Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Siem Reap in a day.

The bus ride from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap started at 11AM. I'm taking Giant Ibis. The reviews has been great and although I heard the journey will be bumpy and the road has an accident prone track record, I still braved myself for it. I am not going to Cambodia without stopping at Siem Reap.

The reviews of Giant Ibis bus service was great and the ride was smooth but unfortunately some services they pride themselves on gave me a bad aftertaste. The first was the lack of WiFi onboard the coach. The second was the available power plugs that was not working. I knew I will only be there for a day and I am not booking any hotel stay there so the power output was important to me. However, I was prepared just in case.

I reach Siem Reap at 6AM. The ride was bumpy but I guess I managed OK anyway. Upon reaching, I scoured for a tuk tuk guide who will get me to my destination and back. Reading reviews from TripAdvisor, I know it should cost me around USD15 for the whole trip. Anything less and I might be conned and anything more I should be ripped.

I found one who spoke relatively good English and his initial offer was already USD15. No need to bargain, I thought. Easy.

The entrance into all the temples along the route is pre-purchased near the Angkor Wat entrance. I got mine at USD20. I read somewhere they are USD25 so I'm not sure what's the actual price. The ticket will get you to every temple in the viccinity but do remember to keep your ticket. Almost every location I passed by would require me to show them. I would figure access should be hard if I lost or threw them away.

I spent a good 5-6 hours along the trail and taking my time soaking everything in. After that, I visited Artisan Angkor, a place where they show us their cultural and traditional products/offerings/handicrafts. I didn't buy anything though. I also visited their war museum to get a closer understanding of the Khmer Rouge war and the country's fight for freedom from tyranny.

On the final hours of the night before my bus leaves at 11PM, I visited the FCC Angkor to participate in the screening of the 10th Angkor Photo Festival. I didn't meet many people but like GTF and Obscura 2014, I was there to learn.

At 11 PM, I took the bus back to Phnom Penh for my rendezvous with my friends.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Bro, you've changed.

Yes, I've succumbed to the iPhone hype and went to get myself an iPhone 6. Hopefully it'll last me for some time. Now before you throw stones at me for being an android traitor, let me just say that this change was never about android vs ios.

It was about Apple vs the rest of the world, Android included.

1. Ecosystem.
The good and bad thing about Apple is their ecosystem. I have a Mac. I want it to work seamlessly with my phone. Prior to the iPhone, I sync my data and backup my stuffs through two mediums, Google and Dropbox. Mainly because they are the ones that support wireless syncing. The good thing about the Mac ecosystem is, everything is designed to run well together. They are not only about the hardware but also the software. This is where fragmented individual developers lose out. Trying to sync Android and Microsoft or Mac is just... compatible, not seamless like Mac.

2. 240FPS.
This was the deal breaker. I wanted the HTC One M8 at first because it was perfect. Such a beautiful design (plus, have you seen the dotcase? WOW) and the M8 also has REFOCUS capabilities on the rear camera. It was the perfect phone IMHO. Then iPhone 6 came out and they didn't have REFOCUS. I thought this was perfect cause I didn't have to think twice. Then I saw the 240FPS ability on the iPhone6. Needless to say, I didn't turn back since then. (the HTC One M8 also has the 120FPS slow-motion video but it just isn't the same as 240. Trust me, I've seen it.)

3. Storage / iPod.
Now when I heard about the 128GB iPhone6, I was thinking it will be an overkill for me. So, I wanted the 64GB. However, upon calculation the 128GB is a lot of extra storage for a little bit of an add on. The thing that finally turned me on the 128GB was the fact that it can and will be an iPod long after it has passed its expiry date. I know after a couple of years I might be getting a new phone and truthfully, I might not fill this 128GB within a couple of years, but the fact that Apple has a large plethora of docks make this thing a perfect iPod.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

I'm tired.

I'm tired of saving money for my trip to Santorini and Cappadocia. It is definitely something I want to do but I didn't know saving could be so hard. All those little things you do really add up. And my weekly / bi-weekly trips to Kuala Lumpur is not helping either. I don't mind staying in hotels and I really would prefer it that way but having to travel and reside in KL every single week for the past few months has really taken a toll on my finances. I thank god for good friends and relatives who let me bunk at their place.

