Monday, August 25, 2008

Kia Ora!

Kia Ora! Hello!

I'm writing this from the main library of the University of Canterbury in Christchurch. It is currently raining outside, which means we have to layer up before heading off somewhere. The temperature is very similar to Sydney's but because you are in Christchurch, you tend to psych yourself in believing that it is in fact colder than what it really is. Yes, we or no, I, like to torture myself like that.

Maybe it is because I've not seen the entire campus but something is telling me that UC is about the same size as MQ. Pet has brought me around and yes, I did take photos but that will have to wait. I am only able to provide a verbal account of the sights for now. The campus is super green and if I studied here, I think I'd be reluctant to leave.

I am just amazed at the variety of trees they have here. There are towering trees that provide that enchanted forest aura. There are trees that skirt walkways like a curtain to a window. There are weeping willows that hang over the creek that flows through the campus. There are trees that would transform the place into a winter wonderland when there is snow. And my goodness, they have so many ducks here!

Now, if I continue writing about my stay here using words, I think you guys know that I'd go on and on. That's why, I figured that it would be better for me to just jot down a few words now before I set off with my week-long drive around the island tomorrow morning.

Despite the cold (which I don't have a problem with), this trip has been a pleasant one. Being able to catch up with Pet in person since high school is definitely the high of this trip. Oh, and the weekend with Dor as well. We cleared up misunderstandings, spoke of our futures and laughed at our pasts. We ate heartily and embraced each other for who we are and are not.

I think this trip will be like my graduation roadtrip. With so much of Mother Nature around me, it would be hard not to think of my place in the world. Being with Pet and her flatmates also make me realise that the 2008 Olympic Games motto really does apply to people from all corners of the world: One World, One Dream.

Alright, more will come when I have pictures to refer to. Now, it's just blab.

And I just found something out: Not only can Pet read at superbionic speed, she can type and think at superbionic speed, too! Why can't I have normal friends?!?!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Win a Birdie Says mug!

Did the word 'win' attract your attention? Haha, I hope it did because it sure did attract mine! If you like my blog template, you'd like this contest which Gisele is holding.

Gisele is one talented lass, designing blog templates and other artsy-fartsy stuff. Sometimes I wish I am half as imaginative as she is! This is her second giveaway contest and she's giving away mugs she designed!

Admittedly, I took a long time to decide which was my favourite, as I liked all of them! Therefore, I asked Shaun and I observed his facial expressions to judge which one he liked best:



Cute eh?

If you'd like to stand a chance to win yourself a good-looking mug like the one here, head over to the link up the top and join in the fun!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Save KL!

I received this from Petra a few weeks ago and I apologise for putting this up only now. It's almost the end of the month! So guys, please take a look at it, click on the links, watch the videos, download the documents and whatever else. If you live in KL, all the more you should take the time and effort because if you don't, I don't know who else will. It's your home and your own future you are deciding on!

If you want to participate and have a say in how your neighbourhood and KL will develop over the next 12 years, check out the video below. Mr. Derek Fernandez (urban planning lawyer & MPPJ councillor) talks about the complex & controversial Draft Kuala Lumpur City Plan 2020 released by DBKL. They've even prepared a downloadable 'Dummy's Guide' because they really love simplifying things for other people!


If you have a blog, please embed the episode.

If you have email, please forward.

If you have concerns, please raise them now. You have until the end of the month - the dateline for public response to the draft is 31 August 2008!

Visit Pop TV & Vision KL 2020

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Stab me!

Actions speak louder than words.

Well, at least that was what we were taught. However, recently, I've observed something that does not reflect that teaching.

Let me ask you these questions: What are your expectations of the people around you? Also, what do you assume are the obligations you hold towards them?

Not sure? For me, as much as I tell myself to not expect anything from others, I can't help but automatically hope for some form of reciprocity. While thinking so, I feverishly pray that they expect near to nothing from me. Now, I am not proud of this form of selfishness but hey, how many of you dare confess that you and I think alike?

