Sunday, December 19, 2010

Hello? Anybody Home?

Yesterday, we had cleaned the fishpond -- that was exhausting. Today, we planned to visit my grandfather -- or as my brother, my cousins and I call him, Atuk -- in Banting. Worrying that there wouldn't be any food, we swung by KFC at D'Pangkin to buy a bucket -- this is a rarity. We bought the one that can feed 5-6 people. Bloody expensive. RM75++.

So we officially hit the road around 11:45 or so. An hour's journey coupled with bad drivers -- there seem to be a lot of those in Malaysia -- and we were at Atuk's doorstep around 1:50-ish. Amazingly, no one was home. His car wasn't in the driveway. We swung by my cousin's house which was in the area and they too weren't home. We figured there must've been some kenduri somewhere and Atuk sort of forgot about us. Huhu. Well, he doesn't get guests too often. So for the heck of it, we swung by Pantai Morib. My first time. Hehe!

Before that, my dad said that if followed the sign to Pantai Kelanang, we could get to Morib. He said once he tried, overshot Pantain Kelanang and ended up at Morib. Taking his word for it, we agreed. On the way, there was a scene and this 3-junction. A truck had run down a public phone booth. Quite a scene. And the police officers looked lost and unsure of what to do. The area we were entering was near Jugra, essentially the birth place of Selangor. This is where the Selangor sultanate originally started. Bukit Jugra was where the kerabat -- royal family members -- were buried during the days of the Selangor sultanate.

Further on, we got a bit lost so we doubled back and took the more conventional route to Morib. Hehe. But during our detour, I saw some pretty kampung houses. They were well taken care of and the land area was quite impressive. But that's the typical kampung house. Wooden structure, often on stilts and quite a bit of land -- aside from build-up area.

Oh, and we passed by the late Haji Sidek's house. The family home of the Sidek brothers. Misbun, Rashid, etc. The Malaysian badminton heroes. They have quite a big compound. We saw a couple of kids playing badminton at the back of the house. The detour was almost a trip back in time. Not just because there was a lot of history and old houses and all but also because my dad kind of told us -- my brother and I -- things we previously hadn't known. Small things but you can be amazed how a small thing can give quite an insight into a person.

After some travelling and a funny banner, we got to Morib. It was quite nice. Pantai Morib, that is. According to my parents, a lot had improved. We didn't actually go to the beach but the nearby parking and waterfront area was kinda cool. We found a spot and started eating. Amazingly, we finished the whole bucket. Intended to feed 5-6 adults, it was finished by 2 adults -- who are sketchy around KFC -- one adolescent and one 11 year old. Not bad. I used to sort of like KFC's mash potato and coleslaw. But after eating the one we bought, yuck. I can make better mash and coleslaw. Way better.

Regarding the banner I mentioned earlier; it was regarding coconuts for sale and it said, "2 biji RM10, 3 biji RM10,". Everyone was laughing their heads off. I took some pictures but I haven't managed to upload them yet. Hopefully I'll be able to.

Back to the story, after finishing the KFC bucket, we washed our hands, prayed and my mom wanted some -- as my little cousin Aisyah would put it -- ayak nyiok. In proper Bahasa it can be written as air nyiur or air kelapa. In plain ol' English it's coconut water. Bloody expensive. The sotong bakar -- grilled squid -- was bloody expensive too. In total it was around 20 ringgit or so. And not all of us had the coconut. Akid and I don't like the coconut water. Is that term even accurate? Coconut water? Well, you get the general idea. According to my parents, the coconut water was so and so. I took a small break from typing this and googled coconut water and I was right; it IS coconut water. Huh. Go figure. Still sounds kind of weird.

Anyway, we left Morib and headed home after that. Got home around 6:30. Would have been 6 but we stopped by a local grocer for some supplies.

That's all for now. Au revoir.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

SAT and TOEFL

Right off the bat I'm sure you guys are wondering either;
(A) What on Earth do those acronyms mean?
(B) Aqil mentioned them before... But I can't remember...

