The US Trip: Transit in Hong Kong

This is the second post of “The US  Trip” series. To read other posts in this series, click here.

As a took Cathay Pacific airline, I had to transit in Hong Kong on my way to Los Angeles from Jakarta. I took the morning flight from Jakarta and it took me around 4,5 hours to get to Hong Kong. My flight from Jakarta to Hong Kong was rather delightful, I slept almost all the time (only woke up when it’s time for a meal :p), and I liked the meal served to me.

As soon as I got off the plane , I immediately searched for transit guide. I could find it easily, but I had to go through some immigration and security check before I was able to enter the departures terminal. I remember queuing for quite a while for these checks, which made me began to feel tired. Walking slowly, I had no expectation when I entered the terminal. Guess what “greeted” me in front of the elevator? This.

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Zara outlet

Wooohooo the airport has Zara outlet! That moment my expectation went up drastically. I began to love the airport already.. and forgot my tiredness, hahaha. My love increased when I found out that it has free wi-fi (with super speed!) everywhere! Near my departure gate, I also found a MAC outlet, two bookshops, some retail shops, and a lot of chairs. That way my transit period was almost like a leisure! I had no problem in killing time at all. Even though I did not shop, but at least I got to enjoy window shopping while killing time.

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Departures terminal

Now, feeling hungry after all those window shopping? no worries at all! the airport has a selection of fast food joints (I think there are some restaurants too.. but I didn’t see it) which can keep you full in between your flihgts. My favorite – the one which also confirmed my super duper love for this airport – is Popeyes! This fast food joint, located in Departures area level 7, used to have some branches in Jakarta, but closed a couple years ago. I loved their biscuits soooo much and I couldn’t help but buy a pack for my snack while waiting for my next flight 😛 Let’s just say my 15 hours flight from Hong Kong to Los Angeles went realllly smooth , partly because of my happy tummy after eating those biscuits 😀

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Popeyes’ biscuits !!!

So.. that’s all for my transit in Hong Kong experience. I’ll start writing my US experience soon 🙂

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Berkunjung ke kantor Google Indonesia

Minggu lalu, saya berkesempatan untuk mengunjungi kantor Google Indonesia. Kebetulan, salah satu teman se-tim saya di Indonesia Mengglobal bekerja disana. Jadi, dia ngajak kita untuk numpang meeting di kantor Google, sekalian office tour. Katanya, Google mendukung karyawannya untuk mengajak teman /  keluarga / kenalan untuk main ke kantor Google dan juga dengan baik hati meminjamkan area kantornya (yang kebetulan memang meeting – friendly) untuk kegiatan after hours karyawannya.

Terletak di Gedung Sentral Senayan 2, kantor Google dari luar seperti kantor pada umumnya. Lobby nya tidak terlalu besar, dengan logo Google dan latar belakang batik di bagian resepsionis nya. Di bagian ini, karyawan Google yang membawa tamu harus melakukan registrasi untuk para tamunya. Setelah registrasi, barulah tamu bebas berkeliling kantor Google. Yak, bahkan bebas masuk area kerja – asalkan masih ditemani karyawan Google yang mengajak. Sebagai tamu, kita bebas foto – foto, asalkan tidak di area kerja para Googlers. Tapi terus terang saya tidak begitu tertarik melihat area kerjanya kok.. bentuknya kurang lebih sama seperti kantor – kantor agency yang saya pernah datangi – tidak bersekat.

Tapiii.. yang  bikin menarik dari area kerja di kantor Google ini adalah ruangan meeting nya. Kantor saya menggunakan nama – nama produk kami sebagai ruangan meeting. Misalnya, Fanta Lemon. A&W.  Coke Zero. Jadi kalau janjian meeting biasanya gini: “Nanti dimana? Fanta Lemon atau A&W?” Tadinya menurut saya, nama – nama itu sudah lumayan unik. Nah, kantor Google Indonesia mempunyai banyak ruangan meeting, mulai dari yang kapasitas 2 orang hingga yang besar. Namanya? Gelora Asmara, Pangkalan Ojek, Potong Bebek Angsa, Capcus, dan banyak macamnya! Seru banget kan? Ngga kebayang kalau ada ekspat yang musti nyebut “Capcus”, atau “Potong Bebek Angsa”… hahaha.. lucu kali ya 😀

Anyway, diluar ruangan meeting yang namanya lucu – lucu itu, kantor Google – seperti banyak artikel yang beredar, atau film The Internship, penuh hal menarik. Apalagi di common area nya. Kantor Google punya banyak common area  yang bisa digunakan untuk berbagai hal, mulai dari duduk – duduk santai, istirahat, mencari inspirasi, diskusi, dan juga, meeting!.