So, when we criticise others of their actions or words, what are we to expect? Well, the same thing to happen to ourselves, of course! Yes, actions may speak louder than words but haven't we figured out after say, a quarter of a century on Earth that words sting more?

We almost always behave according to the heat of the moment. Luckily, those moments do not last long for most of us. But, the after effects of what we do or say may last longer than we may like them to. So why do we even bother feeling angry, sad, cheated etc.? Some say, "You shouldn't keep things in. It's not good for you." Yes, agreed. But, letting those emotions out does not warrant the vocal graffiti of the people involved,does it?

Hm, not quite sure of what to think now? I guess staying true to your own heart and mind is the hardest matter to conquer, no?

For it is when we are true to ourselves, we stop belittling others.
For it is when we are honest and open about our thoughts, we stop putting up a front.
And when we believe that we are our own enemies, we will stop making enemies out of everyone else.

Hence the stabbing.

Why do we stab? It doesn't matter if it's backstabbing, frontstabbing or sidestabbing. It's still stabbing regardless of which direction it comes from. This act of brutality becomes worse when the stabber tells others a different version of the story that is told to the stabbee. And so the brutality becomes vicious.

It's sad, don't you think? This habitual (and sometimes, I think, primordial) reaction in the name of self-defence when started, has no end. And if you are Buddhist like me, you'd believe that the negative emotions tied in with the stabbing will be brought on to the next life thus further hampering our attempts to achieve Nirvana.

It is tiring. To be the 'good guy' in front of everyone is very tiring indeed. You'd need various versions of the same topic to tug at the heartstrings of differing audiences. So why do we continue doing it? It makes the stabbing more efficient, you see. And when it gets more efficient, the more the stabber enjoys his/her position of power. And so the cycle of hatred continues.

But that doesn't seem to stop us from joining the masquerade. In fact, we seem to enjoy ourselves to a certain extent.

Ah, what the hell... go ahead and stab me! We can rot in Hell together for all I care!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Gold Coast: Warner Bros. Movie World & Wet 'n' Wild Water World

It didn't matter that the weather was forecasted to be rainy. It didn't matter that the sky threatened to pour. It didn't matter that it was wet and windy. We were in Gold Coast and not being able to go to the theme parks would defeat the whole purpose of being there. And so, we braved the unpleasant weather not knowing what was in store....

Just look at the eager beavers consisting of (top to bottom, left to right) Angeline and Chee Sing, Edison, Jenny and Nic, as well as Shaun and I:




Despite the grey skies, welcome to Movie World!


Because it was raining, many of the rides were closed. So, we walked around and posed for pictures with super heroes:



This is the main road where they hold parades:


When the rain finally let up slightly, we quickly rushed to check whether Superman Escape was open. When it wasn't, we took time to pose in front of its signage:


The guys did something much more challenging than just posing for pictures. Haha... they took on the Batwing Spaceshot! Look at how happy they were:


We girls couldn't help teasing them. Haha... here's a video of their experience:


Man, their screams were loud... of course, if I went on it, I'd be screaming just as loud, if not louder. Ok, let me show you one photo that would capture what I mean:


Don't laugh. If you were on it yourself and you have a slight phobia of being in fast-moving things and high up places, you'd be screaming just as loudly as us, especially on the first drop which was very close to a 90-degree drop. Just watch this:


I really hate how they move you in the rollercoaster from the platform to the opening and they'd stop. They make you wait there for some reason (most probably to make you regret). I went, "OMG, I'm so gonna die, I'm so gonna die...." You have no idea how scared I was when it went up the highest point and dropped from there. I thought I was going to faint but hey, I actually enjoyed it! Haha! We went on it again right after getting off.... yes, we are crazy.

From that, it was to another ride - Lethal Weapon. It works exactly like a normal rollercoaster just that instead of having something solid to place your feet on, you have nothing. It feels like sitting on a swing.

