Saturday, January 24, 2015

Indonesia-Penang Trip XII

1st and 2nd of June 2014

Supper, Rice Dumplings and Temple

That very night, we visited a supper house place. We get to enjoy a few local treats, which were rather sweet. This is pisang goreng, but topped with chocolate rice and condensed milk. Yes, this is how most of the sweet treat in Indonesia taste like.

This is my long-awaited IndoMie! Although the way they cooked it was not as I expected, it was still very nice, plus I can request for an egg on top of it. Nice!

Fanny had this dish, which she kindly shared. It was baked/roasted corn with condensed milk. Compared to our usual steamed corn, this is drier but with added sweetness from the condensed milk. It was a different kind of corn taste.

That day, we checked into our staying place in Bandung: Hotel Nyland Pasteur. It was a convenient hotel in the middle of the town with quite good service, except there's no elevator - but that doesn't matter because there was only a few stories. Beside the hotel, was this quite large river or canal which was just next to several other houses. So you can see how the walls were built to secure the foundation.

The very next day was actually Dumpling Day on lunar calendar. Our tour guide, Lucky, brought us these Bandung rice dumplings which his mother made. It was interesting because I didn't know this culture flow so far south, but anyway, the dumplings are different. These were a bit more plain with a little flavouring and meat in the middle of normal rice as opposed of glutinous rice used in most part of Malaysia. I would say the rice texture felt a bit like nyonya rice dumpling but the filling was different. My comment, this kind of dumpling can really fill your tummy.

The very next day, we continued our journey around Bandung. First off, we visited a temple, or rather, a collection of temples. It was a place where different types of Buddhist temples were located together. The place was high up and cool, with mystical mode like this photo:

Outside were these carvings of Buddha. Different kind of buddha according to different branch of Buddhism...

There were these golden coloured statues too...

And here is a more familiar kind where you see Chinese word. Yes, this is a more-chinese kind of temple where there was Guanyin inside. My most impressed part was this temple being very calm and cool and comfortable. I got my fair chance of sitting and chilling in the temple, though I was not sure if that was rude or not. I take it as a my quiet time with the temple...

Not to forget, this cockerel which followed us for quite a good part of our trip...

There were many familiar ones and also one with a row of Buddha in his different poses, each represented different stages of his enlightenment and meaning.

And we spent some time doing this fortune thing. You are to choose a cup and keep dropping the coin into several buddhist singing bowls situated around the temple, one each. And by the time you finished the last, you were to calculate how much you've left and get a piece of fortune paper from the counter for some wise advise. The nice part was that this fortune paper was unlike most others where they really tell of your fortune. Instead, it contained general wisdom which you should look out for in your life, which, in my opinion, was much more useful and subtle.

More group photos...

Not to mention, the good part about having so many different kind of temples together was the opportunity to witness different kind of art, based on the same religion, and their interpretations...

Look at this lovely dandelion!

We did spend some time around these two white elephants. Well, not the 'white elephant' but literal white coloured elephant statues holding the Dhama wheel. 

So, we decided to take a group photo in between these white elephants, literally.

Group photo again...

I would say that my knowledge was limited and hence there might be a lot of things there which I had missed or did not understand. Nonetheless, it was a great visit...

Monday, January 19, 2015

Life Goes On

I know I mentioned about the significant decline of videos made. These are footages I took over the past few months and since it is anew year, I decided to compile them a bit and make a lovely music video...

Some of the footages were quite blur but I thought the old-ish look of the old camera has a certain vintage vibe to it.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Start of The Year

Alert! Alert! First full week of 2015 had just passed by. Yes, it's more than a week into this brand new year, that's not that brand new anymore. So the year started quite peacefully. On New Year's Eve, I decided to join in fellow friends to celebrate this day, instead, in a quieter place. We met for dinner and found this very awesome tzu char place near Bishan MRT station. The price was reasonable with the portion and the food was delicious. We spent the next hour discussing and chatting, about past year, present year and future. It was great.

As time was near, we made our way to the temple. There were already activities going on, with people paying homage to the Buddha, writing their wishes and so forth.

