Saturday, January 31, 2015

Budak Malaysia Balik Malaysia

I'm back in Malaysia!

After nearly 2 years out of UTAR to explore the world, I am finally back to school to continue with my bachelor degree. With almost all my peers graduating in this semester, I need to reconnect with all the younger juniors and get into different classes than my friends. It has proved to be challenging and exciting, knowing new people with some of them staring weirdly because I am too old to be in those classes. hah.

Transitioning back, I find that the brilliant minds in UTAR can use some improvement towards their facility. I suggest the following few:

1. Get the air-conditioning working properly.
2. Get the toilets and washrooms working properly.
3. Get the overhead projectors working properly.
4. Get the notes for the whole semester, or at least for the next month, uploaded in advance.
5. Get the staff to speak proper English.
6. Get some proofreading for the articles published in the student portal.
7. Get the staff to actually reply emails, and I mean not 1 month later.
8. Hire lecturers that are actually competent and relevant.
9. Get your shit together.

Some lecturers really need to stop wasting everybody's time, including their own. Dr. Lim put it succintly, "if my lecture notes are the same as my lecture, you better sleep at home."

I am sure I can just bear through the whole process to get my degree certificate. I just wonder if I will burn my brain going through numerous ridiculous lectures every week.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

#ExperienceBosch - Experience the World

Never have I ever imagined that I will get to travel around the world in my twenties, let alone fully sponsored. After all, I come from a modest family and I studied locally in Malaysia. But fate always have a way to play things out. Zairynn, the lady from Bosch Malaysia whom I knew through the Bosch Innovate around My Campus in UTAR, was in the panel of interviewers for the Bosch World Experience. She immediately recognized me credits to my distinctive curly hair and unmistakable black rim glasses.

Finally found a good use for my curly hairs!

That, presumably together with my shameless attempt at bad jokes to Karo and Tobi (both also on the panel), made me stand out as a suitable candidate to make the 18-day whirlwind around-the-world tour enjoyable.

I was still skeptical when I boarded the plane to our first destination - London. Will they kidnap me half way? Is this all an email scam from some “African Prince” promising fortune and love? What happens if they find out I used up all my bad jokes? Most importantly, do they have WiFi?!

IMG_20140720_144638 Given how exorbitant London cabs are, I figure my kidney must be invaluable if they hire a chauffeur in Mercedes-Benz to pick me up just to butcher me.

We got to visit the most iconic bridge in London with its blue and gray - the Tower Bridge. Built in the 1800s, it is now a major way across the Thames apart from the familiar London Bridge. Bosch Rexroth powers the hydraulic system that lifts the leaves of this bascule bridge. Guided by the engineers, we had a tour visiting the engine rooms, the old defunct control room and also a big space for the end of the leaves to flip in when the bridge is open.

The London Eye is a great spot to view the scenery along Thames River. There was a long line of tourists and locals wanting to go up and enjoy the breathtaking view of London. On the top, you can almost feel the history of London with its myriad of cultures and customs seeping into you. By the way, London Eye is also powered by Bosch Rexroth!


We also dined at the Shard, Europe's tallest building. Everyone was just stunned by the beauty from the top of the Shard, not to mention the fine cuisines they serve. This is just the first stop! Can they top it off? (answer: yes!)
Of course I have to take a photo before we eat!

The Panama Canal is considered one of the World's greatest engineering wonder. We were fortunate enough to visit it during its centennial. Imagine cutting through Central America to link the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean - 100 years ago! With the incredible scale and humid weather, add together with the endemic mosquitoes, Panama has gone through many hardships to construct this megastructure.

Staring from the tower in between two chambers at the Miraflores lock towards the Pacific Ocean, I cannot help but wonder how far can human defy nature? How will we shape our civilization? The grandiosity of this 100-year old man-made wonder stunned me. I am convinced if we put our hearts to it, we can achieve the (seemingly) impossible. Very encouraging to fuel my craziest dream.
If we can do this 100 years ago, colonization of Mars does not seem so distant anymore.

Juxtaposed next to this man made wonder is the wealth of natural wonders. Nothing can top my excitement whenever I mention the whale watching trip out to Pearl Island. We were so fortunate when 4 whales breached out in front of us, around 50 meters away. The grace and beauty of that creature took our breath away. Even the accompanying guide took out his phone to capture the moment, and you know that moment is rare because he goes out to the sea almost everyday!

