Weekend Reads: 5 Great Gadgets For Your Next Road Trip

adult-book-business-297755Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

Have you ever thought how lucky we are to be Malaysians?

I have, and it’s not just because of the wide variety of cuisines. Malaysia is home to many different races who celebrate many different festivals and thus, serve a smorgasbord of gastronomical fanfare, as far as your stomach can go.

So what’s so great about Malaysia then?

Our employers will balk at this but primarily, we often look forward to the many public holidays each year. Some of these public holidays are a day or two, occasionally cutting up the monotony of a dreary work week by falling on Wednesdays, but the best part of it is when a public holiday falls on a day or two immediately before or after a weekend.

And that’s where the fun starts. That’s what Malaysians want. A long, long weekend.

We just had one for Deepavali, and we hope that everyone had a wonderful celebration. If you’re longing for another four-day weekend, there’s one on the 20th of November. This special day commemorates the birth of the Prophet Muhammad and while not all of us celebrate this day, we can still look forward to enjoying four whole days of rest (assuming you have enough annual leave to apply for the day prior).

So what are you going to do for four days? If you plan to stay home like yours truly, a great activity to do is sleep. Well, that’s what I would do. Eat, sleep, read. Repeat. But if you’re planning on going somewhere, then we’ve got you covered on how to make your next road trip an exciting one!

Here is our recommended list of 5 great gadgets you can bring to liven things up!

Fully-Charged Power Banks

Because your gadgets need nutrition too!

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Before you embark on another great adventure and you happen to have some spare cash to spend, we’d recommend you get yourself a power bank or two for the trip.

Smartphones these days come with a solid amount of lithium-ion power but it’s always good to have an emergency power supply.

Not sure what to get? Maybe this link can help you get started. Remember to charge them up the night before you leave.

Portable Bluetooth Speakers

There’s no better way to share your favourite tunes than via a portable soundbar or a pair of awesome Bluetooth speakers.

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Whether your friends are rockstar groupies, hip-hoppers, or jazz loungers, having a portable Bluetooth speaker lets everyone in on the music.

Stock up and update your song folder a few days prior to your vacation. Maybe download a few more just in case. And you’re ready.

So, which portable Bluetooth speaker “speaks” to your budget? Here are five options for you to consider.

Noise-Cancelling Earphones or Headphones

Not everyone travels in a group. Some prefer to travel and see the world on their own.

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If that’s you, then you may want to keep yourself occupied until you’ve reached your destination. Unless you’re lucky enough to be seated next to Prince Charming, your second best companion is music.

Drown out in-flight background noise with a pair of wired or wireless headphones, it’s up to you. I would go with wired headphones as wireless normally means it has to be Bluetooth-connected and that can drain my phone even more.

What should you get then? Maybe ProductNation can help to get you going.

A Portable Storage of Reading Materials

Again, if you’re a solo traveller and you like to read, then by all means bring a book with you. But paperbacks can take up space and weight.

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So a better way to have all your books with you is via an e-reader. Amazon, Kobo, Nook, Barnes & Noble, the decision is yours to make.

My favourite is the Kindle by Amazon, but so far, I’ve only got the 5th Gen. The latest Kindle by Amazon is the Paperwhite which I’ve read online that it’s pretty amazing.

Don’t believe it? Well, believe it because this is what The Verge had to say about it.

Take a Picture, Leave Your Footprints

Yes, we’ve all at least seen that phrase from time to time, at least once. Go hiking and you’ll probably see it at the entrance of the trail.

This is one essential you will need if you want to keep all the memories of your travels locally or abroad. A camera.

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It can be a compact camera. It can be a semi-professional DSLR. It can also be a full DSLR with the works. Whichever you bring will do its job the way you want it to.

For the extreme sports fanatics, you can always bring along a GoPro as well. Again, ProductNation can help you out here with a list of the best compact cameras. In case you’re wondering, no, I’m not advertising for them. They just happen to appear in most of my search results.

