Thursday, August 23, 2018

Celebrating our 9th Year as You & Me, Just Us Two....

This #FitCouple 💗💗💗
When they say time flies, it really flies. I don't know what happened to those years when we were just young and dumb teenagers, constantly banging our heads in the wall and making stupid mistakes and laughing at our errors.

And in a blink of an eye, MOH and I are celebrating 23 years of friendship, and of that, 9 years married. NINE years!!!! 😱😱😱 I can't believe it! We survived 9 years together without killing each other!! LMAO !!!

As most of you may already know, I write an anniversary blog post every year to commemorate our journey. And in case you don't already know - it's still a "Me & You, Just Us Two" journey. I usually take this annual ritual as a time to reflect on our relationship and perhaps just wonder in amazement at how far we've come.

I know a lot of the youngsters in Myanmar hashtag us as #RSGoals.... but I always tell them that what works for us may not work for them and every relationship will have its own highs and lows. Last year, I already talked about our lows as a couple (here), what we been through to be where we are today. We've made our mistakes as a couple, we're still learning and everything. But above all, we're stronger together.

People ask us if we fight. Of course we fight! We have our "5min-fights". LOL. I guess, the older we get, the more we want less drama. What are these 5-min fights? It would be stuff like these :

Me : Why do you ALWAYS drive like a moron???? You know I don't like it!! 😡😡😡
MOH : I KNOW what I am doing! I can see!!
Me : No you dunno! And your eyes were on the phone!! I would tell your Mother!!!!
............ long silence. We arrive at destination. And that's done, like nothing happened. LOLOL.

Me : Would you hurry up??? I don't like to be late for gym!! You take so long to get ready!!
MOH : Why do you have to scold me first thing in the morning??? I don't like it!!
........... long silence. Arrive at gym. Workout starts and that's done, like nothing happened. LOLOL.

MOH : Did you see the shirt and the pants on the kitchen floor?
Me : Yes. I dunno what were they doing there...
MOH : For you to wash!
Me : Why couldn't you have placed it in the washing machine????
MOH : Cos I tot you would see it!
Me : You wash by hand yourself. I have already done the washing load! I don't care! Simply put!
.......... long silence. Kisses me bye bye to work and that's done. Comes home from work, clothes still on floor and he takes them and puts them in the washing machine. LMFAO.

MOH : It's too spicy! I can't take it! Next time, if it is so spicy, I won't eat!
Me : If you complain this and that, next time, you cook your own dinner! I'm not cooking for you!!!
MOH : Ok. Fine.
........... go to sleep, next day, same conversation from him : "What's for dinner?" 😏😏😏

Of cos this list can go on, and on. I'm laughing as I recall these...... 😆😆😆
I guess, I can recall two recent fights that had lasted more than 5mins....... hmmm.... one was when we had to move apartment (yet again) back in 2017. I usually get quite stressed out when it's moving day cos the marathon unpacking is quite taxing. I can't even remember what started it, prolly cos he was on the phone and not helping out much. And he actually sent me away! Like "You get out of the way first, you go to the gym or whatever and I'll call you once the move is done!!!" I wanted to smack him one. First of all, he won't get it done the way I need it done. So being away would not have helped the situation. What a moron! And he actually raised his voice at me!!! 😭😭😭 Another time was when I had a digital talk going and again, I usually get pretty worked up when I have a public presentation..... he picked the wrong time to clean out the drawers and I was like "Are you kidding me??? I'm gonna be late!!" He actually told me he didn't want to go with me after that. And I was like "Fine!!!" Wanted to punch him cos - at said moment, I thought he was being very unsupportive. What a moron! 😠😠😠 Ok, just so we're clear, he came with me anyway. LOL!

So, yeah, we do fight. But we try not to prolong the fight because, let's put it this way.... in a tiny apartment, there's just the two of us. If we're angry with each other, can you imagine how "stuffy" the place gets? Plus we always wanted a home built on laughter not one where there's always a cold war going on. So there. So simple.

But just so y'all know, I've discovered or rather realized something...... the older MOH gets, the more impatient he has become. Wow, I don't think I am yet prepared for the grumpy old man that I'll be facing in the future..... 😳😳😳 Well, I'll be the grumpy old woman and we can compete who is grumpier. LOL!

Aside from that, work has been taking front row seats with us and these days, this is what we do even on weekends - we stay indoors. We just want to hide from the world in our tiny apartment. And we don't even need to be talking to each other inside the apartment. We'd be doing our own thing. But we're both just hiding and unwinding. And at times like these, where I really am too lazy to even open my mouth to talk, I am grateful that my life partner is an anti-social introvert like me. People find this strange.... "Why won't you have dinner with us??" It's really not that we don't like their company, but if we both do not get our breathing space from human beings, a lot of people might die during the week! And weddings..... lololol...... there are some wedding invitations in which I wouldn't think twice about skipping. But there are also some weddings where I would love to go, except a thousand other guests will also be there and I'm really not keen to make small talks on the weekends. It tires me greatly. Sometimes, we would attend the wedding for 15mins, max 30mins and we'd make an excuse to leave. I'm sorry guys, but this is just us. Not because we are not happy with your celebration of love or anything like that. Don't get us wrong, ya!

Come September 2018 in fact, even our Saturdays would be taken away since I would have new projects to embark on and MOH is also going to be facilitating for the Center for Executive Education Southeast Asia Executive Leadership Programme (Yup, we are a tiny apartment of Sayar and Sayarma)..... so our "special time" would be something we cling on to even more!

These days, we've both also been very active in our sports training. Ever since his knee operation, MOH had been rather determined to heal and not being able to play football anymore, he turned his focus and attention on triathlon. I am somewhat annoyed by this, to be honest. During my peak, he was that fat, lazy tiger who refused to workout. When I was still uninjured and in top form, he was having his coffee waiting for me while I was racing away. (sometimes, he'd miss me at the finish line even!! 😑😑😑) But now that I am injured and can't go the distances anymore, he's showing off with his long distances and races after races and his speed. Back in the day, he won't even be able to smell my smoke. Actually, he still hasn't been able to beat any of my records in terms of timing. So there, that's my sourpuss coming out 😝😝😝 Ah, but well, I am very supportive. I always do remember the times even though he was never interested in triathlons, he was always there with me for my competitions. I guess, now, it's my turn. We did do one race together back in 2016 (where I was faster than him hahahahaha and he refused to believe it!) and upon his encouragement, I did the Bangkok Triathlon recently. But my legs are never the same again and sometimes, it gets worrying - what if I lose mobility? What would he do? How would we cope? Sigh.......

I suppose, maybe cos of that, and because it's that "age" (uuurgh).... we're also talking about future plans..... what happens with a couple that has no kids? What's our retirement plan looking like? I guess, in this aspect, I am a more live-in-the-moment person (not that I don't have plans, I do), but MOH is even planning out our "no income days" and how that would pan out.

