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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Stop and Stare


This week could be paving a way on my next chapter of life. I've been in and out of many of these mini stories in my life. Sometimes, you tend to stop and stare at what you'd been through, reminiscing the time you went through before. At the same time, you would also ponder at your future, wondering how would the next steps will unravel themselves by time. Would it be smooth, or would it be rough? That feeling, it's always full of hopes and fear.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

As The Spirit Holds Back (Part 3): Terminal Three (April 2008 - September 2008)

Terminal Tiga was the novel that I learned and studied in Form Four. It tells the story of a guy who is pursuing his studies in Akademi Seni Kebangsaan (ASK) and his journey from Sabah. The title of the novel was given in parallel with the main character's story about his hardships in his hometown and Kota Kinabalu. He then went back to continue his studies in KL. 

The final days in Labuan ended with great celebrations among the Chinese students there. Those pictures, some of them were in Friendster, sadly. They were all gone into non-existence as the site now becomes a gaming site. That night, we chilled out with ourselves next to the beach, while enjoying the best seafood, before we returned just to find out that the dorm became synonymous with an abandoned building with many junks, books and papers around.

This is one of the last photos I'd taken with the people I know there via my Sony Ericsson W700i. Gosh, I wanted Kah Jing and Jee Tah to be inside the photo but too bad they were elsewhere. I got to know them through studies and games alike. And finally, I left the campus and Labuan, once and for all. Never again will I study a Science Stream course.

Returning to Sabah

The moment I returned back to Tawau was an unfortunate one. It was as if Tawau didn't like my homecoming as its electric supply ran off that night after touchdown. And it wasn't enough, to add more pain, I was suffering from diarrhea, thanks to a tonic drink I had before that.

The three months in Tawau was dull and calm. There was nothing much during these periods, hence, no stress but idleness. Everyone else was studying elsewhere, while I was at home awaiting for results. Sometimes when I was online, I seek friends to accompany my days and nights with.

I rejoined my church's English Youth ministry once again, just to realize that the Youth fellowships I used to attend every Fridays were no longer having the same atmosphere as before, as new faces appeared. I am a visitor once again, as I entered Jonathan Lo's group of 2008. During the 2005 split, Jonathan and Jacqueline were named as interns (members who are bounded to be cell leaders). After that, they are already leaders of their own group - one leading the Sabah Chinese A Level students, while the other leading the Form 6s. That was where I began knowing people like Renee Gan and Ross.

Kuala Lumpur Decision

The results are finally out, and I expected myself not doing well in that Pre-U course.

The only thing I could think of as a second path is English. When I was in Labuan, I remembered finding an English-related course, and Taylor's College responded with a Communication course. Besides of them, UCSI also gave me a brochure for an English degree course. INTI too have an English for International Business course as well. 

The decisions were difficult to be made. I was reminded that I must take an industry-related course in order to secure a job. Therefore, courses like psychology and history should be dropped off my list. Then, HELP Institute's Foundation in Arts came into my list of considerations, but too bad I dislike accounts.

At the same time, I also had another friend who too decided to come to KL for his studies in KDU. We almost traveled there within the same time. We even went to the youth fellowship together as we felt the need of finding the old friends.

And based on all the considerations, after a few weeks of thinking, I went on for the Foundation in Communication course in Taylor's College. However, I did not think further on which industry I should take. I wasn't quite sure what communication is all about, that's why.

July 2008: First Glance

Now, I will be telling you about my fresh self during my first steps on the Peninsular. As a lad from a smaller town, I wouldn't be surprised to find myself in a larger city, as I'd been to places like Kota Kinabalu before.

One of the most worrying thoughts was usually, "How are the people in West Malaysia?" My experiences with some West Malaysian lads during the National Service days weren't a nice one. As what sociologists said, "territorial discrimination" exists around us. Certain local friends who had stepped foot in KL, as well as some elderly individuals did told me to be wary of them, for they are ruder and less-mannered. And this East Malaysian perception of certain "Malayan" people who still assume that we still live on tress also did bother me a lot.

