Short trip to Northern Italy

This Italy trip came out of the blue, deciding only a month before the trip happened. Usually I know and plan things for months before going somewhere a bit far like Europe. But the main reason this one happened so quickly was because of the boredom and frustration toward my life in the past 2 months and I did feel like I needed an “escape”

(Funny how by the time we went on the trip, the frustration was gone. A few weeks before was a bit hectic, and then everything finally fell into places. Life is funny that way, huh?).

Initially, I wanted to go alone and the first destination that came to my mind was Croatia. But somehow, in the end, I decided to ask my mom if she wanted to come along on a trip somewhere. She hasn’t traveled out of the country for a while and she did have a rough year last year. I thought it would be nice to get her out to travel and freshen things up for her for a bit. It was a compromise for me, because I disliked traveling in a tour group, but for some reason I sort of feel like I should do it for her.

We tried to pick several countries from around the world, from Korea, Japan, Russia and many more. In the end this Northern Italy trip caught my attention, even though I’ve already been to Italy twice. I’ve wanted to go to Cinque Terre for years now. And I’ve never been to Milan either. My previous two visits were mainly focused on major tourist destinations like Rome, Florence, Venice, Pisa.

I loved it. Manarola in Cinque Terre was as beautiful as I imagined it would be. I also loved Dolomites mountain and Italian alps area. It was so, so beautiful and the air felt so refreshing. I felt like I could properly breathe and realized how shitty Bangkok air really is. Was a surprise for me that they speak German and all the signs are in German and Italian in South Tyrol, Italy.

Photos can’t really captivate how beautiful the Alps is in reality.

I’ve also wanted to see Duomo in Milan for so long and finally I’m here. What a beauty.

Europe in summer is so lovely. I almost forgot how lovely those long summer nights are. June is such a good month to travel there as it’s not too hot yet and not really the peak season. Could be a lot more challenging to navigate in July.

My only complaint was the trip was way too short, only one week. You need at least 10 days in Europe. But then again I used up all of my vacation leave on this trip and this is all I had. Not exactly worth the 11 hour flight. But thank god we flew direct from Bangkok to Milan this time. Once we flew with Emirates and had to transit in Abu Dhabi before going to Barcelona, and I was a complete wreck. Really noticed a big difference and it was much, much better with direct flight. I did fly direct to Amsterdam with KLM last year too, and it wasn’t as exhausting as it would be when you had to transit in Middle East.

It’s probably weird to say this, but I feel like it’s a…comfort going to Europe since I’ve been traveling there quite a few times now. Each country is different of course, but there are some shared similarities that I am quite used to. Nothing surprised me as much as it was before, and it’s always nice to be back. I think I’ve been to most countries in Western Europe now, time to explore more of the Eastern part!

I think I will keep going back and exploring some different parts of Europe; some cities I haven’t been to. I just love the ability to walk around without sweating. I love how, comparatively, things are more organized than the chaotic Bangkok. I love that nippy feelings in the air, something you never get when living in a tropical country. I love the feeling of holding a hot coffee in my hand on cold mornings. I love how different summer feels when you are on the different side of the world. I love how it’s a “dry” summer and not humid. I love how the sun doesn’t set until 9 PM.

If I traveled by myself I would pop in to the museums, walk around, find something nice to eat and drink, observe the locals, explore, and just walk, walk, walk anywhere, and that simply made me happy. In a city you are unfamiliar with, you feel so small, you see everything with fresh eyes, you notice so many little things you don’t normally do in your own city, and it feels nice to get that perspective. Bangkok bores me at times and once in a while I feel like I need to get out for something new, something different.

Hopefully the post vacation blues don’t hit me so bad this time. I have something exciting and scary to look forward to next month. This was a nice little break to prepare myself for what’s to come. I’m so nervous but do hope for the best. Fingers crossed for myself!

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Guilt on lazy days

I don’t know why I always feel guilty on days I get super lazy. Usually it’s either Saturday or Sunday.

Like today, by the time I rolled over and properly got up was almost 12 *shudder* I was up a while ago, but when I had no plan to do that day, sometimes I just stayed in bed for…nothing.

Sunday, isn’t it?

But I think it’s a bad habit and I don’t like it. Yet I keep doing it.

And then I really did nothing apart from scrolling down Instagram feed or watching blogger videos on YouTube or reading really random stories/articles here and there on my phone. I didn’t even read a proper book. Sometimes I don’t bother taking a shower until 3 or 5PM. Why do I even bother taking a shower at 5PM? Not sure either.

