Category Archives: Life

I am leaving (left) London for good

Over the past few days I have been to places that I occasionally go to and consciously thought to myself that it would be my last time here, like the Waterloo rail station when I travel to New Malden, or some other cities. But when the time is ticking to the final few hours in London, it struck me that I am also counting the lasts for all the places I frequented very much, such as Oxford Circus, Soho (mainly Wardour and Dean Street), and even UCL since my student card is now of expired status. In fact, my student ID will no longer need a place in my wallet. I will henceforth no longer belong to the categories that I proudly proclaim to others: “Londoner”, “a student at UCL”, or simply “I study overseas.” These were elements of myself that I enjoyed telling others all these years, sometimes in a toned-down Singaporean accent at the British immigration counters.

I loved London more with each passing year. My opinions and emotions were very conflicted in the first year. I felt like a tourist in this city, and I could not belong. I did not understand why Sundays were so quiet and dead, that it felt mildly depressing waking up to a weekend morning in the winter. In a beautiful, bustling and bright city, I felt lonely in the nights. Why does Sainsbury close at 6pm? Why does it turn dark so quickly in the winter, as early as 3-4pm? Why is it cold all the freaking time? I hardly got used to the flat culture here as well, although admittedly living with that nightmarish flatmate next to me was more fun and exciting (moaning sounds) that I could overlook the horror of her not washing dishes for weeks. It was still a mild annoyance at the back of my head, that I was in a shared space of people I do not know very well, and vice versa – this meant that I could not even express my annoyance to anyone, not even when her dishes started to take up the entire sink, and when her pan obviously stank from a week-old carbonara. No one was willing to wash it because this had happened way too much, and me, I was just a stranger with a name to my flatmates. All the hopes of having great conversations with new people just dissolved into nothingness, when I found myself hoping that the kitchen and bathrooms were empty each time I came back home. I could not get along easily with my flatmates. It took great effort to listen intently on their accents and I am sure they felt the same as they probably felt bad having me repeat what I wanted to express. The conversations never flowed smoothly, they were all mere variations of “you alright?” and “how’s your day”, and I hoped for familiarity so much. I looked upon Instagram posts of fellow schoolmates enjoying hall life and orientation camps in their various new institutions with envy. My friends seemed to all be fitting well in university hall life and made many more friends, which made me rethink my considerations for coming here. I wanted good conversations into late night too, and I wished we could enjoy jokes over bubble tea instead of cheap alcohol too. Lectures and assignments were also very different from what I had been used to, to the extent that it was difficult to adapt. I often started on my essays earlier than my British counterparts, but I just could not do well (i.e. falling short of a First). I struggled to make friends outside of the international student body despite trying; in my weekly lectures when I expected to not have Weixuan with me, I intentionally turned up to lectures later just so I would not be the lonely one standing awkwardly outside the lecture hall in the crowd of noise and laughter.

Because of all these I missed home, I missed home so so so much. I missed the comfort of home that allowed me to always wake up to someone, I missed my familiarity of places, and less awkward social interactions with people. “Meeting new people”, “getting out of my Singaporean bubble”, my foot. None of that shit happened, other than becoming more independent for sure. Many weeks I also painfully saw people meeting up over drinks and meals that I obviously could not be a part of. I missed many birthday parties, and I missed my family holidays. I do not remember crying over homesickness, but it did once get quite bad to the point that I had to delete all social media accounts for a few days when it came to RV’s 60th anniversary and the 74th MIDS commissioning parade. “I wish I could be there” continually occurred to me whenever my group of friends met up. I do not think anyone would ever feel this way if they never have been away from home for a prolonged period of time, the “cons” of migration I learnt in H2 Geography about cultural misfit and the lack of assimilation into the local community were strongly felt by me. I started communicating to people that an overseas education is far more glamorised than it should be, but I often found it difficult to put these thoughts across because I have had this overseas experience that most people within my social circle never underwent. I started becoming more withdrawn and kept these thoughts to myself, for the fear of coming off as unaware and insensitive. I knew that whenever I said something along the lines of “I know, my position is enviable, but…”, these would easily get dismissed. How could I have any rights to complain, when the world was at my feet, when I was being paid to study, and when it was a conscious decision to leave home? How am I supposed to convince people that overseas institutions are not degree mills, when it seemed that we were always travelling and enjoying ourselves? I travelled the most in my first year, but I missed home in each of those travels. Honestly, I wish I could go back in time to negate these thoughts.

Overall, Year 1 was the year I struggled to grapple with the idea of London being my second home, and having to constantly seek familiarity in unfamiliarity. I think everyone has faced these struggles, struggling to find a group of friends that we can connect emotionally with, and to find a footing in our lonely city. But I suppose your attitudes towards these things shift when they occur to you one too many, and your emotional mechanism just deals with it better gradually. Every phase in your life presents its own challenges, and I gradually dealt with those. I had no close British friends yes, but I found Korean, and I found the piano. On a usual school-going day, classes would likely conclude by noon, and on my most hardworking days I would do readings until evening, after which I would dedicate an hour to the piano, and two hours to Korean subsequently. I learnt a lot in those slow and lonely months. It was a coping mechanism through those lonely nights, that now instead of listening to old songs and feeling bitterly nostalgic, I could listen to Korean songs and learn. Week by week, I saved a lot of money by not having friends and not enjoying drinks. In no time it was the examinations and in no time I was headed home. It passed extremely quickly without me doing much, especially since my mobile phone had died on me and I had deemed it too troublesome to get a new one since my WhatsApp number was associated to my old phone.

