Category Archives: Blogging

Travel for a living?

Getting paid to travel? Life is just too complicated; there’s no free lunch in this world, and making a good living out of traveling is simply too good to be true.

To be frank, I secretly had that aspiration. I mean, it was definitely not as impossible as to have a super power, but someone like me being paid to travel? I already gave up on the idea long time ago, when I realised i’m no extra-ordinary writer in English and I have no charm and natural talent, let alone the handsome-ness, to be on camera, like those TV and social media personalities.

Luckily enough, recently, a “social media influencer” friend jokingly invited me to go on a paid trip on her behalf, and of course, I said yes. She picked the wrong person to joke about this with. Free trip? Paid? I hadn’t gone on one for a really long time. Being someone who quit his full-time job simply because his boss said no to his leave request to go on a free trip to a new country, I took my chances and accepted the invitation without hesitation.

So in the last week of Oct 2016, I went along with 20 something “social media influencer” (mostly from the Philippines), on a fully sponsored tour around two major tourist attractions cities of Indonesia – Bali & Yogyakarta. It is part of Indonesia Ministry of Tourism, Marketing Division’s strategies, to promote Indonesia as leading attractions among both emerging and avid travellers, mostly from Southeast Asia. The idea is to let this bunch of social media activist to experience first-hand high quality hospitality of Indonesia, inspiring them to tell about their amazing experiences to their fans and followers, mainly through their writing, photos and/or videos.

I must applaud their approach to marketing. Definitely taking the word-of-mouth approach to the new level. In the realm of social media taking over the world, where social experience by genuine customers, real travellers, sharing authentically about their experience about something, speaking incredibly volumes than deliberate marketing campaign led by the “sellers”, this is definitely an easy example of putting investment in the right basket.

Not entirely genuine, I would say, but it’s very close. I am no social media celebrity and my influencing power is limited to a much smaller group of people. But whatever I put online, I really mean it. From someone that hardly talked about Indonesia, to become a friend, a colleague, and acquaintance that can’t stop brining up Indonesia, Bali and Yogyakarta, when travelling and holiday come into a conversation. Certainly a shift of behaviour I’ve noticed in myself, which is not because I feel obliged to promote the country or to boast about where I have visited or what I have done, but because I genuinely had a good experience and want to honestly recommend it to other people.

Plus, other destinations around Indonesia are now among the top places that come to my mind when planning for next personal holiday, and I’m not even kidding about it.

This is  one third of the bunch that I spent about a week with. I would say they are definitely a bunch more friendly, more interesting, more inspiring than an average person I’ve met. Thanks to them, I want to travel more, I want to take better pictures, and I have eyes on things other than what’s in my daily routine over the last 2.5 years.



This is the full bunch:


@IndTravel #WonderfulIndonesia #TripofWonders

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Safety at the Compromise of Positive Assumption

Around this Hari Raya holiday, I applied for a few more days off my annual leaves and took the chance to visit home in Phnom Penh for one week.

The landscape of Phnom Penh is rapidly changing. From the plane, a lot of construction sites are within sight.

One of the things I really don’t miss at all about my lifestyle in Phnom Penh is going around on a motorbike and having to fix a flat tire. OMG, having to deal with a flat tire!!!

During my one week trip home, I can’t believe I had to deal with this annoying occurrence. After a dinner with a few friends, while the sky was sprinkling, making my way through a dark road near Russian Market, I felt something was wrong. About 50 m further, it was guaranteed a flat tire – the worst day part of this time off from work.

After a while of walking my motorbike to find a repair shop, a gentleman approached me, asking what had happened and offering to help me take out whatever nail that pierced through and flattened the tyre.

Instead of feeling appreciative and happy for such an act of kindness, I got instantly alert and apprehensive – was it really out of rare good heart or it was out of some foxy intention?

I refused his offer, playing the being-considerate card, as in I didn’t want to trouble him, while I got all imaginative of what could possibly happen during this badly lighted time, to my watch, wallet and the motorbike, if he had been a bad guy.

