Conquering Sabah’s Lost World (My Maliau Basin Adventure)

If you love nature, Borneo and Sabah, I’m sure you must have heard of Maliau Basin – Sabah’s Lost World. Since I can be quite long winded, I will share my review on Trip Advisor for Maliau Basin, where I went trekking from 1-4 May 2017, which I think should be quite useful should you decide to go. ๐Ÿ˜€

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An ‘outside’ view of Maliau Basin

https://www.tripadvisor.com.sg/ShowUserReviews-g3533821-d5893389-r485591202-Maliau_Basin_Conservation_Area-Tawau_Tawau_Division_Sabah.html#REVIEWS

โ€œIncredible Experience!โ€

Been dreaming of trekking Maliau Basin for a few years now and from 1-4 May 2017 I realised that dream.
Went into it with excitement mixed with anxiousness, but now that I’ve done it I can say it is really achievable even for someone who is not so fit and scared of leeches, blood and falling.
Did the 4D3N loop, so had 1 night at the Studies Centre and 2 nights at Ginseng Camp. (3 full days of trekking)

Trekking: The 2nd day was as tough as they said – going down almost 60-70degrees and over 2km to Maliau Falls, and then back up again the same way, but we managed to do it before sundown. It is important to go at your own pace which I did, so I was very careful, but that is not to say nothing will happen – I almost hit my head on a rock which was just a few inches away from my head when I stood up. You have to be aware of your surroundings, respect the forest, pray, and it helps to have a good guide – someone who follows your pace and is willing to give you a hand should you need it. Happy to say I had such a guide – Koboy, and happy to say I probably took his hand for help just maybe 2 times (meaning most of it done on my own )
There were just 2 short perhaps 2.5metres long ladders to traverse, but they were okay, and I guess the highlight/reward to all for this whole trek had to be the magnificent Maliau Falls! The water was really nice and cold despite the hot sun. Perfect reward after hours of trekking.

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The jungle terrain

Wildlife: Over at the Studies Centre we managed to see pygmy elephants, a wild cat and a deer during the night drive, but while trekking I was a little disappointed that I did not see more, although that could be attributed to us really concentrating on where we were trekking.
What we saw: Leeches, Giant Ants, a cute fuzzy caterpillar, a monkey, a cute 2 horned spider
What we heard but didn’t see: Hornbills (high up on the trees)
What I wished I saw: Giant millipede, deer (which was sleeping when our guide came across it but bolted away before we could see it)
The trees were really interesting too – tall and big trunks..we saw bracket fungus everywhere and the highlight was the heart shaped liana tree on the way to Maliau Falls which to me declares you have really been to Maliau Basin!

Leeches: The dreaded creature of the jungle. Encountered alot of them on the first day but almost none on the last day going back the same way. Happy to say I was not bitten but I guess if I did it would had completed my jungle experience Helps to have good weather too! It only started to rain on the last day, the last 500m of our trek!
I wore long soccer socks and leech socks over that to my knees. Also placed salt in my shoe.
A good trekking shoe also gives good support.

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A leech and my shoe

Lodging at Ginseng Camp: It was pretty alright to me and not as bad or broken as what I read previously. The bunk beds were from Ikea! It helps if you brought your own sleeping bag and mosquito coil – there were a few bees and light attracting insects but nothing overwhelming. The toilets and showers may be too basic for some, but to me they were great! One of the toilets that I used had a little ledge to place my toiletries and nail hooks on top that I could hang my clothes – and the water was certainly refreshing and clean to shower in! No itchiness felt on my sensitive skin after my shower!
There was no electricity at Ginseng Camp during our stay, so we ate by candlelight, but it was certainly fun and added to the whole experience!

