Exercise ORD: A Second Trip to New Zealand!

DISCLAIMER: This post has been so freaking late that when it is out, I already ORD-ed LOL! Nonetheless, I’m still completing it as this is quite a unique experience that I would like to pen down and leave as memories. Starting this new post took much longer than expected, and this would most likely be the 2nd last time I talk about things army-related. (with the last one probably a round up of everything from BMT to ORD) I think I have exhausted all possible talking points regarding army, but since this one is an overseas exercise (in beautiful New Zealand!) I would just do my usual post, and in chronological order.

For most of us, we didn’t see this exercise as Ex Thunder Warrior, we saw it as Ex ORD; as we move closer to the day we get back that coveted pink IC. (which I got back, omg its been a while you beautiful!) [I’ll try to post more pictures to make this post less boring haha! ^_^]

Flashback to the day we flew off, nothing special happened. It was just the beginning of the new year 2014, and we were already going to spend the most of our January on a army exercise. Not the most exciting thing, but hey it’s a free trip sponsored by SAF to New Zealand! Bid my mom farewell and I took a short MRT ride from home to the airport (I’m so lucky to be living near to the airport). We had a chartered flight to Auckland on Singapore Airlines. SQ!!!! Omgosh first time sitting on SQ so exciting hahaha. The seat was quite spacious and service was not bad, maybe I felt it was so good because I have been sitting on budget airlines to Taipei too often. Do you know how nice it is to actually be able to ask for water to drink LOL? I was playing with the in-flight entertainment throughout the whole flight, watching shows and movies along with playing some games. There were also some songs in the system and they had the I Got A Boy album in it! Wanted to catch a short nap before landing but poof they turned on the lights on the plane so no sleep. Landing in Auckland Airport, all of what I saw 3 years back came back to me and seemed familiar to me, from the immigration counter to the waiting area outside the airport. In the end, I just caught up all the sleep needed en route on the 5 hour-long bus ride to the training camp situated at Waiouru.

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Some music for the fanboy haha!

The whole programme was similar to what I experienced in Thailand: Preparation, outfield part 1, break, outfield part 2, packing up and rest, R&R. Had some briefings, did some setting up of radio sets, nothing significant as the first few days were more of me just getting used to the place. The weather was really very good, a comfortable 10-15 degrees which made it feel like there was permanent air-con outside. The only downside was that there was a lot of wind so sometimes even 2 layers would not be sufficient. I took a while to get acclimatized to the weather there, having to wear my neck gaiter and gloves everywhere and also constantly applying lip balm to prevent my lips from cracking. The meals we eat inside… really as good as hotel since it was a buffet style and there was desert, a salad bar, coffee machine… this is supposed to be a military camp! The bunk was spacious and we each had two pillows and a thick blanket, perfect to just huddle in and enjoy! There was night snacks everyday as well and the toilets are so clean, with heaters equipped as well so that I could enjoy a nice hot shower everyday. The New Zealanders were very friendly people and it was a whole different culture unlike back in Singapore. In short, the New Zealand camp wins our own camp back in Singapore hands down, but of course there was this slight feeling of being homesick which always sucks but with my army friends all here with me, we spend day by day here and await the day we go back to Singapore (and of course, prepare to ORD!).

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Breakfast @ base camp, ohnomnom~

Onto the actual outfield, the whole training area is huge and provided many places for deployment, so everyday we see ourselves at different places. The scenery here is just really daebak! From the not so green but clean grass, the blue sky to the fluffy white clouds, everything here is very beautiful. It is here when I confirm my view of Singapore being a concrete jungle, and highlights the importance of traveling to other countries if given the chance to do so, you see a lot of different things, A LOT. I got to see Mt. Ruapehu as well as the supposedly Mt. Doom, which were all magnificent and I can go on forever about the praises I have for the scenery here in New Zealand: the sunrise and the sunset, the starry sky at night. The altitude of the actual live firing area is even higher (supposedly 800m above sea level), so the wind here are even less forgiving. I had to wear a total of 5 layers: my long-john. my admin shirt, my jacket, my I could barely use my phone for a few minutes, and it was outside where you will cherish the warmth back in our bunk. I should have brought along some of my own heat packs, because the ones issued to us were close to useless. Other than battling against the warmth, there was also the battle against the hunger. I haven’t had combat rations since BMT and I was not going to eat them, so I just ate tidbits instead. During the first phase of outfield, there was fresh rations but they were delivered so late to us that our lunch became an early dinner instead. Needless to say we were all just counting the days to the end of the whole exercise so we could enjoy ourselves around the camp as well as during our R&R. We only had a day for our technical break (which ws too short), but as if we had any say so we just go with the flow and did all what we were told to. And onward we went to Phase 2, also known as ATEC where we would be evaluated.

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Mt Ruapehu!

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Just one of the many beautiful sights in NZ!

