Thursday, January 7, 2016

In The Rear-view Mirror: 2015

"You have to begin to lose your memory, if only in bits and pieces, to realize that memory is what makes our lives. Life without memory is no life at all... Our memory is our coherence, our reason, our feeling, even our action. Without it, we are nothing."

                                                                                   - Luis Bunuel

Another year has come and gone and it is now 2016! I'm really kicking myself that I skipped a year and did not do a 2014 recap, because as the quote above states - without memories, we are nothing. And now there's a whole gaping black hole in my life for 2014. 

As I grow older, I really do find that years seem to pass by in a blur, and when I stop to think about it, my memories are all jumbled up and I cannot seem to keep my facts straight. Which is why I will try to do a yearly recap at least, because all these memories are so precious and I want to be able to look back at them and remember them all, look at how far I've come, revel in my adventures, review my growth as a person, and above all, just be thankful for this incredible life that I lead. 

Overall, the biggest rollercoaster for me in 2015 was work. During the beginning of the year, my whole team left as it was time for them to move on to greener pastures. Instead of a 6 person team, we were down to 2, slogging away and trying to keep our heads above the water. Things gradually started to get better around April, when my new team members joined and we were back to a functioning 5 person team. However, those months in between were hell and I really do not want to relive them - it really burned me out and drained me so much. I was tired all the time, and sick so often - work is really not worth jeopardizing your health over no matter how much you love it, so I'm really glad that's done and dusted.

My team structure was amazing for a good couple of months and I was the happiest I've ever been at work with proper support, a good boss and amazing team mates. Unfortunately, things took a little tumble downhill towards the end of the year when there was a slight change in management and we're still working through the aftermath.
I know work is work - there'll be good times and there'll be shitty times, so I just need to learn to let go and take in all in stride. As my mom constantly reminds me, I just have to do the best I can - at least I will have tried and have no regrets!

Moving on to all my other adventures for 2015, here we go:

1. New Year's Day

New Year's Eve and New Year's Day was spent in the amazing company of my family. I just remember feeling thankful that Minny was home for Christmas and New Year's and that we were all together. Times like these are so rare nowadays that every opportunity we get to meet is super precious. Here's us enjoying one of my favourite restaurants for roast pork, char siew and roast duck - Yummy Duck on the first day of New Year

2. Bastille's Concert

On the 3rd day of the new year, I attended Bastille's concert with Amelia and Rosanne - partly for work since this was a Tiger Upfront event, but also because I enjoy Bastille's music. I remember feeling really old at the concert, coz most of the attendees looked really young - like teenager young and were incredibly excited with all their screaming when Bastille appeared, and kept screaming throughout the concert really.

3. Bid farewell to both Jamie and Steph

2 of the best bosses and mentors and I was really sorry to see them go, but at the same time, thankful that I got the opportunity to cross paths with them.

4. Annual shopping pilgrimage to Bangkok & celebrating Tweety's birthday

Sawadeeka Bangkok! Bangkok was as usual filled with yummy Thai food, cheap shopping, Cold Stone ice-cream, and happy times. Not to forget, we also celebrated Tweety's birthday there! Cannot believe that she was still preggers at that point, coz it feels like Baby E has been in our lives forever, but in reality it's only been 9 months.

5. Met up with former colleagues to view the 1500 Panda exhibition

Vanessa was back from Brissie and it was good catching up with everyone! Also, who knew fake pandas could inspire this kind of excitement. But to be fair, the pandas were really cute.

6. Tweety's baby shower

Attended the prettiest baby shower ever! Helped Yu May out with the decorations and her planning and eye for detail is really impeccable. Also, look at Tweety's baby bump! Still can't believe that was Baby E in there, waiting to say hello to the world. And also, Dobby's beard - whoa, what was happening there? 0_o

7. Finally tried out the famous Magnum Cafe

Excuse my tired, chan, face - as I mentioned, the beginning of the year wasn't the best time health-wise for me. I remember being sick when this photo was taken. Pro-tip when customizing your Magnum - order sea salt as one of the toppings coz the saltiness balances out the sweetness and the richness of the chocolate, plus the staff will usually let you order an extra topping if you get sea salt (so that's 4 toppings in total) WIN-WIN! :D 

8. Welcomed the Year of the Goat during CNY

All these super cute photos of Tweety being pregnant are so precious! CNY this year was quite a quiet affair since Minny couldn't make it back, Tweety had in-laws obligations and uncle CK and fam were celebrating in Melbourne. I actually felt a bit melancholy, since CNY is traditionally a festival where our whole family is together and we sit around eating snacks, watching TV and stuffing our faces with good food.

