Monday, January 29, 2007


As you can see, I've been pretty busy lately with schoolwork, tuition and the latest, wallpapers for the church website. I've been asked by somebody to snap the window panes of the church to make them as wallpapers for visitors to the website to download. Although I'm fully not sure about the quality of these "wallpapers" (not even sure if anyone consider these desktop worthy!) I'm doing it with only one objective, to serve the Lord. Apparently, editing this small amount of photos does consume a hell lot of a time, especially when you're working with an 8 year old computer which Photoshop runs like crap on. These are a few of the mediocre ones I've come up with and there're still more. I've got to send these via email to the person who's going to actually put it up on the site.

I'm still taking school lightly as it's only the beginning of the year. I've got so many things planned ahead. For instance, the much awaited KL trip to receive my prize! I'm leaving on the bus with mom tomorrow (Tuesday) night and will be back on Wednesday night. Pretty short trip, huh? Everyone's in the midst of work and studies so it'll be useless even if I stayed any longer in KL as no one will have the time to bring me around. Might as well cut it short and brief. Strictly for business, I'd say. Well, that means I'll be skipping school on Wednesday just for this prize-giving at Midvalley Megamall and will still have another day to rest when I get back, seeing it's a public holiday in conjunction with the Thaipusam festival. Initially, we did plan to visit Batu Caves (the most anticipated place this year for the celebration) but things didn't seem to turn out so we scrapped the plan off. Till then...

Let Me Tell Your Story.

Photography has always been (for me) a medium to tell my stories, convey a message, capture temporary (or immortal) beauty or even express my feelings. The thought of telling other people's stories from another's point of view or even seeing things the way they see it has never even dash across my mind before. Honestly, this was what I thought : My photographs, my way. I get agitated and annoyed when people (whom most of the time has no idea what it feels like to be behind the camera) when I have people telling me and pointing to me to take pictures of certain things from different angles and etc.. With all due respect, but I need to be creative myself. But I guess it's safe to say that I know what I'm doing I'm just being hard-headed and sometimes taking in more pride than I really should. Though, one thing's for sure, I don't stand up and retaliate, mind you. I take them all in and it's really up to me to adhere or not.

Well, yesterday was something new as I discovered I was able to gain more when I just listen and give in. I'm not sure if it was involuntary or not but I was more than happy to let the man hold my camera and experiment with it.
Still, I'm not striking out the possibility of me listening to him because he was a photographer himself too, when he was a tad bit younger (I discovered he had a film SLR stashed in his cupboard with Leica lens, if I'm not mistaken!). Strange as it may seem, but I enjoyed the photoshoot with Uncle Rao down at one of Ipoh's tourist attraction Gunung Lang (Lang Mountain) while we were down at Kuala Kangsar to visit my poor Danushya who recently had a fall and had one of her ankle bones cracked for the weekend. Despite the fact that all of us had school on Saturday, mom still managed to arrange the trip just for that one day to visit Danushya. It was an impromptu kinda thing and things weren't very well planned as we only spent about an hour at that breathtakingly hidden gem of Ipoh.

Which is kind of a waste, if you ask me. Gunung Lang is one of those places where you'll require a local to introduce you to. It's almost impossible to find it listed anywhere on tourist books or magazines. Well, Gunung Lang as what I understand is actually a park of some sort complete with facilities and a children's playground hidden by the multiple rock mountains of Ipoh that is only available with a 5 minutes boat ride from the pier, made a recreational park by the local authorities of Ipoh. I've never heard of the place before but from my observation, it's a favorite spot among locals and tourists alike. Suffice to say, the only thing to marvel at at the place were the humongous rock mountains. The condition of the place is still much to be desired for. The park facility and arches have surrendered to the endearing rain and shine and has fallen into a state of disrepute. It felt more like entering into a cemetery than a handsomely-built park where butterflies fleet freely and bougainvilleas creeps the walls while the air is filled with the songs sung by birds. Nah!

