[In Pictures] I Went to Christmas Wonderland 2017!

Went to Gardens by the Bay on Christmas Day for Christmas Wonderland 2017. The last time I went there in 2015, it was free and now we had to pay $8 (online; $10 at the gate). Was quite a last minute decision to go because we both had nothing planned for Christmas, besides eating and gift exchanging. At first, I was pretty worried about the crowds, but turned out the area was quite spacious and not packed at all, despite the massive throngs of people. Unfortunately, there was a heavy downpour, but luckily it stopped quickly. We came pretty early at around 6pm, and left close to 10pm. There’s much to see and much to do. I feel that Gardens by the Bay is the best place to be to soak in the Christmas atmosphere (minus the lack of winter), there is no place like this!

[All photos taken with the LUMIX GF-7]

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Entrance to Christmas Wonderland

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Came across this stall while looking for drinks.

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Earl Grey Lavender Milk Tea, the best combination.

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Macarons by The M Plot, $3.50 each. Tried the Lychee & White Chocolate and Rose flavours, both were great.

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Christmas Carolling

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Garden Rhapsody at the Supertree Grove

Didn’t play the carnival games because they were kinda pricey and you had to buy tokens for the games and rides. Games aren’t really my thing…but I see many people enjoying themselves. We mostly walked around, listened to performances, looked at the lights, and bought food and drinks.

However, with the $8 entrance ticket, I probably wouldn’t go back there again next year unless I have no plans at all for Christmas. So glad I went this year though.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Till next time, take care everyone xo

 

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6 Months On, It Still Hurts

Life is never perfect, we may never get what we desire, or things may never turn out the way we want it. While people choose to chase after perfection or give up entirely if they realise they can never get what they want, I choose to accept the things that are happening to me and make the best out of them.

Sometimes, we can only choose one out of the two, it’s that or the other. When we can only choose one, we forgo the other. As much as we want both, some circumstances only allow us to pick one.

If the two options are people and we can only choose one, the other will inevitably be hurt.

Life is never perfect, in an ideal world I could have chosen both or neither at all. I wouldn’t want to hurt anyone- it hurts me too. If I have to make just one choice, I’ll make that choice, and then try to make the best out of whatever situation that arises afterwards. If I didn’t pick the other option, it’s not that it’s a bad option. I had no choice, but to just pick one, so I’ll go for the one that’s best for me at that moment. It sucks to make that choice, it sucks to be selfish.

What hurts even more, is when I’m trying so hard to make things work and circumstances are not letting me. I hurt someone I want to treasure, I try to make up, but that person is not letting me. As a result, I’m forever drowned in guilt. I feel guilty for what I’ve done, and I feel helpless for not being able to do anything about it. That person might have gotten over it and is now happy for the choice that I have made, but I can never get over it.

To me, goodbye is not an option, friendships are forever if they mean anything in the first place. He may have given up on me, but I will never give up on him.

6 months on, life has changed, but deep down I am still deeply hurt.

[Day in My Life as a Music Student] Trying to memorise a new piece

I started my day with just one goal- to memorise the last two pages of Szymanowski’s Prelude and Fugue before the day ends. I told myself, I’m going to memorise two bars every ten minutes, so ideally it’s going to take me about 2.5 hours to memorise two pages, plus I can always go back and revise the old bars I have memorised every now and then, so the whole day should be more than sufficient. Sounds very ideal, isn’t it? So, with phone timer set to ten minute intervals and sitting down at the piano, I began to work. My plan was to do the last page first, then the second-last page.

The first ten-minute timer rang, shit….I’ve only finished memorising the first two bars of the last page, hands separately, I’ve yet to put the hands together. After losing count of how many ten-minute intervals have passed, I finally finished two bars hands together, at a REMARKABLE tempo of 50 quaver beats per minute. I checked the clock- one hour has passed. I thought, Hang in there, this is going to be a long day ahead. By lunch time, I was exhausted, having had about 2.5 hours of practice and only done with 4 bars, I know I’m definitely screwed.

