May 5, 2012


Leaving Christchurch brings with it a mixture of emotions – from happiness to relief to a bittersweet sense of loss. For all of the experiences I've gained and people I’ve met; going home seems like a difficult task. The saddest part is leaving the wonderful friends I’ve made through the years. 

Feeling a bit miserable right now but I guess this is only a phase.

I end this short entry with a nice song called Love, Love Love. The band is called Avalanche City.

May 3, 2012

I'm still here

I've been very quiet over the last few weeks. It's mostly been because I've been trying to finish my thesis while packing and coordinating my move to Malaysia. It 's hard to believe my time here is up. After three and a half years in Christchurch, I'm finally moving back to KK!! Between the move, thesis-writing and the chaos at home, I haven't had any time for blogging or bloghopping. Believe me, I've been meaning to read the updates in my reading folder but circumstances just don't permit it.

For this post, let me just tell you what I've been up to the past few weeks, okay?

As I've said earlier, we're moving home very very soon. We’ve been packing like mad over the past few weeks and cleaning the house for our landlord’s final inspection. Inspection day was Sunday and boy, was I relieved when we finally handed over the house keys to Mr. Butcher.

To me, there's nothing fun about packing. The whole process was so stressful, I almost had a meltdown. I felt like crap packing tons of stuff because my ribcage was sore the whole time (will tell you more about this). Second, we had way too many things to get rid of. Deciding what to ship home, donate and sell was physically and mentally draining. I didn’t think we own so many things, but when we started packing, I realised just how much junk we've accumulated over years. Third, when I'm busy packing, I become very moody and I look frumpy. I go into a don’t-come-and-see me mode which is really ugly.
But that's all over now and I am so relieved to have the packing behind me!


Apart from packing, I was also busy selling all our stuff on Trade Me. Trade Me is something like I find it exciting selling stuff online especially when the bid exceeds my reserve price. These are some of the things I've sold on Trade Me.

I sold these and tons of other stuff like my shoes, handbags, bean bags, TV Cabinet, dining table, trampoline, toaster, rice cooker, printer, vacuum cleaner, broom, laundry basket, study desk, wall clock, and matress. Semua licin!

A Tragic Fall

This event is related to the ribcage pain I mentioned earlier.

Have I told you that I am a total klutz? If I haven’t, well, it’s time I come clean. I have this habit of falling down and hurting myself on a regular basis. Hubby and my sister are constantly surprised that I can fall down while doing something so simple like walking. I think it’s in my DNA.

Last year my great fall happened at the college cafe. Remember this post? I lost my footing while walking into the cafĂ© and landed flat on my butt. Humiliating, yes.  

An incident at the uni 2 weeks ago beats last year’s hands down. On a fine Wednesday morning, while I was working at the office, I got a text message from a guy who saw my Car-For-Sale ad. Overwhelmed by excitement, I got totally disoriented. All I knew was I needed to get home ASAP. So I quickly got out of the office and sprinted toward my car. Instead of walking over this chain barrier thingy in front of the parking lot, I jumped over it. BIG mistake. Instead of jumping successfully, I ended up getting my right foot caught in the chains. 


I fell down hard flat on the ground. Face Down.

The worst thing was a few people and a nenek who was brisk-walking witnessed the entire scene. So there I was lying down on the pavement, with the sun on my face and this elderly woman beside me. I cursed myself for attempting the impossible jump. The nenek said "You had a fright but you’ll be okay”. I thanked her and slowly limped my way to the car. End  of story.

The moral of the story? If you're a klutz, avoid crossing/ jumping/ walking over barriers of any sort.

The barriers

Selling my Camry

Another big decision I made last month was to sell  my car. I bought it in 2010 with the intention of shipping it to KK. I was keen on doing that because according to Kastam di Raja Malaysia (KDRM), overseas students  who intend to import cars to the country get student AP. Plus, a majority of my seniors have imported their cars without much hassle. This means the cars arrived promptly and the payable tax was reasonable. For instance, my colleague JD, who went back to Malaysia last year was charged RM18K in tax for his 2001 Honda Stream. Reasonable, don't you think?

