Tuesday, December 27, 2016


Her lips curled into a grin when she stopped him leaning against the wall and patiently waiting for him. She shot a smile and a wave at him before making her way over. Without giving much thought, she squeezed him into an embrace.

His eyes widened with a bittersweet surprise. Although he was stunned, he was exuberant that she treated him as a friend enough to want to hug him when they caught up.

“I’m sorry,” she sheepishly apologised. “It's a habit acquired after my sojourn abroad. I hope I didn't take you aback.”

While they waited for their orders in a quiet cafe off-campus, she slid a package towards him. It contained his birthday present and souvenir in addition to a birthday letter. A glow shone on his face when he stole a glance at the contents of the paper bag. There were two individually wrapped items, which meant that she wanted to retain his suspense of receiving a secret gift. When she wrote that she desired to pass the birthday gifts, he never thought she’d keep to her words.

He was, however, more interested with the sealed envelope.

She nodded, reading his mind. “Feel free to open it, if you want.”

Her face flushed as red as a cherry tomato the moment he tore open the envelope and read the contents of the birthday card. Her internal temperature significantly rose, making her warmer and colouring her ears with a rosy hue. If she hadn’t known better, she’d have thought that she was running a temperature.

But she wasn’t.

There was nothing incriminating in the message or choice of gifts, so why was she fidgety and blushing brighter than the stars?

“Thanks for it, my friend!” His words penetrated her thoughts. “I really love it!”

“That's awesome!” She heaved a breath. “I was petrified that you wouldn't like it.”

“Not to worry! I trust your choice.”

Hours later, when they rose to their full height, he acknowledged his appreciation and thanks with a bear hug. He grabbed her with such intensity that her blood flow was constructed and strangling her.

“I’m … choking.” She croaked like a frog.

“Sorry!” Awkwardness twirled in his eyes as he released her. “I didn't mean to do so.”

“It's alright. I’d have preferred an advance warning.” She straightened her shirt. “I’ve to head off, so I’ll catch up with you later on Facebook?”

“Sure thing!”

He watched as she scurried off, mentally cursing himself for such a move.

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Sneaky, Slithery Trip

Hello, dear readers!

It's been a while since my flight back. Although I've revealed the intention of a vacation in advance, I didn't let the cat out of the bag about the destination until the eleventh hour. So yeah, I flew out to Kuala Lumpur - unwillingly, if I may add - for a couple of weeks to run banking errands and clear the mental exhaustion.

Only a handful of friends in both areas knew about my impending trip. The rest weren't aware of it until I returned to Adelaide. I know I sound sneaky, but I didn't have the extra time to catch up with them over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.

Even the ones who knew couldn't meet me in person either.

I wouldn't dare to admit that the flight experience from Adelaide to Kuala Lumpur was an awesome one. Those who are frequent flyers of the international routes would've experienced this: a morning flight would require you to arrive at the airport hours in advance to avoid the peak hour traffic - on the road and at the check-in counters itself. I almost missed my flight last November because both the boarding and Customs took ages, sigh. I'd rather resemble a panda from night flights than to struggle for morning flights and run the risk of being late for the flight.

That, as I recently learnt, has its own issues too. I'll elaborate on that later.

As my cabin luggage was over the limit, extra time was spent repacking - and history almost repeated itself, sigh. At the back of my mind, I knew that the gate for bag drop will close an hour before the flight's departure to allow the airport employees to bring/drive the checked-in luggages over and load it into the plane. It wasn't until the on-ground airport employee - a fellow Malaysian - assured me that  the plane will only depart after all checked-in passengers are accounted for that I allowed myself to relax. The reason why there was a large, unexpected crowd stemmed from a large chunk of passengers who bought their tickets at the eleventh hour.

Not to mention, some of them are transiting at KLIA before boarding another flight to their final destination.

I wasn't looking forward to being home unlike last November. It was if my psyche was stuck on Adelaidean soil when the plane left the tarmac. I immediately knew, with a sigh, that it was my brain protesting against the heart's desire to absorb the bright sun and nourishing humidity in KL. With the brain and heart in different places, it was obvious that I blew almost RM 2,400 (about AUD$800 +/-) on the flight ticket for nothing.

But hey, at least we satiated the cravings for Malaysian dishes and caught up with a couple of old friends. If only someone informed me that there would be more rain than sunshine, I wouldn't have packed so much clothing home. You see, I was under the mistaken belief that I’d be soiled with sweat. I’m not looking forward to the last two years of studies because it’ll be chaotic and hectic. Most of the courses are intensive or heavy-weighted. I better issue an advance warning to my parents to zone me out when I’m venting through WhatsApp and Skype.

