This blog is to dedicate something to everyone.

It’s been a while since my last post, hasn’t it? I guess my blogging frequency is about as consistent as Edinburgh weather, but that’s not the point of my post. Today I’m inspired to talk about Chinese New Year hot pot, or as we call it back in Malaysia, “steamboat”.

Why steamboat though? I always thought it was because the pot looked like a boat, and there was steam coming out of it, but say “steamboat” anywhere else in the world and all you’d get is blank stares. Hot pot makes more sense I guess, but it’ll always be steamboat in my heart.

To start off, I love steamboat, I really do. My highest frequency was 5 steamboats in a month, which my Malaysian friends think is really quite a lot. Steamboat is great; first there’s a tasty broth which may or may not be spicy, or there can be two broths (which is even better), and then there’s tons of stuff that you can throw into the broth, and then you wait and eat. Most people eat the stuff with sauces, but I like the original taste.

I’ve even got a proper procedure for eating steamboat, typically anyway. I like to start with throwing some veges in there, and mushrooms, to enhance the soup’s flavour. Next is the random steamboat stuffs like fishballs, crabsticks, and those… white and brown things that I really like. Picture for reference.

 

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These things. That’s the Chinese name right there, but I really don’t know what they’re called in English. Regardless I love these things, they’re my favourite steamboat ingredient. But I digress; back to my steamboat process. The next thing is meats or fish or other seafood like mussels. Meats cook real quick so you just gotta watch them. And repeat the last two steps until you’re almost full (though at this point most people would have given up but I’d still be going strong), then in goes the noodles. The soup would be amazing by now. My cousins all love yee mee, but I’m a total meehoon person. I’d eat one or two rounds of noodles with soup, and that is usually the end of the meal for me. Unless someone throws in an egg and makes me eat some, but steamboat egg is a real messy thing.

Ah, steamboat. I can eat it on any occasion really – on my birthday, when we go to Cameron Highlands, or just randomly when we feel like it. Now, the link to Chinese New Year – in my family, eating steamboat for the reunion dinner on Chinese New Year eve is a tradition. We’d go to my grandfather’s place, and my aunt will make a really delicious chicken/pork soup base, and then the fun and deliciousness will begin. It’s something I really look forward to every CNY. And it’s my last memory of CNY back home, actually.

I’ve not been home for four consecutive Chinese New Years, the consequence of studying overseas. For my European friends, CNY is akin to your Christmas, and it’s our time for family get-togethers. In fact, there’s so much the two celebrations have in common. They’re both big celebrations, you’d get gifts/money (in CNY that’s only if you’re not married though), you go shopping beforehand (gifts for Christmas, new clothes for CNY), the eves are a big deal as well, and you get to reunite with the relatives you miss (or you get stuck with the annoying ones). And most importantly, there’s so much food. SO MUCH FOOD.

That said, my last CNY was in 2012, when I was still in A-Levels. If I think back to that time, I probably didn’t know yet where my future would take me. I was still stubbornly aiming for architecture, which in hindsight, was clearly a wrong decision. I didn’t even know that I would be studying in the UK, so I guess I didn’t treasure it enough. Who knew that it’d be my last CNY home for a long, long time? I don’t remember the details of the day, exactly who was there, exactly what was eaten; but I do remember the warmth, the deliciousness, and the joy all round.

So much has happened since that last CNY steamboat. I’d like to think I’m more festive than most – I’ve spent all of my CNYs here in UK with friends, or people I consider second family. I actually remember exactly how I spent each of the four CNY eves here.

Second year – CNY 2013. Our seniors booked a Chinese restaurant in Tollcross and invited the masses. It was like a massive Malaysian Chinese CNY party. There were three tables in all. I wore an old-ish yellow shirt, because I read somewhere that yellow was the lucky colour for that year, and I didn’t have any new shirts. The food was… okay I guess. Clearly not memorable enough for me. But it was my first year there and I was surrounded by new friends and a new environment, which was cool.

Third year – CNY 2014. My group of friends booked a large table in Imperial Palace, and the whole gang was there, plus a couple of seniors. Food was much better than the year before, and I think it was cheaper as well. They ordered a whole lot of stuff, like fish, three roasts, etc. I was now surrounded by my closest friends in UK, plus… some other people I was acquainted with, but mostly my closest friends. Like Jag and Boon Ho. Really kind of miss them now. 😦

Fourth year – CNY 2015. I wanted to spend my reunion dinner with who I considered my second family at that point, my flatmates Angie and Shaunee, and my boyfriend Kevin. I was so gung ho about it, and Angie was more than happy to comply. We did a steamboat in our flat. I cooked up a soup base, and Angie and I went round buying all sorts of steamboat ingredients, including loads of meat and seafood etc. It was great, almost like being home for CNY, except I had to go through the effort of making the soup, heh.

And then this year, MSc – CNY 2016. My reunion dinner was spent with people that I never knew years ago, with people that I never expected to know or meet, but am glad that I did. I’ve taken up a part time job, and I feel like I spend so much time there that it’s part of my identity now. And my colleagues there really feel like my second family, almost like siblings/cousins, and for the older ones, like my uncles and aunties. Everyone’s just so friendly – I guess that’s the hospitality business for you. But CNY this year was fun as well, hot pot at a restaurant, and I guess I got to flaunt my appetite for steamboat, which was amusing. 😛

What about next year? Well, CNY 2017, I will be home again. I’ve been away from home for too long, I’ve missed four CNYs too many. I’ll make sure that within my best possible abilities, I never miss a CNY reunion dinner back home again. Sure it’s fun celebrating with friends and new people I meet (including some pretty good looking people 😉 ), but ultimately, Chinese New Year is about family. There’s a reason why it’s called REUNION dinner. It’s the time where the whole family comes home, gets together, and be a family again. And it’s a feeling I really miss.

