Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Originally uploaded by Chook-minder's Lens
A year has passed... and another year has been added to my period of existence in this beautiful world. I am getting older, and after a year, my age could no longer be found in any of the longest calendar month. But honestly, I feel like I’m only on my twenty-fifth.

I do always think that I am younger than my actual age, and I hope that my looks would always do the same. A couple of years ago, a Caucasian acquaintance was surprised when she realized that I am 10 years older than what she had previously thought! While a month ago, a 15-year old Australian bloke working in hardware shop believed that I was only nineteen. I don’t know, of course, if they were lying. I hope they didn’t...

But ageing doesn’t bother me. I may not be earning a lot, but I am sure that day by day I am discovering and learning a lot from this lovely world!

I haven’t been to many places across the globe, but, somehow, I have started to bloom in this humble place where I have been planted; and looking forward to bear many fruits in the later years.

I am not globally renowned like many other guys of my age (eg. Manny Pacquiao) but I am luckily bestowed with scientific knowledge and fortunately blessed with the necessary skills to understand the 'animal world'—a true usefulness in helping creatures that cannot help themselves.

My bank account is unbelievably close to nothing, yet I am sure that every person that I love the most has been whole-heartedly taken care of.

I am still single, but, definitely, not loveless. I have loved, and will continue to love all those who have genuinely given their love to me, as well as those who have brought out all the best in me.

I will never reveal my birthday wish in this page until that wish is being granted. ...but a sound mind and a strong physique, as well as a long life are all I need so I can continue to serve, and fulfil my mission in this world.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Stranger

The Spencer Gulf, Port Agusta, South Australia

I know it's not right, but I have spoken to a stranger... I invited him to my place, took a safety risk overnight. But here I am now, filling a page of this blog.

The final month of the 54-day broiler chicken growth cycle is always very stressful; and during the last days of the batch, my responsibilities become more and more demanding not only because of the physical challenges but also because of the fact that a day after the six sheds get emptied, I am emotionally tortured and mentally pressured to know if my chickens have performed or not. My chickens’ growth performance would directly speak about my work performance.

Well, luckily, for the past three batches my birds have performed. ...and with the 7 to 10-day shed empty and rest period I always have the chance to escape from the poultry farm perimeter, roam in some parts of Australia to relieve all the tensions, and recharge. I actually have a little regret of not thoroughly documenting my travels and adventures in this blog, I hope I could find time in the future.

I was, actually, planning to visit Western Australia this time, but because I’ll be spending a 17-day holiday in the Philippines next month, I had deferred my W.A. trip and decided to visit the second largest city in South Australia, instead. It’s Port Augusta which, excitingly, is pronounced as Port Agata by the indigenous Australians... it is 209 kilometres away from my place. With this trip I believed that I could relax and enjoy without spending a bag of Australian dollars, only a pinch.

My trip to Port Augusta was very educational and entertaining! Through the Wadlatta Outback Centre, I have seen how the Australian continent has metamorphosed for the past 15 million years! I will not promise, but I hope I could share some of these interesting stories in my next entries.

Andrew's map, he purchased it from Indonesia.

I had the chance to visit the tip of the Spencer Gulf and have seen the Great Western Bridge of Port Augusta. And while I was on my way to Woolworth’s supermarket (which was located close to the gulf) to buy some drinks, I saw this not so skinny, long-haired white guy juggling his 3 or 4 coloured balls beside the walkway. With my desire to take photos of some exciting people I see in the place, I immediately headed towards him. I then saw his backpack and camping gears beside him, and a relatively huge map of the world on the ground which was ‘anchored’ to the ground by a book, a compass, etc., and an up-side down hat with some coins in it. I picked and dropped a two-dollar coin in his cap and thought that it would be a little or enough act of kindness before asking if I could take a photo of him.

Then I asked, and he permitted. After the shot, the guy immediately asked a favour if I could send him the photo to his email. I expressed my agreement so he wrote down his email ad on a piece of paper and gave it to me. His name was Andrew Sable from Lithuania.

I then stayed for a little chat, while Andrew continued juggling, and realized that he had been hitch-hiking from his country, to Russia, China, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia! And for that journey, he only had to spend money for his airfare from Indonesia to Perth, Australia and all the rest were free! Just hitch-hiking— stopping truck, private cars, motorcycles along the road and ferries for a free ride! He had been doing it since March and he survived! He has seen almost half of the world for free!

It’s been my desire to see the world, and I thought it was very expensive! Not until I heard the story of Andrew. I have met Bertrand before- a backpacker from France, and Phil from Denmark but they were not doing the same risky adventure like what this Lithuanian guy had been doing.

During our chat, Andrew said he will be heading to Adelaide the next day; of course he will be passing by Port Wakefield—where I live and work. Because I am very interested to know more about his adventure, I told him that he could drop by my place.

