Thursday, December 29

An Early Happy New Year!

taken from mylot.com
Bad news. Dear colleagues, there is no internet at school.

If there is no internet at school, I will have to access it in Sibu or Song.
I do not plan to spend the weekend away from school until at least a fortnight so if the internet is not fixed by then, I won't be on FB or my blog. There will be absolutely no way to communicate with me whatsoever.
If I was eaten by a crocodile, nobody would know for 2 weeks until I update my status or blog about it.

I R Chief!
I will be going back to my ulu school earlier than most to prepare for the coming year. I need to check on the hostel repair works & prepare the paperwork for the hostels as I am the Chief Warden.
The prefects are coming back on 1 Jan so I want everything planned & ready for their execution before then.

I have a very good feeling about next year because the new F5 students show tremendous potential. Hopefully, with my capable team of wardens, we can mould them into student leaders.
Though they come from poverty & lack exposure, I believe they are meant for great things.

taken from olaabdolhai.blogspot.com
For those of you who are in the know, I'll also be spending my birthday in my ulu school.
For 2 years, I had to go to school the day AFTER my birthday which was already a real big bummer but, this time, I'm going back BEFORE so no words can describe how big a bum this one is.
No cell coverage so don't waste your time texting or calling. Just send me a flying kiss or, even better, BLESS ME WITH PRAYER.
No internet so I wont be able to thank the once-in-a-year well-wishers on FB or on my blog.

I'll be celebrating my birthday & the new year with a very special someone in school this Saturday. I'll blog about it in time & you'll also get to know this person whom I spent a lot of money to get to my ulu school.

Talking about stuff I want to blog about... There's so much!
My Singapore trip, the rest of my Kapit run, me in fashion contacts &, not to forget, there's a new series I'm going to start writing about. Look out for those soon!

taken from aquilogy.net
To my parents & siblings, I love you & thanks for making my 2 week break a good one. I really appreciate you guys even though we are not perfect but we make do with what we have.
To all my greatest friends out there, I love you & thanks for being there whenever I call or need you. You guys are the best support system I have & it's too bad I cant access you guys in the ulu.
To all my awesome friends out there, let's be an inspiration to each other!
To all my students, you're the reason I exist. I'll try not to be so hard on you this year... TRY.
To all my colleagues, let's get down & get jiggy wit' it!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Thursday, December 22

A Singaporean Christmas

taken from mike2.com
I'll be in Singapore for the Christmas weekend.
Sorry to all my friends & family who hoped to party with me on Christmas eve.
Maybe next year, okay?

I'll be exploring the infamous Christmas wonderland transformed Singapore.
Hopefully, I'll meet a hot chick or two. **fingers crossed**
Definitely will NOT be shopping... I hope.

Have a good one everyone!
Remember that Christmas was brought to us through the sacrifice of one man & it made all the difference.
Merry Christmas!
=D

Sunday, December 18

SBPA: Now Every Civil Servant Can Be Rich... er!!

The way this transition to SPBA was handled, kind of feels like a get rich quick scheme. They promise you the moon (naik gaji up to 40%, kenaikan gaji tahunan up to RM300 & it's apparently the best in the world), they rush you (15 days), they offer you high returns that are not guaranteed (no official jadual gaji released to date) & refuse to give you details besides big nice sounding words or bombastic acronyms because it's "sulit".

These ivory tower policy makers either think that we do not have any other choice or they're afraid too many people will sign up. Anyway, they spent RM2bil on SPBA. Imagine the zeros.
One of them gives it to us straight. We never force you. You want, you sign la. Not happy, don't sign la.

Back in 2002, when people had to decide on SSM, they were given 30 days to do so. I think this should be the minimum because they had to decide on their long-term financial future. They probably had to discuss it with their families & think it through calmly too.
It was also done in October when everybody would still be at work. Doing it during the last 2 weeks of December, somehow reflects the last minute rush everyone is too familiar with back in uni. Not to mention the worry & frustration caused to officers working in the interiors who are away on holiday. It's the Christmas break for God's sake!

Well, it is not my place to talk about people with power. I have to menurut perintah & you know what they say about power...
I just hope that when whoever is reading this, rises to a position of power, do not forget the plight of the lowly minions like me.
If you want to screw us over, at least do it with a smile & leave us thinking that we're getting a great deal. We actually have brains so you'll have to try harder than promises & mystery gifts.

SBPA (Saraan Baru Perkhidmatan Awam) for Teachers
Here is what I've learned with whatever scraps I could find.
Do take note that I am not an expert from JPA. I am just as confused as you are but I might be slightly more intelligent & possibly possess superior Internet & social skills.
**I may update this post as new information becomes available. Updates will be labelled.**

taken from The Malaysian Insider
I bet you skipped past this wonderfully concise graphic summary of SBPA, didn't you?!
Go back & read it, you lazy bum!
Whatever is already mentioned above I will not explain again because it's the typical sugar coated inspirational writing with low-frequency pompous vocabulary that looks beautiful on paper & is yet to prove itself in application thing we are so familiar with on the ground.

