Friday, 3 October 2014

Gunung Tahan extract

This is copied from Gunung Tahan.
I will try to write my own version (if I still remember, later).

After a lapse of three years, the seniors of Victoria Scout Group decided to organize another expedition to Gunung Tahan. It was a time to conquer the highest mountain in Peninsular Malaysia once again following a former biennial tradition. It seemed exciting to experience the gruelling journey and to enhance further the name of the troop in the ascent. Yours truly decided to participate in this event after returning to V.I. to continue his studies in Form 6. During the first semester break, twelve scouts from VSG, namely, ASM Leong Kwan Eu , SPL Toh Yung Fei, SPL Yam Wern-Kidd, SPL Lin Han Weng, SPL Mohd Shazli, SS Raja Muazam, SS Alvin Chew, SS Lee Kok Chong, SS Liew Ban Hing, SS Wong Kien Keong, SS Chong Kok Weng and SS Yip Yoke Hwa embarked on an arduous adventure to Gunung Tahan.

On the morning of May 29, we assembled at 8.30 a.m. at the Pekeliling Bus Terminal in high spirits, eager to begin our journey. Our luggage was checked to ensure that all necessary stuff was available. We had prepared enough food to last for ten days just in case it took longer to reach the peak. We brought rice, ikan bilis, peanuts and sambal udang which would be our meals for the next few days. At about 10.00 a.m. the bus arrived and it took us three hours to reach Jerantut. From Jerantut, we had to rush to catch the last bus to Kuala Tembeling. At Kuala Tembeling, we had our lunch and continued our journey by boat. The boat ride journey to Kuala Tahan took about three hours. We could see the beautiful scenery, the sunset and animals such as the seladang and buffalo. Finally at 7.00 p.m. we reached Kuala Tahan and made all the preparations for the journey the next morning. Many of us took the opportunity to phone home before we went to sleep in our tents.

DAY 1 (MAY 30, 1997)
We got up at 6.00 a.m. for breakfast and then prepared our lunch. We then proceeded to the park officer's house to have our belongings checked. Each one of us had to itemize the things he was bringing along to ensure that all the items were brought back down later. Otherwise, a summons would be issued. Plastic bags, batteries, slippers, shoes, bottles and clothing were checked. After getting through the inspection we met our guides.

The journey started at 10.00 a.m. sharp. We had a chat with the two guides and they advised us to be strong mentally and to help each other when necessary. We started off happily with everyone walking steadily through the thick jungle. We passed an orang aslisettlement. The leaves of the big trees blocked most of the sunlight from reaching the jungle trails. Before long some of us started to slow down so we decided to cheer up by singing songs. It proved effective and after three and a half hours we finally reached our first camp, Melantai. The name of this camp aptly described what we were experiencing. We took our lunch consisting of rice, ikan bilissambal udang and peanuts to restore our energy.

We had planned to stop there for the day but we decided to continue after discussions with our two guides. We began to encounter steep hills which were totally unexpected and which we found challenging. The hills seemed never ending - after one hill we were only relieved for a while before the next one loomed. Our earlier vigorous training in cycling, running up and down steep hills helped us tremendously in our ascent. At last, we managed to clear the final hill to complete the hike of the Malang Range which comprised 27 undulating hills and a mountain. Kem Tengah was our second destination as we had decided to stop here. The journey took another three hours before we reached Kem Tengah. There we got our water supply from a water source dripping down slowly from a bamboo strip. We ate our dinner and discussed our plans for the next day. Before we turned in, we joked and chatted with each other.

DAY 2 (MAY 31, 1997)
We had to replenish our water supply before continuing our journey to Kuala Puteh. It was not so exhausting as we had already hiked most of the hills the day before. Gunung Raja was our next destination. To hike there we had to push ourselves and give each other motivation because to ascend a mountain is like hiking over five hills. From Gunung Raja, we could get our first view of Gunung Tahan. After Gunung Raja, the journey was all the way down and it was quite easy. We managed to reach Kuala Puteh in three hours. There we had our lunch and took our baths in the nearby river.

