1 in 7

When ‘1 in 7’ feels as precious as ‘1 in a million’.

I thought I would have much more to talk about, my grievances and dislikes of the current workplace. I guess I still do every few days, in ebbs and bobs, but it has been more manageable. I don’t voice out my opinions alot but at the start with all this haphazard system in place lack of, deep inside I’m like, “I hate this!!!”.

Now I’ve reached a zen phase. I just stop reacting all together, kinda defying Newton’s 3rd law haha. Now I just want things to get over and done with. If I had learnt anything during this period of time (and I’m saying this very early cos I am not even halfway through this posting), I learnt that:

  1. I can tank shit better than I think and there are shittier places that I have (luckily) not ventured to.
  2. Shit really happens no matter where you are!
  3. No point comparing cos life will still be the same for you at that moment.
  4. I can’t thrive but I shall survive.
  5. My brain retards in the morning/my cortisol surge (if ever) only comes post rounds – that’s something to circumvent.

You geddit, don’t you?

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Ocean

“I do not miss childhood, but I miss the way I took pleasure in small things, even as greater things crumbled. I could not control the world I was in, could not walk away from things or people or moments that hurt, but I took joy in the things that made me happy.”

— The Ocean At The End Of The Lane, Neil Gaiman

It’s a little hard for me to decide what genre this book belongs to, although it’s not hard to find out from Goodreads or Wikipedia. To me, it is a more chim and fancy way of reminiscing one’s younger years.

I realised I did not spent my years being thoroughly joyous. It’s impossible. But I spent it being contented. There were many times I felt that I was restricted by my age and circumstances. But there were also many times things worked out anyway. And like my mum always say in my late teens/early twenties, when we have the time to talk about the past, “I remember how your brothers grew up, destroying things, causing trouble, but I don’t know how you grew up over these years”.

I guess it’s kinda mehhh to know that my mum don’t pay as much attention to me compared to my brothers at the same age, but it also makes me swell with a little pride inside. I made it. Like the triumph of a wildflower poking out the cracks of a brick wall. Not to say I’ve grown up independent of any form of help, but I think I was lucky enough to get by gleaning from other people’s lessons.

I learnt the basics of managing my finances from my mother. The first lesson took place on the first day of Primary 1 while waiting for the school bus — count my money and to look at the price of the food at the canteen and know how much change you should receive. If I don’t know anything, ask my brother. Yep, that’s about 80% of my knowledge on personal finances. What is BTO and loans and mortgages and interest rates? Ok la I know a bit about interest rates until it’s compounded with weird jargon on brochures.

I never really knew when the economy is good or bad. But I guessed we weren’t doing thattt well. I wished we had more. I wished that recess could be more fulfilling beyond a pack of 40cents lemon juice. I wished that there were more options for lunch other than this 50cents fishball noodles (which tasted awful and built my resentment towards fishballs). I wished that there was no pressure to contribute to other people’s birthday presents.

But I guess I’m glad I didn’t turn into a pai kia. I wasn’t so resourceful to build a business or to acquire money through undesirable ways, so I saved up. I got my precious $2 purple plastic skipping rope, which is still a legit good buy, even when it left marks when you accidentally whip yourself. It multipled my happiness back then. I learned to siam my way out of paying for other people’s impractical gifts by making cards. Perhaps not the most practical either haha. But technically my fondest friendships were not sustained by money anyway.

I remember being a teenager and trying to conform to a certain standard. You know, the fringe must be long and side swept. Ankle socks. Ripcurl and Billabong stuff. In some ways I managed to conform. And out of all those ‘in’ things, the only thing that stayed was blogging. It was the only thing I was happy to keep till now, even if it contains loads of cringe-worthy writing.

It changed from being something everyone had to something exclusively personal. That excitement from having someone comment in the cbox and paying attention became a burden to keep up. At the same time, the things that felt terribly difficult to contain in real life back then found a home. My crushes, feeling legit crushed from lousy grades, not doing well in vball. It felt liberating, being able to achieve a new equilibrium everytime something happened to shake up your world. I learnt not to care so much about other people’s comments or how they view you, I learnt the value of privacy, I learnt the joy of writing.

The Great Getaway – Routeburn

Picking up from where I left off previously.

Queenstown (Routeburn)

There was a great deal of lounging at Wanaka Bakpaka before we actually set off for Queenstown. I took the time to read up on Routeburn… which I still felt kinda scared for. The guidebooks described it with so much vocabulary but you just cannot imagine how it will be like. What is that majestic fall they are talking about? A cliff walk? Oh my mama.

