Wednesday, January 31, 2018

2017: In Hindsight

"We all pine for a time in life when things were simpler. Even when they weren't necessarily simpler, hindsight makes them look a lot simpler. The reality of it was that it wasn't."
 - Ben Gibbard

Truth to be told, I spent the majority of 2017 feeling very... lost. I was feeling pretty lost both professionally and personally. Professionally, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with my career and if the new opportunity I took on was right for me; personally, I felt like I could be doing, or should be doing better at personal growth and self-development.

It's again the feeling that, at this age, I thought I would have everything figured out. And while I have come to terms that it's impossible to have everything figured out at any point in life - because let's face it, life is about constant change and growth, as well as adapting to new challenges; I just thought... I would be further along the journey somehow. Some days I almost feel like I'm being ungrateful... I live a very blessed life and yet, why am I not content? Why is this not enough? Will anything ever be enough?

Nevertheless, I also recognize that it's a privilege to feel this way. I mean if you think about it, to be able to think about self-actualization means all my basic needs are being fulfilled, and I'm not worrying about food, shelter, relationships, or any of the survival necessities. Who knew Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs would actually be useful outside the classroom one day! 😅

Having said that, 2017 was also filled with wonderful moments of joy. As with every year, there are ups and downs, but I think I can safely say that despite feeling lost, the moments of happiness far outweigh the moments of sadness, and I am incredibly thankful for that. 😊

Here are some of the highlights:

1. Good food + good company on the first day of the new year

Welcomed the new year with yummy Japanese food at one of our favourite restaurants, after our #watermelonmelonsojusquad sleepover at Melia's.

Spent the afternoon chilling over coffee and working on our CMB profiles 😆

2. Last mamak catch up with Mel before she flew back to Perth

Meet ups are always an enjoyable affair with this one!

3. Family time with the sister before she flew back to Brissie + Tweety's birthday

Complete family portrait with E2 still in Tweety's tummy! 

Also managed to celebrate Tweety's birthday just before Minny flew back to Aussieland. Look at how precious E1 looks in his little shirt! 😍

4. Early Tres Amigas Buenas CNY Celebration

Had an early, impromptu celebration at Mitasu coz Adele was due to fly back to Sydney on the first or second day of CNY.  

5. CNY in BKK

Reunion dinner at one of our favourite Thai restaurants in Central World! Couldn't be happier to spend the first few days of CNY in one of my favourite cities in the world!

Gorgeous BKK weather that greeted us upon arrival. Bangkok was actually very festive during CNY. Most of the malls had CNY decorations, plus we even caught a dragon dance near our hotel! I haven't seen a dragon dance in years, coz KL mostly has lion dances.

Also managed to try Jamie's Italian and was not disappointed! I've heard mixed reviews about his restaurants, but the food was was great when we visited.

6. CNY meet ups + celebrations

Chinese New Year is definitely one of my favourite festive periods (the other one being Christmas). After spending the first few days in BKK, the rest of CNY was spent feasting and catching up with friends and family.

Just a chill day catching up on each other's lives over lunch and coffee with Kit Mun who was back from HK! Just like our college/uni days 😌

Annual primary school CNY gathering! Amazed that we have not skipped a CNY meet up for close to... 14 years now!?

High school hotpot meet up with Hui Wei who was back from Melbourne.

House visiting and karaoke at Wei Wei's.

Family time at Pei Tze's open house - quite a few of the cousins were away for CNY this year so it was a pretty quiet affair.

Jowee's open house, which had really good food! 😋

Brought E1 to catch an acrobatic lion dance performance, actually also my first acrobatic lion dance performance in years!

Family time with the BIL's family. The point of this photo is to showcase how cute E1 looks in his CNY baju 😍

Cannot get enough of this cheeky face!!

Last yee sang of the year with the #allterraineers ! We opted for a leicha yee sang to switch things up a bit.

7. Galentine's dinner

Celebrated Valentine's day at our favourite Japanese joint with these lovely ladies.

8. Eventful Zouk night out

The night our friendship leveled up lol 😅 Moral of the story is: always keep an eye on your drinks and each other.

