33 Reasons I am Thankful today

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  1. I am alive – for the past 33 years and counting
  2. My parents; Mom for giving birth to me and Mom&Dad for raising me
  3. My older brother, for being my first friend and confidante, my advisor and supporter even until now.
  4. My younger brothers for always making me laugh (and occasionally cry)
  5. My family for always being there for me; for loving me unconditionally.
  6. Loved ones, for the opportunities to sacrifice myself and to die to selfishness
  7. The Catholic family: for the continuing guidance in this journey of life
  8. Close friends (who are practically family) for accepting me as I am – and loving me even then
  9. Friends who are with me through the good and the bad: I am who I am because you are/were a part of my life
  10. Mentors/Advisors/Elders who are there to guide and support me when needed
  11. People I see on a daily basis (colleagues/housemates included) for making life pleasant and peaceful
  12. My studies; for equipping me with the necessary knowledge/skills to survive in the world of adults
  13. My hobbies, for making me into a more well-rounded person
  14. My travels; for teaching me humility and appreciation of all of God’s creation
  15. My health for not making life difficult to live
  16. My finances for giving me enough to live a comfortable life but not excessively
  17. My job for the opportunities to increase my set of knowledge and skills
  18. My career for giving me a sense of duty and teaching me life lessons
  19. Church ministry for the opportunities to love and serve others
  20. Ministry for giving me a sense of ownership and responsibility in my local church
  21. Fellow ministers in the church for teaching me how have a Servant heart
  22. The innocence of my childhood, for allowing me to develop trust in humanity
  23. The adventures of my youth for showing me that a big world lies ahead of me
  24. The mistakes of my younger days for teaching me rights from wrongs
  25. The experiences of more recent years that continue to grow and shape me into the person I will become by the end of life’s journey
  26. My fears, for preventing me from making bad decisions in life
  27. My worries, for teaching me to surrender it to Him
  28. My hopes for giving me something to wake up to every day
  29. My dreams, that I may learn to trust in Him
  30. My joys and my pains, for making the journey worthwhile!
  31. God’s love and grace that He deemed me worthy of saving from the start
  32. God’s providence for all the good and wonderful things he has blessed me with in the past – and will continue to provide for me till the very end, and last but definitely not the least of them all:
  33. GOD: for all that I am thankful for written above (and all those unwritten as well)

Thank You Lord!!! – for the past 33 years of my existence, and for the many more years to come…

Getting paid to shop

I used to be the type who don’t “do” shopping. I only buy what I need most of the time – plus the occasional (impulsive) I-must-have-this when I spot something as I browse around in the malls. That meant for so long as I wasn’t physically at a mall/shop, I wasn’t spending on anything.

Now, with everything at the tip of our fingers (thanks to the interweb) I can arrange my travels, order food and even get that dream dress that is on sale – all without leaving the comfort of an airconditioned room while it is sweltering outside.

online-shopping

Yes. Of course I am talking about online shopping. But before that, Disclaimer: This post is in not encouraging you to spend billions of dollars online or be swamped in credit card debts. It’s purpose is to share with you how you can actually SAVE more money when shopping online. Just make sure you pay your credit cards bills on time! Or pay using cash. We good? Alright, continue.

Now, I recently came across a website that actually pays you when you shop online. Actually, it gives you back a percentage of an amount that you spent when making online purchases. This is called CashBack.

But, before I direct you to that website, allow me to answer the questions that are in your head right now.

1. What do you mean by CashBack?

CashBack is getting back (in cash) a percentage of an amount that you spent when making purchases on an online Seller’s website. For example, if you spent $100 on the purchase of an item online and if cash back for that Seller is 10%, that means you will get back $10. The nett effect of that is that you actually spend only $90 (ie. $100 minus $10) instead of $100 on your purchase.

2. How does it work?

Using the above example, you pay $100 when making the purchase as per the normal online shopping procedure. The $10 cash back will be credited into your CashBack account, which you can then get transferred into your banking account after a certain period.

3. Where does the cash come from?

Good question and an important one. The $10 that you “get back” in the above example, is actually a part of the commission that the CashBack site receives from the Seller for bringing sales/ie. you (a paying Customer) to the Seller’s website.

4. Why would the CashBack site give me cash back?

Well, since you are buying from the Seller and earning the CashBcak site Commission, why shouldn’t they NOT be giving you at least some of that commission? Seller gets Sales, the CashBack site gets Commission and you get the item you paid for PLUS cash back. Everybody wins.