I can’t wait to be home for Chinese New Year hot pot again.

ONE.

“I do not like this! I absolutely HATE it! Do it again!” yells Jeff to his personal secretary, throwing the documents at her. She nods in fear and quickly makes her exit.

“I don’t even know how you managed to get your degree with this level of efficiency!” He yells after her. Jeff shakes his head. Why are all his secretaries so useless?

“Jeff, I don’t think you should speak to your secretary that way,” says Lyra gently, entering the President’s office.

“How many times must I tell you, Lyra, address me as ‘Jeffrey’. Also I’m a very busy man, so if you have nothing important to report, kindly…”

“Jeff,” Lyra interrupts with such sudden authority that Jeff falls silent. She continues, “I don’t care what you call yourself, Jeffery or Jeff. It doesn’t matter. But I do know that somewhere within you, there’s still the Jeff we all used to know and love, the always cheerful happy-go-lucky music-loving friend. Jeff was the best friend anyone could ever ask for. But since the election…No one knows you anymore, Jeff.” There are tears in Lyra’s eyes.

“It’s only been a few years and you’ve changed so much…You have become rude and obnoxious! You don’t care about how people feel anymore; you don’t even care about the things and people you used to love and care about! So what if you’re the youngest president ever in history? Do you even remember why you ran for the position in the first place? Normal 24-year-olds still hang out with friends; they aren’t…robots controlled by power and paperwork!”

Lyra composes herself and takes a deep breath. Looking directly into Jeff’s eyes, she says, “Find a new personal assistant, Jeff. I don’t work for strangers.” With that, Lyra exits the office, eyes glistening with tears.

Jeff rubs his forehead. What just happened with Lyra? Has he really changed that much? There is only one way to find out. Jeff presses a button on the intercom to his secretary.

“Melanie? Quit your snivelling. Arrange a 3 o’clock appointment with Miss Margaret at the Water Garden Café. You can find her number in the phone book. She prefers to be known as Meg.”

At 3 o’ clock sharp, a black limousine pulls up in front of the café. A beautiful girl with her curly hair dropping over her shoulder looks up and watches as Jeff makes his way towards her.

“Hi, Margaret,” he says, smiling as he takes the seat next to her.

“Hey yourself, Mr. President,” Meg says, smiling a gorgeous smile.

“How’s life? I haven’t seen you in a while.”

“Ah, life is good. I’m doing a cello solo in Japan next Friday, and the pay is absolutely magnifique. I’ll be able to buy myself a house in no time,” Meg smiles.

“I thought you played the guitar,” Jeff wonders.

“The world goes round, Jeff, and people change,” Meg says mysteriously.

“Margaret, you…you’ve become…much more beautiful.”

“Thanks, and you’re still you. How many watts have Lyra been rating your smile?”

“She stopped at gazillion. She doesn’t know what the unit after gazillion is,” replies Jeff, smiling that gazillion watt smile. “And I have come here because of Lyra.”

A moment of awkward silence. “No. Way. You are going out with Lyra??!!” asks Meg, gasping.

“Er…No. It’s just a bit odd having your personal assistant suddenly break down in your office and say she quits because she thinks you changed.”

“Ah, I admit that’s a little bit odd. And how may I be of your service, Mr. President?”

“Have I changed, Margaret?”

Meg looks Jeff straight into the eye. “Yes.” Jeff looks down at his plate. “You’ve grown taller,” Meg adds. Both of them laugh. “Plus you called me ‘Margaret’, I mean, who does that?” Another round of laughter.

“Seriously, though,” Meg says after they stopped laughing. “You’ve become a lot less warm. A lot less human. You’ve become a mindless President zombie. You don’t care anymore, not about your friends nor your purpose for politics in the first place. Er…you’re not gonna chop my head off for saying that, are you?”

Jeff laughs. “Of course not. Everyone needs some constructive criticism sometimes; I accept mine.”

“Oh, alright, it’s good that you think that way,” Meg smiles gently.

Jeff adds, “And then again, capital punishment is currently still illegal. Of course that could be easily changed…”

“Jeff!” Meg rolls her eyes.

“I’m joking!” Jeff holds his hands up in surrender. Meg laughs.

“By the way, Jeff. I suggest you go and look for Wally. He opened a private detective agency,” says Meg, updating Jeff.

“Er, that’s cool. What is his agency called?” Jeff asks.

“Go downtown and look for the one with a flying squirrel poster on the front door,” Meg says, winking. “You can’t miss it.”

Jeff arrives at Wally’s agency. He raises an eyebrow. That’s not a squirrel, he thinks, that’s a chipmunk. A poster of Alvin and the Chipmunks in an aeroplane is posted on the door.

“Hi, Jeff,” says a cold, icy voice behind him, sending chills down his spine. Jeff immediately turns around and comes face to face with a tall, hooded figure, smoking a pipe. “Let’s go in,” says Wally coolly.

Inside the building, Wally’s robots and machines serve them refreshments. Jeff opens his mouth to tell Wally about the mistake between squirrels and chipmunks but Wally beats him to it.

