Image Slider

Audio Book : Year of Yes ! & The Stranger

September 30, 2016

I've been searching high and lo for Shonda Rhimes book : Year of Yes - How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun and Be your Own Person, since last year. It was published Nov last year and I still haven't seen it around in local bookstores. 

Grey's new season 13 has just started last week, and I've been watching A LOT of Scandal lately - so at the office, I tried to find Shonda's Ted talk and her commencement speech at Youtube, until I came across her audio book. I didn't waited to just hit play and I listened to the whole book reading. Took 2 days of office hours to finish the 7 hours audio reading. But, yes, it was the best thing I listened to lately. Her inspiring stories, her motivational speeches, her problems, difficulties and how she coped with that. Everything about her as an introverted shy writer/successful TV producer is inspiring. I love how she relates her stories with the growth of her own Tv series over the years. I looooooove. I'm recommending her books to the world.
There is no list of rules. There is one rule. The rule is: there are no rules. Happiness comes from living as you need to, as you want to. As your inner voice tells you to. Happiness comes from being who you actually are instead of who you think you are supposed to be. Being traditional is not traditional anymore. It’s funny that we still think of it that way. Normalize your lives, people. You don’t want a baby? Don’t have one. I don’t want to get married? I won’t. You want to live alone? Enjoy it. You want to love someone? Love someone. Don’t apologize. Don’t explain. Don’t ever feel less than. When you feel the need to apologize or explain who you are, it means the voice in your head is telling you the wrong story. Wipe the slate clean. And rewrite it. No fairy tales. Be your own narrator. And go for a happy ending. One foot in front of the other. You will make it. - Shonda Rhimes
Af said that not everyone can listen to audio stuffs and still focus on their work - like doing 2 things at once kind of thing. But I thought listening got nothing to do with other things that we are doing during that time? I forgot that he's a man, and men rarely can do several things simultaneously. For that, too bad.

Extra note :

I've been watching a lot of free iFlix lately. My current obsession is another Shonda Rhimes' series; Scandal starring the amazingly beautiful Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope, working in a crisis management firm along with her awesome sidekicks. I've never watched any of Scandal series until early this month and I already managed to almost end the forth season. Imagine my dedication!

I've been a big fan of Shonda Rhimes; the tv producer/writer for the past 10 years - when Grey's Anatomy was aired in those several early seasons in Malaysia. So my brother and I loyally followed all the updates and discussed on certain things that happened in the series for awhile now. We both are her dedicated loyal fans - and even watched the series front-to-back several times already, even though there are 12 seasons in counting, and know most of Grey's song, and read Grey's quotes randomly :D Like I said, we are both loyal fans of Grey's Anatomy.

So Scandal shouldn't be all too alien for me, I like the pace, the suspense, the character development, the tangled storylines, the nice perfect quotes, the new self-created words, the glimpse of all familiar faces from Grey's Anatomy + Private Practice - crossover *like Grey's parents, Jake, Stephanie, etc, the good-looking main characters, Olivia and of course, Fitz. Fitz, the president of US, the 'older' man I can't help to love. Ha.


After I finished the book, I listened to Albert Camus's novella - The Stranger, 1942. The original version was written in French, called L'estranger, a philosophical fiction. It's a first-person narrative so along the story, I was listening to the character's monologue before and after the incident that changed the course of his life. I loooooooooved it. Never really tried any of his other books even though I have one of his book : The Rebel for quite some time now. 
I looked up at the mass of signs and stars in the night sky and laid myself open for the first time to the benign indifference of the world. - Albert Camus

The book was so good, it was not enough.
Can't wait for his other audio books next week :D

Singapore Trip 1 : Public Garden, Suntec Convention Hall

September 29, 2016

The decision for my 25th booth :
I've booked for the event so many months ago when I was still working as a freelancer. Along the way between my new job and Bromo run, Zika came into the picture. It hit Singapore in September and it was spreading slowly, calmly. My mom was worried, Af's mom was worried. So I couldn't decide on whether I should go or I should just cancel the trip. Every day I checked on the news  about Singapore : Zika, it was there, slowly spreading, not like wild fire. But like a really old lady trying to cross the road. Alarmingly slow, but it was there nonetheless.

