January 2, 2017 § Leave a comment
This is me fossilizing our moments
I lay my tracks down and lead you to be found
The future would find us thousands off stromatolites under
Side to side, arm to arm
Hands interlocked, faces unharmed
They will clay us both
Preserve and make the story be told
In a museum of ancient moments
No one would know
December 31, 2016 § Leave a comment
Sorry (to myself) that I still have not yet harness the adequate self-discipline to pen down my doings, because I always felt that they were nothing compared to what others were up to, and I constantly put myself down thinking that I’m not doing enough. But in the end, it only matters to me that I’ve done enough, so enough with the self pity and let’s get on with it!
There has been a series of fortunate and not so fortunate events, ever since I came back home to Singapore on 6th Nov. I spent the first week recuperating at home, taking in the sights and sounds of the once familiar, and mostly gawking at the extra blubber of my 4-legged holothurian (sea cucumber) Ewok has gained over 4 months. It was a good week I would say. Then I decided that I did not want to let this holiday to go to waste.
Thanks to Yee Keat, I manage to secure a volunteer position with Marecet, assisting a PhD student Sandra, as she embarks on her 5-year research project to study the social structure of Indo-Pacific Humpback dolphins (Sousa chinensis), which includes behaviour observation in relation to human activities. This is by far the most last minute and spontaneous decision I’ve made in awhile. All it took was: dolphins, sea, and sun, and perhaps a chance to go diving on the given off day. SOLD. I vividly recalled being at the Underwater World Sentosa (which now cease to exist, and thank God for Yue Chin who suggested to visit it for the last time before I left for Tassie!) 11 years ago at age 10, I saw my very first dolphin! An entirely pink-bodied dolphin—like fairy floss pink—swimming in the greyish-brown waters of its outdoor, alongside a dolphin trainer. That was probably my first time seeing a cetacean and I remember it’s eyes, sparkling under the sun, just like the water. At then I remember thinking that all dolphins had to be pink.
Comprising of 104 islands, Pulau Langkawi is known as the Jewel of Kedah (although it is geographically adjacent to Kuala Perlis on the mainland side), and also a highly adored tourist destination where the sun is always shining, and lots of westerners come here to seek their tropical desires as well as to escape the winter chill. We spent 8 days surveying along the East coast—departing every morning from the Northeast mangrove forest of Kilim jetty on Edie’s trusty outboard boat. “KILIM GEOFOREST PARK”, one would see this very words plastered onto a limestone karst formation, just like the “HOLYWOOD” hill sign in LA, as the estuary opens up to Andaman Sea. Located on the northwest of Peninsula Malaysia, it’s sheltered from the year end Northeast Monsoon (aka the wet season) where north easterly winds brings rainfall and thunderstorms to SEA (Southeast Asia) due to low pressure systems. Thanks to Amit and his video featured in Wiki, I finally understood why the bone-chilling winds in Tassie were so persistent and why clouds meant rain.
With good weather and sea state on our side most of the time (except for the last day where the true weather of Langkawi prevailed, and my butt will never forget), everyday was a great day to see dolphins! I still recall the first day and first sighting: it was 8 am, and as our boat sliced through the glassy calm waters and made its way out to Kilim Geopark, within 20 minutes or so we were greeted by a pod of Indo-Pacific finless porpoises (Neophocaena phocaenoides). According to Vivian, they were displaying more surface activity than the usual shy evasive behaviour. The group of 5-7 individuals stuck around for quite a bit before diving and not seen again. That was my first time seeing porpoises, probably the perfect appetizer before the main course.
PS: I declare no feasting on mammals was done, it’s just that everyone can relate to goodness of good food, and the goodness of marine mammal sighting was just as good, or even better. The kind of internal happiness tingling in the soul, you know what I mean!
Usually, our boat skipper aka Eagle Eye Edie, as the name emphatically suggests, would initiate the sighting as he points out to the horizon saying: “Depan depan” — meaning “in front” in Bahasa Melayu, and he would automatically speed towards the target. There is much to learn from the ways of EEE and his God-given talent..
Whenever there’s a confirmed sighting of the dolphins, everyone got to work. The photographers would be in position at the bow with their “machine gun”, firing endless shutters to get clear shots of the dorsal fins for ID, while volunteers (just the 2 of us, Bono and I) are assigned to keep a lookout for staggering individuals (if it’s a big group) and record the sighting sheet. Being the only person on board with no first-hand experience, I took awhile to register the task I was given, while literally being surrounded by fins. DOLPHINS. The struggle to keep myself on the boat was real, for Science and Sandra, I had to.
