By: Duncan Tan

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Friday, 6-Feb-2009 19:38 Email | Share | | Bookmark
A guide to a (budget) trip to Cape Town, South Africa !

How to plan a pretty budget trip to Cape Town.

1. Choose a place that would be the closest to your choice of place of visit. I choose City Lodge, as I stayed at their sister hotel ( Town Lodge @ Roodeport, Joburg ). (http://www.citylodge.co.za/ ). Its around the V & A Waterfront area and I would say it is one of the cheapest hotel around. Btw, City/Town Lodge provides good and quality living condition except they don't have dinner. So, either you "tapau" or you can do a order in at the hotel.

2. Buy a 3 day bus pass, which is around 210 Rands @ 21 USD @ RM73.5. This will allow you to hop on a bus that brings you around Cape Town. The bus is so frequent, approximately 10 minutes in between each buses. You can hop off at any time at any interesting spot, and once done, hop back onto the bus.

3. Places you should visit are:
i) Table Mountain - Pay around 100 Rand for the trip up
ii) Follow a guided tour around Cape Town - 280 Rand
iii) For those who are looking for an Adrenaline rush, try the shark diving - I think its around 1500 Rands. I missed this cause of bad weather
iv) Take a walk around V & A Waterfront. - Free ! The best part about this is you can slowly take a stroll around here. However, souvenirs are on your own

v) Aquarium - 60 Rand. This I would say reserve it if you really have NOTHING else to do. I thin once you have seen an underwater aquarium, you've seen it all.

4. If you want to save up on food, eat fast food ! *I ate a lot of Nandos when I was in South Africa ! *

5. Plane flight from Joburg to Cape Town via SAA is around $ 192 @ RM 650

Wednesday, 21-Jan-2009 17:23 Email | Share | | Bookmark
The Show

A friend forwarded this song to me and I think this is a freakaliciouslly cool song

The Show - Lenka ( From DeeLern )

Check this song out too

Chairlift - Bruises ( from JuShin - http://404.stanch.net/ )

Lately I have been listening a lot to this "Happy-Go-Lucky" songs. Really gets you going and makes you appreciate all the finer things in life

Saturday, 17-Jan-2009 23:19 Email | Share | | Bookmark

I was speaking to my mom, dad and sis over Skype a little while ago and we were talking about my 18 year old cousin. Let me go all the way back to the start.

He was maybe one of the smartest and luckiest boy I have ever met in my life. Lets name him "Jolly". Jolly was born in the UK, because my uncle was studying in the UK during that time and my aunt was there too. So, with all the "butterflies and bees" happened, he rushed out of my aunts womb. Then after my uncle was done with his studies, he moved back to Malaysia for a couple of years before migrating to our dear neighbour, Singapore. My uncle was rather a rather wealthy and influential person. Thus, Jolly had a lot of chance to meet a lot of entrepreneur, businessman, professors, CEO and etc.

When Jolly was growing, he was nearly all the time at the top of his class, won multiple junior awards at his lower and high school. When Jolly finished his high school, the big question came. Would Jolly be a scientist, or would he be a professor or maybe even the next Einstein...

But surprisingly Einstein decided to choose the path of cinematography, which means that he wanted to be the next Ang Lee ! Everyone around him went like "WTF.." <- figuratively ok ? . At first I was shocked too. But then later on I realize something. Whats so wrong for someone to pursue his dream? Yes, Jolly's dad wanted him to do something more "reputable" and "logical". As time went on by, he managed to convince his parents of his interest and Jolly's dad agreed for him to pursue it.

What I am trying to say here is that, when it comes to that time of our life where we have to choose our tertiary education road, what always come in mind of most parents are "How can he get a job that earns a lot of $$$", or "Can he find a job easily with that cert ?". I did go through the same path as that too. My dad was pestering me to take up engineering , but honestly, i wanted to do Human Behavior and Psychology. Although there is not much regret in my life down the engineering path, there is still that pinch deep down inside wondering what would happen if I did.

My sister said "...when you are 40 and you look back in your life, you won't be thinking about the things you have done, you will be thinking of the things you missed out and the things you wished you had done". Yes jie, thank you for that beautiful quote and I guess i shall stick to it.

But I have one sort of my own quote ( with Sim and the rest of the hokkien geng too)


Thursday, 15-Jan-2009 15:35 Email | Share | | Bookmark
The Pursuit of Happiness

This is by far one of the finest article I have read this year. Do check it out.

