Week 7. My childhood memories.

Childhood = age span ranging from birth to adolescent. 


Birth, toddlerhood, play age.

Uhm… I can’t remember anything, really. My mom said I was an easy going lil girl, easy to handle, very calm. No fuss. Mom loved to take me to anywhere because I would not bother her or anyone else. How cool I was, huh? Haha… 

School age

Not many that i can remember. But I know I used to love teaching younger kids from the neighbourhood, pretending I was the teacher 😁. I always wanted to be a teacher. Unfortunately, I don’t formally work as a teacher now 😂.

I loved to exchange letters back then. I had several pen pals but my best pen pal was Ita. She lived in Lhokseumawe. We met in Banda Aceh for a science competition when we were in grade 5. We wrote each other for seven years. We stopped writing letters during the era of internet, haha… I mean when email was becoming very popular to connect each other. But the feeling was different… We didn’t write that often anymore. We remain good friend, though.


I knew I was in puberty when I had a crush on someone at school, hahaha… Hormones? Of course, it was the year when I had my first period. I was crazy about him, but in silence. I wasn’t very outspoken in terms of telling personal stuffs. I was happy even to have seen him from the far… He didn’t know I liked him though. Not a bit. 

I had quite some stories about this kind of one sided love, haha. I guess I enjoyed being a secret admirer. I wasn’t very pretty. I wore teeth braces, my teeth were all over the place, haha. So I wasn’t very confident back then. Especially because most of the guys I liked were popular guys. They wouldn’t even look at me. One of the guys I liked had said once, right on my face, “pissed off”. What??? I wasn’t stupid though. I hated him then, haha…

One interesting thing about this love thingy, I once dreamt of having a husband named Ihsan. Why? Because some couples in our neighborhood had similar names with their spouses. In front of my house, there were Mr. Hasan and Mrs. Hasanah. Then, at the next block there were Mr. Jamil and Mrs. Jamilah. They were romantic couples. So, they had inspired me to find a husband with similar name, haha. How stupid was that? Anyway, guess what’s my husband’s name? Ihsan… Haha, a man version of my name, Issana. Yes, i finally found the one. My husband legal name is Irsal, but it’s his new name. His parents changed it when he was in high school because he was easily ill all the time. It’s common in our culture to change name when a kid is always sick. His former name was Ihsan. Family and relatives, even his neighbours, still call him Ihsan until now.

Well, I had a happy childhood. Maybe I’ll write about it in other post, when I remember 😄.


Week 6. 10 years from now.

Just a reminder, I am writing this as part of the 52 blog challenge initiated by Britt’s Daily Dose and her friend. You can join, too. Put the banner below on your post and link it to them.

Okay… 10 years from now…

1. I will probably have added one or two more children by then 😄. My husband and I have decided not to involve with any kind of contraception. We are aware of family planning, though. We’ll be happy with as many children given to us. Insha Allah. 

2. I will have graduated from PhD program 😁. Can I get an amen to that? My focus this year is to prepare the proposal and find a suitable supervisor. I am planning to apply the program next year. If things go as they should, I will have finished it in 5 years time. So, in 10 years I’ll be more prominent in my field of expertise.

3. I will have been still living in here, hometown, Aceh. It’s true that I always have the dream to live abroad, but temporarily. I will always come back here 😄. 

4. I will have ticked all the bucket list in here.

Uhm… What else? 

5. This sounds cliché but I wish I will be a better person within ten years time. A more patient mother, a more loving wife, a more devout Muslimah. If now I tend to only do the mandatory worships (like do the five time obligatory prayers, fasting during ramadhan, etc), later I want to exercise more sunnahs practiced by Muhammad (peace be upon him). 

Okay. Five should be enough 😁. See, i am trying not to miss another week here… Haha.

Week 5. My favorite holiday. Road trip to Berastagi part 1.

Hehe… My week 5 post is not right on time, again. 

Better late than never, right 😄.

Anyway, I was about to write our vacation in Langkawi as my favourite holiday but it was actually a honeymoon getaway. So, no… holiday and honeymoon should be different, right? 

I decide to write about our recent family road trip to Berastagi. For the sake of documenting it 😄. We were on the road for a week, starting from Thursday, April 26th to Wednesday, May 3rd 😁. Quite long, hah. The trip included several visits to relatives’ houses.


