Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Hello world,

Song of the moment: On my own - les misérables

It's the season of examinations, which cumulates in a rolling cycle of getting out of bed each day to face my unceasing mountain of readings, stressful afternoons and seeing the world from my bedroom window beam. But it's ironically the season where most philosophical and enterprising thoughts come creeping into your consciousness - what can I say, inspiration doesn't wait for you to be ready, it lurks around and pounces on you on the most unexpected of moments. Seems far from romantic, but that's the beauty of imagination. In other words, just one more week and I'm ready to face the world once again (planning a trip to Nepal, keeping my fingers crossed) and another for R to finally be back, I simply can't wait to see him at the arrival halls ♥ Ciao!

Friday, 22 November 2013

Since when,

Since when did we care about the echoes of the wind,
Whispering of the walls that turn out to no other,
Only to conscience our stream of consciousness.

Since when did we care to mute our melodies,
Songs of heightened aspirations like no other,
Only to have the trickling stream of the shower wash them away.

Since when did we care to hide behind canvases,
Careless calculated strokes distinguishing one from no other,
Only to have them melt to fill the void.

Since when did we care to be jailed by werkenglock,
Empty ticks in days and nights became no other,
Only to grasp a temporary respite from comfort.

Since when did we care so much about reality, only to be indifferent about Life.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

20 seconds of courage,

Art school doodles

“Sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of courage, and I promise you something great will come of it.” 
Revisiting a simple quote by Benjamin Mee from "We bought a Zoo", which truly packs a punch in challenging us to embrace spontaneity amidst our caged up stability. School's out for the year and it has been a good semester - discovering the undiscovered, brain wonders and life inspiring little talks. But the greatest takeaway thus far has seen me plucking the courage (all 20 seconds of it) to sign up for oil painting art classes at LASALLE college of the arts, and juggling academia while assimilating into the world of the artsy fartsy aka assignments and art critiques. Mondays and Tuesdays saw me scuttling around my classes in the University town campus with my big black folder and blank wooden canvases, which sparked off tons of conversations with curious onlookers and a spectrum of responses from "What, are you serious, you're doing this during your senior year in university?" to the much appreciated "Wow, proud of you, good luck!" responses. 

It baffles me on how stifling our environment can be when it comes to learning or appreciating any form of art. At least a quarter of the acquaintances I spoke to genuinely thought I was mad for even wanting to try this out during my senior year in college. "Why now? Aren't you worried about your grades?" they ask, but why not. When I was young, art lessons mesmerized me because I could freely express myself using an array of mediums. I loved school art competitions or any form of art classes, and took part in Batik painting and Chinese calligraphy at a young age (flourishing on compliments and constructive criticisms alike, my mum said the tadpoles I drew in calligraphy classes looked ambiguous if you get my drift). Even through Secondary class, I took each piece of artwork with pride and I would enjoy working on it at different parts of the day! It was safe to say that I always had that art streak in me, but don't raise that eyebrow of yours because it doesn't necessarily mean I have the flair for it, that's a different story. And alas, when it came down to making my choices of subjects, I wasn't courageous enough to take on Art and like any other model Asian kid, went down the path of ignorantly taking up triple sciences. In pre-university, I decided that Medicine/Law was definitely not my cup of tea (sorry mum) because I enjoyed something more outgoing and engaging. I was young, free and serious about challenging myself and taking up Theatre arts in IB but once again thrashed the idea because I was reminded harshly that that would severely close my doors for college. Merely missed opportunities? I think not.

