Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Jittery times ahead..opinions from a casual analyst

The US sneezes and the whole world catches a cold. That’s an old saying about how big and influential a single super-power can be. The recent collapse of the US financial and investment banks raised many issues on how loans and investments should be managed and regulated as the world markets scrambled to limit the damage. The recent rejection of the US $700 billion bail-out by the US Congress pushed the crisis to hitherto unknown territory as the entire world await the latest updates with bated breath. There are many reasons for the rejection of the rescue package but on the whole, the general public is worried of the impending biggest governmental intervention in the free market since the Depression era (circa 1930s).

All this while, outsiders like you and me comprise the audience waiting for the newsmaker to reveal more as some big-timers hit rock-bottom in the stock and money market. Some people may develop depression, suicidal tendencies and anxiety disorder while others pack up and run away to start a new life. Ironically, the rich gets richer as those loaded with cash will gobble up one asset after another. As the commodity prices continue to plunge, a lot of people are putting their savings in ‘stable’ investments such as gold, real estate as currency begins to lose its value. It’s in times such as this that we begin to understand what is most important and crucial in our lives…our loved ones.

On the local front, an infamous act has been used on a single dark day in our history as a girl who is just doing her work was arrested for her own ‘safety’ while 2 others were detained for ‘seditious and malicious wrongdoings’. Many nations around the world wonder why we are still using a 1960s act formed during the Emergency era to arrest and incarcerate people without giving them the rights to fair trial in court. Is this democracy in action? Of course both the ladies have been released but there is still another famous personality languishing behind bars.

At the same time, someone is crusading to form a new government without calling for fresh elections. Is this really democracy as well? Of course we want to give politicians the benefit of doubt but the yo-yo of press conferences, delayed deadlines, jumping boats, open public threats and so on triggered another fresh round of political instability. The entire world, amused and tickled, watches the masquerade unfolding before them.

Sometimes we have to choose the lesser of two evils and after the decision has been made, we just pray and hope for the best to unfold. What normal citizens hope for is a stable, fair and strong government, one that is free from corruption and injustice with good security, low crime rates, guaranteed freedom, dynamic economy and respect for human rights. Of course I am neither a lawyer or an economist and so you could completely ignore what I just said and go to bed forgetting all about this article.

Or we should all buckle our belts and prepare for jittery times ahead?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Rounding up the tree-lovers

I'm not fussy when it comes to travelling and visiting new places as there are plenty of lovely places filled with natural wonders in Malaysia and our neighbouring countries. After being hooked to hunting for waterfalls lately, I think I'll turn to hiking to more mountain peaks and taking lots of pictures along the way. But still, i want to get out of this country at least once this year and was planning something for the past 1 month.

Initially, I have a deep worry when it comes to visiting our northern neighbour, Thailand. This so-called unfounded phobia came from the fact that I developed severe gastro-enteritis at Bangkok and vomited/purged all the way on the flight back from a visit there, more than 10 years ago. I was so dehydrated that I almost didn't make it past the Malaysian immigration. Therefore I had this impression that I'll get very ill if I visit that country again.

However, after a short trip to Vietnam last year, I discovered that travel to Indochina countries are actually very fun and affordable. This truly enjoyable trip (backpacking style) taught me a lesson that I shouldn't judge anything based on one adverse experience.

In short, I'll be travelling up north again and looking forward to partying with my friends on the beaches of southern Thailand soon. I'm giving Thailand another chance :-)...Hopefully, my gang is not going to desert me for other plans this time around as we are planning to paint the idyllic towns red! Hooray...

In the meantime, looking forward to more hiking and climbing experience in the national parks in our country!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Eating one meal a day

Some people say that Malaysians eat one meal a day..that’s because our one meal lasts for an entire day! A lot of foreigners were amazed by the sheer amount of eateries, cafes, mamak stalls, restaurants, deli and so on in any of our cities. Recently, a Japanese girl who was visiting my friend in Teluk Intan was pretty impressed with the good, cheap food at the Ramadan Bazaar here.