I still splurge sometimes but the bulk of my expenses has gone to travelling expenses TO and FRO Kuala Lumpur. I wouldn't mind spending if I'm travelling for leisure but I guess I shouldn't mind paying for making sure I'm ALIVE too.

I'm lucky work has been kind to me these past few months. I've got a couple more shoots end of the year and middle of next year but things will be hectic next month with three events and a vacation to Phnom Penh looming during the last weeks of November and early December. I hope I'll make it to all. I have no backups planned but I'm determined to make it happen!

Also, next few weeks I will be looking at the face of my first niece. Can't wait for your smile :)

p/s: Expect my instagram feed to be filled with her pics at least once a week.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Fault In Our Stars

I just finished reading 'The Fault In Our Stars'. It was funny and heartbreaking. 

While I was reading it, someone commented that it was too Korean drama-ish. To some maybe. 

But it resonated with me. I could empathize and resonate with so much that was happening in the book. In some ways I could feel Hazel's anger and disappointment in the world. Her views on life and death. But in so many other ways I could also feel Augustus' desire and need to leave a mark in this world. The last months of his life where hope turns to anger and then to shame and disappointment. I wrote something in preparation of my last few days as did he. The difference is, I could take mine back and rewrite it now, he couldn't. 

Everything in it felt real to me, you would know if you've walked out being different. Not a good different, as Hazel would put it, a side effect of dying different. 

The love part is charming but it only serves to make the story interesting. Everybody wants a good story, if it wasn't because of love, the book would just be about two kids dying of cancer and a blind friend. 

If you feel remotely distant towards it, I can only tell you that you've not walked in a shoe where you know your days might be limited. 

Now I'm going to watch the movie. 

P/S: I could only imagine Shailene Woodley as Hazel Grace. I hope she'll nail it in the movie.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Secret Garden.

Create your own secret garden - Maggie Steiber.

She talks about her projects and how in her life she has different personalities. One for each of her side. In conversations with her, she talks about the need for everyone to create a secret garden for themselves. A place where they can be themselves without judgment, without prejudice, without fear. A place where they can create whatever they want without holding back.

I never thought of that. I am always open about who I am and what I do. I've always thought that every part of me either good or bad is like an open book. I'm not a very dark person. I usually focus on the positive. I do get depressed sometimes but I always find a way to find something good at the end of the day. Being moody or dark is not something that clings to the core of my soul.

If I want to do it, I am usually not ashamed to admit it. I might be shy if people find out about it but I'm never afraid to admit it. People make mistakes and if your friends judge you harshly for it, maybe they shouldn't be your friends in the first place. The people that matter won't mind and the people that do mind won't matter right?

However, her talk has got me thinking... maybe there are certain aspects of my life I should keep hidden. I don't want to be happy all the time. I want to lash out, to be wild, to deliberately make mistakes, to persecute, to accuse, to judge and mainly to just be everything I try not to be. But HIDDEN. Maybe I should do that.

Then maybe I can find another side of me. The one where I didn't know existed. The one where I hid for so long I didn't know I could even be that person. Maybe it'll change the way I look at things again.

Friday, August 15, 2014

being diagnosed is scary

Some words cut you. Some words stay with you. This did both.

I was in the hospital for my monthly routine checkup. It was as usual like the month before, I am actually quite upbeat about it. Then the doctors call me in. They took some time accessing my database and looking at my results. Then they begun telling me that some of my enzymes are high. They ask me whether I have a fever or any infection lately.

I wanted to tell them YES. I did have a cough or a fever or something small. I was so sure it was something small I wanted to lie to make it real. But I muttered a 'NO'. They then said this could be a sign of rejection. It was mild but still noticeable. Then they continued telling me that this happens averagely three times a year to some. After 6 months, this could be my first episode. They said it's common.

