Search This Blog

Myanmar's Crisis

I doubt if any Singaporeans will really bother about the current crisis in Myanmar (Burma). The funny thing is that among the ASEAN countries, we had the most investments with Myanmar. Check out wiki and other their government website. It kinds of pain me to see the amount of inaction our own SG govt is dealing with the Junta. But of course, I think our gahment would prefer the current situation as Myanmar are rich in resources and due to the Junta's way of ruling. Our gahment get to buy cheap sand or other raw materials and exploit the poorer Burma. (Since the rest of the world except China, Thailand and India are not dealing with them).

Burma used to be the richest among the ASEAN. Now it came to this. My recent trip to KengTung was quite enjoyable by the hospitality shown by the peaceful people there (except the bloody military of course) and I sincerely think our gahment could do more by putting the Junta on check by stop dealing with them.

Sad to say, our gahment is to pragmatic and selfish. Rather we get rich then help others. But the funny thing hor... is how come our gahment always give money to Indonesia when there is Tsunami or Earthquake??

Anyway, wife called back to KengTung and everything is fine there. No protest and at all... people in KengTung is a bit more comfortable due to the close access to China (less than 300km will get to Kun Ming). Still, how long this will last I will not know. The Burmese people wants the military to be out of politics but without any physical support (military) from the international community. Doubt it will change, unless someday, someone in the Junta army is able to make that change for good.

Five years my Foot!

I was actually planning to write something about Myanmar (Burma) situation but something more cuckoo cooks up.

Think most of you have a POSB or DBS account and have Internet Banking. This year around May or June, they send me the bloody IB Secure device. Which is suppose to be a second level authentication system for their ibanking. So in July, they enforce this system for good. You need the device to log into your ibanking account. Stupid stupid stupid of me to trust bloody DBS only(as I thought put in one bank good enough liao).

I have 2 accounts with DBS, one personal and one joint account with my mum. Normally to control and budget my spending, I will actually put most of my money in the joint account as it has no ATM card. Whereas my spending will come from my own personal account. So yesterday, I was planning to pay some bills and transfer some money to my own personal account (end of the month liao mah). To my horror, the device give me this bloody message. (see picture)

Wat lau eh! Cannot go in at all liao. On their website they say suppose to last for 5 years (see point 6) leh. I never dropped or do anything to it, so how come battery so fast drain out??? Anyway, called the hotline and asked for help, they say can only deliver to my home address(security reasons) in Singapore and will take 4 working days!!! I asked can expedite anot since I urgently need to access my account. My mistake of telling them that I will ask my sis to use the device while I am on the phone makes them go on a lecture saying this cannot (should) not be done blah blah blah...Call this a joke.

Hey DBS, Internet banking is suppose to be GLOBAL! It is suppose to be CONVENIENT. But to sacrifice all these because of some security issues is a big joke. I am okay if I need to carry one more device around but disaster recovery like this is a big no no. Don't think you can even compete with UOB which actually allows people to opt in or out of their 2 way authentication system. You simply choose the option to make this compulsory.

So what's my plan? I will write a complain letter formally and send to them. Next, I will open a UOB account (personal) and transfer all my current bills and stuff linked to this new account and close this DBS account if they don't implement an opt out. Yes it will be tedious but I rather have some choice and freedom in this matter.

Burn more money!

Last year Loy Krathong allows me to have some fun with all these toys. Since November this year I will be stuck in Singapore. I thought I will miss the chance to set something off. Luckily mid-autumn festival also allow to play leh... ghahaha mai tu liao!

Bought some new stuff to play, including 2 fireworks you see in the picture. The number you see on the fireworks (round clay objects) are actually the listed price. The smaller one is red in colour which is cheaper. Green translucent paper actually means the firework is white in colour. White is actually more expensive. For the same size, the red one only cost 80baht. There actually has an even bigger sizes for the fireworks. Largest are 280 baht, as tall as the green tea bottle shown in the picture. Those crackers in front of the fireworks are fun too. Especially the tank. It will actually move on the ground and lights will spew from the front barrel.

So later in the evening we gathered the children around the neighbourhood and set the fireworks off. I brought along my camera and tripod to take some pictures. Not very good though as I was too near to the firework and it was really quite bright, making my photos a bit overexposed.

The red one.

The bigger white one, which is actually more pretty and very very bright.

Mid Autumn Festival in Thailand

The typical Chinese family here do celebrate 中秋节 (Mid Autumn Festival) which is on the 15th, 9th 8th month of the Lunar Calendar. Today is the day and I am kind of surprised the number of Chinese family here in Maesai. (Quite a lot actually). At night, they all take out a table and place it outside their house. On the table are offerings like fruits, sweets, cakes and of course, moon cakes.

