Cirebon railway station

I’ve heard people said that Cirebon was one of the must visit destinations in Java Island, especially if you were searching for great local dishes. This small port city is only three hours from Jakarta by train and located in the middle of Jakarta and Yogyakarta. I’ve been to Yogyakarta so many times yet I hadn’t had a chance to visit this city until I and my husband decided to go to Cirebon on our way home to Jakarta from Yogyakarta last June.

I went to Cirebon by train from Yogyakarta for about four and a half hours. I bought two executive seats via KAI Access application with the price around USD 18 each. I’ve read somewhere that so many taxi drivers would offer you a ride once you stepped out of the Cirebon station and that was true. They offered me a ride with a fixed and expensive cost (no meter!) even though the distance from the station to my hotel was actually quite close. So I walked out a little bit out of the Cirebon station, found Bhinneka Taxi, and used them because they charged us based on the meter.

I spent three days in Cirebon and, in my opinion, that was enough because this city still needs a lot of improvement if they want to keep tourists stay longer. The first thing my husband and I searched for when we arrived in Cirebon was no other than its local cuisine. Here’s the summary of our culinary trip:

Food was great, but not that great. I was more exciting to find new local dishes in Yogyakarta rather than in Cirebon. As a first timer, of course I tried some dishes that have been recommended by my friends and most blogs/media.

Nasi Jamblang Ibu Nur

The stingray was delish!

Most blogs I read suggested their readers to try this place, so I tried. Nasi jamblang is actually white rice served on a teakwood leaf that you can combine with various side dishes. It is like a all-you-can-eat buffet, but in here is you-pay-what-you-eat buffet. The restaurant is very big and you have plenty of dishes to choose. I ate stingray fish, sautéed soybean, fritter, and sambal while my husband ate stingray fish, sautéed small squid, and fritter. Frankly speaking, the stingray fish was delicious but the rest was just okay. Unfortunately, my husband didn’t really like it because most of the dishes were spicy (he was sweating a lot!).

Address: Jl. Cangkring 2 No.34, Kejaksan

Nasi Jamblang Mang Dul

Another nasi jamblang

Since nasi jamblang is one of Cirebon’s specialties, I didn’t want to try just one place. As far as I know, Nasi Jamblang Mang Dul is known to be the second famous nasi jamblang in Cirebon, so I went to this place too! The place was smaller compared to Nasi Jamblang Ibu Nur, but to me it felt more local (not too touristy). The price was half cheaper than that of Nasi Jamblang Ibu Nur, unfortunately the side dishes were just so-so.

Address: Jl. DR. Cipto Mangunkusumo No.8, Pekiringan, Kesambi

Empal Gentong & Empal Asem H Apud

The highlight of my culinary trip

Empal gentong is one of Cirebon’s typical foods and I very recommend you to try this one. This dish is a coconut milk meat soup boiled in a huge pot we called gentong. I tried one of the most famous empal gentong restaurants in Cirebon named Empal Gentong & Empal Asem H Apud. Just like its name, I ordered empal gentong and empal asem (sour empal). The meat chunks were so soft like it melted in my mouth. The soups were very tasty and rich in flavor. I could eat a lot in here!

Address: Jl. Raya Ir. H. Djuanda No. 24, Battembat, Tengah Tani, Battembat, Tengah Tani

Panggang Babi Apun

Yummy durian, happy face!

Honestly, I couldn’t find other restaurants in Cirebon that served pork than Panggang Babi Apun. The restaurant was located just outside of Kanoman traditional market. I visited Panggang Babi Apun on the first day I arrived in Cirebon and the food was already sold out (it was around 3 or 4 pm). Luckily, there was a roadside durian stall right in front of Panggang Babi Apun to ease our disappointment. It was actually my husband’s idea since I’m not really fond of this fruit but apparently I quite liked it because the fruit chosen by the seller was quite sweet and very creamy.

The one and only pork dish in town

And wait, I didn’t give up just yet. On the next day I visited Panggang Babi Apun (at around 12.30 pm) and they were still open, yeay! I ordered their roasted pork and crispy skin pork with rice. It tasted delicious and the sauce was quite different than the ones I’ve tried in Jakarta. The owner also mentioned that she delivered the roasted pork to Jakarta and Bandung regularly. Wow, I wonder where…

Address: Jalan Kanoman No. 1, Kanoman, Pekalipan

Petik Merah Coffee Roaster

I never forget to try local coffee shops whenever I visited a place. It is a great way to spend an afternoon or evening after hopping tirelessly from one tourism spot to another. I went to Petik Merah Coffee Roaster and had a short chitchat with one of the baristas there. The coffee was good and the place was quite nice. It was quite difficult to find at the beginning because the place was located inside a cafe named Adipati. However, the barista told me that they were planning to move somewhere not too far in a few months.

