I was one of three Cambodian bloggers who was invited to join ASEAN Blogger Festival 2013 from 10-12 May 2013 in Solo, Indonesia. The theme of this conference was “Re-inventing the Spirit of Cultural Heritage of Southeast Asia”.:)
Recall about the past with my old friends
I’ve got a fantastic time to meet other ASEAN bloggers especially my old friends Ajeng, Jun (Marsmath Achas Baris ) and Chris (Chee Xin Hao). Last year in Siem Reap, Cambodia, it was my first time to be invited to join BlogFest Asia. I was blessed to have friends from three different countries such as Indonesia, Philippines and Malaysia. On the first day of the conferences, all of us didn’t want to visit Angkor Wat. As a result, we took Tuk Tuk to visit other places such as Silk Farm for example. Then we started to keep in touch through having lunch, dinner, hang out etc. till the end of the conference.
This year, we meet again in Solo, Indonesia. I was really surprised to see the three of us (Jun, Chris and I) were invited to attend ASEAN Blogger Festival organized by Indonesian. My friend Ajeng was one of the organizers. 🙂
Trip from Phnom Penh to Solo
Everything was really fine. My friends from Cambodian namely Nila (Ms. Kounila Keo) and Phally (Ms. Phally Ngoeum) took the same flight from Phnom Penh International Airport to Solo, Indonesia. But it was not direct flight. We experienced to have indirect and long flight from Cambodia to Indonesia. First of all, we flew from Phnom Penh to Kuala Lumpur, then to Jakarta, and at last to Solo, Indonesia.
One night at Sheraton Bandara Hotel
Because our flight arrived night time in Jakarta, all of us and couple bloggers from Myanmar named Ei (Ms Ei Thwe Aung) and Phillip (Mr Pyae Phyo Maung) were arranged to stay one night at Sheraton Bandara Hotel. This hotel was the nearest hotel to Soekarno Hatta Intl (CGK) Airport, Jakarta, Indonesia. Wow! I was really surprised while getting inside the room. The decoration of the room was really beautiful. I enjoyed taking a bath, watching TV and sleeping in the big comfortable bed. Only two negative pointes I observed in this hotel. One is the internet access and other is a sign. I’d to pay if I wanted to access internet in my room. As known, internet access was free of charge to the guests in some hotel. I felt quite unhappy to hear that. One more thing is the sign. I thought that the restaurant and the lobby room were on the same floor. I’ve tried to find the restaurant to have breakfast but I was lost in the hotel. Luckily, I could find it. But after I left the restaurant, I could not find a way to a lobby room to check out. I was lost again. Thank God that I met hotel staff. He told me to take the elevator to another floor. 🙂
While we arrived to Solo, Indonesia, all of us including couple bloggers from Myanmar were arranged to stay at Sahid Jaya Hotel. Then we go out to eat local food. We were blessed to know Indonesian bloggers namely Ismi and other (Sorry I don’t remember other names). Her friend and she guided us to one restaurant in front of our hotel. Most of my friends loved to eat chicken rice but to me, I preferred to eat Mie Goreng. We were really enjoyed to eat Indonesia food. Then, in the evening, all local and international participants were invited to have dinner at Gala Dinner, Lojigandrung. I was excited to watch dancing performance and tried local food. 😀
On 10th May 2013, the conference started. ASEAN bloggers from Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Myanmar, Singapore, Cambodia, Vietnam, etc. were coming one by one. We were really enjoyed to meet each other. Some international participated were invited to BlogFest Asia in Siem Reap, Cambodia in 2012. This was the reason why I was so happy because it was a time to meet my old friends.
One thing which disappointed me a lot is the language. Most participants were Indonesian. Most of the times, the speaker and the MC spoke Indonesian. As an international participant, I didn’t understand. But I was blessed to sit next to Indonesian participant namely Meity (Meity Mutiara). She helped me a lot in translation. My friend Jun was sitting next to me. He said that when Meity translated to him he started to remember me. Last year, I did the same as Meity too. Wherever Jun wanted to go, he preferred to go with me. And I also wanted to go with him too. Why? Because I was alone. I had few Cambodian friends and most of them wanted to hang out with their friends. Jun, Ajeng and Chris were my new friends and I was so happy to hang out with them.
While staying in Solo, I had a lot of observations and some problems. Do you want to know?
1) Food: Some foods were sweet including the tea. The sugar was also put into the tea. But this tea was really nice. I liked it. When I miss Indonesia, I will drink tea mixed with sugar.
2) Muslim veil (Hijab): Some Indonesia women were Hijab some were not. I didn’t understand.
3) Smoking: Many Indonesian men were smoker. As I observed, most of them were young. They should have known that smoking is not good for their health and other people staying around them. For man, to me, drinking is fine but not smoking.
4) Chilly: During the break time, we were served to have snack. Chilly were including in the snack too. Some people took bread and ate chilly.
