Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom

Upon looking at the newly published book by Mitch Albom at the bookstore's shelf (just released last month - November 2015), The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto, I was wondering what kind of inspirational story he would write this time. It's quite a thick book (hard cover) containing 489 pages. I thought, "Wait until the paperback version coming up, or until it's been released in the library."

However, when there was a special one-day sale in Popular bookstore, I decided to buy because anyway, I could pass the book around after reading it and let the author inspire those surrounding me, and it's always worth it to share the good things around. I asked PY, my bestie, to help me buying it as I wasn't in Singapore, and she ended up telling me that this would be my Christmas present from her. Oh! Thank you very much PY for this fabulous present! Thank you, thank you, and thank you! :)

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto - Mitch Albom

It was on third last day before year 2015 ended. I was hesitating which book should I read - Marina Bay Sins or this one. Obviously, this book was much thicker and I was usually quite deterred when looking at the thick book and always took it as a challenge. I was wondering too if I could finish this book before year end. As the previous few books I read were about that thick too, so I thought, let's face it Rima! Let's conquer that fear and just read it! And so, at the end, I chose this one to be my next reading book!

I seldom checked on the content and review when choosing book to read. It was usually based on friends' recommendations, top list books sold, new books written by my favorite or well-known authors, etc. So, even after reading the title of the above, I still had no idea what would be the content and story of this book.

So, there I was, starting to flip the book around.

"At nine years old, Frankie Presto is sent to America in the bottom of a boat. His only possession is an old guitar and six precious strings. 

But Frankie's talent is unique, and his amazing journey weaves him through the musical landscape of the twentieth century, from classical to jazz to rock and roll, with his stunning talent impacting upon numerous stars along the way, including Hank Williams, Elvis Presley, Carole King, and even KISS.

Frankie becomes a pop star himself. He makes records. He is adored. But his gift is also his burden, as he realizes: through his music, he can actually affect people's futures - with one string turning blue whenever a life is altered. 

Then, at the height of his popularity, Frankie Presto vanishes and his legend grows. Only decades later does he reappear to change one last life..."

That was the introduction, a short summary about the content of the book.

One of the song lyrics by Frankie Presto :)

And so, it was related to music, and guitar. I was not a music person (I mean, I didn't play any musical instruments, except the flute that I learned during primary school's time). I was not familiar with any words used describing the tempo of the music either. I only loved to listen to music and songs since younger time. Worry not, you didn't have to master it all in order to understand the content of this book. In fact, Mitch wrote it in a way that it could carry the readers along with the flow of his story, from one stage to another.

The greatest thing you'll ever learn - Frankie Presto :)

It started from the funeral of Francisco de Asis Pascual Presto - in short Frankie Presto. It brought you back to where he was born and all the way until he died. There was a touching love story too, which was written beautifully, and somehow meaningful, if you could grasp the words. Although it didn't really sound realistic, it didn't mean that it would not happen. Oftentimes I wondered if he was existing in real life though.

I typed Lágrima Francisco in the search column at SoundCloud Apps. It was a short musical instrument - less than two minutes each. I pressed the 'Play' button and let it flow continuously and it accompanied me while reading the book. Lágrima - means teardrop. It was the song featured in the book, one of remarkable works of Francisco Tárrega - in which the story was much related or perhaps inspired by him in some ways.

What is played from the heart can be played anywhere - Mitch Albom 

I read half of the book in one day and finished it in two days' time. I just loved it. It answered all my curiosity, what was really happening, and so on. Music, just like word, was an art. Many were born with it as talent and many were working hard on it all through their life. Nevertheless, it was most importantly coming from the heart. It's really nice story, at least for me. If you were curious, make it as your next reading list. Hope you like it the way I do! And this would mark the last blog post of year 2015. I wish all my wonderful readers a blissful year of 2016, filled with many good luck, good health, good career, life filled with lots of joy and happiness. Have a wonderful New Year's Eve tonight too, wherever you are! Keep writing and reading all my bloggers friends around! Cheers!!! :)

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Beijing Itinerary - Day 2 Visit my old school at BLCU or Beijing Language and Culture University

早上好! Means "Good morning!" :) We woke up quite late at about 8.30am when the sun had already shined bright up in the sky! What? Sun shone bright up in the sky? Yes! You didn't hear it wrongly!

