The year that we call 2017 will end in a few days. Reflecting the last 365 days, 2017 is the year that I wish was a bad dream. And someday I will wake up and have different 2017. Unfortunately, this is not a dream.

The first blow in 2017 come started at work in January 2017, and culminate on August. A project that we worked on was having so much trouble, because the company that I worked on seems like to make rules that killed itself slowly, and our colleagues like to save their own back by passing hot potato around. We started to get our act together in July, but it was too late. Customer halted the project. Part of us was relieved, but our company was not happy. Although I was involved indirectly in the project, my reputation was hit hard, and I was on the brink of losing my job.

While I was busy recovering the project, come the second blow. On April, Grace was hospitalized after having a symptom of rapid heart rate, shortness of breath, and general tiredness. It turns out to be ketoacidosis, a blood poisoning of ketone, due to uncontrolled blood sugar. She was hospitalized for 2 days in high care unit, and another 2 days in general ward. It was the first time she was hospitalized, other than delivering our son. And it was  a life threatening condition. We had a fight, I was disappointed because she has been ignoring her health, and she was angry because according to her I wasn’t providing moral support that she needed.

Then the final blow come just 4 days before Christmas. Grace again hospitalized. Same symptom, same diagnosis. Again, she has been ignoring her health, and this time, it might cost us Christmas. Instead of celebrating Christmas at home, with good food, wine, laugh and chat, we might spend Christmas in hospital.

The year has been a bad dream, but I’m glad that it will end in a good way.

First, I didn’t lose my job. I lose my position, but few friends with influence who has seen how I work vouch for me, and took me under their wing. Those are the same friends who, when I took my position in 2016, questioned me on why I choose that position, that the position didn’t fit my characteristic.

Second, Grace survived both hospitalization. Yesterday, two days before Christmas, the doctor said she can go home on Christmas Eve. We will celebrate Christmas at home, singing Christmas song, with wine and food. I do wish, as my new year wish, that she started to get serious about he health.

Third, all of my parents are healthy and strong. My dad worried me a bit, as I realize how old has he become. I wish he can enjoy his life more, going out with whatever friends he has left, and travel, the things that he don’t have much chance to do in his younger days. My mom in law has also improved a lot from her heart attack, as proven by her ability to climb 100 stairs during her last trip to Hanoi.

Fourth, I started a business, selling coffee. I don’t see it as the first step to finally fulfilled my dream to have a bed and breakfast, and coffee shop. I see it as stepping stone, to get the network, and experience when I eventually open the business.

Fifth, of course, my son. He has grown strong, smart and big, beyond my imagination when he was born in 2011. There are many that I think as parent, he has a lot to catch up, like having more fun with his friends, taking shower by himself, learn to ride a bicycle and swimming. These are still the effort that we need him to do next year.

I wish 2018 will be nice to us. Until then, Merry Christmas……

Note: this year we also regret to see the passing of Bondan Winarno. I didn’t know him that well, but the 3 days we stayed at his home in Bali in May 2017 has exposed many of his experience that I respect. And he was instrumental in setting up Jalansutra community, where I met Grace. He passed away too young, too early.


Today I turned 39. I was pondering of what to write on my 39th Birthday. I wanted to avoid the typical last year reflection, bla…. bla… bla… It is too cheesy.And then I found this writing about Life Restart Button.

I think, after 39 years of life in this world, I have so much things that I wanted to change, that I’m not really proud of. Things that, if I knew the future, I would certainly won’t do that things. Of course it is not fair, because nobody should be able to predict the future with 100% precision. Hence, the Life Restart Machine would sounds fair. You restart your life, with no knowledge of the future. And whatever you do will set you to a new future.

But, I don’t want to restart my life entirely. I don’t want to go back to my infancy, the time when I don’t even recall. So, a life reset machine sounds better for me. It has a keypad where you put the year to reset to, and when you are ready, push the big red button, and ZAP.