After lunch, I decided to take a nap and let the memory soak in. By the time I woke up, I nearly forgot at least half of what I practiced earlier. So much for taking a nap and resting my brain. At that moment, I don’t know how I was going to survive the rest of the day. I managed to memorise the notes and managed to separate the voices clearly, but a lot of details, like the tempo changes and dynamics, were still largely missing. As much as I know I have to put all the details in, my brain still had a hard time thinking through and remembering the notes.

By dinner time, I have learnt the whole of the last page, yay, finally. When dinner was over, I decided to focus on quality over quantity and refined some of the details on the score that I had overlooked.

As you should have expected, by the end of it all, I was EXHAUSTED. I could feel like I have used up every single brain cell in my head and all I want to do now is eat, have some tea, have a good bath and then have a long, deep sleep.

At the end of the day, I don’t know how much of what I’ve practiced will still be with me tomorrow, how am I ever going to play at a faster, more decent tempo, and how am I going to even memorise the rest of the fugue. Don’t get me wrong, I love this piece, and the fugue was the reason why, but it’s so freaking hard to memorise. I wouldn’t say it’s harder than a Bach’s fugue- every piece has its own challenges. I seriously hope I can pull this off, otherwise all my efforts would have gone down the drain. Still haven’t regretted anything yet, I hope.

Bye, going back to memorise again.

Books I’ve Read in November 2017

As November comes to a close, I would like to take the opportunity to think about what has happened the past month. This month’s a crazy one for me, with the exams and concerto competition (which I just played in today, and I am glad to say that I have survived it yay!). I can also say that I have grown as a person, learning more life lessons through the struggles.

Fortunately, despite the busier month, I managed to read two books during my free time, one of which I finished in one day because I was sick in bed and was too tired to practice.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie- Americanah

A woman, Ifemelu, and a man, Obinze, lived in military-ruled Nigeria and were in love. However, Ifemelu had to leave her country to the United States to study, while Obinze lived an undocumented life in England. Their lives have completely changed since then, and they reunite again in democratic Nigeria fifteen years later.

The story does not really have a chronological order to it, going back and forth the present time (when Ifemelu is about to return to Nigeria from the US) and flashback scenes from the past, from when Ifemelu and Obinze first met. The flashback scenes very much tell us the background of the main characters and their development. Unless you like this kind of writing, you might find it draggy and want to skip pages just to see what happens at the end. Personally I feel that although the character development is slow, the length is necessary as it builds up slowly, giving me a stronger attachment to the main characters. Hence, the ending becomes stronger. What I didn’t really like though, was the final chapter, which kinda ended in a cliffhanger. Well, I guess the rest is up to my imagination, but having read a book and feeling attached to the story, an ending like this makes me question what to do next.

I’m starting to be interested in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s writing. Definitely gonna grab a copy of her other books, like That Thing Around Your Neck and Half of a Yellow Sun.

Get it here.

Mark Manson- The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

Mark Manson thinks that we humans are too busy chasing after things we want- we want to be happy, we want the perfect body, we want to be rich, etc. The more we think about wanting these things, the more unhappy and unsatisfied we become with ourselves because in the end we will never get there, and the process to getting them might hurt us more. However, if we accept the negatives about ourselves, we can turn them into positive action which in turn make us more positive about ourselves as we achieve things. This book tells us that life will never be perfect, we will encounter many struggles in life and things will never go our way, but when we accept the struggles and work towards them, we will have a more positive outlook towards life. We only have so little fucks to give in life, so we have to prioritise which fucks to give and which to not give a fuck because they ain’t worth it.

