Music and Waterfalls in Bali

It’s 2018. Another trip to Bali was booked. What’s the agenda this time? The Weeknd live at Djakarta Warehouse Project (DWP) 10th Anniversary in Bali.

I love going to festivals, despite the aftermath aches on my body the following day or two. Festivals and concerts are fun. I get to watch, dance and sing (or shout) along to my favorite artists performing before me in the midst of humid nights. I’d go to any extent to not miss out.

DWP is annually held in Jakarta since 2008. Starting small at the renowned club Blowfish, DWP spread its famous Garuda-inspired wings to a bigger festival area, bringing the best international and local DJs much loved by EDM enthusiasts. You can see a bunch of national flags flown against the neon lasers and smokes as people from different nationalities and backgrounds gather for one thing: music. So on DWP’S 10th anniversary, they decided to go all out in the newly formed Garuda Wisnu Kencana (GWK) in Bali.

THE WEEKND. MUSIC. GIRLS TRIP. BEACH CLUBS. WATERFALLS. SHOPPING. DANCING. DRAG PERFORMANCES. MARTINIS.

We pre-gamed with the deliciously classic Nasi Campur Bali then headed straight to GWK to catch The Weeknd’s first-ever live performance in Indonesia. He sang some of my favorite songs and sounded impeccable. Phone signal was very weak as hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people were roaming around. It was insane!

Bali has several enchanting waterfalls worth to visit up north. Chasing waterfalls started to become a thing in our travels as well. So this time around, we sought to be little explorers. Hey, taking pictures at waterfalls is challenging per se, alright. *queue Waterfalls by TLC and my favorite swimsuit purchase*

Left to right: Tukad Cepung, Katolampo and Tibumana Waterfalls

Tranquil Derawan

This is by far one of my favorite travel memories of my life!

After jetting on two planes, a 2-hour drive to the ferry terminal in Berau and another hour or two boat ride, we finally stepped our feet on the docks of our hotel in Derawan. Located in East Kalimantan, the Derawan Islands consist of 31 islands, including the famous Derawan, Maratua, Sangalaki and Kakaban. Mind you, we were very close to the equator.

We stayed at this quaint overwater bungalow. It gets pitch dark at night with strong wind and waves throughout the day. We were living on a small island for three days. Obviously, we immediately walked to the beach – absolutely stunning!!

At 7am, we had our breakfast overlooking the ocean. We got picked up by the tour guide. There were almost 20 of us in that boat. The first stop was Kakaban. It’s famous because you can swim with various types of jellyfishes that won’t sting. Then we headed out to snorkel in open water. My goodness it was gorgeous!

It was nearing lunch time so the guide took us to an island nearby to have a picnic. Full and re-energized, we headed to Maratua. My fucking goodness, I did something terrifying! I jumped off a 6m tall cliff in a cave! Fuck. I couldn’t do it. Everyone was urging and supporting me to just jump. My whole body was shaking. Until the guide came up and gave him his hand to me, I finally jumped. It was fucking mortifying. I can’t believe I did that. I then soothed my tensions with tea at the Bora Bora of Indonesia.

We slept so well that night despite being sunburnt. Two blondes applied a spf 5 tanning oil underneath the burning sunlight near the equator. Don’t be like us. We were still stoked to island hop around though.

We spent hours just snorkeling in the calm and crystal clear waters, seeing huge sea turtles as well as tons of corals and fishes.

It was Indomie time (duh!). We noticed bicycle rentals around so we decided to bike around this small island. Definitely do that as you welcome the sunset. It made us forget about our sunburn.

Our last day sadly arrived. Our sunburns were very much excruciating at this point. It’s a surprise we made it through the long journey back home.

I am absolutely grateful this trip happened. I was absolutely happy – even I’m smiling right now. If you love exploring marine life, staying in a small island, and building memories with your loved ones, Derawan is highly recommendable for your next island holiday.

2am Things

I was on a night shift. The man behind the camera was too. We were utterly bored and sleepy but we had a responsibility to be on standby. Out of nowhere, he took out his camera and asked whether I’d be down to model for him.

It was our first photoshoot together. I just followed along according to his vision. He wanted to go for a grunge vibe, I believe. He used a couple props to take the photos which I had never thought of, like using a cloth to illuminate the subject (moi).

