Hey guys,

So those of you who are long-term readers know that I’m way neurotic about my schedule and time, which results in a. an obsession with planners (google calendars, paper planners, notebooks, everything!) b. a low/no tolerance for time wasting during what I call waste-blocks of time (in between meetings, on buses or trains, while waiting for class to start) and c. people who know me calling me crazy. Well, yknw what it also results in? PRODUCTIVITY. So no shame in my game, y’all! I get a lot of emails from you guys on a monthly basis asking for tips on how to balance school, work, a social life, and still have time for some kind of creative/productive outside activity, and my answer has always been to find your own way of properly managing your time.

However, I still get a ton of people coming back to me saying they have no idea how to do that, and so I’ve decided to once and for all pen down what it’s like to live inside a workaholic’s brain by showing you guys what I do when I take a flight somewhere.

So I suppose my working title for this post is the WORKAHOLIC’S GUIDE TO TAKING A PLANE which sounds both dumb and hilarious and absolutely true at the same time.


Why a plane?

Well. I fly a lot – for work, for leisure, for whatever reason – and over the past couple of years travel has become a really big part of my content. And so a lot of my time is spent on planes – but plane rides very much fall into the category of waste-blocks of time, which I mentioned earlier. Why? Because much like holiday-currency, you tend to feel like these blocks of time aren’t ‘real’, and your brain goes into holiday mode when you get on a plane, or on a bus, or train, or while you wait for your lunch order to arrive.

About a year ago, I got off the two-hour long commute to university to the horrifying realisation that I did nothing with these two hours. Nothing! I was just scrolling facebook aimlessly reading stupid articles that added nothing to my life. It was awful. Not just because I’d wasted two hours, but because I’d wasted two hours precisely when I had a ton of things due – a thesis draft, some client revisions, a proposal for another paper I was writing.. Ugh. Since then I’d enforced a hard and fast rule for myself – no using my phone/ social media when on any form of public transport.

And I tell you, my quality of life has just increased 150%. I love to read, and so when I made the conscious decision not to use my phone, I found myself deliberately bringing books out with me, and the number of books I read per month just skyrocketed. The one exception to the no-phone rule was when I was reading an e-book. And then later in the year, as I got more and more tired from school and life in general, I found myself less able to concentrate on moving vehicles – and so I downloaded podcasts to listen to on the train. PSA: The TED app will let you pre-download talks for free, as will iTunes University. This realisation changed my life forever. And if I’m in a cab, I just nap in a way that is almost aggressive. But at least these things – sleeping, reading, listening to podcasts – actually edify my life in some way. Whereas nobody really upgraded themselves by scrolling through facebook, ever. Lol.

The plane ride is a much more exaggerated version of the public transport waste-block, but the general principle is the same – learning how to maximise your time to the best of your ability, so that when you’re done with the ride and it’s time to play, it’s time to play hard.

Pre-flight considerations

I will always try to book a red-eye flight if possible. Reason being, I dont like the idea of “wasting” a full day in the air. Also, I have perfected the art of knocking out anywhere on command, and so I generally have no problems getting on a flight and sleeping the whole way, then waking up refreshed and ready to take on the destination immediately at the start of a new day. If you’re flying out from Changi Airport, you can do what I do – one of my personal pre-flight routines is stopping by the Whiskey Bar in DFS T2 or Long Bar by Raffles in DFS T3. These bars are basically hidden gems in Changi Airport that give you free drinks if you stop by before your flight. If I’m flying solo, as I do quite often, I’ll just check in for my flight early and then settle myself in the bar for a drink and to read a book/ get some emails replied and work done, so that when it’s time to board I’m ready to sleep.

Another thing I always check before the flight is whether the plane I’m taking is wifi enabled. If it is, then I know I can still liaise with clients inflight, and get to all my emails and cloud documents while flying. If it’s not a wifi-enabled aircraft, then I’ll make sure I attend to all urgent emails before I board, just so there are no loose ends hanging around.


It’s not always possible to book a red-eye (either due to budget or scheduling concerns) and so when I’m on a day-flight, this is my in-flight itinerary:


I get uncomfortable when the plane is about to fly, so I always go to sleep once I settle into my seat on the plane. See above re: sleeping on command. If I know I’m on a day flight, I’ll take a cup of coffee before I board (there are starbucks outlets at nearly every terminal, my current go-to is a cup of cold brew) and then go to sleep, because caffeine takes about half an hour to kick in, by which time the plane should be in the air.


If you dont have an eye mask, putting your hair over your face works both to block out the light and to scare the crap out of other passengers around you. Added benefit: if it isnt a full flight, the person who got the seat next to you will probably choose to sit somewhere else……..


Either the caffeine kicks in, or the motion of the plane ascending and consequently popping your ears wakes you up. Not sure which it is, but I always wake up a short while after the plane happily cruising in the air. Propitious timing, indeed.

Flying is extremely dehydrating, so the first thing I’ll do is ask for a bottle of water, then do my skincare. Most skincare brands have travel sized samples – eg. if you purchase anything from the Laneige online store, they’ll send you a bunch of samples along with your purchase. And so carrying a bunch of these in your travel bag comes in pretty handy!