If I thought that the flight to KL wasn't pleasing, my return flight to Adelaide was twice as bad. The check-in process at KLIA was alright - although no one told me beforehand that all passengers are to drop off their luggage in the same area. It should’ve been dedicated counters for the various flights like in the past. Thank God one of the passengers mentioned that everyone is in the same queue for the bag drop.

Not all of them are Adelaide-bound... some are heading to Melbourne, Saigon, Incheon and Bangkok among other places

Methinks the change must’ve been the result of cost-saving tactics. MAS, oh, MAS, you could’ve posted about it on your website or have a notice at the kiosk/queue itself…

Now here's the matter that I insinuated a little earlier in the post. Although the plane landed a little earlier than scheduled, 1/3 of the passengers were forced to wait for nearly an hour at the baggage carousel. When we reconvened there after clearing Customs, only a handful of luggages were there to greet us and it moved at a tortoise's pace - to the point where it was suspicious. I'm not expecting it to be out of the plane at a rabbit's speed because it's done manually, but an explanation at this time would've been helpful.

It wasn't this long last December. 30 minutes was all it took for me to grab my luggage and enter the arrival hall - despite the fact that the bag drop at KLIA was at least 2 1/2 hours earlier. *inserts sighing emoji*

Was it the replacement public holiday in Malaysia that brought the crowd to Adelaide?

Enough of me speaking. I’ll let the pictures take over now.

Dosa - a type of pancake-crepe that can also be eaten for dinner. From what I can remember, the batter is made from fermented rice.

The must try drink if/when you visit Malaysia: teh tarik (pulled tea). From what I can remember, it's actually milk tea that is pulled from one cup to another for two reasons: one, to froth the drink (hence the bubbles at the top) and two, to cool the tea to an acceptable drinking temperature.

Steamed crab in Pandamaran, Port Klang

Bak Kut Teh (Pork Rib Soup in English). I've heard that its origins are from Klang, but this dish is available nationwide now.

Need I say more? =P Another national dish (satay) that you need to sample if/when you're in the country.

Bak chang (rice dumplings)

I've more photographs of the food we've sampled in Malaysia, but I didn't want to upload all of them at one go because I'm not in the mood to tempt ya'll with the delectable dishes.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016


The rug was snatched beneath her just as and when she thought that she had control over things - emotionally, physically, and academically. It was on the second day before her final and toughest exam that this ensued. Papers were scattered around her on the floor in the living room. Folders containing the combination of her notes and that of her senior’s left open. It didn't help that the pounding in her head worsened with each flip of the textbook page.

She chose to ignore her ringing iPhone with abandon, but when it screamed with ear-splitting volume, she muddled through the revision mess and answered it.


“Hey!” The voice replied. “Did I disturb you?”

“No, not exactly. What’s up?”

“I was wondering whether you’d be game for a hike tomorrow.”

It was a split second decision for her. “Of course!”


As she watched him working his way up the rocky path, she recollected that his personality contradicted her first impression of him and what other students commented about him. She was led to assume that he was a nerd who prioritised studies and work above anything else, not someone who adores nature as much as she does and loves trekking hills. Her past thoughts about him diminished like a disappearing car underwater and replaced by a positive one: helpful, outgoing, comical, kind, and knows when to have fun. Now that she thought of it, her coursemate warned her that there was a possibility of him being smitten with her like a lovesick puppy. She shrugged it off back then, not believing that it was possible as they were associates, not friends who’ve known each other for months.

“It could happen. I don't want to frighten you, but I also want you to be cautiously aware,” was her friend’s justification.

It was crystal clear that things had changed between them. No longer were they acquaintances, but it blossomed into a stable friendship and they were comfortable hanging out with each other to the point where they had each other’s cell numbers and email addresses. There was an awkward silent in which he gazed at her, waiting for something from her a couple of steps away.

“I’m sorry, but did you say something?”

“I said, are you feeling alright? You’ve fallen reticent.” And you look upset too, he wanted to include.

“I’m all good. Just the irrational exam anxiety,” she lied,

“That was the whole purpose of this trip, my friend. It was to take your mind off the papers. I don't want you to think about your revision. Plus, you’ll be alright. I’ve faith in you.”

“Thanks… I guess.”

“In that case, do you think you’ll be up for more scaling on this mountainous path?”