So, are you ready to plan your next trip? What do you normally bring with you? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

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Weekend Reads: How to Recharge Your Batteries without Breaking the Bank.

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If you’re anything like me, I relish and welcome the weekend with much fanfare after a long and hectic week. Of course, there will be the occasional invitation to catch up on the latest gossip with your girlfriends or a hike through nature with the boys. It’s up to you to accept.

I usually don’t organise any social ‘dos on my weekends as I’m out for almost 10 hours from Monday to Friday, the last thing I want is to be out and about on Saturday and Sunday.

Unless I need more fresh milk and eggs.

So if you have no plans, what are you going to do then? You could head out for a mani-pedi. Or stake out the new cafe in your neighbourhood. Getting back on your cat’s good side (since working takes time away from him) is a plus, too, but here are three ways you can embrace the silence and relax:

Catch up on your reading

Did you know that reading can help you relax and de-stress?

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According to research, reading is a great way to relax and six minutes can be enough to reduce the stress levels by more than two thirds. It even works better and faster than other methods, such as listening to music, going for walks, or settling down with a cup of tea, to calm frazzled nerves.

Source: The Telegraph

So, if you’ve spent a bomb on the latest Throne of Glass box set by Sarah J. Maas, now would be a good time to start reading them. Why spend the money then if it’s just going to adorn your bookshelf instead?

If you’re not a fan of paperbacks and hardbacks, there are always plenty of ebooks you can download for free. Try this site if you’re up for it. Registration is free, and you get your reading fix, free for life!

Netflix and chill

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There’s absolutely no shame in admitting that you want to be a couch potato for the day. After all, you totally earned it. Maybe it’s time to get serious about a new series. Or you could always go back to your favourites and re-watch them, just because.

I used to watch Spartacus at one point, and Vikings at least a year ago. But recently I’ve gotten hooked on Star Trek: Voyager and The Bodyguard starring a very clean-cut and charming British eye candy with a thick Scottish accent. Yes, that’s Richard Madden.

Did you know that Richard Madden used to play Robb Stark in HBO’s TV series Game of Thrones, and he could be in the running to play the next James Bond?

Tune into your creativity

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If books and TV series are not your idea of fun, then you may want to try your hand at sketching or painting. Get crafty and start a new paint project at home. You can find inspiration online if you’re unsure where to start.

Undertaking a project that doesn’t have the same back-breaking deadlines as your work makes it all the more rewarding when your friends are over and ask where did you get that unique piece of art — and you can say, “Oh, this old thing? I made it!”

If you are feeling depressed or anxious about something, art therapy is the way to go. It is not a quick fix but it helps.

Studies have shown that the concept of making art for therapeutic reasons dates back to the 1940s. Art therapy has been used to treat a variety of anxiety disorders, including panic disorder. It confirms the effectiveness of treating PDA with art therapy.

Source: Anxiety.org

All the more reason for you to pick up that paintbrush now!

These activities above are not an unusual weekend for me, though it is not often that I get to do them. But when I do, it makes me feel accomplished, relaxed and ready to take on the upcoming week by the horns.

Are these in your schedule or do you have other interests that you like to do on your weekends? I’d love to hear what you have got to say!

Wading into the Unknown.

It has been four months since I was kicked out of a job because the company wanted to rehire a former employee. A role that I had been hired to fill, but was then told my services were no longer required because said former employee would be returning to take it back from me.

It is not illegal for a company to do this in Malaysia (or anywhere else in the world) but it is not ethical. Some employees would fight this out in either Labour Court (if money has not been paid) or Industrial Court (for unfair and unjust treatment). I was advised to do the same, but I decided not to.

For two reasons:

(1) It could potentially jeopardise any future interactions and job applications between myself and employers who want to hire me.
(2) As much as I’d want to see the company go down for treating me like crap, but I don’t want revenge. I just want to move on and forget it ever happened.

