It’s All About You

I used to be like you. Yes, you.

Sitting in front of your computer; trapped within a black mirror; living life through a lens; chained to fictional fantasies; playing the virtual game of life.

And for the most part I still am. It is hard to escape from the technology that we rely so heavily upon, that gives us endless enjoyment and none of the calories.

However, I no longer derive satisfaction or a sense of achievement from the arbitrary numbers some software assigns to me. Yes, computer games and the like.

Does that make me any better than you? Of course not. 

I simply decided that I wanted to create something in this life, achieve something more meaningful than…some level in some game, or some number in some account.

Do you have an urge to make something of yourself?

Make something with your own hands? Create something new and exciting? Push your body and mind to the limits?

Maybe you tried and failed, and so you find solace in grinding up some numbers and gaining endorphins when you pwn some noob online.

Or maybe you’re struggling to make something of yourself, battling to make ends meet. And sometimes you need to switch on the telly and not think for a while.

And that’s perfectly alright.

Or perhaps your job is so fulfilling that you needn’t turn to anything else to fuel your sense of achievement.

Ah, who am I kidding?

Sure, you’ve got commitments and bills and soccer practice and that holiday you’ve been saving up for.

When was the last time you achieved a goal you set for yourself?

I gave myself a goal: before I turn 30, I want to be ranked within the top 30 in a competitive sports event. 30 before 30, get it?

Penang Triathlon Sam Results
Yes, I know I’m actually in the bottom half of my category. Thanks for pointing that out.

While the result itself is nothing to brag about (really need to improve my run), my point is that I managed to achieve my goal!

Was it a particularly easy goal? Maybe. 

Who does triathlons these days? So lame. Uh…lots of people? 

Was I remotely happier that I achieved something I set out to do? Definitely yes. 

How did you feel when you achieved your goal?

It’s also good to do an assessment after reaching a goal.

Almost sounds like school.

Well, how did you feel?

Achieve a small goal. Feel a little better. Achieve a bigger goal. Feel much win! Er, right?

Supposedly, but sometimes you’ll need to take a moment to reflect. Think about what you achieved and was it worth it? Should you continue?

I know I will. This is but a small stepping stone.

And perhaps if you keep working at these small goals, one day who knows what you’ll have achieved?

Sometimes doing mini quests does contribute to the main quest – if the main story is about you and your life.

So make it count. Start today.

If I can do it, so can you.

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The Beauty of Penang

CFAL Bikelah
Experience the beauty of Penang island all in one morning!

Ah, Penang.

Penangites sure have it lucky – you’ve got the calm blue seas under a balmy bright sky; swathes of sandy beaches; towering hills at your back; tropical rainforests interspersed with trickling waterfalls; crazy cyclists whizzing down your narrow roads.

Penang has always been this hidden gem of pearls and pride and prudence – a stronghold of businessmen and tourists. A secret blend of modern and traditional; an endless cacophony of smells and sounds and tasty food; a stark juxtaposition of relaxed colonial landmarks and frenzied industrial monoliths; a harmonious mix of ethnicities and cultures and crazy people.

Bikelah Penang George Town

And no, I don’t work for the tourism board of Penang.

Here is a really nice blog I stumbled across during my research (with my good friend Google).

Happy riding!

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The Handle Toward My Hand

Bikelah Bunny Webcomic Ep 3

“Is this a bike which I see before me?” it asks.

And what will you do with it? Will you take the handle in yours? Clutch it tight? Travel the world and the seven seas?

What did you think when you first saw a bicycle?

Meh.

Just another form of transport? Bit old fashioned there, eh ol’ chap? Wonder if I can ride one.

Most of us will have been exposed to bikes at one point or another in our childhood (even if we have yet to have the pleasure of riding one). Ubiquitous, they are. Unless you live in the South Pole or something.

I bet they have snow bikes there.

Image result for snow bike animal

Wait, people seriously ride those things?

Did you think about taking it for a spin? Or was it an object of fear and discomfort?

I honestly can’t recall my early times atop a bicycle, but I must have cycled somewhere somehow. I certainly didn’t ride much while I was in school.

And then I picked it back up when I decided to get a bike to commute to work. Five kilometres one way. Looking back, it was really nothing. But I struggled. Especially up that darn hill.

