Monday, December 26, 2011

Singapore to Malaysia by bus


A couple of weeks ago I went to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia by bus. This was a truly unique and new experience for me, as one couldn't travel country to country by bus in Australia.

Going by bus is pretty straightforward, although the time compared to flying by plane the journey itself can be longer (5 hours in total by bus), however, the checking-in time is definitely shorter (generally only 15-20 minutes beforehand). That, and the security requirements are not as harsh (e.g., one can bring deodorant, shampoo greater than 100ml), so I think it makes for a simpler journey.

So this is an overview of the process and procedures that I went through which I hope will give you good insight so that you are prepared should you ever plan to go through a similar journey by bus like myself.

  1. Hopped on bus in Singapore for Malaysia - I hopped on a bus from Singapore which I had booked earlier, and loaded my baggage into the luggage compartment of the bus. There are many buses that travel from Singapore to Malaysia. The service that I used was called, Aeroline, which is quite comfortable (reclining seats as well as lounge seats available) and safe, though you just pay a little bit more for it. But for some extra sleep, why not? 

  2. Singapore immigrations checkpoint - The bus travels from central Singapore to the Singapore-Malaysia border but just before it goes over the border there is a Singaporean immigrations checkpoint which you go through.
Everyone hops off the bus for this and you can choose to leave your backpack in the bus if you like – depending on whether you have valuables in there.

At immigrations you go through the typical immigration procedures where you show your passport and your visa and/or employment pass (if applicable) to the immigrations officer.  

  1. Bus goes over bridge to Malaysia – Once everyone has gone through immigrations, you re-board the bus and it goes over the Singapore-Malaysia bridge and you will now be in Malaysia. Moments later you will reach the Malaysian immigration and customs, and you will need to hop off the bus. This time you take everything with you, including your backpack and baggage that is stored at the bottom of the bus. This is for customs.

  2. Malaysian immigrations checkpoint – This is a similar process as any immigrations checkpoint, you show you passport to the immigrations officer. It’s important here to make sure that your passport is stamped correctly, as I understand that the process leaving Malaysia will prove very difficult if the immigrations officer forgets to stamp your passport!
Following this, your luggage and items will also go through Malaysian customs and once through you can find your bus again and re-board it reloading all your luggage and belongings.

In terms of getting a visa for Malaysia, as I have an Australian passport there was no need for me to have a visa before arriving, and I can stay there for 3 months on a social visit. This will certainly vary for passport holders of other countries (see: http://www.2malaysia.com/visa.htm and http://www.malaysia.org.au/travel1.html for details on other countries, but it looks like most Westernised nations enjoy similar visa-free benefits). 


  1. Bus heads into your Malaysian destination – Everyone boards the bus again after going through Malaysian immigrations and customs. The bus heads over to your final destination, which in my case was Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The trip was quite similar, with everything in reverse. Although customs in Singapore is typically more strict than with Malaysian customs.

Well, I hope this helps in your thoughts in journey planning. Enjoy your trip! J

Monday, October 24, 2011

To have no shame for change

There was this interesting concept that had been shared with me during my little adventures which challenges our traditional way of thinking and general inclinations, and that's often to avoid embarassing situations and hold that little bit back.

Perhaps that's due to us protecting our ego, as it seems that we can often let our ego get in the way of  pushing an initiative, and it can be that sometimes that is one thing that will ultimately mean success or fail, or simply the distance things go.

So that was one piece of advice that had been given to me, that one must be willing to put themselves completely out there and do not let one's own ego get in the way.

Essentially putting ourselves out of our comfort zone and being 'shameless' for change - as what is the shame in standing up for what you believe in hey? :)

So think about what you believe in when you have a moment where you are feeling a bit shameful, but you know that doing something will help make things right, and be shameless! ;)

Related:

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Lions farewell...

The Lions club has meant a lot for me over the years and I would like to thank them for always being welcoming and having me a part of their club :)

As I'm moving to Singapore quite soon, here's a nice little surprise farewell they had for me presented Aussie style - from my local Lions club!


Something no Aussie should leave home without (Vegemite)
Something to throw around with new friends (Football)



Something to wear when you are missing home (Aussie shirt)





Something to help you find your way back (Boomerang)




Their kind messages...

