Cousins in New Zealand

Can’t believe it’s already July! It scares me how time goes by in an instance. It’s the beginning of the 2nd semester back at Uni, however it feels like this semester is going to pass by really quick too.

Had a good time off from work and uni during the semester break. My cousins from Malaysia came for a visit and so I’ve decided to bring them around to some parts of New Zealand. One of the places we went was Hobbiton. Yes! It is ‘the’ Hobbiton. The place where the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and the Hobbiton film series was filmed. To be honest, I have never watched any of the Lord of the Rings film (although I’d like to) but the scenery at the site was just breathtaking – marvelous!

This is my 2nd time to Hobbiton, the first experience was with my family during my graduation trip. But let me tell you, it doesn’t matter if it’s the first or the second time I’ve been there because the experience and the landscape is just too beautiful. My cousins loved Hobbiton so much that they didn’t want the tour to end. I’ve always perceived Mother Nature as an ever-lasting beauty, the fact that I’ve visited Hobbiton twice elevated my perception on nature’s beauty and the importance of us as human beings to look after it.

I’d definitely recommend others to pay Hobbiton a visit if you’re in New Zealand. Lord of the Rings fan or not, you’d equally fall in love with the set. If there’s a third time visiting, I’d definitely dress up as one of the hobbits to match the feels =D

Not all those who wander are lost


Left speechless

Here come’s June and this means my birthday’s coming soon, hooray! exam period rules student life. I should also mention that winter has arrived and it’s getting chillier day by day. Speaking of winter, I have this one and only puffer jacket with me for almost over 5 years. It’s still in good condition but I thought I ought to get a new jacket in case this one needs a good washing. I was also thinking of getting a back up jacket for my sister since she also has 1 puffer jacket with her. Luckily, Queen’s birthday is on Monday which means most stores will have their merchandise discounted. Coincidentally, Mr. Honest was eyeing on a hiking/traveling bag and a jacket. So he asked me to go with him to Kathmandu since they were having a 40% sale.

Spent a good 1 1/2 hours in there picking a nice down jacket before moving to the bag section, the part where Mr. Honest’s got over-excited. He was having a hard time deciding between the 55L and 22L bag, so I quietly browse through other bags trying to not disturb him. Then he pointed out one bag to me which I immediately fell in love with. *why oh why did my feminine side came out at that moment*  And yes, I was also having a hard time deciding. Towards the end, we both decided to sleep on it that night and return with a fresh decision the next day.

Came back the day after and I’ve decided to get the jacket whereas Mr. Honest decided to get the 55L bag. Headed straight to the bag section only to realize the bag I like wasn’t there anymore. Hence, I convinced myself that God was telling me that I made the right decision, though it was a little bittersweet because I quite fancied the bag. Went to the counter and paid for my jacket. After that I went over to Mr. Honest’s counter because he looked like he had a lot to arrange. Suddenly, the girl in charge at the counter handed him another bag which I thought was too small to fit his big 55L bag. Then he took it and turned to me, handed me the bag which I then realized, in it was the bag I wanted, then he said with a smile, “It’s a bit early but Happy Birthday”.

I was just overwhelmed with emotions and left speechless, almost to tears at the counter. Usually I could guess what others are planning but this was just a complete surprise. I was totally off guard. Didn’t even know he knew when my birthday was. The only thing I remembered blurting out from my mouth was “Oh my gosh?! When did you?… You really shouldn’t have.. Thank you.. Oh my gosh?!”

So that was what happened today. Left me speechless the whole day but I was really touched. Guess I’m just gonna hug the bag to sleep tonight and try not to get saliva on it.

The best things always happen unexpectedly




For the past week, I have been thinking a lot about my childhood memories. I think it’s because I got very sick this week, therefore nostalgia has made its way into my brain. There were a lot of things in the past that I thought about. Some were funny, some were sad, some were embarrassing that I could die just by the thought of it but all of them were very precious to me.

I think I have mentioned about taking up Karate as an extracurricular activity in my previous post. And yes, karate was one of those fond memories that I have been thinking a lot this week. I started training when I was about 5-6 years of age. It was because both my Karate sensei (teacher) happened to be my parents’ close friends and most of my cousins were enrolled in it too. So automatically, I was expected to join the troop. Training sessions were held in the Forestry Department where both my parents and Karate senseis work at, so it was very handy I guess. The style of Karate that I was trained in was Shotokan-ryu. I won’t go deep into it because there’s so much that I can talk about.

