Tuesday, August 29, 2017

My Long Bucket list

My own favourite quote is - We only live once and life is just a journey for us to shape it the meaningful way we wish. I have been inspired by both my late parents for doing charity all their lives for the handicapped spastics children and old folks home in Penang. That's besides their passion to travel to many countries and exotic places, lesser known to travelers. They had taken the overnight train that floated on the ferry across the seas to reach Norway to watch the midnight sun, trekking through deep icy caves in the Swiss Alps, stayed at real Hamburg castles in Germany and also being invited as diplomatic guests of the Royal Thai Embassy in Moscow to watch the famous Leningrad Ballet performance in Russia. My late mother's favourite countries were Monte Carlo, Salzburg, Vienna, Zurich and Athens. I am wondering how on earth I ever could follow their trails? So I just leave that to my own fate to decide.

The first time I boarded a plane was at the age of 9 years old. It was the most exciting & sleepless nights I had before taking the MAS flight for the first time. It was just from Penang to Ipoh and that was a mere 15 minutes flight! I remembered clearly how silly this kiddo I was.

That's me and my siblings at the old Ipoh airport. 
It had to rain because the skies must be laughing 
at the 15 minutes flight!! Wakakaka

The longest flight I ever took was a total 36 hours from Penang all the way to Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, USA. It was a terrible nightmare as I was just a nerd student and simply booked the cheapest available flights to save money. That means I had to change many connecting flights which transited at Singapore - Hong Kong - San Francisco - Chicago - Pittsburgh. Oh God, I was so damn exhausted and sleepy that I slept like a drunkard pig and snored so loudly on the planes. The air stewardess on board United Airlines over the San Francisco air space had to wake me up as the passengers behind, thought a wild boar was hiding between the aisle. Wakakakaka

That was me as a student by the Lake Erie
which borders in between USA & Canada.

Today I could boast that I have learnt from many trial and painful errors after traveling around a bit. I learnt to become a smart traveler which means I could save money in booking cheap flights, hotels and not waste unnecessary precious time. My last overseas vacation was in February when I visited the Sapporo Snow Festival in Hokkaido. I have not made any holiday plans yet, due to many reasons on my work timing and wife's commitment at University Malaya. I looked into my bucket lists and it seems to get longer every year. I really wonder where on earth I could find so much money and time to fulfil my visits to all these exotic places. I think it is no harm & healthy to make dreams which costs nothing by day dreaming. We should draw up some plans so that we have directions in life.

1) Charity - Lifetime
2) World Cruise (108 days) - Peace Boat Destinations
2) Kelantan & Terengganu - To complete 13 states visit (Malaysia)
3) Wutai Mountains - Pilgrimage Hike (China)
4) Shikoku Island - Pilgrimage Hike (Japan)
5) Jiuhua Mountains - Pilgrimage Hike (China)
6) London / Prague / Copenhagen - Sightseeing & Cycling (Europe)
7) Melbourne - Holiday (Australia)
8) Seoul - Reunion of friends (South Korea)
9) Nepal - Hike Pilgrimage (Nepal)
10) Taipei to Kaoshiung - Cycling (Taiwan)
11) Luang Prabang - Relax (Laos)
12) New York City - Visiting (USA)
13) Everest Base Camp - Hike (Himalaya)
14) Aurora Borealis - Experience (Norway)
15) Jaipur - Maharajah's Palaces (India)
16) Potala Palace - Pilgrimage Visit (Tibet)
17) Paris, Rome, Barcelona & Athens - Holiday (Europe)

This is the World's Cruise on board Japan's Peace Boat which my good friend has booked for September 2018. The fee is around RM40,000 per pax for 108 days and covers the most exotic places like Europe to see the Aurora Borealis which is like a magical & heavenly sighting to me.  The giant ship would sail from Yokohama and head to Xiamen (China), Singapore, Maldives, Italy, Greece, Albania, Montenegro, Croatia, Jamaica, United Kingdom, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Iceland, Panama, Morocco, Cuba, Hawaii, New York City, Mexico, Peru, Guatemala and back to Yokohama in Japan. That's like 22 countries and over 25 different ports for 108 days is the greatest travel for my bucket list. I know this is rather impossible now as I don't have 108 days annual leave and the sum of RM40K X 2 persons = RM80,000!! I think plus shopping money would hit RM100,000. I guess I will just dream, dream & dream on.

