11/24/2016 01:55:00 pm

Lensventures two years back | Fraser's Hill |

All photos taken by me back in 2014 when I went to Fraser's Hill with my family.

this had a secret-garden-y feeling... the gate was locked though

the infamous landmark of Fraser's Hill

the cool thing about Bukit Fraser- it is located on the border of two states- Pahang and Selangor. So I could stand on the border, one foot on each state and say I was at two places at once

The last day was filled with a zorbing experience- I shared one of those hamster-like balls with my brother and filmed it.

11/21/2016 11:08:00 pm

BRACES 2: Eight months later...

Eighth-month braces update...

I had my fourth tooth extracted today. Usually for people doing braces, their teeth would be extracted all at one go, but for me my first three was extracted in my second orthordotic visit, and at the same time my braces (brackets and wires) were put in, and the dentist said to wait for the teeth to shift to a certain position before the fourth tooth could be extracted.

By right, the tooth was ready to be extracted in August, but I happened to be running/or just recovered from a mild fever, so the dentist decided not to go ahead with the extraction, just in case, because my body has to be healthy to be ready to fight any infection in the case that one occurred after the tooth was extracted.

Come October (appointments were 1 month - 6 weeks apart), my exams were nearing so dentist and I decided to postpone the extraction because the post-extraction process would be quite unpleasant and I would be unable to focus on studying.

It's been awhile since I updated on my braces progress (eight months actually).

During this time,

  • I had my braces tightened regularly, 
  • changed rubber band colours (but stayed within light blue, dark blue, purple, grey [ didn't dare experiment with other funkier colours] ), 
  • learnt to eat harder foods like apple (still has to be sliced, but the slices in the beginning were tiny as compared to normal slices I eat today), 
  • abandoned and lost my small single-bristle brush (while moving house), 
  • became more and more confident of my smile and smiled more,
  • continued to eat normal foods (candy, chocolate)
The extraction procedure itself was surprisingly fast. Having experienced the anesthetic procedure before, I had mentally prepared myself for the needle and the pulling out tooth process, but it was not that bad. Afterwards,  the dentist told me she saw the look on my face like I was preparing myself for the anaesthesia needle as well as the extraction part, so she got it over and done with quickly.

Also, my dentist upgraded her rubber band colour collection - I found light teal which I didn't recall seeing during my previous visits (or else I would have picked that colour) which I was quite happy about.

The worse part about extraction is actually not extraction itself, but the post effects. First hour was okay, I just bit on the gauze as instructed (the pressure reduces bleeding) and did some doodling at home. The second hour onwards it just hit me... it was not pain, but rather this fidgety feeling with irritation and annoyance and simply plain misery. Plus I was super hungry, and seeing my friend's snapchatting their dinners made it worse (I couldn't eat for the first hour and only cold foods for the next 24 hours). Moaning and groaning relieved that misery by a little bit, and I tried to distract myself by watching TV shows on my laptop.

I kept hydrating myself, and four hours later my stomach really could not stand it any longer, so I made myself oats with Milo (chocolate malt powder) and popped it in the freezer for awhile to cool it.

And now I'm typing this blog post with no gauze in my mouth, six hours after extraction. The misery has disappeared (finally)!

11/19/2016 08:18:00 pm

Fascinating Languages

Languages are really fascinating.
"If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart."
‒Nelson Mandela
They are the barriers between us and the people in another country, say China. But when you get a grasp of that language, it turns into a tool, and a really useful one too.

For example,
In Chinese we usually say 'jīa yóu'. The literal meaning of 加油 (jia you) is 'filling a machine with petrol" , so as to have more power to run longer, but it is kind of like saying "go for it" or "you can do it".

I do know that in Japanese they say 'ganbatte', it literally means, “Do your best”. It's interesting how the English phrase is sort of spiritual and wishing for some good luck to be brought to you, like 'Good Luck' or 'God Bless', whereas the Chinese and Japanese version emphasizes your own efforts.

And 'jia you' can be used in a lot of situations- before exams or tests, as a form of encouragement; when someone feels tired, like during a camp where everyone is drained out, as a morale booster; during a competition as a form of a cheer...

Come to think of it, there are a lot of words in Chinese that are really interesting when directly translated. Cobra is 眼镜蛇 which literally is 'eyeglasses snake'; owl- 'cat head eagle'; kangaroo- 'bag mouse'; lizard- 'wall tiger'; giraffe- 'long neck deer'... there's almost an endless number of words that are really interesting when directly translated to English.


