Friday, August 29, 2014

Eye Opening Escapade: Part 2

Me: Back to reality

Dalton: So everything that happened in here (Mabul) is not real?

What Dalton said was true, it's just us being in state of denial. Everything is a reality, from the moment we were born, we live in the real world. There's no back to reality. We live in reality all along.


Desmond, or Des is the diving instructor at ScubaJeff, the place we chose to stay during our trip in Mabul Island. We met him at ScubaJeff office in Semporna, while we were waiting for our boat. That day also was Des first day in Semporna and Mabul. So he gladly joined us for the first two days of our short vacation.

Des seemed like a simple guy, wearing a tank top and short for almost all the time of the day. He came from South Africa, and have been travelling since he finished high school. We talked and shared stories while chilling on the deck and stuffing our mouth with some snacks we bought at Semporna. He lead quite an interesting life, since he have been travelling to most of Asian countries. He has seen lots of things and based on his stories, we were quite fascinated and to some degree, respected him. We imagined getting a diving license as an instructor would be easy but that was not the case. Des told us that he need to learn physics, physiology, psychology and all other stuffs, and he need to take two tests, the written one and practical exam to get his license and he need to pass both. Underwent two months of training, and he said to us during that two months preparation, he also can fail without actually taking the real tests. While we thought he seemed to be a laid-back kind of guy, his stories told a different thing, he is a hardworking guy and willing to put his utmost effort for the thing he loves.

It struck me hard. People don't just get what they wanted most of the time. It doesn't come rolling the moment you want it. They strive for it. I know this seems cliche, but then hearing it personally from a person I know, this is not a drama that you watch on tv on weekly basis. Living and struggle are real.


Our last night in Mabul, we joined ScubaJeff staffs for some snacks and drinks, kinda like spending some quality time with the staffs. They actually were holding a welcome party for Des. That night, we had the chance to have some small chit chat with Dalton, the co-owner of ScubaJeff and it turned out that small chit chat lasted for a few hours.

We joined the staffs and Dalton was showing us some magic tricks. I assured you he was quick with his hands, and he was amazing. He had fooled a few of us, though we knew magic trick is an illusion or distraction to the eyes, but we had a good time with his tricks.

Then, we started asking questions. I predicted that his age was around 40 something. He was a civil engineer in Ireland, getting fed up with his boring life, he started travelling and to date, haven't really settled down yet. He plans to go South America for a couple of years, but at the moment he is occupied with works at ScubaJeff as manager, and he also owned a dive shop in Thailand.

Dalton has been to all over the world, except for South America. How cool is that, most of us were surprised and impressed. But then there was also the bad side of it, but Dalton told us, he had fun. Dalton hitch-hiked in Middle East for four months, from Egypt and ended up in Syria. He worked at a cyber cafe, as a bartender, as a DJ and also a part time magician. Well, he said he usually get his own way due to his connection with people, and by the way he talk, I assume he has the ability to convince people. Probably he also know how to scam people, but then let's just be positive. He used to live in the streets, stayed for months for free at a hotel owned by his friends, and get scammed by others till he fell completely broke.

There was plenty of stories he told us that night. And it made us think, are we going in the right direction? Dalton gave us some advices. Life is not all about going in the right direction and making the right decision all the time, it is about finding ourselves and what is our passion. You get lost, you fall down. All of that don't matter, because it happens to everyone.

"I just want to be happy".

"If I don't like something, f**k this and bye bye".


I took it as an example. He may not be a religious person, still single and hasn't settled down anywhere and never plan to do it in the meantime. But he has already experienced life more than all of us and has been through a lot, hence a respect to him.

If people ask me the same question we asked Dalton, probably I don't have any answer. Worst, I become confused than I already am. Honestly, I still don't know about what I really wanted to do, what my passion is, and am I doing this sincerely or out of consideration of playing safe in life.

We become sceptical of people. To survive, we need to have a degree or a diploma. We need to have a professional job, so we can lead a good life. Get married, have kids and all sort of things we can see a lot nowadays. Those who don't, they are bounded to fail. Died alone maybe. Truth be told, I couldn't be like Dalton. I have my own principle and belief.

Yet, I do admire him. I'm thinking of travelling. That's all in my head now. I haven't learn from people as much as I can. I already knew the essence of failure. I can see flaws in my own country, the people, the systems, the moral doctrine, and the culture. But learning is a continuous process till the day you die. And we can never finish learning. There's so much I haven't discover yet, there are places I haven't see with my own eyes and set foot onto. To think I desire those kind of things, sacrifice is certainly needed.

Well, I don't know. I'm still in the process of sorting out my thought.

Ever, I wish I'm happy. For now, I am. In near or distant future, let's pray I'm still happy with what I do.

And you too.

I like kids?

Next? Haha, not in three years time.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Eye Opening Escapade: Part 1

I went to Mabul Island, Sabah for 4 days and 3 nights the other day. And I thought, "I need to write this once I get back". Plus, it's been a while since I wrote something on this blog. Hence, this.

