Thursday, October 31, 2013

A step into the past..

Over the years even as I promised myself not to revisit the places I've been to and to head elsewhere. Malacca has become a yearly 'pilgrimage' for me. This was not my first trip there. Neither was it my first solo trip. =) 

But what was different this time was as I was walking down the same Jonker Street there were changes seen (the last I went was in August 2012). And this caught my eye. The Royal Press. A small shopfront. But something about how it is related to writing attracted me in. 

So there was a guided tour (RM$12) and as I was 15 mins from the next tour time I took up the chance to enter. 

Some items on display. From the old school stationary items to wedding invitations and calendars. 

There were machines that were on display to explain to us how it all works. 

And shelves of medicines and bottles which they print the labels for. 

There was another room set up and displayed items from the time of the British colonization. 

Notepads. Namecards. Bus tickets. 

Items on an old office table.

There were also displays of how coloured printing was done in the old days. Layers over layers over layers. Before arriving to the final product. Makes you appreciate our current technology and machines much more. 

The guide explaining how the machine worked. 

An auntie working with the company still and doing the Peranakan calendar for 2014.

It was tour that lasted about 30 mins. But what amazed me most was the room where all the blocks were stored. The single blocks were used to form a single sentence word by word. The room had only Chinese characters (Roman letters and numerals did not require a room. =P). Even I had a hard time searching for the characters. Imagine the auntie who knows where the individual group of characters are placed! 

Sometimes it juz takes a little glance back to the past to make you appreciate the present doesn't it? 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Proof of visit.. Boracay!

I came across a quote once. 'One of the most common proofs that you've been to Boracay is that you have your own henna tattoo.' 

All these while when I travelled to Philippines and see people having tattoos I wanted to have my own. On a whim when I went in September. I finally got my own. 

Selfie from the top down. 

Tattoo-ing of my name.

I love this tattoo I had. Only regret was that it was not permanent. =/ And the 1 week when the henna started to fade my back was itching like mad. When I dare and the time is right. I may just get a permanent one of this exact design. <3

The final design. <3

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Dancing.. In the rain? =)

Okies. So this post has nothing much to do with food. Nor travel. But it has something to do with what's happening this 2 weekends in Singapore! Da:ns Festival at the Esplanade! =) 

A gigantic poster hanging from the exterior walls of the Esplanade. 

So what's this festival all about? It's all about dance of course! Yes yes I know. I am not a dancing person (Well. Given that I have two left feet and a body that can't seem to response to the music and is like a block of wood.. I don't blame you.)

'In celebration of the spirit of movement. da:ns festival invites you to 10 days of dance that will inspire and lift your heart. ... ... Don;t forget your dancing shoes: come shimmy and shake at our workshops. Or dance the night away under the stars. Fall in love with dance this October!' (

Friday's theme is 'I'm in love' and yesterday featured dances from swing. to West coast swing. Cuban salsa and LA salsa. And it was awesome! Coz we get to dance too and it was a free workshop! 

Swing dancers.. 

West coast swing.. 

My personal fav: Cuban salsa.. 

LA salsa..

But the highlight of the night was when the floor was opened and it was a freestyle event. Honestly I didn't know there were so many people who could dance salsa in Singapore! 

I love watching people dance. Especially those fast paced dances. From tango to salsa. Partly the music juz brings you out of your current place. One of the first dance movies I watched that left me with a deep impression was 'Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights' ( which was salsa. And very much Cuban I believe. <3 

The other movie which had dance routine which I love has to be from 'Step Up 3D' ( - Tango. And this came from Latin America. A place I'm dying to visit (if not for the exorbitant flight tix =/).

I remember the 2 times I went dancing in public. First was in Surfer's Paradise in Gold Coast with mum and the next was on my solo trip in Lhasa in the square right in front of Potala Palace. It was spontaneous and super fun! =P 

Sometimes in life. Rather than wait for the rain to stop. Why don't we learn to dance in the rain?  

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The perks of solo travelling..

I juz read this article written by Betsy Talbot and posted by Solo Traveler ( and I had a sudden inspiration to share. 

'“I can’t go into a restaurant by myself!”
Have any of your friends ever said something like this to you? I know I heard it a lot in my single days, and I wondered how those people managed to eat out, go to the movies, or take vacations.'