I better be practical and live within my own means. Let me start locally first as I really want to visit Kelantan and Terengganu so badly. That would allow me to blow my trumpet that I have visited all the 13 states in Malaysia. The best thing I discovered the article of Wishful Thinking... For A Staycation from blogger Lina's post recently where she shared about this TRAVELOKA website. I clicked into it and was surprised to see that they offer much more and different services than my other 3 favourite websites that I have been using for the last 10 years! I have decided to check into this famous & impressive Tok Aman Bali Beach Resort which won waves of good reviews for their large rooms, facilities and beautiful scenic lake view. This unique resort is like a hidden private island which is beautifully perched in between a huge lake and the big ocean which commands the panoramic view of the unique lake! I plan to stay there for 3 nights and visit all the attractions in Kelantan and Terengganu. Could someone please give me advice on this Tok Aman's hotel and all the good places I should visit?

 This is the well hidden magnificent jewel of Kelantan -
Tok Aman Bali Beach Resort.


Friday, August 25, 2017

The 12th Hong Kong International Wushu Competition

I have finally found time to sit down and update this isolated blog which is spewing out putrid juices. The Typhoon Hato which lashed fiercely into Hong Kong and Macau gave me a terrible fright but it's a great relief that we had safely left this island. If this typhoon occurred just 10 days earlier, the wushu competition might be called off and all the thousands of participants from worldwide would cry rivers of tears! I do believe everything happens for a good reason.

My trip there with this "Fantastic 8" participants from the Hua Ying Wushu & Tai Chi Academy was a marvelous trip well spent as they all collected a total of 27 Golds, 1 Silver and 1 Bronze medals home! Hooray!!! It sounds so unbelievable to them but it was true that they truly deserved all the 29 shiny medals for their excellent performance in this world class standard Wushu competition. I was there myself and saw it with my own sharp eyes that they had all performed brilliantly after practicing so diligently and hard for many months, clocking over hundreds of hours. Bruce Lee would have applauded them too if he was there spiritually.

Our Malaysian participants were still practicing very hard
at a quiet park somewhere in Kowloon!

I have lost count on my trips to Hong Kong since my first landing at
the old Kai Tak Airport in 1987. All my trips were mostly during
the Fall and Winter seasons which were pleasant to shop around.
This trip was my first ever Summer disaster and I almost died of heat
as my wife who has robotic legs happily walked over 10K steps daily.
I was sweating profusely and panted like a dead dog with my tongue sticking out.
My stinky sweat even glued my clothes & underwear to my own body.

The Hong Kong International Wushu Competition is an annual
affair which easily attracts participants from over 20 countries.
 This year it was held inside the Kowloon Bay International Trade
& Exhibition Centre which is located close to the old airport
on the Kowloon side.

The welcoming ceremony where the VVIPs were seated
on the stage of this competition venue which ran from
14th to 18th August 2017. 

It was a joyous and carnival mood to see all the participants
marching inside in colourful costumes.

Our dashing leader Koon San led the Malaysian team
from Hua Ying Wushu & Tai Chi Academy with
my wife, Sow Yong. Alice, PY Lee, Michael & 
others in the blurry background.

Many individual teams from different provinces 
in China participated and this one really gave me
an eye opener to see how drunken Kung Fu steps were
being demonstrated in a hilarious manner.

These European participants were always popular with
all photographers to see them perform the Chinese
Wushu in Kung Fu attires. Kudos!

They may not be the best but they received supportive
applause from the audience who appreciated their
interest in our ancient culture of Wushu sports.

I loved to see these kids as they were chatty and
asked me funny questions. I managed to
twist my tongue to reply in lousy Mandarin.
I think they pretended to understand me.

Here is Michael Liew showing his magnificent skills. This expert is my old  
friend and I had a very good time gossiping like market aunties.

Yes, this is my darling wife!
So sweet like honey.

 The group Tai Chi performance by the "Fantastic 8".
Front (L-R): Lee Poh Yien, Chong Koon San, Yong Sow Yong
Back (L-R): Theresa Tan, Foo Wei Hoong, Eleanor Cheah.

They deservedly won a Gold medal for this event.

This was another pairing event by Koon San & Foo Wei Hoong.
They won Gold medals too!

The brilliant performance by young participants
that wowed the audience.

One photo for the close up family album of the "Fantastic 8".
Front(L-R): David Bao (Founder/Instructor) Foo Wei Hoong, Michael Liew,
Chong Koon San.
Back (L-R): Li Yen, Eleanor Cheah, Yong Sow Yong, Alice Chan, Lee Poh Yien, Theresa Tan

2 lovely darlings posing with their Gold medals & laughing
away till no eyes! Congrats to Micheal & his wife Alice.

This is my darling wife with 4 Gold medals!
Well done! Pat on her head. 

Congratulations to my darling wifey.
My wife was doing a striking pose with her 4 Gold medals.
I wonder how many people could still stretch their legs
from East to West? I cannot even touch my toes. Kikikiki

A big Congratulations to all the happy participants of this 
"Fantastic 8" from Hua Ying Wushu & Tai Chi Academy. 
Everyone went home happily with 27 Gold, 1 Silver & 
1 Bronze medals.


