Ubud Writers and Readers Festival : Day minus one and 1st Day (Part 1)

Dear Earthlings,

I do not know how to start the post, because I have been through so many sweet memories from Ubud Writer Readers Festival this year. I hope I do not miss any detail to share with you. It was such an amazing experience. I met new friends, gained new perspective, and talked with so many writers.

I was one of International Writer Liaison for the event. I got Tony Wheeler - yes, the dude who invents Lonely Planet - and two emerging writers, the winner of UWRF's Long Way Home short story competition contest whom I become close friends with. I also made new friends from many different backgrounds. They are just equally warm. It was just blissful.

So how do I start with this?

Day minus One
10th October 2013

We arrived in Denpasar via Malaysia Airlines from Kuala Lumpur at 3 in the morning. We were supposed to take AirAsia but despite of the APEC conference. I travelled with my friend, Lisa Chan, who was also volunteering in National Media. We went through so many transport and accommodation drama which I could no longer able to elaborate I really wanted to put that behind. Anyway the drama resulted in me, being chased after a crazy japanese tourist because I was said to take her/his room booking.

Well, anyway we transfered from that honeymoon lodge into a very nice, humble guesthouse at the end of Jalan Raya Ubud, which is very strategic. Located next to Circle K Market, Travel (but the didn't seem to open) and to the rice paddy field. The hostel was Mawar Guesthouse. A night costed us around Rp.250.000 We found many cheaper alternative with better amenities like Rumah Roda, the one that the festival advertised. But, well, Mawar Guesthouse seems perfect. The hosts were very nice and decent. Everybody smiled. It seemed like we were the only guess in the guesthouse though.

It was 10 am and we begun the hike from Jalan Raya Ubud to Jalan Campuhan where the basecamp and main venue are located for orientation. We disguised ourselves as a Thai tourists and it was fun. But then we regret the hike. It was so steep and far (But then I repeated the hike the next day again) and well, we managed to come for the orientation.

I was at the first and second orientation. So I had to listen to same talk over and over. But that was not a problem I guess. I have received my tag, t-shirt and bags with program book. I have also met with my coordinator, Hannah Purdy. She is so young, around my age. I am pretty impressed because I was expecting her to be in her 30s or 40s haha (sorry Hannah) I was so worried about my task, because this was my first task volunteering. Ever since I have introduced myself to the writers, I had so many incoming questions that I was not able to answer. One of my teammate told me to keep it simple. Some writers were independent she said, which was true. The briefing was very short despite of me waiting for hours.

with Hannah, pic taken on the last day of the festival

Hannah told me to be an airport greeter. I really had no idea. The next minute I texted Lisa that I was gonna head down to Denpasar airport with a friend and a driver. I did not know what we were supposed to do there. 

After reaching the airport, we unloaded bags... many of them and met with the current airport greeter who were wanting to be relieved. They briefed us about what we need to do. Simply (which was not that simple at all) we needed to wait for writers to arrive and tick off their names off of the list and coordinate with drivers on their accommodation. But of course, hitches! There were always been hitches! Like unlisted writers and writers who could not see any sign of drivers since they were waiting at the domestic terminal. It was so hectic. It felt like I did not sign up for this shit... But oh well, I enjoyed it because I made friends with other volunteers and writers. We were staying there for 2 hours. A group of volunteer relieved us and I was heading back home preparing for the 1st day. Scary good.

wasn't that lame until I become one... airport greeter

Anyway I always thought that airport greeter are lame until I was one. Oh dear.

1st day 
11th October 2013

I have just realised that all of my shift were not starting yet. So I decided to visit Casa Luna for a free poetry workshop by one and only @mailbykite or Ms. Khairani Barroka or Kak Oka. Actually she was not the one and only, because the workshop was also chaired by Ms. Olin Monteiro. I arrived late because I was visiting the green room, national media, basecamp, all were located at the left bank/main venue.

