Goodbye Miri

Gosh, has it been three months?

I’m leaving for Manchester tomorrow. Things aren’t completely packed yet though. Clothes are hung in the closet, electronic gadgets are still in the box, books are neatly placed in the bookshelves. Unlike the previous year where I finished packing one week prior to departure date (okay it wasn’t me, it was my mum who insisted), by now, the luggages are pretty empty. Last minute packing. :S

I’m slightly reluctant to leave Miri though. The first time I went away, it was with the excitement of embarking on a new chapter – to wonder how does it feels like to be overseas. Now, it’s my second year in the university, and there is nothing particular to look forward to, except to the thought that I would be doing anything but rotting.

Anyways, the holidays has been pretty good.

violin, music

I took up a new instrument ; violin (Read @ In the Midst of Every Storm or tag:music). I remembered the first time I pluck the bow; I was simply amazed by the music, although the physics terms like wave, amplitude, oscillation, vibration, intensity immediately came to mind. After six weeks, I switched to a new teacher, who was a little annoyed with my lack of motivation to learn, but at that time, I was too busy with work…

Yes work. It was my first job; I was a replacement teacher in August (Read @The Replacement: Pt 2)  and I have to say, it was the best decision I’ve made in a long time. Some of the students reminded me of how I used to be when I was studying back then. Is it really possible to change that much within one year? Or maybe, I just forget the person that I used to be…

Of course, I’ve been out of the Oil City a couple of times; Brunei – twice (Read @ tag:Brunei). The first time was one week after I came back from Manchester, and the second trip was on the last week before I leave for Manchester. The first trip, I remembered bathing without heater, Merciana screaming at my ears, and eating raw oysters. Urghh. The second trip, I recollected that I played on the water bouncer, fireworks, and the best six hours conversation.

Sports? Not much. I’ve went to the gym a couple of times, played badminton (Read @ Warm Friday ) until I realised my racket is spoilt and went swimming despite my fear of water (Read @ splash, splosh, slosh). This only happened before and after August (working month 🙂 ).  I am sure I put on weight when I come back – no exercise + more food = fat.

Gatherings. I hung out with friends, both old and new. We had few great moments together, don’t you think?  The last one was Ling Lee’s birthday, just last week. I spent more time with family and relatives this time; awww, I miss them already.

Other petty things like cleaning my room, sorting up photo albums, clearing out my iTunes, categorize files in laptop and making cards..  I didn’t get to start doing cards until last week, after I came back from second Brunei trip. My cousin showed me A2 photographs she pasted on the wall  and soon later I was very inspired to make cards!

For the four of you, Surprise!!! (Hope you like the REAL card.)

Summer break is over. Goodbye Miri. 🙂

Back to university !


Second Brunei trip

Lame title, I know. I couldn’t be bothered to think of a creative title at all. It’s my second trip to visit my cousins (and uncle and aunt xD) in Brunei. the first time was one week after I came back from Manchester, and the second trip was, coincidentally enough , the last week before I leave for Manchester. We departed early, at around seven in the morning, reaching a transition place (no idea where it is) where my uncle picked me up yay!

I reached their house at around nine in the morning. Pretty early. By now i’m foggy with all the timeline and all, so the chronology may be jumbled up (you wouldn’t know the difference and my cousin doesn’t read my blog anyway HAHA!)

Merc, Jeff and I went to The Mall (yes, that’s the name of the mall.) First of,  we head to Swansen’s to eat their famous ice cream ; five different flavours: butterscotch, cookies and cream, chocolate, mocha with almond, and orange. The orange flavour is kind of odd when mixed with all others.

We finished the everything so quickly even though we just had our lunch an hour ago. Below’s a picture of my cousin and I. Merciana. Anyone interested? 😛

I don’t know where they hear it from, but if you are able to tie a knot with the cherry stick in your mouth, it means that you are a good kisser. Jeff, barely even 12 years old could do it. TWICE. We jalan jalan around the mall. Poor Jeff has no choice to follow us around.. he doesn’t enjoy looking at the things we look at : dresses, clothings, wall stickers etc, but he is happy to be in a shopping mall i’m sure!

Then, we walked to Jaya. Along the way, I bought Glee Season 1, second half of it. Nice! Thumbs up! In Jaya… we ate AGAIN.

