TILL TIME GOES FORWARD

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I’m back in Asia for a quickie after one of the best vacations of my life in Morocco and Amsterdam. Singapore is my home and even though it’s only been a few days, it’s already been a whirlwind of emotions. I’ve come to question a lot about my achievements in the past year and wondering if I’ve lost myself in the process of ‘keeping the dream alive’. It is no doubt the dream has always been London. I’ve come to a point where I’m risking everything to see how I can make it work. There is a lot of stake and I find myself realising how tired I am- tired of living, tired of uncertainty and trying to embrace it. I’m normally one to share experiences, how I’ve come out of it or sharing the process. Today, I’m just lost. 

I’m happy to be reunited with familiar faces and catch up but I also want nothing more but to lock myself indoors and hide from the world. It’s confusing. I don’t know how ready I am for my next steps but I am so determined that I am just diving right into it, no questions asked. Morocco’s landscapes were some of the most inspiring I had ever seen and I am determined to get creative again, maybe the work I will get myself into will change my perspectives and allow me to embrace this circumstance I am in and I’ll be able to make something worthwhile out of it. I need encouragement, motivation and very simply (and so badly) some kind of stability. I’d love to hear if you’ve ever felt this way and how you came out of it. For now, I’m going with the flow and taking baby steps, getting through each day.

Photos taken by my dad, it was fun going on road trips and food adventures again with him while making him to take my photos. It's what I do best. 

BLUE TOWN

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I made it to Chefchaouen last week and it was nothing but a dream come true. My entire time in Morocco has been a dream and I still feel the need to occasionally slap myself. Chefchaouen in particular was a surreal moment, I had come across the small town a couple of years ago in an article online and was so curious about it. An entire town painted blue. And to think that it is real. We drove what felt like forever from Fes with our guide, Ismail, and got to mingle with some locals, see them out and about their daily routines, mixing with tourists alike who were so mesmerized by the blue town. It was the perfect balance, away from the hustle and bustle we experienced in Marrakech. Although tourism has definitely made it's way there, it felt authentic. We heard the loud calls to prayers and rings made by locals which added to that experience and saw locals shopping for fresh produce at their daily market.

Chefchaouen is a magical little village perched just below the northeastern Rif mountains of Morocco. The powder blue accents and narrow lanes were beautiful and it just felt like such a mystery to me. In 1920, the Spanish seized the town in 1920 and in 1930, Jewish refugees painted the everything from white to blue. The blue is also said to make the town cooler and every spring, villagers apply a new coat of blue paint we we have learnt from Ismail.

Morocco was very daunting and overwhelming in the beginning. In Fes and Marrakech, we would get so lost in the Medina and the thousands of stalls in the souks. Chefchaouen was a lot more peaceful, cleaner and we felt a lot more secure. It is undoubtedly said to be one of the safest and cleanest parts of Morocco. I was lost for words and could not be more thankful to be able to finally see this place for myself. I wish I could have seen more, so another trip is definitely back in order, we were only there for a day trip but I would have loved to be able to stay some of the quaint little hotels and guest houses. This place is a must-see in everyone's lifetime and I am so glad to be able to share my experience here.

*Ps, we dined at Restaurante Tissemlal in Hotel Casa Hassan and it was one of the best meals I had during my time in Morocco. The beef tagine was to die for and so were the kebabs or brochettes as they call it in French.

