Amazon

“Most people don’t believe something can happen until it already has. It’s not stupidity, or weakness; it’s just human nature.” – World War Z

The Amazon burning down is a thought that probably never crossed any of our minds, which is strange, considering how familiar we are with deforestation and forest fires.

Until now.

Whether these fires were started accidentally or intentionally is no longer important. Every second that it rampages on, it takes away vital life and a part of the world that we will never see again, a part that we should have protected and kept safe.

Many of us are angry but helpless. We want to help but we don’t know how.

In lieu of this, I’ve seen an upsurge in businesses professing to plant a tree when you purchase XXX.

I’m not going to comment on the ethics of such actions but I sincerely hope that every single one of these businesses will hold true to their word and are not capitalizing on the news to earn money from soft-hearted people.

I’ve been sucked in by such things before– who wouldn’t want to feel that their money is actually helping to do some good?

So let’s say the trees are really planted. This is a good idea btw, I’m not saying that planting trees is a useless idea. But these trees will take decades to reach maturity and produce any significant contribution.

What’s gonna happen in the meantime?

The situation will continue deteriorating and by the time the tress mature, they will no longer be enough.

The best way right now to really make some sort of difference to this Earth that we have been violently abusing is to reduce our carbon emissions (I know, I know– that’s pretty damn rich coming from someone whose livelihood depends on those great big planes emitting truckloads of carbon and shitting tons of fuel into the oceans).

That being said, since it is unlikely that all of us can be in Brazil helping to fight the fire (although if there was some way that every single person who cares could be there to actually help, the fire could definitely be stopped), there are several other ways which we can help:

Eating less meat. I know, some of you are probably going O GAWD NO right now, and some of you (like me) would be wondering how does less meat actually affect climate change? It turns out that “growing food”, you know, rearing livestock, transporting them etc actually turns out to emit quite a huge amount of greenhouse gases.

Also, #cowfarts.

Besides, you don’t have to cut out meat completely, you can just eat a little lesser.

Drive lesser. This is a pretty big DUH,  but yet there are still so many cars on the road. Carpool if you must, but driving lesser (or not having a car at all) saves you plenty of money as well.

Reusable bags are the bomb!

Stop buying clothes that we will throw in our closet and forget about.

Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. And when those clothes finally see the light of day, they would probably be consigned to the bin, from where they will make the journey to a landfill and take ages to decompose. Not to mention it probably already came to you via plane.

Less air-conditioning. This is a killer, especially for my fellow Singaporeans. But trust me, get a good standing fan (kdk is a good option) for your room and most of you will be fine. I used to sleep through the night with the aircon on even though I would wake up with a blocked nose.

Sometime in secondary school after learning that air-conditioning produces a lot of carbon, I would only switch it on a couple of hours and then switch it off before I go to bed, cooling down the room enough for me to fall asleep. Our electricity bill went down noticeably and my parents started doing the same (btw, there were some nights I actually woke up shivering from my kdk fan).

There are also plenty of other ways; changing light bulbs, switching stuff off, reducing food waste, avoiding air travel as much as possible, recycling etc.

It’s very easy for us to feel helpless when confronted with certain situations but I think some proactiveness, actually going to do something about it, would help a lot.

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Egg Shop NYC

I’ve been wanting to visit Egg Shop and finally got the chance to a couple of weeks ago.

I didn’t take any photos so had to resort to lifting this from my Instastory archives 🤣 Plus the photo wasn’t even taken by me (Blurred out her handle for privacy reasons).

I plumbed for the Fish Out of Water while my friend had the Sausage Egg & Cheese and an Americano, and we ordered a side of truffle hash browns.

Verdict?

I wouldn’t mind going back again but she would not 🙊 The Sausage Egg & Cheese is really just a pricier and slightly bigger version of something you can get from Macs.

The Fish Out of Water was good though; 4/5. The bread was a little too hard but the portion of salmon was generous.

Truffle hash browns deserve a 5/5! But I could be biased, because I do like truffle in general. And potatoes in any form. #CarbMonster It’s USD 7 for 2 pieces but it was money well-spent for me!

*

Egg Shop

151 Elizabeth St, New York 10012, USA

Day Trip to Jogashima

When I stayed in Tokyo for training and after I started officially flying, I was pretty game to go out, especially venturing into the outskirts.

