So we completed our Guards Conversion Course at the same time where the men of 3rd Battalion Singapore Guards 10thMono Intake ended their Basic Military Training (BMT).
The BMT that they went through were the same as the BMT that I went through and mentioned in my earlier post. The only difference was that theirs was in Bedok Camp instead of Pulau Tekong. Their BMT trainers were from Tekong and they had their best times training recruits on mainland.
Now that they have completed their BMT, we would take over the BMT trainers as their commanders. I was assigned as a section commander for Charlie Company Platoon 8 Section 2. Apparently the syndicates that we were assigned to during GCC was according to our would be company attachments. Syndicate 1 would be attached to Alpha Company, Syndicate 2 to Bravo Company, Syndicate 3 to Charlie and Syndicate 4 to Support Company.
Honestly, I didn't particularly enjoy this period of my army life. It was like, no more school. No more courses. No more anyone else to cover us. Work begins now. No more trial and error. An error means an error. No resets, no trials.
Honestly too, I was still hoping to be posted out to a non combat unit. Yes I do enjoy the knowledge learnt, the weapons used, the warfare tactics, but... I am not physically fit. I always struggled and had to play catch up to the standard physical fitness and it was very tiring and depressing. There wasn't much regimentation to be uncomfortable about now as we were in an actual combat unit now and not in a school. But I still wanted out. I wanted to go to a unit where I can book out more often. The idea of staying in camp for 5 and a half days a week for the next almost 2 years was very disheartening. Not to mention that there would definitely be moments that we had to go overseas or doing weekend duties in camp.
Anyway, they said that in the army, we have no choice. “Lan lan”. “Suck thumb”.
So Advance Infantry Training begins.
Basically now we had to train the men under us to the skills that we learnt during Guards Conversion Course. We had to teach them rappeling, train them for 10km runs, teach them how to use the section weapons, the section standard operating procedures, the mission techniques and everything else for them to know as a combat soldier.
There was the coastal swim that we didn't do during GCC. We have to do it this time with everyone together.
I think it was a 4 weeks training and just like us, once they completed the course, they would graduate as Guardsmen.
I can still feel the dread as I type this. I am not as enthusiastic as when I wrote the other posts.
The men graduated and then got their khaki berets and shoulder guards tab. When everything was over, basic training was over. Moving on from this Advanced Infantry Training, it would just be tactical training day in day out. As a platoon or a company or as a battalion. On top of that, physical training continues. IPPT, SOC, swimming, target firing, etc. Same old stuff over and over again to maintain proficiency and readiness.
This post would be the last post for me to write in chronological order. From next week onwards, the posts in this series would be in topics. Well it would still be in some form of chronological order all the way to our ORD date. But do look forward for the parts and more interesting topics coming up.
I just had to get this AIT over and done with.
NEXT WEEK : OUR COOL WEAPONS
Categories : The Army Series
At 40 years old, I found out that I might have been having a neurological condition, though I can yet afford an official assessment and diagnosis. In the meantime I shall call this condition “AS”. I spent time reading about “AS” and it made me realise that the signs and symptoms were prevalent throughout my life. It is like these writers know exactly how I have been living my life though we have never met before. I start this “Weirdly Wired” series to document about my life experiences with the symptoms which all these while I thought were “normal”.
I THOUGHT I WAS A SUPERHERO
When I was a boy, I thought I was a superhero. Just like every other children think. But they didn't look like they think that they were. They only became superheroes or superhuman when they play. They didn't believe that they were during normal times like reading times, eating times, napping times etc. But I did.
I thought I had super senses. Like Superman or Spiderman. I could see things that people couldn't. I could hear things that people didn't. I could smell things that they didn't.
And then I checked with them. “Can you see that?” “Can you hear that?” Can you smell that?”
And they said yes.
So I guess it is just normal and I was imagining things. I grew up thinking everything is normal.
SENSORY OVERLOAD. HOW THE BRAIN PROCESS THEM.
