#36: On to 2018!

2017, you’ve been… interesting, filled with numerous ups and downs, but the experiences and opportunities I’ve had made me grow exponentially both at a professional and personal level.

I’ve had to experience death on two occasions this year, and these serve to remind me of the inevitability aspects of life. You really never know what could or might happen, and the best thing you can do for yourself is to live life to the fullest. Got that city you haven’t visited? Go! Got that person you haven’t met in ages? Pick up the phone and reach out.

This year, I’ve traveled to new places, and had “adventures” which made me realise that there are just too many things that you cant control in life. Learning to let go and accept things for what it is would be the best thing you can do for yourself. That is also the only way that you can grow.

My favourite trip of 2017, was my trip to Eastern Europe. Really missing the me time and those introspective conversations I had with myself when I went hiking. Learning more about different people, and how they are made up by their history was definitely a very fascinating moment.

The world is too beautiful. Being obsessed with what you don’t like or hate about life would only hinder your full ability to appreciate the things around you. This is one thing I am definitely going to work on for 2018! Looking forward to 2018 and the surprises that will be coming!

 

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#34-Finding Gratitude Once Again

A wise man whom I met on one of my travels once shared this with me this quote from Mark Twain, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”

I think I definitely have an answer for the former, and am very thankful to my parents for bringing me to this beautiful world. However, for the latter, I am still trying to figure that out, every single day. We tend to cruise through life without giving it much thought, and let the practicalities of life guide us through our decision making.

Humans have a tendency to take things for granted, and that can manifest itself in many ways. The fact that one lets the practicalities of life guide you is an indication of that. I am very guilty of that. I have been keeping myself really busy the last few months, but it still doesn’t amount to much. There isn’t much self-satisfaction. Ironically, there seems to be more satisfaction when I was unemployed. There is nothing wrong with my current life on the surface, but deep down, I feel that everything about it is wrong. By not chasing my dreams, there is a part of me that is always craving for the “what-ifs”. However, I am limited by the practicalities of life for now. I see my parents growing old, and their desire to see me tread the path that everyone is on no doubt holds me back. Is it their dream or is it my dream? Or is it just what society defines as the norm? Is there really something wrong when you don’t fall into the “norm”? Every individual is different, and I believe succumbing to social norms just isn’t the right thing to do.

Happiness comes from within, and this is something I am still striving for, every single day. Starting with being grateful and appreciating the little things in life, I think my goal for the rest of 2016 is to start being thankful for the little things that make me smile, however small they might be.

Perhaps, just maybe, it is time to get back on the road, and try to find those answers.

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#33 – Solo Traveling

I think I am now officially addicted to solo traveling.

I really enjoyed the time I had alone. Seriously. I enjoyed the intellectual banter I had, with myself, inside my mind. Sounds crazy, but more often than not, for someone like me, I rarely get to talk to myself, and it actually feels nice. I really love these introspective moments, which I really rarely get back at home.

The interesting thing about traveling solo is that you are never really alone. People talk to you, people tell you stories, people feel less vulnerable and actually open up so much more when they meet a solo traveler. Its like, I feel so much more connected to the world, to other people.

People travel for all sorts of reasons, and everyone has a different goal they are trying to achieve. I’ve met American history professors in Florence who were there to study and teach Renaissance art, an elderly man who flew from Canada to Florence to visit his ailing mother in law, a Singaporean traveling solo for his grad trip, to name a few. Maybe many of us travel because you want to see the world, but what I have realized is that yeah, sure, you travel to a certain place to see what you want to see, but the journey there can be full of surprises as well!

Seriously, I cannot wait to do this again! And, among the few dreams I tried to do on this trip, I finally fulfilled the childhood dream of seeing tulip fields in Amsterdam! smile emoticon20160501-DSC_6567

#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. 

#31- Love thy imperfections in life

Sometimes life happens. It just happens. You don’t know why, how or what, but it happens. I think everyone has been through this at some point in time. When you least expect things, it happens. If you are one of those where you are able to keep yourself on track, and keep to the path you think is best for you, then kudos to you.

Unfortunately or maybe luckily, I’m one of those who gets distracted easily, and let life happen. I love the element of surprise. That keeps me on my toes and excited. These emotions make me feel alive.

My ideal life isn’t about that high paying job, or that perfect significant other, but rather, the imperfections in life. Every family is dysfunctional in its own way or another, but I love every bit of my family. Work is tough and demanding, but the constant flow of challenges keeps me happy and mentally stimulated. Not every Friend is perfect, but there are those that love you to bits, and you just know it.

To really love life entails loving the imperfections as well. Even self love is about accepting every part of yourself, both the good and the bad. And honestly, cliche as it may sound, if someone loves you for both your good and bad, then this person is a keeper, and family definitely falls in this category. Love is unconditional, and first, start by doing that with yourself first!DSC_0503-1

Enjoy the imperfections and let life surprise you! smile emoticon

Xoxo

#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

 

#27-What happiness really means

Sometimes having absolutely no expectations works in amazing ways. I love the element of surprise, and because I have no expectations, I end up being pleasantly surprised. Letting go of all judgments allows us to see people or events before for what it really is. That is really the most amazing feeling,ever.

Just got back from the festivities from the Union of two really amazing people, who have made huge differences to me; and I have to say, it feels really amazing to see people around you basked in joy. It makes me really happy to see those around me happy.