But after some time, I started going out lesser to save money and it kind of became a habit. Instead of Japan being a place to explore, it became my second home where I either went to climb, to the nearby malls or just stayed in. Going to town filled me with dread.

Now, faced with the possibility of leaving my job, I decided to take advantage of this ‘unicorn turn’ (so named coz it’s very rare we have an extra clear day in the middle of a turn) to explore again. After some intense Googling, I settled on Jogashima.

I fell sick the night before and felt so awful I considered bailing (even though the whole trip was my idea!!!) but I think I would have slapped myself if I let this rare chance slip by. Thankfully I flew with two other crew who were just awesome ❤

Getting There

We took a train from our hotel to Shinagawa Station, where we transferred to the Keikyu Line for the Misakiguchi-bound train. From Shinagawa to Misakiguchi it’s about 1.5 hours. There’s only one exit at the station, the bus stop is a little on the left when you come out. We basically followed the crowd but make sure the bus you get on says “Jogashima” on the back. There’s another bus that goes to Misaki Port.

I wanted to take pictures so I can explain clearer but I was starting to feel sick again by then so, sorry 😦

First proper view of the sea and first proper breath of fresh sea air. I swear breathing in all that air really made me feel better.

After leaving the lighthouse, we decided to wander out on to the rocks and that’s when my friend spotted Umanose-domon from afar, so we started to excitedly pick our way across the rocks to it.

This is basically the kind of ground we had to cross, it’s fine with sneakers, but there’s actually a proper route on firm ground that leads there as well.

馬の背 Umanose-domon.

I LOVE ROCKS. The shape is naturally formed through erosion from the waves, and I think eventually it might be gone altogether. Grateful I got the chance to see it before that happens!

Please don’t hog the place to take a whole solo photoshoot, because that’s what happened when we were there. Two tourists happily took their own sweet time taking photos and a queue had formed behind us.

From one of the observation decks at the Kenritsu Jogashima Park.

Btw, they have this pass called Misaki Maguro ticket/kippu (which we didn’t get that day, and it actually turned out to be a good thing). It covers bus fare, a meal at 30+ participating restaurants and access to a leisure facility. You can get more info here.

If you don’t already know, maguro is Japanese for tuna, which this place is famous for. A majority of the restaurants sell raw tuna, and might not have any cooked food so please take note if you are not a fan of raw food or just cannot eat raw food.

We stopped at this restaurant called 三崎館支店 香花(Misakikanshiten) mainly because we were so enchanted by the little grandma standing outside waving us in (it’s a damn clever marketing ploy la). But the food was GOOD. They are one of the participating restaurants for the Misaki Maguro ticket I assume, coz she asked us if we had it.

They did have this dish though, without anything raw.

They actually wrote on their menu that the children’s meal is only for those 12 years old and below.. but my friend told the man who took our order that I’m sick and just want a small portion and he relented and said “ok, if anyone asks just say you are a child” HAHAHA 😂

I could only stomach two pieces of the fried tuna, and half the miso soup because I was afraid if I ate too much it would all come back up. But the tuna, miso soup and mugi cha was DAMN BOMB.

I paid Â¥864 for my kiddy meal, but please expect to pay at least Â¥2,000 for a full set meal. I don’t know but I’m pretty sure the Misaki Maguro ticket will not include a full set meal.

The waves ❤️

Anyway, why I said it was a good thing we didn’t get the ticket is because out of the 3 of us that day, I was sick and didn’t dare to eat anything raw, another one of us isn’t a fan of raw food and we actually spent so much time wandering around the island that I think we wouldn’t have had enough time to check out their leisure facilities.

By the time we finished our late lunch/early dinner, it was 5+pm but the town was already pretty quiet and deserted.

But if you eat raw food and plan your trip well, you could consider getting the ticket!

Ok I did not expect this to be such a long post.

She’s so Lucky

(Backdate: it was meant to be published on 27th December 2018 but somehow it wasn’t).

It’s been 4 days since you left me. Four days and a lifetime.

It was the hardest and most adult decision I had ever had to make in my life. It is some comfort to know that you are now healthy and pain-free. I like to think of you gamboling around the Lord’s feet.

The past 15 years flew by so quickly. You would have been 16 in March.

