Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I can’t believe it’s time to do a recap of the year again (feels like I just did 2018’s!).
It feels rather wistful to be saying goodbye to 2019, not only because it’s the end of the year, but also of the decade. The 20s have been extraordinary. I wonder what’s in store for my 30s?
2019 wasn’t off to a good start. My company took on another client but without hiring additional staff, everyone’s tasks and responsibilities doubled. The physical and emotional repercussions of pulling late nights and always feeling like there’s never enough time to finish everything took its toll, and for the first time in my career, I broke down at work. It was embarrassing. My inability to pull off tasks given perfectly made me feel incompetent and worthless. In hindsight, I should have known where to drawn the line, but not wanting to disappoint a good boss and her faith in me, stressed myself out to breaking point. It’s something that I need to learn to handle more adequately.
I went to a cat cafe to destress. Watching and being near cats calms me. They’re my favourite creatures, although circumstances at home means I can’t keep any yet. Perhaps in 2020?
Not everything was doom and gloom, however. While my job can be stressful at times, I’m also thankful for the opportunities it has afforded me. After a rough January, February saw me flying to Melbourne to watch the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child play, which was phenomenal. I grew up reading the Harry Potter books, and it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a new story brought to life on stage.
I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Melbourne. The most memorable moments include visiting the Lyon Housemuseum, a private house-museum that blends an art gallery with a living space, exploring the laneways of Melbourne on foot, riding a helicopter (for the first time!) to see the 12 Apostles, and spotting real-life koalas and an emu upclose.
Got to experience Malaysia’s first private onsen bath!
Did a story on unusual libraries in the Klang Valley, such as the Little Giraffe Book Club, housed in a refurbished old kampung house, the curated Rumah Attap at Zhongshan, and the Japan Foundation Library, dedicated to all things Japanese and more.
N came to visit from Manila, and we went on many little adventures, like watching a drum performance and visiting Cameron Highlands.
Went for a short work trip to Singapore, and managed to squeeze in some time for sightseeing with a high school close friend of mine.
Brought N for a work-cum-holiday trip to sunny, beautiful Phuket. It was my second visit and the crystal clear oceans and sandy beaches were just as breathtaking as the first time. But what made it even more memorable was time spent with a loved one. ❤
A work trip brought me to Siniawan in Sarawak, also called the ‘Cowboy Town of Borneo’. The place has an extraordinary back story, the people are warm and hospitable, and the pace of life is just so different from the hectic hustle and bustle of the city. KL-ites are often so absorbed with life in the city that we fail to realise that there is so much more to Malaysia than our little bubble.
Went to watch The Phantom of the Opera with the editor. It was my first time watching a musical, and the performances blew me away.
Got to see digital reproductions of Da Vinci’s works at the National Visual Arts Gallery. Considering that such exhibitions don’t come to Malaysia very often, I think it was a great effort by the local government and arts and culture organisations to bring this to the country.
Had a lot of fun doing a story on unique cafes, such as this one which has a 2D concept.
Had an interview with Hong Kong celebrity chef Alvin Leung for the opening of Fuhu at Genting. I was nervous af because he seemed like one of those chefs with a fiery temper. It turned out okay, but the interview never made it to light because it got axed at the last minute, which was a shame.
N came to visit again. We were planning to get our marriage registered in Malaysia, then change his tourist visa into a spouse visa, which would allow him to stay for another six months. Unfortunately, we were thrown into a loop when the marriage registration date got pushed to November instead – so he had to exit the country in October and come back in November again. A lot of time was wasted in the process, but we did get to spend more time together and explore new places.
Another work trip – this time to Japan, to cover the Toyosu Fish Market. It wasn’t exactly a ‘glamorous’ assignment, but it turned out to be one of the most enjoyable assignments of the year, apart from Melbourne. It was fascinating to be offered an insight into what goes on behind the scenes at the world’s largest seafood market, and in our spare time I got to explore parts of Tokyo as well.
Brought N to Sekinchan so he could see the green paddy fields.
Had a Masterclass with Chef Nobu of Nobu fame.
Won a social media contest for Tapas Club, where we got to sample some of their excellent wines and small eats. I am now an addict of their garlic shrimp.
Finally went to Bangkok! Almost everyone I know has gone to Bangkok, and they gasp every time I tell them I haven’t, since it seems like I’ve been to many places but not this one so close to home. N and I took it easy rather than rushing to different places, which I think made it more enjoyable. The museum alone was worth the trip (the history nerds that we were, we spent six hours in the place). N departed for Manila from Bangkok, while I made a lonely trip back to Kuala Lumpur.
N came back for our civil marriage registration. We went to the immigration department to inquire about applying for a spouse visa, but was disappointed yet again when told there was a cooling period of six months, and that he wouldn’t be able to apply until May 2020. Which meant he wouldn’t be able to extend his visa, and would have to fly back to Manila (again).
It gets harder to separate each time, but this is a path we both committed to taking, and no damn bureaucracy is going to dampen our spirits. We maximised our time together by taking some pre-wedding photos in Ipoh, which we did on our own to save on a photographer.
Brought him for a work trip to Seremban, where he rode an ostrich for the first time.
Went with N to Melaka. It was nice to bring him to places and play tourist in my own country. We slept in a capsule hotel for the first time; an experience I’m not likely to repeat anytime soon.
Our annual office Christmas party was tinged with a hint of sadness this year, as it was the last one we were having as a complete team. The media industry isn’t doing so well right now, and my company did not escape unscathed. At the beginning of the year, we were up to our necks with work; at the end of it, having lost a major client, half of the team would be let go. I was one of the lucky ones to be retained, but without the support and guidance of my editor, whom I also consider a mentor, I think it will be a very challenging year in 2020. I suppose I should be thankful for still having a job, but I believe the media industry is in a serious rut right now. For the next year, my goal will be to try and upscale my skills and diversify my portfolio. It’s a do or die world, and I’m not getting any younger.
Well there you have it! 2019 all wrapped. It’s the night of New Year’s Eve as I write this, snugly wrapped in my blankets with a fresh face mask and scented candles in the room. Gone are the days of going out for fireworks and partying the night away, but that doesn’t mean I’m not celebrating it in my own little way.
Happy New Year!