Kuala Lumpur: A Meeting After Eight Years

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Bhumy first trip overseas, the boy excitement at 12.30 AM

I haven’t seen my ex-housemate, Bebe, after eight long years. Or even more. I just remember the first time he met his now-wife, Ili. The stormy process of their love and suddenly photos of their first daughter, Sidra. And when I had my own son, Bhumy, they had theirs, Atari. Then not long after, Bima. I saw all the process of their family through pictures, facebook and blogs.

Then suddenly we’re doing our own gardening in our own lawns, his in Selangor – Kuala Lumpur, mine in Nitiprayan – Yogyakarta. Skype chats suddenly involves the updates of our latest garden design and trying the latest experiment based on the permaculture principles. We share ideas and updates on our kids, daily in the social media.

Excitement came when the Yogyakarta – Kuala Lumpur new routes are getting as cheap as going to Jakarta or Denpasar. So it was decided that in the end of March, we will have our reunion. There is also an international street art festival happening in KL which we could see while we are there. I had to take care my son’s first passport and it is our first trip overseas together. Things went well, preparations was simple.

It was just the three hours flight delay that makes Ili and the boys pick us up in the airport at the most ungodly hours especially for the children. Somehow Bebe looks the same, accept with the very fact that he is a punk dad with the additional three kids. I remember Ili with the long hair, but nowadays she cut it short. I guess I agree with Bebe, that this trip felt like a dream, or a long wake after a dream. The long years that separate us seems make the distance feel far away and unreachable physically. But then, we are here. Me and Bhumy together.

Suddenly the trip to KL felt like a time machine. Suddenly we are all above thirty and our kids are already knocking as our next generations. Suddenly our interest met with our hope of the future: our children’s lives. We talk about raising kids, domestic issues, healthy food, recipes to cook, urban gardening, permaculture, our old friends, art scene in KL, politics in general (blah), sustainable living and basically the latest update on anything.

The next five days felt so short but it create something huge. Time always passes by. But moments are  eternal. Despite all this technology convenient mobility thing, meeting your old dear friends and family is always become the best thing that we always treasure.

UntitledOur first morning: Munching roti canai in the garden

Our kids play together, share foods and toys while us the parents sharing all the stories of our lives. I didn’t develop the interest to explore KL that much this time, accept more to seeing Bebe and Ili. While Bhumy joining the Gang Chaos: Sidra-Atari-Bima. We also have the trip together with the kids to the Padang Jawa: Street Art Festival. The children are excited to take the bus and train. Play on the streets and under the rain with the kids in Kampung Padang Jawa. It’s a refreshing side of KL. It is the other side of urbanisation never advertised in any tourism pamphlet on Malaysia. But things feel connected, the reality is real, our problems are familiar and our discussions are to search the solutions together.

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Bhumy and Atari at Padang Jawa

UntitledThe boys practicing body surfing under the rain of Padang Jawa

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Taking the bus trip with Gang Chaos

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Bhumy being nice with the local kids

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Sidra, the big sister :)

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Sidra and Bebe in the garden after a moning rain

I somehow change my perspective on visiting Malaysia after this trip, the joyful trip to Kuala Lumpur this time really makes me to look forward for further of the many trips to the home of my dearest friends and their kids :) Miss you all!

If Tomorrow We Disappear

564329_10150669284377043_1967720761_nIf tomorrow we disappear, I want to remember life as it is. As a cycle of life.

2012 has been a year of calling. And now I recall.

P1040227Of remembering my first step arriving in Dharamsala, the first snow that fall in my face and saying to myself that it is not a dream.

IMG-3815Of remembering the sea and remembering the mountain.

P1060347Of remembering the many sunrise and many sunset all over the places.
IMG_6026Of remembering the feel of home and the feel of going away.

IMG_6474Of remembering the good times and the bad ones.

IMG_6911Of remembering the death and be among the living.

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Of remembering to let go of your hate to feel loved.

IMG_5379Of remembering to share to feel rich.

IMG01216-20120402-1727Of remembering to throw all your emotional baggage in the exact bin.

P1040372P1040344Of remembering what is important and who really matters.

