Monday, December 31

A New Chapter Begins...

The year 2008 marks my return to Malaysia after 2 fulfilling years overseas studying in Wellington, New Zealand.

I have returned from a land of green green pastures to a developing nation requiring my services in bringing the new generation forward in their thinking as well as in their ability to use the all so international English Langauge.
~~~~

At my age, I realise that my days are drawing short...
Such a transition in life, from uni to pre-working life, will definately be accompanied by many many sleepless night wondering & pondering about the short & long term future that is drawing ever closer with each passing minute...


I want every second to count...
I want so much in my life...
Am I able to be successful in my career?
Will I be able to achieve my millionaire dream?
How will I go about materialising that dream?
Will I retain my honour & integrity?
When will I get married?
Who will be my bride?
Will I be a good husband & father?
Will I be able to raise my family well?
How will I be remembered?
Can I achieve my heart's desires?
~~~

I know not what I will be...
I fantasise of sweet success...
Yet the shadow of failure draws so much more attention...

I know what I want to be...
Examining my heart...
It is all laid before me...

Will I let what I dont know defeat me?
Will the fear of dissapointment prevent me from admitting the true desires of my heart?
Shall I deny what keeps me up at night & what keeps me going when I am down?

Never! I will not act upon what I dont know...
I shall act upon what I do know...
I will work towards my goals in hope of a life & a future...

A life of breakthrough...
A life of purpose...
A life with meaning & intrinsic value...
~~~

#Here is briefly some major short & long term desires of mine heart:
- Becoming a millionaire by 40
- Fall in love with my Chinese culture
- Working in Japan
- Visiting China
- Finding my woman
- Being a man for my woman
- Do my best in everything I choose to do

Will blog about them in the near future!

Listing my heart's desires down makes them more tangible and less abstract...
I believe this is the first step to attaining them.
I encourage you to probe for your hearts desires too!

Sunday, December 16

My Futsal Mania

picture taken from andybatt.com

Life back in my hometown is sweet...
Free food... Free board... Free transport...
Met up with old friends...
Visited the good old favourite food spots...
As well as some new ones...
But best of all... I played lots and I mean LOTS of futsal!
Almost 2-3 times a week!

It truly is a wonderful adaptation of the beautiful game...
Scaling it down has made it more accessible to non-football players as well as more challenging for those who frequent the eleven a side game.
I'm having a lovely time playing with different opponents as well as having different teammates in every game...
Some times we work well together & have chemistry...
Some times the team breaks down & we fail...

Here is what a typical futsal game in Kuching, Malaysia is like:
There are usually 3 teams. 5-6 players a side.
2 teams enter the court or pitch first and compete to stay in the court. The third team rests.
In the court, the team that manages to score 2 goals gets to stay while the opposition is kicked out & the resting team enters to compete with the winning team.
This repeats itself until the time runs out.
There are not winning teams in this type of game.
Every one's a winner...
We're just here to have a good time & pitch our individual skill against each other!

The game truly is perfect...
However, as humans, WE are far from perfect...
Last week, I joined some friends for a game of futsal.
Everyone was a complete stranger to me... even some of my teammates.
But we played well together as a team.
There were 3 teams & we played the typical game.
Most of the players were new to the game so they were quite hard on the tackling but it was acceptable & we did have some good moments.

However, towards the end of our booked time at the court, a fight broke out.
My team was resting so we watched as the 2 teams inside the court yell at each other, push each other & eventually, punch each other.
It was quite amusing as some of them were topless and they were unseasoned fighters swinging wildly inside a netted court which made them look like caged up savages.
Soon the two teams were forced apart by the resting team & some of their more reasonable teammates.
Later on, they left the court in a ceasefire.

I have played many varieties of football for many years with people of different personalities & different abilities...
This was the first time I saw a fight over a legal tackle which brought a player down.
A legal tackle is a tackle where the defender goes for the ball & not the player. It is understood that incidentally, the attacker might be brought down in the process.
Most teams will professionally shake it off if it was a legal tackle.
This team of amateur chinese players didnt...
What a shame...
Hope they reflect on this & in the future, choose to ellicit respect by how well they play the game rather than how intimidating they can be.

Wednesday, November 28

Home Sweet Home

This lexical chain has been repeated more times than required but it does retain a very profound truth...
I'm a Malaysian born in the city of Kuching in the state of Sarawak.
I have just returned from my studies overseas in Wellington, New Zealand.

Anywhere in the world, when you meet new people... one of the top 10 questions you will be asked is "where are you from?" besides "what is your name?" & "do you have a quarter?"
In New Zealand, I sometimes feel a hint of shame to say, "I'm from Malaysia." Mostly because the enthusiasm shown by the person asking the question will drop sharply after you answer honestly. As if my country was not good enough for him/her.