“A squirrel is a cheerful, active creature,” Wally says coldly. “A chipmunk is very much like a squirrel, but it chops wood. It works hard. Squirrels just pick the nuts from the ground or pluck them from the tree. Chipmunks work. I’m not a squirrel boy any longer, Jeff.”

Jeff doesn’t think Wally’s explanation makes any sense, but he decided against arguing. Instead he comments, “You lost your ability to have fun, Walter.”

“The almighty President Jeffrey decides to address me by my full name now, what a surprise.” Wally replies. He leans forward and whispers, “You lost your own humour as well, Mr. President.”

They sip their drinks in an uncomfortable silence. Just then, Jeff notices Wally’s metallic left hand. He is about to ask but Wally interrupts. “Five years ago, I sent you a message. I told you that I had an accident on the field five years back. It was nasty.” Wally pauses, recalling bitter memories. “Meg and Lyra cared. You did not.”

Jeff recalls the incident. Lyra was begging him to go and see Wally but he could not be bothered. Now he regretted it. “I…I thought when you guys said accident…I assumed you meant some minor accident, like a little cut or something,” stammers Jeff. “I didn’t know…”

“A friend who only cares about his friend when his friend is in big trouble is not a true friend,” quotes Wally. “We used to be best friends, Jeff. Brothers. When you didn’t come, I lost it. I became a machine, working all the time, like a chipmunk. I work, I get rich, but at what cost?” Wally says bitterly.

Jeff thinks Wally’s words over when he returns to his office. He thinks about Lyra, the way she cried as she went out of his office. He thinks about Meg, her comments about how he changed. Jeff regrets everything.

“Dear God,” Jeff starts a prayer. “If You could give me my friends back, I am willing to give up everything.”

“Sir,” says Jeff’s secretary, entering his office. “You received an invitation from a lady named Puan Chee, sir.” She hands him a card.

An hour later, a limousine parks outside an abandoned warehouse. Jeff enters the warehouse, memories flashing in his head.

Flash! Meg’s confident smile, Lyra’s giggles as she gave him thumbs up, Wally’s success in catching his drumsticks, his own young and eager voice, many years ago, “Rock it, guys!”

Flash! Joy! The warmth of his friends’ embrace! “WE WON!!!”

“Wanna experience that all over again?” asks Lyra, breaking his thoughts as she appears from behind the stage. Jeff awakes from his daydream as Lyra takes her place behind the keyboard.

“I knew you’d come, Jeff,” says Meg, smiling as she picks up her guitar.

Wally appears. He stares hard at Jeff. Jeff lowers his head. “I’m sorry, Walter. I’m sorry I’ve been a jerk to you; I’m sorry I’ve been a jerk to all of you, but know this. No matter what happens, rain or shine, our friendship will stand strong. Although I have once let power and fortune take control over me, I PROMISE it will never happen again.”

“It’s all about the journey, Jeff,” says Puan Chee, putting a hand on his shoulder. “Your friends were always here for you throughout the journey of your life. Your eyes were blinded by fortune; your ears were covered by power. Now, boy, open them, and you will see that friends are much more important than either.”

Jeff turns to smile at Puan Chee. “Thank you, Puan Chee, for those wise words. Thank you all for always being there for me. Please give me a chance to change.” Jeff looks Wally in the eye. “Please?”

After a moment of silence, Wally says, “Welcome back to the team, Jeff. On the condition that you call me Wally again.” His unfamiliar metallic fingers grip his drumsticks.

Jeff smiles. He swings up the stage, falling. Lyra giggles hysterically and Meg laughs. Jeff blushes, picks himself up, sweeps the dirt off his shirt, and yells, “Rock it, guys!”

ONE – END.

Yesterday, our group of four went to visit Puan Chee – the first time in a very long while. It’s induced so much nostalgia, and it reminded me of something I wrote a long time ago, when I was in Form 3… A series of short stories, which I entitled “Happy Four Friends”, the name supposedly inspired by Happy Tree Friends but once I’ve watched an episode…. yeah. So I’ve changed the title to “The Four Friends”.

I’ve only written three of the short stories so far, and I thought I might as well upload them one at a time, and then complete the collection, supposedly containing about 20 or so stories, but I might change it to 10. The plan was to write the series featuring each of the four friends facing different temptations and challenges to their friendship, and overcoming it especially with support and wise advice from Puan Chee.

So here is the first of the bunch, the prologue story if you will, where it all started.

Note: I have not edited the story at all (save for proofreading), so this is what I wrote when I was 15.

 

PROLOGUE

“It’s time to rock the old and stinky building which used to be a warehouse but is currently used as a music hall for our Battle of the Bands contest down!” yells Jeff in excitement, as he does his trademark move—swinging up onto the stage to his place of lead singer.

“You know, people usually say, ‘It’s time to rock the house’, Jeff. No one really cares about what this place was or is used for,” says Meg, tuning her guitar.

Jeff smiles. “Haha, I know, I’m just randoming.”

“And yet you say you’re not random,” Lyra says, giggling. She stands behind the keyboard, warming up her fingers.

Wally climbs onto the stage. “Guess what, guys, we’re the last band! Right after ‘B.L.I.N.K’,” he announces, passing them a paper.

“No. WAY. B.L.I.N.K.? Ohmahgawd, ohmahgawd! Chia!” Lyra squeals. The others roll their eyes.

