Friday, December 05, 2008


What is a journey?

A journey is not a trip.

It is not a vacation.

It is a process. A discovery.

It is a process of self discovery.

A journey brings us face to face to ourselves.

Journey shows us not only the world, but how we fit in it.

Does the person creates a journey, or does the journey creates a person?

The journey is life itself.

Where will life take you?

- Louis Vuitton

Monday, November 17, 2008

Some random thoughts

I was taking the second last train back home from KL Sentral Station and was listening to some very comforting ballads. When I looked out the opened doors of the train, I saw the famous landmark in Kuala Lumpur, the Twin Tower KLCC. For a moment, I felt glad being in KL, back to warm climate, back to dressing normal tees and shorts, back to food haven, back to a place I am familiar with, and back home. But as I got home, it has been a very lame fortnight (Yea, I am home for half a month already. Time flies.).

Well, perhaps I was giving excuses to myself. I took about a week to get used to the time zone difference – a.k.a. jet lags and my new spectacles. I lazed around at home, went out meeting friends and spending money for another week. Lame huh? I have no idea why, but I have been kind of running away from the mess I left behind before I left for UK, from my unpacked luggage, from those picture proofs which I needed to sort out either to put it online for you to view or print it out to show, from things I need to do, from things needing my attention… AH! There is just so much to worry about, and home didn’t seem like a place which provokes me to work on what is pending.

Perhaps my room is too small, everything is cluttered and messy! Every time I sit down facing my table, I tend to stare at my messy and cluttered laptop to get online and in touch with friends and random people. There is just so much mess in my room that I chose to look away from these and just be a lotus eater. But every time when I went out, go to friends’ house, or visit the mall, or go to some spacious places, or even a very clean and neat room, I will want my room to be that. But as I think of how messy it is, I feel very stressed and lazy to clean it.

I have no idea why I think this way, perhaps I miss UK, miss the freedom and independence, miss the chilly weather, miss my friends in UK, or am I just feeling empty and lonely? I have no idea…

Procrastination? NOOOO!!! I don’t want to be defeated by it again! Those who know me well know this has been affecting me ever since. I still can’t kick it, yet…

I was working with my dad a few days ago, we chatted and he told me something. He said, many says his tools such as carpentry and gardening tools is very effective and sharp, it’s because he did maintenance on his tools, spent time to sharpen and oil them before putting them back to where it belongs.

As a very famous Chinese saying goes, “工欲善其事,必先利其器”, which means to get work done efficiently, tools must be sharpened first. Yes, most people do know how to work on this, but how many would want to sharpen their tools after work? Not that I know of any.

What most do is that, they only sharpen tools as required. The tools might be so blunt and ineffective that one might take one whole working day just to sharpen it. At the end of the day, no job is done. Why? It is because the whole day has been spent on sharpening the tools. Lesson - sharpen your tools after every time or most of the time you have used it to keep it in best condition for an efficient job.

*to be continued*

Friday, October 10, 2008

Diary of Oct 09

9th of October; it is 3 o’clock in the morning. I woke up suddenly, not because of alarms or bad dreams, I guess it was heat. The portable, old-fashioned heater was switched on to heat the air, and it indirectly heated my bed as well. My stomach was full as well, of the foot long subway sandwich I ate last night as dinner-cum-supper. I got up and turned off the heater, got back into the bed. It felt cooler already. Still, I couldn’t keep my eyes shut and get into sleep mode. As I look out the window, I saw stars glittering above the clear sky.

This is the 11th night, and most likely the last night I am in this old restaurant. According to the owner, Mr Colin Perry, the restaurant is about 25 years old, older than me. After being vacant for 4 months, I came here and became the temporary guard of the restaurant.

It was a mutual thing. I watch the restaurant for him, and he gives me a place to stay for these few days, no food supplies though, but I am happy enough to save a lot of money.

Throughout the period staying here, nothing much really happened. Well, probably some mishaps here and there, but it was bearable. One major thing did happen. There was a false fire alarm.

It was a Sunday night, the night of 5th October. It was the night where I had plans arranged for tomorrow, and I headed to bed early to get up early. I even slept without turning on the music. For all other days I couldn’t really sleep without the music, because it would be too quiet. Too quiet. No sound of insects, no sound of fan, no sound of air-conditioner, no sound of nothing, besides passing vehicles. Just for this day, I went to bed without music. I do not know what happened to my mind, it wandered into the restaurant, and had a vision of a fire in the restaurant. I have kind of ignored it, and went into sleep mode.