Of course, that didn't stop my creative urge run so I turned to DIY projects and baking, which I simply adore doing in my free time. But instead of harping on what I have missed out thus far, why not look forward and putting those regrets behind. You need to start somewhere right? Taking that 20 seconds of courage to fill up the registration form for my first art class was probably one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life thus far, God given. I love the element of fervour in my teacher's voice that resonates with each and every "Get rid of your inhibitions, this isn't a science course, it's an art class - BE FREE", for it makes me feel so alive in the studio. It's a structured course so techniques, conceptualization, process, bits of history here and there are all covered, and we get to experiment with different styles of colour palettes and paintings i.e. realism, surrealism, abstract, etc. I have yet to complete a full artwork as of yet so below are just snippets of pieces during studio practice. I'm also really blessed to have met a whole bunch of amazing people from all walks of life, shenanigans and singing in the studios is therapy I look forward to every week! Even though some of them clearly have the makings of a professional artist, it's really humbling to learn from them and to witness firsthand how Art does not discriminate and it is not always about how precise your calculated techniques are but how fresh your concepts may be or how receptive you are to new ideas. And of course, gobbling down my dinner whilst people watching on the green before Tuesday classes is something I would really miss.

Hopefully I get to marry the entities of Art and Psychology for clinical art therapy in the future ♥ So here's a push to those with aspirations and those who dream of plunging into fine arts but don't have the full courage to. Like what my teacher always say, "Stop questioning on the exact proportions, painting is an art and the magic of the colours can only be experienced firsthand" - isn't that the same with life at hand? Stop questioning, take that 20 seconds of courage and you won't regret when your palette holds a myriad full of colours.

Art folder outfit

LASALLE college of the arts

LASALLE college of the arts green

Cheese wine party

LASALLE college of the arts

Oil painting street night

Conceptualization item arrangement

Oil painting amateur

teddy bear oil painting

snow mountain oil painting

Oil painting abstract bright

It's my first time dealing with oil paint, I'm currently working on Survival of the fittest: adaptation of nature amidst barren circumstances, as well as experimental art in the artpiece of Hair-voc (end piece will look nothing like the above because I'm still waiting for the first layer to dry, will be drizzled in dark violet and have fine strokes). I love the movement it exudes now though, but couldn't finish it in time for my art critique! And also even though I'm barely half done, it looks ambiguous already - surrealism at its best.

Oil painting kiwi

Take courage, ciao!

Monday, 18 November 2013

Regent's park in winter,

Winter side walks

A throwback to the start of the year: a day out in the snow at Regents park, just a short walk away from my apartment. Snow angels, slippery sidewalks and toes freezing down to my bones building a snow fort for a couple of hours, pretending to be snow ninjas. My fingers were so numb I would have easily bought a 10-pound cuppa coffee by the roadside. And also, an embarrassing picture for your pleasure, taken at a strange angle because my tights had a hole at an unspeakable place. I was also wearing a skirt. Geez good times.

Snow angels

Regent's park london

Regent's park london

Snow angels

Regent's park london

Snow winter fort

Headed back to the comfort of the indoors after a couple of hours in the freezing cold! I love how the transition of winter brings about a drastic change in landscape, with snow blanketing the luscious green locks of the park. There's a dreary sentiment about the fragile thin branches of a bald tree sitting against the white-out of Regent's park, but there's something quite endearing about how it didn't stop the engagement of sports and children a-wandering, which was heartwarming :')

P.S. I created an account (look at my sidebar), so if you have any questions do feel free to use it, thanks to those who have asked!

Sunday, 10 November 2013

DIY lip scrub,

DIY Lip scrub

When I was overseas, the cold winter was often accompanies by the typical sight of dry chapped lips. Now, even though I'm back home in eternal summer (aka Singapore), spending copious amounts of time in air conditioning is inevitable and this can be really drying for the lips. This makes it extremely hard for lip balm or lipstick to stay on, and having bits of dead skin on your lips is not only unsightly but also really uncomfortable. I always can't resist peeling them and they only get worse towards the end of the day. Brands like Lush and The Body shop have lip exfoliants - but for such a trivia matter, they come with a heavy price tag. So why not make this DIY simply with four ingredients which you can find lying around your kitchen!

