29 Oktober 2007

About QA and My Assignments

Since I joined QA team about couples of years ago, the pattern of my life have been changed a little bit. I’ve become a traveler, or more a business trip-per. I work out-of-town more than in Jakarta, sometimes no work at all back in head quarter office. Last week could be in Medan, back to Jakarta for a week and then could be in Surabaya the next week. I probably stayed in hotel more often than my own home for the past 2 years. I go more places than before. People said that being auditor can offer you the most experiences of traveling (at Company’s cost, of course) than other any profession. Well, I guess they’re right. This has been kind of exited for me, for now. I’m not sure that I still have the same excitement after another one year doing like this. Until then, let’s just enjoy all the possibility offered by life.

Well, maybe I not yet been to so many places as others might been to. Or not to a places that so different than anybody else. But this has been enough to make me feel thankful. To open my eyes to many beautiful places in Indonesia, even abroad. And a little proud too. I mean some people are perhaps know Timbuktu better than let say, Guigang or Tanah Grogot (I was, 3 years ago). Now, I have chance to go there. And the amazing thing about it, I am not just go there as a tourist, I have a chance to feel what is it like to have a life like them, to live their life, something I always wanted so much for so long.

The job, the people I’ve met, the food, and of course, the beautiful pictures I’ve taken, which also can be viewed at http\\ajnatz.multiply.com. Ohya, about the job, I will tell you as little as possible so you don’t get boring too much, or not, cause I probably have nothing to say about the job. As one of my co-worker often said to me at 5 PM before we leaving the office, “another ‘hard’ working day” with a big grin coming out of his face.

I don’t really want to work here
I joined QA team 2 years ago, as I said in the beginning. I was offered to an accounting supervisor position by this local, seldom heard, not located at Sudirman, Thamrin or Kuningan-Company. I got a feeling that they will hire me, but I will refuse them at the very end of the recruitment process which could took a long time. So, this could be a waste of time, both for me and the Company. But, considering I am an unemployment at that time, with all respect to the karma, I come to the very first interview. Like I often said, if you refuse to answer the call of interview, you might not get one when the time you need them bad, that’s karma. So, I came.

The title “accounting supervisor” it self has frighten me. Supervisor? I’ve been an Assistant Manager before. And Accountant? My God, did I mentioned why I was unemployed at that time? Because I couldn’t stand being an accountant. Yes, I quit the job as Finance and Accounting Assistant Manager at an MNC (Multi National Company), everybody heard off, and located at Kuningan-Company after working there no longer than 2 months. I’m sick of accounting! But, as I said above, I came.

But maybe it’s true that this is my destiny. On my first interview, they change the offer to an internal audit, they call it QA here. QA = Quality Assurance, later change to Corporate Assurance but people still like to call it QA instead of CA. And at the very end of interview, they higher my position to become an assistant manager (ass-man ha ha), maybe because of the salary I asked is in that level.

It’s not really a team when I first stepped in the QA. Just two of us + one Senior Manager, an India. As soon as he leave us (resign from the Company), we prepared our schedule ourselves, developed the report, working paper and new way of work. Now, there are four of us in the team. Me, Roy, Darwin in Jakarta and Agung located in Surabaya. None of us is head, and as a youngsters, we work in a fun way, as long as we can deliver what our boss, which is the owner of the Company, want. The Company has branches spread all over Indonesia from Medan to Bali. Also there are subsidiaries in Sumatera, Java, Sulawesi, even in GuangXi Province, South of China. Anywhere there’s a company owned by our boss, that’s where we assigned (ourselves) to. Below is the detail stories of each location I’ve been to.

There’s a branch and 4 subsidiaries here. Actually my boss’ business was started here from a small chemical store. During 2006, I spend more of my time in Surabaya than in Jakarta. I assigned to Surabaya more than my other assignments. That’s make Surabaya my second city, and Somerset hotel have been a second home for me. But actually, I’m not always work in Surabaya during the assignment, there’s a small city +- 60 KM from Surabaya called Pandaan, very near to Pasuruan, but I often stay at Somerset, a four star hotel located at Kupang Indah.

