Posts Tagged ‘personal’

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Just got back from HPAIR Asia Conference in Manila. It would be safe to say that I never regretted this decision and it was probably what felt right at that point in time. It’s impossible to write everything down so let me just bring up one main point–> Conferences are all about the people and it is amazing to feel humbled in a world that is bombarded with cynicism that arose out of conflict and strife. I think it’s a unique and astounding experience because one gets to meet people from all the far flung countries, something that we will normally not have the opportunity to. It increases one’s awareness of all the politics within this world and reminds us how much work must be put in before all the fruits can be reaped. What I loved most about the conference is that core values are something that is universal, something that cannot be defined by geographical boundaries. Love and trust are both fundamental human values that link all of us together and the last five days were testaments to that. Feeling like there’s so much to be done in this world makes me afraid, but I’m ready to take on the challenges, whatever they are. This is where writing escapes me again and I can only be content by looking at the photographs that were taken and these lyrics come to mind.

难重逢我至觉得 期待你会出现
人总于今天 想昨天

Some people leave as quickly as they come, without rhyme or reason, but I believe I’ll understand in due time. Perhaps it’s not so much of whether we stay in contact, but the fact that we were all in this together for six days in Manila is a common experience that no one can take away from us. Maybe that alone is enough. Till then, we all have our respective roads ahead and I have a graduation thesis to write, jobs to apply for and the rest of my life waiting. Mabuhay, my friends. We may or may not meet again, but wherever you are, I’m always wishing for you to have a good life and I hope that you’ll be the Change you wanna see in this world. More importantly, be happy and be at peace with yourself.


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The best bunch of people whom I had the honour to befriend this summer. (Hiroshima, July-August 2015)

What can I say, where can I start? Summer’s ending way too soon and I am really surprise at how fast it FLEW by. I believe that as you get older, the days just melt into one another and before you know it, seasons change, wrinkles appear and hair turns to gray. Okay I’m being a little melodramatic here but here’s some updates on the best summer of my life so far. Over the last few months, I was busy with my internship, preparing for thesis and summer school in Japan. Initially I was really apprehensive about my decision to apply for school in Japan. It marked the start of traveling alone and I was swamped with work ;AAA; but it proved to be the best decision I’ve made so far and I am so grateful for all the events that have transpired so far. Arrived home on August 8 and I’ve got to say that as much as I was glad to be home, a better part of me wished that I could have stayed on in Japan. I still think that a country or a city is less about the place than it is about the people. I have made so many great friends in Hiroshima over the last two weeks and it is devastating to bid goodbye to all of them. Tears were shed, alcohol was consumed, smiles were cracked and hugs were extended to everyone in the span of two weeks and it is remarkable how despite our diverse backgrounds we have gelled so well together. This reminds me of how nationalities can never define people thoroughly. Nationalities, territories, language are but arbitrary boundaries that seek to position us in categories that serve the modern nation state; but beyond that I still stick to my belief that we are all citizens of the world and there is only one race–the human race. I have so much to say, but for the greatest of all experiences words can only do so much justice. Leaving Hiroshima and all the friends whom I’ve made feels the closest to heartbreak and I feel as though I’ve left a part of my heart behind. It IS possible to have your heart in different places and I am counting down to the day that I get back again. Although there is a part of me that is certain things will never be the same (I mean, cmon what’s the likelihood of having EVERYONE back in the same place again?), I think it will be just as amazing to catch up with one another and to see how much we have changed and grown. I made a comment earlier that hopefully by the time we meet again, we may have a better idea of what we will like to do in this world and perhaps, even achieved some of our goals. It is a life changing experience, probably because now I realize that the world is so huge and there’s SO MANY POSSIBILITIES (of course I knew this even before I left for Japan, but somehow experience after experience taught me that one of the most wonderful aspects of living is that the road ahead has so much to offer and there are still so dreams to be chased and goals to be attained. There’s nothing like people who hail from different backgrounds with their own life histories gather together and talk about world issues, issues that relate to the most fundamental aspect of life itself–peace, truth and justice. It is also heartening to meet so many friends who share the same vision and set of values as me and even though I am unsure of what the future holds, I know we will all make our mark in this world one day, no matter how long the journey takes or how many stumbling blocks there are on this yellow road. Till we meet again, these friends will form a chapter of my life, a chapter which I will always look back on, fondly. People don’t really leave when they stay on in your heart, that’s what I believe, and we have photographs to remind us that all these were real, and not merely a figment of the mind’s attempt to escape from reality. For now, More experiences await, and my thesis awaits(SIGH)

冥冥中的那个人,一个之前不可能想到,不可能意识到的人,各自在不同的地方,不同的环境下成长,却能在一个偶然的机会中相遇相识。This summarizes the beauty of Life.

