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Ivan Teoh

Something personal yet public

I kept telling myself I need to complete this writing today. And I did it. It is for my tomorrow Toastmasters speech. It is not just for my CC manual 7 but also for Vista Penang international speech and table topics contest tomorrow. I only got one day to practice. I hope I will remember all the key points. Practice, practice and practice.

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What is social media? Although, most of us does not know the real meaning of social media, I am sure most of us used them before. Blog, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and LinkedIn - to name just a few. There are more than one hundred active social media sites with millions participating in conversations every minute of the day, all over the world. The Social Media Bible defines social media as "... activities, practices and behaviors among communities of people who gather online to share information, knowledge, and opinions using conversational media." In short, social media is by the people, for the people.

Good evening my fellow toastmasters, today, allow me to share some examples of social media’s that impact to our life.

A magnitude of 7.0 earthquake hit at Haiti last week. First picture of Haiti earthquake picture spread in Twitter. More pictures had came next. Social media become a media of spreading the news to the world. The most impressive part was the charity text message programs. Many users asked their friends in Twitter and Facebook to help the victims in Haiti. Text 'Yele' to 501 501, $5 dollars will be donated. Text 'Haiti' to 909999, you will be donating $10 to Red Cross. Both programs automatically added the charges to your mobile phone bill. Do you know how much money already donated? More then 5 million in 4 days. Now it's already more then 18 millions. Simple donations via text messaging combined with the viral spread of the campaign message on Twitter and Facebook have led to an unprecedented number of donations.

Trend of job seeking also changed. Now social media is a job seeker's best new tool. More than half (53 percent) of employers research potential job candidates on social networks, says by Among these people, 43 percent said they relied on search engines, while 12 percent admitted to checking Facebook, and another 12 percent preferred LinkedIn. Since now we no longer search for job but the job will find us, we have to keep updating our skills and experiences in our social media profile to represent us, start a blog sharing our expertise and helping others that lack of it. Remember be ourselves and taking genuine interest to other professional contacts to build a tighter relationship.

I likes food. Only good food. Whenever I want to try new food in town, I will go to blog to search for good food. 'Tua Pui' mean fat in Hokkien dialect. From the research, 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations and only 14% trust advertisements. I totally agree with it. Nowadays, I find that most of the advertisements are very misleading. I am more trust to the comment that my friends said to me. The comments in food blog also very positive. As those comments are written by people around us. Not only on finding food on the blog, now we can find lots of recipes from the food blog too. I remember my sister made her first jelly moon cake last year. The recipe was from the food blog.

Last thing I want to said is reputation. Because of the social media, word of mouth become very important. Do you guys still remember about the Iran election crisis, United Airlines case, and China's great firewall? People talks about them in social media. Not just target to company. People reputation also affected. A couple was having sex in the company toilet. They got 24 hours termination. On that evening, people from other company knew about it. Real-time communication platforms like Twitter and Facebook have spread the word about what's happening within our life. In the social media, we not just join in the conversation. We also need to monitor, influence and limit the conversation. Social Media is making the world a much smaller place. Make sure we able to handle well our reputation in our life.

Radio needs 38 years to reach 50 million users. TV needs 13 years to reach 50 million users. Facebook just need 9 months to reach 100 million. After listening to my sharing, does social media impact our life? Do we think we can ignore social media now? My advise ignoring is no longer an option.

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Yesterday, I was doing my competent communication manual project 6, Vocal Variety. Many presenter like to share story on this assignment. I am still on holiday mood. I can't think of any interesting story to share with my fellow toastmasters. Suddenly, I think of first working day. Why not I make up a story that unusually will happen on first working day that people will remember it. The story goes like this.

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4th of January is first working day in 2010. I was very excited. That day I woke up early and went to office before 8am. My boss wasn't there yet. I quickly opened up my laptop and printed a letter and signed on it. As I needed to pass it to him before she get busy with her own work. She was on a long holiday. I believed she will have tons of tasks waiting for her on the first working day.

I went through my email. Suddenly I saw her head from my cubicle as she's walking to her desk, I grabbed my letter and walked toward her and greeted her, "Happy New Year. How was your holiday trip?" She said, "Happy new year to you. The holiday was great but tiring." She was smiling when I was pointing to her new wallpaper and said, "Very nice Great Canyon picture." I guess she must be taken during her trip. Back to business. I handed over the letter to her. She saw it, without opening it and immediately said, "Wow, what a new year present! I roughly can guess what it is about. Let me go through my today schedule and schedule the time one to one with you." Then I said, "Okay".

