Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Not Taking a Break this Semester Break

I just entered my first semesters mid term break which will last for a week. For the past month, I was looking forward to this week because it will be a week where I can get good rest before I take on the rest of the semester again. However, my break is yes, a break from studies, but not for rest. The moment my break began, on the last day of class, on that night itself, me and my group of friends doing Cognitive Science rented 3 cars and headed up to Kuching. It was a trip of 15 people and it was amazing to see how close we were as friends, a really big group of friends. The initial plan of my friend was to go to The Hills for karaoke but it was too expensive. So instead, we went to walk around Kuching and took a boat across the Santubong river. That night was only just the beginning. The next day had much more adventure :)

I got up around 7.45 that morning. We were supposed to group up at Cempaka at 9am to get into our transport. It was delayed to about 10am but I didnt bother. As long as I got to my destination, Im happy. This trip was again organised by the same previous Chinese society in UNIMAS. They had about 7 cars to bring about 33 people around. First we headed to Jong Crocodile Farm. We arrived at 11am, which was just in time for the crocodiles feeding time. They have feeding shows at 11am and 3pm.

The workers will hang a piece of meat or fish onto a cable that is tied across the pond. The crocodiles in the pond will jump up, trying to grab their lunch. It was such a great sight to see the crocodiles jumping because you dont really get to see crocodiles everyday, but thank God for that.

We spent another hour at the crocodile farm walking around, looking at other animals and ate some snacks. I would like to rephrase 'we' to 'the both of us' :) I have a very special companion who shares the same interest with me and one of it is to travel. Shes really adventurous and really knows how to live life :) I thank God again for introducing her into my life :)

So anyway, we got back into the cars and headed to a town nearby for lunch. Lunch wasnt that great but at least it filled my stomach well, and they had good Chinese tea :) We headed to Ranchan Waterfall soon after. It was about an hour trip, cos we got lost a bit as the convoy got split up. Nevertheless, we arrived at our destination safely. Ranchan had a series of waterfalls and I suggested to go as high as possible because usually if youre at a lower part of the waterfall, you have no idea what shit happened from above :p

We trekked through the forest up the hill to find a higher waterfall. It was just me, Carmen and Jeff, I have no idea where the others went. Jeff also is another adventurous and enthusiastic person, but hes a guy :p Haha. So we reached the end of the trail, took off our shoes and went down into the cold water. We could go much higher following through the rocks but we did not want to leave our valuables far from us. As we were in the water, we sat in it and allowed the water to flow through us. The funniest part also was that the river had fishes. They were small fishes trying to eat our feet. It was like a fish therapy, and it was so ticklish. After awhile, we did get used to it. I have no idea what fish was that but i believed it was cleaning my feet :)

Panchor Hot Springs was our next destination. Getting there wasnt easy as the roads were still, undeveloped. The roads were narrow and it wasnt tarmac. There are still future plans in developing the road. The entrance fee into the hot springs is only RM3 and they have a cafe there. The place is well maintained and clean. It is a natural hot springs pond so the water may look dirty and muddy, but its natural, hot and filled with natural minerals. When i drenched my feet into the water, it was really hot. I had to keep putting my legs up many times, but after awhile, I got used to it and just enjoyed the hot water. Hot springs is good for the body because its said to help in circulating blood flow in the body. People with high blood pressure are not advised to enter the hot springs.

We then headed to Kuching for dinner in the Hong Kong Noodle House located in Chinatown. It was one of my most favorite restaurants because they served dried chili in oil, which was one of my favorite chili. I had pork ribs with champagne and wine sauce and Carmen had the same thing, without the champagne and wine sauce. Both kinda just tasted the same, but it tasted good too. We both also ordered sour soup which was a thick soup with tofu and chicken slices. It was a spicy soup but it taste great and was very filling. Our dinner came up to about less than RM10. Soon, we headed back to campus to end the day :)

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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Peeling the Banana

I’m quite, but not very, drained as I just got back from a hiking trip at Mount. Gading and hit the waves at Sematan Beach Resort. I am going to blog about the great trip but before this post, I was supposed to talk about the colourful Citrawarna event held last Wednesday in the university in occasion of its convocation. Wow that rhymes… Anyway, why dont I just combine the both of them into one post.

