Ubud Writers and Readers Festival : Day 4 and Day 5 (Part 3)

Previously read part 2

Dear Earthlings,

I cannot believe today is precisely a week after the last day of Ubud Writers and Readers Festival 2013. The memory is still fresh in my head, and I want it to stay that way. All friends I have met along the festival and the writers I talked to.

Okay, so here we go, the last bit but not least of the festival :)

Day 4
Monday, 14th October 2013

It was Monday in Ubud. I was still waking up to the sound of bird chirping and cold dew from the mountain uphill. Whilst, wondering how pity it was for my colleagues to be waken up to the bustling crowded urban that is Kuala Lumpur. Last night, I decided to take a walk to the paddy field. A friend suggested me that I should be leaving early, like before 5, but even so, leaving after 6 is a hard thing to do. So I begun my hike alone to the rice terrace, which is just behind my guesthouse. At first, I took the wrong direction and ended up in an alley full of fierce dogs.... my ultimate nightmare. But then, I found the right path and begun the hike. 

It was such a nice hike. I was informed that there are two ways to wander around the paddy field. One is nearby Ibah and one is leading to Sari Organic. I took the one that leads to Sari Organic, because it is the nearest, and well, I hope to visit a rice terrace before I left Ubud. Because what is Ubud without rice terrace?

breathtaking green

During my hike, I also met with several volunteers and we ended up walking together to Sari Organic. I wanted to eat breakfast there, the price is actually reasonable, but since I am being a cheap traveller, so I decided to eat what the hotel served. But Sari Organic had a beet juice... Damn, I had never had a beet juice and it got me thinking that I should order one!

I left the terrace and walked back again to the hotel at around 9. I did not realise that the day is almost the closing day of the festival until one by one volunteers started to talk about their return trip to their hometowns. We also talk about arrangement for tomorrow's Eid prayer. Yes, the last day of the festival coincides with Hari Raya Haji/Idul Adha. It is lucky because I had met with them so they were so happy to let me join them for tomorrow.

After shower, then I went to Indus with Lisa. We arrived a little latter than we used to. It was around 10.30 and Lisa started her shift well I was trying to listen to one of the panel but instead I was hiding downstairs at the basecamp and mingled with the rest of the volunteers. I really had nothing to do, until one of the coordinator asked me whether I am able to become an MC for a book launch.


The last time I was hosting was at my friend's 16th birthday party. I looked like a mess and I ruined everything. But, you know, that was 5 years ago and I said, "Yea... why not..." and I did not know what I am up for.

Having a spare time away from my shift, I decided to join my driver to pick up Tony Wheeler and wife and Don George for "Traveller's Lunch" at Alila Ubud. So it was one of those privileges to get upclose and personal to Don and Tony. First guest to be picked up was Don. He was such a nice guy and warm. This is a good thing to idolize a writer, they never failed you. And then we picked up Tony... and there we went, to Alila.

traveller's lunch at Alila

The view was amazing and the served this amazing spicy mocktails. So good and so fizzy. I left after half an hour of being there, because I just really wanted to get in touch with my VIP writers. And because, I needed to visit a panel that included writers that I really wanted to see, such as Daniel Ziv and Dewi Lestari. So I moved on to Neka, after a quick lunch, and sat for turning-book-into-film panel... Sorry I couldn't remember the exact name of the panel. But it was fun. I felt like throwing questions to Dee about her upcoming and existing film adaptation of her book but those were all covered by some interviewers... But I managed to ask her some questions. Stressing about transition of her genre from Perahu Kertas, a fun-loving fiction, into an intellectual spiritual series that is Supernova. She said that it derives from transpired events that give her a new perspective into life. That is pretty reasonable, and I have actually expected that answer from her.

Apart from meeting Dee, and man, I won't bother to take pictures of her because she was literally the celeb of the day. People were coming at her, asking picture and autograph. It was crazy she should really consider having a bodyguard.... and yeah, apart from meeting Dee, I met with journalism extraordinaire Goenawan Mohammad and the festival founder Janet DeNefee who looked so pretty in kebaya... so elegant. I asked her of some tips IF like 10 years from now, I would like to arrange similar literary and arts festival in my hometown and she gave me word of encouragement.

