Monday, August 10, 2015

Isaiah 40:27-31

Why do you complain, Jacob?
    Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord;
    my cause is disregarded by my God”?
28 Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

'Buying' Time

Today was an encounter with a repeated customer. Normally I don't deal with small deals as I always feel it is not worth the effort hence I quoted a premium price. He agreed initially and again he requested for the same amount with the same price.

Knowing that it will be routine encounter, I set off my journey to reach at the agreed time and destination. However, I received a message on our agreed time that he will be late, 15 to 20 minutes late. I took it lightly as I was engrossed with my phone and did not have much planned today.

He arrived 20 minutes later in a taxi from his work place. Immediately when he came out of the cab, he offered to buy me a drink but I refused as I felt it was unnecessary. Very quickly, he took out the agreed amount and passed it to me and quickly head off.

It was a natural instinct for me to put the money into my wallet when I did notice something. He had paid me an extra 33% on top of our agreed price. Very quickly I ran towards him to return him the extra amount but he was so insistent of me keeping it as he had 'wasted' my time waiting for him. I tried my best to return the 'surcharge' but he just smiled and ran away into the mrt station.

It's quite crazy and I'm still thinking about it till now. You've taught me a valuable lesson today!  

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Bus from Bali to Central Java

Previously I blogged about transportation in Bali which can be found here.

If you want to head to Java from Bali, the best way to go from Ubung bus Terminal which is located outside the Kuta and Seminyak. For us, we hired a driver from Ubud to Ubung bus terminal for 200k rupiah.

There are actually two bus terminals in Bali, Ubung Terminal and Mengwi.  Most of the locals only talked about the Ubung terminal. I googled up the Mengwi Terminal and I'm thankful that we didn't choose to go there. Here is why and why .

Ubung Terminal. Don't expect much, just a shelter to rest. No ticket counters present. 

Our initial plan was to catch a 9am bus from Ubung Terminal to Probolinggo (10 hour bus ride) but we only found out that there are actually no specific timings for buses leaving Ubung Terminal. The officers at the counter were not helpful and we were skeptical ourselves hence we asked the local people around the terminal before committing to the ticket.

It costed us 175k rupiah each , including the ferry ride and a crappy meal at some roadside restaurant in Situbondo town. Our bus final destination was actually Surabaya but the buses here will wait for the bus to be filled up with people going to other destinations along the way. We waited for 2 hours, 11am, before departing to Probolinggo.

While waiting for our bus to depart, I took the opportunity to talk to the other passengers. We were relieved that a few other people were also heading to Probolinggo town and they mentioned that this was the only way to get to Java island.

Some tips/things to note :

  • Bus ticket fares are fixed. Do make sure to ask them to show you the ticket cost price instead of them quoting you. We were shown 175k rupiah by one of the vendors but after walking around to source for information, another lady from the same vendor told us the ticket price is 200k rupiah. Spotted the discrepancy and asked why is there a difference. 
  • No toilet breaks. However, you can use the toilets at the Ketapang ferry.  The bus will take the ferry across, reducing the hassle of buying separate ferry tickets. You can buy food on the ferry as well. 
  • People are helpful! Guess all the other passengers were equally lost as us on the bus ride and we got tips for our Bromo Trip from a good samaritan. He even asked the bus driver to stop us directly in front of our hotel. 
  • You can stop at Bayuwangi town to go to Ijen Crater. A number of passengers on our bus did that
  • Ubung - Gilimanuk (Ketapang Ferry) - 3 hours
  • Ferry ride across to Java - 1 hour
  • Bayuwangi to Probolinggo town ( Mt Bromo) - 6 hours
  • Probolinggo to Surabaya (Final Destination) - 2.5 hours
I'll continue to write about travelling up to Mt Bromo later! 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Transportation in Bali.

Just got back from Bali and would like to blog about how to get around Bali.

Airport to City Center (Kuta/Seminyak)
The Bali International Airport is called Ngurah Rai International Airport (Denpasar). The moment we arrived at the airport, we were quickly greeted by eager cab drivers to ferry us to our hotel. The first cab driver quoted us 300k rupiah to bring us to our hotel at Seminyak. After fishing for the best deal, we paid 100k rupiah for a 15 minute ride which was quite pricey.

Our 'cab driver' flashed us an unofficial taxi license which we initially believed but I soon realized he wasn't an official cab driver because he called his friend during our trip to ask for directions.

This link here are the rates from the airport to any destination in Bali, which I only found out after my trip ;/

Do take note that there are no metered cabs from the airport to city center.

What could you do to save more/better?

  • Ask your hotel if they provide free airport pickups. From my experience, most of them only do free airport shuttles from the hotel to airport, not the other way round. Makes more sense for them in terms of logistics.
  • Walk out of the airport and flag a BlueBird Cab. This will get a metered taxi and potentially save your some extra cash. This was suggested by a BlueBird taxi driver on one of our cab rides. He even told us that we paid a bomb for our taxi ride from the airport to our hotel. Oh well, lesson learnt. 
Took a couple of cabs and majority of Blue Bird drivers are honest and used meters.

Around Bali 
There are many modes of transportation here ranging from walking to renting a private car. This is quite straightforward.
  • Walking.
  • Bus. You can take the Kura-kura around. More details can be found here. Below is the route map as of Dec 2014.
  • Taxi. Do remember to always ask for a metered taxi.
  • Car/ Motorbike
Kuta to Ubud
Majority of people will spend a few nights at Kuta then head to Ubud, vice versa. We hired a driver + tour around Ubud after spending our first few nights at Kuta. It costed 500k rupiah (10 hours), with the driver picking us up at our hotel in Kuta and ending up at our hotel in Ubud. 