Don't let the above paragraph provoke you, folks, that was me during Day 1 in KL. I am already thinking differently about the people here today. The people here are suffering under a more stressful and materialistic environment, where everyone is participating in a rat race with quicker pace. Massive traffic jams occur every morning as everybody rushes to work, while people with jobs from various corporations and big shot players are pressured to run in their hamster wheels day by day. It is therefore common to listen to foul language, vehicle honks, and conflicts around a larger city. That is what made them who they are in the eyes of the East Malaysians, who are from smaller but more peaceful cities.

At the end, they, too are humans, just like us.

I remembered my group of relatives I met in Australia in 2010, where the East Malaysians' side (us) tend to talk about people and relatives, while the West Malaysians' side enjoy talking about business and politics. Not sure if that really reflects a lot about the two demographics.

In fact, I will be sharing to you on who my first friends were during the Foundation days. Those perceptions no longer matter to me anymore, to a certain extent.

July 25, 2008: FICM 

I actually arrived a week earlier from the orientation in campus which was located in Leisure Commercial Square (LCS). Back then, in case I was late for an 8 o' clock class, I could just spend around 10 minutes to walk to my classroom and listen to the lecture. Today, it's all by bus.

I stayed in the house of one of my relatives here in Shah Alam. It was located in Kota Kemuning, and for the first time, I am seeing a huge, huge taman, where people could easily go sesat if they don't know the place. I had the first taste of KL's shopping malls by visiting the Subang Parade, KLCC, IKEA/ Ikano Power, The Curve, One Utama and Sunway Pyramid. I even remembered how my mum and I got stuck in Pyramid and KLCC.

And by the weekend, I began moving into my new hostel room. It was located in Ridzuan Condominium. The house was huge but messy, and I was living with 3 other students, 2 of them were from the South Australian Matriculation programme. My first roommate in KL was from Sarawak. However, like the way he treated the other two housemates, he was a cold and unfriendly one. Just imagine if you felt that you are being hated by someone else even without you doing something wrong. And there was even once he blamed me for not locking the front door though he was the last person who entered the house. Fortunately, he moved out in September that year for his internship.

Somehow, based on his telephone conversations I'd eavesdropped, his life was a painful one. I almost got pulled into his conflict with his cousin, who was much more friendlier than the roommate himself.

Back to the first days, ever since I moved into that unit, my second chance in college life has just begun.

Orientations and A New Start: 

July 28, 2008, Monday, Orientation Day One. 

I took my first bus to the LCS campus with my one-month-elder-than-me cousin who was studying in the School of Hospitality and Tourism. She's the only one that guided me around during the first days. Before that, in terms of church service arrangements, Victor Lee assisted me in transport, while Juin Ru, my high school senior greeted me during my first Sunday service in Faith Christian Centre.

The 10 minutes ride ended as I reached the LCS campus. I followed the directions to the courtyard, and towards the multi-purpose hall (MPH), all alone. A soldier on my own, I walked towards my future. As I arrived in the MPH, I saw hundreds of strangers, sitting together on the seats there. Some had already began making friends, some were quiet waiting what would happen next. As for me, I took a seat on the side, looking forward for the beginning event.

As the first event began, I then realized that these students around me were not just Communication students, there were also students from Designing and Architecture and Computing.

The first classmate I identified was Aaron Tan, short guy, nice person. Then I slowly got to know people like Jazreen and Shirley, a girl from the School of Architecture and Design. Besides, I knew people like Ishmael, Cecilia, Roey (from China), Gracy, Aznur and Julian from the Diploma in Communication class. And my first seniors were Zhao Wern and Joanne Lie, who would be my teammates in my PR2 assignment 3 years later.

The first lesson of my Foundation class was Introduction To Mass Communication, taught by Mr. Benjamin Loh. After that class, Aaron and I began knowing Serene, Amirul Fikri, Izzuddin, Jian Quin and Cheryl. After our first English class with Ms. Catherine Lee who still teaches me this semester again, we began knowing more classmates like Michelle Lau, Isabelle, and Syazwan.

I still remembered the first outing together. Oh yeah, I also did remembered knowing people like Kai Chin, Jun Qi and the other Cheryl (from KK) at the beginning too.