  • shredder: 碎纸机 'smash paper machine' 
  • lobster: 龙虾 'dragon prawn'
  • alien 外星人 'out star person'
  • everyone 'large family'
  • mobile phone 'hand machine'
  • computer 'electric brain'
  • suffer: 吃苦 'eating bitterness'
❝To have another language is to possess a second soul.❞
I guess this is really true, since a language portrays a culture and perspective on life. In my O level English exam paper, there was a comprehension passage talking about this topic. In the English language, when commiting an act, the agent was emphasized, whereas the Japanese did not mention the agent (for example, when they were showed a scene where a boy named Jack broke a vase,  at a party. When asked, the English-speakers could recall the person who broke the vase, whereas Japanese speakers could not remember.

Also, the language you use influences your thought.

For example, [also from that exam passage but since it was submitted with the answer I can't refer to it] in (can't remember the tribe/cultural group name), instead of saying 'how are you', the people would say 'where are you going' as a form of a greeting, and the response would be to give directions, for example 'I'm heading northwards'. So in this case, having a sense of direction is a norm in that culture.

Another example would be the Chinese greeting, "你吃饱了吗?" (nî chī bâo lè mā?)(Did you eat yet/have you eaten/are you hungry?), instead of "How are you" like in English language. It doesn't necessarily have to be used before meal-times, just a general sign of politeness, the same way you ask 'how are you' as a sign of politeness and not necessarily want the other person to spill all of his problems (especially if it's during a formal encounter).

Sometimes if it's family members or close friends, if they receive a reply "(I haven't)", they would offer some food. Notice the word 饱 bâo, which means full, is used. Yes, you may have had a bite before I asked you, but are you still hungry? It seems like Asian parents especially are afraid that their children would starve. That instant when my grandmother heard my brother saying he was hungry, she'd go to the kitchen and find food for him to eat. I guess it's also a different way of showing concern. After research, I found out that this greeting became common after a long history of famine during in ancient China. Imagine replacing 'how are you' with 'have you eaten' in English, people would think you are weird!

Wong Fu Productions' video 'What Asian Parents Don't Say?' illustrates this perfectly, the contrast between Asian and Western ways of showing concern.

Also, the Chinese have different words for 'you', depending on whether the other person is more senior than them in terms of age or rank. German and French 'gender-ify' (my own word) their objects. For example in German, 'the' when addressing a man or masculine noun would be 'Die' (pronunced dee), a feminine noun would be 'der' (deer) and a neuter noun would be 'das'. 

In English it's just 'the' for everything. We use 'he' 'she' and 'it', also 'him' and 'her' to address things. On the other hand, in Chinese, it's either 他 (general, male) 她 (for females) 它 (objects and animals), all pronounced tā. If it's plural, the word 们 mén is added, whereas in English it really depends (insert all those grammar rules, e.g. if it ends with x add es like in foxes, if it ends in y replace the y with ies....)

The number of specific terms to address a family member also reflects how important they view the terminology of relatives, and how much they emphasize on social status. For example, in English, your mother's brother would be called your uncle, your father's brother would also be addressed in the same way, same as your mother's cousin, or your mother's sister's husband . But in Chinese language, there are specifics for every relative, for example:
  • older sister: 姐姐 jîe x2
  • older brother: 哥哥 gē x2 
  • younger sister: 妹妹 meì x2
  • younger brother: 弟弟 dì x2

Maternal side:
  • mother's brother: 舅舅 vs uncle
  • mother's brother's wife: 舅母 vs aunt
  • mother's sister vs aunt 阿姨
  • mother's sister's husband 姨丈vs uncle
  • mother's sibling's daughter (older than you) 表姐/ daughter (younger than you) 表妹 / son (older than you) 表哥/ son (younger than you) 表弟 vs cousin
Paternal side:
  • father's older brother 伯伯 vs uncle
  • father's younger brother 舅舅 vs uncle
  • father's sister 姑姑 vs aunt
(Refer to this video for more terminology if you're interested.)

Imagine visiting your relative's house during Chinese New Year, and having to greet every single one of your relatives, including your grandparent's siblings and their children who are your parent's cousins!

