Patreon?

Hey guys!

If you’ve been following this blog for any amount of time, you’ve probably noticed that I’m not very diligent when it comes to sharing personal posts or motivational (?) stuff like ‘Lessons I’ve learned from… etc.’  There are a few reasons for this:

A) It Takes A Buttload of Time 

Unlike lifestyle / food posts, which are based on experiences (ie, ‘tangible’ stuff  – you can write about how food tastes, how the service at a resto is like, what went on at an event, etc.) thoughts are much harder to present in a cohesive manner.  It usually takes, on average, a couple of days for me to write a ‘serious’ topic, as compared to a food post which I can bang out within an hour. Oftentimes, when I have a good idea, I run out of steam before it comes to fruition and I end up abandoning the whole thing lol. Also, despite being a writer, I am not the best when it comes to articulating what I feel or think. It’s like running Red Dead Redemption II on a potato graphics card.

True story

B) I Am My Own (Worst) Gatekeeper 

As a former newspaper journalist, self-censorship is almost second nature. Writing and rewriting, reading and rereading each sentence before it is deemed ‘fit’ for publication, is just something that I do unconsciously. But this also comes at a cost: I am often hyper-aware of how some words/ opinions may come off as ‘controversial’… so I avoid writing about them entirely.  I know it’s a shame because this is where discussion stems from, but I dislike conflict, and I feel it isn’t worth the trouble of potentially getting into a fight or getting ‘cancelled’ for my opinions. There are plenty of nasty, spiteful people out there on the net, and I don’t want to see my face Photoshopped over a naked body and uploaded to a porn site just coz someone isn’t happy about my opinions about the new Disney’s Mulan. @-@ There is also the possibility that I might write something a future employer deems offensive and controversial, which might affect my job prospects or other future projects.

C) Separating Content 

Most of the stuff on here relates to food/ travel and lifestyle, so it’s kinda odd that there are random personal posts in them. I want to try and separate the two, because I doubt anyone would be interested in reading about my struggles with anxiety and depression, when all they came on here to find out was how much a bowl of curry noodles from X restaurant costs.

D) Conflict Avoidance 

Perhaps the primary reason why I don’t do a lot of personal posts – is because I don’t want drama. My family reads my blog occasionally (my own fault coz I have them on my soc-med and I share my blog links there too), which has effectively prevented me from sharing too much about my personal life.

I don’t live in a perfect household. I believe every family has problems, and in no way am I saying I don’t love them or care for them. But there are times when I just want an outlet for release – or share my thoughts and connect to others with similar experiences – and I simply cannot do that by talking to them about it. Some might ask, “why are you airing dirty laundry?”, and “why is it easier for you to share things with strangers?” Because surprisingly, many strangers and friends DON’T judge, and even if they do, I don’t care as much, as compared to if it comes from someone close to me. I just want to say my piece, and be done with it. Does that make sense?

Case in point: I once wrote a personal story about my experience during a CNY reunion dinner. An uncle decided it was his place to tell me that “I had a pretty face, but it would be better if I lost some weight.” I didn’t want to cause a scene coz my parents were there, but I went home and wrote a scathing piece on my blog – which somehow went viral (because nosy, rude relatives are a fixture in every Chinese family and I’m sure a lot of people can relate). The BBC even contacted me to write a lifestyle piece for them on a somewhat related topic, which I think was the pinnacle(?) of my career as a writer lol.

But the result was that it somehow got back to the fam. That uncle has not spoken to me ever since, and my mom now uses this as arsenal whenever we have an argument and I say I don’t care (“oh but you do, you wrote that piece about uncle X, didn’t you?”)

See what I mean?

I’ve been toying with the idea of doing Patreon for some time now, because I’m writing stuff on this blog anyway – why not have a dedicated space for more personal topics? So I’ve decided that I’ll be putting up all my personal posts on Patreon. This way, I can write – no-holds barred – and really share my thoughts on things. Maybe I won’t have any readers – or the community interaction I enjoy here on WordPress –  but it will sure be a load off my chest, and I’ll have the freedom to write whatever I want.

