Thursday, December 31, 2009

The 2010 Manifesto

“A manifesto is a public declaration of principles and intentions”, so wiki says. The normal word to use is ‘resolution’ but this word doesn’t exert any power or oomph as ‘manifesto’ does, and is best left to define screen width and breadth e.g.1152x864.

Long story cut short, here is my manifesto for the new decade :-

1. Graduate Pre-U, preferably A-levels. Estimated time of completion : 2 years (until Jan 2012). My preferred choice of pre-university course.

2. Learn German. Estimated time of completion : 2 years (until Jan 2012). Thinking ahead, this is a stepping stone in case I intend to further my studies in Germany.

3. Buff up. ETC : 6 months (due June 2010). This is certain since I have my National Service for 3 months.

4. Pick up Guitar. Long Term Goal. Intended to do this for long, now is familiar with basic chords but not too fluent yet.

5. Doctorate in the field of Physics. Long, long, long, long term goal. But I know I will get there someday.

And this concludes my manifesto. Look out for me in the future!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Gastronomy @ Krabi

Banana Pancake

One of the highlights in Krabi Gastronomy are the pancakes served by roadside hawkers. Dunno whether it can really be called pancakes though, it looks quite like the mamak stalls’ roti canai. Howvever, it is much tastier!

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Our ‘frequent customer’ stall would be the one in front of the McDonalds, as my mum concludes that this stall serves the best pancakes ( as everything I eat are tasty for me). Also there are many other flavours and varieties available, but no matter what make sure you try the banana!

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No.1 Thai Food

Opposite our hotel lies a restaurant that proclaims that they are “Number 1 Thai Food”. Out of curiosity we went over and had a bite – apparently the food was so nice we gobbled it up before I realized that I didn’t took any pictures! We also had a pleasant surprise when the Thai-Chinese owner speaks our dialect, Hakka. But the fact is out of 6 of us only my father can converse with her as I only know hakka as far as yit, ni sam, si…(1, 2, 3, 4…)

Sorry for no pictures and here’s a picture of the restaurant with that dazzling signboard – Proudly presented by Senior Fong, PhD in Gastronomy, Balakong Univ.

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Deep-fried ghosts (w/kaya)

The last day, we spent our late morning at a restaurant serving ‘deep-fried ghosts’. If the name sounds funny, it is a literal translation from Chinese ‘you-zha-gui’ / Cantonese ‘yau-zha-guai’. It’s a piece of dough deep-fried and usually served in pairs of cut into several pieces. In Thai they serve the dish with some kaya (coconut egg jam).

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Somewhere along the street there is another local restaurant serving steamboat, but we didn’t have the chance to try it. Likewise, I believe there are many more culinary delights out there waiting to be discovered, so don’t forget to search for more dishes if you’re going to Krabi!

play @ krabi – kayaking and elephant tour

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Two activities in one day!

In the morning, we went to the jetty to ride our canoes and go canoeing, also known as ‘kayaking’. My ma fantasized that someone will row the boat while she swallows the surroundings, but reality is far from it.

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Without strong muscles, we’re bound to snuff out quite fast. But with right techniques and strategy (cheats), we were able to keep up with the leader! One tip is to go the short way when turning corners, just make sure you don’t get washed ashore.

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Me and my trusted partner boat. Actually, not so trusted because it capsized once.

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Starfishes on a lagoon

The journey is about 4 hours. My mother vowed never going to kayak again!

Later in the day, we got some elephants for an authentic thai massage. Of course, not with them trampling on our backs.

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Here lies another variety of the cashier counter paradox – Why do they seem to enjoy it so much, but when we ride it fear of falling off terrorizes us? Our elephant are unusually hyperactive, preferring to take the long way overgrown with shrubs and cobwebs.