After staying for the panel, I moved down to my guesthouse to prepare the biggest event of the day, which was hosting Diana Greentree's The Camros Bird book launch at the 3 Monkeys.

me upon making history of being hostess

Ms. Diana is a prominent TV actress in Australia, maybe she is like Meriam Belina in Indonesia and she is pretty sweet. She knew I was nervous, I hope she was not wondering if she or the festival had made the wrong decision to let me host the launch. Embarrassing thing was I remembered introducing myself and mispronounced her last name into "Greenwood" so I said to her "Ms. Diana Greenwood?"
"It is Greentree, actually."
*handshake getting firmer, I am blushing* "Oh I am sorry"
and then the british visual guy laughed

my tantrum MC note

I said to her that her name is similar to Sylvia Plath's character in The Bell Jar, namely Esther Greenwood... So I kept remembering her surname as "Greenwood", until you know, after the event... I am so sorry...

Long story short, I think I was kinda repeating the hosting incident 5 years back. I was reading from the page and was very robotic. I was like a child learning English from basic. Fluent but soulless. However, Ms. Greentree was very nice and supportive enough. She even gave me her autographed poster of The Camros Bird.

By the way, you should really read The Camros Bird, which tells a story about asylum-seeker trauma, love and drama.

Jalanan screening at Blanco Museum

The food and the canapes served were very nice! It was much more variety compare to those I was having at Rouge the day before. They have lumpia (spring roll), mini satay... Oh my god, thinking about them hence making me hungry. (Yeah, add the fact that I am still in the office on 8.17 pm without no dinner)

The event ended soon, and then one volunteer - Sisilia and I were heading fast to Blanco Museum to watch the movie Jalanan. The most awaited film screening ever in UWRF13.  Actually, this was the session where my 2 writers, Leroy and Yordan performed their acceptance speech for the winning stories. Ah, I knew I would miss it anyway! But yeah, that is the disappointing part that I could not usher them on stage. I was at the audio stage watching them presenting the speech. I heard my name was mentioned as Leroy said, "... Thanks Ms. Summa and Ms. Ayu..." this is the moment where I should let my "Ah, staph it you" face emerged shamelessly. I felt like a proud mother watching her two sons winning football games or science projects (if in this scenarios, my sons would be geeks)... or maybe I am just exaggerating. Well, I was literally shouting "My writers!" Although, people might not be convinced. I thought of meeting them after their speech, but God, was the place crowded. There was even traffic on the pathway, thanks human! People were so excited to see the screening of Jalanan, and I am glad to be at the exclusive preview that night with the rests of my friends.

The film is a 2-hour long documentary. The director, Daniel Ziv, spent 6 years to capture the stories of Jakarta's street buskers namely Boni, Ho and Titi. Boni is a street busker who literally lived under a bridge. Ho is a hopeless romantic, dread-locked, satire, philosophical and humorous street musician. Titi is a sweet mother and devoted housewife and breadwinner, who is struggling between living in a male-dominated field.

It is a touching and emotional documentary. The three are real and strong character. The most surreal moment was when Boni, Ho and Titi were called into the stage and performing together. i think, I cannot comment further about Jalanan. Make sure to catch the nearest screening!

with the girls

After the Jalanan screening, we were saying goodbyes to friends that were leaving that night. It was a bit emotional knowing that the festival had been such a great fun and it ended soon.

We ended the day having dinner at Ronji Restaurant with our friend Susan and Jess. It was fine, until the waiter fed my vegetarian friend a fish inside her spring roll. Oopsie...

Day 5
Tuesday, 15th October 2013

Wow, it is coming down to the last day of the festival. Panels were still going but I didn't visit any single of them. Then I missed one "Sex Debate" Panel on the evening before the closing ceremony begun.

I started the day quite early for Idul Adha praying. Bali is Hindu-populated island, unlike most part of Indonesia which has majority of Muslims. It was bit of a struggle to find a place of worship. It was a big Islamic celebration, so I promised to myself that no matter what I needed to find a mosque.

Luckily, I met volunteers who were planning to go for Idul Adha prayer. So I made a pact with them to meet at Jalan Raya Ubud to go to the nearest mosque in Gianyar. So, we rented a Angkot right! Angkot was basically a cheap shuttle. The driver was very nice to allow us booking the whole vehicle for the morning, without getting worried of not having other passengers except us. So I went with 7 participants and 1 young writer named Emil.

being a minority for one morning :) 

This is what I love about the festival that you got to meet many people from many different backgrounds. You met friends from the capital city to small city. I felt related to them in a way that most of my friends who were going with me to the most are from small towns. I am from a small town. Meeting them reminds me of what I missed from my hometown. The humbleness and the simplicity of the people. Whereas, during the festival or even during my study and work years I have established new friendship with people from other countries and big cities.