They always good at expressing their thoughts in words and surprise gifts. I'd actually picked up a jar of Vegemite myself, so they were spot on with that one :)

I'll be sure to come visit them when I visit home and stay in touch.  I've packed all their nice mementos and as things look like they're are moving closer, it'll be certainly an exciting yet anxious feeling moving away, but I know it'll be a journey of a lifetime - I can't wait! :D

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Taking a break to problem solve

"If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail".
   - Abraham Maslow

Isn't it funny that we can often think that way. That there is only one possible solution to a problem, whereas in reality there may be more than the 'one' way of approaching problems or situations. Sometimes we find ourselves caught up in it but it's when we take a step back and look at it from a wider perspective or in a different manner that we actually discover there are other ways of approaching it.

Things are clearer with fresh eyes
Sometimes it's clear immediately, other times not so. I guess that's why they often say when writing that you should often have a look at it again in a few hours or days time and you'll notice that there are errors or better ways of expressing your ideas. We often find ourselves so absorbed in the material for so long that things can all seem the same and things that would normally be apparent are hidden to us. You will find that with time and an opportunity to relax your mind and give it a break, your fresh pair of eyes will pick up things.

Seeking another perspective
They often say the same about having someone else review and have a look at your piece to give that extra perspective. Having that other set of fresh eyes unabsorbed by the material will pick up those things.

A tool can be used in other ways
If as Abraham is saying that the only tool we have may only be a hammer, perhaps its time to do that they often say and that is try to think outside the box. This may simple mean rather than using the hammer in a conventional manner and using it to hammer down nails, perhaps consider whether the nail is really a nail in the first place?

While these are indeed things that we all do - both consciously and unconsciously as part of our problem solving and troubleshooting, it's important to be aware and realise that like reflecting, though it does seem like an extra step that we mightn't believe we have time for, a bit of time away from the problem or situation may enlighten you. So make time to take a break. You may find that you will at learn something that will prove useful for you for next time, and may see that you don't approach every problem as a nail, as it may be something else entirely different...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

On grass...

Someone once told me that in the past to have grass was a privilege and often a sign that you are royalty, associated with royalty in some way, or at least well off like one.

As it was rare to have that extra bit of space in the UK, so over there, you will notice that footpaths often don't have grass alongside them (so I'm told - as I haven't actually been there before!). You would find grass in parks  but in the past these parks weren't open to the public and instead were reserved for the privileged.

Thinking about where Australia was colonised from, with the abundance of grass outside most of our homes, perhaps it was our previous land owner's desire to have that privilege and now we have grass everywhere in sight.

So I don't know if it's true, as I can't say I feel 'royal' as I cut the endless amount of grass in my front and backyard. But it's something interesting to think about and appreciate the grass that you do have, even as we approach our annual spring mowing season...

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

To the Duke of Ed...

The past few years I've been on many different adventurous, far and wide, and in many different forms and shapes. You'll probably find some of those adventures on my blog, floating around here and there but it's been during my journey that I came across a program that seemed to add that extra bit of encouragement for me to continue what I was doing - this was the Duke of Edinburgh program.

So I've been on youth camps, a sailing voyage, hikes, swims, cold and nice bbq fundraising days, to finding myself presenting and actively listening to an audience. All the while, I thought it would be good to keep myself focused and as I had been ticking many of the boxes already, and felt that it would make as a good record and recognise me for what I had been doing. As you never really know what and how much you're doing until you actually sit back and reflect on it, as a program like this encourages you to do.

During my journey I've found myself reaching outside of comfort zone, overcoming challenges and discovering new ways of building on the skills and knowledge I had. It's been interesting to see how passionate and active young people really are, and I'm glad to have met the new leaders of tomorrow. Who knows, I might have even camped right next to the future Prime Minister?

While I have completed the Gold level aspects of the award, the next step is attending the graduation ceremony for it which I'm sure will be fun. As it'll be great to hear and share stories all fellow awardees. I may be away for the upcoming ceremony this December but I'm sure when I do graduate I'll find it a fulfiling little experience...

My belated graduation...

After months since graduating I've finally been able to have my official graduation with a post-graduate I've been studying with the Australian Computer Society through their CPEP program (Computer Professional Education Program).

