Friday, January 31, 2014

Medanese

I was in the airport in Medan yesterday while transit-ing from my flight from Jakarta to Penang for Chinese New Year, when I met a lady.
She was a Medanese lady, and she sat down and started talking to me.
She'd come home to see her family in Medan (she was based in Penang) and she only came home once every three years.
The journey from the airport to her home, a small town, was a whopping 11 hour journey.
She was working in a factory, where she was paid a maximum of RM2k a month (500 Euros) at the very best. That was if you don't take any off days at all, and work on your Saturdays and Sundays.
She told me how she saved her money to send back to her kids (she had 2 kids that were staying with her family).
She spoke about her husband who was very ill now. How he used to beat her, and how he had burned her cheek with a cigarette once. (She pointed to her cheek, and indeed there was a mark there).
Initially, this might be bad of me, but I wondered if she was some kind of con artist telling me a sad story so that she could get money from me.
But no, she never asked for anything. And before you ask, I still have all my money. Nobody pickpocketted me while she was talking to me and I was distracted.
When I got on the plane, I decided I wanted to give her an angpao when we got off the plane, but I actually lost her.
I feel a bit shitty about this.

This is why it's good to travel alone sometimes. You meet new people. There are new perspectives. She had a hard life, and yet, when she spoke, she was content. She was working towards buying a farm to plant vegetables so that her life would be easy when she was older.

It again also makes you realize how blessed you are. Here we are, happily going out for drinks on Fridays and Saturdays. We're commitment free, we're young and happily, living the yuppie life.

Not far from us, there are so many people who's lives are so much harder. People who don't take things for granted. People who work really hard, and really appreciate what they have in life. We think we have problems. We're stressed at work. Our friends annoy us. Damn it, this friend is so stingy. Damn it, I only have a broom and not a vacuum cleaner. Darn, my handphone charger isn't long enough to reach my bed.

These aren't problems.

Problems are when you don't have enough money for food. She spoke to me about how her mother sometimes would eat once a day because there wasn't enough food. She spoke about how her husband used to mock her mother for staying near the forest, saying that she was nothing but a jungle lady, while her husband drank his money away.

Problems are when your husband beats you. She told me her parents showed her nothing but love and affection and asked her to come back to them when he was beating her. Burning her with cigarettes.

And, still, she finds it in her heart to forgive him. She was a Christian. She told me she prayed to God, to Jesus, to find it in her heart to take care of him when he was sick.

These are people who are so different from me, but in that half an hour conversation, it re-opened my eyes again to how lucky I was.

I was thinking about my minimalist approach to things, how I'm clearing things and getting rid of things. It's a sign too, isn't it? That you're so overwhelmed with consumerism, that you have so much more stuff than you know what to do with, till you have to get rid of it.
(Speaking of which, I have been decluttering in my hometown. I thought I didn't have a lot of things here, but boy was I wrong. I'll be posting about that later.)

These people are minimalists because they can't afford more. That's why they take care of their things and fix it when its spoilt, instead of just throwing it out and buying something new.

Of course, I am not suggesting we deprive ourselves of things. I still think it's okay to enjoy yourself and get stuff that makes you happy as long as you're really using it, and it's not just being a waste of money and space.

This lady gave me a lot of food for thought. Here I am, happily buying dresses on Asos, when that dress could really feed a family for two weeks.

So, when I go back to Singapore, I will go and look for a home where I can contribute some time and money to. If you live in a comfortable life, surely we can all help other people a little bit more? It doesn't take a lot of time or effort, and honestly is very fulfilling.

I will update you on how this goes!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Juicy

Hello!

I've been very juicy over the weekend :D

I bought a juicer!

I spent my entire weekend buying fruits and juicing - I have never in my life consumed so much fruits! I'm very bad with my eating - I hardly eat fruits, I don't drink enough water, very little veggies, you get the hint.

