Monday, July 6, 2020

It Finally Begins

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Seven months.

Seven, fucking, months, oh for crying out loud - oh, yeah, I won't bother typing 'fucking' as 'fvcking' anymore because I've had enough I DON'T WANT TO BE POLITE HERE!? That's how long we F1 fans had to wait for the first race of the season, from the end of last year's.

This fucking pandemic is getting really out of hand. It RUINED everything. Oh, like totally everything, but since I'll be talking about F1 in this post, let's just stick to only F1-related stuff.

So to begin with, I planned to continue my 4-year-streak of watching F1 live this year. It was either Australia or Vietnam. Australia, because I still have a valid visa that will expire this year, and Vietnam, because it'd be their very first Grand Prix. But the outbreak got worse by the beginning of March, and so AustraliaGP canceled. Okay, let's see for Vietnam, I said to myself. But the outbreak got even worse and worse that flights are canceled and events are even canceled-er and so, VietnamGP of course canceled-est!

WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK!? But hey that's not the worst part. I've mentioned the worst part: with all these canceled Grands Prix, we had to extend our vacuum of F1 intake for another four fucking months, and so in total we had to wait for SEVEN, FUCKING, MONTHS!

Phew, okay, I've let go all the steam.
Now let's get into the better part.

F1 Finally Begins

To be honest, I prefer the 2019 version of the opening theme but
I don't want to complain because F1 IS HERE!


After GP by GP announcing their cancellation, we've come to the ultimate fate that the Formula One 2020 season would start THIS JULY, with two Austrian GPs back-to-back as the grand opening. Lol, yea you read it right: TWO. Weird. But for God's sake who cares about the quote-unquote weird formatting -- we no longer give any shit because we've been needing any kinds of racing action! ANY! Lol okay chill, Vick.

So yea, this was it. YESTERDAY, was it. The day we've been waiting for, after seven fucking months of waiting painfully. I got to admit that four months stuck in a self-quarantine was like an emotional rollercoaster ride to me with its ups and downs about many things in life that sometimes I forgot that I needed to watch F1. But when this week came, and everyone's euphoria sky-rocketed like crazy, I just realized that WE'VE BEEN MISSING THIS SHIT SO BAD!!!

I lie if I tell you that I didn't freak out when the race day finally came. Because I did, freak out like an old lady. Usually I had this annual watching-together with some fellow F1 fans - hi Arga and Chita! - for Australian Grand Prix but thanks to COVID, this year we started the season only through group chat. But the tension was the same lol because I swear we talked and screamed a lot - virtually - and flooded the group like crazy. From practices to quali, the nearer we got to lights out, the talkier we became.

And finally it was lights out.

MY LOOOORDDD I'VE MISSED THIS SPECTACLE!!!
Pic's from here.

Ugh my heart, felt like it exploded! WE HAVEN'T HAD LIGHTS OUT FOR 7 MONTHS OH MY GOD I WAS TREMBLING TO FINALLY SEE IT - too much? It started so smoothly, this Austrian Grand Prix, a bit disappointing to be honest, because we wanted crashes didn't we? Ha ha.

Not long after, drama starts: Max's P2 ended with, an electrical fault (?), giving a Merc 1-2 yet again which I would not love to see... oh, yes, if you're new to my F1 approach, I'm not the biggest fan of Mercedes' dominance. I'm rooting for Bottas, still, because he's the 'underdog' worth to support there, but as for collective Mercedes, I'm just not up for it. So Max's failure was such a loss to me. But not as much loss as Daniel's retirement. He failed too and seriously, I lost my appetite from there onwards. I thought that was it for the race, I'm done, I don't want to continue, but thank God I didn't make that stupid decision. Because other teams are WORTH rooting for.

Especially Racing Point. They had been oh so promising throughout the weekend. Said to be the Mercedes of the past. I was so joyed to see them, Checo, specifically, and it just felt so awesome to watch them fighting on top-tier grid, given their last year's not-so-fulfilling performances. He got a bit too fired up though, I guess, because at some point during a pit he sped up and almost hit Norris!

Ferrari was fun to watch too, because, admit it, you want to see them challenge Mercedes. So them starting weak was more like a good-guy-losing-first kind of moment that made us want to wait for whatever they had under their sleeve. They were slow-but-surely-rising, well at least for Lecrerc, as he started midpack then slowly gained position... Vettel on the other hand, ugh, well, I still feel bad for Vettel - the one versus Carlos, which sent him all the way back to the bottom.

Let me show you some turmoil my friends and I had during the race.
This is after Vettel had contact with Sainz.