This book is a great reality check for me, it’s a constant reminder that life is not all unicorn and rainbows, and we will always be struggling. The key is to choose what you are willing to struggle for. In life, we cannot care for every single thing, so we should always know what we should care for. It teaches me to stay humble and stay focused on the important things in life. I wouldn’t say it’s a self-help book because it doesn’t really tell you anything about what to do, but it’s mainly pointing out a few issues that we tend to neglect and should bring our attention to. There are many issues that the author pointed out that I find very relatable to many of my life experiences, especially with regards to life as a musician or in relationships.

Now everytime I feel nervous before a performance, I tell myself it’s not worth giving a fuck about how things are going to turn out later because I know I’ve worked my arse off for this performance and I’m not going to let anything in the way. Thinking of this, I calm down right away. No need to sugar coat myself, telling me I’m going to be alright and stuff, just straight up brutal honesty is all I need now.

Get it here.


I’m currently reading a third book, but unfortunately I could not finish it before the month closes. Will talk about it next month, take care everybody!

 

Sleepless Nights

Nowadays I try to have a fixed sleeping schedule. I mostly sleep at 11pm and wake up at 7am, so I get at least 8 hours of sleep a day and maximise the number of hours I still have for me to practice. This probably has been going on for about 2 months now and it has served me well.

However, for the past few days I’ve been having trouble going to sleep, or I’ve been waking up several times in the middle of the night. I’m having a terrible flu now, and even the drowsy cough syrup is not enough to put me to sleep.

Most of the time this past week, I’ve been waking up at 3, 4am after experiencing really weird dreams. Some are quite morbid, of watching people getting cursed and dying slow and painful deaths, and it scares the heck out of me. Worse is knowing that my brain has enough imaginative capabilities to come up with something like this.

I guess I’m feeling stressed over the Concerto Competition next Thursday, and all the homework that is being given to me on top of it. I’m not complaining- in fact I don’t mind the work as they are meaningful- but I’m starting to have a lot of things in my mind that it’s getting hard to sleep well.

Recently, I read a book that teaches people how to prioritise the things in our lives and live life to the fullest, it’s somewhat useful for dealing with my anxiety. I’ll share more when I start writing another post about the books I’ve read this November (I’ve read two so far, now on my third one). Reading is seriously my best form of therapy now, second to food.

Hopefully I can overcome this hectic week ahead and get lots of rest. I’ll need it more than ever.

Books I’ve Read in October 2017

I’ve always loved to read, and recently I’ve gotten myself back into reading regularly. I love reading fiction the most, where I follow the stories sentence after sentence, page after page, letting my imagination run free and keeps me glued to my seat. Sometimes I read a bit of non-fiction, read about people’s lives, and learn about new things from different perspectives. I read almost everywhere, anytime I can- on trains, in school in between classes, in between practice times, at night when I’ve got no homework…it’s such a good brief escape from reality.

In the month of October, I have finished reading three books. They are really great and I would like to share a little bit about them with you as well as my thoughts on them.

  1. Roxane Gay- Bad Feminist

Roxane Gay sees herself as a feminist, but she admits she cannot always be the strong, man-hating, anti-bra-wearing kind of feminist. She also challenges what the typical definition of a “feminist” really means, in particular the American society, and states that it doesn’t really apply to everyone, especially someone with colour. She believes that she should exercise some rights as a woman, yet does not conform to the typical characteristics of a feminist in the feminist movement, hence calling herself a “Bad Feminist”. Bad Feminist is a book compiled with several short essays divided into different categories. In this book, Gay discusses issues about race, gender, politics and the media, et cetera, throwing in some anecdotes of hers here and there. You don’t have to agree with everything she says, but I feel that she gives really fresh new perspectives of what are the real issues women face in today’s society, especially coming from someone of colour. Her words are so compelling and convincing, you cannot help but be deep in thought after each essay.

She also recently wrote her first novel, “An Untamed State”. That’s going to be next on my reading list, can’t wait to start reading it.

More info here.

2. Han Kang- The Vegetarian

The Vegetarian is a novella by South Korean author Han Kang, originally written in Korean and translated into English.