Before we first got you, my brothers and I really wanted a dog. I don’t know where we got that desire from– is it a rite of passage for all parents to suffer through demands for a pet from their children?

I remember I wanted one so bad I secretly posted my mother’s mobile number on a forum, pretending to be her looking for a puppy for her children (LOLOL). This, despite the fact that I had somehow developed a fear of dogs since we gave up our first dog due to the raging sinus problems she gave me.

One day we piled into the car and drove to a residential estate. And there you were, in a brown basket with one of your brothers while your breeder (home breeding wasn’t really an issue then) stood over the both of you. I don’t remember much from that day, where that estate was or how long we spent there.

But I remember squatting down to gaze at the both of you. I remember tentatively stroking your fur. I remember spotting a couple of neighbourhood cats nearby and wondering if you would know to defend yourself against a mean street cat. I remember thinking how innocent you were. I remember shuffling closer to the basket protectively– as if a skinny 11 year old girl could have been an efficient shield against two street cats. I remember sitting in the backseat of our car with you, and your breeder leaning down to wave goodbye and telling you “You so lucky ah, you!”

And we laughed and said, “Eh! That is what we are going to call him!”

*

I was still a little scared around dogs, having largely avoided them for many years before that. I remember hopping up on a small rectangle of space on my kitchen counter as you raced around exploring your new home. I remember you skidding to a stop below me and looking up at me– how I must have looked like to you, a human curled up on a ledge above you and eyeing you with some wariness. I remember you cocked your head and we maintained eye contact for a few seconds before you raced off again.

I remember my dad locked you on the balcony that first night. I remember my younger brother and I sitting at the sliding doors and watching you as you scratched the door, wanting to come back in.

There were nights when I would sleep right at the edge of my bed, dropping half of my blanket on the floor so you could sleep on it until my mother eventually made me stop.

I loved watching you walk, if you could even call it that! It was more of a canter? I don’t know.. it was hilarious and I loved watching your ears flop up and down.

When we brought London home 3 years later and he became the baby, you never cried or whined for attention. You never acted up– never shat where you weren’t supposed to or chewed our stuff up. The mature older brother, except for the times when London would piss you off.

There was the time I stepped into the pet shop to collect London and you, and was pleasantly surprised to see you and the groomer chasing each other around the store. You were already getting on by then, and it soothed my heart to see you energetic and loved.

There were all the times you made me angry, although for the life of me I cannot recall now.

There were also the times you scared me. The first time I remember is you having some sort of a stroke and just lying there while we frantically called a car. Someone came to knock at the door and the next thing we knew, you got up and ran to the door, right as rain again leaving all of us stunned and bemused.

You were the same that last day.

You were too weak to move, while I cradled you in your towel and suddenly you started moving and looking more awake. There were times throughout the years I thought I was gonna lose you but ended up going home with you still.

But that last day I think I knew deep down that I would be walking out of the clinic with empty arms.

I wonder if you knew at the end and whether you welcomed it. I like to think you did– if only just to console myself.

Your things are still lying untouched around the kitchen. It’s painful to see even two food bowls but it’s way too early to even think of clearing your things. I know that even after I clear them you will still be in my heart. The memories won’t fade but maybe with your things around I can still cheat myself into believing, even for just a second, that you are still here with me.

I was so Lucky to have you.

8 hours in Berlin

I went into Berlin for the day and I got a really good deal for the train ticket from Frankfurt on the website Omio.

When I was initially checking out the prices, it came up to SGD 245++ and I decided to think about it. A couple hours later when I went back to the website, the price had somehow dropped to SGD 120 including extra for a reserved seat! There was really no need to think about it anymore, I bought a ticket immediately 🤪

Then I found out that the day I was going to be there was Whit Monday, a public holiday in Germany. I previously spent Easter in Frankfurt and so many places were closed :/ Someone told me that it would be different in Berlin and since I already purchased the ticket I decided to go ahead anyway.

And I’m glad I did!! (Most of the places were still open that day coz I guess Berlin is more touristy than Frankfurt?)

Reichstag Building with its iconic glass dome, that represents the government’s transparency – Open!

Inside the Memorial to the Sinti and Roma of Europe murdered under national socialism.

A short walk down is the Brandenburg Gate. Super crowded of coz.

