March 27, 2008

hello beijing

monday evening, i was battling the jam at jalan surian near the curve after a mad dash to the mall to get a pair of shoes.

monday night, i was stuck in KLIA trying to hold the tears in, while being secretly glad that the flight was delayed by an hour.

tuesday morning, i was sitting in a cab listening to the driver's slurred beijing mandarin, and mentally noting it sounded arabic.

tuesday afternoon, i was walking around the wu dao kou area for a relaxing form of sightseeing.

i liked what i saw..

the weather is splendid. cold, but pleasant. the sun warms you during the day, and a trench keeps you snug at night.

the people here.. well, i just need to learn up my mandarin. fast. then they'll stop asking me where i come from once i open my mouth.

the food is cheap. you can get a 4-dish chinese meal for about RMB12 per person. there are cafes that are cozier than your cat's basket just a stone's throw away. restaurants are aplenty, and a good meal is guaranteed if you know where to go. iv yet to try the bland beijing food that many speak of. the waiters at the muslim restaurant are the friendliest bunch, so far!

Despite its name, Beijing Language and Culture University campus feels more like a village, in a good way. You get pushed around from one dormitary to another (pulling a 25g luggage on the left hand, a 12kg hand luggage on the right, a handbag on the left shoulder, and a labtop on the right) because the reservation that you made twice, was somehow not recorded. You also get sent across the campus to make fee payments and registration. funny, how every building in the university operates separately from one another. Sole Proprietor Building No. 1, Sole Proprietor Building No. 2... i kid you not, the buildings are called as such, minus the Sole Proprietor bit. the less-than-typical library houses students looking for a quiet communal place to study.. there are no books to read save for purchases made from the bookstore.

however, i've gotten used to stepping over gaping holes in the ground, walking over half-cemented, half stoned walkways, dodging angry bicycles and cars alike, and have come to see the beautiful side of it. there are little parks situated between the dorms, places you can sit down and have a quiet chat while watching blue-tailed birds hop across the roots of the trees. a woodpecker joined the family tree today. there is a quaint little 'friendship store' one block away, which sells everything from handphones to stationery to toilet paper. there are soldier-lookalike security guards that look swell in their uniforms, because they stand so upright and smug you think they love their job. the sports arena entertains the likes of basketballers and volleyballers while showcasing the beauty of taichi and wushu enthusiasts. trees line the walkways in their autumn glory. the campus, and its surrounding areas, are heavy with the bustle of students, workers and teachers.

Dorm Building No. 6

Security guards doing their rounds at dawn

wandering out, there are huge shopping complexes lining the street.. but some entrances are somewhat obstructed by a construction site. it's perfectly normal to dodge around metal sticks, loose rocks and stern faces, just to get somewhere. the nearby cinema is showing 'the golden compass', but i wouldnt have known it was open for public until I saw the poster plastered on the wall outside. a friend here likens china to a big factory. i think he is pretty close to the truth.

i took my placement today. it was difficult=[ no way i could give the han yu pin yins to the 100 chinese characters on paper. classes start tomorrow itself. it will be hard work!

p.s. i cant view my blog, but i can blog. so Blogger is somewhat blocked in China. hmm..

edited 29th march
things i can do:
- blog
- read comments (as i get notifications)
- modify template

things i cant do:
- use pkblogs (as per isaac's recommendation, somehow it doesnt work for me)
- use proxy.pac in advanced network settings
- view chatbox

March 19, 2008

the walk of time

Dec 2007:

Bringing Melbourne Alive

through rekindled reunions from home. birthday gifts that touch the heart and late night catch ups till 5am. hardly sleeping always eating, just your average tourist for the month. graduating through thunderstorm and sunshine, adding on to the joys and harsh realizations of the day. the crazy people i call friends who came to support me- you all made my day! (p.s. i miss you girls, and ironically, im seeing the guys in beijing soon) wine and dine, in not much style but lots of comfort. GPS-ing through long drives, SMS-ing in between naps, trigger-happy souls wandered through the sights and sounds in ultimate delight.