What I’m using here is the Kiehl’s avocado eye cream (bought it at the T3 duty free store before flying), but I also like to use the Laneige water bank sleeping mask or the Allies of Skin overnight mask (it comes in travel friendly sizes). For super long haul flights to the US or something, I’ll also pack a mask set – I’m currently addicted to The Body Shop’s at-home facial mask sets. The great thing about cream (is that what you call it?) masks is, you dont have to deal with waste packaging or a dried up sheet mask after your twenty minutes of hydration, so it’s pretty convenient. I also always have a hand cream in my travel bag. Generally I think any brand will do, as long as you’re actively moisturising your skin when youre flying. I’m currently using the Neal’s Yard Wild Rose hand cream because it smells nice.


Flight Essentials..

HOURS 1.5 – 4

You’re fresh on the flight, you’ve just woken up from your takeoff nap. This is the best time to do whatever work that requires the highest level of brain power on your list because you’re the most alert now. For me, that includes reading and grading scripts, and preparing the tutorial plan for upcoming classes. I’m currently doing my masters in NTU, and so part of the terms of my scholarship means I have to teach undergrads for a year. Which is fine, but any type of academic work definitely requires the highest level of concentration or focus for me compared to anything else, so I start with that first.


At about the two to three hour mark, I can actually feel myself getting tired, and so I switch to..



Freelance writing. This includes penning upcoming blogposts, writing articles for some of my partner websites, or crafting drafts for client work. It’s not that this is easier than academic work for sure, it’s more that writing comes more naturally to me, and so I can do it to a reasonable standard even when it’s not the start of my day. So, level two intensity work comes in here, I guess. This is also when I penned this post, so post-ception for the day:



Let me digress a little. I’m someone who gets very frustrated with small inefficiencies, and so I really love it when I can find something that helps me smooth over certain arbitrary logistical processes easily. A big part of flying is that stupid security check in thing you have to do, which yes, is important, but is really cumbersome as well because sometimes they make you take off your jacket and shoes and socks and take your entire life out of your bag just for them to give you the once-over. Ugh!

So one of my flying lifehack tips is: carry a bag that has a separate laptop compartment if youre someone who needs to work on the go. This backpack I have pictured above is from Adidas, and I realised over the last half-year that adidas has a really good range of bags that do this laptop-segregation thing. I got one for myself and one for my boyfriend, and they’ve been the best flight companions ever! When you need to go through security, just slide the laptop out of the segregated compartment – no need to struggle with all the other jinglejangles in your bag. And when you want to reach for your laptop to get some work done on the plane, it’s mega convenient. Love!

HOURS 5 – 6.5

Read. I always have a book with me on a flight in case I’m too tired to work, and I consider reading one of the more low-intensity activities compared to writing or doing acad work. In my day-to-day, I try to have at least an hour of reading time before I go to sleep, which I do to moderate success – when it’s crunch time then it’s not possible, but otherwise I try to keep to it. I post my reading recommendations on Snapchat (@jemmawei), and sometimes on instagram under the hashtag #jemmareads, in case any of you were interested!


Here I’m reading The Vegetarian by Han Kang, purchased at Times; T3 Departure Hall.


Photoediting. It’s ironic because visual content creation is so much a part of what I do, but it’s arguably the easiest. I’m so used to photo editing that it’s become a bit of a brainless process for me. I’ve also reached a point where I know exactly what I want my pictures to look like because I create my own filters in Afterlight that I only ever slightly vary from, so the editing process is pretty streamlined for me. It’s a marker of how far technology has come that my phone is probably more powerful than my computer when it comes to editing pictures now! I’d say nearly 90% of my photos are edited on the phone over the computer..


And if I get even too tired to do that, I sleep.

If it’s a mega long haul (15 hours and above), then after I wake up, I repeat from the start since technically I’m nice and fresh again. Very rarely do I watch movies on flights because I hate not having control over what I watch and if I start a new movie and it sucks then I’ve wasted two hours of my time!!!! So even when I want to watch something on a plane I find myself falling back on things I’ve already watched before and that I know I like… which is basically a waste of my time. lol.

So yes. That’s essentially my in-flight itinerary. It’s not hard and fast – so I dont have to spend three hours doing high intensity work, if I’m tired, I’ll just switch to the next level of work. But it’s a general guideline. And I have breaks in between to walk around (I set my fitbit or phone to remind me every two hours to go for a walk) and also to top up skincare.

If this sounds crazy to you, that’s ok. Like I said, it’s all about finding a way of managing your time that works for you. If you cant focus on flights and want to do something else, by all means! Some of my friends read, some of them dedicate flight/transport time to zoning out and relaxing, and some of them use the space for creative work..


I mean, to each his own.

And before you call my friends degenerates, playing with their food has given them creative space (somewhat) that has in turn fuelled their careers – martin is a filmmaker and warren is a graphic designer. So there’s that. Maybe if you’re a business student you’ll spend the flight coming up with the best way to sell a bizplan to the entire plane. If youre a mathematician maybe you’ll spend the flight calculating the probability of getting seated next to a baby on the plane, then turning it into an award winning app and selling it for a million dollars. TO EACH HIS OWN.

