Sunday, April 18, 2010

An Inspiring Blog - "My PCL Surgery"

I wrote an entry a while back about an injury to my PCL which occurred during a rugby practice (my blog entry titled My Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) Surgery). I wrote about the experience and my strife towards recovery after I decided to undergo a knee reconstruction surgery. The surgery has helped to improve my condition tremendously, although the journey to get to where I am today has been nothing but a real challenge.

Not long after I jotted in my PCL story, I stumbled upon a wonderful blog about a lady who experienced a similar situation. The blog rightfully known as “My PCL Surgery” outlines in great details her personal journey to recover from a PCL surgery. Known as "Skinnygurl" in her blog, the lady has captured the attention of people from the world over through her inspiring stories about her daily battle to get better after the surgery. I consider myself as one of her many fans now, and I draw a lot of strength and inspiration from her stories to move me forward in my own struggle towards recovery.

She has been kind enough to feature my PCL story in her blog. You can find her blog entry about me here. But more importantly, please take some time to browse through her stories in the blog. Her effort to document in intricate details her progress is really admirable as it clearly portrays her utter grit and determination to beat the injury. Her stories have definitely inspired me and I am hoping to do my bit to promote her blog to others. So, if you know anybody who is suffering from a PCL or an ACL injury, please introduce him/her to this blog. I hope this blog, “My PCL Surgery” which belongs to a friend of mine “Skinnygurl” will benefit others the same way it has benefited me. Thanks.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

My 5 Day Trip To England

What the trip was about - AW159 aka the Wildcat

I just got back from a for 5 day trip to go to England. I was invited (together with my boss) to attend a seminar hosted by a company to introduce it's newly flown helicopter called the AW 159. The helicopter is another variant of the Super Lynx currently operated by the Malaysian Navy, only better and further enhanced in many aspects. The helicopter first flew in November 2009, and I was glad to I be amongst the 70 plus delegates from at least 10 countries who were privileged to witness the helicopter in flight.

The 13 hour flight to London was long, and I always find it hard to sleep in a long haul flight like that. The new seat called “Flatseats” by Skytrax that could be inclined all the way to become a bed did help, but still my sleep was restless. As a result, between the two round trips, I ended up watching three movies (The Twilight Saga-New Moon, Confession of A Shopaholic & the marathon Avatar) and managed to read a Dan Brown novel called Deception Point half way through.

A "Flatseat" similar to the one that housed me for 13 hours

The weather was not on my side as it rained almost the whole time. A typical English weather and a really wet one for sure. I was put up at a nice hotel called the Sumer Lodge at a small village called Evershot in Dorset. The village has a registered population of 181 and as the website mentions, “This population includes children, but not hotel workers and other temporary residents who do not get themselves on the electoral roll”. Despite its location, the hotel was extremely nice. Everything was impeccable, from its decorations which were given intricate touch to the last little details, to the staff who would go the extra mile to make you feel really pampered. The hotel had a fair share of brushing with movie celebrities as it was used to accommodate casts of the movie “Sense and Sensibility” and Gwyneth Paltrow was also there while filming the movie “Emma”. Hah..hah...had to look up this info in the internet after seeing Gwyneth’s photo proudly displayed on the hotel wall.

What the Summer Lodge would look like on a beautiful day

The best shot of the hotel building during my stay...shortly before heavy rain set in

