Stories from Bali

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Pardon me because this post has been delayed for so long. I even started writing this exactly 2 weeks after students’ departure from Bali. Pardon me for playing Virtual Table Tennis too much when I was still in Bali after IBO and also Let’s Get Rich after coming back to Jakarta so I am so lazy to write here (even my post about my birthday was too forced to be written and it was so bad huh hahaha). But I want to let you know, I am still in hangover after all IBO hype. Especially looking at my Facebook news feed where IBO-related posts are still everywhere. Not a surprise, though, this IBO has been one of the best moment in my life.


So it all started when Gerry (Rhogerry Deshycka, IBO 2013 gold medalist) told me about this event, and suddenly my interest to join this came up. Actually I had visited IBO 2014’s website, but I did not know that there was volunteer registration on the website because I only visited the main page and did not see anything about volunteer registration. Bad news, the registration had closed when Gerry told me. So I had no idea, but I still had the desire. Then Gerry asked me to kontak kak Agi (Anugerah Erlaut, IBO 2009 gold medalist), hopefully I can get an extra slot. I did not know what to expect, but I tried.

A few hours. A few days, still no reply from him.

One week later, kak Agi replied my Facebook chat, when my hopes have evaporated. He told me that the registration have closed, which is my expectation. So I said to him, “It is okay. I will still visit Bali that time and hopefully I am allowed to go to the venue”. Surprisingly, after that kak Agi asked about my background, like my high school and my major in NTU (he also graduated from NTU), and the conversation ended up with “are you an olympiad alumnus?”. I answered yes, because I indeed join IOAA last year. Then he said, “Do you still want to be a volunteer? The skype interview is scheduled to be today, and you may get a slot if you want”. It was really like a sun shines in the midnight. That time I have not filled the registration form and even the YouTube introduction video, but who cares! At least I still have chance. I filled the form and I recorded a video using my laptop’s web cam. I really do not like recording myself, so I did not feel comfortable when speaking. My voice was like a pansy (that is why I will not show the video here), but the most important thing is I have completed the procedure, then let the interview decides everything.

1 month later, I got an email… Thank God I was chosen as a volunteer. I thought it was because I joined IOAA, but later in Bali I was told that an IESO participant failed in the selection. However, he was chosen as an OSTW participant (which I failed to get a place) so it is fair. Then, the next part is buying a return ticket from Jakarta to Denpasar. I ended up booking Garuda Indonesia’s ticket because I really wanted to try their widebodies. Thankfully the airfare can be refunded by the Ministry of Education. (more details on the flight will be posted soon)



I went to Aston Hotel Denpasar on July 2nd with mixed feelings. As an introvert, (in truth) I felt a little bit anxious because I had known only few people, although it cannot eliminate my excitement. Fortunately, all volunteers were very friendly so I had no difficulties on getting to know each other. The first two days – filled with volunteer training – were fun, and the expectation was going up very high so I was sure the next 8 days will be so awesome.



This first day was (most) students’ arrival in Ngurah Rai International Airport. And students’ respective guide had to come to the airport on their arrival, except for those whose country had been arrived before, they only needed to go to Ayodya and take the student to Aston. At first I thought this day would not be so hectic, although Kak Ros (the chief guide) have told everyone that students’ arrival would be so hectic. I was so wrong then.

First time I looked at the arrival schedule, first thing I did was giggling. It was because I remember Stephen Sanjaya (IMO 2013 Gold Medalist) told me that last year when he went to Colombia via Singapore and Paris, he and his teammates went to Singapore using Garuda Indonesia. However, their team leaders were not with them. Guess why, they did not want to fly with Garuda, they flew with Singapore Airlines instead. This was the same with some countries in IBO 2014. For instance, Uzbekistan team arrived in Bali via Kuala Lumpur. The students flew with AirAsia while their juries flew with Malaysia Airlines. But yeah… students have no power there :p.

By the way, I was assigned to guide Kazakhstan team. I was slightly disappointed because I said I want to guide an European team during interview, but hey IBO was not just about that. At least I did not get Nigeria :p. Kazakhstan team was scheduled to arrive at 15.05 using flight MH851 from Kuala Lumpur. Therefore, I had to leave the hotel to Ngurah Rai Airport at 13.00 to avoid being late if there was any traffic jam. Before that, it turned out that I was not that free. I had to help the registration booth on preparing the booth before the first delegates arrived at the hotel (they had arrived when we were having training). I also had to memorize the procedure of their registration, like which form should they sign and submit and also how they surrender their gadgets.