When the clock striked twelve, the bell-ringing ceremony commenced. The monk rang the old-fashioned bell 108 times, and just by completing that took quite a while. So we sat near a pond and closed our eyes, as the bell chimed through our ears and senses, to wake us up about the coming of a new year and reflections. It was very peaceful.

This is the first photo I took of the year:

And we took a few photos before making our way back. My friend and her family stayed back for further prayers though. It is a very nice way to celebrate New Year and very peaceful. It kind of feel a bit hippie but I think as long as one is comfortable with the choice, it is the ultimate choice.

The very day, on New Year's Day, nothing much happened except I did get to read some book, went for a run and ended up falling down a staircase. I know - what a way to start the year! I'm now healing and pretty much walking properly now except still on a no-running-no-jumping session.

Other than that, everything is resuming the run. The lab is up and alive, with meetings starting to fill up the schedule, intertwined with more experiments for me to grow up. I am sure this is going to be another great year to improve, to grow, to contribute and many more!

And thus, is the first week of New Year.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Happy 2015!

Okay, let's get this straight, the photo says it all. Happy New Year, Bonne année, Welcome 2015!

It is four days since the year started and you might think it is slow, but guess what, this is already the first Sunday of the year! Then the week will go by, then the month, then the year! So, buckle up and be prepared for the adventure, mate!

I've drafted out my new resolution in my AJIT page, not much for this year, because I want to see how much I can surprise myself. Be awesome, be an inspiration, be brilliant, be happy, be fantastic, be whatever you wanna be - and make this year another great one.

We're all stories in the end, so let's make it a good one, eh? 

Thursday, January 01, 2015

2014: A Wrapped Up

This post will be summarizing my 2014 so far and perhaps talk about them a little.

It was a trying year for me at the start. I was still coping with the lost of my father. It was a bit difficult because I dealt with it from a slightly different angle than my other family members. I became who I was. I cut off most of my social activities. I focused on things I liked, like doing Science and dwelving in places I feel safe like the lab and my room. I realized I stopped drawing and I was worried I would go into depression (because losing interest in things you like is one of the symptoms), but I'm glad I picked it up in the second half of the year.

I grew up a lot through this year, learning a lot of grown-up stuff like legal procedures, finances, plannings and a lot of thinking. I'm not sure if these are good stuff, but it happened, and I would like to see them as a positive thing that happened in my life for whatever reason.

I am glad to have a bunch of very supportive colleagues who treated my like friend or team, and we had a great time in school and off school. We went Pulau Ubin, and travelled to Jakarta and Bandung, and we went Penang.

It is also a great thing that I am closer to my high school friends now that many of them is in Singapore, especially two of them. We spend loads of weekends together, when we get the time. There were differences, there were disagreements, but there were certainly more joy and more agreements. There were supports and there were teasing. We have differnet problems and we deal with them differently, but knowing them to be there is a different kind of feeling. So, I guess this is what friendship is meant to be.

I'm proud to say that I attended most of the hall alumni gathering. I was indeed late for some of them and perhaps not very 'on' during some. But I think I understand why I always made sure I am there, I think I want to cherish this relationship that was built over the years, when there's no reason to let it go. This don't come by easy in our lives, I guess.

This year, I did something unexpected. I had my first chop on my passport outside Malaysia and Singapore. I went to Indonesia twice. First time with colleagues, second time with a friend and a bunch of people whom I didn't know. They turned out to be enjoyable. I stayed in a temple for few nights. We walked under the scorch hot sun in Penang (This is terrible, will not try this ever again!). I witnessed the vastness of the night sky at Mount Bromo. I visited Kuala Lumpur (which is rare for me). I watched badminton game in the stadium.

I picked up Karate (probably still objected by my Mum because she's worried I will break a bone, so I shall make it a point to be safe). I learned a bit of sports climbing (Level One). I learned tiny bit of Korean (which I probably need to brush up frequently). I supported a lab mate in her singing competition and get to visit Mediacorp theatre for once.

