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!
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.
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 emoticon
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?
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!
Enjoy the imperfections and let life surprise you! smile emoticon
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! 🙂
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 :
-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!
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.
Life is a lot about perspective. A change of perspective goes a really long way. This principle can be applied in every aspect of your life, and more often than not, helps you get out of the rut or the dilemmas that you are facing.
If you choose to see events as positive, then it is something positive, because that is your perspective of it, and it is in effect a “unique relationship” between you and the event that nobody can take away from you.
Positivity takes you to better places. Negativity, on the other hand, drags you down into the deep abyss of the unknown, and with negativity, you just get increasingly negative, and not forgetting, you draw negative vibes towards you.
As we approach the end of 2015, I am now taking the time to reflect on how much I have grown in the last year, and what I am thankful for from the past year. Even though I still feel like I am searching for something in life which at this moment, I still haven’t gotten any clarity on what it exactly is. Until then, I guess I will have to just keep doing things that make me happy, and love life in a positive manner. Looking forward to more travels and learning more lessons in 2016.
*Photo taken over sunset at the amazing glacial lagoon in Iceland.
Back in 2013, I made a photobook based off my travels up to that point in time, where I was in an entirely different state of mind. This was when I first started traveling in my bid to do some soul-searching as I entered into a phase in life where I was completely confused and direction-less. I did the bulk of these with friends. I was more focused on checking places off the list, rather than being introspective.
In 2015, I have had the opportunity to travel to so many more places, and meet so many more new people, solo. Almost all of my trips were solo, and it really gave me heaps of insights into the biggest mystery of all time, me.
With the new insights, I am inspired to create another version for 2015!