Amsterdam view from Amsterdam Tower

Amsterdam view from Amsterdam Tower
The view from Amsterdam Tower

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Meaning of December

Q:           What do you do when travelling?

A:            Visiting the historic sites!

It is on top of my list every time I go travelling. They can be anything such as museums, palaces or places of worship. 
Perhaps it is the time to share some of the church pictures I took in few places in Europe.... Yes, this may be considered as the part 2 of my previous posting December Notes on churches I have seen in Asia.

France, Finistere, Brittany - Clohars-Carnoët

I fell in love with this place. Lovely. The complex consists of the ruins of the Abbey, big green lush garden, river and buildings as part of the Abbey.

Abbey of Saint Maurice, Brittany
Located on the edge of the Carnoët forest on the banks of Ellé river, the ruins of Abbey of Saint Maurice in Clohars-Carnoët was originally founded by Maurice Duault in 1177. Click their official website for more info:

Garden of the Abbey of Saint Maurice, Brittany
France, Brittany - Locronan

Another church to be admired! The church of Saint Ronan in Locronan. 

Church of Saint Ronan, Locronan

I put this pic as a teaser, as I will have a complete story (when it is ready-J) about Brittany.

Inside the Saint Ronan Church, Locronan

France, Sein Island

Can you guess where Sein island is? Locally it is known as Île de Sein. This island is in the Atlantic Ocean, off Finistère, 8 km from the Pointe du Raz in the Finistère department of Brittany in north-western France.

It's near the pier, Sein Island, Brittany
I always like to take pics of small churches as I walk around. They look peaceful with their own aura.

Small church at Sein Island, Brittany

Holland, Amsterdam

The New Church or Nieuwe Kerk is 15th century church in Amsterdam located on Dam Square.

The Nieuwe Kerk (New Church), Amsterdam

I love this open square which is next to the Royal Palace and situated in the middle of the city. I spent hours wandering around the square, admiring the ancient buildings in the surrounding, looking at people passing by – oh life…


This is the Cathedral where many of the royal family of Monaco were buried, including Princess Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III.  

Monaco Cathedral
The Monaco Cathedral or Saint Nicholas Cathedral was consecrated in 1875, and is on the site of the first parish church in Monaco built in 1252. Official website:
Monaco Cathedral (inside part)

Italy, Milan

Milan Cathedral

When I visited this place, in the center of the square in front of the Cathedral, there was an area covered for renovation.  It looks like a statue i.e. the equestrian statue of Vittorio Emanuele II, the first Italian king in 19th century. So if I wanted to take pic of the whole Cathedral, this is the best that I could do.

The Duomo in the night, I took this pic from the building across
the street, between two small pillars
If you can stay around, day time and night time – and if you can take pics of the Duomo in both times, it is perfect – life is beautiful!
Italy, Venice

Piazza San Marco (Saint Mark's Square) is the heart of Venice. I say this place is the graduation corner of everyone visiting Venice!

Saint Mark's Square, Venice
The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Mark is situated at the eastern end of the Piazza, adjacent and connected to the Doge's Palace. Near there, the Clock Tower which was completed in 1499 stood still. 

Part of Cathedral Basilica of Saint Mark, Venice

Beautiful Cathedral in beautiful Venice… Venice is not only beautiful but it has many mysteries.  

Can you imagine walking by yourself in dark and quiet ancient Venetian alleys? 

Once, we were almost lost in the dark. A gentleman approached and asked us if we needed any help.  We walked together and he showed us the direction to San Marco pier. He walked half way with us and turned left to his destination. 

Who could imagine that we were almost lost in Venice and met a noble gentleman? He is a priest from India and was in Venice for his examination.  God bless him.

Italy, Volterra

Are you familiar with the name of town? It is where Bella Swan tried to save Edward Cullen from killing himself when he thought she died. Yes, Twilight saga!  
A house near the church in Volterra

When the time turned to 12 noon, when Edward walked outside to see the sun, remember the Clock Tower in the movie? Fifteen minute drive from there, we arrived in the Church of Saint Justus and Clement (the Patron of Saints of Volterra).  

Inside the church, there is something like a small whole in the wall that let the sun comes in at noon sharp. It is lighting up a mysterious line drawn on the marble floor next to the altar. Mysterious. 

Inside the Church of St. Justus and Clement, Volterra
Can you see the white stripe on the floor? (right photo)

Every day – every week – every month has its own mystery.
When the mystery is gone, then comes meaning….
As every Christmas has its own meaning… What is it for you?

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

December Notes

Here are some churches I had seen/passed by/visited in a few parts of Asia.  
Mu'en Church, Shanghai
China, Shanghai

Just after crossing the People Square before entering the famous shopping district in Nanjing Road, Shanghai, I saw this church.  As I only passed by, I cannot say much about it, except that I like it from the first sight.

“Mu'en Church”… Later on I found out that the characters above the gate say “Truth gives you freedom”.

Hong Kong

There was one day, I passed by two churches coincidentally.

