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.
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.