Tuesday, January 20, 2009


3rd February 2008, a hostel in Chile caught alight, and ten backpackers died in the blaze. A horrible story with a very unhappy ending.

Would you know what to do if a fire started in your hostel? Or would you panic?

I’m not sure I would have the faintest clue what to do and was very happy to hear that Flarebrands (creators of the Flaresafe – portable smoke detector/torch) have put together a free guide on how to survive (and prepare for) a fire.

Some handy tips mentioned in the fire safety guide:

  • when checking in at a hostel, ask at the reception about fire safety measures
  • make a note of exit points when you arrive (smoke is likely to obscure exit signs)
  • remember that smoke is often more dangerous than the fire itself – cover your nose and mouth
  • if there is a fire – stay low: smoke and heat rises, oxygen sinks

These may sound paranoid, or overkill, but building a quick check into your routine takes so little effort, and could save you from what is a horrid horrid death.

Why is fire safety important?
  • House fires can be very dangerous. Thousands of children lose their lives in house fires each year.
  • Check your house for fire hazards and teach children fire safety tips.
  • Every house or apartment should have a fire extinguisher (on each floor) and smoke detectors (in every bedroom). Escape ladders may be needed for upper-level bedrooms.
  • Your family should have a fire escape plan. Practice the plan.
  • Teach children what to do in case of fire. Teach them how to test doors for heat and how to stop, drop, and roll.

What can we do to prevent fires in our home?
Fire prevention is a very important step in fire safety. Check your house for fire hazards and follow these safety tips:

Cords and Appliances
  • Don't plug too many cords into one socket. Make sure children understand this when using video games, toys, or hair dryers and curling irons.
  • Don't run cords under rugs.
  • Make sure night-lights and lamps don't touch fabrics, such as drapes or bed spreads.
  • Avoid using electrical or portable heaters. If you must use one, keep it away from bedspreads, drapes, etc.
  • Throw out appliances that overheat, smoke, spark, or smell unusual. Or, keep them out of reach of children and do not use them until they are repaired.

  • Don't let children use the stove or other kitchen tools without supervision.
  • Don't leave food cooking while you are not in the kitchen.
Small Flames
  • Supervise your children if they are doing art or science projects that involve flames or electrical tools.
  • Don't leave lit cigarettes around the house. Completely put them out before walking away.
  • Don't smoke in bed.
  • Keep lighters and matches out of the reach of children. Children can easily find them in purses, drawers, etc.
  • Keep candles out of children's reach. Put them in places where they can't be bumped off from below.
Nighttime Safety
  • Most fires happen at night.
  • Sleep with bedroom doors closed to hold back smoke.
  • Rooms without windows should not be used as bedrooms.
for more info on fire safety guide, click here

Monday, January 19, 2009


"If you still find yourself attracting sleazy men remember that advances can be thwarted by silence, no eye contact and quickly moving away from the source."

But should you see the potential harm that could befall you should you venture off on your own, I have conferred with my fellow female travellers and have here a guide to surviving the road alone.

Travelling Smart, Avoiding Danger and Dealing with Men

Now before you start worrying about what shoes to pack or whether or not you can live without your hair dryer (you can and you will), the main things that you’re going to need for the journey ahead are: a sense of adventure, some common sense and the ability to trust your instincts. When travelling you’ll be flung so far outside your comfort zone, a different country makes for a different culture and all that. You need to be able to just roll with it. You’ll need to be aware that as a woman travelling alone you could be a potential target, but don’t become paranoid about it. Just be aware. Don’t visit unfamiliar or empty neighbourhoods after dark; don’t carry a purse – use a daypack or a money belt instead; if you’re feeling threatened, scared, unsure, lost, etc ASK FOR HELP! I have never asked for assistance and been turned away.

Also before you leave, learn a little something about the culture you’re going to visit. Take the time to learn their customs and what would be considered obscene or suggestive to other people. Also learn the basics of a familiar language. Hello, goodbye, yes, no, please, thank you. You’ll be amazed at how far this gesture can take you. For the most part, as a solo traveller you’re going to want to dress and behave modestly, this is the best way to avoid unwanted attention. In Muslim countries it’s indecent to bare your knees or shoulders; in the Mediterranean looking a man in the eye and smiling is an invitation to have sex. If you still find yourself attracting sleazy men remember that advances can be thwarted by silence, no eye contact and quickly moving away from the source. If this doesn’t work, flip the coin and start screaming. There is power in a vocal assault, most predators don’t want attention drawn on them and the locals may not know what you’re saying but they’ll get the message and someone will help you. Another option is to pop into a shop or restaurant, explain your situation and ask them to call you a taxi to bring you home or, if need be, the police.

