Travel Tales: Singapore

 

Singapore was amazing in all ways possible! It definitely exceeded all expectations, from the destinations to even the warmth of its people. I’ve never been in a place where things were just so calm and chill, and the vibes it exuded, I’ve never felt elsewhere. It’s easily one of the coolest I’ve been to.

Unbelievable how people say Singapore is so small, everything on the island can be done in a day. Well, that’s the biggest lie in the world! It may be one of the smallest in the continent, but it is truly bursting with so many things to do. Every little corner has an interesting find, and whether you’re on top of the grandest skyscraper or lost in a spot tucked away in a side alley, there will always be something new and different waiting to be done, tasted, or seen.

And the funny truth is… I never thought I’d fall in love with this country.

Hello from Singapore

Greetings from the Lion City!

Alright, I’ll be honest here… my first few hours in this country didn’t go very well, which all started with the airport. It’s a story meant for another entry, but in a nutshell, we had a terrible encounter with the immigration which left us to lose practically a day’s worth of itinerary. Well, not the nicest first impression.

But things happen, but dwelling on them won’t really do anything. This is something I did not realize until someone told me otherwise, and now I can say that this trip has been a really pleasant one that I no longer remember what happened on Day 1. Singapore’s awesomeness definitely made up for it, and wow, how beautiful is this place is, really. Singapore is such an artsy country bursting with color and vibrance, from the little corners of its side alleys to the countless towering skyscrapers, and everything (I mean everything) is just so picturesque that there is nothing I could not take a snapshot of. Things are just so perfect and pretty here. It’s amazing how buildings here can pull off even the oddest combination of colors and shades.

I’ve never been on a trip abroad that actually happened within a particular school year, so I’m missing a few of my classes. I wasn’t too keen on pursuing this trip because I really, really didn’t want to miss school, especially now that I’m barely only on my third week of university! I never even did this in high school, what more in college? Choosing a trip over school stuff is definitely one of the most daunting decisions I’ve ever made. But as I always say, I’d do anything to explore and go on a new adventure. Well, traveling is the best kind of education one can receive, haha. You can say that I followed what my heart said, but then, it’s something I don’t regret.

I’m with my relatives to celebrate a milestone in my grandma’s life, her birthday! It was a trip I didn’t know was actually happening, so until now I’m still in a mild state of shock. Nevertheless, I’m grateful and thankful to have an opportunity of exploring a bit more of the world.

I actually only have a few hours left in this country and the thought of having to leave is something I really dread… I don’t want to be back to reality just yet.

 

DSC07492 DSC07510 DSC07780

Into the new world

This 127-day summer is on its end. I’ll be slipping into a new set of uniform consisting of casual clothes, making my way through the unfamiliar halls of a building I’ve yet to enter in a few. Years and years I have yearned for this chapter in my life to finally unfold, and now that it’s only a sleep(less) night away, I can only wish for so much. I’m quite ecstatic, really.

It’s a plethora of feelings, as I would say. Maybe it’s now the perfect time to be myself, and that is, to be who I really am, or to be who I am supposed to be. Unafraid. Secure. Certain.

Summer ’14 was nothing short of amazing. It’s not going to be easy leaving the summer I will be forever grateful to and for; one that has nurtured my senses and greatly fostered my growth as an individual. Learnings irreplaceable, experiences unforgettable. It was a indeed a summer of coincidences, with one unexpected event that just led to something else and then to something even better, sometimes even worse.

Setting foot on the land of my dreams, meeting great and wonderful people here and there, catching up, up close and inches away from the person I call my biggest inspiration in life, exploring a bit more of the world, learning and improving, leaving a print of footmarks in the unlikeliest of places, getting pushed out of the corners of my comfort bubble… I am humbled and fulfilled. These past four months left me dull and hanging, yet at the same time, gave me a list of adventures I never thought I’d encounter. Definitely, it wasn’t all perfect, and whether I regret certain things or not is moot. I’ve come a long way. It was a very lengthy wait, but all in all, I am thankful.

There were a few points on the bucket list I’d never expect to cross out and memories I never thought I’d possibly make… at least not anytime soon, but I’m truly happy. And with a whole new set I’ve yet to meet, here’s to hoping a whole lot more.

2:29

Some incoherent thoughts and possible grammatical mistakes at 2:29 in the morning, but I’ve been meaning to ponder on and express my emotions on certain things that have been bothering me lately. And this time, it’s not really all about me.

