Recently, a video of 11 years old Yemeni girl whi decided to fight against her family in marrying her off went viral ( She brought up the subject that most of us did not want to hear nor acknowledged. That despite we are living in 21st century, not all women are given equal opportunities to pursue their dreams and to be educated. This case especially true to a greater extent in certain countries, such as Yemen and India, of which the latter had been heavily criticized due to a case of young women brutally raped in a bus.

As hurtful to read, this fact needs our attention. According to UN, in many countries, gender inequality persists, and women continuously facing discrimination in regards to education access, work, economic asset, and participation in the government.  A clear example would be, that in developing countries, fewer women hold secure jobs than men, often in rather small benefits.

Moreover, in some countries, even fewer percentage of women continue their secondary education than their male classmates. Their chance to education is often exacerbated due to poverty.  In addition, violence against women and limited efforts from government to improve women’s living conditions just make the matter worse. This needs to change.

We need to acknowledge women’s critical role in local economies and well-being of the families, by providing them equal access to education and eradicate gender disparities.

According to, educated women are more likely to have fewer children. They also tend to immunize their children much often. HIV/AIDS spread is also much less within women with some schooling than those without.

Improving maternal health will resulted in increasing women’s capacity to work and generating income. Thus, will help overcoming poverty. Therefore, it is critical to build self-confidence, educate and empower young girls who live in poverty to enable them make informed decisions about their lives and those of their communities. To enable them fight what its wrong and not silently accepting deep-rooted gender discrimination in their society.

So, what we should do to unleash women’s potential? 

First, combating poor nutrition which often faced by pregnant women in developing countries. Lack of nutrition often make child’s brain does not developed completely. By providing iodized salt (a frugal product at a cost of couple pennies per person per annum), we can make girls smarter! 🙂

Secondly, keep the girls in school! Provide donations in form of scholarship for girls to make them stay in school and get education that they desperately want. Do not let their (often) dysfunctional family take them away from school. A girl who gets an education often will have fewer children, earn more money and will be able to help their family and younger siblings.

Third, empowering women to fully participate in economic activities. One successful initiative is conducted by KIVA and grameen bank where they provide micro-loans for woman to start their own business. By doing so, they enable women to feed their children and afford for their education. A cycle that move us one step closer to poverty eradication.

Forth, fight for any gender discrimination,  including those that are done by ourselves unconsciously or by our societies. Even us, women, tend to undermine the full potential of women to excel at her work or as a leader. We should embrace other female colleagues and support each other in unleashing our potential. This can be achieved through knowledge sharing, providing mentorship as well as encouragement. We should keep in mind that when it comes to achieving objectives and result realization, gender does not matter!

We as a women, are the most responsible for eliminating any gender disparities which exist today! If we didn’t act, it won’t changed!

If you like exploring various cultures, and quite open-minded to try understanding different point of view or cinematic art, here is some of the movies you should watch! 🙂 (Why? Because just watching Hollywood movie  is too mainstream :p)

1. Red Cliff 

Red cliff tells a part of the “romance of three kingdom” (208-209 A.D.) where the decisive battle held between Cao Cao’s army versus the coalition of Sun Quan and Liu Bei. Featuring our master of strategy “Zhuge Liang” (which i am still greatly admired due to his amazingly brilliant strategy) and Zhao Yu, this epic naval battle movie is not to be missed! Directed by John Woo, you will be entertained with fascinating visual effects, involving  plot which hard to be guessed on who will eventually win the battle and thrill that wont make you leave your seat. One of the most memorable scene is when they executed the war strategy which was inspired by the turtle’s shell pattern.

2. Ichi ritoru no namida (1 Litre of tears) 

This tv series is live up to its name, because you will definitely going to have 1 litre of tears when watching this entire series. The series tell a story about Aya, a 15 years old girl who was diagnosed with an incurable degenerative disease but still live to her fullest until her time is up…. 😦 As series progressed, we watched her struggles become harder and harder.. but, her remarkable spirit to fight the disease is truly inspiring. It is definitely one of the movie that we should watch to remind ourselves, that does not matter how hard life is, we should always give our best and say yes to life.

3. Death Note 

Taken from a manga with same title, Death Note tells a story about shinigami (God of death) who dropped his book of death (Death Note) in purpose to earth. The book fell into Raito, a 17th year old high school boy. Later on, Raito became “Kira” (Killer – in japanese language) and use the book to execute criminals, in the name of justice. Death note grants its owner with the ability to kill anyone whom they know the name and the face by writing the name in the book and picturing the face of their target. The movies centered around Kira’s effort to clean the world and his fight against L, a world class detective, who tried to stop him. Definitely a mind-blowing cat-and-mouse game, this trilogy is a must-to-see!