I decided to start making an effort with my eating because I started having a lot of tummy problems. My doctor (i don't like her, I'm going to switch to a new one) keeps giving me probiotics or gastric pills, or tells me it's the stomach flu, but I just don't believe her. I want to start healing naturally. I don't want to be okay only when I'm on probiotics.

I've been reading a lot on juicing (this I've actually been doing for the past year), but while I was very interested in it, I never made the effort to actually do anything about it. It was always about reading musingly, thinking, hmm, maybe someday I will do it.

So someday, was this weekend. My friend and I went off to buy juicers! I lugged Juicy home (that's what i named my juicer) and went off to buy a ton of fruits. Apples, grapes, kiwis, pears, lemons all entered my home and my fridge.

And whirrr!! I started juicing.

My first juice was apple, kiwi and lemon. With waaayyy too much lemon. Put less lemon, I urge you. And then all kinds of concoctions started coming out. This morning, I juiced cabbage. Warning - cabbage is really a bit of a weird tasting juice.

I'm juicing more fruits than veggies now (the only veggie I'm doing is celery and cabbage - and I don't think I will be repeating the cabbage too soon, it seems to taste much better as a soup).

It's only been a couple of days but I can already feel a little of the effects. This morning, I concocted my weird cabbage - pear - apple - carrot juice. Sure tasted weird, but it was quite a good start to the day. As the day progressed, I sipped on hot green tea, barley or water. Then as teatime rolled around, I decided it would be a good idea to have a hot chocolate, since my body is rejecting coffee as of now. I decided no caffeine, and what harm could a hot chocolate do?

Oh boy. Bad idea. I'm not sure what's wrong with my body, but lately it really pays the price for the food it eats. Coffee (and now hot chocolate) gives me such bad headaches. It makes me feel sluggish and weak.

So I think for now, I'm really going to be a lot more mindful of my food.

The only annoying thing about a juicer is the wash up. You have to disassemble every bit of that juicer and wash it immediately or bacteria will set in and some funny stuff might happen to you, which would be totally the opposite reason of why you started juicing in the first place.

Anyway, I'm heading to Indonesia tomorrow, and it's a bit of an intense schedule, because Friday I fly back to Malaysia to Penang, drive back to Taiping, head to Ipoh on Sunday, KL on Monday, and Singapore on Tuesday. So I need to be really healthy to make sure I can deal with all the travel stress!

And now...I'm feeling quite tempted to buy a blender.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Early

I had two resolutions for work this week :

1. Arrive work by 9am.
2. Eat healthier

Progress report!

I was very good this week, while I didn't manage to arrive before 9am (i was always a few minutes late, or on Thursay, 9:30am), I was well pleased with myself because the whole point of doing this exercise was to make sure I was already at work by 9:30am. 
So even though I fell short of my own personal goal, I managed to still be on time, every day, at 9:30am.
So, good.

On being healthier - I was slightly more aware on my food intake this week, so I had more fruits, and I even had a giant cup of yogurt muesli one morning. I'm not too happy with the progress on my healthy eating because it's not really going well yet, but I bought a juicer today and I'm going to start juicing!
I discovered though, that coffee is really bad for me. I used to have coffee as a pick me up but right now coffee is really screwing with my system. On days when I have it, I feel agitated, dehydrated and I have a headache. 

I mini-experimented by starting the day off with a big cup of yogurt muesli and lots of water, and I realized I had so much more energy compared to having coffee. (Hence the juicer has been bought).

Next week, I'm going to have a pretty crazy schedule because I'll be doing some travelling so it's going to be a bit more of a challenge to eat healthy, but I'll see what I can do. The objective for this weekend, however, is to juice like a maniac and try and load up my system with as many nutrients as possible! 

Next week's resolution is going to be :

1. Know more numbers at work (really know my business!)
2. Eat healthier (this will constantly be there until I'm happy and satisfied with my diet).