Nevertheless, our aimless stroll (Uncle Rao and I) brought us to some interesting find - a diamond in the rough, if you like. Strolling with him with my camera made me feel like a kid walking with a wiser man sucking on his lollipop, listening to every word he said. Only, he isn't really much of a talker and all he did was suggest different angles or subject of matter while I just listened and followed. Something new to me, to be getting nods of approval from another person when he squinted his eyes and covered the viewfinder with his hands to get a clearer picture of the shots when it's what he sees in his mind. Oh, I do get the pleasure when he gives an, "Ahhh, yes, yes, yes" after having what seemed like a blurred vision of the shot through the viewfinder. Pretty satisfying to the soul actually, to be some kind of a medium between the man and the camera. Of course, I'm not saying I acted like some kind of puppet with a camera. I still did and got the shots I had in mind.

Well, the shots are still in the process of getting selected by me. I'm still not revealing what it was that we found but it was definitely something new (the subject as well as the experience!). All I can say is that we headed down to the heart of Ipoh to have some of that famous 'bean sprout chicken rice' that everyone was lining up for. Seriously. People were practically eating with foldable table in the middle of the road! I don't really understand what the craze was all about. Frankly, it tasted pretty ordinary to me. Still, there's nothing to regret about this trip. Hard to think that I initially didn't want to go on with the family, still having loads of homework to clear up and studies to catch up with, but I went with it in the last minute. This trip definitely showed me a different and better side of Ipoh - a place
with small shopping complexes and fair food that I previously frown upon ( which is still true!) - and I can't wait to go back there and do more exploring!

Oh, and before I forget, hope Danushya gets well soon!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Tsuruya Japanese Restaurant.

Interior Design from Bali.

Twirling Toothpicks.

Wasabi & Sashimi.
Sizzlin' Beef.

Spending the new year's eve lunch indulging in such good food with the family seems like the perfect thing to end the year with. It was the festive season back then and there wasn't any normal set meals prepared. Instead there were a lot of of Christmas and New Year specials which we thought were fairly expensive. So we went for the a la carte instead. I would've taken more shots on the food (what's not here was Edmund's soba, Grace's udon and dad's tempura seafood) we had but when the food were served surprisingly quick, I had to leave the camera down. Pardon me for that.

Tsuruya is probably the only Japanese restaurant of its kind as we got a chance to meet the owner of the restaurant itself, Ricky and Ricky built his own business and he's not thinking of a franchise anytime soon. Tsuruya, as I would describe it, will only come across as the humble Japanese restaurant that not many know about but serves fairly good Japanese food. Surprisingly though, they don't have a wide selection of sushis which was kind of a let-down to me. I mean, after all, sushis just seemed to be right when it's Japanese food we're talking about. Plus, the sashimi we ordered was truly fresh and that's really a good thing, considering most of the Japanese restaurants we've ever been to usually tells us they've ran out of the good stuff. Still, their menu of rice, tofu, unagi (eel), beef, soba and udon (what else, Grace?) does sum it up as a pretty good place to spend the evening in the comforts of interior designs handpicked by Ricky from Bali and dine in the traditional Japanese style where you're suppose to sit on the backs of your legs in a kneeling fashion.

Tsuruya is located at the newly built i-Avenue (the bright orange building that holds shoplots left and right) building in between Bukit Jambul and Crystal Point at Penang. It's nearly impossible to miss at it is situated right at the entrance into the compound of i-Avenue. Even if you can't find the building, just stop by at Bukit Jambul Shopping Complex and ask any random person and they'll probably be able to show you the place. I managed to grab a card off their desk after chatting a little with Ricky and the original address and telephone number are :

1-1-38/39, MDN, Kampung Relau 1,
I Avenue, 11900 Bayan Lepas, Penang.
Tel: 06-6410828

Friday, January 19, 2007

Stress Relief.

It's only been the 2nd week into school and life has been nothing but hectic. Which explains my sudden absence from the blogosphere. Oh, the daily homework regime, weekly house practices, club meetings and extra tuition classes! The amount of homework has been increasing steadily over the past week. Being bombarded with essays and equations most of the days at such an early time of the year pretty much tears us all down already. Mind you, the weight of my bags is making me slouch over to prevent me from giving in to the pull of gravity. My hectic Mondays are even worse when I'm forced to choose between attending either my Additional Mathematics tuition class or house practice, both of which are decisions to be made on a lose-lose situation. To make things worse, the daily deprivation of sleep just seems to tear all my guard down at school, often resulting me into blinking profusely to keep myself awake.

