Category Archives: Review

Review: Snowing in Bali

The upcoming third batch of the execution of drug convict has once again triggered controversy. Supported with official data, some have stated that  the death penalty is actually not the answer to Indonesia’s drug problem. Some have even stated that those, who were busted and sentenced to death, are only courier and not big dealers. Most of them are coming from lower middle income family. I asked myself Is that statement correct? The controversy actually raises a lot of questions in my head, such as “What do we really know about drug syndicates in Indonesia? Are those who were arrested  just victims and being trapped? Or, are they professional drug runners? What do we really know about the Brazilian drug runner Marco Archer Cardoso Moreira, who has been executed in early 2015? Was he just a courier? What about Mary Jane Veloso? What do we really know about the world illicit in Indonesia?” I have heard some stories but honestly it was still unclear to me. But when I read Snowing in Bali: The Incredible Inside Account of Bali’s Hidden Drug World, much was reveled.

Written by Kathryn Bonella, the author of Hotel K: The Shocking Inside Story of Bali’s Notorious Jail, Snowing in Bali highlights the drug world in Bali with interesting details. It opens the readers eyes about why people choose to enter the drug world, how the drug syndicate works, who those drug convicts are, how drug syndicates deal with the Indonesian legal system and what drugs can do to people.

One of the characters identified as Rafael, who is described as a former Brazilian cocaine boss in Bali, reveals stories of Peruvian and Brazilian’s drug syndicate in the island of God. The Bali-based Peruvian and Brazilian drug syndicate has been trafficking drugs in Peru, Brazil, the Netherland, Sweden, South Africa, Thailand, Indonesia as well as Australia.

Despite the fact Rafael appears as the main character in Snowing  in Bali , it also highlights the story of Brazilian Marco Archer Cardoso Moreira who was executed  by firing squad in early 2015. Apparently, Marco has been a long time player who started his business in the 90s as a marijuana dealer in Indonesia. He imported top quality marijuana from the Netherland to Indonesia. Among his peers, Marco was known as a Lemon Juice’s King. Interestingly enough, Rafael actually started his career as a freelance marijuana salesman for  Marco.

As a freelance marijuana’s salesman, Rafael generated a huge profit which can pay for his fancy lifestyle in Bali. Knowing how easy it is to make fast cash through drug trafficking, Rafael has turned himself from a salesman to  drug runner and quickly to be one of the biggest cocaine player in Bali. He trafficked cocaine from Peru to Indonesia as well as Australia over the years. He had huge villa, nice cars, fancy motorbike, designer fashion collection and also a hell lot of money.

Surprisingly, many people who want to earn fast cash and enjoy a good life but do not want to do a real job, some would sometimes go to a dealer and request for ‘a job as a drug runner’. Although it is a risky job, many would take it anyway.

An older Brazilian woman, who has been living in Bali for 20 years, sidled up to him at parties hustling for a chance to run. “I need a job. I can do it – nobody is going to stop me because I’m old. Let’s do it.  (p.56)

However, every party must come to end sometimes. Many of Rafael friends, includes his own wife Anna, were arrested by authorities across the globe. Not forget to mention his former ‘boss’ the Brazilian Lemon Juice King Marco who had always been very confident that he would be able to escape from the authorities or even the death. Luckily, unlike Marco and Anna, Rafael managed to escape from the authorities and did not end up in jail. Nevertheless, he still has to face another consequences. His wealth slowly went down to the drain, he could not even pay the basic bill.  Rafael then decided to leave the game.

In the end, after all the glamour, I don’t feel proud. I try to forget this shit. Because I don’t think it is cool. I poison people here with this shit just for money, nothing else. Poison people, fuck families, even make people die from overdose. I like to show off in that time. For what? Now I have different value for life. (p. 387)

Reading the 401 pages of book actually makes me thinking twice whether I have to feel sorry about those drug convicts who are facing death penalty or not. Should I feel sorry for late the Brazilian Marco or Rodrigo Gullarte in the same way I feel sorry for the Philippine drug convict Mary Jane Veloso? The answer is NO.

Marco and Rodrigo are not the same as Mary Jane. Marco is a dealer, Rodrigo is a horse and Mary Jane is a mule. So what is the difference? Well, Marco and Rodrigo were aware with the risk meanwhile Mary Jane could have been trapped by greedy heartless dealer.

