Project 365

Welcome! This is my own 365 project of creating at least one post per day about the stuff that I learnt, achieved, and found, the stuff that made me happy, or the new thing I did every single day.

The project was started on 21 February 2010. It has stopped for few times but I am determined to continue!

This project is dedicated to myself. I want to feel grateful for every single thing I have. I want to be thankful for my own life. I just want to feel that I have enough.

Tag: myself

The “White” Asians

Sometimes I don’t realize that it’s been so many years since the last time I lived in an Asian country. To recap, I left Indonesia in the beginning of 2004. So that’s exactly 6 years ago. Six years don’t seem to be a big deal to me, but actually I’ve been missing or forgetting about a lot of things! Things that once was normal, is now an alien to me.

I’m talking about beauty products.

My only moisturizing facial creme ran out yesterday. So I went to a nearby hypermarket, which was just few minutes walk from where I lived. I went to the skin products section, scanned through the brands, and found the brand that I always bought. There were a range of products that this brand had and I was totally shocked to see that *ALL* of them contained whitening stuff in them! Yes, all of them were whitening creme.

Disappointed, I went to a pharmacy, hoping to find a non-whitening creme of the same brand. I found it, with only one left on the shelf. I was not very satisfied because this one got no UV-protection, unlike the whitening creme products. But I didn’t have much choice. I quickly scanned through the other brands and all of them were whitening products! (as far as what my eyes could see)  A big disappointment!

This is not about Malaysia. This is not about Indonesia. This is an Asian disease.  Even the Japanese and Korean people who are already SO white, still want their skin to be whiter! Can you imagine that?! And this is no different with white people wanting to get their skin darker. But at least, I can still find a lot of creme products over there that don’t make my skin darker. Not in Asia. It was a big shock for me to see almost all products in the shelves were for people who wanted to get their face “whiter”!

To be honest, it’s ironic that this thing was normal to me back then when I was still in Indonesia. Many of my friends were “afraid” of the sun and tried so hard to avoid it. Having a dark skin was never a favorite among many Indonesians. The guys too would prefer girls with fair skin. Look at all those advertisements. All the models. Actors. Actresses. Most of them have fair skin.

Alhamdulillah, I was never a person who wanted a fair skin. I love my skin and I’m grateful for what I have. I was even more proud when my “white” friends used to compliment my skin color.

What can those products do to your skin? I don’t believe they can make your skin any whiter. I do think they’re just placebo effect 😀

Being (in)dependent

My parents raised me to be independent from the very early age. Back in those days when we’re still financially unstable, my sister and I had stay at home — just the two of us — while our parents worked hard to earn extra money during Hajj.  Being the eldest child, I was already trusted to take care of my sister and myself. I was still in the elementary school at that time, but we managed to live like this for a month every single year.

I then became totally independent when I came to Indonesia to study. For the next 10 years after that, I had been living independently without my family. I was too comfortable to be apart from my family that it felt weird to stay under one roof with them for more than a month. I had to re-adapt.

I love living my life without having to worry about others 24 hours a day. I don’t need to take care of anyone or be worried about anyone. The only one that needs to be taken care of is only me. It doesn’t mean that I prefer to live alone. I hate living alone. But there’s a big difference between living with your friends and living with your family. Yes, there’s a big difference.

This is something that I still need to get used to. Living with my sister is such a big challenge for me. She is the most needy person I’ve ever encountered. She doesn’t like to be alone at all. Even if it means going to the market next door, she wants to be accompanied. I don’t want to make it a big deal, because that’s what I come here for. I’m just not used to it and that’s a real challenge for me.

But then I thought to myself. Imagine if I have a child. Like any children in the world, this child constantly needs the care, support, and attention every single day. If I can’t even stand having my sister by my side, what would happen next if I have a child?!? Would I be able to stand with my baby?

I really need to sort out this issue!

The View of KL

The view of KL Tower & Twin Towers from my sister's apartment

This picture was taken from my sister’s apartment. Not the best view, to be honest, but hey! It’s better than nothing, right?

Oh, wait a minute! Let me paraphrase that sentence. It’s so much better than THIS one:

The view from my sister's apartment

Did you see that? The two highways? I never dreamt of living nearby busy highways. It’s like a nightmare, really. You are forced to hear the annoying sound of traffic every single day and night. Cars. Trucks. Constructions. I live in the 24th floor. Imagine that.