Address: Jl. Wahidin No.81, Sukapura, Kejaksan

Baraja Coffee

I found this 24-hour coffee shop after chitchat with the Petik Merah’s barista. He said this coffee shop was one of the pioneers in Cirebon and very popular amongst young people. I was there at around 10 pm (I went there after paying a visit to Petik Merah Coffee Roaster because the location was near) and the space was still quite pack. My husband ordered black coffee with coffee beans from Garut and the barista made the coffee using V60 on our table. It was quite interesting to watch while waiting for him to brew the coffee.

Address: Jl. Tentara Pelajar No.107, Pekiringan, Kejaksan

There were actually two more coffee shops that I wanted to try but too bad they were closed during my visit to Cirebon. Just in case you’re interested, here they are:

  • Coffeelieur (located next to Cirebon railway station)
  • Blind Bottle Coffee Store (Ruko Harjamulia Indah Lt.2 Blok AU 6, Jalan Brigjen Haji Darsono, Tuk, Kedawung, Tuk, Kedawung)

Price wise most foods in Cirebon were quite affordable so you won’t spend so much. However, the variation was less compared to dishes you’ll find in Bali or even Yogyakarta. If you happen to be in Cirebon, just don’t forget to try its empal gentong. I’d like to taste this dish in any other restaurants in Cirebon, just to compare.

Oh, someday!


Sebagian orang memperlakukan kegiatan menulis sebagai pekerjaan sehari-hari yang menghasilkan uang, sementara sebagian orang lainnya menganggap menulis adalah kegiatan yang dilakukan di waktu luang. Bagi seorang jurnalis yang juga penulis cerita pendek, novelis, dan penulis esai Melissa Pritchard, menulis adalah sebuah cara untuk berdoa dan berkomunikasi dengan sesuatu yang lebih besar dari diri sendiri. Di bab “Spirit and Vision” dari buku A Solemn Pleasure, ia menulis:

But for many years, I’ve been moving inexorably toward the concept of literature as a sacred vocation, toward Yeats’ concept of artists as priests, as shamans, as soul transformers. And perhaps if you are, as I am, aspiring to be this kind of writer (and by this I do not eliminate humor, the power of wit and lightheartedness), you might consider yourselves, however briefly, in the category of holy persons, language saints, saints of storytelling.

Ia juga menambahkan:

Consider for a moment your work as analogous to intimate prayer in which you address God, and thereby divineness, in all matter.

What you have chosen is a profound vocation of healing, and your stories and poems are as sacraments, as visible blessings. Be at the heart and soul of your time, not resigned to what is safe or peripheral. Try to free yourself from attachment to results, to awards, publications, praise, to indifference, rejection, and misunderstanding. Immerse yourself in the common ground of the universe so that your true voice – not the egoistic voice that clamors vainly for power (for it will ruin you if you listen to it) – your authentic voice, supported by sacred reality, may be heard.

Membaca bab ini rasanya seperti diingatkan kalau menulis adalah sesuatu yang sakral. Terkadang, kita terlalu terbenam dalam rutinitas, apalagi mereka yang bekerja di bidang editorial atau tulis-menulis, sehingga kegiatan ini seringkali terasa hanya seperti pekerjaan, bukan hal yang dilakukan dengan penuh kesadaran dan hati.

Buku A Solemn Pleasure adalah buku yang menyenangkan untuk dibaca berulang kali. Esai yang ditulis Pritchard sangat beragam, seperti cerita tentang kesehariannya bersama seekor anjing teckel/dachshund di bab “Doxology” (salah satu esai favorit saya karena sebagai pencinta anjing yang tumbuh dengan dachshund, saya sangat bisa memahami apa yang ia tuliskan).

