Saturday, January 9, 2010

New Comp and New Year

Hi! Have been leaving this blog alone for quite some time already haha. Anyway, just want to continue on from my previous post. Remember I was talking about getting a new comp? Yea I got one during Sitex 2009 for $1169. It's pretty good. Acer aspire AX5810: Windows 7 64-bit, Q8400 Quad processor, 4GB DDR3 memory, 750 GB HDD, 1024MB Nvidia Geforce Graphics, Wireless Network. I combined the desktop with the current LG monitor I got. And now my flight simulator has cool graphics! Haha so happy... The best part is that I get to set it up in my room on my table lol.

Hmm about the pilot thing, nothing to continue about lol. So let's move on. My unit is going into standby mode, meaning I can't go overseas from now till around March. Not really affected by it, but the initial checks and inspection were quite intense. Everything had to be in tip top condition, so had to spend quite a lot at beach road recently. Closer towards Christmas, the training became more SOC oriented cos of the change of OC, who is more of the fitness kind of guy. Wasn't affected by it though, cos I already passed the first year timing =)

The Christmas weekend was the best cos it was the longest break from army I got, about one week and a half day lol. On Christmas, my brothers and I bought a Rock Band set for dad and mum, so that we can all have some fun singing and playing the instruments together. It's a very good deal from Challenger Funan. The entire instrument set (mic, guitar, drum set) plus Rock Band and The Beatles Rock Band for just $199! Haha it wasn't a deal we wanted to miss, so we quickly decided to purchase it. However, I would prefer Band Hero to Rock band, cos the songs are more well known pop compared to the never heard before repetoire of rock/punk/heavy metal music. The Beatles is still not so bad, and it's quite suitable for my dad too anyway haha.

After the celebration of Christmas in church in the evening, I went home to prepare the place for the overnight party and bbq. My friends came and almost immediately got latched onto the Rock band game. Someone also brought PS3 with Time Crisis gun set along with it haha. We had good food and fun games through the night at my place. Towards the dawn, most of us would have already slumped on the sofa to sleep lol. It was a great gathering!

I was extremely tired on 26th. After catching like 6 hours of sleep, I went out to meet my little SACO group of friends at Kallang Leisure Park for lunch and movie viewing of treasure hunter. Didn't really like the show much. I felt the story very disjointed, and didn't know exactly what was going on. Walked around a bit, took some pictures with the Christmas decorations, then went home.

27th was my bro Amos's birthday, so we celebrated by having New York New York for lunch. Nothing much happened on monday or Tuesday, but I got sick with vomitting and other gastric problems. Hence, I took attend C on Wed, another extra day to spend out of camp haha. Unfortunately, I had to do guard duty on New year's eve. The moment it was 12 midnight, sua yu and I spent our first 2 hours of the new year prowling and safeguarding the camp lol. Well, I suppose it was worth it, cos we earned 3.5 pts from it. But I wonder if it's enough to escape guard duty on chinese new year. Almost every one wants to try their very best not to fall prey to that.

During the new year weekend, I spent saturday out with my jc classmates to celebrate someone's turning 20 year old day. Had lunch at some thai restaurant in marina sq, then went kite flying and tidbit picnic on top of the marina barrage. It was my first time there, found it quite a nice place to be. Lots of people having fun on the grass patch, enjoying the sea breeze and scenery of the CBD area. That time also got to enjoy the sunset =)

Returning to camp on Monday night, I got myself prepared for longer weeks of training to come. ICCT was on for almost the entire week. I really hate break falling. The continuous slapping on the ground gave me elbow abrasions throughout the whole 4 days. It never got a chance to heal cos the training was on every single day. I'll just have to tahan and endure till Tuesday this coming week for grading, then it'll be the end of it.

After booking out, my bunk went to golden mile complex to eat at one of their uncle's steamboat restaurant. It was Hainanese chicken rice served with chinese steamboat. Really great meal. The rice, the satay, the seafood, the chicken were all delicious. At the end of the meal, we counted about 21 bowls of rice eaten by just 8 army guys lol. That's more than 2 bowls average a person! I suppose I could count it as a celebration of being a one year soldier =D haha. It's just down to 10 months of NS in 5 SIR man.... Bring it on! haha I just wanna quickly get out of that irritating place...

Saturday, November 21, 2009

New Desktop? Pilot career? Hmm...

Recently, I've been thinking of getting a new desktop PC for my home. The thought started when my only desktop's memory is getting very low. So I was thinking of getting a new comp to transfer some programs over. Since I have a program called Flight Simulator X (FSX), maybe I'll go get a DIY desktop with good graphics card, more RAM and more HDD space. Then I can set all the settings on ultra high without slowing down the progress of the comp =D.