Seriously. How do those excellent students manage to keep their grades and not miss a single activity in school or tuition classes without having to bear with dark circles around the eyes and appearing to school everyday looking prim and proper?! Here I am, struggling to keep my head above the mountain of unwritten essays while juggling to balance my club meetings and tuition classes besides trying to not look like a walking zombie! Do those students even stop to eat?

Things outside of school hasn't been of much help either. With the temperature rising lately, it's hard not to break a sweat during sleep without the help of an artificial cooling system or the fan blowing directly into my face, ruffling the pages of the textbook while I try to complete my homework drenched in sweat. Even Edward claims that it's hot both at home and at school! Seeing him fanning himself with money gotten after change, desperately trying to cool off... enough said! I've also took the liberty to switch places from the miserable corner in my class, cramped between the wall and another student, to the back of the class where at least I get some air circulation. To add things up, my computer's been running at a snail's pace lately too. The internet connection as well as the system itself. Running Photoshop is merely possible if I still want to have time for homework and tuition and waiting for Mozilla Firefox to load is equivalent to waiting for time to pass by in class!

It's really getting on my nerves. I cant help but realized myself morphing into some ferocious creature with a huge appetite to vent my frustration on people and things around me. Even the tiniest mistake can cause my protruding fangs and claws to glisten in angst. I'm not sure if the unpredictable weather or the tardiness of the computer is to be blame for my complete idiotic behavior but there are just a few things that I do to keep myself from sprouting hair and howling under the full moon.

Therapeutic Music.
Honestly. The wonders music can do to your emotions are amazing. It just soothes everything in your mind. Works like a lubricant to ease your thoughts for that short 3 minutes where you can scream your lungs out to anything. Preferably something vocally challenging! Can't say the same for me cause at times like this (when I'm all up in a bundle of nerves), I tend to opt for something less provocative. Think of Norah Jones (Not Too Late), Westlife (The Love Album), Lucie Silvas (The Same Side) and Take That (Beautiful World). Man, they really do help me ease my mind from midday woes and keep me from breaking down into insanity. Can't quite imagine doing my homework without the speakers playing Patience. Quite a source for inspiration and a good outlet for frustration if you ask me. Of course, on the more normal days, doses of Justin Timberlake, Nelly Furtado, Beyonce, Christina Aguilera, JoJo or Gwen Stefani shouldn't be too risky. Though, when things get really uncontrollable (running amok with pens and rulers!), there's always Joshua Radin (We Were Here), Josh Groban (Awake) John Mayer (Continuum), Jim Brickman and Kenny G to turn to for total relaxation.

Thankfully, so far, there hasn't been any complaints yet from the neighbors about my fetish for loud banging music (even the softest genre!)!

Couch Potato.
At a time crisis like this, possibly losing the internet to an earthquake, the television is probably the most reliable thing compared to the internet connection for a computer addict like me. The television comes the closest to staring into space through billions of pixels than doing it in front of your monitor screens. It sure beats the hell out of waiting for the damn Blogger page to load. What can I say? The remote control and the couch is like a match made in heaven! Provided, of course, if you're the type who is able to watch almost anything and everything aired on tele, including cartoons and music videos that's been aired for the hundredth time on MTV! Being
a worshiper fan of American Idol both of which can be seductively addictive at the same time. With American Idol coming back for their 6th season, I'm definitely going to be spending more time in front of the tele. I've gotta say, spending completely 2 hours sitting in front of the tele , watching thousands (or millions!) hopeless hopefuls audition to be the next Taylor Hicks can get somewhat excruciating after some time.

Especially when creatures from Lord of The Rings escapes from the forest for a chance to audition and then to tell Simon that he knows nothing. How very rude!

