Category Archives: insights

Day 23 – family tahlil, emotional/inspiring songs and another big break

Joined a family tahlil ceremony(ies?) tradition on my father side. Every ramadhan, usually on a sunday. We go to 4 or 5 burial sites in one day, and recite surah yasin and tahlil. I used an a simple pdf based app I made a few years ago. The tahlil and yasin app I created was from a booklet that my brother had printed for our late father. It was because at that point there was none available then that was close to brunei’s traditions, it is surprising to know that different countries have different practices despite having the same language and the same religion, it was only then I found that the practice is considered by some muslims as bid’ah or innovations, at which different xountries have their own customized customs.
Regardless, I find the customs of yasin and tahlil to be a meaningful practice. For one it gets people to practice the recital of the surah itself. The tahlil, itself is a form of dzikr, or the remembrance or the self reminder towards god, and dedicating it all to the departed loved ones. While the whole practice is also a very good way for relatives to come together. While my uncles like to remind their kids and others of who was who, was buried where, and so on. It makes for a good reminder from where we came, our roots, our commonality.  and it also makes a good reminder of where we all are headed, to know that we will remembered long after our deaths. To be be honest, I feel the whole tradition is for the benefit of the living more than it is for the dead.

The locations we visited were 3 burial sites at Batu Satu, 1 burial site at makam di luba, and finally 1 burial site of my great grandfather at Kuala Belait. I have only started visiting that last site for the last 3 years. I remember my father, often visited that site whenever we were passing by to go to miri. But I had never visited until 3 years ago, where my uncle usually makes it his last stop, but most of us don’t want to make that almost 2 hour trip. That time around I decided I had nothing else left to do, so I went. According to my uncle, my great grandfather, was working in KB, but he got sick and passed away. During those days it would be very troublesome to transport a body that far, and it has always been a custom to bury a body close to the location of death instead of their life.

On a related note, at this point I was already sleep deprived, having only 5 hour sleep. But one trick I learned a while back was to play emotional and inspriring songs. And the feeling I got will usually counteract any sleepiness. Its not heavy metal songs, but meaningful inspiring songs. My playlist that afternoon was Linkin Park, Nickelback, Imagine Dragons, OneRepublic and covers by boyce avenue. Songs that I would belt out to, if I remembered the lyrics.

In the afternoon my swimming class cancelled due to the rain, so we proceeded early to my wife’s sister’s home. We bought some grilled salmon to complement the seafood fried rice they were preparing. Being there early I thought I would finally take a nap, but no, I didnt feel the need. Later that night I slept at midnight again, while waking up early for work the next day.

Me and my wife shared a single salmon. My wife decided to make a simple dessert out of some flour, nutella and ice cream to make a simple lava cake, and separately a sort of sardine puff.


Day 13 – despising and disgusted what people tend to do in ramadhan

13th day of ramadhan, 

Weight update: 85.2kg
In the morning, I had a management meeting followed by another meeting. After that I finally went to the toilet, a long seating session in the toilet. I guess how slow I eat also reflect on how slow I $#!+.

Broke fast with my wife’s sister’s family, over ate as we underestimated the amount of food that was bought and prepared. Next time check in with them how much they are preparing. Most of us were full and bloated, ao bloated my wife cancelled the night ride.

At night I was grocery shopping, and I saw a cart of nutella being moved to a car. Don’t get me wrong, I love nutella, despite it being half sugar. I just don’t have it as often. A thought came to me, a quite despising and disgusted thought, of how people misuse the month of ramadhan.

Ramadhan for me is a month where we are suppose to learn to control and discipline ourselves, understand how it feels by the less fortunate, to truly feel hunger. To clear our mind and body of impurities. We can do it in several ways and several levels. 

But what I see is some of us indulge ourselves, especially during the break/iftar/sungkai or the sahur. I admit I used to do this as well, being taught to eat a heavy meal during this time. Having to eat a full stomache. To which even though through ramadhan in my youth I used to lose 2kg, but I often gained that 2kg back during raya/eid and even more. 

It has only the last few years I realized why it was so, and how I could truly and significantly reduce my weight. In general, not to eat as much. In 2012, I broke my fast with low carb, in 2013, I broke fast with light food like nasi katok and ran at night, 2014-2016 I was doing the same. In 2015, I managed to lose 7kg in that one month, but I gained it all back in 2 weeks of raya. It was last year, I realized this was a trend and broke that trend by learning about intermittent fast, and doint it during raya and managed to maintain my weight loss. And this year I have lost 8 kg in 12 days, and I can stand to lose more by the end of the month.  And will try to maintain it during raya. Generally it is only eating between 2pm and 10pm, 8 hours of feast with 16 hours of fast. And maybe another 7 day fast.