For them, they've seen everything. From life threatening to life saving to even miracles. I didn't. I just wanted to stay in my safe bubble. Especially after all that I had gone through I didn't want everything to happen again. It was as if I was screaming for something else. Something different. Something normal.

They told me they'd do some tests and maybe a liver biopsy. I've heard about biopsies. They're crazy painful. At least to some. (I've since then concluded that it was a mild pinch compared to some other shit I've gotten into). 

Funny how fragile I am. When faced with the realities of something mortal I cower. The truth is I need to feel invincible. I need to believe I can take on the world again. I need to know that whatever comes I can face it with the strength of a warrior. The prospect of dying should be far from my ideals now. I'm still 30 (OK, 31). 

If you don't understand how I feel, it's like the doctors saying 'you need to sit down' while they break the news to you. As soon as you hear the words 'maybe you should sit'. You're fucked. It's like them whispering softly to you that they detected a tumour in your body and they need to test that tumour. The prospect of you being dead is beginning to feel real at this time. For the next few weeks, you will question your life and your ideals. You will be mortal and everything else will be normal. People still do their thing, go around their stuffs. You feel like everything should stop, if not for an hour then at least for a minute. 

p/s: I'm much better now thanks to the steroids I'm taking to control the rejection. I think I'm not dying soon but I think back and find it funny how men especially ignore to get checked for critical conditions because they're afraid. Being certain you will be dead is kind of better compared to not knowing whether you'll live.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

#100happydays & #100blessings

I've begun a new project and this time I plan to see it completed. It's just a list of things I would like to say thanks for. I'm compiling the images and hoping to make a photobook. It will be very raw and very personal. My thoughts, my ideas, my life, everything that I'm grateful for should be in there.

I have only started my first two posts. I'm excited but worried at the same time. I worry how I will stop giving thanks or stop knowing what to say. I worry that if things get bad real fast, I might lose the will. Hopefully, this project will remind me why everyone should be thankful and feel blessed. Being alive alone is such a blessing.

It will be in my instagram. If you follow my instagram. :) @jimmyang_chiewchuan

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Perspectives after...

A lot of people think that my perspectives have changed after my life threatening experience. It has but not in anyway imagined. It's kind of amazing that I get so many misconceptions about my way of thinking now.

People think that after a life threatening experience, we stop to take things slower, enjoy the moments better and be more careful in everything you do. In some ways that is true but in so many ways that is also wrong.

Let me just say what's important to me now.

I want to work harder. Not because of the money but because I can and because I want to. I do my job because I love the people and I do my photography because I love the job. It's different but both so important to me. I'm also thinking of teaching again. Just because I have things I can teach and I enjoy watching people grow and learn and be better. When learning happens I can proudly say it's because of me.

I slow things down more? Not necessarily. I move some things faster and some slower. Things that matter to me I try to move them slower like precious times with family and friends. Things that are important to me I try to move them faster like my work, my decisions, my commitments.

I'm learning to enjoy what I have instead of wanting what I don't. I think that is important. I'm learning to save not because I want to be rich but because I want to learn more, travel more, experience more, meet more people, help more people and just being able to say I can.

I also can't deny being screwed up sometimes when I lust for somethings. 

Have you ever thought about what's important in your life and what you're willing to sacrifice for it?

Selamat Hari Raya eberibadeh. Pic courtesy of Jimmy Ang Studio & Art

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Work not for the money but for the love.

I've been working in my company for 7 years. It's not something someone in my age would usually do unless the money is good or the prospect is good or the company is a multi-million international enterprise.

I'm not doing it for any of the above. I'm doing it because I have a deep appreciation for the higher management in my company and the trust they have for me. I believe I will keep working until this company closes down or at least for another 3-5 years. Sometimes, it's not about the things you can get but rather the things you're grateful for.

I'm working harder now. All because I want this company to be better. It's not even mine.

Friday, June 13, 2014

It wasn't all luck.

I'm extremely lucky to be alive. It wasn't without sacrifices or hurdles. And it wasn't without hope.

I admit, it was a real stroke of luck for me to be able to write this but I just want people out there to know that it wasn't all luck. It takes a lot of things for me to be alive...