Well, I didn’t have any choice. This is where I need to be. I just have to live with it. I’m sure I’ll get used to it. I miss my house in Eindhoven and its quiet neighborhood. Its calmness and tranquility is definitely priceless. What can I say? Big city is just not my thing. I’m going to be out of here in two years!

Back to Reality

I’m back from my travel. Back to reality. There are so many things I want to write about my travel in Iran, Turkey, and Jordan, but I don’t have time to do it yet. I’m going to Jakarta in two days time. It was rather unexpected and unplanned, because my grandma was suddenly hospitalized. I had to change my plans and I’ve been busy with the preparation of my sudden move to Jakarta. Anyway…

My laptop is also broken & the internet is extremely slow here. This is the reason why I decided to slowdown my blogging activities.

Not sure when I’ll start blogging again, but I hope soon! I miss writing something here! I hope the next time I write again, there will be good news about my grandma. Amin.

Smartphones, I resist…

My sister just got a smartphone. A BlackBerry to be precise. Her decision to abandon her classic mobile phone has made me the only person in the family who still refuses to follow the majority. My family fails to understand why I keep on resisting to get a smartphone. But I am a very stubborn person sometimes. If I said no, then nobody could change it except me. Anyhow…

It has been 4 years since the first time I owned this Nokia mobile phone. I did not actually buy it — I got it from my dad after he bought a new one. The phone does not look good anymore. The plastic silver cover has been partially torn up. What can I say? I may be a loyal owner of a gadget, but I am not good in taking a good care of it. But that small gadget is perfectly fine. It is working wonderfully. At least, I can make some calls and send some texts. That’s what I need it for.

Sure, smartphone is a handy and important gadget for my family. Being miles and miles away from each other, my family needs any cheap means to communicate. So far, Skype, VOIP, Yahoo Messenger, and (sometimes) SMS are the things that bind us together, despite our distances.

Recently, my mom who is a BlackBerry addict, has been trying so hard to convince me to use a BlackBerry so that she can communicate with me much easier and cheaper. I’ve used that ugly device before, only for 3 weeks when I was in Indonesia 2 years ago, and I have to say that I did NOT like it at all. I had to borrow and use it because I needed the Internet. Otherwise, I would never use it. I just hate it… It’s sooooooooo not user-friendly.

Well, that’s not the only reason why I refuse to use BlackBerry or any other smartphones. I just don’t want to be too addicted to it. It’s such a bad device. I already have an iPod Touch, given by my former boss, and I use it Even with an iPod, sometimes I complain if I can’t find any Internet connection. If I had a smartphone, I’d definitely be on the Internet the wholeeee time! I’m an Internet junkie, for sure, and I’ve been trying to limit it. Limiting internet usage seems to be unsuccessful for an IT geek, so the only thing I can do now is NOT to give myself a device that would increase my geekness (if there’s such a word, LOL).

I’m not saying that I will never get myself a smartphone. I will definitely get it one day (YES, it’s so tempting, to be honest!). But for now, let me just stick with my old granny phone. Let’s just see how many months or years I can resist the temptation :). Hooray if I could stay with this phone until it completely refuses to work!

The Unexpected Gift

Not many people knew that I’d go back for good. Most of them found it out a week or even a few days before my departure. So I never expected to receive anything from them. I have too many stuff with me already. I didn’t want to bring anything more. But there was one special gift I got from our angklung team that really touched me and almost made me cry:

From Angklung Eindhoven

The thing that made me cry :'(

This frame is now put in my room in Jeddah. It’ll be brought to Malaysia next year, for sure! I’ll definitely miss playing angklung with them! 🙁

Old Passport

I just love it to have my passport’s page(s) filled with  stamps, leaving little or no empty space. These are the pages of my old passport, that almost caused me heart attack. This particular passport only contains 24 pages and it only has 5 empty pages left. Too bad I had to renew it, otherwise I could get the entire pages of the passport full of stamps 😉 hehehe.

