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Us at Pulauuu Ubinnnn, after going up many gravelly slopes with tired faces A spontaneous decision to head to Pulau Ubin today because...

And you wish you could speak Malay

Us at Pulauuu Ubinnnn, after going up many gravelly slopes with tired faces
A spontaneous decision to head to Pulau Ubin today because my dearest Huiquan and Suxin had never been to Ubin before (despite having studied at a Pulau university bahahh)

I'd been there maybe 3-4 times, and this time... Pulau Ubin seems to have shrunk to me?? Like when I was a kid, I thought those slopes were treacherous, but now I think they're pretty easyyyy. After all that biking in Laos, this was a lot less challenging cos I now know how to meddle with bicycle gears. So thank you Laos for training me up - I think I've a thing for mountain biking now... Hiking, Biking, what or who's the next king??? *wink to the wink* alright, that was a pretty shabby one.

Coastal walk at Chek Jawa

Me besties~*
Think you'll be seeing these faces a lot. Since we're at an age where all our friends, including ourselves, are at work, and everyone seems to be getting busy and caught up with their lives, us three... we'd always make time for outings and get-togethers. And they're always fun and exciting - one of us would suggest doing something and the other two would pick up from there and we'd actually execute it. We'd say GO. All you need is a simple majority to be enthused about something and the rest will follow. "Rest" meaning that one other person, who's more or less psyched as well.

No dilydallying, no ah- "I've got this to do, I've got that to do." We just freakin make time for each other and I'm soooo thankful for that.

I watched a recent interview of Sir Patrick Stewart, for the movie Logan, who was interviewed by radio dj Joshua Simon.

The question was, "When was the last time you felt so happy, you almost felt like you didn't deserve it?"

His answer, after a moment of contemplation...

"I feel that (happiness)... at different times... every single day."

and you could see it in his eyes when he said that. he meant it. and I could fully understand what he meant by that.

I see that too in snippets of my interactions with friends, family and a lot of the time, I'm so aware that I'm so bloody blessed that I'd take a mental snapshot in my head to remember the moment I had with someone. A few days ago, I was cycling with my dad at bedok reservoir and the light was streaming in through the trees and I looked at him and he was talking, but everything drowned out... it was a beautiful moment and I wished I could tell him in that moment how much I loved him and it's moments like this I'll miss when he's gone. I do that mental snapshot thing a lot and it's a way for me to remember.

Soaked in absolute g r a t i t u d e .

In his reply, Sir Patrick Stewart continued... "I'm a very lucky man. I've a wonderful wife, 2 children, 4 grandchildren, my career has been quite successful...... If only the world could become a better place to live in, I can't think of anything that I would improve."

Pretty house owned by a Malay family at Ubin
Preets seashells just outside
Once, while we were cycling, we heard loud music blasting from speakers. Indonesian music. And Huiquan being the crazy lil nutter she was, walked towards the villager's home and approached the family. We all started dancing outside their houses lol.

The Malay family went, "Japanese?" We looked at each other. One of them continued, "Korean?".

And we said... Singaporean!!!!!! And you could see a wave of relief wash over their faces. At the same time, I caught a look of maybe... embarrassment? Like oops, I didn't know you were my countryman.

Then we tried to converse with them and talk a little. We splattered a bit of Malay here and there like "joget-joget" and "bagus" and "cantik", and one of them went "ahhh, bercakap melayu ah!" and I went "sikit-sikit".

Honestly, I felt quite terrible inside. For the fact that we could hardly converse with our own countrymen, more so after being mistaken for another. I know we could've spoken English, but speaking the language of the nation seemed to have been more appropriate in that occasion, but we simply couldn't. And the connection was lost. And I thought it was weird because aren't we all supposed to be Singaporean?

Huiquan said it was the first time she thought knowing Malay would be useful.

But ok la, maybe I'm thinking too deep into this. It's Pulau Ubin. We're city dwellers living in the mainland, why am I making such a big fuss eh? Plus, it's natural for them to assume we were tourists since the majority of visitors were foreigners.

Hmm, I still can't put a finger to why I thought the way I thought. Ah well, I think you sorta understand where I'm coming from anyways.

Question we must.

And I'm only happy to have this bunch of kiddos :-)

navigating and making sense of this crazy world together.

Whilst running today, I passed an old man on an empty street, facing the sun setting in the red sky, practising the Waltz.  When times get ...

the Waltz

Whilst running today, I passed an old man on an empty street, facing the sun setting in the red sky, practising the Waltz. When times get rough, I shall be reminded of this moment.

This was a friend's status on facebook. I could imagine the scene...... it was beautiful, and I smiled just at the thought of it. And it was a smile accompanied with a tinge of wistfulness.

Somehow the picture in my mind leapt to a time when that same friend taught me the waltz back when I was in New Zealand four years ago. I was awkward and embarrassed by my two left feet. And it was a memory I had forgotten until the post showed up.

It was here in this gazebo where I learnt to do the waltz
It was incredibly peaceful and there was no one around to make me feel self-conscious. I was tripping myself most of the time though bahah and me being me, I was hard on myself, "why can't I get this damn sequence right?!?!" My friend didn't seem to care though, he'd take my hand and yank me in the right directions.