Priceless Photoshop.
So when there's no internet, I don't feel like blogging but I can't shake off the urge of wanting to edit photographs despite the lame fact that my computer's (more than) 8 years old and runs like crap. I get so elated when I can make wonders with Photoshop, like giving Grace a digital rhinoplasty and liposuction. Well, that's only for kicks but I really do get excited after being able to correct the worst photo or successfully follow a tutorial. Still, nothing beats the real fun and orgasm satisfaction out of getting the shots you want, first handed with the camera without post-editing. Nevertheless, getting so many comments and 'favorites' for the first time on Flickr! really boosted my confidence a little. What more when I got to be on Flickr's Explore for the first time! That's more than enough to compensate for the wait I had to go through to post those few pictures up on a time crisis like this, not to mention the time I took to Photoshop 'em!

Excessive Shopping.
Definitely one of the best ways to ease up all the nerves in that body... if I had the earnings to do so. Sad to say, neither mom nor dad can actually give me briefcases of cold hard cash to spend everytime I get frustrated. Even if they had the money, they'd be out of their minds to spoil me like that! Considering the fact that I don't even have my own credit card yet, excessive shopping is a big no-no for me. The good news is, I'm going out with Edward tomorrow and in one way or another, it's something positive that I've been looking forward to. We might not be swapping our credit cards that often but we're still hanging out at the mall and catching a movie or two! Hey, at least it's better than spending another Saturday at home, surfing the inevitably slow internet or wrestling with Edmund over the remote control! By the way, did I mention there'll be food tomorrow?

Afternoon Naps.
This method proved nonetheless flawed. Yeah, getting an afternoon nap - snoring away on the couch with the television left switched on - to get your mind away from school and homework can be almost deadly. I for one, has always been a heavy sleeper - being able to fall asleep easily given at any one time of the day has always been a plus for me. The problem is, once I get into my sleeping shoes, it's pretty hard for me to wake up before I pass 3-4 hours of afternoon, already taking up a hell lot of time for me to complete my homework or even do any revision. In other words, afternoon naps are time-consuming. Like that's not bad enough, afternoon naps can only turn me nocturnal as I find it extremely difficult to sleep then in the night. Almost impossible at times - rolling in bed till the wee hours and having panda-like eyes in the morning! Oh no!

Artificial Cool Air.

Has anyone ever told you air conditioning rocks? Seriously. Now I know why those aunties who gather at the nearby barbershop for their daily dose of gossips where I used get my haircut claims that they can't sleep without the air-conditions switched on. Here, I thought they were just bragging! I've been sleeping with the thing switched on for almost every night for about two weeks now considering how warm and humid my room can get in the middle of the night and sleep disruption is the last thing I need on my list when I'm lack of sleep most of the time. I don't want to get too dependent on it, though. Hell, the electricity bill it comes along with when used on a daily basis is shockingly high. Expensive or not, it saves me from waking up in the middle of the night, soaking wet, groping for my watch to see the freaking time!

Comfort Food.
Besides having supper at various nights, I have no comfort food to speak of.
I don't hog on ice-cream while watching tele, I don't devour multiple packets of chips when I'm frustrated, neither do I cover smear my mouth with chocolate (although, I still have 3 different packets of packets of Freddo Frog chocolate in the fridge, untouched) and I definitely don't stuff myself with dozens of cups of instant noodles as if I was in the army. Which is a good thing actually, seeing how fat I already am. Still, eating does comfort the soul in some way (I just finished a whole packet of Famous Amos marshmallows which mom bought for Edmund!) . I find eating at restaurants (with mom) the best times when I actually drown myself in good food and company! We just tried Seoul Garden last week and I wasn't disappointed at all!

Now, what do you do when you're stressed?

P.S. : It's going to be the 20th tomorrow and if I'm not mistaken, Edward told me the internet connection will be recovering from the trauma and things will finally be back to normal, as reported by our broadband providers. Let's hope so.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Additional Achievement : It Won!

This is kind of late but one of my submissions into the SONY Nature Photography Contest 2006 bagged a little prize. I guess it's safe to classify it as 2006's achievement seeing that the shot was taken last year and the competition was last year but this isn't on a glossy page now. I received the letter of notification two days ago which dad intercepted and so kindly brought it in the car when he came to pick me up from school, knowing how excited I get when I receive mail. It was sent by a courier, all-wrapped up in the bag, requiring the signature of the recipient before it was handed over. It did seem a little bit ridiculous to send a latter of notification by courier but I guess Sony takes CONFIDENTIALITY a step further, ensuring every winner gets their notification letter. I wasn't much of a surprise to me anymore when I ripped the package open with delight and anticipation.