Different Circular Number for Education Dept (DG)
Before we begin, let me clarify that there is a special circular on SBPA just for education officers (DG): PEKELILING PERKHIDMATAN BILANGAN 13 TAHUN 2011
For the others: PEKELILING PERKHIDMATAN BILANGAN 11 TAHUN 2011
Always check the first page & keep this in mind when signing the SPBA forms because they are different!

Teachers are Pegawai Perkhidmatan Pendidikan (PPP)
All teachers are now classified as PPP under SBPA.
Used to be PPPS (Degree) & PPPLD (Diploma) under SSM.

No More Hakiki, KUP or Cemerlang.
All will be either Guru Biasa (DG1-1 & DG1-2), Guru Kanan (DG1-4 & DG1-5), Guru Wibawa (DG1-6) or Pendeta Guru (Khas).
However, you can still up your grade based on kecemerlangan tanpa mengisi kekosongan jawatan. Probably means, there will still be a Guru Cemerlang programme but it will be integrated into the new SBPA pay system instead of being something 'special' like it is under SSM.

The 3 Types of Gaji & Their Annual Salary Increments (KGT)
1. Gaji Single Point > Kumpulan Premier
frasa 36: "Gaji Single Point adalah diperuntuk bagi jawatan KPPM (Ketua Pengarah Pelajaran Malaysia)."
This dude will be assessed with KPIs & will get the best deal of all. He wont be reading this so I wont waste my time. Anyway, there is no information on his increments.

2. Gaji Minimum-Maksimum > Kumpulan Pengurusan Tertinggi
frasa 43: "Jadual Gaji Minimum-Maksimum adalah diperuntuk untuk Jawatan Utama / Gred Khas di bawah Kumpulan Pengurusan Tertinggi PPP seperti di Pekeliling Perkhidmatan Bilangan 12 Tahun 2011."
This group will get increments of 5% (Menepati Sasaran), 10% (Melebihi Sasaran) and 15% (Melebihi Sasaran Signifikan) based on their assessment results.

3. Gaji Sebaris > Kumpulan Pengurusan & Professional serta Kumpulan Pelaksana
frasa 60: "Gaji Sebaris - JGS adalah dibentuk bagi menggantikan JGM (Matrix aka. 3 tangga) sedia ada turut terpakai bagi PPP."
Unlike SSM, annual increments for this group under SBPA is fixed based on your grade.
Exp: DG1-1 has an annual increment of RM225 every year.
All you have to do to qualify is receive at least 70 points in your LNPT annual assessment. If you get less than 70 for 3 straight years, you will be vetted & probably given early retirement.
You know what that means! Oh, my nose so BROWN!

Higher Salary Ceiling Under SBPA
select 'view image' to view a larger image
There used to be a problem of officers reaching the salary cap for their grade & getting increasingly frustrated at not being able to naik pangkat & enjoy annual increments. Not anymore!
Now we have more time to sit in the office, enjoy the air-con & eat kuih until pencen! WOO!

WTH is Jumud?
You will find this low-frequency word used very frequently in the circular.
Check it out in Google Translate.
Okay, now I'll give you the meaning according to SBPA:
Dijumudkan = Dihapuskan = Removed

How Will They Calculate My Pay Under SBPA?
Firstly, your basic salary on 31 Dec under SSM will be increased by 1 step on 1 Jan. Then, it will be matched with the equivalent under SBPA (usually a higher number). FURTHERMORE, you will then receive another increment under SBPA for 2012.
Meaning, you receive two increments in 2012 for accepting SBPA. One under SSM on Jan 1 & another when you reach your Bulan Gerak Gaji under SBPA.

Exp: Me.
Dec 31 > DG41 P1T6 = 2148.10
Jan 1 >    DG41 P1T7 = 2238.55
               DG1-1 T3 = 2375 (SPBA Equivalent)
               DG1-1 T4 = 2600 (My NEW Basic Salary under SBPA)

**17:19 22/12 Update**
THIS IS NOT FAIR!!! I am paid the same as those who came a year after me. What gives?
Apparently they are going to balance it by giving the more senior ones an earlier Tarikh Kenaikan Gaji (TKG) & the juniors a later TKG.
Let's say I am the most senior in my SBPA tangga gaji. When I get into SBPA, my TKG will be Jan while my 1 tangga gaji lower (SSM) junior will get it on the next TKG which is in April & so on.

TKG: Jan, Apr, Jul or Oct.
Based on the above, my actual TKG will be in April.

Tangga Gaji Guru Under SBPA
The Holy Jadual Gaji & Details On The Fastest Time-Based Route Upwards
Here's what you've all been waiting for & the BIG SECRET that nobody wants you to know & they'll psycho you during the taklimats asking, "kamu percaya kah? percaya kah dari internet ni?"
F them. What have you got to lose by arming yourself with some inaccurate knowledge with a JPA logo on the PPT slide & dream about how you're going to squander all of that tax-payer's money?

