Sunday, 10 September 2017

Of all places, Terengganu.

It has been four days since I am back here, in Subang Jaya. I miss Terengganu already. The amusing pink sunrise. The gorgeous blue skies. The soothing ocean. The sound of the happy chickens and goats. Away from the city. Felt refreshed. 

Yes, I was ecstatic.

Thus, everything in the universe has been created beautiful, with purpose and in proportion and measure, both qualitatively and quantitatively (al-Qamar 54:49). 
Going there was definitely one of the best retreats I have this year. A gift for myself. After the hard work of my first semester, dealing with work and SEA Games. It was a short yet memorable trip. With the initial intention to meet my ex-roommate for her wedding (at Besut), I ended up going around Kuala Terengganu as if I was a tourist. Why as if? For those that have just started reading my blog, welcome! For goodness sake, I've studied in Terengganu for three years. Only now I have started to appreciate what was beside me all the time. Haha.  

The road trip began with my journey to board the bus to Kuala Terengganu from Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS). It took me one hour in a half via LRT to get to TBS. Then by bus, I reached Kuala Terengganu at 4.30 a.m. in a drowsy state. The driver brought the passengers in a ping pong game manner. Thanks a lot. Reaching there, I walked to my former university - Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) and somehow amazed with the new look. A new brand gate. A ship wrecked right in front of the entrance (I don't really get it but I guess it signifies UMT is always drowning from the flood). Also a brand new UMT logo. Cute. 

Had breakfast at 6 a.m. at a nearby stall and went again to UMT to watch the sunrise. No more beautiful UMT beach like what I had in the year 2013, but there is a place to witness the sunrise. It was surreal. I just smiled. It has been awhile since I had this opportunity. After the stroll at the so-called UMT beach, I went ahead to prepare myself to go to Besut. It took me and my friends an hour and a half to reach there via car. It was a joyful day. Our good friend is getting married! Alhamdulillah. The solemnisation was simple yet a stream of people came to celebrate it. Congratulations once again, Kak Aishah. 

With the happy bride and groom

Three ex-roommates together.
The post-wedding event, my friend and I had this crazy idea. To climb Keluang Hill, ten minutes from my friend's house at Besut. Using our dresses at the wedding. As for me, I wore baju kurung (Malaysian traditional wear). It was a simple hike. One hour for the whole hiking session. Up and down. Though, I was panting the whole way since I was not really ready. But the joy when I was up there was priceless. I. Did. Not. Regret. My. Decision. It was mesmerising. However, going back to Kuala Terengganu was a mess. It took us four long hours to reach there due to the jam. It was Eiduladha celebration after all. By night time, I spend the night out at Dapo Pata (a hipster chilling place by the beach).

Along with my friends up the hill.

Still can't believe I wore baju kurung while hiking? Here's the proof! :)

The next day, I was privileged to be treated as an honourable guest by a good friend of mine - Syuhada Hasri. I was brought around Kuala Terengganu namely Terengganu National Museum, Pasar Payang, Batu Burok Beach and Mydin. Teehee. Cravings and my longings were satisfied. Ate Nasi Kerabu. Drank coconut drink. Played with the sand. Enjoyed the blazing sun. Spent a night in Marang. 

Can't get over the beautiful paintings at Terengganu National Museum.

I was ambitious. I landed on your heart ;)

Terengganu National Museum!

Terengganu street art

Terengganu street art.

The new look of Pasar Payang.

It was a blissful road trip. Had so much fun. Strengthened silaturrahim (relationship) with my friends. Release my stress for awhile. Hoping to start the new semester with a positive me. Pray for me, dear friends. Hope to achieve more in near future. Need to stop procrastinating and start doing. Looking at life in brighter perspectives. To inspire others. Let us all, do that. 