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THEM

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US

After a whole day on the sea and elephants, it’s good to be back on land again!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Play @ Krabi – Phi Phi Islands

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When my ma enquired about the tours offered ( at the faux tourist info booth), the lady proudly proclaimed that ‘You don’t go to Phi Phi Islands, means you never came to Krabi’.

Some Geography – Phi Phi Islands are composed of two main islands, the larger Phi Phi Don with resorts and beaches, and the smaller, inhospitable Phi Phi Ley. Other islands includes islands such as Bamboo Island, Dog Island, et cetera.

Our tour brought us for snorkelling at several spots including Bamboo Island, Monkey Beach and a dive in the middle of the sea. The view (which I can’t present to you because my camera isn't waterproof) is quite fascinating, reminiscent of my Redang and Tenggol (Terengganu islands) trips long ago.

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Other spots we explored are the Phi Phi Ley Islands,

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Maya Beach,

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and Phi Phi Don where we have lunch and I explored the science of creating rock solid sand balls.

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Well, the sun is always bound to set and after playing our hearts out, we decided to call it a day. Boats in the picture are known as longtail boats, which I think is due to how they put their motors on a long metal pole extended from the boat.CIMG6337

Impressions @ Krabi

Upon reaching Krabi after a short flight of 1 hour plus from KL, we booked a taxi to our pre-booked hotel, the Aonang Goodwill Hotel. My pa asked the driver to bring us to the town centre to search for some tours as we did not arrange any ground tours here unlike our previous tours. The driver then brought us to some official-looking booth with a sign that reads ‘tourist information’, but actually it is a travel agency inside. A walk along the Ao Nang area later confirmed my suspicions – a lot, if not all, the travel agencies offering tours displays the sign ‘tourist information’.

The locals here are quite well-mannered and friendly. Our hotel manager, Sun helped us carry our luggage to our rooms, recommended us some good places for Thai fare, and remembered our room numbers by heart. The guides on our tours are good too, and even the local merchandise sellers do not chase tourists unlike our past experiences in Bali and China which sellers are persistent and sometimes irritating.

Commercialisation rears its head here with the appearance of chain stores such as Burger King, McDonalds and Swensen’s among other stores. Many still prefer boutique, local places to eat as those shops are usually void of people. but still locals will feel the squeeze from the competition, and does not reflect the culture of Krabi. This kind of development is just over the line for me.

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The omnipresent golden arches, even in Krabi

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Notice the Subway store?

Nevertheless, Krabi is definitely a joyful and relaxing place, and I hope it would remain so for many years to come.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Ivory Towers

Direct translation from Malay ’menara gading’, which roughly symbolizes the pinnacles of knowledge, i.e. universities, colleges and the likes of it.

Went to Mid Valley Exhibition Centre today with my gang to attend the Malaysian Education Fair. Unlike last time when my aim was unsure, I headed inside, activated my eagle eyes and find for the word ‘A-levels’ in the booths. Results, I found several colleges offering the programme, naming Taylor’s, Methodist College KL, UCSI, KTAR, KDU and INTI among others. My priority is to enquire about intakes and scholarships, however I found out a thing about A-Levels I didn’t know – the two types of courses, Cambridge and Edexcel offered by these colleges. This time my ‘souveniers’ are lighter that the last time, but still need to go through those brochures and fine print and double-check before deciding.

To readers who has experience in A-levels, have you any advices for me? Kindly leave it in the chatbox, many thanks in advance.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Orange warfare

One of my post-SPM activities includes bathing orange paint, and of course bathing other people with it using CO2 fuelled machine guns in the rough sand dunes, guerrilla jungle and lakeside gang-fight zone. This is orange warfare, where we fight our enemies for the joy of seeing orange on their heads (not for our lives) in the ground zero of Tanamera Paintball Park.

The journey to Tanamera in Sg Buloh takes about 2 hours from Kajang, and upon reaching we were briefed about paintball and rules and regulations, as well as getting a feel of our weapons.

