Thursday, June 13, 2024

Random thoughts: A short getaway trip to Malaysia

Had a short getaway to Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh, because then, my family will get to see the glitter of KL city, and the natural beauty and heritage of Ipoh town. 

I must say, I enjoyed Ipoh much more, and I kind of missed the place. When I reached the boutique RockBed hotel, my son was a bit taken aback, and asked, "are we staying here". The exterior of the building is a hugh contrast to the 5 stars hotel we lived in KL. 

But when we enter the hotel, with the manager carrying our luggage, and immediately doing my check in (he was waiting for me, I am the last guest to check in), I was impressed with the décor of the hotel, the cosy feel of the lobby and the thoughtful room design. 

The hotel room itself had a water dispenser, so there is no need to boil water or worry about warm water in the middle of the night. Not to mention how spacious it is. 

We went on to visit the cave temple, Kek Long Tong, and is awed by the natural beauty of the cave and the serene and tranquil garden that comes after it. Mirror lake is another highlight of the day.

Another hotel, weil hotel, which is well known by the locals also look not the least impressive on the facade, but house 2 top trip advisor eateries. The roasted duck is the best my son and I have eaten. 

I like the substance beyond the appearance. Maybe I am disillusioned with some of the things I had experienced. The low cost of transport and food is another attraction. 

On the last day, sitting at the lobby, looking out at the run down shop houses is already quite a wonderful experience. 

In KL, a place that leaves a deep impression is wonderland 99. There is some critical reviews on Google about the living conditions of animals, but i find the animals well taken care of, lovely and interactive. Yes, we stroke and feed several animals. The ducks, peacocks and 1 peacock actually roam free. Besides the goat enclosure, the place did not smell, and I find the space of enclosure bigger than that of Japan and comparable to Singapore. I can't say the same for the petting zoo at Ipoh though. The animals are obviously in distressed. 

The cruise ride in wonderland 99 is not a ride in water, seeing nothing, like our river safari. The captain actually stop by and feed the swans and ducks such that we can see the animals up close. 

This tour, I enjoyed the less renowned or touristy attractions. I missed Ipoh and do wish to return. 

The glitter of KL, even with the atas meal and view overlooking the twin towers, is not something I would go again 

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Random thoughts: In search of happiness

 Some said Happiness = Reality - Expectations

The word, "expectations" let us think about ideas like "goals setting, key performance indicators, career path, choices" etc. 

I would say Happiness = (Reality)  power of Mindset

Even negative reality, it might be possible to see enjoy happiness with the right mindset, and the mindset being the multipler of your Happiness or misery.

I deliberately left out "expectations", as I looked back, I thought I could done a lot of things differently in my younger days, especially in terms of financial decisions. i.e saving up more, spending less, be more frugal like AK, invest in property, do more regular investing during downcycle like Paul etc. It might be embrassing to say that at the stage where half of my life is perhaps already over, I still worried over money and retirement funds as compared to many bloggers who are already selling or marketing their FIRE methods. 

Hence, I decided to take whatever I have currently and just learn to be thankful for it. 

Below are some of the tradeoffs I thought I have internalised well.

1) Family over friends

I used to spend a lot of time with my friends in my younger days. During my NS days, I would stay over the night at friends' place or "tor" in the public areas with them, talking over the night and going home in the morning just to sleep.

I know meet my friends a lot less, and whatever I see gathering of my friends, I use to feel shortchanged at first, but now,  I feel so much happier that I am still chatting with my son, because I have spent a long of time at home

Yesterday, he just came to my school to join me during my CCA training session, and we played volleyball together. When I am his age, I already singing "今夜不回家”

2)Comfort over money

I would like to save a large sum of money and have a good buffer for emergency. But I have loosen up my purse. I have more overseas holidays now, and I usually said yes, whenever my wife have some ideas to bring the family or our nieces out to have fun. 

I resisted the idea of a private property for a very long time, but decided to take the plunge, and ventured into one. I still worried over money, but I am quite happy that I fulfilled my loved ones' aspirations. 

Ok. Thank you for reading my nonsensical post up till now. May your search for happiness be fruitful, and better still, there is no need for a search, since you are already surrounded by it.

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Random thoughts: Looking back my bucket list of 10 years ago

The nice thing about having a blog is, you can look back at your past, and be amused or touched by what you had been through. 

