Cat Café in Singapore

My sister just arrived in Singapore when we decided to visit the Chinatown area. Right after we got out from the MRT station, we stumbled upon a cat café! It is called The Company of Cats, located in the Mosque St.

Now, a little bit of history about cat café… The world’s first cat café, “Cat Flower Garden”, opened its doors in Taipei, Taiwan, in 1998. Then, the concept blossomed in Japan and became very popular, with seventy nine cat cafés opened across the country.Wikipedia

Even though I’m an avid cat lover, and these kind of cafés have been around the world for quite a while, this would be my first cat café experience. The café was right in front of us, and we felt that the cats were calling for us to come in, so we thought… why not, let’s go!

No wonder we felt being called… with that many maneki-neko!

Before playing with the cats, we had to wash our hands first. Then, the lady there made sure that we know the rules in the café, such as.. Don’t lift the cats. Don’t wake the cats up. Don’t kidnap the cats *grin*. Okay, hands are clean, rules are laid down, let’s play!

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Singapore Night Festival

The festival happened around two weeks after Singapore celebrates its golden jubilee, August 21-22 and 28-29. Actually, I found out about this festival accidentally, I’m so glad I didn’t miss it :).

After the ‘cat & bear’s trip to Tioman Island, Malaysia’ (will write about this soon), we arrived back in Singapore on Monday, August 24 evening. On our way to the nearest 7 Eleven to have our dinner, ehem… ’cause I was craving steamy ramen cup :D, we met these cute little fellas in front of National Museum of Singapore..

They’re so cute! I can’t stop moving my body when they start dancing 🙂

We got a booklet about the festival from a guy hanging around there, that’s how we found out about this. The big events happened only on Friday and Saturday (21-22 and 28-29), but the Anooki, the cute Inuits, celebrates SG50 at the Façade of National Museum of Singapore throughout the week, continuously (with 3 min break each time) from 7:30 PM to 11:00 PM, along with the free exhibitions inside (and outside) the museum. Lucky us!

The bear wasn’t so lucky, because we missed the first weekend of events, and he had to leave Singapore on Tuesday night, August 24. Bummer 🙁 Well, at least he met the Anooki. But… my sister was indeed very lucky, because she visited me the weekend after, August 28-31. What a perfect timing! Even though we didn’t know about the festival beforehand.

Huzzah!! Free shows! 🙂

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Prasangka Terhadap Pasangan Beda Ras

Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan. Picture is taken from here.

Sengaja saya tulis dalam Bahasa Indonesia, supaya bisa menjadi pembuka pikiran bagi orang-orang Indonesia yang sering berprasangka buruk terhadap pasangan yang berbeda ras dan warna kulit. Walaupun agak ga mungkin orang-orang bodoh itu mampir ke sini dan baca blog saya, tapi berharap boleh dong ya :p. Saya menulis berdasarkan pengalaman saya sendiri, jadi lingkupnya terbatas untuk wanita WNI yang punya pasangan WNA alias bule.

Sudah sering sih saya membaca postingan blog senada dengan topik yang sama. Cukup googling dengan kata kunci ‘suka duka punya pasangan bule’, dan anda pun akan menemukan berjibun curahan hati para wanita yang teraniaya, tsahhh :D. Jadi, sebelum traveling dengan sang Beruang di Asia, khususnya di Indonesia, saya sudah menyiapkan hati dan mental, tak lupa poker face, supaya tetap tabah dengan hinaan yang mungkin terdengar.

Kasus #1: “Kira-kira ketemu ayam di mana ya?”

Di perjalanan ferry kembali ke Bali setelah mendaki Ijen, ada segerombolan anak SMP/SMA yang mungkin sedang study tour ke Bali (soalnya saya sempet nguping mereka ngomongin tugas tentang budaya di Bali). Dari mereka yang sibuk curi-curi foto selfie dengan sang Beruang, tiba-tiba terdengar pertanyaan itu, “Kira-kira ketemu ayam di mana ya?”

