Programming vs Teaching

Our life’s a stage, a comedy: either learn to play and take it lightly, or bear its troubles patiently.

~Palladas~


How did I end up teaching?
Well, it was long decided since my undergraduate year.

Justification? I wanted an easy life, or so I thought.

Not everybody can teach. This was made clear when I went to University of Otago. The lecturers at the Department of Computer Science are all excellent teachers. By excellent I mean they can deliver the information really well, and can hold the attention of the students through out the lecture.

Those aren’t something easy to do. I try and try, and still couldn’t deliver well. It really is frustrating, especially when I see the faces of the students, the look they made for trying to understand my rambling.

Programming on the other hand is a career that I never considered at all, not until I did my master and PhD, and being an intern at ADInsruments. The more I spent my time writing a program, the more I’m in love with it.

Unexpectedly, programming gives the satisfaction that I longed for. I enjoy writing programs. I enjoy cracking my head solving problems. I really could spend my whole day just for this.

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Between programming and teaching, I prefer the former by miles.

Having said that, I would not abandon my responsibility as a teacher. I just need to learn to manage my time better so I could find time writing more and more programs, for personal satisfaction.

If Only it was Dumbo the Flying Elephant…

Everywhere man blames nature and fate, yet his fate is mostly but the echo of his character and passions, his mistakes and weaknesses.
~Democritus~

When my cousin and I decided to go to Krabi, the first activity that came to my mind was an elephant ride. There was no specific reason. I simply wanted to ride on it.

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Upon arrival, we searched for an agent and quickly signed up for a package, which of course included the elephant ride. The ride was our first activity in Krabi.

The very same afternoon we were transported to the Elephant trek. There, we waited for our turn. When the elephant came, we quickly hopped onto it, and that’s when the nightmare began.

Never would I imagine all the cruelties I had to witness throughout the ride!

Each time the elephant went out of path, or decided to take a little break, the herder would hit its head with a hammer. A HAMMER! How could you do such a thing to the poor animal? Regardless how thick the elephant skin is, that was really inhumane.

I was in constant fear throughout the ride. What if the elephant suddenly decided to rebel against its herder? Wouldn’t we ended up a mince meat?

I wonder how did it feel while carrying us.

All I knew, I regretted being part of it.

Disneyland, Paris

We become happier, much happier, when we realize life is an opportunity rather than an obligation.

~Mary Augustine~


Disneyland was one of the three theme parks I vowed to go to, and this dream was made true when I went to Paris.

One of the worthy places to go while in Paris.

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Disneyland was a little different than what I imagined it to be. Unlike Universal Studio or Movie World, Disneyland offers more entertainment than rides. As someone who has extreme motion sickness, this theme park suits me the best.

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Disneyland entertains its guests with lots of performances, bringing out all popular characters. It is easy to connect yourself to each of the performance.

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You can also take a train ride that let you experience “real” explosion and flooding phenomena as seen in movies.

After tiring yourself out walking around and taking photos, there’s a restaurant inside the area where you can recharge yourself. I couldn’t remember the name but we had quite nice fish and chips there.

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The fee entrance is of course expensive, especially when you’re paying in Euro, however the experience you got was worth the money.

Night in Paris

Far away in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.
Louisa May Alcott

When Paris was set as one of my destinations, the only thing that came to mind was Eiffel Tower at night.

The term “City of Love” has little meaning to me.

To fulfill my wish, my friend booked an accommodation which was within a walking distance to the Eiffel Tower.

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My journey to Paris wasn’t a smooth sailing. Since I was on a budget trip, I decided to travel by a night train hence cutting cost on the accommodation. Unfortunately, at that time, the whole France was on a strike, affecting the public transportation. The train didn’t arrive and I was stranded at the Central Milan Station (of all places!)

It was scary since that station wasn’t a safe place when night comes. I could see that people were being handcuffed here and there. Police officers were everywhere. The station was locked from within so there wouldn’t be any people coming in or going out.

My eyes were barely opened but sleeping wasn’t an option. Desperate to get out of there, I opted to take the earliest bus out of Central Milan Station to Malpensa Airport. I looked for the earliest flight out to Paris and found Easyjet airline which departed at 6 am.

The problem didn’t stop there. I brought three pieces of stuff with me – main luggage, backpack and camera bag. Easyjet only allowed for 1 carry-on. Other commercial airlines would allow me to bring both camera bag and backpack on board, but not Easyjet. Like it or not, I had to check-in my tiny backpack for another extra $$$ which wasn’t cheap.

