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Straight after inclusive breakfast at about 9am we hit the adventure trail again.
First we visited the famous Boh Tea estates, the old and the new. Tea laden mountains are always a soothing sight for the eyes, almost like a gigantic maze hewn into the mountain slopes. And the fung shui is always good for the troubled soul.
While contemplating over an Orange Pekoe, which is much more subtle than an aromatic astringent Earl Grey, absorbed by the vista, I wondered why the owners had not value-added by upgrading the roadway up the mountain, setting up a gated top security 6 star conference centre and a secluded Zen mountain spiritual revitalisation and detoxication resort with its own helipad and its own Botanical Gardens like the one in Victoria Island in Vancouver, having tea mountain walking trails whilst retaining the existing tea operations as a backdrop. Just a retreat for ‘hippies’ who like Bill Gates are now capitalists with a hippie soul.
After that we traversed away from the tourist beaten track and entered unpublicised hidden verdant valleys with steep hillsides and its terraced market gardens and flower nurseries. There was always the same long and windy country road, with a surprise at every bend and corner, whether it be a vehicle coming from the other direction and by intuition, horning and sign language work out how one or the other was to move aside to the nearest by-way or slip, or a change in the scenery. Where the virgin forest has yet to be touched or tilled wild flowers bloom in gay abundance and sprite. I sighted the ubiquitous morning glory, canna, hibiscus, wild orchid, dahlia, tree ferns and trumpet flowers amongst flowers which names I have now forgotten.
We would travel till we reached a dead end in the bitumen and a jungle trail begins. Like an intrepid traveller we listened to the sound of the mountain streams, brooks, cascades competing with the small willy wagtails singing from bush to bush. I was surprised when I sighted some Australian gumtrees amongst the native fauna.
I think I have discovered a little secret nook that I could retire to and build a little retirement shack a short distance from the Chinese market gardeners who would supply me with vegetables for my then vegetarian diet. Annie killed that thought swiftly by declaring that it would be criminal for me to desert her when she has yet to finish university and that she would take Mum away from me so that there would be no one to look after me. I then teased her by singing what I described was Mum’s favourite song – ‘I will follow him’. She dismissed that as nonsense, as she has never known her Mum to ever sing that song. I think she was trying to say that there was no evidence to prove my assertion. So, I lost the debate as usual.
We returned to civilisation, and ended up finding a Chinese restaurant called Yee Yew in Taman Tringkap, off the main road through Tringkap. The food was very good and the customers were locals, who spoke only in Mandarin, including the lady who took our order. We spoke to her in Cantonese but she replied only in Mandarin. Some locals at the other tables conversed in Cantonese. The party at one table nearby spoke in a mixture of Hakka and Cantonese. We had deep fried tilapia Thai style and stir fried water cress and stir fried potato leaves. This was after an earlier email from Victor that we should take advantage of the fresh Cameron vegetables. You have to eat really quickly though when the food arrives. First of all you have scoop your food and rice and to eat with one hand, as you need the other hand free to shoo the pestilent ever present flies away. You also have to put the food in your mouth quick like a trapdoor. If you don’t the fly or flies would follow the food into your mouth. I wonder if flies qualify as protein of some sort. But give credit where it is due, the food was good. The hygiene? Well! I hate to think what the toilets might be like!
Tell you what! Flies are not stupid after all! They prefer the cool climate of the Cameron Highlands to the torrid heat of the Klang Valley.
There are jungle durian (as distinct from kampung durian because of the very small size) stalls and also petai stalls along the main trunk road through the major Cameron towns or villages. I did not stop to buy any or either. Imagine the hydrogen sulphide one would produce consuming both together in holiday eagerness and gluttony?
Tell you what. Rest assured that KL will not run out of vegetables. From the size and extant of the plastic greenhouses and terraced market gardens and hydroponic farms all the way across into Kelantan from Pahang, and the resilience and hardworking toughness of the Chinese market gardeners, they have given a new meaning to the term ‘assiduousness’.
I had a half an hour work out at the hotel gym ‘cycling’ while the two ladies were having afternoon ‘high tea’. Jo had to instruct her to start with the savoury and work her way to the sweet.
Later we went up the road to Brinchang to visit the Malay Puasa market stalls. At 5 pieces for 2 ringgit we bought some an assortment of lumpia, karipap, muruttu, goreng pisang, goreng kledek, pesambor, toufu bakar and kueh goreng kacang hijau.
