Wednesday, 28 October 2009


Last weekend, on the 19th, my very close girl-friend got enganged to her long-time-best bud in a very sweet ceremony which i wished i was able to attend. Sadly, not being there i could only offer my coongratulations through the technology of text messages n fb account. haha. Za's engagement was the 2nd engagement i missed this year, which hopefully i can make up for next year on the wedding day, k Za? Sha?

Am in my 3rd week of forensics and legal medicine. Presented a blunt trauma case of road accidents. Went dr. G came in and requested us to present after he had just maimed the group before us, i was quite speechless. But minor referential mistakes aside, he thought we gave an overall good presentation. Yeay! But Dr.G wouldn't be Dr.G if he wasn't critical of every word, every detail and every photo that we showcased.

"Who do you think you are?"

Remember that everything in forensics is evidence-based. Always remember that when giving a statement, an objective or eve subjective point of view.

Duly noted Doc. Hopefully tomorrow goes well.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Bite Marks

Today, in the forensics lab, we were acquainted with my supervisor, dr.Peter S. and he gave us a brief lecture on bite marks, the importance of superimposing the coorect size and shape in identifying perpetrators of law. It was interesting, especially when we started discussing the famous investigation of Ted Bundy.

In Forensics and Legal Medicine, we don't just do autopsies, although in CSI its pretty much rules the show; but we investigate. And study, and deduce our assumptions in a crime scene and point fingers at the assailant; all within reasonable evidence as proof.

Are you getting the picture?

I always thought it'd be easy to watch an autopsy, or even get my hand dirty in doing one. But in truth, touching, feeling and smelling a dead body, a fresh corpse, and cutting them open is a whole other level.

I hope InsyaAllah, i will never have to go through one as the body lying cold on the table.
Its something i would never wish on anyone.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Who turned out the lights?

I've been updating the blog as my own personal Travelogue. No idea if it helps you if ever you want to go where i went. But jus thought i'd slip this in. Am back in Makassar for a week now.

I am currently in Forensics department which sounds cool. But in reality; we're all just waiting for a dead body to turn up for us to investigate. Now isn't that a BAD wish?

I had fun coming back and seeing old friends, going out to check out the 'theme park' but really, i only felt i was back on this isolated island when they started the power cuts AGAIN.

9.00 am
"Oops, no power for the next 3 hours people!" when the screen and LCD shuts down at the forensics lab.

"I'm home!...wait..what the? Aaaaah"

"Okay, time to go to...AAAAAh. Who turned out the lights?? Dang you mosquitos!"

Welcome back to Makassar.

Oooom, hot hot heat

Luang Prabang, Laos

A vip bus ride the next day, that took about 7 hours over the hills brought us into the UNESCO World Heritage site of Luang Prabang. We left Vang Vien at about 9.30 am and arrived approximately in the central bus station of L.P at 4.30pm. A quick 10 minute tuk-tuk ride brought us right into the main street where guest-houses were aplenty to choose from.

(Tip: When descending the bus at the central station, you will be surrounded by various guesthouse "agents" offering you their best price if you follow them. Keep in mind that the guesthouses are literally next to each other; so if you do follow an "agent" and are not satisfied with the room; you can always walk into the next one. So what we did was get a brochure with a map of the area and just dive into the main street. You'll have plenty of choices so relax and just haggle away).

The guest-houses were all clean and simple. So we un-packed, cleaned ourselves up and started to head out for dinner. In any asian city/ town, tourist pot; there shall always be something similar or akin to a night market; and Luang Prabang is no exception. The Night Market in downtown Luang Prabang, which is open roughly from 5.30pm till 10pm is a treasure trove of scarves, hand-painted artworks, beutiful hand-crafted linens and accessories.

I went crazy running my hand on all the tradiotinal skirts and colourful scarves looking for one i'd spare my USD for. Bangles and bracelets as well as figurines of Buddhist worship were also among the many crafts on sale. Laos Kip, and US Dollars are mainly in use although some may accept Thai Baht if you have them to spare.
 But as we walked through the market, most stalls and both sell the same wares and our churning, growling tummies were in need of serious fuel before we could go on.
Luckily for us, Ro found a vegetarian buffet vendor right smack in the middle of the market. 5000 kip for a plate of food. There were spring rolls for 1000 kip a piece, but who would mind? All you can eat, and cheap too. We indulged, had more than one serving before we moved on to what some might say the national sport of Luang prabang.
(Note: As Luang Prabang is famous for its many temples and holy status, it is by law that all establishments of bussiness should be closed by 11.00pm; except for the bowling alley which gets to open till 2.00 am. Disco bowl maybe?)

