Monday, June 23, 2008

Books for Hope

A.K.A my trip to Padang, Indonesia.

A little background, this trip is sponsored by my sister who is currently working in Jakarta, Indonesia. It's supposed to be a Pilot Project in Padang where a group of volunteers (incl. myself) will be heading towards villages 5 hours from the town of Padang to set up a library for the children in those kampung.

More information can be found at Books For Hope

Anyway, my flight is on Friday morning (20 June) and a crazy friend of mine, Miss Ooi Jin Ann, told me on Wednesday night that she wanted to go there with me! I thought she was kidding at first, cause it's like a decision right on the spot but apparently, it's not. She's the kind of person who loves to contribute to the community and of course, a great friend of mine. Am very glad that she tagged along; at least, I have someone a company in a foreign place.


So, we departed from LCCT and reached Padang on Friday morning. My sister only arrives in the evening, so she contacted a friend of her brother's (Robby) to take us around. I must really thank Robby. He doesn't know my sister personally but he actually took the entire day off to drive me and Jin Ann around Padang, and treating every meal that he brings us too! We wanted to pay but he really insisted on paying.

Oh, we also had a very bad experience the moment we step foot on Indonesia ground. The immigration of Indonesia is so corrupted. We wrote in our embarkation card that we are staying in a friend's place and left the address empty as we didn't know where the house is. So, the immigration people made a BIG DEAL out of it and even brought us to the customs office. It was quite hard to communicate as they spoke Bahasa Indonesia whereas we speak Bahasa Malaysia. So, I had to go out to get Robby to come in to the office to settle the problem and to provide an address. Robby then told me that these ppl normally wanted money. Anyway, he came in and provided the necessary information. After talking for another 15min or so, he went off leaving me and Jin Ann with them. When he was about to chop our passports, he asked us for 100 000 rupiah each as a gurantee that everything will be OK! 100000 rupiah each?!?! It'll be like RM50 for the both of us. Anyway, Jin Ann and I acted dumb as if we didn't understand what he was saying with the language barrier and all. In the end, after making 3-4 attempts, he gave up and redirected us to another officer. Talked our way through and managed to 'escape' without paying a single cent. hehe.. Oh, and during my absence while I was getting Robby in, the officers actually tried to flirt with Jin Ann and even asked for her email address!!

Apart from that, everything was great in Indonesia. While waiting for my sis to arrive in Padang, we went to different places and explored the town area.

Among the type of food that we ate are:

Beef Satay
Beef Satay

the famous Nasi Padang
Famous Nasi Padang

Ice Durian
Ice Durian

The buildings there are very unique. They all have the Minangkabau-style roof tops.
The Minangkabau-style Rooftop

The main public transportation there are minivan and each minivan has its own colour and pattern

They even have "horse-cycles"
Kereta Kuda

The group of people that came with my sister are really nice and friendly. Jin Ann and I expected the worst to be in the rural area and it turns out not bad at all. We had proper meals, proper place to stay and very good company.

The group of volunteers while having Nasi Padang for dinner
the Books for Hope Group

Our entire group went to 2 villages in North of Sumatera; Sawah Mudik and Taming Julu.

The first village we went is Sawah Mudik
Sawah Mudik

We prepared small little lessons for them.

Teach them the types of occupation;
Occupation Class

Colouring classes;
Colouring class

Essay Writing;
Essay Writing - My Ambition

Story telling
Story telling

It was raining cats and dogs when we were about to leave.
Raining heavily

Because the terrain is not a proper road, we were stuck at the village... It was way past lunch time and all of us were hungry.....

We were so glad that the rain has stopped. Went to our campsite nearby and feasted happily.
Lunch break

Had very nice chicken curry
Chicken Curry


Played with their pet monkey

And it's off to the 2nd village in Taming Julu.
This village is more well prepared for our arrival.

They built a library just to accommodate the books that we are going to donate
Library created by the villagers

Even prepared a forum-like discussion for us.
Forum-like discussion

The stuff that we did are the same as the ones in Sawah Mudik
Colors of World's Occupation

Essays written by children

The kind of books that we have donated are very good books
Books that are donated out

It's all for the benefit of the children. It's great to see happy faces around you..
Happy Children

Oh, and there's also their common toilet. It's actually open air and doorless! lolz
Common Toilet

We managed to finish the 2 villages in one day (initial plan was 2 days for 2 villages)
So, the following day, we toured around...

Ate durian
Feasting on durian!!

Went to some river nearby and fed fishes
River Side

Picked papayas at a papaya plantation

Spent the last night in a hotel sponsored by my sis.

They even serves us a welcome drink upon checking in
Welcome drink

Overall, it was a very fun trip! Was worth going there. Thanks Grace!

Books for Hope Corner

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Holiday @ Turi Resort, Batam

Right after the end of my IA, I decided to treat myself and my gf a holiday trip to Batam Island, Indonesia. We booked a 2D1N stay at Turi Resort located at the Northern part of Batam Island; Nongsapura.

We took a ferry which costs us $43 per pax for a return trip. It's blardy expensive. It's just about 35min ride from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal to Nongsapura Ferry Terminal.

Batam Fast - The Boat that took us there

We checked in at 2pm Indonesia time (3pm Sg time) and the service provided there was first class! The moment we arrived at the ferry, there are ushers awaiting for its guest arrival. At that time, it was only me and Yin Sin and we even got to sit on our 'personal' car escorted by 3 'bodyguards'!

