Sunday, October 28, 2012

Lessons I think I've learned. Maybe.

Here are some lessons I think I've learned but will surely re-learn at some point soon. Maybe you can learn or relate to them. These are put in order by how the came to me initially.

1-Never tell a girl you like her. Other ways exist for a girl to know that you like her. Be happy with your life outside of girls and I promise that it will help.
Example: Learned this lesson a few years ago. Will not be repeated. 

2-Always check over your shoulder or look into your side mirror before opening the car door.You could hit someone or a car.
Example: In Toronto, not paying attention, hit a BMW with a rental car. Not a good situation. However, the guy realized it was an accident, figured (rightfully) that I didn't have any money and gave me a break. One day, I will return that favor to some young punk.

3-Never quit your job until you have another one set up. Quitting jobs you hate is very appealing and rewarding in many ways. However, not having a backup plan or income coming in will eventually be a worse situation. Use your hate for your job to fuel you into finding another job.
Example: Quitting my job in Ottawa in 2009 with a job offer from Japan for sometime in 2010 then going on a trip to Vegas. (which I do not regret)

4-Booking a one way ticket is exhilarating and a life game changer. 
Example: Your life.

5-If you notice something you like about someone or admire something they are doing, tell them. Compliments shouldn't be kept inside.
Example: I loved living with my cousin Debbie. I told her I'd be there for 2 months, left just before my 3 years came up. One day I just told her how much I loved living there, appreciated her help and that she made me a better person and less of a savage.

6-Have some sort of filter between what you think and what you say. Don't be someone who just talks constantly without reflecting and interrupting people. Listen to other people. Think of intelligent things to say. Feelings are usually hurt, unintentionally hurtful jokes are made or things we regret are said more than half the time by not carefully choosing our words.
Example: Almost every joke I made in elementary school by trying to be cool or funny.

7-Just because your boss, someone you admire or someone older tells you do to something, doesn't mean you have to do it. Learn to say no and be able to articulate why you are saying no, especially if you think what you are doing is either morally wrong or illegal.
Example: 4th year internship experience.

8-Be loyal, have your friends and families back and stand up to bullies.
Example: Accepting Matt's offer to be his best man in his wedding and making it a priority no matter what that I would come home for it.

9-Keep your room clean. It makes you feel better, sleep better and you never know who or when someone will come into your room. It in some way reflects on you as a person.
Example: Almost anytime, anyone has ever come to any of my rooms at anytime. Makes you look like a nugget for having a messy room. I'm OK with cleaning it, it's the maintenance that gets me.

10-Be careful what you commit to. Don't jump into saying yes to something that you will ultimately have to back out of. OK to say no but once you give someone your word you need to back it up. Have integrity. Lesson learned from Kirsty Spence, my best and most influential and greatest teacher I've had. (See how we are using what we learned from Lesson 4?)

Example: Offered to help a sports team in 2009 that was a bit out of town while not having a car or much time to work on it other than weekend. Lesson learned. Say no to things.

11-Go to be early. Like 9:30 or 10:00. A tired Bert is not a fun or productive Bert.
Example: Felt like I was always tired last year teaching kindergarten. Realized I was wasting time on the internet or somewhere else till 11, 11 30 12 at night. You probably aren't being productive after 9 pm. Go to bed.

These are my thoughts. Let me know what you think or if you have any lessons you would like to pass on, would like to hear some.
"The only mistake in life is the lesson not learned." Albert Einstein.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Cameron Highlands

After Malacca was the Cameron Highlands. I could have made this trip better and more memorable in retrospect.
Mistake #1: Not entirely my fault, I will admit. I dig sunrises. I think they are beautiful, don't love waking up super early but if I get the chance to watch a breathtaking sunrise, I'll take it. So I ask around about a sunrise tour or something like that. They don't offer one and act like people don't really ask to do this. Which kind of baffles me. This place has tons of tourists, make some cash and offer anything you can that people will buy. I ask around I can pay a thousand baht and take a taxi on my own. What am I a millionaire? I was talking to a girl at my guesthouse and she was certainly not into waking up so my brilliant idea was dead in the water. The only thing I really could have done differently is really hustled and tried to get a group together. Or just sucked it up and paid for it. I'm assuming it looked like this:

