26 plus 1.

October is drawing to an end and in less than 30 hours I turn a year older. If I were to sum up the past year, I’d say it has been my best year yet. I felt afraid when I threw the towel and left an extremely stable job. I went ahead anyway telling myself “it’s now or never.” I left to Melbourne for a month. Tried to find work but couldn’t with my visa, decided to use the time to meet people and get myself out there, met a dozen of people through couch surfing events, spent the days tiding the sister threw her finals, decided on taking another leap of faith and applied for a 6-month working holiday visa to New Zealand. On hind sight, that impromptu decision one evening has turned out to be the turning point of my life. I got back home in December, celebrated my overdue birthday, booked my tickets for the much awaited one-way flight, tried to prepare myself for the upcoming months on the road and left on 16 January 2015. I left the comforts of home, familiarity, routines, expectations, everything. Everything behind and decided to pave my own path to thread on. 125 days later, I returned home having built a new me and, rather unexpectedly, a new relationship.

I wrote this on 31 May 2015.

Today marks 9 days since arriving home to a life so much slower after 125 days of calling the road home. So many emotions fill me as I sit here trying to encapsulate this adventure in a few words. It feels impossible to settle for a single word to describe this journey. But, the quote “life begins at the end of your comfort zone” sums it all up pretty aptly.

Travel these days have, unfortunately, been glamourized to being about snapping the perfect instagram worthy shot, being able to change your Facebook cover photo to an epic one and, not forgetting, the spamming of check ins everywhere and anywhere the feet goes. To me, travel largely remains all about the experiences I have and, more importantly, the people I meet.

So, this journey of mine, it’s a tribute to all the people I met – the ones who have touched my soul, moved my heart and reminded me how grateful I should feel to just be alive.

Even now, nearly 160 days since, I do not have a word to encapsulate my adventure. Some days, I recall my stories like they have just unfolded hours ago. Some days, I feel like the stories are distant memories at the back of my head. Some days, I feel like I am my own superstar for having had the courage and strength to go forth with this journey. Some days, I know this is just the beginning. Beginning of so many more adventures (with you)!

I lost many things. First and foremost, needless to say, my depleting finances. Friendships that grew apart with the distance. Countless family functions that I missed. The distance, the time difference that strained us. Emotional upheaval when days aren’t even the least bit rosy and you cannot hold it together anymore, you just end up breaking down. So many such days. You question why you even begun this journey and cry yourself to sleep with empty hope that when the sun rises tomorrow things will get better.

But, I gained so much more. So much more. For a person who grew up in a nation that is a city, the country life experience with Sheryl opened my eyes up to alternative lifestyles. The cell at Napier Prison made me appreciate all the luxuries I lived with for the past 25 years. The struggle to feed myself thrice a day was so real. The stay with Rivka and her husband opened my eyes to what marriage at 50 looked like. Northland travels and all the misadventures that followed suit reminded me there are always going to be some things that are never within your control as much you want them to be. And, the only way out is to go with the flow. The stay at Linda’s lovely home in Hamilton showed me first hand the struggles of a single parent. The 4 days in Te Puke finding work were the lowest point of my adventure. Sitting in the carpark lot of Pac N Save calculating how many dollars I could spend each day to tide myself through till I get my pay is still fresh on my mind. For someone who never worried about finances, it struck me then how important it is to spend within your means and how every dollar actually counts. The next 3 weeks of work in the kiwi packhouse was just mundane physical labour. Food, work, sleep. That’s all that life revolved around. And, then came the best days of my life. I met the kindest souls, in the names of Simon and Darci, and felt like I belonged somewhere for the first time after a very long time. I could not have asked for a better end to my NZ adventure. Soon after, I bade NZ a goodbye and see you soon, spent a week in Sydney and got home on 23 May 2015.

It has been 5 months since I got home. The tears and struggles of my travels made me so much stronger than I can ever explain or quantify. The happiness that I draw from the simplest things in life now feels raw. The lonely days moulded by independence further. I value all the relationships I have now so much more. It took a while, but I now hold a job that gets me up and going every morning. I no longer have to sit through meetings that I cannot value add and churn out meeting minutes by the hour. I have friends who I trust more than my life with. I’ve got my sister flying in tomorrow. And you; the happiness and colour you add my life with is unlike any other. So, thank you for inevitably moulding me into a better person with your patience and silent love all these years.