I wasn’t really into Karate when I started. I would come up with ridiculous reasons just to be excused from training, but none of them worked anyways. As weeks, then months, then years passed, I fell in love with Karate. I had really friendly and helpful senpais (seniors) who would help me train after hours. I gained wonderful friends who laughed and cried with me through all the difficult training. I became a senpai myself and started training new kouhais (juniors). Each training session was a new learning experience. There’s an upgrading system in Karate whereby you have to take an exam in order to upgrade to a higher rank. And every single time this happened, I can tell you that I was so nervous to the point where I couldn’t eat breakfast. Right after belt grading, I’d be so hungry that I could eat a whole pizza!

Karate tournament is another thing that I miss a lot. Usually, there are 3 different categories that you can enter. Individual kata (forms), team kata and kumite (sparring). Both my sensei would put me in all 3, although I prefer kumite only. I remember entering my first Karate tournament when I was 7. I was registered to compete in the inter-school individual kata and kumite. The first time is always scary because compared to everyone else, you have zero experience. Then again, the thought of being judged by 4 other judges is quite petrifying I’d say.

I’d always have mixed feelings about Karate tournaments. It’s always thrilling in kumite sparring because you get to punch and kick you opponent (we don’t get hurt as we wear boxing gloves) but nerve racking in individual katas. Imagine 4 other judges judging every single move you make. Not very pleasant, I tell you. In team kata, it’s quite exciting because you get to do it with your friends, but some other time it’s stressful because to get the gold medal, you have to be in sync with your teammates. Each tournament is also a learning experience. You can see how much you have improved since day 1.

I really wish I could do it all again. Who would have ever thought that I would be so in love with Karate as I was not really into it when I started. There’s so much that I have gained from Shotokan Karate. Sleepless nights before a grading session. Training camps before a tournament. Proud faces when you receive your new belt. Happy parents when you win a match. Approving faces of your sensei and senpai when you finally learnt a new skill. Friendship, tears and laughter, self-defense, self-discipline, altogether the experience itself was all worth while. Started out as a clueless white belt and ended as a strong black belt. I really should thank my parents for ignoring all my attempts to run away from training.

This whole thing has thought me how to face life. If life throws you its ups and downs, you just need to face life head on =)

Take the risk or lose the chance


I cried when I heard the news.

For those who know me well will know how much I am into Japan and its culture. I don’t even remember how or when I started loving Japan so much. Hearing someone nearby mention Japan will only make me unconsciously stare at them excitedly. Ughh.. now people might think I’m stalking them. >.<

I’ve got a childhood friend who don’t seem to understand my love for Japan until quite recently. She Skyped me around a year ago talking about her sudden interest in Japan, which is also around a time when I was desperately looking for available jobs or exchange experience in Japan. When she had heard this from me, my childhood friend started doing the same. Which I was happy about since I inspired someone to pursue their dreams.

About a day or two ago, she Skyped me again, this time with great big news. She told me she found a job around Osaka as a helper in a guesthouse for 3 months. She also told me that she’ll be leaving on the 3rd of May. I was so happy for her but at the same time I felt a sharp piercing pain in my chest. I felt disgusted for not being able to fully be happy for my friend. I know she did everything she can the same way I did my best to be able to go there. But somehow, something is always lacking in whatever I did.

She is really amazing, if I must say so myself. This is a huge risk for her. Going there alone for 3 months working in a guesthouse in Japan! That is really something. Something only a brave soul can do. Something a risk taker would do. Something that can be done by someone who’s free from obligations. But it’s something that seems impossible for a coward like me to do. But then again, I don’t really know her story. She told me she really wanted to learn more about their culture and language – so do I. She told me she wanted to live there – so do I. She told me her parents were not very supportive of her doing it – so is mine. Even so, she still went with what her heart told her to do, unlike me who only cares of what others think.

I’m so tired, really. So tired of everyone depending on me. To take care of my sisters 24/7. To think about what shame it would do to my family if I fall off the path. To be someone different. To always need to follow what my parents think and not my own voice. For always needing to THINK and THINK and THINK before I can say what I really want. I’m not perfect, only God is.

If only I were to be a little more selfish for myself, maybe I would already be in Japan, doing what I want. It’s that kind of time when I question my own courage. The only thing that hinders me from getting towards my goal in life – MYSELF. How disgusted and shameful it is to be a coward. The part of me that I loathe very much. I can only blame myself that everyone is ahead while I’m still here. Maybe some day I’d be able to leave for Japan just like that. But seriously, when?

If only there’s a miracle that would grant me this great opportunity to Japan, like those on Ellen DeGeneres. But seriously, never in a million years would that ever happen to me. These people really do deserve it, though! The hard work and dedication they’ve put into something they love and cherish. I really need to try harder.