Back to top, Mercedes' gaps with the others were totally unbelievable. They seemed untouchable, making me wanting some dramas so others could come closing in. Hamilton charging from P5 to P2 - partly thanks to Verstappen out, closing in with Bottas and constantly keeping the gap below 1s was, surprisingly, nerve-wrecking to watch. Because I would want the Finn to defend his place.

We're not even halfway done yet. In fact, it was about to get better. Especially when God gave us something even crazier: two safety cars - or more? - with highlight on the second SC, where Perez on P3 decided to stay with medium tyres while Albon on P4 switched to soft. It freaking created an intense prediction of who will conquer whom and apparently, the drama DID HAPPEN BECAUSE ALBON OVERTOOK PEREZ, but then he slowed down for yet another yellow flag - this time for Kimi - AND PEREZ TOOK BACK HIS P3 LIKE OH MY GOOD CAN WE BREATHE A LITTLE FIRST!? Fucking crazy I couldn't stop screeching like a rat!

With Kimi out, we had seven DNFs already! Seven!? Verstappen, Ricciardo, Stroll, Magnussen, Grosjean, Russell, and Raikkonen. Plus Albon and Kvyat toward the end, it all came to a total of NINE FREAKING DNFs! This gave me a side excitement remembering that this season's newcomer, Nicholas Latifi, WAS STILL ON THE RACE and could possibly GET A POINT! ON HIS DEBUT RACE IN F1!! AND DRIVING A FREAKING WILLIAMS!!? My God, there were just so much dimension of fun in this race alone, and honestly, I LOST MY GRIP MOST OF THE TIME, MY FRIENDS AND I STARTED TO MAKE TYPOS AND IRRATIONAL SENTENCES IN OUR GROUP CHAT!

Another fun stuff? Hamilton's downfall, thanks to his own mistakes. See, he should've started the race from P2 but got 5s penalty for not slowing for a yellow flag during quali. Then he succeeded in finishing 2nd for the race, but got yet another 5s penalty for his contact with Albon -- which leads us to something so worth talking about: I'm not a big fan of the Thai guy, BUT MAN I FELT SORRY FOR HIM!? He was like, the podium was just around the corner for him but then, it's Brazil 2019 all over again!? AND WITH THE SAME BAD GUY AGAIN!?!? Crazy.

And this is when Lewis(a) crushed Albon's chance to win.

Now we're reaching the end of the race. Bottas was clearly getting it, he was fast though kind of slowing down - him and Lewis kept scoring fastest laps, but towards the end, Lecrerc got it and finally it was Lando who came out to be the fastest... something's wrong, Mercedes? Hamilton was P2, but he got that 5s penalty from crashing with Albon. Charles was P3, and Perez was P4, but they'd be P2 and P3 once Ham's getting his penalty. IT COULD'VE BEEN A VERY COLORFUL PODIUM with red and pink on top, but guess what--PEREZ ALSO GOT A 5S PENALTY FOR SPEEDING UP ON THE LANE - the one where he almost 'kissed' Lando.

I was like, WHAT THE HELL!? So Hamilton gets P3?? I feel like this is it. FIA is vouching for the celebrity. He and his team was allowed for that DAS thing, then he was almost getting away with the yellow flag drama if it weren't for Red Bull's protest, and now this!? How can we stop him from benefitting??

But guess who saved the day: Mr Lando Norris. Snatched the third podium from the reigning champion. Finishing somewhat just point two seconds faster than Hamilton. POINT TWO!? GOSH, IF HE WAS SLOWER BY JUST POINT SOMETHING SECONDS THE PODIUM WOULD'VE BEEN DOMINATED BY MERCEDES AGAIN!? Oh my God he was such a savior. And not only for his last-minute gig.

Norris, along with McLaren, had been pretty amazing throughout the weekend - at least to me. Both he and Sainz made it to Q3, securing both P4 and P8, and even better, the milk guy got promoted to P3 for Hamilton's penalty. THE KID STARTED THE RACE FROM THE SECOND ROW! Then during the race they've been showing some constant performances, resulting in a podium and a P5. Amazing work, McLaren's, really. Their growth was just so pleasant to see, especially since we've  all seen them during their dark ages. They deserve this big win and that celebration of their team, ohh, such a delight to see!

Our reaction was as happy as those on McLaren's garage.

And there you go.

A race that we've been waiting for for seven months. SEVEN FUCKING MONTHS. On Saturday I was a bit hesitant because it would seem to be yet another Mercedes 1-2 score, with only Max as our trump card to spice things up - because both Ferraris were a bit on the back. Who would have thought that the result would come up like this???

Dang, man, I really can't wait for the next one.
Same track. Same drivers. Same day next week.
Some would say it's boring, I'd say it's exciting.

Because it'll be like revenge for many of the drivers.

