Friday, December 25, 2009

Fabulously in Love

This is Christmas and all we need to do is giving love. In Christianity history, Christ came to the world as a perfect example how Father gave the most precious He has; His Son. Christ died, sacrificed Himself for the people salvation. It ain’t simple. Love is the biggest tagline for every Christmas time. It’s not about the religion; it’s all about love.

“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” Dalai Lama

This year, I have been spending much of my time on the road; shaking soul with some greatest friends (you know who you are). The last time I traveled was for business; Bangkok with P&Gers. Right when I was feeling so excited in the city of Angels, I felt bad that I didn’t come home for quite long time. That’s why I decided to spend time on this Christmas just at home. Home is good, as well as being on the road. I feel being loved in this family, regardless fighting and loud voices I hear everyday.

I hope you guys have blasted days too in this Christmas. I hope you guys being in love. Keep practicing gratitude; it’s the best thing in life to be grateful everyday, even if it’s about all simplest things.

Rise up this mornin',
Smiled with the risin' sun,
Three little birds
Pitch by my doorstep
Singin' sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true,
Sayin', ("This is my message to you-ou-ou:")

Singin': "Don't worry 'bout a thing,
'Cause every little thing gonna be all right.
"Singin': "Don't worry (don't worry) 'bout a thing,
'Cause every little thing gonna be all right!"

- Bob Marley

Keep being happy, no matter what. Don’t worry too much about you and life; life’s good. Be fabulous and confident; you can conquer the world. Keep telling the person in the mirror, “You’re beautiful!”, even if you need to stand on your toe because you’re too short.

“Walk like you’re hot; shake soul like no more days to live; broadcast
yourself to the world like you have your own radio station.”
Merry Christmas everyone!

Be in love.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

A River Moving in You; A Joy

What I like from living attitude of gratitude is that it’s not a complicated rocket science. It’s for everyone to apply everyday to have great life.

Most of the time we can’t live gratefully just because too many distractions in our day! It’s not that we can’t do it; it’s an easy thing to do, it’s more on if we can come out from the distractions, structure our mind and be grateful everyday.

I got some simple things I have been doing lately that help me to live gratefully. That leads to living happily. It’s still not perfect, still many days of being pushed down to the ground because of unfavorable things; at least I try to.

1. Go vacation and shake soul. Vacation is the perfect example on how doing nothing, go slowly and breathe the life. When we’re on vacation, we expect nothing while the whole universe offers everything abundantly; air to breathe, water to drink, wave to ride on, laughter to enjoy and stars to admire. Our soul is shaken like our butt shaken being in the club, dancing.

“There is life beyond deadlines and excel spreadsheet templates”

I am grateful to have surfed Cimaja wave with beloved companions; Boxu, Betty, Wi Wie, Jhon, Mariza, Santi and all the local surfers. Not only had they brought so much joy; they are acute laid-back that I didn’t need to think a lot to make everyone feeling comfortable in a lazy days in Cimaja.

2. Having pets. Having pets can be the source of happiness. When we find unfavorable things in a day, seeing funny faces of our pets can change the whole day! Seriously. I have hamsters named Gratti and Gratte; a perfectly expression of being grateful in life and a reminder to stay on top of things to be thankful for what I have in life. Gratti and Gratte came from ‘grateful’. Though they’re bugging me, screaming at me when there’s no food to eat; I am still grateful to have them in the room. When I’m awake, they’re sleeping; when I’m sleeping in the middle of the night, they’re awake and making noises. It’s a laughter that they’re making after all; how can I kick their ass out from my room?

“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy” Rumi

3. Work less. I’m a big fan of procrastination. Human tends to do nothing; it is our economy-based life pushing us to work. At the beginning of the life, people didn’t work. They received anything from the universe. Just because they did something wrong; they needed to work. If I can, I prefer not to work. But most of the time, for most of people, we need to work hard. If we can’t be super-rich people who don’t maybe need to work; work less by simplifying our work processes.

4. Sing a lot, shake butt a lot. Music (and being in the situation that we need to dance) is one of the best ways to relieve our soul. Sing-a-long with friends, sing alone in the room, or playing music in the middle of the night can be the source of your joy.