Also, in Chinese culture the younger (in age) will have to address the seniors and tell them to eat, in order of seniority. For example, one would say "Grandma eat, grandpa eat, Uncle eat, Aunty eat, Father eat, Mother eat, (older cousin A) eat, older cousin B eat, older brother eat, older sister eat." Usually the children would take turns to say (meaning the older grandchild will call all of the relatives to eat, then the second oldest grandchild would do it, then the third oldest...) The youngest person on the table would be very tired because he would have to tell everyone to eat, individually! This is because filial piety is emphasized in the culture. Nowadays not many families would practice this culture (my family doesn't, really), but some of my friends' families do.

 There is simply too much to write about this topic, and whilst writing this blog, I did some research on how language reflected the culture, and I must saw I am hooked. Maybe I'll write another post about this topic soon!

11/15/2016 01:00:00 pm

Things I would Tell My Secondary One Self

Dear 13-year-old Zelus,

How are you? I know a lot of your friends from primary school are in secondary school, and you are constantly asking yourself if you have made the right choice to stay homeschooled. But rest assurred, it is the right choice. Your 16-year-old self will tell you that it is the right choice to homeschool. 

Homeschool, she'd tell you, gives you the flexibility in time to experience many things, and the freedom to pursue whatever interest you want. For example, if you went to school, next year (in secondary 2) it will be your 'streaming year', where you'd probably be rather stressed because your end of year exams will determine what subjects you're 'eligible' for. From what I know, to take triple science  (physics, chemistry and biology), pure humanities (geography, history and literature), higher mother tongue (not necessarily all combined), you have to be the cream of the crop and in the top few classes. You choose what subjects you want to take in 'O'-Levels (IGCSE/GCSE equivalent), and your grades have to be of a certain standard, for you to be able to take that subject. And if you struggle in a subject (for example A Maths aka Further Maths), you may be told by your teachers to 'drop' (abandon) that subject because it's pulling you down. And as someone who has unexplained setbacks in studies in the early days, I'm glad I'm can study whatever subject I want and not be told to drop any subjects because I'm not doing well in that subject.

*The above is what I understand of the Sg secondary school system, if I have made any incorrect statements please correct me and let me know what it actually is.

However, as a homeschooler, you can essentially choose what you want to learn. Besides the 'exam' subjects, you want to learn a third language? Sure. A particular subject you are interested in and want to learn more in-depth? Sure. An unconventional school subject, like Journey to Narnia? Sure. As long as there are courses out there, your choices are unexhausted. And even if the topic you want to learn is not offered as a course online, you can take it upon yourself to teach yourself, using the materials online and in libraries.

Of course, with that being said, your parents can also chip in some stuff into your curriculum, such as faith study and Chinese history, stuff that they would like you to learn.

Don't stress too much on studies, it's only the first/second year. Just be consistent in your work and you'll be fine.

Find the study method that works best and find ways to beat your own system-procrastination, lack of motivation etc.

Have a lot of fun and do whatever you can. Volunteer work, play with kids, hang out with friends, babysit, tutor kids, go for events, just to it while you have the time.

Sleep. Seriously, get enough sleep. sure you can stay up all night once or twice just for the fun of it, but otherwise get at least 9 hours of sleep, and be consistent with your bedtime. Preferably get into bed by 11. You'll grow taller. And learn better the next day.

During this time, you'd also find a lot of friends slipping out of your grasp. Those friends you've known since childhood may slowly feel like strangers. Don't worry too much about it, because new people will also come into your life. Just cherish whatever moments you have with them.

Don't care what people think too much, because at the end of the day what matters is yourself. Really, it is not worth it to force yourself to be someone you are not, because it is really very tiring. I know this is going to be a bit of an oxymoron and also hypocritical, but you should allow yourself to grow by pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, be a better version of yourself. [I know, I know. First I say not to be something I'm not, but then I say to push myself out of my comfort zone.] Now you're probably Zelus 2.0 (Zelus 1.0 would be the much younger, kid version) but constantly upgrade yourself, to be Zelus 2.1, 2.2 .... 3.0, 4.0. And even though you may be quiet, it doesn't mean that you're useless. Being quiet means that you carefully filter through your thoughts and select the ones to share with the people around you, it (sometimes but not always) doesn't mean that you have nothing to say.

Also, lots of changes are going to be happening, in your life, around the world. You are going to be exposed to the reality of life, where you will see the harsh world and unpleasant events, but don't lose faith in humanity.

