Soak in LOCAL colours: Returning to Vietnam

And I didn’t know I will be returning to Vietnam for a second trip. This time round, it is a business trip at Danang. The traffic that filled with the constant honking continues to amaze me.

Seeing how a roadside chic juice store operates along an esplanade is even more amazing. Here’s a picture of it:

A roadside juice store in Vietnam, Danang

“Let’s do what the locals do,” I suggested to my colleague.

And we proceeded to one of the “front row” seats located outside the store.

The first thing that attracted me about the cafe was that where possible, everyone who was patronising the store sat facing the road and the river bank, oblivious to the air pollution and noise pollution. The seats and tables were small and arranged neat rows in the tightest possible configuration to fit in as many customers as they could. All seats were arranged facing the road and the river.

There were actually a couple of such cafes located all along the road. Some selling fruit juice but majority selling coffee. And only coffee. No snacks, just tea and coffee. The seats were almost always small, almost always arranged in a way such that you could look outside.

For this particular one, it comes with its own valet service manned by a team of six to eight young men!

The “team-leader” of the valet service inviting patrons on who were on their motorbikes.

They were extremely organised in my opinion. From observations, I believe they have split themselves into three teams:

The first team comprises the person who I perceived as the team leader, along with another would proactively call out to customers, ON BIKES, on the roads, to ask them to enjoy a drink in the store.

The second team will mark the bikes with chalk and safe-keep the keys for the customers.

The third team will ride the bikes to a parking space just behind the store.

The amazing thing was that business is extremely good! Every 2 minutes or so, the team will be able to attract business into the store. I wouldn’t have thought that such service could work.

Sometimes, interested customers may end up on the opposite side of the road, facing difficulty to ride across the other side of the road against the crazy Vietnam traffic. The team would then cross the road to help the customers to handle their bike.

Talk about personalised service!

I don’t think I ever saw such modus operandi in running a roadside cafe. It was an eye opening experience for me.

I don’t do a lot of shopping or eating or massaging when I’m travelling although I do enjoy a bit of touristy stuff once in a while. What I enjoy most is to learn the culture and observe how locals live their daily life. Another way to describe things, to “soak myself in local colours”.

Do you soak yourself in local colours too?



the ART of studying (part 1): the POWER of two JC students

We seldom meet and seldom speak. But we knew can have the most intellectual conversations together even after not contacting each other for so long. It’s always great to meet an old friend and reminisce about the past. Time really flies and it’s almost two decades since we’ve known each other.

And so, eventually, the topic about how N and I studied for examinations came into our conversations. My pet topic with the polytechnic students I teach. I find it an imperative to let them know how hard the JC students actually studied so that they won’t get a culture shock when they hit the university.

“… and I started studying during the mid-term break at about 9 weeks before the examination, doing past year papers, even though the Professor has not finished teaching more than half the material.

By the time we got into the examination study week, I would have almost ran out of past year papers to do!” I proudly declare it to N.

“Same here. I started studying two weeks before the start of the semester. As in, I will always read the lecture notes two weeks before the actual class.

By the time we got into the examination study week, I’ve already ran out of past year papers to do so I started search for Harvard and MIT papers from the Internet to do.” N spoke about it casually.

“You WHAT?!”

Didn’t realise he was that hard core.

There’s one thing we can both agree. Don’t ever study the last minute. We both spent the day before the examination doing something else much to the envious eyes of our own groups of friends.


Designing Board Games | the Dilemma that Limits Potential

It has been slightly more than one year since I’ve started designing this game, with the focus on getting a few mechanics which I thought would be interesting to work on. It has been a difficult time trying to push the project forward when I have so many other mini-projects which I am working on at the same time.

Nevertheless, I’m proud that at the very least, the game managed to be play through till the end! This will mean that major parts of the game has stabalised. Moving forward, tweaks are needed and I can probably focus on a different part of the project a bit more. Like game balance, artwork, and UI/UX aspects.

At first, I was thinking that I will close the project after this play test as it has been taking far too long; I can’t commit time to work on it quickly. A small part of me wanted to see it to fruition as a published game now that it seemed like I’m close to completion. Deep down, I also know that this is probably not fun enough a game to attract players and I don’t feel like putting in that much effort into it.  Hence for now, this is a dilemma which I have.

It is actually not the first time I am faced with this dilemma. If I’m being absolutely truthful with myself, I probably didn’t see the push factor for me to drive it to be published – just too much work on top of my day job to see something through.

That’s what happen to music. I’m one step short of getting my music published in some way. I felt that there’s too much money to be invested in order to produce a proper demo to be sold. I’ll need to venture into bits that I don’t like to do, such as picking up the technical skills to do a proper demo recording. I felt bored as there was no longer a breakthrough.