Waiting for you here, still. :)

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Rimau Rawr Rawr

The 29th SEA Games that was held recently throughout the month of August has left a shimmering trace in my life. Why? I was privileged to be selected as a volunteer. A paid volunteer as a bonus. People's experience may vary but my experience was beyond my expectation. To be frank, I never really had the opportunity to volunteer for major sports event apart from my high school experience in the Red Crescent team. Thus, this particular SEA Games was quite special to me indirectly. An international participation as it is. Oh, by the way! Rimau is the mascot that represents the 29th SEA Games which was held in Kuala Lumpur. Of course, Rimau is the short form Harimau (tiger) inspired by graceful and powerful Malayan Tiger. They may call it Rimau, but it still looks like a cat to me. MEOW! Whoops, RAWR.

Together with Rimau

Right in front of Welcome to KL2017 figure.

Moving on, my journey for the volunteer application was not like others. I applied directly my university - University of Malaya. And I was the lucky one. So we went as a name (UM) and was distributed to smaller teams respectively. I was somehow selected under venue-based game which is Fencing. The moment I heard that I'm like, oh cool! Men in suits. Fighting each other legally.  Handsome catch. Yay.


The Fencing game was held from 21st to 23rd of August held at Malaysian International Trade and Exhibition Center (MITEC). To kick off the event I went to report myself one day earlier prior to the event and read some Fencing technical book. Nevertheless, my job scope was almost ad hoc all the time. Initially, they asked me to be in charge of the infrastructure then it was my turn to care for the crowd. Me personally handling crowds is a no no. The first-day experience was wild. People can really get monstrous to watch sports games, don't they? It was exhausting. No joke. However, I tried to stay calm and put up a big smile to them. The job scope continued until the third day of work. As time goes by, I became a crowd control expert. *grins* I was just firm and start to get hold of what I am supposed to do. It was fun. Meeting people. Learning from mistakes.

There will always be perks and disadvantages as a volunteer. Though, I'd love to highlight the perks only in this post. Generally, the perks of a volunteer are: I received an international certificate, accommodation by UM, three t-shirts (one black wow factor and two orange volunteer t-shirts) and pants. Also, an accreditation card with free access to all rapid transport to all SEA games venue (applicable only during volunteer working hours) and RM50 food token. 

While the perks of working at a venue-based are being able to witness the game you're in charge of, for free if you're not really working and meeting the athletes. Also, meeting ministers like KJ (Khairy Jamaluddin - Malaysian Minister for Youth and Sports). But to me who doesn't really watch sports, this fan-screaming meeting athlete thing did not really resonate with my wavelength. That was what I thought..... Till I became one flustered blushed girl. Who knew after watching one match of fencing game, I became fancy at this particular fencer. Majority of people would be hassling to get a picture with their favourite athlete and coaches (like seriously). They GO CRAZY. As for me, I was happy enough to take a picture with the Singaporean fencer [Picture won't be disclosed because it is priceless, haha]. Still cringing as I am writing this. :)

Together with the finalist of Men's Foil Fencing. 

UM Fencing volunteer team

Together with a couple of Malaysian Fencing team

An honour to be photographed with the para ASEAN Malaysian Fencing team.
ALL of them uses a wheelchair to fence.

Infrastructure Fencing team - initially. Before being changed to also do the technical work.
The journey as a volunteer did not end there. I was then absorbed to the communication team for the closing ceremony. Little did I know that I played a huge role in this. The job scope is basically making sure the performers receive their FM recorder (something like a walkie-talkie) using it accordingly to ensure their movements are smooth. I managed to learn the inside work of the behind stage crew. Super cool. During the closing ceremony, I ran here and there to give out FM receiver and get it back. After completing the first half of my work which is giving out the FM receiver, I am able to participate along with other 13,000 volunteers for the closing ceremony to witness the LED play in the stadium and fireworks. It was a bittersweet moment for me. The overwhelming long hours of working and standing felt nothing when I was able to finish up my work nicely and watched the closing. The sense of achievement overrules everything.  

