Saturday, February 27, 2010

Delivery Menu: Books

When I say that the Internet is the most powerful thing there is, you'd better believe me. Also, you'd better believe me when I say it is vast. It's easy to get lost (and then found something out of it).

All I wanted was just tidying up my Google Reader subscription, and one of the drop-down menu on the left suggested a feed for City of Letters blog. And who am I to refuse a recommendation?

So that's how I wound up knowing about readingwalk. And I thought, this is a pretty neat solution for a creature of habit, like me. They decribe themselves as a delivery book rental. Which basically means you can borrow a book by placing order on their web or by sms, and they'd have the book delivered to your frontdoor.

To be honest, this is exciting, as I don't think this is a new concept, but rather, it takes an established idea, and then maxed it up for the customers' convenience.

Because let's face it, how often do we plan going to a bookstore other than on whimsical basis, say while waiting for a friend in a mall?  So how many books we end up reading? As much as I enjoyed reading ebooks on my iPod Touch screen, it's always nice to be able to touch the paper. And for a good mystery reading, flip-flip-flip, oh there's the clue I missed earlier!

OK, so I am partial to childhood nostalgic moment when I was reading Detektif Cilik Hawkeye Collins & Amy Adams, only to be unable to recognize the series other than by saying that, "One of the character is named Hawkeye," during my later teenage years. And seeing the series on their list of 'Petualangan' books was all it takes to excite me.

And of course if you'd prefer the more serious ones, there's Tetralogi Pulau Buru and other Pramoedya's books. and this is where the rental concept comes in handy, those books aren't exactly cheap, I remembered shelling out significant money for those books.

On the other hand, the categories are rather impressive as well. Comics? Check. Magazines? Pernikahan, Desain Interior, and Traveling. Books categories? Covering Metropop to Bisnis&Manajemen to Desain Grafis (and many more), I say there's a healthy chance you'll find what you want there. Or else, one of the book on their booklist might appeal you while perusing the gallery.

I'm thinking it has similarities with Netflix here. And just like Netflix's potential to let its customer see more (and learn more), readingwalk surely has what it takes to make us read more (and hence learn more). Even if it's just to relive the feeling of being a child again, see the world with wide-eyed curiosity, just like we did when we were little. Or by helping us learning something new, or ignite the longing to see somewhere new.

Because that's what I feel after I read J.P.V.F.K. (Jakarta-Paris Via French Kiss) by Syahmedi Dean. Obviously I know nothing about the fashion world (Project Runway is just not my thing), and this book is a neat example how reading something can expand your knowledge horizon beyond your usual idea diet. Also, if The Naked Traveler doesn't make you feel like backpacking to some exotic places, then I don't know what will.

A little friendly caveat, though: if you're using Opera, you might want to turn on Opera Turbo. For some reason, the site took it's time to load up, and for a great many of you it'll be a deal breaker. Just persevere. Or try their Facebook page.

Oh, and apparently they're only serving East Jakarta and Bekasi area. But surely it won't hurt if you pester them to expand their service? If you also like the idea.

Now I wonder, do they have Kopi Merah Putih? And if you wonder if this is a contest submission, it is.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


I look at the mirror and I ask, "Who are you?"
But all I get is an uncomfortable silence.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Skiing - II

When it comes to skiing, unless you have a terminal illness that can only be miraculously cured by rolling on snow as long as possible while trying to slide downhill, it is generally inadvisable to:

- Pick a ski resort that took 10 hours to get to and 11 hours to get back from.
- Pick a ski resort that has little or no information in English (or any other language you master).

Particularly if you are:

- A total beginner in snow-sport.
- Have an irrational fear of heights.
- Speed averse, or generally risk averse.
- Forgot to pack any Counterpain or similar medication.

But if you prefer not to heed my friendly advice, then:

- Be prepared to pay 15800 yen for transport, lodging, and ski board+clothing rental, plus 1400 yen for gloves and goggles and insurance for the ski equipment, plus however much you want to spend on drinks from vending machine and other food (in my case, 600 yen for 3 bottles of drinks from vending machine, and 625 more for food on before the bus return to Kyoto).
- Pack a DSLR, because everyone has them, just so you can say "Mau hunting foto dulu." and generally feel cooler. (Me? I didn't even bother to bring any camera at all). But handphone is OK to snap some decent pics for posterity's sake. Like below

- Either use your glasses or leave it in your bag. If you thought that you need perfect vision, you don't. And if you realized that only later, do not put your glasses inside your pocket. particularly if you're going to fall a lot and leave your glasses a mess like this:

- Refrain from the urge to bitchslap the person sitting next to you on the 11-hour bus ride because he is taking up a lot of space by refusing to put his backpack on the luggage and insisting on window seat and consequently awaken me on the aisle seat everytime he wanted to get out.
- Take into consideration that when you arrive back at the (Kyoto) station at 5am you might need to wait some time (30mins) before the first train is operational. all while enduring aches on your ass, arm, neck, leg, and back.

