Thursday, May 11, 2017

给所有的妈

这几年我常在外面溜达,
你从来不问我外面有多好,
你只问我什么时候回家。

妈,世界不应该只有回家。
年龄不应该是限制,
性别不应该有歧视,
体能可以锻炼。
你也应该出去看看天下。
换你来告诉我外面有多疯、有多大。

妈,有一天我可能会找到我的那个TA。
TA不需要有钱、不需要有名,
我希望他有见识、有才华。
我会爱着他,跟他生活很多年,
一起跌倒、一起创天下。

30年后,可能也有人会这样叫我妈,
我不想要整天只关心他什么时候吃饭、什么时候回家。
作为一个女儿,
我有执著、不平横、跟挣扎。
我想我未来的女儿,
她也有她的执著、她的不平横、她的挣扎。
当她在外受伤了倒在我怀里撒娇的时候,
我只想她快乐,
告诉她妈妈永远挺她。

出门在外有时候我会想家,
我想我们家小狗、想我们家花园、想带你逛街、有时候只想摊在家。
但是,妈,生活应该还有朋友、还有学习、还有梦想,
还有创天下。

出门在外有时候我也常会怕。
我也想告诉你我有多怕。
不是要你叫我回家,
而是要告诉你:你女儿有多勇敢、多伟大。

我想告诉你日本有多冷、樱花有多好,富士有多大。
我想告诉你缅甸吃什么,自己旅行我有多伟大。
我想告诉你上海有好、同事多可爱、老板多讨厌、我刚买了部新电话。
我想告诉你渣男多讨厌、我有多生气、我多想打他。

妈,今天母亲节。
好好去吃、好好去玩、好好去庆祝,
我祝你做个快乐自由的妈妈。

我最伟大的妈妈




Saturday, April 29, 2017

I am twentysomethingwen, and I will always be.

Yamanashi - Lake Kawaguchi
Past few years has been an interesting one for me, travels has made a big portion of it, and him.

Many times I am wondering myself: Who am I? What am I? So what? 

My values, and dream? What are they? 

I have been second guessing about myself a lot,  recently. That depresses me and I hated it.

I love life, I love animals, I love seeing new places. I read people, and I am good at it. 

I study and work for insurance, and I am successful professionally. I am intelligent, diligent, determined and hardworking. I need no one to tell me how I can be good, I am just good. 

I take pictures, I can be better and I am working on it. 

I have my values and dream. What's for me, and what's not. I change for no one.  

I have my weaknesses, but that's for me to know, for me to grow. I feel no shame for being bad at certain things. My shortcomings is part of me, we live together.

To all my girls, my friends, my love ones - 

Be around people who appreciates your dream, your values. And for who you are.

Not with people who constantly doubt on your decisions, question your motive, and create anxieties. Life is too short for toxic.

Love the guy for who you are proud of to be with, and let both of you be who you are, independently and successfully. Not controlled, compromised, and manipulated by a process, society norm, government or your parents. Otherwise, drop it and keep looking. 

Know that every one has an unleashed potential only for yourself to discover. And time is limited. Don't cry over spilled milk, don't pause for too long. Be ready to stand up and keep going, keep trying. Chin up, and move!

There is no need to feel defeated over failure and disapproval. You need no one to approve of your decisions. It's your life... your choice. Be responsible to no one, but yourself.

It's a great Saturday morning, I am grateful for every one and everything that makes who I am today.

Those who helped me, stabbed me, trapped me. 

But hey, I only care about right now and tomorrow. 

To be honest, I hate no one. I am running out of time.

I am twentysomethingwen, and I will always be. 

The only difference is, I will only be better, only better. 

twentysomethingwen, forever. 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Thank you, Singapore.



"Box of Air"
 
