Thursday, 31 December 2015

Thailand Hua Hin Trip - Family Vacation

It’s home sweet home today after an 8D7N free and easy Christmas vacation trip in Thailand Hua Hin and Bangkok. It is a family trip and we certainly make lots of noise since we have more than 20 of us, comprising of my mum, me and my siblings' families, as well as some friends. While the bright and sunny weather definitely lifted our moods during the trip, it sometimes can be scorching hot too! Despite the heat, overall it was a fabulous trip. Most importantly, my mum is elated to see all her children and grand children spending quality time together in our very first big family trip together.  

Day 1

My little gal first time taking aeroplane.

Our resort @Dhevan Nara - A bit old, location is far, but very cheap ($120/night incl. breakfast). And yes, we booked late and this is during the festive period. 

My sis has a much nicer villa with swimming pool. More pricey, of course! 

Our first night dinner @Koti restaurant at Hua Hin Night Market. Good and cheap food, but fully packed.

Hua Hin Night Market 

Day 2

Santorini Park in "Greece"

Our children playing.

Camel Republic - just like a mini Zoo.

 Swiss Sheep Farm - Awesome!

PlearnWan Shopping Area

Lobster, Yummy!

Eat finish, shop! 

Day 3

Safari Adventure Park - Nice scenery, tiger, elephant, crocodile, snake shows, ATV etc.

Tiger Show

"Liger" (Lion breed Tiger)

The wise owl

Elephant show

Can you shoot 3 pointer-basketball better than an elephant? 

Market Village - coffee, shop, arcade, foot massage, dinner....

Day 4

Vana Nava Water Jungle - Superbly fun, I absolutely love it!

Day 5

Vineyard - stunning scenery

Sam Pan Nam Floating Market

After going to gym, I played table tennis with staffs in my resort. 

Day 6

Fantastic view from Hilton Hotel Hua Hin

Early dinner at "highly rated" Sawasdee restaurant - Just me and wife tonight... Yes!

Next up, coffee and ice cream along the beach. Shiok!

Shopping and then foot massage at Naresdamri. 

Last night at Hua Hin before we proceed to Bangkok the next morning. 

Day 7

One night in Bangkok

Day 8

My gal bidding farewell to Thailand. 

I will end with photos of all my favourite coffee shots during the trip! 

Happy New Year 2016!

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Will Oil Price crash to $20 or rebound to $70 in 2016?

Brent crude breaks below $36 a barrel in 11-year low.

$20 a barrel in 2016?

Goldman Sachs predicted that a glut of oil supply will keep oil price low for the next 15 years and possibility of testing the bottom at $20 a barrel. Goldman’s long-term forecast for crude is at $50 a barrel.

$70 a barrel in 2016? 

Counter-intuitively, Energy mogul 87-year-old billionaire T. Boone Pickens said few months ago that oil will be back into the $70 range by the end of the year.

"We thought we had seen the bottom and we didn't, and the reason why I think I missed is because the decline in production when the rigs shut down was not as severe as I thought it would be," Pickens said on a bloomberg program. "Yes, we're coming down, and in another six months we will be down at least another half-million barrels."

Although Pickens prediction is incorrect having seen oil dip further down now, he added that his estimate is going to be only 6 months off based on his interview in Nov this year.

He believed that supply will go down soonest and drive prices back up again.

The most recent is early this month when Pickens was in a TV program with Carl Icahn. Both think oil will go up. Icahn is more prudent and does not want to put a time on it. Pickens is bold to predict oil price will rebound to $70 within six-month time.

What do you think and what will you do?

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Saturday, 19 December 2015

Precisely the wrong time for an interest hike! Market is manipulated by a bunch of clowns! What should you do? - Marc Faber

Marc Faber, the Swiss investor based in Thailand and the publisher of gloom boom doom report said the above. 

As from wiki, Faber is credited for advising his clients to get out of the stock market before the October 1987 crash. Faber predicted the rise of oil, precious metals, other commodities, emerging markets, and especially China in his book Tomorrow's Gold: Asia's Age of Discovery. He also correctly predicted the slide of the U.S. dollar since 2002. In 2012, Faber claimed that there was a "100% chance" of a global economic recession later that year or in early 2013. 

Faber also said that the market is likely to crash in 2016/2017 period. 

Precisely the wrong time for Fed to hike

Few days ago, Faber was interviewed by CNBC and he said Fed rate hike is not so important compared to the global economy now. The fact is global economy is decelerating and many countries is in recession or going into recession.