My version of Life Reset Machine. Put in the year, and push the big red button

So, if the machine does exist, which year will I reset to? I have several years that I’m considering to reset to:

  1. My teenage year of high school. I always wanted to learn to play keyboard. So, if I can reset to these years, I will learn to play keyboard. Who knows that I would become a professional keyboard player, and become famous?
  2. The day I choose my major in college. This might not bring much changes, considering how much I despise economics. But, given the chance, there might be slim possibility that I will choose economics as my major. This should ideally followed by taking tax consultant exam, so at the and of the day, I would become a tax consultant. Tax is the 2nd thing that you can’t avoid in life other than death, right? So, a tax consultant might be equivalent to doctor here.
  3. The day I graduated. This also probably give little change, if any. I would started my own business early on, or work as professional instead of employee. I would grow and develop my network, and one day in this life, I would have my business running well enough that I don’t need to spend too much time in it, and can spend more time with my kids. This of course assuming that I will get married and have kids.

So now the cheesy part to close this post. I was happy on how the year past by, and wish myself a better health and life free of pain. Happy 39th Birthday.

Don’t know what to say now
Don’t know where to start
I don’t know how to handle
A complicated heart

A trip to Bandung is always emotionally draining. Too many stories has happened, too many memories left to be remembered each time I drive in and out of the city.

Its all started in October 1999. Just few days after I graduated, I started dating a girl who were studying in Bandung. We had a long distance relationship. Almost every month she will come to Jakarta, to visit her parents and me. Every 3 months, I will go to Bandung, and spent few days. We explored the city, and made memories to more pristine Bandung in the early 2000s.

You tell me you are leaving
But I just have to say
Before you throw it all away

She graduated in 2004, and move back to Jakarta with her parents. And then everything started to changes. Probably our romantic relationship works better as a long distance relationship. So that we treasure the time that we have together. When we live in the same city, we value our time less, and get ourself busy with our own stuff. It is clear the the relationship started to break apart once we live in the same city.

And it all culminated in May 2005, when she told me that she wanted to break up and end the relationship. I didn’t argue anything, because deep inside, I know it was the right thing to do. Even today I still think that it was the right thing to do. The relationship had no future.

Even if you want to go alone
I will be waiting when you’re coming home
And if you need someone to ease the pain
You can lean on me, my love will still remain

The lyrics above from Michael Learns to Rock’s Complicated Heart is exactly the things that I would like to tell her when we broke up, and even today when we finally had a chance to chat. It was her mother’s memorial service, who passed away 2 days ago. It wasn’t love as a lover that I would like to offer, but a love as a friend, a shoulder to cry on, and help to ease the pain.

Those words are still left unspoken. As I drove alone back to Jakarta, I think there are words that are better left unspoken. Maybe, someday in the future, when I met her in a better time, and in a right situation.

So, finally, we come to the last day of 2016. In less than 24 hours, we will start writing 2017 in our letters and documents. New Year always bring new hopes, but also bring out the best memory of the year to pass, and the worst one that we want to forget.

To summarize 2016, it has been a year full of challenges and failure. But through the failure I learned and stand through. Towards the end, the seeds of hopes have been planted for 2017.

The New Year celebration of 2016 was still fresh in mind when I face my first failure. The big opportunity that we have been worked in 2015 had just passed under my nose, without me noticing it. It was days of hell when I got to explain on why we weren’t invited to participate in a big tender for a project, and to create new strategy on how we can participate. The mistake I made was clear: I didn’t put enough focus to win the deal, and was relying too much on the wrong people. Thankfully, even until the end of 2016, no winner being announced. Customer has no budget, and unable to resolve its political situation that the tender is put on hold.

But it was a nice wake up call to put more focus. And there are few things that at that time took my focus away from work.

The main thing that took away my focus was business that I started in November 2015. Entering the second month in January 2016, the business need a lot of effort to stabilize, especially in finding employee. It was stabilized sometime in March 2016, but still struggling for profit. At the end of the day, I decided that the timing of the business is wrong, and decided to close the business in August. It was never easy to close a business that we started. The process itself was tough, but the emotional drain was even more tougher.