“It’s been a long day without you my friend, and I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again, we’ve come a long way, from where we’ve began, oh I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again”

Till then, May peace, love and joy be yours. 

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Recharge and Renew.

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2014 hk爱里放手才可能伟大。

for life is a balancing act between holding on and letting go. Just know that it hurt because it was real, and that is what matters. Then, move on.

Because I’m a tad lazy to actually blog about what 2014 meant to me–so here’s a photosummary of what the year was; all these photos have been carefully selected to present the people who have meant most to me this year and have played such huge roles in my life that it is difficult to omit them out. 2014 was a year tinged with lots of smiles, tears, happiness and also sadness. However just like how there are two sides to a coin, life is fair in a way that even when the world is coated in darkness, the stars still shine and will provide a trail out. There’s a silver lining to every aspect and the dual face of life and death exists all at once. What I’ve learnt so far is that it is myopic and even dense to look at events/issues as a binary, but rather things unfold in a way that leaves you wondering what goes on in between. In the most destitute and forlorn of times humans are able to find within themselves a beacon of light–more often than not that light is not discovered elsewhere but it emanates within themselves. I still believe in the world and in the human race. I choose to have faith in the human race–we are all such unique individuals with a calling in life–things may be destined, but how we choose to remember or be remembered depends on how we make life out to be.

The last few hours of 2014 has brought to me a greater perspicuity, nudging me out from my earlier despondence. I was reviewing what I had felt throughout the year–or the last few months to be exact and I realized that the last few months had been a real rollercoaster ride and the torrent of emotions that I felt had consumed me to the point that I thought I could no longer be myself and I was always reliant on somebody else for my own happiness, for my own well being and for my ability to feel alive. In fact, I do not disagree that I felt the most alive in the last few months than the rest of my 22 years put together. I will always look back on the last few months of 2014 fondly, with glassy eyes and with a heart filled with gratitude. The friends that I’ve made, the people whom I had dedicated the bulk of my time to will always have a special place in my heart, even if one day life drives us apart–I understand now that sometimes people may have to drift away from one another to reunite again, and that things need not end, but if only they don’t stay the same. As with my previous post, all of us have our own dreams and goals in life to meet and fulfill and life is the most enduring teacher. We all have our own growing up to do. I honestly have no idea what 2015 will bring, but I hope that those whom I care about will continue to stay in my life in their own little ways. Them not caring about or loving you in the way you want them to doesn’t preclude the reality that they do love you in their own quirky ways, as subtle as they may be. Because sometimes, silence means that they’re listening and sometimes, passivity is an act of kindness, a love that is tender and apparent only when you feel it with your heart.

To the new year, I’m ready for all the challenges that you may bring, because I know that what doesn’t break me will only make me stronger. Life doesn’t end just yet and it took two decades to make me understand that I do not just want to survive, but I want to live. Cheers to the new year ahead, and to both the good and the bad. 2014, you’ll always be special, but its time to let you go now, and turn the page so the rest of my story can ensue.

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A philosopher once said that “There is experience and then its decay.” This was in reference to the fickleness of memory and its tendency to shift with time. I just came back from Hong Kong (a family trip) less than 24 hours ago and here I am blogging about this because the memories of the days spent are still fresh and it’s a ludicrous endeavor to want to jot down the entire trip, but I want to make sure that I remember some aspects of it, or at least the aspects and moments that I care about.

It had been ten years since I last went to Hong Kong. Ten years, a decade is an eternity on Earth, at least when you’re once a girl and now the world calls you a lady. Ten years ago I couldn’t understand a single word of Cantonese and had to rely on my mother who was my main interpreter. Yet ten years later, I could understand and communicate with the Hong Kong residents–that was sheer joy. Hong Kong had also developed into an incredibly dense city, pulsating with life and energy. In recent years I’ve also nurtured a more keen eye for details and have a renewed appreciation for the built environment, hence it was also an opportunity for me to study the cobbled streets of Hong Kong, where the old coexisted with the new on opposite ends, where you can straddle the boundaries of a new, startlingly posh shopping mall and the spaces of the tenement housing all at the same time. Perhaps it is in cities where the dual faces of capitalism and commerce rear its glorious and yet ugly head all at once. Learning more about Hong Kong through its language, food and culture, I realized that even though Hong Kong and Singapore are both bustling financial nodes in Asia, and despite sharing common beginnings when it comes to their modern historical epochs, Hong Kong and Singapore are quite different in the sense that Hong Kong still retains abit of her old world charm, a sort of charm that remains confined to the time period of the 1960s. I don’t know whether its got to do with the gaudy neon lights looming over the skies at night, or the buildings which webbed with creaks and crevices and yet remain structurally safe all at once. Has it got to do with the back alleys which contrasted sharply against the hustle of the traffic and humble traditional bakeries and handicrafts shops tucked at every nook and cranny of the urban landscape? All these cast against the backdrop of skyscrapers and gigantic glass blocks dominating one’s sight with every step taken. Falling in love with strangers whom I have never known, whom I never will know but I’m reminded of how big this world is and it makes me warm with hope. The thought of meeting new people and forming new experiences brings butterflies to my tummy because it reminds me of how remarkable life actually is and how much I have yet to see. The comfort I felt in Hong Kong is reminiscent of the comfort offered by a second home and I know I’ll be back again, in the near future.(It’s also the home of Leslie ^^)