Honey with kaya pancake and 11 balls of ter-something.

The balls are delicious btw !

and Chocolate Cookies Crepe

Went to Jaya supermarket and browsed through clothings. For an interesting video click  here .

We had BBQ that night. Lots of food yummy!

Just to state the obvious, we tried barbecuing marshmallows. Put it on the grill for a few minutes and when you put the marshmallow in your mouth, it melts. Very nice!

Merciana and Wilson (family friend’s son?)

First day of Hari Raya. Went to eat dim sum at .. some restaurant. Then took picture at another place (I really should start asking where I am)

Andy and Jeff doing .. erm. what’s this?

For dinner, we had Escapade Sushi’s sushi while watching Glee!!

And played board scrabble after eating. It’s been years since I last played board scrabble. Online scrabble aren’t as fun, don’t you agree?

I was supposed to return that morning, but my cousin convinced me to stay another night for a house warming.

Merciana with her peace pose; i pointed “omg posing again?” richard squinting “am i in the picture?”

I played water bouncer for the first time. What’s that ? It’s like a very large slide (about two stories high) and when you slide down you fall into a pool of water. Why don’t we have this in Miri ? 😦

I just realised. This is a double combo ‘test’ : fear of falling and fear of water. I was lucky to have been into a swimming pool just a week ago, but the falling part is just terrifying, at the same time pretty exciting!

I look like a fat chicken. PAK PAK PAKKK!! *flaps wings* haha..

and we reached the bottom!  For more pictures click here

After eating satay, we played with firey things that night.

Very beautiful!

We returned home before midnight. I planned to have a good night sleep before I returned to Miri early in the morning.. but when i asked a simple question, Merc and I started a long long long conversation. We brought out many memories that stick to mind, some good some bad. It’s always easier to see things more clearly from the third party, don’t you think?

I slept after six. That six hours in between was the best part of my trip.

Splash, Splosh, Slosh..

*pictures credit to Ezra Sang and David Poh (the difference is ezra’s pictures are watermarked)

i can’t swim.

yet, my first activity after one whole month of teaching is swimming. i am often curious of how i would act in different situations, and now i see them as an opportunity to be courageous (or to prove what a coward i can be 😦 ), which is why i took the teaching job in the first place. i have too many unjustified fears; aquaphobia (fear of water), cynophobia (fear of dogs), chiraptophobia (fear of being touched).. the list goes on.

my fear of water started at eleven, when i almost drowned in a pool. so when i dipped into the pool at Eastwood, it took me forever before i edged away from the side. the swimming pool is in the shades, so even at noon, the water was chilly, the kind that sent immediate chill up to your bones and make you numb enough to not want to move an inch.

i think i was in that very position for maybe half an hour. or maybe time ticked by slowly when you are doing nothing.

there’s only one way to float : to relax. but tell me this, how am i supposed to relax in my biggest fear? you have to take a deep breath, put your whole head beneath water and let your body float. according to ezra (lee, btw), if there is air in your lungs, you float; if there is none, you sink. for the first hundred times, i had an immediate reflex of needing to be above water. i manage to float after 2 hours of wadding in the pool of just 1.5m tall.

siaw tien tried to teach me how to swim first, and here comes my reflex out of my fear of being touched. she wanted to grab my legs to demonstrate how to kick the water to float and i, she supposedly claimed, kicked her in the nose (sorry!). for the rest of the day, i would just float using salome’s yellow float, or wade in the pool, or simply just stay at the edge of the pool.

while i was struggling to float, the boys were daring enough to sink.  why would someone choose to sink? i was screaming inside! but then it seemed like fun. look at those smiling faces.

salome brought a boat called the ‘Ocean Scooter’ (the irony of riding it in a pool) which we all had fun riding on it, but falling part is the worst. thankfully, i was the only one that day  who wasn’t toppled over on purpose. maybe my body language spoke “HELP!” or maybe they aren’t that comfortable around me just yet.

