Monday, December 29, 2008

Camera for Bloggers

Imagine this:

I was backpacking in Bali. I visited the magnificent volcano, Gunung Batur, and took lots of photos. In the evening, I went into an Internet café and wanted to share my story online…

But wait a minute. My story would not be incomplete without photos. What could I do? I could, of course, upload my photos from the camera. However, at 2 or 3 megabytes each, it would take a while to upload them to the Web. You know, the Internet café charged us by the minute.

I would prefer to resize the images in the camera before uploading them to the Web. I would also like to adjust the exposure.

Now, there are some cameras in the market which have image editing features, but I am not sure if they can also resize the images. My camera certainly can do neither of them. Canon probably thinks that most of us would edit and resize images in PC, and doesn’t bother to include such functions in the camera.

But for a photographer cum blogger on the go, such features can useful.

Friday, December 26, 2008







香港作家陶杰,指出说这个前英国属地有『教育种族隔离政策』- Educational Apartheid。在一边是传统的,重视考试的本地中学,在另一边是国际学校。在马来西亚,我所看到的却是服装种族隔离政策。

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Early Bird

I have learned this much – Buddhists wake up early.

At the Bhavana Society, a large metal gong reverberates through the woods at five A.M., and should you somehow manage to snooze through that, the neighborhood dogs immediately explode into a barking frenzy.

I stumble down the hill in the morning darkness to the meditation hall, where we sit on our cushions from five-thirty to six-thirty.

- Dinty W. Moore, The Accidental Buddhist


I think I live an unusual lifestyle.

In the city I live, it is typical for the folks to sleep at 2am on weekend, and wake up at 12 noon the following day. I typically go to bed before 12 midnight, and wake up at 7am.

Weather is one reason which explains my lifestyle. Malaysia is a very warm country. I jog in the park or wash my car in the early morning before the mercury rises to an unbearable level. I sometimes take an afternoon nap.

Perhaps, being a Buddhist is another reason I wake up early.

Furthermore, I am a photographer. Experienced photographers know that there are ‘magic hours’ for taking photos. These usually refer to early morning and late afternoon, when the sunlight is not that harsh. Apparently, if I want to shoot pictures at 7.30am, I have to wake up by 7am.

I may be different, but I don’t regret that…

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Public Phone

I thought public phone was something of the past. I was wrong…

Malaysia has a mobile phone penetration rate of 94%. The figure is over 100% in some countries, such as Hong Kong, UK and Singapore. Teachers and parents are debating whether students are allowed to bring mobile phones to school. But in the not so distant past, few people used mobile phones. I certainly didn’t own one. When I wanted to make call, I had to look for a public phone.

Chances are, the nearest public phone was out of order, so I had to go to the next one. But the next one was also not working, and I had to search harder. Finally, I found a good one, but there were already 5 or 6 people lining up. The inconsiderate young guy was chatting with his lover over the phone. He talked for more than 10 minutes. Everyone behind him was impatient and agitated. I started to curse him, “This bloody hell f*****… I wanna kill him!”

When mobile phone eventually became a household product, public phone booths went into oblivion. Why bother to use a public phone, when we can call from home, Starbucks, even inside a cinema?

To my surprise, I saw some new public phone booths popping up recently. Who are using them, when even low-waged migrant workers from Indonesia and Bangladesh can afford a mobile phone?

Foreign tourists may still need public phone, as roaming charges for mobile phone remain high. However, the public phone booths I saw weren’t located in tourist areas.

I am still not convinced that public phone is a viable business…

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Values of MBA


Recently, I stumbled upon a blog whose owner, Lisa, is an MBA student. I am doing MBA too. After reading the blog, I feel like sharing my own experience and views too...

Quite a few of my classmates are fresh graduates with little or no working experience. They are often very concerned with examination and grade. As a part-time student who has worked for a number of years, I know very well that CGPA is only important for one’s first job.

You may ask, “Why, then, do you study MBA?” Well, there are a couple of reasons…

First and foremost, in an MBA class, one can sharpen his or her writing, presentation skills, analytical skills and creativity. These qualities are more important than CGPA itself. Surprisingly, even at this level, you still need to memorize a lot of stuff before entering the exam hall. Part-timers usually have less time to study, so they probably won’t score A’s, but there are definitely other things worth learning.