I was driving to Adelaide yesterday to go to the Asian grocer and supermarket for my tinola-cooking assignment for the KaBlogs Journal, when a blocked number phoned my mobile. It was illegal when driving, but I answered my phone, and it was Andrew on the line! He was in a camping area in Port Wakefield, and was asking if I’m going to pick him up there. I did a U-turn and drove back to where he was.

I took him to my place, offered a meal, a drink, an internet connection, a washing machine, a shower a warm room (it’s late winter in the southern hemisphere) and a comfortable bed.

Before he went to bed, we chatted and he showed me all the photos he had taken during his journey. He said that, so far, Indonesia, and Australia were number one on his list as the best countries he had ever been! ...Indonesia because people are very friendly despite their limited English-speaking skills, and Australia because of its diversity.

After Australia, Andrew will find ways to proceed to New Zealand; then continue his adventure to the Pacific Islands, parts of the USA, South America and North Africa, Western Europe and then back home. The Philippines was not included on his list, but I will let him experience the Philippines under my roof. We will be going to the Barossa Wine Region later for the Barossa Gourmet Weekend... He was still sleeping in the guest room while I was writing this entry.

I accommodated a stranger. Yes, Andrew was a stranger, but only until I have started to speak to him. After that, he was no longer a stranger, but a friend I believe.

Andrew Sable- the hitch-hiker from Lithuania.
You can visit Andrew's blog and follow him as he discover the world.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The 'Heart', in situ

It’s my first time to visit Riverton, a small town in South Australia known as the heart of Gilbert Valley. As we drove through the main street, there were three art galleries and a few antique sandstone buildings which, I believe, were erected in the mid-1900 when the first settlers arrived in the place.

The hallway in the care home, with handrails on the walls.

Riverton is approximately 85 kilometres southeast of my place. The sealed roads and highways were occasionally pine-lined; and across the endless horizon were the flourishing wheat and barley plantations, and the blossoming canola that creates a patchy artwork of verdant rolling plains and bright yellow hills. As we came closer to Clare Valley and Auburn, there was a very distinct transition of vegetation from a rich, blooming field to those leafless vines and melancholic vineyards...

The residents and the caregiver in the lounge.

I went to Riverton not as a tourist, though, but as a friend. Together with Tony and Jane, and their 3-year old daughter Ella, we accompanied Aling Siony to the Riverton Hospital which is also a centre for elderly care in the region. We visited Charles—Aling Siony’s husband who will be turning eighty-four by the end of this month. Charles has been in the care home for more than a year now, and every time he sees his wife he would say, “I think I’m gonna die...”

I, actually, don’t want to think how Charles and the other residents have survived in the care centre. Don’t get me wrong, aside from the inevitable smell of soaked adult pads, the hospital is very clean and tidy, equipped with a complete range of age-care facilities, and by the looks of it, I can say without second thoughts that the entire building has been regularly maintained inside-out. I believe that every member of the staff is well-trained to run the centre and is competent enough to offer the best care to their residents.

The residents' shared room.

...but it is the sense of belongingness that concerns me the most. The caregivers may have been doing the same job for years—skilled and knowledgeable, but the fact that they aren’t even related by flesh and by blood to their patients is truly an emotional pain for me. Elderly people don’t just need excellent care of their competent caregivers, but genuine love and care which should and could only be given by their own family. There are twenty-two residents in the ‘home’, two of them in each room but they don’t even know the name of each other, and couldn’t even remember the life story of their roommate. A ‘care home’ is not a home!

Charles' walker...
We were sitting in the lounge when Charles asked Aling Siony to take him to his dad. He said he wants to see his father, and his brother. Aling Siony held the hand of his husband and squeezed it, she blushed and dropped a tear... the truth is—Charles’ dad has passed away many years ago... dementia had possibly made him believe that his dad was still alive.

Charles asked Tony to open the built-in case of his walker; he said that there’s a lemon and a grapefruit inside. Tony obeyed, and to my surprise, there were fruits in that box! Charles took the grapefruit, handed it to Aling Siony and said, “This is for you, dear. Take it home.” We soon realized that the fruits have fallen from the tree standing in the backyard of the elderly care centre.

When it was time for us to leave, Aling Siony took the visitors book of her husband so she could sign. The last entry was June 23, 2010—a visit made by herself, Jane and Ella. In the first Sunday of September, Australia will celebrate father’s day. I wish that Charles’ children from his first four once legal wives (but now legally-divorced) will come and say hello to their dad (Aling Siony is the fifth, and the couple hasn’t been blessed with a child).

Charles, Ella (the grapefruit behind her pink backpack), and Aling Siony.

I will be celebrating my fourth birthday in Australia this month. I am definitely getting older and older... in this Land Down Under where the conception and views about elderly care are very different from what we have back home. I have been granted with a permanent resident visa in this country, and with what I have seen in Riverton today, I am reconsidering my plans to achieve the ultimate immigration status down here.

The dining, with the lemon and grapefruit trees outside.

I am looking forward to visit Riverton again, not to see the home for the aged but to explore the town and discover more about the real heart of Gilbert Valley.