I know you have lots of dreams and ambitions. Don't give up on them, and don't lose hope just because thing 1 didn't go as you wished, focus on thing 2, 3, 4. Look forward.

All the best, you can do this.
From your older, and hopefully, wiser, self.
10 Nov 2016, Thursday.
[Edited and published on 15 Nov 2016, Tuesday]

11/12/2016 03:26:00 pm

Announcement: Blogging Schedule

Before I say anything, I must apologize for this random on-and-off blogging pattern the past year. I would say it's due to the O level hectic schedule, with commuting and studies taking up a lot of my time, but in reality, it's really an excuse I use too much. I do have time, just that my spare time is not managed wisely and often spent binge-watching, binge-reading, or binge-sleeping. Other times I don't feel like using words to express myself.

Recently I saw Kanra's post on how to having a schedule while blogging, and that got me to reflect on my blogging schedule. Correction: non-existent blogging schedule. Never have I once decided "I should blog once a week, posting on fridays". Sure, I did participate in Blogtopber last year, where I posted every single day in October, but that was about it. And now that O level exams are almost over and I would have around one and a half months without school taking up my time, I decided I should start maintaining a consistent blogging habit, so that when I do start school, I won't be so stressed out about blogging.

In my 'About' page, I have announced that I would blog twice a week, and usually post on Tuesdays and Saturdays. But this is just a rough guideline for myself to follow, it can sometimes appear on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Sundays... depending on my mood, sometimes more than twice a week. I will try my best and challenge myself come up with new content weekly, or simply to update on my life.

How I plan execute this plan (do you see it):

1. Use my daily planner to remind myself to draft post A for idea 1, publish B, finish the draft C... I use post-it notes (I cut them into smaller pieces as they're a bit too large for the squares in my planner) so they are flexible, for example if I had a post planned for today, but I had a sudden inspiration to write something that I simply need to share with you guys today, I can just postpone my the other posts and push the plans accordingly. I love the flexibility post-it notes give. I can also write down all the drafts I have into separate pieces of post-its, then decide where to stick them (when to publish them).
there's a lot of ideas, so these might (will) flow over to the next month, or even the next year.
2. Try my best to stick to the schedule. If I foresee myself being super caught up in school, exams, life in general, I'd announce that I'll be taking a break, but still try to schedule a few posts so that the blog is active.

As of now, I have 38 drafts (not including the scheduled posts). That's 38 unfinished ideas still lingering (maybe dried up) in my mind (or at least in my drafts). I will try my best to touch up these drafts and publish them accordingly.

That's about it! I had a blogging diarrhea this afternoon,  a good one, where your brain just lights up and gives you a gazillion ideas for blog posts. I have drafted some of them and they're ready to be published... in the following Tuesdays and Saturdays. Stay tuned, and come back every Tuesday and Friday!

11/11/2016 02:59:00 pm

11:11 on 11.11

It's 11.11 today, make a wish (or many wishes)! 

today's 11.11
so it's twice the effect
it may not be real
but it doesn't hurt to hope
what if we wished on a shooting star on 11:11 on 11.11? 
from tumblr
Will that be thrice the probability that the wish will come true?

It's kind of interesting how people view some occurrences, such as shooting stars or spotting a four-leaf clover as lucky, while on the other hand the number 4 in Chinese is viewed as unfortunate because the pronunciation of '4' in Chinese is sì (fourth tone), close to 'sî' (third tone) (death). 

Shooting star and 11:11 wishes are rather common and portrayed in movies and books. 

(not my type of song but here's an example)

The gif of the shooting star above may not be experienced by us in real life, but many people including me have made a wish on this digital shooting star and have claimed that it works (for me too). It is probably less of the 'luck' shooting star gives, but more of us visualising our wish and embedding it into our mind. Perhaps us humans like to put our hopes and dreams on an inanimate object or an occurrence, and attribute our unfortunate events to that black cat or not having our good luck keychain with us.

At the end of the day what we do, what result we get, what consequence happens, depends on our effort, and not our 'good luck' charms. But it really doesn't hurt to make a wish next time you see a shooting star, or blow the dandelion.

11/09/2016 09:04:00 pm

In Retrospect: The past few days-weeks (rainbow themed)

All photos taken by me recently, coincidentally the first 5 photos I selected I realized were of rainbow colours, so the next two I picked I looked for orange and yellow themed. Enjoy!

Non-rainbow coloured themed photos (taken today)

Are there any photos you took recently that you liked?