Jungle vs Las Vegas

CVS girl (looking at my basket): travelling somewhere?

Me: Yes! Going to be in a jungle in Colombia for a few days. So worried I will forget something when I’m out there.

CVS girl: Ohh me too. I’m going to Las Vegas in two weeks, so worried I’ll forget something..

Me: (speechless)

Oh New York, and of course…reflections.

I love life.  I returned to Bedford today after spending yet another week in NYC with my close friends.  I couldn’t stop dancing, inside, outside, everywhere….  And then a few hours later, I crashed on the sofa.

“You haven’t lived til you’ve loved”

I finally had the opportunity to watch Once on Broadway.  In addition to the intense nights out on the weekdays, I had a “cultural” weekend: spent Saturday afternoon at the Lincoln Center watching contemporary dance, Sunday, lazing on the High Line with Glen Hansard in my ears before catching the flight back to Manch.

I love this city.  I’m not sure I could live here.  Actually I think I could, and I’m sure that after a few months, I would fall head over heels in love with it.

I’m fortunate that my best of friends all live in NYC currently.  Funny thing is that we all used to live in London.  They live in the best locations in New York.  And they take me to the best areas.  Whenever I visit, I just slip into their daily lives.

I love the energy, attitudes represented by the various personalities here.  No one gives a sh*t here.  I love that.

Back to Once.  I’ve been wanting to watch it for ages.  Siobhan and I did Once on Friday.

Let me just pause and say that, going to an event (which represents another culture) with a friend from that culture makes the experience completely different and more fulfilling.

I distinctly recall watching Arcade Fire with a Canadian who followed them before they were known.  It was just delightful to watch him reminisce and swell with pride.

That kind of energy is so infectious.

Siobh was just a pleasure to watch Once with.  The broadway version was pretty authentic, and it was obvious from her expressions, and the countless number of times her hand flew to her heart.  Oh Siobhan. 🙂

Once is a beautiful piece of art.  I have yet to see the movie.  But a few years ago, I came across the song Falling Slowly as it was played to a beautiful dance piece.  Researched it, and etc etc.

I love books/movies/lyrics/stories that are simplistic yet emotionally raw, and have a powerful meaning behind them.  I also despise them because I spend countless hours contemplating and pondering.

Once falls into that category.

I think that apart from the basic human needs, there are three things that are important to anyone’s happiness: love, career and friendships.  You could have one of the three, but without the other two, it may seem as if things aren’t complete.  And I don’t know if its possible to have all three.  Is it?  And maybe not everyone agrees with me..

Love, career, friendships.  See…the thing is, mine all intertwine.

Love.  Yes I’ve been blessed to have experienced love, crazy love, unconditional love in the past.  It has in some ways completely ruined me, and I mean that in a good way.  But there are other kinds of love.  Love..agape love, for the day, the present, our families, our jobs, our friends.

Career.  Our jobs take up a massive part of our lives.  It’s ridiculously important that we aim to find the job we love.  That it doesn’t feel like a “job”, but you get paid doing the things you genuinely enjoy, and that you are constantly challenged and learn something new every day. I love my “job”.  I know I’ve been really fortunate, and not everyone comes across a job they love in the first company they’re with.  I’m thankful for that, and do not take this for granted.

Friendships.  Throughout my “journey” (quote, unquote, because really I’m 28, not 60 and have a ton more to learn), I’ve found myself drawn towards individuals who have the same underlying values as I do.  They have completely different personalities.  But we find ourselves drawn to the other because we believe in the same things, like passion, ambition, well travelled, just to name a few.  The majority of the handful of these friends work where I work, and oh Lord, can you imagine that?  A job, you love, with your closest friends?  It’s a blast.

Again I love life.

Don’t get me wrong.  It isn’t this rosy every single day.  And let’s face it, life isn’t simple.  I’ve experienced really low lows, where I’ve felt like I’m in the gutter, and there was no way anyone would find me and rescue me.  But on the days that suck, I have a great support system.

And really, all that matters, is that we seize each day as it comes, and aim to live each day to its fullest, while remembering to try and not take things too seriously.

My favorite phrase this year has been “Carpe that f-ing diem”.


Following weeks of research after the initial thought was planted in my head, I finally mustered up the courage one evening (admittedly after a few gin & tonics and a massive “DO IT!” from Siobhan – a pretty good recipe for audacity) and purchased tickets to Cartagena, Colombia.

Yesterday, I get an email update from thepointsguy.com on Destination of the Week: Cartagena.  I get all tingly and think, YES this is a sign.

Plan: Skip Bogota, spend two days in Cartagena, travel to Santa Marta for the 5-day hike to La Ciudad Perdida (Lost City), and another few days back in Cartagena celebrating with a ton of good food and drink.

I love the internet.  I’ve been reading a ton of reviews, blog posts written by well-travelled folks who have been to the above places.

I chose Cartagena as it has lovely beaches (will definitely be avoiding Bocagrande), is rich in history & culture (UNESCO world heritage site), and has really really fresh seafood (think ceviche).  These are things I like, love, adore and will never get enough of in my lifetime.  I also get the sense that Colombia is a country not many people tend to think of visiting, and therefore not too commercialized.