I was mesmerised the moment I the hotel lounge

My posh English room

The Conservatory where I enjoyed a wonderful English breakfast

Gwyneth's photo was on the hotel's wall

The seminar was a long one day event. The whole morning session was crammed with presentations and talks by various people who gave us insights to the project which was developed to provide replacement helicopters for the UK Mod Navy & Army Lynx fleet. Immediately after lunch we were ushered to the flight line for a wonderful 15 minutes of standing in the rain session to watch the Trial Helicopter’s flight demo. It was wonderful but since the helicopter was fitted with the same engine as our navy’s Super Lynx and looked somewhat the same, the flight profile was nothing new to me. It was the gadgets inside that I was interested to know more about. Cold and a bit damp, we then went in for a closer look at the helicopter inside the hangar which was fortunately nice and warm. Apart from seeing the various systems fitted to beef up the aircraft, we were also introduced to some of the major systems manufacturers who gave further illustrations of what their equipments were capable of. The day was concluded with visits to the simulator and the training centre. As a whole, the event succeeded in showing the AW 159 or Lynx Wildcat as a lean and mean fighting machine for the UK Mod. The question that remains to be answered is whether it can be a lean and mean machine for the potential foreign customers as each has its own set of requirements and specifications. Unfortunately folks, the whole premises were understandably highly restricted and nobody was allowed to take photos except for the company’s designated photographer. So I have no photos for the seminar to share.....bummer.

The formidable UK Army and Navy versions of the Wildcat

Tired and still a bit jetlagged, the suggestion by our host Peter to dine at a local pub that evening was a very welcomed gesture. The dinner at this only pub in town called the Acorn Inn was very relax and cosy, thanks to the law that prohibits smoking in public and work places. It was a wonderful evening in the company of a kind host, great food and equally great company.

The cozy and smoke free Acorn Inn

A nice evening out in the little village's pub

My work was not over as the following day I was scheduled to meet with the company’s Customer Support representatives to discuss various issues related to our Super Lynx. I told our host Peter that the meeting should not take more than one and a half hour but as it turned out, we took a good extra one hour to finish it. Wow...two mugs of coffee and almost non-stop discussion, I didn’t anticipate that.

The company's Customer Support team that has worked closely with me

With that meeting over and done with, there was no more work to worry about and it was time to make a quick trip to a factory outlet called the “Clarks Village” located about 30 minutes drive away. A fairly small factory outlet, and as the name reflects, the main attraction is obviously Clarks shoes at factory outlet prices. There were many other brands there including Cotton Traders, Timberland, UCB, Marks & Spenser, Adidas, Nike etc. After two hours of “quick” shopping, we were driven to London to check-in at a Malaysian hotel called the Holiday Villa.

The Clarks Village is well known for its guess it, Clarks shoes:)

It was well after 7pm when we arrived at the hotel, just in time for a quick change before going down to the restaurant next door called Lagenda Restaurant. It was a “balas dendam” session as I devoured a whole plate of Nasi Goreng Kampung and a side order of fried chicken, which were nicely downed with Soy Bean Cincau and then, Nescafe Tarik. The evening was while away with watching a football drama on TV featuring Arsenal's great come back to level Barcelona 2-2 in their first leg of the Champions League quarter final.

The Holiday Villa Hotel

The Nasi Goreng Kampung at the Lagenda Restaurant was a much welcomed treat

Based on our flight details, we had until late afternoon the next day to see a little bit of London and a short “tour” of the famous Oxford Street. The early morning was nice with lots of sunshine when we made our way to the nearest Tube station. The early spring scene at the St James's Park was beautiful as we took a stroll from Buckingham Palace to the Horse Guards, and then slowly finding our way to the Houses of Parliament and the Thames River. The weather took turn for the worse when we arrived at the Oxford Street. But it didn’t dampen our spirit and our tired legs were push to pave almost the whole stretch of the busy shopping street to look for bargains....not that we had much money to spend anyway. We had to brave the rain at the end as we made our way back to the Holiday Villa just in time to pack all our stuff and take a nice long shower. The transport from the Embassy arrived right on time and we were on the way to the airport shortly after 6pm.

Early spring at the St. James's Park

At the Horse Guards

Big Ben looming in the background

Basking in the hustle and bustle of the Oxford Street

I got home shortly after midnight on Friday. It’s been a nice trip and I’m glad to be back with my beloved wife and kids again. I have to write a report of the trip now, minus all the details about hotels, the Clarks Village, the spring scene in London and the tour of the Oxford Street of course. I was rewarded upon my return with a fine rugby match as my Navy ORCA boys overran their opponents 34-0 this afternoon. The 5 day trip to England is history now........I can smell it’s going to be a chaotic week come Monday.....I can’t wait!!!!!