The trip started. I woke up at 4.30am, packed our bags, cleaned the house, prepared meals and snacks, showered, prayed subuh, and got everything ready by 6.30am. We even had breakfast before departing just to save a bit of time on the road later. K was the last thing we brought into the car. He was still sleeping, which was good for us… not to be bothered by the toddler while getting ready 😄. It was all right according to the plan. We hit the road by 7.15am. But wait, we forgot to turn off the water pump machine so we drove back home to do that. We actually hit the road at 7.30am.

Road trip troops. Ups, toddler is not in the car seat 😂. Guilty as charged.

The trip was okay. Nothing really bothered. K enjoyed the trip, no fuss at all. We brought his books and toys so he played with them along the way. We sang together when he got bored. Sometimes he sat on my lap and we pretended there was Burqa Avenger spying on us on the road…haha. Burqa Avenger is a Pakistani animated television series that K kinda like. 

We stopped quite frequently in several gas stations, just to have a bit of rest, and also to have K go pee. He is diaper free now but we have to make sure he pees every 3-4 hours. Other than that, we stopped in Lhokseumawe for lunch and in Kuala Simpang for early dinner. It took all 13 hours to get to Pangkalan Brandan, our first destination. We arrived at 8.30pm at my in laws’ house, bang Ijal and kak Asni. K and I prepared ourselves to sleep right away while my husband catched up with his brother until a bit later.


We spent two days here in Brandan. Two months ago, Kak Asni had quite a terrible accident that caused her right hand to be amputated. My husband had visited her twice when she was in the hospital in Medan, but at the time she was still in a state of coma. That’s why we decided to see her again as part of our trip, to give a bit of company to the family.

She is doing well, obviously a lot better than before. She was already practicing to do stuff like preparing breakfast and some minor cleaning with her left hand. Though her moves are considerably slower than usual, overall her improvement is amazing. We are so happy for her and the family. 

There was not so much to see in Brandan. Apart from being with our relatives, we only went for city sight seeing and tried some good food recommended by Kak Asni. We tried noodle soup Tanjung Pura, which was really yummy. The soup is thick and very tasty. I think they made their own noodle that make it even more special. If you pass by the eastern coast of North Sumatera-Aceh, it’s worth stopping by the restaurant. I couldn’t remember the name but it’s located right in the heart of Tanjung Pura market. Just see the most crowd noodle kiosk… That would be it. 

Pangkalan Brandan is a small city. It’s part of Langkat District, North Sumatera. The city was once famous for the oil. Indeed, almost all areas along the eastern coast of North Sumatera-Aceh were oil rich, but Brandan was the first oil explored in Indonesia. The quality of the city is not very satisfying. There is not much left from a city that, once, was one of the main supporters of Indonesia’s development. Pertamina housing complex is degrading in both quantity and quality. There are only around 40 households living in the complex (back in the 90s there were about 2,500 households), including my brother in law who is currently waiting for transfer. Houses are collapsing, lots of them are destroyed by Pertamina to avoid taxes. Parks are abandoned, including the golf course. Pity, really. I hope the government would acquisite the lands for better uses.


We left Brandan for Medan on Sunday. To Medan, it only took 3 more hours. We actually planned to go straight to Berastagi that day but it was a long weekend season we couldn’t book any hotel. You know, with toddler, you can’t just go and stay at random places which might be uncomfortable. So, yeah… We stayed over night in Medan at my another in law’s house and headed Berastagi the next day.

My husband’s sister lives in Jakarta, so no food whatsoever was available in the house…haha. We spent the whole day in Centre Point mall, had lovely lunch at Nelayan and stomach-full dinner at Sederhana Padang Food, then headed back home to have early rest. 

K loves the dimsums here. This is the second pot, not the last one 😎😎


We were already on the road at 6.30am. As usual, K was still sleeping. The road was great, traffic free!! We arrived around 8.30am and had breakfast at H. Ngadimin’s wajik and pecal. The place was full packed of people, mostly of those who had stayed for the weekend and ready to go back. No wonder it’s always crowd, the food was great with good prices. 