SO MANY FORMS!!! Which Forms Do I Use?
Based on your situation, you fill in F & one of the other forms.
You may leave some of the details blank because your KJ is supposed to fill them in anyway. Just sign & post. Esp if you live far away from where you work.

You have 11 more days to hand in the forms (deadline 30 Dec). Though, in reality, the time you have de facto is shorter because your school has to process the damm paperwork & key in the details online before a specific date.
**22:53 26/12 Update** The due date to sign up for SBPA has been extended to 15 January 2012.
However, the due date for the Opsyen Umur Persaraan Paksa (Form F) remains at 30 Dec.

You can download circular #13 for teachers here. The forms will be at the end of the PDF file.
DO NOT ASK ME WHAT PDF IS. I will stab you. Seriously.

F: Opsyen Umur Persaraan Paksa
EVERYBODY MUST FILL THIS ONE. 2 copies.
Tick & sign whether you want to keep teaching even when you move slower than a crawling toddler, your teeth & hair are falling out, you have trouble getting it up & your grandchildren are in your classes.
**21:49 19/12 Update** You don't have to retire at 60 to qualify for SPBA. You can get SBPA even though you wish to retire at 58.

G: Skim Perkhidmatan yang Digabung, Dinaik Taraf, Penarafan Semula atau Pemansuhan Fungsi
Most of us would fall into this category if you have been "Sah". 2 copies.
Many schools have asked their teachers to fill in this form.
**20:55 19/12 Update** If your grade is listed here, fill this form.

H: Jawatan Jumud Sebelum Pelaksanaan SBPA & Dihapuskan Jawatan (Pegawai yang Telah Memenuhi Syarat)
I have no idea who this is for but I filled it in anyway. Didn't want to travel all the way back into the jungle or waste my meagre salary on Pos Laju. 2 copies.

J: Jawatan Jumud Sebelum Pelaksanaan SBPA & Dihapuskan Jawatan (Pegawai yang Belum Memenuhi Syarat)
I think this is for those in the DC grade who have not been "Sah". 2 copies.

Further Reading
The SBPA is way bigger than the mere remuneration that I have so eloquently described in this blog post.
Do take some time off the year end break to READ. MALAYSIANS NEED TO READ MORE!

Subsequent Circulars Released After SBPA.
Program Bersepadu Potensi Dan Kompetensi (PROSPEK) - This is how you will be vetted if you want to naik pangkat.
Peperiksaan Perkhidmatan Awam - Not relevant to "Sah" teachers. Maybe for those who are not.
Program Transformasi Minda - Those of you who have not been to Khursus Induksi will have to experience this. I pity you. Though it does sound much nicer & will probably be more interesting?
Penganugerahan Pingat Perkhidmatan Cemerlang (PPC) Dan Pemberian Anugerah Perkhidmatan Cemerlang (APC) - This musical chair farce is taken to a whole new level. Now, you can calonkan someone to receive a medal from some big shot. Then, he will also receive a cert & RM1k cash as in APC.
**17:26 22/12 Update** Pelaksanaan Dasar Pemisah (Exit Policy) Dalam Perkhidmatan Awam -Very interesting & equally important. If you chose to ignore the others above, you must read this one.

SBPA PowerPoint Slides
I am in possession of 3 PowerPoint slides of information regarding SBPA for teachers.
Hot chicks can send me a flying kiss for a copy. Guys can just ask & get out of my sight.
Seriously, just send me a nicely worded email or, even better, LEAVE A COMMENT!

Thursday, December 8

koko's 2011 Kapit Run - Day 2

Day 2 - 5.30pm, Friday, 18 November 2011

Today, I donned my climacool armour, put on my trusty Asics boots & set out to explore the unknown lands beyond the mystic arc of which was etched this warning: "Selamat Datang ke Kampung Muhibbah Beleteh Kapit".
I saw it during Day 1, got very interested, but didn't have the time then.

Kompleks Kerajaan Negeri Kapit
another severely underutilised overly air-conditioned buildings built with an eye to the super distant future
On my way, I explored the commercial lots before stumbling upon a massive castle. It was the biggest in the land. A majestic green giant shining in the setting sun. All the tribal leaders have an office here. They have meetings here too.
Storm clouds were gathering so I admired the castle from afar & made haste on my journey.

At last, I arrived at Kampung Muhibbah Beleteh Kapit.
Most of the villagers were friendly. Most smiled at me while a few even greeted me. The local populace was a mixture of Malay, Iban & Chinese.
The children looked on curiously as I jogged past. They were probably used to seeing knights on horses instead of running around in designer shorts.