A return to London to begin Year 2 was filled with dread and worry. I remember returning on a gloomy Sunday morning, seeing the unopened Goodge Street food stall, the familiar underground staff, and feeling so extremely lonely. These feelings quickly dissipated however, as I started changing my lifestyle habits in Years 2 and 3 with the savings I had from the year earlier. I loved my lifestyle in Years 2 and 3. I have associated my pace of life in London as what has mostly defined my London student experience, and due to what we associate with student life I think it could only be memorable. In the midst of the busy and stressful seasons, I still could always find time to grab a meal at Soho, and I could always find time to watch dramas mindlessly without feeling guilty in the late nights. I continued to busy myself with Korean language because I was a terribly slow learner, which meant that I spent many days and hours studying the language. I had my Wednesdays and Friday evenings filled in Years 2 and 3, Saturday mornings filled in Year 3 when I started attending classes in SOAS. Other than that, I found myself mostly in the Science Library catching up on what I deemed unsatisfactory grades, looking forward to going home that night to watch more cheesy Korean dramas or listen to trashy Korean songs as part of my intended exposure to listening and reading Korean. Listening to Chinese music at night on headphones also no longer made it painfully nostalgic like it did in Year 1, instead it made me feel more relaxed and at peace.

I lived day by day with a routine that could not get any simpler especially through the holidays when there were zero contact hours. Most of my weekday and weekend nights were also free after 7pm, the time when I generally would call it a day at the library or when my Korean language lessons end on Wednesdays and Fridays. I would take this time to have meals with my friends, and often walk through Dean Street hurriedly to meet a friend at Leicester Square, or somewhere close by (or what we Singaporeans term as Chinatown). Walking through Wardour Street with Peng Ning and Nicole made me realise that I have unwittingly tried the food in so many outlets along that food street. I also frequented Gaza Cafe at Soho, where I would often head for dessert with the company of KPop MVs. On a few occasions when I am feeling it, I would leave the library earlier than 7pm and walk alone through the streets of Oxford Circus and Covent Garden as well. I would buy a fried chicken breast from Good Friend (a spin-off of Shihlin in Singapore), bubble tea usually from Happylemon unless the queues were too long, and some bread from Chinatown for breakfast the next morning. My Asian eating habits never left me. I would walk in circles and circles for hours around the entire West End area until I felt like going home. I did this pretty often, sometimes in response to a trigger that my time in London was running out. I enjoyed being among the crowd, the crowd of tourists taking pictures in every angle with the grand entrance pillars. Seeing families and couples go by me no longer made me homesick or nostalgic, but it made me happy seeing people travel together. It made me feel extremely lucky to be living this city, a stark contrast from the feelings of loneliness felt whenever I saw crowds in my earlier years.

After the massive travelling in Year 1, I also found that travelling excessively to more places did not necessarily bring me as much happiness as staying in a single place for a longer number of days, and enjoying the sights slowly. In all honesty, I also got lazier to plan itineraries and make travel plans — if I were to be self-entitled here, there were so many elements of travel: flight tickets that are usually difficult to purchase immediately at the initial stages of planning, accommodation plans that would usually require a rough itinerary to deem the best place to stay, and the itinerary. These would get quite tiring after a bit of repetition, and quite a bit of trouble for the 3-day to 4-day travels that most of us were only permitted due to our timetables. Coursework also started to become more intense and it meant that our holidays became busier with time, which could not make travelling worry-free. Over the years, I hence travelled less by choice, but it made my time in each city more memorable.

Now that I am home in Singapore, I feel at odds with myself. In the future I am unlikely to continue having any affiliations with this city, as I will never marry into an English family, nor will I ever seek employment in this country. I am undoubtedly happy to be back in my comfort zone, being able to take buses without checking the GPS every 3 minutes to check my location, being able to walk to the train station without even an inch of thought about locating it, being able to order food or buy things with my accent, very comfortably. Yet my overall detachment from the city of London as a whole makes me feel really sad, that I no longer belong to London, and now that I am here it seems as if the ‘me’ there and then had never even existed in the first place. Global cities like London are just a transient piece of land for the many who create associations and move on somewhere after a number of years, being rooted fundamentally in a different place. I am just one of the many who had the honour of calling London his or her home once upon a time. Even today, looking at Instagram stories of people travelling in London makes me feel slightly odd, and seeing pictures of the many corners of the UCL campus I once frequented washes an extremely strange sense of nostalgia over me. I struggle to put a word to this feeling, that the entire overseas experience felt little more than a dream, my piece of the London dream that has now concluded for good.

Despite the differing feelings felt through my time in London, I thank these 3 years for letting me see so much, think so much, and most importantly, grow so much. Thank you for allowing me to realise my dream of studying and living abroad. I think London has changed me in ways that I am unable to put a finger to myself, be it through the sights and sounds, the academic components, or even through the wild thoughts that were triggered in the long and quiet winter nights. For the rest of my life, my undergraduate years will be a huge part of how I define myself.


My privilege

The issue of privilege has been on my mind for quite a while, but I never put pen to paper about my thoughts. I think I was most triggered by three incidences:

1. I was once catching up with this fellow scholar after returning for summer. I have no idea what transpired in the conversation since it took place so long ago, but the famous “is the dress blue-black or white-gold?” popped up in the conversation. He then mentioned that he did not know what I was talking about, and muttered something along the lines of “I don’t read pointless things, it’s a waste of time.”

2. I was stalking a particular set of parents on Facebook (lol oops), and it occurred to me that this set of parents seemed very educated. The mother, in particular, had the “studied at NUS” tag on her public information, which struck me as unconventional for their generation. She had a Facebook post, within which the caption states how she is very happy that her 18-year-old daughter (in RGS) is now able to think critically and beyond the surface, having had a family table’s discussion about current affairs.