Kalau dipikir-pikir Bahasa Indonesia itu tinggi sekali ya level ambiguitas-nya. Kalau dikonfontrasi langsung, yang ngomong bisa saja ngeles dengan alasan, “Oh, kita lagi ngomongin ayam KFC kok, kira-kira ada di mana ya di Bali” :D. Fakta bahwa mereka bergerombol di sebelah kami, dan kemudian yang diajak bicara oleh orang tersebut memotong dengan, “Hush!”, lalu berbisik-bisik, membuat saya yakin bahwa saya lah yang dimaksud dengan ‘ayam’. Dan seperti yang kita semua tahu, perempuan yang diasosiasikan dengan ayam berarti pelacur (kasihan ya ayam, jadi negatif gitu). See, that’s the power of context for interpreting the meaning of a language 😉

Kasus #2: “Untuk memperbaiki keturunan ya, Mbak.”

Setelah puas snorkeling, canoeing dan hiking selama seminggu di Pulau Tioman, Malaysia, di hari terakhir kami memutuskan untuk relaksasi di spa yang disediakan oleh resort tempat kami tinggal. Ketika para terapisnya tahu bahwa saya orang Indonesia, mereka langsung heboh, “Owalah, lha kami ini juga orang Indonesia!” :D. Selama sesi pijat kami pun tanpa hentinya mengobrol dalam Bahasa Indonesia, karena terapis saya juga sama-sama punya tahi lalat di ‘atas bibir minggir kanan’ seperti saya :). Agak menjelaskan kenapa beliau ceriwis sekali, hahaha.

Obrolan berlangsung tanpa ada prasangka buruk (setidaknya menurut perasaan saya), mereka cuma penasaran bagaimana kami bertemu. “Karena sama-sama belajar di Italia,” saya jelaskan. “Wah, hebat, mahal ya Mbak?” “Beasiswa kok…” “Waaah, berarti pinter banget Mbaknya” :). Cuma ada satu statement yang bikin saya mangkel dikit. “Untuk memperbaiki keturunan” itu memang sudah jadi komentar standar yang sering sekali terdengar ya. Cuma kok seakan-akan kalau ga sama mas bule keturunan saya bakalan jelek dan butuh diperbaiki ya, hiks ;(.

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About Saying Sorry

This morning, my peaceful shower time was disrupted by a neighbor child’s loud cries, and a woman’s –most probably the child’s mother– yells. At first the woman’s shouts were in Chinese, which I don’t understand at all. I assume that she expressed why she was angry. But then, the woman starts yelling repeatedly, “Say sorry!” Instead of saying sorry, the child’s cries grow louder and louder. The woman was so persistent to get to hear that ‘sorry’ word from the child, she repeated the “Say sorry!” shouts probably more than 30 times.

I’m not a parent yet, but I think demanding a ‘sorry’ like that from my child is not the right thing to do. First of all, being (and saying) sorry should come from either feeling regret, or from feeling sad out of sympathy. Now, will shouts and yells like that help my child to understand that he/she should feel regret or sad after whatever he/she has done? Surely not.

If in the end the child finally says ‘sorry’, I’m quite sure that the reason is that he just wants the mother to stop yelling, instead of being regretful of making mistakes or hurting anyone. The child may grow up to be someone who misuses the word ‘sorry’ lacking regret or sympathy, won’t he?

Another lesson taken for my future parenthood :).

By the way, just recently Muslims all around the world celebrated the Eid al-Fitr festival. I’m lucky that this year I can finally celebrated it with my family, after being absent twice in the previous years. In Indonesia, on that particular day, there is a tradition to greet each other –friends-neighbors-family– with “mohon maaf lahir dan batin” which literally means “forgive me body and soul”. This is, in my opinion, also a misuse of ‘sorry’ :p. Why would I say sorry to people I am (almost) never in contact with? And why would I say sorry only on this day without any reason?

It is not a bad idea to use the occasion to ask for forgiveness from others about any mistake one might have done, but… I found that this is more appropriate:

It’s time to forget and also forgive others’ mistakes, to be able to move on happily in life without any grudge and burden :). Happy Eid Mubarak! Sorry it’s a bit late 😉

Singapore for Summer

I’m in Singapore!

