I am going to planet Mars – again!

Seriously!*

My boarding passes:

I went in 2014 for the Orion Flight Test.

Orion Flight Test

And I will be going again next year (2018) for the InSight Mission!

Insight Mission

Martian-status since 18 October 2014 – exactly 3 years ago.

FF

Frequent flyer yo!

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The Mission Patch for both trips:

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Orion test flight mission patch, 2014

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InSight Mission patch

SO EXCITING!

“What this is about?” you ask.

Well, the gist of it is:

In 2014, the names of 1.38 million people were encoded in a chip and loaded on the Orion spacecraft on its first spaceflight test – including mine. 🙂

See the chip here: https://mars.nasa.gov/resources/6752/

And now, applications were opened on October 2 and until Nov. 1, 2017 for the InSight Mission in 2018. Again, the names will be loaded into a silicon microchip which will fly with InSight for its mission to Mars. I have just submitted my name for this mission! 🙂

Here is an image of the chip mounted on the InSight Lander. They will put this second microchip next to this one.

I may not have “physically” been to Mars, at least I can legitimately say I have (even if it’s just in the form of my name in a microchip) gone where not all names have gone before. 😀

(You can read more about the mission here.)

So, are you going to join me?

Submit your name here: https://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/participate/send-your-name/insight/

Let’s go to Mars!!!

P.S. NASA plans to develop Orion into a vehicle that could one day carry astronauts into space. Who knows, maybe “frequent flyers” will one-day get to call shotgun on a trip. 😉

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How To Make Pempek

Almost 3 months ago, I was in Indonesia.

Palembang was my first port of call before I went on to Jogjakarta.

Part of what I love about travelling is learning about the culture of a place. Indonesia is rich with that!

For Palembang, specifically, one such item is the food!

Now, “Pempek” (or “empek-empek”) is a savoury fishcake delicacy from Palembang, made of fish and tapioca.

Fortunately, I was able to learn how to make authentic Palembang Pempek while I was there!

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The basic ingredients are pretty simple – fishmeat, water, monosodium glutamate/MSG and salt.

But I’d rather show you how to make it rather than type it all out so, here is my video recording of some aunties from St Stefanus, Palembang, teaching us how to make authentic Palembang pempek!

(Don’t worry, all the important stuff are subtitled in all my videos – remember to click the “CC” button to activate subtitles!)

Pempek is served with rich sweet and sour sauce called kuah cuka or kuah cuko or just “cuko”. And this is how to make cuko:

The above is the basic Palembang Pempek. For other variants, you can check my other videos below as well:

Pempek kulit/Fish-Skin Pempek:

Pempek kapal selam/Submarine Pempek
Pempek telur kecil/Small Egg Pempek
Pempek pistel/Papaya pempek

Good luck! Let me know if you succeed and how it taste yeah!

Even better, let me try your creation too! =D

How I accidentally climbed a Mountain

Yes, you read that right.

How can one accidentally climb a mountain? Well, let me tell you!

I was in Kuching for the Sacerdotal (Priestly) Ordination of a friend, Rev. Fr. Galvin, over the weekend. We used to go to the same University, were of the same intake and was part of the same community, called Young Catholic Undergraduates (YCU), so of course, his Big Day (Ordination to the Priesthood) was bound to be a reunion of old friends.

IMG20170923090355But on the day after the Ordination, some friends suggested we head up to the Catholic Memorial Pilgrimage Centre (CMPC), located at the Slope of Mount Singai, Kampung Tajong Singai, Bau. It is a venue for the Catholic Community to organise retreats, training and religious related events. CMPC was an integral part of our group of friends as we would go up to CMPC at least once a year back in the day. Some of them still do even now, but the last time I went up was 10 years ago, so of course, I agreed to join them.