I was jolted up by loud fire alarms installed in all the rooms in restaurant. I looked at the time; it was a few minutes to 1 am. Oh goodness, what triggered the alarm at this time of the day? I immediately called Mr Perry and informed him about the alarm, and I investigated the whole restaurant for fire. I looked everywhere, but I do not see or feel any heat.

One of the LEDs of the fire alarm panel was flashing. I looked at it and it says the triggered alarm is somewhere near the room I was sleeping at. It was really spooky. I tried to silence the alarm but I wasn’t able to do so. I went to the room and wore my jacket, my tartan scarf, grabbed my phone, my keys and got out of the restaurant to wait for Mr Perry to save the night. The neighbour restaurant heard the fire alarm as well, I saw them peeking out of the window to satisfy their curiosity. I wanted to shout to them, ‘It’s not me! Don’t call the fire brigade!’ but I decided not to. I kept quiet, and stood in front of the restaurant. At that time, I was seriously hoping that the fire brigade not to come. They would really further spoil the night which is already so spoilt, as they will need to do examinations and all the questionings. No-no.

As I have nothing to do while waiting, I looked around. The dark woodland gives me somewhat a creep, and I am so not looking into them. I looked up at the sky instead. To my surprise, a hole was formed in the clouds directly above the restaurant, clearly revealing millions of stars in the universe. It was amazing. I have never felt so fascinated about what has happened. I do not have the right word to describe my feeling at that moment. But the feeling was soon over due to the noise made by the false fire alarm, and the chilly wind which was blew on me.

After I was distracted by the alarm and the chilly wind, the hole in the sky seems to be closed by the clouds nearby. The hole was disappearing. Then I heard a car drove in the driveway of the restaurant. Thank goodness it was Mr Perry. Mr Perry says it is too late for an investigation, what he wanted to do was to silence the alarm. So am I. After some manual browsing, I managed to silence the alarm. He was relieved that the alarm was silenced; it was a major relief for me too.

We had a small chat after that, as he noticed that I was unsettled even when the alarm is silenced. I told him about what I have observed and witnessed, he was surprised and fascinated as well. I told him too about the déjà vu I have experienced at some places in the UK, such as the hostel in Exeter, the University and some other places. It was like I had dreamt about them few months back, but I know I had been there.

He told me that I might be gifted with precognition ability. Well, it might be true, but I don’t think so. He even joked that I should make use of the ability to get lottery numbers! If I knew how to manipulate them, I am a rich and happy man already. Naw, even if I do know how to manipulate them to get the numbers, I won’t buy it most probably. It breaches the written path. Unless it came to me, that is a different story.

He noticed I was feeling better already, and it was late. I wanted to ask him if it was OK for me to overnight at his house, but I didn’t, because I don’t really want to disturb him and his family. He left the house after the chat, and assured me that the alarm will not go off again, and that he is just a phone call away if anything happened. I really appreciate him of doing that, but the thought of having the vision of a fire and triggered the fire alarm is really unsettling.

I have no idea what to do after he left. My first reaction was to call home and talk to my mother about what had happened. With over 150 minutes of free international talk time left in my phone, I called home straight away.

My sister picked up the phone, and told me that mum was not around as she was out for breakfast. I was surprised that she was up so early, because it was only 10 minutes to 9 am. I told her about it. I felt much better after that. Mum came back after that, and we chatted about it as well, and we discussed about our next trip to Canton in the coming Chinese New Year. I really felt much better after that. In fact, I am glad that I have such a loving family. I went to sleep after that by listening to Janice’s soulful ‘Day and Night’ album. The next day, I got an antique portable heater from Mr Perry, which kept me warm for the last few nights I am around.

It was the stars which glittered in the sky made me wrote this down, and since I was unable to sleep well, this has been a past time for me to stay awake until 5:30am. I need to catch a 5:59am train to London Victoria to catch an 8am bus to Liverpool.