By: Carlin Flora

Happiness is not about smiling all of the time. It's not about eliminating bad moods, or trading your Tolstoy-inspired nuance and ambivalence toward people and situations for cheery pronouncements devoid of critical judgment. While the veritable experts lie in different camps and sometimes challenge one another, over the past decade they've together assembled big chunks of the happiness puzzle.

What is happiness? The most useful definition—and it's one agreed upon by neuroscientists, psychiatrists, behavioral economists, positive psychologists, and Buddhist monks—is more like satisfied or content than "happy" in its strict bursting-with-glee sense. It has depth and deliberation to it. It encompasses living a meaningful life, utilizing your gifts and your time, living with thought and purpose.

It's maximized when you also feel part of a community. And when you confront annoyances and crises with grace. It involves a willingness to learn and stretch and grow, which sometimes involves discomfort. It requires acting on life, not merely taking it in. It's not joy, a temporary exhilaration, or even pleasure, that sensual rush—though a steady supply of those feelings course through those who seize each day.

There has been real progress in understanding happiness and how to get it. Here are the greatest hits, as it were, that jump out from the research.

Some People Are Born Happy

Some lucky souls really are born with brighter outlooks than others; they simply see beauty and opportunity where others hone in on flaws and dangers. But those with a more ominous orientation can alter their outlook, at least to a point. They can learn to internally challenge their fearful thoughts and negative assumptions—"she thinks I'm an idiot," "I'm going to get fired," "I'll never be a good mom"—if not eliminate them altogether. Engaging in positive internal dialogue is actually a mark of the mentally healthy.

Getting What You Want Doesn't Bring Lasting Happiness

You think happiness would arrive if you were to win the lottery, or would forever fade away if your home were destroyed in a flood. But human beings are remarkably adaptable. After a variable period of adjustment, we bounce back to our previous level of happiness, no matter what happens to us. (There are some scientifically proven exceptions, notably suffering the unexpected loss of a job or the loss of a spouse. Both events tend to permanently knock people down a notch.)

Our adaptability works in two directions. Because we are so adaptable, points out Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside, we quickly get used to many of the accomplishments we strive for in life, such as landing the big job or getting married. Soon after we reach a milestone, we start to feel that something is missing. We begin coveting another worldly possession or eyeing a social advancement. But such an approach keeps us tethered to the "hedonic treadmill," where happiness is always just out of reach, one toy or one notch away. It's possible to get off the treadmill entirely, Lyubomirsky says, by focusing on activities that are dynamic, surprising, and attention-absorbing, and thus less likely to bore us than, say, acquiring shiny stuff.

Pain Is a Part of Happiness

Happiness is not your reward for escaping pain. It demands that you confront negative feelings head-on, without letting them overwhelm you. Russ Harris, a medical doctor-cum-counselor and author of The Happiness Trap, calls popular conceptions of happiness dangerous because they set people up for a "struggle against reality." They don't acknowledge that real life is full of disappointments, loss, and inconveniences. "If you're going to live a rich and meaningful life," Harris says, "you're going to feel a full range of emotions."

The point isn't to limit that palette of feelings. After all, negative states cue us into what we value and what we need to change: Grief for a loved one proves how much we cherish our relationships. Frustration with several jobs in a row is a sign we're in the wrong career. Happiness would be meaningless if not for sadness: Without the contrast of darkness, there is no light.

Mindfulness Brings Happiness

Mindfulness, a mental state of relaxed awareness of the present moment, marked by openness and curiosity toward your feelings rather than judgments of them, is a powerful tool for experiencing happiness when practiced regularly. "If you bring mindfulness to bear on negative feelings, they lose their impact. Just let them be there without struggling against them, and you'll eventually feel less anxiety and depression," Harris says. Don't banish your negative feelings, but don't let them get in the way of your taking productive actions, either.

Happiness Lies in the Chase

Action toward goals other than happiness makes us happy. Though there is a place for vegging out and reading trashy novels, easy pleasures will never light us up the way mastering a new skill or building something from scratch will.

And it's not crossing the finish line that is most rewarding; it's anticipating achieving your goal. University of Wisconsin neuroscientist Richard Davidson has found that working hard toward a goal, and making progress to the point of expecting a goal to be realized, doesn't just activate positive feelings—it also suppresses negative emotions such as fear and depression.

Yes, Money Buys Happiness—At Least Some Money and Some Happiness

Money does buy happiness, but only up to the point where it enables you to live comfortably. Beyond that, more cash doesn't boost your well-being. But generosity brings true joy, so striking it rich could in fact underwrite your happiness—if you were to give your wealth away.