I realise this must sound like a very poor pitch – I’ve never been good at sales pitches or asking people to do things – but if you like, please subscribe to my Patreon. I already have a couple of posts and good ideas lined up, and it would mean the world to me to earn a little from this otherwise expensive hobby (been blogging for eight years, never earned more than 400 USD). That comes up to about 50 USD a year, or around 10 cents a day. (If that isn’t the embodiment of the starving, melancholic writer stereotype, I don’t know what is.) But whether or not you’ve been following this blog for some time, or if you’re new, or just stumbled on this by accident, I just want to say a big thank you for spending your precious time to read whatever I have to say. Thank you, and I hope you continue to support this channel, and if you don’t like the content, let me know what I can improve on.

Til the next post!

 

Special Request : A Short Story

Hey guys! 

I don’t know what I clicked on my Google Docs last night, but I unearthed a short story I wrote back in 2015. I think I submitted it for a FIXI (that’s a local indie publisher here in Malaysia) anthology. Needless to say, it wasn’t selected 😛 I’m still pretty happy with it though, so rather than let it languish in storage, I’ve decided to share it with you guys here. Enjoy, and let me know what you think! 

PS: I wish I could still write like this. I don’t think my creative writing skills have improved over the years (rather, they’ve deteriorated because uninspired. lol) 

Special Request

by Eris Choo

Khoo felt relief wash over him (or maybe it was just the rush of cold air) when he finally stepped into the cool, air-conditioned interior of the fast food restaurant. Parking in SS2 was a nightmare – he had been driving around for half an hour, and the only available spot was still a ten minute walk away. Now his shirt was stuck to his back with sweat. He wiped some off his brow, adjusted the heavy backpack over his shoulder and took a moment to catch his breath. 

It was close to lunch hour, and the place was filling up with customers. Khoo fell into line behind a little boy and his mother. The boy was having a minor meltdown as he pointed at three yellow and blue figurines displayed on a nearby glass shelf. 

Nak Minion! Nak Minion!” he pleaded, stomping his tiny feet and tugging hard on his mother’s sleeve. She shushed him. Spurned, the boy flopped onto the floor like a starfish, wailing his lungs out. “Minionnnnn! Nak Minionnnn!” he screamed, as if his very life depended on it. The poor, harried mother, who already had her hands full with shopping bags, tried to pull him to his feet. People were starting to stare. Some shook their heads, others looked annoyed. 

Ok, mak beli, mak beli set Minion. Diam boleh tak?” she hissed, defeated. The boy immediately subsided, watching quietly as his mother ordered a child’s set meal and one for herself. He unwrapped the Minion toy and hugged it to his chest, happy that his wish was fulfilled, while the mother clucked and told him to find a seat. 

Khoo smiled. He remembered a time when Mandy was younger; she had been quite the handful herself. He recalled how she had climbed onto the roof to get the badminton shuttlecock – nearly gave him a heart attack when he came home from work and saw his daughter clambering up the pipes on the side of the house like some monkey, her long ponytail swinging behind her. He had screamed at her to get down before she broke her neck, but his little girl had climbed right up to the top, then sat on the roof and waved at him. The cheek! But that was Mandy alright – she always did what she wanted to, even when her father told her otherwise. 

“Hi, sir. Makan sini ke bungkus?” the petite Malay girl behind the counter asked, snapping Khoo out of his reverie. 

He ordered a medium coke for dine-in. Drink in hand, he climbed up the stairs. 

Am I really going through with this? he thought. His feet felt heavy. With each step, his heartbeat seemed to get louder and louder, until it roared in his ears and blocked out all other noise, just as he reached the restaurant’s second floor. 

He’ll be in the corner, with a book. KL Noir: Red, if he’s open for business. 

Sure enough, there he was. 

Khoo was taken aback by the man’s appearance. He was expecting someone big and burly, with gorilla-like arms covered in tattoos…or maybe a tough-looking thug in shades and a black coat, like in those gangster movies. 

