#2133 | The pursuit of mediocrity: a memoir of sorts


Helsinki, Finland

I was in Helsinki last week and happy to be there – it was my first time experiencing a legitimate, full blown winter, complete with snowflakes and blizzards. Every other time I’d tried to catch a good winter I’d been met with shrugs and sunshine, and it had gotten to the point where I’d settle, I’d settle so hard, for even the slightest hint of a flurry. So when a press trip to Helsinki came on the table I’d jumped at the opportunity. Thrilled. And it felt, for a moment, like everything had come together for one perfect winter week, just for me. The snowfall had started a day before we touched down, and it lasted only the week we were there, turning very quickly to rain and slush the night we left. But more on that another time. Touchdown Helsinki and the ground had been covered with christmas log-cake icing as the plane taxied in. I was trying very hard to keep my cool because I was with so many people I didn’t know but that lasted about five minutes: the next day I was jumping into snow piles and giggling every time snowflakes started to flutter down from the sky, and I thought to myself many romantic things about serendipity and how some things were worth waiting for.

I was very happy, also, to be alone on this trip. I mean I was with people and they were all very nice but it was my first time meeting most of them and didn’t know them well. And so emotionally I was essentially alone. The past couple of years had been so noisy for me that this isolation was very welcome, and I spent a lot of time walking around the city by myself after the day’s activities had ended, or waking early to stand outdoors and wait for first light and snow. I read a lot. I took long baths. I spent time at night writing and watching the tele, and sent photos of the day’s happenings to my boyfriend at home, who replied with the soccer scores of the moment. Time flew by, and days exceeded my expectations, and I adored the city more and more each day.

On my last day I woke up to a blizzard outside my hotel window and thought to myself it would be nice to have hot soup. Hot asian soup, specifically. We’d been staying in Hotel Haven, Helsinki, which was planted right opposite the harbour and traditional food hall, and someone had pointed out a pho store there when we’d done our tour of the place several days before. As the trip progressed, the others on the press trip referenced the pho place more and more frequently, and with increasing levels of wistfulness. I was amongst my kind! Asian soup lovers. Nice. But as a result, I couldnt stop thinking of the pho. I made stupid pho puns in my head and salivated. I loved the snow but I couldnt stop dreaming about how the snow experience might be enhanced by contrasting the crisp chill air against a hot bowl of pho.

Anyway, all this is to say that to nobody’s surprise, I went to get some pho.

What a great end to my trip, I thought to myself, as I braved the blizzard. It was snowing so heavily and wetly that I couldn’t tell if it was snow or snow mixed with rain anymore. My hair was drenched and sticking to my face and I visualised myself sitting at the counter of the pho store eating the pho and knowing that life was made of small perfect moments. I swear, I almost ran to the store. There were already two other people there (asians!) and I wanted to say hello but they didn’t look very friendly and anyway see above re: happy being alone. Instead I asked the counter girl for pho. She chattered back at me about options and flavors and side dishes and all I could think of was OH MY GOODNESS SHE IS VIETNAMESE. I was SO ready for my bowl of pho, which had by now grown in my head to become the best pho I had ever eaten, keeping in mind the authenticity of its origins and the juxtaposition against the snowy weather.


Everything else in the market hall was closed!


Shopfront, complete with the two unfriendly asians

I ordered a bowl of pho with a chicken / beef mix. It was 9,90Euros. She nodded, took my money, and gave me some siracha. I do not eat siracha but got very excited about this because siracha is AUTHENTIC ASIAN. I pulled a chair and sat down. I resisted talking to the other asians about how amazing globalization was. I was nearly bouncing in my seat, I swear. The counter girl was making salmon summer rolls while waiting for my pho to be done, and there was a little sign advertising vietnamese coffee for 3,90Euros hanging by my head. Everything signalled to me that this store hidden in the corner of the Finnish market hall was an enclave of Vietnamese culture. I was SO ready.

The pho came, in a clear bowl and with less garnish than I’d expected. I have not been to Vietnam so I thought perhaps this is how pho is meant to be, and we’ve been smothering it with unnecessary flavors our entire lives. Bite one and I felt the soup steam up the insides of my chest, I wanted to cry, I was so moved, etcetera etcetera. Bite two felt the same. Bite three and I realised that what I had tasted thus far were the expectations that I had seasoned the bowl with, and which were quickly melting away to uncover the mindblowingly mediocre bowl of pho that sat before me.

