Category Archives: first-time

My process of designing a business card for a performer/singer-songwriter

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My GypsyGoods

When Shimona asked me to help her design her business card, I was ecstatic!

Despite of the hugeeeeeee pile of workload I have in the office, I’m always psyched up to work on something fun and creative. Trust me, nothing feels more awesome than to do something you’re passionate about. Also an A+ for helping a friend! 🙂

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Shimona is having a gig at the #BKKtweetup’s gathering this coming Saturday night at Coco Beach, Ratchathewi BTS station Exit 4, so I needed to finish the card designs by the middle of this week (which I did, yesterday night!).

What Do You Want In The Card
Before designing, what I usually ask is the information they want in the card, any particular images, size, color, etc. Besides her contact details and minute info, Shis gave me the liberty to wing the design (a dream, a dream!). But I had to make sure that the design is: simple, sweet and stylish and the color is reddish-orangeish.

I also added another element: minimalist.

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Brainstorming
Every designer has different ways of brainstorming. For me, I start working on the card itself in Photoshop by first choosing the font. After scouting and trying, I finally settled on Segoe Print (free for download!) as the brand font. Friends following this blog knows my personal obsession with typography – so I believe Segoe Print embodies what Shimona wants to bring out – simplicity, stylo and a touch of carefree-ness! 🙂 The other font I chose is Tw Cen MT, a sans-serif minimalist font used for short information.

Then I googled on business cards just to see what other people have designed for performers. After dozens of pages, I saw one that I really like: a B&W portrait of a singer, smiling carefree off-camera with her hands crossing over each other, and the contact details at the bottom of the card. I knew right then I wanted the similar sentiment for Shis’ card.

Version 1: Orange.
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Version 2: Orange – Twitter info at the back.
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By the way, I got the Twitter logo from here.

Shis really liked the Twitter-at-the-back design. With a better high-resolution profile picture and a change of color, the final and chosen design became this:

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Shis is also going to print another version which I made: City Skyline

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Shis also wanted another business card that has her profession as a counselor/teacher stated. So below are the initial designs:

Version 3: Color-Combo
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Yup, you can see I experimented the colors by picking color from Google images. You can say that what appears nice on other things doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll work on your BC. A very good lesson to learn, haha!

So Shis suggested baby blue with lush purple. And this is what I came up:

Version 4: Blue&Purple-Combo
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I was getting somewhere with the 3rd design (on your lowest right). The top looked a little bare, so I experimented more:

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I didn’t design the treble clef, by the way – Shis found it!

So the final chosen design was:

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Can’t wait to see these designs printed on hard copy!

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Summer 2009 in pictures

1. My first Milo Dinosaur, served at D’Chillz. Made by Alden. Not bad.
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2. Kids being miniature soldiers.
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3. Stopped by Phanit’s house in Australian Village after dinner at Station. Daron, you would’ve been so proud of your student! He practices, you know…”
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4. Vanilla & lime with butterscotch topping at D’Chillz. I claim only Aaron and Sandy can do it right.
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5. Dozens of monks trickling in on Wat Po compound. Mimi and I was giggling when we saw some of them had tattoos at their backs.
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6. Trust the Thais to come up something innovative (and low-budget) like this recyclable Windex sprayer using Pepsi and Lipton Ice tea bottles.
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7. Saturday nights at Dr Pak Lee’s, playing Wii. This guy can ski like nobody’s business okay! LOL
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8. One of the six cats of the Lee’s…CUTE KAN. This is my first time of my seven years here to even be near one!
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9. Farewell potluck for Bob at the Lampadans.
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10. Bob and friends before he left for good.
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11. Had awesome green noodles with Ivonne, Onya, Teds, Jun and Fian.
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12. …wouldn’t be complete without the most awesome Thai chai yen on earth (though it’s diluted, by the time this picture was taken)
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13. Simple activity during Ivonne’s farewell dinner. Wrote messages of encouragement to Ivonne, read it to her, and make it into a star! (though most of the time, we forgot to read and we concentrated on making the papers into stars…haha)
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14. Ivonne sorting out two of her huge bags to fit 46 kgs, the max. luggage requirement of KLM.
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Sharing my favorite inspirational quotes

My favorite logo/web/graphic designer Jacob Cass shared responses towards his Twitter on “What’s your favorite inspirational quote”.