At the end of the road, I did not expect to find a river & a dangling imitation of LA's Golden Gate bridge hanging over it.
I loved to be on the narrow slightly wobbly bridge. It felt really secure with the waist-high metal fences on both sides.
Kampung Baru Kapit was on the other side & it was very similar to Kampung Muhibbah Beleteh except the former is bigger & has cute school-aged girls staring at me & excitedly calling me names like "Cikgu!".

view on the way back
At the end of the day, I clocked in another 1 hour of cardio & plenty of fun! My knee needed ice treatment again though...

Since we're talking about the area, let me share with you my experience with the eateries in the area.

Decent: 99 Seafood Cafe
I had Pork + Soya Sauce (Good) & Bitter Gourd + Salted Eggs (Decent) for less than RM15.
I think I would have had something more adventurous or unique had there been a less clueless waitress. She had no idea what the chef was capable of & would scoot off to the kitchen to check if such & such was available.
Still, quick service & the meal was decent.

There was a couple selling burgers there but as per usual in Kapit, the patty & bread let the burger down.
The burgers are not worth a try.

They serve Kampua noodles (haven't tried this) at night.
So if you have a craving for those (I don't know why you might), this is the place to go.

Decent: Restoran Bahagia
I had Pork Ribs King (Decent) & Stir Fried Kailan (Chinese Broccoli)(Good) for less than RM15.
Having dined at almost every restaurant in Kapit, I'd say this restaurant is up to the standard. The high attendance there on a Thursday evening indicates some quality there as did the excellently done simple stir fry I ordered.
Worth a try.
Recommended: Happy Garden
I had Pork + Lemon Grass (VERY GOOD) & Vege Soup (Decent) for less than RM20.
Pricier than other similar establishments but I'd say it's worth it. I've been here at least 3 times & I find the food here very palatable. Probably the tastiest Chinese cooking in Kapit!
Highly recommended!

Saturday, December 3

koko's 2011 Kapit Run - Day 1

select 'view image' to see the plan in more detail (2MB+)
A few weeks ago, I told a friend of mine: Once in a while, you've got to do something crazy to remind yourself that you are a living breathing human being. Not some robot doing the same old routine every day.

Since I have to be in Kapit for most of the next 2 weeks, why not make the best of it?
Do something out of this world yet constructive that can only be done here.

Well, I've decided to run every paved road in Kapit.
Don't think it's crazy enough? Take a good look at the map. MAGNIFIED.
I've drawn-out a plan & I'll stick to it unless there is bad weather or I'm left with only 1 leg.
If you're in Kapit, feel free to join me.

This is a monumental moment for me so I will share the story...
the story of koko's Kapit Run...
of 1 man in 1 town with 1 mission. (If you thought about 1Malaysia, like I know you did, you're a bloody moron.)

Day 1 - 5.30pm, Thursday, 24 November 2011

I set out for the Kapit stadium which is roughly a 10 minute jog away.
I have been doing the same thing for 2 weeks already & it was getting boring.
I'd jog to the stadium & around the track a few rounds like a clueless hamster before heading back & clocking in a 30 minute cardio.
There wasn't much to see & the stadium has seen better days.

My Starting Point
As I left the house, I thought to myself: Kapit is such a small place. I should really explore it on foot & see how much of it I can cover.
Agreeing with my bloody darn self, I nodded my head & instructed my feet to turn me around & jog down the other end of Beleteh Road.

On my way, I must have looked funny as I nodded to myself some more while thinking what a great idea this was. I decided to conquer every paved road in Kapit & claim my rightful place as King of the Road.
Not to mention, I'd get plenty of exercise & take in Kapit's hilly landscape.
I was also hoping to meet some hot chicks too but apparently hot chicks don't jog on the streets like this darned good-looking nut-case in shorts does.

On my way down Beleteh road, I saw some of Kapit's megastructures.

SMK Kapit No. 2
I honestly think that they should come up with a better name. This one just seems poorly thought over.
The Kapit Fire Station

The Land Survey Office
looks really good in their resort theme
The Kapit Clinic

Pier at the end of Beleteh Road

At the end of the road, I came across a concrete pier. At that time, there was a Hilux being unloaded from a small freight boat. I found out that the river was the Rajang River from a local woman who was out for a walk with her children.
(Coincidently, I met her again today (3/12) as I was about to pay for some diarrhoea medicine at a local pharmacy. She went on blabbering in Iban & Malay. I just smiled while working hard to hold it all in. Then, imagine my discomfort as, thanks to her, I had to talk about myself with the pharmacist after she left. My kegel muscles had quite an exercise today.)

Pond in an Industrial Area
Having finished the main road, I decided to go into the minor roads branching off Beleteh Road. The one nearest to the pier led to an industrial area. I could see thick black smog billowing out of the funnels of one factory. I felt my lungs wince at that sight.
As I continued to explore the area, I heard high frequency engine noises & I saw a crowd of people staring a pond. Could it be?
As I got closer, I saw remote control speedboats zipping through the water.
What a marvel! What a surprise! I never expected to find this!