I love how the pictures came out in black and white. It gives off a timeless elusion and mystery. It gives me Lana Del Rey’s Paradise era.

As Lana Del Rey sang, I heard that you like the bad girls honey, is that true?

Another Trip Around the Sun

I am blessed and grateful to embark on another trip around the sun.

Yes, I’m a Leo baby. Leo sun and moon, Taurus rising to be exact. That’s a lot of Leo energy but I’m grounded from my earth rising.

Wait….should I write about astrology again? I once did for work! It’s a piece on astrology’s affiliation in our daily lives. One of my favorite articles I’ve written – I take interest in astrology after all. You can read it here. If you’ve done reading that, I’d like to ask something: Do you think astrology is real?

I feel like some of us get too ecstatic when we welcome the New Year or our birthdays as a starting point to make changes in our lives. I don’t know about you, but I’m trying not to have this mindset. Change could happen if you’re willing to take action, right? So, why wait till the number in the calendar or birthday cake candles change?

Perhaps it was two years ago, I made a doctor’s appointment while not catching any zzz’s the night before, as I had to go to work. I couldn’t risk oversleeping from a nap. I decided to get brunch instead.

Devouring the avocado toast, I saw a bunch of people passing by in gym wear. I was intrigued. I thought it would be a boutique studio or something. It was a gym. I never intended to join a gym because I was happy with taking classes at boutique studios and following Blogilates on YouTube. But I still went upstairs to check out the gym. Suddenly, I held my gym membership card on my hand.

I actually found joy and enthusiasm to go to the gym. Look, I never had ripped abs but I was feeling amazing about myself. I put my mind into joining a Sunday, 8am hot yoga class. I’m not a morning person at all. There I was at the end of the class feeling relaxed. We just gotta let life go on while taking actions towards our goals – accepting and trying to make the most of our presents.

It’s hard. At least I find it hard to do. I’ll never forget my surf instructor, bli Sam, telling me,

You’re not present with where you are and what you’re doing. Your mind keeps on scattering elsewhere, disabling you to reel this all in. That’s why you slip while getting up on the surfboard.

He was right. My body was there, I was determined to stand up on the board and fucking surf, but I couldn’t because I was thinking about other irrelevant matters. That was truly an awakening to get my shit together.

I don’t know where this rant is supposed to go on. So here’s me being an unapologetic Leo.

Lively Malang

Malang offers delicious Eastern Javanese delicacies like nasi pecel, rawon (if you’re not plant-based) and bakso Malang (also not plant-based friendly). Malang offers nature as well. See the thing about Indonesia is that wherever you go, the nature surrounding this huge archipelago is surrounded by luscious greens, tall trees, waterfalls, beaches, mountains, hills, etc. You’ll find forests, beaches, hills and even a mountain!  

I visited Malang in 2017 with some friends. It was an interesting, fun trip! A waterfall we went to called Tumpak Sewu, or what we dubbed as “Indonesia’s Niagara Falls”, is located 2,5 hours east off Malang in town called Lumajang. I’m not a hiker but this waterfall was worth it!! Too bad we only managed halfway – the further route was in bamboo ladders and we were honestly skeptical about it.

Who would’ve thought that Malang had breathtaking beaches? The southern coast of Malang offered many breathtaking beaches which you can choose. Unfortunately, two beaches across this particular coastline were in low tide season so only Tiga Warna Beach was the most possible option where we could catch waves. Sadly though, there were tons of garbage in the waters. It disgusted me but the water was so relaxing. You get the dilemma right? Now to get there, boy, you have to trek through a forest for at least 20 minutes – depending on your walking speed. It was definitely a new yet exciting experience to get to a beach.  

Sunset at Watu Leter Beach was pure serene. It was empty and the waves seemed to hit hard. The soft (and clean) sand was relaxing to lay down as we waited for the sun to set into darkness.  

Still sticking to embracing mother nature’s beauty. I (sorta) conquered my fear of heights. I went Paragliding bitches!!!!!!!! Paragliding is definitely something I would absolutely do again. For more or less than 10 minutes gliding from the hills to a field surrounded by paddy, I felt free. Is this what a bird feels like? I wondered. So would I paraglide from a higher hill in the future? DUH! But I wouldn’t want to wait too long at the hill as it lead me feeling so anxious.  I have a video of my take-off but I’m having technical issues to get it uploaded. So stay tuned.

