Blue coffee mug Coffee at Rocket cafe in Bangkok

Bangkok in contrasts

Bangkok is changing very rapidly, just like any other major city in Asia. The interesting thing about Bangkok is that you’ll find areas that have become something entirely cosmopolitan overnight next to others that aren’t changing at the same rate (or at all).

Two sides of a lightrail train station in central Bangkok
2013-09-28 16.52.15_smallfile2013-09-28 16.53.52_smallfile

Indoor eating
2013-09-28 19.02.50_smallfile
Outdoor eating
2013-10-01 18.43.35_smallfile

New school transportation
BTS Sky Train in Bangkok, Thailand
Old school transportation
Bus in Bangkok, Thailand

The new BTS trains ran really smoothly and were very convenient to get around. I never ventured to take a bus, and was honestly a little intimidated by them. You have to know what you’re doing to take those, and generally only locals took the buses. Taxis are pretty cheap, but if you get stuck in traffic, you’ll be there for ages!

Low rise living / High rise living
Apartments near the BTS station in Bangkok, Thailand
Park in Bangkok

I hope to understand more about Thailand, but from what I’ve seen in Bangkok it is not so simple as what can be seen as a short term visitor!

Meow Parlour shopfront

Inside the Meow Parlour cat cafe in New York City

Back in December, I wrote about going to the first official cat cafe in New York City as being one of the things on my to do list when I visited home. This past May, I finally made it there…for about half an hour.

I thought I would want to stay for hours. But I didn’t. The cats were beautiful and cute enough, but it just didn’t feel like the cat cafe that I’ve been waiting for. (And maybe this cat feels the same way).

Back of cat in large letter O

Cat looking out at Meow Parlour in NYC

All of the cats are up for adoption and looked really healthy, which is great! They had 2 binders jammed full with information about the cats and you could browse the wall that also included info on what types of personalities each of the cats had. There were plenty of toys and playthings.

The seating and play area itself, though, was really small. The seating was either high stools, or low cushions on the ground, which made it a little awkward to transition from if you got something to eat or drink. We didn’t get anything to drink, but did order a few baked goods that were made at the sister bakery around the corner. The problem was that if you didn’t physically go over to look at them, you didn’t know how big things were. I ordered a cat shaped cookie (see below) and it turned out to be smaller than I expected. It was about 2 inches in width, and very thin. I can’t believe I paid so much for it, even though the flavor was an interesting one.

Interesting flavor, but not worth the $2! This was tiny!

Interesting flavor, but not worth the $2! This was tiny!

Cat time

I wouldn’t recommend expecting much of a cafe experience here. If you like to cat-watch, then you’ll have a good time. Considering that it seemd many of the cats couldn’t care less that you were there, plus the people to cats ratio in a small space, the experience didn’t really impress me. It started to feel crowded inside, so my sister and I ended up mostly hanging out by the front with one or two cats who didn’t really care for us all that much.

I know cats aren’t always friendly and up for playing, but I was hoping for more. The seating area could be better laid out, even though it is small. I’m not claustrophobic, but I was starting to feel that way just by looking at how many people were in the back trying to play with cats. I would suggest getting rid of the high tables and stools, and just making it one big play area. It’s not much of a cafe, and that’s ok. They should refocus and just do one thing really well if they can’t do both!

If you’re interested, you can book your first half hour slot online with their booking system and then pay more depending on how long you stay. In the end, Meow Parlour is really just a Manhattan sized space to hang out with cats who may or may not be interested in hanging out with you.

Cat towers over buildings!

Cat towers over buildings!

Girl holding sparkler

HOoray, I’m thirty! Let’s make shit happen!

Last week…it happened…I turned 30 years of age.

Nothing special happened, and the next day my country recognized same-sex marriage as a right, so my birthday became even more of a non-event. I don’t mind.

If my Facebook feed could be this full of people celebrating something this wonderful all the time, I would be happy forever.

I’ve never really celebrated my birthday, and I generally don’t like being the center of attention. I even felt somewhat of a twinge of selfishness when planning a small outing for my 30th birthday with a handful of friends and my sister.

I think this is because I don’t believe in asking other people to celebrate me (and my birth). Why should they care to? I know it is a fun excuse to get together, have some drinks, etc. But a part of me feels self conscious about it still.