So I have been spending most of the months at home, occasionally in disbelief that this could actually happen (if not to me, but perhaps to someone else and trust me, it’s not a good feeling!).

At first, I was amazed at all the things I could do in my own time. I could read all the books I have. I could paint and sketch and update my bullet journal and personal journal. I could binge on Netflix until I’ve completed all the series I had been following closely. I could play Skyrim until my eyes bleed.

Frankly speaking, it did not turn out the way I hoped.

After awhile, say about two weeks or so, I started to feel disheartened. The jobs I applied for had not gotten back to me. No responses were found in my inbox. No one said a word about wanting to hire me. Day in, day out. That was it. I applied to so many jobs that the next time I went to check on the job portals, I was back to the same page where I had first started applying.

By the third month, I was almost suicidal. I still had to pay the bills. I still needed food to survive. I couldn’t do the things that made me happy (most of which came from going out of the house and spending just a little bit to see some sunshine).

I was beginning to worry about the opportunity cost of many things — like, should I spend money to buy ingredients to cook at home or should I just go out and eat and come back home? Both ways required me to spend what I didn’t have. I didn’t want to go out because going somewhere would mean I had to drive, and driving uses petrol, and petrol needs money. I could call for Grab, hop on a bus, or use the LRT. And still, they all needed that one thing I wasn’t getting anymore. Not for the past three months.

The fourth month came and we’re almost at its tail-end now. I remember telling a friend and my husband that if I hadn’t gotten a job by or before the end of 2018, no one will be getting any angpow (red packets filled with money) for next year’s Chinese New Year. Drastic but necessary.

And then another friend buzzed me one day. She showed me a screenshot of our ex colleague working at an advertising agency who is looking for someone like me. I was skeptical, to say the least, as I had actively avoided applying for agency roles. Much less one at an advertising agency.

But who am I to say no? Who am I to say that this isn’t for me? For one, I have not tried my hand at it. And two, I don’t actually have a job to begin with, no other available options to choose from. So I agreed to just go in for a chat. Just to know what the job entails and likewise, for them to know more about me.

I went in. Two hours later, I came out.

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I can safely say that I will no longer be unemployed. I start on November 1 as a Content Writer for the agency. I have seen my letter of appointment and while I am a stranger to working at an advertising agency, I am still thankful to God for opening this door for me, for giving me a glimpse into the scene, and it is going to be a whole new world for me.

And maybe that’s what I need. Maybe I need to expand my portfolio. Maybe I need to do something new, improve myself in ways I never thought I would. To go the extra mile and be someone. I’m excited about this new prospect but at the same time, I’m nervous and anxious. Perhaps I need to have some faith in myself. I need to have the confidence that I’ll be fine, that I’ll do just fine. Otherwise, I can always ask Him for guidance.

Who knows? I might even like being there!

How to Handle Rejection on Your Own.

Rejection is a topic that many people don’t want to hear, don’t want to talk about, nor do they want to receive in the first place. As it is very common to get rejected, here are a few ways of mine on how to deal with it.

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Rejection is almost a taboo topic as talking about sex in a conservative society. While sex is usually determined by which gender is affected, rejection doesn’t discriminate. It does not matter whether you are young or old, male or female. No one enjoys being rejected anyway. But as long as you’re:

  • Not someone people are looking for, you will be rejected.
  • Not the right match to a given equation, you will be rejected.

Correct me if I’m wrong but there is no way to reject someone nicely, is there? Although, if you have found the solution, congratulations, and please tell me your secret!

However, imagine being told that you’re not the right fit for a role you applied for. The hiring manager can speak in as gentle a manner as they can adopt, but there is still a slight chance that the recipient will take it the wrong way and react badly.

You can explain, as if speaking to a child, why s/he is not the right person for the job, the one on the receiving end of the rejection may not see nor understand things the way you do, resulting in feeling affronted and there will be cause for confrontation.

