Dining experience in Isle of Man ( Part I )

 

Isle of Man does not have many varieties of food like in London. But I need to explore more to know in detail. Definitely, Oriental food like sushi is not so popular in Isle of Man and so far, I have seen only one shop in Douglas ( capital of Isle of Man ).

On  19th November 2017, me and my friend decided to hunt for Chinese food, She wanted to go to a shop near her house, but unfortunately the shop was closed . ( the shop she wanted to go was called Imperial Dragon, the Chinese food at Imperial Dragon is ok, but it is not fantastic to my taste. There is another Chinese food shop near Electric train station called China Town which I think is horrible, the food was too sweet and too bland  ) We were driving around the town and suddenly we thought of going for sushi, but again, the shop was closed at 5 pm and luckily, we ran into a shop with Chinese decoration near the corner around Tesco.

I told my friend that I am too hungry to find more shops and we should go in. The shop was dim lighted and carpeted the whole area. Surprisingly, although it looked small from outside, it was very spacious with many levels inside. I admire all the decoration inside especially the whole maps and intricate drawings of wall paper. There are rivers, sea, boats and people pictures on the wall. They displayed many statues which are glittering gold and silver and several Chinese writings hanging here and there.

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all the lanterns and chairs were made in China

 

As there was no customer, I doubted whether I made a good choice. Usually, my dad would say “ never eat at any restaurants with very few customers”. However, my thought was interrupted by the cheerful voice from a lady in her late 20s or early 30s coming towards us with a broad smile. She was carrying two menus and she greeted my friend “ are you not working today?”. We found out the owner of the shop has known my friend for two years. The owner Mrs Yang is extremely friendly and eager to give us advice what to eat.

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The shop owner Mrs Yang

I ordered platter with sea weed, pork rib, chicken satay and dampling. For the main dish, I ordered roast duck and my friend ordered sizzling sea basss.

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sizzling sea bass is yummy, spicy and hot

 

 

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menus with reasonable prices, there are lots of dishes you can choose

 

While we were waiting for our food to arrive, we inquired Mrs Yang, who is the designer of the restaurant? She answered “ it was me”, I said “ wow”. I was quite impressed. The whole area gives me feeling of Zen like relaxation although colors are complex. The restaurant is extremely tidy and scented. Mrs Yang said she diligently chose each and every item of decorations at China and brought back everything by ship to Isle of Man.

 

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lovely wall mirrors from China

She was working for airline and decided to start her own business. She recruited all Chinese chefs from Uk. She said  “ nowadays, it’s difficult to recruit Chinese chef as they can earn very well in China as well”.

Contrary to my first impression, her place has been always fully booked except on Sunday. Sunday is usually less people.

I am a good addict and you should know by now if I recommend a Chinese restaurant anywhere, it must be as good as authentic Chinese food anywhere in China. The chef of Mrs Yang didn’t let us down. We enjoyed all our platters, sizzling fish and duck.

We especially like sizzling sea bass as it is fresh, very delicate and spicy. The fish melt in our mouth . Even Satay is really delicious and so are pork ribs.

Here are more photos of menus.

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If you want to make reservation for MRs Yang, here is the address and phone number

Mrs Yang Restaurant

Clinch’s Court, Bank Hill, North Quay, Douglas

IM1 4QF, Tel- 01624-886886.

 

For European food, I would recommend Tandroagan Seafood restaurant. There website is http://tanroagan.co.uk/

The address is 9 Ridgeway St . Douglas, Isle of Man. IM1 1EW

Telephone number is 01624 612355, Email is fish@tanroagan.co.uk

I have been there only once,. The place is packed and it is a small shop. But the shop has been in Isle of Man for more than a decade. The fish and crabs are very fresh and delicious there. Some more, the price is reasonable.

IF you want to enjoy English tea in classic style, I would recommend tea junction in Douglas town center. You have to book for the place as tables are fully booked especially at tea time.

Here is the link.

https://www.theteajunction.im/

The address is

14 Castle Street,
Douglas,
IM1 2EU

To make a reservation, you can  call  on 01624 616578 or email  at tea@theteajunction.im

There are so much variety of tea and they give the timer to adjust the strength of the tea. I really like almost all flavor of tea. For me, the food is just ordinary, but tea is amazing. And the shop is lovely and the staff are very friendly. Here are photos of tea junction shop.

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a book and a cup of tea is my savior.

 

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very friendly staff and well organized counter

 

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lots of regular customers inside the shop

I hope I can come back and write another blog about dining experience. There are many more shops to explore.

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Hninn

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Isle of Man part 1

Past two weeks has been overwhelming with preparation, traveling and coping with new environment.

For readers who don’t follow me before, I migrated to Malaysia from Burma in 2004 and decided to come back to Myanmar in 2016. It was really a painful decision as I really like Malaysia and already have many friends there. I settled in a cozy house which is owned by a lovely extended family and they looked after me like a real family member. The house I rented was only 15 minutes walk from a beautiful warm beach with a forest nearby. I had everything I need there. However, I had to move back as a hospital owner offered me a job in Myanmar where I bought a new flat. The move had lots of tears and regrets as I didn’t enjoy working back in Burma at all because of very unfavorable working environment and a totally different system. I was misunderstood by a lot of local doctors for doing different things.  So I applied for a job in UK and I got a job in Isle of Man. I had never thought that I would need to move to another place after only a year of a major move.  Moving from one place to another place is exhausting even in the same country, you can imagine moving from one continent to another continent.