Mules are not the kind of people who work for me, people who come to Bali and enjoy life, this is a real horse. But mules are really, really desperate people. Really poor people, don’t speak English and they fall like flies– Andre, drug dealer (p. 166)

Rodrigo Gularte is a 32 years old rich upper middle-class guy from South Brazil. He was the black sheep in a rich family. He’d started sniffing solvents as a teenager and despite his mother trying to set him up in various careers, he chose to traffic drugs (p.286)

Overall, Snowing in Bali is very intriguing. I could not even stop reading the book. At the end, the readers actually can see the red line between many drug cases especially in Indonesia if only  those drug cases have been exposed by the media continuously and properly. Reader don’t have to believe whether it’s objectively written or not but It is worth reading.

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Hotel K: The Shocking Inside Story of Bali’s Notorious Jail

Bali has been known as a paradise for surfers, beach lovers as well as party animals. Bali’s natural beauty and distinctive culture somehow have been able to attract millions of travelers to visit the Island of God annually for decades. Yet, the Island of God is not free from the dark world including drug cartel. Wide range drugs from  weed, cocaine to heroines with various qualities are available in the island. Anyone who wants it, they can get it as long as they have money for it and know where to get it. However, drug is illegal in Indonesia. Even small quantity of drugs can bring anyone to long jail sentence, heavy fines as well as cost thousands of dollars to get your freedom back. A Nepalese inmate Den was quoted in the Hotel K: The Shocking Inside Story of Bali’s Notorious Jail saying that “If you want to have a little bit of freedom, you need to pay money, including for beer, movie or even girl (sex worker).” Otherwise, you will end up living miserably in the jail cell.

Hotel K: The Shocking Inside Story of Bali’s Notorious Jail is written by an Australian journalist, Kathryn Bonella who is also the author of No More Tomorrow Schapelle Corby as a warning for travelers. Any holiday can turn to be a nightmare any moment as soon as they are dealing with drugs in the Island of God. With the main source Ruggiero, a Brazilian inmates who was arrested for possessing 146 g of hashish, 43 g of cocaine and one green ecstasy pill, and few other foreign national inmates, Ms. Bonella is trying to bringing the readers inside the Hotel K. Not a fancy villa with private swimming pool and hot shower but a pig house with filthy bathroom, dried poops and dead rats in the water tank. It is just dilapidated.

Through 301 pages of book, Ms. Bonella describes how complicated dealing with Indonesian justice system is and how corrupt Indonesian justice system is -be in the police station, the court as well as inside the jail- is. Really? Is Indonesian justice system corrupt? Yes and it is not surprising. Previously, one of Indonesian top lawyer Hotman Paris was even quoted by various international media outlets including  New York Times and The Age  saying how unclean Indonesian justice system is.

And yet, life does not get any cheaper as soon as one goes inside the prison, one would need to continue to pay their bill as if they are freeman as there is nothing free inside. Interestingly enough, inmates are not only able to buy mineral water, soap or instant noodle but also  beer, weed, cocaine as well as heroin inside Kerobokan prison. What? You could even purchase drugs inside the prison? Yes. That is indeed interesting.

 “Kerobokan is drug paradise. Drugs all the time. No special time for drug. Drugs twenty-four hours. You smoke cigarette, you smoke shabu. The party was daily. Every single day after lunch we’d sit outside and get pissed, those who want to smoke shabu, smoke shabu; those who want to use smack, use smack. That’s on daily basis. ” Brazilian inmates Ruggiero told Ms. Bonella. (132)

So the question is now being “Does arresting drug dealer/runner actually have a significant deterrent effect to them? Will they ever stop of doing their drug business?” No, it does not seem so.

Arman wishes to become Hotel K’s drug lord. He was selling huge quantity of drugs inside and outside, paying Laskar (Bali) for protection, and prisoners and guards to work as couriers supplying bars and club across Bali. Arman made at least 100 million Rupiah a day, sometimes 300 million Rupiah a day. Many times I saw the guy folding up the whole lot of money. He sold shabu, heroine, ecstasy  ganja, hasish, cocaine.” (196) 

I must say that it is slightly shocking but I believe that public actually has acknowledged it through media reports over the years. Even recently, a drug lord Freddy Budiman, who was sentenced to death in 2013, openly admitted that he is still running his business from the jail cell with the help of prison guards because the China-based  drug syndicate does not have any other ‘distributor’ in Indonesia.

