sixthseal.com in Singapore's newspaper

Thanks for the tip off, Kristian.

http://www.straitstimes.asia1.com.sg/think/story/0,4386,257247,00.html

The link expired, here is the emailed version, courtesy of The Sunday Times:

*****

This message was forwarded to you from Straits Times Interactive (http://straitstimes.asia1.com.sg) by me@sixthseal.com

Are they drug dealers with stethoscopes?
by Salma Khalik

MICHAEL, 36, has a list of 20 doctors whom he calls ‘sellers’.
These are general practitioners (GPs) who willingly sell sleeping pills
to addicts.

These GPs don’t bother with consultation. They charge $3 to $5 a pill for Dormicum and $12 for Erimin.

The man who calls himself Michael is a former computer technician
and a drug addict for 20 years. He told The Sunday Times: ‘It takes
just 1 1/2 minutes to get the pills from them.’

Those 90 seconds or so are the sum total of the doctor’s
‘treatment’ – all the time he needs to check when he last prescribed
pills to this patient. To satisfy health authorities that they are not
overprescribing, they stick to the guideline of a pill a day.

This cynical approach to rules designed by the health authorities
to protect addicts from themselves may be at the core of a worrying
change in Singapore’s drug culture. Over the past decade or so,
effective police action has reduced access to hard drugs like heroin
and cannabis. The addicts’ solution: prescription drugs.

More interested in profits than healing, unscrupulous GPs are
believed to have already turned Dormicum and Erimin sales to addicts
into a sizeable business. Doctors are the addicts’ main suppliers: An
Institute of Mental Health (IMH) survey found that three in four
addicts got their supply from GPs. The black market accounted for only
22 per cent.

Each pill costs a doctor just a few cents to buy. The selling price
of a Dormicum pill ranges from about 70 cents at public hospitals to
about $5 at some private clinics, with most selling it at $3. Dormicum
pills alone can bring in thousands of dollars a month for a clinic. If
a doctor freely sells both Erimin and Dormicum, well, he won’t have to
do much doctoring to earn a good income.

Since 1990, the Singapore Medical Council has censured 18 doctors
for prescribing sleeping pills too freely to patients – with six dealt
with this year alone. Several other doctors are now under investigation
for this breach of professional conduct.

But the practice continues, and not just in Singapore. There are
Internet chatrooms – like weblog sixthseal.com – where addicts share
their favourite drug recipes and experiences.

There is no shortage of supplies. No one seems to know exactly how
many sleeping pills are imported into Singapore. The Health Ministry
does not keep records of the 79 different brands and generic
benzodiazepines – a category that includes Dormicum, Erimin, Valium and
Xanax – that are allowed in. But people in the know estimate an annual
import of between 25 million and 30 million benzodiazepine pills.

Either taken on their own or in a cocktail mixture with other
drugs, alcohol or even Coca-Cola, the sleeping pills can give a feeling
of well-being, or in Michael’s words, make ‘everything more beautiful’.

Called hypnotics or depressants, Erimin, Dormicum and the like are
highly addictive. If taken long term, they can damage internal organs,
cause memory failure and weaken muscles.

Moreover, society suffers. An IMH survey of 50 such addicts found
that at least a third of them shoplifted while under the influence of
the drugs.

Michael has been arrested and thrown into jail several times for
this. But he can’t recall doing it at all. All he remembers is waking
up in prison and being charged with the crime.

He was sent for drug rehabilitation, but relapsed the moment he was
out. As he put it: ‘Sobriety brings clarity. With clarity comes
responsibility. And responsibility sucks.’

In 1998, in an attempt to keep a lid on such addiction, the Health
Ministry set a cap on the amount each clinic is allowed to buy. Clinics
are permitted a maximum of 12,000 Erimin and 21,600 Dormicum pills a
year.

In 2002, the ministry issued warnings that one pill a day for just two weeks could lead to addiction.

But this guideline seems to have had little effect. Michael and his
sleeping-pill addict friends, who take more than a pill a day, visit an
average of five GP clinics a month for their supply. Doctor-hoppers
have an average of 12 doctors prepared to prescribe for them. One
person went to 23 different doctors.

The addicts identify three supplier categories: pure ‘sellers’ who
aren’t the least interested in the people asking for such pills;
‘reluctant’ GPs, who charge high for the pills, claiming that this is
to discourage addiction; and ‘concerned’ GPs, who try to help them
overcome their need while still supplying them with the pills.

Says Dr Munidasa Winslow, head of IMH’s Community Addictions
Management Programme (Camp): ‘In private practice, you have to be both
businessman and doctor.

‘The vast majority of doctors practise ethical medicine, but there
will be some who are more businessmen then doctors. It is highly
competitive and there is a lot of pressure on doctors to give patients
what they want.’

Singapore can’t just stop the pills’ import as the drugs have real
medical value. Dormicum, for example, is often used to sedate patients
undergoing a colonoscopy to check for cancer and other problems in
their large intestines.

People doing shift work may also have difficulty getting enough
sleep, because their body clocks get disoriented by changing sleep
patterns.

Most hospitals and clinics don’t stock Erimin, because this
Japanese product is a controlled drug and involves a lot of paperwork.
Non-doctors caught selling it can be jailed 10 years and given five
strokes of the cane.

Clinics that do prescribe Erimin buy an average of 6,000 pills a
year. Most clinics stock Dormicum and they buy about 2,400 to 3,000
pills a year.

Yet last year, 23 clinics bought the maximum of 12,000 Erimin pills
and 12 clinics bought the maximum 21,600 pills allowed for Dormicum.

Before 1998, when no limits were placed on the number of pills
clinics could buy, sleeping pill revenues were even higher. Some
clinics circumvented the Health Ministry cap by opening more outlets.

Grace Polyclinic was one such clinic. It was in the news recently
when its doctor-owner was struck off the medical register and no longer
allowed to practise. Seven of its other doctors are either under
investigation by the Singapore Medical Council or have been censured
for grossly overprescribing sleeping pills. The clinic had seven
outlets each buying the maximum 12,000 Erimin tablets a year. Each
outlet also bought between 3,600 and 19,800 of the less lucrative 15mg
Dormicum pills in 2000 and 2001. Six of the seven outlets have since
closed.

Dr Winslow suspects that a surge of sleeping pill addicts in the
1990s followed successful police crackdowns that made heroin and
cannabis more difficult to get. With their drug sources drying up,
addicts had to look for alternatives, and these were readily available.

This was what happened in Michael’s case.

He started his drug trip when he was in his late teens. He wanted
to be ‘one up’ on his school mates. So while they smoked cigarettes, he
puffed on marijuana.

A few years later, he progressed to heroin. Being a drug addict was
an expensive vice. He would spend about $60 a day to get his fix. He
once splurged $4,000 on a two-week binge.

‘I had to be manipulative and scheming to get the money for drugs,’
he says. When he couldn’t borrow or steal the money, he would help his
colleagues with their work, and suggest they thank him with cash.

It was partly the high cost – the price for one straw of heroin
shot from $7 to $8 in the late 1980s to $15 to $20 in the mid-1990s –
and partly the increasing difficulty of getting heroin that pushed him
towards sleeping pills and high-codeine cough mixtures.

He needed as much as $90 a day for heroin, but only about $30 for pills.

Dr Winslow says addiction is an expensive business as addicts would
spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars a month to satisfy their
cravings. Since early last year, more than 200 sleeping-pill addicts
have sought cures at IMH. Three in four addicts surveyed by the IMH
said GPs were not interested in discussing their plight.

Breaking the addiction is far more difficult than getting hooked.
Michael, who is married ‘to a saint who has stuck by me’ and has two
young children, is now entirely cured.

But he still attends therapy because the temptation to return to a
drug-induced paradise is everywhere. Every time he goes to the toilet
(where he used to hide to take his drugs), ‘I think of how beautiful
life was,’ he says. ‘Everything I see is a trigger.’

Brutally honest, Michael admits that being on drugs has stunted him
emotionally: ‘My thinking, my personality, it’s still that of a 16 year
old. I still throw tantrums.’

It was to help people like him that the IMH set up its addiction clinic.

Ms Catherine Dong, the Camp psychologist who did the survey on
addicts, thinks that just treating patients is not enough. She wants
something done at the source of such suffering.

Her suggested solution: a national registry of benzodiazepine users so addicts can’t doctor-hop.

Such a move would involve considerable paper work, but it should
drastically reduce the amount of such pills available to addicts.
Addicts can also be identified and sent for treatment. It would not
only cut down on addiction, but also shoplifting and other crimes that
go hand-in-hand with drug abuse.

*****
Quote: There are Internet chatrooms – like weblog sixthseal.com – where addicts share their favourite drug recipes and experiences.
The Straits Times, Singapore

This kind of publicity, I don’t need. I have received news from
another friend who tells me that my residence will be violated very
soon. I have to do housekeeping, excuse me.

Jolin Tsai Promo Tour Malaysia – Kuching Concert

jolin concert

The Jolin Tsai Yi Ling Kuching Showcase (mini concert cum autograph session) was held at the outdoor carpark of the International Times Building at 7:30 PM on the 11th of June 2004. This is Jolin’s It’s Love Promo Tour Malaysia 2004 to promote her new album Castle.
I believe this is the first time Sarawak was included into the tour
venues. Jolin is a Taiwanese performer who has a string of albums and
serial dramas in her portfolio. I didn’t know she was coming to Kuching
until the night before. I made a couple of phone calls to ascertain
where to get the tickets and the venue of the concert – it’s a good
thing I managed to attend the event, given the short notice.

I also noticed that there are three photos which captured me in the
frame during the Jolin concert in the papers today – one in
International Times and two in Berita Petang Sarawak.

Bring me to the Jolin concert writeup!
(a.k.a. “I’m not interested in hearing other details”)
This jumps to the concert start paragraph – it’s for readers who just
want to know about the concert and not any other personal experience
details relating to the event)

I must admit though…I’m not a fan of Jolin per se – my exposure to
her work is limited to watching the Working Girl (2003) serial and I
was SDS all through it. I liked her character in that series though,
and I thought her song (the intro) was pretty good too. Thus, I have
been anticipating to see her perform live (though I haven’t listened to
much of her songs) and I wanted to see what she looks like in real
life. She isn’t exactly hard on the eyes, to say the least. ;)

jolin tsai
/me wipes off drool

The venue proved to be a challenge to locate though…I had vague
instructions – something along the lines of “turn up before 7:30, door
sale available, it’s held at the International Times Building car
park”. I understand that the place is in Pending, which is relatively
near, so I left late. The fact that I did not know where “The
International Times Building carpark” is did not even cross my mind
until I was making the turn into Pending.

international times

I must extend my thanks to the guy at 082-482 215 for his real-time
cell phone relay directions. I’m not familiar with the area, so I
called out building names as I passed them by and he told me where I
should turn. That’s the number of The International Times (it’s a
newspaper), cheers to Mr. Anonymous Employee for the directions. He
also mentioned that I would not miss it – there will be a lot of people
there.

ah beng ah lian
The large caption reads: Ah Beng and Ah Lians of Kuching, Unite!
Source: Berita Petang Sarawak, Front Page.

He did not exaggerate. Every Ah Beng and Ah Lian in Kuching was in
full attendance, with a strong showing from the Ah Seng and even Ah Pek
(totally serious) congregation. In other words, everyone and their
grandma and her poodle was there. Cars lined the side of the road and
thousands of people milled around outside. I knew I had to resort to my
DICC portfolio to get a good spot for photos when I had to park right
ON the left lane of the road…300 meters from the place.

jolin concert ticket

I started at the tickets counter. The tickets were RM 10 – I got
two, one to keep and one for entry. I struck up a conversation her,
asking if I could get a press pass, claiming to represent The Star.
Unfortunately, they don’t have press passes, so I decided to go to the
top and asked who the organizers were. I was pointed to one of them and
I walked up to him and casually steered the conversation to the fund
raising aspects of the concert – proceeds go to a under funded private
Chinese school.

I told him in no subtle terms that I was interested in making a
“special donation” to get access to the front. That didn’t work though,
coz he said he can’t ensure I won’t be ejected from the cordoned off
front area if the other organizers did their rounds. My next target was
the staff – they had passes hung around their necks. I appealed to the
capitalism of no less than three people (profiling was done, to no
avail) to engage in commerce, but failed.

I finally knew the reason – the third and last guy told me everyone
knew each other, it won’t work for me to just wear the pass and go in.
By that time, the stage front was already 20 deep by the time I
arrived. That’s 20 early birds I have to Red Sea through. Oh well, if
that’s how it’s going to be, that’s how it’s going to be. I choose a
spot in the middle of the barricaded front and V formation myself
towards it.

just to see you
I exhaust my repertoire just to see you up close…

A V formation is the crowd access method emergency personnel use to
get to someone who needs medical attention in the middle of a large
congregation of people. I only needed to get myself in, so I don’t need
the wings of the V, only the spearhead. I begin my assault with just
“excuse me”, as if I were going back to my (non-existent) vacated
position.

The “Jello barrier” (ask anyone who’s done this before) was reached
when I was about 10 deep. I replaced my phrase with “Reporter coming
through, excuse me, I’m from The Star” to get pass that, and I shit you
not; a couple of girls propagated that and got me through 6 people
entities before I hit the “Playdoh barrier”. I used intimidation to get
through two guys (one person unit) and charm to get through another
person unit.