The Dachshund’s affectionate,
He wants to wed with you:
Lie down to sleep,
And he’s in bed with you.
Sit in a chair,
He’s there.
You break his heart. (halaman 94, “Doxology”)

Ia juga bercerita panjang tentang caranya berduka ketika ibunya meninggal dunia di bab “A Solemn Pleasure”: dengan mengikuti retret penulis internasional di Edinburgh, meskipun awalnya ia mengikuti retret tersebut untuk menulis, tentu saja. Saya sangat kagum dengan kemampuan Pritchard melakukan observasi terhadap sekitarnya dan menuangkannya ke dalam tulisan. Ceritanya tentang kematian adalah kesedihan yang indah dan menenangkan.

According to Tibetan Buddhist teachings, the spirit has enough energy during the first hours and days after death to give signs to the living, but after that, the spirit moves on, signs fade, then are gone. Gan.

Satu esai lagi yang paling berkesan buat saya di buku ini adalah “Still, God Helps You: Memories of a Sundanese Child Slave” yang mengangkat tentang pengalaman Pritchard bertemu dan membantu William Mawwin, seorang pelajar di Phoenix yang berhasil selamat dari perbudakan di Sudan saat ia diculik ketika masih kecil dulu. Kalau ada hal yang bisa dipelajari dari cerita ini, adalah untuk nggak pernah menyerah dalam hidup.

Mawwin diculik saat ia masih kecil, mengalami penyiksaan mental dan fisik semasa ia menjadi budak dan berpindah-pindah majikan, berupaya melarikan diri berkali-kali hingga akhirnya berhasil mendaratkan kaki di Amerika Serikat dengan selamat meskipun satu lengan dan beberapa jari tangan adalah bayarannya. Tubuhnya adalah saksi betapa keras kehidupan Mawwin sebelum ia sampai di negeri Paman Sam. Dan Pritchard menyampaikan kisahnya dengan sangat luar biasa.

My life, it teaches me to watch, to not get upset or excited too much. When I’m upset, I’m only making it worse. I have to breathe every day, I have to think of the next day. If I get too excited, there is no one to rescue me, I am on my own. I have to think what is good and bad. I have to watch. Take my time. Imitate people when they aren’t watching. I learned that good people can turn to bad people. When someone wants something from you, they treat you nice until they get what they want. That is the reality, but I don’t want to treat people like that. I appreciate all the people who did good things to me. I even appreciate the ones who did bad things to me. I really wish I could sit down with every one of those people, show them my appreciation, show forgiveness. I wish I could do that.

Pritchard menyampaikan apa yang memang seharusnya disampaikan oleh buku ini: A Solemn Pleasure to Imagine, Witness, and Write.

Sewaktu mau menulis pengalaman saya ditangani oleh dokter saat jari terpotong pisau, saya sempat berpikir pengalaman saya ini nggak baru karena sepertinya sebagian besar orang sudah banyak mengetahui soal komersialisasi dunia medis. Tapi ketika mengalami di diri sendiri, saya baru menyadari kalau second opinion itu sangat penting, dan kehadiran dokter keluarga yang terpercaya juga sangat dibutuhkan untuk menjadi support system. So I decided to share this…

Saya dan suami memang suka masak ketika berada di rumah. Selain untuk menghindari keborosan karena makan di luar atau pesan Go-Food terus, kegiatan memasak juga menjadi salah satu rutinitas yang kami nikmati berdua.

Suatu malam, karena merasa sudah cukup jago mencacah bahan makanan, saya memainkan pisau (yang baru dibeli kurang dari tiga bulan) dengan lincah. Pisau baru ini memang luar biasa tajam, dan kuku saya sudah pernah patah dibuatnya. Agak kurang belajar dari pengalaman, malam itu ujung jempol saya terpotong pisau. Bukan cuma coak, ujung jempol saya benar-benar terpotong sampai copot!

Panik? Iya banget. Potongannya sih kecil tapi melihat darah segar mengalir tuh rasanya nyessss…

Hal pertama yang saya lakukan adalah mencuci jempol di air mengalir sambil lukanya ditekan, soalnya kalau dilepas sakitnya luar biasa banget. Suami yang ikutan panik karena saya panik melakukan pertolongan pertama dengan membungkus jempol menggunakan pembalut (hahaha!), sambil kita barengan pergi ke klinik K24 di Bangka Raya untuk konsultasi dengan dokter langganan, Dokter Budi A Witjaksono.