Another walk down was the main memorial that I wanted to see: Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.

For some reason Google Maps indicated this as a place that was “closed” that day which surprised me coz I had always been under the impression that the memorial was somewhere that anyone can go up to, and not a fenced-off place.

Anyway I was right and you can just walk into it. It was really sobering, and I don’t understand how people can be taking smiling selfies with the memorial.

After walking through it a little, the next stop was the Topography of Terror.

There are displays outside and inside the centre as well.

Checkpoint Charlie– one of the most historically important landmarks in Berlin. You can actually take a full-on photo with the guard like the lady above, which would probably look nicer than this side-angled photo. But you have to pay for it, and well, I… didn’t really want to.

French Cathedral.

Berlin Art Market– there were so many cool things there! It was fun walking through the stalls. There was one that will give you a blown-up painting/photo of your iris (they had a machine that’ll take a photo of your iris) posited on a black background.

This art market was really near the Berlin Cathedral btw.

I really wanted to see the East Side Gallery but sadly I didn’t have enough time 😦 if I ever go back to Berlin that would be the first thing on my list! Although I’m grateful that I got to see the most important thing I chose Berlin for (the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe).

FYI I walked everywhere and it was doable but SO tiring. I think I took around 24,000 steps that day.

Being frugal is ugly

Saving money is hard.

It’s tough, it’s ugly, and it requires a lot of discipline. That’s why a lot of people don’t do it.

But as with all things that start out difficult, there is always a sweet ending to it.

I am not a rich man’s daughter, but neither is my family poor. We are comfortably middle-class, and saving money was a concept that, fortunately, I took to since young. I used a piggy-bank when I was younger and I guess that contributed to my dedication to saving– I liked that I could actually see the money increasing.

Now that I am much older, and with rising inflation, stashing money in a piggy bank is probably not very viable anymore.

After clearing my student debt 2 years ago, I took the opportunity to save as much as I can. I started devouring personal finance blogs and all of them espoused almost identical ‘values’.

Clear (and avoid as much as possible) debt. Emergency fund. Insurance. INVEST. Especially in your 20s.

As I was happily debt-free by then (and still am) and did not foresee myself taking on more loans in the near future, I had to focus on the next 3. Many people recommended starting with a basic $1,000 and by now I have safely squirreled away 8-9 months of expenses and have stopped contributing to that for the time being.

On the insurance front, I would probably be rated “There is still room for improvement”. Wa, throwback from primary school report book days! I have hospitalization and personal accident for now– it’s honestly mainly for if I get injured climbing. Anything that happens at work, I claim from my company (like the time I got hit by a car in NYC).

As for investing though.. I took a long time to actually get started on it. Initially I told myself I’m gonna set aside some money (like an ‘Investment Fund’) while I read up a bit more on it.

I must have taken several months just to open a CDP account, not because it’s troublesome, but I kept procrastinating. I don’t know why either 😦 No, don’t tell me about all the money I’ve missed out on by delaying those few months!

But I eventually reached my goal amount in my Investment Fund, got my CDP account, bought some SSBs and opened a Regular Savings Plan with DBS. There is definitely more that I could do, but if reading all those personal finance blogs taught me one thing, it’s that you don’t invest in something you don’t understand.

And because my understanding is limited risk appetite is actually very small, I felt it was a more prudent decision to leave things as they are for now.

I have also been diligently contributing to a regular savings account and a travel fund as well. I set aside 30% of my monthly income without fail and only after accounting for all my expenses do I save extra. I always have quite a bit left over so it’s easy to simply transfer any extra over.

But circling back to my opening statement, it is hard mentally.

Imagine you have $1,200 to spend before your next pay day and you technically only have a week or so to go. That’s all for discretionary spending. Maybe 1.2k is not a lot to some of you, but to me it’s a pretty big sum.

But then you transfer $500 away and you are only left with $700.

Suddenly you start thinking of all the things you could have bought with that $500, even though you still have $700. If I see a $100 pair of shoes, I could have bought it without worries if I had $1,200 in my account (after all I would still be above 1k balance!), whereas if I have $700 left and I buy the shoes I would only have $600. Not to mention we need to maintain a minimum of $500 account balance every month.*

It’s good because it keeps you from spending unnecessary money but I will be honest and say that sometimes when I look around and see people around my age spending money on expensive shoes and bags and clothes.. it gets hard to persevere.