And we'd dance,

till dusk. 

I took all these pictures knowing that I'll forget..., and if I can have just so much as this little bit of feeling and memory as I'm whisked back in time, I'm satisfied. And happy.

Then sometimes regret would follow suit, because I'd wonder if I was ever present enough in that moment.

Because a moment in time, is time lost forever.

In the past year, I've received about 4 or 5 private messages from people asking me about my internship experience in Myanmar - people...

Sometimes, we tend to forget...

In the past year, I've received about 4 or 5 private messages from people asking me about my internship experience in Myanmar - people from Canada, Vietnam, Singapore... they want to get a sense of how my internship went and whether it'd be a good idea to take the plunge and go to Myanmar to work for the same company.

I'd give them my two cents' worth and a few tips here and there.

I'd also hear out their reasons for wanting to head over to Myanmar - most of them the same reasons that I had. Myanmar is an exciting place to be in, teeming with opportunities and business, the place-to-be basically. Very thrilling stuff.

I remember having all of those thoughts and feelings as well - excited to explore a new place, a place that I'd always dreamed of visiting. The only thing that differentiated myself from them was the fact that I practically just followed my heart and instinct without really making any effort to reach out and find out more about the place/country/company hahahah. When I think back, that could've helped set my expectations better.

Anyway, there was this man, originally from Italy and residing in Germany, who approached me via facebook and asked if I'd recommend taking up the internship and if I'd any advice to share. What intrigued me was his cover photo.... it was Singapore's skyline (with Marina Bay and stuff, stuff we're so used to). What set him apart from the rest who approached me was the fact that he'd come to Singapore before and stayed here a few months - the experience left a huge impact on him. He said his experience in Singapore was so good, no wait, in his exact words he said ".... I wanted to come back to Asia after Singapore (which I so passionately loved!)"

I was moved and proud that it was Singapore that made him decide to come back to Asia. I asked him, why? Because healthy skepticism is always good haha. Plus, so many Singaporeans love to hate on the country so I'm wondering why THIS person thinks this way, and more so, so STRONGLY about it.

And he told me this:

my mobile phone interface is in Chinese now, if you're wondering haw haw 

Mix of cultures, kindness, patriotism and pride.
I almost wanted to ask him, WHO WERE YOU HANGIN OUT WITH!?!?!? You sure they my people?? I'd never imagine people thought of us as kind and patriotic. Really??

And I suppose it takes an outsider like him to remind me of what I often take for granted. He's not even the first foreigner to tell me this. And I'm always quite surprised to know that they. really. like. our country. Hard to believe, but it's true! There was once, a colleague from Britain said she loves Macritchie Reservoir and how much she loves our rainforest trees and the denseness of it all. That it's not cold. I also remember another Brit whom I met while I was in Hastings, UK, who told me how much her daughter loveeedddd Singapore. As always, cynical as can be, you'd say really???! Naw no way. But it is true... there are people who love us, love our country, loved their experience here.

Then again, I suppose it's the whole, "you wish you have what you don't have."

And so we tend to forget what amazing things we already have.

I'm so happy there actually ARE Singaporeans who are proud to be here. And I wish more of my own people see it the way they do. There's so much to hate, but there's much to love and appreciate too. A lot of flaws still exist - the issue of race has and will always be an issue of contention, the cost of living is always rising and there's a problem of simply having enough space to breathe in an overcrowded city. To wish them all away is too simplistic, and the idea of migrating to another country is tempting but a very narrow-minded one. To me, they're forms of escapism~ It's not as if your problems will go *poof* when you're out of here.

It's also the mindset of a lot of people in my generation. I love to travel, but I won't ever treat travel as a form of escapism. I think you're not really getting what travel's meant to do if you're travelling to leave your country. Yes, it's a great way to escape monotony and experience the highs that travel provides. But I've always believed that the decision to travel and get away should also come from a place of calm and a deeper sense of want and need to explore, learn and discover. Not run. You're never gonna run away enough and every trip is going to be unfulfilling. You know? That feeling of dread when you're returning home.

Things are never going to be fun forever.

But look harder, seek the goodness, and I believe what you've always been looking for has always been here.

Of course, I've met people and friends who have left this country for another place they call home. I met two Singaporean couples who decided to go and leave this place for New Zealand. I see, experience and I understood where they were coming from. There was time over there. Loads of time for family, friends, relationships. The very essence of being a human being, with priorities set on people. I was invited to their homes, I had dinner with them. I understood. I very well understood why they enjoyed the life they were living in New Zealand. In the search for growth, modernism and advancement, us Singaporeans let time with people and loved ones slip by. Being "busy" became the ideal. And for many, it isn't a choice either. We never stop to breathe.

Singaporeans have become educated and more affluent, but we've forgotten what it's like to be human.

Maybe it isn't just Singapore... For my young Malaysian friend - he is a gay, 20 plus year old boy who connected with no one in his country. He went to New Zealand, the first country on earth to legalise gay marriage (in fact, I was there at the time when they legalised it) and he had found a place where he was happy, where he felt he truly belonged and where he could simply be him. Again, I understood. I probed, and questioned, but I never tried to change him or the rest. Neither did they try to change me.