I have mixed feeling of excitement about the new place and anxiety to face difficulties. I was born in a tropical country, Burma and lived in the same place for twenty nine years. I moved out to my second home in Kuantan , Malaysia at the age of 29 and learned new language and new working environment. It was love at first sight with Malaysia.I always told my junior colleagues that I only had 500 USD in my pocket when I migrated. I was naive, never been to any other countries and decided to leave my country with a luggage and a good attitude. Without my uncle’s help, it might had been a nightmare to start a new life with very little money in hand. But I was well accepted by warm Malaysian people and integrated into their culture easily. I can still say the quote that ” there is no place like Malaysia”. I left Malaysia as I know there are more local doctors every year and we would have less job market in the future as expats. And it was really difficult to leave after 12 years as I love beaches and wild life in Kuantan.

Anyhow I found a place in England which might suit my taste for nature. So, I finally am ready to work at an island owned by Queen Elizabeth. My cousin booked for me business class flight to fly from London to Isle of Man . But when I got on the plane, I realized the plane was a small one and managed by only one flight attendant. There was not even overhead luggage space. So, I shoved my hand carry under my seat and after less than one hour, the plane landed at airport. It was also a small airport and no security check. Mind you, the island is one of the safest place in the world.  You can walk on the street at night and nobody would bother you. At airport, people were a bit curious as I was the only Asian among arrival. I asked an airport staff where the taxi stand was. He said there was only one gate and I needed to get out and stand at exit / entrance to wait the taxis which usually pass by. Luckily,  my friend came and pick me up. I was smitten by the calmness of island. The weather is wet, windy and cloudy. There are lots of mountains.

The next day, the weather was clear with blue sky. I observed mountains where the sheep graze. I walked near the bushes with the aim of picking up berries. Suddenly the bushes shook violently and big rabbits jumped out of bushes. I was in awe.

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Then when I was eating at a cafe, I heard the noises of big sea gulls. Although I am fond of them, I have a feeling that they can easily snatch food from your hands.

It was 12 C even in late summer. Last weekend, I braced myself to walk at the beach and observed some plants tangling at the beach. The water was icy cool and could not imagine to swim.

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There was a tram carried by a horse at the seaside and the horses not allowed to work in other seasons apart from summer. The health of horses are well looked after and when they get sick, the tram business close down until they become well.

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I have not been in other parts of islands where Vikings lived ten thousand years ago. Some legend said the island is linked to dragons. And I keep on imagining these legends in my mind.

Two days ago, I walked across the quiet roads and I felt very strong feeling of connection to the trees. I could sense they talk to each other ” look, there is a new person in this island. Lets greet her”. I also felt they were sharing information to each other. I had the strong sense of being watched and I could feel I am so liked by them and suddenly I became quite flirtatious. My my. I know I am crazy. So, I literally stopped walking, looked up at the trees and said aloud ” thank you for liking me”. No wonder Alice in Wonder Land might have felt the same thing

This morning, I was rushing and saw an elderly lady standing outside the building. I smiled at her and asked her whether she was alright. The weather was cool and it was drizzling. She smiled and said ” oh, I am enjoying. After a few days, fall is coming and we won’t be able to stand outside like that”. She continued ” I was born in island and still like this place after sixty years. Some people like it but they also hate the island for being too remote. It seems there is no mid way. But when I go to London, I cannot see beautiful stars and sky like here”.

Although I was in rush, I stood still beside her and enjoyed her definition of good weather, shivering. I looked up and saw the trees were shaking off leaves.  At least, I am glad some people feel the same like me.

I will write more about island. Thanks for reading.

Hninn

My conversation with the London taxi driver

I think London is a place where you can see many friendly taxi drivers who are driving nice cars. They also try to talk to you during your trip as they are curious to know about other people.

 

I am a budget traveller and usually, I avoid private transport to save money except I need to carry lots of luggages. This morning, I am supposed to fly somewhere from London and I have two luggages with me, each nearly 30 kg.

So, my cousin arranged a taxi in advance. He arrived in time, but not so happy when he saw three luggages. I asked him whether he can give me receipt so that I can claim back. He said he has no idea about that. So, I called his office and he refused to talk to office as he was driving. It was a reasonable excuse but I could see he was upset for me having three luggages. I talked to my friend and she assured me that information about luggage was given to the office. The driver insisted that the office did not convey the message. Anyway, the small luggage was with me in the car and there was not a big issue.

To break the ice, I just said I am sorry and will keep in mind about number of luggage so that I can aware I need a bigger car with more than two luggage. He suddenly realized he was behaving not so nice and said ” its ok”.

 

May be I can guess people. He doe not sound like a bad person, he just seem disturbed. His thick accent gives me the fact that he is from Middle East. I was afraid he would ask me origin. So, I just said I am from Asia and not familiar with rules of taxi in London. He quickly replied with happier tone that  “Oh, you are from Asia? I am also from Asia and I am from Iraq”. I was bewildered and asked back ” are you sure? I thought its from Middle East”. He then said ” Middle East but it also near to Asia”. So, I told him about my previous boss who is a very gentle physician. We used to think Males in Middle East dorminate Females unless you have seen my ex boss. He is such a darling and totally under the spell of his wife. He even told me he wants to buy Burmese Ruby for his wife. I complimented that Iraq is such a rich and beautiful country. A few years ago, I had met some Iraq cardiologists and they showed me pictures of Iraq which are green, mountainous and beautiful.

