Afar and Time Travel


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I find the beauty in the word “afar”, especially after I listen to Vance Joy song, “From Afar”. There is few word in this world that I think it just sounds great and reflect the meaning at it best. There is a beauty in reality of afar too, the distance.. to be far away from home, from the people that you love, from the people you familiar with, surely its difficult and hard. The moment when you hope they will be around but then you are all alone and you can only send “space-travel words” or “space-travel audio or video”.

But you will learn the most at the end of your comfort zone, and being afar from what you call it home or pieces of your heart also mean that you will commit yourself to learn a lot from it.

There are so many times that I always imagine if I could time travel myself and not only the words, audio, and video. It will be cool to master an ‘astral projection’ make my astral body travel to other part of the world, other timezone.

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But if finally I could time travel easily, will I appreciate being afar and my time more than before? When life gives you lemon, make a lemonade.. when life drag you being afar, make it fun!


Robson Square, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Pay It Forward

Before sunset at English Bay, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 

A strange non-fiction happen again in my travel journey, usually I call it ‘serendipity on the road’. This time happen in Toronto Pearson International Airport when me and JP, my classmate at Boston University, transit for our flight back from Vancouver to Boston.

We were so starving since we left Vancouver super early at 6.45am flight which make us have to be in the airport since 5am, no chance for breakfast. Not to mention, we were not sleeping that night since I have my friends from Vancouver coming over to our airbnb and talk the whole night.

First thing we look at whe we land in Toronto airport after all the immigration check: FOOOOD! We grab two largest pack of sushi in that restaurant in the airport and sit in the table. 5 minutes later, The waitress come to us and said, “There is one customer that want to pay for your meals. He said its from the fellow hiker to another fellow hiker.”

Us: “Hah? Who? Why? You kidding us!” The waitress left us super confuse but she is no joke. Why he think we are a hiker? Well, I am wearing my backpack with the MEC raincover in it but still, why? One more time she came to us after we request to know who is paying for us.

“So.. the gentleman said that he don’t want to mention his name or show you who he is but he just want to pay for your meals.” That left us still confuse and we ignore the waitress and keep continue eating our sushi and getting some snack and drinks.

In the end, the waitress only charge us for the drink and snack because the mysterious gentleman pay for our meals and I said to her, “Please say thank you to him and good luck for his entire life.” and then the waitress whispered to us, “Actually, its that gentleman behind you who paid for that.” and it left ask in this awkward moment. Should we come to see him, say thank you? or just pretend we don’t know him since we already say thank you through the waitress? Maybe he just prefer us to not knowing him but the waitress kind of reveal himself. We are too confuse and shy to come to this 60-ish man who I actually already assumed that its him since the waitress keep coming back to him. We left for toilet and when we were back, he’s gone already.

This make us reflect on how kindness has no name, you can pass it to anyone that you don’t even know. What we can conclude after what just happened to us is that we need to pay this forward, to whoever, kindness is a kindness. With or without name.

Thank you fellow hiker for giving such an interesting moment of our life.

The infamous “City of Rain” in Canada: Raincouver a.k.a Vancouverrr. This photo taken in East Van neighborhood inside JJ Bean coffeeshop

Coffee, Kopi, Kahawa

Some of the interesting book about coffee, tourism, for my thesis reference

I remember I wrote my bachelor degree thesis about Starbucks Coffee, and how the American Pop Culture image perceived by the consumers in the new opening Starbucks Paragon Mall Semarang that become a phenomenon at that time in 2010-2011. I love coffee since I was in school and my love for coffee has been transform into a new journey since this past 1.5 years, I have to thank Didi who contribute to this journey a lot, make me curious to keep learning about coffee and until I decided to write my thesis for my Master Degree, again, about coffee. When I share that I would like to do a research on developing “coffee tourism” in Flores, he mention about a rare coffee called “yellow caturra” somewhere in rural Flores and in the next hour I found out that its located in Bajawa. The locals used to call it “Kopi Kolombia”.


