Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Scotland Road Trip: Isle of Skye, Day 1


Publishing this after 1 million year.

Went on a roadtrip to Isle of Skye with my family, last year after my graduation. This is a blog post on our first day - which mostly consisted of driving and stopping by some attractions for a wee while! In case you ever want to go on a road trip to Skye, I hope this will be useful!


Isle of Skye is dubbed as one of the most beautiful places on earth - a trip to Scotland is never complete without a road trip to Skye. Isle of Skye is known for its rugged landscapes, picturesque lochs and medieval castles.

A drive from Edinburgh to Skye will take roughly around 4.5-5 hours without stopping. However, during my recent trip in June 2017, we took almost 9 hours to get from Edinburgh to Skye - because we just had to stop by so many times by the road side/take a detour as the views were simply too beautiful & breathe-taking! (Refer to above map for the road we took!)

After picking up our rental car from Edinburgh Waverly, we dropped by Mark & Spencer Food at Chesser Avenue to pick up some groceries and ready made meals. If only I have a picture of our car hood: it was packed to the brim with food! Prior research indicated that there are not many grocery store in Skye, and foresaw that by the time we reach Skye it might be late & most stores will be closed.

Hit the roads and stopped by Callander for lunch and Mhor Fish. Mhor Fish is a sit-down and takeaway fish and chip place at the quaint little town of Callendar, a popular stopover place for peeps heading to the highlands 

Prices were reasonable and the fish were fresh! The chips are deep fried in lard oil, which gives the chips some extra "oomph" 
Some really good and creamy seafood chowder, packed with chock full of seafood! Heavily buttered bread mmmmhhh

Also by the same company, Mhor's Bread, is just down the street across the road. I paid a separate visit to Mhor's Bread back in September 2016, and I have to say, they serve some really awesome pies and sourdough bread!

As we continue our journey from Callendar through The Trossachs National Park, you'll start to notice the gradual change in scenery, a switch from bright green landscapes to a shade darker, and loch everywhere. 

A random loch we stopped by just to take five.

A must-go: The Three Sisters Mountain Range at Glencoe.




Things I would have done differently if I get the opportunity to go to the highlands again: Camp a night around the Glen Coe, go for a short hike/highland walk around the area, and proceed the journey to Skye! The Three Sisters are named as one of the finest view in the UK

Next, we made a detour to the Glenfinnan Viaduct. A little off our track but a must-see, especially for Harry Potter fans.
There are only two steam trains that passes by the Viaduct every day. Make sure that you plan the timing of your trip properly to catch the trains! The steam train passes by Glenfinnan Visitor Centre at 10.55 am and 3.00 pm daily.

For more info: https://www.secret-scotland.com/Attractions/jacobite-steam-train.html


We drove by Eliean Donan castle, but it was tad too late and hunger pangs struck us so we decided to drive straight to Camus Cottage, the AirBnB we rented.

Most people would choose to spend a night at Potree, as it is one of the most "happening" town. (By happening, I meant that it has more restaurants and small grocery shops. Camus cottage is about 30 minutes drive to Potree, at a quieter part of Skye.

But anyway, Camus Cottage was amazing. The kitchen is very complete - you can even use their tupperware and thermos to pack food! We had our own fireplace. Some firewood is provided, but you got to get some more from the gas station if you finish your supply!

Other practical info:
- Mobile network signal in Skye is horrible (Giffgaff & Three). Make sure you download an offline map!
- If you opt to stay out of Potree, stock up on food as most likely there aren't much choices of food available!

Friday, 21 December 2018

The Fourth Quarter of First Year

A fellow once shared to always document your feelings - even if you're in your busiest period of time. And I am glad I did (though just a wee bit). I've forgotten that I felt like these once upon a time.



Wrote this somewhere in early October
I always ponder and wonder about this: How will my students remember me one day in the future?

Will there remember me as the teacher who was always kelam-kabut (all over the place)? Or as the teacher who mengamuk (go on a rampage) in class, shouting their names whenever they are bising (noisy), and (occasionally) throwing a marker pen/eraser across the room.

Did I prepare my students well for the exams?

Did they learn a lot from me?

Was I a good teacher?

But wait, what is the definition of a good teacher? It varies from students to students, no?