Don’t leave yourself open to harassment and hope that things blow over or Mr. Obnoxious just goes away. Use your head and take actions to protect yourself.

But please, don’t get the wrong message – You need to talk to strangers, to put yourself out there, try new things. You’ll miss out on so much if you cut yourself off from locals and other travellers. Also when you’re travelling in Continental Europe it is much more common for the men to speak English than women, so don’t be scared to talk to a man, just be smart about the who, where and when of it all.

Travelling Alone without getting Lonely, Meeting People as You go

Meeting people is one of the easiest things about travelling. Everything you do opens up an opportunity to meet someone new. If it’s other travellers you share the same sense of adventure and you’re both on the hunt for a new friend. Locals are able to share something more of the culture you’re exploring, while asking about your home as well. This gives you a chance to boast about the marvels of home. (The longer you travel the more you come to appreciate the everyday things you took for granted at home.) First off, book yourself into a hostel or B&B. This depends on your age and income really. Hostels really are for the young or young at heart. But the shared dorm rooms, kitchens, washrooms, reading rooms, chill out areas, etc are just crawling with new friends you haven’t met yet. There are often all female dorms available, if that’s something you feel you need, just ask. The B&B’s are a nice mix, you meet other travellers but you also get to meet the locals who run the B&B and hear their insights on their country, customs and culture. Be sure to pick a B&B that isn’t so busy the hosts won’t have time for a chat.

"If the time difference is a problem, then find a busy, well-lit internet café to catch up on your e-mails"

When you get to a new city take a walking tour. This helps you to familiarize yourself with different neighbourhoods and an initial glimpse at some of the sights you’ll want to explore further. This is also an excellent way to find out which neighbourhoods your better off avoiding and you get to meet other travellers new to the city. You can meet a friend to share dinner with or a little exploring later in the day.

Night times can often be the loneliest hours for a solo-female traveller as you’re often advised to stay in. There are many cures to this. This is a perfect time to make calls home, catch up with friends and family. Hearing a familiar voice is always an instant cure to loneliness, as is knowing someone is missing you. But if the time difference is a problem, then find a busy, well-lit internet café to catch up on your e-mails. Best part is that you get to send home tales of adventure and when you next check your inbox you’ve got friendly replies. You could also catch a late dinner; just try to find a place that is nearby where you’re staying. You don’t want to have far to go if you’re feeling uneasy about your surroundings. If you chose to dine out take a book or a journal with you for company. Another great idea is to book a room with a balcony over looking the main drag in town. Perfect for people watching. Most hostels and B&B’s will have places to relax with TV’s and movies as well. A quiet night will allow you to get up early the next day so you can cram in as much sight-seeing as you can handle.

The best way to meet people is to take every advantage you can to talk with people. Sure you’ll get snubbed by some, but that’s okay, you don’t want them for friends anyway. But the vast majority of people are always willing to partake in some interesting chit-chat.

more info, hit here


Flare Safe

As you can probably tell I have a thing about gadgets,other than toys the gadgets I like most are those that can bring a real difference to peoples life’s (the life straw for example). The gadget to cross my path the FlareSafe could well be another real life saver.

The FlareSafe is targeted at backpackers though is useful for any traveller. On the outside it looks like an ordinary LED torch but it also incorporates a smoke alarm, which may not sound that exciting but it’s certainly useful. So if you sleeping in a hostel and a fire breaks out your torch will sound the alarm and switch on so that you can easily find it.

Another feature of the FlareSafe is a personal alarm, so if need to attract attention hit the button and be deafened by the 110dBA alarm (the LED flashes too to attract the attention of people that are stone deaf).

Thanks to Rob for letting us know about the FlareSafe and I wish Rob and hss company FlareBrands the best of luck in marketing this great and potentially life saving gadget.


Here are 5 ways to ensure you start that journey with both a healthier road fund and greater peace of mind. more info, click here

1. Rucksack waterproofing.

There are many shiny options here – of which vacuum sealing, space making bags, kayaking dry bags, and rucksack rain covers are but a few. So what do you opt for? The cheapest thing that does the job, of course. Rain covers are out because they are just that, Rain covers.

Not only do many of them look the same, which can lead to confusion if your pack ends up as one of a large pile – as sometimes happens if you are on a heavily trodden backpacking route – but if your pack ends up in the drink as you embark/disembark a boat then you may still be sitting in wet underpants and updating your soggy journal the same evening.

To avoid this, line the inside of your pack with a large, durable,
plastic sack. It’s such a simple concept, yet seldom utilised. A well
washed out agricultural fertilizer sack is first class, but there are
many other similar types out there, such as refuse or rubble sacks, that may be more suitable for your style of pack. When full, roll the top down a few turns and fold the remainder over, tucking it tightly in the space between the inside of the pack and the outside of the waterproof bag.