He felt that after QE3 in 2012, the economy is growing rapidly and it presents good time to hike and not compare to now. In theory if they raise rates now, it is precisely the wrong time. Refer to link here.

In an interview last month, Faber also said the market of today is manipulated by a bunch of clowns in central banks around the world. Refer video below. 

So what we should do according to him?

You have to be diversified now!

“Hold some real estates, some equities, some bonds and cash, and some precious metals.”

And even if you hold gold, you must hold the physical gold outside US or Europe, and preferably keep in the East.

Friday, 18 December 2015

Matrix Revolution – Seeking Enlightenment! (Part 3 - Final)

This post continues from the previous two posts and is the final series of Rolf’s version of Matrix Trilogy. Are we living in a Matrix? (Part 1) and Finding the source of the Matrix - The true purpose of life (Part 2)

True purpose of life - People

To rebel against the machine, Neo needs to find the “source” - the true purpose of life. The true purpose of life has a strong correlation to the “power of love” and the “need for a good cause”. More importantly, it should always associate to “People”. Specifically, helping and not harming people around us. 

Dr Richard Teo
Thanks to CW8888 blog’s earlier, this view of true purpose of life was reverberated by the late Dr Richard Teo’s philosophy just before he died at the young age of 40 from lung cancer. Refer to Dr Teo’s blog here

"True joy I discovered comes from interaction. Over the last few months I was so down. Interaction with my loved ones, my friends, my brothers in Christ, my sisters in Christ, and only then was I able to be motivated, able to be uplifted. To share your sorrow, to share your happiness – that’s true joy.
And you know what makes you smile? True joy comes from helping others in hardship, and because I’ve gone through this, I know what hardship entails. In fact, there’re some cancer patients who tell me a lot of times, people come up to them and tell them, “Stay positive. Stay positive.” Yah, right. You come in my shoes and you try to stay positive! You don’t know what you’re talking about!" 
“Everyone knows that they are going to die; every one of us knows that. The truth is, none of us believe it because if we did, we will do things differently.” – Dr Richard Teo.

The cause and effect 因果” of Matrix

For every cause there is an effect. In mandarin, we called it “因果” which is also a Buddhist concept of Karma. I had earlier also written a post on “Everything happens for a reason”. Refer link hereIn fact this philosophy was incited when LP commented on my Matrix part 2 article. He quoted:

how do you know what Adolf Hitler is thinking? Actually if he didn't do what he did, all the Jews around the world won't get to go back to their homeland and have a country of their own (Israel). Everything is linked and everything is connected. Someone got to be evil then good will flourish. If you see things over the years and trace the roots of their origins, then nothing is really evil or good.”

Furthermore if there is no Hitler, there will probably be no World War II. Then the Americans may never recover from the Great Depression or the Europeans and Japanese will probably not learn from the sufferings of war, to be successful over the next fifty years after the war. Some also believe that natural disaster is an act of god to create balance? In one of New York best sellers “The nine Harbingers” book, author and Rabbi Jonathan Cahn attributed the 911 twin towers attacks as a consequence of “The Breach” from the covenant United States has made with God at the time of its foundation.

Consider the Architect, the creator of Matrix who invented a system that is far from perfect, which may eventually lead to system crash. To salvage the situation, Neo was created for reason to reboot the Matrix if it crashes! Neo was created to save the Matrix and ironically he is the reason of the revolution. 

Help ourselves first

In order to help people around us, I think it is imperative to "help ourselves first”. Once we become capable, we will then be able to help people around us, for them to extend their help to others.

This analogy is the same on a plane during emergency. We are always told to first help ourselves with the oxygen mask before helping the children or people around us. Likewise for parenting. If the parents themselves do not have the knowledge or right values, how can they inculcate their kids properly?  

For most times, the drive for success starts for selfish reasons of personal success, but eventually it can turn out to be good to help people. For instance in the beginning, you start a business with the main motivation of getting rich and the strong desire of not working for anyone else. That is nothing wrong. Essentially you will be doing lots of good, by helping first yourself (by being rich) and then people around you via jobs creations, and even better to help the needy via charity. 

In fact the theory of acting first for our self-interest then others is made famous by Adam Smith, label as the Father of Modern Economics (1723 to 1790).  In Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations book he asks 'what can a person do that is best for his country?' Smith decides that if every person does what is best for himself and his little circle of family and friends, then the country will do better. This is because every person knows a lot about his own situation (what he needs, what he wants, what works and what does not work), much more than the government knows. This sort of thinking is called "liberal theory", a main part of liberalism.

"It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self-interest. We address ourselves not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities, but of their advantages"

"Individual Ambition Serves the Common Good."