Speaking of FSX, I've also gotten more and more interested in flying. I haven't really got much opportunities to try out learning to fly. I went for the ST Aviation training academy information session at temasek poly on the 14th november. The course they run is a 65 week course in Ballarat Australia. The thing that turns most people off is the fees. It's about 128K sing$ for all the course resources, lodging, flight ticket to australia, etc. But gotta pay for own meals. An alternative is to try to get recruited as a cadet pilot with SIA. They like to train their own pilots. In this way, the cadet gets fully sponsored for his pilot training plus an allowance. Of course there's a 7-8 year bond, but in that way you've secured a job already right? Getting through the selection process will be the tough part.

In any case, I'll only try out a pilot career after my uni studies. Now is just the time, loads of time, to think it through and maybe plan on how to go about doing it. If I can't get through with SIA, then I'll have to think of a way to save up enough money to sign up for the STATA course. Another big question mark is whether i'm even medically fit to become a pilot. Many things are still uncertain... I can only dream of what it's like to be a pilot now. Take things one step at a time. At the end of the year, get a new desktop. After that, complete NS. Then get a driving license, a job, focus on uni, maybe get an internship or scholarship if possible. If I get the opportunity, maybe I'll get more career advice during my aerospace course in NTU. The best part is... I'm still young =)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

From Brunei I Return

Hey guys ~ I've not been updating recently, over a month now. No, I wasn't busy. More like caught up with more interesting stuff to do haha. By the way, I went on an exercise to Brunei from 25 sept till 12 oct, a total of about 18 days. The bunk conditions there are better than those in taiwan, thankfully. There were actual bed mattressed that we could sleep on rather than on sponge beds like I did in taiwan. Besides, the bunks in brunei camp were newly renovated. In the past, the conditions may be the same or worse than taiwan.

Just a brief overview of what I did in Brunei exercise. First day was settling admin stuff, getting to know where the cookhouse, armskote, etc. are. For us as scouts, our training started the very next day. We did river crossing, but in our case was more of combat swimming. Crossing a real river with underwater current was truly a new experience. The following day was a guided navigational exercise. Its purpose was to climatise us to the conditions and terrain in brunei, as well as to refresh us on the navigational skills we'll need for the next four days of Nomad.

Nomad started the next day, a 4-day navigational exercise comprising of 6 checkpoints, a mid and end point. For my team, we didn't manage to get all of the checkpoints, just found 4. I don't think we did our best either, but we learnt to continue our assigned task despite 2 team members falling out on the same day, one of them being our commander. Nevertheless, I think most of us learnt a great deal about navigation, plotting and pacing during the four days. It allowed us to gauge on how accurate we were, and to teach us how to navigate in such a way that will lead us to the desired destination without having to climb up and down steep knolls.

After that, the following day was probably a highlight for most of us. SWAMP WALK. Only the scouts were involved in this. We got to experience how navigating in the swamp was like. Not only was the terrain muddy and wet, but the vegetation was immensely thick and harsh as well. Thorn thickets were a common sight, coupled with humid conditions and lots of bashing made us all easily frustrated. There were instances when some of us got to feel how it was like to be waist deep in mud. I was one of them. You get the feeling that you're in quicksand, not in the sense that you get sucked down into the ground, but no matter how hard you try, you can't get yourself out. People had to pull the stuck ones out with much difficulty. As I was being pulled out, my boots felt like falling off! On that day, it was also the first time I got stung by a wasp on my ear. The initial sting was super painful, my ear starting to redden and swell. But after tolerating the pain for a few minutes, it died away. Thankfully I didn't develop any general reaction to the sting, meaning I'm not allergic to it. A few others got stung too. One of my members got stung 3 times at once, on the hand, ear and above the eye. Poor guy. Many of us were exhausted, wondering when it would all end. Reaching the end point filled me with a feeling of ecstasy. Every one was glad to have made it out. The entire thing was about 2km, taking us about 7-8 hours to complete. That itself was considered an achievement, cos from what we heard from the instructors in the camp, others before us have stayed in the swamp area overnight, only to emerge from the vegetation the next day.

The last leg of our training was a 7 day 6 night recce mission. It comprises of 2 different objectives, with a river crossing to be done between the 2 missions. Climbing Mt. Biang on the second day was like climbing the rocky path at Bt. Timah, except that this time we were carrying heavy load on our backs. Due to the closed terrain everywhere, there wasn't much of a view when we reached the top of it. During the 7 days, I was bitten on the hand and waist by unknown insects, probably sand flies or mosquitoes. Not only that, there were instances that leeches were found sucking on my blood... Super disgusting, really hate leeches.

