Thursday, February 05, 2009

Adventure in Laos (1 of 7)

Sabaidii ("Hello" in Lao). Photos of Lao kids' pastime:

Muddy buddy time

Mudslide - Natural slide!

Playing tali getah

Playing with doggies

Baby riding piggyback on his sister

Weaving attap roof

Playing masak-masak! Deja vu :p


Climbing trees. Look closer... there are actually two kids on the tree.

Lovely kids!

The kids' life are so carefree! Nature is their playground. Strong and happy they are.

Fellow city folks, let's let kids be kids - Give them all the quality playtime they deserve so that they too will have their own memorable childhood to cherish just like most of the 80's city kids. :p

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Love you! Thank you!

My lengthy blog entry on Gratitude has lost. Accidentally deleted it. Could't retrieve it. *Sigh* Anyway, it's ok because I can't undo it anyway. So, I must be more mindful the next time lor.

Basically, in that blog entry I've long lists of people whom I sincerely honour & love (the lists encompass the whole lot of young & not-so-young, near & far wondrous people whom I've crossed path with through Tzu Chi, KCBA, Incovar, school, tuitions, college, office, at random and even at home!) ^_^

You & many others are in my lists. I've thought about You today and here's wishing You a Blessed Christmas, a Joyous Holiday and a Fabulous Year 2009 which brings gifts of Joy, Peace & Love always. =)

With Metta!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Outstanding blog entries

It's not about outstanding entries but it is about outstanding entries. I mean not outstanding as in "prominent or distinguished in excellence"; but outstanding as in "still not done". Ok, lame as usual. :p

List of my outstanding entries:
  1. Humanitarian relief in Myanmar (Cyclone Nargis) : 25 - 28 Jul 2008
  2. Skytrex adventure at Bukit Cahaya : 30 Aug 2008
  3. White water rafting at Sungai Kampar : 31 Aug 2008
  4. Resignation and retraction of resignation (LoL) : Aug 2008
  5. Medical outreach at Tanjung Sepat : 1 Sept 2008
  6. Backpacking at Laos : 11 - 16 Sept 2008
Always wanted to update this dear blog... but been too busy lah (Common excuse... hehe). Every weekday, weeknight and weekend have been fully occupied doing this & that, going here & there, attending this & that. Excuses. :D

On a separate matter, Wedding Bells are ringing. Not mine, though. :p

Warmest Congratulations to:
  1. Brian Ng & Ng Shenn Min (my ex-coursemate and colleague) : 27 Sept 2008
  2. Chong Lee & Tan Mui Sim (my colleague) : 27 Sept 2008
  3. Jason Wong & Cheok San San (my kalyana mitra) : 11 Oct 2008
  4. Mrs. LJF & Lim Ji Fong (my kalyana mitra) : 27 Dec 2008
  5. John Hew & Chua Shin Lee (my kalyana mitra & ex-schoolmate) : 3 Jan 2009
  6. BK and Soo Fook Ming (my kalyana mitra) : 7 Mar 2009

Friday, July 11, 2008

Wees are lovable!

Just after my TMC meeting which ended at 10.30pm today, I received an sms from my sister:

Che : Dearest mei, we left some fruits for you in the fridge. Happy eating. Good night! :)
Me : Ok. Thank u weery much. :-)

Then, brother also sent smses:

Boi : Mei, remember to eat the fruits when u r back, specially prepared.
Me : Ok. Thank u weery much. :-)
Boi : Most welcomee!

Wee Leng & Kim Wee = The Wees. Wees are lovable! Not because they do me favours... but so much more! Their thoughtfulness. Their genuine care and concern. Their unconditional love.

Mee Leng (me! =D) is so blessed to have such great siblings! By the way, Boi even offered to wash the plate after I finished the fruits. Well, if Che was awake, she would offer to do the same too! Anyway, I insisted on washing the plate myself 'coz they have been too nice already - always!