The year 2009 was a great year indeed. I traveled to 8 different countries in one go! 🙂 I started with a road trip with some friends to Luxembourg, Strasbourg (France), Heidelberg and Köln (both in Germany). From Köln, I went to Düsseldorf to catch a flight to Jeddah. I had an almost 20 hours of transit in Dubai so I decided to explore Dubai (which — as expected — I didn’t really like. Dubai was not my thing). From Saudi Arabia, I flew to Indonesia, visited some friends in Singapore for a day, and stayed with my sister in KL for five boring days (it was an exam week for my sister. So I was there feeling rather bored. Nothing much to do). I came back to Europe through Paris, where I stayed there for 3 days. That was my first time visiting Paris. I love Versailles!!! 🙂

It was a crazy trip, to be honest. At the end of the trip, I was left with only 10 euro on my bank account! hahaha.



Commitment. What a scary word coming from a person you have never even met.

Oh God, please help me.

The Miracle of the Day

Across the sky

October 7th, 2011. 14:00 CET.

Finally, here I am. Flying across the sky. Feeling so grateful. Actually, grateful is an understatement. But I don’t even know what else to describe it. My heart is still racing, although it shows a sign of slowing down. My mind is occupied with many questions. Why was I so reckless?? Why didn’t I keep track of time? Why did I do it? Why? Why?

This was not the first time happening to me. I almost missed my flight when I forgot to bring my Saudi paper exit visa and I had to go back home to take it because of that. I almost missed my flight when there was a demonstration in KL (but then was told that the flight was delayed… sigh). I actually missed my flight to Brisbane when I was in Singapore because I was too busy browsing on the internet. I got a “panic attack” last year when I realized that I hadn’t printed my boarding pass few hours before my departure and all printers at the university failed to work.

For me, the experience that I have to go through less than 24 hours before departure is always frightening — including the one that I had recently.

Well, here’s the thing. A day before my departure, I checked all the travel documents that I needed. I had everything ready and printed. I put all of them in my shoulder bag. I even double checked everything to make sure that I was not dreaming. Long story short, I discovered that I had to bring my old passport with me as it had a stamp that was important. Where was my old passport? It’s still in the Indonesian embassy in Den Haag. This was at 3pm.

My passport was renewed on February this year and I forgot to take my old passport with me because I thought I didn’t need it. I was indeed wrong. So I called the embassy and asked them to kindly find my old passport. I was literally begging to them to search it for me. Although I was not pleased with how disorganized those past applications were kept, I was really grateful that they tried to find my passport between piles and piles of other old passports. They called me 2 hours after their working time was supposed to finish to let me know that they were still searching.

The next day was the day I departed. My flight was scheduled to depart at 12.40 but I still had the time to go to Den Haag in the morning. I took the 7.30 AM train to Den Haag. While waiting for the embassy to call me, I went to JoHo to apply for an ISIC card (yay! I got it now!). Finally, at 10.15 AM the embassy told me that they found my passport. I quickly rushed to the embassy to take it. I’m telling you, time is money. But alhamdulillah, I got the passport.

The main story did not end there. I began running into trouble when I took a bus to go back to the central station. My OV-chipkaart ran out of credits and I didn’t have any cash with me (I hardly bring cash). The bus didn’t have a refil machine so I had to get out of the bus on the next stop as the driver looked grumpy. I found an ATM nearby and quickly took some cash. Time was now 10:55 AM.

When I finally reached the central station, it was already around 11:10. I knew I was in a big trouble. But I was even more convinced that I would miss my flight when I found out that the next train to Schiphol was at 11.30!!! And I actually had to check in before 11.40!!! I was soooo screwed. I was panic. I prayed and prayed during my 30 minutes jouney to the airport that the flight would be delayed or there would be some kind of a miracle!

I thought about all of the what if situations that I could think of. If they didn’t allow me to check my bag in, I’d store it in a locker. If they didn’t allow me to board the plane, I would sleep in the airport to wait for the next flight. But before these situations would happen, I would make sure that my begging and desperate-looking skills were being used.

I arrived at the check-in counter at around 12.10pm. No one was there except one woman. Oh, thank God! At least I didn’t need to search all over the airport for the airline’s employee. She was of course surprised upon knowing that I wanted to check in. She called her boss and at the same time printing the boarding pass and the luggage tag. I was a bit relieved at that time, although I was not 100% sure that I would be able to fly on that day.

Few minutes later, she gave me the boarding pass and added, “We cannot guarantee anything that you are able to fly.” Oh gosh, here we go again. She told me to run to the gate, because someone had to talk to me. So I ran and ran. I didn’t have much energy to be honest. I used up all my energy by the time I was in Den Haag.

