Thursday, August 22

The Day I Got 1000 Likes On FB

Wowzies! An amazing milestone for a jungle teacher.
On 31 July 2012, I created an FB Page.
I did it because I felt people wanted to hear my opinion & see what I'm doing in the jungle. At times, a few people would be asking me the same thing at the same time. I'm not that patient to explain everything to them bit by bit. I'd rather say, go read this link. lol.

It would also be an awesome portfolio for my work & a bite-sized complement to my blog where I am more elaborate than many are willing to read. lol.
Initially, I wanted it to be a place I could share some short & sweet quips on current issues as well as a storehouse for all my activity photos since 2012. (I will upload photos from 2009-2011 when FB comes up with a more user-friendly upload interface for large amount of pictures. At the moment, it is a pain to upload large volumes of photos AND arrange it chronologically.)

Nowadays, my page has evolved into a live discussion & a platform for collaboration. It is also where I share picture quotes I like, articles worth sharing, grammar tips & motivating messages. I am also moving towards promoting the work of other teachers who may not be internet savvy but hard-working & sincere with what they are doing at school.
Let me make it known to you that there are plenty of unsung heroes slaving it out for the children of Malaysia in your neighbourhood schools. They may be introverts. They may not be the ones smiling for the camera. But they are there & they need your support. Consider them. Remember them. Love them. I want to reach out to these teachers. I hope that you will too.

I'm pretty sure that having a page like this would make me look like I'm blowing my own horn or being narcissistic or showing off.
Honestly, I might be. Let me explain. I do not think that I am any better than the average teacher in your average school. I have never proven myself in a challenging urban school. I think that the students in SMK Katibas are an awesome bunch that are just darlings to teach. Please don't start calling me names that I do not think I deserve.

However, I've done so much work where I am & I am really really proud of the work that I've done & am doing because it's something that nobody else has done or is willing to do in such a situation. I'm proud to be able to say I've done more than my fair share for the children of the Katibas region.
THAT is what I am blowing my horn about... Actions. Not just mere rhetoric or pompous self praise but ACTION. It does, after all speak louder than words.

A large majority of my students & their parents do not have Internet access so I'm guessing that the likes were from fellow teachers & the general public.
Thank you. It gives me comfort to know that there are people out there who are willing to openly show their support to me & it encourages me to strive to be better & to do better.
I may not be able to repay any of you but I guess the best way to repay your support is to continue my efforts in our education system.

Here's to many many more years ahead & hoping that you won't unlike me because of this blog post. =)

Sunday, August 18

La Naissance de l'Étalon Blanc et le #1ManConvoy

**copy the title to Google Translate, click the 'listen' button & lol as you try to follow!**

The first time I blogged about my bike, I tricked people into thinking that I had a girlfriend both on my blog & in real life. It was funny at first & I had many good laughs. But now that people are starting to refer to my bike with intimate female companion names like wife/girlfriend, i.e. "are you riding your wife to Sibu?" or "I want to see your girlfriend", it's not funny any more.

It makes me feel like a lonely old man with too much money to spend so he buys an expensive toy & make it his companion. Wait, that really DOES sound a lot like me. lol.
It's probably time I got a REAL girlfriend & maybe a wife, no?

Meanwhile, I'm going to risk my life in the noble cause of manoeuvring the bumpy, meandering & deadly asphalt pathways to teach unfortunate & displaced children deep in the remote jungles of Borneo. A romantic notion, no? Girls, line up please!

Anyway, I want to share an atypical journey to Sibu from my home in Kuching so you get an idea of what it's like & why I love it so much.

Full Safety Gear: Helmet, Skull Cap, Scarf, Jacket, Gloves, Shin Pad & Boots. (Worth RM4000+)
All the armour in the world will not be enough to protect you from stupidity. So, be smart when riding, cornering & overtaking.
I like to start early before the sun gets too hot & traffic builds up. Before I leave, I make sure I shower & purge whatever is in my rectum. Nobody wants a space shuttle launch in the middle of nowhere.

Also, I lotion up my face with moisturiser & SPF protection. I'm getting really dark. Does tall, DARK, & handsome still apply? It seems like girly boys are the in thing nowadays.

I usually plan for a 7AM departure but rarely make it because mom always prepares breakfast with love! =D How can I not take my time to appreciate it? Besides, I'm hungry, stingy & hawker food might upset my stomach.

#1 Stop: Optimum Type Pressure. Front - 32dpi. Back - 36dpi
Tyre pressure needs to be filled when the tyres are cold. Tyres heat up as it rubs against the road so the air inside expands. As the tyre heats up & expands, it provides optimum traction.
The last thing I want is difficult handling at high speeds/corners. I want to make sure my bike responds quickly too.