He then offered to go further on his motorbike to check if there was any repair shop ahead. After a few brief seconds he returned and confirmed there was none in the direction I was heading. He suggested I turned left or went to a place further, close to his house. I decided to turn left and he offered another favour – if I wanted to pop on his bike so that he could help me with speed and more push to drag my bike to find the repair shop.

I continued to refuse the favour, mentioning my sheer reluctance to trouble him. Plus I really didn’t think I could drag the motorbike on the ride that he wanted to give me.

I kept reassuring him that I’d be fine on my own and he needn’t trouble himself. He bought it and left.

A mentality, a context, a reflex has become affixed; the more we hear, the less we trust. We have come to question good deeds, kind gestures, for fear of risks and harms. We become less optimistic about our society, our neighbours, our fellow countrymen. 

The odds can be our fear is true, as much as the fact that our lens, mentality, assumption, doubts, and fear belittle a truly good heart, harming the dignity and good will of a rare kind being.

If I had to be put in the same situation again, I would do the exact same thing. Prevention is better than cure. What would you do in such situation?

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Leadership strengths make a difference

Looking back and forth, thinking it through from Earth all the way to Mars and back, head-wrecking issues that HR and any organization face have their weakness with the right leadership of those that are given the privilege of managing other people. So many issues would never have materialised only if the manager knows and lives leadership. Although leadership is no longer a secret ingredient (it’s probably the most talked about thing of the century among any organization), a lot of the managers only know but don’t really live and practice leadership as it is supposed to.

Ok, leadership isn’t just a rigid list of items in a recipe; no matter how much it has been talked about, it’s still a very abstract concept. Interpretation of what resonates good leadership are subjective and isn’t mathematical. However, I’ve been taught to believe that the fundamentals of leadership can still be drawn out, in a sense wide enough to umbrella all of those subjectively different interpretation. Just as AIESEC has collectively put it:


Leadership is about knowing oneself in relations to other people, about empowering others, and about being part of the solutions by upholding, breathing in & out responsible and optimistic attitudes towards creating solutions for surrounding problems.

Taking the contexts of how ones are authorised and privileged to manage and supposedly lead others, leadership would clearly make a difference. Strong leadership at all hierarchical levels almost mean a lot of HR-driven processes become obsolete, because then HR need not constantly be a law-maker and a policeman to introduce and remind people of people-related processes and take not so popular actions to ensure compliance. Those processes would exist in their best natural forms – the managers/leaders take the best care of their employees, which would results in high retention, engagement, motivated and empowered workforce, and thus high performing organization – a utopia that every entity dreams of.

My take on this, as an early HR professional, as well as a member/alumni of AIESEC, a specialist organization in leadership, is that: leadership and people managerial responsibility isn’t something that employers might as well as give away, to any Tom, Dick and Harry, and definitely something cheap. Impactful things, potentially giving high returns, are expensive. Organizations should be ready to invest in vigorous processes to develop someone from the inside or head-hunt external talents to take on leadership positions and to pay competent leaders/managers the money that they deserve, because their ability will collectively turn around the effectiveness of their workforce and the profitability of their business.

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Quick Getaway to Johor Bahru

Since I started working Singapore, Malaysia has been the country whose immigration stamp is the most prominent in my passport; I’ve re-entered Malaysia so many times and I don’t even think I have re-entered Cambodia as many times.

I have only few to KL a few times from Singapore but what made the difference is Johor Bahru; it has been my short day getaway from Singapore. I go there with local friends, with non-locals, and even by myself.

Considering the currency devaluation of Malaysian ringgits against SGD (and USD) recently, Malaysia has been a place I have my eyes on especially when it comes to shopping. I’m even more inclined to shopping in Malaysian, than in Cambodia.

For those that might find this useful, let me share with you a few things about Johor Bahru and what this city has to offer for Singapore residents.