P1000564Of remembering in order to reconstruct you have to deconstruct and it’s a pain, and all of it goes away in the end.

mpOf remembering that the past help you to move on to the future and to be in the present.
P1010038Of remembering your own darkness and to make it your best friend in peace.

_MG_0014That going outside is merely to go deep inside yourself.

P1060212And in the end remember your balance.

_MG_0253That in the end, beauty stays. No matter what.

The last two months, after my trips from Rembang, I fall sick. I stop everything. Turn out I also need for my wisdom teeth to be pull out. Turn out also wisdom did not left me although it prolong my sickness. Sickness also is not always physical.

I’ve been sick, tired and overworked. I’ve been broken from time to time. But I have learn that I could heal myself. That the hardest thing when you feel dark is to wake up to the light. And that the undying light itself is within yourself. I learn that my parents name me, Dian, not for nothing. It mean to be the candle that never died.

And that every lesson are trying to teach you the same thing until you learn. That by learning to listen and see the universe, you realized how things are connected. Now and again. You learn and grow. And even, if tomorrow we disappear, I choose to wake up to the light.
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Sam: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?
Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for.

The Lord of the Rings – J.R. Tolkiens

Photo caption:

[1] 2012 – My first sunrise in Ternate, turn out that Sultan Tidore just passed away and the coffin come out right under my seat. Photo courtesy of Labodalih Sembiring.

[2] 2012 – Me in my Kashmiri slippers while drying my boots after a snow fall the night before, at Ladies Venture, Mcleod Ganj – Dharamsala

[3] 2005 – My long time converse sneakers, on a ferry boat trip from Merak to Bakauheuni, on the way to Lampung, it was my family last trip together before my mother got sick

[4] 2012 – Sunset in Sale, Rembang among the teak forest

[5] 2006 – My mother on her 60th birthday, two months before she died, we were from the hospital from her last chemotherapy and ate lunch in her most favorite restaurant of her lifetime, Trio Restaurant, Cikini, Jakarta

[6] 2006 – Farabi’s farewell dinner to Netherland and sleepover, minutes before my flight to Jakarta when both of my parents were critical in the hospital

[7] 2006 – My father with my brother, reading a birthday card from me, my father first birthday without my mother

[8] 2012 – Me and my son, Asabhumy, at our house in Jogjakarta

[9] 2012 – The AMAN Media team going home from Dodola Island, Morotai

[10] 2012 – Me in North Java Sea, Lasem coast

[11] 2012 – The books from New Delhi and my son, Asabhumy. My soul mates and best friends in Sangam Restaurant on Losar 2012, Labodalih Sembiring and Abmi Handayani, photo taken by Jean Pascal Elbaz

[12] 2010 – Finishing my tatto series of Om Mane Padme Hum, with Munir Toxic Tatto, Jogjakarta, photo taken by Megan Ryan

[13] 1965 – My father at 24 and my mother at 19, Buitenzorg, the photo taken by my father’s best friend who become a photographer later on (I forgot his name). It was the year when they started going out, it is also the year when darkness swept Indonesian contemporary lives.

[14] 2005 – Buddha in Borobudur Temple

[15] 2012 – Me in my journey from Ternate to Sofifi, Mount Gamalama at my back. Photo courtesy by Labodalih Sembiring

[16] 2012 – My son at the back of Inna’s house, Nitiprayan – Jogjakarta

[17] 2012 – My hot pink nails and a small white butterfly in Tobelo, in the middle of AMAN Congress. Photo courtesy by Labodalih Sembiring.

[18] 2012 – Me doing a warrior yoga pose at the dock of Dodola Island, Morotai. Photo courtesy by Labodalih Sembiring.

The Social Traveler on Indonesia Featuring Cokiliciouz

I know him since I was 16 and I finally met him when I was 23. We crossed path along the way, but we finally met in Yogyakarta. After long emails on Pablo Neruda poems, of Garcia Lorca and all the long listed favorite authors that we are both crazy with.

I come to Yogyakarta when he left. We met accidentally seven years later, not recognizing each other over beers and bilingual conversation. He thought I was Japanese and I never thought that he was Coki. He cut his famous dreadlocks by then and time changes our expectation.