Overall, compared to taiwan, brunei is not as tiring, but it's sure more dreadful and boring. At least we got our rest every night, because night time was a no move period. On the day of R&R, we explored the main district of Brunei on a guided tour. Lunch and dinner were both buffet, so the food was excellent. But I guess it was too much of a good thing. Got to visit museums and a water village. We last stopped at the local mall called The Mall, situated right beside the only Mac's in Brunei. Since there was nothing much to do in the mall, most of us went to watch surrogates in the cineplex before dinner.

I'm just glad all that is over. All the travelling in this period is making me really tired. Really happy to be safe back at home =)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Days Off

Today, Thursday, the last day of my break before I have to return back to camp tonight. Nonsense right? Return to camp for a single day of Friday then come out again. Well, from what I know, there shouldn't be any major physical activities for us to do. Morning would be admin stuff, like shifting of ops boxes and writing statements for damanged equipment. Afternoon's main highlight would be the flight briefing for my Brunei trip later this month. Yes... Another overseas trip with the army for me again. This time it will be with my battalion, who will be training at company level. It's gonna be worse than Taiwan I guess, with nothing much to look forward to... Now that we're trained scout troopers, we'll have to live out the slogan we've all been chanting through our scout course.

Anyway, this post is not about me ranting about the future Haha. Rather it's about my days off. On Saturday, the day of my return, I had dinner with my classmates at Carl's Jr. in Marina Sq. I realised a carl's jr meal couldn't satisfy my hunger! My stomach must have expanded tremendously Lol. Got to share some of my tai yang bing with them. Then we went to catch G-force. The guinea pigs were so cute... Haha the storyline wasn't too bad as well, with a little twist towards the end of the show, or at least something I myself did not expect. Went home after the enjoyable outing with them.

On Monday, I went back to bukit panjang camp with most of my barang barang. It was so tedious and exhausting to haul all those stuff back to camp. Anyway, it was pleasing to meet up with long time no see friends back at the bunk =) After unpacking the stuff back into our lockers, a surprising news came that we could book out already! There was a cock up of things. We were intended to come back to shift stores and equipment back from pasir laba camp and to account for all the damages incurred. But it couldn't happen, due to transportation problems and the ongoing army open house restricting our means of doing so. Hence, with nothing to be done, we were given Monday off! The group of us, deciding not to go home so soon, went to West Mall for macs breakfast. I haven't had a macs breakfast for ages... Miss the hotcakes and hashbrown Lol. After the hearty meal, I made my way back to SAJC to collect my college day award. I got a plaque, a cert, and $120 prize! The plaque looks nicer than my last year's colours award Haha, but I'm proud to have attained both. It says a lot about my life in SAJC... So much different from Maris Stella cos I didn't get anything much besides certs from there. I also didn't manage to go up on stage for Founder's Day, but managed to get invited to 31st and 32nd College Day =D Amazingly, the 2 years of JC was more eventful and fruitful compared to 10 years in Maris Stella =P

On Tuesday, I went shopping at Bugis Junction on my own. I wanted to see what Natural Project has. Eventually, I bought a short sleeved shirt, a 2 in 1, and a very comfy V neck top. Total $153, managed to get a leather belt worth $29. Haha happy with what I bought =) I wanted to take this chance to go shopping as I seldom get the opportunity to come out on weekdays, when there are fewer crowds. In the evening, I had dinner at Astons with Constance. Finally got to show her my cert, and thank her for the lessons with a box of tai yang bing Lol.

Yesterday, met with my scout platoon mates for lunch at Carnivore Vivocity. First time went there, more expensive than Sakura! $30+ for all you can eat. Started with the salad bar, went back to our tables and ate. Once in a while, there will be these Brazilian waiters with a skewer each. On every skewer there's a different meat item! They've got beef, pork, lamb, sausages, pineapple, honey baked ham, chicken, fish, and other variations. It was a unique experience indeed. Was super full after that. Walked around, went to starbucks, walked around, nothing to do then went home Haha. For dinner, my family ordered 2 shepherd's pie. One was black peppered beef and the other was lamb special. Very delicious, but I think I was too full to eat much Haha. I just managed to eat one piece of each flavour. But, I continued to have that for supper Lol.

Haven't done much for today except to update this blog... Maybe I'll go sim lim sq or funan to look see later =)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Starlight... so bright...

Hey~ I'm back from Taiwan!

