Brisbane Holiday

We had a wonderful 10 days holiday on Brisbane (mainly) last week. We drove from Sydney to Brisbane – which is about a 1000km drive, we didn’t drive all the way though. On the way up, we stayed overnight in Coffs Harbour and on the way back we stayed in Nambucca Heads. The drive was very pleasant, it was quite scenic drive on big roads with minimal traffic. We tag teamed the drive, very thankful that Lina could drive. We thought we could’ve gone all the way in the future – but we took a conservative approach as we haven’t done that long of a drive before.

We lived in an Airbnb accomodation in Algester – which was very pleasant. We lived in a 2 storeys brand new house – we lived in the upper storey, the owner live downstairs. Our host was very friendly and accomodating – and again the property was really good – we got 3 bedrooms, the boys were very happy with having their own rooms for a week.

Our primary aim of going to Brisbane was to look at suburbs that might buy a property in. And I think it was a fruitful visit from that point of view. We also managed to travel around in Brisbane city a bit, visited South Bank and Fortitude Valley – I immediately taken by the city (compared to Melbourne for instance which was a meh for me – no offence Melbournians).

One of my personal highlights of the visit was visiting our 2 friends – one of them is our old friend from church. He is a pastor now in church in St Lucia. It is always good to see a brother in Christ and how he stays faithful and seeing his passion for the Lord and the opportunities in Brisbane and UQ in particular.

Then I visited and stayed with old friends from high school. I was floored by their welcome and hospitality. It was super nice catching up and talking about all things especially the good old days. We haven’t seen each other for almost 5 years yet it doesn’t feel that we are apart that long (if that makes sense). As a plus – our boys had a good time with their girls too.

Few interesting things happened on Friday, had a job interview via Google hangout in the morning – which was unexpectedly long about 45 mins and thank God I got the position (notified few days ago). After that we drove down to Gold Coast, had lunch with fellow property investor – which was an enlightening conversation. We then drove to Main Beach to have a swim – the weather was warm and beautiful and you can’t go to Gold Coast without swimming of course.

That’s when the low point of the holiday happened. We swam (or played in the water I guess) near a bridge in the beach (which Lina already warned that it’s not a very good idea). We did try to play a bit further from the bridge – but somehow Matt at some point went a little bit too close to the bridge and got carried away by the current towards the bridge unable to make his way back. When I saw him in trouble, I went to him straight away, I was walking towards him and when I got close to him, I suddenly realised my feet were off the sand bed – which meant there was a steep drop, no wonder Matt was in trouble. I was quite panicked too at this point – I managed to get to Matt and tried to make my way towards one of the pillars of the bridge as it seemed to be easier swim rather compared to going back.

We held on the pillar for a bit (which seems like forever) – shouted at Jeremiah to get help – people must have noticed by then. Few blokes came over to help us and we were saved. Thank God that Matt is ok, I got cuts on my arms, legs and chest from shells on the pillar – but it’s ok, as long as everyone is saved in the end – thank God.

Thankfully the rest of the holiday was pleasant. Went to a couple more of open houses on the next day, then we went to Sirromet winery – had a late and pleasant lunch with my high school friends and their girls. We stayed at their place – had a long chat until late. We went to their church on Sunday then we went to Gold Coast for lunch at George’s Paragon (really nice seafood) – after that we had afternoon coffee and it was time for us to bid Brisbane goodbye as we started our trip back to Sydney.

It was a memorable holiday – I am liking what Brisbane has to offer.

Struggling to write

I found that writing a blog post is harder than before.

It’s not that I don’t have any ideas to write. I do have a lot of topics to write in my head, but my struggle is with structuring the topic and put it into a writing.

This, I think, is because I just don’t do enough writing nowadays. We all know practice makes perfect, so is with writing – to make writing easier, write more.

But why don’t I write more? I used to blog a lot, although I have to admit most of them is short and more like status updates rather than fully fleshed writing.

One reason why I don’t write anymore is because I consume more. What do I consume? What else – the social media of course: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. There’s also HackerNews (thank God for HN newsletter!).

Here’s hoping for more producing and less consuming in 2016.. maybe?

White Belt

So I have been training in karate for about 6 weeks now and it’s been an interesting and challenging experience so far (more on that later).

I wanted to do karate mainly because of Jet and Matt. They have been doing karate for about 2 years now. I slowly fell in love with karate after watching them practising and competing. I thought to myself, how nice it would be to be able train with them and enjoy karate together.
I also then started to read more about karate – its origin and history, its founders, its differing styles and philosophies, watching kata videos – I became more interested.

The next move was to find a karate dojo that I can train with. My sons’ dojo naturally is the first place that enquire. I am very happy with my sons’ senseis and dojo – but unfortunately they don’t have adult training nearby.

So I spent the next few weeks after that, searching and researching karate dojos. It wasn’t as easy as I thought initially, the problem is, I wanted to train in Goju Ryu specifically and there isn’t that many Goju Ryu dojos around (more Shotokan and Kyokushin). The training times also need to fit with my family and church commitment (means no Friday nights and earlier training time better). Finally, I found G.K.M.I – could only fit one training weekly but I think that would have to do for now.