The bus trip from Wanaka to Queenstown wasn’t too long. 2 hours tops. We went about doing the admin stuff like collecting tickets for the track, settling down, searching for dinner, figuring out how the whole luggage thing will work during the track, packing for the track. Unfortunately the trio had to be separated to uno and duo for the next 3D2N because one of us had quite bad knee damage from Roy’s Peak.

The jam-packed later part of the day was exhausting. It felt great to sink into the soft beds at Sir Cedrics that night. Oh and we bumped into a fellow traveller whom we met at Roy’s Peak! She happened to be sharing the same room as us. And the moment I saw her hat I thought she looked familiar. Small world haha. It was the first time I slept in a pod hostel and I think Sir Cedrics was a great introduction to it. Cos really, all you really need is a bed with privacy, space for the luggage, a decent toilet. Checked, checked, checked.

We woke up early the next day and set off to catch our bus to the start of the track! I remember at the start of the day I told Spouse, this is gonna make or break our friendship. Till this day, I still think it was a valid point. Just think about the secondary school camps, especially the ones which involve some sort of codependence in the wilderness. Anyway, we seemed to be the only ones lugging 2 big backpacks on the bus. Everyone else was dressed not for trekking. I guess they were heading to Milford Sounds.

We stopped by a few stops here and there. I think the first stop was at Glenorchy, where we decided to have a decent breakfast before we bid farewell to civillization for the next couple of days. And shared a 1 cent per ml juice pack. So so precious haha. Then we stopped by Mirror Lakes, which we were not particularly awed by that day cos the waters wasn’t really still for a good reflection of the mountain. And I remember we were freezinggggg that day. And we ended up putting on extra layers on the bus hahahaha.

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After 4.5hrs later, we reached our destination. I didn’t take any photos but basically it just looked like a normal entrance of any nature reserve in Singapore. Our very kind looking bus driver sent us off with well wishes and promises that we would enjoy ourselves, and that the views were amazing. He wasn’t wrong!

We started our journey from The Divide, which was the less taken direction for the track. I can’t recall which slopes will be steeper/less steep but basically the direction we took was easier. And the views were supposed to be better. Many thanks to my friends who did extensive research on the track beforehand. So we went on our way with much trepidation up the forested path. I guess it was some kind of comfort seeing other people going solo. Without a stick. Unlike us haha.

The start was like deja vu cos it reminded me of Roy’s Peak. But it was slightly better cos it was a forested area. We decided to give Key Summit a miss (which thinking back is kinda a pity) cos we were afraid that it’ll be too late by the time we reached our hut. It was a challenge for my coronary arteries but we made it to our first checkpoint at Lake Howden.

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After a short break it was time to move on. The first glimpse of a mountain range close up while walking got me squealing like a mad woman.

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We ended up back in the forested area and the next big stop was supposed to be Earland Falls. Oh and we were conscientiously keeping track of time hahaha. And glad to say, we were always on time. Along the way we could hear waters rushing down and we kept wondering if we were approaching the legendary Earland Falls.

Every time it turns out to be a ok-ish fall, we’ll be thinking if we have missed/ are looking at Earland Falls. I mean, they were pretty, but now that I know what Earland Falls is, it’s like nothing can ever compare. My camera wasn’t able to contain the entire Earland Falls in one shot. Neither of us could contain our gasps when we first saw it either.

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It felt like we could stay there forever. But of course we can’t. Can’t really recall if there were any great pit stops anymore for the first day. The terrain definitely got better though.

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Through the shrubs and the trees, we found our destination for the day. Lake Mackenzie hut. 🙂 We were on time based on our schedule, but by then the hut was pretty packed. There were no more double decked beds. Managed to chope a nice corner with our sleeping bags and we went off to cook dinner.

Hahaha we were noobs at this. Some people were whipping up a feast with fresh vegetables. Ours were… dried preserved food. Just boil water and throw it in and you’re done. I think this was beef stew? It fills you up quickly, but you also feel empty really quickly after. I’m glad Spouse and I have similar eating ethics. We function on the same principles – minimizing the cleaning later. She is even more extreme than me. I used 1 extra spoon.

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So being very typical Singaporeans, we chop chop finished everything relatively fast. We even planned how to expedite the whole washing up and brushing teeth after dinner, once the hut talk and checking of tickets is done. So we waited, and waited, and waited. Much to our annoyance, the hut talk started much later than expected.

The hut talk was surprisingly good though! The ranger giving the talk was super engaging and we were super impressed by his talk. It was really educational to learn about the Moars, the Haast eagles, how the pests came about, how the eco life is diminishing through the years. No regrets listening to the talk. Only small regret is not taking in the night sky at Mackenzie Lake. Who knew we wouldn’t be able to catch a starlit sky after that day.