Honestly sometimes I wonder how dangerous drugs are? Hotel K gave me clues and  I found it interesting

“With Laskar and Arman pushing drugs and offering unlimited credits to westerners, many inmates let their drug bills spiral out of control. If they couldn’t pay up when Arman called in the cashed, the consequences were deadly.

Many of the westerners who lost control of their drug bills got cash from their parents or friends to avoid being bashed.

Juri (an Italian inmates) lied in any way necessary to get cash from friends and family for his heroin bills.  (198)

You see? Reading Hotel K makes me understand why President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has declared war on drugs. As a president, he refuses to grant president clemency to drug dealers or runners because the drug dealers and runners cannot just be stopped and they do not want to stop. Other than that, an addict would eventually not just hurt themselves in many ways but also their family.

Interestingly enough, it is not only drug dealers who cannot stop themselves from committing crimes when they are in prison. Other criminal still do including  scammers and thugs.

Benoit was one of three Africans doing time for a fake American dollar scam. All three were now acting in sync in Hotel K to find investors among the wealthy drug bosses. Benoit was working with Afong and the third African named Karim. (178)

I must say that I enjoyed reading Hotel K because it was produced through interviews and document research which means it can be quiet objective. It opened my eyes. It brought my imagination inside Kerobokan Prison. It shows the readers what kind of people end up in the prison and what kind of life inmates have inside the jail. It is scary. It drives you insane and brings depression. It kills your soul. Other than that, even though you can buy your freedom by bribing the guards, it is not a life inside the jail cell. For me, it would be very wise to not ignore the warning while you are visiting Bali, the Island of God, the paradise as your holiday can turn into a nightmare any moment.

Yet, I asked myself “Should I buy Ruggiero’s stories especially Ruggiero told Ms. Bonella  the Balinese hate foreigners, they are so jealous simply because only one Balinese guy snitched on him?” He seems like to generalize things and many of his comments sound to be angry or coming from a talker. Well “Snowing in Bali: The Incredible Inside Account of Bali’s Hidden Drug World” has more stories to tell and makes the readers understand about who Ruggiero is. Juicy and eye-opening!

 

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Notes: Women’s Voices

Bali Undercover by Malcolm Scott [2015:EO]

Bali Undercover by Malcolm Scott [2015:EO]

When I published “Bule Hunter: Money, Sex and Love”  in September 2014, I received a stream of criticism in the net from many people. I would have understood that they criticized my book after they read it but they have not. They criticized it based on some media coverages. Those are including many Indonesian  women, who are in relationship with Western Men and feel offended with my writing as well as other people are who simply narrow minded.

Some of them said that it was just a bunch of gossip, some of them said that it’s not a journalism work because it’s very subjective yadda yadda yadda (Well honey, it’s hard to find an objective journalism work these days. Media is controlled by companies who are linked to govt). Anyway, there were big wave of nasty comments coming toward me. It was terrifying! 

Frankly, I was shocked reading those comments. I refused to read further for few weeks. But I must say that I am grateful because  those haters actually  inspired me  to write my next book.

So when I went to  Times Bookstore in Plaza Singapura, I saw this book and purchased one. I read nearly half of the book within few hours over few glasses of Chardonnay. Since I read the title, I already assumed that it would have similar content to my book Bule Hunter. And YES IT IS!

It talks about Indonesian women, Western men, Indonesian men, western women,money, sex and  relationship. However, it seems nobody attacking the Australian author Malcolm Scott. At least, I didn’t hear about it.

Is it because the author is a man? Is it because the author is a Westerner? Or is it because he choose a soft title instead of Bule Hunter?! Or is it because it’s written in English and doesn’t get a lot of media exposure in Indonesia (if I understand correctly)?

Oh well, we are still living in an era and place where women can hardly say their voices loudly and bluntly! 

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Review: In a Jakarta Prison “Life Stories of Women Inmates”

Judul         : In a Jakarta Prison “Life Stories of Women Inmates”
Penulis     : Sujinah
Penerbit   : The Lontar Foundation, Jakarta, 2000
Halaman  : 172
Bahasa      : English
Harga       : Rp 72.000,00

Neneng, Inah, Leha, Asmi, Nyonya Hamid, Sri, Ita, Genuk, Checkers, Keling, Nyonya Kasim, Nunung dan Lian adalah beberapa nama perempuan yang hidup di balik jeruji besi bersama Sujinah. Sujinah merupakan mantan anggota Gerwani, yang dijebloskan ke dalam penjara pada masa pemerintahan Suharto.