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The Centre

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Getting a feel of our guns (they call it ‘marker’)

We played 3 battles in total, the first beside a lake named Lake Placid where we fought head-to-head. We had a disadvantage as the other team had a peninsula to stand on. The second one which took place at the Vietcong guerrilla jungle naturally had us seeing red too as my group was at the lower part of the hill slope. The 3rd which I feel is the best take place at the Dunes, which somehow feels like some Middle East war zone. We played an occupation match, and due to miscommunication in our team, the rival team took the chance to run straight to our base and plugged their flag there. And as you can see, my group lost all 3 battles ^^.

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The Vietcong

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Fr left : Me, Chua, Abu (our guide) and Liew

Through this orange warfare, I somehow thought that NS is going to be tougher than this! Seems I need to buff up before my turn in NS. And this game requires high level of stamina, strategy and teamwork of course. This will be good training for us urban fellows, and after all the most important thing is – It’s fun!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Holiday hollow days

The world of SPM Candidates starts to spin again – after Chemistry, except those who take Chinese very seriously, unlike me. After all, the percentage of Chinese student likely to take Chinese is I think around 20%, maybe even less. I have taken Chinese, but is not even getting B’s on it. Answering these papers requires talent + luck…Wait, I think I’ve ranted on this in the earlier post, didn’t I?

Two days passed after Chem and I’m already in full holiday mode, playing console games, read comic, books, or just daydreaming around until night. You notice the pattern? That I’m doing things that are ‘hollow’, that makes no impact whatsoever to my life or of others. Every night that ambitious feeling kicks in, thinking ‘I will do something worthwhile tomorrow’. ‘I will do a morning workout’, ‘I will find something to learn tomorrow’, et cetera, et cetera. But, when the sun rises, reality kicks in and the strong electromagnetic waves of the PS2 pulls me towards it. and keeps me occupied for hours and hours.

I also would like to plan in advance for my coming three-months break, but with my NS appeal results not yet known planning is impossible. For now, I’ll just let the water flow and follow the currents, and see how it goes..

Friday, December 4, 2009

9/11

The countdown meter is removed long ago, and time flies – 9 papers are marked off the list leaving Chemistry and Chinese Language. In overall my confidence is still there, the fighting spirit – but it faces danger of dimming out caused by the number of days separating these two papers – a week!

These two subjects are my nemesis. Chemistry is always my lowest subject among the three sciences, others being Bio and Physics. And Chinese, I never saw an A with it after going on to Form 4. Especially hating the subjective question, no matter what I write it will be greeted with a cross! I tried asking other students who fared better on the subject, and they replies it is a matter of whether your impression on the extract text given is similar to the marking scheme or otherwise. In other words, luck is your weapon. Being exposed to Chinese more is one advantage, but the language I use on the newspaper, forums, even my blog says it all.

What’s more, over the days we can recognize our invigilators now. One teacher who had quite a cool hairstyle recently cut his head botak (bald)! Another teacher is widely recognized because he share the same name with our protagonist in the novel for Malay Literature – Hilmi. Those who suddenly face short-term amnesia due to tension was in luck!

Still, the war’s ain’t over yet, and all the best!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Out of the box

Recently I read an article claiming that a well-known professor saying that Chinese vernacular primary schools are teaching students based on memorisation and regurgitation of facts , and are producing “copycat” students. I as a student of the Chinese vernacular schooling system myself felt strongly for this too.

My experiences in an urban primary – memorising full examples of essays whether in Chinese, Malay or English. Students are encouraged, or rather forced to memorise essay structures for all essays, although this did not happen to me it happened to my younger sister who studies in a top class. UPSR trials are way more frequent than other schools, showing an exam-based mentality in the administration.

