!ncredible !ndia

Exams are coming up, and I suppose that’s some sort of a relief for me (hah! roles reversed!)
I still have to revisit my lovely Central Asia trip, but here’s some of my favourites from Amritsar while I’m sieving through my pictures.




















PADI Open Water Dive (7/8 May – Tioman, Malaysia)

I opened myself to a whole other world

A world without voices, a world without words
The first and the second and the third and the fourth feels different each time
With each one I grow a little more, I feel myself inch (just that little bit) closer towards the extension of my own potential

The first – I walked from the shore towards the calm waters, my heart skipping a beat every now and then
The drills were familiar, the shore dives were fine
We were in rather shallow waters, maybe 6 or 7m below
I have grown to place my trust in my BCD, and to remember to breathe

The Nexts, of Fan Canyon and R island

magical and quiet and hollow and loud and dark and bright and echoed and dream-like surreal surroundings – am I in a dream? Here, time slows down
Time has fallen asleep in the afternoon sunshine

Here, voices dissipate
What is it like in a world without words?

I could feel the stir of excitement as we chased after the turtle
I wanted to giggle aloud as I watched them get on the treadmill
Jeff points to the playground; I can hear us going ‘omg!’ as we fin, as we fin
Silent excitement stirring the waters
We could only communicate mainly through signs
Was this close to how to deaf feel, I thought of my sign language classes
Not quite so, since we still have the ‘ding ding!’ of the tanks
If I screamed, no one would be able to hear me
If I were to disappear, how long would it take for them to realize?
There was no sound, except for the sharp hollow inhalation, bubbles
Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. We moved along with the bubbles

Sometimes I had no concept of space
Was I moving up, or was I moving down?
Without the rope I found it so hard to tell if I was descending
It was blue all around, and bubbles
My ears feel the pressure; I blow my nose as I grasped onto the rope tightly – were my eardrums going to explode?

It was about the 4th dive that I felt myself more relaxed, and truly looking around my surroundings
Observing the Nemos peeking from the corals
Ugh, what’s that brain-like thing?

A school of fishes swim past me – I screamed in excitement silently as I frantically tried to take a video
I looked to my front: my right
They were shrouded in a veil of sediments, amplifying the mystic of the underwater world

A wave of warm current seeps in

We fin on, past the sea urchins, the waving anemonies, the unknown fish species, the turtle we chased to the surface
We fin on, on to our next chapter of possibilities

I love life-shaping weekends like this
How ordinary my weekend could have been, but how significant such days become

thank you for being my strength 🙂

busy turtle-chasing
thanks for the memories 🙂 first times will always be special
until next time, you unfamiliar waters 🙂

Mt Batulao, Philippines

i think this look really suits me
Mt Batulao is probably one of my favourite hikes. Everything was perfect (except the part where my phone dropped in the water) – the weather, the gorgeous surroundings, and the perfect company. 
i have very lovely and beautiful memories here, particularly the few minutes where we lay on the grass against the rock, plugged in our earpiece (splitters and all) and bounced our heads along to the croonings of tdcc, etc.
 golden rays of the morning sunshine
hush whispers of the dawn
crazy people who brought wigs and all along with us LOL
we stopped by a home in the first leg of our journey. the girl waved back shyly. we watched them feed the pigs. gave them a polaroid. i wonder if they remember us.

motivational selfies

loveeee the ridgeline
this is so beautiful
i loved this hike because i loved how evident the undulating terrains were, the ridgelines, and how relatively easy and relaxing it was. 2 hours for this view!

just a sliiiight steep tricky part where you haul yourself up using the rope
on hindsight it wasn’t that difficult
but in that moment i do recall myself wincing a little at its steepness

yummmmm the terrains

q t

yay ascended!!! peaked!! CELEBRATING WITH ICECREAM!!! Both mine wheee

mi cielo! mi gordo!

not gazing at each other, but looking outward in the same direction (cheesy but hehehe am cheesy at heart)