By the way, Mom is thaaaat tooooo nice too... especially to us - the wees and mee. However, the wees and mee have been mindful (but still can be even more mindful) in doing what we could do and what we should do because we should not, could not and would not want to take her niceness for granted.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Blood donation

In collaboration with the National Blood Centre, Tzu Chi is organising a blood donation drive at Jusco Bukit Tinggi this Sunday (13 April 2008) from 10.30am to 3.30pm.

I'll be assisting at the registration counter. First time. Excited & looking forward to it. :)

Mari, mari... save lives by donating blood.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spring cleaning & ang pows

Spring Festival = Chinese New Year (CNY).

This is definitely a loooonnnggg delayed post as today is already the 43rd day of CNY. Yes, I did my maths and counted : 43. Haha, ok, yes, there's no such thing because Spring Festival only lasts for 15 days.

Before CNY
Every year, the period before CNY is the best time for my house. It gets its annual makeover -- a necessary drastic one. Every year, my family and I somehow manage to turn the house downside up (opposite of upside down ;)) with our magical spring cleaning skills. Thank goodness for CNY -- at least all mess are carefully cleared once a year.

My sister was in Dubai before CNY & during CNY this year. I missed her (because I had to do more cleaning in her absence. Haha.) The period before CNY is the time when I sometimes wished I had more siblings -- Wee Leng and Mee Leng, plus Fee Leng, Pee Leng, Kee Leng, See Leng, etc. :D

Well, it's not that bad lah actually. Spring cleaning is definitely a good form of exercise, right?!

After CNY
Ang pows (red packets). I like my mom's idea of ang pow sharing. Every year, my siblings and I would pool all our ang pow earnings and then divide it into three equal portions. We genuinely disregard how much our respective initial earnings are. Ang pow earnings are extras anyway.

If you have kids, try instilling this practice among them. It teaches them to be unselfish. It allows them to appreciate the beauty of sharing. :)

"May the year of rat brings you happiness and health, peace and prosperity, and lotsa love and laughter." (Received this via sms from CL during CNY. I like the alliterations - h & h, p & p, l & l.) ^_^

Monday, December 17, 2007

Don't give in, don't give up

"... don't give in and don't give up..."

That's part of the many words of wisdom IA imparted to me in dealing with striking opportunities that come by. Her words always leave positive impact on me. :)

"...don't give in and don't give up..."

It sounds simple but profound to me. It's been a week since she said it but it's still lingering in my mind as I keep thinking over and about it. :D

"...don't give in and don't give up..."

This I will, IA. Thanks :)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Lata Kinjang Waterfalls

The sight of any waterfall is therapeutic by itself. :)

When Xue and I were driving up to Cameron (5 months ago! haha), we decided to "detour" to explore Lata Kinjang Falls. It's near Chederiang, Perak. It's about 20 mins from the North-South Expressway Tapah exit. From the Tapah exit, just follow the signboards that say "Chenderiang". The way to the fall is kinda clearly signposted. :)

Nothing that extraordinary about Lata Kinjang waterfalls... but that doesn't mean it wasn't worth going there. It's one of the highest waterfalls in Malaysia and also one of the most easily accessible waterfalls.

Spectacular sights of the falls - cascading 850m down rocky terrain.

Xue wushu-ing.

Me - In an uncreative pose. Haha. :D

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Caving adventure

Some photos of our 3 hours caving @ Gua Tempurung in July 2007:-

Entering the cave


Bending as cave ceiling drops low



"Swimming" (don't be deceived... the water level was wayyyyy too shallow for swimming!) :D

Leng chai (coincidentally, he's my sis' Columbian colleague)

Approaching a pit which leads to another crawlway



Army crawl

Looking at exotic cave formation

Roomy area of the cave

Sliding down about 8 metres



Climbing up, squeezing between big rocks

Emerging from a hole

Climbing steps towards exit

If you're going to explore Gua Tempurung, go for the Grand Tour - nothing less. It's the best yet still decent. It's decent as in not as dangerous or as tough as one may think - Simply because even a 12-year-old and a 50-year-old could do it. =) Go for it! :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Pale Blue Dot

Pale Blue Dot refers to the famous photo of our Earth taken from a distance whereby Earth is just as big (or as small) as a speck of dust.