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360 degree view of Ginseng Camp

Food at Ginseng Camp:
It really exceeded my expectations. The first night we waited a bit for our dinner but were treated to a scrumptious spread of rice, prawns with french beans, sotong (squids) and the most delicious bittergourd dish in the world. To complete it we had watermelon.
The second night was just as good. We had fried chicken! And for one of the breakfasts we even had french fries! Kudos to the cook cum ranger Atak ๐Ÿ™‚
I have to state that our lunches on the other hand were pretty basic – rice, vegetables and eggs. So it helps if you brought your own snacks. I had my GU Energy Chews and Pocari Sweat Powder which helped me along the way.

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Breakfast on the 2nd day! There’s french fries!!

Other things to note:
A walking stick helps. A porter helps as well, which we were fortunate enough to get. I would had probably lost my balance if i had to carry my heavy backpack on my own, but the next time I just might try! Minus the 3 litres of water I had in it of course, because our guide from the travel agency bought 2 huge bottles of water for us, so no need to worry about that.
And YES!! I’LL BE BACK AGAIN! It was a very fun and exciting adventure! Maliau Basin is beautiful and untouched, and it would be wonderful to be back again with a better understanding and appreciation of her. 5D4N next!

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The 2 humongous bottles of water

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Dos and donts.

 

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All of us!

Other perhaps somewhat useful information:

My Training for Maliau Basin (literally a month before the trip)
Pre training:
17 March – Jogging
Actual training:
28 March – Jogging
30 March – Stair climbing 7 Storeys up and down 10 minutes
31 March – Stair climbing 7 Storeys up and down 10 minutes
3 April – Jogging 5.39km
5 April – Personal Training Session
7 April – Personal Training Session
9 April – Jogging 4.09km
12 April – Personal Training Session
15 April – Personal Training Session
16 April – Jogging 3.84km
19 April – Personal Training Session
21 April – Climb Bukit Timah Hill
22 April – Personal Training Session

 

My Maliau Basin Essential Pack List
(not in any particular order)
– Torch/Headlamp
– Toilet Paper
– Big Plastic Bags/Waterproof Dry Bags
– Soap/Hand Sanitizer
– Toothbrush & Toothpaste
– Energy Chews (GU) (this really helped me along the way)
– Pocari Sweat Effervescent Powder
– Bandana
– Leech Socks
– Salt
– Quick Dry Tops, Underwear, Sports Bra
– Trekking Pants
– Walking Sticks (one is enough)
– Gloves (for holding on to the rocks although I’d rather do without it)
– Wet Tissues
– Powerbank
– Sleeping Bag
– Sarong or thin blanket (optional pillow for comfort)
– Long soccer socks (extra pairs)
– Mosquito Coil
– Lighter/Matches
– Insect Repellent
– Mirror (which I didn’t bring)
– Slippers
– Lip Balm
– Sunblock
– Bath towel
– Face Towel

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Heart shaped liana tree!

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Categories: Fun, Life, Sabah, Travel | Leave a comment

Spoilt for Choice: S.E.A. Aquarium & Underwater World Singapore

So today I finally visited S.E.A. Aquarium, which I’ve been wanting to visit for some time. And, after my visit, I went on to Underwater World. Both about marine creatures, both aquarium like, but here in my blog post I will highlight the highlights!

Thanks to the ASA Card, which it joined recently as one of the attractions, and which my company allows us to ballot for, I got to visit them for free!!

Had a great day today. Started off with using the card to enter Sentosa via the cable car. I got myself the Sky Pass, which would otherwise cost me $29.

Wheee.. the view of Sentosa!

Wheee.. the view of Sentosa!

Got off at Sentosa Station, and then I took a short walk to Imbiah Lookout Station (part of SG Cable Car’s new Sentosa Line) and headed towards Merlion Station where it was another short walk to the Aquarium. Entry tickets costs $32 for adults or $28 for SG Citizens, but I got to go in for free.

The entrance!

The entrance!

I must admit, I was impressed with the aquarium from the start. As soon as you enter, you start a journey chronicling the sea voyages of Asian countries from the past – what voyagers experienced (piracy), what they brought to trade, etc etc. Very well done.

