Category Archives: Daily Tales

Instructions: Take a slice of real life. Add some curiosity, a splash of detective work, and a generous helping of creativity. Stir well and set aside to simmer for a few days.

Playing Monopoly with kids

For the Chinese, Chinese New Year is a time where extended families gather together from all around the world, and friends and relatives visit each other.

Which means kids. And this set of kids I ended up with one day wanted to play Monopoly.

There were six of us, so we randomly split into three groups of two. Already, we had an issue. Someone wanted to team with someone else. Fortunately, no one else actually cared, so it didn’t become a big deal. 

So we distributed the money, chose our tokens, and started the game. It was pretty normal, other then the fact that theth kids had trouble remembering whose turn it was (maybe that, too, is normal). One team was super unfortunate, but they didn’t fuss much, which was great. One team that had a lot of money actually decided not to buy a house when they could because they would ‘lose money’.

After some time, one kid introduced the rule that people could ‘cheat’ if they give all the teams 1000 Monopoly money (bribery!). In this case, it let the rich team get a hotel straightaway for their property. But that wasn’t all. They rolled a special red dice to get a ‘3’, and that let them roll four times in a row during their turn for the rest of the game.

The rest of the game kinda fell apart some time afterwards. I don’t remember who won. I left when they said they would start counting to see who won. I’m pretty sure they didn’t really do it in the end though.


A ‘lucky’ day

When people say they are ‘lucky’, it’s usually a good thing, like winning a lottery. But I’ve always wondered, what about bad luck? Isn’t that luck too? By that logic, someone who is truly ‘lucky’ would have had both good luck and bad luck intertwined.

Like what happened to me a while ago.

Good luck – I rushed to train station and barely caught the train.

Bad luck – The train I caught was experiencing a disruption, so we had to take replacement buses.

Worse luck – The buses were there, but none of them were moving, and quite a large crowd had gathered waiting for those buses.

Worst luck – When the buses finally started operating, there were so many people I couldn’t squeeze in, so I had to stay behind and wait for the next bus.

Good luck – As the last bus left, we received news that the train was back on track, so we could just go back to the platform and wait for the train, which would be faster than taking a bus.

Bad luck – I was late to work anyway.

Good luck – It didn’t matter.

? luck – If I had missed the train, I could have skipped this confusing event completely.

Playing hide and seek with kids

Not long ago, a cousin’s wedding brought my extended family together, and I had the chance to hang out with my three youngest cousins, aged around 4 to 9. One of the things we did together was to play hide and seek in a park.

I was the first seeker, so I dutifully counted down and pretended not to hear their squeals as they scrambled to their hiding spots. The moment I finished, I turned around. The first thing I saw was my youngest cousin crouched under the slide, in plain view, with the largest grin on her face. Well, she’s still pretty young, so it’s ok if she didn’t really grasp what we were doing

A few seconds after that, the oldest cousin jumped out from his hiding place and dashed for the to the toilet. That was fine too. Better not ignore nature’s call just for a simple game.

As for the last cousin… My youngest cousin led me straight to him.

She wasn’t the only one to do so. In the next few rounds, if I found one, I’d basically found all three, because those who had been found would lead me straight to everyone else.

So, for those wanting to play hide and seek with kids, here’s a tip: Don’t just hide from the seeker. Hide from everyone else too.

A day at Hanging Rock

Not long ago, I went to Melbourne’s “Hanging Rock” (also formally known as “Mount Diogenes”). Someone told me that it used to be a volcano, and Professor Wikipedia says that it’s a mamelon (which sounds like spikes of lava-turned-rock). But that’s not important. The important part is that it’s a pretty interesting place to hike.

Most hiking trails have fixed paths. Hikers choose one route, and walk along it for how ever long they want. Hanging Rock also has that, but it also has a lot of interesting side paths formed by the many rock structures. Just looking at it gets the writer part of me reaching for stories of hidden organisations and secret meetings. It’s a cool place to be, even if it can be pretty dangerous.

Didn’t take any pictures, which in hindsight is a bit of a missed opportunity, but also a sign of how much the area interested me. It isn’t everyday that I get the chance to basically map out my own obstacle course. How far can I go? Would I be able to get back if I take the jump over to that next rock? Is it stable enough for me to put my weight on it?

The area also doesn’t fence up a lot of areas. So I could actually climb the rocks at the summit. But it was really cold that day, and at the top of the rocks, there’s nothing else to protect me from the crazy strong wind. I would have liked to go higher, but the wind was strong enough to actually push me over, and slipping off the rock wouldn’t be a nice way to finish off a social gathering.

After this, I have a better understanding of why people like mountain climbing. It can be dangerous, but there’s also the thrill of exploration that can be hard to find on trails where the path is set and everything has been fenced off.

Just… no selfies on the edge. Free falling is the fastest way down, but I’m sure climbing down can be fun too.


Happy Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year

New year? It’s already February.

Well, that’s according to Gregorian calender. According to the Chinese lunar calender, the year has only just begun.

Read the rest of this entry

Swimming alone in a big pool

Not long ago, I had the rare opportunity to enjoy a large swimming pool.



Just me and the water having a little date.

Read the rest of this entry

When kindness becomes a weakness

Not long ago, I was approached by two students looking for people to participate in their art project. It was a survey where the participant looked at a handiwork and said how much they would be willing to pay for the item.

