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?

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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*

Mini home stay in Netherlands & Major post-holiday blues


Hi Bangkok, I’m back, from a 10 day trip in Netherlands and Belgium, with a lost soul. Or major post holiday blues. I am not sure.

To me, this trip wasn’t only just “traveling” Otherwise I wouldn’t have felt this down. I was staying with a local, saw glimpses of their lives, and had great connection and conversation. It was almost like a “Mini home stay” in Amsterdam as I used Amsterdam as a base, and traveled to other cities like Utrecht, Rotterdam, and…Texel island! Texel was very spontaneous, who would have thought you could go to an island in October? But when it hit 20 degrees in October, you just knew it’s a perfect opportunity to do so.


Actually the whole Netherlands-Belgium trip has been rather spontaneous. I’ve made some plans of places I wanted to check out, but ended up not following many of them and invented some new plans as I went along. For Belgium, I hardly planned anything at all. But everything worked out perfectly. I had a really good time in the end.

I’ve been told from everyone how lucky I was the whole time I was in Amsterdam as the weather was too good to be true! We got some Indian summer situation with sunshine and everything. I couldn’t have asked for a better weather. It only rained a couple days before I came back. They said it was the only week they had nice weather in October as Dutch weather can get really unpredictable with lots of rains and wind.


The whole time I was there, I got taken care of very well, while having some time exploring on my own. It was like I had a friend to support me and point me to places and things I wouldn’t have discovered otherwise as a tourist. To me, this has proven to be the best way to “travel” Having known locals there is THE BEST way to experience a city. You no longer feel like a stranger getting from landmark A to landmark B with zero emotional attachment or back stories. I didn’t move around from hotels to hotels, instead I was pointed out some minor but interesting details about people’s lives and places, which in turn made me feel quite “connected” to the city. It left me feeling at home and at peace, like I could probably live in Amsterdam. Crazy, isn’t it?

Maybe that explained why post holiday blues (Or is it really?) hit me this hard this time.

Here are some bits and pieces, real feelings that I didn’t ‘gram. There are always stories to tell behind happy photos.


Stressed out 

When I was left alone the first day, I felt extremely stressed about directions! I could literally feel tight knots in my head, extreme frustration toward myself, that for the life of me I couldn’t figure out where to turn. I was left standing in the same place, because I kept going in the wrong direction, again and again.

I was particularly stressed since I booked a slot at Anne Frank House at 3PM on Monday 16 Oct. It was the only fixed plan I had for this trip, so I had to somehow get myself there in Jordaan, which I eventually did manage, after calming myself with a cup of Latte at Coffee and Coconuts in De Pijp. At the end of the day, I told myself to calm down and CHILL. I’m here on vacation after all, there is absolutely NO need to feel stressed. It’s ridiculous. 

After that, I was fine! I started getting the hang of Google Maps and found the trick that I had to turn the map exactly how I stand there in real life, so I wouldn’t get lost (I’m not joking, that’s how desperate I am). Also, I owed A LOT to Citymapper app. It IS the best app ever for all public transportation connection. I could navigate through trains and trams with no problem at all!

I’m glad that now I have gained a little more confidence traveling on my own. This fear of directions had always pulled me back. It was quite an exhausting experience, though. A lot of stimulation; sight, sound, and…everything. This trip I walked on average 15 km/day (Over 20,000 steps/day), which was pretty insane. I’m still not sure if I would enjoy a long trip for over a week, completely alone, having to figure out every single step of the journey without any help though.

Major post holiday blues/Wake up call?

Before boarding the plane, I felt like there was nothing to look forward to going back at home, which was a bit alarming. As soon as I landed, I felt extremely sad and frustrated and even hated my hometown. I had this feeling years ago after I was back from a year of living in Japan. Then I somehow coped with it and managed to get rid of hating-my-hometown feeling. But it is back.

I felt jealous of quality of life people have over there in Netherlands. I could walk and tram anywhere in Amsterdam. People bike, although I gotta admit it looks a bit insane to figure out bike traffic there! At least there was no traffic. And people seem to have a better work-life balance overall.

People speak impressive English in Amsterdam. I was told that the city is voted one of the best places to live as an expat. Dutch in service industry are surprisingly friendly and rather helpful, which was unexpected. The city is quite small, filled with canals and narrow streets. If I have to explain Amsterdam in one word, it has to be…cozy. It is pretty, but I don’t think it’s the most stunning place on earth. However, I could somehow picture myself living there. I’ve been to several cities, but never felt this way with any I’ve visited before. Strange, isn’t it?

This sad feeling also made me question, how can I be this unhappy with my life here? Before this trip, I did feel my life was quite meh and flat, only routines after routines. And now I’m back and it is getting worse. Is it a wake up call to change something? Or maybe it is just a major post holiday blues that will go away in no time? It probably is more common than I had imagined.

One of the best things from this trip is, I’ve got some positive energy, practical advice, and great insights from conversations in Amsterdam. Making a mental note to myself to take actions on those things now that I’m home. Gotta keep the energy going.

It’s funny how you’ve gained so much from only 10 days, by being exposed to and embracing all the differences. Moments like this are when I feel most alive. 


On positivity 

I had the urge to write a quick update after I went back and reread this Solitary blog post at the very beginning of 2017. Gosh, that IS way too bleak! I feel embarrassed now that I did write all that. But it’s almost an unwritten rule that you will always feel embarrassed by what you wrote in the past. 

