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!

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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. 


Cambodia: สามวัน ณ เสียมเรียบ

เป็นทริปสั้นๆที่เกินคาดมากมาย! ทริปที่จองกันไว้ตั้งแต่ครึ่งปีก่อนเพราะมีโปรแอร์เอเชีย จองไว้นานจนลืม! เพื่อนมาชวนแบบงงๆ เราก็ตกลงแบบงงๆ “เออ ไปก็ไปวะ” ทั้งที่ใจจริงคือปักใจเชื่อว่าฉันต้องไม่ชอบเสียมเรียบแน่ๆ! ดูยังไงก็ไม่น่าใช่แนวฉันแน่ๆ! ไปดูซากปรักหักพัง (AKA.นครวัด) 3 วันฉันต้องเบื่อแน่ๆ! แต่ไหนๆก็ไหนๆ…ไม่รู้อะไรดลใจให้ตอบตกลงไป ถือว่าลองอะไรแปลกๆ “ที่ไม่ใช่เรา” ดูบ้างละกัน


ทริปนี้ตามเพื่อนอย่างเดียวค่ะ เพราะมีเพื่อนคนนึงเคยไปมาแล้ว เราก็ไปแบบงงๆ (คอนเซปต์ทริปนี้คืองงทุกอย่าง) ไม่ได้ทำอะไรเองเลยสักอย่าง เงินยังฝากเพื่อนแลก (กราบขอบพระคุณคุณเพื่อนผู้น่ารักมา ณ ที่นี้)


มาคิดๆดูสิ่งที่เกินคาดของทริปนี้ก็ตามนี้เลย


1)เปลี่ยนความคิดตัวเองได้

คิดว่าเราไม่น่าจะเอนจอยการเที่ยวประเทศเพื่อนบ้าน เคยไปฮานอยแล้วไม่ปลื้มเลย วุ่นวาย ไม่ชอบอาหารอีก แล้วทริปนี้เป็นเขมรก็ไม่รู้จะออกหัวออกก้อย กลัวว่าเราจะไม่ชอบอีก


แต่…ผิดคาดทุกอย่าง! ชอบค่ะบอกเลย! แก…เสียมเรียบมันชิวนะ! เมืองมันก็มีแค่นั้นแหละ ไม่ได้วุ่นวายอะไร เดินไปไหนมาไหนก็ง่าย ไปนครวัดก็นั่งตุ๊กตุ๊กทั้งวัน แดดแรงจริงแต่ก็มีลมพัดเย็นๆ เฮ้ย…คือดีอะ! ชอบความชิวๆสบายๆไม่เร่งรีบนี้! ถนนอะไรคนก็ขับมั่วๆนะ เส้นแบ่งเลนก็ไม่มี แต่ชีวิตก็ดำเนินไปได้ตามแบบของมัน ดูสบายๆไม่รีบร้อนดี มีเสน่ห์ในตัวมันอีกแบบดีนะ


ขนาดกางเกงช้างที่เราไม่คิดจะใส่ยังยอมใส่เลย พอใส่แล้วก็ชอบ เปลี่ยนความคิดค่า



2)ตื่นเช้าตอนตี4ไปดูพระอาทิตย์ขึ้นได้

อาจฟังดูงี่เง่านะ การตื่นตี4ดูเล็กน้อยใช่ไหม แต่เราเกลียดการตื่นเช้ามากกกกกกกก เคยตื่นตี4ครั้งเดียวมั้งตอนบินไปโคเปนเฮเกน แล้วเกลียดความรู้สึกซอมบี้นั้นมาก ไม่โอเคสุดๆ เหมือนผี ถ้าต้องทำก็ทำได้แหละ แต่ถ้าเลือกได้ก็ไม่อยาก


แต่ครั้งนี้…เฮ้ย เราโอเคอะ ตื่นได้ สดชื่นด้วย แถมอากาศตอนตี5-6โมง ดีนะ สดชื่น ไม่ร้อน มีลมพัด ถึงจะไม่ได้เห็นพระอาทิตย์ขึ้นเพราะเมฆบัง(ความซวย)แต่ก็ดีใจที่ได้ตื่นเช้ามืด ได้มาเห็นแสงแดดอ่อนๆตอนเช้า ฟ้าค่อยๆสว่าง เราแทบไม่เคยตื่นมาดูพระอาทิตย์ขึ้นเลย พอได้มาดูแล้วฉากหลังเป็นนครวัด รู้สึกเป็น privilege ในชีวิตอย่างบอกไม่ถูก รู้สึกสงบแบบเรียบง่าย ดีนะ


จริงๆทริปนี้ตื่น6โมงเช้าตลอด รู้สึกรักอากาศตอนเช้ามาก แดดอุ่นๆ อากาศ 22 องศาเย็นๆ เดินเล่นดูซากปรักหักพังแบบหลีกหนีผู้คน ชิวมากแบบสงบใจดี



3)ร่างกายแข็งแรงขึ้นมาก

เราเป็นคนที่เฉื่อยแฉะ ไม่ขยับตัวมาตลอดชีวิต ชอบเดินบนพื้นราบ แต่นอกจากนั้นไม่เอาเลย ขึ้นบันไดนิดหน่อยก็หอบ เกลียดการขยับตัวเป็นชีวิตจิตใจมาทั้งชีวิตจริงๆ


