Survival Kit for Wives Whose Husbands Travel A Lot

Disclaimer: This kit also applies to husbands whose wives travel a lot for work.

Back in our dating days, my husband and I worked in the same company and we traveled a lot for work. I traveled mostly around the cities in Kalimantan, while he took flights back and forth from Surabaya to Jakarta, and many times abroad. We would keep each other updated on which city we’re going to travel to next, because many times the itineraries were decided a couple of days before we left our base towns. Up to now my husband is still working in that company and his current traveling frequency is not less (or will likely be less) than ten years ago. I occasionally ask him on the weekend what his plans for the upcoming week(s) will be, and I’m pretty amazed if he can spend one whole week from Monday to Sunday without going out of town.

I can say that it’s quite a challenge for me to stay at home with two young kids and not having him around as much as I want to, but humans are resilient creatures and I’ve managed to build my own resilience over the years. I did manage to squeeze three tips out of this integral part of my life to be my survival kit.

  1. Acceptance

My husband’s current career might not be what he (and I) had in mind when we got married, but I was there when he made the important decisions regarding his occupation. I was there when he told me that the kind of job he would have would take a lot of time traveling for meeting, supplier audit, factory visit, you name it. I know his deepest interest, passion, and ambition, and I’m in every step of the way to support whatever he does career-wise. Grumbling that he’s never home long enough will not benefit anyone. Complaining heavily cannot make the traveling duties go away, so I might as well accept the fact and be a strong guard for our home and children.

  1. Sufficient groceries and medical supplies

What task in this world is more challenging than doing monthly grocery shopping with two very active kids in tow? I say, none. Ever since my boy could get out of the shopping cart by himself (sometimes unnoticed), I started to do groceries all by myself, one hour before the hypermarket closes at 10 PM. That way I can save myself from the hassle of calling out for my daughter who stayed too long in the children’s shampoo/soap section because she hoped Mama would eventually buy her the Cinderella’s theme shampoo (it’s never going to happen, darling, sorry. Johnson and Johnson still has the best hygiene products for children), and finding my son who went missing in the toy section because he’s too busy eyeing the Hot Wheels cars, Thomas the tank engine, etc. etc. My son had gone missing several times in the Hypermart near our home while I was paying at the cashier, that the security guards kind of remembered our faces after the third time I asked, in great panic, for their help to search for him. He didn’t go that far, by the way; he was just playing with some batteries at the cashier next to where I was paying for my stuffs. Therefore I always make sure that food and medical supplies are always sufficient at home, or at least for as long as my husband is away for work. I’d prefer having oversupply of food and medicine than having to go to Alfamart/Indomaret late at night because we run out of bread/cereal/milk/diaper.

  1. Do things that will keep my sanity intact

I keep telling myself to do things that will give me comfort, that will give me enjoyment, that will help me release my stress after long turbulent days handling the kids and the house all by myself. My husband, being supportive and everything, will always try to call/video call to check how I (and the kids) are holding up. Some days are good, some days are better, and some days are worse. Kids’ homeworks, after school lessons, play dates (rarely), house cleaning, laundry, and cooking are the major errands I run on daily basis. I’m on my feet most of the time and my down time is when I go to Taekwondo lesson three mornings a week or when I have lunch with my friends. The feelings of being lonely and exhausted can creep in anytime, so it’s important to keep my spirit up by doing things I like as refreshment. I like watching K-dramas or Star World while sipping Bailey’s/hot tea as a way to wind down before I go to bed. I also write blog posts or continue writing the novel I’m working on as a way to do something for myself after an almost full day living and breathing for my sun and my sky.

I’m sure there are a lot of other wives out there with similar experience with me. I’d love to know the survival kits you guys have up on your sleeves!

*) Picture above was taken from his IG account. He surely loves to take pictures of the early flights he often takes.