Because we finished Batulao so early, we headed to Mt Talamitam

because we ascended mt talamitam too on the same day and we deserve more selfies


one of the last photos cz took before drama happened
before i walked with Russell too quickly and we lost track of cz
the mismatched paths and the return
the darkening sky and the setting sun
couldn’t find him, the sun had set
i had no torchlight, i stumbled upon the stones clumsily in the dark
we went for awhile, russell and i, hoping to find our way back to the car and hoping cz would be there
u-turning upon reaching an unfamiliar zone
me trying to laugh and gasping for breath because russell moved faster than i was, feeling bad for being slow
a villager pointed us the way
the sound of rushing waterfall
walking further towards light
a shout
and you

we laugh, putting the pieces together
how we mis-crossed paths
a household helped us, gave us some time to use his toilet
we gave them a polaroid

played music in the car, headed back
what a day, what a memorable day

such good memories. am amazed that 4 days, a mere 4 days can make such lovely memories i replay over again at times. loved it.

Pico de Loro + Monolith

Pico de Loro, which literally translates to Parrot’s Beak, is one of the three peaks in Mount Palay-Palay mountain range (officially, Mt Palay-Palay National Park) in the municipalities of Ternate and Maragondon, Province of Cavite. The other two peaks are: Mataas na Gulod and Palay-Palay. Though Mataas na Gulod resembles more like a parrot’s beak, mountaineers call the monolith beside it as Parrot’s Beak for some unknown reason. 

Pico de Loro – Parrot’s Beak
We woke up early in the morning, took a cab to the bus station, and took a bus. I had read many guides before this on how to get there, but I sadly didn’t compile / note them down. It’s not difficult though! We asked the hotel reception and they gladly directed us.

sleep-deprived but OK GO


scared of edge 😥
deceptively paved steps. I find going up the monolith rather heart-skipping for me, and probably one of my heart-pounding moments of the year.
finally ascended THE monolith!

how it looks like from our side

my feet were glued to the ground when i first reached the windy top. i glued my butt to the ground as well. i briefly imagined the strong wind hurling my tiny body into the vastness of the rocky earth. i breathed in and out 30 times. my butt could feel the slight rattle of the rock from the wind.
here, we met Russell and friend, who became our driver for Batulao the next day. Such fate :’)
he pointed out a guide, who would go over to the other side, to take a photo of the monolith, with a small tipping fee.
how it looks like from the other side
the ‘2 sides’ to Pico de Loro

descending the monolith:
going down was slightly less scary, but still rather alarming
We went down and around in Russell’s car after.



russell insisted on a selfie

actually, i am glad he’s an azn camwhore like me

I asked Russell how he had learnt to swim. “Oh,” he said, “my province didnt have a pool nearby, so whenever it flooded, the kids would go out and that’s how we learnt how to swim”

We talk about floods for awhile. “You know, I found it so funny when Singaporeans got so angry when Orchard Road flooded.” He continues to laugh. 

yay! love crossing paths with strangers who leave footprints later on

got forced to eat balut -.- WORST FOOD TASTING SENSATION EVER

the crunch of the bones, the bit of black feather still stuck in my braces… 😥 i could not bear to look at it, i could not, i could not

but i admit i googled the pictures later 


We spent the rest of the evening trying fresh oysters (:O), drinking a little at his little rooftop, under the open sky. loved loved such places. calm and quiet and peaceful to think.

nighttime in makati we ate corn and wandered

The grass is greener in the Philippines!


How time flies.