He shared about 40+ quotes and here are some of my favorites:

mcAIU (formerly MC) at Muak Lek

1. “Unless you move, the place where you are is the place where you will always be.” ~Ashleigh Brilliant
Note: DEANNA, MOVE. You’ve been in Muak Lek far too long (7 years+!)

2. “Do what you love to do, but don’t do it to the point where you don’t love it anymore.”
Note: I’m concerned for those who loved what they’re doing, but slowly burning out. Don’t burn out! Hang on.

3. “I don’t want to be one of those who say ‘I wish I had’. I want to be one of those who say ‘I’m glad I did’.”
Note: Deanna, be brave! Take courage. Take a leap lah you adui.

4. “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
Note: This is the ultimate dream.

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Designing MC Christmas card using Adobe Illustrator for the 1st time.

5. “To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.” ~ Joseph Chilton Pearce
Note: Deanna, don’t be afraid of making mistakes. It’s okay. Let go of that perfectionist-a attitude.

6. “Be a fountain, not a drain.” ~Rex Hudler
Note: Don’t be stagnant, Deanna. Move it! Always think of what you could do better.

7. “Graphic design is the spit and polish but not the shoe.” ~Ellen Lupton
Note: The learning process, Deanna. The Journey.

8. “Don’t get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water.” ~Li Zhènfan
Note: Don’t be a drain – be a fountain!

newsbiteMy very first Newsbyte. Cried a lot especially in the first few months; people calling it names and whatnot. But with lots of trials and errors and perseverance, fast forward 3 years and Newsbyte news and design does not look like how it first came out. We came a long way.

9. “Success is falling down 7 times but getting up 8.”
Note: Persevere. This is going to be hard…

10. “Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination.” ~Jim Jarmush
Note: Continue blog-surfing. Read up. See what others in the field have done. Always want to keep learning.

11. “Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination.” ~Jim Jarmush
Note: Continue blog-surfing. Read up. See what others in the field have done. Always want to keep learning.

12. “Keep her lit” ~Anyone from Northern Ireland
Note: My point exactly (refer #11)

bloglinesSubscribed to dozens of blogs and sites that promote inspiration, design and creativity. I use Bloglines to handle my rss reads 🙂

13. “Art is creativity, creativity is passion, passion is love.” ~Andrew Brynjulson.
Note: I think I know my passion, but I’m a little afraid. I mean, what if what you think is your passion is not your passion? What if I’m wrong? Argh…life.

14.“Design that doesn’t take a chance doesn’t stand a chance”
Note: TAKE A CHANCE lah, Deanna haiyoh you really scared is it

15.“In order to know what is right, you’ve got to know what is wrong.”
Self-explanatory

16.“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~Mark Twain

Note: Refer #3.

me at joggerthonJoining my first 5km jogging-marathon called Joggerthon in February 2008. Also my first medal for a ‘sports’ activity.

See more inspirational quotes here

First experience dining at Muak Lek’s Gold Plus restaurant

You thought being in a small town for 7 years, you have experienced almost everything local.

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Like visiting the Italian restaurant/cafe Primo Posto Del Khao Yai 20 minutes away from campus.

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Or discovering the most awesome Thai cha yen EVER and green vege noodles with Thai prick pau sauce about 10 minutes away from campus.

But nope.

I have not experienced everything local, and you know what, that’s alright. In fact, it’s Awesome! Because having opportunities for new adventures/new things to explore keep my life colorful and fresh! 🙂

So yesterday evening, Julie brought me to GOLD PLUS restaurant, an endearing lovely place located outside of the highway.

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(yeah, I took this picture before going home hehe)

If you have been in Thailand long enough, you’d realize that a nice Thai restaurant usually have a nature-themed atmosphere going on. And GOLD PLUS is one of them.

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The entrance of the restaurant.

After they took down our orders, we decided to explore the place a little bit. They have a wooden stairway leading to a higher level with more tables and chairs, and another higher level where there is a private room for exclusive groups (though I find it a little dusty). Also, there’s a balcony so you could sort of see a bigger picture of the place.