I was running around town (KL) sampling very good food too and there are a few photos of some of the places I’ve been. The Empress cafĂ© in the Curve has pretty nice atmosphere and I loved the wall-to-wall mirrors. The apartment in KLCC also has a very nice ambience but the food is kinda mediocre.

Of course there are plenty of other places I want to talk about but I think by my next post, I’ll talk about DC instead since I will still be here for some time until more news trickle down from the state health office. Sigh…

In the meantime, looking forward to the good food at the open houses during Raya next week. I've never spent Hari Raya in a kampung before and since I'll be in D.C, I'm sure that I'll enjoy the festivities :-)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Preview of More Daytrips to come

I'm posting this article just for the sake of the pictures.

Went to a waterfall a few days ago and it was so effortless to get to the top.

I'm sure that I'll be going again. In fact, this place is at my old kampung, Chenderiang.

And I'll shoot a lot more pictures the next time coz I wanna explore this sleepy, almost-abandoned little town that brought back plenty of childhood memories for me.

With thanks to Michelle, Pui San, Su Huey and Edward, it was a peaceful, low-intensity and happy outing with delicious food at Kampar.

More tales ahead from my little escapades in many beautiful spots in and around Diamond Cove...

Snippets from the hospital hallways

“A few days ago, a young girl under the age of 18 year old lost massive amount of blood during an illicit rendezvous with a man in his twenties. She was brought into the hospital very pale and still bleeding. The gynaecology team was called in for repair works while police officers waited to take statements from the doctors and the persons involved.”

“A few weeks ago, a very young boy under the age of 15 year-old trembled as he described how he was sodomized by a man within some bushes, in the broad daylight. The perpetrator was not wearing any form of protection and his virus status was unknown.”

“A few months ago, a dead baby wrapped in a sarong was brought into the mortuary for post-mortem. There were strangle marks on its’ neck as a long umbilical cord was still attached to it.”

These are just some of the real-life crimes happening in a small town. Some down-to-earth, kisah benar that will never make it into mainstream papers as it occurred to normal people in a small town. Some people may feel nauseated by these descriptions while others hungrily read on for more gory tales. Most will feel quiet indignation and anger at the depths of wickedness and cruelty that can occur in a peace-loving, gentle society.

To health-care professionals, we have no right to judge when people come to seek our help. Our creed and professional code of conduct compels us to treat whoever that comes knocking for help. Although our hearts may cry out at the injustice and malignant wrongdoings, we can only administer whatever the best medicine could offer. We couldn’t take justice into our own hands or assume that someone is guilty until proven otherwise. We soothe the broken-hearted, cheer up the depressed, calm the anger and alleviate the pain. That’s all we could do in our workplace.

However, with the advent of technology, a lot of things can be changed. Prevention is more important than cure. We must always rise up the alarms whenever there are suspected criminals or dangers in our midst. Civic-consciousness is missing in our society sometimes. Children must be taught to beware of certain warning signs, especially in strangers as they are frequently the victims of these sensational crimes. So I penned these paragraphs as a reminder that security is always an important issue and knowledge is power. Ignorance is no longer bliss.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Destination : Unknown

In the beginning of this month, I was certain that I won’t be in this country by this time next year. The destination? Unknown. The duration? Indefinite.

I guess I’ll just be another figure to the Malaysian government, a small contribution to the brain drain that this country is facing.Yet I’ve come to this point with a lot of thoughts, prayers and consultations with many people who influences my decisions in life.

My short 3-4 years of service to the health of Malaysians has been formative, eventful and to me as a person, fruitful and bittersweet. As I began the plans to formally leave this country, I seek to review the past 20 plus years of my life here and slowly, I know that if I were to aim for greatness, I shall no longer partake of the grass on this side of the fence.

There were previously many factors holding me back and now, there are almost none. Through my many solitary hours in this little quiet town, I reflected on what held me back and through these sessions, I saw a new light at the end of the tunnel and the light is pointing southward. Many people I met seem to encourage me towards this direction and when I pray, I have this inner assurance and peace that I shall go wherever He leads.