9. Staycation @ Sekeping Tenggiri 

I remember this was when work was at its most stressful, and I wasn't even sure if I could make the staycation. I'm incredibly glad I made it in the end though and after the staycation, I realised how silly it was to think of blowing off a planned trip with my friends whom I don't get to see very often for work. Work is always going to be there waiting for me, but all these precious moments with them don't come around very often. Also, the rest and relaxation were the perfect things to rejuvenate me.

10. Celebrated Valentine's Day out at a restaurant

This is significant because I can't remember the last time I actually had dinner outside on Valentine's Day. Usually I cannot be bothered to brave the crowds and the jam, so I usually celebrate with my friends at someone's house, or do a sleepover. But since Chloe came down from Brunei, we decided to head out and had a really good night out.

11. Met Kit Mun who came back from HK

Again, times like these are so precious and rare now that everyone is working and living their lives in different cities. We really took for granted all that time in college and university when we saw each other almost every day. Nevertheless, thankful that we're still friends after all these years, even though we're miles apart from each other.

12. Adele's Birthday Surprise

Spent the whole morning running around getting balloons, flowers and Adele's favourite healthy snacks and food. Then rushed back and tried to set up everything on time. I remember Adele had already arrived and we weren't even half way done with the set up. It was a mad rush running up and down Wei Wei's stairs to get everything done while Gill had to stall Adele. But in the end, it was a SUCCESS! Yayy! Also, after eating all the healthy food we prepared, we went and made ourselves instant noodles lol. So much for eating healthy!

13. The cancellation of Thirst 2015

What could have been (taken at the Thirst media launch). This campaign was one of my babies, coz I worked super hard on it, so I was extra bummed out that it got cancelled at the 11th hour. Looking at the stage set up that everyone else posted up, the lights and lasers looked amazing! Such a waste. :( This also marked the death of Malaysian dance festivals after the FMFA fiasco last year.

14. The birth of Baby E

Look at how tiny he used to be! *squeals* The other day, Jowee & Amelia were asking me what the highlight of 2015 was for me and I was thinking of my travels before it hit me like a ton of bricks that the highlight of my year was Baby E! It's just that it feels as if he's been with us forever, and I really cannot imagine life without him where I get to come home every day and touch his baby head and smell his baby smell. He's brought so much joy into our lives and I am now an aunt! It's really incredible watching him grow day by day.

Minny also came back to celebrate his birth and we got this cute cake to commemorate his 2 week old, fresh out of the oven status. And look how good Tweety looks 2 weeks after giving birth! If there is a God out there, please let me look like Tweet if I ever have to give birth. *prays hard*

15. Met Nicol David

Have always felt super proud of Nicol David and her achievements in squash and really honoured to be able to meet her in person and get her autograph! #fangirl She's super nice and humble in real life. Thank you Charissa for this opportunity!

16. Baby E's full moon

Look at this lil' baby gangsta. I shamelessly admit I have become one of those people that like to show other people how cute my nephew is. Yes, I am one of THOSE aunts.

Helped Yu May out with the deco for Baby E's full moon again, and super proud of the work we did! (Though it was mostly her, I just do what she tells me to. Heh)

16. My first major car accident

It happened on the night of Amelia's birthday celebration. I was driving home after, it was drizzling and the roads were slippery. As I was taking the bend on Federal, my car hydroplaned, spun and crashed into the divider.  To this day, I thank God that there was no one around me when I crashed. It would have been much, much worse if I had crashed into another car, or even a motorcycle. Can you imagine the impact? Also extremely, incredibly thankful that Charissa & Hon Mun were behind me, and stopped to help me. Wouldn't know what I would've done without them. Minutes within my crash there were a ton of dodgy "highway patrol" dudes offering to call tow trucks for me. I was really lucky that Charissa was with me to fend them off and make an official request for proper highway patrol. Plus, the way my car crashed and landed was at an awkward position as I was blocking 2 lanes and couldn't move my car. Super grateful to Hon Mun who was helping to direct traffic, even though it was crazy dangerous coz we were at a bend, and a blind spot.