Six weeks in, I can say that karate is challenging – physically and mentally. For me personally, being super stiff doesn’t really help. I am also struggling with some of foot movements and combinations. But good thing is, I am improving – very slowly. Practising kata unsurprisingly has been a highlight for me. It’s good being a noob all over again, being a student again.

My gym routine now has changed too, I am now looking for exercises that will benefit my karate (been reading Hojo Undo book – but probably too early for me). So I have almost stopped lifting weights altogether and focused on getting more flexible.

9 years

Nine years since he’s gone, I think about Dad less and less every year, I guess it’s just the way it is.
He still appears on my dreams once in a while, in them, he is still alive and around.

I remember our road trips during school holidays – usually to Bali.
Driving from Surabaya to Bali back in those days was around 8 hours I think. I remember the long ferry queue between Ketapang – Gilimanuk.
Mom told me that he did like driving, although as he got older (and plane tickets cheaper), those long drives eventually ceased.

Our longest road trip, was from Surabaya to Jakarta. It was just me and him, and pretty sure that’s the only road trip with just the two of us.
From memory, mum and sister had gone first by plane.
I was pretty young back then, probably 10 years old.
I remember bringing a lot of Donal Bebek and Bobo magazines – just in case I won’t have anything to do (ah, those good old days before gadgets) – didn’t end up doing much reading though.

I remember food is sweeter in Central Java – I think we had Soto in Kudus, which was sweet tasting unlike the in East Java where food tend to be salty.
We stopped and stayed overnight in Solo or Jogjakarta (which is midway between Surabaya and Jakarta).
The only memory I had about this stay is something that involved toilet – so I better stop it there.

Weird thing is, I don’t remember the trip back. Ah, all of these memories, they won’t be whole again. They will remain as fragments and sometimes I don’t even remember which fragments belong together.

What would my boys remember of our time together I wonder, what would be their treasured moments – what would be the fragments that they hold into long after I am gone.

August SHUM

Last month, our bible study group was involved with SHUM (Surry Hills Urban Mission).

SHUM is a ministry that aims to bring the good news for disadvantaged people around Surry Hills area – this may includes people who are homeless, poor, unemployed, those with substance abuse and those with some mental issues.

SHUM is mainly run by Michael and every month there will be a different group of people committed helping him for the duration of the month. So for example our group was helping SHUM on the month of August and another bible study group from our church will do SHUM the month after.

SHUM group goes to Central Station every Tuesday nights from 8:00 to 9.30, they bring food (mainly sandwiches) and hot drinks for people at Central Station. However giving out food is not the aim of SHUM, by serving food and drinks, we’re hoping to engage disadvantaged people in Surry Hills in gospel conversations.

On the week before we started our mission, Michael gave as an orientation night, here are some of things that he expected of the group:

  • Aim to end every conversations by praying with people whom we talked to.
  • Pick a parable and learn to share it with people
  • Read news and give a Christian point of view of them
  • Pray and pray some more

So those were the main things that we did during the four Tuesday nights of August. Every night is different, the first 2 Tuesdays were busy and hectic, the last 2 were quiet. I had many interesting conversations, met many wonderful and interesting people.

An example of such encounter: on the first Tuesday, I met a guy called S, I spent the most of the time talking to him that night.

S is a pensioner and had issues with his current accommodation so he needed to find a new place. However this wasn’t easy due to his lack of rental history (and photo ID). Can’t help but feeling sorry for him, the task of getting a photo ID maybe trivial for people like you and me – but for him it is a challenge. He was told to go back to Melbourne (where he’s from) and get it done there, otherwise he needed to do it via the internet, which is difficult as he is computer illiterate.

I asked him about his belief, he told me that he’s a Christian but not practicing. We chatted a bit about this – then he remembered reading a horoscope column, in which it was told that he needs to start a commitment. He kept wondering what that meant. That Tuesday night, he decided to take a walk around Central Station and by chance met us there.

He then connected the dots, perhaps he said, the commitment mentioned in the horoscope column, is commitment to God. Very interesting conclusion, but I didn’t disagree – I told him that indeed God may indeed calling him through that.

In the end, we prayed together, for his accommodation issues and for him to find church and indeed commit his life to God. From all of the people whom I spoke to during the month, he’s made the most impression to me and I had hoped to see again on the following weeks, but I never did, I put him on my prayer dairy though – I hope to see again as a brother if not in this life, then in the life after.

I found my time with SHUM is very valuable, for people in our bible study group and for myself personally. For me, it is valuable as it has given me opportunity to share the good news of Jesus with people.
I was also humbly reminded that I lack skills in evangelism and I need to work on my willingness to talk to people.

I was encouraged by people in our bible study group who were very enthusiastic, bold and genuinely care for the people we met.
Ben our SHUM leader (Michael took a break on the month of September) was very encouraging too – he could easily turn an ordinary conversation to a gospel conversation.

I was reminded again and again how good and gracious God is, he does not discriminate, he loves everyone, rich and poor and he wants them to be saved.

In the end, I thank God for his love to people through SHUM, Michael, Ben – I hope and pray many will hear and receive the light that can’t be hidden in their dark lives.

If you are Christian, I highly recommend joining SHUM for a month, you can find more information about it here: