Greetings from Siberia, everyone!
I am Deny Setiyadi, a 23 year-old guy who writes, teaches, and travels. I was born and raised in Jakarta and to this date I have lived in 4 different countries in Europe and Asia for at least 13 months.
In July 2013, my friend died of drug overdose when he was only 19 years of age. I was in complete shock when I found out about it. For me he wasn't just a friend; we were like brothers. One of the last things he said to me was his biggest dream to travel the world and teach. Whilst dealing with grief and loss, I found an interesting article online. It said, "When everything is destroyed, when life collapses in on itself, recognise that the only thing you can really do is rebuild. This is your chance to appreciate the beauty in destruction." That was the moment when the idea of making his dream come true came up. So I quit university. Well, I strongly believe that tertiary education is essential in making a good career prospect. Plus I’m an extremely curious person. So quitting was not easy. The lack of any visible direction in my life had left me feeling vacuous and depressed.
I started volunteering at a local orphanage for a few weeks, until I decided to travel and teach abroad. My first destination was Cambodia and it was one of the best experiences of my life! I ate deep-fried, tarantulas, and other critters; climbed a thorny, 5-meter tall gate; slept with rats and daddy long legs; lived in a two story bamboo house in Kampong Cham; taught English to monks; got kidnapped for 3 days; met Mormon missionaries; took care of an old woman; featured in the Global Teacher Prize video; and shared a room with a hikikomori.
But what is clearly most important was the opportunity to learn to understand different cultures and traditions. There is nothing like living amongst people of other cultures to make you understand why people do what they do. The world is so small to travel, yet too big to understand.
I also met people with different life problems, facing different kinds of issues. Yes, those obstacles can sometimes lead to hopelessness, but they have enabled me to work harder and think wiser. Diving out of my comfort zone made me realise that despite all the flaws and hardships, everyone still plays a piece in their own melodies. These are the things I probably won’t get and learn from studying at the university.
Oh, I wrote a book about it, too! It's called Negeri Keajaiban or Kingdom of Wonder in Indonesian language. The semi-autobiographical book tells a story of the lives of some of the amazing people I met in Cambodia combined with my own personal experience of living there for 13 months. Unfortunately, it is currently only available in Indonesian but if you are a interested in translating it into English or any other languages, I'll be more than happy!
From Cambodia, I went to Batam, an Indonesian island situated around 30 minutes away from Singapore by boat, where I taught in a formal school for 15 months and visited Galang Island, once used as a Vietnamese refugee camp during Vietnam War. And here I am now in Siberia! I have been here for about 3 months now. I live in a tiny flat in Krasnoyarsk, the third largest city in the Siberian region of Russia. My plan after Siberia is not yet final, but it would most likely be my final destination as I intend to go back to uni in autumn 2018.
Why I am on Patreon
I have been financially independent since I was 18 years old. That being said, I fund my travel expenses myself with the help of some generous sponsors. The money I earn from teaching and freelance job is barely enough for my personal living expenses, let alone to run a blog. My first initial goal is $700. Here are the list of things I'd spend the money for:
- Hosting and domain - which costs $15 a month.
- Website development - I'm not an expert on this so I need someone who can handle it.
- Social media boosts - which costs some money.
- Bus and train fares - I cannot walk outside when it's -40° C.
- Basic photography equipment - like inexpensive lighting kits and a tripod.
- One crew - My local mate who can take care of things a foreigner cannot do.
If there's some money left over, it will go directly to one of the non-governmental organisations I have worked with in the past because my pure motive is to make my friend's (and others') dream come true. I intend to write a new blog post on Mondays. If the first goal is achieved, I will create a short, cinematic documentary video called 'Siberia', taken entirely with my Microsoft Lumia phone.
I'm looking forward to having you on board with me! x