Well, I do feel that my country is not good enough when comparing it to some of the Japanese & Koreans people I meet.
Even when I was studying in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, I experienced this...
"I like the way you look... Where are you from?"
"I'm from Kuching, Sarawak."
"Oh..."
Yeah, I do find that my city is not as glamourous or exciting like Penang or KL.

But why do I compare? Why should I let what other people think dictate my thoughts on myself? Why should I compare my nation or city with other nations or cities when they are all very very different with their own distinct characteristics & attractions? When I caught myself feeling down because of this, I stopped to think. I knew this was not a good thing. Thinking like this isn't right. Like it or not, I cannot change my origin. I can deny it & create some false identity... but deep inside of me I know the truth... I know where I am from.

Why shoud I be ashamed of something I cant change? Is it possible for me to be proud of my humble origins? Yes, Malaysia is not as advanced but we are advancing rapidly & will one day match the likes of Japan. There is hope. Yes, Kuching is not as lively or glamourous but it is clean & the food is great. There is a hope & a future for my nation & my city. I should not be depressed about a place that is filled with hope. I should be proud. I should look forward instead of the present to judge worth. Indeed when doing so, I find pride... Let me be an example. Let me show that a person with a small beginning can also be a person with a significant ending.

For those of you who dont know, I arrived in Kuching at 11:50pm on Monday, 26 Nov. Before you, my friend, start whining & complaining about how long I took to get in contact with you, I suggest you stop that pathetic whinning of yours & take a good look in the mirror. After two years of being away from your family, yes, you will miss your friends, but blood is thicker, I find myself wanting to spend more time with my family. True friends have true respect. Are you my true friend?

Of course I want to see you too! My friends are important but I cant stand it when they whine about a small little molehill. As you can see, I met a whiner recently...
Well, I'm still using my previous Digi cell phone number but I lost all my contacts.
So all my long time no see friends... do send me a text & let's meet up!
P/S: I will not publish my phone number for the whole world to see...

Finally, here are some significant points of difference I have discovered after coming back to Kuching from Wellington:

Wellington:
- cooler & dryer weather. won't feel so sticky & dirty 5 minutes after you shower.
- mosquitos are non-existant. never woke up clapping my hands & scratching like monkey.
- people people put in more effort to dress better.
- people are friendlier. they are very good in small talk.
- people drive safer. they give way more & stop often than they should.
- Multi-national. I meet people from all around the world.
- High minimum wage. At NZ$11.25 per hour, working is worth your time.

Kuching:
- food is cheap & so GOOOOOOOOOD.
- breezy, not windy. the city doesnt tweak your hairstyle every minute you are outside.
- don't have to freaking speak Cantonese all the time. but I will have to adapt to hokkien.
- my family & long-lasting friends are here. they are the backbone of my social life.
- I'm proud of what this place has become & will continue to consider it my home sweet home!

Thursday, November 8

Muscle & Fat

After reading an article by a health educator in ChristianPost.com, I learnt a lot & changed some of the concepts I had about muscle & fat!
I shall summarise my findings here...

Fat & muscles are two completely different tissues. Muscle metamorphosis is untrue. Fat cannot turn into muscles through exercise nor muscles turn into fat via lack of training!

The ammount of fat in your body is determined by how many calories you consume minus how many you burn up. Calories can come from protein, carbs or dietry fat.

Muscles are made up of thousands of individual cells. The ammount of cells in each muscle cannot increase nor decrease! However, each cell has the ability to grow in size, density & efficiency. Changes in either quality is influenced by the ammount of stress put on them. This is assuming the person has a well-balanced diet.

Now I have a better idea of what is going on in my body...
I can train muscles & see no effects because the fat is covering it.
I can drink tons of protein but see no effects on muscle growth.
What I have to do is have a well-balanced diet, burn fat & train muscles.
=D

Wednesday, October 31

Football Manager 2008

Since our introduction in 2004, I have been an avid fan of this football manager game...
It has kept its gameplay realistic and well balanced throughout the years...
one day it will be just like the real thing...

There is no greater feeling than to watch a team you nurtured & loved win game after game after game...
There is no greater glory than to win a trophy with your favourite club...
There is no greater pain than to suffer defeat at the hands of a bitter rival...
There is no greater joy than to have your players praise you & follow you...
There is no greater game than the beautiful game...
There is no greater simulation than Football Manager...

Football Manager 2008 is just out!
If you love football, you will love this game!

Here is a poetic trailer to the game that captures the very essence of being a football manager...

Wednesday, October 24

It Really Is Finished!

My university life in Victoria University has finally come to an end with the completion of today's exam.
In a months time, I'll be on a plane leaving this city I've grown to love & appreciate...
~~~