No one was happy, and tensions were high. What seemed to be a 4D3N ATEC got extended by 1 day, and morale dropped drastically as well. At that point of time, close to no one cared about whatever score we had and just wanted the whole thing to end. Everyone had their own set of problems, from mechanical failures to just superiors venting on us, I think we were fortunate to be able to achieve a reccon 2A (2nd possible best grade) for this whole exercise. Luck was also not with us, with temperatures dropping and the mist getting worse, affecting the visibility of the area which made firing unsafe so we had even more delay in the schedule. It was also raining for one or two of the days, which feels absolutely horrible when it’s already very cold and your whole uniform is wet. I for one wasn’t too happy at all, especially with the guy who I was working with. He didn’t have a working phone with him so relaying information to him was just burdensome. He even woke me in the middle of the night to ask me something, and already with minimal sleep you could imagine the vulgarities I wanted to spew in front of him. To make things even worst, another egoistic guy who chaokeng joined us and was ranting about stuff when his poor mates at battery side are getting evaluated outfield. I hate stuck-up people who thinks the world revolves around themselves, so I was sort of a loner the whole exercise. Seeing any familiar faces lifts up the dull mood, and I just passed the remaining time by reading books and watching drama in the phone while trying to preserve my phone battery life as long as possible. To all those whining about how much of a ‘slack’ role I got as compared to the others, well it was not like I was given a choice. During the times when you had your outfields months before New Zealand, I was stuck in Thailand for 3 weeks, and after a month I was off to my month-long driving course, all of which I wasn’t given a choice and got forced into it. I was also paired with one of the most egoistic guys in the platoon and unfortunately I exploded at him and he still doesn’t realize what’s wrong so I’m just happy I do not need to face him again. (shall keep this as rant-free as possible hahaha). Maybe I shouldn’t rant so much given the role I was given, so always count on your lucky stars haha!

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The silver sky (When rain was coming T_T)

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rainbowwwwww

The aftermath of outfield was nothing much, we just dismantled the signal sets from the vehicles and returned the relevant stores. The post- exercise wasn’t anything significant as well, just go some beer to drink and interacted with some of the New Zealand soldiers there. Some people got high and drunk as beers and shots keep coming and coming. It was a real pity that we didn’t have time to explore the whole camp since we were stuck outfield most of the time, but in all I could say I had a positive experience here (of course excluding the outfield haha). We packed up our duffel bags, slept our last night here and into the next morning, we boarded the bus and bid the camp goodbye. We stopped by some tourist attractions as well, such as the mud pools, hot springs and waterfall. I actually visited some of the places here before with Tinjun during our Geography trip but had no memory LOL. So perhaps I wasn’t really of a good student. We were all disappointed when we learnt that we wouldn’t be staying at a hotel and would be staying at a university hall instead. After arriving to our accommodation, we went to our individual rooms and ventured out to Auckland again! Yet another dejavu feeling again as I began to remember all the places in Auckland again, remembering most of the gift shops LOL. Bought tons of honey, as well as honey-related beauty products for the mom. Got my dad a mug (since I couldn’t think of anything), soft toys for my sisters and a bunch of other stuff for friends. I resisted buying a shirt for myself as I already had too many shirts at home. I felt really bad to my bmt buddy as although the day I landed back in Singapore, I was going to his 21st birthday BBQ, but I totally didn’t get him anything >.<“. Arrived back to the hall and played around in the games room! Unfortunately I didn’t manage to witness any of the hall culture here, but I bet it would have been awesome!

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room in uni hall! It’s actually around 1.5x bigger compared to the nus halls i saw during open house haha

At our last morning in New Zealand, we ventured around the landmarks around Auckland. Beautiful flowers, green grass, with a view of the harbor and the glittering blue sea, I’m just glad that I was given the chance to be back here again in New Zealand. It was free and easy from the afternoon, and the group of us ventured to the Auckland Seafood Festival which Lihwei found out about online! At first glance, it wasn’t much and I was a bit fussy regarding the 20 NZ dollars entrance fee. Once we tasted the seafood, we knew we had to try all of the available cuisines. We had oysters, fish, prawns, lobsters, mussels, scallops, there was a group of us so we just tested everything and once the food was on the table, out comes the phones to take pictures before we savaged on the food. I think we were the only 21SA people to have found such a place, so yays to ourselves haha! The group kind of dispersed when one group of people were focused on shopping for clothes while the others weren’t *points at myself*. The other group took like 2 hours to shop which was way too long considering the small amount of time we have remaining here so I decided to split from the rest. We just tried to spend all of our remaining New Zealand money through the gift shops. Boonhao and Conghui bough sheepskin mats (or whatever you call it), which were of course comfortable but really not the way you want to spend your money on. I just bought more souvenirs and on the way back, we bought Dominos pizza since it was like $5 for one here. Boonhao bought too much and on the way back we gave it to a group of students chilling at the park. The cool thing was that they just readily accepted it and I loved their reaction, where they thought it was too good to be true haha. And on to the bus we went, and it was goodbye Auckland, hello Singapore!

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Pretty awesome right!

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just one of the many seafood we ate, SEAFOOD SPAMMMMM!!!

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And the aftermath…

We flew back on Air New Zealand (which was equally awesome!) and landed at around 3am, which was actually a good timing for me since my mom could pick me up only during that timing as the car was available. Bought some duty-free but the queue was epic long. Sorry to James, Conghui and Boonhao whom I used your boarding passes to buy all the alcohol to myself. The first thing I felt (as always to those who travel and come back to Singapore) was: “Why is it so freaking hot?!”. In spite of the hot weather and being back from NZ, it feels so great to be lying on my bed with my laptop, along with being able to shit in my own toilet LOL. Of course, it was great to see my family again, and they all liked what I bought for them, as well as my friends who also liked what I got for them. Double win haha I am such a good buyer LOL! And with that Ex. Thunder Warrior is officially over, and most of us would wait till we get back our pink ICs as this time, we can finally countdown to the day we have been looking forward to… O-R-D!