From Jakarta to Pandaan through the highway is about 45 minutes. The highway across the location of Lumpur Lapindo, one of the nation disaster that haven’t been solved until today. I have been a witness of this big disaster from its very first day happen. When the smoke is still as small as rubbish burning. Now, the highway is closed. And the Lumpur Lapindo has become not only local news headline, but also international headline. I show you the picture taken from news and other picture taken by me :) Now going there has took more than 45 minutes as before. Now could took me 2 hours, sometimes even worst, to get there from Surabaya. There is a period of time that I chose to stay at Hotel in Tretes, mountain range near Pandaan (only 30 minutes). I’d stay at Hotel Surya, owned by Gudang Garam. Old hotel, quite spooky there. But when you wake up in the morning you can smell the morning dew and feel the pleasant cool weather.

Somerset has been my second home during 2006. Some of the employee even indeed recognize me. I choose to stay here because near highway gate to Pandaan, so I don’t have to spend more time in the city traffic. At the evening, not hard to find the food or place to hang out. Very near to the hotel, there’s plenty of fine restaurant serving Chinese food, Noodle, Sea Food, Steaks etc. Some of them are quite famous in Surabaya, such as Nasi Udang Bu Rudi, Bebek HT, Kepiting Cak Gundul, Fajar Noodle House, XO and Jade Imperial. Not far from the hotel, there’s a kind of high class pujasera, and Sea Master restaurant are there. One of my favorite sea food restaurant. Or, I can take a 15 minutes taxi to Supermall (PTC), there’s a fine Chinese restaurant there, one of the place I always return to, La Shang Wei. Their pork ribs coated with honey is fabulously delicious. I also eat once at BonXo before they closed. I don’t understand why they have to close it. The place is nice, the food too. Not very far from Supermall, there’s G-Walk, a street with many choices of restaurants and foods that only open at night. Located in the Citraland residential, the place is safe, cozy and can be very relaxing. I ate at Hachi Hachi Bistro, Japanese style of steak and sushi, a couple of time, also ate once at Restoran Khayangan, a Sundanese and Javanese style restaurant. I remember there is a grandiose Catholic Church near there.

What other good food in Surabaya…. Hmmm Let me think for a while… Ow, I like Ayam Penyet Bu Kris so very much. In fact, our company’s driver has know where to take me lunch, “Ayam Bu Kris, pak Andi?” yes, hot and spicy. Also Ayam Goreng Pemuda, Ayam Goreng Presiden and Ayam Goreng Hartono. Though they all taste the same but I enjoy eating them. Not so crispy but they sure yummy… Beside the above, there’s still some places that offer a good food, such as warung ijo in Pandaan or Soto Banjar at Tanjung Perak which I happen to eat this afternoon. The Soto taste real good, not to mentioned the sate, with best quality peanut sauce. Other place that quite famous here is Kya Kya road, only open at night, because at night the road is close for car and motorcycle. The foods are mostly Chinese food, because Kya Kya is located in China Town (Jl. Kembang Jepun). I only past the street a couple of time. Haven’t try the food, people told me the food not so special.

I know quite a lot now, don't I? he he.. When I first assigned here, there’s only little things I know about the food. Thanks to my cousin, Jamie, who introduce me to most of the above. She’s a young freelance designer who like to eat. In fact, their family owned a restaurant themselves. Depot Sehat, located at Mayjen Sungkono. Chinese/Medanese food which cooked specially by the father himself. Special Menu is Ayam Goreng Bawang Putih, crispy and taste good in your mouth.