What Did I Plan To Do this Year? Have I Done It?

My goals for NZ 2007:
- complete a North Island tour
- complete my degree courses
- have more wasabi
- up my contribution in church
- take my relationship with my Lord Jesus to a deeper level
- speak Japanese fluently (for a foreigner, of course)
- do more one-off jobs to enrich my experience
- make the best of the time i have left!

RED: I have always had it in my heart to dig in deeper with my saviour but somehow never got around to doing it. I'm just going with the flow... but I know in my heart that I want to know Him so much more... This recap is a good reminder that I should start today & I will!

YELLOW:
I am able to speak some basic Japanese & pronounce some words close to native-like but I know it will take me more exposure & practise to speak the language fluently. Will need to have even more wasabi.

GREEN:
I am able to complete my degree & travel throughout most of NZ. Which is probrably two of the most important things I should do. I made a lot of meaningful relationships here & these people will definate be missed when I leave...
~~~


What else do I want to do before I go?
Now this is the last minute decision I have to make for the short period I have left...

Arranged according to priority:
- settle my tenancy issue
I'm leaving at the end of November but my tenancy contract lasts till December. Currently finding people to take over the house for the short/long term.
We have to at least find 3 people willing to stay in this unfurnished house for a month.
If you are one of these people, please check out our house advert on trademe.co.nz & please drop me an email or give me a ring.

- be rid of the items I don't want to bring back to Malaysia
The items include the furniture in the house. This is done either by selling them or giving them away.
Have put most of the items on trademe.co.nz & will have a garage sale near my departure date.

- complete my final performance with the WOW factor
My final performance will be on the evening of 24 Nov for the International Lifegroup Christmas Party. It is my final performance & I want to make it the best performance I have ever done in my life thus far...
I'm working with 3 very passionate & talented individuals to create a sound so strong, emotional & united that it will blow you off your seat...

- bless the most important person to me in NZ
It is wonderful when there is someone special in your life.
It is tragic to find someone so precious & have to leave so soon.
In a short term relationship, the gentle gender usually loses out...
I need to show her that she is special... not just a temporary delight...
even though I have to leave & may never have someone like this again in my life...

- spend time with the people I really connected with
There were many many people I met & worked with during my time here. However, there are only a handful I really clicked with...
I want to spend more time with them & appreciate the special connection we have...
somehow I know that in the process, I will be strengthened...

- ski trip
I've always wanted to ski...
If possible I'd like to go on a ski trip but this is not a priority. It can be missed for any of the above.
~~


It is good to reflect!
Now I have a better idea of what I want to do in this short remaining time!
Awesome!
Do pray for me!

Sunday, October 21

Final NZ School Observation

Last week, for 5 days, I was at Tawa College for school obsevations.
My final school observation in NZ.

This time around I decided to proactively interact with students in the classes I observed...
Often helping the teacher with answering questions students had while they were doing exercises as well as positioning myself near students that were being disruptive.
Let me give you some highlights of my week there.

I found a very special disruptive student...
I was following this year 9 class that day & it was a class with hyperactive & noisy students...
Throughout the day, in all the classes, the boys would be noisy & attempt to disrupt the lesson with pointless questions & quarreling with each other...

During one of the last lessons of the day, a Mathematics lesson, I decided to sit beside the noisiest boy.
He was mostly quiet during my stay; which was good. But most surprisingly, when everyone was told to do exercises from a workbook, he finished all of it in half the time everyone else took! And all of his answers were correct! Amazing!

He certainly has potential... I just hope that he realises that before its too late...
Wish him all the best in the future!

taken from slapmeister.com

Another interesting story occurred in a year 10 Social Science class...
The teacher had just gone through a test paper that the students had done & was calling out 1 student at a time to his table. He wanted to work out any marking mistakes & then enter the grades into the computer.
I was sitting at the back of the class, working on my school observation report when I saw this boy sitting on the desk of an attractive female classmate.
On the desk, he was holding an imaginary penis with his right hand. He pointed the imaginary penis at her mouth & moved his closed palm back and forth on the imaginary penis as if inviting her to perform fellacio on his imaginary penis. He was enjoying this & smiling at his friends while doing this. She sat there just staring at him not doing anything.

I couldn't just sit & watch something like this happen...
I stood up...
Walked slowly toward the table...
And put my arm around the boy...
Then I asked the young lady, "is this young man bothering you?"
She nodded & said, "yes."
So I asked the young man, "what do you think you should do now?"
He pointed towards his desk...
I smiled & said, "why don't you do that..."
He got off the table & started walking towards his desk...
As he was passing by, I gave him a nice smack in the ass...
Little did I know, the whole class except the teacher was watching our little conversation...
They burst out laughing. Crying, "that's awesome!"
As a result of their noise making, they were grounded for 15 minutes after class...
But for them & for me, it was well worth it.
The boy & I shook hands & reconciled at the end.
I also explained to the teacher what happened.

These school observations gave me a chance to reflect on my personality & find my style of teaching...
I watched different teachers teach in their unique ways...
I watched different students learn in their unique ways...
I watched students react to teachers & I watched teachers react to students...
I learned so much just from watching & thinking how I would do things if I were faced with the same situation...
Last year, I just observed & missed out the whole reflection part...
This year, I am more prepared to do my best...
For the sake of a new generation...

Monday, October 15

A Tribute To Miss Leow: "Thank You"

Miss Leow was an amazing lecturer in IPBA who is as cunning as a fox but as innocent as a dove...
hehe... I adore her!
I want my future wife to have some of her attributes!
She inspires her students with her positive outlook, wisdom & cunning when dealing with
"problem" students. I remember many many funny stories! hehehe...

She is also an advocate for the Christians on campus.
She is a shoulder to lean on for each of us & she also oversees the IPBA ChristianFellowship.
The CF has had a profound impact on my life.
The relationships I built in the CF edified by faith & inspired me to draw closer to God. I have also served regularly in the CF & found truth in the saying "it is more blessed to give, than recieve."
She is truely one of the many people in my life worth remembering & paying tribute to!

A few weeks ago, I was invited by my senior, Nicholas, to produce a 1 minute video that will be put into a DVD that will be presented to Miss Leow as a retirement gift.
I jumped at this opporunity & immediately requested the production of a music video.
It was approved... but...
There was an additional task for this song production, I had to include others that know her.

First, I sent an email invitation to my classmates, the Cohort 2.
None responded except Nesa, my housemate.
Then, I sent an email invitation to my juniors, the Cohort 3.
Nadhilah, Izzati & Audrey responded.

Nesa did the video related stuff.
Nadhilah, Izzati & Audrey told me what they wanted to say to Miss Leow & agreed to do vocals.
With their ideas & some of my own, I wrote a first draft for the lyrics.

After that, I got together with talented musicians, Jason Khu & Melvyn Tan, and started composing the melody.
It was a frustrating process because we were very short of time...
but we managed to come up with an awesome melody and some kick-ass lyrics to go with it.
The rehearsal & recording of the song came very soon after that.

I was so amazed at our work that I can't say it was all just us...
there was something divine in it!
I kept thinking...
God this is amazing! Thank You!
=D

Listen to it yourself...
"Thank You"



A C2 C3 +2 COLLABORATION

Lyrics:

A difference you made
Telling us we'd go far
Now you have to take flight
We know this is not the end for you

You gave us a fresh touch
Yet we won't be dependent
Your smiles and warmth
Enables us to bless our future students

We want to thank you
For the things you've done for us
We are better now
Than before

Thinking back
To the time when
I was a student in your class
you taught with heartfelt sincerity
to guide and inspire me

Imagine not
Having you there when
I'm back from this foreign land
I'd feel sad
I'd feel cold
I'd feel lost

Credits:
Lyrics Writing & Vocals:
Jarod Yong Jik Kam
Nadhilah Saffini
Nurul Izzati MD Fuad
Audrey Kho Hui Yen


Music Composition & Playing:
Jason Khu
Melvyn Tan


Video Production:
Jason Khu
Nesaganth Racenamothy

Monday, October 1

Mid-Autumn Festival Celebration Performances

As many of you would know, through my spamming of MSN & YM...
Last weekend, I had small slots for performances during both the Mooncake Festival Celebration by Arise Church International Lifegroup & the Mid-Autumn Festival Celebration by the Chinese Students' Association.

中秋节 Mooncake Festival Celebration
by Arise Church International Lifegroup

This event was a huge success due to the large turnout
& awesome blessing from above!
Internationals from all over the world & even some kiwis turned up for this event.
I was there to set the place up & found it a gigantic challenge because most of the sound equipment was missing but God was good...
In the end, we were able to make the best of our limited equipment
& there was miraculous provision for missing essential equipment!
**sigh of relief**

The trademark of international lifegroup events has always been the generous amount of good multi-cultural food!
That night did not lack in amazing multi-cultural desserts & lots of tid-bits too!
People had a great time even when there were no mooncakes becasuse the CSA bought all of them for their event the following night!

Looking forward to the next event organised by the international lifegroup!
COME & BRING YOUR FRIENDS!

Here is the video of a performance I took part in that night
Guitar: Jason Khu Violin: Esther Ching Vocals: Jarod Yong (ME!)

Chrysanthemum Terrace 菊花台
by Jay Chow 周杰伦