I went to back my desk and continued with my email. Not very long, Suddenly, a meeting schedule dialog box popped up in the middle of my desktop screen that mentioned a meeting schedule on half and hour later with my boss. I clicked 'Accept' button and reply immediately. I tried to finished up my email before the meeting. After half and hour later, I entered a small meeting room. My boss was already there. I sat down and the conversation started.

"Are you sure you want to further your study at this point of time?" she asked. I said, "Yes." "Why?" she asked again. "All the while, I got plan to further my study. Now, I felt it is the time for me to achieve this goal." "Has to be in Australia? If we could be find a similar course that can be done as part time basic in Penang, will you consider?" She asked me in a generous way. "I did consider that, but I still felt that this is a better option for me," I said it in kind way.

"Although you are going to leave us soon, let me share with you my plan on you. You will be the next person that I am going to promote you. You deserve it. You are free to say anything. Now here is just two of us. Whatever you said will be only in this room," she said with open mind. "Yes, I was not happy with the 3 percents increment and wasn't promoted since I joined in this company in year 2006," that was what I think in my mind. But I am not going to say it since everything is history now. Now I am looking forward my future. I told her, "I am happy with my current job, although the increment wasn't that great. More important is that I want to move on and continue my journey in Australia. Now I am in a comfort zone. I want to move out from the comfort zone and facing the challenging out there. I believe if I don't doing it now, I will never have the courage to do it again in near future."

"Okay. I respect your decision. Anyway, I will still on hold your letter for a week before handing it over to human resource department. You still have time to think about it again. Just in case you change your mind a week later," she said. "Thank you for your support," I said to her. This ended my meeting with my boss. The rest of that day was normal. Most of my co worker still in holiday mood including me. So far, only my team mate knew about it. They need to know about it as I need to transfer my knowledge on the current project I working on to them in two months time.

First working day in 2010 meant a lot to me. I had the courage to change and moved my first step. I know the journey will be long and tough. It is just like walking a rotten bridge that going to break anytime. I will keep walking and walking till I reach the end as that is my future. I don't how and I don't when. But I know, where there's a will there's a way.

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One of my relatives had their engagement dinner in Kuala Lumpur. They invited our family. Our family went down to Kuala Lumpur separately. My sister and I went down on Friday. My parents went down on Saturday, due to my parents can't take leave on that Friday. It was kinda of rush for them. Before the dinner, we went window shopping at Sungai Wang and Pavilion. The dinner venue, Frangipani Restaurant, was near at those shopping mall. We all had a great time, since it was a week before Christmas.

Today is Dongzhi Festival. This year, our family decided to cook tangyuan yourself. Of course, tangyuan can easily available on most of the market. This year, we used sweet potato as yellow, orange and purple coloring for the tangyuan. we also used pandan leaf for green color. Brown sugar base soup for the tangyuan. Others might put additional ginger. Our family does not like it. After refrigerate, tangyuan served with cold is another favour for my family too.

J.R. Robertson is a good friend of mine. I usually call him John. He often travels to Laos since 2002. Recently he autographed and gifted me his book, "The Journey of Two Lao Students". I managed catching up with him on few questions.

Ivan: What is this book all about? John: Well, it started out as a magazine article and then I was persuaded to make it into book, which was a bit difficult at first. But when I put the book together, it seemed to me that it was mostly is about the education of disadvantaged young people from remote villages in Laos.

Ivan: What was the biggest challenge in writing this book? John: Getting it to hang together as a coherent narrative.

Ivan: What do you intent to do with the proceeds of the book? John: Luckily the book has already been paid for. What I want is donations for the Buddhist temple school in Luang Prabang where these two students where taught when they were novice monks. Any money from this book will go straight to the them, not to me. If you are looking for a guideline, a donation of RM20 will be a nice sum. But more will be welcome. All will be carefully accouned for and reciepts will be obtained from the Buddhist monastery school in Luang Prabang.