If you’re thinking of going to Malang, GO! Go soak in the hot sun as you explore the nature or maybe go to Batu Secret Zoo during the day, then play at the local-friendly theme park called BTS or feel the cooling night breeze while indulging in delicious Indonesian street foods at Alun-Alun Batu by night.

Malang is a lively town, alright. I’m open to another escapade.

Clothes Exude Confidence Too

Growing up, my mother made sure to instill familiarity in traditional Indonesian clothing. I’ve been donning a kebaya for special occasions like weddings, formal celebrations of Indonesia’s independence day and so forth.

Kebaya was worn as everyday clothes in Indonesian colonial era. It could be casual or extravagant. Imagine how period films portray women donning those over-the-top corsets and dresses requiring another person’s assistance. Well, the kebaya is the simplified Indonesian version. Corsets aren’t mandatory but it gives a certain oomph to the woman wearing a kebaya, in my opinion. I don’t know how women back then function by wearing corsets everyday. Nowadays, Indonesian women wear it on their wedding days, to attend weddings or on Kartini Day. Some still wear it casually too, but it’s more of a needle in a haystack – unless you go to Yogyakarta.

I like wearing the kebaya because I feel confident, feminine and powerful.

As one of my friends got married, I was given fabric to transform into my bridesmaid dress. The other bridesmaids showed up with elegant dresses, but I didn’t want to fuss with a dress design so I opted to don a kebaya instead. I haven’t worn this piece since the wedding in 2017, but I love the pink and combination of satin and lace materials. It’s soft and doesn’t make you cry in sweat – perfect for day events at semi-outdoor venues. As for the jarik or bottom part, it’s a ready-to-wear batik printed long skirt. My mother had me wearing these ready-to-wear pieces since a young girl. These really are lifesavers for any woman who isn’t accustomed to walk, sit and use the restroom in a jarik.

My mini trip to Central Java was then concluded with a sunset high up in the clouds…

Last Homecoming to KL

Kuala Lumpur (KL) had been my home throughout my teenage years. I’ve met some of the best people and made epic memories with them there. I absolutely loved KL – and I still love it.

I didn’t want to leave but certain circumstances hindered my vision. It was a surreal, bitter moment when I had to leave after graduating uni. I had to say good-bye to my loved ones. I’ve been doing these “good-byes” quite often in my life, I should’ve became an expert on those until-we-meet-again-hugs and holding back waterfalls streaming from my eyes. But it was just…extremely sad. I guess it’s because of the attachment I built with not just the people there, but the city as well.

KL has introduced me to new perspectives and lessons on friendship, education, love, fashion, music, culinary and cultures. Freedom was also introduced, and I got to experience it for some time.

I wrote about going to KL for a friend’s wedding here. I thought of making it a longer trip because I had a burning desire to visit again, even if that was just in a span of a year or less from my last “homecoming” trip. A part of me hadn’t let go from the city.

This KL trip really was spontaneous. To whoever I met at the time, I texted them, “I’m in town for a few days. We can do whatever because I really want to see you. I’ve missed you.”

I booked a hostel in Petaling Street where I was surrounded by cool tourists. First thing I did was find a KFC to get my cheezy wedges. It’s crazy how Jakarta doesn’t have it!!

KFC Cheezy Wedges

I didn’t stay long at this hostel as a quaint hotel situated nearby my old apartment just opened. At least nothing changed; same neighborhood, public transportation and restaurants were around. Funny part was on my first night, the door couldn’t lock. But hey! I was upgraded to a bigger room in the corner with a view of KL Tower. Then towards the end of my holiday, I whisked away to stay at one of my best friend’s place, nearby our uni.

I spent about a week, I think, just revisiting my favorite spots, catching up with friends, meeting lovely new people, eat – enjoying every last second I was present there. A lot has changed, nevertheless, it didn’t make me feel out of place. You know that squeal you make when you get excited to do something – yeah, that was me throughout my holiday.

By the time I was at the airport again, I remember I was welcomed with a long queue to check in and drop off my luggage. A system malfunction of that airline had every passenger anxious whether they’d board the plane on time. I was one of them lol. Luckily, the flight pushed back.