One of my all time favorite places in Hong Kong is the Victoria Harbor. I don’t know what’s with me, but I seem to have a predilection for waterfronts and the sea. It is ironic that I am afraid of the deep waters, yet the waterfront at night looks ethereal and smells of romance. Perhaps it was the chilly wind that was playing tricks on my mind, perhaps it was the dazzling skyline that conjured an illusive image in my head, perhaps that scene reminded me too much of another place I had loved–The Bund, Shanghai. But I felt too much at home as I strolled along the Victoria Harbour. It also reminded me of how much Hong Kong had grew and progressed and of the profoundest things in life that Man is actually capable of. We’ve come so far and yet we still have so far to go. We can design buildings that soar into the sky, yet a building does not indicate a direct entrance to heaven, or wherever one should go after we’ve expended our stay on Earth. We send people to the moon, yet we aren’t that sure whether there’s any other planet that is capable of sustaining human life. Man is Man because of our limitations, but Man is successful because Man dares to dream, and dreams are what makes life worth living and possibilities, the risk. Because there will come a day when the pain of not doing anything at all hurts way more than falling down with a scraped knee.

The trip also reminds me of how with a little distance, certain things seem a little clearer. I’ve been thinking alot these days and I’m still trying to make sense of my life over the past year. To be brutally honest, even though I say this every year I am not kidding when I say that 2014 has been the best year yet. I like to be hopeful in that I hope that the best years of my life have yet to be, but a dear friend once told me that he believes in the future and that no matter what we do, it is always best to be forward looking. I think the beauty of life lies in the fact we can never fast forward time, nor can we ever rewind. We just make do with what we have and move on from it. To talk about this from a macro perspective, we’re like passengers on a one way ticket to Somewhere. The only way to get Somewhere is to move on a linear direction, and our dreams and ideals are the twin forces that are propelling us forward. It’s a linear force, a force nourished from the wellsprings of our hopes and desires and we are going to be what we make of ourselves. That is the true beauty of life. I do believe in fate, but I like to think that there is human agency too. Fate decides what will happen to us, but fate doesn’t dictate what we can or cannot do. The later half of 2014 has been an emotionally challenging one, I was embittered and vexed once again about certain issues that didn’t go my way despite my meticulous planning and maneuvering, but I’m also simultaneously glad and grateful for the spate of events that have unfolded since. To put it simply, you win some and you lose some, but the onus is on you to milk it for what its worth. Also, the recent tide of emotions have also taken an unexpected turn, leaving me unsettled and uneasy about what direction to take next, but with the new year around the corner, I think I’ll have to let it go. We may be in our twenties, but we are still so young and we have our own growing up to do.  The world’s round, and who knows perhaps one day we will meet again.

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So I spent a week in Hainan, China.

I must say that it was never planned. I didn’t have Hainan in my plans a few months back, or even a month back. A month ago I was in denial and in such a broken state because I was denied my Shanghai trip and I was being dealt a huge blow when my underlying health issues were finally unearthed by a single bloodtest. What a major twist to the story I had imagined in my head, what a kerfuffle I had to go through. Within a span of a few days it was as though the world I knew had changed and I found myself trundling through life, careening out of control. Words would not suffice to fully explain the blow I had to face and yet right now I can never be better. I don’t feel any better than I already am. Through all of these I learned to question what I had all along assumed in life and I learned to put my trust and faith onto things that I had originally thought to be fleeting. I felt betrayed by some and I felt deserted, yet never in a single span of time did I feel so loved and so cared about. The eternal conflict in me gnawed at my stomach and so many tears flooded the watergates. Things would get better, like they always do. It really wasn’t easy to sit back, pass back the steering wheel to the Big Guy and enjoy the ride. I’m learning, everyday.