Thank you for allowing everything to fall in place after 25 years. My 26th has been the best year yet and I cannot wait to see what my 27th is gonna bring with it. All I wanna say is, let it begin! Till, 27 plus 1.

6 things I have learnt after being in sales for 6 weeks.

  1. Anyone can do sales but not everyone survives.

Often we hear people saying anyone can do sales, practically anyone. Degree or no degree. 20 year old or a 40 year old. I’m not going to deny that. But, instead, I’ve begun to realise surviving in this field is the harder part. It takes a whole lot of perseverance and persistence to go forth each day with newfound strength to hit THAT sale.

2. No pain, no gain?! Not always.

You end up putting in at least 50 man-hours for a $50 dollar commission. And, sometimes, just 5 man-hours is all that is needed for you to earn $500 dollars on commission. So, it’s not always no pain, no gain. But, what I’ve come to learn is that, it balances out at the end of the day and hard work does pay off. You just gotta be consistent.

3. Follow ups!

No matter how good a “talker” you are, if you do not follow up you lose the game. It’s probably the most tiring part of the job – keeping track of who to call and when to call. Day and time, both are equally important. Say hello to Excel, google sheets, reminders. notes!

4. Low-ballers

Having the strength and more importantly, patience to handle low-ballers are a HUGE, HUGE part of the job. As a customer, everyone wants the most value for the lowest price. Who doesn’t?! So, put yourself in your customer’s/client’s shoes and offer them the best you can. But, never sell yourself short in the process! So, be sure, to find that balance and you’ll be sure to fly.

5. NEVER mass mail! NEVER!

No one wants to be on the receiving side of an email sent out in masses. It takes time, but, put in the effort to address your recipient and add in a line or two to show that you actually do care about the business they do and how you can help them. I just spent 5 minutes on the line with someone from a financial institution. I specifically tell him my needs expecting a tailor-made email sent to me. But, damn! I open the attachment and a brochure, perhaps, one given out during any roadshow on the company’s profile greets me. No surprise there, but, I’m clearly not going to be calling him back anytime soon. The effort you put in always shows! Don’t cut corners.

6. You drive your own pocket.

It’s as simple (and hard) as that! Work hard, be consistent and reap the benefits. Stay hungry!

Hello.

It’s been a month in a industry I have never had prior experience, let alone knowledge in. The flexibility and the independence of my job nature enthrals me (still) and gets me out of bed every morning. It feels like fresh air from the environment I was in last year. I’m not sure how long I will survive and succeed in this field but, I think I’ve got some time before I make a decision of any sort.

This year has zoomed past way too fast. It feels like I just got back from NZ and it’s already almost November. But, at the same time, NZ feels like it was so long ago I’m aching to leave (again). Thanks to KFit, the brother’s wedding preparations and house renovation works, I’m being kept busy. Time is going to fly faster once November arrives in a week’s time. Especially since, the sister is arriving and would be home for at least 2 months.

Plus, there is Adele’s 25 being realised in November.

Here’s to having a blast for the remaining days of 2015! Lezzgo!

Thai food in JB!

With the MYR dropping to more than 3 for 1 SGD, the number of Singaporeans heading to JB over the weekends and even weekday evenings are by the masses. My group of friends and I are, unfortunately, or rather, fortunately one of the many thousands flocking to JB for a quick chill out whenever time permits.

After a few months of meaning to dine at Amphawa boat noodle, I finally managed to try for the very first 3 weeks back. And I have had it thrice since. Yes, i’m gonna spam some pictures so you and drool over them while planning your next thai fix. Located, near Sutera Mall, this rather unassuming stall smacked in the middle of many other eateries in the area is really good for some authentic Thai cuisine.

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There are different flavours to choose from :

Amphawa Chicken Boat Noodle
Rangsit Chicken Boat Noodle
Amphawa Beef Boat Noodle
Rangsit Beef Boat Noodle
Tom Yam Prawn Boat Noodle
(RM1.90 per bowl)
Amphawa is a creamy soup broth, spicy and sour // Rangsit is clear herbs soup broth

Dishes you have to try: Tom Yam Prawn Boat Noodle, Pandan Chicken, Mango Salad. Wash it down with some good ol’ Thai Ice Milk Tea and then (if you are lucky) you can finish off your meal with some mango sticky rice. Out of my 3 visits, I only managed to have mango sticky rice once as it ran out on the other occasions.