Keberadaan Sujinah dalam rumah tahanan Tangerang agaknya menjadi corong bagi mereka yang selama ini bungkam akan apa yang sesungguhnya terjadi di balik tembok tinggi dengan jeruji besi yang mengungkung para tahanan dalam sel mereka.

Cerita dari Keling misalnya, seorang narapidana yang ditahan karena kelihaiannya sebagai seorang pencopet dari Sungai Ciliwung yang akhirnya tertangkap di Pasar Senen. Tentu saja, bukan karena tanpa alasan akhirnya Keling kembali ke pekerjaanya sebagai seorang pencopet setelah pernikahannya dengan Bopeng, memaksanya untuk pensiun dari pekerjaannya sebagai seorang pencopet, namun kehamilannya yang menuntutnya untuk hidup sehat, Mak Isah yang butuh perawatan di usiannya yang sudah senja dan Bopeng yang dipenjara, memaksa Keling untuk kembali beraksi. Terdiam, tertunduk dan merenung, sambil tersenyum Keling berkata pada Sujinah, “Isn’t life a bitch?”

Lain pula dengan Nyonya Hamid, seorang nyonya yang hidup dalam kemewahan namun selalu dirundung kesedihan ketika akhirnya ia memutuskan untuk menikahi Hamid, seorang pemuda sederhana dari keluarga sederhana. Kesuksesan Hamid dalam menjalankan bisnis yang telah diajarkan istrinya, kekayaan yang telah melimpah dalam rekening banknya agakanya telah membutakan Hamid, sanga pemuda sederhana yang akhirnya main gila dengan perempuan lain. Kesetiaannya Nyonya Hamid sebagai seorang istri telah dibalas dengan dusta yang begitu menyakitkan hingga akhirnya Nyonya Hamid memutuskan untuk mengakhiri hidup suaminya di suatu sore.

Dua cerita dari Keling dan Nyonya Hamid kepada Ma, begitulah panggilan akrab Sujinah, telah membuka kabut yang membungkus tembok-tembok penjara yang penuh cerita. Pintu penjara yang berada di balik kabut akan selalu terbuka bagi siapa saja yang telah melakukan kejahatan, tak peduli mereka kaya, tak peduli mereka miskin. Terkadang pula, mereka pun, terkadang tak peduli apakah mereka bersalah atau tidak. Yang ada hanyalah cerita yang tak ceritakan kepada masyarakat, kepada dunia tentang apa yang sesungguhnya terjadi.

Keberanian Sujinah dalam menuangkan pengalamannya dalam tulisan memang perlu diacungi jempol. Seorang tahanan politik yang bersuara akan kebenaran yang tak pernah diketahui orang hingga akhirnya dunia mendengar dan mengerti apa yang sesungguhnya terjadi di balik jeruji besi, ketika mereka mendengar kata penjara. Bukan hanya penjahat yang ada dalam penjara namun ada pula korban kejahatan yang dipaksa untuk mengakui sebuah kejahatan.

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Review: The Magic of Homemade Rice and Coffee Scrub

Do know you that coffee bean and rice grain have a great benefit for your skin? [2014: EO]

Do know you that coffee bean and rice grain have a great benefit for your skin? [2014: EO]

In these last few years, I have been having a hard time to deal with my skin (oily and acne) problem. I have been seeing a number of dermatologist, purchasing the best a.k.a expensive skin care product and spending million rupiah to get rid of it but all I got was just a constant disappointment. Nothing worked well and caused me dependency! So, after the “innovation” of toothpaste face mask to get rid my acne, which works well and I still apply it to my face, I just discovered that I also can get rid of dull skin, black spot and to have a glowing skin by making my own homemade facial and body scrub with coffee bean and rice grain. How come? Below is the fun fact! According to my internet research, Dr. Leslie Baumann, a dermatologist at the University of Miami, was quoted by Elle Magazine Canada, mentioned that the caffeine in coffee can help to smoothen the skin and also remove the skin cancer cell by sun damage. She added that caffeine is an antioxidant, it helps to shrink the blood vessel and dehydrates fat cells.

Homemade coffee and rice scrub [2014:EO]

Homemade coffee and rice scrub [2014:EO]

Other than that, an article on Livestrong.com mentioned that coffee scrub can help to treat the redness and inflammation, get rid of cellulite and also smoothen the skin. In addition to that, coffee scrub also can help to get rid the dark under-eye circle. Meanwhile  Caroline Frazer, a skincare expert, was quoted by dailymail.co.uk, pointed out that that rice scrub helps to smoothen and brighten the skin because it contains pro-vitamin B5 and vitamin E. The article also mentioned that rice has been used by Japanese to get flawless skin for hundred years.