The walk or 'voyage' down..

The walk or ‘voyage’ down..

Quanzhou (China) -> Qui-nhon (China) -> Palembang (Indonesia) -> Malacca -> Galle (Sri Lanka) -> Calicut -> Muscat (Omar) -> Malindi (Kenya)

You can pay $2 to enter the Typhoon Theatre, which was worth it and something I enjoyed. The story was in good English and they recreated the feel of being in the boat and going/experiencing the journey very well.

Are you ready to journey?

Are you ready to journey?

The aquariums were magnificent, new, clean, BIG! And, crowded too, despite being a weekday. I managed to be present for the Ocean Chatter at 1.15pm at the Ocean Gallery, which was a pretty basic informative talk and easy Q&A where you get something small from the staff if you answer correctly.

This photo does not do it justice :P

This photo does not do it justice ๐Ÿ˜›

I went on to the SEA Monsters Past and Present, an exhibit happening until 30 September. It was pretty nice, but small inside the ‘present’ exhibit. What can one expect anyway, not many are living fossils today. Amongst those living fossils are horseshoe crabs, alligator gars (which you can also see at River Safari)

Ooo, the jaws of Megalodon!

Ooo, the jaws of Megalodon!

This is an axolotl, also a living fossil.. and what an interesting looking creature..

This is an axolotl, also a living fossil.. and what an interesting looking creature..

I was at the Sea Dragons exhibit around 3pm, the scheduled feeding time, but nothing happened though.

There was also an exhibit on shipwreck boats and some recovered items. At the entrance of the Aquarium, the public can also sit and watch a short film, played on a huge boat hull with a lion head. All in all, I was pretty impressed with S.E.A. Aquarium, and spent about 3 hours + there. Lots of things to see and learn, and you can also sit back and relax and watch the fishes go by at the Ocean Gallery.

I then moved on to Underwater World, by taking the Cable Car Sentosa Line to Siloso Point Station. This was mys eond visit, the first, about a year ago. I like Underwater World because of the interaction you get with the sea creatures. Over at the S.E.A. Aquarium, there was a touchpool along the way where you get to touch starfish and sea cucumber. At the Underwater World you can touch rays (their stings are removed) and small sharks. You can also feed fish, which is really fun. There are capsule machines containing fish food and which cost $2. You put your hand into an extended pocket of water and the big yellow fish will excitedly come out to suck the food into their ‘toothless’ mouth. The other section of colourful fishes are more shy.

Hello cutie! I have food for you! Come and eat!

Hello cutie! I have food for you! Come and eat!

The Milk Bottle with fish feed!

The Milk Bottle with fish feed!ย 

The feed in the milk bottle feeds 'em..

The feed in the milk bottle feeds ’em..

There is another pool with ‘koi’ like fishes which you can also buy food from capsules or buy a ‘milk bottle’ from the Souvenir Shop consisting of fish food mixed with water (very little though, probably about 1/4 of the bottle) and costing $4. You will get a refund of $1 when you return the bottle. I really felt like I was feeding a baby when I fed the fish! Lol! Last year when I came you could also buy cut fish to feed the rays, which was really a great experience. You tuck the food in between your finers slide your hand against the wall and the rays will come to you and slowly suck the food from your fingers. I wanted to do that today but was informed that feeding the rays was stopped ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

"nooo... don't leave me!!!"

“nooo… don’t leave me!!!”

I then managed to make it for the 5.45pm pink dolphin and sea lion show which was fun fun fun!! The sea lions Glenda and Brenda certainly enjoyed the attention from the crowd. And boy, could they dance!! I think this is the highlight and main difference between Underwater World and S.E.A. Aquarium, as the Aquarium basically has marine life that Underwater World has as well.

