478: Remember 2015

I didn’t write one for the previous year; I’m not sure why. It might have been because I was too caught up in the whirlwind of the beginning of the year, having convinced myself that I was too happy and had so many other, better, things to do; unknowingly, the first week of the year slipped by and writing about the year that just passed seemed less and less relevant.

Strange because so much has happened in these two years. So much has changed. I began the first day of 2015 uncharacteristically not hungover from the festivities the night before (although what I actually did, I can’t for the life of me remember anymore), waking up at the ungodly time of 6am to rush to my cousin’s house to prepare for his wedding, and then the hubbub of the whole affair died down to just a few family members, dozing by the armchairs of the outdoor bar in Capella, talking about our lives over drinks and tea. It was a sunny day; the weather was great.

Chinese New Year came. The predictions for the year promised great things. I spent the months mostly being optimistic and bored, a fact made more glaringly obvious by the fact that I can’t remember what I did at work (besides drink) nor outside work (besides drink). Life was peaceful and painless, and uncharacteristically quiet. I was alone for the first time in ages suddenly, and strangely enough I didn’t know what to do with myself. And then: I turned 28. There were too many questions. What should I be doing with my life? What am I doing with my life? Do I really want to be here? Is life too easy? Am I going mad? I read more books in the first 6 months of 2015 than I have in the past five years, which just shows what life in practice does to you. I’m not really sure why I jumped back in again — but I did, and now I’m back to stealing moments from work to read a book whenever I can. I talked about it to everybody and anybody who would listen, trying to find someone who could explain to me why I felt this strange disquiet in my head. But I savoured the fact that I had a Blackberry but never needed to check it, ever; I read my emails at the end of the week and nobody would say anything. I abandoned my Blackberry and the thought of endless blinking red lights and the multitude of horrors that it implied, not so secretly laughed at those who were still chained to their jobs, and went out to explore the world, as I imagined I should have, many years earlier.

So, I travelled. Burma; the first South East Asian country I’d visited (other than Thailand) ever. It was beautiful, but I’m not sure I’d go back so soon. Watched the sun rise 300 feet off the ground, us hanging in the air like lanterns. Lazy days by the pool because it was too hot to do anything else, drinking cocktails in the water and reading Burmese Days, just because we could. Watched the city crumble around us and rise again from the ashes of a long, drawn out past. Thought for a moment that I was back where Singapore might have been, 50 years ago. Revisited Tokyo for the first time in 5 years, fell in love with it all over again. Ate too much. Drank up a storm. Did stupid things like go to a club with all our shopping and two huge shoeboxes. Saw the cherry blossoms rise and fall, got cheap thrills out of the cold wind and the sakura-related everything that they were selling, had numerous conversations about what we wanted to do with our lives, our loves, and more. Fell down the stairs the day after I came back, cut my foot, remained invalid for a week. Nearly didn’t make it to Bali, but somehow I did, with my crazy bandaged foot and industrial-strength injury tape and a shit load of painkillers, more lazy days around the villa, gingerly testing if my foot would explode with bacteria if I waded into the pool, reliving nights at Bounty just because we could, and having strange and wonderful walks back home to our villa with drunken friends and drunken conversations. Life seemed wonderful.

But wonderful is as wonderful does and life does what it likes. Somewhere along the way we lost ourselves and for me at least, it took a long time to find myself again. It’s still taking a long time. Maybe as we get older the time seems shorter, only because there’s not that much for you to find. What can you know that you don’t already know? Are there still parts of yourself to discover?

“Just because we could” seemed to be a recurring trend, for some reason. But that’s just it, isn’t it? Suddenly I realised I was no longer 21 and I was not standing on the cusp of my fullest potential. This was either my peak or the best was yet to be, but either way I was no longer at the beginning. I could no longer tell myself that there were this many second chances, that life was always going to be awesome and filled with endless joys and surprises (not that I’ve really ever done this), but when you’re 28 the only way to go seems to be forward. And so you do things, just because you can and there is no other way. We’ve come too far now; we’re too old. Either we try this, or we never do. And if not now, when?