Ivan: Do the students still need assistance and sponsorship for further education? John: Yes, very much so. And there are still many students who won't be able to progress to high school or higher education without sponsorship from an outsider. I hope the sale for this book will help them.

Ivan: Any plans for your next book? John: Yes. I have been asked to write a book about a naval battle which took place in Penang 100 years ago. I was approached by the Penang Heritage Trust who are building up the Penang heritage image, since it became a UNESCO world heritage site. It is one of the famous international incidents that occurred in Penang. Therefore it should be interesting for foreign tourists from many different countries who were actually involved there. That includes Russia, France, Britain, Japan, Germany, Netherlands and even Singapore.

If you are interested on this book, you can contact the publisher, Trafalgar Publishing House. Alternatively, they can contact the author through me. He is hoping that in future, the book will be listed with Amazon. it has an ISBN number, 978-983-43245-3-7. Then you can get it online.

Today I was doing my competent communication manual project 5, Your Body Speaks. This evening, it rained cats and dogs. I was late due to I need to borrow the car from my sister. I caught a cold this morning. I don't want to get it worst by catching in the rain. Luckily I still managed to deliver my speech. The evaluator recommended to tell who is Mr. Kim at the end of the speech. Below was my speech draft.

--- Start ---

Good evening to all my fellow toastmasters. Who is Mr. Kim? [Pause] Is he my school mate? [Pause] Is he my school teacher? [Pause] Is he my colleague? [Pause] Or is he my manager? [Pause] No, no, no and no. He is my travel mate for 11 days.

I met him on my short holiday trip during semester break at Indian Institute of Technology Delhi. That time, I was travelling alone to Agra to see Taj Mahal. I was getting two days pass for three places, Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Baby Taj.

I always like to save the best for last. My first visit was Agra Fort. I was busy snapping photo. [Showing snapping photo action] Suddenly, a guy looked at me and hand over his camera and asking me of taking him in the photo with the garden behind me. [Showing the action while explaining] He was also offering to take photo of me with my camera. We kept doing this for the rest Agra Fort visit. At the end of the trip, he asked me if I want to go to Baby Taj. It is far from here. We needed to take scooter rickshaws. We can share the costs. Since I am a student and also want to save some cost, I agreed to share transportation cost.

During the journey to Baby Taj, he asked me where I will go after Agra. I said I did not really have much plan. I was planning light and easy, relaxing at Agra first. Then I will decide the rest later. Then he said me how many days I had for travelling. I told him I had 11 days. Later, he told me his plan for the next 11 days. He suggested me following his plan for the next 11 days. First, he will go to Jaipur, the pink city and then Jaisalmer, the golden city. He also suggested after Jaisalmer, I can take the train back to New Delhi on the last day. The places sounded very interesting from his mouth. I straight away said, "Yes." I guess I was naïve on that time. How can I agreed to follow a stranger traveling together for 11 days. May be he is a bad guy. Luckily he was not. That’s person is Mr. Kim. Last night, I managed to dig out the only photo of him that we took on the last day of the trip. [Show the photo to the audience and pass around]

From his name, you will know he is Korean. I saw him carried a Korean travel book. Nope. I should say travel notes. As he will travel whole India for 6 months, he wanted to travel light. He tore this book into few pieces. He threw away those that he already visited. He is about my height. [Showing his height] He is around his forties during that time. He is married and had a daughter. He showed me his family photo. His daughter was very pretty. During that time, economy at Korea was really bad. He got retrenched. He could not find a job. So he used the money to travel India.

Although I was with him for only 11 days. I learned a lot from him.

  • Student card is very useful while travelling in India. Most of the tourist places, different price for local people, students and foreigner. That time I did not bring my student card. So I have to pay full price while visiting Taj Mahal. He did have his student card with him. He just had to pay ten times less then full price.
  • We took a bus to Jaipur, the pink city. He asked me give our bag the driver as soon as possible, as they will first put our bags at the middle of roof top of the bus and then stack up according. Lastly our bags will covered by a huge clothe. They are not responsible if our bag fall off from the bus.
  • After we reached at Jaipur bus station, lots of people approached us and recommend some hostel to us. He just asked me don’t talk and walk away. We finally get rid of them and get ourselves a cheap place for overnight.
  • We had to pay extra if we carried camera in the Amber Palace. We hided our camera at our pocket. Luckily, they just checked our bag at the entrance.
  • One day, we had to overnight on the train to Jaisalmer, the golden city. I saw him bring a chain surround his beg and lock it up. It is to avoid someone stole our bag while we were sleeping.

