Saturday, January 7, 2017

Contemplating 2016

"People underestimate what a whole goddamn year can do.

You don't have to look that far back, try to remember how you were this day, today, last year. And ask yourself a whole lot of questions:

Do you have the same people whom you were grateful for with you now?
Was this year like you thought it would turn out to be?
What happened? Did that change you?
In a good or bad way?
Is that what you really want to carry into the next year?

Please don't just celebrate the passing of years, celebrate your life."

It's that time of the year again, and as 2016 draws to a close, I'm back here to do my year in review. I really do feel that these annual postings helps me to put things in perspective, and to well... celebrate life. Though it doesn't always feel like it, so much happens in a year, and listing it down makes it seem tangible. I guess it's my coping mechanism of holding on to memories, without feeling like they're slipping through my fingers.

Anyway, the answers to the questions above are: Yes, I am definitely still grateful for largely the same people. No. The year didn't turn out to how I imagined; but then again, it rarely ever does! I guess the biggest thing that happened was me changing jobs. How has that changed me? Well I'm definitely less stressed out for now, but it's still in the early days and that could change still. Though I'm fervently hoping it won't.

All in all, I'm incredibly grateful for what 2016 has brought - there were good times and bad times, fun times and crazy stressed out times, but through it all I have had wonderful friends and family to celebrate this thing called life.

Key highlights of 2016:

1) Spent a relaxing first day of the new year swimming then having yummy sashimi

This was the continuation of our NYE sleepover the night before, and really there's no better way to start a new year with a swim and some sashimi. 

2) Caught up with Ann, who came back from Perth

As we get older, I realise that having all the college girls together in one room is increasingly difficult because everyone is scattered in different parts of the world and leading their own lives. The thought makes me sad that we took for granted all that time we had together in college. But at the same time, I'm also really thankful that we still keep in touch and we've got each other's backs no matter what.

3) Baby E's first overseas trip to BKK

Look at that precious little bundle!

The first of what would be three trips to BKK in 2016. It was great to have some sister time again, and watch all the hotel staff coo over Baby E. Of course no BKK trip is complete without shopping, scrumptious Thai food and cheap massages.

4) Adele's farewell + birthday celebration

Celebrated Adele's farewell + birthday early as she would be heading to Aussie to further her studies. No more Tres Amigas Buenas meet ups til the end of the year :(

4)  Celebrated Darren's birthday with salted egg yoke burgers + a broken car window

MyBurgerLab's Ultraman burger was all the rage at this stage coz it was newly launched. So we headed over to the OUG branch to celebrate Darren's birthday. Unfortunately, the night ended with his car window getting smashed and his work laptop stolen, even though his car was parked right next to a bank with a security guard :( It hit me particularly hard, coz I've been in the area for years and I've always thought OUG is a pretty safe place. But I guess nowhere is safe nowadays. Gotta practice that constant vigilance!

5) Organized our first office prank

We also felt extra bad that we set up a prank for Darren's birthday the next day in the office, after his car got broken into. But we put in so much effort and it was too late to clear it. :P The cups were all filled with coloured water, in case anyone needs inspiration for an office prank haha

 6) Visited a speakeasy with the high school bunch

PS150 was all the rage then, and we took a trip there when Chia Ern and Li Wern came back from Singapore

7) Coincidentally bumped into Adele & Gill in Bangsar and had an impromptu coffee sesh

I remember this was the day before reunion dinner and I think the Gods wanted us to have a reunion of our own, so they arranged for us to bump in each other!

8) Reunited for CNY

Baby E's first CNY and also, the sister came back, so the family was reunited! Always grateful for family time.

9) Reunited with Kit Mun & Mel

More ice-cream dates with Kit Mun and Mel who were back for CNY holidays!

 10) Discovered Ichiro sushi bar - my current favourite sushi joint

The sister recommended that I try Ichiro Sushi Bar coz she said that it's the closest thing she could find to the sushi bar we went to in Japan that's relatively affordable, and she was right. I went once and was hooked! It's located inside Isetan in 1U in case anybody is interested. I highly recommend it. Do note that as per sushi bars in Japan, the place is tiny and you'll have to wait for a table during peak lunch/dinner times. Not suitable for big groups.

11) Our annual tai-tai mahjong and Gin Rummy session at Mel's place

Keeping with tradition and catching up over CNY snacks, mahjong and gin rummy. I hope we do this every year til we're old and grey, my fellow tai-tais! 

12) Celebrated Valentine's Day with our Valentine - Deadpool/Ryan Reynolds

Didn't mind sharing Ryan Reynolds with these ladies hehe

13) Celebrated Phoebe's birthday by watching her down 3 shots

A momentous occasion because it represented that Phoebe's "training" was complete. She downed 3 shots and was totally fine, other than being a little red. Go Phoebe!