I really really miss Singapore and all that I took for granted Lol... Not that I miss bukit panjang camp (or CSM for that matter =P), but I miss the security and the sense of home that Singapore has given me my whole life. Being in Taiwan for 3 weeks was the longest time I've ever spent overseas. Time seemed to pass slowly and painfully, awaiting for the end of ISPC to draw nearer and nearer... Now that I look back, I wonder how I managed to pull through the tough 3 weeks. I guess the secret would be to take things one step at a time...

When we touched down, we headed to our small little cosy camp. It was more of a barrack than a bunk, cos a whole bunch of us slept together on a long stretch of sponge bed Lol. It was totally different from Singapore, which in comparison is like heaven. It took some time to get used to the new setting. First few days, we had to condition ourselves to the weather. By the way, the forecast was supposed to be rain every other day. Surprisingly, it was dreadfully scorching hot with clear blue skies! Thank God for the clear weather =D haha... but a little cloud cover would have been better. I got sunburnt on the first day already, every one commented my face was red, this time permanently haha. But it soon turned darker instead, so it's alright.

Our first obstacle was exercise long walk. We're given 72 hours to complete a 60+km navigational walk from South to North for my team. We managed to complete it in 3 days 2 nights, which was about a little over 50 hours. My team was able to walk fast, but unfortunately we made quite a number of wrong decisions. On the first day, we had to bash 5 hours of vegetation, just to arrive back at where we started =_= The next few days, the irritating thing was all the back tracking, especially when we had to climb so high up the hills. At the end of it all, my feet blistered like I've never seen before... I couldn't walk properly for a day or 2 after the exercise lol. Had bubble milk tea as a celebration of our achievement! haha

The next step to overcome was the live firing - backward fire movement. This one wasn't much of a problem, just do whatever we're being taught, taking note of all the safety pointers and we should be alright. For me, right after we shot the live rounds, it was the start of the summary exercise. It's a whopping 7 day field camp where our skills as a recce trooper are being assessed, putting to use whatever we've learnt so far. There were a grand total of 3 missions, objectives are mainly YAMI BETTY and NICOLE. Haha also no use telling you... Basically we had to close in to the enemy objective and confirm whatever we're supposed to be looking for according to our mission goals. Part of the exercise is also to avoid being caught by the live enemies that are deployed, adding to the reality factor.

At the end of the 3 missions, we had to rendevous at a certain location on top of a knoll. All the teams were gathered there. We didn't have much time to rest before the instructors started shouting at us. It was the beginning of a very dreadful and long night of RTI (Resistance To Interrogation = being treated like POWs). We formed up, all face down, walked quickly up the hill together. When we reached the top, the redland forces were shooting blanks to the sky with joy at their captured enemies, the blueland forces. (If you haven't noticed, the redland peeps are the instructors while we being tortured are the blueland forces) I had to go through interrogation, stress positions in the mud, obeying their every command, be both mentally and physically exhausted to the max! All that with my shirt inside out and blindfolded.

After the gruelling 12 hours, when my hands were un-cuffed and my blindfold removed, emotions started to run within me. I was tearing and crying for joy when I saw the clear blue sky! We made it through at last! Most of us were extremely exhausted. We couldn't walk properly, our legs were like jelly from all the stand-sit-stand-sit-stand-sit....., our knees were all bruised from all the high kneel-left knee up-right knee up-left-right-left-right.... It was definitely a night not to be forgotten so easily. RTI was done, and we proceeded to the last phase of summary exercise, the E&E (escape and evasion). Given blind maps, we navigated and walked about 8-10km to our end point.

Happy to have gone through till the end, we graduated from the course on top of a knoll with strong winds and a majestic view of the ocean on the horizon. The jungle hat will be my prized possession after this long and hard training =D

After settling all the admin stuff back at camp, our R&R days finally arrived. It was a 3 day 2 night tour of taiwan up to taipei. First day, we went to the national museum of marine biological life. Interesting to see cute marine creatures like these:

We then travelled up to Kaohshiung and stayed there overnight. The next day, we headed for taipei. On the way there, we stopped at liufu safari theme park. I managed to ride on all the thrilling rides I've never taken before Lol. Didn't manage to ride on roller coasters though... I took the water slide, free fall, viking that went upside down, normal viking, and other thrilling rides. My greatest accomplishment would be free fall Haha. I don't know what made me wanna do it... But I did anyway =D Felt super shiouk after falling Haha.

In Taipei, we went to Shilin Night market and Ximenting for shopping and eating. Bought 5 shirts from taiwan, and a few boxes of goodies for my family and friends to try Haha. I had a very great fun time in Taiwan, especially with the company of my great pals from scout platoon 5 SIR!