I was disappointed that I am not superhuman and I cannot emulate a superhero. I am just another dispensable person.
But only recently when I read about “AS”, I found out that all those sights, sounds, smell, taste, texture all make sense. Yes everyone can sense them too but how the brain of someone with “AS” process them is different.
And some of it can actually been very, and have been, disturbing all my life.
When I became myopic at the age of 8, I resigned to the fact that I am not a superhero. As it worsen over the years, I had no choice to put on spectacles and keep changing them every year. My “degree” went up to 350 by the time I reached 12 years old.
Like I said, it's not that I can see things that people couldn't. It is how my brain process the things (and information) I sense.
When I was 34, I went for Lasik treatment and have almost perfect eyesight till today. From then on, it reminded me of what I have been seeing.
Let me try to explain.
Have you ever tried taking a photograph of a friend. And while you are trying to get the best composition, other friends try to photobomb. Behind, beside, in front of the subject and they cannot stop moving. They come in and out of the frame. Jump in and out. Making noises and screaming for attention? I'm sure you had.
That is the best analogy I can think of. That is how I see things everywhere around me. At first I thought I was easily distracted. Some people keep saying that I am easily distracted. Some people say I cannot make eye contact.
Yes. Everything around me just jump in and out, screaming for attention. Not in a ghostly or weird manner but.... let's say I am walking along a pavement, I will see a squirrel, a crow, a mynah, a finch, a cockroach, a rat, a lizard, a person crossing the road, a piece of cloth being dried at a nearby block, a flying plastic bag, a car with a dent, a policeman in a car adjusting his spectacles, it just go on. And EVERYTHING is demanding for my attention just like someone trying to photobomb a photo. All of them seem to say, “Look at me!” It is very tiring to ignore that I end up not ignoring. I'll just look at them, let my brain process them and even remember them for minutes, sometimes hours and days. By the time I've finished a few hundred metres of walk, my brain will be overloaded with images and information. Most of the time I get tired, close my eyes and massage my head.
Very similar to my sight. Every little thing that I hear is screaming for attention. It is not that I can hear a pin drop from a kilometre away like a superhuman. It is just that every sound that any other person would ignore, screams for my brain's attention.
Let me try this analogy.
Say you are driving down a road in Singapore. Windows all wound up. You turn on the radio and drive on happily. Actually there are sounds around you that you can hear but you ignore. The engines of other vehicles, the motorbike engines, the pebbles that you drive on, the friction of the road and the tires, the sound of your own engine, the wind, the trees ruffling, construction works, bumps on the road, etc. All these slightly masked by the music from the radio. And then you hear the sound of a horn from somewhere which got your attention and you became alert for that moment of time to see what the horn was about.
You see, there were other sounds but you ignore. Once you hear a horn, your senses heightened. Even though the sound of the horn may not be louder than your radio's volume.
So that is what I am hearing. Every sound around me is like a horn. All sounds jolt me or heightened my alertness to some degree. Every sound screams for attention. While I'm driving, I hear everything that I mentioned above without being able to ignore them. Let me copy and paste.
The engines of other vehicles, the motorbike engines, the pebbles that you drive on, the friction of the road and the tires, the sound of your own engine, the wind, the trees ruffling, construction works, bumps on the road, etc.
But they cannot be masked by the sounds from the radio.
It made me realise also that I don't actually listen to music. I thought I just didn't enjoy it. I realise that they are just more distractions and more sounds screaming for attention. Imagine while driving and with the sounds that I mentioned plus the music, my brain will pick up extra sounds and information from the music such as the bass drums, the bass, the cymbals, the strings, the screeching of the guitar plectrums, the singer's breath, etc.
This is only an example during a drive. Combine the hearing and the sights while driving. I don't know if you can imagine the chaos in my head and how tired I get.
I am not even going to share my experiences on sleeping.
Ok I share a bit.
