Saturday, March 30, 2013

A-Z April 2013 blogging challenge topics

Today I'll be sharing with you the topics for my A-Zs on 3 of my blogs. The ideas I came up with changed a few times but now they have all been set in stone.

I originally was thinking of some grand plan which would have required a lot of work, but eventually decided to keep it a little more simple this year, as opposed to the detailed and extremely hard work I put in last year.

For this blog, I'll be sharing one of the famous "Keep Calm" posters each day, going through each letter of the alphabet, along with a few motivational thoughts to accompany each one.

Over at our English blog I'll be taking readers on a journey through the English language and the joys and pains of teaching it in Malaysia. For these first 2 blogs, I'll be asking questions to hopefully stimulate some discussion from visitors.

Meanwhile, my Nature blog will be posting a fascinating image a day from around the world, which I searched for and snapped with my National Geographic Maps App on my new ipad. I am probably the most excited for this one!

Whether you are participating or not, I hope you'll enjoy going through my blogs this April, whether it be my fun 'Keep Calm' posters here, English tips and clarification at Horne Learning Services, or beautiful images of the world at Kuantan Nature.

It's going to be one busy April!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Feeling Calm about the A-Z Challenge 2013

The A-Z blogging challenge starts on Monday and this is my 3rd year participating. It is also the first time I have pre-scheduled all 26 of my posts - for 3 different blogs!

Yep, call me crazy, but I've entered 3 blogs for the challenge and all of the posts through A-Z for each blog are scheduled to automatically post on each assigned day. It gives me exclusive time to go visit other blogs :)

You could say I'm feeling as calm as the beach on a perfect day:

Pictures taken at Taman Gelora, Kuantan

Monday, March 25, 2013

Zumba workout at Taman Gelora, Kuantan

Fidelia attends Zumba classes twice a week in Kuantan. Last Saturday at 8am there was a free-for-all Zumba workout at Taman Gelora. So we attended. Fidelia participated in the 1-hour session which combines groovy music with dancing, and was led by a few instructors on stage.

I was left with the children and the camera!

The Zumba instructors were full of energy . . .

This is Fidelia's instructor, Jun . . .

Yes, even Leah joined in near the end! I'm really happy with these photos. It was the first time I had used my Canon EOS 650D manually by using a fast shutter speed and increasing the ISO to compensate.

Everyone had a great time and increased their health and fitness. Looking forward to the next one!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Expat Diaries: Do Not Underestimate Dehydration - A Personal Experience and Warning from an Expat in Malaysia

Dehydration is a very real threat to your health - foreigner or local - in the hot and humid climes of Malaysia. 

Located close to the equator with 90% humidity and daily temperatures year-round of between 32-36C, it is hot and wet.

Dehydration occurs when the amount of water going out from your body exceeds the amount going in. For example when there is more fluid lost from urinating and sweating and water vapour dispelled when you breathe, than there is from fluid being consumed by drinking water, you may experience mild, moderate or severe dehydration.

This is particularly useful to know if you are an expat in Malaysia and may not be accustomed to such high temperatures and humid conditions.

I've been living in Malaysia for around 9 years but I've learned to NEVER underestimate dehydration. Some of the signs that you are dehydrated may include: 
  • a dry mouth
  • feeling thirsty
  • stomach discomfort
  • feeling nauseous
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • dizziness
  • weakness
  • confusion

Now I will share my personal experience with dehydration:

On October 15th, 2012, I began to feel unwell. I hadn't drank much water in the preceding couple of days and I was beginning to feel rather nauseous. Around 7pm I was very weak and noticed my mouth had become particularly dry. It was difficult to drink water, even a little. I started vomiting, 4 times. Then the diarrhoea came along. I was becoming increasingly distressed. My body was going hot, then cold and I started shivering. My wife helped me get to the bed and that's when the scariest part of my ordeal occurred.

As I lay on the bed, I started having convulsions. It started with my hands. I couldn't stop them from shaking. My wrists bent inwards and became locked in place so tightly. The same with my fingers and thumbs. Sharp pains followed before they became completely numb. That's when I screamed out for my wife to call the ambulance. My legs soon started shaking too and were likewise starting to get very tight and slightly numb.

For a few moments, I thought I was going to die. It's funny, when confronted with the prospect of death, I actually wasn't afraid. I was in physical distress and pain which I had never before felt, but something inside of me said, "If I'm going to die . . .then let's do it!"

My wife later told me that the 2 minutes I thought it took for the ambulance to arrive was in fact 20 minutes. Whether I passed out I don't know. I vomited once more outside the ambulance while people were carrying me in my bed sheet.

