Thursday, July 31, 2008

Malaysia Book Update 14: It Arrived!

Finally, the day has arrived...! Seriously, it was a mixed feeling. At one hand, I was excited to see how the book turned out, and on the other hand, I was rather anxious as there is the next step once the books arrive.

But, the day has been planned, and it is the arrival of the books!

The expected time of arrival - in the evening. So at around 6pm, I got a call that the driver of the printers are here in Malacca. The books have made its way to this UNESCO listed heritage city.

As the driver wasn't too familiar with the roads, I met them at a landmark place so that I could guide them.

malaysia book, release
Me guiding the lorry

The driver & his assistant seems to be enjoying the ride in historical Malacca, going at a leisurely pace. Well, I guess being in outstation, one can't help but just admire the town.

malaysia book, release
The lorry still in good view

It was a relatively short journey. And their speed made me relaxed a lil.

malaysia book box & lorry
Finally, we arrived to our destination

Bit by bit, the workers unloaded the books. Again, in a relatively cool leisurely manner. I didn't mind - more time to cool down.

malaysia book boxes
The lorry near empty

malaysia book box
This is how 1 carton looks like, which is about 13kg

Of course, I was more concerned with what's inside!

The sight of blue & yellow.

It was like opening a gift/ present. Some of you may have felt like this as well before. It was a mixed bag of feelings throughout especially here - I just wanted the books to turn out fine.

50+1 malaysia book
50+1 Malaysia - the book

And yes, it didn't disappoint. The book looks good from the outside and even the inside. It did have the nice feel to it - paper-wise & colour as well.

I feel relieved. And happy. Finally, the 50+1 Malaysia book has arrived.

*Today is its official release - available online first at The Malaysia Page. It will be in bookstores within the next few days.

In the meantime, there is a Special Offer if purchased online.

And for bloggers, there is also a chance to win a copy of the book! :)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Make Your Presence Known Easily

I have mentioned time over time on the power of internet. Well apart from business, even personal users can enjoy the internet for themselves.

Bloggers have been doing this for a while now, sharing ideas through their blogs. And others actually share their videos or photos through the many share sites.

Then there is also the big wave of social networking, from creating online personalities to joining in discussions (to once again share our views).

One Site Does It All
Well, there is one new site which actually combines all these together. Call it like a one stop centre -!

Users who sign up can create their blogs here. The good thing is that because this is community like, so your blog will be read by other users from the site (as it will appear in their main page). This is good for those who want instant readers without having to really market their blogs.

And sharing your videos/ photos to your blogs are made easier - as you can actually upload them direct - ie no need to go through a 3rd party site.

Another interesting function of this site is its community forum. Interestingly, unlike many other forums which topics are quite limited (even limited to country specific), this site is like a one-catch-all one. Eg. you can share your opinion on books, beauty and fashion, astronomy, politics, religion and even creative writing. Btw, joining forums are good to promote your online presence especially if you are a blogger.

If community type sites are what you like, I would say it would be good to be a member here, and make your presence be known in the virtual world :)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Tourism Movies

I've recently watched a few movies, many of them seem to be featuring picturesque China.

From the animated Kung Fu Panda to the Chinese war epic of the Red Cliff movie, China is given quite a good highlight, and in a way, 'playing a vital role' in the movie. Of course, these international movies were scripted with China in mind, and can't be replaced with a backdrop of any other country for that matter.

But then, the recent Hollywood blockbuster Batman, The Knight Rider which has background of modern day cities choose to have a feature of Hong Kong. Though it was just a small glimpse in the film, but featuring HK as a prominent international Chinese city here is something to be recognised about.

Of course, there are many more films using China as backdrops... and all this is good for the country, especially when the beautiful sceneries from the country (in this case, China) is used as backdrops.

But it's not only China that the film makers have made popular. Remember how Lord Of The Rings (LOTR) made quite an impact in the tourists flocking to the relatively quiet country of New Zealand? Well now, there is even LOTR tour guides there - touring the places that were shot in the country.

This goes to show that big blockbusters especially give a good impact on tourism to a particular country. The background view may seem unimportant to the viewers, but in fact, it makes the movie complete... like I mentioned, some just need these backgrounds because the films are meant to depict a certain country, while others enhancing a movie & complimenting its script.

And when we viewers watch these picturesque backgrounds, we may remember the movie, but we also remember the sceneries. And that could jolly well be one of our destinations in the future.

So, that is why many countries welcome film makers to make 'tourism movies'. Film makers, especially the ones with big outreach are spoilt for choice as many countries tourism bodies/ boards welcome them with open arms.

The help & assistance usually do not come in monetary terms though I've read about TV shows that are sponsored. The help come in like visas, production location shoot, accommodation & flight/ transport.

I guess the big film makers already know all these info. But for budding film makers, and even local film makers, we should use this information wisely for our future films and aim to go global with it.

Next up: Movies that have made our country on the world map.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Malaysia Book Update 13: Thank You

Today, I just met an acquaintance who mentioned "Don't need to be so entrepreneurial - this is the real world... it's not easy".

Wow, that sure is a way to 'throw cold water' on an entrepreneur or even to break the spirits of some entrepreneurs, especially the younger ones.

I know the life of being an entrepreneur is a though one, but to ask to 'compromise' on our works & dreams, that is like doing something half-heartedly... I would rather not be one, if I'm asked to just do something in a small way (& without 100% passion).

Entrepreneurs have our dreams & ideas, which to an extent seem like fantasies. And to turn all ideas into realities, we face a lot of obstacles & challenges along the way. But shouldn't we give our heart out in what we do?