I finally decided on going 4 days before the event. I booked the flight ticket and hotel for Saturday morning - the event day, and to get back home as soon as possible after the event ended on Sunday, that night. The original plan was to drive to Singapore on Friday, after work with my siblings and Af. But I decided to cut everything short and just go to Singapore for the event instead. Af wanted to join me in my first international event, so he booked the ticket as well. 
The flight costed around RM 200 for return ticket and addition of 20kg to bring all my doodle items in a huge luggage. As for the hotel booked nearest to where the event took place in Suntec City, I spent around RM 300. There wasn't any places cheaper than that, other than hostel - which I'm trying to avoid in this trip. 


The event's day : 

The weekend started fast. We woke up at 2.15am, and by 3.00am we were both already in front of Ma's apartment, waiting for Ma and Aja. They sent us to KLIA2, by 4.00am we already checked in and sent my luggage. Our flight was scheduled to board at 6.00am, so we had a quick breakfast at Mc'Donald inside while waiting. I will forever hunted by the cancelled flight to Cambodia because of my own recklessness and I'm avoiding that to happen again the best way I can by being several hours early.

One hour later, we arrived at Changi Airport. First thing first, I took a free map at the customer service. After my previous backpack trip in Tokyo, I have a habit of collecting city map at the airport. It's always free, and it helps a lot. Studying the map was pretty easy, especially their train system. It is exactly like what we have here in KL. 

We took the train from Terminal 2 to MRT and to get to Promenade, we had to change 2 times. At Tanah Merah and Paya Lebar. Simple as that. Everything was nicely labelled and pointed to the location. We just had to follow the arrow.
And so we arrived at Suntec quite early, the shopping malls weren't open yet. Except of Giant, where I bought several things to eat like bread, biscuits and boxed juice. We found a foodcourt afterwards so we decided to stay there for awhile, to wait until the convention centre open. I sketched that morning's story in my sketch book while Af read Haruki's novella, After Dark - until 11.30am when the hall opened.

The event :

The hall was big, packed with rows and rows of tiny wooden desk and 2 chairs. I was excited, full with energy. My very first international event ! I thought to myself. And so Af helped me getting ready for our booth and I took several stories to be shared in my Instagram - because yes, I was super excited. I haven't feeling like this for quite some time. 

The business later was a bit slow, getting my first customer took some time. The hall was really cold, packed with a lot of human all around and I was again, like the person I am, I began to feel awkward and out of place. That's the price of being an introvert. Things were tough for both Af and me, these two awkward Malaysians trying our their luck in neighbouring countries. It was even harder for me to make decent conversation with people. I managed to nod, and smile and answer gibberishly.

Those 2 days of coldness, packed with human like tinned sardine, barely any sales - just a decent $150 collected in 2 days. All by selling stickers only - which was impressive. I met fellow Malaysians : Minifanfan, Eeching, Evangelione, Noemo, HappyDoory, Mossery, also famous Indonesians : Heimlo and Naela Ali from Asobi. Most of the names that I've been stalking in my social media platforms. 

My highest point at the event was when I met Yellowmushmellow for the first time, in person. She was with her sister, she stretched her hand to give me a handshake - which I reached awkwardly. I hardly remember what I said to her, I think I answered to her questions, I was being awfully shy and awkward. Like I never wanted to meet her in person or something - padahal I've been wanting to meet her for so long, I am her biggest fan. Ever. I don't think that was even possible, for anyone to be so unpleasantly shy in meeting their idol in person. Haiyooh. She later gave me a pack of present, the one she was supposed to send during last Raya on her random Eid gift-away. I opened it gleefully after we bid goodbye to each other. 

She has no idea how highly I think of her.
Thank you Aida, I really-really-really like it - A LOT.