Hell yea, you are right. I am off to travel again. It is a big plan as well, but this time it was meant for relax and less of backpacking. I will be in Liverpool and Manchester for 9th and 10th of October, then I will fly to Prague, Czech Republic with Rachel and a couple (mind you, me and Rachel is just friends) for 3 days 2 nights, and fly back to London Midlands, near Derby.

I will head to Nottingham alone for visiting purposes on the next day then catch a 3:30pm train back to London St Pancras. I would probably head to my new ‘harbour’ which is a friend’s house in East London for a quick rest and dinner, then I will head to London Victoria again to catch a bus to London Stansted Airport at 10:30pm.

I will overnight at the airport... (to be continued)

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Days back in the UK

As you have known, I was out of my accommodation in Liverpool on the fifth of September and went on a short trip around Europe.

When I was in London for a few days before I left UK to Italy, I had doubts where I would live after the whole 16 days’ trip in Europe.

I was worried because I would have about a month time before I go back to Malaysia because I was unable to move my flight dates forward.

I was naive. I thought I could make it in the UK after my studies. Thus, I had decided to return at mid November. After being here for a few months, things just aren’t looking very bright, and I miss home a lot.

After some discussion with my parents, I contacted the travel agent to move forward my dates, they was unable to help me because the seats are all booked up at economy class, and since I purchased the return ticket with student price, I was unable to change the class of the ticket. The best date of return is 30th Oct, with 18 hours of wait in HKIA for transit back to KLIA.

Oh well, another month in UK, without much help I could rely much on besides money, I could survive I guess. If I were to stay in hostels, it would easily cost me £15 per night, and with at least £5 of food, I would need at least £20 a day, and £140 a week, and £560 a month, to survive in the UK.

Thanks to a friend I know who is living in London; his uncle offered me a place to stay at Tadworth, Surrey - a small town in a county south of London, which has train services running into London every half hour. (Insert map with driving direction from London to Tadworth)

It was an Oriental restaurant known as Royal Phoenix, but it has been left alone, or to be exact, abandoned for a few months after being notified that it would be purchased for redevelopment.

I visited the place before I leave London, it was not very dirty, but it was dusty, and things were out of place. After having looked at the rooms, I told myself I will go through this, because this is been offered to me to stay for free.

After getting this accommodation, I felt much safer when I leave London on 9th September to continue the journey with my friends.

When I got back into London from the trip on 25th September, I was feeling very happy because I am seeing English words again! Italian, French and German were what I see all the time during the trip, with little English word. I could even speak and understand some basic Italian and French (Just a little).

I went back to Liverpool to get my luggage and see autumn in Liverpool. It was gorgeous.

After grabbing my 30kg luggage, my friends and I got to Manchester to spend the last two days together in the UK this time. They flew back to Malaysia on 28th September from Manchester Airport.

We went on a little tour in Manchester as well, to Manchester’s China Town and the famous Old Trafford, Football ground of Manchester United.

As you know, I spent my birthday and Mid-autumn festival in Italy, so I didn’t really get a chance to eat mooncake. I ate a red bean paste mooncake in Manchester’s China Town!

While we were away for our so-called European trip, there were some changes to the local transport fares.

Daysaver bus pass in Liverpool was £3, now £3.20.
One way train ticket from Liverpool to Manchester was £8.80, now £9.10.
Daysaver bus pass in Manchester was £3.30, now a f***ing £4.

Things are getting more expensive in the UK. It is so hard to live in the UK now. I have to find ways to save.

Too bad we did not take a group photo before I bid goodbye to Chalis, Kien Fu and Kelvin. Or else they could be featured here too! Lolz!

I took a 5 hour bus from Manchester to London with my 30kg luggage, 7kg backpack and 5kg plastic bag containing miscellaneous items. I hand-carried them from the London Victoria coach station to Victoria underground station (10 minutes walk without luggage), where no lifts or accessibility access is available (this means I carried all of them by stairs), and all the way from East Putney underground station to my friend’s house which is about 10 minutes walk without luggage.

It was tough work. I was sweating even with the cold weather.

Finally, after some hours, I got to Royal Phoenix.