San Francisco
After staying nearby at Berkeley for nearly a month before leaving for Malaysia this summer, I am no stranger to The City by The Bay. The metaphorical Silicon Valley is here with its crazy rate of companies popping up and crazy capitals raised by startups (read Uber). One thing everyone noticed is how comfortable the breeze and temperature in SF are! It was a great relief from the hot and humid weather in London and Panama. Cannot believe they told me the weather is like that in Germany and The Netherlands too, but I digress.

I jumped in joy like a boy with his toy when we visited Bosch Research and Technology Center in Palo Alto. Not everyday you get to try out Automated Vehicles and learn about augmented reality!

I even did my own robot signature.

It was also a great time talking to all the researchers in Bosch RTC and listen to their perspective about technology and future. In one of the dinners, one of the researchers told us her rationale and decision of moving from a fast pace startup to Bosch. It paints a better picture when get to pick their brains on current and developing technologies as well as understand their human side of things.

The hilly San Francisco made e-Bikes the best form of transportation. We rode across the Golden Gate Bridge effortlessly passing by the Golden Gate Park. The infamous fog came in right after we reached the vista point but we managed to snap many obligatory tourist shots with the Bridge.

The additional tailwind given by Bosch system on the Haibike allowed me to take over professional bikers on the trail. "How did you do that?!", one particular biker dressed professionally shouted in disbelief when I, the skinny, untrained unfit kid in sweater and jeans, took over him going uphill. I can only muster a sinister smile while Karo apologetically said "sorry, he's on an eBike!". Well, now you know so go sell your kidney to get this crazily great eBike powered by Bosch!


Growing up with Hong Kong movies and dramas depicting the grandiosity and poise of Shanghai, I am just filled with anticipation to visit China. Ethnically Chinese, I crave to step on the land where my ancestors left for a greener pasture, at the same time imagine myself going through the footsteps of my great-grandparents. Thanks to BWE, Shanghai became my first encounter with China.


We were welcomed by skyscrapers flooding the land of Shanghai to the edge where your eyes can see. Tall apartments, well organized, house most of the people here. A small unit in most apartments can cost 1 Million US Dollar, no kidding. I can almost see the stories of children fighting for the heritage house from their parents, as mostly painted in Chinese soap dramas, playing in front of me when I stare at the buildings.

For most of the explorers, it was their first time in China. I had a great time explaining to them differences in mentality, culture and upbringing background in hopes of demystifying many stereotypes of the locals. YanRu of course felt like home as she is from HangZhou, a mere hour away from Shanghai.

The Chinese dinner, the hotpot with the Chinese students, the visit to Yu Garden, the random mister trying to take photos with us and the Chinese accent are highlights to most of the explorers. The Bosch HQ in China was humongous spanning more than 3 big buildings. IMG_20140801_204723 Looking at two Gwailous using the chopstick made my day.

Also, Shanghai World Financial Center (locally known as the bottle opener) has Bosch's speaker system in place!

Back to home sweet home South East Asia. Singapore is Malaysia's overachieving twin, always having more bragging rights in front of relatives. Even though my grandparents stay half an hour away from Singapore, I have only visited this (supposedly) world's second smallest island country once and had a pleasant experience.

The brief 1-night stayover meant that we had limited time to tour around. Tina our super babysitter did her magic again and got us landed on the night where it was Singapore National Day rehearsal. Sipping wine on top of Marina Bay Sands, watching the full rehearsal with the city skyline in front of us, we toast to our magnificent journey through 3 continents.

The next morning we got to Bosch's South East Asia HQ and got to know its involvement in Internet of Things, the touted next big thing. Of course all our hearts were waiting for our ride on the electrical vehicles. Not surprising, I fit into the back of Smart Fortwo comfortably. Now Katharina can drive around Germany with me in her car boot!

What differentiates electrical vehicles from conventional cars, aside from the obvious zero exhaust, is the acceleration. Without a gear box, an electric vehicle implements a linear acceleration. For example, the Nissan Leaf goes from 0 to 100 km/h in 11.5 seconds. We throttled and stepped on the gas pedal stretching the maneuvering capability and stability in the confines on Bosch Singapore. I had real fun but the staff sitting next to me showed his concerns about my driving ability vividly on his terrified expression. Sorry! :P

The end marks the beginning. Germany, where Robert Bosch started it all, was our last destination on this world trip. We head to Berlin and visited the Robert Bosch Stiftung - one of the leading German foundations that is known for its promotion of natural and social sciences. The first time I researched about Bosch, I was fascinated by how a Fortune 100 has 92% of its capital stock held by a non-profit foundation.

