Friday, December 28, 2012

Anno Domini 2012

I began this year in Manila and found myself in Banggai when it will depart.

In between, I've returned to Kyoto, frequented Osaka, volunteered again in Ishinomaki before leaving Japan for Indonesia with fond memories.

I finally get to see some places of interest: my trip began with Cirebon, Jakarta, then Ujung genteng in Sukabumi with the high school gang. Malang was next on my list, and Batu and Sempu island was part of the package, with friends from ITB Astronomy to keep me company until I head off to Surabaya where Uphie, Rifan, and Satrio were to be crowned champion of ITS open.

In the meantime, Ninit introduced me to Andy, with whom I travel together from Surabaya to Bali (my first time snorkeling, in Amed), with a detour to Bromo (my first mountain hike as well) and Ijen (the hurried hike there knocked the wind out of me).

Andy and I parted ways in Bali, and thereafter I am much obliged to Naufal, who allowed me to crash in his place until Minerva arrived in Bali.

I took my first breath underwater in the following days and it was as marvelous as people say it would be. I have yet to use my diving license after Bali, though.

For we quickly fly out to Maumere, hired a taxi to Larantuka, and crossed the strait to Lewoleba to get to Lamalera. We were in time to see the Mass that open the whale hunting season but found out that there was little else to do but read and relax in the sleepy hamlet. No whales for us this time.

A couple days later we were back to Lewoleba to catch the ferry to Kupang, our starting point to travel to Timor Leste.

Dili has a both foreign and familiar atmosphere. A week's stay in Atauro Island is recommended, particularly if one wishes to avoid torturous crossing back to the mainland.

I loitered back in Kupang afterwards, plans to go back to Lamalera/visit Rote thwarted by unfriendly tidal waves. The harbourmaster decided to issue no permit for the ships to sail out.

I flew to Makassar instead, and made new friends in Bulukumba and Bira. You can't get much livelier traveling companions than Fresa, Listra, Edwin and Ninit, that's for sure. I am positively gloomy by comparison.

Days flew by and soon they had to return to work: we parted ways in Makassar. Unencumbered by any grown up responsibility then, I bought my first big Pelni ship ticket to take me to Bau-bau, where I spent a week doing little else than wishing the rain to stop until I was tired. It was time to get out, and so I went with a small boat to Wangi-wangi under the constant pounding of rain. It was to be another rainy week that left little opportunities to snorkel in peace. I was getting low on cash by then and if I were going to finally dive in Tomia I'd better have some.

But there was a surprise in my mailbox: Indonesia Mengajar invited me to an interview round and I figured I'd better prepare for it and flew back to Jogja before taking the train to Jakarta. That preparation was planned but I did very little by way of it in the end, of course. All I thought about was, I need to make a new travel plan.

That was how I ended up in Bandar Lampung, where Fresa lent me her tent to be brought to Kiluan Island. The pods of dolphin were shy and nowhere to be found but it was an enjoyable trip nonetheless. When I was back in Bandar Lampung to arrange my travel onward to Palembang, Fresa convinced me that I could do worse than getting a detour to Belitung. So Palembang, Tanjung Pandan, before I went back to Jakarta and made my way to Purwokerto before finally flying back to Sumatra: Banda Aceh was my starting point to start exploring Weh Island with Cindy.

I made my way southward afterwards and with little difficulty found myself in Medan, inside a crammed bus to Tuk-tuk on Samosir Island. I missed the Toba festival just by mere days, apparently. I flew from Medan to Singapore a couple days later and was feeling very thankful to Septian who put up with me when I was there until my departure back to Jakarta. I thought that my bout of traveling had reached a conclusion then, but Apu convinced me with little efforts to go to Karimun Jawa and who am I to refuse?

Semarang was an obvious place to stop by after Karimun Jawa before heading home. It's already close to Eid holiday after all. Holiday at home, then to Indonesia Mengajar's intensive training camp, which brought me and 51 others teachers-to-be to Kareumbi in Garut, Jatiluhur in Purwakarta, and Situ Lembang in Cimahi for a very educational two months.

Had anybody made a wager during the training's early days that two months will feel like a blink of an eye, he'd be filthy rich by now. At its conclusion, with tears everywhere I and 5 other Banggai-bound Pengajar Muda said our goodbyes and good lucks to our friends departing to Aceh Utara, Bengkalis, Tulang Bawang Barat, Majene, Paser, and Halmahera Selatan. Our plane to Luwuk was the first to depart from Soekarno-Hatta, and I'm fairly certain my harrying my five other friends to "Run, gottverdammt, run, we have only 15 minutes!" will be something I'll never live down with them.

Luwuk, then Bali (which doesn't refer to the Island of Gods but instead to Batui Lima, a colloquial name for UPT Batui 5, which stands for Unit Pemukiman Transmigrasi Batui 5), 400 m above sea level, populated by Balinese people with a significant Javanese population at the neighboring village. No sea in sight, of course. And here's where I'll be spending my new years for two years, until the early dawns of 2014.

This has been one hell of a year with extraordinary blessings, not least of all the places I got to see. But the best part is of course the acquaintances turns to friends and existing friendships affirmed. If this isn't life at its best, then I don't know what is.

Have a happy new year. Here's for a merry year ahead.


Anonymous said...

Perfect memories! :))
I really wish I could do this way one day! :D

Happy new year, Hilmy!

Masyhur Hilmy said...

here's hoping this year will be spectacular well--for you in Paser, too, Ko.
there were talks of a road trip post OPP--you should definitely join. I know I will :)

Adam Poskitt said...

Sounds like a great year! Hope to hear some great new stories this year!