Good Vibes Festival 2018, Malaysia (On Film)

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

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Here's Good Vibes Festival 2018 at Genting Highlands, Malaysia from 21-22 July 2018, shot with a Kodak single-use disposable camera. 

Amazing atmosphere at an open field in a little township in Malaysia, the perfect cooling no-rain weather, delicious and affordable grub, and the very best company. The weekend truly felt like a dream that I did not want to wake up from, but I'm so glad for my very first music festival experience. Damn, what a great one it was. 

Disappearing into lush greenery and misty skies.  

Location out of a fairytale, away from the hustle and bustle of city life - what a timely getaway. 

Yellow yellow dirty fellow. 

Absolutely love the acid-wash style we have going on here. 

Petit Biscuit played Sunset Lover as the sun was literally setting, providing a stunning backdrop against the stage. 

Strobe lights, dark skies, clammy bodies - but having the time of our lives. 

Thank you for making me feel so safe and secure throughout the two nights. 

The Neighbourhood. Insane stage presence, fan service and vocals - although slightly too deafening for my liking. 

What a view. 

For the sake of our physical well-being, we decided to give SZA a pass and called it a night. The cable car ride back was a serene experience, and we shared two scoops of Baskin Robins for supper. No regrets. 

A selection of intricately plated sweet and savoury pastries paired with warm and comforting English teas for hi-tea brunch to start the second day right. This was at e18hteen at Maxims Hotel and I highly recommend it for the ambiance, quality, and relative affordability. 

Hello, mister. 

Everything was great, although the scones with clotted cream and jam are worth a special mention. 

HONNE. I was so stoked to catch them live (making sure we rushed through our dinner of Korean fried chicken wings so we wouldn't be late), and I was not disappointed at all. I am absolutely in love with this band and almost every single track they have produced. 

Grooving to HONNE. 

My best friend was also there with her boyfriend - in fact, we traveled up to Genting Highlands together. I love her to bits. 

Not sure if Sir Stamford Raffles or boy. 

Lorde. I can't believe I went from singing 'Royals' incessantly in secondary four to watch her live in almost literally the middle of nowhere. Her set was predictable but great, her stage presence had the right balance of personal touch and choreographed showmanship, and her vocals are out of this world. What an absolute joy. This photograph doesn't do justice to how close to the stage we were - but thank you for making sure I got the best view. 

What a night, what a weekend, what an experience. Truth be told, I had reservations initially but this music festival was homely, welcoming and safe. 

The final sip of the hot chocolate that we both fell in love with in Genting. Somehow, neither of us ordered this drink before, back in Singapore. 

Driving down winding roads from the peak at Genting Highlands. 

Sights and sounds from the coach - this particular one reminds me of a scene from a Wes Anderson-type film. 

The famous stopover point I haven't visited in years. And nothing's really changed. 

My all-time favourite mee rebus! Hygiene levels not guaranteed though. 

Final selfie of the trip. Eyes screaming fatigue, but hearts filled to the brim. 

Best weekend of 2018 thus far. Thank you. 

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Bangkok & Chiang Mai, Thailand

Sunday, August 19, 2018

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Summer has come, and gone - although since I'm going on exchange this semester, it does feel as though summer has only just started for me and I'm really excited for what's to come! Hopefully I'll get a lot more downtime when I'm studying in Hong Kong, away from all the noise in Singapore and away from my workaholic and overloading tendencies. I definitely need some time to take a step back and re-calibrate my life. Hopefully the upcoming semester will do me good. 

Summer has been a blast though. It had equal bits of fulfilling, fun, and... educational, for the lack of a better word. Participating in the Chulalongkorn International Business Case Competition (CIBCC) 2018 checked all three boxes for me, and I'm really thankful for the opportunity once again to represent biz school. It's always a surreal experience meeting a bunch of amazing business graduates from all over the world and being constantly intellectually stimulated and pushed out of my comfort zone. 

This time, the competition, organised by Chulalongkorn University, was held in Chiang Mai, but the team decided to take a little getaway together in Bangkok.

