Friday, February 22, 2013

Proud Achievement at Web Courses Bangkok

*Before I begin, I would like to encourage all of you to read till the end of the post as I have a surprise in store for you that you might like.*

I was never a good student. I achieved good grades, yes, but studying was always because it was something I could do well, or was a necessity, not because I wanted to. I frequently hear friends lamenting about how miserable they feel slogging in the real world and wished they were students all over again, but I am not one of them. I was more than happy to finally graduate and hoped never to become a student ever again (yeah.. I wish).

In a cruel twist of fate, I came to Thailand, and therefore had to attend Thai lessons (though this was mainly out of necessity). I must have been crazy then, to have agreed to attend Web Courses Thailand's Beginner Web Design Course when Carl gave me the call (my company was entering its peak season and I was also attending Thai lessons concurrently). Surprisingly, this stint as a student almost a decade after my graduation became my most refreshing learning experience for as long as I can remember!

Web Courses Bangkok, which has since moved to a bigger better place
First and foremost, it gave me the opportunity to judge for myself what an epic failure Bangkok's Airport Link is. Aside of every station being ginormous yet extremely inaccessible, it gave me an average waiting time of 20 minutes per train. Adding salt to wound, its supposed interchange with the MRT station had me walk in the open for more than 300m before arriving at the MRT station itself, crossing railway tracks in the process. I wonder how tourists with heavy luggages can manage transferring from the Airport Link to the MRT subject to weather conditions (ok, they can't). To attend each lesson, I would have had to take a car ride to the Airport Link, catch a train, cross railway tracks, cut through a MRT station and finally bypass a pier! I am happy to announce though, that since February 2013, Web Courses Bangkok has moved to their new improved location in Sathorn, so my route to a possible next course will be much more direct!

My simple but cosy classroom at the old campus

Secondly, if there was any module in University which I absolutely detested, it would have to be C Programming. Having grown up as a result-oriented student, I never failed to churn out decent results for most subjects during meaningful examinations until C Programming hopped along. No thanks to the hopeless lecturer, it became the only subject in my student-life that I did not care about failing. Due to this anti-programming sentiment adopted since my Uni days, I was pretty worried about how I would be able to manage this time round.

Fortunately, Carl turned out to be more of a friend guiding you along than a teacher. With his vast teaching experience and passion in the subject matter, he managed to make a previously impossible proposition (for me at least) look completely logical. However, it was not all plain sailing. On normal days, I could only find 5-7 hours of sleep, with this 16-hour course cramped in 11 days, I literally had to sacrifice almost entire nights of sleep going through his video tutorials and completing homework given. It was crucial I did so, otherwise it would be meaningless to attend the actual lessons.

Given my previous hatred in all-things-computing-language, making use of Photoshop for graphic design, then basic HTML 5, Cascading Style Sheet in Dreamweaver to successfully create a website from scratch and making it live within 2 weeks was nothing short of a miracle.

Thank you Carl, for making web design fun!
Though I need to learn a lot more before being able to construct a meaningful website, I believe that Web Courses Bangkok has equipped me sufficiently to begin coding journey on a proper note. More importantly, it has given me self-belief to mingle with HTML codes on my blog now to make subtle changes I previously would not have attempted. Because of that, I have plans to improve this page to provide a much more complete reading experience for readers like yourself. Stay tuned.

And because of Carl's LOVE for my humble blog and my LOVE for all of you who bothered to read till here, Web Courses Bangkok and Stranger in Bangkok will be giving everyone a 10% discount for any new course you sign up at Web Courses Bangkok. The ONLY thing you need to do to claim this offer is to mention the Stranger in Bangkok when you sign up. Can't get any easier than that ya? But yeah, if you don't mind, I would be very glad if you would like my Facebook page too (either through here or the nice little button on the top right-hand corner of my blog).

If you ask me, I feel that there are courses available to suit all your needs, and even if you are not in Thailand at the moment, you can seriously consider attending a course during one of your longer holidays here in the future, as the level of training is as good (or better than) as anything you can get in your home country, most likely at a more reasonable price (with additional discount on top!)

Proud achievement! 

