Soal waktu.


Wih, waktu berjalan sangat cepat ya. Tanpa disadari foto diatas sudah berusia 12 tahun. Tanpa saya sadari bahwa berat badan sudah dikepala 8. Hal pertama yang terlintas waktu itu adalah “Doh I am getting older really that fast”. Saya sendiri berpikir apa aja yang sudah saya lakukan dan apa saja yang belum? Apakah saya melewatkan sesuatu dalam 12 tahun ini? Kesempatan apa yang belum saya raih? Lalu saya berpikir soal proses penuaan yang akan terjadi dalam waktu dekat (ha ha). Semoga 2018 dapat menjadi dasar yang baik untuk masa depan kita semua :).


Lasem: watching the past, in the future.

I was traveling from Malang to Lasem on land. It has been 8 years since my last trip on bus (which was end up pretty rough). Traveling for me is all about meeting new people and feel what should be feel. I always like to see the sunset from my bus or talk to strangers that really come from a different walk from my life. Since I have been occupied by new jobs in 2011, I was pampered with comfort with the transportation and reallly cozy hotels. Actually it is nice, but sometimes everything is soo unreal. I am not sure why.

So here I am on a bus trip from Surabaya to Lasem. I put my earphone on and started to see how the sky moved. Sometimes I see a young version of me in the window. It was 1992. You see, me and my family used to go for a long trip through the North Coast of Java. It was quite a nice family trip, though the car was a bit rusty. We, sometimes, stopped in a white sandy beaches along the coast. Sipping nice coconut water and feel the air whistle through my face. It was a very nice feeling. Along the way, sometimes, I can see my mom’s smiling at me through that window and I smile back at her.

Since having a much better job, I don’t have that much of time talking to people. You see, money give you the ability to buy stuff that won’t let you talk to people. We buy this and that to distinguish our self from the crowd. Though sometimes, everything that you bought just don’t fit with you. I decided to talk with a young-yellow-teethed-boy that sit next to me. He was cold as stone, but I managed to chat with him.

“I just visited my dad in Rungkut, Surabaya.”

So you don’t lived with your family?

“Yeah, mom died few years ago, now I lived with grandma”.

Such a bitter life.

My crazy bus driver getting nuts when the night start. Acres of salt field saying goodbye to the hot sunny day. Thousands of birds flying back to their nests. Such a lovely view. Except some new ugly building, surely nothing much changed since 1992. My bus stopped at Rembang. I jumped out and directly go to a three stars hotel in front of the alun-alun. The room was ok and clean. After some hot shower, I went into the alun-alun to grab something to eat. It was a nice but cheering alun-alun, where people gathered to celebrate the weekend.


In the morning I went out to Lasem, with a mini-bus (20 min drive to the east) which cost me. A very hot morning with no breakfast. I called Mbak Chandra, from Pondok Sadar Wisata Lasem, yesterday and we agree to meet up in front of Masjid Jame Lasem. As soon as my small mini bus enter Lasem, I started to see a couple of old big Indische-Chinese houses along the way. They all looked very dusty. Well, no wonder with hundreds or probably thousands of buses/trucks/cars passing every single days. I stopped in front of this big mosque, in an area that local called as alun-alun with no alun-alun can be seen where I met Mbak Chandra. After some hand shake, she took me with her old motor bebek to a small alleyway where suddenly the world change.

I decided to take over the motorcycle and let Mbak Chandra sat in the back seat soon as we arrived at Rumah Merah, in the heart of Karangturi (one out of three Chinese dominated village in Lasem.

“This never happened before Mas.. you are our first guest that decided to drive the tour guide”.

I laugh

The Little China in Java

I never been to China, but I think this is probably how old Chinese Village looked like. Big white walls with beautiful doors (Chinese-style) holding big houses. It was such a treat for history lovers or for foreigners like me. I can’t help myself to took some photos for these beautiful doors. Oh gosh, can’t believe this kind of thing still exist.


