OMG 2015!

Today’s the eve of NYE! I still have so many posts pending from my 5-week long travel in Australia and my 7-day Cambodian adventure. I thought the lack of a 9-5 job would translate to me having A LOT of free time. But, I cannot believe that December is almost drawing to a close. I reckon I’ve been busy getting adjusted with the rhythm of routine while spending time with familiar faces.

2014 has been the roughest in terms of friendships. But, having said that, I’m also glad most of them have weathered the tough times fairly well. I’m thankful also, for the courage I had to walk away from a job that was comfortable, but no longer helped me grow and made me happy. I bade my goodbyes, packed my bag and left to do some soul-searching about 4000 miles away from home. That has been by far the best decision I’ve made in a really long while! The highlight of the year was getting my first article published in Tripzilla Magazine!

From clockwise (starting from top left hand corner) – Halong Bay, Vietnam (Feb/Mar), Penang, Malaysia (Apr), Langkawi, Malaysia (Aug), Yangon, Myanmar (June), Great Ocean Road, VIC, Australia (Oct/Nov), Siem Reap, Cambodia (Dec), Adelaide, SA, Australia (Nov), Fraser Island, QLD, Australia (Apr/May), Nha Trang, Vietnam (Sep)

I have never been this excited before for a brand new year unfolding. I’m stoked to be spending the first half of 2015 in… NEW ZEALAND! I’ve got 4 more years to go before I hit 30, which means I’ll be too old for working holiday visa, so I’ve taken another leap of faith into darkness. I’ve got no concrete plans on what I’m going to do and how I’m gonna make decent dollars. All I have with me is a list (that keeps increasing as days pass) of all the places I’ve got to see in North and South Island. #travellerproblems I’m planning to arrive with my 20kg luggage and see where my restless feet take me.

All I wish for is that the year ahead helps me grow in ways I can possibly never imagine. Have a blessed year ahead readers! See you in 2015! Till then, travel safe and live free!

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

Travels for the year 2013!

2013 saw me travelling quite a fair bit. Bali, Melbourne, Sydney, Cambodia  Penang, Yogyakarta and then concluding the year with Sri Lanka. My highlight, of course, will be overcoming my inhibitions and attempting my first solo travel to Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Although, it was a short 4D3N, the trip taught me a lot on solo travelling.

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Sunset at Seminyak beach, Bali

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Post lunch smiles, Bali

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Kuta Beach, Bali

Bali, May 2013: A 3-night getaway with a couple of friends. Beach, sunset and laughter over cocktails. Got ourselves inked only for it to last not more than an hour. Also, my slippers that almost sailed away in the waters while at Tanah Lot. Oh, the fun times.

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Mt Buller Ski Resort, Melbourne

Melbourne, June 2013: A week of adventures with the sister. Tried out skiing for the first time. Amidst all the crashings and butt-aches was a memorable stay at Mt Buller. Watched 3 movies over the span of a week I was there. Felt like a local rather than a tourist. No surprises there, given my frequency in visiting Australia. Myriad of asian cuisine range conquered: Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese and Japanese. Survived -10 degrees for 30 minutes in Chill On Bar. Relived bits of our childhood watching Circus Oz.

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Sydney Harbour Bridgeclimb: Check!

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Skydiving: CHECK!!

Sydney, August 2013: Sole purpose of this last minute travel was to conquer the Harbour Bridge Climb. Ended up, I conquered one of my biggest fears as well – tandem skydiving! At times, I still cannot digest the fact I went through with this decision. Plus given the fact I was alone, I must be quite brave I think. After all that adrenaline rush, spent the next 2 days in Manly just chilling. Manly is such a perfect beach town, you can just wake up, stumble into a coffee house and laze the day away, without feeling any tinge of guilt. Most spontaneous travel decision ever. And also, by far, my most favourite trip to Sydney.

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Ice ball making in process, Penang.

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Roadside chendol, Penang

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Street vendor selling banana pancakes, Penang

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Dim sum buffet for breakfast, Penang

Penang, October 2013: Nothing but a 3 day galore of food, food and more food. And I mean, GALORE. I’m sure my pictures are a testament to it.

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Borobudur, Yogyakarta

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Borobudur, Yogyakarta

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Borobudur, Yogyakarta

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The stranger who literally saved my life, Yogyakarta

Yogyakarta, November 2013: Highlight #1: My first (real) solo travel. Highlight #2: Catching sunrise at Borobudur which costed me nearly SGD 100. Was definitely worth it though. I won’t forget how I was almost stranded on Parangtritis Beach, 5 hours before my flight. The stranger (pictured above) showed me what kindness truly is and brought me back home for a nominal amount.