And then I realized I've been hearing more of these more and more. Hahaha. Not that it should be a surprise after all the trips I've taken solo. =P Yes. Eating and going out to town alone used to be a daunting thought. I could never understood how others can ever shop or eat or watch movie alone. Until one faithful day when I decided to give it a try by heading to a movie alone. Then it hit me that hey! I actually enjoyed the experience! And after the movie I went and had a good Jap meal at Tonkichi at Shaw. Well. At least that was what I remembered. Besides feeling awkward and out of place initially. I started looking around and saw that there were a handful of others sitting alone and having a meal. Some looked at their phones throughout (while I stare at them =P) while some looked like they couldn't wait to finish their meal and get out of there. Of course there were a couple of solo-ists who seems like they were enjoying their meal and taking time out to glance at others (read: people watch) and I guess it wasn't that bad after all! =)

In relation back to the article:
Confidence. I never knew I could even travel alone. Until that trip to Luang Prabang after going to Bangkok with a friend. But the friend had to go back to classes so I went solo to Luang Prabang to meet a neighbour (a neighbour whom I have spoken less than 10 sentences - I think - to in my 23 years of life.) But I did. It was big step forward and coz I had no friend with me. I literally had to pluck my courage from the sky. Do transfers by myself (in a country where English seems quite limited) and get around town alone (when the neighbour was at work in the day).

One of the photos I cherish to this day. A traveller standing atop Mount Phousi capturing the sunset. <3

Decisiveness. I did whatever I wanted. Whenever I wanted. I had no second opinions that I need to consider. The trip was all about me. Me and me. But perhaps it has come to a point now that when I do travel with friends. I'd rather the other party make the decision and let me juz stone away. =)

Couldn't decide what to have at the night market at the foot of Mount Phousi. 

Curiousity. I wandered the streets and alleys alone. Looking at knick knacks and observing people who seemed to have come from all walks of life. It was an eye opener for a girl like me who couldn't remember much about the kampung life I had. But kept me awake on some nights thinking of how life might have been if not for the rapid development of the current government. Don't get me wrong. I love living in a cosmopolitan city. Juz that as the times move on and work starts coming in. A break from the usual hustle and bustle of life is much much needed. 

An old lady I spotted making sarongs in an open house. 

Solo travel as personal growth. I never imagined that one day I would be making trips on my own. Neither would I have thought possible that I could be independent in such a way that sometimes I scare myself a little too. Through solo travelling I found myself again and loved myself in more ways that I could ever named before. I can pass the days not talking to anyone at all - besides ordering food and asking directions (which to many seems a bit too extreme) but I enjoy it. I enjoy soaking up the atmosphere. The culture. But most of all. I enjoy the freedom of being ME.

Trying to mount an elephant barefooted but ended up facing the wrong direction! What a laugh! =P

Solo travelling. Time to be with me. By me. Would I trade the chance to travel solo with anything? Most definitely not. Travel has become my addiction. <3

Waiting for the monks in the streets of Luang Prabang at 4am in the morning. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Falling in love..

Suddenly missing my second home much. Perhaps coz yest met someone from there and he mistakenly thought I was from his homeland too. Hahaha.

My love affair with the Phils started when I went Manila for class in November 2010 and hopped over to Cebu City and looked for Janice's brother with Aqing. That wasn't that memorable a trip as it was still a strange place to me but I remember the seafood and awesome sunsets we saw. 

So in the January of 2012. I decided to risk it and head over for the Sinulog (for another time) and after the festival. Gino (the brother of my friend - whom I kept in touch with) brought me over to Bantayan Island. And the story begins. 

A bit of background of my home. Philippines is divided into mainly 3 regions: Luzon. Visayas and Mindanao. Philippines is made up of 7,107 islands and covers almost 300,000 square kilometers with a population of more than 98 million people with an additional 12 million Filipinos living overseas. There are hints of influences from Malay. Hindu. Islamic and even Chinese elements in the country to this day (Wikipedia).

So. The Batanyan Island is located in the Visayas and on the west of the northern island of Cebu. We stayed at Santa Fe. The eastern side of the island in a place called Yoonek Inn (1 minute walk to the beach). As on the beaches and shorelines. Bancas (their indigenous boats) are seen dotting the landscape. Below is an example of how a simple banca look like. 

And the beach that was of where we were staying was super peaceful not to mention beautiful. As a typical locally grown Singaporean (I sound like a fruit don't I? 'Locally grown and produced in Singapore' =)). I have never EVER seen a beach so white. So powdery. It left me speechless. The waters seem to reflect the blueness of the skies. And the skies were such a sight to take in. Robin blue with clouds stretching endless across. I love how the colours are seen in these 3 photos below. And yes. Shamelessly they are my watsapp wallpaper and main wallpaper in my phone. And my laptop wallpaper for work. <3

And like any other part of Philippines and many other countries. A wet market is a place that despite the fact I don't quite like the wet and fishy smell of the place. It will continue to be a place which will attract me. Like how some people are attracted to shop or visit museums. Me? Wet markets please! =)

We also took an island hopping banca and went ashore to an island named Virgin Island. It's a private island and only when the owners are not in can guests drop off and explore the place. Being a private island definitely has its perks. As we went ashore. Another group of 4 were juz leaving the place. Perfect! Practically as we roam about on our own. Besides the caretakers and the one who steered the banca to the island. We were the only 2 guests around! Yet another peaceful place and yes. I fell in love harder and faster. <3

Of a culture I was still a bit foreign to (even though I had spent 5 days in Cebu City). Drinking is something that cannot be missed. Breakfast lunch and dinner. Always. Me being the conservative me only drink at night. But in the Virgin Island. I drank with them in the hot afternoon too. =P 

No surprise that I drank after dinner then? =P Thing was. I had a beer (San Miguel Pale Pilsen) before Gino dared me to drink tequila. My first shot of tequila ever. I guess I gave a lot of firsts to my love yeah? =) So. 40% of El Hombre tequila. Took 1 sip and I could feel the burn! God. No matter how I sucked on the body salt and lime I could feel the alcohol burning a hole through and through. =/  And I could feel me swaying and getting a bit high. Hahaha. 