After my job was done in the hotel, I went straightly to the airport. I was together with Singapore, Bulgaria, Canada, Taiwan, India, Germany, Estonia, and Belgium guides as they team arrived almost in the same time (if not same). In the airport, I could not go anywhere like I usually did because I had to wait until my students and their juries appear at the arrival hall. So I waited from 14.30 until 15.15 until their flight status showed that they have landed. Sometimes I checked using Flightradar24 which is really useful for avgeek like me. After that, I waited in uncertainty because I did not know when will they finish their arrival process. I have been told that it usually took 1 hour from immigration clearance to baggage collection, but we never know the exact time. Some delegates finished in 45 minutes, some needed more.

Bulgarian team arrival

Long story short, finally I found the Kazakhstan team. It was a little bit awkward because they did not wear any uniform so I could not identify them, but (luckily) one of their jury saw me holding Kazakhstan board. That time I also did not expect them to appear so quick because Taiwan and Canada team which arrived 5 minutes earlier (using China Airlines) were still not there. First impression of them was “ouch, they are not really active”. They rarely spoke to me in the airport, maybe I was still quite strange to them. They were also not that confident with their English. They preferred to ask me via their jury who had better English skill. Yep, that was understandable. After everything was done, we went to Ayodya Resort to drop the juries first, then went to the hotel. It took so long… Maybe 2,5 hours. Upon arrival in the hotel, I still had to lead the students on completing their registration. It was really tiring, but I hoped my experience with those kids would be fun.

Official Pictures: Here



This second day was not as busy as the first day (thankfully), but this time I still had to wake up early, just to… wait for queue to wear Balinese costume. Yep, every country guide wore Balinese costume at the opening ceremony. I was a little bit surprised because the costume was quite different than what I usually wore in my cousin’s home, but it was okay. Not everyday I can wear this :p

Me with Kazakhstan students

The opening ceremony was pretty good. It was held in Bali Nusa Dua Convention Centre, so the place was awesome. The food after ceremony was also very good. The negative thing about this ceremony was that Mr Nuh, our Minister of Education was late. It was okay actually because we could still run the event as scheduled, but in the middle we had to stop the ceremony for 15 minutes just to wait for him to come. I think it was not acceptable for students as it would be so boring, and some guides told me they heard that some students said the same thing that I thought. I even heard Singapore delegates studied while waiting for Mr. Nuh. And then there were too much words from him… I think he should have not talked about our curriculum and some points which were not relevant for international people. However, I still appreciated his effort to come to Bali.

The stage

Official Pictures: Here



Before exam, let’s have some fun! In the morning, to break the ice (although no ice was present that time) we had games. The main purpose was of course to make participants know each other, especially people on the same bus group. Kazakhstan was on the bus group 5 together with Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, and Mexico. There were 2 games, the first one was “longest” which asked every bus group to create a line as long as possible using every thing they had. This was the preliminary round. The winner could skip the semifinal round and directly went to final round. In this game, group 5 failed. No problem, we had another chance. That time the winner was group 4 (Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Italy).

Students playing the longest game

The second game was a marathon, consisted of 4 games: inserting pencil into a bottle, moving ping pong ball with bamboo, hamster roll, and moving beans with chopsticks. Group 5 played at the second match. While the first match was ongoing (between group 1, 2, 3), all group 5 guides gathered our students and let them divide their part on the games. Who knows, it was a good thing since they were so excited and discussed their strategy so quickly. When their names were called, they were already ready but their competitors where still deciding who to play. As you know the last (and deciding) part was to move bean with chopstick, and we had… Japanese boys. They did really well and they won comfortably against group 6 and 7 who did not have any chopstick-familiar Asians.

Inserting pencils
Bamboo game
Hamster game

No surprise, all 3 groups (excluding group 4) who advanced to final had chopstick-familiar Asians: Group 2 had China, Group 5 had Japan, Group 10 had Taiwan. That would have been a difficult match. On the first game, group 5 lagged behind everyone. Thankfully, we had awesome bamboo players! They had been practising a lot and they changed the condition by being the first to cross the line! After the end, we could guard the lead and win the tournament! It was really fun.