I’m 30. Ok, I’m getting older. No one cares, except for maybe my mom and the guys on Tinder and OkCupid who may now exclude me from their age ranges.

I’d rather celebrate each day, trying to be the truest me that I can be. I don’t want to hear about other people’s insecurities about turning thirty anymore. I don’t want to read another article trying to justify to 30-something women that they should feel good about themselves.

We shouldn’t need to hear that from someone else. We should hear that from ourselves.

So, let’s spend our time trying make more stuff happen like what went down on June 26th, 2015. Let’s go!

Image credit: Morgan Sessions

Sunset over the ocean

Young white male asks me for money. Thoughts on #whiteprivilege from a tropical island

I feel like I almost got scammed. I was waiting to get on the ferry off of the island in Thailand to make my way back to Bangkok to catch a flight.

While sitting on a bench, a young white male comes up to me and starts talking to me. At first I don’t understand what he saying, partly because he has an accent and partly maybe because he was speaking quickly. He repeated himself, “Could you give me 100 baht for the ferry…”

My gut immediately refused him. I said I’m sorry but I don’t have any change. Sure, 100 Thai baht is little more than 3 US dollars, but I didn’t feel compelled to give this young white guy my money. Why should I when this person, just by luck of birth, has all the advantages in the world. Why should I, a young, poor, female, minority (in my country) student, give him, a young, seemingly healthy, white, man, my money?

I saw him ask other people for money. Two different older, white men, and two white girls who looked like they were traveling together. Then he grabbed his bag and walked off in the opposite direction of the ferry.

Was he scamming people?

This thought crossed my mind, but I wasn’t sure. I didn’t see him come back to the ticket window. Maybe he didn’t get enough in the end to buy a ticket. Who knows?

What pissed me off the most was his attitude in response to me. I guess maybe I would have responded in a similar way, but he seemed to know that I was making up an excuse because I just didn’t want to give him any of my money. He had a tone of knowing. And he said “whatever.” That word alone in this tone and context made me angry.

Maybe my tone was part of the problem. I can’t tell because I was just saying what I felt like saying on impulse, but maybe I had a slight condescending tone. I said I didn’t have change, but I didn’t check for any either. Maybe I just know very well what money I do have on my person, and also I just didn’t want to give him money.

In any case, that interaction lasted all of 20 seconds and he walked off without any money from me. I don’t know what happened to him, and I don’t think he remembers me for a second.

Bottle Beach on Koh Phangan, your typical touristy beach in Thailand

Bottle Beach on Koh Phangan, your typical touristy beach, white males included

I left this post a bit half done because I accomplished what I meant to do already. I let off some steam and put down some thoughts.

I’m letting this go now. It’s done. I may have been wrong, maybe I was right. It doesn’t matter.

I’ve been reading a bit about Buddhism, and mindfulness, and meditation, and if I’ve learned anything it’s that these types of things are transient. So I’m letting it go!

A chandelier with rows of lights I'm...gonna swing...

A New Yorker’s bucket list for the holiday season in New York

New York is less smelly this time of year, and generally happier. You might still witness a cranky commuter or two (or a few million), but the overall atmosphere quietly shifts during the holiday season. Maybe it is the shopping high that everyone is on.

My toes tell me it’s cold, but my hair couldn’t be happier to escape the humidity of Singapore. I’m back in New York, and I have a few things I’m looking forward to this holiday season.

Thanksgiving

The radio station playing in the kitchen has already started with the Christmas carols. The sales have started. I’m in the mood for hot chocolate. But first, my favorite holiday of the year is Thanksgiving, which is in less than one week! The best part is definitely the sticky rice stuffing that my dad puts in the turkey. It isn’t like your usual bread stuffing! I’ll get some photos this year and post a recipe sometime after, but the gist of it is sticky rice with celery, chestnuts, and onions.

The tree at Rockefeller Center

It is always a bit sad to know that a tree was sacrificed to be placed at Rockefeller Center each year, but it is still nice to see once in a while. They also usually have a light show on one of the buildings nearby, and then there are the windows at Saks Fifth Avenue which can’t be beat. You can’t help but smile when you are surrounded by people who are just as happy to be alive as you are. Even the tourists are less annoying, except when it is packed and you can’t get through the crowd. I think I’ll go at a non-peak time.

