Would it be odd to say that I miss the person whom I used to be five years ago? Being heartbroken and displaced, I found myself in a strange and lonely place. And yet, I had the courage to be the truest version of myself. I miss being all of that.
I always found film photography a struggle as I dislike not being in control of what I am shooting. In my desperation to finish the roll, I decided to give shooting spontaneously a try. The results were pretty encouraging, I must say that I am starting to appreciate this unpredictable medium.
love these old school egg shops in Tiong Bahru Market, reminds me of wet market trips with my grandma when I was young
while some of the photos didn't quite turn out as I wished in terms of composition, I do enjoy how the medium is able to effortlessly capture the quiet moments
If I were to design a character building programme, it would involve solo hikes starting with a wild abandonment ... leaving the unsuspecting participant at a foggy trailhead with the company of a huge sign that warns of bear sightings. I would also intentionally forget to provide a bear bell.
Some film captures from my solo travels in Japan last October. I am not one to shoot film, but I picked a disposable cam up anyway just so that if I were to get lost in the forest or fall off a mountain there might be some form of documentation of my folly.
Looking through these photos brought me right back to the moments when I faced an adventure far bigger than myself.
Traveling solo is not a new thing to me. I embrace the idea and I do oddly, crave for it. This short trip to the countryside in Japan redefined what it really means to be alone. From boarding an hour-long bus ride where I was the only passenger, to alighting the bus in total darkness. I found myself in a remote part of the countryside where roads were not exactly pedestrian-friendly. With one hand dragging my bag, and the other frantically waving my phone (which doubled as a safety light) at passing cars, I made my way to the hostel in hopes that Google maps would not fail me. Arriving at the hostel was another story, where I was put through a crash course on Entomology. I spent the next few days negotiating my comfort zone with these winged and multi-legged life forms.
I'm still waiting for my certificate till this day.
2147-500 Nagakura, Karuizawa-machi, Kitasaku-gun 389-0111, Nagano Prefecture
The day starts early at 6 a.m. at the hostel. This is my favourite view that refreshes me as I brush my teeth
These amazing colours captured on film
It would be exaggerating to say that I have been completely transformed due to a single experience. But I definitely departed a braver soul than when I first embarked on the trip. Perhaps one day, I will be able to put this into a good use to pack three sets of clothes for a month-long travel.
Glad to have made the acquaintance of Kanazawaさん this trip. First impression didn't fare too well with his unusually early bed time of 8 p.m. and a lack of night life. He may be slightly old fashioned, but in his quiet and unassuming ways, he wins you over like a charm.
His unhurried demeanor tended to me like a fallen petal, even when the warm rain threatened to wash away the blush. I know I'm safe here, in this new season we call Spring. 🌸
She is the sunlight, standing by the pool,
In a garden we laced with flowers
And songs, as we walked into ourselves.
Enshrined within a tactile moment,
With no beginning, with no end,
Her brow, lifted gently by rising lotuses,
Receives the sky's deep reverence
As her eyes watch seven golden koi
Swim serenely into provinces of silence.
Then, on the left side, where the heart
Resides, her hand lifts, reluctantly,
As if compelled by lingering strands
Of bitter, ancient winds, now sadly
Come together, taking her
In ways that only harsh things can.
There is always darkness to elide,
Some purging of black light,
After which she is again
Sunlight waiting to be poems.
– Edwin Thumboo
"The Earth laughs in flowers." – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Hold that lovely thought and cover your ears while I rap an entire slew of bad puns in order to tickle Mother Nature pink with how hard I'm trying. My long overdue trip to Gardens by the Bay had me overwhelmed by how well-designed the Cloud Forest is, and had me swelling with pride as a Singaporean. Never mind that I had to race against the dimming evening light or having to jostle past hoards of tourists to get a good photo, the entire sensory experience was impressive by and large. Evidently playing the tourist card right in this get up with my Luna Half-Moon sling bag. Also wearing the same wide grin whenever I'm surrounded by Nature. ☺︎
I have nothing but fond memories of this place where I spent the majority of my time when I was in Bangkok last year.
One Day Bkk consists of a cool cafe, florist, hostel and chic co-working space all packed into one. Which conveniently gave me the perfect excuse to sleep at work.
"Flowers can't solve all problems, but they are a great start."
I love love love flowers. We were greeted by a cocktail of fragrances the moment we stepped into OneDay Wallflowers. The delightful sight of foliage occupying every inch of the space got me really excited as my eyes glazed over flowers that I can barely name. You can imagine the kind of dilemma I faced when my bestfriend told me to go wild and choose my birthday bouquet! Thankfully, their skilled florist came to my rescue and got my tiny bouquet dressed up in a cute vintage wrapping paper.