Indoor Stadium & Public Swimming Pool
I went into the next branch which led towards the indoor stadium & public swimming pool before heading back home to the nagging of my aching right knee. I slapped it with a pack of leftover cocktail sausages from the fridge to shut it up.

Today, I jogged for about an 1 hour but it didn't feel that long because I saw another side of Kapit that I wouldn't be able to see speeding by in a car or a bike.
It was a great achievement for me & I was motivated to explore the other branches off Beleteh Road.

Friday, November 25

Pen-Pals for Mixed Proficiency Classes

I've always had an affinity towards handwritten words.
I esp love hand-written letters.
It is personal. It is finite. It is unique.
There is a distinct romance there that really moves & captivates me.

By forgoing the ease of more modern means, it really communicates the heart of the person for actually arching uncomfortably over a table & torturing their hands in creation of the letter.
I feel as if someone is giving a small amount of his/her life to me on a piece of paper.

I believe that a deep connection via letters would really benefit my students & motivate them to learn the English language.
Last year, I played around with this idea by connecting my Form 1 students with a class of average-proficiency Primary 6 pupils in a SJK(T) Primary School in KL through their English teacher.
This year, I connected the same class (now in Form 2) with a class of high-proficiency Form 4 students in SMK Puteri Titiwangsa, KL, I taught during my practical. This time it was through a student rep & not a teacher.

My students really enjoyed writing, reading & esp receiving those letters.
They would always ask me when the new batch of letters would arrive & watch with glee every time I opened a package.
They'd give their pen-pals simple gifts like cute pens, key-chains & handicraft.
I believe they had a very meaningful experience.

However, there were some drawbacks:
1. Some pen-pals did not reply or did so half-heartedly.
Without the imposition of a teacher, some of the pen-pals did not bother to reply or write a good reply. Several of my students would often get extremely short replies informing them that their pen-pals were busy. Some would not get replies at all!
Are these KL students so caught up in their own worlds that they do not have just 1 hour to spare on an extremely meaningful letter to a less-fortunate child?
Next time I do this, I must involve a teacher.

2. Replies were very late.
I was able to force my students to reply within a week of receiving replies. However, the replies would only be received after 2 or more months.
Imagine the wait of my students & the lost time. Sometimes I told my students to write letters even when there was no reply.
Again, a teacher would increase the frequency of the letters.

3. Students copied/adapted from each other.
As should be expected from weaker students, some of them adapted the work of other students which was fine by me.
However, one student copied an exact letter of a classmate TWICE! I made him redo both letters.
The teacher must read students' work to avoid such instances as well as to avoid any inappropriate content.

I think this pen-pal idea was a resounding success. My students enjoyed it & it got them to use the target language in a meaningful manner.
Some of the pen-pals (those who really put their hearts into their letters) expressed their delight too.

I shall do this again next year with a school closer to mine.
I'm thinking SMK St. Elizabeth, Sibu, or one of the top schools in Miri.
Any teachers want to offer their classes?
Anyone have a suggestion for improvement?

Here are some students I would like to appreciate for playing a role in the Pen-Pal Project this year:
Stephanie Khor (Student Rep), SinYan, Violacea, Fatin Nadhirah, Natasha Eliyana, TzeYen, JiaYi, XinRo, JoeLynn, ManDee, SukKei, KarKee, Angela Tan, XingYi, Evelyn Lee, Faten Amira, Hazatul, EeMing, ZiShin, Neng Daris, Nor Maslina, Norasfarizan, Nur Hazimah, Nurizani Edora, Razrina Nazira, Shabrina, Syafiqah Rosli & Syarifah Jamiamirah.
You made a difference! =)

Friday, November 18

The Lytro Camera - Taking Living Pictures


Chech this video out it's a demo & introduction to the Lytro camera.
Believe me. YOU WANT TO SEE THIS VIDEO.

I've pretty much lost my patience in carrying a bulky DSLR around with me wherever I go & tired of getting suspicious looks from people.
For a while, I have been looking for a compact camera (since I don't have a phone camera & may not be getting a smartphone in 1-2 years). That's when I discovered the Lytro camera.

Don't like the shape. Don't like the colours.
It's a bloody ugly camera, I know. Bulkier than a phone in the pocket (but I guess it's made for school girls who carry handbags & update FB like every second).
But for RM1600 (US$499) or RM1300 (US$399), I can take pictures without the hassle of focusing or worrying about blurred/overexposed/underexposed/noisy images.
Image capturing is instant & I can focus AFTER taking the picture.

This is how the camera works: Instead of merely capturing the light that touches the sensor, this camera also captures the direction this light comes from. This allows calculation of where the light will be if the sensor is moved forwards or backwards: thus, the post-shot focusing.
Fascinating, isn't it?