So. What made me change my mind? Well, when I asked for a quotation from KDRM in Port Klang, I was told that I needed to pay about RM31K for my Camry. Fine. I then called KDRM in Kota Kinabalu to ascertain the figure. Guess what? The KK custom official had a different quotation. It was RM62K! DOUBLE the amount given by Port Klang custom. Crazy right? Shouldn't the formula for import tax be standard across the country? To make the story short, I decided to sell my baby and avoid paying a fortune in tax. I was sore about it but didn't have a choice.

So there you have it. My excuses for not being able to blog. I have a few more days to spend in Christchurch and I'm starting to feel a bit emotional about leaving. I guess that's the reason why I'm writing this entry - to remind myself what life is like right now.

May 1, 2012

A long overdue post: The Rugby Date

* Drafted many weeks ago

My first date with rugby last Saturday was awesome. Although initially I felt a bit out of place, it was actually pretty entertaining once I started understanding the rules of the game. Near the end, I was definitely into it. Thanks to the thousands of Cantabrians who made it to the game, the whole atmosphere was electric. They all wore the Crusaders jersey, with Crusaders flags in their hands -hubby included. And as expected, the Crusaders was victorious, thrashing the Cheetahs with a 24-21 win.

After watching the live game for the first time, I have come to these conclusions:

1. Dan Carter is incredibly HOT.

2. A rugby field is smaller than a soccer field. Duh.

3. Rugby does not appeal to everybody. My last point here may seem vague so let me elaborate. I think like tuhau, beer and foot massage, Rugby is an acquired taste. Some will love it but some will never like it. Yes, it's an awesome game that displays men's raw masculinity but the attraction ends there. It's exciting watching muscular men fight over a ball, but I'm not interested to learn more. You may beg to differ of course :)

These are some photos from the game. There aren't  many but they should give you a good glimpse into what I experienced.


The players warming up

Full stadium

A girl holding a sign that said "Kiss me Dan!"


 "I can't wait to get home"

March 24, 2012

Rugby tonight!

Guess what? I am going to my first super rugby game tonight!!! No, it's not All Blacks but some of the players also play for the All Blacks. Do I know how the game works? Nope. Does it matter? NOPE! Hehehe.  I really don't know what to expect but I reckon it's going to be loud and electric! 

So what team am I rooting for? Team Canterbury of course! Go go go Crusaders!! Destroy the Cheetahs! I know I'm a bit over the top with this whole-rugby thingy but after weeks of thesis-induced hypertension, some excitement is what I need.

By the way, tonight's game is highly anticipated not only because it's the first game of the season but it's also the first one being played in Christchurch after the big quake. The turnout is going to be massive 'cos the tickets are all sold out. I'll try taking some photos at the game to give you an idea of how it looks like okay? For now, let me just leave you with this awesome clip of the ABs performing the Haka. This war dance is one of the things I love most when it comes to watching a NZ rugby game. Don't you just love it?

March 20, 2012

Story of a wimpy kid

I think the biggest challenge for a thesis writer is to focus consistently on her writing no matter what happens around her. This is something I have yet to master. Like yesterday morning for example, I had this crazy urge to shut my colleague's mouth with a mop simply 'cos he was chatting with another colleague. I got so distracted by their conversation, I couldn't focus on anything else.

Before I go on, let me spill the 411 about this guy. Let's call him L. L is new in his PhD journey and is currently in the process of writing his proposal. Last month, he went through a hard time deciding what topic to do as he was torn between his own choice and the one recommended by his supervisor. The problem was, he couldn't say NO to his supervisor. Since I was the only one around, he came to me to spill his guts out.

After 2 weeks of counselling, I turned into a wreck myself. The more L talked, the less focused I became and the more frustrated I felt with myself. In an attempt to end his and my misery, I decided  to be blunt. I told him "If you don't think you can handle this topic now, what makes you think you can handle it in the next 3 years? This isn't a short-term commitment." I told him that and a few other things along those lines. The advice was given in response to his many complaints: I have no background in X, I've never done a qualititative study, this topic is too difficult, bla bla bla bla bla. When I was done talking, he nodded and said "yeah, you're right". I was relieved. No more counselling session! Yay!