Through time he become one of my great friend, part of my soul mates, my brother and the trusted uncle to my son. He is my partner in crime of the twitter timeline in making people drown with melancholia by posting the lines of our favorite poet, Pablo Neruda. We share recipes because we both love cooking. Though he complain that I never cooked for him yet and when we met it always the other way around. He is one of the amazing cook that I ever know.

I love how his tattoos grow. His amazing personalities, heart and his personal bluntness on every single thing. Above all, I’m a big fan of his works, all his writings and documentaries (click the youtube links and you will know why). Something did not change since I was 16, and my brother, Coki, happy belated birthday :)

With this video of his, it reminds me that it is so hard to not fall in love with this country. And when you did, it is so hard to keep on loving it.

Gunung Kidul: The Sacred Beach of Ngobaran

P1050968Bowing towards the sea from Ngobaran beach

She decided to free herself, dance into the wind, create a new language. And birds fluttered around her, writing “yes” into the sky. ~ Monique Duval

Entering the last month of 2012, somehow made me reflect a lot. The above quote is a summary of about how I feel this year. Those quote somehow remind me of the feeling when I arrived in Ngobaran beach. I had my first trip to Ngobaran beach with Patrick and Pak Moko. We passed the hilly roads of Gunungkidul which had that certain melancholic view, crossing the teak forest and all. Ngobaran, the word come from both Javanese and Indonesian “Kobar”. “Kobar” means flame, “ngobaran” means in flame.

The place itself believed by the local as the place where the last Hindu king from Majapahit kingdom, Brawijaya V, immolated himself to death. Some believe he is “moksa” (vanish into enlightenment). The official story which I read in the morning of the government tourism sign, was a little odd myth. It is said that the last king had two wives, they were being chased by new ruler from Demak, which are no other than one of his son, Raden Patah. Before he immolate himself he asked the two wives a question “How much is your love to me?” His second wife, Dewi Lowati, said her love is as big as the mountain. While his first wife, Bondang Surati answer that her love is like a dirty nail, where when she cut it, it will always grow. Realizing that his second wife love is lesser than the first one, he pulled Dewi Lowati to burn with him into the fire.

Although there are many tales around about the death of Brawijaya V, I found this quite intriguing. Not to mention, the surrounding temple complex. A sacred pura (temple) with Balinese style undergoing a renovation. A new looking candi recently build by the Kraton. A sacred petilasan of Brawijaya V, with wooden huts on top of the highest cliff point towards the sea. A temple build exclusively to the South Sea Queen. Caves. A mosque facing the south and next to a lingga. The diversity of beliefs in this place make it one of the favorite sacred spot for many people coming here.

IMG00660-20120917-1718A new recently build candi

P1050955Temple complex and above the hill is the petilasan

P1050980The mosque and the lingga

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Sea urchin stir fry, high protein!

Magnificent sunset from above the petilasan. Sleep under the stars by the candi. Hearing the waves all night long. Eating stir fry sea urchin of local specialty with rice and hot sambal. Entering a cave that rain from the inside. Those were the things you could do while in Ngobaran. Do things with respect because you could felt the sacred sense of this place no matter you believe the myth or not.

IMG00663-20120917-1726The magical sunset of Ngobaran

I really could stay up in Ngobaran once again, just to make it another sanctuary when I need to write my own language. Where the nature, spirit and self talked as one.

rembang: why the world need to guard their springs

P1060304lustful water of semen

don’t you just want to jump into the water?

i’m back to yogyakarta after another visit to my favorite part of the northern coast of java: rembang and lasem. i found myself complaining for the unbearable heat and the level of humidity of yogyakarta. it is the second consecutive time this year (or the past month), i’m complaining about the weather in the city i’m living. it is hotter then the coast and jakarta! (i can’t even believe i’m saying this).

while the world just seen a huge storm passes new york, us living in the archipelago have been seeing the change in climate where things become unpredictable. even for us living only with two season: the wet season and the dry season, the weather is so confusing. i remember just in september i’m still snuggling in my tibetan blanket at cold summery nights and finding myself clenching my teeth while taking my late motorcycle ride against the cold wind. nowadays i’m surviving daily at my house in the thinnest balinese sarong. the weather is wrong, people. climate change is here and it is no bullshit.

the last navicula borneo tour give me the glimpse of how bad our last rainforest remains. it’s around 25% forest left in borneo. human greed is such a major destruction to this planet. please check paul daley blog for more information on the attempt in maintaining our borneo rainforest.