Mistake #2: Leaving your shoes on in Thailand is generally not a good idea when going into certain places. Feet=bad. Got it. So I leave my Solomon, basically perfect hiking/trekking shoes outside that my brother bought me. Feel like Cameron Highlands Malaysia is a pretty safe area. Wake up in the morning, actually cold because of the altitude, which was sort of a nice feeling, for about 1 min, woke up, had my iPod, some fruit, my jacket, all ready to tackle the day. You. Guessed. It. No more shoes. 
Wasn't a happy camper, asked the guy at the desk if this was common, he said it was his first time hearing about anyone losing their shoes. (He is secretly running the most elusive and profitable shoe smuggling business this side of Oregon) 
So sulked for about 15 minutes, walked into town....... shoe less  found some super crazy cheap, black scuba diving like slippers that were appropriate for hiking. By this time it was around 11 am and it crazy rains in the afternoon so finally find this trail that is suppose to be the best, found a small group to go with, sauntered my way up the mountain, started to pour. Which is all good because well I couldn't do anything about it. Get to the bottom, realize all of my clothes are getting washed and being really wet is something I can't handle well so bought a bunch of new clothes.
Mistake #3: Not just paying the 400 baht and taking a tour. I don't love taking tours because I like waking up when I want to, taking the trail I want and generally not being bossed around. However, Cameron Highlands is a pretty big area and getting to a tea plantation from where we were wasn't really easily walk able so after being soaked, walking or taking a bus to a plantation, drinking tea then finding a way back wasn't on my list of things to do after finally getting dry. Should have just woken up when they told me, took my shoes inside with me and enjoyed some delicious tea. But no, I want to be my own travel guide who doesn't need help from a "guide". Good call Bert.  
Lovers In Rain Rain Lovers

"I've learned that mistakes can often be as good a teacher as success."  Jack Welch. 

If you have a bit of time, check out these mistakes that might be more serious than mine:

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Too much TripAdvisor?

I'm a fan of TripAdvisor. I think it's great. I rarely go to a new city, town or country without checking out what their is to do, possible activities or day trips, where to stay and things to avoid. Definitely a routine of mine is to go to TripAdvisor and Wikitravel (and possibly Agoda) for 30 min to an hour and I feel fairly prepared for the adventure ahead. My only issue with it and by no fault of its own, I might be too concerned about reviews, what other people thought, how I'm going to rate it, how great the view is, what the service was like, the location or the value you receive for your money. 
Example: I was just in Koh Lanta and was trying to check out Kantiang Bay, heard it is the most beautiful beach on the island so decided to go check it out.

So I jot down two of the top 5 or so restaurants in that area and set out to find them with my friend. Several different beaches that have tons of bungalows, resorts, places to get massages, restaurants and travel agents. Finally get to the beach, don't see any of the two restaurants, go a bit further, come back to the area, passing by plenty of other resorts, look out points and places to grab a quick drink or some food but discouraged by the fact that I can't find them. So we don't end up eating or drinking anywhere there. I was somehow reluctant to go to a place I have never heard of because of another place that MIGHT be better for very subjective reasons. What if I eat somewhere and the restaurant was 1 min further ahead? HOW WOULD I FEEL!!!Furthermore, there was another restaurant that I found online that was suppose to be one of the better ones on the beach that I was staying at, spent a good 20 minutes looking for it and felt defeated that I couldn't find this one restaurant that may or may not have been good. On my mini van ride back to Nakhon we drove by it, no chance I was finding that place.

I was reflecting on this while I was eating at a mildly fancy, good vibe restaurant called the Fat Monkey. It was sort of getting late here and a bunch of restaurants start to close early because it is low season till November so I left my guesthouse, drove to the restaurant district, drizzling out so wanted to find a place fast, saw the looks of this place and could not be bothered looking anywhere else. It was great, nice people, good price, different options, would for sure go back. This is what I should have done searching for these phantom restaurants on Kantiang Bay. I think TripAdvisor should be used for many different things: making sure you stay at a safe and affordable hotel/hostel/guesthouse, making sure you don't miss out on any great attractions, tours or points of interest in a city or just giving you a better idea if that city/country is worth visiting. I don't think it should be used the way I did by being trigger shy about eating or drinking at a place that hasn't been reviewed by x amount of complete strangers. Some of these restaurants can't even be found on TripAdvisor, but it doesn't mean that don't make a crazy good Masaman curry or cashew nut chicken. I hope the lesson I learned from this is have a few restaurants in mind and areas to see, but just go with the flow and if you don't find it right away, or at all, just go with your instinct, pull up a chair and relax, it will be fine. Promise. And if it isn't, just give it a negative review on TripAdvisor.  Now if you will excuse me, the world needs to know what I think of The Fat Monkey Restaurant in Koh Lanta. Good evening. 
More Facts on Psychofacts :)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Malacca Malaysia

My general plan for this break was certainly general: Go to Kuala Lumpur for Seth's birthday then see what happens. Spent about a week in KL, did a minuscule amount of research about Malaysia amounting to checking out Kieran's Facebook status about what he should do in Malaysia and copying and pasting the results onto my sticky notes on my computer. About a day or two before the guys were leaving KL for Indonesia and Burma, I asked them what I should do. Kieran: "Go to Malacca, I hear it's great." Done. Did a quick 10 min on Wikitravel then looked on hostelworld for a cheap place to stay and left on the Sunday. Malacca is a World Heritage Site, many temples, churches and museums that I can tell you I did not visit. I'm sure they are great though. 