One thing that struck me, were the reviews on the La Ciudad Perdida experience, especially from those who have done Machu Picchu.  Both are several day hikes to a “Lost City”.  They differ in the sense that the LCP hike and journey is the highlight, whereas the final destination, MP, is the highlight.  Those who have done both find both equally challenging and satisfying, but for different reasons.

Over a 5 year span, I travelled a bit throughout Europe – 17 countries – and had the time of my life doing it.  Now that I’m back in the US, my aim is to explore Central & South America.  Colombia is the beginning, and I can’t wait to spend my late twenties exploring a new continent.

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Time to get.a.way

A few weeks ago, my body started twitching. I grabbed my Mac and started googling for last minute cheap getaways. For all the “cheap last minute cheap” Google results, they really aren’t “cheap”.

Anyway, the thing is, I need an escape. I don’t mean to another city in the US. I need to go visit a new country. I told my colleagues this, and they immediately assumed it was because I was in rural Bedford. No, this would still be the case even I were living in NYC.

I try to visit at least two new countries and several new cities in a year. Cancun, Mexico doesn’t really count. It’s the most (ridiculously) touristy destination, and it was work sponsored.  I did have loads of fun, not denying that.

I started with Jetblue. They have good flights to Colombia. My brother lived there for a few months. Ah ha. I email him, he writes back saying he’s got a good friend in Cartagena who tells him to tell me “Mi casa es tu casa”. Swoon. I freaking love that phrase. I first came to hear of it from none other than Mia. She says it all the time whenever I crash at hers. I need a “Mi casa es tu casa” wall decal.

Next concern, I will likely have to travel alone. My timeline doesn’t sync up with friends. I don’t mind travelling alone, but I thought I’d check with Reuben. After emailing with him and googling “Travelling alone in Bogota, Cartagena”, it seems like having the attitude of “be cautious, and don’t be an idiot” is all it takes. Sounds like living in Kuala Lumpur.

I’ve been reading up a ton on Colombia. The problem now is, the more I read up on it, the more I want to extend my trip from 10 days to 3 weeks. Heck, at one point I thought, I really want to MOVE THERE.

Key objectives: visit Bogota for 3 days, Cartagena for 7 days, and hopefully fit in Ciudad Perdida somewhere. Not sure if CP will be feasible, but after reading up on CP, I really want to do it. Might have to sacrifice one for the other.

Hopefully it’ll all come together. Still at least a month away. But since I’m blogging about it, the pressure is ON.

Central Line

ImageI found this case thing that looks like a book at a local store in Bedford.  All the stations listed here represent all tube stops in Zone 1 on the Central Line in London.

As soon as I saw it, I stopped in my tracks and and all these memories of taking the central line came flooding back.
I wanted to turn around to the family behind me and tell them why I was so excited, but…
I lived in Queensway (not cool that it says “Queens Way” on it) for over a year.  This tube stop was really really under underground.  You had to take the lifts or walk up/down 123 steps on this narrow spiral stairway before getting to the platform.  There were no elevators.  I rarely had the patience to wait for the lifts amongst the throes of tourists and would run down the stairs, hoping I wouldn’t trip and tumble down.
Central line was also probably the most reliable line.  Trains came every 1-2 mins.  It was also one of the most stifling lines in the summer.  No air conditioning.  You got used to the smell that results from humidity, poor ventilation and a LOT of bodies crammed into a carriage.  Ooh sweet memories.
I loved “commuting”.  Always had my headphones in and people watched.  During peak office travel hours, there were a lot of finely dressed people on their way to Bank/Liverpool street stations.  During non business hours, there’d be a ton of tourists from all over the world speaking their own languages animatedly.
I took it to work for about a year (when our offices were by St Paul’s) and almost every weekend to get to west end or the east part of London.  In some ways it really represents/symbolises this “step” to most escapades I had in London.
I miss London, not in the sense that I want to go back and live forever, but in the sense that it was my home for 3 years and I have many fond memories.

My soundtrack

My SoundtrackI’ve been trying to write a blog post on music for years.  If you had access to my WordPress account, you’d see 10 drafts.  But I have yet been able to articulate and summarize my thoughts without going into too much detail.  So here’s a small part of that attempt to articulate..

As you go through various stages in life, and assuming you listen to music, you find that inevitably a soundtrack starts forming which represents a part of your life.  How often does an old song play where it brings you right back to a certain moment in life? You then start having flashbacks of the incredible (or painful) moments?

That’s what I love about music.  I love that it has the ability to engulf us in its melodies, rhymes and beats.  I love that it has multiple layers that can be dissected, explored and interpreted in various ways.  I LOVE that it can be used to turn a situation around, like when you need a good start at work, or when we need to dance, be carefree and insanely silly.

I love that music is universal, that we all have our own preferences, and that it’s possible to find a type of genre that appeals to us in various situations.

Having been in New Hampshire for four months and counting, the soundtrack of my time here is forming….