Look at the pictures:

yes this picture is hilarious. notice the third girl who was looking in the boat? didn’t she look like she expect some goodies in it? she was, in fact, just curious of the hole on the boat. do you spot me at the end?

don’t you love this picture? the way they both try to balance each other. the girl in front (jia jing) was falling because david (half a face shown) tilted the boat, while the girl at the back (siaw tien) tried to balance it by going the other way. but like always, gravity always wins. *splash*

i finally got on the boat, after everyone had their chance. and when the boat tilt slightly, my mouth looped into an ‘O’ shape. i think i screamed too. pathetic?  the fear of falling.. into water. i didn’t fall, thanks to siew hui (the happy-looking girl beside me)

oh i forgot to mention who went that day: t siew hui, salome, siaw tien, jia jing, steve, voon fung, ezra l, ezra s, gan, david and i.

those happened two days ago. today we went for swimming (again). i was determined to learn how to swim, and not just float. and i actually managed to swim across half the swimming pool, probably 20 feet. i have no idea what style i was attempting, but i did. of course, i need to learn to take a breath in between – still trying.

those who went today were salome, siaw tien, voon fung, ezra l, ezra s, sze yee, gan, david, jun, yee fan, ming jin, lokek… did i miss out anyone? there were quite a lot today. i had no idea how many gallons of water (yes, i’m exaggerating) by learning how to swim and playing around. we seemed to have the habit of splashing water to people’s faces. yee fan or ming jin (actually i’m always confused with these two) is an expert in slapping water to another target. i tried, but the water seemed to lose its momentum more easily than they do.

random talk. lol.

here are some pictures to enjoy:

sze yee (girl on the boat) has the exact same swimming suit as i do. maybe this should be the Cute Sport Club (CSC) girls’ swimming suit.

us having fun. that’s chee wai on the boat laughing at .. well, one of us.

the six rule-breakers. they dived.. the rules state “no diving, no jumping”

but that’s counted as falling, isn’t it?

i laugh more easily today. something about this group of friends, just like most others, that makes me comfortable enough to be the better side of me, simple and carefree. i talked more, but not as much. i still loved looking at happenings unfolding from a distance and be mesmerised at even the most common things…

PEACE OUT!  (failed peace sign)


The replacement: Pt 4 of 4

Part 3 is done, and now part 4.

I’ve gone on and on about May 10 intake class, let me now introduce the May 09 intake class.

l-r : (guys) Jeffrey, Andy, Gabriel, Adrian, Jimmy

l-r (girls): Doreen, Tracellia, Phoebe (front), me, Amanda, Ying Yin.

MIA: Choo Choo

There are very few people in this class, only 12 of them. 9 takes up Biology. The smaller the class, the more easily you can interact with your classmates, that’s what I think. Do you know I’m almost the youngest in the class? I wonder if they thought less of a senior who’s no older than they are. Would you?

Let’s start with the guys this time.

Jeffrey (black tee with a peace sign) doesn’t take Biology. In fact I wouldn’t have known him at all if he did not sit quietly in the class. oh wait, quiet seems to be the wrong word. Why? By the third week of lecture, he was so  comfortable with me that he knows how to ‘answer back’ but not in a mean way. The only thing he’s interested is how the pregnancy kit works – and when i stumbled on the reasoning, he kind of laughed me off. I don’t seem to be offended by our future E&E engineer.

Andy (guy with green file and blue water bottle) is a very sweet boy. The kind you couldn’t help but smile and be nice to him in return. On the first week, I forgot my marker pen and he borrowed his marker pen! Don’t you think he’s kind of cute when he smiles? I want to pinch that chubby cheeks of his. 😛 Our future physiotherapist.

Gabriel (with red collared shirt). He likes to talk, and I like to ask him to shut up in different ways. The only way I can’t seem to is to glare at him until he stops. In fact, most of the time he is oblivious to me trying to glare at him (which I always burst out laughing in the end).The most common phrase he used is “I don’t know how”.  He always wears two layers – both short sleeves. I wonder, if it is really that cold, shouldn’t he be wearing long-sleeved or a jacket?

Adrian (behind the girl in the green dress aka me!) is the one person I can say for sure that is younger than me. He is born in year 1992, and is brighter than most of them. Not afraid to share his knowledge though – I always see him helping out people who asks him questions. I think he’s from.. somewhere other than Malaysia.

Jimmy (guy in white shirt. half a face only!) likes sharing videos, blue-toothing to me during lectures LOL. Once he decides to be a .. aircraft designer (i think), he drops Biology. Personality wise? He is just different. Maybe it’s because he reminds me of someone I used to know. Sometimes, when I look at him I wonder about what happen to the other guy, of the friendship we used to have. Yes. Friendship.