I came to Singapore with many of my classmates ten years ago to attend university here. The past ten years has been a major part of my growing up as a teenager. I have acquired some very important life skills like using a washing machine, getting used to public transport and be able to survive the costly lifestyles. I know where to go for yummy but cheap food, there are secret spots that I hung out at regularly, and I made great friends here whom I know I can always reach out to for no matter what.
Ten years has passed. I love many things about the country: The safety, the efficiency, the openness, the convenience and the international exposures. Many of my friends who came to Singapore with me have already, if not starting to build permanent bases in the city after a few years; which is a natural decision to make given its location proximity to home and better living conditions the country has to offer.  
Singapore is a great country; my feeling has been a mix about it.
Walking down the financial district always explodes my mind. Construction sites are seen every two blocks away, new malls pop up almost every two days. The city changes every time after I am out of town for a few weeks. Few months ago, a friend called for a meet up at the “Stadium station” and I didn’t even know that such a station existed. I literally had to refer to the subway station map like a tourist to figure out the route. – This feels like you are dating a girlfriend who goes on plastic surgery so much and look like a doll (which is great) but not the girl that you dated before. Upgrades are good; it just lacks the sense of belonging and the feeling like you were part of the past.  You feel home at the places where you know where the secret corners are and the naughty history behind it. Before I could create any naughty history here, the corner has been demolished and rebuilt based on latest contemporary architecture designs. My university campus where I spent most of my time at during my first couple years in Singapore now look like a NASA space station than a place that I remember having fun at in the green open field.
Tremendous progress that the country has made in its development has also effected in shaping some uniquely local characteristics of its people. The “kiasu (afraid to lose)” and “kiasee(afraid to die)” spirits are typical results of this fierce competition that its people are facing be it at work or at school. The primary school syllabus is so hard that it almost makes me feel like a 7-year-old kid is preparing himself to be a college professor. This is so because academic results determines what job you are going to get and how much you will earn - Singapore is unfortunately an expensive and competitive country to survive in given its greatness. Locals compete not only against their own people, but also with top performing foreigners who are everywhere in the country - almost 20% of its population is not from Singapore. This is a lot of pressure.  
The strong desire to be wealthy and “considered” successful has unfortunately forced its people adhere to strict routine and standard “procedure driven” lifestyles. The belief that if they have done all it requires in this “routine”, success is guaranteed without a question – almost like a religion, a national belief. Many have followed a set time frame that governs all aspects of life: when to graduate from university, applying for a job months before graduating, get a promotion, get a significant other, get married, have kids, when to have kids (May or December?), which school to choose from, where to live (based on the location proximity to the best school to stand better chance to get selected), when to retire, how much to save (there are calculators online everywhere to determine that).. etc. Strict conformity to this schedule has been the life goal for many, some unknowingly.
Among the many other reasons I do not feel “belong”’ here– I do feel blessed for all the convenience and benefits even as a foreigner working here. I have been offered even more than what I would have been offered than in my home country. The government realized the importance of foreign talents and globalization way before many other governments do, which is one of the reasons why this country has transformed so quickly in such a short period of time compared to other countries with similar limitation and problems. The openness I experienced in this country is an experience that is uniquely to Singapore – no other countries despite its claim has made me feel more welcomed and respected as a foreigner. Only, Singapore.  I enjoyed Singapore for the fact that I am allowed to speak my mind and be who I am. I might not be accepted according to the societal norm, but I am always free to explore my own fantasy if I were to pursue. I do love Singapore for that.
Long story short, it’s been good ten years with you, Singapore. Thank you!  
Love, Wen
 

Monday, October 17, 2016

缅甸篇:千万不要一个人旅行。

【去.......不去........去.........不去.....】临行前的歇斯底里。

缅甸不是什么著名的旅游胜地,2012年才开放的一个国家 - 短短的5年时间怎么可以跟已经开发成熟的旅游胜地相比?一个人这样去了之后有人会说英文吗?吃方面怎么办?我就一个小姑娘会怎样吗?我什么都还没订好、行程什么的都是free style,我要在那里干嘛?网速那么慢 (那里有网络吗?),我怎么跟外界求救沟通?....etc ....etc 最重要的是,出发前看过的那部老电影Over Rangoon让我整个腰椎冷了半截 ,感觉这个国家随时都有厮杀的情况会出现。

出发前我告诉闺蜜: If I come back alive, we shall celebrate。

我是真的,很。怕。。。什么都。怕。。

* * *

你还记得小时候戒奶瓶、奶嘴的那份勇气吗?跌倒了擦干流血的膝盖继续欢乐像没事一样...暗恋学长结果被拒绝,回家找朋友包两个小时的电话粥第二天继续精彩。小时候那种天不怕地不怕的勇气,那种越战越勇的精神...叙述起来,还真的以为那是另一个人。我似乎都已经忘了,那是曾经的我自己。

今天,很多年过去了,怕的事情越来越多 - 怕失败、怕丢脸、怕高、怕累、怕胖。怕没钱、怕没电、怕没网络。做什么事都畏首畏尾,裹足不前一阵子之后决定原地踏步 -- Play Safe。不知道哪一年学来的一句粗话,从此都小心翼翼的生活,深怕走错一步就完了。怕得有时连面对恐惧的能力都没有了。习惯了安全、依赖安逸,结果总是为小事纠结。成了一个名副其实的城市囚....