~~~~





中秋联欢晚会 Mid-Autumn Festival Celebration
by the Chinese Students' Association, Victoria University of Wellington

This event had a good turnout too!
It also had an array of diverse performances!
From a krump dance performance to the playing of a Morin Khur or 马头琴.
The event also had a generous amount of mooncakes & tea to go around in the after-event mooncake tasting session.

We did 4 songs in this event.
Guitar: Jason Khu Violin: Esther Ching Vocals: Jarod Yong (ME!)

However the audience held themselves back & was a little too passive
except for a small group of friends from the International Lifegroup.
The lack of support didn't stop us from going on stage and giving our best for everyone's pleasure!
We did well too!

Arranged in order of performance...
Chrysanthemum Terrace 菊花台
by Jay Chow 周杰伦

~~~~

This Love
by Maroon 5

~~~~

Life Is Wonderful
by Jason Mraz

~~~~

Hey Ya
by Outcast

~~~~


I was amazed at the level of cooperation in both events.
Internally, the people in both events worked hard and made the best of the resources they had.

I also had the privilage of observing a great transaction between the leaders of two events.
Both sides were aware of each other's event & did not want a clash.
In this situation, the president of CSA, William Wu, gave up the prefered event date, let the International Lifegroup go first & had his event the next day.
He got his reward during the International Lifegroup event, beside stuffing his face with dessert, he recieved an awesome text on the election results that had just been released.
He got elected into the International Officer post of the 2008 Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association executive.

Instead of a clash of egos, I was glad to see humility...
and, even better, humility rewarded...
Divine... Pure inspiration...

Sunday, September 16

3 Monkeys' Weekend: Guna's Visit To Wellington

It's always great when monkeys get together.
It was great when we got together in Malaysia.
It was great when we got together in Australia.
And it was great when we got together in Wellington!

Even though we were 2 man short, we were not short of creativity & fun!
Guna & Syahir dropped by for the weekend.
Guna stayed with us & hung out with us while the snob, Syahir, chose to stay with Hadi and refused to hang out with us!
He'd rather have the PS3 & flat screen TV! **HUH**
We had fun without him anyway... lots and lots and LOTS of fun!
Go Monkeys!

I prepared 2 dinners for Guna during his stay.
He chose to go for a vegetarian diet to mourn the loss of his grandmother
so I whipped him up a nice vegetarian dinner not once, but TWICE!
On Friday night, we went to the well-known dessert restaurant, Strawberry Fare,
for dessert after a fabulous vegetarian dinner I prepared.
However, the restaurant dissapointed.
Check out their reviews on dineout.co.nz for why.
 

Saturday morning we headed to Westfield Queensgate
for the best tosai at The Spice Traders cafe.
Tosai is a South Indian Crepe made from a batter that is slightly fermented.
The tosai was amazingly large and crispy.
It came with a filling of potato & chicken as well as, on the side,
1 small bowl of dahl curry & 2 mini tubs of different chutneys.
Havent had it in a long long time... Loved it!
Special thanks to Karuna for taking us!
 

That night Nesa went to work & I took Guna to the karaoke.
There was a karaoke event organised
& sponsored by the International Student Council.
We had lots of fun there singing songs, laughing at each other & cheering others on.
Guna & I even sang a duet of the Maroon 5 song, "This Love".
 

