HONG KONG

This is late. Like so, so late. I may have mentioned it briefly, but my family and I were in Hong Kong in August. It was hot. We were sweating almost everywhere we went. It’s kind of unfortunate, but if you ask any one of us about the trip, that’s probably the first thing we’ll tell you about it haha. That’s not to say we didn’t enjoy it there; I don’t know about the others but I loved Hong Kong. I really liked the efficiency, how clean it was, how modern it was, while at the same time flaunting its more rough (?) character.

Anyway. We filmed (if you can even call it that) a lot of bits and pieces while we were there and my sister Julia edited it into a video a while back and here it is! I feel like some parts are so silly and some things might not make sense to you because we provide little context (we’re not ~vloggers~ lol) but I hope you like it anyway!

 

Quizmas & London

SO ME RN.

I’m in London again, and it’s nice. 10-degree weather. Crossword puzzles. Harry Potter movies. Sporcle flags-of-the-world quiz. Watching The Chaser on TV. Cycling the relatively-empty streets at night. Doing the dishes while watching Narcos. Sleeping in until 10.30 am. Finishing book after book. Journaling before bed.

Between the World and Me ❤

Life feels slow. It feels easy. I had a nice day today. We went for a stroll along River Thames, came back to the apartment, watched some TV and then my sisters and I cooked dinner.

There were a bunch of things I had seen recipes of and have been wanting to try, so I decided we make stuffed mushrooms, mashed cauliflower and creamy tomato pasta. Cooking with my sisters is always so much fun because somehow or rather, we always end up laughing hysterically about something. You know the kind where you laugh so much you don’t make anymore sound? Yeah, like that. Today, for example, we couldn’t figure out what was wrong with the dishwasher—it started overflowing bubbles and for some reason that was just hilarious to us. Anyway! I think dinner turned out well, or at least, I was really happy with it and it actually wasn’t too difficult at all. I’m definitely going to try to make mashed cauliflower again when I go back to Penn.

The best part of being on holiday is probably family; playing Sporcle quizzes (which, if you know me, you know I just love) with other people is always 10x more fun. Julia and I played this Harry Potter logic quiz which is kind of like a Sudoku-style logic game and oh my god, we were hooked. We legit spent like 2 hours playing 3 of them (this one was our favourite!) and then we played the flags of the world quiz which for some reason is just always so satisfying. My sisters and I also have been toying around with this crossword puzzle book my mom bought recently but it’s so hard. I’ve only ever done one crossword puzzle in my life and that was Monday’s + with a help of a really smart friend (and, admittedly, a bit of googling). But yeah somehow we still really enjoyed playing them and as I described it yesterday, it “feels like I’m trying to save the universe by cracking some code” (except I was failing which was kinda stressful).

When you’re a visual thinker and you can’t write on your Sporcle screen…

I’m starting to see a puzzle/game-related trend with the stuff we’ve been doing on this holiday which is actually pretty funny although not entirely surprising because I do love a good puzzle game. We’ve also been watching The Chase which is a trivia-ish game show that’s been playing on TV a lot today (the TV says it’s for Quizmas, haha I love it). I don’t quite know how to describe the show but I think trivia is always fun to watch because it’s crazy the sorts of various little things people know!!!

But ok we haven’t just been doing puzzley things. My cousins and I also went cycling around London yesterday night which was a little scary but pretty nice because a lot of the roads were quite empty. We got to see little nooks and crannies of London I had never seen before because we took little back alleys and stuff (some creepy, some pretty). And of course, it’s always always always a good time with my cousins.

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You’re welcome Santander, for the advertising labour.

On the whole though, it doesn’t really feel like vacation. It feels like an alternate version of everyday life where everything is easy and good… or is that what vacations were meant to feel like? I like that for once, my to-do list consists of: read 2 chapters of book of choice, edit pictures on VSCO, wash hair, moisturise/lotion, buy presents. No meetings. No frantically getting from one place to another. No beating myself up for not getting something right. No waking up in the morning to 20 emails (in fact, I got NO emails today, it was beautiful).

I really like it.

Shopping, Ice Cream & A Trip to the Museum | Summer 2016

Hello! I hope you’re well as you’re reading this. I’m quite sore from a recent run and I’m falling asleep in bed as I type this (even though it’s only 10.09 pm over here) but I really just wanna talk about what a fun day I had on Sunday. 🙂 Honestly, if you knew me and you saw the way Sunday panned out, you’d know quite instantly that I was the one who planned it all.

My day started out with a good lie-in, much to my mum’s annoyance, of course hehe. But by about brunch time, we were in Bangsar because my sister Aida wanted to check out dUCk scarves at Fashion Valet and I wanted to get a pair of shoes. I got a cute pair of Nelissa Hilman sandals and I love em! They are pretty comfortable. I only wish they had half sizes because I couldn’t quite fit either a 36 or a 37 for the pair with the crossover straps but I mean, I’m not complaining, the one I got still looks and feels really good!