Thankfully, I reached the gate 15 minutes before it was closed. A man approached me, checked my details and necessary documents, while telling me, “Mam, you know the procedure! You should check in 1 hour before departure, NOT 30 minutes!!!” I told him that I was so sorry and it was indeed my fault. Any stories that I could tell him would be viewed as excuses so I didn’t tell him anything other than that. Few minutes later, I boarded the plane.

So here I am, thinking. Was that a miracle? Was that a result of me praying to Him, Allah SWT? I strongly believe it was. Prayer or Doa is a powerful thing. Don’t ever lose hope of Him. That’s the lesson I learned today.

Where am I going? Well, I will keep it as a mystery for now ;). I shall be back soon.

How I Used to Spend My Free Time

My mom used to tell me how she used to play in sawah (rice fields) when she was a little kid and she always told me how during those times there were no such things as dolls or Barbie’s. Whenever I see small children playing with their parents’ phone or iPad, I smile. I see the same thing as what my mom saw. Oh how the world has dramatically changed! People of my generation didn’t have those gadgets or even computers to play with. We didn’t have internet or mobile phones. But still, we were happy. Probably even happier than today :P. This post is just to reminisce about the good old days before the social media- and gadget-era 🙂

How did I spend my free time?

Teddy Bear

My most favorite toy was definitely my teddy bear! He’s the only one I used to sleep with — I actually couldn’t sleep without him! LOL. I used to bring him everywhere I went. My parents told me I lost my teddy bear during 1990 Hajj. I fell ill because of it! (!!!) We still lived in Mekkah at that time and my dad had to go all the way to Jeddah to find a similar version of it. You couldn’t find any dolls in Mekkah at that time. He found a similar one and this was the one I still remember til this very day. I started to abandon my teddy bear as soon as my little brother, Aiman, was born. Not sure why! I think my mom threw away my teddy bear during the time we moved to a different house.

The brown teddy bear was my teddy bear! :)


Like any girls, I loved playing with Barbie. I didn’t have the original Barbie though. We couldn’t afford the original one, which was quite expensive, because I would buy more than one Barbie dolls. But still, I was happy enough to have those Barbie-looking dolls. My mom used to make some clothes for these dolls. I would play with them for hours! My childhood friend, Anne, would come to play with me (or I would come to her house to play with her original Barbie’s… hehehe).

Some parents refuse to buy Barbie for their children, because they’re afraid that their children will attempt to emulate her. As far as I remember, I didn’t have a slight attempt to imitate her. It never occurred to me that I would ever see her as a role model. I just loved playing with her. That’s all. Perhaps this was because I was not influenced by the image portrayed on TV. The only thing I watched on TV was Tom & Jerry and other animal or hero cartoons (which got nothing to do with beauty or anything like that). I rarely watched Disney princess-like movies (I watched them at my friend’s house. We didn’t have them at ours). I got a feeling that my parents discouraged having these Disney cartoons in our house. Looking back, I think it was one of the best decisions that my parents ever made.

I have to say, Saudi government also did a great job of selecting which cartoons were worth to be watched by children!!! (Note that we didn’t have satellite TV back then. So the only thing we watched was the two Saudi channels)


I used to build a big tent out of sheets of blankets inside my room (which was also my sister’s room too). I tied them by the door, on the chairs, desk, and on any strong objects I could find. My whole room was covered with these blankets — or tents — and I would pretend as if I was camping in a forest. I would bring my teddy bear, Barbie’s, and other dolls inside these tents. Sometimes my sister (who used to follow whatever I did) joined me. I loved playing the camping game! 😀 After the game, I had to tidy my room up and fold those blankets again, otherwise I would get into trouble 😛

Crystal Maze

The Crystal Maze was a popular British game show aired on Saudi Channel 2. It was one of my favorite TV shows at that time! It was very fun to watch each team playing various games in different settings (or so-called zones). The final challenge of the game was entering the Crystal Dome,  as shown in this picture:

The teams had to enter this big Crystal Dome to collect as many “gold tokens”. The tokens were made of foil and were blown around from the fan below the dome — and the team had to catch these tokens and collect a minimum number of tokens in order to win. Here’s the video if you want to have a look on how it actually works:

Inspired by this game, I recreated the “Crystal Dome”. Well, I didn’t create the Dome itself, of course. But I liked the idea of blowing the tokens and catching them as many as I could. So, when my friends came over, we used to play this game. We cut out papers to make them as big as a paper money. Then one of us would take turn of climbing on top of my wardrobe (which was quite high). The person who was on the top had to “blow” or throw these papers down. We also put a big fan so that they were blown. The rest of us had to collect them. The one who could collect the most was of course the winner! Hahahaha. Creative enough? 🙂

Riding a Bike

I used to ride my bike around the neighborhood where we used to live. I used to do that almost every afternoon after school. This was the time when I also played with other Arab neighbors. The thing I remember about them was that they always wanted to decide everything. They wanted to control everything. Other children had to follow their lead. It annoyed the hell out of me haha. Anyway, I stopped riding my bike right after a religious police screamed at me for not wearing an abaya. I think I was around 13-15 years old. Riding a bike with an abaya on is too troublesome. So I decided not to play outside the house anymore.


I had a cooking/kitchen set (as shown in the picture above) and I also loved playing with it. I wonder why cooking is not my favorite activities these days :P. Well, eating is!


Every weekend, my family and I used to go to Obhur (which is part of the Red Sea) to swim. Some of my childhood friends joined us too. We would stay there until the afternoon and had lunch together afterwards. When I got a little older, my dad became so busy that we didn’t have time to do it every weekend. So we would do it every year instead. We would rent a cottage for a night and stayed there. When I was in Junior High School, I used to also go to a women-only sport club nearby to swim with some friends. I did that every weekend and I loved it! I remember swimming was the only sport I enjoyed doing. Ever since I put on hijab, I became too lazy to swim despite the fact that I had a swimming pool in my apartment in Brisbane.


By the time I reached the age of 13, I no longer played the same game I used to play when I was much younger. So I tried to find something else to make myself entertained. I began doing a correspondence. The idea came from one of teen magazines (I think it was Anita magazine). I sent my profile to them and they published it on the correspondence section. I began receiving letters from people in Indonesia.

After some time, one of the penpals introduced me to a “worldwide” correspondence. The idea was that, she sent me a so-called penpal book. This small book was filled with names and addresses of people who had received it. The last person who got the book (who could fill it on the last page) had to return it back to the book’s owner. Those who filled the book were also allowed to send letters to some people in that book to make some friends. It was just a great idea :).

I had hundreds of penpals around the world by the time I was in Junior High School. It was really fun and it was really great to practice and improve my English. Every month I got at least 100 letters to be replied. I remember the person who worked at the post office looked always pissed off every time I went there. Because he knew I would cheat. I would put a 50 halalah (cents) stamp on each envelope, instead of a 100 halalah (or 1 Saudi Riyal). That’s one of the ways to reduce the expenses my dad had to endure for my correspondence activities. Sometimes I would ask some penpals to return my stamps, so that I could wash and reuse them again.

I stopped corresponding by the time I went to High School in Indonesia. I didn’t have much time to write anymore (as we had a 9am-to-10pm activity every day). I remember I still received some letters (delivered to my Saudi address) when I was in Australia!


My first exposure with a computer was when my dad first bought a PC with a DOS in it. I think it was around 1993. There were some games in it, but I didn’t remember playing them (or maybe I didn’t like them). I remember there was a Qur’an software which I used it to play some short Surahs. I memorized Surah Abasa from this software.

We got an Internet when I was in Junior High School (around 1997). I think I was one of the first few people in class who had an access to the Internet at that time. The first thing I did when I had an Internet access was to create a Yahoo! email (which I still use until today) and check out Leonardo DiCaprio’s and Mariah Carey’s websites!! LOL. I was a huge fan of them. I used to have their posters all over my room.

But Internet at that time was not too huge. I couldn’t do much with it anyway (slow dial-up connection, anyone?). All I could do was chatting or browsing. But it definitely didn’t take more than an hour. After few years of knowing the Internet, I had the opportunity to create my own personal website using Geocities. Creating a website has become my favorite thing ever since! I’ve been learning everything from scratch. From building it using Geocities’ web builder, Microsoft FrontPage editor, to manually writing HTML and CSS codes. From a static website to a dynamic one. Everything was self-taught!

Video Games

I didn’t have video games during my childhood. My parents never allowed my sister and I to have one (but somehow this rule was relaxed with my brother…). The only way I could play video games was in my friend Anne’s house. I used to play Nintendo’s Mario Bros and Sega’s Sonic. That only happened few times a month. Hehehe.

Oh the good old days!!! 🙂