“Definitely! You thought that I’m exhausted by that?!” She thumbed towards the terrain behind her, shaking her head. “No way!”


He ensured that she was in the same foot rhythm as him before he led the way up the hill.

Refreshing themselves with a glass of club soda each, they were leaning against the balcony railing and admiring the breathtaking scenery of them. The silhouette of the hills kissed each other and formed a natural curve that was contrasted by the different shades of green. The sun poured its radiance on the wooden porch and threatened to bake them with the hue of chocolate chip cookies.

“Tell me something.” He shattered the comfortable silence. “Have you decided on next year’s courses?”

“Not exactly.” She sighed. “I’m still in the process of choosing mine. I’m assuming that you’ve yours all confirmed?”


“That’s good.”

“Want to share?”

He sipped his drink. “Core courses for the first semester and a mixture of electives for the second.”

“You’re bringing forward the core subject from your final year?! Wouldn't that be torturous?”

“I want to complete the core ones as soon as I can and combine the electives with the training. I’m done with everything six months earlier, which leaves me with some time to relax and smell the roses. It’ll be torturous, but I’ll make it.”

“I would’ve done so myself too, but I’ve not completed one of the prerequisite subjects.”

“You could ask for a waiver?”

“Nah, it’s alright.” She drained the remainder of her soda. “I highly doubt the course coordinator would approve the request. You're lucky because you're a postgrad, so they are more likely to let you do the prerequisite subjects in the next semester.”


Her eyes shot open when the loud, obstreperous music permeated the air in her apartment. She barged out of bed when the digital clock read two-thirty on a Monday morning. The nocturnal bat of her neighbor was in his neurotic mode and breaching the house rules and the standard test of reasonableness. Had it been the holidays or the usual Friday's, she could care less. She understood that he loved music - maybe obsessively, judging from his tastes, in her opinion - and longed for some relaxation after a stressful day in the office, but with an exam in at least eleven hours time, she had to resolve it or she wouldn't have adequate rest for the afternoon. With that on her psyche, she threw on a cardigan and rushed down to lecture the person a thing or two about mutual respect and consideration.

“Are you out of your mind?! I’ve an exam tomorrow and would appreciate being left alone to rest in peace!” It wasn't her best choice of words, but she wasn't thinking straight in her annoyance and she had to shout over the music. “If I fail because of sleep deprivation, would you pay for me to retake the entire course?”

Her anger enveloped him with its rage that it shocked him into silence.

“Because if you’re not,” she continued, “please switch off the music or at least tone down to a more appropriate level. I’m not interested in screwing up tomorrow and I can't afford it either.” She inhaled with a deep breath before she broke into a small smile. “Thank you for your understanding and have a good night.”

Without waiting for his reply, she sprinted back to her unit to, hopefully, squeeze enough sleep to hammer the paper blue. It didn’t bother her if her tirade led her neighbor to assume that she was mentally deranged because she would be if he continued with his entertainment.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016


Start afresh?

The sound of Winnie’s heart cracking intensified when the reminiscence of her heartbreak permeated the air. A part of her hated him with a vengeance for the way he made her feel. The other part of her realised that his presence and exit were a blessing in disguise. It taught her valuable lessons in life. Life was more complex than what she comprehended and finding genuine people was harder than a needle in the haystack. The sight of personalised nicknames for each other would send her emotions on a train of tears. It is for this reason that she avoided their favourite haunts. She wasn’t prepared to fight the emotional demons.

As the pilot’s voice reverberated through the cockpit, welcoming all of the passengers to Perth, her lips curled into a small smile. Her heart expanded with exuberance to be in the loving arms of this place, a place where she could begin the journey of healing. While it was crystal clear that evading the demons was not the perfect solution, watching the blossoming sparks of fire between the two good friends was reminiscent of what she lost. It threatened to break her resolve and plunge her into the dark, depressive days. Had she told them the real reason behind her departure, they would suppress their feelings for each other to respect her thoughts. It would be unreasonable for her to prevent them from seeking happiness in each other. It was not her wish to see them in a state of misery therefore it was in their best interests that she transferred her degree interstate - even if it meant bidding them adieu.