Outside of the event :

We walked in Bugis Street and Bras Basah area on Sunday morning. We managed to find a mamak's small restaurant in near Bencoolen for breakfast. Later using the small map, we searched for any malls with stationary shops for me to buy a pencil lid :D The one I've been using finished the day before so I couldn't doodle anything in my sketch book. The short morning walk turned into a pencil-lid-hunting. After 2 malls, we finally found one in Bugis Junction and then we headed to the event's place right away for our final day booth opening. There wasn't any exploration much other than that morning's short walk.

Note :
Everything in Singapore is commercialised and expensive *the rate is times 3, guys. So there's nothing much to do if you go there without wanting to spend much. Plus, I only brought SGD100 in this trip, just for the change when people buy things and foods.


Thoughts on the event & market :

Based on my personal rough observation I noticed that Singaporean got different taste than Malaysians. I saw what they picked up, how they lighten up when they saw certain objects. Even though at first I thought everything depend solely on each people's preferences, like certain people like certain things just because they feel connected to certain items - this wasn't the case at all. I managed to see an obvious pattern when I saw that they like vectorised-stickers a lot compared to hand-drawn digital illustrations. At first I felt like it was rather odd - because for me, vectorised illustrations are a bit stiff and not so personal. I mean, any designer can do vectorised illustration, right? - so as a designer myself I don't feel connected to my own vectorised works. Or something like that. But they keep on picking up those same stickers over and over again. So I'm guessing they do have a certain taste and style that they all agree to appreciate.

So in my case, I didn't meet the right market. I am a designer, but I try not to sell my designs - I'm more prone to my own hand-drawn illustrations. Outside of my designer's bubble, I like to think of myself as a self-exclaimed illustrator. So, yeah.

I already got an invitation to open another booth in the same event for Christmas and according to other Malaysian independent artists - the sales are much-much better and the crowd will be more overwhelming than this, so they are definitely joining. As for me, I think I need to change my technique for different market. I decided to not join their next event in December.
Note : Booth fees was SGD$200, I managed to collect SGD$150. So minus flights and hotel, I think I didn't really reach my target. Although it was a failed attempt, it is still nice to see a new environment, and new international market. Just to see how deep the lake is. Dip, dip, dip. Until next time :) 
Plus, I really need to think of ways to improve my props and make them all easy to travel and not so heavy and nice to the eyes, because obviously my stickers are expanding like there's no tomorrow :

Books : Re-reading Books and Guilty Spending

September 19, 2016

I chose to bring Haruki Murakami's : What I Talk About when I Talk About Running for my previous trip to Indonesia. I think it's my third time to re-read the book. It was a great choice, seeing that I went to Bromo for my 10km trail run. It feel like it might get me all motivated and inspired before the run.

I actually finished the book after the run - the second last day, so the Haruki's fire didn't help me much during my worst 10km trail run that weekend :D But reading his DIY marathon in Athen-Marathon is inspiring, the training for his Ultramarathon is inspiring, the fact that he runs almost every single day for more than 30 years is inspiring. So I should definitely re-read the book every year, to keep me going strong. ♥ 


There is an old caucasian lady at my office selling books and novels near my office every Thursday. She opens her booth every week, and I try not to stop by every so often. Once I was searching for Neil Gaiman's : The Graveyard Boy - the one that was illustrated by Chris Riddell. I asked her, and she told me that she has several more of Neil's book at home that she will bring for me. I booked Orhan Pamuk's first book that was translated to English by Faber : The White Castle that I found as well.

So then I bought those 2 books and avoid stopping by at her small booth anymore. I'm really looking forward to buying Roald Dahl's books in the future. Here is an illustrations of my new books ! 


I also bought a 112-pages graphic novel : Soppy by Philippa Rice , found the single book in Borders, ioi City Mall :D It is a compilation of quirky comic + illustration inspired by her own real-life moments, living with her boyfriends. There are a lot of moments that I can relate to, since I'm living with my husband in a small one-room apartment, sharing spaces, silly arguments and all.

