Archive for April, 2008

Swet Goes Cycling

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

What do members of SWET do on a sunny Saturday afternoon? Besides the usual Bukit Timah weekend treks, SWET embarked on something very new last week. We went cycling with our friends round the eastern coastal park connectors.

If you haven’t already learned about the new park connector, it is a 42-km network, built at a cost of $22 million, which links up the popular East Coast Park, Changi Beach Park and Pasir Ris Park, and other parks in the east, such as Bedok Reservoir Park.

Jane and myself started from my house to Macs at ECP where we met Esther, Yi Hui, Marzuki, Jaspal, Chu, Simon and Sze Wei. I must say that it was a really leisurely and enjoyable ride. (except for some who had to cycle on $6/hr bikes with gears which were virtually impossible to switch and seats which were too impossibly huge)

The entire route was extremely scenic except for some parts where we had to go through the town centres and weave through the crowd. ( That really reminded me of the time we were cycling in Chengdu, China to get to the panda reserve after our ice climbing) Apart from that and a few minutes of getting lost around Expo area, the entire ride was extremely smooth. We even got to stop at Changi Village Hawker Centre for refreshments.

Personally, I do not cycle around the roads in Singapore much. Namely because of the number of accidents pp keep warning me about. But this cycling trip has boosted my interest in using biking as a means of getting round the country instead of simply as a leisure activity.

I read this line by Ted Turner in the papers recently about the inefficient use of resources: We have a 200 pound person driving a 4000 pound car to get a quarter pound hamburger.

Isn’t it so true? Aren’t we guilty of wasting resources/energy just to make things easier for ourselves? So this cycling trip has in some way influenced me to bike, walk and take public transport more in a small bid to do a part for the environment.

Now what’s next in our SWET leisure calender, you ask? That will have to be blading round the park connectors.

Photos later….

u+ i

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008

A conversation with Esther set me off thinking.

She remarked: ‘If not for Everest, we would not have known each other.”

And that started off when we were talking about the different clubbing crowd in both Zouk and St James, and that I would have been classified as the ‘unglam’ party, a group that would probably not mixed with her ‘cool’ party.

Well, it is kind of strange how people of different shapes and sizes and personalities got together because of one mountain.

Is it a mountain or the passion to make a dream come true that brought the six of us together?

Working in a team of such diverse backgrounds is not easy, especially when all of us are equally self opinionated and hold very strong opinions of certain issues. Heated discussions are getting more regular with each important decision to be made.

Over the years, I was able to experience the shifts in our team dynamics, following the Bruce Tuckman description of group development. Forming-Storming-Norming-Performing, how our group started off being civil to each other 4 years ago and now that we can express our dissatisfactions at each other, yet at the end of it, know that we can still count on each other to see the team through.

Still remembered when I made a mistake in the team, and after receiving all the chiding from my team mates, Joanne ended her scolding with a sms: “We still love you.” And Lihui was gracious enough to forgive for my blunder. Their gestures truly warmed my heart.

From Storming Stage, we moved on to our Norming Stage where we set ground rules on communications and expression of views amongst others. It is kind of interesting that my team gave me the feedback that I should not stop trying to convince them until all of them understand what I am trying to say. A tall order for someone who is quite taciturn in nature but I guess that if good quality decisions have to be made, a certain level of good quality conversations would have to take place.

What does it mean to be part of this high performing team? Is it just to come together, raise enough funds, climb the mountain and call it quits?

I think what held us together is more than just a mountain, more than the passion to make our individuals’ dream come true, but rather the quiet acknowledgment that a team has the power to move and change things. Our unity brought the best and worst out of us as we stay in close quarters under extreme conditions in the mountains and at sea level, the constant balance between work, training and fund raising.

Margaret Meade said “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Indeed, that is what our team believed and till date, we have engaged the youth through our school talks and sharing our journey, in the hope that they would climb their own Everest. The power to change the world comes from the power within.


Tuesday, April 1st, 2008

It’s a mad rush of meetings and meetings and meetings of late.

Meeting sponsors, meeting potential leads, team meetings, at one stage, we are seeing one another everyday of the week.

It’s crazy but necessary.

In a way, our postponement is a bit of blessing in disguise.

Especially, with all the hubba over the closure of the northern route up Everest and now with the northern expeditions spilling over to the southern side. I can imagine that it can be quite a traffic jam up the ice fall and enroute to the summit.

Nevertheless, a brief respite came about when we saw ourselves on TV in episode 2 of ‘My Secret Sports Identity’. Debe (the producer/ director) and Lau (our cameraman) went to Sichuan to film us in action. Both of them were quite professional in the way that they immersed in their work, trying to understand our kind of training and what it entailed. Despite her first time ice climbing, Debe performed beyond expectations, front pointing her way up effortlessly on the iced waterfall. Lau, similarly inexperienced on ice, gamely anchored himself on a top anchor rope and filmed us.

Debe and Lau in Action
Debe and Lau in Action

Yihui being Interviewed
Yihui being Interviewed

Lau on his way up, with Kim Boon supporting him all the way.
Lau on his way up, with Kim Boon supporting him all the way

We also had an appearance in Rouge in the month of March. Rouge showcasing all the inspirational women in the community. It’s inspiring to listen to all the stories: challenges of all sorts from sickness, to parenting, to disabled community, old age and entrepreneurship. Our team is privileged to be seated among these great women.

Survivors - The Pink Paddlers
Survivors – The Pink Paddlers

What it meant to lead a meaningful life – Mrs Denise Phua
What it meant to lead a meaningful life – Mrs Denise Phua

Who says age defines what we can do - Lady Rocker
Who says age defines what we can do – Lady Rocker

Eye Candy Hunks
Eye Candy Hunks

Ever Charming Eunice
Ever Charming Eunice