Finally arrived in Paris, the city of love did not live to my expectation at all. There was no love in the city. People were quite selfish, unlike the people I met in the other European countries. I was pushed when hopping out of the train while dragging my heavy luggage but none of them bother to apologize.

Oh well, at least I managed to visit the Eiffel Tower at night and the view didn’t disappoint me. Absolutely stunning. Unfortunately, I couldn’t say the same about the tower during the day 😀

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Thousands of tourists during the day and the beggars didn’t even give you the chance to take photos. They kept on pressing you on buying their keychains. They just wouldn’t leave you alone -sigh-

Will I go again to Paris? Hmm I might have to think twice ^-^

When Colors Changed…


Change is not merely necessary to life, it is life.
~Alvin Toffler~


It is now autumn in New Zealand.
The change of seasons always excites me.
Seeing the transition from one season to another, though it happens every year without fail, is still mesmerizing.

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When autumn comes, the green leaves turn to yellow. One by one they fall, leaving the branches naked, populating the ground.
When the strong wind blows, the fallen leaves fly, following the wind course.
Once in a while, you could see a street sweeper raking the leaves, clearing the road.

After two seasons have passed, the naked trees are once again covered in leaves.

Isn’t that how our lives are, full of upside down?
Even if your life has withered, to the point where you think all hope is lost, never despair.

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Spring will definitely come, as long as you never give up.

25th of April Bridge, Lisbon

Being content creates simplicity in life.

~John Heider~


Previously known as The Salazar Bridge, named after a Portuguese dictator.
When his regime fell on the 25th of April 1975, it was renamed to “25th of April” Bridge.

The 27th largest suspension bridge in the world, connecting the city of Lisbon to Almada.

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What really caught my attention was its design that is similar to The Golden Gate Bridge.
As a Charmed series’ fan, I was infatuated when I first saw it.

My cab driver was happily telling about the company that built the bridge, which he claimed to be the same as the one that built the Golden Gate Bridge.

But later I found out that the company actually built the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge (not the Golden Gate).

To me, it didn’t really matter who built the bridge. Being able to see it myself, and actually crossing the bridge was enough.

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And to have dinner in a restaurant with the bridge as the background, while witnessing the day turned to night was an awesome experience.

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I’m truly grateful to my supervisor for giving me this opportunity, who fought for my right to get the fund from the university, and of course to the Computer Science department who paid half of the cost 😀

At the Top of the World

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.

~John Lennon~


Okay. I was exaggerating a little bit.
It was just at the top of a hill.

Signal Hill.

Still, the view from the top, overlooking the Dunedin city was mesmerizing.
Especially when the sun was about to set.

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A perfect moment to freeze your memory in the form of a photograph.
An ideal place for moon sighting too, though I never took the chance to experience it.

Not just that, I missed the opportunity to trek up the hill.
Had a plan to do so with Maryam but somehow it remained a plan.

Oh well, it wasn’t meant to be.
Maybe because I took things for granted too much, thinking that I would forever be in Dunedin.

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Now that I’m far away from the land of the long white cloud, I’m sort of regretting it.

Lesson learned.

Grab the opportunity while you have the chance and never assume that you know your future.

Because you don’t.

Kindness Knows No Boundary

You cannot dream yourself into a character;
you must hammer and forge yourself one.~Henry David Thoreau~

Don’t talk to strangers.
A reminder that was instilled in our mind since we were kid.
I do understand where this sentiment is coming from. Especially in this era, where trust has to be earned.

But what I experienced in Fayyoum, Egypt showed that not everybody shares the same sentiment. There are people who demonstrated an absolute trust towards complete strangers without a drop of hesitation.

We were on the way to Qasr Qarun (will talk about this in another post) when our guide, Thaaqib, stopped at a village that we passed by to find a loo. He simply knocked the door of a random house but was greeted by a friendly family.

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Witnessing the nice hospitality, we decided to ask for a permission to use the loo as well. What awaited us after that was a nice, warm cup of tea.

The kindness didn’t stop there. The family insisted us to have lunch at their house!

We refused the offer at first, but they kept on insisting, and their sincerity made us give in to it. Accepting it turned out to be a blast. We were served with what I could describe as the most delicious homemade Egyptian dishes I ever tasted throughout my stay in Egypt.

