Saturday, 6 June 2015

Fujian Trip (Part 2) - A Pleasant Encounter with Mr. K in the Air

This post continues from previous post (Part 1)... 

Met Mr. K

It was a 4-5 hours flight journey back from Fuzhou to Singapore. On the plane, a smart old man was seated beside me. Let's call him Mr. K in his late 60s age from what I was told. His age though, is very much concealed by his radiant skin, healthy physique and energetic character!

Apparently both Mr. K and my "wavelengths" are within same bandwidth, therefore, soon after, a four-hour conversation transpired between us. Mr. K began telling that he started a factory in Fujian to produce herbal medicines. These medicines include Lingzhi and various other types of medicinal oils. There is also a protected area in Fujian called Wu Yi Shan where very good air quality exists. This is the place where he can cultivate his herbal medicines to the highest quality. Research is also done in collaboration with Xiamen University. 

Mr. K is so enthusiastic when he talks about how his herbal medicine is able to help his relatives and friends who suffered from liver, heart and other medical problems. All these good deeds are not without price tags and sacrifices. Mr. K told me he spent many years of research on herbal medicine and even had patents in US university during his stint there specifically for this research. Money wise, he had already spent more than 6million already.  

Passion for Herbal Medicine 

Mr. K is a hotelier for his entire career but become passionate in herbal medicine because he believes it can cure many illnesses that western medicines have no solutions for. Moreover herbal medicine has lesser side effects and can also reduce the need of operation that resorted in "cut here cut there" in human body.  

Lingzhi is one kind of herbal medicine that Mr. K started growing in the 90s. This is after some Lama friends educated him about the benefits of Lingzhi and how to plant/grow it. I was told the most obvious benefits of Lingzhi is to detox your blood. 

"Once your blood is cleaned, naturally our body will be healthy over time." Mr. K said. 

Mr. K's passion was triggered when he encountered a very sick lady in a hospital. She was a complete stranger. When Mr. K saw that she was so depressed with her illness, he offered her a bottle of herbal medicine. The lady told Mr. K that even though she had no idea if the medicine will help, she felt so touched that words cannot describe. This incident sparked Mr. K's strong desire to help people. From then onwards, he started extensive research/reading into all kinds of medicines to save lives, not just Chinese herbal medicines but also western medicines. 

Wealthy Comes From Integrity 

As our conversation deepened, I heard that Mr. K is from one of richest and most influential families in South East Asia. His family owns conglomerate business that span across the world. The wealth their family had, never become the culprits of many spoilt children. From a young age, Mr. K was taught to stay honest and uphold integrity by his father and uncle. Do not ever cheat people! Furthermore, no matter how profitable a business is, their family will never get associated with businesses related to:

1) Gambling 2) Woman 3) Drugs and 4) Arms

Be Down To Earth But Knows When to Fight Back! 

Mr. K had worked in almost every departments of the hotel and learnt the hard way from bottom up. No special privilege even if it's family business! The same applies to all the rest of the family members. 

I was also told that during his undergraduate days in UK, he had to work part time to support his expenses. The weekly salary was 10 pounds. Even with such low salary, the restaurant Owner will cheat and refuse to pay the students who finished their work. Reasons cited "Business is bad!" ,even when business was obviously rosy. 

With a smile, he mentioned the only way to handle this kind of lowly despicable cheat is to let him has a taste of his own medicine. All the students who mostly came from extremely rich family back home, then collaborated, threw their "work apron" on the floor and said "I quit". Yes... on the same day, leaving the restaurant with no more helpers! 

Failure is Enlightenment

During the 1997 crisis, Mr. K lost lots of money and was 40 million in debt. He was so poor that he could not afford to buy air tickets for his daughter's graduation overseas. Even the wedding of her daughter has to be limited to few tables of invitation. It is uncommon for his family background. 

Although his family members are rich and wanted to help him with the debts, he declined. Mr. K says there is no difference being indebted to his family members or others. Mr. K believed that that was Karma debts that he owed in his last life and he needs to clear it himself. This is the only way before he can be truly freed. 

Mr. K said "The day I repays my karma debts is the day I can do what I really want and accelerate 180 miles per hour and never look back!" 


While many will be so brooded by the repayment of debts, Mr K did more charitable work instead. He realized that his debt problem is a wake up call for him to start contributing to the society. Therefore, for every 10k earned, he will donate 5k to charity. At one time he donated so much money to charity that all his friends started to ponder that he must be extremely rich. On the contrary, Mr. K showed the friend his bankbook which was still 18 millions of net liabilities. His friends could not believe it! Today Mr. K had cleared his debt. 

The joy derived from charity, matters more than anything! 

Continuous Learning - 活到老学到老

Our late PM LKY always advise "Continuous Learning - 活到老学到老!" Great minds think alike. Mr K. illustrates with 2 examples to reinforce this importance. 