Now I was the 3rd wave from the front – 3 deep, in other words.
That’s usually where the real barrier is – the ones who came in the
afternoon (overheard in a conversation) just to be first in line, all
carrying digicams. They were all teenage girls. I asked the person in
front of me if she came with the people in front and she replied in the
affirmative. That means it’s a virtual 2 unit, there’s only one more
person unit to go to.

papers early birds
These are the girls – the papers mentioned they were already there in the afternoon!
Source: International Times, Page 30.

I gave it a bit of a thought…how much was I willing to spend? I
could just squeeze through but I did not want to do that to teenage
girls who spent hours waiting in line. I decided I wanted the front
spot badly enough I was willing to pay RM 50 for it. I took out my
wallet and got a RM 50 note out and tried the, er…plus sized girl
(think that is the PC term nowadays) on my right. She’s the fifth
person from the left in the picture above, the one in the black t-shirt.

“Hello, would you mind letting me go in front, exchange places basically? Here’s something for your trouble.”

She did not even look at what I was offering before saying “No.”
(I have something funny that I would like to share later, but let’s not digress now.)

I picked the one on my left (closer to center stage, she’s two more
down from Miss Plus Size, wearing red, the seventh from the left in the
picture above) and said:

“Hello, I really want that front spot to take photos, are you willing to part with it for this?”

berita petang sarawak
Berita Petang Sawarak carries two photos which has me inside.

She looked at me uncertainly. I could see she wanted it. She’s about
15 or so, by my estimate; and excuse my profiling, but she looks like
someone who would think RM 50 is a huge amount to exchange for
something with no tangible value (her current slice in space/time). So
did the first girl I asked, and I’ll get to that soon. :)

“Where would I be standing then?”, she asked tentatively.

“You’ll be standing behind me, we’re basically trading places,
you’ll just move a little bit down, and you can still take photos over
my shoulder.”
(I later realized that it was unwise to say that, coz she took it literally and used my shoulder as a tripod three times…)

“Er…”, she went uncertainly, looking to her friends for guidance.

“Take it”, whispered one of her friends, possibly thinking about her cut.

“Er…”, she went again, but this time with a hand half raised, still uncertain and looking at the reaction of the crowd.

I did not wait for her to make the decision. I just passed her the RM 50 note, smiled, and slid right to the front.

There were a few indignant “Hey’s” from other people, but those were
quickly replaced by incredulous variations of “He paid RM 50 to switch
places? Wow, he’s crazy!”.

my spot
This is where I was standing.

This brings us back to the plus sized girl. :) She suddenly turned
to me as I was switching and asked me with interest, “How much again?”

I did not reply. I do not take kindly to people who say “No” to me.
Her friends took the liberty of answering for me though. I heard “You
should have taken it.” many times from my right while she looked
miffed. She received a second round of disappointment when the pre-show
warm up people started giving away Ang Pows for answering correct
questions. She got one and at the urging of her friends, opened it to
find…RM 5.

datuk speach
The obligatory “VIP” speach

Her friends made another round of digs about not accepting the
larger first offer and she retorted back that she did not know how much
I was offering since it was dark.

Heh! That was a generous offer since the second line can take photos
through the gap of the first line anyway. I was actually prepared to go
up to RM 100.

On another note, I wonder why these people say things within my obvious hearing range.
On yet another note, if you’re wondering if I enjoyed the environment
where various appendages, including but not limited to, breasts,
buttocks, and thighs, were pushed against me, the answer is a resolute
no. It’s very uncomfortable to be squeezed around and I had to bend
myself in ways the human anatomy was never meant to be positioned while
waiting for the concert to start.

jolin autograph cd
Jolin’s autograph on Castle MV.

Anyway, the pre-show people announced that only CDs, VCDs and
cassettes will be signed and I didn’t want to lose my position so I got
one of the staff to come over and gave him a RM 100 note and asked him
to get the newest one for me. This also resulted in various
exclamations around me. Obviously, these people find my behavior odd.

Personally, it’s not about trust, but rather an issue of keeping my
prime position and wanting to get an autograph, so it’s nothing unusual
to me. In case you were wondering, yes, he did come back, with my
change and the VCD. I was set. The place I was in is just slightly off
center in the very front (metal barrier cordon in front of me), about 5
meters from the stage. Success!

papers me front
I was a permanent fixture here during the night.
Source: International Times, Page 32 (back cover).

Oh, and the girl I gave the money to wanted to give it back, saying
that it’s too much for her to accept, and that she’ll just let me have
the place for free, but I told her to keep it, it’s hers and I didn’t
want it.

There are two reasons why I did that. The first is to compensate her
for her time spent in securing that prime spot and I felt sorry about
displacing her like that (but not sorry enough to move ;)). The second
reason is to ensure that the place is rightfully mine in the crowd’s
mind. I had bought the place and to everyone, I was entitled to it. It
would not be so if I took the money back.

I would never do something like that anyway. I’m very against taking
back money, it’s a disgusting thing to do in my beliefs. If you intend
to offer someone something, you’re satisfied to part with that thing in
exchange for something else. End of story. I told her that I find I
would find it insulting if she insists, and she didn’t.

papers me photo
The caption says something about enthusiastic photographers (translated by the girl who works at the grocery shop downstairs).
This is actually one of my most demure positions…I get most of my
shots by propping myself up so that my knee rests against the top of
the barrier while my legs leverage the bars to keep myself up that way.
It sounds unwieldy, but one you get the hang of it (no pun intended),
it’s actually very stable, and there’s no “crowd jostle” to blur your
photos. You’re above the mere mortals! I actually stepped on the head
of the Boy Scout several times but he was always very nice about it.
Cheers!
Source: Berita Petang Sarawak, Page 12 (Back Cover).

I’ll tell you something – it’s the best RM 50 I ever spent!

Jolin’s concert begins

jolin choreo

Jolin finally decided to grace us with her presence at 8:30 PM. One
hour after the scheduled concert start. I had taken several alprazolam
(Xanax) tablets before that – I had to ignore the physical discomfort
and dismiss the fact that I was in the paradoxical situation of being
severely dehydrated at the very same time I was likely to suffer a
ruptured bladder. It’s an unfortunate situation to be in – I can’t
drink water to quench my thirst coz I’ll have to pee even more, and I
can’t do that without sacrificing my prime spot.

jolin singing

However, all that was forgotten when Jolin showed up in a pink
dress. Come to think of it, the whole place was pink – the banners, the
silk canopy above the stage etc etc. Stop me from digressing again.
Anyway, Jolin fielded several cliched questions from the MC’s, form
questions like “How do you find the weather in Kuching?” and groaningly
predictable responses like “It’s very, very hot.” She has a really nice
voice though. And yes, she’s gorgeous in real life too! :)

The short Q&A was segued into a fast song – Pirates
(cross checked the videos I took with the track list). She had an
entourage of dancers dressed in white, synchronized sets. This is her
intro song – the very first one:

jolin intro

Download: Jolin – Pirates, Kuching 2004 [sixthseal.com]

All videos require DivX 5.11

It’s a good choice for a crowd warmer – this track gets a lot of
radio play (if you listen to Chinese radio stations, or so I’m told)
and even I could recognize the familiar tune.

jolin solo

There was a solo number after that – I didn’t know the title of the
song too. However, I did shout her name and stood up on the barrier
during a particularly quiet time, just to make her look at the camera
while I was filming. Heh! That video is for my personal collection
though, sorry, but it’s a classic, especially with the responses from
the people around me, genuinely shocked at my “appalling” behavior. I
wager they haven’t been to many concerts. ;)

jolin solo cute

Anyway, in the break after the song, Jolin started answering
questions again and what do you know, they’re having a contest! Despite
being sedated by said alprazolam, I was standing on top of the metal
barrier (which makes me pretty damned obvious, and stands me out from
the crowd) and shouting “Jolin! Here! Me! Me!” while waving crazily to
catch her attention BEFORE the words “We’ll be choosing five lucky
people, those who want to participate can come on stage, raise your
hands for Jolin to choose”.

jolin raise hand

Naturally, my enthusiasm went far beyond a subtle rising of hands,
so I was the first to get her attention. ;) “Him”, she said, pointing
at me. One of the MC’s confirmed, “The guy in the red t-shirt?”, and
Jolin looked back and said “Yes, him.” I hardly needed that
confirmation, I was already in the process of climbing over the metal
barrier. It’s a little lower than my shoulder, but I just lifted myself
and vaulted over it before the staff came to help me. I wasn’t going to
pass up a chance like this. ;)

papers me jolin
On stage with Jolin. I know, it’s an ugly shot, I’ll show you another later. ;)
Source: Berita Petang Sarawak, Page 12 (Back Cover).

I was on stage! I could see Jolin up close – and yes, she looks just
as good up close. :) I’ll say something though, and please, no one sue
me for libel, this is just my speculation. I swear that she looks like
she’s a tweaker to me. I’ll even put my left testicle, nay, my testes
on the line…she has all the signs of meth or some other stimulant
use. It’s the little quirks that tweakers exhibit – you know what I
mean, fellow meth users, takes one to notice another, and you’re right
practically all the time!

Anyway, if you’re one of Sony Music’s lawyers, you did not read that
last paragraph. Well, I stood there for a while, watching Jolin pick
the others, with my digicam dangling beside me and I looked at the
crowd and saw that it was HUGE – there must be tens of thousand people
in attendance. I took a photo…and was immediately approached by one
of the female staff on stage who informed me that digicams are not
allowed on stage. I was engaged in vigorous dialogue with her and
another male staff came over, probably thinking I was going to start
trouble. The curses of keeping my hair long and messy and having
tattoos. ;)

me ugly stick
This is a shot I took of myself before the autograph session. I look
like I’ve been beaten hard with the Ugly Stick, nay, the Ugly Forest.
;) The people around me has been filtered out to allow better image
composition. This, my friends, is the face of a tweaker who eats once
in four days and sleeps only one or two nights each week.

Well, I finally said that I would give the digicam to her to keep
until after the contest and that was that. It did cross my mind to do a
stunt like running over and hugging Jolin while I took a photo before
security escorted me off the stage, and I nearly did that. ;) But nah,
I reckon I wanted to see what the contest was like more, so I
relinquished my digicam and told the staff to photograph me for me and
she said she couldn’t do that. I should have taken the stunt. :p

Anyway, if anyone has photos or videos of me on stage with Jolin, please email me
and I would pay you for it. Back to the contest, we were asked to think
of a good reason how much we like Jolin or something. I really couldn’t
understand what the MC said, he was using those damned intentionally
obscure hard Chinese words. Anyway, I think that’s what we’re supposed
to do, another MC attempted to translate it to English to me. I
thought, or at least I tried.

jolin stage

The Xanax effect was working overtime and I couldn’t come up with
anything. I was standing first in line, closest to Jolin, and when we
were asked who would go first, I saw that no one wanted to, so I looked
at Jolin and started and just said what I thought. I can’t remember
exactly what I said, but it’s very lame and the gist of it was this:

“Well…I don’t know much about you…have only seen that
Working Girl movie with you in it. I’m Huai Bin from sixthseal.com and
hmm…well, I came to take photos of you…and, yeah, I basically paid
RM 50 to get a good spot and well, you probably can see the way I take
photos from the stage…and yeah, er…I came up and, well, that’s how
much I wanted to see you.”

Note to self: Please avoid benzodiazepines unless you want to look and sound like an idiot.

I know, that’s really lame. Since I answered in a mix of Chinese and
English (some words come easier in English coz everyone talks in
English at work and I write in English when I blog), I was asked where
I come from. Well, to avoid having to explain everything, I just said
I’m from Sibu and I just came back from Australia. I didn’t want to
have to explain the whys and hows of my use of language.

Anyway, there was a little kid on stage, which automatically makes
him the winner, according to the Children Affirmative Action rights.
Every participant gets the same prize, except the winner gets an
additional poster of Jolin. I didn’t mind, I wasn’t here to win, I was
here to be on stage and look at Jolin. Oh, and I also intentionally
held her hand longer than a normal handshake would last when she gave
out our prizes, just to see how she’ll react. ;)

jolin contest
This is the prize.

Professionally, very experienced, probably been in far worse
situations by real fans. I didn’t release my hold, and she broke eye
contact and slid her hand away, not missing a beat. I was looking at
her the whole time. This is good on-stage recourse – by breaking eye
contact and stepping towards the next person in line, she effectively
gave me a psychological obligation to release my hand, since there are
several thousand spectators. Heh. Sorry, did it for fun, to see how
she’ll react. Her hand is very soft though. ;)

jolin contest gift
The insides contain five assorted Sony Music promo CD’s, none of which
are Jolin’s. Pffftttttt…should have gone for the stunt. ;)

Anyway, after it was over, I climbed back into my original spot, the
prime one. Naturally. There was another dancer supported number after
that – 36 Tricks Of Love. Here you go, the second video:

jolin set

Download: Jolin Tsai set [sixthseal.com]

There was another solo after that and then it was the last song,
choreographed with dancers as well. The Kuching Jolin Showcase ends
with a total of five songs, two mini interviews and one contest.

jolin last song

Jolin came out again to present the charity check.

jolin press

She then sat down for impersonal autographs, all done with a simple
signature, not looking at the person, just going through every CD cover
and signing it, over and over. The impersonal signing is
understandable; there were too many people to ask for personalized
ones. I did say “Hi” to make her look up when it was my turn though. ;)

jolin autograph

What do I think of Jolin? Well, there’s nothing much to say, she’s
your typical young Taiwan pop star who became famous fast. She looks
mesmerizing and although I don’t listen to this genre of music, she’s
alright.

jolin concert end

I’m glad I went. It was a great event – Jolin put up an awesome set. She looks good enough to eat too. ;)

sixthseal.com 2nd Birthday!