Ohya, beside stayed at Somerset and Hotel Surya, I also been stayed at Plaza Surabaya Hotel, Garden Palace Hotel, Novotel Surabaya and Hotel Elmi. In fact, right now, I’m writing this blog at Garden Palace. There's legendary ice cream house (Zangrande) just outside the hotel. If I were in Somerset, I probably been drinking Forever Tonight while writing this. I remember one night, when four of us (complete QA team) have a chance to have dinner at Terakota Restaurant, Somerset level 2, I recommend the drink Forever Tonight to them. From then, Forever Tonight have been a favorite drink of QA team. About Garden Palace, I like the breakfast buffet. Elmi, no comment, I stay there only one night, and that is because I cannot have reservation at other Hotel. Plaza Surabaya, I don’t like. Although I stayed there many times. The felling when being in the hotel is not comfortable to me, I don’t know why, maybe because I have a bad dream once in here. But one thing good about Plaza Surabaya, the café is great, open air, and they play a sound of birds in the morning.

The language, you don’t have to be able to speak Javanese here, most people can speak Indonesian. However, I learn a view of simple Javanese words my self. Like sampean = you, ghetok = see, ono = there is / have, ora = no, akeh = a lot/many, muleh = go home, mangan = eat, etc.

Some of the tradisional food in Surabaya:
1. Rujak Cingur = this one is #1 traditional food here. You haven’t come to Surabaya if you haven’t try this one. Me my self haven’t tried it, and probably never will. If I told you what it made of, you would probably agreed. Cingur means nose, yes, the main component of rujak cingur is cow’s nose. Others are vegetable with peanut and chili sauce. I like vegetable with peanut sauce like many other traditional food in Indonesia (Gado gado / karedok / pecel) but please remove the nose, I mean the cow’s nose… iyach…
2. Lontong Balap. This one I’ve tried. Lontong = steamed rise in a pandan leaf. Eat with cockle and a lot of chili.
3. Tahu Campur. Bean-curd with cow’s inside (lungs, intestine, liver, complete)
4. Semanggi. This is semanggi leaf in peanut and cassava dressing.
5. Rawon. Stewed meat with dark liquid.
6. Sate Kelapa. This is originally from Madura.
From what I’ve been tasted, Surabaya’s foods are relatively so-so. Maybe my tongue is different from the Javanese.

About the work. We have a branch at Jalan Sumatera, a logistic company (shore tanks and warehouse) at Tanjung Perak, a glue manufacturer at Rungkut (SIER), and 2 starch fabrics located at Beji (Pasuruan) and Pandaan. The last one is the most often visited this last 2 years. During my assignments in Surabaya, I've been inside the empty shore tank and climbed up to the top of HMC (Harbour Moveble Crane; which used to moved containers). Also I've been on top of shore tank to do the stock taking.

2 things about Ponorogo. Beautiful sun rise and great taste chicken satay. From the first day I arrived in Ponorogo, they’ve been suggesting sate Ponorogo to me, to bring home. This is one thing they very proud of.

The beautiful sunrise is because Ponorogo is surrounding by hills and mountains, that makes the sun beautifully rise from one of those hills/mountains, giving a tremendous picture when the gleam touches the field of rice down below.

I go there twice, last year July and early this year. My company own a starch manufacturing company, which quite famous here. The local called us “pabrik telo” which means “cassava manufacturer”. I was told that when we first here, Ponorogo really a village, not many people lived there. Now, with the exist of our company, the economy of the surroundings is lifted higher and that’s attract more people to come. I can say that we are the only big factory here, no other.

The company’s by product is pulp (waste, dregs of the cassava). Some of these pulp are given for surroundings for free, they can come to collect it at set time, twice a day. The pulp has a very unpleasant smell, but yet can make money by selling it to the factory that made animal food.

Near Ponorogo, there’s a St. Marry cave, which I never go there. I would really to, but Pak Santoso (one of the employee) told me that the road at that time is very slippery and not an easy road. He told me about story of a little girl once fell in to the deep and dark valley. A few days later, when everybody, including her mother, though they would never see her again, she came home safely, nice and clean. On one occasion, her mother took her to her friend’s home, a catholic. When she saw a statue of the holly Marry at the house, she jumped out and said, “Look Mom, that was the person who saved me from the dark valley.” They built a St. Marry cave on same location the girl was missing. Nice story.
In one Sunday morning, I have chance to went to the church, holly marry church. And when I tough that no Chinese in the town, I met a lot of my kind here, in the church. But all spoken Javanese. The Javanese here is main language. Unlike Surabaya, not many people can speak Indonesian. I have to learn one or two words here, like unju’an = drink; sundu’an = satay.

