September 2020

My colleague started a running challenge to be achieved as a team and it has inspired me to run. The last time I ran as a form of exercise was, well, never. I used the app NikeRun and have clocked in 70km this month. I am targeting 100km next month.

I celebrated my first (and hopefully last in this lifetime!) ISO birthday together with Fafa, Jik, and my parents on Zoom. It was a memorable birthday; it reminded me that I have infinity things to be grateful for.

Every Friday evening, I take out the watercolor set I got myself for my birthday and pour a generous amount of of rose to my tea mug, and practice gouache for fun. it has been great work week stress releasing outlet.

New and Loving

ISO September turned out to be my busiest month this year, which means I had to put the cooking on the back burner (pun intended).

In the first couple of weeks, I resorted back between UberEats, sending Fafa to do Indonesian food pick-up, and going to Hecho Mehico to collect my triple order of $5 prawn chorizo tapas. Though I have been eating delicious food (definitely better than my home cooking), I can see the hit on both the weighing machine and ISO-savings acc, so I thought why not try those ready-made meals subscription. I don’t believe the 20s-yo me had envisioned the 30s-yo me standing in front of a microwave waiting for my food to be done daily. But here we are. YouFoodz has been great — except that one time when they rang the doorbell to deliver the food at 3.30 AM.

This month I also drank a copious amount of tea from Tea Tonic, shifted to oat milk, have been using Neutrogena body oil excessively,

Internet

I published three posts. I must say, for someone who almost retires the blog, it feels like a mini accomplishment. I wrote about food, obviously – stroopwafel and Tahu Gejrot and interviewed Neera, a blogger who I met at a blogging conference last year.

I also resurrected my KodakKween IG account, so I can post my side passion for film photography all willy nilly without making it culture-y or artsy.

Read

My read numbers have been running behind on Goodreads 2020 List, so I tried to catch up this month.

At the start of the month, I read and loved a thriller His and Hers by Alice Feeney.

I also finished my first ever fiction audiobook, The Secret She Keeps (free to download) by an Australian author, Michael Robotham. It’s the Avid Reader online book club choice for October. “It started good but finish off meh“, will be my feedback during the zoom sesh.

On nonfiction section I read: Don’t Be a B*tch, Be an Alpha by Seo Kelleher (read and loved), I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron (currently reading), The New Diary (presently reading, loving and kicking myself for not reading it earlier – the book was published in 1978), The Power of Tarot by Liz Worth (currently reading), You Are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero (reading this almost immediately after You Are a Badass), Reading the Leaves (currently reading and savoring), Pilgrimage in Japan by Lauren Hines (read and mega loved because it was published in diary/blog format).

Media

TV – I watched a few horror movies this month. Starting with The Boy II, The Grudge, The Wretched The Pyramid (really liked this one), As Above So Below, and Room for Rent (the best!). These movies sent me into a rabbit hole of the horror-movies-explained rabbit hole on Youtube. There, I discovered FoundFlix. It’s a horror movie commentary channel. I also watched and loved Away, #Alive, Criminal UK season 2, and American Murder on Netflix.

Podcast – my current favourite, which might surprise you since it’s not another true crime, the Wildy Tarot Podcast. The girls in it recommended the Power of Tarot book above.

Alice Feeney – I have been playing On brulera by Pomme on repeat on Spotify. I accidentally heard and immediately loved it when it’s played on an ending scene on one of the episodes in AWAY.

Last Time

Last year this time, I was living my best life traveling around Scandanavia with my best friend. During which I wrote about Rijsttafel-ing Indonesian Food in Amsterdam and said Hi from Bergen.

Thank You, Next!

The seven million Victorians are looking forward to being freed from lockdown in October. That is if the 14-day average for the new cases continues to drop etcetera.

Meanwhile, Fafa and are also going to celebrate our wedding anniversary with dinner-date at Yagiz and a staycation in Meletos.

There are more than a few good things to look forward to, I guess.

On the opposite side, I am sitting for CPA exam mid next month. All I can say about that is GAH!!!! But I am going to try to stay positive while still operating with a come-what-way attitude, which has been serving me well this month. I am also worried that I might experience the case of lockdown nostalgia.

But that’s for me to be worried about, next month.

Ten of Swords Trip Back Home

I think I experienced hell recently by sitting on a window seat in a plane for 12 hours without standing nor sleeping on my way back from Amsterdam to Melbourne. The only good thing about the flight was the Indonesian food (written in Bahasa Indonesia) on the in-flight menu: ikan bakar madu – honey glazed bbq fish.

Thankfully I had a stopover in Singapore.

I stretched my legs, had a quick meal (it was breakfast or lunch or dinner depends on which time I referred to) with my cousin, who was going home to Jakarta. I spent the rest of my hour at the airport in the bookstore where I bought a book about the city I once called home before boarding another plane that would take me to Melbourne.

This time, I requested an aisle seat, which I usually dislike because of all the disruptions, but I thought it would be better for me if I still felt like stretching. Weirdly, I slept off the minute the plan went up in the sky and only got woken up the next day when they served the in-flight meal (which I too wasn’t sure whether it was breakfast, lunch or dinner).