I received my second rejection from a potential employer via email. Naturally, I went into a defensive mode. I was annoyed at missing out on another opportunity for a job and upset that the company had not given me a chance to explain myself further with an interview. But then I realised that, contrary to what most people believe (and yes, people actually do think about it after they have gotten rejected), being declined is not the end of the world.

Searching online can result in an overwhelming amount of advice on how to deal with rejection. Tips as far as the search engine results go will provide you with methods and ways on what to do after getting rejected. It might even stump you at some point, and you’ll be left wondering which is the right way to go about it.

Remember, there is no right or wrong way. The only thing you need is time. But I’d also like to give you some insight into how I deal with rejection. It may not be the most scientific way or that it was medically approved. But dealing with rejection is all about what you can do for yourself that you’re most comfortable with.

Allow Yourself to Feel the Emotions

The immediate sensation of someone rejecting you can be devastating, especially since you’ve gone through the trouble of preparing yourself and perfecting your methods. Yet, it seems so easy for that person to say no.

Did s/he even know how difficult it was for you? Do they know how much effort, time and energy you put into the presentation? Did they even stop to think how you’d feel with the rejection? Of course not.

Strange as it might sound to you but here’s what I’m going to say: Let yourself feel upset. Let yourself feel, just for a moment, the disappointment of being turned down. Because we’re all humans and it is normal and natural for us to feel these negative emotions.

Don’t Dwell; Start Moving On

Give yourself some time to adjust and then move on.

Seriously.

The longer you dwell on these feelings, the harder it is for you to get back up. Don’t let the negative thoughts bring you down, and don’t let other people’s opinions affect you.

Always remember to… Inhale! And exhale! Yes, many people often forget to breathe the moment they hit a road block. Fill those lungs with air and let it out. Slowly settle into a meditative state and think about what you can do next.

Remember Successes, Not Failures

Failure is important to spur you on but it is not wise to keep thinking about it. Doing so will only drag you down, deeper into the quicksand and then it will be difficult to get out.

All that you have done in the past, surely there are some things that you have done and deserve a pat on the back for. It is common for people to focus on your failures and bring them up from time to time, but you can always remind them of your successes in life.

Avoid getting defensive, though, as it won’t get you anywhere. Just calmly respond with a nod and say, “Yes, but remember when I did [this] and/or [that]? It was amazing and it went well. Everyone loved it too!”

Otherwise, you can always…

Pick up the phone and call a friend.

Yes, talking about it can help too. You’re not the only one getting rejected. I’m sure your friends would have been in your shoes at some point in their lives. It’s just that some people move on faster than others. But that doesn’t mean you’re hopeless. Sometimes, all you need is someone to talk to.

You can also do things to take your mind off the rejection and chill for a moment. Sleep is good but you can’t do that all the time. You can read a book, play a game, hit the gym, or just Netflix and chill.

As for me, I’m going to do something to take my mind off the rejection email. Now, excuse me while I fire up Skyrim and kill some bandits.

Conversations with Your Grab Driver.

To you, he may be just a regular Grab driver you hailed on the Grab mobile app. But to him, you’re more than just a passenger. You’re his friend, confidante, therapist and more.

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Photo by Acharaporn Kamornboonyarush from Pexels

Let’s face it. Being a passenger in a car with anyone who doesn’t talk to you is one of the most boring moments of your life. If it’s someone you know, you probably have what I’d call as ‘companionable silence’. You don’t have to talk (much or at all) yet you feel quite content staring out the window instead.

But if you’re a passenger in a cab, you may want to open your mouth and say something. The driver may be a stranger but if your ride back home is a long one, made worse by frequent traffic congestion, you might want to rethink your companionship strategy.

Then again, how often do you use Grab or Uber to get around anyway? Are you the type to hail a cab for the longest journey ever or just to get around the corner?

Whatever it is, how you make up for the time spent sitting next to (or behind) the person whom you’ve paid to ferry you from Point A to Point B is crucial.

