Writing and Well Being

Writing a blog is not a tool to showcase my achievement, it is a part of self help to improve my happiness and quality of life. Study conducted by S.J. Lepore and J.M. Smyth (2002) which was discussed in Richard Wiseman’s book titled “59 Seconds” explains how writing our experience and view into some sort of “Diary like” media could help to reduce our stress, strengthen our focus and improve our well-being.

In a “Creating a The Perfect Diary” chapter of this book, a question was raised on why would sharing about traumatic event through talking have almost no effect to psychological and physical well being compared to sharing about it through writing. Continue reading “Writing and Well Being”

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Amazing Seoul

It has been months since I posted my last travel blog. Actually a lot of travel stories are ready for writing in my mind so lets start my first travel story since my stay in South Korea – A country of Tradition, Modernism, and fun!

In this post, I’d like to share adventure at Soul, the capital of South Korea. The trip was done in last December 29th to 30th 2012. I had the honor of having my YSEP friend from South Korea to accompany me during this trip. Thanks Koo, Minyoung and Sunna 🙂

It took around two and half hour of KTX train travel from my city of resident, Ulsan, to Seoul. KTX is a super-fast train which operated at 200 km/h of speed operated by Korail – Korean national rail company. Since I only stayed for two days, choosing this super-fast train was the best solution to me.

The travel from Ulsan to Seoul ran very smooth. The train was very comfortable and the sceneries along the way were gorgeous. Since I was traveling during winter, I could see all white winter landscape of Korea. From a quite mountain to a modern city, the snow covered them all in white – Very beautiful!! After arriving at Seoul Station at 11.00 AM, I was greeted by Koo, my fellow YSEP friend. We had a very fun chat about how the things were going after we graduated from YSEP. Such a fun reunion!

Seoul Train Station

The first place I went to was the Namsangol Hanok Village. It is a restored traditional Korean house that is well located in the city. You can find 5 types of house and pavilion complete with home appliance and furniture that represent the life during old Joseon dynasty. During my visit, there was an ice carving exhibition nearby the village. It surely added more fun in this trip.

Namsangol Hanok Village Namsangol Hanok Village Namsangol Hanok Village

The second place I went to with Koo was the Gyeongbokgung Palace. The palace was built in 1395, and also commonly referred to as the “Northern Palace” because it is the furthest north when compared to the neighboring palaces of Changdeokgung (Eastern Palace) and Gyeongheegung (Western Palace). It is said that Gyeongbokgung Palace is arguably the most beautiful and remains the grandest of all five palaces. One of the interesting things is the presence of The National Palace Museum which exhibited many items related to life and history on the palace.

Gyeongbokgung Palace

The Gyeongbokgung Palace is such a very big complexes. I spent more than an hour to explore and took pictures inside the palace. One of the main attractions   in the palace was the “Guard Change” ceremony. It is a reconstruction of old palace tradition where palace guards was changed by other guards as the shift ended.

Gyeongbokgung PalaceGyeongbokgung Palace

Visiting the palace in winter and snowy time is just as amazing as visiting during other season. It is off course depending on which season you like but to me, the scenery of snow and frozen lake surrounded by walls and traditional building was very calm and beautiful.

Gyeongbokgung PalaceGyeongbokgung Palace Gyeongbokgung PalaceGyeongbokgung Palace

The adventure were continued to visit the statue of King Sejong and Admiral Yi Sun-Shin.  Quoted from Korea Tourism Site, King Sejong is best remembered as the inventor of Hangeul, the Korean alphabet. During his reign, he consolidated the basis for ruling the Joseon Dynasty by incorporating Confucian philosophy of politics. Furthermore, he led the nation’s great strides in agriculture, literature, science and technology. Admiral Yi Sun-Shin Statue represents protection and patriotism of Korean people. The two statues stand greatly in front of Gyeongbokgung Palace main gate and are a very cool spot to take good photographs.

Seoul Seoul

The next place was the Cheonggyecheon Stream. It is a water spring that was transformed into a nice and cozy park to hang out and enjoy the cool environment of the stream.

 Cheonggyecheon Stream  Cheonggyecheon Stream

Just after finishing exploring the stream, Koo and I meet up with Minyong and Sunna, also fellow YSEP friend from Korea. We headed to a traditional market for lunch – late lunch – and enjoyed the different way of ordering meals. The traditional market provided a unique way of lunch experience; we bought several replica of traditional coin and exchange that with foods that are sold in the market. In a special facility inside the market, we then gathered an enjoyed the meal.