The moon cake they eat here are black red bean paste type and its more towards the salty side. And the size of the moon cake also quite funny.. Very large.. I'll try to get a photo but I saw one family bought one that is as large as a table (about 80cm in diameter leh). Basically their process very simple. Offer the food and light some candles and joss sticks. Then they proceed to devour the stuff on the table lor (quite typical Chinese Bai Bai) hehe..

Kids here don't carry lantern leh. But they have those that you could light up and set it float into the air (like in Loy Krathong). They also start selling crackers (Yeah!!!) So of course in the evening, we went to the main street and bought some and release them at the rice field near our house. All the kids around us joined us with screaming fun.. hehe..

No pictures as too busy playing with fire crackers hehe.. since I will be missing Loy Krathong this year (sianz)...


Its getting cold in the evening here in Maesai. Think Autumn is coming. One thing great about being furthur away from the equator is that you get seasonal changes. Air was fresh and cool (like air con room but less dryer)so yesterday I took an adventurous route in my jogging routine. Instead of the usual path I took, I ran towards Chiang Saen highway 1290. I know there (drove there once) is an intersection that would cut back to the 2nd Friendship bridge of Maesai (which is very near my house (about 2km away). So I took my time and pace. At first I thought the whole route would be around 5km. Nah Ma... bloody wrong estimate. The path I took wind and turn for at least 3 more klicks before I hit the intersection. Total distance is about 8+ km. Wat lau, nearly want to give up but just jog slowly lor..

Took me more than an hour to complete. Wife asked why so long this time (normally 30min to 45min). Told her about the distance I took and she was sceptical at first. Until her cousin (who drop by us everyday) told her he saw me jogging along the road towards Chiang Saen then she believe me. Today no jog... need to rest up and recharge from yesterday's workout. Tomorrow plan to jog around that path again but this time I think I can get another shorter route from another turn.....

Korp Kai Ya Sip MTV Trailer

This TV series show was pretty popular in Thailand and its about a boy being born with a physical defect. He was given a special armour which he wore would grant him supernatural powers. The story is quite interesting and so are the CGI special effects. This clip is the MTV of the title song for the show. Title of the song is same as the show Korp Kai Ya Sip which translated means Armour (of) God (Good). I really like the way the song blends traditional Thai instruments with heavy rock.

Firefox rules!!

Another good reason you should dump the free Internet Explorer and install Firefox. This little add on called Ad-Block Plus is way too cool. It blocks all sort of ads in the website by subscribing to a well maintained filter list. Easy to install (just a few clicks and restart the browser) and you get an ads free page. Great thing is that pages actually loads much faster now as all those unwanted ads are removed.

BTW, saw this feature already mentioned by Mr Brown too.... hehehe

Retirement - Redux

My cousin wrote about his views on retirement but I wish to explore a bit more on it as its an interesting concept. I do agree with most of his points that actually retirement is actually dependent on each persons views of life. But it still boils down to whether you have the means (financial capabilities) to really enjoy that lifestyle that you wish to have.

In Thailand, I did noticed that most of the older people above 60s or even younger do retire even if they are poor or not that well to do. The main reason is that they could still depend on their children (typical Asian culture) to provide them with the means to stop work and their needs are very simple, a house, a garden, a companion (remarried if their spouses are deceased) and of course, money. For example, just next door, my neighbour is a 60 plus retiree who has a younger wife and 2 kids. Both doesn't work and the main source of income is actually from his elder daughter of his former wife. He doesn't like to travel but he do likes to work on his garden, play with his kids and watch TV. That's his retirement. I don't think most typical Singaporeans would enjoy this type of retirement.

But the main point here is that its actually just possible for Thai people to retire early if their needs are really that simple(most of them do). City life is not like rural life which means you have more choices in things you could do. But the thing is that in the city, the standard of living is definitely higher than rural areas. Thats why Maesai or even other rural areas in Thailand has tons of big houses that retired city workers would buy and stay in them till death.

So for people in Thailand, even for an average joe, its still possible for them to retire at 60 if
1) They relocate from the city to some rural area and stay a humble life
2) He/she has a lot of kids, (married early) and they could provide them monthly with a stable income plus pension from his own retirement.

In Singapore, you could not do this anymore. You could still saved up and maybe migrate to Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia or Malaysia. But are you willing to give up all your friends and relatives? I have 3 friends and here are their cases.

The first is in his late 20s and earns less than 2k per month. He needs to actually juggle another job as he needs to pay his loans on his family car. He's a bit luckier as his parents do not need his money but he still tries his best sometimes to give some to them. Every month, his account is near empty to zero. He did save some money with his girlfriend and plans to marry soon but it seems like most probably, his parents may need to help a bit in his wedding bills. He do likes to travel and some of the stuffs mentioned by javert in his blog but because of his condition, he could never find time to enjoy the things he wanted to do, that's why retirement was in his head and he did mentioned to me once that he wished to retire at around 60 to get to do the stuff he could not do now.