Applying the homemade rice and coffee facial scrub [2014: EO]

Applying the homemade rice and coffee facial scrub [2014: EO]

So….. since I found out about the great benefit of coffee and rice for my skin, I have been continuously making my own homemade facial scrub from coffee and rice on daily basis. Everyday, I scrub my face with it especially after I did an outdoor workout or used a make up, i.e powder. And guess what? After a month I applied it to my face, I have started to see the result of it where my facial skin is brighter, smother, firmer and glowing. Of course, I have been aware that it DOES NOT give me AN INSTANT best result but I see that the result comes GRADUALLY. Nowadays, I can start to see that the result coming, where I have so much less acne comparing than before. If I do have acne, it usually comes only 1 or 2 before my menstruation comes. On the top of that, I also can confidently go out with  my face naked, i.e I don’t have to use any foundation or bb cream to cover up my dull facial skin anymore. However sometimes I am still using powder, it depends on the occasion.  You can see the different on the picture below!

Before using the magic coffee and rice scrub! FYI, I wore make-up in this photo [2014: E O]

Before using the magic coffee and rice scrub! FYI, I wore make-up in this photo [2014: E O]

My naked face! No foundation, no powder, no heavy make-up! [2014:EO]

My naked face! No foundation, no powder, no heavy make-up! [2014:EO]

So how do you make your homemade rice and coffee scrub? It is very easy! Just grind two table spoon of rice and a table spoon of coffee bean together. Mix the powder with either mineral water, olive oil or honey. For me, I usually mix it with water only as I don’t particularly believe that the olive oil or honey that I bought 100 percent organic or natural. I am worried if it might contain some chemical, which might be harmful for my skin. You know … business people are tricky. They claim their product to be organic meanwhile some of them are not. So I rather to use mineral water. Lol! FYI, I also use the rice and coffee scrub for my body. I am glad that I found this great secret natural beauty recipe, which costs me small fortune and works well. I also don’t have to be worried with any chemical side effect for my face anymore because it is all organic and so far I have no side bad effect from it. Now I can save my money that I have been spending for skincare treatment product, which never worked, for something else.

Goodbye expensive skincare products! [2014: EO]

Goodbye expensive skincare products! [2014: EO]

It is amazing that actually we can find a health treatment in our own home. It is natural, organic and inexpensive. And you know…. this great “innovation” really helps me to minimise my spending  on cosmetic as well as helps me to minimize my consumption on chemical products, which tend to have a negative effect to my body. So farewell expensive chemical facial skin care products! signature

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Review: Han Gang

 

Han Gang Waltermongisi [2014: E O]

Han Gang Waltermongisi [2014: E O]

Lately I have been hearing many people saying how delicious Korean food are especially the barbecue one.  Honestly, I have never been really interested to try it until few weeks ago I was writing about Korean restaurants and look at the Korean food image at the website. It looks so tasty and tempting.

So here I was… going to Han Gang restaurant in Jalan Walter Mongisidi, South Jakarta to try my first Korean barbecue. As I never tried Korean barbecue before, the waitress suggested me to order modeum gogi, an assorted beef. My ooo my… what a big menu?! I even felt so full to the next day!

I was really glad that finally I had the Korean food after craving for it for few days and it was super good. However I would not have it so often as it is so filling! It is not that expensive for that big menu, my friend and I spent nearly Rp 700,000 (68 USD) for a good quality Korean barbecue. It’s worth!

Anyway, I was wondering who the owner of Han Gang Mongisidi is because on the ground floor of the restaurant is a luxury car showroom called “Leo Auto Cars”😀

Free authentic Korean appetiser at Han Gang [2014: E O]

Free authentic Korean appetiser at Han Gang [2014: E O]

Modeum Gogi [2014: E O]

Modeum Gogi [2014: E O]

The beef were grilled with  Korean charcoal to bring an authentic taste and distinctive aroma [2014: E O]

The beef were grilled with Korean charcoal to bring an authentic taste and distinctive aroma [2014: E O]

Ready to eat! [2014: EO]

Ready to eat! [2014: EO]

 

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Review: Uncle Dogg Show in Jakarta

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