Rushing and Struggling in Hectic Phoenix Ancient Town

The six-hour-journey (including toilet breaks) from Changsha, the capital of Hunan province in China and the birthplace of the late president Mao, to Phoenix (or Fenghuang) Ancient Town was not in vain.

The town built in the early 18th century, during the reign of Emperor Kangxi of Qing Dynasty, has very well-preserved architecture from that period, that nowadays incorporates shops offering souvenirs, traditional handicrafts, eateries, silverware, local delicacies, traditional costume rentals, fruit markets and many more. Including those situated by the Tuo river (Tuo Jia) banks, old bridges and wood-structured boats crossing the river. The Tujia and Miao minorities, who have been resided for generations, still maintain their tradition from both the appearance and the way of live.

Therefore, fantasizing myself being on the set of kung fu movies or part of the character in Chinese traditional paintings was no longer necessary when I was there. It succeeded bringing me to the flashback atmosphere, when the last dynasty of China before turning into a republic was still on a blaze of glory.

What a great way to start my first visit to China.

Its magnetic attraction, that continues to mesmerize visitors across the country and around the world, comes with a price, apart from the entrance fee. The ancient town becomes a land of abundant opportunities to make a living, resulting in fierce competition among entrepreneurs. Street vendors never leave visitors out of sight, greeting them with merchandise and service to sell before they know it. Including those who dilly dally on street.

The streets are so packed with visitors who come like an unstoppable deluge. Brushing one’s shoulder while walking down the street is almost inevitable, especially in narrow alleys. It is quite difficult to take pictures of your favourite spots without being bumped. The “say cheese” and “selfie” may fail or turn easily into a candid when uninvited guests (read: crowds) unexpectedly appear in the picture.

Since then, I finally found out that waiting for a perfect moment does not always guarantee success. So I did a little twist in immortalizing my travel moments to adapt with the situation: press that button, think later! Thus, some of these photographs are results of imperfections, when the intended message may turn into a different story.

No matter what happened, now I understand why the phoenixes that once flew over the town were reluctant to leave, that leads to the discovery of the pretty old town. Legend has it.

phoenix ancient town


Rain momentarily stops people from flooding the street. But it won’t last long. The further you walk, the more crowds you get.

black tofu china


I broke my “non- fried food consumption” daily regime for a day just for tasting the famous stinky tofu. The black colour and the fermented brine pungent smell didn’t stop me from trying. It actually tastes great, as the soy sauce is definitely the perfect match for the tofu. I just didn’t use the chili because I can’t take spicy food.

smoked meat


Yes, they look gruesome, yet edible. Smoking apparently is a popular way of preserving, cooking and flavoring food in Hunan province, from meat to tofu and bamboo shoots. The skinned pig face somehow reminds me of Texas Chain Massacre movie, but slightly better because it’s not a human face.



One of the added values to buy souvenirs is to watch the makers doing it traditionally.

trading buffalo horn works


Massage tools made of buffalo thorns are sold for RMB 5. Usually, the seller convinces future buyers by demonstrating a burning test and claiming those with reddish color have a better quality. I’m not sure how they matter for a better massage. I think it’s just another trick to lure the tourists. Other buffalo thorn handicrafts include (cigar) pipes, combs, hair accessories, etc. Something that animal right activists would hate.

chongde hall fenghuang ancient town


At Chongde Hall, floods of people is often hard to avoid. That what makes the boy looks like a ghost.

flower crown


Flower crown street vendors, from young to old women, are everywhere in town, selling their goods in competitive price for RMB 5. This old woman was tying up fresh flowers to the crown frame. Another particular item that Hunan villagers often bring (not only the vendors) is the “woven basket backpack” used for carrying just about anything, from merchandise, dirty clothes, groceries, to babies.

flower vendor in traditional costume


My mom and her friend asked me to take a picture of them. But, all of the sudden, this old lady appeared beside my mom’s friend, offering a flower crown. In that moment, I wasn’t ready yet with my camera. Seconds later, she realized that there was no hope for purchase from the two women. She finally walked away in front of my mom’s friend, regardless what I was doing. I still took my chance to press the button and think later for the result. Well, only my mom was captured in the picture and there was nothing I could do about it.