5) Gentleman: I’d some Indonesia friends who were guys. I observed that some were not gentle. Sometimes, I felt that they didn’t think that I was a lady. As known, lady is first. Comparing to Malaysian and Pilipino guys, Indonesian guys were less gentle. For instance, while I was nearly across the street, one car was coming. I didn’t know. While I was nearly across the street, two hands from two guys hindered me not to across. And while the bus came, we all had to take the bus. My Malaysian and Pilipino friends gave a right to lady to take the bus first. This was one of the notices which I observed from Pilipino and Malaysian guys. I could feel that I was served as a queen. As a lady, I would prefer to stay with them because they gave me safe and sound.
On the night of 12th May 2013, I lost money at somewhere. That evening, I went to Solo Paragon for shopping. I was really enjoyed to buy coffee and some noodles. Then I left and took a sit waiting for my friends at Starbuck Coffee. Later on, I took a taxi to go to Galabo to have dinner. While I wanted to pay for the bill, I was surprised that some large amount which I kept in the white envelop was lost. I’ve tried to search for it but I saw nothing. My friends encouraged me not to be so worry and helped me to think again where I’ve left it. We returned to Kusuma hotel to check. I saw nothing. Then, I’ve decided to go to Solo Paragon mall. Chris told to be ready for the loss. I was so worried because this amount of money was a lot to me. My friend Phally went with me. We went to Starbuck Coffee to see the CCTV. I still saw nothing. Then, I went to the shopping mall. After checking, there was nothing again. And at last, I asked help from customer service. After listening to my story, the customer staff helped me to contact to taxi driver agency. Later on, I met ICT manager to check CCTV about the taxi number. Because my flight was too early in the morning, I could not wait the result. I’ve kept my contact to him and to Kusuma Hotel. Tonight on 14th May 2013, I was informed that the taxi driver didn’t see my money envelop. 😦
What is the lesson that I should learn from this loss?
1) Taxi number
I should remember the taxi number while I take a taxi. The number is really easy because the number is near the back car window. For instance, taxi number 115. If I remember that taxi number I could contact to taxi driver agency immediately so that he could search for me on time. 🙂
2) Safety place
I’ve tried to keep my money in the safe place but I’ve put it in the wrong thing. I’ve had a bag but I still didn’t understand where I’ve dropped it. My bag is one of the safety places still I don’t know the reason of losing.
Souvenir from Solo
1) Friendship 🙂
2) Gift 🙂
First of all, I’ve got a local tea product from my roommate named Irak (@itikkecil). Most of international participants had to share room with Indonesian participant in order to build relationship.
Secondly, I’ve got four types of chocolates from two Indonesian participants. I would like to say sorry that I didn’t remember your name. I’ve not yet tasted it because I’m waiting my sisters to eat together. Honestly, I like chocolate.
Thirdly, I’ve got a pen and a cup from my friend Ajeng (@ajengkol). She gave me hers for a souvenir. I’ll give a pen to my father and I’ll bring this cup to my hometown at Sihanouk ville.
At last, I’ve got a Salsabila, local product. It tastes really nice. I really like it.
3) Blessing 😀
As international participant, my flight has been arranged to return to Cambodia on 13th May. In the morning on 12th May, I was told to check out or to pay myself for the room. I was really surprised because I thought that that night would also be covered by the organizer. The organizer has sent me an email that the accommodation would be covered during the conference. I’ve known it but because my flight was arranged to leave on 13th, so I thought that one night at the hotel would also be covered too. It was part of my fault not to ask for clarification. Anyway, God is so good. Other international participants reported our concern to the organizer. We were blessed that they provided two extra rooms for us. I’ve got a place to sleep.
4) Cultural knowledge 🙂
If we are talking about nationalities, we all are different. Indonesian culture is also different from my country, Cambodia. Solo people love to eat sweet food because they feel that they are patient, not easily anger. Some Indonesian women wear hijab because they want to show that they are Muslim.
Here I plant a tree! 😀
While the bus drop participants at Urban Forest, I didn’t understand because nothing special there. I was wrong. Participants were invited to plant trees. To me, I was not invited to plant tree as a symbol among some ASEAN bloggers. I was quite upset that I could not get a chance to plant tree. My friend Meity called me to plant tree with her. I was on the middle of thinking. She started to take the dirt and fertilizer into the hole. Then, it was my turn to continue her work. I was really happy. I didn’t plant a tree as a symbol but I really plant a tree. This tree was Longan, fruitful tree. Next time when I come to Solo, I’ll visit Urban Forest again to see the tree I’ve planted.
My friend, I could consider myself as a stranger to this world because sometime, I’m not able to find the answer. I just believe in Jesus Christ that he will give me the best. He’ll help me to solve the problems. Father, thank you so much for your provision and blessing.
🙂 Here are some photos I’ve taken in Sangiran Museum,Solo, Indonesia. 🙂
Chamna Mao (Jasmina Mao) 😀
Date: 15th May 2013