archived fragments

imported from fragmented.posterous.com

Month: September, 2012

my rose-tinted lenses

I will admit this. I view everything with a pair of rose tinted lenses. People, work, life, dreams, ambition, everything.

Having had a side of me who was disinterested in everything and anything, I will very much rather wear those rose-tinted lenses.

They make me believe anything is possible, that humans are kind by nature, that my imagination is just another perception of what can be real.

Without my rose-tinted lenses I wouldn’t have believed I would one day live the life I am living now. Dreams are possible only if you believe they’ll come true, despite the ridiculousness of them all. I’m a living example of disappointing those naysayers again and again. Thanks to my rose-tinted lenses.

Perhaps I’ll stumble, perhaps I’ll cry, perhaps the greys of life will appear but what matters is that I am carrying faith and hope with me instead of jadedness & apathy.

Pain is only temporary, but dreams can be permanent, if only I have courage to hold on to them. And my rose-tinted lenses give me the strength to do so.

Not all the time though. Sometimes I’ll mock myself for wearing them, for like any human being I waver.

But I have always picked them up time and again, I have never once given up on them.

I’ll continue to wear them, I hope I’ll still have them with me when it is time for me to wrap things up in this world.

That will be testament of how I lived my life. Because it is mine to live, not anyone else’s. With my very own rose-tinted lenses.

must-dos in HK

For once I’ll not write a long emo blog post. ;p I have had several requests for tips on what do to do & eat in HK. Obviously there’s lonelyplanet, tripadvisor etc but well, travelling is personal, isn’t it? I don’t expect everyone to have the same tastes as me but in case you’re curious, here’s my list (so far, becase there’s tons I haven’t seen – and yes I am food obsessed).

1. Australia Diary Company

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Everyone has to try their steamed milk pudding and fried eggs here. I repeat. Must try. Just being in the restaurant itself is a unique HK experience. It is really not from Australia, I am not sure why it is named that way. I guess they mean the milk. Hmm.

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2. Egg tarts at Tai Cheong

I have had great egg tarts randomly at plenty of HK streets, but Tai Cheong is one of those hyped experiences one has to do for the sake of doing. Eat it right after buying it. Warning: it crumbles into your mouth so don’t be smart like me and eat it while pinching it only with two fingers – I found half of my egg tart on the street afterwards.

 

3. Dim sum at Lin Heung Lao

Hat tip to Belle, this is one of those places where there are no English menus and carts get pushed around. Another great experience just for the sake of it, the food is great too, albeit I would be uncomfortable going there alone. Some of those aunties pushing the carts can be grumpy, ahem. Things to eat: Roast pork, creamy custard buns, rice flour rolls. 

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4. Visit Tai O

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I fell in love with this fishing village. I can’t express it using words.

5. Visit one of the outer-lying islands

You’ll feel like you’re visiting an alternate reality from mainland HK. Cheung Chau, Peng Chau, take your pick. Just hop onto a ferry, it is less than $2 and you can even island-hop in a day.

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6. Eat at a Cha Can Teng (aka Hongkong-style cafe)

Recommendations: Iced yuan yang (coffee+tea with milk) or Iced milk tea, egg & luncheon meat sandwiches, baked pork chop rice – as you can tell by now, they are not very healthy and not very chinese. But that’s what I love about HK’s food, it can be so chinese and so not chinese! If you are not comfortable with the dodgy looking ones yet (though I swear, the dodgier, the more delicious), you can try Tsui Wah for a very comfortable dining experience first. There’s quite a few branches scattered all over. Try the soy-sauce chicken wings please.

7. Eat French Toast

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This needs to have its own mention. This is not your typical french toast. It is deep fried with peanut butter in between, drenched with syrup, and a slab of butter melting on top. Sinfully delicious.

8. Eat at one of these at Sheung Wan / Central

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You should be able to tell by now, I really like these old nostalgic places.

9. Eat Tang Yuan (glutinuos rice balls)

I typically don’t really like flour-y stuff but the ones here are so soft and delicious…

10. Take a tram on Hong Kong island

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Maybe it is just me, each time I take one of these I feel like it i
s magic. 

11. Eat Claypot rice/congee at temple st

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I recommend the congee actually. If you can’t be at temple st then just hop into the many congee restaurants. 

