Saturday, March 9, 2013

Journey to the "East" (Penang) and Life...?

After a short trip back to my home state, Penang, for Chinese New Year- finally, my real holiday began for 2 weeks. It's easy to imagine the life of a foreign student in Korea, life practically revolves around academics, work, going home for holidays or outing with friends.

Pic from the Kek Lok Si Temple in Penang
Fast forward, my winter vacation is now over and life as a student officially begins...


Last December up to the last week year 2012, I was quite busy. 12/12/12 (12th December 2012) was a memorable one for me because I remembered not sleeping revising for my end term exam. While others were celebrating the once-in-a lifetime occasion, I was preparing for an exam. It was not because I hadn't done any revision beforehand. (Nevertheless, some of my Koreans friends I knew rarely sleep during the exam weeks.)

I dislike obtaining average results in the subjects I love very much. I remembered very well that day because I drank 4 mugs of tea and 2 cups of coffee that night for the first time, and I had a huge headache afterwards.

Translation: "If living is just for the sake of living, the pigs in the forest are also living. If working for the sake of working, even the monkeys work". A very inspiring quote by an Indonesian writer and let's all live a meaningful life.
University life is about learning to set your goals (achieve good results, etc), time management, and most importantly, learn as many as you can. I set my short term goals to obtain good results in these papers.

In the end, I came out top of my class (I was quite surprised too!) for the subjects of immunology and molecular biology. Hehe. Ambition can make the impossible possible. In other words, my late-night "sacrifice" works.

My third year in university was more about choosing courses I like or something which I am able to learn. I also took golf lessons last semester and it was really fun. (In this final year, I will most likely be taking tests required for either graduate school admission or employment and travel.)    

The following week, winter lectures began. I took 2 lectures (the max ㅠㅠ) from noon till evening everyday. Here, our university offered classes conducted by foreign professors and I took a lecture (Organizational Behavior) conducted by a professor from Luxembourg.

The other was chemistry. I always have problems in chemistry since coming to Korea... Chemistry I, II, Biochemistry and Analytical Chemistry. 화학이 있으면 내 세상에 참 어둡다... ㅋㅋ

Like most first year science lectures in Korea, the classes, exams, books and lecture materials were all in Korean. It was my battlefield again and I felt I have only myself to blame. 

Winter classes were extremely exhausting, it sucked the life out of me. With little time I had after squeezing in assignments, home works, KNU Times, gym and other commitments, what's left was for sleeping.

Even though, I had struggled a lot, life as a student is very rewarding. As students, we can afford to make mistakes and failure is not something to be frowned upon. Failing when we start working seems to be another story. MORAL: ENJOY YOUR LIFE IN UNIVERSITY!!!


After my winter lectures and never ending KNU Times meetings (my uni's English magazine and I work there), it was my trip back home for Chinese New Year. For convenience sake, I chose MAS (Malaysia Airlines System) over the legendary Air Asia because it delivers my luggage directly to Penang without having to claim the luggage at KL.

Suggestions on things to bring back: Seaweeds, Korean rice wine (more variety here), ginseng (only if you like it), Korean cosmetics (imported ones are EXPENSIVE!), face masks (CHEAP!), and all the girly stuffs.

WTH!  How can my luggage be misplaced? 
The trip back home was not without any drama. My luggage was misplaced on the flight back home. With nothing but only the clothing on my back, I had to shop around for some clothing. Most of my clothing in Penang were either given away or thrown. They were either too worn out or too big for me now. Cannot be naked lah... have pride... have pride... ㅋㅋㅋ


I'm home. At last... I'm home...

Penang is one of the most live-able cities in Asia and coupled with its best food, friendly people and nice weather, this little state is one of the best places to live and work.

Starved from the delicious Malay sambal and Indian curry in Korea, without fail I would eat them almost everyday when I was back in Penang. Maybe, just maybe... I may have Indian or Malay blood. Malay and Indian food are really sedapppp! (delicious)...

(Halfway eating the) Black Pepper Venison. Yummy!
I can never not enjoy eating Malay or Indian food from morning till night. The smell of the spices and curry powder, in a cacophony of sound as customers shouted for their orders, such experience was indeed a memorable one. Penang food or Malaysian food generally, is world class, far more varied and delicious than Korea.         

Nevertheless, to be fair, Malaysia is a multicultural society so comparing to an almost mono-ethnic Korea is like comparing apples and oranges. I like Korean food too :)

Piping hot Indian Samosas...
If you happen to visit Penang, one of the tastiest Indian Samosa can be found at a small stall located in Little India. Located on the block right opposite of the Kuan Yin (Goddess of Mercy) Temple along the Masjid Kapitan Keling Road. During my numerous visit there, the vendor was constantly frying pieces after pieces of samosas.