Actually, two days before the day I received the package, Sony had already taken the liberty to spoil the surprise inform the prize winners of the contest through email. I realized, somehow, notification of anything should still be made through snail mail, keeping the feeling of joy or disappointment when opening and reading the hand held piece of paper in tact. Unlike scrolling down a list of names through the monitor, carefully scanning my name through it, hoping to find it somewhere along the line. No torn shreds of envelope the work of excited hands and a letter opener to speak off. Anyway, to find my name on the Merit Prize list was something that cannot be put into words. There were so many emotions at once. I felt exhilarated, the adrenaline rushing all over me, yet at the same time, I was a little disappointed. I figured out that I was disappointed to the fact that I wasn't in any of the three placings.

On second thought, I wasn't even vying for the three placings in the first place. I wasn't even thinking of winning, come to think of it when I submitted four photographs (a sign of doubt!) which gives me absolutely no reasons for me to be disappointed. Not that I'm comforting myself or anything, but I figured that one should really need to be thankful for what he gets. Seriously. I admit that I might had too much pride gotten into that head of mine since I got published that for a moment I thought I had this nailed! Now I know for sure that God certainly has His way of bringing me back down to earth, reminding me of my values and roots. I get too vulnerable at times - giving in into the materialistic and the things that can easily corrupt a man. So now, I can happily declare that I'm happy and thankful for winning (something) on my first photography competition ever!

Contest winners will receive the following prizes:

    1. Upper Secondary Category (from age 16 – 19)

    1st Prize Sony product voucher worth RM2,000 X 1

    2nd Prize – Sony product voucher worth RM1,500 X 1

    3rd Prize Sony product voucher worth RM1,000 X 1

    Merit Prize – Sony product voucher worth RM200 X 10

    1. Lower Secondary Category (from age 13 – 15)

    1st Prize – Sony product voucher worth RM1,500 X 1

    2nd Prize – Sony product voucher worth RM1,000 X 1

    3rd Prize – Sony product voucher worth RM500 X 1

Merit Prize – Sony product voucher worth RM200 X 10

So the email was a major turn off but the appreciation from mom, dad, Grace and akak was enough to compensate. Edmund is still too young to really grasp my idea of my passion that he gave a heaving sigh when I told him I got a Sony product voucher worth RM200. Put yourself in my shoe and you'll realize it's not about the amount of prize that matters. It's more about being acknowledged and being able to share this piece of art to the world - whoever who wishes to take a moment and digest the beauty of the photograph itself. I mean, if it's only a certificate, I'll still be happy and accept it with grace. Even so, I should be contented enough to be one of the 13 (upper secondary) students in Malaysia to be picked out for their photographs. Not only that, as stated in the letter, we are cordially invited to attend the "grand" prize giving ceremony to honour us "outstanding winners" on the 31st of January in KL. Awesome, huh? First trip of the year to KL to collect prize! Damn, I must be lying if I say I'm not excited! Can't wait!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Final Familiarity.

This is way too familiar. The smell, the sight, the people and the school building. The fresh memory made it feel like it was only a couple of days before that I left this entire place behind and now, I'm back, picking up all the pieces. Picking up from where I left off. Everything I left behind is still fresh in my mind. It felt weird to be back again. Especially when everything was just the way I left it. Dilapidated classrooms, sickening classmates, unruly teachers with unmanageable manes and a ridiculous school system. Even the sight of parents of the 1st Formers, nervously checking on their child with hands cupped together and of schoolmates showing off their long fingernails and dyed hair was too familiar for me to bother. But technically speaking, I shouldn't be feeling what I'm feeling. I mean, it's only been a month (or so) since the holidays began and everyone knows, holidays are the only time for students to get rid their mind of any unnecessary studies worries. I guess, my memory isn't as bad as I've always thought it was.

