Interviews - Voices of amazing people

Recent Posts

Intrinsic value for Yvonne Foong


If you have time I'd like you to listen to Yvonne Foong's story. She is a life warrior.

I met her in 2011 during one of my darkest days. I was diagnosed with schwannoma, a big benign nerve tumor that grew silently in my lung area. My world almost collapsed, everything from my life plan, diet to lifestyle had to change. And the condition was unheard of, at least to me and my family.

Devastated and horrified, I finally got in touch with Yvonne, who also had Neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2). Her condition was way more serious than mine. The tumors affected her brain, hearing and movement. We had to communicate through sign language and writing.

Meeting her was beyond encouraging to me. I saw a role model who could dance gracefully with her health condition. And despite being a patient herself, she decided to be the master of her own fate, she became a teacher and writer. And she also founded a foundation who helped people with NF2.

In this video, she talks about her difficult childhood and dramas, her diagnosis, emotional struggles, how she connect and help other patients. In the midst of all these, she developed a will of steel. Her determination and perseverance are so striking.

To date, NF2 is still a lesser-known condition, I'm thankful that she's raising awareness for it. I recommend this video also because my brother and I spent a lot of time subtitling it, hope you enjoy and let me know if you catch a typo. =)

If you're having a rough day, just remember what she says, "Fall and stand back up. Fall and stand back up."

Have a good day and please, cherish your life. ❀❀

If you wish to know more, here's the link to her blog and foundation:


P.S. Just a tip, you can speed up the video by clicking the setting button below.

Adventure with a Geologist


This was such an eye-opening experience visiting Teng Yu He and her rocks at the Geology Department.

Everything that is dedicated deep concentration and selflessness, is an art.

Geology Department, University of Malaya

Influence Asia 2017

Photo by Jaschong Photography (@redcameraguy)
My friend Terrence gave me tickets to Influence Asia, the largest social media award show in Asia. I was interested mainly because Jessica Jung was one of the performers. With zero expectation, we almost walkd in wearing our usual shirts and jeans, but at the very last minute, we were told that the dress code was black tie. "Seriously…? Isn't it just a show?" Oh boy was I wrong. Hundreds of young people, including my twenty-year-old cousin, lined up for hours to get in the Plenary Hall and cheered for their favourite social media stars.

The show started with cool music and feverish screams from the fans. A few friends even expressed their jealousy when they saw our Instagram story - us sitting inside the plenary hall. I felt like an outcast as I hardly recognized them at all. Then I finally understood, I'd been living in a cave. The hottest boys and girls in town are all here.

I curated some gorgeous photos of the event from #influenceasia2017 for your viewing pleasure. These beautiful people are bloggers, Youtubers and Instagrammers, in which collectively they are called social media influencers. As you can tell, this is a glitzy glamorous event, not the shirt-and-jeans kind that we thought.

@chandraliow. Thailand. YouTuber. 1.2 million followers.

@pimtha. Belle of the night from Thailand. 2.8 million followers. 
A post shared by PIMTHA (@pimtha) on

Tricia Gosingtian. Phillipines. Fashionista and photographer. She's probably the only one I follow. Her photography is amazing.
A post shared by Tricia Gosingtian-Gabunada (@tgosingtian) on

Walking around the convention center, my sister Shan was constantly pointing to me so and so was the hottest girl in Malaysia now. So and so is the popular Youtuber now, gaining half a million views in one day. This girl in backless dress is the babe of the country now, and that girl with the sparkly dress is the queen of Instagram.

I was awestruck. The local social media stars in my mind was Marina Mahathir, Namewee, Jane Chuck and the radio DJs. The Thailand ones were perhaps Happy Polla and Lowcostcosplay (opps). Where do these uber glamorous people come from?

“Influence is the new currency.” 

The influencers create content ranging from beauty, fashion, food, parenting, lifestyle to entertainment. And this event was dedicated to celebrate and award some crème-de-la-crème in Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Korea. They are way more than just good-looking, young, cool and fun. Most of them have at least 100,000 followers on social media. A handful of them have millions. To put things in perspective, that’s like 10% of the population in the whole Malaysia. Whatever they say, millions of people are going to hear it. They are even more powerful than most of the politicians.

Here are some more photos for your viewing pleasure. I deliberately chose the Malaysian ones in case you’ve been living under the well like me.

@cupcake_aishah, 16 years old. Malaysia. Youtuber.