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I wasn’t exaggerating when I said the dishes were super yummy!

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The home of the kind family.

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In the end, we could not visit the oasis in Fayyoum as scheduled, but what we gained instead was such a valuable experience.

This whole experience made me wonder – how could someone be so trusting?

I remembered clearly, a long time ago – an old woman carried a basket of snacks, going from one house to another trying to sell them to earn some money. There were times when she would ask for a glass of water. Given her age, it would make sense that she was exhausted from the long walk under the hot sun. Of course I would give her the drink. Even so, there would always be a speck of doubt within my heart.

What if, that was just an act?
What if…
What if…

The high crime rates in Malaysia simply prevents most of us from developing this good quality. Creative con artists are blooming rapidly, causing us to be on high alert most of the times.

Who could blame us for having such a thought?
Still, it would be great if we were able to live in such environment, peaceful and harmonious, with nothing to fear.

One could only dream.

When The Earth Shook in Anger

The great lesson is that the sacred is in the ordinary, that it is to be found in one’s daily life, in one’s neighbors, friends and family, in one’s backyard.
~Abraham Maslow~

The recent earthquake that struck Christchurch brought back the memory of the same disaster that killed almost 200 people in 2011.

It was shocking. And sad.

I was in Dunedin when the first big quake hit Christchurch in 2010. It was around 4am in the morning. I was still sleeping on my bed in my cozy sunroom when I was woken up by a sudden shake.

It was just the tremor that I felt. Those who actually experienced it must be really scared. I could still recall the trauma my friend (who was living in Christchurch at that time) had, who would jump in fear at the sound of the train passing by.

A year after that, another massive quake hit the same city. Though the magnitude was less that the previous year, the impact was multiple times worse.

Once again the tremor traveled down to Dunedin. This time, I was in my lab on the second floor. The building was swaying. My friends and I knew straight away that an earthquake had hit somewhere in the South Island.

We just casually talked about it. Even laughed. Another tremor was felt. Once again we weren’t really concerned. Earthquakes were pretty normal in New Zealand.

But the news that came right after that was hard to swallow. Lots of casualties and injuries. Buildings were destroyed. The danger was real. We weren’t able to laugh anymore.

I had a chance to visit Christchurch a few months after the disaster struck. It wasn’t even a pleasant view to see the ruins or the abandoned shops. Like I was in a ghost city.

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The destroyed buildings…
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The deserted street…
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The abandoned shops…
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New Zealand, a country that I hold dearly in my heart.
My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Air New Zealand – One of the World’s Best Flights

To reach a port, we must sail—Sail, not tie at anchor—Sail, not drift.

~Franklin Roosevelt~


Just bought my flight ticket to Jakarta this afternoon.
It reminded me of the joy of flying.
Of how much I love flying and traveling to different countries and experiencing a new adventure in a foreign land.

Before this, I frequently traveled to different continents. But since coming back to Malaysia, my savings don’t allow me the pleasure anymore, though my passion never subsides. Hence for two years in a row, my destination would just be the neighboring country.

When looking for a flight ticket, one would normally look for a cheap price.
Me? Not really.

The previous me, I loved flying on different flights.

I flew with Brunei Airlines, Egypt Air, Air Berlin, Easy Jet, Emirates, Etihad, Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia, Jet Star, Qantas, Lufthansa, TAP Portugal, Air New Zealand and Cathay Pacific.

With the recent air tragedies, I completely stopped that habit and chose only the best flights. I don’t mind paying a little extra for a comfort travel and a safer journey.

And one of the best flights to me is definitely Air New Zealand (my top 3 are Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific & Singapore Airlines).

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They provide a very good service (and delicious lollies in every flight!).
They always produce a creative in-flight safety video (always in Top 10) – of course the videos are seasonal and you would never get bored with the same video played over and over again.

Most of the airports have super awesome scenery. Take Dunedin Airport for example – an airport in the middle of farms. You can see thousands of sheep upon landing.
The staff – from the check-in counter to the immigration to the boarding gate – are all nice and friendly and helpful. They are rich with smiles.

And I always feel comfortable whenever I flew with Air New Zealand carrier.

Though I’m no longer in New Zealand, I still have the GrabASeat notification sent to my email every day. Talking about being in denial 😛

One day – God willing – am gonna go back to New Zealand and relive all the great moments I have with the airlines ^-^