It became apparent at this point that the unfriendly asians were bitching about the pho next to me. They were, in fact, on the verge of an argument: a girl had yelp on her phone out, and she said, there’s another pho shop nearby, told you we should have gone there. The guy looked at her phone and said: that’s this shop, stupid. She said, dont talk to me like that. They left without saying bye to the counter girl, who was still rolling her summer rolls and humming to herself.

So that was that. Now it was just me and the bowl of pho. At this time it was 9:45am and my lobby call for the day’s itinerary was 10. I took another bite. It wasn’t bad. Bad food I could abandon without guilt. It was just mediocre. The rice noodles flopped around in my bowl, I pushed them around with my chopsticks and watched the strands stick and unstick against each other. Because it wasn’t point blank terrible I could not justify not finishing it. My asian values, which had motivated my morning pho run, were now turning against me. I heard my mother’s voice: finish your food, dont you care about the starving children elsewhere, how did i raise you, etcetera etcetera. I took another bite.

The bite brought me no joy. I thought of Marie Kondo and how she said in her famous Decluttering Your Room video that all things in your life must bring you joy. The idea of hot pho brought me joy, to be sure, but then again I also was reminded of people I knew who were in love with the idea of being in love. Stop eating the pho, I told myself. But as I raised my head from the bowl, my eyes met those of the counter girl, who smiled mindlessly at me, and I felt arrested by guilt, and took another bite.



At some point I found my mind wandering towards to Euro, and it occured to me that I had just paid sixteen singapore dollars for this bowl of pho. A set meal at Nam Nam, a vietnamese chain in Singapore, was 8.90SGD and came with a free coffee and two summer rolls. Plus the pho there was yummier thanks to MSG, which meant you’d be happier eating it, but all your hair would fall out sooner. Comme si comme ca. I felt offended and ashamed at my financial missteps and thought perhaps it was a good thing after all that I did not buy into the bitcoin, because obviously I would lose everything I owned, as I could not even invest sixteen singapore dollars properly. The hotel breakfast had been free, but I had ignored it in favor of the promise of good pho. I had better eat it then, I thought angrily, now that I’ve gone and paid sixteen dollars for the bowl. It didn’t even come with free water, I thought, and rage-ate another bite.

We were now more than halfway into the bowl of pho that I did not like. My best friend studied economics at some point, or something like that, because he worked in a financial consultancy firm in London for some time and therefore was always couching his advice to me in financial terms. One of his favorite things to say, which he also applied to guys chasing girls who they knew weren’t that keen on them, was the idea of a sunk cost fallacy, and if he were there in the pho shop with me he would have shouted: GIVE UP, IT’S A SUNK COST. WALK AWAY. But my best friend and I are not the same people despite all our similarities. I took another bite in spite of myself.

The counter girl’s back was turned, and I could make my escape, leaving a half eaten bowl behind. But I did not. I wonder about that sometimes, about not having taken my chance. Part of me was terrified that she might turn back and see my unfinished bowl, and ask me about it out of courtesy, or worse, just, yknw, not. And part of me still felt taken hostage by the money I had paid, the special effort I had made to wake up early, the blizzard I had happily braved. I told myself that this was not that bad, and that there were many worse situations than having undeniably hot soup on a cold winter’s day. I was in a gorgeous country with weather that had thus far only featured in my dreams! It was a great situation to be in. Complaining about anything just felt stupid and childish and petulant. But I couldnt help thinking: I might have experienced the same level of contentment had I just boiled some hot water in my room. And it would have been free.

I didn’t finish the bowl: I left precisely one mouthful uneaten. I dont quite know why. Perhaps it’s so I can tell myself that I didnt finish the bowl of pho. But that’s stupid. My reasons for doing that remain obscure even to me. I nodded a thanks to the counter girl, who asked if I wanted to also purchase a salmon summer roll. For a moment I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to say no. But I looked at the glass bowl, then shook my head and walked out of the food hall and back into the cold.

Back in the hotel lobby and with the other people from the press trip, it came to light that three or four of us had visited the pho shop at various timings that morning. One of them was a celebrity chef of sorts. I asked him what he thought of the pho and he told me that beggars couldnt be choosers. I nodded along, but inside I was thinking: what a stupid girl I am, to make such a big fuss over a bowl of pho, when actual adults who’ve lived a life know how to gauge their happiness against the desperation of circumstance. What a way I have to go.