I have learnt truly accepting the concept of energy in vs energy out, and the that the body won’t be able use fat if it has energy consumed, and that the body can survive without food for 7 days, and still maintain athletic performance.  In my wife’s case even some improvements.

The disgust I felt led to a sense of sympathy, that most people don’t know what I know, or they “know”, but they won’t practice or accept. I could tell people, as I have done before, and even through sharing on this blog, but some will have their reservations, some even skeptical, and others wouldn’t care. People will still buy what or as much as they usually do, and eat as much as they usually do and more. On the other side, businesses will sell as much food as possible. I admit the food business is the best business to go into during fasting month, a lot of food stalls, a lot of buffet in a lot of restaurants, a lot of hungry people. But with that there is also wastage. Some foods won’t be bought and won’t be eaten or finished. 

I myself have had sold food during these ramadhan stalls. And in the last one I realized wasn’t being in integrity. Despite the fact that I was already into less carbs in food, but I was selling food like burgers and waffles, because people were hungry, they liked it, and bought it, and I could get money. Where was the integrity? How could I promote a healthy nutrition if I was part of the problem as well? But how do I fix it? I preach either low carb or low consumption, and even by selling a low carb meal (like fish or chicken) will be more challenging and more work, and that would still be eating a lot. Heck, when I was selling, it was also tempting to buy the food around me, and a few times I did and ate until I was full. So since that realization I stopped selling during these stalls. And it had been a lot easier for me to eat less. These year, less than ever, with A 7-day water fast.

The 7 day water fast has taught me a few more lessons as well. How far I can push myself, really experiencing fat burning through fasting. How hunger, real hunger feels like. The normal 1 day fast does help a person sense a difference, but a 7 day fast helps me to feel for those more unfortunate ones in the world that rarely eats. That last day I felt a weakness, if I didn’t have to work that day, I would have taken a day off, or at least be too weak to be productive. I bet a 30 day fast would show me even more, but I am not ready for that…. Yet.

I know selling food is a source of income for many entrepreneurs this fasting month, I can’t blame them for making money. I have done so in the past. I just wish I knew what the useful alternatives are, or else it would be a very quiet month. Maybe it should be? A month of rest? Of abstinence? maybe even some self reflection?

The search goes on…

Dark Trolls Abound


My wife and I teach people how to swim, I admit we charge higher than most other swim instructors, but we get results. Some of our students started from never going into the pool, to being able to do 50m swim. We market ourselves through social networks such as facebook and Instagram, which leads to our website at Teaching swimming supplements my salary, while it is currently the main income for my wife.


Recently, someone on facebook commented on several of our posts, posting the same comment to more than 40 of our posts. Degrading our classes, our methods and our results. Reading it, I admit I was upset, I was angry, I was frustrated. But I kept in mind, haters be hating. I was torn for a moment to not feed the trolls, but realized that they posted on several of our posts, more than 40! So, I thought, hey this person really wants to be heard, so I decided to reply to them to ensure them, that they have been heard by replying to their comment.

The troll comments

I only found out the troll comments 2 hours after the posts.



My reply

This reply I made was composed as soon as I read the comments. And copy pasted as replies to other comments the person made.

Thank you for your input.
however we do what we can to get students to be able to swim. in the end most of our students are able to swim, that is what we feel is important, we do recommend our student to practice on their own after the classes. we hope our students who have tried our classes for the last 2 years to be our testimonials.
but let me present from our side.

1. improper teaching and injury. we haven’t have any feedback from previous students about injuries, we do try to teach the “proper” techniques, but we allow for “imperfections” as we do not expect the students get everything perfect in their first swimming classes.
*drag water, resistance, and short glide. we actually try to tell students to reduce drag, unfortunately some have heavy legs, and still new to the techniques to maintain a streamline position. and some are even uncomfortable with a long glide as it requires them to be under water for longer than they are comfortable with.

2. high price is a matter for perspective, and mastering the basics of swimming takes a lot of time and effort, even for people who have swam for a while, we do what we can to share or to inform or educate our students on the basic skills, but to master and perfect it will take some more time and practice after the class.