Seoul

In a snowy day, after finishing our lunch, we went to Insa-Dong, a popular spot for shoping and hanging out in Seoul. The surrounding in Insa-Dong reminded me of Jiyuugaoka in Tokyo where small and unique shops became the main attraction in the area.

Insa-Dong

Next one, the N Seoul Tower! Quoted from Korea Tourism WebSite, Seoul Tower opened to the public on October 15, 1980 and has since become a major tourist attraction. The 236.7m Seoul Tower sits atop Namsan Mountain (243m), Seoul Tower offers panoramic views of Seoul and the surrounding areas. The view is so stunning that many consider Seoul Tower the best tower in Asia. Thirty years and countless visitors later, as the structure was renamed ‘N Seoul Tower.’ The letter ‘N’ stands for the tower’s ‘new’ look, which resulted from a 15 billion won remodeling in Dec 2005. With the new lighting system and changes to the tower’s overall color scheme, event coordinators can now decorate the tower for each new season or event. It was snowing when we visited the tower. We weren’t going to the top of the tower with such low visibility. I will visit the top of the tower again in the latter chance. However, we tried the N Seoul Tower cable car on the way down the hill. Although it was a bit snowy and low light, the scenery was still gorgeous! I got to realize that the tower was very tall when the cable car slides down the hill.

N Seoul Tower

N Seoul TowerDSC_5608

The day trip with fellow YSEP friend was ended in Myeong-Dong – a stunning shopping district with countless shops and restaurants. It is like Insa-Dong, but in a larger scale. We had our stop at a nice coffee shop in Myeong-Dong – I forgot the name, but it was a pleasant and warm place to rest and chat. After another fun talk and jokes with my friends, we visited Myeong-Dong Cathedral with nice brick architecture.

Myeong-Dong Myeong-DongMyeong-Dong

To me, Visiting Seoul in winter and snowy time was so memorable. I really liked how the city landscapes were covered in snow. I’ve never seen snow in a city this thick before, so this adventure will surely be engraved in my mind as an unforgettable moment in my life. Great appreciation to Koo, Minyong and Sunna for their warm accompany on my visit to Seoul. Look forward to visit Seoul with my beloved wife soon 🙂

YSEP 2008

Useful Information:

– Korea Tourism Organization : http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/index.kto

– Korea Rail & KR Pass information (English available) : http://www.korail.com/

Appreciation :

– Thanks to Koo as the official photographer of the trip 😛

– Thanks to Koo, Minyoung and Sunna for the fun reunion 🙂

PS: The Second day trip was to Seoul War Memorial Museum and Seoul Mosque in Itaewon. As this post is already very long, I’ll try to write it in another post. See you!

Trip to Ho Chi Minh – Vietnam

Recently I have had a chance to visit Ho Chi Minh City inVietnam. The city, also known as Saigon City, offered much entertainment and tourism spot for me to be discovered during my short two days vacation. I did spend two nights and two days at the city from April 26th until 28th.

In summary, I arrived at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Thrusday 19.40 and headed to a hotel called Saigon Sports 3 hotel in District 1 (nice and affordable hotel with kind staff). The first night in Ho Chi Minh city was used to explore narrow streets and restaurant near the hotel I stayed. I was surprised with so many foreign tourist enjoying the restaurant and shops in the district.

The first day of my trip was filled with exploring the Ho Chi Minh City, my travel itinerary at that day was :

-Ho Chi Minh City Museum of Fine Art
-Ho Chi Minh City Museum
– Dong Khoi Street
– People Committee Hall
– Notre Dame Cathedral
– Central Post Office
-Reunification Palace
-War Remnant Museum
– Binh Tay Market
– Ben Thanh Market

It took the whole day to visit those entire recommended place. You can see some of the sceneries from those places in the gallery section of this post. The places are a good spot of photography, both of you or the building and scenery.

The War Remnant museum is surely a place to respect the casualties of war. It exhibits various information – mostly photographs – of the Vietnam war victim, both Soldier and peasant, both Vietnam and USA. There were a lot of uncensored photographs of how the Vietnam War was very devastating and scary, really a tragedy for humankind. What we can learn from this museum is that peace is really a gift. For those of us who lives in peace, we should be very grateful for that.

The second day of my visit was used to explore Chu Chi tunnel, 1.5 hours from District 1 inHo Chi Minh city. The Chu Chi tunnel is a network of underground tunnel used as a base for Viet Con to attack, defense, live, and survive during the Vietnam War. Chu Chi Tunnel offered me the introduction to tunnel network, trap used to lured enemy soldier, how the Viet Con lives during the war, and even how the gun is shot. You can also see the surrounding of Chu Chi tunnel in the gallery.