This restoration of direction, willpower, determination and hope comes after a period of brokenness and humility. Deliverance arrives and hope is no longer deferred. The way I live shall be transformed and moulded into more like what the Lord has intended it to be.

Why this breakthrough? This new chapter unfolded after a day of DEW ministry in which I forgave many and received much forgiveness too. Inner healing restored overflowing joy, peace, love purity, wholesomeness and courage that I was set free to achieve my true potential in life, totally unshackled and thoroughly humbled by the entire fruitful experience.

So how about now? My destination was revealed and the duration determined as I looked forward to the best that is yet to come.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Calling all nature lovers Part 2

The saga continues...

Tossing and turning in the sleeping bag under the dark starry night with still, warm tropical air all around you was one of my biggest challenges during my first-ever camping experience. I admit that I do feel a teeny-wheeny bit of envy as I see many people armed with air mattresses, electrical fans, etc et al. Some purists might heap on the scorns when they see those amenities but I was wishing and praying like mad that an insomniac like me could fall asleep with the most rudimentary sleeping gear. I guess being slightly tired helps but it was a dreamless sleep as I woke up early the next morning after overcoming the snoring symphony.

I emerged out of my camp to join the breakfast crowd as we planned our hike for the day. The entire entourage was to stampede, uh, i mean, trek to Takah Tinggi, the biggest waterfall in the area which was about 4 km away. I was in a much better shape than the day before as I was no longer sedated and was very eager to go. We walked along the 'road' before going into the jungle proper for a good, leisurely hike along the serene path with many wooden or cable bridges along the way. Some of the photobugs stopped periodically to snap picture of the mushrooms, flowers, leaves, etc while other trudged on. I couldn't indulge in my photo-taking mode due to my limited batteries. Sigh..I should be better prepared...serve me right!

The moment we arrived at the amazingly huge fall with a big pool, I was mesmerized by the rocks formation in the centre of the fall. I clambered over the rocks quickly to catch the direct view of the cascades. Then, thud and plop! The cilipadi had just become a wet vegetable as I slipped and fell into the cold water in my full climbing gear. As I emerged unhurt and very much refreshed, there was laughters all round as everyone is amused by someone who reportedly has a good sense of balance from rollerblading but was the first person to fall in. Haha...

Caught a lot of insects in action..including butterflies sticking to the salt/mineral areas near the fall and some fauna (forgotten the phyllum) sucking blood from people, including yours truly's gluteus maximus. Yup, i nearly got a naughty leech up my posterior end but manage to catch it in time. Yucks rite? But alls' well that ends well :-)

After that, it was all fun in the cold, slightly greenish and totally chlorine-free water as we frolicked under the warm sunlight. The joyful morning passed by very quickly as we emerged from the swim to partake in a fish-roe/avocado/cheese dip crackers courtesy of the multitalented,kind and nice Rose. Nice picnic indeed.

The hike back to camp was uneventful and quick as we saw rain approaching. Wanted to do river-tubing but it was raining and so we chilled out under the trees on hammocks and chatted while preparing another big dinner. Dinner was one long, delicious affair that was better than a lot of my regular meals in D.C. Of course, the last night won't be complete without some Chinese tea (!), classy wine, zesty tequila and brandy huh? Conversations flowed by easily as we enjoyed the cool, post-rain night on little stools courtesy of Mr Wong and gang.

Alas, it was time to sleep and then wake up the last day for the drive back to KL. Kudos to Kaynis for the excellent organization and I really enjoyed the entire trip. It was also brilliant getting to know and spending time with all the people, esp my car-mates (Su Yin, my sis and Rose). Looking forward to the next trip yeah?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Calling all nature lovers day 1

The great outdoors beckon all those who are keen to explore the wonders of nature and of course, I couldn’t resist the calling as I succumbed to an invitation to visit a national park in Johor in late August.

Firstly, let’s just be reminded that although I seem quite extrovert to many people, I’m new to the world of running, hiking and climbing. After being motivated by someone close to me earlier in the year, I decided to take up the challenge and activated my life. By gosh, I am thankful for the idea and motivation as I developed a deep passion for outdoor activities, especially hiking.