“Even I am cuter than Chia,” teases Wally.

“Do you need me to buy a mirror for you?” Lyra teases back. The others leave it at that. Lyra’s obsession for Chia is out of their control.

The fella’ in charge asks them to stand by. “May we rock,” mumbles Meg.

“Guess who?” A pair of hands covers Meg’s eyes.

“Leo?”

“Hey, how did you know?” asks Leo, removing his hands. Meg, Lyra, Jeff and Wally look around. Their entire fan club – 3A2, are crowding the backstage! Even their beloved Puan Chee, who usually dislikes rock music, is there for them!

“Good luck,” says Puan Chee. They smile. Puan Chee turns to Wally. “Take care of your image on stage, boy. Don’t drop your drumsticks; don’t even think about throwing them. As the saying goes, no matter how well the squirrel jumps…”

“In the end it flies into the air,” finishes Wally. They both laugh.

The fan club returns to their seats in the audience. “And now,” announces the emcee, “For our last but not least hot shot rock band…”

Meg peeps through the curtains. Lyra joins her.

“There sure are a lot of people,” mumbles Meg.

“Relax, Meg. Don’t forget we rock,” assures Lyra, smiling broadly.

“Do you see Tyler anywhere in the audience?” wonders Meg aloud.

“I doubt it. That cousin of mine is probably at home tackling another computer virus or something. Yikes, the curtains are parting!” Lyra dashes back to her keyboard.

Jeff walks over to the microphone. “Hello, people!” And the crowd goes WILD!! Jeff smiles his million watt smile and girls sigh dreamily, thinking, “If only he was a bit taller…”

“We dedicate our next song to our fan club, 3A2, especially Puan Chee! You rock, Puan Chee!” Then, Jeff turns to his three best friends. Meg smiles confidently, Lyra gives him the thumbs up, and Wally attempts to throw his drumstick. There it goes……He catches it!! After so many attempts, he finally catches it! Wally smiles up at Jeff, radiating confidence and satisfaction.

“Rock it, guys!”

Drum smash from Wally. Meg goes wild with her guitar solo. Lyra’s fingers dance on the keyboard. Jeff is practically yelling yet amazingly in tune.

In an hour, it was all over. The audience loves them! They prepared five encores…And played each of them twice! Their favourite encore song is the 3A2 song, composed by the four friends. Every 3A2sian begged for more.

“We rocked, didn’t we?” asks Lyra.

“We rocked, are still rocking, and will continue to rock!’ exclaims Jeff while busy signing autographs. Jeff’s charm never wears off. Suddenly Lyra squeals in delight. “Chia!! He’s heading towards us!! Aaaahhhhh!!!! Do I have lipstick on my face?”

“Lyra, you NEVER wear lipstick,” comments Meg.

Lyra grins. “Just checking. Aaaahhhhh!!!!” Lyra yells as she hops over to talk to Chia.

“Nice job, Wally. Your squirrel really flew today,” comments Puan Chee, patting Wally on the shoulder.

“Puan Chee, squirrels don’t fly,” Wally retorts, smiling. His good friend Peter appears out of nowhere and attempts to boo him, but his attempt fails.

“Better luck next time, gay lord!” Wally teases, laughing. Peter laughs along. “Gay means happy, Wally. I’m a happy lord!”

Both boys laugh heartily as they walk off in search of chocolate ice-cream and watermelons. Meg is busy talking to her good friend Leo.

“By the way, Meg, Tyler wanted to apologise for not coming. He said he was busy fighting computer virus,” Leo put in.

Meg raises an eyebrow. “Tyler wants to apologize to me?”

“Ah. Let’s just say he didn’t specify,” Leo says, nodding to himself. Meg’s cell phone vibrates. Meg glances at it. One message received: Tyler.

Meg laughs in disbelief. She reads the message. Hey, Meg, I’m really sorry I couldn’t make it. Wish you guys good luck and may you guys rock!

Meg raises an eyebrow. She replies, who are you and what have you done with Tyler?

The reply comes. My cousin’s knuckle is very convincing. Meg laughs reading that. Lyra is trying to manipulate Tyler to make her feel better.

Lyra returns. “Come on, they’re about to announce the results!”

The four friends quickly leave the backstage. A whole gaggle of girls follow Jeff, attempting to catch his attention.

“Give them a zillion watt smile, Jeff. At least that will stop them momentarily. A girl’s daydreams are long enough for us to listen to the announcements, go up the stage to get our prize, and come back down stage,” suggests Lyra, giggling.

Jeff sighs. He turns to face the girls. “Thank you all for your support,” and then he smiles a zillion watt smile. ZAAAAPPP!!! The girls are all mesmerized, rooted to the spot, at a lost for words, and all sighing dreamily, thinking the same thought – he smiled at me.

Seeing this, Lyra breaks into a fit of giggles. Meg laughs along. Jeff rolls his eyes. Wally puts his arms over Jeff’s shoulders.

“I wonder what you to make the girls follow you like loyal slaves. Wait; let me guess—do you use SK 2?” Wally pretends to think hard. Jeff playfully punches his shoulder. Suddenly, the whole hall burst into cheers. Jeff and Wally look around, confused. Even Lyra and Meg are jumping up and down in joy.

“Er…What happened?” asks Jeff, dazed.

“Jeff, are you mesmerised by your own smile or did you stuff cotton into your ears?” asks Meg, laughing in joy and hugging Lyra. Lyra continues jumping despite being hugged. “We won, Jeff!! We won!!”