We don't have to do it alone
One way to help us along the way is getting support from family members & friends. I always believe the former is usually of utmost important & I am ever grateful for a supportive family who chip in ideas & at times work with me as well, helping from small tasks to bigger errands. And the encouragement from sincere friends are always welcoming as well.

But sometimes even with the help of these may not be sufficient, and more help is needed along the way.

And that is the case with this 50+1 Malaysia book project.

Thank You, Sponsors & Advertisers
So, now that the 50+1 Malaysia book is near to 'it's birth', I would like to thank the people & companies behind this project. Allow me to briefly share my experiences with them as well.

1. Ministry of Tourism Malaysia & the Visit Malaysia Secretariat

malaysia sponsor, visit malaysia secretariat

In Visit Malaysia Year 1990, I imagined how cool it was Malaysia having a promotional year for tourists. Never had I imagined then that I could work with you guys on promoting the country 18 years later in 2008.

And despite you guys keep on making quite a fair bit of changes & demands, but at the end of the day, I can really see that it is for the better. Let's promote Malaysia together :)

2. TNT
Thanking you for this opportunity to allow us to give it back to the many contributors a free copy of the 50+1 Malaysia book. You guys really make their day... now, the contributors can be happy to get back in kind their contribution in promoting Malaysia.

3. Jim Thompson's Mythai Restaurant & Retail Shops

malaysia sponsor, jim thompson
Mythai @ Starhill, KL

You were actually amongst the firsts to be part of this project and although we changed a fair bit of direction, you have never failed to continue trusting & believing in this project.

I've always admired your company for the beautiful designs & quality standards in your Thai silks. Never had I imagined doing business with you guys despite visiting your outlets so many times. Kap kun kap!

4. Menara KL & Menara Taming Sari Melaka

malaysia sponsor, kl tower
Apparently, this tower is more than just a scenery - from dining to nature & adventure

malaysia sponsor, menara taming sari
The latest attraction in historical Malacca

Thank you for the ease of work & communication throughout. It's great to know that amongst the tallest tower in the world is supporting us.

5. Galeri Petronas & Petrosains

malaysia sponsor, galeri petronas
The upmarket gallery in KLCC

malaysia sponsor, petrosains

To have such high end local tourist attractions supporting this project is one great trust & leap forward for the company.

6. Sarawak Energy

malaysia sponsor, sarawak energy

For a listed company & from Sarawak some more, it goes to show no boundaries amongst Malaysians.

And it is wonderful to know your company's vision & support in wanting to together develop Malaysia.

7. Bill Keith

malaysia sponsor, bill keith

It is my aim to work with designers again. And to have one of Malaysia's most distinguished designers of all time, this is something we would treasure.

Your combination of local & international flavour, promoting Malaysia is most admired!

8. Karl Ng

malaysia sponsor, karl ng
Karl Ng @ The Gardens, Mid Valley

As a first time being introduced to you, you have the talent & business acumen to go big. Many thanks for the quick decisions & allowing us to be creative on our side.

There are a few other Advertisers who made this whole book possible. To all Advertisers & Sponsors, many thanks for being part of this get together in uniting Malaysians & promoting Malaysia :)

*Btw, we are still looking to work with a few more Sponsors & those will be announced in due time.

*In my next book update, I would be thanking the many contributors who has 'drew the pages' of this book from white to full colour.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

East Coast Park Beach

I mentioned that I went to this playground of Singapore recently - the East Coast Park. But apart from eating at its string of restaurants & eateries, one can do so many other activities, much more than one can imagine especially if you don't know Singapore well enough.

As the East Coast Park is located beside the beach, this park is crowded especially over the weekends (yes, the view on the weekend & on the weekday is very different).

From the quiet weekdays, the weekends are crowded and full of people going about with their many activities. Families, couples, friends - young & old are all out to enjoy the good weather & relax by the beach.

east coast park, singapore, beach, seaview
The beach overlooking with ships

"Why bring me to see ships?"
I was once asked by my foreign friend saying "Why bring me to see ships?". Well, for most (if not all) of Singapore's beaches like this one, you will always see the many ships around it, reminding that this island city is an international port.

Anyway, I think that it is kinda unique in a way - firstly, not many cities in South East Asia has beaches and on top of that to have the many ships as a view!

Of Sand Castles
As we were walking, we noticed a few people building sand castles. Yes, beach & sand castles go together. So it does seem like a normal sight.

east coast park, singapore, beach, sandcastle
A group of people making the sand castle

east coast park, singapore, beach, family building sandcastle
A family get together event

But as we walked further, there were not just a few people building castles, but so many Singaporeans were at this beach spending their time building their castles!

Now I've been to many beaches around the region, and never have I seen so many people building sand castles at one time. And what more, the city folks who we always think have lil time for leisure apart from shopping & maybe eating? (ok, I'm generalising here).

east coast park, singapore, beach, big sand castle
Wow, what an ambitious castle

east coast park, singapore, beach, sand caslte car
The prize display - I guess this is from the company providing the tools for sandcastle making. Can you see the F1 car?

east coast park, singapore, beach, children building sand castle
Young, old, they are all out to build their fantasy dream castles

I know many foreigners who will be amused & surprised that the Singaporeans do have time to enjoy & take time off to relax. Yes, it's not just a fast paced city without leisure.

More Than Sand Castles
Now not all are into sand castle making. The locals are also enjoying their free time doing a host of other activities at this park by the beach/ beach by the park.

east coast park, singapore, beach, camping
You'll be surprised - there are so many tents here. The last time I camped out was like a decade back during the scout times only

east coast park, singapore, bbq
Another common activity here is bbq! There are bbq pits provided speically for those into bbqing! This really is a planned city heh, even up to your leisure & bbq!