Upon arrival of the resort lobby (which was only 5 min away from the ferry terminal), they dealt with the porter service and after checking in, we got another car ride to our room.

Batam Trip

From the outside, the room looks like those rumah papan and each 'house' contains 3 connecting rooms. It gives you the 'getaway' feeling from the ordinary bricks and mortars to the wooden, nipah-leaf roofs that is our room!

The interior was very nice. With 2 queen sized bed, a balcony, tv, fridge, etc. The only thing that is missing is a bath tub (for long baths)

My beautiful bedroom

So, what's outside?

There's a private beach only for the resort guests, a pool, spa, water sports, massage parlours, restaurants, cafes, so on and so forth.

Batam Trip

Because the beach is a private one, you can actually see small fishes swimming around at the coast line!

Turi's Private Beach

Batam Trip

The pool was very clean and the water clear. There are different depths for different parts of the pool all the way to 2.4m deep! We played and swam around in the pool and the beach. It'll be great to have a group of friends playing together but with just the two of us, it has its own fun too, nevertheless. =)

Swimming Pool

Towards evening, we just strolled along the beach, snapping pictures and just... do nothing. It's pure serenity and relaxation.

We spent quite a lot on the room (about $150 for a night) but we saved on the food. haha.. Ironic as it may seem, we actually bought food from FairPrice and made our own dinner!

We prepared tuna sandwich, cheese crackers, Norwegian Chocolates, Baileys Irish Coffee and Lipton Tea for dinner! Then, we had cup noodles for supper while enjoying shows from HBO and Disney Channel on TV. hahaha

Batam Trip

Batam Trip

We had our dinner at the balcony outside the room. Enjoying the fresh breeze while savouring our dinner. We talked the entire night over dinner and it was great...

Next morning, we woke up early for the buffet breakfast. Nothing spectacular, just a normal breakfast. But not too bad either. We wanted to wake up to catch the sun rise, but I set the alarm wrong and I was too pig to wake up either.. =/

After checking out at 12pm Indo Time, we took one last walk around the resort before heading to the ferry terminal at 130pm.

Blue skies; White clouds

It was a very worthwhile first-trip spent together. Maybe next time, we shall do something like this again. =)

Batam Trip

Friday, June 06, 2008

Industrial Attachment at Agilent Technologies

It has been a great journey working in the Broadband Development Team in Agilent Technologies for my Industrial Attachment. When I look back to the start of the internship, the 22-weeks seems to be so long and dreadful. And with just a blink of an eye... Today is my last day and I still have about 3 hours remaining in the office.

The company offers great facilities and benefits to its employee and most of all, the people here are nice. My supervisor is a very nice person. Almost an ideal supervisor who takes care of his employee's welfare, giving them encouragement and motivation while still giving work and meeting deadlines for the assignments.

To recap, let me highlight a few of the things that I have accomplished during the course of my IA.
1) Developed 2 softwares/tools that increases the company's productivity
- The Version Information Updater
- HTML Generator for Language Localization
2) Language Localization for the FrameScope Pro
3) Enhancing and Managing the Java Reporting Tools
4) Learned how to play table tennis
5) Explored more of Singapore and know of the different places to eat.

Anyway, for the NTU students out there who are deciding hard which company to take for their Industrial Attachment, I would recommend Agilent Technologies. =)

Monday, June 02, 2008

Sushi and Popiah Night

This will be the 3rd 'large scale' dinner that I've cooked during the IA period and it's probably the last one.

The 1st one was making wanton noodles
and the 2nd was the Arabian pasta-making which, both was a success.

This time round, it's Sushi and Popiah Night!!
There were 11 of us this time; soo fan, xin fern, hon yoong, yin sin, eng sue, chee kheng, yong ren, pei yin, weng kit, christopher and myself!

Me, Xin Fern, Hon Yoong and Yin Sin went to shop for the ingredients at Sheng Siong.
However, we couldn't find any sushi mats.. so, we decided to DIY it ourselves.
Yin Sin and I got the 'job' to create one and with all the patience and perseverance put into it, we came out with a sushi mat made with sate stick and threads.

DIY Sushi Mat

But in the end, we managed to get someone to buy the sushi mat from IMM and use ours as a backup instead.

Hence, we started preparing the ingredients.

Cutting Cucumbers

Grating Turnips

Preparing the Ingredients

Then, we started cooking the ingredients...

Preparation of the Omelette

Popiah Ingredients

With whatever that are prepared, we started off by making and rolling the sushis together.

We used the stuff below for the sushi

Sushi Ingredients

We prepare the fillings...

Adding in the omelette

Roll the sushi

Rolling sushi

Slice them


And eat em'

A mouthful of sushi

We repeat the process again and again until we have a plate full of sushis waiting to be eaten by us! (A lot of them were 'lost' in the process)


At the same time, we also prepared the popiah.

We peel off the skin
Pei Yin separating the popiah skin

Roll em'
Rolling the popiah

Cut em'
Cutting the popiah

Add a bit of garnishing and gravy, and it's ready to be served...
Popiah is served~

Or just plainly, eat it on its own.

These are the sushi and popiah that we have handmade
Sushi & Popiah

Everyone present there
The entire group