THE LIST GOES ON. SERIOUSLY WILL THERE EVER BE AN END TO INSECURITIES?

To be honest, I thought my first year of teaching was horrible, horrendous, atrocious, (insert any negative adjectives there).

The first three months was a lot of trial and error. Figuring out the level of proficiency of the student, figuring out how to teach and so on..

I remember how I taught during the first three months - it was a lot of guess work. I had to assume their levels

"Let me try this lesson, and figure out if they are good in this!"

What I could have done better: Make the students sit for a diagnostic test

The next three months was figuring out the syllabus, figuring out the lesson planning process
And the next one month was panicking over my students having exams soon.

Was I doing enough?

But what is enough?

4 October 2018
Pop quiz:

What congratulates you for failing?

Answer:

A Medical Certificate. "CONGRATULATIONS, your immune system failed you."

I absolutely despise being sick. I mean, who likes being sick? As I am typing this I can feel my chest tightening from the phlegm deposit, and my head feels heavy and clouded. My judgement is suspended, and productivity? Probably at rock-bottom.

A pang of guiltiness hits me for taking a sick day for work today. My students are one week away from their final exams and I have yet to finish up their syllabus.

I woke up at 6am today, telling my housemate/collab Sophie "Ya know what, I'm going to cancel my MC and go to school today!" to which she responds "don't be crazy you look very sick". I'm glad I didn't cancel my MC because I ended up crashing again and waking up at 4pm....


7 October 2018
Do you ever feel so overwhelmed from your never ending to do list, and you just feel like doing nothing?

Well, that's what I am feeling right now.

T_T

I am sort of in denial phase right now with the amount of work (x number of books to grade and check, exam paper to set, some event to handle, and oh, DPLI assignments and so on)

It's okay let me kill some time here and I'll hopefully get back to my to-do list soon.


12 October 2018

Have you ever, wake up in the middle of the night, with butterflies in your stomach, unable to sleep back in peace, because of a certain thought, haunting you?

I woke up last night with cold sweat, from a nightmare,

For some reason, I can't seem to forgive myself, for some silly mistake I made.


--

Truth to be told, I am really afraid of making mistakes. I always feel as though my heart stops for a beat when I am called out for a mistake.

Mistakes are inevitable in life. It is part and parcel of our every day life. Yet, us humans tend to feel uneasy when we make a mistake.

My Leadership Development Officer, Jess, introduced me to the four stages of competency, which is illustrated below in this graph. We always start of doing something new rather incompetence. And sometimes, we are unconsciously incompetence - where we might (unconsciously) deny there's a problem.
Image result for unconscious competence cycle
Some might move on to the next stage which is conscious incompetence, where one will start to realize and be open about the incompetency, but take steps and measure to rectify it. But before one reaches that stage, one has to go through a roller-coaster ride of fear, anger, resistance and so on.

But once you can pass the first two stages, you can slowly make your way to competency.

For teaching, I wish if I am more competent, because what we do affects students greatly. Whatever we say might leave a mark on them.

What I wish I have done better?
Reach out to the teachers more often to understand the teaching process much better. I admit, I am a very new and inexperience teacher. Of course, the best teacher is experience itself, but it takes time, and lots of reflection. And along the way, I feel like my students are the victim/lab rat of my inexperience-ness.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Looking back, there really were times where I felt really down. I'd tell myself "Maybe I just need a good meal!" or "Maybe I just need a drink!" or "Maybe I just need dessert!" or "Maybe I just need a holiday!".


These work, temporarily, but I remember falling into the whole cycle of despair (despair is a strong word, but I can't think of another word now), like, everything just wasn't going well.

I remember reaching out to our seniors, and asking them if this is normal at all, and to my relief, they acknowledge that it was normal. And it is fine to feel like this.

Really, it is alright. There are times where you will feel down. There are days where you feel like you can't pick yourself up.

It's okay.

You will pick yourself up soon. You have to learn to accept, and move on. And perhaps implement something along the way. Improve the situation.

I kept wishing, if I could turn back time, and re-do my first year. Because honestly, there are so many things I feel like I could have done better.

But OK reality check, Doraemon ain't here. And you learn from mistake. Accept that.