9. My superwoman's birthday

I'm incredibly grateful to have an amazing superwoman momma and that she's healthy and fit 🙏

10. Last day of work + SPD celebrations

Though it was a short stint here, I am grateful that the people were welcoming and easygoing. 

Celebrated by going for St. Patrick's Day later that night, where we were reunited for our love of Guinness. Jowee won me a Guinness umbrella, which I've been wanting for a while! 😘

11. Hiking as a hobby

I would say 2017 is the year I really picked up hiking as a hobby, as we made a pretty consistent effort to go hike whenever we could. 

Special thanks to the #allterraineers for being super patient with me, coz I'm usually the slowest haha 😝 

Climbed Broga for the first time! My overall fitness levels have seriously deteriorated, coupled with my fear of heights (especially when descending), do not make a great combo. But I'm proud that I generally pushed through it and made it to the end!

Momma joined us one time too!

12. Baby E's space-tacular birthday

How is this cutie pie two already? Time really just seems to whizz by. 😨 He's no longer a baby but a little, curious toddler who loves planets and can name all of them, even the dwarf planets! Such excellent memory at such a young age.

He's also obsessed with the phases of the moon and wants to be an astronaut when he grows up! 😆 He's at such a precious age... watching him grow is so interesting and rewarding, but at the same time I wish he could remain like this forever!

13. Celebrating with the other March babies

Charissa's birthday was nice, chill night out.

Dad's birthday with my parents looking like a happy traffic light lol 😄

14. The arrival of baby E2

So the story is that my sister had super spicy tomyum pasta in the afternoon, and that evening her contractions started and she gave birth shortly after 😹 We henceforth jokingly refer to that restaurant's tomyum pasta as "the pasta that was so spicy it popped E2 out" 😅 


15. Yellowclaw @ KL Live

We were a little bummed we only managed to catch about 15 to 20 minutes max of Yellowclaw's set during DWP16, coz of the crazy crowd and confined space. But the universe heard our prayers and granted us a night of heart-pounding Yellowclaw beats with ample space to jump around and enjoy! My only complaint was that the sound system could have been louder and better.

#DWP16 squad reunited!!

16. Coldplay in Singapore

Watching a Coldplay concert live is a bucket list item I managed to tick off in 2017. I'll be honest and say that when I was younger I knew of their songs, but wasn't a super big fan. They had a concert in Brissie while I was there, but I didn't think too much of it at the time. However, as I got older and really listened to their lyrics, the songs really spoke to me. 😭 #allthemfeels

Tickets were sold out within minutes, but I was super lucky that WY qualified for pre-sale tickets and offered to help me out with purchasing, since she was camping for her tickets as well. We had no trouble at all, thanks to her! The concert was everything I imagined it would be and more. Really #noregrets and so, so glad we got to experience it.

Although it was a short 2 days 1 night trip, we actually managed to squeeze in quite a few things! Visited Central Perk cafe and sat on the iconic orange Friends couch.

Met up with Manda who made reservations for us at Bread Street Kitchen by Gordan Ramsay. I still dream about that divine banana toffee pudding we had 😋

Manda treated us to Future World exhibit at the Art Science museum, which was all the rage then! Other than it being very aesthetically pleasing, we had a lot of fun with the interactive exhibits, and colouring our spaceships to make 3D cutouts. A short but sweet trip for sure!

17. Embarked on a new career adventure

First day of work in our new office. It hasn't been a smooth sailing journey all the way, but I am grateful for the opportunity nonetheless. I was also really pleased that the office was only 10 minutes away from home. Made the commute to work so much shorter and more pleasant! I could also pop home for lunch sometimes and see the kiddos, which made working independently a lot more bearable. 

18. Baby E2's 2 weeks old + full moon celebrations

Minny came home to see Baby E2 around the 2 week mark and we had a little mini celebration, coz she wouldn't be around for the full moon. We had a slight cake fiasco, with the cake turning out nothing like the photo we sent, complete with a glaring grammatical error, which was very disappointing given that this is the same baker that made my very awesome unicorn cake last year. Oh well, at least it tasted decent! 

Cousins at Baby E2's full moon lunch.

Baby E2 is just like: are y'all done yet? 😒

19. Melia's birthday

Drinks at Baratas to countdown to her birthday.