Sandra Breka from the Foundation gave us an introduction to the work that the foundation do, ranging from grant-making to operational projects in health, science and international relations. They even have their own hospital. I find it impressive that it contributes to many peace-making initiatives in conflict areas around the world, including those Bosch do not have a commercial presence.

Berlin has come up as one of the startup capitals in Europe with its bustling youth and technology scene, despite a war-ridden history just about 30 years ago. There is so much to learn from Germany about their rise to an arguably powerful world player in recent years. My tour around Berlin gave me a sense that Germans are willing to accept their horrible past and capitalize it as a catalyst for growth and acceptance. This is obvious from the international crowd presence in Berlin where you hear languages and accents from around the world, similar to metropolitan around the world.

Bosch World Experience gave me a view on the world of hardcore engineering and its global impacts. Without a doubt, many engineering wonders and advancements are done discreetly without the hoo and haas. Unlike sexier commercial products, Bosch strictly follows its motto of "invent for life", which has 2 meanings to it: invent for the advancement of human civilization, and products durable for a lifetime. This sometimes may lead to lesser media exposure, which may not expose the great work the company does. I have a better image of Bosch and that is also why I want to intern there to fully experience their working culture.

While the 6 of us Explorers got the lifetime chance to travel around the world, many do not have this privilege and I want to share my adventures with them too. Look out for blog posts coming up for each dedicated city soon!~

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

21 things in 21 years

I figure it is apt that I write a reflection inspired by my very #powah senior Wilson Beh about the 21 things that influenced me in 21 years of my life.

Reflection can be a great way to look back and look forward to greater and happier memories too.
All photos taken from FB with no regards of copyright because I am a badass Malaysian.

Without further ado, here's the list in no particular order:

1. Graduated SPM with straight As (not A+s!) and fail to land an overseas scholarship

Graduated high school with a less than perfect result, but gained so much more from the time I dedicated with the Student Union, the Debate Team, the leadership camp teams and amazing friends from diverse backgrounds. The screenshot above is the epitome of my high school - grand, colourful, and objected by the school authority.

2. Landing a full scholarship in UTAR

Landing a scholarship in UTAR means I can end my high school journey by heading to college, albeit in essence the culture is not so different. This is also where I met fellow students who are pursuing their dreams as hard as they could.

Getting into UTAR also marks my involvement in competitions and contests regardless of fields.

3. Amazing 3 years in Kuching

The years in Kuching totally transformed me into a different person. A city boy, I can never forget the warmth and hospitality of Kuchingites and since built a lifelong relationships with mates from the town of cats, and am keeping lots of them close to heart.

4. Losing HSBC Young Entrepreneur Challenge

Losing the competition even though I thought we had a really strong idea gave me another perspective: the one that judges look for. Since then, I know competitions may not emulate real life, and you can manoeuvre yourself in the system. The defeat also sparked my grit to improve my presentation skills and triggered my determination to excel.

5. Winning National Champion of Schneider Electric GGiTC, Winning ASEAN Champion of Procter&Gamble ABC, Winning Bayer BYEE
From environmental and energy resource competitions,

to business case competitions,

To study tour in Germany...

It is crazy  to think about what I did over the year, with so many great relationships forged and many lands (both literally and metaphorically) trotted. These experiences broaden my world view and exposed me to knowledge I did not know of.

6. 2-year Chairman in IET UTAR Student Chapter + winning Best Student Chapter Award
With the help of amazing committee members and consistent work, we managed to bring IET UTAR to a better level. I am proud of my student chapter and we even got the President of UTAR to send us a congratulatory letter!

7. Getting into The Otak-Otak Program
The most amazing bunch of people I have met. The program intends to attract young talents to come back and serve the country, and through it I got to know crazily talented and smart people that are definitely the future leaders.

I was able to have a sneak peak of their world through their eyes. Most of them come from a background so different from mine, yet with a common goal of hoping the best for our country.

8. Interning for the first time in Malaysia's most promising local startup - MyTeksi

My half technical half business internship with MyTeksi was my chance to gain an insight into the tech startup industry in Malaysia, a field that highly interest me as my future career.
Needless to say, Eu Gene and the MyTeksi team blew me away with their trust of delegating tasks to me. I learned so much, not just technical knowledge but also business analysis skills, from this great team.
Now operating in major South East Asia cities, MyTeksi/GrabTaxi is growing in crazy speed!