#2132| 2018 travel plans to pen


Hey guys!

New year, new travels. I ran an informal q&a on Instagram Stories sometime in January, and a lot of the questions that came in gave me ideas on useful things I might possibly look into moving forward in 2018. So after some brainstorming and evaluating of realistic ability (space and time constraints, etcetera), here’s my slightly idealistic plans to pen – jotting it down here both as a reminder to self and as a kind of checking mechanism, so if too much time goes by and I havent done a single thing, I guess y’all can call me out on it!
L O L.

Okay so:

Broke Student Guides

The BSG series is my baby, and what really got me started on my love for travelling. However, as of November 2017, I am no longer a student – I successfully completed my Masters in English, Creative Writing, kindly sponsored by the Singapore Government ( tax-free, thank you very much!). And lets face it, I’m 25, and no longer broke. So the term, while no longer a definitive truth of my existence, is more a guiding principle than anything else. I thought about whether I should change the name of the series from here on, but I think my super mega asian middle class upbringing does mean that I will always be cost-consicous, even if one day I’m a gazillionaire or something. And besides, there’s a good chance that I’ll go on to do my PhD/MFA after a much needed break, which means that I’ll be right smack back into being totally broke again, anyway. So the title stays, and so do the guides. Hurray! Expect more of these, moving forward.


I do fly a lot, and I’m quite game to try everything. But I’m both extremely paranoid and mega cost-conscious, which means that I totally obsess and blow situations up in my head before even stepping foot on the plane, but this wont stop me from trying to take the most cost efficient option even if the airline has a dodgy ass rep. This has resulted in pretty funny situations over the past year, and it’s a waste if I dont blog about it, which I havent.

And on the other hand, now that I travel so much for work as well, I have gotten the chance to try some pretty awesome airlines in luxe classes that have totally blown my mind! And I realised that before I get on any flight, I do obsessively google reviews and forums and seatguru that shit and all that stuff. So why not write about my own experiences while flying?

I dont know why I haven’t done this before, but yeah. Think of it as a flying diary – I’m going to start penning stories from the airlines I’ve flown, documenting my experience. Some of this will be from memory because I might not have taken photos of the plane and all if it happened in 2017 before I’d decided to start doing this, but moving forward, this is something I’m gonna try to do. Coming up: this Asian girl flies United solo. And, China Airlines for the first time!


Packing Guides

I am working on weather specific packing guides for places, so I’ll try to come up with a checklist that you guys can refer back to when planning for your own trips. This is something a lot of you requested for, so thanks for that! I am also working on weather-specific skincare packing guides. As for in-flight skincare, please read my GUIDE TO INFLIGHT SKINCARE which I wrote in 2017 because I dont wanna have to repeat everything hahahahha thanks!

Destination dining

I wouldn’t really consider myself a foodie because I don’t know enough about the fine culinary arts to really tell you about how if the marbling of beef faces a fourty five degree angle against the rising sun in the east that means it’s ace, or whatever. But I do know that when I love a meal, I love a meal. My October trip to Melbourne just confirmed that for me I think, because I kept getting mind blown left and right. And I think I’d never churned out as many dining specific blogposts till then! So this is probably something that you’ll see more of when I travel. I do have an extensive travel sidebar linking all my travel posts, so if youre looking for suggestions for a specific destination, just scroll through the Broke Student’s Guide to Travel posts on the right hand side of this page.


Singapore Specific Recommendations

I think this was definitely triggered by my recent trip to Los Angeles. People kept trying to tell me all about these amazing dining places and half the time they turned out, well, mindblowingly mediocre. I’m not trying to be annoying, but I genuinely, in my heart of hearts, think that Asian food is the absolute best. This is my personal conclusion after years of globetrotting, and while I love Spanish and Mexican cuisine, I think it’s really, really difficult to fight with Asia when it comes to food. How can you dispute the emotional journey that is a good bowl of piping hot pho on a wintry day? Haven’t you seen the way people’s faces change when biting into a toasty hot slice of kaya toast, double dipped into half boiled eggs? Don’t you think that life would be boring and depressing without God’s gift to man – the entirety of thai cuisine? And whoever thinks that Singapore’s national jewel is not chicken rice can come and FIGHT ME!!!!

So yes. I think that in all my outbound travel, I have pitifully neglected the wonders of Singapore’s gastronomical landscape. As a multicultural society, we have access to top notch dishes from many cultures, and it’s a damn waste that we dont talk about this more! So talk about it I shall. Damn it, am I turning into a food blogger? I’m not trying to, but yeah, if its good, I’m going to talk about it, so help me.

