Entries for December 2005

Survivor Brunei

I’ll be going to Brunei on Jan 3, 2006 for a ten days jungle orientation course. This would be my first time embarking on an overseas outfield exercise and I believe many of us are certainly not looking forward for this trip. When we were first told of this trip, many were shocked as we were told in such a short span of time. Eventually, I decided to take things easily and have a more positive outlook.

I headed down to beech road early in the morning and spend quite a little to get many outfield gears such as hammock and bungee cords as we were told that it is not advisable to sleep on the ground there. We have also been told that the living conditions there would not be as luxury as compared back in here and I’ve already mentally prepared myself for that.

Hope that things will go well and I look forward to complete the exercise and return to Singapore on Jan 12, 2006.

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Life in new camp

The day when I reported to the Home of Combat Engineers in Nee Soon camp, I told myself that this will be another fresh beginning of military training and I’ll have to have a more positive thinking and look forward for the training. The engineer’s headquarters was a few hundred meters away from the guardhouse and I thought this was similar to SAFTI MI. After the initial registrations and settling into my bunk, I was “welcomed” by the previous occupant of the bunk (senior cadets) where they left a piece of note with advice together with three pairs of epaulettes as a form of blessing.

Unlike when I first enlisted into OCS where all our personal stores were properly laid out, this training wing seems to be unprepared for our arrival. We were told to purchase our own PT-attire and admin T-shirt (No. 6) as they will not be issued by the unit. Furthermore, we had to sort and collect our own stores and pr’ecis within a short period. I believe all of these should have been prepared in advance instead of us having to do it personally.

Anyway, here’s a breakdown of my first week in Engineering Training Institute (ETI).

Day 1: We spent the entire morning sorting out and unpacking our personal stuff. Thereafter, there was a course opening by the Commanding Officer (CO) as well as an introduction of the various coaches (instructors) by the Officer Commanding (OC) of Engineer Officer Cadet Course (EOCC), Cadet training wing. Although the weather looks gloomy, we continued with the familiarization run which didn’t really seems like one because we simply ran and sing along without being introduced to the various landmarks. I wasn’t exactly pleased with the way things were conducted as it soon started to rain heavily with lightning and we did a total of 150 push-ups and 60 crunches. The lesson we had to take away was “Overcome fatigue and work as a team”.

Day 2: Had a so called “excursion” where we visited the Armored Engineer Training Centre and 30 SCE (30th Singapore Combat Engineers) unit to learn more about it since we were told that many will be posted out for seven weeks of specialized training in various engineering unit.

Day 3: As usual, we had IPPT categorization test. From the way OC sees how we cadet conduct the IPPT cat test, he told us “Everything must have a proper form of structure in order for things to work”.

Day 4: First book out – except that we booked out at 2345 hours. Before book out, there was the usual standby bed as well as a summary test on what we have learnt for the week. We were told that unless we pass the test, we would not get to book out. It seems like it is a tradition for engineers to book out (or even) work late into the night.

Before I forget, there’s this seven-minute thing that was mentioned. This means that we will have frequent turnouts and everything (field pack inspection) is expected to be laid out within seven minutes — regardless of where you. Besides this, we were told that engineers do not really sleep as they work best at night. Hence, this explains the 2300-hour Routine Order timing as well as the 2359 lights out timing on “normal” days. Looks like life as an engineer isn’t going to be that enjoyable after all!

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Snowballed

During my first year in the polytechnic, my course manager used to say

The amount of knowledge and projects you are going to do during this three years will be challenging and intensive. If you do not put in enough effort to clear every assignment given to you on time, there is going to be a snowball [1] effect and eventually, you will find yourself doing three-and-half years of diploma while most of your fellow peers here will graduate within three years.

These words stayed in my heart throughout my three years in the polytechnic. Whenever I find myself lack of motivation to work on or complete my assignment and projects, I would just think of what he had said and things will get back right on track.

Speaking of which, it seems that I’ve gotten myself a huge snowball to clear – in terms of the outstanding number of weblog entries yet to be drafted/published and some features that was suppose to have been in placed since the relaunch of this site. I used to put the blame on time constraints due to military training and some other factors but during this few days, I’ve realized that the problem lies with distractions. I’m not one of those who gets easily distracted but sometimes, my mind just wonder off and I thought I’ve not put in enough effort to work on a task I’ve set out to do. Nevertheless, I’ve straightened things out and have gotten my thoughts organized once again.

Stay tuned for more updates with respect to both entries and features in the works.

[1] To cause to grow or increase rapidly.

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Merry Christmas!

Ho Ho Ho. Merry Christmas to everyone out there!

