Monday, December 31, 2007

A New Year

Full of promise.
Pregnant with anticipation.
The grass will be greener.

Nothing looks impossible from here.

- me, 2 years ago, upon entering the UK.


New Year? Asleep recovering from jet lag.

But that's no reason why everyone else shouldn't have a good time:-)

Happy 2008 !

Thursday, December 13, 2007

What I've Been up to 3

I spent most of MOnday watching Anne of Green Gables on youtube. They actually have the whole of the first two films at 10 min clips. I remember we recorded it long ago on VCR and thinking it was hilarious to watch. After reading the books written by Lucy Maud Montgomery, I was enthralled.

Went on Wed to watch The Golden Compass as planned. It's actually based on a trilogy of books (aren't all movies nowadays?) called His Dark Materials, written by this chap called Phillip Pullman. The first book titled The Northern Lights is what the movie is based on. I'd read the book about 2 years ago and had forgotten most of what the story was about, but the trailer looked fairly interesting, so I expected the movie to be pretty good.

Maybe it was the hype, or maybe I'd thought too highly of the trailer, but, just as with Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code, I was disappointed. The movie was ok, with a lot of detail being put into the alternate world in which people have daemons, the graphics were good, the fight scenes were well shot, with the daemons' disintegration into dust making up for the lack of blood, big name actors and actresses were present, but I couldn't help feeling the lack of the 'wow' factor.

It didn't help that whenever Lyra (the main character) travelled on the armoured bear, it looked impressive from the front, but when the camera swiveled to a rear view, it just looked funny. Think Winne-the-pooh loping along on four legs. I suppose its not their fault polar bears look less impressive from the rear.

Much has been made of the fact that Philip Pullman is an outspoken atheist and that he has purportedly written the books 'to undermine the basis of Christian belief'. So much so, that emails have been circulated warning people against this movie, and how it could in some way, subversively turn people against God. I admit to feeling a little uncomfortable when I read the books, that's how obvious the allegory is. But I personally think the movie, if anything, should be watched and discussed to show how different the 'god' in Pullman's universe differs from the God I believe in. For example, the 'authority' in the film (the Magisterium) are seen as suppressing freedom because they 'exist to stop people from doing things that could harm themselves'. Looking at the state of affairs today, it is obvious that the God of this universe gave us the capability to choose for ourselves what to do/believe in, and did not force us to blindly obey him.

Anyway, before I get too carried away, the movie left me slightly unsatisfied, probably because the final fight scene was not as epic as I'd pictured it to be. I liked the Ian Mckellen voiceover of Iorek Brynison though.

Much better in my opinion was Stardust, which I'd watched earlier. We also watched Hitman that same night before the Golden Compass. Despite both of us having heard of the game, Jack and I spent the hour or so before TGC sitting over hot chocolate trying to make sense of Hitman. The fight scenes were so-so, but we felt an older Hitman, with a deeper voice (!) would have carried the character off better. And he should have showed even less emotion..,especially with the girl.

Am blogging from Dubai International Airport, where I've just visited the restaurant that allows passengers with a stopover time of over 5 hours a free meal. Brilliant.

Malaysia beckons. Another 10-12 hours...

Monday, December 10, 2007

What I've been up to 2

A busy final week of term, in which I had a final presentation to prepare, a final assessment to do, a Christmas event to organize in the midst of going into A&E.

I've really enjoyed working in the Royal Liverpool's A&E department. Its probably because of all the stuff they got us doing, which made us feel more involved even as students. After a slow start and shaky hands, I got in great suturing practice, was able to catheterise patients without traumatising myself each time, and on my last day *cough cough*, did my first manual reduction of a Colle's fracture. Still recall how numb I felt while doing that, its something I do to myself when doing procedures on patients. Great relief on seeing the ultrasound of the corrected wrist. And for the medically inclined, yes, an ultrasound. The doc i was with was trialling use of ultrasound to check results of manual reduction of fractures.

Friday's Christmas night in church was good. We managed to get a team of singers together at the last minute, and actually sang a song in parts! It was Newsong's 'The Song of Christmas', and I think having it at the end rounded things off nicely. Besides the nicely decorated hall ('snowdrop lights' and a tree supplied by Lydia and Julia plus candles all around), Becky and the rest of the YAGS (young adults group) came up with Christmassy food, which turned out nicely balanced on the Table Of Equilibrium, so named for the even numbers of food on all sides.

Watched Stardust on my laptop on Saturday night, and was enthralled, despite hearing less-than-stellar reviews about it. I think there should be more movies made like this. I like that they didn't speak funny, and there were plenty of quirky bits balancing the outright magic-ness of the movie. Plus the guy acting as a goat was a bonus, as we Robert De Niro's screentime. The coronation scene was the only scene that felt slightly uncomfortable during the whole movie, I felt.