Then a delightful, girly dinner at Roost.

Followed by an eventful night of drinks 😅

20. The night Menya Hanabi forever changed my world

I am not exaggerating, if you have not tried mazesoba, you are missing out!! Please make a trip ASAP, your tastebuds will thank you. This was probably the best gastronomic discovery of 2017! 😍 Yes, it is that good.

21. Best island holiday ever - #SATCinLombok

Lombok was a real dream come true! The sea was so clear and blue, it felt unreal, but it was all so very real and picturesque. 😍 Fulfilled my personal goal of travelling to a new destination every year by choosing Lombok, plus the combination of the company and place made it a super memorable trip!

Cycled one whole round around Gili Trawangan. The last time I cycled was maybe 3 years ago in Brissie? 

Walked out all the way into the middle of the ocean, and then scooted back really quickly when the tide started coming in. 😅

Ombak Sunset swings ticked off the bucket list! This was always a dream destination coz there's so many images of Gili T floating around on the web. Couldn't believe we were actually there and that it was every bit as beautiful as the photographs we've seen!

Saw sea turtles for the first time while snorkeling and so many different types of fishes!

Hiked through a water tunnel supposedly built by the Dutch. The tunnel was pitch black and we had to go single file while avoiding holes and rusty metal, with the strong water current swirling around our legs. I honestly thought our guide was joking when he told us that we'd be climbing down what looked like a longkang and going through it to go back out, but we gamely went and emerged victorious lol 😄

The majestic Tiu Kelep waterfall was well worth the hike! The force of the water was so strong that I was legit worried about my contact lenses popping out of my eyes at one point 😅 However, we were greeted with the most beautiful rainbow underneath the waterfall and it was worth getting pummeled by water to witness it.

Lombok was also the first official overseas trip with the BFF of 20 years! Not counting Melbourne coz I was technically just visiting while she was studying there.

As with any trip, a fair share of unexpected things happened too - Jowee stepped on a piece of really sharp shell while we were taking a photo, and started bleeding like crazy, so we had to make a trip to the doctors to make sure everything was ok; I slipped and fell while walking down a steep slope on the way to breakfast and banged up my knee pretty badly - the scar has not faded yet to this day 😩; we witnessed a bird unintentionally commit suicide by flying into our hotel room's glass door 😧. But these were also what made the trip memorable and gave us more stories to tell!

We were also blessed with a lot of yummy Indonesian food in Lombok. From nasi babi, bakso, soto, to nasi padang (where I unintentionally tried cow brains 😆), to our villa breakfasts, we didn't have a bad meal at all while we were there.

All in all, Lombok was definitely one of my highlights of 2017, and I highly recommend it. Because it's not as commercialized as Bali, there's no need to jostle with the crowd during sunset or to get stuck in traffic jams going from one place to another. So take advantage of it and plan a trip there ASAP!

22. Clean Bandit + W&W + DNCE @ KL Live

Scored free tickets to Clean Bandit's show!

Fun night out with this bunch dancing to W&W

I remember my BIL asking if I would like 6 free tickets to the DNCE show which was on a weekday night, and me going: I don't have 5 friends who would come for a concert in KL on a weekday night! #signsofaging 😅

23. Urbanscapes 2017

Checked out Urbanscapes House before heading to TREC to try Guinness Bright at the pop up bar. Also had a terrible experience at iPong that night, which they compensated by giving us free vouchers after Melia complained on their social media.

24. That night a random guy broke my Guinness glass at Baratas by clinking my glass

This is a significant memory because never in my life would I have expected that a Guinness glass (which is pretty thick, mind you), can explode to bits right in my hands while some dude was clinking my glass for a toast. One second I was holding my Guinness 😊, the next second I was holding broken glass. 😩

25. More family time + Minny's gender reveal

Minny came back to KL for work and during this trip, she also confirmed her baby's gender, so we got her a little cake to celebrate! So grateful that we had lotsa family time in 2017!

26. Sarah's surprise baby shower

Charmaine organised a little surprise baby shower for Sarah, complete with a diaper cake!

27. Impromptu BKK trip with the sister and mother

Second time back in BKK for the year coz decided on an impromptu sister trip before Minny pops! 