It's also the title of a book written by Dr. Carl Sagan - the world's most famous astronomer. His book expands on the following:-

Reflections on a Mote of Dust

"We succeeded in taking that picture [from deep space], and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.

The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.

Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us. It's been said that astronomy is a humbling, and I might add, a character-building experience. To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known."
- Dr. Carl Sagan (1934 - 1996)

Nothing beats having Dr. Carl reading the above to us. Click here to listen.

I find the above very meaningful, like it & wanna share it - So, it's here! =)

Thanks Win for sharing it with me today :) Coincidentally, today is the day Malaysia sends her first astronomer to space. Haha. :D

Friday, August 31, 2007

Nation Building Dialogue

Wf, Hx & I had the privilege to attend the Nation Building Dialogue @ Sunway University College on 30 Aug 2007 in conjunction with our 50th Merdeka anniversary. Thanks Ed for telling us about it.

During the dialogue, Tun Dr Mahathir (our former PM) and Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu (former President of MCA and Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia) were supposed to give a special address on "Experiences, Struggles and Lessons from the Past". Unfortunately, both weren't present due to medical reasons. Tun Dr M was discharged from IJN recently and was advised to avoid 'emotional excitement'. :-(

Nonetheless, I learned a lot from the other 5 distinguished panel speakers on "Building a United Malaysian Nation". :) Here are some details on what the speakers shared (based on what i understood, if i understood correctly) :

Toh Puan Uma Sambanthan (Wife of former MIC President, Tun VT Sambanthan)
  • She lives near the surau. Every morning she hears the loud Azan prayers. She doesn't let the loud Azan prayers "disrupt" her peace of mind. Instead, she took it as a reminder for herself to pray in her own way and be grateful to the Almighty for all the blessings. We should do the same - Take it as a reminder to say our own prayers too. By doing so, we will also be respecting our Muslim friends at the same time. :)
  • As Merdeka came along, her parents taught her about freedom - the meaning of independence.
  • In being an effective parent in this modern era, she negotiates with her daughter instead of telling her what to do.
  • As a parent/senior citizen/politician/statesman/etc, one should never blame the younger generation for not being filial/patriotic/grateful if one does not lead by example.
Toh Puan delivered her speech in a wise yet humble motherly manner. She related many insightful & interesting personal stories about herself and her late husband who was one of the Founding Fathers of Malaysia.

Tan Sri Datuk Seri Panglima Simon Sipaun (Vice Chairman of SUHAKAM and former Sabah State Secretary)
  • The melody of a love song called Terang Bulan (Moon Shine) is used as the melody of our national anthem - Negaraku. :) He first sang it just before he left school in 1957.
  • Patriotism is something that is in the mind that comes from the heart; not from slogans (especially misleading ones) and etc.
  • The mother of all problems in Sabah is the overwhelming numbers of refugees and illegal immigrants. They have outnumbered the Sabahans. Detention centres are not solving the problem.
  • His hopes for the nation include:
    • The real value of RM must be realised in all government expenditure.
    • To have more statesmen instead of politicians.
    • To have a standard of good governance.
    • To eliminate the need to indicate race or religion on any forms. Celebrate human commonality.
    • To create a Minister of Indigenous Affairs.
    • The right to own land on ancestry rights should be respected.
    • To have a more equitable distribution of economic wealth.
    • Poverty has no border. Hence we should attack it at source.
    • To have a multicultural government.
Tan Sri Simon's 15 minutes speech was indeed short enough to attract attention but long enough to cover the vital parts - as what he intended it to be. He injected lotsa elements of humour. He is an entertaining speaker who nevertheless effectively delivered a profound speech. :)