I believe every couple goes through different life stages. Looking back, I guess, MOH and myself have been through the  struggling phase as young adults trying to build a future for ourselves, we've been through the changes in our careers, passion, ambitions, we've adjusted with the different needs at different stages of our lives...... we've seen each other through our own highs and lows..... we change and we adapt ourselves accordingly to each other's changes, because at the end of the day, whilst we function individually, we still want to be in sync on this journey.

There will be many more fights, many more new things learn about each other and more understanding required to adapt and change (it's like the Waterfall vs Agile method - do, measure, optimize, repeat LOLOLOL) but so long as we keep our hands on each other and build each other stronger, and understand that whilst we each walk our own paths, we're walking on the same journey.

To MOH, my best friend, we've come a long way and there's still a lot more grounds to cover. I'll gladly walk this through together with you even if you became a grumpy old man (I would just molest your cute tushie, you know that I love that view. Hope it won't be too saggy by then 😈😈😈) Here's to our 9th year and wishing for endless laughing moments with you! (even if it means I have to make those laughing moments happen - you better sleep with your eyes opened 😉😉😉😁😁😁)

Below - pix of my favourite tush... I mean, person 😄😄😄

Thursday, May 17, 2018

GE14 : Hope... A Necessity For Healing

A news coverage of my birth in The Malay Mail
Can I become a true 'anak Malaysia'? 
Congratulations Malaysia Baru! The past week was exciting indeed and in general, hope permeates the very air that we breathe.

Before I continue on, I'd like to say that I didn't return home to vote. But to those of you who made sweeping statements about those who didn't vote and therefore should not share the triumph and jubilation of the rest of the nation, well, all I can say is - here's my finger (and not the one with the indelible ink). Sure, you're entitled to your opinion and I am entitled to my rights. Don't pretend to judge me when you don't know me.

Done. We move on.

Hope is an essential ingredient for everyone to to keep facing challenges that life throws at us. Hope is what keeps us motivated to fight on, to believe. And the historical win of Pakatan Harapan (meaning the Coalition of Hope) last week renewed the hope for Malaysians. The epic "against all odds" win gave way to a new Malaysian 'high'. Suddenly, the skies were bluer, the air fresher and everything that was impossible was suddenly possible. I myself was using the "Malaysian Win" as a way of motivating my teams here in Myanmar when we were faced with impossible or daunting tasks. Not once. 4 times in the past week. "Hey - if Malaysia can change the government, then anything is possible!" ðŸ˜€ðŸ˜€ðŸ˜€

I woke up on 100518 to a new Malaysia (despite being banned from sleeping by my BFFs in a group chat just in case I jinxed the results LOLOL!!). The first order of the day was to inform my late grandma and both my grandpas. Ah Kung, Kung Kung, Por Por - can you believe it? The opposition won. Kita menang! I do wish you guys were here to witness this historical moment. My late Kung Kung who was a journalist with Sin Chew Jit Poh would've loved being right there in the heart of this historical news story - perhaps, learning how to do a LIVE video 😜😜😜 My Por Por would've been ecstatic too. She was 5 months pregnant when May 13 happened and being rescued by Chinese triad gangsters to hideout in the jungle was an ordeal she would never forget.

I come from a very strong "opposition" family, both maternal and paternal. From the youngest to the oldest. Needless to say, being pro-government overnight was very strange indeed. I did a little small interview asking how some of my family felt about this euphoric win.

My Papa - the biggest, most gung-ho opposition supporter ever, at 73, had this to say : "Right from the first time I voted, till GE14, I had always voted for the opposition. After GE14, the next day, had to wait till late into the night before there was a confirmation for a change of government. And this morning, I woke up for the 1st time feeling Hey, I am no longer anti-government! I am pro-government!". He waited a long time for this. A close friend of his actually said - he wasn't just happy. He was ecstatic! For the first time ever, he was sharing national patriotic anthems on FB!!

My Mama, was never all that vocal about politics, but the last 15 yrs of deteriorating state under the tyranny of that frog face, had got her extremely annoyed with the government. She had this to say when I asked her how she felt about the win : "Felt happy and relieved. I am an admirer of Tun M from those days. Yes, he may be corrupted too, but he brought changes for the good of Malaysia. At 92yrs of age, he should retire and enjoy life, but he did all he can to get things right for the country. His strategies were all well planned to lead to the downfall of BN and the corrupted leaders."

My Ah Yee was even funnier. She said "Of course I am happy! I was so happy when they announced that I couldn't sleep the whole night!" She was also so happy that she forgot to send a message to my late Por Por and Kung Kung 🙏🙏🙏

My bro, a man of few words and definitely not even the wee bit interested in politics but went out this time for the ceramahs, said "Of course happy lah! Don't tell me sad meh?" ðŸ˜ðŸ˜ðŸ˜

MOH, also a man of few words, went home to cast his vote. And when I asked him how he felt about the win, he said "Now there is hope." 

As for me, a Myanmar friend did ask me, "Are you happy about the win?" My answer was, of course I am. I am very happy. But my happiness fell short of jubilation. It all felt quite strange as well. Strange because it was Dr. M, whom I grew up detesting. The one who helped implement the race-based policies put in place by the then 3rd PM of Malaysia - Tun Hussein Onn. It was for these race-based policies that I felt I was robbed of my government scholarship despite being a straight-A student.

61 years of race-based divisions, of being made to feel like an immigrant residing in other people's land had taken its toll. Let me put it this way, many of us were affected and we were affected at different levels. To each, their own, yeah.

I am a Merdeka Baby. Being government school teachers, my parents towed the line in imparting patriotism in us growing up. We used to fly the Jalur Gemilang at our house for the whole week of Merdeka, and I pretended the whole nation was celebrating Merdeka with me for it was my birthday 😝😝😝 I even used to fly one on my car - you know that small flag you can attach to your car. But time and time again, these race-based agendas were thrown my way. That overtime, we all stopped flying that flag. I removed that flag from my car too. I never felt like an "anak Malaysia". Come Merdeka Day - it was simply MY BIRTHDAY. Period. And in the last 15 years, things just escalated from bad to worse. I cannot for the life of me get this statement out of my head : "We will bathe this dagger in the blood of the Chinese!!" Anyone care to remember this? (to be fair, there has been a lot of "true, not true" debate over this statement) and again, in 2007, as reported by Reuters, : 'One delegate was reportedly to have said by the Singapore Straits Times "UMNO is willing to risk lives and bathe in blood to defend the race and religion. Don't play with fire. If they mess with our rights, we will mess with theirs." I did not know what I did to deserve supposed leaders saying brainless things like that or playing up the racial cards over and over again. What rights are they talking about? Am I not a citizen of Malaysia? Was I not born on this land? Why am I not considered an 'anak Malaysia'?? Whilst part of my brains knew it was a brainless act by some scumbags, another part of me reacted emotionally towards those type of statements. "Apa lagi Cina mau?" (What more do the Chinese want?) Nothing very much, really. Just to earn my honest 3 meals a day, based on my capabilities, abilities and fairness. That's all. 

I packed my bags and expanded my business to Cambodia and now reside in Myanmar. It's 10 years now since I left Malaysia. I've had enough of being reminded over and over again that I have no rights in my own birth land.

