Selamat Datang di Indonesia: Final Destination – Topcoder Nation Ep. 08

John Lennon would call me a dreamer but I helplessly see Topcoder as a borderless nation, a place that allows people to create meaningful connections, a place that unifies lives

– mahestro (from first Topcoder Nation episode)

How selfish and egocentric would this writer have to be to quote himself at the beginning of an article? I personally consider this even worse (ego-wise) than publishing a picture on a social network, then clicking the like button with so much pride. I’m afraid this leads to another mahestory (a term coined by DaraK in 2016 for my unbearable stories).

Getting her knife ready as usual

We have to go back to ten years ago in order to understand this; after that, you can judge. As I mentioned in that first episode of this series, during TCO09 I had a special connection with my friends from a very special country I was invited to visit. A country I always had in mind to go to, but I successfully managed to find the most stupid excuses not to do so, such as not having enough money, no time, no right moment. I humbly have so much to say about why we do not take the plunge into our wildest dreams and adventures, how and when in history we humans became the masters of relegating our travels to the future; however, this is not the time, place or moment – how ironic.

So far I can’t effectively describe all the factors that made me click with the members from Indonesia. I thank our third-world country similarities, humble backgrounds, or maybe difficulty in speaking our common language (English). Whatever it was, something that’s absolutely true is that Topcoder is in the middle somehow. We all share a passion for design, problem solving, and technology, making Topcoder the glue that keeps us together. I owe my desire to visit south Asia to Topcoder and my fellow Indonesian friends. Today, as I write this article from Bogotá Colombia, I must let my fearless readers know that the three idiots have ended our trip. Indonesia couldn’t have been a better scenario to spend our last days together, so today I have a few things to say about this spectacular place on earth.

Making friends in TCO09

LAND OF INSPIRATION
I must mention that saying we visited Indonesia is a very bold statement when we were only in Bali and Jakarta. I know there was so much more to visit. However, I have the impression from knowing my fellow TCO community members who come from several regions of Indonesia, that they all share the humble and hospitable characteristics that we received anywhere we went. As a matter of fact, we found Yoki’s doppelgänger in Jakarta, as humble as him. He marveled us with his noble gesture of welcoming us in the city.

HeyYoki? 👋🏻

Besides this humble spirit among the people we met in Indonesia, it is easily one of the most inspiring places I have ever visited. Anywhere your eye dares to stare you will undoubtedly find a piece of stimulus for creativity; so many colors and artistic shapes. By anywhere I mean even the grocery shop! It’s just something unique. No wonder Indonesian designers come up with very creative artwork in competitions. I think it’s very accurate to scientifically state that if you throw a mango seed in Indonesian soil it will grow a splendid UX designer.

As one of the oldest members in the design community and a guardian of the memories of the Topcoder accomplishments, I am obligated to share an ace up my sleeve – to showcase how artistic competitions were held back in the day, and guess who won most of them… Indonesians. The following images are taken from my secret time machine belonging to a competition series called Topcoder Wall. The goal was to design creative posters that represented each member’s local culture, to be printed and hung in the Topcoder headquarters. Enjoy.

KINGS OF DESIGN

Recently, in my previous article about the Pinoy boys, I highlighted some facts about the strength of their community in the design track, but without taking an eye off the Indonesian kings. As a set, they represent the utopia of a design community, being the country with the most significant dominance across all tracks in Topcoder.

For a start, out of twelve TCO Design Finals total, they together have taken seven trophies back home: abedavera (4 times), djackmania (TCO10), fairy_ley (TCO14), kharm (TCO16). It’s worth it to mention that fairy_ley is the first woman champion in the design track. The total amount of members is 20,243 from which 1,134 participated in design competitions; a fact that becomes interesting when they place fourth in all-time wins in all challenge types –  679 to be precise.

