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Catholicer Seminar Trip

Bandung Station. Anything weird here? :)
Bandung Station

Time has changed. It has been a long time since I last wrote a longer story (How are you? Have you been reading longer blog posts, lately?). Anyway, I share here my journey to Jakarta, to attend a seminar held by Catholicer, an organization that promotes fusion of technology and Catholic. My department, Teknik Informatika, had made some kind of cooperation hence I and some students visit their seminar for this occasion. Read along!

The girls, Ellena & Evelyn, was the first to arrive at the train station. About 10 minutes later, I arrived and helped them print their boarding passes, then we all moved inside the train platform. Chris came shortly after, but Joshua was nowhere to be seen. He texted that he was stuck in traffic, and I asked him to take a gojek for a quicker journey. 15 minutes before train departure, he hasn’t arrived yet so I asked the other kids to get into the train. Joshua finally arrived 5 minutes before departure, and we (mostly I) relieved, because he was responsible to keep our money and pay the meals while we were in Jakarta. We were all using economy class, similar convenience with executive but with less legs space. I was actually allowed to buy executive, but the students were only allowed to buy economy, and different class means different car. That is ironic, because the students who pay for my salary gets lower class than me, but well, life is not fair.

Dinner at A&W
Dinner at A&W

The train arrived at Gambir only a few minutes before 15.00. We took a TransJakarta bus to Hotel 88, where we stayed for one night. The seminar started at 19.30, so it would be too late to go back to Bandung at the same day. An hour of bus ride, and we arrived at Hotel 88. We had a short 1 hour break in the hotel, then walked another 1 km in the residential complex to A&W restaurant, where we had our dinner.

We finished our dinner early, and arrived at the seminar venue at 19.00, half an hour early. Nobody was there in the lobby, only a few chairs and a desk with statue of Mother Mary on top of it. For a few minutes I thought we were about to do some rituals rather than a seminar. I climbed the stairs to 2nd floor, and found familiar faces: Darren (the organizer) and Kevin (the speaker). Thank God there were many chairs upstairs arranged neatly for a seminar. We went down to take the students upstairs, and had some nice conversations before other guests were coming in.

Darren opening the session
Darren opening the session

The seminar itself was divided into three sessions. First session was led by Kevin, who works for Facebook. He works on React Native project, a framework that allows a developer build both Android and iOS app at the same time. In this seminar, he talked about building stellar user experience in mobile. Five major points were introduced, including usability and attention to details, among others (I forgot the others). However, those five boils down into one keyword: care. One needs to care about its users, to give them the best experience in using the mobile app developed. With that, the five points will eventually follow along.

The second session was doing the rosary prayer together, led by Nesya. However, it was done in a unique way: using a mobile app called “Beads“. It is a mobile app that simulates beads, with some additional features. It can show you the text for the prayers, in case you forgot. For each bead, you can also choose to pray for someone else intention (which can be requested with the same app). I particularly like the animation when you pray for someone intention, where a shining dove will fly away from the bead. One thing I worried about using this app, is that having WhatsApp notifications coming in while praying, breaking away my concentration.

Prayer for Chris
Prayer for Chris

The final session was led by Darren. He talked about spiritual centered design, an extension of human centered design. He argues that when somebody designed something, his/her subconscious mind may affect the design. For example, if a graphic designer designing smiley icons for an app while he/she is angry, it may affect the result (the smileys may look rather frowned, for instance). He followed along with an exercise, where were grouped into 3 persons each and have someone “interrogated”. This one fellow would be asked by another fellow about what is his/her dream before die. The asker will have to dig as much information by asking more questions. Meanwhile, the third person in the group should stay silent and observe, I think with the intention to find out the real answer not easily seen if you are actively asking.

When we finished, it was already 10 PM. We had a short networking session but I was too tired to continue longer, so I asked the students to go back to the hotel. If you are interested, see the interactions in this Facebook video.

The next morning, I woke up really early because I had to attend the baptism ceremony for my nephew, Dylan. It was held at Gereja Katolik Santo Laurentius, 20 km away from the hotel. According to Trafi, a public transport app, I should walk about 1 km, took a TransJakarta bus from a bus stop called “Kebon Jeruk Toll Gate”. For information, toll roads in Jakarta are forbidden for pedestrians, and last time I saw (few years back) that so-called bus stop was merely a toll roadside where people commonly gathered, rather illegally, to take the bus. The bus that serves the route to Gereja Katolik had a one hour interval between trips. Those two reasons were enough to stop me midway my walk to the bus stop, and changed my mind to take a GrabCar instead, although the fare will be 10x more expensive, even with discount.

This weird Soya Bean
This weird Soya Bean

With GrabCar, I arrived earlier than scheduled, and I decided to spend my time waiting at Pasar Delapan, a local market near the church. I was looking for something to bring back to Bandung, and decided to buy a gigantic fried meatball. It was priced IDR 39.000,- while the regular one was a mere IDR 7.000,-. I bought one for my wife and kid, and bought another one to share with my parents (also for me to try). Although expensive, the special meatball was worth the price, with more portion of shrimp and chicken meat. I also tried a black-soya-bean-cappuccino, another unique menu in the market. For me it’s a recipe for disaster in taste, but may be it tastes nice for everybody else.