2017, so far my outlook has changed for the better! 

Of course, there are ups and downs in life, as expected. In fact, the first 2 months of 2017 was a bit of emotional whirlwind. Fortunately, it was resolved quite quickly and I did not dwell on it at all. Then again got thrown into another type of emotional whirlwind in March. But once again I managed to get through it. 

What has changed is: at the moment I tend (and from time to time, try) to take things as they are with no expectation (Or as less as I can possibly manage. Still struggling from time to time, but hey, I’m only human, aren’t I?). Welcoming a neutral, realistic, and perhaps a bit more relaxing approach in life. 

I no longer feel like I lost faith in love anymore. SO happy for that! Safe to say that time heals and I have finally fully recovered, which is a great feeling. At the same time, it doesn’t mean I look at love with bright and hopeful eyes like 10 years ago either. Love comes in different shapes and forms, and people are flawed and so different from one another. You really have to stay open-minded and get to know a person as who/what they are. There is no one-size-fit-all definition of love and relationship. I am definitely more positive than last year, but also have my feet firm on the (realistic) ground as ever. 

Also don’t think too much about HOW the future will be if I end up being alone. It is always a good idea to plan things in advance, especially financially. But there is no point to fret over it as I’ve chosen to be extremely picky of who I let in my life. If being alone makes me happier than letting the wrong person in, then it is what it is! This is my decision. 

Somehow I’ve become even surer of what I want and look for in a relationship, and I won’t settle for anything less. Failed enough to finally know what I want, perhaps! You learn from your past experiences. In the meantime, it is great to be exposed to new people and just see how it goes. You could learn and pick up something from them, and to me it’s interesting that way. 

Learning to enjoy the journey and trust the process more. As always, the future is uncertain! 🙂 

The Murakami Effect

“Wow,” I thought to myself, after reading the last word of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his years of pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami, and stared fixedly at the page. It took me only 2 days to finish (with work in between), simply because I was unable to stop reading. 

The clock on the wall shows it’s almost midnight. 

It’s beyond me to describe this deep…sorrow and unnamed unsettling feelings rising up in my chest. As a result, I was pacing around the room, earphones plugged in my ears playing one song on repeat. In my head, trains of thoughts of nothing in particular kept swirling one after another. I couldn’t quite catch any of them. 

What a weird sensation. 

I vaguely remembered reading Norwegian Wood and how bleak and suffocating the novel made me feel, many years ago. It was too much sorrow, the kind I did not understand at all, back in college years. 

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki, once again, is full of melancholy and sorrow. As well as nostalgia, loneliness, self-discovery journey, forgiveness, and so much more. 

But this time, this kind of sorrow, I…get it. The feelings go straight to the heart. While I was reading it, many waves of emotions kept hitting me relentlessly. Even made me stunned in the end. 

One thing for certain, I’ve never felt this deeply touched by any novel before. 

“This must be Murakami Effect,” I closed my eyes, trying to yank myself back to reality, silent all chaotic thoughts, and sleep. No more feels, please. 

The plot is fairly simple. One day in college, a guy named Tsukuru Tazaki was “expelled” from his closest group of 4 high school friends. They decided to cut him off and did not want to speak to him ever again, with no explanation. For about 7 months, Tsukuru contemplated about nothing but commit suicide. It affected his life so much that he felt scared to be emotionally close with anyone else ever since. 

Sixteen years later, now 36, he is determined to find the truth from all his friends, in the hope to be free from his haunting past and pain. And the journey of discovery begins. 

Murakami uses colors as a symbol of alienation in this book and I personally love that. All Tsukuru’s friends and characters in this story have different “colors” attached as a part of their names, except Tsukuru whose name is “colorless” Therefore, he constantly thinks his life is as empty and colorless as the name implies. 

Perhaps I know the reason why this novel touched me this much. 

It somewhat resonates what I’m going through, my current state of mind. The book stirred those deep feelings I wasn’t even aware I have left, as well as memories from the past I tried my best to bury underneath, to resurface. It comes out as a mild shock, having to feel it all again because of just one book.  

To put it simply, the story is about a person’s self-discovery journey. It’s about growing up, struggling with pain, trying to overcome the past, and finally accepting, making peace with it. 

You can miss something in the past terribly, like how Tsukuru and his friends admitted that the times that 5 of them spent together was once in a lifetime and nothing could resemble that kind of precious friendship ever since. At the same time, though, you realize how everything has changed so much since then. Even though something terrible that caused you so much pain did happen, once your head begins to wrap around the situation from the present viewpoint, you gradually accept that it’s better things turned out this way, the way it did. 

You lost something once special and meaningful to you, but that is life. Nothing lasts forever. Not even the pain. 

In this novel, it takes 16 years for everybody involved to resolve that pain, 16 years for someone to have the courage to apologize and forgive. 

Tsukuru may think he’s the only one suffering from the situation as he was rejected from the group. But the story tells us that everyone suffers in their own different ways as a consequence, even though all of them leads separate lives. 

“You can hide memories but can’t erase the history that produced them.” 

Perhaps I was wrong. We didn’t become desensitized by life as we grow older. We probably are better at hiding it and pretending that things are okay. We are able to feel things deeply still, but in a different way from our youth. The pain lingers longer, leaves us with wounds and scars from the past. 

The sadness is not overpowering us and we no longer weep because of it. 

Instead, it’s etched on our skin and transformed into permanent scars, deeper than before, and eventually becomes a part of who we are.