That night, after the karaoke, we hit the clubs.
Guna was dressed up & he looked real smart & hot!
We took Guna to every good club in Wellington...
We stopped at Rain for drinks.
We stopped at Coyotes for a dance.
These two bars are my favourites because they play the latest and hottest music!
 

My highlight of the night was dancing with a special young person.
That person was sooooo hot!
Such a good dancer too!
But we kept it all on the dance floor...
we were clean, we did not want to sex each other...
we just wanted to have fun...
but it sure was good...
I danced with...
...
...
.............
.........
.....
..
 

NESA, My Housemate!
There was a group of us & we have been dancing for a while...
some of us were shy & did not dance very comfortably...
I got bored and decided to krump with Nesa...
but somehow it ended up as us getting it on with each other...

It was good...
Our group loved it...
hehehe...
Great fun!
Study Smart In Auckland, Guna!
Come Back Soon For More Adventures!

Monday, September 10

My Rugby & Football Weekend

Last weekend I had the rare opportunity of watching a rugby game at a severly discounted price. Furthermore, I also had the opportunity to watch a football game for free in the same weekend!

Both games were at the majestic Westpac Stadium in Wellington CBD.

The Air New Zealand Cup Rugby Match:
Vodafone Wellington Lions vs North Harbour Rugby Union

I watched the rugby game on Friday evening.
I got tickets that were usually worth $40 for $10 through the subsidising of the International Student Council. Going to the rugby game was one of the many events organised & subsidised by the council.

This is how a rugby pitch looks like...
There are two sides in the game; both sides fielding 15 players.
The objective of the game is to score tries.
To score a try, a player has to bring the ball past the opposite end of the pitch; pretty much like scoring a touchdown in American Football.
To be able to do that, you have to overcome certain obstacles, like the opposing team & working within the many rules.

One intersting thing I noticed was the use of bicycles to warm up!
Very clever!

However, I have a complaint about the game.
Too often in the game, players from either side go down & need medical attention.

This causes play to stop for a few minutes while the player is checked & okayed.
Imagine this happening again and again and again and again and again and again.
Get what I mean?

It may be a clever tactic to bottleneck opponent momentum but it bottlenecks the spectator's enthusiasm too.

The Hyundai-A League Football Match:Wellington Phoenix vs Newcastle Jets
I watched the football game on Saturday evening.
I got to watch the game for free because someone kind hearted gave me the ticket.
I was selling tickets at a Westpac Stadium ticket booth when I was given a ticket & was told to give it to anyone who wanted to by only one ticket.
So... I took the ticket & went to the game myself!
Thanks to the kind man, whoever you are!
=D


Having watched a rugby match the day before, I could compare the two matches.
The most significant difference was the spectators.
In the rugby match, all the spectators were quietly sitting in their seats & most were quietly enjoying the game in their private space. I felt sleepy during the game.
In the football match, however, the spectators were emotional, excited & responding instantly to every single move on the pitch with both their mouths & bodies.
It was noisy but more welcoming & entertaining to watch the football match instead of the rugby match.



After observing the spectators, I discovered that the most roudy group was seated at a particlar section of the stadium. The major source of the chants was also from that particular section.
I then realised that even the Wellington Phoenix is followed by football's infamous, the hooligans.
They are the Yellow Fever. You can catch them on the streets of Wellington wearing their yellow t-shirts in support of their football club as well as clearly stating their affilation to the football bloom that is occuring in Wellington.
If they can even maintain their current level of enthusiasm, football will no doubt be the most exciting & popular sport in Wellington!

Phoenix!!
**Clap** **Clap** **Clap**
Phoenix!!

Tuesday, September 4

My Trip To Rotorua

During the latest two week holiday off university, I had 4 things in mind.
I wanted to (arranged in level of urgency):

  1. Do A Hot Springs Trip
  2. Do A Ski Trip
  3. Have an Idle Day or Two
  4. Finish the Linguistics Assignment due the Monday after the holidays
In the two weeks, I managed to complete 3 out of my 4 objectives.
Guess which ones I chose to complete as I describe each completed objective...

My Hot Springs Trip

The weather in Wellington was absolutely positively horrible during the month of August. It was cold & chilly with strong gales all day & night. I got worse as the end of winter drew near as the winds started to get stronger & cold hard rain started pouring.
After hearing a few Japanese 人 rant about the weather & how 気持ちいい it feels to soak in a hot spa, I decided to try it out myself.
After doing some research on the internet, I found that the best or most reputable place to do this would be in Rotorua, a small town in the middle of the North Island, 5-6 hours drive North of Wellington.
So in the late morning of a sunny Sunday on the 26 August, I picked up a Nissan from NZ Rent a Car & drove my way to Rotorua with a very special person.

In Rotorua, we stayed two nights at the Princess Gate Hotel.
The hotel is a historical building & it has really handsome interior & furniture.
It feels like stepping into a hotel in the 19th century! I was breathtakingly in awe!
I went when it was cheap too... off-peak season... hehehe...
I had an awesome time staying there.
 

This is a picture of us having dinner in Herbs restaurant, Rotorua.
During my time in Rotorua, I explored the town, visited retaurants & also went to the Mamaku Blue Winery.
You can read my reviews of this restaurant as well as the others I visited at dineout.co.nz.
The Mamaku Blue Winery was slightly dissapointing. There as nothing special there. Some plants should have been planted to make the place look more attractive. It was a large estate with a small shop at the entrance selling the produce of the farm. They have got jam, jelly, juice, wine, liquer, ice cream & etc. All at premium prices. I got some jam for my family in Malaysia.
 