Here’s how our hut looked like in the morning. The lake can soar to great heights, even up to the hut! Thankfully, that wasn’t the case during our trip. We were blessed with very very good weather for all 3 days.

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According to the ranger talk, if you stand at a particular point in the hut and you can see the tip of the mountains clearly, there is a chance of rain. If you can’t see it, it will rain. Basically the point to take away was to be prepared for rain at all times. As you can see, we were lucky to set off with “a chance of rain”.

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We left Lake Mackenzie behind and as what a fellow traveller had predicted, the path ahead was tough. Apparently there was a famed Split Rock nearby but being kiasu Singaporeans, we opted to just do the main track cos the second day is supposed to be more tiring and it seemed wiser to conserve our energy for the day. The French couple who had set off later than us soon overtook us. We took quite a lot of breaks on the way up and tried our best to listen to the fauna.

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It was tough but we made it! So this was what it feels like to look at mountain ranges at eye level. It was an amazing feeling. I remember marvelling at how this would have been an Instagram hotspot and crowded with people if it was easily accessible. Thankfully, it was not haha. It was an incredulous view.

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That was the cliff walk I was worried about. Here’s a small friend for scale. It wasn’t that bad! I guess Caucasians are bigger so the walk looked really small and narrow. But it is definitely meant to be a one-way only thing.

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This was how being above the tree line was like. Bewildering. And scorching. After what felt like forever and more upslopes, we reached the next checkpoint! Harris Saddle. That is also the point where 2 national parks meet. I would have taken a photo… to show that I was at 2 places at 1 point in time. But I was drained and burnt already. The funny thing about being up there is that you can be so heated up at one point, and a few minutes after cooling off in the shade you start feeling cold. Lunch was bread and peanut butter/jam as usual. Weird how you don’t really need to have variety in terms of food when you are out there.

While resting there, I made some small talk with some Canadians who came from the other end. There was some language barrier but I learnt from one of them that there were beautiful views beyond Harris Saddle. I remember thinking, ok sure, what can be up here other than the mountain ranges? I have been seeing brown grass, stoned tracks for the past hour or so. When we moved on, we saw a couple of puddles and it’s like woah nice, there’s water. Then suddenly there was this huge basin of water shimmering under the sunlight! Like woah, that escalated quickly! And that is how I found my favourite lake – Lake Harris. 🙂

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The road ahead was generally ok. It was like ok for a while with the well laid out steps, but sometimes there will be big rocks here to climb down. Thankfully the aim was to walk down. Watching other people climb up the rocks was no joke.

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Here’s one small human and one big rock. I quite like this part too heh. How on earth did these big rocks come about? Did they tumble down from somewhere?

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After that was a bunch of big rocks and big steps and cowardice so I didn’t capture anything on my phone haha. I didn’t even really take the time to admire what surrounded Routeburn Falls hut. But in any case, we got there super duper early hahaha. But that also meant that we got to choose our bunk! And all the beds at that hut were double decker beds. We demolished another pack of dried veg/rice before stationing ourselves at the lower decks of the bunk beds while watching Running Man. I guess unintentionally that led to no one occupying the upper decks, so we had all 4 beds to ourselves!

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By night time we demolished the tomyam maggie which tasted heavenly. One of the most memorable moments was the HTHT at the ?balcony of the hut. We were scouring for stars and trying to keep ourselves warm with the heat packs and water bottles with hot water and listening to Spouse’s unknown but nice mellow playlist. We both agreed that it felt alright if the trip was to end right after Routeburn. It felt complete. Then we moved on to talk about other things in life, which is always nice. How strange that we could open up to each other easily but there’s no real need for a promise to keep all those conversations to ourselves. That day was the most draining but most rewarding day up at Routeburn track. 🙂

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Come daybreak and it was time to finish up the track! We knew we could take our time today. The remaining track was downhill and we just have to reach the bus stop by 2pm.

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We decided to do the side tracks that day since we had so much time. And on the way down, we bumped into our Canadian friends (who hitched a ride from us previously at Roy’s Peak). Small world haha.

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This part of the track was lovely. If you are looking for a day hike, it’s wise to hike from the other side to reach this part.

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Going further, we reached this place which I cannot recall the name, where the waters were a pretty azure blue. It’s like Haast Pass water but more steady and less hyped up about. So you secretly feel happy that you found this place that no one really talks about haha.

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The waters were perishingly cold but there were still some young chaps jumping into it. Must feel good, now that I am feeling the heatwave in Singapore.

There was a moment of panic (for me) that we might still have a long long way to go till the bus stop so I suddenly started walking much faster hahaha. My FOMB (fear of missing bus) is unbeatable.

