Life After the Pandemic Effect Slowly Disappears

How are things after we put our lives on slow mode for the last two years? The world starts making sense again.

– by Shirley Christie

Two years. That’s a long time, at least for an individual to stay put and live in a confined space called home. At one point, we ate, we slept, we exercised, we worked, we played, we hung out, and we grew tired of being surrounded by the same things (or the same people). 

Work from home. A way of life that was once celebrated and dreamt by the older and younger millennials. We dream of the perfect “work-life balance” that will give us the ultimate freedom within our own set of goals and responsibilities. So, when it finally happened in March 2020, we tried our best to keep things the way they were. We worked harder (much harder than we ought to be), and we tried to tell ourselves that we were lucky to have job security and a professional network during the uncertain time. All at the expense of our thinning patience and depreciating mental health. At times, we lost our peace of mind, we experienced sleepless nights, and we dragged our days like the living dead — eat, work, sleep, repeat. Some of us tried to make it up by buying and acquiring more stuff. With more disposable income left due to staying at home, we started buying things we didn’t need; online entertainment and digital items became a necessity, with jacked-up prices we were willing to pay to retain our sanity (i.e., cryptocurrencies, NFTs). As humans, we try to stay in control at least on something.

The year 2022. Most of us in developed and emerging countries have received at least two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. The world starts making sense again. The government bodies will ease some restrictions, in order to boost the local economies. What should we do? Here are some personal suggestions (5Rs) from me:

1. Refresh your mind by traveling within your region/country

I know you haven’t posed in front of the Eiffel tower in Paris or been able to share any photos from Shibuya-Japan on your IG or TikTok after the pandemic but relax, you will be able to do that later. Did you know that travel-related tensions increased significantly during the pandemic? Give it time to cool down, while also helping to revive your local economy. If you have a social account with high reach, you can post your favourite local businesses on your post or reel. 

2. Re-connect with your local network and businesses

Call or visit your favourite shops, cafes and restaurants that were forced to close during the pandemic. Be a good customer; don’t bargain too much or ask for a special discount (especially if it’s your friend’s or relative’s or client’s business). Be ready to learn new skills and take an unexpected route in your own career path. Remember that life is an open door, as Anna a.k.a. Kristen Bell said.

3. Respect health protocols

As soon as I arrived on the Island of Gods, Bali, I realised that my friends were right; I saw 9 out of 10 tourists from other countries were out and about without wearing any layer of mask. For a moment there, I was triggered to do the same. Eventually, it’s your choice to wear or not to wear any PPE, but it would be sad to see another spike in COVID-related cases in the near future. In my opinion, there are some “legacies” we need to keep from this pandemic/endemic, including access to handwashing amenities in public places, hygiene protocols for the hospitality industry, and awareness of personal hygiene.    

People might say I was a bit paranoid or extra careful since the beginning of the pandemic (wearing protective glasses, a mask, carrying some hand sanitisers in my bag, separating clothes from outside, spraying aerosol disinfectant spray on a daily basis, etc.), but I have been free from virus-related diseases within the last two years. 

4. Revive your health

Free from viruses is not the same as being 100% healthy. We have our own struggles, and mine might be totally different from yours. Was it anxiety and sleeping problems for you? Was it an auto-immune problem? Since I was indoors 24/7 in a compact apartment, I was lacking vitamin D and had gained a lot of weight. I did try to motivate myself by enrolling on online yoga or gym classes, buying a punching bag, gym ball and a treadmill, but they don’t feel the same. I need to be in a place where I can interact with other people and smell the sweat IRL. 

When I got my medical check-up results early this year, the verdict is clear; I am overweight. I went cycling around Ubud this morning and was (not) surprised to find out that I was out of breath when riding on a hilly Andong road with my poorly-maintained rental bicycle. Worse than that, I became a regular patient of a dermatology clinic, ever since the rashes on my face came back without a clear trigger or warning. So, yes, it is okay to make health and balance your main priority this year, although that means you’d need to sacrifice some extra things at work. As long as you are working smartly and honestly, you would still accomplish something great. 

5. Re-evaluate your priority

During the pandemic, we have grown a lot (emotionally, not physically *kappa*), even without us realising it. You might not be the same person you were two years ago. Open your old journal, and review your list of priorities. Are they still relevant today (for example, after you have given birth to one or two beautiful babies)? It is never too late to write a new chapter of your life. 

I’m currently writing this while sitting down at my favourite local coffee shop in Ubud, and wishing you all the courage in the world to reconnect with yourself and make progress. 

With love,


The Will to Exercise (Bicycle Story part 1)

There’s gotta be some connections between cerebral cortex and the will to exercise. Or else why do some people love doing it but some just never will?