Btw, sometimes, there are also large families who come together bringing their big pots & sharing their meals together.

For The Adventurous
And for those more adventurous (or should I say more fit), there are other activities that they engage in.

east coast park, singapore, exercise
Instead of doing your stretch at the gym with a wall or city view, why not get a seaview!

east coast park, singapore, lane for jogging & cycling
Lanes for you to cycle & jog, shaded by the big rain trees. Pedestrians (non exercising), beware of on coming cyclists & joggers!

Can you see, that although this is already a no vehicle park, but yet there is zebra crossings. Singapore really goes to every detail :)

And if one thought there aren't many cyclists around Singapore, well look at this:

east coast park, singapore, beach, bicycle
Just look at the crowd at the bicycle centre where you can rent a bicycle for your ride in the park

I always love to bring my foreigner friends to this part of the island. Many who come here are usually very pleasantly surprised that there is much more to Singapore than its city image of shopping centres & discos or its touristy places.

In fact, its quite a 'happening' place as well huh, judging by the crowd on a Sunday evening...

east coast park, singapore, beach, car park
Car Park FULL!

*STB, if you ever read this, I guess you can list this part of Singapore in your list of places to visit, as like I mentioned, it really is rather Unique!

*Public buses are available, but the best way to get to the East Coast Park beach is by vehicle - it will cost not more than S$20 (usually around $10-15) by cab if you are coming from the city.

Monday, July 21, 2008

East Coast Park Hawker Centre

Recently just went to the East Coast Park Singapore. This long stretch of beach is quite well known amongst the locals, especially those staying in the East of Singapore. The long stretch of beach is such a good view, espeically along the ECP expressway.

There are many food outlets & restaurants along the long stretch of beach, from pubs to Korean restaurant, Chinese restaurant, fast food and even a big hawker's centre.

I particularly like this hawker's centre as it has a wide variety of local food & many of which are rather delicious.

It is really a cheap way of eating by the beach, enjoying the sea view & sea breeze. For beach lovers, this just can't get any better!

East Coast Park Singapore hawker's centre
The hawker centre is just beside the beach. These seats & tables have seaview!

And if you look closely, even the tourists are here. Though a lil rare compared to like the more popular Sentosa beach, but I think the East Coast Park is making a name for itself now. I myself, bring my overseas friends here, as to show them another part of Singapore that is less commonly advertised in the tourist brochures.

And compared to many other Singapore hawker centres, this hawker centre is rather unique - as it is covered from the rain/ sun yet it is opened air, allowing one to enjoy the sea breeze & have a feel of 'island life'.

East Coast Park Singapore hawker's centre, seaview
The spacious hawker's centre

Wide Variety Of Food
What is a hawker's centre without its good food right? Well, this East Coast Park hawker's centre serve quite good local food, and a huge variety to choose from. There are so many stalls to choose from.

Sometimes, some of the sellers sell similar food. But, ask around & there are 'the pros'.

Here, a take on some of the food I had:
East Coast Park Singapore hawker's centre, cattlefish rojak
The cattlefish rojak. My first time having a mixture of both.

In fact, this stall sells many different rojak varieties, including tauhu with rojak or century egg with rojak as well.

East Coast Park Singapore hawker's centre, popiah

The popiah was alrite. In fact, would have been better if the popiah skin was homemade with egg, which is a rarity.

East Coast Park Singapore hawker's centre, fried oyster
"Huh, take photo... pay first leh"

Was so eager to capture this that I forgot I've yet to pay for the fried oyster. Anyway, this is supposedly the more famous fried oyster there - according to one of the other sellers.

The fried oyster was slightly above average, with decently big oysters & not too starchy.

East Coast Park Singapore hawker's centre, Singpaore hokkien mee
Uncle cooking the Singapore hokkien mee

The hokkien mee was good! Not too soggy, and very tasty. For tourists, this hokkien mee is unique to Singapore (hokkien mee in Malaysia is different).

East Coast Park Singapore hawker's centre, chicken satay
Chicken satay

For those into halal food, don't miss the satay & also the baked fish (ikan bakar). There are many stalls selling them and they usually call you from afar. And amongst all, they seem to be the cheapest food around (as in comparable to other hawker's centre, while the rest are slightly more expensive).

There are many other dishes and it will take a few more trips to try all the varieties. But that just makes a good reason to go back to this hawker's centre by the beach to savour its local Singaporean hawker's fare. :)

*For foreigners wanting to enjoy Singapore, then head over to this East Coast Park hawker's centre to enjoy what the Singaporeans & locals do especially over the weekend. It gives a good view that Singapore is not all city & concrete jungle.

Coming up: There's more enjoyment than just eating at East Coast Park!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Malaysia Book Update 12: Contest For Bloggers

Firstly, to the invited bloggers who signed up to review the 50+1 Malaysia book, thank you :)

Next, an announcement I would like to make.

Finally, we can be like Santa Claus for once.
I've mentioned before on me having some goodies for bloggers with regards to my current project, the 50+1 Malaysia book. Well, finally after quite a few months of work, I can make this announcement to those of you who own a blog.

Yes, to all bloggers/ blog owners, this is for you... and this time round, the good news is coming not from any other Paid Advertiser, but my company :)

The Good News
We are giving away 100 copies of the 50+1 Malaysia books to the lucky bloggers (worth RM51 each).

The work is simple (yes, need some work, but trust me, it's real easy). Simply write about your Love story on Malaysia (ie what you Love about the country) in your blog, and let us know.