Dr Chandra Muzaffar (President of JUST / International Movement for a Just World)
  • We must look ahead in a sober and rational manner.
  • Some websites claim that Malaysia is a total failure, a complete disaster. In his opinion, no thinking person can accept that.
  • Malaysia is one of the most successful colonial countries. We have:
    • Inter-ethnic peace.
    • Cultural diversity at street level!
  • He pays tribute to a group of Malaysians who are seldom praised - Our Policemen. Though some of them are corrupted, they contribute largely to the peace that we enjoy. Their sacrifice for the nation is important. Btw, some police live below the poverty line!
  • In 1950s, KL only has 4.5% Malays. Now, KL has at least 40% Malays. Since non-Malays dominate the economic activities in KL, if the Malay population didn't grow in KL, we would have been on the brink of disaster during the 1997 economic crisis.
  • We are still in a sad state of socio-economic disparity. To combat this, the 'losing ones' should have a greater vigour in fighting competition.
Dr Chandra is very articulated. He speaks with an influential air of confidence. He doesn't address us using "ladies and gentlemen"; he said "friends" instead. :) He is wheelchair bound... when he was wheeled into the hall, I thought he was Stephen Hawkings! At one glance, he looks like Stephen Hawkings from the side. I was not the only one who thought so.

Reverend Dr Hermen Shastri
(Secretary-General of Council of Churches Malaysia)
  • Let's celebrate Unity in Diversity!
  • Interfaith dialogue in Malaysia is not in a good state (yet) in terms of effectiveness.
  • As we are multi-racial and multi-religious, the interfaith commission is important in resolving dispute while preserving peaceful co-existence.
Ambiga Sreenevasan (President of Malaysia Bar Council)
  • Federal Constitution is a contract between the government and the citizen. It was carefully drafted after a long process of negotiation and compromise.
  • As such, every leader and politician must read and understand the Constitution wholly to ensure that they make responsible statements.
  • There should be no silent re-writing of the Constitution.
  • After 50 years of independence, politicians should not treat us like children. They must trust that we can handle sensitive issues. It will be stormy initially, but that will subside as open discussions go on.
  • We should be a secular state.
  • Our strength lies in our diversity.
Tan Sri Dato' Dr Ramon V. Navaratnam (Chairman of Centre for Public Policy Studies at ASLI)
  • After 50 years of Merdeka, we are at a major National Crossroad. Which Jalan or Road are we taking?
    • Jalan Adil - Our PM's road to the future. A road to Fairness for all Malaysians.
    • Jalan Ketuanan - The road of Dominance. Dominate with race and religion.
    • Jalan Tidak Apa - The road of Indifference. Accept all trends and development since there is nothing much that can be done to change or improve the future.
    • Jalan Keluar - The Exit. Being fed-up with uncertainty and fear, just migrate!
  • We cannot do much as individual citizens, but we can exert some influence collectively.
  • Hence, he urged the 5 million unregistered voters to register (urgently!) to vote and vote wisely.
Lastly, the following are what I've gathered from the Q&A Session

Q: The culture of corruption is widespread. It has become an unspoken rule. How to stop corruption?
A: Corruption is like a dirty floor. We cannot clean a dirty floor with a dirty mop.

Q: Federal Constitution is of utmost importance for the nation. When issues go wrong, we must fall back to the Constitution. So, why aren't students and the public being educated about it?
A: It's an inevitable weakness which is needed to safeguard the top-down notch.

Q: Does the public has access to the Federal Constitution?
A: Yes. View it at:

Q: The New Economic Policy (NEP) aims to reduce the disparity between the Chinese minority and the Malay majority. After so many years, the disparity is still obvious. Why?
A: NEP is a Never Ending Policy. :p It has good intention but bad implementation.

Q: Our fathers feel proud to serve the government. Civil servants were the elite those days. It is not at all popular anymore. What happened?
A: There is no equality in opportunity and promotion.

Q: How are ministers appointed? Some are disgracefully underqualified. Some don't appear to know what they are talking about.
A: Ministers are not necessarily the brightest with the highest IQ. However, they are appointed because they are popular, have connections and are influential.