 Christinna K. Malaysia. Blogger. 122k followers.
A post shared by CHRISTINNA. K (@ms_kuan) on

Johanis, 19 years old. Malaysia. Youtuber.

Emma Shazleen, 23 years old. Malaysia. Blogger. Business Owner. Mother of two.
A post shared by Emma Shazleen 📍KL (@emmashazleen) on

Jinnyboy. Malaysia. Youtuber. Winner of the night.

Attention please

These influencers are redefining what we knew about marketing, career, creativity and the most striking one, big and small choices. Who do you go to for product review? Where do you search for the best cafes in town? Whose travel photos that you're obsessed with? Whose wedding is your reference?

We casually google and look for recommendations and reviews. The influencers are friendly, approachable and ordinary people, just like us. Although I do suspect if they are really like us, after witnessing the glamour of their look and their seemingly perfect lives portrayed on social media.

The branding and marketing strategy they used to build trust and garner attention is crazily effective, way more than conventional billboard or media advertising. As Seth Godin would say, permission marketing. "WHAT MATTERS MOST IS THE ATTENTION." says Gary Vaynerchuk. At this generation where attention is the scarcest resource, the influencers won our eyeballs with their impeccable style. How information spreads is a massive revolution now. That strikes me the most - are we capable to keep up with the revolution?

Good influence and impact

You might shrug, "Numbers don't matter. It's the work that counts." Well, I too, was at first questioning their approach. But after geekily reading up about some of them, I'm impressed. It takes tremendous effort and maintenance to sustain their look, influence and audience. Of course there are some rotten apples in the barrel, some influencers are contributing to social awareness and conversation too. Some of the topics include cyberbullying, homosexuality, parenting and health.

If you’ve ever uploaded a photo or edited a video, you know how tricky it can be and how exposed you feel. But these influencers exhibit high level of commitment and dedication, and they seem... brave, that's rare in our culture. Traditionally we are taught to be hard-working, quiet, humble and low-key. But clearly things are changing. Everyone is building a brand called 'you'. What will happen in the years to come? Will we be more open to different kind of jobs or personalities or lifestyle, or will the gap be bigger between the traditionalists and avant-garde?

The laymen, Shan and I
Are you a creative person?

It was eye-opening to see the interesting and refreshing content they put out to the world. Photography wise, some of them can turn any regular coffee mug to super glamorous, uber cool, striking shots. What sorcery is this? Ahh, no sorcery there, it's creativity.

I went through the traditional education system, was told to land a stable and secure job, take the safe path and think inside the box. Creativity didn't have any room at all. I basically memorized theories, sat for the exams and hoped for good grades. I think not just me, many of us were produced and packaged by the same mould. Just to add context to this post, the current education system that we have was developed during the Industrial Revolution to train factory workers. The goal was to make everybody think and work similarly, and follow the same instructions. Clearly, the dynamic is changing, this system doesn’t work anymore.

We embrace people who come up with remarkable things. Interesting ideas are praised and spread like wildfire. Beautiful creation and machinery do not come out of following instructions, they are the results of innovation and environment. Are we ready for this? Is the education system keeping up with the dynamic?

Break your thought pattern

When we see something new, it's easy to explain it using the information we were fed. Taking this social media award as an example, I did feel disbelief and skeptical, not because I was judging their business models and rational aspects like that, but merely because I wasn't taught that this career path was plausible. What was taught to me (the factory mindset), what’s happening now and what I think are not surprisingly, different. After recognizing this pattern, I'm playing with the idea if I should/can/want to keep or break it. With things changing, sometimes we can't use the systems we are taught to predict and judge the present.

I was sharing this experience with my scientist friends. We agreed that this social media revolution hasn't affected us... yet. But it is already happening elsewhere, the challenge is to embrace change and stay competent. Every path is different, but it boils down to passion, perseverance and adventure. We are all using our own way to make an impact and create value on topics we are interested in.

So, two questions for you:
1. Do you notice a change in things, people and culture around you?
2. Who or what impacts you the most? Is it a person, a book, a drama series, a website, or maybe, somebody on Facebook?

Never stop learning. - E 

Favourite Podcasts / Audios


Everyday I'm driving in the car for at least an hour, stuck in traffic jam, impatient, grumpily switching from one radio station to another. Usually the stations are either playing the same song for the hundredth time, or the hosts are cracking a really bad joke. This is frustrating, there must be something better to do than staring blankly at the car in front. So I figured, why not listening to podcasts?