Hainan is a beautiful place. I’ve always loved China but I knew I could never fully understand China until I used my heart to feel. Even though there were many places in China I’ve not been, so many areas I’ve not ventured, it was nice to step into Chinese soil and feel China with my eyes, with my heart, with every particle of my existential being. Hainan was where my father’s parents hailed from and even though I’ve always regarded myself more of a Cantonese than a Hainanese, this time I tried to embrace my Hainanese side and boy, it was unfamiliar and yet so pervasively heartwrenching. I grew to love the place. I’ve always been a citygirl at heart, and throwing myself into a rustic village for a few days was enough to send the city sirens in me wailing and screeching into alarm mode. Yet now I know. The orange lights could never do justice to the wondrous beauty that is the night sky.

Electricity elongates man’s waking hours, yet man fails to find time under the artificial lighting to look up and count the stars. 

I’ve never seen so many stars in my entire life and that night, I stood and stared at the night sky till the arc of my neck hurts and my head grew whoozy as I tried to contend the significance and grandiosity of a universe that has lived and will last way beyond my time.

Also, I went to visit my ancestral grounds which was tucked into a silent and quaint corner of the forest. Deeply nestled in the heart of the village, where my grandparents and great grandparents laid. As a History major who specializes in East Asia-Chinese history and a minor in China studies, it is baffling to be right there and going through the rituals and routines that have governed the life of a typical Chinese for decades, years, centuries and even a millennium- ancestral worship. I’ve read about it, learned about it, sat for exams about it and wrote papers about it, yet I never imagined that one day I would be there doing the exact same thing. Even though I cannot say that I had my heart in the entire process, I’m beginning to appreciate the need to venerate them, because its not simply an issue of respecting the dead. It’s an identity issue that will be too much of a trite when I explain it because I have yet to fully comprehend the complexity of that process, but nevertheless, significant and words here will only be too paltry when I have to explicate its symbolism. All I want to say is that my great aunt was in charge of sweeping the tombstones and maintaining it all these years since she was young and she’s now seventy odd. As I watched her, knelt down on the grass and settling so comfortably into that kowtow position despite all the mud and dirt, I thought bits of sand entered my eye and my vision blurred. That feeling was unexplainable and I felt so sorry and so grateful for that split second. It reminded me of my own duty as well. I don’t know if this makes sense because its an emotion that is totally unfamiliar to me.

Being in Hainan acquainted me to Village life as well. Sleeping on hammocks, riding on motorcycles (I now understand why so many wanna try for a bike license because heck, that feeling of having wind kissing your face as you skew on forward is exhilarating and dangerously addictive) , eating fruits freshly plucked from trees, being surrounded by waddling chicks and swans and all the farm animals that you can think of… the simplicity of village life would not do for a city person who is accustomed to the hum of traffic and buzz of seamless conversations, but for a person who had been bungling through life (aka me for the last few months), this was therapy and a salve. Hainan, China saved me, spiritually as well as emotionally. I hated the dire sanitation  and the rude city folks, but I loved the innocence of the village people and I really appreciated their tight knitedness. As more people move into the city in search of better job prospects and better living conditions, the village becomes almost like a taboo, something which people who prided on being modern would never want to associate themselves with. It becomes a symbol of backward China, a form of manacle preventing one from moving forward. Yet I see it as a place of respite, a place to convalesce and learn to live again. I needed that and that was what I got. I read somewhere that God will only have good plans and as abysmal as things seem you must never give up because the next second might just be the moment of hope that you’ve been waiting for. You will never know if you don’t keep marching on. That’s the beauty of it all. We can only move forward.

The city-Haikou and Sanya was beautiful and I can only say so much because it was just your ordinary city. Bustling with life, with neon lights flashing at you till your eyes hurt, the chatter of people and castering of vehicles…what’s new? The only thing that took me aback was the alarming crime rate and how skilled pickpockets in China were. As China progressed economically, many prospered along with it. Yet the harsh reality was that the rich got richer and the poor got poorer. Desperate times calls for desperate measures and crime was the fastest way to get one’s bread and butter. I had a near pickpocket experience too along the skybridge at Haikou (thank God for my native Chinese relatives) yet some others were not so fortunate.