“The art of living is more like dancing than wrestling”

Happy shaking soul!

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Friday, November 20, 2009

F-U-N-ny Days

I have been walking thru my days with my lazy ass every morning, hoping that these busy days will pass easily. WTF, rather than having easy days, I have been feeling that I am not on top of worries and bad feelings everyday. Woman on top did it better than I do.

Even if it’s only about doing the easiest task. I guess it’s because I feel deadlines killed me away. One quote from Paulo Coelho is so kicking-ass, “There is life beyond deadlines and excel template spreadsheets.”

I keep telling myself that even when I am at the busiest days in my life; I still need to have fun. I still need to celebrate life by enjoying simplest things in life – starring at hamsters making love, joining friends talking about 2012 and maybe, enjoying video made by one of the couchsurfers dancing like Rihanna to win her heart to (finally) come to Jakarta. Even tweets, tweeting and re-tweet from friends about #tebakfilmtranslate and #tebakbandtranslate can be fun too (do you know that there’s international singer which in Indonesian is ‘wanita Sardin’, but in English it becomes ‘Lady Gaga’? Or, a movie with Indonesian translation of “Gila, dalem banget masuknya!” which turns out to be “Deep Impact”).

So, by having a feeling and being pessimistic about the start of the day, we can ruin the days by our self. We don’t even need friends complaining about raining days, traffic jam, or failure to get 2012 movie tickets, just to ruin our days. We can just ruin the days at the blink of an eye in the morning when we wake up.

So, you and I just need to tell to ourselves, “Just relax, I won’t worry my life!” I need you to say it to remind me how good the life is.

Meanwhile, enjoy this clip and it’s good to see how one’s energy transformed into a big fun party! Maybe the fun you enjoy today will be resonated into greater fun for 7 generations to come?

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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Life is Good: "Go Easy With Yourself", "Off from Technology" and "Being Mindful"

There are many books telling us how to be happy. They push us to say, 'life is good' while it doesn't seem easy to say so. We say 'life is a bitch' instead.

In this post, I don't want to say that these principles are the best for living a good life. I find it is a very personal thing to walk on our own way and find the perfect rhythm that suits us the best. Sometimes it's annoying when people tell you to do this and that.

What I have been learning on how to have good life.
1. Keep it simple and quick.
2. Reduce options.
3. Stop over-reacting and live gratefully.
4. Eliminate the drain people.
5. Don't be to hard to yourself.
6. Off from technology.
7. Being mindful and live in present.

This is the last post; on how to treat ourself as a king in our own, nurturing and treating ourself fairly.

5. Go easy with yourself.
Sometimes we push our self too hard on things. We think being 30 is hard age. We think our job is not cool. We think we're not at the right crowd of people. We think we're ugly. We think we're less in everything.

Don't push our self too much, really. We're just different in our way. When we start thinking negative about things, about our self even worse, people can see it. Worry is the story we tell our self to avoid us moving forward. So, enjoy your life no matter what!

picture taken by Andri Prihutomo; a friend, photographer, traveler and devoted life enjoyer

6. Off from technology.

I bought this idea of living in solitude 6 months ago. The rationale is really simple, paradox of technology: instead of making life simpler, it adds complexity. It increases number of interaction with everything in life. Having said that life is abundant with unlimited components inside it, the complexity increases exponentially.

Blackberry, laptop, messenger, facebook, twitter, any social networking site. The key is you know when to stop, when your body and mind really need to live in solitude.

If being off from technology is too extreme for you because you really need it, there are many things you can do: put appear-off-line/unavailable status in your messenger, stop notification email of your networking site, use filter for your email account, leave irrelevant groups in your email account.

7. Being mindful and live in present.

Doing one thing at a time. Multitasking may be good way to do things, but it's not the best one. I believe that the best thought is the result of being mindful in one thing. The power of less. Doing less is fulfilling because it makes us feel relaxed and we have confidence to finish things.

picture taken by Faisal Reza; a friend, photographer, traveler and a fulltime-proscatinator

Doing thing slowly. Doing things slowly will bring out the best solution, as a result of being thoughtful, for all involved - our self, business partner, family. Vacation! No best moment to enjoy life and practicing mindful life but vacation. We can move slowly without any pressure. We eat slowly. We walk slowly. No deadline. We don't push our self to hard. There is life beyond deadlines and excel spreadsheet templates.