2nd birthday

On this day, the 19th of April 2004, sixthseal.com celebrates its
second anniversary! It coincides with the day this site was moved to
its own VPS (Virtual Private Server) to accommodate the huge bandwidth
demands that it generates. There will be the traditional wrap up of the
previous year as well in the post below.

I have been blogging for two years now, starting from a humble HTML
blog without comments to the blog you see now. I have watched the site
grow from single digit daily unique visitors to the thousands of unique
visitors that it now receives every day. For that, I thank everyone,
from the vast silent majority to the vocal minority, for reading my
daily posts. Thank you!

This year was particularly noteworthy, due to the fact that the
timeframe covers my final days in university at Melbourne, Australia
through to my first job at XM Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and up
to my second job in Kuching, Sarawak. The site also expanded and
acquired multiple domain names under the sixthseal.com umbrella – castitas.com (9th September 2003), pengsan.com (18th November 2003), louisalee.com (27th January 2004) and fengtau.com (30th January 2004).

It also stands witness to “veritas” finally coming clean and
admitting what everyone already knew or guessed – there was never a
guest author…every single “veritas” post was written by the “main
author” (which would be me, there is only one author on sixthseal.com).
It was necessary to use a pseudonym to distance myself from the drug
related content, thus “veritas” was born. I realize that it’s an ironic
name since “veritas” is Latin for “truth”.

However, it was originally meant to provide readers with an insight
to my recreational drug use – the Latin word for “truth” was meant to
dispel the junkie drug user stereotype and to provide true
harm-minimization oriented drug education, without any government or
anti-drug propaganda. It was also meant to help existing users to be
safer and more responsible in their drug consumption and to be aware of
what they’re actually consuming and the risks involved.

I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not all altruistic…I love
drugs and writing about them. I enjoy receiving the “fan mail” that
veritas gets. I wanted to be the first drug blogger in the world. I’m
not sure if I really am the pioneer in this sense (experience reports
have been around forever), but I’ll like to think that I’m the first
one to take photos of the various drugs that I consume and write posts
about them in a weblog format, at least in Malaysia.

Here is a re-cap of the more noteworthy posts during the blog year from 19th April 2003 till 19th April 2004:

Huai Bin

Project Petaling Street announcement
June 12, 2003 – Melbourne, Australia
The birth of the monumental PPS documented.

Flunitrazepam (Rohypnol, Hypnodorm, “date rape drug”)
June 12, 2003 – Melbourne, Australia
My doctor shopping skillz shall be disputed by none! ;)

Tribedadelic rave
July 5, 2003 – Melbourne, Australia
My last (indoor) rave before leaving Melbourne.

Miss Malaysian Chinese photographic shoot
July 6, 2003 – Sibu, Sarawak
Photos of girls in Sibu.

McDonald’s Sega handheld video games
August 1, 2003 – Sibu, Sarawak
The promotional Sega – McDonald’s collaboration handheld games.

Okonomiyaki
August 22, 2003 – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Full photographic documentation of the okonomiyaki making process.

Deviant Species doof
December 22, 2003 – Melbourne, Australia
The outdoor rave (doof) I squeezed into my itinerary when I went back for my convocation.

McDonald’s Salads Plus
December 28, 2003 – Melbourne, Australia
I ate most of the Salads Plus menu – an attempt by McDonald’s to shred (no pun intended) it’s unhealthy image.

Last day at XM, Malaysia
January 15, 2004 – KL, Malaysia
My last day at the first company I worked in, before moving to Kuching for a better paycheck.

Firecrackers in Malaysia
January 21, 2004 – Sibu, Sarawak
A sixthseal.com Chinese New Year special!

HIV testing in Malaysia
March 22, 2004 – Kuching, Malaysia
My community service message to balance out my karma for all the drug posts I make. ;)
*Updated with Western Blot Gribbles test results.

Come out and play
April 4, 2004 – Kuching, Sarawak
Nightlife in Kuching.

Lidocaine experiment
April 12, 2004 – Kuching, Sarawak
I inject myself with Xylocaine, “veritas” has already been admitted to be me all along.

“veritas”

LSD (acid) blotters
April 23, 2003 – Melbourne, Australia
Never underestimate hallucinogens.

Dextroamphetamine scripting success!
April 30, 2003 – Melbourne, Australia
This is legal speed (not available in Malaysia) – amphetamines from your friendly neighborhood doctor. ;)

Magic mushrooms
May 9, 2003 – Melbourne, Australia
Successful mushroom hunting for psilocybe subaeruginosa and amanita muscaria.

Methamphetamine IV (intravenous injection)
June 17, 2003 – Melbourne, Australia
I join the (dubious) ranks of injecting drug users.

Video of veritas smoking methamphetamine
February 7, 2004 – KL, Malaysia
The first video release on sixthseal.com – we embrace all forms of journalism. ;)

The first anniversary of sixthseal.com can be viewed here.

Thank you, dear readers of sixthseal.com. It has been another good year, and here’s to many more good years to come! Cheers! :)

Xylocaine – lidocaine (lignocaine) injection experience report

xylocaine

I have managed to acquire a pharmaceutical grade plastic vial of
lignocaine (also known as lidocaine) recently. It was sourced from a
hospital, using a very unethical method, so we’ll just concentrate on
the experience report instead. Xylocaine 2% is a sterile solution of
lidocaine for injections. Lignocaine is used as a local anesthetic
(amongst other things) at hospitals and is generally not considered to
have any recreational value.

lignocaine

However, I like experiencing new things and I keep an open mind when
it comes to substances, so I decided to experiment with the lidocaine
solution to see what it feels like. It’s not every day a new and sealed
5 ml vial containing 100 mg of injectible lignocaine comes into your
possession. Lidocaine is a restricted item and is meant to be
administered by qualified medical practitioners only. I’m always up for
trying new substances which may be potentially recreational, depending
on what your definition of recreational is.

injecting equiptment

I have read that lignocaine is meant to be used with larger gauge
needles for SC injection so I got both 23 gauge and 27 gauge needles.
SC is the shorthand for subcutaneous, better known as “skin
popping”. It’s the method where you insert the syringe needle into and
under your skin without hitting any veins, arteries etc. The syringe
body is bought separately and fitted manually with the needles. All the
injecting equipment is bought from an understanding pharmacy, no
questions asked.

syringe_body.jpg
Syringe body

Lignocaine can be administered via IV, but this route seems to be
unsafe without medical supervision, so I would avoid hitting any veins.
I have experience with self-administrating using syringes (more than
I’ll care to admit to), mostly with IV (intravenous injection)
methamphetamine, so I will not be going into that aspect of the
experiment. However, I must state that sixthseal.com does not condone,
promote or encourage the use of illicit drugs or diverted
pharmaceuticals. This is merely a personal experience report with
Xylocaine.

27g needles
27 gauge needles

I am obliged to inform readers that injecting has more risks
associated with it compared to other routes of administration so I must
urge people to research and read about safer injecting drug user guides
before even thinking about doing it. I’ve also read (after the fact)
that lidocaine may cause convulsions so it’s a good thing I’m on high
doses of clonazepam (a benzodiazepine with strong anticonvulsive
properties). It should be stated that possession of syringes without
justifiable cause e.g. insulin dependant diabetes, is illegal in some
countries, like Malaysia. Please stay safe.

23g needles
23 gauge needles

Back to the experience report, I used both gauges to inject 100 mg
of 5 ml lignocaine solution over a 15 minute period. The injection
sites are all on my left forearm, with several insertions around a
small area. I found the 23G needle to be more comfortable. It seems
that the Xylocaine solution is meant to be administered slowly, and a
smaller gauge (“thicker”) syringe feels more comfortable for SC
injection. The site of injection swells up when the lignocaine solution
is administered, and the swelling goes away within an hour or so.

Here are the video clips of the Xylocaine (lignocaine injectable solution) experiment:

I will rate the videos which are more interesting into two categories:
* Recommended
* Must See!
This allows dial up users to only download the more interesting ones, without having to bother with the more mundane videos.
Recommended videos have some interesting content inside and is worth a look if you have the bandwidth.
Must See! videos are the best of the bunch and should be downloaded first as it has the most interesting content.
Video clips which are not rated
are the ones which would be boring for most people since it’s only
there for continuity and documentation. The first few clips are not
rated and thus isn’t worth downloading unless you have a fast
connection or you’re interested in the experiment flow.

Xylocaine introduction

xylo intro

Xylocaine experiment introduction video [sixthseal.com]

This video is just an introductory clip with the injecting
paraphernalia e.g. syringes, needles, Xylocaine solution and a quick
description of the experience report.

Xylocaine 27G syringe – drawing lignocaine solution

xylo 27g draw

27 gauge needle drawing lignocaine solution [sixthseal.com]

The Xylocaine plastic vial’s opening ceremony. ;) There is an issue
with the syringe body where the needle does not fully lock into the
syringe lock. This resulted in a less than optimal syringe draw (due to
the lack of a full vacuum environment) and this video clip was aborted
after failing to withdraw any liquid. Further tightening of the screw
in 27 gauge needle resolved this issue.

Xylocaine 27G syringe – first blood!

xylo 27g first

27G first injection attempt [sixthseal.com]

This is the first SC injection of lignocaine into my upper left
forearm. There’s nothing much to see here (the view is obscured), so I
would recommend downloading the other more interesting videos. This one
shows the initial needle insertion and the administration of a small
amount of lidocaine. There was an initial numbness, which I thought was
the main effect, but this was merely the teaser.

Xylocaine 27G syringe – second attempt

xylo 27g sec
* Recommended

27G second injection video [sixthseal.com]

This video has a clearer shot of the syringe insertion – it goes a
little deep for an SC (subcutaneous) injection, considering the size of
the subject’s (that’s me) forearm. It’s not an IM (intramuscular)
injection, it didn’t go that far. Issues with the syringe body caused
problems with lignocaine flow, so not much got into the site. It’s
worth a look if you’ve already seen the Must See videos below,
otherwise, I’ll recommend downloading those first.

Xylocaine 23G syringe – drawing lignocaine solution

xylo 23g draw

23 gauge needle drawing lidocaine [sixthseal.com]

It was decided at this point that the smaller gauge needle is
brought for a test run. The lower the gauge rating is, the larger the
needle hole is. This makes it easier to administer the solution. Thus,
the 23 gauge needle is swapped in to replace the 27 gauge needle. The
syringe body was also changed to a new one. The first attempt yielded
only 0.5 ml, so the solution was squirted back into the plastic vial
and another attempt made in the next clip.

Xylocaine 23G syringe – first attempt

xylo 23g first
* Recommended

23G video – SC injection [sixthseal.com]

The syringe was loaded with a rather generous payload, though not
all was administered at this point. The first injection was aborted due
to concerns about hitting a vein and the site moved to the left. You
can actually see the second site swelling up as the SC injection
started transferring the liquid from the syringe into my arm. Astute
viewers can see that I’m not wearing anything and I have some excess
weight in my abdomen area. ;)

Xylocaine 23G syringe – second attempt

xylo 23g sec
* Must See!

23G video of second Xylocaine injection [sixthseal.com]

This is where I get more familiar with lignocaine and start
administering more Xylocaine solution in my SC injections. The swelling
caused by the liquid is clearly visible now and the local anesthetic
qualities of lignocaine start to shine. I also demonstrate how it makes
the injection site numb in this video

Xylocaine – lignocaine SC injection site swelling

xylo swell
* Must See!

Download video showing the swelling caused by lignocaine injection [sixthseal.com]

The video shows how the SC injection site swells up with liquid
after another SC injection. The needle is inserted at an angle, bevel
side up, and pushed deeper to experiment with different techniques and
how it affects the local anesthetic qualities. The classic angle shot
seems to make more liquid pool up beneath the skin and the numbing
qualities were more noticeable.

Xylocaine – local anesthetic and numbing

xylo numb
* Must See!

Xylocaine’s numbing properties after injection [sixthseal.com]

Here’s the last injection that I filmed – there’s quite a few
insertion points by this point and most of the lignocaine solution has
been used up. This video clip shows the subjective peak activity of the
local anesthetic – the injection sites are rendered numb, and touch
stimuli has lost much of its impact.

Xylocaine thoughts and ending

xylo end

Lidocaine ending thoughts [sixthseal.com]

I end this experience report with my thoughts about lidocaine.
Basically, it’s fun to play around with, but it’s not recreational in
the true sense of the term. I made an off-hand statement in this video
clip which I must amend here since I don’t have any video editing
software. I mentioned “try it once” somewhere in the video and I have
to make it clear that I was referring to myself. I meant I’ve tried it
once, it was fun and it’s a good experience. The quote should not be
taken out of context to suggest that I’m somehow encouraging
experimental drug use. sixthseal.com does not encourage, support or
condone the use of illicit drug use and diverted pharmaceuticals.

I found Xylocaine (lignocaine solution) to be interesting. It seems
to take effect almost instantaneously and lasts for around 15 – 20
minutes. The qualitative effects can be best described as a general
numbing in the area of injection. Stimuli can be felt despite the
numbness but it seems that a higher threshold is required for it to be
registered. I administered SC injections in several low dosage syringe
payloads, which seems to dilute the experience somewhat. I’ve also
noticed that a deeper needle penetration before administering produces
better results.

needle marks
It healed perfectly within 48 hours.

