Gateway to Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City

2016-03-28 09.11.23
Featuring one of my favourite lecturers- Uncle Chua Low Boon. A caring, dedicated lecturer. 

Hello there!

I am back after 5 months! Sincere apologies for that as I was having my finals early this year, with many ongoing activities such as Toastmasters contests and chapter meetings. As 2016 will be my penultimate year in Singapore Polytechnic, my schedule is pretty hectic and so; bear with me if I have not been posting lately!

Oh by the way, did I tell you that I was on a working trip to Vietnam? Yup, you read that correctly. “Working trip”. I was appointed as a programme coordinator (“PC”) to Vietnam from 27th March to 9th April for the Overseas Social Innovation Programme, under the collaboration of Chi Minh City Technical College (“HOTEC”) and Singapore Polytechnic International (“SPI”). At there, I am tasked to ensure the smooth execution of the programme, where I took charge of the planning of the Cultural Immersion Day, accommodation, meals and other miscellaneous items.

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Typical Breakfast Day at Phoa Hua Cafe
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Participants with their buddies in HOTEC

 

Halfway through the programme (around Day 5 out of 14) , we had the opportunity to stay in one of the homestays to observe the making of incense for 4 days 3 nights. Deep down in the village, I had the opportunity to watch the making of the incense sticks which require a lot of hard labour. The process of making was arduous – ranging from the making of sticks to dyeing, and packaging in which some of the processes would be repeated twice.

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Participants observing the process
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Making of incense stick from scratch

 

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Packaging of the incense sticks

 

 

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Lunch @ Homestay

 

For this particular trip, I didn’t take many photos as I am engrossed in coordinating the trip. Nonetheless, here are one picturesque sight to behold in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. (P.S Saigon is another name for Ho Chi Minh City. )

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Saigon Central Post Office.  Excellent place to grab for souvenirs

Not forgetting, some exquisite local delicacies, worthy the effort to travel.

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Treating myself to Che Ba Mau – three colour desserts on the hot sunny day

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It was a fun, fulfilling, far-reaching experience as I learnt how to run a programme well. Given the opportunity to be a PC again, I wouldn’t hesitate to do so.

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Countdown to 2016!

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At the beginning of the year, I wished so hard for time to pass faster. However, as time passed by, I realised that’s not what I really wanted.

It’s funny isn’t it, that we yearned so much, achieved it and only to regret wanting it. Life choices could be quite complicated at times because the consequences that come with it are unforeseeable.

For the past one year, what have I done? Studying, daydreaming, and travelling, I reckoned. During my 3rd semester, I realised that I didn’t place full concentration in my academics. Each time I revised my notes, it felt as if I learned and understood everything, ready to enter the examination hall. But when it comes to an exam, some questions became oblivious to me.

Perhaps, it was simply because I didn’t understand the concept fully. Or maybe it was because I was too focused on the future, leaving distractions to pull me away into the dreamland. Leaving me distraught at times as I failed to be present in the current moment.

“Always focus on the front windshield and not the review mirror.”
Colin Powell

There were also times wherein I was tangled between convoluted human relationships. Confused and undecided because humans are complex creatures with unpredictable behaviours.

But I am not going to bring all these problems with me to the next year. Coming 2016 would mean much more than the years before this. It would be a new year, a new beginning and a new me. The new me who will be transformed for betterment. Where Cheryl will be much resilient, hardworking, and on top of it all grateful for everything she has. She will learn to appreciate the tiny little things and the gift of the present that adds colour to her life.

And she shall not forget to live her life to the fullest.

 

 

 

Sakura Science Program- Kanazawa, Japan

After 2 days of continuous flying, I’m finally back in Malaysia! For the past 2 weeks, I’ve visited Japan once again as a participant of the Japan-Asia Youth Exchange Program in Science (SAKURA Exchange Program in Science). The Sakura Science Program, to me, is more like an exchange program, where students exchange ideas and experience about their cultures back in the homeland. It also serves a platform to increase the interest of youths toward Science and Technology development which will be of utmost importance in the future. In this program itself, we were tasked to design and build a milk candy cutter prototype with the help of the staff from Kanazawa Institute of Technology Yumekobo staff.