Check me out now! :D

Check me out now! ๐Ÿ˜€

Dolphins are just wonderful! :)

Dolphins are just wonderful! ๐Ÿ™‚

All in all, I had a great day! I saved alot, and also got to visit 2 different attractions within the same vicinity, both in a class of their own, and learn as well as enjoy so much of our marine life. ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

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Legoland Malaysia & Universal Studios Singapore

So this year – 2013 – I visited 2 theme parks – LEGOLAND in Johor Bahru Malaysia in January and then Universal Studios Singapore in March. Really happy to be able to visit them, and what more with 2 of my good pals.

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LEGOLAND – 12th Jan 2013

KFC Singapore had a promotion at that time, whereby they would give you a 30% off the entrance ticket to LEGOLAND when you purchased one of their meals. This was a fantastic deal, because I calculated we saved around SGD$18! The entrance fee, converted to Singapore dollar, was S$58, but we paid S$40 because of the discount.

What I did was I stayed with my friend, who’s Malaysian, on Friday night and then she drove to LEGOLAND on Saturday.
There are buses that will bring you to LEGOLAND from Singapore
http://www.legoland.com.my/Plan/Bus-Services/
There are also packages offered from time to time by online websites like Groupon and Deal to LEGOLAND.

One of my friends went to LEGOLAND in mid December, and she mentioned to me that it was so crowded that she had to wait up to an hour for the rides, and what was more, it rained. On the day I was there the park was not crowded at all and the sun was up. It was hot but it good weather to be around the park. So its important to plan your visit well to enjoy it to the max.

I was really impressed with the figures at LEGOLAND. I don’t recall having Lego toys as a child, but it is really amazing to see what can be made out of the Lego bricks! And some of the displays could have taken years to be put together. Here I share with you some of my favourites at LEGOLAND:

See the twin towers at the back :)

See the twin towers at the back ๐Ÿ™‚

Merlion Park in Singapore

Merlion Park in Singapore

Elephants in Thailand

Elephants in Thailand

Miniature Food Stalls, I love this!

Miniature Food Stalls, I love this!

Lego Skeletons muahaha!

Lego Skeletons muahaha!

Wolves surrounding the castle, aaaoooo!!! (yes there was a Lego castle!)

Wolves surrounding the castle, aaaoooo!!! (yes there was a Lego castle!)

One of the rides that we did, and it was fun!

One of the rides that we did, and it was fun!

What I like about the rides in LEGOLAND were that they were family oriented, such that they were right in the middle, not so scary, and yet, not so mild either.
Another similar theme park which I loved very much was ‘Windows of the World’ in Shenzhen, China, which I visited in February 2011.

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UNIVERSAL STUDIOS – 9 March 2013

Universal Studios! It opened quite recently I think, within the last couple of years but so many of my friends have already been to it. So was really happy to find out that one of my friends had not and she didn’t mind going. It was KIV for a few months until our visit finally materialised on Sat, 9 March, a week before the 1 week school holidays.

To me, the price of the ticket was expensive – SGD$74. But MasterCard was currently having a promotion of 15% off, so it was $63, plus an additional $5 F&B voucher (which was useful, meals cost $12-$15 at the Madagascar food section where we went). My friend also wanted to pay $50 more for the Express pass, which allowed you to skip the normal queue, and which I agreed, because I’ve heard horror stories of waiting times of up to an hour or more for the rides.

Actually when I look back, I felt that there was no need for the Express Pass, coz once again it all depends on the time of the year you visit the park. In the morning there were not much queues, and later on, when I queued again without the Express Pass for the Transformers Ride, it took me only 15minutes to my turn. And at The Revenge of The Mummy ride, he did not even need my Express pass, he just let me go into the Single Ride lane (which led to the same queue same as the Express Pass lane) as I was by myself. So its really up to you. All in all it was really a bomb, $116 excluding food and souvenirs, but I did have a good time ๐Ÿ™‚
MasterCard also had a 10% discount for retail purchases, which I found out by chance.

I absolutely loved the Transformers 3D ride, it really felt like you were in the movie, fighting with the Autobots against the Decepticons! And it was so addictive, I could go for it again and again!
The Revenge of The Mummy was a blast too – part of the ride was in total darkness!
In fact these 2 movies are amongst my favourites.

