Reunions

Reunions, there is nothing else quite like them.

There is nothing else quite like the familial love communicated through the long awaited hug between a mother and a child after the child’s semester-long absence studying abroad. Or the long winded conversations between two high school friends, reminiscent of their years past, in the car ride from the airport to the hosting friend’s childhood home.

2017 left its antecedent in the dust at the sign of the green flag when my best friend from boarding school flew in from Australia to visit me in my hometown. We hadn’t seen each other for over four years but, predictably, did not miss a single beat.

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Of course, a trip to SEA would not be complete without a visit to Kuala Lumpur – a city infamously known for its nightlife. By the end of the trip, we had dubbed it “The Party City.” In the short three days that we were in Kuala Lumpur, we drank absorbent amounts of deadly cocktails, walked danced over 30,000 steps, ate half the inventory at a Nasi Kandar restaurant and laughed – a lot.

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The memories we share with others is like our health – we neglect to appreciate it until Time, inevitably, snatches it away from us. Humans are so naturally consumed by the problems in our own worlds that we become distracted and forget the beauty that exist in the relationships we share with each other on a daily basis.

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I hope this post encourages you to remain present. We all have a past – difficulties that engulf our capacity for present day happiness and/or perfectionistic concerns for a successful future. Yes, controllable factors like hard work and perseverance can be fostered in our present day, yes, blinders can lead you to your goal. But remember the people on the sidelines, too. Your supporters who, throughout your journey, questioned your impulsive motives hoping to steer you in the right direction, motivated you to strive for the greatness they believe you deserve, those who were the hardest on you and the same ones who celebrate your every victory, tenfold. Keep your blinders on and you neglect the undeniable love that encapsulates you everyday. Keep your blinders on and the beauty of your present remains in the unseen outskirts of your peripheral vision.

There will be nothing quite like the drunken (and sober) nights I shared with all of you. The nights filled with tear inducing laughter, an overload of hip-hop remixes, dangerous amounts of tequila and memories to last until the next reunion.

Clubs to visit when in KL:

  • S I X @ Bangsar
  • Savage @ Bangsar
  • The Rabbit Hole @ Changkat
  • Havana Bar & Grill @Changkat

 

Thank you for all the beautiful reunions.

You know who you all are x

Roles Reversed (an online article for Off The Cuff)

The 21st century is a beautiful time filled with the promise of change for the future and the effects of changes from the past. But while society has experienced a great deal of change throughout the ages, the presence of stereotypes and racism still pertain to our society today.

Lynching

In May 2015, photographer Tyler Shields released controversial photos portraying reenactments of racism in history with an ironic twist. The photos are symbolic of the physical abuse suffered by African-American in the 20s and 30s through lynching and police brutality, the latter of which still exists today. In the photo above, a member of the Ku Klux Klan is showcased hanging lifelessly from a rope pulled from the other end by a black man. While the image of reversed roles is ironic enough, reporter Justin Jones adds to this irony but rightfully questioning, “Is he [the black man] the culprit or the saviour? We do not know.” Regardless, every aspect of the photograph brings to light the stark contrast of black and white – everything from the photo’s coloring to its potent message. I remember seeing this image for the first time and being stunned. Behind Shields’ poignant photography lies eye-opening messages and questions posed to our society, today. How different would society be had the roles of race been reversed? How much have we truly changed?

 

Police Brutality

Recording artists like Kanye West and Jay Z have also been known to showcase racial struggles endured by African-Americans throughout the ages of slavery through music in popular culture. The artists’ respective songs, Blood on the Leave and Oceans, speak directly to this history and succeed in conveying a degree of accuracy in historical racism in the US. It is through art that West, Jay Z and Shields have communicated the important of racial equality to our present day society. It is especially so with the recent controversial deaths of Walter Scott and Michael Brown that the education of racial equality becomes so much more pertinent today. Sometimes, it is not so much so the presence of ‘racism’ that prevails in society, but an undercurrent of ignorance. As Carmen Zheng, a BU student puts it, “People tend to generalize and stereotype minorities into racial categories. They feel a tendency, or need, to clump up individuals into groups and appear surprised when I do not fit into the mould of the stereotype that they have generalized me to be. It’s frustrating.”