Simple right? Well, I hope that you guys will join in the fun, especially with Merdeka month just round the corner! (It's time we show Malaysia, we bloggers care) :)

*Info on the contest at: 50+1 Malaysia: Contest For Bloggers.

*This contest is open to both Malaysian bloggers & international bloggers.

Coming up next, I'll share with you who were the companies that made this whole project (including the contest) possible :)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Durian Season

It's that mid year time again when the king of fruits come out in full force. Yes, the lovely durian season is back!

And while I was in Malaysia, I actually managed to savour the delicious Malaysia durian, or also known as the kampung durian. These durians are usually smaller compared to the less odour Thai durian.

I knew the durian season was in as so many durian stalls were popping up along the streets and also at the pasar malams. Even the morning market sells durian now.

And I was really looking forward get a good feast of superb tasting durians. Especially those bitter sweet ones.

However, a durian fan I am, I'm a lil cautious on buying durians as I know many are out to make a quick buck, so choosing a good vendor is important. And the good news - durians are now rather affordable, going at as low as RM1/ kilo!

Delivery Durians
The first time I had durian this season was while we were eating at a restaurant, a vendor came over to deliver his durians to some customers. Apparently, he owns a durian farm/ durian plantation and are delivering to his loyal customers which he does yearly. Wow.

Of course, if there is such yearly demand, then the durians must be good! So, we asked if we could buy some, and his customers agreed to let us buy a few (ie the customers buy less). So, we happily got the durians and ate them at the restaurant. And yes, they were finger licking good lol (these were the 50 sen tenggelam kind of durians with small durian seeds).

Durian 'Festival'
Another time I had durians was at Klebang. I drove there in the afternoon and saw the vendors putting sign boards of RM1/ kilo onwards and I thought those were cheap. So, I came back at night to have a look and of course with the intention of savouring some of the durians.

There were many more durian vendors in the night - all nicely aligned on the street and all displaying their durians at the back of their lorries & make shift tables.

durian season, durian
Mari Mari, Murah Durian Kampung... Bagus Punya! (Come Come, Cheap Village Durian... Good One!)

We headed down to one of them which seemed decently priced (about RM2 - RM4/ kilo depending on the type of durian).

Again, requested the durian seller to open the durians on the spot for us to eat it right there. (I find this a good way to buy durians as then we can know how well the durians are).

The flesh were dark yellow & there was a tinge of durian smell in the air. So, even before tasting, we know it would be good!

durian season, durian
Eh, durian pun nak ambil gambar? Haha :) (Eh, durian also want to take photo?)

And yes, the durians were pretty good, not the best that I've tasted, but still in the good category! A durian lover would understand what I mean :)

Anyway, we tried both the RM2/ kilo durians and also the RM4/ kilo ones. But in fact, there were not much difference between the two. The seller also mentioned that there were pricier durians like the slightly red-dish coloured durians, but we didn't try them.

As it was good & rather affordable, we also bought some back home. Ah, this is the season... to be merry! :)

*Apparently, the durian season will last about another 7 days or so - according to the seller. So, durian lovers out there, better hurry!

*Some people mention that to buy durians, one should buy the small durians rather than the big durians. And also, the funnier the shapes of the durians, the better they will be.

Related post: Of S$1 durians.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Mommy, Can You Blog

I've mentioned a few times now on rather than just looking at trimming down our spending, we too should look into expanding our income. This can come in handy especially with the recent petrol price increase and also the increase in costs & prices of other goods (the after effect).

But some may ask how to, especially if you are a homemaker, ie a Mummy/ Mommy. Already, you are working your chores at home and may not find much time doing work, especially if it means having to travel out of home. But don't make that be a hindrance from you to earning some pocket money or even big income.

Solution for all Mommies at home
Well, firstly, register yourself a blog and become a Blogger. I won't go into details of blogging now, but if you are reading this, then you know what a blog is all about - basically, a platform to share one's thoughts.

And imagine you making money by sharing your thoughts right in the comfort of your home. (I'm sure you can spare some time each few days to share your thoughts?).

Mommy + Blogger = Income
You most likely have more questions like what to do once you have a blogger account. Well there are many money providers out there offering monies to bloggers, but one that I trust & have been using is this simple solution that can make you earn monies - SocialSpark.

Set your profile up in less than 5 minutes and next you are ready to earn money through their 3 methods - Blog Sponsorship (eg Adverts), Sponsored Post & Spark.

This is easier than it seems and you'll soon get the hang of it pretty soon, with extra income coming in. It will really make you feel nice & proud to earn income while sharing your thoughts and still being close/ keeping an eye to your kids and family.

So, if you are a Mommy & a Blogger (or soon to be one), go sign up for the mailing list at SocialSpark in order to join as soon as it goes public!

To all Mommy Bloggers, here's wishing you all the best! :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Modern KL

Has been a while since I came up to KL. And even then the past few times I've been taking the coach & public transport to get around. However, this trip up, I made an attempt to drive to this capital city of Malaysia. And I'm glad I did, as it is really a different experience.

No Jams
I guess I was lucky as with some time planning I managed to avoid any traffic jams. As most were heading the opposite directions, my journey up from Sungai Besi toll to Bukit Bintang area was a breeze. That is the first thumbs up!

Car Park Experience
As I had some time to spare, I thought I'll wait & check out the newest spanking shopping mall in the heart of the city, Pavillion. But before that, I have to get the car parked. As some of the shopping centre's car park entry gates were closed, I went over to park at a building beside it.

It says only RM3 per entry. That sounded reasonable - or should I say cheap. For I've experienced RM10 per entry (even after past 6) or some other car parks that can go up to above RM10 for a few hours shopping.