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The Sakura Science Program was held in Kanazawa, Japan for 10 days                                                                                           

For the first few days, we had a campus tour and simple Japanese Language classes. When we toured around, I realised that the architectural building design of the school placed much emphasis on originality. Not much paint was used, in fact, you could see the drills and patchy cement along the stretches of wall. It feels rustic to me, as the authenticity of the building is preserved.

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Panoramic view of Kanazawa Institute of Technology. Lush greenery paints the surrounding, providing us a relaxing atmosphere.
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Hallway of KIT’s library. Looks like Hogwarts uh?

Aside from the campus, we had also visited Yumekobo, one of their facilities where most research and buildings are done.

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One of the students’ work. They built an eco-friendly racing car from scratch and..that’s pretty cool, dont’t you think so?
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3-D printing machine for metal products.
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Made using the 3D printing machine. Jaw dropping as such meticulously crafted product can be done flawlessly                        

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Diving in deeper to our prototype, here is a snapshot of the before and after product of our prototype. The whole body is made of metal and it is designed to handle sticky and stretchy milk candy mixture. The are supposed to be three blades, however, we decided to make one blade instead for the first trial. The finished prototype was brought back to Indonesia for one of the milk candy home industries’ owner to try it out.

Before
Before
After
After

During the weekends, we made a trip to the Kanazawa City to experience handicraft making. We had a lacquerware session wherein we learned to paint lacquer ware using designated brushes and powder for furnishing. It was an interesting experience for me, as it requires certain techniques as well as patience to complete the painting.

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Lacquer-ware painting in process
The finished product :)
The finished product 🙂

Not forgetting, sightseeing around Kanazawa City!

Ishiura Shrine- built in the Tensho Era as a local shrine for seven villages in the Ishiura district.
Ishiura Shrine- built in the Tensho Era as a local shrine for seven villages in the Ishiura district.
Similar to Meiji Jingu (shrine) , one needs to rinse your hands and mouth by using the water from the stone before paying respects.
Similar to Meiji Jingu (shrine), one needs to rinse your hands and mouth by using the water from the stone before paying respects.

We’ve also made a visit to Kenrokuen Garden 兼六園 , one of Kanazawa City’s highlights. Based on Japan-guide.com, the Kenrokuen Garden used to be the outer garden of Kanazawa Castle and were built over nearly two centuries.

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Beautiful isn't it?
At times, I wonder how often did we stop by and enjoy the beauty of mother’s nature?
Fyi, one of Japan's
FYI, Kenrokuen Garden is one of Japan’s “three most beautiful landscape gardens” alongside Mito’s Kairakuen and Okayama’s Korakuen.
Kanazawa Castle 金沢城
Kanazawa Castle 金沢城
Group picture with my fellow Japanese buddies. Missing their friendly and approachable character!
Group picture with my fellow Japanese buddies. Missing their friendly and approachable character!

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Days had passed and I really miss those days when I was in Kanazawa, Japan. Other than experiencing Japan’s culture, I learned a lot about handling conflicts. As a leader of the group, facing conflicts are common and often inevitable.  The fact that humans are different made it complicated since there will always be people who will oppose you at times. It feels difficult, especially when your teammates are not on the same page. It pretty much saddens me. Nonetheless, it’s a norm in life, isn’t it? When we step out to the society, things will get more intense and in fact intricately folded. Hence, instead of crying over a dispute, I took this opportunity to exercise my emotional quotient and rationale. When triggered, stay calm and take a step back. Analyze the situation and consider every alternative. And with that, you will never go wrong.  🙂

Life is not about a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced. -Soren Kierkegaard
Life is not about a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.
-Soren Kierkegaard

Upon completing our program in Kanazawa, we flew to Tokyo, Japan’s bustling capital for a 2 days 1-night trip. We toured around Tokyo City, and boy I have to say, it’s amazing to be in one the most beautiful cities in the world! With a population of 13.35 million, its’s cleanliness of the city are of top-notch and their transportation system (especially their train systems) are flawless and magnificent. It’s always on the dot, and never late! The city eventually blends both ultra-modern and the historical well.