I actually wasn't very keen on this one as I felt less secure without having anything under my feet but was successfully persuaded by Jenny. When I got on and when it was climbing up the highest point of the ride, I went, "I hate you Jenny... AAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!" Seconds later, when it was doing the first out of several 360-degree turns, I went from hating Jenny to, "This is SSOOOOO COOOOLLLL!!!!!"

However, we were totally drenched by the ride as when we were upside down, we had water pour all over us with some ending in our mouths (as they were wide open for screaming). Yuck... You can't see me in the pic but I'm on the fourth row from the front where Shaun and Nic were:


After that, we went on an indoor rollercoaster, the Scooby-Doo ride. It wasn't as 'scary' as the first two but there were parts when I really did feel uneasy. I shall not disclose more in case some of you are planning a trip there. It wouldn't be any fun if you knew what happened... haha..

Finally, we decided that it was chow time. Unfortunately, it started to drizzle again and because a group of school children from China took all the seats that were sheltered, we ended up sitting along the kaki lima:


So kesian. Nevermind ler, we are nice people...

As we had food in our tummies, we went for not-so-terrifying rides thereafter. There was the 4D Shrek Adventure and a similar one that was over at the Batcave. Then, we were lucky that they decided to have the parade despite the slight drizzle. See if there are any here that you are not familiar with:











It was a happy day. Couldn't have been better if not for the dodgy weather...

And whaddya know?

The next day, we had brilliant weather!


The only downside of the weather was the piercing cold wind... goodness gracious... do you know how much we tahan to take this picture? We were actually freezing and couldn't even stand properly to smile!

I enjoyed myself heaps more on this day than I did at Movie World. I think it was due to the fact that there was virtually no one there to squeeze with us in there. Queues were either very short or non-existent. It was great!

We went on EVERY SINGLE RIDE that was open. I don't remember what they were all called but the first one had us lie face down on a styrofoam mat. I went on that slide three times. I went on every ride at least twice. I enjoyed the dark tube ride (Chee Sing and I literally couldn't tell where we were going as it was pitch black!), as well as the ride that all six of us went on at the same time. The most enjoyable one, though, I'd have to say was the scariest one - the Funnel. That was uber crazy! Too bad we don't have a video of us screaming our lungs out.

It was worth our money as we were non-stop sliding from the moment we were in there until the moment they closed, minus the time we took off to have lunch. So that was 6 hours of spills and thrills! Angeline, Jenny, next time if we actually do go again, both of you have to come on every ride with me ya? Not fair that you guys were only sitting in the spa pool...


Thank you, Wet 'n' Wild Water World for a funtastic time!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Gold Coast: Surfers Paradise

Boy was this trip packed with thrills and spills! As we are cheapskates, we bought the first Jetstar flight to Gold Coast that departed at 6:30a.m. Crazy right? Well, seems that the whole plane was full of crazy people like us. When we arrived at Gold Coast, we bought a Freedom Pass that allowed us to ride on any Surfside bus service for 5 consecutive days, and that included airport transfers from our motel. That was the plus side. The down side was that we waited at the wrong stand and the bus driver didn't bother telling us although we approached him!

Great...

When we finally found out where to go, we realised that it was the same bus driver whose bus we were going to board! Celaka... oh well... and while waiting for the bus to depart from the airport, we were observing a group of (pretty jakun) Malaysians, who must have flew on AirAsia. There was a camera crew and some people directing another group of people on what to do, where to look and all that. And then I saw the word ASTRO emblazoned across some of their jackets. Ah, baru I faham what was going on.

And then, it was onwards to Surfer's Paradise! We checked into a place that looked like a dodgy Polis Diraja Malaysia hostel with typical white walls and blue roof. We gulped. Oh no, please let the rooms be comfy... phew, thankfully, the apartment was in good condition and the lady who ran the place was super friendly. We paid $400 for 4 nights for a 2-bedroom apartment at Raffles Royale. It came with a toilet adjoined to the laundry with a washing machine and dryer, air-con/heater, cable TV and kitchen. Outside, there were barbeque pits, a pool and a jacuzzi. She didn't charge us for the extra rollaway bed, how generous!