The Ordination was all I packed for this trip (read: ill-equipped),  but since it was plank-walks and staircases all the way up to CMPC, I wasn’t particularly concerned. Everyone insisted I not use my ladies’ sandals though so I took up Nico’s offer to wear his crocs sandals instead, sans socks. And up we went…

As I recall, going up to CMPC had always been quite a challenge – even back in the day – as some parts were pretty steep. For those who have not been to CMPC, there are Stations of the Cross along the way up that also double as rest-stops. I have gone up without any stops years ago and I have gone up by stopping and praying at each Station as well. But I have never had my knees feel like jelly, which was what happened this time (the difference 10 years make). Lest my knees fully give up on me, I had to stop at almost each Station after the first five, but I still made it up, Thank God.

But that’s where things started to get really interesting.

After a brief picnic (we brought some food with us) at CMPC, Nico suggested, “Hey, shall we go to the top (of Mount Singai)?”

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A jungle path leading to the top of Mount Singai is located just beside the Longhouse.

There were 6 of us in the group – 2 (Syl and Nick) have been to the top before whilst the rest of us (Nico, Ted, Edwin and myself) have not. Prior to this, I never knew it was even possible to go to the top. Needless to say, in excitement, it was a unanimous YES from all of us, although I was starting to feel concerned. I mean, having only brought dresses, dress shoes and a handbag for the weekend (and jeans, tshirts and ladies’ sandals for “casual wear”), I was in no way equipped for climbing a mountain!

“It’s not that high,” said Syl, who had been up a few times.

“How many minutes or hours is “not that high”?” I asked.

“Depends. Some parts are quite steep.”

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And so we started… There was also a group of foreign students from a local private university that coincidentally started their ascend the same time.

IMG-20170923-WA0011My knees were fine during the climb. I wish I could say the same for my feet. Wearing crocs (sans socks!), my feet was starting to blister. And my hands as well, from the rope we use to pull ourselves up along the steeper parts… My handbag – that was just an inconvenience. I was just thankful I could sling it across my shoulder.

 

After a considerable amount of time and climbing a steep part, I asked Syl, “This is the steep part you mentioned?”

“There’s more.”

Internal gasp.

“It’s still a long way up.”

Internal sigh.

We continued our ascend. The group of students earlier had started to split up as some were faster than the others. At one point, our group of 6 became 4 as Nick and Edwin were left behind. When Nick rejoined us, he reported that Edwin could not go up any farther and would just wait for us where he was. And so were 5…

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But one steep slope after another, it became 3 – 2 as Syl, Nico and Ted went up faster, leaving behind myself and Nick who was kind enough to keep me company. My feet was really uncomfortable but there was nowhere to go but up. Fellow climbers (a few from the student group and others) were also taking their own pace (some above us, some below) and Nick would be cheering us all to continue: “Almost there!” “You can do it!” “I can see the sun!” “5 more steps!” “5 more minutes!”

In reality, we were nowhere near the top yet.

Small talks with fellow climbers along the way was interesting though. It made the climb more bearable.

One of the students exclaimed (dramatically): “Someone should make a documentary of me, before I die!” as he huffed and puffed up a steep slope.

Another climber retorted to Nick’s “5 more minutes!” cheer with a “That’s what you said 5 minutes ago!!!” and to his “I can see the sun!”, “I can see the sun from my room, man!”

Funny exchanges happen when people are exhausted. Hahaha.

I passed a climber who was taking a break on the way up.

“As you can see, I am in no way prepared for this climb.” I said, as I motioned to what I was wearing.

“Neither am I”, he agreed. “Just got back from the club and my mate was like, ‘Hey let’s go for a climb!'”

“Doesn’t sound like a great idea now does it?” I quipped.

“No! And I’m tipsy to boot!” he exclaimed.

I chuckled as I considered the next slope…

There were also a few climbers who were on their way down as well and passed us by. I was tempted to ask them how much further we had to reach the top but decided not to, for fear they would say it was still a long way to go.

The most interesting thing that happened on the way up was when one of those on the way down locked eyes with mine as I climbed up a steep slope. It was a familiar face that I had not seen for almost 10 years.

“Fancy bumping into you here!” both Kevin and I agreed. We had a brief catch up as his group was catching up and Nick helped take a photo of us.

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Turned out Nick in turn, knew one of Kevin’s friends.

