2018 in Review

That was quick! 2018 went by in a breeze and we’re here with a new year. For me this year, it was about making a difference to the community.

Firstly, a big thank you to everyone (friends, family, co-workers) who have supported me throughout this year. And all the best for 2019!

MonPlan

As many of you know, MonPlan this year has been bigger than ever. In February, we launched MonPlan into beta – which is one of our biggest launches ever. The university adopted our product as the official course planning tool shortly afterwards. And just recently in October, we officially released MonPlan – a big thank you goes out to everyone who has supported us all the way through the journey.

I would also like to thank a great many people who have supported me throughout this journey – building a tool from scratch (especially from the ground up, like a startup) is really hard: there are times when I felt like giving up, or when I was stressed. But throughout the entire journey, there are quite a few people have supported me,

  • Firstly I would like to thank Josh Nelsson-Smith who co-founded this awesome project with me, having working with him for the best part of 2 years, having supporting me when I was feeling not that great and learning a great many things with me was really amazing.
  • Another amazing person that I would like to thank is Saurabh Joshi, Saurabh is a really amazing person who is really great at what he does, but without his initial help at the start of the project MonPlan wouldn’t be where it is at.
  • All the awesome team members that we had: Charlie Campton-Strachan, David Copley, Robert Koch, Harry Ferrier, David Lei, Callistus Tan, Katie Ng, Nicholas Whittaker, Rebecca Young and Ben Clare: you guys really helped us get over the finish line, even though our team shrank in size and grew many times – but without the effort from you guys we wouldn’t be where we are.
  • All the staff, managers and senior executives at eSolutions (such as Linh Truong, Chau Lam, Teresa Finlayson)
  • Lastly, all the friends who have supported me: Emily Dao, Michael Williams and Nick Priebatsch. I know that I’ve thanked you already, but without you guys being there for me and listening to me ramble about random stuff, I wouldn’t have been able to get most of the stress out.

Tech community

For me, this year I’ve participated across two hacks: Hackamon and UniHack. I mentored at this years Hackamon instead of competing, helping others grow ideas, giving them tips on pitching is something that is really enjoyable and seeing an idea grow into a solution is what makes the entire experience worthwhile. As well as giving out two Tech talks on Git and rapid prototyping.

Giving back to the community is something that I believe that every tech person should do. This year I’ve been part of 2 meetup communities: JuniorDev and MusesCode (formerly NodeGirls Melbourne). For JuniorDev, I’ve given 1 tech talk (on GCP with NodeJS) and once again mentored at this year’s Hacktoberfest event. I’ve also mentored at an event aimed at teaching JavaScript/NodeJS/ECMAScript to beginners, as part of the MusesCode meetup community.

Hobbies

This year, I’ve picked up photography as a hobby – around September I brought a new Canon 800D DSLR. And have slowly taking photos and learnt how to process them through Photoshop. I’ve also launched a new site dedicated for my best photos at https://photos.lorderikir.me and am considering opening up a store to sell prints of my photos.

Travel

I know that I told myself that I would travel last year in 2017 but then it got busy.

This year I ended up going to both Japan (with friends) and China (solo) for around 5 weeks: which has been really fun. Big thanks to everyone who have travelled with me and made the experience more enjoyable. I really want to head back to Japan at some point in the future – maybe to the northern part (like Hokkaido) next time.


I am really looking forward to 2019 – with new ideas (and with it, startup opportunities), looking for grad/junior/entry level positions and finishing off my degree part-time, new hobbies and friends, potentially more travelling – I’m sure it will be an awesome year.

Best of Japan Series: Mt Fuji

Mt Fuji, arriving at Haneda Airport (HND), Tokyo

In this image, I am sitting in Seat 50A on China Southern Flight CZ385 to Haneda Airport and we flew past Mt Fuji.

The image can be found here

China High Speed Rail and Japan’s Shinkansen Comparison

This trip I’ve taken rides on both China’s High Speed Rail or Gaotie (高铁), and Japan’s Shinkansen (新幹線). There are many similarities and differences between them so let’s compare them.

Shinkansen (新幹線) 

The Shinkansen is Japan’s High Speed Rail, the initial connection was between Osaka and Tokyo. 

The N700 Shinkansen 

Visitors to Japan can ride on the Shinkansen by using the JR Rail Pass, it costs around A$300 and has to be exchanged for an actual pass at any JR Service Centre (we exchanged ours at Shinjuku Station). The costs gets paid off almost instantly (as we took our trip between Osaka and Tokyo – which covered at least 60% of the cost). 

With your JR Pass you can get into some Shinkansens (we only took Hikari and Sakura trains) and any JR train (after getting the pass we took most of our trips on JR Lines including around Osaka, Kyoto and Nara).

The JR Pass gives you access to reserved (you can reserve up to 10 mins before the train leaves) and non-reserved seats only in the standard class. But we managed to get our hands onto the Green car, which is like business class on a plane. 

The green car is really big and comfortable

Even though the standard car seats are slightly smaller, the legroom you get is huge, and way better than an economy class on a plane.

The standard cars have a 3 + 2 configuration, while the green car has a 2 + 2 configuration. 

Something that you see and may find weird is that, everytime when a JR conductor inspects the carriage they would bow after when entering the carriage and exiting the carriage.

You can buy snacks and drinks on board, the station also sells bento boxes. I would recommend getting the green tea the Ooi Oocha brand. 

Price (4 / 5)

Comfortable (4.5 / 5)

Customer Service (5 / 5)

China’s High Speed Rail (Gaotie, 高铁) 

China’s High Speed Rail can be brought by anyone as long as you have a form to verify your identity. For me, I buy using my Australian Passport at a train station ticket shop.