I started the course wanting to find out more on green and sustainable IT, but later found myself instead pursuing my interest in people and change through an elective called, 'Organisational Change Management'. While they did give me the option of pursuing further electives after completing it, for now, I think I'm all studied out! Rather, I'd like to take a break and focus on other areas of my life and perhaps put some of my knowledge into practice.

One can only study so much, and I've felt that as with most educational program, while you're intention is to pursue knowledge and understanding you can often find yourself lost in simply trying to fulfil the course requirements (i.e. complete assignments, homework, etc.). Given that I have now finished, my next personal task is to pursue any areas of interest that has been sparked during the program, particularly those I felt I may not have fully understood and/or would like to cover further.

People and change will certainty be one of those key areas that I will keep studying as I do work in the technology industry and while we often find the focus so much on the technology, it is generally the people who use it that end up making or breaking it. Workarounds and pushbacks are always found and so, helping them through any process of changes whether small or large I feel is important.

Essentially I've found the course as a great way to explore topic areas I probably wouldn't have otherwise been interested in and/or covered in the way they did. One can never know too much, so I'm happy to have undertaken and now completed the program.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

You make your own choices...

Life is full of endless choices and decisions, with the many different opportunities and pathways coming our way and we never know which way may be the 'right' way. What is the right way though? People in our lives often try to influence and sometimes even dictate our decisions telling us this is the 'right' way, that way is 'not', however we must remember that the final decision lies ultimately with ourselves.

While it's generally the large decisions that we often ponder and consider more thoroughly than others, when we do finally make a decision, we can sometimes remind ourselves, almost as though we're second guessing ourselves, "I know I'm making the 'right' decision here..."
It's not knowing of what may happen next, where things may lead, what pathways may appear and the fear of the unknown makes us feel that way. As no matter how much we calculate, plan, anticipate, we can only really determine a portion of what may happen - especially as uncertainty can often even throws us the short ball that leaves us unbalanced in where we are.

So while not every decision is not a do or die situation, one should remember that generally the 'right' way may not seem as clear as you think however as long as you are comfortable in the decision yourself then I believe you will find that 'right' way for you. No one can really tell you whether a decision is the right one, though they can influence and try persuade you, it's ultimately your final choice to go that way or not. It is equally important to stand by whatever decision you end up making if you believe it is right. Sometimes being patient and waiting may help as well but opportunities can only wait for so long...

I'm personally finding myself in a person where I'm going to need to make that decision amongst all the influences and discussions with family and friends. Ultimately, however, whatever decision I do choose, I have to know it to be my decision, and a decision that I am willing to take...

Here's a nice quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson on decisions:

“Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, July 29, 2011

The core housing foundation

I saw an episode of Hot Cities on SBS Online (Australian TV) a while back ago and it was talking about how people living in Cuba were finding shelter to protect themselves from hurricanes and other natural disasters.

The main goal of the Cubians was to build at least one quality room that can act as their shelter and protect them against hurricanes. So rather than trying to build an entire house with the best resources, they will focus on building at least one quality room and as time goes on they can extend this in the future. This is since time and resources are not always easy to come by and they call this 'progressing developing houses', where the home will evolve over time as means and resources grow.

It's an interesting concept that makes sense as considering how in life we think we often need everything before we can even start something. So it may be worth using what we have now and then deciding what we can do later on with it. The main thing in applying this concept would be to remember that this is a core housing foundation that is being built and there should be considerations on future scability in mind.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Getting a visa for Vietnam – from Australia


Travelling can be confusing so I have written up this rough guide to give you an idea of the process of applying and getting ready for going to Vietnam from Australia.

I'm based in Melbourne, but you will find that my process of applying for a visa should be applicable nationwide (Australia). I have also included details on possible vaccinnations that you are able to take before you go.

Visas

Here’s a summary of how to apply and get for a Visa for Vietnam, which you obtain from the Vietnam Embassy in Australia. This involves mailing your passport via registered post and having it returned back to you, unless you live in Canberra, ACT where you can also have this done in person.

1. Print and fill in visa application form.
2. Post or visit in person (located in ACT) and provide them with:
  • A completed visa application form (found on the Australian Vietnam Embassy's website)
  • Your passport (so they can attach the visa details to it)
  • Include a return self-addressed prepaid registered envelope (for return of your passport)
  • Money order or “Australian” bank cheque payable to "the Embassy of Vietnam". I had this made in Australian dollars.
3. Wait a few business days or so for your passport to be returned. This process is even faster if you choose express registered post to and from the embassy.