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Life is Good: "Live Gratefully" and "Eliminate Drain People"

There are many books telling us how to be happy. They push us to say, 'life is good' while it doesn't seem easy to say so. We say 'life is a bitch' instead.

In this post, I don't want to say that these principles are the best for living a good life. I find it is a very personal thing to walk on our own way and find the perfect rhythm that suits us the best. Sometimes it's annoying when people tell you to do this and that.

What I have been learning on how to have good life.
1. Keep it simple and quick.
2. Reduce options.
3. Stop over-reacting and live gratefully.
4. Eliminate the drain people.

5. Don't be to hard to yourself.
6. Off from technology.
7. Being mindful and live in present.

This post is about on how to deal with mental fight and how to handle people who drag us down. On the last post, on now to treat ourself as a king in our own, nurturing and treating ourself fairly.

3. Stop over-reacting and live gratefully.
I find that complaining whores are the best actors and actresses on the stage of good life! Some people keep complaining about things, even when the air-cond is just a little bit hotter than usual. It's good to complain, because we know things don't meet our expectation. Things are just not okay. But if that's too much, that's impacting us, our mood and happiness. Fact of life: billions of reasons everyday to complain if we want to: traffic jam, waiting time, air pollution, raining, your best friend having lunch with others, your ex forgets you, your shoes are too tight, many more. You name it and it can be a complaint, at the same blink of an eye.

Why would complain on simplest things when we have great life, great family, great food to eat everyday, air to breathe, one more day to live? For me, key is focusing on big great things to eliminate small unfavorable things.

Live gratefully, whores! Life is just as simple as shaking butt.

4. Eliminate the drain people.
This is hard and not easy, but if we do, we eliminate heavy weight. We think relationship and friendship in general are given, so we try to hard, in a nice way, to keep them up even when we find that those relationships have been dragging down us too much. Some relationships cannot be eliminated, while some others are to-do-list. Some say it's anti-social, but it's not.

Complainers, victims, needy, angry, drama queen are the best ones to complete your days with bad mood. We can help them; I always do try keeping them up, keep the interaction with them, talk to them and entertain them. But spending the whole day with those kinds of people is not a good idea, unless we're a super-positive person. My humannes always says I can't handle spending hours with drain people, even when I try so hard to be positive.

My best way to keep myself up dealing with these people are knowing when to stop, instead of removing them from life. Spend time less with them. Manage expectation with them. Communication is the key, as well, so they will understand why they should not drag down everyone, including us.

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Sunday, November 01, 2009

Life is Good: "Keep it Simple" and "Reduce Options"

There are many books telling us how to be happy. They push us to say, 'life is good' while it doesn't seem easy to say so. We say 'life is a bitch' instead.

In this post, I don't want to say that these principles are the best for living a good life. I find it is a very personal thing to walk on our own way and find the perfect rhythm that suits us the best. Sometimes it's annoying when people tell you to do this and that.

What I have been learning on how to have good life.
1. Keep it simple and quick.
2. Reduce options.
3. Stop over-reacting and live gratefully.
4. Eliminate the drain people.
5. Don't be to hard to yourself.
6. Off from technology.
7. Being mindful and live in present.

In this post, it's all about simplicity, the first two. On the second post, on how to deal with mental fight and how to handle people who drag us down. On the last post, on now to treat ourself as a king in our own, nurturing and treating ourself fairly.

1. Keep it simple and quick.
I don't want to say this, but it's true. We tend to complicate things, particularly me. Along the way, I find happiness lies in the simplest things in life.

We automatically add non-added value things into our daily lives and work. We want to look cool because we can think in a complicated way. We think it is smart. If we want to go from one point to another, just take a straight line. That's the simplest. Life and everything is this world is abundant with unlimited options,
so it is really impossible to consider all things.

2. Reduce options.
Having said that this universe is abundant, we can't take all options. We have options everyday and sometimes we over-commit to take all options just because we're afraid of loosing opportunity. We are afraid of saying no. No is just a no, why complicates a simple no? It just is. Too many options will kill us.

