Friday, December 29, 2006


What I Learned In 2006:

1. I learned that travelling is one of the greatest things in life and I am blessed that my job brings me to the most amazing places right at my doorstep. Even if I have to deal with leeches down my cleavage.

2. I learned that the biggest obstacle you can face is yourself. I didn't think I could rock climb or trek for five hours uphill and upstream but once I got over the whole, "Oh my god I'm going to die" phase, it wasn't so bad.

3. I learned that my girlfriends are invaluable. Be it a bad day at work, impulsive shopping, unexpected news, your car breaking down and failed relationships, no one stands beside you quite like they do.

4. I learned that my family is the one constant thing in my life that I take for granted.

5. I learned that I'm getting older and there's more to life than hitting the clubs every weekend.

6. I learned the 8-second rule: Everytime someone pisses me off and I'm about to say something I might regret, I count to 8 and I find myself actually calming down and walking away.

7. I learned that people are not what they seem, even if you think you've known them for years.

8. Hence, I learned that he never really loved me anyway.

9. I learned that high heels can make you feel fabulous...But for only 2 hours. After that, you'd better have a good pair of Nike trainers on standby

10. I learned I'm never going to be skinny and I'll always love food. So there.

11. I learned that having your heart broken hurts like hell. And having it broken over and over in a span of 12 months is even worse.

12. But I also learned that the only way you'll recognise and appreciate the good is to experience the bad.

13. I learned that no matter how i try, I cannot hate Christmas.

14. I learned that long distance relationships are difficult, expensive and frustrating. But with the right person, distance is irrelevant.

15. I learned that one year can crawl painstakingly slowly or zoom by ridiculously fast: It just depends on your frame of mind.

The past year has been a circus of sorts.It only gets better from here. Watch this space.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Tis the season. So they say.

Six days to Christmas. This year, I wanted to hate Christmas. I wanted to scoff at the warm wishes and be annoyed at the repetitive Christmas carols. I wanted to burn every over-decorated Christmas tree that crossed my path and tell Santa to stuff something else besides someone's stocking.

Bah humbug.

But i could not. I CANNOT. I'm a schmuck for Christmas and I always will be. Sigh. Yes, I am disappointed I won't be spending it with Haw but I suppose 'punishing' Christmas won't solve anything. It will be less than merry given the circumstances though. I'll get a little nostalgic, cry a bit and continue to shake the presents underneath the tree hoping there's something else besides a flouroscent green photo frame that has 'I is wishing you the happy day of your life' emblazoned across it. That said...Stay tuned for my wish-list!

I finished my Christmas shopping too. It's all about strategy and time management (of course it helps I'm on leave). Now to wrap them. Not exactly my forte.

Christmas can be such hard work.

"You give me something
That makes me scared alright
This could be nothing
But i'm willing to give it a try."
- The very earnest James Morrison. Currently playing endlessly in my head.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Friday. Why-day.

My annual leave officially started yesterday (after the whole Wednesday fiasco - see previosu entry). BUT as luck would have it, I had to swing by the office, sign some documents and head to my printer's place. So technically...I was working. Again. Bloody hell.

Oh oh oh and guess what? I went into the office today. Because there's an urgent meeting that I must attend. My boss sheepishly said, "So sorry to have to call you in." Yeah, I bet you're sorry. Had to tell the admin to withdraw my half day leave today.

Tell me again why I bothered taking my annual leave?


That aside...There have been good bits to my so-called time off.

1. I did my hair! Got some choppy layers, got my hair coloured with funky highlights.

2. Went shopping. Again. Bought two tops, Christmas pressies, more toiletries. Stay tuned.

3. Brought my parents out for seafood - i love butter prawns!

4. My siblings and I presented my dad and mum their early Xmas present: A spanking new Honda CRV! We tied the car with a huge red ribbon and I drove up the house honking the horn. I'll never forget the look on my dad's face. CRV: Expensive. Look on dad's face: Priceless.

5. Had dinner at my sister's place - mainly to babysit my 3-year old niece, Leilana, while her parents and sisters are out saving a whale in one of the nearby islands (I know how unbelievable that sounds but I kid you not). I played 'indoor soccer' with Leilana and after one minute, could not keep up with her energy level. This means two things: 1) I am aging. 2) I am so out of shape.