Either way, I'll let you know. SAT stands for Scholastic Assessment Test -- formerly Scholastic Aptitude Test. TOEFL stands for Test Of English as A Foreign Language.

Right now, these two are my top priority. Preparing for and taking the tests. For the TOEFL, I'll be taking TOEFL iBT which means internet-based test. I recently bought a couple of books to help with preparations. The titles are; Cracking the SAT 2011 Edition and Cracking the TOEFL iBT 2011 Edition. Both are published by The Princeton Review.


Cracking the SAT 2011 Edition
by The Princeton Review


Cracking the TOEFL iBT 2011 Edition
by The Princeton Review

Insyaallah I'll be able to do it. SAT so far seems quite doable. Hehe!

That's all for now. Au revoir!

Friday, December 17, 2010

What? Where? How?

There's so many questions! What do I want to do? where do I want to go? how am I going to afford it?

Let's start with the first question; what.
What do I want to do? I feel like taking engineering but I'm not sure I can carry it -- thanks to poor grades in Add Math so far. I really REALLY hope I did way better this time. Insyaallah. If I do go for engineering, what type of engineering? Not civil. You're not supposed to take that right away, I think. Mechanical? I like to tinker with stuff but I'm not too sure about job opportunities. -Sigh-.

Second question; where.
This is very much depended on what course/field I'll be taking. But I really really want to go to the US. Maybe Canada. Ivy League colleges are too expensive. The US and Canada have a lot of good colleges. I'm looking for a QUALITY education. Any good college should provide that. I'll just have to keep scouring. Right now, I'm just looking at application deadlines, entry requirements, tuition fees, location -- this translates almost directly to cost of living --, application steps, etc.

Third question; how.
How am I going to afford the tuition fees? Now, tuition fees here doesn't mean tutoring like here in Malaysia. Tuition fees is essentially how much it will cost to go to the said college. This doesn't include travelling, eating and boarding expenses. -Gulp-. I'm looking at some scholarships to help me with this.

Insyaallah things will work out fine.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Final Hurdle

Here it comes,
The most important,
Most challenging 4 weeks,
Of our illustrious high school lives.

It may only be 10 days,
But the days are placed,
Over a span of time,
22 days to be exact.

3 days,
Then 4 days,
Followed by 1 day,
Again and Again.

These 22 days are represented,
By the most feared 3-letter acronym,
Known to Malaysian high schoolers,
It is SPM.

It is our final set of hurdles,
That last stretch,
Witching hour,
Zero hour.

This is the leap,
We took our breaths during the trials,
Now we jump,
But we are yet to begin falling.

AQ
24th November 2010


Note: I wrote this on the second day of SPM, I think.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Putrajaya Challenge Park Core XC Loop ++

Just got back. We woke up early and after getting everything ready, headed to Putrajaya Challenge Park. However, mom didn't come with us. She had other plans.

We missed the exit and had to sort of double back a bit after the toll. We arrived at PCP around 11 and unloaded the bikes, geared up, etc. When we got arrived, there were A LOT of people! We were both happy and cautious. It was nice to see the trails being used rather than falling into disarray but we were worried about the number of riders that would be on the trails. However, we realized pretty much everyone was leaving, at his/her own pace. Yes, there were a number of female riders too which was nice to see. Mountain biking is far too nice a sport not to be enjoyed by everyone.

Anyway, we headed up to the trail and started.

1st leg; Starts with a rapid but short descent leading straight into a set up ascending switchbacks. Get ready to drop gears quickly and pedal to the top. Stop, and you won't be able to regain the momentum needed to pedal to the top. Once at the top, it's a relatively easy and fun track all the way to the exit where you meet some tarmac. Follow the cul de sac to get to the second leg of the core loop.