 

After my compliment about his country, his expression changed. He became melancholic and wailed that ” but you know our oil has been stolen all the time”. He then asked me ” do you know who are Daesh?”. I said ” you mean ISIS?”. He nodded and asked me ” do you know who created them?” He answered his question himself and said ” its created by Americans and Israel”. After a pause, I told him ” but the ISIS fighters are not American nor Israel”.He said ” oh yes, but they are controlled by Americans who follow Israel. You know people are stupid sometimes whatever religion are and these people join ISIS. Israel has to do unstable environment near his country so that Arab will not bother fighting for Palestine. But you know we are not giving up. Do you know what happened to Palestine right?'”

I told him I know a bit about Palestine struggle and how their land is confesticated by Israel. I assured him a lot of people now know that Palestinians are suffering. I told him some Jews do not like what Israel is doing to Palestine. He said.” oh. I know . Not all Israeli agree with their government. but remember the biggest terrorists in the world are Americans and so are the Saudi Arabia. Do you know why US and Saudi flocked together. Its because both are terrorists. Big terrorists”.

Suddenly I kind of agree with him and we both started to laugh . He said how Bush has planned to get into Iraq by planning on 9/11 . Previously, his plan to invade Iraq was not agreeded until the twin tower event.

 

He said ” do you think US care about Sadam Hussein and Iraq people? no. they don’t. They only care about oil and for that, they destroyed our country. We all know that. But our government cannot do anything now. I know Sadam Hussein is a prick. But he would never involve in terrorism.He was just a foolish dictator”.

 

My driver told me he came to London 20 years ago. Before that, he was a wealthy successful business man in Iraq. His extended family remain in Iraq. I told him that one day, I wana visit Iraq. He assured me there is not even a gunshot in common areas and I am safe to go there. I can  hear his pride in his motherland and willingness to invite foreigners to Iraq. At the end of journey, he was wishing me well for my flight and smiling.

 

I thanked him for the lovely ride and he helped me with my luggage. I should have asked his name . I hope that one day, his pain about his country will be healed and so will be mine.

I just wish because’right now, I am still feeling the pain.

Hninn

Why I need to write

When I was young, I used to sit at one corner and narrate things on my mind , creating various stories.  I was bed bound for a few months because of crippling rheumatism at the age of 12. The only consolation for me was books and my  imagination. Sometimes, it was even impossible to hold a book as my hands were swollen , so I closed my eyes and imagined I was in different places of the world. My spirit was high and I had no doubt I would overcome that illness.  True, imagination kept my spirit alive.

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I was a good narrator and story teller since I was young. As a daughter of a factories’ owner, I grew up with different families living in the quarters in our yard. And there were also other children in neighborhood. Our favorite past time was telling a story about ourselves. I started a story in which all children decided to leave our families and go on a voyage. In our story, we built a huge ship where we stored all our favorite food, clothes, and toys , then we sailed towards many beautiful islands. We found out treasures, built the houses, cultivated and moved from one place to another. I sometimes made extra plot such as my friend fell in love with a mermaid. The children kept on asking me “ what will happen to me?”, and I said, “ please wait, I  don’t know what will happen to you. You have to listen to my flow”. And they were never bored with my stories as they were all part of stories. Nobody complained they don’t like their part. How simple and accepting the children are! Sometimes, I made them funny  and they laughed. Sometimes, I made them frightened especially when we had to face storms and monster like creatures in the sea.  When I think back, I realize I was already planning to leave my comfort zone since young, to escape far far away. I brought all my desires into stories.

In my teenage years, I was starting to read extensively until adults started to think I was going to harm my sight. When the electricity went out, I lit the candle to continue reading. I usually read what my mom read and she is the big fan of Khin Swe Oo and Khin Hnin Yu. The authors encouraged the youth to be smart and follow their heart. The characters are young, intelligent and do not usually follow the norm. They wear old clothes, talk fast, read a lot, nerdy and take part in a cause. They are also always having problem with society as they are too opinionated and not afraid to talk their mind out. They are politically motivated, always trying to help the public and are not materialistic. In a way, they are stubborn and black sheep of the family. May be I was kind of captivated by their way of thinking. Until now, I don’t think I focus a lot on materials and fame. I have been always simple, down to earth and usually think what I wear is not important. There are times; a lot of people are doubtful whether I am really a doctor or not because of the way I dress. It is not unusual for me to wear old shirt and shorts wondering around the beach. I don’t give a fuck what people think and I am not in a mood to impress others forever.

