2017; 2018

The last days of 2017 is arriving and the world will soon Usher in the year 2018!

This is the time for self reflection and creating resolutions. I tried to think back on the resolutions that I made and I wondered if I met them. The problem is, I don’t remember what my resolutions were. Was it to exercise more? I definitely did not meet my resolution then. Was it to make new friends? Also did not meet this resolution.

Thankfully for this blog, I found the resolutions I made for myself and it appears that I was much wiser a year ago. My 2017 resolutions were more of a way of living and quite well written I would say:

  • Live courageously but not recklessly
  • Live a healthy but happy life
  • Live with no regrets

Judgement time *drumroll*

Of course judging whether I met them or not is purely based on perspective, so….

Live courageously sounds like a “Just do it” motto, I would presume that I met 70% of it, but I would say I may have been a bit reckless towards the end of November. I should think more rationally and no, desperate times does not necessarily mean desperate measures! Apply caution where necessary!

Live a healthy but happy life. Mmm… this is probably related to eating healthily, exercise and being happy. I suppose 70% again for this one. I ate happily instead of happily, did not exercise much but the main thing was that I was happy which is essentially a good mental state to be in. Or am I just making excuses for myself? Hmmm….

Live with no regrets. Ah… this one, I just had a pang of regret the other day. I would say 50% for this. I need to do better at my decision making.

Alright…. that was it. Wait I’m not doing a recap of my year as a whole? Well, I kinda just did. Perhaps that will be for another time. 😀

2018 resolution time!
I’ll probably have the same resolutions but change up the last one. The previous one just sounded like values for a Nike ad.

  • Live courageously but not recklessly
  • Live a healthy but happy life
  • Live consciously of your actions, probably also to give back more to society

Well Happy New Year everyone! and apologies if I have bored you. May all of you have great health and an abundance of happiness in 2018!

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2017: My own year in pictures

I was thinking where to post this. There are just too many mediums these days, but to stick with tradition, I’ll just do it here where I kinda feel the most comfortable writing nonsense and there’s no like or love button to receive any validation. 🙂 Just plain letting it out in the world “anonymously”. Nice!

Alright, time for my 2017 recap!! I actually wrote a resolution one earlier but I’m only posting it later so some things I say there may sound a bit odd like “what 2017 recap? this is the recap.” But I’m actually writing a recap here now. No, no, I’m not trying to mess with your mind. I ain’t no Christopher Nolan.

Lets see, 2017 for me just flew by! Perhaps it’s an age thing where everything just goes by and I can’t even seem to remember the year at all. Where did my May go? I don’t know! So, I’ll try to relive it through monthly pictures and I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do. 🙂

January

1 CNY

Pretty tea cups for CNY

It’s Chinese New Year! Fancy some fish swimming in your tea cup? The fish will stay behind too, so it’ll fit the saying 年年有余! 😀

February

2 Is this real.jpg

This is not real Bak Chor Mee!

Seems like nothing much happened in February for me. I did visit the Singapore Art Musuem which was pretty nice to be honest. But this thing here was more interesting. It’s actually dessert made to look like a bowl of Bak Chor Mee (Minced Pork Noodles), a Singapore local favourite. Can’t say this dessert was a local favourite though. It’s gimmicky but I was kinda impressed with their concept. Their egg and toast was even more impressive! Especially the egg!

March

Ah, this is probably when the year was in full motion.

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Machu Picchu!

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to be sent to Bogota for work. Boy was it an amazing experience. Firstly, Bogota is surprisingly chilly because it’s actually located quite high up in the mountains that you may get some sort of dizziness. It took me about 5 days to adjust to the jet lag, I think this too was contributed by the altitude.

Firstly, Colombia is beautiful, and reminded me quite a lot of home. The fruits! Malaysia has fruits but Colombia has more! The other parts of Colombia is just as humid as Malaysia, maybe even hotter.

For a quick 3 day weekend, we also did a side trip to Machu Picchu too! And had a quick walkabout the main area of Cuzco and loaded up on quite a number of souveniers, which may seem a little unnecessary upon hindsight.

People here are more chill, also kinda like home. Super friendly and I can’t wait to return!

April

Spring time! And to my surprise, I witness this beautiful sight in the most unlikely places.

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Cherry blossom time in Kungsträdgården!

