leaving beloved amboina past few decades, finally i am able to make my home coming. flabbergasted that i missed so many things as the years goes by. i used to live in secluded-tranquil-leafy bay overlooking the hills and this moment i have to “jump” on honking roads, blaring and blasting motorbikes and cars in the city centre.
“sweetheart, have a look. there’s thousand stars above us,” my beloved ones showing the evening landscape in front of us. it’s a bright lovely evening sky within a national park.
(c) ukirsari, 2009
we are holding hands to each other, walking through the grassy path. companied by jaka, our slovenian friend. a neighbour at the guest house. a huge landscape, brings my memory back to loksado, in one of a kalimantan forest, where i feel the night sky was so close upon my face and i can catch one of those stars with my fingers.
i was too ‘busy’. to feel how can a billion stars comes out at the same time in one night. blinking in the distance and showering us with dims light. then phosphorous mushrooms on the trees and the fireflies. that’s a magical experience for me.
and now, i feel quite the same. without any additional phosphorous things. only three of us, under a grandiose sky with the thousand stars.
within walking distance, we can see the shadows of the sumatran elephants (Elephas maximus sumatrensis). nicholas and i are falling in love with this place, since we find our baby boy here; a two months old elephant in 2006.
and we became repeat visitors ever since. especially when we find a wild baby girl afterwards –oh, doesn’t mean to forget to mention, there’s another elder baby girl in the community. but since she looks so berserk, we never befriend with her. we knew her and the opposite. after a baby boy and baby girl, they have a new tamed ‘sibling’.
a baby boy again, to whom we gave a ‘special’ name, since we don’t like his real name. sounds not so gorgeous, bearing only an event something. and just like the previous babies, we love to cuddle him and playing all day long. he’s so lovely and a giver; bring reeds to nicholas, allow us to hear his funny voice, then hiding behind the bush.
in our latest visit, two mother elephants just gave births. two wonderful baby boys. but we have to say goodbye after few days visit, as we have to back for works. and in the meantime, we want to share this happiness –being having new babies— and play with them, whilst introducing them to our neighbour; jaka.
it’s a real joyful playing under the thousand stars. especially nicholas who ‘attacked’ by our baby boy –not the eldest since he’s stay overnight in the forest with his mom and dad.
later we think; probably since his nature as nocturnal, everything looks brighter in the dark. and another ‘theory’, he didn’t like being addressed by his real name. we can not help but smile, when he try to tackle jaka with his back feet. nicholas said, “turn around, turn around,” but our baby is faster than him.
i watch the mom who look after her baby boy with the torch on. then talk to our baby girl, since she’s not interesting to do crazy with us but keep on busy grassing all the time. well behave. a strange concept for a wild. but probably she just need to spend longer time to adapt with her new ‘family’ after spend such two years by her own and the keeper or mahout. so i ‘talk’ with her, whilst nicholas and jaka keep on playing with the baby boy.
then time to say goodbye had came. we whispering that we love them and we definitely will come back again. and our baby boy, again and again … coming closer and closer, just like unspoken words, “oh please don’t go. come, i want to play again,” so we have to bring him closer to his mom. several times, until we say, “come on, that’s mommy calling, come on ….”
we walk to the mahouts’ barrack and spend about an hour or so, talking with them. down-to-earth people, language barriers and things that drive me into situation; nothing wrong with the keepers and so does the travelers. only system screw up humanitarian sometimes, somehow.
we knew jaka by coincidence, when the officers find a difficulty to explain the room rate. but what choice he can get, if the option only take it or leave it?
nicholas and i get difficultness as jaka had, since long time ago. a place can be so helpful, and the rest full of mess.
and i feel sorry since we’re talking about a motherland, place where i was born. i love the country, where my ancestors shared their bloods and i get a wonderful name. the first air i had taken in breathing and i spend half of my childhood. but please, why erase those wonderful things, including nature wonders and its rare animals by something calling damages? bad behaviours, mannerless, disobey etiquettes and money talks all included. so sad.
of course i don’t want to ruins our last day in the national park with those stupidities and cynical point of views. we chill out at the night and thank jaka for his appearance as the only neighbour we have.
