great weekends in den haag, den bosch, and arnhem

March 25, 2007 § Leave a comment

I have the habit of traveling alone. It doesn’t mean that I don’t like company. I prefer to travel with someone I’m comfortable with, but I can also point out few people I’d never want to travel together with again. However, in general, I’d be happy if someone wanted to go with me. If nobody is able to go, or I’d rather not go with a particular person, then I will gladly go alone. Thus the phrase: traveling alone. It requires determination and adequate preparation. Planning, map, and logistics are crucial necessities. I’ve traveled alone in Italy (Rome, Pisa, Florence, Napoli), Paris, Madrid, Leer in Germany and several cities in The Netherlands of course. In this activity, practice makes things easier!

Last weekend, 17/3/07: Kroller-Muller Museum in Otterloo

Friday night is research time: figuring out where I want to go and how to get there. I spent some time browsing through my Holland guidebook (DK Eyewitness) and, I decided on Kroller-Muller museum for its van Gogh collection. Next step was to learn how to get there through the museum website: 20 minutes train ride to Arnhem, then the 105s bus to Otterloo, then somehow get into the Hoge Veluwe national park, where the museum is. And then it’s always the usual adventurer trick: ask tourist information or bus driver when I got there.

I left Nijmegen at 10.00 for Arnhem. Then I went to the bus information center, asked for the bus to Kroller-Muller museum, and the lady there told me to go to a platform in the bus station. The bus leaves for Otterloo every hour. In the bus, I told the driver that I was going to Kroller-Muller, then he told me where to get off and wait for another taxi bus after. It turned out to be a taxi service from the national park. I just hopped in and paid the driver for the park entrance (7 euro). He drove me straight into the park and stopped in front of the museum.

At the museum entrance I was asked whether I was a student. I said yeah, but I don’t have my student card. Then he said, well, you look like a student to me. And I smiled so wide, thanking him. That meant I got a student reduction price of just 3,5 euro instead of 7 euro. Very nice.

Their van Gogh collection is plenty!!!  I went around the museum, then went out to the sculpture garden and had lunch there (brie sandwich from home), and went back in to see the van Gogh’s again. Then I decided it’s time to see a bit of the national park. I took the free white bike to a different road (not the one I passed when I went into the park in the morning). I just wanted to get out of the national park and get a bus back to Arnhem. However, after 20 minutes of cycling, 3 times of internal conflicts ("this is the right exit, keep going" vs. "this is the wrong way, turn back"), and the wind blowing against me, I finally had the courage to give up.

(Yes people, as I learned that day: giving up takes courage. The courage to admit that you were WRONG and that you must RETREAT and do something DIFFERENT. Not just go to a different direction, but to GO BACK first and THEN take a different direction.)

The good side was that I got to see the sand dunes, the hallmark of Hoge Veluwe national park. The part I saw was an open land with desert landscape. The bad side was that I’d spent more than 30 minutes of going nowhere, all tired from cycling against the wind. But hey, sometimes more is gained with some pain. So overall, it had been great for me. As I told you, I went back to the museum and waited for the bus to take me out of the park. It’s taxi bus to the bus stop outside the park, then bus 105s again to Arnhem bus station. I got back at the bus station around 17.00.

I got an invitation for dinner from a dutch colleague of mine who lived in Arnhem, so I took another bus trip to her place. Lovely dinner, in her lovely place. She had to work that night so we drove back to Nijmegen with car.

This weekend, 24/3/07: Den Haag

Friday night is research time again. Confusion rose from having to consider the best time to visit what (Keukenhoff in Lisse and Den Bosch better to be visited in April), other places I would visit with other people (as for now it’s Utrecht and Maastricht), and what to do in a particular place (if the forecast said it’s rainy, then indoor activity like museum must be present in the destination). 

Den Haag won. I chose Den Haag. I was there in 2005, visiting Madurodam (cool place!) and Maurithuis ("The Girl with The Pearl Earring" is one of those paintings you want to look at and admire for a long time!). This time I thought I’d try for Binnenhof, Escher in Het Palais, Gemeentemuseum, Photography museum, and if I had the time then maybe someplace else.