“Right now we are going through a real racial issue in our country,” Tyler Shields stated in an interview for The Daily Beast. “And, to me, these things that happened in the 20s and 30s, they’re just as poignant today as they were back then.” [1]

* all images by Tyler Shields from his Historical Fiction portfolio (link to http://www.tylershields.com/ ) 

[1] http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/05/13/a-black-man-hangs-a-white-supremacist-tyler-shields-s-charged-photography.html

Fish SOLD

I expected a lot more yelling at an auction, then again I had never been to an auction before, so I suppose my expectations were solely based on movie stereotypes.

I had never been to an auction before, let alone a fish auction.

 It’s funny how you learn secrets to the tricks of the trade when you started getting into the business of a particular trade. When the doors to our café opened, we started learning a lot of tricks of the café trade – namely attending fish auctions to get the freshest seafood at the lowest cost. This was my first time attending a fish market auction. I know what you’re thinking, “A fish auction? What even is that?” Yeah, I know, it sounds wild. Thankfully, it wasn’t all that wild at all – just a little fishy.

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The road trip it took to get there was much longer than the 15 minutes I was assured when my mom talked me into attending the auction the night before. I had no idea what to expect – chaos most likely, a lot of yelling and hollering. I had mentally prepared myself the night before to either, be slapped by a slimy fish or step into a puddle of fishy water (thankfully neither happened). We eventually arrived at our destination as I voiced my intimidation of the anticipated yelling to which my dad responded, “they don’t yell. They whisper.” The man wasn’t joking.

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We walked up to the circle of auctioneers, spectators, loiterers and fishermen just as 15 kilograms’ worth of large shrimp were dumped on the ground. There it was, the heap of gold we drove 35 minutes into a rural fishing village for. The crowd started murmuring and I could begin to distinguish the ‘regular’ auctioneers from the ordinary crowd. The lanky fisherman was tugged at the arm by a man and a deal was whispered in his ear. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was as if stepping on the auction grounds instantaneously came with the adoption of a new culture – a culture I had never witnessed before. Watching the scene unfold was entertaining and intimidating and marvellous, all at the same time.

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I guess the slight intimidation was mutually felt by my mom too, but mixed in with exuberance, she looked over to my dad for confirmation of the shrimps’ high quality and freshness and dove into the crowd. She was headed straight for the fisherman. She quickly named her price and a second passed while he considered the offer. He nodded and my mom flashed a cheeky, triumphant grin. Cash was traded and Dad carted off our winnings. It all happened so fast. I watched from the sidelines, for the next 30 minutes, as their confidence grew alongside our bucket of fresh seafood. Most of the seafood was carted off to the café’s kitchen, but I managed to snag a crab and a handful of shrimp for myself. Oh, happy days!

Taking a Leap

Oh, the Leap of Faith! So highly spoken of, yet so rarely achieved. The intimidation of challenging oneself can so easily overpower one’s hunger for greatness – or at least, something ‘more’. It doesn’t even have to be a daredevil stunt or something life changing; something as simple as facing your fear of heights by rock climbing would suffice. For me, it was finally gathering enough courage to create and showcase my fashion designs on a runway.

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Towards the beginning of the first semester, I decided I wanted to get more involved in school activities. I attended several orientation club meetings – one of them being a meeting about the university’s biannual fashion show. I dragged my friend Agnes along thinking the meeting was about planning, designing and organizing the fashion show (a.k.a. behind the scenes stuff). To my surprise, the meeting was actually targeted at students interested in designing for the fashion show. I found out midway through the meeting and zoned out for the rest of the meeting. When the meeting ended and I was getting ready to leave, Agnes looked over at me and said, “let’s do it!” For the second time that day, I was shocked. Agnes had never sewn anything in her life, not even a button.

Dumbfounded I naturally asked her if she was serious. She responded with an enthusiastic series of nods and asked “why not?” I clearly had nothing left to do in the situation but comply with her enthusiasm. We put down our names on a spreadsheet titled “Designers” and left the room buzzed with newfound excitement and little knowledge of the commitment we just consigned ourselves to.

The semester came and went and before we knew it, it was Thanksgiving weekend. Ask any college student and they’ll tell you that your academic position is virtually decided pre-Thanksgiving – after that, redemption on pre-Thanksgiving procrastinated work is hard to achieve. That weekend, we discovered the club’s sewing machine we had loaned out with damaged. After much frustration, Agnes and I decided it wasn’t worth dragging out the procrastination. Instead, we committed to the torture (and secret reward) of hand-sewing our garments. Talk about commitment, huh?