Then I started to write literally on paper only when I was in my teenage years. It was my diary where I threw up my emotions into words. Then I turned to pen palling to express myself. Our universities closed because of massive strike by students. During that recess, I contacted various pen pals from different countries and started to write each other. It was liberating and I found out I enjoyed it a lot.  Like Earnest Hemmingway said if you really want to be a writer, you must write regardless of your mood. I don’t agree with him. We can write endlessly, but the quality of our product is varied depending on our mood. Sometimes, I am just too depressed to do anything. I can lie all day being miserable . Sometimes, I just want to sit at beach and look at the birds and tides. Although I keep on thinking a lot. I can be even melancholic and pessimistic. So I basically don’t write anything these days. There are times, I feel motivated to write, get up suddenly from bed and sit at table for hours just because I feel so compelled to write. For example, I wrote about Myanmar’s election only a few months after the event. I cried while writing the article because emotions overwhelmed me.  That kind of thing can happen to me even when I was in exam. I attended Burmese classes with a retired professor. He was a dedicated teacher and passionate about language . He tutored me as a single student.  I picked up a lot of narrative style from him. During my exam, I was  supposed to write about a girl who was from a poor family, but pretended as if she was from a rich family and treated her own mother as a servant in front of her rich friends. I remember I was crying while I was writing the narrative during exam as I was absorbed so much into the story. I literally sobbed in the exam room not because I couldn’t answer the paper, but because my author mood was turned on. And I passed my exam with distinctions in both English and Burmese, while I didn’t get high score in biology. Still, I became a doctor.

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During my high school, I also wrote lots of erotic stories. We usually wrote stories in small piece of paper and distributed among girls only. It was found out by teachers and we were punished and scolded.  One of the teachers asked “ do you want to be sluts?”. Gosh, we were just exploring. I still don’t understand why they thought it as a sin.  One time, I told my friends, may be I want to try writing erotic stories because they are exciting. Human sexuality is so fluid and it is mind blowing. I told my friend, sex is not all about physical and you can play along with your brain. I like the feelings of my cheeks flushed, my mouth dry and my heart starts to palpate on reading or writing erotic stories. I just love it. I think pornography is never satisfying as it is too gross, but when sexuality comes in romance, it is just perfect.  Lately, I have been following a girl’s blog named “ Autumn’s inner thoughts” where she writes about her real experience with dating . She does not reveal herself like me so it is so much easier for her to be brutally honest about her feelings. When I read her blog, I can see her and feel her. She is exposed, vulnerable, hopeful and hurt. It is mind blowing and it is beautiful.

As I write my blog with my real name, it is not so easy for me to write about my dating experiences. One day, I told my close friend how I wish I can write about myself. She quickly called me and said “ Hnin, can I come to your house to listen to your stories?”. I said “ why not?” and we had a cup of tea at dining table and I just hope she had a good time, listening to my stories. Haha.

In 2014, I started this travel story blog just because I was so happy after a wonderful trip. My aim was to record our memory so that I would remember it when I get older. One day, I want to read them back and smile “ ooh, my life is not bad”. And I didn’t have many followers and only 81 people came and read my blog in 2014 where I wrote two articles. Then the number kept escalating and in 2017, I have 1800 plus visitors from 50 different countries including Bulgaria  and Russia. I had to mention these countries as it shows that they searched my article from google and they cannot be from my circle of friends.

As an amateur writer, I am not thinking that I will be successful,(  hmm! sometimes, I hear very little voice telling me I will be, lol). But if one asks me why are you writing Hnin, I can just say that it is because I am happy doing it.

But these are the facts I am clear about myself

  • I am not someone who can be an inspirational writer because I myself can be down sometimes. Some of my friends said they are motivated after reading my posts regarding mental health, but I cannot guarantee that can happen persistently.
  • I can be creative only if I am honest with myself.
  • I cannot pretend I am a role model of society. May be if you avoid things which I randomly do, you might become one for your society. Haha. And please don’t confuse my career with my personality. I am an awesome doctor ( like my cousins always said ), but I am not an orthodox, I have a tatoo and I can go nuts outside the hospital.
  • I will never write just for money.
  • I cannot create characters that are overtly good as that will never reflect me.
  • I appreciate readers who really read my blog. I am telling this because sometimes I have been followed by some authors just because they want me to follow them in return, in this way, they can have more page view. I find this very disturbing. I am always exhilarated when I get comment from experienced authors. They make my day.
  • I will continue writing despite the number of people who read the blog.

Last but not least, I am happy that I can cling to writing when other things fall apart in my life.

PS:  below is my favorite writing quote.

Hninn

favorite writer quote

Walking in Yangon

According to my dad, I have 30% chance of being hit by cars or YBS ( Yangon buses) if I choose to walk in Yangon. He is quite right as our neighbour died while he was crossing the road being hit by a speeding car. He left two young kids behind.I think I have similar chance of getting injuries by Road traffic accident if I choose to be in Yangon buses driven by careless drivers. Some of them even do not have license according to my friends.

By the way, Yangon is the capital of Myanmar, my country which is situated in South East Asia near to India and China. We used to have lots of trees and spacious pedestrian pavement which were demolished by excessive urbanization and improper town planning. There are still lots of trees but not on the road like before. When you walk, you just walk on the roads where cars, trishaws and bicycles pass you. The problem is I like walking and I can do contemplation while walking. Today, I wanted to see my aunt whom I have not met for more than a month. It was 12 km distance and I decided to walk.

 

I live in Suburban area of Yangon and my walk does not represent the popular areas where foreigners visit. But I think you might want to see how does Yangon looks like. Right? And its really interesting when you open your mind and see people differently. For example a trishaw driver who was carrying blocks of ice passed the road without waiting for the cars. And luckily all the cars screeched. He did not want to melt the ice with the expense of his own life. People are struggling to earn enough for living. Still, they are warm and nice and ofcourse insane, sometimes.

