Day 58 of 365 grateful days project:

"I'm grateful that we will be moving to a better place TOMORROW."

It's a busy day today. We're preparing for our big moving day tomorrow to a new better place in Umalas. It's only 10 minutes ride from our present house and the building itself is smaller than the one we are living at the moment, but it's got a beautiful, beautiful garden. And jacuzzi. In the garden. Yay!

We decided to rent this house - or villa, as it claims to be - long time ago after our trip to Sidemen (remember my birthday and diving trip?) We compared the house we were staying in Sidemen with the one we were living in Seminyak. The Sidemen house was also a much smaller house, but all around it was so green and peaceful and lovely - not very surprising since it's located at a very strategic spot by the foot of the moutain. Of course it would have been too much to expect that there would be many places in Kerobokan that had such an excellent view. But really, a garden would have been enough. Also we thought it would have been a better place for Mouche the cat. She never really had a chance to explore outdoor world. And she will never now. :(

Anyway, it's still exciting to be moving out of this house. There had been more pain than laughter taking place in here, and both Vincent and I could use a little more spark in life. The new place is expensive for our budget but I hope and think it'll be worth every penny.

Here's a YouTube video Vincent found on the house we will be moving to tomorrow.

Day 57 of 365 grateful days project:

"I'm grateful that Vincent is back."

These past two weeks felt like two months. Time went by sooooo slowly. But nothing matters anymore. He's here.

Day 56 of 365 grateful days project:

"I'm grateful to have such a nice new haircut today."

Do you remember when I had my hair dyed RED 2 months ago? I looked like this.

I knew I should have had a new haircut to go with the fashion red colour, but I was already too excited to even make that attempt. The hairdresser told me that it would stay red for 2 months, then it would turn copper. He was correct. Starting from early this month it changed to copper, and still looked good on me. I was planning to have a haircut to match it.

Today, I thought it was the right time to do it. Vincent is coming back from France tomorrow and I want to look different. So I went to my favourite hair salon and had my hair changed to this.

Nice, eh? You can't really see my highlight there because I was using one of instagram's filters but you have an idea of the new hairstyle.

Now I'm definitely ready to welcome Mr Boyfriend back! Yay!
Day 55 of 365 grateful days project:

"I'm grateful that I get my fast internet back!"

You simply don't know what you miss before it's gone. I was working while I was in Surabaya for Christmas and my brother nicely lent me his modem and internet line. But oh how slow it was! Apparently he didn't have the same internet connection as he did in July. This time, browsing for one single web page took forever. Very frustrating when you had deadlines waiting.

Anyway, back in Bali and at home, back to fast internet. Life is awesome again.
Day 54 of 365 grateful days project:

"I'm grateful to be back in Bali after the Borneo and Christmas trip to Surabaya."

I had great time during the Borneo trip and the short Christmas one to my mom's in Surabaya. I spent the whole time coughing madly and no matter how many cough syrup bottles and other meds that I took, I never seemed to get better. And for the first time in life, I threw up every time the cough attacked. Yet, every moment of this holiday mattered. Borneo took my mind away a little bit of the unfortunate event we had with our kitty and my family kept me busy with their incredibly idiotic jokes and rude Surabayan-style madness. Kabuki, the only pet left in my family after Zwartje and Mouche passed away, looked healthy though his fur was falling off. Note to self: get a vet check him for any skin disease.
Kabuki, Zwartje's son
A giant fly digging into the ground for, I don't know, lying its eggs?
This is not a macro picture. The photo is sharp as it is because it I've ever seen in life.
The holiday would have been perfect if Vincent had been with me. But it wasn't bad at all, either. Anyway, it still feels nice to be back home.
Day 53 of 365 grateful days project:

"I'm grateful that the year is almost over."

It would actually have been a very good year if Mouche hadn't died. It crushed me to pieces as my baby got diagnosed for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) at the very late stage of her sudden intestinal infection. I never even knew before that AIDS attacked cats, too. Or any other animals for that matter. It would sound like another excuse for stopping the blog for a while... but I wouldn't joke about death.