Even business-wise, the many government projects that bypassed us because we were just a small Chinese business. The ultimate embarrassment I recall would be 2010 - when the Chinese government, in cooperation with Japan, invited our wedding association to attend a convention in China to promote Malaysia as a destination for weddings. Our association had worked on building international networks for years prior. Zero support from our tourism ministry despite our numerous calls, pleas and proposals. But not to let slip this chance, us two girls, the President and the Vice-President forked out the money ourselves and flew over. To our horror - every other Asian country sent big teams. Even Myanmar at that time had a contingent of 26 people! And the best part was, each country had to put up a performance to showcase their culture. Guess what? There we were, 2 idiots representing Malaysia armed only with a video CD and we did the bloody fashion catwalk by ourselves on stage!! My President was in a Kebaya and I was in a modern Cheongsam. Oh, I remember very well indeed. Even the emcee in his introduction of us said "We have two very brave ladies from Malaysia who will be performing on their own....." For pride, we did the job and even earned praises from the other contingent. We did not let Malaysia down. But despite us joking about this experience, I was bitterly disappointed. And after that, I refused to partake in any other projects that has anything to do with the government. It was a personal thing. My business partners still carried on where necessary.

Yeah, you can call me bitter or whatever. Like I said, everyone is affected in different ways and at different levels.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the company and friends of muhibbah Malaysia and in fact, here's something quite cute - the row of house that I grew up in was really muhibbah indeed. On our left a Malay neighbour and our right an Indian family. In fact, when I was a kid, I used to go over to my neighbour's house and we would play masak-masak. I never hated the people. I only hated the government. I would often lament to my Malay friends about this predicament and the ills of race-based agendas and policies. You can imagine the irony of my Papa or MOH suddenly being so enthusiastic about patriotic anthems whereas I was the one who knew every single line, verse and chorus to songs like 'Setia' and 'Sejahtera Malaysia'. In fact, MOH was caught off guard when I proved to him that I knew the lyrics by heart - despite all those years. 

With these years and years of raced-based policies and agendas ingrained in me, I knew I myself needed to heal. When Dr. M revealed his cabinet and I saw LGE as the Finance Minister - the first thought that went into my head was : "Oh! A Chinese minister!" before I caught myself. I knew this mentality and this thinking had to go. And bless LGE for speaking up and declaring that he wasn't Chinese. He is Malaysian. We need leaders to walk the talk, and help guide us through the healing process. Just as much as race-based policies have brainwashed the likes of me to think race-first, we can well be brainwashed to think Malaysian-first. Perhaps, an essential move would be to get rid of race-based parties. Parties should represent Malaysians. Not races.

Strange as it was, for the first time, I watched LIVE the swearing-in of Dr. M for it was definitely a moment in history. There was a small tingling within. That tingling was a sense of hope. I am not so bold as to speak for everyone, but I am sure we will all be healing at different stages. For now, with the couple of promises that Pakatan Harapan had delivered in just one week (Zero GST and Anwar's full pardon), I prefer to focus on hope. The hope for a better Malaysia. The hope for a great Malaysia. The hope for a united and stronger Malaysia. The hope for an assimilated Malaysia. And for me - the hope to feel "demi negara, yang tercinta, dicurahkan bakti penuh setia...." as an anak Malaysia should feel. MOH said this to me, "Everyone that is working together with Dr. M now had once been sent to jail by him before. If they can let all of that go and look towards the greater good, then ...." Yes, I get his point. Like I said, we had all been affected at different levels. But there's really something to be said about people who are really able to forgive and forget for the greater good. My total respect to these leaders. (note to self : no conspiracy theories, Eileen. Just believe. Just hope) 

But for now, while we all go through the uphill healing process (at least for me), the biggest joy I am deriving from this monumental win is the fact that I am now able to take as many jibes as I can on that frog face and ugly hippo. As Zan Azlee very aptly put it in his article - "It's hard to be gracious towards BN. It has been too long and we have been through too much." I am now having so much joy when I actually call the frog face, FROG FACE. Sorry, not sorry. When I curse at him, I'm so pleased. Previously, when I took jibes, it only angered me further because every swear word you hurled at his pix, you only see that arrogant smirk smiling back. This time, I have so much joy in poking fun at them simply because this time, this time, it is so satisfying to know that they are done for. No more embarrassing PM for us. I may not have liked Dr. M but I never hated him. This frog and the hippo, I literally hated! I cannot forgive the racial slurs he dished out during his arrogant tenure and of course, the numbers of kills and murders that had been please #TangkapFrog!!!

As for Dr. M - he is the new leader of the new Malaysia. Much as I despised him before, I have to respect his calculated move. Well, after all, it takes a mentor to destroy his protege, eh? I'm waiting for the 'crouching tiger, hidden dragon moves'.  I know miracles cannot happen overnight and through what little I know of him in the days where I deplored him, he loves the country. He is a man of great pride and he keeps his house clean, as in don't embarrass him in public yeah (anyone recalls the time when Paul Keating, then OZ's PM called Mahathir a "recalcitrant"? LOL! On a more scary note - remember those times when one had to whisper when talking bad about the government? That's cleaning house too ðŸ˜ðŸ˜ðŸ˜). And I know enough, and perhaps at this stage, matured enough to know that miracles cannot take place overnight. 100-days may not be enough time to cover a gaping hole bigger than Singapore. I am sure all Malaysians understand and will be willing to give time for this full healing of the nation to take place.

Meanwhile - do enjoy this extremely funny comic of Malaysian politics by Bro, Don't Like That La Bro(Thanks guys for responding so promptly to my ask!) When I came across this comic, I knew this would be exactly how my dear 90-yr old Ah Por felt. She doesn't really understand the dramas and furors that went down for GE14. I told her the opposition finally won. I told her there was a new government. But she was confused as to "Eh - how come it is still Mahathir?" ðŸ˜†ðŸ˜†ðŸ˜† I am so happy she lived to see this day. 

A really funny depiction of our historical win.
Image Credit : Bro, Don't Like That La Bro

Thursday, April 26, 2018

May 9th : A Nation Goes To War Against A Blatantly Recalcitrant Government

So, I was back in Malaysia last week for the Myanmar Water Festival break and I could literally feel the elections fever in the air. And then a friend sent this wickedly funny photo to a group chat (I don't even know who to credit for the original image but thank you to this netizen for the creativity!) and whilst I am laughing at his or her sense of humour, I am also left pondering about my own decision of "Jom Balik Undi".

You see, with the elections suddenly being announced out of the blue (well, at least to me) and of all things, they scheduled it on a Wednesday which means any chance of just taking off for the weekend is gone, and this being right after I had taken extended leave for CNY, for Cheng Beng and then for the Water Festival, I just didn't want to be making another trip so close to the last. I know I can. But I don't want to. I guess, much to the disappointment of many other fellow Malaysians. Well, actually, I would've gone back had Ah Por said she wanted to cast her vote because then I would take her (and that would mean I still wouldn't be able to cast my vote), but she said she's too old to vote so she doesn't want to travel back and forth. Done deal, so that's that.