I left my place at 07.45, tried to catch the train before 08.30. It’s a long trip after all, 2 hours. I walked to VVV office beside Binnenhof, got myself a map, then ready to roll. After wondering around Binnenhof, I walked to Escher. 7,5 euro. And it’s just great in there. What so obvious was his being inspired by Islamic art. He even used 8 pointed star as a template. His true authenticity was in his work of relativity. So creative and smart at the same time. He’s a true mathematician. A brilliant artist.

Next destination was the Gemeentemuseum. The coolest thing was that I got my student card last week, so I could already use it for the museums. Nothing spectacular there, although the Sixties! exhibition kept me busy for some time. There’s another exhibition about war period, but having a personal history of Dutch colonialism in Indonesia, I’d rather not go there. It might trigger unpleasant sentiments from my part; I really I don’t want to see history distorted. I went to Photomuseum after, with very interesting exhibition. Very nice. I enjoyed it so much.

After the museums I still had some time. I went to the tram stop where some Dutch tourists mentioned Scheveningen. Then I remembered that my brother had recommended the place to me. I just figured out which tram to take and to just follow the tourists. I got to the port where the boats stop. The place reminds me of Bontang, the town of my high school years. Another 5 minutes of walk then I got to the beach. Afterwards it’s long stroll, enjoying the sight of sea and sand and misty air of Scheveningen.

I went back with tram to the central station and took a 6 o’clock train to Nijmegen. 

Sunday 25/3/07: Den Bosch

I woke up surprised because the weather was superb. Just fabulous. I immediately decided to go to Den Bosch. Not so far from Nijmegen anyway. But I didn’t stay long, just go around the center and  visited St. Jan’s cathedral (beautiful!); enjoyed the sun for a while, had ice cream. Then I went back after 2 hours there.

I just knew I had to visit someplace if the weather was that beautiful, and I had to go back early anyway to Nijmegen, because of I still had plenty of things to do (write personal stuff, possibly write something for my paper, and move my stuff from the place I used to stay in to the place I am staying now).


being with people is the essence of psychiatry

March 24, 2007 § Leave a comment

"Being with people was all that kept you going this year… And ‘being with’ is the essence of psychiatry."

Berry to Roy, The House of God- Samuel Shem


Eric was an intern doing so well in his psychiatry theoretical exams and rotation. He has respect for the discipline an the patients. He thinks it’s difficult and too subjective. And to him, even the psychotic patients are humane, although not what the world would say sane. And it’s always with that respect, he approached psychiatry with confidence. He knew he had to study, to learn how to approach patients and respect them. Always respect them.

The respect could be traced to the fact that his uncle had been a successful psychiatrist, always encouraging him to do well in psychiatry. Or to the fact that he’s a fanatic reader of Paulo Coelho, once a patient of a psychiatric hospital, who wrote about spirituality inside the institution.

There were times when he came back from the ward excited to tell his friends and family about what delusional patients did. But there were times when he contemplated patients in silence, and admitted that amidst the lost sanity, their essence of being is undeniable.

And he sailed through psychiatry with grace: the grace of an intern who’s able to listen, acknowledge symptoms, diagnose and manage patients.

His mother said, "You have talent for this." For psychiatry. His uncle commented similarly. And he’s amused by their sayings. What talent? Which, if there’s any?

Psychiatry is not the perfect storm and high tide like obgyn, surgery, or internal medicine. It is a calm ocean with turbulence underneath the surface. Each patient pulls you in a strong current to the individual inner-working of their mind. To diagnose is to let yourself being pulled into a patient’s reality, sometimes too far away from ours. And after each working day with psychiatric patients, you try to swim against that current, fight your way to the shore, to the safety of the beach where then you lie exhausted. Tired. 

What’ s the talent? Or perhaps interest, in combination with facilitation by life circumstances, as geneticist would rather say.