However, I'm back blogging. Hopefully to write the things that I can be grateful of these past weeks when I didn't blog.
Day 52 of 365 grateful days project:

"I'm grateful to have found out this link that lines out why photographers can't work for free."

I'm not a big time photographer. The business started at a very slow pace and although I got tons of requests for photography quotes in the beginning of it, not many were actually meaning to spend much money (or even little) for their event/business or whatsoever. Some even got the guts to ask me to do work for free because we were "friends." And suddenly I've got more people whom I'd never spoken to more than three years claimed to be my "friends" for the free shots. I appreciate clients who try to negotiate my price, but not those who want free work. How could a photographer make a living if everyone wants services for free? Do you go to a dentist, ask him to fix your teeth, thank him for doing it for free then walk away?

This was one of the causes that made me struggle to build a photography business, despite the fact that there are abundant so-called photographers who perhaps have better photography equipments than mine but use merely Auto function most of the time and spend more post work on the computer. This was one of the causes that sadly put me down and forced me to find another way to make money - writing and graphic designing - to actually make a living. Not that I don't like doing those two, but I just much prefer photography.

And if you go to Indonesian photography online groups and forums like, you'll see why this trend emerges. Many, many beginners are willing to shoot for free, which is naturally fine, I guess, for their learning process. But you get what you pay for. And clients should stick with them if they don't want to spend money. The thing is when you ask someone who earns their living solely on photography to work for nothing for you, that's just mean selfish.

Anyway, people can only try, right? If you can get things for free, why not just try? But you see, the problem I was having as the person asked to donate my photos was how I could turn down these requests without sounding rude and ruining my reputation? Well, the link I provided above puts all my thoughts perfectly without trying to overwhelm a potential client. The author, Tony Wu, makes it available for free to use for photographers and also for other creative workers like graphic designers, programmers, musicians, writers (did I tell you that my articles were stolen too?), painters, etc. after they make their own adjustment.

If you find this useful, you can take it too and provide a link back to it as the original source.
Day 51 of 365 grateful days project:

"I'm grateful that I had finally won against my fear of deep water."

We dived!!!

Because of my inconsistency in blogging my 356 grateful days project, I missed to state one of the most awesome highlights of the year: my lovely birthday trip in Amed and Sidemen.

After my devastating 31st birthday last year - not how I spent the day, but this referred to my feelings back then - I decided that I didn't want any party this year. Vincent actually didn't either for his birthday, but his family was here in August and they threw him a nice birthday party in their villa. He couldn't escape his own birthday party, could he? But before anybody was thinking to throw me any party, I told Vincent that I didn't want to have one. Instead, I wanted to travel. He said, "Great idea, we can do that."

So we packed our bags and went to Amed for our first diving experience. Especially for me, this was a big thing. I was once that little girl who was running about in my grandparents' house and fell into the big underground water tanks whose lid was open and had water phobia ever since. I remember before I was twelve years old, I had to get my mother to wash my hair every.single.time. She'd get me to face the ceiling as she shampooed and rinsed my hair. If any drop of water was slipping through my forehead and reaching my eyelids, I'd immediately panicked, screamed and gasped for air. Only in 2007 I managed to beat my water phobia and learn to swim. And 28 August 2011 marked the day when I finally dived. Something that was out of the question with me before. But I did it anyway!!!

I was proud of myself.

Yes, indeed in the second dive I was choked at the bottom of the sea, most possibly because the fried squid I ate for lunch half an hour before wanted to escape my throat. I coughed it out, lost my primary regulator, managed to get it back but couldn't clear the water at all! I signalled the dive instructor that I had problem with it, he tried to fix it, but water still came in. I couldn't breathe for a period that I thought the longest time I held my breath in my life, and when finally I realised I had nothing but salty water for the next forever, I grabbed, scratched and chocked the dive instructor. He took us to the surface after he managed to get away from my violent strangling action, and let me tell you, my friends.... I've never felt so RELIEVED in my life EVER. I'd never been so grateful for the oxygen; the cheapest, most important yet often taken-for-grated thing in life, until then! I spent the next two minutes crying out loud while floating, throwing up tons of sea water out of my stomach and taking as much as air as I could into my lungs. But then a question was posed by the instructor. Did I want to go back to the beach or did I want to go back down the sea?

