My lab was planning a sampling trip to Sumba on 19 November 2011 but it has been postponed to 15 of January, 2012.  This postponement is good for two reasons: first, it will give our lab ample time to optimize everything for the trip and second, I get to go to Bali for Christmas with my great friend from college, Matt Creamer.  The planning stages of the trip have begun and I will keep you updated on its progress.  Very excited!

Oh yeah and last week was the first time the experiment that I have been working on worked.  Took two months but I finally contributed a positive result for the lab.  woohoo!

Next week the Eijkman will be holding a symposium that my Dr. Wilder will be attending next week.  He was one of the professors I worked under during my time at NAU.  I cannot wait to see him.

I have started to study BahasaI have started to study Bahasa Indonesian much more seriously these last couple of weeks.  One of key ingredients of starting my new “serious” approach was making flashcards.

My bahasa flashcards

Whenever I want to make flashcards I always use index cards so, I asked some people in the lab where i could get some index cards.  All got in response were baffled expressions. It turns out that Indonesians don’t have indexcards and I found this quite amusing.  It sparked an alternative life plan if science doesn’t work out: start an Indonesian Index card company, multibillion dollar idea I presume.  haha

I still wanted flashcards so I had to get a little creative.  I found sketch replacement pages and bought a few packs and them into appropriate index card size rectangles.  You can see the cards hard at work in the picture.

That’s all for now.


P.S I finally fully updated my previous post “Trip to Yogyakarta” it is now full of pictures and videos.Enjoy!


Posted by on November 5, 2011 in Uncategorized


Trip to Yogyakarta


On the third day of DSD conference I was assigned, along with the other photographer, to escort the 4 foreign speakers from their hotel to the Eijkman Institute.  All this job entailed was me having to get to the Eijkman a bit early and wait for the driver to pick us up.  When the driver arrived, Dr. Safarina(PI at the Eijkman) walked by and told us that there are actually 5 speakers and I could not.  So my fellow photographer went and I decided to get breakfast at the hospital coffee shop, Oh La La; its way over priced but the convenience of it trumps the price.  While I was having breakfast, Dr. Safarina showed up.  She felt bad that I arrived at the Eijkman so early and didn’t get to go.  To make up for it she wanted to buy me breakfast but was a little late for that.  Instead she invited me to attend the Princess of the Javanese Sultanate wedding the coming weekend.  I was completely surprised by the invitation but quickly accepted and before I knew it I was on a train to Yogyakarta to attend the royal wedding.

I forgot to mention, Dr. Safarina is married to one of the Brothers of the Sultan.  Because she is family she can invite guests. She usually invites Dr. Herawatti to the weddings but she was going to be away that weekend and because she felt sympathetic for my lack of travels decided to invite me.

The was my first train ride in Indonesia.  It was very nice, I finally had time to enjoy my books and enjoy the countryside.  Here are some pictures of the train/ train station and a link to the video of some of the scenery.

View from Gambir Train Station in Jakarta

Waiting for the train

In the train

Here is the link for the video;

After 9 hours I finally arrived in Yogyakarta.

Arrived in Yogyakarta


After an over priced taxi ride from the train station, I arrived at the Mutiara Hotel.  The Mutiara Hotel is one of the more luxurious hotels in Yogyakarta being that it’s owned by the royal family.  It has a pool and lots of ornate decorations to go along with the grand staircase and chandeliers.  It was a nice change from my hole-in-the-wall apartment in Jakarta; it had hot water, it was glorious.

That night I dined with the family and had delicious duck and was introduced to Dr, Safarinas immediate family and my ineptitude with names, I immediately forgot them all.  After dinner we went on a quick tour of the city and then went to bed.


