Saturday, February 27

Put Your Hands Up If You Hate Bus Rides

taken from

I hate bus rides...
but I'm too much of a beggar to be able to choose something better.
Last Thursday, I had the worst bus ride ever from Sibu-Kuching (est 6hrs).
Have a read & cringe at the horrors I endured.

As I got on the bus & walked down the aisle, I discovered to my great chagrin that I got the back seat.
Those of you who have never taken a bus before (rich baskets!) would think that back seats are great because they're wider & they've got a good view.
NOT! Seasoned travellers like myself would beg to differ.
They actually put FIVE people in the back seat!
Talk about invasion of personal space!
And let's not discuss personal hygiene & pheromones.

I planned to pass the time reading but NOOOOOOOOOOOOO...
Why? Because I was seated in the back seat.
I totally felt every bump, lump, molehill & pothole on the bloody freaking lousy as road.
Imagine trying to read while you're bouncing up & down & the book you're holding in front of you is trembling away like a full-speed vibrator!
Not pleasurable at all!

So I decided to sleep the hours away but NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
Why? The bloody bus had no bloody curtains!
The only ones they had were those decorative ones with the annoying tassles that keep poking at the top of my head!
Imagine trying to sleep with the sun piercing through your eyelids. IMPOSSIBLE!
So I put on my sunglasses & tied the tassels into a knot hoping to find peace...

But NOOOOOOOOOOO it was so unbearably WARM!
It was the afternoon so the air-conditioning was not at it's best.
The sunlight coming in from the windows were not helping neither.
But the worst part is that the engine was right beneath my seat!
I could feel the heat through my seat!
Talk about being in the hot seat!

I sat there hoping for my trip to get over quickly but NOOOO...
The bus driver had to go everywhere & stop in the middle of nowhere.
It was as if he was making deliveries for the mafia or something.
He would stop about every half an hour & he'd take something from his bag & go outside for 5-10 minutes.
Eventually, my trip was delayed by 2 hrs.
Imagine that! Stuck for extended hours on an overloaded bumpy back seat & sweating away like a Peking duck.

As the hours went by, the sun got tired & decided to take a break.
He tagged the moon & the moon gladly took over for a while.
That was when the bus started to cool down.
Initially, the lower temperatures were a welcome relief.
Then, it went lower & lower & lower until it was unbearably cold!
Are there no temperature controls on buses?!!

Furthermore, there was this issue with a familiar hint of stink coming from somewhere on the bus.
It was a silent night & if I listened carefully, I could hear the sound of a splash every time the bus went up & down a bump.
During one of the stops, I noticed that next to the stairs going downward to the emergency exit was a door with the symbols for a lavatory.
**gasp** We were carrying a septic tank with us all this while!

At one point of time, the bus stopped for a few youngsters waiting along the road.
They found vacant seats together & the bus moved on.
They obviously got bored after a while because they started playing cheesy old school music really really LOUD!!!
You know, the kind of music you'd hear blasting at pasar malams or dodgy karaokes.
WTH, man? Does this bus belong to you?
There are at least 30 other ppl on the bus, dumb as!

As time creeps in a petty pace from hour to hour
The bus gets all so much lighter
The back seat losers depart asunder
I become the sole survivor

Though circumstance breeds dissatisfaction
A smart man comes not without preparation
Earplugs I have for the musical pandemonium
A jacket I wear for the chilly situation

I stretch my legs on the roof of the lavatory
Adjust my body to avoid a stinky epiphany
Looking outside into hours of fantasy
Dreaming dreams & making poetry
Feeling lonely & thinking of her

I drift slowly into gentle sleep
Without a worry in the world
Lying on the back seat
Maybe being a beggar isn't that bad after all

Saturday, February 20

You Can Help Me Choose!

I am very ambitious & my eyes are often bigger than my belly.
At this moment, I have too much on my plate & I need to downsize.
Initially, I set a goal to complete all 3 personal projects within this year alone.
On top of my daily huff & puff, I wanted to produce a School Magazine, a School Documentary & an Action Research.

However, after 1 month of teaching, I realised that this goal is a little too far fetched due the limited amount of resources I have to spare after taking into consideration the 'responsibilities' I have been given this year.
Doing only 1 fits comfortably into my schedule but I want to stretch my abilities.
Therefore, I have decided to choose 2 out of the 3.

The problem is they are all equally important & exciting to undertake so I just cannot decide which one to scrap.
This is where you come in.
Read about all 3 projects & help me choose which one to do.
The polls will run for 4 weeks from today.

School Magazine

Last year, I produced the Empurau 2009 school magazine. You can read about it by clicking here.
Even though I was a mere assistant, I was a one man show last year & had a terribly tough time.
Despite the obstacles, the magazine was completed & it was good.
God provided for me good friends who helped out & energy to slave long hours.
Without this assistance, I'd fall off the cliff of insanity & burn out.

This year is better. This year I'm the boss. This year I get to choose my team members.
So I chose the best teachers with complementing skills for the team.
We have divided the work accordingly & I have complete faith in our ability to produce an even better magazine this year.
God is good!

**Producing the 2010 Empurau magazine is compulsory so I will have to choose between the next 2.

Action Research

If you dont know what Action Research in Education is, please click here.
Early this year, I read about a Proactive Approach to Classroom Management, adapted it & started to put it into practice in my classrooms.
I have had some interesting observations which I have briefly noted down.
Last year, I was a very loud, aggressive & fierce teacher.
Misbehave & you'll be deaf for the next 5 minutes.
It was tiring & although students behaved, I was unsure if they were learning.