First visit, July 2007, I have a chance to go to Sarangan. A lake on top of the Mountain. Cool view, but not a cozy place for holiday. The water in the lake is dirty with oil dropped from poor maintenance boat. And very crowded, with village people, people selling traditional souvenir, and cars parked there. However, at least, I’ve been there. And eaten Sate Kelinci (rabbit satay) and Jagung Bakar (roasted corn). I even bought two Kuda Lumping (horse decoration made from coconut leaf), each complete with the whips.

And they really proud of the Satay (Sate Ponorogo). Both time, they pack 50 pin of satay for me to bring home. And something about the satay, the chicken is big, bigger than ordinary satay, and the taste is sweet, one said, they used gula merah to cooked it first. The sweet taste must influenced from Middle Java, because although Ponorogo is located in East Java, it is the nearest city to Mid Java. There's a narrow street called Jalan Sate which full with restaurant selling sate Ponorogo, but only one is famous amongs all Tukri Sobikun.

About the city, it has a lot of crossroads, and each crossroad has a statue. If you new here, or long time not coming, you will be dazed. You will find hard to differentiate one crossroad to another. I did.

Anyer (Banten) and Tanjung Priok
At Anyer, we have tank terminal and transport division for one of the private company serving petroleum in the gas station. Of course it’s located on the off shore of Anyer, not far from Carita. We know a location with good view and often go there to take pictures.

There’s a restaurant serving seafood called “Flamboyan”, with special menu fish head cooked with traditional spice. The fried fish as well delicious, cause the fish is fresh. The restaurant also serving lalapan (uncooked vegetables), tempe and asinan (salty fruits) which bring up the appetite, and we can take them as much as we want for free.

At Tanjung Priok we have tank terminal at the port and warehouses at Jalan Marunda. On the way to Marunda, there’s a delicious Padang restaurant, Caniago, with special crispy shrimp. On the port, we always ate at Saio Sakato, also a Padang restaurant.

I go there three times. Once last year and twice this year. We have tank terminal at Panjang port and a starch manufacturer (just like one in Ponorogo) at Lampung Timur. First time here, I’d stayed at Sheraton Lampung, this is really a fine hotel, I must say. I enjoy there very much, the pool view was great. Although no fine restaurant near the hotel, it doesn’t matter, because having pindang ikan for dinner at the pool side is really something. Stay 2 nights at Sheraton Bandar Lampung, I moved to other city in Lampung called Metro, second big city after Bandar Lampung. In Metro, I stayed at the office that use also for residence. At that time, the fabric located at Way Sekampung was still under construction. Way Sekampung is about 50 Km from Metro. I go there to visit the under construction plant and also the cassava farmers that being our partner to support cassava when the plant is ready to operate. They are true villagers that very nice and welcome us. Most of them originally from Java, when Soeharto’s era of transmigration. There are 2 kinds of Javanese in Lampung, from transmigration (Soeharto’s era) and from colonial (Dutch era).

The second time here is to audit the Way Sekampung project. The three of us coming here, me, Darwin and Roy with a driver (we coming by car, through Merak – Bakaheuni). This is one hell of experience. We can eat durian with very cheap price, due to Durian season. Fresh fish in pindang ikan and lalapan. Also pete, just freshly picked from the farm, and can buy it directly from the farmer with unbelievable cheap price, only Rp 20,000 for more than 100 shaft. The good thing about it, since we came by car, we can bring them home with us, durian, pete, and of course, the famous Lampung original coffee. Also, Lampung snack from Yen Yen shop. There’s one person here, that we admire a lot for the way he ate. Samsul. You will admire him also if you saw him eat. He has a small body, maybe only 155 cm height. Can eat twice even three times as much as normal adult. We always wonder where the food goes.