And I’m going to be here for the whole summer, 3 months to be exact, for some kind of an internship at the National University of Singapore (NUS). Working on what? Of course… deep learning, baby! 😀

Well, at least… working on an attempt to solve my research problems using deep learning, because it has become the buzzword of today’s NLP research. Yeah, that’s it.

I actually arrived 2 weeks ago, but only recently I finally get myself settled at my new office, with PC and cards: (from up to bottom) ez-link card for easy payment *for bus, MRT/LRT, swimming pool, printing, and I don’t know what else, probably many more*, NUS access card to get inside my office *even to get inside the room I need this card*, and lastly… my TEP card, which allows me to freely enter/exit Singapore during these 3 months.

I haven’t met my advisor yet, because he was still out of office until this week. So maybe next week. But I’ve met some of the colleagues from the group.

Enough about the working part, now… what can I do during my free time? Singapore is boring, some people said ;), but I’ve checked this list of 50 things to do in Singapore and 52 things to do in Singapore before you die, and come up with my own list, 15 things I want to do in Singapore:

  1. Go trekking: Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, MacRitchie Treetop Walk and along the (defunct) KTM railway track.
  2. Go rock climbing at Dairy Farm, Singapore’s only natural outdoor rock climbing
  3. Cycling at the East Coast Park
  4. Cycling in Pulau Ubin and Chek Jawa
  5. Re-connect with mother nature at Sungei Buloh
  6. Have a picnic at the Botanical Gardens
  7. Feel on top of Singapore at the Marina Bay Sands Skypark
  8. Have a party at the Singapore 50th birthday
  9. Visit a Public Swimming Complex
  10. Visit Sentosa island and Universal Studios Singapore
  11. Visit Haw Par Villa
  12. Take on an escape room challenge
  13. Cultural tours around Chinatown, Little India and Kampong Glam, plus food tasting
  14. Shop till drop at the Great Singapore Sale
  15. Get trackside at the Singapore F1 Grand Prix – vroom vroom *this year it will start on 18th of September, which is exactly the last day of my internship :D*

Some of them I can do by myself, but for some others I need companions :(. So, come here, dear friends! and family *adeeek, ayo sini sini*! and bear! Let’s have some fun in Singapore 🙂

Trip to Bali and Ijen

The first part of my Bali trip with my family can be read here

Om swastiastu… cat and bear were in Bali! Finally the cat could show (a small part of) Indonesia to the bear. We spent 6 days travelling around in Bali. However, one night was actually spent in Banyuwangi, at the east coast of Java, since we wanted to hike to Ijen crater.

In front of Ijen crater

*WARNING* this post is going to be looong :D. In summary, we went to Bali Bird Park, chillin’ at Double Six beach, hiking to Ijen crater, Kalisada village in the northern coast of Bali, then drove down to Ubud. From Ubud we visited Gunung Kawi temple, Tirta Empul, Batur lake and Elephant Cave. If you want to skip the stories, just check the pictures from the trip here. Oh, and check how well the bear can speak Indonesian language in this post :).

Day 1: Bali Bird Park, Double Six beach

After visiting Bali Bird Park and sent my family back home, in the evening, we just relaxed at Double Six beach, had a good chat, while listening to live music and watching planes landing in the airport (as you know, the bear is a flying enthusiast :p). Both of us agreed that, “Hey, this trip starts very nicely, let’s hope that the rest of it will also be great.” 🙂

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Bali, the Island of Gods

After more than 20 years living in Java, its neighboring island, I finally get a chance to visit Bali! This famous island that people often mention whenever I tell them I’m from Indonesia, “I know Bali!” they will say :). “Yeah, but I’ve never been there,” is what I usually respond with. Well, even though the Bali strait can be easily crossed with ferry from the eastern point of Java, my hometown is in the west part of Java, with around 900 km air distance to Bali ^^; Not so close…

As I mentioned few blog-posts ago, I was there for a conference. But then my family joined the trip for the weekend after the conference, and after that also the bear for another week. Yippee, summer holiday time!