 

Their life is hard but its better to focus on others sometimes. I walked in a shop on the way to buy food. Suddenly a lady around my age walked in, gave money for food and left. She was only ten steps out of the shop that the owner told me ” Do you know she married a guy 20 years younger than her. That guy is only twenty and has two kids. I am sure he is a free rider marrying a woman around his mother age”. I was speechless and not willing to listen to a story of stranger especially in negative view. I was silent and embarrassed by their rudeness. Then the husband chimed in ” if you marry late, you end up marrying badly”. I wanted to tell them there are lots of wonderful people who maried late and perfectly slipped into a happier life. Yes, even I can say one of my beloved person married someone twenty plus years younger than her and they are still crazy about each other after seven years. yeah, if they are more open minded, I might have told them these stories. There are always atypical cases out of stereotype. There are always people who do not want to conform like me. I wondered what I can do in case if I decide to marry. I might elope or invite less than ten people. Haha. I was bemused and tried hard to do straight face when they mentioned about unmarried women. They are quite fun actually. I have started to listen to people instead of hearing them. And my opinion has changed tremendously. I do not know whether it is good or bad

 

Now, where I am heading instead of talking about walking. Here are some photos I took on the way.

 

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People are always repairing the road at one side which makes walking more difficult. But I am stubborn and I like challenges. So, I walked on even at the muddy areas.

 

 

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Then there are lots of food stalls, various shops with different prices as if all people eat outside. However, most Yangoners cook to  save money especialy if you have family. Food is cheap though.

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And I love food hawkers who display food on the roadside. I encourage that kind of small business.

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Then there are lots of shops on the roads, baby shops, electric shops , cosmetic shops and car showrooms.

 

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Then it started to drizzle after ten km and I still walked on. Then I saw a trishaw driver passed me and I called him out. I just wanted to give him money as it was raining and he had no passengers.I carried umbrella but I like walking under the rain.  I could have walked another one km easily on my own..

But I got on the trishaw and gave him money happily at the end of my trip. He was happy too. That is the reason my friends label me as the craziest person. I am cray cray and do things out of randomly.

 

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And the money I gave him is almost the same as taxi fare. But I did not bargain as life is hard for them.

Now I am at my aunt house and enjoying my time with her. May be I might not walk many times more in Yangon until our Mayor starts planning safe environment for pedestrians.

Hninn

The pain of being a doctor

My friends know I took up medicine solely because of my dad and I did not look forward to become one when I was a Med student. There were times my professors told me I am exceptionally bright especially when they got to know me in person and wondered why I was passing the years of my study indifferent, unmotivated.  What they did not know about me was I studied previous years syllabus once I passed the exam . For example, in third year, I was studying back second year syllabus. It was weird and odd for a lot of people , but when I studied with the motive of gaining knowledge, I did it better than when I was under pressure of exam.  And I was really motivated to learn on my own rather than listening to lectures.

I fussed continuously when I was about to enter into house man training .Even doing simple injection or putting  a small vasofix inside the vein made me feel nervous.  My nervousness stemmed from the fact that I could have done unavoidable pain especially with repeated procedures due to my lack of skill. My first patient whom I was about to give injection was an 8 year old boy who got a hand fracture after he fell from the tree.  It was in orthopaedic ward and there was a crowd of playful children gathered at one corner and all their injuries were because of their playfulness or accidents during fights. The boy had big brown eyes and he was not afraid at all. The amazing thing was he could feel my nervousness, he looked at me calmly and said “ it’s ok, don’t be afraid to give injection to me. I know you can do it. I am not afraid at all”. I almost wept with joy when my first attempt of injection was successful.  Since then I have done many procedures, sometimes I failed, most of the times, I was successful. I also needed to call for help especially when my attempts to do internal jugular venous catheter were not successful. I used to work in Nephrology and our patients had thickened veins filled with old blood clots , so putting the long catheter inside these veins are extremely difficult. One time, we had to do the procedure for a patient almost two hours even with the aids of ultrasound. The pain of the patient resonated to us and while the patient physically bleeds, we were all feeling extremely sorry for the patient. While I was extremely moved by the courage of my patient, I also realized I might not want to fight as much as they fight for their longevity.

When we worked for the same department for quite some time, we also became attached to the patient inevitably more than we should. At one time, my patient insisted me to go to her house and eat her Mee goreng ( fried noodle ) and I did . It is not only their illness we have to deal with , it is their personality, their background, and how much they look forward to live even their life is full of pain and suffering. One time, haemodialysis unit paged me as one of our young patients collapsed. He was only 24 and had end stage renal failure in his early 20s because of severe hypertension. He was advised not to drink a lot as he did not have any urine output. But he worked in a café .During hot season, it was extremely irresistible not to drink especially you are working and seeing ample of cold juicy drinks. So he thought it would be ok to drink more as he was about to go for dialysis.  As he had excess of fluid,his lungs were full of fluid and his oxygen plummeted. We did CPR, intubation and all sorts of emergency medications to revive him. But it was not successful. The whole dialysis unit wept as if they had lost a family member. On duty staff called out staff at home and all of them rushed to the dialysis unit to say good bye to their friend. I was moved by dedication of my staff but also feel sorry for them . They have witnessed the tragic death of their friend and they had to carry on even with the pain.