The third time is operational audit. This time we (me and Darwin) came by plane. Not much experience this time. Not durian season and not pete season also. The second and third visit, we stayed at Metro Pacific hotel, with one cute receptionist girl (Dessy) who driving Darwin crazy.

From all places I’ve been during my assignments, this one is the one I want to share the most. Who don’t know Manado, one of the place that attract so many tourist, especially because of the amazing coral reef under the clear water sea in Bunaken. And the excitement was doubled, because my Natz also come with me, and all on the Company’s account !

Me and Natz were assigned to Manado at the same time. Very lucky! Not quite. Actually, I assigned my self to Manado at the same time Natz going there for a seminar. How do I do that? This is QA, everybody act a boss for themselves. Natz going first, after a view days, I come. We both set the date that make possible for us to extend on holiday.

My company owned the one and only golf course and driving range in Manado. A piece of cake, an easy audit. I complete the job and the report in three days. That’s left us another 3 days to enjoy Manado. Actually, not only for ourselves, I also doing the work, verifying the land owned by my boss, to make sure that the land is properly taken care. We were accompany by Mannopo’s family, Pak Jimmy Mannopo and wife, and sons, Haryanto (bobo) and Adi. Also accompany by Pak Iwan and Pak Yapi.

First adventure is Minahasa High Land. We visit Bukit Kasih. The hill that symbolized the harmonious of the five religion in Indonesia, Islam, Christian, Catholic, Buddhism, and Hindu. Before headed there, Pak Jimmy take us to see the new residences complex built by Ciputra (Citraland). Will be huge, I think, similar to Citraland in Surabaya.

Kasih means LOVE. Below the hill before we start climbing up, there are monument with 5 angle, each symbolized one religion. At the top of the hill there’s a momentous statue of cross, symbol of Jesus for Christian. But, unfortunately, due to rain, we not climb up to the top. In the middle of the hill, there are five prayer houses for each religion. Down to the other side of the hill, there are natural hot water. In some spot, the hot water is boiling, you can even cook eggs or cassava in the water.

Down from Bukit Kasih, there’s a lake named Tondano. We stopped to relax and take picture. And in the other side of the lake, there’s a restaurant with lake view. Great view, especially at evening. When we ate there, there’s a video making of Manado local singer, singing “Kisah kasih di sekolah” in Minahasa language. I learned that ‘bifi’ is and ant. "Malu aku malu, pada bifi merah" he he

Second day, Bunaken ! But I don’t dare to do the diving, because I’m can’t swim and I’m too afraid of drowning. Fortunately, for people like me, there’s bottom glass boat, and better than bottom glass boat, is Blue Banter, a side glass boat. There’s room under the boat, down the sea, and we can see through the side glass, not bottom glass. Quite expensive, but all paid off ! The coral reef was amazing. Not to mention the fish with many kind, color, and size. We also lucky to see a Napoleon fish that day. Napoleon fish usually so shy and very seldom to show up.

Enough seeing those stuff, Pak Jimmy and wife come and take us (and Adi) to Siladen island. We’re not stopping at Bunaken island, because Natz, that already been there, told me that Bunaken island has nothing to see. But Siladen is really something. Very nice view, white sand beach with very clear sea water, and the land looks still not much touched by human. However, the heat was killing. There are three island near to each other, Bunaken, Siladen and Manado Tua (is an inactive mountain). We have a good time, but already very tired when Pak Jimmy invite us to eat Paniki at his house. I have to say no, because that night, beside very tired, I have stomach ache. Actually, I wanted so much to taste Paniki (bat cooked with dozens of chili), Manado traditional food. But, I’m afraid that it will make my stomach more ache due to very spicy.