说也奇怪,人长大了不应该是越来越勇敢的吗?怎么感觉上不是这么一回事?“这种被自己设的局限囚禁的感觉让我觉得很无力。”出发缅甸之前我这样跟一个好朋友说。于是,不管多怕,我都决定了要面对恐惧,把自己逼到一个死角,唤醒那个沉睡的勇气。

* * *
在缅甸8天,老实说第二天我就给好朋友发了短信说我想退掉之前定好的行程回家了 - 我是怕的,并且越想越怕... 我说,被打败了又怎样?下一次再试就好了,总会成功的。但姐姐现在以过来人的身份告诉你,你永远都不会有下一次。这一次走了,你就是一个认输,你就是一个怕!那你就白来了....

其实说到这里,到底一个人旅行是在怕什么?更多时候,其实都在怕孤独 - 总觉得旅行就是要一群人,要分享,要成群 - 那是社会和脸书给我们的刻板印象,说到底就是一个心魔。一个人也许孤单,但一群人也未必不会。孤独可以怕,但也可以解决。这世上并不是只有跟一群人实体在一起的时候才不会觉得孤单的。网路发达不是用来摆着的,你要能够驾驭视讯,远距离爱情都能开花结果...最后我悟出的就是:心病还是要心药医。你若是有办法自得其乐,那你就happy holidays啦!你若是不能,回程的机票也不是太贵的。

我战胜了solo trip的第一道防线,完全性的被自己的勇气激励着。挨过仰光,继续了我在缅甸接下来的旅程。

* * *
战胜了孤独,我来到帕安。眼前必须挑战的是驾。驭。陌。生。

帕安不是一个热门的景点,该有的基本旅游条件都不是太完善的 - 驱车6小时来到帕安,没人听得懂英文。要打车到旅店,我孤身一人,除非是愿意当凯子多付钱被骗 - 不然就是拖着行李可怜的走10公里的路。我在车上很努力的观察每一个人,试图在某人的脸上看见“会讲英文”这四个字。都说了帕安是一个没人来的地方,旅客好少好少 ...整辆巴士都充满着缅甸人。

终于在人海茫茫看见一个昏睡中的高个儿,鼻子挺的像洋人。于是冲破自己面对陌生的恐惧,坐到他身边问了 “English?”

接下来限制级的内容就跳过不提了......但我只能说因为冲破了这到害怕陌生的防线。我脸书上现在多了一群好朋友 - 还在一个山洞里认识了一个业余的伦敦摄影师,让我看见不一样的摄影风格,突破了我在摄影这件事上的瓶颈。也造就了我在后来蒲甘拍了那堆让自己都重新恋上自己的作品。生活有时候会让人陷入一种死胡同,很郁闷的感觉。就因为认识了新朋友,突然觉得天空都为我放晴了....

生活在城市久了,很多人都在自己的周围驻了一道高墙。面对陌生人都不再放开心怀好好做自己,甚至必须在不同的人、环境、事物的情况下,带着不一样的面具生活着。最后连最初的自己都已经忘记了....只有在这种异地,失去了所有可以依赖的安逸,那瞬间的你自己才会得到真正的释放....重新找回自己的那瞬间,除了感动还是感动,像找回失连的双生姐姐一样....
* * *

每个人都说来到蒲甘,必须看日出。但你知道,要看日出,要起很早.....而且,蒲甘的日出不是那么容易看的...要爬很高。

首先,我很怕高。再来,我很懒。上一次早上抹黑起床是我17岁的时候了....

第一天骑着单车来到一个叫做Bulethi的宝塔。那已经是日落的时间了,只想要看看环境再决定第二天要不要来看明天的日出。带了相机、脚架,兴致勃勃。结果一看那宝塔也太。恐。怖。了吧!差不多两层楼高的宝塔,必须从宝塔外围的石头阶梯上爬上去...总之就是一个危险。阶梯差不多就一个小脚掌那么宽,没有扶手!随时都可能丧命的感觉。我还笨的背着脚架...

结果那天什么都没拍,保命都来不及了还拍!但心里就是一个不爽:我要找到更好的宝塔,算是给自己的跋山涉水做一个交代...

第二天爬的是一个荒山里面的宝塔,但忘了把脚架带出来,结果没把自己心目中想拍的样子拍出来。于是把自己原本应该回家的行程再延迟了一天,下定决心第三天一定要把日出拍好。

结果第三天,终于也在我屡试不爽的毅力下,我拍到了人生中第一个日出.....