P1060292the teak forest preservation, sale, rembang

while now, in the remembrance of the hot afternoon in rembang, i reflected to the many spring water that i’ve seen surviving and should maintain that way. i went up to sale, rembang in the forest preservation area where they have a spring called semen. it was to my surprise that the coastal area of rembang hide this beauty from the last time i was there.

P1060293semen spring in sale, rembang

P1060294the other pond of the spring

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other side of the spring

it is just a spontaneous trip inspired out of rembang afternoon heat. although before i do wanted to see sale, where one of my old friend puthut ea come from and hear all about it in his story from time to time. this spring is where he learn first time to swim. we packed fruits from the local market (finding myself being excited with the local varieties which are getting rare in the big cities). passing teak wood forest and suddenly finding the little forest hideout where a beautiful spring shyly welcome us.

P1060310proudly wearing the lasem batik

i changed myself to a borrowed lasem navy blue batik and took my first dip. it was a quiet afternoon. the local herdsman let his goats roamed around the field nearby the spring. pop put on his italian oldies song with portable speaker. the sensation of swimming in a spring hidden by a little forest took to another level. we spend hours in the spring and not wanting to get out from the cool calm water. i spent time staring at the sky among the trees while laying back on the water and remembering what it’s like to feel being hidden and covered by so many big trees. it is such a peaceful feeling. in a moment like this i often just want to thank to life for each beautiful gift. for each beautiful moment.

in the afternoon the local kids come to swim and some families also take some dip. pop said this feels like family picnic in the late 1980s. the rest of the guys quietly munching on juwet (the javanese grape) and pomegranate. i guess somehow time didn’t move there and in this spring we all voluntarily trap ourselves in its enhancement.

P1060325enchanted forest

i believe every single spring is sacred. people were not allow to cut trees around the spring so as not to dry the source of underground water. for some spring i found the water come under the tree itself. i found in many local tales that a spring is “keramat” (could mean sacred but could mean spooky for some) for many local beliefs. i personally think our ancestor mean for every single of us to show our respect towards nature.

in some ways i feel in indonesia we have plenty of water, often in abundance. but taking this for granted is a wrong move. in our big cities nowadays clean water is scarce. the jakarta river – citarum is the number one most polluted river in the world. rembang case itself, along the way to the spring, i found just across the teak preservation area is one of the many karst mining site ruining the natural landscape of rembang. it could even dry their river and water resources. it is a heartbreaking sight.

P1060340reality bites: preservation versus mining in rembang

i suddenly remember the mystery of easter island story, where they were building up their statue to praise their gods and using lots of wood in putting them straight up on the ground. until they came to the last tree, they decided to cut it and their civilization going downhill to the path of annihilating themselves. we should learns from these kind of stories. that whatever development of civilization human wants themselves going, it would not last without the consciousness by going in line and harmony with their natural surrounding. that the real progress is existing in the human heart to really appreciate what they have and take care of it. i really hope that we would not found ourselves in deciding to cut the last tree standing. we should guard our spring water for the importance and existence of living beings in this planet.

P1060320river nearby the spring and hope it never runs dry

north halmahera: wangongira – tobelo dalam

_MG_0283wangongira sacred spring, photo courtesy of labodalih sembiring

water is our life. most of my travel somehow end up with water. i’ve been even collecting spring water from various springs lately. i even put water as part of bhumy name: wisesa, means water in javanese sanskrit. as while i was pregnant with him, i spent once in two days swimming in the spring just 2 kilometers away from our house then. living in jogjakarta made me being accustom in the tradition of swimming or taking a late night dip in the springs. in the traditional javanese belief, spring water is sacred. they even have the tradition of kungkum, means, meditation in the water.

one of my biggest impression in my tobelo days is the spring in wangongira. we first heard about it in our third day while meeting with the village elders. the village elders from wangongira reminded me with gandalf version of tobelo people and them-whose-name-could-not-be-spoken (but you can write them down). while preparing for the “nusantara water ritual” ceremony in tobelo as the sacred water bearers, their main resource of water itself is being threatened. the national water company (PAM) is currently building their water tank so near to their spring.

wangongira spring is very unique. various type of paddy plant grow in the middle of the spring. they used to held traditional ceremony celebrating their harvest. now the paddy in the middle of the spring is gone, only some grow scattered downstream.

