Category Archives: Daily Journal

Phuket Survival Tips

I had a great vacation in Phuket, Thailand, earlier this month. I’d like to share some tips that can be useful if you plan to travel there. If you’re looking for the stories, my friend has written a series of it (Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5).

1. Book the airport transfer

A taxi can load up to 4 passengers and costs about 450 THB from the Phuket international airport to Patong Beach (one of the most popular tourist destination). If you’re travelling in group and have to take more than one cab, consider to hire a driver with a minivan for the airport transfer.

It costs about 800 THB for a luxury Lexus minivan. It can load up to 9 passengers (or 10 if you include the front seat beside the driver’s). Our driver was Mr. Liem (Niwat Panphuet). He was a gentle driver, didn’t talk much, but actually quite friendly. He will pick you up and you can pay him after he drops you at your destination.

If you want his service, you can contact him through the following:
Email: [email protected]
Mobile: +66 89 4696867, +66 81 8949080
Tel/fax: +66 76 528044

2. Take a road trip

Phuket has many beautiful beaches and wonderful sight-seeing spots. You definitely won’t want to stay only in one place and skip the chance to visit those amazing places. The best way to visit most (if not all) of them is by taking a road trip. You can rent a car and drive on your own, but you will need an international driving license for this. Or just hire a driver with a car to drive you around.

When you do, take the west coast line of Phuket from Patong Beach – Karon Beach – Kata Beach – Nai Harn Beach, and all the way to Promthep Cape at the southwest. Along the way, you can also stop at some nice viewpoints (Kata and Karon viewpoints), the Big Buddha, or Phuket Town.

Tip: it cost us 2,500 THB for a 1 day (additional cost applicable beyond 10 hours of trip) for hiring the driver and the car (petrol included). We also hired Mr. Liem  for this road trip and we totally enjoyed and loved the ride.

3. Take a boat trip

Many parts in Phuket are accessible only by boats. Make sure you spare at least one day to visit those lovely places in Phang Nga Bay (James Bond Island, Hong Island, Bamboo Island) and Phi Phi Islands (Koh Phi Phi and the world-famous Maya Beach).

The ride can be long, rough, and bumpy, so if you have a weak stomach, be sure to have some preparation or medication to calm your sickness.

4. Haggle prices from street vendors

Often, you can buy your items at 50% or less than the initial price. Don’t hesitate to bargain. The vendors are quite friendly and they’re not so aggressive.

This includes show tickets (Simon Cabaret, Fantasea, etc.) and tours (Phang Nga Bay and Phi Phi Islands). For example, the listed VIP ticket price for Simon Cabaret is 600 THB, but we managed to get it for 550 THB including 2-way transfer by Tuk Tuk (Phuket local public transportation).

5. Bring some sunscreen or sun protection

Or buy one at Phuket. If you are at the Patong Beach, you can buy from Watson’s nearby. The price was quite cheap there.

Phuket is about beach. You will stay most of the time under the sun. Be sure you have enough protection against sunburn and, more importantly, skin cancer.

6. Bring some insect/mosquitoes repellent

Some areas can be populated by mosquitoes. Bringing one may save you from clapping your hands and scratching your legs all night every night.

Exchanging your faulty iPhone

Just like every other electronics product, your iPhone can or will have problems. In my case, the home button was not responsive. Since it is a mechanical part that I interact most often, it is only natural that it eventually wore off. I was lucky it happened while it was still covered by the warranty, so I could take it for a free service from Apple. Really? No!

The fact that recent Apple consumer products like iPhone is a very integrated product makes it so there are no user-serviceable parts. In a way, people think it is bad, since you cannot have extra batteries for instance. It is made in such a way even the local Apple authorized service centers will not be able to service it for you. Instead, they will exchange your faulty iPhone with a new replacement set immediately — subject to stocks availability.

So, what is this new iPhone replacement set anyway?

Well, I do not have a certain information, so take it with a grain of salt. Based on user posts in some Apple forums and from the service center staffs, I think it can be either (most probably) refurbished or new set. It will come in a black box with nothing but the iPhone. No cables, earphones, or other accessories are included in this replacement set. In other words, they will only exchange your iPhone, not the accessories.

A refurbished set means it was once a faulty set that has been repaired by the manufacturer in a way it looks like a new one, but of course it is not. Some parts like the chassis or the battery may be new, but not everything is new.

Because of this, and the high possibility of getting a refurbished set, you better not exchange your iPhone if there is no problem with it, or you may end up having another iPhone with a worse condition. When I exchanged for the first time, two days ago, I got a replacement set that had problems during calls. More specifically, the other party often could not hear anything I said on the phone. I went and got a second replacement for this issue.