Okay, I think that’s about it for now. I think there were some other questions, but I hadn’t had the chance to look through and synthesise all of them, and this is what I had so far. So yes! Excited for the new year of adventures to come 🙂

See you on the other side, y’all! X


#2131 | Best breakfast in Taipei, ever


Taipei, Taiwan. Taken on the Samsung note8

Hey guys,

Just here to show some love for the best breakfast I’ve had in Taipei over the past three trips. This is my second time at Fu Hang Dou Jiang and I cant get over how much I love it. It’s on the second floor of this nondescript building right outside the Shandao Temple Station in Taipei City, and you identify it by the long queue winding around the building, like a lazy cat’s tail, bodies part hungry and part communal. The queue can get pretty crazy, I think it was about 45 minutes both times I was there. I have a love hate relationship with queues that I blame on my Singaporean heritage – hate the actual idea of wasting away time in a queue, but the time wasted somehow also validates my choice of eatery/attraction, raising the stakes for either euphoria or disappointment? Anyhoo, the point is that there is a mighty queue, and being Singaporean, I joined it.

The queue winds all the way around the building, up the stairs, and into the eatery, which is structured like a food court with one shining star of a stall, the rest sulking and ignored by the wayside. Common eating tables dominated by customers of this one breakfast store. As your position in the queue approaches the inside of the eatery you can watch the staff make the dough fritters in the clear glass of the store window and salivate accordingly. You can smell it, and it’s a smell that will haunt you in your dreams when you are back home and craving fresh dough fritters. You can’t circumvent this, you cant even carry the products home. I tried, having this takeout style, but it’s not the same. It has to be eaten fresh. Anything else is a disservice to it. So it goes.

When you finally get to the front of the queue the time you have to order is short and hurried because everyone there is in a flurry. I suggest erring on the side of excess when it comes to the dough fritters (aka you tiaos) because your first bite into them is heaven, and then your second, and third, a continual state of delight. The second time I was there, my mother ordered one stick for our family of five to share, which goes to show that even the most intelligent people make the silliest mistakes.

It should be noted that I’m a big fan of soya bean milk. None of that Soy Milk nonsense that’s so popular in america, have you tried soya bean? A jewel of asian culture to be sure. I dip my dough fritters in it, it makes for such an incredible meal. Writing this now, I feel myself craving soy milk – which is thankfully pretty readily available in Singapore, though not as fresh as the ones you get in Taipei. Fu Hang does a salty variant served in a bowl, which is worth trying. I like it, but not everyone does. They also do egg crepe wraps, freshly made buns, roasted pancakes, all of which are oily and sinful and also wonderful. But the star of the show is the most simple thing – fried dough fritters with cold soya milk. What a wonder. The stuff of dreams.

This place is not a hidden gem – it’s rated on foursquare as the top breakfast spot in Taipei. It’s not undiscovered by the food blogging scene either – a quick google search will find it all over the web and instagram, with praises heaped upon praises for it. I’m not sure what my post adds, besides documenting my personal love for this place in a slightly indulgent manner. Just adding to the ever growing repository of internet love for the place, I suppose.

Fu Hang Dou Jiang 阜杭豆漿
Hua Shan Market Level 2, No. 108, Zhongxiao East Road, Sec. 1 (Shandao Temple Station)
華山市場 2F忠孝東路一段108號紹興南街 (善导寺)
Tel: +886 2 2392 2175
Opening Hours: 5.30am – 12.30pm (Tue – Sun), Closed Mon


#2130 The Year of All our Resolutions


Here we are again at the end of another year, and here I am pattering away on the blog as per tradition. What a year.

At the end of each year brings debate and kerfluffle on the poignancy (and pointlessness?) of new year resolutions, but for what its worth, I’ve always been pretty good at sticking to my resolutions. 2015 was my year of leaving and 2016, my year of learning, , and in both years the fulfilment of resolution taught me lessons so different from what I had originally set out to surmount. That is, at the end of each year, I realised that I knew less than i thought i did – and humbled by the year’s passing, I strove each year to try and remedy my life in some tangible sense. For all my experience in writing I find this feeling hard to put in words, I think the closest i can come is by saying that as someone who’s a bit of a control freak, I do wish i had more control over my own life. Objectively, I am proud of myself for what I have achieved, but i am also perpetually burdened by shame because of the things that I have not. Ah, well. It is what it is.