#2 Stop: Full Tank of Fuel
Serian has the last petrol station before the open road. By my estimation, it takes about 1 full tank of fuel to get from Kuching to Sibu (RM20+ RON95). But, I have never taken the risk of not filling up my tank as soon as I reach the last bar of fuel. I wouldn't want to have to push my bike all the way to Sibu. lol.

#3 Stop: Crotch Breather
After riding under the sun for a while, the seat gets really warm. Add the insulation of my body heat, thanks to double layers down there, and I have discovered a natural way to slow cook my eggs!
It's not funny, it can really really hurt!
Therefore, I usually need to stop after an hour of riding. To rehydrate & also let my 2 heads breathe.
On the road, I met with a convoy of bikers. I rode with them for a bit & we stopped together to rest. Bikers are so rare that when you meet another biker on the road, the ice is broken & you instantly become brothers. We shook hands, introduced ourselves & spoke like good friends.

They were headed for a wedding banquet in Engkelili so we travelled together. We parted ways when they reached their junction. I continued my journey alone but I was happy to have found companions for part of the journey.

#4 Stop: Lunch
Jakar is the last stop before Sibu & this restaurant is famous for its Prawn Noodles. They ran out of prawns when I arrived so I had Fish Noodles instead. It's okay. Tastes like soupy FooChow Noodles with fish. I saw others having the prawn noodles & they were similar.
I prefer the Asam Tom Yam Prawn Noodles in Sarikei. There's more kick to it.
There was a large group of bikers already at the restaurant when I arrived. I approached them & we had an instant connection despite differences in race & religion. As we sat there, more bikers arrived &, even though they were strangers, they joined the us & were treated as brothers. They were all headed to Sibu.

They invited me to join them in using the Julau way to Sibu. I was familiar with this route passing through Sarikei. It's a longer journey but the roads are straighter & in better shape. I told them to go ahead first because I wanted to refuel. In the end, I never caught up. lol.

#5 Stop: Full Tank of Fuel
I leave my bike in Sibu when I go to school so I might not be biking for a while. A bike has to be stored with a full tank to prevent the fuel tank from rusting on the inside. I keep my bike at a friend's house & he runs the engine for at least half an hour a week to keep the mechanisms smooth & battery alive.

Destination reached! 6 Hours. 5 Stops
I realise I resemble Snake Eyes (G.I. Joe) with a samurai sword strapped to my back.
Old people will think that I resemble the black Power Rangers.
Biking is a part of my soul & if anybody wants to be a part of my life, they will have to accept this part of me even though their concern & love for me bids them to think otherwise. Please let me decide what I should do & should not do. Please release me to follow my heart & pursue my happiness.

Back to naming my bike. After much deliberation, I've decided to go with the French language. It's a mouthful. It's suave. And, it's naughty. Just the way I like it. Giving my bike a name in English would be too easy. I want you to think. I want a bit of mystery. It adds romance & fascination to an already handsome bike.
From hence fourth, my bike shall be known as le étalon Blanc. And I, the #1ManConvoy.

My dream is for le étalon Blanc & I to ride all over Malaysia!

Saturday, August 10

Please Don't Call Me Sir

Often times, people would call me 'sir' out of respect. Not because they know me or the work I've done but just because they are such lovely people who hold the teaching profession at high esteem. Either that or they are impressed by the way I carry myself. I say, how splendid! Now hand me your wallets & cellphones!
I believe this honour to have originated from the norms of the good ol' British education system. However, it might be a tad too old fashioned for my taste & an exaggeration of the greatest proportions.

Whenever, people address me as a 'sir', I feel like this laddie here...

Still very dashing & sharply dressed, no?
Call me insecure, but I do not feel like I have earned that respectful term. It is the mother of pearl. The pinnacle of all names. Alas, I feel that it is not for me. Oh, no. I think it would be a more appropriate term for teachers who have achieved something great & attained a level of seniority like fine wine... becoming better as they aged, instead of being like soda... full of hot air, empty calories & deteriorating over time.

Until I earn that name or a knighthood from the Queen of England, I would prefer to be addressed with the name passed down to me from many generations before. A name I carry proudly in memory of my ancestors. If you should still feel compelled to distance your humble wretched selves from me, you may use the respectful term 'Mister', you lovely lovely soul you. I.e. 'Mr Yong'.

One day, I shall be able to drink with as much grace as you do, sir.
Unless of course, you are an adoring student in my class or at my school, you may continue to address me as Sir. Oh, yes. Sir me all you like. I shall not chastise you for I am proud of be your Sir. One day, you shall earn your place beside me as my equal. For now, as much as you love me & I love you, you must know your place & meekly shine in that position like the obedient child you are & I, your proud Sir.

As for parents, teachers & members of the public, I beseech you, say my name!

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