After visiting Chu Chi tunnel, I went to Ben Than market to buy other souvenier and the concluded the day, also the vacation, with a travel back to Tan Son Nhat airport to head back to Jakarta, Indonesia.

I will need a lot of words and pages to describe how great the vacation was. However, I’ve posted a lot of picture to let you see and have a glimpse of feel on how Ho Chi Minh city is a worthy tourism travel destination.

Fire Awareness Training

As my department moved to the new building, I was appointed as one of fire suppressor in the floor. My responsibility for this role is to ensure the fire alarm has been turned on and to try to extinguish small fire accident so it won’t escalate when fire occurred. In order to bear such a critical responsibility, I had to be a certified fire suppressor who has received fire awareness training.

To obtain the fire suppressor certificate, I did the basic fire awareness training at Jakarta Offshore Training Center (JOTC) atDepok,Indonesia. The JOTC has been certified to give several training for oil and gas safety related operation which one of them is fire awareness training. The training was a combination of classroom session and field practice session which took almost a whole day to complete the training.

The classroom session gave a fundamental understanding on how the fire occurs, how to use basic protecting equipment in extinguishing a fire incident and lastly how to extinguish a fire depending on their type. The classroom session was really interesting because it makes me understand how to do best practices in surviving fire incident and why there are many types of fire extinguisher on market.

After completing the classroom session, come the practice session which was very fun and “hot”. Fun because I could apply my basic fire fighting theory obtained in the class room. Hot because it did involve real fire to be extinguished. The practice session was opened by introduction to fire extinguisher tool which were the CO2 type, Chemical powder type, and foam type. Those three extinguishers had different suitability in extinguishing a fire. In addition, the function of fire blanket and its practical use was also introduced in this session. After the introduction, the class participants were given the chance to try each type of fire extinguisher one by one.

A very important message on using a pressurized type Fire Extinguisher (FirEx) was learned that day. Anytime a pressurized type FirEx is used, the tube should be directed outward direction from user’s body. The simple explanation is that CO2, powder and foam FirEx are based on pressurized vessel which the weakest point is the neck between edge of tube and its connection to nozzle hose. Without proper maintenance, this weakest point can break off from its tube and thrusting its hose connection towards the FirEx user. This is very dangerous and can impose a very fatal injury which would lead to fatality as what was happened somewhere in an oil rig inIndonesia.

After all practice on fire extinguisher completed, the training was closed by practice in using emergency breathing device. Class participants were taught to use the device and did simulation on escaping a building full of smoke (although there was not any smoke used during the simulation, the room environment was kept dark so the sensation was almost the same – told the instructor). A class evaluation test was conducted and finally the day was ended by me receiving the fire awareness training certificate.

World’s First Modern War

Setelah membaca seluruh seri buku “Perang Eropa” karya P.K. Ojong, saya semakin tertarik untuk menelusuri sejarah seputaran Perang Dunia ke-2 yang tragedi kemanusiaan terbesar di dunia itu. Mengapa disebut tragedi kemanusiaan? karena ada sekitar 50 juta jiwa tewas karena perang ini (Ninok Leksono, 2008) yang dari jumlah itu separuhnya berasal dari Uni Soviet dan sebagian besar dari 50 Juta adalah korban warga sipil. Perang dunia 2 yang berlangsung dari tahun 1939 hingga 1945 tak pelak lagi merupakan  suatu tragedi yang menyakitkan bagi umat manusia.

Berawal dari seri buku diatas, keigintahuan saya melebar dengan mempelajari Perang Dunia melalui media-media lain seperti Televisi, Internet, dan buku-buku lainnya. Di media televisi, saya sangat menyukai 2 seri dokumenter perang dunia 2 yaitu “Apocalypse : The second world war” yang pernah tayang di National Geographic dan “World War II in Colour” yang saya tonton di Discovery Channel. Kedua acara tersebut memberikan gambaran lengkap dari mulai bagaimana rezim Hitler terbentuk hingga bertekuk lutunya angkatan bersenjata Jepang pasca dijatuhkannya bom Atom di Hiroshima dan Nagasaki. Media video (televisi) memang lebih memberikan saya gambaran lengkap dan dalam tentang bagaimana konflik ini berlangsung.