The magic immediately evaporated and condensed into pools of perspiration gathered under our pits when we stepped back out into a weather fit for spontaneous hot yoga.
I am sure the plants on the wall fixture shared my sentiments. Poor thing.
My favourite part of the day is taking time for coffee breaks where all I have to do is a five minute waltz from the co-working space to the cafe where I'd shoot up some caffeine.
At Casa Lapin x26 you can get great coffee, a decent selection of pastries, and an extra serving of eye-candies! Va-va-vrooom.
Never mind that the menu could do with some improvement, the nicely done up interior and meticulous plating attracts a stylish crowd and Insta-celebrities who visit this place for their photoshoots. It can be a problem if you are like me, I try very hard not to be caught like a deer in headlights while stuffing an entire scone into my mouth with pastry crumbles skipping down the front of my top in someone else's selfie.
Tucked in a cosy alley leading off Sukhumvit 26, you are a mere 15 minutes away from the swanky Em-district (BTS Phrom Phong station). Not sure if it means anything to you but I'm telling ye, these croissant taiyakis are the best invention after cronuts... with shoe umbrellas following closely behind and... ok you get the drift.
Won't you just loooooook at that!
Time to start planning for your next Bangkok trip. ☺︎
There are some parts of Bangkok that make me forget about the pesky heat that is constantly breathing down my neck, and that grey cloud of smog that threatens to suffocate. This green sanctuary does it for me, you could imagine my delight to have found this place!
It was a beautiful day for afternoon tea and mindless chit chat on the rustic veranda, shaded by a curtain of cascading foliage. This has got to be one of my favourite places in Bangkok to visit. Thank you my lovely M for bringing me around!! ☺︎
As I lept through the gates of Vanilla Garden, I could hear a faint angelic chorus coming from a distance. Am I in heaven?
Hang on , the last thing that happened was the obnoxious taxi driver helping himself to a big chunk of my change. I paused gliding mid-air and walked calmly towards the door which the Bake Shop staff has graciously held open for me.
This place checked everything on the list that make a great space (in my books) – a bookshop, cafes shrouded by greenery, ample sunlight, coffee and PANCAKES. Of course, they offer an extensive menu which I have yet to try because all I want to do is talk about this piece of art right here –
Puff Pancake Banana Butter Rum
It's soooo decadently good. Especially love the generous sprinkle of honeyed cornflake bunch and how the butter rum sauce gives it a caramelly texture which complements the scoop of vanilla ice cream that is served with the pancake.
This is second on the list of must-haves whenever I visit Bangkok. Spicy Wingbean salad (Yum Tua Phood) from my favourite restaurant Neverending Summer still tops the list! ☺︎☺︎☺︎
Soi Ekamai Soi 12, Sukhumvit Soi 63 Rd.,
Phra Khanong Nuea, Watthana, Bangkok 10110 Thailand
"I have a theory that we are always triangulating ourselves against three points, one of those being home or our sense of home. Sometimes another person can feel like home to us; as we travel, we often compare the sights and experiences to how they are like or different from home. And yet, if we travel long enough, sometimes the home point on the triangle is replaced with something or someone else, which feels like floating into an endless universe of possibilities. I love the way we operate to find out who we are in the world. That general search for who we are and what feels like a point in the triangle is what much of my work is about." – Rebecca Rebouche
Poem by Frank O’Hara (1926-66)
Light clarity avocado salad in the morning
after all the terrible things I do how amazing it is
to find forgiveness and love, not even forgiveness
since what is done is done and forgiveness isn’t love
and love is love nothing can ever go wrong
though things can get irritating boring and dispensable
(in the imagination) but not really for love
though a block away you feel distant the mere presence
changes everything like a chemical dropped on a paper
and all thoughts disappear in a strange quiet excitement
I am sure of nothing but this, intensified by breathing
From Frank O’Hara: Selected Poems (Carcanet Press)
*Much of Frank O'Hara's poetry was based on his life in New York
date: july 2014
destination: malaysia, penang
[part 3: food]
With an ethnic composition similar to our little red dot, it is no surprise that Penang cuisine is equally diverse. Over the few days in Penang, we had our fill of Char Kway Teow and Penang Laksa, Rojak, Prawn Mee, Lor Mee but it was never enough! I had to hold back my tears on the way to the airport just thinking about all the food we didn't get to eat.