Here are the drawbacks.
The picture resolution might be low: meaning smaller pictures only worthy of FB/personal viewing.
Apple like business model: meaning everything is centralised. Lytro pictures are edited & shared through the Lytro website via flash. No mention of whether the pictures can be edited locally on a computer.
It is currently only available for MAC users & only in the US but such a revolutionary piece of technology will pretty soon be available all across the world. They're also working on a windows version.

Once it is out next year, I'll wait a while for people to try it & share about it on the net before I decide on getting one.
Besides, the technology might still be too young to be worth the hefty price.

Meanwhile, this year's expansion to my photographic repertoire will be a speedlight. I've been wanting to get one for a long time. It will probably help me take better pictures.
I complain about bulk & yet I'm going to add even more bulk to my DSLR by purchasing the Nikon SB-900 speedlight at RM1600 (US$495).
Will look for it cheap when I'm in Singapore this Christmas! =)

Thursday, November 10

The Flower

Scheduled at 11:11 11/11/11.
hahahahaha~~ I'm such a nerd.

Anyway, after reading the abysmal entries into the karya section of my school magazine by my best students, I wrote this poem to show them how it's done.
I actually wanted to write an adorable & interesting story but, at this time of year, I am far too buzy.
If this year's magazine were to be produced late, I might actually have time to slot one in & you'll be the first to read it here on my blog! =D

Anyway, enjoy this simple & short poem.
What am I writing about? Share your thoughts!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Flower
taken from monstergirlee.blogspot.com
There is a flower particular as can be
Not a flower you’d commonly see
She beams just like the sunlight
She warms the world just right

There is also a busy bee
From work be so weary
She’ll look into his eyes
And she’ll tell him no lies

They danced in lovely weather
It’s short their time together
A moment to remember forever
Depart he wished he’d never

Though the busy bee must go
Oh how he’ll miss her so
In time they’ll meet again
In meadows and summer rain

- Mr Yong, 2011

Monday, November 7

Lanjak Entimau Forest Reserve

After hearing countless stories from my fishing sifu, Wesley, about super gigantic rare fish catches in the Lanjak Entimau Forest Reserve & reading about it in a magazine article he wrote, I was really hoping for a chance to experience the deep forests, inner rivers & their life-threatening rapids for myself as well as take photos to remember it as a must-do-before-you-die once-in-a-lifetime activity.
Such high hopes & expectations were doomed to be torn down & trampled on esp when travelling in a large group & following the plans of other people.

It was 6-7 hours upstream to the forest reserve resort & 4-5 hours back.
The boatride was an adventure on its own. In the 6 / 4 hours, we experienced all the seasons of a tropical heaven: super sunny sunburning hot, heavy painful liquid droppings & cool cloudy goodness.
Let's not forget the welcoming splashes from the swollen debris-ridden milo river.

The resort was a pleasant sight to behold.
3 buildings set on a hillside: 1 was the reserve office while the other 2 were lodgings for visitors.
I was informed that the paint job was new. Previously, there was no paint & the buildings had beautiful natural tones of timber hardwood.
We lodged in the 2nd floor of the building on top of the hill. There were 4 rooms, 2 large common toilets, a large living area, balcony, kitchen & back-veranda. Very clean & well-maintained.
The guestbook reveals the frequent patrons: government servants, YBs, international travellers & esp Japanese scientists (looking for Godzilla?).

We had 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches & 1 dinner of a strict Yo's canned Chicken Curry + rice, Curry flavoured Maggie Mee & crackers diet until we found other sources of sustenance.
Every mouthful was pure mental torture & painful for the tastebuds yet tired bodies & empty bellies left little to fussiness. It was either eat or starve.
However, we had plenty of Cap Apek (the #1 alcoholic beverage of the locals) to put us out of our misery.

I expected everyone to do everything together but, the next morning, one group left to explore the inner parts of the river, another to fish around our area & our group was left at the resort to play poker cards until we realised that making such a long journey into the deep jungle just to sit indoors & play cards was plain idiocy.
We decided to commandeer a boat & do some exploring of our own despite protests of not having enough fuel for the return journey from the person who was supposed to take us out.
So the 2 other boats could burn fuel all day & yet we cant? Ridiculous! Shut up & go drink Cap Apek!
That's what he did while we took a boat out to find fern & fish just before lunchtime.

We didn't manage to catch any fish but another group did & we shared what we had during lunch.
We made Ikan Semah Pansoh (Semah fish cooked in bamboo), fish sup & stir-fry Paku Pakis (ferm). A welcome change from canned chicken curry & rice.

During the late afternoon, we went out again to enjoy the clear waters & rocky shores. We made the best of our time there & although I was deeply disgruntled & dissatisfied, I was glad to be able to spend a weekend with some of the best people from work.
These guys made the trip special. Looking forward to more trips with them in the future.

Meanwhile, I am determined to return to Lanjak Entimau next year with my sifu.
There was so much in-river that I missed: the water-sculpted gigantic rock formations, superfish & the goodness of being near the heart of mother nature.
I must return. I must.
When I do, it's not going to suck. In fact, it's going to rock.