As I mention to you all before that these houses hold so many stories. Mbak Chandra took me to some of it. I visit the House of Om Gwan or Guan (not sure). He is very old mostlikely 70-ish and living alone (unmarried). Majority of these big houses in Lasem possessed a very nice looking porch where guests are welcome to sit and sip some tea. In front of these nice houses there’s always be photos of the first owners. Om Gwan also have some. He let me in to his house, how nice. It was not the prettiest, but surely used to be very pretty. I can see that he need to fix his house ASAP or perhaps in the next few years it will collapsed. Inside the house I can see some authentic and very old Chinese influenced furniture including a very antique  bed. I think they need to be restored and placed in a museum dedicated to Peranakan in Indonesia. The backyard was amazingly LARGE but very messy. I believe this condition occurred because Om Gwan is very old and can not fix his house anymore. He spent most of his time sitting in the porch with his dog and watch the time move.



Other house that I visit was this big house in front of the Lasem main street. It was all dusty but when you go into the backyard and you will be like WHOAAAAAA, a very large European style garden. The house itself look much better from the back. The owner Lie Thiam Kwie was a very rich dude back in the early 1900-s owning a very successful tegel or tiles factory with machine came directly from Leipzig (which give the name LZ tegel). Now, everything is very different from it used to be. The house owner moved to Semarang and leaved the house empty. The factory still working with less than 5 workers making a very simple tegel or sometimes con block. Photos of the family still hanging in the house, keeping all the memories.

I am not sure what annoyed me with all of these, is it the government that just never had anytime preserving our history or whether Indonesian tend not to like history, but we have been neglecting pages of our rich history so much. I am sure history is not only about exciting tales or nice building to be told, but it is more like a lesson learn. Lasem actually owned it, the sense of tolerance that keep this small safe from time to time. You see when VOC sack the city in 1750, Chinese and Javanese (and finally the Arab) fight together against the Dutch. They keep it as a memory in one of the temple here.


She took me to three different temples, where I fall in love with the second one: Cu Ang Kiong. The outer and inner interior was amazing! I can’t believe with all the details that been made. I mean seriously, the tiles, the paintings, murals, all the writings and of course the buildings itself. Such an architecture. The caretaker inform me that no picture can be taken in the main altar and I believe I need to obey that. The Cu Ang Kiong temple located in the Village of Dasun, just 100 meters from the main road. It was located just next to the Chinese’s kapitan house in Lasem (the one that used to smuggled drugs to Lasem). After some picturesque photo shoot, I flee out of the temple and going out from the central visiting the grand trembesi tree.

The Tree and The Batik


The road was not nicely paved with asphalt, actually it is more like sand and mud. Mbak Chandra took me out the the country, crossing all the non-Chinese villages, through the sawah and ladang, to finally meet this very old tree: Trembesi. It was amazing in size. I never thought that tree with such size still exist in Java. Chandra told me about all the superstition that surrounding this tree which then make it as a sacred token to Lasem. It was a very nice and calmy feeling sitting under this big giant. There was this small batik workshop where they do all the hand drawn traditional batik paintings. It was one of Lasem’s expertise where, I believe, the Chinese brought the knowledge from the mainland.

I went to one of the batik house in Karangturi. A very nice house, elegant. Like majority of big houses in Lasem, it holds a very large backyard. This one is consumed by a small batik workshop. A man who lived here ain’t that ordinary Saudagar Batik. Majority of batik businessman in Lasem are Chinese and most of their children now decided to give up the business. Not sure why. The owner of kidang mas batik actually one of them. He used to be schooled in Jakarta and work in that hustling city. But home call him back and reset all his thought about living the metropolitan life! Pak Rudi saw his little toddler girl play with one of the batik’s artist.


“She reminds me to myself when I was a little, joined the lunch with all pembatik in his parent’s workshop”.

He sky gazing.

“I am not sure about the future, as my workers are getting older and no new young generation now willing to work as pembatik tulis..”

He replied my question about what future hold to this industry.

Pesantren Life.