And then where else? There was a point halfway through the year where I asked myself too many questions. The world changed. If it was at all possible to believe, I grew older (again). And then what was there left for me? I wanted to check myself into an island and never appear again. The days passed, and somehow I couldn’t. When I finally did run away it was the opportunity of a lifetime. And so started the camping, the rain, the fireworks, the dancing, the friends… It was tiring, it was amazing. It’s still tiring as hell, but I don’t think any amount of writing really adequately conveys the highs and lows of this year, and even just thinking about it makes me feel drained. And…

Now I’m here. It’s too far and not far enough from home. Here is a new life I never thought possible, and yet sometimes it seems as if I never left. This is a new city, but all around there are old connections. For all that it’s worth and all that I left behind, it was something I never expected to really do. But now I did it, and I’m finding pride in things that I never really expected to. The work is hard and shitty and I’m chained to my job just like I used to be, there are even more late nights and documents and possibilities of going blind, but part of me now knows that some day all this will pass, and I have options, choices, life decisions, alternatives, to be here or there or nowhere, just so long as it’s somewhere my heart is.

I don’t know where it is now. This year turned out like nothing I expected. It’s raining outside the window of my apartment where I now live alone and the only thing I come home to is the sound of myself. I think in time my heart could be here, but every other week I get the urge to fly home and stay forever. Strange because once again I feel like I’m standing on the verge of something. I wonder if this time it’ll take me three years to realise I should have just done it right at the beginning. I don’t know. I don’t know a lot of things anymore. And I’m still bumbling through life dreading all the hellos and the goodbyes. But I’m here. Just because I can be. And some day I’ll go home. Just because I can.

There won’t be many opportunities to feel this way again, I reckon. Some days I wake up and the air is swirling with uncertainty, and I think to myself that none of this is worth the battle that goes on in my head every morning. Some days I feel as clueless as a twelve year old kid, lying in bed thinking about her first crush. Some days all these words get stuck in my head and they can’t come out. Some days my heart’s a mess. I didn’t think it would still be a mess at 28, but here we are. Here we are in a city of skyscrapers and heartbreakers. But we’ll make it work. We’ve got to make it work somehow.

We’ll see what happens this year, but who knows. Some days I wish there was someone who could tell me where to go and how to get there. But in the meantime I take long drives in my head to nowhere, and hope I don’t get lost along the way. How is it possible to still be scared at this age? But it’s possible, if only because there’s so much less time left and so much more to lose. We’ll see if we find the correct question to the answer this year. How much longer do we have anyway?

The answer bloody well isn’t 42. It’s yes.

 

 

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446: remember 2010

The question one inevitably asks is — how did it come to this? Was it worth all of it, and how it came about? How did you even get here, and how were your thought processes? Did you even think it through at all? These are questions that zoom through your mind on a cloudy Friday night, lying on the ground staring at the sky. The sky offers no answers. Eventually we must still solve the puzzles ourselves. And still, the question is — why?

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436: may all your wishes come true

DisneySea and Universal Studios. Probably the second and third happiest places on earth. But I’m a ride junkie, even though I love Winnie the Pooh to bits. So the theme park that gets my vote is Universal Studios, just because it has a rollercoaster that I got to go on five times. It was the first time in the history of me visiting theme parks that I didn’t have to queue more than 45 minutes for the most popular ride. My longest wait (for Thunder Mountain Railroad or whatever it’s called)? 3 hours!!!!

Joy at the height of summer. Much love.

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435: all this hate and love

Maybe it’s true what they say about big cities; maybe it’s not. What is more certain is that life goes on the way it has for years, regardless of the tourists that come and go, snapping pictures for their travel albums back home. Funny how scenes of every day life translate into souvenirs, as if you would make a lovely picture just standing outside and taking in the laundry. But you do make a lovely picture. I don’t know what to say about Japan. Most of these were day trips, achieved by taking a train out from the cities, filled with skyscrapers and illegible Japanese neon signs. Here the lights go off by ten, and the streets are empty after dinner. We wandered slowly and tentatively, afraid to break the hush. Once in awhile we pass by a convenience store (truly convenient), refuel, go on our way again. A bicycle stops, and a high school jock gets off. He wears his track suit, his dyed hair is painfully brown, illuminated against the harsh flourescent lights. They step in to flip over magazines along the aisle, filled with covers of pretty girls with big boobs.