It was a contemplation between attending debate meeting or Citrawarna. Debate was important but Citrawarna is an event described so well that I did not want to miss it. It was also because of the dedication of my friends who were involved and the team by each college, which spent almost every night practicing their act. Citrawarna was also a onetime event to me so me and my friends didn’t want to miss it.

As usual, it started off with speeches and its official launching. There was an opening act and a mini parade by the alumni of UNIMAS before the competition. Soon after, the battle of colours began. It was mostly magnificent.

Each colleges had their own distinct themes, one was focused on the Indian culture as another was focused on the Mexican culture. My college performed a Rio theme and others had their own. I am usually not attracted to such traditional events but I am always attracted to the idea of synchronisation. It was a beautiful sight to see about 40 students from each college putting together a dance performance, boasting creativity and skills.In the end, my college, Bunga Raya, won the overall title for the competition. Im really proud of them and of course, to my friends Phoebe, Qiu Xi, Leo Lim and Joshua Jerome who were part of the performance.  

Moving on to my exciting day trip, it was a satisfying trip. It all started off hilariously. The event was actually planned by some Chinese society in the university and my friend, Jeff, knowing the meaning of my name in Chinese, submitted my name in Chinese, which I did not understand. Yes, I don’t know my own name in Chinese and am a so called banana. Wo Shi Xiang Jiao Ren...

As we were about to leave, I was looking for my name in the namelist, which I of course did not understand. I looked for my phone number instead and signed. As we went on the bus, we had ice breaking and games in Chinese. I did not understand so it was funny actually. We had to introduce ourselves and when my turn came up, I said, “Dui bu qi, wo bu hui chiang hua yi.” That means, im sorry, I cannot speak Chinese. Sorry if I typed the Chinese words wrongly. Anyway, they told me to introduce myself in English, but I told them that I want to try it in Chinese. So then I said, “Wo de ming shi Andrian. Faculty shi FSKPM, program SK.” It means my name is Andrian, faculty is FSKPM and program is SK.

We also played a game in Chinese but I forgot how it went so I cannot describe it. The journey from our 
university to Mount Gading took about 2 hours so for the rest of the journey, I was listening to the music in Carmen’s phone, as she was listening to mine. She’s a good singer and plays the guitar well.
As we reached the main entrance, we got off and quickly started snapping photos. I was busy trying to get internet connection to check into Foursquare. I use it only when I arrive at some grand place or a new place.

We soon began our hike, sweeping through lots of flora and fauna. It is said that the Raflessia, the largest flower in the world, blooms here. Throughout the journey, we did see one of it, but it was black in colour, not red. Perhaps it was dying because they have a very short lifespan, of about 5 days if im not mistaken. You will be very lucky if you are able to see a fully bloom Raflessia in red.

We hiked up for quite a while to reach waterfall No.3. I think it wasn’t a major waterfall as compared to Waterfall No.7 which is at a higher altitude and we were supposed to go there, but we did not have enough time. We were able to take lots of photos and play in the shallow water for a period of time. We soon headed back to the entrance to have our barbecue lunch.

Sematan Palm Beach Resort was our next destination. It took about half an hour to get there. When we arrived, we were so happy to see the beach, its fine soft sand and big waves from the South China Sea. We quickly put our things down and ran into the water. We played a lot, and really a lot, as if the wave was our enemy, we kept making human barricades to fight the waves. It was such a great time.

After much playing, me and Carmen decided to get off shore to have a good cup of coffee at the café nearby. She’s also a coffee junkie like me. We had a great chat about our dreams and interest, including coffee and alcoholic drinks. It was good to have a great companion at a café drinking coffee beside the beach. It’s something that I haven’t done in a long long time.