China is a mirror which reflects this man-eat-man world and as disgusted as I am, I cannot help but feel sympathetic for those folks who have been forced to acclimate themselves to such an environment. Being born in Singapore, I have been blessed with a city that is considered sheltered and have never been truly exposed to the ruggedness of the wild. Now I know. As much as China surges, It can only float. It will never be able to find its own place in the sky so long as the majority of its people live from hand to mouth daily, so long as the rich keep exploiting the poor, so long as they cut corners in all aspects of life. Subsistence. It plagued China for as long as five thousand years and it will take serious ratifications for present day China to rise above. Perhaps Zhou Enlai was right. China is unlike America. It will always be burdened by its legacy and its history. If only one day China learns to fully embrace its history and extract the good and practice it again. To make use of history for the better and not otherwise.

I would never have come to such a conclusion if I hadn’t set foot on Hainan. I know better than to regard China as a polarity, and I know better than to assume that what I’ve seen so far is reflective of all other eight macroeconomic regions of this Middle Kingdom, but I am learning still and I have seen what I should have seen and what God wants me to see and I am contented. I can never thank Life and God enough for this. I don’t know what else life holds for me, what my future will be. There will always be a certain part of me asking what could have been, what if I end up as a failure eventually what if what if what if. Then I pause again and think of faith and trust, and the stars above and then I stop. A moment that passes is a moment that will be the past and that will be beyond my control. I cannot change what had happened nor can I alter the future, but right now at this very second I can choose and decide what’s best for me and I know, that as long as I’m breathing, I am capable of anything.

That’s why I chose this title for this post:


It’s only when you walk out of your self imposed sorrows can you open your eyes and heart to a better vista.

With this, I rest my case. Thank you for reading this post and I hope, somehow you’ll be happy too, come what may.

命运还在等待 一定会有美丽安排.

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Its been eons since I last came to this space, but its a good thing it probably means that I am more invested with life now and thus I have lesser time to blog, lesser time to keep my online writer persona alive. Anyway, today was the last day of my finals and I’ve officially weaned off my sophomore self! Before junior year arrives, summer awaits. I’m actually excited about junior year because I cannot wait to meet more people; if there’s one thing I’ve learnt this sophomore year, its that life is always all about people. I used to think that being alive means pursuing your dreams, living it out and etc, but recently I’ve encountered many issues that allowed me to sit back, reflect and understand that you don’t invest in yourself or your experiences-you invest in people, fall in love with them, and leave abit of yourself, whoever you were with them, freezeframed; and with that, you’re always with them, you’re in the air they breathe, in their hearts, in every bit of life you’ll always be with them and all of you will likewise, always be with me. I think its funny, the way things have a way of falling apart so that better things can come. Its a trite, a cliche, but when you let go and let live, Life goes on and more pleasant things await. I know I can’t speak coherently now but my mind’s all jumbled up simply because 2013 has been off on a great start and I feel so infinitely blessed its almost blasphemous to want more.

To be honest, this semester (Jan 2013-May 2013) is arguably the most tiresome and the most trying semester ever. I am so spent that I can safely proclaim that not even senior year can top this semester. I started the year by taking a gamble simply because I refuse to be content with the pack of cards dealt to me and I can now say that its all worth it. These few months have indeed been a rollercoaster ride and at every turn I await with abated breath, wondering what lurks in the corner, albeit lamenting over what could have been if things had worked out otherwise. Then I pulled myself back, shook my head and reminded myself to live in the moment because its the only real thing. Whatever’s gone can only dwell in the pensieve of has beens and whatever awaits will come eventually; yet this moment gone is a moment I’ll never get back. I’m glad I lived in the now for this semester and I will continue to, for the rest of the semesters, and for the rest of my life. I’ve always thought James Dean’s “Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today” was becoming overly commercialized, but when I started to parse and tease out the words, the completeness of the quote dawned upon me, and I felt it is all true. I don’t know how to put this in words, but when you’re living life by accepting whatever bullshit it throws you, taking advantage of the now and just giving all you have, then true fulfillment is but a corollary.

I met many special people this semester and every single one of them have played a role in altering my world paradigm, for the better. Especially J,L,C,S. It’s hard to say goodbye its really hard to, but in a world where life is for the living and everything is but ephemeral and transient, I guess we deal with what we have and go on. We all have our dreams and we all want to fly. Be kind, be nice, be considerate; values we tend to forget when we’re staggering through this prodigious road. I can never thank these people enough and I really love them, I really do. I will only wish the best for all of them because such sentient beings they are, and they’ve gave me alot, unknowingly, unwittingly-because we can only invest in people and they are the only good we have. Believing in humanity is not a necessity, but a calling. No longer harboring dreams of changing the world, because the inside needs work first. Hope is a natal reflex, so never stop dreaming folks. Till then, stranger, know that I love you and I always will.

From my own corner of the earth, never more, never less significant.

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