14) My superwoman's birthday

And momma grows another year older. Her birthdays are a reminder that she's human too and won't be around forever. :( She always seems like superwoman to me and my brain can't reconcile the fact that she's aging T_T

15) Got free tickets to Death Cab for Cutie

Went with Jowee and relived all our teenage memories.

16) KY's hen's night

Right after Death Cab, headed to TREC for KY's hen's night. The first of us primary school girls to be tying the knot!

17) Attended two weddings on the same day

Fulfilling ji mui duties during the morning gatecrash session at KY's

Bridesmaid duties at Qirby & Kelvin's reception 

Last round at KY's wedding dinner. All I can say is phew! Being a bridesmaid is tiring enough, but being a bridesmaid at 2 weddings on the same day is really something else! Really happy for both KY & Qirby embarking on their happily ever afters!

18) Successfully surprised Marian on her birthday

 So glad we're colleagues turned friends!

19) Baby E turns one!

Hehe, look at how fascinated he is with the sparkles!

It's crazy to think that he's a year old. On one hand, it feels like he's been with us forever. Like I can't really imagine the days without him, because every day I come home and get to sniff his baby head and play with him. On the other hand, how is he one already?!?! Where did time go? How did it pass by so fast!!

20) Won our first gold award for Heineken

Festival of Media Asia-Pacific 2016 GOLD winners for the best use of mobile category. Yasssss!

21) BKK team building trip

This was my 2nd trip to BKK in 2016 and couldn't have asked for a better team building trip, really! Our matching googly-eyed french fries phone cases from Chatuchak.

It was basically filled with lotsa eating and shopping. 

And going to BKK with colleagues enabled me to discover a different side of Bangkok, that I normally wouldn't go to with my family. Like this park right in the middle of the city, or the train night market, or even Soi Cowboy which I've always passed by but never really explored.

We also had a one and a half hour adventure trying to find On Lok Yun. #noragrets because the french toast and butter sugar bread were the bomb! 

All in all, we really did get to know each other better and I'm really glad we made this trip happen, because it was our first and last as a team. :( Also, I just noticed that we were actually unintentionally colour coordinated on our last day!

22) #LiveYourMusic presents Hardwell

Heineken brought in these Pixmob colour changing wristbands which were a real hit for Live Your Music.

Hardwell live for the first time! Saw him again later in the year during DWP.

It was a super fun night out thanks to these guys!

23) Surprised Amelia with a Drake cake

Successfully organised a surprised birthday party for Melia, complete with a Drake cake in the Pantone colours of the year - Rose Quartz and Serenity.

 24) KY's wedding registration

Drinks the night before to celebrate!

At Thean Hou temple where she officially became Mrs. Teh.

25) Celebrated Sarah's birthday with her 2 favourite things - Guinness and pork

If it seems like we celebrate a birthday every month, it's because we are! We realised the birthdays in our team fall on every month from Dec - Apr. 

26) Chiangmai + BKK trip with the fam

Annoying Baby E in the mornings hehe

Ticked an item off the bucket list and patted a real tiger!

The tigers were super active throughout our whole time there. They were playing in the water, eating and chasing each other. Only one tiger was asleep, and that was the one I patted.

Also visited the Poo Poo Paper Park to learn how elephant poo is used to make paper. That's me peeling off the recycled paper!

27) First visit to South Korea

Fulfilled my personal life goal to travel to a place I've never been before every year by going to South Korea! Managed to meet up with Si Yoon for a catch up over yummy Korean food.

Korea was everything I thought it would be and more. The food was amazing! I really think I could live off on Japanese and Korean food. The shopping was great and the people were really nice too. A lot of Koreans offered us help without us even asking! They helped us find our hotel, pointed us in the right direction when we looked lost, and informed us we were waiting for the wrong bus, even when they couldn't speak English.

Cuteness overload at Line cafe! Similar to Japan, all their packaging is super cute and pretty. Will definitely be visiting Korea again, 5 days wasn't enough!

Also managed to meet up with my former KOG colleague - Sienna, which was great! She hung out with us for a whole day and brought us around.

Ticked another item off the list and tried live octopus! It's actually really sweet and juicy and I can totally see why people like it.

And of course, trips are fun because of the company you're with. I definitely think one of the reasons why this trip was awesome was because we are very compatible travel partners. To many many more trips together in the future!

Always wanted to visit DDP and couldn't believe I was finally there!

28) Dash Berlin & DVBBS #LiveYourMusic

Finally got to see Dash Berlin after 2 missed opportunities!

Also, finally got to see DVBBS after they cancelled last minute for DWP last year!

Another fun night out with this bunch!

29) Witnessed a gorgeous rainbow at A Sunday Affair

Decided to check out A Sunday Affair and while we were queuing for bubble tea, saw this pretty rainbow amidst the sun setting on the KL skyline. One of those moments I hit the pause button on life and was reminded why I love this beautiful city.