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Here’s the view from the balcony. Nice ya?

Say hi to Julie! 🙂

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So that was the restaurant…and how about the food?

Whoaahh I like, I like!

We ordered four dishes, and I’ll introduce them as we go along.

Below: Hong Kong chinese noodles, and the Green Apple salad.

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The chinese noodles were lovely! Definitely had the taste of how a Chinese dish should be 🙂 And as for the Apple salad, I was actually a little surprised. I had a picture in mind, and when it came, it looked like a som-tum inspired salad.

And you know what – not only the appearance, but even the taste is som-tum inspired! I know it sounds weird but the Thai fusion combination worked! I enjoyed savoring this dish =) =) =)

The 3rd dish we had was Miso soup. The warm liquid with a touch of seaweed and toufu settled just right, especially when the weather rained a little bit and was quite windy later at night.

But I got to draw your attention at our 4th dish – the Fettuccine with…THAI GREEN CURRY.

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This (another) Thai fusion dish may sound weird, may look weird…but I tell you.

It taste sooooooo delicious! You know how you have spaghetti with basil leaves? I say this is 10x BETTER. The curry has a bit of creamish texture, which I really like and thus, gels well with the pasta. Credits to Julie for recommending this dish. I never look at Fettucine and Thai green curry the same way again.

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Price wise was good too. Our meal cost almost 500 baht. For the ambiance and the food, I’d say it’s worth it. 🙂

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A cute napkin holder. Thai people are so creative!

It was a great experience to dine at GOLD PLUS. I’d definitely come back here again! Now, I just need to learn how to ride a bike…

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The landmark from the highway that you need to spot to enter GOLD PLUS. If you’re on the highway, just stay on the left and you should spot the landmark in minutes.

The experience was even made more awesome because of good company 🙂

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Julie, I will miss you! Am so glad you came to MC. I’m sure we will cross path in the future =)

My first Twitter experience: Why every Twitter user should get TwitterFox

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When the Facebook craze started, I didn’t join it immediately. In fact, I put it aside and yes, I was a little skeptical. I mean c’mon, ANOTHER Friendster-like application? No offense, but after the mushrooming of online communities like Friendster, Hi5!, MySpace, Ning (and the list goes on and on), I thought Facebook was just another community where you can put your profile picture and write your About Me section, upload photos, yada2…nothing new *yawns.

But Facebook became bigger and I eventually got sucked into it. And after being a FB user for more than a year, I do see a reason to keep/stick with it.

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I mean, there’s nothing cooler than to view pictures of your long-lost childhood friend and her first baby, tagging photos of the recent Banquet (so you virtually “have” the pictures), writing comments, clicking “Like”, etc. Though I really hate the FB applications like being a vampire slayer and buying your friend. Kasih clutter only my page, chis…

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Then Twitter came along. And similar to my FB experience, I was skeptical. C’mon, not ANOTHER application!

But months passed by, and my favorite bloggers have Twitter updates on their blogs. Uhm, they also rave about it, like my favorite wedding photographer-blogger Jasmine Star:

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Then there’s Jacob Cass aka me fave web/font/graphic designer who’s currently studying at University of Newscastle ohhh DARON please deliberately fall to your knees, giggle and say hi for me if you ever stumble into him was interviewed about being a top Newcastle twitter and shared his insights on why he thinks Twitter is cool (read here)

Also not mentioning during the whole Red-Yellow shirts commotion thing in Bangkok, a friend helped me to check out the situation by corresponding with a journalist who was tweeting almost every minute from his phone in Bangkok.

Whoa.

AND Shimona sent me something to check on Twitter and not having an account, I decided to make one.

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During my first few minutes in Twitter, I started to yawn. So I need/should type something about “What am I doing?” Hmm. How is this different again from Facebook’s What’s on my mind? It’s like, why should I have two open tabs aka websites that have more or less the same function? I typed anyway on some ramble thoughts, and having only very few friends — okay, make that 1 active friend aka Shimona –, it was a pretty dead experience.