I was diagnosed with this disease when I was born. At 7 weeks old, I had an operation which was extremely dangerous at that time and although the operation was a success... I was told my days are numbered. My dad did once told me I might not live past 12. I didn't realize the complexity of the situation because I was only 7. I took it as a shorter life which means I must do everything faster, better and not repeat whatever I had done. It wasn't a good motto because I didn't do anything faster, I procrastinate. I didn't do anything better, in fact up until now I think I still do things which I think I could've done better. I repeated. I never learnt my lesson. Sometimes I keep repeating my failures.

I had my fair share of mischief and food journeys which when I think back, was rather dangerous and stupid. I was a teenager and I was expected to make mistakes and dabble in mischief, but I didn't know I was very different. When people spent their days into the wee morning at 3AM, I wasn't supposed to. When people smoke, I'm supposed to avoid them. I didn't. When people drink, I'm not supposed to join. Sometimes I did. It was all a big mistake.

But I never gave up on life. I never stopped life because of I couldn't see what was coming. I didn't stop life because I was hallucinating. I wanted to live more than anyone else. I knew it was bad, I just didn't know it was life-stopping bad.

People beside me kind of know I was at the edge of life. My mom wanted to donate half of her liver and if all else fails, she was prepared to sell our property so she can take me to India or China for the operation. I never thought of that as a possibility. I never wanted my mom to donate her liver even if it meant saving my life. I would never accept the threat of death to another person just so they can save another person. That is not a winning situation. If it was a poker game, its a bad calculation.

I wanted to wait. I believed I still had time. If it indeed was my time, I hope I didn't suffer.

By the third time I was suffering from encephalopathy, I was prepared. They say it gets better but at that time, I was prepared for the worst but I hoped for the best. Hope kept me alive.

My family kept me alive, my friends gave me hope, the people around me saved me. And for that I am grateful.

Life is always hard people. We keep getting strokes of shit at times. It wouldn't be always smooth sailing. We persevere not because we must but because we believe. We hope. Hope is a four letter word and all four letter words are OHSEM.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Being normal.

I'm back in Penang. It's such a breath of fresh air. I'm working again. There are precautions I have to take but I'm learning this way of life. Everything's having a semblance of normality again. I'm glad for that.

I found out that my previous liver was in a scale of 1-10... a negative 1. That was a doctor's opinion, not some doctor wannabe.I'm lucky and blessed.

I'm back for Lisa's wedding. Her wedding was beautiful but I got intrigued by the photobooth. I guess I still have a lot of vain Asian blood in me. Can't help it, I look absolutely Asian. Hanging out and catching up with some of my bestest friends have been wonderful. What a blessing. There's so many more I haven't had the opportunity to meet but I'm sure in time we will.

I'm still dressing my wound everyday but everything else is also looking normal again. Oh, and just to ease some of the people who keep questioning me, here is a list of the foods I need to avoid:

1. Grapefruit
2. Pomelo
3. Cheese
4. Yogurt
5. Dirty food.
6. Raw food.
7. Not well cooked food.
8. Mayonnaise or other forms of salad dressing.
9. Unfiltered water.
10.Chicken Breast
13.Ben's Pesto
14.KL Char Koay Teow
15.Anything cooked by a foreigner from a third world country.

OK, item 10 and below were all preferential than prescribed. If you're sick like coughing or having a fever... I will avoid you. It's nothing personal, it's just ME.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A new beginning.