We can only connect the dot backwards, and its interesting to see how I coming back again to the world of coffee after my Starbucks research 6 years ago. I am so excited to start doing my research on the potential of developing Coffee Tourism in Bajawa, Flores that will also allow me to do a field research directly to Bajawa sometime this year before I finish school on August.

“Gara-gara kopi” — a serendipitous coffee journey bring us meet Pak Wathan, a coffee farmer in Sembalun, Lombok, Indonesia


As coffee become my interest lately, last week when we visited Tanzania, East Africa with a group of 36 Boston University students under the department course “Economic Development via Tourism in Developing World: Tanzania”, I sign up myself for a coffee tour or they called it “Kahawa Shamba” which in Swahili means coffee farm. I went to the two communities. The first one called Machame, the village near Mt. Kilimanjaro and the secondn one called Nkoaranga village near Mr. Meru. We learn about the local coffee making in Machame where they use traditional method to roast the coffee, grind the coffee, boiled in the hot water, and put it into the cup. In other hand, we visit the organic farms who manage by local farmer in Nkoaranga and drink the coffee from plunger, see the roasting process and their small little factory. The company who run this called “Wild Tracks” who own by Tanzanian-Norwegian couple. They also sell the beans directly and export it outside Tanzania.

Mr. Gideon, a humble local Tanzanian organic coffee farmer who cooperate with Wild Tracks
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Mama Stella, coordinator for our Machame Cultural Trip, trying to make the coffee with my Aeropress coffee maker that I bring to Tanzania


Meeting coffee farmers, visiting coffee farms, coffee roasters, or even coffeeshops has been my interest lately and I love learning from them. I would love to visit South America / Latin America specifically in Colombia, Guatemala, to learn about the coffee and coffee tourism that has been doing pretty good, and I hope one day, we can realize our dream to create one in Indonesia since we have so much potential on it.




With Hans (left) and Clyde (right) from “Happy Goat Coffee Co” in Ottawa who introduce me to George Howell coffee in Boston

Meeting George Howell in person and join his cupping session on Guatemala coffee

If any of you have a reference that I can use for my thesis or just in general about coffee and coffee tourism or coffee trail.. I will be more than happy to talk with you 🙂

Treat Mind Like Another Human Sense

I took the morning Zen Meditation class at 8 am instead of the afternoon once since I have a meeting in the afternoon. It’s interesting to take a morning class as it eventually will make our day fresh. Lately, I’ve been trying to be a morning person and sleep at the latest midnight (I know, sounds so not me :p). This practice has been going well since I am back from my winter break trip to Canada except I still find it hard to stay awake and still looking for the best activity to do after my very early wake up about Subuh prayer / sunrise time (suggestions are welcome!). Its easier if we have work/class in the morning, so that you have the responsibility to do that force you to not coming back to sleep.

Today in the class, our Zen Master Mark Houghton give us insight about how to treat mind (thinking) like we treat the other human senses such as nose (smell), ear (hear), eye (see), skin (touch), and tongue (taste). When we smell something good/bad, its the job of the nose to do it and we just let it do the job, without really think about it. When we see something, our eye just do the job.

But why, if something come to our mind, sometime we cannot control it and just see as if the mind do the job? Why we keep thinking about it too much? Do not invest too much on the things that always come up to our mind, treat it as the other human senses.




Perjalanan Antah Berantah

Packing pada malam itu juga, aku masukkan barang-barang yang bisa dibawa kesana dalam tas backpack andalanku, lebih banyak barang yang nantinya akan ditinggal daripada barangku sendiri yang akan dibawa pulang lagi. Kaos panjang, celana cargo atau bahan, botol air minum, dan sepatu sandal. Dimulailah perjalanan sepanjang malam, gelap dan jalanan yang tidak bagus dan rata. Biasanya aku selalu memilih kursi paling depan di dekat supir, merasa lebih aman dan nyaman, bisa berbincang juga dengan si bapak supir. Mereka pun biasanya semangat ngajak ngobrol, karena seringkali aku satu-satunya penumpang yang bukan berasal dari daerah ini, kebanyakan mereka sudah saling kenal dan hendak pulang ke rumahnya. Biasanya angkutan ini akan berhenti di tengah malam untuk istirahat, makan, atau sholat, atau jika kurang beruntung, karena mogok.