Those other lights, on Broadway

I would like to see Pippin if possible. I still need to see the Lion King, but anything else that might be affordable would do as well. If you are looking at my track record, you might be ashamed for me for not taking advantage of all the good shows that go on in New York. I’ve seen 2 shows this year so far, and that is more than the past 10 years combined already…

Stage with map curtain and green lights

Wicked the Musical stage before the show

Cat cafe

Finally! There will be a cat cafe in NYC, opening on December 15th. I’ve got a browser tab open waiting for the moment I can book my half hour slot (who am I kidding, probably more than just that…). I probably post too many cat photos already, but it can’t be helped. You can fork out $4 for half an hour, or $30 for 5 hours. The cost effective approach would suggest that I opt for the latter…

Long walks with Sidney

Two of my close friends in New York have a dog, the one you see in the photo. I went on a long, snowy walk with them earlier this year. She is not only stunning, but fun to be around. The humans are pretty cool, too. 😉

If you haven’t done much exploring of Upper Manhattan (which you should), I would suggest checking out Inwood Hill Park and the Cloisters. It is much less crowded than Central Park and apparently has caves, and the Cloister are basically a castle by the river. Yeah, it’s that cool, and you can get there within 40 minutes from Midtown!

Dog in snowy woods

Sidney in Inwood Park, Manhattan, New York

Visit my favorite restaurant

Pisticci has been my favorite restaurant in New York since about 6 years ago. It is proudly one of the few green restaurants, sourcing things locally. It also happens to make delicious Italian food, and conveniently hidden in my neighborhood.

Pasta with peas, mushrooms, and cheese

Fresh homemade pasta at Pisticci



Ok, so this might be a pretty short bucket list, but I don’t want to get my expectations too high and then not deliver. I still have loads of friend and family time that need to get squeezed in somehow.

Wherever you are this season, what is on your list?


#TravelTuesday

Pizza with bacon, cheese shavings, arugula or rocket, and egg in the middle The English Breakfast, $24 SGD

Skinny Pizza Review (Westgate Mall, Jurong East, Singapore)

I shared a pizza at Skinny Pizza in Singapore (Westgate Mall, Jurong East), and thought I’d do a quick review. Its style of pizza uses a crunchy, cracker like base instead of the doughy base that pizza is known for. This is probably what makes it so “skinny,” because it will have fewer calories than a traditional pizza crust (even thinner than thin crust).

Skinny Pizza restaurant sign

Skinny Pizza in Westgate Mall in Jurong East, Singapore

There were lots of options for pizzas, and other items too, but we only focused on the pizza. Most ranged from $23 to $30. Continue Reading

Box lid with the side ripped Damaged box with the lid on

First bad experience with airline handling my luggage

I’ve never had an issue with my luggage when going across the world several times in the past several years. I’ve never checked in anything very valuable, and I’ve always used a lock to deter unnecessary tampering.

But, this time on Jet Airways, some of my items were damaged pretty badly. I was shocked to see the state of my boxes:

Box lid torn at two corners and along one side

My damaged box lid

This feels sketchy to me because

  1. The main damage was to the lids to the two boxes, mainly on the larger box.
  2. Nothing else seemed to have been touched.

Continue Reading

brunch menu on wooden table Ambience was nice at W 39 Bistro, I'll give them that!

W 39 Bistro review (Clementi, Singapore)

The nice part about living in a new place is finding little things tucked away that make you feel like you know a secret. W 39 Bistro is one of those things. It is smack in the middle of a residential area (landed properties, aka houses, which are not that common in Singapore). It is in the West along the East-West line, the nearest train station is the Clementi MRT station.

I went to W 39 Bistro on two occasions: once for brunch, and once for dinner. The brunch wasn’t a real brunch, because we only ordered coffees and the bread basket. The dinner was a light one, where we only ordered appetizers and tapas and no mains. I had some issues with feeling really cheated on one dish, but overall the experience was ok.

Ceiling fans, always a plus in Singapore

Ceiling fans, always a plus in Singapore

The Brunch

The coffee was pretty good. Not insanely special or anything, but good. I had a flat white.

