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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?
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headstones on the grassy hill Bukit Brown Singapore Bukit Brown cemetery in Singapore, August 2014

[Photo Journal] Walk through Bukit Brown

Bukit Brown is an old cemetery in Singapore. It is one of the more natural areas on the island, but is under heavy construction now to build a highway through it. I went on a walk through it with some friends a few months ago, and it was really cool to be in such a quiet and secluded place. So if you are looking to escape the crowded malls, try going there for a walk or a jog.
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[Photo Journal] A walk in the snow through parks in New York

On Sunday, I went on a walk with 2 good friends and their dog in Fort Tyron Park and Inwood Hill Park in New York. The weather was great, and it was so quiet!
Yesterday was my first day “back” in the routine of living and working in New York City. New York is my hometown, which decided to welcome me back from the tropics with snow and freezing temperatures. Awesome! Haha, but really, I’m glad to be back!

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Good humor is a tonic for mind and body. Good humor is a tonic for mind and body. The Terrace, a restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand

2013 in signs and sayings, plus life lessons for 2014

On my travels to various parts of Asia, I often stop and take photos of interesting signs or pieces of English that I find interesting. Here’s a list of life lessons that we can glean from signs I’ve come across in 2013.

We all need money…

"Press for money" sticker on a crosswalk button in Singapore.

“Press for money” sticker on a crosswalk button in Singapore.

…but it isn’t worth going to jail.

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The communal cats of Singapore

Many apartment complexes in Singapore have communal cats that are fed by people who live in the various buildings. You’ll often find residents sitting at tables with benches in the open air communal areas on the ground level, feeding the cats and playing with them. These are the communal cats of Singapore.

How this cat hides from sun

It gets warm and sunny in Singapore, and the communal cats have a few favorite spots around the apartment complexes. On my morning commute which takes me through the parking lot to the bus stops on the other side of the road, I usually see this cat curled up in the shade of some motorebikes.
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Leaving Sakaerat today…and some thoughts on meeting Americans abroad

Chewy in Sakaerat

I’m leaving Sakaerat today! I’m a bit sad to go, definitely because the people here have been great and the nature and wildlife have been amazing. I wish I could come back, and I’m glad that I came. The colleague I came to visit has some really impressive research going on here, and I’m glad that I got to go out and search for her study species (Chiromantis hansenae) with her field team.
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Side trip from Tokyo! Lake Ashi in Hakone, Japan

When I was in Japan in June, I took a 2 day trip to Hakone which is in the nearby mountains. Lake Ashi is a crater lake surrounded by mountains. Going for the lake itself is worth the trip from Tokyo! I went in June for 2 days, 1 night, and enjoyed the ferries from dock to dock. It takes a few hours by train and other transportation to get from Shinjuku to the lake, but totally worth it! You can get the Hakone Pass for 2 or 3 days which allows you to take the train and then the cable car, ropeway, and the main ferry company. It is beside Mount Hakone which is a volcano that last erupted 3000 years ago, when it formed a caldera that has gradually filled with water over the years. The lake was really the main draw for me. It was relaxing to just be on the water and breath in the fresh air. It got a bit breezy and chilly, but I didn’t mind. It was glorious to be on a boat on a beautiful lake and see green mountains all around! I spent most of my free time taking the ferry from dock to dock, and had just enough time to check out the Hakone Shrine (箱根神社, Hakone Jinja) before catching the last ferry back to where I stayed.

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Fun stuff and a quick lunch at Tokyu Hands Department Store in Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan! And possibly the best mechanical pencil ever!

Tokyu Hands is a department store in Japan that has sections of floors dedicated to various things you might need. I swear that half a floor was filled with pens, pencils, and other writing implements. Another half of a floor was dedicated to paper and paper goods. They also have DIY, kitchen, model planes and vehicles, and several other categories. According to their website, sushi goods, health related goods, train related goods, hot/cold insulated boxes for food, and grooming goods are the top 5 most popular among customers. But they do seem to have a bit of everything!

Update: They also have 2 locations in Singapore now.
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