Further specific details are available at: http://www.vietnamembassy.org.au/Consular.htm


Vaccinations

While you're best bet is always to check with you doctor before you go, here are a couple of shots that I had been recommended to take before I went, and these were.
  • Hepatitis A shot (approx. $58 AUD), Typhoid tablets ($46) (prices as of the first half of 2011 in Australia)

They say you generally should take these 2-3 weeks before you leave. Hep A lasts generally 20 years (though some say maybe longer - lifetime even?), typhoid lasts for approximately three years.

They also recommend you take malaria tablets if you plan on going into the wilderness (mainly Sapa-type of areas – Sapa is in the North of Vietnam). There was also a cholera vaccination that was recommended for those who will enter areas of possible flooding (such as the Mekong Delta during some seasons) and/or plan on eating a lot of seafood.



Useful links:

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Debt - is it bad?

Debt - what is it?
The word, 'debt' carries carries with it a negative connotation, particularly after the GFC where debt is one of the main factors in it. From Dictionary.com, it stands for: "something that is owed or that one is bound to pay to or perform for another".

Debt uses and is it bad?
Yes and no. This is because if debt is used correctly it can actually be a good thing, just as with credit cards (see credit vs debit cards) where you would 'loan' money from the bank to make your purchases of goods and/or services. And no, if you use it incorrectly and spent over your means (or if you venture doesn't go well or as well as expected...)

There are many reasons for taking out this loan, and this could include:
  • Convenience - easier to borrow then to find money elsewhere
  • Improve cashflow - you may prefer to borrow money so that you can use your currect liquid assets (e.g. cash, term deposits, etc.) for something else.
  • The need for money to start a business venture - a person may take out a loan to start a business that they may not have had finances to start themselves.
  • No money to start with - Cashflow might be tight and there may be no money at the moment to start a venture. For example, you may be awaiting payment from salaries, sales, etc.
Debt as the facititator/ enabler:
So these are some of the reasons someone may apply for a loan (and now have a debt), but generally you'd want to do so if you want to engage in activities that you may or may not have been able to undertake otherwise. So debt itself is not bad, as it can often act as an enabler, however, one has to realise that debt is essentially 'borrowing money from the future to pay for today'*. So sometimes borrowing money and investing and/or using it in a certain way may result outcomes which may be positive or negative, however, one has to remember that the debt borrowed will eventually need to be paid back - with interest. So it is hoped that whatever the debt (loan) is taken up for, that it results in the tangible and intangible benefits that it is intended to bring about.

For example, an individual may require a loan to purchase a car, as a car is needed as the individual needs the car for work. In time, the individual pays off the loan (and its interest) with their earnings, but as they were able to get this loan they were able to buy the car for work. Without the car they weren't able to they wouldn't be able to work. Thus, the loan (debt) has acted as an enabled/ facilitator for this situation allowing the individual to purchase the car for work, otherwise the individual may not have been able to work.

As you can see wise usage can enable and facilitate initiatives that may not have been initiated if the financial outlay was not there. I'm sure there are other situations where money can see seen to be available elsewhere but maybe it is tied up in assets, shares or other asset classes, or not there at all. So being able to assess and determine if taking up debt is acceptable and appropriate to one's situation is important. This includes looking at the possible risks that may arise and managing these, and as situations can vary and be difficult, seeking professional or outside help may not be a bad option as well.

Essentially taking up debt is not neccessarily as bad as it may seem, if used wisely it can lead to positive outcomes. It's important to remember that eventually debts (loans) need to be paid off, and with most things in life there are always risks, so knowing what they are and managing them is always important. I hope this offers you a different insight into debt, but always remember to consider your situation with care and be sure to ask for help or confirmation to ensure that you understand what you are doing as well as any consequences it may have.


*'Borrowing money from the future to pay for today'- I often call it this as you are in essence borrowing the $1000 you may have in the future and using the $1000 today for your venture, with the added interest on it of course. Sometimes this borrowing pays off, other times it doesn't and that's something important to remember.