12. Eat street food

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You can find them almost anywhere but definitely at Mongkok. I like the curry fishballs and octopus. Yummy.

13. For geeks only

Visit Golden Computer Arcade & Apliu St preferbly on weekdays unless you’re into crowds.

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14. Malls at Yau Ma Tei & Mongkok stretch 

I don’t mean big ones like Langham Place, but the small tiny packed ones where you can find obscure toy shops and tidbit shops among the usual youth fashion. If you’re there at night, take a walk down the Ladies street night market, just for fun.

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These are what I ❤ so far, I expect myself to see a lot more I haven’t covered during my past trips, but these are the ones I keep repeating, even on my nth visit now.

For everyone’s convenience, I’ve saved all of the above in a foursquare list. 😉

the beauty of the ordinary

There were plenty of times within the past few weeks that I’ve wanted to write but I’d stopped myself – I’ve always desired to put out a good post, it didn’t really matter if there wasn’t an audience but at least I know by the end of the post I have given my all to it. 

That is the problem. I seldom have the time and space where I can give my all to a blog post. 

Yesterday I finally somehow remembered when I started this posterous blog, it was meant to serve as a travel log. When it was incepted last year with my trip to SF, I wrote pretty much everyday. I rambled on and on, writing about ordinary but personally beautiful sights I had encountered, about the gratitude I had felt, even about the onion dispensers I saw in Costco. 

Partially it was driven by me falling head over heels in love with SF, partially I simply wanted to write so I could remember it from the future one day.

Once in a while I’ll read my own posts during my 3-month journey in the US last year and they never once felt mundane to me. I guess that is what that really matters – writing for my future self to reflect upon, not for any other reason.

I have come to realise what makes life truly beautiful is the capacity to find the extraordinary out of the ordinary and that is why I love travelling so much. Having a foreign perspective allows me to see the beauty in different cultures, beauty which have since been neglected by the locals because of the daily grind.

I am guilty of the same when it comes to Singapore. And I derive the opportunity to learn when I hear what other people have to say about Singapore during my travels. 

Yesterday I chanced upon this live performance amongst the crowd at mongkok. It was pretty awesome and there was a crowd gathering. When the song ended everyone clapped passionately but nobody took out a single cent. I dropped a small note into the empty case feeling all awkward because I was the only one to do so, half feeling sorry for the performer, wondering how much and how long she has to sing in order to get a little monetary return. 

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I wondered if I was missing some picture. Perhaps the same crowd gather every night showing their support but they cannot afford to give on a regular basis. Perhaps they don’t feel the way I feel – how much it takes to be standing there singing. Perhaps there’s some part of the local culture I don’t understand and I shouldn’t judge. 

But I enjoy the thoughts which pop up in my head – a constant string of questions. 

I passed by a street hawker trying to sell her catch of the day before the day ends. She was telling her prospects how the various types of seafood would be cooked best. For some reason I was very moved by the scene, I guess it represented some form of an authentic connection between the seller and buyer which is quickly disappearing with fancy gigantic supermarkets these days.

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I recounted the event to my foot masseuse later on and she gave an exclamation of horror, wondering how I could be enamoured with the non-existent hygiene in such street selling. 

I didn’t consider the hygiene factor at all and I still don’t. The same scene, provoking extremely different reactions. 

That is the beauty of the ordinary, it is really up to us to capture such fleeting moments and listen to the story each moment has to tell. 

Stories like superamit’s pop up in our conscious stream all the time, serving as gentle reminders for us to treasure the ordinary. But we just keep ignoring them, indulging ourselves in our falsely perceived busyness. 

I tend to fall into this trap myself, despite having a few episodes of bad health – swearing each time I’ll never take my health or time for granted again, only to end up doing exactly the opposite.

I tell myself gently that it is okay, being aware is better than being in perpetual denial, if I see myself as a piece of software perhaps it would take multiple iterations for myself to get it right. 

Sometimes I had been so wrapped around with work that I think I feel too drained to be anywhere else apart from what I call home in my temporal locations. I keep forgetting that surrounding myself with different sights everyday have an empowering and energizing effect on me. 

But I think I am slowly getting better at this – I instruct my lizard brain to take a step back and I will myself into going somewhere, anywhere. 

Each time I am successful with that, I am always rewarded with seemingly ordinary events which move the core of my soul.