MAKING MERRY IN MARRAKECH

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I'm currently writing from Marrakech and stoked to finally be here after dreaming about this place for so long. I'm keeping it short today as I am excited to share as much as possible about this adventure. I got here early this morning with my partner in crime, Bryant, who spontaneously decided to tag along. I am so so grateful to this guy or I wouldn't have survived my first day here by myself. The souks in Marrakech have been so breathtaking, I find myself noticing the most meticulous details in the most random knick-knacks here. They have everything from spices, carpets, silverware, pottery, the most amazing handmade slippers, jewellery....the list goes on. I am obsessed and beyond words at the beauty of it all despite the imperfections and rough edges you see walking past these pink little lanes. I just want to share the photos I shot today because I think I am going to end up with a major overload of photos... every corner is picturesque in it's own way I cannot stop snapping away.  Most of these were shot in the souks, which is what the city is mostly associated with. There are a dizzying number of stalls and an intricately connected maze that are full of surprises. The locals have been an interesting bunch. Those that were friendly were total sweethearts while some were completely turned off the moment they saw us carrying our big cameras. A large part of the Media felt like a tourist trap with locals insisting on giving directions for some dirham or dragging you into their stalls to take photos and make you pay for it/buy items. It was all part of the experience to say the least, I've come to embrace these little intricacies and look at things from a different perspective. There is so much beauty in all of this and some of the locals we've met have been the most hospitable human beings I have ever met. It's been a refreshing change from the cold in London. I love having the sun in my face and being smacked with humidity after so long. Can't wait to continue sharing this adventure with you guys. It's been radical and I cannot believe this is only the beginning. 

OH PARIS..!

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Paris was inspring. I have been one to avoid this city and save it for a special prince charming or when I've made enough money to actually go crazy when I shop so it was a first for me. My good friend and photographer, Kelvin, from Lightedpixels, invited me to join him for the weekend. He was there shooting pre-weddings as usual and has been coming to Paris for the past 8 years shooting what I thought of as some of the most important images of his subjects' lives. It was an eye opener- I helped out during the time I was there and everyday, we would be at the lobby of our hotel by 6 waiting for the bride to be. It was intense but so worth it because I got to see the best sights of Paris before the crowds came. Such a beautiful city. I was attracted to the architecture a lot, hence the obsession with balconies. How tiny yet so full of life they make you feel. 

I felt really privileged to have been able to follow Kelvin around and see him at work. I had read his blog when he would write about the adventures he would go on during his extensive travels, his encounters and his experiences with the couples he shot with. His images always blew me away. And that was almost 7 years ago. A couple of months ago, he contacted me to say that he wanted to shoot me and I was thrilled to finally meet the man behind the camera over breakfast one early morning in Singapore. Kelvin is one of the most genuine, down-to-earth people I've been lucky to meet. Our time in Paris made me realise how emotionally draining being a wedding photographer can be, especially when you have 5 full-day shoots a week. Kelvin always goes the extra mile for each of the couples he shoots with, engages with them and captures so much emotion in his images. You know that with Kelvin, he becomes your friend and not one you'll look back and remember, 'hey! thats the guy who shot my wedding" but one you'll constantly keep up with because this guy simply never stops and it's inspiring to say the least. 

During the short time we were in Paris, we managed to shoot in a couple of images in some of his favourite spots. I knew nothing about Paris and he was the best tour guide. We cycled through the city, ate the best falafel I had ever had in my life in Le Marais, ran through the streets of Saint Germain and ended our nights making new friends with the couples he shoots with, conversing with what felt a little like home for me. Thank you for making Paris such an adventure for me, Kelvin! Hope you guys enjoy this photo diary. 

ICELAND PHOTO DIARY

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This is not going to be a short post, neither will it be an easy one. I remember walking through Reykjavik the first night we arrived after a fantastic dinner and I was so cold and sick (from tonsillitis). I was looking up to the sky wondering if we could catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights from where we were standing before the realisation finally hit me that I was finally in one of my dream destinations. The next day we got into our rental car and drove for hours and hours, each day going from each unbelievable sight to the next. I've always loved keeping these moments to myself and find that a lot of the places or moments I've had/visited that mean the most to me have been the hardest to write about. Something about my dissatisfaction with how I've written about it that doesn't justify the whole experience or the beauty of it all. Iceland is easily one places made up of many of these moments but it's also something I feel so connected with that I have to share it. People are not kidding when they say a place like Iceland will change your life because it surely changed mine.