Finally, the highlight of my trip!
The Polynesian Spa is one of the top 10 spas in the world. Therefore, it is a natural choice for a first & last time traveller like myself.
The exterior of the building looks very good. It does make me want to go in for a soak. However, after exploring the different rooms in the building, the age of the building & the furniture becomes very obvious. They were somewhat worn out and in need of replacement or refurbishment.
Even though the asthetics were not pleasing, the hot spa did not dissapoint.
We were there in the late afternoon as the sun was setting. We took the "Lake Spa Deluxe" that overlooks Lake Rotorua &, at that time, the setting sun. The sky was a breathtaking blend of colourful shades! The view from the hot spas were magnificent. Enjoyed sitting in the exceedingly hot but somehow comforting water and staring into nothing...
Do becareful when you are in a hot spa though. Your body will slowly dehydrate. You will also feel light-headed after soaking too long. Have regular drinks of water and don't sit with your body in the water too long.

My Ski Trip

Photo taken from groups.northwestern.edu

I planned for a ski trip during the last weekend of my holiday. However, as I got closer to the date, I found that I needed the weekend to complete my assignment & do well in it.
I had to make an important choice. Assignment or ski trip.
In the last minute, I chose to cancel the trip, lose my deposit and concentrate on my assignment. I think it was worth it because the extra time helped a lot. I hope the result turns out ok...
IT'S MY MOST EXPENSIVE ASSIGNMENT EVER!!!

2 Week Holiday Reflection

It was a good holiday with lots of relaxing, some academic work & some travelling. Going on the Rotorua trip was a good call and I had my first spa experience. Miyabi was a great companion too!
I'm glad I finished my assignment but I'm sad to miss the best ski period of the year. Spring is here & soon the snow will melt away. Uni has started so I don't have time to go. However, I believe I will have the chance to ski again in the future!

**Looking forward to a good remaining two months in Wellington!**

Wednesday, August 22

Materazzi Finally Reveals Zidane Headbutt Insult

During the 2006 FIFA World Cup Final in Germany between France & Italy, an incident occurred where legendary French footballer Zinedine Zidane was sent off with an immediate red card following his headbutt of Italian defender Marco Materazzi. This occurred after both players exchanged a few words.

There has been a great ammount of controversy regarding the discourse that occured because neither men revealed what was really said. Various newspapers even hired lip readers to find out what was really said. There was never anything concrete because different lip readers would interpret different things.

Zidane said that it was an insult to his family while Materazzi only revealed that it was an insult & appologized. Only recently was the truth disclosed! As publicity for his autobiography, Materazzi revealed that he has recorded the incident in his soon to be published book. A news report tells us the whole story...

Materazzi was tugging on Zidane's shirt while defending as a normal defender would. After that, Zidane looked Materazzi snobbishly from top to bottom and said that if he wanted his shirt so much, he can have it after the game. Materazzi responded by stating he would rather have Zidane's whore of a sister. A headbutt followed.

The story is finally told!
Check out the headbutt again! Priceless!

Thursday, August 16

Arise Church Camp 2007

One week ago, from the 10th to the 12th of August, I took part in the 2 days 2 nights 2007 Church Camp run by Arise Church Wellington. The guest speaker for the camp was Pastor Phil Pringle of Christian City Church in Australia. The church he leads has got a great vision to build 1000 churches with an average of 500 people all over the world. After listening to him speak, I find that he is a great speaker with profound understanding of God's character.

He spoke about the 7 keys of faith during camp. What struck me most from what he said during camp was what he said about God's perspective on time and God's desire to give us our heart's desires. He used a simple illustration with his hands to describe how God views time in an individual's life. I will attempt to illustrate it with this picture.

God views you life like that. He sees the whole thing at once. He knows the start of your life until the end of your life. So if God declares you a warrior when you are weak & timid, like what he did to Gideon (Judges 6:12), he is not being false. This is because he sees your begining, your present & your future. Therefore He does not lie when He says you are healed when you are sick or injured. Nor does He lie when He calls a prostitute pure & loved by Him. How amazing is this God...

Ps. Phil also illustrated something that echoes with something that has been in my heart for a long time. God looks at our heart and one of the reasons for doing so is to grant us our heart's desires. He does not respond to need. He responds to desire. Ps. Phil illustrates this by describing his family. Every morning when his children wake up, they don't say, "thanks daddy for this bed we slept on, this selter we safely sleep under and the wonderful shower & toilet provided for us". And when the get to the kitchen they won't say, "oh, wow, we get cereal and milk too?!" God knows our needs and we need not worry whether He will meet it (Mat 6:25-34)!
One day while walking past a surfboard shop with his son, he noticed his son drooling over the surfboard on display. After looking at the price tag, he drags his son away from the shop. But secretly returns later to buy the surfboard for his son. When he brought it back to his son, the boy got up, pointed at his father and said, "You the man." Like a generous loving father, God knows our desires and will supply them when we seek first his kingdom & his righteousness. (Mat 7:9-11, Matt 6:33)

Worship was awesome as usual. People were given a degree of freedom during worship. You can jump around, clap, dance and make loud singing/cheering noises. I did all of that... so did most of the congregation.
We are not dancing for the band nor are we worshipping the music. The worship team only leads us in worship. Never should they take the place of God. Nor should the music take the place of God. It is a medium of worship. We sing those songs because the lyrics relate to us and what we want to say to God. We were lost but now is found and given a great vision for the future! We are also given time in between songs to sing our own songs to God.

