my leaped of faith – Geog Soc

I know the common saying is “leap of faith”.. but i’m using the past-tense because this post is essentially about a decision made and how it influenced a large part of my life in NUS. since i’m leaving for exchange soon as a year three, i guess it will be good to look back at one of the things that really defined my first two years in university.

today i am going to touch on my reflection about the NUS Geographical Society (Geog Soc)whether you are interested or not..

frankly speaking i have no idea why i want to join the Geog Soc when i was a year one, if you ask me now i still cannot tell you why i joined it in the first place except to make sure i have friends.. and i was even contemplating whether i want a cca since we all know most things in university are based on your choice and nothing is compulsory..

the start…
i joined the Geography Freshmen Immersion Camp because i know i will major in Geography and i reckon it won’t hurt if i can make friends early in a less-serious setting of a camp. and of course my close friend went for the camp with me too, after that she asked me if i want to join the Geog Soc.

i honestly have no idea what Geog Soc was about, and the position i’m running for was: anything in the Publications Cell (director/executive) and then anything in the Marketing Cell (cos i want to learn new things). evidently during the informal interview, i was not aware and had no idea being a member of Geog Soc meant you have to be involved in really most or even all of its activities. i thought i was in there to help make a magazine only!

in addition i guess i am pretty good with talking in public cos i actually zoned out when i talk in public therefore i have little notion of public-speaking phobia (cos most of the time i’m not 100% myself even though i may speak really well).. and after our election speech we got elected into the Publications Cell.

the 1st year journey…
so i was part of a 19-member committee, pretty big and good mix of seniors and juniors.. also a really fun group of people to be with, we hang out together most of the time.

just a disclaimer, it doesn’t mean when one is in Geog Soc we only hang out with our “own people”… there is definitely a tendency for us to stick with each other and i won’t deny it.
i mean since we’re working partners in CCA and if we are taking the same classes, these are the people whose schedules most likely fit with yours… add to that the frequency of seeing these people during Geog Soc “work hours” increases your level of comfort around them.
it’s the same as why you would stick with your friends and not random classmates when you are in class.and honestly sometimes we just have little energy to be proactive in “engaging” new friends cos after the CCA duties you really just want to have comfortable down-time.

BUT if you are a Geography major reading this and knows any MC member of Geog Soc, you can speak to us and i assure you every single one will be willing to make friends with you or at least be friendly and welcoming towards you. of course it would be good if we can be active in knowing more people but i give credit to my fellow Geog Soc friends for having tried reaching out through the “gateway” of organizing Geog Soc activities.

moving on first year was really busy plus being a newbie in university, half the time i couldn’t make sense of what i was doing.. my mind just told me to: “finish doing what you need to do, just do it to your best ability and don’t question because you have no time to ponder.” stupid as it may sound, but yes this was my motto going through year one.

i guess when the term ended my “leaped of faith” paid off, and i made friends whom i am still so thankful for. then came the decision to join again or not?

the 2nd year journey…
i honestly didn’t think i want to join Geog Soc as an MC member again, cos i was really really tired from my 1st year. but part of me wants to join because honestly i am afraid that i will not see my friends anymore (yes another childish reason on my part). but anyways my friend joined and i promise her i will too, to support her through her term.

i almost backed out on my word, like honestly anyone who see me at that period will probably think i’m in douche mode. but then it is a promise i made, and the last thing i want is to backed out on a promise and make myself a real douche.. so i continued with my second year term.

resolute not to make myself so tired (although still very tired or maybe as a 2nd year im numbed towards being tired? LOL)…basically i tried ways to make myself more discipline, i become more of an observer and do-er in the sense i don’t do things blindly anymore. the 2nd year in Geog Soc taught me different things, and i spent more time to know people outside of Geog Soc as well, yes i realized that i will have friends/i will make friends even if i am not in Geog Soc MC anymore.. hahaha

as i type this, i would already not be a part of the active management committee of Geog Soc cos my term ended with a new team elected.
i won’t deny it has been a really really liberating feeling to know i am no longer part of the Management Committee, but at the same time it is bitter sweet knowing you have to pass on the responsibility to a new group of better men and women.

part of me can’t let go of what we have achieved as a comm and even more so when i have experienced this with two committees, but i know if you ask me now i will say my blurness from joining Geog Soc at first was probably one of the best mistakes and i wouldn’t want it another way.. here is why.

1. from Geog Soc i found such a close and good group of friends that I know i want to make an effort to maintain the friendship and also keep in contact with.