Then, we went to Lumbini park. This is where the great Pagoda located. I would say this is a must visit place in Berastagi. The park is really nice with pathways full of flowers and trees. Super clean. They don’t allow any food and drinks from outside and provide food stall instead for people to snack (only in there), all to keep the place litter free. 😍😍😍. Despite the pretty park, the most special is the landmark itself, the Pagoda. It’s the replica of Shwedagon pagoda in Myanmar and the second highest pagoda outside Myanmar.

Posing in front of the pagoda. The pagoda park consists of 1 main pagoda, 8 small pagoda, 1 ashoka pillar, and 4 sakyamuni budha statues made from the green jade of Myanmar.

K and abi walking through the pathways. Dad was happy to see beautiful scenery and fresh air. K was not enjoying that much, haha.

Still an hour before check-in time, we decided to have a look at the fruits and flowers market in the heart of Berastagi city. The place was not very organized and clean, and smelly of horses 😥. I wish our government had handled tourism area like this more seriously, especially because Berastagi is very close to Danau Toba, one of the main tourism destinations in Indonesia. Just behind the market, there is Taman Mejuah-juah, a small okay park with nothing inside. Pity… Since we had to pay for entrance and get an unattractive park, haha. Not expensive, but I thought the retribution should be used, at least to maintain it. Compared to Lumbini park, which was free by the way, Mejuah-juah is… I don’t even know the right word to explain how different they were.

At Mejuah-juah park. Not a well maintained park with broken playground equipments.

Yeay.. finally ride the cart 😍😍

Anyway, K had fun in here because there were horses everywhere 😁. We rode a horse cart. It was a bit rainy that we didn’t allow him to ride the horse. K was happy… This was all he had wanted from he whole trip, hahaha.

Tired. We finally checked in the hotel.

-to be continued-

    Week 4. Top 5 places I’d like to visit.

    I tried not to miss week 4, but we were on family road trip for almost a week. It was a family vacation, so I didn’t really work on anything including blogging 😁. 

    Okay, here we go, top 5 places I’d like to visit.
    1. Mecca, Saudi Arabia

    Pilgrimage in Mecca. 

    Obviously, this is a religious pilgrimage for Muslims around the world. We have to do it at least once in our lifetime if we’re physically and financially capable. Well, I am physically fit but not yet financially 😮. My husband and I are saving money to register for Hajj, hopefully next year. Here in Indonesia, once you’ve registered, you still have to wait in line, for about 5-8 years, to go Hajj. Yes… That long 😥. Except, of course, you could cut the waiting line up to 5 years by paying triple of the amount needed for regular Hajj. Which… Apparently is not our option, hehe.   

    Anyway, you can learn some facts about Hajj in here.

    2. Oliena (NU), Sardegna, Italia

    Oliena, a beautiful village near to Nuoro. My so called second home 🙂

    I had been there in 2001-2002 for an exchange program where I stayed with a warm and tolerant family, la famiglia Fele. I went to school at the nearest town, Nuoro, 20 minutes by bus from Oliena. I had good memories in here. Good friends, very nice family, friendliest AFS volunteers… Overall a really great experience. 

    I have always wished to go back there to visit my host family since the very first day I returned to Indonesia. So, yes… As soon as I discharge the religious pilgrim mandatory, my next goal is to pay a visit to Sardegna 😄. Visiting my family.

    3. Malang, Indonesia

    People would think that this is the most possible destination I can reach in the near future since it’s located in Java, Indonesia.

    Well, yes it’s in the same country. But Sumatra and Java are pretty far away. The place where I live is a lot closer to Kuala Lumpur or Singapore, haha. So, it’s quite a challenge to go to Malang. 

    I left half of my heart there. The breezing city i have always missed 😄. Malang.

    I spent 5 years living in Malang as a university student. I love the city… It’s an okay size city, not too crowd but dense enough. The weather is cool, mostly in the early morning. I always remember how cold it was during my first days in Malang, when I had to rush myself going to the orientation ‘massacre’ program at uni, every day for almost a month. The city is full of memories :). College life stories, love stories… Lots of laughs and tears in here. 

    Every streets in Malang will bring a nostalgic feeling.  So, I’d love to visit the city again, to do some nostalgic walks, hehe. I miss my friends in Malang, too. I love to meet them again, dearly.