That was perhaps one of the few positive life-changing decisions I’ve made.

And I’ve never looked back.

Now I didn’t have a bike magically fall into my lap. That would hurt. I actually consciously made up my mind that I wanted a bike, and I went out and got one. Well, I went with my mum. So it was kind of handed to me, but I had to ask for it first.

And it was a magnificent bike. Straight bar alloy hybrid road bike with gears and all that. Still have it to this day.

Now it seems cycling is making a comeback and gaining popularity as a sport and recreational activity. Many compare it to golf, like one of those sports fads that comes and goes. I think it has a little more real world relevance than golf.

Unless they turn those golf carts into a form of commute.

Image result for custom golf cart

Ease on down, ease on down the road!

Yeah, I don’t know where I was going with this. It’s getting late.

Just don’t leave you bicycle unattended, guys. Bunnies will steal it.

Peace out. comiccom

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On Being Alone

Alone.

I’ve always preferred to be alone.

That feels like an inherently sad statement, but it shouldn’t be.

Is there anything wrong with being alone? A certain stigma attached to it?

Feeling alone and being alone are two different things.

Society teaches us it’s not good to be alone. You’ll get kidnapped. Safety in numbers. Why do you talk to yourself all the time? 

Okay, maybe that last one is a little worrying. But as much as we are told that as humans we are “social animals”, there are great benefits to be had from going away for awhile to be by oneself.

Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not decrying the advantages of community and social bonding; neither am I encouraging sitting alone in front of the computer for months on end.

I’m just saying that as with all things in life, balance is necessary.

Why should I be alone?

There are times when it might be good for the soul to take a silent stroll, or enjoy a silent moment in thought and reflection.

I feel that those who are by themselves see the world differently. When alone you have the luxury to stop and take in your surroundings, observe people and objects in your immediate vicinity with a quiet detachment. See things from outside the box.

Solo travelers will tend to notice and acknowledge others, especially kindred souls who travel alone. Therein exists already a certain bond – two who share the love of travelling light.

Like two stray photons that happen to glance past each other in a vast vacuum of nothingness.

No, this is not becoming a soulmate thing.

How often have you walked past a random stranger and something caught your eye, or you just happened to look their way and they looked back?

That momentary connection that would not have otherwise happened had you been engaged in a group chat or had a throng of people crowding around you.

But won’t you feel lonely?

I’d imagine a lot of you will think that if you spend too much time alone, you’re bound to end up depressed. Lost in your own self-pity and morbid thoughts. Brain turned to mush.

Well, here’s an interesting conundrum: we are more well connected to each other than ever before; there are literally people everywhere now, yet depression is on the rise? Suicide is up?

Is this nature’s way of culling back the population? Exceeding critical mass leads to self-harm?

All the more we need to have some time-out from the madness that is the swarm of humanity. A brief moment to catch our breaths. Look at ourselves in the mirror.

We come into this world alone. We leave this world alone. Everything else is optional.

There’s a nice cheery quote for you!

And what are you feeling now? An empty hollowness curling, swirling through your inner being? Embrace it! Know it well! For in times of strife and loneliness, it will serve you well.

Because it doesn’t matter if you come from a family of a hundred where you are never alone, or you wander the streets at night looking for home. The loneliness will come for you. One way or another, it will attempt to claim you. Perhaps when you least expect it.

But do not forget: there is another part. There are options.

You have a choice

Give in to the void, and wallow in your self-pity. Or know that you have it in yourself to overcome this. You have what it takes. 

You do not need the aid and comfort of another human presence (although it can definitely help). You alone are enough to stand strong. You are all you need. Yes.

Once you internalise that, you will find a way. And as contradictory as it may sound, it is perfectly alright to need help. But only if it is necessary.

You have the power to choose. 

Depression is the belief that you have lost that choice. Lost the choice to be happy. Lost the choice to let people in or shut people out. Lost your options in life. Lost your purpose.

Being alone does not make you depressed. Especially not if you choose it.

Depression is not easy, not a simple thing that we can laugh off. But while it is often associated with loneliness, it does not stem from merely being alone.

Feeling alone and being alone are two different things.

Feeling alone is often uncontrollable and assaults you even in the hearty company of friends. Being alone is a conscious decision to carve your own path; being the master of your own ship, riding atop the waves of life’s crazy antics and dramas. You are in control. 