Somehow, I was a little taken aback during my last trip in Malaysia because everyone was talking politics! Even the aunties walking around at the park for their morning exercise!! I've literally had people I do not know asking me to "Please come back to vote!" or "You must come back to vote!" There's even an FB Page called "Jom Balik Undi" where I saw the netizens organizing car pooling and pick-up services in order to get the people down to the ballot boxes. What was even more intriguing was MNCs offering their services in order to get the people down in droves to the ballot boxes.

Here's an article in South China Morning Post : "Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific Hits Political Turbulence With Offer To Malaysian Voters" (personal POV is that - it's a commercial biz, and when there's an opportunity to build relationship with the customers - why not. I don't see why the idiot government need to slam them for it? #FacePalm) 

and another article in Channel News Asia : "Go Home To Vote : Malaysians, Companies Offer To Help Fellow Citizens Travel Home To Cast Ballots" 

and not to mention Air Asia's "Fly Home To Vote" Promotion

Well done, Malaysians and beyond for this cry of unity. At first, after reading all these battle cries from citizens of all walks of life unite to go to war with the a**-hole PM, I felt guilty and felt I needed to apologize for my own decision of not going home to vote. But on hindsight, I don't think I owe anyone an apology for my decision. It is after all, my rights and I can so choose to exercise my right to vote or not to exercise my right to vote.

I guess, work absence reasons aside, a big part of me has been feeling utmostly desensitized after the GE 13 in 2013. I was very gung-ho back then for the change (mostly just wanted Malaysia to be rid of brainless clowns running the country) and even attended quite a number of ceramahs including the great one where everyone turned out in black at the Kelana Jaya Stadium. Bright and early on voting day 2013, I casted my first ever vote with such high hopes in my chest that when I wake up, there'll be a new government. Well, you all know what happened lah. The a**-hole still ruled and even asked the Chinese "Apa lagi Cina mau?" (What more do the Chinese want?). Hopes dashed, I flew home to Myanmar with a crushed heart. I unfollowed every political page from Malaysia and stopped following the Malaysian politics. I tossed and turned for a couple of weeks before I even wrote my thoughts about : GE 13 : The Tsunami Aftermath

Of course, it's social media. One cannot totally unfollow news unless you consider staying off social media completely. I still come across articles of the Malaysian government's utmost stupidity every now and then and I'm usually both angered and baffled by how rock-bottom stupid can they really get? Like, even if I used the word "stupidest", it doesn't do their stupidity any justice!! I seriously cannot imagine at all their blatant ..... blatant..... brainlessness. I've always joked that they should hire me as their PR Consultant. I mean, here - look at what a Minister said about statutory rape : 

I mean, reading that, don't you really want to question where does the brainless stupidity come from? #EpicFail. I actually cannot believe there are publishers who compiled their stupidity into reading materials, but hey - these are very entertaining contents indeed. For those who need a good laugh for the day - you can click on these links here and here by Vulcan Post 😆😆😆

Anyway, sorry I got derailed. Yes, so back to me not coming home to vote. I guess I'm not so into politics. From what I had understood about the new delineation (yet another blatantly bad PR move by the moronic incumbent government), the area where I am due to vote is considered 'safe' - as in, my vote doesn't count in this "numbers game" which will be mainly what the GE 14 is about due to the incumbent government's cheating methods. I mean, seriously, apparently he only needs 20% majority to win 😡😡😡 (Did Najib Just Pocket The Malaysian Election?) Anyway, I've always hated that 'Dunno What Jip' (this is how my dear Ah Por calls this a**-hole 😁😁😁) and his government. He is one of the most embarrassing PM ever and has driven the country to rock bottom. To be honest, sometimes to avoid having awkward conversations with taxi drivers or strangers while I live abroad in Myanmar, when they ask me where am I from, I would say something like "Mongolia" or the likes 😝😝😝 Especially that time when that moronic brainless fool insulted The Lady #FacePalm1000Times

Whilst Malaysia is my place of birth, I cannot say that I am all that patriotic despite being born on Merdeka Day. Yes, I call Malaysia my home because that's where my family is at. I go home and it's because I go 'home' to them. I also call Myanmar my home now that I live here. It's my home because I too have family here - my husband, that is. And the children I volunteer for. And the SoyAi Boys. And my students. I used to call Cambodia my home too. And Vietnam. And so on, so forth. I am not a particularly "rooted" sort of person if you know what I mean. In fact, at any given trip back to Malaysia, I also stay from "home" to "home" - from my husband's to my parents' to the village. I'm like a gypsy 😨😨😨 When I am abroad, I do not have cravings for Malaysian food. In fact, I actually go out of my way avoiding Malaysian food. When I am back in Malaysia, of course, I would want to eat all the Malaysian favourites, etc. I don't know why there's just this button in me that's missing. There was a girl who posted this statement on FB all the way from Berlin :  "I've never felt wanted by Malaysia. Yet I still stubbornly call it home." I have friends who have migrated to other countries and are even permanent residents who still have really deeply embedded emotions for Malaysia. I can't say the same. Don't get me wrong. I don't hate Malaysia. The country is beautiful. The people - well, you can see how united Malaysians can get when they indeed do need to go to war. The people are warm and friendly and one of the reasons I don't crave Malaysian food outside of Malaysia is because it just doesn't taste authentic. There are many beautiful spots in the country (only problem is the very brainless government do not know how to drive and grow tourism in Malaysia - simply because it is just corrupted to the core). But I dunno, I think the years of the government's stupidity and sidelining policies have taken its toll I suppose. Who knows. Maybe I have to wait for more years to come by. Maybe it'll take me another journey of self-discovery before I find myself embracing my roots.

But for now, I will just cheer Malaysians on from the sidelines. Yes, like many of you, I do want to see that Dunno What Jip sentenced to jail for the pilferage of Malaysia's good. I want to see him being brought to the stand. But I won't be casting my vote. I'll be praying from all the way over here. And when you go to vote, I will be singing this song for all of yous :

"I'm not afraid
To take a stand
Come take my hand
We'll walk this road together, through the storm
Whatever weather, cold or warm,
Just letting you know that, you're not alone
Holler if you feel like you've been down the same road."

#Eminem ☝☝☝

Monday, February 19, 2018

What Happens When You Grow Old?

A mirror selfie with Ah Por - our first!
It's CNY Day 4. This year, I've taken a longer leave to spend a longer time with my family. To be more specific, with Ah Por. I guess, this has to be the first time in all these years that I've stayed for a week during the CNY.

Since I was a kid, CNY had been the all important festival and I looked forward to it every single year, missing it only once when I went abroad to study. I never quite grew out of it, despite my worse teenage rebellious drama years (where I wore black on Day 1 just to annoy the hell out of everyone) Oh gawd!! I must be such a nightmare back then!!! LMAO 😁😁😁

Anyway, whilst it's been a happy CNY with the family and even my mother-in-law came over, there had been some pretty not-so-good-news just when I arrived back to the village as well. One of it happens to be the deteriorating state of my Ah Por. Before I write further, I want to say that my biggest problem is my attachment to people and things. And I'm emotional AF.