Sampai di klinik K24, saya nggak turun dari mobil. Suami yang turun dan bertanya sebentar ke dokter, apa yang harus dilakukan kalau ada ujung jari kepotong pisau. Dokter menyarankan untuk dibalut kencang di bagian luka sampai tertekan. Akhirnya suami membeli peralatan dari K24 dan membalut tangan saya di mobil. Setelahnya, saya terus menekan ujung jempol yang sudah diperban sambil menaruh tangan yang luka dengan posisi di atas jantung.

Lima jam kemudian waktu menunjukkan pukul tengah malam. Saya ingin mengganti perban sebelum tidur, supaya fresh. Cukup perjuangan juga membuka perbannya. Karena jempol saya masih sakit banget, jadi perban yang melekat ketat harus digunting pelan-pelan supaya jempol nggak ketarik sama sekali. Ketika sampai harus membuka perban di ujung jempol, saya pun merasakan kesakitan yang luar biasa karena sepertinya luka yang agak mengering menempel ke perban, jadi perban susah dilepas.

Untuk mengurangi rasa sakit, suami menuang air panas ke jempol sambil saya pelan-pelan menarik perban dari ujung jempol yang luka. Air panas di sini sebenarnya untuk mengalihkan rasa sakit saya. Dengan penuh perjuangan akhirnya perban berhasil dilepas! Tapi, kepanikan nggak berhenti sampai situ karena ternyata pas dicek darah masih menetes dari luka tersebut. Karena takut saya kehabisan darah (nggak tau sih sebenernya bisa sampai kehabisan darah apa gimana, tapi ya panik aja gitu ngeliat darahnya menetes terus kalau lukanya nggak ditekan), akhirnya kami memutuskan ke UGD RS Medistra.

Di UGD RS Medistra, dokter yang melihat luka saya bilang pembuluh darah vena saya ikut kepotong, makanya darahnya menetes terus dan susah berhenti karena lukanya cukup dalam, jadi nggak ada waktu untuk darah membeku. Beliau bilang saya nggak perlu panik, karena yang kepotong bukan pembuluh darah arteri yang alirannya ke jantung (kalau pembuluh ini yang kepotong darahnya akan muncrat seperti di flim-film gitu). Karena saya nggak membawa kulit yang terpotong (ternyata bisa ditempel lagi! Tapi telat sih, udah lima jam berlalu juga dari kulitnya copot), dokternya memberi saran tiga hal:

  1. Dikasih sesuatu obat (saya lupa namanya) untuk mengecilkan pembuluh darah, dengan harapan darahnya bisa membeku
  2. Disimpul, jadi ujung luka sebelah kiri dengan ujung luka sebelah kanan dijahit
  3. Dibebet tekan, ini sebenarnya teknik pembalutan luka tapi super ketat supaya luka menutup sendiri nantinya

Karena belum mau disimpul, akhirnya dokter mencoba opsi pertama dulu, yaitu dikasih obat untuk mengecilkan pembuluh darah. Ditunggu selama lima menit ternyata darahnya masih menetes. Akhirnya dokter kembali memberikan pernyataan dan saran berikut:

  1. Kalau disimpul, nanti lukanya bisa menjadi hitam karena nggak ada peredaran udara (kurang lebih seperti ini ya, saya lupa pernyataan tepatnya).
  2. Kalau dibebet tekan sebenarnya bisa. Tapi penyembuhannya lama, dan kalau kesenggol dikit gampang berdarah lagi. Waktu itu saya sempat menanyakan kira-kira memang butuh berapa hari darah untuk menutup dan beliau nggak memberikan jawaban jelas.
  3. Saran terakhir dia bilang untuk melakukan skin graft, sebuah teknik operasi bedah plastik yang mengambil kulit dari bagian badan yang lain untuk ditempel ke yang luka. Dia bilang dengan skin graft maka luka akan menutup sempurna. Udah gitu dia bilang beberapa waktu sebelum saya sampai di UGD ada satu pasien juga yang baru melakukan skin graft karena jarinya juga kepotong pisau.