The only setback to the carpark is that it is very narrow & it takes a fair bit of cautious driving to park safely at the 6th level (the first few levels are reserved). But I guess for that rather cheap price, one can't complain much.

Modern Mall
And so after parking the car, and crossing the road, I arrived at this all new shopping buzz in Kuala Lumpur, the Pavillion KL. It looks grand from the outside & being new, it exudes its modern charms.

The eateries at the ground level were packed. There were many different restaurants all with the after work crowd. This was quite a stark contrast when I came here months back when it first opened, where at that time it was rather quiet and empty.

I toured round the shopping mall, and I must say it is pretty impressive. Big brand names and even higher-end local brands can be found - which is what I always support.

But as I'm here for business & not leisure, there is not much mood for shopping despite all the grandeur and the sales that is going on. However, I did pop by the Times bookstore which apparently is their showcase bookstore in Malaysia.

Need Internet
As I had some time to spare before the meeting, I was looking for a place where I could just sit back & do some online work. And I had to find a place that my computer can be continuously powered too.

Then I saw it, as just opposite the Times is the 'very faithful' Starbucks. I actually just went in, ordered and powered the computer without even knowing whether there is any free wireless internet. Ya, it's about trying my luck!

Anyway, I was prepared, worse come to worse, I'll just do some offline work. But, surprisingly, there were many wireless connections - provided by a few different outlets in the mall. And the bigger surprise, there is also the Wireless@KL wireless internet connection.

I've read before about KL having plans to go wireless, but I didn't know that it was rolled out so soon (KL-ites may say I'm in a stone age lol). Anyway, that is really a plus! And furthermore, the internet speed was superbly fast - and it's not just comparing to the recent slow internet connection.

Now, This Is KL
What a different viewpoint of KL this is - from fast & free internet connection, modern mall, and decent priced parking. Of course this may not be a full representation of the capital city of Malaysia, but nevertheless this trip has made me see the other part of KL - that makes it moves along with the times & on par with other major cities globally.

Now, this is what one can be proud of... and truly, this has made the other view on KL seem rather irrelevant(?) :)

*Surprisingly, there are 2 Starbucks cafe in the Pavillion - one on ground level, the other just opposite Times bookstore.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Malaysia Book Update 11: The Cover

Some of you will remember the mini contest I conducted on my blog for the 50+1 Malaysia book sometime back. Well, now that the cover is completed (and sent for printing), I would like to share the things that went after the contest to select the cover and the good handful of interesting response.

Different Taste
As I've mentioned in one of the comments, most locals like the features of racial unity - namely the focus on the Malay, Chinese & Indian pictures (yes, Malaysians are a peace loving lot!) :)

On the other hand, a tourist/ foreigner prefers the many pictures depicting Malaysia - beyond its people, and including the many things that this beautiful country of Malaysia has to offer. They would like to know what makes Malaysia unique & good enough to be truly Asia.

This once again proves that Malaysians have a rather distinct taste :) (I've experienced this through the first book on Batik Malaysia as well - that's why we had 2 covers for it... one for the local market, the other for the international audience).

One Cover For All
As this 50+1 Malaysia book is going to have just 1 version (at least for now), so all the feedback & comments were necessary & important.

I think we generated nearly 50 different tweaks to the cover design just to find the perfect touch - one that can be close to Malaysians and yet impress the foreigners/ tourists.

Honestly, choosing the cover & further improving on it wasn't easy. I was still in between choosing what the locals wanted or what the foreigners preferred. That was a tough choice choosing one over the other.

Then of course, there was a solution. Rather than hovering one over the another, I got some suggestions to combine both together, which was indeed a 'master stroke'!

Tough Work
But with that solution, there were more works like sizing the segments to allow more pictures, selection of the pictures, and the arrangement of the selected pictures.

Again, there were many views like how to make the picture flow & at the same time, these pictures must represent Malaysia, truly & colourfully. We had to view all photo submissions again and choose the best that we think represent the country as a tourist destination & also a place for Malaysians.

Final Touches
Another constructive comment was the blue space which seemed a lil empty (& some even mentioned the colour of the blue).

To solve this problem and to add a lil bit more Malaysian touch, we decided to give some batik motifs on the blue segment. And the blue was given 'some life' with a shading/ tone of dark & light blue.

The dimensions of the blue & yellow were also reduced, allowing for the combination of the additional pictures.

The Final Result
So after lots of tweaks & changes, the cover is really brand new... it really looks different from the first draft we did. And here, without much further ado, allow me to show the final book cover:

You can see that it now has 7 pictures from the earlier 3 only. It shows our country in a 'light form' - something of leisure, yet one can know that Malaysia is truly Asia from its many races & the beautiful sincere Malaysian smile, its food & places, and with our heritage/ tradition/ culture shown by the batik motif on the top.

I personally like this cover & do hope that you guys will too :)

*The 50+1 Malaysia book is to be released this 31 July 2008! Keep a lookout for it! (will announce more updates soon) :)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Review: Four Hour Work Week - Part 2

My first review on the Four Hour Work Week was to give an insight on how this book can benefit everyone in general.

However, this time round, I will share more on how this Four Hour Work Week book & concept has impacted me and many ways, cleared my mind.

First, some overview - when I received this book, I was again a lil skeptical. With so many motivational books out there, I've already read many. So, though their contents are usually good, beneficial & inspiring, however, I didn't want to read another similar must-do-to-achieve/ 101-ways-to-succeed type of book.

But then, this book is highly referred and is also in the New York Bestseller list. So I guess, things can't be wrong.