Instead, sitting with his back to the glass window overlooking the street was a thin but athletic youth. He couldn’t be older than 25. Dressed in a grey turtleneck and black-rimmed glasses, he might as well have been auditioning for a part as Steve Jobs in a biopic. Mandy would have called him ‘one of those hipster dudes’.

The thought of his daughter hardened his resolution. He clenched his fists, walked over and sat down at the table. 

The guy didn’t look up or make any indication that he noticed his new table mate. After a few minutes, Khoo cleared his throat. 

“Are you Zee?” 

“Depends on who’s asking,” the man replied, still not looking up. He had a deep but soothing voice, the kind reminiscent of Patrick Teoh-esque radio announcers back in the 60’s. Khoo was starting to wonder if he had gotten the right person. 

“I heard you provide… solutions. To problems,” Khoo began. 

Zee flipped a page. “For a price, yes.”

“I have a problem that needs solving.” 

Silence. Then: “If you know how to look for me, you know my fee, yes?” 

Khoo nodded. He knew as much. 

“Cash. Half upfront, and half after I deal with your… problem,” Zee said quietly. Right on cue, Khoo unshouldered his backpack and placed it onto the table. 

That finally caught Zee’s attention. He put down his book and leaned forward, an expression of polite interest on his young face. Khoo shrunk back a little in spite of himself. It was like a switch being turned on. He saw a cold, hard glint in the man’s eyes that wasn’t there before, and wondered why he had even doubted if it was the ‘right person’. He shuddered. He had been dealing with a snake – one that was hiding or pretending to be asleep, but had suddenly woken up and was ready to strike at any moment. 

“Tell me more about this problem of yours.” Zee said. 

Khoo told him. 

The man leaned back, closed his eyes and nodded. “Good. I’ll look into it. Meet me back here at the same time next week with the rest of the payment.” 

“I have a request.” 

The man smiled, more to himself than to Khoo. It was a ‘I’ve heard it all’ smile. 

“I…don’t want it to be quick. Do you understand?” Khoo asked, his voice trembling slightly. Not from shame or fear, but from anger. Mandy’s face loomed in front, like someone had plastered his daughter’s image over his eyes. “Make sure he knows what we’ve been through.” 

“That’ll cost you extra. Include that in your final payment.” the man said curtly. He got up to leave, picking Khoo’s bag and tossing it over his shoulder. 

“Wait.” Without thinking, Khoo grabbed the guy’s arms to stop him from leaving… then recoiled at the sudden thought of what those arms and hands must have done. Khoo felt a wave of shame and disgust: both at himself and the man standing before him. But he had asked for this. He had sought out Zee’s services. He was in no place to judge. 

“If there are any problems… there’s no way it can get back to me, right?”  

“Don’t worry, Mr Khoo.” The smile Zee gave him was cold. “Everything we discussed today is confidential.” 

*** 

The blaring club music was giving him a headache. Techno! Of all the terrible music genres to ever exist, this was the one they had to pick for the night. Zee, he preferred classical music. Nothing like listening to some Vivaldi after a long day at work. 

He leaned against the railing on the raised platform which overlooked the dance floor, sipping on a cold beer. The alcohol kept his insides warm, helped him to focus on the task at hand. If the night dragged out any longer, he’d have to order a soda. Mixing business with pleasure was a bad idea. When he was at work, he was focused. He had to be. 

He glanced at his watch, which said 2am. It had been a long night, tailing his quarry around. Said quarry and his bunch of friends had gotten steadily drunk as they hit almost every single alcoholic establishment in the area. Zee couldn’t even keep track of the name of the club they were in now.  

He continued watching his target, who was attempting to grind against a bunch of scantily-clad girls in the middle of the dance floor. After what felt like an eternity, the window Zee had been looking for finally opened  – the guy was stumbling toward the restrooms at the back. Zee finished off his drink in a hurry, tossed the can onto a nearby table and started down the spiral staircase. 

There was a Caution: Wet Floor sign just next to the toilet door. Perfect. He propped it up, slipped in and closed the door behind him.  

