Saturday, April 28, 2007


I know... I'm getting all distracted by this already.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

ESUM Public Speaking Competition GRANDFINALS 2007

NOTE: This is going to be the longest post ever in the history of my blogs for a very long time. There will be a lot of pictures so, if you're still on 56k, I would suggest that you go and have your lunch and dinner while the pictures are loading.

A little background information: I went for the preliminary round of the ESUM Public Speaking Competition 2007 on the 7th of April at Malacca's Stamford College with Daniel, courtesy of a ride by Mdm. Chan and her husband. We originally signed up for the JB centre but apparently the organisers(The Star Publications and HSBC) decided to close down the JB centre because the response from Johor is very poor and we had to go to the Malacca centre for our preliminary competition.

I had a great time then. Both of us went to the competition without any hopes or wishes that we may win or anything because this if our very first public speaking competition of ANY KIND. We went there and was blown away by the number of quality speakers at Stamford College. People like Amanda and Nimisha were fantastic in their presentation. We didn't think there would be any hope of us entering the Semifinal considering the amount of quality speakers we have at Malacca. Somehow or rather I made it into the final 8(Semifinal). When it came to my turn to present my piece on "The Straw that Broke the Camel's Back", I went up and spoke about how Teacher's Day is coming and we should be good students, etc.. etc.. Halfway through I forgot my script and proceed to '[i]goreng[/i]' my way through. After that I thought, "Sure die wan. I forgot my script." Nimisha and so many others were better than me and I thought all hopes were lost. After all 8 of us have presented our piece, we were told that the results for the Semifinals around the country will be announced in a week's time.

Fast forward a week later, on the 13th of April, Umal from The Star Publications called me up and told me that I have been selected to go for the Grandfinals in KL! By then, I only have 1 more week left to prepare for my speech for the Grandfinals because I really didn't expect to make it this far and apparently, I'm the ONLY ONE from a tiny town! All the other 12 finalists are from various places such as KL, Penang and Kuching. Oh, and there is this other guy too, Koh Siang Boon, who is an excellent speaker and he's from Segamat! Apparently the only 2 guys selected from Malacca are JOHOREANS! Woo... hooray for Johor, eh?

Anyway, I had a lot of trouble trying to prepare my Grandfinal speech based on the theme "Dynamic Earth". We are supposed to prepare our speech based on a topic that is related to the theme, "Dynamic Earth", but it must not be totally about the that. Confusing, eh? So, I decided to base my speech on unity because Raja Nazrin's address on unity really inspired me. The first script that I prepared sounded too much like a National Day speech by some minister, it seems. Well, that's what my teacher said. Mdm. Presanna thought that script didn't have my style at all. So, I went on and changed it on WEDNESDAY(18/4/2007) just 3 days before the Grandfinals and based my new script about my form 5 class 5ST1 and united we were back then. This one's really funny according to all my teachers and said that it contains my style, alright.

I had to fly from Senai to KLIA on Friday and then be picked up by members of The Star then we will all proceed to Berjaya Times Square Hotel and Convention Centre for our briefing and accommodation. It was too bad that I didn't bring my camera along for the Prelims at Malacca. So, I learned my lesson and decided to bring mine along for the Grandfinals. I have documented my whole trip below. Hope you will enjoy the commentaries of a small town boy on his experiences of his very first public speaking competition coutesy of English Speaking Union of Malaysia(ESUM), The Star Publications and HSBC Bank!

Note: The pics look a bit squished up and weird because it couldn't fit the size of my blog. So, if you want to take a better look at the pics, just click on it and you can view it at a much better ratio.

My ugly mug moments before I board my very flight in my life.

This is what they call the "Boarding Gate". Apparently it's supposed to be connected to an aircraft. But I see no aircraft. Am I at the wrong gate?

This IS Gate02! So, I guess I'm at the right place. But.. where's the plane?

Looks empty...

Here we have our pilots who arrived late in style. Looked frosty.

Suddenly the gated started to 'descend'. Hmm... I wonder what's going to happen.