I also found that more lignocaine solution in a single penetration
causes some swelling (fluid retention?) and increases the anesthetic
qualities of Xylocaine. I had started out conservatively, with multiple
low payload syringes, since it’s my first experience, but the latter
injections were done with higher payloads, and that resulted in an
increased subjective numbness. It is a topical anesthetic, which most
people would not consider recreational, but I found the experience to
be fun and would repeat the experiment again, with a single high
payload syringe for maximum effects.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and the methods
described in this post may be wrong or even dangerous. I would
recommend starting with a low dosage when dealing with an unfamiliar
substance. This post is just a personal experience report and should
not be regarded as an authorative source of information. I must warn
readers that this is my first time injecting lidocaine. I am not
responsible for any errors or omissions in this post. Please do not
share or re-use any injecting equipment and ensure that used syringes
are disposed responsibly.

Come out and play

come out and play

Hey, come out and play! My friend was injured last night due to a
fight (or violent confrontation, if you will) at a pub. It happens,
part and parcel of the night scene here. He required stitches from the
self-injury which sliced through the area between the thumb and first
finger to the bone.

The incident happened late Saturday night (er…which makes it early
Sunday morning) – there was an altercation over some…well,
non-performing loans in my friend’s portfolio. Naturally, I won’t name
my friend to avoid incriminating anyone, and also since he,
er…instigated the matter by smashing a mug of beer into the skull of
the other party. The other party did not even put up a fight, there
were just two of them, grossly outnumbered, and the second person in
the other party instantly distanced himself from the confrontation.

Where did my friend sustain his injuries then? Well…not satisfied
with letting the other party get away by just “buying him a drink” (as
we call it here), he drove home and got his weapon of choice:

kwan tau
This is called “kwan tau” in Chinese. “Kwan tau’s” are black market
items and is usually sourced from profit oriented blacksmiths.

Now, this may look unwieldy, but not in the hands of an experienced person. It comes up to my neck and has a blade that is very
sharp. It has a good base for defending against attacks in the right
hands. This kwan tau has seen many gang related altercations, it is
only produced when necessary. It is said that the blade has been
“blessed” with the blood of a live chicken, which is supposed to give
it Strength +2.

wound

Back to where my friend wounded his hand…it’s actually a
self-injury, as previously stated. He went back home, grabbed his
sword, and in his haste to exact righteous punishment, accidentally
severed the bit between the thumb and first digit by grabbing the sharp
end of the blade instead of the handle. He then returned to the pub,
totally disregarding the injury (balls of steel) and parked outside the
pub to ambush them when they came out.

He was holding it vertically in an attempt to conceal it when the
other guy came out of the venue. The other party did not see the
approach until the last minute – and by that time, the kwan tau has
been raised to the attack position and my friend was preparing to
engage the other party. You should have seen the scared shitless
expression on the other guy’s face! Haha! My friend managed to slash
one of his arms before the other guy promptly made like an Olympic 100
meter sprinter and ran as fast as he could. :)

blood stained towel

Thus, that’s the rather anti-climatic end to this particular
engagement. It is somewhat difficult to chase someone who does not want
to suffer grievous bodily harm while holding a kwan tau (it’s very
heavy). Anyway, my friend adjourned to my place, dripping blood all
over the staircase and staining the walls red from his self-injury. I
gave him a towel to clean up the blood and another one of my friends
helped to clean up the drops of blood that leads up to the third floor
(where I live), to eliminate incriminating evidence.

improv bandage

My friend then improvised a bandage using toilet paper (yes, I do
have TP now), which didn’t help to stem the blood flow at all. It was
decided that a trip to (a private hospital, which will remain unnamed)
would be necessary. However, my friend decided that *cough* dissolved
in 30 ml of boiling water, self-administered through a vein would be of
better help. He’s been through a lot of violent altercations, so yeah,
if he’s not worried about it, then it shouldn’t be a problem.

It was 3 hours later before we finally made the trip to the hospital
for stitches. There was this funny conversation with the triage nurse:

Nurse: Hello, what’s the matter?
Friend: Knife wound.
Nurse: ………
Friend: Oh, I just accidentally cut my hand while doing woodwork, need stitches for that.
Nurse: Okay, follow me to the doctor’s consultation room.
Me: Excuse me, we’re his friends, can we come in as well?
Nurse: (looks at my digicam and giving me a strange look) Well…sure.
(Enters doctor’s office)
Nurse: Doktor, patient ini kata tangan dia terkena pisau bila gergagi kayu, you believe it or not?
(Doctor, this patient claims his hand was injured while doing woodwork, do you believe it?)
Me: (makes a wisecrack about that comment, lest the nurse think we are linguistically challenged and is unfamiliar with sarcasm)
Nurse: ………
Doctor: How did you manage to cut yourself like this?
Friend: I was, you know, sharpening my knife for the Ching Ming festival when my fingers slipped.
Doctor: (dubious look at our motley crew)
(Doctor proceeds to prep my friend with a local anesthetic and starts stitching)
Nurse: Who are you? A reporter?
Me: No, I just like documenting things.
Friend: He has a webpage where he posts stuff like this.
Friend #2: Yeah, he keeps a blog.
Me: Shh…mai kong chu lai wa eh website eh mia.
(Shh…don’t mention the name of my website)

Photos of the stitching:

prep
Preping for stitching…

stitch
The stitching is done using a metal hook with a running thread.

suture
Suturing…

bandage
Bandaged!

Video of the doctor stitching and suturing the wound:
Doctor stitching wound video clip [sixthseal.com]

I happened to notice what looked like “Water for Injections BP” at
the bottom of the tray where the procedure was done. I checked for CCTV
systems and other possible recording devices in the room and did not
see any. I was filming and taking photos the whole time and stealthily
moved nearer and nearer to my friend till I was sitting right beside
him, obscuring the view from the back (Nurse #1). The doctor was
preoccupied with the stitches and Nurse #2 was helping and I gauged
that their point of view would not include the tray.

mmm stuff

I allowed myself another furtive glimpse at the bottom drawer and
mentally noted the position of the one that I could safely remove with
the least noise and disturbance to avoid unwanted attention. I moved
closer yet, and snapped a photo, before putting the digicam down on my
lap, and in the very same movement, blindly reached out for the
memorized position coordinates while pretending to be engrossed with
the doctor’s work. It did not make a noise at all, when removed from
the container.

xylocaine

I held it in my right hand, palms fully extended, with it pressing
against my thigh to conceal it, before pretending to reach into my
right pocket for my cell phone. I was actually transferring the item
I…er, relieved from the hospital’s inventory into my pocket. Easy. :)
I was pleasantly surprised when I inspected the item once we got out of
the hospital…it’s not “Water for Injections BP” but Xylocaine 2%
lignocaine injection in a 5 ml sterile pack containing 100 mg of
lignocaine. =D

lignocaine

This is the very same local anesthetic that the doctor used on my
friend, and he mentioned that it felt totally numb when the solution
was administered. I don’t think anyone would consider lignocaine to be
recreational, but veritas will be self-administrating and posting up an
experience report, just for fun. I guess being numb for a while in a
localized area can be considered “recreational”, so I’m looking forward
to it. The experience report will be up once I show my filial piety by
getting some insulin syringes (the doctor used a large gauge needle
though) from the pharmacy for my, er..late grandfather who has
diabetes. ;)

olfen back

The doctor also prescribed a blister pack of Olfen-50 (Diclofenec-Na
50 mg tablets) for pain management. My friend took two and donated the
rest of the strip to veritas for his fun experiments with
pharmaceuticals. I’m not familiar with this particular substance and
I’ll have to research this to see if it has any recreational potential.
I also made a crack about why no oxycodone (Oxycontin) was prescribed
and the traige nurse glared at me. Oh well…

olfen front

Saturday Shenanigans indeed…

Guide to HIV testing in Malaysia

gribbles bob
My ELISA results from Gribbles – HIV negative (HIV 1 & 2 antibodies: Not Detected)
This means I don’t have HIV (the virus which causes AIDS)

Warning: This is a very serious post.

It doesn’t seem like there is a wide awareness about HIV and AIDS in
Malaysia, especially in smaller towns. There’s this phrase – “When you
fuck someone, you’re fucking every single person that person has ever
had sex with”. Granted, the chances of infection via a single exposure
is nowhere near 100% but it is still a very serious risk. HIV
tests, which some people incorrectly call “AIDS tests”, checks for HIV
antibodies. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. Contrary to popular
belief, most HIV infections are transmitted though sexual activity and
NOT (safety conscious) injecting drug users.

The “data” the government publishes is skewed since prison inmates
and drug rehabilitation center admissions are subject to mandatory
testing, while there’s no mandatory HIV testing for people caught
patronizing brothels. There is also no mandatory testing for every
citizen of Malaysia (which I assume would be unconstitutional). The
statistics are further fudged since inmates convicted with a drug
related offence and/or fails a drug test who tests out to be HIV + is
recorded under “injecting drug users”, even though the vector of
transmission could very well be sexual contact. Feel free to question a
prison administrative officer if you doubt the veracity of my claims.

The presence of HIV antibodies (antibodies detected) means you
should start writing your will, while the absence of HIV antibodies
(antibodies not detected) means you can breathe a sigh of relief. Thus,
if your HIV antibody test results come back as “Not Detected”, you’re
HIV negative (meaning you don’t have the virus – a Good Thing (TM)).
Some of the people I know have such a low awareness and an almost
nonchalant attitude towards this very serious condition, which worries
me, as I feel that there may be an epidemic going around on a scale
that can’t be measured, since not many people go for HIV testing.

Let’s digress a little and talk about why this issue concerns me so
much. I’ll be honest here – I’m fucking scared of HIV/AIDS. It started
from my childhood, I guess…I read a lot about HIV since I was born in
1981, and that was the year this disease made the media. I started
reading on an advanced level at a very early age and my mom kept all
these books about STD’s (they used to call it VD for Venereal Disease
then, but Sexually Transmitted Disease is the preferred term now)
around the house.

It scared me to death. I was so afraid of that book I didn’t want it
in the house. It had graphic pictures of end stage AIDS patients and
long lists of potential symptoms. It was definitely not suitable as
childhood reading material. Bear in mind that I was only 9 or 10 around
that time and I had read lots and lots of HIV/AIDS articles and
research papers. It was like a morbid fascination. It scares me to read
it, yet there was this dirty and retch inducing urge to read about it. I spent many hours each day thinking about STDs…

That’s when my phobia about STD’s, and more specifically HIV
started. It was a real phobia – I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I
would accidentally bump into someone in public and worry that somehow
lacerations invisible to the naked eye on both our bodies would
transmit the disease to me, even though I know that’s unlikely. I would
make my parents bring me for HIV testing when I touch a public toilet
door lock and accidentally touch my genitals while taking a piss, even
though I know it doesn’t spread that way and I know how long the HIV
virus would survive outside the body (not very long).

But like I said, it’s a phobia and phobias are irrational by nature.
I was young (primary school age) and I didn’t have a medical counselor
like first year med school students had, so it overwhelmed me. I guess
I’ve never blogged about such a personal issue, though I’ve hinted at
it in my veritas posts. I can’t have sex with people who have not gone
through a HIV test under my supervision. Yup, you can all laugh now,
but it’s no laughing matter for me. It scares me every single day, even
though I don’t engage in high risk behavior. Like I said, phobias are
irrational.

I’m no virgin even according to Bill Clinton’s definition of sex, so
there’s nothing wrong with my equipment. My family jewels are perfectly
fine, thank you very much; it’s just the irrational psychological fear
of being exposed to HIV that manifests in the most efficient way – me
losing my erection. I simply can’t maintain an erection during
penetration unless I’m sure it’s absolutely safe. It’s like my brain
associates sex with HIV, and I just can’t do it (literally, try
stuffing a prune into the slot in a piggy bank) unless the receptive
partner takes a HIV test and it comes out negative.

I usually go for HIV tests every 3 months. That might seem like
irrational behavior since I don’t engage in high risk activities, but
phobias are irrational by nature. I take both the ELISA and Western
Blot, and I’ll go for the RIPA (damn expensive, it should be called RIPA hole in your pocket)
and PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction – instantly makes your wallet
significantly slimmer) too if I have the money. Here’s a short
explanation about the tests, this is from memory, so please correct me
if I’m mistaken, but I’m pretty sure I’m not since I’ve been following
this issue with morbid fascination (the kind that attracts and revolts
you at the same time) for a long time.

First, here’s two terms you should be familiar with:

False Positive (FP) – Test came out as positive, but you’re really HIV negative.
False Negative (FN) – Test came out negative, but you’re really HIV positive.

The first one means that it’s a false alarm – ELISA (and some
others) is highly sensitive, which has the potential to induce heart
attacks. ;) The second one is the one you should fear, that’s why
paranoid people like me go to three different pathology laboratories
every time just to make sure no one fucks up and returns a FN when
you’re really HIV +. It’s an expensive phobia to entertain…

Tests:

These are the two common ones available in Malaysia.

Enzyme-linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA)
This is the most common and cheapest (around RM 20) test available –
it’s highly sensitive and it’s what most people refer to when they
mention HIV testing. I’ve never gotten a False Positive (FP) before,
thank God, but ELISA has been associated with that, as well as False
Negatives (FN), so beware. It is better to take the Western Blot
together with this. Some laboratories would give you a strange look,
since people usually only take the much more expensive WB for
confirmation if ELISA returns a positive, since ELISA is highly
sensitive. Insist on Western Blot anyway.

Western Blot (WB)
This is a more accurate (precise) test but it’s damn expensive.
Gribbles offer ELISA + Western Blot for RM 250 here. ELISA results come
back quickly (3-5 days max) while Western Blot takes longer (YMMV,
since blood samples in Kuching are sent to KL for WB since there are no
such facilities here). However, be prepared for about 1-2 weeks for
your WB results to come back.

Other tests:

I’ve only seen these in Australia.