I get tired so I become sleepy but I keep getting woken up by sounds. I hate the army because of this. The whole bunk is noisy. Worse during reservist. 40 years of getting tired but not able to get good sleep all the time. Imagine living in an HDB flat, 3rd floor, beside a street, a carpark, a coffee shop, a market. I really really badly want to have my own quiet place to stay to finally get a good sleep. But then again I am a peasant in my own country so I most probably end up in another noisy HDB flat.
Just to sum up this part. I cannot ignore any sound and every sound screams like a vehicle horn that begs for attention.
SMELL TOUCH TASTE
I guess you would be able to imagine by now how everything screams for attention. Sight and hearing are hard to control but the other 3 senses can be controlled so I don't really have much issue with them. I don't want to smell, I can cover my nose. I don't want to feel then I don't touch. I don't want to taste then I don't eat.
But I'll just share what I think can be interesting.
I can remember smells. I can associate smells to the last thing I remember of it. The person, the place, the situation. Some very generic ones like, this perfume reminds me of someone. The smell of concrete reminds me of some homes I went. The smell of haze reminds me of the worse haze in 1997 and 2013.
When I was working with ACT3 and I travelled to schools all over Singapore, I remember sharing with my colleagues that certain areas have its own smell. I cannot explain what they smell like but if I smell them again, I can remember. Areas with the most distinct smells are Jurong, Tampines, Bedok, Yishun, and Bukit Batok.
I always thought that I am ticklish. I remember when people tickle me, I would squirm. The sensation will stay with me for hours and I hate it. The only way for me to fight off the ticklish feeling is by screaming and beating the person who tickle me. I would feel this balance in my head and body and I can forget about the tickle. So if anyone tickled me, I would beat the person up immediately.
Some people with “AS” says that they get disturbed by things like clothes label at the collar or the inside of the shirt. For my body, I can feel the constant itch. Everything gets itchy and I just need to scratch or else I won't feel satisfied. Anything can cause an itch. A wind blow, a twitching eye, a person's touch, the clothes label brushing the skin. I've learnt to ignore them but if I have a choice, I would scratch every itch.
Also, when I touch something with my left, I must make sure my right will touch it also or I will feel an unexplainable imbalance. If I touch a lift button with the forefinger of my left hand, I will touch it again with the forefinger of my right hand. If I kick a football with my right foot, I make sure I'll kick it again with my left. If I scratch my right shoulder, I must scratch my left shoulder too.
As for taste, I don't have much issue because as I get older and with certain habits, I am slowly losing my sense of taste. But similar to the sense of smell, I can remember certain tastes and what it reminds me of.
WHEN ALL THE 5 SENSE COMBINE
That's pretty much I can say about my 5 senses. Previously I thought that all these are normal and I am just a weakling and a spoilt brat. I cannot sleep unless it's quiet. I get tired easily. I get distracted.
After reading about “AS”, all these make perfect sense. Just imagine one drive from home to work. All the information that is screaming for attention. I get tired when I reach my destination even though the day has just started. The information that was crammed in my head during the drive get stuck in my head for hours and imagine how many more information get forced into my head from the other hours. Everything I see hear and smell. The annoyance I experience when the things I touched are not balanced. I get tired when I reach home. I cannot have a good sleep because HDB flats have noisy surroundings and then tomorrow is another day.
These are just tiredness from the senses. “AS” terms it as Sensory Overload.
Next week I am going to share about another thing that apparently causes fatigue too.
NEXT WEEK : Masking and Fatigue
Categories : Weirdly Wired
Untuk penulisan blog saya, bagi kumpulan penulisan-penulisan pengetahuan am kali ini, saya akan menulis menggunakan Bahasa Melayu. Walaupun secara zahirnya, saya menaip dan bukan menulis, tapi saya akan tetap gunakan istilah “menulis” dan “penulisan”.