I’d strike up a conversation with the dear fellow. But I’d see what sort of person my driver is before talking to him or her. If s/he can only converse in any language other than English, then I’ll spend the rest of my journey resting my eyes.

The Silent Drivers

I’ve had Grab drivers who didn’t talk much. I can tell when someone doesn’t feel like talking or doesn’t want to talk because his ability to speak English is not as good as the next person. If that’s the case, then yes, I’ll be resting my eyes instead.

Although, in my experience as a Grab passenger, I’ve had more male drivers than female drivers, and the male drivers are friendlier and more open to conversations than female drivers.

The Chatty Cathy’s

I’ve also had Grab drivers who won’t stop talking. Some drivers have so much on their minds that they just want to share everything with you; anything and everything under the sky and within the four doors of the vehicle.

But there are the few who’d come up with the most unusual topics of conversation. I say ‘unusual’ because they will turn you into their therapists.

How to Get Your Job Back

One Grab driver had issues with his ex boss and he made haste to resign and leave the company, and then turned to Grab driving because he wasn’t getting any income. As I was currently employed, he sought my advice on how to make peace with his ex boss because he wanted the job back. Not that I had any great advice to give him as I (myself) was going through a rough patch trying to work well with my own boss.

Needless to say, I just told him that compromising is important. Not all bosses head out to torture their employees, and if you think about it, bosses are humans too. They feel the aches and pains of overwhelming stress and pressure. They, too, will stumble and fall at some point. Only the very few can keep it together and not take it out on other people.

I really hope he got his job back.

How to Salvage Your Relationship

But there was one Grab driver, not much older than I am (I’m in my early thirties, by the way), and he was in a really sticky situation. All sorts of scenarios ran through my mind. Was he having problems with his family? Or his job, maybe? Or just the way he felt about being in a country with an ever-increasing cost of living but salaries that remained stagnant?

What he said made me cringe, I’ll be honest with you, because I don’t dole out that kind of advice. He was having relationship problems with a girl and wanted my advice on how to please her.

Me: “Spend time with her, listen to her, be nice to her, her family and friends, and to animals…”
Him: “No, no,” he said. “Nothing of that sort.”

And then it dawned on me that he wanted advice on how to make a woman happy … in bed. Rest assured, he didn’t try any funny tricks with me.

Thankfully, my ride that day was short and the topic hadn’t reared its lustful head until a few minutes away from my destination. I did, however, suggest that he sit down and talk to his partner. Find out what she likes and what she doesn’t like. Find out what tickles her fancy and ticks her off. The keyword here is communication. The same solution as the Grab driver who hastily left his job because of a miscommunication with his ex boss.

I do hope his relationship survived.

The Best of the Rest

Don’t get me wrong, though. There are the decent drivers, and then there are the really amazing ones. I hailed a driver yesterday, a Malay man in his late forties to early fifties. He was retrenched from his job as a factory foreman. He turned to Grab driving for a living. He drove slowly but surely, as if to ensure I was comfortable and not hanging on for dear life. He was a soft-spoken man. He had a great sense of humour. He did not deserve to have a life like this.

Then again, none of us deserve such an unhappy ending. I know how difficult driving for Grab can be. It’s not profitable for the driver and not a pleasant one either. Everyday, you spend hours stuck in massive traffic congestions just to get your passenger from one place to another. Some days, traffic is fine but your passengers are not. You get the horrid ones who are pissed at you for arriving late, not caring that you were stuck in traffic trying to get to them in the first place! You get prank calls and fake hails. You get people who hail you only to cancel their bookings upon your arrival.

I get that. I really do. As he had been one of the few perfect drivers I’ve ever hailed, upon dropping me off at my destination, I gave him a couple of extra ringgit on top of the fare. I told him to drive to the nearest mamak restaurant and have a teh tarik on me. His smile was the biggest and most genuine one I’ve seen all day.