So I’ve been wanting to blog lately. To write about the recent places I’ve been to, thoughts on this so-called new chapter unfolding in my life, musings on many different things. But I just don’t have the heart and will to do so—I’ve been taken aback by the current happenings in the world. Reading about the news and watching the headlines these days are such painful tasks to do. When you watch about little children and civilians in this side of the globe shamelessly being shot and killed and innocent lives of people in passenger planes taken away in an instant, it’s not very easy to write about your own wants and aspirations. It feels very selfish of myself to do so quite frankly, when all these people’s lives can never be taken back. A plane full of individuals with hopes and dreams that can never be fulfilled; all gone too soon.

“The best things in life come unexpected.” I’ve always been a keen believer of this quote because of many concrete happenings, but not at this time. It’s just so wrong in all ways possible. Had the passengers known that the hours they spent inside the airplane would be their last, would they have boarded it?

Just at this very hour I was watching various clips and coming across news stories about the MH17 tragedy, and even up this point I cannot stop shedding tears. Everyone on the plane had different life stories. 298 people who hailed from different nations around the world; 80 were innocent, young children who had their whole lives ahead of them, but have been put to an end just like that. But I think what hit me at the greatest magnitude are the Indonesian-Filipinos who died on the flight, especially the kids, who I have been reading so much about, whether on the local news or international headlines. Knowing that they were actually on their way to the Philippines for a family reunion hurts a lot. The son really had a promising future and budding career in his life in the Netherlands, and seeing his last post on his Instagram with a face that displayed much enthusiasm in the airport breaks my heart. I am highly disturbed. Terrible, terrible it is. As I refresh the link, more condolences from people around the world consume his page. Sterkte, they say.

There was a 14-second video posted by a passenger showing how everything was just fine minutes after boarding the plane—people just casually stowing their bags in the overhead bins as the pilot is announcing a few reminders. Passengers excitingly posted snapshots of their passports and boarding passes on their social accounts with uplifting captions. It hurts so much viewing the Instagram accounts of the victims, knowing how they absolutely had no idea that that selfie they took would be their last, and that their adios and see you later hashtags would mean so much more. I can’t help that all of this bothers me so much.

These people could have already landed at their respective locations in this side of the world, enjoying the heat of summer spent with their loved ones, back at their beloved homelands, attending conferences that could nurture their passions and skills, or starting new beginnings. And that’s why it hurts. This act of violence and terror could have been something prevented. Why did this even have to happen? It is beyond comprehension. How completely devastating and heartbreaking it is. It’s hard to accept how all of this is not just a nightmare we can simply shake off or wake up from. This is real. This happened. To muster up courage at a time like this is not the easiest thing to do, and I can only imagine the immeasurable grief and pain that the victims’ families and friends have to endure right now. I knew nobody of the passengers before this ill-fated event occurred, but I don’t feel quite indifferent and detached. My heart and prayers go out to all the victims and their loved ones. In how the current situation is being handled, I pray for transparency, truthfulness and certainty.

2014 so far has been a really good year to me. It really has. But when you see that the world around you is troubled and shaken, you can’t help but realize how little of a being you are—small and powerless.  How the universe isn’t in need of your accomplishments and happiness at this time; when it pleads for something so much more than that.

What a year to live in right now, really. Everything is just so unbelievable and indescribable. Life is so unfair. There are no words.

Happy Birthday, Soulboy

DSC07345
Last April, I went to Taiwan. I booked this trip last year, and literally days before our flight, I found out that my absolute favorite singer would have an autograph session there. Can’t believe how it fell right on our trip! Our stay was short, but I made my way to meet him. Maybe it was luck or fate, but it was a dream come true. Always remember this day. And today, he turns a year older! Happy Birthday, Khalil Fong!

2014年07月14日

Happy Birthday, Khalil! Thank God you sing in English as well or else… haha. Still feels so surreal to have been in one frame with you. 方大同,你是最棒的。谢谢你的音乐。祝你幸福,永远爱你!同哥生日快乐!!

127-day summer bucket list

“Sounds like a title of a movie!” my aunt said when I mentioned that one Tuesday in April was the start of my 127-day summer.

I was so overwhelmed knowing I’d have four months of absolutely no school, where I could spend everyday lazing around without the feeling of regret. I deserved a break—sleeping in, bumming around, with a bevy of blogs at my fingertips as I spent endless hours in front of the computer screen. Bliss, I say.

But I felt something was quite wrong. I then realized that such routine was not something I wanted to do for the next hundred days. This summer of three figures might never happen again, so I might as well spend it in a productive manner. After all, this summer’s way too long to even be doing nothing. To save my sanity, I’ve got to look for things to do!