And for some reason, on days like this, I feel guilty as hell.

I feel like there’s so much I should be doing. Why don’t I finish any online courses I’ve started? Why don’t I sit down and learn more about digital marketing, when I never think I know enough? Why don’t I start cleaning or clearing out my closet? Why don’t I start having my own domain name for this blog? Why don’t I learn how to properly cook? Why don’t I start learning how to make an aeropress coffee?

Why am I sitting here and doing nothing?

My close friend could probably say, stop beating yourself up again, everyone needs to have a break once in a while, and it’s ok to do nothing. Ironically enough, she’s the one who never, ever has a day off – constantly working and working, be it Friday night or Sunday afternoon.

Maybe I feel pressured from comparing myself to my peers or even my own brother, who started his own business and hardly ever has a day off either? Maybe I am caught up in this way of life for people my age that being busy is valued?

Damn.

Kinda sad.

Or maybe not. Maybe I feel bad that I can’t force myself to focus on something? Nothing I feel strongly passionate about?

Maybe I am scared, maybe it’s the fear that time is ticking and if I don’t start doing anything meaningful or useful, one day it’s gonna be too late, when I look back on these lazy days of mine?

Oh dear, this is getting out of hand. I should stop this pointless blog post. This already feels like some really random rant that’s going nowhere.

Being honest as hell here, not the kind of stuff you see on Instagram or Facebook, eh?

Still got a few hours left on this cloudy Sunday. Wanna bet if I can move my ass to do something?

Mutual breakup

I didn’t know mutual breakup could be a thing. Usually one side would initiate the desire or intention to breakup, more than the other side.

Anything can happen and you never know how to predict this thing called relationship, I guess.

We think the distance is a great obstacle, the one we really can’t fight. To be apart, across the entire Pacific Ocean with 14 hour difference, for the duration of 3-5 years is simply too much to bear, or even to think of.

So it seems sensible to simply give up.

We said, let’s be realistic, 3 damn years are too tough.

It seems practical, since both of you have been through long distance relationships, known that it’s never gonna work out, certainly not for THREE years.

In fact, I’m really fed up of this long distance relationshit. My very first thought when I found out about this news was, “Not this shit again”

Also, I’ve never been committed to anyone or anything as long as 3 years, come to think of it.

But you know what…

Maybe the underlying issue isn’t about the distance.

Maybe the root cause is because we don’t like each other enough to keep trying and fighting and looking for other alternatives.

Our first reaction was to give up.

When you like each other that much, when you certainly don’t want to let the other person go, the reaction could be quite different.

At least we would try to fight for this relationship.

Just like that one time, flashback to 6 years ago at Suvarnabhumi airport, when my boyfriend then told me, I don’t know how it’s gonna work out but no, I’m not letting you go.

In the end we parted ways. Of course, it wasn’t a surprise and we saw it from the start. But at least there was this desire to fight for each other.

When that desire and that passion isn’t there, perhaps this is a great evidence of why we should let it go.

Because your heart isn’t in it much from the start.

That’s it.

Chiang Mai, you got a hold on me

It’s such a big deal for someone who hasn’t been to Chiang Mai for about 15 years or maybe longer, to finally go visit Chiang Mai at last! I know it sounds ridiculous, considered this is probably one of the places everyone visits regularly, and most likely one of the places tourists go when they first visit Thailand.

I didn’t expect much from this trip in the beginning. After all, it’s a domestic trip, how exciting could this be? We just booked the tickets 2 weeks prior and we hadn’t really planned anything much for this short 4 day trip. I sort of had some places and ideas in mind. In fact, it kind of hit me the night before we left that, shit, let’s figure out somewhere to go after we land in Chiang Mai at 8AM tomorrow!

But the trip turned out to be way beyond my expectation. I totally fell in love with Chiang Mai! After Amsterdam, this is the second place I thought could be a great place to live. I’ve never thought I could live elsewhere in Thailand apart from Bangkok my hometown, so this trip challenged my perception on that, surprisingly enough.

No cafe hopping

Though we didn’t plan much, my boyfriend and I agreed on one thing that, nope, not gonna do cafe hopping like so many Bangkok people do and post on social media, because why would you go to Chiang Mai to do such thing when you could just go to Thonglor instead!? Don’t get the trend much, honestly.

