Road Trip Series: Leaving our hearts in San Diego

(If you miss what happened when I was lost in LA trying to get to Disneyland, read the story here.)

This story will be the next installment of my graduation trip to the States back in 2009!

Next stop: San Diego!

When we were in Los Angeles, my friend whom I went with had a relative who was living there with his family. They were so nice and offered to take us around the city as it was quite difficult to get around with public transport.

Alas, the getting lost part previously.

Having no more privilege of being driven around everywhere, we had to make our way to San Diego the old fashioned way.

Well, by train.

We were supposed to take this train to Oceanside from LA, where we would later transit to take another train to San Diego. Long story short, we got there pretty early and the next train wouldn’t leave for another two and a half hours, so we parked ourselves in some chairs outside, bought burgers from Burger King and camped there, talking nonsense.

I remembered I was actually looking for the grilled mushroom burger, and my friend was initially confused to see no rendang burger in sight! Hellooo, we are not in Singapore anymore, guys. We are hopeless.

So there we were, just talking loudly and eating our burgers (at one point I even spilled my Coke..errr, good job Tina.), until the guy beside us who initially had his headphone on, ended up talking to us (because our voices probably surpassed his loud RnB songs..)

Always classy.

Anyway, we were finally inside the train and we must have looked pretty eye-catching because of our gigantic luggage, pink and bright red some more.

We had quite a scary episode in the train as we saw two guys eyeing us weirdly throughout the journey. We had a feeling that they knew each other, although they sat separately, which made the whole thing seem even more suspicious.

“Anyone has a scissors in their bags?” I blurted out, dumbly. Granted, it was our first trip unadvised, we were pretty much safe in Oklahoma and LA.

Their blank faces was all I could need to freak out. We all stared at our luggages, hopelessly.

“I don’t care if they take that suitcase, as long as it’s not the pink one. I put all my make-up in there…” my friend said, not comforting me at all.

“Oh, so you’re okay with being completely naked as long as you’re fully made-up?” I teased her. She looked at me as if saying, duh.

We ended up approaching the guy whom we talked to on the train stop earlier, and asked him to sit beside us ’til our destination. Thankfully, he agreed.

So that’s how we spent the rest of our trip to San Diego; having the guy there made us feel at least a bit safer. He was supposed to alight at the stop after ours, but he offered to come down and hang out with us for the night. Uhm, we declined politely.

As soon as we alighted at our stop, we saw the two suspicious guys talk, so they indeed knew each other! We hurried, we couldn’t even like, stop for a second to breathe the cool San Diego air! We were too busy getting away as far as possible from the train. We only felt relieved once we got in a cab. What a ride!

But, that had to be the only slightly minor bump on our San Diego trip; the rest was truly amazing. We loved San Diego, and we met really great people there. Everyone was super nice and friendly.

When we checked in our hotel, we met this guy, Tim, who worked as the driver for the hotel shuttle bus. We told him that we were going to Sea World the next day, and he told us we could just take the shuttle which would take and pick us up to-and-from the hotel.

The next morning, Tim drove us and we were the only people in the shuttle. Out of nowhere, he handed us some papers.

“Well, my friend works in Sea World, so he’s entitled to free passes; I asked him and got these last night,” he said.

“Eh? For us?”

“Yeah, yeah, so just show those tickets in the entrance..”

“Eh? So we can get in for free?”

Seriously, we asked such dumb questions!

“Yeah..” Tim-the-driver smiled, looking like an angel.

We were probably making a scene by laughing and screaming loudly, “Thank you soo muchhhhhhh, Timmmmmmmmm” like fifth-graders. But we don’t care. Heck, the entrance ticket was supposed to be like 60-70 bucks each! He completely made our day.

We also went to Coronado Island in a ferry with our high heels (quite a scene) and had an awesome fancy dinner by the seaside. That was the first time I had sake and got pretty drunk.

San Diego was beautiful. Throughout our stay, we made a bunch of new friends and had a lot of fun! It’s a place filled with good vibes and memories!

Nara Circa 2016: Ham-Eating-Deer

My relationship with the animal kingdom is a complicated one.

We started out as friends, but not until one of you (a dog) decide to chase me down when I was cycling as a kid, that I decided to go my separate way as you have scarred me for life.

So imagine my surprise when I found myself actually enjoying my trip to Nara and making friends with these adorable deer!