Story continues @ Part 4

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

As The Spirit Holds Back (Part 2) - March 2007 - April 2008

Part 2 comes in, and what I wanted to say, this is about the start of something new - You could see some insights on what it's like to enter the adult life, the moment when you begin to move out from your school mentality. I could still remember how artists like Justin Timberlake, Evanescence, Linkin Park and Avril Lavigne had the best songs of those days. 

I entered the National Service camp on March 18, hoping time to pass by fast, and everything else to be smooth without much troubles. I didn't exactly stay in that camp for the three whole months, instead I left the camp 2 months after I entered the camp's perimeters. I wasn't the only one in my known group to be in that camp, Hui Hwa, Kristin, Jasper, Ken, Xiao Tim, Julian and Michelle were staying there too. Can't really talk to the girls more because we tend to be restricted to interact with them.

In the beginning, I thought that I wasn't going to be homesick as I enjoyed chatting with the Malay newly met teammates in my block, which gave me the title as Block A's captain. And slowly that depressing feeling came into me a few days after the beginning. Just imagine, after having your hair being cut bald, dealing with various people who had different attitudes, facing the soldier's ragging experiences, and even facing possible office politics as many will gossip behind you as a leader. Most of the time, in the name of discipline, everyone is evil.

But I did learned things there, more than what the Character-building classes has got to offer. I remembered this Malay guy in my block, who wishes to be with the Chinese and even intended to learn our culture. He applauded me several times even in front of the masses on how I am able to mix up with other races, and how tolerant I was with the other leaders (Block B's leader, my Company's commander, Boy's Leader and Camp Commander are all Malays). I really wanted to meet him and see how he is today.

At the same time, I met someone who was bright. I first knew him during a Malam Kerohanian debate where he spoke and argued his words carefully and with charisma. And since then, through a series of small chats, we became friends. Our topics were not just about our everyday lives in the camp, we also did chatted about politics and economy, which was quite new to the naive me. As a result, he partially brought me to who I am today. His name is Peter of Sandakan, from one of the blocks on the other side of the camp.

April 2007 arrived and during the midst of a mock election in the camp, I left the camp. One of the Indian teammates in the camp, Loges, took over my title. I remembered the laughter he brought into our camp, for he was indeed a funny lad. There was once he went into our Chinese group while we were resting, he told us a joke with some Chinese context in it, he did well in entertaining us.

Despite certain memories I took away from the camp, I don't really miss them much. I just want to leave the camp for good. There are better things await me outside there. Yes, I do really want to keep in contact with some individuals I crossed paths with in that camp, but once I returned to my home, I lost the contact lists. My efforts of collecting their contacts and Friendster profiles had gone down the drain.

UPDATE: I just bumped into this recently. The skinny, baldy me in 2007 was featured there. I can still remember the names of some faces there.

Cell Group and The Travel to Labuan

The reason why I left National Service was because of the offer letter I received from Labuan Matriculation College. I would fly to Labuan in May 2007 - a decision which I would later regret. The A2s I obtained in my Physics and Chemistry were the fuels that encouraged me to continue the Science Stream, while I did thought of going for a teaching course.

Elsewhere, I knew there are already people leaving Tawau for their own destiny. And this reminded me that the world had already revolved as soon as I left myself from that camp. When I returned to my cell group during the last week I was in Tawau, those friends whom I usually met every Fridays, some of them already began their college days. The atmosphere was no longer there, not much of an excitement when compared to the 2006 days.

Fredrick and Silviana went for UCSI in KL, while Lucas was preparing himself for a Foundation course in INTI Putatan, Sabah.

However, the happy thing was - I got my first phone, the Sony Ericsson W700i. Its price was similar to today's (May 2012) Samsung Galaxy S Mini. Well, Nokia, to me, was too mainstream, therefore I went for the Walkman series. It was an absolutely great phone, with the music quality that excites you with the right beats.

Stranger Island

This first hand experience was me living in a strange world for the first time. Labuan may have a similar landscape like Tawau's, but being in a distant world means you are starting something all over. But I was never alone, there were a few ex-classmates like Hui Hwa, Isaac, Colbert, Catherine and Dayang who were actually in the same college with me. Peter, whom I met in National Service, even went with me. We were later neighbours in the dorm.