30) Tiger Urbanscapes

Checked out the Urbanscapes house with Mel, who was back in KL for a wedding.

Attended the M83 concert and whoa, didn't expect them to be so good live! Definitely one of the best live shows I've ever attended, we could see their passion for music and it was infectious! Also, went for Tame Impala too, which was part of Urbanscapes.

31) Donated blood

Donated blood for the first time in Malaysia. Also, my first visit to Pusat Darah Negara!

It was a fun experience! A couple of weeks after I donated blood though, I received an SMS thanking me for my contribution and stating that there's enough AB+ blood and they requested me not to donate unless asked. -_- Haha okay lor...

32) Last awards ceremony as a team to the MMAs 2016

Our last official awards ceremony together as a team. We were nominated, but didn't manage to pick up an award, unfortunately. :(

33) Our annual Beer Factory night

Our once a year, binge drinking fest at Beer Factory. From spinning chairs, drinking from funnels, spilling drinks and falling down, to striking up conversations over umbrellas, accidentally dipping someone's phone into curry, and scoring free mamak. It was a memorable night indeed.

34) Girls night out at Zouk

We got a good workout that night. Not even from dancing lol. Lots of memories made that night, some of which we still talk about today. Wouldn't trade this squad for anything in the world though! 

35) Visited a dog cafe for the first time

#crazydogladies at Clawset Cafe. So many cute dogs to cuddle and play with. Ahhh, I was in doggy heaven.

36) Treated the fam to Father's Day coffee

Hehe just look at Baby E and his chubby cheeks! Yes, I am still one of those aunts.

37) The fellowship is broken - Sarah's farewell

A significant turning point at work, because the loss of a good boss really affects everything. This also marked the beginning of a slew of farewells - Marian, Phoebe and Darren, in that order. 

38) Jay Chou's concert

Finally, finally! Got to see Jay Chou live in concert. This has been a dream of mine since high school and finally got to tick it off the bucket list.

Glad to have this bunch of enthusiastic Jay Chou fans with me, singing along to all the songs! I was so glad his encore was so long and that he sang all his old songs. So much feels man. 

39) Good Vibes Fest + that time we queued for 2 hours to take a cable car up to Genting

This was us after queuing up for 2 hours to get a free cable car ride to Genting. I dragged everyone outdoors because sitting outside Starbucks wasn't cold enough after the madness at the cable car station.

Good Vibes was really chill, managed to catch The Temper Trap as well as Angus and Julia Stone.

As always, the company made it fun!

40) First Flycycle class

The day after Good Vibes, we rushed down from Gohtong Jaya to attend a 9.30am Flycycle class. Yes, probably not the best idea but we made it anyway! The next day my legs turned to total jelly, but things were a lot better during the 2nd class. Probably because I actually had enough sleep. Heh.

41) #ShapeYourCity @ Plaza Batai & #UncageMusic with Tiger Jams

Think this was the 2nd last Heineken campaign I worked on. It was interesting to see Batai's backlane transformed by Heineken, but holy cow, it was SO HOT.

Tiger Jams where we caught The Sam Willows and Chvrches

42) Lexis Hibiscus with the primary & high school bunch

So happened both the primary school bunch and high school bunch wanted to do a staycation at Lexis Hibiscus, and on the same weekend too! So I coordinated it to be 2 nights in a row.

Finally, we made a trip happen after talking about it for years! Don't know if we'll get the chance to do this again now that Joanna and KW are parents. 

Took a detour to Malacca after our stay, mostly to hunt for food. Also coz PD seriously lacks good food.

Glad we made this trip happen!

43) Attended a brush calligraphy workshop with the sister

Learnt the basics of brush calligraphy. Really felt like we were learning to write again for the first time. But it was so much fun! Looking at these photos makes me want to practice my brush calligraphy again.

44) Sarah's wedding

With the beautiful bride. Been part of her journey from her proposal, to her registration. So it's was extra meaningful to see how exchange her vows and be at her wedding dinner.

Best team ever.

45) Back to Brissie for the first time since leaving uni

Came back and attempted to collect the pieces of my heart left behind here. But I think I just left more pieces scattered about.

How could anyone get tired of this view? Waking up to the sound of the ocean is one of the best things in life.

It's a pity we didn't go on more hikes while I was still studying here. Also, tripped and fell during this hike coz the ground was uneven.

I've miss you, Brissie. It was weird going back because everything feels familiar, yet different. My favourite galbi-tang Korean restaurant in the city closed down, new shops have opened up, Indooroopilly shopping centre has a whole new wing, the City Cat stops have been renovated. It was a very nostalgic trip. I visited all the places I used to frequent, even the Regatta where I used to stay. But there's no going back to uni life, no matter how much I wish for it. :(

So many memories at King of Gifts. The top part remains unchanged but they've rearranged the whole layout of the bottom floor. Much more spacious and easy to walk in now! I have so many memories of squeezing past customers to run to the till or to the store room.