Even though, it was just 11 days with Mr. Kim, the memories stayed inside me forever. Please allowing me to share this quote by Dave Brenner, “Friends are the most important part of your life. Treasure the tears, treasure the laughter, but most importantly, treasure the memories.” With the memories of Mr. Kim, I am able to share this speech with you.

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I realized that NextGEN gallery removes Exif data after image rotation while I was having trouble on uploading huge images this morning. Automatically image rotation is a good feature for NextGen gallery WordPress plug in. Sadly, it will remove Exif data that was embedded inside the images. There is nothing I can do for those images that already rotated by NextGen since I don't have the original images with me anymore. Currently I am using version 1.4.3. Hoping the developer will fix it soon. The temporary solution will be manually rotate the image with other software, such as GIMP or XnView, that can remain the Exif data before uploading to the website.

The last time I visited Langkawi island was during my secondary school. I heard there has been lots of changes since my last visiting. Last time, I went with my schoolmates. This time I went with my friends, Joel, Anthony and Andrew. I went to purchase the tickets on Friday morning. It was RM115 for two ways. RM60 for one way. There are only two trips to Langkawi island from Penang island daily, which are 8.15am and 8.30am. There are also only two trips back from Langkawi island to Penang island, which are 2.30pm and 5.15pm. Since we can't decide what time we want to go home on Sunday, we left the return ticket open. It will valid for one month.

We woke up early on Saturday morning and reached at jetty 7.45am. The door will close at 8am. The journey to Langkawi was smooth. Since we took 8.15am ferry, they will stop at Payar island to drop some passengers and continue to Langkawi. We reached at Langkawi around noon. After taking a simple lunch, we rented a car. According to the sale persons, there are two types of car renter: one with permit, one without permit. After negotiating with some sale persons, we managed to get a Proton Waja car with permit for RM90 one day. The car that without permit will be around RM40 to RM50. After this, we went to check in at Malibest resort located at Cenang beach. Later, we met our friend, Kenny, who is working in Langkawi around 3pm. The first tourist spot will be Langkawi Sky Bridge. The whether started drizzling. Due to the bad weather, the Langkawi sky bridge closed. We discussed a while, we still decided to go ahead. As Joel and Anthony will go to Payar island tomorrow morning. The entrance ticket is RM 15 from Malaysian and RM 30 for non Malaysian. The bad moment came to me during the Langkawi cable car. Why? As I am acrophobia. I closed my eyes all the up and down to Mat Chinchang mountain. When we wera at the top of Mat Chinchang mountain, the sight was blocked by the cloud. We couldn't see much. When we backed to Burau Bay resort, the time already close to 6pm. Most of the tourist spots closed at 5pm. We couldn't do much but heading for dinner. At night, we did a bit of shopping, sight seeing on the street and movie. We watched '2012'. The movie ticket was RM11 per person, slightly more expensive comparing to Golden Screen Cinema in Penang.

On Sunday, we sent Joel and Anthony to jetty for their snorkeling activities at Payar island. Then we went to breakfast and three layers tea. I believe three layers tea was original from Sarawak. Three layers tea is a combination of brown sugar at bottom layer, evaporated milk at middle layer and red tea at top layer. It is RM2.50 per class. The taste was good and very different from milk tea. It was worth to try out. If anyone know, where we can find it in Penang, let me know. We took a rest at the room before we checked out. On the way back to jetty and returning the car, we accidentally saw a nice spot for photographing. We stopped the car at road side and took some quick shots. By the time, we reached at jetty, it was around 4pm. Since we suppose to return the car at 1pm. Due to the over time, we paid extra RM30 for three hours. While waiting for Joel and Anthony back from Payar island, we did a last minute shopping on chocolate, liquor and cigarette. We was very lucky on the way back to Penang. The weather was bad. The journey was very bumping and shaking and heavy rain too. Once we reached at Penang, we had a light dinner before heading home. I was too tired to turn on my computer. I straight away went to bed after shower.

Working on the next day.