The second is a good friend of mine and same age as me. He's a manager now and commands a good pay of more than 2k per month (not sure what his pay now but at least quite comfortable). His father is semi retired and he needs to fork out half his pay every month and give it to them. Fair enough as he is still staying with them. He has 2 younger sister and both are University graduates. Before that, he actually even have to help her youngest sister in some school fees. He's in the IT line and there's always a certain fear of retrenchment. He enjoys computer games and actually plays online games all the time if he's not working. He wants to travel but because of financial issues, he prefers to stay at home and play with his computer games rather than going out. To him, retirement is an option but he's actually kind of enjoying his life now. He don't plan to get married at all but he did mentioned to me once that who doesn't want to retire early,thing is where got the moola (money) to do so....

The third guy is in his 50s. He's my former boss who is still working. His company is surviving but not thriving. So he does not have extra cash to even think about retirement. He has 2 children. His elder son is married to a Vietnamese and is in Vietnam with his own family. His daughter is single but moved out and stayed with her friends. Both never provide any additional aid as far as I know. His wife is also his business partner and both worked hard on their company. He did once conveyed his dream is to sell away his business with a sum and retire for good. But its a wish hard to fulfill as IT business are hard to sell.

3 different scenarios, all 3 of them wants to retire. Its kind of sad though. It seems that its actually human nature to choose to rest or retire (stop working and relax) when they are old. The scary thing is that this option is going to be tougher for average joes in Singapore and what I will see in the future is more and more old people are still working in Macdonalds or fast food restaurants in their 60s. Do note that over here in Thailand, I never see old people work in Fast food restaurant or anywhere! (Unless they owned the shop). The extremes poor ones even have gahment or monasteries taking care of them. Even the oldest beggars are in their late 40s.... (maybe older than those died on the street liao)

WWII German Wehrmacht Infantryman 1/16 Winter Uniform

Yesterday, I was woke up in the middle of the night by my dog. Can't get to sleep so started to work on my German soldier. I continued to work until morning and managed to finish it in dawn. Whoo.. What a rush. Here's the promised photo of the completed model. Now to describe some background of the work in progress..

This is a long time since I painted my models by HAND. Yes, airbrush is used only for the base coat and accessories. The rest (mostly the main body area) are painted by hand. You could see from the photos that my painting skills with a brush really sucks... Still can see some streak marks. Need more practice and improvement. I know what causes it, too much paint and my strokes are too hard and inconsistent pressure. It looks so easy done by the experts but for me its tough. Still the final result is quite acceptable to the front row of my display case in the living room.. hehehe

This particular model is a 1/16 replica of a Wehrmacht Infantryman during the late 1940s. Originally, the hooded uniforms are designed for war with Russia and comes only in white or field grey colour. Later of the war, the Germans managed to incorporate the Water pattern into the design for better camouflage purposes. There is also a Splinter and an Oak Leaf pattern specifically for the Elite Infantry.

Ice Ice Baby...

dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dem. Girl girl really enjoy cold stuff... especially Ice or Ice Cream. (see pic) Its actually quite headache every time we go out and eat. The Thai restaurants or even street hawkers likes to provide a cup of icy water for their customer and baby sure knows there is something "Icy" in it. So we actually have to warn the server before hand, not to bring any cups with ice to our table. Of course most of the time they will still bring it (career sickness??). So baby will start reaching for the cups even before it reaches the table.. if we don't give her even one cube.. she won't seat still for the entire meal... if we give in and let her have a way, she might get sick from all the cold stuff... so how???? Really in a dilemma. :P

9/11 Visa Run

Its Sept 11. And my Visa will expire on the 13th. So I decided to go have my visa run today to get another 30 days before I return to Singapore.

Woke up in the morning and it was pouring. Anyway, I dressed up and took the bike out with my raincoat. Crossed the border with little hassle and was in Myanmar Thachilek in less than 15mins (from my house). The border military took 500baht from me and proceeded to take a photo of me (as usual). They uses web-cam to take the photo and print it onto a piece of card with all of your particulars on it. They will then keep your passport until you return later on the day to get back into Thailand.

Thachilek was much much quieter than it was. Since the 1st Oct new Visa-On-Arrival law came into effect, I think both Maesai and Thachilek suffered from the lost of foreign customers.