The idea is to have some sort of meaningful way of spending at least 50% of your time on either the bus, or train, or plane – be it sleeping (which to me is very meaningful, believe me), or reading, or daydreaming new ideas for things. It sounds simple, but it starts with a conscious decision to want to not squander that waste-block of time doing nothing. And following that, your life may not fall immediately into place, but at least you’ll be a step closer 🙂

Till next time x


#2044 | Digital Nomading – How to Travel and Work Anywhere


imagesBangkok, Thailand

So guys, it’s been about seven months now since I’ve started renting my own office space (jeez, time flies) and it still remains one of my best decisions to date. Most of you who follow my Snapchat/Instagram will know that I work out of this coworking space called The Hive, where I have a fixed desk that I intensively decorate with everything I can find, and I’m of the firm belief that liking where you work/ the environment you work in makes a colossal difference to the level of happiness you feel when coming in to work ie. Not wanting to kill yourself when you wake up in the morning to drag your ass to work…

But the thing is, being a freelancer of sorts means that I’m always on the go, and so much of my work requires me to move not just in between spaces in Singapore but also out of it, from country to country. And my membership to The Hive gives me access to Hive locations all over the world, which I’m immensely thankful for because it means that I can work reliably out of different countries whenever I travel to places where The Hive has a set up! A bit like those gyms that give you global memberships I suppose.. but for mobile workspaces instead. Recently I was in Bangkok, Thailand, and so I just had to pop in to The Hive, Bangkok (Thong Lor) to check out the space for myself.

The Hive Bangkok Thong Lor
Piman 49, 49 40/9 Soi Sukhumvit 49, 40/9 Klang Alley,
Khlong Tan Nuea, Watthana, Bangkok 10110, Thailand


The first thing that struck me was just how open and well lit the space was. Much like The Hive Singapore, the Bangkok location relies heavily on natural lighting to give its wood-chic aesthetic a calm, relaxing vibe. Wifi is strong, and powerpoints are wired to each desk. Given the cost of living in Bangkok compared to Singapore, I could totally imagine myself relocating to Bangkok for a couple of months and working out of the Hive if I needed a break from the Singapore scene desperately without wanting to stop work completely..


Theres also a rooftop cafe and outdoor space where you can get a beer or coffee and hold casual meetings or just take a breather in the middle of the work day. I hear that they screen movies on the roof once a month too, which is something my own office back in Singapore is starting to do. Fun times!

And perhaps the most enticing part of The Hive Bangkok – in the basement sits The Hive Spa, which we definitely do not have in Singapore. But it makes so much sense for the geographical location of the place, for what is a trip to Thailand without at least one good massage? Can you imagine breaking off for a foot massage when things get too intense in the middle of your work day? It sounds like perfection to me..



I believe members get 50% off the spa as well. I checked, and the monthly dedicated desk in the Thong Lor location is about a third what it costs in Singapore, at about 200+ a month. So if I ever decide to migrate to Bangkok, that’s my workspace all set already…

Visiting The Hive Bangkok just reconfirmed what I already knew – that The Hive truly is the best coworking space ever 😀 Love it that my Singaporean membership gives me access to the other locations. Currently besides the one I work in in Singapore and this one, there’s another one in another area of Bangkok and three in Hong Kong. I can’t wait for them to expand even more so I can turn into a full on digital nomad and just country hop from place to place, working off my laptop..

And yet another thing that made the Hive Thong Lor so perfect for me:

The Hive Thong Lor is located in Klang Alley, which also seats a bunch of gorgeous cafes, in case you ever need a change of scenery. After visiting the office, I went for a short cafe-hopping romp around the area, and I can safely say that they’re some of the best / most memorable cafes in Bangkok I’ve visited! Would totally recommend working out of the Hive for a half-day if need be, then getting a massage, and walking around the area if youre on a work and leisure trip…

Cafes within walking distance of the Hive:

1. Rocket Coffeebar S.49


Right next to The Hive is Rocket Coffeebar S.49.

Rocket Coffeebar is an instagrammer’s dream come true. It’s full of great natural light, wood, marble, and the ever trendy succulents. The coffee is fantastic as well, and they have these really interesting looking pastries which we ordered to share. Looks like a cross between a cupcake and doughnut – the one we got was apple crumble flavoured, so in the middle of the pastry you’d cut into a tumble of warm sugared apple cubes. Interesting concept, but I do think in all honesty that it looks better than it tastes.. would stick to the coffee, although it made for a memorable experience!

There were a couple of people working off their computers in Rocket as well, and the crowd seemed to consist trendy millennials with huge headphones and round framed glasses. You know the type.


Rocket Coffebar S.49
46, 21/13 Klang Alley, Khlong Tan Nuea,
Watthana, Bangkok 10110, Thailand



Right across Rocket you have D’ark, which has a similar duplex style layout. We didn’t stay long because it looked so similar to Rocket, so I think this is an either-or situation for you. I hear their coffee is really good though.