ทริปนี้ได้เทสตัวเองหลังจากออกกำลังกาย weight training มา 1 ปีเต็ม เราปีนขึ้นวัดสูงๆชันๆในนครวัดได้โดยไม่รู้สึกอะไรเลย! ย้ำ…ไม่เหนื่อย ไม่หอบอะไรทั้งสิ้น คือรู้สึกเฉยๆเหมือนเดินบนที่ราบธรรมดา เราเข้าใจนะว่ามันคงเป็นเรื่องเล็กน้อยสำหรับคนอื่นๆ นี่ไม่ใช่การปีนเขาอะไร แค่ปีนขึ้นบันไดชันๆ แต่เราภูมิใจกับตัวเองอะที่เราเปลี่ยนตัวเองมาได้ขนาดนี้ กำลังขาแข็งแรงมาก บอกเลยว่าปีนไปก็นึกขอบคุณเทรนเนอร์ ขอบคุณ leg day และ squat กับ barbell


ปีนี้เราจะ 30 แต่เราคิดว่าร่างกายเราฟิตกว่าตอนอายุ 18 อีก พอร่างกายมีพลัง ไม่เฉื่อย มันเป็นความรู้สึกที่ดีมากๆ ดีโคดๆแบบไม่รู้จะพูดยังไง แบบที่เราไม่เคยรู้สึกมาทั้งชีวิตน่ะ! รู้สึกตกใจกับการเปลี่ยนแปลงของร่างกายตัวเอง และดีใจจริงๆนะ

(นี่คือท่าเตรียมทำ leg lunge เหรอ? ขาตั้งฉากซะ 5555)

(อ้อ แต่สุดท้ายก็ยอมแพ้กับเปลวแดดนะ งอแงเพราะหิวกับร้อน ผิวไหม้จริง55)



4)มีบาลานซ์ระหว่าง exploring & chilling

คงเป็นการเที่ยวที่ถูกจริตกับตัวเองมั้ง ตื่นแต่เช้าจริง แล้วก็เที่ยวลุยในนครวัด 3วันไปมาหลายวัดมาก นับไม่หวาดไม่ไหว แต่ไม่รีบเลย เพราะเพื่อนเราเป็นสายถ่ายรูป จะค่อยๆหามุม ค่อยๆดู ค่อยๆถ่าย ซึ่งไม่มีใครเร่งอะไรใครทั้งสิ้น เดินไป ถ่ายไป นั่งบ้าง คุยเรื่องปัญหาชีวิตก็มี วิจารณ์เรื่องสังคมไทย เม้าเรื่องเขมรกับสิ่งที่เจอ คุยเรื่องหนัง คุยเรื่องจิปาถะหลายอย่าง อยากทำอะไรก็ทำ ทุกคนทำตามสบาย


พอบ่ายๆเย็นๆก็มานั่งคาเฟ่ ใครอยากอ่านหนังสือก็นั่งอ่าน อยากนอนก็งีบไป อยากกินก็กิน เราก็แยกไปนวดเท้ากับสปาเพราะเราชอบแต่เพื่อนไม่ อยากเดินดูอะไรก็ดู อาหารอร่อยด้วยแหละเลยฟิน เรารักเบอร์เกอร์ พิซซ่าเตาถ่าน และเฟรนช์ฟรายใน pub street มาก จะอร่อยอะไรได้ขนาดนั้น พิซซ่าแป้งบางกรอบนี่ยอมเลยนะ



5)คนร่วมทริปดี

สุดท้ายอาจจะแค่นี้ก็ได้นะ เพราะเป็นคนที่อยู่ด้วยแล้วสบายใจ พอสบายใจอะไรๆก็ดี เราชอบเที่ยวกันน้อยๆคนอยู่แล้ว ยิ่งเป็นคนที่รู้สไตล์กันอยู่แล้วยิ่งง่าย ไม่เยอะ ไม่ปวดหัว ไปเที่ยวควรจะสบายใจ ไม่ใช่มาเครียดเรื่องคนร่วมทริปอีก


สรุปว่าติดใจค่ะ อยากหาโอกาสไปเที่ยวประเทศเพื่อนบ้านให้มากขึ้นกว่านี้ ไม่รู้มีที่ไหนน่าไปบ้าง คิดแวบๆเหมือนกันว่าหลังจากนี้ควรลองหาที่น่าชิวที่ปลอดภัยหน่อยแล้วลองไปไหนคนเดียวดูสั้นๆเป็นการชิมลางดีไหม เป็นทริปสโลว์ไลฟ์เบาๆก่อนก็ได้ challenge เที่ยวคนเดียวนี่ไม่กล้าซะทีสิน่า น่ารำคาญความขี้ขลาดของตัวเองจริงๆ! ขอแปะไว้ก่อนนะคะ


ขอสารภาพว่ากลับมายืนเบียดๆในBTSวันแรกยังแอบคิดถึงการนั่งตุ๊กตุ๊กมีลมเย็นๆพัดผ่านหน้าตอน 7 โมงเช้าอยู่เลยแหละ

NataBali

I’m back from Bali with major post-vacation blues. It felt really bad having to come back home to mundanity again this time. Read this article about how to overcome post-vacation blues and it seems to be more common than I thought, and I do feel like wanting to do some major change with my life of some sort. It is most likely a fleeting feeling, though. I pay attention to some signs, but would not take it seriously until rationality and normality finally kick in. Never been the kind that acts on sudden feelings or the edge of impulse anyway 🙂 

Trying my best to forget about holiday blues and channeling some positive energy by writing and documenting great memories from my trip instead. Why dwell on the negative feeling, right? 

