Returning to the legendary school on its 100 year birthday, Chung Ling High School saw droves of loyal pupils come to pay homage to their alma mater.
There was copious food and drink and merriment and entertainment, as is Chinese tradition.
The centennial celebration of this historic school continues for months, with sports events and lavish gatherings prepared.
A city of rain, sweat and mosquitoes.
A city of beggars, chain smokers and corrupt cops.
A city without rules, without laws, without the watchful eye of Big Brother.
It was here that I found my paradise.
It may sound trite and typical.
It may sound like pure madness.
But it smells glorious.
And I’ll have you know that I chose this place. I chose to be in this place.
I could have lived elsewhere, an alternative with a higher standard of living and social security and laws and systems and decent, civilised people.
But I chose to be where I am now.
Why, you ask?
Because I wanted to test myself.
I wanted to see where my limits were, whether I could survive in a harsher environment, a place outside my comfort zone (well, not too far, but far enough).
I wanted to challenge myself. Mentally and physically.
I figured I might as well do it while I can, rough it out, see the world in all its raw, unhinged glory.
Run while my legs work, fight while I still have the strength.
Not just sit pretty and eke out a living in a cyclical, sterile environment; a melting pot of boredom and small talk.
I’d rather mingle in the dust and disease now while my body has some chance of making it out alive.
Ew, the water there is unclean, and there’s sickness in the air, and it’s so hot and humid, and the working hours are so long.
What’s the point of continuously trying to preserve and extend my life if I’m only going to get to the end of it regretting all the cool things I missed out on?
Sure, I’d like to live a reasonably long life that will allow me to experience a large spectrum of what this brief existence has to offer. But what if I don’t make it that far?
Safety and stability are for when I’m old and limited by my mortal body. Some measure of that is, of course, necessary to maintain some figment of sanity.
However, I feel society places a little too much emphasis on this, most likely in a way to keep feeding the machine that drives the big economic tractor that bulldozes its way across the barren wastelands of profit and loss.
I feel society often has good intentions, but tends to get caught up in routine and ritual.
We’ve always done it this way, so let’s just keep doing it that way and not think about it!
I don’t feel safe watching you do that, stop upsetting me!
But enough about society.
Society has its way of doing and thinking things, and I understand that.
With law and order comes control and punishment.
Because humans are crazy and dangerous.
And that’s how I want to live, amidst these crazy and dangerous beings in their natural environment. Not caged up together with the docile pandas in the zoo.
Like happiness, paradise is also a journey as well as a destination. Whether you believe in the afterlife or not, why squander the one you have now?
Go live your own paradise. Create it if you must.
But live your own paradise.
What is the first thing you think of when you read this word?
It’s not typically a nice word, is it? Generally it evokes negative connotations, even if you don’t want to admit it.
Especially not since the whole climate change thing reared its curious head.
Change is something that nudges you out of your routine, out of your comfort zone; into the unfamiliar, into the unknown. I’m not helping, am I?
Why do we shun change? Why do we fear it? Change is but a natural part of life.
In a constantly changing world, how can we go about the illusion that we can maintain the status quo? Maybe it’s our way of defying nature, defying the gods. We dare them to shake us, our everlasting monuments acting as a snub in the face of Hades, Death and Cronos.
Even if you want your world to stay constant in a perfect little bubble, life will change it, life must go on. In a swirling vortex of time and gravity and computer updates, something will come along and throw your precarious little equilibrium to the wind, to the storm.
You can deny it and resist it all you want, but at some point in your life you’re going to think to yourself: “Hey, something’s changed.”
Maybe your vision has gone a little blurry, or your memory isn’t quite what it used to be. Your belly starts to bulge after a single beer. You run out of breath before you even make it to the escalator.
And you can go on lamenting about how life sucks and railing against the gods for all this unwanted change that has been heaped upon you (keep the shillings, mate). And to what end?
But it’s not all bad news. It’s not the end. Not yet.
You have a special power.
You have a choice.
Whether you believe in free will or not, you have a choice. A choice to deny the change that will inevitably come, or to embrace it and make the best of it, or make the change before it makes you.
You can let life change you, or you can go out there and throw as much change in the air as you physically can muster. That might actually make for an interesting marketing campaign.
Change the world, and never stop changing. Look inertia in the face, and say: not today. No more status quo.
Of course there is a time and place for creature comfort and contentment. Change can still be a part of that. You can be content with what you have while still striving for something better. Always be open to the opportunity – to try something new, to mix things up, to stop and smell the roses.
When you’re in your routine, your eyes are closed, your mind is dead. You choose not to see the things that are out there, the possibilities, the risks and rewards. You choose these things because you are afraid. Afraid of failure. Afraid of rejection. Afraid of that creepy kid with the long, oily hair around the corner.