3. Organika Teahouse

Sitting on top of D’ark, on the top floor of the same building, lies Organika Teahouse. One of the best kept secrets in the area, I feel, and discovered through Foursquare, the app that has become super uncool but which I still swear by. Organika is actually attached to their in-house spa, so their clientele consists mostly of ladies waiting for their spa session to begin, or hanging around after their facials. But it’s free for all to walk in and have a cuppa, so do feel free.


Walking into Organika is like leaving Bangkok and stepping into a fairytale. It’s so different from the outside world that you’ll blink a few times upon entering – the lift opens into a dark, woody lobby, which then opens up into this incredibly bright and leafy teahouse which feels like a very, very upscale version of the treehouses we read about in storybooks as kids. There are actual trees growing indoors, which is pretty incredible, and the entire effect is very relaxing and calming. Sanctuary is the word we are looking for here.

The cafe is expensive by Bangkok standards, which is to say, it costs about what you would pay for a teahouse in Singapore, perhaps. I spent about twenty bucks on a tea based cocktail with panna cotta on the side, which i think is pretty reasonable..


Stayed for about an hour because it was so relaxing that we didn’t feel like leaving. An hour under the trees, sipping cocktails.. not bad at all.

They also have the best restroom I’ve ever seen in my life..

Located at 6 fl., Piman49, Soi Sukhumvit49
Bangkok, Thailand
Open everyday 10:00 am – 10:00 pm

4. Starbucks Sukhumvit 49

Lastly! Just down the road from The Hive sits one of the most gorgeous Starbucks outlets I’ve seen in Bangkok, the one in The 49 Terrace. I’ve blogged about it in depth before, which you can read here. But if you’ve already read that post, here’s a picture of a dog I met there instead..




I really can’t think of a better neighbourhood in Bangkok to be working out of. Good coffee, good food, the chance of running into a cute dog.. and of course, the perfection that is The Hive Thong Lor itself, with all that any freelancer on the go needs. So happy I managed to drop by and visit another Hive location around the world – can’t wait to see what the others turn out to be like! Hong Kong next, perhaps? 🙂

You can work out of the Hive Thong Lor on a day-pass of 350BHT, which works out to 14SGD/day for those of you travelling to Bangkok for an extended period of time/ on a work trip and needing a place to sit and work. I seriously cannot recommend the Hive enough, being someone who works out of it regularly in Singapore. And now I can’t wait to go back to Bangkok and spend more time in The Hive there as well! The workaholic life is real. But if you had such a gorgeous space to work out of, wouldn’t you?

The Hive Bangkok Thong Lor
Piman 49, 49 40/9 Soi Sukhumvit 49, 40/9 Klang Alley,
Khlong Tan Nuea, Watthana, Bangkok 10110, Thailand


#2043 | turning 24


i used to be huge on birthdays – when i was on the sillier end of my teenaged years i would bounce around in excitement whenever it vaguely approached september and start thinking about what presents i would like to buy myself – because that is the kind of person i am, the kind that needs an excuse to justify indulgent purchases. as i got older birthdays seemed to be a bit of an embarrassing occasion that i’d sweep under the rug hoping no one noticed – this has nothing to do with a fear of getting older, indeed, I’ve said on multiple occasions that one of my life goals is happily hitting thirty, excited for all that the thirties stand for (presumably having yr shit together, making peace with who you are and being happy about it, financial stability..). instead i think it has something to do with our social conditioning that birthdays should be a big deal and therefore i feel this pressure to make it a big deal or be something of a failure and so i kind of just hope no one notices the day approaching so i can quietly endure it and then say oh ha ha it came and went and i didn’t even notice.

but of course that in itself is indulgent. and my personal idiosyncrasies with regards to my birthday have nothing on the fact that every year i have come to realise with more and more wonder and gratefulness that i am incredibly blessed to have some of the best, most precious people in my life by strange co-incidence or Godly design. and when times are getting tough, and boy they have been, it is this knowledge that keeps me warm and fuzzy and whatnot inside.

i am also someone, i have come to realise (is 23 the year of self-awareness?), that likes to play down my relationship. rather: i have strong feelings about hollywood’s hierarchy of relationships, that is to say, ROMANCE OVER EVERYTHING ELSE!!!! and so i have always held my friendships close and been proud of it, not having turned into someone who let either part of my life overshadow the other, romantic or platonic. but very, very occasionally i let myself publicly admit that i am also thankful for the very wonderful man that is in my life, who is just as precious to me as the girlfriends i’d give my life for, and i suppose today is one of those times.

this year he and one of my closest girlfriends, georgina, someone I’ve referred to as my soulmate on multiple occasions if youre a reader from back in 2009, organised a very touching and extravagant thing for me which was completely mortifying and which i obviously loved every bit of. i had to go to uni that morning which meant waking up at 6am (fml) and then attend a staff meeting because #professionalism but which i was secretly a bit salty about because my favorite thing in the world is SLEEPING and SLEEPING IN comes a close second and i had very little of either on my birthday. and so i met the boyfriend right after that at ~undisclosed location~ and one of the first things i said was after lunch is it ok if we go and just curl up somewhere and take a nap and he said is that what you really want for your birthday and i said jeez shane when a girl tells u what she wants…

and i dont mean to be sexist or gender-conformative but obviously i do not know what i want because whatever he and G planned turned out to be so much better than sleep although i suffered a hangover from hell for about four days after the event!!


