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Story of Double Twenty

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From year to year, especially towards the new year, I would have started to reflect on myself for the past year. What I have and what I have not done when I should have. The usual ups and downs in life. Normal. Rarely surprises are coming along because I plan my time month by month pretty well – yeah, I am a planner after all. It is a new year, a magical time where we, or maybe I, leaving all not so good moments behind and hoping to fill the coming year with more good stuff and memories.

January 2020

I remember new year’s eve of 2020; I was in Raja Ampat. Working. Bringing a small group of people to this little paradise on the earth. It was a nightmare, and I vented it out a bit by posting on my status, saying that this is not really a happy new year for me. A friend replied and comforted me by saying, “Don’t worry, you still have a Chinese New Year to restart the year.” I laughed. His reply did make sense enough. After that one week long Raja Ampat trip, although frustrated and aggrieved, I decided to let it go and flew to Singapore two weeks later to visit my family and spend Chinese New Year with them.

Chinese New Year fell on Saturday, 25 January, last year. Almost every year, I spent it in Singapore ever since I was back for good to Indonesia. No difference with last year. After staying for one-third of my life there, I can’ deny that Singapore is like my second home. If I used to feel tensed immediately after I stepped my foot at Changi Airport after I was back from any trips, now, I feel the other way round. A long morning walk at the neighbourhood park, meeting up with friends, or just spending time at home working while accompanying my Dad is just so enjoyable.

(+) Although I didn’t really have a good start in early January, I was glad that I still got to spend the CNY reunion dinner together with my Dad and my Sister. I also had a BBQ session at my friend’s place. It was fun, and everything was still normal days after.

It was the last good times together before everything started becoming so absurd.

February 2020

Days in Singapore was still fun until one day before the Cap Goh Meh – the 15th day of Chinese New Year, also marking the end of the celebration. My Sister and I went grocery shopping at the NTUC nearby house that evening for our dinner night together the next day. We invited a few friends to come over to our place. Unfortunately, we decided to call off the gathering after seeing the supermarket’s situation that night. Long queue for checking out. The longest ever that I have seen. At first, I still thought that everyone was so festive preparing for Cap Go Meh.

I only realized what’s going on after noticing none of the queues led to food counters but the cashier—people with a full cart of food and necessities. Bread, eggs, even poultry were sold out—empty shelves. I couldn’t find the ingredients I needed for dinner. Not even one. That was the first time I saw the panic-buying situation. I must say, at that moment, I wasn’t sure what we should get instead. My sister and I, ended just with a few things and two packs of instant noodles that we didn’t plan to buy at all – we thought just in case no food available for the next few days.

(+) As a baby born around the Chinese New Year period and Valentine’s Day, it is rare to celebrate my birthday with friends because of that. Last year, even though the dinner plan meant for the birthday gathering was canceled due to the COVID-19, I was delighted to receive a birthday surprise two days later when I was on the Bali and Lombok diving trip with Livingseas. After all, February was not that bad since I got to spend time both with my family and friends.

Little did I know that that would be my last trip to see my family in 2020 and my last leisure trip for the first half of 2020.

March to May 2020

The first two COVID-19 cases were reported on the news early of March in Indonesia. And on that same day, as usual, I went out for my weekly grocery shopping at the nearby supermarket. To my surprise, I reencountered the same situation. People with full carts were seen queueing at the cashier. And that was when I saw people stocking up the tissue rolls besides food. It was an unbelievable scene, but it happened. I didn’t expect that the news would cause such big reactions within hours.

Shopping malls were still open, as I remember. I still met up with friends in early March and went to the exhibition of “Leonardo Opera Omnia” at Museum Bank Mandiri, Jakarta. I was still arranging my trip in May to Derawan Island and November to Banda Neira. We were still hopeful that the situation would get better. However, our hopes slowly vanished when the news of the airport closure temporarily rolled out and eventually followed by the closing of the international borders. Things were getting more serious. Everyone, except those in the frontline industry, was advised to stay home and work from home.

Around these months, the crazes of accepting challenge posts on social media, doing the bingo games on Instagram, and funny videos about how people started to do funny things due to the lockdown were up on-trend. Campaign on Tidak Mudik Karena Sayang, encouraging Indonesian not to go back to their hometown for Eid Fitri – to break the chain of the virus spreading, was started, too.

(+) As my travel planning business was totally down, I had plenty of time to spend behind my desk. I used it to maintain and fix whatever was needed on Peek Holidays and Eazycation website.

(+) During these months, I think I baked more than I ever did before. If before the lockdown, I baked only for a switch of the environment from traveling and sitting for a long hour behind my desk to a “zen moment” while baking. Then after the lockdown, I baked more often because I was so bored. Plus, no bakery was open.