Who knows, if you are REALLY lucky, you could end up becoming my coursemate. I assume that's an added incentive to sign up now!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Why Noah has made the world a better place (not the Marriage and Parenthood Package)

Many have spoken about the Singapore Government's improvements to the Marriage and Parenthood Package. Though late to join in, I have finally straightened my thoughts out sufficiently to give my views on this issue. Without going into the nitty gritty of the new perks designed to encourage procreation in Singapore (as most of them don't concern me anymore now that I am no longer there), I would like to raise both hands to celebrate the 7-day paternal leave given to Daddies. This is exactly the kind of pat on Daddies' backs that we (and our spouses alike) deeply appreciate.

As my wife is Singaporean, it would have been easy for me to enjoy the previously-lower baby bonuses by making Noah a Singaporean, but I chose to make him Malaysian instead (albeit all the difficulties). The most important reason for this is obviously because I am Malaysian, and with my close kins mostly rooted there, it should still be the place Noah considers his home. It would also be unfair for me to make the choice for him to serve Singapore's National Service (with all due respect) for the sake of a few thousand dollars at his birth, especially if he ends up spending the good part of his first 18 years in Thailand.

Furthermore, I do not believe that any amount of perks can help a couple make up their minds to have children. While the rewards are substantial, the joy (and life-long commitment) of parenting is not something that can be gauged, not to say 'bought', by mere dollars and cents.

Having become Daddy for a whole year now, I can confidently say that the pride of being Noah's father far outweighs that of any other award or trophy won throughout my last 30 years, simply because he has undoubtedly made the world a better place. Here's why:

  • Being in Thailand with no family support, Li Li and myself have technically shouldered the full responsibility of taking care of Noah. As a result, the ONLY people he terrorises and causes agony to are his parents (especially to his Mum, considering the physical trauma suffered during pregnancy and childbirth), but being the ever-biased Noahdaddy and Noahmummy, we do not take his occasional bad behaviour to heart and choose to channel the negative energy into love that we shower back onto him every single day. 
We are happy family

  • Similarly, everyone else in Thailand absolutely adores him. From colleagues, business associates, neighbours, friends, young and old, even most shopkeepers he pass by are mesmerised by his cuteness. A company manager has asked me to bring Noah to their office just for her staff to play with him. His cheerful personality means he can bring a smile to everyone's faces. The Land of a Thousand Smiles is literally becoming The Land of Infinite Smiles because of the presence of a certain Noah Yii.

Noah bringing even more smiles to the Land of Smiles

  • When Noah appears in Singapore or Malaysia, he will constantly be surrounded by the smiles of various relatives eager to give him a kiss. Unlike before, when everyone returns home from work lethargic before starting doing their own stuff, everyone has renewed energy once they see Noah prowling around. He has practically re-energized our families with bouts of unity and bonding. Priceless.

Noah with my family in Kuching for CNY 2013

  • Noah has given the old folks on our houses something to look forward to.
Noah with paternal great-grandmother
Noah with maternal great-grandmother

So you see.

That's why parenting is so magical.

That's why its such a joy to have kids and bring them up the proper way.

It's not because we can have perks or more zeroes in our bank accounts, but because our little ones have already made the world a better place.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Birthday Letters from Daddy - Part 3: The Warehouse Birthday Bash

Dear Noah

Daddy has been very busy recently, so I admit to having wanted to over-simplify your birthday activities. Luckily, Mummy thought otherwise and convinced me of the importance of giving you a proper celebration.

Having kiddy parties at a McDonald's function room might be nice, but it really is too common, so Mummy came up with the brilliant idea of giving you a Warehouse Birthday Bash, complete with a self-designed Safari-themed birthday banner. It can't get much more unique than that, can it?

Do you like the special banner designed for you by Mummy?

Aside of it being your first birthday, there were many other firsts during your party:

You had your first Birthday Cake

You had your first cake-cutting session after blowing out your first candle

You unwrapped and took out your first birthday present

You had your first taste of our favourite Larna Cake
I do not know how much of today's activities you can actually remember, but it really doesn't matter to us. Most importantly, we want you to experience as many pleasant new things as possible while enjoying yourself every step of the way.

Happy Noahmummy and Noah in front of the banner

Although your birthday is over, I want you to know that as long as you are together with Daddy and Mummy, our hearts will be filled to the brim with love, and everyday will be a special day worth waiting for.