I was even thinking to start another one, and was in discussion with a friend. We started to talk to some of our potential clients, did some public talk, but at the end of the day, me and my partner decided that we wasn’t ready for it. We don’t have capital that we can invest, and more important, we don’t have time to start the business. I still think that it is doable, so this is the seed that I might grow in 2017.

Situation thankfully improved in 2nd half of 2016. I signed up for a new role in my company, which will give me more free time. Many says that the role is a career’s dead end, that I will be overhead to the company, excess baggage. But I have a plan. I took the role to have more free time for my business, but at the same time, I would like to transform the role, for the benefit of the company. So far I have done well in the process to transform the role, getting recognition from the company management that it is the right thing to do. This should hopefully propel my career higher, proving the skeptic that they are wrong, that this role won’t kill my career, and at the same time provide more free time in 2017.

And the best part of 2016 was, of course, the Turkey trip that we took in November. I drained my savings, but it was worth it. It was my first taste to Europe, although Turkey is only half Europe. Istanbul itself is an amazing city full of history, and Istanbul Marathon took me to my first intercontinental running from Asia to Europe, while at the same time sightseeing foot tour  through the city. In Goreme all of us had our first hot air balloon tour, and snow experience. My son love it, playing with real snow instead of fake one in the shopping mall.

How do I look forward to 2017? As said, the seeds for 2017 has been planted, and I’m looking forward to whichever that grows.

First at the office. If the transformation that I started grows and recognized by our management, and if the stars align, I might get a promotion. This will hopefully enable me to carry the transformation to the wider organization and give bigger impact to the company.

Second, to start another business. I wrote that I have a business plan that I put on hold. I have another business plan that I and a fried discussed towards the end of 2016, about starting a small coffee shop. We are building our networks, and getting some insight on how a coffee shop should run. Eventually, if it is started, it will be my first step towards running a full bed and breakfast.

And third, it is the bed and breakfast itself. I was impressed with the Bed and Breakfast that we stayed in Goreme, Turkey, and have a good chat with Jay, the owner and reception of the place. I bought a piece of land in Bali in 2015, and we are thinking to sell our house here to build the land into villa, or bed and breakfast. It might be a long term plan, and 2017 might be a start towards longer journey.

So, I hope you all had a good time in 2016. Looking forward to even more good time in 2017 that will started in few hours. Happy New Year!

It was all started in 2013. We were having breakfast at Bali Starling, with the owner Mike, who also cook the breakfast for us. We had a chat about his life in Dutch at broadcasting company, and how he decided to move to Bali, start Bali Starling, and kind of worked his way in Bali 5 years before. The chat, and subsequent trip left an impression on me and Grace. We did plan to move to Bali sometime in the future, but the chat with Mike sealed our will and put a definite time on the future. It means soon, and we need to start working out way out.

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Mike the owner of Bali Starling Homestay, was preparing our breakfast

We had a rough idea on what we want to do. I would like to open a Bed & Breakfast, just like what Mike did. And also a coffee shop, which has been my lifelong dream. We don’t know what else we want to do, but hey, lets figure that out later. What we need to do is to find and invest in a piece of land in Bali before it become too expensive to afford.

Initially we wanted a waterfront property. But we realize that it is too expensive, so we can settle to a piece of land that is 2-3 km from the beach. However, during our search in 2014, we also realized that those land also unreasonably expensive. We are not talking about Kuta-Seminyak-Legian here, but further to the north, around Canggu. After that, we kind of let it open and explored different part of Bali.

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First land that we checked in 2014 at North Kuta. It overlooks rice fields

The search got serious in 2015, after I moved to another job. I made several solo trip to Bali in the first half of 2015. It wasn’t a trip where you spend few days at the beach, drinking all the booze. Well, the booze did stay, but the beach was replaced by driving a motorcycle with a backpack from one real estate to another, as much as possible over a weekend. It kind of feel like, and actually was business trips, something that I dreaded of.