Bangkok (19-21 May) 

I appreciated the time we got to relax together without needing to think about the upcoming competition and I'm thankful to have been put in teams that I genuinely enjoy company with. Our time in Bangkok can be easily summarized by: night markets, street food, cheap Thai massages, and literally Grab-bing everywhere (you know your company's made it once it's being used as a verb).  

Here's just some of the sights (and sounds! and smells! and tastes!) that we soaked ourselves in on 20 May, our only full day in Bangkok - and that I actually managed to capture on camera. 

White Rabbit, a quaint little cafe we found ourselves in after getting turned away from a doggo cafe due to insane queues, having quite the experience running away from our Grab driver after cancelling on him twice, and utterly disappointing Korean lunch. 

Unfortunately, these drinks weren't really able to save the day either. Although the ambiance wasn't too bad. 

Following that, the girls decided to head to Chatuchak Market, which is really an overrated tourist spot but not too bad for cheap buys. 

Quintessential Chatuchak mid-day dessert. 

Thank you for the great company not just during our time at Chatuchak, but throughout the trip - definitely found a friend in you. 

Some slightly more unique sights. 

It started raining halfway though, and we dashed through the market to seek shelter at JJ Mall, which was a pretty boring place. Once the rain stopped, we booked a Grab to take us to dinner with the guys. However, the traffic was so bad that no drivers wanted to drive into the mall, thus we headed to a more secluded place to get a ride. Though it meant more walking for us, I enjoyed it as we saw some interesting street art. 

Dinner was at Baan Phadthai in Bang Rak district and this place started my crazy obsession with Pad Thai. I love Thai food, but Pad Thai wasn't something I'd order, strangely enough considering I love my noodles. Anyway, this little plate of Pad Thai with roasted chicken was delicious and made up for the disappointing series of meals we had in Bangkok. 

Chiang Mai (22-26 May) 

Special shoutout to Thai Airways - I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of their service, food and plane (although of course, I'm only judging the planes by their appearance). It was such a non-stressful experience travelling with this airline and I'm thankful especially since I'm not the biggest fan of planes.  

We reached Chiang Mai on 21 May and had time to do a bit of exploring since the competition only starts in the evening of 22 May. Somehow, our luck with food was so much better in Chiang Mai than Bangkok - we had a pretty amazing dinner on 21 May and lunch the next day was the best one yet in Thailand, in my humble opinion. 

It was at this restaurant called Kao Soy Nimman which we were recommended to by some of the competition organisers/ online reviews. 

This unassuming omelette was to-die-for. Crispy, fluffy, fragrant and tasty - all at the same time. 

This chicken satay looked really tough at first sight - it looks like it's made out of breast meat but it was insanely tender. It didn't even need its accompanying sauces. 

I didn't catch the traditional name of this dish but I'd say the closest thing to describe it is curry noodles - with a lot more ingredients (a generous serving of prawns, squid and a whole steamed chicken leg) and crispy fried wonton skin-like crispy bits. This was good, although it did pale in comparison with the side dishes. 

Not sure if this was green curry and I didn't try it either but apparently it's good as well. 

They need a sign outside that states "amazing food sold here", really. A hidden gem. 

After the satisfying lunch, we headed to About Pencil Coffee, a double-storey cafe situated within a glass box/house that was the epitome of 'Insta-worthy'. 

Surprisingly, it wasn't crowded at all. If such a concept was brought to Singapore, it'll definitely be packed to the brim, which would greatly affect one's experience there. 


Ball pit of dreams. 

The two guys had to amuse themselves as we went wild and took photographs all over the cafe. 

The drinks here were not just good, but really affordable! I ordered the Thai Iced Tea with cotton candy and the tea was unsweetened so the melting cotton candy balanced out everything so well. I was initially afraid that the drink was going to be sickly sweet, as its appearance suggested. 

After our little cafe visit, we headed to Maya shopping mall to do some grocery shopping and also stop for yet another coffee/ tea break - this time at Cha Tra Mue, the OG Thai tea brand! By this point I think we had insane levels of caffeine and sugar running through our veins - and the competition hasn't even started. 