I am looking forward to tomorrow already.

Noahdaddy aka Stranger in Bangkok

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Birthday Letters from Daddy - Part 2

Dear Noah

Though it is your birthday, you should never forget that it is on this day that your mother suffered probably the most life-threatening medical procedure in her life so far to bring you to this world.

The 9 months before that were not easy as well. You should know, because you were with her every inch of the way, but if you were too small to remember, Daddy remembers it very well.

The first trimester was a nightmare. Mummy puked everything she ate and slept the rest of the way, for nearly an entire 3 months. In the process, she had to help Daddy whenever she could to pack things so that we could move from our old office to our current condominium.

You were better to Mummy during her second trimester. We stomped around Bangkok together to eat as many nice things as possible, and even went to Hua Hin for a staycation with friends. It was during that time when Thailand faced its worst floods in 50 years, and we scraped through it unscathed. It is also why we decided to call you Noah, because you were our blessing during times of terrible floods.

Mummy started to have a slight pregnancy-induced complication towards her third trimester, which resulted in her needing to go under the knife on this day last year to safely deliver you. However, by doing that, she suffered great physical trauma, but still had to feed you at 2-hourly intervals in her painful condition.

Mummy loves you very much. She stays at home 24 hours a day to take care of you. Daddy needs to work and put food on the table, so although I try my best to spend as much time with you and Mummy as possible, it is inevitable that I spend nearly the entire day out.

So promise Daddy that you will be nice to Mummy, and help Daddy make her the happiest Thaitai in the world. Continue to laugh at will, and do not make Mummy angry by throwing unnecessary tantrums (which you are starting to do more and more). Be gentle with her, sayang her, not scratch her, leaving small scars all over.

Noahmummy and Noah
Two is always better than one. It's time for us, father and son, to work together to make Mummy feel like coming to Bangkok with us was the best decision she has ever made.

Noahdaddy aka Stranger in Bangkok

Friday, February 1, 2013

Birthday Letters from Daddy - Part 1

Dear Noah,

Today is your first birthday. Daddy woke up at 5am to ensure that a running tradition in the Yii family will start right from the beginning of your life journey.

Hard-boiled egg and delicious chicken soup with meesua
Your grandma never fails to make this for me during each of my birthdays. I bought a Kampung chicken and used the special springy meesua from Sibu to cook this. Although a dash of sesame oil and chinese wine will make it taste even more authentic, I decided to forgo them this time so that it will be more suitable for you to have your first taste of this birthday dish. I am glad you appeared to enjoy it, Daddy and Mummy certainly enjoyed our much bigger portions. I believe that in the future, no matter how busy you are, you will always remember to rush home to have this with us during your birthday and feel our love in your heart.

Noah happily playing with his red egg
Mummy dyed the egg red for the occasion. Surprisingly, you did not seem to enjoy eating hard-boiled egg as much as the meesua. In this case, you are very much like your mum. When you are ready, I will make sure your eggs have a gooey molten yolk in the centre, just like your mum enjoys them.

Items for Noah to pick
Before Daddy left for work, we decided to go ahead with the item-picking game that both your great-grandparents encouraged us to play. It was supposed to give an indication of your possible occupation in the future.

You will have your own interests, and Daddy will give you all the freedom you want to pursue your true love. However, deep inside, after looking at the items, I quietly hoped that you will either pick the chopsticks (and become a gourmet I always wanted to be) or the drums, because I said to your mum before, "If Noah wants to be a drummer in the future, I want him play drums for Yanni".

I initially planned to take a picture of your crawling towards the items, but your moves were swift like a jaguar. Before I could even set the camera properly, you have already made your choice.

Did you guess it right, it was the 1000THB note.

I hope you will earn enough to not have to worry about life's basic necessities, but money is not the most important thing in the world. I would rather you spend your efforts loving the people around you and making them feel that you have been a blessing in their lives. That is why we called you Noah, because he was down-to-earth, God-fearing, and was the beacon of light in a time of darkness, and a savior during the great floods.

I am also deeply concerned that you will become a cashier or bank teller, but never mind, it's ok, even if it happens, Daddy will still love you all the same.

Just make sure you become the World's Best Teller.

Noahdaddy aka Stranger in Bangkok

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