Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Recap Of 2008

Here is a recapitulation of my last three-hundred-and-sixty-six days.
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JANUARY

  • Had a low-key New Year celebration at home, while Skyping with her at midnight.
  • Back to Malaysia for a couple of weeks and managed to catch-up with some of my family and close relatives.
  • My short trip ended much sooner than I would have hoped for, and had her to send me off at KLIA.
  • Joined a ski trip with other international students and Japanese friends at Tsunan. That was my first and only skiing experience to date.
  • My tutor and I teamed up and our robot came as the first runners-up in the robotic battle among my classmates.
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FEBRUARY

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MARCH

  • I was in contemplation whether to stay in my hostel throughout my spring break, or set off to somewhere. Eventually, I chose the latter and managed to cover some parts of Tokyo, Nikko, Kamakura, Enoshima, Yokohama and Asakusa.
  • Had a simple meeting-up with my batchmates in Ueno and Shinjuku, in which we had hanami at night in Ueno Park, barbeque buffet and karaoke all the way.
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APRIL

  • Celebrated my 21st birthday, which was one of my most memorable one.
  • Joined the rest of the Malaysian for sakura sight-seeing or hanami in Yukyuzan Park.
  • Had a bowling-cum-okonomiyaki outing with the international students and several Japanese students at the town.
  • Visited Echigo Hillside Park to enjoy the magnificent sight of colourful tulips.
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MAY

  • Joined the rest of my batchmates, seniors and juniors for the traditional Golden Week Gathering in Tokyo. It was a just awesome and great to meet up with the familiar faces after some time.
  • From our usual daily routine of going to lectures, we took the weekend off to visit a local vegetable farm nearby our college and planted sweet potatoes, besides learning how to make soba. Five months later, we got to taste the sweet potatoes we planted earlier.
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JUNE

  • The annual school trip organised for the international students this year took us to Saitama, Nikko and a few more places in Tochigi prefecture, including the visit to Tobu World Square.
  • Had the dormitory festival and again, the event that caught the eyes of people was the Mr Ladies' Contest.
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JULY

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AUGUST

  • Summer came and it started with the Nagaoka Festival, followed by the well-known Nagaoka Fireworks Festival for two straight nights.
  • Returned home to spend my summer holiday in Malaysia.
  • Went to Kolej Kedua in Sri Rampai, the hostel where I used to live while studying in PPKTJ to give a talk to the juniors.
  • Returned to my alma mater, Saint George Institution to catch up with the teachers.
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How can a visit back to Malaysia be complete without indulging myself with the delicious and tempting local food. Here are a compilation of some of the food I had when I was back.
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SEPTEMBER

  • Became the tour guide for the Japanese lecturers and students during their visit to KL.
  • Visited the new place of PPKTJ together with the Japanese lecturers and students, and watched the students battled it out during the robotic car race.
  • Spend some time of my holiday to meet-up with my friends and at the same time was taken around places while enjoying the local food.
  • Celebrated the Mooncake Festival and managed to have a taste of the mooncakes after a lapse of a year.
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OCTOBER

  • Joined the rest of the Malaysians in Nagaoka to celebrate Raya together. Satay, rendang, ketupat and nasi himpit all made their presence on that day.
  • Eikawa sensei and Atsuko sensei pay a visit to Nagaoka Kosen and we managed to join them for a short event.
  • Went to Kamo city for a pear plucking trip.
  • The annual Sports Meet in college, in which the tug-of-war team comprising of the international students almost made it to the final.
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NOVEMBER

  • The Malaysian students in my college opened a stall selling satay, samosa, jelly and syrup during the college festival, in which we earned more than 80,000 yen.
  • Participated in a blood donation campaign in my college; it was my first time donating blood in Japan.
  • Had a trip to Niigata city in which we visited Niigata Science Museum and learned some simple skills of kendo and karate.
  • Joined four other students from my college for a homestay programme in Mitsuke town.
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DECEMBER

  • Came back to Malaysia for my winter break, and travelled from south (Singapore) to north (Taiping). The remaining days were spent at Michelle's hometown in Malacca with a couple of days at Genting and KL.
    HAPPY NEW YEAR 2009!!!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Kuala Sepetang

Kuala Sepetang is a coastal town located about half-an-hour's drive from Taiping, Perak. Formerly known as Port Weld after a former Governor, Frederick Weld. Port Weld used to be one of the busiest ports in the country, servicing the nearby tin mining industry. The Port Weld railway station was located at the centre of town. The whole railway line from here to Taiping, which was the first railway line in the Peninsular, is now dismantled, and now only the ticketing booth and the Port Weld railway signboard in four languages remain. The ticketing booth is now a Chinese coffee shop, and the shop owner has been maintaining the railway signboard.

Kuala Sepetang is also well known for its mangrove swamp reserve park which is open to the public daily. This is my second time here; my first was a couple of years ago with my family. But for Michelle, it was her first time seeing mangrove swamp and I can say she looked rather excited, especially at the breathing roots which grow out from the grey muddy soil.

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The boardwalk.
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Bakau minyak.

This reserve park has a boardwalk built over the swamp for tourists, and chalets in which tourists can rent to stay the night on the riverfront. One good thing about walking through the forest on the boardwalk is that there are no worries for mosquito bite when we are there. We spotted a few locals who went there to have their routine evening jogs.

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See if you could spot a baby crab here.
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Footprints of a crocodile.

Both of us of course, took some time off to camwhore there.

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Hanging by the supporting rope.
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Self-timer shot.
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Self-syiok inside the mangrove forest.