At times, we had to juggle four or five severely ill patients alone and the patients are scattered all over hospital. We walked up and down the stairs when we didn’t have enough patience or too urgent to wait for the lift or when it was out of function. My legs were as stiff as longs whenever I came back home after 36 hour disastrous oncall. One time, my friend called me to come and help. He was literally standing between two patients who collapsed at the same time. It was impossible for a person to focus on one patient when he has so many tasks to do. Anyway, we never gave up on any of the patients. We still intubate almost 90 year old lady and kept her in ICU for one month. We did 3 hour CPR for 16 year old patient. We missed our meals, shower time, sleep and we wonder in the ward like zombies with uncombed hair and empty stomach. During our 36 hour oncall, it was a luxury if we can shower or eat three meals properly.

During outbreaks, our duty became doubled as we need to assign extra doctor to take care of outbreak everyday.  We became deprived of sleep and get ill ourselves. There are a lot of things to do apart from taking care of patients such as filling in the forms to inform to public health sector, calling out social welfare, writing case report for head of department and epidemiologist etc. Then if we are not lucky enough, we also need to explain authority who come to hospital and do sudden unnoticed ward round. During outbreak, our leaves can be frozen , that means we have to give up our much needed , long awaited holiday . I remember my colleague and his family had to drive 12 hours back to home as he was called back to medical director to come back.  My 4 days leave to Bali was denied although I had already bought ticket for my holiday as my hospital director thought I should not do such leisure activity while hospital had shortage of doctors.

How about our health? We are also humans made of skin, bones, heart and kidneys as exactly as you. I was contracted with a viral encephalitis, my brain swelled and my body was filled with fluid , most probably due to infection I got out of my patient. I almost died. My friends who worked for emergency departments could not drink enough water or did not even have enough time to pee, ( the advice they frequently give to their patients which they themselves cannot comply ) as they are too busy and impossible to leave critical patients at stake. Most of my  friends have kidney stone, due to holding the bladder for a long time. One time, my close friend had severe pain because of stones blocking his urinary tract and he developed infection in the urine. I had to run and revived him as his blood pressure dropped suddenly. His family was away and when we are sick, we try to look after each other.

We have been abused by family members and patients unfortunately quite often too. One time, I was shouted by a family member as I could not sign the discharge form in time as I was reviving the dying patient. She threatened me that she would report me to newspaper journalist, but she ofcourse could not do such thing. I was also scolded by frustrated family members when we cannot comply with their demands . Most people do not understand we need certain times and tests to confirm the diagnosis and we cannot simply conclude every illness straight away. Even as the head of department for Medical unit, I was still abused by rude people although it was very rare. We have been complained because either we give too many medications or too little medications. We have been complained because we do not smile  and we do not talk sweet. We have been complained because we see the patients either too long or too short. We have been complained because either we do too much or too little. At times, I was complained by family members because I tried to keep the patient for longer stay and the family wanted to bring  the patient back home . After several unsuccessful persuasions, I had to let go as they want to be out of hospital as soon as possible. I was not happy when I saw the same patient coming back in very critical condition. The patient’s look explained everything and I felt like he was telling me “ I should have listened to you”. We don’t have heart to blame the patients because they are the ones who have to deal with consequences of their decision. Yes, they come back at one am, when we need sleep badly, but we still need to wake up and see the patients.

We are also at the stake of physical abuse from patients. One time, my paramedic was hit by a father as he tried to intubate the severely ill baby. My nurse was kicked by a guy as she asked the questionnaire regarding HIV.  But it is not more than the pain of not being able to save the patients. We are also heartbroken when the public to whom we are devoted to are not trusted in our standard of care.

The thing is we don’t have enough support when we are down and depressed. We are too busy even to notice when our colleague has depression as we do not have enough time. I needed to take a break as I was forced by head of department to do so. I lost my patient and I went into severe depression. I was so broken inside that I doubted I would heal again. Many times, I had to get out to balcony to see the sea outside the hospital so that I could breathe and wipe my tears. At times, I was bargaining God to give me shorter life span if He could save my patients. Sometimes, my prayers were answered and sometimes, they were not.

But our lives were not always filled with misery and pain. There are always moments of joys. For example, I was treating a patient with aggressive lymphoma. She was getting lots of complication due to chemo. WE had to refer her to a tertiary centre and after six months, I saw my beautiful young patient , back in clinic, well and wearing a bright smile. I treated a young patient who came with cardiac arrest, septic shock, acute renal failure due to leptospirosis and I had to do CPR, cardioversion, intubation, central venous catheter insertion with the assistance of my juniors . At that time, I was not sure whether I could save him or not. Moreover, our ICU was already full and he could not afford private ICU . So he was monitored in a general unit under suboptimal facility.  I thought he might not make it. After 10 days, I walked towards the same ward and he was not there anymore. My junior told me he not only survived, but also he walked out of hospital well after seven days. That day, the sun looked brighter and I drove back home almost euphoric.

 

I also saved lots of patients who were critically ill, ofcourse with God’s will and guidance. There are lots of counseling about diabetes and my patients have taught me they can do things miraculously even with their illness. I have been hugged, kissed, thanked uncountable times and these moments are as precious as the time, when  I realize how much they became well after proper treatment.