The next morning, he came to the office, looking all chirpy and bubbly. He said "Hey Alice, I've  told J what I want to do and she seems okay with it!" Good on him, I thought.

A few days later, I attended a friend's barbecue party where I met L's supervisor. When she saw me, she marched slowly toward me, patted my shoulder and started this conversation:

J: So I heard that you have led one of our PhD students astray.

As you might have guessed, I went all PUCAT. 

Me: No I didn't.

J: Well, a few days ago, L came to tell me that he didn't want to change his topic. When I asked him why, he said you told him not to.

Me: Me?? He said that??

J: He specifically said "Alice told me to choose a topic that I'm interested in".

Sot kan si L? I began to feel hot in the face 'cos our conversation got some of my colleagues' attention.

Me: It's not like that. He came to me for advise. I never told him to do anything. I mean, I was just trying to help...

J: That's not what L said (she smiled). He said "ALICE told me to choose my own topic".

Me: NO NO NO. I said "If you don't think you can handle this topic now, what makes you think you can handle it in the next three years?". That's all.

I was about to string another paragraph of explanation but J didn't let me finish.

J: Oh well, don't worry about it (still smiling). I think you're right...and I told L "Alice is right. You should follow your heart".

She said a few other things to make light of the situation but I never recovered from my shock. I was so pissed at L. I mean, taken out of context, it sounded as if I was a nosy-parker, meddling into his business. Why didn't he just tell her the truth?! Babun!

As I lay in bed that night, I imagined myself confronting him in the office. I wanted to tell him how unprofessional he had been and how serious the matter was. But that wasn't enough. I was so angry, I wanted to take him by the neck and choke-slam  him like Kane in WWE. You know what WWE is right? Okay. Just picture Kane vs. Mr Bean. Begitula my imagination.

The next morning, I went to the office, ready for action.  I waited and waited at my desk but he never showed up. Not the next day or the day after. In fact, he went MIA for one whole week. When he did show up, which was eons later, I have lost all the Kane-rage in me. I was like "Ahhh...Biarlah dia. Bikin kesian juga muka dia ni." 

So. That brings us to yesterday morning and the part where I wanted to shut him up with a mop. When I heard him talking to another colleague (loudly), asking for advice on proposal guidelines, I suddenly felt sick inside. There he goes again, playing that clueless-guy-in-distress act. He's confused because the topic is too difficult, bla bla bla. He's not sure how long the lit review should be, bla bla bla. He has so much to read bla bla bla. He's lost, bla bla bla. When I heard my new colleague comforting and guiding him like a good therapist, I was so tempted to say: He is TROUBLE! I almost spewed some word vomit but the voice in my head told me to shut up.

She's right.

I have bigger things to worry about: thesis, kids, wrinkles, eye bags, house chores, chipped nails, how to ship my stuff to KK etc etc. In the end, I decided to keep quiet, put on my imaginary ear muffs and ignore the wimp for the rest of the day. Let him be. If he continues misquoting people, sooner or later someone will give him the choke-slam he so deserves.

March 8, 2012

Crawling to the light at the end of the tunnel

source: google images
I am currently in the miserable stage of finishing my thesis. After coming back from KK last Saturday, I have lost all momentum in writing. I am aware of  what needs to be done but every part of my thesis seems too overwhelming right now. I know you're like, WAIT, you're going to talk about your thesis AGAIN?! That's it! I'm outta here. I completely understand your disgust. Believe me, I am sick of it myself but no matter how hard I try, I just can't stop thinking about it. Since I cannot see your digusted look, I am going to continue typing and give myself the much needed therapy.

Let's start the session. Now what would a shrink ask me if I were in one's office? I think the first question would be "What upsets you?" My answer: My f****** thesis!

Next question, "What's wrong with your thesis?"

My long-winded answer:

Everything. You see, my thesis consists of 6 chapters. So far, I have only written three and none of them has been edited by Yoda. He has promised to give me some feedbacks a while ago but until now he hasn't delivered. Ever since he was promoted as the Head of the Jedi High Council, he's been slow in giving feedbacks. Changed, he has.