While capturing the crowded alley on the way to Chongde Hall, I got this woman instead. I think she represents the real tourist of Phoenix. She doesn’t only have a flower crown on her head, but also a backpack in the front part of her body as a sign of pick-pocketing awareness. She also makes a statement, “This! is My New (followed with an Apple logo) Phone”.

phoenix town hunan



Street photographers, who are surprisingly only women for this profession, were taking her clients who rented the Miao traditional costume to the famous view of Tuo river for a photo session. The woman with a gray jacket needed more patience until the photo session team left the scene, so her husband could take a picture of her properly.

tuo jia river


Nearly all inside these traditional houses are meant for commercial purposes, from restaurants, markets, handicrafts, to modern bars.


The most challenging way to cross the river. The concrete blocks fear certain people to walk on it.


The woman, wearing a traditional Miao costume, rushed to the shore after successfully crossed the river through the concrete block bridge without falling down.

fruit vendors


I’m not sure what the fruit vendors were running from. But for sure, I adore their strength and agility. The can effortlessly walk on a narrow bridge with heavy merchandise on both shoulders, even precede the crowds, who are still occupying the space.



The ancient town has a modern bar, too.

native lady seller


Selfie. A global trend, no matter what.


Hanging towels, a bra and socks outside indicates a daily life, besides a mess. Until today, the locals still wash their clothes manually in Tuo River.

crossbow shooting gallery


Silence means struggle when income depends on the traffic, like this crossbow shooting gallery.


Kegelgasse, Vienna: Where Hundertwasser’s Modern Art World Lives On


Vienna should thank its past rulers, musicians, painters, architects who have made the city rich in history, culture, and art. Schönbrunn Palace marks the glory of Habsburg Kingdom and the birthplace of Marie Antoinette. St. Stephen’s Church or Stephansdom is a prominent Gothic church in Austria. Mozarthaus is the apartment where Mozart wrote many of his masterpiece compositions.

The story behind those beautiful places fascinates millions of tourist worldwide that popularizes the Austria’s capital.

Nonetheless, the classics are not the only things to embrace in Vienna. At Kegelgasse, it treasures modern art in the form of unconventional architecture works by Friedensreich Hundertwasser: Hundertwasserhaus and Hundertwasser Village.

Hundertwasser (1928-2000) was an Austrian artist who at first gained popularity from his paintings. However, his architecture works he started in the early 50’s actually made him more well-known and become one of the most prominent artists in the 20th century, performed in particular way as seen on his paintings, using vibrant colours, rejection of straight lines and nature-oriented style.

It was my third time to visit Vienna, but my feet had not touched the ground of Hundertwasser’s property for some reason I cannot remember. Thus, I had to make it happen no matter what.


It was 5.10 pm. To catch the tram 1 to Hetzgasse, where the famous Kegelgasse is located, the tourist map redirected me to walk until the end of main shopping street, where I found all restaurants, cafes, ice cream parlours looked so tantalizing, most probably because my hunger was on its peak. Moreover, the pinkish cafe I passed by sold wiener schnitzel as their main menu. Yummy!

But thank God, the tram station was situated across the street from that pinkish cafe. The LED digital board mentioned that it would arrive within 2 minutes and it kept its promise. I hope I would be there before 6.



Seeing a tall building painted with graphic patterns of uneven squares in multiple colours, the vines on the wall façade, trees and bushes on rooftops, with the dome on top resembling a Russian Orthodox Church, there’s no way that I could be in the wrong place. Even if I didn’t hear the preliminary announcement inside the tram.

That unusual apartment building was so-called Hundertwasserhaus, situated on Kegelgasse 34-38, designed and constructed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser, together with Joseph Krawina and Peter Pelikan, from 1983 to 1985.

Although Hundertwasserhaus succeeds to reveal originality and peculiar beauty that draws attention to many visitors worldwide, the discrepancy of the unique landmark remains: the inside of the apartment is not accessible for public viewing.

facade of Hundertwasser Village

Then, he refurbished a car tire factory on Kegelgasse 37-39 to let visitors enjoy his interior design, situated in the opposite side of Hundertwasserhaus, under the approval of its owner Klaus Kalke, into Hundertwasser Village from 1990 to 1991. He placed the “Kalke Village” sign next to the main entrance to honor the factory owner.

