Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Life with Passion

For the past few days, due to this and that at work, I wasn't exactly feeling like I was on top of the world and most of all, I was really questioning my job. As most readers would know, I am a civil engineer working as a lecturer in a public university. I quit from the industry more than 6 years ago and went into teaching, not because of the more flexible hours, nor because of it's 'fantastic' pay. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a noble character but I was really sick of my profession and the industry which if full of people who cannot and are not qualified to be called professionals.

Corruption, bribes, big boys bullying the small. Justice is for those who have more money and power. These are all common stuff. Engineers bowing down to employers, and contractors kiss the feet of engineers and employers, and the story goes on in every project. I am sick of being the only lady in the group of males who expect me to pay for every single meals after meetings just because I work as a contractor. For anything that goes wrong on site, it is never the engineer's fault, their excuses are so ridiculous, and I don't even know how they have the nerve to say it and if these people join the Tai-Chi category in Olympics, the Chinese will have to step aside.

There has to be a better way. This industry is really sick, like terminally ill.

6 years in university and more than 6 years of trying to do my best for these future engineers so that they can be better equipped and hoping that they go out with some integrity if they cannot remember anything else I lecture. Meanwhile, the industry has gone from bad to worse. And what's new?! The industry is just the miniature version of our government. The government probably thinks that we want to change them, but really, all we just want is for them to change the way they do things. But nothing has change. And If I say some more, I will soon be finishing my PhD in the detention camp in Sungai Buloh.

But yeah, back to the story, I was really praying very hard to God, asking him so very hard, what the hell am I doing in a place (which is like another miniature Malaysian government) that does not give me credit and appreciation for all the effort I put in. Is the university where God really wants me to be?

On Tuesday, I attended a course on contract management and I was caught in a jam from the campus all the way to Stutong. Was getting really agitated because I was running late. Then all of sudden, I remember Alvina sending us one of those encouragement email. This IS where God wants me to be. Right in the middle of jam. And I talked to Him for one whole hour, asking again and again the same question. It is indeed a very rare opportunity to have a one hour conversation with Him. At the end of it, I had the necessary peace in my mind and heart to sit in and listen to one of top authority in the area of study in this country.

And God finally answered my question, through firstly the speaker, and then a young man who came to discuss about his future career path. This is what God said,

"Why are you looking for appreciation and acknowledgment in this dirty and unfair place? Can't you see that I want you to love and focus on these young people? Yes, the society is a bad place. But don't complain. If you want it to be good, you have to start making sacrifices. Can't you see how you can affect the direction and thoughts of these young engineers that will be unleashed into society. Out of the 100 graduates each year, if just a handful can be good, the industry will be a better place, the society can improve and it may not be such a bad world after all."

But God, I am nobody. My work is probably not read and my students are probably sleeping half of the time.

"It is not about you. It is about Me making the changes. Appreciation and acknowledgment CAN'T be forced because it is from the heart, not the mouth. As long as you use your heart when you work, that's all you need to do"

So to all the sad people out there who only cares about what advantages they can dig out from another person, who spend so many hours trying to strategize and position themselves to get the best of everything and everyone, who can make differences but do not hestitate spoiling the minds of the young, who want everything yet not willing to give anything, you are sad because you are empty.

Something you really want with all your heart and soul is your passion. Well, now I know what I really want, reminded of what I really want. You can crush my body and spoil my day but you cant disturb my spirit because my God is my Boss and I only have Him to answer to and my belief that my work and my students will some day, one day make a small difference is as strong as ever. My chin is up because my life is filled with Passion! Thank you Lord!

Day 3: Abalone Porridge in Jeju City

There are basically two cities in Jeju, one in the northern part of the island (near the airport) called Jeju City, for lack of a better name, & the other in the southern part called Seogwipo. Obviously the northern part seemed like the better place to stay in as its closer to the airport, & it makes a good base to travel down to the other parts of the island.

But during our 4-day stay at Jeju, we had to put up at Pyeosong Beach (south east coast) because the conference was there. Travelling by taxi from the airport down to the south takes about 50 minutes to an hour (although the guy behind the airport counter will tell you it's 15 minutes). So you can imagine how big this little island actually is.

On our 2nd day in Jeju, we hoped onto the free hotel shuttle to Jeju City. It was a wild ride as the driver accelerated up & dived down the hilly winding roads. When we got to Jeju City, we swore never to take a bus again.

Our intention was to hit the streets of Yeon Dong. The Frommer's Travel Guide foretold of good food there. But in the end, it was just a waste of time cos the street address given was as vague as a Malaysian politician's comment. After completing a full circle, we gave up and hailed a taxi.

The taxi driver turned out to be a woman who couldn't speak a word of English, but was extremely sincere in wanting to help us. All we could muster was the sign language for food (hand in mouth) as we pointed to Jeju City on the map. We hoped that translated into Where food? We go! but it didn't work out as well as we thought.

The taxi driver drove us to her husband instead who actually owned the taxi. Don't ask me why she was the one driving it. Maybe it's got something to do with the iron lunged Jeju women being the breadwinner & all that. My first thought was that she was going to sell us to the Korean underground, but of course that didn't happen.

Anyway, as soon as the hubby got into the taxi with us, he tried Japanese. When that didn't work, he called someone who knew some half-past twelve English (whom we believed to be their son probably working in Seoul), but not enough to know what we wanted. At that point, I felt like getting off & telling them to forget the whole thing. I wouldn't know who else they'd be bringing us to & we really didn't want to involve more people & meet their relatives. We just wanted to be dropped off somewhere where there's food.

Then at the end, out of desperation, we simply pointed to some place on the map that seemed like a good stretch of coastal road which could have food. We stopped at Ramada Hotel for no particular reason other than that it had a recognisable English name which the taxi couple knew as well.

And when we got off what seemed to be the longest taxi ride ever, we saw the abalone porridge place & it was just across the road from Ramada Hotel.

Two things that you'd have to know about Korea. The shops do not have English signboards & the addresses suck.

This was Nee looking very tired. Even so, we were glad to have found this little authentic place.

As usual, the side dishes were compulsory & bottomless.

We noticed that Koreans liked to serve this cold cucumber soup with hot porridge. It has a vinegar-like sour edge to it.

The seafood kimchi soup came with a very generous portion of seafood with four number of abalones on top of other seafood.

Look at the size of the thing.

This was the abalone porridge that we had. It may not look as appetising but it was superbly excellent with slices of abalone fresh somemore.

This was definitely worth the wild goose chase for.

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