Also, you don’t always get the latest iPhone and/or iOS release. My first replacement iPhone was a week 35 production and came with iOS 4.3.5 while the second week 31 with iOS 4.3.3. I did the second exchange on a different outlet, so it really depends on the availability.

Okay, done with the blabberin’, so what do you need to do to get your faulty iPhone replaced?


There are some conditions that you have to satisfy before you are entitled to a replacement iPhone:

  1. It must be still under warranty. Normally it is one year since the purchase and activation date. You can extend it to two years if you buy an Apple Care protection plan for your iPhone.
  2. You must have bought your iPhone in your local authorized resellers or local Apple stores (online or offline). It includes authorized telecom companies, in Singapore, they are Singtel, StarHub, and M1.
  3. It must not have a severe physical damage. Some small scratches shouldn’t matter, but your mileage may vary.
  4. It must not have been soaked in water. The service center staff usually uses a simple torch light to check for the water damage (corrosion) in your iPhone headphone and charger sockets; you can do the same before going.
  5. I am not sure if they will replace a jailbroken iPhone, but just to be on the safe side, restore it to the factory condition using iTunes.

Exchanging your iPhone

If you have satisfied the conditions, now you can go and exchange your faulty iPhone. The exchanging process usually does not take too much time (only about 15-20 minutes for me), but if there are many customers, you may have to queue for a while.
  1. Back up your iPhone using iTunes. You don’t want to reinstall all your apps manually and lose all your precious data, do you?
  2. Go to a nearest or your preferred Apple service center. Keep in mind, though, if you bought your iPhone from a telco, you need to go to the telco service center, not Apple’s. In my case I went to StarHub service center. If you bought your iPhone online in Singapore, you need to go to QCD at Tagore Building.
  3. When you hand over your iPhone to a staff, they will do the usual routines:
    • Check for water damage.
    • Check the warranty.
    • Validate your complaints. Normally they are not too strict about this, they just believe everything that you say. Nice, isn’t it? But of course, your mileage may vary.
  4. Then they will hand you a replacement set. Take your time and check it thoroughly before taking it home.
  5. Once you agree to accept the replacement set, they will do the registration, move your SIM card, and activate the phone for you. Then you can take it home with you immediately.
  6. Open iTunes and restore the last backup to your replacement iPhone. Now it will be just like your original iPhone.
That’s it, a very simple process. I can say this is a completely different level of service from Apple compared to other companies.
They will also extend your warranty to 3 months from the exchange date, so you can still come back if you find issues with your replacement set.
Power Support Anti Glare FilmOne more thing (:
I put a quite expensive Power Support film set (screen protector) on my iPhone. I don’t want to discard them and spend another $35.00 to buy a new one for my replacement iPhone. So, I asked the staff to move the film from my old iPhone to the replacement set. And surprisingly, the kind staff agreed to do it, and they did it properly (no misalignment or bubbles). They did it in two different occasions (I exchanged my phone twice). So thank you kind StarHub staffs. I don’t remember their name, but the first was a kind gentleman from StarHub VivoCity, and the second was a friendly and pretty lady at booth 8 from StarHub Plasa Singapura.
You saved me from potentially spending $70.00 (:

Average Person

I don’t know the exact definition of “average person”, but someone described it as a person who does not really excel at any particular thing, but ain’t the worst either. One who has an average rating in his/her skills. Not outstanding neither poor. Maybe it’s like the saying:

Jack of all trades, master of none.

So what makes a person average? One might say you can tell by the average academic achievement, average work performance, average income, or even average look.

Can all the average scores be improved? Absolutely. Got an average academic scores? Study harder. Average work performance and income? Work harder, or, smarter, or both. Average look? Work out, treat your body nicer, or you can use the abundant beauty products, makeups, and fashion.

It’s true that not everyone born as prodigy. Not everyone can compose music at the age of five like Mozart. Or graduated summa cum laude at 12 years old from a university like Sho Yano. Or started to play golf at 2 years old like Tiger Woods.

You don’t have to be a gifted prodigy to be successful. Even the famous successful inventor, Thomas Edison once wrote:

“Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.”

So it’s obvious, even though you are not a prodigy, it’s not the end of the world. It doesn’t mean that all doors to success are closed for you.

I can’t say I’m a successful person since I still have a lot of things to achieve in my life. So I can’t really write a recipe for success. But recently, I heard a wonderful sermon from Pastor Kong Hee of City Harvest Church at the Chinese New Year 2010 service. The sermon is much longer and a bit different to the following, because I’ll share and adapt to what I think is more relevant to the topic.

1. Sow and plant the seeds

Don’t just wait for miracles to happen. You can’t grow anything if you keep your seed in your pocket. Sow it! Plant it!