Note : You can buy this for your partner during your anniversary or valentines day. Looove.
True love isn’t always about the big romantic gestures. Sometimes it’s about sympathising with someone whose tea has gone cold, watching TV and sharing a quilt, or allowing your partner to order take-away pizza again. When two people move in together, it soon becomes apparent that the little things mean an awful lot. The throwaway moments in life become meaningful when you spend them in the company of someone you love. Soppy is Philippa Rice’s collection of comics based on real-life moments with her boyfriend. From grocery shopping to silly arguments and snuggling in front of the television, Soppy captures the universal experience of sharing a life together. - Philippa Rice

Last week I bought another 2 books ! This time, Haruki Murakami's : After Dark + After the Quake. I actually read these books several years back from a pirated e-book my friend shared with me. These 2 books are the thinnest books among all Haruki's books and they are both priced as expensive as all the other books : so I didn't buy them right-away. I read the pirated version in one-shot :D Guilty as charged.

But last week I saw that Borders was having a promotion on all Haruki's books : "Buy One Get the Second One for Half Price" and I took those two books without further thinking. Told Af that it's a present for myself la, to reimbursed my tax this year la, for finishing up my long awaited freelance work la, apa la. He didn't buy it. He knows I just buy books because I want to buy books - for no reasons. Ha.

Anyway, I'm currently re-reading After the Quake and almost finish it. 


And for the Game of Thrones : Book 1 - I finished it. I watched the series concurrently while I read the novel, and watching the series was much much faster than the reading itself. I can't keep up. I decided to not continue reading all the series and wait to watch the series instead. 

Bromo Trip 7 : All Link Posts + Video

September 17, 2016

Here are all the links from our Bromo Trip :

1.0 - Pre-Planning 01
1.1 - Pre-Planning 02
2.0 - Detailed Costs for 5 days 4 nights
3.0 - Airbnb Hostel in Surabaya : Kamariska Hostel
4.0 - Our Bromo Sunrise : Mount Penanjakan
5.0 - Savannah + Whispering Sands + Bromo Creater
6.0 - Bromo Marathon 2016 : Our 10km Run

We had a really short travel and it wasn't even considered as an exploration because it was so hard to get from one point to another in Surabaya and Bromo - so mostly on car, jeep and van. We hardly go anywhere on foot - so I consider this just as a DIY tour travel and run event. 


Here is a video compilation Af made from the trip :
Please ignore my hormonal imbalance pimply-red face. 
Af refused to delete my part in the video =.=

Note :
Our next trip is in next February + March again to Japan, this time we are heading to Osaka + Kyoto. Half of the trip with my family and another half of the trip will be backpacking trip with Af. We will extend longer ! Flight tickets were bought early in last August during the AirAsia promo. Woohoo !

Bromo Trip 6 : Surabaya - Bromo Day 3, The Run

September 16, 2016

Check-in and Goody bag pick-up (on Saturday after our tour) :

We asked Pak Inem to drop us to Tosari Village because we wanted to check-in and pick up our goody-bag but Pak Inem insisted on waiting. He said that we already paid for the day and it was too far to go back to Baledono Village on foot.

So we went to the Tosari Field where everyone was around, people was setting up stages and booths, it was scheduled for Tengger Art Festival later in the afternoon but we had to cancel to go because Pak Inem wanted to send us back to the hotel and we haven't rested since 12am the previous night. We reached the registration booth, gave our printed copy and they gave us the goody bags consisted of Bromo Marathon t-shirts, a bottle of mineral water, several promo coupons and free lunch coupon for Sunday, everything in a white Bromo Marathon tote-bag.  


Running Day :

Our running day started as early as 4am in the morning. The night before, we discussed with the innkeeper about our shuttle bus pick-up point. So it was confirmed that the bus will arrive roughly around 5am in front of Intan Homestay not quite far from our hotel. We waited for 4 more other runners and walked together to the pickup point. It was a 5-mins walk.