Approaching December this year, I started thinking about my annual year end post and what I should say to wrap up the year/ herald the next. I didn’t really want to write about my own year, I felt I had reached a point where it seemed a bit narcissistic to write about oneself, and who really cares anyway? 2017 was challenging, it was also rewarding, blah blah, etcetera. I did things and for those things sacrificed the opportunity to do other things. Everyone’s story is more or less the same when you distill it down to its essence. So it goes.

The year that is now past felt weird and strange to me for much of 2017, people as a whole seemed tense, and all over (at least to my perception) there seemed to be a mild and violent shaking up of what it meant to be a person in a hateful time. We are not at war with anything physically, but we are at war with anything less than absolutely perfect, and it seems that 2017 signified a rise in this thinking internationally: let our role models be a certain way, let them be politically astute and woke and empathetic and kind and fun and interesting and attractive and hold the same views as we do, let them be blemish free and never fuck up, because if they do, damn. And given that this mentality inevitably trickles down to our everyday life, what does it mean for us as normal people trying to find our place in this world if we hold others to such impossible standards?

By role models I refer to the celebrities of my childhood, the Natalie Portmans (Harvard graduate, award winning actress, published academic, and lets face it, gorgeous ), the Selena Gomezs (UNICEF ambassador, disney actress, grown up actress, television producer, has her own clothing line), the Emma Watsons (Reads a lot, played a movie character who reads a lot). But I grew up in the age of the social media boom, and so the platforms for which we can seek out people to aspire to and identify with has widened, and my role models expanded accordingly: I found Roxane Gay on tumblr (before she was so prolific, and I must say I carry a secret little cheap thrill at having been an early adopter of the Gay fandom), and then converted to her literature, I found Dear Coquette on Tumblr, I found Margaret Zhang (photographer, law student, model) on instagram, I found Shini Park (editor, graphic designer, staunch christian, writer, photographer, blogger) on bloglovin. I have real-life role models too – my producer Gillian Tan, my old writing professor and poet Divya Victor. My role models have always been women because I am one, but in today’s day and age there seems to be an increasing cynicism towards statements like these so let me say it first: This is not because I hate men, I have had very healthy relationships and friendships with them, my best friend of 11 years is a guy, and I am pretty close to my dad, so no issues there. My role models are women because I am a woman and relate to other women more intensely than I do to men, although I do admire and respect many men who I have seen online and in real life. Obviously. It’s stupid that we have to state such obvious things like this, but such are the times we live in, so.

I have come under a lot of attack for my choice of role models over the years from friends and acquaintences, mostly jokingly, but sometimes, a tad personally. Things that people have told me whenever I list role models: Selena Gomez can’t sing and makes bad relationship choices, Emma Watson is a loner and has no friends, Roxane Gay is too sensitive, Dear Coquette is a user, and it is famously rumoured that Margaret Zhang is a bitch. This all belies a certain anxiety that we hold today towards our role models, and I have to admit that I’m guilty of much of it – I fell out of love with Selena for a long time because of her relationship with the Biebz, who I mildly detest, and even for women I’ve respected in the media but not felt strongly enough about to label them role models, I’ve disavowed them for certain public statements they’d made that don’t agree with me. In other words, I have always wanted perfection – I have pedestal-complex, I want to know that there is someone out there who can do everything and never fuck up, so that I can always admire them and aspire towards being like them, because if they can do it, then maybe someday, so can I.

What I wanted, of course, was a fictional character to model myself against. I know this now. I wish I did earlier.

Roxane Gay says in the opening to her 2014 essay collection, Bad Feminist, People who are placed on pedastals are expected to pose, perfectly. Then they get knocked off when they fuck it up. I regularly fuck it up. Consider me already knocked off. When I first read Bad Feminist, I was going through a period where I was very unsure of where I stood in today’s world. I was not well-versed enough in the academia of things I believed in, and so felt like a hack, and on the other hand, felt an intense pressure to live up to the expectations of people around me. I cannot tell you how freeing it was to read those words from Roxane for the first time. Now, I am not one of those people who will tell you to ignore the expectations of other people and label all Expectations Evil, with double capitalized Es. I think people around you have expectations for you because they love you, although this love is often portrayed in miguided ways. I am less forgiving of society’s expectations, although that debate is an old cliche by now, but I do recognize that the cultural times we live in dictate certain consequences that correlate to the breaking of expectations, and I’d like to think that I’m relatively realistic about it, or at least, I try to be.