Perlakuan skin graft nggak bisa dilakukan oleh dokter UGD, jadi harus memanggil dokter bedah plastik. Anehnya, saat saya bertanya berapa biaya yang diperlukan untuk melakukan skin graft, si dokter UGD nggak bisa memberikan jawaban. Dia bilang saya harus konfirmasi pasti dulu kalau bersedia untuk skin graft baru dia bisa tanyakan ke dokter bedah plastiknya. Lah, bukannya harusnya segala jenis biaya operasi harganya sudah ada di bagian administrasi?

penampakan jempol yang diberikan perlakuan bebet tekan

Karena merasa ada yang aneh dengan pernyataan itu dan saya ingin cek asuransi dulu apakah bisa di-cover atau nggak, akhirnya saya menerima perlakuan dibebet tekan dulu. Keesokan paginya, saat mengecek asuransi ternyata asuransi saya dinyatakan nonaktif (pas dikroscek lagi beberapa hari kemudian sebenarnya aktif, tapi waktu itu sistemnya lagi error makanya terlihat nonaktif; it was actually a blessing in disguise). Akhirnya saya memutuskan untuk berkonsultasi lagi ke dokter langganan saya, Dokter Budi.

Setelah diobservasi oleh Dokter Budi dan beliau mendengarkan cerita saya, terungkaplah hal-hal berikut:

  1. Luka saya sebenarnya nggak perlu sampai skin graft. Perlakuan ini lebih cocok untuk orang yang kena luka bakar. Dan skin graft bukanlah cara untuk menghentikan pendarahan. Jadi dibebet tekan saja sudah cukup, diamkan selama 3-4 hari dan jangan kena air.
  2. Ada praktik bisnis kesehatan di berbagai rumah sakit, di mana dokter UGD yang berhasil menginapkan pasien atau membuat pasien melakukan treatment tertentu akan mendapatkan persenan dari rumah sakit ataupun dari dokter spesialis yang bersangkutan.

the ‘zombie’ thumbnail!

Empat hari kemudian saya kembali ke Dokter Budi untuk membuka perban. Meskipun jempol saya terlihat seperti habis digerogotin tikus, tapi pendarahannya sudah berhenti. Tinggal menunggu waktu untuk regenerasi lagi dengan sempurna. Sekarang sudah hampir tiga minggu berlalu dan luka saya sudah menutup sempurna. No surgery needed!

Kalau waktu itu saya gegabah untuk melakukan skin graft, duit jutaan rupiah sudah melayang di hal yang sebenarnya nggak terlalu diperlukan. Jadi, berhati-hati ya kalau melakukan pengobatan. Ada baiknya memang selalu mencari second opinion ketika sedang membutuhkan perawatan apapun.


Buat saya, Neil Gaiman adalah salah satu penulis yang karya-karyanya bisa membawa saya melarikan diri sejenak ke dunia lain tanpa benar-benar beranjak dari bumi yang saya pijak, dan American Gods (Dewa-dewa Amerika) adalah buku yang layak dibaca baik oleh penggemar Gaiman maupun pembaca yang baru mengenal namanya.

Buku American Gods tebal banget, dan (lagi-lagi) saya tidak menyadari betapa tebalnya buku ini karena saya membaca e-book-nya tanpa mencari tahu terlebih dahulu tentang buku ini. Tapi, tidak seperti waktu membaca 1Q84, membaca American Gods tidak membuat saya kelelahan dan saya bisa melahapnya dengan cukup cepat (for a slow reader!).

American Gods berkisah tentang Shadow Moon, seorang tahanan yang, setelah menjalani hukumannya di penjara dengan sabar selama tiga tahun, akhirnya bisa bebas dan kembali ke kehidupan normalnya bersama istri tercinta, Laura Moon. Sayangnya, beberapa hari sebelum Shadow bebas ia mendapatkan kabar kalau Laura dan sahabat Shadow meninggal dalam kecelakaan mobil. Merasa kehilangan arah karena awalnya ia berencana untuk bekerja di tempat sahabatnya yang juga meninggal dan kini ia tidak mempunyai uang sepeser pun, Shadow dengan berat hati menerima pekerjaan sebagai supir dan bodyguard seorang pria misterius bernama Mr Wednesday yang ia temui di pesawat saat perjalanan pulang untuk datang ke pemakaman istrinya.

Perjalanannya bersama Mr Wednesday membawa Shadow pada perjumpaan-perjumpaan dengan tokoh-tokoh yang ternyata berkaitan dengan takdir Shadow sendiri. Ia menemukan misteri masa lalu yang sebelumnya tidak ia ketahui, dan mendapati dirinya berada di tengah peperangan antara dewa-dewa lama dan dewa-dewa baru. Dewa-dewa lama adalah mereka yang dipuja-puja oleh para pendatang yang kini menduduki tanah Amerika, mereka yang dulu berkuasa karena disembah sedemikian rupa melalui beragam persembahan dalam bentuk doa-doa, kurban, darah, seks, dan lain sebagainya, namun kini popularitasnya menurun dan kemampuannya melemah karena persembahan itu tidak lagi diberikan untuk dewa-dewa lama, melainkan dewa-dewa baru dalam bentuk teknologi modern seperti televisi, smartphone, komputer, dan masih banyak lagi.