A New chapter in New Hampshire

The Holstee Manifesto

I moved to New Hampshire from London 3 months ago.  Long story short, after the dust settled with relocating over, I had a really hard time adjusting to the pace here.  I couldn’t step outside, walk the streets of a city, watch people from all walks of life, eat pretty much any cuisine I wanted.

It was tough. I saw myself slipping into a dark hole, and before tipping over the edge, decided I was simply being such a city snob, snapped out of it, and did a couple of things.

Sometimes I’m thankful there’s such a thing as “years”.  It’s a great excuse to go, “alright, this is a new year, let me do something different, and approach life from a different angle.”

And so I did.

I’m beginning to really appreciate New Hampshire.  It’s a state with just over 1.3 million people.  I live in this tiny town known as Bedford, which has a population of about 21,000.  Yes, twenty one thousand.  London? 8 million. 🙂

I find myself REALLY treasuring the simplicity of life here.  When you live in a massive city, you are exposed to extremes: personalities, attitudes, actions and consequences.  You meet all sorts of people – which is great – but extreme deviant social behaviour starts becoming “normal”.  Moving to a small town from a large city also encourages a different type of creativity.  You can no longer step outside, and get smacked in the face with 100 things to do within a 1 mile radius.

This past week has been great, in terms of keeping busy and having numerous conversations outside of work with colleagues who grew up here.  The conversations have been enlightening, interesting and different, hence spurring this post.

With that being said, I still love a city, and am heading to NYC next weekend to spend some time with my dearest friends.  But my point here, is that, wherever you go, you can always find something to do, learn, explore and enhance your personal wellbeing.

About that poster on the top right, it was put together by the folks over at Holstee and is such a great reminder of how I want to live each day.  As they put it, it’s a “call to action to live a life full of intention, creativity, passion and community”.  Do check out their video below:

You’re typing Russian to me

Salesrep: are you able to set up a way for automatically taking something down (from a submission) through flagging? OK AWESOME, thanks u, and !

(yes the above was all in one sentence)

Salesrep: what do i call our security, that CCS things when u log in, what is that SHIzel

Me: are you able to set up a way for automatically taking something down (from a submission) through flagging? – I don’t think so, you mean if a user flags something? No. But just advise them to use full moderation, i.e. entries/comments will not be viewable until the admin approves it

Me: SSL? haha

Salesrep: ok ok, got it! yea what is that SSL stuff?? soo confused

Me: it’s a security protocol which encrypts information over the internet

Salesrep: you are typing russian to me, idk what htat mes, means, but i know waht to say!

Me: why don’t you call me? on skype or call +44 207 123 4567, i’ll speak in chinese

Salesrep: HAHAHA, loll u little JOKESTER! im listening to John Doe’s call right now, or i totally would

Opening Ceremony London 2012

It was a memorable Friday evening, one I’ll never forget.  I absolutely love sporting environments.  I feel rather fortunate to happen to be living & working in London when this great city hosts the mother of all sporting events, the Olympics.

On the way to the pub in Farringdon around 7pm, we watched in awe as a policeman stopped traffic at a crossroad.  Seconds later, about 10 policemen guided 4 buses full of athletes from Argentina through the traffic.  I guess they were trying to get to the stadium in time for the opening ceremony!  We waved at them in excitement, and they waved back at us with big smiles on their faces.  Goosebumps!

We booked out a rather large table for over 20 of us, and had a nice big screen in front of us.

I wish I could list down every moment during the ceremony my heart skipped a beat, and the hair on my arms stood up,  but here’s a short summary:

Danny Boyle’s direction.  The volunteers.  Queen Elizabeth – I think the pub cheered the loudest during the entire event as soon as she turned around to Daniel Craig.  When God Save the Queen was sung – the entire pub stood up and sang at the top of their lungs.  Singing at the top of our lungs during the pop culture scene. Mr Bean!!!!  I watched this guy a ton during my childhood in Malaysia. A colleague and I were outside taking in some fresh air, and we literally ran in as soon as we saw his face on TV.  Mary Poppins – awww.  GOSH –  the children.

Let me spend a moment on the parade of 204 nations.  I was with a group of people from all over the world, Mauritius, Norway, Canada, USA, Ireland.  We nudged each other in excitement as our countries came out, cheered crazily for each other.  Malaysia came out, I’d never felt prouder in my life,  oh it was such a warm and fuzzy hours.  We watched in anticipation for Mariah, a colleague of ours who was scheduled to walk out holding the Jamaica sign NEXT TO Usain Bolt.  When she came we went all crazy and shouted at the cameraman whenever he zoomed in on Usain Bolt.  Oh well, can’t blame him.

It’s Saturday afternoon right now, and I’m off for a run around Hyde Park, just in time to watch the men’s 250km cycling race come to a finish.

Stay in the cubicle

IM thread between a support colleague of mine and  sales rep

Salesrep: ABC Company

Salesrep: The acct that you set up for me

Salesrep: the tab they were working on disappeared

Support: You broke it already….

Salesrep: i know it had been saved as well

Salesrep: HAHA

Salesrep: maybe…. :$

Support: See, this is why we don’t let sales out of the cubicle except for related meetings…. (facepalm)