I'm not planning on doing anything extreme like a juice diet or feast, because the whole point of this is not to be on a diet, but just to be healthier. My main motivation is really because I have some tummy issues and I think it's really caused by my unhealthy eating, so I'm going to try and fix that.

Toodle-oo! Happy weekend, everybody!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Shaming

Skinny shaming, fat shaming, whatever you call it, it's still shaming.

"Don't you think you're too fat to pull that off?"
"Your thighs are too chunky for that skirt."
"Real men like women with curves. Only dogs like bones."
"You look like a stick."

I'm so sick of this. I don't care whether you're skinny or fat, or if I were to be more politically correct, slim or healthy, whatever. It doesn't give you the right to shame someone else just because you don't feel good about yourself. Or because you've been shamed before. It's going to be an endless cycle and it will be a cycle that's never going to end. Your grandma has probably been shamed before, your mom, you, your kid, your grandkid, and hey, probably in the year 3000 shaming will probably still be going on, although in a much more advanced and technological way.

I've always been thin. It's just my metabolisme.

I'm happy with my body, yes. It's mine and I think it's perfect! A lot of people disagree and think it's highly imperfect, but I think they should stuff themselves a big rotten eggs up in their rotten mouths.

The amount of people that come up to me telling me how I should change it is not only incredible, it's also constant.

"Are you aneroxic?" used to be the #1 question when I was younger (and thinner).
"i really don't like girls who are so skinny. I like something to hold onto when I cuddle someone," (common thing being told to me by guys. And this is without me asking.)
"You are just too skinny! Put on some weight!"
(Why is it okay, to tell someone she's skinny and needs to eat more, when it's rude to tell someone that she's fat and needs to eat less? Why? Why? WHY?)
"You're so flat! You're like a boy!" (this is something I've been hearing since I was 13. And, um, hehe, I haven't really grown in that department, so you can imagine I'm still constantly hearing it. I'm 28 this year, so wow, 15 years of being told I'm flat. Allow me to YAWN in your face, it's very boring to hear the same thing 15 years. And...do you think my telling me I'm flat I'm going to increase a cup size? Sheesh if that were to happen my boobs would be bigger than Singapore. Also, its both boys and girls that like to comment on this, it's not just boy specific as you might expect.

Anyway, I put on a little bit more weight two years ago, when I was feeling not too happy and I decided that food would be my new BFF, since it would be there always and not disappoint me. While I was still under the 'normal' range of body type, the comments then changed because I was no longer 'skinny skinny' but just 'normal'.

Nobody was telling me I was skinny or thin anymore. Instead, my guy friends were always ogling skinnier girls, going on about how hot they looked.

Huh? Why is it when I'm skinny it's a bad thing, but when other people are skinny it's a good thing? Why must I eat more?

Some people also encouraged me to start exercising if I wanted to lose weight. Or to eat less carbs. Wait, you used to tell me to eat more, and now I eat less? When can I eat normally?

Let me give you perspective. I'm 163cm in height. When I was 21, I weighed 41 kgs. 23, 43 kgs. 26 - 54 kgs. (You can tell when I started eating, hehe). Now, I'm 45kgs. (I got pneumonia and lost a lot of weight then.)

So let me get this straight, at 163cm, being 54kgs, you're telling me to exercise.

I then realized, no matter what spectrum you're at - skinny, normal, fat, it's never going to be enough. If you're skinny, people are going to call you flat and ask you where your boobs are. The amount of times guys tell me, 'har har, I must have bigger boobs than you,' is uncountable. And to those donkeys that used to tell me that, it's true. You do have bigger boobs. And it's not really a good look for a guy. What are you laughing at, O Booby Male??

If you're in the middle - then you're either going to be told to lose weight to be skinny, or to put on more to get bigger boobs.

If you're on the bigger scale of things, then people are going to be mean and call you a whale or elephant and always tell you to exercise or eat less.

