Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Singapore-lah Part 2

This is the continuum of my previous post ‘Singapore-lah Part-1’ which can be found here.  Since the post got tremendous amount of support by readers, I will continue my story.

"Singapore Skyline" by Adzrin Mansor

Some say that travel is about discovering new sights and places, understanding cultures, trying out new tastes or just having a good time. But, we can also rediscover ourselves in another point of view. This is what I did while having dinner at the Newton Food Centre. It is a complex of uniformly arranged food stalls wrapping a sea of plastic dining tables. The place was cleverly designed to resemble the Colonial Malay houses and the unroofed dining area replicates the courtyards of the old Baba-Nyona homes. As I walked into the area and picked my seat, several stall owners rushed from their respective stalls to usher us to our seats, while babbling some examples of a wide variety of South East Asian delicacies to trigger our taste buds. Instead of separating table areas for each stall, hungry customers can sit anywhere and order food from any stall that offers the dish that his taste buds are screaming for. Chinese delicacy stalls are the obvious majority here. As I ordered my food I noticed that not a single stall sells the exact same dish, every stall compliments each other, completing what’s missing from another stall. So I ordered some Singaporean Nasi Ayam from one stall and a refreshing glass of sugar cane juice from another. Either way, a customer would bring income for not only one stall. This sharing method is a common practice among Chinese businessmen, sharing their opportunities with their Chinese counterparts. At the end of this paragraph I will be frank, I was jabbering about the Chinese business culture thingy because the food was not as tasty as I expected! Aargh! This is the time when I discovered how I really appreciate the Tom Yam food stalls in Gombak.

"Newton Food Centre" by Adzrin Mansor
While we are still in the topic of food, there was a time when we were eating at Vivo City near Sentosa Island, we ordered for a plate of seafood fried rice but it ended up having more chili than rice. Seriously, it is so hot it is not even edible. I could not help myself from imagining the cook who might just had a terrible argument with his wife a few moments before. Then while frying our seafood fried rice his eyes might be red, full with anger while pouring chili constantly into his cooking and saying 'ambik kau, ambik kau...' So for tourist who might want to experience the crossroads of Asia, come to Singapore to try the fusion of Asian cultures. But as a Malaysian I think my country's cuisine suits my tongue best...

Not really far from the city is Singapore Discovery Centre, which is a state-of-the-art museum plus an army museum. The army base tour was probably the highlight of the trip to the museum as we were taken on a mini-bus ride along the streets of the military base. Taking pictures in the base is strictly forbidden so I kept my camera away during the tour. The base was cleverly planned to look like a university campus but instead of students immersing their heads in books, the view is replaced with soldiers exercising in perfect order. The academic atmosphere of the campus is replaced with tense patriotism. The main gate is another story, it is heavily guarded by soldiers hanging a Singaporean made SAR-21 assault rifle which has the capabilities almost similar to the famous Russian made AK-47. I also found out that the Singaporean army had close ties with the Israeli army and their relationship can be traced back at the early years of Singaporean nationhood. No wonder the relationship between Tun Dr Mahathir and Mr Lee Kwan Yew is like cats and dogs. Besides that, the Singaporean goverment made it compulsory for all 18 years old male citizens to train with the SAF (Singapore Armed Forces) for the period of two years. The conscription is called 'National Service' and it is made compulsory so that these men can be backup soldiers and use a rifle in times of need. I still remember a friend's joke, "know why Singaporean toilets are so clean? - the men are trained to aim properly..."

The sky was dark as grey clouds hovers above me, shielding me from the scorching tropical sun. We have limited time left in Singapore so we decided to hang out around the city center. The last time I visited Singapore was in 2005 where I stayed Orchard Hotel situated at the famous shopping street of Orchard Road. But this time, I could not even recognize the place, it is completely revamped to that extent. The avenue is lined with major shopping complexes selling stuff ranging from fashion items to food. Talking about food, I found a wonderful little eatery in the middle of Orchard Road selling original Padang style cooking. The sirap bandung they made was fabulous. This small and hidden stall saved my good impression on good food in Singapore. The place is also visited by locals. While eating with the locals, I’d always thought that Singaporeans talk Sing-lish like Phua Chu Kang, which the usage of English words with Malay grammar, for example, “Where got? You lah, simple sentence also cannot do. You old already…” But to my surprise, that type of language is nowhere to be heard. The Malays speak pure Malay, the Chinese spoke pure Mandarin and Indians spoke pure Tamil. I am not sure what happened myself.