Agnes and I slaved away, days on end, running on sleep deprivation and a significant amount of adrenaline. 4am bed times and 12am model fittings became our lives for a straight week prior to the fashion show. But we pushed through the hardship and needle pricks because we knew, with every blistering stitch, that we were creating something we would be proud to showcase come December 2nd, 2015.

And how right we were.
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The night rolled around and with a lot of boob tape, repeated last minute fittings, and stressful sweating, our garments went down the runway just as we had envisioned. We were proud of ourselves and our models, to say the least. Even thinking back on the moment to this day gives me chills. It was surreal seeing our first piece go down the runway – the very first dress I had designed sitting in bed at boarding school one morning in 2013. But like a dance recital, the four-minute duration of the show was all we had to show for ourselves. The hours and hours of stitching and stencilling happened behind the scenes, efforts hidden and disguised between the semi-opaque chiffon and jersey fabrics. Or was it? All we hoped for when we began our creative process was for appreciation of the final product, and we truly hope we achieved this. We know we did for ourselves at least. In fact, we felt so rewarded that we already have potential designs for the next fashion show. Let’s see what 2016 has to bring.

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Change

A bend in the road, a falling of leaves, the change of scenery. Some dread the evolution that change brings while others thrive on new experiences. Change is something we all have to endure at some point or another.

It’s simply inevitable.

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I often reflect on theories I studied in Psychology for scientific reasoning and evidence as to why certain things happen the way they do. As much as I despise Physics, I must admit, Science is often the only way to objectively visualize life. Being someone who always needs an answer to “why things are the way they are”, it’s also nice to have some sort of ‘logical’ explanation for inexplainable things that often cause me distress. It’s nice to (think I) have the answers for everything.

But what if the answer doesn’t exist? Sure, emotional states and stress can be ‘scientifically’ and ‘logically’ reasoned for, but does it really answer why things happened the way they did?

Change is stressful, regardless of the ‘change’ endured. One second your life is one way, but all of a sudden it isn’t. It is different. Foreign. New. Scary. Yet, exciting at the same time. My father once told me he didn’t believe in ‘stress’. “There is no such thing as ‘stress’, because once you admit to yourself that something is ‘stressful’, you give up. Nothing is stressful. It’s just a motivator for you to be better than you were before.” It’s a beautiful mantra easily forgotten in the face of adversity.

Over the course of seven weeks I have moved across the globe, started a new life, immersed myself in culture, met incredible (and not so incredible) people, been beat down by the hazing of a fraternity, survived on a lack of sleep, been severely homesick, endured an uninvited loneliness, persisted through midterms, joined clubs, explored my passions, loved, hated and learned a lot about myself. Yes, change brings the inevitability of stress and anxiety, but it pushes you to explore something new. So try to embrace it, and remember, Science can’t explain everything, so why not just leave some things up to Fate?

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The ORIGINAL Pancake Kitchen

Summer of 2010 was the first time I had stepped foot into the Pancake Kitchen. It’s crazy to think that almost five years have past and it is still a memory that I hold close to my heart.

My father moved to Melbourne as a seventeen-year-old, in search of independence and his own sense of self – like father, like daughter – a year later, he moved to Adelaide where he resided for the next three years of his adult life. Being a reserved man, my father never talked much about his life in Australia, or maybe there just wasn’t much to talk about. But as my family and I sat around a small table in a corner of The Pancake Kitchen, worn furniture and antique mirrors featuring caricatured images surrounding us, he told the story of the many times he had frequented The Pancake Kitchen as an eighteen-year-old boy. Having worked part-time as a waiter and ‘dish washer’ in a restaurant in Chinatown while studying, that young eighteen-year-old boy didn’t have much for lavish meals and only ever ordered a Short Stack with maple syrup.

‘That was all I could afford.’

This time we ordered the Canadian Feast, Russian Blintz, and a Marshmallow Cocoa – a feast fit for a king.

I love telling people that story, most of all I love visiting The Kitchen to relive that memory. This year, I visited The Pancake Kitchen three times during my short six day stay in Adelaide. The first visit was called for the Canadian Feast as a savoury (and unfailing) introduction to the Pancake Kitchen for my compadre and the ‘IT’ – a combination of the Jamaican Banana and Hot Buttered Walnuts – for myself because I was ‘having trouble making up my mind’ and decided to give into the menu’s convictions. The second visit to The Kitchen called for their newly added special: Red Velvet. And finally the third and final hoorah called for Virginian Pancakes, one cheesy grilled pancake and one ham grilled pancake. Yes, the ham pieces were mixed inside the pancake! Yum.