 

Today is my ORD day and we are so happy ah~! (and the obligatory TTS gif haha :P)

 

ttsfeb3ttsfeb2ttsfeb1

 

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Driving 102

Experiencing snow in Korea: 1 in the bucket list

Experiencing snow in Korea: 1 in the bucket list

Oh look. there’s snow falling on this blog now, which shows it’s my favorite month of the year, DECEMBER! Everyone loves December, it’s an indication that the year is ending and everyone is in the festive and holiday season. For the most of December, I will be clearing off and leave (although I still need to go back some days due to stupid army which I won’t digress on). I like how I keep saying I want to dish out more posts but NEVER actually go do it, so will this be the month? I shall start the first post of December with the army driving course I was in during October and November: a summary of the things I did there, my thoughts regarding the course as well as my learning process (along with some criticism too LOL, early apologies for yet another dry post).

Rewind back a few months ago, I along with Bin Xi and Ivan, got arrowed to go for army driving course since all 3 of us have civilian license. With a few months left to ORD, I don’t really see the point of getting a license but our incompetent officer then had no idea of any shit and just shot this arrow. I didn’t have much complains either since I live pretty near the driving centre plus I get to polish my driving skills during my army time, so at least I’m doing something constructive. Despite living so close to the place, it’s still a pain to wake up 6.30am everyday and tiring to travel around even though I only take the bus a few stops and take the MRT for a stop. There are some days where we are only let off at 7pm and 9pm, which makes the course even more tiring as when we reach home, we can’t do much before going to bed. IT DOESN’T STOP HERE, every Saturday morning I need to go back to that goddamn place again, so it’s a 5 and a half hour work week. I know when I go out and work it’s going to be worse, but the course can get physically and mentally demanding as they want to cramp and teach everything within a month. It took me close to 7 months outside to get my Class 3 license, and they want to achieve the same thing within a month. Imagine if I hadn’t have any driving experience, a slow learner like me who have positively and absolutely died. As I go on further, I might continue to criticize this course, but truthfully there are many plus points as well. This is like when you judge people: you tend to only remember the bad points that you block out the good points. Before I go on, let me just say that after this course, my overall driving has improved tremendously, but the way the course was conducted, my opinion is that it could have been a lot simpler and better.

Driving an SAF vehicle, such a disaster

Driving an SAF vehicle, such a disaster

First week of course was mainly lessons studying for Highway Code (Army version of BTT+FTT), along with some theory lessons. Lessons were super duper dry and boring, I was either sleeping or using my phone during these lessons. Most of the theory we learnt is quite overkill and unnecessary, especially Highway Code where I learnt a whole lot of new signs which some are really not applicable. The most applicable thing I learnt was regarding driving in the bus lane, but other than that most of the stuff were the same as BTT+FTT. Since I wasn’t paying much attention during the lessons, I won’t comment much regarding them, but I believe driving itself helps much more than lessons itself since it’s so much different when you actually drive as compared to learning those theories. The driving simulator lessons were just a waste of time as well since it is nowhere similar to the actual driving (plus it makes you dizzy), but it’s good to be indoors and not under the hot sun. For the first week, we were only dismissed at 7pm everyday, which kinda sucks since I will have a super late dinner at home. It was a shift to stay-out life, as well as being a trainee once again.

Moving onto parking: yes my worst enemy in driving we meet again. After failing twice to striking the kerb during parking, you could say I wasn’t confident at parking at all. Even after getting my civilian license, I still have a lot of problems when I park outside. The parking slot for our parking test is really small and there is no room for much mistakes since we have also a time limit. Outside when you park time isn’t really a factor, but for here it’s a race against time and every action has to be accurate and fast. During the test, you would have to go out of the vehicle a total of 7 times to ‘check’ for safety, which logic-wise is absolutely pointless but it’s the SAF. For parallel parking, I used all the sighting points the parking instructor taught us, while for vertical parking I use more of feeling and squeeze my jeep into the slot. Failed my first test due to hitting over the time limit, after which I drilled quite a number of practice sessions to get used to finishing under the time limit. I was super nervous during the second test but it went well and I completed it safely under 8 minutes.

Onto the main part of the course, the driving itself! Did around 4-5 sessions (can’t recall correctly) in the circuit, had to accustomed to army driving rules, such as having to put up the handbrake for every complete stop as well as turning into the correct lane according to army regulations. (for example, when you do a right turn, you would turn into the most left lane instead of the most right lane). The jeep I was driving had no air-con, no side windows, so when the sun in blazing, it gets really hot to the degree that my right arm gets tanned and the difference becomes pretty obvious. The side mirrors had to adjusted manually, and it’s just a wreck driving a 30 year-old jeep. My first few driving sessions went well and smoothly as I was getting used to driving manual again, changing gears and working with the clutch. We had to pass an evaluation, which was like a mock test, before taking the actual test. Despite being a license holder, I failed this evaluation twice, which is pretty embarrassing… My instructor for my 3rd evaluation was a really nice guy, who was a driver for artillery units during his NS time and we had a good chat, and he wished me all the best for my test before passing me. Towards the end, my confidence started to drop as I was failing these evaluations and the instructors were starting to become more angst, venting it at the expense of us trainees. I myself actually have a short temper, but out of respect I have been holding it in and only rebutted once (that was because insults towards my family took place). There’s more to come at that fiasco, but I’ll talk about the test part first.