A smooth immigration process and $83 taxi ride later, I was finally home.

Denmark Copenhagen Food Tour

Last Day in Denmark: Danish Pastries and Danish Paperback

We started today by loading up on delicious Danish pastries at the famous La Glaze. Thankfully, it managed to soak up the leftover alcohol in my system, while the cappuccino helped diminish the hangover traces. With it, I was ready to enjoy my last day in Denmark.

After some reflect-and-pray time inside the beautiful Church of Our Lady, we went on to join our walking food tour group. I am happy to report that my last hours in Copenhagen were filled with good food, strong drinks, interesting people, and fun facts. Soon after we rushed back to the hotel to check out and leave for Amsterdam; unfortunately, it meant I didn’t get to go to any bookstore in Denmark, which was a bummer as going to the bookstore is one of the must-dos on my travel check-list.

Hey to think about it, now that we have checked it and all, maybe there is a bookstore in this airport! All right guys, gtg, I am off to buy Miek Wieking latest book, The Art of Making Memories. It would be great if I can score the (English version) book here, in the land of Danish itself. Wish me luck!

Ps. I got the book! I am going to read on the plane to Amsterdam. Super delighted!

Pps. I also got a few other souvenirs. Mostly for myself. #keepingitreal

The English Bookshop in Stockholm

While waiting for my friend Jena to turn up for our dinner date in Stockholm, I roamed around the Södermannag neighbourhood all myself by while the girls rested in the hotel.

A couple of random turns from the main street, to my delight, I stumbled upon The English Bookshop. After confirming with Jena on her ETA, I took a deep breath, turned the door handle, and went inside.

The English Bookshop is a quaint title bookstore. It’s made of two rooms, separated by walls and connected with a hole where a door used to be. Maybe it used to be a residential house?

The lighting and decoration were hyggelig, I thought, as I planned to bring Jik there the next day.

The collection of books pretty extensive, from Scandinavian cooking books to Social Justice. I could feel myself getting recharged just by being there.

Indie bookstore is my amethyst.

The English Bookshop in Stockholm reminded me of The Paperback Bookstore we have back in Melbourne Equally small, thought this one was airier. From the constant conversation between the store clerk/owner and the people who came into the store, I assumed it’s a local favorite.

I ended up spending more time than I set for myself and making me late for my appointment with Jena. When I realized it, I quickly made a beeline to the cashier while forcing myself not to buy the super cute Harry Potter totes used to decorate the bookstore. After paying for the three books, I picked up — Swedish Traditions, Scandinavian Culture, and Don’t Be A Nordic — I bid the bookstore goodbye and made me why to the train station where I’d be meeting Jena.

Whenever I reminiscence back on my Scandinavia trip, Sweden moments topped it, with the English Bookshop being one of it. I am sure I will visit again and again in the future.

Hej from Blique by Nobis Stockholm

The height of comfort

We reached Stockholm a few hours ago and for some reason, I am knackered. We dropped our luggage, walked around the block, and had lunch at Waan Thai. They offered a lunch deal and it was good enough to satiate our forever carving for Asian food anywhere we go.

Sarie and Jik decided to venture around, meanwhile, I walked back to the hotel. I needed some RR alone before getting ready to meet Jena for an early dinner in a few hours.

So here I am, not able to sleep, writing from the hotel lobby. This hotel, Blique by Nobis, is impressive. It’s beautiful and hip at the same time. And they are pretty affordable, I mean by the Scandinavian standard. 

Norwegian Brown Cheese Memoir

Hilsen fra Bergen!

Is it weird that even now — sitting here in the hotel lobby with these two girls, treating ourselves with a spread of Norway traditional breakfast, daring each other to eat weird coloured cheese and uncooked herring fish bits — I know that I will cherish this moment forever. It will be competing with Norway Fjords and eating whale sashimi as the highlight of my Norway trip.

I am blessed. May I never forget that.

Hallo uit Amsterdam

Thirty-six hours later, we finally reached Amsterdam. Schiphol airport looked lovely in the morning. After showing our bleary faces to the immigrant officer, we loaded our three luggage into a big taxi and head to the very hip Conscious Hotel Vondelpark hotel, where we will be staying for the night.

Since it was just 8 AM, our rooms were ready yet. So we opened our luggage on the lobby, spilling half of our stuff onto the floor. Finally, after we managed to pack up the luggage and freshen ourselves up, we went out to explore the city.

This time, Amsterdam was just a stopover. We didn’t have many plans, except to eat stroopwafel, meet our cousin and get high at night.

First stop: coffee. We stepped inside a cute little coffee shop run by a Japanese.

Is there a saying about missing a foreign place when you are in another foreign place?

Happy to report that the coffee in Amsterdam was good.

We then walked around the town to find the little bakery that sold stroopwafel that I had with my cousin and her friend five years ago. Stroopwafel and another cuppa later, we continued walking around the city. We stopped for a midday drink at a fancy looking place before joining the free walking tour. We walked along the canal, the red light area and a shopping district. In one of the stops, I bought shell to ad to my jar back home. I also went inside a weed shop trying to get something for Fafa. But I was too afraid that Australian immigration will catch me that I came out empty-handed.