Really, I guess, there are some things that I myself am trying to understand, and I'm trying to be as honest as possible with myself too. But my Ah Por have been growing increasingly depressed over the last few years and she's lost her feisty self. The one who is quick and witty with her remarks and comebacks. That strong woman who scolded me and asked me to stand aside as she lifted 2 pails of water just like that while I struggled with one and spilled water everywhere (back in the day, we had to go fetch water from the river because no water from the government pipes). The one who always, always told me that no matter what, the most important thing is your health and your happiness. The money is meaningless without those 2 elements.

In place, is a bitter woman, who is telling me that no matter what, the most important thing is to be rich. "If I am rich, do you think everyone will leave me alone and not care about me??! Do you think they will scold me and speak to me so loudly??" The problem is, I come from a family who communicates terribly - in other words, they don't communicate. And when they do, they don't communicate well. We were never brought up to express ourselves or our feelings (as for me - I think it's just the writer and dreamer in me that got all these out). And worse of all - I come from a family who is quick-tempered (That's right. Where do you think I got THAT from 😝😝😝) It's a family who believes that scolding is a sign of love.

To be honest, I'm in tears writing this because I'm in a dilemma. Ah Por is 92 years old. She is being difficult. BUT, can you imagine or not? She won't listen because she's been doing all those prayer stuff, climb up, climb down, carrying pails of water, boiling soup for as long as she could till she fell and broke her legs. To tell her, "Haiya!!! No need to do anymore lahhh!" is just causing her to feel really uneasy. She wants to clean the altar. We scream at her "STOP!!!!! Can you sit down or not???!!!" because for us, we don't want her to fall and she will really not be able to walk then. Then what happens? She's forgetful, but she can't eat outside food because it is not the taste she is used to. She tries to cook and she forgets to turn off the stove and we all know how that ends. So again, we scream and say "AHHHHHH can you just NOT COOK????!! Just eat whatever is prepared for you!!" When we take her out to eat, she can't finish her soup noodle because she eats very little now. And she wants to pack the remaining back and we say "Aiyooo !! How can you eat that when you pack it back???!!!" For her, it's wasteful. For us, it's not good for her to eat that. Just the other night, she told me to move the josstick holder onto a chair. I said no need, we can leave it on the table as it is shaded. She refused to sleep because the thing was just not done as per her request. Fearing that she would go and do it by herself and risk a fall, I did it anyway. I went to shower, I came out and there she was, struggling to move the chair, all because I did not put it at a right angle. I just got so mad because I already did it. Why would she do it and what happens if she fell? I was just beyond mad. I knew that it was all of these behaviours of hers that was driving everyone else mad and not wanting to take care of her or see her much.

I've tried to reason with her. But a 92 year-old woman who raised a family almost single-handedly although she can't even read a single alphabet will always be right. There's no reasoning with her. Because of that, she's become an annoyance to everyone. If I have to use the word, it will be "burden". Because she's being difficult.

And because of this "difficulty" and she feels everyone is abandoning her, she's turned into a kid trying to get attention. She's unhappy. To draw out a smile or a laugh from her these days is difficult. She's playing the pity card and I know it works on me. As I only have one grandma left. Wednesday, when I leave, I would leave with such a heavy heart, afraid that this is the last CNY I will get with her. So I try my best to cheer her up and have conversations with her and all that. But it's difficult because all she talks about to me is "no money, no money, no money". And I get annoyed. Our family is not rich. We've never been rich. This had never been an issue before. I really don't understand why she is so hung-up about the money now. She hides her money everywhere and she keeps counting and recounting her money. I'm beyond crazy looking at that. I just feel a big stab in my heart. Why, Ah Por? Why? We are all taking care of you the best that we can. But I also know that part of her "no money" complains also stem from the fact that out of her 6 children, 5 are no longer working. Everyone is over 65 years old!!! In her 92-year-old simple mind, not working = no income. If so, how to be taking care of her? Doctors are not cheap these days.

On the other side of things, are her children and grandchildren. We all have our shit to do and get to. Everyone has their own lives and stuff to do. To rush to buy her a meal and then rush back off to work only to hear her say she doesn't want to eat that is also a crazy thing to happen, isn't it? Or to have driven her to the clinic and sent her home and driven all the 45-min way back only to get a phone call to say she wants to go to the clinic again is also absolute madness isn't it? I got it easy since I'm not around. Once, I took her out to eat, and we were already in the restaurant and I had already ordered the food. She said she didn't want to eat those food. So, I asked her what she wanted to eat? She said chicken rice. I ran across to buy her chicken rice and came back and she said she doesn't like chicken rice. I really didn't know what to do. When she asks you to do something, no matter how ridiculous, you better do it right there and then, like switching off the refrigerator even though you still have something cooling in the fridge and you try to tell her that. Otherwise, she will go and try to tip toe on her bad legs and switch it off and she will be struggling and losing balance. And we don't understand her and she doesn't understand us. Nobody wants to understand each other's feelings. There's a huge-ass generation gap, made worse by one being uneducated and old-fashioned and the others being educated and equally stubborn. Everyone is right.

This CNY, I find myself missing my Ah Por alot. The one who was witty with all those feisty comebacks. No matter how much I sat down to try to provoke her or disturb her, she will still go on about how so and so's children takes care of their parents by giving their parents x amount of money each month. I used to tuck her into bed and we would chat and laugh before good night. The past year and more, she has been shooing me off because she said it's not good luck to be so close to someone who is going to die. Or else, she would talk about the so and so's children and the no money situation again and I just do not want to listen to that. I did managed to get some laughs out of her, but just fleeting moments. Like, she just removed her dentures and I am asking her to smile. That was cute. We shared a laugh together and I'm holding my camera ready to take her pix and she said I can stand there and wait all night she will not open her mouth to smile.

I want this woman back. I don't want to remember her as the bitter, unhappy Ah Por that she is right now.

Her situation has made me think about a lot of things. What happens when we all grow old and become a little more "unable"? I spoke to my sailor-man cousin uncle and turned out his Mom was exactly the same. More friends of friends' moms were almost similar, if not worse (think about packing the food back and the Mom throws it into the sink because she's not yet hungry, why force her to eat now??) Maybe it's a cycle - from a baby to teen, to adult, to old person and then back to a kid. And what happens when the people we once worshiped as heroes and heroines become this, this,... sad little "unable" bundle? What happens when the Mama you used to rely on who could find anything, and I mean anything in the house can no longer even button her own blouse? What about the Papa who drove you in and out and was your bodyguard at banks cannot even walk anymore? What happens when they become a bitter, unhappy kid because of whatever the situation may be? We all think we would age gracefully, we hope to age gracefully. My gawd, I sprained my ankle for three weeks and couldn't get to do things I loved doing so I was bitching like a MOFO. I was driving MOH up the walls. How strong are our spirit when we face situations like that, like as simple as growing old and unable?