Sidenote: This group of people gave me a surprise 21st birthday celebration and where else in the world will i get this if not for Geog Soc? so much love typing this down ❀

2. from Geog Soc, I GREW UP. i can say i am no longer as blur (although still blur), i can say that it shows me what priorities i have (because when you are busy you forced to choose and prioritise what things and values are truly important to you), i can say that it taught me skills that i won’t get from an academic module.

3. i can say that it made me become a better person. if i have the tendency to be a selfish/proud person, through Geog Soc i’ve met people so much better than myself, it is a good humbling experience. i start to believe that everyone and every situation is a learning opportunity.

4. it made me be aware that sometimes it is up to us to be conscious of showing other people respect and accepting alternative ideas from others. we all know how to say this but few of us actively practice it. Geog Soc gave me a platform to put this into practice, although i’m not perfect in this but i know i am better at it now.

5. it strengthen my idea of being responsible, it is not about answering to other people but it is about not letting yourself down and not dragging others down.

6. it taught me that everything happens for a reason. through this i choose to adopt a positive mindset that my “leaped of faith” becomes something that is a wonderful mistake and a blessing in disguise.

this is meant to be a reflection and not a preaching post, and if any junior ever asked me what Geog Soc does i will probably say: like any organization and experiences that you may have encountered, it is a place training you to be a better person and a place for you to learn, but only if you set to bring in a responsible mindset and attitude into it.

and of course Geog Soc lets you meet people who like and love the discipline of Geography too, hopefully it helps to connect like-minded people together..

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Remembering FS IV: Pai, Chiang Khong, Mae Sa Long and Chiang Dao!

HAPPY 48th BIRTHDAY SINGAPORE!

*please credit if you’ll be using any photos, thank you!

Greetings from Pai to Chiang Khong to Mae Sa Long to Chiang Dao~ travelling is definitely a large part of our humanoids journey for this FS.. we go to different borders and along the way had really nice “rest stops”. and of course we made these trip in between our stay in Mae Aw before going back again to complete our projects..

i guess some might not like the travelling, but personally i think these trips allowed us to bond and it seems like a good break from doing work hehe (although almost everyone brought working gear and slip in work time here and there ^^)

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this photo was taken on the way from Mae Hong Son to Pai, actually it shows that we’re already in Pai (some park thing..) which btw, i think we really travelled on about 1864 curves.. and towards the end of the trip everyone had a certificate for ‘surviving’ and completing the ‘gruelling’ journey.. though really if you are travelling with friends, it is not that bad..
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a group shot with my friends (Cheryl, Esther and myself ^^) i really love them and will definitely miss them when we’re all away for this coming semester.. but i guess that’s what photos are for, to remember the great times spent together!
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an “I believe i can fly” shot, it can look a bit intimidating staring down, but the air and wind is so so good up here πŸ˜€
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this photo was taken with Joyce, one of the most fun people on our trip, and i adopted the name “Sheep” because she thinks have the ‘aura’ of one heh.. thank you for taking good care of me and bringing joy on this trip ^^

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arriving at Pai town, this town is one of the more underrated places in Thailand i think.. it is considered as backpackers’ haven, but really i think young travellers will like it.. we had cake for dessert after lunch, which is probably our first slice of cake for the entire trip.

this really recharged us and is definitely considered a luxury.. i really like how FS as a journey not only teaches us about field work and application of field ideas and theories, it teaches you more about how to live your life (along the lines of revelation).. every single one of us became more appreciative of what we have, and 7-11 stores there are really what we are content to have and considered a bonus for every place we visit.

in addition, Pai also have really unique souvenirs with an artsy twist to them and every shop sells a different kind of souvenir, not to mention one of the cheapest Roti sold in Thai night markets can be found here!

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cute doggie belonging to the owner of our guesthouse @ PaiSeven
IMG_6073BBQ fish for dinner, easily one of the most delicious fish i’ve tasted! which was cooked by our Songtiao uncles ^^

we stayed in Pai for a night (too short as everyone would tell you…) then head to Chiang Khong, where we will be visiting the Thai-Laos border πŸ™‚

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lunch stop on the way to Chiang Khong, braised pork rice *yum*

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fast forward and we’ve arrived in Chiang Khong, i like how as a group we all went out looking for a dinner place recommended by Lonely Planet. it’s a Thai restaurant and serves really good Tom Yum soup :p the above is a photo of us on a street there.. feels pretty peaceful and ‘leisure’ heh

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passed by a row of shop houses and this statue was really randomly placed outside one of the shops. really cute statue and quite heartwarming if you think it’s about a couple growing old and staying by each other’s side.. (thinking too much…)

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easily one of the grandest temple around in Chiang Khong, it looks more magnificent and grand from its sides… and is really big i must say, pity it’s closed by the time we arrived in Chiang Khong~

