Recollections of Sanctuary

Ever since I took my first office gig in Jakarta last year, I’ve been moving across a couple of temporary housings in the city. “Kostan” is what we call those accommodations here in Indonesia, which is basically almost like a mix of a dormitory (but not only for students) and shared house (although some of them don’t quite look like a house, especially since some of them are not equipped with parking lot, living room, laundry facilities, or even a kitchen).

Funnily enough, none of them ever felt quite as “comfortable” as an actual place to relax and unwind by the end of the day for me. Although in the context of proper beddings, furniture, and facilities which help me to fulfil my basic needs of a shelter, they are indeed physically comfortable. It’s just that none of them ever feels like a “safe haven” that I would gladly spend a whole week inside, unlike some of my previous temporary bedrooms. (I was even almost gone mad the first two weeks of WFH and quarantine, before I decided to stay with my family in Bandung instead.)

I’m not sure why, but perhaps it’s partially owing to the fact that I never really considered the city of Jakarta a meaningful and remarkable place, other than someplace where I earn my living. Sure, I had some really good memories in the city, like when I went hanging out with my friends or exploring the city’s hidden gems with A. It was just never really a place where I had allowed myself to be emotionally open or vulnerable about anything.

I know there’s a fair chance that I will eventually settle in the vicinity of this city, because this is where I earn my paycheck (at least for now). But until then, I guess my opinions towards this metropolitan area would remain unchanged, and I don’t know if I will ever consider any of my “kostan” as an intimate, personal spot that would make me feel at home.

It’s also, perhaps, to some extent due to the fact that even though I’m not from Jakarta, I never feel like it’s a completely unfamiliar territory for me. Therefore, I never really think that at the end of the day, I need a place where I’m able to be myself without the fear of rejection of some sort. Unlike some of the days circa 2016 to 2018, where I always felt like I needed that kind of sanctuary where I could just be with myself without the interference of the outside world. Hence maybe the feeling of better appreciation towards my temporary home at that time.

Those two years were indeed the last time that I was ever really in love with my bedrooms. One thing led to another, eventually I had to find another new place around every two school terms. In total, I had stayed in three places while I was there. And today I feel like reminiscing and sharing some of the snippets of those places I once considered my sanctuary in that foreign city.

My favourite of all and the last one I’ve ever lived in: a shared two-bedroom apartment at 108 St and 81 Ave NW.

A shared house in 109 St and 77 Ave NW. I had to walk for about 10 minutes in the neighbourhood to get to the bus stop, which – depending on the weather and temperature – could either be my favourite time of the day or the least to look forward to.

My first ever bedroom in Edmonton, at the UofA’s International House.

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Please ignore the mess and the rainbow-toned bedding set.

P.s.: The post looks better on my webpage if you open this post through your browser, since the captions on each image apparently won’t show up (except for the last image) if you’re reading this through your WordPress Reader. 🙂

Written by

A geologist, self-taught photographer, hobbyist writer, and wanderer who loves subtle colours, sunrays, mother nature, wilderness, adventures, flowers in the afternoon, quiet corners of a city, being literally - yet not figuratively - on top of the world, solo travels, trips by train, fascinating rocks, vintage postcards, and aesthetically pleasing urban landscapes.

36 comments / Add your comment below

  1. ngeliat foto-foto kamarnya pas lagi di luar negeri itu semacam kalo saya nyari inspirasi di pinterest dengan keyword “cozy small space room ideas” teramat menarik,
    foto-foto kamar dengan desain yg ‘kita banget’ jadi mengingatkan masalalu, akupun sama, di luar negeri sejak mulai SMA, itupun jika aku menganggap Garut adalah satu negeri tersendiri dan Bdg adalah luar negeri (luar nagrek tepatnya). tempat pertamaku bernama ledeng district. up in the north side city. udaranya dingin, adem, tempat yg nyaman untuk belajar.
    kini aku menetap di negeri ini, dan negara tetangga bernama Jakarta yg aduhai glamornya ga pernah membuat aku terbuat untuk kesana, aku lebih suka kedinginan daripada kepanasan. kalo kepanasan, suka pengin makan kepala manusia, kalo kedinginan tinggal seduh kopi hitam panas sambil selimutan, baca buku atau nulis ga jelas kayak komen ini, hahaha…

    i wish you can share more photos while you’re out there. senang lihatnya, entah kenapa.

