Monday, 30 May 2011

Rambo Cambo

Here is a really quick summary of Cambodia in video form... you can still read further down below my actual written post:

Monday, 23 May 2011

the life of a travelling student in websites

So as this experience is coming to an end I doubt it could change so much in the next 2 and a half weeks. I thought I'd paint a picture of what my life has been about by listing alphabetically the most viewed websites. By that I mean if I type in just one letter what website is Google Chrome going to guess I want to go to.

A -
B -
C -
D -
E -
F -
G -
H -
I -
J -
K -
L -
M -
N -
O - (any random popup link from watching pirate websites)
Q - the only letter without an association
R - (any random popup link from watching pirate websites)
S -
T -
U -
V -
W -
X - (any random popup link from watching pirate websites)
Y -
Z -

I reckon from this you could write my life as a fictional story and still be quite true to form. The internet... what a marvelous thing eh?

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Sunday 22nd May 2011

so jokes today. So I realised last night that my student visa was to expire today and that I needed to leave the country and come back with a visit stamp.. so then today we went to JB to do just that. I told them I had lost my card so that they wouldn't take it in from me, then they were all like "ok we have to refer you" and then I was like "Oh wow, here it is" and so then they were like "ok stay here whilst we cancel the referal" and then finally they let me go.... yayyy JB! that was easy and fun and a couple hours and we're due to return. So on the return we fill in the white card (as departure lady instructed because our cards were expired) then arrival lady was like "dude, where's your card?" and I was like "here, but I don't need to show you that because I've got this white card" and she said that was exactly the problem - that I had filled in the white card when I departed as a temporary citizen on the student card... and I was like "well then pretend I haven't handed you the white card" and she clearly said  "no." so I said "well all my friends have done the same, so...." so Ede, Edem and I all get taken up to this room with 4 visible cameras and 2 security doors on the 8th floor and they question us.. blah blah blah they eventually let us go, then we went to the biggest Horseracing event in the calendar (even the President was there) but I didn't bet cos I could just hear mum reading me scriptures and praying for my soul, but my friend betted and I was gonna bet on his horse with him and in the end he won $73 so I could've won $73 if it weren't for mum.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

VietnamJUMP 2011 4th Entry

So it all worked out in the end albeit it that the extra costs and additional stress sort of railroaded all my other plans. So no Hong Kong for me this time around.
Scratch that.
That was a premature blog post.
VietnamJUMP didn't happen for me.
Life is such.
And no, Hong Kong didn't happen either but, I will be doing Cambodia- with friends and that is all that matters.

So fourth and final entry.

Sometimes things don't work out how you planned but the intentions are still appreciated.
You just have to pick yourself up, and move on. Everything can be an adventure if you want it to be.

Monday, 9 May 2011

VietnamJUMP 2011 3rd Entry

So as I speak, the team are embarking on a 6 hour journey from Ho Chi Minh City to the highlands of Dak Nong. I was was supposed to be on that coach. I was also supposed to be on the flight that would get them to Vietnam but my indecision messed everything up for me. I didn't want to commit to anything until I knew exactly what my entire holiday was going to look like and in the end I ordered my visa too late that it didnt arrive in time for my flight.

I did call to speed up the process and offered to pay the extra to make the 'normal' service an 'urgent' service, but the lady told me that my letter had already been sent. That wasn't the case and so I guess on both sides there was a bit of failure. The lesson is that I shouldn't have delayed because the only thing I'm in control of is the time I do stuff, and I should have left enough time for miscommunication to take place, or for general failures by the company.

I was told by so many people that it takes a matter of hours, but I shouldn't have risked it. Just so you know. People will tell you that the visa approval letter takes at the very most 2 days, I would say to be certain, the latest you should order is 1 week. No later than that unless you are doing a spontaneous trip. Also, go through the embassy not a company, because then you'll have someone of actual responsibility to be held accountable.