I have been trying lately to say no easily when I don't want to. I have been living for years being so over-considerate, but it kills me. My best learning on taking decision (it can be a yes, as well) is that I spent to much time to ponder the decision. Too many what-ifs.

Don't know what movie to watch? Pick the first one that attracts you. Don't know what dress to use? Choose the ugliest one - what a heck. If you're okay with that. But if you don't, pick randomly. Don't like your job?

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Enjoy Life at 30!

For those who have been feeling too old to enjoy life, regardless how old you are, do enjoy life!

Some people really think that being above 30 is hard age! Going to the clubbing for us is 'not for me' statement now, because we think that the place is just full of fucking playful teenagers. We think we are not into it. In our daily life, we worry about what people think about our wrinkles, our hair loss, our big belly, our white hair, our loosing interest of things and many more. You name it.

Worry is the story we tell to our self. We over-reacted it as a drama just to express how bad our life is. The other times we use it to get sympathy. And many times we do it just because we can't control our mind; we unconsciously say that shit over and over again, as a result of years of habit.

And our economy-based life makes it worse. Is my job cool boring? Do I look good feel tortured in a party? Do I take the cool fucking boring subject in university just like my parents and others want me to take? Do I use the wardrobe normally so people can accept my normal yet common boring look? Do I have a sexy butt just like my favorite porn star has?

Life is empty and meaningless. If no one lives, it's empty. If billions of humans live in this world without effort to make it meaningful, it's still empty. It's us who put meaning in life- otherwise it's still empty and meaningless. And having meaningful life is nothing to do with our years of life. Instead of seeing our self as 30 years old doing nothing, just try to see us having 50 years afterward with endless, countless possibility for our self.

Nothing is wrong in this world unless you tell yourself it is wrong. So, enjoy your life at 30. Tell everyone that it is awesome hard age, playful boring and let's see how life changes afterward.

For woman with wrinkle, we love the maturity wrinkle you bring to life!

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Thursday, October 08, 2009

Happiness in Your Work

A man comes toward to two people working for a skyscraper and they are building the foundation of it. He asks, "What are you doing?"

The first one sarcastically says, "What does it look like I'm doing? I'm just moving the material over and over everyday. Boring"

The second one enthusiastically says, "I'm doing the most important thing of building a skyscraper and saving many lives in the future."

So, many people complaining about work and rather than focusing on contribution they are giving to bosses or company, they are focusing on small bad things. There are billions of reasons that we can come up with about the things we don't like about our job. To be fair, there are exactly the same billions of reasons we can come up with about things we're excited with our job. It's just about perception.

So, if you don't like your job, just quit - that's the best. Otherwise, find those billions of exciting things in your job: boss shaking butt or sexy co-worker whose eyes always try to seduce you.

Live high!

Friday, October 02, 2009

Vietnam & Cambodia Journal Sept 09

Getting notification from AirAsia about new route to Saigon was just like a blast in my heart, so it beat so fast I couldn't believe that in just 15 minutes I got email in my inbox, "You should go to Saigon on Sept the 18th!" The quickest decision of travel plan I ever made.

A month before departing to Saigon was one of the confusing time in my life. Being stagnant in my mind, I was struggling with what I really wanted in life. Taking risk was as hard as standing myself on my surfing board, really couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel. While I realized it happened many times in my life, it was one of the worst. I sluggishly lived my days. Everytime I woke up a day after a sleep, I would have expected I had something new in the morning.

And booking the ticket in a blink of an eye was just an unplanned decision I made. Looking back to 9 days I had in Vietnam and Cambodia, I felt relieved. I believe there was always light and joyous celebration at the end of the tunnel. Always.

Being traveled 1500 miles away from home, I forgot how unplanned the travel plan was. But it was just like any other traveler who could always find their ways back home. It's been 27 years living life, I still found it was great to have got the lesson of the roadtrip dad had taught me before, 18 years back on the tiring road from Palembang to Jakarta. Before departing to Saigon, my heart was always being joyful from the first time getting message from Natasha which led my feet into the whopping big boat party with completely more than 60 strangers. Being drunk was just the small part on the opera of celebrating life.