I'm passionate about travelling. Meeting people and seeing new places and worldly wonder can be an eye opening and a breathtaking experience. But for most of the time of my life, I spent it here in Malaysia. Living in Canada for almost a year back in 2010 was a golden opportunity, but because of certain cases and under difficult circumstances, heading back to home to Malaysia was a correct choice.

I never regret what was happening to me, just, I haven't had the chance to go travelling again, mostly due to funds and time constraints as well as I don't have a travel buddy. Yet, they also faced the same problem. But a year ago, just after Eid (in 2013), plane ticket to Sabah was so cheap. Without much thought, 8 of us (former highschool buddies) bought the tickets, impromptu planning a trip to Mabul, Sabah. Honestly I've never thought I could join the trip, as I was occupied with works as a final year student. All is well, the week we planned it, my schedule was free. I left everything behind, and went to Sabah.

There's nothing much to talk about the trip, initially I thought. I enjoyed a night in Tawau. Amazed by how the city I thought to be quite rural, turned out to be better than my own hometown in Bentong, Pahang. Tawau has decent things to offer to the people, the food was great and cheap, the people were amazingly friendly and nice and good looking too. As I was being sceptical at first, I was knocked down by the reality I saw in Tawau. I shouldn't ever judge.

I am a sucker for nature. I enjoy beaches and mountains and I love sunset. Getting to Semporna, about one hour and half drive from Tawau, I was excited. Semporna is a busy town, with just two lanes roadway, the town is filled with people especially at Semporna Jetty. You can see travellers, local people, fishermen, and some of uncomfortable sights you may as well encounter in other places; beggars and poor children. The wet market is crowded with people, but in a certain places and small alleys especially the one facing the sea, the scenery was magnificent enough for me to utter, "I don't mind living here". But then again, I was disappointed, the clear water of Semporna ocean was filled with garbage and wastes. If only people can salvage the beautiful sanctuary that were given to us, I'm pretty sure Semporna can be a great place that has a lot to offer. We need to be conservative; preserving the beauty we have in front of our very own eyes. Heading off to Mabul on the second day of our trip, relaxing on an island and chilling on the deck of our budget resort, were the only thing I had in mind that day.

Mabul is a small island, the distance is about one hour ride by boat from Semporna. The water was beautiful, reflecting a greenish and blueish colour under rays of sunlight, You can see turtles, small fishes swimming around and also a group of starfishes with variety of colours and species. The small budget resort we stayed in, was built like a house on water where you can see the clear green water through the gap or slit of the floor made of wood like any typical old-style malay houses.

The eye opening experience that I had gained there was not about the view that I saw and cherished. It was the people, their stories and the lives of them, be it the traveller or the local people. Mabul island was quite small, it took about 45 minutes to walk around the island, touring around the resort compound, along the beach and entering the local village. You can see that the local people (bajau laut and bajau suluk) were so friendly, kids playing around and some even walked around naked. They all had tanned skin colours with brown highlight on their hair as I was told that the colour of your hair will become like that if you are exposed to sea water everyday. The local people continuously smiled to us as we walked around the island, and the kids seemed to be genuinely happy, as if they owned the world and not have any worries, a trait that I myself seemed to envy when I was with them. The lives of people on the island was very simple. They have a primary school there, and people who choose to continue learning in high school, they need to go to Semporna, living a student life in a boarding school and stay in a dorm. Most of them became a fisherman, following the footsteps of their parents, and some even applied to be a diving instructor, a job which pays really well.

Back in our dorm where we stayed, we met Des and Dalton. Des came from South Africa, and have been travelling since he finished high school and now work as diving instructor. Dalton was the manager of resort, and he was our eye opener.

To be continued.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Of Ramadhan And FYP

Disclaimer: I won't be getting any sleep tonight - T..T

Assalamualaikum (Peace be upon you) !

We already reached a quarter of Ramadhan this year, and disappointedly I failed to sort out my life schedule during this holy month. For the first time, I feel the pressure of being a final year student. Not because the subjects are getting harder but the tedious and enormous mount of works I need to do - that includes research (filtering credited journals and papers), doing a summary of those journals so that I understand them better and won't have problems in relating them to my thesis and study according to my lecturers, writing drafts of which I usually stumbled upon writer's block (well writing a thesis is not the same as ranting in a blog but the state of being blur and cloudy and inanimate brain activities are merely the same), and also freaking out that I might give up on this final year project (FYP).

But then as much as there is a swirling of emotions between do and procrastinate, anxiety and fear couldn't contain my love of procrastination as if it has occurred to me to be a natural thing, like breathing. I sometimes, out of my cluelessness of what to type on the empty sheet of white space of word document, find myself regretting my choice for choosing geotechnical engineering as my major while being good and has a relatively good grade in structural engineering. I know some of you may not recognize this field of engineering, or never heard about it, let's just say, it's your choice when going to a fusion restaurant. In wide range of food, what kind of food you like or prefer - mexican, japanese, local malay food, chinese, etc - to word it metaphorically.

