Aria is back!

After one month apart from my baby, Aria (yes, Aria is my handphone), I’m so glad to have it back again. When it fell out of my pocket, I heard it hit the bricks on the ground. I picked it up and saw cracks on the screen. At that moment, I wished I could turn back time but life doesn’t work that way. Although I felt sad about it, I remember the saying ‘you can’t change what has already happened so don’t waste your time thinking about it. MOVE ON, LET GO & GET OVER IT! After doing some research and making some phone calls, I decided to fix it. It cost me RM433 to change the touch screen. Not cheap but still cheaper than buying a new one. I’m grateful that it came back to me looking and functioning just as good as new! I had missed Aria as it took me some time until I became familiar to a basic phone. No sliding my fingers around the screen, tapping on the letters but buttons instead. It’s just awesome to have Aria back in my life! ūüėÄ

The Loss

I have been away so much lately from the island. Out of one month period from mid of September until mid of October, I was away for about 18 days. The last trip was to Ipoh to visit Andi, who was an intern with us until July. She came back to work at Ulu Muda, Kedah. I knew from Pavin that she would drop by Bukit Kinding Resort for about a week before heading off to work. I decided to give her a surprise visit. Together with Nathalie, we were off to Ipoh for 3 days. We couldn’t stay any longer as we all had planned to celebrate Cam’s birthday back at Perhentian.

We probably arrived four hours later than her at the resort. It was nice to see Andi again. She has slimmed down. Throughout my whole time there, I got to know more of the other FUZE staff. Pavin was as usual busy at work. Most of the time, it was his guys that kept us entertained. They were a bunch of fun-loving, sporting and cheerful outdoor guys, who brought us to the waterfalls, bought us food, etc.

I became close with Sharithan on our last night out. We first went to a bar and continued the night in a club after the bar closed. Pavin couldn’t join us so only his guys were there with us. Sharithan jokingly said we should couple up as it was a gay club. Automatically, Andi was with Agilan and I was stuck with Sharithan. Everyone was just having fun, dancing the night off on the dance floor. We left after 3am, sitting at the back of the 4-wheel-drive until Bukit Kinding.¬†I didn’t say goodbye to him when I left, assuming that he would join us for dinner, together with Pavin. In the end, they didn’t show up.

Today I received a phone call saying that he passed away yesterday. Still in shock and disbelief, I couldn’t concentrate at work at all. The hangover from Cam’s birthday’s celebration yesterday is definitely not helping. Although I know he is a tough guy, my first reaction was to call Pavin to see whether or not he was alright. As for myself, I wanted to just escape from reality. A way to do that is to sleep because it takes me off the real world. That was what I had been doing the whole day, pretty much.

I gathered pieces of information about his accident at the waterfall from Michael and Andi. Apparently they went kayaking and he fell into the rapids. After seconds, he didn’t come up to the surface, the rest of the team started going in to get him out. His head was underwater and it seemed like he was stuck underwater among the rocks. None of them could dive long enough to figure out what actually kept him underwater as the water was flowing very fast and it was raining. The rescue team found his body this morning and he was already dead, covered in blood. I couldn’t help thinking that if I had prolonged my stay there, I definitely would be kayaking with them as well.

I can’t say I’m close to him but tears just started pouring down my cheeks. I remember one his last sentences ‘Seh Ling, when I come to Perhentian, you’re gonna be my girlfriend at Long Beach, just like yesterday in the club!’ And now he’s gone. It seems surreal, like a dream. Mum said it’s fated, when your time is up, it’s up. I can moan for his loss and feel sad about it but life still goes on. RIP Sharithan, you’ll always be in my heart!

Miss you already, Sharithan!

In Love

I didn’t know I would miss the sea until I left the island for a vacation to Sabah. Sabah has many popular islands too but didn’t make a visit to any. Gabi and Marianne were already at Perhentian Island for 10 days, I thought they would rather go somewhere else. The whole trip was mainly in tropical forests, by the rivers or in the city.

It felt weird in the beginning not to hear the sound of waves. However, I eventually got used to the sound of chirping birds and frogs. The urge to dip into the swimming pool was strong when I arrived at Sepilok Jungle Resort but the pool was already closed. Two nights there and I didn’t have the opportunity to use the pool. The accommodation I stayed in after that didn’t have a pool. We were at Kintabatangan River but no swimming due to the presence of crocodiles.

When I got back to Perhentian, I was so eager to go into the sea. We brought the kids to Tiga Ruang for Eco-Snorkel Club! Gosh, I could not explain the feeling of being back in the sea! The weather was bad, it rained a bit and the water wasn’t clear but I still enjoyed the dip. After sending the kids back, we went to Teluk KK for another swim. It started raining heavily. It felt warm in the water while the rain drops hit hard on my head.