Poor Minny was still having evening sickness at this point though, so she had to miss out on a few activities, like going for a dinner at Eat Me, which is consistently ranked as one of Asia's Top 50 restaurants. However, we did manage to have a nice brunch a Roast, our favourite tom yum and oyster omelette at the Platinum food court, as well as a memorable experience of eating street side pad thai under a crowded tent - which was mildly flooded, while it poured outside. 😊 Ahhh... memories!

28. Celebrations with June babies

Wei Wei's birthday @ Mr. Chew's Chino Latino Bar

My first time at Suzie Wong!

Jowee's birthday @ Minu

29. Raya at Nisa's

I haven't been to a Raya open house in a while, but Nisa very kindly extended an invite to me via Melia. The food was amazingggg - I still dream about the chicken kurma and beef rendang, and her 2 nephews were absolutely adorable.

30. TJ's full moon + E2's 100 days

Caught up with the ex-colleagues at TJ's full moon.

Lil' fuzzy peach head looking confused during his 100 days lunch celebration. 😗

31. Happy nights out with the girls

Super chill night at Shuang Xi with affordable drinks and good service!

Wine o'clock at @ The Barn

Checked out Kyo and realized that we're getting old, coz the crowd was super young! Where do all these kids get the money to party?!

Gatecrashed Gill's work event for the free canapes and drinks 😝 #auntylife

Celebrating Diana's birthday @ Junglebird

Getting our personalized Heineken glasses!

Fun times at Lucid Loft.

32. Good Vibes Festival 2017 + Kodaline LIVE

Another year, another Good Vibes Fest! Or better known as mud fest. 😅

Highlights for me were standing in the rain eating our free chocolate brownies (which I think also gave me mild food poisoning! 😣), The Kooks, Dua Lipa, G-Eazy, Gnash, and KODALINE. Omg Kodaline was another dream come true + item ticked off the bucket list. Unfortunately, right before Kodaline's set it started to pour and got really cold. That coupled with my food poisoning, which was giving me cold sweat and chills, made me super uncomfortable and we decided to go find shelter at the Heineken Star Club area, which was packed like sardines. If I weren't feeling sick, I would have loved to just belt out their songs in the rain, with an unobstructed view of the band! #allthemfeels

All in all, it was a fun experience! I also managed to check out Genting Premium Outlets and the whole new wing at Genting Sky Avenue.

33. Birthday celebrations with the August babies

Jean's birthday @ Proof. That truffle pizza is really the bomb diggity. 😋

Ka Wah's birthday @ MyBurgerLab before we adjourned to Powerplant, which was super happening on a weeknight. 

34. SEA Games closing ceremony

Gill got us tickets to the SEA Games closing ceremony! Spent the night waving flags, singing patriotic songs, as well as songs from prominent Malaysian artists over the years (including Man Bai and Innuendo!).

Ended the night with the announcement of an additional public holiday by our PM, and a spectacular display of fireworks up close! Check out how good our upgraded stadium looks - love the installation of digital panels outside the stadium, so the Malaysian flag was just revolving.

35. #allterraineers roadtrip to Melaka

Our first stop was the Klebang sand dunes. Here's are some tips if you want to visit this place: put on loads of sunblock (we applied sunblock before we went, but still got burnt 😅), visit either early morning or evening so it's not so hot, and be prepared to work those muscles to climb up all those sand dunes - you'll get in some good resistance training, trust me!

Our accommodation was at The Sterling, which was super central. We basically just walked everywhere we wanted to go.

Finally tried out The Daily Fix cafe (it was closing the last time I came), and am happy to report that the pancakes live up to the hype. I can understand why people would queue for this. 

Later that night, we also queued nearly 2 hours for the famous cheese prawn meehoon at Tong Sheng 😳 While the cheese prawn meehoon was extremely tasty, I'm not sure if it was worth the 2 hour wait. Will definitely make a reservation (at least a week in advance, mind you) if I decide to go back, coz the restaurant has a supremely unfair and ridiculous policy of allocating zero tables for walk-ins if they have customers who have booked. Meaning you're just stuck outside waiting as groups and groups of people who have booked ahead go in and out, even though there's only a few walk-in groups ahead of you 😓 Common sense la hor, at least allocate a portion of the tables for walk-ins.