    4. Turkey

    For no particular reason, I have always wanted to visit Turkey. Anywhere in Turkey. I guess it’s more because I like history and Turkey was a crossroad for many civilizations. One of the oldest urban settlements was there. The Greeks, Byzantines, the Romans, the Ottomans had all set foot in Turkey. Not to mention the arts and cuisines… Uhm, let’s go to Turkey 😁. 

    5. Nordic countries

    I guess I am interested in Nordic countries due to my unfamiliarity towards them. I want to experience a completely different feel to what I usually have in here, the tropical country of Indonesia. The super cold weather, the super white people, the super different taste of food, the contrast landscapes I could never see here in the equator… Everything unusual to my eyes I would expect to see there.

    Week 3. Meet my family.

    Whoaaa, i missed week 3. 

    Anyway, MEET MY FAMILY!! 

    I have three families now. First is, of course, the so-called my birth family, the Burhan. Second is my host family in Sardegna to whom I also consider as family, the Fele. Third is my own little family, the Ambia. However, I am gonna write only the first one here. I’ll write the other twos later.


    There are six of us in the family; my dad, my mom, my two sisters and my brother. All of us live in Banda Aceh, except my brother who lives temporarily in the Netherlands with his wife and children. All of us are married. My parents have seven grand children now 😄. Three from my elder sister, one from me, two from my brothers, and one from my baby sister. 

    Both my parents work as civil servants. My dad lectures in the university and my mom teaches at high school. They’ll be retired in a couple of years. Our parents are kind of moderate although basically they applied a faith-based parenting style. We learn about Islam pretty early and grow with it spiritually, I think. Each of us had our own questioning when we were older, but I guess the roots my parents had cultivated made us turn back to our faith whenever we’re in doubts. I am not saying we’re religious, though.

    I am grateful to be their child. At least, I personally think they kind of succeed in preparing us some basic life skills. Not everybody can make their own meals, right? We, at least, can. Even my brother cooks better than his wife. Not everybody can advocate for themselves, right? We, at least, don’t ask how to write a CV to our parents or request an internship in my parent-collegue’s office. What about taking public transportation? Uhmm… interestingly I found some people who could not ride a bike and could not take a bus or train. See, these what I meant by basic life skills. I am happy that I can be independent enough to take care of my own business. Thanks to my parents😁.  

    Anyway, I am the second child of the family. However, not in accordance with the finding that says second-borns are more likely to rebel, I am the one who conforms more than any of my other siblings. I always think my sisters and brother had a more fun teenage time. They tried things I didn’t dare to try, haha. I was always the good girl in the family. I probably was the only one who had never got beaten (unfortunately, yes, my dad did this sometimes, but don’t get him wrong…  he was totally sober and in control of his action when he did that, never left bruises. Imho, it was just his way of giving timeout, to make us think twice about our action). 

    I was very close with my elder sister as we shared room for almost six years. We were only two years apart, so I practically looked up to everything she did. She played basket ball, so did I. She liked roller blade, I wanted to practice the same. She went to her friend’s house, I also hanged out with them…haha. We even shared the same clothes. She was very pretty (until now, of course) and very popular. Although we differed in a lot of ways when I was in the last year of junior high (when i decided to have my own identity; played with my own friends, joined badminton instead of fencing – she was an epee athlete, enjoyed reading than hanging out in cafes, etc), I always admired her as a sister. Especially now, I am proud to have such a strong and patient soul as a sister. Her evolution to be a better person, her hard efforts for her family and her virtue of patient towards those who back-stabbed her, will always teach me how to be a mindful person.  