Although my first thought was that it was so mean to ask this kind of question when I hadn't even finished puking, I knew that I had to answer that anyway. And after like 5 minutes thinking - that was long by the way if you were floating in the middle of the sea - I decided to go back down the sea.

I was proud of myself again.

My throat fucking hurt and I couldn't stop coughing even when diving, but I tried to distract my attention to the beautiful fishes, the ruins of a small ship and the feeling that I was safe with these two guys. It wasn't a very long journey, but the satisfaction that I actually chose to go back to the sea after I thought that I was gonna die was incredible. For a water coward, I felt very brave.

Anyway, we went back to the hotel very, very tired that day, but we definitely got such unforgettable memories.

Practising at the pool before diving in real.
Just before our first dive
Finding Nemo
That was me, during the few seconds when I let go the hand of my dive instructor. Hehe
Vincent, a natural first time diver


holding seastar
Day 50 of 365 grateful days project:

"I'm grateful for having decided to travel to Borneo this December."

After sulking for a few days because again, this year I'm not going to spend Christmas with Vincent, I came up with a positive side of the whole thing: that at least I didn't know it last minute. One of my last year's resolution was to travel more this year, with or without Vincent. And I have completed that by going to Menjangan Island in the north west of Bali and diving in Amed for my birthday. They were super nice and each was a new experience. But there's nothing that could beat the thrill to get out of the paradise island and explore a whole new place with totally different views. So Garuda Indonesia was on promo on all domestic flights and I spent the whole evening to find a cheap ticket somewhere....

That's right. I had no idea where I should go. I wanted to go to the eastern parts of Indonesia but the flying cost was still way more expensive than if I take a flight to Singapore, for example. Leave alone the accommodation and the living costs. :P So when I saw that flights to Balikpapan were discounted like crazy cheap, I booked a return ticket there in December. Yay!

I'll be alone traveling there and that's fine with me (though perhaps not with Vincent). But that really can't bother my excitement for December.

Now, I need to work hard to save for my trip. Yahooo!!!
Day 49 of 365 Grateful Days Project:

"I'm grateful that I'm finally done post-editing the photos of APPMI annual meeting."

There were like about 1000+ photographs and after the first sorting, I'd be delivering approximately 900 photos to APPMI (Asosiasi Perancang Pengusaha Mode Indonesia) or Indonesian Fashion Designers Association. That was a lot and exhausting. But as usual, working with visual things, including photography, pump me up. Especially this event... every time I opened a photo file on Photoshop, I'd have to giggle. We have seriously funny fashion designers in this country!!! Check out some of the photos below. I'll post more on my FB page.

Gotta love their styles
Looks like candid, right? But it was not. They staged this pose. Hehe..
And they brought sexy male magazines, which both male and female designers alike loved.
The photographer loved it, too.
As usual, I tried to get at least one photo of myself. This one was inside the elevator with Anastasia Hoeng,
a designer from Jakarta.
This is Eny Ming, inside the hotel room.
She owns a boutique on Jalan Legian, Bali.
The second night was the most fun time during the gathering. These designers went mad on the dancing floor
as well as the stage of G-Terraz restaurant and how my stomach cramped from non-stop laugh!

So... it was tiring, but the post production was more tiring. But then all in all, it was such an awesome experience and I made so many friends in such a short time. Good luck, Indonesian Fashion Designers!!!
Day 48 of 365 grateful days project:

"I'm grateful that I'm fine after the earthquake."

A 6.2 richter scale earthquake shook Bali at 11.30 today and I was scared to death! As usual I was working alone from home and without any subtle warning, the ground shook hard. I quickly realised that it was an earthquake and started calling Mouche the cat. I spent about 2 seconds looking for her before realising that she might be in a better hiding place than I was. So I just rushed outside on my own. I was about to step out of the porch when broken roof tiles flew off over my head and I knew instantly that I wouldn't be safer from the falling debris this way. I heard my neighbours scream as more roof tiles broke and I was really not sure if I should be inside the house with chances of the ceiling fell over me or outside with the violent flying debris.

