28Mar

Back Home

I’m finally back in New York City, arrived yesterday after 20+ hour flight, and heading back home later today. The trip is now officially over.

The last blog entry was almost 3 weeks ago, back when I just arrived in Bali. A lot of things have happened since that day and unfortunately I didn’t have time to write more. I saw and experienced so many beautiful and great things, it was hard to put in writing. Not having Internet access for a lot of time also didn’t help.

If I could summarize this trip quickly, it pretty much came down to the following:

  • I underestimated the number of relatives I have in Indonesia. Meeting most of them have been truly a great experience and they are what I will miss the most.
  • The second thing I will miss is definitely the food. I stand by my opinion that Indonesian food is the best in the world and not having easy access (or for some, none at all) to them will be depressing.
  • Traffic in Indonesia is very chaotic and almost lawless, but I feel a lot safer in it than in US (because of the chaos, every drivers are always alert and paying attention)
  • Bali is a paradise.
  • In general, Jakarta only has malls, restaurants and heavy traffic for tourist attraction. However, the shopping malls in Jakarta are so much bigger, flashier and all around better than any American malls I’ve been into, so this is something worth seeing if you’re into shopping.
  • It’s refreshing to be in a country where common sense and being good to other people takes higher precedence than what the law books say.

I think that’s it for now. I look forward to going home, get over this jet lag, and start working on the trip photos.


Today (3/12 here) is the day of silence in Bali, as the locals call it Nyepi. This is the day when everything is turned off and everyone stays at home for self reflection. No one is allowed outside, no planes, no cars, no activities, even the TV station is off. Fortunately the electricity (and most importantly for me, internet) is still on.

Another ritual as part of Nyepi that took place last night was the parade of Ogoh-ogoh. There were so many people out in the street, it was a struggle to move around. I’m surprised that we didn’t step (or get stepped) on more feet than we did. With the weather being hot and humid, watching Ogoh-ogoh was a truly like being in a sauna. But it was worth it because the statues were awesome and it was great to be part of this once a year tradition.

This is just one of the photos I took last night:
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So since we can’t really do anything outside of the hotel, the plan is to spend the day soaking in the pool, chilling in the pool, and some more soaking in the pool. We’re going to take advantage of this rest day after so much activities and little sleep since the start of the trip, and we will have full schedule starting tomorrow as well.


I’ve finally arrived in Palembang, my birth city. I’d have to say that I do not recognize this city at all. Apparently the 2011 Southeast Asian Games was held here (and Jakarta) so a bunch of stuff were built for it, such as improved/new Airport, widen main roads and really really nice hotels (such as the one I’m staying in now). But then again, without those changes, I’d probably still not recognize it since I moved to Jakarta when I was only a toddler.

The trip here this morning was eventful. Due to miscommunication/misunderstanding, we ended up narrowly missing the flight by minutes. This is the first time we had to run through the airport and cut lines of people off. Thankfully the security checkpoints are not like TSA and Indonesian people are generally very friendly and understanding.

Anyway, I have two goals for visiting Palembang, food and family, and I think I hit that goal successfully with just today. I can’t wait for tomorrow to meet with even more of my relatives and eating more great Sumatra food.

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After about 25 hours on the plane, we’ve finally touched down in Jakarta. The time here is about 12 hours ahead from East Coast US, so it’s about 3:30am as I write this.

Just like how the winter chill hit my face and shocked me when I first arrived in US, the very thick humidity also caught me off by surprise tonight when I came out of the airport. I knew it was going to be humid but I didn’t remember how bad it can get here during the rain season.

The first thing I want to mention is how much impressed I am with Emirates Airlines, especially the Airbus 380 service from JFK to DBX (Dubai). We sat in economy but the seating space we have felt like first class in any US domestic flights. We get hot wet towels twice during the flight (once at the beginning, and another before the main meal course). Drinks are free, even alcohol, except for champagne. Tons of movies to choose from, and the food were amazing. They come with appetizers, main course, side bread and dessert. We had 2 meal course, both with unique options. We also had sandwiches, fruits or snacks that are always available throughout the flight on request.

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I’d go as far as saying the meal were better than I’ve had in some restaurants.

The second leg of the trip was delayed by about couple hours. We had a straggler who got lost in Dubai Airport and we had to wait while the airline look for their bag. Long story short, we didn’t arrive to Jakarta until right before midnight.

It’s been a long couple days, and I look forward to seeing Jakarta some more once I get some sleep.


After many months of planning, it has come down to these final couple days. I’m finally going back to Indonesia for the first time since migrating to USA almost 20 years ago.

Personally, there are many things I look forward to on this trip. I will finally see most of my relatives again, especially those who were still babies or unborn when I left. I look forward to seeing the cities, country-sides, and all the changes that has taken place since I left. I look forward to eating all the awesome Indonesian food. And I definitely look forward to taking photos while doing all the above.

I’m bringing sort of the same gear I brought to Europe two years ago. The only difference this time I will have better camera body to take photos with, Canon 6D instead of Canon XSi, and the Fuji X100 to complement it if needed.

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In preparation for my upcoming trip to Indonesia, I reviewed the photos taken during my last big vacation trip. From them, there is always one consistent and very noticeable error, overuse of wide angle lens.

European cities are filled with old, beautiful and very large buildings and environments. In the quest of capturing everything, I stuck with my wide angle lens for most of my trip. This worked out great in some situation, such as the colosseum photo seen above.

However, wide angle lens provide distorted perspective views that when used inappropriately, you’ll end up with buildings falling backward or curving to the center. When used on photos with people in them, the result can be very unattractive. Samples below.

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The fun part of having photography as a hobby is I get to learn “on the job”. While I wish I learned this specific lesson before I went to Europe, having done the wrong things was definitely a good learning experience and is something I will always remember in the future.

I won’t be taking my wide angle lens to Indonesia because that lens doesn’t really work well on my full-frame Canon 6D. However, I will be using 24-105mm lens so I still need to be careful on when to use the 24mm end.

You can see my 2011 Euro trip photo gallery here: photo.lukman.com/share/2011-euro


Finally received my set of extension tubes today. I bought them used on ebay but their condition is very excellent, as if the past owner never used them.

For those who are not familiar with extension tubes, they are tube-shaped components that go between the camera and the lens. Their sole purpose is to move the lens further from the image plane/sensor. This allows for closer focusing distance and higher magnification, which is something that most macro photographers aim for.

Needless to say, these tubes add extra weight and length to my already heavy handheld kit. I can’t wait to go out and hunt for small things to take photos of.

I took only a few test shots tonight, below is one example. If you’re wondering what this is, this was portion of the chapstick that I placed right below the camera on the photo seen above. The extension tubes are represented by the first 3 red dots closest to the camera.

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29Jan

Canon FTb

Canon FTb

I went and purchased a Canon FTb last week (also ordered a B&W film).   I’ve been thinking about shooting film again and see how I’ll do without all the digital convenience.

The camera itself looks to be in a good condition.  It’s missing the battery for metering which I won’t get, so I will have to go full mechanical on this thing.  I do have a light meter though so I won’t be shooting blindly in terms of exposure.

Anyway, not sure yet when I will take the photos (and don’t forget the processing time!), but they will be posted when I do have them.


29Jan

Hello world!

First!

So yeah, still working at the site, fixing all the kinks.  If you’re reading this and this is the only entry, then I’d say you came a little too early.  Nevertheless, enjoy the photos though.