However, it’s unfair to quote the Chinese schools only, because it involves the whole education system of Malaysia. Don’t tell me that I’m telling lies – I just sat for my SPM Moral paper yesterday which requires me to memorise 32 moral values by heart, word-by-word. Not forgetting the literature component in Malay and English and Chinese idioms. Paper 3 of the Science subjects, Biology, Chemistry and Physics requires us to memorise experiments exactly and write it out in the exam. Ironically the question ask us to “design an experiment”. Moral and Civics are failures of our curriculum – failing to educate students properly on real morality and civic-consciousness. We have an exam-based, memorisation-centred education curriculum.

The effects are widespread, hard-hitting and deadly to our future. I personally observed fellow students tensioned over an increase of “pendapat” (opinion) questions in the exam, as opinions cannot be memorised. Coupled with horror stories of exam markers adhering too much to the marking scheme provided and mark logic answers wrong, this discourages creative thinking in students and future world leaders.

“Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire”, as quoted by William Butler Yeats, shows what our education should look like. Young students should be encouraged to explore the world and learn more about it than following by facts on books every time. They should learn how to apply their knowledge in solving real-life problems. Thinking out of the box is necessary to compete in a increasingly challenging world, and we should be nurtured to do this from young. We should not just absorb knowledge, but also integrate them with the environment to gain a deeper understanding on what are we learning.

In conclusion, we must admit that our curriculum is flawed and there is space for more improvements. Decentralising our system from exam-focusing and memorisation, encouraging innovation and creativity, getting students involved in intellectual debates, written, orally or otherwise…

Too much change is required. We need a revolution.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Just Another Day

Sun sets and will rise again
I sleep and will rise again
Gearing for tomorrow
Without joy or sorrow
Just another day...

Sitting in my seat
Just another day
Unfamiliar invigilators
Just another day
"Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia"
Just another day
Just another test
Just another day

11 years of education
Just another day
11 months of preparation
Just another day
11 subjects in my examination
Just another day

As I raised my hand
Equipped with my familiar pen
Leaving traces of ink flow
As I show what I know
To exam markers unnamed
17 years of knowledge I gained

As I put my pen cover back in place
It's Just Another Day

Friday, November 13, 2009

Last days

Definitely, my last year in my alma mater, Yu Hua is also my most illustrious one. Being the class monitor of my class 5E is a blessing, albeit sometimes in disguise. If I hadn’t been the class monitor many experiences would have been missed, many lessons not learnt and many camaraderie not gained. Though being in charge makes sweat, blood and bone-cracking complimentary, I am glad to be entrusted this position for 1 year.

Playing host to our graduation party, I am relieved that it went well although the result is far from my estimations. In my plan I never would have thought that there will be a situation in which food supply is too much, no thanks to the organizer for not letting us know beforehand. My worries of not enough funds and food is proved otherwise, and many sleepless hours gone to waste. In fact, we still have some dough in the class coffers and is wondering how to deal with it.

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Graduates gone wild~

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Picture with our Chinese teacher Pn Yong…

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…and with History teacher Pn Noraini (left) and Chemistry teacher Pn Hartini (right).

Over the years I was out of the ordinary as some people say, publishing an arsenal of independent, DIY newsletters through Form 1, 2 and 4 (my most extraordinary achievement to date), even though I risk my own pocket money just for the sake of publishing a new issue. The feeling of the creation of a new issue, or what I call “Hot out of the oven” is unparalleled. One guy quoted me as a “guy with a lot of creative ideas” in my leaf album. Even my term in office has been branded by some as “the craziest monitor”, “one extraordinary monitor”, etc. With impressions like that left in your memories, here’s hoping my deep footsteps won’t be washed away in your beach of memories.