I spent half of the day with Sasha, Dr. Safarinas daughter, batik shopping.  Batiks are the traditional formal wear worn by Indonesians.  It took much longer than expected but I finally found the batik I was going to wear to the wedding.  Later I found out that the batik is too short for me.  An XL is what I bought it fits well on my shoulders and the arm length is perfect but too short lengthwise. XXL are too big everywhere else but the length, just don’t have the right body proportions to be stylish in Indonesia 😦

Here is a video riding around on a Bacak( a three wheeled bicycle cart)

Sasha had some wedding rehearsal to attend so I had the afternoon to myself.  I ended up finding a batik painting gallery and spent the better part of the afternoon there.  When I arrived they immediately sat me down handed me a cup of jasmine tea and started to demonstrate how they make batik paintings.  It is a fairly simple process.  all it requires is dye, bee wax, canting and cloth(usually cotton or silk).  You first draw the design on both sides of the cloth (usually cotton or silk).  Next you apply melted beeswax using a canting on the design you do not want dyed with the first color, which is usually the lightest (yellow or blue).  After you have applied the wax dyed it, you remove the wax with boiling hot water and repeat the process until the darkest dye is used.  The results can be spectacular but unfortunately I do not have any pictures.  They wouldn’t let me take any.

After that I headed back to the room and read and went to bed.


I had the day to myself because the whole family was occupied with wedding rehearsals.  So, I did what I normally do when I have free time in a new place, I started to walk around.  This time I luckily did not get lost.  I started down Malioboro street, the main tourist drag in town, and a local university student came over and started to me.  He was a film major at the local art school and he liked to practice his english with foreign tourists.  He seemed likeable enough, so we started to explore the city.  It eventually turned into him giving me a brief tour of the city.  The most interesting part was the local market.  He is a short video of me walking around it.

My friend and I parted ways and I went back to the hotel to relax and finish reading Mountains Beyond Mountains.  Around 3pm Sasha finished her wedding obligations, so I went with her and some her friends to a traditional restaurant on the opposite side of Yogyakarta, a place where tourists don’t usually go.  The drive was enlightening to see where the locals shop and live.

Here  is a video of the Restaurant:

After eating there Sasha and I went back to the hotel.  Met up with the family and went to a steak house for dinner.  Eating steak is one of the very few occasions where you use a fork and knife to eat dinner.  The usual cutlery for a meal is a fork and spoon.  Where the fork is in a supporting role to the spoon.  Its main purpose is to hold food still while you tear it apart with the spoon or assist in putting more food onto the spoon.  I have become very impressed with the versatility of a spoon.

After dinner went back to the hotel and watched a bad movie and then fell asleep.

Tuesday -Wedding Day

At The Wedding

The wedding was between Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono X’s youngest daughter GKR Bendara of Yogyakarta Palace and KHP Yudanegara.  This ceremony is only held for the daughters of the Sultan and is exculsive to guests of the palace and family.  It was a wonderful experiece and extremely thankful and honored that I was aloud to partake in the wedding. My words won’t suffice so  here are pictures and video from the wedding.

Seating area

Seating area full of guests


THe Awesome Ceiling

Me next to Dr. Safarina with family and friends

Me in my fancy batik

Me in my fancy Batik

Newly weds and family

Royal Family

They can finally relax

Here is a video of the wedding party walking back after the ceremony was complete.  Where I was seated I was not able to see the ceremony.  This is the best I could do.

After the Wedding

After the wedding the newly weds head back to the palace and prepare their cariages for a trip around Yogyakarta.  Here is a video of the procession.

A picture of the crowd.  Quite enormous.

Yup, taller than everybody.

After the wedding parade and the reception.  I again was free to do whatever so,  I walked around the town again.  I went to a massage parlor and got a massage, it was great.  and afterwards I walked somemore and eventually got myself lost.  Instead of figuring out how lost I really was, I just used a Bacak to get me back to the hotel.

All in all it was a great trip.