And when I started to read the book, I really couldn't put the book down (finished th book in 2 days). It was 'mind blowing' to one large extend, and more so, it has cleared many things which has been going through my mind. These points are mainly addressed via the New Rich concept:

1. One Man Show Is OK!
I've been grappling with this for a while now. Though I have many outsource employees, but indeed my business is still a one man show (ie self employed). And the thing is, people think that one man show businesses are small business. For a while I was disillusioned as well.

But then, Tim Ferriss explains that he too is a one man show, with over 200 other workers working for him (though not directly). And yet, he can earn a huge income.

This is where there is a parallel of thoughts - I believe that it is not how big a company is (in terms of workforce/ no of employees), but instead how much the owner/ director makes. A 20-50 people company owner may in fact earn much lesser than this 1 man show, Ferriss! In fact, many times, a 1 man show out-do even the experienced high ranking employess too!

Tim Ferris has helped clarify and made this concept much clearer. So now, there is no more worries about wanting to grow big for the sake of looking big & conforming to people's beliefs, or playing with the rules of the number of employees. Instead, as mentioned, it's back to basics - income.

2. Save The Trouble Of An Office
Over a year now I've been thinking about having & renting an office. This is mainly because I've been thinking that businesses should have office. Surprisingly, many have discouraged me from doing so, as they realised that my work can be done anywhere. Yes, literally anywhere.

Some examples: I've got very urgent things done while I was on holiday like contacting some high status contacts & writing some works. All these took was just 1-2 hours a day or sometimes just a few hours in the whole trip. And I managed to enjoy the place I'm visiting fully & happily :)

I didn't know that in fact, I've been applying this technique of his all along! And though at first it seemed weird, even to myself, but now, I know that that is actually a good working system!

So back to the office question - Tim is even bolder to mention that you don't even need a house (as you can work from your holiday hotel).

So now, I don't need to worry about having an office which will incur more expenses (and not a definite increase of income). And because of my work method of doing many things virtual, there really is no point having an office. A study-office would suffice.

This one really cleared my mind. Now, I can focus on work instead, from the comfort of being virtual :)

3. Doing It Like The Big Boys
This point combines the above two. Despite the size of any company (especially a one man show), however, this does not mean we have to play by the small league.

Tim again stresses to do what the big boys do - from outsourcing to production/ manufacturing & delivery. And also to get lots of assistants (virtual).

The idea here is to replicate a concept just like the big boys, and earn big despite being 'small'. Yes, it's really that simple, as there are many companies that do so.

In fact, I've been working with some Suppliers/ Customers who we've not even met before, but yet we are doing business. So again, this is something that I've been doing - including conducting interviews with some celebrities!

4. No Need To Be A MNC
A friend of mine once mentioned about how big corporations work - from their systematic approach to their global appeal. While it is nice to own such a big name (and brand), but I have always been thinking that it is quite a headache as well! And once again, Tim shares the same idea here.

There will be a lot more to do, and in fact, many big companies find hard to maintain their global appeal. And at times, these brands are no longer the same like the first vision of the owners.

So rather than going through all the hassle, the aim is to create simplicity - doing simple business in a big way. And for me, the benchmark is again simple - to earn at least higher than a CEO. Which CEO to benchmark - from MNCs to SMEs, that is for you to decide the type of lifestyle you want to lead.

Why benchmark against a CEO? Well, because CEO's do what most one man show people do, but then one is doing his/ her thing & realising his/ her ideas while the other works for someone else's vision. In any case, comparing with a CEO is a good benchmark as an apple-to-apple.

If not to benchmark against a CEO, the other method is to benchmark with your peers. Why? Because otherwise you'll be better off doing what they have done :)

5. Retire - YOUNG
This is not about making your pile before 30, but rather, Tim Ferris in his Four Hour Work Week book mentions about living a retirement life now (at whatever age you are) - with a steady flow of income.

Of course the former remains attractive, but here, Tim stresses on living a fulfilled & fun-filled life throughout rather than waiting till our retirement. And that is why he suggests on going for holidays often or learn new things/ take up a course.. simply do the things we want to while growing.

I realised this as well, and though still not in the same league yet, but he has a true & valid point about taking short & long breaks every now & then. And this can be applied by everyone - employees to entrepreneurs!

Tim Ferriss ideas may not be suitable for everyone. He lives in a near ideal world which many can only envy, and which I believe will include many CEOs who are receiving fat monthly pay cheques. And beacuse of this, many will not be interested to know further, as it may seem like a distant or unreal dream... or worse, like a fluke/ bluff.

But if you have that lil spirit & desire to live freely, then, I would say, let's hear him out - Tim has valid points in this bestseller of Four Hour Work Week which we can learn from :)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Inspiring Book Review: Four Hour Work Week By Tim Ferriss

Hearing from 'the ground level', one can hear many grouses - especially to do with our rice bowls & putting food on the table - basically about our finances. With stagnant income to many, and rising costs, many are gloomy and disheartened. And for quite many, they face lots of challenges to make ends meet.

These are real & serious issues everyone faces. From the lower income to the middle income earners. Even the high income earners will face such issues where they could see a shrink in revenues.

So, one suggested solution - to change our expenditures. No need to elaborate on that. And I know not many can do it overnight, though it is not impossible.

But for me, I would rather look at the other way around. Yes, there is another solution - that is to increase our income.

I know the story - work takes a lot of your time - sometimes till late at night, you need quality time with family, exhaustion after work, etc. That leave not much time to take on a 2nd job or do a business.

Again, like I said, these are real issues. And I really agree that you and even myself face such working lifestyle & problems.