His oblivious victim was pissing into a urinal, his back to the door. The place was empty. Things couldn’t have gone any better. 

Time for some action. 

“Rodney, my man,” he said, clapping a hand onto the poor chap’s back. 

“What the fuck, dude ? Can’t a guy take a leak? What do you – ”  

Zee caught his victim in half-turn, slamming the latter’s head against the wall in one swift motion. There was a loud thunk as Rod’s skull hit the concrete wall and he slumped, dick out and all. Zee casually stuffed it back into Rod’s pants, shifted the guy’s bulk over his own shoulders and carried him outside. 

It was a good thing Rod wasn’t a big man, but even if he was, Zee wouldn’t sweat it. He’s dealt with larger people before. It’s not the size, it’s how you use it. Zee managed a chuckle, which was drowned out by the DJ dropping the beat on the deck. 

Nobody batted an eyelid as Zee half dragged, half carried Rod to the exit. It wasn’t uncommon to see shit-pissed-drunk guys being carried out of the club by their friends. Speaking of friends, Zee was careful to avoid the centre of the dance floor, where he knew all of Rod’s ‘friends’ were. Probably too busy getting their hands up some skirt, judging by his observation of the group earlier.  

They slipped out of the back door into the alley, where Zee’s car was parked. It was getting late; some partygoers were still straggling about but the crowd had thinned considerably. A girl was puking onto the sidewalk while her friend patted her on the back.  

There it was, the silver Proton – right at the end of the row. Unlocking the car with a push of a button, he carefully placed Rod onto the back seat in a sitting position. Checked the man’s eyes. Still out cold. Good. Zee grabbed a piece of rope from under the front passenger seat and secured Rod’s hands and feet. Although it was only a 15 minute drive to Zee’s workshop, he didn’t want the guy waking up in the middle of the drive and pulling some stunt, like jumping out of the moving car. That almost happened with the last guy. 

Turning out onto the LDP, he drove well under the speed limit. The last thing he wanted was for cops to pull him over for reckless driving. Now that’d be funny, wouldn’t it? 

                                                                                 *** 

It was a good hour before Rod finally came to. Zee had been reading. It was harder in the dim light of the basement, but he managed.  

“Rod, my man,” Zee greeted him cheerfully, putting down his book and walking over to where Rod was tied onto a chair in the middle of the room. “You awake? You were out cold for nearly two hours. Sorry, must have hit you harder than I thought.” 

“H..H..Who are you? What’s happening?” Ron’s voice was sick and groggy with fear, his eyes taking on the wide-eyed look of a trapped animal. A purplish bruise swelled on his head like an ugly, protruding crown. “Wh..why am I tied up? Help ! Helppp!!!” Ron screamed. 

The sound of cicadas and crickets from the surrounding jungle sang in return, filtering in through a small window at the top of the basement. 

“Quiet, Rod. I don’t want to gag you,” Zee warned, brandishing a rag. The nearest neighbour was a resort-cum-cooking academy at the foot of the hill, a good few kilometres away, but Zee didn’t want to take any chances. Rod subsided almost immediately into snivelling sobs. 

“What do you want from me? If it’s money, you can have it,” Rod said, his eyes pleading. 

Zee smiled and opened his briefcase. Relished the look on Rod’s face as the light from the ceiling bulb reflected off his shiny, just-polished instruments. All part of the show, of course. Scare them good and proper. After years in the field, Zee found that psychological trauma was always…useful. His targets were usually so scared by the end of his little display that they hardly put up any resistance during the actual business. 

True enough, Rod was already pissing himself. Zee saw the guy’s crotch darken, as a strong stench of urine filled the air. He shook his head disapprovingly. 

“Rodney Tan. Uploaded naked photos of your ex-girlfriend after she broke up with you. Threatened to put them up on the Internet if she wouldn’t have sex with you, recorded that, then put everything up anyway.” Zee made a tsk-tsking sound, holding up a chunky pair of pliers in front of Rod’s face. “What a bad boy you’ve been.” 