Time stops for Jeff. After all their hard work, it finally paid off. Before he knew what he was doing, he runs to join in Meg and Lyra’s embrace. Wally raises an eyebrow. Then he lowers it and joins in their embrace.

“We WON!!!”

PROLOGUE END.

I’ve just come back from what I fondly call the Journey of Completion with Kai Wen and Hoong Woei. After two long years and many detours, we have completed the end-to-end journey. I guess it’s not strictly similar to what people do, given that they normally marathon the entire journey in one go, but to me this journey symbolises something special.

Two years ago when we went to Lands’ End, it was done on a whim. We just went to Penzance without a clue of where to go, and after hearing about Lands’ End we were like, eh okay sounds cool, might as well check it out. At Lands’ End we discovered an exhibition about the End-to-End Journey, and I vaguely remember Kai Wen saying that we should all visit John O’ Groats (JOG) together someday, and I probably cracked a joke about it being too cold since it’s the north of Scotland and all. We left it at that.

Two years later we actually made the journey all the way up to JOG.

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The iconic signposts on both ends were pretty different. The one at Lands’ End was fenced up, people would need to pay some amount for the official photographer to take pics of them if they wanted to pose by the signpost. The one at JOG was not guarded, and there wasn’t as many people as in Lands’ End, but I guess that’s because we went to JOG in early June instead of late June for Lands’ End. On a side note I heard that the JOG signpost was removed but it still looks like it’s there, so eh.

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I guess the key significance for this end to end journey is that it does not only carry the literal meaning – Lands’ End to JOG – for us. We did our first journey together in our first summer holidays during our first year in the UK. Two years later, we make our last journey together in our last summer holidays (well, strictly speaking Kai Wen’s last) during our final year in the UK. It’s the end of the road, in every sense of the word.

Travelling with Kai Wen and Hoong Woei has been fun and memorable. All the LOL stuff I don’t understand, all the jibes and teasing and annoying (not to me though heh), all the funny jokes and (failed) selfies, all the jakun-ing here and there, all the interesting local foods, all the moments we shared, and all the bad weather. Gosh the weather is bad in UK. You can’t really see from some of the pics but the wind is terrible some days and coupled with rain… Welp, it’s UK weather after all.

I’ve done a post dedicated to them and some others before (https://dedicata.wordpress.com/2011/10/03/dedicated-to-a-bunch-of-guys-plus-one-girl/) but this time round it’s purely for them. I guess it’s kind of the graduation blues. Or the fact that we’ve been friends for quite a long time now. Regardless, here I go.

Kai Wen, ah Kai Wen. My rival from college. We can’t really rival now although we’re doing the same course because either his uni’s standard is low, mine is too high, or he’s just a LOT better at me now. But given that his average is 90+ while I can’t even get close to that, I guess it’s better off that we don’t compete. But I’ve gotten my own rival now in uni so it’s all good. 😀

When I first met him, I knew that he was smart. It also did not take me long at all to realise that he was also arrogant as heck. Funnily enough he is completely oblivious about it, despite Hoong Woei and I trying to make him aware of the contrary. I think that he’s gotten more humble through the years but Hoong Woei thinks I’m just used to it. Regardless that means there’s an added freedom of what kind of stuff we can talk about without offending the other.

Throughout the first year of uni, we chatted a lot over Skype, sometimes late in the night. We were (still are) close friends and kindred spirits to a certain extent. At the start when we didn’t know anyone else in uni, at least we had each other’s companionship. I never really felt lonely in uni, even from the start, because I had him around all the time. Then of course later on I made some really close friends in uni too, but that’s a post for another day. 😉

Kai Wen visits me in Edinburgh at least once a year. The first year he came with Hoong Woei and Shihao and we did all the Hogmanay stuff. In the second, he came alone, and went to Pentland Hills himself and encountered wild Highland Cows and was terrified of them. XD To be fair there was a huge herd and he was walking amongst them. Personally I’d see that as a really cool experience. During that year we also baked a cake with Angie, Chee Yern and Mel and went round having a walk around our housing area. This year, he came with Hoong Woei to hang out a day before embarking on our trip together. He brought a petroleum rock. He says it’s a fossil. I’ll call it a petroleum rock.

I guess now that he’s going back to Malaysia for good and starting his job soon we won’t really have much more opportunities to travel together again. I… I’m actually pretty sad about it. There’s not many people I know I’m compatible with in terms of travelling, and he’s one of the rare ones. Also we are able to talk nonstop for hours, and about a lot of stuff. What can I say? We have to move on with life, time doesn’t go backwards after all. But I know for sure he will be one of my close friends in the future, same as some of my primary and high school friends, and that won’t change no matter how long we don’t chat or hang out.

Kai Wen, if you’re reading this, I wish you all the best in your career. Don’t forget about our belanja deal! 😛 If we someday somehow end up working together, you’d better be prepared because I’m going to bring on the rivalry again, heh. Seriously though. I’m going to miss you tons.

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And then there’s Hoong Woei.

He generally kept to himself at the beginning of college, but many people knew he was smart because of the intelligent questions he asks during classes or guest talks (I really can’t remember). I bet he doesn’t remember now, but we actually used to work together on a Pre-U Ambassador Camp before. I wasn’t close to him back then, but I knew he was smart. And vulgar. XD Back then I had a habit of saying “don’t swear!” to anyone who swore near me. That meant I told him not to swear more times than I can count, haha. He said he used to think I was annoying, for that reason.