Begitu subuh tiba, sampailah aku di tempat yang jauh dari perkotaan ini. Tidak ada lampu jalanan di kala malam, nama jalan atau nomer rumah pun tidak ada, tapi aku tahu dimana harus berhenti. Terkadang bapak supir pun langsung bertanya, kemana tujuanku, tinggal menyebut nama, biasanya mereka sudah tahu dimana rumahnya. Belum juga aku turun dari kendaraan itu, sudah ada yang menyambut dengan wajah yang sumringah, berjalan sedikit berlari menghampiriku dan memeluk erat, terkadang sambil berteriak, membangunkan tetangga sebelah. Menyampaikan rasa rindu dan bahagia.

Malam ini sebuah pesan dari salah seorang di antah berantah itu menyapaku, menyampaikan kerinduan mereka dan seperti biasa menanyakan, kapan aku kesana lagi. Pesan ini membuatku rindu melakukan perjalanan-perjalanan yang sering aku lakukan ini semenjak 8 tahun yang lalu. Ke antah berantah yang telah menjadi rumah-rumah yang lain untukku, menemui orang-orang yang telah memiliki tempat di hatiku, yang mengajarkan akan ketulusan dan kesederhanaan hidup. Bahwa kebahagiaan itu tidak perlu dicari kemana-mana, dia ada dalam diri kita, di sekitar kita, sangat dekat dan sederhana. Mereka yang tidak pernah lelah menyapaku, pengingat terbaik yang menjadi salah satu alasan untuk pulang.

Satu hal yang ingin aku lakukan ketika suatu saat aku pulang nanti, mengunjungi mereka-mereka satu per satu dan melakukan perjalanan-perjalanan serupa ke antah berantah yang lain, mencari dan menemukan bentuk-bentuk kebahagiaan dan kesederhaan yang lain.


Photo by: Didi Guci. Location: Pos Plawangan, Taman Nasional Gunung Rinjani


Prayer vs Desire


One of the path at Point Pleasant Park in Halifax, Nova Scotia


This semester, I decided to take Zen Meditation class again with Mark Houghton at Fitrec Boston University (BU). What I like about my University is that we can take the PDP (Department of Physical Education and Dance) courses for free and we will have credit in our transcript, normally it is only 1 credit. There is no grade for it, it just PASS / FAILED and to be able to pass, you just need to attend the classes and have no more than 3 absents.  There are a lot of options at BU Fitrec from wall climbing, yoga, pilates, swimming, dance, badminton, volley, marathon training, basketball, and any other including Zen Meditation.

There is always an insight everytime I get out from the meditation class and from today, I would like to commit write that insight down right after the class so that I won’t forget.

Today, after the meditation practice, there is an interesting thought that Mark said in the class about prayer vs desire. I realize that most of the time when I pray, it is about asking something from God. It is about the desire that we want. Prayer is different. It is not supposed to be a selfish request from our self to God. Prayer is about hoping for the best to all the people who suffer in the world. God know what we want even before we think about it. We don’t have to ask or tell our God what we want because if you believe in God, you supposed to believe also in what the best your God will give to you.

Prayer is not a desire.

There is also one activity that we experiment as a group in the class in the end of the class about how our thoughts are always running around in our head. What we supposed to do with all those thoughts? We don’t need to invest in all the thoughts that running around in our head, we don’t need to feed all those thoughts, we should learn how to accept it and control that. That is what meditation practice will help us in accepting, meditation is not about discipline or concentration, it is about learning on acceptance.