“I swear, I don’t know what you’re talking about – ” Rod stammered. But Zee had seen the quick flicker of understanding and panic in Rod’s eyes. He grinned. This was going to be fun. It was times like these that he really enjoyed his work. Of course, he was no saint. He had taken care of (sometimes) innocent people. But it was always the special requests which were really fun. He liked to think of himself as a sort of Judge Dredd, meting out twisted justice in a world where the corrupt and the rich and the powerful always, always got away with things. 

Here, he was jury, judge and executioner for his clients. Some clients simply wanted a quick and clean solution. Those were easy – sometimes he’d stage them as a hit and run, at other times a break-in or a robbery. 

But sometimes some clients, like Mr Khoo, had special requests. That was when Zee would bring them back to his workshop in Penchala Hills (just 10 minutes from 1 Utama Shopping Centre! How’s that for convenience?). It’s remote location on the top of the hill made it easier for him to work without being disturbed. 

Rod was babbling. “I don’t know any Mandy Khoo… you’ve got the wrong guy, I tell you. She was always making up stories about things – “ 

Come on, Rod. I didn’t mention who it was, why are you admitting it? Are you really doing this to me? To quote President Snow from The Hunger Games: I thought we had an agreement not to lie to each other.” 

“Did she put you up to it?” Rod asked hysterically. ”She..she’s lying! She was sleeping around…anyone could have put up those pictures. The lying bitch -” 

“The lying bitch is dead,” Zee said softly. Watched as comprehension dawned on Rod’s face. “She died a month ago. Took her own life. Probably while you were out partying it up somewhere, taking photos of the next girl innocent enough to be sweet talked by your lies.”

“It…it wasn’t my fault! Please! I’ll give you anything you want! We’ll keep this between us! I – “ 

“Hush. I’m just doing my job.” Zee placed a finger to his lips. “Now tell me, which one do you prefer, this, “ – he held up a plier in one hand – “or this?” – a sharp hunting knife in the other. 

“Don’t, don’t, don’t….please….” Rod’s eyes swam with tears as he made one last pitch for mercy. 

“I think we’ll go with this first,” Zee said happily, picking the plier. As he carefully positioned it over one of Rod’s securely tied hands, Rod started screaming. Zee sighed. The plier hadn’t even touched the skin. Always so noisy, especially the men. He picked the rag up from the floor and stuffed it into Rod’s mouth.  

“You and me, we’ll have a long night,” Zee muttered, casually clamping a nail between the pliers’ jaws. Pulled. The nail ripped clean off, a spray of hot blood hitting him in the face, splattering across his glasses. Rodney’s eyes bulged in their sockets as muffled screams filled the room. 

“Ah.. I’m sorry. That was messy,” Zee apologised, wiping his glasses on his shirt. “I’ll do better next time.” 

Another. And another. The room was punctuated with screams and shrieks each time the pliers jerked and pulled. 

Once he was through, Zee picked up the hunting knife. Tested it out on skin; nodded in a satisfied way as the blade sliced open flesh to reveal the pink muscles underneath. Then he started cutting. He was slow. He was deliberate. When his quarry passed out, he slapped him to consciousness again. He hummed a tune as blood flowed freely onto the cement floor, forming a large pool of deep crimson. 

After the last of Rod’s fingers had been removed, Zee finally stood up for a breather. He had been at it for at least two hours. 

“There. Not that bad lah, right ?” he cooed, placing Rod’s severed thumb into a neat box where the man’s ears and nose now sat. From the chair, the thing that once looked human made a weak, gurgling sound. 

Zee glanced at his watch. 6am. The sun would be up soon.

“Oh, my. Look at the time. I have an appointment to catch later, and I still have to clean up. We’ll just finish this off now, okay?” 

Zee took out his final piece of equipment : a 5” gut hook. As he buried the blade into Rodney’s warm, slippery insides, he tilted his victim’s head up. Zee liked to look them in the eyes and watch as life went out of them. He wanted his face to be the last thing that they saw, the face of their punisher and their saviour, come to put them out of their wretched, miserable lives. 