Before leaving the small little town that I suddenly fall in love with it, I went for shalat dzuhur in the local surau which in Pesantren Kauman. The kyai who lived there, also headmaster of the this islamic school is Gus Zaim, a very tolerant kyai I might say. We actually chat a lot ha-ha-ha, talking about history of Lasem and Islam, about tolerance, about those good old days when he was a boy living in Lasem.

“My great granddad actually came from West Sumatra”.

Which linked us somehow. Ha-ha.

Every santri in his pesantren understand about the importance of tolerance living in such multicultural environment. I am totally with him. The small little town showed a very contrast image of Islam with what we always see on TV lately.

The Sarong life.

I spent my last day browsing Rembang, a much bigger small town than Lasem (LOL). I learn from the locals, that they really having zero problem doing their thang with sarong. So, I did my night walk to restaurant or alun-alun only with my shirt and sarong. It was not really bad actually. I am thinking maybe in the future we should embraced more this tropical habit that used to be part of us. This will cut all the crazy electricity bills I think. LOL.

I learn a lot from Lasem and its people a lot, it’s self-developing community, sense of surviving, tolerance, and of course the feel to wear sarong for daily life. And I kind a enjoy it.

1 Tahun Menjadi Bapak.

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Terkadang saya suka mikir bahwa menikah adalah opsi yang tidak akan pernah saya pilih karena hal tersebut akan menjadi batas dalam pengambilan berbagai keputusan dalam hidup. You know all that personal list-things to do-before you die-kinda stuff. Nafsu personal yang terus digenjot setelah mendapatkan penghasilan dari bekerja. Hingga akhirnya waktu berbicara dan keinginan untuk menikah bukan karena memenuhi cek list personal, tapi sebuah kebutuhan untuk membina sebuah keluarga. Kebahagiaan kami bertambah (setelah berbagai seri long distance relationship dan marriage) dengan kehadiran Antariksa si putra semata wayang yang menjadi penyejuk hati setelah 4 hari sebelumnya ibu meninggalkan kami semua.

Setiap hari saya mengamati pertumbuhan Antariksa mulai dari tidak berdaya sama sekali hingga sekarang menjadi super aktif bicara dan berjalan. Setiap hari saya selalu mencoba untuk pulang tepat waktu agar bisa punya lebih banyak waktu bermain dengannya. Sayangnya KRL commuter line tidak pernah memenuhi janjinya. Saya selalu bahagia ketika melihat wajah Antariksa yang sangat antusias menyambut kepulangan bapaknya, menangis minta digendong, lalu kemudian minta dititah jalan. Kami  biasanya berdiskusi mengenai cicak yang tidak pernah kunjung datang lagi ke rumah hingga makan mangga bersama. Hal-hal sederhana yang membahagiakan dan tidak pernah terlintas dikepala saya dulu.

Sejujurnya keluarga adalah salah satu alasan saya bersyukur didalam hidup ini. Keluarga adalah sebuah tempat untuk pulang dimana kita disayang dengan sepenuh hati setiap hari. Untuk saya, keluarga menjadi pembatas tingkah laku sehari-hari. Keluarga juga menjadi pembatas berbagai hal yang kita lakukan dengan dasar nafsu atau keserakahan. Ibu saya pernah bilang bahwa salah satu alasan ayah saya menolak untuk “mengambil upeti” ketika menjadi kepala cabang di pelabuhan adalah karena keluarga. Ia percaya bahwa segala uang kutipan yang apabila ia ambil akan memberikan efek buruk kepada anak-istri yang ia beri makan.

Setiap pagi saya bangun lebih pagi menatap wajah dua orang tersayang. Saya selalu mencoba untuk bersemangat untuk menjalani hari. Karena kini didalam perahu ini ada ekstra dua orang yang harus saya pikirkan kehidupan dan kebahagiaanya. Banyak yang harus dipertimbangkan dan dikompromikan. Karena kini semuanya bukan selalu tentang saya.

Living the Singaporean Life.