As what was written on our class shirt - “Memories chained in our hearts, are keys to a brand new start”, here’s wishing the best of luck to all graduates who are starting a new chapter of life.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Who am I | Who are you

Who am I
To judge people
by how they look

by how they walk
by how they talk

Who am I
To judge others
By their taste
By their race
By their face

Who am I
To discriminate
To prejudge
Without knowing
Without understanding
Without attempting
to know them

Who are you
To judge me
By what you see
By what you hear
By what you think

Who are you
To judge me
Without understanding
Without knowing
Without asking

What you see
is the tip of an iceberg
What you hear
Is the prelude to an epic
What you thought
Is just 1%
Of who I am

Monday, November 2, 2009

One Man Show

Throughout these years, I realise that a lot, if not all of my projects and tasks are done on a one-man power. Being the secretary (more like pengerusi + secretary + office boy) of the Computer Club, editor of my arsenal of DIY publications, even my post as the class monitor.

A one-man show is always inefficient, but what can I say – in most of the situation there is no helping hand, and my dictator complex who wants control on everything doesn’t help at all. Sometimes everything piles up and leave me breathless, especially when dealing with ungrateful clients, co-workers and with the deadline looming above. Humans are selfish creatures, and me with the only big heart cannot make much difference.

So? Someone help me with the class trip already!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Leaf Album

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The hottest thing in class right now – the monitor’s leaf album!

Ya-lah, it’s actually an autograph book, just covered with leaves and memories of my fellow friends and classmates. I told them not to hold anything back when writing about me, and oh boy they sure did! But one thing is that they often commented about my temper, especially when I’m really busy and the class is not helping by causing more troubles for me. But after all, I told them to say what they think, haha.

Luckily many are still appreciative of my efforts as the class monitor, one even commented “You shaped 5E as it is known today”. Just hoping that 5E is known to other people as a good class ^^. My closer circle of friends took the time to write essays about me, and I’m really grateful that one day I’ll look back at this book and find all your rants, praises, confessions and fond memories all recorded in my Leaf Album.

I don’t regret being the class monitor, but instead I was glad to be given the chance. By playing this role I gain many valuable experiences and lessons, and above all I get to know all of you guys without barriers of different interests, gender and race. Every time I hear good things said about 5E I feel proud deep in my heart, and when someone badmouths the class I defended it. Sounds like a protective parent, don’t I?

To those who left their mark on my Leaf Album I thank you; to those who haven’t yet – my album is always open!

Monday, October 26, 2009

If The World Was Bigger

If the world was bigger,
I’d be an adventurer,
Exploring the unknowns,
Discovering the undiscovered…

I would trek far and wide,
To the barren land of the North,
I would hop on a sailing ship,
Across the sea to another world.

If the world was bigger,
and much of it unknown,
I’ll brave the horizons,
and create history out of me.

I would bring home much exotics,
Stories of places I’ve been,
I would miss home and be lonely,
But this would be the best thing I did.

Sleeping under the starry skies,
Travelling on dizzying heights,
Plying the road on my cart,
Under the eternal twilights.

But alas, there were airplanes,
Cars and trains, and others alike,
And outer space is much too wide,
Before reaching a star, I’ll be long dead

In spite of it all, I still want to travel,
To different places, to different cultures,
I’ll strive for it, whatever it takes,
So JPA, spare me a place^^

If the world was bigger,
I would be an adventurer,
Plying the road on my faithful cart,
Under the eternal twilights.

Friday, October 23, 2009

30days

Actually It’s 25 days left at the time of writing… just for posterity…

A month to the final of finals, at least for school life; and the beginning of beginnings, of a great field of opportunities, chances, and experiences never explored. All familiar routines disappears and you are left with dice of chances.

Our second trial is coming to an end, and some students are quite alarmingly relaxed. I know of a band of new K-addicts who goes to the music boxes one in two weeks. Still others are MIA, citing study at home but hoping they don’t get KIA’ed by stress or the lack of it. As for me, study gear is going good, but Add Maths Paper 2 today is a tad too difficult – the SPM papers I did will no way be up to that level. Of course, we want quality A+ students, but please show compassion for us who has 11 subjects to score (for the average Science Student).