Only cowards hide behind silence

Panzer vor!

Busy but survivable. That’s what my life feels like at the moment. Taking a gap year off of dentistry was a good choice to finish up my Master’s research. It sounds as if I’m only focusing on my research but to be honest there’s a lot more happening outside of my research life. Master’s is only a small part of the bigger picture of life.

Growing up in an Asian family and being one myself, having a solid foundation in education is very mainstream. Otherwise, you’d get uncomfortable looks from your relatives and also from your mum’s/dad’s friend’s friend and so on. Hence, being top in class is very VITAL. My parents are not the type that’s super strict as in “YOU MUST GET 100% IN EVERY PAPER”. However, they do expect us to do well in both academic and also co curricular activities. I’m lucky my parents were more lenient because some of my high school friends were expected to get perfect scores by their parents.

I’m always grateful and thankful that my parents gave me the opportunity to attend music classes, karate classes, swimming classes and so on. And because of that, my sisters and I can do well in quite a number of stuff. Aunts and uncles call us multi-skilled but I rather go by the word adaptable =) Anyways, what I’d really like to share in this post is about how different environment can affect yours personality and one’s performance.

Being mentally tortured and physically abuse by bullies in high school, it really didn’t do much good in my confidence level as well as my self-esteem. It affected the way of how I sound my own opinion on something:- which I don’t really do much. Luckily, I didn’t lose my smile and cheerful side because of my family (although they didn’t know about the bullying until later) and also of my Catholic faith. After entering University, I was still struggling with sharing my opinion in group works. But I was lucky to have supportive friends who helped me go past that barrier. They made me speak what’s on my mind, they encourage me to achieve higher goals and most importantly, they believed in the ‘me’ that I’d sometimes doubt.

After all these experiences, be it good or bad, there’s so much that I’ve attained and I know there’ll definitely more to come in the future. If it weren’t for all the support and the loving environment that I was in (friends and family+faith) , I might be walking a different path to what I am doing right now. There are still times when it’s hard for me to express my feelings but I can proudly say that I’m no longer someone who’s hiding from the bullies. It’s a slow recover process but it gets better by time. I’ve bumped into 2 of them during my transit flight in Singapore. Although they could hardly recognize me, I think I saw their jaws drop a little bit when they did.

Did you know what I did after that? Never in a million years would I have thought of doing that but I went up to them and confidently said “HELLO” =)

Take charge of your destiny

Cupid on-the-go

“So, have you found your significant other yet?”

“…..introduce him to us when you do”

“I can set you up…”

I guess I’m pretty used to these type of questions. It does not only happen within my family during the holidays. Surprisingly, my concerned friends started asking me similar questions a year back. I can understand why they’re so concern about me still being single at 24. But personally, I really think letting things happen naturally is best. Although I do want to get married before I hit 30, looking for the right one is not as easy as ABC.

One of my concerned friend took it upon himself to set up a small gathering in order for him to introduce someone to me. It was really nice of him to do so, so I just went along with it. It was on Easter Monday when I was introduced to Mr. Honest (name changed for privacy reasons). It wasn’t till the end of the gathering until we started warming up to each other. Unfortunately for him (both of us), it was raining hard so my friend, Ling offered to give my sister and I a ride home instead of going with my concerned friend’s idea of getting Mr. Honest to walk us home. Therefore, no exchange of phone number.

But later that night, I got a text from Mr. Honest who then invited me to lunch on Wednesday at a Japanese restaurant. Just a simple lunch to get to know each other. But you have no idea how nervous I got before the proposed time. The lunch went well, though. I felt dumb for being so worked up.

I seriously can’t stand talking about cheesy stuff, so nothing in detail. Aren’t you glad? =)

Then again, here I am typing away about what happened and all when I really should be in bed resting so I’ll look all fresh and not-panda-like for tomorrow’s brunch with Mr. Honest again. So, if you are someone who’s experienced this or is in a relationship please help me out. Comment in the comment area or flick me a message. I am forever grateful as I’m not very confident with situations like this, let alone be in it. I keep having this feeling that Mr. Honest kept inviting me to lunch just because we got introduced for this particular reason.

My very first love crisis I guess?

Hearts on the line


Go for Masters degree they say, it’s easy they say, no sweat they say.

Clearly, I’m dying.

It’s not all so bad to be honest. Only the experimentation and the analysis part that keeps getting to me. If only my research partner would be a tad less bossier, then I would come to love Masters for sure. Another 3 more weeks (including Easter break) and I will be working on my own again. I’m very thankful to have a very supportive and positive supervisor with me, though.