IMG02160-20120417-1219sacred various type rice-paddy plants used to grow here, where the rocks are now :(

we somehow end up going there with the regent inspection hearing about the issue. the track could only be done by a four wheel drive and it’s impossible to be passed when it’s raining heavily. it was a jumpy ride for all of us. the car nearly stumbled twice on our way.

the wangongira spring is so beautiful, i touched the water firsthand to say hi, the rocks that ruins them broke my heart instantly. i feel like crying. i asked the regent a very straight question: “does tobelo has problem with water, that this kind of thing need to happen?”, he answered that it’s not but if tobelo become a big city, it would be. the incident is that PAM before promised the villagers to build the water tank 100 meters away from the spring, somehow they decided to build their water tank so near with the spring and ruin the sacred paddy plant.

IMG02165-20120417-1223PAM water tank on the spring

i never got the idea with this logic of such development. that a city have to grow so big, it sucked everything to the center. it sucked other people’s life, such as the wangongirans to support their existence. the wangongirans rely their daily needs of water from the spring. one more thing that makes me choke, that this water project runs for 90 billions rupiah from the central ternate government. it’s so obvious the motive of this useless and unnecessary project. f*k it.

IMG02168-20120417-1518path to some semi-avatar world

522871_10150677174072043_2101248955_nwangongira village, tobelo, photo courtesy of labodalih sembiring

IMG02172-20120417-1537crosses on the ground

the only thing that could calm me down is to take a dip into the spring water. beforehand we should ask permission: tabea molulu. the story goes that a long time ago, one of their ancestor from huana lina, a women walked from the hills carrying some newly harvested paddy. she fell from the hill and the paddy plant fall to the spring. and that’s how the legend of wangongira spring started.

_MG_0319the ladies throwing their water buckets, photo courtesy of labodalih sembiring

_MG_0329me and rinto taking some water back to the villagers, photo courtesy of labodalih sembiring

_MG_0330rinto passing filled water buckets, photo courtesy of labodalih sembiring

me and dalih decided to take a walk around the village. our local youth guide is rinto. he is so funny and hilarious. he took us around and nicely answered all of our questions. we ended up taking another dip while waiting for the car to come back to take us.

we were helping the women villagers in filling their water upstream, while some workers were throwing rocks to the spring. the village children were also around helping to carry the water back to their mothers. and suddenly someone screamed: watch out snake! me and rinto swam back and running to the small hill. half of the people watch a medium size snake going into the water. half of them did not. while catching back my breath from running, our driver was back.

suddenly rain pour heavily. it was like flooding from the sky. our car could not start either. we nearly did not make it back if the rain last more than 30 minutes. at the 20th minutes, i remembered something, i haven’t say bye to the spring and the place, while panicking along the running to the hills thing. i said in my heart: tabea molulu, thank you for today and someday we will be back again. we ask permission to go home now. the rain stopped, the car ignited. in a place like this, you should believe in the spirit of the place.

IMG02159-20120417-1215the downstream from the spring

i prayed one day, human could conquer their greed and stop exploiting mother nature. i wish to still see my son and other children could still play in these amazing water. i owe wangongira a promise to go back again one day. i hope this nature beauty stays in their place.

for more about this story: A Public Works Project Threatens Rice Harvest in Remote Indonesia (by Labodalih Sembiring)

solo: rumah turi – green heaven inside the city

P1010818the green hotel of solo, rumah turi

solo is my father’s hometown. it is a place where i always visit with my family every few years in my childhood. although in my adult years, yogyakarta become my own home, i rarely visit solo. not as much as when i was a little, even when it’s just 2 hours away by train.

but when i did, i always find solo changing so much. it feel much more industrial then yogyakarta. where more business is growing, which make the city have a different ambience compare to yogyakarta.

though the last development, created something very interesting like rumah turi. it is one of the green hotel existing, design and made by an indonesian, pak paulus. it used all recycle material, have their own hanging vegetable garden and recycle their own water use. it is one of the many surprise of solo that i found.

located in the middle of housing alleys near the bustling solo paragon, it is a very soothing to see this many greenery and a breath of fresh air. for a time i found a little green heaven in solo.

