The ultimate survival guide to that 5 star hotel room (by yourself)

Warning: Below content contains some high level complaints and explicit images that may offend some narrow-minded people who has a habit of taking things too seriously. Reader discretion is advised; haters gonna hate though so this is just for laughs.

Oh the joy and pain of business trips…it still amazes me when I walk into a hotel room like the above, but no matter how often I travel, I can NEVER sleep well in a hotel bed. Sometimes I get lucky and will be able to fall asleep fast, get through the whole night safe and sound on the third try; other times I would have already checked out! So here I have complied a guide to surviving that luxurious picture perfect hotel room – all by yourself.

1) Make yourself at home. Whether that means making the room messy or setting up routines, find little ways to remind yourself that this is your habitat for the next few days. For instance, I always start by untucking the blanket…who even invented this because it’s so uncomfortable to be trapped like a caterpillar; I mean I’m clearly the butterfly already 😉 Next thing I usually do is open all the curtains; I always sleep on the right side if I can so I’ll also locate the tissue box and move it to the right side of the bed thanks to my allergies. On the messy part: I like to leave my toiletries all over the bathroom and instead of hanging up my clothes, I’d toss them around on purpose so I feel I own the place.

2) DO NOT DISTURB. It’s sometimes hard to communicate with housekeeping that you want to keep those towels, linens and even the soap so first and foremost, it is about being environmentally friendly. But I also like the fact that at least throughout my stay, I am the only human being to occupy the room, I’ll leave whatever hair, scent, dead skin etc. as I please but really, who needs new towels every day? This echos my previous point about keeping my room messy; why do hotels always assume guests like to have their room “tidied up”? Imagine next time the door sign actually says “Please make my room cozy”? I’d happily flip over my do not disturb in that case.


3) Find your happy place in the hotel and the room. Some people go for that breakfast in bed, some gym, I prefer to swim. As for the room, locate your favorite corner, sometimes it’s the balcony, the writing desk, that lounge chair, the nook of the sofa or most of the time, that bed that is way too comfortable and wide that would fit 4 of me. I like to just curl up and listen to peaceful guitar music, read or just reply urgent emails (ok the last part isn’t really “like” but need to).

4) Make a pillow fortress!!!! Because what else would you do with 3 other pillows?! One thing I never complained about are those fine, crispy cold white sheets.

5) Spend some time to dine in, order room service, do your favorite thing, wear that robe, enjoy that bubble bath, boil water (ONLY drink the second boil, no matter how nice the place is, I make sure to pour out the first boil BECAUSE..! mom said so) and make tea… I also enjoy writing letters with hotel papers and envelopes because their writing pads always feel so nice and they make it so easy (sometimes even for free!) to actually mail it. But if you REALLY ran out of things to do (like me), just write about how to survive a nice hotel room!

Let me know what’s your personal tip on this ! 🙂



Random reflection (because, who cares whether it’s monthly/ quarterly or yearly?)

Today wordpress told me I have reached 200 likes in a new secret blog I’ve recently started (ping me if you want to know about it, I may or may not share with you 🙂 and so I went back to see the stats of this legacy one.

When I started in 2013, I dedicated most time and effort into almost 60 posts meaning I wrote more than once a week! I had 1600 visitors generating almost 4500 views
Over the next 4 years, I wrote barely once a quarter so the total views were only around 2500. My point though wasn’t the numbers at all
but the fact that real people do drop by from time to time to consume content I put out there. Recently several things has got me thinking about the whole idea of being responsible for your content, platform.

To the furthest extent, how do you make sure the content you put out there is correct (not fake news) factually and even politically and culturally? How do you present an idea when right or wrong is not always 100% clear and agreed upon? With a personal blog, of course I can be biased and put up whatever bullshit I come up with, but with a platform with massive influence
 indeed with greater power comes greater responsibility.

This brings me to two incidents that I’ve only just recently connected. The first happened in 2013, mid way through my Europe exchange, I received a comment, then message from a girl of Islamic cultures (in her profile picture she had a hijab on). She was probably in high school at the time; somehow because I am this petite Asian girl barely reaching 1.6m, she was inspired by the way I tromped the continent with just a backpack sleeping in airports, catching midnight buses and planes with no internet while keeping myself in one piece. She told me that I made her believe in herself, that she too can explore the world when she have the chance. It was never my intention to do anything remotely close to inspiring people with my little space here. It started when I wanted to share the most authentic feelings and excitement I have being in Europe for the first time, without repeating myself over and over again to my mom, my aunt, my cousin, my friends etc. So my first takeaway is whether intentional or not, you are responsible for the people you’ve touched or inspired. It is a special bonding like no other, even more precious because it means we are bypassing the limitation of physical contact, not letting that hinders our ability to connect with others through merely a thought, an idea, big or small.

