#37: Reconnecting with the self

Its been a really long time since I’ve had the opportunity to spend some time with myself, reflecting. Finally got some down time when I got to Laos.

The pace at which Laos goes by at is something which I took awhile to adapt to. It was only upon realising that I started being negative and antsy at the fact that I had nothing to do that I figured I was in a highly strung state of mind, even whilst on holiday. When I stopped looking to find something, anything to do, I realised how much of the surroundings I was missing out on. I was in fact, totally disconnected from the world around me.

The last few months have been really hectic, and the bulk of it was really justu keeping up with the demands of work and society. However, ever since I made the decision to take a break from work, things have been looking up. Realising that I was attached to work, and no longer being passionate about the scope of work I do was a turning point. It was time. Time for me to move. I was getting good at what I was doing, but I was also losing touch with myself.

Meanwhile, I am really enjoying Laos, and looking forward to the upcoming trips, which I’m sure will prime me to be even more introspective!

Stay tuned for a blogpost on how I explored Laos in the last one week!

P.S The following was taken at (as of today) my no.1 waterfall which I think everyone needs to visit! 🙂

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Xoxo

Destination: Mostar

Whilst in Dubrovnik, I decided to do a day trip to Mostar, which is about 2.5 hours away by car. I decided to join a tour group with Adriatic-Explore for this trip and I think the experience was absolutely great! I was in a mini bus with just 3 other people, and the guide was very knowledgeable, sharing very interesting bits of information throughout our trip. And, they do have quite a few pick-up points around the hilly city, which I thought was a great bonus! Besides Mostar, we also did short stopovers at little towns along the way, such as Pocitelj, Neum and Medugorje, which I thought was really cool.

Where is Mostar?

Mostar is a city in southern Bosnia and Herzegovina, straddling the Neretva River. To be exact, it is actually located in the Herzegovina region. To get there from Dubrovnik, the drive included driving out of Croatia to Neum, and then back into Croatia before reaching Bosnia, which means you have to clear customs for a total of 12 times to and fro! This is because Neum, a little resort town, which is Bosnia’s only access to the Adriatic Sea, cuts Croatia into 2.

What is in Mostar?

#1 : The Stari Most (Old Bridge)

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Photos of this bridge (Instagram!) got me really intrigued to visit Mostar. Mostar got its name after this Bridge, or more precisely after the bridge keepers (Mostaris) who used to guard the bridge.

The best view of this bridge is from the Koski Mehmed-Pasha Mosque’s minaret. It costs 6 Euros to climb up the bridge and it gives you a panoramic view of the city. Definitely worth the money if you are looking into taking photos of the town and the bridge!

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#2: Koski Mehmed-Pasha Mosque

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This mosque was built at the beginning of the 17th century by Koski Mehmed-Pasha. From the Stari bridge, you will be able to see the reflection of the mosque in the river.

#3: Melting Pot of Cultures

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Walking along Mostar feels a little like Turkey. The architecture and souvenirs they sell are mainly Turkish in nature. There are loads of Turkish influence in the area due to the fact that the Ottoman Turks ruled the area. You will even structures in typical turkish towns dotted all around Mostar. You will also see some remnants of the Bosnian war, with some buildings outside the old town covered with bullet holes.

#4: Bosnian Coffee

In my opinion, the taste of Bosnian Coffee is similar to Turkish Coffee. It is served with a Bosnian candy which is similar to the Turkish delight. Basically what you do is to place the sugar cube on your spoon and pour the coffee over it. The coffee melts the sugar and brings a tinge of sweetness to the very acidic and thick Bosnian coffee.

Oh, I had my lunch at Urban Grill ( I know, it sounds totally western), and the Ćevapi and Bosnian Coffee was pretty good! Of course, the view of the bridge from this restaurant was too amazing to miss!

#5: Jumping Off the Stari Most

For 25 euros, you can either choose to jump off the bridge or get the staff to jump. My choice was to stick to being an audience this time round, as jumping off the bridge was not something I was ready to do on this trip. At the top of the bridge, tourists chip in to make the 25 euros for the staff to jump off the bridge.

#6: Bosnian War

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As a history major, I have to admit that we did not learn much about that in school. Considering how recent the event was, I am surprised that I actually have little knowledge about the war.

The Bosnian War was an international armed conflict that took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina between 1992 and 1995. The Bosnian war was fought because Serbs and Croats living in Bosnia wanted to annex Bosnian territory for Serbia and Croatia respectively. Up until today, I think the 2 groups still do not get along that well. I remember driving past this road which divided the 2 sides during the war, and this division actually still exists even though the war has ended. Our guide was a Bosnian Croat, and he spoke fondly of Tito’s time, because what followed after the dissolution of that was essentially the Bosnian war.

My Thoughts..

I spent about 3 hours in Mostar and managed to explore most of the city. However, I kinda wish I had at least 2 more hours to explore a few more museums. I really enjoyed my time in Mostar, and the trip made me very intrigued to read up more about the history of Bosnia. With its influence from the Ottoman empire, the Austria-Hungarians empire and its time under communist rule as Yugoslavia, this little town is really a melting pot of cultures and I would definitely recommend anyone who is in the area to make a trip to the city!