These cities are old and quiet and the residents cycle through everyday life with steady momentum. People are less brash, more polite. The air is fresh and cold. The mountains continue to exist, as they always have, without our presence or help.

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417: i hope you get your dreams

I could say a thousand things about Japan, but nothing quite beats the visuals, and the way the city lights dance in your eyes. Mishaps, stress, mangled Japanese, almost-missed trains aside, there was loads of fun, laughter, alcohol, and a shit load of things to see. Every time is different. Every time you go back, you always get to know a country better.

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411: japanification

多几个月,就要回到日本去。虽然不是第一次,但总觉得流连忘返。 希望这一次可以玩得轻松,自由自在地逛着街,拍拍照。这段旅游代表的虽然是个全新的开始,但也代表了童年的末期。

上完这个学期,青春似乎就要结束了。虽然人总要迈向未来,但有时候还会怀旧。到时候,起码也要笑笑地怀念着以前的回忆。

现在就设法尽情享受人生!

341: i’m going to linger till dawn, dear

I’m back! For awhile, after a month on the road. The bus driver looked surprised when he stamped my bus ticket and noted that the last stamp was dated four weeks ago. And strange again, because I came home to an empty house, with a load of mail waiting for me. I’ve unpacked all my things, knowing that I will have to pack them again pretty soon, which is fine by me, except that I have a shitload of laundry to do by Monday. 

This past month has been good. From being with friends to meeting friends of friends, though somewhat randomly and by tenuous connection (one always marvels at how Facebook improves communications by leaps and bounds), we covered London and Paris and then Portugal — which I loved — Lisbon more than Porto, but still lovely all the same.

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339: remember 2008

The year has been eventful, to say the least. I ushered in the new year at the beginning of the year (last year, now) in a variety of circumstances; every year with the Hwa Chong people, screaming “Happy New Year” at the top of our voices around the swimming pool, and then drinking Raffles beer at the front of Block B, our cars parked in a perfect straight line along the parallel parking lots. I was wearing a red dress, I remember, and the rest were happy and drunken.

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335: she’ll take a tumble on you

The semester is almost over. As usual one is struck by how fast time flies, and the way in which it has flown. People have already gone home, to wherever they came from, and one recalls the tears that I find myself unable to shed. Maybe it was because I was not the one leaving; maybe I did not have sufficient connections with these people. There were lovely people, people I wish I’d known better were I not caught up in my own drama, but three months and meaningful friendships are hard to sustain. One is aware that this is not an excuse and that I could have, if I tried, or bothered to try. That being said, maybe next semester will be different, and one can always hope for the best. Making new friends, sustaining them, remembering why I am here in the first place, living for myself. The world is now and forever waiting for me to explore it. For once I will try not to be defeated by my own inaction. 

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296: japan: kyoto contradictions

Some think Kyoto is all quaint shops and beauty. It is, but there’s so much more than that. Maybe it’s because it’s the old capital. Nowhere else do you feel the contradictions more strongly: time-honored tradition living next to modern amenities; something as mundane as seeing two geisha clad in kimono walking next to a taxi. The men who frequent Gion have changed their clothes as the times pass, yet till now it is the wealthy businessmen who look to entertain and be entertained, in their dapper, dreary business suits, that sing and laugh with geisha in the comfort of the teahouses overlooking the river. Not everything Arthur Golden says is true, but it’s not all false either. As tourists throng to the temples frantically snapping away with their cameras, there remains the crowd of people that stays the same, going back to the temple year after year, month after month, praying for this or that. The wooden plaques always say the same things; human nature changes very little. Many things have changed, but there is still hope. 