The first places I went were Ujana Kewangan (Financial Park) and UJ (I can't remember the actual name). Before I moved into the campus, I stayed in the rooms of the Church of our Holy Saviour (COHS), who was under the eyes of my Youth pastor, Rev. David. I remembered the first days I went into the campus dorm, it was horrible. Just imagine, if you are living in a messy room with many dusts around. There were no toilets, as everybody have to share one public toilet outside, which was not well-maintained and dirty. Ironically, the outside landscape of the campus looks promisingly beautiful. There's not even WiFi and Hotspots for laptop users to interact with the Internet, and safety is not guaranteed. I wonder if there are students in the current batch who dares to bring his iPad or iPhones there. Our Chinese community even formed a Rukun Tetangga group of ourselves twice to search for laptops.

The only subject I always scored there is English. It is always a tradition I usually do to impress my teachers and lecturers back then. My progression in Science and Maths screwed up when extra tutorials and lessons were brought in every single week. I began to get left behind ever since we entered the topic of Quantum theories from Chemistry and Physics, and harder versions of algebra continued to strangle my mind alive all at the same time. Nevertheless, the only best achievement was a Band 4 in MUET.

Sometimes, in the midst of those busyness among the hardworking students there, I tend to question this, "Are our lives meant to be like that?" I mean seriously, these students are like zombies, we tend to have less time enjoy ourselves under the sun, instead, they have their books and exercises as their daily companions. Imagine people who have to work their asses day and night without even a chance to reflect their lives and their surroundings and what actually matters in life. To me, I don't see a meaning within this sort of lifestyle. It only reflects the working world that we will soon get into.

Despite the depressions I'd been through there, I got to know some people, particularly from Sarawak. The best friends I met there were Anthony Ting, Jee Tah, Simon Siaw and Peter. They are usually the ones whom I hanged out with. Good for them as they passed and moved on into university. I did stayed in contact with some of them, unfortunately the shift from Friendster to Facebook had erased some of the contacts.

Most of them are passer-bys of my life. I know. But they reflected how my colourful my life is. I know they were a few more pictures in my old laptop which can't be retrieved out. I still keep the Lecture 1 Tutorial 4 red T-shirt, though parts of its colours and materials are already worn out. Despite the fact, I don't really feel much nostalgic about the KML days, especially the results I faced and some inconveniences and miseries I went through there. It was a wrong academic decision for me to go there. I could have go for TESL instead. But the past is past, and it's already been written. I can only look at them and smile.

Part 3 will be about leaving KML and a new journey to Taylor's College, which today is known as Taylor's University. I have to stop as I'm now working on my current assignments.

Monday, May 7, 2012

As The Spirit Holds Back (Part 1): After Secondary School Life (Dec 2006 - March 2007)

I would say that it is 5 months ago since I updated this old page. And most probably this would be the most inactive times I'm going to update this blog. Sooner or later, days of busyness arrive and I may not have much of the luxury of time to do such a thing. I want a simple life, with sufficient food and abundance. Some people will choose stress for the lucrative money, but selling your soul to that reward may result in tremendous regrets. Well, it depends on situation after all.

And within these 5 months, many things happened. I did not update on another more recent photoshoot I did in Tawau. I did not update my Chinese New Year 2012 moments, which I didn't really expect much, and I did not even share about my days returning back here. In fact, I was too busy with offline and college stuff, undergoing the last days of my university life, before setting myself into the internship days, and get graduated sooner after that.

I would like to dedicate this post to all the people whom I know in my post-secondary school days, and those whom I'd left their lives from. I did cherish them till the end. 

After SPM (2006)

Back then, I was a homely boy, stressed in school, a rounder in tuition classes in the afternoons, and an MSN chatter at night. It was the days when Nokia and Sony Ericsson dominated the mobile phone market, when the N Series began fascinating the public. Friendster was the Facebook of that time, and MSN Messenger was the primary online free communication tool before Skype, Whatsapp, Line, Viber and FB Messenger even existed. Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer were the main choices before Google Chrome appeared, and Jay Chou, Hoobastank, Click Five, Evanescence and Good Charlotte were the popular ones, to name a few, compared to today's Justin Bieber, Nicki Minaj, Flo Rida, Katy Perry, Rihanna and Taylor Swift.