But no. It didn't end there. Gino finished up the rest of it in a single gulp and ordered another 2 beers. O.O San Miguel Light. I can safely tell you. That night was one of the highest I would have. And that was what pushed me to me drinking more often and raising the bar at my alcohol tolerance level. =) But beer preferred over hard liquor please. =)

With fresh seafood. Awesome beaches and beers. What more could a girl ask for? =P I am in love. Through and through. <3

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Bucket list: Tibet!

Tibet: roof of the world. A place that holds a mystery like none other. A gnawing attraction to get there (which I have no idea why given that I don't really see much reports on the place). Call it the mystery. Call it the unknown. It has drawn me since I know how to travel solo. Probably (and now definitely) is a place that none of my usual travel kakis would travel to. 

The trip that I've planned for years finally came true this year. After that attempt last year which got canned due to the self burning incident on 27 May 2012. 2013: a new chance presented itself. I left on the day of my birthday. A new milestone since graduation from poly years back. Graduation trip of sorts one may say. 

A Buddhist country by majority. One could see prayer flags lining along the mountains. Different colours of the flags signifies different meanings from the 5 elements. Blue - sky and space. White - air and wind. Red - fire. Green - water and Yellow - earth. Prayer flags are not meant to carry messages from us to the Gods. But rather to 'promote peace. Compassion. Strength and wisdom.' (Wikipedia) Tibetans believe that when the wind blows on the flags. The wind will carry the blessings into the world and thus bringing peace to one and all.

My first glance of Potala Palace from across the river. An ancient palace situated at the highest point in the world. As obvious from this picture. The palace is divided into the Red Palace and the White Palace. The Red Palace is the place where religious study and prayers take place while the White Palace once served as the office building of the Tibet local government (

A sunset captured while crossing the river. At one of the highest point of the world. <3

3 different angles of the Potala Palace. From across the lake. To at the square. And lastly at night. Surprisingly when we enter the Palace. We are given a time frame to climb the steps (all 1,528 of them!) and to stay within the Palace. All within an hour. Nothing more. And due to the high altitude. You do get breathless after a couple of flights of steps. =P And no liquid is allowed into the Palace. You can only buy whatever you need once you reach the top. Security is at the 3 entrances and it'll be no surprise that we had to go through at least one. 

To a lot of people. Potala Palace is juz another 'old building' with 'some' history. No doubt it's that. But when you see it up close and personal and walk the hallways of the monks and Dalai Lamas who have walked before. A sense of peace prevails over unknowingly. You tend to forget the hustle and bustle of the city life down below and it's a world of its own. A class on its own (almost). 

Tibetans pay pilgrimage to Lhasa. A journey which they will do at least once in their lifetime. No matter which part of Tibet they hail from. A pilgrimage to the city of Lhasa is a must. As we walked around Bakhor street. Many faithfuls were seen 'kow tow' around the street. From the young to the old. The male to the female. And even to the handicapped. Each step is done with the devotee clasping the hands to the forehead. Throat. Heart and then he/she will prostrate full length on the ground. Throughout the whole journey without fail. ( A scene which touches the hearts of many of us as we could never envision the amount of tolerance level and devotion it muz have taken to start from their home till Lhasa. With many covering kilometers of land in months and even years. *salutez*

And last but not least. A glacier unlike many others. Kharola Glacier. Standing between the prayer posts at the top of a mountain that was 5,020 meters above sea level and the tip of the mountain reaching a staggering 7,191 meters. That was no easy feat. Even given my excellent (if I may say so) health condition. To be breathing in that cold mountainous air was like breathing in ice and my fingers were numbed by the cold even though the temperature was probably around 16 degrees Celsius (which isn't that cold). The UV however is the killer. Dry and strong UV meant I lived in moisturizer daily. =P

Given the chance. I would definitely go back again. Not so much to challenge my body and health to those conditions but coz I really felt at peace during the whole trip and could really let go of my struggles. Seeing those sights that not all (or even majority) of the people would want to was really something that spurred me on. I never regretted travelling or having such a place on my bucket list. BUT. I am proud to say I've conquered the highest country in the world and came back in one piece. =)

Would you want to go and take a look? =)