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My new sandals.

Since we were in the area, I just had to lure my mum and sister to Inside Scoop. Aida had never even been before so we just had to go. I was hoping to get their salted caramel or teh tarik but they had neither. I got mango lassi instead, and I think I like that one most! Ada jugak hikmah kan bila the flavours I wanted takde haha. Aida got Horlicks though, and I’m definitely getting that one next time.

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It was pretty amusing to be walking around Bangsar that day because it was the first weekend Pokemon Go was released in Malaysia, so everyone was like, walking around cautiously with power banks in tow. My mum wasn’t amused at all, though! She’s a pokehater, hahaha. I’m somewhere in between. I’m definitely not going out of my way to do anything pokemon related, but I’d open it every now and then. Currently, I’m on level 5 lol. I think I have like 15 pokemons? I don’t know, I was never really a fan of the show… but I do think the game is really cool.

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After Bangsar, we went to KL to go to BNM’s Muzium dan Galeri Seni at Sasana Kijang. I love driving through KL… I can’t explain it. I just feel so at home, so amazed. I feel like the city is mine.

I’ve been meaning to visit this gallery since last year. I passed by it all the time when I interned there last year and had heard a lot about it. My sister and dad even went there and they said it was good so I was curious. And it was good! I mean, sure, it wasn’t overwhelmingly spectacular but I had just been to Singapore the weekend before and so I was particularly itching to look for local artwork and galleries in KL. I knew there isn’t much so I wasn’t expecting MoMA level exhibitions, but given that, I was impressed. It’s such a step up compared to the museums right smack in the middle of Melaka—our much-boasted-about historical city—which are like, pathetic at best.

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I love the design and feel of the building itself!

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The museum had a few different sections. There was the collection of 59 selected paintings on the top floor in conjunction with the upcoming celebration of 59 years of Malaysian independence. There was a section dedicated to banknotes; from the history of paper money to the intricate designs on a single ringgit note. I loved the exhibition about older forms of currency, like money in the shape of ayam and buaya, money in the time of the British rule, and all of that stuff that we learned in sejarah. It was pretty cool and very well presented too. There was also an economics exhibit, which taught me that in Malay, GDP is translated into Keluaran Dalam Negara Kasar!

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The gallery with all the old forms of money in the different states in Malaysia.

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Imagine stuffing that into your pocket.

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This is where I learned that GDP is KDNK.

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It was really cool to see this, because I learned quite a bit about Import-Substitution in Poli Sci throughout junior year and obviously I was not born yet when it happened so I thought it was cool to see these headlines.

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Queen Elizabeth’s many faces on banknotes.

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I must end by saying I strongly encourage a visit to this museum. I think museum-going culture is really lacking in Malaysia and that all starts with us, right? I personally have always loved going to museums from when I was a child but all that enthusiasm died down as I realised there wasn’t really much of that to do here in KL. My family and I, we have so much fun going to museums when we’re in DC or London and I wish people could have as much fun doing that here too. I want to demand better museums in Malaysia, but I think that requires that I support the ones that are here and are good.

Anyway, that was probably one of my most favourite days all summer so far. I hope you enjoyed reading about it I guess?!

Raya continued | Summer 2016

Believe it or not, I am writing right now on a train. I’m quite impressed that the ERL to KLIA has decent wifi! I have taken half a day off from work because this evening, I will be on a flight to Penang 🙂 I’m quite excited because I think I haven’t been there since late 2012. Gurney Drive awaits me eagerly, I know.

The rest of raya week was fine. We had dinner at Pak Ngah’s house on Friday night and took so many pictures. Mak Ngah made mi goreng which made me very happy because it’s not the typical raya food. The next morning, we went to town to buy kek lapis Sarawak. Then, we left Kuching that Saturday evening.

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Almost the whole family on my mom’s side.
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Aren’t “freestyle” pictures the most awkward things sometimes?!
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The one most decent picture of all the cousins I could find.
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All the girls!
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Julia, Aida, me, Amanina, Amirah, Afifah and Aina

You know, it’s nice to go back to Kuching every now and then. I mentioned this in one of my previous (shorter) posts, but I’m not 100% comfortable there, if I may be so honest. I also don’t speak the language. The other day, my aunty said her house “kenak serbu 5 igik motor” and I felt very alarmed because I directly translated it to “my house got attacked by 5 motorbikes” but what she really meant was that people came to visit her house in 5 cars all at once. We don’t have our own house, and you know what it’s like when you try to use the shower at someone else’s house—you just don’t get it. I don’t know anyone there that well… I’m always whispering to my cousins or my mom asking them whose house we are at. But they are family and as, um, disconnected as I may be, half of my ancestry has many roots there. There’s this house we refer to as Rumah Kampung…. It’s not a general term for any house in any kampung. It’s a specific house which has been in my family for like over a hundred years. My parents even got married there.

