Monday, December 19, 2016


(music: Nobody - Selena Gomez)

Two Thursdays back, I flew to Luang Prabang, courtesy of one of my best friends (I mean, it didn't cost her anything, but she sort of made it happen).

I brought my copies of both Hamiltome and the Hamilton biography. I aim to finish reading, perusing, experiencing both by the end of 2017.

Shahida joined me on Sunday, and we started her trip at L'Etranger. It's a cafe opened by a lady from Quebec, Canada whose children are filmmakers from Los Angeles. Every night, the cafe screens a film on a flat-screen TV, and it serves somewhat local-ish cuisine, so you get to sit/lie/lounge around in a wooden hut setting, eating Mekong river fish or tom yum or green curry while watching a Hollywood movie.

That night, Shahida and I got to catch Miles Ahead, a documentary (not 100% accurate, but then again, is anything?) about Miles Davis, and it was enjoyable enough. After Shahida had left Luang Prabang, I returned to L'Etranger and watched The Invitation and liked it a lot.

I had expected a feel-good movie (I tend to not read or find out anything before I watch a movie; I like surprises) but it was a mindfuck if there ever was one. I was there with some girls from Germany and Holland, a nice middle-aged lady from Philadelphia, US and a man from Ireland, and we were all like, ....dafuq was that???

I really liked the ending though, I liked it that it creeped me out so much I couldn't sleep that night.

On one of the afternoons, we cycled around Luang Prabang because it's really a charming quaint town that's really nice to explore by yourself or with company. Shahida and I discovered the best coconut ice-cream we'd ever had, it's at 3Nagas by Sofitel. I'm certain it's the best coconut ice-cream in the world, and as a self-professed ice-cream connoisseur, I must be right. ;)

If my photos look like I was there solo, it's because I'd actually posted a couple of myself and Shahida but apparently her mum is a mum like my mum, and parents will be parents (at least until I become one, which is not soon) so I decided I'd better not post anymore to keep all the people I know out of trouble.

The next morning, we woke up early to go to Kuang Si Waterfalls. If you're ever in Laos/Luang Prabang, this is a no-brainer must-do.

It's a gorgeous and serene waterfall. It's a little cold (I get cold easily so if it's only slightly cold to me, chances are it really isn't cold at all) but once you're in, it's so fresh and rejuvenating you're like what worries? what is a worry? I do not know what worry means!

And not gonna lie, the photo opps are e n d l e s s !!!!!!!!!!

I sent Joey photos at the waterfall and this is called: Joey and Sarah mintak kena terajang ;P

Also: Luang Prabang is a place where tuktuk drivers try eagerly to tout their taxi services, which reminded me of when Joey and his friends were in Japan. They couldn't get an Uber or cab, so he sent me their location to call a cab. While they were in Japan. And I was in Singapore.

Yup, this man.

He likes to use gifs and invisible ink and who-knows-what for iMessages, so it got me started as well. I think Joey and I are really immature because for one, we're usually insulting each other, and for two, for two rather intelligent people, we did something quite, quite stupid.

That night, after a long day, Shahida and I went for a massage. I like massages, especially Thai massages, the ones where you really feel your body being stretched and pulled and kneaded and I usually enjoy the pain, but this Laotian one was on another scale. I dunno if it's 'cos I'd just recovered from possibly the biggest physical, physiological and mental stresses in my life, but goddamn, the massage hurt while it was happening.

I appreciated it though, I think most of the tensions in my body were relieved.

I had a chat with the owner of the massage parlour while Shahida was still in her session. She told me about the places she'd travelled to. She says that in the south of Laos, people are not as strong as the northerners. Northerners work tirelessly but they don't get "comfortable" or "lazy", and apparently they eat a lot of chili which helps them, unlike people who can't take spicy food.

Basically I think she means if you sheltered, you weak bro. ;)

Early the next morning, Shahida left to fly back to Singapore. I spent my last full day in Luang Prabang reading at Indigo Cafe. I thought I would be alone, but it turns out I had company for the entire day.

Not gonna lie, the cat liked my lap so much I actually had a thought "this could be Joey", except that entire sentence was much more explicit than that.

She spent six hours on my lap. Fam, if there ever was a manja cat in the world, she was it.

Anyway, all things considered, I definitely recommend Luang Prabang as an R&R destination. It's really cheap, speaking of which, this time while I was travelling, I really kept bearing in mind Jemma's advice from this post.

You know, sometimes, we think in terms of the currency of developing countries in the hundreds or thousands like Baht and Vietnamese Dong and so on and so forth, so it sounds like you're saving a lot of money if you push the prices down by 200 or 2000 when in reality, you just saved yourself a couple of US Dollars.

And, sure, you might be charged slightly more than maybe a local would be there, but look at where we mostly come from. We live in Singapore, we have the highest levels of sanitation and education and comfort et cetera et cetera et many many cetera.

I realised if I save a few dollars from buying an item at one of their night markets, it just means those few dollars go towards maybe my next exorbitant meal or flight out to somewhere else "exotic". For them, those few dollars can be stretched to so much more 'cos given their standards of living, every single dollar is a dollar more to cover their daily life.