呃,我不是说了我怕高?怕懒?怕累?怕什么的?

原来这么专注的、努力的、疯狂的去追求一个愿望,是一件那么自由的一件事。就像我小时候为了考上好中学愿意通宵不睡的毅力,我以为随着年龄跟体力消逝,这种事已经跟我没关系了。体力可以练、毅力可以培养,重点就是你到底多有决心?等值交易,就是你付出多少努力就得到多少快乐。看见别人的好消息,选择妒忌还是自己努力争取。现在的我,选择了后者,成为了更快乐更正面的小妮子。旅行,让你用一个全新的角度去认识新的国家,更重要的其实是认识你自己。一个人旅行让你自由的跟自己对话,去享受那个me time,更了解自己要的是什么,怎样成为更好、更健康的人。

我说,你千万都不要一个人去旅行,因为这件事。会。上。瘾。。。。。

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Pagoda-hopping in Bagan by Electric Bike: Myanmar Photo Blog

"Can I walk from here to the pagodas?" I asked.

"OH NO! (Waving his hand) Too far... Too far... 7 kilometers..." The little boy I bumped into at a motorbike shop said. " E-bike.. E-bike".

I was skeptical... I have never ridden on a motor bike before. I have ridden on the back of motorbikes, but I had never actually been the driver (corrected by my past motorbike drivers who insisted that I have ridden on motorbikes before, just not the driver). The E-bike he pointed to me looks like a "real thing" and I didn't think I could handle by myself. But this is my first day in Old Bagan and I WANTED to see the pagodas so badly. I said to the boy, "Teach me".

This is how an e-bike look like.
To my surprise, I got a hang of handling an electric bike in less than 10 minutes of training. It felt like riding a heavier bicycle without having to pedal it. It ran at 20-30 km/hr. Nice and slow. I paid 6,000 kyats for rental and headed right to the direction where I got myself started with my pagoda-hopping adventure!

It was rainy the past two days so the path was a little muddy.
But, who cares! 
Puddles? Not a problem! 
Put on your sandals and deal with the mud!
Don't wear white, though.
Isn't this lovely?
Pagodas were EVERYWHERE!!  Left, right, back, front!!!
A 6.8 magnitude earthquake hit Myanmar in August and some pagodas got hit on the top - so, some re-construction works is currently happening. Mostly on the top.



Some bigger pagodas which cars/tourist coaches could reach.
Having enough seen of the outside of the pagodas - which honestly looked pretty similar from pagoda to pagoda except for the size and accessibility. The following are a bunch of pictures showing the inside of the pagodas that I have stopped by and visited - In a nutshell, every pagoda, big or small, has a buddha statue in it. For some (bigger) pagodas, there is a pagoda caretaker sitting in the pagoda helping you out with getting your lower body covered with longyi if you are wearing shorts or making sure you remove your shoes before entering. No shoes or shorts is allowed in these pagoda temples. 

These pagoda caretakers were also doing a little bit of business selling their sand paintings. Just be nice and patient when you are repeatedly being shown the same sand paintings again and again. They are really low income earners trying to make a little bit more to live comfortably - they barely made USD100 a month for living - They are okay people and helped me out with directions even I did not end up buying anything.

Giant buddha statue with a little construction works happening at the side.

Golden buddha.
Caretaker and buddha statue.
Standing buddha statue and a police man who showed me the best pagoda to go for sunrise.
A hidden one.
Some other pagodas with slightly unique designs:
Shwe Zi Gon pagoda - just 600 meters away from where I lived.
Bu Paya temple right by the Ayerwaddy river.
And also the candid moments with beautiful Burmese people:
I later found out that she was actually hiding to speak on the phone. She works by the river.
Monk making prayer.
Construction workers and policeman.
Burmese ladies selling snacks. Good balancing skill, hur?
Grandma making prayer.




The sole reason why I decided to go to Myanmar was because I have always wanted to visit Bagan in person - where some 2000 pagodas stood mightily for hundreds of years from the early civilization. Even though I still don't understand why the king has to build so many pagodas/temples and many pagodas were just a few centimeters away. Would it be possible that there might be a secret message hidden behind the locations of these pagodas? Maybe I would find out the message when I got to the top...