Never again will you worry about putting your pack on the roof of a Honduran Chicken Bus in monsoon season. Instead, you can opt to either rest easy with your latest book or just wallow wholeheartedly in the palpable malaise evoked by shoehorning four adults onto a seat primarily designed for two schoolchildren.

2. Rucksack security.

Sakbags (lockable bags in which to put your pack), Pacsafes (slash proof wire meshes that cover your pack) and Wrapsafes (cables to wrap around/secure your pack) are among the many arrangements on offer to the security conscious traveller. Most have their merits and do the job admirably. Unfortunately they aren’t cheap, whereas I am.

Several lengths of multistrand steel wire (off the roll from many
hardware stores) about 3mm diameter or so and around 50 to 100cm long will serve the purpose.

Fold one end back on itself to form a small loop and slide a collar cut from a length of copper pipe over the two bits of steel wire that are now side by side. Choose a diameter of copper pipe that is snug when over the two bits of steel cable. With the collar in place, simply crimp it as tight as possible in a vice – hey presto, one secure loop.

Repeat this on the other end and you have a ‘padlockable’ strop. Photos of the finished article can be found on the www.ubertramp.com blog.

Make one for your pack, one as a leash to attach your now secure pack to a permanent fixture (such as a stoned hippy on Lake Atitlan, Guatemala), and a couple of spares to see you through.

All these gadgets are by no means impenetrable, but they serve as a good deterrent for would be thieves. It may sound a little cutthroat – but if it makes your pack less attractive than the one next to it then it’s served it’s purpose. It’s a quick and easy method of affording you a better night’s sleep – be it in a 12 man dorm in New York or on thesleeper train between the Thai Islands and Bangkok.

In addition, this cheapo method is a little more subtle than the commercial offerings. It states that ‘I’m not easy pickings’ but doesn’t scream ‘valuables inside!’.

3. Valuables

Most people these days will travel with some form of gadgetry – be it iPods, Digital cameras and spare memory cards, Memory sticks, or other such items. If you want to prolong their life and protect them, then I have one word for you. Tupperware. Procure a couple
of small, airtight containers and the world is your oyster.

Now there’s a statement if ever I heard one. With so many different shapes and sizes available you are sure to find one almost tailor made to the traveller’s needs. Not only are they such an inexpensive way protect sensitive electronic goods and afford a
durable shell for smaller breakables, but they are a great place to keep all the odds and ends that inevitably accumulate after months on the road.

Embrace Tupperware and gone will be the days of hopelessly
foraging for your padlock key amongst the fluff, shards of broken soap and candy wrappers that will eventually dominate the bottom third of your rucksack. To some, this prospect of a semblance of order may come as welcome news, to others it may be perceived as an invasive and unnecessary evil. If this is so, then I will apologise to them in person the next time I drop by to unlock my rucksack.

4. Toiletries

Again, this one is very simple, but extremely effective. Forget bulky toiletry bags – too much space and too much weight. It really does all add up. Three plastic bags do a fine job. One to wrap up your toothbrush/toothpaste, one to wrap your soap, and another to put those in along with any other sundries you may have.

The beauty of the bags is not only the weight and space it saves, but also the damage containment factor should you do have a blow out on one of your bottles/tubes whilst going from A to B. Sure, a plastic bag will inevitably get a little slimy from soap after a while, but they are all replaceable.

If, however, you are worried about the environmental impact
that this may have, then use an existing bag that someone else is going to discard. Cheap and a little green to boot – who could ask for more?

5. Documents.

We all have to carry some form of documentation – passports, photocopies of traveller cheque numbers, birth certificates
and the like. They are all valuable documents that enable us to travel, and can even get us out of the poo from time to time, so its well worth keeping them in good order.

And although we now all have a rucksack so waterproof that we could sit on it and paddle from Borneo to the Philippines, it doesn’t stop ourselves, and therefore our precious paperwork, from getting soaked through.

This is why a handy roll of A5 size ziplock (or similar – read cheaper) bags are invaluable. A passport, a few dollars, and some well folded photocopied documents slip into an A5 sealable bag perfectly.

They offer excellent protection against penetrating sweat, sudden
downpours, and my pitiful inadequacy in a kayak. Only costing pennies for a big bundle, you can take more than you think will suffice thus enabling replacement when they wear out. I don’t know where I would be without them – probably in an Indonesian Prison, but that’s a tale for another day.