9. First trip out of Malaysia - Bangkok
Got my passport, booked my first international flight, and here I was in Bangkok for my first international travel.

Going with my "Hengdais" and enjoyed the trip thoroughly. We shopped at Pratunam, "toured" Soi Cowboy and admired the Royal Palace.
This kickstarted my wanderlust!

10. Landing a US Scholarship to University of Wyoming for 1 year
Saw snow for the first time, lots of it...

Realizing my dream of studying in USA...

The bunch of friends in U of Wyoming...

The land of football, hamburgers and opportunities.

11. Skied, snow sled and made a snow angel for the first time
Tried skiing for the first time at Loveland, CO

Caught in a snowstorm together with Malaysians!

And buried in snow! 

There's just so so much of snow here in the midwest. I still remember the first time I saw snow, I was staring at it for 10 minutes before realizing I was shaking in the cold!

12. Celebrated Thanksgiving, Halloween, New Year and Easter in USA
The huge turkey!

I will definitely remember the Thanksgiving spent with The Ryden Family. Thank you Dylan and his family for the warm hospitality!

Managed to dress up as M&Ms with my shoestring budget Halloween costume!

The amazing ISA team, and numerous other celebrations on campus!

13. New Year's eve in New York City - The Big Apple

They say you have to do it at least once in your lifetime. I did it!
After 5 hours of standing and waiting in the cold, the countdown was somewhat disappointing with fairly average fireworks.
Good thing was some kind souls were giving out free pizzas and we got some of them!

14. Visited Silicon Valley's Apple, Google, eBay, PayPal
Me posing with the full-electric Tesla Model S!

With the help of a fellow Malaysian, I was able to tour around eBay, PayPal, Apple and Google at the epicenter of Silicon Valley.
Hopefully I will be able to work here or in the tech sector in the future!
Apple 1 Infinite Loop!

15. Gambled in Las Vegas
Awesome friends...

in the City of Sins... Nuff said!

16. Met & chat with a Olympic Gold Medallist and a Nobel Peace Prize winner
Nobel Peace Prize winner - Professor Muhammad Yunus

Olympic Gold Medallist - Billy Mills

Though our encounter was brief, I am contend that I made conversations with people who have persisted through hardship and contributed substantially to the world.

17. First step foot on Europe - Cologne, Germany
The city of Cologne!

My third continent - conquered!

At a world-class EUFA stadium, and we got VIP access!

Amazing field trip with Bayer around Leverkusen, with envoys from around 25 countries!

Words cannot describe my excitement stepping foot in Germany under the sponsorship of Bayer. I literally was jumping in joy after I was told I got selected the morning after a midnight interview through Skype.

Touring Cologne with the envoys gave me a brief sense of staying in Europe. The 1-week trip gathered so many environmental enthusiast from so many parts of the world I was flooded with information.
Thank you so much to Bayer for pampering us like VIPs and lead me to my first time in Europe, first time in a UEFA stadium, first time in the locker room, first time trying Bratwurst, first time on a survey boat, first Cologne beer... lost a lot of my "virginities" here. :P

18. Checked out White House & saw Cherry Blossom
Cherry blossom in DC in spring is just charming!

Obama was inside, just a few weeks before he visited Malaysia!

World Learning gave us the chance to explore USA, and this incredible bunch of people around the world showed me their culture and their spirit.

19. Saw the painting Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh (and a lot more!)
There's Picasso's Seated Bather

And also Van Gogh's world famous The Starry Night.

My first time getting so close and seeing the real artwork of greatest artists ever lived. Not a big fan, but The Starry Night is pretty I think. ;)

20. Did a crazy 32 days winter break tour in USA crashing and meeting Malaysians!
Starting at Las Vegas heading to San Francisco,

To New York subways,

Time Square,

Wall Street,

Followed by a train of cities like Philadelphia, PA,

And Los Angeles, CA just to count a few,

I have been crashing at so many Malaysian's places I am forever in debt of their favour. I hope some day I can return their kindness!

In total, I think I have travelled more than 10 states in USA and maybe 20 cities in total. Definitely blew my quota, and my wallet! Time to save money when I hit Malaysia.

For the 21st, and the last thing worthy of marking down in my blog, I will keep that as a secret. If you want to guess, feel free to comment down below!

This past 21 years have been really kind and wonderful. I wish for another exciting, action-packed 21 years ahead!