• • •
This bowl of Penang Prawn Noodles (Hokkien Mee) is set to tantalise the taste buds. The noodles come with a hard-boiled egg and prawns, and the option to add on other ingredients such as pork ribs, roast pork, meat balls.. etc. Of course, we had to have the best and we added everything. The Penang prawn noodles (Hokkien Mee) is prepared in a very different style from the ones in Singapore. It is sweet and tangy at the same time, but nowhere as sour as Penang Laksa. The roast pork was impossibly crispy despite being served in the soup, and the flavours burst with every crunch.
Old Green House Restaurant
223, Jalan Burma , Penang 10300
The best thing to have in 100 degree celcius Penang weather would be this bowl of simple, no-frills Chendol. It was hard to hunt down the best Chendol as there were many similar stalls citing themselves as the most popular. We found the stall in a crowded alley where people nestled at the sides of the road, careful not to spill any bit of this heavenly dessert while avoiding vehicles passing through. Each bowl is packed with pandan-flavored palm floor noodles (green worms thingy), coconut milk, gula melaka and kidney beans. The coconut milk is so refreshing and light – practically a life-saver in the intense heat, and it leaves you lapping up every drop for more.
Penang Road Teochew Chendul
27 & 29, Lebuh Keng Kwee, George Town, 10100
Cozy in the Rocket
• • •
With a thriving cafe scene in Penang, we were spoilt rotten for choice when it comes to choosing where to go! I love Cozy in the Rocket for it's eccentric name, and the alluring artsy vibe. I would say that it is my favourite out of the many cafes we have visited. The vintage style cafe is completed with a touch of green, and wide windows that lets the sunlight in. The cafe extends into a beautiful courtyard where visitors can sit and enjoy the buzz from the busy street while enjoying the comfort the earthy ambience provides. Food and coffee was great, and I love the random artworks in this cafe which gave a touch of personality.
262 & 264, Lebuh Pantai
• • •
We followed a trail of cake crumbs and it led us to China House where platters of cakes were laid out before us. Like in the classic fable of Hansel and Gratel, it was practically a fat kid's dream come true.
After a very hearty brunch, we settled for a slice of lemon poppyseed cake and a slice of buttermilk chocolate earl grey cake which were both moist and delicious. The facade of China House is both traditional and contemporary at the same time, it felt like we were transported back into the glitzy era of colonial times. Definitely worth visiting. :-)
153, Lebuh Pantai, Georgetown,
• • •
Less is More.
The concept worked wonderfully for this minimal and simple cafe. It was almost like stepping into a Japanese-French styled boulangerie. The soft hues and wooden furnishing of this place provided a homely feel. We opted for level 2 seating and were in awe of a ceiling filled with patio lights. Every part of the design of the cafe was well-considered – from the use of light and space, to the canvas material the menu has been printed on. I particularly enjoy the photos on their facebook page as well.
79 Jalan Nagore
Pit Stop Cafe
• • •
There were a couple more cafes that we actually covered but here are the most memorable ones! Pit Stop was the cafe we actually literally staggered into, barely escaping the ruthless heat.
12, Lebuh Chulia, Georgetown, Penang 10200
So we have come to the end of Georgetown Trilogy, thanks for sticking around! By the end of this post, we are actually contemplating on attempting a #sweatdripsdownour___ II Penang food trip! Till then, I will be dreaming about the tasty Hokkien Mee, Assam Laksa, and Chendol ..... (breaks out in cold sweat). Have a lovely week ahead. ☺
date: July 2014
Destination: Malaysia, Penang
[Part 2: art]
It isn't hard at all to imagine Georgetown to be a home for the arts – characterised by years of history and its rich heritage, the rustic appeal of the place adds extra charm and character.
In the recent years, Penang has become a popular tourist spot among the youngsters. With Ernest Zacharevic doing his art residency in Penang, people from all over the word adjourn to join in the hunt for murals by Zacharevic scattered across the island. These murals are whimsical, and heartwarming – it is admirable how a Lithuania-born artist is able to succinctly capture the spirit of an islander's way of life.
It is obvious that tourism has become very much integrated into the locals' lives and street art tours are very popular among the tourists, ourselves included. Everywhere we went, shops are selling souvenirs, street art guides were given out, and all you have to do to track down that particular mural was to ask a local and they would tell you exactly where it is.
However it was no joke exploring in this intense heat, I have never perspired so much since my visit to Cambodia. I am so glad to have gone on this trip with my two friends, Lynette and Yahui, who willingly accommodate to my pleas to seek refuge while I was at the brink of self-incinerating. The hashtag for our trip on Instagram is also pretty much self-explanatory. #sweatdripsdownmy_____.
