Wednesday, April 29, 2009

the heatwave is until...

...AUGUST!!! :(


I find that sometimes some people tend to lapse into a denial-overdrive even when blatant findings are presented to them. Then they get really defensive because the data obtained contradicts with the rosy pictures they have been painting all these while.

Basically today's meeting felt a bit like a super massive viva voce: the consultant team being the student presenting and the reps from various government departments and NGOs are the examiners. The good thing is that, unlike a viva voce where one becomes the sole target of the firing squad, the team has multiple members who are experienced in their respective fields.

I reckon one of the toughest part of being in consultancy is that, in one way or another, one has to remain calm, polite, and diplomatic at all times. It is freakish when you are bombarded by all these people who request for additional stuff as if it is so simple to accomplish when in fact to obtain that additional information involves another load of time and hardwork, and hundreds of data to analyse.

And it's not like they increase the payment.

Today's experience reminded me of a viva incident whereby the examiners have to be reminded of the objectives and scope of study. And in our position today, the TOR.

Oh yea, I realised that my book really stinks.

It has been in this irreversible disgusting condition since the day I got soaked in the rain in Batu Putih. It all boiled down to me forgetting to put my book back into the zip-lock baggie it was in...

Monday, April 27, 2009

of investments and stuff

The current latest highlight of my life is heading over to banks to do 'competitive' investments.

Right. A complete warp from the typical "I saw monkeys" or "somebody's birthday" posts.

Basically, for last week and this week, it has been Amanah Saham this-and-that.

Amanah Saham Malaysia (ASM) opened 3.33 billion new units last week on the 20th of April, if I'm not wrong, and I got a call from the 'rents to go do some investment. So when I finally got the mood to drive myself to the bank to cash in a cheque, I asked them. Since the CIMB branch in campus is quite a small one, they told me to head over to their bigger branches in the city.

The thought of driving down to do bank-stuff in KK is equivalent to a nightmare. Just like every other banking district, one can imagine the parking chaos there. And perhaps the crowd.

So I took a stab and headed to the new CIMB branch in 1-Borneo instead. Which is practically next door and took me less than five minutes. I went up to the counter, asked them, and the nice friendly people gave me a form to fill in. It took me like 15 minutes to set up an ASM account and transfer my savings into it.

My 'rents back in Tanah Melayu had to battle crowds, waited the whole day and then return to the bank the next day to get theirs down.

Blessed is being over here :)

This week, Amanah Saham Wawasan 2020 (ASW 2020) opened one billion new units. So yours truly went to the bank today at 9am to do the same thing again.

ASW 2020 is a fixed priced unit trust open to all Malaysians aged six months and above, subject to a quota of 51% for bumiputras and 49% for non-bumiputras.

Only this time, I got rather worried as the line was really slow and I was thinking "crap...I'm sitting here waiting while maybe in other parts of the country, units are being snapped up". And there were 9 people before me in line. Good news is that, I got my ASW without much hassle, and so did the 'rents. Although, crowds waiting outside banks and all that seem like a common thing back over in TM.

Blessed is being over here :)

Where I didn't have to wait in line for 3.5 hours, or start queueing up at 4am. And from what I've read, the stress, the hassle and the disappointment of not getting any units.

Gah. This is boring. Cheers y'all!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Day 6: I am back!

Exactly what it says.

all my gear before I began my 'adventure'

I am back in KK and I found out some interesting stuff:
- there are people missing me :)
- I need to plan another trip for some time next week
- I need to recruit a team and work out the logistics
- my inbox was overflowing
- somehow, word got around that I am doing 'crocodile hunter' stuff
- I told my parents that if they ever want to do some wildlife-river-cruise-thingie, count me out

Oh, and this is rather outdated, but ohhhh...B got me an orangutan!!! Ain't he cute? We shall name him BuBu.

BuBu smiles at all of you :)

xo from me (who's really glad to be back)

Day 5: Where the @%#^ is the river?!?

We bid farewell to Syamsuddin and his family, and Sukau, today and we made our way back to the West Coast. Since our trip was supposed to end on Wednesday, we tried to locate some of the upper reaches of the tributaries we were working on the past few days.

This part of the job is honestly so much worst than the boat rides due to several reasons:

  • unlike the confluence of the tributaries, not all upstream areas are easily accessible...better yet, not that easy to locate either, and not known
  • generally, most of them are located in some oil palm plantation and I really dislike driving around in there
  • if we do (finally) find them, doing measurements here is a hell of difficult, for instance, I couldn't use the depth sounder to measure the river's depth as sonar does not travel through air (we improvised by measuring a bamboo and tying a rock to its bottom and dropping it vertically into the river).

We left the Lower Kinabatangan area around 6pm so to avoid driving the whole crazy way in the dark, we put up another night in Telupid and luckily for us, we got the last three rooms in the same Rest House. In a way, it was grand that we ended the trip with a night in 'luxury' :)

Day 4: Mornings are for boat rides

Contrary to the sucky day we had yesterday, today was awesome. We had to get up early to take a boat ride down to Kampong Abai to get some water samples and although the ride was long, it was enjoyable. It wasn't raining, it wasn't hot. And most importantly, I was clean and dry :)

Nothing really eventful happened just that we took a loooooong boat ride down stream, I saw birds (hornbills, darters, kingfishers), saw some orangutan nests (I think), found out that one part of the river is 21.5 meters deep (!!!), drove all the way to Sandakan to courier off the samples to Tanah Melayu, and back to Sukau again to turn in for an early night.

The tourists...

...and the researcher :)

Day 3: Soaked undies is no fun

One word for today: RAIN.