In case you've never heard of podcasts, they are recorded conversations on numerous topics, ranging from finance, career, parenting, relationship, productivity etc. Listening to interviews about work and productivity have been really helpful, and a good use of my attention and time.

Image from Pinterest

Why podcasts? Well, if you want to learn but no time for books, can't attend courses, OR, if you want to improve your listening and speaking skills, then listening to podcasts seems like the right thing to do. I listen while I'm driving, waiting or running errands.

And they are so easily accessible. Most of them are available on iTunes, and Youtube. Usually what I do is to download the mp3 version, or offline videos on the Youtube app on my phone, connect to Bluetooth in my car audio system and listen while driving to work. The podcasts that I listen to are usually an hour-long, because that's how long each trip took me (insert grumpy face here). You can always pause and get back to it when you have time.

After scouring the internet for some time and cherry-picking the good ones, here are some podcasters or interviews that I find inspiring and informative. 

Interviews with awesome people

I'd been listening to The Tim Ferriss Show and Chase Jarvis Live. From their casual conversations we can see the work process and strategies that make the cool people, well, cool.

Tim Ferriss is the best-selling author who wrote "The 4-Hour Workweek" which changed my view on work and recreation. Not only he is a successful author, learner, investor and speaker (Oh man, I like his voice), he extended his curiosity to people from all walks of life who are at the top of their game. Some guests on his podcast include Richard Branson and Tony Robbins. Here are some of my favourite episodes, check them out:

Naval Ravikant - The person I call most for startup advice: CEO and founder of AngelList. I feel so much smarter listening to this man.

Debbie Millman - How to design a life: Amazing story of how an abused girl made her way to be the top graphic designer in New York.

Seth Godin - How Seth Godin Manages his life: Basically I will listen to anything with Seth Godin in it. Yes that's how much I admire this man's vision, especially on education and marketing.

Maria Popova - Writing, Workflow and Workarounds: Maria is the author of Brain Pickings, one of my favourite sites. Her work is mind-blowingly smart.

Tim Ferriss' podcasts can be quite technical and geeky. I love technical and geeky stuffs but if you don't, Chase Jarvis is for you. Chase is a world-class photographer so I got attracted to his photos first. And on his Youtube channel he has a huge volume of interviews with innovators, creators and entrepreneurs. His interviews are very casual, friendly and sometimes funny.

Humans of New York - Brandon Stanton: Enough said. I love Brandon and his creation. Humans of New York is a priceless work of art in many ways. If you've never heard of this Facebook page, please list it on your to-do.


Tara Brach has a PhD in Neuroscience and immense knowledge on Buddhist psychology. Her work is very useful for people who want to understand themselves, or how the mind works. Her audios had been helpful, but the one I constantly return to is her guided meditation for Vipassana, where for 20 minutes, she guided the listener to focus on breathing, live in the present moment with awareness and consciousness.

General topics

4. TED

Everybody knows TED. Technically TED is not a podcast but it's the best place to listen to top thinkers and it's FREE. Quality is guaranteed. You can download the App, or save offline video from Youtube.

Susan Cain - The Power of Introverts: Simply life-changing. I was a highly insecure introvert.

Brene Brown - The Power of Vulnerability: My view on shame, weakness and fear shifted.

Hyeonseo Lee - My Escape from North Korea: How do peace and courage look like to you?

5. Business FM

Occasionally... I listen to podcasts by BFM to get insights on local issues in Malaysia.

Hope this post gives you an idea somewhere to start. Trust me, listening to podcasts is so much more meaningful than the cheesy pop songs intertwined with repetitive commercials on the radio.

There are so many other resources for podcasts and audios, such as the ones on Audible and SoundCloud. When I'm writing this post, I'm picturing a few friends in my head and what they would like. I decided to pick the ones above. Please share with me if you know any good podcast, I'd love to hear it.

- Eve

Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Writer & Photographer: Rui Tan (Instagram @ryosuke_rui)
Translated to English by Eve

I remember sitting on a tuk-tuk for almost two hours, worn and weary, to arrive in this village.
Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Perhaps it was neither a tourist season, nor a popular check-in tourist spot, the boats stayed ashore, patiently waiting for the right time to set sail again. Colourful paints, mud stains, rocky chairs, these were the special traits of these boats.