I gotten close to him because of David. I know he just clicks with David, they’re really good friends and probably share a friendship like Kai Wen and myself. Kindred spirits, similar interests, etc. But Hoong Woei and I are so completely different, we really had nothing in common. I was kiasu and hardworking and a go-getter, he was just relaxed and laid back and lazy. I wasn’t a gamer nor interested in anime and manga (back then, I guess Kevin changed things a lot) and he doesn’t like reading. There was pretty much nothing we had in common.

Yet conversation wasn’t scarce. Besides his usual jokes, impersonations and nonsense (which I think are pretty funny btw!), he is pretty darn smart and knows a lot of stuff. He also has the gift to explain said stuff. I learned some amount of random engineering facts thanks to him. And we can just talk about a lot of stuff. Despite his lack of interest in reading, he does have a really good ability to converse – sometimes I wish I had that.

I know Hoong Woei won’t be reading all this because of the amount of words here, heh. But I’ll include a TL;DR: Hoong Woei, you’re a good friend and I’m pretty darn glad I’ve met you. 😀

We’ve embarked on this journey together. Now we’ve grown, learned new things, and have ended it together. And I couldn’t have asked for better companions for this end to end journey.

Auld Lang Syne, my friends.

Dedicated to the Conference

So, it’s finally over. 2am, but eh, a writer’s gotta do what a writer’s gotta do. 😛 Note that in this post I’m going to be vague about who I’m talking about, so if people Google this, they won’t know which conference it is and who I’m talking about – helps everyone with some privacy eh? If you’re looking at this because of a link from my Facebook page, you’d know who you are. 😉

This post is pretty much to say my heartfelt thanks to sooooo many people who made this conference possible. I guess there aren’t many people reading my blog – but if you do and I’ve mentioned you, you have my sincere thanks.

I’ve got so many people to thank, so many people helped me out this time round. I’ve never felt so indebted and yet I’ve never felt so accomplished. There are 4 people in particular that I’m going to elaborate on a lot more, but before that I’ll just rattle off my thanks to everyone else:

Huge thanks to the speakers, obviously, for taking the time to come to our uni and give presentations. I think a big portion of our success today was due to the interesting talks and presentations given – they were informative, engaging, interesting. Brilliant talks. I personally really enjoyed them. I’ve not spoken to my friends about it yet, but I hope they found the talks as good as I did.

Huge thanks also to my subcommittee members, I seriously couldn’t have done it without them. From brainstorming to weekly discussions (at 5.15 on Thursdays, no less!), to meeting deadlines, giving suggestions, etc etc etc, basically it would have been impossible without them. Nope, this isn’t my conference, this is OUR conference. And what a conference it was.

Huge thanks to the supportive lecturers: Angus, the first lecturer who helped us out; Tim, who helped me out so much, stuck with me through thick and thin, and although it didn’t work out in the end, I really appreciate his help and support; Noreen, who I just met this year – she was really the turning point of the entire thing. I was facing so much problems and she helped me get past the major hurdle and things just went upstream from there.

Huge thanks to Tess – she really made all this possible. I’ve just met her in January, and she’s been such a great help since then. She’s helped with the speakers, publicity on their website, prize fund, and so much more. It’s been great meeting her and working with her, I really appreciate it.

Huge thanks to the committee members who helped me in various ways, and were so supportive from the start. Also for the jokes and the fun night out – I’ve not had many of those. No, it’s not cause I’m anti-social, it’s just that I tend to like to stay in with a bunch of close friends and homemade food.

Huge thanks to all my buddies, especially the Malaysians who came to support me! Yeah I’ve seen all your faces in the audience… I really appreciate your support, guys. It means a lot to me that some of my closest friends have decided to take out time (on a Wednesday afternoon no less!) to support my biggest event yet.

Huge thanks to my flatmates! Angie and Shaunee. They’ve been so supportive from the start too, listening to me complain about things, celebrate my successes, cook for me when I come back exhausted from Thursday evening meetings… Angie, despite being so exhausted from classes, she stayed for the entire length of the conference, and sent me a sweet message after 🙂 Shaunee, helped me jaga stuff when I went for class, when I went around doing preparations, and at the very end helped me bring some of my stuff home… Yes, they weren’t directly related to the planning and prep of the conference, but I love my flatmates, and their support really kept me sane, in some sense.

Hmm, I actually don’t think I’ve missed anyone out. Alright, elaboration time! For those who’ve never seen me post stuff before, I’m well known for walls of text. But that’s just me. 😉

The first person I’d like to thank is Eddie. Eddie’s part of my subcommittee, but he’s been so dedicated from day one. I speak to him so much via Facebook to get stuff done, and he’s basically had a hand in everything, from the posters to the brochures; from ideas of topics to suggestions of speakers. He’s attended all but one of the subcommittee meetings, and he’s pretty much the most updated of them all, as I tend to rant to him a little when there are problems with speakers and stuff. I’d say if I were carrying the event, Eddie was my main aide – I’d totally have collapsed in exhaustion without his help. Hmm I could have sworn I had more stuff to say than this – I guess the sleepiness is starting to creep in. Nonetheless, I will continue.