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introducing our main purpose in Chiang Khong… to visit the Laos-Thai border! this time we travelled by boat, and i must say it’s a different experience, and even before we embark on the actual journey, it is clear that the port serves different functions and also how one’s identification plays a part (as for every border around the world?)..

a side note would be how the random coffee shop at the port serves really good coffee, better than Starbucks and at least five times cheaper πŸ˜‰

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a shot of the Mekong River Β from onshore the land across is Laos. i think i have express that visiting the Mekong River and seeing it in person is almost like a milestone for me.. i’ve always learnt about river management, river uses and its links to different countries on textbooks, and in particular i’ve never failed to read and learn about Mekong River..

but for the past 7-8 years learning about Mekong River, i’ve only know about it as an “arm-chair Geographer”.. when you truly see something that you’ve read and learnt about, it makes all that learning come to live and knowing that what you’ve learnt about is real… that feeling is just indescribable πŸ™‚
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a photo of me taken with Shawn, one of our seniors who is also the teaching assistant and helper for our FS! we actually took it because we were wearing similar hats (mine actually belongs to my friend, Jiayi ^^).. i hope this photo is good enough, because Shawn is almost a professional photographer and here is his photography portfolio:Β https://www.facebook.com/SQphotog

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this is a photo of our breakfast in Laos, banana pancakes which is really delicious although easily one of the more pricey food we’ve ordered throughout our FS journey~

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here is the shopfront, and this was taken in Laos πŸ˜‰ i guess the town we visit is pretty much a tourist destination so non-local Laos food can be found easily (well to cater to the tourists’ tastebuds?) haha functions within a border town ^^
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yeap and this photo (which is also the blog’s background) was taken on our way out and back to Chiang Kong.. my group and the tourism group left early to another village, Mae Sa Long, for our projects’ research..

Mae Sa Long is actually also another Chinese village in Thailand, more well known perhaps? but easily more commercialised in the sense that once stepped in, the surroundings is ‘so Chinese’ that you kind of know parts of it have been shaped to earn the tourist dollar.. not exactly reflective of the local people there in my opinion. nevertheless the stay there has been an eye-opener..

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this is the front desk of our one night accommodation in Mae Sa Long, really really clean and well-furnished guesthouse.. so glad we came when it was the low season for tourism, i’m pretty sure my group won’t enjoy it as much if there were a lot of guests too..

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our room for the night ^^ unforgettable room with powerful shower head, comfortable beds and great Mae Sa Long weather! there was also a TV set which shows Chinese channels :O well, it is a Chinese village after all~

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after checking in, we also checked out the local hot-selling noodle shop! traditional Yun nan noodles, easily the best noodles and dumplings i’ve tasted, and the taste is NO JOKE, really worth the trip down in any case!

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let the photos do the talking, golden brown dumplings~

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oh glorious and flavoursome noodles heh

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the focus of our trip into Mae Sa Long, the Chinese Martyrs Memorial Museum.. it’s not exactly a museum in my opinion, but more of a place to show case the development of Mae Sa Long when the KMT soldiers came into Thailand.. with snippets of other Chinese villages in Thailand also..

but i will say this place is not possible if not for funding and donations, which not all Chinese villages are blessed with… for instance, Mae Aw (Ban Rak Thai). although sometimes i would rather a place slow down development and retain more of its vernacular culture (let’s not discuss what is culture here~)
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me being a country bumpkin and taking photo of a fresh sunflower with edible seeds~

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fast forward to nightfall, and this is a view of our guesthouse’s exterior.. really quaint and tranquil at night which is what i really appreciate about this place!
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our sumptuous dinner! Mae Sa Long also has about 30% Muslim population, so this is a Halal establishment, which we visited with our group mate, Aqram, to break his fast that day. although it is Halal food, it’s also Chinese-style and the food is really really good and satisfying.. fond memories coming back to me as i’m typing this…

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highlight! highlight! highlight! of the day… my favourite Greentea Cornetto ice cream, which i sorely miss when i’m now back in Singapore.. some might say it’s overrated, but i say: to each his own πŸ˜‰

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greeting us after a good night’s sleep: traditional bakery in the village.. very underrated in my opinion, and all the baked goods are freshly made!

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piping hot cake we ordered the minute it was ready, the lady boss even brought it out specially for us.. about 50baht for this, but still good, the taste is just heavenly and it gives me a familiar and simple taste of home..

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the famous food in Mae Sa Long: soybean drink and fried dough (i never thought i will find these outside of Singapore or China..) this meal is also our lunch, stir-fried mushrooms, seaweed soup and fried mantou! food glorious food, and very fond memories shared with my friends ❀
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before we leave the village, some short sight-seeing to be done.. neat rows of tea plantation..vastly different from Mae Aw (covered later)~

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and a photo of me with my boy-scouts hat! i didn’t bring it back to Singapore because it broke on the last day of our trip 😦 i think i look pretty good in it though.. cheap things can look good too!