And by the time he read "The House of God", page 349, the answer was there. Answer that couldn’t have been more precise. "Being with people was all that kept you going this year… And ‘being with’ is the essence of psychiatry." That’s it. Being with people. That’s his talent, his interest. That’s why he had gracefully sailed through psychiatry. Not because he was exceptionally intelligent, not because he liked psychiatry. It’s because he liked being with people. Thus he could stand the patients, the disorders, the pain of the patients family. He’d genuinely liked being with people.

He probably wouldn’t do psychiatry. The swimming to the shore exhausted him, and he wouldn’t want to spend his life being emotionally drained by efforts to get back to reality nor being too deep in the current that he’d lost himself in it. Being with people brings him joy, fullness, and love of life. Being with people is a way of life; and you choose how you want to do it.


Minervaplaats-Nijmegen, 23 March 2007



I have the chance to read The House of God myself. And having gone through internal medicine rotation in Kariadi Hospital, I know how dehumanizing the experience can be. It’s under the title "internal medicine", in December 2006 link. I couldn’t feel anything during my rotation there. I was lost in the exhaustion and constant pressure. This novel is a vivid documentation of an intern’s life in the hospital. Not just what he learnt, but also what he did, felt, and didn’t feel during the period.   

KVZ1 Health n Disease in The Tropics

March 11, 2007 § 1 Comment

kalo ngga pake bahasa indo, ga muncul di friendster tmen indo.

It started very casually. I came quite early to class, saw the professor and two dutch students who’d already been there. I introduced myself to them and waited for the others to arrive. Then there were 19 of us altogether; 7 international students (4 from Tanzania, 1 from El Salvador, and… 1 from Indonesia) and 12 dutch students. We got to know a bit more about each other before the lecture started. Afterwards, it’s just a good chemistry with the whole class until the end of the course after 1 month.

Some dutch and international students hangout after class too I think. Or at least I did.

The courses started 8.45am and finished mostly around 4pm; long and sometimes exhausting hours. We had coffee breaks and lunch together whenever we could; the tropical medicine gang of dutch and international students.

We’re continuously given groupworks, making the interaction between the dutch and international students intense. The international students were always distributed evenly in the different group. We’re almost forced to stay together all the time because of the amount of work that we must finish as a group. Some tasks can be split and worked on individually, but most of the time we must sat together and had lots of discussions.

After the first week it was becoming obvious that we had our own "cliques" already: the people we prefer to work together with in a group just because we’d already known them better than others. Although we’re given the freedom to choose the topics that interest us the most, as well as the chance to form our own group, it’s pretty much the same people ending up in the same group. It’s easier when you’re already familiar with how that other person works, or when you know you’re a good and lethally sharp combination together.

We learned a lot during the course, and not just about tropical medicine. It’s also about working together as a group, getting to know others from different backgrounds, and having a great time. I enjoyed the whole experience during the course. A friend from this class said that the month had been very enriching for her, which I’m sure the thought many of us shared.

Hmm… tropical medicine huh… It’s all about viral, bacterial, protozoan and worm diseases in the tropics. However, reflecting back, it’s good to know that I ended up with new friends (my dear classmates -OK this is very indonesian to call your classmates your friends) and even found myself a really good friend.

You have to focus more on the people, and not just the disease; the wise doctors say. And yes, please do remember all the good things!

(Hello Jean Paul, Maria, Mariam, Omari, Luis, Tito, Heleen, Esther K, Esther G, Sylvia, Chella, Arash, Bob, Mieke, Bianca, and Katharina!!! And guys, please leave your comments through the "comment" link just below) 



March 11, 2007 § Leave a comment

I was talking to my friend Neeltje about this guy, Vincent. After a while she said, "You really like him don’t you?". I was quite embarrassed that she knew just by listening to me. And I admitted, I do like him. A lot. Perhaps this infatuation won’t reciprocate because he died in 1890. Vincent van Gogh is a remarkable artist, and I’m never going to forget the moment of joy when I looked at his paintings.

I did come to Amsterdam with the ultimate goal of visiting van Gogh museum. There were several paintings that I like so much there. Last week when visiting Orsay in Paris, I didn’t expect to see his works, so I was overflowed with excitement when I found out there were some of his paintings there.