Then Shimona replied. And then I replied. And then she replied some more. And I did too. Okay, things started to get pretty exciting when I saw this:

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Shis tweeting from Twitterfox? What’s Twitterfox? Wait, isn’t she tweeting from her Twitter account website?

I clicked TwitterFox and saw this:

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Here’s a formal description on TwitterFox:
TwitterFox is a Firefox extension that notifies you of your friends’ tweets on Twitter.

This extension adds a tiny icon on the status bar which notifies you when your friends update their tweets. Also it has a small text input field to update your tweets.

This gives Twitter an edge because now I don’t have to open a new tab, log into Twitter website and tweet from there! I can access Twitter from this awesomely cool and small application conveniently placed on the bottom right of my Firefox browser and it’ll update me whenever my friends tweet AND I can also tweet too!

Okay, enough words. Perhaps pictures will help illustrate Twitterfox better:

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After you download and install TwitterFox, you need to restart your Firefox browser. Then, you will notice a small, blue uncapitablize “t” aka Twitter logo on the bottom right of your browser (see pic above and below).

Here’s a closer look on the “t”.

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Notice there’s the number 1 next to the “t”? It means I have a tweet update from one of my friends.

So all you need to do is click the “t”, and this is what you’ll see from your browser:

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Let’s go for a closer look.

You can type in whateveryouaredoing in “Recent” (see below):

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And what’s the point of having Twitter if you can’t comment/reply on your friend’s whateverhe/sheis doing, right? So yes in TwitterFox, you CAN comment/reply and the thread is available (see below). This is under the “Replies” tab:

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I think every Tweeter user should get a TwitterFox because it is clutter-free – I mean, you don’t have to open another tab! Especially if you’re like me who have a lot of tabs opened and can’t close it because fear of losing information, Twitterfox helps you to tweet on a browser that’s already opened. Seriously, it can’t get any better than this.

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But what’s the point of having a Twitter account if you don’t have your friends joining in?

Note to friends: I think if all of you guys have Twitter, die lah we all. We’ll be chatting instead of working/studying!

If you have Twitter, feel free to add me on http://twitter.com/dberyl. 🙂

PS – There’s actually a guide to Twitter. Astagah.

Part III: A humbling experience in Sabah

I can feel memories are slowly slipping off…so I better finish blogging about my East Malaysia trip before I forget!

At the beginning of the trip, we started with Sarawak. In the beginning, we had some rough spots – and it all started with our ‘resort’.

But superman Randy and superwoman Clare saved us and brought us to Kuching for a breath of air. We toured Kuching, ate some awesome Kuching food and return to Ayer Manis with a calmer heart.

Then we traveled on a 12-hour bus ride to Miri. Due to miscommunication, we found out that we only had 1 performance instead of 2. That was a blessing in disguise because the night off gave us a chance to catch up on our sleep, rest, practice, and reorganize. We also had a chance to see a little bit of Miri. Although our accommodation was simple, we felt very much home. We were taken care so well that by the time it was time to start our program, we were energized and rejuvenated to sing! That was our best performance so far.

And now here comes the second half of the trip: SABAH aka my home state Woohoo! 🙂

But before I start with Sabah, I must not forget to tell you what happened in Miri airport (to be more precise, in the plane we were boarding).

I entered the plane, only to find Ivonne frantically running past me with a worried look.

Ivonne couldn’t find her wallet in her backpack. She checked and rechecked and still, no sign of wallet. So she ran outside the plane and into the Departure hall to check whether her wallet was at the seats that we sat earlier on. Nada.

At this point of time, I was dead worried too. How am I going to deal with this? What steps do I, the trip coordinator, take? Do I need to bring Ivonne to see a police officer? Do we report the missing wallet? But the main question that bothered me was,

Are we going to leave Miri without Ivonne’s wallet?

Even I took Ivonne’s bag and checked it several times. None. Jun said something, but I didn’t really hear him (I was too busy concentrating on locating a blue long and thick wallet).

Ivonne came back, shook her head, return to her seat and sobbed. A sort-of airport police attendant came not long after her and politely asked her questions. He was quite nice, actually…very attentive. He took down details and I gave him my phone number, my house phone number and even my mom’s number. He assured Ivonne that they will try and locate her wallet and will call me if they found her wallet.