This is most likely going to be my last post of the year. I met Pamela a few days ago for dinner, and we got to the topic of my blogposts. I told her that I'd deleted my blog archives all the way up to only 2015, and her reaction was just as shocked as when I'd told Shahida, Hazwani and Lyssa.

I deleted pretty much ten years' worth of my posts, and Pamela was slightly upset (I could tell by her tone of voice as well as what she offered next). She kept asking me to email Blogger and say I'd made a mistake and meant to archive them in private, and for them to retrieve the posts, etc etc.

I was a little awed and touched but I told her she'd eventually let it go.

What happened in October, it changed me. The amount of time I even knew about it, was so very temporary. The entire month preceding that, every time I couldn't sleep or I felt tired or out of sorts, I kept thinking it was the longest period of jet lag ever known to mankind. Lololol hindsight changes everything.

It took a heck lot of ups and downs and around and around but I've learned to let things go. Hazwani, Lyssa, Shahida and Pamela were all upset too (maybe still are), which makes me feel slightly glad, perversely.

It means the things I wrote meant something to other people besides myself, whether I wrote about my trip to New Zealand with Hazwani and her lovely friends, or about God, or about politics and feminism, or all the family inside jokes with Lyssa, or one of my favourite concert experiences of Jason Mraz with Shahida, all the social media escapades with Pamela, or the musical sessions I was fortunate enough to have sat through in Huda's house, or when Khalis taught me to drum, or even my entire friendship with Syafiqin long gone and past, or the musicals I watched and wrote about (especially the one I wrote about Spring Awakening and got invited to meet the cast 'cos of my review!!!).

It all meant so much to me, everything still means so much to me. But it all goes away. Everything passes in time. I'm a different person now, entering a different stage of my life, I'll make new memories, better memories, more stable ones.

While deleting my posts (a decade's worth), I read some of them and didn't even like myself much. I have grown and come along far from the person I used to be, and I'm still learning and growing, always.

This year, I got very involved in a private feminist group, and got exposed to the terms intersectional feminism and intersectionality. I learned about privilege and witnessed it firsthand, either having it or lacking it.

Privilege is something that needs to and should be talked about, in all its forms. As a Malay in Singapore, I definitely am not part of the privileged majority race (last week in Luang Prabang, I showed the American lady and the Irish man my identity card: Singapore lists race, and like everyone else I've met outside of Singapore, they were pretty much affronted by this fact).

I don't know how to put across the idea of privilege to people who enjoy it, because they don't see that they enjoy it.

A very silly analogy I have is that I used to sort of not have the best impression of anyone who would go for plastic surgery or liposuction or diet or anything that a person feels would "improve" their physical appearance.

I would say outright that looks didn't matter, it's what's inside that's important, and while I do actually believe in that, it was also very easy for me to say looks don't matter, because I have it.

I mean, I wake up to my face every day and I'm like agh what is this, but for people who don't see my face every day, they think I'm pleasant enough to look at, I have conventionally attractive features of big eyes, clear skin, nice lips, wavy hair (okay even I think my curly hair is cool). I have good genes because both my parents are runners so I have never had to work much to keep slim, and I'm tall.

I used to think I was only tall for an Asian but even when I went to the US, I was taller than many Caucasian girls and they said I'm definitely tall. So I'm tall, slim and pretty (I say this by conventional standards but I think a lot of people are beautiful even when they don't think so). Without even trying.

After many, many times of asking my best friends or whoever it is who want to diet or do this and that to themselves, I realised there is nothing I can contribute because I don't understand what they're going through. Of course I would say there is no need for plastic surgery or dieting, but I also cannot deny there are perks I enjoy from being tall, slim and pretty (with makeup), and these may be things that are denied to people who are not conventionally attractive.

I have what is called the skinny privilege. I shop for clothes easily, everything is made in sizes for me, whereas anyone of bigger sizes feels like they don't fit in (I'm truly sorry for this pun, it literally just happened). People think I'm healthy, nobody looks at me and instantly thinks "oh she's overweight 'cos she's lazy to exercise" even though I literally never exercise.

When people look at me, they don't think "girl with a dad complex/abandonment issues and seven younger siblings", they think "that girl is pretty, she probably has it easy in life" and that's it, lol. I don't know if it makes sense to consider it as a parallel, but what I'm trying to say is it's very easy to be "blind" to the privileges that society affords you.

I'm fortunate enough I have some brains along with my looks: I might not be studying critical race or gender theory but I try to practise it in life. Even that is a privilege. If I really tried, life could work well with me. I just tend to fuck it up because I think about my issues instead of the privilege I was born with.

I really am looking forward to 2017. I think I've learned enough this year, time to start living properly and using the brains I have been gifted with. ;)

Thank you for this year. I suppose even if you factor in the two worst months of my life, this year is still my favourite so far. I have loved and laughed and lived. I went to places that will live in my heart, always. I met the most amazing people whom I fell in love with, whether romantically or platonically. And I am privileged to have done that.

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