The next stop was a fishing village located less than five-minute drive from that forest reserve. It is a thriving fishing village, and the main jumping-off point to the river mouth community of Kuala Sanggar, which is a Chinese fishing community at the river mouth which specializes in fish breeding in cages. Kuala Sepetang has excellent seafood and it has a famous restaurant situated on the upper floor of a shop lot overlooking the river.

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The village is very popular with its curry mee, which is only sold in the afternoon. Too bad that we went there on the wrong day, because the stall is closed on Monday and Tuesday. So was the stall which sells some crispy prawn fritters next to the curry mee stall.
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Random shot # 1.
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Random shot # 2.
Not wanting to feel too disappointed, we decided to pay a visit to another section of the town by taking a motorboat. I bet it would be hard for anyone who can tell me any other place which offers a ferry ride which cost only twenty-cents.

I can't even buy a piece of karipap nowadays with that amount, you know.

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The jetty where we took our 'ferry'.
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The ferry man used a dalmatian soft toy as the mascot for his boat.

The wooden houses there are build on stilts and for the richer families, they replaced their wooden house with concrete ones. The scene at the village was so similar with those Hong Kong dramas, where you can see people gathering around a table to gamble, shirtless guys cycling through the narrow road, guys smoking and walking in ah beng style, kids running around freely everywhere and the elderly sitting together sharing their grandmother stories lol.

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Random shot # 1.
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Random shot # 2.

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The only basketball court in the village.
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They set-up some wooden poles to make sure the basketball will not hit onto the house behind.

Our presence there evoked weird stares from everyone there, even the kids there were not spared. It was as if we were some movie superstars there; just that the only missing part was the fact that they didn't ask us for autographs. Now we know how it feels to be famous and being the centre point of attention from the public.

People were looking at us when we camwhored at the village, some was even smiling away because they obviously know that we are not from that area. There was a time one guy asked me where I'm from. I should have told him I'm from India and see whether he would believe me.

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Camwhore shot # 1.
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Camwhore shot # 2.

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A platform in between two wooden houses.
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Evening sunset at the village.
We stopped at one of the grocery shop and grabbed one stick of red bean flavour ice cream each. Once we had finished our ice creams, we stopped at another shop to buy another two sticks of ice cream; this time it was cendol flavour, plus four pieces of coconut cookies for just forty cents.

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Licking on our cendol ice cream.

Damn cheap, can.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Day Trip In Singapore

The last time I was in Singapore, I was only five.
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Those signatured white floating balls are meant for the New Year's celebration.
That was the first and only time going there and among the few things that I could still recall about Singapore was the Merlion, the cable car in Sentosa Island and the century-old giant tortoise in the Singapore Zoological Zoo.
We would have wanted to spend more time in Singapore, but due to time constrain, we barely spent much time there. I have always wanted to see myself the durian-shaped performing arts center, Esplanade - Theaters by the Bay a few stone's throw away from Suntec City. The roof is quite cool that the panels can be flipped open like durian thorns when they want the sunlight to shine into the building.
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Camwhoring in front of the art center.
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Her, by the pond with some fake dolphins.
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Me, with the Merlion in the background.
When you are going out with a girl, nothing can separate them from shopping and which girl would not want to shop in Singapore. Too bad that we are too poor to get anything from there; but just window shopping. It was a Saturday and people were spotted at every corner you turn to. The worst was at Orchard Road in which the crowd was as much as what I always see in Shinjuku, Tokyo.
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Christmas decorations along Orchard Road.
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Some cool-looking wall in the shopping mall.
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Level One of Far East Plaza.
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The cool fountain at Raffles City shopping mall.
During our short time in Singapore, we managed to try stuff which are unavailable in Malaysia - Ben & Jerry's and Mos Burger, which originated from Japan. We got to pick two kinds of flavour and we had strawberry cheesecake and chocolate therapy, which turned out to be not bad.
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Double cookie euphoria.
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Took some time off to camwhore =)
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Oyako rice burger.
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Unagi rice burger - nothing much special about this one, as it was quite plain to be fair.
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Ebi rice burger - this was the best out of the three.
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Frozen strawberries, coated with something sweet.
During our stay here, we overnight at my aunt's place and managed to catch up with my cute little cousin, Kilian. Just in case you are wondering why he looks like an ang moh kia, his dad is a German. I tried to talk to Kilian in German using my basic German I am currently learning in my college and guess what I got?
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Herbert, Gaik, me and Kilian.
Kilian gave me that kind of smile that tells you something like, "OMG, your German is so impaired lah."

Monday, December 22, 2008

I Am Back

Hello everybody.
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Taken by a Japanese at Merlion Garden in Singapore.
I'm currently updating this from my home in Taiping. Yes, I'm back to Malaysia once again for my winter break. Of course I would be lying if I say I'm not excited. To those who might be wondering about my whereabouts for the last several days, I was too busy traveling from Tokyo to Singapore to Malacca and finally to Taiping for the last three days, that I couldn't get to even sit down and make a proper update. Michelle went down to Changi airport on Friday midnight to pick me up and we stayed one night at my aunt's place in Clementi. We hardly got to spend much time to go around Singapore, moreover it was around the Christmas holiday now that people were everywhere and the crowd was super crazy especially at Orchard Road. Later on the same evening, we headed back to Malacca and spent one night in Michelle's place before taking a freaking seven-hour-long bus ride back to Taiping. However, it felt like it was only a seven-minute bus ride.
We will be spending our time in Taiping until the end of this week. So far, it has been a great time for both of us. Well, I guess I shall save the lovey dovey part here; I will leave that for Michelle to do it. I do not think I will be doing any long updates for the next couple of weeks, at least.
Till then, see you guys in the near future.