The police attendant left. We were all trying to comfort Ivonne. Jun, who has been trying to say something (but none of us were listening) managed to capture Ivonne’s attention. He asked her to check her small handbag that she’s been carrying all along.

It was a real small Thai handbag and her wallet was thick. Ivonne didn’t look convinced but figured she might as well tried.

She looked into her bag, digged in a little, and paused. Then she looked up with an ARGH expression and later faced us.

“DON’T SAY ANYTHING”

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Yup, Ivonne found her wallet! Everyone felt so happy and relieved! 🙂 Only Ivonne knows how she really felt after she discovered her wallet =).

Back to the trip, we’ve been a team of eight. In Sabah, we had another team member who joined us and I’m glad to say that it was Julie!

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I cannot tell you how fiercely HAPPY I was when Julie joined us. As soon as she arrived, I was already on a storyteller-roll, telling her what happened on Day 1 up to then. Julie has been on similar trips before, so she knew how the experience would be like. It was good to have someone who understood the struggles we’ve been through and the awesome blessings we’ve received. Having someone who has participated in this kind of trips AND who is also a reealllly good friend of mine was a true blue blessing!

Look at the picture above again. I really adore that picture because it encapsulated the fun that I had with Julie – we were cracking up jokes and laughing at almost every opportunity. On a personal note, Julie’s presence brightened me up. Ju, I’m really glad you came along! 🙂

Okay, back to the trip!

In Sabah, we traveled from so long, so far. After we touched down KK, we stopped by my house for a good 40 minutes. After that, it was a 6-hour journey to SANDAKAN. I’ve never been to Sandakan in the 25 years of my life, so I was excited to go to a new place…in my own home state! 🙂

For lunch, we stopped by at some Chinese restaurant. The group, not done with the 3-layer-tea, ordered for it. Unfortunately, Teh C Special was not available, so they had to deal with plain ol’ Teh C.

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Past 5 in the evening, we reached our destination – Sandakan church.

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We had only little time to get ready (had to wait for the pastor for a long while because he had the key and he wasn’t there). But we managed to be on time and we performed.

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Over here, I had to speak Malay too (nobody was there to translate for me). Uhm, no my Malay wasn’t polish yet…although certain phrases like “Lagu seterusnya bertajuk…” (the next song is entitled…) were slowly coming back.

This was the church also where I introduced myself as Pegawai Komunikasi (in direct translation, it means ‘Communications officer’). If you speak Malay, you would laugh at the Malay title BECAUSE ‘Pegawai’
connotates I’m sort of a government officer…like a police officer.

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Moving on!

The next morning, Julie and I woke up early and had a morning excursion with one mission – to go downtown and find a kedai kopi (restaurant) to bring the group for breakfast.

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After a wrong turn (saw a roundabout, a highway and more trees) and a 911 call to our friend from the area, we took a right instead from the church, and about 15 minutes later, we were sort-of in town. We saw a Chinese restaurant, took a right in, pass a couple of restaurants, and finally stopped at this Malay restaurant.

The menu looked promising,

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and another factor why we decided to bring the group here was because of the AVOCADO SHAKE.

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So we went back, gathered the group, and came back to this restaurant.

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Oh man look at the kuay teow basah above. Just look at the egg gravy. This is Rae’s (it’s supposed to be a vegetarian dish).

And look at mine:

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Haiyah, it was so dissappointing! For a kuay teow basah dish, what’s really important is the kuah/gravy itself. There should be egg straining in the gravy (similar like the previous dish). So I REALLY did not enjoy my noodles. Not only was the gravy all dead wrong, it was quite bland. Eurghh, so dissappointing! *Don’t worry Adventist friends, I took out the prawns.

Anyway after food, we went back to the church, packed our stuff to our van, and travelled to our next destination – ULU DUSUN.

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Ulu Dusun is one of the top memorable places we’ve had in our trip.

Way before the trip started, we knew there were places where we would literally sleep on the floor. Ulu Dusun was one of those places and the group was prepared to use the sleeping bags that was solicited by a kind friend earlier in the trip. However a call in the morning by the district pastor completely surprised me:

“…we have changed your place of stay. Instead of the church, we are putting you in a resort nearby…”

What?