I realized the usual last minute effort and struggle weren't effective for long term research (about half a year). Preparation is needed and by far the most important factor in planning a project. It's hard reality that I seems to forget because being in a malaysian university, the junior and sophomore years are quite easy, well I didn't say about the exams being easy, the course structure and outline and the program outcome they expected us to learn are simple and basic - understanding and apply the knowledge of the subject. And the project for each engineering subject is submitted on papers, with research on google and wikipedia and copy paste and so forth, dismissing the culture of academia of cultivating proper research methodology.

And that being said, to sum it up, I am lazy student who wish things would just stay the same till I graduated. The exam based evaluation and the significance of getting good grade in exam - kind of a mind control mechanism for academic assessment - are still intact even at tertiary level. Not really obvious but it's obviously there. So, I'm practically ruined inside, but yeah, I have encountered this type of fear of rejection and failure many times before and I just need to work my lazy ass here. A diligent student !

And for Ramadhan, I fear I'm being the same. There's no change at all. Ramadhan is a catalyst for people to be drawn to goodness. If before we are Muslims, and now we become practising Muslims. If we overlook the fact that Allah has granted us every year 30 days of change and we couldn't even take advantage of it, we are really at loss.

May we desire change, and may our change remains.

Allahumma baligna Ramadhan.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Journey

I might be a little late, but The Journey was awesome.

This story was so simple, yet it brought tears to my eyes.(Okay, I takde lah nak nangis lebih-lebih, mata berkaca sahaja, okay. Laki mana boleh nangis. Ayat gedik sikit)

But it's true. When most of us are obsessed with modern lifestyle, we forget about our lifelong tradition and technology also plays a big part in us forgetting them. Though there are a few traditions I found a bit weird, bogus and superstitious, but most of them are filled with good values.

I ponder upon my own family ties. We are very close, and that's probably because the older generations still hold to those kind of malay customs. The story - the father-in-law requests that they are supposed to send the wedding invitation by hand. Meet up with people and give them the wedding card. If we compare to what we have now, maybe we are too busy cause we have other things to do - we'll probably end up using facebook or text message to do the invitation. We depend too much on electronic devices and social media.

While it has pros and cons, for once, I seem to favour my own custom and tradition. Moderate wedding celebration with close friends and family. It doesn't need to be big and fancy and all that, it just need to fill with people you are close with, the right kind of people

Watch The Journey, You'll know what I mean.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Lowering Expectation

There might be truth in it. Disappointment and expectation are inseparable.

Everything is firework when you have low expectation. I agree, but that doesn't include in my dictionary nor my philosophy of life. I have failed before, miserably. So I really understand, having a really high expectation can lead you to disappointment, especially when those around you also expect you to do good, instead of messing up things.

People's expectation creates pressure that seems to have no boundary. Thus, meeting those expectation is more important than satisfying your own needs. I felt that a lot when I was two, three years younger. Why I can't agree on having low expectation on task, jobs or works that you're doing, the main reason will be my ego perhaps. Yes, ego.

Or rather, I like to word it as self actualization. Self actualization provides sense of completion whenever I do things. And by completion, you finish the job with all of the efforts you put into it to achieve near perfection, or till you feel satisfy with what you did. I have a very high expectation of myself.

Because to a certain degree, I like to believe in my capability. Trust me, I'm surrounded by talented and respectful people that once in a while I feel suffocated and overwhelmed being near them. When I have a lot of friends like that, I start questioning myself why I can't be like them? I may not achieve big things yet, but at least I'd like take seriously of any tasks that I' entrusted with. When positive vibes are channelled from these capable and trustworthy people to those around them, why can't we?

I do things in the eleventh hour. I'm a last minuter. I do my works whenever I feel like doing it. A bit irony don't you think? But I perform my best whenever I'm in pressure or being cornered by time. Ideas pop up immediately and flowing like waterfall at the expenses of my night sleep. It is not a healthy way, nor recommended by me. But some people have their way of doing thing right? 

Whenever I talk about people's expectation, honestly I couldn't care less right now. I've been there. I used to hit rock bottom, and with the solid ground I fell onto back then, I start building my own foundation, my own way of doing things and I'm happy with my current self. I like what I'm doing right now and I did good too. I see myself capable of doing things, and I did failed once in a while, but I didn't feel that much of a grief when that happened. I see it as a part of living. But easier said than done, that life has its up and down, I said it because I've experienced it before. Not blatantly spurt it out like I'm a wise man, no.

To describe myself, I prefer to be called a realist optimist. I dream within my capabilities. and how do you measure capabilities? You've got to try. Till then you won't know. And by far, when capability is so mysterious why not regard yourself as a capable man?

All these waking up in the morning and sleep at night routines, you'll probably encounter lots of things. And that my friend, everyone else is the same, everyone is on the same boat. Quoting Pink,

"Just because it burns doesn't mean you're gonna die, you gotta get up and try and try and try."

We don't dictate the end. God does.

Do justice to ourselves, have some faith in our own might but ignore of those judgy eyes around us.

Tell me, who doesn't fail? Who doesn't feel disappointed?

La tastaslimu ! (Don't give up).

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