3. Most notably, it would be this example. I think you might read this, so please let me know if you are uncomfortable with this, I will remove it immediately. My friend has a sibling, who in my entire life I have believed to be extremely intelligent, as she topped her school for PSLE, subsequently studied in an excellent secondary school, and even so, never failed to top her class academically year after year. She did all of this despite being from a relatively underprivileged background compared to the rest of her peers in school, who mostly lived in landed estates, or private condominiums. Despite the stellar academic achievements which definitely had not fallen short of her expectations at the eventual A Levels, however, she did not manage to obtain several scholarship opportunities, and had to end up being, in my opinion, “over-qualified” for her undergraduate offers. My view is debatable.

I started thinking hard about this only when I enrolled in university, presumably because of the people all around me. It was getting easier and easier to normalise my privilege here, that the amazing opportunity to study abroad suddenly seemed very accessible to everyone when I was placed here in time. I loved to use A Levels as the reason to “dream big”, that I could do anything as long as I wanted to, and getting here was one example. But sometimes other thoughts occur to me. Did I really get to where I am because of my hard work? A relook at my childhood would see that my above-average academic performance started from young (debatable). In Primary 1, I scored a 29/50 for my English examination, I remember my mother screaming at this grade, and subsequently I started having English tuition. It then branched out to further tuition lessons for all subjects (i.e. English, Math, Science and Chinese) tuition with my tuition teacher, because the academic demands started getting heavier. All those lessons probably created a positive effect on my academic performance, because I started doing well in school. Straight Band 1s were attained easily. I could be that lazy kid who did not do homework every day, the kid that prioritised her leveling on MapleStory over a penmanship exercise, but these never held me back from the maintenance of an academic performance good enough for the “best class”. For all these reasons, I probably already started on a higher footing than everyone else. I had schoolmates getting into fights outside school, and receiving public caning by my OM who was a “retired policeman”. How did they become involved in these vices at such a young age? I could never empathise. I did well in all my Math examinations when I was younger, and people would ask me how I did so well when they could barely pass. I probably never understood why I could do better than the schoolmates who asked me those questions. Today, I would attribute it to tuition, that I had that few hours of personalised lessons to cater to my academic weaknesses every single week. Without which I never would have understood what happened in classes, given my atrocious attitude in class.

It may not seem like a lot, but that was all I needed. I did well enough in PSLE to go to a good (not the best!) secondary school, and therefore ended up with highly-motivated peers in my classes and a great education curriculum. It probably led me all the way to today, because RV was where I heard talks about an overseas education, where I found the fire in me to strive and attain an overseas scholarship, and where I heard of people topping the nation for A Levels. Things in which I have succeeded in doing, except the last. I think the normal perception of me by other people is that I have it all, and that is not wrong. I have a great family, I have a great education, and I potentially have a great future ahead with my scholarship. What more could I ask for?

In spite of all I have said, in the process of growing up I have always felt less than my peers. I have wished on many occasions that my parents belonged to the “new generation of parents”. I never had a single musical instrument lesson until I requested for piano lessons when I was 17, when people were getting Grade 8 piano certifications at 12. I never attended swimming lessons until I was 13, and felt really awkward around all the other kids who were half my age and half my size. Why did my parents not think it was necessary at an earlier age? Interestingly, the strongest feelings of inferiority, however, hit me when I arrived in London, a feat I thought I had achieved only because I did well relative to my peers. In a city like London, it really is easy to feel small and insignificant. I have never been so surrounded by wealthy people, friends/acquaintances who have been in the best schools all their life (eg. RGPS/RGS/RJC), and have never met so many people who knew that going overseas to study was a path they were definitely going to take ever since they were in their teenage years. I never knew that international schools were so sought after by parents in another part of the world, because it gave their children a larger gateway to colleges. I never knew that so many people our age go to airport lounges, and that people our age book their seats on Business and First Class flights because comfort is necessary on long-haul flights. I think I did not even know the lounge existed until I got here. I have never been exposed to so many “first world problems” in my life, that people did not want to stay in HDBs because of the low ceiling, and that long-haul budget flights like Norwegian were obviously avoided without a thought because of the 13-hour discomfort.

People here shared different sets of concerns, that it was about acquiring a good Master’s programme for scholarship holders (i.e. Ivy League/Oxbridge), and it was about acquiring a good summer/spring internship for better graduate prospects. People casted their nets wide ever since they were a teenager, some people knew that certain undergraduate degrees provided them a competitive edge in an industry they long sought an interest in (eg. Economics for perhaps the finance industry), and therefore involved themselves in relevant internships and work opportunities before they even enrolled in their undergraduate degrees. I never had this sort of a social circle even when I was back in RV, safe to say an “elite school”, and these were all little pockets of information that I only learnt about when I came to London and looked through pages after pages of LinkedIn accounts. How would I ever know? How would I ever know what was “Big 4” for accounting, what was “Big 3” for consulting, and what was “FMCG”? Without my scholarship, how would I ever know that I could apply to all these overseas universities? My parents never told me to try. Most importantly, how did they know? Notwithstanding what I said above about how I may seem to a third party to have it all, it was really easy to lose myself in all this inferiority, to constantly feel not enough relative to everyone else here. Why was I not born smarter, so that I did not have to worry so much about my grades at university? Why was I not born richer, so that I could worry less about future prospects?