"Marina Bay Sands Evening View" by Adzrin Mansor

Marina Bay Sands is too beautiful, I cannot help myself from posting another picture of it. As I wander the streets of Downtown Singapore, the city's Colonial heritage mixes well with the modern skyline. The Singapore Harbour is situated at a river mouth, and the tall skylines lines up along the shores. I could not help to notice the cleanliness of the city while browsing through its never ending sidewalk and parks. The city’s strict laws to maintain high standard of cleanliness is world renowned and sometimes ridiculed by other countries. I could remember the concrete pavements of Los Angeles that can be mistaken as a Dalmatian’s fur, clean grey concrete with black spots of old, dried chewing gum. Chewing gums is forbidden in Singapore, and other acts of uncleanliness can make you end up with a fine. I can still remember the words of the founder and former Singaporean President, Mr. Lee Kwan Yew. He told about the time when he saw a large difference in the cleanliness of a lease apartment with a freehold apartment. The freehold apartment was sparkling clean as it is owned by the people who live in it, the owners take good care of it as it is theirs. Singapore too is owned by the people and the people took great care of it. This is what I call patriotism. The strict fines were the only way to embed this idea of patriotism into the minds of immigrant workers that is now forms the majority of the society in Singapore. Malaysia also suffers the same problems of hygiene as there are still too many Malaysians who still couldn’t leave their lowlife practices, like wearing shoes in the house, spraying urine all over the toilet bowl, not flushing the toilet and the likes. Those strict laws were effective to discipline them into a modern citizen of a fast developing city with high living standards.

"Taxi ride" by Adzrin Mansor
When its time to leave for home, again we boarded the Aeroline bus from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur. This time, the bus is surprisingly quiet and comfortable, no more tsunamis this time. The trip makes me really tired and I found myself sleeping for the whole journey, waking up at Ampang. The thing about Singapore is, it is a very small country indeed, about 45km wide but their development rate exceeds its neighbouring countries, boasting a high income per capita than other countries. Travelling is more than just a 'field-trip', we can learn so much by just paying attention to small details during our time on foreign soil. A verdict on whether Singapore is a recommended travel destination, of course, it is a beautiful and interesting city, we also have so much to learn from the Singaporeans. Follow the spirit of "Can-lah"...