Credit report

Ever wondered what your credit was like? Well, as I only realised recently you can check it for free. Although as far as I know this method only applies for Australians.

Here are the steps to order your free credit check, basically you will need to:

  1. Visit www.dnbcreditreport.com.au
  2. Click on "Credit Check
  3. Make sure you select "Standard", as although it takes approximately 10 days to process, you'll get it free. Alternatively, if you are in a hurry then you can opt for the fasttrack option (which cost is about 30 dollars incl GST at the moment to apply for). This is more applying for credit reports for job applications, etc.
  4. Fill in your details as required and submit.
  5. Wait the 10 businesss days for your credit report to be received via snail mail or via email (whichever you have chosen). The 10 business day wait doesn't apply to those who paid for their report - it should be one business day in that case.
  6. Receive your credit report via snail mail (home postal address) or via your email address.
Veda Advantage (MyCreditFile) is also another place where you can request a credit report for free (and paid express version at $36.95 incl GST if you need it). Although with the free version you'll need to send a snail mail or fax documents and details to them. http://www.mycreditfile.com.au/home/free-credit-file.dot

If curiously is not a main motivator for you then these are a few other reasons why you might want to check out your credit report (listed on the FAQ page of the Dun and Bradstreet website). 

Why should I obtain a copy of my Credit Report?
Understanding your credit profile is a critical first step when applying for credit.By checking your report you can ensure that lenders are getting a balanced, complete view of your financial health. In addition:
  • find out how you and your credit history is being portrayed to prospective credit providers
  • verify the information contained within your report to ensure accurate disclosure
  • be notified when your credit report is updated and understand how this may affect your credit rating
  • protect yourself from identity fraud and be alerted to any potential fraudulent activity occurring in your name
  • have the opportunity to add comments to your file with regard to investigation of your credit information

But what I find great about the credit report is that it also gives you information as to who is accessing your credit report, when and if you have any summons, backrupties, defaults, judgements, directorships on your record which can be interesting to observe even if you know you're always doing things right (e.g. paying bills on time, etc.). Knowing that it shouldn't cost you anything except the time to fill in an online application, I think it's handy and always good to make sure things are in order - as you can try fit any errors that might have come about. Anyways, I hope you what you do end up receiving is what you're expecting should be there and enjoy reading your very own credit report! :)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Back from Vietnam

Greetings all, I'm finally back and blogging again in Melbourne now. It's been a truly eventful and interesting journey in Vietnam, but I'm truly glad to be back home. They say there's no place like home, and for me, that's how I feel about my home :)

Being away I have never realised how many things I have taken for granted. Sure, I have traveled interstate and abroad before but this was by far the longest and most revealing of them all. Yet it is those that can make you realise what you truly and truly don't need (wants vs needs).

Saigon (aka Ho Chi Minh City)
One of the most important outcomes from my trip have been to learn much about my history and heritage, visiting my family and extended relatives, many of which I have never seen, met or even spoken to in my life... In particular were relatives that were descendents of my great-great-ancestors, who felt so much as strangers as they did as people I should or could have known, and maybe I would have if had been brought up in Vietnam. Particularly as it seems traditional, as an annual event (Chup ma), to catch up with relatives of your family tree, although the extent and number of relatives you would meet varies per family name, and as you would may realise, with the family name 'Tran' it isn't practical to meet all distant relatives in the same place - perhaps with a stadium or such, but one has to be realistic about doing this annually and what may be achieved in doing so!

Saigon (aka Ho Chi Minh City)
So it was explained to me that we were meeting one branch, and so I was able to explore parts of my grandfather's home and the surrounding neighbourhood and get a general idea of what he may have been like and how he may have lived. My branch (one branch) includes:
  • myself;
  • my father;
  • his father (my grandfather - ong noi);
  • his father's father (my great-grandfather - ong co); and
  • his father's father (my great-great grandfather - ong tang). 
This is my direct ancestors in this one branch, however, the one branch also includes the siblings and their descendents. One branch generally represents four levels up from me (although this number of levels I assume varies from family to family and without photographic memories of the past, may reflect only the practical way of remembering them).  At this gathering I was able to meet about 50-60 odd relatives and distant relatives from this branch.