In my three abovementioned examples, I would dare say that 1 and 2 had the blessing of educated parents who had a hand in creating larger mental capacities and critical thinking skills in them. I had a friend who told me that her father preferred her to take degrees like Economics and Mathematics because she would be learning hard technical knowledge, instead of general Business Management degrees. Both of us were only 16 then, I didn’t even know. My parents never finished primary and secondary education individually, how would they know to advise me? I never spoke about current affairs or higher education at the dinner table. I spent most of the time talking about pointless things with my family members, maybe the blue-black/white-gold dress, and in more meaningful topics, the occasional interjection about the stock market. I never talked about worldly affairs with my family that made my problems and interests seem trivial and meaningless in comparison. Example 3 was a painful one to cite, because I am certain that most people around her knew that she was bright and deserved better compared to what she received. But maybe she was disadvantaged in this game of life because she started off on a different footing from the rest of her peers. At the point of face-to-face interviews within her scholarship applications, she would not know what she did not know. Perhaps she would not have been as adequately prepared as her many peers who had civil servant parents filling in the gaps in his/her knowledge base about government service. I find that this is the real issue of privilege, that it is bestowed upon us and normalised (or not) in our lives, that it becomes weaved into what makes us, us. It would never have been effectively communicated to me that my academic performance interrelated with my socioeconomic status – I was just doing my own part, going through the life that seemed to paved itself out slowly. I started to reflect and realise that people might probably look at what I have achieved, and perhaps irritably think to themselves to how I whine about expensive flight tickets when I managed to pay for it anyway. Maybe even the cost of driving lessons was something I took for granted too, as not any college student can afford it. Perhaps they might also wonder why I got so upset about being rejected from Oxford, when most people my age do not even bother applying as an overseas education is nothing more than a pipe dream. Most fundamentally, how could I say that I worked hard for everything I have achieved thus far, when I had tuition to better my performance at primary school level? I have become so blinded by the view from where I am standing, that I have forgotten about everything else in my life that has allowed me to stand here today.

In these thoughts, I hope to keep grounded and remember that what I have achieved today was not a mere product of my hard work, but my efforts against a backdrop of my relatively positive socioeconomic background. I hope to always remember that I am probably living the dream of someone else’s, especially in the worst days when I get extremely discouraged be it in my studies or my work. I will endeavour to be more careful with my sentences, especially when I complain incessantly about things that people may not even have the chances of embarking on, eg. long-haul flights. I will also be wary of dismissing views and opinions as “pointless” and “meaningless”, something I have unfortunately found myself on about in recent years, because not everyone has had the opportunities to grow as I have. Most importantly, rather than wishing my parents/I were richer, I hope I remember to always be thankful for the memory of a wonderful childhood.

“Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”

– The Great Gatsby

Driving Hell

I am very tempted to forgo this post to rewatch another episode of 甄嬛传, a nightly activity that I look forward to while daydreaming in the library these few afternoons, but I ought to document this milestone in my life.

I finally obtained my driving license. Damn it.

I do not complain very much about driving on this platform, but I complain so much to my friends around me, especially on Dayre. Here are the valuable screencaps of me being a ranty bird. Monday (or Sunday) blues were so damn real. I am getting shudders thinking about how I felt in the weekend before a driving lesson. It felt so ridiculous to me that I was paying so much (£30/hour) to dread something so much. I actually felt ridiculous too, because I do not think any of my friends felt this stressed and this much hate for their driving lessons. People just seem to get it over and done with. People can actually chiong their lessons to get to their test dates more quickly! How do they do that?!

One day Bowei asked me why I hated driving so much. “What’s the point of learning if you hate the act of driving?” and I realised my biggest problem was the unhappiness with the style of instruction. In almost every lesson leading up to the test I made mistakes of course, stupid ones included. Some include turning without signalling, some include making right turns without checking for oncoming traffic because I was blocked by a huge vehicle, some include using the wrong reference points for parallel/reverse parking, some include using the hand brake when my foot was still on the accelerator, and some include changing down to gear 2 even when I was going at 30 miles. All the time I get too closed to parked cars because UK roads are built so narrowly yet designated as a two-way road expecting two cars to fit through, and a couple of times I have bumped up on low kerbs.

Of course everyone makes mistakes, but what was horrible was how I felt after each mistake. The scoldings would come immediately, and if I may quote, “tell me why you did what you did (the mistake)”, “I want to know your thought process”, and on harsher occasions, “are you crazy? why would you do that?”, “how can you do the first roundabout perfectly and completely mess up on the second?!”, “you are going so slow on the dual carriageway you are a road hazard to all other the road users! Look how many cars are overtaking you!”. And when I start getting used to a high speed, “Pinky, are you speeding now? Earlier you were always afraid of speeding up, and now you are being too aggressive.” Many more comments during the driving lesson continue. I find it hard to justify why I did what I did, because most of the time, I would just like to tell her that it was a simple case of me, for the lack of a better word, fucking up. But I just keep quiet and… feel bad about myself. A bad lesson in the morning can easily spoil my entire day, especially since 2 hours of intense concentration while manoeuvring on the road can really be mentally taxing.

In fact, the problem was not with my instructor, because I have changed instructors once (male to female) and the style of instruction does not differ too much. Aloysius also once mentioned that he gets these irritating questions all the time. These comments arose from their need to be “in control” of the driving lesson, and the need to actively criticise on the move. In fact I already prefer my second instructor much more because of how quickly I improved in the first few lessons compared to the driving lessons with my previous instructor who never catered to my progress and initial ability. I think what made my lessons worse was that I was never exposed to UK roads while scooting about in my father’s car. Singapore’s roads are so much calmer despite all the road rage, and it took me a long time to come to terms with meeting traffic (the narrow road hate) and roundabouts. Gear change is a headache on roundabouts because I have to count exits, change lanes (mirrors and signal), all while trying to watch my speedo to make sure I change up/down my gears on the move. Some people get a kick out of this multi-tasking nonsense. I am not one of them – I am not a natural and I know this very well.