We had dinner in the hotel in ‘The Dining Room’ where else? Annie had salad and cheese macaroni, Jo had French onion soup and seafood spaghetti and I had mushroom chowder and beef medallions. Before the meal, they brought the bread basket and also butter. It was good showing and explaining Western table etiquette to Annie. She was going to swap her bread plate with what she thought was her dinner plate. I said it was not a dinner plate but a plate that they will later place the soup bowl or whatever appetiser over. I explained that the bread knife was not meant to be used to cut the bread. It was only a butter knife. As Christians we ‘break’ bread and not cut bread before we butter it with the butter knife. In fact she dropped her butter knife in the process of using it. I told her that it was impolite to pick up any cutlery that was dropped. The waiter will always have to replace it with a new one. We eat Chinese at home and even when we eat Western at home we do not ‘dine’ as such. Simple Western dining etiquette has to be taught. Like a lady does not lay her own napkin. The waiter has to do that for her. A man however usually does it himself to show that he is manly and does not have to be spoon-fed. So this holiday has been good in showing Annie her worldly table manners.
The service was very good, it was a really fine restaurant. But somehow the Western meal did not taste very Western. The soft little tiny bread rolls were not suited to dipping in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. What was required was a good baguette – crispy and crunchy on the outside and soft inside. I had to ask for chilli flakes for my olive dip. Then the olive oil was more like cooking olive oil. The French onion soup was a lot better than the one I had last night at the Olde Smoke House. Annie’s salad with mozzarella cheese was good saved by the fresh Cameron vegetables. Her cheese macaroni was simply bland. Italian cheese has a distinctive flavour and aroma. Hers was definitely not Italian. The tomato sauce used in Jo’s was definitely straight from a can. My beef medallion though tender unlike the ‘wild buffalo’ type of sirloin I had last night, was again raw when I had similarly ordered ‘medium to well done’, as I had done last night. Still I cannot complain. I get the converse treatment when I order Hainanese Chicken Rice in Sydney or Bak Kut Teh in HK. So, in Malaysia do not expect to get Western food the same standard as in the West.
Well, we are off to Penang tomorrow, but will be passing through Ipoh and Taiping on the way. We will stick to Malaysian hawker food from now on. We did not like the look of the Malaysian hawker food in Cameron. They did not have the KL look about it. And the people serving, cooking or selling did not have the KL demeanour about them. They all have these look like the food proprietors in Bentong or Kuala Lipis or Telok Intan about them. I tell you what. Once you are out of KL, you can forget about a good BKT or Hokkien Mee!
A fan of mine, Alessandra Cristina de Souza, in discussions with me said in their view the friends they keep as true friends are friends that are trustworthy, supportive, comprehensive, caring, helpful, respect boundaries and the others limitations, interact with friends on a daily basis and understand who you are.
She stated that real friends should treat others in a respectful way, always understanding how far they can go, while dealing with personal beliefs and opinions. They should respect the particularities that each one involved carries from their background. And that those matters affect directly the pacing of a healthy friendship. Based on that, friends might try to their best to reach an agreement about their different insights, avoiding some probable polemic subjects, doing the best they can do to keep their friendship, no matter what.
She declared that friends that show how trustworthy and supportive they are from the first moment, contribute to a high level of commitment from both sides, creating strong bonds for life. In her opinion, these types of friends show how reliable they are and this turns to be one of the most important points in a friendship. Maybe its core.
She told me that friends might engage themselves in the relations they share, keeping contact and never refusing to help each other, in spite of hard circumstances. They should give the best they possess to make others feel confident and sure about their decisions and secrets revealed. It ensures that genuine friends, should find always a safe territory in their friendship; a safety net to help them improve their capacity to interact with freedom and to be who they really are, with no prejudice, judgment or any other harmful actions.
She agreed that a real friendship is based in trust, whereas those she did not maintain a friendship with tended to end because those friends were unreliable, unattached, distant, unemotional or not committed enough to it.
She claimed that unreliable friends break the alliance they share by telling others important information, being indiscreet and breaking the trust code set previously. They can do it by placing mean comments or even displaying private pictures and videos through the social media, without permission.
She affirmed that unattached, distant or unemotional friends simply don´t seem to care enough about the friendship shared, always falling back to lame excuses to reassure their self-centered way in dealing with it. Those kinds of friends seem to be selfish and only trying to satisfy themselves all the way, never caring about the other part. They create their own rules and act on their behalf, not getting involved and always avoiding a deep exchange of information or feelings. They are distant and cold most of the time.
She concluded that real friends are deeply connected. The connection that they share is unbreakable. It is a strong bond that keeps them together through many tough times and situations. Even though it is difficult to find and hard to maintain, because there are fallible human beings involved. However she believes that genuine friends truly exist.
