Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Shaken, Not Stirred

Whoa! another massive earthquake near Sumatera. Certainly did feel that one, it was like the quake on Dec 26th, except that it didn’t last as long. The quake I felt on Dec 26th came in succession maybe one or two times, this one was just once and was definitely short lived. The feeling I experienced during that quake was akin to having a dizzy spell. I felt faint and my knees felt wobbly, something like when I’m about to present something in a conference. I’ve never experienced an earthquake before and I was surprised at what it actually felt like, even though it was quite mild. I imagined a mild earthquake like that would be like a vibration, something like when you’re near a jackhammer, but it wasn’t like that at all. It was more like a fast and successive, side by side swaying motion. I’m lucky that I live far away from the coastline here in Penang. In fact, my Uni is located on a hill, so I don’t really have to run to higher ground, because I’m already on higher ground.

This time I felt the effects of the earthquake in Sumatera a few minutes after midnight, at 12.09 a.m. Penang is still experiencing a heatwave and it was a relatively hot night, I was trying to stay cool in my student-apartment public TV room, while working on my thesis when it happened. I thought some idiot sitting in the chair behind mine had placed his legs at the back of my chair and was shaking it (his legs and my chair). I turned around to give the idiot behind me a piece of my mind when I realized that no one was sitting there. It was then that I noticed the television shaking in its wall fixture. When I saw this, I just knew that it was another earthquake and everyone had started to leave the room. I grabbed my trusty laptop computer (that contains my very valuable.....my ‘oh-my-god-I could-die-if-I-lose-it’ work) and high-tailed it out of there. Everyone left the building for the safety of the outdoors because, even though the student-apartment is a relatively new building, built for postgraduates students a few years ago, its better to be safe than sorry. It wasn’t that big a quake, certainly very mild compared to what they must have felt in Sumatera, but hey! we don’t experience many earthquakes here in Malaysia, so this quake and the one on Dec26th are new experiences for us.


Earthquakes are rare in malaysia because the 'pacific ring of fire' that runs close to indonesia and other countries around south east asia, avoids malaysia completely. A collection of volcanic arcs and oceanic trenches that partly encircles the Pacific Basin forms the so-called Ring of Fire and this is a zone of frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

Penang was lucky this time around because the quake occurred further south than the Acheh quake. If ever there is a tsunami, the chances are it will not make it as far as Penang, Sumatera and the surrounding islands will take the brunt of it. At least that’s what I’ve read from the news on the net. I pray to god that this quake and its aftershocks will not generate another destructive tsunami like the one that claimed so many lives in December. However, now, the second time around, the whole experience wasn’t as scary, because, when the earthquake happened back in December, I had never experienced a quake before. Back then, I thought that maybe the building was unstable and was collapsing, THAT was scary because it was something unknown. This time I knew what it was and I was much calmer. All in all, I was shaken but not stirred.

4 Comments:

At 29/3/05 11:06 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad to hear you survived your first encounters with earthquakes; they can be scary. However, I find there is an exhileration that accompanies the surrender of control albeit involuntary. It's abit like riding a roller coaster without paying the admission. In Tokyo , you feel at least one every other week. We had a large ceramic cat jump off a cabinet and break into a thousand pieces. quite startling to say the elast.

 
At 29/3/05 11:06 am, Blogger Digger said...

Glad to hear you survived your first encounters with earthquakes; they can be scary. However, I find there is an exhileration that accompanies the surrender of control albeit involuntary. It's abit like riding a roller coaster without paying the admission. In Tokyo , you feel at least one every other week. We had a large ceramic cat jump off a cabinet and break into a thousand pieces. quite startling to say the elast.

 
At 29/3/05 11:06 am, Blogger Digger said...

Glad to hear you survived your first encounters with earthquakes; they can be scary. However, I find there is an exhileration that accompanies the surrender of control albeit involuntary. It's abit like riding a roller coaster without paying the admission. In Tokyo , you feel at least one every other week. We had a large ceramic cat jump off a cabinet and break into a thousand pieces. quite startling to say the elast.

 
At 29/3/05 9:00 pm, Blogger kancilzilla said...

Wonder what that would feel like...an earthquake one every other week. The first time was enough to send me running outside fearing for my life. The second time wasn't as scary but still set my heart racing. Anyway what we felt here in penang (malaysia) wasn't enough to make ceramic cats or any other ceramic animal to jump off cabinets. It's true, it was exhilarating, especially when it's the first ever encounter with an earthquake. But the feeling of exhilaration goes away when you read about the death toll. It makes me feel sad, when I think of the lives that are lost and all the children that are orphaned because of the earthquake yesterday and the tsunami of Dec 26th. I'm just thankful that there was no tsunami. Another one of those would have been utterly devastating.

 

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