This morning, I self-forced to wake up at 4.30am for the worldly Bagan sunrise - Shwe San Daw pagado it is I was heading to - which was about 10 minutes bike ride from where I lived. It was cold riding in the morning and I was hungry. With me, I had my camera, bags and tripod. The thought of giving up and sleep in was fighting on my mind against the urge to see the sunrise ten times on my way to the pagoda. The road was empty and I kinda doubted on my decision to wake up this early. Until I arrived at the spot, and little did I know that the reward was well worth anything it took to bring me there in Bagan.




Thank you Bagan for your greatness. I appreciate that I got to see this phenomenal sunrise in person during my lifetime. I doubt everyone has the luxury to travel like me or to be blessed with the courage to explore an exotic plain by myself just all out of spontaneity. And just because I am alone, I get to experience this timeless gem of Asia from a completely different perspective. Thank you again, Bagan, for being charming Bagan - I am not sure if this is the message that THE ONE who built these pagodas was trying to convey to his future generations, but I learn today, to appreciate nature, to give back to nature, to be nice to people, to be genuine and work hard to be rewarded. 

Thank you Bagan... till next time!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

跟别人不一样,又怎样?

从小到大成绩一向优秀的我到了高一那年顺其自然的就上了理科第一班,那年只是16岁只觉得什么事都跟着同班的朋友一起做就不会有错: 该读书的时候读书、该睡觉的时候睡觉。当时社会给我们这群孩子的压力就是:成绩好的人读理科,出路广。一直到我16岁,我都是一个很顺从主流的孩子。所以选了理科,是一个很自然地决定。

这,没什么不好的…也没什么好的

上理科第一年,一个很明显的状况就出现了:我对物理、化学、生物,一点兴趣都没有。课本都是英文字,对当时的我而言有一定的难度。我尝试很努力的明白老师在讲什么,但发现每一堂课都像在上外文。我的成绩从90分跌到及格边缘,最后变成不及格 –  有一天我鼓起勇气回家跟妈妈说,我要转商

这个决定引起了小轰动 – 快没把我送到神父那里开解 。但我最后还是坚持转了商 – 一个非常不被祝福的决定,甚至感觉大家有种在看我好戏的感觉。我毕竟比正常的商科生少上一年基础课,高二那年成绩并不理想 – 会计为什么要credit,什么时候debit,balance sheet为什么可以不Balance..我都是到高三统考之前才茅塞顿开的!

高三以非常好的统考成绩,我被新加坡大学录取了,念统计学 Statistics ,因为喜欢数学– 但刚开始在新加坡的日子并不好过,总觉得哪里不对。所以我根本没去上课。到了年终考试去考场,算是第一次见过教授 – 可想而知,成绩应该是很“标清”的。到了大四,大家开始思考人生 – 成绩好的人找工作只是一个选择题。成绩不好的我们,就要考虑是不是要选择一个专业以外的工作,接受比较不好的待遇。

我并不想放弃统计,虽然大学积分不好。在一次机缘巧合的情况下接触了保险和精算 – 于是私底下付了考试费然后考了几门精算文凭,一个在妈妈口中觉得冷门又辛苦的科系。再一次做一个不被祝福的决定 –市面上成绩好的精算毕业生比比皆是,哪有我的份?我不信邪,真的勇闯这家保险公司就递了我的履历。这个被大家都取笑的动作,让我踏进我人生中第一份工作的门槛 – 我必须承认一开始待遇不是那么好,可是我只有23岁,第一次工作,谁知道什么叫做negotiate?总之就是懵懵懂懂的,把自己卖了….

我这个大家眼中成绩次等的大学生,反而因为我的误打误撞,进了当时大家认为至少second upper才进得去的保险公司。为什么?因为我不信邪,我尝试了…

在这家公司一呆,五年了 – 我从local,做到regional,还做了global。我碰到对我好的上司,太多了。我做过的事已经超过精算师能做的。我不断地突破自己,突破别人对我的期望,突破所有人的意料,一次次的创造奇迹。就因为,我从来不局限自己 - 从来不相信我必须去做每个人都做的事。我必须重申,那没什么不好的…但真的没什么好的! 我的工作让我去到世界很多地方,听起来是个人人称羡的工作,但其实我真正享受的是每一次我能够碰见一个新的工作问题,在一起的创造更厉害的履历。

今年七月,我决定take a break。就在人人都认为我事業如日中天的时候…..

