Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Monthly Goal Review: June

This month, I'm trying to make my goal more measurable. Adjusting some of my goals to do so!

1. Be comfortable on my own
It's a little hard for me to make this goal measurable - how do one measure how this? Counting the number of times I feel the need to go out? It is possible to do so but...it doesn't feel like it captures the "whole picture" properly

2. Long term planning my wardrobe Buy only clothes that are listed on my long-term planning wishlist
The long-term goal is essential (almost) the same - to long-term plan my wardrobe and not buy any clothing unnecessary. By tweaking it to "only buying clothes listed on my long-term planning wishlist",  this goal is now easier to keep track of and measure. I've gotten this idea from my favourite fashion Youtuber, Audrey Coyne.

How I long-term plan my wardrobe is simple. First, I'd go on Pinterest or Instagram, saving any outfit inspirations that speaks to me. I'd review them when I'm free, removing anything that doesn't really resonate with me, and noting down the common characteristics of outfits I seem to gravitate towards, and list it down on my wishlist. And I'd try to think if I have anything similar in my closet, or any other article of clothing that'd go well with it.

A lot of thoughts are put into this, but long-term planning my wardrobe would ensure that I buy clothes I really want, or I have something to go with the clothing (rather than going on a spiral of "I need x to go with my new y!")

3. Create experience for myself and others Initiate at least one event per month

I'm trying to support more alumni that are organising events.
For the month of June, I've co-hosted:
- Jawi writing class
- Stock Investing Workshop
I realised...I really missed hanging out with people

4. Read at least two books per month
Books I've read in the month of June
The Authenticity Project by Clara Pooley
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo
I've Been Meaning to Tell You by David Chariandy

5. Doing a monthly review of my goals
On it :)

6. Do a monthly/weekly review of my spendings

Strings of Dolphins RM8
Trandescantia Nannouk RM50
Potting and Cactus Soil RM16

Baking supplies RM46+RM30.60+RM47 = RM123.60 
wow, didn't know I've spent so much until I tabulated them altogether.
But it makes me calm, by baking, and I love to see how baked goods can put a smile on others

Reusable face mask RM25
Since I have to go out almost every day now, might as well get a reusable one rather than buying it and throwing away

Earphone RM11
Cause my old one spoiled.

Clothing RM159 (Four pairs of shorts RM39 + Lingerie RM120)
Need them so it's okay!

Terracotta pots RM10
Impulse buy.

7. Learn the art of note-taking Carry a notebook and pen wherever I go and jot down notes systematically
I struggle to create a SMART goal for this. I've been listening to podcast when I drive to work and sometimes I hear some really good idea - just that I can only jot it down after I've arrived at my destination.

8. Try out something new each week
Week 1: Carrot cake and granola

Technically these are not new! But I haven't baked them in years!
Week 2: Oatmeal cookie
again, these were my go-to, fool-proof recipes. But I haven't baked them in a loooong while. So.

Week 3: Peanut butter cookies

Week 4: Butter pecan cookies

10. Write more at least 100 words per day (not including what I write at work)
Trying to make this goal as obvious as possible - by always leaving a blogger tab on.

When I don't feel like writing, I'd just jot down notes in point form - anything at all, as long as I am writing. I'm also trying to write a review for every book I read

By doing a little every day, you can get a lot accomplished.

11. Log down news article I've read and jot down my thoughts about it, ie reading with purpose
Sometimes, I'm too tired to do so. I'm trying to highlight/jot down notable quotes using book reader on my laptop.

New goals this month

12. Curate at least two content on @pot_tosynthesis every week (Stories/Post)

I've recently created an Instagram account dedicated to all things plants - be it sharing plant care tips, or sharing about places to get plants etc.

To be honest, half of the time I feel doubtful and insecure about it - are my sentences grammatically correct? Does my content make sense at all? Is it easy to understand?

etc. etc.

However, if I continue to worry about whether my content is good enough, and kept letting it hold me back, I'll probably not do anything at all.

A thing begun is half done.