The smile of sweet couple, Alex and Anju, was delightful, even much better than being drunk itself. It was just damn good to meet someone when I felt like a stranger in the city. They are just brother and sister I met, 1000 years ago in previous life. Smiles in Saigon would never be enough without them as well: Adam and Steve, Austin, Kat and other 60 people I met there!

Being far from home, it was always awesome to meet Indonesian, Bill and Yani, that I could talk without being stupid pronouncing English. I was so lucky having difficulty filling my arrival card that I had chance to start conversation with them. Again, from completely strangers to friends that I would always be comfortable to spend the time with.

Packing anything in just 10 minutes and sleeping just 1 hour after boat party to take another journey afterward were just easy to do - faith that in just one hour my eyes would see another beauty in life. I did. Faith that there would always be place to sleep, just like what in Saigon, where Viet graciously offered place to stay in his nice apartment. I did hope to have missed my day tour to Mekong Delta, expecting I still had more days to enjoy Saigon and meet nicest people in there. But I needed to let go.

I joked myself to walk alone in the middle of the night in Phnom Penh and it was the silliest joke the universe ever heard, I guess. THAT laughed so hard. It was just a coincidence that I could walk without being robbed in the downtown of the city. I wasted no time in the city to see how genocide could do that such a worst thing in life, killing hundreds of thousands people without appreciating how joyful a life should be for everyone. How meaningful the time killed people might have spent with loved ones. How precious for a mother to spend the day with her one-month baby, even it was just for couple of minutes.

At least the beauty and charm of two Germans, Birthe and Jana, have changed the whole depressing things in the city into the awesomeness of traveling together for a week. I threw away the hesitation of how awkward the feeling would be being with strangers. They are sisters from far-away land. The awesomeness of Angkor beer was just incomplete without the genuine smile of Putu Resi, an Indonesian girl who had spent time with me planning the trip.

Undoubtedly I walked down the street in Siem Reap with faith that being in the biggest religious place in the world was just incomplete without having a laid-back conversation with monk. Being good to all people was just the confirmation of what I had been practicing over the past 6 months. Karma was just logical thing I started to believe the first time in my life. I started believing that the coolest people in life wasn't Jason Mraz, but monks.

One morning after being so drunk in Siem Reap, I celebrated life quietly at the corner of Angkor Wat, alone with songbird, grass field and warm sunlight in one morning. I clapped hands rejoicing how great life I had, how great life people had.

"For you, there will be no crying
For you, the sun will always be shining
For you, the songbird will keep singing like no more days

For you, there will always be morning
For you, there will always be sweetness to taste
For you, there will always be air to breathe
For you, there will always be smile to keep you up
For you, there will always be moment to cherish

Food to eat
Places to see
Lips to kiss
Beard to shave
Luna and darkness to make you sleep
Past to forget
Future to embrace

Best friend to be with
Laughter to lift your bad mood
Problems to solve
Song to sing

For you, universe will be always loves you"

The 216 smiling faces in Bayon, the 2 days of being in sacred place, the thousands of people from all over the world witnessing how magnificent humankind's creature could be have brought countless blessing in 3 days in Siem Reap.

And it was just as big as countless smile and laughter of the 3 people I met in siem Reap: Ben, Love and Matthias. Cheek to cheek, shoulder to shoulder, ass to ass and hugs were the best way to warm ourselves in the midst of raining, in the middle of the night whilst driving two wheels of moving object in the downtown of the city. Hand to hand, heart to heart, beer to beer. Shaking butt was the coolest thing we did in the city whilst speaking the same language of love. Be in love. 'Poooop' sound created by a bottle of Angkor beer and chopstick was the best way to describe how playful our nights in Siem Reap were. We playfully changed our mind.

I could always find home, back to Jakarta. I hope we can find our way to meet again someday, brothers and sisters! And there will always be a start for traveler.

Happy celebrating life!

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The past is always something to remember

Hopeless faces. Cut-throat of prisoners. The classroom with fully-blooded dead body. Ghostly room with steel bed. The quietness of white-painted wall. The past of Tuol Sleng museum is written on the wall. My one day trip in Phnom Penh is a highlight because of Tuol Sleng museum, a used-to-be school building which lately Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK) used for interrogating, torturing and killing people who against communism revolution.