又是一个非常不被祝福的决定。但到了今天我已经28了 -我對自己适合什么、喜欢什么、应该做什么,有一定的要求。There is never a good time to quit – 行情好的时候不能quit,行情不好的时候更不能quit,那请问我是要一生一世都在同一个圈子里面打转?五年来我的努力,我的成绩,我算是对得起自己、对得起公司了 – 如果经济负担的来,再加上单身一个人没什么包袱,我觉得这是一个非常适合给自己好好休息的时间。

让一切归零…

这一段休息的时间,如之前几篇部落格所言,我做了一些我一直想做却因为工作没办法好好做的事 – 画画、拍照、锻炼、陪家人、陪自己….很完美的三个月假期。现在身体状况已经恢复,精神状况什么的都已经到达一个巅峰。这个时候的我,只会创造更无限的可能,没别的! (之后请到我的公司,有福了⋯)

这样,不是更好嘛? 为什么一定要随波逐流 - 到底是你过人生,还是人生过你?

没有人有责任负担我的人生,除了我自己 – 我曾经因为做了很多不被祝福、非主流的决定,而受到异样的眼光,甚至是听见非常负面的声音 – 那不是什么很愉悦的感觉,其实很多时候都感觉很孤独。反思了很久,回看我这十年来做过的大小事,疯狂过、做错事过、哭过、跌过…现在的我,对未来充满期待跟幻想,似乎比18岁的时候更18岁了。

讲真的⋯⋯跟别人不一样,又怎样?


Saturday, September 24, 2016

5 things to feel better on a Saturday afternoon

For whoever you are -  a housewife, a technician, a librarian, a barista...a lawyer, a doctor, a politician ...Have you ever feel like a failure? Maybe it's time of the month, maybe I am just feeling lonely, or maybe I am just thinking too much. But I felt like I am a failure, the past two days. I need help, and I need someone to talk to.

I got really down and this afternoon I made a very terrible painting - I doubt on myself, I doubt on my capability, I doubt on the meaning of life. I was just being a complete negative grumpy butt. I thought I was not going to make it through this thunderstorm. For one moment, I was just going to give up a very good opportunity that came by, that many people are dying for.

I hope this article at least help those are feeling shitty out there..



I am sorry that you are feeling shitty right now. I have recovered, somewhat, and ready to take on more and live life to fullest. These are 5 things I did, and I appreciate not only your sweet notes about my blog.. but if you do want to share your stories with me, I am more than happy to listen to them :)
  1. To talk about it, multiple times. I rang a friend who is now living in Adelaide. She's my sweetest ever childhood friend I can rely on telling her everything. We spoke for about an hour, she's the best ever listener/speaker you can ask for. She told me to talk about my problems to many people, and I can take in or ignore any comments out of my problems, the main objective is to talk about the problem, again and again. By repeating the same story again and again, you tend to get less interested about the issue - in a way, you pay less attention to the destructing feelings arising out of the problem. Rather, you feel like it's not a big deal anymore! 
  2. To feel love (again) for the world. Do you still love the world? What have you done to make the world a better place? I went into this deepest self depreciation mode that I just disregard my worth - I think I am worthless - I don't think I can do anything to change the world, neither I think anyone can. But in fact, as a barista, a good cup of coffee may make the day for a customer. A small conversation you made with your friend, may change a decision and save a life. This is HOW MUCH you can make this world a better place to live, as long as you still feel the love for the world.   
  3. To focus on yourself. Will you hang out with someone who is just like you? I said No to myself when I was a grumpy butt. But a big YES when I am confident and upbeat. I almost feel like I would date myself when I feel good, sometimes. Be the person you would date. Look gorgeous, put on colorful clothing, learn a new skill, make a new friend, brag about your achievement, go run in the park.. I mean, anything that can only bring plus points to make you an improved person. For yourself, not others. Shut the door and talk to yourself, what is it that you want to see yourself in the near future and do whatever it takes to be that person. RIGHT NOW.   
  4. To dream a dream. Many people don't have a dream. It's really good to invest in one. For me, I would like to travel 100 countries before I die and I have done 20% now. It's really important to re-look into my results and make a progress. The number countries I have visited has been stagnant for a while now and certainly I would like to make a plan to get it working again. Just when I was feeling shitty, I forgot I have a dream that I can look forward to.    
  5. To blog about it. Few days back on my friend's Facebook, he said that he missed having a blog and read about friends' blogs after school. During the MSN era, blogging was a big thing in our neighborhood. But sadly today, people are more inclined towards "piece meal" posts on Facebook/Instagram/Reddit, just a line or two. The reason why I blog because I would like others to rethink about the way they live - through my travels, through my words, through my pictures. You might be reading in private - and that's okay - I am happy that you read my blog. I have received so many private message asking questions and I love them. I don't make money out of my blog, and it is not easy at all to make blogs.. But this is the least I can do, to share and to love people.  
There is no reason to hate yourself or think you're no good. Whatever the reason it is I am feeling shitty, what's more important is how I recognized that I am feeling shitty, and that I seek help and how I helped myself out of it and feel confident again. I am not here telling you that you NEED to do these 4 things to feel better - simply, I am just suggesting that I did these to feel good.  Happy Saturday! 