A good tip is to use the hotel tour rates (600k rupiah for 6 hours) as a benchmark for your tour prices. Also take note that everyone in Bali is practically a tour guide/driver. So open your mouth and ask around for good deals. 

Their primary vocation are mainly supermarket assistants, taxi drivers, hoteliers and masseurs and their average monthly wage is 1.4 million rupiah. This means that if they work 3 days as a driver, they probably don't have to work for the month and often they are more desperate for your service. 

Hope this helps as I had a hard time consolidating all the info I needed so I figured that I should write a post. Next up, Getting from Bali to Java Island :) 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Shave shave

I'm always a big fan of small changes/tweaks, my previous post can be found here, which always somehow manage to amplify the satisfaction.

Now let me begin my story :)

For the past few shaving encounters, I was struggling to get a good shave with my shaver. This was perhaps that I got quite lazy in my shaving duties resulting in rougher shaving encounters. FYI, I'm not a very hairy person and the best I can grow is just a few long whiskers.

If you are wondering, my old shaver was the cheap disposable with two bladed with a small lubricant strip attached to it. I didn't need those fancy electrical shavers or triple bladed Gillette due to my inability to grow a moustache.
My shaver, Gillette two bladed 

So, I embarked on the adventure to find that perfect shaver. I started of by changing my current shaver more frequently but I didn't work out. I resorted to investing in a low end triple bladed one with extra strip of lubricant to get a more pleasant shave. It turned out that it was better.

Triple bladed

However, it just struck me that if I 'downgraded' back to my two bladed shaver, I would have just gone back to my initial shaving routine which was shaving every 2-3 days instead of being lazier i.e 4-5 days :D

Yohan Blake said this because he was constantly Usain Bolt's shadow

Looks like I found my solution and I'm back to my good shaves again!

Laziness can really cost us more without us realizing that some of us as far better off initially.

Ps: This solution is probably for the 'less hairy' men like myself.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Pulau Ubin

I spent my weekend at Ubin with my kids and some thoughts came to me during my short stay there. At times it felt as if I was suppose to clock in the hours as there was minimal reception aka away from civilization.

1) What we do with time, defines us.
The stay there felt like a mini sabbatical/getaway/torture for all of us. Some felt that it was redundant to carry out certain activities and the duration of it should be shorten so we could have our longer weekends. Some brought their intended work/markings to do but did not have the discipline to see through it. Other decided to spend time bonding with other colleagues. Some took a run around the campsite and to our surprise we found wild rambutan trees,grab a ladder and quickly got their hands dirty with the sweet delights. My decision to follow a new found friend to catch sunrise ended up with a surprise as we spotted ...
Photo: Spotted a family of hornbills at ubin!
wild hornbills! about 12-15 of them were flying tree to tree to steal some eggs from nests. What a sight it was!

2) It's nice to feel young again
Surround yourself with young people is one way to feel young at heart again. I had the privilege to watch their campfire where they will come together to perform skits and cheers to round off the camp. Brings back memories of my scouting days, where we were so shameless to perform in front of our peers.

Photo: Campfire!
Campfire. Regulated campfire :P

3)We never truly know how to appreciate something until we have lost it forever.
Nah, take out the forever part behind. Oh yes I appreciate my sweet bed and infact after the camp, I bought two new pillows to replace my old ones :) What a spoilt kid I am. Good to have some back to basics style nights. My dinner was plain white rice with two miserable pieces of chicken. I'm pretty sure the kids had it better than us for their dinner, they were lavished with tuna and baked beans! but then again, I rather have my 'crappy' dinner than sleeping on the hard floor. hehe

Ps : Kinda ignite my dream retirement homestay :) Maybe i'll blog about it soon.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Taxi Uncle

There's a saying that goes that if you want to know what's happening on the streets, just take a cab and engage small talk with the local cabbies. They will most likely rant out all their frustrated feelings about the government.

Initially I did not want to write about this incident because it was a small matter to me but somehow it stayed with me a while.

It all happened when I flagged down a cab at about 4.45 pm on a working Monday. I have a very close cab driver friend and I knew normally cab driver switch shift at 5pm, hence it is normally very difficult to grab a cab. I knew about the switching of shifts of cabs and I decided to go a little earlier just to avoid the peak hour surcharge. Several cabs actually zoomed passed me with their labels indicating 'change shift' and I thought that I was never going to grab a cab before the peak hour starts (5pm)

Thankfully there was this passenger that stopped where I was about to alight and I quickly asked the uncle if I could hop on. He was hesitant as I knew he was changing shifts but thankfully where I wanted to go was in his direction. So I hopped on and told the uncle I wanted to go to Merlin Mansion which was perpendicular to East Coast Road and Still Road. I asked him if he knew the direction and he clearly said that he know where it was.

However, after a few minutes he started asking me where exactly it was and I showed him on google maps to clarify the location but he kept complaining that he couldn't see as it was too small for him. To cut the long story short, we actually took a huge detour and I ended up guiding him to my intended location which I felt was not my fault because he said he knew where it was.

So as I was about to alight, he charged me the exact amount displayed on the meter and I was a little disappointed because he took me on an unnecessary detour.

I said to him, "Oh how 6.50?"  
Uncle, " Ya, my fault is it if you don't know the place. Not happy is it?"
Me, " Ermm, but"
Uncle, " Not happy ah? want discount is it? 50 cents? You think i'm cheating you?"
Me, " -.- I didn't say that, just wondering only." I paid him the cash and took my stuff from the boot
Uncle, *rambles on and on*

Oh well, I don't know why he felt so touchy when I was hesitant to pay and asked an innocent question.He probably forgot that I was his 'momentum customer' and probably his last ditch of income aka bonus before handing over his shift.

What say you?

Ps: An incident during lunch today where a customer raged at the counter girl triggered the above.

Taxi Taxi!