Also, my parents were really super solid and calm about the whole thing, even though I called them up at midnight telling them about the accident and requesting help for the insurance. They were also the ones who spotted the highway patrol pouring sand all over after my accident, which they suspect was because there was oil on the road. I guess we'll never know for sure. 

I was pretty shaken by this coz this is my first major accident. Previously, all I had were minor accidents where people at the back crashed into me. I've never gotten into one this major and also caused by myself. After the whole incident, I was just incredibly thankful and grateful that no one was hurt, that I didn't even have a scratch on me, that I had incredible friends and a super loving and supportive family. It could have been much worse, and I'm grateful it wasn't. From Charissa and Hon Mun stopping to help me, to my parents helping me with insurance, to my bro-in-law following my parents all the way to the car workshop to assess the damage, to all my friends that texted me the next day asking if I was alright and expressing concern, to the random motorcyclist that stopped to helped me and ask if I was alright right after the accident. I am blessed. So incredibly and utterly blessed that I do not know what I have done to deserve this. Must have saved a country in a past lifetime. Heh.

17. My first time to Brunei

I would never have thought of visiting Brunei + this trip would not have been possible without Amelia and her family. So thank you Amelia and fam! Brunei was absolutely beautiful! The beaches were so pretty, I felt like I was in Australia! No joke, the sand was soft and white, plus the colour of the sea felt just like the Gold Coast. It was a lovely, relaxing holiday. This also make me want to visit Sabah and Sarawak soon, coz I can imagine how gorgeous all the beaches will be already. Right in our own backyard, and yet I've never been!

18. Road trip to Penang + rekindled friendships

Decided to take a road trip down to Penang coz we had free accommodation thanks to Wei Wei. Had a wonderful food + street art hunting trip, where we basically ate from day to night and took lotsa photos. Also had a good time catching up with Chia Ern who was busy travelling the world + studying in Singapore, so we haven't seen her in awhile!

19. Attended Tiger Translate

It was a fun night hanging out with Jowee, Kenneth and Victoria + we met a ton of people we haven't seen in awhile at the event. That was good! Goes to show that lotsa people attended the event + was interested in it. Had lotsa fun playing all school arcade games like shooting hoops and Daytona.

20. Received an unexpected apology

Attended a client's farewell party and received an unexpected apology from said client. I was surprised that he remembered that incident - which actually caused me a lot of stress at the beginning of the year - and that he acknowledged  that what he did at the time wasn't very nice. Restored my faith in clients right there!

21. Baby E's 100 days celebration

Just look at how much E has grown! He looked like Crayon Shin Chan at this point in time (coz of his chubby cheeks) and it was so darn cute!! Couldn't help but to poke his cheeks every time I saw him. (Yes, I told you - I am that crazy aunt who will not stop gushing about how cute my nephew is. Deal with it.)

22. Sarah a.k.a boss' proposal

We were assigned the important task of keeping Sarah occupied and distracted so she wouldn't suspect anything. I am proud to say that we succeeded!! Team work at its best, really!

23. Kristine's farewell

Said goodbye to one of the best bosses I've ever met. Was really sad to see her go, since she's someone I've known since I interned at my current company years ago when I was still studying. Really appreciated that she kept an eye out for me when things were tough.

24. Sparkling candle that caused many hilarious moments during Jean's birthday

Bought a sparkling candle for Jean's birthday and who knew it would cause so many hilarious moments? Good times, good times.

25. Amplify Curates Presents Jumero + Tiger Radler Rooftop Picnic + Guinness 50th year in Malaysia Limited Edition Bottle Launch + Heineken Imagine Pop Up Gallery + Juice 13th Anniversary Party

Just some work events that I attended and had fun at!

