03 November 2014

Fundamental Conflicts

No comments:
It's November now, only 2 months left until the dawn of new year.

Today I'd like to reflect upon few things happening lately that has challenged my fundamentals greatly.

The first scenario happens at work, over the matter of "quality VS quantity".

I’m currently running this project of sharing life experiences in Japan, Makunouchi Japan. Our aim is to become one of the most-visited sites when it comes to Japan-related information.

For the first few weeks I took over the project, it’s just like update and maintaining the blog. However, as the honeymoon period comes to an end, the supervisor demanded the pace to be increased exponentially.

Initially it seems to be a tough call, demanding a rapid rise in the site visits in short amount of time. One of way of doing it is trying to increase the number of blog posts in order to boost the site’s reputation and increase potential visits through search engine results.

I admit that my pace of updating the blog is kinda slow as I’m being meticulous to proofread the articles’ texts and enhance the images before publishing them. After years of habitually updating blogs, I tend to spend quite a lot of time just to finish up a blog post, which is one of the reasons why I didn’t update this blog that frequently nowadays (yeah lame excuse I know…).

From this experience, I realized that when it comes to a job, it’s no longer about doing things the way you like, but to do it the way that others are pleased and with solid result. I still love writing blogs, but the mindset has to be changed in order to cope with a new demand, quantity over quality.

I do however, still enjoy making others salivating and envy with these delicious-looking sushi pics heh. :P

Anyway, I'm thankful that the supervisor and seniors who're guiding me all this while. Really appreciate it.

Sunset over Shinjuku.
Sunset Shinjuku 新宿の夕焼け

For the next one..... it almost knocked me off and makes me question myself, what have I've been doing over the past quarter of century? The question attacks the very core of who I am today, what kind of person I am. Curious to know...

Tokyo International Forum. Somehow the cross-bridges resemble my current state of mind.

Just the other day I've had a few glasses of wines and spoke to a few intimate friends. What we've discussed may not be disclosed, but after the conversation, I felt kinda awkward and frustrating for myself to be honest.

In order for me to "blend in" further, I will have to venture into unknown territory, ie: stepping out of the comfort zone. I totally understands that at times it is necessary and I'm willing to push my boundary further.

Changes can be made, but not in the matter of days or weeks I think, especially if it's a drastic one. Physically it can be changed easily, but mentally it does need more time and effort to adjust to the new ideas.

Some of the changes, however, challenges my fundamental greatly and I don't even know how to react, what should I do. I've become so numb. I'm sort of torn between what should I take in, and what should I leave behind. I asked, am I doing the right thing all this while?

So confused and even the Tokyo Tower appears to be slanted!

Things may look a little rough ahead, but I'm confident that as time goes by I'll definitely overcome it. I know that I have the problem's solutions in hand, as long as I did things accordingly things will be solved.

I had a feeling that once overcoming these obstacles, life ahead could be very different from now, for better or worse, it has to be changed anyway.

Surely you can do it, Cliff! ;)

22 October 2014

Coffee or Wine?

Would you prefer a cup of freshly brewed coffee, or a glass of vintage wine?
Well, if it's past 6 in the evening, the choice will be fermented grape juice over the black magic.

Perfect day = a cup of nice coffee + engaging conversation. :)

Lately I've had a couple glasses of the maroon liquor with bunch of friends. Worry not, as I remain sober all this while. I'd prefer to drink casually and socially, and not for the sake of getting drunk.

Surprisingly good wine from America.

When I recall what had happened over the past few months, oh boy it was something kinda different than what I had experienced so far.

As usual, the Pisces' mind runs wild with imaginations of all the wonderful prospects that seems to be happening.

Alas, all the visualization came to an end, when an arthropod* steps in.

As much as I tried not to be superstitious about horoscope, but at times some of the descriptions are shockingly accurate.

The red Velours

There's a saying, "three strikes and you're out!"

Thrice had struck and for the fourth to happen it will definitely drive things to points of no return. Being slightly optimistic, a temporary meltdown perhaps.