Is money going to solve all of these problems? Would it have been any easier AND happier if we had money to afford first-class facilities to take care of the old folks when they become "unable"? Would the issue of convenience be solved? When we don't want Ah Por to fall and really be not able to walk, is it because we don't want the extra worry / stress / burden (cos obviously it's easier taking care of someone who can still hobble around and bathe herself as opposed to someone who is bed-ridden?) I don't get it. I just always thought things were just as simple as the old people just want to see their loved ones more often since they too know their days are numbered. I didn't think anything beyond that. Don't get me wrong. As much as I can, I would give my family the world. I will never stinge on them. But it also all has to be within my means, right? We hate when the old folks scold and nag. One day, we might go home and there will be no one to nag and scold us. But then again, we also don't want the parting memories to be full of scolding and nagging.

Don't mind me. I am just ranting. I guess, nothing a good night's sleep and a good morning run won't settle.

But for now, I pray, as I have always prayed since my maternal grandpa passed away, that everyone will outlive me. My prayers are not answered fully since I've had to bid farewell to my paternal grandpa and later, my maternal grandma as well. Still, one can keep praying.

And that is the whole problem with me. Attached and I can't let go either. 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

8 YEARSSSSSSSS .... Really???

#MeAndYouJustUs2 + 8years

Last week, when we were out with some friends, I was asked - so how many years married? And I announced that MOH and I will be celebrating our 9th anniversary this month. And then he jabbed me in the ribs and said "It's only 8 years lahhhh.". Forgive me. I was never good at math. But let me attempt the numbers again.... we're celebrating 22 years of friendship and in that 22 years, we had 3 years of dating and 8 years of being husband and wife. Yes, I got them numbers right this time 😉😉😉

Whilst we are indeed celebrating yet another additional year to our journey, I usually like to take this time to reflect on our #MeAndYouJustUs2 journey. A lot of people, especially our students, the SoyAi Boys, they see us and they think "relationship goals". News flash - relationships take effort and hardwork too.

I don't think many people know - some of the hardships that we had been through as a couple. There was a year, while we were in Cambodia that my business was doing really terribly and MOH got retrenched..... we were struggling each month trying to figure out how we would make rent, pay bills, etc. I remembered that day when he came home and we were up on the rooftop of our apartment block and he broke the news to me. "I'm getting retrenched." Just like that. And just as automatically - even though we were both relying on his salary (because my business was near closing) - I told him "It's ok. If we have rice, we would eat rice and if we had porridge, we would eat porridge." Struggling in those days were tough. Despite the hardships, one of the thing that kept us going were the children at Happy Tree, the HIV+ orphanage we volunteered at. For them, for our families and for my team, we put up brave fronts every week when we visited, still bringing them snacks and stationaries, etc. Behind them, we fought to survive. I can remember those midnight moments, in the middle of the Cambodian summer heat with no electricity and we can't sleep.... I can vividly remember the silhouette of MOH sitting up on the bed, holding the corner of the blanket with his teeth and another two corners with his hands and fanning me to sleep. I would never forget that image. New Year's eve of 2010 - we literally celebrated with white porridge at home. The thing was, I don't remember any ill-feelings. I only remembered us staying strong together.

Whatever it was, Lord Buddha was kind. We survived and we passed that hurdle, my team and I moved the business through despite being on the verge of closing and 2 years later, MOH and I moved to Myanmar. As they say - the rest is history. As a couple, we never forgot those hard times and it is also part of the reason why we live so humbly. The hardship had helped us deal with all those laughable Myanmar Moments 😅😅😅 Whilst we do get help once a week to sweep and mop the place (I can never thank Li Su enough because she's a God-sent and I'm happy to know she's doing really well too!), we still do our own other chores mostly. I really don't care if he was the Head of Marketing for Samsung or even if he was the King! He's my husband and he better iron his own clothes!!! 😝😝😝 Admittedly, I keep "recolouring" his clothes when I do the laundry. And unlike what most people think - it was NOT ON PURPOSE!!! 😛😛😛 (I swear to God, it is also not on purpose that I sometimes lock him out of the apartment and sometimes lock him in!! 😂😂😂)

Things in Myanmar started off chillax. I missed those times where things were easier and we traveled around in that cute grandmama bicycle (everytime we went uphill, MOH would tell me to get off the bike 😂😂😂) But those hard times we been through pushed us to keep working hard. We worked hard for ourselves. We worked hard for our families. We worked hard so that we can continue shining our light and helping others too. We realized too that we're not that young anymore and the time is now, to pursue our dreams and ambitions. Understanding and supporting one another in that pursuit of our individual goals is an important element in any relationships. I am thankful that MOH supports my crazy, wild ideas of saving the world. Not just support me, but he believes in me. I am a dreamer and he's a realist. It's sometimes great because he is able to provide rational thinking when I am too far up in the clouds. LOL. He always tells me "Behind every strong woman is a stronger man.". No need to remind me every time. I know that !!

Whilst we have our individual dreams and goals, we also need to understand that we need to stay on the path together. Working on a relationship is not just about understanding and supporting one another. It is a lot of give and take. Some people may think giving in, changing your habits, not doing things that upsets your other half means "losing yourself" in the process. I beg to differ. When you're in love, and you're in a relationship, giving in is a way of finding that sweet spot where two people become one together. We do have our individual characters (I am sure those who knows us can point out how very different we are!) and our individual hobbies and passion but despite all of that, our seamless unity in the art of "giving and taking" has made us one and made us whole. I guess one of the key elements would be how the two of us are introverted / anti-social and after a full day of facing people, we go home and we don't even want to talk to each other! And that's perfectly ok! And might I also add that over the years, I have finally managed to influence MOH to be more active and seems like these days - he's competing in more races than I. See what I mean by finding that spot without feeling like losing yourself? Sometimes, human beings complicate things by thinking negatively - why does giving in to another person has to be about "losing oneself" ? Remember - it can be all about finding that sweet spot to unite stronger!

Of course, life is not all a bed of roses ya. It is so easy to take things for granted. To take each other for granted just because things are done out of habit. That's perhaps when we need to take a step back, reflect and see if there's any way we can get better. I once watched this movie circa 2001, "The Mexican" and in there was a line of question : "When 2 people love each other, when is enough, enough?" Sometimes, when things get out of hand, I like to think about this question for a bit. I don't know what answers other people might have and I sure as hell do not know what MOH's answer would be, but I know my own answer to that question. 😌😌😌

I'm reading a line off MOH's vows that are tattooed on my thighs (you know, that tattoo spot is like one of the most evil, yet smartest thing he's done in this marriage because it is a "fly-stopper". Full stop. 😏😏😏) Anyway, that line of his vows says :

"I commit to the miracle of making each day work and I promise to live a life that will honour the vows I made." 

Key take-out : "Make each day work". My understanding : "Make Each Day Count". 