Sometimes life throws you a curveball and you end up flying solo, even if it wasn’t your intention. You still have a choice. Change it, or stick with the solo act. Life is too short to feel lonely. Accept the feeling, and move on.

Of course it’s easier said than done. Don’t expect to change things overnight. Even the malleable human mind takes time to change and absorb new things.

However, all things are under your control. Even your feelings, those awful feelings that come when you don’t want them to.

Taking time to yourself helps you to digest these feelings, to reflect on them. To know yourself.

When you can be alone but not feel alone is a good place to start.

Next time you’re walking around by yourself, notice how you notice more things happening around you. Take a moment to smell the roses. Or do something you have never done in the million times you’ve walked down this same path.

Or don’t.

It’s your call.

I’ve always preferred to be alone.

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Penang’s Secret Garden

Hidden deep in the recesses of one of George Town’s many rows of Chinese shophouses is a rather magical alleyway, a quaint little secret garden of greenery!

Penang George Town Secret Garden Bikelah
Penang George Town Secret Garden Bikelah Penang George Town Secret Garden Bikelah

Complete with clever will artsy pieces of natural and artificial!

Penang George Town Secret Garden Bikelah Penang George Town Secret Garden Bikelah Penang George Town Secret Garden Bikelah

Bringing a dead appliance to life!

Penang George Town Secret Garden Bikelah Penang George Town Secret Garden Bikelah

It may look like a creepy dilapidated alley from outside, but I’d say it’s perfectly welcoming

Penang George Town Secret Garden Bikelah

And it wouldn’t be complete without bikes!

Come bike lah!

P.S. I mean, I could waffle on for another 230 words about nothing much in particular, if for no other reason than to make the SEO engine Google slave happy. So much of what we do online has become dictated by the search engine giant that we are at its mercy. Remember a time when people wrote random essays on random things like secret gardens for no other reason than for the hell of it? Well…they still do! But now they have to keep keywords and optimised content at the back of their mind so Google doesn’t give them the flick. I mean, sure I could just copy and paste the text “Penang Secret Garden” over and over again (interspersed enough so that the Google crawler doesn’t get suspicious and downvote me even further into the blue nothingness), but that would be far less entertaining than typing up this seemingly coherent piece of prose which is much ado about nothing; much like Seinfeld, but see how entertaining that was! And I could probably paragraph better for readability and such humdrum, but who really reads this stuff anyway? Go read about the latest Wolverine movie, why don’t you?

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Random Movie Review – Logan

Hey everybody! Time for something random – a movie review!

Longan Logan Bikelah
Wait a minute…

So after some deliberation I decided to hit the cinemas to witness the final (although it seems nothing is ever final in Hollywood or the Marvel universe) installment of a legend.

The previous few installments heavily featuring Hugh Jackman’s claim to fame left a rather insipid taste in my mouth. Not to say I didn’t enjoy them, it was just getting a little…trite. The scowling, the growling, the singlets.

It was going the way of Christian Bale as Batman, where I found myself not really entertained by Bruce Wayne or his raspy leather-clad alter ego. Not because Mr. Bale isn’t a great actor, but because his character was becoming so unrelatable and one-dimensional. I’d say every other character had more opportunity to shine in those films – Caine almost had me tearing up in Dark Knight Rises during his confession.

Wolverine was becoming another Hollywood ragdoll that could take more than your standard beating because he was invincible so yay let’s throw more harmful shit at him! Explosive shit! Bullet train shit! Laser beam shooting shit!

Let’s be honest: Wolverine in Japan was just an excuse to have Hugh Jackman fight ninjas.

wolverine-ninja

You know you remember this.

[SPOILER ALERT!]

So seeing Logan in a more…relatable light was somewhat refreshing. Gone was the perky, horny hairdo; no cigar chewing; and certainly much less topless time.

Here we see a wisened, fatigued, grumpier but still equally angry Wolverine. Like most who go through a tough life, it certainly seems to have beat even the great Wolverine into submission.

I thoroughly enjoyed the starting pace and mood of the film. It was what I had hoped Hancock could have been. A dark, gritty, dusty dystopian world with a sarcastic comedian of a main character.