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Well, in that house, there’s a picture of lots of people standing in front of the house at what seems to be a wedding. It looks ripped out of a history text book. But those people are my family. It’s so strange to think about. Apparently it was the wedding of my great grandmother’s uncle? Or so I was told. I think it’s really cool that a picture of that moment in time exists for me see.

Anyway, when we got back that Saturday, we freshened up and went right back out to Setia City to get SUSHI (!!!!) and watch Finding Dory with my cousins. I know most people have probably seen it and we’re quite late to the party, but we were waiting until raya to watch it. It was such a cute movie! I had so much fun watching it with my sisters and cousins 😀

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May God protect me from evil and also people who dislike sushi and/or salmon

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God, trust me, it was so difficult going back to work on Monday! I completely forgot I had a job somewhere for that entire week. But I’ve finished a whole week at work since then and now I’m off again! I actually only have so few weeks before I fly back to the states and as always, it’s a scramble to make sure I meet everyone I want to. It’s kinda annoying too because sometimes it can feel more like ticking off boxes on a list of obligations than it does a real friendship and I don’t really know how to deal with that. When I was at Penn, I bemoaned this happening and now I’m surprised it’s happening at home too. And if I should be so honest, it’s also a little tiring like physically and emotionally… because I don’t drive and I usually have to depend on people to get me home or to go out so I’m always troubling someone. And because there are so many people I want to see, so many weeks of work, I feel like I’m not giving everyone the attention I should. I’m doing my best, I guess.


(Uh, disclaimer: this post was published 4 days after I wrote it because I didn’t have access to the pictures I wanted until today)

I’m home | Summer 2016

I think most people know by now, but in any case, I’m home! I’ve been back for about 2 weeks now actually, and I’ve just been spending time at home and chilling with my family because I start my internship the week after next.

It was so much fun, surprising my family by coming home earlier. I was only supposed to be back last Wednesday and stay in Philly a little longer to relax and attend the commencement ceremony, but because my summer job was going to start on the 30th, I thought I’d like some extra time back at home. So, I skipped some meals and forked out a couple hundred dollars to change my flight details. And it was so worth it!

At first, I was really worried it wouldn’t work out because the flight was going to be so longggg and I knew for sure that my parents would be really curious if I wasn’t replying their texts for hours. I mean, so much planning went into this. I even called Qatar Airways to ask if the specific flight I was going to be on would have wifi even though I knew it would cost like $30 (the answer was no). I told my sister Aida about it when she visited me earlier this semester because she’d be in London and wouldn’t really be surprised by my coming home early, and we talked about how she’s going to help cover for me.

My parents did eventually pick up on the fact that I wasn’t replying texts of course, and they even texted my friend Shahirah about it. Sha naturally freaked out, but luckily she kept her cool and didn’t blow my cover. My friend Abrar kindly agreed to pick me up from the airport and I feel so grateful because he had to drive all the way to Sepang from work but it was so nice to see a familiar face and not have to get a taxi when I’m back in my own country. So thankful for the help of these two, really!!

Then, when I was close to my house, I called my sister Julia to get her to open the door for me—she was really confused and shocked. I wish I could’ve properly surprised her too but I didn’t have a house key and I had the idea of surprising my parents in their room for months, and I wasn’t ready to let it go. Also, it was a pretty good idea because she got to film their reaction.

Seriously, when my parents were pissed at me for being AWOL on whatsapp, I was so nearly ready to give up and go like “lol i’m in Doha see u later” but I really really didn’t want to let go of that vision I had. And people ask me, “what if they weren’t home?” or “what if they weren’t in their room?” and to that I say, I don’t know, I just knew they would be. Haha. They were so surprised, it took them at least a good 2 seconds to process it. It was AMAZING. I’m so proud of it. I want to put it on my resume.

But yeah, we just spent the rest of that night chilling. And oh my god, I actually did not experience any jet lag this time around which was great! I was so tired and slept so little throughout the journey that I guess when I got back, I just slept through the night normally because I was so tired. I had to stay in my sister’s room for the whole of last week though because I wasn’t supposed to be home and the plumbers were fixing my room and it was really dirty. I’ve just only moved back into my room and fully unpacked yesterday. I actually haven’t done much or gone out a lot, just mostly goyang kaki as they say, at home.

As I’m writing this, I am really supposed to be asleep because we’re going to Melaka bright and early tomorrow. In fact, I think, so early that it won’t even be bright yet. But I took a precariously long nap this afternoon for some reason and so obviously I’m wide awake. I’m hoping to make a Melaka video tomorrow like the Philadelphia one I made a few weeks back (link here if you wanna see it!) and I’m really excited because I feel like it’s my new hobby… or it could be, I guess, because I’m not quite good at it yet. But that’s all for now! Until next week maybe???? (I don’t know. Not being on a school schedule makes me so unaware of the time.)