RIPA
This is a test that’s much more expensive than ELISA and Western Blot.
I’ve only taken it twice due to the obscene charges, but it’s worth it
if you’re a hypochondriac. The doctor might ask you why you want to
take this, due to the price, but no one would stop you from taking the
test. They’re probably just puzzled about why someone would opt for the
full battery of HIV tests.

Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)
This one deals a real blow to the wallet. It’s a highly specialized
test that can detect someone who’s just recently infected. That’s the
good part – it’s able to detect HIV antibodies faster than ELISA and
Western Blot. This is due to the incubation period, which I’ll explain
later. I’ve only taken PCR once since it’s too expensive.

HIV has an “incubation period” and it does take some time (3 months
is usually quoted, though there are cases where 6-12 months are cited)
before HIV antibodies develop. Thus, you will test as HIV negative if
HIV seroconversion hasn’t occurred. Now, this is an important concept
to grasp. HIV seroconversion can happen anywhere from 2 weeks to
several months after the initial infection.

HIV seroconversion comes after the “incubation period” –
seroconversion is the term for the time when HIV antibodies start
replicating. It can be accompanied by fever, malaise (tiredness),
flu-like symptoms, lymph node enlargement (as your body tries to fight
off the invasion unsuccessfully) and other general indicators, though
some people do not experience these symptoms during the seroconversion
period.

This is meant for people who’re not aware of how HIV/AIDS works, so
excuse me for explaining things which may be obvious to people who’re
already aware of it. HIV positive people have “AIDS” to use an
incorrect, but easy to understand statement. Basically, if you’re HIV
positive, it will develop to full blown AIDS (you will have AIDS) after
a dormant and symptom-less period (6-10 years is usually the figure).
It is important that you understand the difference between the terms
“dormant and symptom-less period” and “incubation period”.

It is also very important to know that you will only test as HIV positive AFTER HIV seroconversion occurs, which can take up to a year.

Example:
Dick is HIV positive (HIV +) while Sharon is HIV negative (HIV -). Dick
has unprotected insertive sex (“bareback”, or “fucking without a
condom”, to avoid too much jargon) with Sharon. It is statistically
easier for a male to infect a female with HIV. Thus, in this example, Sharon becomes infected with HIV.

Sharon wakes up the next day with one fuck of a hangover and
remembers the previous night’s shenanigans. Dick has a reputation for
sleeping around so Sharon is worried and goes to a pathology lab the
next day to request for a HIV test. The test results came out a couple
of days after that and Sharon burst into song with joy since the test
shows that she’s HIV negative (HIV antibodies not detected).

She throws a big party for everyone and vowed not to have
unprotected sex ever again. Sharon is under the mistaken impression
that she’s HIV negative. HIV seroconversion has not occurred yet and
thus, the results did not detect any HIV antibodies. She went for the test too soon.

Two weeks after that, Sharon came down with a fever and exhibits
flu-like symptoms. She went to a doctor, who gave her some medication
and she went home, still happy as a bird that she’s HIV negative.
Wrong. She has already been infected with HIV. The first test she took
did not reflect that coz it takes time for HIV seroconversion to occur.

Three months after the Dick affair, Sharon met David and they
started going out. David suggested that both of them take blood tests
for HIV before they initiate any sexual contact. Sharon did not mind at
all, as she did not know about the incubation period and had mistakenly
put the Dick affair behind her after her first test results came back
negative.

David and Sharon went to a pathology lab together and samples of
their blood were collected for HIV antibody testing. Two days later,
the lovebirds went eagerly into the pathology lab in the morning to
collect their results. They had made big plans for the night – dinner,
movies and (finally) their very first sexual rendezvous.

David collected his ELISA results. It says “HIV 1 and 2 antibody:
Not Detected”. Wonderful news! The couple kisses. The nurse however,
had an unreadable expression on her face. She politely asked that
Sharon come with her to see the doctor. “It’s probably a mix up of some
sort”, thought Sharon and trotted with David into the consultation room.

The doctor breaks the news to Sharon. “Please be prepared for what
I’m about to say. Your HIV test results came back positive both times
on the ELISA and we ran the Western Blot on it for confirmation. The
Western Blot result confirms that the blood sample taken from you
tested positive for HIV antibodies.”

Sharon was stunned. David was equally shocked. “I don’t understand…there must be a mistake…”, Sharon managed to squeak out.

“I’m afraid not, the samples are carefully labeled and tested on
site. Please understand that HIV is a chronic but manageable condition
with the advances in modern pharmacology – it is not uncommon to live
for 10 years or more before it develops into AIDS. We have counselors
here if you would like to speak to them. I know this is a big shock to
you, and I hope that this counselor would be of help. She’s very
experienced with people living with HIV and AIDS”, the doctor replied
while scribbling a name and number on his notepad, tearing it out and
handing it to Sharon.

Sharon left the building in a shocked daze. David was surprisingly
uncommunicative and did not offer any words of support or comfort. The
couple drove home in silence. David stayed in his car while Sharon got
out, still in shock and denial about her HIV positive test result.
“Aren’t you coming out?”, Sharon asked in a puzzled tone. “I’m sure it
was just a mistake, I’ll take the test again tomorrow and it’ll be
fine, you’ll see!”, she added cheerily.

David was avoiding eye contact with her. When he finally spoke, it
was in a hushed, flat tone. “I think we should stop seeing each other”,
David said, all the while sordidly looking straight ahead. “I don’t
understand…it was just a mistake, you see! The pathology lab just
mixed my results up with someone else’s that’s all!”, Sharon pleaded.

David remained silent for a minute and said with finality – “HIV is
a death sentence…your health will slowly deteriorate as you reach
critical HIV viral loads. When that happens, your compromised immune
system would be very susceptible to any infectious disease. I don’t
want to die with you. I’m sorry Sharon.”

Sharon watched shell shocked as David drove away from her porch. She
was found three days later lying in a warm bath with both her wrists
slit. Her left hand was still holding the razor blade and the bathtub
was filled with blood. The forensics team found an inscription finger
painted in blood on the wall of the bathroom. It reads:

HIV – It’s the gift that keeps on giving…but mine ends here with me…

Oops…I think I got a little carried away with that story. :) I was
practicing my creative writing skills…the ending is cliche, I’ll be
the first one to admit that, but I reckon it was a nice ending. What do
you think? How’s my fiction writing skills? It’s cheesy but it’s a very
likely scenario. What would you do if your partner in a relationship is
HIV positive? Would you continue to cherish and love them or dump them
like an…er, AIDS infected person?

On a serious note, and back on topic, there is a lot of debate even
amongst medical professionals about the incubation period, latency from
initial infection to HIV seroconvertion, and post-seroconversion life
span. It’s all variable according to the individual’s heath, whether
they’re taking an effective regiment of medication to lower viral loads
and many other affecting factors. Nevertheless, HIV/AIDS is still a
death sentence, in the sense that you will eventually die (but then
again, life is a death sentence as well, but that’s digressing) unless
some breakthroughs occur in this area of research.

Anyway, I’ve seen some doctors who do not even know what HIV
seroconversion is! The ignorance and misinformation surrounding
HIV/AIDS is appalling. You can either choose to listen to those
doctors, or listen to paranoid me. I humbly suggest the latter, even
though I’m not a trained medical professional, since my methods ensures
utter peace of mind.

Let’s get the facts out of the way first. Having unprotected sex
with someone who is HIV + does not necessarily mean that you will catch
the virus, the statistics are admittedly low, but this is one disease
you don’t want, so just don’t take the risk. Bleach won’t kill HIV in a
vacuum type environment (eg a syringe), so NEVER share syringes or ANY
injecting equipment. I can provide sources (understanding pharmacies)
who can supply single use insulin syringes and sterile water in KL,
Kuching and Sibu if you email me. Please title the subject as “Injecting equipment – (either KL, Kuching or Sibu)” since I have a strict spam filter.

There is circumstantial evidence that circumcised males have a lower
risk of infection. Females have a higher risk of getting infected
compared to males due to the nature of the plumbing. That said, it is
still very dangerous to have unprotected sex with an untested
partner. Please don’t ever do it. Oral sex can transmit HIV as well, no
penetration is required. Safer sex (condoms) lowers the risk of
transmission, but it is NOT 100% safe!

Which leads us back to HIV testing…if you’re in a new
relationship, insist on having HIV tests together before any sexual
contact is initiated. IMHO, if the other party refuses, there’s
something very wrong here. Common excuses are:

1. “I’m insulted you even suggested that! Who do you think I am?”
2. “I will not take the test because it’s an invasion of my privacy!”
3. “Are you suggesting that I sleep around?”
4. “I’m outraged! You should trust me!”
5. “I’m afraid of blood/needles…”

In the case of 1-4, you can try telling your partner that doing this
is actually GOOD for the relationship, since there would be peace of
mind when sexual intercourse inevitably occurs. It works both ways.
It’s not about trust or privacy. It’s just a necessity in this society
where your partner probably has one or more sexual partners in the
past. If the partner objects, that might be a sign they have something
to hide, so personally, I’ll pass and move along (quickly).

Excuse #5 should be easy to rectify, if that’s the truth, i.e.
they’re really afraid of needles/blood and not trying to hide anything.
Some gentle assurance that the procedure won’t hurt might be beneficial
and it’s important that you go with him/her and provide emotional
support eg holding their hand, talking soothingly etc while the blood
sample is taken.

Benzodiazepines works wonders in calming people down – I suggest
alprazolam (Xanax) for its fast acting and strong anxiolytic
(anti-anxiety) effects. PLEASE EDUCATE THE SUBJECT ABOUT
BENZODIAZEPINES AND THEIR EXPECTED EFFECTS BEFORE THEY CONSUME IT.
Never force or emotionally coerce someone to take anything. It should
ONLY be taken by a willing adult, fully knowing the effects and what to
expect.

hiv xanax

I suggest (Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, just a person experienced
with benzodiazepines) 0.5 mg – 1 mg alprazolam for non-benzodiazepine
tolerant people (PO, SL is a bit hard for new people to handle due to
the bitter taste). 2 mg or more would only be justified in non-reactive
person(s) or people with a severe phobia for syringes and blood. The
point is to slightly sedate, not knock out, the subject. Again, I must
state that this should be agreed to and willingly taken by the subject.

The maximum anti-anxiety effects should kick in at around 10 – 30
minutes after the initial dose, but the time may vary in different
people. Just ask how they feel eg “How are you feeling now?” to
establish the peak plasma concentration time. That would be the optimum
time to walk in for the blood test, and make sure you’re there for
support.

Here’s a totally irresponsible bit of advice on how to get
benzodiazepines if you don’t have access to any – please understand
that I’m only saying this because I would like to create HIV/AIDS
awareness and promote HIV testing:

1. Go for the HIV test yourself first.
2. Come in 2 hours later and act all strung out and scared shitless.
3. Claim you’re REALLY worried about the results and would appreciate anything to help with the anxiety.
4. Mention that you’ve been prescribed alprazolam (Xanax) before for anxiety and it really helped.
5. Leverage the 1-3 days results turnover to get a reasonable amount. It helps if you’re experienced with doctor shopping.

I managed to bum 2 blister packs (strips) of 10 x 0.5 mg alprazolam
(Xanax), 2 blister packs of 10 x 5 mg clorazepate dipotassium (Sanor 5)
and 5 x 2 mg clonazepam (Rivotril) in my latest HIV test (shown above).
That’s 10 mg of Xanax, 100 mg of clorazepate and 10 mg of Rivotril, but
I’m experienced with doctor shopping and can be a good actor if I want
to, so YMMV. Nevertheless, any self-respecting doctor would prescribe
some form of benzodiazepine to you, since its short term and perfectly
indicated for the situation. I strongly suggest alprazolam (Xanax) as
it’s perfect for this situation.

hiv benzos

I actually tried to squeeze more out of the doctor – he had a drawer
FULL of benzodiazepines, and I was like a kid in a candy store, going
“Can I have 10 blister packs of that, 10 of these, 50 tablets of that
etc” and he laughed and said “No, I’ll only give you four strips and
you can have a couple of clonazepam tablets if you want”. Smart, this
one. Has a sense of humor too. :)

Now that we’ve taken the hard part of the equation out (convincing your partner to take the test), here’s veritas’s guide to HIV testing in Malaysia.

There is only one rule.

Remember it.

Rule #1 – Your name is Bob.

It’s Bob. It’s not (insert your name here). My name is always Bob
when I go for tests. I’m not Poh Huai Bin, my name is Bob. I always use
my real name in Australia as they provide confidential blood tests but
remember this, and listen real carefully:

Don’t ever give out your real name in Malaysia.

Malaysia DOES NOT provide confidential HIV testing. If your results
shows you’re HIV positive, the doctor is OBLIGED to report you and give
your personal details to the Ministry of Health who KEEPS A DATABASE OF
PEOPLE LIVING WITH HIV AND AIDS. They WILL conduct periodic checks on
you if you get into that database.

There’s an addendum to Rule #1 – NEVER donate blood unless you’re sure you’re HIV negative!
This is because the blood bank will contact you if your blood tests out
to be HIV positive. The usual procedure is to ask you to come in for
another test due to “unusual results”. They will do a Western Blot if
you fail the ELISA twice. You are not anonymous when you donate blood.
You WILL get into that database if your Western Blot returns positive.

Please note that I am TOTALLY AGAINST people who are HIV + and
continue spreading the virus. You will die a horrible, miserable death
and burn in hell for all eternity if you continue having sexual contact
after knowing your HIV status. It is also ILLEGAL to knowingly infect
others and I hope you go to jail and die inside there.