It was back to April 17, 1975, the first time when CPK initiated revolution of the government, which formerly led by Sihanouk king, and brought the entire country into sufferings and sadness. Their principle is to build their own country without help from outside and apply communism idealism to revive from its disability. Anyone against, or suspected to be traitor of the government, will be kidnapped and moved to Tuol Sleng, or S21, to be interrogated, tortured and finally brought to Killing Field of Choeung Ek to be executed.

Most of Cambodians, who had been in S21 before, were executed and died in Killing Field.

From 1975 to 1979, more or less 20 thousand of people have died, killed brutally in the killing field. Phnom Penh was once like a ghost city when Cambodians went out from the city after Khmer Rouge propaganda that USA would destroy PP just like Japan's Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The mass movement of all its population created famine and disease, whilst people moved out to the village.

No education. No social status. No religion. No religious symbol. No currency. No human rights. Well-educated people were killed because of the threat against the government. No enough food for all people. No right to choose. No right to speak in freedom. No peaceful. What existed was sadness, suffering and cries.

When Vietnamese troops invaded PP in 1979, they found many killed people in S21 and killing field. The city was just like a ghost. That was the time Khmer Rouge surrendered to Vietnamese.

That is the description how depressing the museum is. Very depressing that no one talked loudly or put smile on their face whilst touring around the museum. Since it happened just 30 years ago, the pictures of people just minutes before executed just looked so present. Many more pictures of people died with cut throat, without head, broken face and blooded-body.

If I have only 1 hour in PP, then Tuol Sleng is the best option. It's a story from the past that everybody can learn - that freedom to talk, to choose, to live freely and to choose whatever religion, idealism to believe. It is the highest state of being a human.

Other places to see in PP are Royal Palace, Killing Field of Choeung Ek, Wat Phnom and National Museum. And it's just great to travel around the city with friends: Birthe and Jana from Germany. We ended up the day by having nice dinner at Riverside Bistro resto, which was quite expensive but very nice place. Later on, Puput, CS from Semarang came over to join us.Finished the dinner, I joined Nial, Jess and Micky, local couchsurfers to drink awesomely cheap beers, 50c for a big glass! I got three glasses of awesomeness.

OFF to bed now

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Same Same but Different

September 21, 09 - on the Mekong river in the border of Vietnam and Cambodia

I am on the boat in the border between Vietnam and Cambodia, whilst seeing life alongside the river. The boat is actually full of foreigners and locals. There are around 20 people inside with all bags, uncomfortable seats and hot weather inside the boat. Having said that, I feel awesome.

Sometimes it's just good to feel how life here in a very rural part of the world. And whatever happens in physical world is the reflection of our mind game. So, I feel so good, welcoming sunshine and enjoying this local boat.

Then I remember how easy life was in 7 Ulu Kapitan, alongside Musi River, Palembang, the place where I was born. The fun of swimming in the river. The playful feeling whilst playing with friends the whole day. The quietness of the night in the village. Those are what I imagine now. And I really miss life in the village. Same same, but different.

And the feeling whilst moving from one place to another is really great. It's just like opening the gate to other great things in the new place. I don't know things I'll see in the next few hours, but I'm excited to do so, whatever it is.

And it is a mix of fear, excitement, worries and everything. Heart is pumping quite hard. I really like it.

Okay, in 3 hours I will be in Phnom Penh. I'm getting so excited particularly with the story about people killed in Khmer Rouge era, when Pol Pot lead the country. This genocide happened between 1975 to early 1979, when hundreds of thousands Cambodian being tortured and killed.

Enjoying warm breeze in the border, OFF to sleep now.

Note: crossing border to Cambodia from Vietnam thru Mekong Delta is easy. USD 41 2D1N tour will bring you to some spots in Mekong Delta, stay overnight on the boat (which is awesome!). A day after, they will take you to the border and to Phnom Penh. All administrative work for visa on arrival will be arranged by the tour and VOA itself is USD 22. And same same is cool words I have been hearing quite often when I was in Vietnam.