And I also loved the Canopy Flyer at Jurassic Park, where your legs dangle freely as you ‘soar’ above, but I felt the ride was too short.. the fun lasted just a few seconds ๐Ÿ™‚

And in Waterworld, you would get drenched, literally.

Shrek 4D adventure was nice, but we sat in the first row, which was too close in my opinion.

And of course, the much talked about Battlestar Galactica! We chose to do the Human ride – and it was exhilarating! A bit giddy afterwards. I would not have survived the Cyclone – it turns you upside down and I don’t do well with upside down roller coasters haha ๐Ÿ™‚

But part of the highlight of my visit was meeting all the mascots!! ๐Ÿ˜€
In fact, it is a dream of mine to be a mascot one day.

I love Sesame Street to this day! Grew up watching 'em :)

I love Sesame Street to this day! Grew up watching ’em ๐Ÿ™‚

Cheeky Ernie went down to the audience, right in front of me, and then wiggled his bum at me!

Cheeky Ernie went down to the audience, right in front of me, and then wiggled his bum at me!

Check out their six pack abs, looked like they've been painted on haha! :P

Check out their six pack abs, looked like they’ve been painted on haha! ๐Ÿ˜›

I love the Madagascar penguins!!! This is my fav shot :D

I love the Madagascar penguins!!! This is my fav shot ๐Ÿ˜€

Part of the the Hollywood Dreams Parade

Part of the the Hollywood Dreams Parade

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Tough, but ultimately I’m living my life :)

So it’s been some time since I posted.

What have I been up to? Quite a bit actually ๐Ÿ™‚

One week after I came back, I started working at the Family Courts. A stint that lasted about 10 weeks. Interesting experience. Though the Family Courts dealt with Family Matters and we were doing ‘hotwash’, which was the clearing of pending cases from waay back as 1998, it was interesting to attend court and hear a ‘mention’. Learnt court terms, saw people getting handcuffed (not very dramatic but still not very nice) and found out that the judges are really nice people, who also earn a lot, obviously ๐Ÿ˜› and my colleagues were great too. Got along really well with Hanisah, a girl who is waay younger than me and who is my Ngee Ann Poly mass comm junior! She used to work at MediaCorp as Assistant Director for a youth TV series and I learnt some interesting stuff about that sector from her too. The job ended 30th Nov 12.

And then December I totally relaxed. Did nothing much the first week. Then started preparing for Christmas, albeit pretty slowly. Took up balloon twisting, now that is cool! Can only make simple creations though. And tried to take up 2 courses with ‘Coursera’, an online website that offers free courses in collaborations with worldwide universities on a wide range of topics, you get to watch lectures and take quizzes, even exams for some, and if you complete it successfully you get certified!! How cool is that! I signed up for ‘Think Again, How to Reason and Argue’ and ‘Drugs and the Brain’ though I never successfully completed both, coz I moved on to my next (temp) job which took up a whole lot of time and my energy.

Yep, January came and I realised its not easy just staying at home, I had all the time in the world to do the hobbies I wanted but what about the money to survive? So I started looking out in the Classifieds for short term jobs. Wanted a CNY (Chinese New Year) job, and wanted to try packing/promoting with Malaysia Dairy Industries but that didn’t work out. 1) they didn’t get back to me if the promoters needed to be able to speak Mandarin. Probably! 2) when I called them again about packers all the vacancies were filled.
Wanted to be a dental assistant to see how that industry was like but they were looking for somebody more permanent whereas I could only work a couple of months. Called another one regarding packing but they wanted guys as they were packing electronics. Offered me admin job at Expo but that was too far for me. Felt bad that I was choosy but oh wells. And then finally the first job that I applied and went for the interview I got on the spot. Although I wanted to consider first, but I only had until 12pm the next day to do so. And I decided I wanted it because I wanted to see how that industry was like. And it was for a flower/hamper company – Goodwood Florist!!