Tosari Village, where the running event was located is around 5-6km from Baledono Village - where we stayed. So soon after, we arrived to the location. It was still a bit early, the road was to be closed around 6am and our run was scheduled to start at 730am. So we waited awkwardly, pointing to random people - giving them names based on what they most resembled with :D


Food/breakfast :

We both ate my brother's healthy energy bar consisted of kurma, nuts, oats and honey. It was the most decent stuff to be consumed before a run starts - because it was not too heavy for the stomach and it felt enough. But during half of the run, I did feel super hungry. I took a note on bringing extra energy bar for after run. Anyone interested in buying energy bar, can definitely inform me.

The run :

Here is the rough map of our run that I did not bother to study before the run. Our 10-km run consisted of 50% of road trail and 50% of dirt trail. That means the first 5-km run was quite easy because we were all running down-hill on road trail. The weather was cold, the sun started shining, the view was magnificent - everything about the first 5-km is great. That's like a honeymoon phase.

And right after we arrived at KM5 and reached the checkpoint, things started to get tough. It was almost impossible to run because we were on a stony dirt trail that we needed to hike and it never stopped. There was almost no flat-land all throughout the final 5KM. If people wanted to stop, they need to stepped aside of the road, to in front of people's house road.

This was my longest time taken to finish 10km run. I've done dozen of 10km+ run, so I never thought this would be any different from all my runs and training. But it was, because I never trained for any trail-run + uphill run before. It was also a bit annoying because I run so many runs and I trained so many times for the past 5 years and I get this result =.=


Mistakes :
  • I didn't expect 10km trail run would be tough, but it was. So, padan muka.
  • I didn't understand what elevation graph meant, so I never bothered before. Now I understand what it means to run on a mountain trail. Ha.
  • I didn't wear any sun-block. The weather was cold all throughout the event so it didn't felt like I was exposed to the sun much. But I did, my skin is peeling since after the run.
  • Should have bring another energy bar for post-run because feeling famished while running is a weird feeling.
  • Never underestimate a run that you never run in.
  • Lack of uphill training. 

Summary :

The run was fun, challenging and exhausting. I forgot what it felt to feel like this. It is interesting to be running in a such a nice weather with great mountain view. I didn't regret trying out the 10K course at all, imagine if I did register for a half-marathon, on a hilly mountain. =.= 

For anyone who runs and wants challenge. I suggest Bromo Marathon 2017, it was worth my time and money spent! But don't forget to train for uphill and downhill run, because there were almost no flat tracks in Bromo :D

Am I going to enter the run again? 
Probably not soon. If I do run at Bromo again, I make sure I train properly and ready to enter a half-marathon on a Bromo trail run.


Post-run :

We slept in for a few hours after the run. The muscle pain were a normal pain along the legs, knee and ankle. No injuries noted.


Bromo Trip 5 : Savannah + Whispering Sands + Bromo Creater

September 15, 2016
From Mount Penanjakan, Pak Inem brought us to 3 more tour locations in the Bromo National Parks. All places located quite far from one another, so this tour took us several more hours to complete. Most roads were full of dirts and volcanic sands. We were still riding in Pak Inem's old jeep, not talking much. The road was rough, it was like a never-ending bumpy rides. Nothing about the tour was comfortable and relaxing. Other than hopping around, snapping pictures, we can hardly think slow and enjoy the preserve nature in their national park. 


On our way to Savannah Bromo :


 Savannah Bromo 

Savannah Bromo is a nice hilly place that look like we were in Switzerland. The area was surrounded by hills, some people even call it Telletubbies Hills because of the resemblance. The weather was just nice, jeeps waiting in the dusty parking lots, tourists all around snapping pictures. 


Whispering Sands


Bromo Creater

We already stretched our pockets for this expensive tour for 2, so when we reached Bromo Creater area and realized that we needed to rent for a horse or hike up for several more KM to reach the top - I said no. :D I was so exhausted from the all-nighter and tour and all the non-stop travel, I can't wait to rest. So we only walked halfway to the top, took some pictures and walked back to the jeep.