On my first trip, I went as far as Buleleng to the north, before settling back to Ubud. Then in the morning, I scoured Ubud. Lodtunduh and Nyuh Kuning for land for sale, before heading back to the Airport. Two months later, i was back on the airplane for another 36 hours trip to Bali. This time the search is more focused on Canggu and checking back few lot at Ubud that I haven’t checked yet. On this trip the search got more serious, as I was into negotiation in a beautiful plot of land in Canggu. Too bad, the negotiation didn’t go through. To this date, I don’t really regret it, so I think it doesn’t really meant to be.

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North Bali, with beautiful mountain view. It is affordable, promising, but more to commercial area instead of travel industry.

After concluding the negotiation in my second trip, I started negotiation on another piece of land in Ubud. We reached an agreement, but few minutes before I paid the down payment, the owner cancelled the transaction. i was elated, ecstatic, and disappointed.

My third trip for real estate hunting was together with Grace and Ethan as family holiday. We don’t really do property hunting, except for one in Canggu, and I took Grace to see some piece of land in Ubud that I was negotiating. We really like the one in Canggu, and it was reasonably priced. I was about to negotiate, when a day before the negotiation, the agent called and informed me that someone else has paid the down payment. Another disappointment.

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A piece of land at Canggu Dewata, overlooking valley and rice paddy. Maybe some view has a value in it.

However, it wasn’t for long. Soon after we returned from out holiday I got a phone call from the owner in Ubud that I was negotiating with. She was ready to resume the transaction. Soon enough we agreed to meet up, negotiating on payment terms and other details, and I transferred the down payment.

The hunting has moved to another stage. We got the prey, and now making sure that it didn’t escape.

I was a man on mission. I contacted my bank to secure the funding and looked for public notary to check the land deed. With funding secured, and deed checked, I booked my final trip to Bali for the transaction. I thought it will be easy trip with few drinks to celebrate the transaction, but nature disagree with me.

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Plot of land at Lodtunduh, 15 minutes from Ubud Central, and also at the center of private villa. The land that we call ours.

Mount Raung erupt the day I was supposed to fly out. The eruption left me stranded at Jakarta Airport for 12 hours, and wreak havoc to the airlines schedule that I was held inside the bus in the tarmac for 30 minutes before we finally boarded the plane. By the time I landed, it was well over mid night in Bali. Let me tell you that riding a motorcycle from Bali Airport to Ubud after midnight is not really fun, although exciting in a way. And make sure you drink a lot of alcohol to keep you warm.

So, the next day, it was done. I signed the paper, the owner signed the paper. I paid the money to the seller, and we celebrate, the seller for having extra cash in hand, and I for crossing one of my bucket list item and one step closer to settle in Bali.

In response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Buffalo Nickel. Dig through your couch cushions, your purse, or the floor of your car and look at the year printed on the first coin you find. What were you doing that year?

And the year happen to be 2008.

The most significant, meaningful and unforgettable things that happen in 2008 was that, I started dating a beautiful lady, which today become my wife for 5 years and counting.

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In response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Burnt. Remember this prompt, when your home was on fire and you got to save five items? That means you left a lot of stuff behind. What are the things you wish you could have taken, but had to leave behind?

Alright, so the fire is out, and I’m sitting out of my house, cigarettes in one hand, and bad beer at nearby convenience store in another hand. Looking down below to the 5 precious item that I have saved, I’m mourning for the following stuff that I wish I can took with me:

  1. My Books. Before the kindle and e-book era, I have a lot of books, to name few, the Lonely Planet Guidebook. There are some romance in looking to the book rack with tons of book lining up in it, although I’m not planning to read it anyway.
  2. My Wedding Ring. It was lost somewhere in the house, and yet to be found. Too bad, the house got burnt before I can find it
  3. Photo albums. Well, the fact that I have my photo backup hard drive with me make it easy to just reprint the whole thing. But there are still photo that exist pre digital photography. That is the one that I miss.
  4. My Lego. It took a while to collects all those minifigurines, you know.

Bye bye house……