In my case, after finally aboard the local train to Obaku, I realized that it would be much more convenient if I used a taxi from Obaku to the International House. Trouble is: I have no idea how to spell my address in Japanese. And just my luck, as I exited the gate, the only taxi available was already got a passenger and seconds later speeding away.

Leaving me in the rain. Aching. With 1 kilometers to walk before I got to my room.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


I know I'll be parting ways with you soon. But I'll always have you in my heart.

Bandung - Klaten - Jogja - Surabaya - Mataram - Jakarta - Lembang - Bandar Lampung - Denpasar - Singapore - Bangkok - Osaka - Kyoto - Uji - Nagoya - Kobe - Nagano


Tuesday, February 16, 2010


When I was in my final year in high school, every morning was like clockwork. I will wake up at 600 or 605, and then take a bath, get dressed, locate missing clothing uniform article, have breakfast, ensure I bring the right book for the day, locating keys, wallet, and registration, and I have to be out on my motorbike at latest by 630.

School started at 650, which means only 20 minutes available to cover 13-or-so km from home to school.

Along the way, there's a train crossing, which means I need to time it accurately so I didn't stuck on the wrong side. Also, other people whose school started at 700.

My best time was 17 minutes, and because there are turns and intersections and sloping road with paddy fields on my right and left, my speed varies along the way. Precisely for that reason I always tried to speed up to 80-100 km/h where available to make up the lost time.

I am proud to say that I had zero accident on my way going to school at that year. The only accidents I had when I was in high school happens one and two years before that.

Both alone, just me on the road trying to get home and to a additional physics lesson, respectively, when for no particular reason my minds drifted off, spacing out and then..


Hey, I was on the road and my motorbike is 2 meters away from me! Some bleeding then got involved, and after I got home, rest for a day, and I will ache and feel sore all over where my body meets asphalt.

This is how I feel right now. after the skiing. Which shouldn't be a surprise because I am never good at sports. So I fell a lot.

The difference? On a single bike accident, there was only one instance where the forceful impact happen. on two-day ski trip? I didn't even bother to count. I fell on my ass, on my right shoulder, left, back, leg, face, gut, chest.

And for that I paid almost 20000 yen.

Every time I eat with a westerner, inevitable someone will say some comments on how we pay the restaurant to let us cook the food on the table (sukiyaki, okonomiyaki, and pretty much every food there is) before we eat it is a very fascinating concept.

What about paying money to let us hurt ourselves?

Now that's fascinating.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Talk About Pork - II

While we're at it, I found a really-really-really good story about it. Best of all, it rhymes. What else can you ask for? - Babi

You bet there'll be more talk about pork to come.

The Talk About Pork

Born, raised, and butchered in a moslem-majority community means that the cows, goats, and chickens in the hood never meet pigs in all their lives. Be it during their quacking and mooing live-lives, or during their shelf-life.

happy piggy, pic from here

And because they have never been introduced to one another, while I know beef, chicken, and goats pretty well (Yum!), the first time I meet pork was when I was in Ukraine.

Let me tell you how it was memorable.

For the major part of my life, unlike other normal people out there, my taste buds are pretty much binary, able to recognize only hot-pedas and "other" food. I can never tell what's inside my food.

So back then in Ukraine, during the first time we have our meal that's provided by the org comm, we were all sitting in a table together, ready to eat whatever meager portion is served. All of a sudden, the older gentleman from Dikti announced to the table that the meat were pork.

So forks and spoons and knives halted in mid-air. Well, save for one set of eating utensils that belongs to the only non-moslem in the contingent.

But uh-oh. Next to our table was the table of the Iran contingent, mostly tall young girls with scarves, eating happily. So that gentleman told them that it was pork.

A moment of silence followed. And then you can see their faces turn an instant shade of blue. It was the highlight of our evening. Gossiping about other people always make for a memorable evening, no?

Two days later, we explored the area, and boy! A convenience store! So we bought ourselves chips and chocolates and ice creams. We were kinda rich, I guess, what with the outrageous rate of conversion from Euro to Hryvna.

Back to the lodging, basically just chatting around with the TV airing some weird-language program, just to give a background noise.

Then out of nowhere, the guy without pork restriction pointed out, "Isn't that chips bacon-flavored?"

And in an instant, uneasiness. If memory served, then the chips were unfinished.

I have to admit, it's kinda fun watching the repulsion against pork. *Grins*

And I'm not the only one. During the last session of YLI program, there's this one speaker talking about corruption, and he said that the mindset against corruption should be shaped to achieve the repulsion that moslem has against pork. You know, the part that whenever a good moslem is offered pork then he'll go, "Hiiiii, daging babi!"