Today we had a snorkel tour in the morning! We stopped first at Turtle Beach. It was quite choppy and I didn’t really have the opportunity to snorkel as I had to attend to a new volunteer who probably tried snorkelling for the first time. She had quite some difficulties with the mask and snorkel. However, a big clap for her for not giving up!

The second stop was at Turtle Bay, a site famous as turtle feeding ground. When we got there, there was so many tourist around. A few of us saw the turtle when it came up to the surface to take a breath. When I got into the sea, I couldn’t see the turtle anywhere. The visibility was quite bad.

The next stop was Teluk KK. Cam and I did a coral survey. Although the weather wasn’t sunny, the water was clear. It felt good to dive into the sea and swim around the corals and fish. We saw a triggerfish, a blue spotted ray resting under a coral, different types of anemonefish, damselfish, butterflyfish, etc. We left the coral charts back on the boat after surveying 24 corals. It was time to just enjoy the underwater. Rafi, our boatman, had to shout for us a few times to get us out of the water.

The last site at Shark Point was the best! There were times where I was the only one who saw a shark but I’m glad this time quite a few of us saw at least one and it was also a huge one! Lucky me, I saw one swam past four times. The first three times were probably the same shark but the last time was a really big one! The corals were amazingly beautiful! I so wished I had an underwater camera! Looking at the marine life, it’s not a wonder why the coral reefs are also known as the rainforest of the ocean!¬†In short,

I’m so in love with the ocean!¬†

Island life!

Two of Ecoteer’s past volunteers came back to Perhentian for holidays. I was supposed to meet them up at Long Beach to party on Saturday night but it rained so heavily that we had to call the night off. Luckily I had the Sunday off so we met up for lunch at Bubu Resort. The Penne Cabonara was delicious! I was also told that our favourite bar – Black Tip was burned down earlier that day. No more dance floor!

After lunch I went diving with Cam and Jason. We went to Turtle Beach (only imaginary turtles) and it was probably my least favourite dive site. Most of the corals are dead. However, I saw a massive Jenkin’s stingray lying on the sand, some lionfish, a few crown of thorns, tiny shrimps, fish…etc. It was quite a peaceful dive. Someone said diving is like meditating. I enjoy watching the marine life where fish swim around corals or chase after other fish.

We had dinner at Cocohut, expensive but worth every cent of it. The divers from Universal Diver had a party that night and we all joined them. Jason’s dream to be a DJ came true but eventually I grew tired of the sound of gun shots and siren! Everyone partied really hard! In my head I was thinking, holy shit, I had to wake up early the next day to catch the 8am boat to Kuala Besut. We left after 2am and I fell asleep the moment my head touched the pillow. Thank God, I managed to wake up but was feeling real tired the whole day! Nevertheless, it was a good Sunday! Thanks Universal Diver for hosting such a good party! We all also agreed that this pretty much sums up the day of a diver – dive, party and ‘talk’!

The interns – Jason and Cam

The volunteers – Regini, Shanice and Lilian

Charlotte, the manager and Steve, the instructor

Marek, my AOW instructor

Ali, the smiley instructor

All In One

śīĽŚąįŤÄĀԾƌ≠¶ŚąįŤÄĀ is a Chinese proverb that says you live until you are old and you learn until you are old.

It is my passion to explore and learn new things. It gives me a sense of fulfillment when I try something new and being able to achieve something is satisfying. The first week of August, we actually had 19 volunteers within a week who arrived and left on different days at different times of the day. Thank God Charmaine came and Jason was a great help. Of course I was lucky to have awesome volunteers too! I couldn’t imagine managing everything on my own. Even so, within that one week, I realised I could be the all-in-one person. It was no longer just multi-tasking but to have the ability to pretty much do everything. I was the …

MANAGER – delegate task and ensure everything runs smoothly, do logistical arrangement and liaise between staff, volunteers and locals.

ACCOUNTANT – record down all the expenses and update the account.

CHEF – buy and prepare ingredients, delegate task in the kitchen, cook and make sure that everyone has a good meal.

HOUSEKEEPER – clean the house, change bedsheet, do laundry and wash dishes.

GARDENER – water the plants, sweep the falling leaves, pull out weeds and loosen the soil.

PAINTER – buy news paints, paint a house, clean the brushes and trays.

ARTIST – do mural painting.

RECEPTIONIST – take care of enquiries, do wake-up calls, check-ins and check-outs, collect money and make phone calls.