Bus group 5!

When the game was finished, we had lunch and after that it continued with “introduction to lab equipment”. In fact, it was not only about lab equipment as there was also introduction to software that will never be used at theoretical round. When the game has just finished, I was told that I was assigned to explain. Damn, it was only 1 hour to go and I had never seen the software before. Therefore I had to eat so quickly and rush to ballroom to have a short trial of the software. Thankfully it ran well, although in the end…. (later I will explain)

Official Pictures: Here



This was supposed to be the nightmare for students because it was the first exam, and I know it really well that the first exam is the first checkpoint that we need to do it as good as possible to give us a confidence boost. But later… it also became my nightmare. In the night before, all volunteers had quite long briefing until midnight about the practical test. It was really tiring, and I was assigned as team leader for red lab coat students. Therefore I had to do simulation with other team leaders so that during room transition we will not meet each other, and it was held… at 5 am. I had only 5 hours of sleep, which was my nightmare.

The exam was scheduled to start at 9 o’clock and at 8.30 students had to be ready. Everything looked like it would be as planned, until at 8.50 when students was scheduled to go to their respective exam room, I was told that the test had to be delayed for 30 minutes. Dang, every students will look at me when they know this. And it was true, together with their face being more nervous. Guess what happened next, the test had to be delayed for another 30 minutes. I was like “Please, can I be anonymous when telling this news?”. I felt guilty because they will have had extra pressure.

In the end, the first test was delayed for 55 minutes. At least, I can do my job well. While they were doing the test, I waited in transit room. When they finished, I came to the exam room and then lead them to the next transit room. When the break finished, I lined them up and lead them to the next exam room. And so on until all exam have finished. We had 4 exams @90 minutes each and 3 breaks @ 60 minutes (actually) each. It was really exhausting. However, some guides who were free did some surprise before last exam. They made something like guard of honor in front of exam rooms so that when students were about to enter the room they would have passed it. It was nice as in the end a student appreciated it and said that it gave her spirit to go to the last exam. Finally the last practical exam ended at 20.15. Some students look relieved although there was still a last exam for them.

Official Pictures: Here



Before students faced theoretical exam, they had to be relax. So it was time to go to Bali Safari and Marine Park! This was also my first time going there (I know, the entrance ticket price was expensive).

Bus 5!!!
Bus 5!!!

First thing we did in Bali Safari was having Safari Tour. We went into a Bali Safari car, and then the car brought us to see wild animals from Indonesia, Africa, India, and others. I did not like Biology, but I found it interesting to see animals (of course without having to memorize its Latin name). Some animals had never been seen before by me, and it was really great. When we were done, we went to Hanoman Theatre to watch animal show. It was another fun show as the animals looked cute and it was interesting to see them trained well.

Animal show

The next show after animal show was elephant show. This was exclusively elephant and no other animal. So we went to “Kampung Gajah” (Elephant Village) and watched a drama about elephant’s endangered habitat. Another good show, and in the end some audiences got chance to be worn bouquet by the elephants; and after that all IBO participants may come closer with the elephants and took picture of them.

A student got a kiss on the cheek

The last thing to do there was to watch Bali Agung musical, but it was scheduled at 14.30 while elephant show finished at 11.30. Therefore we had lunch first and then some students bought souvenirs like cute dolls from Bali Safari. When the time came, we went to Bali Agung Theatre. It was very big and cold. That “cold” thing – combined with soft music in the beginning of the show – made everyone felt sleepy, so I felt asleep and woke up when the drama was about to end. Most people who I asked also felt asleep, by the way. But based on the part that I watched, I could say that this show was very well prepared and played. It was really unlucky for me to be unable to watch just because of the soft music… Before we left Bali Safari, we took picture together in Bali Safari!

IBO 2014: Awesome!!