Anyway, I have started writing Chapter 6, which is the BIG discussion chapter that weaves all the findings together, and it is totally draining me. For this chapter, Yoda tells me to write an overview of all the three studies I've done and  summarize the findings in one section. Easier said than done of course. Once I've written that part, I need to proceed with the research implication section, which is divided into two categories; practical/pedagogical and theoretical.

The practical bit is manageable. It's the theoretical part that cripples me. I find it hard to make a decision on which theory to focus on as I have 3 different studies with various findings. Yoda tells me to come up with a theoretical framework of some sort based on the findings I've gathered. He has obviously overestimated my capability! He said he has a vision of what this framework looks like but he hasn't showed it to me. In writing this chapter, Yoda has warned me not to make flimsy suggestions or come up with implications which are not backed up by strong findings. In other words, the theoretical implications I present must transparently reflect the outcomes of my three studies. Do you understand my dilemma?

We're role-playing now. Just nod like a shrink, will you? Thanks.

How about the rest of the chapters? Well, I am not that worried about Chapter 1 'cos I think I can write it up in a week (I'm puffing hot air).  It's Chapter 2 I'm worried about. Paraphrasing tons of literature is a daunting task and I hate having to remember the rules that go with it. My game plan is to consume an enormous amount of caffeine for a week and write the Lit Review as if my life depended on it. Pretty ambitious eh? If I can pull this off  and tidy up the rest of the chapters, I can potentially submit my thesis in April!! You know, the moment I finished typing that, I asked myself "What? You seriously think that's possible?". Not even the voice in my head is convinced. Sometimes I wish she'd shut up.

For the next few weeks, I know I am going to be a mess. When I get too caught up with work, there will be lots of episodes of disorientation and clumsiness. Like yesterday for example, Alden's teacher pointed out that I was wearing my cardigan inside out. I wasn't even bothered by it. I was like oh, my baju terbalik pula. Bagus bili jackpot ni ari!

Now back to the topic. My thesis. I know I must complete it, no matter what. There are some issues that I need to sort out like getting Yoda's feedback and doing more reading on the literature. That's not a problem. I think the thing that stops me from getting ahead is myself, particularly my lack of focus and consistency. If I can just snap out of this self-made rut, I should be fine. At the end of the day, it's not the mountain I need to conquer, it's myself.

I guess that wraps up our session. Thanks for being a great shrink.

March 5, 2012


Sadly, on the 20th of February my mom in law passed away. We flew back home on the 21st of February to attend her funeral and be with hubby's family members in Papar. Although we were all saddened by her loss, it was comforting to know that she did not suffer in her death. My sister-in-law, Lily, who was with her at the time of her passing said that she fainted while they were sitting in the lounge watching TV. She never regained consciousness  after that and was announced dead at the hospital.

I am glad that hubby managed to talk to her a day before she died. As usual, Mama asked hubby when we were coming home and when hubby told her "2 bulan lagi Ma", she said "Ohh..". Little did we know that Mama couldn't wait for our return.

Hubby is handling her passing remarkably well, even better than I could ever imagined. During the funeral, he held back his tears and even consoled other mourners who were too upset by her loss. I know that it is his own faith, knowing that Mama is in a better place, that gives him the strength to be strong. 

Mama was a lovely, talkative person who had a generous, kind heart and she always had the utmost faith in God. That is how she will be remembered and that is what I will tell Alden and Alva when they grow up. Rest in peace Mama. You will always be in our hearts.

February 15, 2012

Friday Fingers: Valentine's Nails

My Valentine's day was really crappy - it was filled with a series of vomitting, nausea and excessive gas-belching. Gross right? Oh well. At least I feel 5 pounds lighter now. 

I know it's a tad too late to post this entry but I'm going to do it anyway. Happy Belated Valentine's Day everyone!