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Posted by on October 30, 2011 in Uncategorized


Disorders of Sexual Development Conference (9 – 11 October, 2011)


I am finally back.  Okay, earlier this month the Eijkman Institute was hosting a conference on Disorders of Sexual Development (DSD Conference).  The conference served two important roles: the first day was focused on patients.  The patients listened to lectures by Doctors and then they asked questions to the panels of doctors and shared personal experiences about living with or having a child with a sexual development disorder.  It was a very emotional day but unfortunately for me, it was all in Indonesian so, I was not able to fully grasp the magnitude of the day.  The second purpose was to bring in experts  and discuss diagnosis, treatment and causes of these disorders.

It was a very fascinating conference, the parts I understood, and I had the pleasure to be one of the two photographers of the event.  I never done formal photography before and was a bit nervous until I talked with my fellow photographer.   He told me his philosophy is just “point and shoot and if its blurry, shoot again.” And that is exactly what I did for three days.

There were four speakers from Australia that attended the conference(see picture below).  One of them happened to be Dr. Andrew Sinclair; who is the discover of the SRY gene(the gene that determines your sex).  It was a unique experience meeting him because I learned a lot about the SRY gene and him in class.  I was fortunate and got to accompany all of the speakers after the second day of the conference around Jakarta.  Showed them the Grand Indonesia Mall and then we dined on some fantastic sea food, which of course was devastating to my stomach.

left to right: Suzanne, Dr. Gary Warne, Steffani and Dr. Andrew Sinclair.

All in all, it was a wonderful experience listening to some inspiring talks and got to meet some world renound scientists and doctors.

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Posted by on October 29, 2011 in Uncategorized


Site Transformation Coming Soon!

Hello all,

Sorry it has taken so long between posts. I will be making some very dramatic changes and updates to to my blog. I will be adding pictures and videos of what I have been up to; which includes more adventures walking, adding the Sultan’s daughters wedding and finding out Indonesians don’t use note/index cards. Hopefully it will be complete by the end of the weekend.

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Posted by on October 21, 2011 in Uncategorized


Why you should carry a compass.


I moved into a new place this week and yesterday I wanted to explore my new surroundings.  My plan was to head east until the road Ts and head north from there and eventually make a circle back to my place.  Well, that is not exactly what happened.  While walking north, the road curved to the east and I didn’t really notice and somehow I was heading south and ended up at a traditional market set-up on the road and adjoining alleys.  The market contained any good you could imagine, it had fish, random trinkets to washing machines and other home appliances.  The disconcerting part of the market was many of the live animals on display, especially fish and reptiles were endangered species.  The people were very friendly and unthreatening during my time in the market.  I ended up buying some precision screwdriveres, a magnifying glass, and a tape measure, all for under a dollar.  At this point I didn’t realize I was lost but I was getting a good feeling that I had made a wrong turn and should figuring out where I am and where I need to go to get back home.  One of te first things I did when I got to Jakarta was learn what tall building were near whwer I lived.  So, if I got lost (like I was) I could orient myself and get home.  That is exactly what I did. and  long story short, I ended up walking for about five hours and will buy a compass next time I go exploring.

The sights and experiences were definetly worth it.  I will admit it was my brightest hour but one I will never forget.

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Posted by on September 25, 2011 in Uncategorized




I finally have everything I need to stay here; research permit, kitas, visa, apartment and an awesome laboratory to work in.  My apartment is awesome.  It is small but what it lacks in size it makes up with convenience.  It is about a 3 minute walk to my lab, there is a cleaning staff and my favorite attribute of the apartment is the magic sack. It is magic because if I put four articles of dirty clothes in it, by the afternoon, they are clean… truly remarkable.

The Eijkman Institute is a trmendous place to work.  It has a rich history and a wonderful staff. A very brief history: It was built in 1888 as a Research Institute of Pathology and Bacteriology an artifact of Dutch Colonialism from that era.  From there it has grown into the premiere molecular biology research laboratory in all of Indonesia.  I am honored to be allowed to work there for six months.  Also, it has been claimed as a historical building so, all the architecture is original, even the floor tiles of the hallways are original.  (just f.y.i, yile hasn’t changed much in 113 years)  The rich history pales in comparison to the wonderful people I will be working with.  I have only been there a week I feel welcomed and treated as an equal.  I am still learning everyones name at the institute and have had the embarrassing moment of introducing myself to someone twice; this has happened a few times so far.  Luckily,  they are easy going and understanding.  It will be a wonderful experience here.  I actually look forward to work everyday, which is a nice change.