Dalam kunjungan kami kedua tahun ini ke Singapura untuk mengikuti konferensi ilmu kebumian, saya sekeluarga memutuskan untuk menyewa sebuah Airbnb yang agak jauh dari semua pusat kegiatan wisata. Tempat ini berlokasi di Whampoa. Lokasi ini agak asik sih, walau jauh dari Marina Bay tapi cukup 20 menit dihubungkan dengan bus commuting yang ternyata lebih murah daripada naik MRT. Kami juga tinggal dekat dengan pasar basah, hawcker center, supermarket, dan beberapa instalasi heritage yang sangat cantik.

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Hidup tiap hari belanja bahan makanan, buang sampah, commuting ke central, dll di negara/kota lain ternyata sangat menyenangkan. Saya jadi ngedapetin “feel” menjadi bagian dari warga Singapura yang dulu saya selalu bilang sebagai warga yang menyedihkan karena seumur hidup tinggal di rumah susun, but to be honest it is not really that bad sih. Kami juga sempat membeli roti di salah satu toko roti tertua di Singapura yang masih secara tradisional memproduksi rotinya sendiri. Enak banget.

Bisa dikatakan kunjungan kedua kami di Singapura ini sangat berkesan karena kami berkesempatan untuk ngobrol banyak dengan warga lokal yang kami temui di jalan. Seperti orang india yang jualan teh tarik dan makanan india di kedainya sampai baba-baba yang kerjaannya godain Antariksa di dalam bus. Salah satu ibu tua sampai ngasih lihat foto cucunya karena dia bilang Antariksa mirip banget sama cucunya yang super aktif. Ternyata orang Singapura tidak se individualis yang selama ini saya pikirkan.

I guess in the future we gonna go with this kind of vacation. Setelah saya telaah lebih lanjut, ternyata traveling hanya untuk mendapatkan spot-spot wisata itu sangat melelahkan dan yang pasti sangat hectic. Saya rasa semua orang setuju bahwa alasan kita melakukan perjalanan adalah merasakan sesuatu yang berbeda dan elemen interaksi tentunya akan menciptakan rasa yang lebih besar dibandingkan visual saja.

Peranakan Cina di Kota Cirebon

Seiring dengan kedatangan masyarakat Cina Daratan ke kepulauan Nusantara, mereka bukan hanya membawa dan hidup dengan budaya nenek moyangnya disini, tapi mereka meramu kembali budaya dalam sebuah adaptasi budaya. Cirebon, sebagai salah satu kota pelabuhan tua, merupakan salah satu melting pot dari budaya Peranakan di Nusantara. Saya bertemu dan berbicara dengan beberapa dari mereka ketika saya berjalan ke Pasar Kanoman di jantung Cirebon tua.

Salah satu dokumen tertua tentang Peranakan Cina dari Cirebon berasal dari Kastil Batavia di tahun 1681. Ketika itu Sultan Cirebon tengah meminta bantuan Belanda untuk mengamankan kesulatanan mereka dari serangan Mataram Islam. Tampaknya terjadi perjanjian antara kedua belah pihak dimana dari pihak kesulatanan diwakili oleh 7 orang perwakilan. Dalam laporannya dikatakan bahwa 5 dari 7 perwakilan memiliki perawakan orang Cina.

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Ini adalah rumah toko Ibu Ming Cun. Dia kemungkinan berusia 60-70 tahun, sangat kurus, tinggal bersama keluarganya. Rumah toko ini menjual alat sembahyang untuk warga Peranakan Cina yang biasa berdoa di klenteng lokal Cirebon. Pada awalnya tidak ada yang terlalu menarik dari rumah toko ini, maksudnya ya mereka menjual warna-warni alat sembahyang, namun hanya itu. Namun saya menemukan sebuah plat besi tua didepan rumah yang bersanding dengan kertas doa dari klenteng lokal. Yang menarik adalah dalam plat tua ini tertulis detail Pancasila dalam ejaan lama. Kemungkinan benda ini berasal sebelum tahun 1967, ketika pertama kali EYD diutarakan dan kemudian diimplementasikan secara nasional. Ibu Ming Cun bilang bahwa plat tua itu sudah ada disana sejak dia kecil. Dan memang sepertinya menua seperti sang pemilik. Saya berkesempatan untuk bertemu dengan orang tertua di rumah ini, namun sangat disayangkan tidak terlalu banyak yang bisa kami bicarakan. Padahal ingin sekali saya mengorek kenangan masa lampaunya.