While we are not trying to cool ourselves down from the sweltering heat in air-conditioned cafes, we are out mural/street food hunting. We have had a lot of fun fooling around, taking pictures with the street art and trying to create our own stories in the depicted scenes. Here are some pictures from our mural hunting excursions –
Hin Bus Company
65, 52, Jalan Gurdwara, Georgetown, 10300 Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
I always had a penchant for old spaces that are given a new lease of life. This converted art space was formerly a bus deport, and this was where Ernest Zacharevic held his first solo exhibition. When we got there, most of the art pieces were sold and no longer on display but the large scale drawings that Zacharevic left in that space were equally impressive.
For the fact that we were mainly in Georgetown the entire trip, you can tell that there were a plenty of hidden alleys for us to explore, and more than enough cafes to visit to keep us cool and entertained.
In the final part of this Georgetown Trilogy (name coined by Yahui), I'll be sharing a list of cafes and food that we have conquered over the past few days. So, stay tuned. :-)
date: july 2014
destination: malaysia, penang
[part 1: sight]
Penang may be a mere 2hrs flight away from Singapore, but it was traveling back to a time reminiscent for my parents and grandparents.
Georgetown, has been listed as one of the UNESCO conserved site in the world. In recent years, the island has drawn crowds from all over the world with a reputation of its thriving art scene. Its rustic, untouched beauty reserved a part of history for all to explore. As the lustre of the town slowly faded with time, certain parts of the town is so dilapidated and left abandoned. However, it is not uncommon to see the poor making a home out of the rubble. Everywhere we went, we see old folks peering inquisitively out of their gate, a little shy and perhaps precarious about the fast changing world outside of the place they have called home for so many years. This might be a very naive thought, but I'm really hoping that tourism would help improve the lives of the islanders as Penang is largely made up of an ageing population where the old people get very little government support. :-(
The picturesque appeal of the town was undeniable. Time has evidently left its mark on the town, with its washed-out concrete exteriors and the muted pastel palette painted across the town. We found ourselves surrounded by the beautiful typography embellished in old signages, layers of textures and patterns at every corner. It was simply impossible to put the camera away. As a result, I have like a million pictures from the 4-day trip which is actually the reason why I found it so hard to blog about it. I can only resort to splitting the trip into 3 different posts to cater to the various categories of interest, so here's the first one introducing the colours and texture of the little island. Enjoy :-)
I'm so guilty of hoarding Internet space and using my squarespace account to store cat videos links in my draft box.
So it seems like we basically whizzed right past the whole of January and straight into February. Before I know it, I have my first pop-up store at The Little Dröm Store !!! Honestly, I am simply thankful to Stanley and Antoinette for this opportunity. They are also the kindest and most supportive people whom I have had the privilege to work with. It never crossed my mind that one day I will be able to showcase my works at Dröm Store with other artists' works that I love.
• • •
Before anyone thinks I'm calling it quits with the commitment that comes with being a responsible Internet crusader, I'm going to tell you what to expect to see in this space for the rest of year.
There has been a lot going on for me with my various commitments. A question that hangs on everyone's mouth when they meet me – What exactly do you do?
Well honey, let me tell you what I do. I work as a freelance graphic designer (with a specialisation in branding), which gives me the flexibility to manage and build Wood&Lead on the side. I started Wood&Lead two years ago as a creative outlet for my illustration works. I also take on freelance gigs at advertising agencies as an Art Director, and when that happens basically everything else that I dabble in starts after 7 pm or later.
This year, I plan to dedicate a lot more time and commitment to creating new works for Wood&Lead. I will be updating this space periodically (by that I don't mean only every 3 months) with new works and happenings for Wood&Lead mainly under the Illustration link on the site. And plans for bringing back my puns-on-hiatus project are currently set in place. ☺
I am also happy to share that you can now find Wood&Lead on Facebook !!! Yay.
2. stories from far away
Much has happened since my last post in london in august last year – and I absolutely regretted not being disciplined enough to update about during my time in there. and then iceland happened. and then bangkok happened. and then 2015 happened.
Expect to read up on backlogged travels tales with tons of travel photos which I risked spilling coffee all over myself for.
3. little things
Another thing that I wish I have done more of, would be documenting the little things and moments in life. I currently do this a lot on my Instagram but I hope that I can transform this blog into a drawer full of knick knacks, one that is filled with little things I love and one that makes people smile.
• • •
A reason for doing up this is to serve as a reminder to myself – to stay committed to the things that matter. To be able to do what I love is an entitlement which I do not want to take for granted. Even though it comes with sacrifices, uncertainty and many different kinds of challenges, I am truly happy. This is what I have been looking for, for years. I am happy when I draw, when I write and when I create. This is living life – one that I want to be able to share. ☺
“Life is a winking light in the darkness.”