There are times, I am also doubtful about myself when my patients told me I can make them feel better just by touching them. Some claims they feel loved when I touch them and I am compelled to do it so that they can get the placebo effect.  I was also complimented by an old man who was a double amputee that he thought I am the most beautiful girl he has ever seen. I tried to believe him even when I knew he had diabetic retinopathy and was almost blind. Every time, he saw me, he would say “ hey beautiful “ with the sparkling smiles. When one of my patients became too ill because of uraemia, he could not remember most of the things. But when my junior said I was coming, he called out my name and sang the song that I am a very good doctor.  In my patients’ eyes, I am beautiful or too modest, I am fierce or kind, I am annoying or bossy, I am patient or snappy depending on circumstances. But they do know I care about them. I have also sat beside a young dying patient because he was so scared of facing death alone. I held his hands. He died peacefully holding my hands.

This journey taught me a lot of things, my vulnerability, my inability to numb the pain, my heightened emotions as I have so much love about people. I am also broken inside. But I cannot leave because the world needs good doctors. One time, I told my colleague I was quitting Medicine. He said “ Oh, Hnin, you are disfavoring community because you have many experiences which you can apply for the patients” And when my juniors said they became a better person because of me or they took up Medicine because I inspired them, it touched me tremendously because I always see my juniors as better doctors than me. They are more determined, more ambitious and more goal orientated.

At times, one of my junior told me off that I should think about my welfare more than being a good doctor. She said “ I don’t think you want to get rich”. But she is not right. At this age, of course I want to get some money at least so that I can travel.

When someone asked me “ what is my goal?”. I am extremely mad because I feel like I don’t need one. My goal is happiness. I am not interested to get paper  nor recognition. But I want to do what I love . Although I am in denial, I feel that I am already doing what I am passionate about, being a doctor ofcourse.

 

Hninn

Taman Negara , The oldest rain forest of Malaysia

I am recalling some of my memories of travelling  in Jungles. Usually, I regard myself as a xylophile ( someone who loves trees ) and always try to find spots with lots of trees.

I went to a jungle with lots of stories in 2012. The forest is called “ Taman Nagara” which is the biggest national forest of Malaysia. It is estimated to be older than 130 million years and covers 4343  square km. It is believed that there are still endangered species of animals such as Malayan tiger and rare species of birds.

I have to admit that I didn’t go many places there as it was a day trip and I didn’t have enough time to explore the area. I was attending a wedding of my colleagues in a town, Jerantut which is 2 hours drive from the rain forest. So me and my travel partner decided to visit the forest in a short time without proper plan.We drove from Jerantut to Taman Negara and the scenery was very nice along the way.

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Then we arrived at the jetty and met our tour guide Mr lee.

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jetty of Taman Negara

Mr Lee led us to trek, and showed the rain forest. The water was quite shallow that time and lots of birds fluttering around the flowers.

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our tour guide Mr lee

 

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Then we went for the canopy walk. According to the record, it was the longest canopy walk in the world although it was built recently in 1992.

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my friend Raihana, smiling on the canopy walk.

 

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The guide led us for hiking ( I didn’t go for hiking and waited for them at the base of mountain , resting on the bench, luckily I found interesting people , one is a geologist and two are French tourists, they entertained me while my friend was hiking the mountain

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the geologist I met during my trip. He has a lot of knowledge about rain forests and has been in Taman Negara many times.

Then, wee were on the boat again  and visited a village belongs to Orang Asli ( aboriginal people ).The villagers are short, dark and have curly hair. They look more like short people from  Africa, totally different from Orang Asli I found in other places of Malaysia. However, Orang= man, Asli= Origin, so they don’t need to be the same people as different people arrive Malaysia in different places of the country in different time. Our guide Mr Lee said he believes the people are originated from Papua New Guinea.20

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They looked disturbed when we arrived and children were afraid of us. Many of them ran towards their mothers as soon as they found strangers. One kid was so adorable and I asked permission from mom to carry him, but he struggled out of me and I had to return him to his mom. All of them had Tinea infection ( fungal infection ) and their living condition is not very hygiene.

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Most of them were on bare foot as they cant’ afford foot wares. They know how to swim, fish and hunt very well. The guide showed us how to make fire out of two stones and how to shoot arrows.

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the guide showing us how to make fire

But the more interesting part is about the people.

Orang Asli people in Taman Negara still holding their belief strong. They never bury the dead bodies and instead carry them to the deep part of the forest. The spiritual leader called Bomoh arranged the journey and he only allows less than two people to follow him so that they can carry the dead body. When they arrive the secret spot, they hang the dead body on the trees. The place is kept as a secret and only Bomoh , chosen spiritual leader knows how to go there. Actually, like other Orang Asli, they are very attached to the forest and willing to remain as spirits inside forest after their death. After Bomoh has done his ritual, he orders his followers to cross the river for seven times so that spirits will not follow them on the way back to village.  Their belief is once you reach the area of spirits, they can follow you on your way back.

Once they arrive back the village, they observe the nature and behavior of the animals . If the animals seem disturbed or get diseases within seven days of arrival, all villagers pack and leave the village, seeking another spot to settle.