And that is fine. We all have our reasons. For myself, I realised that after all my travels, yes, I know the flaws of my society and the things I hope to change. And precisely because of that, I stay. I don't stay because I'm fighting. I'm staying because I truly love this place, with all its flaws. I know it sounds incredibly corny, but it is very true. And more so, I love it for its strengths. Also because of my travels... I know that what we've got is soooo precious. A very globalised city, affordable public transport, security, nature in the form of parks and reservoirs - there are places that don't even have these things. Do you know that?? Even in America, I'm told, people are not educated about what the WORLD is like. Someone who lived there once said, "It's North Korea in America". Hell, I believe that, after last year's presidential election.

Above all, we are all in the search of what it means to be human. That kampong spirit we all long to return to. And I believe in my people - that we have it deep within us - the want and need to connect across different races, ages and abilities.

Perhaps my generation is a bit confused. Because we know a lot of what's happening, we're well-travelled and we see things that we want in other countries. But we've forgotten what we already have. And we want change. But change happens slowly. I see change happening in very little ways - our arts scene, it's evolving. We're starting to have conversations - important ones. All of them, in very small stages and we must be patient.

It's not easy, and it never will be. But we must keep the conversation going. And I'm here to stay, for the long run... :-)

I haven't been blogging for a while. I fell sick on v-day (someone thinkin bout me too much yknow?), and was sick for the entire week. T...

That nose rub

I haven't been blogging for a while. I fell sick on v-day (someone thinkin bout me too much yknow?), and was sick for the entire week. The remnants of the flu and cough are still with me today, but definitely almost gone away. I didn't take MC because it was Budget 2017 and I was in-charge of a very important job - providing an entire list of general shots like singapore skyline, people walking by in cbd area and whatever that was targeted in predicting what the finance minister might say - a new scheme, roll out packages, incentives. We hit jackpot with one of the predictions, which was WATER. Water prices going up by 30%, so I was happy that my reservoir shots of water were used. Efforts did not go to a waste hahahah.

For at least two days, I toiled in air-con with a runny nose and wasted 10,000 sheets of tissue. I am so dedicated. Mediacorp should reward me.

And reward they did indeed. Guys, I've been confirmed as a full-time staff. Just a few hours ago. And I'm as happy as a bird!! Everything must be celebrated. I shall treat my family to a sumptuous meal :-) As a person who's very hard on myself, my first reaction was joy, which then turned to, well yknow, "I expected to be confirmed so it's a natural process, my hard work paid off" yes.... I tend to water down my achievements.

Not this time!!

Besides that flu, I've been wanting to share this very useful tip on body language.

Every time someone is uncomfortable about saying something, or awkward/not confident about what they just said or lying,

they. will. rub. their. nose.

Or rather, when you see someone rub their nose after saying something, there's a possibility that they felt uncomfortable saying what they just did. Not the hard-on rubbing kind, but the one finger under the nose, wiping something invisible away or merely just giving the nose a tiny nudge upwards. It's very subtle, but once you get it, like I have, you will never unsee it again. Whenever I spot it, I know that the person is uncomfortable and it helps with gauging what a person's like sometimes.

Why am I saying this? Because I've seen this countless of times, almost on an everyday basis with people I talk to and when I observe how other people talk to one another. Whenever they feel uncomfortable about saying something, THEY WILL RUB THEIR NOSE.

Why am I saying this now? Because I've seen it too many times in the past week that I realised I had to share this and tell someone about it.

There was one time somebody asked if I had eaten lunch. I said yes. And the person proceeded to ask, "ah, *rubs nose* alone?" I said, "ah, yes". I could tell the person felt awkward or embarrassed to ask if I had eaten alone, because it isn't socially acceptable. And I knew the person thought that way. Or that one time I hitched a ride with a boss. And we were talking. And she was asking how I was finding the job so far. She then proceeded to ask a question every boss wants to know "Why do you think some people leave the company? Tell me... what do they say?" And yes, I don't have to tell you but she did it... she rubbed her nose while asking me those questions because it was awkward for her to ask such a question so pointedly to her subordinate.

The nose rub thing reveals a lot to me and I catch what they're thinking almost all the damn time.

And do you know how I realised it's true? Because I catch myself doing it too. That's how I realised, wow, this is real. Then, I go one step further thinking that perhaps someone else other than me knows this, and I often stop myself reaching for my nose so it doesn't appear like I'm not confident about what I just said.

I also find it quite annoying every time I see the nose rub, because I can call out the person. I'm almost certain about knowing what they feel. Sometimes I see people who do it A LOT, and for sure, I know they're not trustworthy or reliable.

This helps with knowing who to trust quickly. Meeting new people all the time, you sometimes don't know who you can rely on, and so this is a very small but I believe, useful tip ;-)

In the meantime, I've a lot of posts I want to write but whenever I think about how long they might be, I lack the motivation to type. I guess a lot of what I do relies on spontaneity too.

Before I go, remember that tip I just taught you and slay it like a ninja!

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