A trip from the central Singapore into Johor Bahru can take between 1 to 4 hours: The trip by bus or train to the border takes roughly an hour, depending on where you depart, and if you are lucky, getting your passports checked and stamped, at both Singapore and Malaysia sides can take as little 30 minutes, but it can also take as long as 4 hours. It’s always very quick at the Singapore side, but it can be really excruciatingly long at the Malaysia side. I tend to attribute that to Malaysia’s less efficient way of working, but, prejudice aside, it might be because they are intentionally slow to control the influx of people into the country.

So try to go when there’s less traffic, if you can figure out when, although I usually can’t. You may refer to to forecast the traffic, for some rough estimate.

City Square (just right after the checkpiont) is very sufficient for shopping and a number of other leisure activities. There’s a new high-end, shopping mall, well connected from City Square and CIQ (Custom & Immigration Quarantine Complex). There are pretty much everything you need, from food and household consumables (Guardian/Watson) to luxury products (Nike, H&M, etc.) and even traditional costumes. The only thing, I reckon, is lacking is a hyper-mart. The closest mall with a hyper-mart is 15 minutes away by bus (the bus fare is less than 1.5 ringgit) – KSL City Mall.

Johor Premium Outlet (JPO) is a must to check out, especially if you like brand products and want to explore JB more than just shopping. A really nice place it is, located quite secluded (or maybe it is how Johor is, big and spacious), JPO is no ordinary shopping mall. The whole place is organized to look like a small porshe residential village, with a number of well-connect villas which are actually stores of brand products. I later found that the place shares a lot of similarity with Cabazon Outlets in California; the place must be associated with the same corporation.

Parking lot beside the mall
Didn't manage to take any such pic of the place, so I looked for one from the internet
Didn’t manage to take any such pic of the place, so I looked for one from the internet

The journey there is close to an hour bus ride from CIQ; there are 6 or 7 buses run daily by Causeway Link Bus to JPO. You may go find a bus JPO1. Here’s the schedule of the bus; one way fare is 4.5 Malaysian ringgits.


Besides shopping, for a couple of times, guided by anon-Singaporean, non-Malaysian friend, who lives a less conventional, more adventurous lifestyle and visits Johor very often, I took a stroll along a few local streets close to City Square. This is something a very un-singaporean thing to do, as a lot see JB as a a very unsafe place to visit (actually anywhere in the world is unsafe when compared to Singapore).

If you take a walk down the overhead bridge that connects CIQ and City Square and head southeast, you’ll see more of JB, food stalls, barbers, sari shop, etc. that locals go to etc. Further, after 10 mn or so, you can easily find a nice pedestrian street, at the beginning of which there is a remarkably red coffee house, at a corner, that serves good Malaysian snacks and drink at really cheap prices. Later in the afternoon, locals will take out their mat and open their little stalls that sell a good variety of nitty gritty items, from clothe and purses to household tools like screwdrivers. Definitely an area to explore.

I came across this walking along the street. Fortunately, the place has been now renovated and this repugnant graffiti was painted over. :D
I came across this walking along the street. Fortunately, the place has been now renovated and this repugnant graffiti was painted over. 😀


Senai Airport: Especially for those that live close to the Woodland Checkpoint, Senai Airport of JB can be quite a cost saver. It’s very well connected to KL by AirAsia and Malaysia Airline, and I once flew to Yangon from there through KL, during the SG50 holiday in Singapore, so it was a much cheaper option than to fly from Changi. If my memory serves me right, there are buses departing there at every hour from CIQ and the journey takes about 45mn.

I have also heard about a few other places, which I have yet to explore, including the Lego Land. Considering the size and the location of JB, I should think there are some nice boutique resorts for relaxation as well. I’ll dig up some more about them and will check a few out when I’m better off, with more money to spend on such luxury.

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About Cambodia on “From Third World to First”

It’s been a long but very interesting reading. It’s been inspiring and eye-opening. There are lessons about leadership, about relationship, about politics, about purposefulness, about confidence …. all of which I find incredibly empowering.

In addition to all above, here’s a short extract that I found really captivating and moving – definitely one of my favorite parts of the book.