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Don’t ask, just do and listen – the essence of life as a driving student

Okay test time! First test, I had a strict tester (by the name of Mr. Pandian, all future trainees please take note LOL). I had a hard time calming my nerves down, forever nervous before taking any tests. He was pretty demanding, but I already knew most of his tricks since the instructors warned me beforehand (He would ask you to do directional change but in fact you need to do a 3 point turn, along with e-braking you outside of the circuit). Got an immediate failure halfway outside driving and was sent back straight back to the camp. To be honest, for a first try I did decent to go outside of the circuit. There were many people who failed in the circuit and didn’t even have to chance to drive outside. There was this 1 guy who only drove 1 turn for his first 2 tests, 1 failing to give way to pedestrian and 1 forgetting to on his headlights. For the army driving test, you can only clock at most 10 points, which is really hard because they fault you for the really smallest errors (fail to check mirror while turning, before moving off, failing to give way to others when you have the right of way). Second test started off really bad, was rejected by the first tester as I forgot my pre-vehicle checks (aka wayang), my fault but seriously… super anti-climatic. Fortunately, since that tester already had a bad impression of me, the instructor arranged me to get tested for another tester, which was much more lenient. There was much at stake (will explain later) so I really had to pass… and I passed on my 2nd attempt, BARELY JUST BARELY. I stalled twice during my final parking (stupid old gearbox, if I had stalled 1 more time I would have failed), but I think I did well for my circuit and outside driving (there was a car doing an illegal turn into my lane but I reacted well), so the tester was really nice to pass me despite my mistakes at the end. Woohoo, passing the test is really what counts in the course, and it marks the near completion of the course.

I was the 2nd guy in the course to pass, and the passing rate for our batch were supposedly the worst in history. Only 4 out of 36 people passed out of the course in time, so you can tell how ridiculous the requirements for the army driving test can be. Towards the end of the course, everyone could tell that the testers were more relax and started to pass more people, but even with that the passing rates were low. It’s really ridiculous that the test demands a super high level of the trainee handling the vehicle, when the average person only drove at most 15 lessons, which is surely not enough when they want a level of driving that much higher than one expected during an outside driving test. I drove 200km for my island driving, which was really boring when you can only travel 50km/h on the expressway. I managed to drive on the auto jeep for most of my driving, which was really fun (since its auto and the jeep is like a convertible as it’s open air). When I was vehicle commander in the auto jeep, it unfortunately rained and since the auto jeep had no rooftop and we were driving on the expressway, so inevitably I was caught in the rain. The instructor who accompanied us was the one who passed my evaluation, was really a chill guy and brought us through different variations of the standard route to make the trip less boring. Ended course and two days later, I flew off to Taipei and enjoyed my holiday!

Onto why I had to pass during the 2nd try: As I was going on overseas leave 2 days after the projected end of the course, if I had failed my 2nd test, I would have to extend my course and the head of the centre was threatening to cancel my leave and holiday (seriously?). Needless to say it was a HUGE sigh of relief to pass the test and get this burden course off my shoulders. The disgusting thing is that from what I heard, a week after I went off for my holiday, a bunch of Guards sergeants were also in the same situation as me and didn’t finish the course in time, were allowed to go off for their holiday in Korea. Reason? They are commanders. HAH! The passing rate for our batch was so horrible, that the preferential treatment became super distinct. It was obvious the chief instructor was venting his frustration on his poor trainees, holding us back as late as possible, forcing us to read useless theory books during the time we aren’t driving outside in the training shed. Of course, after you passed, the opposite happens and as one of the lucky few who passed early, it’s a disgusting scene to witness. During one day I came back from clocking my island-wide so I casually just took out my phone and browsed through, and one instructor came up to me and started unleashing. Only when he found out I passed then he toned down and just walked away without apologizing… is there really a need to treat people like that? These are things which aren’t really worth getting angry over, you are mad; I’m mad, we rage at each other, no one wins. Maybe because our results affect your bonuses, but please remember that we are also humans and most of us just touched the vehicle. Karma stroke to one of the instructor as someone lodged a police report against him since he raged at someone while driving outside. In the end, another instructor had to go down to my unit to get a statement from one of my signal mates and tada, total 180 degree attitude change! I’m not saying that you should be nice to people just because they may “be of use” in the future, but there’s no need to make an enemy out of nowhere.

There was also off-road driving as well as night driving, but I’ll skip those as I think this post is already that dry and boring. If you’re too lazy to read all of this, just a quick summary: Course did help me improve in driving, but was treated badly, unfairly and it was one I was glad to complete in time. Okay no more army-related stuff here please. Less than 3 more months to ORD, and the biggest burden would be gone. Here’s a gif of kid leader Taeyeon to make up for all this dryness of this post haha!

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The Last 25%: Final months as a NSF (Part I)

Post 90! So apparently my 80th post was during last November, so yes the frequency of posts here have been getting really slow (forever talking about this but still not posting enough). Hopefully I would be posting here more often, because I really miss just typing out stuff on my MacBook in this personal space of mines. It hasn’t been long since I came back from Thailand after my overseas exercise ended (EDIT: I started writing this 2 weeks ago but haven’t been able to complete it, so much for more posting here LOL), so it’s only natural for me to talk about it, which will be the focus of this post. Since there is much I can type out with 6 months remaining as my time as a soldier, I would touch on what the rest of all army-related thoughts in another post. (WARNING: DRY POST INCOMING SORRRRY >.<)

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MEN OF STEEL! ARTILLERY!