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Cozy meeting area

Oke sofa di gambar saya tampak menarik, tapi menurut saya masih kalah menarik dari area berikut ini…

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Yoga / nap place 😀

Kata teman saya, dia dan teman – teman nya pernah beberapa kali mengadakan workshop yoga disitu. Kalau sedang tidak dipakai yoga? Hmmm.. dipakai tidur siang juga bisa! :p

Selain tempat yoga / tidur siang diatas, kantor Google juga punya area bermain dan berolahraga. Ada meja ping-pong, alat TRX, fitness balls, dan juga excercise mats. Lumayan lengkap kan buat menjaga kebugaran selagi bekerja. Bagi gamers, ada juga sebuah TV layar lebar yang dilengkapi dengan X-Box. Seru yaaa 🙂

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The common room
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Mural in the common room
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Keeping you fit 😉

Nah, bagian terakhir dari kantor Google yang ingin saya ceritakan disini menurut saya bagian paling menarik, yaitu ruang makan! Hahahahaha. Dinamakan Warung Mbah Google, ruangan ini self-explanatory, tempat makannya para Googlers. Udah pada tahu kan kalau karyawan Google dapat makan gratis dikantornya? Menurut teman saya, tak hanya makan siang, tapi juga dari sarapan (roti dan berbagai macam selai tersedia sepanjang hari), hingga cemilan sore! Bahkan, ketika saya datang kesana sekitar jam 7, cemilan sore nya masih tersedia banyak, yaitu mini pizza, brownies, dan lumpia. Bagi saya sih cukup sekali yaa.. hehehe.

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Warung Mbah Google
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Warung Mbah Google

Yang lucu, tersedia sebuah rak kecil yang penuh dengan cemilan khas Indonesia. Mulai dari kripik – kripik tradisional, chiki, hingga coklat superman!

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All you can munch –  Indonesian snacks!

Oh iya, saya juga suka sekali dengan desain lantai dari Warung Mbah Google ini.. lihat deh 🙂

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#fromwhereistand – cute tiles!

Overall, senang sekali bisa berkesempatan mengunjungi kantor Google Indonesia. Kantornya seru, dan orang – orang yang saya temui juga ramah – ramah. Kata pepatah, rumput tetangga cenderung terlihat lebih hijau. Tetapi untuk kasus ini, menurut saya memang lebih hijau beneran! hehehe, habisnya, jarang kan ada kantor yang de-desain khusus untuk menjamin work and life balance para karyawan nya… 🙂

The good in everyone

Yesterday was a long day for me… but it was also an extraordinary day.

It started when I had to go to the immigration office to renew my passport. I was prepared to face long queue because I’ve heard stories that people started to queue as early as 5 AM – even when the office itself opened at 8. Unfortunately I woke up a little bit late and arrived there minutes before 8. Guess what registration number I got? 78. Really, people?!

Since I had nothing to choose, I waited patiently. At around 9 AM, it was already number 50ish’s turn. It’s not that bad, I thought. 20ish people to go. Then suddenly a man came and sat next to me. He asked what number I got, then after knowing that I got number 78, he offered his number, 60. He said his friend suddenly had to leave, so that number was unused. After accepting his number, I offered mine to a woman in front of me, who hold number 94. And she offered hers to another woman, who hold number 100ish. So, thanks to that man and his friend who didn’t show up, I got to save a little bit of time, and so did the two ladies 🙂

In the afternoon, when I was about to left from work, I found out that my car’s battery died and it did not want to start. Lucky I was still in the office, so I could call my friends for help. In the end, Pak Wawam, Taufiq, Kaka, and Disty helped me to get it fixed. Disty even accompanied me to my friend’s house!