You know, this is my 5th year (and hopefully the final year) in middle school where we're all expected to sit through our final governmental examinations, SPM, and frankly, I don't feel like I'm a 5th Former at all, given that I was still on pins and needles the night before the first day of school, rummaging around my room frantically searching for my school stuff. I was trying to roll myself off bed into sleep when I pondered back to my first year when I felt timid and afraid of setting foot into a school where all the big boys rule. Honestly, it didn't feel that long ago. And now, we're the big boys. Literally. Seeing the new 1st Formers scurrying their way diffidently along the school halls and walkways and judging by that, I can't say their any taller past my waist. They do appear a little shorter than the ones from last year. Heck, even they get shorter by the year. Not that I'm drawing any conclusions but I heard a distant someone said, "These children are getting smarter by the year because they have their books over their head all the time, making them shorter by the year!" Now, isn't that quite a theory? Children these days, blinded by the drive to achieve academic excellence...

It's a Sunday night and it's been 3 days since the new semester started. School is pretty much the same since last year. It's only the first few days of school and there's not much work yet. I'm surprised we even have work already, though. I've met with most of the teachers for this year, most of which are from last year. Only met a couple of new teachers so far. I'll touch on that soon enough. The daily assemblies, carried out to monitor and upkeep the the level of discipline have also resumed, much to our despair. Well, the past couple of days have been nothing but gloomy and I must say that's almost as if God was on our side, sparing us the free tan from having to stand in the field, straining our ears to listen to daily school announcements and especially the Head of Student Affairs (HOSA) repeating the school rules for countless of times. The assembly will be running for two weeks, given that no one creates any trouble and disrupts the whole clean record of the school and cause another wave of anger to the Board of Discipline (B.O.D).

It's only the beginning of a whole new year and I'm still not in the study mood yet. It usually comes after the Chinese New Year celebration (probably around February this year). It's unnatural but I'm caught up with Nip/Tuck currently. Since Edward took the liberty to burn the entire season 2 of it into DVD and passed it to me. I've been trying to finish the entire season quick (on Episode 9 now) but I've been feeling kind of guilty, knowing that I should be starting my studies by now. Partly because of that, I'm hurrying the show to the end. After all, it kills my time having to sit in front of the computer and wait for a page to load with the recent crawl of internet connection. A huge turn-off. Though, I have to say, watching the messed up lives of plastic surgeons revolving around acts of infidelity and promiscuity can get boring at times. Still, the surgeries - cutting open a man's chest and inserting silicon or replacing a piece of vaginal tissue in the lip or even doing a facelift - can be quite interesting to watch. Especially when I'm one of those who've been considering liposuction and abs transplant by the time I reach 30. Really makes me think twice. Even above the anesthesia.

I've just packed my bag for tomorrow's lesson. Double periods of Science, English, Economics, and Accountancy. I have English for 4 times out of 5 days of school. Pretty neat, huh? The things that drives me to school everyday are still the same, Edward, English and the pure fact that I can still live through each day at school. School started a little too early this year for all of us to fathom (3rd of January!). I still felt like greeting the teachers a cheerful 'Happy New Year' on the first day of school and most of us are still recovering from post-Christmas and New Year trauma parties. There's still a lot that lies ahead of me. I'll take each day as it comes which excludes from me complaining about preposterous school events (school proms, graduation parties, valentine bonfires and pep rallies are still a far cry from here) and absurd amount of homeworks and assignments. It's my 5th year, shouldn't I be planning a biggest prank of all times? To be thinking, I'm going to be 17 this year and I don't even have my my biker's license yet. Pathetic. I'm still having mom driving me to school.

Well, the school term has started. Say hello to dark eye-bags (no more late night movies and sleeping till 12p.m.), spine-bending school bags, horrifying datelines, procrastinated homework and assignments, and never-ending complaints of the most hated school life. Let's see if there's anything positive to talk about in school it'll be any different this year.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

2006 - A Retrospect.

I must say, 2006, was a year that had an unusual number of events happening to me. Events that I never knew I could achieve before. Even till the very last minutes of the year, I was doing something that I've never done before and was enjoying every single moment of it, by being the commentator (the person who announces practically everything like, 'please stand' and the likes) for the New Year's Eve mass animated by the church's Multimedia Youth Group. I've been serving the Lord as a lector for the 3 years (4th this year) now and I've never tried my hands on commentating and I was already starting to think that I'll never have the courage to do so. Surprisingly, when I was called to do the job, I didn't even refuse or hesitate. Not even when I had no prior practice, I didn't put my hands up and decide to skip mass in the last minute. And I'm not regretting by doing so. I was really enjoying myself, to have total control over the crowd gathered that night and I was damn proud of myself when my job was completed. Likewise when I had to represent my class this year for an elocution at school. Man, wasn't that an achievement?