Anda boleh membacanya dengan menggunakan loghat Singapura, iaitu loghat Johor Riau. Saya tidak menulis dengan ejaan seperti “aper” “kenaper” “biler” “kite” dan seandainya, sebab ejaan sebegitu tidak pernah wujud secari rasmi. Namun begitu, anda masih boleh menyebut perkataan “apa”, “kenapa”, “bila”, “kita” dan seandainya menggunakan loghat Riau tanpa terasa terkongkong dengan ejaannya, kerana ejaan dan sebutan loghat tidak pernah berkait. Sepertimana dahulu saya di sekolah, kita tidak pernah ada masalah ini sebelum sebutan baku dikuatkuasa. Dan pada masa itu juga, walaupun sebodoh mana kitapun dalam mata pelajaran yang lain, mata pelajaran Bahasa Melayulah yang akan memeberikan kita markah tertinggi. Tidak ada “ape-ape”, tidak ada baku. Jadi kita tidak pernah ada masalah dengan ejaan.
Perkara yang ingin saya perkatakan dalam penulisan kali ini ialah tentang “Bulan”.
Semenjak ada media sosial pada zaman ini, macam-macam benda yang dapat kita lihat. Sudah beberapa kali saya terlihat gambar bulan tapi saya tidak berkata apa-apa. Tapi hingga ke hari ini, ia terlalu kerap sehingga saya rasa saya patut berkongsi tentang pengetahuan am ini.
Kenapa dengan bulan? Yang saya ingin ketengahkan ialah tentang bulan di siang hari.
Ramai yang sudah melihat dan meletakkan gambar bulan di siang hari di media sosial mereka. Ramai yang kepelikan. Ramai juga yang menyahut dengan kekata-kekata yang memelikkan. seperti:
“sudah hampir kiamat”
“musim panas sudah tiba”
“musim monsoon akan tiba”
“kuasa tuhan akhir zaman”
“putaran alam sudah rosak”
Rata-ratanya, ramai yang tidak pernah melihat bulan di siang hari atau memikirkan bahawa bulan hanya timbul pada waktu malam sahaja.
Bukan akhir zaman, bulan di siang hari sudah ada sejak permulaan zaman.
Bulan berputar mengelilingi bumi dan mengambil masa sebulan untuk membuat satu putaran.
Bumi pula berputar diatas paksinya dan mengambil masa 24 jam untuk satu putaran. Jadi dari itu, kita akan tetap dapat melihat bulan sepanjang hampir 24 jam bergantung pada tempat kita berada dan juga kedudukan bulan pada waktu itu. Oleh sebab ini, kita dapat melihat bentuk bulan yang berbeza-beza pada setiap hari kerana kedudukan bulan ketika ia mengelilingi bumi sentiasa bergerak dan akan hanya ada pada tempat yang sama sekali dalam sebulan.
Ia juga berputar di atas paksinya sendiri dan ini menyebabkan kita untuk hanya dapat melihat setengah permukaannya sahaja dari bumi.
24 jam? Jadi siang hari pun ada bulan? Ya. Sentiasa ada. Tetapi kerana bumi juga berputar, dan jika kita duduk di tempat yang sama di bumi, terutama kita di Singapura yang berkedudukan dekat dengan garisan khatulistiwa, kita hanya dapat melihat bulan selama lebih kurang 12 jam sehari.
Di sini saya letakkan jadual bulan terbit dan terbenam bagi bulan Ogos 2021. Sila baca.
Masa di sini menggunakan cara 24 jam. Bererti 00:00 adalah jam 12 pagi. 13:00 adalah jam 1 tengahari.
Jadi bulan tidak terbit pada waktu malam sahaja. Anggaran masa terbitnya adalah lebih kurang lewat satu jam pada setiap hari dan ia berputar dengan masa begitu setiap satu bulan.
Jika ada yang terlupa, bulan juga seperti matahari, akan terbit di timur dan terbenam di ufuk barat.