The very first design copilot ever in the community was lunarkid. He is the one who has copiloted the third most challenges in the platform. The top ten leaderboard of first placements of all time has six members from Indonesia, and abedavera has the second-most first place wins after iamtong. Because of these and many other solid achievements, I happen to see them as warriors dressed only by their humility, with talent as their shoes – determined winners.

BALI EQUALS PARADISE FOR REMOTE WORK

We spent a considerable amount of time in Bali in this trip.  Luckily, this is not *just* a travel blog. Many things have already been said about Bali, however, from a Topcoder’s perspective, I see nothing but a wide blank space surrounding us in the universe. What does a Topcoder do when traveling? Relax, have fun, learn something new? Yes, why not, but how about working? How about designing, coding, reviewing or copiloting? Imagine doing all that, waking up on the right foot in a lovely place with the sounds of birds and a view of green rice fields, all for the same price per day as one Double Whopper Combo in the US. For what’s left of my reputation’s sake, I have witnesses ready to testify this paradise does exist!

Couldn’t think of a better place to wake up every day.

I think the exquisite combination of economy, inspiration and relaxing environment Bali has to offer makes it one of the best places to spend time working remotely. I was about to extend my visa and abandon my crew to stay in Bali for more time when I had this epiphany! Good thing I came to my senses, but the temptation is exhilarating.

As someone who lived in Paris for nearly four years and visited many countries in Europe, it’s easy to feel attracted to this paradise, especially when I can experience that I’m relatively richer (wealth and health) in Bali than I ever was in any other place I’ve ever lived – and I’ve lived in more than six countries so far! By living I mean long-term stay – at least six months to be accurate. There’s one huge difference between traveling for tourism and traveling as an immigrant: integrating yourself in the local community. In this sense, Bali is quite flexible, locals are very welcoming and the system seems to be very foreign-friendly.

If you’re unlucky enough, you might even listen to live music from Topcoder members

DANCING IN THE DARK

You might notice a tone of nostalgia among my lines today. It’s kind of impossible for me not to feel so from this coffee place since they are playing Perfect by Ed Sheeran and I’m seeing pictures of the trip while creating this blog post. The Asia trip ended a few weeks back, my dear readers, leaving behind fantastic life experiences, beautiful memories and stronger relationships after traveling together for almost two months. From scary walks in Ubud’s monkey forest, taking a bath in waterfalls, riding scooters in the night, visiting temples and waking up to the sound of birds, Indonesia served as the last place we could create more magical memories.

I have the audacity to steal some of this interweb space to let my travel partners know something I should have probably shared with them in person. I know it might sound a lot like a love declaration but if you’re ever lucky enough to connect with people like Ravijune and PereViki, it will be very difficult for you to accept the fact that you have to let them go and continue their endeavors somewhere else without raving about how cool they are. So please allow me to honor their genuine friendship, goodwill and effing best spirit for traveling and working together. It takes a serious compromise and tolerance level to adjust to many different ways of working, routines and personal preferences, yet we managed to do everything smoothly. These people deserve a Nobel prize, especially after struggling with my princess maniac habits.

Alright, let’s get personal. I challenged myself to keep it short by choosing only ONE quality from my travel partners that I admire, and after one hour of thoughts I came up with the following.

@Viki: Thank you so much for teaching the meaning of being empathic. Witnessing the way you can connect with people in a meaningful way SO easily made me understand why you are so spectacular at understanding problems and at creating those wonderful design solutions. It has to do with your empathy. I never saw such a sensitive person as you, just admirable. Jojo is very lucky to have you as a mother. Can’t wait to see you again!

@Ravi: Anyone who has the opportunity to discover what the true meaning of being a friend is must definitely be someone who met you 🙋🏽‍♂. Your height doesn’t do any justice to the immeasurable size of your heart. If the world ever comes to an end and they ask me to select one person to keep the human race alive on another planet, that would undoubtedly be you. If we had more friends like you I’m sure life would be a road of laughter and joy. I couldn’t have been luckier to have you as a partner in this trip. Twist and shout my brother!

I miss you guys ¡Gracias!

With LOVE,
Luis


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