Oh lookie.... a plane.

Is... is.... that my... plane approaching?


And then it came to a complete stop right in front of the Airport workers. lol

Here's the part where they would refuel the plane before allowing us to board the plane. I didn't know they were supposed to stick [i]that[/i] into the wing.

Shortly after that, we took off from Senai heading towards KLIA. I couln't take a pictures on the plane for obvious reasons and I must say that for my very first flight, it was incredibly fun and I really enjoyed myself.

Once I reached KLIA, I was greeted by Yuan Ni, one of The Star's staff and she took care of us 'foreigners' who are not from KL.

Here we have Derren Sim. One of the Final 12. Also known as the guy with the biggest picture in the newspaper.

Ooohh... what's this on the Arrival/Departure board?

Virus. lol

After everyone has arrived, we were chauffeured to the total by a very nice guy. In a van. I wanted to take pics of everyone but due to someone who's dying to play oneupmanship with me in the van, I politely put my camera away. I was too frustrated by then already because I really didn't want to fight with this dude but he insisted on playing that silly alpha male game with me. Which was annoying the bejeebers out of everyone. But, nevertheless. These are the things that we may face in our lives in the future.

After an hour or 2 ride from KLIA, we finally reached Berjaya Times Square.

Nice hotel, yo... It's a 5-star hotel and convention centre frequented by many foreigners. ESPECIALLY people from the Middle East during 'Arab Season'.

Here, we have Leah talking to Derren in the lobby. NOTE: I really wish I could have taken pictures of everyone but too bad I didn't get to. So, if you're reading this, my fellow public speakers, please email me or send me a picture of yourself so that I can have a record of all the awesome people I met.

The hotel lobby.

A 'group' picture with Derren and Siang Boon. WHY DID YOU HAVE TO CLOSE YOUR EYES? :(

[i]"C'mon, Peter! Paint me a pretty picture!"[/i]


I wanted to check-in right after getting my 'keys' but I was told that it wasn't ready yet. So, they gave me a complimentary drink at the Broadway Lounge. What a pretty place.

Here we have the 'house wine' used to make cocktails and stuff.

Ah.. this is Joe. He's the bartender there and he's EXTREMELY friendly. He explained to me what are liqours and liqures, etc.. etc.. What a great character. Friendly dude.


Big, big toilet...

...big big bed.

Big big sofa...

...and a big big jail. :( I had this view right outside my window. lol

After taking those pictures, I went off for the briefing at the Manhattan III hall. Eric Lee was the last guy there for the briefing and he brought all of his luggage along thinking he had a place to stay in the hotel. He didn't know that the accommodation is only for outsiders who live outside KL. Anyway, I offered him to share with me in my room because I'm not used to staying in such a big and fancy place by myself. I know it's going to sound and look really weird because I offered a stranger to share a room with me and then only introduce myself to him.


About Victor, he's such a funny dude. Too bad I didn't manage to take any pictures with him because he looks a lot like our very own Yoshua and behaves a lot like him too. Oh, and he's a really funny guy and very very good with English. Hence, he's one of the organisers. Still, he can get really high at times. We all think it's the hunger.

The next day...

Eric and I had to part ways(lol... Victor is so going to jump on this immediately) because the breakfast coupon that was provided was for me alone only. Imagine the look of a small town boy when he gets the chance to have buffet breakfast at a 5-star hotel. If you can't imagine, it's okay. Just look below:

The Big Apple Restaurant at the hotel is such a pretty place too. There are lots of cute waitresses and all of them kept on smiling at me. *ahem* *ahem* Maybe it's the friendly service but still, I missed the opportunity to take pictures with them because I was rushing to get back to the hall for the competition.

Loads of food there and I some how took all the cold food available.

Welcome, to the Grandfinals.

From left: Eric Lee, Nadia, King Chai and Siang Boon(YOUR EYES! Again.)

Once the competition was on the way, I asked my kind uncle who came to help me to take pictures of the finalists speaking. He only took a few. Here, we have Wan Xin. She has a natural sounding accent and pretty friendly, if you ask me.