We spent an adequate amount of time chatting and then we left to go for dinner at Bukit Mata Seafood. The food there was quite good. We had tofu, broccoli, mixed vegetables, butter prawns, chicken and seaweed soup. My friend Xinh Guan had 5 bowls of rice. He aint that big but he swallowed them all up.

It was a great day trip, which I was just informed 2 days ago. I am still hanging on to the words, do not regret what you did, but regret the things you never did. I still don’t know who came up with that quote, but Im still living it. Gonna keep travelling around whenever I can.

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Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Cognitive Science Orientation

I'll be honest, I mean of course I have to be honest, because what I view shouldn't be manipulated just to be nice or whatever in that case. Just saying.

For the whole week before orientation, I dreaded it because we, cognitive science students, had a lot of assignments to do and I usually revise my studies every night. However, for the whole week, it was all about preparing for orientation or doing assignments. Every night was busy. 3 nights were used to plan my groups performance and 1 night which was excepted was used to attend debate weekly meetings which are usually on Wednesdays. The orientation was from Friday to Sunday and we were only able to fully practice on Thursday.

I'll be honest, I did skip a lecture because of my orientation preparation. As a group leader, I had to at least have a plan in mind, in terms for my group performance. I wasn't feeling that well too anyway. My group was given the task to do a dance performance about Puteri Santubong. It was a traditional song and it was too slow for me. Thank God for its hip hop version by M.I.X., we used their song to have a hip hop part that I thought may make our performance unique. The great challenge was to plan a choreograph for the dance. I have no dance experience besides 3 classes of hip hop at Urban Groove and taking videos of other dancers. On Thursday, I skipped one lecture, which I'm glad I did because I was able to plan a 40 second choreograph in 3 hours, had dinner then spent another 4 hours teaching my team mates the moves. Skipping that one lecture also gave me a breather and helped me get myself back together. The stress of time constraint with assignments and pre-orientation plans was very heavy.

I think I wasn't the only one who dreaded orientation. Many others also complained about it taking too much time or being a waste of time. There were also some who screwed up their presentation last Monday, mostly because of orientation. It was tiring for them and though u might say that a group who knows that they suppose to present on a specific date should be ready early, its about the timing that was very tiring. Even one of my lecturers complained that the orientation was too long and made the students tired. He was upset that he wasn't given the chance to voice out his opinion about the timing.

Anyway throughout the orientation, I kept asking myself, "what am I doing here?" I kept asking myself that because there are so much to do compared to the activities done there. The highlight of the event was to spend time with seniors to ask questions and get ourselves straight. They were focusing on us as a faculty being a family. I have nothing wrong with that but its more of the timing thats a problem. Second, its hard to get everyone to ask seniors questions at a specific time because questions usually arise when there are problems, which will come throughout our whole semester. We already have the mentor mentee and family system, it will be wise to ask for help only when a problem arises. At the orientation, I had nothing to ask and I just listened to what the seniors do in class.

Well for now I only can answer my question by saying that I attended the orientation just to dance. I never performed a dance before and our performance during orientation was a whole new experience for me. Furthermore, my group won 2nd place for the performance that night. Well at least I know that my efforts paid off, but it was also because of the dedication and the cooperation and ability of my team members which brought my group to such victory. My group won the overall prize for the orientation. Quite surprising, but I'm sure my group members deserved it.

So, I still think I went for orientation to dance, play with lanterns for the mooncake festival and enjoy the beach. But there always a story behind every action. The orientation did make an impact to me and the other students. The games and activities held has brought us closer than before. I did have my share of fun. Mr Hafiz speeches always made good sense and it was very rational. They always emphasize that we can never work on our own to gain success. We always need to depend on each other to reach our goals. Orientation has allowed me to know my friends better, make new friends and gain more experience for instance, the dance. Mainly, it also made me be able to take on the challenge of a university student, to be able to overcome any situation and still remain standing. More photos here.

All in all, orientation wasn't bad after all. :)

Oh and I would like to take this chance to wish my course mate, Elvis Yoon, a Happy Birthday :) We celebrated his birthday in one of our universities higher class cafes. We bought a brownie cake for him and we all had a great lunch together :)

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