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Dengan berjalan kaki, selain sehat, banyak hal-hal lain yang bisa temukan. Seperti toko jamu tua di Jalan Pandesan yang berumur lebih dari 200 tahun. Oke, tokonya nggak setua itu sih, tapi setidaknya Ny. Tan So sudah membuat jamu sejak 1815. Saya sempat menengok masuk setelah diizinkan oleh karyawan toko yang bilang sebenarnya tokonya belum buka sih. Bisnis jamu tampaknya sudah agak redup, sehingga kini generasi kesekian dari Ny. Tan So harus berkreasi dengan usaha katering. Saya menemukan bahwa kebanyakan dari kebanggan lokal kita seperti jamu atau batik sebenarnya semakin populer karena dipegang oleh warga Peranakan. Saya entah kenapa percaya bahwa peranan mereka lebih dari sekedar menjual namun juga kemungkinan nenek moyangnya juga membawa inti dari tradisi tersebut ke Nusantara.

Semakin dekat dengan Pasar Kanoman, saya menemukan kuil Cina tua yang bernama Vihara Pancaran Keselamatan atau Boen San Tong yang dibangun pada tahun 1894. Tidak terlampau tua. Berwarna merah. Saya membuka pintunya yang tertutup rapat namun tak dikunci. Saya menemui dua orang tua yang lagi santai di rumah kecil sebelah kuil utama. Disinilah saya bertemu Bu Kim Li si penjaga kuil. Dengan ramahnya dia membawa saya ke ruang-ruang utama kuil.

“Dewa utama disini adalah Dewa Bumi”, katanya.

Ruang utama merupakan milik si Dewa nomor 1 di kuil. Altar besar dengan dinding yang penuh dengan cerita menarik. Sangat disayangkan Ibu Kim Li pun tidak tahu apa cerita yang dituliskan disana. Seperti kebanyakan Pernakan Cina di Jawa, Ibu Kim Li tidak bisa berbahasa Mandarin atau Hokkian. Kemungkinan beliau adalah bagian generasi yang tercabut budayanya oleh rezim Orde Baru di tahun 1966. Ibu Kim Li sendiri adalah seorang yang sangat suka ngobrol. Selepas keliling kami saling bercerita panjang lebar tentang hal-hal sederhana.. ha ha.. tiba-tiba dia ngobrol soal asisten rumah tangganya yang mau jadi TKI lah atau bagaimana orang-orang mencoba untuk membeli patung-patung didalam kuil karena sudah ada “isi”nya. Kuil ini sangat terbuka untuk umum, walau pagi itu terlihat sangat sepi.

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Saya berjanji kepada  Ibu Kim Li bahwa saya akan datang lagi di lain hari. Saya juga janji bahwa saya akan informasikan kepada yang lain bahwa this place is open for tourist.

Kopyor 4848

I was visiting Cirebon (again) few months ago for another sharing session with some colleagues. I always like Cirebon because there’s always be hidden gems that I found during my short trips to this town.

My boss took me to this old local dessert cafe. This small shop used to be a pool for 4848 minibus from Cirebon to Bandung in the old days. Not sure since when did the owner also served kopyor for the costumer. Time tell the minibus to shut their business but the kopyor still remain.





That hot and steamy Cirebon changed a lot after one expensive glass of kelapa kopyor. LOL. The shop has a very very modest but impressive interior gimmick. I might say classic but quite picturesque. I am not sure why the owner hanged all that brand new calendars, but surely they all looked very instagramable. I also like how they put all of those personal family photos in the shop, it is really heartwarming. The shop also sell homemade rose syrup using 100% sugar to sweetened the taste. I bought one and kinda like it.