“Nothing personal, Rod,” he whispered, his hand warm and slick with blood up to his elbow as he felt the man’s guts spilling out onto the floor. “It’s just business.” 

***

It was Monday again. Khoo walked up to the familiar red and yellow building at the corner of the street, and walked in. The smell of french fries and chicken nuggets fresh from the fryer greeted him, and he breathed in deeply. He was ravenous, for some reason. Khoo ordered a large chicken burger, fries and a coke. To top it off, a chocolate sundae. He held the tray carefully as he carried it up to the second floor. 

Zee was sitting at his usual spot, reading. This time, it was KL Noir: Yellow. Mr Khoo sat down. Same thing – the guy hardly batted an eyelid. 

“Is everything – ?” 

“Yes. It’s done. ” Zee pushed an envelope across the table. Inside was a plain silver ring. Rod’s. Khoo picked it up absently, then dropped it in a hurry when he remembered what happened to its owner. Zee slipped it back into the envelope when he was satisfied that his client had seen evidence of a job well done. 

“What did you do to him?” Khoo whispered. He was both fascinated and disgusted at his morbid interest in the death of a man he had hired someone to kill. Not that the scumbag didn’t deserve it, a small voice in the back of his mind chimed in. It sounded awfully like his daughter’s. 

“I don’t think you’d like to know the exact details. Not over lunch.” Zee’s lips curled into an amused grin. “Rest assured, you’ll probably hear about his disappearance on the news.” 

Mr Khoo passed him a black bag, similar to the one used last week. Inside was RM50,000. 100 crisp pieces of RM100 notes in each bundle. Mr Khoo counted them out again this morning, in front of Mandy’s picture on the family altar, while his wife sobbed in the back room. She never did anything other than cry these days. 

Zee took it, running long, slender fingers over the bag’s fat curves, and smiled again.

“It was nice doing business with you, Mr Khoo. If you have anymore… problems, you know where to find me.” 

“The pleasure is mine,” Khoo said quietly. He looked down at his unwrapped burger, at the ring poking out of the envelope, at the young killer’s smiling face, then back at his food. 

“Mind if I… sit here and finish this?” 

“By all means.” 

 

2017 in Pictures

It was 2014 when I first had the idea of posting a Year in Review: a ‘recap’ with highlights of each month – as a way to look back on the ups and downs that I’ve been through, and how the experiences have helped me to grow into a better person. Life will never be smooth-sailing all the time – but I’ve been luckier than most, and I count my blessings every day.

This will be the fourth In Pictures post, and I hope to continue this tradition (hopefully!) for many more years to come. 🙂

2017 has been an exceedingly good year. There were a few downs but I’ve mostly been blessed with incredible experiences and great people. This is a personal belief, but I think the ‘personality’ of my Chinese zodiac, the horse, suits me perfectly. Horses love to run free, and likewise, I love to travel around and see new places, so I’ve been very fortunate to have a job that allows me to fulfill my passion.

Without further ado:

JANUARY

Chinese New Year fell on January this year, and the fam and I travelled back to Ipoh, Perak for our annual reunion with the relatives. As usual, the parents ferreted out some places for us to visit while in town, and we visited a Tibetan Temple for the first time.

I think part of my wanderlust and thirst for travel comes from my parents. They might not be physically adventurous in the sense that they like hiking/diving etc., but they will always seek out new experiences and places to visit. We weren’t (okay, still not actually :P) rich, but as a kid, my parents would always bring me to local destinations like Langkawi, Melaka and Port Dickson, or even to KL to see the Twin Towers, ride on the trains, visit the museums, the science centres. I think it’s very important for parents to take their children out to see the world and experience it together. Not just shove an electronic device in their face to keep them occupied, and be done with it.

