Hello 2019

Sunday, January 6, 2019

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Hello 2019! 

I'm really excited to watch you unfold - you are one of the few years in a long time where I'm finally comfortable with my present being. I am heading straight into you with a deeper understanding of my strengths, a better control of all my commitments (no more plunging into any random nonsense), and a greater sensitivity when it comes to matters of my heart. It hasn't been the easiest road to reach this place, but I am grateful for the journey and for how everything has played out. 

You started off on a high, where I got to usher you in with a dazzling display of fireworks put up along the Victoria Harbor in Hong Kong together with someone I love. And I am finally back, for the first time in months, to bask in the comforts of home in the presence of all my family members. Little things that I used to take for granted have now morphed into the moments I treasure the most. 2019, you have indeed been good thus far, and for that, I shall let that vomit-flu-fever spate you gifted me with the moment I landed back in Singapore, go. Recovery was quick and painless - and hey, that was an easy water-weight shedding of a few pounds which you won't find me complaining about. 

But before I go ahead and plunge right into living this new year, I believe 2018 deserves a farewell. A hard-earned, deserving, goodbye hug for one of my most memorable years ever lived. It comes close to rivaling 2013 (which I've always deemed to be my "best year ever") in terms of "eventfulness". Growth opportunities-wise, maybe not that much, or perhaps I've just gotten a lot more critical about how I measure growth. Or that it's simply harder to feel a tangible sense of improvement in our sense of selves as we get older. Whatever the case, there's no need for competition anyway. 2018 was a great year for me, and I can't be more thankful. 

One of the highlights of the year was the fair bit of travelling I got to do. It's insane, to the point where this space has somehow actually transformed into a travel blog of sorts - every single post seems to be about a different country. For the first half of the year, I was lucky enough to travel to Canada and Thailand to compete in case competitions. Both were stressful, yet immensely fulfilling opportunities that pushed me out of my comfort zone and developed me a lot more than I care to admit. Then I had a little intermission of summer break where I did a fun internship stint and managed to take leave to head to Malaysia for my first-ever music festival, Good Vibes! Following that, I began my four-month journey in Hong Kong, where I got to travel to Japan, Korea and Macau as well. If you consider Macau to be a part of China (sensitive area of contention ooo), I've traveled to seven countries in 2018 alone, something I never ever expected I'd do.

I love exploring new places, and I'd jump at any opportunity to do so but perhaps it's time for a little break. Travel fatigue is a real, real thing and I hope that I'll regain that sense of wonder and excitement I used to have whenever I was headed overseas. Of course, it hasn't (yet) reached the point of dread so I'm trying to minimize the chances of that happening. 2019 will definitely include a wee bit of travelling but this one I'm really hyped for! I actually can't wait to get back in the groove of school. 

Of course, living on my own for four months in Hong Kong has been one of the biggest life experiences/ changes I've experienced this year, but I think that warrants a separate blog post on its own. I was also completely new to handling a long distance relationship, though that was something made really easy (as long as you are with the right one, I suppose). In fact, I was a newbie to the whole "being-in-a-relationship" thing for the whole of 2018, considering we only became official in December 2017. What a wild ride it has been, a wild but amazing one at that. I'll get to writing about these topics if I ever feel like it. 

Another huge feature on my 2018 highlight reel would be Social Oven 2018, a 3-day bootcamp that touches on topic of social entrepreneurship, as well as the multiple day trips, 'Social Xperience' which my team and I organised. I don't talk about this often enough, but my journey with the NUS Entrepreneurship Society has been such a long run (since my first year in university) and I can't quite believe that it has ended. As the Vice President, I don't think I've ever actively prioritized this CCA, at least in my head I didn't. Yet in hindsight, it did take up so much of my energy and time, not that I ever regretted it. It gave me a place of purpose, especially with the Social Entrepreneurship division. I'm so glad I stayed to bring the Social Oven through its second run, and absolutely none of which could have been possible without the dearest dream team (and best assistant VP ever) who brought together the best lineup of social entrepreneurs, shook up the programme with the addition of site visits and human library, and attracted a bunch of enthusiastic, passionate participants. After all the exposure to entrepreneurship, I don't know if I'd ever start an enterprise myself but I know for sure that social entrepreneurship is a mindset I'd be holding onto. 