Some may argue that some or all of these items are unnecessary. I agree that you could travel without them and save yourself the outlay of a few pennies, but in view of the increased protection and security that these small measures afford, I wouldn’t leave home without them – and for me to choose functionality over frugality, they’ve got to be good…

( The guy who wrote this rather useful guide also posted it on his own blog: Ubertramp.com )


cerita benar ini dikacip sepenuhnya di sini

First of all, my thanks for those who had pitched in for my wedding.

Just want to share some of my experience during my wedding day.

For those who don't know, I've just married Jamaliah, a beautiful Bajau girl from Semporna Sabah last 27th December 2008.

I arrived in Semporna 3 days earlier and stayed in the Dragon Inn, or much more popular with the name 'floating' among locals. On the big day, My family and I went to Pakcik Musa's (Jamal's uncle) place around 11am to get ready. His place was just a few hundred meter from the Jamal's place. Chit chated with him to wait for Zohor prayers before getting ready. Just after finishing my prayers I asked him if I could get ready. Iwent like something like this.

Me: Boleh saya bersiap sekarang ka?
Pakcik Musa: Blum lagi, tunggu imam datang dulu.

Me: ....?(blur) Napa?
Pakcik Musa: Nanti dia datang, kasi mandi kamu dulu baru boleh bersiap. Me: err.... ? (still blurred)
Pakcik Musa: Di sini memang begitu. Nanti dia datang, mandikan kamu supaya hilang rasa gementar kamu tu.

Me: Oooo.... (actually confused)

So, when the Tok Imam came (also Jamal's uncle)...

Imam: Kamu pergi mandi dulu kasi bersih apa patut.
Me: Ok (but still standing still)
Pakcik Musa: ..?
Me: Ada kain basahan dengan tuala tak? (Am I supposed to shower naked? I don't think thath people normaly bring 'kain basahan' and towels to get ready for marriage) Pakcik Musa: Oh ya kan... Me: huuhuhuhuhu (thank god!)

After showering alone, the imam came to the shower.

Imam: Sudah mandi ya? Ok, duduk mengadap kiblat.
Me: ok... (fixing my position)

He went ahead and showered me while reading some prayers. After that it dried up and continue to get ready with my white baju melayu. It started to rain a bit. Once finished, we all went to the car and headed towards Jamal's place accompanied by the kompang and all the 'hantaran'.

Arrived at the destination with my heart pounding. The sambulayang (acts as a notice that a ceremony will be held) looks so big. The MC announced my arrival and some prayers were read. I went in, followed by the 'rombongan hantaran' and everybody else.

I sat inside the hall room and the Tok Kadi came and everything ust went on like usual until...

Kadi: Pihak perempuan setuju?
Jamal's elder sister cam in and pass a piece of white cloth.
Kadi: Ok, kain ini tandanya pengantin perempuan bersetuju bernikah sama kamu.

He held his hand out and i reached for it, and then he covers up our hand with the piece of white cloth. Then he leaned up to me and said.

Kadi: Ini, tutup tangan supaya tak nampak menggigil .

Me: Oh.... (while some of these near to us were laughing)
Kadi: Muhammad Arief bin Suparjo Noordin
Me: Ye saya,

Kadi: Aku nikahkan...................tunai.

I sat frozen for a while, I tought the kadi would do a practice round first, or at least give me a script of what to say first! I did not practice anything because from what I know, different places has different things to say during akad! After the short pause...

Me: Aku terima............. tunai.
Kadi: Tak boleh tu... selepas saya baca akad kene terus jawab. Tak boleh tunggu2.
Me: Oh.. (smiling, at least there nothing wrong with my reply)

So we started take 2

Kadi: Aku nikahkan...................tunai.
Me: Aku terima.............. tunai.
Saksi1: ... sah

Kadi: Tak boleh macam tu, selesai saja si arief ni jawab, saksi kene terus cakap sah atau tidak. tak boleh tunggu lama2.
Saksi1&2: Ok...

Take 3! (third one's the charm)

Kadi: Aku nikahkan...................tunai. Me: Aku terima.............. tunai.
Saksi1: sah

Saksi2: sah

Followed by cheering by the audience. It went on like normal after that, until I was brought to Jamal's room. The imam held on to one end of the white cloth i mention earlier while i held on to the other end. He led me into the room took my hand and put it onto Jamal's forehead. He read something and I was asked to repeat it.

Finished with that, I gave Jamal the 'mas kahwin' and my aunt put the rings on our fingers. We then went out and went on bersanding for awhile. There were music by gamelan players from outside, there were also people doing the 'mengalai'. We were also asked to dance this tradisoanl dance.

The singer will continue singing as long as you're still dancing. So, if you stop dancing the singer will stop. And the other thing, people will be giving money during the dance.

That's what happen during the day. I'll continue writing about the rest later. It's time to sleep!