especially to swap the creepy atmosphere which surrounded guest house, after someone passed away about 2 months ago –and it’s not pretty far from our place.
we shared so many stories, independent travelers’ stories. and we’re surprised how can be we got 100% same-identical scams that jaka and nicholas experienced when they’re in jogja; i can not stop laugh since their visit separatedly almost 10 years in difference but both got the same sweet lips saying, “it must be your lucky day, we will make a batik exhibition in the usa and this is the last day you can buy their art work.”
we got dinner with cakes [nicholas and i. we like to say thank for our old food seller who always provided these cake for us] and fried rice, tomato and cucumber [for jaka].
and top notch for this ‘gala dinner’ was sharing our last baileys with jaka. poor that we don’t bring any glasses with us during this trip, so we use mineral water bottle that cut into a half. it’s nice, a serene environment with nocturnal voices from the distance. wild boars, barking deers and buffalos pay a visit to our guest house.
it’s a nice discussion about what should jaka does in his last days before leaving indonesia, and again we laugh for his “smart book” a real mini book content of national anthem, heroes, chemistry, learning language, natural sciences, seven wonders and all kind abstraction about knowledge that indonesian students take in their school.
“so you should keep extra money to buy unpredictable souvenir like my book or quite similar like this during your trip with interstate bus,” he added.
also we compared our rooms; nicholas and i, we’d have ‘presidential suite’. huge, twin beds, one extra bed, hanger, a table and two chairs without electricity. and jaka got ‘superior room’. smaller, twin beds, only one chair but showering with light. we can not help but laugh; you get what you pay for!
then top of the ‘drama’ being addressing our own rooms with presidential and superior was, a frog just jumping in to jaka’s water tank. so he used ours that looks bigger, which locked by nicholas’ padlock whilst we’re away –to prevent the unknown ‘guests’.
three of us keep do chit-chatting until two hours remains from the departure. nicholas and i already packed all our luggage, so we’re easily wake up and preparing ourselves before leaving the guest house in early morning.
we liked our latest experiences in the national park. i see there’s still thousand stars remain when we climb up the main gate –thank you for locking all entrance gates when we told you we’ll leaving very early, officer!
* several things to be seen and experienced in londinivm *
(c) nicholas ingram
small note: some of the postings we did here in our blog can provide info to the readers. sure, can be taken as additional info. but mind you to do it with etiquette of permission for linking. do not copy bad behaviour as follows.
st paul’s cathedral: a gorgeous church in the medieval city
i do enjoy to stay pretty close with st paul’s. it’s looks glorious during the daylight and when the night fall. and only within walking distance to the millenium bridge that passed over river thames to direction of tate modern.
sir christopher wren is the architect of this medieval church [1675 – 1721] and amongst the famous people who buried at this site are lord nelson [admiral horatio nelson], sir wren himself and duke of wellington.
it’s prohibited to take photographs inside the chapel of all souls and once you go to the golden gallery [after whispering gallery] that located about 350 feet above the churchyard, you can have nice views about london city. from distance can be seen the gherkin and not so far can be seen millenium bridge which leads to tate modern.
phone: 0 20 7236 4128
address: st pauls churchyard, ec4
directions: st paul’s underground/tube only 5 minutes walking. bus nr 15 [aldwych, fleet street, tower hill] also leading to st paul’s cathedral.
trafalgar square: the way to salute a national hero
trafalgar square where the column of sir admiral nelson standing tall is a place where the people gather around. all over the world. all travelers. picturing to each others whilst enjoy the time sitting on the base of the column which ‘guarded’ by four giant lions.
and the monument itself surrounded by another london’s landmarks like national gallery, st martin-in-the field church, whitehall and leicester square [one of my eldest teddy was bought here :)]
nelson column became one of my must see or visit activity everytime i go to london. because my dad was a big fan of admiral nelson! and from him i learn about histories and navy and to see london from a nice perspective.
the monument of lord nelson is 185 feet above the fountain which designed by sir edwin lutyens [remind me of state palace in new delhi, india. also designed by him].
address: trafalgar square, wc2
directions: charing cross or leicester square tubes
national gallery: breathless for the hay wain
one of my dream about visiting london since i was a kid is to see the hay wain, a lovely painting by john constable made-in 1821. and just now i have opportunity to witnessing how it looks at the national gallery.