The weekend beckons. I haven't chatted with Haw for a couple of days now (the longest record so far!) because he's been busy with his semester end project. I have a party to plan for small group of friends. Also on my schedule is that long-awaited trip to the spa, more Christmas shopping and the arrival of my cousin Patrick from Manila. More stories on the adventures of the Fridaycat-kind...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I don't need this.

Today reminded me why I should start looking for another job.

I should be on leave tomorrow. But no. They need me to do some stuff. So i'm coming back in. This is what happens when they realise you're not really going anywhere while you're on leave so, hey, why don't you come into work?


Selfish bastards. I could almost see them jumping for joy when they found out my visa was rejected and I was stuck in KK. My boss actually asked, "So you're still taking your leave?"
Dumbass. Hell yeah i am.

I am so angry. My whole holiday plan was ruined...Couldn't they cut me some slack and leave me alone? Oh and to top it off...I found out that the Board of Directors is not happy with the monthly publication. Stale. Boring. Bad photos.

I don't need this right now. Truly.

Monday, December 11, 2006

When in distress...


I'm on an official mission to cheer myself up. And that can only mean one thing: Retail therapy. Ah yes, shopping malls, paper bags, shoes, handbags,unnecessary items from Watson's...I love 'em all.
Saturday was a 'me me me' day. I actually arrived at the shopping mall before the shops opened, haha. Talk about kiasu. I started with Watson's. My little piece of heaven. Even shopping for toothpaste brings such joy ("Extra mint or regular? Ah decisions..."). I enjoyed a solo lunch at the overpriced Kenny Roger's Roasters, where i took my damn sweet time because today was all about me. I decided to catch a movie, Happy Feet, at 12:30pm. The guy at the ticket counter asked me twice, "One ticket?One?" No, I think i'll buy another ticket for my personality. Yes la, bozo, ONE. It was a happy movie and i actually laughed out loud a few times. I did glance at the empty seat beside me once in a while but quickly told myself not to go there.
The movie was followed by more shopping (so many shoes, so little time!) and a trip to the hair salon. All in all, I spent 9 hours in the shopping mall. My record still stands at 12 hours though. This week's mission: To traipse 2 more shopping malls at my own leisurely pace. I love my credit card. I love that I have been so clever with my savings (actually since my Canadian trip isn't happening, it just means the money I saved for it is going to the Melissa Shopping Fund). I love being so indulgent and materialistic. I'm thinking of hitting the spa this weekend. I could use a hot stone massage and a body scrub.
On another note, we celebrated Mia's birthday last week. A small and cozy affair with the chicas:
My gorgeous cousin. I love you but I hate being older than you! (hey seven months can make quite a difference ok...)
I'm at work today, just settling some stuff before I officially go on leave this Wednesday. Can't wait.
"Cuz we are living in a material world...
And I am ma-material girl."
-Madonna singing my song.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Sleep won't come.

It's Friday morning. Just after midnight. I should be sleeping but I can't bring myself to hit the sack.

Because come sunrise, I'm going to eventually open my eyes and stare at the winter coat hanging in my closet. And my neatly folded sweaters serve to silently mock my plans of having a white Christmas. My stupid purple suitcase sits in the corner.

I've been trying so hard all day to keep a smile on my face, telling everyone, "Ah it's ok. So my plans didn't work out this time. It's cool." The fact of the matter is, it's not cool. I'm disappointed as hell. I wanted to go on a holiday. I wanted to get on that damn plane, fly 16 hours, be jet-lagged and fall asleep in his arms. I wanted to wake up on Christmas morning and see the snow fall outside my window.

Instead I'm going to spend the next few weeks wishing I was anywhere but here.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Lest We Forget.

In 1945, over 1000 prisoners of war (POWs - mainly Australians and British servicemen) were forced to march some 250 km, from Sandakan to Ranau. The Japanese were 'transferring' them to Jesselton to become coolie labourers but they ended up in Ranau due to Allied air activity on the West Coast (where Jesselton/Kota Kinabalu is). There were three groups of POWS who were on the Sandakan-Ranau Death March - the first group being the fittest, the last being the least. Of the 1000-over POWs, only 6 survived. The others died of various reasons: disease, malnutrition, fatigue or killed by the Japanese for being weak or for attempting escape. The march was a horrible ordeal: barely any food, little water and some men only had the clothes on their back and walked barefeet. Death was considered a gentle way out.