If you are in Kyoto, this is definitely a place you should check out! Nara was wonderful, it was an big open park with wild deer roaming around amongst humans.

You would sometimes see them crossing the main street, even, and cars would stop patiently to wait for them to cross.

Japanese people are so zen with life, I’m jealous. I can imagine myself coming here one afternoon to just walk around and enjoy the outdoor.

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You can see that I was a bit scared even being very close to the deer, but they were very chill!

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Look at how pretty his antler was!

At the park, you can buy these biscuits to feed the deer, and boy, they loved it! As soon as they smell the biscuits in your hand, they would run towards you in a flock and keep following you until you show both your hands as if saying, “I have nothing left! See? See?!”

Damn, they are smart.

The biscuits were in a round shape, and they were brown. On first glance, they looked like ham, and I impulsively asked my boyfriend, “Are these ham?”

He looked at me, his brows furrowing.

“DO YOU THINK DEER EATS HAM?!”

Err.. okay. It just dawned on me that deer is herbivore, but HEY THE BISCUITS REALLY LOOK LIKE HAMS OKAYYYYYYYYYYY.

(Tina’s bimbo moments #255)

Intern Life: Part Uno

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Believe it or not, I am a responsible kid.

(Okay, some people may disagree – then again, I once got super drunk I passed out, only after breaking some glasses, hugging random people at the bar, and slurring “I want moreeeeeeee” to the bartender. I digress.)

But hey, everyone goes through THAT phase, right? Don’t tell me you suddenly transformed into your mature, adult self without making a few ridiculous mistakes along the way? And trust me, I’ve made plenty of mistakes, especially in my past haircut choices. What was I thinking?!

I don’t know why I always get sidetracked every time I’m about to get to the story.

So back to being responsible. What I meant was that I was a hardworking kid. I was so hardworking that I took up 4 internships between exams during university. My uni courses were such that we only took 1 subject at a time. We took classes and there would be a final assignment and an exam before we moved to another subject. After each class was completed, we would have these breaks while we were supposed to be working on our assignment and studying for the exam. After the exam, there would be a short break as well before the next subject.

So being a restless kid, and someone who wanted to earn a bit of pocket money so that I could afford to buy pretty dresses to party (ahem, 22 year Tina had so much to learn about priorities), I decided to try taking up some internships out of my own initiatives and see what it would take me.

Also, I aspired to be a journalist, or a successful working lady that I always see in the morning. (My friends and I used to pass by those bars where guys in sharp suits and ladies in pencil skirts drink after work, and pictured us being there when we entered the workforce, sipping champagne and talking in big words. We loved it.)

I had a lot of funny and (sometimes) awkward situations in these internships that I thought I would write about it. So this post is going to be about the first internship I have ever had at a Google marketing company.

I don’t recall much about interviewing for this position, aside from the emails exchange I managed to find in my Inbox between me and the boss and that it was so cringe worthy! I actually called him Sir.

Who does that?! I’m so awkward and old-fashioned! *hide underneath a rock*

The office I was interning at, was located in Raffles Place (in CBD area of Singapore) and I was so excited feeling like a grown-up every morning! The company size was quite small, I recall that I mainly just dealt with the big boss and there were probably only about 3-4 other people working there, and another intern who would join a few months after I did. I sat in an open working area, and my boss’ office was just right in front of me.

My job consisted of calling companies to offer them google marketing services, and no joke I had to use Yellow Pages to look up the phone numbers! Yes, the thick Yellow Pages book! I also had to update and key in those companies’ details in the excel sheet!

I TOTALLY FEEL YOU PEOPLE WHOSE JOB REVOLVE AROUND CALL CALLING! I’M SORRY FOR ALWAYS REJECTING YOU AND HANGING UP THE PHONE!

The boss also would ask me to research various websites, and provide my feedback and suggestions on what I would do differently. In the beginning, things were alright.

After a while, he would ask me to buy him coffee and lunch almost every day! Yes, that’s the epitome of an intern life, right?

Me: Yes, Sir.

Ahjusiiiii, you only pay me $400/month, why are you making me buy you lunch too?!

If you were to know how it was like during lunchtime in CBD area, it was mayhem! You have to always queue for a long time to buy anything, and I remember one vivid memory when I was queuing to buy chicken rice.

Me (in my mind): “1 boneless chicken rice, please.”