On to the girls now..

The reason I’m posting yet another group picture (slightly different, you notice?) is because these are the only two pictures I have of this class. If you think this is bei ai wail till you see the next post – i have no pictures of the other class. *thinking how to improvise*

Doreen (in white tee)is the fairest girl in the class, if you haven’t notice the obvious yet. I admire the way she respects me even though I sometimes do a bad job of explaining. She just looks attentively at you, her brows arching slightly when she doesn’t understand. At times, when I look at her, I think of the Doreen who used to be in the same class in Riam, and I think how different can two persons with the same name be.

Next to her is Tracellia. Initially, I have a difficult time pronouncing her name. I like to get the pronunciation of names right because I know how it feels when your name is wrongly articulated. The “there you go again” feeling comes and then for a brief second you wonder why your name couldn’t be as plain as Mary or Jane, and then you shrug it off. She’s the first person I notice to look disappointed when I say that the respiration quiz will be postponed.

Phoebe the strongest girl among all! Look at the arm she is emphasising on (wow!!). An outspoken person, not afraid to speak her mind. I was slightly displeased at first, but then I realised speaking your mind out is the one thing I don’t have back then. Phoebe is more of the class clown/entertainer. There is one incident I would not forget. I was lazy to photocopy the questions, so I copy them on the board. Then she called out, “kopi? you want kopi C or kopi O?

Amanda (girl in blue tee)I don’t really know much about her, apologies for that! If I’m not mistaken, she can also speak Mandarin. I like her smile, look at the row of perfect teeth – so white!

Ying Yin (girl on the right of the pic) is hardworking. She sits quietly (almost) at the back, with the slightly fizzy hair and the easy smile, easily mixing with the rest of the group. The one question she gets correctly (that I remember) is the reason positive pregnancy test has two lines instead of one. If you are curious it is to make sure that the antibodies travel up the kit.

Choo Choo (missing!) is quiet. I knew her way back to form 3, when I just started to be slightly sociable . Sad to note, she’s very antisocial, probably because she’s too quiet? Or she doesn’t feel like she belongs in the class. In fact, I don’t think I have ever seen her talking to her classmates. Her eyes, something about it that makes me feel a little sorry for her.

Some people have eyes that practically smiles, even to a stranger. Some people have eyes filled with innocence and curiosity, wondering what the world has to offer. Meanwhile others have eyes that are filled with uncertainty, searching for the truth beneath every conversation, every actions. Some have piercing eyes, sharp as dagger, sending a silent dare to others. Some have kind eyes, full of warmth, compassion and love.

We open our eyes to the world; to the clouds of smokes from the vehicles around us, to the trees that sway to and fro, to the kids running across the road, to the police officer stopping a car with tinted glass, to the graffiti at the fly over, to the old woman trying to coax people to buy her products, to the stray dogs scrapping for leftovers in the bin, to the friends who seem to talk endlessly among themselves, to the lecturers who try to convey their thoughts across, to the exhausted parents who come home late and to the laptop where connection is just a click away.

We look, everyday, but are we really seeing?

The last part is coming up later next week, about Jan10 intake and everything else.


Independence Day

The Malaysian Independence Day is not about celebrating the freedom of the country. This is the day all Malaysians are given a one day holiday, no matter what you are – a student, a teacher, a worker, or a manager. A time where we take time off and spend time with people we care about; lovers, friends or family.

This morning, we took our grandma to have breakfast at Grand Palace. It is my second time eating dimsum during this summer break. And my very few times eating breakfast. I am lucky to not to be craving for different Malaysian food every single minute. Dimsum is great, and choosing from a great variety of food seems to take more time than eating. LOL.

At around ten thirty, my parents dropped me off at my grandmother’s place to learn her cookery skills. I sliced ginger into the thinnest slice possible, slightly less than 1 mm. I chopped garlic and tiny onions. We made a few dishes (okay most of the dishes are made by her, but I contributed to making them!), including Prunus mume duck (i think that’s what it’s called in English. in Chinese it’s called suan mei yak), pork with salted vegetables and more.

suan mei yak

More importantly, I get to spend time with my grandmother – to let her feel less lonely when she’s alone at home. I will be leaving in a couple of weeks, and from then onwards, I’d be hearing any happenings in Miri only if it is significant enough to be mentioned. I want to be kept up to date, but there are some things I try to keep a deaf ear on, especially on the 1Malaysia.