Nature

So this trip was a mixture of nature and city. We went up to famous touristy spots like Doi Suthep and Doi Inthanon for some fresh air. It felt totally amazing to feel the cool breeze of 15C in April, which is the middle of Thai summer, on top of Doi Inthanon, 2,565M above the sea level.

One of the things I love the most is our lovely accommodation called Vayahouse on the mountaintop with panoramic views of mountains near Mon Cham. It was very simple, we literally stayed in a tiny wooden box. 2,090THB per night was quite expensive for the room we got, but I suppose you pay for the breathtaking view in front of your own tiny balcony.

Opening the door, stepping out into the warmth of the sun, breathing fresh air of 15C morning weather deeply, with some jazz music in the background felt surreal. I sat there for a while, just taking it all in. And wonder, what else could you possibly want in life? Why complicates it so much?

City

Besides nature, we did a bit of templing in the city and a lot of Kao Soi eating! I totally fell in love with Kao Soi and couldn’t get enough of it that we had it almost everyday! One of the best ones we had was simply the local one with no name, only 35THB Kao Soi with chicken that our local friend kindly gave us recommendation. The ones on website and social media reviews can’t beat it.

Our colleague who is from Chiang Mai also came home during this period and showed us around a bit. First we went to see him in Chiang Mai university, what a lovely campus! We even spontaneously drove to Lampoon afterwards. I didn’t know before it was this close to each other. Did some local night market, ate at a northern restaurant and some local dishes, and we got some food recommendations like really amazing burger place (at 190 THB! Way too cheap) from our Chiang Mai colleagues, so all in all we were in a good hand.

Like I said before, traveling with locals is the best way to get to know the city.

Our boutique hotel in the city on Nimman also was pretty cute. I randomly found it on booking and booked it myself. The building is like an old house, with a nice touch of vintage decor. Really love it.

Why I love Chiang Mai

I feel like the city is a perfect combination of city and nature. Chiang Mai has city life which is what I do need, but mountain/nature is only an hour away. There is NO traffic. In city center, it could get a bit crowded during peak hours, but this is nothing compared to Bangkok. We can reach anywhere within 20-30 minute drive, and that feels pretty amazing.

The weather was perfect when I was there. Our local friends said we were so lucky because this is very rare for April. Usually it can get uncomfortably hot. I was worried about the poisonous smog, but it was raining on and off the whole time we were in Chiang Mai, which made the weather much cooler. It got hot during the day, but cooled down to 24C or so at night.

So I didn’t know if I had experienced Chiang Mai with smog, would I had disliked the place more? We were too lucky, just like when I got to experience sunny Amsterdam in October.

Some thoughts

The pace feels much slower than Bangkok here, but not too slow like some rural places. Overall I feel like the quality of life here is way better. Bangkok is getting more and more crowded by days, with zero solution to solve traffic problem. It gets tiring over time when you have to commute every day.

Our 23 year old colleague who is quite proud of Chiang Mai, his hometown, said

“The more you get older, I think you need to be closer to nature. It helps makes you want fewer things in life and just focus on what really matters.”

It still made me think until this day.

And it naturally made me question, What is the meaning of “Enough is enough”? How much do you have, in terms of money and materialistic things, is considered enough? What exactly are we struggling for in big city life? What are we trying to achieve here and for what? Why can’t we be satisfied with what we have?

We asked him about house prices and some businesses in Chiang Mai. The prices shocked us as it’s way cheaper than Bangkok. Obviously, pay is much lower here as well.

Post-vacation blues (No surprise!)

Not too bad this time, although I felt a bit…deflated on Monday morning, which was to be expected first day back at work after holiday. It’s a pattern that I can easily predict now, that this feeling will hit me.

Remember that enthusiasm I had after Taiwan trip in January? I can say it’s pretty much gone now and am entering a bit of dark place at the moment, for a number of reasons. A lot of things on my mind since end of February, and they are still here.

So let’s see what quarter 2 of 2018 will bring. The first 3 months had been rather interesting, both good and bad. I hope this next quarter will be a new change, for once. Need to retrieve that motivation and positive energy back.

Love you Chiang Mai. Gave me more than I had expected, and even made me question life in general, something I didn’t expect from a domestic trip. Always good to get a reality check via traveling from time to time. The ability to step back and examine life is crucial, if you ask me.

