Archive for March, 2008

Little Words to Live By
A friend in need is a friend indeed

By: Unknown

“I’ve had it. Next life I want to be a man!” I snorted angrily as I walked out of the female restroom. “What’s the matter?” inquired by my concerned male companion. He opened a can of worm. I started a whole drama on how much effort and inconvenience it is for a girl to do the simplest task, take a leak.

My call for mercy was answered one day. A dear friend of mine brought back the The Whiz Plus from Australia. Priced at AUD 24.95, I held the small pink gadget and I stared blankly at it for the first time. I examined it carefully. Its length measures approximately 15 cm. It looks very much like a filter funnel used in a science laboratory.

The fist sized tool, fits nicely in the pocket. Now, the thought of left over urine must be disgusting. The beauty of this product is that its made to dry easily. A flick with your hand and the waste is removed. Now, the smell, after about 3 usages, you definitely need to wash it or people will stay far away from you. Then again, the smell won’t be obvious in the woods since the sweat aroma should overcloud any nasty scent.

Designed for female trekkers, it’s really convenient. However, this product has a minor set back. Using the gadget, one has to still pull down the trousers up to the buttocks level. This is to enable fitting of the gadget into the appropriate space. Nevertheless taking a leak standing is indeed far better than the conventional method. Perhaps in the near future, the textile industry will design some female trekking pants with bottom zippers.

Besides using it during outdoor activities, I think this tool will come in handy in indoor places like public toilets or ladies restroom in shopping malls. Since there’s no other gadget equivalent that serves the same purpose, I suppose there’s isn’t much to compare its quality.

Is it value for money ? No more climbing leeches while you pee, priceless.

In short, Whiz Plus is a female’s best friend in the jungle.

Little Words to Live By
Better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing flawlessly

By: Dr. Robert Schuller
A picture with Dawn Yang

I woke up last week with an earthquake headache. It was bad. It had been 3 days lying helplessly in bed. The evil spell poisoned my body but thankfully my mind remained sane somehow. The thought of the blogger party gave me a breather, someway, I must pull enough strength to attend it. I didn’t take the half naked photo with packets of Chipster for nothing. If that wasn’t enough to kill the viral, the opportunity to meet Jeff Ooi was my inspiration. A blogger who is making a difference to Malaysia. I must admit, it will be a privilege to shake his hands.

The alarm rang and my eyes were blurry. The drug intoxicated my body. I was sweating and I glanced at my mobile. It read 6pm. I closed my eyes and the minute I opened my eyes, it was 7pm. Oh, no ! I’m late. Getting ready was a drift. I wore my “decent” pajamas and had a robe on. The nightmare days before was a sign. I need to cover myself so my health condition don’t get any worst.

I was fashionably late. I dashed into a room of strangers. The whipping was loud. It was noisy. My head spun. The stage had two men who seem to be enjoying some sadistic act. They were smiling and women were seated on their back, rocking violently. I tried to squeeze through the crowd to have a closer look. My attempt was futile. The photos I took turned out quite disastrous. A slight disappointment took over me. I then found out that Jeff Ooi is not coming. The consolation of the day was the picture with the famous Singaporean blogger. One, I know by name but never did I read her blog. I felt pretentious, as if I adored her. Standing next to her, the pride I took was telling my friends I met Dawn Yang. The respond I received was utterly disgraceful, “You think her boobs, real ah?” I don’t blame the male gender, as I stood near her that night, I found myself staring at her revealing assets. Our eyes never met.

It was indeed an outrageous party. One, that I would have participated and enjoyed. Instead, I sat by the corner and occasionally put on a weak smile.

I shall look forward to next year, celebrating another mile with Nuffnang.

Little Words to Live By
Don’t Make Any Decisions When You Are Angry

By: Unknown

I rejoiced in sheer pleasure when I arrived at the Tioman Reef Divers Centre, Tioman island. “It’s far too early for the diving season” one frequent diver may respond if I said, “I’m going diving end February.” It was so long ago I almost forgot how the underwater world looks like. If I recall correctly, approximately 730 days was my last visit to the deep sea down under. It took me 5 minutes to decide when the opportunity came knocking on my door.

The 5 hours drive up north was somewhat intriguing. I stayed awake most of the drive, which is rare for a full grown piggy. I took noticed every fence that guarded the orchard and paddy field. The wires that kept the crops safe gave me a new perspective, one that never dawn on me before. What was it ? There are many ways to build a fence !