On another day, I met three branches of the family tree and this second gathering was the meeting of two other branches just like mine, although given the large number and extent of relatives attending the gathering, I have been told they meet tri-annually, so I have been very fornutate in the timing of my trip, to be able meet not only meet those relatives from my direct branch, but those from the two other branches as well. There were about 250-260 odd relatives and distant relatives from this branch who attended this gathering. To think that this is only three branches makes me think about how many other branches there may be out there, and of the other family names and their branches...

During my trip I also met my grandmother for the first time, where she cried, as I had been one of her last grandchildren she had yet to meet. After meeting her I felt that I now have an idea of what she was like my father's mother and my father would have been like as a child. I had also learnt some interesting facts about some habits and thoughts that I he had, and those that may have inherited from him, along with those from his siblings and other close relatives.

I am now finally able to feel assured that I have not missed that opportunity to meet not only my grandmother and had also been able to visit the graves of those that have past and finally visit Vietnam, so I feel that I now know my heritage. I now have a rough idea of what it was like for them to live there, of who they were and how they lived. I hope that I will be able to learn from any mistakes that they have made, and understand how to live my own life to fullest. I can now share my insights and stories with those around me.

Me on Mount Son Tra (aka Monkey Mountain), Da Nang, Vietnam
It's been interesting learning and exploring that it was like to live there and imagining what it is like to live with my family and distant relatives, while at the same time trying different cuisine and drinking tasty drinks such as sugarcane juice everyday! One day I may return and visit again, although when that is, only time will tell... ;)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Vietnam - such a resourceful country

I'm in Vietnam at the moment admiring how resourceful the citizens are here. Often we there is much wastage in Westernised countries such as where I live (Australia).

The things we take for granted are treasured, resold, repurposed. Nothing is wasted unnecessarily. Everything has a purpose, is placed or put there deliberately and there are uses for items that I would/could never have thought of before.


Given the number of citizens here I can see why this needs and is part of their way of life, many developing countries I assume are the same in their own unique ways. I would love to see it all one day and learn how to better utilise the resources that we have around us - not just for ourselves but for others around us as well.

I'll share pics and stories when I return so stay tuned!
-Vu :)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Living life forward


At times we can find ourselves constantly thinking about the past, the what-ifs, what went right, what went wrong, etc. It seems that while we do need to learn from the past, we do need to live in the moment. 

This quote puts this into a simpler sentence and gives you a nice perspective on how you can view the way you live your life. 


"Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards."
Soren Kierkegaard (1813 - 1855)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Be yourself

In a world that where we often feel pressured to conform and follow the norms in so many different ways, we can often find we lose ourselves in one way or another.

From the expectation that one must go to school, find a job, get married, etc. It's almost like a standard sequence that we must all follow. Yet beyond it all, if we are able to accept who we are and be ourself then we'll be achieving something greater than the rewards we may believe we can gain from others. However, by truly  understanding and accepting oneself, everything you do you know you will be what *you* want to do, and in doing so your find and can potentially transcend yourself.

I'll leave you now with two nice quotes which has helps to add a slightly different perspective to those thoughts:

“Accept everything about yourself--I mean everything. You are you and that is the beginning and the end--no apologies, no regrets.” - Henry Kissinger (American political scientist)


“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson




Sunday, February 6, 2011

One way at looking at pressure


We all seem to get stressed or pressured in one way or another, whether due to work, our personal relationships with family, friends, or simply because we feel as though we have too many responsibilities. These pressures can often be viewed in the negative way, so there's this nice quote that might empower you to go on if you're feeling that overwhelmed from it all. 

"A diamond is a chunk of coal that is made good under pressure.” - Henry Kissinger, American political scientist

As diamonds seem to be always valued by people, mainly due to it's rarity and beautiful radiance. They say, diamonds are forever. Perhaps if we imagine ourselves as a diamond in the making, all the pressures that may be put before may seem that little bit easier to power through, for what we will become as a result will radiant forever...

"All things excellent are as difficult as they are rare" - Baruch Spinoza 

There are no mistakes, only lessons

Mistakes and failures. They can be words we dread, yet, rephrased and looked at a different way it can be seen from a different perspective.