Monday, August 10, 2009

National Day weekend

Hi I'm back for a short little update before I head back to camp.

On national day itself, as usual my family went to church in the morning. After lunch, we went to watch G.I Joe @ GV Bishan, just 3 mrt stops away haha... so convenient lol. It's quite an action packed movie with a rather unique storyline. A number of surprises made the plot more and more interesting, making you curious as to why this and why that?... And I think there's gonna be a sequel to this show haha. It's a pity amos didn't join us to watch... We don really know why. He said he don think he'll like the movie, but from what I know of him, he's the kind that will go for these kind of movies... hmm...

In the evening, I watched the NDP on tele. During the parade inspection, I was shocked to see that the guard of honour (the guy walking beside the president during inspection) was the OC of my recce course! Haha... so he's the 'up there' kind of commander i see... I also got to see 5 SIR performers on the 9-storey high grid, and the guys who did the walking up the wall stunt seemed to have done a great job haha. At 2022 hrs the pledge was recited. My brothers made a little nonsense of it... lol.

Today, after going to beach road to get some army stuff for the taiwan trip, I went to vivo city to meet up with bcy for lunch. The black pepper beef speghetti I had was super spicy lol. At the end, we presented Birthday presents to the August babies Haha. It was kinda awkward celebrating their birthdays 2 weeks earlier... my fault cos of my absence haha. Glad to see they loved their gifts =)

Anyway, it's less than a week before I'll be departing for Taiwan. Hopefully I'm gonna have a full Friday off... then maybe I'll update one last time before my 3 week absence haha

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Combat Survival Training

This week has been quite interesting, learning about how to use resources in the jungle to survive. There were lessons conducted in camp, followed by a 3 day 2 night outfield camp where we put our skills learnt to the test. Honestly, I find it hard to remember all the plant food taught during the lesson. I never knew that there can be so many things to be used in an ordinary looking site of vegetation haha. Fruits are easiest to identify, cos most of them I already know from normal life, like jackfruit rambutan etc. We were also taught how to build an A-frame shelter, monitor lizard trap, how to get alternative water source and much more.

The 3-day outfield wasn't too bad. It's not as tiring as having to do infiltration like the previous week haha. Most of the time is spent chopping down trees, identify and deciding what to chop down that's suitable for use. My team comprising 3 men were allocated a virgin site of land, untouched by people who've done CST before. I can't say untouched by people cos I see plenty of glass bottles lying around nearby hahaha. We were a bit disheartened as we'll have to do everything from scratch, unable to have things originally set up there to aid ease our job. But after we entered our site, right before our eyes was a jackfruit tree with humongous fruits! Too bad they're unripe Haha... That boosted our morale a little. We started looking around our immediate surroundings for trees suitable to construct our A-frame shelter. It took us quite a while to get what we wanted. Probably took us 7-8 hours to created a sturdy structure complete with a roof and half-done bed =P I was very impressed with what we put up. It was super satisfying to see the fruits of your labour. First time I worked with a team to put up a shelter that I can actually sleep in haha... That is what I call real camping...

And what's real camping without a campfire? On the evening of the first day, after many failed attempts, we managed to set up a crackling fire on the ground. It's similar to setting up a barbecue fire, except that this time we're dealing with raw materials like wood, not charcoal haha. After the fire and heat has been exhausted, we got our charcoal which made it easier for us to get a good fire the next day. It was an unforgettable experience.

Speaking about unforgettable experiences, I've had one on the second day of the camp which was rather unpleasant. Every single one of us were to kill and skin a quail. They claim it's something we're supposed to learn in order to survive in a real situation. I felt a mixture of feelings for the quail as I stroked the cute innocent bird I knew was gonna die in the same hands =( One of my friends could not bring himself to kill. In the end he had to kill 2... so sad right? We were supposed to cook the bird and eat it, showing that we didn't kill for fun but to survive. My team boiled the meat, but buried it eventually cos most of us couldn't bring ourselves to consume it. I hope that's the one and only time I have to do such a thing...

At the end of the second day, we were given some raw food, how much was based on how well we scored for building the shelter, trap, utensils, fireplace, etc. I was surprised that they gave us seafood like prawns and sotong to cook Haha. Our empty stomachs were finally fed a little at the end of the second day. Amazingly, none of us actually felt hungry while we did our work!

It's National Day tomorrow, and I'm glad I'm not involved in it! Hahaha... get to spend time to relax a little. Will be back to update further on my holiday weekend =)