There was also something remarkable about the journey in the car, a moment I would best described it as serenity. The hours didn’t feel like inching minutes. Unfortunately, I couldn’t say the same on the experience sitting in the ferry. The choppy motion was a turmoil for my stomach. I didn’t feel good at all, although the ride was by no means the first experience I’ve had. Endurance was the word that held my digestive substance in place. An agonizing 4 hours, my butt was glued to the hard seat. There was no other choice, I couldn’t jump off the ferry. I could swim instead. The thought did linger on my mind. The waiting continued after arriving at the jetty in the island. My lack of will to stay focus had me loitering around the cemented blocks of buildings near the jetty in Tekek village. Finally, the van arrived and my two car mates and I hopped on to it with bursting anticipation.

Arriving at Babura Seaview resort cafeteria, we were greeted by the organizer. Before me, stood a rather round shape man, half naked with his wet suit pulled down to his tummy, exposing his well tanned chest. His radiant smile spread wide across his face as he ran through the itinerary for the day. We had an hour to get ready, so we gobbled down lunch as fast as we could.

I changed to my bikini soon after and I was very eager to get into my diving suit. The air was chilly, I could feel my goosebumps as I slipped on the rented costume. It wasn’t an easy task, putting on the rubbery clothing, the struggle took me a good 10 minutes. I never took much noticed of my own body until I stood a torment between the rubber and my skin. I’d noticed how my thunder thighs defined my flawlessly smooth skin. I’d noticed that my calves has grown more muscular from all the hiking. I knew this, all the changes to the shape of my body was a good sign. My moment was interrupted when the other divers came a close distant to get ready. I must have looked rather silly gazing at my own legs, as if it was the first time I saw them.

Carrying a pair of fins and the diving mask, the group walked on the beach to the nearby jetty, to the dive boat. Walking on the beach, kicking the sand, I wondered at the quietitude and tranquility of the sea. Such peaceful moment, the wind blew against my face, I could taste the soft sweet air.

The first dive site was the Marine Park. Carrying the BCD and other equipments in place, my buddy diver did the proper 3 step check. I was very anxious. His deep dark brown eyes and soothing voice calmed me. I stood up and was ready. I flipped clumsily to the edge of the dive boat, breathless, my tongue was sticking out, gasping for air. I felt like a dog. In I went doing a backward entry point into the salted water.

Adjusting my buoyancy, I felt the weight lighter and I was floating. The rest of the divers splashed in effortlessly. The moment came, everyone started descending. Everyone, except me. I took a deep, long breath and told myself, “Go down, you remember how to go down”. Steadily, I started sinking in. My head was immersed into the water and the ray of sunlight slowly start to get blurry. I was breathing tank of oxygen, clean and unpolluted.

Visibility was poor. I saw nothing. My vision was only on my buddy diver. I stayed close to him. He constantly looked at his dive computer and signaled me to go slow. We swam a short distance and arrived at some artificial reef. 5 poles rooted firmly on the ground. Corals were sighted growing on the cemented sticks. The picture was getting much clearer, I could see some fishes. A big, fat Gamuda fish swam close to me and gave me a fright.

45 minutes went by and the group ascended back to the boat. As the boat steered nearer to the beach, the faint cries of the fishermen from the village sounded clearly above the noise of the waves which were lapping gently on the shore. We stepped out of the boat and I encountered a new experience with the shells …

Little Words to Live By
When life gives you lemons, add vodka

By: Unknown

NOTE: I wrote this last year, similar experience but different write up on Camping in Kenong.

You gain strength, experience and confidence by every experience where you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

By definition from the Kenong trip

Fear = leeches

The thing you cannot do – walk

It is perplexing yet excruciating how 3 days with Mother Nature can change your perspective about yourself. 16 people comprising of 8 females and males respectively ventured into the forest of Kenong Park, Pahang on the 31st August 2007.

With leisure walking, a quiet time reading and perhaps solitude time relaxing by the stream in mind, I’m sure the 16 participants gathered more than they have bargained for the cost of the trip.I presume for the young hunk who traveled from France and joined us must have had an interesting tale to tell his friends when he returns home.

The morning started with breakfast at Kuala Lipis town and the group got acquainted with the trekking guide, Appu in Appu’s Guest House. Appu’s sparkling eyes greeted us warmly. We took the opportunity during the waiting moment to exchange words with one another. 17 of us, we were no longer strangers as we hustled each other in lodging the food onto our backpack respectively.

Before beginning our journey, we witnessed the marching parade in the streets of Kuala Lipis. Gleefully, we stood admiring the patriotism spirit shown by our fellow Malaysians. Hoping on to the Merdeka wave, equipped with the camera, some of us waved enthusiastically as the band marched by.