Pada 9 haribulan Ogos, bulan akan terbit pada 7:34 pagi dan akan terbenam pada 8:02 malam. Tetapi ia adalah bulan sabit dan mungkin agak sukar untuk dilihat di siang hari kerana terlalu halus.
Pada 15 haribulan Ogos, bulan akan terbit pada 12:30 tengahari dan akan terbenam pada 12:52 malam. Mungkin ini lebih mudah untuk dilihat kerana ia adalah bulan setengah.
Dan begitulah putarannya setiap bulan sehingga hari kiamat. Boleh gunakan Google dan masukkan kekata “moonrise time Singapore” untuk mengetahui lebih tentang maklumat dan pengetahuan am ini.
Juga boleh lungsuri lelaman ini:
Lelaman ini ditulis menggunakan bahasa Inggeris. Namun begitu, saya yakin bahawa lelaman ini tidak memberikan maklumat dari anasir-anasir yang cuba menyesatkan pemikiran dan akidah saya.
Categories : The General Knowledge Series
BACK TO MAINLAND!
Hello mainland! I am back! I was so happy to be back on the mainland that I didn't mind at all to be posted to 3rd Guards. Whatever. Wherever. As long as I'm back. Tekong was depressing. Well at least Tekong has mobile coverage now and the recruits there can bring their handphones. So you see, it should be much better now. And you see why I am writing this series? Because it is so much different now and what we went through then, would just be a myth if we are to tell these experiences to anyone now and in the future.
Circa March 2001. Bedok Camp 2. Home of the 3rd Battalion Singapore Guards. About 80 of us who have just graduated from School of Infantry Specialist (SISPEC) 17th Advanced Section Leader Course (ASLC), stepped foot into the camp. It was spanking new. We would be attached to the 10th Mono intake of recruits who were at that time undergoing their Basic Military Training. Once they complete their BMT, we would also complete or Guards Conversion Course and will be assigned as their leaders. See, it was all planned and set up. Anyway, the camp was spanking new. The previous batch, ie. the 9th Mono Intake started their service in Kranji Camp. Halfway through their service, they shifted to Bedok Camp. When they completed their service, 10th Mono took over. So the camp would most probably be about only a year old. Compared to old army camps that you can imagine, this place is like a heaven to stay for the next 1 year 9 months. With new blocks, beds, toilets, facilities, etc. The guys from 3rd SIR across the field could only watch in envy.
We were then separated into 4 groups of about 20 persons each group which were called “syndicates”. They had fancy names then. A “syndicate” means a group or section. The trainers were called “cadre”s. I was grouped in syndicate 3.
Our Guards Conversion Course would last 4 weeks. There is an online video series if you google Guards Conversion Course. It is not exactly what we went through but it was somewhat similar. So maybe you can have a look at the videos. As for me, I only have diminishing memories in my head as we didn't have digital cameras then. Interesting thing about our course then was, it was the first time for the formation to experiment a “Gentlemen's Course”. Supposedly they were going to treat us trainees as “gentlemen” instead of the usual dreaded “tekan” course. Well, after SISPEC, I guess this was a nice change and welcome. Maybe this Guards Conversion Course (GCC) won't be so torturous after all.
There were a number of requirements for us to complete in order to graduate from this course. If I'm not wrong, they were
10km run within 50 minutes.
Helicopter, tower and cliff rappel.
2km Coastal Swim
Guards Assault Course
For administrative or logistical reasons, we would not complete the coastal swim during the course but we would do it later in the year together with our men from 10th mono intake.
We were welcomed by HQ company sergeant major, Staff Sergeant Saygar. He had this distinctive way of walking and talking. Numerous badges on his uniform. A commando and a guardsman. Cool character. We all had a kick of imitating him and apparently I was the only person who could imitate him as close as possible.
As mentioned, we would be there for 4 weeks. It was still a 5 and a half day work week then, meaning we would book out on Saturdays and book in every Sunday evenings. Even though I could only see civilisation for 1 and a half days a week, at least we were on mainland. A public bus stop just outside the gates.