I am still amazed at the LED performance.
The perks for communication team? Definitely to know the behind stage story and meeting local artists like Faizal Tahir, Joe Flizzoe, Vince, Jaclyn Victor and so much more. Though, once again I have no so called excitement like others. Only if Korean artists were to pass by then only I'll be hyped up I guess. I also received free shades from the REIDEL Communications (the company in charge of the video, audio, and communications headquartered in Germany for SEA Games 2017).  

With Miss Moni from Germany as our Head of Team Communication
In sum, things I've learned throughout this journey as a volunteer would be: 

1. We may meet all kind of nonsense people asking for unnecessary things, but we should be kind always even when unnecessary

2. Team work is crucial to make the event happen. In a giant event like this, inevitably things will go wrong somewhere. Even when your boss is not really understanding, we instead should cycle up our momentum to keep up with the pace of the event and just make it happen. Communication is key. 

3. Be selfless. You are working to make an event successful, so don't jeopardize the event with our own needs. We volunteered to help, didn't we?

4. Be patience! Another vital input. We may work long hours. Other people also work long hours. To a point that people get grumpy once in awhile or forever grumpy. We might not be able to eat on time. Or even be discriminated for joining the team late. Be patience. Don't go ranting to the audience  or be unkind to others and showing the bad side of us. 끝. 

5. Things will never really go as planned. There's a saying we plan, but Allah is the Best Planner. Embrace the impromptu things and perform well as a volunteer. Do well. Always be ready for the worst.

All these valuable inputs are applicable in our lives. Being part of the volunteer team was a right choice.  This writing is merely my novice experience as a sports event volunteer. Despite some unpleasant memories that happened, it happened for a reason. For me to grow to become a better person with a bigger worldview. Which I hope to develop myself. Looking towards the positive side of each thing that happens. Cherishing the small sweet things too. Thank you, Allah, for this opportunity.

We can always learn something from each event that passes through our present moment, the key is to be conscious of it. Whatever we learn and experience shapes our true self... making us richer.  Let us all of us become rich... Rich with knowledge and experience. Remember... stay out of the biggest trap, which is known as "the comfort zone" - Zahariz Khuzaimah

To a better ME. Cheers!

Monday, 1 May 2017

It is more fun in the Philippines.

Kamusta and hello! 

Amidst of my unending assignments and workload at the office, I made it to the Philippines. Yay, alhamdulillah. I never expected to be able to travel to two countries within two months. Continued Learning Immersion Programme was actually a continuation programme from what I participated at Brunei earlier this year. Being in one of the winning team for the green business idea pitch, my team and I was selected to go to the Philippines. It was held at Metro Manila (Makati city) and Tagaytay. We were equipped with several components namely design thinking, advertising and marketing, crowdfunding, branding and negotiation skills. 

Going to Manila for the first time was a thrilling experience for me personally. Apart from the horrendous traffic jam and the heat, Manila welcomed me with their exciting culture and people. The first day was quite packed with getting to know Manila itself. 

We were brought to the US Embassy Philippines then we head to head to see the Jose Rizal National Monument, the Manila Hotel (that was established in the year 1912), visited the national museum, had a Bambike (bicycle made from bamboo) tour around the streets of Manila and we dined with the local cuisine and enjoyed the cultural entertainment at Barbara's. The upcoming two days were followed up with intense yet exciting workshops with amazing and lovely speakers. Not to forget the fun networking night we had at A Space. 

Jose Rizal picture at the national museum

Bambike tour

View around Manila

View of a church in Manila

Dinner at Barbara's

On the third night, we travelled to Tagaytay for a glamping experience at Nurture Wellness Village. Glamping basically means glamorous camping - where you have fan, light and a mattress (with a pillow and blanket) in your tent. We were pampered with delicious food and massage before we sleep. Then we continued another day at Tagaytay by exploring the farms and serious discussion for our potential business startup. 

Imagine waking up with birds chirping and fog in front of your tent.