Secondly, we don’t just learn from the lecturers, or from books. We also learn from our classmates. A few of my classmates are my role models:

One of them is Mr Yap. He was the oldest student in the class, and a successful businessman.

Another one is Dr Tay, the best public speaker among us. You can hardly imagine his background is in Medicine.

The third one, Hellen, is one of the most high-powered women I personally know. I see myself as a thinker, i.e. think but no action. Hellen is a “doer”.

Last but not least, MBA provides a platform for networking. Your classmates may provide you with unofficial consultation. They may even be your future business partners. On the lighter side, they may be your companion in the golf club or karaoke lounge.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Kuala Lumpur Bird Park – II

[Part I]


It took so much patience to capture this shot. This was kind of like once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Unfortunately, I made one mistake: the DOF (depth of field) is too narrow


When taking this picture, I turned of auto-focus, and instead focused manually. Ouch! That’s tough.

Parrot greeting the visitors

Birds of paradise, male and female

In the world of birds, males are often more beautiful than females. Examples are peacock, bird of paradise and mandarin duck. Similarly, male lion looks greater than lioness.

But, of course, among Homo sapiens, women are more attractive…

Monday, December 15, 2008

Happiness is Contagious

Scientists from Harvard University and University of California, San Diego, conducted a study on 5,000 people and concluded that the happiness spreads through social networks.

The study found that:

Knowing someone who is happy makes you 15.3% more likely to be happy yourself. A happy friend of a friend increases your odds of happiness by 9.8%, and even your neighbor's sister's friend can give you a 5.6% boost.

(Read the story here.)

Wondering if we really need such a study? Don’t we already know that happiness is contagious? Well, maybe some are still not convinced yet.

Confucianism tells us that we should:

Be worried before the whole world is worried.

Be happy (only) after the whole world is happy.


No wonder Chinese and Koreans are so somber and serious…

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Bill Clinton

Former US president Bill Clinton was in Malaysia on Dec 5, 2008.

He is said to have visited KL Bird Park. I went there to take photos the following day. Missed it! Sigh…

Clinton revealed to Malaysian journalists some of the political leaders he admired. They included South Africa’s Nelson Mandela, Palestine’s Yasser Arafat and China’s Jiang Zemin. He also praised Malaysia’s former Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir for pegging the nation’s currency to US dollar during the 1997 Asian financial crisis. However, Clinton did not make it clear that he admired Dr Mahathir. That’s was face-saving trick for the host country, I think.

When I read that Clinton admired China’s Jiang Zemin, I recalled a joke about his visit to the Middle Kingdom. I am not sure if that is a true story, though.

The joke says that Clinton complimented Jiang’s wife, saying that she was beautiful. Out of traditional Chinese humbleness, Jiang replied, “哪里,哪里?” The translator relayed the message to Clinton, “Where, where?”

Clinton was first confused. Then he answered, “Everywhere…”

Friday, December 12, 2008


这是自助旅游者的圣经 Lonely Planet…



台湾版旅游书籍介绍的酒店,多半属四、五星级。但我是贫穷的背包族,只能住没有冷气设施的客栈。(这应该比较环保吧。)另外,台湾旅游书籍很多都 会大谈 Spa。像我手上这本《峇里岛玩全指南》,就用了十页介绍岛上的 Spa 服务。台湾妇女似乎无 Spa 不欢。


台湾的旅游书籍,我买来『看爽』。真正出国旅游时,还是得依赖 Lonely Planet 或其他类似的书。。。

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Left Brain, Right Brain and the New Computers

Do you still remember those days when your computers were dull black boxes?

In 1998, Apple changed our perception of computer when it rolled out the transparent iMac G3

Recently, Asus launched the F6 series notebook computers with 4 different designs…

Now, to make a functional computer requires analytical skills, which is a function our left brain. To design a visually-appealing computer, on the other hand, requires creativity, which is a function of our right brain.