Come to think of it, what really helped me picked myself up after all these hoohah was finding a project to work on. Spending time with people. I got enveloped in my students' Running Man project and that gave me the drive, the motivation and the energy. At the same time, I remember being all over the place for the DHL Help a School Programme.

And it also helped that there was the holidays to look forward to :P

--

Us 2018s will be proceeding to our second year of teaching soon. It'll still be tough, I guarantee it. But it's okay, you'll always find a way. to pick yourself up. Remember that.

And looking back at my entree on 17 October, oh my, that was such a horrible period of time. I couldn't sleep well, I lost my appetite to eat and so on. But now looking back, I can't help but to laugh at myself.

Four more days before I head back to Johor to begin the Cikgu Life...

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Pulau Mawar, Mersing, Johor

So I have relocated to Johor from Selangor early this year because of my, uh, career choice (The 'uh' was totally necessary to emphasis on, uh, certain things). One thing I am grateful of being relocated to a different state is the heightened sense of exploration. My desire to explore got heightened as I am residing in a state that I rarely visited once upon a time. The opportunity to explore places I have never been before also increases as residing in a different part of the country, reduces travel time to certain part of this country.

One example is Mersing. A drive from Selangor to Mersing would take more than 5 hours. But a drive from Johor Bahru to Mersing would take less than 2 hours. :D

So on a very beautiful morning, we decided to go on a day trip to Mersing. And we stumbled upon this place called Pulau Mawar, which is what this whole blog post is going to be about. So read it or leave it just kidding please read on hahaha.

Pulau Mawar, is a small island located about 20 minutes drive away from Mersing town, that is only accessible during low tide (similar to Cramond Island in Edinburgh!).
I somehow discovered this place while googling about places to visit for a day trip from Johor Bahru  - I came across a photo of "Heaven's Gate", which caught my attention & I knew I have to see it. 

Note: Do check the tidal chart here before you visit Pulau Mawar! Make sure to plan your journey well so that you have ample time to explore Pulau Mawar (& not get stuck there because the tides are high!)

Getting to Pulau Mawar

I followed the instructions on Catherine's blog (a blog I found on Google thank you so much!) to get to Pulau Mawar. Search for "Jalan Penyabong Carpark" on Google Map, park your car there, and start walking along the sandbank, where you'll see a mangrove far forest ahead of you.

The walk on the sandbank should be less than 1km, though the walk might feel like forever if the weather is scorching hot.
You'll arrive at Pulau Mawar after crossing the sandbank. Navigate your way into the Mangrove forest. Walk along the shore so that you won't get lost. Truth to be told I was a little nervous at first - there was no one else but us there. I wasn't really sure if we got the location right. I kept looking back and made sure I can see our car from where we were to make sure we know how to get back!
Mangrove
Jia Qi walking along the mangroves.
Jia Qi posing with the mangroves.
Jia Qi walking in the mangrove forest again.

The path is relatively clear - albeit not clearly marked. (This sounds a little contradicting but please bear with me, you'll understand when you're there) There were two motorcycles that zoomed ahead of us so we followed their track and we walked along the shore so that we won't get lost. We went too far ahead to a rocky beach area, where we could see many anglers fishing, and the two motorcyclist told us to make a U-Turn to the entrance to the hiking trail of "Heaven's Gate" They told us that the entrance should be on the left side (if you're walking from the parking lot) , where you'll see the trees forming a little "arch" on the right side of the trail. The marker is a torn up Pakatan Harapan flag. UPDATE: FLAG IS NOT AROUND ANYMORE. The entrance is BEFORE the rocky beach area. You'll have to try to look for the entrance which is basically an "arch" formed by trees on your left side.

We made a U-Turn and found the entrance to the trail to "Heaven's Gate":

A little limbo is needed!

The trail is really short and easy - it'll take you less than 5 minutes to reach "Heaven's Gate". Proper hiking shoes are recommended though, because of the rocky terrain. Just keep following the path, and soon you'll reach a small steep inclination, with ropes to help pull yourself up....and volia.
Mersing's "Heaven's Gate" :D 

 Beautiful, innit? Oh you need to haul yourself down a ladder made of wood to approach the beautiful arch. Not challenging, but you got to watch your footing!
Behind "Heaven's Gate" you'll find a beautiful secluded (Okay maybe not so secluded - someone was having a wedding photoshoot there) rocky, pebbled beach, which really reminds me of the beach at Vernazza, Cinque Terre, Italy!

