Archive for December, 2013

why courage doesn’t matter

Posted: December 30, 2013 in Pre-trip


i’ve heard the phrase ‘i really admire your courage’ a dozen times during the past month. well, i really beg to differ.

a grown man stood up to 2 teenagers who wanted to rob him. pretty normal right? how about a young boy with his younger brother walking down the streets and these 2 teenagers ambushed them. the young boy stood up against them to defend his brother. now, does that put things into perspective what courage is really about?

i’ve been exposed to travelling alone and i know what dangers i’m getting into so I’m not really the young boy. it’s about breaking your limits and going beyond what you would normally do that defines if you are courageous.

courage cannot be measured against others; it’s not like height, weight or money. it’s within, intangible and should only be measured against oneself.


5 reasons why we should fail to plan

Posted: December 19, 2013 in Pre-trip

we’ve all heard the phrase fail to plan, plan to fail. well, here’s 5 reasons why failing to plan might not be a bad thing.


1) it’s a good change from the norm that you expect. or rather, what you can’t expect. you’re actually planning in this sense, because you are expecting the worst.

2) you always have the time to learn as long as it’s not an immediate life and death situation. you will be forced to improvise and learn as you go. we all know that OJT always works better than books.

3) know how you hate it when you fail to keep to a plan? sometimes it’s easier to follow your heart and just go. it gives you a lot more flexibility and you end up doing what you like at the point in time.

4) it might be cheaper and wiser to make decisions at the last moment. you may get bargains for last minute deals (think bread and sushi at 9pm) and apparently it’s the making of a champion.

5) you learn what you truly want at that point in time, not 3 months ago when you were surrounded by graphs, spreadsheets and bullet headers in your aircon room

having said that, i do plan to a certain extent. the singaporean in me kicks in after a couple of weeks. i have my vaccinations, i buy my insurance, i know which countries require visas, i brought a nail cutter and yes, i have extra underwear.

5 stages of an investment bank employee

Posted: December 16, 2013 in Pre-trip

5 stages of an investment banking employee


1) the new joiner stage
computer: not locked
handphone: on the table
usually happens within the first week or so when a new comer does not realise that the computer must be locked before leaving the desk. assumes that the office is a perfectly safe environment and that no one would steal their handphone. typically first job. skips to stage 2 if he has prior IB experience.

2) the new bird stage
computer: locked
handphone: on the table
probably trolled once or twice without locking the computer and has treated the team to drinks etc. realizes the direct correlation between wallet and locking the computer. still believes that there is good in this world and trusts that no one would touch his phone. has been out with the team for at least a couple of lunches.

3) the old bird stage
computer: locked
handphone: always on him
trolled multiple times. realizes that his friends has totally no qualms about stealing his phone and posting weird stuff on his facebook. always feels safer with his phone on him or has started using a pin code as a safety feature. has default lunch buddies and probably hangs out with his colleagues on weekends.

4) the buddies stage
computer: locked
handphone: on the table
doesn’t bother bringing his phone with him when he goes to the toilet because all his colleagues knows his secrets. still believes in locking his computer because of compliance purposes or fear of being reprimanded by the bosses. has probably been overseas with his colleagues and knows most of their login id/passwords. has gone drinking with his colleagues and has probably saved their asses when they got dead drunk.

5) the bff stage
computer: not locked
handphone: on the table
doesn’t bother locking his computer because he knows his colleagues would lock it for him if anyone tries to be funny. leaves his phone on his desk because everyone knows his secrets anyway. inseparable with his colleagues even on weekends. probably married to his job, hasn’t had a hair cut in months and has an entire survival kit in the drawer. (read: FOOD)

disclaimer: scientific studies shows that this happens only in operations and not in finance because there’s no direct correlation between the wallet and locking the computer in finance. or maybe because they grew up. or maybe cause they just don’t give a damn.

i’m still young, fit and able. and by that, i mean i can get from point A to point B by myself. i’m sure you can too. it doesn’t take more than that to travel. get on a bus, pay the fare and you’re all set for your trip! it’s not always about planes. and that’s exactly how i plan to travel. buses, trains and what nots. the road is long, but i know some day i’ll fulfill my childhood dream to see the edges of the world, the northern lights, russia and lately, north korea. it’s bucket lists time baby!

northern lights

i have the ability to earn my own money in singapore. or maybe even overseas. it’s not about the amount, it’s about how you can come up with ways to earn money. what’s more exciting than working in another country? strawberry plucker? waiter? carpenter? bring on the weird jobs baby! how much can these jobs earn you? probably not much. but how much do you actually need? when you take a step back, you realise how little you actually need to survive. it all boils down to wants and needs. surprisingly, it doesn’t cost THAT much to travel the world. i’m pretty sure i have enough to spend…. for now.

but people do ask me, how can you quit your job for something like this? that’s because i do not see my current job as my career (sorry guys in the office! no offence!!). and neither do most of you guys! opportunity cost? lost income? and you compare those with living your life to the fullest? it’s quite a no brainer right? besides copy and pasting (CPA – Copy Paste Analyst), i want to find out what else i can do in life. i spent the first couple of years exploring what it is like to work. a couple of jobs and several years later, i realise that only the extremely lucky ones would know what they want to do in life. the luckier than average group would figure out what they DON’T like to do. and for the majority, we still have no freaking idea what’s going on with our lives. thankfully, i’m teetering on the borders of what i do not want to do in life.