The second incident happened during my second exchange, also 2013 (what a year right!). I submitted my poem to the school literary magazine for the first time in my life and a few weeks later, received a facebook message from Nicole-

“Hi this might be really creepy but if you’re the X X who goes to X and has submitted to this X literary magazine, I just wanted to say that i love your poem “Always here” and it reminds me of my mom who passed away this past halloween. I’m really glad I came across it and I wanted you to know how much I enjoyed it. Hopefully this is the right X lol. Sorry ignore this if it isn’t !”
First of all, I had no idea they actually published my poem. Secondly, that people ACTUALLY read it, and third! One out of the few people who read it, cared enough to write to me. Perhaps in a world where meaningful connection is so hard to come by, even a distant but significant one is worth the effort of acknowledging. Afterall, isn’t life just the sum of all genuine bonds we make with one another, however substantial or fleeting it is?

It may not be entirely relevant, but I want to end the post with a personal inspiration moment. I was in an internal training where the founder of a US Game company shared about his friend, who was, at the time, an app developer who writes code for their games. He is passionate in writing, but never seemed to get enough interests from publishers. Instead of just giving up and tossing it under his bed, he has decided to release chapter by chapter online, circling the contents amongst his friends so they can give him feedback. The most common one he got was how much they enjoy when the protagonist solve problems in a scientific manner. So he gave his protagonist more and more obstacles to solve. As he improves his storyline, he gained more and more readers until eventually, he drawn the attention of book publishers. You’ve probably heard of this poor protagonist, Mark Whatney, who was also played by Matt Damon.. in the movie adaptation of (one of) my all time favorite book, the Martian written by Andy Weir. The book that made me miss my train stop twice because I was captivated by the plot. I found strength in Mark when he relentlessly pick himself up failure after failure, with one clear goal in mind: to solve whatever problem that came in his way. If it were me personally, I’d probably gave up living on Mars by myself by the first month. But no, it was persistence and the belief that there are more solutions than problems that got him through. Because no matter how tiny are the steps you made, as long as it is in the right direction, you will eventually get there. Mark’s story reminded me of this quote I read off a chalkboard sometime ago “It is always too early to quit.”

So please stay tuned, my plan is to publish a book in 20 years’ time 🙂

3 Lessons I’ve learnt recently, dedicated to my favorite cousin <3

I’d like to dedicate this post to my favorite cousin who is graduating from college today with 3 Lessons I’ve learnt recently.

Rooster today, feather duster tomorrow –

Just because everything is going well for you at the moment, you must not lose sight of your surroundings; stay hungry (for knowledge) and humble (despite any achievements) because you never know when will things change drastically or even go south. The least you can do is make sure you are prepared for wherever life takes you. Be it equipping yourself with the up and coming trends or acquiring new skills relevant to you, never stop learning and growing. I know comfort zone is warm and safe but staying there day after day, and all of a sudden you’ll be faced the harsh reality of being irrelevant! To keep yourself in tip top condition, you must always stay uncomfortably exciting about the things you’re doing in life. Be a Sponge Bob! 

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication –

The real challenge to problem solving is to untangle and clarify complex issues in order to define it clearly. The people I admire most are those that handle complicated situations with ease and grace. Of course deep down lots must be going through the thought process and situation handling, but you never see them panic or capitulate to these challenges. Quite the contrary, they keep going and solves problems in such calm and effortless manner that you just trust them to have everything well under control. Humans tend to over complicate things but I guess at the end of the day, all that matters is to listen to your heart, and stay true to your core values. Everything else is just noise. Simplicity is the toughest state to achieve because it is JUST the right amount, not an ounce more or a droplet less. Same applies to fashion I suppose 😉

You are not normal, you are in a class all by yourself –

It is pretty cliche to think that everyone is unique and special but nonetheless true. My personal interpretation on this is that the purpose of life is to focus on personal growth and it is only with this can we add value to the society and the people around us. The way to measure growth is never through comparing with others; but with who I was yesterday, last month, last year. I used to be terrified of water, yet 2 years ago, I finally LEARNT how to swim. I am still a pretty bad swimmer compared with the general public, but to me, I know I can only get better every time I practice. I am not normal. You are not normal. We are all in our very own class, all by ourselves, hopefully advancing towards our individual goals in our own pace, slowly but surely. Whether or not someone else progress faster or slower than you is completely irrelevant. Because we are all on our own tracks in life.