    Next is my forever competitor, my brother. Not really a sibling rivalry, though, since we have different interests and personalities. It’s just we always tend to have the same goals at the same time. I am just a year older than him, plus we’re in the same level of education (I had to repeat my final year of high school upon my exchange program in Italy). So, yes… it seems like we’re always competing against each other. This is not easy, by the way, since my brother is such a smart ass, haha. He’s a more voracious reader than me, waaaayy more creative and imaginative than me (I drew chicken and he sketched a lady, see the difference? haha), a statistics whiz, and talented in music. I remember we both learned how to play guitar in our pre-teens. I got the privilege to learn guitar with a private tutor. But guess who mastered it autodidactly? My brother. I learned so hard to get in ITB (best engineering school in the country), but I ended up in Brawijaya University. He aimed for UGM but ended up at UI (the best university in Indonesia). He finished his college and master degree earlier than me. He is now on his way pursuing a PhD degree. Intellectually, he might be better than me but emotionally I am a lot mature, wiser and more stable. He is waaaay feistier than me, very sensitive for a man, haha. Anyway, no matter how competitive we are as sibling, we always turn to each other when we’re in difficulties. We were always on our long night talks on the phone, chatting whatever, from college romance to marxism. My brother was a best friend during my post-teen to adulthood. 

    The baby in the family is my little sister, Dian. She’s very social, outgoing, and the most helpful around the house. She has lots of friends and knows very well how to maintain a good friendship. Even until now, she still hangs out with different friends while I only hang out with only a certain group of friends 😥. She will always still be available to pick up her friends from other town, no matter if it’s at night or early in the morning. She’s the type of person who would accompany her friends in the hospital. She would take her chidren’s friends home if necessary. At home, she’s the most important child to my mom. Anything… from cleaning the house, chauffeuring my mom to anywhere, taking care of family documents to depositing money in the bank. Even if I am at home, my mom would still ask her to do things 😁. Sometime she forgot she has three other children to help because just Dian is enough. She is, indeed, a helpful person. I always wanted to try to be more like her. In reality, it’s very hard to put other people on top of your priority. Or maybe I am just too selfish 😥.

    Last pic of us before the departure of my brother to Netherlands. At the beach 😄. Front to back: Dian, me, my brother’s wife, my sister, my brother.

    So… that’s my family 😁. What about yours? 

    Week 2. My favourite things.

    I am on my way back to Banda Aceh. Have half an hour before boarding, so I thought I follow up my 52 week blog challenge, which was inspired by Britt’s Daily Dose and her friend.

    So week two… My fave things!!

    1. Alanis Morissette 😍😍.

    My all time fave female artist.

    I started listening to Alanis in 1995 when Jagged Little Pill was very popular. Head over feet, hands in my pocket, you learn, perfect… I love all songs in the album. My sister got the cassette (yeah, that was still the cassette era 😄) from her boyfriend and I got the privilege to play it, of course, plus memorize all the lyrics. I started buying and collecting Alanis’ CDs in high school. That was when Under Rug Swept was out and Hands Clean was on every music charts. Since then, I have the So called chaos, feast on scraps, flavors of entanglement, and havoc and bright lights. I even rebought Jagged little pill and supposed former infatuation junkie.  

    What I love most about Alanis is her lyrics. Of course I didn’t have any idea what the lyrics were about when I was younger, but as I passed my teen years, I had quite a connection with her lyrics. I felt like she spoke of my life like she had experienced it before (I know I know, this is exaggerating 😆, but…). I also enriched my english vocabularies and phrases through her lyrics. I would look in the dictionary for the meaning of words or phrases I didn’t know. I always think that Alanis uses language in interesting and unusual ways, very innovative. Including stuffs she writes in her blog, too. I’ll quote her to express how I feel about my favourite female artist 😍.

    Expressed women shall lead all cavalries to the truth and the narrow of life. And if not that, they will warm you with their velvet voices and soulful cries. And if not that, they will make you think. And feel. And surrender. And if not that, they will make you weep for their beauty. 

    2. Melbourne.

    I probably spent most of my time in Melbourne, here in Sydney Rd. From biking to uni, walking to the park, shopping groceries, taking trams to everywhere, or just hanging out at beautiful cafes in the surrounding.

    I like Melbourne. I was 11 yo when I first went to the city. My dad studied there and we lived in Melbourne for two years. I had nice memories of life in there, despite the fact that I was bullied a lot in primary school. Since our return to Indonesia, I had always wished to go back.

    I had the opportunity to live again in Melbourne for graduate school. Same as before, for two years. I love the city. I love the crowds in Swanston st, in the Fed square. I love the tranquil beaches in the outskirt area of Victoria. I love the large pedestrian way everywhere. I love the beautiful parks which you can find almost anywhere. I especially love my neighbourhood in Moreland, Coburg 😄. Again… I enjoyed Melbourne so much I want to go back and live there for the third time. Maybe for a PhD??  😁. Ameen to that.