2006 also saw me getting my photographs published in a local photography magazine (DCM) and also the local newspapers (STAR Thumbnails) for a couple of times. I've never mentioned anything about it before as I thought it was a really small matter (and it wasn't on a glossy page) but I guess it's safe to call it an achievement now. All of these wouldn't have happened in the first place if I hadn't got my camera for my 16th birthday. I assume that my photographs must have improved (even the tiniest little bit) since the day I got my camera up till now. Getting my camera lead me to creating another blog for me to post my pride and joy photos, where there isn't any limit to how many photos can be published, unlike Flickr. Still, if ever I was to make a thank you speech on my photograph, Flickr will be mentioned as it was the place I grew. Of course, there is always mom and dad to thank for the camera and also a few good bloggers whom I stumble into this year. Namely, PinkFrog, smashpOp, Rames and Asryaf Lee, all whom are great photographers that I learned and go inspired from from their showcases of their work.

Another few of the things that I could be proud of was getting myself into BRATs and SONY camp. Yeah, those were definitely memorable in 2006 - meeting new and wonderful people along the way while widening my experience. Never believed in myself that I could've ever gotten into BRATs but I did it and getting into those camps certainly required hardwork and personal effort. Oh, the joy in me when I received the letter of notification. And I also made it in the papers and CLICK! magazine for both the camps, albeit just a little bit. That reminds me, last year was also a year that I submitted more application forms for various things, entered quite a number of competitions, and took participation in certain events than I usually do. For instance, the first time I got involved in an AsiaExplorers activity when I visited the Chew Jetty Trip. Speaking of which, the number of KL trips I took last year was also a considerable amount, not forgetting the impromptu flight we had to take to KL for Grace's varsity interview!

2006 witnessed the death of two of my family members - kong kong and tua pek - both of which are equally painful to bear. Not to mention the deaths of many during the pilgrimage to St. Anne earlier last year, not forgetting the recent floods in Johor and the surrounding states. Though mom still misses kong kong every now and then, amah is still trying hard to accept the fact that she had lost her son. I also had to deal with the departure of some of the closest people to me - Grace, akak and Uncle G. Though, Grace's and akak's departure was simply temporary, learning to deal with the loss of companion and loneliness made me appreciate them more. Grace's departure was more like a license for free trips to KL while akak's departure gave me a chance of running the house my way! And Uncle G has finally moved to Singapore. I doubt it will be the last we'll see of him and I have no idea what will become off the choir. Despite the deaths and departure, 2006 also welcomed the birth of a new member of the family, Amelia. I can't say much about how these have affected my life but encountering the deaths, departures and birth all in one year definitely made me stronger.

Personally, 2006 was a year that held many changes for me. Through changes, I've grown. It shows when I changed a few things on the blog itself. I managed to change the title and the blog template for a couple of times, before I settled with this one. I guess I can say that all those changes I went through were part of my self discovery to define my personality and identity through the blog. Looking back, sieving through my blog archive and reading what I wrote for the year, and fairly amused by most of it, I realized that I've changed. Heck, that time when I caught Lee Hom live and decided capitalizing, I was already changing! Somewhere along the line too, I discovered a few things about myself. Take for instance, the fact that I complain a lot about my homework, I was too self conscious, I'm silent and unknown, I'm still not into teenage relationships, still a sore loser, I appreciate my parents, I have nothing to complain about, I'm cynical, I still have stage fright, I hate Chinese medication, I'm not a normal teen, I'm a survivor, and I'm still full of zits and I have an entire family who loves me for the way that I am! But still, the one prominent change I had in me was the courage to learn new things. I picked up Photoshop and tried my hands on baking, unknowingly, fulfilling my list of I-wouldn't-knows!

Now, wasn't that quite the year isn't it?

PS: 2007's already here and I might've just been too late for my new year's resolution. Plus, I was never good at keeping those damn resolutions!