Tuesday, November 17, 2009

satria's wedding & jalan-jalan jakarta

Someone once quoted that IUJ is like a mini UN. We have students representing about 50 countries at any one time, and this coming from a graduate campus that has a compact size of not more than 250 in total.

The fact that we have friends from all continents of the globe was one that we lived and breathed while doing our Masters degree. Now most of them have returned to their home countries upon graduation, and are living lives which are impacting businesses, governments and NGO's.

It was nice to see that my Indonesian friends have settled down nicely back in Jakarta when I paid them a visit recently. When we went our separate ways after graduation, I had to accept the fact that I might not bump into them anymore.

Even when the wedding invitation came from Satria, and I was happy for him, I was a bit hesitant due to my current situation. I would have had no qualms about reserving a flight on the spot if it was otherwise. I jokingly told him that I would not be welcomed in Indonesia due to the recent Ganyang Malaysia plan which somehow arose from misunderstanding between these 2 neighbouring countries.

Because Eugene made a call to me personally and assured that we would be taken care of, only did I decide to go. So I booked the flights, made arrangements with other ex-classmates and took it as an opportunity to take an even longer extended break! (while trying hard not to feel guilty)

This would be my first wedding invitation overseas, and a delight actually because of the kinship with all of them. I remember Satria who attempted to cook porridge for me when I fell sick during my first winter in Japan. I think I recovered not because of his cooking, but because I was really amused at the effort he took (^.^)

So even if I had to use "future" money, this was still a once in a lifetime affair and besides, great excuse for a reunion with the rest of the gang too. May flew in from Tokyo just a few hours after me, and we caught up with Sirilak who managed to arrange a business meeting in Jakarta with her boss in Thailand. Our senior Rizzqi and his wife were also there.

Ricky, Eugene and Arie, co-hosts for the bridegroom took very good care of us, making sure we tasted the best Indonesian culinary could offer and even brought us out to Bandung to visit the famous Kawah Putih crater lake on a packed weekend. To me, it was truly royal treatment!

I never expected anything out of going to Jakarta, other than witnessing Satria's special day. I even told them I wouldn't mind if I had to sleep on the floor as long as I had a roof over my head. To our surprise they took us to a hotel at Pluit, known to be a Chinese Indonesian area. It was very decent, and came with free breakfast and commendable service.

I felt so touched that they went to lengths to ensure we had a comfortable stay, that I did not want to leave Jakarta. I cried a little was almost at tears saying goodbye at the airport.

Even though I can't fully repay them for their generosity and warmth (but I hope to be able to reciprocate when they come over next time) I brought back with me these lessons :
1) To be a better host to my foreigner friends. When I was hosting Yuri and Geoff, I had just returned to Malaysia myself and since was still adapting back, was very new at bringing people around despite all the wonderful things I've talked about Malaysia in Japan.

2) To be appreciative more tolerant of Malaysia's traffic condition. I don't know if Jakarta has one of the worst traffic in the region, but I really salute their drivers for being sane and cool despite the ridiculous honks and bizarre driving skills! You need guts to drive in Jakarta, that's for sure. The closest analogy I know of are the Penang drivers who have to look out for the motorbikes that weave in and out of traffic as and when they wish.

Amazing what seemingly spontaneous trips can do. Totally no regrets going off like that, even if it meant breaking my principle of not visiting a country twice!

Oh, speaking of international friends, I was also invited for a wedding of another MBA friend in Laos, which falls on the 18th. Yes, that's tomorrow! Really wish I could go, especially since I've never been there before, but flights are really too expensive, and I have something big coming up real soon ;)

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