Monthly Archives: May 2016

Over the Edge

Very slowly I swam further away from the shore. I aimed for the line that was made visible by the obvious change in the colour of the sea water. On the other side of the line, it was a lot darker, signifying a bottom so far down that one could not see through to it even though it’s definitely there.

The closer I was to the line, the more slowly I swam because I knew what’s waiting. I had put my face down several times and I had seen the big drop. My sweetheart was out there, telling me all about flocks of colourful fish. I know he hoped the fish would sound like a reasonable payoff for venturing out of my depth. It was actually his hopefulness, more than the promise, that pushed me.

Though unwillingly, I kept moving towards the line. When I were closed enough, I put my face down to find some cool fish hanging around the cliff. They were was as beautiful as he promised,but I got to turn right back. I felt my breathing shortened fast as soon as I put my face down. Breathing under water through the snorkelling mask just seemed all unnatural and wrong. My brain couldn’t handle it, and I found myself turning back to the shore.

It’s only when I had my feet firmly on the sea bed, I could believe what had happened. I had faced my fear swimming out to the deep sea.

For the large part of my adolescent years and up until that very morning, I was daunted by the sea and its fearsome waves. I chose to stayed very close to the beach and very far from any strong waves so I could avoid any possibility of being nearly drowned like I was once.

I would forever be humble before the ocean and the power in its vastness, but I have stepped over the boundary I drew for myself many years ago.


Saying it literally: I have swum.




Gili Trawangan: A morning run

After a two-month break from running, this morning’s jog was deliberately challenging. I am on Gili Trawangan, a 3-km long, 2-km wide island. That means I could, in theory, run around the entire island. However, such a jog got to be torturous unless one runs at midnight in the rain for the heat seems unbearable any other time of the day.

When it rained yesterday’s evening, my host told me it’s the first time in three months. It lasted longer than normal tropical showers, so I calculated that the morning wouldn’t be so hot. Man, I was quite wrong.

As I set out at 7am, there was no hint of the late hour rain but some damp sandy paths spotted with puddles. I started on the shadowy back streets where riders were giving their horses the morning wash before heading out to pick up tourists. This part was nice and pleasant, but did not last very long. Gili Trawangan is pretty small, remember?

As soon as I reached the beach front, the extreme heat attacked every single cell of my body. Sweat streamed down my face. My habitual reaction was to wipe it off, but I had to give up after a while because it seemed so useless. I pushed on through resorts and restaurants on both sides to get to the quiet beach in the North. By the time I got there, my top was totally soaked, and I counted myself stupid for not bringing any water or money to buy some.

The northern part is quiet enough so that one can see a relatively long stretch of beach without being interrupted by a snorkelling boat or some sun beds. I got a spur from the space and picked up on my speed along the firm sand. It was hard work though. I miss Amsterdam parks and their perfectly paved paths. But well, like I said to my man: no pain, no gain. The view here is pretty paradise-like.

gili trawangan.jpg



My nephew will be three this August. He asks a million of questions and he has a dozen of names for everyone, including himself. Mafo is one of them.


Mafo seems to come from a cartoon character who can transform into different things. It is just like how my nephew changes his lego from a chocolate cake into a dragon without much of a rearrangement. Quite the imagination that he has!

Sometimes it seems he repeats himself by asking everyone in the house the same question about twenty times a day. But if you keep talking to him, you will notice that he picks up your vocabulary and make it his own. Now I see why children can easily learn more than one language at the same time.

He also plays the same game and watches the same video over and over. I would get bored with his cake-making game after three attempts and only stay for his company. He would play it twenty times more, then move on to “really” make it with whatever toys he can find lying around. Sometimes he is so into it that it seems all real even for me.

My husband got Mafo to help him bake a real cake once and Mafo mixed the dough like a pro. I often wonder if he would remember, when he gets older, the time he made a real cake comparing to when it was lego or an iPad game. Probably not? 

Sometimes I also wonder if Mafo would be different to my husband once he realises that my husband doesn’t understand all the things he says. For now, Mafo asks him the same question, plays with him the same game and, when in the mood, tells him to go away all the same like everyone else. I like that!

Travelling means seeing a lot of people. I like to talk to other travellers as well as the local. But I know I always do a bit of judging before I open up to a casual conversation. I know it holds me back from some amazing exchanges, but I can’t help it. I am worried about getting stuck in a conversation with some creepy guy or a boring lot. I’ve been there before. But I hope I could be more like a child, like my precious Mafo, less judgemental and more open to imagination.


On the road again and missing Mafo dearly