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Background of Sigiriya Rock from Hotel Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

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Scenic boat ride, Sri Lanka

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Footsteps in the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka

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Chaaya Blu Trincomalee, Sri Lanka

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The Golden Temple of Dambulla, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka, December 2013: 10 days, 10 pax, clocked 1800km on the road. Truckloads of memories. Nothing beats the euphoria of scaling Sigiriya Rock (Lion’s Rock) despite the bad weather condition as we started our ascend. Waking up in Kandy at 6am to a full moon amidst the mist. Watching sunset at Galle. Will be doing up a full post on Sri Lanka very soon.

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Amidst all my travelling, I juggled a new job that has taught me so many things I love and hate about the real world. Obviously more hate, than love. But anyways.

Also, I decided to give accounting a shot and enrolled myself in ACCA. Have completed 3 papers till date.

Got myself a basic rock climbing certification.

Did a couple of runs. Conquered my first 10km at Sundown.

2013 has been by far the toughest year to get by. I’m glad I’m still surviving and standing strong. I recall that fateful span of 3 days in July where I lost 2 very dear people. There are days I just wanna crumble and disappear out of this world. The void is so indescribable that I have quit writing. But, there are other days I wanna live to make you’ll proud. Those days help me get by.

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I will live to make you proud.

I’m planning to march in to 2014 without any expectations whatsoever. I’m gonna quit wishing for things to happen and take things as they come along.

Keep writing your goals for the year ahead and, if necessary, re-write them as you go along. After all, we have got another year to get it right. Have a blessed year ahead folks!

Till we meet again,

Ram-leela – enemies (in love).

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The intensity and fearlessness of Ram and Leela’s love is portrayed magically by Sanjay Leela Bhansali in this modern day epic love story. Despite a rather weak plot which revolves solely around “Romeo and Juliet”, Padukone’s portrayal as Leela blows you away. Apart from the gorgeous lenghas she looks like a queen nearly every second of the film, Padukone does justice by giving her character depth. Ignoring Ram’s heavily oiled torso, which is bare nearly half the time, Leela’s beauty keeps you enthralled. I managed to get by the movie majorly due to Leela and also, the electrifying chemistry between both leads. If you look past the dramatic sequences and focus on the grandeur and flamboyance of each scene, you will love Ram-leela.

2.5/5

Blue Jasmine, must watch!

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Woody Allen films are always a must watch for me, so Blue Jasmine was no different (despite not watching the trailer beforehand).

Cate Blanchett’s acting bowled me over at the end of the 99 minutes. The way Jasmine’s story unfolds and the fragility of the character comes through to the audience is unlike any other Woody Allen movie. Despite some lapses in the narrative, Blanchett’s acting leaves you glued to the screen.

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So, trust me, just go catch Blue Jasmine. You don’t even need to bother with the trailer. You’ll love it.

Stoked by Park’s Stoker.

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Stoker, the first English film directed by Korean director Park Chan-Wook caught my attention in a matter of seconds with its trailer. This film deals with the psychology behind violence rather than violence itself, like Park’s previous films.

Plot by Rotten Tomatoes: After India’s (Mia Wasikowska) father dies in the car accident, her uncle Charlie who she never knew existed comes to live with her and her emotionally unstable mother (Nicole Kidman). Soon after his arrival, she comes to suspect this mysterious, charming man has ulterior motives, but instead of feeling outrage or horror, this friendless girl becomes increasingly infatuated with him.

The visuals are precise. The way the story unfolds really keeps you on the edge. The spiders add to the eeriness if the character Charlie Stoker played by Matthew Goode doesn’t. I literally gasped in awe at the scene of India combing her mum’s hair transforms to the paddy fields where India and her dad used to go hunting in. Park builds horror and suspense with his audience with simple and subtle images that leave you stoked.

India’s dad philosophy which India holds close to her, is by far my favourite line from the movie. “Sometimes you have to do something bad, to keep you from doing something worse.”

Be sure to enjoy this thriller by Park that blends together with a coming-of-age tale filled with psycho-sexual imagery and share my enthusiasm!

Credit to Hot Butter Review for the above image.

The Patchwork Marriage by Jane Green.

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I wasn’t having high expectations when I picked this book up as this is my first Jane Green novel. However, I’m glad to say, it outdid my expectations.

I enjoyed this book especially because, the author changes the viewpoint of the reader half way through the novel. I enjoyed seeing things through the shoes of Emily which made me feel for her character more.

