Friday, June 10, 2011

My Brat-tastic Experience! (Part 2)

My Second Day at BRATs
“Ring! Ring!” That was my faithful alarm from my cell phone. I immediately alighted from Dreamland and get prepared for the “dodol” trip. After a hearty buffet breakfast at Lagenda Restaurant in the hotel, we left for our field trip. My group was the last to leave the bus to witness the hard work behind this sticky yet sweet delicacy.
It was around 10.00a.m., when we finally arrived at the small dodol workshop in Kampung Merah. We had to take a short walk down the narrow path before we reached the workshop as the road was too small for the bus to pass through. It looked like a small little house, and you will have to walk down the kitchen to discover the fantabulous secret of dodol. It may be stuffy and hot, but the person behind the scene, Mr Azman was a friendly and chatty person. He explained each of the steps involved in dodol making and the history that lies beneath this sweet. Best of all, we even had the first-hand experience of packing dodol and sample the mouth-watering morsel. The dodol was available in two flavors: Original for RM4.50 and Durian for RM5.50. (The price shown is for 500g boxes)

It was about eleven in the morning when we bade goodbye to the little dodol workshop. Our group was the last to carry out our assignments but the first to leave! The other groups went to visit the Pekan Rabu, the local market and Tun Dr. Mahathir’s birthplace.
After that, before we went to the hotel, we had some pictures at some of the landmarks in Alor Star. However, before I proceed, Please forgive me for not remembering the names of the landmarks except for the “Balai Besar”.

When we returned to the hotel, we had a workshop on the importance of social media by Niki Cheong. Previously, I had the misconception that social media were merely for communication and entertainment…
After that, it was the relatively tiring schedule of editorial activities. Well, it was actually not that tiring, though. Every member was assigned to different roles. We had to prepare two different articles on dodol and a video on it. However, we faced some hitches when it came to the article as our information was not really complete. What was more; we needed 700 words for the first article! Oh my goodness, it was quite tough for my friends and me to complete it! Those involved in the main article were Serena, Constance and me. My brain virtually froze in the cold conference room as I had to figure out the suitable words and sentence structures to ensure that the article turned out to be precise and interesting. Luckily, there were our facilitators, who were the editors to come to our rescue. Niki, who was quite strict yet helpful came over and scanned our articles for any miniscule mistake done. Our article was analyzed thoroughly for proficiency, coherency and being informative.
However, Amanda pronounced “dodol” as “doldol” in the video. (She was the stand upper) Many of us nicknamed her as “Miss DoLdol”, especially among the mischievous boys.
There were even snacks to keep us awake and energized during the tight schedule of getting our assignments done in time!
After a whole day’s work, all of us took a break by having dinner at a stall which sold Laksa Kedah.
The Laksa Kedah was sold in small amounts, but it was just right for me. The sauce was not too thick. The condiment was not really spicy. I like it! It was perfectly matched with “Air Bandung”.
It was around 8.30p.m., when the meal was finally done. There were games, as usual.

Niki, who was famous for his sarcasm and humor, gave us a lecture on that dinner. He kept talking about our lack of sensitivity and awareness during our interview, and that we did not find any special stories to tell in the Laksa stall. (Imagine “One-legged sate seller”!) Many of us were quite petrified, until the moment he told us that he was just making them up. The crowd immediately burst in laughter. Well, before I forget, Niki was an actor as well. He can make up stories which seem realistic and got everyone into it!

Once again, it was all the endless rigmarole of editing activities in the hotel. Everyone was almost plagued with insanity as we raced with time to get our projects done. Fortunately, our articles did not have any major problems, so that we could hand them in on time. Phew! At the same time, our group video was quite beautiful. (That was my opinion, of course)
Last but not least, I thanked God as we were still sane. *sigh of relief*

My Third Day at BRATs
I was both enthusiastic and excited. We were going to the Fishing Village at Kuala Kedah! Breakfast was as usual. At about 9.00 a.m., we headed to our respective destinations. Before the field assignments began, all of us first landed our feet on the paddy field. (Kedah is renowned as the major rice producer in Malaysia) The lush green paddy field was indeed a picturesque. I was awed and captivated by the beauty of the creation of Mother Nature. The tall, swaying coconut trees welcomed us to the quaint field with its draped leaves dancing to the rhythm of the wind.

We were the last team to start our assignment. Our destination was the fishing village in Kampung Cina. The name of the village had suggested that the Chinese populace dominated the place. It looked serene and calm, unlike the hustle and bustle at the city.
There was a strong fishy stench which invaded my nose. Yikes! Nevertheless, I knew that it was a norm in a fishing village. The village appeared to be laid-back and peaceful. We broke into three groups so that our assignments can be done in a quick manner. I went with Jia En, Serena and another girl (Sorry, her name slipped off my mind… Sorry for being careless) There, we obtained information from a shop house which produced and sold salted fish.

Besides from getting the golden chance to see the production of salted fish, we even got some facts on the generation gap between the young and the old, and the problems faced by those in the fishing industry due to price hike.
We had to overcome some clichés due to the lack of questions. In fact, I was not really certain on the questions for the interview due to the lack of knowledge in the field. Somehow, I was lucky to have one of our facilitator, Ian to help.
After the field assignment activity, it was lunch and editorial activities as usual. Before that, we were given remarks on our work by our facilitators. Amazingly, I did not feel as tensed up as yesterday when I typed the article out.
Since that night was our last night at BRATs, we had some group performances, which were held impromptu. My group performed a sketch. Somehow, I did not really understand the content and message in it…!!! It was hilarious, though.

The next group to perform was Team “WHAT?”. They cheered up every participant and facilitators with their Medley-cum-parodies of Bruno Mars’ “The Lazy Song” and Rebecca Black’s “Friday”. In their performance, the lyrics of the original song were changed to match the life in the workshop. Isn’t that creative?

Team HIMYB gave everyone a real entertainment by imitating the facilitators. Marcus’ rendition of Niki really tickled my funny bone!

After all those amusing performances, it was time to get serious and tensed to finish our job in a jiffy. My group managed to finish the assignment so fast that we were lost on anything to do next. Somehow, most of us stayed up late to complete our work.

My Fourth Day at BRATs
Time indeed flies. It was soon the day to bid goodbye to my acquaintances during the workshop. There was only a brief four days for us to build our friendship, yet, on that day, it was the nastiest moment to part!
Here are just some glimpses of my memories in the workshop... (Sorry for not typing the caption!)

 We were talking and chatting to no end on this day. On this day, I had the mixed feelings of being both happy and sad. I was happy as I was one of the 40 lucky applicants to be chosen into this big family, and I got to know many incredible and amazing friends. I reminisced the first day when I arrived: Being in a daze and unexpecting the surprises which were bound to happen. That day, it was the same; that was a wonderful and memorable journey in my life.
To sum it all up, I must say that it was an amazing chapter in my teenage life as I can actually learn much more than journalism from here! I learnt to be grateful of the life I had when I witness the hardship faced by the fishermen. Besides, this activity has helped me to open my eyes to witness the wonders of the world and the tale that lies behind every aspect around us, which seemed to be ordinary. However, will the clock turn back so that I can re-experience this journey again? I bet not.
Anyway, everyone has a tale to tell and share, and you will just have to listen to them in patience, and savour the essence in it. You may gain from it!

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