Adam Smith

Tougher than all obstacles 

It will not be an easy feat to get out of the Matrix if you are not the selected one. Even if you are the selected one, you will meet with many obstacles and distractions to defeat you. Just like in the movie, Neo and Trinity fighting against Agent Smiths! 

Sometimes, at certain point in life, you seem to be heading out of the matrix, but only to be gravitated right back into the system. For example after you attended an inspiring course, or read an inspiring book, there is a blaze of fire deep within to pursue your true purpose of life, only for the flames of motivation to die out days or weeks later. Or perhaps the pursuit of true happiness is blocked by a series of tough challenges that you eventually bow out to it and give up.  

Agent Smith after being defeated in the first series of the “The Matrix”, refused to be deleted, and is now a rogue program in “Matrix Reloaded”. Agent Smith is stronger now and is able to clone himself using humans in the Matrix as host. Smith even has plans to conquer both the Matrix and the real world. 

To defeat the agents, you need to be tougher and more skilful than them. It requires focus in your TRUE purpose of life! Together with discipline, hard work and perseverance, you should eventually be able to defeat agent Smith!  

Ultimately, the biggest enemy is not Agent Smith, it could well be YOURSELF! 

Nothing wrong to be successful and wealthy

It can be common belief to some, that living a simple life with little wealth is true happiness. Yes it can be, but it’s also not always true in today’s society. The absence of wealth can very well be the cause of many cases of family unhappiness. This I can vouch from my own experiences when I was young.

There is nothing wrong to be successful and wealthy!

While money can be the root of all evil, when deploy correctly, it can be one of the greatest means to help those in need. Just look at the world's wealthiest people devoting their wealth and time in philanthropy. For e.g. Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Mark Zuckerberg, George Soros, Ray Dalio, Carl Icahn, Michael Bloomberg, Elon Musk, Jack Ma, Li Ka-Shing etc. Many wealthy people have already committed to The Giving Pledge, which is a commitment to dedicate majority of their wealth to philanthropy.

Purpose in life and money are often inter-connected. Find the purpose of life to create something that can help mankind, you become rich one way or another. That said, once you have all the money in the world, it is advocated to stop continuing to want more. It’s time to give back!

Next mission of life

Once you are financially freed to a great extent, perhaps it’s time to chase after non-wealth, or non-material related mission. Most truly enlightened successful people after retirement from the business world will start on their next endeavour. It is the mission of improving the lives of the people around them. Just look at Bill and Melinda Gates devoting not just their wealth on charity, but their time! Look also how Singapore’s founding PM Lee Kuan Yew chose to step down in 1990 when he is still able and energetic, handing the baton to the next generation, while he stepped back to play a mentoring role. My ex-boss who after selling his business for more than a hundred million, is now very devoted to serving god to help people around him. While he still spend time in his new found business in Hotel ownership, most of the time and energy is devoted to helping people around him.

On the contrary, I seen/heard so many real life businessmen, after selling their businesses to be filthy rich, dive straight back into the same business world again. It is perfectly fine to create another business which essentially means helping the economy with more jobs. But while money is no longer an issue, the motivation is now the desire to satisfy personal glory/ego yet again! And people in this group will continue to devote all their time and energy to satisfy their thirst of "success"!. The question is “When is it going to end?”  

The Finale

Perhaps it is the unawareness of the Matrix? Or perhaps it is the choice of staying in the Matrix? Afterall why not stay in the Matrix, if life is good?

To Neo, it is about love. It is about the desire to defeat Agent Smith and to use him to exchange for PEACE of Zion with the Sentient Machines. It means to the extent of giving up his life!

“Mr. Anderson welcomes back……”



This means… 

"Finding the true purpose in my life"!

To be associated with…

"Helping myself then the people around me". 

Ideally, this purpose should be carried out…

“Without neglecting the time spend with loved ones around me", 

And also to possess tremendous knowledge, hard work and determination to…

"Overcome all the obstacles facing us"

Finally, with exceptional physical (health) and mental strength…

"Decipher the codes of the matrix and defeat Smith!" 

And more importantly…

“Defeat the enemy within you!”

You have a choice – To be within the Matrix or to be unplugged?

Peace between the machines and the people?

“I do not know, but I believe… I believe!”

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Bridge of Spies - Worry? Would it help? Standing Man!

I always wanted to watch the Movie “Bridge of Spies”. After all it is Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks – two of the greatest directors and actors of all time!

While I missed the cinema screening, I managed to catch the movie on the plane during one of my traveling trips this month.