FB: https://www.facebook.com/AmphawaBoatNoodle

Address: No.69, Jalan Sutera Tanjung 8/2, Taman Sutera Utama, Johor Bahru
Tel: +607 5596440
Operating Hours:
Tuesday to Sunday:
11:30pm – 3:00pm
5:00pm – 10:00pm
All images belong to Solosingaporean unless otherwise credited for. Please give credit where it’s due.

This one is for you.

Dear You,

I begin this letter with a heart full of hope that you will begin reading it after putting aside every thought you have ever had about love and relationships.

When you are 13, you think love is when a particular boy across the hallway catches your attention and you think he is cute. And that one glance back from him in your direction is all that takes for love to blossom and for a happily ever after. But, when you are 26, you have been soured by the realities and practicalities of the world that you think love is nothing beyond a commitment in exchange for a status of marriage hood.

That’s where you are wrong.

Marriage is a lifetime of commitment pegged with countless responsibilities. But, it also entails a whirlwind romance.

Marriage can be a series of silent nights after arguments. But, it is also a sum of the morning kisses and hugs that you begin the day with.

Marriage is weekends spent running between grocery stores and in law’s place. But, such weekends remind you how you shouldn’t take the love that surrounds you for granted.

Marriage is not about who is right or who is wrong. But, rather, about who apologies first even when they are not in the wrong.

Marriage can be a boring routine. But, it only holds true when you embark it with the one that makes even ordinary seem extraordinary.

So hold on even when you think age is catching up on you. Don’t ever settle and sell your sell yourself short. You and love are worth far more than a contractual agreement.

5 thoughts working in a (kiwi) pack house leaves you with.

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After a week long search for a pack house job, Aongatete Cool Store, north of Tauranga/Te Puke employed me! The 9-hour PM shift (5.30pm -2.30am) I did (intermittently) for the span of 3 weeks left me with so many million gazillion thoughts. I’ll attempt to encapsulate my emotions to the best of my ability so that you can have a clear picture as to what you can expect if you end up doing seasonal work of any sort EVER.

  1. As easy and mundane, brainless work appears to be it’s actually far from easy. Standing 8 hours on your feet is no joke at all. Each ticking second makes you discover how each muscle in your body can sing different tunes.
  2. You begin to wonder what your life has come down to and if watching kiwis dropping into cardboard boxes are all that you can ever be responsible for.
  3. For the first time in your life, you ACTUALLY look forward to an alarm sound – signalling break/meal time.
  4. You probably have experienced technology failing on you before and have tried cursing in a million different languages for miracles to happen. But, while working at a pack house, machines breaking down is akin to God answering your year long prayer. The joy when you stop hearing the grind of the machines is unparalleled.
  5. The opportunity to sit each time you answer nature’s call feels like you just won the lottery. The peace, quiet, serenity you enjoy even if it is for a mere 3 minutes is heavenly.

As painful as life was for the 3 weeks, I can never be more thankful for the chance I had to make some money before I continued the rest of my adventures while travelling down the rest of North Island. So, I hope I have given you enough inspiration to find work in a pack house. 😉

All images belong to Solosingaporean unless otherwise credited for. Please give credit where it’s due.

Listless days in the Kiwi capital, Te Puke.

After 2.5 months spent WOOFING and travelling around the top half of North Island, I ran out of money. *Surprise, Surprise (NOT)* Bulk of the SGD5000 I brought along, went towards the purchase as well as unexpected repair costs of my Toyota Estima, which ended up being not so cheap after all. Being down to last few hundreds, felt mostly slightly worrisome.

It was 1 April 2015. We had a good lunch at Good Neighbour at Hamilton (thanks to Grabone), and drove over 100km to Te Puke – the kiwifruit capital of the world. We drove right to East Pack which is one of the bigger pack houses in Te Puke hoping to gain employment rather easily now that kiwi season had just begun. However, we were told to fill up application forms and that employment might happen only in 2 – 3 weeks time. We decided to keep our spirits high and rang up a couple of other big pack houses in Te Puke instead of driving down. Apata, Seeka and Trevelyan’s did not have any sort of a good news for us, as well. We cooked ourselves dinner and called it a day hoping for better days ahead and with more luck in terms of employment.