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Saigon, Where Beauty and Awesomeness Are Caught in the Same Blink of an Eye

Written on the boat in Mekong Delta whilst relaxing and enjoying river view - Sept 20, 2009

Spending 2 nights in Saigon was just so awesome. I'm on the boat somewhere in Mekong Delta now, giggling imagining how fun, crazy and relaxing the city was.

The first day I arrived in HCM, I was welcomed by the warmth of Vietnamese smile. Mr. Khai, which is Viet's driver, picked me up from the airport to his apartment. Viet used to be my ex-boss in P&G and he graciously opened up his apartment for cheap bastard traveler like me. Not only did he open up his door for me to stay, he opened up his refrigerator; full of beer and wine, as well. But since I went out a lot, I only managed to drink his Budweiser.

If you were in the city, I might have been drunk in your apartment, Viet. :)

The one day city tour in HCM was awesome. It all started in Pham Ngu Lao, a backpacker street in the downtown of the city. It is basically street full of hostels, tour agent and bar/resto/cafe. Spending just 1 hour in this crowded area, I booked everything for my one day trip to Mekong Delta and Chu Chi tunnel trip.

Then the smile of Mr. Khai welcomed me again somewhere on Pham Ngu Lao street.

Rest of the daytime, I visited some must-see spots in HCM. Independence Palace is the place where the head of this country lived and led its people. It is basically full of rooms to welcome high-rank guest from other countries, to conduct meeting, dinner and some other government occasions. The place itself was initially used by former South Vietnam government, which was controlled by America.

On April 30, 1975, the troops from Northern Vietnam, called North Vietnamese Army (NVA) invaded the building, took over the formal government led by USA and pushed army to get out from the country. That was when Vietnam reunification started.

The highlight in Saigon for me is War Remnants Museum. If I had only 1 hour and needed to pick one place to see, it must have been only this museum. It tells story about the sufferings during USA colonial repression. They co-led with South Vietnam government to build its position in South Vietnam, with Saigon as its capitol. Later on they changed Saigon to Ho Chi Minh, after reunification.

What special in this museum, on top of story about USA colonial repression, is the story about Agent Orange and the suffering it created for that particular generation and one generation ahead after USA threw that toxic chemical material to Vietnam land. It killed many people, created birth defects to many babies and destroyed healthy environment. The museum itself is a bit depressing, but worth to visit though.
The rest of the daytime I visited Notre Dame church, Post Office building and Ho Chi Minh museum. The first two are the buildings made by French, which was built under French colony started on 1883. Notre Dame is very nice, standing in the midst of business district in the city. Post Office with its interesting detail inside is good as well. I sent postcard to a close friend. You know who you are. :)

As for the lunch, I brought Mr. Khai to try popular BBQ Pork Broken Rice in Nguyen Du Street, opposite to Coffee Bean Metropolitan, right at the Notre Dame Church. The place was recommended by Viet and Willy. I tried Pork BBQ + Chinese Sausage + Pork/Egg Paste + Vegie Soup and Passion Fruit - a full of awesomeness in very hot day in Saigon.

In the evening, I met Bill and Yani who are Indonesian I met on the plane to Ho Chi Minh a day before. We went to Natasha's Boat/farewell/birthday party, which was on the boat on the Saigon river.

There are crazily around 50 people, most of them are couchsurfers, having great time with all drinks, foods and positive party attitude. We ended up the night until 5 AM in the morning, doing club-hopping. I managed to sleep only 1 hour at Viet's apartment. I headed to Mekong Delta in the morning.

Very relaxing day in Mekong Delta - most of the time I am on the boat, at the back of the boat - stretching, laying supine.

Having said that I had great day tour in Saigon, it was just nothing if I didn't meet great people in Saigon. Mr. Khai with his warm personality of Vietnamese. Viet, who I couldn't manage to meet, who graciously offered his very nice apartment for a cheap bastard traveler. For all couchsurfers I met on the party; Natasha the superstar, Alex 'pa*e ta ch*tt*' guy, Anju 'the only member of tonic-tonic club', Adam and Steven who were the party magnet, my lovely gin-apple juice friend Kat, and many more couchsurfers who brightened up my day in Saigon.

I had a blast there and I hope you too have a blasted day! My last words in this note: drink responsibly. :)

Have a blast!

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