We then separated into two groups. We tucked ourselves into the van. Everyone was clearly beaming with excitement as muffled sound of conversation was heard in the van. I took the opportunity to catch some winks. By the time I woke up, we have arrived at the oil palm estate. We squeezed carefully out of the doggie door of the van and waited for the other van to arrive. We waited. Patiently. As time passes by, some of us got bored and naturally we entertained ourselves. Some made pranks, posing eccentrically for photos while others rested the minutes away.

Soon enough, the driver realized that something was amiss and so he urged us to hopped back into the van. We cramped ourselves without much complain. Mid way, we met with the other van and the driver exchanged words with Appu. Apparently the driver misunderstood the drop off points and it was too late to return to the origin location. I was dazed with the happening but I obediently followed with the flow of events.

We arrive at the startup point and had a group picture. The 1.5 hour trek (as indicated in the itinerary) began here.

The first hour, we walked with our chirpy smiles, straining past the majestic forest. Along the way, we met the silent crawlers occupant of the woods, the leeches. Many willfully set heart to remove the uninvited guests from our socks. The leeches were sinking its nasty teeth into our fragile flesh.

Soon, we arrived at the native village and indeed we applauded, an enormous audience, admiring the natives’ hut.

Our journey continued up the hill and down the path. Yet, no visible sight of our destination. We stopped for lunch and I heard a question targeted to the leading head, “How long more? I thought it was just an 1.5 hour trek.” said the tired voice. The reply came diplomatically, “We are almost there, just another 15 minutes”. I accepted with anticipation that our lodging campsite to come in due time. Little did I realize the walk took us 5 hours ! The miracle of unconditional strength our feet brought us to an empty vast area. Even though, we could no longer express our innermost thoughts, our expression showed relief that we have finally arrived. It was as though in a brief moment we settled ourselves comfortably under the fly sheet and 4 young women shared the tent. Before we sat our heavy body on the tree logs, the “salt medic” was on call, busy in action, examining and killing off all the unwelcome leeches surrounding the campsite.

Most of us refreshed ourselves at the nearby river bank. Albeit, the water was muddy and milky, all of us were grateful for a good “clean” wash. There was something strangely attractive, even compelling washing in the stream. Drying our clothes and shoes had a new dimension.

Meanwhile, Appu was very busy preparing dinner for us at his “luxurious” kitchen. As he did so, without even being conscious of it, I had this sense of extraordinary respect for him. He managed so well with his bare hands, handling the fire, cooking for a group of 17 individuals. Dinner was served and we feast ourselves with the delicious curry chicken and fried vegetables. Appu then entertained us with his adventures in Kenong park. By then, my eyes were too heavy for me to carry. I quietly sneaked into my cozy tent and dreamt away.

The morning crisp of 1st Sept, Saturday came and the campsite radiated with a beautiful sunshine. Roti breakfast with tea/milo never tasted so good in my life. Thriving for our next shower, we eagerly packed the essentials for a short 10 minutes walk to the waterfall. The walk was short, however the climb to reach the waterfall was quite a challenge for some. When we finally reached the waterfall, the spirituality in the realm was indescribable. We swam and played in the water like a bunch of 8 years old. We then head back to the campsite after a good wash in the waterfall. Once again, Appu worked his magic hands and cooked us lunch. We ate like a pack of hungry wolves.

Our journey continued to the next location, Buta cave. We carried our backpacks along with our undying spirit and ventured into the woods. The walk was long and it seemed never ending. The dedicated photographer clicked away on her camera but her energy seem to have drained away with each mile taken. The shining moment came when the last three person in the trekking group heard a loud grunt in the nearby path. Without hesitation, the sweeper shouted, “Run !! Just run !!” and ran we did to save our dear lives. Whatever the sound was, we will never find out but the run revealed that we had strength in our poor legs.

After 6 hours walking, it felt like eternity.Our body knew no pain or suffering. There was only the steady rhythm of our footsteps. Our blood donation to the forest was welcomed with an open heart by the hungry leeches. In spite of this, we marveled ourselves with the leech bite marks and even compared amongst ourselves who had the biggest, fattest, feeding leech pet.

The light at the end of the tunnel finally became visible. An angel voice spoke “We are here”. The sight of the cave was a blessing for us. We cried for joy. This lodging site looked much equipped than the first one. It had well built planks, laying out a square area. This is the place where we sat and rested our tired butts. All of us then followed Appu to the nearby stream. We scrubbed ourselves and we chatted away. From the stream, we saw some chalets. We were told that the chalet toilets were haunted! The water felt cooler as the words were spoken. Chills up my spine so I hurriedly washed myself and went back to the campsite.