Turned out to be the MOST tiring and exhausting job I’ve ever done in my entire life, even more tiring than the apple job I did in NZ, but no regrets. Started off quite badly coz there was this lady who kept scolding me and the other temporary staff for every single thing we did. She was so bad tempered, she scolded basically everyone (except guys, we noticed!) and kept banging stuff.. a lot of negative energy there. She even scolded me one day for something that she herself did, and even though I tried to explain to her she ignored me. That was the last straw. The next time she scolded me, I went to tell the other supervisor, who made me do something else. And then shortly after she didn’t come to work for a week. We found out her mother was terminally ill, and she had some problems with her mother earlier. Which was probably why she behaves the way she does. And then a week after that her mother passed away.

Anyway, closer to Chinese New Year we started working at 9am and finishing past 1am sometimes, 6 days a week, 15 hours or more a day is really, really tiring. We were supposed to end on Valentine’s Day but were asked to extend, coz that lady who scolds was not back in the office yet, and I agreed. Met some really interesting and nice people too. The florists were all basically nice peeps! On the 1st day I extended I ordered lunch and got something else coz the order didn’t go through and the lunch substitute wasn’t very nice. But earlier a florist gave me a cupcake so that made lunch bearable. And then there is this PRC guy and he suddenly came to me and said ‘u h-o-t-e me?’ I said ‘h-a-t-e’? and he was like yeah! and I was like, ‘nooo!’ and he laughed. On the same day he offered me Mentos and described it as ‘sugar’. When I was leaving that day, another PRC lady who wanted to be my friend Valerie’s (this sweet 18 year old girl who works temp together with me) mother in law asked me if I wanted some flowers (which she was probably going to throw away) and she then wrapped them up nicely for me in newspaper to bring back. A few weeks back another florist noticed me coughing and offered me a herbal candy which really helped. And there was this guy stationed outside who always smiled teasingly at me and Valerie. I learnt that some people take a while to warm up to you but that doesn’t mean they’re not nice. And that the world is made up of a variety of colourful, different characters.

Working there was tough also because during one period in time, probably a week or so ago, I started feeling really unhappy and questioning myself as to why I was doing this. ‘This’ as in working temp jobs that last a only a month, earning a meagre pay (the florist job costs $5 an hour), having to watch how much I spend on food even, I felt so poor and really really unhappy. I wondered if I should forfeit the $200 deposit I spent to learn Muay Thai in Thailand, something which I had to do by May, and go back to working full time. After all, what I am doing currently is against the norm. Why work temp jobs when I have a degree and experience? Why subject myself to exhausting jobs, belittle myself to being scolded unnecessarily, having to watch closely how much I spend, etc, just because I want to follow my dreams (and learning martial arts is one of them) which don’t seem to be materialising and which I don’t seem to have the money and confidence to do? When I could be going back to earning a couple of thousands a month and living a stable life like what my current peers in Singapore are doing. Even my ex-boss asked me a couple of weeks ago if I wanted to go back to my old company and work with her, although in a different department but I threw that chance away all because I wanted to follow my dreams. But is it worth it? People will ask what I am doing and I will be looked down upon, its true. My older brother told me to look for a permanent job way back in September as he said employers will think that I am not committed. Even one of my friends kept asking me ‘Have you found a job?’ back in December, but to me, life is not all about working or getting jobs, and then while she offered to ask around her company for temp jobs for me, when I checked back with her a month later she said it slipped her mind and then asked me why don’t I look for something permanent along the lines of what I was doing before. I was a little bit sad and disappointed really.

Talked it through with my mum just for encouragement and decided it was worth it to continue doing what I was doing and pursue my dreams. As long as whatever I choose to do I offer it up to God. And I am sure he will bless my decision. After all, I answer to no one except God. But it was REALLY, REALLY TOUGH.