St John's Cathedral, Central, Hong Kong

I saw a church in Central in the morning, and another one in Kowloon in the afternoon. I took pics but only at a glance. At that moment, I had no intention to post any story related to religious places. Only if I knew, I would have taken much better pics.

Anyway, when I walked down to Central, at the opposite of the Peak Tram station, I passed by St. John’s Cathedral. It is a nice building in tranquil garden.

Kowloon Union Church, Hong Kong
The Kowloon Union Church in Jordan (Kowloon), I saw it from across the street. I like to shoot things from strange angle, that’s why this pic is taken this way.

Thailand, Bangkok

Going around Bangkok in a boat is not part of the tourist attraction, but it is also to save traveling time.

Holy Rosary Church, Bangkok

When I visited Bangkok and wanted to visit the Grand Palace, Wat Pho and Wat Arun, I took the opportunity to take the tourist boat. It is very convenient.

There are so many things to be seen along Chao Phraya River. One of them is this church.

Vietnam, Hanoi

The Saint Joseph Cathedral was built to resemble the original Notre-Dame de Paris. The French built it in 18th century during their occupation in Vietnam.
Notre Dame Hanoi, Vietnam
My five minute stop in front of this Cathedral during my day trip to Hanoi was worth the effort. I was happy taking pics of this mini “Notre-Dame de Paris.

Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

Notre-Dame Saigon was also built by the French in 18th century.
Notre Dame Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam
Notre Dame Saigon, view from the back part

This Cathedral is never alone. There are always visitors walking around the area. In whatever hours or days, the Cathedral always attracts visitors both tourists and local citizens including for pre-wedding photo sessions.

Vietnam, Sapa

Do you know where Sapa is? It is in the northern part of Vietnam, near the border with China.  

I always like to shoot pics of small churches in small towns. They are petite, attractive, mystic and more mysterious. Only if they could speak and I could listen to their stories …..
Sapa Church, Vietnam
The Catholic Church in Sapa was built in 1930 and is located in the town square. This public space is used as open market on Sunday by and for the minority people of Sapa.  This square seems to be a popular meeting point for both locals and tourists. 
Sapa Church, this is what we see from the side

Mid of December this year, we heard about the snowfall in northern mountainous of Lao Cai province, northern part of Vietnam. That’s Sapa! When I heard about the snowfall there, all of the sweet memories of Sapa came back…

Memory, whatever it is… the good and the bad, it exits in anyone’s mind.  

Memory comes back any time, any day, any month… Since we are now in the last month of the year, what’s your memorable December’s story? 

*Story continues to other part of the world*

Monday, December 23, 2013

Diskusi Panel – Buruh Migran Indonesia di Hong Kong International Literary Festival

* Please note that I will still be writing in English, however this article is specifically written in Bahasa Indonesia for a reason *

No expectation!  Ngak ada bayangan macam2 sebelum datang ke acara “Hong Kong International Literary Festival”. 

Banyak sesi dari penulis terkenal yang sayangnya saya tidak kenal.Namanya festival internasional, penulisnya pasti dari dunia internasional, mungkin karena itu saya tidak kenal. Maklum selama beberapa bulan terakhir ini di Hong Kong saya kebanyakan main dan wisata kuliner cari masakan Indonesia.  

Setelah browsing mencari sesi yang seru di festival sastra ini, dan setelah lumayan lama masa vakum (Bukannya “no mood” tapi “tar sok, tar sok” alias ntar besok dan waktu terus berjalan), untuk membangkitkan kembali semangat menulis, saya datanglah ke acara ini. 

Festival Sastra Internasional yang setiap tahun diadakan di Hong Kong, pada tahun ini menyertakan tulisan-tulisan karya penulis migran Indonesia.  

Acara pada Minggu, 3 November 2013 ini menghadirkan tiga penulis migran Indonesia yang bergabung di Forum Lingkar Pena (FLP) cabang Hong Kong. Mereka tampil membacakan karya mereka di Mcaulay Studio di Hong Kong Art Center. 

Devi Novianti dari Equal Opportunity Commission sebagai moderator membuka acara dengan memperkenalkan Yuni Sze dari Majalah Indonesia Apakabar. Yuni bercerita tentang FLP sebagai wadah para penulis migran Indonesia memuaskan bakat menulis mereka. Didirikan tahun 2004, selain di Indonesia, FLP mempunyai cabang di Malaysia, Saudi Arabia dan Hong Kong, dll. Tiga diantara anggotanya di Hong Kong, Susie, Yulia dan Pandan yang bekerja sebagai Buruh Migran Indonesia (BMI) bercerita mengenai perjalanan mereka yang jauh dari rumah dan keluarga, kesendirian yang mereka hadapi, pengalaman baru di tempat yang baru dan berbagai permasalahan yang menghampiri. 
Kiri ke kanan: Pandan, Susie, Yulia
Susie Utomo sudah bekerja di Hong Kong selama tujuh tahun dan mendirikan majalah CahayaQu tahun 2012. Di acara ini dia membacakan ceritanya mengenai orang tua yang membenci pembantu rumah tangganya dan menganggapnya sebagai "pengganggu". Si pembantu dianggap suka mengontrol  dirinya sehingga mengganggu kebebasannya karena suka memberikan perintah untuk makan/minum dan minum obat. Akhirnya sang orang tua ini sadar bahwa ia membenci si pembantu karena ia merindukan anaknya dan berharap anak yang merawatnya.

