Daniel Liew

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Cambodia: Siem Reap

Continuing from the previous post, after having some local Angkor beer and a good sleep, we hopped on a tuk-tuk to get to the bus station.

We took the Rith Mony bus company since that was what the airport taxi driver recommended us when we sent us to the hotel yesterday. The bus was supposed to arrive at 8am but ended up arriving an hour later. Very much to our surprise, the passengers were mostly locals. The bus ride from to Siem Reap was exceptionally long considering the bus often made frequent stops to pick up passengers along the way. I remember there were even women who got on board to sell locally grown produce when the bus made a stop.

Rith Mony

Unless you want to travel with the locals and don’t mind the longer-than-usual ride (usual ride is around six-hours), always ask for an express bus. These buses only stop in the major town and once for a comfort stop and are more reliable. I would recommend taking the Mekong Express, it is on time and only stop for lunch, on top of that there’s an attendant on board who can speak English.

Mekong Express Limousine Bus

There’s nothing more comforting than to arrive at Siem Reap. The hotel that we stayed for a night, Mekong Angkor Palace, provided us pick up from the bus station to the hotel. It is a really decent hotel with a reasonable price, we booked via Agoda and it cost us only USD 48 (MYR 160) for two rooms.

Mekong Angkor Palace

Mekong Angkor Palace

Mekong Angkor Palace

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Pebble: Precious Stone

“Hey, what is that on your wrist Daniel?”

“Wait, wait… Is this that cool smart watch from Kickstarter?”


These are the questions I always get whenever  people around me see my watch. Pebble!

This is my 4th timepiece since I started buying my own watches. The first was a Nike+ Sportswatch which was a total disappointment, it lasted for slightly over a year. Then I switched to an analog watch (Crocodile), sadly it lasted only for a year too. I was almost convinced not to wear watch anymore when my third analog watch (Esprit) also failed on me.

It’s safe to say that Pebble made it to my selection at a time when I have given up hope on analog watches, citing parts failure. I decided to get a digital this time. It’s an timely Christmas gift as a reward for the achievement earned and hard work for the year.

At first I have some reservations paying $150 for a watch. However I held back my reservations when most reviews I read are mostly positive. This is not some mainstream smart watch nor a fashion statement or timepiece. This is an extension to my phone where I can have notifications, shortcuts and apps on my wrist.

I placed the order on Friday, it was shipped on Tuesday and received my watch on Wednesday. Delivery took less than 5 working days. Pebble price of $150 is inclusive of free shipping via DHL express. It was an exciting moment to unbox the watch, mainly because there’s none of my friends who has a Pebble watch. I consider myself an early adopter and tech enthusiast.


It comes in a very nice cardboard package. The packing is minimalist! Inside the package lies the watch and a magnetic USB charging cable. I chose the Jet Black colour as it’s easier to go about with almost any attire and situation.


Setting up was a breeze. The ‘drift’ (jargon I learned from Pacific Rim) was almost instant. At the time of installation, the firmware received a new upgrade – version 1.14.1. The watch works well with my HTC One. I use the Pebble for its notifications for Facebook messages, Twitter mentions, SMS and calls. When I’m  wearing my Pebble, my HTC One is always unlocked while I’m carrying it.

It is basic, plasticky and has that rubberised feel. I can change the black rubber strap to metal/leather strap if I want to. Despite its simplicity, it’s rather attractive and sleek.


It uses the E-ink technology, hence making it less battery consuming, even with Bluetooth on 24/7 it only needs a recharge every 7-9 days.

I think wearable technology is slowly gaining its ground after smartphones and tablets. Do I think Pebble is for everyone? Well, yes, if you’re sick of analog watch, you want to be non-mainstream and is a tech enthusiast (hipster). I would say that Pebble is a chic-looking digital watch that lets users customise the clock interface and sends notifications for alerts.

Get your Pebble watch here. Get a trusted screen protector as companion from GadgetWraps.

My Favourite Carols

Just got back from church this evening, it’s already the 3rd week of Advent and today the priest wore a pink robe signifying a brief joyful interlude in the season of waiting and anticipation for the birth of Our Saviour. Last year I joined Lifeline’s carol group, we sung carols in the shopping malls, old folks homes and children’s homes. This year I decided to join the church choir instead, it is a proper choir with a combination of soprano, alto, tenor and bass. I’m a tenor.

There are a few carols which I really like. Some because of their tune, some because the words struck a chord to what I’ve experienced.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

The word Emmanuel translates to “God is with us”. I like this carol mainly because of the tune. It carries a sad tune in the beginning but quickly escalate to that of hope when we sing “Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee O Israel”. Israel is the name for God’s people. It tells of  how God sets his people free from captivity from slavery in Egypt and the great exile in the Old Testament, and subsequently the coming of Christ who frees us from the laws of sin and deaths.

O Holy Night

Being a choir member, one of the choir groups I like is the King’s College Choir.

The text reflects on the birth of Jesus and of humanity’s redemption. He taught us to love one another for His law is love and His gospel is peace. The best part is it’s sung softly, just like a mother who would sing a lullaby softly to her child before bed.

Sussex Carol

When sin departs before his grace, then life and health come in its place;
Angels and men with joy may sing, all for to see the new-born King.

All out of darkness we have light, which made the angels sing this night:
“Glory to God and peace to men, now and for evermore, Amen.”

On Christmas all Christians sing… This is a popular carol in Britain, its free-flowing and upbeat tune always brings a smile to me. I do remember when I first fell in love with the tune was during our first carol practice last year. It carries a very profound meaning, it is through God’s grace that we may gain life and health.

Little Drummer Boy

This is the a-cappella version sung by Pentatonix.