Hundertwasser Village is not purely a village with inhabitants living permanently. It actually incorporates cafes, fast food parlours, souvenir, art and museum shops under one roof. I was lucky enough to manage to get in at 5.45 pm, a quarter minutes before closing time, when most crowds already left the site. Some stores had their rolling door pulled down to mark the end of the operational hours on that day.

the cafe at hundertwasser village

At a glance, the modern art village is heavily-targeted for tourists and art lovers who want to chill out and do some (souvenir) shopping, while feeling the “presence” of Hundertwasser through the cutting-edge ambiance he created.

Though I failed to have a dining experience at the café, I guess I didn’t miss much since they do not serve signature dishes. There’s nothing particular at the souvenir shops either as I can get key chains, fridge magnets, postcards, tote bags with “Vienna” inscription elsewhere (may be for less). At the museum shops, however, they have more than just Hundertwasser related merchandise. The options of Klimt, Schiele, Mozart and Sisi are also available.

Regardless what they sell, I think they have done a pretty good job at combining cheapo and artsy goods simultaneously in attractive visual merchandising.

two-storey artshop

No two people (artists) are the same, yet Hundertwasser’s interior somehow reminds me of Spain’s Gaudí. Cobblestone, squared tiles (some are irregularly cut), mosaic and bricks mingle harmoniously on the surface of the bar table, pathways, staircases and certain parts of the wall, combined with monochromatic colours as a balancing element of vivid colours presented in the design.

hundertwasser village interior

Vines, trees and bushes appearance in certain spots, including on the balcony above the main entrance sign, confirm that nature is part of the fundamental design of Hundertwasser. Some trees located on the higher level even touch the ceiling and turn sideways to adjust the space they live in.

staircase and trees

mozaic walls

The stair-shaped natural stone fountain is not something to overlook as well, I personally love the soft shades of pastel colour lighting coming out of it.



Most of the time, I avoid prepaid toilets in Europe whenever possible. However, I was glad I wasn’t too thrifty to insert €0.60 into the machine for the Toilet of Modern Art entrance fee. Hundertwasser is the master of surprises – It’s a mosaic-domination toilet and the most quirky and coolest place for “nature calls” design I’ve ever seen in my life!

toilet of modern art

toilet alley

ladies toilet

In a nutshell, the existence of both Hundertwasserhaus and Hundertwasser Village (also Kunst Haus Wien, not far from Kegelgasse, another Hunderwasser’s architectural work that houses his painting collections) is like a modern oasis in a big city surrounded by the renaissances, the rococos, the baroques, the gothics and many more old-fashioned eras. His works are indeed refreshing and awakening my senses, suggesting that differences are beautiful and there’s nothing to be a shame of.

Never mind the banality of food, drink and souvenir varieties, it’s not really the purpose of the visit. I was happy enough to get a €1 iPad-sized postcard of Hundertwasserhaus, after all.

As soon as I left the unconventional art village at 6 pm, I did what I desperately needed to do: eat! And the signature Viennese dish, wiener schnitzel, at the pinkish café would be my choice for the evening.

10 Practical Beauty Products for Travelling I Can’t Live Without

Welcome 2015 (Okay, that sound kinda too late to say ;p)! This is my writing debut about beauty. I didn’t mean to be inconsistent with travel as my main subject. However, I notice that I take the longest time to pack beauty products into my luggage. Why?

I like to travel light and be practical during the trip, but I never leave beauty products (referring to face, body and hair care) behind. I do not wish to have chapped lips, rough, premature skin aging and bad hair day during and after my wonderful journey around the world. Too bad, toiletries from the hotel are not sufficient for my needs and beauty products often cause (luggage) overweight, especially many of them are made of liquid. Liquids are always heavy!

Therefore, I put them in small containers as needed, depending on the product and the length of my trip, and bring multi-purpose products to alter the regular ones if possible. Please note that I seldom buy travel-sized skin care and do not always depend on one brand – but it works on me anyways.

So here are my favourite beauty products for travelling:

1. Dr. Bronner’s Organic Hand and Body Shikakai Soap

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This product is not just an ordinary hand and body soap. It also works as a face cleanser, body soap, shampoo, and made of certified organic ingredients, which generally means it is very save for your skin. The lemon grass lime scent I have is refreshing and energizing without smelling like an artificial perfume. What could be more practical than this?