We managed to reach the bus stop in time of course. Managed to snap some pictures at eh end of the track as well. The bus driver had to go around looking for the passengers though. I was expecting a big tourist coach like the one we had taken to the start of the track. But nope, this time round it was a mini bus with a handful of passengers.

It felt weird walking on flat ground and being on a vehicle for a while. Air con never felt better. One of the pit stops on the way back was Glenorchy. So we got to enjoy some junk food while enjoying the views there. But seriously, it has gotten to my point where my eyes cannot bring itself to ooh and ahh anymore hahaha. I seemed so discriminatory of the other views now that I have seen the best of Routeburn. We did not realise this at that point in that, but we were already enjoying the Glenorchy Scenic Drive.

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I had to reward myself with the famous Ferg burger. It’s so so so good. How can a burger be so beautiful!! In the meantime, the duo also managed to reunite with the uno. 🙂

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That marked the end of 3D2N on Routeburn Track. Girl power!!! And amazing Ferg burger to reward myself. I think I will continue writing about the trip another day haha.

Why so glum, chum?

I remember back in M3, I picked up the concept of Happiness Index from some new found friends. If you could rate how happy you are for the day, what number will it be? 1 being the most unhappy, 10 being the happiest. A couple of my friends rated their daily life easily as an 8 or 9. I rated mine as 7, after some contemplation. For a moment it kinda baffled me why they are basally ‘high’. Is there something that excites them on a day to day basis? Because from the looks of my days – breakfast on the go, 1 hr MRT rides x 2, cramming for exams, 7 sounded optimistic. An inspiring tutorial may push it to an 8. In fact, I think if I was doing all that alone, I may not even be a 7. I accepted that I’m basally not as happy as others, and moved on with life.

Sometimes that index drops a little at different points in time. Then many points make a line, so you achieve a new basal state. So I think it has been maybe a 6? 6 for the first month at work aka new lifestyle. Some bumps which left scars but still something I can bounce back from. Then it went back to 7 for the second month. Then last week it felt like it went way down to a 4. It’s like a red zone in the meter of a spaceship that screams ‘self destruct/ self eject (from the hot seat)’. I was dying to detach myself from my life for a while.

The crash was not entirely a result of work. There was one substantial blow from my personal life, then small accumulated events from work slowly wore down whatever was left of that mojo. I was tired and I didn’t have that much gusto to fight those negative feelings. I don’t have the option to switch off from life as and when I want, so as the spaceship gets destroyed, the next instinct is to contain that as much as possible. And parts of the spaceship explodes silently in space, occasionally when people around breathes in some form of air into this space, the explosion generates noise and unfortunately the destruction escapes and hits whoever is closest or in frequent orbit.

There are 2 things I hate when I get upset.

  1. The fact that I am upset. I hate how I let myself get upset. For some strange reason I think that it is absolutely possible to be unaffected by certain events and that I have the power to not react if I don’t want to. I freaking can’t, but always think I can. Especially when I allow the feelings to be expressed, I hate it even more. Exactly the reason why I hate it when I cry. Probably also the reason why sometimes I watch sad shows to enable myself to feel sad in a controlled manner.
  2. Letting the unpleasant feelings affect the way I handle things/ treat people. The act doesn’t bother you at that moment, it’s the guilt after the act that gets you. I think everyone knows how this works.

Thankfully, I had a leave coming up while the destruction was reaching the peak. It was my ticket to self eject from the spaceship that was in shambles. To recharge, rearrange, recycle what’s left. No doubt there’s still some simmering unhappiness underneath it all, but time can let it lose its steam and eventually all will equalize at the end. Also, thankfully, the body is still able to produce some serotonin. So really, now things are ok. My Happiness Index now stands at 5.5. It’s not completely back at the new basal index, thanks to the leftover guilt for treating people badly and also the dread of going back to work the day after. But I guess an uptrend is some form of comfort by itself.

Befitting

Today marks the end of working 8 days straight with 2 calls flanked in between after a 2-day leave. It was tiring… but still somewhat fulfilling. I guess the 2nd call made it better. After a disappointing first call this month, I got to sleep eat bathe for the 2nd call. Plus the MOs were super nice. Plus I picked up a NSTEMI and helped to manage a seizure on call. It was cool.

Not really great in a way cos right after managing that seizure on call, my own patient became super unwell and fitted too. Nonetheless, it’s an experience we all need. Let’s hope he makes it this time too. Also should read up about loading AEDs and stuff.


Trippy song for the weekend.

The day when you decide to zen out and detach yourself from your usual life (I took leave of course).