All this being said, everyone I know going to Vietnam this summer has encountered some problems either missing their flight or visa issues or something along those lines. Literally everyone, so maybe it's not our fault, maybe fate doesn't want us to go or something. I don't feel bad cos at least my problem was bureaucratic, some people just woke up late for their flight!

p.s. just realised I don't know exactly where the school is that we're teaching at, I couldn't jump in a taxi or bus and ask to be taken anywhere, cos I don't know a definitive address. So I guess this is the third and final entry for VietnamJUMP 2011, unless I get a miracle phone call from someone. :(

GE: Singaporean History

You might not know what 'GE' stands for. In Singapore it doesn't stand for General Electric. It stands for General Election.. a fun time in the Singaporean calendar. I reckon it's had more discussion than all cultural festivals put together.

I was more than lucky to be in Singapore as a Politics student at a time, when politics couldn't be more important. And was even better was that most criticism of the ruling PAP was concerning the prison break of a crippled Indonesian terrorist - which I was actually here for back in 2008. I've just been very lucky when I've come to Singapore that big things happen.

But anyways, the election. Why am I writing about it? well because, the ruling party lost a Group Representation Constituency. And why is this important? Well cos that's 6 seats, gone just like that. The PAP still got 81 of 87 seats, which is clearly a landslide but never in the history of Singapore has the ruling party lost more than 4 seats (that happened in the 80s and is still spoken of as glory days for Singaporean politics). And on top of that nationally they had their worst percentage share since independence.

The PAP said that it is a clear sign that they need to listen to youth voters.. and well, yeh, this is true.  They should have known this before the election really. I mean I've only been here 4 months or so and even I realised that the students and young people in Singapore aren't as impressed with the ruling party as their parents and grandparents - probably because they've been born after the struggle, and are just experiencing the benfits as the status quo - but either way their mindset is different and if you just look at the reception that opposition leaders got at the Singapore Forum on Politics, it was clear that there would be some sort of swing to the opposition.

Makes me think though, I know Singapore is a small state, but the youth vote and opinions of younger people in this country could really make a difference to the ruling party's approach to state-society relations. Only last winter, in the UK, we had several marches and protests against policies that would worsen the lives of students (and indirectly, their families) in order to appease some bankers who gambled the country's money away. We failed to even make an impression on the party who claimed to stand for us. Is there any type of protest vote in the UK that will make the coalition sit up and take note?

Thursday, 5 May 2011


if the word AlumNUS is copyrighted please don't sue me.

So I'm now an alumnus of the National University of Singapore and it's such a humbling feeling. I feel like part of a family, not just the family that is PGP Exchange Students 2011, but the general NUS family. Actually, I lie. I just really like the idea of having more privileges than a normal undergrad. I think that's why I'm so eager to be a Manchester alumnus too.. just so I can feel more special than the majority. I'm weirdly egotistical like that.

So anyways, we were all first told that we were now Alumnus at the Farwell Party. We recieved a little NUS Passport Holder a bag some other stuff, and then they sent our Alumnus card in the post. So now I've got that! But I decided that I won't consider myself as an alumnus until my final exam. That came yesterday! The exam itself probably didn't go too well, but to heck with it!

Anyways I'm just happy I've done this now. I've met some great people from all over the place USA, Canada, the Basque Country, South Korea, the Maldives, Iran, Turkey. It's been great and I'm really grateful to the Univeristy of Manchester for providing the opportunity and to my friends who helped me write my application in Grosvenor Place GC Kitchen last year! If you have the opportunity, take it. I'm about to embark on 3 weeks travelling... the most fulfilling year of my life in my opinion. :D

Wednesday, 4 May 2011


Ok so exams here are no different here than they are back in Manchester expect that the students sitting the exams are probabaly tonnes more prepared. They work like the intersect.. for those who don't understand I will kindly ask you to watch the American TV show Chuck.  It's a good show, part of my regular watching list.