RUBBISH COLLECTOR – do composting by going around the village with a wheelbarrow to collect food waste.

SNORKEL GUIDE – arrange for snorkel tour and make sure that everyone is safe and having a good time snorkelling

TOUR GUIDE – do village tour for volunteers, explain the history and landmarks in the village.

CONSTRUCTION LADY – scrape the old paint off a wall using an electronic grinder and carrying bricks or building materials.

TEACHER – organise three weekly school clubs and teach the kids.

ENTERTAINER – playing with the kids and social entertainment at Long Beach.

SHOPPER – do grocery shopping every Monday.

MEDICAL ASSISTANT – medical help for volunteers when they are sick or injured.

INTERPRETER Рmy main task is to interpret for the volunteers and locals to get the message across.

That was when I realised I actually could and really wish that I had the skills and experiences that I lack off, such as gardening, carpentry, wiring, etc. Whenever I self-improve, it gives satisfaction! I guess that’s life, as I age, my experiences grow, which explains why the elderly people always say:

śąĎŚźÉÁöĄÁõźśĮĒšĹ†ŚźÉÁöĄÁĪ≥Ś§ö which means I ate more salt than you eating rice! Salt is usually consumed in a small quantity so if you actually ate more salt than the other person eating rice, you have lived a longer time than him/her and definitely have more life experiences.

Although I have a lot to do at work here, I know the more I do, the more I learn. I just have to remember not to put everything on me and do it on my own but learn to trust and delegate tasks to others.

Review of year 2011

It is sometimes scary to know how fast time flies! Ever since I left in September 2010, I have been living abroad and by the time I fly back to Malaysia in January 2012, it will have been 16 months. 2011 has been a really rewarding year! I have learned, gained, achieved and travelled a lot.

JANUARY – I flew back to London after celebrating Christmas in Switzerland.¬†My friend, Suat Cheng, visited me at¬†Falmouth for a few days before I left for Kenya.¬†The 2-weeks Africa fieldtrip¬†was awesome! I have always wanted to visit Africa.¬†That trip¬†really felt like a childhood dream came¬†true. I slept in a tent, went on safari tour and boat trip, did wildlife¬†identification and cencus, tried local food, climbed Mount Kenya, amazed by the number of bright stars every night…etc. I was¬†really impressed¬†by the diversity of wildlife and friendly people in Kenya. I have met wonderful people and learned so much on human-wildlife conflict and management.¬†After a wonderful¬†two weeks under the sun, I was happy to be back to proper civilization in¬†England.

FEBRUARY –¬†It was a¬†very hectic month.¬†After¬†all the fun during Christmas and Africa fieldtrip, it was back to serious business. For a student, it meant more deadlines approaching for submission. I spent so¬†much time doing R assignment and¬†a poster for Kenya, as well as preparing for the one and only exam. I definitely remember watching many series too, couldn’t spend the whole time just doing assingments, would have¬†driven me crazy!

MARCH – It didn’t all end with the exam as directly after the exam, it was time to write a literature review and do a presentation for our dissertation project. It was a tough choice to decide on a topic. I did not get the choices I want but after discussing with Sarah, I had decided to do one of her desk study on banded mongoose. I started off knowing only the very basics but ended up understanding their behaviour well. The offside of a desk study was not having any lab or fieldwork as I spent all of my time analyzing a 15-years database on banded mongoose. I made it off by helping my other coursemates on their lab and fieldwork. I helped Diana¬†in the lab, experimenting the¬†mating preference¬†of beetles¬†from¬†different lines and¬†accompanied Kristy once on a bat survey around Penryn.¬†I¬†wanted to follow Deena on her bird survey but the timing was pretty bad as she always left at¬†4am.¬†I also applied¬†for a RA position with¬†the Sea Turtle Conservancy in Costa Rica and¬†had¬†an interview end of March.

APRIL – The good thing about studying in the UK is the term time is very short and there¬†are more holidays. Before I was ready, it was Easter break. I felt like I had so much analysis to do but I was looking forward for the trip to Germany! Anna had invited us months earlier to spend Easter over her place. Christie, Anna and I went to Germany together and it was a really relaxing and enjoyable month. Together with Anna’s Mum, Ulrike, we visited Bielefeld, Osnabrueck, Muenster…etc. Anna even drove us to Luxembourg to visit Sonia for a weekend and we celebrated Christie’s birthday there. Suat Cheng came over too, after her plan to Egypt was cancelled. We went to Berlin for a few days to visit Christopher. It was really nice to see him again after years. He was our guide around Berlin and I really had so much fun. Before the holidays ended, I received an email from STC that I was selected as one of the RAs. I was even more thrilled to find out that Carolyn got it as well!!!

