Saturday 30 January 2016

If you want something done...

By assigning a score out of 10, where a score of 0 means you 'Strongly Disagree' and a score of 10 means you 'Strongly Agree', how much do you agree with the below quote?

"If you want something done, then do it yourself. No one else can be trusted."

Probably an 8 or 9 for me.

Andre Lim

Monday 25 January 2016

Future generations

Isn't it interesting - and sad - to think that, when our time is up and we are long gone from the face of this Earth, the next generation of men and women might simply not remember the very things that we celebrate or are acquainted with?

The so-called 'great' things that this generation accomplished; the feats of wonder, the things they call 'achievements' or 'historical moments' - won't our children, their children and their children's children's forget about them? And even if they remember, won't it only be for a brief moment? But how could anyone blame them? They weren't of this time - they never saw it with their own eyes or experienced it first-hand. They will only read about it in books and watch documentaries describing and depicting what occurred (assuming the world has not destroyed itself by then).

Won't most of them be far too busy planning their own futures to look back in the past - why would they bother with what we had accomplished?

And what of the great catastrophes and injustices the people of this world have suffered - those tyrannical regimes, those wars spilling innocent blood and those evil things that have happened that should never happen again - will those be forgotten too, only to be repeated once more?


But why should I worry about that? They will forget, and there is (probably) not much we can do about it.....

For instance, it occurred to me that I do not even know who most of the people on the Australian dollar notes are or what they stood for. So I made an effort to find out today :)

Images and information below all courtesy of Wikipedia

Dame Nellie Melba - Soprano legend of the Victorian era (I heard of her)

Sir John Monash - Considered the most famous Australian general. Fought in Gallipoli

David Unaipon - Indigenous inventor/writer/preacher

Edith Cowan - First lady elected to an Australian Parliament

Mary Reibey - Convict turned successful businesswoman

Reverend John Flynn - Established the Royal Flying Doctor Service, the world's first air ambulance

Banjo Paterson - Bush poet and ballad-writer (This I knew)

Dame Mary Gilmore - Poet and journalist

Henry Parkes - Father of Federation (This I knew)

Catherine Helen Spence - First female political candidate

Queen Elizabeth II - Of course I knew her. Queen of the UK.

Andre Lim

Sunday 24 January 2016

One key to enjoying life is...?

By assigning a score out of 10, where a score of 0 means you 'Strongly Disagree' and a score of 10 means you 'Strongly Agree', how much do you agree with the below quote?

"One key to enjoying life is to not take yourself too seriously.
(What does it mean to take 'yourself too seriously'? If someone makes fun or light of you - say in a trivial rather than significant way - do you feel the urge to defend yourself or fight back? Do you feel the need to 'clear your reputation'? If so, perhaps you take yourself too seriously - perhaps by this definition we all take ourselves too seriously.)
 In this life, you will find no shortage of people who will:
  • Hurl insults at you
  • Offend, hurt or shame you 
  • Talk negative things behind your back
  • Emotionally abuse you 
Assuming no physical violence is involved, must you necessarily defend yourself from their empty words?
Of course, you could if you wanted to, but if you apply this approach to all your life, you may find that you will be doing this ad infinitum. How long can you sustain this before it starts to take its toll on you?
Have nothing to do with these people, but at the same time, don't let their schemes affect you because it is simply just not worth it.
You deserve better than that.
As far as is humanly possible, try to be at peace with everyone around you.
And if there can be no peace, so be it - you tried your best. Perhaps, in most scenarios, it is better to just smile and walk away. You do not always need to clear your name.

Andre Lim

Friday 22 January 2016

Saro Lem, Hero of Battambang !

The humble tour guide with excellent English and tour guide skills.
+855 (0) 1779 0977
If you ever feel like straying away from the somewhat touristy Siem Reap (not that touristy is always a bad thing - Siem Reap is quite nice in itself as the town capitalises on its famous Angkor temples), look no further than Battambang, Cambodia which is a 2 - 2.5 hour drive from Siem Reap (depending on the skill of your taxi driver).

Courtesy of

Now, Saro Lem is something of a legend in these parts (in my view).

He can provide a custom tour of Battambang and its surrounds.

From memory..we were at Battambang on 30 December 2015. We flew back to Ho Chi Minh City on 31 December 2015.

In our particular tour Saro:

- Recommended a place for us to have lunch.

- Took us to some palace which I don't really know the name of, which was also near a bridge. (Yes vague description lol - he also took us to some colonial buildings)

- Showed us the statue of Battambang and explained the history of it. 'Battambang' apparently means *the City of the Lost Stick. That's why the guy in the picture looks so bewildered and open-eyed because he lost his stick which I think was the source of his right to rule (perhaps my picture is too small for you to see his expression).

- Showed us local villages and crops. The above photo I think is a chilli, peanut (? or potato?) and some other crop next to a river used for fishing. The villages were quite run down and poor :( We also got to see a rice workshop where they sifted and separated the rice into broken, whole and other sorts of rice which I forget the name of. There are plenty of temples too every now and then to stop by if you want to.

From my phone rather than my mum's camera

- BAMBOO TRAIN!  (but wear a face mask if sitting at the front - the insects don't fly into you, YOU fly into them).