5. Who should be register on the CashBack site?

People who make online purchases from the following sellers are highly encouraged to register for CashBack:

  • Zalora
  • Lazada
  • Groupon
  • Ebay
  • Agoda (hotels)
  • Booking.com (hotels and hostels)
  • Expedia (flights and hotels)
  • AirAsiaGo (flights and hotels)
  • Hotels.com (hotels)
  • Foodpanda (food)
  • and many many more eligible sellers

Honestly, if you are going to be spending that $100 in purchases, why not spend that but get $10 returned to you in cash back and thereby only spending $90? That’s $10 saved!

Okay, now that you’re clear about the basics – let’s get you sorted to saving up with cash back. If you would like to register for a CashBack account, leave me your email address so I can invite you and you will automatically get FREE $10 (RM10 for Malaysia) cash back credit in your account: RM 5 when you sign-up/register and another RM5 when you make your first purchase.

Happy shopping and Happy savings!

What happens when you do not eat rice?

At the beginning of this month, I decided to do the #31NoRiceDays challenge. This meant I had to NOT eat rice during those 31 days (ie. the whole month of October) – and I had to do it CONSCIOUSLY. Gulp!

Rice was a staple in the main meals everyday in my life so just the thought was quite unimagineable.

But you won’t know what you can do, or in this case, can do without, until you try it. And I am pleased to say that I DID IT!

So, what happens when you do not eat rice?

1. People look at you funny

When you decide to do something that is not “normal”, be sure that people will react. And the reactions vary widely:

Some will insist you eat “at least just a little” – though they mean well, you have to be firm and politely insist that you will not.

Some will tease/tempt you with it – again, you just have to be firm

Some will scoff/doubt that you can do it – more than ever, these should make you more determined

Some will encourage and support you – this is the best kind of reaction:

When I started the challenge, only 1 other person was doing it with me. At the end of the challenge, there are at least 6 of us altogether encouraging and supporting one another along the way. 1 of the them has even stated that he would go on to do the Atkins diet next! This would be a lot more challenging than not taking rice so I wish him the best of luck!

2. You learn something about your eating habits

I learned that eating on time or not being hungry was important. As it was during these “very-hungry” moments that I would be most susceptible to forget it and “fall-back” on what used to be the “norm”. There were a few occasions where I thought of having rice. There was once where I very nearly took some onto my plate! But fortunately, I remembered and I was able to consciously decide to eat something else. Thus I survived a month without a single grain.

I learned that not eating rice was relatively easy – in comparison to eating clean/eating healthy! I documented my eats using the #31NoRiceDays hashtag on instagram and there were a number of meals there I wasn’t so proud of. While I indicated up-front at the start of the challenge that it was NOT a low-carb diet, I did try to reduce the amount of carbs I took as well as processed foods. There are some days I succeed. There are some days I successfully failed.

I learned that vegetables and water are my bestfriends. It just became natural to eat more vegetables and drink more water when I did not take rice. Not quite sure why, but both are good stuff so at least that’s one eating habit that I’ve happily acquired in the process.

I learned that I can survive without rice.

3. It will change you

While I didn’t expect to have a bikini body by just not eating rice, I did hope to lose some weight in the process. And I am pleased to note that I did lose about 1.5kg and 1 inch off the belly. Nothing much to shout about but it’s still a change that I happily accept. Also, a slower weight loss is more healthier and sustainable compared to a sudden one – the latter means something is very wrong somewhere.

Coincidentally, I also went for a medical check-up towards the end of the challenge and written off with a clean bill of health plus an average BMI, so while there’s loads of room for improvement (like exercising!), I am healthy and that’s what is most important.

Apart from the physical changes, there is also a general sense of feeling more “lighter” and healthier. I don’t get as sleepy or tired after non-rice lunches compared to when I had rice for lunch. And there is just a positive feeling about life overall.

Thus,

As I approached the end of the #31NoRiceDays challenge, I kept asking myself: Will I go back to eating rice again or would I continue with the non-Rice path? Or will I go completely low-carb? Or will I only eat real food (no processed foods)?

I can conclusively say that I will continue to reduce the amount of carbs I take (including rice) as well as processed foods. And it will not be a one-month challenge; it will be a lifelong one.

Cheers to healthy eating!

Solivaganting Singapore

The first time I went to Singapore was 6 years ago (Wow…it has been that long?!).

Since then, I have been back for a few more times: for a Conference in 2009, on a Company trip in 2011 and I once spent 10 hours on transit at Changi International Airport in 2014.

That said, I never planned nor expected to be in Singapore (or any other country for that matter) ON MY OWN.

Nor had I ever expected to be in Singapore FOR WORK!

And that’s the beauty of life…it’s full of unexpected surprises…

Well, the past few days being in Singapore by myself has really made me appreciate solo travel.