Money won’t fall down from the sky or grow on your back. If you think you are not a prodigy, then learn. You can’t expect to play musical instruments on concerts without learning. Don’t expect perfect academic scores without studying. If you’re not from a wealthy family like Paris Hilton or if you are not an ultra-lucky person like Gladstone Gander (Donald Duck‘s cousin) who won all the lotteries, don’t expect to get a lot of money without doing anything.

You have to invest your time, energy, mind, effort, and money to be able to produce something.

2. Maintain your seeds and plants

You can’t just sow the seeds and leave them. They may get dehydrated and die. Crows may come and eat them. Take care of them by watering regularly, fertilizing, and protecting them from pests and other threats.

After investing your money, you still have to manage it. If you’re not careful, your money value can grow insignificantly or may even diminish.
Same thing with skills. Once you start learning a skill, you have to keep learning until you master it. If you stop in the middle of the learning process, you will never be able to master it.

3. Wait for your seeds to grow

If you plant your seed tonight, you can’t expect it to fructify in the morning. You need to wait, give it enough time while maintain it so it will grow healthily.

You can’t expect to become a world-class cook overnight, or build a nuclear reactor tomorrow if you just started to learn physics today. Be patient and keep your determination to learn and train and surely you’ll get better in time.

Once again, not everyone is born prodigy. But you don’t have to be one to be successful. Some people became successful very late in their lives. Colonel Sanders started his franchise business in his sixties. Albert Einstein had a speech difficulties in his childhood.

4. Sow the right seed on the right ground

Don’t try to grow Durians in Chicago. Durian is a tropical fruit that will stop growing when the average daily temperatures drop below 22 °C. So if you really really need to grow it there, you’ll need extra efforts, like building a greenhouse. Or grow evergreen plants instead.

So if you’ve trying hard to learn and pick up some skills but you still feel that you’re not improving much, then maybe it’s not your ground. You’ve been learning cooking day and night for the past few years, but your cooking still taste bad. Then maybe you’re not born to cook. Try something else. Or if you really want to cook regardless the fact that you’re not talented, you can get more professional help such as taking cooking courses instead of just learning only from books.

Sometimes, you still want to be able to grow Durians although you live in Chicago. Although there are workarounds for this, you won’t get an optimal result. Just because some people regard Durians as the king of fruit, it doesn’t mean everyone will appreciate it. Some will even hate it, either the taste, the look, or the odor. So be creative and open-minded. You may have great potential talents deep inside you, waiting for you to uncover them.

Not everyone has to be a businessman, or a politician, or a musician, or a scientist. Just because some people think geniuses should be good at math, it doesn’t apply to everyone. Just because people think that medical career promises fame and wealth doesn’t mean that everyone should become a doctor.

There are a lot of geniuses. Some are geniuses in business, some in science, some in language, some in social skills, some in kindness, some in teaching, some in philanthropy, some in sincerity, some in honesty, some in relationship, some in intelligence, some in diligence, and a lot of other qualifications that people can be geniuses in.

Maybe not all kind of skills can make you rich. Being kind and philanthropist many times even cost you money. But successfulness is not only measured by how much money you can earn in life. You don’t have to be rich to become successful. But don’t ignore your potential just because you or others think that it’s not a money-making skill. Appreciate it, improve it, and maintain it. Sometimes you never know when you will need your hidden talents. And if you’ve neglected it, you can only regret when you realize that you actually need it.

5. Focus on certain types of plants instead of trying to plant all of the kind

Your ground and time are not limitless. You don’t have the time to plant all kind of seeds and your ground can only hold so much. So if you try to plant to many seeds, you will harvest a little of everything. It’s usually better to harvest a lot of one thing.

So if you want to pick up a lot of skills, you will end up learning those only on the surface. You will know a lot things but not actually understand them. It’s good to know a lot of things, but you still need to be very good at something — not only know — to be regarded as an outstanding (above average) person. Focus on one or two things you really like or you think you have a good potential in. Being a specialist can distinct you from others.

6. Ask for God’s guidance and blessing

You have planted all your seeds. You take care of them everyday. But it doesn’t rain for months. It’s so dry that you can water your seeds enough. The weather has been so bad, and pests are coming like flood. You can do anything to salvage your plants. You realize, a man can only do so much. You need the divine intervention.

No matter how hard you try, you can’t go against God’s purposes. No matter how hard you train your body, you can still get sick, grow old, and die. No matter how skillful you are, you can’t live without God’s blessing. You have to realize, that everything in the world is not eternal. And everything is in the mercy of the Lord. So not only you have to work hard, you have to maintain a good relationship with God to receive the divine guidance and blessing.

7. After harvesting, sow again

So your seeds have grown and fruitful. You happily enjoy your harvest. Then you stop working. Can you expect another harvest? You have to continue working, continue sowing, continue maintaining, in order for you to continue harvesting.

Even if you already master the skills you want. You will still need to continue sharpening and using it. Otherwise it will become dull.