When I was a secondary student, I studied Science. In the university, I studied Engineering. I had been trained to think in a logical manner. In future, I foresee that the job market will need more people who can think creatively. If you have children in schooling age, do make sure to train them in both aspects.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Self-service Vegetarian Restaurants

You know, a self-service restaurant can cut down on its workforce, and the saving can be transferred to the customers.

In Malaysia, self-service dining was spearheaded by international fast food chains such as KFC and McDonald’s. Recently, I notice that many vegetarian restaurants have adopted the idea. In fact, they go a step further by asking the patrons to return the used crockery to designated place…

Actually, in the United States, it is common for a customer in McDonald’s to return the tray after the meal. Malaysians, somehow, do not generally have the DIY spirit. Most just leave the trash and trays to the restaurant staff. However, majority of Malaysians eat vegetarian food for religious reasons. The self-service vegetarian restaurants are probably banking on the ‘Buddha factor’, as understood from the Chinese saying:

Even if we don’t give face to the monks, we should give face to the Buddha.


When we help the restaurants, we are "pretending" that we are kind, caring and religious, right?

The price? In the restaurant located near my workplace, a simple meal costs just RM2, and Chinese tea is provided for free. That is really cheap…

Saturday, December 06, 2008






大学生报读中文系,会不会变得老气横秋呢?我有一个朋友,就是中文系出身。记得有一回,公司派我去瑞典受训,乘搭北欧 SAS 航空的班机。SAS 的空姐,不,空婆,都是四、五十岁的安娣,身材都已经有点走样。回国后,我对中文系朋友提起这件事,他很欣慰地说:『幸好如此。你不会为美女分心…』

几年后这朋友回大学修硕士,有一个女同学叫朵琳什么的。某天晚上,他约我和朵琳一同去大排挡吃 dinner。大排档旁有小贩兜售盗版光碟,包括AV片。朵琳兴致勃勃的选购光碟,我的中文系朋友,却误会她对黄色电影有兴趣,于是就开始训话了:『不准看色情片!』 唉哟,像极了严父教训女儿


Thursday, December 04, 2008

Chinese American Food

I am a Chinese Malaysian growing up with Chinese food. When I was in the United States, naturally I frequented Chinese American restaurants. In fact, I had my first dinner on American soil in a Chinese American restaurant.

Note that they are called “Chinese American restaurants”, not “Chinese restaurants”. This is because they serve Chinese American food, which is slightly different from what we have here in Asia.

Some of the most common Chinese American dishes are:

beef and broccoli

kong poh chicken

General Zuo’s chicken (左宗棠鸡)

egg foo yong

chap suey

Beef and broccoli is served in nearly every Chinese American restaurant, and it clearly shows the American influence – Americans are heavy beef eaters, and broccoli is the most popular vegetable in the States.

Of course, no meal in Chinese American restaurant is complete without the ubiquitous fortune cookies.

Did I miss anything? Yes, I couldn’t find any Chinese American restaurant which served fried fish or steamed fish.

Now, I know many people will complain that Chinese American food is not authentic. But who cares? After all, Chinese Malaysians have also invented Malayan Scenery (马来风光), Hainanese chicken rice and bak kut teh (肉骨茶).

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Recalling Bali’s Second Bombing 2005

Terrorists’ attack on Mumbai reminds me of the second bombing of Bali in 2005…

On October 1, 2005, three suicide bombers blew themselves up in Bali, killing 20 people. Just a few days before the attack, I had already booked my Air Asia flight to the island, scheduled in late October. You know, Tony Fernandes was not going to refund me if I cancel my trip. Not wanting to waste the money already spent, I decided to take a little bit of risk…

Security was tight in Kuta. The guards in McDonalds’ checked my backpack before letting me go in. I avoided restaurants and bars with lots of Westerners, since they were potential targets of terrorists.

I was happy that I didn’t cancel my trip. The terrorists’ objective to kill the innocent people was to stoke fear among the public. When we continued to travel to Bali, we were sending a message to them:

You have failed!

R.aja's Bar & Restaurant was blown up by the suicide bomber in 2005