And I am no stranger to Big Expectations. I’m firstborn in my family, and for all the stereotypes of firstborns I can tell you that the weight of expectations bit is true, though I have never been angry about the responsibilities of being firstborn. I’m a pastor’s daughter and today identify as a christian, as I have since my baptism in 2014, and that brings with it a ton of expectations from within and outside the church as to how I should behave, what I should do, what I should wear, etcetera. That was a bit harder to grapple with, growing up. And finally, I am realistic about the fact that I live a large part of my life in the public eye today because of the nature of my work as a host, and that this is something I am personally responsible for because I signed up for it (quite literally, I have a contract with Clicknetwork TV), and also because I perpetually upload content onto my (very public) instagram as well as continue to accept commercial jobs for that platform. So I have a hand, I think, in allowing these public expectations to be placed on me. That is fine. I rarely feel too bothered about public expectations, I have always been more concerned with my own expectations, and trust me when I say no voice of the masses can be more exacting or punishing on myself than my own.

So reading Roxane was great for me, personally. I felt like I had finally taken a breath, after living in a stuffy room for too long. Consider me already knocked off, she says, and I ran a thumb over the line on the page, mouthing it with her.

What that meant for me in my real life, pragmatically, was learning to accept. Like I said earlier, I have a very exacting personality, which is something I overcompensate for by trying to pretend that everything is chill. I know that. But a result of this is that in addition to myself, I hold people around me to a ridiculously high standard. As a general rule, if I admire you, I expect a lot. My love is not unconditional, I dont have that kind of generosity of spirit. I think if a younger me had seen Roxane Gay send out a tweet spelling you’re as your, I would have been devastated. And I have high standards for the people around me: I am stern with my younger sisters, I expect a lot from my mother (who, to her credit, has done a wonderful job of being not just mother, but Adult Woman), and from my friends I also look for certain qualities which I value, and if I dont find them, I try to convert my friends to them, ha-ha. I also take it very personally if people I admire fail me in some sense, if I see them being unkind, especially, or making jokes that I think perpetuate a certain problematic stance, then I find that I become ridiculously upset and cannot look them in the eye for awhile. But I am also aware that I frequently fail my own expectations of what I should be like, and so I think in 2018, I do hope that I learn to be more forgiving and accepting of others and myself, and learn to allow myself to accept the complexities of being a flawed individual without disavowing the whole. This is something I’ve been trying to do in the past year, but I still have a ways to go.

The reason why this post is titled the Year of All our Resolutions and not just the Year of My Personal Resolution is because I think given the current cultural climate, acceptance is an important thing to learn, and has effects that reach much further than our immediate radius. Becca Inglis talks about the flipside of the witch hunt culture in her essay Love in the Time of Melancholia, about how we are quick to condemn the imperfect. But, she argues, sometimes the role model you need is not an example to aspire to, but someone who reflects back the part of yourself that society deems unfit. We all regularly mess up and have parts of ourselves that we dislike, but I have come to realise that when you only accept perfection in your role models, you end up utterly condemning yourself for your own flaws. Accepting people (whether role models, celebrities, or personal friends) in their entirety, flaws and admirable qualities all in, allows you to navigate the way you develop through your own troubled patches. It gives you the room to make mistakes, and not stay down. To climb back up, accept your failings, and try again.

This is not permission to be unmotivated and lazy, nor am I trying to tell you to just accept people the way they are even if they are totally awful and hold damaging views. Call yourself out and call your friends out if they say stupid, bigoted things. This is especially important in today’s political context, where halfway across the world it is considered increasingly okay to hurl racist slurs at people or abuse people who are perceived as less important, less human. But accept that people, yourself included, are multifaceted. Have high standards, but not damning ones, is what I am saying.

I am not so naive as to believe that this will make the world a nicer or better place as a whole. We are never going to live in a utopia, the world and its people will constantly disappoint us, and the sooner we make peace with that, the sooner we can move on and work on the things that we actually can impact. But I do think that it will make the world a more tolerable place to live in, especially since learning acceptance is something you do for yourself, and not expect others to do. And when we learn to live in between the extremes, we learn to accept ourselves as well: as works-in-progress, as people on our way to becoming more and more like what we aspire to be. It’s a cliche, yes, but sometimes, it really is about the journey. So let’s resolve to make the journey count.