2.5 tablespoon olive oil
2 flat tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon of lip balm (for flavour)

DIY Lip scrub ingredients

The amount of each ingredient can be varied, depending on how much you want to make (tip: make some for the weeks ahead by keeping it sealed in an airtight container). Olive oil can be substituted by other forms of oil such as Vitamin E capsules or Primrose oil. White sugar is used instead of brown sugar because it's grainer and gives a better exfoliating finish, while honey helps to bind the concoction together and sweetens the deal. I added in some lip balm to make the consistency smoother, and to give it a bit of colour and cranberry flavour bonus! You can try adding Vaseline if you want the consistency to be extra smooth :)

DIY Lip scrub ingredients

Mix the ingredients and viola, DIY lip scrub! Massage them on your lips gently for about 30 seconds and pucker up ♥

DIY Lip scrub

Ciao my lovely readers!

Friday, 8 November 2013

Colour splash,

Fashion outfit forever21 flower dress

I walked into art class the other day wearing a mint dress with matching feather earrings (currently having a penchant for those) and my Burmese friend couldn't be more quick to sprout: "You're finally wearing some colours on yourself!"while my other classmate raised her canvas to show how colour-coordinated I was with her artwork - good times. I have to admit, I'm a fan of brown neutrals and nude palettes, and of course the classical monochrome ensemble...but I'm starting to crawl back into the recesses of my wardrobe to dig up some colour splash into my everyday wear. Especially with R miles away, these colours can really help brighten up my day ♥ On a side note, it puzzles me to no end why some people think fashion is extremely inaccessible or expensive, it's not all about the haute couture labels but being able to improvise and rock that look even if it means you just ripped up half your shirt into a fringe or your bag is a 3 pound thrift store vintage find. 
Oops, I think I'm guilty of both. 

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Vietnam III,

Vietnam countryside building

The last part of my Vietnam backpacking travelogue (see Part I and Part II) saw us trekking further into the countryside of Sa Pa before heading back to Hanoi for the last leg of the trip. Located in the commune of San Kingfisher lake, 4km southwest from the town center, making our way to Thác Tình Yêu (or known as love waterfall) was one of our highlights of our trip. It was a long track, and the visibility was getting worse because of the abundance of water vapour in the air. This in turn made the paths extremely slippery, even though we were geared in our sport shoes. Some paths were clearly strewn with stones which were supposed to allow our soles to have a better grip, but the rain effectively had us walking with zero friction. Needless to say, tripping and falling down the slopes were so common - sometimes even falling down in the midst of helping another person up! Good hiking shoes are so important, lesson learnt.

Unfortunately for me, I learnt it the hard way. While crossing the Thác Tình Yêu stream (translated as: stream of love), I missed my footing whilst hopping from rock to rock and fell in. If you look at the next picture closely, there were yellow and black sea snakes in there, thank goodness I was completely oblivious if not I would have struggled more. Because it was winter in Vietnam (the trip was done in December), the stream was freezing cold and made me drenched from head to toe - even my coat was soaking wet so I was pretty much wet and cold for the rest of the journey. My sister, being my sister, just stood at the other end and laughed. And of course, I became the bane of my mum's jokes from then on too.

Vietnam Sa Pa love stream waterfall

Vietnam countryside Sapa reflections during hiking

Vietnam countryside Sa Pa hiking steps

One thing about hiking is that you're completely surrendered to nature and the unpredictability your path entails, something you don't often get in our concrete urban jungles (although many might argue that the office is somewhat similar). And not to mention being able to marvel in God's beautiful creations such as the intricate details on a spider-spun web or the unique patterns of deadfall trampled over by hikers. In the city, your senses are dulled, for there's always automation to ease you into your daily routine but in nature, you're never in control and your senses jolt awake. That was by far, the best takeaway I had from the trip.