明治神宮, Meiji Jingū. You will be fascinated with its towering trees being preserved despite located in the heart of Tokyo.
明治神宮, Meiji Jingū. You will be fascinated with its towering trees being preserved despite located in the heart of Tokyo.

20150916_162041We’ve also made a visit to Asakusa , 浅草, where its’ main attraction is Sensoji, a very popular Buddhist temple.

Nakamise, the shopping street that one will pass by before reaching Sensoji
Nakamise, the shopping street that one will pass by before reaching Sensoji
Welcome to Sensoji!
Welcome to Sensoji!

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Tokyo's iconic tower - Tokyo Skytree
Tokyo’s iconic tower – Tokyo Skytree
Managed to catch up with Takuto, my buddy from CJS!
Managed to catch up with Takuto, my buddy from CJS!

As part of the Tokyo’s cultural experience, we also made a visit to the National Science Museum. Some said it is tad boring, but for me I felt that the visit was rather interesting and insightful as I learned more about the technological developments of Japan. From there, I learned that Japan’s main transportation system used before the introduction of automobiles are the trains or railways. It was when Japan decided to lead in science and technology, they then emphasised more on automobiles industry,  becoming one of the world’s most reliable automaker today.

A visit to the National Science and Nature Museum Tokyo. To get there, hop off at the nearest train station -Ueno.
A visit to the National Science and Nature Museum Tokyo. (Nearest train station -Ueno) Highly recommended for you if you want to learn more about Japan’s technology developments 🙂
Me, Echy, Imamah and Agung
Me, and my buddies from Indonesia –Echy, Imamah and Agung

All in all, this had been one of the most insightful trips I ever had. At here, I would like to take this opportunity to thank my LEX lecturer, Ms Huei and the Japan’s Science and Technology for giving me an opportunity to join this Sakura Science Program. Not forgetting, KIT’s ,KTC’s lecturer and everyone who had made this happen. Thank you everyone!

All in all, thank you tomodachi! Love you guys so much! Please visit Singapore soon!
Thank you tomodachi! Love you guys so much! Please visit Singapore soon!

40 brilliant idioms that simply can’t be translated literally

TED Blog

Tomato_Eyes What does it mean to “have tomatoes on your eyes?” Find out below…

By Helene Batt and Kate Torgovnick May

It’s a piece of cake. You can’t put lipstick on a pig. Why add fuel to the fire? Idioms are those phrases that mean more than the sum of their words. As our Open Translation Project volunteers translate TED Talks into 105 languages, they’re often challenged to translate English idioms into their language. Which made us wonder: what are their favorite idioms in their own tongue?

Below, we asked translators to share their favorite idioms and how they would translate literally. The results are laugh-out-loud funny.

From German translator Johanna Pichler:

The idiom: Tomaten auf den Augen haben.
Literal translation: “You have tomatoes on your eyes.”
What it means: “You are not seeing what everyone else can see. It refers to real objects, though — not abstract meanings.”

View original post 1,656 more words

Baking Season🏠

Hello everyone! It’s been almost a month since I last update my blog post 😂. Am really sorry about that as Year 2 has been harder than ever. Modules are more technical and the learning curve is indeed steeper.  With a short term to cope with 5 different modules, I felt as if I am repeating the history during my secondary school days. Study-eat-sleep-study. Now that I’m back to my home country for term break , I felt more relax, and laid back. I have more free time to spend on my favourite leisure activities, which is none other than – baking! Over the past few days I have been trying out new recipes. I tried to make Pumpkin Hee Ban, a traditional Hakka steamed kuih – a springy, chewy cake with a mild yeast flavour.