And then yesterday the bigger picture came to light. Yesterday I got the encouragement I was looking for.

Quite a bit of a story before that, but I have to go into the details. Started on 15th Feb, the day I extended. Finished work around 11plus pm, reach home close to 12am, and then while usually I would go to sleep, I decided to check my email. And found out that my friend from the U.S. was in Singapore! And he would be leaving the very next day!! I was so bummed, if I hadn’t agreed to extend work I could had met him on that day itself! And with work still being so busy, how could I get let off earlier to go and meet him! What if I couldn’t meet him at all, but I had to!! And then I found out another friend of mine was going to India next Tues to volunteer!! India, a country I wanted to go to also but buying my time, and of course, if I had a choice, I would not want to go there alone! And I want to volunteer there too, with Mother Teresa’s charity! I emailed her for details but had to wait for her reply. That night I couldn’t sleep. So hyped up. Would I get to meet my friend? What would happen next in my life? Finally fell asleep around 3plus am, and had to be up at 7plus am.

Well I am happy to share that it all worked out ok. Of course I prayed like mad too. I felt bad, because I couldn’t pray much earlier as I felt I didn’t deserve to pray when I’ve not been good so far. And yet, in this desperate position of mine I couldn’t do anything except pray and I wanted to because in the end, who is in control? God is! So I went to work and my texted my American friend (who got himself a SG SIM card, perfect!) and managed to work out to meet for dinner around 6.30pm, which was great coz then I could continue to help out at work until 5.30pm, which was not too bad. And I met him, and my dear friend Valerie joined us, I thought it might be awkward but it was not, it was all good!! And then I went back home and saw my friend’s reply about India – she would be going to volunteer at exactly the same place I wanted to! She would be travelling after volunteering! And she would not be going alone! + she didn’t mind if I joined her! And there was a possibility of joining my American friends too as they are gonna travel around South East Asia. And as I took some time to reflect, about how something I was so worried about turned out alright (because, really, I think I was worried as I felt that matters were not in my hands and beyond my control, but it all worked out because I let God take over). I reflected on the wonderful and interesting characters I met recently. I reflected on how friends I’ve made overseas took time to come to SG and made arrangements to meet up with me. (besides my American friend, my China friend Vivi would be coming too!) I reflected on the freedom I had at this point in time to join my friends in their travel. I felt extremely, extremely happy with my current situation. Life! Its not always smooth, but I’m living it. And loving it. And that’s whats makes me happy. Living life!!

See, the thing is, my life to me is not about climbing the ladder or earning thousands a month, or status, wealth, following the conventional, the norms, the crowds, attaining the 5Cs (cash, credit cards, condo, car, career) in Singapore. I’ve always told God I want to something meaningful in life. And of course right now I don’t have a family of my own, am not tied down, so its my chance to make things happen. While some may say/think/feel that I am wasting my time doing all these temp jobs and creating a death-bed for myself career wise (especially in SG!!), what I am actually doing is learning a lot of new and interesting things. Seeing how different industries work. And meeting a lot of interesting new people! Some nice, some not so nice, but in meeting new people and learning new things that I am growing to be a better person!! And that is my ultimate aim anyway, God knows!! So what if I am earning a meagre pay? I have to freedom to leave when I want, and of course, travel when I want to ๐Ÿ™‚ My friends who work full time have to apply for leave and get to go for short term holidays. Whereas for me, I will be able to volunteer, do exchanges, see places at my own pace, and ultimately, that is my dream. To be able to do what I want. Learn new things, meet new people, become a better person in the process, and freedom and choice to do all that! And that is what I am doing now! Thank you Jesus! And when the going gets tough I am just gonna have to remind myself of all these and the tough will be nothing but a piece of cheese. Or cake. Haha, just had to make it rhyme ๐Ÿ™‚

God bless,
Marie

Categories: Life, My Spiritual Journey, Travel | Leave a comment

It’s just not the same

9 months.