My overall impression of Malacca was that I loved it. Fairly small town, very historic, interesting architecture, great weekend night markets, Chinatown, great for walking around, or taking one of these little devices that more often that not were playing Gangnam style:
It was a great place to walk around, got severely lost the first night (shocking) and is very safe. Malacca in my opinion is crazy romantic and would be a ideal place to go on a little getaway. They have a beautiful canal to walk along or take a small boat and tour the area at night. Lots of small little cafes and quaint restaurants. If I ever trick a girl into marrying me, I'd love to come back there and in a perfect world stay here: 

This may seem insignificant to you but they have 2 movie theaters so I watched Taken 2 (7.5 out of 10) and Looper (7.89 out of 10), found a small little burger shop called Bert's Jr. Can you believe that?? 

So the first time I found this great little gem I of course ordered one lemonade, I love lemonade. Just before I was about to order, I thought to myself "Bert, don't tell them your name is Bert. They don't care. This is what your dad would have done and you would have been embarrassed  Keep your mouth shut, drink your lemonade, and walk away" 
"One lemonade please, oh and my name is Bert"
Employee: "Oh your name is Bert, ha",.....hands me my lemonade, "Thanks Bert!"
Made my night. I also went back the next day to have a cheeseburger and the girl is like you were here yesterday right? Bert? Then the guy in the back near the grill "Hi Bert" It's true that remembering peoples names is important. People love the sound of their own name. 

Stayed at a great little guesthouse on the canal called River View Guesthouse. Perfect for sleeping in and near this famous Chinese chicken and rice ball restaurant that made me pretty happy.
View from the guesthouse.
Spent three nights in Malacca, was a bit sad to leave but like leaving places a little early, wanting a bit more rather than overdoing it and being happy to leave. Last quick note about Malacca: 
Cab ride from bus terminal to my first hostel, which wasn't great.
Cab driver after about 10 minutes of silence:
"Where you from" 
Me: "Canada" 
Cab driver "I studied at York University in Toronto....they still have table dancers in Canada? 
Me: "Umm yep" 
Cab driver smiles: "I used to drink Blue Labatt"
Good to know Canada's reputation in Malacca Malaysia is table dancing and Labatt Blue. 

"Never let your memories be greater than your dreams."  Doug Ivister

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Highlights from KL

1-Standing outside the Petronas Towers. Great.
2-We stayed at a hostel called BackHome. Real nice, pretty cheap and clean. On Seth's birthday a lady who worked there took us through a few small back alleys to this amazing, cheap and really good Malaysian food that we definitely never would have found on our own. 
May have forgotten my towel on one of these railings..

3-Went to the Aquaria KLCC. Basically just an awesome aquarium, not crazy big but good way to kill an hour or two. Especially if you have kids (which I can't stand....) they would love it. You can walk through this tunnel and see all kinds of different fish, sea horses, sharks, turtles and maybe my favorite thing there moon jelly fish: 
4-On the Friday night for Seth's birthday we went to a nightclub and this famous DJ was there, DJ Sydney Sampson. I was going to post his most famous song but it is grossly inappropriate. 
Don't really like DJ's that much but we got our dance on till about 4 and I was actually dancing like 90% of the time which is for sure a change of pace for me. Would it surprise you if I said I thought Malaysian girls are beautiful?
5-I may or may not have eaten at these places, numerous times. Don't judge me:
subway logo

6-Ate about 3 pretzels and they have real Red Bull here. It's the little things that get you through the day.
I liked KL, not a ton of things to do, got lost a few times, nice hanging out with fun people, probably wouldn't go back and you aren't missing out too much if you don't go. Will post about where I have been the last week soon. Off to the Perhentian Islands tomorrow, should look something like this:

"Weekends do not count unless you spend them doing something completely pointless"

Oh, and if you're reading this on a Thursday, you know what to do.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Appreciate the love