In the lab, I learned a lot of things. I have my own project. I had ups and downs. I think these strengthens my belief that this is where my interest and perseverence will lie. I grew a lot through the project, the process and the people. *Seriously, I'm gonna need more than a paragraph for these, so I will just stop it here.*

Overall, I think I had a great year, especially when things started to move faster during the later part of the year. It's not like the first part was rubbish, I think that it is how I went through the first part that second part happened after that. I'm pleased and surprised by things I did in 2014 and I hope next year will be as or more superb.

2014 Resolution: What Have I Done?

Every year (okay, it has been two years only), I will be putting my new year's resolution and goals on my AJIT (A Journal of Impossible Things) tab, to remind me of what are things I should be shuffling from 'impossible' to 'possible' to 'accomplished'. Here is 2014's version.

What I have done so far in 2014?

Science blog post: 5 (This is like a fail from a start - it has been stagnant for a long time and I think I certainly need to work on that.)
Personal blog post: 51 (This is okay, so far)

Books read: 19
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card
Wisdom energy : basic Buddhist teachings by Lama Thubten Yeshe, Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche
The Future of the Mind by Michio Kaku
Tree of Codes by Jonathan Safran Foer
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
台北医生故事之菜鸟出诊篇 by 欧阳林 (Doctor O in Taipei)
Letters to a Young Scientist by Edward O. Wilson
Awakening a Kind Heart by Sangye Khadro
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare
Doctor Who: Eleventh Doctor: Book 37: Apollo 23 by Justin Richards
Saving Max by Antoinette van Heugten
Xenocide by Orson Scott Card
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
The First World War by John Keegan
Ten Thousand Saints by Eleanor Henderson
Doctor Who: A Big Hand For The Doctor: First Doctor - 50th Anniversary by Eoin Colfer
Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence by Daniel Goleman

(I'm proud to say I exceeded my goal of reading ten in 2014.)

Quill (クイール), Good Doctor (굿 닥터), The Journey (一路有你), Huat Ah! Huat Ah! Huat!, Ah Boys to Men 1 & 2, La Vie D'Adele, Snowpiercer, The Fault in Our Stars, Bambino!, Jobs, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Recruit Diaries, The Grand Budapest Hotel, X-Men: Days of Future Past, La Belle et la Bête, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Interstellar, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, Mockingjay (Part 1), Soft Top Hard Shoulder, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies, Paddington, Silver Linings Playbook, The Boxtrolls

(And, the amount of movie is scary - I should filter them.)

Videos made: 5

(I have my own problem and I can live with this number for now haha.)

*A very subjective aspect*
German, French, Hebrew, Korean, English

(I contnued a bit of German and French. And I am in a basic Korean class - so I guess it is a process!)


Compare that to my 2014 resolution:

Vision: Live to the fullest, so that when the time comes, I can say I did it right.
Mission: Be a wise person and a scientist
1. Continue to be a good person – Live right. I am totally intrigued by my father and it made me realized that after all these years, I finally has a clear goal of what kind of person I want to be. I want to grow up to be someone like him. I was so touched when everyone I met, from his family to his friends to his colleagues to his students, they came all the way to say 'your father is a successful man' 'you father is a good man' ' your father is a good teacher' 'he's a genius' - and I can see that they said all these not out of sympathy but their own grief over the loss of a very fine man, friend, colleague and teacher.
2. Live long and prosper. I would like to stress more on my own health, my family's relationship and also be useful. 
3. Write. For this, I am not wishing for more – just maintaining is good enough.
4. Make better videos. This is a bit tricky, because the camera was returned to its rightful owner, my brother and I am left with not much equipment. I wish to maintain but yes, I will see how.
5. Learn German, improve French and English, learn more about new language.
6. Curious more, ask more, research more. THIS IS THE ONE I HAVE TO HIGHLIGHT. Given that I am now in a research lab and doubled with department duties, I am happy to commit to research. But I am still fitting in to the work culture. Besides, to do my Resolution #5, I might have affected my other resolutions. I would like to work hard to balance the thing out, which will be my Secret Resolution #6. And of course, in terms of research, I set a goal that might or might not be able to achieve – my first scientific publication. I won’t give myself any high hopes nor would I wish for which authorship, just research effort worth a publication – that will be good.

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