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this jaw-dropping resort in Mae Sa Long, a big contrast to the other structures we see in the village… i guess it is pretty much equipped with any facilities one can think of~

IMG_6236arriving at Chiang Dao, where we will join back the rest of our Humanoids group.. we managed to visit the Chiang Dao caves and the trip down is pretty interesting.. glad to have gone in with the Mae Sa Long buddies hehe πŸ˜‰

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i forgot what this represented, but it’s a landscape within the dark and quite dangerous cave.. there were many others too, some looked real, some not so..

IMG_6254we also checked-in early to our accommodation in Chiang Dao before the others arrive, and a photo taken with Peggie (flower of the tourism group ^^)

FS brought me to so many different places and every single place taught me something, i truly am thankful and blessed to have made this trip and i would say the best place hasn’t even been covered yet~ till then, Mae Aw!

Remembering FS2556 III: Mae Sot, Mae Sam Lat

*please credit if you wish to use any images, greatly appreciated ^^Β 
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In this photo are my Songtiao buddies, we travelled everywhere together in the same vehicle, and it really made my journeys interesting, fun, enjoyable and more bearable (as we tackle motion sickness hehe)

we have officially ‘split up’ from our big group of 47 to the respective Humanoids (Human Geographers) and Physicoids (Physical Geographers).. then we will meet up in the last week.. and very much from this point on, the assignments we have will be focused on the different ‘genres’ of Geography!

presenting to you our main mode of transport: Songthaew or Songtiao as i would prefer to call them.. i don’t have my own nice shot of our Songtiao, so i will show one taken from the internet!

Songthaew/ Songtiao Credit: http://www.chiang-mai.org

yeap i must give a short introduction to these red vehicles! they are versatile, better than Jeep in my opinion because they really can go rounds and rounds up a mountain and the most important point is they can hold up to eight of our large backpackers’ haversacks!

another plus point of loving our Songtiao is also the team of uncles driving them, they are not our drivers! they are our teachers and they can do anything.. from driving a boat, cooking, fishing, carrying heavy loads and to of course driving these Songtiao for long hours and not look like they have motion sickness :O *thank you Pii-Songtiaos*
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a photo of other Songtiaos in our troop, this was taken from my seat in the Songtiao πŸ™‚ this time we were travelling from Sukhothai up North to Mae Sot.

when i look back at these photos and think of the people, i cannot help but have revelation that people do come into our lives for a reason (good and bad).. what i’ve learnt from every single Thai people i’ve met on this trip is to be sincere and genuine in how you treat people, it might not have any impact on yourself, but you surely will bring joy for others πŸ™‚

last but not least, that effect is a lasting and lingering effect.. as an artist once said: “anything that leaves a yearning is beautiful.”

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some wonderful and delicious coconut ice cream from a random stop on our way to Mae Sot. lunch stop was a good time knowing new people (i wasn’t close to a few Humanoids friends until we really got to spend time together over meals, travelling, projects and basically living together ^^)

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words from one of our Ajan (lecturer).. “we are experiencing calm before the storm”.. checking into our wonderful one-night accommodation in Mae Sot! after which we were given a trip down to Tesco Lotus, which would be our last for the entire trip…

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before dinner we went for some snacks inside Tesco Lotus and did some last minute shopping for any necessities that we wish to stock up.. we also had a snack, which is simply delicious: KFC Banana Chocolate Portugese Egg Tart πŸ˜›

these simply melt in your mouth and fill it with banana goodness! Thailand really has a lot of really good and affordable food, some of my favourite snacks are Nori Seaweed Lays chips, Puriko Herbal Tea and my ABSOLUTE FAVOURITE: Green Tea Cornetto! i really miss that ice cream when i came home, i even dreamt about it :O
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i like how the skyline becomes a pretty backdrop for these cables, there is some contrast (or maybe not).. but the skyline never fails to cheer me up~ this was taken outside Tesco Lotus ^^

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our dinner place in Mae Sot, it’s cowboy-themed and also our first official dinner as Humanoids team (with many more to come too!).. really enjoyed the company every single moment..

you know how sometimes with a big group of people one might think: i need a break from large group? with this team of friends, teachers, mentors i never had such a moment.. the wish that we never part was in fact always there ❀

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after dinner we went back to our very nice rooms for a good rest and of course our Songtiao started our adventures together.. first up: Mask party ^^

this was bought in Tesco Lotus and cost about 45 baht for a packet of two.. it warms up upon contact with your skin and really clears my blackheads! i hope Singapore has this, but it’ll probably cost a lot more…

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umm.. i hope this is small enough (mask up unglamness).. collage of our Songtiao’s mask party together.. hehe everyone had clear and clean skin the next day!