One of the highlights of camp was the Talent Quest. Frank Hsu (Taiwan) & I, Jarod Yong (Malaysia) was given a mandate by Grace Zhang (China & Korea) to produce rap lyrics for a 3 minute & 16 second beatbox of Johann Pachelbel's Canon in D. The video for the beatbox is quite impressive.



Here is the video to our rap act. Even though there were some technical problems that hampered our presentation, like the volume being too soft, the mike not functioning & the time limit. We had a great time performing & our energy was awesome! We had a supportive crowd too! Check it out! =D



Arise Church Camp rocks!
We get to have a good time & spend time away from it all seeking God!

Monday, August 13

Negarakuku

namewee (明志) recently posted a song he created based on the Malaysian national anthem on the internet and recieved great criticism from the Malaysian media. While doing the research on the negarakuku song, I found that the national anthem could be based on the tune of Mamula moon.

The Malaysian media claims that he has insulted nation, race, religion and might have even broken some Malaysian laws. His response on his blog was an apologetic one trying to get people to understand that his song was not created to insult the nation. Read it by clicking here.

I don't think people should be insulted by his form of statement of fact. Among the issues brought up are the traffic policeman who are corrupt, government workers who are lazy, Azan singers who go out of tune, Malays who abuse government support & systems where a single race is favoured more than others.
These people should not feel insulted. They should admit to what they are doing and seek to improve themselves. I dont like police who ask for bribes, government workers who make people wait unnecessarily, Malays who abuse the benefits they receieve from the government & people who do things unfairly. And neither should anyone else. These people will have to improve one day, why not make it today?

We have to put these issues into prespective as well. Not all policemen are looking for bribes and I know that the government under Badawi is working hard and having a good level of success in crubing this form of corruption. Also, not all government workers are slow and uncaring towards the waiting public. However, there is much to be improved here. Furthermore, Azan singers rarely go out of tune. There is great training & screening before someone is allowed to sing for the public. Furthermore, the singers I have heard so far have not. I also know of Malays, Chinese & Indians who are able very passionately patriotic and willing to pay back the benefits they recieved and serve the country. I can also understand the governments tendancy to give more support to the Malays because of their lower income & higher population. Hopefully, once the race matures & becomes prosperous, the government will support other communities.

This is probrably the publicity he has been looking for since he started writing songs!
The attention from politicians may also be due to the new elections coming up!
Your song is truly like a durian, it can be very smelly and also very fragrant at the same time.
Awesome work of art!

Check it out the video & tell me what you think.

Sunday, July 29

The Rainbow After The Storm

Photo by Tom Eklund taken from this website.

みやびさん,
Your voice is like sweet honey
it fills my soul with a resonating sensation
Your laugh is like a refreshing breeze
it lifts away all the heaviness in my heart

Your happiness is a revealing taste
of what God's purpose is for me in this life
Your perfect in all you are the way you are
みやびとしあわせですよ

Thursday, July 19

koko' on Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

For those of you who don't know about Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan...
Good for you...
I had high expectations for this film because I greatly enjoyed Sasha Baron Cohen's Ali G film, Ali G Indahouse. I was really excited about the Borat film & went to watch it as soon as it came out paying full price for the movie.

However, after sitting through this film, I deeply regreted & felt like I wasted my time & money. I did find it funny but it's just that somehow I did not enjoy it that much.
My favourite joke is the joke about his retarded brother. The picture below is a snapshot of the joke.
hehe... it caught me off guard... I laughed my head off..

If you enjoy low-level homour or the most basic kind of jokes in society (for example, sexual jokes & jokes from just being plain dumb or daring), this film is for you.
On the other hand, if you enjoy a view of America at it's most extreme, this is also the film for you.
Borat pushes the Americans to the edge with his apparent zero knowledge of the American culture & in doing so brings out the best/worst in them.
Some of them responded very well but not all do.
Some of the people who responded well were the driving instructor & the christians at the meeting.
Those did not respond so well to Borat includes the panel of feminists & the rodeo show spectators.

I thought the christians at the Pentecostal camp meeting responded very well to a dirty homeless-looking foreigner speaking with a strange accent. In a country paranoid of terrorist attacks, they supported him even though his outward image resembled a muslim (as commented by the manager of the rodeo show). They looked for his heart and found that he was a human being who was hurt & needed love to heal. They held his hands, prayed with him & blessed him.

I'm also glad that during worship, the christians were shown to have the freedom to jump, dance, sing & ran around the place to their hearts content. Not many places let you persue your heart's good desires. Most require some form of control & protocol even in good things like praising God. However, as a human being, if you want to praise a God that has done so many good things for you, you don't stay silent... You wana jump around, dance & shout, "THANK YOU, GOD!! THANK YOU, GOD!!"

Furthermore, I'm sure he did not walk down to the front or join hands in prayer without consenting. He didn't look like he was forced into it... He just looked confused... Just like many of us will be when we first encounter such actions that appear strange & stupid...
but once we realise its beauty of meaning & its purpose for liberating...
it will be the best thing we have ever decided to do in our very short lives.

To finish this post, I found this video on youtube that concludes the film very well. Enjoy!
JenKui

Monday, July 16

Hidden From You

Behold, thou art my sweet
Gentle, soft yet incomplete
from thy head unto thy feet
Oh, how I long for us to meet

As I lay in disarray
Finding circumstance in our way
Our hustling and bustling everyday
Oh, how I long to go away

Just for a day or even two
Finding isolation plus inclusion too
Dancing about to our lovers' tune
Oh, how i long for this to be true

Behold, open your heart and see
Engaged as i am found to be
in my heart thou art constantly
Oh, how i long for you and me

Painting by Pamela Williams taken from allposters.com

Friday, June 29

3 Monkey's North Island Trip

Just like the South Island trip, the North Island was awesome!
And just like the South Island trip, the North Island trip had only 3 monkeys.
Nesa, Guna & Myself.
We were 2 man short but not 2 short of creativity & fun!