I got home at around 10.30 PM, feeling so knackered. But as I lay down in my bed, resting before I sleep.. I can’t help but feeling so thankful. Big or small, I saw the good in everyone. From strangers to my best friends, they made my day and made it so extraordinary! So, thank you! I’m sure it will all come back to you one day 🙂

The US Trip: Pre – Departure

Note : This is the first post of “The US Trip” series – stories from my solo trip to US last year. Some posts (like this one), will be in Bahasa Indonesia, and some in English. Hopefully you’ll find both versions useful and enjoyable! -c

Tulisan tentang perjalanan saya ke Amerika Serikat ini harusnya sudah saya post sejak tahun lalu – segera setelah saya pulang ke Indonesia, di blog saya yang lama. Tetapiiii, banyak hal yang membuat tulisan ini terlambat, bahkan tulisan ini sudah “nangkring” di blog ini sejak bulan Januari! Yah, seperti pepatah yang terkenal “better late than never“, mari kita mulai cerita perjalanan saya ke Amerika Serikat.. dimulai dari “kehebohan” sebelum saya berangkat ya! 🙂

Visa 
Sebagai warga negara Indonesia, saya butuh visa untuk memasuki Amerika Serikat (AS). Walaupun saya sudah pernah pergi ke AS dua kali sebelumnya, waktu itu saya masih kecil – masih ikut orang tua. Kemarin adalah pengalaman pertama saya mengajukan permohonan visa dan juga berangkat sendirian, jadi saya rada deg – degan.

Saya deg – degan karena pasca kejadian 9/11, saya banyak mendengar cerita – cerita betapa susahnya mendapatkan visa turis AS – cerita penolakan yang absurd, juga cerita keribetan untuk apply visa turis tersebut. Jadi, saya berusaha mencari sebanyak – banyaknya informasi di internet, dengan harapan mematahkan gosip – gosip yang saya dengar. Yang pertama saya lakukan adalah browsing website nya Kedubes AS di Jakarta. Karena perjalanan saya ini murni perjalanan jalan – jalan, jenis visa yang saya butuhkan adalah visa turis – yang jika menurut website ini disebut dengan Visa Bisnis / Wisatawan (B1/B2). Disitu juga ditulis syarat – syarat yang diperlukan (tips: siapkan waktu untuk mengisi formulir DS-160 dengan menyeluruh!), dan setelah menyiapkan semua syarat nya, saya pun membuat perjanjian untuk wawancara di kantor kedubes AS di Jakarta.

Pada hari wawancara, saya juga membawa supporting documents yang sekiranya menurut saya bisa memperkuat aplikasi visa turis saya. Yang saya bawa adalah slip gaji dari kantor, buku tabungan, bukti pemesanan tiket pulang pergi (kebetulan saya sudah punya tiket Jakarta – Los Angeles PP sebelum bikin visa), dan juga paspor – paspor lama saya yang ada visa AS nya waktu saya berangkat kesana dengan  orang tua. Last time I checked, tidak ada halaman di website resmi pemerintah AS yang menyebutkan dengan spesifik jenis supporting documents yang harus dibawa – yang penting tiap aplikan visa turis  punya bukti yang konkrit bahwa perjalanan nya memang hanya sementara, murni jalan – jalan, dan bukan untuk berimigrasi ke AS!

Singkat cerita, wawancara saya di kedubes AS berjalan lancar. Saya sengaja memilih jam wawancara paling pagi. Jam 7 kurang saya sudah sampai, kemudian sekitar jam 9 saya sudah bisa pulang. Wawancara nya juga berjalan lancar – jauh sekali dari gosip – gosip yang saya dengar. Aplikasi visa turis saya pun disetujui hari itu juga! Wooohooo! Kabar baiknya, saya dapat visa multiple entry! jadii saya masih punya kesempatan untuk jalan – jalan mengelilingi AS di kemudian harinya. Ternyata, mengajukan aplikasi visa turis ke AS tidak seram, dan tidak juga seribet gosip – gosip yang saya dengar. Hore! 🙂

Tiket Pesawat Pulang – Pergi

Nah, soal tiket pesawat ini rada unik. Kenapa unik? karena saya sudah beli tiket pesawat PP sebelum saya bikin visa! Nekat? mungkin. Tetapi begini ceritanya. Saya memang sudah nabung untuk jalan – jalan ke AS sejak saya mulai bekerja di kantor yang sekarang. Kurang lebih nabung nya 2 tahun! Ngecek website tiket murah hampir – hampir jadi langganan setiap lagi merasa jenuh dengan aktifitas (atau setiap ada godaan untuk mecahin tabungan! :p), tetapi selama sekitar 2 tahun itu, tiket nya belum kebeli juga. Well, selain emang belum cukup uang nya, saya juga belum menemukan waktu cuti panjang yang tepat.