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the next day was another trip and lesson about Borders (we have more border lessons after this too).. this time we are brought to the Mae Sot-Myawaddy border.. it is the second official land border (with bridge crossing) between Thailand and Myanmar.

i guess even non-Geographers would know that borders serve important functions and as a landscape it is easy to observe these functions too.. they are also imbued with meanings and also geopolitical significance..

this particular border strike to me as serving important economic functions, where Burmese workers can cross into Mae Sot for work on a daily basis or periodically.. but their movement would be confined within a particular area only.. the photo above shows how busy the border actually is.
IMG_5852another observation, these employment agencies in Mae Sot probably have support functions for incoming Burmese workers and also employers in Thailand.. and it is particularly obvious and prevalent in Mae Sot.

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yeap the check-point is as shown in the photo, it is vastly different from the Causeway or Tuas checkpoint Singapore has with Malaysia.. and i will explain more about the unofficial border~

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we met a local Burmese-Thai guide and this is an example of a temporary borderpass.. he is just a person whom our Ajan Carl befriended. initially we asked: who is that random stranger?

we were taught a life lesson here, Ajan Carl said, “nobody is ever random.” and him befriending this person proved a point, that you can make friends anywhere if you try πŸ™‚ so he became our impromptu guide into Myawaddy, and his service is FOC!

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and… introducing River Moei, this river lies beneath the official check point. and every landscape has a certain function, so what is its function? it is the unofficial border. yeap some Burmese would cross into Thailand without the official documents and they usually go back on a daily basis.. they usually sell goods in Thailand (just on another bridge below the official one).. well this is what i would be willing to share, for more information refer to academic papers written by Dr. Carl Grundy-Warr ^^

sometimes there really isn’t a distinction between Β black and white, and who is to say what is right or wrong? on FS i’ve learnt an important lesson, don’t be judgemental and be open to things and events..

the environment i grew up in does not really expose me to these grey areas very often, and therefore as a bystander with no actual experience or knowledge, i will not comment if it’s right or wrong..Β although personally, i would think it is all for the sake of livelihood and that becomes a factor shaping different courses for things.

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another photo of our official border crossing before we have to keep our cameras at the checkpoint ^^

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and we’re in Myawaddy, Myanmar.. this particular town is really a typical city i guess, different industries can be seenand the streets are just busy and bustling; except it’s different from our typical office-dominated city-centre.

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before leaving for lunch, we took a trip to the unofficial border’s bridge.. we see dried goods and some contraband products being sold there.. they actually sell the same type for each stall, sometimes i can’t help but wonder how sustainable is this?

our next stop is to Mae Sam Lat, where we get to experience a different kind of borderscape (border landscape).. and off we go on our Songtiao!

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a view of passing rice fields from the Songtiao πŸ™‚ i really enjoy travelling on the road cos i get to see so many different places! btw, we were suppose to reach Mae Sam Lat National Park by nightfall…

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an oh no, because the journey there is too long we only reached the river around evening and hence we couldn’t take the boat into the National Park, cos there will be pirates at night! in addition, we are in a small village by the Salween River πŸ™‚

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when we’re delayed and unsure of how things will go, we take a selca! with my pretty friend, she can never have a bad angle and of course she is already attach in case you are wondering… hehe

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more selfies.. i title this photo: the prince and princesses of selfies!

i won’t go into details how we go into the Mae Sam Lat National Park, cos it will take me one day to share the full story.. but it has been an adventure of a lifetime and also a test of our mental strength and also proved how bonded we can be ❀

so we stayed there for three nights, and since it’s a park it’s naturally infested with different creepy crawlies.. i think our tolerance level suddenly increase and almost everyone had some form of insect attack.. no assignments here, just some trekking, bonding activities and observation of our surroundings~

the food btw… is DELICIOUS πŸ˜€

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fast forward, this is a morning shot of the Salween River on our last day.. and across the river is Myanmar where mainly the Karens reside in.. the geopolitical history and situation in Myanmar is really interesting, which i think is also good to know..

it puts things into perspective, how close two countries can be and makes you think about the functions of landmarks around and along the border hmmm? and there is actually a film titled “Salween” taking place in the same location, of course an action film with subtle political meanings imbued within.
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on the boat rider back to the border village, we are on our way to Baan Rak Thai! the bost ride is actually very enjoyable ^^ breezy and calm, not something i get to experience often~

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our group on a single boat, everyone is looking forward to Rak Thai! hehe cos’ it will be a different environment and the place serves as our base camp for about two weeks!