we went to ocean restaurant by cat cora for lunch which turned out to be previously mentioned ~undisclosed location~ and i got very excited because i did not know you could do this, have fancy food and wine and stare at fishes all day. His rationale was that he thought it was a good idea since i just got my diving license and therefore must like fish and while that’s not too far off from the truth the bit that got me the most excited was that i could see some major MANTA RAY action and omg the smiley faces on the bottom of manta rays give me life.

after that he gave me tickets to gv gold class: bridget jones baby (“the trashiest movie i could find because u r very trashy and mainstream right??”) which he had pre-ordered food and wine for and I looked at him and said shane this is very sweet but why did u think it is a good idea to order so much food and wine when we were coming straight from a five course lunch??? and he said sometimes i make mistakes ok?? so that was that.

after the movie i was basically falling asleep standing (see above re: waking up at 6am for school) and so i said this day has been GREAT i have a good idea lets go home and sleep and he said cannot i have already made dinner reservations.

Following that we had one of the most ridiculous conversations of my life which in retrospect i find hilarious and also feel kind of sorry for shane for.

me: shane why are we going for dinner
shane: its dinner time
me: but we just had two consecutive meals
me: and we hardly touched any of the food you ordered at gv
shane: but.. its time for dinner see the reservation is at 7pm which is in an hour by then we should have digested some food so we can eat
me: no no eating a lot is your idea of a birthday not mine mine is sleep
shane: but
me: ok shane if u love me please know that what i need most in my life right now is sleep so pleaseeee can we just go home and take a nap
me: I’m falling asleep standing up
shane: (in retrospect he must have been scrambling to come up with an excuse on the fly)
shane: or we could go for dinner
me: did you plan something with my friends is that why you are standing in between me and my sleep
shane: no la. ok la. actually. i pre-ordered and paid for dinner already thats why. there was a groupon for this russian restaurant. and it looked soooo good in the pictures. so maybe we can just go and try a little bit of everything and then go back? you dont have to finish it!
me: ohhhhh what a planner
shane: thats me
me: ok i guess we should at least show up and try it. russian you say? whats the name of the restaurant?
shane: shashlik. its on niven road.
me: ok lets take an uber there
shane: or a train
me: u must be joking its my birthday I’m taking an uber

so I called an uber and basically completely knocked out the minute we got in. i woke up to him shaking me awake saying jem we are in trouble

me: omg I’m awake. whats happening
shane: ha ha i dont know where the restaurant is
me: what do you mean u dont know where it is??? check the website!!
shane: good idea
me: ???

we got off the uber, him scrolling through his phone, and me mentally debating the pros (sensitive, romantic, can understand your life) vs cons (not very practical) of dating an arts boy.

finally he went: i cant find the email. lets just walk down and see if we can find it. (in my head: or we could go home and sleep…)

So we did the long walk down niven road which actually isn’t that long, but i was very sleepy. And there was no russian restaurant!! none!!! We did pass by this place called The Music Salon which is kind of like this event space and i wanted to go in because i’d actually taken a handwriting class there before and wanted to show Shane the space. But when we walked past we heard someone yowling inside and so i assumed they were having an event and we didn’t go in..

After we had walked the length of niven road i turned to him and said shane i think you might have bought a scam groupon that doesn’t exist I’m so sorry

and he went: yes thats what i was thinking too 🙁

And he looked so sad!! That i was like ok la never mind lets just walk back and try to catch a cab ok?? Then we can go and take a nap. As u can tell i really needed my sleep.

So as we were walking back to the main road we passed the music salon again and it was quieter this time and he said why dont you just pop your head in and look since you wanted to see it earlier?

me: dont want la later got event going on very paisei one
shane: nevermind la just look only what

So I opened the door and poked my head in and there on the floor eating chips was our friend martin hong and my soulmate georgina pang. And i turned to shane and said hey look! it’s martin and georgina. And then my second thought was walao eh martin must have invited georgina to some indie music performance without me fine lor. And then before I could process that thought, I heard someone (Roz) scream OH MY GOD GET OUT. And then i felt myself being unceremoniously ejected from the venue.

While i was standing outside the place wondering why they didn’t want me at their music performance (for context: we have a lot of friends who play gigs and so i NATURALLY assumed that martin who is a filmmaker had either agreed to attend one of our friend’s private gigs or was using the space for one of his shoots and just didn’t tell me) someone yelled OK U CAN COME IN and shane nudged me and i pushed the door open and it was completely dark with fairy lights EVERYWHERE and there was this set up of food and drinks on the carpeted floor and black and white balloons floating around and on one side of the room there was a screen on which a projection of this slideshow was playing. And on the slideshow there were various pictures of shane and i through the years (nearly three years now) and i turned to him and said u better not be proposing to me because i am not ready for that shit.