Patchwork marriage, as the title suggests, is about family, love, divorce, kids. And also, teenage pregnancy and all the drama that follows suit.

“Sometimes, leaving the ones we love is the only we can take care of ourselves, and it’s the hardest thing in the world to do, but sometimes it’s the right thing to do.”

Rating: 3/5

What 2012 was all about!

In no particular order.

– I quit a job I hated dragging my feet to every morning!
– Did a studio photoshoot with my friends!
– Attended Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” Concert!
– Celebrated my birthday in Hong Kong!
– Celebrated another good friend’s in KL!
– Penang with my siblings. Memories include a dodgy motel/hostel/whatever and me writhing in pain and discomfort after taking a gamble on a suspicious looking massage parlour. Also, playing arcade games on the last day like a 5 year old kid.
– Let love in and decided to let it go.
– Many sober and happy nights! And many drunk ones as well!
– Carousel for my 24th!
– Discovered so many awesome food haunts!
– Midnight brunch @ Wild Honey and champagne for the first time!
– Attended so many funerals.
– Spent over RM800 on seafood for 13 pax!
– 18-day roadtrip in Australia with my siblings! #besttimeofmylife 
– Almost died behind the wheels. 
– 1 weekend madness in Gold Coast which involved a family photoshoot! #awesome
– Travel highlight #1: Brighton bathing box, Melbourne!
– Felt really old when I voluntarily decided to go for a full body medical examination.
– Almost got cheated of SGD 550.
– My cousin got married!!
– Executed the best birthday surprise ever by flying in to meet my sister! (don’t think I can ever top this surprise off)
– Bangkok for 4 days and I swear I’ve never walked this much in my life before!
– Decided to give public blogging a shot! Thank you all for your support to Solosingaporean thus far! I’m always eternally grateful to one and all!
– Fell in love with Japanese food!
– Won free passes for couple of movies! Thanks to radio 91.3FM!
– Universal Studios Singapore thrice this year alone! I’m officially sick of it!
– Attended the worse concert of my life thus far. Poor audio, poor singers. Oh my!
– Shreya Goshal live!
– Worked for SGD 8 per hour and also scored SGD 80 without doing anything!
– Best buys of the year: My polaroid and Ipad! 
– Top movie: Tie between Stricken and Perks of Being a Wallflower!
– After 4 months of being unemployed, I’m starting my new job tomorrow! Wish me luck!
 
Happy new year folks! Screw the mayans, we’ve got 1 more year to get it right! Let’s get started! So, bring it on, 2013!
 

Guest post: Thoughts on Moonrise Kingdom

This piece below has been contributed to solosingaporean by fellow movie enthusiast, P.

Anderson’s most mature film to date, Moonrise Kingdom serves up a dose of French-like naïveté with equal parts of heady romanticism and a wariness of love.

All the times I have gone to see a Wes Anderson movie, I have always had the nagging feeling of being transported to a miniature Toyland. Whilst not necessarily bad, I always felt like I was watching the same type of movie. In that sense, Anderson has always been a very specific director, aiming for a certain whimsy and focusing his energies on sculpting a particular aesthetic that serves to divide audiences to this day because either one likes it, or one doesn’t. I have always been in the latter camp only because I feel that Anderson’s considerable talents are far more suited to the intricate stylings of the animated world (indeed, his career best achievement is still Fantastic Mr. Fox) only because I have always felt that his characters in past movies always seem to be not in tandem with reality. With this movie however, Anderson serves up realism in spades and then some.

The movie essentially revolves around a fur hat wearing khaki scout, Sam (a very Ron Swanson-esque Jared Gilman) and a music, book loving jaded hipster Suzy Bishop (Kara Hayward who recalls Markéta Irglováin Once) and how their relationship and subsequent elopment fractures the respective communities they are a part of.

The movie zips by and at a brisk 94 minutes, it felt like a play more than a movie at times. The heavy dose of theatricality heaped upon the set pieces made the movie feel even more intimate.  However, the at-first charming yellow filter that smacks suspiciously of Instagram, grew ingratiating by the second act. That said, the movie is extremely well edited and the score is marvelously adept in expressing what the movie wants the audience to feel. But where the movie works, is the acting. For me, the MVP of the movie was without a doubt, Bruce Willis, who plays Captain Sharp, a policeman responsible for finding the two runaways. He brings a machismo that saves the movie from becoming too precious; and his scenes with Gillman rank among the most touching in the movie.  The two leads are capable though Hayward came across as a bit wooden at times.  The rest of the cast give brilliant supporting turns with especial mention to Frances MacDormand and Edward Norton (as Suzy’s mother and Sam’s Scout leader respectively) who infuse their roles with reality, together with that Anderson whimsy, making their characters seem almost tragic. In fact, when Mrs. Bishop talks to her daughter about love, she makes it seem like a warning for her daughter not to follow in her footsteps, making it a stilted, tender moment that allows the audience to sympathise with her largely detestable character.