Happiness is not an end state, it is a state that you choose to be in, there and then. Life is filled with constant ups and downs, and that constant moving between the emotional states actually account for the true meaning behind what life is. Learning to enjoy and appreciate these changes is an art that I’m still trying to grasp. I won’t say I like sadness, but I believe that the downs are there to remind you not to take things for granted, and that life is full of uncertainty.

Being the usually inquisitive me, I start questioning what happiness entails. Is it making that extra money? Or finding that special person? Or is it simply sharing the happiness with those around me? It seems that nobody has a definite answer, but for now, I choose to remain comfortably lost, sharing in the joy of those around me, and genuinely being happy because those around me are happy.

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#23- I saw the northern lights~~~

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Just got back from 2 trips. I started off with 3 days in Manila, and then 11 days in Iceland/Finland/ Estonia. I know, the places are totally different. Its been a crazy few weeks, and I am still jetlagged as I write this post.

Seeing the northern lights got me thinking a lot more about life and relationships, in that, it’s always about being in the right place at the right time. I’m not saying that we have no agency in our lives; but there are definitely certain things we have no agency over. For example, whether the lights will appear, or whether you meet this new person who ends up as a new friend, etc. Call me a hopeless romantic, but I strongly believe in fate. 

Life has way too much uncertainties and that’s what keeps it exciting. I’m thankful that I am who I am, and I appreciate those who love me for who I am! smile emoticon

Feeling really thankful for a few things on this trip.

#1 Top of the list, seeing the northern lights not just once, but twice. The amazing display just left me amazed at what nature has to offer. The lights put on a great show for me each time I see it, and left me flabbergasted for the entire 2-3 hours as the show went on. I’m in awe each time I think about it, even though its been a week. Truly blessed and thankful to be able to see it twice!

#2 Icelandic people are super super nice. I recall an instance where an uncle just drove past and passed us 3 copies of calendars featuring Icelandic horses when we were looking at the horses at some random spot. We thought he wanted to sell us some sightseeing tours, but we were left surprised when he simply passed us some brand new calendars of Icelandic horses.

#3 I made a new friend from Finland. Learnt so much more about Finnish culture and it definitely helped in understanding Finnish culture and why certain things are the way it is. Super looking forward to catching up with him again!

#4 Tried Finnish sauna at a traditional sauna house and it was really an interesting immersive experience. Staring at a bunch of old ladies naked in the sauna just felt entirely different from being naked in the Japanese onsen. I guess the difference would be that people try to make conversations with you in Finland, whereas in Japan people just avoid eye contact and leave you to do your own thing.

#5 Visiting Porvoo on my own helped me feel independent and adventurous again. I did a solo day trip to Porvoo right before my flight home, and it was a really awesome trip, getting to see a different side of Finland, apart from Helsinki and the Lapland, gives me more reason to revisit Finland again in future!

#6 Lastly, this trip has been crazy amazing with my awesome in prompt-tu travel mates. I am super thankful to them for coming on this trip and pulling everything together super last minute. 🙂 It would not have been so perfect if not for everyone on this trip!

Thankful for every single thing that has happened in the last amazing 11 days!!

In my next post, I will be sharing on how to plan a trip around chasing the northern lights. Stay tuned! I’m still drooling over the lights as of now…..

xoxo

#22- Time for another adventure

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I am all packed, and ready for another adventure. The last two months saw a complete change in terms of lifestyle, maturity, and the focus of my life. Its nice being on the road again, as it reminds me of the free-spirited and adventure parts of me. Really excited to do a short solo stint before catching my friends in Iceland. And as I receive texts from my friends who made the effort to send me a “safe travels”, I am really really thankful.

Being in Manila last weekend got me super pensive about life, how I have settled so much into routine, and forgot the importance of being thankful. Sometimes we get some busy with our lives and forget to thankful for those around us. Even the very fact that we are kept so busy with our lives is something to be thankful for, because it keeps our mind away from having negative thoughts.

I am way behind in uploading travel photos. (will work harder at this!) This trip to Scandinavia  is something I’ve been looking forward to, initially with someone I thought would always be there for me. Now, I’m going to do it with people who have been instrumental in keeping me sane! Just 2 hours before I leave for the airport. 

Having had stability for two months, I feel that I’ve become less adventurous, which sucks. I need to reconnect with the real me, deep within. I hope being in nature will help me do that!

My travels are always laden with surprises, and I can’t wait to see what is in store for me!! Meanwhile, I’ll keep being positive, awesome and try to find the steps to happyness!

The picture above is my favourite spot in Yosemite. In the middle of the valley, you can see waterfall, blue skies, and most importantly, I have had really fond memories of the place each time I visit. I miss the U.S so much!

xoxo

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#21- What “Closure” really means

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More often than not, the door is shut on you without you really getting an answer from what you “think” you need to move on to find closure. It could be a relationship, friendship, or family.

Sometimes we spend all our time thinking of finding that closure, but that in itself is not moving on. Actually, closure should be about what you think, what you need to think to make yourself feel better. Most of the time, the closure that you are seeking for, is just your excuse to stop yourself from facing the fact that you are refusing to face up to.

It is definitely very tough to face up to facts. But the moment you let go of your ego and face up to those uncomfortable emotions, your road to recovery begins. Feel what you need to feel, no one has the right to judge you. Recovery is not linear, and you will find that you seem to be on a roller coaster all the time, but that’s alright, because if it makes you feel better, who cares? It may seem impossible, but full recovery is definitely possible, and you will find a new love which makes you so happy, and that is self-love. Happiness is within reach, you just got to take that first step!

Xoxo