EX BATTLE KING! Since no one wanted to go for it, I got unfortunately arrowed to go for this exercise. At first thought, it looked horrible since I’m going to Thailand, which is going to be extremely hot, and I would have 2 weekends burnt, and to add on my misery, be away from my friends whom I used to see and talk to every week. But as time passed towards the mid-year, I got used to the mundane army life as week after week passes by, with some of my weekends burnt due to regimental and extra duties. Putting everything else aside, I went into BK with surprisingly a positive mindset and looked forward to get the most out of it. I was actually excited to going overseas since it has been close to 2 years since I haven’t travelled out of the country and I invite any changes to the really monotonous army life of mines. The actual thought of me being away for 2 weeks plus only struck quite late, so I panicked a little but I left Singapore with a light heart and off to Thailand I go! I had my first meal on a plane since I don’t know for how long as I have been always traveling on budget (no joke). As with any change in environment, at first I hated Thailand: The 75 men bunk, the poor shower facilities, the lousy cookhouse food and worst of all, I had no one to turn to and was all by myself in this foreign country. But throughout the whole exercise, I got used to the new environment, and it helped knowing that we aren’t going to stay here for long kinda subsided any sadness I experienced. Before I knew it, this exercise only became a distant memory, which ended up as a relaxing trip away from everything in Singapore and made me realize how reliant I am on technology. Now moving on the actual exercise…

The first 3 days of preparation was hell. The weather was hot, and there were many signal sets to be mounted. Not everyone was doing their share of work, so being the loner among the group, I just kept quiet in a corner did more than my share of work. I probably mounted more signal sets in Thailand than I ever did back in Singapore LOL (yes it was that many and it was so tiring). I never felt so shagged out before and for those few days, I fell asleep easily despite the sponge-like mattress and lack of ventilation in the bunk. My admin shirt changed color from all the sweat I did and from Day 1 of doing work, I started to realize how lucky I was to have such a “boring” army life, in a way that having nothing to do always is better than having something to do. With all the prep done, I was given kind of a major role during the exercise since I was the only ‘corporal’ signaler in the team. I was given a role with some responsibility. RESPONSIBILITY! Who would have known that word would be in the same sentence with my name. Imagine in a net diagram you see names of officers in charge of something and under rebro, you see CPL NICK LIM. After being in the army for so long, I was convinced I was never the leader-type material and should just stick to being a follower. You could say that I wasn’t that comfortable with my role, but there’s a first for everything. I had to draw my own stores, be a vehicle commander and be held responsible for any screw ups. So you could say that I was easily a victim of any angst from the signal officer-in-charge, yay for responsibility…

Onto Day 4, it was time to move off and it felt good to be driven along the rural areas of Thailand which I wouldn’t get to see if I wasn’t arrowed for this exercise. I don’t want to be rambling about 9 days of outfield so I will just focus on the more memorable moments. The first 2 days it was raining and I had to cuddle into my jacket. When I was hoping for slightly better weather, the days to follow the sun was blazing hot and I had a free tan and eventually became more blacker than I would wanted to be. Nightfall was very early there and by 7pm, the sky is totally dark to the extent that you can’t even see your own fingers. It was during that time where my thoughts start to wonder and the thinking starts yet again. Everyday passed by so slowly as the only thing I do is facing the goddamn radio waiting for something to happen, but somehow 9 days passed like that. I had to save my phone battery so I spent most of my time reading my book, and with that limited battery life I re-watched SNSD’s Hello Baby. You can tell how much remaining time I had to just stare blankly into space and die of boredom LOL. By the 6th day and the words of “exercise cut” gets closer, the motivation was there and time past quicker (it seemed). There was a distant lack of human interaction, as the people I talked to most was my Thai driver and liaison officer. How I wished I knew more Thai so that I could communicate with them instead of them trying to understand my English and sign language. My buddy wasn’t really enthusiastic about entertaining them so I tried my best to engage them in any random topic, from exchanging our army stories to random things about outside of army, where topics we talked about were derived from the outdated newspapers delivered to us. It wasn’t exactly an eye-opener, but it helped me understand the outside world better, especially when there is little to see and know in Singapore.  They treated me super well, providing drinks and food from the outside world, and the driver was a super funny guy who I could joke with easily. Although the whole exercise, for our side, didn’t go smoothly all the way, along with me being angst at times, somehow we survived and as the last convoy, he drove our way back to base camp. Oh how I missed my crappy and being able to sleep in a building and not in the open. Since I was only a support staff, I didn’t need to put on my helmet or ilbv, or put on that disgustingly hard to remove camo cream, or even draw rifle. You could say life was pretty good comparatively for me hahas…

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The view from outfield

After outfield ended, time past really quickly as the pressure on everyone was gone. Although we were supposed to have a break, we signalers still had to do some work for the NSmen who are coming in for their subsequent exercise (forever saikang warriors), but what to do? Suck thumb and move on, and the only thing that is motivating me is seeing that percentage go lower and lower. In the middle of all the recovery of stores, we chilled a little and played some dota games as well.  I apparently drunk-whatsapp someone LOL (so freaking embarrassing) and realized how low my alcohol tolerance is. The educational tour around Thailand was okay I suppose… nothing memorable since we spent most of our time traveling in the bus and there wasn’t anything outstanding that we visited. Apparently R&R was counted as an off day and 2 of my off days were deducted which was super depressing. Fortunately, old BSO (who’s in ORD mood already) was kind enough to top up those 2 day off so I got 5 days off from this exercise. Life got back pretty back to normal after I returned to Singapore, but I became more appreciative of the things around me and I’m always glad to receive this kind of enlightenment.

