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The Girl With Pink Hair

Not all that glitters is gold, not all who wander are lost

Month

August 2011

Sipadan, June 2011

Photos from my dive trip in Sipadan, June 2011, Seaventures. Pretty good coming from a point and shoot camera, photos below taken on day 1 to 3 (I think) where we had relatively bad visibility.

Ghost pipefish. Saw quite a few different species of ghost pipefishes this time round.

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Frogfishes.

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I think this was the frogfish that Pam was trying to see before she realized that she was completely out of air then frantically grabbed the guide’s octopus. And I was right behind her laughing, cause the guide was there to help. No idea how her air was depleted so quickly as we were only at like 18m?

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Uhh..

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Huge and ugly fish which was bigger than me!

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My fav starfish, blurry but still nice.

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Clown triggerfish.

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Some ugly fish and my fav starfish at the back. Interesting how the patterns on the fish are the same as the coral it was right beside.

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Tam’s fav, more than sharks cause it easier to take inanimate objects.

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One of the many white tip sharks we saw laying on the sand bed.

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Entrance of the turtle cave, taken from inside the cave. We were only allowed to venture a couple of metres into the cave.

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My super cool fins and standard pose throughout cause it was so cold!

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Weird pose 1.

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Like how this photo turned out.

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Pam at barracuda point.

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Day XX, The Gibbon Experience

Up bright and early the next morning. The spoilt kids brushed their teeth using mineral water while I decided to be garang and use the tiny stream of yellowish water coming from the tap. Not much of a difference since the utensils we used were washed using the same water. Forgot to mention the toilets there, since we arrived there wasn’t a single time we could use the toilets without any bees/wasps buzzing around us. Then again, when you gotta go, you gotta go. Owner made us breakfast, an omelette each, using at least 5 eggs each. Wth.

Vandalized legs.

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Took what we needed and off we went on the back of a lorry, across the river and on our way to the base camp of the Gibbon Experience.

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Trekked for what seemed like forever, supposedly 2 hours as stated on the internet but it took us longer, I think. Puked from the high altitude and decided to swear off eggs for awhile. Like 2 days.

Went past the honeymoon suite while trekking. Not sure why its called the honeymoon suite but we made some noise and said hi from below.

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Now here’s the cool part, not the gibbons. Speaking of which, we saw none during our 3 days 2 night stay, not that any of us were actually looking our for them actually. Okay, the cool part, zip lining! It was so tiring trekking that I didn’t bother with any photos so lets make do.

We were all given a harness with the zip lining device attached. The device works pretty much like a carabiner with the rolling thing to lock it except that the top of the carabiner came with rollers which we would place on the cables. And on top of the rollers there was a part of a bicycle tire which acted like a brake. Gloves required as the rubber would heat up from the friction and also to prevent using your flesh as the brake. It’s really cool how simple the device is.

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And so we trekked, zip lined, trekked some more, zip lined more till we finally reached our treehouse. Treehouse 6 if I’m not wrong. Now, the next cool part, for most of the zip lines we usually wouldn’t be able to reach the platform due to our lack of weight and had to pull ourselves towards the platform, so for our final zip line to our treehouse, the guide warned us to brake when this guy from the treehouse told us too, but being worn out from pulling ourselves, we decided not to heed that guy’s advice and all of us ended up banging into the trunk of the tree. Imagine the scene from any cartoon, guy(or tom from tom and jerry) bangs against tree, face flattens and he slides down the tree. Okay we didn’t slide down the tree but that scene kept replying in my mind. And I guess we weren’t the first to not listen to instructions so they actually lined the trunk with cushions, helped a little to lessen the impact.

View from the treehouse. Amazing. Its like they choose the tallest and strongest tree, then simply built a treehouse on it.20110829-125839.jpg

The shower area. Comes with a proper shower.

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Pee area. No flush, everything went straight down. For a treehouse, the bathroom was pretty amazing.