To my fellow comrades in preparing for the big S, hang in there, and good luck.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Routine

A month more to the Big S, and all signs of a normal, parallel, routine life is fast disappearing. The students play hide and seek, turning up one day and absent the next. They say they study at home, but in my experience studying at home is fail. Teachers don’t teach anymore, because of all those trial tests and exams. One good thing – it keeps me in exam gear and hopefully this gear can last until SPM. But routine is fast disappearing…

Once upon a time, I thought I would be staying at my hometown, Kerteh forever, or al least until Form 5… who knows, now I’ve scored 6 years at Balakong now. Life is really unstable, unpredictable. It did not occur to me then that the routine of waking up to the sea breeze, seeing the sun rise above the horizon every morning, studying in such a relaxed school (my alma mater SJKC Chee Mong), trips to Kemaman every Saturday…once a routine, now a treasured privilege.

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My old school

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By the river in Kemaman

Change dawned upon us fifth-formers again, with the countdown down to just 33 days away. A few Saturdays more, and the life of taking the bus to school, assembly, recess, rushing homework, dodging the discipline teachers, playing with classmates… will vanish in a puff of smoke. No, not even smoke are left. what’s left will be our photographs, memorabilia and our own memories. As we enter the pinnacles of higher knowledge our view of life will certainly change too.

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Treasure your every moment, because it just comes by only once in your life, and will never happen again.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Red Alert

This is quite serious. No, I mean, totally serious! I can't concentrate during the day, tending to fall asleep on the couch, be it rain or shine or air-con. Or else, just to keep me awake I prowl around the house in search of food. So, in 1 hour I may have spent 40 minutes scavenging, 20 min study, 10 min concentrate, 5 min remember.

Night-time is my better-preferred time to study. After 10 , at least, with a good cup of teh tarik. Two will do the trick best (3 will earn myself a stomachache). Just last week I've studied Chemistry, and I still remember that rusted iron nails turns potassium hexacyanoferrate [K3Fe(CN)6] blue, not brown as I previously assumed (and logically should be, after all, rust is brown in colour. But you can't argue with results). But sometimes the night goes on too long, and my zzz-mileage too little - and careless mistakes pops out next morning. Once I solved a equation and found the value of m, but at the Ans:___ part, I wrote there "Ans: m ".

Afternoon study is fail, unless if I make teh tarik in the afternoon – a good mug of it, table, chair, air-con (or more preferred, rain), plus model tests (read=sleep to me). But in spite of all these, the comfy yellow couch looks more inviting…

Friday, October 9, 2009

Mission : Kuli @ Kuang

Date : 8 Oct 2009
Venue : Asrama Damai Rumah Anak-Anak Yatim, Kuang
Mission in brief : Sweating it out and join in the effort to help the orphans.
Duration : 0700-1800 (GMT +8)
Chronology :

0815 - Mission briefing. Fresh mind in the early morning.


0930 - Safety briefing (by Pa, in the picture). "BE careful of slips, trips and falls; use 3-point system for ladders, assess risks before starting work, etc, etc..."


1000 - Mission start! 作戦開始!
The paint team gives the wall at the car park a new face. Some are sweeping and cleaning the garden. Another team are giving the wall of the boy's dorm a fresh coat of paint. And another team is tasked with a canteen ceiling makeover! (just skin deep)



And my post - Food warehouse cleaning and reorganizing! The warehouse is a nightmare, with creepy-crawlies all over the floor and the air smells of rotten bug corpses and food. All food are taken out and goes under expiry date inspection before returning to the warehouse.


1230 - Chow time!


1300 - Back to work. Our team was the fastest to finish our mission. Just look at the changes!


Dumpster before and after. Our team contributed the most - just look at the sea of bottles of expired ketchup and sauces.


Other before and afters:
1. Car Park
2

2. Boy's Dorm


3. Canteen ceiling


1700 - Mission complete. Good job everyone!


And my personal mark of honour - the mark of the kuli~


*Kuli - Malay for "coolie", a historical term for manual labourers in the 19th century and early 2oth century.