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.


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.


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]



Review: American Hustle

American Hustle

American Hustle

Last weekend, I watched American Hustle (2013), an American crime film about two con artists (started by Christian Bale as Irving Rosenfeld and Amy Adams as Sydney Prosser), who were caught by an FBI agent (Bradley Cooper) in loan scams. The FBI agent offered to release the two if only they were willing to help him to  investigate a dirty operation on corrupt politician in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s in USA. 

American Hustle, which won three Golden Awards, is basically a story about ambition, love, loyalty, duplicity, greediness and also corruption. Took the setting in the 1980’s, the movie appeared  pretty classy to me.  However the 138 minutes film soon become pretty boring because it moved pretty slow.

There were three parts of the movie that I like a lot

  1. Irving, who owns a laundry chain in New York and sells stolen art on the other side, met Sydney in a pool party. After Irving, who fall in love with Sydney, told the truth to her that he is a con artist; she accepted him as what he is and agreed to work together. She created a persona as Lady Edith Greensly, a British lady with a banking connection in London. Since they work together, money roll in like a water. As a con artist, Irving believes that most people (prospective clients a.k.a victims) would believe what they want to believe.
  2. It is clear to see that Sydney, who is  a former stripper, has a ambition to get out of poverty, be rich and be somebody’s else. In the middle of the movie, Sydney, who is apparently tired to be somebody’s else, said that she does not want another fake life anymore. “No more fake shit!” she screamed in tears.
  3. While Irving and Sydney  were working for the FBI agent to investigate Mayor Carmine Polito as the part of corruption circle in New Jersey. Somehow, Irving found a genuine friend in Carmine.

I would say that I am not particularly a big fans of action and/or crime film. But there are three lessons to learn from this film, which are

  1. Poverty is not good for anyone but there is always a positive way to get out of it even you would not be rich instantly. So don’t let the greediness manipulate yourself to manipulate other people for your own fortune
  2. Living a fake life is tiring
  3. It’s not easy to find a genuine friend who will accept you as you are so learn to be truthful about yourself.

So have you watched this film? What do you think about it?


Review: Couchsurfing

La RepublicaFew years ago, I was introduced to by a friend of mine, a blogger from (I was still active blogging with platform back then, too bad that it has been shut down now because I love that platform so much as I have been blogging with that platform since 2005 : ( ).  I found that was interesting because I could meet many different kind of people with different kind of stories such as where they have been to, how they saved money for traveling, how much money they spent in certain country, where to stay, listen to their point of view about other cultures, etc. I would say that it is fun.

So in 2009, I decided to sign up and create a profile in to get new friends and meet new people from all over the world. Unfortunately, I was not particularly that active because I started my job in Jakarta and did not really have time for myself. My work and the Jakarta traffic made me lazy to attend some gatherings because I was too tired

However luckily, I had the opportunity to meet number of amazing people and young travelers, which opened my eyes about life. I met four European girls, who studied in Singapore in 2010; a 21 Australian boy who has been traveling to 70 countries after he managed to save for two or three years since he was 16 (he didn’t go to senior high school if I was not mistaken); an Italian photographer who stayed in hundreds of couch while he was traveling and many more. Most of them have great story and are very down to earth. 

I was amazed but jealous at the same time with their ability to travel around the world. So why am I jealous? It is not because of their financial flexibility but Indonesian citizen doesn’t really have an easy access visiting a country, especially European, American and also Australian country.

We have to apply for tourist visa, complete a bunch of document, pay a lot of money for the visa with the possibility of losing it if we were rejected. While most of Westerner (Lucky you people!) have the privilege to  come and go visiting the developing country very easy such Indonesia, India, Thailand, Vietnam, etc. Right?!

I actually have a hell lot of things to complain about but I will leave it there because I know that I am luckier than them, who comes from third world country or African country. I am grateful with what I got.

But anyway…. so here I was being profiled by an Italian couchsurfer in La Republica, an Italian newspaper on August 2010. I think I will activate my couchsurfing profile again to find a new activity in 2014.