Another ritual which makes me amazed is their marriage. Once man and woman wants to get married, the villagers will lock two of them inside the building ( a house / a hut/ any kind of enclosure ) and lock them from outside for 24 hours. And people are not supposed to disturb the couple. If no one demands to get out before 24 hours ( I have no idea how to do that, they must knock the door or shout from inside ), their courtship means successful. Then after completion of 24 hours, the door will be unlocked and the whole village celebrate the marriage by having a feast.  By the way, as I worked in the town which is two hours away from that village, I know they get married very young. One time, my patient who was in labour was only 12 years old. The marriage was arranged by her parents and her husband looked like he was 40 plus. The girl was crying in pain and we couldn’t even ask her the name of her husband because she simply didn’t know and not bother to know as well. She just asked us to call her mom. Usually, most Orang Asli girls  marry young and have a lot of children up to 12- 16 children. They rarely use contraception and a man can get married easily when the wife dies. The men prefer to marry young girls. Nowadays, the government gives priority towards Orang Asli regarding education and health care. All of them can get free health care and education although some of them are not willing to go to towns.  I have a friend who is an Orang Asli girl and she is a doctor. I hope there will be more educated young people in their population in the future.

Another interesting thing is their belief about spirits. They don’t have religion and they usually worship on spirits. As they live in jungle and live on farming and hunting, the favor of spirit is very important to them. For example, you must pray to spirit of river if you want to have fish, and have to be careful not to piss the spirits of land if you want to harvest. The children have to be careful not to venture at night into jungles as the spirits can make them sick etc. Some Organ Asli do sculpture of spirits out of wood and keep at their house. One time, I went to museum to observe these sculptures. The museum was deserted and to save electricity, the room was poorly lit. I looked at the faces of these spirits and it made me feel scared. I was wondering they might see the spirits , otherwise how can they make sculptures out of imagination.

 

I don’t know whether spirits really exist, but the guides who are educated are also very careful about jungle spirits. My guide told me some tour guides lost their way in Taman Negara although they were not far from the village. They believe it is because the spirits hide the way. And a lot of tourists have tragic events in Taman Negara such as drowning. Let me tell you my experience. We took a package tour organized by a well experienced tourist guide.  We were on the boat and observed lots of beautiful birds from the boat.

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before going for swimming

The tour guide allowed us to swim in the river. I was not a good swimmer, in fact I know very little how to swim. So I decided just to waddle in the shallow water. As I wanted to see the trees, I walked further and further away from the crowed. Although I was walking in the shallow water, suddenly I plunged into a deeper part of water. It really made me scared especially the soil of river bed was not sand and very sticky mud. I tried to call out my friend to help me, I felt like I was drowning. She thought I was joking with her as the river looked shallow to her. But I swear that that time, my legs couldn’t reach the floor of river bed anymore and I was struggling to float. And the current, it was pretty strange that I felt that the current was pushing me further only at that particular spot.  I was drifting away from the crowd. My friend herself doesn’t know how to swim , but she is much taller than me. She waddled and walked towards me and finally her hand griped mine. Then she told me “ how come you look so afraid? The water is very shallow.” I can say that that is the most weird thing I have encountered in my life. After she reached me, I felt the water was not deep anymore. It was at the level of my breasts. Suddenly, I could feel that my legs could stand on the ground. It was extremely creepy.

The interesting part is after I came back from Taman Negara, I had a chat with a colleague about the place, just discussing about jungles in general. She was smiling uneasily and said “ oh, Hnin, my parents would never allow me to go there”. I only thought overprotective parents usually don’t allow daughters to travel far. But she continued that “ do you know that my brother who was a swimming champion died in Taman Negara out of drowning. He was 19 that time. That’s the reason my parents didn’t feel good about the place”

Back to our story, after I had nearly drowning experience, I didn’t feel like staying there at night anymore. I nagged my friend to go back. But she was very keen to stay there and finally I gave in. She booked a night safari tour for us  and we were about to observe nocturnal animals . Around 8 pm, the tour guide came and fetched us to go to the palm plantation area. It was not the deep jungle. But we were at the back of the van without roof. The driver told me to hold a bottle and I thought it was like a water bottle. He told me “ this is the holy water and keep it with you. We usually carry it when we have night tour “. So, I gripped the water bottle tightly with me. We found wild pigs, pythons, fogs and lots of birds already resting on the trees.

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night safari tour

 

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birds nesting on the tree

We spent the night at a cheap motel and I couldn’t sleep well because I had a very unsettled feeling. The next morning, we drove almost 4 hours back to our town, Kuantan.

The good thing is we met a group of tourists who became our friends .

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with our new friends, Tan Richard, Ding and Simone

But the thing I want to tell you is my feelings after the trip. Once I arrived back home, I took out my camera and tried to download the photos into my laptop . The photos were both day time and night time taken. But when I looked into night time photos, I felt very uneasy feeling as if some images were inside my photo. In one photo, I found a woman sitting on the tree. ( I just wish it’s not real and I just wish it’s all my creepy ideas). Finally I shut down my computer and deleted a lot of photos. For weeks, I felt like there was someone with me, especially when I stood in front of mirror. It was very bad until I was afraid to stand in front of mirror. I called my friends and they shared me some prayers.  Finally with the help of prayers, I no longer feel the woman was around me anymore.

Well, if someone ask me “ do you wana visit Taman Negara again?”. My answer is “ No…..”