Okay, so I was at Casa Luna for the poetry right. And I did perform and wrote my own simple poetry in front of the rest of participants and Okka. Okka herself is a professional poet and energetic. Her comment to me was I needed to enunciate my words clearer which I am aware of that. I sometimes speak very soft, I sound very soft eventhough I don't intent to. 

at the poetry workshop

I was hoping to continue the workshop until 3, but not when these two gentlemen were looking for me. They were Leroy Luar and Yordan Radickhov, both are winners of the short stories competition held by ASEF. They were invited to this event. (Their winning stories can be viewed here and here) I promised to meet them at Casa Luna, because they would like to talk to me about the arrangement of transport and hotel. The stayed very far from Ubud so they wanted me to arrange driver to pick them up from their hotel to Ubud. Long story short, I found them a driver from Museum of Marketing who was seemed reliable. Actually, I had never done this before arranging what not for other people and I was surprised of my efficiency. Back home, I am the baby, I need to be taken care of, need to be picked up... Well, I think things have changed ever since I have started living on my own in Kuala Lumpur as a professional worker, not a student, and before coming to Ubud, I was working in a project which was headed by a very demanding person... So I though what could come worse that this, right?

a photo collage of me, Leroy and Yordan taken at the last day of festival

Anyhow, Leroy and Yordan are very nice person. They are so down-to-earth and humble, not to mention they are the same age as me so we get along very well. We talked about jobs and stuffs. Leroy himself is from Penang, Malaysia but is working in a PR company in Petaling Jaya, Kuala Lumpur. I am so happy to know that so I have more friends to talk to when I will be back in KL. While, Yordan from Bulgaria is a copywriter at an advertising agency, turns out the three of us are in the same industry. Interesting. We took a hike from Jalan Raya Ubud all the way to leftbank. They told me if I wanted to stay, but I said I would be okay joining them because I need to go the basecamp anyway. So then, we took the hike uphill whilst searching a phone card for Yordan which we found at the nearest supermarket. Strangely, the number is sometimes active and inactive... but it soon was manageable. 

Just before I was about to continue my journey with them, I was told to meet other writers at Casa Luna to discuss about their workshop tomorrow. I met with Mark Lowerson, Tracey Lindster and Andreas Pohl they are all expert in Vietnamese Cooking. I was so nervous when they asked me about details, like where are they supposed to present, do they have to cook, etc... Nobody I asked seem to know the answer. But we met with the restaurant manager and all Is well (?!) I need to find out the next day.

At noon, I had a free time to freshen up and then I caught an ojek to base camp to grab my lunch and I mingled with other volunteers. From there, I was taking yoga class! Yes I took yoga class and I was wearing this loose white t-shirt and very tight black leggings. Not so comfortable and you know I was bared when I stretch and bend... and I was not really following orders, because I couldn't see other participants did. So at some moments when we were supposed to close our eyes, I opened my eyes. I think throughout the session I opened them, and the instructor approached me, "were you opening your eyes throughout the session?" I answered, "yes" and then he said. "Next time, try to relax."

Damn, now he thinks that I might have tons of problem in life or not a peaceful person. He was a funny man though, cracking jokes all the time and it made us unfocused.

Anyway, after the yoga, we went to the 1st Poetry Slam at Betelnut. I deeply regretted that I did not finish my session with Okka because most of the participants were declaring their poems on stage. Then we moved to lotus cafe to eat and watched the Kartini mural, which was the first event of the festival. I met with amazing friends, namely Tia, Upneet and Chris. They discouraged me to take shower because it was just gonna be wasteful. Then, we moved to Bar Luna to watch Tah Riq performance, and the bar was very crowded... then headed down to Betelnut to watch Dialog Dini Hari, but they had finished performing. 

It was disappointed, especially for Upneet, our friend from Singapore who was dying to meet them. But in the end she received free copy of Dialog Dini Hari's CD. We gathered around to discuss about what to do the next day. Because there were too many panels too good to be missed!


Okay guys, stay tuned for more stories of Ubud Writers and Readers Festival 2013 here! As for now, my head is so dizzy, am having a heavy sleep deprivation and I have entered the office a day upon by departure to KL... ahhh....

Further read Part 2


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