For Max, for Daniel, for the others who did not finish, for Albon - OH MY GOD I WOULD WANT TO SEE HIM CHALLENGE LEWIS LIKE RIGHT NOW, for Latifi to actually score a point, basically, FOR EVERY ONE!

Seven months.
Seven, fucking, months, oh for crying out loud.

This color combination... I'm sincerely hoping that from now on, podiums would be
as colorful as this! Even with other colors! Pic's from here.

It finally begins. And it's
What we've been waiting for.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Around The World: Complete

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Long ago,

Well, not that so long ago though.

Back in 2017 I think, I discovered a book that I’d consider as the “Best Book Ever” at least for myself. It was not really a new, novelty book with breakthrough approach or what not—no, really, it’s an old one. A title so popular, I didn’t even realize I was so much exposed to it yet I took it for granted.

A true classic,

“Around the World in 80 Days”


Even until today, I’m still amazed by the book.

The 80-day trip done by the protagonist throughout Europe, southern Asia, a bit of southeast Asia to the east, and finally back to America, well, it might sound just, normal. But realizing that the book was written in the 1800s, and the fact that the author hadn’t ever actually been to those places he wrote, dang, it just blew my mind!

It was only natural that the book really inspired me to do the same. Obviously I couldn’t do the 80 day version because while Phileas Fogg had all the leisure of time -and money- to accomplish his ambitious goal, I’m here just a regular Joe who has a job to be responsible to, works to do, and limited money to take care of.

And so I did improvise a little, and twist that “Day” element from the book to something more realistic to achieve: “Around the World in 80… Months

Lol seriously this is such an imitation to my similar previous post, but I just achieved a milestone and so here I am telling you guys this shit again.

So back to the project.

80 months.
It all began in January 2013,
My deadline is supposed to be August 2019.

Throughout those time span, up until I made that very goal of mine, I’ve been to literally so many places: Bali and Singapore for so many times, Malaysia, in Kuala Lumpur and Penang, then Thailand’s Bangkok, then amazingly jumped to the US, to New York and Washington DC, then back to Southeast Asia again in Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City, Mui Ne, Nha Trang), Cambodia (Siem Reap and Angkor), and Philippines (Manila and Cebu), Hong Kong and Macao, Japan (lots of cities!), and Australia (Gold Coast, Sydney, and Melbourne).

It wasn’t until the end of 2017 that I finally unlocked my fourth continent, where I got the chance to visit France in Paris, Strasbourg, Lyon, Nice, Cannes, as well as a bit of Monaco and Italy. In addition to those collection, I added South Korea (Seoul, Busan, Jeju) by the middle of last year.

72 months passed.
4 continents done.

Then came the end of 2018.

Another plan of big yearend trip came, and you knew the story. It was Europe again this time, with whomping number of six cities across two countries lining up my agenda. With Spain I was planning to go to Barcelona, Madrid, Sevilla, Cordoba, and Granada, while in Portugal I felt like it’d be enough with just the capital Lisbon.

But then, I thought of something else.
Something crazy that I knew this was the time to do it.

My plan was to start from the north, so I could spend Christmas and New Year on the more Christian side of Spain. Afterwards I'd move down south, to Andalusia and around, where it's more Islamic. Then it came to my attention that, the southern part of the peninsula, is really close to more Islamic states. Only across the strait, and there it lied, just another country—Morocco.

It was really tempting. The country itself is really exotic. I wouldn't think twice for it would be crazy prestigious to be the first among my surroundings to visit Morocco. Plus, Indonesians don't need a visa to enter. Although, those weren't the main reason why I decided to switch to Morocco. You know why.

It's in fucking Africa.

This was it. This SHOULD BE the call. This could be the only place closest to Africa that I'd ever be. And it was there, just before my very eyes. I had the tickets to Spain already, it was happening, and I'd be a fool if I didn't use this opportunity. And for God's sake I had the leisure of time as I was currently jobless... THIS WAS THE CALL!

I'd do anything to make this happen, so I omit Granada from my plan to make space for Morocco. And I didn't have to be ambitious about it, just make it like Portugal, visit only one city and that should be it. But which one!? Well let's see... its capital might seem boring, its largest city sounded really crowded. So Marrakech it was: the country's ancient capital, and tourist haven.

The verdict? Possibly the best decision I ever made.

Morocco might sound intimidating for some, including me, too. But Marrakech was surprisingly international-minded. Its Arabic touch, with its rich dessert vibes, and massively famous riads, souks, and plazas, blended nicely with safety, enough comfort, and reassuring presence of international tourists everywhere. I didn't feel like stranded, yet I could still taste the authenticity of the place!

