Hiatus (Hernia)

To all my loyal followers, I will be embarking on a European tour starting from today till the 8th of May — 2 full weeks! I have been a workaholic for too long, so it is about time that I gave myself a breather and enjoy life the way it should be.

To all my patients, I hope that you will be in good hands when I am not around. Why am I writing this? None of them have an online presence and least of all, knew about the existence of this blog. Ha! An apple a day keeps the doctor away. Please eat more apples so that I can enjoy similar holidays like this.

If you are wondering why am I not wishing my family anything, it is because I am joining them for the trip! And to all the Bersih/Anti-Lynas supporters out there, our thoughts are with you this coming April 28th (to all those in the dark, this is a Malaysian public outcry), we want a fair and clean election/environment!

Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Advertisements

Happy Birthday!

"Jack"

Someone is 1 today! All the best wishes to the birthday boy! Jack as he is fondly known, came into our lives at 8 in the morning, a year ago. Could still remember being woken up by the wife at 5am, saying that her contractions are 2 in 10 minutes. Since this is our first child, I thought we still had time. Half an hour later we were at the delivery suite, awaiting for the specialist to arrive. Although I am a doctor, there is this unwritten rule about treating your loved ones, we are not allowed to do so as there will be a bias or clouding of our judgement, so to speak.

The doctor came by, had a look and said to us that our baby was almost due. And within two hours, out came this big-sized boy, weighing in at a whopping 3.85kg! I would like to congratulate my wife for being able to bear with the pain and it wasn’t at all difficult to deliver him.

One year on, this little guy has been acting like a monkey, although in reality, he was born in the year of the Rabbit. Lucky for us, Jack managed to sleep on his own within 2 months, going to bed at 10pm and waking up only at 6am, which helped a lot with our sleeping schedule. He could also tolerate the infant milk powder without us having to try out different brands, just to find the right one. His pooping habit is also well-developed; once a day, most of the time early in the morning, just when we want to change his diaper. By the age of 10 months, he was already trying to walk unaided. Now, he is basically treating the whole house as his new playground. If it weren’t for the doors, we would have difficulty in reigning him in. He likes to read, albeit at times upside-down, hopefully, he knows what he is doing.

Having a child is a joyous occasion and there is no proper way of describing the feeling. You can read about it, listen about it but the best thing is to be a part of it. Oh yes, it is also true that there can be a lot of headaches and frustrations, you better believe it. But at the end of the day, when you look into his/her eyes, the only thing in your mind would probably be — it was all worth it.

P.S. We didn’t plan it, but tomorrow is my birthday.

Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated — Confucius

US Highways | Tube Style

The London Underground has been an iconic institution for so long that everyone has been using it for a lot of design processes. Today, we have Cameron Booth with his US Highways tube-style iteration. Ingenious if I would say so.

Tube-style

I guess this would be better appreciated by those from the US. I just hope some local graphic designer would do the same to our Malaysian maps and also have a look at the KL MRT line. Looking forward to a complete overhaul of the graphics.

Vacation Planning Part 2

Budget

I am guessing that this is the one thing that separates a dream from the reality. Nevertheless, it should not be a major obstacle to fulfilling your dream of travelling around the world. Imagine what we could do if we put in just a little effort. I share with you my story.

I have been planning for a 2-week European vacation since late last year, at that point in time, the exchange rate was RM4.35 for €1. I was still determined and went up to one of the bank tellers, who told me that the lowest he could remember was RM4.30 for €1. So, I waited as news of Greece’s imminent bailout and how it almost went all lopsided for the European Union gathered around me, or rather that particular area that I was planning to go to. But in the meantime, I still proceed with my research and I was determined that I will be going, even if it will cost me more.

Luckily, at the start of 2012, everything went pear-shaped for the European Union, down came the Euro and I was looking at an unbelievable exchange rate — RM3.96 for €1! A drop of 30 cents, which multiplied by a few thousand would be a significant amount of money saved! Hooray! Budget woes solved!