I read this article and I suggest you read if you have time: Wanted to share my experience. If you don't want or have time to read it, summary is a bunch of his readers have messaged him lately about people in their lives not being fully supportive about their decision to leave home, travel/work abroad for whatever period of time. He agrees and has had the same experiences of people telling him he is making a mistake, is wasting his life, not living in reality and needs to get a "real job". The fact that some people are like this doesn't surprise me, haters gonna hate, but it surprises me that so many people are having these challenges with their friends and family. 
Friendship - Fotolog
First reason: I have not experienced this. Maybe that is because people just think it and would rather not tell me that what I'm doing isn't the best idea. Out of all of the people I have told and have found out about what my plans are, I have only had two instances of not 9838333% love and weren't even unsupportive. The second person I told was more just shocked and thought I was kidding. Not sure if he thought it was a bad idea, just something he wouldn't do. The other slight and in retrospect legitimate was concern from my older and wiser brother. In fairness, he has more reason to worry than anyone else. He knows I'm a monkey, is worried I will fall into a sewer and start looking for ninja turtles or he will be called at 2:30am asking him to bail me out of a Bangkok prison while taking 500 000 baht from his account. 

As a side note  Alain was the last person I told, maybe 4-5 days after I booked the one-way because I knew what he might think and only told my mom a day or  two before him because I was somewhat afraid, didn't want to make her sad that her favorite son was leaving her and wanted to tell her in person. 

Second reason: The people you tell are or should be the people that want the complete best for you. If someone is making a huge life decision, has put a ton of thought into it, has a plan and is genuinely excited about it, why would you try and bring them down? You think this will make your life better? Go for it and tell me all about it. I understand people have concerns about their safety,money, falling behind with their peers but friends and family should do their best to be happy for them, try and help them anyway they can, and give them all of your support. 
Time is running - Fotolog
This is sort of like a friend saying to me "Bert! I'm getting married this fall and planning on having a baby next year!!" Me: "Hmmmmm I don't know about all this. You should probably wait and think this through. Even though this is your life and you live it everyday, I know what's best for my friends" Are you kidding? Be a good friend, voice slight concerns in a very supportive way and let people live the life they choose.
Don't have to tell any of you this because I have been shown nothing but love, support and interest. Just surprised about other peoples tales. Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving, now only 77 days till Christmas!!

"If you want to support others you have to stay upright yourself" Peter Hoeg

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

KL and parent teacher meetings!

Went to a national park with Kieran today after eating my first Indian dish completely by hand over a single, massive banana leaf. Not sure how I feel about eating with my hands. I hear the upside is you experience more flavor but the downside is it makes me feel uncomfortable and an inefficient eater. This is a picture of what it looks like. 

Super cheap and very traditional. However, I am trying to eat minimal rice while outside of Thailand. I managed it for my entire trip to Canada, Malaysia has been less successful  To get to this forest we needed to take this train like system. I am a man who enjoy sitting down so sat down in these empty seats. WELL, did I ever feel like a muppet when it came to my attention that I was sitting down in a ladies only cart. Part of the train only for girls?? I find this to be mildly discriminatory. Probably for the best but still, made me feel cheap and inferior.  Won't make that mistake again. 

My other friends from Nakhon got here today so met up with them, will spend the next few days touring the city with people I really like. They leave on Sunday for Berma and Indonesia. 

Another quick thing I wanted to write about was I had my first ever parent/teacher meetings last Friday. I found this fascinating for a few different reasons:
 1-Strange being on the other end of that. I feet like I was in school my whole life and now instead of being the student who doesn't want to be there, doesn't study, review or want to learn French, I am now the teacher who is telling their parents their child needs to study more, talk less, read their English book everynight and focus a little more in class. 

2-Not all of the parents come, some do and some of the students tag along as well. First, it sort of shows what parents take this seriously and which do not. I think you can tell a lot from how a student is doing by meeting with their parents for even just five minutes. 98% of the parents can't speak English or are too shy to talk to me. So I basically just sit there, try and play with my student or ideally a little baby brother or sister of one of my students while my Thai teacher and the parent talk. 

3-This might not be the best or nicest thing to say but some kids just tend to blend into the class and I don't really have anything great or bad to say about some of them. Some of my students are unbelievable, perfect students. Some kids need extra help for whatever reason, some kids don't listen. But a handful of my kids I really just want to say are doing alright, behave fine, do their homework and come to class. Is this mean? I try and think of creative things to say or use a thesaurus or google teacher comments for kids but I really struggled with some of them. 
Those are my thoughts as of October 3rd. Enjoy the rest of your week, don't forget to have a very Sexy Thursday (except you mom) and I will see you when I see you. 
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