The point is, there's no pleasing anyone. And I think we need to stop this kind of stupid behaviour. The first thing is we need to stop bashing different body types.

I personally do like the skinny Kate Moss, Twiggy sort of style. But I also think that Marilyn Monroe's body is ridiculously sexy. And honestly, if you're a bigger girl, and you're happy and you love yourself and you think you're sexy as hell, then you are. It's all in the mind.

I'm taking a stand today. No more shaming. If you're skinny, if you're in between, if you're bigger, JUST BE HAPPY WITH YOURSELF.

I'm not going to be cliched and tell you everyone is beautiful - because that would be a lie. Everyone is really not beautiful. There are some really ugly shitbags out there, and especially when you have a shitbag heart, it's going to come out of your shitbag face. But the perspective of beauty is skewed, and subjective. Different types appeal to different people. Some guys like skinny, some guys like curvy. Some guys like tall, some guys like short. It's just the way it is - why do we make such a big deal out of it, and have women feeling so shitty about themselves?

Embrace yourself. But, equally importantly, embrace others too.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Singaporean

I'm going to write about the Singaporean woman today - or at least, one aspect of it. 

I'm going to generalize here, but I really do find Singaporean women well dressed. There's a certain sense of style I notice all of them have. It's hard to find a sloppy woman. Yes, on weekends you will find them in shorts and flip flops, but there's something done up. Nails. Hair. Makeup. 

I find this very inspiring actually. I've always thought that one should dress up when going out - in Japan, I believe it's a sign of respect - which I think is true. It's like how you dress up for an important presentation. You accord a person respect with how you dress.

I think environment plays a big part though. In Singapore, everyone seems well dressed. There's more social pressure to be presentable. Nice clothes are easily accessible everywhere, and I don't even think that expensive (well, pick your poison. If you're going for brands, sure they're expensive). I bought my favourite yellow pair of jeans for SGD20. In Malaysia, I don't think I can find jeans for RM20. (I'm doing a dollar to dollar conversion here, which actually makes more sense than converting it) since I now live here.

I do see that Singaporeans all around the world, even when they're plucked out of their country and put somewhere else - their sense of style remains. 

Now you might say, yes, but it's a very materialistic culture, blah blah blah - ok. No argument. The point is, I find their style very inspiring.

Onto dressing better!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Never-ending

It's been six months since I started my journey into minimalism, and you would think that by now I would be sick of decluttering, or have run out of things to declutter, but you are wrong!!

It's amazing how much clutter still exists everywhere. I got into my job 4 months ago, but today I spent a good hour just clearing out papers and junk that has accumulated over the months (and only 4!). Clutter is very insidious, it seems to sneak up from every corner, every drawer and every cranny! I was very good today, I shredded all the documents I no longer need, threw out all the little things here and there that would not be used (I actually found butter on my table. A little mini pack of butter. How'd that get there??) and I felt so much clearer and more in control!

The reason why I got into work today and spent my first hour clearing my physical stuff and not my inbox (like I usually do) was because it was starting to feel like too much. And I don't know why, but for me, physical clutter really translates to mental clutter. Once my desk was clearer, so were my thoughts. I felt more organized. More okay. I started taking on one task at a time. You know sometimes how you're in the middle of doing one thing, and out pops an email about something else, and an hour later you've started on five different things but have completed nothing? Well, that's me. And today, I focused on doing one thing at a time. Finishing stuff. It felt good. 

I also took out some things from my cupboard to donate. Clothing donation is a never ending process with me. I'm very pleased to say that I buy a lot less clothes than I used to, and I've given away over 30kgs of clothes, but I still think I have a lot of clothes that are just there but not being worn. I've actually taken out a lot of hangers from my closet so I have less hanger space in the closet, and this is to force me to only put in stuff that I really want to wear. If I no longer have space in my cupboard (and it's a small cupboard) then something has to go. I no longer operate by the 'when I buy one thing, five must leave the cupboard!' rule, but now I'm trying to have a more long, drawn out process of giving away stuff (and of course, also buying less.) There's really no point in giving things away if you're going to just fill it all back up. 