Cherry blossoms in Stockholm! What? I didn’t know they had them there. A colleague of mine told me they had cherry blossoms the last time she was there. I had some time before my flight to the North of Sweden and Kungsträdgården (King’s Garden) was within walking distance from the hotel. Boy was I rewarded! It’s a beautiful sight. I can’t imagine how Japan would look like during cherry blossom season. Since I can’t imagine, I’ll have to visit Japan during that time then. 😀

April was also the time when I stopped by Bergen, Norway, to visit the beautiful Fjords. I did the “Norway in a Nutshell” self guided tour. The scenery was pretty, beautiful but a part of me was wondering how nice it would be if there was someone to share this experience with. I suppose I felt some loneliness there. Hmmm… Well it changed when I went to Stockholm.

May

May was a good month. A month full of firsts. I headed to the North of Sweden where it was the end of winter, but still winter-ish nonetheless. I had enjoyed my first experience dog sledding! I was just sitting down and someone was guiding the beautiful and strong “mushers”. Unfortunately, I forgot the name of my favourite. 😦 He was eating the snow along the way, which is a strong no-no. The snow started falling during the ride and we stopped by a teepee for tea with a nice warm fire while it snowed heavily outside.

At the end of the day, I also experienced a life first. Sleeping in the ice hotel! The temperature is maintained at a “comfortable” -5 degrees. It’s not as glamourous as it seems as you end up just sleeping in a thermal sleeping bag placed on reindeer pelts, and actual mattress and an ice bed frame. But it’s an experience nonetheless. Will I do it again? Sure! If I have the money to spare!

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“Dancer in the Dark” room at the Ice Hotel

June

From the cold winter of Sweden to the warm summer of France!

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Lavender fields in Valensole, Provence!

The Lavender fields were everywhere! The sea of purple went on till the horizon! The Lavender fields in Sapporo cannot compare to the lavender fields here. As you get out of the car, the smell of lavender overwhelms your senses. Everything you own will be engulfed in that smell. Mmm…

Of course Paris was amazing too! The Eiffel Tower, the Lourve, Mona Lisa, the amazing Renaissance art in the Lourve, the impressionist art (Monet, Matisse, Sisley) at Musee D’Orsay. Ah! and Mont St Michel was quite interesting too. It would have been nicer if there were fewer people.

July

Waking up in the overnight train to “SAPA~~~”, the song being played in the morning, a sort of welcome song for everyone and also to let everyone know that you are reaching your destination, please wake up and get ready!

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Oh Beautiful Sapa

Lack of sleep and we had to hike through the beautiful valleys of Sapa. Oh goodness me. It was a beautiful sight, hot but oh so picturesque and gives off a sense of calmness too. We had an interesting Korean mother & daughter traveling in our group. They were quirky and the guide was funny.

July was also the month where I turned 30 and I had an interesting birthday celebration on a tour boat in the middle of Halong Bay. LOL thank you dear friends! I had a lovely karaoke session on the boat too hahaha…

August

The month of August brought me back to Shanghai. I think I have this like/dislike relationship with Shanghai. There are decent parts of it, which I genuinely wouldn’t mind living in, but the volume of people just kinda puts me off and also… the fact that my mandarin is horrible and I can’t really understand what they want from me isn’t helping the cause. This time I booked myself into a lovely hotel in the French Concession area over the weekend and took a day tour to the lovely water villages. I also took a short walk to….

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Matchmaker’s corner in People’s Park

相亲角 (Matchmaker’s corner) located in 人民公园 People’s Park is for parents/ their agents, to place ads for their children to help them find their respective other halves. The ad includes all sort of details, age, height, education level, occupation, what they are looking for, what they are like. Each ad is unique in its own way. What I don’t understand is why do they place the ads on umbrellas? Another thing to note is that most ads were for females looking for their other halves. Hmm… some food for thought there.

September

September was the time for family as I met my family in Bangkok for a family trip. And what was on the itinerary? Chinatown in Bangkok!

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Chinatown in Bangkok

I must say that the Chinatown is way more vibrant than KL’s Chinatown, which is kinda like a street selling counterfeit goods these days. The on in Bangkok looks pretty legit as its mostly goods which Chinese would usually buy. We went to Chocolate Ville too. I must say that that place has not changed one bit. It doesn’t even look worn!

October

October brought me to the land of chocolates for a tad bit too long.

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Overindulging on chocolate

In Paris, the patisseries get you. In Brussels, it’s the chocolates that are simply too irresistible to resist. It’s all so good! There goes my waistline. My hopes of actually fitting into my clothes is slowly fading.

My favourite is the one in dark red at the front with the chinese stamp as its logo, Laurent Gerbaud, and the one in the white box, Frederic Blondeel. The one above the dark red one is French, Patrick Roger, and it’s really good too! I’m glad I met it again in Brussels. The waffles were marvellous. Don’t even get me started on the mussels in white wine, oh my goodness me, those were delicious! Mmmm… mmm… mm….