2. Lush R&B Hair Moisturizer 

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I’m not so much into 2 in 1 shampoo as its conditioner usually doesn’t moisturize my hair that well. Therefore, I find this leave-in conditioner saves my time from “rinsing after applying” routine and I no longer need hair serum for less frizzy effect. Apply a finger tip-sized of the creme and massage onto hair. Do not apply too much as it leaves sticky and heavy texture later on. Besides, any hair conditioner can be used as an alternative shaving cream. However, I’d rather use one provided from the hotel for that (if any).

3. Inti Bali Rose Water 

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Made of Bulgarian rose extract, it is hydrating, non-alcohol and can be used on top of make-up to make it last longer. I also use it as a toner. Compared with other brands, sometimes in skyrocketed price, Inti Bali is much more affordable. Since it has no preservatives, I suggest to bring it only as needed, instead of the whole bottle, and keep the rest in your fridge at home.

4. MooGoo Anti-Ageing Face Cream 

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I truly fall in love with this product! The non-chemical formula powered by resveratrol, an antioxidant compound found in red grapes, makes my skin smoother and more subtle after a couple of months of use. The SPF 15 version of this product is also available.

5. Olive Oil

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After a long day exploring places of attractions, a few drops of olive oil can remove dirt, make-up and sunblock. Leave it for 10 minutes to maintain the moisture of your skin (but you can skip this part by rinsing it with cleanser afterwards). I carry the oil with a food-grade bottle, so I can use it as a salad dressing too (I like buying salad from supermarkets as part of my breakfast routine).

I once used the all-in-one no-rinse formula, but I miss the sensation of water splash on my face despite its goodness. Thus, I’ll still go for olive oil.

6. Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover

maybelline clean express
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Although olive oil can remove makeup, I still bring waterproof eye make-up remover in a smaller container just in case I still need it to remove my mascara. I’m not really specific about the chosen brand, but Maybelline Clean Express! Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover is the one I’m using at the moment.

7.  MooGoo Rose Hip Oil Serum 

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As part of my anti-ageing routine (too bad I need it), I use serum every night before moisturizer to help reducing the appearance of fine lines on face and eyes. Again, I choose this product for its certified organic ingredients.

8. L’Occitane Organic Shea Butter

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I first tried L’Occitane Shea Butter in winter time when the tip of my nose and lips chapped. My lips and nose got smoother in minutes, it doesn’t dry up in dry air and save for all parts of body that need more moisture. I depend on it ever since regardless the weather. Although I’m basically experimental with other brands, I eventually return to this. Its non-oily texture also enhances and prolongs the colour of your lipstick.

Just a friendly advice, add a small amount of the butter to your body or face lotion for more moisturizing effect. Familiar with any cream containing 10% or 20% shea butter in it? Indeed, you can make it yourself as well!

9. SPF Body Lotion 

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In order not to forget using sunblock, I use a body lotion with SPF. Vaseline Aloe Fresh SPF 15 and Nivea Intensive Serum SPF 25 are two major brands easily accessible in the market in less than $8. I’m not into any whitening lotion as I don’t feel the (improved) effect on my skin and I think it’s basically just chemicals you don’t need.  Alternatively, suppose you are an organic freak and don’t mind paying more for it, you can try MooGoo Cover Up Buttercup SPF 15, which is save for both face and body.

10. Face and Body Sunblock

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It is recommended to re-apply your sunblock although you’ve done it first day in the morning. For the sake of practicality, I’ll go for any non-sticky sunblock for face and body, for instance Tony Moly Powder Finish Sun Milk SPF 47. However, if you are looking for a face sunblock which is save for eye area and can be used as a primer, I recommend Clinique City Block SPF 25. I like the skin-coloured cream (not white) that feels like an extremely light CC Cream.

Well, that’s a glimpse of the content of my suitcase I can share with you. I hope it inspires you to travel light without leaving your daily (beauty) routine. Have a great travel!

Tasting Jokowi’s Favourite Dish: Don’t Ask Too Much, Act Like a Pro!


Since my sister and I like mutton, Mr. Efrat, our driver slash history teller, recommended us to try one of president Joko Widodo’s (Jokowi) favourite dishes when he was a mayor in Solo: tengkleng at the warung, or stall, called “Tengkleng Klewer Bu Edi”. 