Here's to many more of making each day count with pranks and annoying one another and laughing together and continuously finding that sweet spot. 😘😘😘

Here we are in Vicchio, Tuscany! #iFellInLoveWithVicchio
St George Castle, Lisbon, Portugal
This is mostly us - fun and funny. Here fooling around in Florence, Italy 
That sweet spot was my dream trip to Italy and his dream trip to Portugal all in one 😍

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Myanmar..... 5th Year and Lovin' It

You won't believe this was the bridge back in
Yankin when we first moved to Myanmar 2012
Everytime I begin writing on my blog, I start by cleaning out the cobwebs. This is totally unbecoming of a supposed "writer" 😝

Wow.... Myanmar, 5th Year. I'm going through the 6th rainy season - and you know what - after the 4th year - the indoor waterfalls and dampness don't get to me anymore. LOL. I'm seasoned and conditioned. Just 2 days ago, I went home after a long, long day and found the apartment flooding. I literally went "Oh. Water." I was too tired to even bother drying it up. LMFAO. When your energy is spent trying to empower the people of Myanmar, you don't let small stuff like these get to you. Or at least you close your eyes to it (and close the door to the room that was flooding 😝)

I am still with CM and for reasons still unknown to me, DBW gave me yet another increment. In a way, I guess, it's her way of appreciating me for helping her build up her team. I've been with the team for 5 years now and I do kinda feel my job is almost done with them.  I mean, wow. Just wow for me when I look back at the level of the team 5 years ago to where they are now, they've done well. Not as fast I would've loved but they're halfway there. And really, it is quite possible for them to continue growing without me. But perhaps DBW has other plans for me. I'm not sure. I still only go in as a consultant 3 times a week. It wasn't easy the last 5 years. It was a lot of (and I mean really A LOT OF) bang-head-on-wall and boo-boos and screaming (word has it that the whole Shin Saw Pu road can hear my voice) and I knew that it worked also because the team never gave up on me either. As hard as I pushed was as hard as they tried. Attitude. You can never teach that no matter what. I'd like to write a bit more about my relationship with DBW here. It's a bit of a funny one really. We don't talk much to each other - since the day I started working. I only have lunch with her once a year. When she needs me to look into certain projects she calls on me. We don't always see eye to eye, of course. But yet, despite all of that, there's an openness between us. And the level of trust I think really speaks for itself. We have nothing signed in black & white between us. Enough said. We had a bit of a heart-to-heart talk last year and I appreciate her wanting me to stay. For me, it's just the team. I love them to bits. But if I ever learnt anything from my SoyAi experience - it is that if I am continuously there, there will be certain growth level which they will not be able to go to. So, let's see when my day is done here. I'm also consulting for NEXlabs, a tech enterprise as well as a couple of other start-ups and agencies. Working with one of Forbes #30Under30 CEO had been fun. Really. 😉 Considering I'm a tech idiot and he's a tech-God. LOL. Though I am a little overwhelmed because I don't have enough time slots to take on more. I keep wanting to do more. MOH suggested that I start contemplating a training school.... hmmm..... can my plate get any bigger??

The SoyAi Boyz are mostly on their own now. I don't see them everyday and only occasionally when the situation calls for it. I spent 2 years trying to make a difference with this project. It's now their turn. They're also managing the children, their daily needs as well as the weekend classes and the Youth Centre in general. I've also roped in some of my students to come teach at the Youth Centre and they're really loved by the kids. I'm really so thankful for their passion and dedication. You know, some may say I've shrugged my responsibility to the Youth Centre and the kids. People can say whatever they want. But considering the fact that Myanmar isn't my home country, I need to suss out a legacy plan. I have to keep empowering and INSPIRING Myanmar people to do good and that way, at least I know that when the day comes for me to leave, I know there'll be people still carrying out the good.

I'm still teaching at Strategy First. Which has been really fun because I get to observe the behaviour of different walks of working adult lives. Watch their attitudes, observe their hunger in learning, see their passion in making a difference for their beloved country. There's a huge mixture in the classes and I know some will go very far and some won't. Again - you can never teach attitude. What I can do is only keep reminding them that positive attitude and the grit to swim above all the shit will take them as far as they want to go. It is still up to them. It's the same coaching fitness classes actually. Those who want it will be there every week, consistently, gritting through the shaking pain from the 100th squat. I like to see attitude. I like to see people struggling but yet they don't give up. That motivates me to try even harder - not only for myself, but for them too. That motivates me to bring my A-Game. Over and over again.

Myanmar by far has changed in the short span of 5 years. Who would've ever thought that Hard Rock Cafe would be in Yangon? When I first arrived in 2012, my choices of eating out was rather limited. But these days, there's so many choices, we don't know what the hell to do. And then there's Uber. There's Grab. Back in the day, I had Flintstone taxis with wipers that don't work in the rain. LOL. The buses are air-conditioned now. I remember taking the buses back then - boy oh boy. It was tough. !! This rapid change has kinda got to me though. You start seeing a bit more of the ugly. You start seeing a bit more of the selfish. You start seeing a bit more of the dishonesty and distrust. Not a day goes by that I don't wish for things to be like 2012 again - despite all the inconveniences (water and electricity being a huge part - but this hasn't changed much). Yet, things were a lot simpler and no one was out to get you - at all. On good days, I get to see the simple kindness on the streets, the honesty of a poor security guard returning a diamond ring to the customer and I think - there's still hope. All is not lost. I pray Myanmar is able to preserve this....  then on the opposite side of things, there are the 1st world foreigners who come in, thinking this, this is their pot of gold. They sit there in their high seat and complain about the heat, the weather, the power cuts, the people, the supermarkets,.... if all you do is complain and bitch - go home. I was discussing with DBW actually - who by the way has a great, great love for the people of her country, about how it should be a priority KPI for all foreign-hires to upgrade the skills of the locals. If you're too busy complaining and you got no time upgrading lives and making a difference - go home. C'mon. Get off your ass, get off that high seat and go make a difference. A lot, and I mean a lot of foreigners do and some of them have really great projects empowering the people of Myanmar. Get involved! Spread love. Spread kindness. I have SoyAi and The Children of Tomorrow Youth Centre and Women4Women and a Mobile Soup Kitchen Project if anyone's looking to volunteer their time 😍😍😍God knows, I need help.

Sometimes, when Yangon seems despairing because of the rapid development and "invasion".... I like traveling to far-flung places within the country where you still get to experience the simple and honest kindness that the people of Myanmar offer. This is what's golden about you, Myanmar. Not your shwe nan dars and not your shwe whatever else. It is your shwe kindness. Please, please do preserve this. And let kindness be how the country move forwards.

You have been good to me and MOH for 5 years despite all the #MyanmarMoments. Oh, I know all those moments so damn well. The annual rental nightmare (YES - stay tuned for this as we embark on YET ANOTHER move this year!!!!), the no water for 3 days situation, the power cuts in the middle of the night during summer, the strange alien mold, the way strange lines are drawn into the road to manage traffic, the human-operated fairies wheel, the handyman who comes to your home without his tools, the list goes on. But despite all that, you stole my heart. You did. I hope to be able to continue to do good by you and your people.

