Bus Trip to Phnom Penh

Today was the first time I took the bus from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh, thus having to cross the Vietnam-Cambodia border (by land). The bus went through the Moc Bai (Mộc Bài, Vietnam) – Bavet (បាវិត, Cambodia) border. Today I went with Sapaco Tourist. Bus condition was satisfactory based on expectations, but I should have a clearer picture when I take another company back to HCMC. I was charged US$12 but when I paid in VND, 200,000 (US$10.54) was collected from me.

Upon boarding the bus, the conductor collected my ticket and passport. Turns out that upon reaching the Vietnam side of the border crossing, the conductor will hand the whole stack of passports over to the immigration officer. Everyone just waits around till their name is called. I have absolutely no idea why they do this instead of following the convention of clearing immigrations individually.

On the Cambodian side of the border, we cleared immigrations individually. The room was awfully stuffy as electricity was out, but the immigration officers were doing really well despite sweating profusely. Oh, interestingly, someone (I guess the bus conductor) had prepared a Cambodian arrival form and even filled in the details for me, and placed it inside my passport.

The next stop after immigrations was health check and customs. Customs was taking a day off due to lack of electricity. But I guess they would just follow their intuition and check the luggage of anyone that behaves suspiciously. Health check was basically someone using a contact-less thermometer to check my temperature. He asked me what is my nationality and said thank you in Malay (terimah kasih) which really surprised me!

The whole journey took a little over 6 hours including a 20 minute lunch break. That’s my account of the border crossing. Bring lots of water, but try not to drink unnecessarily if you want to avoid the toilet on the bus. Going out for dinner :-)

End of Holiday

I’m now back in HCMC. Staying the night with my parents in their hotel. I guess in a way I do enjoy the classy life. I just found out that a friend in China is now a PA for GM in Beijing. Reminds me of the time when I was in Beijing. I definitely think that Beijing is quite a liveable place. Winters there are supposedly easier to get through because there is heating, whereas public facilities in Shanghai didn’t have heating due to the way the north-south boundary was drawn, for deciding whether to install heating.

Oh yeah, I bumped into the person who sat next to me on my flight to Singapore today on the way back! Nice pleasant surprise :)

Had a good meeting with a friend last night. He’s doing really well financially and just got a job offer from Microsoft. I think he is one of the few people whom I know who already has passive income at 24. As we discussed the possibility of having more income than you can spend and what to do with it, it spurred me to start taking serious steps towards generating streams of passive income to free me up to do whatever I need and want to do. E.g. reading, spending time with family, writing, designing, sharing.

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(男)願意相信, (女)愛我的主,我願意相信,
萬事萬物都在你手裏, 我教你順服,我的旨意。


First Thoughts of Blackberry Bold 9700

Just got a Blackberry Bold 9700 this week and have been trying it out. Honest first impressions? I’m not too impressed. Maybe it’s partly because I don’t have the Blackberry service, so I’ll find out more when I meet my other friend who’s also a Blackberry user later. To me, the Chinese functionality is definitely inadequate and inferior compared to my Nokia 8500 XpressMusic. Firstly, the preloaded dictionary is very limited, whereas my Nokia included phrases like “不好意思” which makes it a huge time saver. Also, with the Blackberry, I need to type the complete pinyin for the first word before any of the phrase recognition kicks into action. So to get “不好”, I would need to type “buh” before it shows up. However with my Nokia, I could just key in “bhys” and “不好意思” would show up immediately.

Yes, there are shortcuts but they have to be set up manually :(

Overall, an average grade. Of course I haven’t played around much with the apps yet.

Oh, and another negative experience is the poor synchronization with Macs. Ever since I started trying to sync my Blackberry with my Mac using Blackberry Desktop Manager, it’s really screwed up some of my data and isn’t as graceful as iSync.

Unless my friend gives me strong reasons, I think I will be going back to Nokia (or maybe consider Android).

















A few days ago, I listened to a few sermons from Covenant Life Church by Joshua Harris. He talked about not wasting our lives, and also the issue of self-control in a wired world. What really struck out to me was the need for purpose. Truly without purpose and direction in our lives, it is just too easy for life to pass us by without us noticing.

Unfortunately I notice that is is too easy for me to lose track of my purpose, without regularly keeping the vision ahead of me. There have been far too many wasted lives. Far too much time, cognitive resources that have been wasted because of the distractions of the good, that rob us from our destiny of the best.

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Stepping Out

Despite having been in HCMC for over 2 months, I never took to the roads by myself. I have been relying on my brother and taxis for getting around, which made me feel really crippled. Yesterday afternoon, while my sis-in-law was in the office, she asked if anyone was willing to go and buy a cup of sugarcane. There were reasons not to—I would be going by myself, I would be dealing with a fairly big bike..

Up till yesterday I had only ridden a motorbike in the compound that I live in, but never on “open roads”. And I realised that perhaps an opportunity was present to just step out and give it a shot. After all what was the worst that could go wrong? And in the end I went (with a little difficulty with the carpark ramp) without much problem.

Indeed, sometimes all it takes is a little faith and the courage to step out. All my years in Singapore and Australia with high safety standards, riding on a motorbike was never much of a thought. My first experience though was really with a friend in Australia who was passionate about motorbikes, my honours-mate who gave me lifts home when there were no buses. But I have learnt that putting my own hands on the handlebars for the first time is indeed gratifying.

Don’t get too comfortable where you are, because change is the only constant in life, and when you anticipate it and move with it, life becomes a whole lot more enjoyable :)

A New Chapter

On February 25th this year, I boarded a flight to Ho Chi Minh City with the intention of staying here for a few years. Although I enjoyed my two previous trips in 2008 and 2009, my greatest motivation for coming here was really because I believed this is the right path to take, to shape and mould me for my future.

Having been here for over two months has opened my eyes to the world around me. Indeed the voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes (Marcel Proust). Unlike previous trips to Cambodia and Vietnam, putting my roots down this time allows me to get to know the people and feel the heartbeat of the city. I do admit that language has been one of the biggest hindrances to doing almost anything here—interacting with people on a deep level, shopping by myself, transport.

Despite language barriers, I am thankful for the wonderful environment that I have been in. Two things that I absolutely love about this place are the food and the people. For those who have not tasted Vietnamese food before, the best way to find out is really to go to your nearest Vietnamese restaurant and give it a shot. You can start with their most famous noodles phở (pronounced fir without the “r”).

The Vietnamese whom I’ve met are also largely friendly and helpful. I have also heard some brief war stories and hope to be able to share them as I write over time :)

Chronicles of life in Asia, where all the action is!