Me (what actually came out of my mouth): “1 brainless chicken rice.”

(silence)

Seller (in a loud voice): “WHAT? BRAINLESS CHICKEN? WE DON’T HAVE THAT. ALL OUR CHICKENS HAVE BRAINS.”

Everyone in the queue: Hahahahahahahahahaha.

Sigh. Mouth, why weren’t you cooperating with me? And uncle, must you yell it so loudly that people all the way in Jurong could hear it and laugh at me?!!!!

I was also given a strict lunch hour and tea break. I were to go for lunch at 11.30am sharp and I had to be back by 12.15pm! Not even a full hour! What is this. For a slow eater like me, I wouldn’t even have finished chewing the appetiser.

Okay, a tad dramatic, but you get what I mean.

After a while, I started noticing that the other staff were not always in the office, and sometimes the office would be entirely empty except for just the boss and one lady. She was a senior staff, but I have never spoken a word to her; she always walked around with her chin up so high I wondered if her neck wouldn’t be sore.

She always hung around the boss and I’m not joking, she and the boss would stay inside his room, locked, for hours.  It happened regularly that even I noticed! I started speculating this theory that they must be having an affair!

Otherwise, why stay inside a locked office almost every day for hours? Ahem.

WHOA WHOA WHOA DRAMA DRAMA DRAMA.

I finished the internship without many other challenges. Honestly, it wasn’t the best internship, and a lot of times I would be quite bored, counting down the hours. The boss wasn’t really nice to me too. And I didn’t know if I gained much useful experience from there (aside from hey, AFFAIRS IN THE WORKPLACE IS REAL OMG OMG OMG).

Anyway, many years later, I was browsing through the newspaper and I saw a photo of someone that looked familiar! I was like hey, who is this person. The news was that this person in the picture was convicted of some sexual crime involving prostitutes and he was sentenced to prison.

I read the caption of the photo and saw the name…

LO AND BEHOLD. It was the big boss from that company!

WHATTTTTT.

IS THIS REAL LIFE. DID I REALLY WORK WITH THIS PERSON AND WHOA THOSE MOMENTS IN LOCKED OFFICE SUDDENLY HAUNTED ME AGAIN.

So that was the highlight of my first internship. Whoa. So uneventful and unmemorable.

Yay, Tina, go you and your luck! 

My writing journey.

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I have dreamed of being a writer ever since I was 7.

Lack of resources and (real) creativity, my sister and I used to publish our own “newsletter” when we were small, little kids.

What do 7 year old kids know about newsletter, and what could we possibly write about that was worthy enough to call it a ‘newsletter’, I have no idea.

We typed away in Notepad, or maybe it was an older program I couldn’t even remember and wrote stuffs about things that were happening around the house. I vividly remembered writing about how my driver farted.

Whoa. Real investigative journalism right there. Christiane Amanpour in the making!

We forced kindly asked our maids and driver to read it and it was very exciting. We published a new issue every week with stories as equally lame as the next.

I was quite an artsy kid; I’ve always loved language and arts growing up. English course never felt like an obligation to me, I loved learning new words, composing essays and talking in some language other than my mother tongue, and English was the first foreign language I studied. I wonder if I would share the same passion had my mom enrolled me in Chinese class instead. In my free time, I loved drawing and making stories too; I used to have this erasable drawing pad where my sister and I would draw on while creating storyline on the spot.

I loved drawing class at school, and I enjoyed designing letters and decorating pages. During my elementary years, my mom enrolled me in drawing course and I remembered being so excited, we learned things like how to combine colors and create more natural, flawless color transformation. It may sound silly, but I actually think even that drawing class has helped transform me into the kind of person I am today. In a way that I can’t really describe.

I started writing short stories for children’s magazines too. I remember writing so many stories (sometimes printed, sometimes handwritten) and putting them in envelopes, intending to send them to the magazine, but I don’t remember ever actually sending them. Maybe because I never really thought my stories would get featured, and I got embarrassed by the idea that someone else might actually read them.

As time went on, my passion of writing had both its ups and downs. There were periods when I intensely wrote in my diary every day. It was almost like an itch, as if I couldn’t feel contented if I haven’t come up with a post in a day. On the other hand, I had some hibernating moments too, vacuums in my life where I stopped writing altogether.

Especially when I started working and being caught up in this thing called ‘life’.

