Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Monday Blues

So last weekend was a little gloomy... and then it was Monday. Needless to say, cheerfulness level at the start of this week was pretty darn low.

But I woke up to some unexpected messages from some amazing friends.

Amazing friend exhibit A

Amazing friend exhibit T
*Note: Boss is an inside joke ;)

You guys make it really hard to stay sad.
Thank you :')

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

If you could give one gift to yourself...

Back in college, there was this interpersonal relationships and communications class we were required to take. The lecturer handed us a piece of paper on our first day. On it, there were a couple of sections involving one's view of oneself, religion, love... and we were told to answer it honestly. 

Inside joke among some of my girl friends :P

Anyway, I remember one of the sections distinctively because it took me by surprise. It said "A gift you would give to yourself". I paused. 

"Courage," I wrote. 

Yes, the courage to be myself, to stand up for my beliefs, to grow, to love, to forgive, to be kind... I couldn't think of anything better back then and I still can't think of anything better today.

If you could give one gift to yourself, what would it be?

And no, that wasn't my real answer in regards to religion :)

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Earlier this year, my grandfather passed away. I wasn't particularly close to him but it was still incredibly hard to be away from home when it happened. So I wrote because it helped release pent-up thoughts. This was one of those rambles. 

My thoughts drift towards my kampung. It isn't really my 'hometown' in the true sense of the word. I wasn't born or raised there. Kuala Lumpur is my home but I will always have a special connection to this tiny little place in the middle of nowhere. Gazing out the car window, it's interesting to watch as the scenery changes slowly but drastically. We're here. The sea breeze in our faces, the tall coconut trees that we don't park cars under, the sand that we struggle to keep out of our footwear... this place is so foreign yet so familiar. Did we just get that new gate? Oh, and we have a cat now? 

In a way, the passing of my grandfather means that there will no longer be a good reason to bring us back to this place; no reason to drive 7 hours away from civilization. I foresee us slowly losing our ties to this place. It makes me sad as I imagine cobwebs and dust slowly gathering over the creaky wooden flooring, slowly covering up our past... 

Will my kids ever know of this place? Will they get to swim in that mangrove river literally in the backyard? Will they get to feed the chickens right through those slotted wooden planks of the living room floor? Will they get to experience showering with well water or running to the outdoor bathroom in the middle of the night? Would they be woken by the crowing of roosters, spend lighthearted afternoons at the pondok, make coconut husk bonfires and just stare at the star-filled sky? 

I did mention that it was a ramble... one which I ended abruptly on that note. 
With that said, my grandfather will remain in my memories and so will the peaceful days we spent in the kampung. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Breakfast Gang

It's too early.

I'd leave the car reluctantly, grabbing the free newspaper on my way in. The elderly guard was always the nicest. He'd smile in a nice, not-creepy way. We'd greet each other good morning and make occasional small talk.

I remember that bench where I used to sit, feeding mosquitoes as I waited. It's usually dark when I get there. The flicker of light in the hallway was dim but good enough for me to read.

Halfway through, this zombie-like figure would head my way. I'm not kidding, I should have video-tapped him. We'd usually end up at the Mamak stall, where friendly girl would eventually turn up to complete the breakfast gang version 1.0.

Eat, talk, drink, laugh... and before we knew it, it would be time to rush back for our first class. Dreaded early mornings were so much better with their company.

Over the years, the breakfast gang grew, evolved and sometimes even disappeared. It's been four years. That bench is gone. The old breakfast days are gone. But thankfully, the people have stayed.

Halfway across the globe, these people I grew to love will be receiving their scrolls. Smallhead, Pokok, Cicak, Cinderella, Abang besar, Vietnam, GOHgle, Poulina and the rest of our peers graduating tomorrow... happy graduation! Thank you for making college life so much fun. Here's to many more years of embracing new chapters and reminiscing the good old days together. 

I miss you people :'(

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Ha Long Bay

We took a break from the city and escaped to Ha Long Bay. Spending the night on a junk boat meant waking up surrounded by the beauty of the bay.

 Best decision ever. 

We also soaked in the peacefulness of this small fishing town. 

 Watched villagers at work. 

 Watched as children waited for their ride home from school.

And watched the sun set from a cozy little cafe. 

I remember one of my Vietnamese friends telling me that he hasn't even been to Ha Long Bay. Thuyen, if you're reading, this post is for you. Go out and explore your own country a little more, will you? :)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Why DIDN'T the Chicken Cross the Road?

If you thought language barriers would be the most challenging part about travelling in Vietnam, try crossing the road. Can't be that bad? Google it. The wide array of comprehensive guides to road crossing in Vietnam should help convince you.

Exaggeration aside, it wasn't too bad once we got the hang of it. 3 steps:

  1. Take a deep breath 
  2. Step off the sidewalk when it's relatively safe 
  3. Walk calmly till you reach the other side 
Good luck! 

The girl on the other side.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

People Mountain People Sea

The first Chinese proverb I learnt was 'People Mountain People Sea' (人山人海, Ren Shan Ren Hai). Happily, I constantly overused this expression in my essays to describe the crowded scenes of a wet market or a huge department store sale.

But those crowds were nothing compared to Shanghai.

I don't think I've ever been around this many people in my life.

The best thing about a crowd? You don't need a map to get to popular tourist attractions. Just go along with the stream of people and it will eventually take you there. 

Shanghai's skyline was stunning.

But the city was also so much more than the views from the Bund. It wasn't a mere concrete jungle... Well, I guess no city really is.

I found the carefree napping culture kind of cute. I couldn't help but giggle when one of the napping guys was practically using the bench as his bolster. 

We went for fancy Dim Sum meals. 

But the ones I remember most are those late night suppers by the roadside. 

And who can forget that busy little restaurant we bumped into when we got lost. They couldn't understand us. Similarly, we couldn't understand them. We pointed, pretended we understood their questions, nodded, nodded some more, smiled and just waited to be surprised. 

It turned out good. Really good. 

I wish I had more time to explore. 
Next time, Shanghai. I'll be back.