Although I was born and raised in Indonesia, tengkleng became my new vocabulary on that day. All I remembered that it is mutton soup and the price is right, meaning that they never scam you. Fair enough.

“Eat first, shop later.” He warned us when he dropped off us at Pasar Klewer, a famous traditional market in Solo. The main reason behind the warning was not because we almost fainted for famine.

The stall opens at 1 pm and they usually run out of stock very quickly, within 2 to 3 hours. My watch showed that it was already 1.30 pm.

 tengkleng solo
busy, busy, busy


A bunch of middle-aged moms clustered around the warung situated right under the arch of Pasar Klewer as we got there. The queue looked more like fences surrounding the house that no one could see the products they sold.

I was aware that comfort is not something essential from a warung, but there were a few things I found quite a wonder. The less than 5-square-metered stall only had 3 long benches without tables. Selling soup-based rice dish, it was served with a very modest dining ware. As a substitute of a bowl, they used a brown paper with thin plastic inner lining, doubled with banana leaf on top to avoid leakage, and a plastic spoon. Just the same way as you get one to go.

tengkleng solo
modest and biodegradable bowl: paper and leaf

Despite its simplicity, they unconsciously “go green” (in this case, plastic spoons not included) in particular way. It saves water and detergent since there is no need to wash any dishes, except giant pots to place the tengkleng and soup spoons to pour the dish. Moreover, banana leaf and brown paper are biodegradable in nature.


I was completely a newbie and clueless about all the strange look organs in giant pots. Mostly, they looked bony with a little leftover meat (or whatever it is) attached, some sheen and chewy parts that could be anything but meat: cartilage? tendon? eyeballs? Or mention any glossary from your anatomy class for a lucky guess.

Nonetheless, the moms seemed to know everything by heart and easily pointed organs they wanted in their “bowl”.

tengkleng solo
a closer look at the food

Squeezing among the hungry moms until I got my turn, I took my chances to take pictures of the busy activity and zoomed in the exotic organs, to share with you all in my post, until the soup accidentally splashed on my filter (luckily not the lens!).

When my turn came, I asked how to order the food. I looked stupid, but I didn’t care.

“Do you still have the meat?”

“No meat.” she replied. Her eyes looked down, her right hand was moving fast pouring rice, the organs and finally the soup. I pointed one organ in the pot and asked her what it was, but then I realized that it wasn’t the right time to do after she answered impatiently, implying an indirect expression of “you should have known that”. Thus, I picked what I thought would be good, like skewed intestines and other parts that looked meaty.

Forget about hospitality from a crowded stall like that. Anyways, there is no service charge and VAT.

tengkleng solo
that’s a wrap!

It challenged my skills to hold the folded paper bowl with one hand, while the other hand peeled off (leftover) meat from the bones and held the spoon to scoop rice and soup interchangeably. No wonder why those hungry moms would rather have it to go. I threw the bones away into the bucket next to the bench functioning as a garbage bin.

A blend of unique spices, a family secret recipe for generations, and savoury flavour coming from boiling bones and fat for hours, resulted in distinctive taste of juice mutton broth I wouldn’t get anywhere else. It was mouthwatering, literally and mentally. The soup was the key of its fame.

To dine in, wearing light-coloured clothing is not recommended, as the turmeric based-soup could be a very stubborn stain to remove. Bring wet tissue or get some bottled water to wash hands (besides to drink).

eating tengkleng solo
happy family – hey, how did the kid get the bowl? that’s convenient!


When my sister paid for the drinks from a different vendor whose counter was attached to the warungI came to the vendor lady to pay our food.

“Eighty thousand rupiah.” she said.

I paused. “For two?”

“Yes, for two.”

I gave an exact amount of bank note of eighty thousand rupiah (Rp. 80.000, or $7) without questioning.

My sis and I both agree that it was not as cheap as we thought it would be.

Mr. Efrat himself was surprised that 2 portions could cost eighty thousand rupiah. A couple of month ago, it was only twenty thousand rupiah (Rp. 20.000) per portion (about $1.50). He wondered if the price could rise that much in two months.

He subtly shook his head and finally concluded, “I think they just cheated on you. I’m so shock they did. I’ve brought a lot of my customers there and nobody complained. I guess I should return to that place to investigate and warn my future customers.”