P1010822vegetable patches above the dining room

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P1010792water recycling management

P1010807path to the hanging garden

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P1010785i love this light installation of the dining room, day and night

P1010781cool atmosphere at night

black and white series: pacitan – pancer beach

P1050865asabhumy, my son at pancer beach

i always love black and white photos. often they feel dramatic. capturing all the stillness of a moment. taking a trip to pacitan is like a little remedy, on the things i’ve been missing. watching the waves always take your sorrow away. it cleanse you out. anyways, i think i should take photography again.

P1050826 copysmall bhumy

P1050836 copylarasati at the beach

P1050845martial art practice

P1050846 copyboy drinking milk in the boat

P1050875surfers at boat point

P1050871a lone boat

P1050866black and white sunset

ubud: organic products to die for

cantika rose hair series, photo source (she is a great designer btw)

in the wake of finding the perfect shampoo, stumbling the variety of organic products of ubud were basically sending you to the seventh heaven. starting to committing myself for decreasing my daily chemical consumption, i found interest in hunting for local findings. where once i found an organic shampoo in jogja and since then there’s no way back to those manufactured products (i even say bye to bodyshop, read ingredients, people).

i found cantika in ubud. my friend could swear it is one of the best spa in heaven (err, the world), i did not manage to try it the last time i was in ubud, but manage to brought home some of their products. using them the last two months are amazing. my short hair become very wavy, shiny, jet black. in the hottest day of jogjakarta’s sun, the coolness of their shampoo stayed. such a fabulous sexy smell also!

cantika massage oil, image source

i’m loving their massage oil, it’s very relaxing and they have a little balinese arak in it.

P1050655bluestone products, lavender natural soap and javanese garden mist

bluestone product is another thing. they are specializing on aromatherapy oil and balm. but their soap are amazing, i used the lavender daily and never felt the need for extra moisture. although i love body products often i’m very practical and lazy to do the whole routine. soap with extra moisture are always great. the javanese garden mist i used daily on anything, from pillows to my yoga mat. the good news, they ship all over indonesia.

P1050659bluestone lavender

organic soaps texture are very mild to the skins. i really love their cakey texture. that’s why when i saw kou’s soap, me and mia (she is a soap lover also) pass their shop, we scream.

P1050653kou jasmine soap

P1050654kou lemon mint and vanilla heaven soap (yes, they come in small bars)

kou products also including natural jam and salt. their jam is making some reputation so far i heard, i would try it next time. for the soaps you can buy the small bars per 100 grams, which are a good news when you want to try everything in the shop.

so another trip to ubud again?

kintamani: lakeview – freshness from home

P1050612terong belanda (tamarillo) and orange homemade ice cream of lakeview resto – kintamani

i would recommend anyone going to kintamani to see the batur mountain and the lake, to take a stop here. either for lunch or dinner, some herbal tea in a cold afternoon is always good.

staying at lakeview hotel and having the dining experience here, you can’t help to feel the familiarity in every bites. the sweetness, the spice and the homemade feeling of everything. not to mention the freshest salad ever made by the manager himself, kadek khrisna adidharma, freshly picked from their own garden. cakes and cookies are fresh from the oven and it is good with their special herbal tea.

i can’t help to feel the tranquil feeling when i saw the view from the dining area. eating should be a beautiful ritual like this. in kintamani, eating among the mountain view and misty lake. you know life has been good and would always will be.

P1050619tamarillo jam with banana pancake, lakeview resto – kintamani

P1050628best salad ever!

P1050631fish satay, lakeview resto – kintamani

P1050643buffet pick from the local range of food, lakeview resto – kintamani