Goodbye, Beautiful Lagoon, and A Hidden Part of Myself

We always assume the worst in people, but not in ourselves.

It’s a part of being human, or so my mom said. We nitpick what others do by form of habit, but tend to see past the ‘demon’ inside ourselves. For the former, an alarm easily goes off in my head, while the latter is tougher to detect, more like a metal with low electrical conductivity.

With that said, the living example of it weirded me out. And I got to reflect on the whole concept for two days in a short escape to Desa Laguna, Pulau Seribu.


I am never big on group activities with a bunch of strangersthat’s the ultimate reason why the first time the plan was announced, I wasn't delighted. It's clear to everyone who knows me best that I'm awfully awkward in a new big environment. My adaptability skill doesn't stretch thoroughly past the communication bar. Dammit. Still, I got a day off from work. I would (obviously) voluntarily trade my dislike of being the quiet one in a throng for a quiet day far from the office.

I started my day so early in the morning. Deciding to take the bus, it became somewhat of a solo mini-exploration of Jakarta at dawn. The road and the ride were both peaceful and quiet. I met a few good people who showed me directions when I looked lost.

I arrived at the 16th harbor in Ancol a little after six and boarded the boat a little more after seven. The boat ride confirmed what I had primarily suspected: I don't get seasick easily. During our one-hour ride to Desa Laguna, I was then told that the waves were wavy, but I slept soundlessly like a baby.

Desa Laguna, it turned out, was stunning. We were informed that based on the equipment to measure how clean the air was, this place scored the highest scale. Everything wooden here was made from driftwood. Huts and huge tents were equipped with solar panels to convert sunlight into electricity. And I wouldn't forget how clear the water was. I could easily spot the bottom of the ocean.

The trip officially started right after breakfast. We were ushered to a spot where a few local guides had prepared our first activity, coral farming. So, the cultivation could only be done by extracting a part of a coral colony and putting it somewhere in the water. We were also informed that the locals here used cement to stick the corals to a PVC plastic grid. It's important to be careful though. If the cement spilled to the top of the coral, the coral would not survive.

After that, our main guide pointed out that the fact that we went here by boat didn't mean we were not contributing to polluting the air. To redeem that, the least we could do was join the mangrove trees planting on the shore. We were also given a round wood slice to tie the tree with anything we chose to write. I wrote mine with a name, a date, and a smiley face.

It started to become a hot day for all of us on this small island after that. While the others joined the coral planting and snorkeling activity in the deeper part of the ocean, my friend and I decided to laze away the afternoon in the hut I crashed in for the night. I was so lucky that I got picked to sleep in the Bamboo Hut. No words but a little room tour might show you why:

Reality came to check in faster than we had hoped for though. The evening was getting nearer. We were then seated on the deck for a short session about being mindful, but it was hard to copy the bits of advice when my mind was extremely full.

I felt called out the entire time, even terribly when the instructor asked each of us to list three things we loved about ourselves. It's easy to point out the good and bad in others. Compliments are as easy as "She is so kind!" as they are free too, while rumors fly and gossips start with, "Do you know how unbelievable she is? She..."

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I was not better than the gossipers or their sole subject. All this time I had assumed the worst in some people, but how could I be so sure that the problem was not myself? Some friends claimed that I was kind, but I knew me better. I was not exactly selfless. My thoughts could be a mess of nitpicking the motives of others and fearing them. I was not a monster, but I certainly didn't feel like a kind person either.

I realize now that there is probably a 'demon' inside of us, whispering about how petty our new neighbor is, but leaving out the part where we feel jealous about their new fresh lawn. A 'demon' who reminds us about how our new neighbor walks past us without even a short hello, while it blocks the part where we don't appreciate the company they have generously offered.

So: three things I love about myself? I love that I'm passionate. I love that I'm quite sharp. And I love that I understand what battle to fight, and what kind of demon to kill. It feels relieving to be able to detect it through the thick layers of my idealistic mind.


Hours felt exactly like hours. Time did not fly away quickly this time. After the bonfire, I went to my room to rest. As expected, I drifted off easily, eyes open for only a few seconds at two to verify the sudden snuggly weather caused by the rain. It was nice.

Waking up to a beautiful morning in Desa Laguna was nicer though. After about seven years of not doing yoga, I joined the bandwagon at the main deck by the beach. Yoga with a view was exactly what I needed to achieve a little peace of mind. I felt much better on the second day.

Moving meditation proved to work too: repeating affirmative words while cleaning the beach and making motives out of leaves on the back of our tote bag by hammering them. Writing down positive words and putting them in a calming-down jar was a great idea too.

After the second day, I kind of hoped to come back there again someday with someone I could actually enjoy the whole trip with. I hope to rekindle the magical feeling of waking up by the water, actually try snorkeling and diving, and once again sit by the deck to enjoy the sunset. Minus the faces whose names I couldn't recall though, the awkward confusion of where to sit, and the feeling of not fitting in. Goodbye for now, beautiful lagoon. 'Til we meet again.