Will be watching The Golden Compass on Wednesday at half price! I've already read 1 1/2 of the trilogy, and heard something of the hype surrounding it, so lets see how the movie strikes me.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

What I've been up to 1

I think I'm a few posts overdue, so since I've got a few days before heading back home, will be updating daily.

Last Sunday morning was wet and cold. Just like any normal morning in Liverpool around this time of year. The only difference was the city was dotted with specks of red.

The Liverpool Santa Dash 2007 was on, and if you're wondering what it would take to get grown-ups and children together on a wet morning, this would be it.

A 5km run for charity in full Santa regalia, complete with white whiskers. Definitely something to try at least once. And to be honest, we were more excited about the novelty of running as Santa than contributing to various charities! We being Ed, Jack, HP, Richard, AiWei, Gil and myself.

The other fun thing was that Liverpool was out to regain the crown for the most Santas completing the run from Las Vegas; we were aiming for around 7000 Santas or so.

It certainly seemed like Liverpool tried its best to meet the challenge. On the morning, there were so many Santas it was hard trying to pick one another out from amongst the crowd! Ed brought along his blue backpack and I wore a white Santa hat in a effort to stand out (haha knew the hat would come in useful someday squeaks and shubz!).

At the starting line, Santas of all shapes and sizes gathered. An obviously pumped-up chairperson led the proceedings, urging us to smile for the camera, reminding us that the sky, previously dark and cloudy had now turned to rays of sun, and that "God was in His heaven", wounding up by a frantic cheer for Liverpool, set us off.

And so the huffing and puffing began.

I'm not fit at the best of times, and this wasn't me at my best, so I settled down to a steady pace, jogging alongside Gil and Ed. Jack and HP meanwhile, had disappeared into the sea of Santas. Ai Wei and Richard hung back, preferring to take things easy. As we wound along the streets of Liverpool, we encountered various curious bystanders who cheered us on. Cars honked at us, either irritated that we were blocking the roads, or encouraging us on.

About halfway through, some Santas were beginning to flag. We passed by a number of Santas who were busily disrobing. Off came Santa cloaks and whiskers. No one complained about the cold, everyone was busy trying to cool down. Judging by the numerous plastic belts and hats littering the road, more than one Santa was more concerned with finishing the run than how they looked.

On we puffed, till we rounded a corner and saw the finish line ahead. With a blower emitting gusts of fake snow, and an enthusiastic chap on a loudspeaker, we crossed the finish line in fine style.

Looking back, I saw people in wheelchairs, people running with kids, people pushing prams and a whole contingent of schoolchildren. The pubs were full of Santas that morning. As for us, we headed to a pub for some food. Fish and chips never tasted better.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sigh of relief

Am adjusting my body clock to allow sleep at nights again. Even though its only been 4 days of 10pm to 6am, I'm more awake at midnight than I have ever been.

Have just realised that Dec 13 is fast approaching....leaving from Manchester at 1330, arriving Dubai 0025 on the 14th, leaving Dubai 0955 and arriving at KLIA at 2100 on the 14th.

Can't wait. Well, actually I can. It does feel weird, coming back so soon after leaving in the summer. Feels wrong somehow:-) However, this does mean I'll get to spend a summer in the UK for a change.

Application forms for Foundation Year 1 jobs have been sent off. First part's over for now, so just waiting to hear whether my first choice will accept me or not. While I was completing the form, the thought did cross my mind: wouldn't it be fun to try a year out in a different part of the UK and escape the dreariness and Scousi-ness of Liverpool (!) ?

Couldn't really justify doing that just for a change of scene however, so my first choice was Merseyside. Though revisiting Plymouth, or even Cambridge did sound tempting.

My laptop is slowing down, but did manage to create a farewell video/slideshow for Mathew and Sharon Tan recently. They said goodbye to those of us left behind, and departed for the green pastures, the land of opportunity to us Malaysians that is Singapore.

Though I'm not big on news back home, the recent BERSIH rally managed to reach even my out-of-tune-to-anything-political ears. While I'm not sure of the ins and outs of the matter, I feel the response to the rally was undeservedly overboard. Fears probably ran high on seeing the size of the response, hence the knee-jerk reactions. What I found amusing, like a number of other bloggers, was the Information Minister's blanket comment on all bloggers. Basically, he lumped all blogs together as rubbish. I suppose it is human nature to denounce anything beyond our control. Having said that, my knee-jerk reaction would've probably been to pin the blame on someone else too :-)

Waking up early on Sundays recently....the North England Easter Conference 2008 planning meetings take place then. The theme being 'Cracking Concrete', a suitable poster and various design logos need designing, involving the student fellowship. Unfortunately (!) Ed seems to get most of the designing work as he's the only one volunteering with photoshop experience. Maybe we should start doing photoshop basics for the students...