Slighly more than 10 years ago, my bucket list is something like this:

1)  I would like to start a social enterprise

2) Do something about proverty overseas

3) Teach in a school with the highest FA pupils 

4) Tour Europe 

I have reached the "不惑之年",不惑can be loosely translated as "not easily tempted or confused", I feel that is a nice word of saying "losing your dreams"

Nonetheless, I have decided that helping my pupils as much as I can, is a social enterprise, and in 3) instead of going to a school with highest FA, I would like to go to a school with many high needs pupils. It is a good reminder, and I think I  might just cross this off my bucket list. I almost wanted to move on to another school, but I felt I am not ready to leave my players who have been with me with the past 3 years. Unlike teaching, where pupils have different teachers every 1 - 2 years, my CCA pupils are with me since P3 or for some, since P2. I just can't bring myself to leave them to fend for themselves without morning training just before their NSG. Maybe I am just egolistic, but I really took a long time pondering about this. My ex-principal has expressed a willingness to accept me in her new school, so it is a case where I should easily move on to another school, if I so wishes. However, I told her I could not bring myself to do it in the end, and she wishes me all the best. 

I don't think I can do anything about proverty in Singapore or Overseas now. I think it is about how well the economy is, and it is really the job of the country leaders. I perhaps is doing something to help prepare my pupils to prepare for  the future work. (Perhaps being egolistic here again)

4) Is not really something that unreachable. Although I no longer feel any need to do it. 

There is this part in my blog post of 10 years ago, talking about FIRE too. 

I do not have FI, but i had already RE. I look forward going to work almost everyday, and wish to die at work, if possible. (Of course, not anytime soon, but when all my dependents are independent, and the elderly all taken care of. )

What a weird post, but I shall just keep the post, and see how much has changed in 10 years. 

If I need to add one more item to my bucket list, it will be 

1) To caregive for all my loved ones and send them off before I go myself. 

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Random thought: Losing and coping with the disappointment

 Not talking about losing money in investment here.

Is about my kids losing a competition.

Regular readers would know I coach volleyball in my school, and I enjoyed it a lot. The kids give it their best too. They came for morning trainings, some reaching school as early as 6.30 a.m. They asked for recess practice and came 15 min before CCA starts. 

I have a group of committed and passionate pupils. 

Hence the disappointment when they cannot reach the top 4.

The format of NSG has changed, such that last year top 8 schools will start playing each other from the start, called the pool stage. Group A, which makes up the top 8 teams will have 2 teams Deleagued, and then the remainding 6 will reshuffled and play against the top 2 teams from Group B. This round of game is called League 1.

There are several advantages of this format, as compared to the past Zonal and National Competitions. One, the recreational players will unlikely meet the powerhouse and get crushed. The power house gain more experince playing with teams around the same standard. 

My kids just scrapped past being deleagued but have lost 2 games in League 1 and hence will not be able to play in the top 4 games. 

My disappointment:

1) If the kids train hard, and do what I told them. I share the resposibility. For the boys' team, I think I underestimate the level of game. I think the level of play has improved the last year, the top 8 teams in my humble opinon are playing like the top 4 teams of last year.

My boys are already better all rounded and more prepared as compared to last year team, yet they still lost, and I feel, fair and square to a better or equal team.

2) The girls team are Okies. We managed to beat the second team in Round 1. However, the form is very inconsistent, and when they don't play well, the whole team don't play well, and they are like playing at 30% of their training standard. I am not sure how to improve this part.

My resolution:

After reviewing the games with the coaches, we do have some ideas how to improve our training goin forward. Like the boys need to learn to block, and aim during service and spiking. 

Girls need to work on stress management every training session etc.

My pain:

As I said, they have around every morning, recess, and with me since Primary 3. They did well when they are in junior team, being the first and second in the competition. Although it is no one's fault, I can't help but feel that I fail them and perhaps also their parents, who indulge me with their support for their children to stay back after CCA, come early in the morning etc. 

While, I am not as emotionally affected as compared to the day of loss, I still feel the heartache now and then... I wonder when will it go away.

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Random thoughts: Are u caregiving or care "showing"

This not really a rattle, but rather some uncomfortable observation.

When someone is hospitalised, it is important to show care and concern, but if the patient is weak, the hardwork comes after the patient is discharged, and caregiving kicks in.

Everyone want to rush to the hospital at the first timing, to show concern, family members sit in the ward for hours doing nothing except wear themselves tired. When the nurses and doctors are around, and conditions are stable, "showing" continue to seem to take more importance than "giving"

Care showing can do a lot more harm, if u shoot off your mouth, the advices or actions the patient or patient families should take. 

Yes, advices are free. Most mature adults listen to advices and smiled and make their decision. But there are no lack of fearmongers, kan Chong spiders within the immediate families, who became flustered and cause plenty of negative vibes. 

I wonder if showing care, has become a "show-off" of care nowadays? 