Here, young girls still guide their hopeful friends, hands clasped and eyes closed, towards the sunshine and in search of love.

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293: japan: osaka city riots

18- 21 May.

So, finally, here is Osaka. Most of what they say about Osaka is totally true. It’s a merchant town, and it’s filled with people who love food, love being happy, love being loud and funny and living life. It’s kind of like being Hokkien on crack. Being Japanese, they’re naturally polite, and really really willing to help. They’re the sort of people that, when you are standing alone on the train platform surrounded by your luggage, an elderly lady will totter over to you asking, 大丈夫か? (Are you all right?). At this point most of what you can say merely consists of ああ、はい (Ah, yes) which is really rude now that I think about it. Yet the same elderly lady, when getting onto the train, will fight you tooth and nail to get in and give you a not-so-friendly push if you dawdle too long at the entrance. Osaka people are always hurrying everywhere; not in the same way as Tokyo or the big cities, where everyone needs to look like they have something very important to do. Here it is pure unadulterated rush. 

We spent four days in Osaka, and they were a good four days. We visited temples and parks, castles, got lost, did lots of shopping, checked out Kennedy’s wildly expensive t-shirts, gawked at more wildly expensive merchandise, ate and walked, and ate, and ate non-stop. 

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292: go out and get her

I’ve been sick for the past few days… guess the heat has finally gotten to me. I went to Ikea on Sunday with J and felt like shit after eating my meatballs (hmmm, I don’t think it had anything to do with the meatballs, though), so I went home, and I’ve just been sleeping my days away because the medicine knocks me right down again every time I wake up to take it. My mum is now worried sick (ha, ha) that I’m going to fall ill and die by myself over there, but I suppose everyone who goes overseas goes through that. 

In any case, I managed to get a flight to Amsterdam on SQ! Hooray for the nice person who decided to free up his reservation :D 

Also, we are going to Munich for Oktoberfest! I checked the train tickets and it seems pretty reasonable… if I buy a pass. Even though it takes 7-9 hours to get to Munich from Amsterdam. Still, it’s an overnight train, so I can take it at night and arrive in the morning. We are currently looking for one more person to share accommodation with, though. That is, if you don’t mind staying in a caravan (and it’s only 99 euros per night! That works out to… less than 25 euros per person per night.) Current parties involved include me, J and Kenneth. If anyone’s interested (preferably someone all three of us know… but if not, we can work something out), you can leave a comment here and I’ll get back to you! Accommodation is in very very very short supply (as I have found out, the hard way).

I’ve been watching Nodame Cantabile; it’s pretty good! The girl annoys me less than she should, she is very pretty, and her dress sense is kind of cute. I want her boots, but her Japanese accent is very irritating. I guess Tamaki Hiroshi makes up for it…

291: it’s a bright, bright, bright, sunshiney day

I must say; it’s so hot it’s not even funny. I can just sit here and start sweating for no reason. I hate hot weather. And summer. And whatever arghhh.

I haven’t done anything these few days. I met Nurul to do our nails yesterday so now my nails are grey. It looks cooler than it sounds. I think. Other than that, I’ve only been meeting J for dinner and making full use of my Internet’s temporary connection to Megaupload (I have never been able to download anything from there before. Ever. J says it’s where all the porn is stored and MU has probably cleared all its servers so that horny Singaporeans don’t get to access it anymore…) to download 34689475968 episodes of everything. 

I now have on-going series (what is the plural?!) of Osen, Zettai Kareshi, Last Friends, and Nodame Cantabile. Also I found the subtitled version of the Hana Kimi special. GO ME! I now have a drama collection to rival Isaac’s. Who is obsessed with Nakama Yukie. Watching Gokusen for all the wrong reasons. Tsk.

Pictures of the super wonderful bento/don I ate the other day:

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289: japan: yokohama city lights

It’s early in the morning now, and as usual, I can’t sleep. The sky is red and you know what they say about red skies in the morning and red skies at night. Tonight the moon is full, as it was last night, but tonight the moon hung low behind the tree outside my house and I had to look harder to find it. It’s just like most things, which disappear without you noticing in the hope you’ll look ever harder for them. 