Official Pictures: Here



I woke up with good feeling that this day will be quite good until I checked my phone. There was a message on volunteer group that the theoretical test had to be postponed for 5 hours (again???? NO!!!). The actual schedule was from 09.00 to 12.00 (first part) and 13.30-16.30 (second part), but it was shift to 14.00-17.00 for first part and 18.00-21.00 for second part. When I knew this information, I imagined students’ reaction. Oh God, another negative point for this IBO. Actually when they woke up, they would see the announcement because the committee had placed the news in their room under the door. However I did not know what they will think about at first. Luckily the main committee was able to gather everyone and give explanation at 11.30. Some looked nervous but some looked more relaxed. Maybe they could not wait to get back their gadgets.

Later I found out that the main problem was… according to some sources, the software could not display some characters like Russian. I did not expect this to happen when I was explaining the software 3 days back. That time, only English was available for trial although the option to change language was there. I thought when the language is available, the software will be okay… I have never been so wrong. However, I thought it should not have been a huge problem to make the delay became 5 hours. Later the test finally had to be manual with paper, while students read the questions from the laptop. So I thought another problem with the server was present.

Long story short, finally the theoretical round has finished. We – the guides – did another unique thing like guard of honour in the practical exam. When they came out from their exam room, on their way to the lift they will see us holding paper with “free hugs” on it. Yes, we were holding free hugs campaign, to release all stress after completing every exam. It was a little bit awkward at first, but it came out really warming for everyone. After that we went to ballroom to return students’ gadgets, and when everything was done some of us had a party!!

Official Pictures: Here



Just like what my IOAA 2013 friend said:

Yes, we were free! And everybody was so excited when we woke up, and the long trip from Aston Hotel Denpasar to Ayodya Resort Nusa Dua became short as we had fun in the bus. When we arrived on the beach, the fun really magnified! Some were swimming, some were playing either volleyball or football, and some were just enjoying the view and take pictures with everyone. It was really fun and memorable. Bali’s beach are just so breathtaking that everyone became so stunned, especially those who came from landlocked country like Moldova and Kazakhstan. 3 hours were not enough, really.

After we had lunch, we directly went to the other side of Bali bird’s foot to go to Uluwatu. Some students had been asking about Balinese Pura, and this time they saw one of the most popular temple in Bali. However, they were not aware of monkeys! First time we arrived, a monkey stole a bag of banana from a student (although it was planned to be given to the monkeys). When others saw this, suddenly monkeys became the spotlight. While walking around Uluwatu, they took a lot of pictures of monkeys. However, Uluwatu was also magnificent and (once again) everyone was stunned with this beautiful cliff. After 2 hours of free time walking around Uluwatu, we watched Kecak Dance. It was another great show, and some parts became trademark for the students, especially that “cak cak cak” sound and Hanoman. A good finale for an awesome day, indeed.

Kecak Dance
Kecak Dance
With one of Kecak Dancer

Official Pictures: Here



So actually, students still had one day full of nervous… Yep, the closing ceremony! It was where students know the result of their hardwork. I remembered how nervous I was in Greece last year before I saw the leak of the result, so I understood when I saw a lot of anxious face in Aston.

The day did not start well for me. I wanted to buy souvenirs for my Kazakhstan students, and I had to take money from ATM across the road. Things went okay until on the edge of the road… Suddenly a motorcycle hit me when other vehicles had stopped to make way for me. This was so terrible for me.

Before we went to the closing ceremony, we had a short meeting in the ballroom, which was the voting of video competition. There were 5 countries who sent their video to be competed: Armenia, Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Latvia. We played their videos in front of everyone. They made videos with various topics about Biology, and most of them were quite amusing. We appreciated their effort to make these. We spent about 1 hour for it, and after that some students were exchanging souvenirs. One thing that I did not observe last year was that guides were not in the first priority to get souvenirs from students. So I was standing in the middle of everyone, hoping I would get souvenirs. I did get some, but not as much as other guides who actively asked for souvenirs. Oh well…

And then we finally arrived to the final part. Closing ceremony was held (like the opening) in Bali Nusa Dua Convention Center, and thankfully this time no thing like “late minister and we had to wait for him silently for 15 minutes” was present. We still had to hear a lot of words from some people, but it was okay. The most awaited part, the medal awarding ceremony finally came. Winners were called one-by-one, until the stage was full. This was the thing that I had expected in Vòlos, but due to limited size of the stage, only one winner was on the stage. And I did not like it that much. Okay back to topic. When the names were being called, all guides cheered. The cheer was bigger if the student was popular. It was really fun and we were very happy to see them with their medals.