The next person I’d like to thank is Ben. Ben, Ben, Ben. Man, I still can’t believe he actually said the kiasu thing. And I also can’t believe I received flowers from him. No actually I can believe the flowers thing – they’re sitting right across the room now. It’s the kiasu thing that’s more surprising. I shouldn’t have said it! 😛 But Ben’s also another person that this event would never have succeeded without. I message him so much, day to day. “Ben, what do you think of ….” “Ben, I’ve received this email, do you think I should…” “Ben, I’ve CC-ed you in… Could you please ask…” “Ben, would you be free at… to talk about the conference?” And the best part? Ben’s efficiency. I can easily expect him to get back to me within the day, usually within the hour, even. I could even just bump into him on the way to the lab (he’s somehow always at the lab) and have a quick chat with him about conference stuff, and then move on with my day. And he’s been so supportive – in some sense I feel like he’s the supportive older brother, saying stuff like “you’ve done so well, LK”, “Excellent! Good job, LK”, and I just feel like I’m perhaps doing much better than people have expected me to. Because when all is said and done, I’m just kiasu like that 😛 and I feel that things could have gone better today had I have done stuff differently. But that’s just me being kiasu XD My president was happy with his club’s flagship event and I guess I couldn’t ask for anything more than that 🙂 But seriously, Ben was like a rock, like a mountain – he made me feel that everything was fine, he was calm when I was not. And that made all the difference. 🙂

I feel so formal, saying the next person I’d like to thank etc… Haha… Well the next person I’d like to thank would definitely be Gavin. He’s helped me so much, suggested things (that, if I’ve not stubbornly refused at the start, might have made the conference slightly better), and most importantly, supported me. So a couple of weeks ago, we had a speaker crisis, and I panicked. I sent Gavin a huge long email in the evening, detailing the problem and a couple of proposed solutions to see his opinions. He actually replied at 10pm, saying “Don’t panic.” It was an immediate relief to me, it’s like I suddenly felt the calming force of his words working on me, and I smiled. And he ended the email with “You’re on a ball, LK.” Thank you so much for your faith in me, Gavin – It went really well, as you’ve predicted. Your words of encouragement and support really kept me going on. You just knew I could do it, you knew I was doing all I could and you knew it’d be enough. It means a lot to me. I couldn’t have done it without you. 🙂

And last but obviously not least, Kevin. 🙂 Guess I’m definitely biased here, haha. Kevin helped me in more ways than one: the obvious would be that as the IT director, he made the amazing website that I was so happy to send to everyone and share everywhere. And the second implicit one, was that he was always there for me. I would rant to him plenty, tell him all my problems and everything that’s happening. Kevin would be one of the first to know. And obviously as my boyfriend (with not many words to spare) he’d just listen, give opinions when it was due, and comfort me when I needed it. Huge moral support from Kevin; I really appreciate it. 🙂

It’s been a long day, it’s been a huge event, and it’s been a great semester and a half of preparation. It’s over now, I will go to sleep, I even intend to go for all classes tomorrow and try to do some of my tutorials! (because I’m a goody two shoes, aren’t I? :P) And now that conference is over, it’s time to move on. Wonder what’s the next big challenge I’m gonna tackle next? 😛

Cheers!

After a loooooooong hiatus, I’m back again haha 😀

It’s been a busy first half of the semester, but as usual, the busier I am the more energetic I get (according to my mom, but it’s true heh). I predicted right in high school – I’d end up being a workaholic haha. But it’s been a fun first half. I feel like I’ve achieved so much more than I’ve had in third year, and I like that. I feel that I’m a much better person now, and I like that too. Also the only reason I’m blogging today, although I felt like blogging a long time ago, is that my 10am tutorial’s lecturer had a sore throat (get well soon Andrew!) and class is cancelled, and today I woke up abnormally early (I set my alarm for 9am but woke up at 7.50 @.@) so I suddenly have extra time to lounge around haha.

So fourth year has been treating me pretty well! 😀 I guess I have the time to elaborate bit by bit. Dear readers beware: this is going to be a long post lol. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Firstly, as the silly workaholic I am, I took the hardest possible combination of subjects. Taking FRM (a Masters level subject that people said last year’s average mark was 50), Pensions (a heavily writing/reading subject that people say “If you want to get first class don’t take pensions”), CTF (a continuation of the two hardest subjects in 3rd year: Stochastic and Derivatives, but I’m only doing it cause I have to heh), and Econs (cause I have to, but this is the easiest la so yay, also I’ve never done econs before my whole life). But I can say, although my subjects are difficult, they have been pretty interesting. Okay I’m only referring to FRM and Pensions when I say that, I shall not elaborate more. :X But one thing I need to admit, is that all our lecturers this year have been really good compared to previous years, even if they’ve taught me different subject before. So I’m really grateful for that. Essentially it’s been a tough ride, but at least the people guiding me are good. 🙂

Secondly, I really like my new place! :3 My room is probably the biggest I’ve ever had to myself, and I have a sky window (if that’s what it’s called)! It’s great! Every night I go to sleep, I can see the night sky. So far there’s not been much to see but darkness XD but yesterday night I watched the clouds move, and that was cool. And every morning I wake up to the morning sky, blue sometimes, grey some others, but I guess that’s Edinburgh for you. Also if I look out the window (not lying down, just looking straight), I can see the roofs of houses far into the distance and it’s actually a pretty good view. The other day there were fireworks; I could see them from here too. It’s great! The best part of my place is the lighting. Gosh the place is SO bright. I love it. I’m so happy I got this place. 😀