False expectations are shattered, grounded myself back to reality.
A rushed effort may not produce the desired result, to be honest.

Anyway, things had settled down a bit since then. Or at least I hoped so. Cool down period is crucial and an ill-decision will undo everything and it's not just me, but the collateral damage will affect some others around me too, which isn't worth it, really.

Bitter & Sweet

I thought I'm ready to dedicate and commit; I thought I had good intention, but it wasn't the right time for execution.

I do appreciate for some of the priceless moments.
Whatever happens tomorrow, we had today. Cherish the moment.
Cherish your friends, stay true to your principles, live passionately and fully and well. Experience new things. Love and be loved, if you ever get the chance.
Eventually, I realized that....

  • Being nice doesn't pays off at times.

  • Nobody is interested listening to technical blabber, really.

  • It's not about what's right or wrong all the time, but the feel for it.

  • Don't just think about yourself, remember to put yourself in other's shoes.

  • Be a little more patient, and sometimes it's best to say nothing at all.

    Nevertheless, I've learn a lot from this experience and definitely will do better next time.
    For the sake of everyone's interests, the story concludes with past tense for now.

    Blossom of Fall
    Blossom of fall May you bloom and grow, bloom and grow forever.

    * Arthropod refers to a horoscope which falls on fall, if you haven't guessed it.

  • 13 August 2014


    No comments:
    Here's a scenario I bet most foreigners are familiar with in Japan. We often get praised for our linguistic skills, for most of us can speak at least 2 languages (our mother tongue & Japanese).

    Japan is after all, pretty much a monolingual nation, which isn't necessary a bad thing. The other languages used here are English (due to US' influence), Chinese Mandarin & Korean Hangul. However, the chances of meeting someone who can speak these languages to an understandable level, is pretty slim on the street.

    Once in awhile, I witnessed or heard cases where tourist was rejected assistance by ordinary folks because they could not communicate with each other effectively. I'm trying to see it this way that given such situation that stresses and perhaps embarrassing for the Japanese, they would rather walk away to save all the trouble and hassle. As for the unfortunate tourist, the impression of friendly Japanese just shatters. Thankfully, they are also Japanese who are eager to help out the foreign guests, as seen at some tourist spots where one can find free volunteer tour guides.

    Quite a number of foreign expats have bashed Japan for it's overly grammar-oriented English education that neglects the speaking part mostly. I would think that it is because they lacked a proper environment to speak English. To make things worse, trying to speak English publicaly can still be taken as an act of showing off, something against the Japanese's modesty culture.

    Speaking as a Malaysian, I think that one of the best thing being a former British colony, is the solid English foundation built up over the decades. While the current Malaysian government seems to be trying to reduce English's influence in education, there is no doubt that English has rooted deeply into the Malaysian society. The fact that the newspaper with the most readership in Malaysia, is English-based The Star proofs this well.

    In Japan, sometimes we'll get commented for speaking "funny" or "weird" English. We are speaking Malaysian English after all, and there is distinctive difference than the mainstream American or British English. Only fellow Malaysians or our close neighbor Singaporean can decipher our English. For me, speaking our style of English comes very naturally with fellow countrymates, however other than that I have to be careful not to slip out the Malaysian English in me.

    Ada juga masanya apabila kita dalam keadaan yang kurang selesa, di mana kita ingin berkata sesuatu tetapi tidak hendak difahami orang lain kecuali orang sendiri. Masa itulah Bahasa Malaysia sangat berguna. Di Tokyo saya sering ada peluang bercakap BM kerana ada ramai rakan di sini, dan sebab itu BM saya masih boleh tahan lagi.

    Walau bagaimanapun, saya pernah jumpa dengan warganegara yang enggan ataupun tidak boleh bertutur dalam BM. Ada yang anggap sekadar dapat "memuaskan" dalam sijil SPM sudah cukup dan ia tiada gunanya di Jepun. Ada yang sudah lupa kerana telah lama tinggal di luar negara. Kadang kala ada kesnya ditanya warganegara lain, kenapa orang Malaysia tidak boleh bertutur dalam BM? Ia amat menyedihkan dan memalukan.