Fortunately it was over before anything chunky fell over my head. It was reported that at least 50 people were injured from the earthquake, most of who were highschool students.

I decided that outside was better than inside, since repeat quakes were most likely to happen for this scale. So I quickly took a shower and went to Inga's place in Sanur. On the way there, I had to stop in front of Carrefour on Sunset Road because of this:

God has a funny way to show us how little our problems (that we think are big) are.
Day 47 of 365 grateful days project:

"I'm grateful to finally find out whether or not I will be with Vincent this Christmas."

Trust me, it was not that easy to come up with the grateful line above. What I'm feeling now is more like sad than grateful.

Our last guests were leaving and Vincent asked them if they would be in Nancy, France for Christmas; if they would, then he'd see them there. They said yes and naturally asked whether I would be there too. Vince said no.

I guess I already knew that I wouldn't be going based on our present financial record. But we never discussed that it was decided as such, while in the beginning of the year it seemed like I'd be going. But then again, there are always many plans and very little effort to make them come true. So why surprised, right?

I think the shock came because I had to hear it in front of other people. And for a weird reason, I thought I was being stepped up. And that made me feel that there was some distance between us, shown by our lack of communication in this case. I actually always believed that we had good communication. But somehow, for more important issues, we both seem to try to avoid talking about them.

Which led me to question things again.

Anyway, just so that there is no misunderstanding, I'm not dying to go to France. Yes, it'd be nice to revisit it, but that's really the last thing that should be in my priority. Christmas, on the other hand, is one of the very few important events for me. This is the time when we should be spending with our beloved family, which actually makes it a reason enough for Vincent to spend it with his mother. After all, that's the only time they can be together in a year while I have him the whole year long. But then who am I then?

I am a girlfriend.

Why can't I bring myself to remember that at times? I've been too busy playing house that even I deceive myself that I'm someone more.

I hope nobody thinks that I'm blaming anyone, because I'm not. And I was actually touched that Vincent later on said that we could work on it if I did want to go. But what's the point of going to Europe for 2 weeks, probably stranded at his mother's house most of the time because the snow is too thick outside, and then coming home totally broke?

The bigger issue here does not lie in the travel. The bigger issue is - to me at least - what we are and where we are in this relationship. Vincent likes to go with the flow, and if I were 22 instead of 32 I would prefer going with the flow, too. But I'm done with going with the flow. I need directions!

Ideally I'd like to spend my life forever with him. But if forever is not possible, I'll just settle to "as long as we can take." But who knows... maybe long is not that long...

I must be fucking PMS-ing! This is why I don't like to think. Everything looks fine for a long time now and there must be always something to make it not fine. Bugger!
Day 46 of 365 grateful days project:

"I'm grateful to have one of my pictures as finalist in Planete Femmes photo competition held by Alliançe Française."

It didn't win to be competed in Paris judging panel, but it was quite a boost for my confidence. Made me want to go out again and make photos.... which was a good timing. I felt like I was losing some of my passion lately. :P

So here is the photo of me and the finalist photo titled "Menunggu Pembeli Poci. (Waiting for Teapot Buyers)." The photo was taken in Tegal when I was teaching there for a year in 2006-2007.

At Alliançe Française Denpasar with the Finalist photo
And here is the chosen finalist photo.

Menunggu Pembeli Poci
Day 45 of 365 grateful days project:

"I'm grateful for having seen Frente in a concert."

Do you recognize this lyric?

Every time I think of you 
I feel shot right through with a bolt of blue
It's no problem of mine
But it's a problem I find
Living a life that I can't leave behind

Or perhaps this video will refresh your memory?

Well there is a huge chance you don't even know Frente. Vincent had never heard of this band before, neither did his cousin Joanne and friend Aurélie who were in Bali at the time. But I grew up loving this song and this simple Australian band during my teenage period. So when Aliki told me that they were having a concert with no admission fee at W Hotel Seminyak, I went there with Vincent and the guests.

The lead vocal was not how I remembered her. But it's been 17 years or so since I heard from them the last time and I am not that naive teenage girl, either. But they still sounded fabulous and I was absolutely grateful I could have that chance to see them perform live. They brought back memories. :)

The following are the photos I took during their concert.