The reason I’m for anonymous testing is because I’m against the
unconstitutional database of people living with HIV/AIDS in Malaysia,
which is a major privacy infringement. The way I see it, if you’re HIV
+, you can either do one of two things:

1. Suicide (if your religion does not prohibit that).
2. Live with it and NEVER have sexual contact or other activity which could transmit the virus.

I strongly encourage people to go for HIV tests since I believe
there’s an epidemic waiting to happen with the trend towards
indiscriminate sexual exposure and a general lack of education about
the severity of HIV and AIDS and common vectors of transmission. I’ve
heard shockers like “Using a condom makes sex unexciting” from both
males and females. I’m quite sure the reported HIV/AIDS figures in
Malaysia are totally incorrect due to the lack of mandatory HIV testing
except for Muslim couples in Johor.

Here’s a scenario for you. John Doe seems to be a well educated,
intelligent and HIV aware person. He only has one sexual partner (let’s
call her X) in the past and she seems to be HIV aware and careful as
well. X has 10 sexual partners in the past. Each of X’s partners has an
average of 5 previous sexual partners. Fucking John Doe means you’re
essentially fucking 50 other strangers you don’t know.

This is just the calculations for 3 degrees of removal. In real
life, the number would be much more. Let’s assume that X had a stroke
of bad luck and one of her 10 partners infected her with HIV. X did not
know about this and unwittingly infected John Doe as well. Now, you
come into the picture and fuck John Doe. Oops. You can’t tell if
someone is HIV positive just by looking at them. I’ve heard this
shocker from a DOCTOR who said “I don’t think she’s HIV positive”, just
by LOOKING at the subject. May the Lord save his soul! There is no way to tell if someone is HIV positive without going for tests!

How to take anonymous HIV tests in Malaysia

1. Go to a new (one who doesn’t have your medical records) doctor
who offers this service. Ensure the doctor does not know you because
usually doctor-patient privilege means jack shit in Malaysia. Also,
make sure the pathology lab they outsource tests to is reputable.
2. Tell the nurse you want to see the doctor for a blood test. Here’s where they ask for your IC (Identity Card).
3. Politely refuse to hand it over and decline to reveal any
information and say that you just want to be known as “Bob” due to
personal reasons.

IF the nurse says they need your personal information, ask to speak
to the doctor. Explain to the doctor that you want to take a HIV test
and would like to remain anonymous. Most professional doctors will be
accommodating. If they’re not, go back to #1 and repeat till you find
an understanding one.

1. The doctor may make small talk eg asking where you work, what
your name is etc. You should not answer these questions. Reply with a
polite “I’m truly sorry doctor, please don’t take any offence, but I’ll
prefer not to reveal personal information”.
2. You will probably be given the ELISA test. You can opt for the Western Blot as well, if you have the money.
3. The doctor will swab you and insert a needle with a large gauge
(hole, if you will) after finding your veins with a tourniquet.
4. You will be expected to clench and unclench your fist for blood to drain into the test tube.
5. Once a suitable amount of blood sample is taken, you’ll be given a
reference number (if you’re not given one, please ask for it, since
you’re only “Bob” and you need a unique reference number to collect
your results).

Here’s a couple of photos of the HIV blood test procedure, this subject is “Jane”:

hiv syringe
The doctor registers a vein and starts to draw blood.

hiv blood
This is the test tube where the subject’s blood sample is transfered for HIV testing.

Now, listen to me carefully. The doctor is legally obliged to hand
over your particulars to the Ministry of Health if your results test
out positive. There is a stupid way and a smart way to get around this.
The stupid way (which is not recommended, it’s called stupid for a
reason) is to come in, gauge the expression of the nurse or doctor
(they will know your result, they are able to see it) – if you sense
something amiss, grab the results and run out of the clinic before they
have a chance to stop you. No one will stop you anyway, but this is the
stupid way, there is one loophole that allows a more subtle approach.

Now, please listen up, this is the only way to get anonymous test
results in Malaysia. This requires a truly understanding doctor, and I
have a recommendation if you’re in Kuching.

Loophole:
The doctor is obliged to inform the authorities if you’re HIV + and
give them your personal information. The doctor does not have your
personal information, Bob. :)
Negotiate with the doctor about test result retrieval. This is the only
way that allows the doctor to maintain his professional integrity and
stay on the right side of the law and yet allows you to remain
anonymous. Most doctors will agree to this, if they went into the
medical profession with an altruistic desire to help people instead of
other reasons.

Here’s the loophole – tell the doctor that you’ll be calling him to ask about your HIV test results.

1. Make an agreement with the doctor that if your test result is
negative, it will be conveyed over the phone eg “Hello, good news, you
tested negative on the ELISA”. If the test result is positive, ask for
the doctor to tell you to come in and collect your results eg “Hello,
your test results are back, please come in to collect it.”
2. Now, call the doctor from a public phone eg “Hello, this is Bob, and
I was wondering if the HIV test results have come in yet”.

If the doctor says “Hello Bob, your results came back – all clear,
negative for HIV” go in and collect the test result. You’re HIV
negative. :)

However, if the doctor says “Hello Bob, your results are in, please
come in and collect it”, don’t go in. You already know what your result
is based upon the previously agreed upon phrase. You’re HIV positive.
Sorry.
P/S – Please verify HIV status by taking more HIV tests in other
pathology labs before you jump off that building. It could be a false
positive.

To reiterate, you have to make an agreement with an understanding doctor about the procedure for collecting the test result.

The deal goes this way – if your results are negative, then the
doctor will tell you over the phone. However, if your results turn out
to be positive he’ll ask you to come in and collect it. Notice the
difference?

Do you see how this works now?

The doctor did not breach any ethical code by telling you over the
phone that your results are negative. It’s good news, he’s just
informing you about that to save you from unnecessary anxiety.
On the other hand, he has fulfilled his legal obligation by asking you
to come in to collect your test results if it’s positive, since he’ll
need to record your personal details. He has told you to come in, you
just didn’t go in, and there’s nothing he can do about that, he’s not
responsible for no-shows.

Most doctors will be happy to do this if you ask nicely. There you have it – anonymous and totally private HIV testing in Malaysia!

Please feel free to comment and ask for clarification if you have any questions about how this works.

gribbles jane
Jane’s ELISA results – also HIV negative. Remember that you’re “Bob” if you’re male and “Jane” if you’re female. ;)

I’ll be honest here and say that I’ve gone for many, many HIV and
other STD tests. I don’t need it, since I don’t engage in risky
behavior. However, I have an intense fear for HIV, which I blame on the
young exposure to age inappropriate material without a councilor to
talk to. Did you know that I secretly sneaked out to see a doctor when
I was in Primary 4 (10 years old) to test for gonorrhea coz I’ve been
reading about it and I was convinced I have it even though I haven’t
even had sex at that age. I told the doctor not to tell my parents, but
he did. Oh well.

That’s just the way I am…it’s like the first year medical student
syndrome – you start noticing and obsessing about having a disease coz
the symptoms all match (at least in your mind). Unfortunately for me, I
did not have counseling services at that time, so it really affected
me. I spend hours each day worrying about diseases. I’ll be a
hypochondriac for life if I don’t have benzodiazepines.

I’ll do things to make myself forget about imaginary symptoms. One
of my favorites at that time was stuffing my right fist into my mouth.
Try it and see how it feels. :) Your jaws are bent and aching, which
provides a brief respite from the anxiety in your mind. I also scrape
my knee on purpose by falling down intentionally. It helps to get those
nasty, scary thoughts out of your mind if you make a proper wound and
jab it every time you get paranoid.

One particularly bad time required me to swallow this one meter long
plastic toy sword so I can think about choking instead of catching some
disease just coz I accidentally bumped into someone. I didn’t like to
have physical contact with anyone then, I’m afraid they’ll somehow
transmit a disease to me (I have a very vivid and unstoppable
imagination). I still feel uncomfortable about physical contact, though
benzodiazepines help a lot.

I guess you can say that my childhood was a little unusual. OCD used
to play a dominant part as well. I won’t go into that since there’s too
many to mention but one constant manifestation is snapping my fingers
on my right hand, starting from the fore finger till the thumb to
“open” (or start, if you will) the issue. Depending on the intensity of
the anxiety and worry, the repetition can vary from one to 35 times
(for extreme moments of fear).

I would then think about the issue I’m afraid of, going through it
many times, usually an even number so it won’t happen again (coz if
it’s even, it’s settled, divisible by two). This can last from minutes
to several hours and if someone breaks my train of thought by talking
to me, I would have to quickly “close” the issue by snapping the
fingers on my left hand for the equal number of times that I did for my
right hand (so that it will be closed, if it’s not the same, it’s bad
coz it’s still open) and restart again.

This can happen many times a day…I would think “I think I didn’t
snap my fingers on that left hand hard enough that third time, so the
issue is still open” and I’ll have to repeat the process all over
again, using a higher number to “overwrite” the botched one. Well,
since I’m telling you all so much about my psychological history, I’ll
just tell you something that no one knows, except for my immediate
family and doctor.

Retracted penis syndrome…have you ever heard of that? It’s either
known as koru or kuro in Malaysia and it’s a psychosomatic condition
that would be diagnosed as panic attacks now. Now here’s the strange
thing. I’ve never even known that something like that existed until
recently. I’ve experienced it without even knowing about it!

There was this time where I worry constantly about my penis. I would
imagine that my left testicle seems lumpy and I was afraid that it was
cancer of the testicles but didn’t have the means to test (my parents
thought I was crazy anyway – “psycho” was the term my mom used) it
properly then. I did get my parents to bring me to a doctor, and he
pronounced that my testicles are perfectly fine.

But I only felt assured in the doctor’s office. I started worrying
again once I got home. What if that doctor was wrong? He’s just a GP
after all. It kept on worrying me till I was 16, I had always thought I
would die early of testicular cancer, till I finally managed to get a
proper test when I got to New Zealand. No malignancy anywhere, it’s
just natural for some veins to feel larger.

Back to my rather disconcerting experience with RPS, it was when I
was 11 years old or so. I still remember it like yesterday. I was
sitting on the bottom step of my stairs worrying about STD’s as usual.
I would go through the whole day, trying to remember if I touched my
penis after my hands were “dirtied” by touching something in a public
place.

I knew it won’t transmit STD’s…heck, I knew much more about STDs
than many people even at that tender age. Back to retracted penis
syndrome incident, I was sitting on the bottom step of the stairs at
home. It was night and I noticed that my short pants had some kind of
stain on it. In hindsight, it was probably pre-cum, but I thought it
was pus from some STD that I contracted by accidentally touching some
nasty things in the toilet.

I was cracking my fingers in my right hand to start my scary
thoughts when it happened. I felt my penis shrinking. I was alarmed. I
checked and saw that it was shrinking. I screamed for help and my
parents came running and asked what’s wrong. I said my penis was
disappearing into my body and I was panicking and there was this
overwhelming feeling of impending doom – I was going to die if my penis
disappears into my body and I was trying desperately to pull it out.

I was terrified, I’ve never felt so afraid before and I was pleading
for help, it was getting smaller by the second and I’m going to die and
I was pulling as hard as I can and begging and praying to God to just
let my penis come back again. It was not my imagination as I saw my
father’s face when he looked at me desperately tugging at my phallus –
he was shocked and immediately pulled it with me to stop it from
completely disappearing.

It was just a nub at the worst point…and we were holding to it for
a full minute while I was hyperventilating and feeling faint. It felt
like the whole phallus was falling into my body forever and I would
die, I must pull it out. It did stop retracting after a while
and my parents took me to a doctor the next day who said that my
genitalia is perfectly fine. It was my first panic attack. I guess you
could call it that. Psychosomatic panic attacks…damn those mind
fuckers.

My point is, I’ve always had issues with chronic anxiety, which is
debilitating…one of my closest friends told me that he doesn’t
understand why I take drugs, because most people who take drugs are
from broken families and my family is “normal”. I consider him one of
my best friends and I knew he means well. I didn’t think I answered
that question then.

I’ll answer it now. It’s not just people from broken families who
take drugs, that’s a gross generalization. Drugs give me an outlet to
another state of mind, one that isn’t constantly worrying about one
thing or another. It’s an ephemeral escape into another state of mind.
I feel like I can be all that I can be on methamphetamine. I love the
emotional bonding that MDMA induces. I take magic mushrooms and LSD
because of some sadistic desire to induce bad trips. I smoke cannabis
because I’m bored. I drink heavily so that I can sleep. I heavily
self-medicate with benzodiazepines because it makes me sane.

I’m self destructive. I don’t care that my heavy daily drinking is
culling my brain cells and destroying my liver. I don’t care that my
benzodiazepine use is excessive, or that I would probably be on it for
life, because it gives me blessed peace. Everyone is pressuring me to
taper off benzodiazepines. I’ll be honest here and admit that I’ve
never even tried to taper. It was all a farce to make everyone happy.

But I don’t want to make everyone happy. I want to make myself
happy. I want to be free from anxiety and excessive and irrational
thoughts. I once thought I stepped on a syringe while walking. It
turned out to be a rusty nail but I was still irrationally worried
about HIV. I was franticly searching for the nearest hospital to get
zidovudine (ZDV).

I know this nurse (who requested not to be named when I called her
to ask for permission, and I have to honor that since she reads this
blog :p) who had a needle stick injury once. She was giving a patient
an IV injection and in a temporary lapse of judgment, used her right
hand to cap the syringe instead of docking the cap and inserting the
syringe into the dock tray (the safe way to go about it). She was
seriously considering zidovudine therapy while the pathology division
of the hospital she’s attached to ran an emergency HIV blood test on
that patient using a rapid HIV test that can detect newly infected
people (PCR).