There are many more recommended movies to watch from East Asia, such as Sichinin no samurai, Hero, Crouching tigers hidden dragon, Taekgukgi, Tonari no totoro, Il Mare, and A moment to remember (eraser in my head), and many more….

Guten nacht 😉

PS: feel free to suggest other great movie from those countries and any other countries! I am an avid movieholic and would be more than happy to watch your suggestion 🙂

Malaysia has many holidays. In fact, along with China and Egypt, they have the most number of public holidays in a year. As such, when i was doing my summer internship in KL,  i was lucky to have long weekend couple times and able to explore other touristic places nearby in South East Asia. Amongst that was Vietnam to reunite with my best-friends from previous work who now lives spread all over the place.  While there, i visited the following:

1. Hoi An 

Hoi An is located in south central coast of Vietnam. It is a well preserved trading port that raise to prominence in 15-19th century. An ancient town which its building and street plans reflect the mixing influences of many different settlement there (Japanese, Chinese, Dutch, Indians and indigenous people of Champa kingdom), Hoi An is one of the world-heritage site recognized by UNESCO.

The best way to explore Hoi An is through cycling (around 15-20 minutes from the hotel by the beach – yeap, they also have beaches nearby). Some of the hotels were actually provide opportunity for its guest to borrow the bike from the hotel and use it the whole day, free of charge.  The only thing that we need to be careful of is the chaotic traffic. It was not full with car but rather motorcycle who honk at almost each time. The key is to relax, and ignore it. Just let them pass.

In Hoi An, we can visit numerous temple with striking colours and heavily influenced with Chinese architecture. We can also take a walk along the riverside and try the infamous Vietnam coffee. Here in Vietnam, drinking coffee is big habit, almost similar like the way the Turkish drink tea. Everywhere you go you will find coffee shop. It is mostly served cold and very tasty.

Hoi An riverside

One of the ancient temple in Hoi An

The bridge over the river is  decorated with colorful lanterns

The bridge over the river is decorated with colorful lanterns

The bridge that connect to the Japanese settlement

The bridge that connect to the Japanese settlement

The dragon statue in front of one temple

The dragon statue in front of one temple

The ancient town of Hoi An

The ancient town of Hoi An

Another famous thing from Hoi An is its lantern and crafts-making. The street in ancient town was dotted with many lantern-makers, crafts made from roots and paintings from rice. We can also bought ceramics with interesting designs.

While we are here, we also try the delicious beef rice noodle soup called “Pho”.  Other noodle dishes also worth-trying. In addition, you should also go for a massage. My friends and i experienced 1-hour massage and to be honest it was probably one of the best massage i had that year. Compared to Thai massage? They are better (sorryyyy….) !!

A woman making lantern

A woman making lantern

Colorful lanterns that is sold in Hoi An

Colorful lanterns that is sold in Hoi An

Handy-craft made from tree's roots

Handy-craft made from tree’s roots

Superbly delicious dry noodle 🙂

Scenery at Hoi An

Scenery at Hoi An

2. Mỹ Sơn 

Located quite close to Hoi-An (like 4 hours driving), Mỹ Sơn is a place worth visiting. Its a ruin of Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva that built between 4th – 14th century AD by the Champa kingdom. Its valley was used as a religious ceremonial site and also as burial to the Champa’s royalties and heroes.  Once, it was even consisted of 70 temples and numerous stele bearing historically critical sanskrit and Cham. Unfortunately, large proportion of its architecture was destroyed by US carpet bombing during the initial period of Vietnam war.

Mỹ Sơn - an UNESCO world heritage site

Mỹ Sơn – an UNESCO world heritage site

The ruins in My Son

The ruins in My Son

At certain hour, they conduct a show of traditional Champa’s dances and music exhibition. Its quite beautiful and fascinating performance. One of the dance required the performers to hold a vase on their head without losing balance and made the vase stays put.

Traditional Champa dance performed in My Son

Traditional Champa dance performed in My Son

Musicians performed the traditional Champa song

Musicians performed the traditional Champa song

3. Da Nang 

Da Nang is a famous beach resort (Non Nuoc beach) and entertainment center in Vietnam. Its proximity to numerous UNESCO world heritage site (the imperial city of Hue, ancient town of Hoi An and My Son ruins) make it a perfect hub to be visited. It is also the home of Marble Mountain, a rocky limestone outcrops situated out of the beach. In this mountain there are numerous pagodas built by Nguyen Dynasty among the caves. Its also dotted with many artisans producing marble and jade sculptures.