Saturday, October 29

WTH?! Google Disabled My Account Last Night!!!

After getting back from a party with a few colleagues late last night, I sat on my hotel desk & looked up a few blogs I loaded up earlier.
I proceeded to comment on one of them and guess what I found out?
Google bloody disabled my ahkamkoko account!
If you checked out my blog today, you would have received a "Server Not Found" error. WTH?!!!

taken from videogamerrob.wordpress.com
This bird totally gets how I feel.
I had a lot of Carlsberg last night (FOR FREE!!! I've got great friends.) but I was able to muster every last neuron in my brain to stare through the haze & focus on the few words that matter: 'click here to contact us'.

I filled in a form where I had to fill in my google email, a contact email & a short description of what happened. I was mentally flabbergasted so I struggled in 3 sentences expressing my confusion at what happened & told them about this blog that I loved so much of which I have been actively maintaining for 6 LONG YEARS (since 2006)!!

Yeah, alcohol opens me up real easy. I get emotional & sensitive too.

I fell asleep before I could launch an angry bird at Google.
13 hours after that, I received this email.

This is as cordial as you're going to get from a major corporation.
They did not even bother to explain why they shut me down. Well, I'm just thankful that this master of the web has returned my breadcrumb to ease my unsatiable hunger for self-expression.

My Hypothesis: Why Goof-le Disabled My Account
I have a habit of reading blogs once a week.
I load all of them up at once. Then, I proceed to comment on each of them in succession.
This sudden surge of comments in a short frame of time might have ran a few red lights at Google Spam Police.
So they came to arrest my poor innocent account & put him in a cell until daddy here bailed him out.

I have mixed feelings about this.
On one hand, it's good to know that Google are taking measures against those annoying spammers who post comments pretending to be interested in what you're writing about when actually they're advertising some product or website.
On the other, I'm pissed off at being victimised without being compensated in anyway.

Won't leave Blogger though. We've been together so long (longer than Google) & we work well together.
F*ck Google.

Tuesday, October 18

Invigilating PMR @ SMK Kapit

For the past 2 weeks I was at SMK Kapit invigilating the PMR.
I worked with a really great team & an awesome Head Invigilator who took good care of all of us.
I made 2 good friends from SMK Song & took pictures with them.

I recently discovered an imitation of this picture made by a few F3 students from the said school.
They made a joke out of us & called us the 3 idiots but why did they go ahead & reproduce the same shot with similar effects? What does that make them?
A wise man once said imitation is the purest form of flattery. I have to agree. It's very adorable of them. =)

I stayed in Ark Hill Inn in a single room on the first night for RM45/night. Then, I moved into a 3 person room (1 Queen & 1 Single bed) with my 2 friends from SMK Song for RM75/night.
You must be wondering so I'll be direct. Okay, I slept with a married man. But that's it. No hanky panky involved.
The inn was clean, safe & the staff were friendly. However, an annoying stench of cigarette smoke would manage to sneak its way under our wet-toweled door & suffocate us every hour or so. This happened both when I was staying at the top level (single room) & the reception level (3 person room). This did not happen at a friends room in the middle level (double room).
We discovered that it was the staff smoking indoors (in their quarters at the top level & at the reception). This is totally unacceptable. I am not going back to that inn again.

We moved about in vans. You hop on & off it like you would a bus.
Most of the vans in Kapit are unmarked so it's hard to tell whether a van is personal or public transport. However, it never hurts to ask.
Just hail one as you would hail a taxi & it will usually stop if it is available.
The fare for a journey around town is RM1 as was the case for us moving from our lodging to the school. The further you go, the higher the fare but the fare rarely exceeds RM2.

The school was really hospitable.
Mr Kuek, the PK1, met us on our site visit & made us feel comfortable.
The SUP for PMR, Mr Wong, was exceptionally helpful as well. Everything was organised & ready for our arrival. They were also very willing to accommodate our needs & requests.
We were given breakfast & lunch every day. We were also allowed to freely use the school's photocopying & printing facilities. Very generous indeed!

During my visit to schools, I will always try to arrange an informal chat with the best students in the school. I met with the #1 & #2 students (both trial 8As) & discovered that good family background, peer support, personal discipline & ambition is inherent of a student who is excellent academically.
I esp wanted to chat with the best Iban students in the school (both trial 4As). However, they left me hanging & did not honour the meeting. Too bad. I really wanted to learn what it's like for them to come to school & how they managed to succeed in their own way.

I find listening to students very refreshing. They have a way of seeing things that I have forgotten in my pursuit of my personal goals.
What I've learned speaking to students over the years has helped me understand what is necessary for them to succeed academically & what motivates them.
I'm trying to incorporate this knowledge into my activities with my students & will continuously innovate. You'll be the first to read about my activities on my blog. =)

Food In Kapit
Over the 2 weeks, I've had the opportunity to dine at many establishments in Kapit.Here's my opinion of the food in town!