But then it was the feeling of achievement that poured over me throughout my visit to Morocco. The sense of self-satisfaction, pride, and glory, that weirdly enough, no one seemed to care or even be aware about it—but still, it was between me and myself, and I nailed it.

I visited my fifth and last continent.

Wow. Never had I imagined that Morocco would be the one championing my dream. It was always either Cape Town, or at least Joburg, where I could still be civilized even in Africa. And I actually had plans to make either one of them as my annual trip for 2019, visiting there on either June or July this year so I would dramatically accomplish my goal on last minute gig.

You just never know what God had planned for you.
All you know is that, you're the one in control of your dream.

I'm so glad I read that sacred book just in time. And I'm so glad I took the best of Phileas Fogg, not seeing him in negative, pessimistic air, that I got inspired instead—something I rarely feel towards other figure, let alone a fiction one.

It was just meant to be.

So here I am officially stating that, 
My ambitious dream project of traveling
Around the World in 80 Months, is finally

Completed

Friday, January 11, 2019

The Iberian Tales

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Once upon a time,

Back in the end of December 2018, there lived an I imbecile boy saying that his "rEsIGnATIoN m4RkeD ThE eND oF 2o!8". Well that stupid guy knew nothing much about his own life, as the milestone didn't really mark the end of that year. No, not even close.

Because little did he know, little DID I know, that the trip following my resignation would turn out to be the yearend's highlight.

I B E R I A   2 0 1 8

Yes, I made it.

Spain, oh mi dios! I've been learning the language for years -though on and off, hot and cold, cheering for its national team for some times, dreaming of visiting its amazing cities, savoring its finger-lickin-good foods, and I finalmente actually freaking made it!

And the timing couldn't be more perfect. A year end trip to celebrate not only the uh, year end, but also to celebrate my freedom after working my ass off and bleeding at the agency for two and a half year straight!

That being said, I had all the time I wish to explore. Fvck those jatah cuti I've been crazy saving and strategically distributing throughout the year, fvck those dreads of getting permissions from my bosses, fvck those guilt for leaving my team to work, FUCK IT ALL HAHA! So yea I kinda lost it.

21 days, for God's sake.

21 fucking days, 3 countries (+2 transit countries), 6 cities (+3 transit cities LOL WTH!?), 10 flights (FUCK I JUST REALIZED HOW OUT OF HAND THIS WAS HAHA), 3 interstate and intercity trains, 1 ferry ride, 7 hotels and AirBnbs, LORD! I must admit that this was a fucking ambitious trip but HEY I DON'T CARE, I'M NOW FREE!

Those facts alone are just enough to make this trip THAT fantastic eh? Well, as ambitious as this trip was, the answer is no -- there were lots more spectacular stuff happened during the trip.

The Itinerary
It began with Barcelona. Gosh, even typing the name makes me feel good. Now can you imagine how I felt to start this amazing trip here? THAT Barcelona, with its beautiful Gaudi things here and there, with its strong Catholic vibes, its ultra-giant-world-class football team, and its intriguing internal problems, oh how I couldn't believe myself throughout my stay. And to be here during Christmas, spending the day inside Sagrada Familia which soon would be the world's largest church, I don't know what else would be the best way to do this...

Then on to Lisbon. Western Europe's other giant. With its classic European beauty, its amazing histories about itself, about its exploration around the world, done by big names I usually just read in text books, then its vibrant seaside life, fish dishes, trams, hillsides, and pastries and on top of all, its OVERALL PORTUGUESE VIBES! Man I've been to Macao three fucking times already, exposed to the claims that they had the authentic Portuguese atmosphere but of course, it was nothing compared to the REAL visit to Portugal. It might only be five days, a rather short time to experience a whole country, but believe me, it was uncanny. I was so attracted to stay longer for the new year celebration, but I couldn't. Because I wouldn't ever miss the party in

Madrid. My next stop, and probably the one that left the biggest impression for the first leg of my trip. Because why, it's the capital. Okay Lisbon is too, but Spain is the bigger country. And so Madrid had it all. From history with its amazing buildings, squares, and old Toledo charms, to nature with its parks and hilltop views, then the city life, the night life, the sporting life with Spain's other gigantic football club, and finally the new year celebration that wrapped it all, WHOA! Someone please stop me otherwise I'll literally write second-by-second details of my visit to Madrid...

Okay the NY celebration was actually my last gig in Madrid -which details I'd tell later down below. Exactly the next day, first day of 2019, I moved to Cordoba, entering the second half of my Iberian Trip which would now be less Christian and more... Moslem. Seriously, I never thought I'd discover such strong Islamic vibe in the country so strong of Catholic that is Spain. Cordoba changed my whole perspective of the country, and during my stays there, I must admit that I felt like I wasn't in Spain at all. It was like a whole new world. Peaceful yet striking at some points. Serene yet keeping a very dark, breathtaking stories under its historical sleeve.