Here's Nikita.

And Temily!

This one's Jia Hui. His topic is "Attack of the Clones" and it was a very unique take on the theme "Dynamic Earth". Great job, dude! I really admire your creativity and efforts!

And the moment all of you been waiting for.... ME!

Here's more of yours sincerely trying to be funny on stage.

I know you guys want more of me. So, here's me looking really creepy on stage while receiving my 'prize' from Mr. Andrew of HSBC.

The winner is....

ERIC LEE! I'm so happy for you, dude! You were humble and always ready to help.

Group photo!

Mdm. Chan and I.

Uncle and I.

Eric and I.

From left: Umah, K'chai and Madam Faridah.

Umah's been the one I've always been in contact with for this competition and she has been such a wonderful help to me because of all her encouragement and support. If it wasn't for her, I would've pulled out of the competition long time ago. Then, there's also Madam Faridah(or Puan Faridah, as we all call her). She was the head judge for the Malacca centre and she told me that she picked me out of the 44 participants at Malacca because she said my facial expression's very good. I must thank her because without all of her last minute tips, I wouldn't have made it so far. One look at both Umah and Puan Faridah and you can see that both of them have a very friendly and kind face. Whenever I look at both of them, I always see them as someone who is very comforting. Almost like a mother to be. I was so tense and terrified before the Grandfinals until I spoke to Puan Faridah. I really appreciate all the help and support given by both Umah and Puan Faridah. You're GREAT!

We had 'fine dining' for lunch. It was a weird yet hilarious experience. The weird part is this: I've never been to a high class restaurant before, let alone 'fine dining' at a 5 star hotel. So, monkey see, monkey do. I do whatever the person next to me does. That explains why I'm always 1 course behind everyone :p Too bad I didn't any pictures during lunch because it was hilarious the way everyone kept on ribbing on each other. Well... I get ribbed the most. But still, Jackie(Man... wished I got a picture with her too) and Umah insisted that I should be honoured because I keep getting 'personal attention' from members of The Star. Yeah... thanks Victor. lol

Anyway, right after lunch, I had to leave for KLIA because it's quite a distance away from Berjaya Times Square. Here's the 'board' at my boarding gate, B05:

The strange thing is this. If you look at the picture below carefully, you can see that there are roughly 50+ people waiting OUTSIDE the seating area, which is practically empty. My boarding pass said that the boarding time is 4:50PM and by the time I reached the gate, it's already 5:00PM, because I was late due to the rain. What I don't get is that why don't they allow us to seat at the waiting area? Strange people making strange decisions that I may never understand.

The pride of Malaysia. The KLIA Air Traffic Control. The highest in the world, baby...

This is Hamid. What a friendly staff of MAS... I did magic for him and in return he shared with me some of his stories and explained to me interesting facts about the airport that I never knew.

My ride home.

Overall, it's been a great trip and experience for me. Eventhough I didn't make it for the London trip but I felt that I have won more than I have lost. Yes, losing sucks and the flight home was painful because so much hopes were placed on me. But still, if I really think about it, I have gotten myself priceless experience that couldn't be gotten anywhere else and have made so many new friends who are all wonderful and friendly people. I really thank God for this wonderful opportunity.

Keep in mind that this is my very first public speaking competition ever and next year would probably be my last due to age limitations. I was told to try again next year. Well, I will try my best to participate again next year if I'm still alive/around. Now that I have made it so far, ESUM Public Speaking Competition will be well known throughout Kluang and I suppose next year there will be an influx of participants from Kluang. The Star, if there's anyone you should blame for the influx, blame me, alright. ;)

Thank you all for reading my trip report and I hope all of you had as much fun reading as I had during the trip. There are so many things that I couldn't take pictures of and even write due to my poor writing skills. I'm sorry to all of you if I have missed out on taking pictures with you because I didn't have the opportunity to do so. I really hope I could.

Till then, take care everyone!