Now to the fun part, my few foot travels around Jakarta.  I haven’t traveled far  yet, just as far as I feel like walking.  My first real adventure was walking the 3.4 km to the Grand Indonesian Mall.  I was told Jakarta is very proud of their malls and I wanted to see if it lived up to its title … to put it franky, grand is an understatement.  It’s what I imagine the the vomit bucket for all of capitalism looks like; where the bucket is made of diamond and the vomit is fancy shoes and silk turtlenecks. It contained every possible name brand store you can think of in a 6 story complex of a mall.  There were grand stair cases, arched ceilings, a bowling alley, two movie theatres, and multiple extravagant game rooms for kids.  It was a bit overwhelming to be in there.  I walked around it for a few hours and still have only seen half of it.  The area is so “Ritzy” that they forbid Bajaj, which are tiny 50cc, completely, enclosed three wheeled motorcycles used as a taxi, from driving down the streets next to the mall.  I guess they are just too poor looking.  I was glad I saw it but not really somewhere I want to visit again.

What was very interesting about the mall was the walk there.  The whole walk you are passing all the diplomats and ambassadors houses to indonesia.  Lots of guards looking very suspciosly at you.  Lots of tall fences and barbed while and houses that take up the whole .5 acre lot.  But while I was walking  I heard some music being played on the street so, I decided to investigate.  What I found was a man sitting next to a large speaker with a monkey on a leash.  It was a very small monkey, no bigger than a cat, which you would usually find cute but sad its tied up but not this one.  I still felt sad it was tied up but It was wearing a porcelin colored mask of a babies face, completely destroying its cuteness.  I saw pictures of this on the internet before I left but seeing it in person was extra creepy.  The monkey was dancing but just sitting there staring at me and some of the cars by me.  It would only get up to collect money that the people would throw from their cars for it.  Definitely one of the stranger sights that I have seen so far this trip.

On a more positive note, I found a little restaurant near my place run by a family that I really enjoy.  The people don’t speak any english but really enjoy having me around.   The extent of communication has been deciphering each others names, by decipher I mean me trying to say it, horribly mispronouncing it and them all laughing at me until, I eventually get it.  Its a place I plan to visit quite often because the people seem genuine and when I finally have some basic Indonesian under my belt, it will be nice to get to know them.

ta-ta for now.

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Posted by on September 11, 2011 in Uncategorized


I have arrived

I finally made it and I will start posting on a regular basis.  Traveling halfway around the world turned out to be easier than I expected (it helped that no one sat next to me so, I had three to myself).  I flew Singapore Airlines (highly recommend), first off, the Singapore girls lived up to all expectations, extremely helpful and quite attractive as well. haha.  The inflight movies were great and other than fatigue from sitting for so long and getting dehydrated, I had no complaints.  It took 28 hours due to the peculiar rout, Houston to Moscow to Singapore to Jakarta but the short layover in Moscow has inspired me to one day travel there(I liked the colorful roofs I saw while landing).  Finally, I arrived in Jakarta on September 1.

After landing, I got a taxi to my hotel, an experience in itself due to their driving style and they drive on the opposite side of the road.  Once I got to my hotel I slept, wasn’t planning on it because I was meeting a colleague that evening but I laid down and slept through her phone call to the next morning.  oops.  Luckily she was very understanding and we had a lovely lunch the next day.  The next couple of days I have been catching up on sleep and doing some exploring around the my hotel.  I can only walk around for a couple of hours because the poverty in the city is much more emotionally draining than I expected (will go into more detail in a later post).

I start at the Eijkman Institute tomorrow and will finally begin my internship.  Will comment tomorrow on how it goes.



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Posted by on September 4, 2011 in Uncategorized