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Alive with a life

Recent so-called "happenings":
  • 21 Jul : Caving adventure @ Gua Tempurung
  • 22 Jul : Cave hopping and makan-makan in Ipoh
  • 22 Jul : Choir performance @ 'Gratitude Night'
  • 25 Jul : Experienced flying Boeing 747-400! Amazing MAS simulator. :)
  • 4 Aug : College best buddy's birthday! =)
  • 7 Aug : Of orchids and frangipani
  • 12 Aug : Medical & dental outreach service for Burmese refugees
  • 17 Aug : Dream a Little Dream - An evening with AirAsia Tony Fernandes
  • 18 Aug : OJA's darling Kate Lynn's full moon makan
  • 19 Aug : (LC = WL)+ (HX = KW) + M + D + m = ^-^ Happy day. :)
  • 23 Aug : TM eval contest
  • 25 Aug : Malaysia International Fireworks Competition (MIFC) @ Putrajaya
  • 26 Aug : Floria Putrajaya (Flower and Garden Festival) - Lovely!!
  • 28 Aug : On leave to run errandssss. Productive day! :-)

Activities/events to look forward to:

  • 29 Aug : Hero Chew's surprise birthday makan
  • 30 Aug : Nation Building Dialogue @ Sunway
  • 2 Sep : On duty @ free clinic. EK coming along - YaY!! =)
  • 3 Sep : The making of angku, fried sesame balls and kuih lapis :-)
  • 5 Sep : Sign language class
  • 8 Sep : IMU carnival
  • 8 Sep : 'The Secret' show and talk @ BGF
  • 9-16 Sep : Beijing ^-^
Sounds like I've retired, eh?! Haha... :D
Well, the peak period at work is over for now. *phew~* ^_^

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Never look down on anybody

"Never look down on anybody unless you are helping them up."
-Jesse Jackson-

Source: The back of a t-shirt I bought from Sukhihotu. :-)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

One Dollar

I spent the first week of May 2007 with Xue and his family in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Riel is Cambodia
’s local currency. However US dollars are generally used in all transactions – from accommodation to transportation to food and admission fees to temples.

In Siem Reap, many young, adorable, poor children sell one dollar items everywhere. It is common to see kids roaming the Siem Reap streets approaching tourists to buy one dollar items. Here are four of my one-dollar-related encounters:-

Encounter 1

Outside Angkor Wat, an eight-year-old girl asked me, “Lady, you wanna buy postcards? 10 for only one dolla.”

Then she went “1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10.” as she counted each one.

She pleaded, “Please buy. Only one dolla. Please help. Only one dolla.”

Looking at her condition and expression, I didn’t have the heart to turn her down. Afterall, she was just helping her poor family to make a living.

Encounter 2

Near the Bayon Temple, another little girl approached me, “Lady, you wanna buy bracelets? Three for one dolla."

"I need money to go to school. How about 10 postcards for only one dolla…. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10.” She smiled with hope.

I smiled in return and asked her, “How old are you?”

“Seven,” she said.

I was shocked because she has the height of a three-year-old! She looks fragile.

Then she asked, “Where are you from?”

I replied, “

She prompted, “You mean
Kuala Lumpur?”

I nodded.

Then she went, “Satu, Dua, Tiga, Empat, … (up to Sepulah)” as she counted the postcards again.

That was Malaysia's national language. I was impressed! I then found out that she took the initiative to learn up 1 to 10 in 19 languages including Mandarin, French, Japanese and Korean… just to spark conversations with tourists!
Imagine that... she's only seven!

Encounter 3

In a restaurant, a nine-year-old boy came to our makan table and again, “Lady, look! Nice postcards of
Cambodia sceneries. You can give them to your friends. Only one dolla for 10.”

I had to say no because I had bought enough postcards.

He paused, smiled and then turned to Xue and asked, “You wanna play tic-tac-toe with me? If you win, I give you one postcard. If you lose, you give me one dollar and I give you 10 postcards.”