November

November was tiring but exciting in it’s on way.

I did some fine dining in Kl, a little way too fine for my liking. I had a chance to visit Chicago and experienced their first snow. Although, to be absolutely honest, I would have preferred it if I didn’t witness the first snow. It was too cold for me. And from -11 degrees to somewhere like Dubai is not the most comfortable. Dubai was pretty decent. It’s kinda like Singapore where everything is well, man-made, but they do everything better than anywhere. Do you know the fountains @ Bellagio in Las Vegas? Well they have one in Dubai too and its bigger. The tallest tower? In Dubai! And they’re building a taller one!

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One of the tombs in the ancient city of Petra

The biggest lesson for me was on my weekend trip to Amman, Jordan. It just reminds me of the dangers of traveling alone as a female and I’m thinking of buying a band to wear on my finger just so that I can say I’m married or that my husband is sick and waiting in the hotel. I also need to work on my response mechanism. It’s just flight at the moment, I think I need a response that inflicts some form of “damage”.

Apart from that Petra was pretty special. It’s a bit unfortunate that a lot of the carvings are kinda gone, considering the age, but it’s still pretty magnificent. The famous treasury is so often shared that when you see it, it’s a bit anti-climatic, but the other parts were just as enjoyable. To imagine people in the ancient world walked pass the area and through the Siq was pretty intriguing.

December

Oh boy! December brought one of the most amazing experiences of the year. Dog sledding and the ice hotel was amazing, but this one was in an entirely different climate.

Africa!

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Lioness bringing her cubs to feed on a blue jean

I’m not really an animal person but the experience of the safari in Masai Mara was so truly amazing that I want to witness the Wildebeest migration in Serengeti now. It’s just so unreal that you’re in the car driving along and there’s all these wild animals, Zebras, Giraffes, Wildebeest, antelopes, blue jeans, etc, hanging around, grazing on the grass. Cheetahs seeking shelter from the rain under a tree. Baboons traveling in a pack scaring an injured leopard. Hyenas hanging around and lions sleeping all day until our very last day.

On the morning safari of our last day in Masai Mara, there was a dead blue jean which was apparently killed by the 2 lioness we spotted on earlier safari drives. We waited for the 2 lioness to arrive with her cubs. Sure enough, they arrived and they soon dragged their kill to some shrubs to hide it from the male lion. This sounds cruel but this is truly the wild. There wasn’t any human intervention. This was all part of the circle of life. Kinda like the lion king?

Overall

It was a very good year in terms of traveling and experiences but I’ve gotta watch my health more.

Well have a good end to 2017 and Happy 2018! My resolution post should appear in a few days! LOL 😀

Stop, Look, Go

It was late November, I sat patiently in the window seat waiting for the passengers to board and the plane to eventually take off to Dubai. I had just spent my waiting time working in the airport cafeteria and ate a lovely falafel wrap; although it could not beat the falafel I had for breakfast at the hotel, it was nonetheless tasty and affordable.

I looked out of the window and stared at the tarmac of the airport in Amman and the flag of Jordan proudly flying in the air.  I started thinking about how far I’ve come, how many places I’ve “touched” this year, and thinking that I’ve never quite imagined going to Dubai what more take a short weekend trip to Petra, and be amazed by ancient civilization. My lifestyle seems to be changing, my traveling style seems to be changing. It’s all stop, look, & go now. Time is so limited that there’s no time to take an actual break. I’ve changed from sharing trips by writing it down to just posting a single photo in Instagram.

I long for a good holiday away from technology, away from instant updates on your whereabouts, away from the constant need to update people on what you’re doing. What happened to the days before everyone became so connected to their phones? Alas, that seems to be the future and it does not appear that we’re turning back. I too am equally guilty. Maybe one day I’ll take it slow again, take an actual break, leave that mobile behind and wander around like a true blue traveler again.

Days like these

It rained silently, as predicted, as I just began reading a novel in a living room that was comfortable but unfortunately, not mine. I looked out and appreciated the rain. I wondered, I used to like rain, where is that familiar smell of fresh rain? I couldn’t smell it, could it be because I was too high up above ground in this HDB flat that was not mine?

I continued looking out at the rain slowly falling and thought, it’s days like these that I yearn to have my own place. A nice 1 bedroom apartment with a nice little comfortable nook to read a good book with some natural light, fresh air and no distractions.

Yet, here I am 30 years old and still renting a small room in someone else’s flat. Hmm….