Tag Archives: writing101

Serially Lost (1): The School Gang

We’ve gained a lot and lost a lot in our lives. While gaining something is always associated with achievement, losing is something we usually refrain from discussion at the dinner table. So how would you discuss something that you’ve lost without feeling gloomy or embarrassed? It’s a challenge I hope to answer in 3 posts. Now let me show you a picture:


This picture was taken on the last day of the National Examination. We had 41 people in our class (two were not seen here) and Mrs. Haryati was the teacher responsible to oversee our progress. Studying together for 2 years under huge pressure from Maths and Science classes really bonded us as friends (even gangs). Some were notorious for being troublemakers at school, but they always treated their own classmates as their own brothers and sisters. I even felt protected by them from the bullies outside the school premise.

Much has changed after 21 years. Six people went on to become doctors, one became a pilot, another is now an Army officer, and countless friends are now corporate employees of all sorts. Some of the girls resigned from the career ladder and took a wise step to become mothers. I myself am now a teacher. Sadly, two of our friends have passed away: one was still in the university, and the other after delivering her baby.

It’s always wonderful to see them again in reunions; seeing how they’ve grown, raise families, reminisce the past, and talk about the future. Here’s the latest picture taken during our last reunion:


Cheers to another reunion in 20 years time! 😀

#Writing101: The (In)Comparable Jogja

Whenever I visit a new country, I often have a somewhat strange habit of trying to find a local town which can connect me back to a place I always call a second home and, thus, can make me feel at ease: Jogja. The temporary capital city of Indonesia during the Independence Struggle from the Dutch after WW2 offers a harmony of the royal heritage with the touch of modernity, plus a vibrant student community.

But I’ve never been out of Asia so I’m sure there are lots of other places to compare to. These are just some examples:

Kyoto, Japan

The first time I set foot in Kyoto was back in the 90s. I stepped out of the train station and soon was transported back to the Empire and Bushido eras where the shrines dotted every town and people celebrated the festivities in colorful kimonos. Kyoto has changed its cosmetics, but the ancient soul still lies within the ancient temples and people’s hearts.

Siem Reap

Ah, Angkor Wat. The city of temples are within easy reach from downtown Siem Reap and you can roam around the streets in tuktuks, bicycles, or even on foot while admiring the grandeur. And don’t forget the Pub Street where you can have cheap Cambodian beer and comforting foot massage. Life is sweet in Indochina.

Melaka, Malaysia

Just under 2 hours from the capital Kuala Lumpur, Melaka offers the chance to cruise the river and admire the colonial architectures and the Chinatown, all within walking distance. Tired after visiting the churches and Portuguese ruins, you can head to Jonker Street in the evening to party at the local bars. Yeah baby!

Many places can make me feel like home, but nothing really compares to home: the rickshaws, the street snacks, the ambience, the warmth, and the people. Most travelers can easily immerse in the local culture and often forget where they come from, but I’m a guy who will miss Nasi Goreng on the third day of the journey and have a lump in my throat when calling Mum.

Would that make me qualify as a traveler, at all?