For that, I am grateful. For the desire to always be engaged with my own life, I am grateful.

For being able to write this seemingly random blog post and post bits of my thoughts into a space where people may one day find it by serendipity, I am grateful.

If you happen to be reading this, I am too, grateful, for you have graciously spared me a few minutes of your attention.

Thank you.

Hongkong, happiness & freedom

When I was cold, hungry and lonely in Vancouver, it wasn’t Singaporean food that I missed, it was the cantonese-speaking old uncles and aunties in HK-style cafes which I had found deeply comforting. Eating an eggtart or pineapple bun (thanks Elaine! – everyone else needs to eat these at Lido Cafe in Richmond, Vancouver) made me very satisfied and they warmed my heart.

I am not sure what exactly it is – my love for Hongkong extended to having crushes on various cantonese-speaking girls back in my teenage years.

The first place I ever dreamed of going out of Singapore was Hongkong. It was supposed to be a reward-trip for me when I topped my class at age 7 but it never happened till I was 19 (long story). Perhaps that longing for it only sought to extend the whole magical feel of the place. 

I grew up listening to cantonese pop and watching tvb dramas. I used to be embarassed about admitting it because it made me sound so auntie but these days I appreciate that part of my life a lot more. Yup, am one of those who doesn’t listen to strange hip music on Spotify. 

My favorite thing to do when I used to visit Hongkong, well, apart from eating, was to stock up on out-of-print CDs and VCDs/DVDs. I would spend hours in HMV or little local-owned record stores. These days I have a digital library instead, so I don’t really visit record stores or bookshops much anymore. That in turn gave me time to take in whatever sights which come along.

I really love the city for being so city and yet so uncity, you know what I mean? Instead of tearing everything down and building skyscrapers everywhere, you catch glimpses of tradition everywhere (these are taken in my 2009 trip):

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And I haven’t even started on the ridiculous amount of street food:

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And then there’s things like these on the road:

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Little dessert shops like this:

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Then strange shops perched in the middle of nowhere:

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And I can’t tell you how much I loved Tai-O:

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The thing about Hongkong, you can’t just visit Central or Mongkok and call it done, there is so much to do here that I am actually glad that this time around I have the opportunity to be here for a month.

This time around instead of rushing everywhere, I am just slowly walking around, taking in ordinary but meaningful sights:

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After the past year or so, I am really appreciating the silver linings in every cloud. I would probably stay in Singapore if short-term accomodation wasn’t so expensive. I had a blast for the last month I was there, but stay anywhere for too long and it turns into a comfort zone. 

If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine. It is lethal. – Paulo Coelho

I feel tired lugging a heavy luggage everywhere – my luggage is only heavy because I wanted to see how it is to lug my external monitor around, I have no regrets because having an external monitor is awesome and perhaps I do need some arm exercise anyway. Despite the apparent fatigue of moving all the time, it makes me feel like I am living my life with an extra layer of consciousness and awareness. Because everything is so temporal, I feel happy eating a bowl of fishball noodles in Singapore knowing I am not going to have access to it everyday, it makes every cup of iced yuanyang in Hongkong seem more precious.

It occurred to me that this is the life I have always dreamed of. This life which I dreamed of, was only possible precisely because life did not work out the way I thought it would. With this, I learnt that there is a key difference between what I think I want and what I really want.

People have commented that my face looks brighter. I feel brighter and lighter because I realised happiness to me is freedom. The freedom to be anywhere, to do things I want to do, to be creating anytime. It does not matter what I own or if I’ve managed to reach milestones I have set for myself – as long as I don’t feel stuck – I feel blessed. Freedom is knowing that I can lose everything now and it will be okay. 

I know I will be okay because I have gone through shit to know that everything will work itself out. Even all those times I was in despair.

Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life. – JK Rowling

For me, reaching rock bottom was one of the best things to ever happen to me. Reaching rock bottom allowed me to see that I have nothing to lose, and knowing I have nothing to lose allowed me to understand the true meaning of freedo
m. 

If there is one thing I fear, it would be losing my health – and that makes me even more enthusiastic about wanting to experience more of the world. So each time I hesitate because I want to be comfortable, this is what I remind myself with. For it is not too long ago when I couldn’t even get out of bed, I remember how it feels to be better dead than alive; that memory takes away all my desire for comfort.

I am really happy to be here in Hongkong.