So there were many plus sides to this exercise, but nonetheless there always has to be an ugly side, and yes it was super ugly. Getting mistreated, scolded for absolutely nothing and unable to argue because doing so only would make the situation worse, which simply points to the problem between officer and men, and how some just want to show that they are superior to you. And what can I do? Nothing but SUCK THUMB! I do not have a good temper to be honest, but sucking it up ever since enlisting is something I have learnt well and just lived with it. There were also many showing of “bootlicking” (the civilized way of saying it). I have said this once and I would say it again, what is there to bootlick anyway? I know this would be common when I go to the workplace, but what IRKS me is the total attitude change of some, a total 180 degree change before and after exercise. I would love to continue ranting, but I would like to keep it positive and why so much hate over something that is over already right!

With all the negative things aside, this overseas exercise has taught me much, and one which I won’t be able to learn if I didn’t physically experience and see it for myself. I saw it for myself, how a less developed country (LDC) was and how blessed I was. And also despite them having a lower standard of living comparatively, they still led their lives happily. Whenever I feel life’s unfair, I should look at them and be ashamed of myself. They do not have many things and still living happily. You never realize how you take many things in life granted until they are taken away from you and you are put in a whole new environment without them. This experience also made me realize how different of a person I am with my friends and with people I don’t know, and it felt awful always being left out and alone. Fortunately, JJ came to this exercise as an instructor so yays for having at least 1 person I know here stuck in Thailand. I never really jelled well with the other signalers, would have loved to click with them but whatever, that didn’t happen so life goes back to the way it was before I left.

And that’s it for BK. Will do another post for the remaining army stuff which I didn’t talk about. To be continued….

The D-Days of 2012

I never did my yearly review and reflections in a specific way. The 1st 2 years I did it by listing my new year’s resolutions, while for last year, I just recapped on what made my year happy. This WordPress has really come a long way, and at this generation who can proudly say that they have kept to 1 blogging platform for such a long period of time! I was always thinking how I wrapped out my year in a post, and so I decided to end it this way, inspired by a K-drama which I recently watched and loved, Reply 1997! During 1 episode (if I recall it was Episode 7 or 8 where all the main took their final exams), there was this mention about D-Days, which gave me the idea for this post.

d-day

Hands down my top K-drama for 2012!

Kim Yuna lived on the ice rink 12 years for four minutes and 10 seconds at the Olympics. For this test, we waited, ran, and prepared for 12 years. August 18, 1998. Our D-Day was passing by like that.

You could say that the ultimate D-Day of my life have already past in 2011 when I took my A Level examinations, 12 years of studying down to those few hours worth of papers (but I don’t want to touch on that subject anymore). But other than the major exams, everyone of us had our own D-Days in our own lives, big or small. 2012 was quite a mixed year for me, many good and bad things have happened to me. It didn’t felt as fast as 2011, as the days at Tekong passed really slowly. This year has been an emotional roller coaster, but although it may sound bad, it has thought me to appreciate the small moments in my life and the life lessons which i can learn from them. (Again, they may sound repetitive, so I’ll try my best to make it sound nicer.)

March 2 2012… The day all 18-year old JC students were waiting for, getting back their A-level results. Although the constant thought about it wouldn’t change the results, the small possibility of flunking was still up there. I knew that I was going to do alright since I mugged like crazy for the past year, but how well? I didn’t really expect such good results, but it was a testament of how hard I worked for. Like I said, there wasn’t much to worry. My first choice course was going to be Maths, which doesn’t require that excellent grades. It was more about the worry that if the grade were lousy, my future would be jeopardized as I could not get a good job and would lead to a snowball effect. Of course, having scored so well felt great, but even if I was to do badly, the me today and the me before would still be the same. Life waits for no one, life goes on. Does that piece of paper means that I would be made for life in the future? No, it merely opened up many paths for me, but in every path I still would have to work hard to reach the end-point. Okay I already talked about regarding this on my previous posts and  I hate harping on the topic of studies, so moving on…

March 6 2012… The day which I knew was coming sooner or later but never wished would happened. After receiving my results just a few days ago, in an early Tuesday morning I took the bus and boat to Tekong and only to come back 3 weeks after going through confinement. In a flash, I was now in the army, wearing green for the next 2 years. I never knew how it was going to be like in there, so I was expecting many cultural shocks going there. Turns out army wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but nonetheless the transition to military life was hard. I never really treasured my civillian life until then, and now I just want my pink IC back and want to have nothing to do with the army (14 months to go c’mon rawr!). No one likes any changes in their lives, but every Singaporean guy got forced into this shithole. I made many friendships on that island as well, and although we only spent 4 months together, imagine 5 days a week where we go through shit together, and slack together in our small bunk, along with the nightly HTHT. And during that period of time, book outs felt the best as you really appreciate the things around you. Now, every book in and book out feels like a vicious cycle, and every weekend burned is a super burden to our more and more uneventful time outside in civilization. During our recruit times, it was like a must to do something eventful during every book out before going back in but now, it’s like a part of life and you just get used to it. Life as a recruit went on for 4 months, with training week after week and finally, we were ready to march the hellish 24km down to the Marina Platform.