I am glad I pushed on despite feeling like shit almost every lesson, and I have made it here. I took a long time, and the process was definitely expensive, but I would like to think that spending more on driving lessons is still cheaper than a potential accident *touchwood* if I am not skilled enough to deal with hazardous road users and incidents. At least I am now confident enough to operate a car on my own, to go at 70mph on country lanes, and up to 50mph on busy dual carriageways. Confident enough to pull off at an angle on an uphill road without rolling back. Unfortunately, I failed my first attempt at the driving test in the first minute when parking downhill because I rolled and nearly hit the car behind me (instructor had to brake – an instant fail). I attribute that completely to test nerves, and was really glad to get parallel parking the second time round because I would have had time to warm up during the test before being asked to conduct a manoeuvre. And I passed the second time round, down to good luck with quiet Saturday traffic on the narrow roads, and perhaps simply because I was a more confident driver when lane-changing on fast roads.

First fail and second pass test sheet respectively, because I think I would like to remember my failures. I had initially envisioned my first test to be my pass, and hoped that it would reverse the curse of 19 March 2011, when I sadly led the team to obtain 6th for FSD partly attributed to a folly of mine. No, of course the date remained a curse even after 7 years later. I failed my driving test, and when I returned home that afternoon, I received my email rejection from Oxford. What a horrible day it was, and I decided to just take a nap. I will remember this shitty date for life.

Here’s the picture that everyone takes with their pass certificate and vehicle when they finally pass (as seen on many driving school websites), and this is mine.

Of course, despite all I have said about my instructor, I am genuinely thankful for her. I think any other instructor would easily have been worse (some scream and shout!), and I am thankful to the exposure of the different road types in central London. Driving in central London is a known nightmare, but I think I could do that very well now because of her. Afterall, their job is to make you a confident and skilled driver, and not necessarily a happy one. I hope these skills are transferable to the Singaporean context, and I hope to find myself on the local roads very soon too 🙂


I am very ashamed to admit that I had not properly looked at the lyrics for most of their songs other than their hit songs such as 突然好想你,后来的我们, and 如果我们不曾相遇. I conclude that songs about heartbreak usually get to the crowd most, because these are the songs that everyone can sing along to and drown themselves into when they are down in the doldrums, myself included. The concert today however allowed me to pay attention to other album tracks and I must say many of their self-composed lyrics (partly 阿信’s singing ability too) really spoke to my heart. I never knew that their songs were so personalised to their life experiences and so well-written for the same reason. I shall just post excerpts of the verses that I love the most.

1. 干杯
成熟就是 幻想幻灭 一场磨练
为什么 只有梦想 越磨越小 小到不见

天空不断 黑了又亮 亮了又黑
那光阴 沧海桑田 远走高飞 再没力气追

现在就是 那个未来 那个世界
为什么 你的身边 我的身边 不是同一边
友情曾像 诺亚方舟 坚强誓言
只是我 望着海面 等著永远 模糊了视线

2. 成名在望
那黑的终点可有光 那夜的尽头可会亮
那成名在望 会有希望
或者是 无知的狂妄
那又会怎么样 那又会怎么样

3. 顽固
你當時相信 的那些事情 會在如今 變成美麗風景
每當我遲疑 從不曾忘記 活在我心深處 那頑固的自己

4. 转眼
有沒有人 也笑憶過往 跌跌撞撞 當時的蠢樣
最平凡日子 最卑微夢想 何時才發現 最值得珍藏

有沒有人 告訴我真相 時間就是 最巨大的謊
以為的日常 原來是無常 生命的具象 原來只是幻象

5. 任意门
平凡的我們 也將回到 平凡的世界
生活中充滿 孩子哭聲 柴米和油鹽
曾和你走過 麥迪遜花園 任意門外繞一大圈
答案是「你身邊」 只要是你身邊

Their seniority in the entertainment industry (21 years!) probably played a part in how well they managed to engage with the audience, given how I was nearly moved to tears for some songs that were clearly upbeat. I also appreciated the fact that they highlighted how they, were like all of us, human, and that concert venues in Paris and London were no more than a dream for them when they started out young. They remained modest despite their relatively senior position compared to many other celebrities, and I found them really relatable for that reason. They humbly expressed that it was a great honour for them to share the large venue with many other more famous artistes (Lady Gaga and Sam Smith as a few examples that I saw). They went on to highlight how thankful they are for having moved to a larger venue (The O2) having performed at Wembley the last time they were here in 2014., yet still managing to fill the venue. The concert turnout signified to them that on the other end of the world, we are all still connected to and with the same music – the word 旋律 was used, which might be more appropriate here.

It was a beautiful night, and I hope I will see them again in the future. 也许会有一天 世界真的有终点 也要和你举起回忆酿的甜 和你再干一杯.

CNY 2018

I am currently seated on the plane on my way back to London and will be for the next 14 hours, 旁边坐着一位体臭很重的英国人, realising that there could be worse things than scoring a middle seat or sitting beside someone plump. 他真的很臭, 好像那种体育课结束了却一整天没有冲凉的臭. 又酸又臭, 真是反胃.