Things weren’t right when I reached there. 1. It was very dusty.
2. It has the abandoned-for-some-time smell.
3. No hot water – no shower
4. No heating – cold nights
5. No workable kitchen – no hot food and hot drinking water
6. No Internet access (of course, I am in an abandoned old restaurant).
7. My laptop spoilt. This is because:
a. My laptop doesn’t have enough space to store all the pictures taken during the trip. So:
b. I had to remove my Ubuntu to store those pictures. But:
c. My laptop requires Ubuntu’s boot files, removing it makes my computer unbootable. To solve this:
d. I had to boot with a Windows XP CD to fix the Master Boot Record of my laptop’s hard disk, which governs what should the laptop does when it is booted. But:
e. My laptop’s CD drive is spoilt. To fix this:
f. I need to plug in an external CD drive to boot my computer with it. Luckily: g. There was an old computer in Royal Phoenix which has a CD drive in it. But:
h. I don’t have a screwdriver to unscrew the computer to get the CD drive.
i. In conclusion, I need a screwdriver to get all this fixed.

Well, definitely I didn’t really want to stay there, but I have no choice because I have limited budget to survive for a month, my budget has to include the journey I am heading to, which is Prague in Czech Republic and the Netherlands, which is about 10 days, 3 days in Prague and a week in the Netherlands. My budget is about 50 Euros a day, which means about 500 Euros for the trip and that makes about £420 has to be allocated for the trip.

I only have £10 budget to spend for a day, anything more than that means I will have to ask my parents to transfer money to me again. This is something I do not want to do. I understand that with the credit crunch going on in the States and the UK, they need the money to survive. I sure hope things are not as badly affected in Malaysia.

Well, seriously, things have not been looking very bright. I had to go to my friend’s place to eat hot food, shower and get online, which is something not very good to do, since I am not paying anything and I don’t feel very much welcomed. In Chinese, I feel very bad to 寄人篱下.

As far as I want to tell what happened when I was in Royal Phoenix, I don’t really want to mention it because it was unbearable.

On the first day, I wasn’t really allowed to leave the place because I didn’t have the key to it. But due to some discussion with one of the family members of my friend, I got to the house and showered, ate, and relaxed. I got some groceries too. And I got the key in the end.

On the second day, I didn’t go anywhere. I wanted to go out badly to get breathing mask for cleaning purposes. Mind you I have a very sensitive nose towards dust. I was basically sneezing around almost all the time. I wanted to get a screwdriver to fix my laptop as well.

When I got ready to go out, it was raining. Just to avoid being wet and sick, I stayed at home, and searched the whole restaurant for a screwdriver. I could find none, but some wine opener with a small knife attached to it. With all my might, I tried and tried to unscrew the computer with it, and finally, after few hours of attempt, I got my laptop fixed, and everything seemed less unbearable.

I was in Starbucks and I just love the Jazzy music they played, which calmed me so much and gives me the mood to write so much. I had spent a few days writing this already. Too bad there is no free WiFi connection here, and they are closing at 7pm. Lolz! I am heading to McDonalds to post this online, and to get my dinner before heading back to the old Royal Phoenix. And McDonalds here don't have power points for laptops. Sorry my battery can't last this long for more. So, I will post again soon. Seeya!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Stresses - Sep 01, 2008

There has been a long time since I have wrote down my feelings.

I was seriously devastated few weeks ago, acting totally bizarre. Tasks stacked and feelings are awry.

Things I was stressed about was:

1.) Water

There was a small 1 day water construction in the hostel, causing waters not working for a day. After that day, the water pressure was really really low. If a person uses water, another can't use it. It caused a big problem especially when everyone wants to shower, or brush teeth and stuff like that. This problem lasted for a few weeks.

We lodged a complaint to the accommodation staff, and they sent some maintenance staff to have a look over the problem. There was a blockage at the main valve.

Thank God, Buddha, Jesus and the maintenance staff this problem is over. Now I can shower happily without needing to worry about water problem. Yay!

2.) Financial problems

I was worried about some bank transaction problems. I paid my credit card via Internet banking, and was checking on the balance. It says it will take them 3 working days before the balance is updated, but I think it took more than that, thus I was worried dead that my money might have gone to somewhere else. But thank goodness its OK after 1 or 2 days.

Then I was worried about the travelling expenses as well. But many many thanks to my dear parents, especially my dad for sending some extra money for me to travel. Love you lots Daddy!

Now, I am worried about the budget and expenses that me and my mates, most things is not ready yet, for example, the money about what we have booked (transport and accommodation). This should be settled soon so that everyone can get ready for the tour. But I have yet to do it because I am supposed to do assignment now.