A 'dismantable' train along an unused train track that apparently can take you to...was it Thailand? (I forgot) if you keep going. It is essentially a wooden platform on 2 or 4 wheels propelled by a boat-like motor? It rides at about 30 to 40km/hr and there is nothing much to hold on to.

If a bamboo train comes from the other direction you have to hop off and your 'conductor' will dismantle the train. Very fun, I enjoyed this but I wish I had a face mask.

HOWEVER I should say that the Smart Traveller website warns Australians not to go on bamboo trains LOL (I only read the website after we did it).

Please see here for more info:

Saro Lem on the right!

Again, from my phone

- Went with us up a mountain to visit the Killing Caves (that evil place where they killed so many innocent Cambodians under the reign of Pol Pot by throwing them down a DEEP hole - the Killing Fields and Killing Dam [which Saro says is now a tourist resort?!?!] make up the other places of evil. Horrible.), a temple and to view the local surrounds.

- Took us a to a special 'lookout' (hidden from view and not so easy to get to - have to navigate a shaky ladder) where we could see the sunset and the canyons...

All photos courtesy of my mum, the avid photographer
- Took us after the sunset to see the bat cave where all the bats come out like crazy!!!

Note that the drive itself to Battambang will also enable you to see the countryside and have a better understanding of the 'real Cambodia' (though I am sure driving generally away from the main cities will show you this).

So, if you are in town, please call Saro Lem to obtain his services on +855 (0) 1779 0977 or find him on Facebook.

By doing this, you are supporting him, his wife and young child (both of whom we also met). His wife also helps to run a drinks shop.

Please tip him generously too, if you can, as he charges a somewhat lower fare than others for a whole day tour (11am-7pm? from memory). He seems to me to be more concerned about customer satisfaction rather than $$$$$

From our experience, he is quite a nice guy and refused to give us his business card until after the trip when he was satisfied that we were happy with his services.

He was born and grew up in a refugee camp near Thailand. How he speaks English so well I will never know. Very admirable.

I'd like to see him again one day.

Andre Lim

Full credit to my sister, Chloe, and dad for organising the trip. I planned absolutely nothing.

Wednesday 20 January 2016

2016 - Year of Surprises

I don't believe in New Years Resolutions.

If you want to do something new or different, why must you wait until the New Year to do it?

However, that being said, it was around, or perhaps just after, Christmas time when I randomly thought to myself:
"I am going to do something different. I am going to do something people won't expect me to do."

By way of example, I hate leisurely reading. Or I hated it. Maybe I still hate it.

There used to be a time when I would read all sorts of fantasy novels.

However university readings dulled my brain to the point where I loathed reading..even if it was leisurely reading.

I would tell myself:
"Sure, I'll read at work or for uni (because I have to), but not when I'm supposed to be relaxing..."

So while we were in Cambodia and Vietnam, I thought to myself: I'm going to surprise my sister Chloe and read a book series she has been bugging me to read.

To add a bit more context, my sister had, over the years, accumulated massive amounts of disappointment upon disappointment regarding my refusal to read books - in particular she was quite annoyed that I still have not (and don't intend to) read the 7th Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows or the last Keys to the Kingdom book, Lord Sunday (despite me reading all the other books in the series!).

She called me names and could not believe that I would not "finish" the series.

I even started to read A Game of Thrones but when the sexual descriptions became too rampant I decided to stop.

So, to make it up to her, and to surprise her with something COMPLETELY unexpected, I've decided to put aside my stubbornness and read A Song of Ice and Fire, starting from A Game of Thrones. All just to prove a point!

The first book has started off quite well, just as I knew and expected it would (given all the hype) but as I've mentioned I don't really enjoy the vivid descriptions of sexual encounters. In that sense, ASOIAF reminds me of the Belgariad and the Mallorean series where sexual descriptions were rife. I think a book can be enjoyable without those things, but I suppose I cannot blame George R Martin for trying to paint a crude, cruel and rough image of the world.


My parents have always lectured me about the 'wasted opportunity' I spurned by not learning 'Mandarin' (PuTongHua) in the past.

I can speak broken Mandarin to my grandmother. But in all fairness, it really isn't good enough.

So I thought, OK, I will prove them wrong and I will do something unexpected. I will take up Mandarin lessons with my friend Roy weekly.

I will ALSO make an effort to learn some basic Cantonese as a BONUS.

I said to mum:

"Alright, if you REALLY want me to learn Cantonese, you must promise me these things: 1) You must not make fun of me 2) You must not keep reminding me of the fact that I wasted the opportunity to learn Cantonese over all these years and 3) You must be patient with me."

She said: "Ok, fine."

How long will this last for?

Who knows.

But it feels nice for a change.

Andre Lim

Monday 18 January 2016


So a very important - and rather drastic - truth occurred deep inside me:
If I die without having at least a basic understanding and fluency of Mandarin AND Cantonese, I would consider my life an absolute and utter failure.

We all know that talk is cheap.

So what are you going to do about it now?

Andre Lim

Sunday 17 January 2016

Respecting people

It's my view that you don't need to 'like' every single person you encounter or meet.