I knew about this during one of the Vista Penang Toastmaster outing. That was Huy's farewell dinner and his last speech on Competent Communicator manual. At first, the venue is Temple of Fine Arts. Due to unforeseen circumstance, last minute it changed to El Mondo, Bayan Lepas, Penang. Our immediate past president, Ee San and her family also attended the event. More then ten people attended the event. Firstly, we must fill our stomach with food. We ordered different varieties of pizza. Sicilian Pizza is my favorite. After this, Hock Chye hosted the event by starting with this funny welcome speech. After Ee San, as Huy's speech evaluator, explaining Huy's speech objectives, Huy inspired us with his speech "Simple Happiness". He summarized the speech with one word, "Bliss", which is coming from few points: the beautiful day, the love of family, individual strength, and simple kindness of stranger. Due to limited time, we only had two table topics, which were done by Rishi and Peng Yew. This followed by Ea San evaluation and round-table evaluation. Lastly was the award recognition. Ee San hand over CC ribbon and Division S pin to Huy. Our current president, Usha hand over the President's Distinguished Club Award to our immediate past president, Ee San. The participates also got a gift. A gift from Huy all the way from Vietnam. It is Dong Ho's folk painting.

This Vietnamese folk art is originating from Dong Ho village, north of Hanoi. It is very special painting, which only use natural materials. Moreover, this painting is very long lasting, due to the coating from sticky rice paste for protecting the painting and their colors.

Thank you, Huy for the wonderful gift. I wish you all the best and hoping you will continue your Toastmasters journey in Vietnam. Wishing your dream, setting up the first Toastmasters club in Vietnam, will come true.


I can't remember when is the last time I went to Province Wellesley. Last weekend, a couple of my friends and I went to Province Wellesley searching for good food, conjunction with farewell gathering on friends that going to leave Penang end of November. Saturday night, we had our dinner at Xuan Xin (炫昇) Buffet Steamboat. Reaching at the restaurant around 7.30pm. They served five type of soup based. For example, clear soup, Tom Yum soup, porridge soups, etc. Lots of varieties for the steamboat, such as vegetable, bean curd, mushroom, noodle, etc. They also have fried bun, fried chicken, and french fried. Grill fish, squid, beef and chicken were my favorite. The desert are Rojak, ice-cream and Chinese dessert. Three type of cold drink to choose from. I like honey tea. We spend there till 9.30pm. After this, we hopped into Mr. Pot Cafe and continued our chit chat. For us, the Virgin Mary (cocktail) there does taste very different from the usual one. They are using fresh tomato juice instead of can tomato juice. First time, we meet Calvin. He is friendly and funny. The gathering ended shortly after midnight.

The next day, I had to wake up early. Meeting up with rest at 10am, heading to Island of Peace (Pulau Aman) for prawns noodle. We can't go directly to Island of Peace from Penang Island. We had to go to Province Wellesley first, then took a boat from a jetty near Bukit Tambun. Due to weekend, lots of people was in jetty by the time we reached there. We waited for nearly half an hour before stepping into boat. The boat fee is RM6 for both ways. Because of the article in Chinese newspaper reporting on the prawn noodle in Island of Peace, the floating restaurant was packing of people. We had our prawn noodle around noon. Some said it tasted average but value for money. Three big prawns in the noodle for RM6. After lunch, we walked around the village in the island. Later we noticed that there is another prawns noodle restaurant in the village, which is not so packed with people. They also produce shrimp paste (belacan in Malay) there.

On the day, the weather was hot and humid. So we decided Jaya Jusco Seberang Perai is our next destination. Most of us never been to this newly build supermarket at Province Wellesley. We felt much better inside this air-conditioned building. Firstly, we rested and had a drink at Old Town Cafe. We window-shopped for a while. We also tried Macau egg tart at The Baker's Cottage.

Trying Jawi Laksa will be our last agenda on that day before heading back home. This Jawi Laksi is available at a small local coffee shop which is located in Taman Mutiara, Bukit Mertajam. The major differences from the common Assam Laksa were serving in plate, and prawn fritters as topping. The gravy was more watery and with bean sprout. It costs RM2.20 per plate.

That day, I were still full in the evening, and skipped my dinner. It had been long time since the last hangout with friends. I did enjoyed the moments with them, and not just only the food. The food would be that extreme delicious without them. Here, I want to wish them all the best on their coming journey.