Flat white at W 39 Bistro (Singapore)

A flat white coffee, $4.5 SGD

Same with the bread basket. Pretty decent selection of different types of bread, but nothing to shout about.

Assorted bread basket, comes with regular butter and jam

Assorted bread basket, comes with regular butter and jam, $7 SGD


Continue Reading

Feet in yellow shoes tiled floor Taking a look at myself

Women wear what they want to in Singapore, or How awesome it is that there is no catcalling in Singapore

Sure you have heard that Singapore is a safe and clean city, or that it’s the most expensive city in the world to live in (mostly skewed by the price of cars, which are not essential, but that is another story). But what you may not know is that women wear what they want to in Singapore. It’s remarkable, and simultaneously a sign of old stereotypes/gender roles and a sign of hope in the face of gender issues. There are a few things that I really like and admire about Singapore, and this is one of them.

The recent video of a woman walking in New York City has gone viral because it shows just how much harassment a woman can receive just by walking around in New York City. I’m so glad that they are drawing attention to this issue, because this is at the root of what I don’t like about NYC. Catcalling is nonexistent in Singapore, which one reason why I think women can have the freedom to dress as they wish.

My feet in yellow shoes

Taking a look at myself

Fashion freedom

In Singapore, at first, I was a slightly appalled that so many women wore short dresses and skirts around campus, offices, malls, wherever. I found myself thinking things like “that’s too short” or “that is too see-through” or “that is way too fancy for just being on campus.” The thing is, women here can wear whatever they want to, without having to worry about their safety, or other people thinking that they are slutty. In fact, you could maybe say that most people in Singapore are quite conservative when it comes to sexuality, but that is another story.

In any case, I was judging them, and by standards that I would say almost sound like the ultra conservatives who blame the victims (I’m ashamed to say).

BUT I’ve realized now that I’m not truly offended or appalled by the way that they are dressing…I’m actually jealous of them. I’m jealous that they feel confident and secure enough to walk out of their homes in the clothes that they like. I’m jealous that it’s not a big deal to them.

Most of all, I’m jealous that I haven’t been able to do the same.

Continue Reading

What should the next theme be? #morethemeparties

It’s that feeling of things aren’t quite right. It’s not hard to live in Singapore, but it isn’t perfect. You’re not exactly depressed, but you can’t call it happiness either. I’m calling it the Singapore Slump.

Why is this happening to us?

My friends and I have narrowed down some of the reasons to be the price of alcohol and the incessant heat and humidity. It isn’t a city that is very friendly to people without very much money, which I’ll discuss in more detail in an upcoming post. We’re trying to make the most of it by working hard when we need to, and then getting creative with more theme parties. Otherwise, it is easy to fall into a state of routine where your mood is at a constant low.

Me with my hair in a beehive

My hair gave me at least an extra 6 inches

The Themes

One solution that we have come up with has been to have more theme parties, such as Eurotrash/Glamazon, Malaysian+Singaporean 1960s psychedelic pop, bananas, and hats. The beauty of a theme party is that you can be silly. You can escape your day-to-day in a fun and easy way, without having to really do that much work.

We got really into the first two themes, with the hair, the clothes, the nails, and the makeup. But the other themes were simpler and just required some preparation.

It’s a good way to flex your creativity muscle, and, especially with Halloween this week, witty themes and costumes are so much better.

It gives us something to get excited about that is not the usual dinner and a movie type thing.

The photos from the Eurotrash/Glamazon party turned out to be a little more scandalous, but here’s what my hair looked like at the 60s party. To give you an idea, for the Eurotrash party I wore a leopard print, tight, wide neck dress with 3/4 sleeves, and that ended just under my butt.

And at the banana party, the main event was, of course, the banana. So we had a selection of banana-y goodness including banana bread and banana salsa.

Gluten free banana bread

Gluten free banana bread with walnuts and nice sugar crust on top

Spicy banana salsa in a bowl

Spicy banana salsa with red, green and yellow bell peppers, green onion, and cilantro

What will be the next theme?

I’m leaving Singapore in a few weeks for an extended period of time. We need a theme for my going away party. I was thinking maybe gender role swap? Or maybe favorite color? In any case, that will probably happen 2 weeks from now.

What do you suggest? I want to know!