so what did you do in your last 12 months? what if i told you that i’m about to remove the last 12 months of your life, would it make any difference? what about the next 12 months of your life, would you be doing the same? i know i’m not.

i have nothing much to my name, which means I have nothing much to lose as well. but the one thing i do have, it’s the total (exclude financial) support of my family and friends.

last and most importantly, i’ve had enough of first world problems. is your excel giving you issues? did that colleague in london send a nasty email overnight? are you shoes soaked because it’s raining? did the train breakdown again? i think it’s time we realise what the real issues billions of people face daily.

first world problems

so what’s your excuse not to travel?

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if i can discover an island during my trip, i would call it…….


the kukujiao islands

in all seriousness, that island (kukujiao in the map above) should be the present day raoul island, a volcanic island off new zealand. raoul island was probably named after a crewman of the captain who found the island. subsequently it was called sunday after being found a second time on a sunday. boring isn’t it??


if you have 6 months to spare and are adept at living in the wild, you might want to volunteer with them. live on an island with food provided, snokerlling when you want and the ever present sound of waves. what more can you ask?

1) you’re spending time with someone that you should love more be it strolling on the beach or eating alone, it’s spending quality time with yourself. and that’s the person you should really invest your time in. the one person you should be loving more than anyone else.

2) increase your stats. boys don’t evolve into men. we are not pokemon. boys simply level up. build up on your character, your attributes, your skills. it’s just like in an RPG game and remember, you’re only at the start.

life stats

3) do what you want, when you want. because freedom can sometimes be bought, at a price. fancy a beer? fancy a walk down town at 2am? the freedom of doing what you want without any other considerations is liberating. think about it, your decision would not piss anyone off but would make everyone you know (yourself, because you are travelling alone) happy. you will be gone with all the peer and social pressures, the norms and culture that you have to follow everyday. can it get better than that?

4) and you get to know your limits. how can you know your limits if you don’t step out of your comfort zone? you get to know what you are afraid of and what you are capable of. can’t sleep alone in the dark? tired after walking for 2 hours? what are your limits, and how do they compare with others?


5) you won’t be in a travelling bubble where you and your companions are in your own world. ryan murdock: When you go with others, the trip is about the dynamics of the group. You seldom interact with the world you’re passing through. And the effect is magnified for couples. A couple travels in a self-contained bubble that others are reluctant to breach.

personal bubble

6) you’ll be forced to socialise. you have to rely on others for the bathroom towel, the faulty light in your hostel, the closet water point, the nearest train station and the ‘stuck in the cubicle without toilet paper scenario’. let’s just hope you don’t get into the last one.

7) and of course you’ll meet new people. weird or not, you’ll still get to know people nonetheless.

new people

8) you’ll get to see THAT look on people’s faces when you say that you are travelling alone. THAT. LOOK. IS. PRICELESS. people never seem to believe that anyone can ever travel alone.


9) you’re less likely to be treated as a tourist as compared to a traveller. unless you want to be seen as a tourist…

10) you don’t have to deal with your companion’s mood swings. oh but that’s zooey deschanel. she doesn’t have mood swings or a temper. her morning breath probably smells like sweet cookies and even her farts carry a scent of lavender.


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it’s like preparing for your end. you write your will, you tie up loose ends and you say your goodbyes. in more ways than one, my 1 year of travelling seems to prepare me for my ultimate demise. i’ve been meeting up with people who matters to me, doing things that i value and discovering new stuff that i never knew about.

although the trip has not begun, i’ve already started learning.

1) people open up once you do. i was never the strongest or the alpha male. i have my weaknesses and i’m open about sharing that. the main topic was supposed to be about me sharing more about my trip, but i would usually end up learn more about my friends after i break the news to them. i’ve heard of more than a few broken relationships, family issues, money worries, job stability etc. in a way, i’m glad that my departure allowed people to share more about themselves.


2) it’s never easy to forgive. saying goodbyes to people i value allowed me to connect with friends who i’ve lost over the years. people who have drifted away but are nonetheless people who i value. the blame game of why we drifted seems to take centre stage at times. i’ve learnt that it’s never easy for anyone to apologise and let it get past us. that we should be looking forward. maybe it’s only cause of goodbyes that people finally see how minute certain issues are.


3) people are often stuck at where they are. some of them complain about their jobs but are afraid of changes. as a wise pollypocket used to say: our pay is so stagnant that it’s breeding mosquitoes. i know that most of us are bound by commitments and problems. but what about the rest that are aimless? this has made me even more determined to inspire others into getting out of their comfort zone.


4) no one person has objected to my trip, but no one i know has ever done it. the debate was three-pronged: am i fulfilling their dreams, is it a very courageous move, or does everyone just want to travel? the debate is still open so do let me know your thoughts.

mai lah

5) that there are 2 main groups of people, the objective and the dreamers. the objective are the ones that goes straight into the ‘do you have enough money to spend for the year’ question. and the dreamers are the ones that goes ‘what’s your route like, i’m joining you!’ so which are you?


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