The title of this blog post was inspired by, a WIFI password of spa we went! I seriously have no clue what “Nata” means and would really love to know the meaning. It feels appropriate for this post though, “Natta’s Bali” not anyone else’s.

*Warning* I don’t plan to write a travel guide or review as there are many great ones out there. The purpose of this blog post is to share my thoughts and experiences along the trip. All personal. No photos, either. Only boring text 🙂

Overall

To be honest I didn’t expect much for this trip, but it turned out I am totally, absolutely, completely in love with Bali. The island really has everything – volcano, lake, waterfall, hot spring, temple, forest, rice field, beach, and more! It’s got both nature and city in one island which is pretty amazing. 

We were pretty lucky as the weather was quite cool and dry the whole time we were there. The beach area could be hot during the day but it had wind. Quite a nice change from humidity and rain in Bangkok. 

Cafes/Bars/Restaurants

This is what I’m really impressed with Bali – the design and decoration! The bars, cafes, and restaurants are so nicely done and decorated with some nice touch and lighting. I personally dislike the word “Exotic” perhaps it’s because I get bored of how Westerners like to refer to Southeast Asia or “Far East” in general. But Bali feels exotic to me! It has some modern vibes mixed with local decor in a perfect combo. I appreciate nice atmosphere and design, so this was a huge pleasant surprise to me. Not only cafes and restaurants, clothing designs here look very fashionable, especially in Seminyak area. 

I also think Bali really got the beach bars right, especially for the music and, once again, atmosphere. Perfect beach vibes. I am totally in love with the beach bar called La Plancha in Seminyak beach; with brightly colored bean bags and umbrella and great house and deep house mix. Combined that with the waves and some drinks, what more could you want in life, seriously!? 

Food

Balinese food is yum! The rice has a rich taste of some spices and herbs. I love the most boring dish in the world AKA. fried rice called Nasi Goreng. Also the famous “Bebek” crispy duck was really delicious too. 

Admittedly, we were eating at touristy spots in Seminyak and Ubud, so it wasn’t entirely local experience. I was reading blogs and reviews of some famous restaurants in Bali and it looks like it has some really great Western cuisine. 

I did try local Balinese cocktail with a mix of “Arak” in it. Still unsure the kind of alcohol Arak is. But we all agreed that it tasted a bit too weird. What a waste of happy hour that night! 

Balinese massage

Balinese massage is not as hard as Thai massage. They apply some oil with a lot of rolling, pressing gently, kneading, and sliding kind of technique, which can be a nice and relaxing experience. 

One thing I dislike though, somehow they tend to massage your head with some oil which makes it too greasy. Also they did not wash their hands before they massage. It could be because we went to normal, local places, not a high-end spa. But in general I do notice Balinese are not as hygienic. 

Services 

Here comes the bad part – the service here can be extremely slow, no matter where you go or how much you pay. You need to be tolerant for it. Also Balinese staff are great at saying yes and pretending they understand you perfectly with big smiles on their faces, but they never fix your problems! Nothing is done, which can be frustrating. I once told a guy in th cafe that the WIFI password was not working. He said he would check, but disappeared and never returned. 

I tweeted about this and people said Thailand is also the same. But in my case Thailand was not that bad, perhaps because I am local and there is not much miscommunication. So I was never really bothered by it. But in Bali I was. I generally get pissed off when I pay for the service, in this case 300THB a dish at restaurants is considered expensive by local standard, but they give us a bad service! I would not complain at all if I eat cheap food on the street. But in a nice restaurant and cafe? I feel like they can do much better. Training their staff and improving service standard are what Balinese could work on. They’ve got all pretty shops and designs, now gotta work on their people! 

Traffic

Yes, Indonesia is infamous for this. The traffic is congested, but what bothered me was drivers honking each other anytime, anywhere! It’s almost like they use their horn to say hi to each other! They would honk you on the street while you walk just to say the car is approaching (My assumption). The streets are quite nosy and at times can be unpleasant. 

Summary

In general, it’s a perfect place for holiday for me. What I complained is probably common experience for people traveling in Southeast Asia – when things are cheaper but also unpredictable. Also the taxis being tricky and trying to push or persuade you to do things with them are not that pleasant. But I have never really traveled in this region, even though this is where I am from. So, this kind of unreliable and frustrating experience during travel feel a bit new to me. 

Whew, long post. Will try my best to overcome this holiday blues and hopefully it goes away soon!