There's a nice quote I came across the other day which sums up a good outlook or view to mistakes. Considering them as more of a lesson and learning process, i.e. as a means rather than an end in itself. I hope you enjoy it :)

“There are no mistakes. The events we bring upon ourselves, no matter how unpleasant, are necessary in order to learn what we need to learn; whatever steps we take, they're necessary to reach the places we've chosen to go.” - Richard Bach, American writer

Here's also another quote for you
"The real reason for failure is unwillingness, the pretended reason, inability" - Seneca


So feel free to try something new:
“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new” – Albert Einstein

Overcoming challenges to transcend yourself

Life brings challenges and obstacles onto each of us that can seem quite overwhelming at times. Through the process of reflection and self-assessment, I believe each of us has the potential to grow in own unique way. So instead of just seeing challenges ahead of us, we see opportunities to put ourselves outside of our comfort zone and to realise own true potential. When we do that, we transcend ourselves!

Weather and climate views

Here's a few great links that you may want to check out.

World Sunlight Map
This gives you a view of where the sun is shining light on the earth. There is a flat rectangular view as well as a hemispherical view. Very cool.
http://www.opentopia.com/sunlightmaprect.html

UV levels
This is for Australians and provides an indication of expected UV levels in Australia. The link below is for Melbourne, Victoria.
http://www.bom.gov.au/vic/uv/melbourne.shtml

BOM - Weather radar
This is the Bureau of Meterology's weather radar which provides an indication of rain fall, where it is hitting and how much. Useful in this week for the recent heavy raining in Melbourne. You can view all of Australia (national view) or just one state, the link below is of Melbourne, Victoria.
http://www.bom.gov.au/products/IDR021.loop.shtml#skip

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Kids don't have filters and believe .. possible


Have you ever thought about how kids seem to dream some of the craziest things, things that we often think are impossible. But we were kids once too if you remember those days...

I remember having some discussions with some friends a while ago and we were basically just talking about  how kids don't seem to have filters and believe that anything is possible.

Filters being the restrictive walls, obstacles, or what we would probably call realistic views of how we interact with the world around us. What we can do, what we want to do, and how we do it. 

They don't seem to believe things are impossible as us adults do, but rather they dream and say that they'll be astronauts, they'll be a fireman and then they'll draw a picture of something that we'd think is important. Yet in their mind it is possible. When you think of the inventors dreaming of airplane, automobile, etc. I'm sure they had a dream too when they were kids, I wonder if their inventions were also dreamed while they were kids.

Either way, it seems that society has helped us to develop thoughts around what we should, could and would do. Sometimes it is fun just ignoring that and rather than just focusing on what we know is possible, maybe it's time to focus on the impossible. For it is in the impossible that dreams can be made. 

Friday, January 28, 2011

How to Start Anew by writing it down on paper

If you are finding it difficult to sleep or concentrate at times, it may be worth writing things down on paper.

I find it particularly handy when I can't sleep if I'm worrying about something. For example say, I forgot to pick up my clothes from the dry cleaners, so I'd write it down and tell myself I've written it down so now I know I won't forget it can worry about it tomorrow and can let that thought go. It may not always work depending on your thoughts but the very action of writing it down and knowing that it can return to them later can be useful and give you peace of mind to at least clear one distracting thought.

Meditation can help as well, but it may require some initial practice along with some patience and dedication. Starting small say 5 minutes a day can help you get into the mode and habit with this (see Introduction to medtiation for tips on doing so).

Someone once told me too that if you are planning to start fresh on anything then it helps by not only telling yourself you're starting from anew but also by washing your hands too. That way you can feel that the old things can be washed away from these action. Our minds are interesting in the way that they work in that manner, so it is most likely the engagement of our senses that allows us to feel and remember our action point that way.

My detention centre visit...


A couple of weeks ago I went to visit an asylum detention centre to see what one is truly like particularly given all the media coverage, etc. surrounding it. It's something that had been on my to do list for a while as I find that most things in life you have to see it for yourself and then decide for yourself whether you believe it or not, and form your own perceptions.

And so I visited the Broadmeadows centre in Melbourne, which is based within a defence base. It's located not far from the local shopping centre and local residents and where I found my way there by bus. It is surrounded by perimeter fences, I guess to keep people in and out from the area. Contrary to what you might think as I originally thought it might be difficult to gain access to the place, however, provided you fill and send in any required forms and documentation and you make an appointment within visiting hours then you're allowed to visit.