I also heard from my Ang Mo friend and wife that DVDs are not to be found anymore as they recently had a raid. To my surprise, the shops are open but they are a bit on the edge. They open their doors halfway, like if there is a raid, they could close the shop easily. Anyway, browse some titles and was hoping to get Jesus Camp but they don't seems to have it. However, I stumbled on a boxset of BBC's documentaries. 100 DVDs boxset which came in a very chio (beautiful) metallic box. Only 2400baht (after haggling over the price) which meand only 24baht per DVD. hehehe

After a 30min walk around hte area, I nearly sprained my ankle when I return to the immigration checkpoint (bloody roads). Got my 30 day extension and headed back home. Wife heard I bought this and not too happy with my purchase. Jia lat liao.....

Youtube is back in Thailand!

Actually youtube is back since last week. But the good thing about youtube is besides having getting to watch some funny vidz. We also get to watch some good quality documentaries. Like this one, Banned from the Bible Part 1 and 2. Its actually from History Channels and kinds of explains how the Christian Bible came to be. Very interesting and informative. :) The same guy also posted a series called Islam: Empire of Faith. For those interested in religion or history.

Back to Square One

Remember I mentioned about running? I started my routine again today after almost 1 week break and it was tough. I can still feel I have phlegm in my throat and I feel lethargic so I guess I am not entirely well yet but I decided to go ahead anyway.

So my plan was to jog less, much much lesser then usual. I planned a 2km route at a very slow pace. I started quite ok but after 2 to 3 mins. I started to feel the obstruction in my throat. I actually think I might not be even able to complete my run. I pushed a little more and started coughing to spit out the phlegm. It actually work and I feel much better. So I continued to force myself to cough and spit repeatedly for a few more times and actually each time I do it, I felt more energised and my pace went faster.

When I stopped, my sweat just continued to pour and my nose and throat was clear. I felt great! Took some time to warm down and washed up. I actually feel better then before my run. Just now I even played chased with my baby and sweat some more and now I feel totally ok. Seems like the workout really improved my blood circulation and makes me well again. For those who are sick and recovered recently, try it out, think it really works.

I did it!!

I suck at painting figures. Especially the facial part(skin tones). But after some practicing with the Japanese soldiers. I kind of have the confidence to paint a 1/16 figure. Bought a WWII German Infantry and started the face. Result is the picture shown on the left. (A bit handshake due to low light, will try to take another when I finish the whole thing) hehe... I am glad I finally understand and really know how to paint a bloody face... hahaha

Its actually quite complicated and I need to thank Bernard from theMworkshop to introduce me to some great books, especially Clavin Tan. Check out their galleries, they are amazing!! He's a Singaporean modeller and his models are published in a lot of International model magazines.

My painting skills still really needs a lot of improvements. Best way is to practice more...

The Handy Man

One thing about staying and living in a big house in Thailand is that you get to learn how to fix things yourself. I mean, of course, if I am rich, I could easily hire a Burmese worker here in Maesai (100baht MAX for a days work) but normally they don't do things the way you want them to. So the best solution is to get dirty yourself. Unless the job is way too complicated.

My bed broke actually, one of the beams below supporting the planks broke into two. Don't ask me how it broke. You all can fantasize about the process but I'm not interested in the details :P. Anyway, today I got a spare plank and I proceed to saw the plank to size.. Took me some effort as the bloody handsaw is only 12" long. I fixed the beam by sandwiching 2 planks on the side and secured the original with screws, so to make it one long beam again. Its an easy job but I don't think people in Singapore staying in HDB or Condos could do it if they want to. As you really need some space to work. So all in all it took me less than an hour to do it.

Talking about fixing stuff. I already replaced stuffs like taps and pipes. Mend wires, fixed toys with a soldering iron. Added another set of lightings for my storeroom. I even used to fix some of the stuff at the Internet Shop. (Besides computers) I fixed a sliding door problem, a chair and headphones while I worked there. My Ang Mo friend even call me Mr "Fix-it".

I have to admit that my Technical Workshop in Secondary school does help. (I was in Normal Technical Stream and joined the school's electronic club.) At least I know the drill bits (3 basic types) and which one to use on which surface. I could also read a simple circuit diagram (I wonder anyone still do it now??). I do enjoy the process of it very much. I think its in me. I like to "make" or "fix" things. I think thats the main reason why I like building plastic models and computers. Tons of problems with them and you get to solve the puzzle and fix them up... hehehe

Getting Well?

It's an irony that my previous post is about getting fit and the next day I got sick. I think its the changing weather here in Maesai. Starts to get cold in the evening and very hot during the day time. The change is quite drastic which means if one is not careful, he could easily catch a flu.

For the pass 4 days I have been sick, sneezing and coughing. Baby also got it though but not as jia lat as me. Still, play safe and see a doctor. Baby is minor but I need to get a jab. Ouch. Was on medications which makes me whoozie. Everyday sleep and rest.

Now getting better and actually managed to lose a kilo from the ordeal. Plan to start my jogging routine tomorrow but still on a wait and see. I want to be completely well before I exhaust myself and get sick again...