But There Is A Solution
PS: Before you read this segment, try to clear your mind... and have an open mind :)

Some of the methods & solutions are written in a book I've recently read - The Four Hour Work Week book by Tim Ferriss. Sounds brilliant, and a lil too ideal right? However, tendency of someone to pick up the book & flip through it is high (more on that later on).

So what's the magic behind this New York Times Bestseller written by the successful marketeer Tim Ferriss? There are many chapters in this book which one can learn from.

These are just quick shots that one can learn from this book:
1. How to be free (or more free for the start)
Jim's four hour work week ideal include ways to getting a personal helper, even if you are employed. And also to delegate your work to others. And the best part, these people he recommends are virtual assistants (sound new? - well, apparently, it is not).

By having more people managing your admin work, you can focus on the big picture & the big pie. And all these at affordable costs - there is a list of organisations he recommends for everything he suggests including virtual assistants.

2. How to earn more money, easily
He teaches about creating a system which is very similar to that of big companies. Only difference - you, as an individual can do this too.

For example, CEO from big companies have a vision for the company, get their designers (let's assume its selling sports shoes) from xxx country to design, outsource the manufacturing in a low cost country (eg China), and getting a Logistics company to help with the sending of goods & deliveries. And this method can be repeated by you!

On what business to venture - he says go into what people need rather than cracking & testing market with what people may want. Of course, he teaches how to see these trends. Though I don't fully agree on this as I like to create new things,

3. How to have many holidays/ breaks
Not sure how true, but Ferris mentions in his four hour work week method, that for every 2 months of 4 hour work week, he takes a 1 month break.

Here, he deals with 2 things - first setting up an automated revenue system (with consistent flow) so that you are free both in time & finances to be able to do things you like (eg. like a holiday) and secondly, at good affordable prices. And no, it's not budget holidays, but rather, well planned affordable holidays all over the world (of course it helps with a strong USD, but even others in any other country with weaker exchange rates can apply this).

I learnt a fair bit through Ferriss Four Hour Work Week book, and in fact, am rather pleasantly surprised that I've applied some of his methods even before reading. But now that I've read the book, things become even clearer and there are more things I can apply... and to someday soon lead that 4 hour work week!

And the one thing I like about this book apart from these that he has mentioned, is actually how he ironed out some facts - especially on things & ways which the Old Rich & the New Rich think rather differently. And why we should go with the New Rich with our heads up high.

And that is coming up next! :)

*It would be good to have a lil grasp on using the internet for business & internet marketing before reading this book (Jim is an internet marketeer so many of the ideas relate to it). However, even with lil knowledge on the internet business & using internet for work, one can still take this to open up the mindset (but be forewarned: it can be a lil mind blowing) :)

*The title of Four Hour Work Week is eye grabbing simply because it was well researched - and he will share that with you!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Back To Malaysia

Having a string of posts on Thailand... and next on Taiwan, it really do seem that I've been away like for quite a long time. Well, actually they were not that long holidays, but instead just very memorable ones, allowing me to capture & see many good moments & events.

And it is so easy to fall in love with these 2 countries. From the places to its people. Seriously.

Is It Just A Holiday & All Things Nice?
But some may wonder and could it be that these countries are looked upon because I went there for holiday? Because I know that it is always very different being on holiday in a country & working/ staying there.

Things can get rather familiar, or the 'honeymoon period' is gone. That means the postcard views, the places of interests don't attract anymore. And one sees the many different aspects of real lives - things that are not mentioned in the tourism brochures.

And that is why, even in lovely Taiwan, I've heard some locals not being overly happy with their country - especially economic wise. Despite being one of the rare countries to have a bullet train (also known as Taiwan High Speed Rail) or its currently tallest finished tower Taipei 101, but yet the Taiwanese are not that happy.

They have compared Taiwan with 'country of the free', living the American Dream, USA.

Some Taiwanese friends I met also complained on the service level in Taiwan - what a shock! And I thought that their service standards are rather good already!

For the Thais, I don't hear that much grouses. But seeing from the press reports with protests on the streets, I guess some parties are not happy as well.

Then over to some Singaporean friends I've talked to. Again, there are complaints... this despite Singapore trying very hard to make itself a financial, media , port hub... and also now transforming the First World city-state to a more vibrant city, and loosing its tag of 'being boring'.

And one statement I heard - "Huh, but why would people want to come here?". She, like the quite many Western or North Asian influenced Singaporeans, and just like some of the Taiwanese, find the other First World countries much more cool compared to theirs.

And at times, these Singaporeans are just puzzled as to why Malaysians are flocking to cross the causeway (or for that matter take a one way ticket flight from Borneo island).

So Where Does This Put Malaysia?
Ok, firstly, I'm not oblivious to the recent news headlines from Malaysia which are shocking, disappointing, scary and any other negative things associated with it. Increase in prices, political uncertainty and many other things have made many Malaysians unhappy and fearful.

And I'm not here to turn a blind eye, but also neither am I here to harp on these issues. But I just want to point out that, despite all these, there are still many foreigners flocking to our country for a better prospect. From Bangladesh to India & Indonesia... and even people from the awaken dragon China!

And then there are even people from First World countries who so love the country who came here for a holiday and have now made Malaysia their home (or second home), mainly living in our resort islands like Langkawi or Penang.

So there must be something that we have to still be a magnet.

An Advice If I May
So my advise to many Malaysians, is rather than doing the GIGO (garbage in garbage out) - ie reading news which eats into us, let's try to focus our energy on things that people look upon us and our country. And try to build on that.

Yes, we are not in dreamland, and some of us can feel the pinch and even the punch, but if we are to stay on in Malaysia, we just have to look on the brighter side of things & make things work for us.