My first time in the Philippines! It was a quick 4-day weekend trip. My last lesson in NIE ended on a Thursday afternoon. I went home, grabbed my backpack and headed to the airport. My 40l backpack and my now-very-much-aquainted-and-highly-dear-to-me-clack-clack-hiking-stick, my chargers and I left. Always hesitant to tell Gramma, I told her I was going for a sleepover. I came back grinning sheepishly that Sunday – tadah! By which she already knew I had gone abroad (and back!).
I can sense them getting used to it though. It makes me quite delighted.
Manila! It was a beautiful 4 days and as I listen to Rachel Yamagata now (always stirs swaying EMOTIONS in me) and I’m glad I went ahead, as I’m glad for my company
I didn’t write then, but some things I do recall:
1. My surprise at the paperbags used in Makati
What a good idea! So pretty too! My initial thoughts exclaimed indignantly
Later I was questioned: Is it necessarily (biodegradable =) more environmentally friendly? Cost? Waterproof – feasibility?

me acting cute

2. Meeting Russell!

home-cooked adobo

the fire video – that disappeared 

when i think back, i still find some bits funny

eating balut – worst thing in my life



3. Oh right, my phone zapped the last of its life in the river that clumsy cz fell into
iCloud, magical icloud did save some photos though
last few pictures it saved before it crashed

Balkans – End

The Balkans are a fascinating, very diverse region in Southeast Europe which had to deal with a lot of conflicts in recent history – the Breakup of Yugoslavia and the resulting Yugoslav wars made it almost impossible to travel the region from 1991 to 2001.

A lot has changed since those darker days and most of the countries are back on track, the reconstruction is in its final stages and the tourism is on the rise. Changes can also be seen in the countries which haven’t been affected by the wars – Bulgaria became part of the EU, developed it’s infrastructure and is seeing an economic growth, even though this growth decreased recently.

Learnt so much about the Balkans during the trip. I find it so rewarding knowing that this was a region previously so foreign, so completely unknown to me. But now I know just a little teeny bit better.

Yay! Done with this!

Plitvice Lake

My favorite part is always the conversations – with animators, with artists, with war survivors, with people who are nostalgic about Yugoslavia / Communism / Tito times, with those passionate about their crafts and passionate about life, who grew up in environments different, yet not so different from mine, who gasp at my norms (no chewing gum?!) and challenge the notions of my own. And getting more questions, and obtaining answers to questions I didn’t know I had.

so serene

It’s a little different, you know, trudging through a plain of white in solitude
it’s probably one of the most calmi

frozen in time

 Understanding nature and lakes a little better

Zagreb, Croatia

Ah, the lasts. I have to admit I’m trying to clear these posts. I didn’t draft anything in particular for Zagreb.
I don’t really like it. When I feel like I wrote nothing, I feel like I took nothing away.








Spending time in the museum was interesting. Also, Zagreb was prettier than I envisioned.

Belgrade, Serbia

Always excited at all that awaits.

I love backpacking, or the ideas I associate with it. I love the idea of camping overnight at airports, huddled close to my backpack; the long bus rides that take me from one culture to another; the scrimping I do, carrying my bread or pastries for as long as it lasts me; the walking, the endless walking for hours non-stop till my legs sigh with relief at the end of the day. I love the ache from my shoulders after walking around with my entire luggage to explore the city. The sweat that trickle within my body after a while – there is something alluring about the small-scale rigour I put myself through, something exciting about it.


I missed out on Belgrade’s beauty. This is not the right weather to visit…….
The weather was harsh and I just wanted to stay indoors all day. We went back to play music and watch movies. Nope, I barely saw any of the city. A revisit someday perhaps.

Emir kusturica
Further from macdonalds 
They study princep as a national hero 
Can’t believe they’ve never worn school uniform at all in their lives

Braved the snow and the biting bitter winds (košava) and finally went back, curled up in the warmth watching Mad about Mambo (and dimples ;)) Missing my SG summer ☀️ Belgrade made better with 玛丽亚 😊 can’t believe they’ve never worn school uniforms in their entire lives 🏠

Slovenia is so young and hip and cool

My favourite place in Ljubljana
At this point I was undeniably tired. The weather was turning cold, I wanted to curl up indoors the whole day.
This is a cafe that serves hot tea, coffee, with multiple film screenings throughout the day. You could wait here with a book, chat with a friend while you wait for the film to begin.
Love love love

Snow and leaves:

To hear the droplets coo goodbye as they woke from their frozen slumber, sliding down with a rhythmic patter

CS in Sarajevo

I met Ivana here, in this quaint little place. And her little dog

I was so lucky actually, because the weather in Sarajevo was exceptionally brilliant during my stay. It was so foggy the days before.