The river water was not crystal clear, after all not every river is perfect like that. Yet as a tourist, I was stoked! I really liked going to places where I could observe the livelihood of the locals, instead of places that are crowded and popular for check-ins.

Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia

The boatman was calmly navigating the "Rainbow Boat". You, who aren't here to witness, could never imagine how the narrow turning points had to accommodate a few boats at the same time. The boatman's skill was put to test at every turn. The boats were kissing each other, mud-coloured water splattered and stained my clothes, my smile was immediately frozen! The boat ticket was USD $30 per person. Even if there is only one passenger, the boat operates too.

Sometimes the boat moved quickly, sometimes it's slow. The bumpy ride was a real test for my photography skills in shutter speed, exposure and ISO.

Forget it, set it in automatic mode, keep using the same lens! Anyway, I belong to the self-abandon type!

Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia

I was stoked again by the view.

These houses on the river were so special! Lean and tall pillars were supporting the worn houses.

The scenery at low tide is absolutely different from high tide. The locals said when the river rises, the water level is taller than me! Hey, nonsense! High tide of the river can be as tall as six meters, so houses have to be built taller than that. While clicking the shutter, I began to imagine human excretions dropping directly into the river... Oops.

一些画面挡住了我继续幻想下去!有旅客从窗户乱丢垃圾!哔哔哔,警察勒?! 看清楚才发现是一群旅客一齐的分撒着零食给当地的小孩,像财神爷般地大方。看得我下巴直接脱臼!小孩冒险着想去捡零食,有些零食随波逐流地飘到河中,小孩们也不罢休。我心都揪了。心想要是有人撒食物给我,我就先咬断他的手!
A few scenes interrupted my thoughts! A tourist threw rubbish out of the window! Beep... beep... where is the police?! Then I realized it was a group of tourists distributing snacks to the local children, generously like the God of Prosperity. My jaw dropped! The children were riskily fighting to catch the snacks. Some snacks flowed freely along the river but the children did not give up. My heart tightened, if somebody were to throw food to me in that careless manner, I would bite his hand!

Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia

The boat passed by places that we could observe daily lives of locals. Just simple daily life. A life to work hard to support the family. A life to carry on despite not being in the best situation. A life without shopping, karaoke, cinema, and without iphone.

Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia

At one point, the boatman let us go ashore to visit the village. I'm not sure if every boat has the chance to do this, because I noticed we were the only tourists.

On the river bank, I could only describe this place as under-developed, and full of dust.

I walked, took pictures, and played with the local kids. Just a reminder to you, show the kids your photos. I kept forgetting and it was so rude.

Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia

A teacher's wage is only $300 USD per month. The children go to school in the morning, and then go to a tuition class in the afternoon to learn English. The class is free, so children might come and go as they wish. Of course please donate if you can, because education is very important.

Remarkably, the children in this village did not beg, they also wouldn't chase after and persuade you to buy scarf or postcards. The only thing they sell to a stranger is a smile, that's all.

Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia
At last, the boatman took us to the ocean. Floating in the middle of the ocean was a small eatery. I didn't pay attention because I was busy... looking for a safety jacket! It was scary! Then the boat drove slowly back to the river, but my mind was filled with the scene of crocodile in the river...

Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Follow Rui on instagram @ryosuke_rui

Change is progress

MaGIC academy Cyberjaya Course

We went to MaGIC academy for a session about Digital Disruption and mindset shifting. The speaker AJ shared some interesting insights on how technology is hugely changing businesses. All of us are shifting what we used to believe in. Massive disruption is going on now, beyond my imagination. I have to tear down what I know, what I believe and look at things differently.

Change is inevitable for growth, but not just for businesses or corporate culture. Let's talk about personal change.

We all have things that we want to change, it could be our eating habits, time management, emotions or environment.

Most of the time we know the problem and what we should do about it. So why is a change so damn difficult? Why do we often stick to the old habit and belief?

Old habits are our old friends. We like to stay comfortable with them, feeling contented and grounded. Sometimes we are defined by them too. Change is scary, unpredictable and can be ego-disrupting. Whose ego like to be challenged?

But honey, the stubbornness isn't going to bring you anywhere.

The key to change, I think, is to be open and vulnerable. Vulnerability is not a weakness, it is recognising our emotions and seeing the reality, instead of putting a mask of bravado - the false confidence intended to impress or intimidate. Put aside our fragile ego, and embrace the opportunity to grow.