The stall that never scam people just scammed us. If it wasn’t a bad luck, then what?

My sis thought that I stood out among other customers with a big camera hanging on my neck and obviously took several pictures of their place. She said I was too daring (still, i’m nothing compared to the paparazzi) to do that. Moreover, I asked too many questions. May be it provoked the bitches to make use of the situation to get more luck from someone not from the neighbourhood.

C’mon, what would you react in the first place you’re not familiar with how things work? You ask, don’t you?

Oh, wait. I remember they whispered to each other before replying my question about the total price. Ah, I should have noticed those mimics, those gestures. Nasty bitches!!

Though it didn’t leave us broke and penniless, I won’t go back there ever again. Bone soup without proper meat has never been my favourite, and being scammed is indeed everyone’s least favourite.

Oh well, scam is just part of the risks of being a total stranger. At least I have a story with thrilling climax to bring home and to publish online.

Sometimes you need to act as if you knew everything, even if you don’t know anything. Don’t ask too much, act like a pro!

The Jaywalker

A trailer parked on the side of the street. A bunch of people were busy with setting up cameras and lighting and actors I don’t know their names for a film shooting session. It caught my attention in the beginning as I was walking down the street. But not for long.

Outside the shooting area, there was a man in a hat and a trench coat walking comfortably until he reached in front of the zebra cross. He paused, noticing that the pedestrian signal was in red. Although it only took four (big) steps away to the other side of the street. A law-abiding citizen he was.

Until he changed his mind seconds later.

His stretched his leg to step on the first white line of the zebra cross when the red signal had not changed yet into green. Oh well, I probably would do the same if I were he.

Nope. He's the crew member of the film shooting, not the jaywalker
Nope. He’s the crew member of the film shooting, not the jaywalker

However, he didn’t succeed making his second step as a police officer suddenly asked him to step back from where he stood. The man looked surprised. So did I. The officer was like Superman – without the signature outfit and muscular body – appearing in time out of the blue.

The law enforcement member unintentionally blocked half of my sight of his face. Moreover, since he turned his back from me to face his law-breaker, I couldn’t see his face at all. I was too far to hear their conversation and to read the French lip-sync. However, I would like to satisfy my curiosity about what would happen next, so I stayed a little longer to observe both gentlemen.

The conversation started when the officer pointed his finger to the red signal. The law-breaker shrugged his shoulders with his palms opened facing upwards. He raised his eyebrows, his lips moved fast, trying to explain why he did what he did without being defensive. He ended his words by faintly shaking his head.

The officer took his turn to reply. The former law-abiding citizen fixed his eye gaze to him and nodded attentively. The conversation kept flowing and it felt like watching a non-subtitled silent movie in Technicolor. I had no idea what they were talking about, yet I could sense the less tension between two men after a while. Furthermore, he didn’t take anything out from his pocket, like a piece of paper or pen.

I was neither cursing the man to get sentenced nor questioning the officer’s authority. I was just expecting a climax, like truTV fighting scenes, or at least, an intense argument. Thus I didn’t stand and tremble in coldness in vain.

The conversation I couldn’t hear started to bore me. I was about to leave the scene.

Oh, wait. The red (pedestrian signal) suddenly turned green. The man was aware of that. He quickly looked at it and his body faintly moved forward to make his first move before it turned red once again. But he kept himself on a short leash. A moment later, he raised his right foot with the heel still on the ground. Yet he put it back with no further action.

Nonetheless, the police officer was still carried away with his storytelling. I wasn’t sure whether he was lecturing about the danger of jaywalking or telling about his new-born granddaughter. Regardless, the trench-coated man was reluctant to interrupt no matter what.

Later on, the officer noticed a glimpse of restrained impatient gesture from the man’s side and finally realized that signal was green. I saw his upper arm slightly swung back and forth from behind. Just a lucky guess, if viewed from the front side, probably he was actually raising his index finger and waving it a couple of times towards the law-breaker, to remind him not to do the same mistake ever again.

The man nodded, giving a sign of full understanding. The officer had no longer reason to hold him from crossing the street. He expanded his left arm, giving the man a permission to do what he had wanted to do in the first place. He didn’t ticket the man at all and simply let him go.

After that, both of them walked separately from their accidental meeting point. I left the scene for catching my dinner.