Yulia Jafar Purwanto sudah menerbitkan ceritanya di koran/tabloid Indonesia, antara lain Tabloid Nyata, Radar Bromo, juga koran Indonesia di Hong Kong yang antara lain Berita Indonesia dan Apakabar.
Ceritanya berjudul “Selendang Merah” mengenai seorang BMI yang suka menari tarian tradisional. Ia juga bercita-cita melestarikan budaya ini di negeri orang. Sayangnya, keinginan ini tidak didukung oleh sang majikan yang bukan saja tidak menyukai kegiatan tersebut tetapi juga memotong haknya dengan tidak memberikan hari libur. 

Bertolak belakang dengan cerita Yulia, dalam keseharian kerjanya, majikannya mendukung bakat menulisnya.  

Artikel Pandan Arum beberapa kali telah diterbitkan di koran berbahasa Indonesia di Hong Kong, misanya Suara, Apakabar, Iqro, Berita Indonesia. Bukunya bersama anggota FLP yang telah terbit antara lain Penjajah di Rumahku (kumpulan cerita pendek) dan Senandung Mimpi Hawa (kumpulan puisi).

Ia mendapat ide ketika membersihkan lantai dan akhirnya jadi satu cerita yang diberi judul “Tuntutan Pelacur”. Seperti judulnya, kisah ini mengenai hidup seorang pelacur, mengapa ia menjalaninya dan pengalamannya dilecehkan oleh pria bahkan ketika ia bekerja bukan sebagai pelacur tetapi sebagai pembantu rumah tangga.

Ketiga buruh migran ini bekerja untuk keluarga-keluarga di Hong Kong sebagai pembantu rumah tangga penuh waktu, enam hari seminggu dan satu hari libur. Walaupun sibuk kerja, mereka menyisihkan waktu untuk hobby menulis. Salah satunya berkata ia menulis di tengah malam setelah shalat malam, bahkan dulu dia menulis di lantai dapur. Satu orang lainnya menulis di siang hari ketika anak-anak majikannya sekolah.

Ide menulis datang dari mana saja. Pandan mendapat ide menulis mengenai pelacur ketika ia membersihkan lantai. Menurutnya, ada kesamaan antara pelacur dan pembantu rumah tangga. Keduanya sering dilecehkan oleh majikan. Tetapi, hal itu tergantung pada orang sekitar. Dalam cerita hidupnya, ia dikelilingi oleh keluarga yang bekerja sebagai pembantu rumah tangga diluar negeri, dan bisa jadi ini yang mendukungnya memilih pekerjaan ini.

Sam Aryadi, Wakil Konsul Consul (Informasi, Budaya dan Protokoler) Konsulat Jenderal Republik Indonesia di Hong Kong yang telah bekerja di Hong Kong selama tujuh tahun, mengatakan bahwa pemerintah menyadari potensi/bakat yang dimiliki oleh buruh migran ini. Dalam acara Diaspora Indonesia bulan Agustus lalu, sebagian dari mereka diperkenalkan lebih luas lagi ke masyarakat Indonesia. Salah satu tujuannya adalah menyoroti bakat kepandaian mereka dan semoga dalam jangka panjangnya,pemerintah mendapatkan bantuan lebih luas lagi dari berbagai pihak terkait jika diperlukan.

Masalah yang dihadapi buruh migran misalnya pembayaran upah dibawah minimum dan pelanggaran hak misalnya tidak diberikan hari libur masih terjadi. Dalam beberapa kasus malah lebih buruk lagi. Shelter (tempat bernaung) dan Konsulat adalah rumah bagi buruh migran yang memerlukan pertolongan.

Panel Diskusi
Peluk aku
Katakan, betapa engkau sangat mencintaiku
Dengan lisanmu, dengan keberadaanmu buatku setiap waktu
Jangan lagi salah memberi
Yang aku minta hanya dirimu; ibu!
Bukan harta, bukan mainan mewah, bukan sekolah…bukan!
Ketika engkau mengabaikanku dengan dalih demi bayar biaya hidup……

Puisi diatas adalah hasil karya Susie berjudul “Menanti Ibu” dibacakan di akhir acara. Hanyalah sebagian dari puisi tersebut, tapi sangat jelas menuturkan perasaan anak-anak Buruh Migran Indonesia yang ditinggalkan oleh ibu mereka bekerja jauh diluar negeri.

Yang jelas saya kagum dan salut atas prestasi rekan2 BMI di Hong Kong.

Speechless, effortless dan malu ke diri sendiri kenapa males2an nulis. Everything happens for a reason. Sekarang saya tahu kenapa saya terpilih datang ke acara ini, supaya sadar dan semangat nulis lagi. Ayo!


Keterangan lebih lanjut mengenai “Hong Kong Literary Festival”, silakan klik