Reciprocal balance is not a mathematical formula. Clearly the needs of either party will shift depending on life’s circumstances. However, in a functioning true friendship each party is present during times of crises and times of joy. If someone is your true friend then they should cross your mind at least once a day. Even if life gets busy and they are only able to contact you once a week, if you are absence from their mind for the duration of that week then I would question how close the friendship is. In this day and age, where communication is so easy, and where you can send a text within ten seconds, there’s no excuse for saying, ‘Sorry I haven’t messaged you for a month. I had time to go on Facebook six times a day. I had time to go on internet dating sites each day. I had time to chat to other friends. I had time for my family. I had time for my partner. I had time for my kids. I had time for work. I had time for … but sorry I didn’t have time for you.’ This demonstrates a clear lack of commitment to the friendship. It is a reciprocation failure. If a true friend does not contact you if you don’t contact them, then raise the red flag. This is not acceptable in a true friendship.
It is fine to have personal space. It’s okay to have time out. However, there are no part-time true friendships. Last I checked there are no part-time marriages, no part-time parenting and no part-time commitments where you value the thing you are committing to. Again, I emphasise that what I am saying does not apply to occasional friendships, acquaintances, colleagues and the like. I have so-called ‘other friends’ in my life and it is good to know a mix of people; however, this book is about true friendship, how to find it and how to keep it.
He was an innocent, 21. He had just started a graduate job in finance at a big bank in Sydney. Gay but discreet. Work gave him the option of a two week training trip to Dubai. James was a solid worker. He wanted to be a big shot in the banking industry one day. Maybe even go to London. Sex was not a priority for him. It wasn’t his driver. He loved to work. So he agreed to the Dubai thing. He wasn’t alone, there were other graduates on the trip. They didn’t know he was gay. Not yet anyway. He had a hotel room to himself. He was on the 25th story of the Radisson in downtown Dubai. It was their first night. James didn’t realise but his so called conservative mates were actually recreational drug users. James had never done drugs. He had never even contemplated it. In fact he said no. One of his colleagues actually dropped a bit of acid into his vodka lime and soda. James started hallucinating. He told his colleagues he had to go back to the hotel and have a lie down. He had never done this before but he said to himself I haven’t been with many guys I wanna meet someone tonight. It was very out of character. Normally he was happy just to chat to guys. Maybe meet in person and chat and if the guy was exceptional and there was some connection then yeah sex. His head was spinning. He could barely see what he was doing. He changed his profile to say horny white boy from Australia wants it right now. His Grindr lit up like a Xmas tree. Gay sex is illegal in Dubai but you wouldn’t think so the way his Grindr lit up like air traffic control before a place crash. James was terrified. So unprecedented. He went into the hot balmy night of Dubai. He was ready for it right now. He caught a taxi to the guys place. He went to the guys place. They got straight into it. James never told anyone where he was going. Not a soul. Not his best friend. Not his colleagues. His mum rang up his boss the next day frantic and said where is James? His good friend Jacob had sent 36 messages on his phone. James’ phone was in the desert. So was he.
If you don’t ask, you don’t get
AUTHOR:Paul BoagDATE:Fri 6 Jul 12CATEGORY:Audio Insights, NewsREADING TIME:
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In the world of sales there is a basic principle: “if you don’t ask, you don’t get.” In other words, you need to reach the point where you push the customer to make a decision. You need to ask them whether they are ready to buy.
You need to reach the point where you push the customer to make a decision. You need to ask them whether they are ready to buy.
Inexperienced sales people often avoid this step. They are worried that they might scare the customer off. There is something very final about forcing a decision. What if they say no? What if they get annoyed at you?
The same is true for websites. The point comes where we need to encourage users to complete a call to action. We need to motivate them. If we don’t, we increase the chances of them wandering off, or going to the competition.
We need to be careful that we don’t worry so much about the users sensibilities, that we never tell them what we want from them.
Putting principles into practice
With that in mind, I have something I want to ask of you.
As from September, I am going to be investing a lot more time into the podcast. I want to build it back up to where it was in its heyday and I am hoping you might help me with that.
There will be lots of ways you can help in the future. However, for right now I have two requests…
You make as much noise as possible about the show going weekly again. Blog it, tweet it, shout at random strangers on the street. I think a lot of people are under the impression that the podcast has stopped and I need to change that.
Can you please review the podcast on iTunes. These review effect my listing and with the new iPhone podcast app this is more important than ever.