Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A Kid with Big Fishy

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On my story to Krakatau, I did tell you that I “crossed path with the most gigantic non-whale fish I ever seen with my very own goggle” — right?

Well now, I’d like to talk more about this.

No, no, I didn’t change the script. I still have no evidence. The photograph is still non-existed. I was fool enough to get down the water camera-less, fool enough not to borrow any from my friends who got GoPro back then, or AT LEAST, any camera from ANYBODY who were swimming around me—yes, I was that fool.

Then the story has been left unveiled. I get to swallow what I saw all by myself. I’m feeling like Harry when he escaped from the graveyard in “The Goblet of Fire”—returned from a shocking scene he just witnessed with his very own eyes, only to be blamed by everybody about Cedric's death. But our things are different on so many level. Mine is real, and the struggle to convince people is, real.

I failed reassuring in real life, but who knows if I can succeed here?

It was in an island called Labuan Cabe. One of many pearls scattered throughout Mount Anak Krakatau. As usual, to get away from those amateur snorkelers, I swam around the area alone. Far away from the boats, far away from people who was floating with heavy, fat life-jackets. Maybe it was like, around one hour of swimming, until finally I heard the signal that our time was up and we needed to return to the boat.

Labuan Cabe from my camera

I, of course, reached the boat a little bit faster than anybody else. But seeing people still struggling to drag their sea-turtle-weighed body back to our station, I eventually ran out of patience and did some more swimming—you know, rather than doing nothing and just wait.

So I snorkeled just nearby. Just around the other boats, around other people, with shallow seabed, and... This gargantuan fish swimming still by the shore.

I stopped moving. My eye caught his –not sure tho if it was a male or female but, let’s just say it’s a he. His size stunned me. His flat figure reminded me that I saw that kind of fish at least once on TV, but my logic was distorted due to fear. Fear, because he was just there, floating like a dead body-less fish head, not moving either, being the biggest thing I ever seen in my underwater life.

Well I swam with whales in Philippines but that was totally secured, with guides, and fishermen and stuff. Plus, it was a whale. Everybody expected whales to be big, so I was mentally prepared before I dived back then. This one, was A FREAKING FISH! A fish in adult pig size, apparently existed just near the place we were swimming—who would’ve not panicking!?

The fact that I was alone, accidentally spotting him without prior warning, and that he was just there, petrifying –I had this terrible feeling that he might have been shocked too, seeing me seeing him, and he was planning to attack in 3… 2… 1—I left as fast as I could. As a matter of fact, I was literally screaming in panic. Salt water rushed into my snorkeling pipe, filled my throat but fuck I don’t care, I have to fucking run away from fucking here.

I told everybody about that fish. They seemed to trust me, but they also laughed. It was like being a kid again, when I tried to tell my dad that I just saw a Godzilla following us when we were driving, then he obviously pretended to be scared and told my mom to take cover—only to make it seem like what I saw was real, and he believed it.

Those kind of responses stopped me from telling more about the fish. But I promised myself that I would definitely see that fish again so I can proof to people that I didn't tell a lie. But then, long ago I also promised myself not to visit the same destination twice so—I changed my promise to AT LEAST, make myself sure that the fish I saw, was real.

So I began my observation.

Collecting pieces of my memories about that fish –it was ruined, really, his color, his figure, I was too frightened by the size and his eyesGoogling “largest fish in Krakatau”, “largest fish in Indonesia”, browsing anything I could do to find the best visual to restore my mental picture of him. A guy I met on my trip to Krakatau said that it could be an ayam-ayam fish, but when I googled that, no, it wasn’t him.

I met a dead end. All keywords I browsed didn’t match with that fish. Until today, several weeks after I left my case untouched, I came back with smarter mind.

And smarter keyword: “Largest Fish List”

Wikipedia appeared with its page. I opened it up, felt nervous, and finally stopped scrolling when I saw a picture of “The Ocean Sunfish”.

Because well, this is it—it's him.

Obviously, what I saw was smaller than these. Pics are from here, here and here.

I swear, this is just what I bumped into. The size, the figure, it all matched. I didn’t remember if he had dorsal and ventral fins but—I swear, this is him. I opened the links to all types of fish mentioned on that page in Wiki, but no, nothing came closer to sunfish—because I swear, this is him. So I dig deeper about this fish, and after reading sentence “The species is native to tropical and temperate waters around the globe”, I stopped reading—that's when I'm sure enough to swear, that this is him. Or at least it's close to him.

Well this is the best I can do.