I’m not particularly drawn to branded items, I guess it’s more the illusion that these people seem to have plenty of money to spend.

A lot of personal finance experts will tell you that ‘the Joneses (or your fave Instagrammers and/or Youtubers) are living a lie and don’t bother keeping up with them’. I agree with the latter, but don’t get too caught up with whether or not they are living a lie. It doesn’t affect you whether they can afford their lifestyle or not, you focus on you.

Regularly checking my balances means that I stay on top of how much I have at any given time, and knowing that I am in a pretty reasonable financial position for my age is a relief. Not to mention the side benefits of having a lump sum at your disposal.

Early last year, my parents were talking of traveling to London. I know my mum has always wanted to go, and when I went to London the year before she secretly wished she could go too.

But London is expensive, no doubt about it. You can tell people to eat all the cheap curry they want, but the tickets from Singapore to London would cost a whopping $1,200 per pax minimum. Of coz you could choose to fly budget but I didn’t want my parents to suffer through that experience.

And it would be suffering, because my parents are not young. Their bodies cannot withstand folding themselves in cramped seats for a 12, 13-hour flight without sustaining some injury.

So I offered to pay for their tickets with Singapore Airlines.

I was actually intending to save up more and surprise them with Business Class tickets to London but that plan got thwarted waaay too early! Although they insisted that they wouldn’t be comfortable (even with premium economy seats), knowing that I paid for it (my mum even said she would rather not go in that case), I’m still saving up for that one day 😛

Anyway, the tickets cost me slightly over $2,600. That amount would have taken me at least 3 months to save up, but it was one of the best things I’ve ever done because seeing my parents plan excitedly for the trip, my dad anticipating watching his precious LFC live, my mum finally getting to visit the city of her dreams.. it was money extremely well-spent. 🙂

It feels weird typing this here because it feels like I’m tooting my own horn. Only two people outside my family know that I bought the tickets but I don’t know who is reading this so it’s ok 😛

*On this minimum balance, I know that unless I lose my job or something happens with my company payroll, the odds that I would go below $500 by the end of the month is very low. After all, I get paid a week or so before the end of the month. But I don’t want to take it for granted and I feel that having this ‘minimum balance mindset’ will force me to be even more prudent with my spending.

Random climbing thoughts

This is probably something I shouldn’t attempt when I’m horribly sleep-deprived but I need somewhere to do a ‘mind dump’ and this is really the only space I have because manual writing isn’t gonna keep up with the rate my thoughts are bouncing all over the place.

I have been a climber for almost 3 years and I will be the first to tell you that I’m not a very good climber. I’ve been through plateaus and after a bad ankle injury a couple of years back I spent months intentionally not challenging myself and only bouldering easy routes.

But I truly love the sport and in the past few months, I’ve been slowly but steadily improving. I’ve always felt more confident on ropes but bouldering is getting slightly less terrifying for me– I no longer look down at the ground and instantly think of broken bones. I’m getting stronger and all this is reflected in my roped climbing as well.

Despite how much I love climbing however, when people go out with me they know I rarely talk about climbing. I don’t jump into a conversation with a “hey so I did this really hard route the other day” or bore non-climbers to tears with terms they don’t fully understand. It only comes up in conversations when people ask what do I do on my off days, my hobbies etc.

A case in point would be at a recent corporate workshop I was forced to attend, one of the icebreakers was for each of us to introduce ourselves, the department we are from and what makes me happy. When it came to my turn, I mentioned climbing. A couple of people around the table were surprised and one of them even told me, “sorry but you don’t look like you climb“.

🤷🏻‍♀️

I wasn’t offended, because I could understand from that person’s point of view, looking at me sitting straight-backed at a table in an OL dress and heels– it probably didn’t fit in to the stereotype of a ‘sporty, outdoorsy person’.

And that’s fine.

What I dislike hearing though is people who, once they learn that I’m a climber, will ask me the standard few questions.

1. “Oh you climb outdoors or indoors?”

2. “You should go to xxx mountain, I climbed up it once -enters monologue about how they walked up a certain mountain-” this usually happens when I visit a climbing gym overseas and they learn that I spent my off day in the gym.