Example 1 
Mr K is english educated and speaks very little mandarin. 20-30 years ago he was assigned to China to start new hotel. So every time he speaks mandarin, there will be this Chinese manager who will laugh and joke about his funny accent or wrong usage of words. 

Mr. K was not angry at all, but instead use this as an impetus to improve his mandarin, by attending class and study hard. 

15 years later he returned to China in that particular hotel and see the same manager. This time he already speaks relatively sound mandarin but the manager still cannot speak a single sentence of english properly! The manager never learn after 15 years! 

Example 2 
In the Singapore hotel where Mr. K worked for in early 1970s, there were his purchasing director and manager. Let's call them Lee and Wong. 

Manager Wong was in charge of beverage and after working many years in the company. Then there was an opportunity to transfer him to Beijing, and also promote him to Purchasing Director. Wong accepted offer. Several months later, Mr. K visited the Beijing hotel. The hotel GM asked why did Mr. K assign him a purchasing director knows so little about his job. 

Mr. K was shocked because Manager Wong had spent tens of years in Singapore hotel as purchasing manager performing his job well. Mr. K wondered, why Wong is not up to his current role. He then found out that,

Manager Wong is only good in what he does best which is in Beverage! Wong never pick up any other skills outside his work scope despite his 15 years in the company. 

If You are Shiny, You will still be shiny in Mangrove swamps 

From the above incidents, Mr. K believed that once you are learned, the knowledge is within you and no one can take that away from you. It will be no time, that soon your talent will be discover and you will "glow" even if you have to go through hardships in the short-term. 

He said "A snake with shiny skin going through mangrove swam is still a shiny snake. "

Willpower to Protect Health

Since Mr. K is very health conscious, he discussed about the harm smoking and drinking brings. 
I told him I used to be a smoker for close to 20 years but I quit. He is happy for me. But when I say I still occasionally smoke because of the request of clients, he was not impressed at all. 

“You need to possess the WILLPOWER to say NO when it comes to protecting our own health. Our life is more important than work!"

Should I quit and follow my passion now? 

I describe to Mr. K that what if I already found something I really wanted to do, but yet not ready to resign my Day job that I do not detest, "When is the right time to quit my job and pursue what I love?"

His advice: 

"Everything happens for a reason. Do not rush into it. Maybe your time has yet to come. Be patient and continue striving. When the time comes, your gut will somehow tells you it is the right time!" 

He further advised, "Learn how to earn. Then earn to finance what you are truly want to do in your next phase of life journey." 

Rolf's Thoughts 

It was a very pleasant encounter with Mr. K. 

As I am a "sick chicken", Mr. K's topic of health and medicine interest me, more than his status coming from a rich family. The best take away is to listen to the many valuable life experiences and lessons of Mr. K.

More importantly, to learn from it! 


  1. Sillyinvestor,

    I see you have met up with a member of the Kuok family ;)

    It sort of gives a different perspective on our lives doesn't it?

    Family upbringing cannot be measured by degrees, medals, or $. But when we have hit rock bottom, this is where it shines from within.

    1. Hahaha ... Identity Crsis!

      Yes, different perspectives and very inspiring!

      I did not mention Kuok Family...

    2. Life is like that. Some people just owe a few thousands tio made bankrupt. :-(

    3. Ha ha!


      You know what? I was going to write to Sillyinvestor about his blog got "hantu"... Where did his post on meeting Mr K went to???

      It's quite clear I've "lost it" a bit this week.

      This is the consequence of not being in the "present"...

      The volatility in the forex market recently due to the spikes in US Treasuries and German Bunds have got my attention even sub-consciously...

      Made a mess of my Chinese post and now this!?

      Lucky I not a surgeon or dentist. If I continue like this, I'll sure pull out the wrong body part or teeth!


      I better heed the warning signs. Must reduce my risks down to my ability to function "normally".

      No, you didn't mention Kuok. It's either a Khoo or a Kuok as my spontaneous guess. Decided on Kuok as they are quite active in China ;)

    4. Hi SMOL,

      These things happen. On a positive note, u only make 2 small unimportant mistakes! No life and death! Already forgotten!

      But if you are a dentist or surgeon, I will give it a pass. So better stay as a SMOL trader!

      Kuok or Khoo, it matters little. What's more impt is what I learnt from this pleasant encounter. The ability to share it here makes me even more joyful.

    5. Hi CW,

      Few K tio bankrupt is not good. But if u r millions rich, tio bankrupt also no good leh.

      Few k debts and few millions debt.

      So there is some degree of similarity if few k or few millions bankrupt, although the magnitude is diff.

  2. Very inspiring
    Happy with your fortunate encounter

    1. Hi Jimmy,

      Thanks and that is why I feel the need to share with readers.

  3. Hi Rolf,

    Thanks for sharing! I think I learnt a lot from this too :)