"We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open." ~ Jawaharal Nehru

Friday, November 30, 2012

I'm a child of the Katibas

I'm a child of the Katibas. 

There are no school buses here, only boats...

To get to school, I have to either walk 2-4 hours from my home, a rumah panjang up river or ask Apai to send me in our perahu. If Apai sends me by perahu, it will only take 25 minutes. However, every journey I make to school, my life is put at risk. I have to leave home in the dark to make sure I get to school on time. Most of the time I hold a torch, to look for logs and other floatsam while Apai steers our perahu. When it rains, the Katibas swells and the ride gets scary. Some days I have to help Apai bail water out with a Milo tin. Then... there are all those buayas. Apai has shown me the eyes of buayas peeking from the surface of the murky Katibas. They send shivers down my spine... Apai even told me there are buayas large enough to swallow an adult whole! I hope never to see them. 

There are also days when I can't go to school. When the weather is bad and Apai can't go into the jungle to hunt or collect produce, fuel for our perahu becomes a luxury. So I stay home till we manage to get fuel.

That's my school's boat

Sometimes, I think it's better for me to stop school and help Apai and Inai. I bet even helping to look after my brothers and sisters will ease those worry lines from Inai's face. But then Apai says I need to study hard so I can become an orang terpelajar and help my village.

So with a heavy heart, I packed a little bag with the few t-shirts I have, the pretty pink dress I always wear for Gawai and head to a place I will call home for the next 6 years.

My school

There's a huge field for us to play, but we share it with another school

Teacher stays here in the school too

I live in a dorm with my friends. Boys stay in the Asrama Putera and girls stay in the Asrama Puteri. I like it that way... the naughty boys don't get to disturb or tease us.

A serious game of chess in the Boys Dorm

Chillaxing in the Girls Dorm

My friends and I

I sleep next to my best friend in the dorm. She sits next to me in class too. I like it cause we still get to talk (in a whisper) to each other when teacher turns the lights off at night. We get a little locker to keep our belongings. It suffices, as I do not have much. My cutlery is kept in a little shelf by the door so it's easy for me to grab it as I make my way down to the dewan makan or mess for meals.

Guess which is mine?

We get 5 meals a day. That's more than what I get at home. However, it gets boring sometimes cause the menu is repeated every week. I look forward to celebrations, cause we then get something special. Sometimes, kind people hold programmes in our school and give us a treat! I've heard of KFC but have never had it. Is it good? I've only had Marybrown friend chicken once.

Our menu

All smiles with a treat!

What do I do when I'm free?

First I have to do my laundry. There are no machines to help us wash our clothes here. I think only 1 teacher has it in her house.

Hope it doesn't rain

Then I have to make sure I get all my homework done. After that, teacher allows us to play. Usually its Saidina, congkak or snakes & ladders.

Playtime - my favourite!

I also play with the school cat. Don't tell teacher... I sometimes smuggle leftover food for her from the mess.

Cute, right?

My school isn't new. We do need new classrooms and furniture to replace the old and broken ones. We try to make the classrooms cheery by putting up pretty posters and floral curtains.

My classroom

So if you ever have a chance to come up the Katibas, come say hello. My friends and I would really love it! We also get to practice our English.

Come say Hi!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Of tams & magician capes...

Apologize for the lack of updates. Its been a busy 1 month or so for me. I made about 2 trips back home to Seremban... and for your information, it takes me 9-11 hours door to door from Song to Seremban. And thats with minimal transit time! Bukan senang tau? Kena naik bot, taxi dan belon! With that amount of time spent on the road, I could be sipping a cup of Earl Gray by the river Thames, with my eye on the Big Ben!

Anyway, I digress. The first trip back was for convocation. How could I not miss convocation? Dad told me to save the $$$ spent to come back home and instead go for a good holiday cause it was my 4th convocation ceremony (2nd for the year!) and it would be nothing new to me. Instead, I told him I would not miss it for the world. Why???

1. Ever since my first convo in UPM (when it was still Universiti Pertanian Malaysia), I have always wanted to wear a tam. What??? A TAM. For your info, a tam's the round, slouchy hat you get to wear instead of the square mortarboard. Kononnya, will feel more perasan in it! I also discovered that UKM is the only local university that allows its Master of Medicine grads to wear one instead of the usual mortarboard. Ya, God knows the desires of my heart so it wasn't just tikam-tikam that I selected UKM as my uni choice instead of the other more prestigious unis.

2. 4 years of BLOOD (more of the mau muntah darah type), SWEAT (hyperhydrosis of exams, running around red tape & chasing certain government officers) and TEARS (frustration, disappointment & despair) and give up my 8 seconds of FAME & GLORY, basking under the spotlights of the Great Hall & smiling at royalty? No way Jose. An extra RM135 to attend the ceremony is a small price to pay after taking into account what I had to endure and sacrifice in those 4 years. My SANITY included!