Taking on side jobs could be a start. Working on a side business could be another avenue. The idea is rather than looking at the financial burden, let's increase the financial wealth, shifting our energy to better use and finally not having to worry about all these problems.

Ideal as it may sound, but try if we may, and dream we should.

*More likely than not 80% who read this article will think I'm talking nonsense, but 20% will hear me right. Be that 20%. Dont' complain till you've tried it, dont' give up when you are near. And really, 'just do it'.

Coming up next, I'll share things that have made a change in mindset & which can work wonders for you too :)

Monday, July 07, 2008

Taiwan Design

I've mentioned how cool Taiwan is. And to one large extend, the art & design industry play a role in shaping this island.

Design Everywhere
Just take a walk along the streets and many beautiful designs greet you - first off the many outlets which emphasize on good designs.

One of the examples, its modern design food outlets.

There are many beautifully designed cafes around Taipei

And it's not just the food outlets. Even other shop displays are attention grabbing with good Taiwanese design.

It does make one stop to see what is the shop all about

And beyond the shops are the many eye catching posters & brochures featuring the talents of Taiwan graphic designers.

These Taiwan graphic designs are usually very neat and not cluttered, and in a way is a zen style like with attention focus directly on the drawings. Oh and talk about drawings, there is a lot of cartoon characters in their works which is rather refreshing & creative.

Even the Taipei 101 has a giant poster designed for it.

This design poster is at Taipei 101. It goes to show how influenced is Taiwan on graphic design

Pig Cartoon Designs
And one thing I noticed in Taiwan is their fascination with pigs. Saw a few posters of both food & non food related companies having the pigs/ boars at their front. Would understand if it's the Year of the Boar, but it isn't. I guess they mean good luck?

I'm not sure if it's the Taiwan culture on animation & cartoon characters so I asked our friend. The answer: Taiwan has a strong influence by the Japanese hence, the designs & animation culture is rather strong. Totally agree as then I could understand why there is so much similarities in their cultures.

Street Art
Beautiful designs can be seen not just by the purpose design stuffs, but also street art, designs & graffiti.

Grafiti can look good! And it's a good thing the people who drew this didn't get caught

I guess there is lots of freedom in the art expression here in Taiwan which leads to their rather creative designs. As for me, coming to Taiwan really opens up another level of design creativity that I can learn from and simply admire :)

My whole journey in this trip to Taiwan has been memorable. There are many more to share, but guess that is enough for now. Next up, things back to home!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Taiwan Bullet Train

Being in Taiwan, the one thing I am very impressed is the rail network. They have quite a few trains along the city of Taipei & all its other cities as well. And of course, there is also the bullet train, completed in 2007.

For a relatively small island, I am impressed with this. So far, only bigger & usually more advanced countries are known for their bullet trains. And I guess this puts Taiwan in the league. Yes, this rather tiny nation island has made a name for itself once again... with this rather convenient bullet train system.

And I am lucky to have had my first fast speed train ride right here in Taiwan :) But first, some info on the main train station in Taipei.

Taipei's Train Station

taiwan train station
The train station from outside may not look all modern, but well, this is where the Taiwan High Speed Rail is :)

The train station is rather huge as it not only is a station for the bullet train but a centralised station for its many railways.

Inside the corridors are wide are have a fair number of shops mainly serving fast take-aways (eg food items).

taiwan train station corridor
The big & wide corridors of the station

taiwan train station, food takeaway
The many take-aways

I guess it's a good eat in between while waiting for their trains.

Anyway, back to the bullet train. One can choose to buy the tickets via the vending machines or queue up at the counter.

taiwan train station, thsr ticketing machine

taiwan train station, thsr gantry
The gantry

Then next, one can have a seat while waiting for the train to arrive - as seats are provided beyond the gantry. This I must say is quite a good service for waiting customers.

The high speed bullet train
The ride we took was very comfortable in the train. There are 2 segments Business Class & Standard Class. Of course, the Business Class is much more roomy.

taiwn bullet train, thsr, business class
The more spacious Business Class

taiwn bullet train, thsr, refreshment food
Refreshments are served - some nuts & coffee/ tea

taiwn bullet train, thsr, trolley refreshement
One can also choose to buy the many other snacks available

With such comfortable seats, quiet ride and good service, the whole train ride made me feel relaxed. And of course, there is the view of Taiwan through the windows as well.

taiwn bullet train, thsr, view
The mountain views & quite a fair bit of greens along the way

Oh btw, one can put his/ her food on the pull down table. And that same table can be used for the computer work/ leisure. Saw some people did that. They actually provide you to re-charge the computer. Very well planned for the business travelers.

Btw, this is the Standard Class of the Taiwan High Speed Rail.
taiwn bullet train, thsr, standard view

And also the front view of the ultra modern bullet train.
taiwn bullet train, thsr, front view

*The fare difference between the Business Class & Standard Class is only quite fractional eg. Taipei - Taichung 560 vs 800 NTD$). Full rates.

*The High Speed Bullet Train goes as fast as 300km/hour along the West Coast of Taiwan linking the North to the South.

Btw, apart from the high speed bullet train, we also sat some interconnecting trains. Again, they were an experience.

taiwn bullet train, train
The MRT like train

taiwn bullet train, modern train
The rather bar like design of another train - think this is rather cool

The whole experience on these trains has been a good eye opener on how a good rail network system works. Clearly, this is good for its people which has benefited them - weather for leisure or business.

And I'm sure this has made an impact with the foreigners too. For a population of just 23 million odd, Taiwan's good transport system is truly impressive & in a way makes one rather envious :)

There is still some more things that impress me on Taiwan and I'll be sharing that next!

Related: On why I think bullet train is good: The Bullet Train Dream.