In response to the first question, I will always tell the person politely that in fact I climb both outdoors and indoors. It could always be a query born of genuine interest.

But it always, always results in the person answering with a deflated “.. ohh..”.

Because they were expecting me to say “I only climb indoors” and they can pounce on my answer and tell me with the most self-assured air that “yeah because climbing outdoors is harder” despite having no outdoor climbing experience themselves.

And this always comes from non-climbers. Because a climber, or even someone who has visited a climbing gym, will know from their own experience that even indoor routes are not easy. Outdoors is indeed a whole different world but what really irritates me is that these people wouldn’t even be able to flash a 5A indoors.

In response to the second not-really-a-question, I find that smiling and nodding politely is the easiest way to just avoid the whole conversation.

Sometimes it gets quite infuriating but there really isn’t any point arguing with these people and trying to defend the sport. Wow, I feel so mature.

In all seriousness, I think it’s probably just something that comes with growing older– you become less bothered about certain things. That being said, I really do enjoy bringing people who are genuinely interested to climb!

#avemaria

Many of us would have already heard the news of Notre Dame in Paris– the many photographs of its spires aflame, or of the crowds gathered outside kneeling, crying, praying and singing Ave Maria, all making the rounds on social media.

Other than the immediate effect of the disastrous fire, this tragedy made me reflect on several things.

The thing most striking to me was the emotional reactions of the Parisians. Crying as one of their most famous cultural landmarks, one of their most famous monuments, burned? It seemed unfathomable to me.

Where I come from, if one of our landmarks were to burn down, I doubt many tears would be shed. There would be people who would take to Facebook, or other online forums, to make sardonic comments like “look at my tax money literally going up in flames”. There would be people who would, somehow, manage to twist the disaster to fit their anti-government agendas.

If a fire were to sweep through, say, Chinatown or Little India tomorrow *touch wood*, the only people I can imagine being really devastated would be the older generation, because they would have spent a lot of time since their childhood there, they would have grown up there, watched the districts go through changes, and changed with them as well.

Those from my generation would probably express sympathy, maybe reacting with a crying emoji on shared Facebook posts and news updates, murmuring “damn sad leh” when talking about it with friends, but that is probably the extent of how it would affect us.

I don’t think it is really anybody’s fault– perhaps we have not learned to appreciate such cultural places in our own country simply because of a different way of upbringing, or simply because ‘the grass is always greener on the other side’, so to speak.

However, I have had the privilege to visit Paris a handful of times and while I would never claim myself to be an expert on human behaviour, through my interactions and observations with the French I found that the claim that the French are very proud of their country and culture to be extremely true.

This is not the case in Singapore though.

I really don’t want to get into a political discussion but I do think that, good government or not, we could really try and appreciate what we have here, myself included.

How much time do we spend on social media?

Here we go, slagging off social media again!

In all honesty, we do spend a lot of time on social media and it’s mostly doing nothing. So for the past week or so, I decided to simply spend less time on Instagram.

In the past I have done a couple of social media and Instagram-specific fasts (I don’t spend a lot of time on Facebook, I have no snapchat and I am rarely on tumblr now so it was actually really only Instagram that was taking up the bulk of my screen time). It generally went like this: I would set a certain time that Instagram is off-limits such as 10am-10pm for example, and it would last for 3-5 days. I wasn’t sure if I should go for a total fast because I didn’t want to end up ‘making up for lost time’ after the fast ended.

This time it was an informal, unplanned decision to just spend less time on Instagram.

Did you know Instagram tracks your activity now? If you go to your Settings, it shows you an average of how much time you have spent in the app in the last week.

For a while, my average hovered at 44-45 minutes. One time it shot up to 1hr 5 minutes. I was shocked. 1 hour every day??? I’m not even doing much on the app to be honest, I mostly look at climbing gyms’ feeds and the first few instastories.

So I decided to cut down this average time.

And I got it down to 22 minutes after this last week!

For someone like me who doesn’t use Instagram for business, to reach out to contacts etc, there really was no reason for me to be spending a whole freaking hour on Instagram every day. It just comes so automatically to us to jump on social media and while away time scrolling through news feeds, even when we are out with our loved ones.

Let’s try and focus more on what we are doing in the moment, rather than turning to our phones for entertainment!