There are studies that suggest post exposure use of zidovudine may
reduce the probability of you being infected with HIV. It’s kinda like
a pre-emptive strike – you have to take it immediately after exposure
and finish the course, which would make you as sick as a dog, but may
reduce the chances of you contracting HIV. The efficacy of this has
been argued by many medical professionals, and it’s not easy to obtain,
so you won’t be able to do something like have unprotected sex and go
on ZDV. It just doesn’t work that way.

The rusty nail incident happened several years ago. It was just a
rusty nail but I was frantic…I had already planned to jump over the
counter and resist security while I search for zidovudine if push comes
to shove and they won’t hand it over.

My latest HIV test (March 2004) came back negative, as always, but
I’m already budgeting for the next one. I’ve never talked about this
before, it’s kinda personal and people might think I’m mentally unsound
but yeah, now you know why I have issues with irrational anxiety and
the extent of my hypochondriac thoughts.

This is just one facet of it – my phobia about HIV. This is the
reason I don’t fuck around. I’m just too scared of contracting HIV that
my penis automatically balks and loses its erectile function as a self
defense mechanism before penetration, so you’ll never see me follow
through on sexual prepositions. I just joke around – I have a myriad of
excuses in my excuse bank to avoid actually doing it. My two favorites
are “Benzodiazepines have muscle relaxant properties and my heavy
benzodiazepine therapy makes me unable to maintain an erection, so I
can’t fuck you” and “I’m coming down so hard on methamphetamine, I can
barely stand, much less fuck”. ;)

I will only have sexual intercourse with someone who tested negative
consistently over at least a six month period with the whole battery of
available HIV antibody detection tests who isn’t sexually active with
anyone other than me. I’m not saying that I’m “holier than thou”, au
contraire, I’m just fucked up inside my head. I don’t engage in
behavior that would put me at risk for HIV infection, so a rational
person would not shell out this kind of money for regular and
unnecessary (for me) HIV blood tests. But as I’ve mentioned many times,
phobias are irrational by nature. :) I make light of things, but I
really do have many issues with chronic anxiety and I have serious
hypochondriac tendencies that can only be kept in check (somewhat) by
benzodiazepines.

I don’t know how much I’ve spent on doctors and medical tests…

Update:

gribbles wb envelope
The doctor’s Gribbles envelope which he gave me. I also managed to bum
some benzos off him in the process. Heh. He also gave me a book about
Christianity. *shrugs*

bob western blot
My Western Blot (WB) test results – all clear! =D

jane western blot
WB results for “Jane” – clean slate.

Doctors are always quick to try and get me to taper off benzodiazepines. I don’t want to return to all that craziness.

I know that a lot of doctors will sprout that the chances of HIV
transmission via sexual intercourse is relatively low, but do you
honestly want to take the chance?

gribbles hiv

Be safe. Be responsible. Go for HIV testing.

This is the first community service article brought to you by sixthseal.com :)

We like to provide quality content for all audiences, so here’s a new post at veritas’s domain:
Methamphetamine in Kuching, Sarawak [castitas.com]

P/S – The subject matter which my dear guest author* goes into is
not for everyone. Please don’t click the link unless you like reading
veritas’s posts.

* The terms “guest author”, “alter ego” and “pseudonym” means the same thing in my dictionary and is used interchangeably. ;)

Newsflash: Another clinic hit by notorious doctor shopper veritas

Sarawak, MY. 29th February 2004. Leaping into the new leap year, the
city of Kuching today saw another clinic issuing a permanent script for
benzodiazepines to veritas, a seasoned doctor shopper who has managed
to obtain multiple legitimate scripts for restricted items as diverse
as dexamphetamine (which is the dextro isomer of the potent stimulant
amphetamine) to various benzodiazepines, including flunitrazepam
(Rohypnol, the so called “date rape drug”) at the same time in the past.

drk front

He has emigrated to the city of Kuching and successfully procured 2
mg of clonazepam (better known as Rivotril or Klonopin) and 10 mg of
diazepam (the chemical name for Valium), infinitely renewable every two
weeks in his latest exploit, which he called “Doctor Shopping Kuching
Edition Issue #5”. The dazed doctor was left saying vaguely “Someone
came in and said he has social phobia, is new to Kuching, has been on
benzos for years and told me what he was prescribed.”

“I don’t really know what happened after that. I think I tried to
change his script to antidepressants but he knew all about SSRIs, NARIs
and tricyclics, taking the words out of my mouth before I’ve even
formed them. He even knew about Buspar and said it made him feel even
worse before I wanted to suggest it. Before I knew it, I found myself
docilely writing out what he wanted and asked him to come back every
two weeks. I even asked him if he wanted an extra 2 mg of clonazepam! I
can’t remember what happened, just wisps of memories, but I know he
somehow convinced me to write a permascript for him…very persuasive
but polite young man though”, he added.

drk back

We asked medical professionals about their opinion in this new
development. One doctor, who only wanted to be known as Dr. Lah (names
changed to protect the innocent) said “I hate that motherfucker! He’s
undermining the credibility of medical professionals like us and
flaunting his exploits on the Internet! I found several blister packs
of Dormicum missing during my stock take…I bet he’s the one who
bribed…er, nevermind.”, and fell silent. When asked whether he knew
that veritas’s sister is also a doctor practicing in Christchurch, New
Zealand, he immediately asked “Really? How old is she? Pretty or not?”,
while the 70 year old, small statured man worked on discreetly removing
his wedding ring.

One doctor, on the condition of anonymity, was quoted as saying “I
don’t really mind at all. I’ll like to welcome veritas and all the
people like him to my friendly clinic. You know lah, nowadays in
Kuching, you throw one stone, you’re bound to hit two doctors on the
head. Hard to make ends meet you know! I rather eng eng and just take
in clients, I mean, patients like veritas, in and out, script
him and off he goes. I don’t care for those people with real ailments.
I mean yuck…plus there’re not loyal some more. Only come when they’re
sick. Hmph! How can generate consistent revenue stream like that? I
like people like veritas who comes in every two weeks for a guaranteed
income, er…I mean, to help him with his condition. I’ll like to take
this opportunity to tell everyone that yes, there are understanding
doctors out there! Call me ya!”

drk diazepam
Generic APO 10 mg diazepam

Another doctor added “I’ll like to see him try that shit with me,
I’ll hoot him upside down, then he know!” The doctor later requested
that his name not be published.

We also interviewed some passerby’s for their opinion regarding this
issue. The first one, Hee Poh Krit vehemently denounced veritas’s
actions, saying that his shenanigans makes it harder for “legitimate
people suffering from anxiety to get benzodiazepines”. He refused to
comment further when asked whether he’s on benzodiazepine therapy, only
saying, “I take these things strictly according to the doctor’s
instructions coz I would feel bad otherwise”, in a high and mighty,
self righteous tone before hurrying away.

The next civilian, called Koh Pee Kat also condemned the activities,
though he ended his statement by saying, “Er…actually, I only know
that there’s a cheaper alternative to 5 zai (the local slang for black
market Erimin 5, a tablet containing the benzodiazepine nimetazepam)
after reading sixthseal.com and castitas.com. I dunno a benzo from a
banzai before being enlightened and I now use his techniques to doctor
shop. I don’t want to give him credit coz he’s my competition now. Even
though you can say he’s my guru.”, he added, hanging his head.

drk roche 2
Roche brand name 2 mg Rivotril tablets.

Another bystander, when asked for his opinion, merely said “Har? Lu kong hamik? Wa beh hiaw tiah ang moh.”

We finally managed to get hold of veritas and he only had this to
say: “Eh, help me keep track of my perma scripts okay? Dr Y (C) for 2
mg clonazepam and 2 mg lorazepam daily, refill every Saturday, Dr N (S)
for 30 mg phenobarbital and 10 mg diazepam daily, refills every other
Sunday and Dr K (K) for 2 mg clonazepam and 10 mg diazepam daily, go
for refills every alternate Saturday. Got it? Oh, and if I forget,
remind me first letter is the name of the doctor and second letter is
for the area. Thanks! Appreciate your help!”

When asked whether he knew that possessing multiple scripts is
illegal, he literally disappeared, leaving nothing but a person bearing
a remarkable resemblance to him who insists he’s not veritas but “Huai
Bin” and when asked about veritas, said “Who the hell is he and why
should we care for him?” before making a quick exit.

We do not know where or when the elusive veritas will resurface again, but we can be sure of one thing – he will strike again.

– sixthseal.com news

Firecrackers in Malaysia – photos, videos and descriptions

A sixthseal.com Chinese New Year special

Coloured Flowers – Chai Lei

colored flowers box

This is the classic Colored Flowers a.k.a. Chai Lei (translates to
“coloured mine”). It costs RM 7 at your friendly local fireworks
retailer – usually operating with a single shutter open and stacks of
canned drinks obscuring the view. Please do not be mislead by the
benign sounding name – Coloured Flowers is a not something you light
and watch the pretty sparks fly. ;)

colored flowers
Red and green, intertwined

Well, actually it does sparkle for a bit before it explodes, but
anyway. These are the classics for people getting into all sorts of
mischief i.e. time delay fuse (mosquito coil lar) rigged up, stuck into
toilet cistern and pity the poor guy who’s taking a dump while it goes
off. The time delay fuse is obviously to put a suitable amount of time
between the act and the deed so an alibi can be established.

chai lei fuse
The fuse of the Coloured Flower burns…

This is the Jin Yue Brand ones – the choice of connoisseurs. It
comes in a pack of 20 firecrackers – with 10 green tops and 10 red tops.

chai lei green

The green tops make a horrific shriek (and a green flare if you’re lucky) as the fuse burns into the primer before exploding.

chai lei red

The red one actually produces a nice, short burst of colourful
sparks before exploding. Otherwise, they are similar, the different
color determines how the primer reacts.

coloured flowers green
The green one lights…

coloured flowers red
The red one lights…

I would say that these are louder and more powerful than the new
Coloured Flowers (below). It costs RM 1 extra per box, but it’s worth
the premium.

chai lei explode
Red and green Chai Lei’s explode the same way.

Coloured Flowers – Chai Lei Wang

coloured flowers box

This is the new breed of Coloured Flowers and one which most people
would be familiar with. It’s made by another company and also comes in
a pack of 20. It costs RM 6, one dollar less than the classic ones but
it can hold it’s own to the originals. The box is slightly smaller than
the Chai Lei box and each firecracker is also slightly smaller.

coloured flowers

However Chai Lei Wang (literally “colored mine king”) differs
physically from the first in its effects. It also has a primer but the
primer produces normal flame coloured sparks before the firecracker
explodes. It registers a little lower in the decibel meter but not by
much. These are the common ones that we used to play as children; we’ll
wait for the primer to flame before chucking it.

chai lei wang

We soon learnt that the time it takes after lighting the fuse and
chucking it does not have a direct correlation with the size of one’s
balls and also another more important lesson – Chinese factories does
not have the rigorous quality assurance process that we take for
granted in other factories. Not all Chai Lei Wang has a primer, some
just explode as soon as the fuse burns out, though these are rare.

Here’s a short movie of how the Chai Lei Wang works:

sixthseal.com’s Chai Lei Wang video [sixthseal.com]
(2.84 MB zip file, right click, save download as)
Extract from the zip file – it’s a .mov file (Requires QuickTime Player)

My apologies for the bad take – we shot several times. It sounds
much louder than it does in the video due to hardware limitations. The
first two we messed up, and I forgot to wait till the primer ignites in
the third shot (which is the one you see above) and I did remember in
the forth one, but the cracker rolled into a longkang and it was a bad
take. Also, I noticed I felt the need to protect the family jewels in
the last minute in the video above. Heh. Anyway, the dog got a bit
freaked by the loud noises after that, so we did not attempt any more
shenanigans.

chai lei wang 1
This is the primer of Chai Lei Wang burning (not to be confused with
the fuse (forgive the pun), the fuse has already burnt out before the
primer – it lights the primer).

chai lei wang 2
It burns into the cracker…

chai lei wang 3
which explodes.

Disclaimer: Waiting for the primer to ignite is the “correct”
way for teenage boys to play Chai Lei Wang, but is not recommended due
to the variable nature of the primer and fuse.

Dadi Single Voice

dadi single voice

I love these things…I would pick this as my favourite firecracker.
It’s loud and it’s destructive. Throw it too close to a window
and…well, you’ll have to call for the glass cutters. It costs RM 10
for a box of 20 and the premium price is worth it. These babies are
larger than Chai Lei’s (both variants) and leaves a nice red carpet
after it ignites and explodes.

dadi firecracker

The aptly named Da Di Lei Gong (literally “big earth thunder king”)
used to be my favourite when I was young. I remembered a funny incident
from many Chinese New Years back. I was lighting one of these and saw
this rubbish collector trundling along with his basket. Mischief can be
allowed for at that age, so I rigged up a short time delay with a
sparkler. I sauntered back in, and watched from inside my compound as
he reached it…I knew I had the timing right.

dadi lei kung

Just as he was picking up my garbage can, the DaDi cracker exploded
and as I stand here today, I swear he jumped a meter up. Heh. These
things are loud, no doubt about it. :) Anyway, the damage potential of
these firecrackers is all blown (excuse the pun) out of proportion,
IMHO. While its common sense not to hold onto the crackers while it
explodes, anything else is pretty much okay for adults.

dadi fuse
Lights…and,

I take the shots close and my digicam lens didn’t crack or anything
(though I have tinnitus in one ear)…even as kids we used to throw
them around and yeah, I can attest that one of these going off right
beside you would not cause any damage (except, as stated previously to
your hearing ;)), did that several times just now while fooling around.
While I won’t make this into a call for the re-legalization of
firecrackers, I feel that there’s no reason to ban what is a
fundamentally Chinese way of ushering in the New Year.

dadi explode
action! My favorite photo – Dadi Single Voice exploding.