With my family, we did the usual touristic routes in Bali. It was a very convenient trip since we hired a car plus driver for 3 days, and the driver is a local who also became our tourist guide. He told us stories about Balinese Hinduism‘s rituals and myths… and ghosts (a.k.a Leak) :D.

The complete collection of pictures from the trip can be found here.

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My First Via Ferrata – Masarè

left picture is taken from here

So… do I look like them already? :p

Since last year I’ve been wanting to try via ferrata, but the idea was always dismissed by the bear (a.k.a our via ferrata expert here :p) by reason of my lack of stamina.

Via ferrata, the Italian words for ‘iron road’, is a protected climbing route usually found in the Alps. It is called the iron road because there is (almost) always a steel cable that runs along the route, fixed to the rock every 3-10 m. The climber can securely hang (with the climbing aids) on the cable, limiting any fall. (source: Wikipedia, of course)

Not only that the climbing activity requires a very good physical fitness, but reaching the ferrata route itself usually requires some hiking. It’s not like a helicopter would drop us at the start of the route, then pick us up after we are done :p. That’s why the bear was hesitant, because he thought I’m not fit enough to handle the long and tedious journey.

However, this summer, somehow he is convinced that I’m now able to do it (thanks to poweryoga ^^). So here we go!

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The Bear and Bahasa Indonesia

So… finally! The bear had a chance to visit Indonesia 🙂 Selamat datang di Indonesia, Beruang! [Welcome to Indonesia, Bear!]

picture is taken from here

Before coming, the only phrase he knows is selamat malam [good evening/night]. After spending a week in Indonesia, Bali and Banyuwangi to be exact, he almost becomes a native speaker of Indonesian language!

…kidding :p. But at least he knows some more words now, hehe.

Selamat pagi, siang, sore, malam

After knowing selamat malam [good evening/night], the next step would be to learn the greetings for other parts of the day: selamat pagi [good morning], selamat siang [good afternoon], selamat sore [good afternoon/evening]. Oh, and also the other selamat like selamat makan [enjoy your meal/buon appetito/guten Appetit] and selamat tidur [good night].

Makasih!

Yep, I taught him how to say ‘thanks’ like a native :p. Once, he said that to a street vendor after buying a bottle of water and biscuits, and the guy corrected him that it should be terima kasih [thank you], the more formal way :D.

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Di Tanah Air

Akhirnya, kembali berada di tanah air. Dan akhirnya… sampai juga di Bali! :D.

Berasa banget kalo lagi di tanah air, karena cuma di tanah air…

  1. mesti hati-hati dikibulin supir taksi di airport. “Mau ke mana, Mbak?” | “The Stones hotel, Legian” | “150 ribu aja, Mbak” | “Meh…” *melenggang berlalu*. Akhirnya saya bayar 100 ribu sih, lumayan hemat 50 ribu.
  2. pada gak bisa ngeliat cewek jalan kaki sendirian. Setiap beberapa meter ada aja yang nyapa, dan nanya, “Sendirian ajah?” atau komentar-komentar gak jelas *catcalling lah*. Memang orang Indonesia super ramah, ya! :p Setiap beberapa meter juga ditawarin ojek dan diklaksonin taksi. Hadoh, saya ini mau sehat makanya jalan kaki. Masa jarak cuma 15 menit jalan kaki manja naik ojek atau taksi. Herannya cewek foreigner jalan sendirian dicuekin aja tuh.
  3. pada gak bisa ngeliat orang makan sendirian di restoran. Para pelayannya pada kepo gitu nanya, “Kok sendirian ajah, Mbak?” Ehem, well, mungkin juga karena saya di Bali sih ya, di mana biasanya orang datang makan berpasang-pasangan :p.
  4. pada gak bisa ngeliat cewek *mungil nan manis* traveling sendirian, nginep di hostel pula. “Hati-hati ya, Mbak, ntar diambil orang”, katanya.

Tenang Bapak-bapak, Ibu-ibu, Mas-mas, Mbak-mbak… Sebentar lagi keluarga saya datang kok. Saya bakal pindah nginep di hotel, dan kemana-mana bakal naik mobil sewaan. Gak melenggang sendirian lagi deh…

Anyway, glad to be home 🙂