This carol relates a poor boy who has nothing to give to the infant Jesus but only his drum. He played his best for Him and the infant Jesus smiled at him. It’s also a mental note for myself that, despite the limitations that I have I will still serve Him, the Church and the community to the best of my ability.

We have every reason on earth and in heaven to rejoice.

Cambodia: Arrival

ជំរាបសួរ Chum reap suor (Hello) Cambodia!

Cambodia Travel
The last time I set foot to a neighbouring country in Southeast Asia was in 2007, it was a graduation trip to the enchanting Bali island in Indonesia. After Indonesia, the only countries I have visited are Australia and Singapore, both are developed countries. Tough I like the visual excitement offered by modern cities, there is this deep longing inside me to see the archaeological splendour of the majestic Angkor Temples, one of the world’s most impressive ruins.

My sister, her fiancé and I made the flight bookings to and fro Kuala Lumpur and Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. After the impulsive buying during the airline promo has set it, we found out that Angkor is not situated in Phnom Penh, to our surprise it is a 320km apart. Never mind that. For this trip, we hit two birds with one stone.

This is my first trip to a non English speaking country, the people speak Khmer. Spent 5 days 4 nights in the Kingdom of Cambodia with my family. Instead of opting for tour packages, I’ve decided to personalise our travel itinerary. Since we’ve made a blunder, hence we have to spend extra time travelling from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap (where Angkor Wat is located) and back to the capital again.

Upon arrival at the airport, I got myself a SIM card from telco provider Cellcard. It’s the most affordable for tourist, the SIM card costs $2 and I top it up with $5 to subscribe at 2GB data plan. Having a local mobile is useful especially when you need to call the hotel and tuk-tuk, calls within Cambodia cost only 5-8 cents a minute.

We ordered a taxi to take us downtown. The airport taxi charges a standard fare of $9 (roughly 36000 Riel or RM28). The ride downtown was an eye opener, motorists disregard traffic light rules and they seem to be able to manoeuvre skilfully amidst the busy streets.


Before coming to Cambodia, we booked our hotels from Agoda. We decided to pick Angkor International Hotel (website) simply because it offers a four-persons room at $50 (RM 158). Another reason being its relatively close distance to the waterfront.


The building in front of our windows.


Nothing beats a good local beer and pho (noodle soup) to call it a day.


After dinner, we took a stroll along the waterfront or better known as Sisowath Quay. The waterfront sits on the Tonle Sap River, where vendors sell fresh food and other dishes, locals sit and chat away.


The waterfront is where the local folks gather, whether for a walk or spend time with their children at the playground. It reminds me of what is missing in our society today – quality time with family. In big city where I come from, families either spend time at the shopping malls or glued to their gadgets.


To read the snippet of my Cambodia trip, here’s the link – Snippets of Cambodia.

This is our travel itinerary:

Day 1:
– Arrive at Phnom Penh International Airport
– Check-in to hotel in PP
– Sightseeing at night

Day 2:
– Bus to Siem Reap
– Check-in to hotel in SR
– Sightseeing around SR

Day 3:
– Tuk-tuk pick up at 5 am
– Sunrise at Angkor Wat
– Explore temples at Angkor Thom & Angkor Wat
– Old Market in Siem Reap

Day 4:
– Bus to Phnom Penh
– Check-in to hotel in PP
– Royal Palace

Day 5:
– Tuk-tuk pick up at 8 am
– Killing Fields at Choeung Ek
– Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (Security Prison 21)
– Depart from Phnom Penh International Airport

Why I don’t need a tablet anymore

I hate to play Angry Birds or Temple Run now, I guess I don’t get all the excitement about tablets anymore.

I got a daily dose of screen time at work on my desktop doing engineering stuffs – 40 plus hours a week. While I am out and about, the smartphone has a fair share of my personal time, I’d check updates on my social network accounts and flip through the cards on Flipboard.

With all of the new tablets coming out each year, ever since the introduction of the first generation iPad, I think everyone at least must have a tablet to supplement the smartphone and laptop. Thanks to the excitement of what a tablet can do, easily cramming all the functions into a single, compact, lightweight, long-battery-life gadget, I joined the hype. Yay!

A couple of years ago, I owned the iPad 2. A year later I downsized to a 7-inch Nexus 7, 10-inch was just too big for me. Months later I decided I need that extra productivity of a stylus, the Galaxy Note 8.0 was the call. I played around with it, it was fun.

Here’s a list of things I normally do on a table: watch video and TED talks, read ebooks and papers, surf the web, light productivity (email, calculators, document editing), social networking, listen to music and play games.

The tablet is especially valuable for its mobility and is great for travelling light. But when I’m at home it’s just not the most productive way for me to do anything that I do, I have the laptop and smartphone.

Back then to fully enjoy the portability of the tablet, I even subscribed to data plan. What is a eight-inch tablet if I am somewhere with no WiFi? An expensive big brick? I consider tethering a bad choice because it drains both the tablet and smartphone batteries altogether.

Instead of a going out care free and not looking awkward by ‘stuffing’ the tablet into my pants, I have to carry a messenger bag with me. More things to carry, double the worries.

And when I am out with friends, I’d rather talk to a real human in front of me than to Siri or Google Now. During my me time, I’d rather write a blog post on a laptop (with plenty of room for my fingers to type) than to split the tablet screen into half (half for display and half for typing).

It wasn’t fun anymore over time. The wonderful little tablet starts feeling ignored. Frankly, by the end of the day I just want to get away from screens, cook a meal, take a walk, go for a run, go out for a beer. In fact, it was a nice-to-have from the beginning, not a must-have for living and working.

Last week, I sold off my Note 8.0. I don’t see myself plunking down ~RM1000 for one of these tablets anytime soon.

I still look at my smartphone, of course.

[Update: Just got myself a Nexus 7 (2013) and I love every bit of the slate]

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