Sekitar bulan Juni 2013, saya merasa tabungan sudah cukup, dan hasrat pergi ke AS juga sudah semakin besar. Karena saya memang seorang planner, saya sudah merencanakan untuk apply visa turis AS, lalu jika sudah dapat, beli tiket pesawat dan kemudian benar – benar merencanakan perjalanan saya. Tetapi, di hari itu saya sedang iseng – iseng browsing dan menemukan promosi tiket dari Cathay Pacific yang harganya jauh lebih murah dari maskapai penerbangan lain. 

Tanpa pikir panjang, saya langsung memutuskan untuk membeli tiket tersebut – karena selama saya ngecek tiket 2 tahun kebelakang, saya belum pernah menemukan tiket Cathay semurah itu.  Kalaupun pernah menemukan tiket dengan harga segitu, maskapai penerbangan nya tidak se-bonafid Cathay Pacific dan mengharuskan saya untuk transit berjam – jam.

Tips dari saya untuk pencari tiket murah, sering – sering ngecek website maskapai penerbangan yang kamu inginkan, jangan hanya terpaku pada website penerbangan murah, karena kadang – kadang promo yang menarik justru bisa kamu temukan di website maskapai penerbangan tersebut!

Mata Uang

Saya rada apes, pas banget sebelum jadwal perjalanan saya ke AS, nilai tukar rupiah melemah dan menembus Rp.10.000 untuk USD 1! Dengan demikian, budget liburan saya terpotong sekitar 20% karena selama ini saya menabung menggunakan rupiah. Ada baiknya, kedepannya, kamu mempersiapkan tabungan dalam bentuk USD sehingga tidak harus terkena imbas nilai tukar seperti saya 🙂

Oke, sekian cerita persiapan saya sebelum berangkat ke AS. Cerita – cerita selanjutnya dalam seri “The US Trip” menyusul yaa! 🙂

#thismonthsmusic – February

Aha.. February, the month of love! (according to Hallmark :p)  This month I’m going to share my top 5 recent favorite love songs.. enjoy! 🙂

1. The Well Pennies – All My Loving (Beatles Reimagined)

2. Boyz II Men feat Charlie Wilson – More Than You’ll Ever Know 

I’m such a sucker for romantic lyrics.. this one has “.. Until this day I still get butterflies..”. Enough said.

3. Justin Timberlake – Not a Bad Thing

and here’s a bonus video for us ladies .. live version of the song! :p

4. The Luckiest – Ben Folds 

Btw.. have you watched “about time” the movie? must see! Set in the UK, the movie has a distinctive British kind of humor – it has made me cry and laugh, one of my favorite movie of 2013.

5. Us – Falling in Love

This artist is a recent discovery. I stumbled upon their youtube channel just as I was writing this post, and fell in love instantly! This song is simply cute , very easy listening!

This year’s Valentine’s day

I like to call myself a hopeless romantic. Romantic, because I believe in happily ever after – knight in shining armor – eternal love and those sorts of thing. Hopeless, because as much as I’ve grown up watching hollywood romcom movies and reading Japanese romantic mangas, I always had to face the reality that none of my previous relationships involved that sort of romance – thus leaving me hopeless :p

Though deep down I still wish to – one day – have my own fairy tale romance, the bitter 27 years old me is forced to bury down that wish and face the reality that nowadays, relationship is good enough as long as you two don’t cheat to each other.. right?

But then I met R. This guy never fails to surprise me. He brought the old me back, the one who believes in lovey dovey romance. On my first day back to the office after my block leave last year, he sent me bouquet of flowers to my office (!!!), because I’ve once told him (way before we started dating!) that I was a bit jealous when seeing a colleague of mine got sent a bouquet of flowers on Valentine’s day. For my birthday he sang me a song, because he knows that it has been in my dream to be serenaded by my significant other.

I know we have our ups and downs, we do have our struggles and obstacles, but he understands that those lovey dovey things are important to me… and he’s willing to do that without me asking for it!