After that, we went back to our rooms to rest before heading out for the opening ceremony of CIBCC. We were housed in Siripanna Villa Resort & Spa, together with all the other competitors. The place was decent, other than a whole ton of mosquitoes when we first checked in as well as the occasional lack of water, but Chiang Mai's a pretty rural location so I suppose that's to be expected. 

And from here on, it's going to be the competition portion of the Thailand trip. Yes - the competition is finally starting, after all that touring shenanigans - although it isn't till 2 days later that case cracking actually begins. 

Opening Ceremony (22 May)

Dinner was at a beautiful restaurant with perfect sunset views, and we were served way too much food. Stuffed ourselves silly. 

Excursion Day (23 May)

The day started at the Elephant Nature Park, by Save Elephant Foundation, where we 'helped' with the planting of some seedlings at this park. We definitely didn't make much of an impact since this was merely a form volunteer/ eco-tourism but I'm hopeful that the money that was paid to the nature park to host all of us will actually go to a worthy cause. 

Although this wasn't the most enjoyable activity especially under the sweltering hot sun, I really appreciated the organisers' efforts in planning such a meaningful activity for us. I don't think it's a place I would have visited on my own if I were to ever visit Chiang Mai. And as an animal lover, the nature park resonated with me in that the activists rescue elephants from around Thailand and the rest of Asia who are subjected to all forms of torture to become domesticated so that they can perform tricks, carry riders on their backs and partake in illegal logging activities. 

The once abused elephants are brought to this amazing sanctuary and are left free to roam around. 

Our visit to the nature farm was rounded up with a vegetarian lunch. And following that - Muay Thai! 

There isn't much to say about this activity other than: one, I am super unfit; and two, I have zero hand-eye coordination. 

Thankfully for all of us, the organisers planned a much-needed mass Thai massage session. It was quite amusing though, because many of the competitors who weren't familiar with Asian forms of massage were a little intimidated by the prospect of it. For me, I had a most awkward session where I dashed out of my room (due to a language barrier, I couldn't explain to her why) to the washroom... um thanks Thailand street food. No regrets though, I love food, but I'm glad my stomach didn't act up too much during the actual case cracking duration. That would've been disastrous

Case Cracking (24-25 May) 

We started the morning with a visit to one of the case companies, before commencing our 36-hour case cracking period from 11am that morning till 11pm the next night. 

Although this is only my second international case competition, I daresay it may be one of the most intense ones due to its format. Thirty-six hours straight for two cases challenged us in both our physical and mental endurance - it definitely put our stamina to the test. I won't go into the details of the cases but there were moments where I felt like a prisoner trapped in a stuffy and smelly room having to rack my brain over the case problems. Respite came in the form of Pad Thai (yaaas!) and Burger King deliveries from our dear buddies, and a much-needed four-hour shower and nap break - yes that was our only break within the 36-hour time frame. 

I remember a moment when the two guys had to go to attend a compulsory Q&A session with the case company and we were left trapped in the room feeling helpless and stuck without much inspiration. That feeling is definitely one to remember. 

Thankfully, after the submissions at 11pm, we actually got to sleep before presentations the next morning (26 May). Of course, it wasn't a good night's sleep as we still had to practice - still grateful for such an arrangement though as I don't think I could have handled diving straight into presentations. Presentations went quite well right up till our wildcard round, where we faltered. 

While we didn't place in this competition, I'm still immensely proud of the two decks we produced for it. We definitely put in our best, right from our trainings during finals period till the competition itself,  and I wouldn't have had it any other way. Thank you for being such an amazing team, for being so accommodating to everyone's strengths and weaknesses. I also really appreciated the trust we placed in each other, as well as how we could be our honest, truest selves whenever we were working together. Above all, thank you for being friends - I had a blast in the nine days we spent in Thailand.

Immensely humbled to have been a part of this whole ride with this amazing bunch. Thank you guys for pushing me beyond what I thought I was ever capable of, and doing so with so much fun and laughter. 
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