3. pay more? we don’t force them to join and pay for our next classes unless they are comfortable with what they learnt in the previous classes. if they choose to, some (very rarely) may take the same class again to master what they learnt. but others often choose to practice on their own until they are ready for the next level.

4. the “talking” i guess you are talking about may refer to when we are sharing the principles behind the swim techniques, in other cases it may be to help get the students comfortable, before and in between drills. we believe that an effective method teaching method is not just showing the students what they should do, but also informing them, and reminding them of the reasons behind it. sometimes it is also a time for us to give them feedback on their techniques on what they can do to improve.

5. beware? sure, everyone should be wary or be aware before they take any class. do their own research, own due dilligence, they might even be wary of any positive or negative comments, everyone should practice making up their own minds before accepting anything they read or hear. including our classes. make up your own mind. make your own decisions, if you choose that this class is worth it or not, it is your choice.

6. no improvements and getting worse? we are unclear where you are getting this information, most of our students starts from zero, as in not being able to swim, to being able to swim, at least the width of the pool, to even 50m of the people. we do not expect everyone to learn at the same pace, we admit different people may learn at a different rate, and we have had a rare few have not been able to swim as well as the other students. but everyone does their best.

7, 8, 9. waste of time, energy and money? everyone has a right to subjectively determine that own their own. we do not judge anyone who have their own opinions, if you believe so, then it is your choice to do so, if anyone do not believe that this class is worth their time, energy and money, then we may not be a good fit for them, and then you may choose any other available options.

to be honest, we do feel upset reading this comment, and trying our best to reply calmly and reasonably to this post, we do feel that your approach in commenting to our page is unprofessional and quite spiteful, but we understand that people are entitled to their opinions, however misguided. thank you for your comment, we will not delete these comments, to be fair and to show that we are open to any feedbacks, but we will copy paste this and reply to all the comments that you have made, to ensure that everyone sees both sides.

As we are sharing this with our previous students, they actually support us, they actually express their understanding of our teaching techniques, and remind us what a good job we have been doing, and how much they (our students) have achieved since.
it has been quite heart warming to get feedbacks from our students to affirm us that we are doing is contributing and adding value to their lives. thank you (our students) on reminding us of this.



I was curious about who was this person that commented in such a demeaning manner, and what incited to them to express themselves in such a negative way. so I tried to check on their profile, but found out it was a fake account possibly to just comment on our facebook page. I have to acknowledge this person’s tenacity to actually create a fake account, and to comment a long post, and to copy paste it to more than 40 of our posts.

My head has been wildly speculating on the identity of this troll.

  • could it be the lifeguards that we annoyed by complaining about the closing times?
  • could it be the other swimming instructors, jealous of our success in getting new students every month, and charging a higher fee and thus earning more than them, and so “stealing” their income.
  • Could it be a previously unsatisfied student? a possibility that I cannot honestly accept, as most of my students seem to be satisfied by our classes, being able to do things they were never able to do in the first place.

But looking at the comments, it doesn’t look like they understand our technique and purpose. Especially about the resistance and short glide, as the first things that we teach our students is to reduce resistance, and do long glides, we revise this every lesson, and remind the students repetitively.

This person seems to “know” the “perfect” technique, so most likely is an instructor.

My guess is this person is simply judging from either looking at the videos we posted or from observing from the pool itself. I admit some of the videos of students swimming are not the “perfect” technique, but it shows them completing a swim across the width or length of a pool. We try our best to teach efficiency and effectiveness. But we will take up effectiveness to efficiency every time. We would prefer to let the students be inefficient but get across the pool, than to try to be perfect before they can reach the end of the pool. We do not expect all our students to have a perfect technique, we will guide them to use the technique that they are comfortable with in order to be able to cross that pool.

One of my concern is that some of these comments are not accurate simply because of mistaken identity, they may be associating a different instructor with effortless swim.

These wild speculations had begun to cause suspicions to people around the pool. But I realized, it is a futile effort. There is currently no way of identifying this person, so It is better to believe that none of these people are suspects or else my brain is just going to get haywire as this person’s. Thinking badly of other people. Not my style. Although…

Funny things about the troll

a swimming student of mine pinpointed a few interestingly funny facts that I would love to share here as well.


This troll is “friendless”.


This troll has no visible experience or history. They have “nothing to show”.


Personal Opinion

I am blessed to be smart, generous and kind. And in addition, I have been trained in education, counselling and self-development. I understand trolls appear out of nowhere. It is not that they hate a particular person, item or idea, but they may hate a lot of other things as well. It is not us, it is them.