Just when I thought I was totally blown away by Cordoba, Seville resumed its sister city. This was yet another sweet Islamic surprise I really didn't anticipate at all prior my departure for Barcelona. Palm trees, sunshine, Arabic-like palaces complete with Islamic histories, all blended way too perfectly with typical European promenades and efficiency! And oh please don't get me started on the foods because I must say that this round was one of the best compared to the other cities!

Finally, it all ended in Marrakech. The real taste of an Arab world, with no more Spanish touch and European safety, because now I was in Africa. AFRICA, FOR WHOEVER'S GOD'S SAKES! This one turned out to be very emotional because, not only it marked the last stop of my trip -not so last, because after this I'd have to return to Seville only to catch the flight back to Barcelona, because that's where I'd fly back to Abu Dhabi AND NOW YOU KNOW WHY I HAD THE SUM OF 10 FLIGHTS IN THIS TRIP EH? :)- and not only because this was the fifth and final continent I had ever landed on, but also because the whole stay in Marrakech was so full of surprises that every corner seemed to be so freaking amazing! The souks, the tajines, the teas, the desert vibes and striking sunlight despite its winter wind, the modern sides I thought I'd never spot in an African country, the international tourists crawling about the place I thought would be dodgy, OH GOD STOP ME!

The Tours
Lol no, it's not that tour bureau where I was escorted here and there by a guide for my whole trip.  I will never want to engage with those. So by this "Tour" I meant, the additional tour I joined in almost all cities I visited! Mainly, the walking tours.

The free walking tour -that most large European cities usually have- led by real locals, yes, that kind of tour. I did that in Barcelona, in Lisbon, Madrid, and Seville, let myself soak deeper to each respective amazing back stories, got exposed to places most typical tourist would miss. Uniquely, those tours were run by the same operator called Sandemans -whom also ran the one in Paris, which I also joined last year- and they had this amazing deal where I could get a free tour if I collected stamps from doing the free walking tour in at least... four cities! What are the odds, eh!?

So four stamps I got, from those four cities, which I redeemed with this amazing food tour in Seville which is believed to be the origin city where most Spanish culture flourished. And speaking of Seville as Spain's cultural city, I also did the bullfighting stadium tour which was a bit random, but yea full of cultural stories! I didn't get to see the real match though, which I'd say no to anyway if I actually could because, well, I'm a bit against this animal cruelty thing... but anyways!

That wasn't it. Additionally in Barcelona and Madrid, I did some other tours. Not about traveling this time, nor historical not culinary either. It's of course, the sports tour. Yes, say no more, I did the stadium tour in both cities. Because hell yea it's the homes of the world's two LARGEST football club ever! Even if I am not the fan of the club, which no I am not, OR, even if I am the fan of the clubs' arch nemesis, STILL I'D GO! I must say that I had to pay quiet a lot for these experiences, but really, it was all worth it! But you know what, I guess I'd just spare it for now. I'm going to write a dedicated post about these amazing tours so, let's get back to the trip!

The Celebrations
One sole trip, passing through both Christmas and NYE, well, could anything go wrong in this amazing timing? The real-time Christmas celebration took place when I was in Barcelona. Spent the whole evening getting myself swayed by street-choir performances, and half the Christmas day at Sagrada Familia, and then for the rest of the trip -save Marrakech, of course- Christmas vibes and trees and bells and lightings lingered all along here and there and everywhere!

Then came the New Year's celebration. I was in Madrid during this time. Madrid. En la Puerta del Sol. One of those places the media always cover every year for its iconic New Year celebration, aside New York's Fifth Avenue and Sydney's Opera House and Taipei's Taipei 101. Yes I was there, along with thousands other people, mostly, thankfully, were locals. Starting from 9PM the access to the square got filtered with security -of course!- so I got stuck for almost 2 hours just standing in the middle of the alleys, waiting for the gates to open and for those people in front of me flowed in.

9PM, I made it to the square. It was so cold but everyone seemed to be very excited, so I got worked up too! Those locals were ready with their 12 grapes, which based on their tradition should be eaten one by one along with the twelve-ring of bells jingling at midnight. And yes, I had mine too! I was aware about this tradition and so I bought my own grapes just before going to Sol.

12PM. Bells rang, and people started eating their grapes. It was really amazing that, at other places, people would go crazy on the first bell but here, it was so dead quiet for 12 seconds, people busy focusing to sync eating one grape at one ring. 12th bell rang and there it was, the craze of a new year hype, with people cheering, trumpets blowing and of course, fireworks cracking -- one of the most beautiful I ever seen so far.