Frankly speaking, I was a tad doubtful. Resort? The last thing I wanted to do was raise the expectations of my members, and later be dissappointed by it (and thus, more complaints about what IS a resort, etc). Julie knew, so both of us kept quiet during our journey to Ulu Dusun.

And when we arrived at JS Riadah Resort, the group was completely taken surprised.

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It was an actual resort. Sure, not like the kind with a swimming pool, but it has comfortable rooms with private bathrooms is air-conditioned. And a TV. And a restaurant conveniently located right outside of our rooms. It was more than perfect!

I found out later from Julie that the church sponsored our stay at the resort. I went, What? A similar experience we had in our marketing trip was in 2007 when someone mysteriously sponsored our classy guestrooms at the Union in Singapore.

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Again, I was completely humbled by human generosity again. The church is apparently very excited about us coming and they wanted us to be comfortable. Wow. Julie and I said our thanks to the pastor and told the rest about what just happened. They were also humbled too.

With great hospitality we’ve received, we were more than ready to visit the church whom have reached out to us even before seeing us.

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See how overexcited I am? 🙂 If you look at the pictures from the previous blog entries, you can actually trace a progression of my facial expression. The trip was definitely getting better, less stress :).

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There were also church members who traveled about 50 kms to hear us sing. Unfortunately, they came late, only to arrived at our second last song.

When we knew about this, I immediately rounded up the members, and we sung them an acapella upbeat number in the potluck hall.

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They were delighted! To see their reactions – we probably wouldn’t mind continuing singing. This was also the church who prepared two big combined tables, JUST FOR US. We were completely blown away!

Ulu Dusun not only redeemed the title ‘resort’ – they were living testaments on human generosity. Bless their hearts.

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The entry on Ulu Dusun is incomplete without mentioning the awesomelicious MEE GORENG MAMAK. Oh it was SO GOOD! If you ever go to JS Riadah, do me a favor and try Mee Goreng Mamak. It’s seriously so delicious!

Our next stop was Telupid. It was raining this time, so by the time we got out of the van to get into our place, it was muddy and wet. Some of them were tired and managed to catch some eye rest.

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The place where we stayed to the church where we were performing was about 15 minutes. We got there on time and began the program. The audience absolutely loved Dalam Yesus, a Malay song. Imagine when I said:

“…so we’ve sung a Malay song, a Thai song, English songs…what do you think is the next language we are going to sing in?”
“Dusun!”
“Dusun? Okay we try ah.”

They were very excited and sang Mulong Pia along with us. If you want to grab the locals’ attention, I completely recommend finding and learning a song in their language! It was absolutely a joy to sing in my supposedly-mother tongue and seeing the smiles on congregation’s face. 🙂

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This was also the church where Julie and I slept on the floor. Luckily we had a mat and sleeping bags to sleep on!

Something exciting also happened that night. It was Matthew’s birthday on Saturday, so we tried to stay up until midnight to give him a birthday shower – literally. But we were getting sleepy so we decided to make it an hour earlier. Jun managed to get Matthew to be outside of the house to see the “Milky Way” (we can’t believe he actually fall for it!), while the rest of us were already set with our mineral water bottles and talcum powder (that’s me, that’s me!). The second he stood out, he was showered and Ivonne chased Matthew on the compound with her water bottle. Hahahaha it was a funny sight! We tried our best to control our laughter and noise movements (the pastor’s house was right next to us!) – we even sung Happy Birthday at the level of a whisper. Here’s a picture to commemorate the event:

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The next morning, we traveled another 2 hours to Ranau. On our way to Ranau, we were blessed to see this beautiful view:

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Hello, Mount Kinabalu!

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At Ranau, we had to make readjustments to our program on the spot. Unlike our previous experience in Sarawak, this time we were more prepared. And I was less frantic compared the first time we were presented with sudden last-minute changes.