Love today and everyday :)

February 6, 2012

What I did this summer - Part 2

The next day, after a quick breakfast, we checked out from the hotel and went to the town's mini market for some tidbits. We had a long journey ahead so it was wise to have enough food supply in the car. After taking photos in front of a cute sheep sculpture, it was time to hit the road.

We drove for over 3 hours to Cromwell, a town know as the  "Fruit Bowl" of the South. We didn't explore the town but we did take photos in front of this huge fruit sculpture.

After 15 minutes or so, we were back on the road. Along the way, we would stop for scenic view of waterfalls and interesting pictures of camping sites.

From Queenstown, we drove another 2 hours to Te Anau, the main rest stop on the way to Milford Sound. We stopped at the local gas station to stock up on petrol and get some ice cream for the kids. Since Te Anau doesn't have a lot of tourist attractions, we didn't do any sightseeing. We continued our journey to Milford Sound and managed the trip in 2 hours.

When we arrived at Milford Lodge, I let out a huge sigh of relief. I spent such a long time sitting in the car, I started having butt cramps! The moment we got out of the car, we were instantly attacked by a swarm of sand flies. They are the most annoying creatures! I quickly ran to the reception to check in and get the key to our cabin.

The kids and I spent the rest of the evening resting in the cabin while hubby and my colleague, Abdullah went fishing at a nearby river. Oh. I didn't mention Abdullah before this because he started his trip a few days earlier. We only met each other at the Lodge and promised to go on a boat cruise together.

Catch of the day

The next morning we woke up at 8.00 am and quickly got ready for our 9.30 am boat cruise. We got to the visitor terminal just in the nick of time. After getting our passes, we boarded  the Lady of the Sounds, where we had our  complimentary breakfast of toasts, cereals and fruits.

After breakfast, all of us went up to the top deck to get a better view of the Sound. Luckily for us the weather was excellent. With 7m of rain per year, this is a very rare occurrence. Despite the clear, sunny weather, my photos didn't turn out as beautiful as Carol's. Hubby and I were too busy keeping an  eye on the kids, we hardly had time to focus on photos. Regardless, I really, really enjoyed the view especially the beautiful waterfall, the mountains, the glacier and the seals. Everything looked amazing! By the way, according to Carol, Milford Sound was named the most visited place in the world a few years back.


Alva looking rather grumpy

Celebrating our anniversary on the cruise

1 hour and 45 minutes later, after cruising all around the Sound, our boat returned to the visitor terminal. We headed back to Milford Lodge to have a quick lunch before starting our long  journey  to Wanaka. Oh! Before leaving Milford Sound, hubby and I managed to take some cool photos in front of a glacier cave next to the entrance of Homer tunnel. We didn't go inside the cave cos Alva and Alden were waiting in the car.

Glacier cave in front of Homer Tunnel

It was 1 and a half hours back to Te Anau where we stopped for a toilet break, and then a further 2 and a half  hours to Queenstown. In Queenstown, we did some sightseeing around town and bought a few souvenirs at a local gift shop. Since it was getting late, we decided to have dinner with Abdullah before heading to Wanaka.

After a dinner of fish and chips, we hit the road again for another 55km journey to Wanaka. When we finally arrived, we checked into Wanaka Hotel, located just 500m from the town centre. We hit the sack right after checking in as we were all exhausted. The next day, I asked hubby to take us to Puzzling World. Since it was the last day of our trip, I thought we ought to do something fun for the kids. We decided to be adventurous and bought tickets for the illusion rooms and the Great Maze. The illusion rooms have many interesting hologram pictures and a number of little rooms at bizzarre angles. Alden and Alva had fun exploring each room and almost drove me nuts with their antics. After the boggling room tour and walking through the maze, all of us were exhausted.

By late afternoon, we had enough of  Puzzling World and all too soon, it was time to get home. It was a long 7-hour drive from Wanaka to Christchurch, but we couldn't complain 'cos there were lots of breathtaking sceneries along the way. The most memorable one was this beautiful rainbow we saw along Mackenzie country.

As the cloud set in for the night, we finally reached home - exhausted but thoroughly satisfied. We've had many wonderful trips before but our recent trip to Milford Sound was definitely my favourite. It was an experience I can never forget :)