We drove around most of the locations in the North Island and had a peak at almost everything.
Here are the highlists in our 8 day trip...

~~~~
Day 1: Hawke's Bay

We rented a Nissan Pulsar GTI from NZ-Rent-A-Car for NZ$54 a day (including $10 insurance).
The owner of the Wellinton branch is a nice Malaysian Indian man from Seremban.

Our highlight for our first day was the Church Road Winery, Napier.
Church Road is one of the well known & popular New Zealand wineries.

We signed ourselves up for a winery tour at NZ$10 each.
We were shown around the winery & told about the wine making process.
We were also told a little bit about the history of Church Road.

During the tour, we learnt that the wines produced in New Zealand in the year 2007 will be the best ever! So look forward to its release next year!

At the end of the tour was a wine tasting session.
We were given the opportunity to taste almost every type of wine by Church Road. From Chardonay to Sémillon & standard wines to Reserves, it was a new & interesting experience!
At the end of the tour, we were given a 10% discount on the purchace on every wine except the special Tom wine.

~~~~~
Day 2: Rotorua, Tauranga & Taupo

Our next highlight was the Wai-O-Tapu, 20km from Rotorua.

It was the first time I ever saw a geyser erupt!


**WARNING: Large Video File Size**
The Lady Knox Geyser is artificially made to erupt at 10:15am every morning by the introduction of soap! Nice!

For NZ$25 per Adult we bought tickets to enter the thermal wonderland.
(There is
a 10% voucher on their website for the entrance tickets.)
The walk was both very interesting & beautiful!
There were pools of boiling mud as well as pools of strange coloured water in various combinations of yellow, orange, green & blue.


Next was The Honey Hive, Taupo.

It was a place where we could purchase all sorts of bee related products, like wax & honey. The best part about this place is the authentic & actually functioning bee hive on display. You can see the bees moving in and out of the hive!
There is also a free tasting of the many types of honey sold here! Yum! Rata Honey was my favourite.

~~~~
Day 3: Waitomo, Hamilton & Auckland

The highlight of our third day was Rap Raft 'n' Rock, Waitomo.
 

 
With a young Australian man as our guide, we plunged into the glow-worm caves of Waitomo for a good underground trek.
 

Once we turned off our flashlights, the gentle blue glow of the worms started to fill the cave ceiling. Beautiful... just beautiful... ahhh... feels like I'm gazing towards the wonderful night sky...

~~~~
Day 4: Paikia, Cape Reinga & Auckland

The next highlight is Cape Reinga, the Northernmost tip of New Zealand!
The journey there was a horrendous long drive on rough terrain and direct sunlight; but it was well worth it!
In Cape Reinga, there is a lighthouse and, similar to the Southernmost tip of NZ, there is a signboard showing the direction and distances of several international landmarks (example: the equator & Tokyo).

We arrived at sunset where everything was glowing wonderfully.
It is a very beautiful location with views of majestic beaches & sand dunes.

We took many picures of landscape and of each other.



**WARNING: Explicit Language Use**
This is occasion is also marks a significant point of our lives here in NZ.
We opened a bottle of Johnny Walker: Green Label we have been saving for such a moment since the beginning of our time in NZ.


The journey towards Cape Reinga might have been tediously slow...
But the journey home was more eventful... hehe...
Checkout a highway of NZ in this video.

~~~~
Day 5 - 7: Auckland

We cut our trip short & spent the rest of our days in Auckland because Guna had an exam.
Nesa & I spent the time well by exploring this city & its various subrubs...
We went into various shops & restaurants.
And we saw lots and lots of yellow people.
All the while, I was looking out for the highly regarded & well reputed pretty yellow girls of Auckland. There were many well-dressed yellows chicks around the city... but they dissapointed me because they did not have what i was looking for... a pretty & sweet face.
(When I returned to Wellington, I took a look around my city & was greatly delited! Wellington has got better yellow chicks than Auckland! This is especially true in my sweet wasabi.)

A great place for Dim Sum or what is more locally known as "Yum Char" is Great Harbour Chinese Restaurant, located in Auckland central.
It is a little pricy but the buns, dim sum & dessert are the best I have ever had!
 

A really special place in Auckland for me is the newly opened Ramen Daikoku.
One night, it was chilly and windy in Auckland, that made me hungry for some ramen. Walking on the streets of Auckland central, we went into the first shop with the word ramen in its name.
Right after entering this shop, we were greeted by R&B music from a local radio station that only plays that genre & they kept playing our favourites throughout the night... AWESOME!
The ramen was good but somehow felt a little overpriced even though it was not pricy. I actually enjoyed the music more than the food & had a greatly pleasurable time largely because of the great music & decor.
 

We also visited The University of Auckland.
Did not find much to be interested in at the university. Nothing unique about the architecture. It just looked like buildings common to a city, unlike Victoria Universiy of Wellington which is beautifully perched on a hill.
However, it is the number one university in NZ & one of the top 50 in the world. Awesome work, Aucks!
~~~~
Conclusion


Here are some things we had to say about the trip. Taken impromptu on Cape Reinga.

For me, it was an awesome trip especially because of the time spent with my 2 good friends, Guna & Nesa... Good times.

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