After placing our luggages in our respective rooms, we decided to go out for brunch. Our first meal in Gold Coast was such a rip-off! My goodness! For the same price, we'd be having a much better looking, better tasting and BIGGER breakfast in Glebe! I guess feeling extremely hungry has its price to pay. After that, we headed to the beach. I must admit, the beach is spectacular - siky soft and fine sand, clear blue waters and skies and there was A WHOLE FREAKING STRETCH of 'em! Here, let me show you a left, middle and right perspective of what I mean:




Of course, we checked out the shops there as well. I didn't buy anything other than four gemstone bracelets for $10. The following two places we headed to the most because Shaun couldn't decide which cap to get and whether he really wanted the jacket he saw at


and because we had to buy two things on two separate occasions for Auds from


.... sigh, yup, decisions, decisions.

Our first day on the Gold Coast ended with a home-cooked pasta dinner. The next day, there were two additions to our foursome who joined us from Brisbane:


Just in case we'd forget again like we did the day before, we took a pic in front of the arch that greeted beach-throngers to Surfer's:


That night, we celebrated Jenny's birthday at an Italian restaurant. Nic secretly asked for a piece of cake from the waiter, much to Jenny's surprise. She was so happy that she decided to take group pics to commemorate the occasion:


Little did she know that there was another surprise waiting back at the apartment. We bought her a cute little star-shaped chocolate mint ice cream cake from Cold Rock:


And while everyone was relaxing in front of the TV screen, I was busy keeping track of who owed me how much for what. Wahaha, can't believe I actually listed out exactly what it was they had to pay me for...

Friday, August 01, 2008

An unusual first day of the month

Normally, I'd be sleeping in on a Friday. Nine in the morning would be my usual wake up time, if not slightly earlier. That is considered 'late' at home but that's the norm if I do not have work scheduled for that day. Well, guess what time I woke up this morning....

I woke up at half-past five this morning! Yup, on a perfectly good 'oh-so-nice-to-sleep-in' day, I was up before the sun was. I've not done that in a long while, to tell you the truth. The last time I did that was probably two months ago when I had a morning shift at school. I had to be at school at 6:55a.m.

This morning, Audrey and I had to be at Epping station by 6:30a.m. We both had our uniforms - a light blue t-shirt with slightly darker blue sleeves printed with a pair of jeans in a double helix style. They weren't very thick so we had to wear a long-sleeved t-shirt inside. And boy, it was definitely a cold day today. The wind was a killer.

Through our assignment this morning, we accidentally found out that males are more willing to fork out cash and spend a considerably less amount of time thinking when purchasing merchandise in the name of charity. We also noticed that there are people out there who bother to do some good, some in bigger ways than others. One lady, especially, made a big impression. She approached us, panting, and said:

I just knew that I had to come to the train station today. I drove but something told me nah, I have to go to the station.


Wow.

And to think that most people just walk past you as if you are invisible. I mean, you don't have to shoot daggers at us if you don't want to buy anything. It would be nice if you SMILED at us or just said, NO THANK YOU. Is that so hard? Sigh...

Anyways, we managed to raise $2518.20 this morning. That is 4 hours worth of inviting people to buy wristbands for $3, pens for $4, CMRI 50th anniversary badges for $5 (these were our bestsellers) and limited edition Grant Hackett badges for $10.

I'm glad I put my name down to volunteer today. Now I really know what it feels like to be someone at a public area trying to raise funds for a charity organisation. Before, I could only imagine. Oh, and also because I got to meet the Hon. Maxine McKew MP and we had a photo taken together!

So, support children's medical research! Buy a badge! It's Jeans for Genes Day!

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