Day 44 of 365 grateful days project:

"I'm grateful for my newly dyed red hair."

Not that new. It has been 2 weeks that I had my hair dyed. Before the 18th of October, I was a hair dye virgin! I chose the brightest red, which made some people in the beauty salon raise their eyebrow, but to me, why colour your hair at all if you'll be unable to see the difference? I asked for a highlight instead of full dye (only Rp 50,000 difference in cost which actually tempted me to have it fully dyed) but it was my first and I'd like to see if I would be comfortable with hair colour other than black.

I was actually very happy with the result! In fact, I feel more comfortable now with simply tying my hair messily because it'll look good anyway with the red highlight. This photo below was taken right after I got my hair dyed. Nicely combed and styled. But really, I like it more messy with simple round hair rubber tying my long hair.

I'm actually thinking to have my hair cut a little short now, or style it differently than this boring bob.
Day 43 of 365 grateful days project:

"I'm grateful for Vincent's sweet email this morning."

It says:


  1. Select all the lines
  2. Press Ctrl+F (Search)
  3. Type 6
  4. Press enter
Totally made my day. :)
Day 42 of 365 grateful days project:

"I'm grateful that the APPMI annual meeting I take photos of is almost over."

At G-Terraz, Closing Dinner
Day 41 of 365 grateful days project:

"I'm grateful for taking photos of the annual meeting of Asosiasi
Perancang Pengusaha Mode Indonesia today and tomorrow."

Day 40 of 365 Grateful Days Project:

"I'm grateful that Vincent is wearing my ring now."

It's not gold, leave alone platinum. It has no diamond like the ring he gave me. But I gave it with all my heart. 3 years ago he gave me this nice ring - or two rings I must say, because they're supposed to be worn together - as, I don't know, a way to express his commitment in this relationship? Only this year when we celebrated our third year anniversary in Menjangan island, I thought of giving this silver ring as the anniv gift.

It does have a deeper meaning for me, though. I'd never in my life given any guy a ring, or any type of jewelry in that matter. And let me tell you a secret, I did almost propose him. :-O But it didn't happen because when he wanted to put on the ring, it immediately fell off his finger because it was like 3 sizes too big! So, I went through the horrible anxious moment of wanting to propose, but all fell through in one second the ring jumped out of his finger. Moment's lost and I doubt it will ever happen again.

I still love the fact that he's wearing it every day, though. That strangely fulfills me in a way.
Day 39 of 365 Grateful Days Project:

"I'm grateful to have attended my first Balinese wedding."

Kadek and Kadek
I've been wanting to photograph Balinese wedding. For both the experience and the photography portfolio. I've offered this free photography Balinese wedding service in my Facebook page for a while but only a few days ago I could finally complete the wish. Kadek, one of Fabio's domestic helpers, got married to her long time boyfriend, Kadek. Yes, they are both named Kadek. :)

I wanted to be there by the time the ceremony was performed, which according to the bride would take place at 3 or 4 PM. So my sister and I left at around 1.30 to Klungkung, the groom's village. Only half way to Klungkung it started raining very hard and we had to pull over and put on the raincoat. We arrived there at about 2.30, where the ceremony JUST ended. Apparently they held it earlier than planned and it really didn't matter that the guests who lived far away weren't informed. Another funny thing was that in the wedding invitation it was stated that the event started at 5 PM. So this means I still have to attend another Balinese wedding ceremony to get the real portfolio done.