36. Visited Farm In The City

Spent an enjoyable yet sweaty afternoon at Farm In The City going crazy over dik-diks, meercats, racoons, and alpacas.  

Also nearly stepped on a giant tortoise (one of the biggest I've ever seen tbh) coz it decided to walk past me while I was enamored with the alpacas and didn't notice it 😅 But seriously though, how cute are these two!?

37. That night we queued for free ice-cream even though we had a movie in 15 minutes

This was us standing in a snaking queue for free Baskin Robbins ice-cream. Even though we had a movie in 15 minutes, we decided to try luck and see if we could get free ice-cream after dinner. If this is not the ultimate embodiment of #auntylife, I don't know what is lol 😆 I am proud to report that we made it just in time for the movie with our free ice-cream.

38. The birth of Baby Isabelle

Yes, I finally have a niece!! 😍 It's crazy to think that 2 years ago, Baby E1, E2, and Isabelle didn't even exist, but now I am an aunt of 3! My sisters are all pro-creating 😁

Is it possible to love someone you've never even met? The answer is a resounding YES.

HAHAHAHA 😂 I bought this strawberry outfit (together with a watermelon and pineapple one too 😁) for her and she does not look thrilled at all to be in it lol. I love her little grumpy face 😚

My little pineapple sleeping peacefully 😍

39. Gill's belated birthday @ Zouk

It was surprisingly quiet at Zouk that night, and the dance floor was filled with a disproportionate amount of foreigners. 😒

Nevertheless, still a good night out!

40. Roadtrip to Penang

This was the weekend after the huge Penang floods, so we were initially a bit worried, but everything turned out okay! It started to rain just as we headed to the swimming pool, but thankfully E&O has a partially covered pool!

As with any Penang trip, it was filled with lotsa good food. We were never hungry throughout the trip and just ate non-stop. 😋

We make good food buddies! 😄

Also managed to pop by the Secret Avatar Garden, which was really pretty! They really did a good job of turning a tree into a tourist attraction at a temple. 😅

Dropped by Ipoh on the way back to have super smooth tou fu fa and our favourite yuet kong hor 😊

41. Visiting KY + baby Hailey

I have also reached that stage in life where everyone around me is either getting married or giving birth. 😅 Dropped by to see KY during her confinement and met baby Hailey, who is going to be super pretty when she grows up, just like her mom.

42. Celebrating 20 years of friendship with the BFF

20 years of friendship with this one. Couldn't ask for a better BFF to go through life with. We celebrated Friendship Day with our first omakase experience. Here's to making many, many more memories together!

43. Second visit to Taiwan

The trip was filled with an insane amount of good food. We were just eating non-stop. The shaved ice in the photo on top is easily one of the best I've ever eaten.

But the real reason we were in Taiwan, was to attend Allen's wedding! The last time we were in Taiwan, he'd just started dating Evelyn, so it felt full circle that we were back in Taiwan for their wedding. 😊 The food was crazy good during the wedding, so much yummy seafood and also the biggest pieces of shark fins I've ever seen (haven't had shark fins in years coz was intentionally boycotting it). When the shark fins came, my eyes widened and I had to nudge Manda and ask: is that sharks fin?!?! coz I couldn't believe how big the pieces were 😲

Nat and Manda also surprised me with a cake that night for my birthday. I literally had a whole mouthful of bubble tea pearls as they walked in singing the birthday song, coz I was not expecting it at all. 😅

Think this was my favourite meal in Taiwan. So much good meat, grilled to perfection 😍 Apparently, Nat had to call the restaurant nearly 20 times in order to get us reservations coz it's super popular. And they really weren't kidding, we visited on a Monday afternoon and there was a longgg queue. They also politely asked us to leave after our allocated time was up coz there were people waiting for our table. 😲

Managed to fit in some Taichung sights, like the Rainbow Village and sunset at Gao Mei Wetlands. The latter was so windy I thought I might get blown away. The wind was really insane, but the amazing view made up for it! Also witnessed a supermoon that night - the moon was just extremely perfect and round, and the night view of Taichung was a great way to end the day.