    3. Lasagne.

    Imho, the best lasagne is the ones with classic italian sauce ‘succo pomodoro fatta in casa’ 😍

    Lasagne is absolutely delicious. But the best lasagne I’ve ever eaten was the ones made by mia mamma Italiana and by Adriana, my chaperone during my AFS experience in Italy. They made it with succo di pomodoro, italian classic tomato sauce, using different kind of cheeses. I’ve tried lasagne in different places but I just can’t compare them with mamma’s or Adriana’s lasagne. They’re just too good that imagining them right now made me salivating.

    I think I have to ask them for the special recipe. Uhm, that never crossed in my mind before, haha. Uh well, I don’t really cook…so, yeah… Maybe I just have to save up some money to go back to Sardegna :).


    It’s boarding time. Week 2 is done 😁.

    Week 1. Meet my best friend(s).

    According to this definition, a best friend is

    A person who you value above other friends in your life, someone you have fun with, someone you trust and someone in whom you confide.

    Uhm… This is a challenge since I don’t know if I have any best friend currently. Sad, I know 😂.

    I had several best friends during my childhood and teenage. I remember hanging out all the time after school with Ira in primary school. We always walked home together. My house was further than hers so I would stop a little and ask a glass of water before I continued my journey… Well, a journey to my house that can be reached within 5 more minutes 😄. We spent times doing school projects, skipping rubber rope, playing jump-hop-jump, or just talking. We didn’t have much problems to whine at the time, so I guess our conversations were generally about friends at school, teachers, homework, those kinda stuff. I can’t even remember if I had a crush at that age.

    I moved to Melbourne when I was in grade 6. Ira and I exchanged letters sometimes, but we stopped writing each other by the time we entered junior high school. You know, school was getting busier. You had new friends. I guess from that on, we were no longer best friend. We’re still friends until now, though. Just not best friend.

    My best friend during my difficult time in Melbourne was Qiaoyan. She’s Chinese. I spoke no English at the time… And got bullied all the time because of that, of course. So, Qiaoyan was the only kind and helpful person. But then, I entered different high school that made communication no longer regular. Plus, not long after that, I had to return home, to Indonesia. I’ve never heard from Qiaoyan again ever since.

    In junior high, I began to gang up…haha. I mean, I tend to have a group of close friends. In the third year, we had a gang of eight people; Kinta, Eka, Reni, Agung, Johan, Khadafi, Puput, and me. We were partners both in crimes and non crimes. Mostly in non crimes, really, since the girls were mostly momma’s kids with great grade 😄.

    Our friendship faded away as we went on with lives. Kinta, Johan, Khadafi, Agung moved to Jakarta. Reni and Puput went to different school. Eka and I were in the same school but different classes. I was in a special class that applied tight schedule full day, so I didn’t really have time to hang out with other kids from other classes. So, yes… new best friends were from the same class. We were called D’Six. There were six of us at first, plus two additions later on, but the nick name remains. Other students also identified D’Six as Devil Six…haha. These are friends I attached more than any others. Even until now, they’re the ones I hang out with.

    However… I rarely talk about personal stuff to my group of close friends. We only meet once a month, for about circa 2-3 hours max, so you wouldn’t wanna mess up with the so-called ‘curhat’. You tend to share some nice stories, catching up with their news and all that. I have fun with them. I value them more than any other friends. But I guess I am not very confident when it comes to sharing feelings to them.


    Friends forever :). Six of us, minus two others who couldn’t make it to the monthly meet up.

    The only person I can fully trust, and I am confide with, is my husband. To him, I can fully be myself. He knows how an asshole I can be sometimes, he knows how wise I can be all the time (yeah right 😇), he even feels and knows what to do when I am on my moodiest mode. I tell him (almost) everything. So… Maybe I can say that my husband is my true best friend. I don’t even know who to go to if I have problems with this man, hehe. Oh wait, he’s my best friend. I can just straight away point it out at him 😍.


    My best friend. Through thick and thin. Till jannah, amien.