And he stared at me and said no dont worry it is just your birthday




It was my birthday!! They were doing this thing called a birthday surprise! I dont know why year after year i still dont grasp these things if and when they happen but i am glad because somehow it always fills me with renewed excitement and wonder. Georgina had this entire sound system set up and she emceed the opening of my surprise party, making me guess who else was there by having them recite out a personal memory in a fake voice from behind a curtain. As u can imagine this was a disaster because all of them gave totally obscure memories that i highly suspect were fake. The one person that i did get right though, gave this: I AM THE DEVIL YOUR WORST NIGHTMARE

And i was like, roz is that you?


It was.

I was so happy!!! It was the best thing ever because so many of my dearest friends were there in the same place – they even got fred in via giant projector-screen skype where he ran out of his workplace in london pretending that he had to pee or something. The ones who weren’t there were on night-shift at their various jobs which cant be helped and then more people came even later at night so that was ACE. And so we had a night of ridiculous randomness because half of them were musically trained and so decided to terrorise the neighbourhood with a musical rendition of disney’s beauty and the beast, probably causing the owners of the music salon to regret ever installing a piano there.


my eyes are closed in nearly all the pics because see above re: falling asleep. but happy!

and i thought that was the sum of it, but i was wrong. they only had the place till 10pm, so after that instead of deciding to all disperse for the night to get some sleep as normal human beings do, they booked a freaking party bus (one of those things with DISCO BALLS in them) and we were all ferried to Ultra Super New for birthday party part II.

the timing was actually really propitious because they were actually having a party there already celebrating something that we could not really understand, only that the organisers of the party were friends of a friend (or now: friends) and so cheerfully invited us to crash and make of it what we would. And we did indeed:


ok those re supposed to be gifs but i dont know how to get them to play so never mind. Just imagine them moving.

It was incredible.

At the end of the night it was no longer night but actually more like 3am and we were all dying of exhaustion because all of us had regular (or not so regular? but still existing) day jobs and we were not made to party any longer because we are getting old.

But it was amazing. It is not so much that these occasions show me the precious people that I have around me. They have been there, and will continue to be. I have always loved and appreciated them with or without fancy parties with lights and balloons and psychedelic machinations. It is more that these occasions, as we all get older, give us space to all come together. And okay, fine. They are pretty freakin amazing, these friends, their hearts, and their warmth and generosity and kindness that have lit up my life from within. And what is a birthday but yet another year to give thanks for the love that has been shown me? Nothing at all.

Thank you my loves. And with that: I am now twenty four. x


#2042 | The Broke Student’s Guide to Art and Culture in London


imagesLondon, UK

This Summer, I flew to London on a Skyscanner challenge to update and expand my Broke Student’s Guide series in London and the UK in general. Thus, forthcoming: topic specific guides on budgeting your way across the UK while still having a blast (I know I did) – and today, we look at Art and Culture.

Or more precisely, art and pop culture? Let me set the stage. London is bursting at the seams with tradition, art, and creativity, all served with a side of solid british humour, which in modern day terms means sarcasm. The great thing I love about London is that they’re generally very supportive in terms of the arts (ie. funding, money, real world concerns) and the upshot of this is that entrance to museums and the such are generally free. Free! But on the other hand, no one flies all the way to london to spend their entire time cooped up inside a series of museums. So what I’m gonna do is talk about things you can do for cheap/free in London that fall within the realms of art and/or (pop) culture. Because after four years of majoring in english and hearing people say Culture is people, y’all! nonstop, it’s about damned time I use it. Culture is people, y’all!



Lit geek like me? Great. You’re in for a treat.

A fantastic way to spend an afternoon is by lounging in Libreria bookstore down in East London, an area peppered with what the cool kids call hipster cafes these days. Libreria has the advantage of being both highly curated and absolutely gorgeous. Started by book lovers for book lovers, you can either spend an afternoon browsing and reading in their store or ask for recommendations – and from experience, I’m telling you, they know their stuff. I got really good recommendations from them based on what I said my favourite books were, and I’d definitely recommend any book lover popping in to Libreria at least once when in london – I was there three times myself!


Libreria is one of those bookstores that adopts a very European style – that is to say, instead of mass stocking copies of popular books, they have just a couple per book, but a range of many really good titles. If you’re in London long enough, you can even get them to order books for you. To me, they’re the UK equivalent of my favourite bookstore in the world: Three Lives and Company in New York. But they do hold their own: they’re also gaining quite the cult status in London, and it was an author who pointed me this way.

Just note though: Libreria is old school beautiful, which means they treat their books very seriously (a good thing, in my opinion) and disallow phones at all times. Even to take a photo! No phones, and no bringing coffee in. It distracts from the books and reading, which may seem harsh, but fair – it’s their prerogative after all. So go in with a camera if you’d like, but if you pull out your phone you’ll be asked to stow it away.


65 Hanbury St,
London E1 5JP
Monday: closed.
Tuesday – Thursday: 11 – 7.
Friday – Saturday: 11 – 11.
Sunday: 11 – 6

Hardcore lit fan? London is also home to Kew Gardens, the setting for the famous Virginia Woolf story. Gorgeous place, but it comes at a price – more specifically, £15 for standard adult entry. If you’re keen to go, bring your student ID for £14 door tickets, or buy it discounted online for £13 (student) and £14 (adult). More here!

