Stupid Genius

- Making mistakes is our rights, learning from them is our responsibilty.

- "I have no choice" is another way of saying "I've have chosen the easier option"

- Genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration - Thomas A Edison

My Photo
Location: Singapore

Sunday, February 04, 2007

I just came back from Batam. Not for holiday, but rather, to be a untrained construction worker. 2.5 days of solid work and I am rewarded with muscle aches, sun-burnt skin and tons of satisfaction. (See Link)

[IMAGE: Immigration]
I woke up early in the morning and goes to World Trade Center harbour to meet the rest of them, just like I would on any holiday trip. We took a 1 our ferry to Batam and clear the immigration.

[IMAGE: Free Rabies Zone]
Free Rabies Zone
This picture is taken while I was queuing to clear the immigration. It's not well taken. It says "You Are Entering Free Rabies Zone". Anybody want to bring home some rabies? It's free.

[IMAGE: Transport to hotel]
Transport to hotel
We took this cute orange van to the hotel. The hotel is very orangey. Every thing is orange, the uniform, the slippers, the brochures, etc.

[IMAGE: Hotel]
There is this shop in the hotel selling Polo T-shirts. I don't see any Ralph Lauren in the brand; I guess it's the Indonesian version. They have a small cafe near the lobby selling cookies. They gave us a sample, it's pretty nice. The Kueh Lapis is nice too, and it's selling for $21. I bought 1. Then I see a shop at the ferry terminal selling the cake at about $10. I wonder if they tastes the same.

[IMAGE: To the pool]
To the pool
This place looks nice. Greens, fountains, pools, etc.

[IMAGE: Key card]
Key card
This the key to my room. The first time that I am using it, I was holding it in the top right corner and my thumb is on the arrow. I thought the logo on the top left corner is the arrow and I put the card in the direction of the logo and the door couldn't open...

[IMAGE: The path to the work site]
The path to the work site
We took the same van to the village. This picture is taken at the place we alight the van. This path leads to the house we are going to help build.

[IMAGE: Before we start]
Before we start
This is the house we are going to start build. The owner and his friends have already done some work on it. Let's see how much we can achieve in the 3 days we are there.

[IMAGE: 1st aid point]
1st aid point
This is our first aid point. We never get to use it.

[IMAGE: Day 1]
Day 1
The work is hard. There's a lot of digging. We have to dig a 2m deep septic tank. It reminds me of my trench digging days in the army. Wait, I don't dig trench in the army. Oh well. No wonder I find it so hard. Other than digging the tank, we also have to dig soil from a slope outside the house and move it into the house and lay on the floor. The soil we dug from the septic tank also go to the floor. I don't know why we have to line the floor with soil though, it's already cement. I am not the expert on house building; I do what they tell me to. The owner will come help us dig sometimes, but while we try to dig deep, he keeps digging wide. The hole grew so big that it's more like a koi tank than a septic tank. Luckily they decided that they don't need it to be 2m deep since it's so big.

[IMAGE: January's house]
January's house
This is the house built by the January team. My company sends a team here every month. You can see that it's almost complete. The windows and doorways are up. The walls are all up. What's left is the roof.

[IMAGE: January's house's mistress]
January's house's home owner
The lady behind the kids, carrying the boy is the mistress of the house that the January team help built.

[IMAGE: January's house's septic tank]
January's house's septic tank
This is the septic tank of the January's house. It's not dug by that team, probably by the home owner. And it looks smaller than ours. Ours is really huge.

We left for hotel early today. We left at 4:30pm. By right it should be 5pm, but my team leader thought that the first day we should save a bit of energy for the subsequent days. Boy, do we need that energy...

[IMAGE: Ugly tan line]
Ugly tan line
This ugly tan line occurs because of the glove we had to wear while we work. I was wearing a singlet that time, so my hand is all tanned except for the part where the glove is on.

[IMAGE: Suzie's Shop houses]
Suzie's Shop houses
Dinner is at the hotel, and it's pretty decent. After that, our Batam expert, William, brings us to Suzie's shop houses to chill out. It's a nice place and we can even receive M1 / Singtel's network from there.

[IMAGE: Holiday Inn]
Holiday Inn
We stopped by Holiday Inn on the way to Suzie's shop houses. It's a nice place. All the rooms there are suites and it's a very nice design.

[IMAGE: Holiday Inn's unit]
Holiday Inn's unit
There's not enough light in this picture and my flash is not strong enough. Basically, there's a small artificial stream running at the back of the unit, and there's a bridge over the stream. It looks really nice.

[IMAGE: Wedding]
There's a couple holding their wedding dinner in Holiday's Inn.

After that we go back to the hotel. William and Steven bought back beers, and they suggested going to their room for some booze session, but it never materializes. Everyone is just too tired.

[IMAGE: 2nd day]
2nd day
We reach the work site at 9am the next day. This picture is taken before we start work. Today there's less digging. We need to finish up the septic tank. We started doing some wire thing. It's quite a long process to describe, so I shall not talk too much about it. We also started laying bricks. I thought laying bricks is fun.