Vietnam countryside spider web hiking

Vietnam countryside Sa Pa waterfall

Vietnam countryside Sa Pa waterfall rapids hiking

Vietnam countryside Sa Pa rapids waterfall hiking

Vietnam countryside Sa Pa waterfall hiking rapids

The Thác Tình Yêu (cascade of love) waterfall is a long tedious trek away, but it was definitely worth the deal for it was really breathtaking! My iPhone doesn't do it justice to capture it in its entirety, but it does bring out the essence of its natural rustic charm. I imagine that in summer time, the locals would like to enjoy a refreshing dip in the waters and frolic by the broken up rock matter. Regrettably, it was winter time so the waters were freezing and we didn't get to go in....although that clearly didn't stop me from falling straight into the stream earlier.

Flowing from the love stream, the waterfall is aptly named Cascade of love. The name is derived from a legend about a love story between Ô Quy Hồ, a woodcutter who was the eldest son of the God of mountain ranges in Laos and the fairy. The waterfall is a natural bath in the legend, where fairies choose to frolic and bath until the sun set; and holds special significance for this woodcutter-fairy couple.

Sa Pa cascade of love waterfall

Vietnam Sa Pa cascade of love waterfall

Vietnam countryside Sa Pa rapids waterfall hiking

We headed back to our rooms to get a quick change of clothes before dinner, I had long forgotten about my wet clothes because I was desensitized to it over time. Also, the sun came up for a meet and greet so my clothes were partially dry (and also extremely stinky). Peeling them wet clothes off and finally being able to sit by the fireplace for warmth was such a joy and relief. The accommodations we stayed in also kept fish and stingrays which were extremely mesmerizing to watch, there's just that hypnotizing feeling about pressing your face against the tank and entering a whole new ecosystem. Life's quirks, really. These creature portraits were taken on the last day before we headed back to Hanoi on the sleeper berth train. Products of my sentimental emotions.

Vietnam fireplace

Vietnam fish tank

Stingray Vietnam tank

We left Sa Pa for Hanoi late evening, and took the same overnight sleeper train back to city life. Exhausted from the physical fatigue of all the trekking, we slept through majority of the train ride and it was smoother than expected - there were also no drama because we were more certain of the schedules. We reached Lao cai railway at Hanoi round 4am and picked a cab driver amongst the throng of hassling drivers (note: be sure to know the estimated cost of your trip before approaching a driver). And not to mention, the chaotic circumstances coupled with the lack of sleep was guaranteed to make your head spin. 

So, there we were in a cab at 4am in Hanoi. The streets are quiet and the occasional flickering street light was a little spine-chilling but I was tired so I mostly just stared out of the window in a daze. Hanoi streets and peace just seem like a paradox in itself, so a quiet change was nice. But to our horror, the cab driver drives us down to an empty road and tells us that we have reached our destination....pointing to a building with the shutters completely closed and locked. At 4am and having nowhere to go, a little panicking was legitimate. The driver helps us call the hotel staff, but it diverts it to a Vietnamese speaking telephone operator and we have no clue how to decipher what our driver was telling us. But it's 4am and we aren't thinking, so my parents had this brilliant idea of knocking on the shutters loudly, which magically awoke the security guards inside. Apparently, the hotel was still functioning, but the guards closed it so they could get some shut eye - how convenient! 

Thinking we had our full dose of drama our day could offer, we checked in with the reception and managed to get our room keys promptly. However, we were given the wrong room keys on the first attempt at a check-in and on the second time, when we switched on the lights and finally wanted to settle down.....we found a naked Korean guy sleeping on the bed looking really confused because we woke him up. I have previously posted about this because this was just absurdly ridiculous! Turns out that the guy was a cook or a kitchen staff because we saw him at breakfast (talk about awkward) and he probably took a key card to get some shut eye as well. It was however, a perfect breakfast conversation and I relive that absurdity once in a while.