This year, I wanted to try a gentler approach.
Still assertive & teacher-centred but rarely loud & aggressive.
I want to help students choose between the desired action or a consequence.
This is also about keeping parents informed as well as setting up & enforcing a set of rules + consequences in the classroom.
It's all about preparing for all possible incidents in the classroom beforehand & then following through on a prearranged set of positive or negative consequences.

I will make personal observations, get other teachers to observe & note down their observations & thoughts as well as interview students on their preferences & thoughts.
I want to make it a respectable Action Research article with references & have it published.


taken from

My school is a unique specimen.
It is located deep within the interiors of the least developed part of Sarawak.
There is no road access to the school or to the nearest town. You need to take an express boat to the nearest town & then ride a sampan for 1 hour to get to the school.
The students come from actual longhouses in the forests & most of them have illiterate parents who couldn't care less about their academic achievements.

Despite the undesirable locality, lack of exposure, low expectations & little parental support, the school was able to achieve 100% pass rate (over 120 students) in the 2008 SPM examinations, be the #1 school in the division & rank within the top 50 schools in Sarawak.
The school has also got several state representatives in sports & continue to win an increasing amount of medals each year in intra-division competitions.

Not bad for a pendalaman school, eh?
How horrible are the living conditions actually?
How did the school achieve so much?
What are their secrets?
What can other schools learn from this school?

I want to answer all these questions and more in my documentary.
The documentary will be completely in English & will be kept to a maximum of 30-45mins.
I'm looking to complete it by the end of this year.
I want to make this an activity with students in the English Language Society.
It will be mailed to friendly schools & relevant government agencies.
It will also be available for public viewing on YouTube.

Saturday, February 13

Happy 2010 Chinese New Year

It's Chinese New Year & I do admit that as I grow older, I look forward to this celebration even more.
With each passing year, my reasons to celebrate stack up like wrinkles.
Call me old fashioned but I love returning home to my parent's house to have a reunion with my siblings.
Every time I return, they grow a little more &, one fine day, they will have flown the coop.

One particular highlight is going out as a family & visiting relatives during CNY.
I especially love visiting the older frailer ones who once played a part in the story of my life.
Every year, they turn greyer & greyer. It's as if a cold permanent winter is slowing setting into their lives.
They have very little time left in this world.
Is it too much to spend a just few minutes with them each year?

I love sitting next to them, looking carefully at them, touching their beautiful white hair, their lovely wrinkly skin, staring into those big blank familiar eyes & reminiscing the good old days when they were younger & stronger.
The little bits of memories we share will continue to live long after they've gone.

Remember your family members this Chinese New Year.
Blood is indeed the thickest.
Children, dont make such a big fuss when your parents make you go visiting with them on the first & second days of CNY
Get your priorities right. Family comes before friends.
Friends will come & go. But family will always be there whenever you need them the most.

On a lighter note, enjoy this CNY video from the infamous NameWee.

Friday, February 5

Where In The World Is SMK Katibas?

For those of you who are curious...
or maybe you're cursing your luck because you've just been posted to this school...
or maybe you're here to have a holiday while invigilating for our public examinations...
or maybe your a big shot official with a super secret mission to check out my school & it's the first time in your life you've ever heard of such a peculiar name...
or maybe you just don't care but had nothing better to do...

Well, whatever your intentions, here is a rough map of where SMK Katibas is as well as several other schools along the river (SK Nanga Nyimoh, SK Musah, SK Nanga Nansang, SK Nanga Janan, SK Lubok Bedil, SK Nanga Bangkit, SK Tan Sri Jugah, SK Nanga Engkuah & SK Lubok Ipoh):

How do you get to SMK Katibas?
First, you drive or take a flight or a bus ride to Sibu.
In Sibu, make your way to the Express Boat Wharf (near the Sibu Market).
Hitch a ride on an Express Boat that stops by Song on it's way to Kapit.
If there are no tickets left, you can choose to stand in the boat or sit on the stairs. Sometimes when it's really full, you will have to sit on the roof of the boat. You still have to pay though. When the conductor comes around, say "Song" & pay the RM17 fare (cheapest). It is a 2 hour ride.

What an express boat looks like. They can go really fast.
In Song, after getting off the Express Boat and climbing up the stairs at the wharf, turn around and take a look along the riverbed. You will see the Song Market nearby. After the market, you will see a boat jetty.
That is where you should go next.
In the mornings, there will be Passenger Boats that will leave the jetty at around 9.30am & enter the Katibas River. It will drop people off along the way. Let the driver know that you want to go to SMK Katibas & the driver will stop for you at the SMK Katibas jetty. The fare is RM5 to any destination along the Katibas river.
The Passenger Boats can be identified by looking for long boats with a canvas roof. They are the only ones with roofing. If you are still unsure, ask one of the locals about "Perahu Tambang".
All Passenger Boats cater to the Katibas River population so you can use any one of them.

What a longboat looks like when it's full of teachers & students heading back into the interiors.

The best time to take an Express Boat ride to Song from Sibu is before or at 7.30am.
This is because the Passenger Boats entering the Katibas river are only available at around 9.30am from Song.
Express Boats leave the Sibu from Song from 6am onwards.
Be careful not to end up on an Express Boat that goes DIRECTLY to Kapit. Again, ask a local if you are unsure.

See you soon!

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