And then I stopped.

And then I moved on to something else.

Come to think of it, I believe this is a dilemma that is going to limit my potential again and again.

While I’m not sure what to do with it yet, I better do something about it fast.


Last Run?

Carrying an injury into the half marathon and completing it in a bit over 2hr 25mins. Not my best run but at least it qualifies as an average.

The aftermath was unbearable though. Pain sets in.

The Chinese physician whom I consulted said I sustained injury to multiple joints. These include my right hip and my 3rd lumbar vertebra of the spine. The knees are not going well too.

“Swim. It’s good for you. Don’t run or jump or it’s going to aggravate the situation,” the physician warned.

“Am I going to recover?” I asked.

“Of course, you will. How old do you think you are?” he quipped.

I find little relieved in his words though. These days, every injury I sustained seemed to take me longer to heal. This is the first time I had an injury to my spine. Physically, I am really feeling my age.

Deep down, I really fear that I couldn’t run anymore.

But there’s still so many runs I have not done! Like the 4:30 pace for my 2.4km, the sub-2 Half Marathon, and I really wanted to do a marathon in Japan some day.

I need to treat self-care very very seriously.


simplify… phase two

Bit my lips.
Thank it.
Placed it aside to be given away.

Feel like keeping it.
Thank it.
Placed it in the rubbish bin.

Give up an active pursuit to learn it.
Learn to let go of it.
Told myself doesn’t mean I stop it totally.
Just means more time and more focus for more things that matters more.

Throwing away stuff everyday,
Stopping an active pursuit for something that isn’t active in the first place,
The never ending mission to lighten my load.

Need to be free.

~Flex Tio~

I still think I own too much stuff and have too many passion. The irony is that these passions became passive, and if that’s the case, are they still passion?

I decided to stop learning Cantonese as a 5th language formally. I’m giving away my dictionary of Cantonese Slang to my friend and throwing away the Cantonese Drama which I never watched. But this doesn’t stop me from learning a bit of Cantonese here and there right?

And there’s so much more passion and hobbies I have that I better have some clarity how I want to pursue them soon.



“Go go! Just go for it!” he shouted at the top of his voice and he came running from behind, passed me and sprint off forward.

He wasn’t anyone who I know, just someone who is taking the Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) with me. He chose to cheered on even though I’m sure he is freaking tired. It was infectious.

I reciprocated. I widen my steps and took my best attempt to sprint towards to finish line too, completing my 2.4km run station just behind him, getting my first ever Gold standard!

It was a goal I had for previous years but as I never did achieve it, I drop it out of my New Year Resolution for the past two years. Getting a knack that I could do this this time, I committed for a goal to gold just six weeks before!

As I proudly showed my comrades, who are relaxing at the stadium stand with their fruit juice, the number “5” chip which I got from the run (which meant that I came in 5th out of the cohort of 35 odd), fellow comrade AC chirped in:

At this age, you still can accomplish a Gold, you know that when you believe, you can do anything. Really.

Well, I guess I can. Thank you both of you for your motivation during the run and the after thoughts inspiration. I’ll remember this dearly.


getting attention

I like goggles for my eye wear, I really do. I couldn’t resist getting this pair of spectacles: the Butterfly Effect series from Owndays when I came across it. I chose the most outstanding colour of the three for myself. Wearing it for about two weeks now, even though this pair of spectacles is causing some pain at various pressure points, I felt very me with this pair of spectacles. The little rebel in me.

It is like those times where I would dress a bit differently to look outstanding: trench coats, suspenders, bow-ties, although not all of it at one go of course. Or sometimes a little bit more subtle with my pair of Walking Tall.

Days that I just felt like getting some attention. And sure I got lots and lots of it! And I learnt quite a fair bit from the attention I’m getting too.


I learnt that my students were more ready to give me compliments compared to my colleagues even though they probably don’t know me as well. Perhaps my students were surprised by my antics where to my colleagues, they have sort of expected it.

I learnt that there will still be haters and I still get affected by that single “bad” comment out of all those good. But I also learnt to laugh it off as best as I could. Not sure if I feel good deep inside, but it’s just part and parcel of living.

Finally, I also learnt that this pair of spectacles could get me an extra serving of noodles at the cookhouse yesterday morning! When I was helping myself to the breakfast, the cookhouse lady had initially prevented me from getting the noodles (apparently, you can only choose to have either the “Western” breakfast or the noodles). As I was about to clear my tray, she asked me to come get another serving of noodles and we struck a conversation about my pair of spectacles.

Just hope that the pain points can go away as I get used to wear this pair of spectacle. Then all would be well.