Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Open Sea Fishing

This is not a post about an exciting trip out into the open sea to fish.

I had loved fishing since I was a little girl. I would go fishing with my father and the ponds we frequented were filled with fishes that kept biting. I didn't even know why people said fishing requires lots of patience. There was once, while casting a line, the weight broke off and was lost. My father then switched to the spare rod and I was left to play with the decommissioned one. (Yea, back then, parents weren't paranoid about their children possibly getting hurt - like, if I was dumb enough to pierce my fingers, or any part of my body, with the hook, then I totally deserved it) I dropped the line with the baited hook into the shallow water right at the edge of the pond - for fun - and within minutes, a wee fish took a bite! It was a baby - no bigger than my girlish hand. Imagine my glee! We released it, of course. Eventually, after having gone to ponds with inhabitants neither that hungry or greedy or both, I realized the truth about the relation between patience and fishing. Nevertheless, I still loved the idea.

My father once went out to sea, on a boat, and spent the entire weekend fishing with his friends. I was in university, away from home, at the time and after the trip, he called and bragged about his catches. I was indignant that he didn't take me along. He brushed me off, saying it was a men's trip, and continued bragging. I would *so* have loved to go fishing in the sea with him, but we were never to have the opportunity.

So, recently, when a friend mentioned taking a boat out to the sea for a day-long fishing trip, I asked to join without second thoughts. Well, I wouldn't fish - for my life philosophy has shifted towards non-killing, as much as possible, even for food - but I could sit in the boat, watch the men, smell the sea, take photographs of anything and everything... it'll still be a grand adventure!

"Are you sure?" my friend asked me, wide-eyed, when I told him excitedly that I want to go with them in the boat.

"It's going to be really, really hot... like, the whole day, under the scorching sun."

I could slap on loads on sunblock. I could wear a gigantic wide-brimmed hat. I could even carry an umbrella, since I wouldn't be holding a rod...

"The sea might be rough. The boat is small, you might get sea-sick."

I know they sell anti-sea-sick pills in pharmacies...

"We're going on a little sampan so obviously, there's no toilet facility on board. We men will just pee into the sea."

I balked...

"You could probably get through the day if you don't drink so much of water, but you might end up dehydrated..."

Well, well! I have to drink, and I have to pee... It's not that I really mind peeing into the sea like the men will do (I know, I'm not a man, but I *can* find a way... don't roll your eyes!) but I do very much mind peeing in front of the men.

So, I change my mind. No spending an entire day on a toilet-less boat with a bunch of men for me. And that is why this post isn't about an exciting trip out into the open sea to fish.

Monday, October 29, 2012


The first time I saw a set of the Russian nested dolls, I marveled at the very fine craftsmanship and how the tiniest was little larger than a grain of rice. I remember I gave a little giddy schoolgirl squeal each time opening doll and finding a smaller one inside. I don't know how my roomee (whose doll that was) put up with me.

Today, I was given my very own Matryoshka doll! They're painted red, they're very pretty and they traveled all the way from Russia! I tried not to squeal when I took them out of the bag, but I think I did... in delight!

Thank you, roomee, for remembering that I told you ten years ago that I wanted a set =)

Sunday, October 28, 2012


Motivation talks / seminars, much like counselling and self-help literature, are not for everyone. I, for one, don't believe in counseling, and totally loathe self-help books.

When I was in college, the Vice-President once suggested I make a visit to the career counselling center to speak to someone who can help me determine my "ideal" choice of major. I complied, partly because I really respect and admire the man, and partly because he's my uncle and I always obeyed my elders... Anyway, I made an appointment with a counselor, bore with the stranger talking to me as if she knew me better than me, and then took a "career personality" test. Of course, I don't think it was called that, but this happened *so* very long ago, I really cannot remember the actual name. The counselor then had me booked for another appointment, a date a week or so later, to discuss the result of the test and the options she thought would suit me best. I didn't honour it. She called and I made up some excuses. I can't recall how many times she called, but eventually, she gave up and I never set foot in a counselor's office ever since.

Maybe I'm arrogant, but I earnestly do not believe a stranger knows me better than me, no matter how over-educated or highly-trained they are. (On a side note, someone's suggested I see a psychiatrist, but again, that someone doesn't know me better than me, so he doesn't get to decided whether I need therapy or not. Ha!)

So, as I said earlier, motivation talks are not for everyone. I'm somewhat neutral towards them - don't really mind, also can do without. As yet, I haven't heard one that conveyed what I don't already know. (So, actually, I prefer team-building camps with lots of intellectual and physical challenges... but I'll leave that for a future post) Many, of course, are receptive, accepting and downright passionate about these talks. Some, however, simply don't respond positively to such psychological manipulations.

I'd like to think that those who refuse to participate are not necessarily bad eggs, and those who are earnestly enthusiastic - well, absolutely good for them! However, if, immediately after a course, during which the principle of "no complaining" was repeatedly drilled into everyone's head, the enthusiastic lodged formal complaints about the non-participating, it becomes really clear why some people doubt the effectiveness of such seminars...