Parks in Singapore – Part 4: Fort Canning Park

Hi, there! We’re on our fourth day of exploring the parks in Singapore. Information about the parks on the previous three days can be found on the following links:

https://rijotobing.wordpress.com/2016/11/12/parks-in-singapore-part-1-macritchie-reservoir/

https://rijotobing.wordpress.com/2017/01/27/parks-in-singapore-part-2-jacob-ballas-childrens-garden/

https://rijotobing.wordpress.com/2017/01/28/parks-in-singapore-part-3-far-east-organization-childrens-g/

 

This post is long overdue (like almost 2 years, my bad), but I will try my best to dig from my memory what we did in the fourth park in October 2015. For the fourth day, we decided to wander not far away from our hotel in Orchard area. The main reason for that decision was my boy’s crankiness whenever we got off the bus in Singapore. He would be squealing with delight whenever we got on the bus, and he would be throwing a tantrum whenever we got off simply because he loved taking a bus ride. So I thought the shorter the ride was, the better. I looked up on the internet for a nearby park and stumbled across Fort Canning Park. From the Wikipedia I read that Fort Canning Park is a small hill, slightly more than 60-meter high, located near Singapore’s central business district. Our family always loves wandering around body of waters and higher grounds. Whenever we go on a vacation those are two things we will explore right away, so I was totally sold on the idea of exploring this park for a day.

Just like the previous three days we left hotel after ten o’clock in the morning after a long and relaxing breakfast. We took the bus and got off a couple of minutes after. My boy threw a fit right after we went out of the bus door, leaving me embarrassed and exhausted on the side of the road, trying to talk him into getting on his stroller. My overly patient effort came in vain, so I carried him in my arms with one hand pushing the stroller and another hand for my daughter to hold while we crossed the street. I was instantly discouraged when I saw the number of steps leading to the park’s entrance. Sixty meter high it was. Together my daughter and I carried the stroller while my boy kept clinging in my arms. We were all drenched in sweats as soon as we got to the hill. My daughter had been carrying her sketchbook during this trip, so after that exhausting hike she went to a bench and drew a little while her brother kept screaming, asking for a bus ride (oh, my!).

The lush greenery, the fresh air, the singing bird, and the city’s high-rises we could see from where we were sitting were enough to keep us glued to our bench for the next twenty minutes or so. My boy’s mood was still poor but it didn’t stop his sister to start exploring and making sketches of what she was seeing.

We went to see some interesting objects like the house where Sir Stamford Raffles, who founded Singapore, used to live, a light house, and several cannons on the fortress wall surrounding the park. It turned out the now park was once a fortress used as the residence for the Residents and Governors of Singapore. We could still see some military facilities surrounded by wire fences as we strolled deeper into the park. What I liked best was the information boards on every path we took, describing the history of the founding of Singapore up to the history of Fort Canning itself. The kids were happy because they got to play in an open and green area, Mama was happy because Mama got to learn history.

After some time we arrived at this large white gate with a cross and “IHS” writing on the upper part of it. There was no information what “IHS” stood for, unfortunately. The gate reminded me of a gate in Taman Sari in the area of the Sultanate of D.I.Y Yogyakarta. We were surprised by what we saw after we went through the gate. It was a vast field with a colonial style building on the highest ground, overlooking the high-rises around the park. The building was all white and was used as some kind of museum: Pinocothéque de Paris – Fort Canning Arts Center. As tempting as it was to go inside the museum and take a look at their collections, my kids refused to leave the field where they played catch. So I sat on the grass and watched them play for the next thirty minutes or so, after we had our very late lunch.

 

The time passed by and it was almost four o’clock in the afternoon. It’s time to go back before we’re getting trapped in the rush hour. We took a detour and circled the park to get to the bus stop. On our way back we were mesmerized by the contrast views of the city and the greeneries. Before we took the steps down my daughter and I took a really deep breath. My boy was back to being cranky because he was tired after running around in the field, so I had him in one arm (again), and carried the stroller with another arm. I was grateful that my daughter managed to go down by herself. She even checked on how we were doing every now and then. I was so proud of her.

All in all, it’s been a relaxing and short adventure. We’d definitely come back another time with some picnic blanket, abundant snacks, and soccer ball.