FEBRUARY

In Feb, the fam and I spent a week in Taiwan, at Taichung and Taipei. The country is beautiful yet modern, with stunning nature and huge metropolises, as well as a rich Chinese culture with notable Japanese influences (from the time they were under Japanese rule). One of my favourite places was Jiufen, a rural town perched on a mountain cliff overlooking the ocean. Comprised of narrow alleyways and old buildings with unique architecture, it was said to have been the inspiration of Hayao Miyazaki’s famous anime, Spirited Away.

Another unforgettable place we visited was Shifen, which had this gorgeous waterfall.

And of course, no trip to Taipei would be complete without a picture of the famous Taipei 101. 

MARCH

After returning from Taiwan, it was off again on more travels the following month, this time to Redang Island on the East Coast of Peninsula Malaysia, for ‘work’. Yes, I put it in brackets because a lot of my friends keep telling me how it isn’t really ‘work’ when I’m enjoying it… but hey, who says you can’t enjoy work?

Okay, so it’s not a 9-to-5, stuck-in-a-cubicle job, but it’s a job nonetheless. lol

Icing on top of the cake for March: a viral story I wrote for a local portal came to the attention of BBC‘s Lifestyle section, and they asked me to write a piece for them. I think it is every writer’s dream to be published in such a big news organisation, and no matter how my writing career goes from now on, I can say I’ve ticked this off the list. 😀

APRIL

Back on the road in April, this time to Australia! The last time I was here was in 1997. It was so long ago that I barely have any memories of it (maybe kangaroos and the Sydney Harbour Bridge) but since it was to Victoria, it was a new experience anyway. It was a short trip but we managed to squeeze in a lot of things (mostly food). Spent two nights in Melbourne and the rest in the rural regions of Victoria, where we stayed at quaint hotels in the middle of nowhere, visited vineyards for wine tastings and ate a lot of delicious Australian-kampung food.

Getting lost in the bush because there was no signal coverage.

Drinking prosecco on a beautiful day out in the sunshine, surrounded by vineyards, at King Valley. 

No rest for the wanderluster! Still had the time/energy to go for a weekend trip with the fam to Kuala Kubu Bahru, a quaint town on the edges of Selangor where they have awesome chicken chop, nice hill views and this vivid pink-staircased temple.

MAY

Took a ‘break’ from travelling, but still had to attend some events for work. Got to interview the veteran Malaysian songstress, Dato Sheila Majid, for the magazine. She was really cool and down to earth, none of that diva-ish air you might expect from someone of her stature.

Discovered the wonder that is 4Fingers Korean-style fried chicken. Yes, they’ve been on the market for some time but it was only this month that I got to try it. Been addicted ever since.

JUNE

Went to my first Musical, Love Story. It was a nice production with great performances and sets, but the bro fell asleep lol.

JULY

The trip that I was really excited for finally came: Japan! As part of a media trip, we traveled to the Chubu (central) region of Honshu, spanning several historic cities such as Kanazawa, Nagoya and Nagano, as well as rural towns where we experienced a slice of the authentic countryside life. In the process, I learnt a lot about Japanese culture and the country’s history, and gained newfound respect for its people. Nowhere will you find such pride and commitment to preserving history and tradition, whilst still being one of the most advanced nations in the world.

Historic Higashi Chaya Geisha District, where geishas still perform in teahouses.

Breathtaking views of the valley at Ainokura Village, one of the last ancient thatched roof houses in the Gokayama region, where its people have lived the same, slow pace of life for centuries.

Coming back from Japan, it was a blow when I heard the news on Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington’s death. I grew up listening to LP songs and it helped me through some dark times. Never has a celebrity’s death affected me in a personal way as much as his passing. It felt like I had lost a friend.

AUGUST

August was a relatively quiet month, but got to make my own snowskin mooncakes ! Ever tried port wine and cheese flavoured ones? 🙂

SEPTEMBER

My favourite month of the year, because it’s birthday month. 😛 There’s also a lazy vibe that kicks in, being the last quarter and all. Kickstarted September with several shows, including one featuring the Sachal Ensemble, a Pakistani traditional music band. Their amazing talent aside, you will be moved by the story of these musicians, who were once celebrated in their native Lahore before war and radical Islamisation silenced their songs.