(c) nicholas ingram
so breathless and so speechless. very very nice. it’s a bout a small cabin and a wain or carthorse and nice scenery of river stour in suffolk. and surprise me, since the landscape and scenery –apart from the hay wain– is stay the same nowadays. can be seen by those who like constable’s hay wain. even a bit crowded on summer!
phone: 0 20 7747 2885
address: trafalgar square, wc2
directions: charing cross or leicester square tubes
cabinet war rooms: ready to attack!
i got my dad’s influence at this point. another of his british idols is sir winston churchill. so here we are. visit cabinet war rooms. a museum dedicated to churchill’s role during the world war II.
cabinet war rooms is annexed to prime minister’s residency at downing street nr 10. it’s a bunker where churchill stay when the war spread out through europe.
how serious but funny and witty sir churchill was, can be seen by photographs and memorabilia. such as a bloody big map of europe with sketches of adolf hitler made from pencil at the center. or, churchill’s hobby to witnessing the bombardier of london city by enemies from atop of his bunker! another fine example is a description about churchill’s collection: maps. so, different with other people who like to put wallpaper on, he prefer to cover his bedroom with maps. he can still learn before fallen asleep.
address: clive steps, king charles st, sw 1
directions: tube: westminster, st james’ park
piccadilly circus: enchanting eros statue
this eros became one of my favourite landmarks in london. since a quite same the eros which located at the back yard of fatahillah museum in jakarta, indonesia [my country] and the other one is a replica, guarding a small bridge to direction kota, old city of jakarta. so every time we pass this eros, our memories goes to our [another] country.
lucky me to have a picture with composition like this: all looks oldies around the eros. since if you take picture from different angle, slightly to opposite direction, you can see the bloody big billboard which advertise many things so makes the eros less bewitched.
address: piccadilly circus, sw1
directions: piccadilly circus tube
whitehall and downing street: changing guardsmen
apart of changing guardsmen which held in buckingham palace, watching the ‘ceremony’ at the whitehall, house of the guards is one of our favourite things during in london.
i like the guardsmen’ parade with their unique uniform in buckingham palace. but in whitehall, the horse-guards looks so gorgeous.
address: whitehall, sw1
directions: charing cross or westminster tubes
soho and the west end: do not leave london before visiting london’s theatres
phantom stated, “come on sing .. sing … sing my angel of music.” thus, christine start to sing, “think of me, think of me fondly when we say goodbye …. remember me …”
oh, please. do not leave london without enjoy a show that performed in west end’s theatres. one of the most memorable during the years, of course the greatest london’s love story: phantom of the opera 🙂
amongst our lists are: her majesty’s theatre [we enjoyed phantom of the opera] and duke of york’s theatre [we watched no man’s land]. another are the old vic [at the south bank, waterloo road. we saw king richard II], piccadilly theatre [grease], prince of wales theatre [mamma mia!], theatre royal, drury lane [oliver], english national opera [eno] and etc, etc.
another option is for those who like movies. odeon provided the newest screenings all the time. and there’s opportunity to meet up with world-wide class celebrities at the movie premieres.
british museum: ample time to visit the whole of the museum
in british museum, time flies so fast. and it never be enough to spend a single day to see all of their collections. so reading the lists on the panel or souvenir book when entering the museum to decide where you’ll leap to the section today.
so far we just covered egypt section [rooms 4, 61 – 66], rosetta stone [room 4], sutton ho treasure [room 41], greece [rooms 11 – 23], greece and rome [rooms 69 – 73, 77 – 85]
phone: 0 20 7323 8299
address: great russell street, wc1
directions: holborn tube
tower of london: the bloody history of england
“history has written and has been told by the party who win the war,” said the yeoman warder who became our guide tour in tower of london. he’s one amongst those yeomen warders, provides the information for those who visit tower of london.
we do enjoy his explanation. including that statement which said by him in a quite funny way. ring you a bell? yes! i remember that from the monologue of braveheart –enchantingly performed by mel gibson 😉
but he then added with some fact. especially about traitor’s gate. amongst the prisoners were –yes exactly– william wallace and sir walter raleigh.