“I’m with him,” she said, pointing at Kevin.

“I’m with her,” Nick pointed at me.

“So is it still far up to the top?” Nick asked her.

“I turn back halfway,” she replied.

My heart stopped beating for a second. We’re not even HALFWAY up???

Fortunately, she laughed and continued, “I finished already lah. It’s not much further…”

My heart started beating again.

After what seemed like ages and after I don’t know how many “5 steps” and “5 minutes” later, we finally reached the top!!!

Was the view worth it?

Actually, I don’t know.

It was hazy and we couldn’t really see much.

But considering how ill-equipped I was and I reached the top anyways (and it was my first mountain!), I was really pleased.

And that my friend, was how I accidentally climbed a Mountain!

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At the top of Mount Singai, 562 metres above sea-level

For the record, it took me 1 hour and 20 minutes to reach the top – not bad for an ill-equipped first-timer hahaha!

 

Linkin Park Concert tickets selling fast!

18 days & counting down to the Linkin Park ‘Living Things’ World Tour Live In Malaysia 2013 Concert…

AND the RM95 (M3) and RM550 (The Pit) tickets are ALREADY SOLD OUT!

The band will play at Stadium Nasional, Bukit Jalil on August 19 at 8pm & is expected to attract 5,000 regional fans to flock to Kuala Lumpur. Linkin Park is set to impress domestic and overseas crowds with this being the summer holidays for most nations so they can stay to enjoy the many attractions offered in Malaysia. The nearly a decade much-awaiting concert will surprise fans with Linkin Park vowing to give its best through its stage performance and rock with fans! This is a huge attraction both domestically and regionally as the band is exclusively touring Malaysia in this part of the SEA region.

Linkin Park Picture

The tickets that are still available are: free seating – RM195 (M2) & RM295 (M1); and free standing – RM350 (Playground Zone), RM450 (Rock Zone) and RM680 (VIP). Tickets can be purchased by visiting http://www.ticketcharge.com.my or by calling (+60) 3 9222 8811. For more concert information visit http://www.linkinparkmalaysia.com.my or http://www.facebook.com/thewonderlandplus

Seating Layout

The concert is organized by The WonderLand+, supported by Malaysia Major Events, a division of Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB) an agency under the Ministry of Culture & Tourism Malaysia; sponsored by Ford Fiesta and Etiqa Insurance Berhad, Co-Ordinating Partner Impresario Music, Music Label Warner Music Malaysia, Official Radio Station hitz.fm, Supporting Radio Station ERA fm, Official TV Stations TV3, ntv7, 8TV, TV9, Official Cable TV FOX International Channels, Official Hotel Aloft Kuala Lumpur Sentral, Promo Partners KKBOX, Speedy, Rock Corner, Club 99, Lifestyle Mobile Platform LINE and a joint-effort with AirAsia in promoting the concert.

AIrAsia Special Promotion For Linkin Park Fans!

Are you flying or booking your flights to Kuala Lumpur between now until 18 August 2013? If you are then you’re in for a special treat!

Check it out!

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AIrAsia Special Promotion For Linkin Park Fans To Catch The Concert In Malaysia

Linkin Park is exclusively touring Malaysia in this part of the SEA region as Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam are not included in the tour AND AirAsia travelers flying in to Kuala Lumpur from Singapore, Jakarta, Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City can enjoy 10% discount of concert ticket(s) during the promotion and booking period from 19 July 2013 until 18 August 2013!

Linkin Park ‘Living Things’ World Tour Live In Malaysia 2013 is organized by The WonderLand+ will take place at Stadium Nasional, Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur on August 19 at 8pm. Ticket prices are categorized into free seating – RM95, RM195, RM295; and free standing – RM350 (Playground Zone), RM450 (Rock Zone), RM550 (The Pit) and RM680 (VIP).

Check out the previous post for more details on the Concert.