The 2nd leg is the longest and rather straightforward. No switchbacks here but a lot of climbs. And one gnarly descent. For some reason, the ground is very loose. Particularly at the climbs. Strange. Anyway, about halfway or so, you'll run into a junction. If you're inexperienced or just looking for an easier run, follow the green sign that says "1". After the junction there's a really steep descent. Here, you need to feather the brakes. My dad fell down here. He kind of shot down the descent, caught the earthen barricade and slid, scraping his elbow and knee. Exiting the 2nd leg, you end up on a pavement with a hut just by the exit.

The third leg is the really tough one. You'll encounter 4 climbs, packed quite close to each other. I'm not sure if it's just the weather or the trail is meant to be like that but the ground is so loose. It's difficult to pedal. The uphills are particularly bad. Anyway, the trail starts across the pavement after exiting the 2nd leg. It starts with a slight descent and a tiny wooden 'bridge'. After that is a lot of weaving around trees, between trees and sheer cliffs, and trying not to be too awestruck by the view. Ah yes, the 3rd leg has the best view. Sorry I forgot to mention that. It's short but the ascents aren't that easy. That said, all of us had to walk our bikes most of the way. Heh heh. After the quad ascents, there's a quick and easy descent to a wooden bridge leading the the look-out tower. Awesome place to take photos of Putrjaya.

After you've filled up your camera's memory and had enjoyed the view, it's time to hit the last, most fun -- for me at least -- yet skill-demanding leg of the core XC loop; the 4th leg. This leg requires a lot of skill, some guts, and, if possible, slack -- well, slack-er -- head tube angle Head tube is where the handlebars are attached to the bike, for those wondering "what the hell is a head tube??". Back to the story; it starts with a descent -- is it me or does every leg seem to start with a descent? -- and leads to a lot of weaving between trees. A lot of fun. After a bit, you'll encounter something new -- if you're inexperienced like I am; a switchback descent. Yup, just like your good ol' switchback but this time, you're heading the other way. This is trickier than uphill switchbacks but once you've mastered it, a hell of a lot more fun!! My dad and Akid has trouble with this one and found it almost undoable.

After finishing the loop, my dad took a break at the dirt ju
mp section's hut and I took his bike for a spin on the dirt jumps. That bike jumps like a charm!! It's a hardtail Specialized Hardrock. Mehehe. It's supposed to be a cross-country (XC) bike but it sure can jump.

me catching some hang-time

We took a quick break, ate our granola bars, I swapped out my XC kit for my downhill (DH) kit and we headed to the trail head for the DH track. It was my first time doing DH and I had a blast!! The trail was short -- short-lived, rather -- , tough, crazy and I only managed to complete half of it. The trail was practically impossible to ride. My tires kept slipping and sliding and I crashed. It wasn't a bad crash but I didn't think it was too wise to continue on with a sore knee. So I packed my gear and headed back to the car. Talk about baptism by fire, eh?

me before hitting the DH track

After that, we went to Subang Parade to join my mom for lunch and headed back home. So here am I, submitting this post for publication.

I only took about 41 pictures. Most of them were burst images. Sorry about the small amount of pictures. I've uploaded them to my Flickr so feel free to drop by and take a look.

P/S;
I do have more than just mountain biking-related photos on my Flickr.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Of Dentists and Mountain Biking

Tomorrow I'm going to Putrajaya Challenge Park!!! Woohoo!! It's been like 3 or months or so since I went there. There's a number of things I want to achieve/do there. But before day, an account of today's events. If you don't want to read through that, my fellow readers, scroll down until you start to see numberings. That should be the list of things I want to do at the Putrajaya Challenge Park.

Everyone woke up earlier than usual -- considering that it IS a Saturday -- and got ready to go to Mid Valley. After a quick breakfast of cereals and bananas. Yummy. Hehe! Anyway, we left the house around 9:45 and arrived at the Gardens at around 10. We made a beeline to the dentist for our regular check up and scaling. We had to take turns since we were all assigned to the same dentist.

