I was fortunate to travel to two countries that have close relationship to my life
1) Taiwan: as a descendent of Chinese, it is normal for me to compare with Chinese descendent in Malaysia and in Taiwan

2) Japan: I watch Japanese drama, love Japanese food and use Japanese product. It was dream like for me to be able to travel to Japan

Interestingly, these countries are closely related to each other.

Taiwan was under Japanese colonial for half a century. Till todate, many things in Taiwan are still heavily influenced by Japanese.

The train, they way they being polite, the product they use, they way they promote the products/awarenes, tv shows.... Etc

I immediately realised this on day 1 I stepped into Japan (i went to Taiwan in April, then to Japan in October)

In Taiwan, I went to Taipei, hualien, kaohsiong, taichung, alishan.

In Japan. I went to Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto, nara and Hokkaido.

Nice view in Taiwan... In terms of nature sightseeing in alishan & hualien.

Taipei, taichung and kaohsiong are urban cities (shop till you drop in Taipei and weather in kaohsiong reminds me of KL)

We thought of visiting Taiwan again in few years time but... Malaysia Airline gave us early Christmas gift: we managed to hunt return ticket to Osaka with just... RM189

So, spent another total RM7000 in this trip. All in.

We were pleasantly surprised with all the five places in Japan. Each of them have their own uniqueness.

Osaka: a city with historical places to visit, various food, even more shopping than Taipei

Kobe: peaceful city ... Lots of European style buildings and... Kobe beef.

Kyoto: city of temples. Extra nice if you visit during autumn leaves season.

Nara: city of deers. Where deer > human

Hokkaido: RAMEN AND SEAFOOD! You can't go wrong with those two (er... Skiing wasn't part of the plan so can't comment)

Hokkaido is unique on its own. They have many products produced and sold only in Hokkaido (maybe a marketing strategy, but still feel exclusive) and their airport sells seafood and fresh corn (!!!!??)

When we were back home, my parents stopped mentioning about visiting Taiwan in near future.

My mum kept the Japanese yen asking us when are we going to Japan again.

And the couple spent the next one week revisit the photos taken in Japan.

If you have visited Taiwan, try Japan. You won't be disappointed.

Malaysia is a secular state, and I feel it is best it is maintained so.

Religion is a very personal belief.

I would compare religion as your favorite colour.

There can be a lot of reasons why you love a particular colour, it's a feeling, it's a trust, it's a belief that can make you feel good.

But you can't force others to have the same likings - they have their own preference too.

Even if a person loves blue colour, there are navy blue, dark blue etc (e.g. Protestant and Catholic in Christianity, or Sunni and Shia in Muslim). I can't

So if a country is ruled by religion, especially a country that has multi-religions.. just imagine a person who loves orange colour, and force the whole nation to paint nothing but orange colour for their house, and wear nothing but orange shirt.

If you feel ridiculed - you can expect the exact ridiculous stuff happening in countries ruled by religion.

I randomly thought about several products that we use daily - they are mostly made in Thailand.

I guess most of the FDI, previously parked in Malaysia, had been routed to Thailand.

Well, if I am foreign investor, I would do the same too - cheaper labour, no silly issues such as quota ratios..

To sum all up - openness is the key.

The moment you try to control a country with rigid elements such as religion or closed-door policies, you will start to see downfall.

Example? Myanmar. It was once a very rich and prosperous country, but due to its closed-door policies, it had become one of the poorest in SEA.

It starts booming as it opens its door again.

Looking back what happened in the past one year, the first half was drama to the max.

I would say my mind and soul went thru various dramatic encounters, be it willingly or unwillingly.

The second half was a lot more peaceful. But I consider yet another drama - initiated in the first half of the year - ended in early April.

To be honest, I don't regret for the decisions I made, I believe they were the best attempts to move forward in life.

I am happy, especially on the career part. At least it was something that I've been searching in the past few years.

Life wise, I triggered a drama early last month, by chance.

Quite positive so far but the insecure me, will always worry how long will it last, what if it doesn't last, what if it lasts.

Should I blame it on horoscope for it tells that, from my natal chart, I have very mutable personality?

To summarise my currrent state of mind: happy, nervous, positive, worried, calmed, contented, hollow

Or put it in this way: split personality at work.

If only time can stop at that era.

Personally, I think that was the time people of Malaysia lived in harmony.

People, regardless from any descendant, would come together watch the movie, laugh and talk about it.

Talk about now - which was the last Malay language movie that all Malaysians last watch?

If you look at P.Ramlee's movie - its value is still relevant, the humour is still silly and funny.

You can feel that the people back then were really honest, straightforward and simple.

I hope someday, the day would come - that Malaysians would realise that, happiness means simple things.

It's not peer pressure, it's definitely not emotional - it can start by smiling in this hard time, just like how P Ramlee stayed positive in his movies.