“[…] I prefer to remember Cambodia as the oasis of peace and prosperity in the war-torn Indochina of the 1960s. Choo and I made our first visit to Phnom Penh, its capital, in 1962. Prince Norodom Sihanouk personally greeted us at the airport and had dancers in traditional costume scatter flower petals on the red carpet as we walked to the car after I had inspected a guard of honor. Phnom Penh was like a French provincial town, quiet and peaceful with wide boulevards reminiscent of the Champs Elysees in Paris lined with trees and flanked by side roads also shaded by trees. There was even a monumental archway, a Khmer version of the Arc de Triomphe, at the center of a major crossroads, the Place de e’independence. We stayed at the Palais du Gouvernement, formerly the residence of the French governor general, by the Mekong River. Sihanouk himself lived in the old palace. He entertained us to dinner in grand style, then flew us in his personal Russian aircraft to see Angkor Wat.

Sihanouk was an extraordinary personality, highly intelligent and full of energy and joie de vivre. He had the airs and graces of an educated French gentleman, with allt he accompanying gestures and mannerisms, and spoken English the French way. Medium in height, a little rotund, he had a broad face with flared nostrils like the stone carvings on the temples around Angkor Wat. He was an excellent host who made each visit a memorable and enjoyable occasion. His banquets of French haute cuisine, with the French wines and beautiful cutlery to match, were a treat. I remember going to his palace in the provincial of Batambang, driving up to a raised entrance typical of driveways in French chateaux. As we arrived, short Cambodian guards, looking dwarfed by their thigh-high gleaming black Napolenonic boots with helmets to match, saluted with glinting swords. The reception and banquet halls were luxuriously furnished and air-conditioned. There was a Western and a Cambodian orchestra. Foreign diplomats were in attendance. It was a royal occasion.

The prince was mercurial, hypersensitive to criticism. He would answer every press article that was in any way critical. Politics for him was the press and publicity. When he was overthrown in the 1970 coup he said that he sought refuge in Beijing because he feared for his life. I believe that had he returned to Cambodia then, no soldier would have dared to shoot him on arrival at the airport. He was their god-king. He had kept Cambodia an oasis of peace and plenty in a troubled, war-ravaged Indochina by maintaining a precarious balance between the communists and the West. He sought the friendship and protection of the Chinese while he kept his ties with the West through France. When he stayed in Beijing instead of returning to defy the coup makers, the old Cambodia was destroyed.

I met him again when he came to Singapore in September 1981 for talks on forming a coalition with the Khmer Rouge. It was a changed Shihanouk. He had gone back to Phnom Penh and been a captive of the Khmer Rouge. He had been through a harrowing time; many of his children and grandchildren had been killed by Pol Pot, and he himself was in fear for his life. The old bouncy Sihanouk had been destroyed. He laughter, the high-pitched shill voice when he got excited, his gestures—all were more muted. He was a living tragedy, a symbol of what had happened to his country and his people. The Chinese had rescued him just before the Vietnamese captured Phnom Penh at the beginning of 1979. He appeared before the UN Security Council to speak against the Vietnamese invasion, and he became the international symbol of Cambodian resistance. For a long time he was unforgiving and adamant against a coalition government with the Khmer Rouge.

After the Khmer Rouge occupied Phnom Penh, the Cambodians, or Kampucheans as they called themselves during Pol Pot’s regime, were not active in the region. A senior minister, Ieng Sary, visited me in March 1977. He was soft-spoken, round-faced, and chubby; he looked the softest, kindest person, one who would look after babies tenderly. He was the brother-in-law and trusted aide of the infamous Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge leader who had slaughtered from 1 to 2 million Cambodians out of the a population of 7 million, including most of the educated, Cambodia’s brightest and best. He made no reference to this genocide and I decided against questing him. He was bound to deny, as their Khmer rouge broadcasts did, that it ever took place. Ieng Sary was realistic. He wanted trade—barter trade. He needed spare parts for factories, pumps for irrigation, and outboard motors for their finishing boats. In exchange, he offered fish from the Tonle Sap, Cambodia’s famous inland lake which flooded every year and produced excellent fish. The barter trade did not flourish (they had problems with logistics), so we had little trade or anything else to do with them.