    日本では伝統、パターン、ルーティンとかは大切にしていることは決して悪くはない。ただ、時代の変遷によって、変更しなければ存在ができなくなる可能性がある。それに、変更のタイミング、方針も非常に重要である。例えば、かつて音楽再生機の主流であったソニーWalkmanは、革新が遅れて今iPodの後ろに追いかけている状態になってしまう。同じくソニーのPlay Stationも、XBoxとの競争は真剣に取らないといけないと考えている。


    Lastly, just to clarify that I'm writing this from the perspective of a Malaysian in Japan. Multilinguistic isn't our privilege only, and in fact there are others who can speak more than we do, just look at the Europeans. Being multilingual isn't something we should be proud of, but most importantly how can one make full use of each languages to it's best potential.

    10 August 2014

    Don't Judge A Book By It's Cover

    No comments:
    Social network like Facebook has been making great impact in my life, as I've been able to get in touch with lots of friends. Even though I'm no in KL physically, I can more or less tell that my friends are doing pretty well back home, or perhaps somewhere else in the region.

    Some events such as graduation, getting a job, or even getting married (pretty common for mid-20s) are kinda common. Once in awhile, there's always element of surprise pops out.

    As years gone by, I am quite surprised to see that some of these friends that I used to looked down, are doing very well right now. My judgement back then, was flawed.

    Now, I can't help but to question myself over the perception I had towards these particular friends.

    Part of the story can be traced back in my secondary school times.

    SMJK Chong Hwa

    I wasn’t the kind of student that scores great results academically, but my involvement in various clubs & organizations made me a familiar figure among the school admins & teachers. I wouldn't say I was a pet student, but perhaps close to being one.

    Being in that position somehow made me slightly arrogant towards some others. I would tend to judge those trouble-makers as nuisance, and those who didn’t did well in the exam as pitiful ones and on extreme cases, hopeless. Because of that, I had conflict with some friends as I would tend to write them off with the “no-good” label. Elitism and arrogance is indeed, dangerous traits for a young man.


    However, today I’m thankful that even though we had troubles in the past, we managed to patch things up and remain as friends (albeit on Facebook). It's interesting to listen to their post-school stories and laughed at myself for my foolishness back then.

    The lesson of the day, is never ever judge someone too fast based on their current position (especially during school days), as one may take years to be defined or break through. The "bad" boys may one day be a successful businessman, and on the opposite side, a student with stellar results may not end up in a desired position (perhaps stressed out due to studying too much?).

    Here in Japan, I've came across with lots of different people as well. Again, the bad attitude did kicked in initially, but as I been through various phases, I think my attitude has improved gradually.

    Now, I reserve my first impression towards someone that I've get to know recently, and take a little bit of time to evaluate this particular person. Am trying not to jump into conclusion that quickly and give it some time. It's interesting that based on my own observation, people would change depending on whom they're interacting with.

    Here, I'd like to quote a Chinese idiom: "路遥知马力,日久见人心".
    It carries the meaning, "one will only know the horse's stamina as the route goes further; one will know someone's heart as day passes."

    Admitting that I'm not a perfect individual, I'm trying my best now to patch up the flaws. Right now, I enjoy getting to know other people in depth and trying to appreciate those few that some sort of "connects" together, for it's getting harder to find real friends at this age. :\

    03 August 2014

    First month getting into the job.

    1 comment:
    Just a short write up about my job. For the first month I'm grateful that everything has been going on pretty smoothly.

    Contra to friends' stories of workplace abuse by seniors, my colleagues are very nice and we get along pretty well. I only learn that I'm the first foreign employee in the company's Japan branch.

    As August is the hottest season in Tokyo, I'm glad that my company don't have any dress code restrictions and therefore we can wear anything to work (sans birthday suit of course).