I found out later after the trip that it is actually expected to be suddenly given the ‘opportunity’ to give a sermon, a talk, a this and a that. It’s NORMAL. Even though this is not my first trip, I did not remember this norm AT ALL. Perhaps maybe before I was just a participant (not the organizer) and we have faculty with us, so perhaps THEY took care of the sermon, etc. Anyway, I’ve learn BIG from this – whenever you visit a church, it is normal and expected that you are prepared to give a talk. So the best way is to prepare BEFOREHAND…a sermonette, a devotion, etc.

A good lesson to indeed.

After Ranau, we continued another 2 hours journey, which is our last destination – Tamparuli!

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While waiting for pastor for a ride to another guestroom.

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Tamparuli is the district where Sabah Mission is located and where Sabah Adventist Secondary School (SASS), one of our two Adventist schools, is situated. This is also Julie, Daron, and Lorena’s school. Aww. 🙂

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This is the Pioneer Memorial Church, the church where we performed.

After potluck, with the help of Julie and Nathan (and joined by my family and Lorena), we brought the whole group to Secret Recipe, Warisan Square in KK. My sister helped to reserved the second floor for the whole group (plis ok plis!). It was Matthew’s birthday, so we wanted to make it extra special. It was so special that he didn’t know a birthday cake has already been prepared with his name on it.

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Deanna’s favorite chocolate mud cake from Secret Recipe.

Another surprise was that my name and Julie’s were also written on the cake (we’re April babies!) too. Awww. 🙂 It’s nice to be surprised once in a while (I still prefer being the organizer behind the scene…hihihih).

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At that point, I was truly enjoying myself in the trip. I had good company and I had a great experience. What more could a girl ask for? 🙂

Thankfully, I was able to go home that night and spend a few hours with my family. We had an early flight the next morning, so before entering the departure hall, we managed to take a group photo.

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This entry has over 30 photos! So I’m writing my overall reflection the next blog entry.

Part II: A humbling experience in Miri

This is a continuation of my trip to Sabah and Sarawak in April.

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The 12-hour bus ride was actually alright. Except for the occasional bumps, it was a pretty smooth ride. I think whenever you have to travel long, it’s a good idea to travel at night and arrive in the morning – that way, you’ll sleep most of the time.

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Miri was absolutely a great treat for us! The day before, I spoke with the pastor’s wife and apparently, there was another…wait for it…MIScommunication. We thought that we were going to do two performances at two different places in Miri. “Eh, but we only have one church. You’re only doing one program, on Tuesday night. We’ve informed the members already.” Nonetheless, I took this as a good thing BECAUSE it meant that
a) we were able to catch up on our sleep/rest more (we were still exhausted from our recent events)
b) have more time to practice, prepare and refine our program

We’ve been performing every night since we landed, and having the night “off” would really helped the dynamics of our group.

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Our alumni Pastor Joggery and his family lives right next to the church (we girls stayed at the Primary class, the boys in the Cradle Roll class). They took care of us so well – accommodating us with food, more food, extension cords, always asking us “Is there anything else you need?” We were also able to do some laundry too.

Just when I thought I was humbled enough by my experience, God decided to do more.

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Pastor Joggery and Aunty Nancy, a really awesome-hip-and-friendly church member, brought all of us out for a Miri sight-seeing in the evening. Similar like Kuching, I did not suggest anything at all — I really thought we were just going to stay at the church compound, practice and play UNO. Because really, we wouldn’t have complain.

But they brought us out. To this place WHICH I FORGOT THE NAME – but it’s a park with this really loonnnggg and modern suspension bridge and I was just jumping up and down, running through and through like a little kid on the bridge. It rained a little then a little bit more…but we couldn’t care less. After the park, they brought us out to Boulevard, a nearby mall for an hour. Some of us got to buy some stuff, make some name stickers and ate waffles. I had waffles. 🙂 We returned home (yes, HOME :)), had dinner prepared by Aunty Dorothy, and then it was bed time. Finally I was able to sleep properly for the first time since we traveled. It felt good.

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The next day presented me a cultural issue that some members were facing even during the beginning of the trip, so I decided to address it. There were a few occasion when someone requested/mentioned something in front of our host and I was internally embarrassed.