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Never failing to impress or serve as a venue for a memorable meal, The Pancake Kitchen will always hold a place in my pancake-lovin’ heart. Did I mention they make the fluffiest pancakes in the world? Visit them.

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The Pancake Kitchen is open 24 hours every day at 13 Gilbert Pl, Adelaide SA 5000

RADelaide

‘I’ve got big dreams in a small city’ – Mac Miller

I hate change and I dread the anxiety that accompanies moving to a different country. I am a creature of habitat, but I think I’ve always had an inhibition to travel and explore. Or maybe it’s my denial of how having found The Place where I can feel like I belong.

My home, my culture and my ancestry don’t always coincide. It takes a while to explain to people, but those who know me know what I mean. Although wandering through life with a mixture of foreign exposures and an abundance of memories from travels around the globe may sound exotic and fulfilling, not being able to place your traditional and spiritual identity can sometimes make you feel very lost.

In a similar sense, I felt my views were outcasted and it felt difficult to relate to many when I lived in Adelaide. This was mostly due to the fact that I was always trying to get out while most had ambitions to stay. In a way, I appreciate the Adelaidians’ unquestionable love for their hometown, it’s very commendable. But despite the love I have for my own little hometown, I still long to explore. Seven months ago, I left Adelaide (covertly happy), not knowing when I would return. On June 27th, 2015 I said my second goodbye to Adelaide – this time (not so happy) reminiscing of the past few days when I was lucky enough to visit my friends, once again not knowing when I would return.

This time I was a tourist – a knowledgeable visitor with first hand knowledge of the city’s hidden gems. After three years, I learnt that T-Chow is still the best dim-sum restaurant in town, that an old favorite, authentic Malaysian restaurant, Nan Yang, still makes the best Hainan Chicken Rice in the world, and that the original Pancake Kitchen in a small alley on Hindley Street will always be home to the most fluffy buttermilk pancakes – ever.

I realized I had rediscovered my love for the city while strolling down Gouger Street one day, after indulging on St. Louis’ fine ice creams, eagerly pointing out the spots I used to frequent to my boyfriend. I narrated stories about the wonders of the Central Market and Adelaide’s Popup Bookstore to his patiently listening ear. And that was when I realized, there no way one could possibly resent a city that housed so many of their happy memories.

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It’s great to travel and explore and seek out your ‘big dreams’, but sometimes it’s also nice to return to the small city you once called home.

Happy UnBirthday

I remember by seventh birthday vividly – it was incredible. My mom had meticulously planned every last detail, making sure to invite all my close friends, their parents and even some of my favourite teachers from school. There was a treehouse, an archery barn, games, presents, a decadently iced Disney Princess cake (featuring no less than my favourite, of course, Belle) and lots of food. Even the timing of the party had been perfectly in tune with the arrival of my cousin who had been studying in Vancouver at the time. I remember the humidity being perfect enough to where the physical games had me glistening under the summer sun, and dense enough to where it was comfortably inviting. It was a perfect day. I remember a few other scattered birthday parties from my childhood and some additional ones as a teenager with a cookies and cream Häagen-Dazs ice cream cake to share with the company of my parents. Regardless of how many or few people I was surrounded by on my birthday, I always knew I would be alright if I was with my mom. That is, after all, what a ‘Birth Day’ signifies – the day when you were first united with the incredible woman who carried you for nine months.

But when you are away from your family, under the pressures of school and surrounded by foreign-ness, the significance of the day seems to diminish. I remember crumbling on my birthday last year. Although I still can’t identify what specifically caused the breakdown, it’s now dismiss it as the combination of all things above. So, I was determined to make the most of it this year – starting was a birthday celebration more than a month pre actual birthday date!
It was a cold, post-drizzley night in Sydney when I gathered my friends and boyfriend, who had just arrived in the city early that day, to huddle up and get warm the best possible way: eating Sydney’s most authentic Neapolitan pizza. Lucio Pizzaria sits on the corner of a mini restaurant strip in the middle of what seemed like the metropolitan suburbia of Darlinghurst. With no sign or obvious advertising, the taxi driver had difficulty finding the joint and I was forced to rely on my memory for the visuals of the restaurant. When everyone had arrived and we were seated under the warmth of the patio heaters, I felt utterly content. It was the first time my Sydney friends were meeting my boyfriend and so far, are seemed to be going well. The rest of dinner was filled with get-to-know-each-other chatter and laughter mingled with pizza chomping.