Given the 59 year old Tom Hanks acting skills, it does not matter if the movie plot is slow-paced or even “boring”. It is how Hanks mesmerizes and bring my emotions straight into his movie. 

From the classic Forest Gump (1994), Saving Private Ryan (1998), Cast Away (2000), Captain Philips (2013) to Bridge of Spies (2015), I was always touched deep down!

Bridge of Spies

This time it was no different. “Bridge of Spies”, a 140-minute long movie based on true story set in the cold war period of 1960. Hanks cast as a lawyer trying to negotiate for the release of two Americans in exchange for a Russian spy.

A movie with lots of talking and self-reflections, yet relatively little action!  Maybe my wife may have fallen asleep from the boredom? But not me, who enjoys History and was even touched to tears on few occasions.

I will not go through the details of movie here. While I was enchanted by many scenes, I will like to recall two particular scenes, depicting the conversations between Hanks (Lawyer James Donovan) and Mark Rylance (Russian spy - Colonel Rudolf Abel).

Stranding Man

Abel recounts to Donovan about his father’s friend who was beaten repeatedly by border guards.

“Every time they hit him, he stood back up again…They hit him harder…still he got back to his feet.”  Abel says.

Asked Donovan, “And I remind you of him?”

Abel replies, simply, “Standing man.”

source: youtube, Bridge of Spies Trailer

You not worry? Would it help?

Donovan and Abel were at the Bridge for the prisoners’ exchange. Donovan asked Abel what will happen after he is back to Russia.

Abel says “I acted honorary and I think they know that. But sometimes people think wrong. People are people. Let’s see how they greet me. If I am embrace or just shown the back seat?”

Donovan asked “You not worry?”

Abel replied “Would it help?”

Steven Spielberg’s conversation with his father

In fact this movie is a reflection of Steven Spielberg’s memory when his father, Arnold, an engineer with General Electric visited Soviet Union as part of the peace program trip. At that time, the young Spielberg fear and hated the Russian, but his father reassured him.

 “I saw Communist Russia as the enemy, and my father saw Communist Russia as human beings, who were just as scared of us as we were of them — that’s what my father always said.” - Steven Spielberg

Friday, 11 December 2015

Finding the source of the Matrix - The true purpose of life (Part 2)

This post continues from previous post. Earlier, I concluded that for me, the longer term purpose in life is certainly more important than achieving the "matrix-rigged" short term targets. Yet, having the longer term purpose in life is not sufficient also. For me, it is imperative to EVENTUALLY find the TRUE purpose of life. This is similar to Neo finding the “Source of the Matrix” to meet the Architect – creator of Matrix. And, ultimately to resolve the conflict between the machines and humans.

 Theatre release poster

Just like Neo, Morpheus and Trinity’s mission is to save mankind, the true purpose of life should be associated to helping or improving lives of yourself and the people around you.

More than just a focused purpose of life 

Apparently most "successful" people are very focus in their purpose in life. Nonetheless and contrary to common belief, even those who are extremely successful and focus in their purpose in life has NOT necessary find "enlightenment" and get out of the Matrix! Or in many cases, people will choose not to be unplugged from the Matrix, if they are wealthy and powerful. Why do you want to free from the Matrix if life is so good in the system?  

Success is not equal to enlightenment? 
Nothing better epitomize the statement “success is not necessary enlightenment” than Steve Jobs’ life story.

Undeniably, Steve Jobs is one of the most successful businessmen of recent times. Mr. Jobs changed the world with his innovative multi-media hand-held device. Yet, after reading Jobs biography book few years ago, and later his passing away, I reckon that he left this world with regrets. That is the regret of not having to spend sufficient time with his loved ones.

There are rumours reflected from facebook recently about Steve Jobs’ last words. The unverified article reveals that Steve Jobs said in his sick bed that he had reached the pinnacle of success and yet he has little joy and perhaps he should have pursue matters unrelated to wealth such as relationships, art, or a dream from younger days. The article then mentioned that the most expensive bed is sick bed with no health. It was also written that he promoted the importance of treasuring your love ones - your family, your spouse, and your friends. More importantly, treats yourself well and cherish others.

With regards to whether the article is authenticated or not, it is not at all important as far as I am concern. More significantly, we should ask if the article makes any sense!. Apparently, below is the verified version from Walter Isaacson who written Steve Jobs’ biography. Guess it signalled the same sentiment of Jobs’ regret in life.

"I wanted my kids to know me," Mr Isaacson recalled Mr Jobs saying, in a posthumous tribute the biographer wrote for Time magazine. "I wasn't always there for them, and I wanted them to know why and to understand what I did."