13. Set at least two little goals every day
I started this on 16 June - and my goals are as little it can get. Examples of goals I've set:

- Take photos of commute
- Bake cookies
- Text Closing the Gap mentee
- Listen to at least one podcast
- Reshare alumni board events

It makes me more appreciative of my commute to work. Truth to be told, I've been feeling absolute dread for returning to my workplace - I became too complacent and comfortable staying home.

While taking photos of my commute, I realise I have got a new found appreciation towards my surrounding

Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Gua Sireh, Baling, Kedah

Do Now: Name me some caves in Kedah/Perlis in Malaysia.


If you're able to name a few caves, good job, and here's a virtual clap for you. 

If you can't, well, I was guilty of this too - not knowing caves beyond the famous few caves in Sarawak (because we had to memorize it for our Geography test back in school!) and perhaps Batu Caves in Selangor and Gua Tempurung in Perak because these are rather popular tourist attraction. 

Little did I know that Malaysia has so much more caves, beyond Sarawak or Perak, that is truly worth visiting. One of them is Gua Sireh, a cave located in Baling district of Kedah.

Sneak peak of the interior of Gua Sireh - my amateur photography skills (+ low quality gears :p) couldn't capture the beauty of Gua Sireh! 

My friends and I came to know about Gua Sireh through the friendly people running Rumah Ndoi, a guesthouse run by friendly locals located about 20 minutes drive from Gua Sireh. We really wouldn't have known otherwise - a quick search on the internet about places to visit in Kedah typically just show places in Langkawi, which is a pity, because Kedah has so much more, besides Langkawi, to offer!

All visitors are required to register and hire a guide in order to visit Gua Sireh. Pre-booking in advance is not required. After registering, you'll be given a tag with lanyard and introduced to your guide, who are locals who live around the area. The entrance fee as of December 2019 is as below. There is no minimum number of people for a tour as far as I know.

Gua Sireh is a dry cave (ie no waddling in water involved). However, like any other caves, there are some parts where it'll be slippery, especially if you visit during the rainy season. You can opt to rent a pair of Kampung Adidas (rubber shoes) here for RM7.

Kampung Adidas do get uncomfortable after walking for a while though, be sure to bring a pair of thick socks if you intend to rent one.

From the ticketing booth, one has to walk about 200m (of mostly flat terrain, don't worry) to reach the entrance of Gua Sireh.

There were lots of hermit crab-like shells at the entrance of the caves. Our guide told us that it might be because Gua Sireh was once submerged underwater!

And off we go into the caves
Our friendly guide showed us some unique rock formation that resembles animals. These formations were formed naturally, through decades of dissolution by rainwater.
Our guide was one of the most enthusiastic guide ever, he kept offering to help us take photos :p even at the entrance!
After walking for about 100m, we were greeted by this...marvelous cave system. The cave system was....spectacular beyond words. Me being a noob photographer was unable to capture the true beauty of this cave. Honestly, these photos do no justice to the beauty of Gua Sireh!

Mother nature never fails to amaze :) I wished if I were a better photographer honestly. I really have to emphasis again that my photos failed to capture even a fraction of the beauty of the caves!
Yes, there are props lying around the cave to satisfy your photo needs :p

If you're wondering how we managed to get decent-ish lighting for the photos..
There are...back-up lightings around the caves to cater for your photo-taking needs. How considerate, honestly LOL!

There were lots of interesting sights around the caves, but I was unable to capture those beautiful sights using my phone camera. I'll just include some video snippets below :D

Another major attraction to me in Gua Sireh was...seeing bat poop (I'm not even kidding, watch the video snippet below)
Yes, apparently...bat poop is shiny. 
And this is one unique rock, that produces sound that resembles a gong!

The tour took us about 1.5-2 hours. It really depends on your speed, and how many photos you want to take :p since the guide is really enthusiastic about photo taking! You'll be travelling in a loop - ie you'll be exiting where you enter.

No strenuous climbing or crawling was required :) So yes, it is suitable for kids to visit too!