the way the yeoman describe, telling and guiding us a real enjoyment. to have a job like this, is not easy. since he must be qualified as a ranking officer and serviced in the battlefield. so indeed, this is an interesting visit, apart of the palace itself.
many tortures and executions had been held here. no wonder there are haunted stories of the bloody tower and wakefield tower. but there are also kept the armouries, thrones and other regalia which are very interesting.
phone: 0 20 7709 0765
address: tower hill, ec3
directions: tower hill tube
river thames: many gorgeous bridges and lovely scenes of london
england’s most famous river, thames divided london into two embankments. so there are many bridges –including the oldies– had been built across the river. can be designated as romantic walk in the evening.
the most famous is tower bridge and several has their own charming styles.
examples: hammersmith’s bridge [with open air pubs along the river and mooring people’s boats on canal], wibbly-wobbly millenium bridge for pedestrians [connecting st paul’s cathedral area to tate modern] and westminster bridge [a london’s landmark where almost tourists picturing themselves with big ben and houses of parliament located on the back.
directions: find river thames and walk along the embankment, can be seen easily. for hammersmith’s, take underground to earl’s court
parks and gardens: choose your own favourite garden
a garden, a park or a communal open air ‘lounge’ is something can spoil you on holiday. on summer, take a nap under the trees is nice or reading a book can be done too. in autumn, enjoy the colour changing from the trees and winds blowing the leaves, then leaves subsides one by one. it can be said somewhat romantic 😉
so, choose your own favourite garden. hyde park, royal botanic garden kew, richmond park and many more. those are lovely.
and for me personally … the old cemetery at hyde park is like a gem in busy london. karl marx’s tombstone can be visited and this garden included as setting in english’s most dramatic love story: phantom of the opera.
buckingham palace: welcome to the ultimate monarch!
the grandeur buckingham palace and their special [all season] changing guardsmen are listed as the reason for tourists in visiting london. all activities will stop suddenly whenever the guardsmen lead a parade throughout the gate.
it’s gorgeous and bring the feeling to the ultimate monarch. yes, great britain is indeed one of the oldest monarchy state in the world!
address: the mall, sw1
directions: green park tube
a dedication to the navy: british navy monument
we love this place very much. situated next to the tower hill underground, not so far from fenchurch street and tower of london. it’s dedicated for all british navy who serviced the country during the wars.
remind me to my beloved dad. sailing away. going to unknown seas and oceans. for the country.
here can be found a huge monument with full enlisted names from the men and the ships. and a greenery field with flags and oak leaves … a peaceful mind in mine.
and a huge neptune god put at the corner of the monument area.
address: tower hill
directions: tower hill tube
* where to stay in london?
for us, london is so lively. a medieval city with so many tourist spots scattered along the way. what we love is to take weekend in london and stay at the closest places of our fave tourists attractions [thanks for 20 minutes journey by train. it’s really a bless 🙂 ].
amongst our favourite lists are situated next to st paul’s cathedral [cater line], piccadilly circus and nearby british museum [bloomsbury].
unique qualities: there are dormitories and private room that matching with our criteria, included breakfast. and within walking distance to our fave places to be visited 🙂
* transportation: underground and the double decker
getting to/around: our fave mass transportation around london of course the tube and the old double decker. can be warm in autumn – wintertime and the opposite, drag us into sauna during summer. but as tom becker commented in little britain [opening speech], that’s made so moist and fragrant 🙂 of course i just pick the words and there’s no relation on it. only to express how fun to use the mass transportation, a feeling that i’m not get it yet in my other country. something so “fundabeedozy” :d
public house [pub] changed the function throughout the years. not only serving brewery and ale as drinking establishment but also serving the meals. there are several kind of pubs which serving meals: during lunchtime only or until evening falls [dinner].
in our lists are: the minories [love the uniquely of designs, the ‘underground’ viaduct and bricks exposed un-cemented], princess of prussia, chesfire cheese [love the food, traditional english], the blackfriars [love the details of interiors and exteriors], the blue anchor and … lord moon of the mall [for guiness and strongbow’s cider].
favorite dish: sometimes we have meals and sometimes enjoy the evening falls. all gorgeous 🙂