Staff Saygar said that, not only would this be a “Gentlemen's Course” (his favourite phrase was “all of you are all commanders level”) we could also come to camp in bermudas and sandals. That was kind of cool. Polo T, bermudas and sandals to book in. Unlike other army camps in Singapore. We were also told to bring sporty shades for training. Bedok camp was by the sea so to us, it kind of had the beach camp vibes. A few days later, they even set up a small “shop” with retailers from ASICS and Oakley to sell us running shoes and sport shades at a heavily discounted price. Yeah it was kind of cool.
10 KILOMETRES RUN
So 1st requirement. To complete a 10 kilometres run within 50 minutes. We went through a number of running training before we had to go through this test. As Bedok Camp was just beside East Coast Park, our running training was held there. So if you were there at that time, you would see these boys, running bare bodied in running shorts, Asics shoes and Oakley shades. Either running at our own pace or as a large group. Quite a cool image. Not only it was for the image, but it actually brought the soldiers' morale up. We had pride in our training and of course none of us would want to look like weaklings running in public. I still hate running though.
Anyway me and a couple of others could never meet the timing of 50 minutes. Tried as hard as we might, I just couldn't clock below 50 minutes. My buddy, Nurizam, even piggy backed me for hundreds of metres just so I can catch my breath while gaining ground but I still could not make it. I think my fastest time was 50 minutes 20 seconds. Irritating I know. Yes for the whole of my full time NS life, I never gotten below 50 minutes. In a sense, I failed the commanders test of 50 minutes but I completed the course as Guardsman because the time set for the other soldiers was 60 minutes. So because of this, I served my vocation in a Guards unit but I only got my khaki beret and shoulder guards tab a year later after the unit turned operational.
I was looking forward for this. What made me excited to be in the Guards unit is that I will get opportunities to do rappeling. One of the officers said that Guards units are either seaborne or airborne and it depends on your intake. Luckily for us, ours was the airborne intake. The next batch will be the seaborne intake. I'd rather be in a helicopter than on the RPL in the sea.
In GCC we were trained in 3 situations of rappeling. One was tower rappel where we already tried in SISPEC. But here we learnt different styles (we called it stunts). There was the normal tower rappel meaning we go down the tower backwards facing the wall, there was the Australian rappel where we would go down face first. There was also the inverted rappel where we go down head first.
The other was the cliff rappel which had the normal rappel and Australian rappel. Additional stunts were the hasty rappeling. It is the kind where we didn't have carabiner to coil our ropes. It was just ourselves and a rope and we go down the cliff sideways. We also had a buddy rappel where we piggy back a buddy (as if they are casualties) and we rappel down with him. The cliff rappel lessons were done on this cliff in Changi.
During my first hasty rappel attempt, which was scary as we didn't have a carabiner to coil our ropes, I kind of panicked and lost my footing and posture. I held on to the rope for my dear life midway down the cliff and was hanging there facing the cliff with my feet dangling downwards. I didn't know what to do. Our Regimental Sergeant Major, Warrant Siva, shouted from below asking me to get my posture right and be brave. But I kept hanging there. He laughed via the loud hailer and kept shouting, “Faster get your footing la! You want to hang there for how long?! Macam cicak la!!” I finally got my footing and rappeled down. He laughed when I was at the bottom, saying I looked like a cicak (gecko). From that day onwards until the end of my NS days, he called me Anwar Cicak Man. This was in 2001. Way before the CicakMan movie in 2006 that was acted by Saiful Apek. Coincidentally a doppelganger.
Last one was the most exciting. A heli rappel. We would rappel down a Super Puma helicopter in groups of 4. Go google “Guards Heli Rappel” and you would see what I mean. The helicopter would hover 90 feet in the air as the ropes were only 100 feet long. 100 feet up in a helicopter at Sembawang Air Base, I could see my block of flats before rappeling down.
Web logs of art activities on a regular basis (hope).