July 9 2012… The day where we turned into “men”. I don’t really believe in any of the army shit where we defend the country etc, but at last we’re getting out of the shitty island. There was this sense of pride marching into the Marina Platform, but now I think of it, it’s like “Meh, whatever… it was just the start of a shitty 2 years in NS”. If they really wanted to help us “celebrate”, they wouldn’t make us suffer and let us march 24km carrying a shitload of stuff. Hell just call some buses for us to the platform and let us do our parade. Putting aside the pain we suffered, overall the parade was okay, but after which I was just tired and smelly. The block leave after that for me was a little waste as compared to the leave I was enjoying last week, as half of the time I was lying on my bed resting my poor feet and legs. So what have I learnt about the army? Yeap it’s stupid LOL (sorry for being so anti-SAF, but I think most Singaporean guys think this way). There are some life lessons learnt through my journey as a recruit and my time serving in the army which I will take back, and I think by the time I got back my pink IC, I would have matured much more and become a better person. I could have gone through another period of being a cadet if I had gone to OCS/SCS, but I don’t think I would make it through another 6/9 months of just suck thumb and do blindly things as instructed. But I shall just take life as it goes, I could have been in much worse places so I shall be contented with what I have!

July 14 2012… Okay this may sound like a random date but to me, it’s something significant. No one except for one would have an idea on what happened during this day, but it was a start of yet another lesson of self-discovery. On this day, I did something which I never, ever would have thought of doing, and just thinking about it makes me feel oh so freaking embarrassed *hides under blanket*. It was a big step forward in my life, and with all the dust finally setting down, with a composed mindset I can finally talked about this topic more comfortably. Of course there are many questions I ask myself when I look back into this: Should I have done it differently? Should I have even done it at all in the first place? How would it have been if I done it at a later date? But what’s done is done, you cannot change the past. Now after going through all of that, I feel like a big rock was lifted off of me. It just wasn’t meant to be and I was too simple-minded to think that all would work out smoothly. Okay I shall elaborate on this topic in another post, but overall, since it turned out to be like this, just take it as a lesson in life and move on. I’m too young to let this thing put me down, and there are still many chances out there and perhaps the one who would be the right one for me would come at the correct time.

October 21 2012… The day I tested my physical limits. You never know how capable you are if you don’t try, so I decided to try out a 10km run to see if I could achieve finishing that distance. Although the run was a total killer to the legs, it felt extremely good to finish it, especially to finish it under an hour during your first try. Seeing my age group, there were many younger guys who ran faster than me, but to me it’s a personal thing which I wanted to try and see for myself if I could really do it, so the position didn’t matter. At this age, it seems like you need to be good at something if you enjoy it; for example if you enjoy soccer you would naturally be good at it. However, running to me isn’t something where I must be the best, it’s more of a personal challenge which I set to myself. After the last dash, I myself realize there’s a bit more in myself than I think, and that comes when you really push yourself. Of course timing is important as an indication to whether you’re improving, but I have really enjoyed the process of myself running. Now I feel much fitter, and it has indirectly monstrously helped my 2.4 timing as well even though I have been running much longer distance. The decision to start running has benefitted myself immensely and now with regular runs, it has keep my body in good shape since some of the long-distance runs which I do cancels out the pigging out of buffets and high-calorie snacks during the weekends.

There are some things that I would have loved to touched on for this year-in review, but I would just cover the more important ones which have made an considerable impact on my 2012. So I realized I never did a new year’s resolution list last year, so I’ll end this post with a few simple things in mind which I hope to achieve in 2013.

1) Maintain SILVER for IPPT

2) Run more to achieve the following targets – 52:00 for 10km, 1:55 for 21km, and lastly complete in any way a full marathon (even if I have to crawl my way to the finish line LOL)

3) Focus and study more of my Korean (no more procrastinating)

4) Post more in this WordPress, and revamp the whole thing if I am able to find the time.

5) Go out more often and waddle less at home on my bed with my laptop  (I need to have a better social life .__.”)

6) Get my driver’s license and drive my family out (so that my mom does not need to drive me all the time .__.””)

7) Improve myself as a person overall throughout the year 2013

Okay 7 things for this year. Kept it much more simple as compared to my previous resolutions and many things can fall under number 7. So that’s a wrap for 2012. Thanks for the memories and roller-coaster ride, and 2013 is going to move like a coal-powered train from the 70s, slowly given the miserable status that I’m under now (le NSF), but shall not wallow in pity because every other guy has gone through this stage at 1 point of his life, so in a flash I would have 2 months left to ORD and I can start to countdown from there. Until March 5 2014 aka ORD date comes, just take life simply as it goes and may I fill 2013 with many happy and memorable moments! :))

OFF-TOPIC: SNSD’s I Got A Boy comeback stage is absolutely awesome DAEBAK!!! Everything from the singing to the dance is super polished and during the live performances the girls are just brilliant. *fanboy mode back on* (rapes replay button~)

snsdigob1

Right now, it’s Girl’s Generation!!!

Results? What results? =P

And after As finished, you thought the day would never come… Well hell no, it’s coming in a week. 7 DAYS! sigh

With more than half of the guys in the army (I will talk about the army in another post), I got really a lot of time in hand with basically little/nothing to do (because lazy me didn’t go find a decent job =.=). And when you’re alone, you really start to think a lot: The past, the present, the future, basically anything to kill your boredom. These thoughts (for me) start to change to WordPress posts (since this is the only avenue for me to express myself, I’m not really the journal type of person). I never really thought about the As, since I was doing so much other stuff with the other guys before they went to the army. Nowadays, I spend my time alone, going to Starbucks to read a book, or maybe venture around Orchard like an awe-stricken tourist (yes Orchard seems like a new place to me LOL). The one thing the army guys told me is that army thought them who to treasure the normal life. Well, I always try to do that, but when you are really going to the army, you really just enjoy anything you do on the sunny island Singapore. From walking on the streets, jogging around Kembangan, to even being at your home, yeah these kinds of things you would definitely start to miss when you’re in the army. Going a little off-topic, back on topic. During this month, I met up with the remained “survivors” a couple of times, mostly for dinner. I still recalled that we were joking during dinner that results day was in 3 weeks, and when we meet again for dinner the week after, it’s 2 weeks. Newsflash, it’s now only a week.