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This post is about Yokohama, with which I think I might have a special love affair. This is not to say that I didn’t love all the other cities I went to, but that they mean different things to me. Tokyo is the place of childhood and dreams, mainly because I went there so many times when I was younger, though as you grow older you discover its ever-increasing adult attractions. Osaka was all about food and relaxation and just generally having fun doing everything and nothing. Kyoto was full of history, but Yokohama…

Yokohama is full of lights and romance. Yokohama is the place you bring girls to when you want to impress them. It doesn’t seem like much because it’s so near Tokyo and it’s so easy to overlook, but it retains that particular, off-centre, sort of feeling. It’s near but not too near. It has its own voice, its own attractions, its own history. Some people say Chinatown wasn’t too interesting; sometimes you just need to know where to look. Stepping into Minato Mirai is fascinating precisely because we’re at an age where we can appreciate it, still: the free theme parks, ferris wheels, lights across the sea, the red brick warehouses and the smoke curling up from beneath the windows. It seriously is the number one place to bring a girl on a date. It is so romantic you can choke. 

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284: photo blues

Randomly, I am getting annoyed with the lack of good, free photo hosting sites. Does anyone have any suggestions? I need:

1) Nice layout

2) Slideshow feature

3) Unlimited photo storage

4) Preferably easily uploadable

5) Can be shared publicly without people having to sign up/be emailed, i.e. the URL can just be given

6) FREE

I uploaded 225 photos onto snapfish only to realise that I have to email people to share my pictures. Which is not what I want because it is so troublesome. ROAR. Someone please help me :(

283: the magical mystery tour

It was, you know. It was magical. 

in yoyogi park, on sunday

I will probably post the photos by city, in parts, because there are too many and I love all the pictures. Of which I have 1377. Excluding the ones I had to take on my phone because my camera battery died (e.g. the entire night parade in Disneyland, which I am very annoyed about). After two weeks it was not that I didn’t mind going home, but it was also because I knew I wouldn’t be back for at least another few years. That was a depressing thought, but it was, and is always, such a magical country. There are so many thoughts I cannot articulate it all. It will be done, though, slowly but eventually.

282: 写真を撮って、いいですか?

Just a quick post: in Yokohama now, heading to Osaka tomorrow morning.

Everybody loves Japan, yes? I am no exception. I wish I could stay here forever, but we all know that’s not possible. However I thoroughly indulged my fangirl self ogling cute boys everywhere (and the girls are so pretty) including random Kanjani8 Nissin Cup Noodle advertisements in the subway, caved in and bought two KAT-TUN DVDs (haha did you know Johnny’s Entertainment has their own separate section in HMV?) and a magazine (the one where the photo below appears) while my boyfriend dragged me all across Harajuku and Shibuya shopping and looking for his weird obscure underground shops. Oh, and he bought about half of Uniqlo as well. Also, I have overheard more conversations about the merits of Akanishi vs Kamenashi vs random Japanese celebrity from girls with their boyfriends than I can count. Starbucks is freaking everywhere.

Today was good: Yokohama is a pretty place. Pictures when I come back; the night lights are beautiful. I’ve also sat more rollercoasters than I can count, including the ones in Disneyland (the parade was magical omg, but I got sunburnt haha) and some random super drop rollercoaster in Yokohama today, in a free theme park no less!

Lots of food. Ate orgasmic sushi at Tsukiji it’s like food porn. Really can die. And my Japanese is super bad it’s so embarrassing.

More when I get internet again.

279: dinner with cleavageman j

Did I ever tell you I love Muji food? Like, not the clothes, but the random selection of weird and wonderful foods they stock up near the back. Like plum cheese tarts and black pepper cheese bites. Yum. 

I should be buying less since I’ll be in Japan in a few days, but I can’t help it. Anyway yesterday concluded the neverending series of birthday parties (surprise, and otherwise).

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