Honestly, it wasn’t very good. The student suggested RM60, because they were trying to get a certain amount so they could finish up earlier. Sure, not my project.

Then they asked me to pay for it.

What? That was not what they told me. I wasn’t going to pay RM60 for junk. I can help, but only half at most. The student was fine with that. I didn’t have small change with me, so I gave RM 50.

He never gave my change back.

At this point, I felt like I was being robbed. I was being robbed, in broad daylight. But fine, I already started helping, I’ll help until the end (好人做到底). The student gave me chopsticks instead, but what I really wanted was my RM50 back.

Then it was the friend’s turn.

I already gave the other person money, so it wouldn’t feel nice not giving to this person too, who really did most of the effort in roping me in (in hindsight, I could have just filled the survey and told him to get the money from the other guy).

I’m pretty sure it’s a scam. Handmade projects don’t come wrapped in plastic. And you’re not supposed to get money from participants. You’re supposed to compensate your participants for taking the time to do your survey. But knowing the signs is very different from stopping on the spot and running off. And some of these people can get very violent.

It hurts. These kinds of scams only work on people kind and generous enough to take their time and money to help out other people. It’s because of people like this that I don’t give money to the beggars on the street. I already know I’m bad at telling fakes from those who actually need money. I don’t want to inadvertently fund a human trafficking ring or something.


I can still help other people, but this kindness is a weakness. People say it’s a character strength, but kindness is what gets people into trouble when they risk pieces of themselves for other people. It is only a character strength because kind people are kind despite the risks.

Hence, for someone who is willing to embrace this weakness, appropriate protection is needed.

For myself, I’m setting some ground rules: First, no money for strangers. Second, I can stop helping whenever I want.

As far as life lessons go, RM70 is pretty cheap, but it still leaves a bitter memory.

The value of being early, walking fast and other stuff

I stay quite near to a train station. Usually, I start leaving the around 9 minutes before the train comes, if I’m early. Leaving 4 or 5 minutes before the train comes would be a little rushed, but I’ll still get there earlier than the train.

A few weeks ago, I left the house early. Just around 2 minutes before I reached the train station, I realized that I left my handphone charging at home. My dad happened to be home that day, so my first instinct was to call him and ask him to bring the phone to me, then I realised that I can’t for obvious reasons.

So, I rushed back home and grabbed my phone. My dad and I got into the car and we reached the train station under 1 minute. I dashed up to the platform and just made it to the train.

Thank God for cars and dads who just happen to be at home when you need them. =)


Surprise Birthday Party

I’ve always read about surprise birthday parties in fiction. Recently, I was (sort-of) actively a part of the preparation of a surprise birthday party.

It’s as exciting (maybe even more) as it is presented in fiction. Everyone in the house sneaking around while trying to pretend that nothing unusual is going on meters away from the birthday girl. My younger sister has been gifted with a bunch of friends who are willing to go through the trouble of hiding and setting up a secret party for. We have been gifted with a younger sister/older sister/daughter/friend who likes to sleep in, thus making it easier for us to sneak around in the rest of the house.

Her friends appeared at the house one at a time. To make sure that my sister wouldn’t notice that something was off, we directed them to the back of the house where they would drop their shoes off as they got in (suddenly having ten new shoes of different sizes for no apparent reason at the shoe rack would have been incredibly suspicious). Someone was always standing guard at the window so that no one needed to ring the doorbell or knock the door for our attention (there’s only so many times you can claim that you’ve gotten mail or your friend was just passing by and wanted to say hi).

My sister’s room was quite near to the room the party was going to be in, and it was along the corridor that everyone needed to pass by to enter the party room. No one seemed to care too much since I could hear footsteps from where I was in the dining room. But my sister didn’t seem to notice that there was an abnormally high traffic outside her room, so it worked out.

Once, we had a close call. Very close. My sister decided to get up and leave her room. At the same time, someone was approaching our door. If my sister just turned and looked at the right place, she would notice that someone was coming. Maybe she wouldn’t care too much (our parents have visitors sometimes), maybe she would get curious and ask who it was (and we’d need to come up with a convincing reason and make sure that we don’t accidentally contradict each other).

As my sister crossed the hallway to go to the bathroom, I gestured for the friend at the door to go to the back. My dad distracted my sister as she returned to her room and physically blocked the door as he somehow talked her into staying in her room. The fact that she wasn’t feeling 100% that day probably helped. My sister closed the door, the friend was quickly ushered to the room as everyone kept an eye out for my sister. It’s like sneaking into a forbidden tower, just that we’re already inside, and the setting isn’t anywhere near as grand as a forbidden tower. Similar adrenaline rush though. Even if it isn’t exactly a rush.

The hardest part ended up being getting my sister out of bed.

She was feeling a little unwell, yes, but there were people wearing costumes (Disney themed party, for a bittersweet reason) hiding just meters away, not that she knew, of course. My youngest sister pretended that she had accidentally broken my younger sister’s guitar, and it took the combined effort of my youngest sister and my mum to get my younger sister out of her room.

She opened the door, got hit by a bunch of weird stuff that was sprayed out of cans, and got very, very startled.


What’s left of a successful surprise birthday party


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