Setelah cukup banyak menggali informasi seputar Perang Dunia II, saya menemukan sebuah buku menarik mengenai tragedi kemanusiaan lain yang merupakan benih terjadinya perang dunia II. Tragedi itu tak lain adalah Perang Dunia I. Perang yang berlangsung dari 1914 hingga 1918 ini mengakibatkan jumlah korban jiwa yang tidak jauh lebih kecil dibandingkan perang dunia II. Lebih dari 70 juta personel militer dikerahkan dalam perang ini dan dari jumlah itu, 10 juta tentara dan 5 juta warga sipil diperkirakan tewas (wikipedia).  Besarnya korban jiwa ini bukanlah satu-satunya hal yang mengerikan, hal lain adalah munculnya perasaan dendam bangsa Jerman akibat kekalahan mereka di PD 1 yang akhirnya menjadi pembakar semangat mereka untuk membalas dendam di Perang Dunia 2.

Buku “Great Battles in World War 1” yang dibuat oleh grup Majalah Angkasa bisa dijadikan referensi yang bagus untuk penelusuran tentang Perang Dunia 1. Buku setebal 112 halaman ini memiliki format seperti majalah karena memang pembuatnya adalah grup Majalah Angkasa. Oleh karena itu, di dalamnya banyak terdapat informasi visual seperti foto, skema, dan ilustrasi yang cukup memperkaya wawasan kita tentang hal-hal yang ada di Perang Dunia 1.

Di dalam buku ini dijelaskan bahwa pemicu terjadinya perang dunia 1 adalah pembunuhan putra mahkota kekaisaran Austria, Pangeran Frans Ferdinand pada 28 Juni 1914 oleh aktivis Serbia, Gravilo Prinip, yang ingin melampiaskan kekecewaannya atas pemberian konsensi kepada warga Slavia yang menetap di Bosnia. Pembunuhan ini ternyata membangunkan singa-singa tidur. Austria kemudian mengancam akan menghancurkan Serbia dan ancaman ini memaksa Rusia turun ke medan perang karena mengaggap dirinya pelindung tradisional bangsa-bangsa kecil Slavia. Keikutsertaan Russia ke dalam medan perang membuat Jerman juga ikut mengambil bagian dalam perang karena pada masa itu Jerman sudah bersitegang dengan Russia dan Perancis. Sadar bahwa Rusia berhadapan dengan Austria dan Jerman, Perancis pun digandeng. Pada akhirnya, ketika inggris melihat sekutu-sekutunya berperang, Inggris pun turun tangan dalam perang ini terlebih karena jerman jelas-jelas sudah masuk ke wilayah Belgia dan Luxemburg yang dinilai Inggris melanggar Independensi dan Netralitas negara tersebut.

Runtutan persitiwa diatas menghasilkan dua aliansi besar dalam perang dunia 1 yaitu Tirple Entente yang beranggotakan Inggris, Rusia dan Perancis, dan Triple Alliance yang beranggotakan Jerman, Austria-Hungaria. Negara-negara aliansi ini kemudian menyeret negara-negara lain  seperti Amerika, Turki, Australia dan New Zealand untuk terjun ke dalam perang.

Dalam buku ini, dijelaskan bahwa Perang Dunia 1 bisa dibilang sebagai perang modern pertama di Dunia. Perang ini sangat berbeda dibanding perang-perang sebelumnya yang masih mengandalkan panah, tombak, senapan dan meriam era awal serta pasuka berkuda. Perang Dunia 1 ini memperkenalkan dunia pada Tank, Pesawat terbang pengintai dan pembom, Gas Saraf, dan perhau-perahu baja penggempur. Perang Dunia 1 adalah perang perang transisi menuju perang-perang selanjutnya yang lebih maju, akurat, luas, dan terukur.

Memang tidak cukup 112 halaman untuk mengupas sejarah perang Dunia 1 tetapi hadirnya buku “Great Battle in World War I” ini memperkaya literatur Perang Dunia yang dimilki bangsa Indonesia. Dari buku ini kita bisa belajar bahwa suatu percikan kecil dalam perpolitikan bisa berujung pada tragedi kemanusiaan yang sangat massiv. Dari buku ini kita bisa belajar bahwa cinta tanah air bisa memberikan kekuatan yang sangat besar bagi seseorang dalam mempertahankan negaranya. Lebih banyak lagi hal yang kita pelajari dari sejarah Perang Dunia 1 ini. Oleh karena itu sebagai penutup, saya ingin kembali menuliskan suatu bagian dari kata pengantar di buku ini yang saya sangat sependapat dengannya.