We gathered around the square corner and chatted away while Appu prepared dinner. A few of us shed a helping hand. Food was delicious and warming to our stomach . The night continued with story telling. A tale told that made me beamed with fear. Apparently there are two wandering spirits protecting Appu. The surroundings seem rather quiet as Appu continued his story. Then, we heard noises in the greens above us. It was too dark to tell what it was and I wasn’t ready to find out. Perhaps it was the chill that drove us back to our sleeping area. All of us went to bed thereafter.

The next morning, we knew the walk back out of the jungle would be again a long walk. So, we dreaded packing up. Nevertheless, the time has come for yet another walk. Surprisingly, the path was much shorter but the sun wasn’t very kind to us. Midway, we saw another hut. The structure of this hut was very special. It showed fine craftsmanship . Two little boys were standing in the hut while the picture was taken. They smiled so brightly as we walked past them.

Our journey took us to a village. We saw buffoloes and chickens. It was rather obvious that we were uptown people as we gazed in amusement with the farm animals. While seated and rested, Appu surprised us with cans of 100 plus. Our thirst was quenched and indeed we were grateful to Appu for his well thought gesture. Soon, we continued our journey and we reached a river. We hopped on to the boat and crossed Kenong river. The sight of Kenong forest slowly diminished. My heart felt a sudden sink as I bid the woods goodbye.

The journey back to Kuala Lipis on the van was rather solemn. When we arrived at Appu’s Guest House, each of us took turn to have a quick shower. Very few words were spoken then, those we spoke were words of gold. I will always treasure those special moments I shared with my new friends.

Little Words to Live By
Calm seas never make skillful sailors

By: Unknown

On my arrival at The Ballet Studio, I was greeted by eight little four years old dressed in their pink leotards and baby ballet shoes. Hairs neatly tucked with pink ribbons and fancy clips. The pink chiffon skirts looked so precious hanging on their rounded tummy. Everything looked so adorable. There was something in the pinkness that shouted out loud, “Look at me, I’m a princess”. A beautiful fairy tale for every young girl. The perfect dress, the perfect shoes.

Their face glowed as I stepped into the waiting room. All sweet and nice, cute little angels excitedly, eagerly anticipating for the class to begin. Meanwhile, my own excitement was slowly building up as I strap on my shoes. The magical moment cast upon when the shoe is worn, tiny droplets of fairy dust would appear. I would imagine myself on the center of the stage and the audience would applaud for me, just me.

As the bubbly four years old queued up to enter the studio, their cheeky face wrote lines of unspoken verse, a new page in my life. I knew that this moment, this very class would make a difference.

The class started with the usual morning singing accompanied by body stretching. The bend on my body reminded me of how much age has caught up with me. How I cherished the days when flexibility was not an issue for me. “Teacher’s too old, have weak bones. You young darlings can stretch more” I hear myself say, an excuse I started using when one fine day my toes felt numb and my fingers disconnected from my hands. I knew my toes no longer can withstand the throbbing pain and burning blisters on pointe shoes. My heart dances forever nevertheless.

The next exercise proceeded, the cat pose. Curling up in the imaginary basket, I instructed “Imagine you’re a lazy cat waking up in the early morning to do your stretch. You can be a Persian cat or Garfield” Out of the corner on the second row, a voice responded, “We have a black cat in class” and she pointed at the last girl, who apparently have different shades of skin color. The class illuminated with total silence. I was caught unguarded. My tongue swallowed and I gulped in response. It wasn’t a pretty sight, to be honest. Never before I taught a class to distinguish the color on our skin. I never had to, for it never mattered. The little girl sat curled up, feeling alienated that she was identified as the “black cat”. Her eyes peered right into mine, hoping for a defense and the words came to me from no where. “What color of cat would you like to be?” bouncing the attention to the one who spoke to me. “I want to be a pink cat ! ” ecstatically she replied. The rest of the students spoke their colors of choice. “Oh, my, I have a group of colorful cats in class today ! Let’s get them all on their paws and stretch! ” With that, the exercise continued. I wasn’t sure if the answer was right or if they learnt anything valuable that faithful Saturday.

Although teaching at times completely drained me of all my strength and I was worn to be in a frazzle, caught in occasions where I find no words within me, I found that in many instances such as this experience, the satisfaction and sheer joy that indeed my purpose in life made a difference. No matter how small, the colors on our skin does not matter. It will never will – We can be any color.