Thursday, September 22, 2016

My secret discovery on the Palawan island - Marimegmeg Beach,Philippines


Where is Marimegmeg?
The island of Palawan in the Philippines is famous for its stunning beaches. Marimegmeg beach is one of those that is less known to the outside world compared to the others (Bora Bora, Boracay..), my discovery for this hidden gem was a pure accident - only to find out later that I am simply mesmerized by its unquestionable beauty and decided to make it home for a month. This is the most charming little heaven I have ever seen, almost unreal.

This evening, Scott and I decided to venture out from the Caalan island for our daily jog. We were simply bored and aimless about our destination.  We walked to the Corong Corong beach where we normally would stop and grab a bite but this time decided to venture deeper into the unknown. The next moment when we saw a group of Filipinos, cheering and singing by the beach, we noticed that we have arrived at a new territory.

Marimegmeg is very much a local beach, you barely find any resorts or proper set ups for visitors - that say, do not expect water sports or any sort of restaurants on the beach if that's what you are after - We loved Marimegmeg so much that evening that we went back to Corong Corong quickly, picked up a few beers and sandwiches and head back to Marimegmeg to spend that night. We did not leave the beach until 4am the next morning, obviously drunk but totally excited to share with the other people on our team about our new discovery on the Palawan.

The next day morning, I decided to head back to Marimegmeg on my own to see the little beach during the day. And these are two of the thousand photos I snapped of my little secret beach - Marimegmeg. You can see Paradise island from Marimegmeg if that shed some clue on where this beach is located...

Turquoise blue water and white powdery sand
Clear water - almost like zero pollution has happened
Candy man on the beach :)
I was initially contemplating about sharing this blog because I kind of want to make it MY secret little beach – There is no standard boat tours major agencies or hotels would offer to come here today because this is just an empty beach that those tours were not able to collect any commission from any vendors. So unfortunately the only way to get here is to walk, or ride a motorcycle/tricycle..  However, due to its location proximity to the famous Corong Corong beach,  Marimegmeg is going to get discovered by more people soon. There is local rumor that has been running around for a while about a potential business project to build big hotels on the beach.. So I share this blog because I want you to come find this place quickly, enjoy the pristine beauty of this tropical wonder and not spend a fortune on it!

And something not to be missed is definitely the sunset...I then came here every evening either with my picnic basket or beer bucket just for the sunset. We made Marimegmeg our party home and star gazing through the wee hours, nightly. I almost feel like I am blanketed by the diamond sky sleeping like a baby on the beach - listening to the sound of the ocean pushing towards the sand and make a very comfortable lullaby. 


But one thing I do caution every visitors before you set your foot on the quest in search for the Marimegmeg - There are plenty of sandflies on the beach under the trees, so bringing along of bugs spray is wise. I got bitten by sandflies pretty badly and later had to travel quite a distance out to town to get a doctor because I (apparently) have got pretty bad allergy reaction to sandfly bites. So, just be careful!  

The local kids greeting rare visitors just right outside Marimegmeg
Marimegmeg became where I lounged most of the time during my stay in the Philippines - Water is warm and translucent - I came here for swimming, to watch the sunset, to run my daily 5KM, practise yoga, to have a picnic, to paint... If I could build a little hut on the beach and live there, I would. For adventure seekers who are already bored of standard travel packages and ready to hit the off beaten path, I highly recommend Marimegmeg. As much as we all hope to reserve this beautiful little natural gem, let's all travel responsibly by making sure that we don't leave any garbage behind on the beach :)

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Airbnb and Montenegro

I became a member of Airbnb since December 2013 and did not use their service until my trip to Boston a year later. I was skeptical about staying with strangers back then - But, Boston hotels were expensive and I needed a private room to myself. I had a tight budget and I chanced upon a friend who told me about using Airbnb as a budget alternative to hotels and she also told me about the company's robust host verification process to ensure safety of their customers. So there I downloaded the Airbnb app on my phone and made my first booking. Since then, I have used Airbnb for my trips to Taiwan, Barcelona, Sri Lanka, Montenegro, Slovenia and still using it today!