Despite not knowing each other, we shared something in common. None of us considered the shooting session as a point of interest on that day.


Yogyakarta: Candids

Seldom do I take pictures of people while travelling. I’m just reluctant to trespass other people’s privacy and too shy to ask their permission to pose for me. However, I challenged myself to leave my comfort zone, to capture more people apart from buildings and landscapes. I was glad that I didn’t really have to talk too much to capture them, phew!

creating batik

Preserving Legacy (Hery’s Batik Art Center)

Financed by the Sultanate of Yogyakarta, at Hery’s Batik Art Centre, local and foreign visitors are welcome to learn the art of batik for free to preserve the nation’s legacy. The profit from the batik painting sales are allocated for local community who are in needs. A great example of what powerful people should do, especially the nation is getting sick of corruption cases done by government officials.

black bride and groom

Whatever you say, honey…. (Taman Sari)

Pre-wedding pictures has been a must for young couples in Indonesia to immortalize the moment before d-day itself, where chosen pictures will be displayed in the wedding venue. I’m particularly interested in the black bride since black is an unconventional color for bridal gowns. Older generation often associated it with something evil or a bad choice for a long lasting marriage.

Nonetheless, she doesn’t think that way. I believe she orchestrates everything, from the location, chosen gown until styling. On the other hand, her future husband leaves all decisions in her hand.

black bride and groom

Look at the camera, not her! (Taman Sari)

My presence seems to make the future groom nervous and lost his concentration. Suppose she warns him not to look at me, it wouldn’t be about jealousy. Wrong poses prolong the photo session. The sooner it finishes the better it would be as the heat at noon starts to be unbearable.

pre-wed session

Spectacular Skirt (Taman Sari)

Look at the skirt, what an elegance! No further comments!

kids at taman sari

The Kids (Taman Sari)

Once a man-made lake, the alley now turns into a settlement. I find the batik graffiti beautiful. However, the village kids keeps running around and don’t seem to care with what I’m trying capture. In the end, they become the limelight in my picture instead of the graffiti.

for gaza

Peace, Please! (Presidential Palace)

University students’ protest for the endless turmoil in Gaza, especially the recent catastrophic acts by the Israelis against the Palestinians.


Racing with Modernism (Malioboro)

Traditional and modern vehicles often mingle on streets, boulevards, and highways Indonesia, including Yogyakarta. In many cases, the mingle contributes traffic jams in peak hours. When the street is less occupied, they look deliberately side by side to compete on a race track. Although modern vehicles give more comfort and ease, some traditional vehicles are irreplaceable and still widely used in daily life.

dancing at malioboro

Night Entertainment (Malioboro)

Every night, a group of musician at Malioboro performs a blend of traditional and modern music, like disco dangdut, with disco beats background from a cheap sound systemto entertain shoppers and pedestrians. I find it hard to differentiate between one song to another as the beats sound alike.

The real entertainment, however, is actually when shoppers participate voluntarily with funny and silly dancing moves to merry the night. The lady on the left laughs at her friend who dares to do it barefoot. As a reward from her spontaneous performance, she gets some amount of money from the musician.


Lesehan (Malioboro)

Lesehan, that could be described as a dining activity on a carpet instead of on a chair, is an iconic dining experience in Yogyakarta, although there are many more lesehan restaurants in other cities in Indonesia. It’s nothing new for me, actually.

What attracts me the most is the black chihuahua in his (or her) Harley Davidson vest on the right side, next to the blue-sleeved guy, eating a piece of chicken in coconut milk (ayam opor). Nonetheless, I’m very much aware that the picture doesn’t represent my chosen subject.

Instead, it indirectly reflects my shyness in candid photography. I was too reluctant to ask the owner’s dog to capture his pet. Thus, what I got is only a group of young people doing lesehan. After all, human beings are not the only ones who can enjoy the traditional dining activity.


The Ghost (Satan) Rider (in front of Whizz Hotel Malioboro)

This old man always parks his rickshaw beside a shop called “Satan Cell” that sells mobile phone reload cards and some groceries. I find the store name hilarious for a country where a religion has an important role as part of one’s identity. Is Satan his guardian angel? Or his luck mostly comes from “the Satans” (read: Satan Cell customers)?

I did my challenge already, so that’s all for now. May be, next time I should try harder to push my reluctance aside.