 

#32- What does home mean?

Waiting for my next flight back to Singapore. I always feel like I have so much more I want to do whenever I am about to leave a city. Arghhhh

I visited China and Hong Kong the last few days. The time in China was mainly to visit my grandparents as they decided to move back there a couple of years ago when they decided that it made more sense for them to be back at where they truly belong when the time came for them to go.

Which got me thinking, what is home? Where do I truly belong?

Many of us are global citizens today, and connectivity has revolutionized the concept of home for everyone. We are definitely way more mobile today than our grandparents and parents used to be. Inter-racial and cross-cultural marriages are so common these days.

I was born in Hong Kong. In case you are curious, my life story goes like this:

My parents were both from China. My maternal grandfather and my dad met on a boat which supposedly took them to Hong Kong back in 1980s, when my dad was barely 18. At that point, my mum was already in Hong Kong. My grandfather basically thought my dad was pretty cool and introduced him to my mum, and then of course, love blossomed, and there you go, I was born a couple of years later.

I spent my first 3 years in Hong Kong, studied in a local kindergarden, and lived at one of the poorer areas in Hong Kong, where houses were made of wood. However, during those times, the sense of community was so strong, and that is something I’d never forget even until today.

Thereafter, my dad, being the head pastry chef of a global hotel chain, got relocated to Singapore. That’s where I moved to SG for 2 years, and went to pre-school there. When I was 6, we moved back to Hong Kong again. I was enrolled into the Singapore International School. Until today, I still have fond memories of some of my classmates back then, and some interesting bits about life back then. Here they are:

#1- We used to live in Chai Wan, and I was always the last to alight from the school bus. As the school used to built atop a hill, I used to puke my way through the entire journey.

#2- I was recruited into the drama club because my cheeks had a natural blush, and I remember starring in a play where I played the role of a doll in a toy shop. I vaguely recall that the dolls come alive at night and I was one of them.

#3- My other extra-ciricular activity was the band. I used to play the xylophone, but I totally cannot recall any bit of this now.

#4- My bestie in Primary one was a Japanese girl, whose name I cannot even recall now. Maybe that explains why the fascination with Japanese culture and language?

When I was 7, we moved to Singapore again, and since then, I have never left the country for any extended period apart from my short stint in Japan when I did summer school there.

Today, I have really good friends all over the world, and I know they are more than happy to host me whenever I visit. A lot of these places feel like home to me, and I am starting to question what the notion of home entails.

Hong Kong feels familiar, Singapore is where I was brought up. I cant decide which one of them is home. Due to my amazing friends in the US, certain states like Seattle and New Jersey makes me really at home too. Is it the people who make home for what it feels like? Or is it just by virtue where you are born and raised?

Home is where the heart belongs. But, what if your heart belongs everywhere?

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On a side note, I explored a different side of HK this time round, and I think it is super super cool. I am falling in love with the city again. HK is full of surprises. 

#30 Life goes on

Happy Lunar New Year! Finally got some time to reflect on life again.

Its been a hectic few months. Life is slowly falling into a routine, and responsibilities both at work and at home have been growing. Routine is a double-edged sword; it makes you really comfortable and provides you with stability on one hand, but makes life seem mundane on the other.

Stability makes it easier for one to make plans for the future, both financially and emotionally. However, sometimes the unknown bits of life is what makes life exciting. This is exactly why I think skydiving is one of the most exciting experience ever. That adrenaline rush from free falling, the amazing view from the top of the world, that fear when sitting at the edge of the plane, each of these remind me how amazing life is, and how I should be grateful to be alive.

Sometimes life leaves me completely surprised and confused, and I really have absolutely no idea what to make of it. Chance encounters, getting reacquainted with people whom you have known all the while, making spontaneous decisions, all these surprises thwart stability in your life. I am really looking forward to see what life has prepared in store for me. Cannot wait for my next journey in Spring!

Meanwhile, let me first indulge in the beautiful sunsets in SEA, before I get to see the ones in Europe in Spring! 🙂

Wishing everyone an amazing year ahead!

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xoxo

 

#29- Great Start to a New Year

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Concluding my first trip this year. I got to admit that this was a fantastic way to start off a new year. Going forward, maybe this is how each year should begin.

Nature always helps me to put things into perspective. We are only small specks in this great thing called the universe. Every encounter, whether by chance or not, happened for a reason. Whether pleasant or not, I believe that everything is causal, one thing leads to another. Everything that happens stands for every little piece of puzzle which pieces together to form the story of your life.

Life is still a big mystery to me. I have no idea how I ended up where I am today, be it the personal or professional aspect of life, but what I’m sure of is that I am definitely enjoying every single moment of this.

3 things I’m grateful for today :
-serendipitous friendships
-amazing opportunities in life
-lessons from 2015 that shaped me into who I am today

I believe in serendipity, and it has happened so many times in 2015 that I think it is an integral part of my life already. Looking forward to more serendipity for 2016!

Xoxo