26. My first time in Taiwan + reuniting with Amanda, Natalie and Allen

Even though we don't get to see each other very often, it's comforting to know that when we do, we can just pick up from wherever we left off. That's the best kind of friendship! Also, had so much yummy street food at Shihlin Night Market, DanShui, and original Din Tai Fung! Their seafood was also super fresh and tasty. We literally just ate from morning til night and were so stuffed at the end of every day. Signs of a good holiday!

Taiwan is also insanely beautiful and scenic. I kept forgetting that it's actually an island, so a half an hour drive out of the city will give you gorgeous views of the ocean. It took my breath away every single time. I also manage to cross something off my bucket list, which is releasing sky lanterns at Shifen. Additionally, I discovered that the Taiwanese really do try to take care of the environment, which is why all their seas and lakes and forests are still so pretty - it really shows.

And of course, this trip would not have been as fun if it weren't for Nat and Allen. Their hospitality really elevated the trip for us and I'm so glad we met them in uni. Really thankful for them and that we're still in touch - they really are the nicest people I've ever met!

27. Gillian's Birthday Surprise

We planned a staycation right in the heart of KL for Gill's early birthday celebration. Unfortunately, luck was not on our side as it was right smack in the middle of one of the worse haze spells I've ever seen. That didn't stop us from running around the whole morning setting up the surprise - we tried to make the best of it. But this was the situation outside -_- :

Even though we couldn't go swimming and use our donut float, we still had a good time chilling at our apartment, then dressing up to go for dinner, which was at Beast.

I remember the first bite of this steak - it was so good I was happily bopping away in my seat. Needless to say, the meal was really good, but also really expensive. The thing that I'm really proud of however, is that we were the only all female table in the whole restaurant that night. All the other tables had a dude (some were questionable in age, others in the male to female ratio at the table) that seemed to foot the bill at the end of the night. Yay for girl power!! 

Also popped by Zouk after - this is Adele's first time there, so a momentous occasion indeed. 

28. Ieka's Wedding

The first of the college girls to tie the knot, and also the first time I attended a friend's Malay wedding! 

29. First work-related trip overseas

Have my boss to thank for this, as she kindly allowed me to represent the team for the SMARTIES awards held in Jakarta, in which one of our campaigns was shortlisted as a finalist. I wouldn't have gotten the opportunity to go otherwise! It was an incredibly last minute trip, but still grateful to be able to go!

Unfortunately, our campaign did not win (no, the award in the photo above is not ours). But it was still a good experience overall. Better luck next time!

30. Visited the Google Malaysia office

I've heard so much about Google offices - it's always listed as one of those "10 Coolest Offices" or "Best Workplaces" type things, that it's made me very curious. Finally got the chance to visit it and to be honest, the coolest thing for me is that they have their own in-house chefs who come up with different cuisines every day. The day we went, Indian cuisine was being served and I had one of the best thosai ever! Also, imagine the amount of money you save with free food - but on the flip side, I'd probably gain a lot of weight because I'm an emotional eater. Stressed - eat, happy - eat, bored - eat, sad - eat. Pros and cons, pros and cons...

31. Heineken CIMB Classic Sundown Party  + Heineken Bond Premiere + Strongbow Red Berries Launch + Tiger Bites Street Food Festival + Tiger White Launch

A couple more work events, for rememberance. Bumped into Charissa & Hon Mun as they were leaving the Sundown Party, but they were nice enough to turn back and hang with us for a bit.

This Bond lookalike was super professional! Not only does he look a lot like Daniel Craig, he also responds immediately if you yell: "Hey, Daniel!" or "James!". 

Canapes were excellent at Cantaloupe, The Troika and we were treated to an amazing view of the KL skyline.

Coincidentally, we all wore florals that night. Flower powerrrrrr! It was quite a sight to see Avenue K's rooftop transformed into a Penang street. It started raining halfway through the event, but that didn't deter us from lining up to get our Hokkien mee, or slurping up our Hokkien mee under our umbrellas in the rain.