    1. Wah makasih makasiih ini emang inspirasinya dari Pinterest dengan keyword yang mirip kok hehe (meski hasilnya yaa ala kadarnya aja gak jadi mirip juga sama yang digoogling). Garut & Bandung sama Jakarta emang kalo di Eropa kayaknya udah pantes buat dijadiin 2 negara terpisah sih hahaha beda banget aja soalnya dari orang2nya, tradisinya, suasananya apalagi.

      Iya nih kayaknya bakal bikin beberapa throwback post lainnya.. Dibuang sayang aja soalnya foto-fotonya, dan lagi kehabisan bahan cerita yang present time juga hahha.

      1. hahahaha…tapi seberapa lokalnya diriku, punya kemiripan keinginan, ingin tinggal di eropa sana, tapi ga mau selamanya, inginnya sementara waktu, dan selama itu hanya menjelajah setiap jengkal benua eropa, mendokumentasikan keindahan alamnya, menulis cerita dan perasaan tentang ke-belum-biasanya saya dengan malam yang lebih lama di musim dingin, atau jam 8 malem tapi masih kayak jam 3 sore di Indonesia, atau mengalami sendiri puasa ramadhan 19 jam, mungkin.
        dan setelah semuanya terjelajahi, teralami. akan kembai pulang ke Indonesia dan mejelajah sabang hingga merauke, lalu membandingkan, mana ya lebih terasa rumah.
        gila jg ya, cuma untuk mencari jawaban mana yang lebih terasa rumah aja harus keliling dunia?hmmm… dear Bill Gates, angkat aku jadi anakmu, lalu fasilitasi aku untuk menjelajahi bumi ini, hehe… 😀

        ngawur banget dah

        1. Aamiin aamiin. You never know, mungkin suatu saat dapat kesempatan buat kerja di luar (makin sini makin sadar kalau sebenernya kesempatannya buanyak banget bahkan untuk orang Indo, tapi emang gak banyak yang ngeh aja) atau sekolah di luar. The possibilities are endless!

  2. I don’t think I ever felt home in Jakarta, back in the “kos”. It made me think whether I would continue to live in the rat race (and could possibly never afford a place on my own downtown and had to settle far out from the city and spent impossible time to commute). I was seriously considering to move back home (surabaya) which was still relatively affordable back then. But then I got the chance to move here, and now I feel completely at home.

    1. Thanks for sharing! And now you’re living my dream to settle in Scandinavia. There’s a significant part of me as well who still daydreams about settling somewhere abroad, Norway has especially been my dream for years. Although once I got the taste of Canada, it’s actually pretty great too.
      Everything you mentioned is on point though, those resonate very well with me actually. If my kind of job is available in my hometown which is Bandung (p.s.: it’s not), that’d be a game changer for me.

      1. what is your kind of job actually, Nabil?
        and btw, if you have the options, would you choose to settling in like kutubuku in Denmark?and where it would be?Canada?
        i just curious 😀

        1. I’m a petroleum geologist 🙂 it’s always been my dream to work abroad but due to one thing and another, for the time being until a few years from now I have to stay in Indo hehe. But if I can have my wish granted, I’d definitely want to stay in Norway for a couple of years at least 😀

    1. Makasiih🖤 ini kayaknya lebih ke kontemporer daripada minimalis soalnya banyak banget pernak-perniknya ahahah. Iyaa dulu juga aku hobi banget nyari room inspo ala Tumblr, makanya string lightsnya bejibun nih hehe.

  3. Jakarta never feels like home to me either. I lived there for about 2 years and now I go there to visit my parents, but it’s always just that. A visit. It’s not a city where I feel safe and comfortable.