Day three, we visiting ex factory that used to produced smocked fish and export to Japan. The factory now closed and abandon. But the position of the land is good for a restaurant (facing the beach). From there, we headed to Hotel Sedona, the five star hotel in Manado. Natz were staying here for the seminar, before she moved to stay with me at Hotel Grand Central (three star hotel). Then we went to Wisata Bahari to have lunch. After that, we went to UD Kawanua to buy a view gift for people back home. Klapertart pie, peanuts, and other snacks.

Here, the religion life can be considered very harmonious. A lots and lots of Churches here. Nearly every corner, there is a Church. Majority of Manado people is Christian. Pak Jimmy even has raise a fund to build a church near the golf course. Beside religious, Manado people is famous of like party, like to eat and having fun of life. A lot of fine restaurant here and the place were designed to be a cozy place to hang out. I notice that almost every restaurant have music entertainment. This is because Manado people like to sing and good in singing. Pak Jimmy himself is one of the good singer. He never missed to sing every time we went dinner at the reataurant.

Manado’s food is mostly about sea foods. Some of the fine restaurant I have tasted:
1. ??
2. Sukur Jaya (famous with Napoleon fish head).
3. Restaurant Nelayan
4. Wisata Bahari
5. Soto rusuk babi (pork rib) at Manado Town Square

The other thing that I have a bit regret beside not eating Paniki, is not trying to play some golf, or just a swing or two in the driving range. I won’t missed that in my next visit. But in overall, Manado TOP.

Bandung is a fun assignment. It’s all about food and factory outlet and of course, the famous brownies kukus. Going by train I can see the hill and river view along the way approaching Bandung. It took approximately 2 hours from Jakarta.

We tasted some good food at Sari Sunda, Batagor Kingsley, Laksana (at Cibabat, Cimahi), Madame Sari (Kartika Sari’s restaurant), and enjoy great view and cool weather at the Valley restaurant. The street musician playing accoustical jam is what I like from Batagor Kingsley at night.

We stayed at Grand Pasundan. On the last day, we don’t want to missed the factory outlet + buy some snack from Kartika Sari and Amanda.

Our company own a tank terminal at Belawan Port. I came with Roy and Reza Rajasa. This was the first time for all of us to Medan. First night, we stayed at Novotel Medan, then moved to Grand Angkasa (the only 5 star hotel in Medan).

Medan has a great food, unfortunately we here during Ramadhan. Due to Moslem people is fasting, not many restaurant open as usual. For example, Uda Sayang, a famous Padang restaurant is closed for the whole month. But, whichever restaurant is, the seafood is great. We also have chance to taste the Batak grill, the famous lapo (pork cooked with pig blood). We also order pulos pulos, papaya flower cooked with spices. Taste real good, TOP, yummy. Also the famous porridge buffet at Grand Angkasa Hotel, which only served at night, from 9 PM to 00 AM. Not bad, but not as delicious as we expected, just a little bit disappointed.

Durian Medan also one of the famous. Is Eddy (head of branch) who treat us here. After eating durian, he took us to Merdeka Walk. Nothing special there, the food not so good also, that’s what Eddy told us. So, we didn’t eat here, just take a look.

Special gift from Medan: Bika Ambon and Bolu Meranti. Only one store selling Bolu Meranti, but Bika Ambon, there’s plenty of store. Eddy took us to a street which full with Bika Ambon seller along the way. The famous one is ATI and Rika. In my opinion, Rika taste better.

Medan has been my next honeymoons destination. March 2008 ticket already in hand. People told me that Danau Toba is great. We can’t wait.

Guigang, Guangxi, China
I want to write this story separately. It has it own excitement :)

I enjoy my job very much. Among my friends who has the same level in KPMG, I could be the one who get the tiniest paid. But my life now is balance between work and enjoying life, which I never experienced before. I enjoy my life, I’m living it now, not later when I have ‘enough’ money, which probably would never will. I mean, how much is ‘enough’ when we talking about money. I work for my family, not for the money. For me, investment not just money or property, or any other assets. A happy and balance life for family also an important investment.

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