3. Parents. In a way, this was a tribute to them. For their unceasing love, prayers & support. I am what I am today because of your inpoyring into my life. I recall Dad asking me why I subjected myself to all this academic torture when he knew I was happy with my simple lifestyle and career path in Slim River, Perak. I remember telling him I was made for more. I wanted to be better, be someone, do something with my life. His answer was simple - "All this is I, I, I! Are you doing this for God or for man? Is this God's will for your life?". Despite going into the Masters programme for my own selfish reasons, I am beginning to see God's marvelous plans unfolding in my life. Especially where I am today. I was especially touched during the convocation ceremony where we were made to bow towards the parents in the stands. It was a literal act of acknowledgement and gratitude.

So ya, back to convocation. Drove up with the folks to UKM's main campus in Bangi 2 days before the actual date to collect my robe and tam. Was really surprised the whole process only took 10 minutes. Thank you officers for your efficiency & making the whole process painless.   

Then the 'kiasu' in me decided that I should just go and take photos around the Great Hall and campus instead of having to fight with the hundred of others on the actual day itself. Only slack was that I was in jeans, t-shirt & sneakers but hey, what the heck!     

The Dewan Canselor Tun Abdul Razak

The great hall - still empty!

After that, dad wanted to have a look at the UKM golf club. So we took a drive there to look-see and have lunch. Must say, the Western is pretty good there and not to mention, affordable. I had lamb chops, Papi had the grilled chicken chop, mum the fish and chips (as expected!)

My yummy nom nom

The actual day itself was... YAWN. Had to wake up early and drove from Seremban to Bangi. Got misdirected by lots of directionally challenged security guards to the respective entrances and in the process argued with them. Listened to lots of boring speeches. Almost got blinded by rapid fire camera flashes. Listened to the band play the same melody over and over gain. Waited for hundreds of others to collect their scrolls before my actual turn.8 seconds of fame and.... IT WAS OVER! Seemed surreal, the whole day.

The UKM mace followed by the Pro-Canselor UKM, Tunku Naquiyuddin

If you asked me if I would go for it again... the whole rigmarole of exams, academic life, stress?
Without skipping a heartbeat my answer would be... YES!   

I decided that if I do write a medical textbook,
this will be the pic on the back cover!
Hehehe ; )

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Striking black gold!

Posting this from Miri, Sarawak's second largest city!
Am here for gazzement. Am being evaluated by Dr M, my supervisor a little earlier than usual cause she's transferring back to Terengganu soon. 

Sibu has its swans, Miri has its seahorses!

Surprised at how modern Miri was, with its assortment of malls (inc a Parkson), hotels and international restaurants. Must be due to the oil & gas industry. They do see a sizable amount of expats here, plus a fair bit of tourist thanks to nearby Mulu, Niah caves & Lambir Hills.

Miri city from Canada Hill
Love a city that has it all - hills & the SEA!

However, got con by a taxi guy. Was going to Klinik Kesihatan Bandar Miri for work. Asked the concierge at the hotel where I was staying whether the clinic would be walkable (checked on Google maps, it was supposed to be at the end of the block) and she told me it was kindda far and it would take 10-15 mins by car. Since I wasn't familiar with the place, got into a taxi and the guy drove me around for 10 mins before arriving at the clinic. Got charged RM15 for the ride. At this point, it didn't occur to me I got fleeced. One of the staff then asked me where I was staying and when I told her the hotel name, she looked at me in disbelieve when I told her I had to pay that much taxi fare! Aiyoh... doktor kena con-lah!

Klinik Kesihatan Bandar Miri is located right smack in the heart of the city but is hidden in a little nook, thus making it not noticeable from the main road. The only give-away is the cars parked haphazardly and the little old ladies walking around that area with umbrellas as their walking sticks! As the main government clinic for Miri, this place is rather tight and squeezy. Being one of the older clinics, it wasn't meant to cater for the current patient load. Poor patients even have to wait in the parking lot! Saw a couple of patients from the Baram region. Fascinated by the Kayan women and their glove like tattoos and long ears. Hope to find the time to someday visit Long Lama and the upper Baram region.

Josephine, my assistant was kind enough to bring me up Canada Hill after work one day. 

Miri's Grand Old Lady

Right on top sits the Grand Old Lady, watching over Miri. The Grand Old Lady was Miri's first oil well. She was commissioned in 1910, and at her peak was producing 83 barrels of oil per day. By 1972, she was down to 3 barrels and was thus decommissioned.

Now, she's a tourist attraction. There are panoramas around her regaling Miri's rise in the petroleum industry. Theres also a viewing platform and petroleum museum which sadly was closed when I was there.

Part of the pump system

Couldn't cut it in oil & gas.
I should just stick with my job, ya?

After Canada Hill, Josephine drove me to the beach in Lutong to view the sunset. Pretty spectacular but first place still goes to Sabah!

Thanks Kak Josephine for the tour of Miri