To my surprise, the piping hot samosas were almost never left to cool down. Customers were already lining up the moment the samosas touched the tray to purchase a bag of delicious Indian snack.

RM 75 to spend, paltry sum but it's free! :)
Another highlight of my winter vacation in my home was my first casino visit on a cruise ship! I was quite excited when I was given some free chips (RM 75 for first time player to the casino) to "gamble". Maybe I might even ended up with enough money for a brand new Tissot watch. :P

I had unrealistic goal but gambling at a casino changes your perception about money and the game of chance. Money does indeed doubled at the baccarat table but frankly, beginner's luck won't last long.

Breakfast on a ship.
Even though, the money I bet was not my money, having grandmother at my side was equally annoying (and entertaining at some point). She will say... "Come on, stop being a gambler like.... Let's go home... (Home to where? Am I have to jump over the ship and swim back? Ah...)"... So I stopped. No more free tissot watch for me... Huhuhu...

I will never be a gambler (touch wood). I don't believe in the game of luck like lottery but I believe there's no harm playing (with the free chips given) after paying so much money to be on the cruise ship. That's what most people on a cruise ship do anyway. Mathematically speaking, baccarat is the only game where the player and banker have equal chance of winning.

The probability of winning at other tables in a casino is low because there are too many choices when placing a bet. In baccarat, you bet either for the banker or the player (betting for draw is another option though). If you place the winning bet, your bet will be doubled. Simple as that.

Un-break my heart...?
My grandma likes song especially the oldies. Instead of playing at the casino, she would be strolling around the hall listening to musicians and bands playing their songs. I am not a fan of oldies so... casino seemed to be more fun. Sigh... This was how I spent my first night of CNY in the ship.

Liqueur chocolate - I prefer Anthon Berg's but couldn't find it at the airport.
Anyway, I was in Penang for only around two weeks. On the fifth day of CNY, I was already on the plane flying back to Korea. On a side note, I was so fortunate because MAS allows the passengers to carry additional 10 kilos of luggage starting from the day of my departure.

Due to it, my luggage was filled to the brim weighing around 28.5 kilos. Most of it was filled with food. Typical Malaysian mah... :)


Before and after
Clockwise from top left: Tuna and eggs, Broccoli, Almond pudding with lychees, Curry chicken
Last week in Korea, I happened to be motivated to cook some dishes. For the first time in my adult life, I managed to churn up stir-fry broccoli with mock duck, tuna and eggs, curry chicken (it was too complex so had to rely on curry in can ^^) and almond pudding with lychees for desert. This was how I spent my free time during the vacation.


My favorite snack from the Philippines- Goldilocks Polvoron. I received it from my Filipino friend every time he is back from his hometown. It is one of the best snack I've ever eaten from the Philippines. (If you happen to find it here in Korea, I would really appreciate if you can tell me where it is.)      


An intrusion by more than two hundred of people on the East Coast of Sabah recently sparked a debate on whether the state Sabah belongs to the Sultanate of Sulu or the Federation of Malaysia. Resource-rich Sabah has for long been a land of envy among many Malaysians living in the peninsula. However, because it is located away from the capital, many West Malaysians tend not to care much about it.

Generally speaking, states in the Borneo island like Sabah and Serawak have one of the lowest population density in Malaysia. Due to the vastness of the land unlike in the peninsula, development cannot be spread out benefiting all people. Hence, discontentment can arise.

Before sounding like an arm-chair general or strategist, like most peace-loving Malaysians, the "invasion" by the so-called followers of the Sulu "Sultan" is unjustified. Any sane Malaysians will always agree if the use of arms against her citizens by any groups, it must be responded back severely. Even if the land is your property, how can you barge into someone's house with a gun and evicting/threatening them?

"Interesting" comments in CNN

Relying on history was not always the means of the creation of a country. The decision lies with the citizens living in the area, in this case, the Sabahans. In compliance with the principle of self determination, Cobbold Commission was created to hear the views of the people of Sabah and Serawak on whether they wish to join the Federation of Malaysia in 1963. An overwhelming majority wanted to be part of the federation.

Nevertheless, regardless whether there was a referendum or not (like reported on most Philippines medias), if a referendum was to be held now, I am pretty sure they would most likely be part of Malaysia than to be under the Sulu "Sultanate". A country is viable only if the citizens agree to be under your administration. By mere claims and sending of an armed group, it was an intrusion to the national sovereignty.

Life of Pi
And what is the best way to deal if negotiation with the armed men to leave peacefully failed (even after three weeks)? You guess. 새학기 새시작~! Have a great weekend aight!

No comments:

You might also like..

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
"This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning" ~Winston Churchill~