Last weekend, my colleagues and I had the opportunity to experience what was considered the toughest route of the infamous Sandakan Death March, namely Taviu Hill in Telupid. I was very familiar with the story of the Sandakan Death March, having organised/attended countless events & memorials in honour of the POWs who died, but to fully appreciate and understand the suffering they went through, I decided to actually retrace the route of the unfortunate soldiers.

Our journey took us from KK to Ranau, where our first stop was the Kundasang War Memorial. We were shown a 15-minute video on the Sandakan Death March, followed by a quick tour of the memorial.

Outside the Memorial, with a fantastic backdrop of the mountain.

Our journey continued to Telupid, where we would make several stops to visit the various POW routes. We finally reached this one:

We stood on the bridge. Sprawling valleys and hills, dense foliage. Simply amazing. Until we found out that this was going to be our exact hiking location. Yikes.

So we checked into our resthouse, had a good night's rest and the next morning, were rearing to go. "Please please please let a bus come along..."

The first hour and a 10 minutes was a relatively easy walk through a plantation. It was a little muddy but nothing we couldn't handle.

"See? Piece of cake. la la la..."

The next bit proved to be a bit more tricky. We had to hike some hour and a half along a river. More like IN the river, which was pretty much a rocky stream and didn't go too deep. It was nice and shady and I was often tempted to just dunk my whole body in the river. According to our guide Tham Yau Kong ( , many POWs died in this area. A chilling thought but surprisingly it was very calm and peaceful

This is me happy to see the other walkers resting at a pit stop. Yay, i can sit down for a while!Climbing over fallen trees, balancing on slippery rocks and ducking through branches slowed us down a lot.

I am a jungle trekker, hear me roar! Flanked by Walter (left) who was my walking buddy from beginning to end. So nice of him to wait for me, heh heh. The other Mel (right) who was waaaaay in front. Hmph, kawan konon.

The last bit is up up up...All the way up Taviu Hill. I could see why this was the toughest bit. Slippery slopes, narrow paths and leeches made in a complete nightmare. Imagine the POWs who had to go through this without food,water and shoes. I was exhausted beyond belief but everytime i wanted to give up,I thought of the men who died right here and how they struggled with each step. It kept me going. Tham explained that this hill was where the Japanese would shoot the weak and ailing soldiers and just roll their bodies down the hill.

Smiling through the sore muscles and leech-free! (ok sort of. One of the buggers still managed to crawl into my shoe). Five and a half hours later, I complete the Death March route. That's Rinto. Saja wanna be in the photo.

Group photo outside Sabah Tea Garden. Everyone is extremely tired at this point. But everyone left not regretting a single drop of blood, sweat or tear shed throughout the experience. At the risk of sounding cliched...It was a life-changing experience.

I still hate leeches though.

Check out for more comments on the Sandakan Death March experience.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Plan B

I spent the weekend jungle-trekking for 5 hours but i'll blog about that later.

I dunno how much longer I can do this. The chances get bleaker and bleaker and I'm starting to give in to the fact I won't be spending Christmas and the New Year with my other half who is on the other side of the world.

I am upset. Plain and simple. But like a captain of a sinking ship, instead of going "Oh woe is me!" and going down with my vessel without a fight, least I can do is look for a rescue boat or a life vest right? So it's time for Plan B. I'm not even gonna imagine how much money I'm gonna spend on Plan B but hey, i've come this far and we'll see what happens.

You know what is most tiring in this whole ordeal? The yo-yo emotions. One moment everything seems to go as planned and five hours later, you get the rug pulled from under your feet. And then tomorrow, you get another phone call to tell you,"Wait, I think we might have this sorted out..." And the day after, "Looks like the embassy still needs more documents..."

So what's a girl to do? Do I forget about my whole trip? I have three weeks of annual leave approved but since I'm not going anywhere, should I just come back to the office?

This Friday, I should be on a plane on the way to spend a white Christmas with my Cubby. Instead, I will most likely wake up and make my way to the office.

I try to listen to everyone's advise on 'looking on the bright side...' or 'He'll be back soon' etc. But I don't think anyone really understands that no matter how much positive thinking I try to incorporate into my life right now, it doesn't take away the dissapointment and frustration I feel.Can you really expect me to throw my hands in the air and say, "Aww shucks, that's just too bad. But on the bright side, the sun is still shining." Bollocks. And you know it.

"If it makes you happy, it can't be that bad.
If it makes you happy, then why the hell are you so sad?"
-Sheryl Crow crowing on my mp3 player.