Then came this year’s Valentine’s day. It’s our first Valentine’s day together and to be honest I did not plan anything – obviously we can’t go out, and I sort of think that it’s just any other day. But then he surprised me again! Yesterday, a package from him arrived with Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookie & Cocoa Swirl ….

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Something sweet..

… and a hand made artwork inside.

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Something handmade – he calls it “Coraline Heart”

Artwork! Handmade! Words can’t even describe how happy I was when I opened the package. It really, really mean a lot to me that he’s willing to do the extra miles to make me happy, to make our relationship filled with sweets and joy, despite the obstacles and distance that we have to face.

So, Happy Valentine’s day, love. Although it seemed like any other day to me, but you made it so special, like you always make our every day special (even during our fights! …. errr not, but i still love you :p).  I wish for many more happy and special days together, you and me.

Thank you FaceTime!

If you know me personally or have been reading my previous posts, you should know by now that I’m currently in a long distance relationship. HA. Distance.  Between California to Jakarta, this time. Waiiit.. this time? Yep, this is not my first time being in a relationship that involves distance. My previous relationship also involved distance, I was in the UK and he was in Jakarta. Then I went back home to Jakarta and he went to Sumatra. It lasted around one year. Did it end because of distance? I don’t know. But it was not meant to be.

Anyway.. I’m not going to compare the two relationships here.. but I just want to tell you, it is very easy to be in a long distance relationship nowadays! Yep, you read it right – easy. Now let me tell you my story..

Back in 2010, I had to rely on Blackberry Messenger to communicate. Skype was almost a luxury – given the fact that I only had a Blackberry phone which did not support video calls, and time difference made us hard to find convenient time for both of us to be able to be in front of the computer (not to mention Indonesia’s rather slow internet speed!). Once every week would be a blessing, a ‘quality’ call which lasted more than 30 minutes would be a jackpot!
Of course of course, I have to be fair. Good ol’ Blackberry phone allowed me to send and receive pictures, voice notes, and emails. That’s something.

Now, I’ve been talking to R for almost three years now. We both used Blackberry phone during the first 1,5 years and during that time we also had a couple of times of Skype calls, but after we both changed our phones to iPhone.. boy communicating was easy breezy! Like Blackberry, iPhone has an instant messaging feature, iMessage, which allows you to send text, voice notes, and pictures. But then there’s FaceTime. Our life saviour! Even before officially being in a relationship, we would spend at least an hour every day talking through FaceTime. The 14-15 hours time difference did not seem to be a problem, nor that it is a problem now. His morning is my night, so normally we talk before I go to bed/he goes to work and while my morning is his afternoon, we talk on my way to the office/on his way home from work.

With FaceTime, me and R could talk and see each other without have to spend time in front of the computer. We can do it whenever, wherever. Even with the new iOs 7 launched late last year, FaceTime now has Audio version, which is like a regular phone call, without the video. Makes it even easier! If previously I had to (at least) find a quiet place and decent spot so we could FaceTime, nowadays I could just use Audio FaceTime when it’s not convenient for either of us to use video. YAY!

I know being in a long distance relationship is not the ideal situation.. but if you have no other choice, might as well work your best to make the relationship work, right? Let me tell you, with the help of FaceTime, I have less things to worry about. Now why don’t I use Skype? or other messaging platforms? Simply because we both happen to use iPhone and somehow FaceTime’s connection is more stable than Skype, or other platforms’.

To end my story, here’s a snapshot of my latest #thankyoufacetime moment. It was taken last Sunday night Jakarta time (Morning in California), and we were talking before R decided to play basketball. He then decided to “take” me with him because the park was empty and he missed me  we still wanted to talk –  at first he was just sitting in the bench and we were talking, when suddenly his phone went off and he had to charge it. Lucky the park has an electrical socket put conveniently, so he could place his phone, charge it, while let me watch him shoot some balls 🙂

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The one where I watched him play basketball!

Though it was only for a while, seeing him playing basketball made me so happy! I know there are a lot of moments that I had to miss because of distance, but I finally got the chance to see him doing one of the things that he loves. I guess that was one of the things that made our long distance relationship easier. Just like what’s written in Apple’s website, FaceTime really made me feel that I was there in person, even though I was not. So thank you, FaceTime! 😀