The water were crystal clear, and strong waves crashed on the rock, sea breeze welcoming us to this little enclave. I wished if we had packed some food to picnic there.

There's a mini cave on the left side of the beach, full of bats and reek of bat urine. Didn't explore it as we didn't want to come out smelling like bat urine!
I've come across some photos of the "Heaven's Gate" with the milky way behind it! However, camping overnight...well, I wouldn't really recommend it after all, the tides will rise and I'm not sure how high it'll be, and I'm not too sure about the terrain for camping overnight there (the beach is full of pebbles). We came across some hikers and had a casual chat about camping overnight and they too, were against the idea of camping overnight at Pulau Mawar.

We hanged around the beach for a short while before turning back as we were starving (and also, the rising tides!). I really do recommend visiting Pulau Mawar in Mersing! It is easily accessible, and the hike is rather short & easy (you can easily reach the arch in 20 minutes from the car park!). And remember, check the tidal chart here before embarking on your journey!

TLDR,

Pulau Mawar
Difficulty: Easy
Duration of hike: 20-30 minutes (from car park)
Check the tidal chart here before embarking on your journey!

Thursday, 4 October 2018

"You don't understand me!"

"You don't know what I am going through, what I am feeling!"

"Stop taking your work pressure home and throw it on me!"

Sounds familiar? No? Good for you, haha! No, really, you're not missing out on anything.

Growing up, I often argued with my mum. Well actually, let me rethink that statement. Since young up till now perhaps, I constantly argue with my mum. We would argue over the pettiest stuff -  what to eat, what time to depart from home to get to somewhere, life choices etc. etc. We disagree over almost everything - from my career choice (mum's a teacher and she used to tell me, to be anything I want except a teacher and whooops look where I am right now. We used to argue so much over this HAHAHAH), my choices of words and habits (she thinks that I am too 'rough' as a girl, er, which I think can be true at times but I strongly believe that I have the freedom to be who I am as long as I am not harming or degrading anyone), my eating beliefs (mum tries to force the whole family to be vegetarian during Wesak day, which I use to..er, stage hunger strike lol. Mum would also say things like eat this it is good for xxx and I would question it, asking for scientific reasons why and it would end up as "aiya next time you'll regret it!!").

Yes, I was (and still am) really rebellious. I question things and refuse to accept things as it is - I want explanation and reasons. I am really stubborn. Unfortunately, I got this from my mum :P And she is as hard-headed as I am, but our beliefs are bagai langit dengan bumi lol.

It is true, that distance makes the heart grows fonder. My relationship with my mum became much better when I studied abroad in the UK. Of course, when my family came over to Europe for my graduation, our no-fight streak was shortly broken after....5 days? Hahahah.

Now that I am based in Johor and family are in KL, our relationship is now like a bed of roses :p we are in very good term (except when I lie on the bed of roses too long, and I can feel the pricks and thorns slowly sinking in....)

Even though we fought a lot, but that doesn't mean that we don't care about each other, we don't love each other. My family is the type of family that doesn't actively show affection. But I know we all care for each other a lot. Just that we don't actively show it, or say it out loud. We show it in the form of food, and perhaps subtle actions.

--

I remember when I was younger, probably during my teenage years in high school, my spat with my mum was the worst. There was a point of time where we'd just argue every day, and go on cold wars for days (I have to admit, I had a huge ego where I refuse to admit I am wrong even though, I knew I was wrong...)

And up till now, I still remember some of the words/phrase/lines my mum used to say that was hurtful. I'm pretty sure she didn't mean it (or I am deciphering it wrongly/taking it too personally), but it was hurtful.

--

Being around with students made me realize, that things used to be a lot simpler.

Back then it was a big thing, to fight with someone. Fighting with family was a big thing. Fighting with my friends were a big thing. Simply because friends and family played such a huge role in my teenage years. We spent most of our time at school and at home. it doesn't feel nice to feel...disconnected from people you spend the most time with.

Which really made me reflect, on how I treat my students.