For example, let’s say…if someone said, “So are we going out to a mall today?” right in front of me and the host. In Malaysian culture, you wouldn’t want to do that because you don’t want to impose the host. Let’s say, what if the host has different plans, like bringing you for a nature walk on a local national park or something. Now the host have to make changes to his/her plan to accommodate you. This is especially not ideal when the host is the one making plans to bring you out (as in, you are not paying for the trip).

There’s also this culture of ‘losing face’ – the host wouldn’t want to ‘lose face’ because he/she is not able to bring you out to the place you want to go…and also doesn’t want you to ‘lose face’ because you’re embarrassed that your request was declined.

But anyway, during the address moment, I learned that I jumped into conclusions way too fast. When someone suggests something, say, “Are we going to have lunch now?”, I concluded that they want to eat like RIGHT NOW and this frustrates me, especially if this is said in front of a host. HOWEVER I was told that that’s not what they meant – actually, they’re just asking a question and that’s that. No lunch, no problemo. Just asking. I’m glad for that realization because it really opened my mind and how I need to “chill”.

* Don’t jump into conclusions. Clarify whenever possible.

Anyway, our hosts so far have been so nice and hospitable when that ‘occasions’ happen. Maybe this whole imposing thing is no longer a Malaysian culture (I blame my absence of 7 years away from Malaysia made me stuck into a time-warp). It was good to address this, and it was decided that I must inform them directly (don’t beat around the bush) whenever that happens. OKAY.

Moving on!

Our place of stay was so convenient – the piano and stage is within a few steps away. We were able to get used to the stage, practice our songs and discuss our program schedule. We also took the time to make a mock praise and worship song list IN CASE we were going to come across a church without a piano. We were more confident of our program that night and for our future programs. We were more organized than ever! 🙂

We planned on staying at the church compound the whole day. But Pastor Joggery then said “Okay, we’re bringing you out at 2 pm”. Whoa, what? I almost wanted to say Pastor, are you sure you want to take us out? Aren’t we bothering you enough? Oh wow, this is really too much goodness I can handle!

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Pastor Joggery and Aunty Nancy’s husband brought us to Canada Hill. Absolutely a place to visit whenever you’re in MIRI. A gorgeous view of Miri and the ocean can be seen from Canada Hill. This place also houses the Petroleum Museum (interactive, fun and colorful museum), so you get historical information on how petroleum was first discovered at Miri and all that.

They also brought us to City Fan (Taman Kipas).

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Such a beautiful park (why don’t we have this in KK!?!?!). Anyway. There’s one section of the park that took our interest – the healing stones. Apparently, it was the first time for the group to see this, so they really took a kick of walking all over the stones, lying on them and even had a small race.

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Cool, huh?

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By this time, everyone has tried the healing stones…except me (because I know it’s painful!). Jun (in picture) really wanted me to try the stones. “C’mon Deanna…it’s a little painful at first but you’ll feel really good after you get off the stones. It’ll help you to be less stressed!” Hahahahaha.

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Jun’s right – it does feel good to walk or lie (I prefer this!) on the stones.

We got back to the church in the evening and we saw a beautiful rays of light coming out from a sun setting.

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I forgot how beautiful the views you get from the church. The sky was changing colors every minute. It was a nice way to end the day…or before we start our program!

miri3

Since we began our trip, our program at Miri was the best. We sounded good, we mingled with the students, and they were interested to know more about our degree programs. The fellowship was fantastic too – although it’s a small church, but the church members really make you feel welcome. We even celebrated one of young teenagers’ birthday. Imagine before the potluck started, the pastor said:

“Okay everyone. We have some rules and regulations. First of all, we start from this side (left) of the table and then right through this other side (right). Second, DON’T MEDITATE UPON THE FOOD. Take and then move on okay. Third, visitors first!”

I know it doesn’t make much impact from reading this, but I tell ya – everyone was laughing so hard, especially when it came to the meditate part. One of the youngsters I spoke with said that they have a really cool pastor. This is a church where everyone feels homey. And we feel the same way too.

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In Miri, I was again given the privilege to experience people’s genuine hospitality. It made me hope again in human kindness and I’m glad to find it in Miri :).

Next top, SABAH woohoo! (PART III)

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Queen Elizabeth Hospital – the place where I was born at.