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Where we dumped our harnesses and bags. Didn’t take photos of how we slept, basically they provided us with a mattress each, and this huge piece of cloth to build kinda like a tent over the mattress to keep insects out.

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Had lunch with awesome chocolate coffee and off we went on our own to zip line. After all, the whole point of the stay, for us, was to zip line.

Trekking.

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Zip lining. Fashion statement of the year, tee with sleeping pants, knee high black socks with red hearts and pink crocs. Got leeches what. Jumped off the platform and off we went.

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Returned to the treehouse as the sun started to set, dinner brought by the guides and tree bark wine around a mosquito coil. And my first time trying a certain grass. =P

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Woke up the next morning to this. *Sings see a jungle when its wet with rain. Super pretty but wasn’t good news. The entire jungle was muddy and infested with disgusting leeches. Had to stop every few steps we took to flick the leeches off. By the way, insect repellant works better than fire. Just spray insect repellant at the disgusting things and they’ll fall off.

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Had to trek to another treehouse which we were gonna stay for the second night, wasn’t as good as the first but zip lining was equally good.

Zip lining from our 2nd treehouse. Treehouse 3?

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Had to remember which path to take while zip lining on our own.

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The rest of the day was spent trekking (to a waterfall we didn’t swim in for fear of leeches) and zip lining as much as we  could, killing leeches and shouting random stuff as we zip lined. Hurhur. To end off, here Long’s foot bloodied from the leeches.20110829-010031.jpg

I actually felt sad when we were leaving, counting down the number of zip lines we had left. Though tiring, it was truly magical. It had always been a childhood dream to stay in a treehouse, used to put chairs together and pretend that it was a treehouse with my nephews. Never actually thought that I would one day, get to stay in a treehouse in the jungle. An actual treehouse in an actual jungle. Yes it was dirty and there were insects all around which was expected since we’re in their territory, but somehow it just doesn’t seem that bad when I was there. Got used to showering and peeing with bees/wasps buzzing around me. When a huge beetle fell on my head one night, I actually just tapped Tam and asked her to flick it off for me. Much to her amazement and mine actually, I didn’t scream like how I thought I would.

To me, this stay wins any luxurious hotel stay hands down. :)

A thousand yellow daisies

:)

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Day XX, Laos, Ban Don Chai – FAV

Where we took a leap of faith having found not a single photo of the place on the Internet. Turned out to be an awesome experience. One that could not have been planned.

Local bus ride to Ban Don Chai, the kind where they dump your bags at the top of the mini bus. We arrived early but still didn’t manage to get seats for all.

The plastic seat in the centre which you can read all about on the internet.

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Long and Tam amazed at how I slept on with my head hanging out. Somehow I sleep really well on bus rides :P

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Was seated next to this local lady who kept tapping my arm then smiling at me. After like 5 times, she finally said hi and to my amazement she spoke English. Perhaps she was trying to figure out if I speak English. Chatted a bit, she’s an English teacher, teaching at Luang Namtha and was going somewhere to visit her sister. Didn’t chat much cause I suck at small talk =X

Checked into the only house in the “village” with it’s own power generator. Which they used for lights for about an our, 7 – 8pm for dinner and we’re back to being in darkness.

Our really simple room. Best sleep ever. Maybe cause it was like completely dark, unlike in Singapore where you hardly get to sleep in complete darkness.

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Where we watched the thunderstorm in complete darkness later on in the night. It was really the best experience ever. Almost exactly like the thunderstorm stage in PVZ, where the lightning struck every few seconds, lighting up the entire area. Ultimate coolness. Sat there in the dark, gave up on candles as the wind was too strong, counting fireflies and singing super old KTV songs, national day songs, nursery rhymes and whatever songs that came to mind. Reminded me of Ophir when the 6 of us squeezed in a tiny tent singing random songs at night. =D

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The view.

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Explored the place a bit. Chased some ducks.

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Ducks crossing the road. Which is what they do all day. Perhaps suicidal? One succeeded but there was no duck meat at dinner.