15 minutes before the ceremony started, my parents picked me up, and went to the church together. The reason I asked my parents to pick me up is that I was bringing a backpack and a laptop sleeve bag. Going to a church with those bags, may attract weird looks from people, as we had history of some churches getting suicide bombed in the past years. Putting my bags in the car instead would make things less complicated. The ceremony itself was held without a mass, hence the church was filled only with relatives of those who were being baptized. I was both surprised and delighted to see some of my relatives whom I have not seen for some time, including Aunt Gwan (read previous story here).

Congratulations Dylan and Proud Parents!
Congratulations Dylan and Proud Parents!

After baptism, Dylan’s dad (Daniel, my sibling) took us to a nearby restaurant, Sinar Medan. It was a quite OK Chinese food restaurant, but the best part is that they have air conditioner! Even with Bandung temperature getting hotter in the past years, the heat in Jakarta was still worse. I did not pay too much attention to the taste of the food, as I was busy chatting with relatives I rarely have a chance to meet. Aunt Gwan holds regular arisan (meet ups) and after knowing my wife is 8-month pregnant, she promised to hold the next arisan in Bandung, shortly after my wife give birth. I was also surprised to see Richard’s twin boys were happy to play Play-Doh by themselves instead of looking at gadgets while we were having our meal.

At 11 AM, it was time to say goodbye. Aunt Gwan had some other appointment at the church, triggering everyone else to realize that we also have another stuffs to attend. I took another ride with my parents to Senayan City, where my mum works, then moved along to Gambir train station for my train back to Bandung. The train back to Bandung was slighty nicer than our depart trip, since it was almost dawn hence it was not as hot as our departure trip. However, the legs space was as cramped as before, reminding me that life is not fair to some people.

places religious singapore

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum

Some of the 100 bowls where we can put a coin in each bowl Buddhists celebration day Vesak is observed as public holiday in Singapore. This year Vesak Day fell on Tuesday, making the day-off a bit awkward. It was just a one day holiday, so I couldn’t go too far (like, going back home to Indonesia), but spending the day at home was just plain stupid. I was in the condition of what Indonesians call “style-death” (mati gaya): I really didn’t know what to do for several hours in the morning.

Well, the answer turned out to be actually simple: it’s a Buddhist day, so the best place to go is, the temple! There is a temple in Chinatown open for public, namely the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum (even from the name you know it’s way more than just a temple). This temple is 4 storeys high, plus a rooftop structure; and anyone regardless of religion can enter, as long as you wear decent clothes.

The first storey is where I started. Many devotees came to pray, therefore it was quite crowded inside the building. There were some rituals can be done inside the temple. Some devotees queued to get a chance to “bath the Buddha statue”, which merely to pour fresh water into a small statue (my landlord told me about this earlier in the morning, so it’s nice to get a first view look). There was another interesting ritual, which was to put 100 coins into 100 bowls, placed contiguously next to the walls. It seemed that each bowl represent one god, as there were many god-like statues behind the bowls. That interested me to give it a try, by exchanging $10 notes with a hundred 10 cents coins. However, somehow I ran out of coins before I could put into the last four bowls; I must have mistakenly put more than a coin in the bowl before. Judging from the number of coins inside the last few bowls, seems that other people made the same mistake, anyway. Pity those poor last gods..

Then I went to the 4th floor, which where the tooh relic was located. The place was more sacred, so we had to take off our shoes before entering the room, and we were not allowed to take photograph. Another devotees and some monks were praying in front of the tooth relic, separated by a huge glass wall. By now you should’ve suspect that there is something special about the relic. Well, aside from being sacred, it’s made from 320 kg of pure gold! (clink clink..). In this floor, people could also pour some water to the statue there.

Some of the 100,000 statues, each individually numbered

Next stop is the rooftop. Remember there were 100 bowls in the first floor? I imagined the people working in the temple was very persistent having to maintain those 100 bowls… until I saw the 100,000 Buddhas pavilion! There were actually 100,000 small statues inside the pavilion, each individually numbered. There were also a giant cyclinder rolling inside the pavilion. Devotees could hold on to the cyclinder while walking around the pavilion.

On the third floor there was a museum, showing yet another statues. And another devotees pouring water into the Buddha statue. But this time there was a printed description about the “Bathing the Buddha” ritual (finally, an explanation!). It originated from a story of 9 nagas spraying purified water into a newborn Buddha. Since then, devotees do this kind of ritual every 8th day of 4th lunar month anually.

There was not much to see in 2nd floor, so it concluded my visit to the temple. Although I’m not a Buddhist, it was quite an interesting experience, especially to understand how people from different religion pay homage to the Gods.


Buddha Tooth Rellic Temple and Museum is located at N° 288 South Bridge Road and accessible from either Chinatown or Tanjong Pagar MRT.

To be continued… The Red Dot Design Museum.