Such an enterprising kid he was!

We didn’t want to 'gamble' with him, so we said no.

He persisted and said, “If you win, I will leave. If you lose, you buy, ok?”

Cambodian kids are creative. They are potential successful sales personnels.

Encounter 4

As we “cruised” around the Tonle Sap floating market on a 10-men tongkangboat, a teenaged girl rowed her small run-down boat towards our boat. Her boat slowly touched our boat slightly. Then, she held the side of our boat with her left hand and held a tray of cold canned drinks on her right hand.

She said, “Hot day. Cold drinks. Only one dolla for one.”

Her boat was exposed to the burning heat from the sun and it was almost tearing apart. In contrast, our boat had shed and cushion seats.

On one hand, I wanted to buy a canned drink from her simply because I sympathised with her. One dollar can meet her day’s needs. Afterall, she was not plain begging. She puts effort to sell something to make a living.

On the other hand, I didn’t want to buy any canned drink from her because firstly, I didn’t need a drink at that moment. Secondly, I usually avoid carbonated drinks and thirdly, one dollar for one canned drink is expensive! One dollar dilemma. Would you buy??


Some say that we shouldn't buy postcards/bracelets/etc from those children in
Cambodia. Otherwise, they will continue to be used or misused to earn for their families; and there will be no end to “child labour”. If we want to help them, we should help by donating to the right channels.

On the contrary, some argued that it is alright to buy postcards/bracelets/etc from those children because we will surely make their day, draw smiles on their faces, and allow their families to get by the day easier. Instant positive impact - isn't that good?

Having said that, would you buy any postcards from those children? In my opinion, neither is completely right nor wrong.

What is one dollar to us? What is one dollar to those poor Cambodians? When we spend one dollar, they earn one dollar. We will be one dollar poorer while they will be one dollar richer. However, being one dollar poorer can hardly ever affect our standards of living in any way; while one dollar richer can make a significant difference to a poor fellow Cambodian for a day or two.

The real value of one dollar in the hands of a poor Cambodian is significantly higher than the real value of one dollar in our hands.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Respect books

Noted the following from the walls of Borders @ Times Square today:-

"Books are the quietest and most constant of friends, they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors and the most patient of teachers."
-Charles W. Eliot

"Books are the carriers of civilisation. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought & speculation at a standstill."
-Barbara Tuchman

By the way, "...respect books..." was the theme for 2006 World Book Day.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Mongkang (blur)

Signs of overworking which I've experienced:
  • I dialled "9" before making an outgoing call from home. Hey ML, you only need to do that when making calls from office phone. :D
  • When I was just about to wake up on a Sunday morning, mom asked what I wanted to makan for breakfast. Rightaway I said, "Page 7". One minute after that, I burst out laughing when I figured out why my mom was laughing hysterically. :D
  • While I was talking to a client over the phone@work, I wanted to type a few figures onto an Excel spreadsheet. I "typed" on the phone keypad instead of the keyboard! :D
ML definitely needs to cultivate mindfulness. *Taking a deep breath and wondering if there are any effective shortcuts to do so* :) Ah, just be mindful lah. :)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

To Taiwan with Tzu Chi (7 of 7)

Overwhelming hospitality

Too many commisioners ushered us upon arrival at the Taipei airport - as though we were the world's most distinguished VVIPs!

FYI, we are novice volunteers. On the other hand, the commisioners who greeted us are experienced volunteers who have vowed to dedicate their life to voluntary missions! They sang welcoming songs, clapped rhythmically and smiled naturally all the way. Warm & touching experience.

The commisioners even transported our luggages from the airport to the bus, then from the bus to right outside our respective dorms - all to our surprise. There were over 100 luggages to be sorted to more than 10 dorms. Everything was done swiftly and orderly 'behind the scene' (i.e. with hardly anyone's notice).