I probably have mentioned on my blog several times that although it was a difficult choice to make to come back twice for both holidays, I came back anyway. I am glad because I really, really enjoyed my Chinese New Year. I was only back for 6 days but these 6 days were filled with love, great conversations with my family and extended family, great food of course, and all the festive mood that I missed a lot in my past two years abroad. I am going to write this post in detail just like I did for my blog posts in the past because this festive nugget of CNY will become very very valuable in the future, when I probably will start to have my weekends and public holidays bitterly taken away from me one by one.

Eve of CNY

I arrived at the airport at 0730hrs and made it out before 0800hrs just in case I would be late for the Chinese New Year celebration in RV, and ended up arriving early at school! I did not eat at all through the 12 hours on the plane, and to say I was starving then is probably an understatement. My stomach was starting to feel really empty… so I settled for one random meal at Boon Lay Market: a random bak chor mee from a random stall. I am very sad that I wasted one meal, and ended up so full I could not eat something else for lunch.

I visited RV with Edina and Wei Xuan, and a stray boyfriend whom I sneaked in to wait for me… Although we narrowly missed the conclusion of the Chinese New Year celebrations, we were still early enough to meet all of our JC teachers (陈老师, Mr Huang, Ms Loh, Ms Lim, Mr Lawrence, Mr Ng, Mr Tan, Mr Dass, Mr Sng, Mr Lim). They have not changed much, but I am pretty sure that was how they felt about us as well. Celebrating CNY in RVHS honestly felt very far back in the past because our lives have changed so much since then; I have grown so much that I am far from that person the teachers met in school. It came as a surprise to most of them that Weixuan and I would be graduating within this year (“when did you guys graduate?!”), and I guess it is true that time really stands still when you start working. Many teachers were also more candid with their conversations given that we have graduated and are really grown adults now, especially Mr Lim and Mr Sng, and it just goes to show how quickly time has passed. I feel a bit sad that I was initially disoriented when I first entered the school, although I quickly familiarised with the place where I spent the better 5 years of my youth at.

We did not get a picture together with any teacher because it would be weird as heck to ask one and not ask the others, but here’s a photo of me being sad that I missed my personal phototaking with my own photo on the wall because it probably got removed lately. I went back too late for my own ego, so all I have is an unclear photo from my dearest friends LOL…

More miscellaneous things I did on this day: forcing HT to send me home to shower because I was perspiring too much for my own good since I was not yet acclimatised to the heat and humidity of Singapore, forcing him to enter the game shop at Clementi to look at how expensive the Nintendo Switch is, and forcing him to go home to set up the game console because I was excited to know what he thought about it. Also I would like to remember that although he proudly proclaims himself to be a gamer, he hardly knew what a Nintendo Switch was. “You bought me a Nintendo Stitch?” …..

We had our CNY eve reunion dinner at Ah Poh downstairs, where we always ate zicha whenever we had nothing to eat. HAHAHA. The 鱼生 was honestly very good though!

CNY Day 1

As usual, my family visits my 大伯’s place on Day 1 of Chinese New Year. It was a relatively quiet affair this year compared to the years when Ah Ma was still around. There were a lot of conversations going about because it had been 3 years since the last time I met them together, and lives have changed a lot since then. Most importantly, I was introduced to the game Fibbage! It was such a family-friendly game, and such a good idea because it allowed everyone to be integrated. It was especially interesting because we did not know the knowledge of one another so deeply, and it was difficult to guess what the correct answer was most of the time. Afterwards they gambled a bit, and I was a little disinterested in Blackjack so I sat out.

At night, we continued our yearly midnight movie affair and watched Jack Neo’s CNY movie 梁xi妹. It really sucked, to the point that my sister Googled the movie duration because it was getting so draggy and we were getting so restless. I even took a nap within the theatre. It was really low-budget, and because of this I think the box office would likely rake in profits anyway.

CNY Day 2

In the morning, we visited my Mom’s side (娘家). My mother said that as a married woman, you have to go to your husband’s side on the first day, and you can only visit your marital home after the first day. I am not sure how much this stands true until today, but I think I will be very sad in the future when I no longer visit who I currently perceive to be my own relatives on the first day regardless of whoever I marry. Actually, I will be sadder if I am sailing. Can’t be too greedy in life…

We first went to my Ah Ma’s house in Toa Payoh, then made the trip down to Tiong Bahru again to visit my Mom’s cousin who hosts the visit every year. Tiong Bahru is where most of my extended family is based because that was where my parents met anyway. I enjoyed the visit because I have not eaten the good home-cooked chicken curry in such a long time! The pig stomach soup was also excellent. These generation of parents seem to be extremely great cooks, and I wonder if these home-made recipes will be lost with the times. Unlike my father’s side, there were many more relatives whom I could not recognise. Many more of them were also married compared to the last time I visited, and this meant that there were significantly more red packets received this year.

The visit concluded quickly because we were only there for 2 hours. After that, I followed HT to 拜年 at his parent’s home! I also forced him to buy the Fibbage party pack for $15 hahaha and played it with his siblings. Exploding kittens too, although I died first each time… really quite suay. Forced HT to come to my house afterwards to continue playing Mahjong and Fibbage, and also forced my sister’s boyfriend to come to fill in the numbers. HAHAHA. We played till 2am on this day, although my siblings and I had trouble sleeping until 3am 4am because we were having so much fun gossiping about others. My brother only managed to sleep at 5am 6am, and he kept coming into my bedroom to disturb my sister and I when we were sleeping !@#$%

CNY Day 3

We got up early and scooted our way to 品食 at Yishun SAFRA to celebrate my Dad’s 60th birthday in advance, because I will not be in Singapore during my sister’s and my father’s birthday in early March. It was a good albeit expensive meal, especially since we had to bear some of the costs since we were helping him to celebrate LOL. I guess the time has finally come for us children to chip into family expenses. We also played some arcade basketball, where my Dad lost quite hilariously, and table soccer, that I sucked a lot at.

