Let Me Tell You A Story, About My (Travel) Life in A Decade (Part One)
Posted on January 25, 2020
In 2009, I lost my Dad, the moment that sit on the first place for my most devastating moment in the life. The second place was when I had been rejected by my first love, followed by losing my cat in the third place. At that time, I was clueless, I had never experienced this kind of sadness –losing someone that I love, a real one, because I cannot see him again, forever.
But the real pain was not that, since I am the only child, the situation when I saw my mom crying after losing her true love, really really broke my heart into pieces. To make it worse, it happened a week after Mom’s 40ish birthday.
Since 2003, I had a long distance relationship with Mom and Dad, because I was accepted in a college in Jakarta, while they decided to live happily in a beautiful place, called Ungaran. Six years later, or three years after I worked in Jakarta, this tragedy happened. My world crumbled in a second after receiving a phone call in one fine night, or it was a one fine night (I just came back from my girlfriend’s house) before the call.
“You have to come to Ungaran.” My neighbour who never communicate with me before, phoned me. You know, a phonecall in the night from your relatives was never be a good news. It was either a bad news, or very very bad news. “Something happened with your father. He was taken to a hospital this night.”.
“Rif?” It was a long silence before I continued to talk. “Are you okay?”
“Is he still alive?” I asked, but he did not answer me properly.
“You will meet him tomorrow, the most important thing is, you have to come home as soon as possible.” After that phonecall, with the help of my girlfriend’s relative, I booked the earliest flight to Semarang, and in the middle of my journey to the airport, many conversations entered my Blackberry, “RIP for your father, deep condolences.”. As a geek, I really hated technology at that time.
I spent two weeks in Ungaran after that moment, making sure that Mom was alright after losing Dad. Sometimes in the night I heard her crying, sometimes I did my own cry, and sometimes we were crying together, in harmony. I wish that I could make a duo with Mom at that time with the name of Loneliness Crying Squad (and sure you can name many better duo than us), but we realised that maybe, yeah maybe, God had a bigger and better plan for us.
As time passed, I realised that people are not dead, they just transformed from reality, to a memory.
Memory is something that is eternal, while reality is temporary. We have to overcome the sadness in order to live in the reality. It was hard, but it was not impossible, in fact, it was easier than making Asmirandah to be my girlfriend. I tried many things to live without Dad and to put a smile upon Mom’s face. To make us happy.
2010 – Me & My First Passport
It happened accidentally, I never thought that I will travel abroad at that time. Born and raised in middle class family –my parents were civil servants who just started to settle the life after forties, I always think that traveling abroad is a luxury thing. Sometimes Dad went abroad for official purpose with his blue passport, but never brought his family. “It’s too expensive.” He said. Rather than spending the remaining travel money for traveling with family, Dad always saving some for Mom’s spending money, also for my pocket money. I can say that I was unlucky enough because I cannot spend that limited amount of money for traveling.
So, how did it start?
It was because my best friend, who suddenly told me that he will go to Singapore next month. As an Indonesian, I asked him a common Indonesian question “If you go, why don’t you take me?” and he replied by telling me that if I want to join, I have to make my own passport. Luckily, I live in Jakarta, Indonesia, and making a passport is not a hard thing to do. With a help of passport-making scalper, I got my first passport in two days. Thanks calo paspor, I never forget you until the end of my life.
That was it! I started my first travel journey by visiting Singapore just like many Indonesian tourists, took many photos (with me on it) in every corners of Singapore just like a newbie Indonesian travellers. It was me, Indonesian, just being Indonesian. My first journey, taught me many things. I learnt that traveling can make me happy, teach me how to communicate with people in different languages and how to survive in many circumstances, also wash away the pain for a while. The pain of losing you.
If during his life Dad cannot take me abroad, now after he passed away, he can make me traveling abroad. Thanks to his pension fund and the inheritance money. Astaghfirullah, please forgive me, Dad.
2011 – Inventing Mamacation
What I got from traveling, really made me addicted to it. In 2011, my only income source was from my office salary (I am sorry Dad, we spent the rest of the money to buy new car for Mom), so I have to plan wisely every time I want to travel. Thank God, we had cheap tickets from Air Asia back then. By cheap, I really meant real cheap. I got one way ticket to Phuket only for IDR150.000,- one way, return tickets to Penang for IDR 225.000,-, also got three continuous tickets to support my backpacking trip to Thailand (Jakarta – Phuket, Phuket – Chiang Mai, Bangkok – Jakarta) only for IDR750.000,-.
Thank you Air Asia, you made everyone can fly, and made everyone became a backpacker. One level higher than begpacker.
Time after time, journey after journey, I realised that traveling really made me happy. Seeing new places other than office’s cubicle, meeting new people other than friends and families, trying many foods other than Warteg and Nasi Padang, also communicating with foreign languages successfully gave me meaningful experience and opened a new horizon for me, the introvert person. Maybe it was God’s plan for me, to make me a better me. To make me happy.
God created the earth, and traveling, is how we appreciate it.
For me, happiness is made to be shared, and sadness is created to be enjoyed alone. Since Dad gone, I did many things to make Mom happy, from changed Dad’s car, went home every month, teased her to find a new man, to bought a cat to accompany her. Until one day, an idea popped up “Hey, why don’t I take her to travel with me?”.
And that was the beginning of Mamacation, a personal trip that I arranged especially for me and Mom. Started in Malaysia, now we have traveled to many countries like Singapore, Thailand, China, Hong Kong, Brunei Darussalam, and Uzbekistan.
2012 – Backpackstory Was Born
There are two things that changed me. One is traveling, and the other one is social media. Thanks to social media, especially Twitter, because I learnt a lot of things from Twitter. From Twitter that I started to use since 2009 (Yes, I played social media to escape my hectic life in the office, along with my sadness in real life. But then I realised, that social media is not a game, it is bigger than that), I met many influential people that taught me many things, I developed my soft skill in writing and social media marketing there, also it helped me to explore my potentials as an introvert.
If I looked back to the time when I was in Ungaran, I noticed that I inherit two habits from my parents. Dad worked as a researcher, so he used to write his report until late at night, while Mom liked to travel –even though not far, but she did not like staying at home in weekend. Small world war often happened in my house every weekend when Mom asked Dad to go out for a fresh air (read: mall), but Dad still had to finish his job (read: writing report with his Brother typewriter). “Okay. We will go after dzuhur.” Dad compromised, following by an order for Mom to me to take a bath.
“But Mom, I am still watching Dragon Ball!”
“Okay, after Dragon Ball!”
“It will be One Piece, Crayon Sinchan, Kamen Rider, Power Rangers…”
“There is a boxing match at ten!” Dad interrupted “Tyson vs Holyfield.”
And the small world war was about to begin.
Dad never taught me about how to write, same case with Mom never told me that traveling can make me a better person. I self-taught myself in writing from social media, starting from creating very short stories in Twitter (140 characters), expand it to longer version in short story (1000 words) in Tumblr, before encouraged myself to publish some of my stories into book. Real book, that was unsold.
As time passed by, I started to feel that both traveling and writing are interesting in different way. Traveling can refresh my mind, body, and soul by give me new experiences while writing can help me to relax by releasing all the thoughts in my head. In the end of 2011, I had an idea to combine these two things that I like by making a travel blog, and few months later, in March 2012, I published my first article in Backpackstory.
Backpackstory, originated from two words, backpack because I like to travel using backpack, and story because I have many interesting stories to be told. Since that day, I never missed a month without writing new article(s) in this blog. At least until now, because I do not know about tomorrow.