It has been a few days since my block leave started on Wednesday and I’m glad to be home! Since enlisting into National Service, I have not really stepped out to the civilian world except to and from camp. Yesterday, I actually went downtown to do some shopping and I was surprised to see how much have changed since the last time I visited places like Bugis, Orchard and Raffles.

I guess Christmas would be a good time to spend with one’s family though I don’t really celebrate Christmas. But a good meal or even watching an excellent movie at home definitely makes the day!

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Farewell march

As a farewell march for Service Term and for those posting out to support arms, we marched 23km last night. This was part of our senior bar presentation ceremony, which was suppose to be held before sunrise and on top of a knoll in the SAFTI live firing area. It was a good march with excellent scenery, less the humidity and the occasional drizzle. By the end of the march, my foot was sore but it wasn’t as bad as the 16km road march, which I participated few weeks ago.

Today, I’m no longer a junior cadet. There will be more tough training ahead in the professional term as I’ve been posted to the Combat Engineers (CE) vocation. When I tell people that I’ve been posted to CE, their first reaction is “siong”. Let’s see what’s lining up for me when I report to my new unit in Nee Soon camp on Dec 27.

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Cohesion night

Alpha Wing Cohesion

I’ve never really attended any formal social night event in my entire life and this is one of the first time I have to find a date for my social night (Wing Cohesion Night) event in the Officer Cadet School (OCS). I guess this event proved to be of good exposure of what socializing and entertainment is all about as I begin my journey into officership or even adulthood. Still, I would prefer not to socialize as much if possible except for events like this, which I’m left with no choice except to attend.

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Completed service term

When I first enlisted into OCS Alpha wing, I was apprehensive, anxious and feeling very pressurized and worried. This was because I’ve been told that Alpha is a very “siong” (hokkien for tough) wing as compared to the other Army wings in OCS. I thought that would be a very bad start as I’m not physically nor mentally strong and I’m afraid I might not be able to take the training. I remembered the very first dialog with the Wing Commander in the company auditorium where he presented the wing’s vision, mission and achievements for the last cohort. He mentioned that 14 weeks of Service Term training is going to pass very fast but yet memorable. Back then, I was pretty negative and thought that he must have been joking.

Reflecting upon my thoughts now, what he have said was indeed true! I might have very tough times for the past 14 weeks which I’ve spent in OCS Alpha wing but those were wonderful memories. Be it tough training, confinement, extra duties or even achievements, I’ve developed to be a better person with stronger mentality and attitude.

Here are some of the achievements which I’ve gained throughout these 14 weeks of training, though I did not set out to do in the first place:

  1. Standard Obstacle Course (SOC): 9 mins 10 secs
  2. IPPT 2.4km: 9 mins 59 secs
  3. IPPT: Passed (no difference from BMT due to Standing Board Jump, which affects my overall performance)

Now that I’ve cleared the veto factors for Service Term, which is SOC & IPPT, this few weeks is going to be slower pace of training in camp. Next week would be the wing’s cohesion night as well as the release of our postings to various support arms. I certainly hope Air Force would get me out of infantry, now that I’ve suffered for 14 weeks!

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Training this week

Since the end of the last outfield exercise, we were given more recovery time as well as time to clean our muddy personal stores. This week also marks the start of a sequence of Individual Proficiency Physical Fitness Test (IPPT) as well as Standard Obstacle Course (SOC) for people like me who have yet to clear it.

To think of, I’d actually clocked 9m30s previously and I was just short of that 1 second to clear the mark. Because of this, I have to retake the SOC test till I pass and things aren’t looking good because my body fatigue level is very high. My last attempt was on Thursday and I actually clocked 9m54s. Apart from SOC, I’m expected to clear IPPT at the same time and we will not stop doing till we achieve a gold standard, which is being measured in the following manner:

  1. Standing board jump: 216cm to pass, 234cm for gold
  2. Shuttle run: < 10.7sec to pass, < 10.2sec for gold
  3. Sit up: 33 to pass, 40 and above for gold
  4. Chin up: 6 to pass, 10 and above for gold
  5. 2.4km run: < 9.44sec for gold

It’s definitely going to be a tough journey ahead and all these needs to be cleared in less than 2 weeks time before my Service Term in OCS ends. Otherwise, I might be stucked in infantry during my Professional term or even get out of course!

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Christmas gift

This Christmas, my family decided to invest on a digital camera since our good old Chinon camera isn’t functioning as well as it should and that it is just too troublesome to buy films and eventually send it for printing. Here I present the stylish eye-catching baby of the family:

Nikon Coolpix S3 camera

With a high resolution of 6 mega pixels, 12x optical zoom and a beautiful 2.5-inch display screen, this babe is going to capture precious moments & memories as well as keeping me busy for the next few weeks while I go about snappin’

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