IMG_5936one last photo of boats and village… i think a single post has to be dedicated to Ban Rak Thai apart from another post about our trip from West to East of Thailand (this was slotted in between our stay in Rak Thai).. more great journeys ahead πŸ˜‰

Remembering FS2556 II: Ranong, Kawthaung, Kanchanaburi, Sukhothai

*please credit if you are going to take and use some of the scenery photos (of course if it’s applicable to you), much appreciated!Β 

Let me begin my second post on FS with numbers.. we spent about 42-43 days in Thailand, travelling from South to the North. and for the front part we travelled as one big group until we had to split to Physical Geography group and Human Geography group at Sukhothai..

presenting the map to you. this map’s property of the Andaman Coast Research Centre located in Ranong.. we were exposed to some extensive and crash course physical geography field work there, and my group did on beach erosion. as seen from the map, we’re really located beside the Andaman Sea..

being an arm chair geographer for most of my life, seeing the Andaman Sea upclose is yet another eye opening experience..you see the waves come crashing in, and then when you look into the horizon, you can clearly see two shades of the sea.. one greenish-blue and another being brown (filled with sediments).. not something we can observe clearly at East Coast Park i guess?
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i will say i have new found respect for Physical Geographers, it is not easy work and sometimes it can be tedious and mundane with all the data collection.. i am not a fan of it, but being a Geographer myself i do admit that this aspect is important as well.. so all hail to Geographers everywhere ^^

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moving on, im showing off a photo of what we did for our project.. we drew a diagram about how to measure extent of beach erosion, and of course this diagram is not drawn to scale, it is also not 100% accurate in terms of the coast line. but pretty interesting fieldwork that we did out in Ranong.

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sharing a photo of my group members and i.. everyone really gave their all for this and many teams even stayed up late thinking about their hypothesis questions and also how to best present collected data in a clear and easy to understand manner. i am happy with our group dynamics cos everyone is so easy-going and really supportive of one another. thank you my lovely group mates and friends ^^ lucky me ❀

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another photo of our “workroom” in Ranong..we spent about six days there and towards the last three days all the groups really gathered in this hall and did discussion and compilation work. the atmosphere can get a little “workish” but looking back it is really nice seeing everyone working hard together..

of course all is not rosy at Ranong, initially we thought that place was stifling.. imagine not having any access to telecommunications or amenities except for food prepared by the cook house.. but thankfully Dr. Z brought my group out for “chill-out” session on a random day.. we did learning on the beach and swam in a river, the water is actually cleaner and nicer to drink than the water we get at the research centre!

i guess i can now declare: i have swam in and drank from a river, i also learnt how to toss stones to make them bounce on water surface ^^

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right after leaving Ranong, we went for a day trip into Kawthaung, Myanmar. it’s not all leisure and fun.. being Geographers we had to observe our surroundings and make notes on what we see at the border. such border crossings are definitely new for most Singaporeans, i believe and it is not often where we get to step foot into Myanmar right? more on borders in a later post…
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another shot of KawThaung from the boat. really interesting landscape over there, and nothing like the ‘usual’ border-scape we have experienced..

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with “Fan” at a temple in KawThaung, i would say this town is quite catered for tourists taking a day-trip in? there’s also Victoria Point where we visited, where there’s a statue of a great Burmese king.. although interestingly that statue was not state erected, other possible relationship and economic implications to think of as a Geographer can tell you~

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it’s not very often one steps foot into Myanmar, and therefore a mandatory self-shot/selca must be taken ^^

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and after Ranong-KawThaung, we were given Tesco-Run hehe.. meaning a short break at the local Tesco lotus mega-mall.. i really like that place, it’s so clean and brings some familiar order back when one misses Singapore… but i think overtime, the need for order diminishes as we continue our FS journey..

our coach took us to Kanchanaburi, which means City of Gold for a short stop-over. the photo shows the Death Railway built during WWII.. i don’t really like that place for some reason, just not a vibe that im inclined towards..

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despite that, we visited the local night market and everyone took a photo of this beautiful sunset. now now, even though i don’t exactly like Kanchanaburi, what is not to like about this photo? and moving on….

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this delicious siew-mai was bought in Sukhothai! it costs only 5 baht for five of them!

yes… we’ve arrived at ancient kingdom, Sukhothai. i really like this place, it’s so full of history and culture that gives quite a quaint feeling.. the best part about Sukhothai is it’s so accessible and bike-friendly!

almost everywhere you see bike shops, laundry services and also a mix of local and foreign eating places~
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a group shot with the “explore Sukhothai before dinner” gang πŸ™‚ before we were briefed about our assignment here.. erm it’s aka the 18-hour assignment.. basically we have to cycle around the relics the next day, and make an annotated sketch of what we see, and then link it to any form of Geography we think is appropriate..