I am really impressed by Airbnb's booking through payment process - All you need to do is to enter your destination, stay dates and number of guests. Then you will be spoil with a WIDE RANGE of options to select from. Depending on your specific needs, you can also filter your options by prices, locations, privacy, amenities..etc. You can make a booking for a night, a week or month/months... Payment is made electronically. You can message the host if you have more questions. So everything is ONLINE, and all you need to do is to click a few buttons! Isn't internet amazing?

NOTE: I am not making any profit writing this, even though I wish I could. Many people have asked how I kept my travel costs low and using Airbnb is one of the reasons. I used a lot of Hostelbookers and Booking.com in the past. But I really like Airbnb very much because of my pleasant experience so far. There is a small processing fee in place but I can live with that.  For first timers, you might want to read this before making your first booking! Good luck and enjoy your travels~~~

Making our booking, instantly

Julian and I arrived in Kotor Bay, Montenegro by bus from Dubrovnik – A day before heading out of Dubrovnik, we tried looking for a room in Kotor Bay on Airbnb app (yes, we only make plans the day before, super last minute). We came across Ranko’s place out in Tivat which looked like it was close to Kotor on the map. We also confirmed that there was a kitchen at her place that we could make our own food. So there we completed our booking within 20 minutes including verification and making a payment, totally hassle free! And yes, having a kitchen is a big part when Julian and I choose our travel accommodation and you will know why later! 


Our kind host in Montenegro - Ranko

Our host Ranko picked us up from the bus station at Tivat FREE OF CHARGE – We communicated through the chatting function on Airbnb app the whole morning, she guided me thoroughly to make sure I boarded the right bus and arrived safely -  She and her cousin also helped us with our luggage and also got us to the supermarket for grocery shopping. Within a few minutes of drive, we arrived at Ranko’s place and we were all set to explore a new city. WE LOVED Montenegro….

Unfortunately on the next day, I felt sick because I caught a cold from the rain in Barcelona few days back. So, I seek help again from our host Ranko to find a doctor close by. Ranko was super attentive and drove me to the nearby clinic and helped with translation and spoke to the nurses. I saw a doctor and soon recovered in two days. So you see how I met great people using Airbnb service whom I once called them stranger and was skeptical about staying with them! And special thanks to Julian who took care of me the entire time at Tivat. 

Wen’s little words: All these kind gestures that I almost thought they do not exist anymore have made the entire stay in Montenegro a pleasant one. Ranko did not ask for a tip for her extra service, she could have booked a taxi for me to the clinic instead of driving me there. She was not obliged at all to do this for me other than renting the room to me. This was all out of her kindness and I felt loved, genuinely, as human being.  

Our next nice little apartment in Montenegro

As I recovered, Julian and I decided to stay closer to the bay in Kotor so we booked another apartment right outside the fortress. That’s the beauty of not making pre-planned hotel bookings for your entire trip because you get to be very flexible with making changes along the trip! This time, our little apartment has got EVERYTHING you need to live like a real local person. Our apartment has a little kitchen that has all the utensils ready to make basic dinner, a proper bedroom, a little living room with a TV, fantastic bathroom with WASHING MACHINE (Oh my god, we can do our laundry for free!) - all to yourself! The host and his family live by the unit downstairs. We also have a little balcony where we could enjoy the view of the fortress and some old deserted factories – We were absolutely happy with our apartment… the location, the amenities, the booking process, the price.. just everything! We truly felt like we were home staying at the apartment.

The little kitchen and a bar top table at our Kotor apartment.
This is why we like having a kitchen....Wen's signature spaghetti feast. 
Our little living room. Huge, eh?
We hiked the fortress the next day and recommend anyone who is visiting Kotor to do the same! We also made our way to the Lady of the Rocks and swam a little bit in water. We also took the Blue Line (bus company) and go around the coastline by Kotor Bay - Montenegro just felt very peaceful, slow paced, quiet and relatively undiscovered in general. I definitely love the friendly people Have I said this before? We LOVED Montenegro…. 

Last but not least, lovely pictures and VIDEO brought to you from Montenegro, Kotor Bay.....

Tvrđave Kotora - Kotor Fortress and the view...OMG

Rocky stairs up the Kotor fortress of height about 1.2km. Woof.. 

Almost the top.. and other people.

The stunning view

Another stunning view - it's okay to be jealous.
Me enjoying the bird-eye view of Kotor Bay

Perast coast
The Roman Catholic Church of the Lady of the Rocks

Looking back from the boat on our way heading to the Lady of the Rock - the Perast coastline.