Work, Travel, and a bit of reflection

Two weeks into 2018 already. Time flies when you’re busy I suppose! Today was the first day this year I felt like I have some time to relax and take care of myself. By that definition, it’s going to the gym and having lunch and a good cup of coffee in one of my go-to cafes by myself, which is pretty simple, boring stuff. Having some me time is absolutely necessary!

Woke up today at 9AM and felt like I could breathe a little easier, with no real agenda of what I need to do or where I need to be. It’s a GREAT feeling after a hectic start of 2018.

Work

First week at work after a week holiday in Taiwan was a little crazy. I predicted it was going to be quite busy, but still felt a bit overwhelmed when it happened; all those internal meetings, proposals prep, and kick-off meetings with clients as we got more new projects. Starting from this month, I lead a new project about Line content and sticker strategy for F&B client, which is new and exciting at the same time! More Facebook ads to do from client in beauty industry, which is a new industry for me to do ads and content. This project we’ll have full control of designing creatives as well as copywriting and ads optimization, but under client’s final approval, of course! And I still have ongoing ecommerce/marketplace project in fashion industry to take care of.

At the moment I feel like it’s such a great balance, I get to do all kinds of different stuff in online marketing and ecommerce. Will need to focus more on content strategy this year, as well as perhaps some technical Facebook ads-related stuff I plan to look into further for some side-projects. Let’s see how it goes.

Somehow I feel quite excited for these new projects, which is a good thing. To me, routines work get boring quickly. I think we all need something new to do to constantly challenge yourself. January also marked TWO full years at work. Being somewhere two years for work is probably a bit alarming for millennials who keep switching jobs every single year, or even every other month!

Travel

Taiwan feels so far away now, even though I was just back last week. Crazy to look back! I’ve said it before how I don’t think Taiwan is that…special. The country failed to charm me for some reason, even though I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE their bubble milk tea so much. I’m pretty sure I was whining in my head a lot when I was there, like why did I pick this country to come travel for a week? This is too long, and so on. But you know what, in the end I am glad I did. It was great getting to see an old friend from Japan again and his family gave me such a warm welcome, letting me stay in their house the whole time and taking care of me so well. For that, I feel really grateful. From time to time I feel incredibly lucky getting to meet really nice people from all around the world. It’s one of the experiences I will forever cherish.

Even though I was away for only a week, coming back the first day I felt a bit…disoriented. It was a bit like a shock to the system. Yesterday my life was in Taipei catching trains walking everywhere in rainy 16 degrees, today I was back in Bangkok, to same old stuff and routine, and it felt slightly weird. It’s so funny considered you’ve been gone for only one week, and it’s only just a short holiday. I would never expect such disorientation to happen after only just one week. However, it wasn’t the first time it happened to me. When you go somewhere further, this disoriented feelings get even stronger. It was almost unbearable when I was back from Netherlands.

Just like my past two trips, I felt somewhat more connected to the country I visited, than when I travel somewhere with Thai friends leaving Bangkok together. When I went to Spain and Portugal in 2016, it was Europe just like in Netherlands and Belgium, totally different atmosphere from Thailand, but I went with my family, so I didn’t feel like I was involved in those countries as much. I actually wish to go back and explore Spain by myself again some day. Going with my family means I didn’t get to do what I wanted to do, to be honest.

Somehow, flying alone and exploring the place alone with support from your friends in the country you visit really is the best thing. You feel like you are out of your comfort zone, even just for a really short period of time. You are fully exposed to entirely new things in that country. You hang out in places locals go, eat at local restaurants you wouldn’t have discovered otherwise as a tourist.

When you go travel with your friends, I feel like you have someone to lean on during the trip, you still speak the same language with your friends, you plan trip like how tourists do, and of course it is very fun and all that you get to spend a quality of time with your friends while exploring new cities together, but it’s not going to push you out of your comfort zone like when you travel alone (Sorry for a major run-on sentence, my Faculty of arts professor would have killed me alive, haha). In this Taiwan trip, I had to solve problems quickly by myself when I realized I forgot my backpack on the train from city to the airport, 1.5 hours before I boarded on a plane back home. I thought I was SCREWED and wouldn’t get it back but I did, thanks to airline, airport, and MRT train people in Taiwan! Felt incredibly lucky in the end.

Perhaps I missed that feeling of living abroad just like my Japan year; the feeling that you are a nobody, you feel so little in a new place when everything around you feels brand new.