He had struggled with financial difficulties all his life, and his mental health was deteriorating in his later years. Yet he maintained his loyalty to his art.

At first I had only been interested to his paintings. After reading some part of his letters to Theo, his art dealer brother, I was further fascinated. I decided to get a book about him this time, the one showing many of his later paintings. I notice that he’s a hard-worker. In his letters, he said "…(I have to) do what I’m not yet able to in order to learn how to do it". He knew that to be able to do something properly, he must try and do it anyway, although the result wasn’t like what he’d expected at first. He’d always tried to learn new techniques and enrich his style with ones from other painters. He had exceptional appreciation towards the world around him, and his ability to write graphically is outstanding. He wrote in a letter about a trip he did while he’s living in Nuenen, "The sky, smooth and clear, luminous, not white but a lilac which can hardly be deciphered, white shimmering with red, blue, and yellow in which everything is reflected, and which one feels everywhere above one, which is vaporous and merges into the thin mist below -harmonizing everything in a gamut of delicate grey".

Since his early days, he’d used art to show his devotion. "I think everything that is really good and beautiful -of inner moral, spiritual and sublime beauty in men and their works- comes from God"

This is my fave piece in Orsay


You can enjoy his pieces at

I’ll always be inspired by his love for life and his passion. He’s remarkable.

Nijmegen, 10/3/07


gent, brugge, paris in 4 days

March 11, 2007 § Leave a comment

Saturday, 3/3/07: Gent, Belgium

Tough day.

Waking up was absolute challenge. At 6am, it was practically still night-time in Nijmegen. I lied awake for 10 minutes before getting ready. I didn’t have proper rest coz I got back to my place around 12am the night before and had to shower and packed my bag. I prepared my sandwich breakfast, solat, and then left with my bike to the station. I left the bike in the bike parking lot, wishing it would still be there when I get back in 4 days.

The train trip itself was horrible. The supposedly 3 hours journey to Gent in Belgium turned out to be a 7 hours one. The train was different from the info I got from the ticketing service at the station. I missed one train. Then after I got off the train at Antwerpen central the train I should be boarding to get to Gent weren’t there, and someone told me to get to Brussels and change train there. So I waited for the Brussels train. Then an announcement in DUTCH came up, saying there would be no train to Brussel, so I’d have to get to Berchem and then switch train there to Brussels. In Berchem, we waited for the train (which was 20 minutes late), then after 15 minutes inside the stagnant train we’re told to move to another train. It’s another 15 minutes of waiting before another train came, and I was finally on my way to Brussels (remember, the end destination is Gent!). In Brussels I was frantically running to find the departure board, and found that the train to Gent would leave in 2 minutes in a platform quite far from where I was. So I raced to find the train. It was a relief to have the final trip to Gent, and 20 minutes later I got there. The trip was supposed to last for 3 hours, and it took me 7 hours to actually get to Gent.

Neeltje told me to get on a bus to Het Zuid, a big bus stop.  The bus driver lady seemed to be a bit confused about this route, and we spent some time just going around and then coming back to the station. It was a long bus trip! So, when I arrived in Het Zuid, I was very happy!!! Neeltje came to pick me up, then we head straight to the city center.

This place was amazing.

We then met with Gert, a friend of Neeltje to have dinner together in a Turkish restaurant. Great dinner as well. We’re acting totally crazy that night on the street, stopping young and old people and singing to them. I did it too. Heh he… Maybe they just think that we’re a bunch of sweet, harmless drunks. We’re having a lot of fun that night. We haven’t even drunk anything yet. After the crazy terror to the poor (but unharmed) strangers, we went to a nice cozy warm café.

Sunday, 4/3/07: Brugge

The next day I was set to go to Brugge alone and arrived there early in the afternoon. Ooh… and the belgian waffels is really good!!! The sun didn’t stay out that long in Brugge. However the beauty of the place stayed even with the cloudy sky.

I left Brugge at 4.30pm and arrived at Neeltje’s place in Gent an hour later. I visited Gert at his place and just have a lot of fun with him. Then it’s back to Neeltje’s and get ready for Paris the next day.