    1. Wah Kak Dixie, it’s been so looong. So happy to see you live your life to the fullest, it seems like an amazing one. 🙂
      Yeah we’ll see if my opinions would ever change, I’ve only been living here less than a year (and minus the months I spent back in Bandung due to this WFH situation) so I guess it’d be too early for me to jump into conclusions. But I get what you meant. Once you understand that there’s no limit to where one should settle (or not, being nomadic is cool as heck too), I guess Jakarta really isn’t the kind of city you’d put on top of the list of places to stay forever indeed. 🙂

  4. Hi mba Nabilah 😀 salam kenal ~

    Saya juga termasuk yang nggak betah di Jakarta, entah kenapa 🙈 jadi sejak beberapa tahun silam saya pindah ke Bali sebelum akhirnya jadi bolak balik antara Pulau Bali dan Pulau Jeju, Korea. Saya pribadi sepertinya lebih suka hidup di pulau kecil daripada di kota besar seperti Jakarta / Seoul, karena merasa lebih damai dan tenang serta hidup lebih seimbang hehe 😁

    By the way, saya suka banget sama foto meja kerja yang di 108 st, meski penuh dengan segala isinya, tapi terlihat sangat nyaman untuk bekerja 😍

    1. Hi juga Mbak yang aku belum tau namanya karena di About section di blognya gak ada namanyaaa,

      Waah seru banget pindah2 antara Bali dan Jejuuu. Aku belum berkesempatan ke Korsel dan jujurrr aku juga kurang tertarik ke Seoul karena I’m not the big city kind of girl either TAPIIII aku pengen banget kayak seminggu gitu di Jeju aja! Edmonton ini juga kota yang sepi gitu Mbak (iyalah kayaknya orang2 juga pada belum pernah denger namanya hahha) makanya aku seneng banget sama vibenya.

      Makasiiih iya karena gede banget kali ya, beli secondhand dari desainer gt dulu jadi emang sebenernya meja studio gitu haha. Btw aku mau follow blog Mbaknya tapi kayaknya gak ada follow buttonnya ya?

  5. I have good memory about Jakarta although living in Jakarta could be tough. Now, I have a relaxed life living in a small village in Bali, and I am very grateful for that because everytime I go to the city like Denpasar, I find myself quite stressful to see the crowded houses, people and traffic.

    1. You’re also living my dream Mbaak, I always wanted to settle in a village or at least small town kind of place, certainly not Jakarta-type. Growing up in a hilly part of Kabupaten Bandung, I never think I belong in big cities as well. It’s so interesting & inspiring that many Indonesians I follow on this WP platform seems to be living the kind of life I daydream about. 🙂

      1. maap stalking comment section nya, abisnya kyk ya rame, udh 25 komen aja,haha… tp jd penasaran, kabupaten bdg itu dimananya?ga kok, ga kan didatengin, just curious. 😁✌

          1. terakhir kesana pas kemping, sungguh sesuatu yang berkesan. dan pas turun gunung, liat sana sini udah mulai pembangunan komplek perumahan, sekarang pasti udah rame ya?

  6. Hi. Artikelnya bahasa Inggris tapi karena banyak yang pakai bahasa Indonesia, jadi menyesuaikan saja. Kamar-kamarnya estetis sekali ya.

    Saya orang Jakarta dan mengakui kalau tinggal di ibu kota memang nggak senyaman jaman dulu lagi. Kalau di wilayah sedikit ke luar masih mendingan ya. Tapi kebayang org luar Jakarta spt apa rasanya.

    Saya sih sdh merasa puas tinggal di luar dan nggak berminat pindah2 lagi. Terlalu srg hidup pindah2 soalnya..😅😖 hehe. Tapi ya tetap suka kalau dlm rangka traveling biasa. Dan suka baca2 cerita perjalanan.

    Cuma bisa bilang semua hal ada momennya. Nanti kalau memang buat kita itu akan ada saja jalannya.

    1. Aku pengen banget itu Mbak, semi-nomadic gitu. Tapi ya memang, we always want things we cannot have ya hahaha. Mungkin someday in the future deh, sekarang yang penting living in the present dulu ajaa. Thanks for taking the time to read btw. 😀

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