A man has an extremely ordinary life, an ordinary job and an ordinary wife, and that was all he was asking for. Until one day, his wife had a dream about animal cruelty that resulted in her throwing out all the meat in the house and starting to go on a plant-based diet, refusing to eat anything that came from animals. Her vegetarian diet drove her into madness, eventually wanting to seek a more plant-like lifestyle, causing pain to the people around her.

It has been weeks since I read this book, yet I can still remember the whole story. The first chapter is really intense, and it made me keep wanting to read on. The more I read, the more I empathise with the characters, I feel their pain, their pleasures; I wish things can turn out better for them. I start to wonder, if whatever that has happened in the book can happen in real life, and what if it happens to the people I love? I don’t wish to reveal too many things about the plot, go read to find out more!

There was previously some criticism regarding the translation of the book, that a lot of the nuances were lost in translation and that the translator did not have enough experience with Korean to be able to translate the book accurately. I cannot comment on that, but I would say that the writing is very beautiful, and we gotta give props to that.

More info here.

3. Kevin Kwan- China Rich Girlfriend

Kevin Kwan, the Singapore-born author who is probably most well known for the book Crazy Rich Asians, has a sequel to it, titled China Rich Girlfriend. In fact, the book is so popular that it has even been adapted into a Hollywood film.

Rachel Chu, newly engaged to her History professor boyfriend Nicholas Young, has found her biological father, leading her to the world of crazy-rich, newly-rich Chinese. The characters in the “Crazy Rich Asians” world are so rich that they can seem to afford anything– every single latest fashion piece from all the high-end fashion brands, wearing ancient artefacts as jewellery, spending hundreds of millions of dollars on art pieces to hang on their walls at home, having a private plane bigger than the Air Force One, complete with bedrooms and a Koi pond (yes, with real fish). They don’t seem to worry about money at all, their only concern was how to make themselves well-liked and maintain their class and reputation among all the other rich people. Rich people with rich people problems.

It’s a book packed full of humour, very witty and entertaining, so not for anyone looking for a serious read. This was a very fast read for me, I finished it in less than three days in between practices and on train rides, because it is such an easy, light-hearted read. It is totally a satire.

More info here.


For the month of November, I am still currently reading, and I have three books on my reading list now. Hopefully I can finish all of them by the end of the month so I can share with everyone.

Till next time, take care everyone.

 

The Most Difficult Thing About Being in a Relationship

Being in a relationship with someone, my other half becomes my pillar of support. It is not just about companionship, but whenever I need someone, I know I can always count on him.

But what if I can’t? What if he ends up being the one hurting me?

The person who loves me the most, can also end up hurting me the most. The most difficult thing I realised today, is how to respond.

An emotional battle is brewing inside of me. I am angry, I am hurt, I am disappointed, I am sad. When this happens, I just want to be alone, I want to have space. At the same time, I want someone to be there for me, to hug and to hold me, to assure me that everything will fine. At the same time, I want to rant to someone, someone who doesn’t mind me ranting, someone whom I can trust. At the same time, i never want to talk to the person who hurt me ever again…but I can’t because it’s someone whom I love the most and want to spend the rest of my life with.

When someone whom I need the most hurt me, I feel as if don’t know who to rely on anymore. My mind just goes haywire, I don’t know how I should react. He hurt me the most, yet I feel like I don’t have the right to be angry.

The only thing I do know what to do, is to cry. I can’t do anything, I can’t show my anger, even though I’m angry. I can’t pretend nothing has happened either, so all I can do is to cry.

I burst into tears. He gives me a hug, I feel comforted, yet it feels strange because it’s the same person who hurt me earlier. I don’t even know how am I supposed to feel anymore, and who should I trust. I also don’t know why is he even comforting me. The person who hurt me, is comforting me after hurting me and making me cry. Ironic.

At the end of the day, I go home, my mum gives me a massage and tries to make me feel better. I cry again, because after all the shit that’s happened, I know that my family will always be there for me.