The temple's main gate at Marble Mountain

The temple’s main gate at Marble Mountain

The rooftop architecture is heavily influenced with China's culture

The rooftop architecture is heavily influenced with China’s culture

The front-altar in one of the pagoda at Marble mountain

The front-altar in one of the pagoda at Marble mountain

One of the many caves in Marble mountain

One of the many caves in Marble mountain

Non Nuoc beach as seen from the top of Marble Mountain

Non Nuoc beach as seen from the top of Marble Mountain

The God of Wealth sculpture made from marble

The God of Wealth sculpture made from marble

4. Ho-Chi Minh City

Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh city is the largest city in Vietnam. Its derived its name from the Vietnamese communist leaders. The city is adorned with elegant boulevards and French-colonial buildings. As such, there are many historical buildings can be visited here. Amongst them are the city hall, reunification palace, opera house, and Notre dame cathedral.

Ho Chi Minh city hall

Ho Chi Minh city hall

Statue of one Vietnam hero

Statue of a Vietnam hero

French-colonial building in Ho Chi Minh

French-colonial building in Ho Chi Minh

Daily portrait of Ho Chi Minh's street

Daily portrait of Ho Chi Minh’s street

So, thats all my first trip to Vietnam. I am still missing some key places to be visited, such as the sand dunes Mui Ne (also a famous beach resort), Ha Long Bay, Thien Duong Cave (31 km long!!) and  imperial city of Hue.

Of all seasons, i love winter the most. Its chill weather, wind breeze and pretty snow, which sometimes exhibit astonishing shape of flake, always make me feel at ease and happy. Unfortunately, although i am very much a winter person (in and out), i was not able to enjoy doing a winter sport. At least, until this year 🙂

Its all traced back to 6 years ago, when i was living in Japan. I went skiing for the first time, with my friends to Yamagata. A famous ski resort that often called “the snow monster”. The place was amazingly beautiful! But.. when i tried ski for the first time, my friends took me to the highest peak and of course, since both of them were pro, i was left behind.. Alone! I had to fall so many times, even hit a tree just to go down to the cable car point.  And just at the time when i felt so relieved that i able to reach a safe haven, i met my friend in the cable car who insisted to take me up again and tried one more time. I was horribly suck at this sport, that the resort guard had to take me in their snowmobile as its getting dark.

Since then, i have a mix feeling towards skiing which is really annoying as i love winter so much but not able to enjoy the winter sport. Its like, admitting that you are a Korean but allergic to kimchi. Sort of..  :p  As such, i was putting on my bucket list, one additional item: making peace with winter sport!

So, when i got a chance to try again skiing with my friends from the master program at Zell Am See (Austria), i took it albeit my fear of height or an uneasy feeling towards skiing.  Turn out, when i tried skiing again, i was still suck! I could not break, and i got scared as a cat when they are going to be put into bath tub.

However, my friends managed to convince me to try snowboarding instead. Boy, it was a great advise. Doing snowboarding, it was easier to brake and pace the speed as you like. If you felt that the slope was doing their own thing, and you kinda lose control with your board, you just need to lean backward and sit. It will break immediately. Although, your butt will be flattened and hurt after numerous fall :p

Although indeed it was very tiring to do (as to stand firmly in your snowboard you need to continuously balancing your weight and manage breaking), i am so glad that i gave it a try. And i was so lucky to have nice friends who were patience enough to teach me and accompany me to stand up once more every time i fell :p In the end, i fell in love with snowboarding and Zell Am See.  The place is strikingly beautiful, as can be seen in the picture below. I was so glad i finally make peace with winter sport 🙂


One thing though.. Zell Am See has a blue track to go to the bottom of City Express start point where the path was very narrow and surrounded by pine trees or cliff at both side. It was very difficult to manage the snowboard as its speed up way more than i like to, and i got chickened out. Especially since i have a bit phobia towards height :p So, i was walking down the slope, borrowing the ski sticks of my friend. Guess it was a good decision as on the way we saw a girl having a ski accident, perhaps broke or twisted her arm.

Anyway, this trip is not going to be the only snowboard trip in my life, but its just the beginning of many snowboard experience ahead (finger crossed!!). Hopefully, next i will be more confident on my snowboard and move like Mike Jagger on it :p  And would be super cool if next, as crossing the other item on my bucket list, i will be able to make peace and face fear of height! Perhaps skydiving? or bungee jumping? 😉 As a wise man said, “when dying, your life flash before your eyes. Make sure it is worth watching. Live, like you are dying!”

I read a book by Izzeldin Abuelaish, entitled “I Shall Not Hate”, which described by Sunday Times as ‘a remarkable study of compassion, and of daily life in the Gaza strip’. It was one of the most powerful and moving notes i had ever read regarding exceptional humanity, and one’s ability to forgive. The following is the summary of his extraordinary life’s journey.

