Reviving an old blog

I’ve been thinking about it for a while– about starting a website, collating a decade’s worth of solo travel & writing in a digital archive.

I knew too, that this digital archive already exists in a way– except that it hasn’t been updated for years.

I started this blog in 2010, and in the mad fodder of stereotypical young adult angst posts, were entries documenting my writing process, my inspirations, my travels. Unfortunately, the last entry in this blog was made in 2015, making it a good five years since I last touched this space.

So I dusted the cobwebs off this blog, looked through all the entries made from 2010 in a bid to clean up the gunk. Cleaned up the formatting. Reminisced about old times.

I am 31 years old this year. It is interesting, seeing these old snapshots of myself, taken a whole decade ago when I was 21. A younger time; a more restless, self-centred, and ignorant time, if I were to be honest with myself. Some entries, I deleted. Others, I switched to private mode. The rest, I retained, in an effort to preserve some historical/sentimental mementos of my youth.

Many things have changed after I stopped updating this blog in 2015. Inside my little bubble universe, I got a new job, travelled to many different countries, got comfortable with adulting, something I didn’t think I was capable of. And while my writing is still a slow, ongoing process, I am glad I kept at it, even though there were many times Real Life & Work rendered me too busy to do writing on the side.

Outside my private sphere, the world is different; kids are more worldly compared to me at their age. We’ve talked about tolerance for decades yet nationalism and rhetoric hatred is still on the rise; we’ve talked of saving the planet yet governments are still cutting down swathes of rainforest and sending their trash to other countries.

Moving forward, I am looking to populate this blog with more regular updates about my travels and writing. It may be that I will have more travel-related entries; after solo-tripping for so long, I do have many stories to tell, including my disastrous climb up Mount Merapi, and my gun range visit in Siem Reap. I can’t wait to get started.

strange unmooring

January has been draining.

After months of room-hunting, I viewed a room, signed the tenancy, and moved in within the span of two weeks. It may seem fast, but for me it was long overdue. I have wanted to move out for a while.

My new room faces Orchard Road, the heart of Singapore’s shopping district. When I look out of my window, I can see *SCAPE and the red façade of Ngee Ann City. There are two huge billboards that advertise shiny new phones and the latest Apple products. At night when I turn off the overhead lamp, the billboards flood my room with light.

The billboards – their excessive brightness – remind me of Times Square. But if I were to be honest, now that I have moved out, I am constantly reminded of my time in New York City. When I stayed in NYC I enjoyed every chore that other people must have found mundane – hauling my clothes to the laundromat, shopping at Trader Joe’s, washing the dishes, cleaning my room. And now I find myself doing the same – except I am in Singapore, and I’m shopping at NTUC instead of Dekalb Market, and there is no wind chill to make me shiver in my coat. I suppose I would grow to detest chores eventually, but for now every monotonous task is a sign I have finally hoisted off my family’s strong apron strings.

The first few days after I moved out, I was filled with a strange kind of detachment. I wasn’t elated that I had moved out. I was not sad either. For the first time in a while, I did not know how to read my future. Had I not moved out, I would have a predictable life trajectory. I’ll probably get my own flat at 35 years old, and because that would make me a homeowner, Singapore would sink its roots into me and I would be anchored here. The idea alone fills me with a form of quiet despondency.

But now that I’ve moved out, I am no longer certain of anything. I may have a room now, but I may move out in a few months. Tenancy changes, unpredictability, finances and life in general mean that nothing is set truly in stone for the next few years. It is a strange kind of unmooring.

I am not daunted by unpredictability. Now that I gained it, what I fear is losing this precious independence.

Wonderland

I had a strong compulsion to return to Coney Island for a while– to see the rides at Luna Park at dusk, to walk along the boardwalk during sunset. There was something about the neon lights and bright rides that invoked in me a certain kind of longing, as if I had a fond childhood memory there I am trying to bring back to life. Except that I’ve only been to Coney Island as a tourist, in my adulthood, so I found this strong nostalgia out of place. 

If I were to analyse it, maybe this is one of the reasons: a day out in a wonderland like Coney Island signifies a celluloid-screen childhood outing, and maybe deep down inside I crave a picture-perfect wonderland experience with someone. Maybe that is what that longing actually is, and Coney Island just happened to fit into the spot between cultural influence and expectation. 

It’s funny, because I am someone who is used to my own company; and dare I say, assured in it, preferred it, that I hardly ever feel lonely. When I am with people, I feel that I have to be ‘on’, that I must engage, that I am constantly thinking and thinking. When I am alone, I do not leave impressions, there’s no observer, I’m in that quantum state of anonymity, and it is liberating. 

Yet there are days I do get lonely. And as I grow older, I find that those days occur more frequently. Sometimes I want to be amongst people, share experiences, share a joke, communicate. Yet even as I recognise these wants, there’s a part of me that thinks: this is a vulnerability. It is a Flaw to not be self reliant.

I guess the sum of it is that I am still very much an island, but I feel, I want, more visitors now.


Please enjoy these photos of Coney Island. I am very much an amateur photographer, so the light flares are horrid, do forgive any technical and artistic flaws.

[2016 throwback] I almost died!

And that’s not even hyperbole.

In Apr 2016, I made the stupidest decision of my life – I decided to climb up Mt Merapi, ALONE, so I jetted off to Yogya one weekend for the climb.

Almost 10pm in Yogya. Waiting for our guide and driver who will take us from the city to Selo, three hours away – the village base for almost all trekking trips up Merapi. 
Feeling quite nervous about the trek. The highest “mountain” I have ever climbed is Bukit Timah Hill and that’s like 165m. Mt Merapi is 2900+m, a whole new ball game altogether. 
But if I want to trek to Everest Base Camp eventually, I gotta start somewhere. 🙂 here goes nothing!

– My FB post before the climb
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[2015 throwback] Cambodia, again

[in 28 April 2015]

I hold a lot of love for Cambodia. Decided to return in 2015 to see the temples again, and attempt other activities I hadn’t had a chance to try back in 2011. Namely…

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Northward.

Northern Ireland, despite its name and its location, is not part of Ireland at all. In fact, it is considered a region of United Kingdom.

That distinctiveness was quite evident to me when I stayed in Belfast after travelling from Galway. While I felt that Ireland was very much lush greenery and tall cliffs (and Guinnesses), Belfast felt more city-like, and there were certain parts of Belfast that reminded me of London.

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