With this, I want you to know that your future is now entirely in your hands; no one has walked the steps you are going to walk and life just never gets easier. The world will only expect more and more from you but I have total faith that you are ready to steer your life whichever direction you choose. No matter what happens, my support is unconditional and always ready.



No matter how close or far away

Ask me once and I’ll come, I’ll come running

And when I can’t be with you, dream me near

Keep me in your heart and I’ll appear

All you gotta do is turn around

Close your eyes, look inside

I’ll be right here.

A little downtime for the brain

A little downtime for the brain

There is a strange kind of happiness watching your resume grow to the point where you need to take things out. Once upon a time, not very long ago, I was struggling to fill in this one sheeter son of a b-. Perhaps the joy comes from seeing your experience accumulate arithmetically. 1 year and 8 months already in my “new job”! Felt like just yesterday I got the long overdue phone call from HR and just this morning that I was struggling with jargons like apk/sdk. Believe me, to date, I still picture a warm aromatic chunky chocolate chip cookie whenever I hear people mention the word “cookies” (in internet world). There is so much joy in acquainting yourself with new skills, eventually getting it and becoming good at it. I guess it is inherent in human beings to feel good about growth, to crave new concepts and challenge oneself with the unknown; otherwise civilisation and even evolution wouldn’t have happened.


But it is not just this innate curiosity that guided me along the way. It is the people whom I have crossed paths with: the childhood friends that became soul sisters, the strangers that became reliable friends and the close companions that became nobody. But like what I’ve reflected after watching La La Land; every person happens to you for a reason. Their staying in and fading away from your life is for a purpose. Sitting on the rooftop at night, random conversations about our deepest fear and biggest hope. Trapped in a car under the pouring rain, small talks around our family and childhood. Strolling down the pier, winding speeches about the frustration towards life and the fascination of endless possibilities… These moments may have passed but it is everlasting in my heart. 97EB9F9B-975F-4E7C-95F0-091F34D06E8F

I’ve read somewhere that our brains’s naturally exhibited emotions only last for 90 seconds so what you feel after that is purely your choice. Whether you choose to dwell on the negatives; or get on. I’ve also heard some wise advice that “no one is responsible for your happiness but yourself.” One of my recent favourite quote from a book is that “inaction breeds fear and doubt. Action breeds confidence and courage.” I love this new sense of confidence and certainty that comes with age and the wisdom you gather from life. All the epic, the good, the bad and the misery accumulated through time; condensed and distilled drop by drop into precisely who I am today. Fresh out of college, there was nothing I wanted more than going back to High School. Now, I wouldn’t trade the years I’ve had with anything in the world for I am right where I’m supposed to be now. (that sounded a bit like a pop song) In retrospect, I realised you sort of discover things in life one step at a time even when you’re not necessarily looking.


My 17 year old self would have wanted to be who I am today 🙂 I’d like to end with a famous quote by Primo Levi from Into the Wild: “How important it is in life not necessarily to be strong but to feel strong.” I get my strength from words so I’ll continue to write; because I know- at least you are reading it.


p.s. regretful but not apologetic for the scattered thoughts


Random thoughts on a 14 hours flight


3I have always liked turbulence on planes (writing this on the flight to SF may be jinxing it since the entire plane is shaking even harder now). It’s like you always get it when you fly over Japan. It has just the right dose of danger within comfortable range that in those few seconds, you suddenly realize that your life is only hanging by a thread. There is no guarantee that you’ll live through the next millisecond.

4Despite knowing all the statistics about how unlikely the odds are, there is still that tiny sense of uncertainty, a hint of doubt no matter how many times I fly. Just WHAT IF my plane is the one that crashes? (at least I’d have higher chances of surviving since I’m poor I get to “avoid” the most dangerous front rows of the plane) What if this is the plane where co-pilots have high power distance? (No worries, even Korean Air has fixed this for a while now, I took it just 6 months ago) What if this is the unfortunate flight where someone absentmindedly brought along a Samsung Note 7? Or the one where mechanical teams made just a bit too many little mistakes that adds up fatal? If you are reading this now, by all means, I survived J and it wouldn’t even be surprising because you know and expect flights to land safely. Yes, we all take that for granted. A gigantic machine with WINGS that carry hundreds of people, fly over tens of thousands of kilometers over the ocean, the snowy mountains and the continental plates at 40 thousands feet altitude somehow made it to the destination! HELLO? How amazingly wonderful is that? Instead of complaining about the cold bread, the lack of wifi or bad taste in flight entertainment; shall we just be grateful that we reached our destination SAFELY? This not so simple act is almost a miracle in itself! And just because something incredible happens often doesn’t make it any less magical. Don’t wait until your plane flips over and land on the Hudson River to realize that.