Before I end this post, I'd like to emphasis once again that I really have compromised the beauty of Gua Sireh with my sub-par photography skills, and Kedah has much more than Langkawi to offer :p

Gua Sireh
Kampung Padang Che Mas, 
09100 Baling, Kedah

Tuesday, 9 June 2020

Aw Pottery, Ayer Hitam, Johor

BACK IN those days when I used to teach in Johor, trailing along the Johor's leg of the North-South highway felt like a chore - that particular stretch of road takes about 2-2.5 hours to reach from end-to-end (North-most point of Johor to South-most point, vice versa) and the terrain around it, let's just say it is somewhat monotonous, or maybe because I trudge that stretch of the highway way too often, it feels somewhat...too familiar.

And thus began my search for interesting places to stopover during my drive down South to Johor/up North when leaving Johor.  

One of my favourite stopovers is at Ayer Hitam, a quaint little town located just about an hour's drive from Johor Bahru, conveniently right off the exit of North-South Highway. Ayer Hitam is also known as the ceramic town of Malaysia, due to the prolific number of ceramic factories there. Yes, you could purchase pretty and affordable ceramic products at this quaint little town!

One place you definitely shouldn't miss in Ayer Hitam is Aw Pottery. Aw Pottery is a pottery studio founded by the late Mr Aw Eng-Kwang, a renowned potter/sculptor, back in the late-1940.  Some of Mr Aw's handcrafted masterpieces are on display at our National Museum as well as the Singapore National Gallery

Mr Aw was an immigrant from the Teochew province in China. He started off making latex cup after he's settled down in Malaysia, following the latex boom back in those days, and later (somehow, somewhat, I'm not too sure about the details) developed into an art center. His talent was recognised after he joined the First Sculpture Exhibition in Singapore in 1967, as the popularity of Aw's Pottery began to soar.

In 1980, Mr Aw and his wife decided to retire in United States, and they've since passed on. Aw Pottery's faded to a dormant stage after his passing until Aw Lee Lang, the youngest daughter of Mr Aw decided to return to Malaysia in 2013 to revive Aw's Pottery. She gave the studio a major facelift and the place is now refreshed with a new look and renewed energy. 
Aw Pottery is now open for visitors and is free to visit :) So when you're there, do take time to walk around the compound and appreciate the little things around it, especially the garden. Slow down and admire the plants propped in beautifully crafted pots. Pay attention to each of their unique characteristics and intrinsic details.

When I was doing my research about Aw's Pottery, one comment that was frequently left by visitors is to visit their toilet...now you might be like me, wondering what good is there visiting a toilet? I mean, how great can a toilet be? Perhaps it'll be something like Japan? Maybe?

My jaws dropped when I saw the toilet.

Trust me, you'll never see a toilet like this anywhere.
The toilet was...absolutely stunning. Gorgeous.

I was blown away by the intricate detailing of the walls, which features fragments of ceramic pieces
Walk into the toilets and wow, I was blown away. The walls, flooring, bench....everything. Was just so intricately put together.
I am absolutely NOT a toilet selfie person, but I really couldn't help it
And another one outside. Just look at that healthy & bushy Pegaga (Pennywort) plant there!
Visitors are encouraged to leave a donation for the upkeep & maintenance of the toilet.

There's also a mini museum you could visit, featuring some of the works of the late Mr Aw
Aw's Pottery sells an array of porcelain products - from flower pots, decorative ornaments, kitchenware, candlelight holder...to anything you can imagine!
I had so much fun scouring through the compound! It felt as though I was in a treasure island :p

I could spend an entire afternoon there, scouring for pots. Everything was unique and affordable :)
Also, you may visit their kiln, which is a chamber used to bake ceramics/pottery. Apparently, this is one of the longest kilns in the world. Kilns are slowly going extinct as ceramic-making methods are slowly being replaced with more modern techniques.

Aw Pottery do offer pottery classes and workshops, or group tours too. The arrangement has to be made in advanced

Aw Pottery Studio
13 Kampung Macap

Contact Number: 07-754 1476
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Artist/Aw-pottery-Malaysia-305346809640382/
Website: https://www.awpotterystudio.net/

Operating Hours:
8.30am-5pm, Friday to Tuesday
Closed on Wednesdays & Thursdays
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