Adjectives to go with it: Non-stop, Heavy, Massive, Continuous

Synonym: Storm


It sucks when you have to bear through the whole day drenched and, worse, disgustingly smelly and soaking wet jeans, and WORST, soaked undies. YUCK.

We got onto a boat in Batu Putih to do three more tributaries today, and as luck would have it, we couldn't get a boat at MESCOT (what with it being a Sunday and all and hoardes of tourists were coming in apparently) so we looked up a villager to rent his boat -- which took rather awhile as he was in the nearby puny town 'hanging out'.

We finally got our boat and just as we set out, THE RAIN CAME. The massive torrent of water from the heavens. Like W.T.H. And it didn't stop till we completed our whole thing.

I had to walk on this to get to the boat. A klutz like me does not like planks like this.

The thing about weather in the rivers is that you get an almost-storm on the main river, but you get drizzles in the tributaries. And no, tree-cover is not one of the reasons.

We also learnt another lesson today: never NEVER EVER attempt sampling at night. Especially when it's one of those rainy times. And the fact that there are man-eating buayas in this area really freaked me out. Basically I was reminding myself that it's just gonna be like one of those night-river-cruise-thingies..but yea, it ain't that enjoyable when the ride was about 5 hours long, with no proper seats that create butt-numbing effects, in smelly-soaked clothes, and overall feeling totally disgusting.

It was almost torture.

And I lost count the number of buayas I saw. Well, more like their eyes 'cos that's the only thing you can see in pitch-darkness. Croc eyes' reflect like gemstones in the dark when you shine a torch at it. Was keeping myself entertained by watching the silhouttes of the trees against the sky (quite similarly like people watching clouds. What I was grateful for that night was that the boat had a roof. At least I didn't have to undergo another bout of rain.

Btw, this is the "crocodile hunter" part of my experience if you are one of those who have been told that "Li Ying's not in KK this week, she's being crocodile hunter".

And yea, everything I had in my bag was soaked. My river schematics looked absolutely dreadful, and my notebook now resembles one of those field journals that archaelogists find during one of their digs (and according to B, it's looks as if it contains codes to some mysterious conspiracy theory).

Day 2: Monkeys and crocs, oh my!

We continued our journey to Sukau from Telupid today. Buayas, aside, I am really really excited of going back there again. Instead of the B&B where we stayed the last time, we chose to stay with the boatman instead (who also runs a homestay). The room they gave me was a simple and decent room with a table and a single bed. For me, when I'm in the field, as long as everything's clean, it's fine.

We took a boat out to three of the nearby tributaries to do more measurements, and lo! I was so lucky to see a bunch of proboscis monkeys out for an early meal!

It's times like this when I wish I have an SLR camera.

Day 1: To the East we go!

As promised, this will be a "six-part-series" of what I did the past few days in the wilderness.

Okay. Wait. The Grand ol' River isn't exactly a 'wilderness' but yea.

Basically, I spent the whole day today bumping around in the backseat of the Triton with a styrofoam box, three backpacks, and three smaller bags. First I bumped all the way from KK to Telupid, and then around some oil palm estates trying to locate the headwater of Sg. Lokan. We eventually did find it (I think) and I waded around in it at dusk, getting my measurements.

On our way out of that place, I saw some fireflies (which, sadly, is quite a rare sight these days) -- solitary ones, of course.

We put up a night in the Forestry's Rest House in Telupid, which is really luxurious accomodation, considering the fact that I am in the field. I mean, come on, a big bed, hot shower, and air-con :)

Just to remind me it's still close to the hutan, I found an earwig in the toilet when I woke up the next morning. And I was really intrigued with this massive milipede (although I am still freaked out by them).

The view is really good too.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Question of the day:

Do I, or do I not, go on a date with somebody whom has only met me once and had brisk snaps of conversation with?

I think not.

I appreciate your, erm, friendly gestures, but no, thank you.

Monday, April 6, 2009

When breakfast is good...

..and costs only RM6.50!

An extremely heavenly way to spend Sunday mornings :)

Friday, April 3, 2009

a matter of which way to look

Since I was 'accused' of being a party-girl and basically that's all I blog about, I thought I'd come up with one of those wordy-insight entries. Btw, I am far from being a party-girl and it's just coincidence that previous entries are on that, because, hey, I did say I'll blog about EVENTS.

Anyway, here goes:

I remember there was once a while back when I underwent depression or somehow just caught up with a lot of negativity. Someone respectable even pointed it out to me, and another friend actually suggested psychotherapy. Really.

But you know, along the way of moping and trying out extremeties to return meaning to my life, I realised that with everything, it's just a matter of perspective. For example, the saying goes:

"You never know what you had until you lost it."

But then again, you'll never know how much better you may have until you've lost the old one.

And I've been a true believer of "Things always happen for a reason." May it be a joyous affair, or a devastatingly heart-breaker, things ALWAYS happen for a reason. And it usually is for something better. There were so many times when I was disappointed, frustrated, or at a loss because I felt as if I were throwing away 'opportunities' due to commitment to other situations at that time. As it turns out, it was a good thing I couldn't make it as there are other better stuff that I really want to do being offered to me.

Sometimes it may sound like some lame 'self-consoling' thing people do when they say stuff like "better stuff might come" or "it's not meant to be"...but when you think about it, annoying as it may be, there might be an ounce of truth in it.

Talking about views, here's CorporateMe vs. In-FieldMe :)

Off the subject, the range-finder arrived today and it's quite a cool gadget to play with albeit its dizzying effect. So today's knowledge of the day is that the distance from my supervisor's room to the roof of the library is 296m.

Cheers and have a great weekend y'all!