However, I liked some of the photos. It was a very modest wedding. The only people wearing makeup and fancy kebayas were the bride and the groom. Others were wearing white ceremonial kebayas and nothing else artificial. People were relaxed and they threw jokes most of the times. I liked attending weddings like this, when every one was actually happy and not stressed out. (Trust me, a lot of weddings display too stressed, unhappy bride and some others are so business-like) So the following are some pictures I shot during the wedding.
Decoration outside the gate, made of Janur (palm leaves)
Kadek, the Bride
Kadek, the groom - tired from the long procession
Snacks, given to guests as soon as they arrived
Dogs celebrated the wedding, too
Left: Kadek and Gede, a shy boy who didn't want to have his picture taken.
Right: Decoration from Janur
Finally got Gede's face when he slipped
My sister and a black Balinese dog that reminded her of Zwartje. Except that this one bit her on the neck!
All in all, it was a truly fine wedding.
Day 38 of 365 Grateful Days Project:

"I'm grateful that Kabuki, Zwartje's son, started to eat again."
He'd always been with Zwartje since the day he was born. They were inseparable. The day Zwartje died, my mum kept Kabuki upstairs while she let Zwartje in the house. So Kabuki didn't, fortunately, witness his death.

After Zwartje was buried in our front sort-of yard, I asked my mother to let Kabuki wander freely in the house. I thought, of everyone, he must have been the one that was the saddest. He never spent a minute without his father. So he would need more attention from us more than ever. According to my mum, he kept checking every room looking for Zwartje and he refused to eat. The white dog with black spots was obviously very, very sad and stressed out.

Yesterday I got a call from my mum, saying that Kabuki had started eating again. Not a lot, but at least he ate. Apparently he had developed a fondness of my niece, Michelle, and the feeling is mutual. Michelle likes sharing her food and Kabuki would eat from her. I was happy to hear that. It will take time to heal this ugly wound, but it looks like everything falls into good places. Now I've got no reason to not concentrate on work today.
Day 37 of 365 Grateful Days Project:

"I'm grateful to have guests in the house at the time I'm down. They give me a reason not to bury myself with excessive sadness."

The truth is I only enjoy having guests at my place only very occasionally. Last year there were so many guests coming that I felt that my privacy was intruded very, very extensively. I had no time for myself, I couldn't be free in my own house, I couldn't concentrate 100% at work (which is at home, by the way) since the guests would demand attention every now and then, and I also think it was one of the many reasons why Vincent and I grew apart at that time.

But this time is different. Yes, I pulled myself away from everyone when I heard the terrible news about Zwartje, I didn't get out for dinner or simply socialise with the guests, I stopped worrying about what my client would think about the web designs I proposed to them that day, and I just sank my face in the pillow and wet it all over. The next morning I was still shaking and couldn't exactly face people. But a call from my mother changed it a little.

One of my biggest worries was my mum. Zwartje was her real best friend. He was the closest she could ever get with anyone after my father died in 1997. I was wondering how it could sadden her when it already saddened me as such. Yes, she sounded very sad on the phone. But she also sounded as if she accepted the fact. She actually sounded grateful that she had had Zwartje for all this time - instead of sounding miserable how she could go on with life without him. It calmed me down in a way.

Then when the guests - a couple one of who is related to Vincent - came back from their surfing activity, I managed to sit down with them for hours on the couch. As usual, I always feel the need to entertain guests because really that's the way it should be. If you dare to host, you should be ready to entertain. Anyway, it was uneasy at first because I had such a mixed mood. But after half an hour I managed to gather myself and I could even pop a smile. I was surprised with my own discovery, but pleased anyway. By the end of the evening, I felt much better (perhaps also because of the delicious nasi padang we ate for dinner).

I am blessed. Even during my darkest time.
Day 36 of 365 Grateful Days Project:

"I'm grateful to have had such a nice, loyal, lovely dog - Zwartje - for the past ten years."

I remember bringing him home for the first time. He was only two months old or so, completely black and handsome, and my mother fell in love with him instantly from the first sight. He always belonged to my mother more than us. Nobody loved him like she did and vice versa; and it was all with very good reasons. Zwartje was the nicest, loveliest, friendliest, most loyal family member we've ever got in our life. His dark fur colour and deep bark might have scared people the first time they met him, but compared to any other dogs we have had in the family, he was the one you would expect the least to bite you.

He passed away yesterday and it breaks my heart so much I can't stop crying. It doesn't seem like I will stop crying in the next fortnight. I know he was old. I know he had a good life. I know he knew that he was loved. And I know I had done everything I could to save him from the heart problem. I shouldn't regret anything; yet I still can't seem to stop the tears from falling. I just know that I'll miss him very much. I already do and I always will.