The next morning, we took a 3.5 hour drive to Ha long city from Hanoi city centre, and the Ha long bay boat trip took about 5 hours journey round trip. We cruised through the emerald waters between the limestone outcrops and long sea corridors, and stopped by the Thien Cung Grotto cave in the island of Dau Go. It's quite overwhelming at first because of the well preserved statues and reliefs, as well as the natural formations of stalactites and stalagmites formed millions of years ago. This is the largest grotto in Ha long bay and also the most beautiful one, covering 3000 square meters of amazement and 25m above sea level. There are panes showing legends of how each stalactite is formed, so it was like an Art museum. The boat ride itself was very relaxing, and the top deck was open for us to chill on deck chairs and enjoy the sea breeze.

Halong bay cruise

Thien Cung Grotto cave Dau Go island

The rest of the city was rather dull because of the poor visibility which rendered the famous Hanoi lake almost impossible to appreciate. The city buzz and traffic made the contrast between country and city life really apparent though, whilst the countryside was peaceful and calm, the city offered snapshots of locals entwined in their personal stories - the cyclo driver, the gold trader or that hawker peddling around makeshift stores with beads of sweat dripping down under her nón lá (leaf hat). There's never a dull moment in the city. Just standing at the corner of a random street offers you a wealth of insight, albeit not being the most pretty sight but observe and you'll get Vietnam unedited.

Hanoi city church fog

Hanoi lake fog

Hanoi forest

Good bye Vietnam, your unpredictability and unpretentious facade has been a pleasure to explore. I'm not sure if I'll be back anytime soon, but it was definitely an experience to wander on your grounds.


Sunday, 3 November 2013

Lazy daisy,

Lord leycester hospital

Hello folks! The title holds a half truth, and I would like to think of myself as the dainty flower without an ounce of inertia but of course, it's really up to you to interpret. The past month has seen me labouriously checking off my college deadline to-do lists, meeting friends who flew off for their overseas terms, starting up our LDR once again and just getting used to being in senior year. I've also gotten myself a bundle of joy in a form of a big black folder, which holds my studio essentials for art school. Juggling between college and art school can be quite a strain at times, especially the shuttling from my Psychology seminar which ends around 6:45pm @ Kent ridge to my class at 7pm @ Lasalle every Monday - and to make matters worse, the peak hour jam exacerbates my situation. But all's good because God willing, my classmates and teacher are all extremely understanding and fill me up on what I've missed out on. And studio time is such therapy ♥

Insightful talks with amazing classmates with whom I've grown close to really remind me how precious life is and how we tend to take our freedom for granted - freedom to love, freedom of speech and freedom for religion alike. To be able to share openly about grievances and intense experiences within the coziness of the studio is a blessing, and really opens my eyes to underlying issues that may not be as apparent to a layperson. Funny how Art brings all of us from different cultures, nationalities and ages together.

R and I have also started up our LDR again, which is quite a bummer because I've gotten so used to having him by my side that it felt really unnatural for him to suddenly be a thousand miles away from home. Skype and whatsapp have nevertheless been such a delight to communicate through, and we're finally down to just 43 days of reuniting, I can't wait! Sometimes I just get the urge to hop onto the next plane ride out to London....while it feels really lonely at times, I think it's part and parcel of getting used to it and on the bright side, I get more personal time aka DIY and painting time (Just made a DIY fringe shirt, keep a look out for that). Counting down really helps with storing up motivation, or making plans way ahead of time so you can look forward to them,  here's a quick shout out to couples in the same boat to have faith ♥

On a lighter note, I've recently revamped the layout here and I love the refreshing change! Many of the tabs are still in construction, and will be updated soon. My inner geek is looking for more ways to improve the interface so do let me know if you have any comments for improvement or how you think about it please :) I've also started some new upcoming personal project such as featuring young talents and their stories, for I think it's truly inspiration to hear about their journeys and aspirations for the future. If you're looking to be featured, do drop me an email at

Oh and before I forget, I've recently jumped the bandwagon (I know, I'm like a mountain tortoise in this) and hopped over to Instagram, so join me on Instagram with a click of a button below! Ciao and thanks for reading, hope you had a lovely weekend, I'll surely update soon ♥

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