(+) I also managed to submit my article “Perjalanan, Impian, dan Asa Setelah Pandemi COVID-19 for RedDoorz writing competition. Although I didn’t win, I felt accomplished to write down my thoughts. A week later, I re-wrote the same article but in English – “5 Places to Visit in Indonesia After Pandemic COVID-19”.

At that time, I still thought that after another couple of months, everything would be back to normal. I was so wrong.

June to August 2020

As the restrictions have been tightening up, there was a surge in the online shopping rate. including myself. Then one time, when I was browsing on one of the marketplace platforms, I noticed that there was this seller section and I started digging it. That’s pretty much how I started and I ended up selling some of my baked goods online. At first, I was only hoping that it would help to kill my time easier as we all were advised to stay at home – something that totally opposite of what I usually do for work.

By that time, I was officially “jobless” for about half a year. Although I still had saving to endure with, however, it still had a bottom pit. And I didn’t expect that my interest in baking and all the baking experiments that I have been doing way before the pandemic come to be useful during this time.

I feel funny about how my life is. When I was still working full time in the corporate world, I run to travelling to refresh myself. And then, travelling had “accidentally” become my full-time job, and I run into baking for “refreshing”. And now, baking seems like it has unofficially become my full-time job; now I wonder what I should do for a change then. Haha…

(+) Around the end of July, I started to support the Anugerah Pesona Indonesia Award event as one of the Ambassadors. It gave me a little bit of fresh air. It eased my longing for travelling by researching and finding out more about nominees closely related to destinations – something that I usually do when I run Eazycation. Passing times was also easier because of baking which eventually becomes my new baby. As of now, I have been selling bakery online for eight months. Unbelievable.

In case you wonder what I sell, here is the link to my online bakery.

September to October 2020

After months, finally, my friends and I made a day trip out of Jakarta. We went to the waterfalls at Mount Halimun National Park. I was so happy to be in nature again – looking at trees standing tall, fresh air and with all the greens around. Touching the rock with moss felt like touching something so precious. Probably my friends could obviously see the excitement on my silly face that day.

After months of restrictions, I think we all have been getting used to the “New Normal”. Although we minimized our movement out from home unless necessary, I did start to relax in a way that I started meeting friends in a very small group and in a less crowded area. It was not as comfortable as we used to be. We had to always keep a safe distance and we couldn’t hug our friends after so long never met.

(+) If before the pandemic, I hardly stay for a full month at home, now I have the chance to enjoy my time at home – rearrange my life, my home. Although I am an introvert, staying in and away from the crowd may be preferred. However, I am still a human with needs of social interaction. Moreover, who still think that introverts don’t like meeting people?

Many of my friends don’t believe that I am introvert. Do you?

November to December 2020

I guess, November and December are my favourites in 2020. Friends and I were invited to explore East Nusa Tenggara. We went to several places (islands) with a jam-packed schedule to follow and flights to catch. I was worried about my stamina at first after staying at home for so long and never really went on multiple days trips. Fortunately, everything was good. Travelling in a new normal with all the health protocol to follow closely was a new experience. I also didn’t regret to make a stopover in Bali for a few days to meet some friends and join the coral planting in Padangbai with Livingseas.

Read:
Mekko Island at East Flores
Kelabba Madja, Natural Wonder of Sawu Island

(+) Christmas is usually the season I always look forward to every year. Because I usually will spend it with family or my friends, off to somewhere for a holiday. To me, it was the happiest time of the year. But not with December 2020. I didn’t feel the Christmas atmosphere at all. Not a joyful one, I must say. But on the other hand, I am still grateful that all my family are still in good health. People I care (near and far) are doing well, too.

I hope all of you reading this, are always well and healthy.

• • •

The year 2020 is a challenging time for many people – may be not financially but emotionally, or worse, both. Despite all the sudden extreme changes, I still survive it through. I don’t really have anything to complain about. Yes, there were times that I was feeling down and bored to death. But well, who doesn’t? We have no choice but to adapt to the situation.

I wrote a similar article – “Weather for the Past 36 Months”, to recap three years of my life after leaving my full-time job that was meant to be temporary only.

Sometimes, we don’t know what life will throw at us, and we also don’t know where it will bring us to. In uncertain times like this, all we can do is think, plan, and prepare ourselves for the better or worse without forgetting to enjoy every single day that we have a chance to live for.

Year of 2020 wasn’t good but I think it wasn’t totally bad either. During this staying home period, I also realize that I don’t miss travelling as much as I think I would. However, I miss family gathering and meeting with friends, gather together and do activities together, badly. To my family and friends – all of you that I am willing to spend my time and fund for! Haha…I am thankful for having you guys in my life! Do stay positive and safe. Till we meet again soon! 🙂

Tracy Chonghttps://about.me/chongtracy
I love nature and I wish to swim with whales one day. If I am not exploring and working in front of my laptop, most likely I will spend the day trying out new recipes or spending time with family or friends.

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