I met Ena on New Year’s day. It was 3am as I walked to the bus terminal to meet her. A Polish guy accompanied me in my walk. It was cold. We talked about the refugees crisis, and I remember it was from him that I learnt about this ‘car trading’ business. His family drove second-hand cars all the way to Georgia to sell, and because they’re sought after there, they could earn quite a sum. They would then fly back to Poland. It was an annual trip they made. 
Ena. We woke up at 11+am. On hindsight I could have pushed for some hiking, but I didn’t. Instead, we went to a Turkish coffeehouse and spent the whole day talking. It still amazes me sometimes, when I think back about it, how we spent the entire day talking. Just talking, and talking and talking. It was so fascinating, especially when we drew parallels between Bosnia and Singapore. 
It was smokey, I had a chai, the people beside me unwound on the sofa with the shisha in hand
My incoherent notes:

Finding family
No man’s land 
Ovo Malo Duse
Stanica obicnih vozova
Otac Na sluzbenom putu 
Sjecas Li se Doli bel 
Atom egoyan- Ararat 
Dubioza kolektiv 
Kultur shock

‘The Bosnian nation does not exist’ 

Lawyers as the average – the ones that go partying, not sure what to do with their lives, etc 
Similarity between Bosnia and Singapore – if you covered the name, it could be bosnia’s wikipage, she said 

‘There is no nation,’ she said 
I was confused – what do you mean no nation? Isn’t it Bosnia? Bosnia is just a country, she says 
This brings to mind Anderson’s idea of nations as imagined communities 
I always thought of countries and nations as a single entity of sorts, despite studying Anderson’s definition 
It was my first encounter with a country that almost embraces this idea that they have 3 nations (?) and no single ‘Bosnian’ identity 
The Bosnian-Serbs (orthodox?), Bosnian-Croats (Catholics?) and the Bosniaks (Muslims?) 
Seems like their sense of national identity is very much tied to their religion (?) 
3 presidents? The ‘temporary’ constitution 
All a game to make people focus on nationalism rather than actual circumstances 
90% of people are nationalists 
And you can’t use non-nationalist terms somehow even as you are a journalist; there are no terms that do not contain that element of political connotation 
You can say ‘Bosnian people’ but at some point you have to use the terms Serbs/Croats etc 
A political ploy by Serbia to gain territory? For Croatia? To split Bosnia between the two? 
Even names – Croatia claims those with Slavic names have Croat origins – the importance of names – but what about mixed families? 
Croats can get both Bosnian and Croatian passport (Bosnian passport must be first)
Idea of victimhood (I was telling them about laos and they jokingly said – oh so we’re not the only victims)
Artist and what sells – war and the repeated (stereotypical) story 
You’re so lucky you have a story to tell (?) growing up in war 
Artists and their muse 
They had to go to Italy to buy jeans = jeans weren’t available here 
Soaking feet in Coca Cola as a way to taunt other nations

I realised there are so many gaps in my knowledge about SG, especially Singapore history 
They had the medieval times, what about us? Where does the history of Singapore begin? I only know the part from Sang Nila Utama. I realised the national language of Singapore is Malay, even though our key administrative lingua franca is English. How can their second or third language be as good as mine? How can I improve my Spanish? 
Do the Malays want to go to Malaysia? Like how the Serbs want to? Were Serbs being attacked during the siege? 
Who was i staying with.. And (why) should that matter? 

It’s interesting because for us, we looked different but we wanted to emphasize that we were the same. For them, they looked practically the same but wanted to emphasize they were different. 
Nevertheless, the country is highly secular and religion is seen as more of a traditional and cultural identity than a set of rituals and rules

Sarajevo is special to me because it brought about multiple insights. It left me many things to contemplate about. Nationhood, war and genocides, repeated histories and international bodies…