Or, has it become a "show"

A show with the main characters, the injured or sick taking a backseat and the care show men/ women beating their chest, crying over misfortune, seeking divine explanations etc. well, I might have exaggerated a bit, but the shows will give MediaCorp a run for their money.

The best care in my stupid eyes, is to shut up when unnecessary and start giving. Buying a nice hot meal, sending the patients' kids to school, massaging the patients etc. Do more, talk less.

And please, rest as much as possible. Caregiving is hard work.  

Friday, November 10, 2023



Friday, October 6, 2023

Random thoughts: Yield and returns

Random Babbling Again: An Update

Exiting Equity for Private Property

I finally took the plunge. I believe I can get a better yield with my cash in equity. The last time I calculated, my average portfolio yield was around 4-5%. Not fantastic, considering the high interest rates on various fixed income instruments, but that's the yield I've been getting for the past 6-7 years, not just the recent 2 years.

With Hong Kong in a bear market, I believe there are plenty of opportunities for trading gains too.

However, I decided to go with my spouse's desire to leave behind a private property for our child. While she never pressured me for it, I believe it leaves a void in her heart, since all her siblings and relatives stay in one, and their common topic is property. Frankly, I find their conversation rather uninteresting. I do think I am more in tune with the property market, although I don't actively participate in it. Maybe it's a case of sour grapes mentality, but I am not terribly excited to join the conversation now either.

In terms of yield, HDB rental yield is the best. We are getting close to 10% yearly, and now it's almost 15%. No private property rental yield can come close.

Yet, life is not only about yield. The total returns of filling a loved one's heart are perhaps more important.

Talent Spotting and Development

Regular readers will know that I am in charge of the volleyball CCA. In my school, both basketball and volleyball CCAs perform well and are highly competitive. However, I feel that my training philosophy differs. We offer optional morning training sessions daily, allowing kids to build muscle memory. I welcome anyone willing to come and commit to training hard. Even if a short kid with poor psychomotor skills joins, I allow it. However, they have to endure the initial boring sessions of digging against the wall before moving on to other drills. If they decide to quit or stop coming, I don't stop them either. For those who perform well but don't come regularly, I try to encourage them, but ultimately, it's up to the players themselves. My management style is quite different from my predecessors'.

By 7 a.m. every morning, I usually have around 40 kids training. With such a diverse group of children with varying skill levels, I no longer get to "play with the kids." Instead, I walk around, giving different instructions to different groups and observing their postures, etc. I'm no longer "exercising" at the same time.

Compared to the basketball CCA, which has a selected talent pool of around 12-15 players to be trained, I know the yield will be higher for them. It's no secret that focusing on a few talented athletic players yields much better results than focusing on everybody.

However, the "returns" of appreciation from students, who know that they "suck" (their own words in their thank-you cards during Teacher's Day), and yet are given an opportunity to train and play for the school team, are truly immeasurable. Some of them really seize the opportunity and train very hard.

I've seen a P3 girl who couldn't dig against the wall for almost a year. She seemed unable to control her strength and posture, regardless of the number of sessions we practiced. She even practiced during recess when I could spare the time to bring out the balls. She seemed to have difficulty judging the distance of the ball from her hand and keeping her hands straight. I did vent my frustration once and said, "Why can't you just do it? It's been so long!" I felt very bad after that, and I thought she might not show up anymore. But she still came. I remember one of those sessions when I facepalmed seeing how she did her drills. However, I said this to her: "Just keep doing it. As long as you don't give up, I won't give up. To be honest, you might not make it to the first 8 main players of the team, but I will leave you a spot. I think you've shown resilience in the face of challenge."

Today, I think she can finally play, serve, and dig. In terms of yield, I think I could find a handful of players who could reach her level in perhaps half or even less of the time spent, but that's okay.

Then there are the talented and athletic ones who learn everything very quickly. Usually, there are only fewer than a dozen in a cohort. There have been several times when people asked me to quickly "capture/grab" these students before they join another CCA or are "snatched" by another. While I understand the joy of finding such gems (I have a P3 boy spiking as well as a P5), I sincerely said to my teacher-in-charge, let them choose, and if they accept an invitation from basketball, I am happy for them, as I know the basketball teacher will develop them well too. In secondary school, many CCAs have prerequisites for joining, and only those good enough to give the school a chance to bring back a medal can join. At least in primary school, I hope to give them a sky to fly. I am short too, but I'm glad my secondary school coach still allows me to play.

Total returns and yield—I don't regret my decisions. I might lose a game or two, but I think at the end of the day, if more children get developed, I am satisfied. Looking back, those P3 kids of 2 years ago, who look like kindergarden kids when standing beside the basketball players, are also alethics now. I believe the returns is worth beside the low yield.