9 months is the length of time that a baby spends in its motherโ€™s womb before it is ready to enter this world.

9 months is also the length of time I spent living in New Zealand.

21 October 2011 to 21 July 2012

Its funny, back in May, just 2 months before it was time for me to leave NZ, I was just commenting to a friend how I loved Europe more, because everywhere I went there was something to explore, whereas to me, at that time when I had stayed in Alexandra (Central Otago NZ) previously and was at that moment living in Roxburgh, NZ was just mountains and lands and plains with nothing round the mountain, or rather, its corner to discover.

And yet my opinion changed pretty quickly.

The day after I left NZ and stepped into neighbouring Australia (Sydney) I already started to miss NZ badly. Australia, or rather, Sydney, being a city, was nothing like New Zealand. The longer I was away from NZ the more I missed it. Now in November its been 4 months since I left NZ but I miss it more than ever.

I miss the beautiful nature and wildlife. Forget what I said earlier about there being nothing to explore and discover. The beautiful, vast backdrops and magnificent surroundings give me a sense of awe and wonder, and peace, serenity and tranquility.. and its in this beautiful nature where I can stop to breathe, think and appreciate and know that its God the creator of this awesome land, is ever present.

The wildlife. Where else in the world could you have wild penguins crossing the road, just being at a distance of 1metre or less away from you? Oamaru, NZ that is! Where else can you see seals and walruses lying on the coastline so near to you? The road from Blenheim to Kaikoura! Where else in the world can you see cute little brown kiwis in the wild? Stewart Island of course! (But Iโ€™ve yet to visit there) Ahhh and much, much more. .. thereโ€™s also sounds and glaciers, volcanoes and mountains, glowworms, Maori culture, ancient fossilized forests, the lists goes onโ€ฆ.

You can’t see this anywhere else in the world!

Penguins crossing the road! “Look right, look left…”

I miss the people. The wonderful Kiwi friends Iโ€™ve made โ€“ Maree and John Milliken whom I did farm exchange with, Dawn from the apple packhouse, Loretta Gye my landlady @ Alexandra, Kath and Errol Croy whom I met by chance!… some of the service staff whom were really nice people too โ€“ like the lady from KiwiPost Alexandra whom I gave a compliment via email but never got a reply.

I miss the friends I made in New Zealand. The travelers I met in NZ seem to be of a different kind than those I meet in other countries hahaโ€ฆ

I miss NZ snacks!!! Bluebird Grainwave Chips โ€“ Sour Cream and Onion especially! Whittaker Chocolate โ€“ Coconut and Dark Almondโ€ฆ. the chocolates in NZ are of a different kind altogetherโ€ฆ. Ahhhโ€ฆ Le Snack Crackers! Hummus dips! Housebrands like Pams from shopping at New World supermarket!!!

My fav snacks in NZ! ๐Ÿ˜€ Bluebird Grainwave chips and Le Snack can’t be gotten in Singapore ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

I think I have to stop here. The more I think about what I miss, the more I have a heavy heart hahaโ€ฆ.

Christchurch.
Akaroa.
Oamaru.
Invercargill.
Gore.
Alexandra.
Clyde.
Roxburgh.
Queenstown.
Wanaka.
Dunedin.
Ashburton.
Blenheim.

Above were the lists of places I stayed in, and visited, while in NZ. All were wonderful. Well, maybe Invercargill was the exception. Maybe it was so city-like so I didnโ€™t like it much.

Anyway, I was just so happy and carefree in New Zealand.. and life was certainly more relaxed back there than over here.. there is also so much more to experience and discover in NZ โ€“ and I have not yet explored the country โ€“ have not even been to the North Island! I cannot wait to go back โ€“ and I really hope and pray that somehow, I could live and work in New Zealand again one day. Soon!

Hagley Park in Christchurch, June 2012 (Winter and the unexpected snow!!)

Hagley Park in Christchurch, July 2012

Categories: Life, New Zealand, Travel, Working Holiday Visa | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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