MAY РI always bring my assignments or work on holidays but based on my past experience, I hardly spent my holidays doing the work. After I came back from Germany, I started doing serious data analysing on Microsoft Excel and Access. It took me longer than I expected as it was a huge dataset. To my surprise, my supervisor, Sarah had not given me the full data and all the analyses I did before was just a part of the whole dataset, thus I knew there would be more to come! However, I actually enjoyed doing it. I found it fulfilling to analyse the data and to discover a trend or test my hypothesis using the statistical software R. Besides, I had started working part time at Mayflower, a Chinese Take-Away. Jie was working there but she had exam in June and I wanted to earn some money so decided to work every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. Amy was pregnant at that time, thus they needed help in the take-away.

JUNE РMost of my time was spent in front of my laptop and working at the take-away. Occasionally I went out with my friends. All my undergraduate friends finished their exam and were excited for their summer holidays. I went down to London to apply for an entry visa for Costa Rica. It was really nice of Aunty Helen to allow me to stay at her place. It was not part of my plan to stay longer than intended but I could not get my visa immediately so I decided to stay a week and collect my passport myself. I had fun roaming around London and was lucky enough to meet a very nice lady from Korea. Debi came down and we spent a day in London. I went over to Oxford and stayed with Suat Cheng for the weekend. By end of June, most of my friends had gone back home for Christmas holidays. Luckily, Debi was still around the country and I could move in with her for a month after the contract ended in the beginning of July.

JULY – I moved out of Glasney Parc and moved into a house at Falmouth. I missed my room on the student accommodation as it was very cold in the house. I was living under the duvet everyday! Besides I spent most of my time, almost everyday, in the computer lab on campus as the thesis submission was on 29th of July. It was a crazy month. By that time, I had finished most of the analyses and was doing the write up. However, I was stuck on the results as I had problems using R to produce predicted graphs. I tried so many ways, googled for R graphs…etc. I had R module the last term but everything I learned was based on model question and answer, therefore no errors. However, using my own dataset, I often received error message for the output and it was a challenge to figure the solution out. After trials and errors, lots of editing and correcting, I finally finished the write up and felt pretty satisfied about it.

AUGUST – Once again, packing, packing and more packing. It was a busy week as I needed to settle everything before I flew off¬† for 3 months. I did some last minute shopping at Plymouth to buy some summer clothes. By the time I finished packing, I had three boxes of personal stuffs to be left behind, plus one box of duvet and pillows. I left Falmouth with a 21kg luggage and stayed over Darren’s place for two nights in London. Unfortunately, there was a riot in London so I stayed home the whole time and had to get a cab to the airport. The flight to Costa Rica was longer than I thought, assuming it would only take about 6 hours to reach (didn’t know what was in my mind). I transited in Amsterdam and Panama. San Jose was a busy city, some said dangerous in some places but I felt safe over there. It was really good to reach Tortuguero (turtles paradise) with the other RAs. The first two weeks was quite intense, had night patrol and morning survey everyday. However, everything was so much better than I had expected. Good to not have high expectations.

SEPTEMBER & OCTOBER¬†– I had accustomed myself to the weekly schedule. 5 night patrols and 3-4 morning surveys per week, plus 2-3 times cleaning the equipments. Occasionally I would have a shift to work in the visitor centre in the evening and I enjoyed talking with tourists. Sometimes we had volunteers over and it was fun working with them. I got close to all the RAs and it was sad when some of them started leaving. The whole 3 months there was really good. I had never seen so many turtles in my entire life before and I was really amused with the number of turtles that came ashore per night on Tortuguero Beach. It was a memorable experience, bitten by sand flies, mosquitoes and ants, hit by turtles, cut by tags, bumped into logs and sticks, walked¬†on the beach in the storm, ¬†using sign language while working with Spanish-speaking RAs, watched more-than-enough movies, walked to the small village for platanitos and ice cream with Duki alongside…etc.

NOVEMBER – 11 weeks seemed to be very long when I first came but before I realised, it was time to leave. It rained a lot and I was walking in the rain almost every night. There were less turtles as the season was slowing down but chances of seeing hatchlings increased. It was so touching to see a nest of hatchlings racing towards the sea on my last walk on the beach. I knew I would miss everything so much. After leaving Costa Rica, I went to Brazil for vacation! Rio was an amazing place to visit. I visited Kelly at Florianopolis and I had so much fun there. I wished I had stayed longer. I was really lucky to be offered a job as a Project Leader at Perhentian Island¬†from January 2012. I flew off to Switzerland immediately after I reached London to attend my host sister’s wedding and I stayed there for almost a month. Victoria came over and we¬†visited a few places with Gabi. It felt so good to be back in Switzerland as it is like my second home.