But anyways yes. The Singaporean student has this crazy ability to store more information than a camel holds water. Then they spurt it all out as if it were their own opinion, although if you know better and you read the same stuff as them you'd realise that word for word they're reciting someone else's work. I noticed that long ago.  And yes I am a bit jealous of the skill. But anyways this all means that come exams there's a thundercloud of knowledge waiting to storm down on that page and storm down they do!!! 

You know when you're in an exam room and you're sitting your exam (GCSE, A-level, 1st/2nd/3rd year uni) happily trying to recall what it is you were reading between thrashing your best mate at FIFA 11 or whilst you were on the phone making plans for the long summer ahead, and then someone puts their hand up for a second answer book but you've only reached page 3 of 10? You know the sense of confusion (what could you possibly have written?), envy, (why haven't I written the same amount?) and anger (you do realise you writing that much makes me look even worse for having not written that much? - because when you're in exam mode quantity and not quality always seems to matter) you get? Yeh, take that and imagine that it isn't just the one or two teachers pets that are doing it but everyone. Enough to make it the status quo. Yeh, that's examining in Singapore, meanwhile you just got a little giddy cos you've turned the page to write your conclusion... woooo page 4 of 10 FTW!!! 

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Osama bin Laden is dead.

Ok so I don't know how much this really has to do with the study abroad experience and I know for certain anyone following this, with the intention of coming out to Singapore (or anywhere else in this part of the world) next year, won't have this experience. Today I suddenly felt much closer to the world than I have the past four months of being in Singapore (maybe because every time I travel and go without internet something happens). But yeh so Monday morning in Singapore my facebook newsfeed is alight with news of Osama bin Laden being dead. In fact the post that made me look into this was my Manchester course-mate's status: OSAMA! HE DEAD!

First question: why are so many people awake at this time in the UK?
Second question: has BBC confirmed this yet?

I'll never get an answer to the 1st but the second was affirmative. So damn... it's true. I always thought he was dead ages ago but they just didn't know where. I stick by that - just because I can.

But that just leaves for debate on what this means for our agenda in Afghanistan y'kno. Because although terrorism is a "new" threat and is actually quite non-hierarchical and sporadic, there was always the sense that it was personified in  OBL and that there was kinda a 'kill the Queen Bee, take the hive' sort of mentality to the whole operation. Now he's dead, there's not only a power vacuum for Al-Qaeda but there's also a villain vacuum for  the Western nations (and their associates- here in Singapore terrorism is an official threat).

Where do we go from here? Will we see the rise (through Al-Qaeda or any other terrorist organisation) a new super villain? Can anyone match 20 years committed by OBL to "the cause"? Will Islamic fundamentalism maintain an active branch? None of us know how far Islamic terrorist were following the cause or the man... we won't really know whether most will chicken out at the idea of the Queen Bee being dead. And many countries have shaped their domestic and foreign policies to protect against such terrorism, if not for themselves (because they'll never be a genuine target for terrorists) then for bigger states like America with whom they hold strong alliance and upon whom they rely, economically. It just seems that if OBL's death shakes Al-Qaeda foundations enough to create major cracks and weaken it significantly, then the civil liberties that have been taken away from us in so many countries should be restored. This of course will never happen, but it should. (Of course if he's been dead for ages like I suggest then this is all bull because clearly Al-Qaeda can survive without their gaffer). And in the foreign policy aspect, I read and learn all the time about how the West withdrew from so many regions and countries when the Cold War ended and it seemed the Commies were no longer a threat. The US has imposed itself in a lot of places in the name of the WoT. I expect now they will withdraw (not immediately mind you), and this will rock the boat in many countries.

And what for my poor Muammar Gaddafi who claimed so fervently that Al-Qaeda were infiltrating his people and drugging them up. No doubt with OBL dead, the possibility of Al-Qaeda downsizing and all the agents heading back to Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan for the memorial service, Gaddafi can now sleep soundly in the knowledge that it's definitely only real Libyans now, who are fighting against him... oh with a little help from our friends NATO (No Average Terrorist Organisation)