With humour, charm and wit, Moonrise Kingdom is Anderson’s most mature film to date (certainly ironic, given the dominant role that children play in this movie) as it takes love head-on and asks “Does age even matter in love?” (PK).

Credit to Hot Butter Review for the above image.

Love life – Stricken.

Disclaimer: This is gonna be a heavy post. 

I might be somewhat of a morbid person cause I have a strong liking to watch movies that make me cry and literally hold my heart in my hands. I actually enjoy sitting through a movie where I constantly feel as though I’ve a dagger slashed up against my throat. Where I get so immersed in the film and the characters, that nothing else around me matters. Don’t get me wrong, I can enjoy a light-hearted rom-com just as much, but if you give me an option between a movie that would make you cry and one that you will laugh your stomach out, I’d choose the former.

That was exactly how I felt watching Stricken. It was a very good film I have enjoyed after a long time. A movie that made me cry, laugh (amidst my tears), think and question.

Is cheating nature or nurture? Is terminal illness an excuse for one to cheat? Are you expected to slip in the face of adversity? Are you expected to stay faithful even after your partner has passed on? Who has it harder, the one who has the cancer or the partner battling with losing the love of his life? Would you rather live life knowing how you many more months you have to live or live in the not knowing? Would you still love your husband if you know he’s cheating on you while you’re here battling cancer? How do you feel about the nights you spend in the toilet puking, while the one you promised to have and hold on to, in sickness and in health , ’till death do us apart is satisfying his lust with the body of another woman? The one with a better body and perfect breasts.

Here’s a good review about this film.

If you haven’t already deduced, this film is about love, cancer, cheating and fatherhood. I might even want to re-watch this again. Am I weird? Yes, I think so cause I like to battle sadness with sadness. I listen to sad songs when I’m sad. I hope I’m not alone in this.

Do you enjoy/hate watching movies that make you cry?

On the topic of grief and death, this article (Comforting that collides with grief) is a worthwhile read.

“Of all the things we learn as we go through life, learning how to express grief and sorrow is not among them until you are face to face with it.”

“I do”.

My recent picks in films clearly hasn’t served me well, but nonetheless, I need to write/rant about them.

1. My last day without you (2011)

On a one-day business trip to New York, a young German business executive falls in love with a singer-songwriter who exposes him to her Brooklyn world and emotions he’s never experienced before.

2. Take me home (2011)

Soon after Thom starts operating as an illegal taxi driver in New York City, Claire hires him to drive her to California after her estranged father suffers a heart attack.

3. Take this waltz (2011)

A happily married woman falls for the artist who lives across the street.

4. Last night (2010)

The story follows a married couple, apart for a night while the husband takes a business trip with a colleague to whom he’s attracted. While he’s resisting temptation, his wife encounters her past love.

Apart from the first film, the remaining 3  center around the plot of a married woman falling for another man. Last night includes both husband and wife falling for another person.

I then begin to wonder about love, marriage, vows, faithfulness. What all of these mean. What they are supposed to mean. The notion of marriage. The reason behind the words “I do”.

“You can be happy and still be tempted.” – Micheal Reed, Last night

Is it possible? Does love entail being exclusive? Being faithful? Is love second-guessed when you cheat or even when the mere possibility of it runs through you? Does love have the strength to endure an affair or a temptation? Do affairs cancel out if both husband and wife cheat only to realize it was nothing but a meaningless kiss or bodies that lusted for each other? Or does there lie a bigger truth behind the reason for the affair to begin with or for there to have been temptation at the very least? Unhappy, dissatisfied marriages? Or, curiosity to tiptoe the lines (i.e. boundaries) the marriage has been built around? Is love that powerful an emotion to ensure Man, both genders alike, steer away from the lust and temptations that lurk around them, outside the monogamous marriage and  relationships they are engaged in. Is this what love is all about? Monogamy?

With regards to succumbing to temptations, is there a weaker gender? Men or women? Or is it a question of the strength in willpower rather than gender per se?

“I saw you this morning, and in the middle of most nights when I can’t sleep, I still replay you.” – Joanna Read, Last night

I hope I find the my answers to these, before I say “I do”.