So on the 21st day, I ended up with a list of what I ought to achieve. Today’s actually Day 100 (so fast yet so slow!), and I barely have a month to tick everything off:

Get a summer job.

I’ve done quite a few way back in grade school, like being a cashier at the neighborhood barber shop. Looking back, considering how young I was back then, to be sitting at the counter for ten hours a day, with sums of cash and a stash of coins by my side was such a huge responsibility for a kid to handle! Little talks with customers, handling daily reads to those in line, counting change… indeed, it was an experience I certainly enjoyed.

Well, I’ve been doing some ‘freelance’ graphic design on the side (this is just a fancy way of calling the layout designs for the price lists/calling cards I recently created for the barber shop), and it’s something I immensely enjoyed doing. Also, my dream of working as a barista for some milk tea or coffee shop will never fade away.

As I am entering uni life in a few, having summer jobs that equate to actual job experiences can be something I could plonk on my resume. I was actually this close to being an English and Math tutor to grade school students! But there was a catch: I was asked if I was capable of teaching Chinese (yes, Chinese) pinyin, but I just couldn’t give a straight yes—because, well, teaching Mandarin?  That should be saying a lot of my skills, but I clearly suck, to even begin with… I can’t even teach myself the right things, so that certainly put an end to it. Okay, here’s the deal—not the wisest thing to do, because why would I teach Chinese to Tsinoy kids? Haha. Case closed.

Exercise… well.

I’m the epitome of sedentary. I do nothing to exercise, not because I don’t see the need to, but because I just don’t want. This is something I really need, but never had the motivation to even start.  The only exercise that I actually enjoy is biking, which I get to do once a year (or not even). I’ve been looking for a type of exercise I’d genuinely enjoy. I’ve attended a session of yoga and I liked it. Even the most basic of movements was challenging yet so calming! I never got it right on the first try, but the simple poses aren’t anything strenuous and neck breaking (literally), so I’m hoping this would encourage me to start and get moving.

DSC07241

Get back on hobbies (piano, dramas, snail mail).

My tedious academic workload is what I blame for not being able to do the things I enjoyed doing. My piano skills are at its rustiest; recently, I was asked by people I’ve met for the first time to play my ‘best’ piece, and it was so scantily played I just embarrassed myself (well, what’s new?). I’d like to get back again my ear for playing. As much as I say that watching drama is one of my favorite things, ironically, it’s something I barely get to do. I remember talking to a friend who said that she was watching six Korean dramas all at the same time, and I said that the total number of dramas I’ve finished doesn’t even go past that. It’s something I need to do again while school’s still a month away. And, of course, exchanging postcards is happy happy joy joy for me. For some reason, postcards here in the country are so limited to touristy types that there aren’t much unconventional ones available. Gladly, I got a postcard book from the souvenir shop at Getty Museum and it features around 30 artwork postcards, so in the next few weeks, I’m hoping to be able to send to and receive from strangers across the globe.

Read books.

This is one of my regrets as a student. I really regret not reading books in high school! Book reports aside, I never finished any novel of interest. I did start reading a few, but never got past halfway of anything. Not being able to read is what I blame my poor vocabulary (my browser history has numerous *insert word here* meaning searches on Google that add up on a daily basis, this is real) and my less polished, incoherent writing on. If I had regularly read, I’m pretty sure I would have done so much better during the entrance exams and become more eloquent. Books on hold are The Alchemist, The Joy Luck Club, and Chinese Cinderella.

Brush up on my Chinese.

I always strive to be better at Chinese. My goal was never to be fluent because that’s pretty much an elusive dream, but to be proficient at the language is quite attainable. My progress is clearly turtle slow (three years and still can’t handle a continuous dialogue, why oh why), and I try to pick up what I can, whether by channel-scanning or singing along to Mandopop. If my Chinese were much better, I could have confidently asked for discounts at the night markets to get a good bargain. But even so, I felt that my Chinese raised exponentially when I went to Taiwan, and that only means that I should engage myself more in actual conversations, letting go of the anxiety when making a fool of myself. But, errare humanum est, as they say, only from our mistakes we shall learn!

DSC07273

And travel, of course, haha.

As I was listing all of this down, I knew I was missing something but couldn’t really put a finger on it. And then I remembered, oh right, travel! How can I forget this one? Exploring new places is my favorite thing to do. I’m not constantly traveling, but I am always itching to be on the go. An Intramuros walking tour or Pasig River and Manila Bay ferry cruise, why not? For now I’d like to do more of local travel, as it is when I am truly at my happiest, I say again! But near or far, I’m always game for anything at any place.