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an evening shot of Sukhothai before dinner. the whole place really allows one to take pretty photographs even on an iPhone! hehe i did not do any photo editing!

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the following morning we went out early on our bikes to explore Sukhothai! and this is me with one of the relic. i made use of the wifi-access to read up about Sukhothai’s history (but i didn’t use any information except for the religion part…) anyways, my personal feeling about this place is: it somehow makes you want to show the place respect and you can’t help but be in awe of this place.

i think i will come back here some day!

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i was also lucky to take a photo of this sight, i explored the whole day and was getting really impatient and quite flustered that i haven’t taken any photographs to give me inspiration for my sketch.. i really don’t want to just sketch the relics cos everyone would be doing the same thing..

on a side note: i even managed to chat with the devotee, who came all the way from Bangkok and he gave me inspiration.. thank you kind person who also happen to speak English~
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and so this is my annotated sketch, i actually took a risk to make my sketch with more of the artistic/lit. direction than geographical.. having explain the links with Geography through the annotations.. and i drew myself in, being the fat human climbing the flight of stairs up to a buddha relic.. all in all i enjoyed this project very much hehe..

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photo of one of the greatest Wat (temple).. the sight is really magnificent and although much of the structures experienced weathering, the size of it pretty much remained the same.. one can’t help but feel minute and small among them~

1012924_10200227190104192_851826498_nlast but not least, a photo with my friends who explored Sukhothai with me so early in the morning. i am so glad to have known them better and got closer to them, it is always good to have the company of friends! thank you to YT for taking this photo before some of us part ways to our respective Humanoids and Physicoids group ^^

Remembering FS2556 I: Songklah, Phattalung and Khao Lak

*please do not use any photos without credit, if using photos is applicable πŸ™‚ much appreciated!Β 

Wanted to title the post: “Remembering FS, Post-FS’s Post”, but realized it’s quite a bad title… still, i think i need to ‘document’ my FS journey in one way or another, although i don’t have a lot of photos.. because my old digital camera’s lens has mould on it..

lesson learnt, don’t leave your camera lying around for too long and not use it.. also just bring a good camera anywhere you go, i wanted so much to protect my new camera but end up using my phone for photos which is less than ideal..

summing up, FS brought us from Southern Thailand to Northern Thailand and it really is a journey which must be experienced in order to understand how significant it is πŸ™‚

for the first part we were at Songklah, that’s where we met our thai buddy from Thaksin University.. it has been a really pleasant and i learnt so much about Thai culture in a short span of one week..

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introducing my Thai buddy: Mod. also during the trip i was grouped with Charlene, a really cute and pleasant girl from NUS Geography.. it’s really interesting when i look back at my first impression of her (without any interaction), and the actual impression i had.. i must say they are world’s apart!

goes to show that never judge anyone by their appearance, even if being judgemental is inevitable in human nature.. and don’t judge anyone without interacting with them first πŸ™‚

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visiting the Folklore Museum in Songklah, really impressive how they document the past lives of villagers in Southern Thailand. this is one pretty impressive view from the top of the museum ^^

Songklah’s like an orientation stop for us to interact and know each other, and for a day we had free time and roam around the streets and markets. our group kind of kept to ourselves and joined one other group, in a way it makes me feel that travelling and interacting in small group really provides quality time to know your friends.. not to mention, less chaotic~

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waiting and catching the sunset at a Mermaid’s Beach, Songklah. i really like this shot, although we experimented with many other gestures and even did impressive jump shots.

after our Songklah stop, our Thai buddies accompanied us to Phattalung area for our first assignment and also homestay.

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just a shot on a bridge in Phattalung area, we visited this lake and was told that the Water Buffalos can dive down to the fields when there is flooding.. a sight we didn’t manage to witness cos’ it was not flooding season when we were there.. but if you picture diving buffalos, i think it will be an interesting scene!

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fast forward to Thale Noi, Phattalung; where i had my home stay with the local cook, Pa-Auan (left), and our assignment’s on Food Culture.

interesting fact: in Thailand, people might not use their registered birth name for daily use, instead another name that is suited to one’s character is being used.. Pa-Auan being the local cook is called Aunty Fat ^^

Mod’s name was given by her teacher when she was in kindergarten, which means ant (probably cos of her small size). of course we have our Thai names.. my Thai name is “Fa” which means sky and Charlene’s is “Fan” which means dream. pretty names which i really like!

over the four days with Pa-Auan and her family, i truly experienced the hospitality and kindness of Thai people. it is no wonder the country is called Land of Smiles~ we met our host family as strangers but they treated us like their daughters and it makes you want to give your best in terms of helping them and showing them your respect πŸ™‚

Pa-Auan’s daughter, Pii-Lan also took great care of us.. i remember my favourite drink was Cha-Dam-Yen (iced black thai tea), which i didn’t even mention.. but they always see me drinking it.. so on our last day, Pii-Lan actually bought it specially for me, it’s these small and simple gestures that makes you appreciate people and also be touched by how genuine people can be.

just a side note, i think as Singaporeans we take efficiency and speed for granted that we forget the small things in life that are actually significant in making you a happier and better person..