Sometimes when I am in a bad mood, I tend to be snappier. I can't help but to wonder, will things I say affect them deeply? That time when I snapped at a student, how much will it affect them? Or am I thinking way too much?

Overheard at the "bilik guru membawang" group, "I scolded my students today. Kesian them. But I'm really too stressed and little things they do really blew me up!"

I seem to resonate with the statement lately. I feel like I can blow up really easily because it seems to be easier to let out all my feelings and stress building up at one blow. Bising? OOIIIIII BISING LA! Tak buat kerja? BUATLAH OI. *throws stuff* 

The solution wouldn't be as easy as "just don't be angry/stressed". There must be a "How". How do you not be angry? How do you not be stressed? There must be a how key point.

Thinking back, my mum had been extremely patient with me. Looking back now, there were so many times where I feel like yes I deserve to be scolded but somehow, I just can't connect the dots at then. I always thought that my mum didn't really bothered about how I feel and she used to bring home her stress from work so often, and take it out on us.

WHAT GOES AROUND REALLY COMES AROUND.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Here's some positivity

Sometimes I feel like I focus too much on the negativity of my life and I forget about the positive things that happened around me.

Today I feel like I am really taken care of by my students.
 My day started off with a pasta delivery by a student, which came in really handy because I am perpetually hungry.
A student (from the same class I cried in before lol) came and 'escort' me to class today. And I could see he really is trying to control the class for me.

After school, a student came to talk to me and asked "Do you have a meeting today? Have you eaten teacher? Don''t forget to take 5 minutes break!"

These gestures really warms my heart and keep me going.

Knowing some students actually cares gives me the strength to be stronger and do my best.

 Yesterday, I declared that it was dessert day and my collab, Sophie, was supportive lol.
Many things to be grateful of, eh.

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Today is one of those days...

These are some compilation of short, what do you call this, passage/entry/journal perhaps? I wrote over the past month.

---
Date: Unknown, somewhere in August I think
Today is one of those day, where I question myself:

Am I doing enough for the students?

Was I too stern in that class?

Was I too lenient in that class?

Was that the right thing to do?

Was shouting really necessary then?

I should have done that.

and the list goes on and on and on.

I feel guilty to take rest or breaks, because I feel like the time is better invested in lesson planning, reading about pedagogy skills, and how to further improve my lessons. Especially being a new teacher, where I'm still pretty much on trial and error stage.

Sometimes, I feel that if I did not took over the classes I am teaching right now, they might be better off without me. Because I am an inexperience teacher, who sometimes act impulsively and do things ad-hoc.

I wish if I can give the best to my students. I wish if I know what to do, and how to react to every situation.

But realistically speaking, I am human. You are human (Wait, are you....? Might need you to do this reCAPTCHA test). It is completely normal to stumble and fall when you first start off something new.
Image result for i am not a robot check

--

Date: 28 August 2018

Today is one of those day, where I am fed-up of waking my students up during my lesson. Usually when I wake some students up, they would be really disruptive, so I proceeded my lesson without waking them out, despite knowing that it is wrong.

And today is one of those day, where my (new) principal had to walk past my class. He woke the students up one by one, and took a before and after photo.



Sure enough, the moment my principal left the class, the students drop back into sleep again.

--
Date: 29 August 2018

Today is one of those day, where my student (from the same class as my entry on 28 August) asked me to die.
But we had a ROS Social that night and it was fun.
--
Date: 31 August 2018
TODAY IS ONE OF THOSE HAPPY DAY WHERE I GOT TO SAY I HAVE A LIFE AND TRIED ATV YEAH MAN.



 Also, I had the best dinner combination on that day :D. Fried chicken + Beer


--
Date: 1 September 2018

Today is the day, where my Robotic kids were training for consistently since March have been waiting for: Young Innovator Challenge 2018.

These boys have been consistently staying back every Sunday to practice Arduino programming. They were guided under a 2016 Fellow, Mr Tan Jiunn Wen, before this. Sophie & I took over but we're really useless in Robotics.

I am really impressed and inspired with their commitment, despite not having any teacher with deep subject knowledge guiding them.