Colossians and 1 Tim recently. Finished 1,2 Samuel, bits of which I might share tmrw at the core group meet. We need direction, otherwise, as Jin says (okla, the Bible too), the battle is lost. (ok he didn't put it in such grandiose terms).

"Do all that you have in mind. Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul."
- King David's armor-bearer,
minutes before a crazy assault on a fortified position by 2 men, and 1 sword between them.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Having just found out that Cats the musical is based on the book by T.S. Eliot (incidentally the only poetry book I've read from start to finish), and having fond memories of the book, I found myself standing outside the Empire Theatre on a cold Monday evening waiting for the rest of the posse to arrive.

The Empire was packed; buses discharged their motley crew of kids and tourists, while the regular theatre-goers milled around in the reception. As soon as everyone arrived, we headed for our seats, on the 1st floor (or is it gallery?) A much better view than what I was treated to during My Fair Lady a year ago.

The musical itself revolves around a number of different types of cats as portrayed by T.S. Eliot in his poetry. For the purposes of a musical, the narrative is tied together by the main group of cats preparing for their ball, namely the Jellicle Cats.

Trying my best to recall the lines from the book, I managed to follow most of the early scenes, after which time our ears became accustomed to following most of the dialogue. Not that it really mattered, as the actors/actresses playing the various cats ( in appropriately skin-tight feline costumes and whiskers) did a great job in fleshing out various characters.

And they were all there: Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat, Rum Tum Tugger (complete with suggestive hip-thrusts and tail swinging), Bustopher Jones, the Cat About Town, Growltiger the Pirate and Mungojerrie/Rumpelteazer the Cat burglars. Accompanied by a score which was dominated by the iconic melody of 'Memory' and the theme of the Jellicle Cats, this was a treat to watch.

Personally I was looking forward to the segment on McCavity the Mystery Cat, who was one of my favourites from the book. However I have to say I particularly enjoyed the segment on Gus the Theatre Cat, which was both moving, epic and played with a straightforward melody that left the audience focussing on every word. Also, we were treated to The Awful Battle of The Pekes and The Pollicles, With Some Account of The Pugs and The Poms, and The Intervention of The Great Rumpuscat, which apparently does not get performed at every screening due to time contraints.

I think all of us enjoyed it. Esther, who apparently is a bit of a theatre buff, left planning dances and other cat-themed ideas for the medical school Smoker, and even Fas, condescended to call it 'interesting'.

So, all in all, Cats the musical - I enjoyed it no end, and still find myself humming tunes from Magical Mr. Mistoffelees.

Sunday, November 04, 2007


Good signs sell stuff.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Re: I Find 2

Somehow, looking back, I don't think I have the right to complain to be honest. Cos if I'm honest with myself, I've done the same thing far too often as well.

Instead of allowing myself to get bogged down with people, expectations etc etc, I should keep faith with my Provider.

He knew what it was like to have his closest fail him in his time of need.

He knows.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


What began as an idea involving a few students, ended up in a 7-person trip to the greater part of lesser-populated Wales. Lena having gotten plans from her SHO in hospital, we set off in a 8-seater Volkswagen Transporter, with Raymond at the wheel.

Little did we know how grateful we'd be to the car and its GPS in the days to come.


First stop was a sleepy town called Llandudno, where Jack asked a local guy at a fishing tackle shop where good food could be had. "King's Head", he answered.

One of the better food pics

We headed off to Snowdonia in the afternoon, and missed our bunkhouse by miles. It was raining, which made navigating the hilly roads more interesting. What was more interesting was that the only place to buy groceries after 6 in the whole area of Snowdonia was a SPAR a few miles away from our bunkhouse.
Raymond pondering the Yes No questions in the bunkhouse

Having loaded up with pork belly, wine, noodles, cider and beer, we proceeded to dinner at the Twy-n-Coed which apparently meant 'in the forest'. The award-winning pork and chilli sausages and the lamb chops glazed with mint and apple were worthy of note.

After a late night, Snowdon was the next order of the morning...Jack having recommended the train ride up for the views.

Hp's mum, CMing and Lena in the train. CMing looks especially enthusiastic

Usual mountain antics ensued, more incriminating photos exist on my hard drive.The Black Lake in the mountainsCMing throwing Jack's jacket over
The rest of the track3 quarters of the way up
Cleaning my frisbee by the river.