Then the IV drip was inserted into my vein in the ambulance and everything suddenly changed for the better. I was no longer 'going to die', but I knew that I'd be alright. The saline drip of sodium chloride is heaven! Over the next 48 hours I would have a further SEVEN bags of sodium chloride pumped into my veins!

Here I am in the Accident & Emergency area of HTAA Kuantan with the IV drip working its magic.

I was diagnosed with food poisoning and severe dehydration. Spent that night in the hospital, all day on the 16th (which incidentally was my birthday!) and was discharged after lunch on the 17th.

Here I am in my hospital bed at HTAA Kuantan

The moral of the story is: If you're living in Malaysia or places of a similar climate, especially if you're an expat, you need to drink plenty of water daily, coupled with electrolyte drinks like 100plus, Revive or Gatorade. Dehydration can both hit quickly, and creep up almost unnoticed. Make sure you have access to clean drinking water wherever you are, and drink it regularly, even if you think you are not doing much physical exercise or sweating rapidly.

Stay happy, healthy, and hydrated in Malaysia!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Back Alley

A back alley in Bukit Sekilau, Kuantan. When I go running I glance down each back alley and notice cats hanging out. I gaze at the hill and admire the scenery. Though not as beautiful, the back alleys do provide perspective!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

It is so hot!

Kuantan was so hot today. Really hot. The house was full of warm air, and even with the air-conditioning on in the English room, the rest of the house was still so warm. It's hard to be comfortable when the weather is like this, but I'll take it over the monsoon rains any day!

Hope you're having a pleasant day wherever you are.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Keep Calm and Run On

I spent a couple of days in hospital last year with severe dehydration, and I realised that I'm but a shadow of my old fit and healthy self. Despite suffering from asthma since young, I was a top cross-country runner throughout primary school and could run all day long.

I kept myself fit and healthy throughout my childhood and teenage years by playing football and tennis with PASSION. 

The problem is that since I got married, and particularly since we bought our new car in June 2012, I have been having no exercise at all. And even though I'm lean, it doesn't mean I'm healthy.

So I've had an awakening of late, and I'm now getting healthy again. I am reigniting my former passion of running.

Nike has some really good motivational posters in addition to these famous "Keep Calm" ones. I also bought myself a new pair of Nike sports shoes (or as we say in England, trainers).

I've been running on three consecutive mornings now, after taking Lauren to school. Feels great!

How do you keep fit and healthy?

Friday, March 8, 2013

News from Kuantan

I bought myself an ipad4 and I've been neglecting the laptop ever since. Poor laptop. As a result, it's been a while since I posted. So it's time for some updates.

  • We are watching with interest the war that is being played out in Lahad Datu, East Malaysia, between Malaysia and the invading Sulus. The Sultanate of Sulu is a long and historical saga of an island of the Philippines and their sultan who was given the land of Sabah long ago from the then-ruling Sultan of Brunei as a gift for helping him in war. Despite Malaysia's independence, which includes Sabah, the sovereignty of this portion of land has now been brought back into the spotlight by these invading Sulus who claim it still belongs to them. Whether it's all a political ploy with the Malaysian general election coming in a month's time, is debatable, but nevertheless, we are keeping updated with the latest news as Malaysia has rejected the Sulus proposal of a ceasefire and are now on the attack.

  • The rainy season seems to have finally gone for good. Yay! But now we are facing the familiar hot and humid afternoons as life beside the equator heats up once more!

  • Lauren is enjoying kindergarten. She wakes up with a smile, goes to school with a smile, and comes back home with a smile and many stories to tell. So that makes us happy :)

  • I got myself a 4-year visit pass from the Kuantan Immigration! That is amazing news for us! Once those 4 years are up, I can apply for PR (Permanent Residency). It means I no longer have to worry about making those frequent trips to Singapore and back just to get my passport stamped. I can't begin to tell you the degree of freedom I feel now that this is all sorted out. Living and working in Malaysia for our own business is the best possible life I could have dreamed of and I feel thankful to God each and every day for this life He has given me.

  • I'm feverishly working on the A-Z April blogging challenge. With under a month to go, I'm busy preparing two separate A-Zs. One is for this blog and the other is for our Horne Learning Services blog. I decided to do the second A-Z as it will help attract more visitors to our business, via both our blog and our facebook page. I'll be taking you through the alphabet including some of my favourite words, English language grievances and other associated thoughts.

Well, you are all updated. Sorry that there are so many words to read, and so little photos! Here is one recent picture showing the lovely weather we are enjoying right now. Have a great day, and thanks for reading!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Preparing for the April A-Z challenge

This week I decided to get cracking on my A-Z topic for 2013. If you are not aware, during the month of April each year, I participate in a blog challenge with thousands of other blogs. Each day, we compose a post centred on each letter of the alphabet.


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