– HAYAO MIYAZAKI
Photo by Yahui Ong / Bike BY Lynette Lee / WITH NATURAL FILTER FROM THE SUN
“creativity keeps the world alive, yet, everyday we are asked to be ashamed of honoring it, wanting to live our lives as artists. i’ve carried the shame of being a ‘creative’ since i came to the planet; have been asked to be something different, more, less my whole life. thank spirit, my wisdom is deeper than my shame, and i listened to who i was. i want to say to all the creatives who have been taught to believe who you are is not enough for this world, taught that a life of art will amount to nothing, know that who we are, and what we do is life. when we create, we are creating the world. remember this, and commit.” ― Nayyirah Waheed
I am only half kidding when I say that I need an intern to read me Tumblr quotes when I am feeling uninspired. Interested applicants please write to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
"I began spending a lot of time reminding myself that regardless of whether this has all been luck or whether I have any talent isn’t what matters. Who cares about that? What matters is that I am happy getting up every day to paint and draw. What matters is that I make my best effort every day to be myself in my life and work. What matters is that I work really hard at my career. What matters is that I am thoughtful about the work I want to make and the people I want to work with. What matters is that once it started, making art for a living hasn’t failed me. " – Lisa Congdon
Read her entire post here and agree that she is simply amazing.
[A conversation with Olly some 6 weeks ago...]
Olly: "You got to learn to be an artist."
"But... isn't that self-indulgent?"
Olly: "Who cares?!"
While you never run out of options when it comes to finding a cafe to have a good cup of coffee, there are only a few places in London where you can get a decent cronut. This piece of exciting news was what originally brought me to visit this little coffee joint in the heart of Holborn.
Stepping into Wild&Wood was like entering someone's kitchen, you might also do a double take to check if you have wandered into the Shire. It gets even more confusing when you go up to the counter to see a pixie-sized lady waiting to take your order. (I hid all my rings just in case.) This cosy nook, furnished entirely with antique church furniture, reminds one of sun-drenched days while you laze on the couch after school while your grandma prepares your favorite tea-time snack.
The cafe draws a mixed crowd. Everyone is here with a single agenda, gathered on church pews, confessing their addiction for caffeine. While table sharing is non-obligatory, it is very much encouraged due to limited seating in the small cafe. With flat whites and lattes placed side by side on a narrow table, coffee drinking becomes an intimate experience where you'd find yourself having a conversation with the stranger next to you after you have gotten over how good the coffee is on the second sip (they only serve Monmouth coffee).
On my first visit they ran out of cronuts at 4 p.m. so we ordered the amarrrrrretto cheesecake which had me enamorrrrrred at my first bite. The layer of crusty brown sugar packs a crunch and complements the velvety cheese perfectly while the mellow hint of almond stubbornly lingers in your mouth until you wash it down with coffee. Sooo good.
The cafe was also packed at that time we visited, so we had to opt for the street-facing seats. Honestly, there isn't much of a view except for sweaty construction workers (if you're into that sort of thing winks) and office executives rushing home/to the gym after work. Ironically though, it gave us the sense that we had all the time in the world to savour our coffee and cake. As the sun quietly sets, we scampered to find meaning in our lives, and ended up sitting on the pews for two hours as we devised our game plan to conquer London Design Week. Instant caffeine fueled efficiency. ☺
This is definitely the place to visit if you're looking for a simple, no-frills coffee joint in London.
Unit 19, 1 New Oxford St,
London WC1A 1BA, United Kingdom
[February 25, 2012 at 04:30]
Do we read to escape from loneliness? To fill the void that people have left behind with words penned by a stranger, the feelings that we are unable to articulate, all transcribed beautifully on coarse brown paper. Or do we read to reveal that emptiness within - glaring at us like the gaps in between words and the empty pages that follow after the last sentence in a book.
「 Why do people have to be this lonely? What’s the point of it all? Millions of people in this world, all of them yearning, looking to others to satisfy them, yet isolating themselves. Why? Was the Earth put here just to nourish human loneliness? 」– Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart
Humans are made to experience loneliness, whether or not we have friends or are in a healthy relationship with a partner. The capacity to feel lonely is not removed or superseded with companionship, but rather, I feel that it is minimized? You feel lonely when you don’t have anyone to miss, you feel lonely when you miss someone. And quite honestly, I am not sure which is harder to bear. Sometimes, even if in a happy relationship, one may sought to discover loneliness, in order to gain that convoluted assurance in that one’s entirety of being is not hinged upon the existence of someone else.
These are some things that keeps me awake as the night recedes into daybreak.