I woke up in a blur. I don't know if it was my eyes or because I'm not wearing my glasses but everything was white. The whole room. it took some time to accustom myself to the colours. I could see the lines from my hand and my neck as well as my tummy. i was on at least 10 different lines.

it took them three days before they moved me to the high dependency ward. i heard some people took a week or more but since there was another operation pending, i had to move out sooner. HDW, was boring. i can still remember groaning and etching my face in pain after every movement. walking didn't happen for a few days. i could only smile and talk. everything else was hard.

within a week, some of the lines were down and there was water in my lungs. i had a line into my lung to drain out the water. again, i felt pain in every movement. the morphines helped but i found myself relying on it too much sometimes. i wanted to wean it off and slowly i did. my wound was still bleeding and it was still open. the wait was horrendous. the heal just wouldn't close after weeks and sometimes, it gets worse.

by the second month. i had to re-suture my wounds. it was a painful experience and again i find myself relying on a lot of morphine. it took me almost a week to regain my composure and drop off the morphine.

now two months later, i'm still visiting the hospital everyday to clean my wound. they're closing but a few stubborn ones are taking longer than expected. i can walk better and regain some semblance of a walking posture now. before this, i was just an old slouching grandpa moving like a snail.

i still wear my mask wherever i go. i still avoid sick people and i probably will for the rest of my life. i'm replying my e-mails now and watching more movies. i'm also eating better. life is fragile. i might not know when there will be rejection of my new organ but i'd be god damned if i don't live my life better and enjoy my life more.

take care people. the third part of this trilogy will be posted once i figure out how to get things 'NORMAL' again.

p/s: my radial nerve is not healed yet though. my left hand side thumb and index finger are still numb.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A toast to the end...

February 25th. as the rotors slow down and the chopper landed on the yellow drawn tarmac circle, a new beginning awaits me. I didn't see it coming but i was told later. much later.

The eighth time really did struck a chord with me. i was admitted three days prior for infection/cholangitis. In my midst of havoc and trembles, god came to me in my dreams. he was never someone i believed in and in a million years, i wouldn't have gone his way until that faithful day. he came quietly in my dreams, waved a hand over me and said "I will heal all of you".

I woke up. nothing and no one was healed. still, it was an immense experience.

a day later i woke up feeling so much better. i was relieved but still stuck in the hospital.

two days later i was called in for another potential donor. i went down to level 8 and got re-admitted into room 10. they gave me all the necessary preparations including colon cleansing, arterial bloodworks and x-rays. i checked into the room on 24th Feb at 9PM. We were told to wait till 6AM the next day. I waited in the room till 6.30 thinking that it should be another false alarm since nothing and no one came for us. i thought the doctors would arrive any minute telling us it was another botched liver.

6.30, the doctor didn't come in, the nurse did. She told us to get ready in half an hour and change into their operation attire. I was confused but i did as told. in less than half an hour, i was pushed into the OT. I remember clearly being there and the lights were astoundingly bright. In less than 5 minutes, i lost consciousness.

I didn't wake up for 2 days.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Seven times a charm?

I've been called for potential liver transplant 7 times. While others manage to do it in 1 time, I don't know why mine's taking 7 times. It's tiring.

Out of 7 times, I was coughing once. Thus I was not a viable candidate. Another 2 times, I only waited for the call before they cancelled it. 3 times I managed to do the pre-op blood tests including the arterial blood taking (painful like f*ck), 1 time they managed to push me up till the Operating Theatre (OT) cum ICU (last Thursday) and yesterday they made me take the colon cleanse again. I kid you not, water was dripping out of my ass. They called us at 5.00PM on the 15th and I was told that the liver cannot be used at 8.00AM on the 16th.

Such are the ups and downs of an organ recipient. I wanted to post statuses asking for your help in having me in your prayers but I was afraid of all the false alarms I couldn't get myself to post up anything until I'm in the OT undergoing the knife. I'll leave that to my partner in crime.

Hopefully, there's no more false alarms this year. What a suspenseful way to start the horse year.

 Headed out as soon as I got the call.

 en-route to Hospital Selayang

 Going up the elevator to Level 3 and then to Level 5 HDW.

 Footsteps so familiar. Corridors I've walked through.

Got my name-tag, am going to put it on soon. 

High Dependency Ward. I'll be spending a lot of time here after I get out of ICU. Limited to 2 person per visit.

 My bed, my view.

 Partners in crime. Sorry to bring so much trouble to them.

On drips and medication. I'm so tired of preparations after preparations.

.random lessons.

When we look down, we know how big we are. When we look up, we realize how small we are. When we look in front, we see the obstacles and l...