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Tic tac toe using my charcoal pills

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Being weighed like a piece of meat with RA vcds displayed behind me.20110826-093323.jpg

Village across the road which disappeared completely into the dark.

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Paddy fields and the long and winding road.

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Kids returning home from school.

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Was hanging around the only shop that was open, which also belonged the owner of the “guesthouse” when the female owner invited us to a game of Petang using a limited number of English words.

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Game ended as the sun started to set and we joined a couple of the locals who went to fish for dinner.

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Tam giving fishing a shot.

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Made quacking noises together with the kids as we tried to approach the ducks. Apparently it works.

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Sunset through my sunnies.

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Pro-ness. Guy crossing the river on a bike based on his memory of  a rocky path slightly below the water.20110826-093740.jpg

Superhero poses by the sunset.

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The coolest thing about the meals there is that we didn’t get a choice of food, instead, we would inform them that we would like dinner and ate whatever that was served.

While it doesn’t sound that exciting, it was truly a simple but awesome experience for us, being able to interact with the locals, observe their culture and watch a thunderstorm in the mountains. At this point, we were getting very used to sleeping when the sky turns dark, in complete darkness hugging a torch and waking up when the sun is up.

Really glad that we made the choice to stop over at Ban Don Chai on our way to the Gibbon Experience instead of the safer choice at Houay Xai, which we did stop by for about an hour, to purchase boat tickets to Chiang Rai. More on that next.

Just read a post by this couple who went for the Gibbon Experience in 2006, where apparently the treehouses did not have any bathroom facilities. I must say I’m quite glad I went this year. =P

Longest..

Was reading up on the history of Maldives when I came across a super long name, Al Sultan-ul Ghazi Mohammed Thakurufaanu Al Auzam Siree Savahitha Maharadhun. the first Sultan of the third dynasty of the Kingdom of the Maldives.

Googled a bit, here’s what I found.

The longest person’s name to date is Adolph Blaine Charles David Earl Frederick Jack Gerald Hubert Irvin John Kenneth Lloyd Martin Nero Oliver Paul Quincy Randolph Sherman Thomas Uncas Victor William Xerxes Yancy Zeus Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenbergerdorft Senior

WTH. Maybe his parents wanted many kids. Zeus is cool though. There were quite a few names that came up in the search though. Would love to see the name on an ID.

The longest one-word name is of a young Hawaiian boy named Kananinoheaokuuhomeopuukaimanaalohilo. Which means “The Beautiful Aroma of My Home at Sparkling Diamond Hill is Carried to the Eyes of Heaven”.

I’m not even gonna try and prounounce it.

The longest place name is the actual name of the city Bangkok, in Thailand:

Krungthepmahanakonbowornratanako-
sinmahintarayudyayamahadilopono-
paratanarajthaniburiromudomrajni-
wesmahasatarnamornpimarnavatarsa-
titsakattiyavisanukamphrasit

This translates to “The land of angels, the great city of immortality, of divine gems, the great angelic land unconquerable land of nine noble gems, the royal city, a pleasant capital place of the Royal Palace, eternal land of angels and reincarnated spirits predestined and created by the highest Devas.”

Whoa. How did they shorten it to Bangkok? Probably renamed though.

Singapore should really mean sardines in a can.

Random :P

Choices

Can’t say that I wasn’t given a chance. Although there were valid reasons in turning it down, it was my choice. Its always easier when you accept that you’re not a victim of fate/destiny. Everything happens for a reason. Reasons which reveals itself when you least expect it.

Today’s event was sorta a success, the one who called for it was please and yet I felt no satisfaction. Now what?

Sightseeing in Luang Prabang and our 11 hour bus ride to Luang Namtha

Spent the entire day sight seeing, as recommended on the internet, river cruise down Mekong river, Pak Ou cave and Kuangsi waterfall. One of our most boring days in Laos. The best experiences we had came from the unknown rather than these commercialized places.