Stay tuned for the 5th part of the Parks in Singapore travel report!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pleasant Coincidences

Last month my French teacher/neighbor had her farewell party and there she introduced me to her friend. Lena was from Germany and before Cikarang she and her family lived in KL for several years. As we chatted she asked me if I knew any German, because Maud told her that I speak other languages than English. I said yes, I had been studying it since I was a kid because my mother insisted me to. As we started to speak in German, she asked me if I had spent time talking with native speakers. I told her that I spent a couple of days in my uncle’s home in Heidelberg five years ago, and that’s about it. She was very surprised because she happened to go to the University of Heidelberg and she knew the area where my uncle is living with his family. Out of so many cities and so many universities in Germany, it was a pleasant coincidence to meet someone new who happened to know where I had been. Then we started talking about Heidelberg’s old town, her apartment, which was located very close to the university in the downtown, and the grandeur and gorgeous H & M store right around the city square’s corner. Women can easily bond through shopping and the experience of doing so, ha-ha.

 

When I first went backpacking to South Korea in 2004, the hotel which I had booked through email was closed on the day I arrived. Back then I didn’t know booking.com, so I went there with faith that everything would go well. I didn’t have any credit card either, so I brought quite a lot of cash for emergency situation. It was my first backpacking experience and a very nerve-wrecking one. I got into a taxi, which was much cheaper than in Japan, and told the driver to go to the nearest tourist information center. I relied heavily on my Lonely Planet’s guide to South Korea and a few Korean phrases it included. The taxi driver took me instead to a police station where nobody could speak English there. Back then, internet was scarce and I didn’t have any Google translator with me. I was so frustrated that I just asked them how to go to YMCA, because the hostel was mentioned in the book. It’s so funny that even though they didn’t speak any English, they could spell ABC in English. A police car took me from Namdaemun area to Itaewon area. It’s indeed an amusing experience for a first-time backpacker. In YMCA I stayed in a room with six bunk beds and spent two days there before I headed to Daegu and then Busan. The hostel had a common kitchen and one night when I was making a spicy ramen, I got into a conversation with an African-American man who just arrived in the city.

He           : Where are you from?

Me           : Indonesia, currently living in Tokyo.

He           : Really? I’m actually on my way there to visit a friend. I decided to explore Seoul for a couple of days before flying to Tokyo.

Me           : That’s nice. Maybe I know your friend (jokingly said. The fact is, it’s quite impossible to know other foreigners in Tokyo if we don’t share some common backgrounds. Not forget to mention that Tokyo is humongous)

He           : Do you go to church?

Me           : Yes, why?

He           : My friend joins a choir in Tokyo Baptist Church. Her name is Tracy and she’s also African-American.

Me           : (dumbfounded) I sing in soprano section with Tracy.

Then we both rolled out with laughter. Out of so many cities and so many hostels in South Korea, I happened to meet a friend of my friend who was on his way to see her, ha-ha.

 

Five years ago we went to London for the 2012 Olympics and stayed at my college friend’s place for a week. Since we already had the UK visa, we decided to fly to Edinburgh a couple of months after that. We liked collecting Hard Rock Café t-shirts for their good quality of fabric and unusual designs, so the night before we flew back to Switzerland my husband told me to go to HRC to buy some t-shirts for our family. We stayed in Edinburgh for five days and the weather there had been crazy; heavy rain then bright sun all of a sudden. On our last day there we hiked to Arthur’s Seat and our 3-year old daughter was too exhausted to take another bus. So I went to HRC alone and my family went back to the hotel. The café was quite empty that night so a shopkeeper came to help me picking out designs and sizes.

He           : Where are you from?

Me           : Indonesia, currently living in Switzerland.

He           : Cool.

Me           : Are you from around here? You speak differently.

He           : As the matter of fact I came from London. I just started university here.

Me           : Really? From which part of London are you? We went there for the Olympics last July.

He           : (waved his hand) You probably never heard of it; it’s quite far from the city center and the tourist attractions.

Me           : (made a random guess because the name suddenly crossed my mind) Peckham?

He           : (gasped) How did you know?

Me           : (shrugged) I was just guessing, but it’s such a nice coincidence that you’re from Peckham as I stayed there for one week at a friend’s house.

He           : Wow, such a nice coincidence!

Me           : No offense, you don’t actually fit the demographic of Peckham residents.

He           : (grinned at me) None taken, I know it’s rare to see a white guy coming from Peckham.

Me           : (laughed) Exactly, everyone is multicolored there expect for the policemen, I suppose. On the day we arrived, a police officer approached us because he saw my husband taking out his Ipad from his backpack. The officer told us that it’s not safe to do so in Peckham.

He           : It is not. Peckham is sadly still an area with one of the highest crime rates in London.