I love #sports since I was very young. From badminton, ping pong, squash, swimming, surfing, wake boarding, kayaking, wushu, taichi, yoga, to cycling. They are all fun things that give me the #adrenaline rush and in the end, endorphin to stay happy. I like water, gymnastic activities, as well as steering/riding things (horse, bike, kayak, surfboard, motorbike, boat… you name it!)

The first time I rode a bicycle was probably when I was 5 or 6, and I didn’t need anyone to teach me how to do it. One day, my mom just watched me rode my tricycle with the two extended wheels already lifted. I lifted that thing up because they made it difficult for me to move around. My mom saw me and yelled at my dad, “Look, she got rid of the small wheels! She can ride a bicycle!” And then, at 14, I taught myself how to ride a motorbike and it was just oh, so much fun. I took one of the motorcycles at the house and just got out of the street. That’s the perks of not having so much parental control in the house, I suppose. Lol.

Research reveals, “those who were already active at the beginning and had high levels of psychological well-being tended to stay active even as they got older”, which is very true. There were times in my life where I wasn’t involved in any sports routines, but once I’m hooked, they’ll be like “drugs” and I’ll stay doing it for years, e.g. I started practicing #yoga regularly in 2011 and 6 years later, I’m still loving it. I got bored easily too, so I need to find a new sport to like. I also notice that I always come back to sports whenever I’m in a “soul-searching” or crisis mode. They don’t act like an answer or diversion, but they help me stay alerted, focused on finding my solutions. Most of the times, believe it or not, we already know the answers, but we just need time, clarity and confirmation.

How Airports Extort Money from Us #1

Everything sold at an airport is bloody expensive. If you’d ever wondered how much they mark prices up, well, it could be 200% or more. No kidding. 

See some examples of prices at Juanda international airport in Surabaya:

Bogasari milkfish is priced based on weight: Rp 70,000-Rp 100,000

Coconut flakes (srundeng): Rp 30,000

Regular crackers (krupuk) Rp 30,000-Rp 85,000

This sh*tty overlysweet coffee is Rp 24,000, taken straight from that icky cheap Nescafe #coffee machine often found at 7-Eleven or Circle K 🙄 

… but I’d still prefer this place over Starbucks (coffee priced Rp 60,000 and up) because they are less crowded & has plenty of power outlets! 

Tip: If you want to spend more than an hour of waiting for eating & drinking, just head to the nearest lounge. They only charge Rp 150,000 per person (but of course it’s free for some Indonesia’s bank credit card holders). #juanda #surabaya #TGIF #airport #travel

After Two Weeks of Cycling

I have recently started riding my bicycle within 5 km distance to save time, money and get fitter. Needless to say, I quickly found my childhood joy of cycling! (even though I often got trapped in the middle of heavy polluted and congested traffic or got teased by male passersby. GRR!)

Spent absolutely Rp 0 for 3 roundtrips to the gym and grocery stores a week (which usually spent on Uber/ Gojek + multiple tiring phone calls to the drivers). I could reach 2 km distance in 10-15 mins (after finding nice shortcuts), in comparison to 30 mins waiting + travel time if I use Uber/Gojek. The downsides are I have to shower as soon as I reach a destination (cuz this is NOT a 4-season country like Italy), and run my washing machine more often.

“I noticed that I was spending huge money on things I didn’t really need: trips to the bar, pretty clothes, takeout coffee, and so on. And all this with a mortgage and other big expenses to take care of,” said the girl in the article.

Yass, I agree. Apparently, I can live without (Doohh, of course, you can!) buying new clothes, fatty snacks, fancy meals or even cut my lifestyle spending by 90%.

Things I miss the most:

  • Salon treatment (seriously, biweekly pedicure, hair spa, massage routine is nice)
  • Traveling to a new country
  • Mingle with friends in fancy cafes (I limit social meetups only with small circle of friends at a time)

Things I don’t miss at all:

  • Buying new clothes, shoes & bags
  • Eating out after work (I like cooking for myself, cuz I can listen to music & think about other stuff while preparing the meals)
  • Hipster food & drinks (Rejuve, Kopipapi, Kokonut, Shilin, MisterPotato, etc)
  • Starbucks (bought a coffee maker instead. One cup brewed from good coffee beans only costs like Rp 1,500)

Things I still hold on to:

  • Investment & insurance
  • Platinum gym membership (it’s almost like breaking off a long relationship with your gym buddies, teachers, etc. Plus, I still need the yoga classes & hot showers in strategic malls around the city)
  • Netflix (reduced it to 1 screen viewing, but I still like to see their original shows & I have committed to eliminate piracy within the best of my ability)
  • Books & digital storage purchases (paperback, ebook, cloud server)

I will slowly get back to my old routines once I get the right full-time job, but I think I’ve learned a lot through this frugal living experience and will continue to ride my bicycle for fun & health reason. After all, I’ve lost like 3 kilos within 2 weeks. Not bad at all.

Get VIP Ticket to Big Bad Wolf Jakarta Pre-Opening Book Sale

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