Ending a Splendid 2013 with 3 teeth yanked out and a revelation!

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Got a revelation when I had my wisdom teeth extracted before X’mas this year. It wasn’t about the process of the extraction. It’s the trepidation that you will be getting 3 of your biggest teeth yanked out by a person whom you had only met briefly prior to the surgery. The last thing I was told before I entered the clinic was, ‘Dear, remember this. You are always scared but you always do it.’ The words of my fiancé.

He is right. Even in 2006, I decided to walk into JFF knowing full well that this is going to an extremely slimy business. And I have to admit. It’s ain’t easy. Many challenges I have faced then, I’m still trying to grapple with them now.

Even up till last week, I was telling my customers I’m not the boss la. I’m working for my father. Simply put, all I wanted to do when I decided to join this company was to help my father and make things better and perhaps easier for him!

I realized that my aspirations then have been clouded by the challenges in this second generation business. The short land leases, old school employees, working methods and processes, even the very location of this farm which made it hard for hiring. Day to day activities became fire fighting!

What are my aspirations?
I wanted JFF to be part of every child’s learning journey; not only to learn about the magical world of American bullfrogs but also to know of this part of Singapore’s agriculture history that JFF has grew in the name of progress and prosperity in Singapore. In another words, I wanted JFF to be well known. I wanted my father’s hard work into building Singapore’s only frog farm to be known to all Singaporeans through their children.

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Now growing up with frogs, it was generally assumed that I must be a good swimmer. But I’m not. I only know basic strokes and to stay afloat by lying on my back. Yet, I have rafted 40 km down Zambezi River, floated along with crocodiles basking in the sun. In this picture, the raft has turned turtle and i’ve already been thrown into the meciless choppy water.

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Plunged into the Devils Pool on top of Victoria Falls.

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For land adventures, I have also trekked up fox glacier in New Zealand,

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climbed up Table Mountain (3563 ft) through the Skeleton Gorge (a amazing albeit gruelling 5.5 hrs of trotting, rock climbing, hiking, trudging!)

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I have also trekked up Mount Ophir this year; Walk barefooted in rivers to hunt for caves and dive down sand dunes in Vietnam. Who would say no to a good adventure!!

Each of these activities, i have walked in with trepidation, yet walking out feeling victorious. In short, now with 3 teeth lesser, I’m going to face 2014 with even greater courage and now taking more ownership to reach out to more people about the existence of this farm and its heritage.

The next time you see me in JFF, I’m going to tell you I’m heading the department of Frogologists. (:

Enjoy the remaining hours of 2013 and lets’ all face 2014 with grit and make next year truly an adventure of a lifetime!!

p.s. obviously there is a hint of Mitty in this post! Watch the movie and be as inspired!;)

Best,
Chelsea Wan
Frogologist of JFF ( Head)

DAY 2: Traveling to Vijaywada

We were given a de-brief first thing in the morning. Many hindu rules and practices were explained to us. Wats ironic in my mind is that men to take care of the ladies in India. Like how our fellow delegate Hapsibah has a male  farmer to follow her around to make sure she is all right. In Singapore’s context we might call that being over protective and just for sharing, there’s a social stigma in Singapore that most domestic violence happen more in Indian families then any other races!

We were also told that not only cleavages were a no no, might b better idea to keep the entire chest out of sight – by wearing a scarf! Also tight clothings are absolutely frowned upon. This completely contradicts how Singaporean  Indians wear back at home. I always tot that their saris are one of the most sexy n attractive costume! We were also told to take instructions as they were given, in order for things to move n for us to be safe.

At the international airport, we saw many guards dressed in military clothings. Some of them in the land rover n had a machine gun perched on the open top of the vehicle. That to me is unsettling. As much as we know the reasons behind this defence, some of us were scared stiff! Sadly In the discussion, many delegates feedback that they probably would not travel to this airport or rather to India again due to this uncomfortably tight security check.

Finally reached Vijayawada on kingfisher jet. It was indeed a rollarcoster experience with a pun intended. We were introduced to our Indian guides who took us to our hotel ( the gateway). We were greeted with such warmth n hospitality that I think is truly amazing with the Indian culture! They handed out freshly wrapped, hand held bouquets n bottles of cold water was quickly disseminated to each of us! The Helpers deftly climbed up the already pretty tall bus n tossed all the remaining luggages which couldn’t fit into the small boot on top of the bus!

Spoke to Cassie on the short flight n listened to her sharing about the influx of foreigners in Sydney n competition with vet jobs etc. She was rather candid about the explaining how the Asians always overachieving in results and she’ll be safe n have not problem with it that Sydney always need Vets in the countryside where criteria for entry was not so stringent! 

On the way to visiting a couple of Hindu temples, I sat with Mildred from Zambia, and queried her on her experience in Singapore.  She then shared how rice is only eating on special occasions, corn flour mix was eating as staples, and at times rice could be only  eaten with sugar. while we have tried to play a good host, I did wondered if we could have practiced some LOHAS value by serving the meals in smaller portions ( simply because we human are not like cows! We do not need to eat by the gallons!!) 

The day came to a close with a big Indian traditional dinner which I practiced eating with my fingers! It was fun in the beginning but towards the end, OMG. Cementing ( as Anna put it) the rice with buffalo curd and den scoffing it down your throat was far from a pleasant experience. The FANTASTICALLY delicious Meal at the beginning, felt like a OMG. It is SO ENOUGH. 

We then took a short walk back to the hotel. I was still keeping my eyes open for a Chinese person.

Interestingly, i Did meet this chinese person who also turned out to be a fellow Singaporean in the hotel lift!

‘hi! For 2 days i’have been looking out for a chinese! Did not expect to meet a Singaporean here!”

‘ So which company do you work for?”

‘ jurongfrogfarm’

“Jurong wat?”

” frog farm”

“Sorry, I beg your pardon?”

‘F-R-o-g’ 

Blank look…. The end.

Before I end off,  issac, the very very sweet GHanian, gave me some of their local goodies- pouch, bangle, earrings, keychain from Ghana which reads “Greetings from Ghana the land of Gold”. Its so True with Issac being the ambassador for his country. He is truly a GEM n i’m totally touched.