I do not belittle any other instructors, what they teach is how they teach, their technique is their technique. Our general goal is the same, to get our students to swim. The approach or the specific goal/objectives is different. Some focus on competitive swimming, we focus on being able to swim for leisure and recreation.

I actually even give the contact numbers of other instructors that are friendly to me, to people who we cannot cater. For example, those who ask for swimming lessons outside our available schedule, or for kids (we prefer not to teach kids, different skill sets and motivation), or to those who want the competitive edge.

I am aware great people are liable to get scrutinized, to be judged, and even harassed. So I thank this troll to confirm that we have reached that level of success.

For the benefit of anyone else who may have experience trolls like this, I recommend to watch a few YouTube videos that explain and outline the science of trolls.

In general,

  • trolls like to troll because they enjoy trolling,
  • they often don’t hate anything for specific or personal reasons, they hate anything in general,
  • they are often sadistic, which means they enjoy inflicting pain upon others
  • Do not feed the trolls, ignore them and they may fade away. But if necessary, point out inconsistencies in their points.

The troll commented on a significant amount of posts, and contained several inaccuracies, so I decided that they really wanted a response. Not sure what type of response, but I gave mine, and interestingly so did a few students.

Silver Lining

In all this virtual commotion, we shared with some of our previous students, and it was heartwarming to know that the students didn’t share or agree with the troll. Some gave motivational replies, and others even replied to the troll in our defense (we did not ask them to do so). Despite the frustration this troll has caused us temporarily, It has been our students’ satisfaction, loyalty, and support that gives me relief, hope and joy.


Watch “How I hacked an ultramarathon by thinking like an entrepreneur | Phil Sanderson | TEDxBeaconStreet” on YouTube

I have been pondering about something like this for a while.
Actually the reverse, Strategies in successful sports training to be applied to entrepreneurship.
I did my half ironman in 2014, and I was thinking the strategies I applied then could be used in success in business.
In terms of sports these were the strategies
1. A goal – I signed up for a race, saw the  cut off times, decided to focus to finish on time. I kinda had an accountability buddy, the guy who got me to sign up. We didn’t train together much, but we did update each other on our training.
2. A plan – knowing about the target, researched what I need to do to achieve it. Reviewed what I already had, and looked at what I need to improve, swimming and running was okay, I needed to increase my cycling speed and distance, and get used to brick training. I.e. Running after cycling.
Created a training schedule I needed to follow.
3. Execution, monitoring and adaptation. Used an android app endomondo to monitor my performance.  To see if I am on track. Seeing the improving results gave a positive feedback to continue. Some people can afford to buy the multisport watches like suunto ambit or the garmin 920xt.
4. Show up to the event. And enjoy the results and rewards of the training.

Now I have been think to apply it to business or making money.
1. Set a goal – an amount of money by when.
2. Research and plan – reflect.on what resources I already have, and find out what business I can do, when I need to do it and how.
3. Execute, monitor and adapt – Do it, track the sales, financials. Change if anything needs to.
4. Results and rewards. Enjoy the fruits of your labour.

For now I am still in phase 2, looking into what I have done, and what I can do.

Being a leader

I was leading a few people on a new hike trail yesterday, and I realized i was a leader. It was not my intention, but i had become one.
I had gone on the trail a few times, and I was only roughly familiar with the route. But i was the only one familiar with the route. I have supervised a hike for a leadership camp before, but we had a guide to follow. And the route was fairly clear.

I realized this group was relying on me to get them through this. I was the one who can confidently traverse the terrain, I was the one fit to lead. There might have been in the group that were fitter, but they couldn’t lead as they didn’t know the route. There were markers on the route, I just needed to keep an eye on them. I had to ensure the group was together, so I had to slow myself and the fast ones down. I noticed the slow ones technique was tiring or inefficient,  so I went back and gave pointers. I only wished I had bought extra drinks so they could have a sip as theirs were finished.

I realized leading people in a hike is no different than leading people in general.
Either you have to know the way or have someone who does.
The leader needs to inform the followers what to expect, or what they are getting into so that they can make their own preparations.
The leader needs to be aware of the surrounding to make decisions as necessary.
The leader needs to be aware of the followers, and make decisions based on the collective interest.
The leader needs to assess the strength and weaknesses of the followers to adjust to their capabilities.
If possible the leader needs to advise the followers of what they can do for themselves.

A leader by its simplest definition is to lead others. We are all leaders at some point in our lives. Great leaders lead to change the world for the better.