lazing at monash clayton

amateur golfer

tumultuous grad day


so coooold!

boys like black umbrellas

Christmas at Sanctuary Lakes

huddle at the melb museum

beautiful coastline

Jan 2008:

Macau and everything in between

was supposedly a shopping paradise, both for the brand-conscious (macau) and for the thrifty fashionistas (other parts of China). the best company for whisky and dirty jokes during dinner. family friends are the kind of friends you keep as family, for all time. endless massages, by young but skilled masseurs. travelling from north to south to east to west, for the best culinary treats. winning at roulette, only to splurge on everything else. coffee was almost impossible to find. conversing in broken bits of mandarin, only to have them reply in cantonese.. bah. an interesting trip.

one of the busy squares(i dont remember what it's called!=[)

distinctly macau

inside the Venetian Casino/Hotel

Dr Sun Yat Sen's village

we couldnt take a proper one

'pushing' the steel doors

Wynn's extravagant Dancing Fountain Show

visiting ji lui (Pearl Lady) at Jihoi (Zuhai)

Feb 2008:

Chinese New Year

sparkling red with gorgeous hakka meals, day through night through dawn. obligatory wishes, added on to the overflowing yee sang. cries of forgotten faces and new additions to the family tree. kids blooming into teenagers, young adults looking for adventures abroad and beyond.. the old, smiling at them all. festivity joined in by two barking dogs who hate being left out of the chatter. some people change, but nothing bonds better than a deck of cards laid on the table of course.

we try to be young

some of us kids

take number 3

dining table

a yearly get-together

caught between glam aunties

March 25th, 2008:

Beijing, here I come.
12 weeks of intensive Mandarin classes at BLCU, and then off to realize an AIESEC internship. for the first time, im going alone.
Fingers crossed, the adventure begins.

March 13, 2008

and so she taught

“We teach for our students, not for ourselves.”

Bumbling through her banter, she paused only to take a spoonful of meehoon sprinkled with spring onions and skinny prawns. Pak Li Kopitiam, another one of the mushrooming kopitiam outlets in Dataran Sunway, was the start of our culinary adventure for the day.

“If you spoon feed your students, how will they break out of their high school mindset, and think for themselves through a challenge? Results say something, but most importantly, you must groom them while they are still in their foundation year.” Outside, the drizzle turned into louder taps against the wooden canopy roof.

“And that’s why the few of you are around, to uphold what should have always been..”, I declared. “I used to think that there was a severe lack of professionalism in this industry, but I was proven wrong. You inspired us to break out of the mould, to have faith in ourselves to achieve the unthinkable. And look, we came out tops!” I looked back on M2, the class of 2004.

She smiled. “You guys were great. It’s the students that keep me going. But.. it's tiring. I’m getting tired of fighting the authority, of the accusations that fly around the office.” The sparkling eyes looked away for a split second, failing to disguise the pain harboured inside. “They’ve misled me into renewing my retirement contract for a higher position but a lesser involvement in the classroom, and now they give me scholars to teach… against my own will.”. A look of quiet disdain passed through her façade. “Scholars who question my competence the minute I step foot into class!”.

“I want a wholesome class I can develop; playful but intelligent students who listen, argue and accept with respect. I may get the blow during BOD meetings every week for underperforming results, but what do they know of the quality of my classes? At the end of the day, the year-end results speak for themselves. I am in no competition with the others who stuff look alike exam questions down their students’ throats. It’s about teaching them how to apply the concepts, and not regurgitating memorized answers.” She sighed. A strand of graying hair fell across her forehead.

The next instant, the shadow lifted.

“But more importantly, what are we going to have next?” Her eyes gleamed. We looked at each other- one, a former student, the other, an experienced mentor. I, along with many other of her students in her 30 odd years in education, was living proof of her dedication. Decades may have separated our age, but the bridge to friendships transcends time. How I loved this woman. Her passion to teach, her courage to fight for what she believes in, her optimism spilling over even in the bleakest moments. And the love of food! That does me in anytime.

“Well, there’s one of the best tau fu fas just down the street…”