Everyone loves the dynamic combination of the old bitter guardian and the brave but reluctant VIP target. I really enjoyed the Naughty Dog game The Last of Us, with its immersive blend of picturesque post-apocalyptic scenery and lighthearted glimmers of hope in between mad scrambling for resources and amazing storytelling.

And that’s exactly what Logan turned out to be – a bitter old remnant of a dying breed clinging to what few strands of the past he has, who becomes burdened with protecting a young thing that he neither cares for nor can communicate with. And together they embark on a heartwarming journey into the sunset.

However, to put it bluntly – the film started out as an adaptation of The Last of Us, but ended up like a Marvel version of Spy Kids.

They spent most of the movie building up the main villain, only to have him upstaged…by Hugh Jackman himself! And some random doctor that popped out of the woodworks. Yeah yeah you’re related to General Stryker, it all makes so much more sense now! Seriously?

I’m not sure if they were trying to be faithful or pay homage to some nerdy fan crowd, but this movie was nothing at all like the comic books. Or maybe they just wanted to give it all closure, so they axed off every character they could think of.

The ending became a lot less believable and less well-thought-out compared to the more cohesive first half. Logan chugging some temporary miracle cure for the final battle? Hardened military men fumbling to grab a bunch of kids when they could just shoot or taser them? Kids raised in a lab surviving in the wild on their own for weeks on end? Preposterous!

Surely they didn’t need Logan to be in a sleep coma for his brief stay in Lord of the Flies. What could he have done? Talked the kids out of making a run for Paradise? At least they could have had more meaningful conversations if he wasn’t drooling in every scene. I bet it was just so they could shave him.

Anyway, that’s enough spoilers for one night.

Let me know what you thought of the movie!

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To Be Noticed

Bikelah Bunny Webcomic

You could say it is ego or vanity or narcissism that fuels the pursuit of recognition.

But deep down, if we are honest with ourselves, we all yearn for attention. It may not be much, yet it is an undeniable part of what makes us human.

Of course fame is not for everyone. However, it is safe to say that most would desire some form of recognition for their contributions to the things they put their time and energy into. Or sometimes things that they don’t really put that much time and energy into.

Sometimes it’s nice to have someone’s attention, even if it is just for a brief, fleeting, mortal moment. Perhaps that’s why people like dogs; most of them can give you relatively undivided attention almost unconditionally. And they don’t judge you.

But every once in a while, people need something more. Something they feel they need to share with the world – the love of a hobby or a really cool thing they created or an amazing hidden talent they have.

And amidst all that is some desire for fame and praise, and the fortune that follows according to what society has us believe. Despite the negative connotations that society seems to place on aiming for fame, it’s more than happy to dish it out in truckloads to its chosen ones, regardless of whether or not they are deserving of it.

However, at the core of it all, I’d like to believe that we humans simply feel the need to share; to bond with others on a deeper level; to identify kindred spirits that take interest in the same thing or admire similar traits and patterns. To revel in the intriguing and endless layers that our world has unleashed upon us.

Once in a while you’ll put on a sharply coloured shirt; or show off a cool move or two while you’re out in public; or pretend not to look at the cute girl facing your way and hope that she’ll see you and think to herself how dashing you look and imagine the rest of her life in your embrace (but of course that only happens in those silly Hollywood romcoms).

And all for what? That tiny glimmer of hope that someone, somewhere out there catches you in that moment where you’re having fun being comfortable in your own skin, that brief flicker where you feel at your best, at the top of the world. They may not know you or care all that much, but they bore witness to a moment in humanity that may very well never occur again for millennia to come.

Sometimes it’s nice to be noticed.

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The Imperfect Creation

Bikelah Bunny Comic

Sometimes amidst our busy lives we pause for a moment and allow the pervasive existential angst at the back of our minds to surface, to join us in our brief and bleak perception of our minute fragment of reality.

Day after day we go about our daily tasks, our duties, our lives. Yes, we are living, and not a moment too soon. We must continue living, continue toiling upon this mortal coil that brings us happiness and sorrow.

Once in a while we allow ourselves to ask: is there a purpose to it all?

Like this carelessly outlined rabbit, are we created to have reason and meaning? Or is it on a whim? A fluke of brushstrokes and a triumph of probability, never again to occur?

Are we but an imperfect creation? Are we destined for greatness? Or do we exist simply to provide for our cats?

Cat Existential Crisis

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