What we ordered:

  • Lucio – half margherita, half calzone with ricotta, mozzarella and ham
  • Margherita – tomato, mozzarella and basil
  • 4 Formaggi – mozzarella, fontina, gorgonzola and swiss cheese

UnBirthday

I guess sometimes you just need to take control of situations for yourself and make the most of any given moment. And sometimes it’s nice to have an excuse to eat a pizza and a couple slices of gelato cake with a group of really great people.

Thank you, guys, for a memorable night x

What’s In My Travel Bag

It’s that time of year again – the one where high school students and uni kids, alike, roll out of bed knowing full well they have no academic obligations to tend to. Yes, kids, ‘it’s summer time’ now rightfully applies when someone asks you ‘what time is it?’ Despite having lived in Australia for four years, I still have a natural tendency to refer to the June-July months as summer and the November-December months as winter. And yes, this has caused slight confusion during conversations over the past four years. Summer or winter, regardless, semester-break is ensuing, planes are filling, and plans for ‘productivity’ are developing. With all that being said, I thought it would be perfect timing to evaluate the contents of my travel/carry-on (hand)bag.

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As we had established in my previous ‘What’s In My Bag’, I’m not the best at packing light. But make no mistake, overpacking does not/no longer applies to my travel baggages. Having travelled from a young age, I have had one too many unpleasant ‘misunderstandings’ at airport ticket counters where my baggage has been overweight. Whether at the fault of my own or at the fault of the airline’s computer system – I have experienced both, and can successfully conclude that no one is better than the other – I have begun to develop a fear of overpacking my luggages. On the similar wavelength, I like to keep my carry-on as ‘free’ as possible to allow for any excess luggage weight to be transferred over. With that being said, there are still some things I keep with me at all times, whether it be for comfort, relaxation or practicality.

* Links for items which are still available have been linked for your convenience

Being the foodie that I am, I also like carrying my planner with me throughout the day for gentle reminders of dinner reservations and foreign dessert bars to try. Comment below if you spot something that’s similar in your travel bag!

Self Proclaimed Foodie (and my occasional battle with food)

Let’s face it, there is nothing better than a solid meal (or three) after a hard day’s work. But having just endured almost two weeks of ‘exam diet’, a.k.a. excessive cookies, egg tarts, custard buns and sushi, I decided it’s time to purge the guilty indulgences of sugary cravings and unnecessary eating with healthier options. It got me thinking about all the homemade food I used to enjoy whipping up.

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Homemade Mango Upside Down Cake

Whether it’s an ‘exam diet’, ‘holiday diet’ or ‘cheat meal/day’ it’s always good to remind yourself that the line of constant indulgence should be drawn somewhere. And although home cooking may seem like a chore to some, opting for an easy chicken salad at dinner after an all day gelato-and-Orange-Is-The-New-Black binge marathon may actually be healthier in the long run. Having left home for boarding school in my early teens, I learnt about balancing my diet the hard way. People can be incredibly critical about body image, but even more so about the way that you choose to eat. Eat ‘too much’ and you get the side eye, eat ‘too little’ and you get snarky comments about your ‘self deprivation’. I think most girls go through phases were we’re unhappy with our bodies and put ourselves through extremities of diets and exercise to ‘fix’ themselves. So what exactly did I learn about balanced diets and body image in boarding school? Eat and exercise sufficiently and disregard what others have to say.Yes, it’s important to be happy about yourself whether you’re goal may be to lose/gain weight, cut that waist or perk up that bum. But it may be time to reconsider the object of your ‘ideal’ when you begin to venture into dangerously unhealthy habits. You and I both know what I’m talking about, and although it may sometimes seem like a necessary reflex for a quick fix, crash diets, excessive exercising and unhealthy purging can’t be sustained forever – trust me.

Talking about this is often ‘taboo’, but if you have been affected by it, please don’t feel ashamed and know that you’re not alone. More importantly, know that there are far better solutions to getting on the healthy track. Like I said, I am an avid home cook – sometimes making food (and washing the dishes after) can be therapeutic and it’s always good to know in ingredients of the food you put in your body. Afterall, you are what you eat.

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