3.) Assignments and Exams

Sometimes I am really afraid that I might not do well in the previous exams, I have this kind of phobia which I am afraid I might fail, which is a very negative thinking.

Now, this is my final assignment in my Bachelor Degree studying period, and the upcoming exam on Wednesday will be my last examination in my Bachelor Degree studying period.

As what Jon told me, this is the last ones. Don't SCREW it up.

Yes, I will try my best to do them now. Fighting!

Now I have written this down, I can concentrate on scoring the assignment and examination!

Well, there are more stresses as well, but they are not as pain-in-the-ass as the previous three.

  • Confirming the exact places to go in various places
  • To go or not to go Belgium
  • What clothes to bring for tour
  • Musics which I need to put in my phone for the tour
  • Supplements to buy for the tour
  • Memory spaces for photo storage (My HDD in my laptop is almost full)
  • and so on... (mostly tour related) :-p

Up till now, I think I should be OK dealing with them. Thanks for listening! *hugz*

Friday, August 01, 2008

Mirror Mirror walking around

I felt a tap on my back and it was Chalis. 'Do you want this?' he asked, showing me a piece of lollipop he was eating, and only a little is left. I smiled and shook my head lightly, then I turned back. What the irony.

It has been great living with my current house mates. Introducing Chalis, Kelvin, Kien Fu and a dear old friend Jonathan.

Birthday of Kien Fu (Middle). From left: Kelvin, Chalis, Kien Fu, Eyrique, Jonathan. From My mates

Well, I have been a wonderful shooting range for them to practice their shooting skills, aka sarcasm, which I am worst at. Almost everyday without fail I will be shot in a way or two. Be it the way I watch TV, the way I eat, the way I react to certain things, the way I do everything. Gosh. Every time I really hate it when they do it. The main reason is because I do not know how to shoot them back.

Not until the tap Chalis gave me just now, I would not have realized that they have been a big piece of mirror to me. The sarcasm was actually a reflection of what I am.

Previously, I did not appreciate any of the sarcasm cast on me. I did not care much anyway. Melz has been one. I know he is sarcastic sometimes, and I know he cared for me. But all those sarcasm kind of fall onto deaf ear.

As I am living on my own now and without the naggings of my parents, I feel like I am in a mess. Perhaps I am used to nags. And honestly I am not completely on my own yet. But by my house mates sarcasm, I tend to know what sorts of things I did wrong, and hopefully I will start to change for the better.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Some little evaluation on OpenOffice,org

I am in Lab now, doing some laboratory work assigned by Dr Zhang Weidong. My third subject in Liverpool John Moores University.

I discovered that the computer is installed with both 2.0 and Microsoft Office 2003. Since I know how to use MsWord already, I opted to use Writer, and see how it works.

Two of the things I have used is table function and picture function.

Table function:
Pretty good function, but it operates different compared to MsWord. Need to explore a little before getting used to it.

Picture function:
No mouse controlled cropping. If cropping is needed, you will have to modify it in the properties. Not too convenient. But it has some nice effects which can be used, which it can convert the pictures to charcoal sketches, which I don't think MsWord has this. Any picture can be washed out and sketched by charcoal. Cool effect! There are also Sharpen, Blur, Mosaic, Polarize, Solarize, Aging, Pop Art etc.

Hope they would improve on the cropping since MsWord 2007 can crop at the very detail level.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Oversea Anxiety

Sorry for not updating this for so long. I know I should have written about my experience in Liverpool for a very very long time. I am in Liverpool at the end of May, and it has been 5, 6 weeks since I am here. I tried to fit in, adjust myself to the local weather, food, and all sorts of craps. And I still miss Malaysia. Currently, I am anxious about my future in Liverpool. Not to that extend that I want to live here or so, but at least a plan on what I want to do, stay and stuff like that after I finish my course here. My course ends at early September. My initial plan was to work for a month plus, then travel for another month, which sounds fantastic to me. Things which I worry about is, will anyone hire me? Will I have a place to stay? Will I be fit enough to survive? These are the basic survival needs, and I am worried about it. Other than that, I worry about where to go in Europe. Things has been vague. I have no idea where I am heading. Hopefully things will be set straight as soon as possible. Ah... I miss Malaysian food!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Religious paths

I discovered this article from BBC, and it is really interesting. Click on the link to see it. Point to ponder.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Inspiring Article

I discovered a very inspiring article from 'The Star' and I would like to share it with all of you. Here it is.