We then had lunch late lunch at the Indonesian restaurant Kanjtil and went back to the hotel to rest.

In the evening we picked our cousin and went to Sampoerna, another Indonesian food feast. Full, cold but very happy we walked around to find the small cafe that sells the best space cake. Once acquired, we shared it between the four of us. Soon after we went back to the hotel and here I am writing this and waiting for the cupcake to take effect.

Unfortunately, I don’t feel anything, just uber tired, which that makes sense because I haven’t slept for almost two days and I am on my period. I guess it’s sleep time for me as we are flying to Norway tomorrow morning.

Goedenacht!

Airbnb

I am curious about people’s homes. I often wonder what their life looks like from the inside of their home. Does their home represent their characters? And I get more intrigued when I travel to a new place; about the locals, their lifestyles, and day-to-day lives, including their homes.

This interest of other cultures’ homes started when I took a peek into the Parisian living quarters from the same street where our Eiffel Tower facing hotel was located. I wanted to see what a typical French home looks like, and I even planned to master the French language to befriend a French girl who would invite me to stay in her apartment with her friends or family, not unlike the girl in Lessons from Madame Chic. This elaborate, and what I thought of as brilliant, plan stopped when I found out French words have genders in the 4th week of French class.

Thankfully, Airbnb was founded, and a whole new world opened up for me.

I love to Airbnb when I travel. When we went to Europe last year, I managed to turn my cousins into AirBnB-ers. We did the Airbnb Europe edition by staying in nine different apartments, from Germany to Spain. It also satisfied my curiosity about French living, though it wasn’t in Paris. I stayed in a walk-up old apartment building in Nice. I continued staying in all sorts of strangers’ homes from Shanghai to Queenstown.

Airbnb somehow makes the travel experience feel more authentic for me.

Space Cake

Eating space brownies in Amsterdam has been on my wanderlust since 2011. It’s when, after visiting Amsterdam for the first time, I came back without trying and had been penalized for it by my friends, my friends of friends, my friends’ cats, my neighbors, and my exes. I have had enough of “How could you not try it!!” variations that I put weeds, only weeds, in my Amsterdam itinerary when I visited it again in 2014. My people were counting on me and I couldn’t let them down for the second time. In conclusion, I had to try the space brownies in Amsterdam because of peer pressure. I needed to fulfill the social expectations of myself, other than getting married and breeding.

I did my research. I knew these places are called “coffee shops” and they display the green white license sticker. I was ready! After lunch, we went through the red light area and spotted Baba, one of the best “coffee shop” in Amsterdam. I took a few seconds to compose myself (I didn’t want to behave like an annoying, shallow tourist who came to Amsterdam just to smoke weed; even though it was the exact truth) and went inside, with my backpack and camera dangling on my neck. I tried to read the menu nonchalantly; Espresso Macchiato. Wait, what is this place?! And then I saw it. The glorious space brownies.

We ordered two of it to be shared by four of us. The space brownies tasted like something I would have tried to bake and failed. It was hard, tasteless, but edible. The shop itself was nice and crowded on a Thursday afternoon. It was decorated with Hindu deities, including Lord Ganesha, which made me feel awkward on the first few minutes.

I finished my coffee, which I have ordered just to mask the main reason we came here (I made a lot of quick and stupid decisions that day), and stepped out into the cold winter afternoon. We walked, took some pictures, ate stroopwafels, and walked some more. During all time we felt nothing much, just a little happy buzz. I thought this was it and felt pretty disappointed. It was pretty similar to the time when I tried happy pizza in Cambodia. I could the same feeling after the second glass of wine. I began to regret paying 14 euros for two tasteless space brownies.

The evening got colder. We roamed around the museum quarter and stopped at the outdoor cafe for hot beverages. We sat down with our coffee and hot chocolate. I started to say something in English but stopped midway because I couldn’t continue my sentence. Then my cousin tried to say something but she kept forgetting her words. We found that hilarious.

Oh, so hilarious, that we laughed and laughed until we cried out of laughter.

And then we realized we were high! But too late! Can’t. Stop. Laughing. I was aware that people were watching us and that we looked extremely stupid, but for the love of Ganesha, I couldn’t stop laughing because anything and everything was so freaking funny! It was sort of an out of body experience. You knew you were high but you couldn’t control your feelings nor behave normally.

We then walked back to the train station to go to the Airport to catch our red-eye flight back to Jakarta. The whole walk was another new experience. I felt so light like I was a floating spirit and that I could go through any object. Of course, I didn’t try, I only ate half of the space brownies, I wasn’t that high.

We managed to reach the Airport and pass the immigration without any hiccup. Though, I’m sure the officer knew I was high as I was the only person in the sea of passengers who supported colorful AMSTERDAM beanie with no shame. My cousin told me that it was her first and last time trying space brownies. She didn’t like it because she had paranoia. As for me? Next time, I will bake the space brownies myself, if I need to!

Do you know that smoking weed is an illegal BUT unpunishable offense in Netherland?! Gave you tried space brownies before? How about happy pizza? Would you?