After I had finished -- I was the first in -- I brought my VAIO to the Sony Store because I was having trouble uninstalling the trial version of Microsoft Office. Unfortunately, they could only tell me what to do since I hadn't brought the full version along.

After everyone was done, we swung by Studio R because I wanted to check out their selection of running shoes. Abah was still adamant in refusing to buy Nike shoes. Blame one too many bad experiences with their soles coming off -- not to mention finding them along jogging tracks, etc.

Anyway, after that we had lunch at Subway and then it was off to World of Outdoors in the Gardens. We're kind of remembered by a person there, either staff or manager -- I'm not sure -- there. I think it's because we have bought quite a few things there. I got a hydration bladder for my backpack.



The hydration bladder can store up to 2 litres of liquid. Either hot -- less than 60 degrees Celsius -- or cold, no liquors or liquids that contain fat -- I'm guessing soups, etc.

It's a really really neat package. Looks good and feels solid. I'm going to hit the trails at PCP tomorrow so I'll get to put it through its paces.

Now, for the things I want to do at PCP tomorrow:
  1. Complete the green XC loop (core loop). By the way, XC stands for cross-country.
  2. Take pictures and/or videos at the Dirt Jump and Freeride section.
  3. Do the technical DH trail. DH stands for Downhill.
I'll take as many pictures as I can and upload them to Facebook, Flickr, etc.

That's all for now. Au revoir.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Ding! Ding! Ding! Last Round!

I've finally finished the heaviest of 9 of the 10 subjects. Like I've written in my previous post(s), I'm taking 10 subjects totaling about 23 papers. O_O".

So I've done 21/23 papers! YEAAH!! The heaviest are over! Today was Biology. Next week is English for Science and Technology (EST). I'm not panicking too much because all I need to do is read through my National Geographic magazines. I have around 2 years worth of them. Hehe! Great pictures AND great articles. I guess you could say that National Geographic is what got me into amateur photography and writing. To top it off, I've always loved animals and the environment and issues that matter so it was a really natural fit. When I mean issues that matter, politics doesn't fall under it. Unless it's something really major and/or will affect me.

Speaking of which; in Malaysian newspapers and/or news networks there's too many of these things:
  1. 'Politics'. It's rarely about government bills, new legislations, etc. It's often about people cutting ribbons and fancy-schmancy ribbon cutting ceremonies. Big waste of taxpayers money.
  2. Sports. I can open up the sports section in virtually any newspaper and find at least 3 articles on the same bloody thing; soccer in Europe. What about the development of our NATIONAL athletes? We're doing awesome in cycling, diving, rugby and swimming. I don't see these articles getting the top spots in the papers.
  3. People. Well, these are most visible in tabloids that claim to be newspapers. Here is where you can find all the weird news. A headline I remember was "Ayah Masuk Kelambu Saya" which roughly translates as "Dad Climbed Into My Mosquito Net". Good god, is this what Malaysians love to read? -Shudders-. Scary. No substance at all.
Oops. I've strayed very far off topic. Hmm. Oh well. It feels good to be able to type seriously again. Hopefully more blogging and updating about what I see, hear and feel in the days and weeks to come!

Editor's note: Sorry to anyone who felt offended by what I've written in this post and at any point in this blog. I know some of the things I say and write can be a tad bit controversial and I know would upset some people.

That's all for now, au revoir!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Round 7 Over. 3 More To Go

So I've made it through 7 subjects totalling 15 papers. Phew. 3 more subjects to go. That means another 8 more papers. O_O'.

I have 3 days to brush up my Chemistry then one day to memorize Biology then 1 week to pour over my NatGeo magazines for EST.

At least after Biology, I can hit PCP!! YEEAAH!!!

So far, SPM wasn't too bad. Insyaallah I will be OK.

I hope so.

P/S
I've managed to keep my promise of staying off Facebook for 3 weeks. I'll stay off until AFTER I sit for my EST papers. Why? Because I know I can do it.