So perhaps just this thought of how fragile life is, just how easy we could vanish from this world, makes me treasure every single touch down and appreciates my presence in the world (however light weighted) to a greater extent. As I picture my not so perfectly shaped heart pumping just the right amount of blood that circulates my entire body with every pulse; I feel that much more alive.

Written on the 5th flight in 2017.



Spread the love and fortune!

As I finished writing (actual words), I dropped my pen but my heart couldn’t drop the subject. Who knew this would turn out to be such a thought provoking experience?

9B573FC8-9E4E-4B37-A1BD-89CB52088441.JPGtl;dr (FYI, this stands for “too long; didn’t read” for adults) – You can be part of the change of someone’s life. Someone whose life depends on it. With a bit of money, and also with the power of knowledge and empathy shared amongst human beings.

3 months ago, a series of incidents led me to an epiphany – knowledge IS power. It is the most effective way to improve your life. This sudden and striking realization kept me pondering. My ridiculous brain came to the decision that the tiniest, most effortless thing to do is to sponsor a child! That way I will even receive handwritten letters on top of my monthly horror of credit card bills! Also, I get to use my beautiful letter papers. I must say what began with a really selfish motivation somehow turn into something rather meaningful.

Shortly after I filled in everything online, I received a call from World Vision volunteer who told me I should receive a package of the details of my sponsored child. I forgot about it as I travelled on business. When I got back, I received a letter from my sponsored child, written by her mom!E75E2ABA-1337-406A-88B8-7772B1AB13D1.JPG

She’s 5, from a warm and faraway country called Ecuador. Her favorite color is red.

I still haven’t gotten the package so I planned to call World Vision again but kept forgetting as I travel abroad. A while later, the responsible volunteer called me up again to check and made sure one week after I will receive it!

IMG_9819.JPGThen here I was, excited over a letter that is not urging me to pay up or borrow money. This packet told me my sponsored child has 2 sisters, her family works in agriculture and the exact city she’s in is Tixan. Wikipedia says that’s where one finds copper and gold.

So I put on Ecuador Top 100 from spotify and began filling in the questions in the default greeting letter. While latino music echoes in my room, I found it to be a rather daunting task to write this letter to my sponsor child.

“Her favorite food is rice.” – her mom wrote, as she is too young to write. Rice…plain, bland staple food.

I thought about my favorite food: sushi, uni, oysters, cakes, chocolates, ice cream… all these are beyond luxurious to her and many other underprivileged kids. It’s not until I spent several tough minutes going further down my mental list that I put down tomatos.IMG_9818.JPG

I checked out her horoscope and imagined her personality as a Pisces. As she grow up, she’d be “known for her passionate and experimental nature.” It is as if I have travelled into the future and imagined her to be my age. Would she already had all the education she needed to pursue her dream? Would she even be given equal opportunities to fight for what she want in life? For some reason, I already felt so attached to her. I want to learn more about her country. Does she get to study if she already has 2 sisters? Is Ecuador a gender equal society? Does she have pets with so many mouths to feed in her family?

80643C7B-AC31-49A2-B3BB-BBA02EEEA3F0.JPGThere is so much that I felt obliged to tell her: the beautiful vibrant city I live in that is slowly deterioating; my challenging and exciting job with so much possibility; the world that is full of promises and hope despite a weird 2016…but what will she understand as a 5 year old? So I wrote about my favorite color, my obsession towards giraffes and the origin of Snowy’s (my pet bunny) name instead.

In the end I just google translated my message into Spanish, in case the volunteers didn’t want to translate for me anymore as I wrote so much. Hopefully it made sense; in Google we trust. I carefully sealed it with my photo and snowy’s handsome baby portrait. Along with all my best wishes and goodwill, I mailed the letter to Ecuador, hoping she will soon be able to read the words herself.

In contrast to the humble and basic life she leads, I am splurging  excessively like Marie Antoinette while taking everything for granted. The difference between us also lies in that she doesn’t have a choice, but I do. And so do you.img_9817

With Valentine’s day coming up, it is the ideal time to make someone’s life significantly better instead of getting your special someone things (s)he already had or don’t actually need. For the indifferent ones with commitment issues, you can simply get them a gift that just might spare them from a life or death situation. Spread the love!