Tiger White media launch with the team

32. Lots of random visits to the new Zouk

All quite random, but still good nights out dancing and lots of funny memories.

33. Sarah's ROM

Super happy for her!

34. Officially classified as mid-twenties T_T

35. Spent my birthday in Langkawi + BabyE's first time on an airplane

I've been meaning to plan a short little getaway for my birthday since the beginning of the year. When we bought tickets to DWP, I thought that would be it. The Gods must have really heard my wish this year, as the stars so happened to align last minute and this Langkawi trip came to fruition.

This trip was extra significant coz there were lots of milestones for E as well. First time on a plane, first time sitting in a baby chair like a boss, first holiday, first time eating yoghurt. Excited for all his milestones yet to come - I want to be there for all of them even though that's not possible!

It was also Amelia's first time to Langkawi, and we managed to fit in some touristy stuff too - Pantai Cenang, Langkawi Sky Bridge, Dataran Lang:

36. First overseas rave trip for DWP

This was also a spontaneous late night decision to go to Jakarta for DWP, but I'm so glad we did!! The whole trip was pretty cheap, so really #noregrets

I remember seeing the stage for the first time and being blown away. It was sensory overload - the bass was pumping, the lasers, the lights and even the eagle head moves!! One of the best stages I've seen thus far, for sure!

You keep thinking: come on, the sets cannot get better than this! But it does. Every single time. On Day 1, Rehab's set was so good I was super exhausted from all the dancing and jumping around. I remember thinking: Holy crap, how am I going to last til 4am today? Then Jack U came on, and Skrillex & Diplo's set literally destroyed me. It was SO good, words cannot even begin to describe it. I recovered a little during Axwell Ingrosso - after all, it is my 2nd time seeing them live. And finally, Armin was up and that destroyed me all over even though I've seen him at ASOT 2 years ago.

Lasers errrrrwhereeee. This trip really was the epitome of eat.sleep.rave.repeat. The fireworks extravaganza at the end to Tiesto's mix of Coldplay's Yellow was perfect. So incredibly perfect. No photos of that coz my phone ran out of memory at the end. :(

This is my second time to Jakarta and I really must commend the Indonesians on their hospitality. They are so much more personable and friendlier than Malaysians! All the people that we stopped to ask directions for, the hotel staff, the waiters and waitresses were incredibly nice and smiley. I was so sleep deprived, I accidentally walked off and left my phone on the restaurant table one day. The waiter serving us actually came running down an escalator to return it to me. Really amazing! 

37. Met Chapman To at Tiger White's movie premiere

You can't see anything, thanks to the world's shittiest photographer, so you'll have to take my word for it. Chapman To, ladies and gentlemen. Also, since that was a terrible photograph, here's a nice one of us at the event:

38. Minny's wedding

I actually don't have much photos coz I was busy running around the whole day. Luckily Minny's wedding wasn't as big as Tweety's, so I wasn't as exhausted after. Also managed to catch up with Mandee after 2 years, so that was nice!

39. NYE

New Year's Eve was spent working, before heading over to Amelia's to hang out. We had a nice dinner at The Forum, made watermelon soju, watched Legally Blond and Mean Girls, tried the Bean Boozled challenge, drank a lot of alcohol and watched the fireworks on the rooftop. Perfect way to end the year!

All in all, just like any other year, 2015 was a year filled with ups and downs. But I'm really grateful that I got the opportunity to travel a fair bit, as well as spend precious time with family and friends. 

I always used to think that I would have life figured out by the time I'm in my mid twenties. And the realization that I don't jolts me every time, and fills me with a sense of anxiety, dread, and disappointment. This year has taught me that it's okay if I haven't figured it all out yet - that's what life is. Trial and error, growth, constant change. I'm nowhere near the version of myself I thought I'd be at this age, but that's life! I think back to all my adventures this year, and that I funded all of them, that I have a job that allows me to lead the life I lead, and I realize I'll be okay. Deep breaths, one step at a time. 

Here's hoping that 2016 will be an even better year - more adventures, more travels, more fearlessness, more wealth, more patience, more time - time for myself, time for the people I love, time for the things that really matter to me. Cheers!