Luang Prabang library.

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Super boring boat ride to Pak Ou Caves. Totally felt cheated upon reaching the caves if you can call it a cave.

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A few of the many Buddha sculptures in the cave. Learnt that the gestures of the Buddha represented different “instructions”. With the main three being..

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Lunch in town before our trip to Kuang Si Waterfalls.

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Stopped by a community village which was totally commercialized as well. Kids asked for “photo money” after this photo was taken.

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Happily rolling on the grass =)

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Talking to her plants to quicken their growth =P

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I don’t exactly get why Luang Prabang is one of the must go places in Laos. It’s highlight, monks in orange robes? Participating in the giving of alms? Read from the Internet that the temple wanted to abolish the practice of receiving alms due to an increase in food poisoning but was stopped by the government as this is one of the main tourist attractions.

11 hour bus ride to Luang Namtha was an eye opener and another experience altogether. Hurhur.

Makeshift dustbin using Tam’s toes.

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Her classic pose. Hurhur.

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Stopped to pee, in the middle of nowhere, somewhere among the bushes. Can’t recall when was the last time I did that :X

Along the way, the driver picked up some locals, charging them only 10 000 kips. We couldn’t really figure out the system, like how did the driver know when or where to stop and did those people just wait outside their houses and just flag down any van they saw?

Anyway, bus picked up local guy, a while later, picked up local girl, both didn’t even smile at each other. Girl sat on the pull down chair and fell asleep in an uncomfortable position. After a while, she approached guy to sit beside him, he agreed and placed his hand on her thigh. After a while, on her shoulder and the girl was snuggling against him. At this point all of us were like watching them. After which I fell asleep and missed out seeing the guy placing his hand on her boobs. Wth. Anyway we were pretty surprised as we always had the impression that the Lao people were pretty conservative. Then again, along the way we did see a lot of naked kids and boobs of the mothers breastfeeding by the road. They just sat facing the roads openly breastfeeding, seeing the vehicles go by.

Finally found bengbeng during our lunch stop and got a box for our treehouse stay :D Lunch with the locals where it took us 3 tries to get our noodles without vegetables.

There were lesser foreigners as we travelled along, less commercialized places and more to observe.

And 11 hours later, Luang Namtha, Zuela guesthouse.

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Knowledge

Well said.

Indecisiveness

I’m amazed at the ability of the people around me who have tolerated my indecisiveness for so long and yet still listen and support my ever changing decisions. At this moment I feel really thankful for all your patience. Unfortunately, I lack the same patience that you guys have shown to me. Your indecisiveness is really getting on my nerves. Still learning to understand that I don’t understand. I truly do not understand thinking/actions of some but I will learn to understand that different people have different priorities in life.

And so I’m gonna try to be more decisive, grow some balls to stick to the decisions I’ve made and to show the same patience I’ve received to others. Trying is a start :P

The trip that I would really like to write about is my YEP trip four years ago. Though much has pass and I can’t recall much, it brought about one of the turning points in my life I’m grateful for.

The amazing night sky filled with countless stars we saw lying on the basketball court behind the school. :)

Not having to feel sorry for people who have less because they may be richer than us in other aspects. Values lost in the city.

In Hector’s search for happiness he talked about how the people in the countryside appeared to be happier than the people in the city despite having lesser. The people in the countryside were happier as they had lesser knowledge of what was out there in the world and therefore lesser wants. They were happy to have food in their tummies and being with their love ones. On the other hand, the people in the city were exposed to all they things they wanted but couldn’t possess. Luxurious homes, expensive cars, branded goods, power and status. All available around them yet out of reach.

If you ask me, the root to all evil is not money, but knowledge.

Knowledge makes it increasingly difficult for us to make decisions, there’s always two sides to everything. Honestly we could probably make every pro/con list balance out if we wanted to given our ability to have multiple view points.

Wow I’ve drifted. More on that another day.

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