The next day, began with breakfast at a nearby cafe, called Joma which serves a big portion of delectable goods for a good price. The setting and ambience were reminiscent of a cozy western cafe and the menu was filled with choices for all taste buds. We tried getting tickets to fly into Hanoi that morning itself, but the planning and searching, and haggling prices with tour agencies sucked us dry of energy before we agreed to cool ourselves from the scorching sun at the famed Kwang Si waterfalls; an hour's drive from the town of Luang Prabang.

Driving through rice paddy fields and villages to get there reminded me of driving through KB, my very own village; where everything was still and green. Kwang Si waterfalls was a good choice, the water was cooling, there was another swing in one of the swimming area and the place was cleaner than the last waterfall i came across (okay, Makassar has so much to catch up to!) Just sitting on one of the rocks with my feet in the water was good enough for me.
After much sun-bathing and water-paddling, we rallied and went back into town, to explore the temples and Luang Prabang's National Museum.

Despite of such good intentions, i did not get to see the temples and museum  untill the next day, which incidentally was when Ro parted ways with us to see the rest of Laos on his own.

The National Museum was; i guess in a way was interesting? It explained essentially the history (duh!) and legendary stories of the kingdom through out the ages. But i guess i was hoping for something more as the best thing in the museum to me were the paintings, and the stories it told.

To finish of our stay, with one extra day, we took a boat trip out to see the Pak Ou Caves (with upper and lower caves and a whole lot of stairs in between these two) and a nearby village called 'Lao-Lao village' or in other words; whisky village. Where home-made Lao whisky is made and processed before it is sent all over the city. Scorpions and cobras were the meaty choice to put in a laos whisky bottle. Too strong?

3 days in Luang Prabang was enough for me. I prefered its streets and general feel to Vang Vien; but alas we had places to go and Vietnam to see. I do miss the fruitshakes though.

Pink Dragonfruit just doesn't taste as good on its own.:)

Monday, 5 October 2009

Happy and fun for you!

Vang Vien, Laos

After the gruelling 6 hour drive, Vang Vien looked to bring promises of a better adventure; and yes it sure did. (For me anyways). We arrived somewhere between 5 -6pm and decided to hunt for a guesthouse to suit our needs (cheap and definitely worth it). Ro seemed to have the most fun haggling a price we thought we'd never get. But about 5 guest-houses later, we found one that accepted the offer. Having a vegetarian on the team was a good thing for my sister and I, as it made it easy to agree on a place to eat. We were both piscatarians on the trip

due to concerns of Halal and non-Halal meat;
being Muslims; and the other two guys were just great enough to go along with anything.
Little did we know in the first cafe we settled on, what Vang Vien had to offer was a lot more than just "normal food". We found an item on the menu that was scripted in bold and a tad larger font size than the rest of the other items; which was:

"Excuse me, what is SPACE Pizza?" we queried innocently
"Oh, yess, yes, you want? Special, happy, err...Marijuana?" the waiter bumbled
Glances were exchanged and we laughed.

Ah, and so it began.

Another part of the menu was titled" "FUN AND HAPPY FOR YOU"
and beneath it were food items with the word special in it:
1. Special
2. Special Omelette

3. Special fruit juice
I found it amusing.

The waiter was just so eager to please and make us all "Happy".
No, we didn't get any special items. Although an order of baguette for the table became a bit confusing for the owner when he came out with red bull, whisky and a bucket for us.


"no! No...Baguette, baguette, Bread?"
"oh!, mistake..sorry." He was a nice man, too bad he wasted the drinks on us teetotalers and had to offer the next table for a bucket of alcohol which was accidentally opened for us.

And after a hearty non-special laden meal, we explored the area of Vang vien and saw that the 'Bucket' was the major attraction or choice of beverage for all the cafe's lining the streets. And this place, to me was filled with tourists, tall, short, accents, slangs all enjoying the slower pace of life chilling in one of the cafe's watching reruns of Friends, or Family Guy. Street vendors were in almost every corner selling roti (which were pancakes) and souvenirs. Although i think the locals were thinking we were one of them just travelling with some tourists too.

pancakes. yummy nutella banana pancakes

Vang Vien

Swings and Tubing down the River

One of the major attraction of Vang Vien, was its tubing and caving expeditions. As you walk the streets of this small town, ads for caving tours and transportational services would greet you in between the cafe's. And Tubing, was one thing you would HAVE to do. Otherwise, all you do is lounge around in a cafe all day.