2012 in review

Happy New Year 2013!!! 😀

8 as is a good date as any to write my first post for 2013, but as usual before things can start, others must end…

Thus here are the milestones of my 2012 (both in the blogging world & off)

At the beginning of 2012, I said I would live in the moment & trust God more and I think 2012 was just that:

I came to a more concrete realisation of my dreams of being a writer (quite unplanned)

By February, my blog was chosen as Blog of the Month and an article of mine appeared in a local (Sarawak) paper. And though not because of my writing (but it was print media so it denotes an honorable mention :P) I also made an appearance in a Brunei local paper.

In April, I applied for a travel writing scholarship and though I did not get that, I did get 2 awesome opportunities (major highlights of my year!) – I had the opportunity to actually cover 2 big-scale events on a media pass!

See me in the press pit? 😉 STILL one of my fave photos of the year!

They were the Borneo Jazz Festival in Miri in May & the Rainforest World Music Festival in Kuching in July – these 2 events encompassed all that I love: music, travel & writing. It was awesome!

Through a series of events, I also sat for a journalist exam with a local paper. If it is to be, I will be called for an interview next. Trust God. 🙂

Living in the moment meant I was up to whatever life presented…which led me to some very interesting things..

In April, I joined a Run & ran 5km – with less than 1 week of training at that! 😉 If future me had told me in January 2012 that I’d be running in 3 months I wouldn’t have believed myself.

On a whim (bought the tixs the night before I flew), I finally went to Kota Kinabalu (prior to this it had always been just passing through) in August & in September, for the first time, I stepped foot in Penang. While the former can be checked off as “done”, Penang requires another more proper visit. 😀 And since I’m on the subject of travelling, Labuan was “done” in April 2012 and Bintulu in February.

With those, I guess 2012 was a “Cuti-Cuti Malaysia” year for me…plus the multiple trips to Miri & at least 3 trips to Kuching.

Life & work caught up with me towards the end of the year (thus my blog was on halt from Sept-Dec) but if I could summarise those months into a blog title it would be: “3 Weddings & a Conference” – 1 of those weddings was that of a very dear friend of mine. :’) Congrats to all 3 couples!

And so ends my review of 2012 (in general).

It had been a great year filled with memories & experiences money can’t buy…no matter where I went or what I did, it was those who were with me (be it physically or in spirit) that made them special.

Thank you for journeying with me in 2012 & I look forward to more adventures together in 2013. 😉

Leaving you now with a review of Perfect Imperfections for 2012 from the guys at WordPress.com:

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 11,000 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 18 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

I want to be a Travel Writer!

Earlier this month, my brother sent me an intriguing text.

It was about this Travel Writing Scholarship to Southeast Asia organized by WorldNomads.com.

Here’s the gist of the scholarship:

First off – Singapore, to go on assignment for five days under the mentorship of Rough Guides writer Richard Lim to review and update ‘The Rough Guide to Singapore’.

Next- Bali, meet up with Stuart McDonald, founder of Travelfish, the online travel guide to Southeast Asia, before heading off on six days of cultural insight and adventure in Indonesia.

Lastly – Malaysia, for a food odyssey through Kuala Lumpur and Penang with former local and cookbook author of award winning hsa*ba Burmese cookbook, Tin Cho Chaw, to explore how cuisine shapes the lives of Malaysians.

If you know me at all, you’ll know that I love Travelling and Writing, as such travel writing is the perfect career, my dream job! The opportunity to be mentored and be on assignment like a real travel writer is just something too precious to miss out on. So, what did I need to do to apply?

1. Write. Craft a 2000 character or less (this includes spaces) travel focused essay based on a personal experience around one of the following themes;

a. ‘Understanding a Culture through Food’

b. ‘A Local Encounter that Changed my Life’

c. ‘Seeing the World through Others Eyes’

d. ‘Giving Back on the Road’

2. Complete an entry form which includes contact details and a maximum 800 character essay on why you should be chosen and what the opportunity will mean for you.

So I did!

Click here to read my entry for this scholarship.

One person was only allowed one entry so may the best writer win!

I know competition is stiff,  but to be a travel writer is my destiny. The winner will be announced on May 17th – to win this would make a really really awesome birthday present!