I don’t have the visual proof, I can’t even make sure the real name of that fish, this is the best I can do and I hope it’s near the reality.

I hope it was really a sunfish that I stared at,
I hope there’s actually a sunfish living in Sunda Strait,
And I hope I’m right about what I saw because otherwise—

It means that I’ve been telling a
Stupid kid nonsense

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Flying Solo

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When I was younger, I’ve always had this huge desire to explore

By myself.

Vicky Amin presents

I remember when my family and I went to Singapore 7 years ago. After we called it a day and headed back to the hotel, I asked for my parents’ permission to go out on my own –while my younger brothers decided to eat fried chicken and watch Smackdown at their room. Mom and dad agreed, and I went to Clark Quay. I can’t ever forget about that moment. When I rode the MRT, asked the staff where particular places were, asked strangers to take photos of me, damn, I felt like I was ready to take off of my home and rule the world.

Then I started my annual solo traveling habit. MalaysiaThailand, VietnamCambodia, Philippines, and finally Hong Kong–Macau. It was all crazy, really, like, if you ask me which one is the best, I literally can’t answer.

But if you force me to answer, with cold dagger lingering on my throat, and blood slowly bursts out of my Adam’s apple –shit man, I’ve seeped too much inside the Game of Thrones, I gotta say that, the best solo traveling moment actually came from inside this country.


From my “Conquering Indonesia” mission.

I met so many people during my international solo trips. Like, hundreds of them. Whether I knew their names or not, I literally met and talked with people from everywhere.

Knowing that I was traveling on my own, on such young stage of life, they were impressed, yes. But that’s all. After that, we kept on talking like nothing spectacular had happened to me, like travelers normally interacted. Because solo traveling is not a big deal for them. It’s common. Everybody from their country does that—even they have done that many times.

Then back in my country.
Where solo traveling is considered as, well, peculiar. Some say it’s crazy, some others say it’s desperate –oh what a narrow-minded, corny persons they are, and the rest of them say it’s… Mesmerizing.

Harapan was my first experience. I was grouped with originally twenty people, half of which was a bunch of stupid high school teenagers so I would only say that by that time, I was joined to a group of eleven. Aside of me, the other ten came literally in a couple. So basically they had a company. I, eventually, got called ‘Hachi’ by them. You know, that lonely honeybee hutch? Yea they called me that.

But that didn’t make me down. I was psyched instead. Those people saw me and looked after me like I was their youngest brother –well, I WAS, the youngest of all eleven. They talked to me, offered foods to me, make fun of me being so lean and lonely—after all, I went home bringing new friends more than anybody else in the group.

Care to guess which 10 people I did make friends with?

One month after, I went to Pahawang. This was even better. A bigger group, of 32, but since it was split into two boats, I only got to know half of them –which was good, because on the other boat there were these flamboyant boys I really wanted to punch and this fat girl whose mouth I would want to shut with a duct tape. So what made the trip better?

I personally knew these people even deeper than the ones I met in Harapan. They were originally a group of people knowing each other pretty well, and they welcomed me as if I was one of them. Talked to me, offered foods to me, make fun of how I slept like reclining Buddha—I swear at this stage, I fell in love with joining an open trip.

The rest of the group were drinking coconut somewhere on the beach.

Oh I was right. Because the best thing happened in my Krakatau trip. It's a whole bigger group, consisting of several different smaller groups, and all of us shared one same boat. So the rumor about me being the only one who came down there alone, spread like virus. Making everybody impressed, and curious about why on earth would I decide to hike Mount Krakatau with strangers.

And I literally talked to each small group. Groups that were not interacting with other groups, because they only wanted to hang inside their group. But since I wasn't a part of any group, they came to me. Talked to me, offered foods to me, make fun of THEMSELVES, for not being brave enough to do what I had done so many times—and I swear at that stage, I was so proud of myself.

I miss my strangers.

Oh well, Tricky Traveler.
You surely found where you belong.

I may have said this too many times but, I really like traveling solo. I really enjoy meeting new people. And how they will judge me about my self exploration. But nothing beats the joy of seeing their face in either amaze, wonder, or worry, when I start telling them my adventures.

Honestly, my mouth is getting tired of answering question "why do you like traveling solo?" and answer "because it's free, and I don't have to wait for anybody, and I can be mad to whoever I want if they're slowing me down because they're not my friends" has been spilled too often.

But I never got sick of that.

Because that question is where everything begins.
It's a cue that will lead me to a deeper conversation,
Stronger relationship and of course, eventually, a new friend.

And after all,
That's the beauty of
Flying Solo