Out of so many cities in the UK and so many HRC shops, I ran into someone who came from an area where I stayed during my visit to London.

 

All my life I have experienced these kinds of pleasant coincidences and they gave me warm feelings. The world is indeed a small place and I could get connected to someone suddenly, instantly, even though I come from halfway across the world from them. The key to be experiencing all these is to travel a lot and to muster up courage to speak with new people. There is no other way.

 

Remembering this encourages me to browse the internet for our next travel destination. Where shall we go from here?

RIMH BOOK LAUNCH: Recorded Live Videos

Here are all recorded FB live videos from yesterday’s event (BOOK LAUNCH: Randomness Inside My Head).

The quality is low, but it’s a living proof of my life. 😊

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10154600670403877&id=753068876

https://www.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10154600253428877&id=753068876

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10154600670403877&id=753068876

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10154600713568877&id=753068876

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10154600724818877&id=753068876

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10154600738248877&id=753068876

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10154600754338877&id=753068876

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10154600772498877&id=753068876

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10154600815163877&id=753068876

20170408 – BOOK LAUNCH: Randomness Inside My Head

At the chore, everything is given.

At the end, everything is for His glory.

SOLI DEO GLORIA

 

That day arrived and that day was over. It was one of the most important days in my life, and the very important people came to celebrate it with me. I thank everyone who has made the time to come. I appreciate everyone who has kept their promises to come. My respect to you all.

I was lucky to find PT Tiga Pilar as the long-run companion for RIMH. We share the same fighting spirit and we always strive to do our best. I hope we can work together in many more projects and years to come. I’m also thankful for the MC, speakers, sponsors, book buyers, et cetera. The list is too long, haha! Seriously, I’m grateful for you all.

I wouldn’t have been the person I am right now if I hadn’t worked in Balikpapan ten years ago. The job was the toughest I had so far. I dealt with difficult people, and yet I had to get the jobs done. My deepest respect to my former bosses and colleagues in Kalimantan Region, PT HMS, who had turned me from a cry-baby into someone who has eyes on the goals and drives to always move forward. They taught me the hardness of corporate life, and they also taught me how to partner up with vendors and other stakeholders. Without the experience cultivated there, I couldn’t have been able to get any sponsor for this book launch. Thank you, friends, you shaped my resilience.

Anggarda Paramita Hanjaya Mandala Sampoerna

Now back to writing my second book, a novel, inspired by one of the stories in RIMH; and back to Taekwondo class after 2-week break. But first, let me have that spa and massage.

 

 

 

BOOK LAUNCH – The Advertisements

“If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together.”

– African Proverb –

I have always wanted to go far with Randomness Inside My Head.

That’s how I know that I need partners to run the long miles. This book is like my first baby, my firstborn whose hands I won’t let go. I’ve prepared the book launch since early February and I know that the D-day is approaching very soon. One of the most important parts in preparing the launch is how to get the words out there. How to inform the public about my book. How to make them interested to come and listen to what I want to share with them.

I’m grateful beyond words for my running companions; the business partners who have worked hand-in-hand with me for the past long and hard-working weeks. They advertise the event; they roll out the announcement. They and I are doing everything we can to spread the information. We’ve done our best and we’ll let God do the rest.

And of course I’m also grateful beyond words for my husband, Andi Dinata, who designed all promotional materials. He’s the best for this.

Here’s some recap of the advertisements by these partners:

Ad 1_Tempo StoreAd 2_Rounder GramediaAd 3_Central Park MallAd 4_Gramedia Central ParkAd 5_Tempo.co_Kanal Gaya

 

I will see you all there!

BOOK LAUNCH: Randomness Inside My Head

Gramedia_IG

Randomness Inside My Head is my first book, a collection of twelve short stories written in English. You can find the book profile here:

https://store.tempo.co/buku/detail/BK201610070001/randomness-inside-my-head#.WNt8CFV97IU

This book is an exercise of FAITH and HARD WORK. It is also a tribute to my parents who taught me the values of PERSISTENCE and PERSEVERANCE.

Come and celebrate with me the manifestation of a dream coming true.

WHEN?

April 8, 2017 at 3 PM

WHERE?

Gramedia Bookstore

Central Park Mall 3rd Floor, Jakarta Barat

I’ll see you there!