[IMAGE: Taking a break]
Taking a break
It's been a tiring 2 days. We took a lot of rests. Someone was saying we should take 20 minutes break after working for 40 minutes.

[IMAGE: 2nd day group photo (with kids)]
2nd day group photo (with kids)
This picture is taken after we stopped work on the 2nd day. We got the kids to take with us.

[IMAGE: 2nd day group photo (with home owner)]
2nd day group photo (with home owner)
This picture is taken with the home owner after the picture with the kids.

We wanted to have our dinner in the Batam city. The hotel does not want to take us to the city, so we arranged for our own transport. It cost us $7 each. We went to this massage parlour called Indo Thai. It's quite nice. If I should go Batam city again, I'll visit this massage parlour.

[IMAGE: Dinner]
After massage, we went to this place called Nagoya food court.

[IMAGE: Nagoya food court]
Nagoya food court
They have a big stage on 1 side of the food court. When we reach there, there's a singer on stage singing a song. She left after finishing that song. She must have sung there for sometime before we arrived.

[IMAGE: Brother Seafood]
Brother Seafood
We were told to eat at Brother Seafood.

[IMAGE: New Brother Seafood]
New Brother Seafood
Apparently, they were doing so well that they have a imitation in the same food court. William told me they are not related.

[IMAGE: Martabak Manis]
Martabak Manis
This shop sells yummy pancakes. It's in Nagoya food court too.

After dinner, it's back to the hotel. It's the last night we are staying in Batam. We only have 1/2 more day of work left.

[IMAGE: Group picture in the hole]
Group picture in the hole
The last day begins like the previous day. 9am at the work site. We start the day by taking a picture in the hole that we dug. It can take all 12 of us in there just fine.

[IMAGE: 3rd day]
3rd day
There's less to do for this last day. It's only half day at the work site. Our ferry is at 3:40pm, and we'll be leaving for the hotel at 12 noon. We don't have to lay the bricks as we have laid it pretty high on the 2nd day. They will have to construct higher temporary structures to lay complete the wall. A few of the guys were touching up on the septic tank. They got the depth right but got to make the sides and the base more even. The rest did the wire work.

[IMAGE: Completed house]
Completed house
This is a completed house by Habitat for Humanity. It looks like the family is quite rich, compared to the rest. The house is bigger. And it's nicely decorated.

[IMAGE: Vietnamese girls]
Vietnamese girls
It's good to have 4 ladies Vietnamese construction girls with us in this program. It makes the work so much more siong easier.

[IMAGE: Address]
This is to be the address of the house when it's completed. Currently, it's hanging on the home owner's temporary house opposite the work site.

[IMAGE: Final result]
Final result
This is the house after we are there for 3 days. Doesn't look much different from the 1st day? But we have put in lots of sweat and energy in it.

[IMAGE: End of program group photo]
End of program group photo
1 group photo to wrap up the program.

[IMAGE: 1 last photo with the family]
1 last photo with the family
1 more photo after the Habitat representative presented us with the certificates for our achievements.

[IMAGE: The road back]
The road back
With that, we find ourselves looking at this road that leads back to the hotel for the last time. All good things must come to an end. We have reached the end of our self torture little foray into making lives of the poor better. Each of us will bring back with us memories of these 3 days where we work our socks off. We are all office personnel. We are not used to doing such heavy stuff, and yet, here we are. 2.5 days of solid work. Everyone has done their part. Some may do more than others, but all gave their best. What we give in efforts and sweat, we got back in gratitude, experience and friendship. I am glad I came for this.

But it's not the end yet. I have more to write about this trip.

We went back to the hotel, wash up, had our lunch and have a little bit of time to kill.

There are 2 kinds of room in this hotel. The sea view and the pool view.

[IMAGE: Sea view]
Sea view
I've got the sea view room. It looks like a kelong in the distance, but my room mate say it's a ship yard.

[IMAGE: Pool view]
Pool view
The pool view looks like this. According to Sharon, the view is boring. She did not see any hunks around. She should have come to my room more often. :P

[IMAGE: Last group photo]
Last group photo
It looks like we took a lot of group photos. This should be the last of them for this trip. It’s taken outside the hotel just before we set off for the ferry terminal.

[IMAGE: Escalator under maintenance]
Escalator under maintenance
The arrival hall is on the ground floor and the departure hall is on the 2nd floor. And the escalator is closed for repairs, so we have to carry our luggage up the stairs. Idiots.

[IMAGE: Wanted?]
Saw this out side the departure gates. What does it mean? Is the man on the wanted list? Or is he just the employee of the month?

[IMAGE: Provision shop]
Provision shop
There's this provision shop right outside the departure gates. This is where I find Kueh Lapis selling for about $10.

[IMAGE: Super women]
Super women
These are ladies of our team. They were superb and were tremendous to have around the work site.

[IMAGE: Arms]
Us comparing our tan. Anyone knows which hand is mine?

[IMAGE: Homecoming]
Finally, we are on the way home. It's definitely an experience we'll cherish and may hope the future teams have as much fun as us and the January team.

Batam Outreach: Building Homes, Building Hope (1st Feb - 3rd Feb)

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