Happiness Is Relative

Whether or not we are keeping up with the Joneses—a nagging thought known as status anxiety—affects how happy we are. Some are more obsessed with status than others, but we're all attuned to how we're doing in life relative to those around us. To stop status worries from gnawing at your happiness, choose your peer group carefully. Owning the smallest mansion in a gated community could make you feel worse off than buying the biggest bungalow in a less affluent neighborhood.

Options Make Us Miserable

We're constantly making decisions, ranging from what to eat for dinner each night to whom we should marry, not to mention all those flavors of ice cream. We base many of our decisions on whether we think a particular preference will increase our well-being. Intuitively, we seem convinced that the more choices we have, the better off we'll ultimately be. But our world of unlimited opportunity imprisons us more than it makes us happy. In what Swarthmore psychologist Barry Schwartz calls "the paradox of choice," facing many possibilities leaves us stressed out—and less satisfied with whatever we do decide. Having too many choices keeps us wondering about all the opportunities missed.

Happiness Is Other People

Positive psychologist Chris Peterson, a professor at the University of Michigan, says the best piece of advice to come out of his field is to make strong personal relationships your priority. Good relationships are buffers against the damaging effects of all of life's inevitable letdowns and setbacks.

Do Your Happiness Homework

You can increase positive feelings by incorporating a few proven practices into your routine. Lyubomirsky suggests you express your gratitude toward someone in a letter or in a weekly journal, visualize the best possible future for yourself once a week, and perform acts of kindness for others on a regular basis to lift your mood in the moment and over time. "Becoming happier takes work, but it may be the most rewarding and fun work you'll ever do," she says.

Happiness Hinges on Your Time Frame

Feeling happy while you carry out your day-to-day activities may not have much to do with how satisfied you feel in general. Time skews our perceptions of happiness. Parents look back warmly on their children's preschool years, for example. But Daniel Kahneman of Princeton University found that childcare tasks rank very low on the list of what makes people happy, below napping and watching TV. And yet, if you were to step back and evaluate a decade of your life, would a spirited stretch of raising children or a steady stream of dozing off on the couch each day in between soap operas illustrate a "happier" time? Evaluate your well-being at the macro as well as the micro level to get the most accurate picture of your own happiness.

You're Wrong About What Will Make You Happy and You're Wrong About What Made You Happy

Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert discovered a deep truth about happiness: Things are almost never as bad—or as good—as we expect them to be. Your promotion will be quite nice, but it won't be a 24-hour parade. Your breakup will be very hard, but also instructive, and maybe even energizing. We are terrible at predicting our future feelings accurately, especially if our predictions are based on our past experiences. The past exists in our memory, after all, and memory is not a reliable recording device: We recall beginnings and endings far more intensely than those long "middles," whether they're eventful or not. So the horrible beginning of your vacation will lead you astray in deciding the best place to go next year.

Gilbert's take-away advice is to forgo your own mental projections. The best predictor of whether you'll enjoy something is whether someone else enjoyed it. So simply ask your friend who went to Mexico if you, too, should go there on vacation.

Happiness Is Embracing Your Natural Coping Style

Not everyone can put on a happy face. Barbara Held, a professor of psychology at Bowdoin College, for one, rails against "the tyranny of the positive attitude." "Looking on the bright side isn't possible for some people and is even counterproductive," she insists. "When you put pressure on people to cope in a way that doesn't fit them, it not only doesn't work, it makes them feel like a failure on top of already feeling bad."

The one-size-fits-all approach to managing emotional life is misguided, agrees Julie Norem, author of The Positive Power of Negative Thinking. In her research, the Wellesley professor of psychology has shown that the defensive pessimism that anxious people feel can be harnessed to help them get things done, which in turn makes them happier. A naturally pessimistic architect, for example, can set low expectations for an upcoming presentation and review all of the bad outcomes that she's imagining, so that she can prepare carefully and increase her chances of success.

Happiness Is Living Your Values

If you aren't living according to your values, you won't be happy, no matter how much you are achieving. Some people, however, aren't even sure what their values are. If you're one of them, Harris has a great question for you: "Imagine I could wave a magic wand to ensure that you would have the approval and admiration of everyone on the planet, forever. What, in that case, would you choose to do with your life?"

Once you've answered honestly, you can start taking steps toward your ideal vision of yourself. You can tape positive affirmations to your mirror, or you can cut up your advice books and turn them into a papier mache project. It doesn't matter, as long as you're living consciously. The state of happiness is not really a state at all. It's an ongoing personal experiment.

So what is your happy factor ?

Sunday, 11-Jan-2009 10:35 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Why am I proud to be a Malaysian...

...at times.

Penang was listed top 44 places to visit in NY Times


But darn it , Malaysia has the same GDP with only Oregon !

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