Our must-visit place when in Brissie - Mt. Cootha. I came here the night before I flew home for good and remember feeling so, so sad.

Aussie beaches and Aussie brunches - best in the world!

My beautiful university. I was super lucky and managed to catch one Jacaranda tree in full bloom, even though it's considered early for the season! I think the universe knew how much I wanted to see Jacarandas in full bloom again and made it happen. #grateful

Completed the tree top challenge. It's basically an obstacle course on top of trees, so you can imagine my fear of heights. But proud that I did it and got through it, even though I had a nasty blister from gripping the wires too tightly because I was a bit freaked out from the height. Won't be doing anything on trees for a while though, after this! Haha

Visited a lavender farm for tea on my last day in Brissie. It was so hard to leave, especially because the rest of the fam was staying back, but I had to go back to work. Also, I think I could imagine myself living and working there, and it was extra hard to come back. Ah, what could have been if only I had enough points to apply for a visa...

Really glad we managed a last minute catch up. Had no idea that Evan returned to Brissie but happy that I got to see him!

46) Roadtrip to Ipoh

Planned an impromptu staycation at Ipoh with Amelia. Went mural hunting, had lotsa yummy food, and generally just had a nice, relaxing time.

At Kellie's castle.

47) Last day at Mindshare

My last day of work was a quiet affair. I had lunch with Joshua and Amna and then did my last round of handovers. The feeling was incredibly bittersweet. It's been 2 years of ups and downs, where I've had the best of times and also the worst of times. From being so stressed I couldn't sleep, to having one of the best teams ever, Mindshare has taught me a lot and I've no regrets. My only lament is why couldn't the good times last longer?

48) Friendship day with Jowee @ Dewakan

Celebrating 19 years of friendship on our self-proclaimed Friendship Day! So grateful for our friendship and that I met you on the bus 19 years ago.

Food at Dewakan was really good! The highlights for me would definitely be the duck - sooo tender, and the salted gula melaka, meringue and pulut dessert - perfect combination of flavours.  

49) Started a new job

Taken during our company Christmas lunch. Glad to have familiar faces on a new journey together. :)

50) My 26th birthday

Had an incredibly blessed birthday this year. Celebrations kicked off with the primary school bunch.

And a surprise party filled with yummy Japanese food, unicorn cake and frozen beer. So grateful to have you guys in my life <3 p="">

The surprises kept on coming with more unicorn cake by the fam. 

Turns out the sister invited the BFFs for a second celebration. They really caught caught me and Baby E by surprise coz Baby E started crying from being startled!

And rounded things up with a night of feasting on crabs and yummy, warm toast with these lovely ladies. Truly had a wonderful, magical birthday and so glad that I could celebrate it with friends and family. Very, very blessed indeed!

51) DWP for the second year in a row

We had such a good time at DWP last year, that we decided to go back for round 2! 

This year's DWP16 squad. A lot more people I know went to DWP this year, didn't even manage a photo with Siok or Gill who were also there.

This year's stage was just as good as last year's! They added more animations and lights to the eagle wings.

In terms of sets, DJ Snake really surprised me because his set last year was good but not exceedingly memorable. This year he really upped his game and brought it. I also really enjoyed GTA, Lost Frequencies, and Yellowclaw. Unfortunately, Yellowclaw wasn't at the main stage which was a real pity, coz they were really bringing the energy. The small space the crowd was confined to made everyone extra aggressive and pushy, so we only stayed at their set for about half an hour before making our way out for Hardwell.

All in all, a successful DWP trip because the company was awesome!

We had much better food this time round compared to last year. The bebek and soup Betawi were my favourites. Also, managed to squeeze in tea time at Paul while taking a break from mall hopping.

On our last night, we randomly popped into a cocktail bar and had an amazing chill night sipping on perfectly made cocktails (just the right ratio of alcohol and mixers and so easy to drink!) and piping hot dim sum. The music that night was also really good! The perfect ending to a wonderful trip.

52) Tres Amigas Buenas reunion

So glad to have Adele back home after 9 months apart! *tears of joy* 

53) New Year's Eve

NYE at Amelia's place for the second year in a row! Couldn't have thought of a better way to end the year than with these wonderful ladies and amazing Spanish food. I'm still salivating over the churros and squid ink paella.

Watermelon soju squad, complete with our yellow watermelon. :D

And that sums up my 2016! This year I've realised that things may not always go according to plan in life, but as long as I have friends and family around me, everything will be okay.

Here's to a smooth-sailing 2017, to more self-love and discipline, to happiness and friendship, love and laughter. Bring it on 2017!