Machines are taking over the world? Um, yeah, I can totally see that coming. It is definitely one of Man’s greatest fears yet. Here’s an interesting prediction of which jobs are going to extinct, when (click to enlarge)
So Bangkok has been as expected so far – a simple, uncomplicated time of endless shopping, amazing food, and breathtaking massages. Here’s a quick recap of the highlights so far.
Accommodation: Amar’s Apartment through AirBnB
So we booked our first stay through AirBnB, and found this quaint but superbly equipped apartment owned by a French gentleman named Amar.
Strong wifi signal, speakers in every room (with an iOS dock in the living room), air-conditioned throughout, and comfy, clean beds.
Add on a fridge and cupboards stocked with noodles, bottled water, eggs, and so on. In short, it was hard to leave the apartment each day. Highly recommended. Thanks for the excellent hospitality, Amar!
For those who are interested, the link for this place is here. Price: USD$56 per night.
Shopping: Chatuchak Weekend Market
We visited some of the premium shopping malls in the heart of Bangkok (Terminal 21, MBK, Siam Paragon, and so on), but I have to say that I enjoyed the Chatuchak Weekend Market the best.
Nothing beats the truly Thai experience of haggling over the already minute prices, sweating buckets, and browsing endless aisles of clothing, souvenirs, and stuff you never thought you needed till you saw it.
For example, I chanced over these pleasant smelling soaps and couldn’t resist purchasing a few of them. They’re not for me though – I don’t use bar soaps. Still, a pretty sweet (-smelling) buy.
IMO, forget the big shopping malls – hit the markets on the streets for the real deal. Here’s more information on Chatuchak Weekend Market.
(Swedish) Massage: Pimmalai
A trip to Bangkok, or Thailand for that matter, is incomplete without one of their signature massages. We chanced across this rustic-looking massage place called Pimmalai when we couldn’t find our apartment on the first day (chance again!).
Admittedly, I fear the twisting and bone-crunching (I’m exaggerating, a bit) that Thai massages involve, so I opted for a Swedish massage instead. Best decision of my life – it was so comfortable that I literally fell asleep two to three times throughout the one hour, and was so tempted to opt for another hour. Highly, highly recommended.
Here’s the web address, for those who are interested in the best massage ever.
Food: MK Restaurant
To be honest, all the food on the streets of Thailand is fantastic. Some might border on uncooked, though, so be careful of that.
I think that, due to the highly competitive nature of the street trade, hawkers are forced to become excellent in their craft – and foodies like myself benefit greatly from that.
There is one particular restaurant that stood out above all the other food that we consumed so far on this trip: MK Restaurant.
Apparently, they’ve been around forever – I vaguely remember eating at MK’s when I first came to Bangkok in my primary school days. Perhaps their many years in this trade has allowed them to hone their craft as well. In particular, the duck and shrimp wanton green noodles was outstanding.
If you’re tired of street food (which might, uh, be unlikely), MK Restaurant is the place to chill and have superb steamboat food.
So now we’re preparing for our flight down to Krabi, Ao Nang. We initially wanted to take the sleeper train, but alas! it was completely booked out. So we scrambled for a last minute flight down to Krabi, and thankfully secured one just yesterday.
More in a few days’ time!
I’ve been going off my rocker getting all my preparations done for this trip, which explains why I haven’t been able to update this page in the past few weeks (that, and my final examinations ever in college, of course). Here’s a brief overview of what has gone down since:
1) Inter-regional flights in Philippines turned out to be too costly for us poor folk (that would be me, actually). Plan changed to a 3 weeks tourney through the Land of Smiles.
2) Touchdown in Bangkok > Sleeper train down to Krabi, Ao Nang (transit through Surat Thani) > Final stop: Ko Samui / Ko Tao
3) Here’s my packing list. I don’t believe I have ever traveled this light before!
– 3 sets of clothes (3 tees, 3 shorts)
– 7 underwear (why skimp on the essentials, right?)
– A pair of running shoes
– A pair of sandals
– Toiletries: Toothbrush, toothpaste, contact lens solution
– 100ml tube of sunblock
– 100ml tube of mosquito repellent
– 100ml tube of Febreeze
– A few packets of dry and wet tissue
– Electric shaver
– Medication box: Charcoal pills, Panadol, Po Chai Yin, Plasters, Clarityn
– Swimming shorts and goggles
– Universal adapter and chargers
– Netbook (Acer Aspire One)
– Camera (Panasonic Lx3)
– Several ziplock bags
– Essentials pouch: Passport and wallet
More on the trip as I go along. Stay tuned!