” Akhir kata, kami senang dengan keinginan dan niat Anda membaca buku ini, karena dengan ara ini Anda bisa “melihat dan membaca” sebagian gambar dari mozaik peradaban yang kemudian membentuk wajah masyarakat dunia. Ini penting karena sejarah tidak tercipta untuk dilupakan, melainkan demi masa depan yang lebih baik. “

Laruku Jakarta 2012 – Finally

Finally, after ten years of waiting, L’Arc en Ciel (Laruku) will perform in Jakarta, Indonesia. What a long wait for Indonesian Laruku fans since their introductory début as a musician that fill a theme song in a famous Japanese Anime airing in Indonesia, Rurouni Kenshin. The japanese Super Band will perform at Lapangan Senayan, Jakarta – May 2nd 2012 starting from 08.00 PM. Further information can be found at : http://rajakarcis.com/2012/01/25/larc-en-ciel-world-tour-2012/


To me, this is just like a dream comes true. I remember, ten years ago I was dreaming of watching their concert live in Japan. However, I couldn’t manage to catch their live performance even during my previous one year stay in japan and the subsequence visit two year after. Therefore, this “might be once in a lifetime” chance  really cannot be missed.  I gave my full effort in getting the ticket as soon as possible because as expected, the ticket were sold fast. Fortunately I already got the ticket 🙂

This concert will never be possible to happen without the great effort from Indonesian Laruku fan base community – L’Arc en Ciel Indonesia (http://www.facebook.com/larcencielindonesia). Although Indonesia has a very big fan base, the community could unite those aspiration and probably this makes Laruku spot Indonesian fan interest in their live performance and finally decided to put Indonesia as one of their 2012 World Tour destination.

Now,, just wait for the D-Day of the first L’Arc en Ciel performance in Indonesia. See you L’Arc en Ciel 🙂

OHisashiburi… Concrete experiment.

It has been a while since I did experiment about concrete during my previous YSEP study. Here, in ITB, we rarely have experimental research especially for bachelor student final project. Mostly, we do computational research about some methods in analyzing structure behavior of building. I am kind of missing doing this experimental works although this kind of works consumes times and energy.

Fortunately, one of my college friends is doing her final project about fiber reinforced concrete flexural behavior. She discusses the effect of concrete mixed with silica fume and poly prophelene fiber to flexure characteristic of the concrete. In order to get the result, she has to casts and tests several concrete specimens which are compression test, tensile splitting test, and flexure test. She also has to cast her concrete specimen by her own (but off course with the help of technicians)

After knowing that she is doing such kind of research work, I voluntary help some of her experiment and casting works. Even though it is a tiring work, I just can miss the moment I touch the concrete and do analysis of many parameters regarding the research. At least, I can give my little knowledge about concrete experiment to her so I won’t bother her work.

So, I casted several concrete specimens with her and technicians. Unlike in TokyoTech, all of the experiments done here should be done by the help of technicians. Students are not allowed to use the tools by their own since it could risks the tools. The students could accidentally damage the tools and hinder the research progress of other people. As for this step, I forgot to take pictures of the casting works so let’s go to the next step, the experiment.

As I mentioned before, the experiment works are consisted of compression test, tensile splitting test, and flexure test. The compression test is used to measure the compressive strength of concrete and also can be used to measure the modulus of elasticity of concrete. The tensile splitting test is used to measure the tensile strength of concrete. The flexure test is use to measure the behavior of concrete beam when subjected to flexure loading. The pictures below show the flexure test or four point bending test.

From the above pictures, you can see the arrangement of the experiment. The left picture shows the universal testing machine that will push the beam down so flexure crack will occur as shown in the right picture. During the test, the load – midpoint vertical displacement of the specimen were measured using load cell and  linear variable differential transformer (LVDT) as shown in the picture below.

The load & displacement were monitored simultaneously using data logger.  It is just like a small computer that saves data in every period we determine before. It is the same logger that I used in TokyoTech but with fewer of channels. The data logger can only saves 10 channels of data while in TokyoTech, it can saves 30 channels of data. Also, here, they print the data; not saving it to the diskette just like what we did in TokyoTech.

The result of this test will be a graph that shows load – mid span displacement (or some people say deflection) as shown in the picture below. It is just an example so it might not be same with the result of this experiment. Note: The graph was taken from a journal titled: “Flexural Behavior of High-Strength Fiber Reinforced Concrete Beams” by Ashour & Wafa.

It is just so memorable to do this kind of experiment again since now I am dealing with computer analysis of a structure. From this experiment, I once again trained my muscle as well as my mind. Although it will be so bored and tiring to do it often, it is quite fun compared to just sit in from of computer for the whole day, actually ^_^

– Special thanks to Titi for allowing me to participate in her experiment.

– Special thanks to Anders and Seiko for encouraging me writing another post in english ^_^