After that we ran my brother’s errands to Bukit Panjang and Woodlands to collect the decorations for his ROM ceremony the next day in the hot sun because HT’s aircon was spoilt LOL. I also played a round of mahjong with my parents before they left for the casino, won quite a bit to my surprise. HT and I also went out again to finally eat my treasured 麻辣香锅 after sunset, because it was sadly not open on CNY eve. Subsequently excitedly went out with HT, and ended up at Hort Park to take a shit because I was suddenly very toilet urgent after eating that intestine-triggering 麻辣香锅. We ended up heading up the hike to find the bamboo that we once mischievously carved on 1.5 years ago. I am glad we are still together, especially since we were only 2 months in then and I was still undecided over our shaky future.

Also, the random dog that I put right beside my chair to bring me good luck for my mahjong game. LOL.

CNY Day 4

I was awakened a bit between 5.45am and 6am when my brother was having trouble finding this one T-shirt that he wanted to wear, much to my amusement. Once again, my sister and I were slaves and we had to get up early to head to SPGG to help my brother do up the decorations. Thankful for HT who had to wake up even earlier to come to my place to help us carry the things to the venue. We had a good 2 hours to decorate everything, although I was mildly annoyed by the staff because they were extremely lazy that morning. We set up a guestbook table with polaroid films and a polaroid prepared, we set up the ceremonial table with a flower arrangement, pots of flowers and the two doraemon toys that HT and I caught in Japan and purchased two days prior respectively. Honestly, it was quite a simple and beautiful set up to me, and I quite liked how it looked. I wonder if my brother and sister-in-law truly likes it hehe.

It was not my first time witnessing a ROM but it felt very strange because it was my brother getting married. I remember the time my brother came home to tell me that he had a girlfriend, on the day she agreed to be his girlfriend. It was quite surprising at that time because it was not long ago that my brother told me he was genuinely interested in getting to know her, and even more so when my brother was single for a very long time. People were starting to ask him CNY after CNY whether he had a girlfriend especially as he was turning 24, 25 and 26, and still seemed to remain very satisfied with his singlehood. He got lucky, because this girl turned out to be the one after dating exclusively for nearly 6 years, and became my sister-in-law two days ago. I am really happy for them, and I wish them all the best for their incoming future.

The event ended at about 4pm and I went with HT to fix his car’s air-con, after sweating like a cow in his car for the previous few days hahahaha. The car workshops must be earning a lot of money on a daily basis, for them to have the ability to stop work for an entire week without having much repercussions on their income. After that I visited my Uncle’s house with HT, which was a very good decision because they were able to converse so well. I think most people, like me, should be extremely thankful when your partner gels well with the adults, because most are really critical of the partners that their children bring home. In fact, the conversations that we could have were even longer because my Uncle and Auntie could take the time to meet and get to know someone new. They were also excitedly showing him all my cute baby photos, things that they would not have done if I went over alone on a usual day.

For the first time, my Uncle also brought up the day when I went home after staying with them for 1.5 years from when I was born. He mentioned how I was terribly sick that day, and asked if I remembered. I was apparently down with a fever, terrible sore throat and flu. They sent me to the doctor that day intending to send me back to my parents after that. He said I was crying non-stop and refused to go home, crying to my parents that I wanted to stay with them. I suppose these things stick because until today I am still very tearful with departures. Are these the reasons why? I wonder why my parents do not really understand how I feel each time, and I suppose this is something that truly depends on an individual. My Uncle also mentioned that he could not sleep that night because he felt so empty without me sharing their bed, neither was I sleeping on the makeshift hammock that they constructed in their room 😦 He then showed HT the hook where the hammock used to be hanging about 20 years ago, and said how he had not removed it even until today.

I was also actually really sad to hear this, and I was actually trying very hard to fight back my tears because I realised how disadvantaged my Uncle and Auntie were in this game of parenting, because I would not remember their contributions to my childhood at all unless they reminded me. Honestly, they probably shaped my childhood behaviour and habits in some ways that I will never remember too. Some of the habits that they enforced might even be eroded when I return to my own parents who had absolutely different lifestyle habits. How was I to remember what happened when I was one year old? I remember that I found it very odd that I was going over to their place so regularly when I was younger to my Uncle’s invitation, because I found myself displaced when these were parents I did not live and sleep with in the same house. I even felt burdened at some points of my childhood because I did not know what kind of conversations I was to be having, especially when I got very busy with CCA and studying in my later secondary school years. I am thankful I realised, and I hope I will have many more years in the future to repay them as an adult. I am truly lucky to have two sets of parents in this lifetime 😦

After that I went home to play another round of Mahjong with my parents and my brother, and lost terribly! But it is okay to lose money to family, because family income is pretty circular anyway HAHAHA.

CNY Day 5

My last day in Singapore! I woke up at 1130hrs very miserably because I realised I was going to regret it when I get on the plane full of energy because I had such a good night’s sleep. I had a sudden craving for some Japanese food so I made my brother eat Sushi Express with me, and walked around Clementi a bit. Went home and came back to Clementi Mall again for the 328 huat LiHo – if you say “LiHo, How Are You” at 3.28pm, you will get a free drink. It was honestly quite funny la, although Guan Yin milk tea is better and Koi’s milk tea is definitely also better too.

Slacked around, regretted not downloading some dramas, and had to speed out of my house at 6pm because my father and brother could drop me conveniently at the airport on their way to the East. Thankfully managed to meet with HT before I fly off once again because he left work early to send me off at the airport. We had our very full dinner at Terminal 3 as usual, with our usual orders of 板面, 福建面 and oyster omelette. Departure will be 4 months long, and it is really quite a long stretch for us this time, the second longest duration we have ever been separated. Let’s hope he does not find a new girlfriend and forget me in this period 😦

On this note, I would like to thank HT very much, who allowed me to take for granted the fact that I would reliably have a chauffeur in all my days here, ferrying me to Boon Lay, Woodlands, Bukit Panjang, SPGG, to all my 拜年 locations…wherever, even though you stayed at one of the most obscure locations in Singapore. It was a great feeling looking through your windscreen whenever you were on the drive, seeing all my Tsums stacked nicely on the dashboard of your car, and realising that I am lucky to have you. I would probably have been very impatient as a boyfriend if I were a guy, probably also blaming my imaginary girlfriend for not being able to drive, and in those thoughts I am thankful to have found such a patient you. I am also thankful that you were not afraid at all about meeting my extended family and all the parents who have showered love on me ever since I was born. I have to miss you again for the next 109 days. You have to miss me too!

This Chinese New Year was made even more enjoyable because it is the first time I am not really taking this holiday for granted. The fact that I am now a working adult also made the festival much more meaningful because I was no longer concerned about the money I received. To provide some context, I used to count and recount my red packets to the dollar, because this pool of savings was often used to fund all the excessive expenses throughout the entire year when I was unable to save enough (eg. expensive birthday presents for my family, Korean concerts). I also cherish this holiday more because I am afraid that I may no longer get this opportunity to celebrate for such an extended period of time anymore, having been aware that Resilience sailed on two consecutive Chinese New Years (Day 1 and 2), having been aware that Freedom took a duty day on Christmas and a sailing on New Year’s Day. I also saw my public holidays going away one by one, namely National Day and Deepavali, even when I was in Singapore. My time overseas has trained me well to feel less heartache when I have to miss important events, but I know no amount of mental preparation would be sufficient given my emotional attachment to festive occasions. I hope I will be okay in the future.

Reasons why this post is extremely long: because I am extremely bored on the plane. 14 hours is no joke… after taking a quick nap at take off, typing, daydreaming and enduring the terrible smell for so long, I am only 4 hours into my flight…………….. I shall try to sleep now, and probably do some work for my seminar tomorrow. School work is frightening me because it feels as if I have been away from university for such a long time, and I hope I can find the groove to get back into work soon.


Can you see the snowfall by the small opening in the window? The lack of contrast to the rest of the background here (white concrete walls, white cloudy sky) does not allow the full extent of the snow to be seen.

It is a Sunday afternoon and I wanted to go to the library in the morning initially. I knew by experience that the library does not open before 11am having been stuck hovering outside in the cold because I was a little bit too early this one Sunday. After being fully prepared to leave the house at 11.45am (i.e. applied sunblock, filled my tumbler with coffee, filled my water bottle, packed my organiser and turned off my laptop), I got stopped because it started snowing heavily. I was initially irritated (lol off-topic but I accidentally typo-ed “irrigated”), but felt quite bad after a while because I realised snowfall was something that not everyone has the privilege and chance of seeing. It is one thing to see snow on ski slopes and in mountainous regions, but seeing snowfall is a pretty rare occurrence for people who do not often go to high latitudinal/altitudinal regions. Of course, even rarer in a city like London, where the urban heat island effect should hit so strongly that it does not even allow snow to form in its descent from the upper atmosphere.

One good example would be HT’s mom, when he sent pictures of hand-built snowmen and the snowfall in Hokkaido to his family. His mom excitedly responded to his texts with snowman and snowflake emojis on WhatsApp and expressed in Chinese that she would love to have the chance to visit a country with snow one day. Snowfall in London is almost always welcomed because it is a rare occurrence, without the inconvenience brought about by snow because of its relatively high temperatures for its latitudes….. due to the effect of the warm Gulf stream… LOL. London does not experience snowstorms, flight delays and all that associated nightmare, and there is no need to hire workers to clear and salt the roads and add friction-inducing pebbles just to make daily life a bit easier. Snow is just a prettier version of rain. Or so I think, having excitedly been out and about on a snowy day about a month ago.

Also London mostly started snowing heavily this year because before this year it was only slight and short snowing events. I have thankfully never missed any of these heavy snowy days. I don’t think it was supposed to snow that heavily today. In spite of the fact that this is wet snow (no large patches of snow are forming) and that it has stopped me once again from having a more productive day, seeing the snow fall right in front of me as I type this post is very very beautiful. It mostly reminds me how lucky I am to be studying in this truly liveable city, yet being surrounded by neighbouring picturesque regions like the Lake District that show me how beautiful nature truly is.

There is an inexplicable magic in snow that makes me more thankful to be living today, and in this depressing winter season I hope it makes everyone that little bit happier.

Place is space with meaning

It always feels interesting to arrive in London again after an extended break back in Singapore. I revisit the feelings of having a double life, most notably the strange feelings of familiarity in a foreign place when I see Warren Street and King’s Cross again.

Leaving home was less painful this time with the knowledge that I would be heading back in one month’s time – to celebrate CNY and to attend my brother’s ROM, although I am already dreading the back-breaking flight. These flights are really taking a toll on my body each time and I increasingly respect air stewardesses more and more. I also want to thank HT for being there for me each time I depart and arrive, even though you had work commitments and it might have been awkward for you to leave early. Also for always being the giving party in our relationship. Meeting and having you in my life is a true blessing.