Wanna hear something amazing? Spain has two time zones: GMT+1 for the main peninsula areas and some other major cities, and GMT+2 for the Canary Island. Being a good capital as it is, Madrid ALWAYS celebrates both time zones and so, one hour after midnight, which I was still amazingly there at the Sol, the clock rang its 12 bells again, people started eating their grapes again, and new year finally came to the region of Canary Island. And it's crazy that the fireworks happened too! Afterwards, music came and the whole square turned to be a city-wide dance floor. Gosh, I don't know if I'd ever experience such thing (again) somewhere else!

The People
Well, this is probably what made my trip reached its pinnacle of being such a wonderful journey. From the very first second of my departure to the very end, I encountered so MANY amazing people from all walks of life! Some relationships with them only lasted for as long as our conversations went, while some others stayed even until I returned home.

The biggest portion came from the tours. Of course. Each of the walking tours consisted of a very big group, maybe 30 people tops. It was just so nice to have a small talk with them, exchange itineraries, encourage each other to visit each other's countries, and so on and so on! Some of them I met twice, I remembered it was an American family of three, which father was the active Teacher's Pet of the group -he always asked question, answered trivias sent by the guides, made jokes, you know, that typical alpha dad, the mother was as active, and their daughter was so so. We first met in Lisbon, then parted ways then apparently took the same tour in Seville!

But the most intimate one was the food tour in Seville -the free one I told you about. It was originally a paid tour, so only a few people joined. There were I think only 5 of us, and it was such a pleasant evening going around from one restaurant to another to try Spain's less popular food and tapas, and getting to know each other even better because there were not so many distractions!

I also had a chance to meet some Couchsurfers, which I made real friendship with, both in Spain and in Morocco. One of which asked me out for a nightclub in Madrid, an opportunity I would NEVER MISS for anything! It started really humble, only me and that guy from London, and then apparently there were others too, some Spanish girls and a Georgian girl -not American Georgia, please take note, and a Croatian guy. We then moved to a bigger club with better music, and the gang got bigger too, with an additional Croatian guy, some Germans and Frenches, even a Taiwanese!

We danced and danced and drank and drank, talked and talked and showed off our moves. I was so secretly filled with joy because, hey, three hours ago I didn't even know these people exist in this world, and now I was standing in a line to one of Madrid's hottest nightclub, talking with a Croatian guy about our shared love towards Taekwondo and letting myself be convinced to visit his country for the famous setting of Game of Thrones! It was so hard to leave them, and they seemed bummed when I said I had to leave, but it was almost 5 already, and I had a stadium tour to do in like 5 hours, so yea, I had to let go of my Nighttime Madrid Dreams.

See?

It was really, REALLY, that good.
More than worthy to be the best trip ever.

Oh how I'm getting tired to claim the trip I just finished as "tHE bE5t Tr!P eVeRr" but seriously, what else can I say? It's always becoming the best trip ever. No matter how dull some parts be, that my previous trips could be considered as a better trip, since I just finished this one then it is simply the best trip ever.

But I don't think there were flaws on this one.
21 days, 3 countries, 6 cities, endless amazingness.

I swear I never did this before, and will I ever have the chance to do this kind of trip again in the future, one never know.

I was totally right when I said that the trip following my resignation, would turn out to be the yearend's highlight. And apparently an amazing opening to a new year as well.

So let's just leave it here.

This Iberian Tale of mine,
Ended oh so well inside out.
That the boy lived the journey
Lived happily ever after

Monday, December 31, 2018

Gracias, Dos Mil Dieciocho

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2018 was "Year of Preparation"
Well at least that's what I said when I welcomed the year.

Initially it was about preparing to living abroad. Preparing for masters degree, preparing for working somewhere outside Indonesia, preparing for THAT!

But then as you know, life usually has its own, preparation.
So instead of preparing for those dreams I've been dreaming for,
I ended up preparing for something else this whole year.

Which apparently, was

Preparing for Greater Goods


As it turns out the term was beyond just around traveling context, or career context, or of course way so far from academic context—it's about all of those, in one.

Let's take a short, one year ride back to the beginning of 2018.

It began oh so pleasantly. In January I just finished my trip to France. My first ever European trip, which I couldn't really successfully move on from. Too grande, too beautiful, and I gotta admit that this trip, along with the fact that I was on the brink of getting tired of my work, made me think that this year would yet be another one dedicated for traveling. And oh was I so true about that!