Izzeldin Abuelaish, was amongst one of the Palestinians that have to live in Gaza strip, following the Israel’s state declaration. Living day-to-day under extreme poverty and worry to feed their little brothers and sisters, he had grown to be a strong-willed boy, hungry for education to lift up his family. When he was 15 years old, he then worked at a israeli’s jewish farm where he experienced warm welcome, and came to understand that there are more similarity than differences between Palestinian and Israelis. That peace and coexistence are things that desired by both and its possible to be reached. Soon thereafter, he then witnessed the destruction of houses instructed by Ariel Sharon to widen the road for the tanks to patrol.

Despite all the misfortune, he managed to get a medical education in Egypt, even goes further to pursue study in Harvard.

Although most of the world has heard of Gaza strip, but only few really knew what its like to live here, blockaded, impoverished that span on period over decades. Abuelaish provides view of daily life in Gaza and tells remarkable story of how he became first Palestinian doctor that works in Israeli hospital. Abuelaish has devoted his life for medical purpose, helping everyone who needs it, despite their origin. Whether they are Palestinian or Israelis.

Unfortunately, recently in 2009, three of his daughters were killed by shells fired directly to their bedroom. The events were shocking as Abuelaish was well-known to the Israelis.  His eye-witness reports for Israeli TV was heartbreaking and eye-opener.  Despite his great lost, he refused to hate or commit a revenged. Instead, he hoped for common understanding and co-existence as a means to counter violence and bloodshed. His hope is that his daughters will be “the last sacrifice on the road to peace between Palestinians and Israelis”.

This book is a great read and great example of a man’s character. As honest as it is, sometimes its often painful to read. The characters has shown a great strength to endure all the pain and losses without thinking for a revenge or hate.  A definite must read to understand the conflict in Gaza strips and what we should do to end it. Not with hatred, but rather, common understanding and embrace co-existence… Hopefully both Palestinian and Israeli leaders read this book and got to their common sense on not to provoke wars and increasing death toll, but rather, to seek for peace….

Lately my weeks was not the best. Thousand meetings with different groups and characters to finish tons of tasks, coupled with other bunches of self-reflection, unexpected disappointment as well as confusion regarding what i really want to do in the future had made my days as gloomy as Glasgow’s weather. And.. it sucks!! as suck as Glasgow weather which is cloudy with a 99% kiss-goodbye chance to the sunny day.

Though i am suspecting that the hormonal activity graph may play parts in this soaking-blue situation, i guess the main reason of my unreasonable feeling was more because of the uncertainty of the future. So many things i want to try yet i am clueless as prioritizing what really matters for me.

Thankfully, an unexpected encounter with a portrait of poverty in Glasgow had gave me the slap in the face. A wake up call to stop worrying and get to the bottom of my utmost desire, which is to be useful for other.. (fingercrossed…). This encounter made me remembered one advise from my friend who (might) found my bitterness and gloominess last week as annoying as Sadako (from The Ring).  He said “happiness is depend on how you choose the way you look at life. You might be filthy rich but still feel sad or.. you might not have anything, but you are grateful to every second on your life”.

I found this video in Youtube which really sweet and captured exactly the essence of my friend’s advise..

So now..   though my days might be crappier, i will try to see it differently 🙂  Quoting the invictus poem, “I am the captain of my soul, i am the master of my fate”. Its all coming back to us to decide whether we will be happy.. or not..

In addition..  We have issues, but there are bigger issues than ours. We have problems, but yet.. there much bigger problems out there..

here is one video to raise our awareness of the poverty in the world.


We might be no-one, but we can be one to help others..

Ive been dying to find a time for writing my latest travel  experience visiting Lombok Island, because this destination is amazing!! .  A neighboring island to Bali, it shares similar cultural heritage with a spin-off.  Home to more than 3 million people, the island inhabitants are 85% of “Sasak” people, whose origins might had migrated from Java Island over thousands year ago. Though culturally and linguistically Lombok is quite close to Bali, the majority of its population is a moslem and the landscape are dotted with mosque and minarets, making it infamously called “Island of 1000 mosques”.

Once arrived at the airport, we were welcomed with mountainous view and breezing winds. Then, we went for a lunch at one of the famous local restaurant, which served amazing grilled squid and plecing kangkung – stir-fried vegetables with fish-based and peanuts sauce. The finishing touch itself was also superb. A fresh-sliced of mixed fruits, including star-fruit, papaya, and pineapple.

  Grilled squid and plecing kangkung – a traditional food of Lombok

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