So start small. Change the hand you use to brush your teeth, and the next thing you know you’ll be the first person on Mars.
Change is coming, whether you like it or not.
What’s important is how you deal with it.
Are You Brave Atop Your Bicycle?
The township of Bukit Mertajam has always been a quiet but prosperous hub of activity in the state of Penang. Nestled in the heart of Seberang Prai, at the base of the hill that it gets its name from, this town has brought forth some notable talent into Malaysian culture.
Most notable is Datuk Lee Chong Wei, our national badminton champion with three Olympic medals under his belt (or above it, I suppose). He currently calls the town of Bukit Mertajam his home, with his wife and child.
A handful of top politicians also have their roots in the humble township of Bukit Mertajam, namely Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
Sports is clearly in the blood of the residents of Bukit Mertajam, as there continues to pour forth athletes in a wide range of disciplines, from running to swimming to cycling.
The cyclists of Bukit Mertajam have long been known to be brave and fierce, but there has always been a void in this community of cyclists, a need to unite these two-wheeled warriors.
That all changed on the 27th of May in 2011, when a group of the wisest and strongest riders got together and decided to form the Bukit Mertajam Bicycle Club (BMBC for short).
The original club was championed by the great Ooi Kim Ann. He started the club with 12 committee members, who rallied to his side. Under the supervision of Mr. Ooi and his charismatic deputy Lim Kean Hock, their club ranks grew rapidly from an initial 26 cyclists to multiple times the size.
By 2014, the club had grown to a staggering number of 181 cyclists. And it was in this year that the leadership of the BM Bicycle Club was handed over to the masterful Lim Kean Hock.
Under the new leadership, the club continued to go from strength to strength, establishing itself as a force to be recognised in Bukit Mertajam and the surrounding regions of Penang.
In April of 2014, BM Bicycle Club hosted the club’s first major cycling event in Permatang Pauh that attracted over 1,300 people!
Members of the BMBC are some of the most active in the region – they hold weekly cycling excursions around Bukit Mertajam, and many regularly host and participate and major cycling events across Malaysia.
The BM Bicycle Club always has and continues to promote cycling and tourism in Penang state and across Malaysia. The club has rides every Sunday, and all are welcome to join!
BM Bicycle Club also offers marshalling and support services for bicycle-related events and activities. The club has been organising a charity cycling event every year towards the end of the year in order to promote cycling and give back to the community.
The BM Bicycle Club also partners with numerous bike shops around Penang. For their latest cycling event, they worked together with over 14 bicycle shops across the Butterworth area in Penang to bring in cyclists from all over the region!
In 2016, the BM Bicycle Club hosted one of their biggest charity cycling events to date, in an effort to bring cyclists together and raise funds for local schools.
The event took place on the 13th of November, a cool Sunday morning. Officiated by none other than YB Puan Chong Eng of the Penang State Assembly, the ride took participants on a leisurely 36 kilometre saunter in a serene early morning showcase of Bukit Mertajam.
The roads were clean and early to maneuver; the inclines were steady and manageable; the water stations were abundant and well spaced out. Signage was sufficient and the marshalls were out in full force to ensure everyone was safe.
Riders of all shapes and sizes came along that morning – boys and girls, from the young and the old, from casual to serious, from sleek road bikes to chunky fat bikes (not the people on the bicycle per se). It was great to see so many cyclists come together to enjoy the great outdoors and cycle in unity and in a civilised manner.
In short, the charity cycling event went very well, with over 1,000 cyclists rocking up to take a fun tour around Bukit Mertajam. And after the ride, the Kompleks Sukan MPSP stadium was filled to the brim with cheerful cyclists and vendors, and amazing displays of art and dance!
The event last year saw all sorts of celebrities make an appearance. Even the elusive Pikachu turned up to see cyclists off at the start! And a certain cat without ears joined in the fun too!
And so with another successful event under their belt, the BM Bicycle Club looks to 2017 with hope and new challenges, to take the club and the cyclists of Penang to new heights! As bicycles become more and more commonplace in Penang, and more areas become accessible to cyclists, the club will only stand to grow and take its place as one of the movers and shakers in the world of cycling sports.
The club president has great ambitions for the club, especially in the upcoming events. Expect new and exciting routes, that not many cyclists have had the pleasure of experiencing! And who knows what role the club and cycling will play in the upcoming Asia Pacific Masters Games in 2018?
There is much in store for the cycling community of Penang and surrounding regions. The BMBC has already established itself in nearby areas, such as Ipoh, and is looking to bring together and unite the riders of Malaysia. The club is also very supportive of new riders and cyclist groups, so if you would like to find out what new events are coming up, or more on how to join in the fun, you can go to http://www.bmbicycleclub.com/