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one last mandatory photo with Mod before we bid each other good bye. thank you for being a great host, friend and not to forget a proficient translator! most importantly for teaching me to be a better person through your thoughtful and mature ways πŸ™‚

love lots lots! <333
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just a short piece on our third stop at Khao Lak.. we stayed at a great guesthouse (probably most of our favourite?) and of course we had a second assignment there too.. my group did on Post-Tsunami Land Use planning.. we had orientation around the area as well..

being in Khao Lak is so different from Songklah and Phattalung.. it is so touristy that makes me feel like the place is pretty contrived.. that aside we visited the sea-people, Mokens’ villages and got to know about their way of life through a local museum. also learnt about how land use is really different pre and post-tsunami and how some people cope with land changes after the tsunami event..

one a side note, we visited one of the beaches where the tsunami actually hit back in 2004.. you have to be there to see the waves, although it’s normal wave but compared to the ones we see back home, they look pretty intimidating.. you hear the waves slapping on the shore and see them approaching, the height and size of these waves is quite a sight.

one can only imagine how scary the tsunami waves were when it is five metres or more.. visiting the site kind of puts things into perspective, when we always read about these events on the papers and from academic texts, but being there in person gives you a different feeling and sometimes it’s surreal too..
IMG_5535ending with a photo of the tsunami memorial park..

to add to how scary an actual tsunami can be, my group actually went out to the beach after our assignment one morning.. and we experienced an instant of strong waves sweeping onshore, where all our footwear and belongings were washed away.. we really screamed and scrambled to pick our stuff up, but the waves were too strong.. fortunately it died down very soon, but we had to go into other parts of the water to retrieve our belongings; one can only imagine how the actual tsunami hit..

PS: 2556 is the Buddhist year used in Thailand, equivalent to our Year 2013. some juniors actually thought the module changed name haha ^^

Writing… and anticipating… and keeping track~

Year 2 has ended for me! it has been a ride, a journey and also growing up.. actually i kind of like it, some things could have been better but i know it’s good to move forward. just really glad to have known a group of really nice friends and made new ones too, and thankfully exams have ended.. i just hope for it to be good~

and not summer has sort of begun, my plans are basically… take a really good break to recharge and some ‘me’ time, before FS and praying for really smooth application regarding SEP admin matters etc. within this period. part of me is anticipating SEP and a part of me has a bit of trepidation inside, but i know i want it all to turn out well, and being positive is the best way to go!

for now perhaps carpe diem is a good attitude to live with =)

nothing much but just really glad i can compose quite a bit, and do random drawings. not the best, perhaps one day when i’m ready they can be showed to people other than myself..

one last thing… i used to think i do not want to be defined because frankly speaking we all change some way or another, but recently i guess if i have to be given a fix identity to live with, i want it to be student. Β #justsaying~

Pick yourself up and dust yourself off.

Before I continue with my wallow in self pity mode, and letting things affect my momentum I think it will be good to just put down the not good stuff.. then move on from there.

didn’t do well for individual cities level 3 quiz, quite badly but it’s 10% so hopefully my class participation makes up for it.. and this makes me know that my finals is serious business now, it was serious business before, but now there is no bargain.

second thing, thank you to my other teacher for being so patient with me. somehow when i did badly, i feel bad not so much for my results (because i know the need to learn from there and be better, so i try to move on from myself) but even as i move on from my failures, the worst feeling is knowing i have disappointed people who have faith and confidence in me… more specifically my teachers who guided me.

but nevertheless they are ever so encouraging. i will always remember the Mdm who said,
“Don’t ever look backward, move on and look forward.”

and if I may share being a movie-junkie of sorts, I once read this quote by Julia Roberts, “pick yourself up and dust yourself off”

so now that i’ve put the unpleasant things down, it’s time to remind myself: MOVE ON and DO BETTER.

anyways just read the newspaper and something nice to share would be a health article about smiling. the power of smile..

“Smile, for everyone lacks self-confidence and more than any other one thing, a smile reassures them.” – Andre Maurois

PS: everything will be alright in the end, if it’s not alright it is not the end, yet πŸ™‚