Monday, 5/3/07: Paris

Tough trip this time because with such short amount of time I really must choose which places I wanted to visit and for how long.

An early trip to Gent St.Pieters station, another early train to Brussels, then the train to Paris. I arrived in Paris around 10am and decided to go to the youth hostel near Republique. I figured it’s near a big metro station which has lots of connecting lines. Well, not that near obviously. With my big bag the walk to the hostel seemed endless. It’s 3 streets away from Republique. I was greeted nicely. After checking in and putting my bag in the locker, I wanted to go to Louvre immediately. But then the sun was shining so brightly, and I felt strong urge to get to the top of Eiffel for the first time in my life (considering that in between all my travel I’d visited Paris 5 times already).  I went straight to Eiffel and found a long queue. So I patiently stood there, alone and anonymous for 1,5 hour, occasionally taking pictures.

Then the I finally got in and saw what it’s really like from up there. I really enjoy it, and spend more than 1 hour there. I rushed to Louvre afterwards, and saw the Italian and Spanish paintings, including Monalisa obviously. Then it’s a nice sunset in front of Louvre. I spent the night around Champs Elysees.

The next day is all about getting to as many places as possible. Sacre Coeur, Pompidou center, Institute du Monde Arabe, and at last, Musee d’Orsay. The places I’d really needed to see. Then with tremendous discipline, by 2.30pm I went back to Republique to get my bag from the hostel and caught my last Thalys train back to Amsterdam. I arrived in Amsterdam at 8pm, and left for Nijmegen immediately. I slept on the train and had to be woken up by this nice passenger in front of me when we got to Nijmegen at 10.30pm. I took the bus to get back to my place from the station and decided to get my bike from the station the next day.

This is the pic I took from Louvre. Beauty is around, you just have to be able to see it 🙂



the ugly mentality of complaining

March 9, 2007 § 1 Comment

This is frustrating. I’ve been trying to look up for the topic of maternal mortality in Indonesia online. This month in the course (still in Nijmegen), we’re given assignment to write about several different topics. My group is writing about maternal mortality. We’re required to mention the different aspect of the situation such as epidemiology and determinants, approaches by the health system, global actions, and specific efforts at local levels. Also, a comparison has to be done between developed and developing countries. The four of us in the group decided to choose Netherlands and Indonesia to compare. I was quite excited about focusing on Indonesia, as I’d always thought that the country is doing well in efforts to improve reproductive health. I once listened to one of our professors in MFDU (FK Undip), and he enthusiastically explained about the international programs that are implemented in Indonesia and they had worked well. I was given the task to find more information on these maternal health programs in Indonesia.

So I went to library, with full spirit and enthusiasm to find more information about maternal mortality in Indonesia and the management programs. And I must admit that I’d expected too much. I tried to search for “maternal mortality Indonesia”. Two articles showed up in Pubmed, but they’re written in 1981 and 1982. Then I tried using bahasa Indonesia, and searched for “angka kematian ibu”. I found a personally devastating result: most of the search results that come up are news articles, even the ones from Universitas Indonesia and the ministry of health. And even there, the articles are all about how much maternal mortality is a problem, how big the issue is, how horrible it is that the number is still high. And I was thrown aback. Why is everyone only talking (bitching? complaining?) about the problem, and not discussing about how to solve it in their own country? I need some explanations about how this huge problem is dealt with in Indonesia, and the only thing I found is how the minister and ministry of health talked about bad numbers of high maternal deaths. Or perhaps, there is no good solution in Indonesia? No good programs, no money? If complaining is not identified first as being excessive and diverting the attention from actually taking action, then less efforts will be given to solve the problems. And without knowing which actions had been taken, evaluations and analyses can not be made. I’m not saying that the government hasn’t done anything, but more efforts should be put into publications and sharing of knowledge.

I expected 62 long years of independence will do us some good. But the ugly mentality of complaining, and not actually working, is what keeping us behind. Today, I learned that about (sadly) MY country.


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