Moral of the story, plan early, plan smart and save up for the trip that you have always wanted. I would like to show you my budget breakdown but that would have to wait until the end of my trip, so stay tune. As for now, I leave you with a couple of websites that have ‘been there and done that’ so to speak.

Packing/Flashpacking

Nobody likes packing and then wonder, “Did I left something out?” Or worse still, “What should I pack?”. Well, fret not, the Internet is here to help. I bet all you would-be travellers have already keyed in those questions into Google and got bombarded with a ton of lists from each and every so-called traveller out there. I know, I basically did just that too. So I guess I will just stop boring you with my own packing list.

But at least indulge me a little and have a look at some practical items that you should be carrying around on your trip.

  1. The universal adapter: Depending on where you are heading, try to get the proper adapter for your electronic gadgets. You don’t want to find yourself without it.
  2. Prescription medications: This is the doctor speaking, if you need certain regular medications, please make sure you have all of them with you. Or at least get your doctor to write down the GENERIC name instead of the brand.
  3. Passport/Visa/Tickets: Do I need to say more? Period.
  4. Camera/Camera gear: I doubt anyone would forget these but please make sure you have your SD cards with you, the camera charger and maybe some spare batteries.
  5. A simple first aid kit: Painkillers, antibiotics, charcoal tablets, sewing kit, Band-Aids, alcohol wipes, rehydration salts, gauze etc.

Don’t forget, everything else you can buy! In case the packing freak inside you still need to be let loose, redirect him/her to Travelite FAQ.

Well, there you have it — the basics of vacation planning. Come on you guys, share with me some ideas!

Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you travelled

Vacation Planning

I am both meticulous and practical. So when it comes to vacation planning, you bet your bottom dollar that I would most likely have everything planned out — in advance. This is by no means a definitive post and I do hope that you would share some tips as we go along.

Basically what I am aiming at are those vacations that takes up more than a week, going somewhere foreign or probably one of those ATW (around the world) trips which is gaining in popularity recently.

Starting

Depending on the duration of the vacation, I would most likely be looking at starting around one year prior to the departure. Yes, you read it right, ONE YEAR. I have my own reasons which I will share with you, which might or might not be catered to what you have in your own country.

In my country, we have basically 2 long school holidays — late May/early June and December. So the local travel industry would always have travel fairs 2-3 months prior to these two travelling periods. So if I were to grab some cheap tickets, I need to plan early. Based on my limited experience, one year is just about right. If you plan early, you might be able to compare the fares between them before making your decision.

Next, depending on where you want to go, you might need travel visas, you might need to have some vaccinations and don’t forget — medical insurance! These procedures take time to get it done right, and you might need to have a look at your passport expiry date too!

Lastly, by having an early plan, I could start saving or map out a budget for the entire vacation. Preparing myself both mentally and financially.

Research

Before I make a decision on where to travel, I would go through some travel magazines/books/blogs to get a rough idea and list down a few places that I have in mind. With proper research beforehand, you could even go down to your local travel agent and ask for suggestions, or draw up your own itinerary.

These are a couple of websites that I use to get my cranial juices flowing:

You could also find out more from your local dailies’ travel section for some practical travelling suggestions. Do also pay attention to the weather reports and natural disaster alerts for the destination that you are planning. For instance, my country is prone to flooding during the monsoon season (Nov-Dec), you would not want to be here around that time. Not only would your travel plans be shelved, you might find yourself caught up in the eye of the storm. (Sorry about the pun!)

Once you have a place or a few places narrowed down, your research would be tailored towards a more refined process. These include:

  1. Accommodation
  2. Transportation
  3. Food
  4. Places of interest
  5. Packing items
  6. Seeking help/advice (forums, social platforms, blogs)
  7. Learning the language
  8. Reading up on the history (guidebooks)

Now you know why I need a year in advance! This is just the tip of the iceberg. Feel free to share your suggestions in the comments below.

Not all those who wander are lost – JRR Tolkien