I always try to tell myself this: Results aren’t everything, there is more to life than those grades on a piece of paper. But truth be told, those grade are actually the most important thing in our current 18 years on Mother Earth. It basically decides your future. Perhaps it’s the Asian culture where there is a lot of emphasis on grades, that’s why I’m feeling antsy no reason these few days =.=”. Although people tell me that I’ll do fine, I don’t really believe that because I REALLY REALLY burned out at the end. It has been 6 years since I took a major exam. and PSLE didn’t really came out well for me. Hell, I was candidate for top PSLE student in my school but in the end I didn’t make it to the top 10 and end up being the person entering Dunman High with the worst and ugliest PSLE score. That’s where I probably lost all my confidence, since I didn’t really deserve to be in DHS. I had DSA to DHS before PSLE, but if I recalled correctly I didn’t really slack and still put in my best for PSLE like the little Maths-loving nerd I was back then. Maybe I was meant to be in DHS. During the school visit to DHS on CNY, Mr Chang asked us if we regretted joining DHS. Well I didn’t really have a choice right? Maybe because I was from an all-guys school, so the thought of a mixed school really irked me. (But now puberty strikes and we mature, things are much different now :X) Things would have been so much different if I went on the normal O-Level 4 year programme (I probably wouldn’t have such a fruitful Year 4 experience, as substantiated by the lack of excitement in my Year 6 life ha) and went on to a different JC. Although my Senior High life I would say is an really enriching experience (the changes in attitude, playing in an ensemble, rocking in a band, even the mugging sessions), you can’t really enjoy the school life when there is the existence of a major exams. That why I CAN’t FIGURE why people miss school. I mean, you want to go through the whole torture of taking the As again, although I won’t deny that schooling is the best times of anyone’s life. Nothing much to worry, and studies seem to be an easier task then being out there in the cruel world and earning a salary. (going off-topic again sheesh). I always think if I would excel in other JCs since half my SH teachers sucked, but there are the rare teachers who are willing to go the extra mile to help the student. Respect and hats off to these teachers. There are many teachers I do not want to let down, since they put in so much effort to help us but later at the end, nothing comes out. True, most of them would say that results don’t matter, but you do want to repay their efforts by showing them the shiny A grade beside the subject they taught you. Unlike some teachers who mends their blog shop, ask us to go take As on the other year and keep nagging at us… *cough cough*. At the end, I just wonder if all of the “effort” (if I actually did put in any ~.~) would be in vain. The infamous 10 Econs essays I write every week which got me infamous in Learner’s Lodge LOL, the many Prelim papers you did, the consultations you found and crammed especially before the start of the As, the mugging sessions in school, the Learning Center, NLB, Starbucks and Subways and the things you sacrifice to study (my K-dramas and SNSD’s comeback LOL). In the end, would your efforts be shown on that result slip? Sometimes it doesn’t, which sucks so much. I always believe that effort would translate into results, but the harsh reality is that it’s not always the case, ok maybe 90%, but what happens if my results turn out to be that 10%? Shit happens (and especially to me .__.)

You always to look at the other side of the puzzle (or coin or whatever analogy you can think of). Even if I really flunked As and get into a lousy course, it’s really not the end of the world. I still have my family and my friends, who are the people that reminds you why it is so awesome to be alive. Ok, maybe in the future I won’t get a good pay and would have to wait 20 years to afford a car, but that’s isn’t really anything. Maybe I would emo for a few days, go into army and continuing to emo, come out and emo, which is really a pitiful scenario LOL, but hopefully I would be able to recover from being such a lousy student. Reminds me of the movie 那些年 where me and my sis recently watched (Maybe it’s because of my lousy Chinese, but watching a movie is so much better than reading the book), the girl said that she only knew to study and study, and in the end she didn’t do well. Kinda sounds like me… No idea why I’m so negative about As. For the past night, I have been imagining how the day would be itself (explains the insomnia >.<): Wake up, shower, go on lappy to check FB/Twitter/9gag/allkpop, go to school, meet up with teachers and friends, Dr. Foo comes out and talk a bunch of crap which I probably won't listen because I'm too nervous and at any time going to shit in my pants, wait to collect results, collect results. FIN. It's either 🙂 or :(. Oh, and perhaps have class dinner during the evening and have a nice chat, after which in my 3 days before army, SQUEEZE ALL THE UNI APPLICATIONS (that's if my grades allow me to do so).

I always like to read back on my WordPress posts, so this is a little message to myself: No matter how the results would turn out, all I can say is that I tried my best. No point thinking about it or regretting, because I won't do anything to your grades. Don't compare my results to others and their straight As because I am not them. In the case where I do well, keep my mouth shut and be humble, and don't be an asshole and go run around the hall dancing to Tell Me Your Wish when there are people out there who might have not done well. Don't ask for grades, just ask "Are you satisfied with your grades?". IT doesn't if it's straight As or ABBB, as long as you are satisfied, that is really good enough. You do not always need to get to perfection. And lastly, don’t let those mere letters get you down or your ego up.

I just read finished Ellen’s new book, maybe you would notice in the tone and style of this post, and that this is written more of a first person POV and hope that anyone (if anyone actually comes here) can put themselves in my shoes after reading what I think. Till then, the next post I go!

7 FREAKING DAYS, STRESS AHHHHH!!!!!!!!!