The Fuxing (复兴号) rolling stock 

The standard tickets are fairly cheap (around 110RMB (A$22) from Guangzhou to Shaoguan, 70RMB (A$14) from Guangzhou to Shenzhen). Tickets are split into 2nd Class (equivalent to standard) and 1st Class (green car). 

The most annoying thing about using China’s High Speed Rail, like using various subway systems is that you have to go through security: Identity, Quarantine (Baggage Check) and Ticket 🎫 Inspection – but it goes really smoothly.

The cabin is more modern, but still follows a 2+3 configuration

The seats are the same size as the standard car. With ample leg room, as I rode on the The Fuxing (复兴号) rolling stock, which is the newer model it meant that the cabin was more modern, had bigger windows and underneath each seat as a power port, and 2 USB 2.1A charging ports.

A nice big window seat was really good,especially with the nice scenery. 

Price (4.5 / 5)

Comfortable (4.5 / 5)

Customer Service (4.5 / 5)

China Trip: Beijing

Wow, that was quick! It was only a couple of days ago that I was heading for Beijing. 

Beijing, is the capital of China – for many years I wanted to visit Beijing,and finally I did. I did Beijing with a tour group based in the province of Guangdong. And taking a night flight there, we headed out to visit the amazing sites around Beijing.

Something that you have to be aware of when travelling to Beijing, is that places may or may not be open on any given day – it depends on many factors such as security, political events, weather, etc. So we were very lucky that we managed to visit all the sites.

Day 2: Tiananmen Square, Mausoleum of Mao Zedong, Forbidden City, Birds Nest (Olympic Village) 

When you ever talk about Beijing, the first thing that world pop into your mind would be Tiananmen Square. In Tiananmen Square, there are many cultural sites like Peoples Cultural Hall, the flagpole, Mausoleum of Mao Zedong.

We were very lucky that the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong was open. When inside you can’t carry anything, wear a hat (or beanie) or gloves. 

The preservation of many of the historic sites around Beijing is really amazing to see, especially the Forbidden City. Even we came on the light season, the amount of tourists and locals inside the Forbidden City was a lot. But the architectural design of the palace was amazing, the historical artefacts was definitely intriguing.

Forbidden Palace

Day 3: Great Wall of China & Summer Palace.

Badaling Great Wall

The Great Wall of China is the symbol of China, its really beautiful there is a saying: “
不到长城非好汉” or One who fails to reach the Great Wall is not a hero. Climbing the wall is hard and difficult. There are many walls around Beijing, the one we went to is the most famous, the one on Badaling Great Wall. 

There two sides of the wall when you first enter, the left side is more steeper and the right one is more popular. 

Summer Palace

The Summer Palace (Chinese: 頤和園; pinyin: Yíhéyuán), is a vast ensemble of lakes, gardens and palaces in Beijing. It was an imperial garden in the Qing Dynasty.

Day 4: Central Radio & TV Tower, Temple of Heaven

Central Radio & TV Tower

Temple of Heaven

Hall of Prayer

The Temple of Heaven (Chinese: 天壇; pinyin: Tiāntán) is an imperial complex of religious buildings situated in the southeastern part of central Beijing. The complex was visited by the Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties for annual ceremonies of prayer to Heaven for good harvest. Most of the complexes are circular because the old people of China believe in 

There are 3 main complexes in the Temple of Heaven:

  • The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests (祈年殿) is a magnificent triple-gabled circular building, built on three levels of marble stone base, where the Emperor prayed for good harvests. 
  • The Imperial Vault of Heaven (皇穹宇) is a single-gabled circular building, built on a single level of marble stone base. It is located south of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests and resembles it, but is smaller. It is surrounded by a smooth circular wall, the Echo Wall, that can transmit sounds over large distances. Legend it has it that one day that the Qianlong Emperor was alone in the Vault, when he heard voices. He looked around and saw no-one, he then discovered a few people talking on the other side of the vault – hence discovering that the wall has the echo property.
  • The Circular Mound Altar (圜丘坛) is the altar proper, located south of the Imperial Vault of Heaven. It is an empty circular platform on three levels of marble stones, each decorated by lavishly carved dragons. The numbers of various elements of the Altar, including its balusters and steps, are either the sacred number nine or its nonuples. The center of the altar is a round slate called the Heart of Heaven (天心石) or the Supreme Yang (太阳石), where the Emperor prayed for favorable weather

Prince Gong’s Mansion (Gongwangfu)

Gongwangfu (Prince Gong’s Mansion, Mandarin: 恭王府) is a huge mansion situated to the north east of the Forbidden Palace. It was originally built for the one of the most corrupt officials of ancient China –  He Shen (和珅). 

There are many sites within the Mansion itself, all of which was based of designs of Forbidden Palace and also based of the philosophy known as Fengshui. The amount of gifts given to him by the Emperor was stored in a large building within the mansion with a 4 metre thick wall.

One of the things that also exist in the site is a doorway arch that existed both in the Old Summer Palace (Yuanmingyuan, 圆明园) and here, as the Old Summer Palace by the army of the 8 countries during the 2nd Opium War. So inside the mansion stands the last standing doorway arch of its design.

The doorway arch

China: Week 1

Coming to China from Japan, you can instantly see the cultural differences. This is my 3rd week away from home and I’m starting to miss it, alot. Even though I told myself 5 weeks isn’t a long time to be away from home. But without the company and friends, you sort of get really lonely and you want to go home. 

But, tonight I’ll be going to Beijing with a tour group – hopefully I won’t feel as much homesick as I do now. 

This week’s gone by really fast, I’ve visited many memorials and climbed Baiyun Mountain. Meaning that most of the things I wanted to do is now done. 

Next time, I’ll probably plan for a shorter holiday. Japan was amazing, and I really want to visit Japan again.