南瓜喜板- Pumpkin Hee Ban
南瓜喜板- Pumpkin Hee Ban

Then, the next day I bake my mom’s all time pineapple tarts and 马来糕, Ma Lai Koh- a traditional Cantonese Steamed Cake. I think it tasted really good, given that it is my first attempt, especially  the Ma Lai Koh. It is my favourite cake since young and I remember asking my dad to buy it for me every time I saw the cake store. Now that I can do it myself, I can eat it anytime!

Pineapple Tarts 🍍
Pineapple Tarts 🍍
Homemade Ma Lai Koh
Homemade Ma Lai Koh

As for today….I made mochi with red bean filling as well 🙂 It is relatively easy compared to other snacks, in which only a few ingredients and a microwave needed!

Mochi
Mochi-making in progress

Can’t wait to explore more interesting recipes during my holidays!

Cool Japan Seminar- Hachinohe, Japan

Sometimes it’s the journey alone that teaches you a lot about your destination.

– Drake

Picture taken at Hirosaki Castle.
Picture taken at Hirosaki Castle.

Having the opportunity to attend the Cool Japan Seminar (CJS) 2015, held in Hachinohe from 25th of April to 2nd of May, was indeed an eye opener. The CJS which aimed to strengthen the interpersonal skills of leaders tomorrow had allowed us to further broaden our horizons in discussing global issues. This year’s theme – Revitalization, revolved around the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake in Hachinohe area. Through various debates and proposals, it is hoped that the participants of CJS will be able to arrive at a comprehensive and holistic solution to address the challenges faced.

The Journey

Basically, we were divided into few fields namely the- tourism, fishery, agriculture, industry, and energy. I was selected to be in the fishery industry, wherein we visited Hachinohe Kanzume. (Kanzume means canned food in Japanese). Hachinohe Kanzume not only sells canned food, but they do offer myriads of products, such as the chilled and frozen food. In recent years, they have been increasing their production steadily and ventured into agricultural and livestock products. Nonetheless, due to the Great East Japan Earthquake, the company had suffered losses of US$6.9 million dollars, as one of the subsidiary companies were swept away by the tsunami.

To have a clearer picture on the aftermath of Great East Japan Earthquake, we were given the opportunity to visit some disaster-stricken areas.

Tsunami strikes along the coast of Japan, and Hachinohe is one of them. It is believed that Tsunami rose as high as 5-6 metres and caused major damages in the Tohoku District.
Tsunami strikes along the coast of Japan, and Hachinohe is one of them. It is believed that Tsunami rose as high as 5-6 metres and caused major damages in the Tohoku District.
During the tsunami, most of the victims of tsunami climbed up to seek shelter in the shrine. As the shrine is located at the peak of Noda Village, victims were able to shield themselves.
During the tsunami, most of the victims of tsunami climbed up to seek shelter in the shrine. As the shrine is located at the peak of Noda Village, victims were able to shield themselves.
Peak of Noda Village
Peak of Noda Village

Upon completion of the learning trip to Noda Village, I reflected upon our country. Singapore, being one of the world developed countries is disaster-free and located strategically on the major sea route between India and China. It is indeed a blessing to live in such a beautiful city free from natural disasters. As much as Japan being a first-world country, they had to face many ongoing challenges in the event of natural disasters.

In fact, these disasters had impacted many lives, causing casualties and traumas. Economy of Japan turned stagnant due to the rising radiation levels following the meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear reactor. Till date, they are people who felt unrest for their days are numbered. It disheartened me to see many innocent lives taken away in just a blink of an eye.  Especially when your loved ones are no longer with you.

⑦-1会社(東工場裏) ⑧-1工場周辺(道路)

In order to have a better understanding of the challenges faced by the company, we were also given the opportunity to visit the company. One of their visions is to expand globally, by diversifying their products. In future, they hope to export to more countries by increasing their scale of production. On top of that, one of the key problems that they had highlighted was that consumers are worried about the radiation effects in their products. As such, many of the customers switch to other products in replacement of seafood. Following that, they faced tougher competitions from other local companies in Japan since they have not been in production for a long period of time during the reconstruction of the building.