Those were the days.

The year was 2006. The month was December. Our SPM examinations were over after our Biology paper was done. Despite the fear of failure embedded into our hearts, laughters and shouts of joy were expressed as the final minutes of the exam was already the past. I looked at my classmates for the last time in our uniforms, guys like us were in the white-green attire with the school necktie on our necks, while the ladies were wearing either the baju kurung or a blue pinafore. As I walked away from SM St. Patrick as a Form 5 student to my blue Proton Wira, I bid those friends I studied with under one roof farewell, hoping I can see them in the future.

This photo was the taken during the 2006 Teacher's Day celebration, and was from Eevee's Picasa album, thank you for still maintaining this piece of memory.

To this date, some of us are still studying, as I am in my final semesters now, while some are already have their own jobs and career. The author of, Yen Ching, who was once a well-known blogger, had ceased her online activities as she is now an interior designer. And with the rest like Eevee herself, she is currently working as an accountant in KL. Some traveled overseas to study, like Timothy Radaha, Michelle and Guojun, and some even had a job there, like Tony Lau of 5 Mutiara in Singapore. We are slowly building our own shells since then, moving forward, while gazing backwards as time passes by.

And yes, back then I was skinny and white. But of course, today, though I'm chubbier and bigger in size, and I'd been exposed to many philosophies, experiences and knowledge within this transformation from those naive days.

Just when I thought the days being under one roof with them are over, I did met them after the last SPM days. While they were in the midst of planning certain stays in Kuhara Court and Kota Kinabalu, I eventually got to meet them in other gatherings, such as jogging, basketball games (I was just a spectator) and just some chats.

I was in a verge of changing myself for the better during those days - being oversensitive and hot-tempered due to a few chants would make me seem too selfish and scary to other people. And thankfully, these bunch of people gave me a second chance to be accepted, which in the future, I did not expect that I am slowly being one closer part of them gradually. Never did I ever expect that.

Dec 31, 2006, the end of my final year in high school. I believe my physical changes are the most when compared to the people in those pictures above. I remembered those happiness I sensed when I was in that scene. I even remembered celebrating New Year 2007 with Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith and some MSN countdowns with some random people I met in Zorpia.

I still bumped into some of them later on when I went for driving class. I crossed paths with Mei Chi, Fadhlan, Yen Ching, Tony and Ah Khiang throughout my driving lessons. And several days during that period, we even went and celebrate Khai Loong's 18th birthday.

I did cherish those times. Indeed, myself today really wanted to return to those days, where we don't really need to worry much except for our SPM results. Those unnecessary stress in the adult, working world, while our minds are beginning to understand complicating stuff such as politics, economics and societies - all of these, they reflect the current social order we are in, where stress is a constant, where the commons are segregated and being told what we should do under this paradigm (Alright, I won't go deeper) The only thing left are memories, with a little electronic connection from the social media to keep the relationships alive.

Then came March 2007 with our results being released to our eyes and ears. That month became my turning point in life as soon as I got my results. It was until here I could see the final peak of our fellowships under one roof, though we were long graduated.

I scored 7As, which was quite decent despite the odds of facing the pains of the Science Stream. Ms. Fanny, our physics teacher once said that failing in certain subjects are normal in Pure Science classes. There were better scorers who definitely got scholarships and I applauded them much. And after that, things began to deteriorate as some of us are leaving Tawau for their own paths.

As for my church's youth cell fellowship, I did enjoyed the fellowships with them as soon as we began meeting in Feb 2007. This picture was our 2005 fellowship before we were divided into two smaller groups. We then reunited back together in Crystal's house. All went well before my National Service days began.

I left them during the week of my birthday (March 18) for PLKN. The crossroads are already near, for my schoolmates and my youth fellowship friends are seeing my departure into the camp. I even remembered Cayenne's Friendster testimonial before entering the camp as she wished me Happy Birthday. In that message she even hoped that I would read it before entering the camp. March 2007 was indeed a turning point towards my tertiary education days.

Elsewhere, there were people began entering their new chapters of their lives. So did I. Anyway, that's all for now. The reason why I typed this out was because I felt nostalgic. So, stay tuned for the other parts.