I was once criticized for “loving to hate and hating to love” a country that I visited. Way before that, I hate being Indonesian and questioned those who blindly loved the country. Until only recently I found that a love without hate is a utopian love; that is, either it is non existent or it is delusional.
In 2007, I had my second over-a-month trip and landed myself in an ecolodge in Taman Negara Mulu, Serawak, Malaysia. There, with seven other travelers mostly from Europe and US, one of these travelers proudly asked me, “I’ve been to this and that in Indonesia; where have you been, my Indonesian friend?” I was silenced. Quietly I decided to learn about my home first, postponing my intention to see the rest of the world.
Ten years later after covering 33 out of 34 Indonesian provinces, I bravely decided to continue experiencing what the world outside this country has to offer. This time, I firmly said that although I loved Indonesia, I also knew that the country has it’s scars and holes. And I’m happy to be Indonesia, because – to me – happiness is acceptance and loving is giving and growing.