An important advice to those who’s interested in doing a Postgraduate Diploma (Science) or a Masters degree:  Get a supervisor who you are compatible with because you will be laughing, crying, complaining, travelling, and spending your whole 1 or 2 years with them (depending on your course). Getting someone who can support you mentally and also physically is very core if you want to excel. 

My experimentation starts around 5 in the morning and sometimes end late around 8 at night. I also need to run over to another department for a different analysis within those hours. Since I’ve decided to take side papers as well, lectures and exams makes the workload quite heavy. Let’s exclude working hours for now, it’ll make everything sound more hectic. No doubt, it gets pretty hard to revise my lectures as I get sleepy by 9pm given the fact that I need to sleep and wake up super early. Not to mention that I fall asleep while Skyping with my parents as well.

Note to self. Think twice before getting course approved *ahem ahem*

Ah well. As much as I am complaining about this, I find that I am learning a lot from it. I guess that’s basically how life works. First, it decides to throw all the unpleasant stuff on you such as bizarre weather, financial issues and whatnot. However, once you learn to be prepared for the weather, be more financially wise and so on, you’re one step wiser than before. You may not realize it, but when you look back at how shaky you started out and how firm you ended, you’ve definitely gain your title as a warrior in life and as a Masters student 😉

Whatever it is, stay positive.

Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations


3 months of holiday passed by in a blink of an eye and here I am back to cold and rainy Dunedin. It has been raining for the past few days and people around me have been sick. And as expected, my sister and I woke up with a sore throat and runny nose on a Friday morning. All good, though. My grandma taught me a recipe or two for occasions like this. Grandmas are the best, don’t you agree?

Then again, seems like homesickness is an old friend of mine. It never seems to leave me even after being independent(partially) for almost 7 years. I’m really grateful for those who created internet and most importantly Skype, otherwise I would have to wait for a year or 2 until I can see my family! It is definitely a struggle to keep up with life when I’m missing home so much. Both my sister and I looked like zombies for the first few week back in New Zealand! Finally after 3 weeks of waiting, the technicians finally came and set our internet up! We were trying to save as much mobile data we could to Skype home. I guess that paid off =D.

With internet problem done and dusted, my latest worries would be my research. I got paired up with a very high demand and bossy partner. Please pray that I will be able to survive till the end. Maybe being partnered up with her is not a bad idea since I have to learn to voice out my opinions. Being bullied in the past sure does not help with my confidence level but I need to start somewhere, so might as well start it here.

Hm, I guess everything is hard before it becomes easy. So we’ll take one step at a time to reach that part. Until then, I’ll be thinking of the pumpkin sago dessert that my grandma and I made pretty often during my 3 months back in Malaysia. My grandpa loved it too, he kept requesting for more. So for now, I will keep the happy image of my grandparents and parents enjoying the dessert I made for them in my head until the next time we head home again.

There’s no shame in being homesick, it means you come from a happy home


Have you ever had something that you wanted so badly that you could cry just thinking about it? We all have our own desires and our reasons behind it. For those of you who are brave enough to go for it, I really applaud you for it. I, on the other hand is too chicken to do so.

What I really wanted most since 15 years ago until present is to go to Japan and because of that I started saving money by working 3 jobs. They’re not heavy jobs though, only light ones like lab demonstrating, dental assistant and staff at a child car center. It can be pretty stressful at times since I am studying while working. Since I’m so passionate about going to Japan I thought it would be worth the pain.

Upon completing my Undergraduate degree, I wanted to take a gap year off of University before continuing my Dent course. I was planning on going to Japan to teach English as one of the JETS program teacher. After applying for JETS and undergone a phone call interview as well as Skype interview I got accepted. I was on cloud 9 for about a week until I told my parents, only to be shot down. Then last year, my friends and I were thinking of going to Japan for a month. Everything was going smoothly until the same thing happened.

Sometimes I do get jealous of my friends who get to travel freely in and out of Japan. I mean, Japan is where I really want to visit more then anywhere else. As much as it frustrates me, I have to accept the fact that it will be financially hard on my parents. However, I do wish they would acknowledge how much I’m dying from the inside. From what I see, the JETS program was something useful as life and working experience, not only can I interact with Japanese people but also learn more about their culture while working. It almost feels like they don’t trust my decisions or listen to what I have to say. For now, my wish to visit Japan is like just a mere dream. It’s so near but yet so far.

I’m on the hunt for who I’ve not yet become