Relations between Vietnam and Cambodia deteriorated with border clashes. Vietnam attached Cambodia in 1978 and captured it in January 1979. Thereafter, Cambodia existed in my consciousness only through our activities in and out of the UN to garner votes to block the Vietnamese puppet government from taking over Cambodia’s UN seat, and through our support for Cambodian resistance forces operating from the Thai-Cambodian border.

Sihanouk’s son, Prince Ranariddh, I had met several times between 1981 and 1991. His father had placed him in charge of the royalist forces near the Thai border with Cambodia. Ranariddh resembled his father in voice, mannerisms, facial expression, and body language. He was darker-complexioned and smaller, more equable in temperament and less swayed by the mood of the moment, but otherwise much in the same mold. He had his father’s fluency in French and had taught law in Lyon University before he took over the leadership of the royalist forces.

When I inspected their training camp in northeast Thailand in the 1980s I noted that it was not well organized and lacked military spirit. It was the best Ranariddh could do because, like him, his generals and officers spent more time in Bangkok than in the camp. As we were supporting them with weapons and radio equipment, I felt disappointed. After the 1991 settlement, the big aid donors took over. Ranariddh became the first prime minister (with Hun Sen as second prime minister) when his party won the 1993 UN-organized election. When we met in Singapore that August, I warned him that the coalition was a precarious arrangement. The military, police, and administration belonged to Hun Sen. If he wanted to survive, Ranariddh had to win over a part of Hun Sen’s army and police officers and some of the provincial governors. Being called the first prime minister and having his man appointed dense minister were of little value when the officers and troops were loyal to Hun Sen. He probably did not take my words to heart. He might have believed that his royal blood would assure him the support of the people, that he would be irreplaceable.

I met Hun Sen in Singapore in December that same year. He was a totally different character, a tough survivor of the Khmer Rouge, a prime minister appointed by the Vietnamese in the 1980s but agile enough to distance himself from them and be acceptable to the Americans and West Europeans. He left an impression of strength and ruthlessness. He understood power, that it came from the barrel of the gun, which he was determined to hold. Once the Khmer Rouge was on the decline, and Ranariddh could no longer team up with them to challenge him, Hun Sen ousted him in 1997 and took complete control, while remaining nominally second prime minister. Sihanouk had become king again after the 1993 election, but his poor health and frequent absences from Cambodia for cancer treatment in Beijing had taken him of the cockpit of power now occupied completely by Hun Sen and his army.

Cambodia is like a porcelain vase that has been smashed into myriads of shards. To put them together will be a slow and laborious task. As with all the mended porcelain, it cannot withstand much pressure. Pol Pot had killed 90 percent of Cambodia’s intelligentsia and trained personnel. The country now lacks a coherent administration. The people have been accustomed to lawless conditions for so long that they are no longer law-abiding. Only the gun is feared.

The people of Cambodia are the losers. The country is crushed, its educated class decimated, its economy devastated. Hun Sen’s coup caused Cambodia’s admission into ASEAN to be postponed. It was eventually admitted in April 1999 because no country wanted to spend US$2 billion for another UN operation to hold fair elections. Cambodia had had 27 years of war since Lon Nol’s 1970 coup. Its present leaders are the products of bitter, relentless struggles in which opponents were either eliminated or neutralized. They are utterly merciless and ruthless, without humane feelings. History has been cruel to the Cambodians.]