Minimalism, or decluttering, is really not something you only do once a year. It's something that you do every day - and there are lots of days when I fall off the bandwagon. For instance, my bathroom is still very cluttered with all my products. BUT! I was looking at a picture of my old desk, and I'm incredibly happy to see the progress I've made. I used to be fine with living in a mess and an over-cluttered environment, but now the tolerance level to mess and clutter has become much less. 

I'm actually going to spend my weekend decluttering - not only physically, but unwinding mentally. It's only the first two weeks of the new year, but with everything charging at full speed, I need time to myself.

Happy weekend, everyone!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Clean

It has been a little bit of a stressful week at work.
First, jet lag. Baaad jet lag. Bad headaches. A flu. Nausea every time I eat. A plain, general sense of malaise.
I had no time to clean my house. Laundry was piling up. The floor was dirty. I confess, I've been staying here for 2 months but I haven't swept it before. (I mopped it without sweeping it).

Don't ask me why I have a mop and not a broom.

I cancelled my after-work plans today, and went home to sleep because I was so tired. But I looked around, and the entire place was such a mess that I couldn't stand it.

So I swept, mopped, did laundry, washed my plates.

And it is incredible how much better I feel. How much lighter.

Clutter, dirt. These things weigh you down, whether you even realize it or not. Now that everything is back in order, my heart feels lighter. I feel a bit more motivated. I'm looking forward to going to work tomorrow.

This is a pretty amazing realization for me.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Silence

There's no silence in today's world anymore.
Do you ever have a moment's peace where there's just silence?
I don't.
I've realized that every single moment is filled up with noise.
When I'm on the train to work, my earphones are on.
When I'm bored, I'm scrolling through Facebook.
We don't have empty moments anymore that allow us to think.
I tried to sit by the pool earlier today, and I felt incredibly naked not having a phone, or a book, or anything to do.
I'm going for a digital detox soon.

On another note, the past week has not been too fun for me as I've been down sick. I spent my entire weekend sleeping, and while I'm feeling slightly better (finally caught up with my sleep!) there's just a very huge overwhelming lethargy that I'm trying to fight (and am not winning).

Maybe what I need is also pure rest, rest that doesn't entail lying down surfing the Internet, or being sprawled on a couch watching TV.

It's like cheating, you're resting but not really resting.

See you another time, world. I'm going to bed.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Jetlag

Wow, I had the worst jet lag I'd ever experienced before!
I reached home Saturday night at midnight, and slept till 3pm the next day. Slept only at 2am because I couldn't fall asleep, woke up at 6am to prepare for work and cook myself breakfast.
Around 10+ I felt rather dizzy already, but I thought I could just go on.
At lunch, I picked at a mango salad and drank lots of tea...and as we were paying the bill, I suddenly started retching. My intern quickly ran to the washroom to show me where it was, where I proceeded to throw up all my tea.
Went to the doctor, who said I had a stomach flu (but I am predisposed to not believe her, she doesn't seem to be very good) and the minute I reached home, I felt like absolute death. I was hot, burning up, headachy and with a terrible sore throat.
I finally fell asleep - under my Level 6 warmth blanket (ha ha, level 6!) which I think is more suitable for a cold country than Singapore, and no air conditioning switched on, because despite feeling really hot and burning up, I also felt really cold.
I spent all of today resting, which I think is exactly what my body needed. The last 3 days in Italy were very hectic and I think my weakling body finally crashed when I got home.
So much for me being a strong woman.
I'm working tomorrow, I hope I don't throw up over anyone.

Peace out!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Mini-maximalist

It has been about six months since I started this idea of minimalism.

My mom is a total packrat and I have picked up her packrat-ism. I buy a lot. I keep a lot. I never throw anything out.