When I visited I must say I almost felt like I was visiting a zoo but thankfully I went with a few others who went there to visit some friends that they've made in there before, so it made me feel like I could make a friend there too.

The place itself seemed quite peaceful, with the exception of the lockdown that the facility held, there were many items of convenience and things to help keep the refugees and individuals occupied and housed. Basic things such as food, water and shelter seemed to be provided as well as various forms of entertainment such as an Xbox, playstation, and access to the internet. This is important as I'd hate to think of what you could do each day if you're not exactly going to work or studying. Anyway, from that perspective they seemed adequately supplied, although I am not knowledgeable of any restrictions or limitations that they may have on access to these, only I saw that they were there...

From my discussions with individuals, some speaking of it, others you could see it in their eyes, and it was that their main concerns and frustrations was that they lacked freedom. For they desired the freedom to truly venture outside the facility as us full fledged citizens could, though I was told that special exceptions may be made if well behaved then they were able to visit the local shopping center, study etc.

Some briefly shared some of stories of the perilousness journey taken to arrive here, while others told of their journey so far in Australia from the various detention centres that they had been moving to and from. The visit itself I felt was a great experience which helped me understand and see things from for myself and for a chance to speak to the individuals involved. What we always have to recommend as we are all people seeking similar joys in life, although for some, achieving this is not as easy as it seems. Nonetheless, the experience is still yet one piece in the puzzle, how the pieces all comes together will be something interesting to see...


What can I bring to the detention centre?
For those thinking about visiting, my group was able to bring basic foods (we brought some nice turkish bread with some tasty dips :D) which we had cleared before we brought it in. We also brought a freebie along too but sadly we couldn't bring that in or didn't have a chance to use it (I think it was the latter reason though). So it's probably wise to check with the centre before you do plan on bringing anything in. Your personal items such as your wallet, mobile phone, car keys etc. will be kept in a locker before you enter. Anyways, I hope this info is helpful and you find the experience enlightening!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Learning the reasons

I was given some good piece of advice recently on teaching that on teaching that I'd like to share with you that helps improve the way you teach someone whether formally as a teacher or just teaching your friend or family.

We often teach by going through concepts, ideas, and telling people that should do it this way or that way. Yet if the person (we'll call them the 'student') we're teaching doesn't understand the reasoning behind it then generally their learning is quite rigid and restricted to the particular situation/ environment being taught. 

For example, say you're teaching someone how to swim. You tell them that they must stroke their arms and keep their elbows out of the water and this may help them to swim better. And you may need to prompt or adjust their arms for them to swim properly. This is as they may not necessary know how to confirm themselves that they are doing it properly.

Yet if you also taught them that keeping their elbows out of the water means that they create little resistance than that'll more likely bend their elbows more appropriately and naturally, as not all your prompting or adjusting may have led them to the same outcomes. They may personally find a comfortable way to swim. 

Of course, not all students even with an understanding of the reasoning will improve as sometimes it can confuse the student. This as with most things, there is no 'one size fits all' rule. I have found that it works in most cases and that you adjust your teaching style to each student. This is certainty a useful technique to consider and may help you improve the way you engage in an activity or technique yourself and encouraging thinking to improve things. It's certainty something to think about and will allow you and/or your student to look beyond the action or technique. So next time you try teach someone something, also teach the reasons behind it as well!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

On success and happiness

Success and happiness means something different to each of us...

They say one man's trash is another man's treasure and I'd say the same can be said in regards to success and happiness (as well as many other things), just as they say 'beauty is in the eye of beholder'.

Because when you think about it, some people are more competitive than others, while others not so. Picture a running race for instance. Some are in it just to win it, some are happy to just complete the run, while some are happy just to participate. For each participant, they each have their own needs, yearnings, and expectations of what they want out of the run (which may also be simply a walk for some). It may be since they have felt that they have trained hard, are recovering from an injury and/or completing the race in first place basis is what is desired.

This expectation and desire differs and when looking at it in regards to success and happiness, one participant will clarify success and happiness as simply finishing the race. While that is seen as failure for another who must come first. In the race of life, it helps to think about what you are expecting or desiring and what truly makes you feel successful and happy - as you'll find that what you are seeking may not be the same as someone else...