2018: Here we go.


#2129 | Random things I have picked up from Travelling


1. A place is mainly about its people.

2. You can melt the butter that comes with your airplane meal by putting it on top of your main course’s aluminium packaging while it’s still hot, so that you can butter your bread more easily.

3. A travel adaptor is not the same as a voltage converter.

4. Singapore and the Commonwealth has the best power outlets, the stupid two pin one that the US/Taiwan/Japan uses means that your adaptor might fall out of the socket if it’s too heavy, making charging your devices a bitch.

5. It’s always the white men who assume that you want them photobombing your travel photos. A lot of time is wasted waiting for them to go away before you can take a proper one again.

6. Same with bar conversations, no matter how deeply you are engrossed in conversation with a friend, they always feel like any conversation that doesnt include them is an invitation to enter.

7. Skincare while travelling is important and not a one-product-fits-all, you have to pack according to your skin type in relation to the climate of the place you are travelling to.

8. After awhile most mountains look the same.

9. You can identify another Singaporean by his/ her voice from miles and miles away.


10. Asian airlines serve the best food, followed by Middle Eastern airlines. The rest are pretty depressing.

11. If you’re a budget traveller and they complain that your luggage is too heavy at check in and want you to pay extra, open your luggage and start wearing all your clothes, because weight/size restrictions largely only apply to baggage and not human beings. 9/10 times they will sigh with frustration and wave you through check in.

12. You truly become aware of how amazing epilasik is when you travel.

13. Not all comments made about your race is racist, some are made out of genuine curiousity, and as a visitor to another country it is good to learn to discern which is which.

14. Travel is a luxury, not a necessity, despite what all these new age mantras tell you. You can become a fully formed, aware, and mature person without ever leaving your country.

15. That said, it does widen perspectives. Travel is awesome, but dont bankrupt yourself trying to do it, is what im saying.


16. One of the first questions you should ask about a new country is whether the water is potable or not.

17. Location based apps like Foursquare and Yelp will greatly enhance your travel.

18. You get more of your travel if you are willing to go out of your comfort zone and talk to new people, and staying in a hostel or Airbnb is a great way to do this.

19. That said, dont hate on people who travel luxuriously and not in the ‘local’ way you think people should. People can mainly do whatever they want with their money. Mind your own business.

20. When in doubt, identify a Japanese or Korean tourist and ask them to help you take your photos, because they know where its at.

21. Wifi eggs: makes sense economically if you have more than two people in your travel party, no need to swap out your own sim card and risk losing it, ability to still receive One Time Pins to your own mobile number while overseas without having to change your sim card back. Cons: an additional thing to charge at night, and if you lose it, it can be ridiculously expensive.

22. Hotels are not always the more expensive option: see – Amsterdam.

23. Always carry identification with you, but best if this identification is replacable, like a drivers license. For me, I carry my German ID from when I was a student there, cos it has my full name and age. If you carry your passport and lose it, getting home can be a real bitch.


24. Google Trips is one of the best inventions known to man (and the frequent traveller).

25. When in America, always check for Groupon deals.

26. Always pay in the local currency when using your credit card.

27. It’s just easier, when you have a pouch for all your electronic wires and chargers.

28. If you’re going on a long trip, factor in a laundry day. You can do laundry in a sink anywhere, so bring detergent powder in a little ziplock bag cos it’s easy to pack and less likely to leak/spill.

29. Things are likely to screw up somehow, accept that and dont let it ruin your trip.

30. Do your research on your destinations and dont assume that you can card everything – in general, Asian countries dont accept credit cards as much, as my American friends coming to Hong Kong with NO hong kong dollars were horrified to find.

31. Ditto the above, for money changers. Places like Taipei only let you change money if you have a passport on hand, and Seoul’s money changers close early.

32. All the progressive arguments in the world will not halt danger if danger wants to happen, so have common sense, dont walk in dark alleys alone or drink excessively in foreign bars, especially if youre female, and you can always go home later on and continue to make arguments about why a low cut top doesnt mean consent when you are already in a safe place.

33. Aisle seats are really more convenient, all window seats have going for them is the romanticism of the tumblr/instagram aesthetic.

34. Sunscreen should be applied liberally when flying.

35. Not all free wifi points are safe, so never book anything or make credit card transactions over free wifi.

36. A fear of flying can only diminish, it will never truly go away.

37. Always have travel insurance.