Freelancing might be on the rise among this generation. However, to many (especially in Asia), freelancing is either something that you do after you retire, or as a last resort when you are unable to secure a full-time job. Hardly would anyone aspire to become a full-time freelancer – not a chance!
Some state perceived instability as a reason not to freelance – CPF contributions, insurance, promotions, free coffee are seen as part of the stability that a full-time job offers. Others fear being looked down upon – being a freelancer seems to lack a certain prestige in our circles.
All these being said, the question remains: Why on earth would anyone (read: 7 million on Freelancer.com) still want to be a freelancer?! Adding to that point, why would anyone in his or her right mind even start a site like Freelancer.com that creates a marketplace for freelance jobs, knowing well that freelancing is a dead end?!
The short answer: Perhaps freelancing isn’t all cracked up as people make it out to be.
After an interview with the International Director of Freelancer.com, Adam Byrnes, it occurred to me that the real picture of the freelancing world is far from what we perceive it to be. Here’s what you should know about freelancing before taking the plunge. (italics are mine)
1) How did Freelancer.com come about?
Actually, Freelancer.com was started by our CEO Matt Barrie, when he bought and rebranded the website getafreelancer.com in 2009. Matt had just left his previous startup, and was looking for The Next Big Thing. While attempting to get some basic tasks done online, he realised that one day, buying services on the internet would be just as big as buying goods on the internet – that is, he realised that very soon, there will be an Amazon or eBay of services – a multi-billion-dollar marketplace for jobs. Matt wanted to be the guy that built it.
2) What are the demographics of the current freelancing scene like?
Freelancer.com’s 7 million users come from a huge variety of places – we have users in 240 countries and regions, including the Antarctic and Vatican! Our most popular project types are website design and development, and graphic design, but we’ve seen projects in literally anything – from astrophysics to chinese rap songs.
Our typical employer comes from an economically stable country, and is an entrepreneur or SME looking for a cost-effective way to get their business off the ground. Our typical freelancer comes from a second or third-world country, and uses Freelancer to make a living. This is in no way exclusive though – we have numerous full-time freelancers in the US, and our second biggest source of employers is India!
3) Do you think that there is any stigma attached to the concept of freelancing today?
I don’t believe so, no. Entrepreneurship, freelancing and innovation go hand-in-hand, and are increasingly being celebrated around the world, from Silicon Valley to Dhaka. The startup movement is transcending borders and revolutionising the economies of many countries – people are getting out and creating wealth, rather than consuming it. Freelancing, and hiring freelancers, is the epitome of this global shift.
Also, as the world embraces globalisation, companies in the USA are becoming increasingly comfortable with hiring freelancers from abroad in countries they’ve never visited. A company owner in Australia can get their logo developed by a designer in Buenos Aires, their website from a developer in Islamabad, and their content from a copywriter in Prague – all in a safe and affordable manner.
4) In your opinion, what are the greatest/worst points for/against freelancing?
The best part of freelancing is the independence. You are no longer tied down in a restrictive and boring day job. You make your own destiny. You work wherever you like, whenever you like, on your terms. You sail your own ship. There’s endless possibilities for wealth and success in freelancing.
However, therein lies the issue. Freelancing is not always easy. It requires work – lots of it, and an ability to be self-motivated. Not everyone has these qualities, but for those who do, a revolutionary lifestyle awaits as a freelancer.
5) Give some advice to a freelancer who is just starting out on his career.
Reputation is king. It is the single most important quantity for any freelancer. Always go above and beyond for the customer – they will reward you by hiring you again or telling their friends about you.
Finally, stay motivated. Freelancing isn’t an easy ride – it requires hard work and lots of it – and there will almost certainly be setbacks. But, if you continue to go above and beyond the call of duty for your employers, the rewards will come.
6) Any predictions about the future for freelancers?
As of today, roughly 2.3 billion people have internet access around the world. That means there’s another 5 billion people who have never connected. Most of these people are located in emerging markets. When someone from these countries first connects to the internet, the first thing they do is look for an education. Today, they can find a quality education, online, for free. Coursera, Udacity, Khan Academy – its never been easier to learn a trade or skill.