Our next destination was Teku. The challenge was really great because we had to cross the same river seven times. One needs to acquire the skill of crossing rivers. You have to balance yourselves with your heavy bag and step on the right stones and not the slippery ones. The strong currents also did not help much but we managed to overcome these by using a staff each to steady ourselves. Three hours later, Teku finally welcomed us at 5 p.m. Most of our socks and shoes were wet because we had to cross the rivers. We met a few wildlife department officers who were doing a census of the number of elephants around this park. We camped at Teku for the night.

DAY 3 (JUNE 1, 1997)
The next morning we started early at 7 p.m. after having breakfast. The journey was very taxing as we had to climb many steep hills that were steeper than the ones at the Malang Range. Our stamina was severely tested. The journey to Wray's Camp seemed never ending and we had to really push ourselves to our limit. I noticed the types of plants here were different because they had smaller leaves and were much shorter. After four hours of hiking, we finally reached Wray's Camp. It was very inconvenient to get our water supply here as we had to take a 10 minute walk down the hills to a stream. We continued our journey to Pangkin Bawah, an uphill journey again. It was not too difficult by now because our bodies had adapted to the taxing demands. Pangkin Bawah was reached after two hours of hiking. We met a group of students coming down and we asked them about the journey up. They encouraged us and said that the journey up was not so difficult after all. We camped there for the night and looked forward to reach the peak of Gunung Tahan.

DAY 4 (2nd JUNE 1997)
The day we had waited for finally came. We moved to our next destination, Padang Camp. With the thought of reaching the peak in our mind, it took us less than four hours to reach Padang Camp. To do so, we had to climb a 100 metre vertical, grasping our ropes and tree roots to reach the peak of Gedung. This was so far the toughest part; this steep route could be seen from afar and one needs to be very careful while climbing. We enjoyed a bath at a nearby stream which really was very cold and later filled our tummies with the water.

At 1 p.m. sharp we started on the journey to the peak. All of us were in very high spirits. We had to conquer a final mountain, Gunung Berapit, before reaching the peak. On the way to the peak we were suddenly attacked by a swarm of hornets. A few of us got stung. A senior was stung eight times, yours truly once, but we still continued our journey, although in pain. With the peak in mind this minor setback was forgotten. We reached the peak of Gunung Tahan at 4 p.m. after three hours of walking. At last, the summit was right in front of us after four gruelling days. Our tiredness disappeared as we took photographs and enjoyed beautiful view plus the cool breeze. We really felt on top of the world and we will cherish this historic moment all our lives. The sense of pride and the ability to lift the name of the Victoria Scout Group was really rewarding. It was an invaluable and rewarding journey for the great effort and team spirit put in. This expedition marked another milestone in the quest of success for our troop.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Xiaomi mi3 Unboxing

This is the unboxing of the so-hyped mi3 from Xiaomi. With the specs so similar with other flagships of overpriced "mainstream" brands; the pricing of the mi3 is definitely a killer.
I was skeptical of the OS, but seeing the price, why not? At least I wont be paying through the nose for a problematic/frustrating user experience.

Without further a due, the unboxing.

The package arrived way earlier than expected. Definitely a welcome, although the credit is more to Fedex, but kudos for Xiaomi for choosing Fedex as their delivery partner.

The box have sharp edges, which is fairly new for me. Perhaps to make the appearance a little "smarter" or "formal". The cardboard used is sufficiently thick.

A small touch by Xiaomi to protect the contents during delivery. The smaller boxes fit nicely in the bigger box preventing them clashing with each other.

The actual box containing the mi3; with the same sharp edges characteristic. Very "smart" but will end up in the store anyway.

The pin and instruction booklet provided inside the envelope. Space usage/arrangement is definitely commendable for the accessories.

The charging and data cable looks promising. It is quite sturdy. There are also plenty of spaces for the thumb so that cable tugging is unnecessary. I would expect a better lifespan for the cable compared to iphone's.

