Oh. Be still my heart. I never wanted to do the trekking thing again, but I’m secretly glad I let sam drag me out on a grueling journey over the mountains and through the terraces. Never mind how your legs begin to tremble at the 3 hour mark. I could stare at these valleys forever.
Visiting a city the second time around means you get to cut to the chase. No more obligatory tourist areas, long lines, museum fees. Our agenda was simple:-
1. barbecued beef & pork patties (bun cha). this famous establishment on hang da was literally a minute away from our accomodation. perfectly salty, sour and sweet, wrapped in a cloud of barbecue smoke. how is it that i typed that out and just tasted it in my mouth?!
3. learning how far we’d go just to feast our eyes on more bolts of cottons, linen, silks and denim than we could ever imagine. took a ridiculously long cab ride out of the city and got greeted with more fabric stalls stretching out as far as the eye could see (and then some!)
4. learn to love in this city for the second time around. we did good.
on our first proper day in the city we sat in the planetarium at the museum of natural history, staring upward at a domed imax ceiling for a show about the stars, and it was the most beautiful thing i’ve ever seen. every time the sky swirled around and we danced across galaxies, i flinched from the vertigo, but also because i kept my eyes wide open to take it all in. the push and pull of magnetic waves, a star burning bright, slow and fierce, leaving a legacy of light that travels millions of miles even after it ceases to exist. did you know that by some evolutionary marvel, we each have one teaspoon’s worth of star-matter in us?
my first time in new york was selfish, all about firsts, thrills and broadway dreams coming true. it’s the kind of place that puts you on top of the world and in the centre of the universe.
this time though, i loved the city because it made me feel tiny too. you are: one light in the distance, one more set of ears for the underground platform jazz to wrap itself around, one-fiftieth the size of a tree. we are humble and small, but only because our world is so big, and so unbelievably beautiful. a tradeoff in our favour, really.
so flinch, be overwhelmed, but take your place and take it all!
from april 2011: marathon 13 hour train journey. fell asleep to sacramento steel and amber street lights burning against the night, but when i next opened my eyes, tree fronds were brushing against the glass against my cheek, and all was black, white and untouched. another nap later and suddenly we were racing against the willamette river in a warmer world!
When suppertime in Singapore rolls around, my thoughts always go back to 3am dim sum nights in Hong Kong — stealing out of the HKU dorms past the sleeping receptionist, dizzying cab rides down the slopes of Hong Kong island, and into the fray of Sun Hing at 10 Hau Wo St to gobble down salted egg yolk custard buns glinting with so much goodness. I can taste it in my mouth just looking at that photo!!
Sorry I haven’t been here in a while, school and thesis work has kicked off hard and heavy! I spend most of my days staring at ‘Reply Email’ text boxes, so the wordpress post editor is not high on my list of preferred sights, but rest assured I am still alive, thinking and feeling, loving and enjoying life intensely, as always ;) Please accept these photos of Malaysian culinary treasures as penance?
These pictures were collected as my family and I ate our way through Malaysia, starting from Penang, up to my dad’s hometown, Alor Setar. I loved every bite, but if you’re ever in Penang, you need to go to the hawker centre on Lebuh Presgrave and hunt down the ice kacang and hokkien prawn noodles in the last two photos. Ask for frozen-peanut-butter-flecked vanilla ice cream on your shaved ice and pink syrup, and extra pork ribs in your noodles, and you’ll be on your way to happy rumbly tummy days.
On my mind, in between notes and writing: crystal waters and blue houses, pavements and a salty breeze. These pictures are from Hong Kong, but these feelings have no time and location. We could be thirteen and dancing by the foamy waters of the east, twenty-two and drifting down a Chinese river, or bundled in scarves in San Francisco. Don’t want to be there now (because I need to pass my exams!) but I want to hold these visions close, the same way girls clutch at their skirts in the wind, desperately protect youth and beauty for as long as they’ll last.