Into reading, but not novels per se? Another great place to hang out is Forbidden Planet, a mega comic book store just outside Soho. You can find Forbidden Planet stores all over the UK, so if you’re not hitting London on your trip and still wanna check it out, don’t fret! The one in London is huge, and stretches two stories. The basement is full of all types of comics – manga, graphic novels, classic comic books – and lots of them are open for you to browse and read too. I found the Attack on Titan (which is a fantastic anime) manga series there, as well as some of the more obscure Marvel spin-offs. They do stock variant covers and merchandising as well, so if youre a comic book collector, this is the place to be. I spent three hours in the place!

Forbidden Planet
179 Shaftesbury Ave
+44 20 7420 3666


Of course we have to touch on museums, albeit briefly. For London is full of them! And many of them are truly fantastic as well – the Natural History museum, the Serpentine Galleries in Hyde Park, and even more specialised ones like the Sherlock Holmes museum at the most famous address in the world: 221B Baker Street.

Admission to most of the museums are free – but you might have to pay for special exhibitions in the museums, or for the more specialised museums. The Sherlock Holmes museum, for example, is £15 for adult entry. The classic museums people think of when they think of London are the V&A, the National Gallery, the British Museum.. but I hear really good things about the National Museum of Aviation aka the Royal Air Force Museum (free entry) and the Cartoon Museum (minimal entry fee, like £3 for students and free if you’re under 18), so consider those if you’re planning a trip!

The one I decided to pop in to was the Tate Modern, which I’ve always wanted to see. There was a paid Georgia O’Keefe exhibition running (you know, the lady who paints those famous flowers that are supposed to look like female bits), as well as the Louise Bourgeois installation which was weird and wonderful.


Entry to the Tate is generally free, and you just pay for special traveling exhibitions. A nice secret – if you’re going to the Tate, go to the new wing and take the lift to the top floor. There, there’s a nice little cafe with a viewing deck that gives you fantastic views over London. You don’t have to buy a drink to hang around there (in fact, I dont think that many people do), but it’s handy if you desperately need a coffee hit or want somewhere to sit.


Tate Modern
Bankside, London, SE1 9TG

Pop culture: Harry Potter

If you’re a harry potter fan, maybe we can be friends. So much of London I associated with Harry Potter even before ever stepping foot on solid UK tarmac, because we all grew up with the movies and books! I don’t suppose the classic movie stars from the 80s will be pleased to hear this, but it is what it is. Sorry, Notting Hill and Julia Roberts.

For those of you on a mega budget, there are free Harry Potter walking tours offered across the city. Free Tours On Foot offers one that’s rather highly rated on TripAdvisor. Please note: Free tours generally mean that there’s no fixed cost, and you just tip whatever you want at the end. It’s suited for everyone’s budget in that sense, but try and be fair and give what you think it was worth based on how much you enjoyed the tour!

Don’t like following a tour group? You can also do a self guided one, which is what I did in 2014 because I had no money for the Warner Brothers Studio Tour. Ha! Here’s a guide on the locations and how to get there yourself.


Some pictures from my harry potter hunt two years back

Wanna splurge a little bit? Head slightly out of London city for the Harry Potter Warner Brothers Studio Tour.

I did this twice (after I started working) with two different groups of potterhead friends. This is the kind of thing you dedicate half / full day to, depending on how hardcore you are. I spent three to four hours in the studios each time – but I had a friend who stayed for six! The tour is held in the actual studio where they filmed the movies, and so the original and refurbished sets and costumes are there for your perusal and wonder. I don’t want to talk too much about it because the magic truly lies in going and experiencing it for yourself, and there are a couple of surprises that I dont want to spoil. But here are a couple of tips if you’re looking to go..


1. You must pre-book your tickets.
It sells out VERY fast, so if you dont book it at least a week before you can perish the thought of going. The tickets are £35 pounds each and you can get them here.

2. Getting to Harry Potter Warner Brothers Studio Tour:

It took me awhile to figure this out because for some reason directions to the tour on the internet are awfully long winded and hard for a non-londoner to comprehend. But basically there are three steps.

a. take a tube to Euston
b. Euston is a giant terminal. Buy a ticket to Watford junction. Same price for express (20 mins) and non express (1 hr) so ask where the express trains are. They’re called Midland Railway trains, not the London Overground. The prices are as follows:

Anytime Return train ticket – £16.70
Off Peak Day Return train ticket – £10.90

So if you figure out the timings and book the right entrance time for the HP studios, you might be able to get the off peak ticket pricing which is the cheapest way to do it. Just a note. I’ve never been checked for my ticket on the train, which was mildly frustrating given that it was about thirty bucks return for me both times. BUT! If you get caught without a ticket the penalty is ridiculous. So make what you will of that.

c. take either the £2.50 return shuttle bus to the studios (runs every 20 mins) or take an uber. I’ve done both. They’re both good, I think the only time you’d take an uber is if you missed your shuttle and the next one is in 20 minutes and youre already running late. Which obviously happened to me the first time. KEEP THE TICKET if you take the return shuttle bus because you’ll need it to take the bus back to the train station.