"Change - if there is no struggle, there is no progress." - Frederick Douglass

Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre, Cyberjaya

Breaking the habitual loop

Jalan Tun H.S. Lee & Jalan Sultan Kuala Lumpur

Messy, as well as happy, sad, great, bad, is a relative and conceptual idea that we are fed. When we perceive something, we go automatically into a judgemental mode to react. Our reaction might be based on our past experience, what we're taught or what we need to do to fit in. This is totally humanly okay, but the inertia of going automatically into our habitual concept and reaction, is not okay. We miss the opportunity to listen, to comprehend, to connect and see the situation as it is. We see it as what we want or were trained to see. We compare, we judge. We go into the same loop again and again.

At this point our immediate reaction will be, "Here it goes again!" While feeling it comes from an external source, there're more to be done internally.

Jalan Tun H.S. Lee & Jalan Sultan Kuala Lumpur

When the same loop is arising, and you are about to jump in it... if you could just pause for 10 seconds before saying what you usually say, feeling what you usually feel and thinking what you usually think... or a few milliseconds... you'll be surprised. Because essentially things are starting to look new, interesting and fresh.

Things can't be both boring and interesting, or both annoying and pleasing at the exact same moment. When you pause for that ten seconds, you get to choose. Path A is the habitual self, path B is the mindful self who sees it as it is. Not necessarily something new and fresh, but I'll try to respond differently.

Will the outcome be the same? I don't know, but the process will not be the same.

Newton's first law of inertia: an object at rest remains at rest, or if in motion, remains in motion at a constant velocity unless acted upon by an external force.

A habitual reaction, or THE LOOP, is recurrent in us unless preceded by a conscious mind, a pause and a few breaths.

Jalan Tun H.S. Lee & Jalan Sultan, February 2017

Tips to Photographing Kids


This is a guest post by
Lifestyle Blog for Creatives
Jenna Montroy

Well looking at my photos you might think I have a really calm and cooperative child. That's so far from the truth, she's beyond crazy and rambunctious and has an attitude like an 18 year old.

I try to work with Warin Marie Photography for most of my blog posts however with over an hour in driving distance between us now that isn't always possible. Some of our previous experiences have been super easy and really fun with our child models and other times we want to rip our hair out. I'm pretty sure on numerous occasions we've looked at each other and said "we are never doing this again!" However we continue to put ourselves through it time and time again.

After a year of doing this I have rangled up some of my best tips and tricks for you when photographing children.


If you're a mom you already know Food saves lives. No joke! I rarely leave the house without snacks in my purse, why? 'Cause you need them. Kids when they are hungry are not fun. They get hangry and just mean. Make sure you pack snacks.


Yup it totally works and I have no shame in bribing my child, sometimes you gotta do what ya gotta do. I will bring items that she loves with us to the photoshoot and if she does what she's asked she gets what she wants. It can be a bit of a catch 22 however it usually always works.


Always bring something to distract their attention in the direction you want. If they are little maybe it's a toy or a shiny object. For my daughter when she was around 2 years old we brought bubbles with us. When she was smaller it was a squeak toy that caught her attention. Now that she's getting older it's a bit harder but she still has a few toys that are her favourite.


Make sure you pack a backpack full of patience with you. 99% of the time it will not work the way you want it to and that's ok you have to be willing to adjust and adapt to what's happening. Try and be as easy going as possible and remembering to just breathe is a good too.


Kids get bored easily so keep changing up your scenery if you can. If you're trying to capture photos outside, go for a walk and move to a different location. Utilize what you have, play in that pile of leaves, go foraging for foliage, etc. Do whatever you can to keep them happy to be able to get that perfect image.

It's not always going to work. There have been days for us that just don't work out and that's okay with kids. You have to be prepared for anything, just try and remember these tips and you should be able to get at least one good shot.


Warin Marie Photography:
Chaos and Creative Blog:

This is the first guest post I received from an International blogger, Jenna is from Canada! I'm thrilled and beyond grateful for her generosity for sharing her tips here. Her Instagram feed is super adorable and cozy, you can see more of her talent in event styling and her bits on motherhood at @chaosandcreative or, thank you so much for sharing with us!   --- Eve 
Copyright © Evetopia - Writer and Photographer from Malaysia . Designed by OddThemes