Upon our arrival at every Still Thought Halls (i.e. Tzu Chi centres), we were also given the warmest possible welcome by the commisioners - Different groups of commisioners at every centre, but they were equally genuinely loving and warm hearted. Hard to believe, but it's true. Their sincerity was felt beyond doubt! :)

When departing from every centre, they sang goodbye songs & waved goodbye with both hands non-stop until we stepped into the bus. From the bus, we waved with gratefulness in return - that's the least we could do. They continued waving with both hands until our bus was beyond sight.

Even when it rained, the commisioners held an umbrella each and stood in a line such that the umbrellas formed a shelter for us from the bus right up to the doorstep of the Still Thought Hall! :) Creative, eh?! I was utterly impressed!

The commisioners not only cared for the community. They truly cared for fellow volunteers too. Every small detail was cared for - in food preparation and food decoration to daily programme to comfort everywhere. The Taiwanese Tzu Chi members are simple people who project the typical vibrant spirit of Tzu Chi volunteers in everything they do. Everything that they do is perfect; nothing could be better. They are examplary. What are their secrets? Perhaps it's their passion. They just do all that they could do in the best possible manner with downright sincere big loving heart!

Back in Taiwan we were indeed at home with so many unconditionally loving family members. Lovely! They form a big part of a blissful paradise on earth.

Special volunteers

She can't walk unaided as she has lost a foot. However, that never prevented her from being committed in Tzu Chi recycling activities.

For this volunteer, if it takes 10 minutes for a normal person to walk to a place but it may take 10 hours for her, she will still walk because she will reach the destination too. :)

She is blind due to glaucoma. Despite her blindness, with strong determination she has learnt to differentiate various types of bottles by feeling the bottle shape & bottle cover & bottle print. Hence, she is able to assist in segregating bottles based on their respective quality for recycling.

PS: Photos courtesy of Bro WFC

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

To Taiwan with Tzu Chi (6 of 7)

This post covers two areas: Recycling Centres and Still Thought Halls.

(1) Recycling Centres
Recycling centres are what they are normally known; but Tzu Chi calls them environmental protection centres. These centres are carefully built by volunteers themselves.

Creative, economical and environmental friendly.

This centre was built on cleared bamboo groove. Bamboos from the groove were not trashed; they were fully used to build the ceiling and the wall of the centre!

They even used recycled materials to build the centre - i.e. materials salvaged from dismantled temporary shelters which were built for 9/21 earthquake victims.

Bicycle rims recycled to form stairs railing at one of the environmental protection centres!

Grounds are laid with unattached interlocking blocks whereby rainwater can sip through the gaps of the blocks and then chanelled from the ground to the toilets flush!

A bike decorated with brand-new-looking recycled toys. As this bike goes rounding in the village, every kid who contributes an item for recycling will get a toy in exchange. They can choose their toys.

These aren't ordinary stacks of newspapers. These newspapers have been neatly folded in two-plies into two halves. This increases the value of the newspapers by three times when they are sold to fruits/vegetables sellers.

This chart shows how PET spun bottles (most mineral water bottles are PET spun, i think) are processed to produce spun yard fibres for blankets and soft toy stuffing. They can be further processed into synthetic fabric.

(2) Still Thought Halls (Jing Si Tang)
Still Thought Halls are activities centres of Tzu Chi.

The Halls are simple yet majestic and serene. Impressive architecture! The halls are ever so clean and neat! Thanks to the team of dedicated volunteers there.

The design of Still Thought Halls highlights nature's beauty. The delightful view of ground-and-sky can be savoured from various angles.

(Not in pic: The surrounding landscaping brings out relax and calm feelings)

Note how glass panels (roof and windows) are affixed wherever appropriate to optimise the use of natural sunlight - to save electricity.

By the way, this particular hall has the shape of Tzu Chi's logo from a bird's eye view.

A spacious auditorium with twinkling stars on the ceiling.

Prayer hall

Activity hall

Comfy dorm

PS: Five photos of Still Thought Halls courtesy of Bro WFC. :)

Tzu Chi International ReliefTzu Chi Global

Tzu Chi International ReliefHospice