Throughout the year, after France, I did six fucking more trips! SIX, for God's sake! I didn't even know how I could cope with that! Financially, bureaucracy-wise -giving the fact that my EX-company only grant me one annual leave per month, and more than that would mean that I got my salary cut- not only about the policy, but about getting the permission for my boss, because, HELL, what I do at work, it's a team work so the more I traveled the more I ruined the pace. But then again, I underwent all six trips nicely, with not much drama -as far as I know... So yea all those trips, I guess it helped me prepare myself to be oh so much better in the world of traveling. And negotiating, and compromising, and hard working, GOSH, a lot, really!

Like my trips to Bali. Oh yeah, I did twice of them this year. One during the religious day of silence, and the other one is for a friend's friend's wedding. See those motives, really uncanny, eh? People who don't travel a lot see me as a very avid traveler, that I now am on the stage that I go to Bali no longer for holiday purposes, but for something, greater!

Then my trip to Korea, who seemed to be normal, actually, but giving the fact that it happened two months from Bali, and a fucking three weeks after Macao, damn, my colleagues start questioning me if I was overpaid -which pissed me off, actually, because it wasn't for my salary cuz I had one of the suckiest paycheck on the company so it totally thanks to my saving skill in which I didn't go out and hangout and buy food and snacks as much as they did, GOSH, I feel like I wanted to slap them for saying that.

So yeah, back to my trip to Korea. It was my annual trip, actually, so like any other annual trips I ever done, I haven't been there. But it turned out to be so amazing, so socially and personally powerful that my five-month streak of can't-seem-to-move-on from France suddenly vanished! I did stuff people don't usually do when in Korea, made friends out of my solitary holiday, and it was always been fun to see how people would react the way I travel.

The same thing applied to my trip to Japan, too. Which happened five months after Korea, and only a month after my second Bali. At this stage I really didn't care about how my friends would react anymore, because I think I was already hinting of leaving the company anyway. I didn't care about how many days of leave I needed to request, how much works I needed to abandon, FUCK, I didn't care anymore! And it turned out to be one of the most refreshing escape I ever done. And on top of that, this trip to Japan was to fulfill my thirst of F1 -yet another fucking uncanny reason to visit Japan I bet not a single Indonesian had ever thought about it before, and to have this amazing social visit here and there -which I'm pretty sure NO ONE could ever equal the way I treated Tokyo as if it was my hometown.

And here's one more trip I didn't know would leave a mark on me. I didn't even see it coming: Macao. Not as a traveler, but as an influencer. Gosh, those days of being treated as royals... I just discovered how life as influencers were totally amazing. At first I thought this could be the life I wanted. I've been working so hard building my travel writing career, and being a travel influencer could be the peak of all, and all this shit of "preparation" blah can switch from preparing what I've always tried to prepare, to preparing myself in becoming an influencer. Turns out, it was a silly consideration. The trip opened my mind about how, -should I use that word?- well, unsuitable a life as an influencer to me. The trip eventually prepared myself to become a more, let's say, pure, unfake, and smart traveler I knew I would always enjoy being.

And that, leads us to other things I achieved this year. My fifth book, the one with Australia. It was out this September. Followed by my FIRST EVER DestinAsian article, on October, right before I flew to Japan—see? All this year was all mostly about traveling! And these works specifically, they helped me prepare to be the more ambitious travel writer I've always dreamed of becoming.

But hey, that didn't mean that I ditch work at all. To my surprise, I actually did well on my advertising side. My ideation skill got honed, my presenting skill got loosened, some of my thoughts and ideas were actually come to life that really helped building my portfolio, I got more chances to work with the company's high-ups and with clients, I won pitches, but as the cherry on top of everything, it was when I made it through to Young Spikes finals. It's the fucking major proof that I'm a worthy adman, and it helped me preparing myself to be a better one.

But again, as I mentioned before, it was money that had me thinking twice to stay. My urge to learn and do more of ideation and advertising grew oh so big, and hell yeah Ogilvy could provide me even more. But I got to be realistic, so out was I of Ogilvy—a decision so big and so brave, but I know it's a part to prepare that GREATER GOODS for me so, yeah...

The resignation marked the end of my 2018 journey.

I quitted the company with no fixed plan of what to do, and which company would take me, after this. I just wanted to show the world that I had all the courage to do whatever I thought I was afraid of, and to show that my preparation had been completed that I'm now ready to embark something greater.

So here I am in Madrid, in the middle of my 21-day-long Spain-Africa journey which is the longest I ever done, waiting for the clock to strike twelve and 2018 turns to 2019, unemployed yet celebrating my bravery to move on.

But before that,

Muchas gracias, 2018.I really enjoyed this year!

Whoa.

I've never ranted this much about my achievements.
But I'm sorry I can't help but being so proud of myself.
Because I've done such great preparations all year long.
And I know next year, something big is coming along.