But thinking about it, even though I had my moments of intense productivity when it comes to writing, I always come back to it. After more than 20 years of writing on and off, I could still say that I loved writing so much and that I could express myself so much better in words.

At the end of the day, maybe having a passion about something doesn’t necessarily mean you have to feel so strongly about it all the time.

For the past years, I thought to myself that sure, it would be so sweet if I could write for a living. In fact, I’ve been to both spectrum: from being ‘I’ll be the next Carrie Bradshaw’ to ‘Who am I kidding? I’ve no real writing experience, who would hire me? And even if they would, who cares about what I think of guys in skinny jeans’?

However, I’ve come to realise that the act of writing itself is therapeutic enough that I would merely be content with doing it when I feel like it. Somehow it feels more liberating and comforting to me.

But at the end of the day, I’m still the same person who loves writing and talking nonsense about everything under the sun. And sure, the things that I write wouldn’t change the state of living in Africa, or cure Cancer, but I believe that I do have a voice and an opinion that at least could entertain a person or two.

Myself is one. If you are reading this – then thank you, you are the second and last person and I want to give you a big hug.

Now, I’m just going to enjoy the process of writing when I can – whether it’s here, or at work where I luckily have a lot of opportunities to write as a PR person. I’ve gotten to do some awesome freelance gigs in the past as well, and I just recently wrote a chapter for a book project and heck, I don’t know if I’m going to ever finish writing a book but I’m helluva going to try and it’s going to be a lot of fun attempting to do so!

Anyway, I think I’m babbling and it sounds like I’m ready to propose to writing seeing how much I’ve been gushing about it in the past 15 minutes.

But I’m just going to end this with… happiness is a choice. I can choose to be grateful for the things I’ve accomplished and what I’m still able to do, or feeling like a total failure because I’m not a writer and I don’t have my own column and I’m not even in the media industry and I’m not where I thought I would be…

Whichever you feel, it’s a decision that is entirely yours.

Full time dabbler.

In the days that I doubted my own capabilities, when I wondered whether I’m doing what I’m supposed to, God lent me a hand through helpful advice from people around me.

The truth is, only a handful of people can be truly certain of their dreams. Sometimes, we don’t even know our own aspirations, or our life’s greatest purpose aside from the generic need “to be happy”. I’m definitely one of those people. I’m one of the people who sometimes find myself in a meaningless job with no motivation or satisfaction. I’m one of those people who sometimes lay awake at night wondering if I’m gonna spend the rest of my life feeling like this.

I envy people who have extraordinary skills, like my good friend Elsa who is a piano maestro, or those who can confidently say, “ever since I was a kid, I’ve always loved singing, so this is what I want to do for the rest of my llife.” Or even those folks who can fix computers, talk gadgets, play video games and become really, really good at it. Wouldn’t it be easy if each one of us is blessed with one extraordinary skill?

My problem is that I dabble on every little things all over the place, and I end up not getting really good at anything. I took organ class, art and drawing class, cooking lessons, did scouts throughout my school years; tried diving and rock climbing, learned Chinese, and other nonsense but always stopped halfway because… I didn’t think they were for me. I stopped doing things before I even got the chance to see if I were gonna be any good at them.

I’ve always known I have a short attention span, but this is just ridiculous. I think out of everything that I have tried doing, the only few things that stuck with me ’til now is how much I like writing, traveling and sharing my experience. But even those things I can’t do consistently and something always seems to get in the way.

In short, I think I’m someone who likes to always keep moving. Maybe not forward, more like sideways until I end up getting lost. And in those times, when I questioned myself whether ‘marketing’ is my forte (being in this line of work for 7 years now – which seems short in a span of a lifetime, but long when you come to think of those years spent of almost half your 20s), my sister said to me that it’s really okay to feel this way, But don’t just stop and admit defeat. Instead, continue dabble and figure out your true passion, While at it, try to do your best in marketing, or in whatever your line of work is. Because until you find something else that you can be really good at, who knows what you are capable of now?

Suddenly the song from Pocahontas crossed my mind:

How high will the sycamore grow?
If you cut it down, then you’ll never know.

I think, eventually only a few people in the world were born with an extraordinary skill. I think most of them achieve them through hard work and dedication.

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And another quote I would like to share with you is something from my new boss:
Never stop learning. The day you stop learning is the day you stop growing.

So, dabble away and find your true talent.

Or at least, don’t ever stop trying.