Of course a mention about my new place won’t be complete without talking about my flatmates! 😀 I’m still staying with Angie, and we also have a temporary hobo flatmate Shaun haha. He’s been struggling to find a place so he’s staying with us till he gets one. But man it’s been so fun. There’s no system in place (besides Angie’s recycling system heh) so basically we cook or clean whenever we feel like it. But we kind of take turns cooking, there’s like an unspoken system between us. If I come home early, I’ll cook, if Angie does, she will. If Shaun feels like making something fancy, he’ll cook. Essentially the best part about this system is that the person who comes home late gets food immediately. It’s a really great feeling. There’s so much love in this household! ❤ We spend so much time together nowadays. We go to uni together pretty much everyday, then we have dinner together, and after dinner we always have a time-wasting routine, where we just sit down and chat for at least an hour. Sometimes Shaun goes and gets his guitar and we sit around singing some more. Sometimes we get on our devices and stalk people on Facebook  check out stuff together, or play random games haha. It’s a really good bonding session. And Shaun has been making us a lot of fancy treats by hand, so we’ve all become fatter. Except Shaun cause he’s a stick and will never expand horizontally. Man I’m so grateful that I have them. It’s been a fun bunch of weeks. 🙂

And then there’s my other friends. I’ve made up with someone, somehow. There’s not been any formal apology from either party. I just saw that someone on the street, said hi, and we started chatting, and now it seems all is forgiven. But let bygones be bygones. Since we’ve made up, I’ve been hanging out more and more with my former group. It’s been great, I’ve missed them. 🙂 No elaborations required here, I guess, but it’s really been nice to spend time with these friends who were once my favourite group of people in uni. 😀

But then there’s my two closest friends too, Jag and Boon Ho. We have been spending so much time together. I take the exact same subjects as Boon Ho and only one different from Jag’s. And we’ve kind of been like a trio most of the time. I’ve made a random observation once: the Chinese direct entrant girls always hang out in threes. Then Boon Ho just pointed out that we too, hang out in a trio. XD Make what of it you will. Anyway, I’m just saying that I have so much fun hanging out with them, and they’re so supportive of me and my events. I did a Meet and Greet event earlier this year, and now I know they’ve attended and participated because of me. I’m really touched, I love how they care so much about me. 🙂 Also since I’ve been hanging out with them so much I realised I kind of picked up their way of speech hahaha. But now I know so much more inside jokes, and I love it. I love these guys la, wouldn’t trade them for the world. 🙂

It’s also been a great few weeks for me in terms of extra curricular activities. My HMS things have been going well; that Meet and Greet event I planned actually had zero negative feedback! It’s all literally positivity all round haha. And we’ve planned a couple other events and they’ve all been generally successful. Granted, I’ve had some internal issues happening, but I love most of my committee lah. I’ve never worked with a bunch of more enthusiastic and efficient people. I’ll miss working with them, it’s been a great term. :’) Yes I’m stepping down soon haha. I’ve been on the committee for 2 years now, I have no idea how empty I’d feel after I step down and stay on as a normal member. But ehhh it’s past my time. I’ve had a great ride, now I should give someone else a turn. But I’m so grateful for my committee members, and that all our events this sem went well.

SAS stuff has been going great too! 😀 I’m doing the conference this year, and I’m already far, far ahead in terms of planning. Got my date chosen, got my theme and topics decided, and in the process of booking venue and searching for speakers. I’m proud to say that Ben has been pretty pleased with my progress so far, and hopefully we’d get everything settled real early so I don’t have to fret when I get nearer to the event. Also my subcommittee is great! 😀 I’ve actually had the luxury of choice this time round, so I got to choose the people I thought were most suited to the job, and indeed they were. I feel like I’ve got a really strong team on my hands here. Together, we can make this next conference a bigger success than it’s ever been! 🙂 Hahaha so semangat now. So so grateful for how all these things turned out.

Basically, I think everything has been going on pretty darn well. There’s been so many new things to laugh about (like meeting being my hobby lol), so much new food to eat (Angie made something that tasted amazingly like fried glass noodles the other day! And Shaun made amazing tiramisu!), so many things to do (at least I’ve finally got job applications out of the way haha), so much more improvements to make (So I’ve started heading to the gym…) and so many more new memories to come! It’s going to be a really great final year, I just know it! 😀

Cheers, till next time! 🙂

This post will be written in Chinese, apologies to all my readers who can’t understand Chinese.

But The Boy Who Once Was would definitely understand what I’m going to say. If he reads it, that is.

我曾经认识一个男孩,

温柔,体贴的男孩,

当初我需要人陪伴,

他默默在我身边。

 

我认识的那个男孩,

爱家人,爱朋友,

当初和他相处的时候,

他总是微笑,快乐。

 

现在的那个男孩,

沉默,冷酷,多愁,

就为了一个不感恩的人,

放掉真正关心他的人。

 

我不明白那个男孩,

我的好朋友,我的知己,

竟为了她,放弃我们,

我们当初的友情算什么?

 

我希望你回来啊,男孩,

我会再默默地等待,

你永远是重要的朋友,

我希望你快点回来。

 

This poem (sort of lol, my Chinese is a little out of touch by now) is dedicated to you, to the boy who asked me to watch Anohana. Don’t be like the characters in the anime; remember what we once were. Don’t leave it until it’s too late to begin to regret. 

Please come back, my friend.

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