Page 324-328, “From Third World to First” by LKY


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Have your name on it! ;)

Woohoo! Have you seen Coke cans with the customized names on them? I have ones for my sister and her friend. They’re going to keep these forever. Thank you, Coca Cola! These cans are going to be available in the market very soon. You can also find ones for all family members and friends as a gift for them!
យូហ៊ូ អ្នក​មាន​បាន​ឃើញ​កំប៉ុង​កូកា​ថ្មី​ដែល​មាន​ឈ្មោះ​ហើយ​ឬនៅ? ខ្ញុំ​បាន​ទិញ​វា​១​ដែរ​ឲ្យប្អូនស្រីនិង​មិត្តរបស់នាង។ ពួក​គេ​ប្រាកដ​​ជា​នឹង​ទុក​វា​រហូត​ហើយ​មើល​ទៅ ហាហា។ អរគុណ​កូកា​កូឡា​! កំប៉ុង​ទាំង​នេះ​នឹង​មា​ន​លើ​ទីផ្សារ​ក្នុង​ពេល​ឆាប់ៗ​នេះ។  អ្នកអាច​រក​កំប៉ុងបែបនេះសំរាប់ក្រុមគ្រួសារ​និងមិត្តភក្តិអ្នក​ អោយ​ជា​កាដូ​ដល់​ពួក​គេ!
Longdy_17 May

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Something Special for Our Friends?

Life wouldn’t be the same without great friends. Share this special friends Coke can with your best ones and let them know how much they mean to you.
ជីវិត​ពិត​ជា​មិន​ដូច​គ្នា​ទេ​បើ​គ្មាន​មិត្តភក្តិ។ ចែក​រំលែក​កូកា​កំប៉ុង​ថ្មី នេះទៅកាន់​ពួក​ម៉ាក​សំខាន់​អ្នក​ ហើយ​ឲ្យពួក​គេ​ដឹង​ថា​ពួក​មាន​ន័យ​ប៉ុន្មាន​ចំពោះ​អ្នក។
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ShareACoke with Your Classmates

How cool is that? A Coke specially designed for those to present and dedicate to their friends and classmates! Share with the ones who make schools fun.

អីក៏ឡូយ​យ៉ាង​នេះ!!​ កំប៉ុង​កូកា​សំរាប់​ពួក​ម៉ាក! ចែក​រំលែករំលែក​​កំប៉ុង​ពិសេស​នេះ​​ ជាមួយ​នឹង​មិត្ត​រួម​សាលាអ្នក​ទៅ​! ជាមួយនឹងមនុស្សដែលធ្វើអោយសាលារៀនពោរពេញទៅដោយភាពសប្បាយរីករាយ!

‪#‎ShareACoke‬ Coca-Cola Coca-Cola Company

Longdy_14 May

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Happy Mother’s Day!

How often do we get to make our Mom feel special? Now you can just by giving her the ‘Mom’ Coke can to make her happy on Mother’s Day :)))

តើអ្នកអាចធ្វើឲ្យម៉ាក់របស់អ្នកមានអារម្មណ៌ពិសេសញឹកញាប់ប៉ុនណ្ណា? ឥលូវអ្នកអាចធ្វើបាន ដោយគ្រាន់តែជូនកំប៉ុងកូកាមានអក្សរ “អ្នកម៉ាក់” ដើម្បីអបអរទិវាមាតាថ្ងៃនេះ!! ‪#‎ShareACoke‬ Coca-Cola Coca-Cola Company


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The Joy of Sharing

Last Sunday as I was doing my little grocery and I came across something very familiar; the hypermart seemed rather red and a bunch of customers were gathering around a big pile of boxes of one of all-time favorite red-canned drinks – Coca-Cola.

As i went closer to peek, I realized it was the Share-A-Coke campaign – the same campaign that I just saw my friends posted about on Facebook the other day, which has recently took Cambodia markets by storm. The Cambodia Beverage Company introduced Coca Cola cans customized in Khmer in Cambodia; people just got thrown into the vibe  of sharing, giving, and receiving – of the campaigns with local names and customization typical of Cambodians and their lifestyle. Words that we all can relate to – like ឪពុក​ (father), ម្តាយ (mother), ប្អូនស្រី (sister), etc. are clearly visible on each Coca Cola can, available at local store across the country.

What a cool thing to do – thinking of someone to share our love with, with a special can of Coke!

Today, I’m sharing and sending my love all the way to Cambodia, to my beloved people – my sister and my​ grandmom. I hope they enjoyed the cold fizzling drink amidst the hot Cambodian summer, as much as they felt the miss I’ve sent along with the Cokes.


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