trip was Rp. 5000,- and it will cost approximately Rp. 10.000,- on the meter to get to my house, which was HALF the cost he asked for. I knew he was making use of the opportunity,  which was the bad weather. Also, he’s a driver for a dodgy cab company. I’m pretty sure and I do hope that Any Blue Bird driver won’t do this!

It was clear that I was bluffing, and I was bluffing hard, cos the rain was pouring even more heavier than ever, and should I get off the cab in protest, there was no shelter anywhere in sight! I’d be drenched to my under-whatevers in no time.

He didn’t say anything again – but after awhile., I observed that he DID turn the meter on for this short short trip. Ha. I won!

Not even 5 minutes later, we arrived at my house. I told him to stop, and I read the meter. Rp. 9.750. Ha, I was right! I opened the door, gave him the Rp. 20.000,- note, and walked out. He was like, “Mbak, wait, your change!” Then I went. “Nah, you keep the change”. With that, I closed the cab door and ran into the house.

I ended up paying Rp. 20.000,- for the trip after all – which was the ridiculous amount he requested, but I didn’t mind. Maybe Rp. 10.000 would mean a lot to him, and I was happy that I could help. But not before I teach him not to take advantage of girls in the rain. Ha!

And so that ends my totally nonsense story for today.