"He was very human. He was so much more of a real person than most people know. That's what made him so great," he added. "Steve made choices. I asked him if he was glad that he had kids, and he said, 'It's 10,000 times better than anything I've ever done'."

It wasn't always thus. In the early stages of his career, Jobs, who was adopted, denied being the father of Lisa and insisted in court documents that he was "sterile and infertile". He acknowledged paternity when she was six, and they were later reconciled.

Warren Buffett’s greatest regret
What is Warren Buffett’s greatest regret? Not investing in Google or Microsoft?


As I recalled after finished reading “Warren Buffett’s biography – The Snowball” book authored by Alice Schroeder, Mr. Buffett in his earlier years of career spent so much time in work that he neglected his first wife Susan Thompson. They were eventually divorced. Warren Buffett’s life hit the bottom when his ex-wife Susan suffered from cancer before passing away. Warren Buffett is so grief-stricken that he did not even attend Susan's funeral.  Later Buffett admitted that he didn't work harder on his relationship with his late wife, Susie, the mother of his three children. He said this:

"The biggest mistake I ever made was letting her walk out the door" – Warren Buffett

 Buffett tells Schroeder that Susie's departure "was preventable.”

“It was definitely 95% my fault. ... I just wasn't attuned enough to her, and she'd always been perfectly attuned to me. She kept me together for a lot of years ... It shouldn't have happened."

The power of love

Neo reached the source and met the Architect. The Architect explained to Neo that after several failed versions of the Matrix, he added the “power of human choice” to the programming. This version worked but approximately 1% of the humans can reject the Matrix and get out of it. Later the Architect discovered that due to the concept of choice, the Matrix will eventually suffer a fatal crash, which is why he created the sixth iteration of Neo “The One” who can reboot the Matrix. If the system crash, Neo can choose to 1) return to the source to reboot the Matrix and pick few survivors to get out of the Matrix to repopulate Zion 2) or cause the Matrix to crash and kill everyone connected to it including Zion.

The sixth version of Neo has a main difference compared to his predecessors. That is - Neo’s deepest affection for Trinity! Neo leaves the Architect to save his love, and leaves the future of the Matrix in doubt.

Unlike many successful entrepreneurs who choose to stay in the company as long as they could, Bill Gates, after being so successful in Microsoft choose to leave his formal duties as CEO at the age of 44 in year 2000. That is almost at the peak of his career! Gates last full-time day at Microsoft was in 2008 and he eventually stepped down as Chairman in Feb 2014. Why? Bill and his wife Melinda Gates' priority today is on charitable work to help the needy in which they set up a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000. This is the true mission of life for them to help people in the world, after they had helped themselves to be the richest in the planet. 

Mark Zuckerberg’s purpose is to connect people all over the world. Looking at what he and his wife has done for charity after donating 99% of their wealth lately, and being totally enthralled by the birth of their baby girl, it seems like they had long before look at the Matrix from “outside in”. Just for information, it was not all smooth for the Zuckerbergs. Mark’s wife Priscilla Chan latest pregnancy was followed by three earlier miscarriages.

"It's a lonely experience. Most people don't discuss miscarriages because you worry your problems will distance you or reflect upon you. So you struggle on your own. We hope that sharing our experience will give more people the same hope we felt and will help more people feel comfortable sharing their stories.” - Mark Zuckerberg

Lee Kwan Yew true purpose as I believe is to ensure Singaporeans have a better life and I am pretty sure he did it and die without regrets. 

For all of them, one key reason to back their enlightenment is attributed to the Power of Love - the woman behind them. It can be so important for the women of your life to be you closest friends/ confidantes/ soul mates/ and wives! It is also noteworthy to know that the wives of three of the most “enlightened” successful men around, use to be the top brains in their classes! 

The power that can be harnessed and exuded from husband-wife combination is enormous! Not to be mistaken, it need not always to be your spouse, as long as they are your loved ones. It can be parents, kids, siblings or even very close friends. As long as it is the POWER OF LOVE!

The need for a good cause 

Adolf Hitler is desired for Germany to become the most powerful nation in the world. In my opinion, he was never enlightened albeit being very focused in his purpose of life. Why? Hitler's failure is attributed to his purpose of being associated to harming, rather than helping people! Hitler’s choice is to betray mankind to the Agents so as to enjoy enormous wealth and power within the system. Ultimately, he is doomed to fail because:

Evil will never triumph over good!

On the other hand, Mahatma Ghandi purpose in life is to create better lives for others through non-violent and peaceful ways. And he will be forever remembered in great respect even after decades or even centuries.  

To be continued…

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