The famous Mihayara Eye Clinic, which is now an ice-cream parlour. There were so many ice-cream flavours, it was so difficult to choose! Luckily we visited in the morning, so there weren't too many people and we could sample a lot of flavours before making a decision. We each got 3 scoops of ice-cream (yes, I finished that whole cup in the photo above by myself), and it was the best thing ever! 

We then proceeded to the shop and spent nearly two and a half hours there buying pineapple tarts, tea, biscuits, chocolate, and all sorts of snacks. The packaging was really on point and everything was supremely delicious, so that means bye bye money! We bought so much that we had to take a taxi back to our hotel coz it was too heavy to carry 😆 The photo above was my haul - if I'd added in Manda's haul it would be even more!

On our last night, we had another round of delicious hotpot with Nat, and then went for some drinks before bidding her goodbye. 😢 

44. Dec birthday celebrations

Melia organized a surprise party for me complete with a confetti-filled balloon! Dinner was at Farm To Plate, which had insanely good pork ribs. 😄 

Also, first time seeing Adele after she moved back from Sydney! 😘 Insanely blessed, and extremely thankful for this bunch.

We headed to Jack Rose for drinks after, which was nice and chill. When I brought this huge balloon home, E1 was obsessed with it. He would not stop looking at it and dragging/bouncing it around. 😄

Jowee also threw me a surprise party complete with homemade cupcakes, which I completely did not expect! Cupcakes were spot on, and food was great at Bocosan Izakaya, other than a slight hiccup with our katsu curry order. Ended the night with copious amounts of Guinness, which is always 🙌

The sister insisted on getting a cake for me, so we got a very yummy mango cake, which Dobby couldn't stop raving about after that. 😅 For every birthday after this, he's been asking if we can have mango cake hahaha

Reen's birthday and some family time!

Ka-Yee's birthday

45. Christmas, the most wonderful time of the year!

We decided to have an advanced Christmas potluck at Amelia's. I think the highlight of the night was the mulled wine we made, which was crazy good! Probably because Melia and I doubled all the ingredients while we were cooking, so it was extra flavourful and tasty. 😛 It reminded me of the mulled wine we had in those European Christmas bazaars, but BETTER.

I also curled my hair myself for the first time that night (with some help from Melia), and really liked the final result. Used to think that curled hair made me look older, but I think it suits me now. Is it coz I am an aunty now? lol

Played heads up after that, and laughed til I cried. 😂 I will forever remember Gill's reenactment of a snail hahaha! It was a great night, and I'm really glad we did it.

 Also had a small gift exchange with the #allterraineers after a delicious dinner at Makhan by Kitchen Mafia.

Isn't this the cutest outfit ever!!!!

On Christmas Day, Dobby got baptized and we decided to have a lil' Christmas gathering at our place with his family to celebrate. While they were out, I arranged all the presents, went out to tapao food, set the table, and made Orange McFizz. When E1 came back and saw the presents, he made a beeline for the Christmas tree and just sat on the floor admiring it for a few minutes. SO CUTE.

Also Baby E2's first Christmas. Look at how precious he is with little fingers holding on to the Christmas tree! 😍

46. 10 year mini high school reunion

On the eve of NYE, we had a mini high school hotpot reunion at Ginny's place. Our initial plan was to have hotpot on her huge balcony, but it started to rain just after our first round of hotpot, so we moved everything inside. It was great catching up with everyone, as I haven't seen some of these girls in a while!

That pretty much sums up my 2017! So much more happened that wasn't captured in photos - the mundane, everyday happenings that make up life: homecooked dinners, play time with E1 and E2, tapao-ing food, Sunday coffee meetups, Muay Thai trial classes, gaining and losing clients, watching Chinese dramas, getting an iPhone 7, lots of Inside Scoop ice-cream, going to the movies...

When you really think about it, time is a social construct invented by humans to help keep track and make sense of the world. I guess the note to myself is that I shouldn't be so hung up over the passing of time and years, as well as societal expectations of what it means to be this age; instead I should be focusing on my own journey and development, and working towards building a better me. 😊

So here's to another 365 days orbiting around the sun, to more travels, more personal growth, and more new experiences! Bring on 2018!!