Somehow I pondered, “you gotta give Indonesia a chance.” I thought I did but I was too grasped with the idea of “home” or comfort this vibrant city brought. It wasn’t until I got in the plane when I realized that I had to stop longing for the life that wasn’t meant to be. KL will always be there for me.

I haven’t been back to KL since 2017. Frankly, I didn’t make any plans to return. I’m sorry I didn’t. I took my time to finally give my birth country a chance. Don’t think that I wouldn’t want to visit though – I DO!! Perhaps in 2022 or 2023?

KL Tower

Bali Beach!

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So this was written and saved in draft since 2018 while the trip was in 2017…

I’m going to Bali!

 
From that claim itself, tourists will most likely have different agendas when they step onto this sacred island’s soil. Commonly those agendas revolve on relaxing at the beach, surfing, yoga, shopping, partying, diving into the local culture, sight-seeing the vast and rich nature – literally the list goes on.
 
But have you ever heard of going to Bali to attend a wedding? I’m pretty sure you have. What if I told you that it was a wedding of an extended cousin who you’ve never met or heard of? That was the case for one of my best-friends. Her mother was supposed to go to a relative’s wedding in Bali, but due to other plans, she appointed her daughter to attend it. I was absolutely on board when she asked me to tag along.
 

PIZZAS. AVOCADO TOASTS. SUNSETS. HITTING UP THE WAVES. SOAKING UP THE SUN. BEACH CLUBS. WINE. NIGHT DANCING. LAUGHTER. QUALITY TIME. 

 
Literally, nothing but staying at Seminyak to fall asleep at the beach, swim and chill at pool clubs till sunset, then ending the night by dancing through heavy bass beats were what we did.
 
Three days were definitely not enough – let’s be real here. So I decided to extend my trip to meet an old darling friend of mine. He took me around Jimbaran. On one night, we found ourselves dancing underneath a cloudy full moon at a beach bar (the party was literally on the beach) till the moon’s shine slowly drifted into the ocean. We even discovered that we had embraced a plant-based diet since we last met. Naturally we devoured our taste buds into perhaps the best vegan foods I’ve ever had in my life. [I am not a plant-based eater anymore since 2019] Oh, let’s not forget about the wine, baby.
 
I fell in love with this island all over again. But this time my love enhanced. I admired that my eyes and mind were opened to a bigger perspective – I started to know what I wanted for my future. I told myself that someday I’ll own property here. I could be like, “Man, fuck this shit. I’m going to take some time off at my HOLIDAY villa!” Now that’s living. 

Hello

Thank God I remember my log in details.

I spent some time scrolling down this page to see what I did as well as remember who I was. Some posts made me cringe, but I admire the enthusiasm and motivation I once had here. I like the young girl writing chocomilala several years ago. But I also like the woman I’m becoming.

I want to go on a ride with you, along my 20s, through my travels and wellness journey throughout the past five years in Indonesia. There’s a lot of catching up to do. So for the upcoming days/weeks, we’re going down memory lane.

Where the hell have I been? Minding my own business. I haven’t been feeling too confident with myself, especially having to get in front of a camera and then write. There have been plenty of days when I felt uninspired and unmotivated. Not to mention, I went through dark phases these past few years. I’m continuously learning about myself. And as the days rather quickly go by, I’m getting better at embracing myself too. But writing, as I realized through journaling, is something therapeutic.

Voyages: A Ferry Ride

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Late 2016 Mirella had dark brown, long hair, chubby cheeks resulting from the various late night adventures around Jakarta. She was given a surprise:  a work trip to Merak-Lampung for only 3 days.

We were on a ferry – supposedly a fancy ferry from Japan that had an affordable price range. An hour ferry ride was definitely not enough to plant my body onto the beds of a VIP room inside this ferry. Especially the part where we took pictures to print a very random moment in our careers – at least it was for me! So here’s me finding myself on the upper deck of the ferry trying to pose with my eyes squinting into a straight line and me acting serious as a talent. Plus a bonus view of a beach at a hotel where we didn’t even spend our nights at.

// H&M TOP // THRIFTED PANTS // CONVERSE // DIY CHOKER //

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