    Shinjuku skyline view from the office.

    To put it simply, our company provides SEO service and consultation for clients.
    We have external and internal services.

    For external service, we assist the client to make their current website getting better search result ranking and increase in traffic (organically), as well as patch up the penalties from Google that dragged the client's search result ranking down.

    Currently I'm being tasked for the internal service side for building up SEO-friendly websites.
    It isn't something complicated, just maintaining WordPress blogs and try to tweak plugins here and there.

    Now that the dots has connected, that all the years of blogging (since 2004) can finally be put into a better use in my career. Of course, given the head start I'll be learning more stuffs in the near future.

    I shall continue to work and learn for the following few months, before consulting my boss to get better picture of the company's future plans. At the moment we're under transaction period, so I guess it's better to speak as the company settles down.

    My company is expanding to SEA in the near future, and Malaysia's being one of their consideration, and therefore I was hired. At the moment we don't have a timeframe when we'll setting up a new branch in Malaysia, the fastest could be next year, perhaps?

    29 June 2014

    Job Hunting in Japan

    No comments:
    I'm delighted to announce that I've landed a job in Tokyo, and will be start working from July onwards. Main job focus will be search engine optimization (SEO).

    Well, let me share something or two about my experience of job-hunting in Japan.

    1) It’s better to start early, but no harm to start later either.

    In Japan the job-hunting (就職活動) for university graduates started about a year before graduation, which means the final year will be busy with job-hunting and 4th (final) year projects/researches. In fact, the previous trend was such that students start looking for jobs at least 1.5 years before graduation. At the same time, it's a rather time-consuming process to go through the companies, attending the career seminars and interviews for many rounds...

    This may be slightly different than other countries.

    Back in Malaysia, the students either started few months before graduation, or few months after graduation (sabbatical vacation in between). The process is rather straight-forward with just a few interviews, compared to a norm of at least 3 or more rounds of interview per company in Japan.

    For my case, my plan changed drastically in the final year. Instead of further studying in Masters, I've decided to take a gamble and get into job-hunting.

    I started rather late, just a month before graduation in March. Went to close to 10 companies' interview before settling down at this IT venture at the end of May.

    For international students in Japan, we are entitled to apply for job-hunting visa (特定活動申請), as the name suggested for us to continue looking for job even after graduation. The duration given is half year, but extendable up to a year (eg: graduated in March 2014, but eligible to stay in Japan til March 2015).

    While it may seems to be a risky move, no harm give yourself a little more time to look for suitable companies. From my experience, small venture companies or non-Japanese companies have higher chance of hiring people all year round, unlike the usual period that most Japanese companies abide to.

    2) The advantage of a Malaysian student in Japan

    It's not just Malaysians only, but generally speaking South East Asian (SEA) students are being actively scouted and recruited by Japanese companies.

    With the current Japanese government's pro-SEA stance, more Japanese companies are eager to expand their business to the southern region instead of their closeby neighbours (due to political clashes obviously).

    Manufacturing plants in Thailand or Vietnam, and service hubs at Singapore or Malaysia.
    Cheaper cost, politically-stable and decent infrastructures are some of the main reasons of the SEA expansion.

    The Japanese companies like to hire SEA students, train them in Japan for a yew years, before sending them back to their home country to take on senior positions. My company is thinking the same as well. Some, will stay in Japan to work for longer terms.

    While this may not apply on every Malaysian students, the companies and general Japanese audiences are in awe of Malaysians' multilingual ability. We can, at least speak 3 languages: Malay, English, Japanese (we're studying in Japan after all), and some who're able to speak Chinese Mandarin too, made us versatile to adapt to work in different countries as we have lesser language barriers.

    Our linguistic skills are highly valued here, and therefore I suggest for anyone out there, try to brush up your languages if you can, especially Bahasa Malaysia heh.

    For now I shall leave it here with these 2 points.
    Perhaps after working for awhile, I shall post my experience of working a few months later.