DAY IN THE LIFE


It's been awhile since I last made a video, and during all this time I forgot how enjoyable it can be. Bryant and I spent Sunday at my favourite hotel in London (no prizes for guessing which!) where we had a classic English roast before spending the rest of the day just fooling around and shopping. I am so lucky to have this guy in my life and words cannot express how grateful I am to be able to experience London together with him. This was one of my favourite days being here so far, just taking a good break from work and enjoying the beautiful weather. Thank you, London. And thank you, Bryant. 

LEARNING TO LOVE MYSELF AGAIN



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This is something a little personal but also something I've been meaning to write about because I feel it's important. I'm going to make it brief, but if there's anything I hope that anyone reading this will take from, it's to be able to love yourself. I've been in the happiest, most comfortable point in my life in a long time. And it's simple, nothing compared to how I lived just a couple of months ago. I guess I can say I'm content with how life has treated me here although there are a couple of ups and downs. But recently, because of a couple of things that had been bothering me. I've started to question myself about a lot of things from how my friends here see me, how many clothes, shoes and bags I need to be able to validate myself, how I should show my love towards my friends here, how much I am worth and how sick I am to constantly just be in the position of 'having the potential' to do a lot of things but never living up to it. I've been feeling very discouraged. Still content but there will always be these moments. I came across an interview I did a few months ago and it surprised me so much to see how fearless I was then. I said, " I think I am at a point in my life where I have nothing to lose, so if there is anything I am living by, it is to always create opportunities for yourself. Life really is way too short for you to sit around and wait for the right time for things to happen. If you want something, go out and get it. Make the change you want to see." To think about it, everything I said still applies and is true. I still have nothing to lose so I don't get why I’ve been so scared in the first place. The past 2 years have been a whirlwind of emotions for me. I was struggling a lot learning how to be my own best friend. It felt like a lot of it was coming in and out of circles. I feel like my time in London has taught me a lot, made me a much different person and simply too busy to notice that I've forgotten to love myself again. Because I've been surrounded by such an amazing group of people here who have made me feel so loved. It’s made me realise you can sometimes lose yourself in the process of just being too comfortable, which is exactly what I have been. Now, the questions haunt me and I’m starting to expect more out of myself. It’s made me an overly sensitive person who over thinks every single situation and affects me way more than I want it to. I thought I could have solo days out at the museum, treat myself to fancy brunch at a nice restaurant, have chai while walking in the park but I haven’t had the time to do that. I’ve completely forgotten how to be my own best friend again because I don’t love myself at all and I’ve also stopped trusting. I rely on the love I've been getting from my friends and family to make me feel me. 
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Normally I’m used to sharing about how I’ve come out of each experience but now, I feel this is part of what I am going through and I thought I would share my goals here. I’ve learnt a lot about myself and people just from sharing my feelings here, it’s allowed me to deal with whatever I’m faced with because I know that this is public. So here is how I will aim to get out of this rough patch and move forward: 

 Always see myself at my best- I’ve been feeling discouraged like I said, and when I came across that quote I said last year, I realised how much I’ve been doing the exact opposite: Sitting around waiting for something to happen. Just because I am too scared and confident that all I’ll get is rejected. In London, I’ve seen myself at my best and many times I’ve completely, genuinely allowed myself to live in the moment. Smile like I mean it and go to sleep feeling inspired. I need to constantly be like that, have some faith in me and just always be the best version of myself all the time. A friend recently told me ‘nobody really cares when you fail anyway’ and I thought that was really true. The people that come out at the top of our heads are the ones we look up to, and the things they have achieved. I need to pick myself up again and remind myself I really do have nothing to lose. 

 Remind myself I am worth it- All of us are unique in our own way and I believe we tend to forget that we are beautiful and treasured human beings. Give yourself come credit, look at the mirror, treat yourself to a nice meal and new shoes. I find that whenever I talk about my strengths (and weaknesses) to my friends, I learn more. Except compliments and stop brushing them away! We all encourage each other and that is how we go forth. I am worth it and so are you. Trust myself Nobody is going to trust me if I don’t trust myself.Just the same as nobody is going to love me if I don’t even love myself. So I need to trust myself to be able to do things and to be able to love myself again. 