BAD: Chinese Dinner @ Ah Kau Restaurant
It was the worst & most expensive dinner we had in Kapit. The person taking our order was not hospitable at all. He was grunting & acting impatient while taking our order so the 5 of us only ordered 3 dishes (1 Chicken, 1 Pork & 1 Vege).
All the dishes had one flavour: excessively salty! The meal was so salty & Ajinomoto ridden, I was thirsty for the rest of the night & really uncomfortable.
The portions were large but so was the price tag. The meal with drinks cost us RM75!

BAD: Chicken Rice @ Soon Kit Cafe
I had a craving for good Chicken Rice so I scouted around a bit before stopping by Soon Kit Cafe.
Once I saw the person preparing the dish, I had a feeling it was going to be bad. I was right.
The chicken was dry & tasteless. Totally overcooked.
The rice was too wet. Either that or the rice was of poor quality.
The chilli complementing the chicken was also bland. Not spicy at all. It did not enhance the flavours.

I suspect that this is a case of business owner being successful & then getting lazy/greedy. They decide to leave the stall to an employee who follows instructions but does not care. Thus, the dish ends up bland & unpalatable.

The meal did not cost much though. I cant remember the exact price but I remember that it was around RM5 (drink inc.).

BAD: Orchid Steamed Buns @ Chop Chuong Hin Cafe
I love Chinese steamed buns & one morning I decided to find some in Kapit. I stepped into Chop Chuong Hin directly opposite the wharf.
The atmosphere of the shop was something to take in. It's like stepping into another era. I loved the experience.
There were Chinese cakes available but I did not sample those.

I ordered 2 Orchid Char Siew buns & coffee. Loved the coffee but hated the buns. The dough was good but the filling was disgusting. It was a reddish paste with very little meat & some jellyish thing inside. Next time, I'll go with traditional buttered toast.
Cant remember the cost but it was around RM5 (drink inc).

Orchid buns were once of exceptional quality. They were pricey but you were guaranteed satisfaction. Nowadays, it is still pricey but its ability to satisfy is questionable.
The cafe should switch to locally made buns which may be tastier & cheaper.

AVG: Kampua Noodles @ King Hung Cafe
Every morning we either had buns or kampua.
This was the place we had kampua. The kampua was pretty decent. Nothing to shout about but definitely good enough to merit coming back for several mornings in a week.
Cant remember cost. Around RM5 (drink inc.).

AVG: Baked Buns @ Ung Tong Bakery
This was the place we went to for buns in the morning. They had all sorts of buns; from Mexican buns to Garlic buns; most of them mildly sweet.
I don't like sweet stuff for breakfast so I went for the Garlic Bun & Mexican Bun.
The Garlic Buns were very savoury & had a generous spread of garlic on it. However, the buns did seem overcooked. It was somewhat tough but perhaps this is because it was made to be filling unlike the fluffy carbs common in many modern bakeries.
Cant remember cost. Around RM5 (drink inc.).

AVG: Curry Rice @ Far End Stall @ Open-Air Night Eatery
The Curry Rice from this stall came heavily recommended. Plenty of people have told me about this dish & every time I came around, it was out of stock. However, I managed to catch it one night.
It was a pleasant dish but I've had many curries in my life. I cant help but think that this is (in the words of a curry connoisseur I knew) a very Chinese curry. It's sweet, saucy & mildly spicy.
If you dont have curry very often or if you cant take spicy, you'll love it. If you like Indian curry, you'll hate it. I happen to love Indian curry. So, it's an average curry to me.
Cant remember cost. Around RM8 (drink inc.).

GOOD: Chinese Dinner @ Uncle Cinen Cafe
I'm a very picky eater so when I say this place is good. IT IS GOOOOOOOD!!
This place looks pretty common but the 4 dishes (2 Pork & 2 Vege) we ordered were excellent. Every one of the 5 of us were singing praises as we stuffed our faces.
The service was excellent as well. The owner even came down to chat with us & talk about her town.

The cost? RM50 (drinks inc). CHEAP!!!
Will definitely be coming back for more & recommending it to everyone!

GOOD: Street Burger @ Front Stall @ Open-Air Night Eatery
I am a big fan of the average Malaysian Street Burger.
It's like finding the perfect chick. There are so many types & shapes out there. One has to patiently search & make mistakes before discovering the perfect one.
I had the Beef Egg Cheese. They did not overdo the butter & the sauces were done just right to give the burger enough flavour & moisture to go down in a pleasureful gulp.
Forgot the price but I think it was RM5+ each. When you're there, check out the different selections & their prices on the menu.

I enjoyed my working visit to Kapit & am looking forward to returning again next month for the SPM invigilation at probably the same school (unconfirmed)!
Will take more pictures & scout for more good food while I'm there for a month! =)

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