Stalked for my blog

Blogged out By NICOLE TAN

HEY, are you Nicolekiss?” a girl, looking excited yet terrified, squeaked as she tapped my shoulder.

“Err ? yes?” I replied.

“Hi, I read your blog! Can I take a photo with you?”

After obliging her, she shook my hand eagerly and trotted off, giggling, with her girlfriends. I stood rooted to the spot where she had left me, dumbstruck. Wow! All of a sudden, I feel like a star. But I’m not!

I don’t know about you (bloggers), but I have been approached quite a number of times in shopping malls, by strangers who had that “star-struck” expression on their faces, as though they had spotted Andy Lau. In fact, it is getting so regular nowadays that it has become a reflex for me to smile back, shake their hands and pretend that we are long-lost friends.

The unfortunate thing about being a blogger (with a substantial traffic) is that you have your whole life revealed to the world. Everyone has access to information on your life, your past, your current status, what you do or where you have been. Which can be creepy at times ... believe me, I know.

The upside of it, however, you can save your breath and skip the whole “how-do-you-do; I-am-fine” introductory part of ice-breaking.

A typical conversation with a stranger can go like this:

“Hey, you are Nicolekiss, right?”

“Yes, I am.” I am taken aback, but smile back amiably

“I read your blog. I love what you write.”

“Why, thank you; that’s very sweet of you.”

“How was your Indo-China trip? I thought you were still somewhere in Thailand?”

“Oh no, I’ve finished Cambodia and have been back for two weeks now, though I’m still writing about Thailand (on my blog).”

“Wow, great! I look forward to your next entry. How is that guy doing? The one you met in Thailand?”

“Oh, he’s fine. He’s in Thailand. We still keep in contact.”

“Fantastic. Okay, I hope to see you around. Nice meeting you!”

“It was nice meeting you, too.”

And I wave nonchalantly to this stranger/reader whose name remains a mystery to me as he/she walks away. Creepy? Yes. Normal? Most definitely not! To the point I get paranoid when I spot passers-by staring or girls giggling and whispering to each other.

Everywhere I turn, I feel like I’m being watched, and someone is going to jump out from a corner, catching me by surprise. The last thing I want is to be caught by a fan and asked for a photograph when my face looks like it has not seen daylight for years and my hair resembles tumbleweed, and I’m wearing my faded old T-shirt, wrinkled short pants and a pair of worn-out flip-flops.

Speaking of weird, nothing beats this email I received from a reader in the United States. It was in the morning when the reader declared that he had had a nightmare about me and felt that it was a bad omen, and requested that I send my clothes for dry-cleaning immediately. And, the icing on the cake – he would even send me the money to pay for the dry cleaning!

There was also this other reader who offered to cover all my travel and lodging expenses as long as he could be my travel partner to any country I visit. Tempting though the offer was, I think I work better when I travel solo.

Not all encounters are hair-raising, though. I remember this occasion when I had blogged about my father’s surgery and how helpless I had felt to see the old man so weak and frightened on his surgical bed, instead of the man I had looked upon as a hero for as long as I could remember.

In the days that followed right after I published that entry, I had heaps of email flooding my gmail, conveying personal regards and encouragement to stay strong; as well as phone calls from friends and friends of friends, declaring their concern and consoling me. It made me feel appreciated and cared for, but most importantly, it made me realise I was not alone.

Even now, months after the operation, I still have strangers coming up to me and wishing me and my family well. My blog had not only served as a space for me to express my emotions, it had acted as a medium for the world to communicate with me. It was a heartwarming period, and I grew closer to my blog.

I have had many encounters – funny, odd, rude, scary and heart-warming – as a blogger that have brought tears of joy and pain – to my eyes. The mysterious world of blogosphere never ceases to surprise me, and despite the eerie tales that come my way once in a while, I enjoy the thrills and delights my blog has brought me.

I always thought something like this would be good. Nevertheless, things seems to be more complicated than that. It is hard to predict. Blah. Cheers! Take care!