So, when I went on my first camping trip ever (I know I am a bit retarded in that sense…in my twenties and have not even camped before, sad case), I was very enthusiastic and excited. As I packed with my sister, I realized that I’m not very equipped and totally clueless about a lot of things. The only thing that I had plenty around me were medicine I took from the hospital :-P

I was impressed as I climbed in Kilo Nov Sierra’s Prado cruiser and see the amount of gadgets inside a civillian’s car. The HAM radio was the most captivating equipment as I noticed how KNS and the other drivers seem to have a lot of fun with it. The only bummer was that we had to wake up at 4-5 am to meet up at rendezvous point.

After our ‘school-principal’ took attendance, we rumbled along the PLUS highway happily to the Yong Peng toll to meet up with the entire convoy of 4-wheel drives. I have to admit that the congregation of 12 gargantuan cars must be quite eventful for such a small town but knowing that this is the gate-way to Endau-Rompin National Park, the citizens must be quite used to big cars and convoys by now.

The rest of the day flew by very fast as I took two types of medicine for motion sickness and ended up sedating myself during the bumpiest drive of my life. Of course I didn’t feel like vomiting but the side effect was that I was so sleepy that when we started the first hike, I was literally sleep-walking.

Thus, I huffed and puffed all the way to the first two waterfalls, Takah Berangin and Takah Pandan. It was a well-deserved trek as we plunged ourselves in the icy-cold water…brrr and I woke up properly for the first time that day. Sigh..

The way back was a huge rush as we tried to reach camp ground zero before the fast-approaching night-fall. We’re all not prepared for hiking in the dark and thus I was a bit anxious about the journey back. I was hugely-relieved as we caught a glimpse of the vehicle trail which marked the end of the jungle trek. The rest of the night was a blur as we quickly cooked a not-so-halal dinner and got to know one another over the scrumptious meal.

So watch out for Day 2 as the narration continues….

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Halcyon Days in August

I don’t have that many days free for gallivanting. In fact, I take my weekends off-work as God-given days to freely unleash this thirst and crave for adventure and fun escapades. I think I do make it a point to make full use of my little Myvi to traverse the length and breath of this great nation filled with many beautiful,scenic places.

A few weekends ago, I was given the opportunity to stay in Shangri-la KL for a few days (the excuse was to present my poster a scientific conference which I diligently attended ok…). I had a big, comfy room all to myself and invited a few close buddies to have slumber party there. It was great to be situated right above the clubbing hub and directly facing the bright lights of KLCC and its surrounding high-rise towers each night.

After wandering around the familiar roads around the Golden Triangle ( I grew up on Jalan Tengah and thus it was practically my neighbourhood), I really marveled at the total metamorphosis of the entire area. I could hardly recognize this place after 10 years of leaving my dear old alma mater. Exploring the streets and alleys of this ‘golden’ mile reminded me of my childhood days and how simple life used to be…nostalgic ler..

Anyway, we also managed to see some of the watering holes at Asian Heritage Row and enjoy the ambience there while people-watching. It was an interesting change from life in TI but I don’t think I can do those late nights that frequent anymore. After all, my job is kinda time-consuming and I’m too much of a nature and sports-related person now.

Of course I had no choice but to do the Shape-Men’s Health run with my buddy, Pui San. She is an avid runner who cajoled and motivated me to go for this run despite my lack of beauty sleep. I was practically sleep-running through the entire route! I was indeed grateful to finish the race in reasonable time (which I am not that proud of). I surmised that the best thing is not to allow myself to go into sleep-deprivation before a big run. In the meantime, I vow to prepare myself better in having a proper training plan, attire, etc..in order to run faster and stronger in the next race!

The following weekend was even more action-packed as we (my sis and I) traveled all the way to Yong Peng to head for Selai, the gateway to Endau-Rompin National Park in Johor. So, watch this space for my made-in-Malaysia odyssey into the heart of the tropical rainforest and my first camping experience :-)