Ada banyak twist di dalam American Gods dan ending-nya juga buat saya tidak terduga. Gaiman menceritakan kisah di buku ini dengan plot maju, dan menyelipkan flashback tentang pemujaan dewa-dewa lampau di bab-bab tertentu, yang tentu saja mengungkapkan seberapa besar kuasa para dewa ini sebelum akhirnya diambil alih oleh dewa-dewa baru.

Tapi, apakah benar dewa-dewa lama memang bisa tergantikan oleh dewa-dewa baru? Lalu apa kaitannya Shadow sebagai tokoh sentral di antara peperangan para dewa ini? Saya sangat terkagum-kagum dengan referensi Gaiman dalam membuat cerita ini dan kepiawaiannya memaparkan cerita yang begitu rumit dan penokohan yang sangat banyak namun tetap bisa dinikmati dan mengalir hingga ke akhir cerita yang sempurna. Rasanya tidak ada tokoh yang sia-sia dalam cerita ini, semua mempunyai peranannya masing-masing.

Saya juga senang saat mengetahui buku ini diadaptasi ke dalam serial TV. Mudah-mudahan bisa divisualisasikan seindah bukunya!

 Kesimpulan: wajib dibaca dan dikoleksi!


People say that life is all about balance, but hey Jakartans, how do you manage to stay sane living in the midst of city’s traffic chaos?

Throughout 2016 I didn’t experience the Jakarta’s crazy traffic during rush hours. I found peace in waking up and going to my working table next to my bedroom. This year, I’ve been trying something different by working part time for a digital agency located around Kuningan area, the area that I usually avoid most of the time. That means I have to go to Kuningan three times a week during rush hours and make peace with traffic.

It wasn’t easy at the beginning. Driving a car was out of the options because I didn’t want to get stuck in the traffic and release my anger to other people. I would be one of those people who kept angry but didn’t give a solution to make the city a better place for living. So I decided to commute to work by using on-demand transportation providers. I used car in the morning and motorbike in the evening, because the night traffic congestion was worse.

Then again, I found a problem.

Being a passenger didn’t mean stress couldn’t hit you and spending 1-2 hours or more on the street sitting while doing nothing was quite stressful, especially those in motorbike, because you had to deal with pollution and fluctuating weather too. Not to mention the long-suffering commuters who had to face late running train services. No wonder people do unpleasant things and become more ignorant of other people.

I know that we can’t change the traffic and our behavior in a blink on an eye but I believe we can feel better if we surround ourselves with good things during bad times, and that, my friends, will keep us sane.

Instead of opening our social media accounts and grumbling about the traffic, why don’t we fill our smartphone with great audio files? Podcast or audiobook, you decide. I am sure there are times when we feel bored of listening those same songs over and over again on the radio.

These are some of my favorite podcasts to listen to:

Art for your ear – The Jealous Curator

This podcast consists of conversations between The Jealous Curator and her artist/creative friends. She asks a lot of great questions and it feels like listening to two great friends talking about their passions. How awesome is that?

The Penguin Podcast

Notable Penguin authors appeared on this podcast: Malcolm Gladwell, Jennifer Saunders, and more. Listen to these authors talking about given themes. It’s wonderful.

Ted Radio Hour 

Just like its videos, Ted Radio Hour provides us very educational stories about interesting Ted speakers.

On Being

This podcast takes up the big questions of meaning through interviews with creatives, scientists, theologians, and teachers. You may already know some of them: Paulo Coelho, Sarah Kay, and more.


Otherwise, if you are a reader like me, you may want to start collecting audiobooks. It is a lovely treat to listen to an author read his or her own work, you know?

Do you have any other suggestions to cope with the busy traffic? I would love to hear one!

I still can remember vividly the astonishing view of Mount Bromo during my first visit back in 2009: the beautiful sunrise and that apocalyptic feeling when you saw the sun appeared on the top of the mountain. It was crowded, obviously, because I was there on high season. After enjoying the sunrise, people walked towards the mountain to climb the 450 steep stairs that lead to the crater and stayed there for awhile to be once again mesmerised by the view.