Horse ride will cost around 80,000 IDR to and fro. If you want to hike, you can. Be ready with a face mask and water.  


Note :
There are many tour offered in Bromo; on IG/FB, online, offline, in villages around. If you have time to make researches and explore options, please do so. For the 2 of us, 750,000 IDR for a 8hours midnight tour + rent jeep + 4 locations + Goody Bag pickups in Tosari. Not including the Bromo National Park Access Ticket that costed around 220,000 IDR.

So plan well ! If you want to go for a tour, find friends and go in a group, for me personally, it was a little expensive for a short visits to what's offered by the nature. Everything was commercialized, you can barely see the meaning of the tour. It was nice visitation, yes, but not a successful exploration. 

Bromo Trip 4 : Our Bromo Sunrise, Mount Penanjakan

September 14, 2016

It was a long way up. We started the ride from our hotel at 3am in the morning, we didn't noticed how long it took to arrive at the Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park entrance where our tour guide paid for our entrance fee to the ranger. 

We were heading to Mount Penanjakan to hunt for our first morning sunrise. 
Our tour guide *Pak Inem, finally stopped his jeep at a point where no jeep's allowed to go further. In that dark morning, there were so many people arriving, like us, there were also locals selling stuffs, and offer a motorcycle ride to the top *gojek. We walked further more in the dark before someone came to us and offer to sell gloves, scarves and snowcap. I was beginning to turn so cold I-kenot -tahan, and uncomfortable, so Af bought a cheap gloves and a snowcap for him. 

There were many surau and public toilets on our way up, so we stopped several times before finally reaching there. 


The view-point was actually really-really crowded. People from all over the world were there, waiting in pitch black. Locals selling mat to sit on, offering jackets to rent from, selling hot drinks, anything that can make money. It was really cold, around 5 - 10 degree celsius and I was only wearing 2 shirts and a sweater *and I hate really cold weathers, did I mentioned? So I was uncomfortable and irritated by the extreme cold and packed crowded place. 

A bit disappointed, but I had to play tourist in this trip.  

The first morning ray started around 5am, on the left part of the viewpoint. Everyone stood up and waited for the sun patiently. People started to take photos of the dimmed orange light in dark sky that slowly turned to purple, and pink, and blue, and all the colours that the sun could muster in that 2 hours. See how these beautiful colours changed taken from my old Lumix :

Of course, it was the majestic sun gleaming proudly in the morning rays. 
But there were too many people, crammed together like we were watching a concert played by the nature. Did I enjoy my silent moment of the new day ? Of course, not. I can barely hear myself. I had to slowly slide in, to take nice photos. Af is taller than most locals, so he got no problem with that. While I was always short, as short as most Asian =.=

By the time the sun shone fully, people started to disappear like everything interesting that people has been waiting for the past 2 hours lost it sparks. Just for the nice pictures to keep in their memories, shared in social medias, printed and for stories to tell later.  


We waited for some time more, taking photos from the outer side of the view point where we can see the highest Mount Semeru and all other littles mountains below it. There are active volcanic reactions all around, so we sometimes see white puffs coming up from the mountain. 


Our way down, people were having breakfast and little shopping spree buying souvenirs. There were some locals selling pisang goreng and corns alongside of the steps while we were walking down, so that was our breakfast as well. I bought 2 Bromo patches that I wanted to sew on our backpacks, because we reached our first national park + mountain top ! :D

Soon everything turned yellowish and light blue, too bright for everything. We walked down this time, avoiding chatty gojeks and their relentless offers. It was still cold, but not as cold as the past 2 hours that we spent standing up in silent, waiting for the sun.

We finally met Pak Inem back, he was waiting patiently at the side of the road, squatting next to a small bonfire :D Little heat brought smiles. Our trip continues to the next stops.