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

INTEC

INTEC, a word that is familiarly known by every Malaysian student in Korea. It is the place where SPM students evolved into college students, throwing their school uniforms above their shoulders and walk away, without looking back. INTEC is the abbreviation of 'International Education Centre', one of the campuses of UiTM located at Shah Alam. But this campus is only a bridge cross above the Federal Highway from the main campus. INTEC can also be called 'Section 17 Campus' as it is located at Seksyen 17, Shah Alam. The campus is the place for SPM leave students to go through their preparatory studies programmes before leaving for other countries around the globe. To list some, there is the A Levels, Korean Foundation Programme, Japanese Foundation Programme, Middle East Programme, AUSMAT, ADFP, ACTP, and some more. This is a picture of my comrade in front of the campus's library.
"Model Promo INTEC" by Adzrin Mansor
Many knew the existence of a campus for preparatory students at Seksyen 17, but not many knew where the students live. Most would think that students live in the aging apartment at the front of the campus. Nah, UiTM offers better facilities at 'Kolej Cemara & Akasia' which is located at Seksyen 18. It consists of a complex of 5 storey apartment blocks with at least 8 units on each floor. The campus is not really that far from the hostel so everyday, students would ride free shuttle buses available for free to go to campus and back to the hostel. Outside the complex, there is a Giant supermarket, Mydin supermarket and a small shopping complex called 'Ole-Ole'. There is also a newly built Carrefour and Uptown for those who are willing to go the distance. The best thing is, there is the famous 'Al-Rafi Bistro' just at the front of the hostel gate for people who would opt for roti canai, nasi campur, maggi goreng and other various mamak style cooking. It is a great place to hang out. Don't forget there is a weekly pasar malam every Monday. Do stop by for a murtabak or nasi ayam.
"Bistro" by someone I forgot but I'm sure this person is someone I know haha.
I signed up for the programme in May. I could still remember trying to choose between Korea and IIUM. The time when batch 11 signed up, I was just released from the hospital the day before it. 
Then I joined the group of 44 students in the programme, studying as college students in INTEC. As we are going to Korea for an Engineering Bachelor's Degree, we learnt 6 subjects which is Korean Language (Basic Level), Physics, Chemistry, Pre-Calculus, Fundamentals of Speech & Communication (FSC) and Islamic Ethics in Science and Technology (IES). Classes felt like a whole day as it starts at 8am and ends at 5pm. Here are some pictures of my lecturers,
"From left to right: Mrs Lee Myunghee, Ms Kang Eunsook, Mrs Chu Eungyung, and Ms Kim Gai Hyun. Korean Language Lecturers" by Adzrin Mansor
"Sir Andy, Physics Lecturer." by Adzrin Mansor
"Mdm Jenneta. FSC Lecturer and Korean Programme Coordinator" by Adzrin Mansor
The best part in learning Korean is the culture classes. In order to expose students on Korean culture, Wednesday is specially designated for it. The normal activities were playing traditional games, writing using the Chinese brush, playing Korean flute and the most frequent and favoured by students is watching Korean movies. Besides that, there would be outings also, especially to places that has something to do with Korea. One time, we went to Korea Town at Ampang (opposite of Ampang Point) to visit a Korean festival there. Then our teacher treated all of us a popular Korean noodle called 'Jajangmyeon'.
"Korea Town Ampang" by Adzrin Mansor
"Jajangmyeon Restaurant 1" by Adzrin Mansor
"Jajangmyeon Restaurant 2" by Khairul Zulhafiz
"Jajangmyeon Restaurant 3" by Adzrin Mansor.
"Jajangmyeon" by Muhamadnoorfarhan Shudin
During class time, everybody was serious, trying to do their best and study as hard as they can. But things are turned the other way around at the hostel. At night and weekends we would fool around the block. Our group of students were placed quite near from each other. Friend's units would be just a staircase away and we would hang out on friend's units to chat, to play 'counter strike', watch movies and such.
"이것은 뭐십니까?" by Adzrin Mansor
"Avon Bear vs Power Rangers 1" by Adzrin Mansor
"Avon Bear vs Power Rangers 2" by Adzrin Mansor
"Avon Bear vs Power Rangers 3" by Adzrin Mansor
"Avon Bear vs Power Rangers 2" by Adzrin Mansor
The Korean culture experience is also shared with campus-mates too. In October we organized an event together at campus called the Korean Festival. We prepared everything and cleaned everything up together (and fooled around a bit of course). The event was a bang!
"Korean Festival Junbi 1" by Adzrin Mansor
"Korean Festival Junbi 2" by Adzrin Mansor
"Korean Festival Junbi 3" by Adzrin Mansor
"Korean Festival Junbi 4" by Adzrin Mansor
"Korean Festival Junbi 5" by Adzrin Mansor
"Korean D-Day 1" by Adzrin Mansor
"Korean D-Day 2" by Adzrin Mansor
"Korean D-Day 3" by Adzrin Mansor
"Korean D-Day 4" by Adzrin Mansor
"Korean D-Day 5" by Adzrin Mansor
"Korean D-Day 6" by Adzrin Mansor
"Korean D-Day 7" by Adzrin Mansor
"Korean D-Day 8" by Adzrin Mansor
"Korean D-Day 9" by Adzrin Mansor
"Korean D-Day 10" by Adzrin Mansor
"Korean D-Day Crew 1" by Adzrin Mansor
"Korean D-Day Crew 2" by Adzrin Mansor
As students learning Korean language, the language skills that is emphasized is reading, writing, listening and speaking. Exams is one thing but speaking with real Koreans is probably the real test for our newly acquired language skills. There was a speech contest held at Korea Plaza Ampang, and the best hand picked group of students enroll to this competiton. It really brought out the best out of them, making them shine like no one else can. My housemate won the first prize! It's a flight ticket to Korea! Whoaa! Guess what, he sung a Korean language version of the Malay children's song 'Enjit-enjit Semut' on stage which sounds like "제, 제 개미~ 아픈 사람 위로 가요~"
"Speech Practice 1" by Adzrin Mansor
"Speech Practice 2" by Adzrin Mansor
"Speech Practice 3" by Adzrin Mansor
"Speech Practice 4" by Adzrin Mansor
"Speech Practice 5" by Tan Wei Guo
"Speech Competition 1" by Tan Wei Guo
"제, 제 개미" by Adzrin Mansor.
"Speech Competition 2" by Adzrin Mansor.
"Winner" by Adzrin Mansor.
"Speech Champions" by Adzrin Mansor.
The period of 9 months is indeed short, after a few months of studying we stumble upon the great test, the final exam of the second semester, and the answer for the question of whether our future lies in Korea or in Malaysia lies in in the exam. 
"Study 1" by Adzrin Mansor
"Study 2" by Adzrin Mansor
After the exams has ended, we had some good dinner together as a farewell party and as a token of gratitude towards our teachers.
"Batch Dinner 1" by Adzrin Mansor
"Batch Dinner 2" by Adzrin Mansor
"Batch Dinner 3" by Adzrin Mansor
"Batch Dinner 4" by Adzrin Mansor
"Batch Dinner 5" by Adzrin Mansor
"Batch Dinner 6" by Adzrin Mansor
"Batch Dinner 7" by Adzrin Mansor
"Batch Dinner 8" by Adzrin Mansor
"Batch Dinner 9" by Adzrin Mansor
"Lunch at Bluewave Hotel 1" by Adzrin Mansor
"Lunch at Bluewave Hotel 2" by Adzrin Mansor
"Lunch at Bluewave Hotel 3" by Adzrin Mansor
"Lunch at Bluewave Hotel 4" by Adzrin Mansor
"Lunch at Bluewave Hotel 5" by Aiman Ashari
Time flies when we were in Malaysia. By the time I am writing this post, the members of the Batch 11 is studying in the intermediate level of Korean Language at Seoul National University. The happy times we had at INTEC is embedded in each of our minds as fond memories.~
"Graduation" by Mdm Jenneta's Daughter haha.
"Cert Giving Ceremony" by Adzrin Mansor and Aiman Ashari
"Cemara Crew" by Adzrin Mansor
"Iklan INTEC" by Adzrin Mansor
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