It was beyond beautiful, and I thought I could take a trip down memory lane once more in 2016 (It’s 2017 now, I know. How late!)

I visited Mount Bromo for the second time during my road trip from Bali to Jakarta earlier last September. It was a sudden plan and neither I nor my husband brought a coat to cope with the cold temperature. But we went anyway.

Relying on Google Map, we arrived at the entrance of the Mount Bromo National Park. A man asked us to park the car at the given parking space and continued the journey using a jeep provided by them (not for free, of course). It was low season, so I saw only a few tourists, both locals and foreigners. I paid IDR450,000 for a jeep and a drive to take us to three places (Whispering Sands, Savannah, and Mount Bromo). I didn’t know if the price was okay or too expensive, but we didn’t have a choice anyway. We weren’t prepared to take a walk to Mount Bromo.


The Whispering Sands, my favourite spot!


In the middle of the Whispering Sands


I could stay here for hours

The Whispering Sands of Bromo was amazing. It was a huge sea of sand and extremely quiet. Being a city girl, I couldn’t remember the last time I stood up in the middle of nowhere and my ears heard absolutely nothing. I thought maybe this was how it felt to be Matt Damon in The Martian. Alone in a huge desert. I could sit there for a few hours just to embrace the silence.

My next journey was Savannah. I came on the dry season, so it wasn’t as green as it usually does during the peak season. Still, the place was great to take photos!


Pardon my face, it was a little bit raining.


It was dry season so the scenery was not as flowery as usual, the guide said


We were allowed to climb the hill if we wanted to

After the Whispering Sands and Savannah, my last journey was to climb the Mount Bromo itself. I thought it was going to be more or less the same as the Mount Bromo that I visited years ago but I was wrong. The eruptions changed its look. To reach the top of the mountain, I had to walk through the sea of sand (not the Whispering Sands), bypassed the Hindu temple, and climbed up a set of stairs to reach the crater.


In front of the gate to the Mount Bromo


The Hindu Temple on the way to Mount Bromo


Near the climbing route




Here it is, the chilling stairs


The crater. My hubby took this photo while he was sitting too


There I was, at the top of Mount Bromo and all I could do was sit

The scenery was more or less the same as my previous experience until I had to climb the stairs. The stairs were chilling, ladies and gentlemen. And on top of it, I didn’t dare to stand up when I reached the crater opening because the ground was too rough and I was too afraid to fall to the crater. Yep, I have a fear of heights if I don’t use any safety tools. The stairs’ structure used to be neat, and the area around the crater opening used to be flat and clean.

I remembered my dad once said that back when he was a child (flashback to around 50 years ago), he was always mesmerised by the magical view of Mount Bromo. It used to had a pure-white sea of sand and was surrounded by stone walls that soared up above the sky. Imagine the Rocky Mountain but waaaay more beautiful.

The eruption gradually changed Mount Bromo since then, but I still think that it never loses its charm.

Earlier this September I and my husband decided to go on a road trip from our home in Jakarta to Bali because we were going to hold two events in the Island of Gods. It meant we had to stay quite long (about 3 weeks) and bring a lot of things. It turned out that one single car saved us a lot of money but costed us quite an energy. But it definitely was worth the journey.


I took the northern route (Pantura) from Jakarta to Bali and the southern route from Bali to Jakarta. I fully relied on Google Maps to guide us through from city to city until I finally arrived in Bali. These were the cities I passed (and visited some of them) during the journey:

Jakarta – Bali

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Jakarta (enter the Jakarta inner ring road) – Bekasi – Cikampek – Tol Cikopo-Palimanan (known as Cipali) – Tol Kanci-Pejagan – Tol Pejagan-Pemalang – (exit the toll road) Tegal – Pemalang – Pekalongan – Batang – Kendal – Semarang – Demak – Kudus – Pati – Rembang – Lasem – Tuban – Badad – Lamongan – Gresik – Surabaya – Sidoarjo – Bangil – Pasuruan – Probolinggo – Situbondo – Ketapang Port – Gilimanuk Port – Bali

On the way to Bali, some unexpected things happened and delayed the journey. I departed from Jakarta on August 30 at 12.30 pm and planned to stay for a night in Semarang (hotel – booked!). However, when I arrived in Batang area the traffic was so bad due to a fallen tree on the road and it was already around 10 pm so I had to stay for a night at a sketchy hotel around there.