3. Pack your own food.

Especially if you know you’ll spend awhile in there. You can buy butterbeer, and like, you know, great, plus points for the experience and all that. But the food they sell in the studios is across the board awful. I couldnt finish my sandwich because it tasted like hardened perfume. They do allow you to bring in food, so do that, and you can only eat it in the cafeteria, not near any exhibits. Which is fine too, because we’re not barbarians, you know?

4. Finally! Talk to the staff.

The Harry Potter Studio Tour has guides stationed all over the studio, and these guys have to go through a two week crash course before working here (I asked). So they’re full of really fun facts and interesting tidbits, and if you go up to them and ask them to explain a certain costume to you, for example, they’ll have all kinds of hilarious and weird things to say. For example! Did you know that Dolores Umbridge’s dress had tiny skulls on them to make the pink look subconsciously sinister? This is brand new information! Talking to the guides really enhances your studio tour experience, so I would 100% recommend it.



For those of you who like to wander around for hours on end… Markets are an integral part of the London experience. And street food is so much part of a place’s culture, isn’t it?

The popular ones are Borough and Camden, but there are a ton of markets everywhere. Maltby Street Market, for example, is a really small and local one that I love because it’s so highly curated. Camden is full of knickknacks and weird vintage items – I once stayed in a gorgeous Shoreditch Airbnb and the hosts swore they furnished the entire place with cheap finds from Camden. And Shoreditch’s Brick Lane is full of underground art markets you can duck into to browse – though I’ve never personally taken to any of them.


The ones to look out for are the pop up markets. If you go during high season, like summer or winter, there are really great event markets that pop up – the winter wonderland, I hear, is legendary. I was there in summer, so just walking down the Thames on a weekend saw random colourful popup markets.

If you’re there in the summer, the newly hipster London Fields also has a running event called Night Tales, which pops up during summer weekends in London Fields or Hackney Wick. You know. Basically places that are post hipster pre-gentrified. The Shoreditch of 2010. Entry is for the small fee of £3, and they have nightly bands playing while people dance, drink, and eat. It’s basically a festival. More here.


Random Pop up Market along the Thames

Live Music and film

And lastly! Live music. Very few things trump unwinding with friends over a drink at the end of the day while listening to really good live music. What is it, really? Appreciation of music? Gratefulness that talent still exists? That it is available to us for the cheap, cheap price of a cold beer? Ah, life. Regardless, it is what it is.

We just mentioned Night Tales, so that’s one to note if youre here in the summer – live beats of the DJ variety. If you prefer something a little more cozy, I was personally very impressed with this place called Proud Wonderland in Camden Market, an Alice in Wonderland themed outdoor bar. We stumbled upon it one afternoon when wandering around Camden at the best possible time – such a great place to rest awhile from the bustle of the market – and there was a really great musician playing and singing with a guitar. We stayed for an hour, only leaving because we had to make our Harry Potter tour ticket timing. But it was so great. Would definitely head back.


Proud Wonderland
Camden Market
Sunday – Wednesday – 12pm – 12am
Thursday – Saturday 12pm – 2.30am

PS. Another open air rooftop bar in Shoreditch called Queen of Hoxton may not have live music per se, but it’s still a great place to chill. It screens movies in conjunction with the Rooftop Film Club, which makes it a really fab option if youre looking for a chill night out with your friends. Especially since actually watching a movie in London cinemas itself can set you back £16!

Queen of Hoxton
1 Curtain Road, London, EC2A 3JX
Open from noon


Ok, I think that’s it for now. On and on I could go.. but isn’t part of the delight in discovering things yourself? I hope I got you started. If you’re headed to London, check these out, but also feel your own way around the city – that’s the only way you will truly make London your own.

Thanks to Skyscanner for zipping me there and back xx
PSA: Go scan the skies for the best flight dates and prices – I use Skyscanner every single time I travel and so should you! x

This post was first published on Skyscanner.com.

#2041 | Going Grey


Hair by Hairloom
Outfit: Dorothy Perkins Singapore
Ft. Matcha Espresso from Starbucks
Pictures: Amanda Wong

I feel like I’ve been blonde forever. Categorically I have, of course, starting with a chestnut ombre blonde when I was 18 and systematically making my way through the different shades – rose gold, chocolate blonde, bronde, and then a cool light ash blonde that faded into my most recent honey blonde. It’s been a good run, obviously, and no one can really go wrong with the classic blonde tones, but I felt like it was time for a change – something heartily echoed by my stylist and people around me. And so the grey years are upon me, a couple of decades early, but no one’s complaining.

This is my second round of grey – the first being when I just got back from Seoul earlier in September, and so Calvin (one of the best hairstylists in the world, and definitely the sweetest) decided to play around with it by adding in blue and purple tones. The idea was for the overall hair color to stay cool toned (see prev post re: korean stylist) but for it to still be visually interesting, and with dimension. Adding several shades of color gives it volume, for one, but it also adds character. You know, to make up for all that I naturally lack before my second starbucks run.

You never fail me, Hairloom. I adore it.