Thank You Myanmar for 5 f***in' awesome years!! 

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Reflecting on 2016..... #BringItOn2017

My first tri after a 3-yr hiatus! I was paparazzi ready yo! 
Can you believe it? It's the last day of 2016! Can you believe it? I just cleaned out the cobwebs from my blog - AGAIN! 😛😛

Some may be bidding farewell to 2016 on a high, some may be bidding farewell to 2016 on a low. But one thing for sure, we will carry forward with us memories from the last year with us moving ahead.

I usually like to take the time to reflect on what I had done in the year and where I would or should be headed for in the coming year.

2016 had certainly flown past, all at once, I feel in a daze - like FML - it's the last day - what had I done that made a difference this year? But upon reflection, I did a lot actually.

Let's just say, work-wise, I've increased my hours, my days - MOH loves going around telling people that my full-time job is working part-time. I am still consulting for CMHL although I had expressed my wish to leave.... I am consulting for a couple of other start-ups, I am still teaching at Strategy First, I am still teaching my fit classes at 2 gyms here in Yangon... basically, all my available time-slots are taken up. Yet - I am still trying to carve out more time slots to accommodate more stuff that I want to do. That has always been my habit - I like my plate full. Not because I'm not focused, but simply because staying idle makes me feel rather useless. Why not take on a full-time job? Noooooo... I'm enjoying part-timing too much and it works out because I am able to pursue all my passion projects!

I think one of the biggest "wins" for me in 2016 was stepping back a bit on the SoyAi project and watching the boys fly. Sure, they've stumbled a bit, we've all stumbled a bit at the start of the new arrangement but they've had more wins this year compared to 2 years ago when we first started. 2017 will be the 3rd year that the project is running. Every time I see a win for the boys, my heart swells with pride. I cannot even describe the feeling and the emotions I went thru pulling them up this mountain when we first took that jump. But seeing them try, seeing them fly made it all worth it. I pray everyday that they continue moving forwards and continue flying and they will in turn make a difference in their country and for the people of Myanmar. 💓💓💓💓

This year also saw me being more involved with the ASEAN Women Entrepreneur Network and through the network, I've also launched another passion project - this time tackling a really large issue - sexual abuse and domestic violence against women. Sometimes, I don't know why I have this thing about wanting to save the world. This is a huge issue to tackle and frankly, I don't even know where to begin. To change mindsets as well know it is one of the hardest thing to do at the start. I've put together a team of superwomen to make sure the "Women 4 Women" project takes off in 2017 as we look at all possible angles on tackling the cultural and societal stigma surrounding this issue. May the force be with us. 💪💪💪

6 months ago, together with MOH, we also launched the Mobile Soup Movement here in Yangon. It's just a bit of money coming out from our monthly income to go into preparing 100 care packages each month to be distributed to the needy. I've always felt very blessed to have more than I need in my life. And the one thing I cannot stand is to see people hungry. So, I hope that this small, humble gesture would make a difference to people who need them care packages. No matter how small a difference, I hope it brings some cheer somehow. Well, at least this is motivation enough to keep me working hard and earning my keeps! ✌✌

On the business front - the humble spa I opened with my local partners have expanded to one more branch and moving forward, we hope to expand further. 2017 would also see me potentially starting another new business venture here in Myanmar and I know me and my other local partners have been really, really tardy about working on this one, but you know - it's really time to make it happen! You can all stay tuned to know what's brewing, eh?

I also launched my first non-fiction book in 2016! Together with my partner who co-authored the book with me, it was a 2-year project and to see it come alive was a really, really big deal. Being one of the pioneers in the event and wedding industry in Malaysia, this book sums it up for us in a lot of way. I would like to say a humble, humble thank you to my partner / co-author who really pushed for everything to happen when I lost hope. Partnerships need to be like that - you need to know your partner's got your back and you know damn well you've got theirs. With the book, it is also time to consider retiring from the industry while I am on a high. I always knew there was a time limit to this career. Don't get me wrong, I still have a lot of passion for MARCOMs, events, branding, etc. But when it comes to event - unfortunately, age does play a huge role. You can't run back-to-back events and survive 72 hours without sleep just on adrenaline 😩😩😩

On the fit-front, I competed in my first triathlon again after a 3-year hiatus and I still came up in the Top 10 - which was more than I could ask for considering my multiple injuries. I suffered a crazy swollen tissue problem in February of 2016 and I haven't done a single 21km since.... I have now worked back to a 10km run but my time is really slow. I also have sciatica, knee problems and tennis elbow to top it all off. It is a bit sad for me, but I still keep training and keep pushing everyday. MOH on the other hand, having recovered from his knee surgery last year is suddenly all into triathlons and will be competing almost every month! 😑😑

I didn't get any holidays in this year to go anywhere except 2 weeks ago when I went to Loikaw, north of Myanmar for a really short trip upon MOH's insistence. And boy, did I not regret it. The people there were super-friendly, super nice, the weather was delicious at 13 degrees, making my morning runs extra awesome. I have never seen fresh - so fresh at the fresh wet market! I was just super-delighted! Yangon can get to you at times you know, with the traffic and the crowd and the stifling weather. Every time I travel to a different part of Myanmar and meet new people and new culture, I renew my love for this country. There is so much good and kindness here and not to mention, so much beauty too. I really don't know when I will have to bid farewell to this place but for now, I am calling it my home. 💕💕💕

Personally, I continue to coach as many young and hopeful minds here in Myanmar through what I do. I always tell my charges that my doors are always open. Reach out whenever they need. And I will try my best if not we will try together. My methods are generally rather unorthodox and it ain't really for those with a weak stomach. Well, those with weak stomachs would run far away from me, that's for sure! 😁😁😁

What are my plans for 2017 exactly? Actually, I have no plans! LOL. I lived by this all of 2016 :

"When you get, GIVE. When you learn, TEACH." I will continue doing the same for 2017 and strive to do it better. As I grow older, I realized more and more how true it is that it is not so much in the planning and targets but it is really all about the journey. The words you live by and you practice and the difference you make while you journey through this thing called life.

I am not just thankful for a blessed 2016. I am thankful each and everyday that I am surrounded by love from so many facets of my life - especially from MOH and my family. Their love and support has held me up as high as I am today. For that, I am so, so, so grateful. Their love and belief in me makes me continuously wake up to strap on my combat boots and battle it out another day. I am thankful too that their lives have been filled with so much joys and laughter. Not kidding - each and everyday, I am grateful for this.

Life will always have its ups and down. Life will also always have the moments where you want to smile and laugh at every little thing. Life will have moments where you want to stick your middle finger up at everything and everyone (particularly the drivers in Yangon!) I don't claim to know what life will throw at me. I don't even claim to be prepared. I just pray everyday that I find peace, tenacity, faith, courage and wisdom. And I pray too that no matter what, I will always look for the good.

With that, I wish all of my loved ones, friends near and far, people I hold dear in my heart that you will too always look for the good and you are all always, always in my prayers.

Have a bangin' one y'all! #BringItOn2017 😎😎😎😎😎