AMSC: Jakarta upside-down

Life has been extremely good to me. Right now, I am currently on a long holiday. I’ve had 3 weeks and I still have another 3 ahead. If the absolute number is not that spectacular, let me put it in perspective. Other unis, especially the med schools, have shorter holidays than I do; in fact, some of them only get two weeks of time off. However, holidays are but facts of life. I need something more, something monumental. Thus, to top my happiness, I had the privilege to be a part of Asian Medical Students’ Conference (AMSC) 2010 in Jakarta Indonesia.

AMSC2010 is held by Asian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) chapters of University of Indonesia (UI) and Pelita Harapan University (UPH). It was a week-long conference, from July 25 to July 31, with Geriatrics as its main theme. Participants come from countries with local AMSA, most of them in Asia. In Jakarta, they are treated to a vast array of scientific, social, and cultural activities; not to mention the opportunity to build connections and, most importantly, friendship. Many submitted their entries for the paper, poster, photo, and movie competitions; all of them are wonderful, some emerged as winners.

From Southeast Asia, there were delegates representing Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and Cambodia. Other Asian countries in the conference are Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Mongolia, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Palestine. Additionally, we were more than happy to welcome delegates from Australia, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.

So what makes the title of this post?

It comes from my personal experience during the conference. First, the conference required me to be in parts of Greater Jakarta I have never known that well. If it wasn’t for AMSC, I would’ve never been to UPH’s campus in Karawaci. The second day took place in Sapta Pesona building, which is the office of Tourism Ministry and in the Balai Kota for dinner. I knew the places, but that was the first time I went there. On the third day, I accompanied delegates to Kelapa Gading Mal, a giant hunk of a supermall made up of 5 malls. I’m not familiar with the mall, so it kinda felt like trapping them into a maze. And the most surprising discovery is…that there is a nursing home for the elderly very near to my house and I’ve been passing the location for as long as I’ve lived. I have to thank the organizers of the social visit.

Second, I was trained to see Jakarta in a very different light. While following the delegates everywhere, sometimes they ask me about the things they see: traffic jams, huge shopping malls, the capricious weather, strange foods, and all the little bits. I’ve been to Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, and the UK so I can see where the question comes from. For example, the girls are just blown away by the sheer number of shopping malls in the city because Australia simply does not have half as many. On the other hand, I gained new insights from other delegates like Mongolia, Bangladesh, and Nepal.

Last, there was a lot of movement. My house is in South Jakarta, almost at the southern tip of the province. Each morning, I have to outrun the delegates to the venue of that day. After the day is done, I tag along as they return to Mercure Hotel in Ancol. Ancol is in the very north of Jakarta. Heck, the hotel is by the beach! Not less than 3 times did I ride a taxi from north to south, at midnight the earliest. I once got home at 2AM and had to wake up again at 5AM.

Despite the ‘hardship’ I had to endure, AMSC is truly an unforgettable experience. New friends, great times, amazing activities, and tons of fun! Thanks to Facebook, it is even easier to keep in touch with people from all corners of the shrinking globe. I was in a deluge of friend requests, comments, and photo tags. Nothing more I could ask.

Jogja-Solo jaunt: part three (final)

This post should’ve been up last week but I was too busy last week helping out in the Asian Medical Students’ Conference 2010 in no other place than Jakarta. The week-long conference was hosted by University of Indonesia and Pelita Harapan University. There were 400 delegates from Asian countries, including Australia, and it was so much fun. Yet, for now let me finish my traveller’s notes first.

Going down the mountain from Ketep Pass, we decided to go to the Borobudur temple since it’s somewhere in the middle between Magelang and Jogjakarta. We arrived there quite early for tourists; there were only some foreigners who probably was on the Borobudur sunrise tour. We went into the temple complex after a simple breakfast in the food stalls around the complex.

Borobudur is a colossal Buddhist temple built in nine layers. Its walls are decorated by narrative reliefs, the beauty of which is multiplied by the sheer number of panels in the temple. Sitting at the higher layers are Buddha statues surrounding a main dome at the very top. It is a huge draw for tourists from not only around the country, but also around the world.



Nevertheless, what really made me fall in love with the place is its location. Going to the higher layers of the temple, visitors will be surrounded by green hills and mountains beyond the carved walls. The lush forest is the perfect backdrop for this masterpiece of human creation. In fact, I’d rather take photos with that background than stuff a stupa into the frame.



From the cool morning rose a scorching sun. Thus, we headed back to the guest house and prepared ourselves for the long-awaited lunch: Suharti Fried Chicken. Going to the restaurant reminded me of past years when we used to go to my grandparents’ hometown for Lebaran. Everytime we passed through Jogja, we always stopped at Suharti’s, no matter what time it was.

The restaurant’s top item is obviously its fried chicken with kremes. Kremes is basically a mix of spices and flour, fried together with the chicken, to make the dish crispy and tastier. Suharti makes a unique kremes that sets it apart from other traditional fried chicken. Served with warm steamed rice and sambal, Suharti’s fried chicken was definitely delicious and filling.

After Suharti, my mom took us to Beringharjo Market in Malioboro. She needed to buy batik quilts to send to a number of relatives. Batik quilts are not only beautiful, but also useful. At first, I thought it was a half-hearted comforter. I mean, batik is not known for that use. Yet, apparently it does fulfill its purpose and currently I have a batik quilt for my bed. One last thing, witnessing my mom haggling is as exciting as the bustling market itself.

Before going to the airport, we took a stroll in Vreideburg Fort, just next door to the market. As with most Indonesia’s historic buildings, it stores hundreds of stories but no one had asked what the stories are. It can surely do with more engaging exhibits and better storytelling. Anyway, it’s relieving to see that at least it’s not demolished…yet. Good luck to the fort.

As the sun set, we headed to the airport. Not surprisingly, our QZ plane was delayed for around an hour. Secretly we had mentally prepared for such delays, especially after I had had to endure a 3-hours delay in KL for my plane back to Jakarta.