Getting confused at the airport…

figuring out the public transport…

figuring out how to get from point A to point B, C and D…

trying out apps like Train Maps and Grabtaxi…

and the adrenaline rush of every escapade out and about…

I had always wanted to backpack across the world (on my own if need be) but just never got the guts to do it.

Could this be the trigger that set me on the path to my solivaganting adventures?

While I cannot definitely answer that question yet, I am looking forward to my next solivaganting experience in a few weeks.

Until then,

Signing off from Changi…

Mar

Note: Solivagant is a word which can either be a noun which means “solitary adventurer” or an adjective which defines someone who wanders or travels alone without company.

#31NoRiceDays Challenge

It is the 1st of October.

The challenge begins today – and ends on 31st of October.

Self-explanatorily titled “#31NoRiceDays” the challenge is to NOT eat rice during these 31 days (ie. the whole month of October).

WHY? you ask…

Well, I have noticed that I personally can go without rice (unitentionally) for 2 to 3 days BUT by the end of that period, I start to feel weak and crave for rice. The explanation is simple. “Asians have 2 stomachs; 1 for rice and the other for ‘everything else'” – so for as long as you don’t have rice, you will always “feel hungry”.

One reason I am doing the #31NoRiceDays is to prove to myself that I CAN go without rice for a whole month.

My mom flipped when I told her what I intended to do. (BACKGROUND: We are a rice-eating family. We have rice everyday for lunch and dinner. Plus, Mom always insisted that only rice can truly “fill” us.) She immediately asked what then I would be eating instead of rice and she assumed it to be noodles. However, noodles are less healthier than rice (I heard) so that’s definitely not the plan.

So WHAT will I be eating?

I did some research online. Normally, when people give up rice, they also give up noodles, breads and grains, dairy and sugar etc. but I decided early on that #31NoRiceDays was NOT a low-carb diet. It simply is just 31 days without rice, thus, noodles, breads etc are still allowed. That said however, I want to stay as healthy as possible during this challenge, so I shall try my best to reduce their intake (especially noodles) and increase on the healthy stuff like fruits and vegetables.

WHO would be crazy enough to do this?

I am actually inspired by a dear friend of mine. She loves rice more than me. She even has it for breakfast! And a few years ago, she gave up rice for Lent! That is 40 days. More than a month. I told myself I could never survive….Time to prove myself wrong.

Lately, a few friends of Facebook have also given up rice and lost considerable amounts of weight DAILY. To good to be true it sounds. But that motivated me to try it myself.

Lastly, was chatting with some colleagues last month (over our heavy rice lunches) and it somehow came to me blurting: “Let’s not eat rice for a whole month!”….and the rest is history.

While it’s nice to know they are doing the challenge with me, the more the merrier right?

So, feel free to join me in the #31NoRiceDays Challenge, if you’re up for it.

And journey with me using the #31NoRiceDays hashtag on instagram as I will be posting pics of my non-Rice meals there.

P.S. I may update my blog occassionally during the challenge and definitely with the results when it is over. Stay tuned!:)

#livekch HASHTAGLIVE KUCHING

Kuching, capital of the Malaysian state of Sarawak on Borneo, is a bustling, diverse city of old colonial buildings and modern towers – and it will come alive in 10 days with HashtagLive Kuching!

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Happening on 12 & 13 September 2015, HashtagLive Kuching is a social media festival which will focus on the good use of social media.

Unfortunately for me, I would not be able to make it. (I swear, Kuching got a lot more hyper after I left!)

But for those of you who are in Kuching (or can make it there) you can anticipate to get to know local and up-coming youtube artist (Sarawakians and really talented!), watch and play games/egames, visit a booth by your favourite online shop and check out indie brands at the LiveMarket! And you will get to do real social media stuff at the first of a kind social media area! There are also lucky draws, contest and more happening during the event.

Nothing better to do on that weekend? (It’s a long weekend too since 12th is a public holiday) Grab the opportunity to be part of this historical event! For more info on the event, and for official merchandise like this:

t-shirtnew

Check out the official website here: http://hashtaglive.sarawakbloggers.com/

I got the blues

My last post (last month) was also the last time I had my family by my side, and as much as I thought I wouldn’t get homesick so fast, I guess I kind of currently am?

I am doing fine here and I am enjoying new adventures and experiences, don’t get me wrong. Work has kept me busy and new friends have kept me mostly occupied, but, still there is a longing for the farmiliar past. (I think the foreign exchange rate of my homeland dipping has indirectly dipped my spirits a little too)

Hopefully things get better in the coming weeks. The currency I mean. I KNOW my blues will pass too. But while I got the blues, I just wanted to say that I’m missing you…