Thursday, October 11, 2012


... with only a good book for company. We all need that every now and then.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Lost Monkey

There are times when a new piece of information sort of takes me by surprise for being fascinating, but at the same time doesn't actually shock me much for I've known it all along, somewhere at the back of my mind. I know this probably doesn't make much sense.

So, we were at the other side of Nanyang Wall, where I'd never been previously, and I'd foolishly (or bravely, if you will) failed two 6b (5.10c) routes. One of the guys then announced he wanted to do the Lost Monkey. This was the moment I felt that sudden wave of fascination at the fact that this route has a name, but then again, I'd always known that it is common that outdoor routes are named. In fact, some are downright famous.

The Lost Monkey is graded 6c (5.11b). The craziest thing about it, is not the overhang-all-the-way from the mid-point until nearly the anchor, or even the bit of almost-roof  just before the anchor, but the first several meters of ascent. This section is mostly slab, without bolts. That means a climber effectively does a free solo for several meters before getting to the point of the first clip.

The guy belaying asked with a laugh if I wanted to try it. I gave him what I believe was the involuntary wide-eyed, open-mouthed, flabbergasted look of you-gotta-be-kidding. Ask me again when I have muscles like you do. Ask me again when I am able to clean the 6bs without breaking sweat. If that could ever happen... =P

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Damai Wall

Oh look - I'm back to blogging, and this is a post longer than a photo plus a few sentences!

You must be wondering, though, Reader - just how many different posts can I write on the same subject? Just how many different ways can I describe a rock face with bolts on it? Well, I don't know, but I keep trying =D

So, Damai is the only one (of the more popular climbing sites) at Batu Caves that I haven't covered. The place is way more "comfortable" than Nanyang and Nyamuk. There's a proper carpark (not as proper as being complete with neat white lines, but still...), well-maintained grounds with paved paths, benches, a small playground for children, and a nice footpath covered in a-sort-of rubber flooring right next to the wall. It's basically a small recreational park where one can also rock-climb. There are supposed to be public restrooms too, though I didn't manage to locate them.

The view, back-facing the wall:

And the view, back-facing the park:

I only realised after a while that my first few shots did not include *any* climbers currently climbing. So, here:

Anyway, unlike my regular climbing gym, outdoor routes are never marked with their difficulty. I'd usually ask if one is "difficult" before I start on it, but the answer's always that they're sure I could do it. So, really, I never know until I'm up there and I finish, or I hurt one of my joints and have to give up.

After a relatively lengthy break from climbing, I got started on a purportedly 6a+. Reader, you must know that I can barely complete a 6a indoor route even when climbing regularly. But hey, no one wants to put up with a total wimp, so when the guy told me it's "mostly OK, with just a couple of cruxes", I said alright, I'll give it a try. I got stuck at the first crux for quite a while (poor belayer, but thank goodness he was so patient!) but I got past it. Belayer commented "Wow, you got past that part!" and that sort-of compliment got me really motivated to go on, despite the throbbing pain in my left shoulder, which sort of got pulled the wrong way getting past "that part". The human brain is very funny - I had studied how it reacts to compliments, understood how shallow such feel-good-stimulants can be - and yet, I still get affected by them. In a good way, in this instance, of course. Anyway, mind over matter isn't always enough to achieve what is beyond my physical limits. At the second crux, just a little way below the second last runner, my lack of height, length of limbs and brute strength failed me. I did not manage to finish the route. I think it's that crux that gives the otherwise 6a route the "+". Oh, well.

I did two more on that occasion, and finished both, though one of them I managed partly because the belayer wouldn't let me down unless I went all the way up (her version of motivation, but yea, it worked...)

Reader, now I am going to digress.

At times, when I read about people who travel the world, set up camps and spend all day just climbing, I feel pangs of envy. I mean, I'd love to do that too, wouldn't I? Climb till the skins come off my hands, rub antiseptic all over them, and then climb some more! Well, maybe not to that extreme - I am not a fan of open wounds and bloody smears on the rocks - but seriously, wouldn't it be really fun to climb until I get sick of climbing? (Oh... no, I'll never get sick of climbing... what a nonsensical thought! A man was cleaning my 4th floor office window - from the *outside* - today and when I took a peek at him through the blinds, I noticed, of all things, that he was wearing a Petzl harness. Yea, climbing has become that much part of me now.)

Imagine - a few awesome days (or weeks!) away from the responsibilities of regular life, just camping and climbing. I know my last camping trip didn't go so well. I also shudder at the mere thought of having no proper toilet / shower, or worse, having to use the toilet when something I'm really scared of is in it... (a small part of the trip I didn't share was that my friend, who was and still is, terrified of frogs, had to use the toilet in the middle of the night and there was a frog right on the wall inside..... in case you're wondering, yes, frogs can totally perch on walls - see the following photo, which by the way, was taken in the bathroom in my house and is totally unrelated to whatever I'm writing about now *ahem*)

I'm not scared of frogs, but there are other things that'll freak me out. No, I'm not going to make a list. I think I made my point.

Despite all that - wouldn't it still be grand to just camp and climb, and not think about any of the things that upset me? Simply grand!

Right, end of digression, end of post.

Good night, world!