Then again, I don’t know if being completely alone the whole trip as a real tourist in a new country would give me a sense of connection. Somehow it’s not so much about all the landmarks and checkpoints anymore these days when I travel. But it really is about little experiences and especially people along the way that make it really worthwhile.

Phew, it felt good to properly sit down and write something! I was seriously considering writing about 2017 my year in review, and I did write it, but decided to leave it unpublished in the end. So many people on Facebook wrote their year in review this year, a lot more than any other years. I wonder why!

Quick, random thoughts on personalization

Currently I’m reading a chapter “Hacking retention” in a book Hacking Growth by Sean Ellis, founder of growthhackers.com, and there was one part that mentioned the transformation from one size fits all marketing to fully customized, one-to-one experiences; everything from email communication to product recommendations.

Somehow this made me pause and reflect a bit.

Of course, I DO love personalization. It makes a much better user experience. I feel like the companies understand me and my needs. It’s so special and unique and so on.

At the moment I am quite obsessed with home decoration. And guess what I am obsessed the most? How to decorate my room into meaningful personalization; items that are able to tell back stories, photographs of places I’ve traveled to, art prints that show my love of colors, some well-designed decor pieces that make me happy etc.

Totally unaware, I am seeking a lot of meanings behind many objects. Somehow reading this chapter got me think if all the marketing tactics are fueling behind this thought.

Is it too crazy or am I just too millennial? (Ah yes, this word again). If you think about it, it is just…stuff. Obviously you want to pick some nice things for your home, but the need to express one’s self through things you own is perhaps stronger than ever. We are the generation that probably seeks the meaning behind every single thing; personal life, career, romantic relationship, travel experiences, and many more.

But is it really making you happier or more stressed?

There is nothing wrong with it though. I am a firm believer that if you enjoy doing what you are doing and it doesn’t cause trouble for others, feel free to do whatever you want. But today, for a moment, I just wonder if sometimes we are creating a big fuss out of nothing and making it so complex and a bigger deal than it really is.

I suppose trying to find that balance is the key.

*Off to browse on Instagram and Pinterest for some more home decor inspiration*

A fun, productive meeting! (What? Does THAT exist?)

Last post might be a little too bleak. I’m still a little sad, but I took actions as soon as I could, and reached out to people that I wanted to do new things. 

Time to change. No matter how small. 

Timing has never been this perfect. I’ve got an original plan in mind, but it turned into something different. It turned out my friend who is running Careervisa, an education startup got a new project, starting soon. She looked like she could almost cry when I told her I wanted to help. That face alone is worth it. I’ve helped her quite a few times, but this is the first time I took initiatives, wanted to present my own ideas, and it does feel a huge difference. 

I was told in Amsterdam that, helping people is a form of heroin. It IS addictive. Being able to help people with skills you have makes you feel really, really good. 

And I haven’t done that sooner because I’ve focused too much on what I lack, not what I have, to offer. It is OKAY to just…try. This is the answer from my internalization. 

And here I am, going to a meeting at 7PM on Friday night, feeling giddy and excited as ever. Is that a bad thing? Screw it. Because I genuinely felt…excitement. That IS something. The past 3 months I felt nothing but meh and blah. Despite post-holiday blues, somehow I am back from the trip with positive energy and inspiration to change and do something. And that alone is more priceless than anything. 

And it was one of the most fun and rewarding things I have done in a while. Met a small group of people full of energy. Lots of ideas generated. No one judges anyone else. We all speak freely. We laugh along the way! Everyone is packed with great ideas. It was such a perfect environment. 

Another thing that motivates me is because I can identify so strongly with our target audience; fresh grads who don’t have a single clue of what to do in life. I WAS one of them! So I wanted to help these students, because I myself didn’t know who to turn to and ask for career advice after graduation. 

The way we organized meeting definitely helped a lot.  We divide everything into small sessions. We time everything to be under 2-3 minutes per brainstorming sessions. We use millions of post-its. We then used ideas to create simple storyboard and explain to the group about our idea, to wrap up the end result. 

In other words, this is like a mini Sprint method that they solve one big problem and create new prototype in just 5 days, from Sprint book I’ve read. (Really good book, full of practical advice. Recommend!). 


At the end of 2 hours (Our goal: to get the first result within 2 hours), everyone gave feedback and talked about how fun it felt and it made them want to have this type of meeting again. 

I feel…satisfied. It’s only the first step and we’ve got more work to do. But once again, this made me discover, moments like this make me feel alive.