In view of these circumstances, we suggested that Hachinohe Kanzume should opt for a radiation-free badge. This badge should be recognised by the local authority such as the Tokyo Metropolitan of Public Health to gain the public’s confidence that the seafood are safe to consume. In addition, we had proposed that Hachinohe Kanzume should also venture into the Halal Market. With the growing Muslim population worldwide, the ability to capture a significant market share in the Muslim’s market will help boost the company’s revenue. This implies that Hachinohe Kanzume will then need to proceed to apply Halal certification at the Masjid in Japan. Perceptions need to be changed that making of Halal food is impossible due to the complicated process.

The Presentation

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Hard at work!
Team Fishery hard at work!

Two days before departure, we had a final presentation in National Institute of Technology (NIT), Hachinohe College about our proposals. Prior to that, we had interim report whereby we presented internally among the participants.

Singapore participants from the 5 polytechnics
Singapore participants from the 5 polytechnics
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Presentation in progress~
Eventually we won first in the presentation competition!
And……eventually we won first in the presentation competition!
Good Job Team CJS!
Good Job Team CJS!

Farewell Party

For the farewell party, everyone was expected to wear traditional clothes for example Kimono by the Japanese girls. As for me, I wore Nyonya Kebaya.

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Judo Performance by Jimba

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Nininboari二人羽織り- this is one the funniest game I ever seen in my life. Essentially, there is two persons wearing the coat, and the person behind would be feeding the person in front without looking. At times, it could be very sloppy and messy!
Nininboari二人羽織り- this is one the funniest game I ever seen in my life. Essentially, there is two persons wearing the coat, and the person behind would be feeding the person in front without looking. At times, it could be very sloppy and messy!
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With Mook 🙂

 

Culture

Like every other country, Japan is non-exceptional to have their very own identity. In Japan, hygiene is highly emphasized. Every morning, participants of CJS are responsible for the cleanliness of the dormitory. Slippers are only allowed to be worn within the dormitory vicinity.

Despite having to wake up early, I actually enjoyed room cleaning as I had the chance to interact with my other roommates and forge stronger bonds.
Despite having to wake up early, I actually enjoyed room cleaning as I had the chance to interact with my other roommates and forge stronger bonds.
Dormitory. Note that we had to fold our blankets and bed sheets accordingly.
Dormitory. Note that we had to fold our blankets and bed sheets accordingly- no cheating!

Excursion

Being the participant of CJS, we managed to visit a few picturesque places before our departure! As Japan being a four-season country, one could experience snow during winter and the blend of chilly wind alongside the streaks of sunshine. It was a wonderful experience to indulge in the wonders of Japan. In contrast to Singapore, we only get to enjoy the summer season and limited nature sceneries for we are land constrained.

 

At Aomori Perfecture -Asaichi
At Aomori Perfecture -Asaichi
The making of Taiyaki-
The making of Taiyaki
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Takoyaki- たこ焼き
Mount Hokkada (八甲田山, Hakkōdasan
Mount Hokkada (八甲田山, Hakkōdasan)

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With Beat
With Beat
watch out!
watch out!
入瀬渓流 ,(Oirase Keiryū) is a picturesque mountain stream in Aomori Prefecture that is one of Japan's most famous and popular autumn colors destinations.
入瀬渓流,(Oirase Keiryū) is a picturesque mountain stream in Aomori Prefecture that is one of Japan’s most famous and popular autumn colors destinations.

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Greetings from Hirosaki Castle!

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Conclusion

In a nutshell, I’ve learned a lot from this seminar. Understanding the aftermath of Great East Japan Earthquake, a sense of gratefulness enveloped me as I felt blessed to live in a natural-disaster free from country (unlike Japan who is located in the ring of fire). Coming from different backgrounds, we managed to get along well and came up with constructive solutions to solve the problems faced by the local companies in Hachinohe. I’ve also been given the chance to exercise my leadership skills whereby I try to bring people from all walks of life together during the seminar. At the end of the day, it is not about the destination, but the journey you embarked on.