Cipali toll road

I then continued the journey at around 7-8 am in the next morning to Surabaya and stayed in the city for a night as planned. My journey from Surabaya to Ketapang port was quite a challenge too. There was a celebration of the Independence Day of Indonesia in Probolinggo and Situbondo where people marched on the main streets while singing, dancing, and wearing costumes (seriously, I thought it was Jember Fashion Show since what they wore were similar) and it caused a very bad traffic jam because no police officers managed the traffic. I expected to arrive in Ketapang Port at around 4 pm but the reality was I arrived at 7 pm.


A view in Tuban

However, in Situbondo I passed through the access road of Baluran National Park and the view was so amazing! Trees were everywhere on the left and right sides of the road and soft warm rays of sunshine beaming through them while monkeys were sitting and walking everywhere. Simply mesmerising.
Back to the Ketapang Port, the trip from Ketapang Port to Gilimanuk Port was around 45 minutes and I didn’t know that it took about 4-5 hours from Gilimanuk Port to the city (Denpasar). The road from Gilimanuk to the city was total dark at night and there were too many trucks (and hubby was very exhausted as well) so I had to call it a night and stay at the nearest hotel I found (after maybe 2 hours of driving). Luckily, the hotel was okay this time. The next morning, it took around 2 hours of driving to get into the city.

Bali – Jakarta

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Bali – Gilimanuk Port – Ketapang Port – Banyuwangi – Genteng – Jember – Probolinggo – Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park – Pasuruan – Purworedjo – Lawang – Malang – Batu – Malang – Blitar – Tulungagung – Trenggalek – Ponorogo – Wonogiri – Klaten – Yogyakarta – Wates – Kebumen – Kebasen – Banjar – Ciamis – Tjiawi – Nagreg – Cicalengka – Tol Padaleunyi – Bandung – Tol Cipularang – Bekasi – Jakarta


Entering the Gilimanuk Port

I checked out from the hotel at 12 pm and went straight to Gilimanuk port. Apparently the view on the way to Gilimanuk was breathtaking in the afternoon. I don’t know why but Bali is filled with beautiful trees along the road. Approaching Gilimanuk Port, you will find scenic sea views on the left side.


Somewhere around Banyuwangi

When I arrived in Ketapang Port, I went further south to Banyuwangi and stayed there for a night. I actually was quite curious about Banyuwangi because people said its beaches were worth the visit. However, the beaches were quite far from the main road and I couldn’t stay for long in this city because I had a plan in Malang. So I continued the journey to Malang via Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park and headed to Malang and Batu for a few days and ended the trip as the written route above.

How was it?

  • Both the northern and southern routes have positive and negative sides. The northern route is more developed in terms of the road since there are a lot of big factories there. The road is huge and great but you have to race with trucks and buses along the way. It takes a lot of confidence to be able to cut off huge trucks and buses. The views are okay, either you see houses, factories, paddy fields, or sea. Meanwhile, the southern route is more laid-back. The road is narrower and sometimes a little bit rocky compared to the northern route but less trucks and buses. The views are more beautiful because you will pass through mountains, reservoirs, forests, paddy fields, and cities.
  • If you are not in a hurry, going for a road trip is worth the try. You can visit a lot of places on the way to your destination. Spare some times to explore each interesting city bit by bit.
  • Driving on your own means less communication with local people. I found myself knowing much better about the local culture when I travel using public transportation because I can interact with them anytime I want.


Aside from preparing your car and money for a long trip (of course that should be the number one on your to-do-list), these are things that you need to prepare based on my experience:

  • Playlist. I downloaded hundreds of songs from Spotify to accompany the journey. But it also was interesting enough to hear local radio stations when I entered the cities.
  • Fully charged power bank or USB charging station. You’re gonna need it to keep your GPS (read: smartphone) on.
  • Drinks to keep you dehydrated all the time. There are a lot of mini markets on the road.
  • Sunglasses.
  • Vitamin and medicine. A tiring long trip makes us more vulnerable to cold and fever.
  • Always have breakfast before you start the journey. Big or small, doesn’t matter.
  • Be amazed with your surroundings, because there are so many beautiful things to see and find out.
  • Try the local food and visit some cultural places whenever you have time. Make an effort to google some interesting places along the way.