Thursday, August 16, 2007

Back From Camp

Hey there! After ten days I’m finally back from the aforementioned camp. At first I didn’t feel like making a blog entry about it since it was just so and so and the things that I learnt there (things like positive mental attitude and the like) weren’t exactly new. Still, I think might as well let you know that I’m alive.

The thing is, the camp was supposed to be held somewhere in Port Dickson but due to a recent case of dengue there (or so they say) the venue was changed at the last minute to somewhere in Ulu Langat. Not exactly a promising start, plus the fact that we were packed like 20-30 people per dorm just added salt to my wounded expectations. But looking back, I think it’s a good thing though since I’m not exactly a social person and the dorm arrangement made me able to know quite a number of people that I wouldn’t have otherwise.

Course contents aside, I think the benefit that I gained the most from the whole thing is actually peace of mind. See, back in Cambridge, some of my friends always teased me that I’m working for the side of evil (they have this view that all oil companies are evil) and the only retort that I can come up with is that we actually improved the living conditions of the people there by building hospitals and facilities (and this is true). However, during camp, I’ve been assured that my sponsor doesn’t just do business deals with anybody. In fact, we’ve turned down a couple of business offers from certain countries because of their shady behaviour. Knowing that was a relief to me.

After the camp, we were transported to Negeri Sembilan for this homestay program at this place called Laman Bangkinang. It was alright, and the fact that the families stuffed us with food makes it even better. However, I couldn’t shake the awkward feeling of calling other people mom and dad so I sort of wove my words around to avoid addressing them directly while appearing inconspicuous.

We also visited this school where we kinda tried to motivate the students to be successful. I don’t know whether that worked or not but it was quite fun. The two eleven year old kids assigned to my group were quite adorable, and even when our session with them was finished, they went out of their way to come and see us during our other activities later in the day and the day after. To tell the truth, they kinda clung to me, which I don’t mind really.

Well, that’s basically it about the whole camp thing. Among other news, I went to the National Library yesterday and they have this new system of checking out books at the kiosk machines instead of it being manually done by the person behind the reception counter. It is nice to see this step in the forward direction. Now, if they would just buy tons of new books I’ll be satisfied.

Until then,


Thursday, August 02, 2007

Of Pools, Books and Camp

It was green. The water was suspiciously green. It would not look out of place in, say… a lake in the middle of a rainforest, but definitely not in a swimming pool. A pool is supposed to be blue. Light blue that you can see the bottom, but NOT green, or a mixture of green and blue. I used to say turquoise is my favourite colour. Guess I have to rethink that.

Alright, backtrack from the beginning. I was feeling like I did not have enough exercise, which is true and not just a feeling, so I took a bus to PADE, this aquatic centre in Shah Alam, which also served the purpose of getting me familiar with the Shah Alam area and the bus route, since I don’t get out that much. Anyway, upon arriving, I had to wait like, another hour since the actual session times are different from the one on their website, and if I go swimming straightaway I would be kicked out in just thirty minutes (they have a few two-and-a-half hour sessions throughout the day and the ticket’s per session). That was fine since I can just hop on the bus, go around and familiarize myself with Shah Alam and come back (despite the lengthy wait between buses, it was really great that RapidKL introduces this day-ticket thing, reminded me of London). So I went back after an hour and was told the outdoor pool was closed for cleaning, which is a pity because even though people driving by can see me, the pool is outdoor and crystal blue clear and looks like fun. Still, I was there, so I just bought the indoor pool ticket (which was RM1 more expensive than advertised on the website) and changed.

That was when I discovered the condition of the pool. It was a sharp contrast with the outdoor pool, which shocked me, since if you can take care of one pool, then why not another? I swam nonetheless, since it was not that bad (it was neither toxic green nor bubbly) and it should have been chlorinated, but still, I tried not to get too much water in my mouth and fervently hoping that there will be no after effects such as sore throat and the like. Thankfully, I’m still fine. But all in all, I was looking forward to swimming, and I was disappointed. Maybe it was because I chose a less busy time to go swimming (Monday afternoon, I was swimming alone for twenty minutes until somebody else came) and the outdoor pool was closed because there being not many people makes it easier to do maintenance. But really, is it my fault?

And there’s also the fact that the website was not very informative. Of course, you can always call the pool to know something, but I don’t like the hassle of dealing with people, especially with the existence of a site which should do the same thing. I would love to say that one should not create a website and not maintain it, but then again, that’s what I’ve been doing, so I’ll keep quiet about that, he he.

Alright, that’s enough complaining. In other news, I’m overjoyed to find out from Amazon that Wintersmith will be released in paperback at around September. Heck, I don’t know how long I’ve waited for that one. It just looks odd when you have a series and the books were like paperback, paperback and suddenly… hardcover. It doesn’t go together. Also, Jasper Fforde’s new book was out in July. There was even a book signing event in Borders in Cambridge, unfortunately I wasn’t there at the time, due to me being back in Malaysia. Oh well, I’ll buy these two when I get back to the UK, unless, somebody wants to buy it for me as, say, a present, hee hee.

Finally, probably a divine intervention to all my complaining about being bored and not enjoying holidays in Malaysia, I have to attend this camp thing organised by my sponsor, next week. It’s probably a whole load of motivational talks, group activities… you know, that lot, with a homestay programme thrown in. Unfortunately, this means being separated with my beloved computer and all the games in it that I prepared to alleviate boredom during summer. Hence, even though the camp might be fun, at the moment I’m too despondent to be parted with my computer to see reason.

That’s all folks,