DECEMBER – My stay in Switzerland was cut short as I had to attend a TEFL course over a weekend in London. It was really kind of Victoria’s aunt to let me stay a few days over her place. I went back to Falmouth (finally) to pack my stuffs and to see my friends for the last time before I leave UK. Unfortunately, Anna and Christie already left but hopefully I will see them over Christmas and New Year holiday. It was really nice hanging out with Jie, Debi, Lasse, Sonia, Nisa, Santi and my coursemates. I also met my ex-boss and his family and it felt really good to have Chinese food again. My boss, Daniel, came over Falmouth and I feel lucky as he is really friendly and easy-going. I have interviewed a few applicants for the positions of Volunteer Coordinator and Construction Leader. Everyone is really good and sounded friendly over Skype. I believe this job will be a good start after my Masters. I really thank Daniel for this opportunity and I am excited to start soon! In the meantime, my parents are coming over in a few days time and we will travel around Europe before attending my graduation in January!

It has been a great year. I treasure all the friendships I have made. Thanks for being part of my life! My life is colourful because of all of you!  I hope that the new year will continue to be great!

The other side of R√ľmlang

This is another part of R√ľmlang that I had never been to. More than a year living here and it never occured to me to go to the other side of the railway station. The weather was quite nice on Saturday afternoon and my host dad, J√ľrg, suggested to go for a walk to the airport. R√ľmlang is situated very near to Z√ľrich Airport but I did not know it is within walking distance. It was a lovely walk across the countryside. We even stopped for a drink. Many photographers come here to take photos of the airports and aircrafts. Along the fence surrounding the airport, there were holes that allow photographers to put their camera with bigger lens to take photos. I enjoyed the walk with J√ľrg and Victoria and had fun taking a few photos with my HTC Aria handphone.

R√ľmlang – my HOME in Switzerland

R√ľmlang is another place where I can call home, other than my home in Malaysia. One of the best thing in my life is being an exchange student in Switzerland. I have a really warm host family who always make me feel like home. It has been 10 years since I came here for the first time but nothing has changed. R√ľmlang still looks the same – the houses, the railway station, the bakery, the banks, the departmental stores (except that Coop had been replaced by Spar), the library, the post office…etc. Both Victoria and I had never expected to be in Switzerland together but well, what can I say…fate!! It is really nice to show her around, places where I used to hang out when I was¬†living here.

Home

Railway station

Library

Fire station

Bakery

Church

Bank and Spar

Iceskating in Dielsdorf

I have never been good in iceskating but I first tried it in Switzerland. It was never easy but it had always been fun! Outdoor iceskating is nicer than indoor but of course COLD!!! The only place to iceskate back in Malaysia is at Sunway Pyramid. However, I did not really like it there as the ice melted and after a while, the ground was flooded with water. It became more slippery and harder to control, especially for an amateur like me! Since the weather is cold in Switzerland, it is very unlikely for the ice to melt, even so I never knew how to brake! Everytime I watched people iceskate and play icehockey, I am amazed! I have no idea how can they hold a stick and aim for something when I could not even balance myself on the ice. As the saying goes pratice makes perfect. Iceskating is not my favourite sport but I enjoy doing it with my friends! Victoria said she wanted to iceskate and lucky us, the weather was nice. The sun was shining and it was quite warm. However, when we left, both my feet and hands were frozen.

Gardening

Dad: hi seh ling! are you there?
Me: yes, I was doing gardening
Dad: what wind leads you 2 do dat? at home you never do dat!
Me: saje, nothing to do here. besides it is not hot here so i don sweat. it was fun though

Removed the plants

Garden deco

Hahahaha…as¬†expected, my parents would be so surprised if they ever found out that I did¬†gardening. I had never enjoyed gardening back home as the weather is so hot. Let me break it down – hot sun, sweat everywhere, mosquito or insect bites, dirt… However, in temperate country like Switzerland, I actually enjoyed the 3-hours work in the garden! There are things that I like in¬†the tropics, such as the nice weather, beautiful beaches¬†¬†and a wide variety of delicious food!! However, what I like about¬†Switzerland is I do not sweat that much, beverage gets cold if I leave them out, lotsa party and events, public transportation arrives and departs on time and snow!¬†Now I definitely can add gardening as my first experience in Switzerland! =)

‚ô• ICH LIEBE DAS LEBEN IN DER SCHWEIZ ‚ô•