This reminded me of my time in Maldives, spotting spinners on the dolphin cruise. Sure the waters were much clearer, the spinners were stunningly acrobatic, and I could see their skin glistened under the limelight of the sun as they twirled in mid-air. They are literally the ballerinas of the blue. The excitement and adrenaline was there, but it felt slightly different, maybe because I was doing it for a different purpose this time.
The next half of the survey was carried out along the man-made coast of Kuala Perlis and Kuala Kedah. Every morning we set out from the Lembaga Kemajuan Ikan Malaysia (LKIM) Negeri Perlis aka the Fisheries Development Authority of Malaysia, and one day we just decided to check out the fish landing site, which revealed only a mere glimpse of the magnitude of our destructive extraction from the ocean. It’s a completely different sight compared to choosing your fillet from the seafood vendor at your local wet market. Endless barrels of catch, filled to the brim and soaked in slush ice, were constantly being unloaded and rigged up from below the deck like Mary Poppins emptying her magical purse. And there were all kinds of catch hauled by the mid-water trawler: fish to shellfish to crustaceans to molluscs, and even sharks and rays.
I mean, that is what one would expect to see, but when you actually see it for yourself, the immensity is quite overwhelming. And the other fishing boats have yet to unload, and other fleets are still out there somewhere, emptying the oceans net by net. But then when you see the other side of the story—the lives that depend on the catch for their livelihood, the suppliers to the demand—who’s truly at fault here? Or is over-fishing just another inevitable result arising from the fault of the Anthropocene. Do we really want to go down in history, denoting ourselves as the cause of the sixth mass extinction? Gone were the days where we take only what we need and leave the land as it is. It makes me nervous as a student studying about fisheries management and as a lover of the sea and it’s inhabitants, about the future of our oceans..
Despite that slightly depressing morning, the survey made up for it as we encountered a huge ass pod of 60-70 Indo-Pacific humpbacks, and even spotted the Irrawaddy dolphins (Orcaella brevirostris) that are the splitting image of snubfins down South, which I dreamt about a few nights before. We could have almost missed them if it weren’t for Sandra’s good call to clear the coast one last time. Dreams do come true!
To the people who ventured on this adventure (20th Nov – 10th Dec) with me, the moments we’ve bonded over, the memories we shared, will be forever etched in my sea of memories and they belong there forever, just like the wild beautiful lives of the ocean.
October 16, 2016 § Leave a comment
1 Corinthians 13:4
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Thank you Lord for Abby
September 28, 2016 § Leave a comment
The moral law, was revealed in nature and known by reason. — C S Lewis 1952
Sometimes it’s hard to understand why certain things are done, why choices are made, why some people become this way. There’s no control over our human nature, nothing in nature is controllable.
September 26, 2016 § Leave a comment
It’s been awhile, and I’m still not ready to face my current feelings. There are just too many other distractions, and in a way it’s good because procrastination is now my new past time.
I just suddenly thought of doing this little random moment between minutes post as I was inspired by thekitchengarden, when her son filled up her writings on the wall:
Every minute is filled, except for the moments between the minutes.
The moments are like the invisible pauses in the unstoppable time. It’s transient and elusive, comes when you least expect it. So here’s to my first moment between minutes, to remind myself simple things that are often forgotten.
So you surprised me with Lamingtons in my cabinet, which are amazing. I guess that’s why I’m here in the library, subconsciously avoiding the slices of heaven, and even more subconsciously avoiding you. Because I feel like I don’t deserve it. But how do I tell you?
August 28, 2016 § Leave a comment
Today marks my last breakfast read with this book as I finally reached the end. I was intending to finish within a week of coming to Tassie but the world got the better of me. Like what the observer said:
Gave me that rare, greedy feeling of: this is so good I want to read it all at once but I mustn’t if not it will be over too soon.
Though I was a slow (dead slow) reader, I’m kinda thankful for that because then I wouldn’t be rushing through the book or feeling like I need to slow down. Ha!
Every chapter or page I read on every permitting morning, it was like reading a flashback of my weeks doings, because the amount of relevance of Christopher’s story to mine more than just coincidence. I could relate to his thoughts and actions more than I could for anything else, and I really wondered how and why I chose to bring this book with me from home and to read it now in a different place at a different time, it spoke differently.
What saddens me is the reality of the norm, as the world wouldn’t stop for people like us who just needs a little bit more time. But I guess that’s how it is. In this time of passing faces and fast paces, I dwell in the comfort of Christopher’s logical mind to find himself in the midst of going about solving Wellington’s mystery death and finding mom in London. I loved reading about how Christopher was subconsciously trying to love the beings around him through his subtle relentings despite having a hard time to comprehend the illogical complexity of love as a whole.
Thanks Chris, you’ll be a great scientist that I want to meet in future if I get to.