Penang aku datang!

Last week I attended a 5-day workshop on women, freedom and religion co-organised by Malaysian Centre for Constitution and Human Rights (MCCHR) and Sisters in Islam (SIS). The workshop was held in Penang at Golden Sands Resort, a 4 star hotel (I think it used to be 5 star. Not sure why it was downgraded).

The resort was right by the Feringgi beach (I always love beaches). I remember back in 2010 when I joined my firm for a trip to Rasa Sayang Resort. People were saying, “Oh you know, Golden Sands Resort next door is actually a much better hotel. Too bad we are not going there.” Or something along that line. And 6 years later, here was my chance to experience the Resort!

OK let me explain. Of course the real reason I participated in the workshop was because the topic is very important (no really I’m serious! And more on this later), but a great workshop venue is always a bonus kan? Teehehe!

Ah, the sun, sea, sand and the sky above…

We were given a room to ourselves. Very spacious and nicely decorated – a blend of modern and traditional elements. My only issue is that the floor was not carpeted (but the hallway was carpeted, tak ke pelik tuh…). I think it would make a much cosier room if it was fitted with carpets.

My room for 5 days 4 nights.
My room for 5 days 4 nights.

The buffet down at the cafe was fantastic. I would have loved to spend more time sampling all the food they had to offer (who wouldn’t?) if not for our packed schedule. One thing you cannot help but notice is that most of the hotel guests are from the Middle East. The hotel even included Middle Eastern dishes in the buffet mix. When you go for a walkabout outside the hotel, you will see Middle Eastern restaurants and other places also catering to them. I guess they form the bulk of the tourists in the area.

The workshop was pretty intense, so there wasn’t much time to go gallivanting around as much as we all would have loved to. We were given 2 thick bundles for reading and references. Some of us were given reading task where we then need to present a summary of the reading to the rest the next day. My reading task was a chapter about gender stereotyping by Rebecca J Cook and Simone Cusack. Oh man, it was not exactly an easy reading and it hits me how rarely I read academic materials. I had to read the article out loud to myself to better understand.

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I was teamed up with Dorian and Adriene. We thought, hmm… let’s not be boring. Let’s present our summary in a moot court style. After some discussions, we did just that and everyone seemed to love it, so I think it was a job well done. Yayy! (Cue: masuk bakul angkat sendiri).

Court is in session.
Court is in session.
See how passionate I was. Haha!
See the passion. Wows!

I am glad to have participated in the workshop because I think it is so important and crucial to get your foundation right. The workshop brought together 20 or so participants who were either from legal or NGO background, and everyone I think are involved or had done some work on issues related to the focus of the workshop. Often whenever I was asked to speak or comment on related issues, there are times I feel I could have conceptualised my points better but I feel somewhat limited in my knowledge and the “correct language” to use on issues concerning women, freedom and religion.

I am also glad to have joined the workshop as I met many wonderful people who are very dedicated to activism and passionate to make a change. I appreciate sharing knowledge and enjoy trading stories with them. Cliché but really, meeting them is a humbling experience and inspires me to do more. Very happy that we are all still keeping in touch with each other after the workshop (thank God for WhatsApp group!).

Emily said she wanted to try out parasailing. Of course, I jumped at the idea! I had never try it before and it looks so fun! So we went on the 4th Day of the workshop. Man, I was nervous. I don’t know how to swim, you know. They gave us life jackets to wear, but still… They strapped you on some safety harness so you are basically hanging in the air flying one big round depending where the speed boat down below wants to take you. The feeling of hanging high up on air only by that safety harness was quite unnerving, but the view from up there was simply breathtaking. I saw the sea and beyond on one side, and the green mountains on the other. Too bad I didn’t think of taking any photos from up there, but Andi was such a sport she helped take photos from the ground. Thanks Andi! Although my landing was less than graceful, and she took photographic evidence of that too T_T

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The next day (and the few days after) my whole body ached and my back was hurting too. It didn’t help that Aneera was telling about all kinds of injury one could suffer from parasailing =_____=

Well, I am happy to report the aches and pain are no more =)

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