The second day in Te Puke was spent in Te Puke Library which was home to more foreigners (backpackers) hunched over laptops finding employment than locals. Having no luck with pack houses, we decided to look towards finding fruit picking jobs. As the next day was a public holiday, most leads we had was only resuming work in 2-3 days time. After nearly a full day of searching to be able to start kiwi picking work the following day. We expected to be able to survive with this picking job for a couple of weeks before we heard back from the pack houses. However, that wasn’t the case. A full day out picking in the orchards left us beyond smashed and we didn’t think we could last any longer. As simple as kiwi picking sounds, it is actually serious, tough labour. We earned a total of NZD150, inclusive of holiday pay for the 8 hours of work we did. Unfortunately the pay wasn’t going to be credited to us till next week.

Just as we begun work, which ended up being rather short lived, we started paying rent at an apartment in Papamoa Beach, which was relatively near to where our kiwi picking jobs were supposed to be. Thankfully, the rent we paid was only for a week and was rather affordable (NZD 100/week). We spent the rest of the week trying to keep our spirits up, exploring Tauranga and desperately trying to find some work at the pack houses.

All images belong to Solosingaporean unless otherwise credited for. Please give credit where it’s due.

I am all of her.

I am her silence. But, I’m also her words.

I am her impatience. But, I’m also her ambition(s).

I am her greed. But, I’m also her contentment.

I am her contradictions. But, I’m also her values.

I am her anger. But, I’m also her selfless heart.

I am all of her. My mother.

5 things do in Hamilton!

Going back to where I left off with my NZ adventures brings me to Hamilton. Hamilton quite easily became one of the few towns in North Island which I grew to like and saw myself living in for a while. Perhaps doing helpx in a lovely home added to my enjoyable days in Hamilton. Thanks to Linda and Carys and not forgetting, the wonderful meals I had cooked by Linda. Here’s a couple of things you can do when in Hamilton and maybe, you’ll love the town just as much as I did.

1. Wander around Hamilton Gardens

Coming from a person who is not huge on gardens, trust me Hamilton Gardens is a must go! It’s quite surprising it’s free as the the variety of gardens it boasts is pretty extensive. Its perfect to spend a lazy day just wandering through and having a picnic there.

2. Head down to Waitomo Caves

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When someone mentions glowworms to you the first thing that pops to your mind would probably be Waitomo Caves. Thousands of glowworms call these caves home and light up the dark tunnels with the most magical light show.

3. Visit the Waikato Museum

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Waikato Museum is nothing like the TE PAPA museum down in Wellington but, nonetheless, it boasts some interesting exhibits as well as provides you insight on the history of the Waikato region. And, entry is free so why not?!

For more information: http://waikatomuseum.co.nz/

4. Get lost in Middle Earth

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Situated an hour away from Hamilton, Matamata is a must go for all Hobbiton movie fans! Tours start from NZD 75. I am not a fan at all so I gave this a miss. But, I know of people, heading to North Island just for a tour here.

5. Dine in the Good Neighbour

Good George Dining Hall is worth a visit for it’s brewery. But, unfortunately, it was closed when I went down hence settled for having a quick lunch at Good Neighbour before leaving Hamilton for the kiwi capital – Te Puke!

All images belong to Solosingaporean unless otherwise credited for. Please give credit where it’s due.

Beauty in the ruins, Angkor Wat (Day 1).

Lazy weekday afternoons has gotten me reminiscing of my Cambodia travels last December with le family.

Angkor Wat is often mistaken to be the entire area of temple in Siem Reap. Instead, Angkor Wat is just the grandest highlight that stands tall in the area – Angkor. Passes may be purchased at the main entrance on the road to Angkor Wat. Passes are sold in one-day (USD 20), three-day (USD 40) and seven-day (USD 60) blocks that must be used on consecutive days.

With the grounds of the temples sprawled across huge acres of land and the scorching heat then defeated us quite easily, covering 4 temples in Day One was quite a feat I’d say. Spent the whole morning at Angkor Wat and the afternoon was spent in Ta Phrom, Ta Keo and Phnom Bakheng. We caught sunset in Angkor area and called it a day. We had a catch a good night’s of sleep and rest our tired feet to take on 2 more days in Angkor. #bringiton #butfirstfootmassageplease

All images belong to Solosingaporean unless otherwise credited for. Please give credit where it’s due.