Katrina was in the kitchen, whipping herself some pancakes when her Messenger rang with a notification. It was Brendan, whose panicked voice reverberated through the message when he asked if Winnie had been in touch with her. His messages went unanswered and it wasn’t like her to ignore messages for days. Although Katrina wasn’t suspicious because Winnie had the tendency to isolate herself when she needed space, she was egged on to check up on her by Brendan’s worry. It didn’t take her long to realise that there was more to Winnie’s absence than meets the eye. It was more than a fortnight since their last contact with Winnie, which drove her to file a missing person’s report… until she found something on her Facebook.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Thoughts running through my head

The title post is from the song "Angels" by Robbie Williams.

Hello there, my readers!

I'm upset and annoyed for not fulfilling the personal goal of attaining a distinction for one of my electives. I know I’ve done my best and relieved that it’s a credit. It’s an assignment-based elective, so had I failed it, I might have to retake the course, which will definitely be the death of me in Sem 2, 2017. For some, a bare credit would have been a relief. Not me; I’m disappointed in myself that I scrapped a bare credit. Has my knowledge dipped in that course to the point where that's my best? Or did I suffer from the serious case of mismanagement of time and a stress overload in silence?

Before I lose the fervour for the degree, it's about time that I set a realistic ambition for my grades. Don't get me wrong. I was never this obsessed. Sure, I was ambitious but not to this stage until college time. People have always said that you need to enjoy your college experience because you only live through it once. That’s true, and that made CPU more memorable in my heart. The truth is I don't think my university experience can be compared to my college one - not by a million miles.

Due to unknown reasons, I can't seem to achieve most of the goals. The catalyst could be anything from the environment, mental exhaustion to the continuous pressure on myself. Not to mention, I can be hard on myself. A little too hard, you could say. I’ve shed tears over a History presentation and lied upfront to a mate that I was alright. I’ve experienced incidents where my eyes would burn after I’ve received a lower result. It’s like you’ve given your all but nothing's going in the right direction. The disappointment can be a hard thing to swallow like a bitter cough syrup. Being hard on myself definitely brings out the worse in me. It causes emotional outbursts that could lead to either damaged doors or a basket load of tissue papers. I’ve never allowed anyone - not even close friends - to see me in tears because what's the point?

Oh gosh, am I back to those days when I used to have late-night snacks?

I need the occasional timeout where I’m left alone to my devices, away from humans and emotions, to recover and realign my thinking. I need the healthy balance between me, studies, blogging, and volunteering duties. One wrong move, and it’s a nervous breakdown I’ll have to deal with instead. It’ll derail everything that I longed and dreamt for. Maybe I hadn't thrown myself into studies in the same manner as CPU, which may explain why I’m frazzled. You see, academic stress has messed with my psyche until I’m contented on spending time indoors alone rather than breathing the fresh air outdoors. The rational side, however, is fully conscious that humans need the occasional interaction with homo sapiens. That's the main reason why I actually force myself to socialise and hang out with friends periodically. The friendships will slip through the cracks if we don't make an effort to maintain it.

Friends. Isn't everyone swearing on their lives that they’ll be there as a friend for better or for worse? Then, why can’t I shake the fear that I’ll be taken advantage of and manipulated like a ragdoll by people close to me? It's happened before, so how can I be sure that it won’t occur unless I adopt a mafia stance? I mean, we are all competitors for the coveted spot. It's easy for anyone including myself to say that they are a friend unless their actions can prove themselves. While I’m willing to be of help, it’s not at the expense of me being the ladder. Put it this way, I’m there when I’m needed, but when it is my turn, most, if not all, flee the scene like wanted criminals.

What's worse, folks have said that I’m overthinking or imagining things. It's not the best thing to say to a person who merely needs a pair of non-judgmental ears to ensure that she's not sliding down the wrong track.

My brain must've suffered a bout of mental harm after all those intense studying with no break in between.

What's frightening me is the possibility that I might be unable to empathise with people. I can make the appropriate noises and facial expressions for sad or joyous news but chances are I’m not feeling the vibe. You can blabber away about something awful or exuberant and I’ll be looking at you like, and your point being? Don't feel bad when I do that. It's not your fault, it's mine. I can handle it if the cause is from stress, not depression or anxiety. A lot has been going on and I’m a worrisome person by nature. I know what you're thinking. I should see a psychiatrist and change my cognitive approach. Easier said than done. While I’ve no fear of them, I already know what their advice would be: you're stressed.

Time to prioritise - and, pelicans, you're right: I need to start taking better care of myself. On that grounds, I'll be taking temporary leave from the blogosphere. I'm heading somewhere (abroad, that is) to clear the congested mind and, hopefully, regain the mojo that I've lost.

Flight's tomorrow morning and I really should be packing now...
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