First in a while. . .

Saturday, September 27, 2014

More than a year of inactivity here! At this point, this blog is merely for my self reflection, though I do know some people who occasionally drop by, see that it's not updated, and complain to me about why am I not writing anything anymore. Regardless, some events that happened these couple of days made me sit down and think a lot, and I figured I'd do a few minutes of looking into the metaphorical mirror. So, obviously it's not practical to try and reflect on every single thing that happened for the past year(that'll probably put me into a state of depression), therefore I'm gonna write it this way:

  • The Good
  • The Bad
  • The Unchanged Bad
  • The Unchanged Good
The Good
PhD started. I got into the PhD Programme that I really wanted in Singapore, working in CQT. There are so many exciting opportunities to learn and explore in this chapter of my life, but the most recent/significant one was my trip to UK. A little backstory: My supervisor is a professor in both CQT and Oxford University. So, in conjunction with my attendance to the Quantum Roundabout conference in Nottingham, I decided to drop by Oxford for 2 weeks to visit my supervisor. After all, the conference is only 3 days, it was only natural that I spend more time there to make full use of the flight there.
Oxford was awesome. I get to meet our sister research group there, and interact with other PhD students under the same supervisor, getting to know more friends and colleagues, and learning new ideas. I was also exposed to an entirely different PhD system in Europe, with both pros and cons of course. Aside from visiting Oxford, I also gave a poster presentation in the conference in Nottingham, which went pretty well I would say. Turns out, quite a few people are really interested in what we're doing, and I think that's a good sign? Let's hope it is.


The obligatory red English phone booth.

The Bad
Courses suck. I've never been good in handling the whole "exam pressure" situation, and it's biting me in the ass right now. While it's enjoyable to learn new stuffs by taking courses during my PhD, the whole "do well in your exam or you'll get kicked" pressure was a bit too much for me to handle. Needless to say, two and a half years of not taking exams does NOT help my situation. I took one course last semester, and I did pretty badly, which puts me in a sensitive position right now, and I have to focus so much more attention to do well in my courses. As annoying as it is, I'm powerless in this situation, and I just have to battle through this hardship with the thought of "if I get my courses done and over with, I can focus on my (much more interesting) research work".

Gloomy day when I was in London, couldn't get any good shot of the Tower Bridge, or in fact, any of the landmarks, at all.

The Unchanged Bad
In fact, it was this "section" of the update that prompted me to think and write. I came to a realization that, there is one thing in me that hasn't changed over the past year, and I hate myself for it. I'm the repeat offender of the crime "regret only when it's lost". It happened again this year! Something good went my way, and I did not appreciate what I had, and the rest is history. I'm utterly ashamed of myself of doing this again and again. I'm always paying the price of having to lose something that I have with regrets and guilt. Which is why, the least I can do here, is to self loathe, and remind myself that this can never happen again. I've let too many opportunities go because I did not appreciate what I have, and in the end, I'm left lost and empty because of my mistake.

How many chances do we get? Has the ship sailed on me forever? I hope not.

The Unchanged Good
Well, not all that stays constant are bad. At least I think I have a few things about myself that I'm happy did not change. One is of course what I want to do has not change one bit, and I'm still striving towards the same goal I set a few years back. The road may be rocky, but at least I'm walking on the path that I'm happy with, and I'm gonna stick with it.

 There's no clear blue sky everyday, but when there is, I'm always ready with my camera! Wish I could say the same about my life.

Catching a break. . .

Friday, May 31, 2013

After so so long, finally I had a very good one week break. And this time round, I really enjoyed my one week vacation. Though I never went any far away places, but the agenda of my vacation was really interesting, and it was really with some amazing people. So let's begin:

For a short 4-day 3-night getaway, I went to Chiang Mai, Thaland, with Jia Pin and another friend, Yong Jun. The trip was planned about a year ago. In fact, the story of what sparked this trip was quite funny, but it's not a story for now. Haha. Let's leave it for another day. So we went to Chiang Mai, and it has been very long since I left the country for vacation(Singapore doesn't count, I work there). Being in my position, it's really difficult to go on a out of the country vacation. But anyway, I guess this trip counts? In fact, I really enjoyed this trip because of how some of the photos turned out. My friends who know me will know that I have interest in landscape/scenery photography, and travelling around gives me good opportunities to shoot what I like. And, from the few photos that I'm very satisfied with, I'm quite happy with this trip =)
However, aside from static landscape shots, I hope to learn to shoot pictures with humans in it. I realised that I am very bad at composing shots when people are moving around. I never got any good candid shots from all the night markets that we went. We reached Chiang Mai on a Saturday, and when we checked into the hotel(this photo is of the hotel's swimming pool by the way), the receptionist told us that there will be a Saturday night market near the hotel we're staying in. And on the next day, after coming back from our one-day tour to a few places outside of Chiang Mai, our tour guide told us that there would be a Sunday night market in another area that is near our hotel again. To top it off, there is another night market out in the city area that is held everyday there. So I guess that got our night activities covered.
During the days, we went for tours, one of it being the obligatory elephant tours. There, we learned about elephants, ride on them, watch them perform, and of course, get smacked by the reality that an elephant can paint better than me. The elephant ride was fun! Though the elephants tend to be quite show-offs and enjoy walking very near to cliffs or edges of the road. I'm glad that I made it out in one piece.
Aside from that, we visited some temples during the day, and at this particular temple, I took my favourite shot of the trip! This temple was in fact near our hotel, and we found it while visiting all the temples that were nearby our hotel on the first day, since we arrived in the evening and there weren't anything much we can do. When I was taking this shot, I was merely testing and playing around with the angle, until I realised that the sun was setting, hence I decided to try to get a shot like this. Turned out much better than expected. Trying out win! =)
This is also another of my favourite  photos from the trip. This picture is of the waterfall on top of the highest peak in Thailand, at Doi Ithannon. As I prefer outdoor activities over shopping and walking around the city, we decided to visit Doi Ithannon instead of the popular suggestion Chiang Rai. And we had a lot of fun here. Mainly because we went without a tour guide telling us what to do, hence we ended up climbing around the waterfall, taking photos and enjoying the beautiful scenery. Though I have to admit, holding a camera at such a place is quite dangerous, and it kinda restrict me from having fun with the ice cold water.

Anyway, the Chiang Mai trip was half the reason why this one week vacation was amazing. I would say that my trip back to Ipoh was fantastic as well. Met up with many old friends, had a lot of fun, and one of the friends I met particularly actually made my trip back more aMAYzing(pun intended). However, I do feel very very very very guilty about a small accident. Hence, to a certain Miss Tan, if you're reading this, a thousand apologies!!

Last but not least, my vacation ended with 3 visitors to Ipoh. Two of them from KL, and one of them from Singapore. Alison and her two colleagues came down, and since I was in town, I thought I'd hang out with them, bring them around in their Ipoh foodhunt. As Malaysians, the three of us are very proud and happy that our Singaporean guest enjoyed Malaysian food very much. The only one thing we're not so proud of, is when we talked about the state of Malaysia(politics and stuffs).

And hopefully, I'll have more things to write about to keep this blog as alive(or as less dead) as possible.

The Greatest Power. . .

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Like the title says, what do you think is the greatest power in the world? If you think this whole post is about cheesy stuffs like "the power of love", please, go sit at that corner there and cry yourself to sleep. Cause I'm not talking about that. Started off my day with a little discussion of "the value of money" with a friend over a Facebook photo. The photo reads, "Don't educate your children to be rich, educate them to be happy. So that when they grow up, they'll know the value of things, not the price".

What'd you think? For me, I completely disagree with the saying. In fact, I think if you want your kids to know the value of things, educate them to be rich! Only when they realized that money are hard to come by, they'll see the true value of things. Personally, I believe that everything has a price tag on it. Everything. Everything we have in this world can be translated to some monetary value, and that's the price tag on it. So probably whoever's reading this will think that I would vouch for "money" to be the greatest power in the world? Well, honestly, I thought so too, not until a few minutes ago. I sat and thought, and I realized something.

The greatest power in the world is knowledge, not money. I'm not talking about academic knowledge, I'm talking about the fact that you know or you don't. Humans are afraid of things that they don't know about. Humans fear uncertainties, and unpredictabilities of things around us creates qualms and worries. The whole idea of health/life insurance feeds on this fact. You're not afraid of the dark, you're just afraid of what you can't see. You're not afraid of being poor, you're just scared because you don't know how to live without money. Knowledge, or the lack thereof, is the greatest power in the world. It drives you crazy for not being able to know. There's not one person who is not curious about anything at all in the world. The urge of needing to know, drives research and discoveries, but at the same time, kills. The saying "ignorance is bliss" is a fiction. It is because you that you KNOW that you choose to ignore, which means that you're just afraid of knowing.

Knowledge rules over all emotions known to men. The lack of it causes insecurities and fear, while the presence of knowledge drives greed and desires. It is truly, the most terrifying power in the world. Last but not least, this whole post, was written because of my own lack of knowledge. Because of the things I don't know, I feel insecure, I'm scared, and I finally realized the power of knowledge.