With some guides (from left to right): Stella, Kezia, Atika, Astrid, Ci Tessa, Evan, Tio, Me
Winners receiving medals
Winners receiving medals
Some gold medalists
Me with Kazakhstan team
Me with Jesus Garcia from Mexico. He got bronze in the picture, but in the revised result he got gold!! Jesus did a miracle!!
Me with Japanese team

As a guide of Kazakhstan, I was very glad to see all my students got medal. I looked at Kazakhstan’s achievements from 2009-2013 and they just beat the best record by grabbing 2 silvers and 2 bronzes, and first time for them to see all of them get medals. When the ceremony has ended, one thing I did first was hugging all my students. They finally did it, although they were still not able to get gold. Then we celebrated together with all participants, I took pictures together with a lot of people and it continued with gala dinner.

After gala dinner, we went back to Aston. But it was not the end of the day. We went to Aston’s Ballroom and party until late midnight… However, I did not join until the end because I was afraid my wounds from morning’s incident may get worse if I danced.

Official Pictures: Here 



This was the most emotional part of all. I woke up with mixed feelings. Some delegates had left Bali after gala dinner, and this day most of delegates left Bali. But you never know what could happen. I got news that I had to take back my students’ certificates because there were some mistakes on the score calculation and the result had to be revised. WHAT? The medals even had to be taken back, although it was not that necessary. I went to my students’ room and woke them up. While they were still trying to focus, I told them politely to return the certificates. I did that with heavy heart, and after that I said sorry to them a lot of times.

Then I packed my stuffs and at 11 I checked out from my room. I could leave hotel at anytime because I could just go to my cousin’s house. My students were planned to leave hotel at 12. When they were about to check out, they asked me to ask committee to take back again their certificates because their minister of education needed that. I tried twice but I failed. I felt really sorry for them, but luckily on my third try I met directly with IBO Chairman and he allowed me to return it to them.

After that, I accompanied them to the airport. We went straightly to airport, not using bus via Ayodya because the bus was full. I waited in the airport after they met their juries. When they met the juries, they could enter departure hall. But before that, I gave them my last hug…. It was hard to let them go, but life must go on. They got in, then I went back to hotel to take my belongings, and finally ended my IBO journey…



I can safely say that this is one of the best moment in my life. I am very thankful that I got this chance. When I am finishing this post, it has been 18 days since students’ departure from Bali. However, some still feel IBO fever because IBO-related posts are still flooding our Facebook news feed, including the last newsletter which was posted 3 days ago. Compared to last year’s IOAA (which I took part in), I can say this IBO was better at bonding people although if we are talking about the enforcement, it was quite the same. At least by IBO Yearbook I can look at every student’s face then I will remember them, while I did not have this kind of thing in Volos.

For Kazakhstan delegates: Askarbek Orakov, Anton Khvan, Roman Kogay, Khafiz Zhumadil. Congratulations for your achievements! Keep it up, especially for Anton who can still join IBO 2015 in Denmark, you can make history for your country. Thank you for being nice students. Although you were quite shy and maybe not that confident with your English, I was happy that you socialized well and did not make any problem. I hope you enjoyed having me as your guide, and tell me if you want to come to Indonesia (or Singapore), I will be very happy to guide you once again. I also hope someday I can come to Astana or Almaty, the city looks developing nice. Good luck for your university admission Askarbek, Roman, and Khafiz, I will pray for you all so that you will get into your dream university.

For all students (especially from bus 5, the champions!), thank you so much for the wonderful time. Although I have not known all of you, but it was very nice to meet you in Bali. Thank you that you have taken part to make this IBO memorable for everyone. I hope you enjoyed Bali so much, and IBO has left positive opinion about Indonesia on your mind. Terima Kasih!

For the organizing committee, thank you for giving me chance to participate. Especially for Kak Agi, thank you for the last-minute chance! I was so shy when asking you for the first time, but now I did not regret that I tried. I am very happy to have worked for this committee. Lastly for all volunteers, thank you for the hard work. It was very nice working with you all, starting from the beginning when we had our own training until the end. We have done an awesome job. Thank you also for the memories and fun we shared, I am sure it will be unforgettable. Do not forget to register for IOAA 2015 volunteers, I am waiting for you to make another memories together! 🙂


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