It was a good festive time and after praying we went to a local warung to eat some nasi campur. And believe it or not, my coin purse had lost its magic. I was down to Rp.12.000 (USD 1,2) before I could even pay for the angkot.

friends posing at warung

Then, we arrived back to Ubud. The driver dropped us off at monkey forest road and I took out some money, pay the driver, visited the market... blah blah blah... and went for shower... breakfast... then went straight to the main venue. That was my last time taking the free shuttle. Because that day I decided not to attend any of the panel, I just wanted to walk around Ubud before I left tomorrow... with my writers!

Okay, guys, I am writing this post exactly a week after my arrival back to Kuala Lumpur and I am trying to grasp what I had missed.

I met with Leroy and Yordan to discuss about their transport to the airport. Leroy's transport was settled first. He was the 1st to leave, and then followed by Yordan who accepted to stay until 5pm the next day in the hotel, because there was unfortunately no free arrangement possible that allow him to take a walk to Kuta before heading back to the airport.

Anyway, they both would like to visit the market to buy some souvenirs, and I would like to buy some pretty dresses! It was a fun time wandering around the shops with Leroy and Yordan... especially, Yordan, I never thought he is such a tough-hearted bargainer. He is even better than me, as an Indonesian or Leroy who isa  Malaysian. I remembered him saying, "Don't worry guys we do this a lot in Bulgaria." ... and he meant it.

He got a piece of clothing for 5 USD from the initial price which I remembered was around 14 USD. Seriously, hat-off for him. I remembered jokingly saying to Leroy, "I think he doesn't need my help anymore."

After round of shopping, which included begging, pulling arms (between me and the vendors, but originally done by the vendor, seems like she really wanted me to buy so desperately) and sweet words thrown (...by Yordan, consistently begging to a lady vendor who sold Balinese udeng, but he forfeited anyway and paid for the last dealt price) we stopped by a local bookstore and decorated boutique whilst looking for warung to eat. I suggested to eat at Warung Ijo and Nasi Padang but both were closed for Idul Adha celebration!  I was so disappointed. We were... and then we finally moved to one open warung with nice open view to the street. I couldn't remember the name but that was the place where we decided to stay, sit... until the closing ceremony.

We ended up talking a lot. About our countries, Malaysia, Indonesia, Bulgaria...and some more the conversation was diverted to... Wu Tang Clan (?!) and nose-picking. It was so random. The boys were having their araks while I was so fine with my ice tea. This is the part where I was gonna miss the most.

It was almost 6 and we climbed up the road again to go to the closing ceremony at Blanco Museum. Although it was kinda difficult, but I finally made up my mind to go back to the main venue to search for my anthology book. It cost Rp.50.000 and is official anthology of this year's festival.

When I visited the leftbank for one last time, It was all empty, unlike the previous days where everyone was here and listening to the talk. It was a bit of emotion. Because I cannot believe this festival was coming to an end. I drove home with volunteer coordinator, Katrin, who was very nice to offer me a ride. I was telling her maybe I could be dropped at the Blanco Museum, but then she said, "Are you sure you don't wanna dress up?"

So, I went home for freshen up and appeared fresh at the festival closing night...

I arrived with Katrin on her motorbike at Blanco Museum. There, we were served by free drinks and nasi jinggo which was very spicy. And there was a ballistic fire dance performance and kecak dance, and strangely I was asked to become the flower girl on stage -.- really I was delivering flower to Mrs. Janet Denefee and the rest of the volunteers. Yeah, despite all cameras pointing at me, I have not ever seen single photo of that moment online.

closing night hype courtesy of Slamet Melda and Stanny Angga

I continued the night by hanging out with my writers and the rest of volunteers. It was a bit sad and emotional when finally I was saying goodbye to my writers, especially Yordan who flew all the way from Bulgaria to Bali. I was starting as their writer liaison but turned out I have gained a new profound friendship and it is very beautiful.

I resumed the night by taking multiple photos with the rest of volunteers until the festival close. We even met with Jalanan stars personally and talked to them until the stage was removed... actually I was just taking pictures with them, but I kept a close intimate conversation with my dearest friend Chris and Upneet, how emotional that closing night is to me...

and we all moved to our guesthouse and continued to talk, until I feel asleep... and one by one, my friends were all gone and the next day I was waking up next to my only roommate.

That was it....


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