I got into this idea of minimalism when I woke up one morning and felt like I had nothing in control in my life anymore. There were a lot of things that were very uncertain for me, personally and professionally. That, and I also couldn't do my makeup at my dressing table every morning without knocking at least 5 bottles over.

I felt like my life was a mess. I needed a change.

I chanced upon my now all-time-favourite blog, The Minimalists. I like everything about that blog, from the layout, the font, the content, the pictures, the way it is written, the slightly dreamy feel to it, in short, everything. The only thing I don't like about them is they're doing a 100 city tour and Singapore is not on the list, damn it.

But I digress.
I've discovered it's more important to know why you're doing something than to just blindly do it. I was a very messy person - ask anyone at work, my cubicle was an absolute mess. I'd tidy it up, but a week later it would look like a tornado hit it again.

The idea of minimalism - or, my idea of it anyway, is that it allows you to focus on what's important in life. You take away the clutter (clutter can be physical objects, can be too many projects, or too many people) and you start focusing on what makes you happy.

So I started clearing my things. I spent about 4 weekends decluttering. I gave away clothes, shoes, makeup. It actually took such a long time, because I had so much stuff! I never realized how much stuff I had, and how much stuff I had bought where there were still price tags attached to it. Every weekend, i would have at least four big garbage bags full of stuff to donate.

Then, I found out I was relocating to Singapore. This forced me to declutter even more, because I had to fit all my stuff into my new apartment in Singapore. I wasn't sure yet where I was living, so I wanted to bring only bare essentials. My bedroom in Malaysia was about 45 square metres. The apartment (whole apartment!) that I'm living in now is 45 square metres!

So even after I moved into Singapore, I decluttered more. I had to give away 30kgs of clothes, because my cupboard here was too small.

Here's what I discovered, though.

1. I don't miss any of the things I decluttered. I was hardly using them anyway, and they were just plain taking up space.
2. I know where everything is. I used to be always stressed and rushed because I was constantly looking for things.
3. I feel lighter. And I think that every minimalist feels this, and why it can be pretty addictive.

I am far from a minimalist. I still have too much makeup (i gave away 50 lipsticks a few months ago, but I still have a lot) but I think I'm getting there.

The biggest change, for me, was my trip to Europe. I went to Germany in January 2013, and I spent about 2.5k euro in total, buying a lot of things. In fact, I bought so many things I had to buy a new suitcase to carry all my stuff.

I then went again to Germany in December 2013 (for the same time period) and I am really happy to announce that my spending has gone down by more than half (I only spent 1k Euro this time), and I actually could fit all my things comfortably into one big travel bag and one hand carry bag (which held mostly things like my travel pillow and jackets). My boyfriend was a little impressed with me for buying so much less than I had last year! It was also a bit strange, because I'm earning more now than I was in January, (I switched countries and the Singaporean currency is 2.5 times the Malaysian one) but I spent so much less.

I now know what makes me happy and what doesn't. Money doesn't make you happy, as cliched as that sounds. Of course, if you are poor and really struggling to make ends meet, then money is extremely important. I do find it slightly patronizing when people say money doesn't make people happy. I think only people who don't worry about money anymore say this.

My point here is that, instead of a new Prada handbag (which I bought in January), experiences have become so much important to me. The thrill of buying something new lasts a very short while - you hand over your cash or credit card, your fingers close upon the handles of your shiny new purchase, and you feel a rush of elation.

Then, that's it. Sure, you might feel some form of 'prestige' that you now can afford a Prada bag. But, so what? Do I need a Prada bag if it's going to cost me a bomb?

You know what I bought this time in Europe? Maybe it's a sign I'm growing older, but I was very much more interested in foreign foods! I bought bratwurst! Stroopwafels! Chocolates! Stuff I can consume. I didn't even feel the urge to walk into a Prada store.


This is me standing outside the Prada store in Milan. I didn't actually go in!