Sunday, August 13, 2017

My Trip To Hong Kong

In a few hours time, we will be going to the airport to catch the first flight to Hong Kong for my wife's participation at the Hong Kong International Wushu Competition. This exciting event is a world class standard with thousands of mighty & tough and talented participants from more than 20 countries like China, United States, Canada, France, Greece, United Kingdom, Russia, Switzerland, Portugal, Spain, United Arab Emirates, Australia, Thailand , Malaysia, Japan, Indonesia, Philippines, Macau, Taipei and others. It would be an eye opener for me to see all the champions from China especially the young Shaolin Monks from the Henan temples doing their fantastic and awesome stunts!

See you guys next weekend!


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

A Famous Actress (Updated)

I have previously posted about my niece being an actress in Thailand. That post has been deleted and I am sharing some updates today with some elaborate captions which I will remove them after a few days. I don't feel nice if my relatives read them with raised eyebrows.

So enjoy reading what I have to brag and blow my trumpet sometimes to shiok sendiri. Here I go again about my niece's career success. I would like to further update you after seeing her face on the cover of the current issue of Thailand's Hello! exclusive magazine.

In the current issue, she poses beautifully with her banker hubby.
She has been a very famous face in many glossy magazines and her mum
who is my first cousin, would proudly share & update all
who know their family.

I was in primary school when I saw her as a very adorable baby
learning to crawl. I visited her house in a very posh residential area of
Bangkok's Soi Rajakru where only closely related families of the
Choonhavan surname could set up homes. My niece is very well known
and hails from influential family background where both her 4 paternal
and maternal grandparents came from very influential families in
the history of Thailand.

Not long after the visit, my cousin lost her husband and baby son
in a fatal car crash while on their way to their seaside vacation home
at Hua Hin. I remembered my mum crying so hard
when she got the tragic news as she fondly baby-sat my
cousin & sibling when my mum lived with her own
brother in Thailand. My mum's brother was a well known
doctor then, from Bangkok's Siriraj Hospital before he
 migrated to US. It was a real miracle that my cousin could pick
up her life again and groomed her only daughter up so well with the
all her love and best education for the privileged inside the
Royal Palace grounds. She later took up modelling for fun
and ended up becoming a famous actress, TV host
and celebrity face for SK-II Thailand.

I believe that many of you could have seen my niece's 
pretty face on all the SK-II counters in the shopping malls
of Bangkok. I also wanted to look beautiful too but had to fork
out my own money to buy the SK-II men's facial cleansers and
essence lotions directly from Japan which is so much cheaper.
I also bought the facial cleanser for my wife and she loves it.

Besides her soaring acting career and appearances in the ads of SK-II, Coach,
Jimmy Choo and many others, she has recently endorsed a new
product in Thailand. The above product's photo was beautifully photographed
 in the romantic Paris last week where my cousin proudly appeared 
with her famous daughter. My cousin who was being educated in New Hampshire
is the oldest among all my cousins on my Thai clan's side while
I am the youngest of all.


Thursday, August 3, 2017

A Workation Trip

I was away again for several days for a Workation trip. The last one I had was in Manila when my wife had to work & conduct training in Makati for 2 weeks in 2015. I stayed at the hotel there for a week in Makati for free & explored all corners of Manila. 

I went to nearby Port Dickson for 3 days!

We stayed at this resort for just 3 days. This resort hotel is very dated
but popular for its location for Jungle and Outdoor Training Camps.
This trip gave me ample time to drive the whole stretch
of Port Dickson to admire the scenic ocean views.
There are so many holiday apartments and hotels lining the beach.
Most of them looked so dated and empty now.

My wife was invited to conduct a private training by a division of the conglomerate
Khazanah Nasional Berhad. Her specialized topic is Computational Thinking
which our MOE is gearing towards, to bring up our standard level
of education. It is very important that we all need to know that our
country is now heading towards this trend which has been implemented
in USA, Europe and Australia. Malaysia is the first ASEAN country
to have piloted this curriculum in our education system.
My wife is the first Master Trainer in Asia for Computational Thinking
who was certified by the Carnegie Mellon University in US.
This has brought her to conduct many training sessions 
around Malaysia, Manila, Jakarta, Taipei and others. 
You might want to read what our PM said HERE

While the wifey was busy in her workshops inside the hotel,
the hubby went ronda-ronda alone to drink kopi and lepak.
I stumbled upon the newly opened Starbucks which has
the most beautiful panoramic view of the entire ocean.
I wish I could sit there forever & even toyed about
buying a retirement home nearby that Starbucks.
Life is blissful sometimes like the waves of the ocean.
My life is no bed of roses! I do have my worries,
pain, sadness, sickness and happiness too.