I can’t imagine a Chinese New Year without firecrackers. I do think
that they should not be sold to people below a certain age, say 16, but
I do not support an outright ban. It’s always “for the kids”, someone
always has to say “Oh, won’t someone think of the poor children” when
someone gets hurt and just like that, it’s banned. I call it lack of
parental supervision. It’s your fault, no one else’s, stop pushing the
blame around. It’s the same with drugs. Come on, let your citizens
think for themselves; don’t do their thinking for them. I digress.

Anyway, obviously I haven’t conducted ballistics testing on these
things but qualitatively, DaDi Single Voice seems to be the loudest one
and it seems to be the “stronger” one of the three. Let’s put it this
way – if I had to choose between Chai Lei and DaDi to hold onto in my
hand while it explodes, I would choose the former. ;)

My apologies for not featuring the other classics like Chung Tien
Pau (“rush sky cracker” – the double report bane of housing estates
everywhere ;)) and Thunder Clap. They were not in stock this year.

Other firecrackers:

Chinese firecrackers

chinese firecrackers

This is the traditional Chinese New Year staple to be let off at the
stroke of midnight. It’s a long string of firecrackers with a big boxy
cardboard thing on top that explodes to reveal a banner with Chinese
writing for good luck.

Shun Lee Hung firecrackers

shun lee hung

This is the other type of Chinese firecrackers. Shun Lee Hung
firecrackers are much like the one above and is common nowadays as a
replacement for the traditional rolled up ones. It doesn’t have the
lucky banner though.

Display shell

display shell

This looks like the great balls of colourful fire in the sky, you
know the ones. They let similar ones off during special events too so
most people have seen these.

display shell fuse
The fuse on top

It’s a long and largish tube that needs to be tied down (or have someone holding it in place).

display text
I am still searching the dictionary for an entry on “repotr”.

It does stand properly when it’s not lighted like now, but when it’s
lighted, the force of the first ball will topple the construction
without support.

Magical shots

magical shots

The favourite of children during Chinese New Year – each tube
propels several small, different coloured balls over a short distance.
The balls are multicoloured and it’s sold in a pack of 12 for RM 20.
It’s fun for the kids, basically, you hold it in your hand and let the
balls of fire shoot out. :)

Happy Chinese New Year everyone!

Gong Xi Fa Chai!

Melbourne: Wildlife with Deviant Species (UK) live outdoors doof

Day 1 + 2 of the
Convocation: Melbourne, Australia (December 2003)
series.

I managed to meet up with Liam, Andrew and Ashley after I woke up
from the much appreciated nap, and we headed back to halls to stock up
on supplies before heading out. It was good to see halls again after
all this while, managed to get a photo of Roberts Hall. Introductions
were made (I only knew Liam then) and we headed out to Glen Waverley
after everyone was sorted. I had only bought along a 1 liter bottle of
water and worn my warm jumper, and was surprised to find everyone
packing bags. Needless to say, I was inexperienced with doofs (outdoor
raves).

beer_ecky.jpg

Anyway, Liam drove down to Glen where we picked up a slab of Carlton
Draught stubbies and two packs of ice from the bottleshop. In case
anyone was wondering, I meant ice as in “the frozen form of water”.
Just to make things, er…crystal clear and all that. ;) Okay,
enough lame jokes. Ashley had brought along an esky (cooler) and the
picture you see above is a shot of Ashley and Liam loading it with beer
and packing it with ice.

pit_stop.jpg
I forgot the name of this town.

This was all done in the car park beside the bottleshop. We stopped
for gas after that and drove straight down to Jeeralang, where the
event was going to be held. It’s part of the Strzelecki Ranges. The
drive was slated to be about 2 hours and it does seem far away coz I
distinctly remember passing Mt Baw Baw. We did made a pit stop at a
town near the venue for KFC before continuing the journey though.

driving_up.jpg
Driving up the steep road.

The road into the venue wasn’t marked, and it was a really steep
drive up. I did see a “Wildlife – Deviant Species Live” sign at one
point so we were on the right track. There was this sharp turn halfway
up that had a bent street light, so it seems that at least one car
didn’t make it to the top unscathed. ;) It was a beautiful night
though, the city lights were visible and you could see past the trees
and down into the bottom of the hill with the amazing bush air breezing
in.

checkpoint.jpg
Checkpoint!

We got to the checkpoint where the promoters were and damn, was that
guy enthusiastic about the night. It gave off a great vibe. We got to
the top just when it was turning dark and I knew I made a mistake
regarding attire when I stepped out of the car. It was freezing! I
don’t know how cold it was, but the wind chill was insidious. Warm beer
never tasted so good…and there’s no need to worry about hyperthermia
issues, that’s for sure. ;)

hobo_fire.jpg
Warmth available here.

The doof was starting music at 10 pm so we went to the hobo fire
that was going on in front of the stage. It seemed to be the most
popular spot with the weather that night. I had to make frequent trips
back to the car to warm up. It’s a good thing Liam parked near the
stage and there was this trippy light device under some trees to guide
the way. The lights refracted off the tree leaves in a surprisingly
mesmerizing manner. It felt like a psychedelic light show.

the_guide.jpg
The Great Illuminating One!

The trees were a bit tricky to navigate though – there were branches
sticking out at the most unexpected places and navigating though the
maze without The Guide (which was what we dubbed the trippy light)
without being sober would be unthinkable. The first DJ set came on, and
I vaguely remember someone ordering bales of hay at one point for seats
around the fire. I haven’t acclimatized yet, so the extreme temperature
change was quite uncomfortable. The others had spare coats but I
declined and stayed by the fire instead.

set_setup.jpg
Setting up the set.

early_doof.jpg
The early ones…

The crowd started small and grew larger as the night went on, this
psy-trance event wasn’t heavily publicized – they probably wanted it to
be a smaller gathering for the psytrance regulars. I didn’t dance much,
I was er…mashed, so to speak and besides I was freezing my ass off in
the chilly weather. The fire was good, though it was a wood fire, so
smoke inhalation was an issue after a while beside it.

night_doof.jpg
The crowd fills up…

night_doof2.jpg
as the night progresses.

I actually convinced myself that I had hypothermia at one point. It
wasn’t really hard to do that under the circumstances, and I was
seriously thinking about leaving. I thought I was going to freeze to
death if I stayed since the coldest spell hasn’t even hit yet.
Thankfully, the guys talked me out of that thought loop. Thanks
everyone! :) Also, Andrew gave me his warm coat, cheers for that! I
stopped thinking about hypothermia and did the second inventory stock
take and it was all lovely after that. :)

deviant_species.jpg
Deviant Species live set!

deviant_set.jpg
This one taken without flash.

I only managed to get three photos of Deviant Species playing live.
I was too mashed to move. They played till dawn was breaking…it was
amazing to see the sun rise slowly over the valleys and watch the place
light up. It really is a beautiful place to have a daylight doof in.
Check out the scenery:

dawn1.jpg

dawn2.jpg

dawn3.jpg

The venue looks different in daylight too. I thought I saw a large
giraffe or some other animal, details are a bit hazy from the night. I
was standing at the cliffs and was surprised to see a large giraffe
appearing here, of all places. Checking with the others produced mixed
responses, but I saw it vividly, and in daylight too! That is, until
the “giraffe” moved and it turned out to be a man beside a rock with
the opposite hills making it look that way after all. :)

our_path.jpg
This was what our path to the car looked like in the light of dawn.

three_dawn.jpg
This is us after watching the sunrise.

Liam was recharging for the drive back so we never got a full group photo, but here’s one of us three:

three_sober.jpg
L-R: Huai Bin (me), Andrew, Ashley.

To the best of my knowledge, everyone in the photo is completely
sober. It must be the lighting that made it seem otherwise. I have to
say that my memory of the night is rather fuzzy, but I can fully assure
you that no psychedelics were consumed at the particular point in time
this shot was taken.

Here’s some photos of the morning set with Santos De Castro and Paul Wright (Deviant Species):

morning_set1.jpg
A large frame capture from the car.

morning_set2.jpg
Moving into the crowd.

morning_set3.jpg
Deviant Species were still playing the set.

I enjoyed the talks in the car, it was great, just gotta love the
scene over in Melbourne. Excellent company – it was great to go raving
with Liam again, and I’m glad I got to know Andrew and Ashley. I had a
wonderful time. It’s not about the music, it’s about the…*cough*. :)

I’m sorry that you lost your glasses Ashley, hope you find it!

noon_chillout.jpg
It was close to noon when we left the doof.

Memorable quotes of the night:

“I think I actually have to start earlier to warm myself up”

“Would be one hell of a come down tomorrow eh?”
“Do you want to talk about this now?”

“I can’t believe you’re yawning right after smoking that hit of meth!”

“I’m going off to check on my hallucinations now”

“I’m peaking so hard…I feel full on rushes everytime I move”

and many other classics I couldn’t remember. :)

comedown.jpg

Despite my expression when the event was over and inventory stock
clearence was done, it was worth every second of it! I’ll do it all
over again. :)

I Squid!

The two Chinese girl scam

girls_pose.jpg
Zhao Shu Juen and Zhang Jie.

I don’t actually know if this is a scam, but I have a strong
suspicion it is. Anyway, I was walking to Suria KLCC after work when I
was approached by two females (photo above). I was taking photos of the
Deepavali decorations with my digicam strapped around me and I heard
them hailing me from across the street. I did not heed them as I was
trying to get a steady shot and I was standing in traffic, which is
enough multitasking for me.

Well, they came over to my side of the road and accosted me. One of
them asked if I was Malaysian, and I said yes, but I’m not from KL, I
just work here. The other one then asked if she could use my cell phone
because they just arrived in KL from China today and they somehow
didn’t bring any cash and their ATM card doesn’t work, so they’re stuck
here. They needed to use my cell phone to call their dad, who is coming
tomorrow and tell him to bring cash instead coz they said China’s ATM
cards doesn’t work here.

Anyway, I was happy to help (even though my cell phone credit is
rather low) so I let them call Beijing on the condition that they pose
for a photograph. I take a lot of street shots for my personal stock
photo collection, plus I thought this would make a good post so I
wanted to get pictures to go with it. They agreed and I let them use my
cell phone. They called a number which went 00865525xxxx (last four
digits crossed out for their privacy).

girls_phone_call.jpg
Zhang Jie phones home.

That really is a phone number from the People’s Republic of China, I
checked the country code. Anyway, after talking on the phone for a
while, she passed the phone to me and said her mom wanted to talk to
me. Her mom’s Beijing accent was really strong, I couldn’t catch half
of the words she said, but I get the gist of it – she was thanking me
for allowing her daughter to use the phone, so I said no problem. My
Digi credit went from RM 25.35 to RM 2.69 though…

Anyway, they told me that they’re medical school students from
Beijing and just arrived today without any cash. “Where are you going
to sleep then?”, I asked altruistically. “I was about to get to
that…”, one of the girls replied. “I’m sorry, but could you do us a
favor? Can you please lend us some money for a hotel tonight?”

girls_noflash.jpg
The two Beijing girls, photo taken without flash.

So there I was…considering if they’re scamming me or they really
are stuck in KL without money. Now, I wouldn’t mind helping out if the
situation was really what they said it was…but I only have about RM
20 in my wallet and I told them so. “Oh, we’ll just take whatever you
have…give me your number and I’ll call you tomorrow once my dad gets
here and I’ll pay you back okay? I’ll buy you lunch too.”, said one of
the girls.

“How are you going to get a hotel room for just RM 20???”, I asked.
The girls mumbled something which I couldn’t catch and then asked if I
could withdraw some money from an ATM. The audacity….I said no,
because the situation is starting to sound rather dodgy. I told them to
go to the police station nearby and they would direct them to the
Chinese embassy for help. “Oh, then it’s alright, we’ll just take the
RM 20.”, they said.

Here is where the story gets slightly more interesting. They kept on
repeating the story about coming to KL and having no money and there
were slight discrepancies in every iteration. It all sounded rather
scam like to me, but I gave them the benefit of doubt, just in case the
poor girls were telling the truth. I am quite unconvinced though due to
the lack of luggage on their behalf and the topic of how they got to
Suria KLCC from KLIA was quickly changed. One of the girls produced a
notebook (complete with a “Terima Kasih – RM 3.60” sticker on the
front) and asked me for my number so they could pay me back tomorrow.

names.jpg

I don’t read Chinese (but I speak it fluently, thank you very much) so here’s the translation from a friend:
Zhao Shu Juen
shu means elegant , related to a woman, also means ‘woman’,
juen = something like ‘good woman’

Zhang Jie
jie means clean
Zhao and Zhang are family names.

Terima Kasih indeed…I did write down my cell phone number to humor
them, plus I wanted them to write their names in it too. However, I did
not give them any money, because even if the price tag accidentally
left a ‘B’ out and it was actually RMB (The People’s Currency), I doubt
that goods in China would have a “Terima Kasih” in red above. I did not
point this out to them though, since I was still waiting for them to
write their names. Heh.

You’ll never guess what they asked next.

“Can we borrow your camera for a day and return it to you tomorrow?”

Right…

No.

“Can we call you tomorrow and you borrow us the camera for the day then?”

I didn’t even find the need to continue the conversation. I told
them to go to the police if they really need help, they would direct
them to the embassy and left.

They did not call me today. :)

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