After my trip in January, I also came back to a huge credit card bill. My trip in December - debt free!

I was looking at some old pictures and saw how messy my table used to be.




What a nightmare, isn't it? Looking at this I wonder how I ever lived like this.

Now, I am honestly living with a quarter of the stuff I used to have, and i feel so much happier. I've become a little less selfish. I get a lot of beauty products since I work in a beauty company. I used to hoard and keep all of them, because I'm a bit like the dog in the manger. I've learnt that this is stupid - either I never use them because I'm 'saving' them, or they expire. Isn't it better to give it to people who would like it a lot more? 

This is just the beginning of my foray into minimalism. I honestly think everyone should just give it a shot, to see how much lighter you feel - and also you will learn you don't actually need most things. 

People say its harder to live a minimalist life when you're a girl, since we females have more shoes, more handbags, more makeup. Well, yes. I love my makeup. I love color. But minimalism isn't about depriving one's self. It's not about me living on 2 outfits and no makeup. It's about me keeping the makeup I love and use all the time. It's about maximizing my consumption. 

I now always have a bag open in my apartment. Every day, when I decide I no longer have a use for something, or no longer like something, I put it in there. It's my 'donation' bag. When you do this sort of slow, little by little decluttering, it really does add up. 

I also buy less. There is no point in decluttering and throwing things out if you're going to replace everything. This also means I can focus on quality, and not quantity. 

I'm very happy with the improvement I've made with myself. I also feel I have more time, more energy, and I use my money more wisely. 

So, give it a go. I promise you won't regret it :)


Saturday, January 4, 2014

Airport

Hello from Dusseldorf!

As I write this, an announcement has just gone off and my flight has been delayed (indefinitely) but they will tell us what time we take off. Bad weather conditions, they say. It's cold and wintery here - a mild winter, by any European's standards, but for me being brought up in South East Asia, I can't wait to be back in the sun!

These two days have been very travel heavy. First, we travelled back from Venice by 2.5 hour train, then to the Malpensa airport by another train that took 30 minutes, stayed the night the airport, flew in to Dusseldorf this morning and landed at noon, stayed in the airport (I was too tired to go downtown and didn't feel like lugging all my suitcases - or rather, have my boyfriend lug them for me) then fly about 6 hours to Abu Dhabi, transit there for four hours, then fly another 8 hours to Singapore.

Oh, and I discovered I totally forgot about my apartment keys. My apartment keys to Singapore are sitting in Milan right now, so I will see if I can pick up a spare from my landlord when I land in Singapore.

I am very tired, but very happy that I have some time to write. (I hope my battery lasts).

Europe as always, is very charming. Perhaps Europe is too big or vague a word, I was actually only mostly in Germany (a little of Netherlands and Belgium) and Italy. I like Germany - I think it's very pretty, it's clean, and it has currywurst (what's not to like?). However, I'd never been to Milan or Italy before, and didn't have much of an expectation on it. I have to say, I am pleasantly surprised at Italy.

There's a vibe to the city. It's real, it's raw, it's dirty. I have never seen a city with so much graffiti before (then again, I am not so well travelled). I loved the people, how well dressed some were, and how hoodlum-like the rest looked. My boyfriend's Italian family were super nice and the cutest couple you can find, and it's always great to have a peek into another person's culture and life.

It is always hard to say goodbye to a holiday, and to a person, but I'm looking forward to starting work on Monday. Hello 2014, hello new challenges, hello new happiness I will inevitably find!

Speaking of New Year, if you had asked me one year ago what I thought I would be doing to usher in 2014, never in my life would I have expected to spend it having a fancy dinner in Milan with a group of very nice people, watching fireworks over a river (but Malaysian fireworks are much better, sorry Milan!) and then cycling and walking home after that.

I think you never can tell what life will bring you, and how unexpected and beautiful it really can be.

Happy New Year everyone. I hope for an amazing year for all of you!