In fact, I would say it is actually impossible to like everyone given that our world is constituted of, for example, criminals or people with bad intentions - and even if we don't go that far, there are always going to be clashes in personality.

However, I'd like to explore this issue in the narrower context of family.

Some extended families, such as mine, can be quite large.

For example it is not uncommon to see a clan of, say, 10 brothers and sisters and their numerous children.

In this context it is quite impossible to expect everyone to 'like' everyone. Every clan has its own dilemmas or dramas, even within each respective immediate family.

That being said, while we don't have to like everyone, as my sister says, I believe you can choose to respect people - assuming of course they don't commit some kind of grievous physical harm towards you or the like.

I think our lives are far too short to let petty differences get in the way of having a united and happy family. The word 'petty' is relative of course; since disputes are quite emotional and offensive by nature, it's very likely that all parties to a dispute would take objection to anyone calling their altercation 'petty'. However, when I refer to the word 'petty' I use that in comparison to the worst possible issue that could arise in a person's life: Death.

And that's the thing. When I die, I don't want to leave behind any disputes or cause any people to be offended. Stress will obviously also increase the chances of death and harm one's quality of life.

In summary, while we may not like certain aspects of our relatives' or family's lives, I think we can either choose to

A) forgive
B) look at their positives
or, at the very least,
C) opt to put aside our differences temporarily at reunions

for the sake of peace.

After all, it is not like we all are completely without fault.

Andre Lim

Sunday 3 January 2016

Harry Potter and the Chairs of "Chiam"

On 29 December 2015, in Siem Reap, Cambodia, we woke up at approximately 4am to catch the Angkor Wat sunrise.

One of the many vendor aliases for breakfast after sunrise

View at about 6am in December

We left by tuk-tuk at about 4.30am, not having eaten breakfast but the hotel had provided us with freshly baked hot bread to eat on the tuk-tuk.

Even before we arrived at the ticketing booth, it was clear that we were not the only ones who had the same idea. Streams of tuk-tuks and cars could be seen and heard in the darkness, scurrying towards Angkor Wat.

After obtaining our tickets, and after a further short ride, we then proceeded to the dark stone steps of the bridge that lead to the temple.

The hoard of tourists, which was becoming larger as time went on, got into position around the lake in front of Angkor Wat.

The sunrise itself, in my view, was good but overrated. The sun did not actually come out until around 6.40am.

However, there was a related incident that will stick in my memory for the rest of my life and rates a mention.

"Harry Potter"

When we arrived at the lake at around - I don't know - 5am, a local Cambodian had approached my sister and mother and said words to the following effect:

"I (sic) show  you a place to take photos. You stand over there (*he pointed*) and you can take photos like this (*he pulled out his smart phone and showed examples of shots he had presumably taken himself*). During this time of the year it is best to stand over there where you can capture all 5 'towers' of Angkor Wat."

After we had thanked him for his kindness the Cambodian local then said:
"My name is Harry Potter. Please come to my store for breakfast after sunrise. Remember, Harry Potter shop number 5."
I had a shock - Harry Potter in Cambodia! - what kind of tourist trap was this?

We said OK, and thanked him again.

The Chairs of "Chiam" (We would later find out that his name is spelt "Jame")

Not long after Harry Potter had left, another taller Cambodian approached us and said:
"Would you like a place to sit? It is free, I can give you some chairs."
We nodded, thanking him for his kindness.

The taller Cambodian left momentarily and brought back some chairs.
"Here you go," he said
"Please remember to come to my store for breakfast after sunrise. My name is 'Chiam' -- shop number 10". 
"Hey what about me?! You remember me right? I am Harry Potter shop number 5. You know that Chiam is different to me right? I thought you were going to visit me at sunrise."

Chiam kept quiet.

I felt the moral conundrum.

We said something to the effect of:
"We will buy something from both of your shops, don't worry."
Harry Potter seemed content with this answer.

After Sunrise

After sunrise my sister and I went to Harry Potter's store and my dad and mum went to Chiam's store.

Interestingly the other vendors had other interesting aliases such as "Mr Rambo 1", "Mr Rambo 2" or "Lady Gaga".

We thought that this 2-2 split was the only way to be fair; however, in the end, sadly, Harry Potter lost out to Chiam as my sister and I were not that hungry and, therefore, only ordered US $3 worth of goods (Yeo's Grass Jelly and a hot chocolate). Clearly we had not thought this through properly.

After we had ordered drinks, Harry Potter, with eager eyes and with menus at the ready, had said words to the following effect to us:
"So what would you like to order for breakfast?"
One of us said to Harry Potter:
"I'm really sorry, we're not that hungry but thank you very much."
There was a sad look in Harry Potter's eyes. This was understandable. After all, this was his livelihood.

I looked over to Chiam's store, and it was bustling with customers (customers who had all, presumably, earlier accepted Chiam's offer).

In stark contrast, Harry Potter's store was relatively empty.

It was clear that Chiam's "chair ploy" had paid off.

For that short moment in time, I - at least, partially - regretted eating the freshly baked bread that had been given to us by the hotel.

Andre Lim