The train ride was pretty long, 45 minutes each way; Raymond entertaining us with showing off his baby-pacifying skills on the way down. I got a frisbee about this time, which provided us much entertainment for the rest of the trip.

You can't see it here, but its a massive mixed grill for GBP 5

Then it was a quick lunch (Pete's Eats, which came recommended to us multiple times) at nearby Llanberis, before a 8-hour trip to our next destination; a posh B&B at the village of Llangennith in Swansea called (incidentally) the King's Head. Lena was at the wheel.

Things went sound as a bell until about 7pm when we realised that the GPS was leading us through country roads. It was dark by now, and the road kept getting narrower until there was barely enough space for one car to travel. Hedges on both sides meant we could only see ahead. And periodic mist and fog billowed around. CMing took the opportunity to indulge in brief Blair Witch-esque monologues on Jack's Sony while the driver, Raymond by this time, tried his best to stop us ending up in a ditch.

Posh B&B; just the thing after a long drive.

King's Head was worth the wait though. As we stumbled into our rooms, complete with ensuite bathrooms, bathtubs, showers, flat-screen tvs and beds with sheets and covers warmed by heating from under the floor, we felt the asking price of 25GBP per night was a steal. Hot choc, coffee, tea and biscuits on the table plus a hot breakfast the next day meant we started off well prepared for the day.

The girls (ladies?) at b'fast
Fact: Catherine Zeta-Jones was born in Swansea, Wales.

Surfing was on the cards but apparently the season was over. So our possible Baywatch antics were limited to a bit of frisbee throwing at the beach of Rhossili Bay.

Surfing shop

Wormhead Bay was next. With tall cliffs and an island that you could walk out to at low tide, it seemed promising. However the path across proved to be rocky and so we contented ourselves with taking photos and gazing wistfully across before leaving.

Wormhead Bay
The walk along the cliffs
The merry men and women
Quite a long way down

I had to climb down to take this one.
Peeping through the clouds
You can walk through at low tide
Piggyback frisbee

Another long drive brought us to Black Mountain Caravans, where we would be spending our last night.
Typical countryside drive

The journey to dinner was another one through country roads, which we were all getting used to by now. The journey reminded me of the legend of spectral hounds prowling the lonely roads of England at night.

King's Head pub

Dinner was at another pub mysteriously also called the King's Head. I think it must be a franchise. Much was made out of the dish called Welsh faggots, which consisted of the innards of a pig cooked in ale and served in two large mounds, very rich indeed.

Huddling up to a heater with a hot drink in the morning
Getting b'fast done. Siew yuk no less..

Sleeping arrangements were made, where all of us crammed into the living room of the caravan to share the electric fire. It was getting cold now, and the t-shirts and scarf that I'd brought were beginning to tell me in no uncertain terms that I was going to end the trip with either a sore throat or a runny nose.

GBP 100 to touch a sheep? Worth a try...
Not as easy as it looks..

On the final day we took stock. Realising that up to now, the most strenous thing we'd done was trying not to fall asleep in the car after a heavy meal, we determined to do at least one ACTIVITY before setting off for home. A choice was made; horse-riding or canoeing. By means of a clever ploy and misgivings on CMing's behalf about horse-riding with an instructor, we called at the canoeing place at Glasbury at lunchtime.

In about half an hour, we were on the river. Our mission: to pull 5 miles downriver to a landing-place just after a bridge where we would be picked up. We were told there would be difficulties:
Briefing includes aerial photos

Gravel on the left and a pile of stones in the middle of the river meant we needed to take a sharp left turn followed by a sharp right to avoid the shallow part of the river that cut into another farmer's land.

Boulders and a cottage on the left meant we were to stick to right of the river as there was a weir to avoid.

Watch out for the shallow bits, stick close to the middle, and if we were about to capsize, lean towards land.

Taking a break

We gamely refused an instructor, reasoning we could all swim. Except for Jack, but he had a PADI diving license anyway.

Skipping stones
The weir

CMing and Raymond crossing in good style

Tired but happy, we packed up and impulsively decided to end our trip with a journey to Cardiff for dinner, where I accidentally caused HP's mum to end up with a burnt hand.

The drive back to Liverpool was a long one, made longer by the fact that the A40 was undergoing roadworks. forcing us to take yet another detour through country roads. This time, and this time only, we relied on yellow 'Road detour' signs to guide our way, instead of the GPS, whom by now we suspected of being programmed to lead us through country roads in the first place.

Arrived back home at 3am, and hit the sack not long after.
A good trip

* Sorry for the dubious quality of the photos here. All were taken with a Samsung E900 2MP camera. I'm still unsure what caused the blue tinge in most of the photos.