When I told my parents and my grandmother about going to the opening of the Merdeka Mall, they laughed at the idea of me being a pak po. “Are you a VIP?” They joked. Later that night, my grandmother asks “Did they take a picture of you, the VIP?” I replied easily ““Nope, they were shocked when looking at such a liang moi like me and dropped the camera!” Talk about vainness. LOL. Didn’t know I have that in me.

Merdeka Mall is located at the Mosjaya area. Took a ride from Lokek along with a couple of friends (including siaw tien!). There were a lot of cars queueing up to enter the mall, so much in fact, that Lokek had to park on the granite road. It is a little alarming to see the cars almost grazing each other. There was a MyVi where the paint get scraped off slightly. 😦

Even though the car park was packed, the mall was deserted, much to the dismay of most of us. There weren’t a lot of shops opened. The corridors were dusty and the top floor (level4) was deserted.  The decorations were all green, which is not really my colour. We were bored, and we could circle the mall twice while waiting for a couple to show up.

Finally, the five of us, Lokek, Yee Fan, Siaw Tien, T Siew Hui and I, meet up with Ezra and Sze Yee soon. We walked around for a while, and knowing that there was nothing much to see, we head of to Parkson. We met a lot of people we know there. I saw two of my ex-students, ChooChoo and Pei Lee (whose boyfriend asked her “why your teacher looks like a child?”  😦 ) A mutual friend introduced me to a chemical engineer from UoManchester as well – such coincidence.

Anyway, we ended up at SugarBun, and sat there for almost 3 hours straight.  There were a lot of topics, and I learnt about some interesting facts. Eventually we went home after six, slight traffic jam. I fell blissfully into sleep on the way back .. paiseh betul.

The day was not over. I went over to my cousin’s place to talk about .. secret wei, how can I write here. Anyway, we might be planning a trip up to Brunei to visit our other cousin we miss so much! It’s better than just spending the  RM40 toll fee to eat sushi. I should ask my cousin to cook for me instead, it would be ten times better than any shops…  Merciana did you read this? Can cook for me or not? 🙂

Hope you spend your holiday well. At least in Miri we don’t worry about people hitting us just because of our race. Lucky Borneo.


1 Malaysia?

Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka!

That’s what Tun Abdul Rahman repeated proudly in Merdeka Stadium on 31st August 1957.

Or so we’re told.

This is the first year I don’t feel as much merdeka spirit as the previous years. Maybe it’s because of I’ve spent a year away from home. Or is it because I don’t feel that much love anymore? Or perhaps it’s because there are more and more depressing news about the country. There are speculations to not believe what the history books explain to us. And we are told to never to rely on online materials unless there is authentication . Emails are spreading like bacteria about who the origins of Malaya really are.

We don’t know what to believe anymore, do we?

Does hanging the Malaysia flag make us patriotic?  Or does it just makes us feel like we are part of a community that hardly exists anymore? Sometimes it feels like the 1Malaysia concept seems to be breaking us up more than uniting us. We are so fixed on showing a united front but we could never be able to plaster all the cracks.

Happy 53rd Independence Day, Malaysia.


the replacement: Pt 3 of 4

August has finally come to an end.  I went to school, and collect my first pay check.  Finally, after 19 years, I have my first one-month working experience, along with some money as incentive. I now live in a realistic world, no money, no talk.

This is the first class I enter. Introducing, May 2010 intake class.

l-r: Chun Hong, Christopher, Bonnie, Hui Thing, Eda, Beatric, Lily, Pei Lee, Felix, Hani, Adeline, Joanna, Jasmine, Yolanda, Athirah, Lee Ching, Chia Ching.

I’m choosing this picture, even though I may be the most ridiculous looking person in the entire photograph, because this is the only picture with everybody’s face VISIBLE.   and everyone else looks so perfect. Everyone but me.

By the end of the four weeks, this class will probably be the one that remember me best, because of the sweets I so generously provide them with. It starts when Lily eyes on the Kopiko sweet on my table at the final week, and I have been bribing them with sweets ever since. You might think it’s silly, but surprisingly, sweets do make them do what I tell them to. Kids.

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