Two teams managed to snag Bronze. The boys were disappointed, perhaps because they really wanted to defend their champion title (they won Gold last year, under the guidance of Mr Tan Jiunn Wen!).

I really am really proud of them. i don't know how to express this feeling, but for them to be able to show such commitment, it is amazing. Seeing them at work always keeps me motivated. And, their attitudes and behaviors are really worth praising.

During the judging session, one of the judges were pregnant and they took a chair and invited the judges to sit down.

During lunch time, the boys took our share of food, and invited us to eat together.
This is the behind-the-scene effort that is rarely seen by most people. Same goes to them and their preparation for their project!

These small little gestures really made my heart melt.
Today is also one of those day where we get to eat Cheotnun Bingsu!
And also one of those day where I feel free and liberated because the next day is a public holiday!

--
Date: 2 September 2018
Today is one of those rare days where I go to a shopping mall to watch a movie! Nevertheless, I really enjoyed it!
--
Date: 3 September 2018
Today is one of those day, where I feel like crying after collecting my student's exam script.
An example of exam script.

--

Date: 5 September 2018

Today is one of those days, where my tears welled up, my anger fumed, I jumped in joy, I felt confused as heck, guilty like this dog memeImage result for guilty dog memeBecause I didn't plan my lesson at all, because I really didn't have the time at all. I stayed back at school up till 7pm for Accenture Student Leadership Camp (ASLC) meeting, got home at 10.30pm, marked some books, and hit the sack at 12.30am, woke up at 5am the next day to decide what I want to do for my lessons.

Today is also one of those days, where things just didn't go as planned. I asked a student to frame a faint as my induction for a literature class lesson about a play, where a man fainted in the class.

What happened instead: The student betul-betul fainted in class. And I thought it was part of the act. Some of the students were mocking the students. Some of the students took advantage of the situation and so on.

Then I cried in one of my class, because I realize how little my students learnt from me, maybe because of the fact that I am not a strict enough teacher to get them to listen and pay attention in class, or maybe because I am simply inexperience to teach. But it was clear that the whole class was disengaged.

The class monitor had to stand up and scold the class because of this. And the class did apologize, and a few students did tried to cheer me up so it was okay.
But also, it was another of those day, where I stayed back till 10pm to work together with my student for ASLC, and my student bought me McD.
--
Date: 6 September 2018 

Today is one of those day where I worked non-stop till 1am.

Because ASLC is on the next day, and these kids are really committed in doing their best.

Had a celebratory dinner with the Robotic boys! Used the club's money, and they insisted to top up the remaining funds which was really sweet of them.
--
Date: 7 September 2018
TODAY IS ASLC WORKSHOP 2. PROUD OF THESE KIDDOS. BUT LET ME LEAVE THIS FOR ANOTHER BLOG POST. GOT TOO MUCH TO SAY ABOUT IT.


--
Date: 8-9 September 2018

Today is one of those day, where I reclaimed it as mine, and I did not worry about school, or my lesson at all.

YES I WENT HIKING AND CAMPING. Super tired afterwards, but worth it.

---
Date 10 September 2018
Today is one of those days, where I woke up at 4am to mark my exams paper (because I really don't have the time to mark and I choose to go on a camping trip during the weekends).

Today was one of those day, where I felt like crying again, because a student sort of merajuk-ed and said I scolded him when I think I did not. Perhaps because I was tired and my tone was snappy, but I was too tired to find out why, and also I felt like I might be a little too emotionally unstable to respond better.
Today is also one of those fried chicken + black balls day to comfort myself.
---

Date:11 September 2018 

Today is one of those days, where I catch up on my sleep debt, and slept for 11 hours.

And I managed to went out with my students to celebrate their success and growth for ASLC. Long story short, we spent a long time in Toys R' Us.

Two students escorted me to my parking space before I left, which really melted my heart too!

Edit: Left this out but this really made me smile. Received snacks from a student. #destresspack


Today is also one of those days, where I marked my exam papers, and I feel like crying and quit teaching because....I don't know maybe I didn't do a good job teaching them, hence the horrible exam results.

Today is one of those days, where I crave for dessert because I want to feel better.

--

I wish if I had documented more feelings. But so much happens in a day, and I simply don't have the time to document it. Maybe I should try v-logging hmmm
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