Make time for myself- It can even be going to the library to get work done but I want to start actually making plans to spend time with me, on a beautiful day out. Only then can I love me again. 

 Set boundaries- I need to be aware of the environment where I’ll thrive and also give myself the room to fail. But most importantly, not allow myself to swim in a pity party of fear, rejection and failure but pick myself up and start over when I need to. Taking more care of myself is also something I hope to be able to work on. When your body is healthy, you’ll be able to take on things with a clear state of mind and just feel good vibes all over in general. Eat healthy! Sleep more! Mask up! Feel good. 

 Do not be afraid to love- I was so scared to love the people around me because of the way that I am. Precisely because I am actually lucky enough to know who I am, I need to accept it and not run away from it. Just because I tend to love a lot, and I like to show it, doesn’t mean that I should have to question myself for it. And I think it’s time I need to apply this to myself too. I shouldn’t be afraid to want to love myself, like really ENJOY being me and being with me.

A HOME IN A BEDROOM

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Since being in London, I've been renting a little room in the East, not far off Victoria Park. I absolutely love it here. It might be just a room but it really does feel like my own space, something I've been needing for a long time. With a lot of the people I've met, because room rentals are usually short term, they usually don't do much to make it their own. I beg to differ otherwise, but I guess maybe it's also because I am here for a good amount of time. Anyhow, I just thought I would share how my made my bedroom become my home.
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My room came with just the bed, the wardrobe and chest of drawers at the back, together with a little couch. I chose this space because I absolutely loved the brick (unfunctional) fireplace and the light that came through the front of the house. The furniture is not the best but there wasn't much I could do about it. It was good storage so I appreciated the convenience. 

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1. The first thing you see when you walk into the room is of course the brick fireplace. It was just the plain brick wall so I got a mirror to hang on it. This one from Ikea did the trick as it was cheap and looked pleasing with the rest of the room. I also sometimes put flowers by the fireplace, It's nice waking up to fresh blooms every now and then!

2. A coat hanger is not only such a convenient piece of furniture to have but I love how homey it made my room feel. It's realistic because hey, I actually sleep here. So I like that I can be messy with it while at the same time, how it makes the whole room feel very comfortable.

3. I got some sheepskin rugs to lay over this boring plain couch, and also the carpet on the floor. I love being able to sit on the couch to get work done, or sometimes even on the carpet while having a meal. A carpet is great for comfort and it makes any space immediately feel like a home.

4. My dressing area is my favourite part of the room. Over here, I have all my stuff I use for getting ready like my make up, jewellery and perfume. Eucalyptus is my favourite plant because it doesn't need any kind of maintenance. It dries up well on it's own and makes the room smell so good.

5. My bedside table is constantly in a mess! But I love having little details that make me feel happy like my favourite candles, my journal that I write in a lot, and my favourite lamp which my aunt surprised me with by bringing it over when she came to visit. It's marble so imagine how heavy it is! The Peep n' Press frame was a gift from Natalie before I came over, I love such personalised gifts and can't believe she drew it so well and with such meticulous detail.

6. Just beside my bed, I have a little collage I made from some of my favourite magazine tear outs and bits and pieces from memories I have made here in London. I wish I had more stuff from back home in Singapore but I did not bring them over because I really came with so much luggage, it wasn't so much my priority.

I think with any space, making it a home is just about comfort and how you'd like it. I've always loved slightly bohemian-looking interiors so I had the carpet and the sheepskin rugs. It really is just like dressing up so I see it as a huge part of myself that I can express within a space. Hope you enjoyed this mini room tour! One day maybe it will be my own flat but time will only tell! I just got back from Iceland and have so many images I can't wait to share.

Photos of myself by Mikko Puttonen.