I’m obsessed with La La Land not only because I’m a musical lover, but…

FeaturedI’m obsessed with La La Land not only because I’m a musical lover, but…

As if the movie itself isn’t great enough, the apt timing it premiered makes me anticipate my soon to come LA trip even more! I’m already itching to trace the footsteps of Mia and Sebastian.
img_6046The last time I felt compelled to write down my thoughts post movie was Begin Again, and that was probably 2-3 years ago. La La land was so delightful that I watched it twice in the theatre (still planning to go again if I have the time) and looped its OST hundreds of times and counting. The first time I watched it, the movie struck me by the glamour of its tap dances and songs (I mean who doesn’t love a cheerful musical?), the costumes and the wonderfully crafted ending (some hated the ending I know, but for me, it is precisely the ending that furthered my obsession of the movie even more). The second time, I’m less distracted by the joyful songs and dances; I could finally notice the subtle details in the way the lead characters interact (I totally get why they won best actor/actress) and the beautiful cinematography left me in awe again. The scene in the Planetarium is just breathtakingly absurd yet hopelessly romantic at the same time. Those dancing silhouettes are so beautiful it gave me goosebumps. The blend of mellow colors, sparkling lights and the splash of sharp vibrant colors contrasted so well it’s just pure pleasure to the eyes.

“I don’t know what your name is but I like it” img_5630

One of my favorite song is “Another Day of Sun”. The melody simply gets you grooving in your seat! The opening scene demonstrated the essence of American culture, colorful people (both in their costumes and skin color) jamming in all sorts of dances: Hispanic in flamenco, Africans joining in hip hop and break dance, Asians in acrobatics; even the slow motion scene of “Someone in the crowd” paired up cross-racial actors deliberately. The brilliant thing is despite these differences in exterior, they are very likely all Americans. This vibrant clash of cultures is exactly what made America such a unique place; it’s full of conflicts and compromises.. just like Jazz! To me, this is the most brutal irony under the current situation in the US. Anyways that’s too depressing to get into so let’s move on to the characters.

“Here’s to the ones who dreamed, foolish as they may seem”

It is such a clichĂ© that those who chase after their dreams always face numerous failures, countless hurdles and huge buckets of freezing cold water pouring down their heads. Let’s not forget that every single chorus actor in the movie is yet another Mia praying for their own “audition” for Paris.

“Even when the answer’s no and when my money’s running low”img_5754

But if you think about it, even if you’re just living your day-to-day modest and boring life, struggling to make ends meet; it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re free from rejections and self-doubts. And if that is so, we might as well spend our time on things that actually matter instead of churning money for big corporations right?

“Somewhere there’s a place where I find who I’m gonna be, a somewhere that’s just waiting to be found”

To me the difficult part is finding a passion to truly seek after; that’s why dreamers and believers are always my favorite people. It breaks my heart to see them fail, again and again, yet it still inspires me every time they dust themselves off and get at it again. But just like the way Mia and Sebastian helped each other through their toughest time, this whole process is rarely done alone. Without her, he wouldn’t have put down his artist pride and stubbornness to eventually gain the capital and reputation to open his own Jazz bar; without him, well obviously she wouldn’t even make it to the audition that eventually made her famous. Neither of them could have done it alone.img_2727

“A voice that says, I’ll be here, and you’ll be alright”

Sometimes all you need is someone to believe in you, to look you in the eye, and convince you that you are good enough, you can do it. So you can zip up those muffin tops, take a deep breath, flex your muscle and take a leap of faith. There is never guarantee to success, but the magic and purpose must be in the attempt. That’s why I loved the ending. Everyone enters your life for a reason, and for those who exit, they must have left for a better one. What more can you ask for when you’ve already had the best ride together growing alongside each other? To me, Mia and Sebastian has completed their roles in each other’s life and when that’s done, it’s only inevitable that they must go on with their own lives, following their separate dreams and eventually fade out from each other.

Thanks Damien, for this romantic movie just cured my heart. I think this will continue to be my favorite movie for a while.

“Is this the start of something wonderful and new? Or one more dream that I cannot make true?”


p.s. I’ve read an opinion somewhere that coined Mia as the typical selfish girlfriend who jumped from men to men
well I viewed it differently. The way Sebastian assumed Mia would follow him on his tour while her performance is 2 weeks away is downright selfish. The way he missed her play is yet another proof. The way she got pushed away by the crowd during his first gig is a metaphor on how he is becoming someone she no longer understands. The final straw is when he thought she wasn’t genuinely happy for his success
 what kind of self absorbed lunatic would think their loved one could be jealous of themselves? I’m not saying Mia isn’t selfish because the absolute truth is that human beings are all selfish; I think love is just a by-product when that selfishness somehow happens to benefit someone else too. (Since this thought seems a bit dark I’ll just keep it at the very end :P)