The next thing they do is find a job. Many of these people are not lucky enough to live in a place where jobs are common, and those that do exist pay on average $1/day. So they do the only thing left to them – become a freelancer. At the same time, employers in first world countries are facing rising costs and barriers-to-entry to creating a business. They need a source of quality, cost-effective and flexible labor – and nobody suits this description better than a freelancer.
In 10 years time, my prediction is that hiring freelancers will be commonplace. If I have an idea tomorrow, and think I can make a business out of it, I know what I’ll be doing. The first thing I’ll need is a logo – and why pay thousands of dollars for a logo, when I can crowdsource 300 unique, quality designs using a Freelancer.com contest, for just a few hundred dollars? I’ll also need a website (after all, its 2013 – every business is a software business) – and rather than get into tens of thousands of dollars of debt getting a website built locally, I’ll jump online to Freelancer.com and post a project, and get it done for a tenth of the cost. Ditto copy, SEO, marketing, etc. Freelancer.com provides that essential edge for entrepreneurs who want to get their business started without millions of dollars of VC investment.
7) What are some resources you would highly recommend for new freelancers?
There’s a number of great freelancing blogs out there. Take a look at our guide for new freelancers on our website, and check out our blog too. Up-skill through free, online education. And above all else, use our platform to start your career. With over 4500 new projects posted every day, its easy to get started, and once you’ve built up your reputation, you’ll be well on your way to freelancing success.
Still think that freelancing is for the dogs? Let me know what you think in the comments below!
So I recently wrote about following your heart when pursuing education. I mentioned that we should not let the fear of practicality paralyze us, but follow our hearts where it would take us. It certainly sounds all good and ideal, but I’d bet that you read that, nodded furiously in agreement… And went back to pursuing the most practical course in your institution (or at least, two-thirds of you would).
I recently found an article that would, IMO, be far more convincing. The author’s argument goes as such: Liberal Arts degrees are useless (but not in the way most people think they are), and the people who pursue them are better off precisely because they are useless.
It’s a strange statement to make, but hear him out – I think he’s on to something big. Here is the article: Liberal Arts, and the Advantages of Being Useless.
Now, I know that the title might seem very like one of those over-the-top defensive pieces that try a bit too hard to defend the Liberal Arts degree. Here are some quotes I picked out from the article that blew my mind – and hopefully they will convince you to take at least take a look, and give it some serious thought. (the bolds are mine)
This, I think, is why a Liberal Arts degree is useless: it requires some creativity and unguided exploration after you get it in order for you to figure out what you want to do with it. And it requires these things because you can’t read the name of a good paying job off of a Liberal Arts degree. If someone asks a Liberal Arts major what she is going to do with her degree, the best she can say is, “I’m not quite sure, but I’m pretty certain that I have roughly the same chance as any other major for getting a job and that by the middle of my career I’ll have an income that is just as good, if not better, than people with those other degrees.” Not the best sound bite. But it has the virtue of being true.
How can you get very far, If you don’t know Who You Are? How can you do what you ought, If you don’t know What You’ve Got? And if you don’t know Which To Do Of all the things in front of you, Then what you’ll have when you are through Is just a mess without a clue Of all the best that can come true If you know What and Which and Who. – Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh, “Cottleston Pie” (1982)
In the coming decades, success will be defined by the ability to understand the complex problems that customers face, and the ability to solve these problems elegantly. Technology development is important, as is finance, manufacturing,and distribution. But these areas are not core competencies for the industry leaders. The next billion-dollar company will be run by history majors who are skilled in wading through a massive jumble of facts and who have the ability to distill these facts down to a clear set of objectives that a global team can fulfill. – Tom Gillis, Forbes Magazine
“So let me leave you with a fairer question. This a question to which all majors, from any college, can give a decent answer. It is a question that does not stack the deck against Liberal Arts majors. And the answer to this question is an answer you might give when people ask the more conventional “What are you going to do with your degree?” question. The question is this:“What kind of person is your degree going to help you be?” If you’re a Liberal Arts major, you have a quick and ready answer: “I am going to be a more reflective and engaged individual, and an active, responsible contributor to my community capable of succeeding in leadership positions.”
What do you think – yay or nay for the Arts? Share your thoughts below!