Vegetables are picked fresh to be put in our food.

Morning exploration to the farm

And lunch is served
After the discussion, we had a simple wrap up and closing ceremony of the programme and we head back to Metro Manila for our final night in Manila. The whole journey was short and sweet. With this, I hope the ASEAN country members will strengthen. Unity in diversity. We have so much in common from our culture and language. Thus we definitely can be ONE in bringing up each other success in our respective countries. Last but not least - It is DEFINITELY more fun in the Philipines. Paalam. Goodbye. Till next post! :)

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Brunei: Abode of peace

I am blessed to be chosen to go to Brunei recently to attend YSEALI Green Generation Workshop from 24th February to 1st March 2017. The journey to Brunei was nerve wrecking where our plane had to make a transit at Kota Kinabalu due to tyre problem. And finally reached 4 hours later after expected arrival. Despite the rough arrival, I am content with the overall workshop. Met 49 other delegates from all over ASEAN. Plus, the friendly volunteers that brought me around Brunei. The workshop involves exciting talks from amazing speakers, group discussion, jungle trekking at Sumbiling Eco Village and the main highlight was presenting the green business idea.

Some of the interesting facts I gathered about Brunei during my stay there are like for pedestrian walk, the cars are supposed to stop and let people walk unlike Malaysia where we must use the power of our hands to cross on the pedestrian walk. Other than that, Brunei have this special no car day on Sunday (till noon only if I am not mistaken) and the people there will cycle around the city be it the kids and adults, everyone participates. Not to forget their main mosque and palace are made from PURE GOLD. Mind blown. As for their food which I though might be similar to Malaysia, they have all the odd names like Hati Buyah, Hati Kura, pusu and so much more. Interesting, but I was quite traumatised after having diarrhea one day after trying all of those things. Even their night market were very organised under one building. I was told that their king sponsored the building to allow citizens to practice small enterprise.

Together with the Malaysia team at KK. 

With my two Indonesian buddies: Lia and Anya

Representing Malaysia with our beautiful traditional clothes

Sunday morning view at the city

Brunei 33rd National Day

Getting ready to board to Sumbiling Eco Village

Entered Temburong district

Welcome to Sumbiling Eco Village

The villagers working hard to serve us bamboo chicken
Unique satays

A glimpse of the golden mosque

The majestic palace

Together at the "organised" night market

At Tasek Lama where we can hike and enjoy the scenery of waterfall

The whole workshop has been a colourful experience for me personally. I still can't believe it is over. I am like, am in Malaysia already? I am going to miss the positive environment given out by everyone. I am no longer confined in a small understanding on what green generation is all about. I was happy to meet other ASEAN delegates and together we were all able to grasp the eco-preneur concept related to the economy, environment, empowerment and network. Not to forget, our team won the Green Business idea pitch which enables us to go to the Philippines this April! In a nutshell, I'd like to thanks the US Embassy BSB , local villagers who brought us around to appreciate Brunei and the secretariats for organising this wonderful event. Also, to my supportive team, team 10 (Anya, Tuyet, Hilmi and Nune) and amazing mentor: Bryan. Without all of you, the days would be lonely and lifeless.  I am proud to be a YSEALI alumni now. Looking forward to participate in YSEALI programmes and YOU should too! :)

My team (Team ACES) and team TheEcotourist that will go to the Philippines for an immersion programme this April

With the whole delegates and mentors for Generation Green workshop.

I'd like to leave a saying for all of us to ponder from Craig Allen, US Ambassador to Brunei:

"It is my hope that this workshop will help the GenerationGR3EN delegates to increase their knowledge and skills in being an eco-entrepreneur; and that each person will leave here with a firm understanding of how business and the environment go hand-in-hand. I have no doubt that this workshop will leave speakers and delegates equally inspired, and increasingly enthusiastic to find real solutions to the challenges we all face. The delegates we have here to day are the future of ASEAN."