Guess it's time for some
Redemptions?

Friday, December 7, 2018

Goodbye, David

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"And this time I'm convincing myself not to go anywhere else, unless it's for the master degree. I've explored enough, and this company I'm now working at, is too hard to get and too big to ditch."
.
-- an imbecile, somewhat 2 years ago.

And that imbecile, was me.

That's the line I told myself on my second day of work at Ogilvy. Well, did I tell you already? That Ogilvy is actually a company I used to dream of working for.

Since my college days, the name was on top of my list. To work here and live life as a copywriter, was like a combination I'd kill for. When it was time for us to seek for internship program, this company was the one I approached though it didn't go as planned.

No, no, I got the interview call, indeed. It was like only one step to acceptance, then I think my chance got blown away when I told them I only had two months to do the internship—whence they required three -thanks to my already-booked Bali trip, but then, I would never regret it because it became a very memorable trip! BBDO was eventually the one accepted me.

Then came the actual professional phase. When all college bullshit ended and real shit came greeting. Again, Ogilvy was among the first I sent out my -enhanced and super beautified- portfolio. And again, I got the freaking call. I nailed the interview too, I guess. With two expats I remembered them vividly even until now. But their offers weren't really appealing it seemed they looked down on me. Well no matter how much I adored them, I still have dignity no? So I went for SOGO instead.

I quitted SOGO, went for my amazing internship in Japan, and came back home once again, unemployed. And once again too -and I guess I claimed to myself that it'd be for the last time- I turned to Ogilvy for yet another application. This time for the Social Department.

One interview -with both supervisors- nailed. Interview two, now with the boss of social, well, nailed that one too. Final interview was with the creative director, and my senior in college, so I guess I totally nailed that one. Plus two given assignments submitted on time -and on point too, I assume- plus rather smooth negotiation plus a bit of luck this time,

I got the role.

Fuck man, finally. I'm an Ogilvy-an. Three attempts for three different role in just one company, and only got accepted on the third try, well, I guess in this case third time's a charm.

See my fight to get into this company I really dreamed of, wasn't quiet easy. It took me three fucking years! No wonder if at the end of the day -during my first days, exactly- I promised myself that I wouldn't ever want to leave the company unless I was to get my masters degree eh? No other job, no other abroad internship and no other thing could steal my attention this time!

It seemed so easy to convince myself to do that though, at the beginning, because life was oh so amazing back then. I could get to live my dream copywriter life, and at the same time learn as much as I could to be a good digital-social media practitioner slash amazing creative. Overtime works were totally bearable, company benefits were really enjoyable, parties was crazy, and, don't forget about the incredible outing to Hong Kong and Macau that was interestingly exclusive to Social Team only. Yes, others didn't go because it was only us that reached our KPI.

Coworkers were another reason why I enjoyed my life in Ogilvy. Oh my God how we were like playmates at the office. Works seemed like playing, and clients were like teachers we could make fun of on their backs. Things could get tough sometimes, but with them, it felt just fine and, weirdly, fun.

But then I guess good things couldn't last forever, eh?

Tables turned gradually. Good life started slowing down to such sorrowful hole, works became too much and depressing, colleagues began leaving, and I felt like it was getting too much.

I might still look happy from the outside, but I couldn't lie, I burnt out from the inside. I didn't know what held me back from leaving, because everybody else seemed to be doing it so easily. Well I guess I know: it's my super soft inside that kept me there. You know, when you feel like you're so solid with your decision, and then some minor joy at the office -like, making it to an award finalist?- restored your faith for the company and the next thing you know, you procrastinated your resignation.

Well... I guess that's just not all.

It's my old me, me from campus life, me who got rejected for the internship, me who got disappointed for the offers, THAT me who adored Ogilvy so much I promised myself not to leave the company—yes, he was the one who held me back from leaving.

At some point I owed him so much for his struggle to get me this far. At some point I felt like I hold accountability to keep his trust for not leaving. At some point, I just, don't want to disappoint him...

But also at some point, it was him who came to me,
Telling me that it's time to let go of my stupid ego.

So I made my decision.
I quitted from Ogilvy.

It wasn't easy, I swear.
But I know it was the right decision.

I've proved myself that I could get what I wanted, and it meant that I could do that again in the future. And in order to do that in the future, I needed to get out of whatever I was clinging at, no?

So yea all my struggles to get a spot inside the company, all the lessons I've learned from literally everything I encountered there, all the sweats and tears and bloods I shed during my service, all the memories, all the fun, all the laughters, fuck, I would cherish it all.

Thank you, Ogilvy, for those amazing stuff.
And no thank you for the shitty parts, really.

Goodbye.