The specification of the mi3 is shown at the back of the box. As mentioned, it is comparable to other "mainstream" brands flagship models. It is not a top heavyweight contender, but it is definitely not lightweight.

The phone itself also feels sturdy. Nothing plasticky or cheappo feel from it. It also feels light despite me using iphone5 all this while.

The buttons are really limited. Only the volume and power button at the right side. Physical button shortcut will be very limited by this. Perhaps will need to be used to using widgets or shortcuts at the main screen.

The slot for mobile simcard. mi3 accept a full-sized simcard. Xiaomi also provide a converter for micro-sims for easier porting.

I powered the mi3 straight without charging. It has sufficient battery power in it for basic set up. For this test, I only keep pressing "Next" or "Skip".

And there, its alive!!!!

But Wait!!!!!! Iphone5 was using the nano-sim. The converter provided is for micro-sim. Haihs. I went to buy a converter nano-normal sized sim. Luckily, it is working fine.

This is the information provided by the phone. Latest stable ROM is used. Not going to go through all the hassle for problematic developer ROMs, yet. This is definitely one department for me not wasting money on other flagship androids phones. Every update, they will say everything is fixed...every single update, same words, same problematic problems.

I have no idea on how to gauge performances in mobile phones. I only know how to benchmark Computers. Overclocking, Underclocking, playing with the voltage, testing stability and all.
So I just rely on the stock version and AnTutu for benchmarking.

The Higher the better - the figures.

I have no idea on how to interpret the stability result. Is is ok? Is it not ok?
It didnt hang, or have excessive heat during the test. So I guess its ok.

Well built.
Camera....not so promising as it losses out to the Sony Z2, and also Iphone5. Maybe more on this later.
Price is definitely a welcome. I think this is a suitable price for Android devices if compared to Apple devices. Similar spec Android devices are just not worth the price they are asking, period.

I guess I am satisfied with the overall performance from the mi3, apart from the camera.
Given the hardware, a better software can definitely improve the quality.

Battery life is ok. If you use the phone extensively, then of course the battery will drain, within the day, or even half a day.
On idle, it can last longer than the iphone5. Iphone5 on idle can last for days, almost a week. On extensive screen usage, only 3 hours. mi3 on extensive screen usage can last around 6 hours.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Maldives - 1st Nov - 6th Nov

Ah, a belated post again. I am not going to spam Maldives photos in this entry. They are already abundantly available in Facebook. I will still spam them here though, perhaps in a later date.

Actually the trip is sort of like 6 nights 4 days if you minus out the arrival and departure nights.
We spent the 1st night in Male as MAS is taking the odd hours for its flights here. The airasia schedule is a bit more forgiving, maybe. It would have saved spending 1 night in Male. Not that the stay is unwelcome, but its not far from unpleasant. We are guilty of not taking the extra time to explore, though there is nothing much to. I couldn't catch a wink as the hotel we booked is not entirely honest with the reviews and pictures shown at their website. Relatively more expensive too.

The main reason we came - the island resorts are ok though. We chose one of the water bungalows. I see no compromise in this area since we flew all the way here. The brother actually thought of budget hotel, which would have spoil the entire "Maldive experience". The hospitality is not great, which will be highlighted later, or not. Club Rannalhi was our resort, seems matching for budget and expectation wise.
The sea was great, the beach was great, the resort was great. Overall its a satisfying experience coming all the way the the Maldives.

We had a bit of luck running into a school of dolphins when we were island hopping. Normally you would have to take a Dolphin Sighting Excursion of the sort to find them. I am mentioning luck because not only we ran into them, but we ran into a rather entertaining school. They did the somersaults, back spins, front spins, drilling frontal missile spins and other stunts I cant really name. Cant believe they are wild!!
Other than that we also swam with lots n lots of fishes, manta rays, turtles, cicak kubing, human, sharks etc etc. It is still rather exciting for a non-diver.

The other activities we spend our time with is photo taking. The process was rather elaborate, and time consuming - something plentiful when you are in these sort of vacation. The results are not disappointing, so its good.

To wrap things up, just a few sneak preview is forgivable.