And finally, one thing I'm really proud of is the slight improvement in the number of posts I've published on this space for 2018. From my insane over-hundred-per-year at this blog's peak, it declined to a measly seven in 2017. However, the last year saw a good fourteen posts. That's more than one post a month, and it's a real achievement in my opinion. While blogs may be a thing of the past with everyone favouring tiny little square images, I still see so much value in archiving my thoughts, emotions, and day-to-day events on a little space that will be immortalized. Sitting down to type out something takes time and effort, and it's really helpful in organizing my thoughts too. Of course, being able to read back on old posts is the best bonus - it brings back the most special and important parts of one's memories. In fact, 2019 marks the ten-year anniversary of this particular blog (though I started blogging way before on random domain names I've since forgotten). Hopefully I'll get to be more active here in the coming year - and this is a good start. 

Thank you 2018, you've been quite the year to beat. But hey, 2019, no pressure yeah. Set your own pace, get your own groove, dance to your own music - I'll just be there to join you for the ride. If I may ask though, could you hold me to just one small resolution of reading more books?

May 2019 be a good one, and here's to dedicating a lot more of my time to conscious self-improvement and self-care. Happy New Year to anyone who might be reading this, and here's sending a lot of love your way! 
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Macau, China

Saturday, January 5, 2019

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Located just an hour away from Hong Kong, it'd be illogical not to head to Macau for a short getaway considering how long we were in Hong Kong for. While a day trip should suffice, Vanessa (my travel bud and roomie) and I decided that we should just make the most out of the ferry ride there and stay for at least one night. It'd be a lot less rushed and hotel rates were also a lot cheaper than what one would typically find in Hong Kong. 

On the Friday (21 December) after our final examinations ended, we headed to the Hong Kong-Macau ferry terminal and boarded a ferry that whisked us straight to Macau. It's so convenient to travel there for a day-trip, and I was shocked to find that almost the entire vessel was packed especially since the ferries run on insanely frequent 15-minute intervals. 

While neither of us bought data for this trip, it was still pretty easy to navigate Macau with hardcopy versions of maps we printed out prior. We also took advantage of our hotel's shuttle bus service, and seemed to be the only guests who actually used the service - so it pretty much felt like a personal chauffeur. 

As for Macau, it's such a unique destination and I absolutely loved it. Kind of strange, considering how it's usually touted solely as a place to gamble, or a place that houses secret societies (the latter only if you're someone like my mother). However, I may have preferred this trip as compared to Korea (eeks, I know... what even?). Let me explain why I find Macau to be such a charm though. It has the general vibe of Hong Kong, minus the intense fast-paced footsteps and chatter. It features intricate Portuguese architecture, with confusing European-sounding street names to boot - which I find to be so interesting (Macau used to be colonized by Portugal, and Portuguese still continues to hold a co-official language status there). It delivers the rustic sights through the streets of Taipa, but also offers a semblance of opulence through the casinos and luxurious hotels located along the Cotai Strip. 

Plus, as we didn't have much planned on our itinerary, it gave us a lot more freedom to explore the few islands (Taipa and Coloane) that make up Macau. It was a great two days spent there, which we spent eating, taking in the sights and sounds, and exploring a couple of casinos (not before getting stopped at the entrance for age verification heh heh). We didn't spend a penny on those money-sucking machines though; but did gain quite a bit of weight from the trip. 

Here's hoping that the following shots do my trip justice.

A peek into the glitz and glamour of China's answer to Las Vegas, coupled with the best friggin' egg tarts I have ever eaten in my life - well, if that doesn't sound like how one'd describe a good trip, especially when considering the sheer cost and ease of putting together this little holiday, I surely don't know what else could. 
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