Daytrip with the fam to Jenjarom, where we visited a tranquil and well kept Buddhist temple called Fo Guang Shan.

The boyfie finally came to visit! Took him to explore (and eat) around Ipoh and KL. I missed him a lot so it was nice to just hangout with each other and do couple-y things. It’s difficult being in a long distance relationship, but we’re working things out and hopefully he’ll be here soon, for good. Fingers crossed.

Found the best tonkatsu in the world (okay, maybe just Malaysia).

OCTOBER

More fam trips! This was planned by the parents coz they heard it from their auntie/uncle friends. I was initially unenthusiastic coz Betong sounded like some backwater hicktown (except Thai version) but the trip turned out pretty fun! It was also quite an experience to drive across the border of a country as opposed to taking a plane.

The best part of the trip was probably the visit to the communist tunnels. Betong was a former communist hideout, and they had base deep within the hills. Today it has been converted into a tourist attraction, but you still need to walk pretty far into the jungle (albeit on a proper pathway) and you get to traverse the tunnels they dug as bomb shelters. Interesting insight into their lives, to say the least.

NOVEMBER

November was really busy. What with all the travelling throughout the year, I burnt a big hole in my pocket so I needed to replenish it with part time writing gigs. At the same time, two members of my staff left so I had to take up their responsibilities. The good news was the comp gave me a promotion + raise – the bad news = drowning in work.

DECEMBER

It was a spur of the moment thing but I decided to buy a ticket to Manila (again) to celebrate the boyfie’s birthday. This is our first year together. It has been like a tempest. We’re both hot-tempered so like Eminem puts it, “it’s like a tornado meets a volcano”.

He’s a tiger, and like a tiger, he’s domineering. I’m a horse, and like a horse, the thing I hate the most is being controlled or told what to do. I like doing whatever I want, whenever I want without having to explain anything to anyone. We’ve both toned down those traits so as not to lose each other. He tries to be less aggressive and domineering in his approach, and to be more mindful of my feelings, I try to be less emotional and be more understanding towards his needs. I’m used to being accountable to no one, but I realise that I’m not alone anymore, and being a couple sometimes requires finding out what the other person thinks/feels before making a decision.

So congrats, I guess you (partly) tamed the wild filly. 😛

That’s all for 2017! Once again, thank you for reading and have an awesome one ahead. Here’s to a brand new year!

 

 

 

A Day in KL

905706_10153671636943058_7440611615514044222_o

I’m not a morning person, so getting up before the crack of dawn is a big challenge (I wonder how I did it in college?).

Ever since switching jobs, I haven’t had to wake up before 8am, coz the office is quite near to my house. But there was an 8am assignment in the capital the other day… So off to the LRT I drove. The sun was just rising as I made my way to the station.

12191371_10153671682583058_5119378707423672965_o

The thing about taking public transport around the Klang Valley is you’re never on time. You’re either too early, or too late. I got there too early, so I stopped by at Old Town White Coffee @ Ampang Park. for a good ol Malaysian breakfast. The set meal was a toasted bread with butter and kaya (coconut jam), their signature iced white coffee and a pair of soft boiled eggs with pepper and soy sauce.

12183990_10153671683258058_99003656312221265_o

A little stingy on the butter. It has been a long time since I sat down to a nice breakfast like this though.

12185177_10153671712048058_7040827482094085906_o

Walking to Doubletree by Hilton, where the Software Testing Forum was held. The city was slowly waking up, as cars honked on the road and traffic built up. Tall, shiny new buildings reflected the lightening sky.

12194827_10153671832818058_8299284457734226221_o

12189502_10153671725923058_5569399490812667726_o

Arrived at my destination, listened to some speeches and did some interviews. Then it was a quick walk to nearby KLCC to catch the LRT back home.

12194861_10153671848298058_731099622544648002_o

That pretty much sums up my day in KL and a day in the life of a media person. Which is different everyday. 😀 Why I like my job.