So we set out to the tubing post, where a life jacket and one tube would cost you $ 22 USD each, and of course, you'd want a dry bag to put all your gear in while you traverse the waters, and that costs $ 6 USD.
After registering your number, names and tubes; we were driven up the river on a tuk tuk with some like-minded travellers: an Irish, and 2 Dutch gals.

As you reach the starting point, a view of a small tiki bar greets you; and standing next to the river is a towering tree with some nifty mechanics for us tourists to swing and jump from. In my mind's eye, the height of the swing was maybe about 3 floors? i couldn't be sure but yes. I wanted to jump along with the others

Seeking approval from the older sibling wasn't so tough, she wanted to proove she was cool about it and hide her worry. i wasn't a very strong swimmer, No wait. I wasn't even a GOOD swimmer. but yes, i jumped.

Adrenaline rush was AWESOME. i felt i was falling. the height made an even better adrenaline rush then anyhting else. But the dismount into the water was a big splash of surprise for me.

I took in too much water, i was disoriented, and i was drifting, FAST.
I saw the shore, swam for it (or later they would say, did i even swim?), saw it getting close, swallowed more water then the shore was getting further. wait, what? And my head was back under the water. I heard yelling.

And Dan pulled me out of the river. Uh-oh.
Did i drown?
i wouldn't admit it. but yes, i was close to drowning.
And THAT, was the highlight of the day.

regardless, i caught my breath, thanked my life-saver ( it was quite awkward. i didn't know what to do with myself)
and rejoined the group in the water for tubing.

the swing

Bobbing tubes and life-jackets

One might say i was non-chalant about the jump as i treaded water again right after, but this time, i had a life-jacket on. J and Dan made sure i kept it on.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Flying into Laos

Having just been back from a one week trip from Laos and Vietnam, it feels a tad surreal for most of my trip was spent either on a bus, or a boat getting from one place to the other. Just as well that i will be travelling back to Indonesia in 2 days, i'd rather write and share my experience on this Blog while all is fresh and the memory of it is simply reveling to be released.

Vientiane, Laos

Arriving in Vientien airport at 9 am was a good start. It was early, sun was up, weather not too hot to travel in and we at least had a day to explore the small town. Little did we know (my sister and I) that our travel companions had other plans. The airport was small, employees spoke English, and as you'd find in every other airports; a fair share of taxi-drivers outside that will try and rip you off. For a taxi-ride into town would cost you $ 3 USD per person whereas if you walked further down from the airport and hired a tuk-tuk, they would get you into town for just 2 USD a ride. With a heavier backpack than she can handle, my sister offered to pay for the taxi.

There's a funny story in here as just when we were unloading our bags into the cab, a tall, blonde caucasian guy (accents can be hard to recognise unless it was french..) came up and asked if he could just share the taxi with us. The driver seemed to refuse but the stranger made the internationally understood "money" sign (where the index and thumb finger is rubbing together?) , and so he relents and seats our new travel partner up-front.

The driver didn't speak any English, so all we could do was point and repeat the name of our designated guest-house over and over again, hoping that each time we say it, the pronounciation would be different and he's know which guesthouse it was. Took him 10 minutes to get us there. efficient.

Our travel companion however, jumped down from the cab, said he was getting ciggarettes and dissapeared. Neither my sister, nor I waited to see if he came back to pay the cab-driver. I doubted it. he dashed pretty quickly. Anyway, we met up with the rest of our travel buddies; L, D and Ro. And was clued in on the bus trip to Vang Vien.J and Ro at Nizam restaurant for Roti's

As the bus ride was scheduled at 10 am, we headed out for some breakfast, which consisted of roti's and thosais for our benefit. Although we've been constantly reminded how time or speed is of no essence here, we waited..and waited for the bus to show up before we boarded on: a mini van (bus broke down somehwere according to our guide..) an hour later than planned. It was roughly a 7 hour ride down every pot-hole imaginable, with me flyng off my seat unto others more than once. Hitting my head on the railing was a repetitive move every few turns.

L showing us the Mighty Mekong River

But thankfully, we arrived in one piece in the sleepy hippy-ish tourist town of vang vien.

The broken down bus that doubles as a clothes hanger