The difference of the sky on our first and second day in Beijing!!!

See it for yourself the picture above! The above picture was taken from the airport with hazy and cloudy sky when I first reached and the below photo was taken that morning from my friend's housing complex. Photo courtesy: Hong Mei :)

She couldn't believe it as well and she posted her comment in WeChat Moments as per follow:

My friend's post about the weather ^^

Translation: Ten over years has passed! Finally I'm meeting my BLCU ex-schoolmate, RimaReyka from Singapore. Beijing welcomed her with a very serious hazy weather, but today it has turned into a very bright blue sky! She said, because Beijing knew that she was coming, so it changes to a blue sky! I curiously asked her, "Then yesterday, how are you going to explain?" She remarked wittily, "Because I plan to take a rest and sleep, so I didn't need a blue sky." :P Hahahaha.... Yeah, my optimism and positivity had chased the haze away and attracted the sun to shine the earth ^^

Inside the new metro cabin at Line 15 - Beijing Metro

We had breakfast at her house and at 10 am we left. She dropped us to the nearest metro station - ShunYi station, which took us about fifteen to twenty minutes to reach. From there, we took metro and changed once towards WuDaoKou station. To my horror, OMG, the whole journey took us two hours to reach!!! Check out the metro map here so you can get the picture about the connection and distance.

Beijing city was too big! There were total of 15 metro lines plus 4 extension lines in total so far. From ShunYi station to WangJingXi station itself (the point that connected us to city area) took 45 mins to reach, not yet changing the lines (with long walking distance and waiting time) and to reach other destination. From my friend's house to city I needed at least 1.5 to 2 hours average to reach. So one day, we required at least 3 hours and more transport time to go and back home. Well, at least now, we could take metro, which was still rather fast and convenient compared with taking public bus or cheaper than taking a cab.

Drastic change of Wu Dao Kou

Once coming out, I was awed with my surrounding! The last time I visited my school was in 2001. Within 14 years, it had changed tremendously!!! The whole stretch of metro station there, it used to be the market complex where I used to shop all my food ingredients and other necessities. There used to be whole stretch of Korean and other restaurants too where I sometimes had my lunch or dinner there.

BLCU map located near the South gate

I couldn't recognise the place until I had to ask people for direction. Slowly we walked towards south gate then west gate entrance (in China it's common to say the place using north, south, east, and west direction). Oh, when walking towards west gate, I saw many motorised carts stopping at the side of the road. Parcels range in size were put on the roadside waiting for the owners to collect (online shopping was taking over the usual shopping means in China with more varieties of goods available, faster shipping time, and most importantly - very convenient as you didn't have to squeeze with the crowds and avoid bargaining with owners who might open a very high price at the first place. Of course, the quality and size of the goods received might not be the same as what you'd seen in the pictures). This was one of few changes that I noticed.

Common kitchen and washing area plus student's room

There were more dormitories built to accommodate the fluctuated number of local and oversea students. The electronic key cards were also used for the dormitory entrance and when pressing the lift to the floor you were staying. Cameras were seen in every corner of the buildings and lifts to ensure the security of the people who lived there. Common kitchen, washing machines and dryers were now found in each floor of the dormitory's building. Unlike before, where we would secretly cook inside our room and wash clothes mostly with hands.

Transport used nowadays

Students were no longer riding the conventional bicycle. It had been now replaced with a chic, stylo, soundless, electronic scooter, just like what you saw at the above photo. The battery charging points were also provided at the dormitories so they didn't have to illegally charging inside the room nor they had to carry it all the way up. How life there now was so much easy, convenient and spoiled with choices!

My class building

Many school's buildings remained the same. I visited my previous class building and it was with no changes except that they now used projector when teaching and most teachers stayed oversea before for few years before coming back here to teach (most of them were capable in English, unlike before where my own teachers were only fluent in their own language and no oversea stay experience).

School's Canteen

What surprised me again was that the school invested a lot of money to build this giant canteen consisting of 3 floors for common share food stalls and 2 floors for mostly independent restaurants (Japanese, Korean and Southeast Asian food) plus one luxury Café with plush sofa, European lighting and decor, and free WiFi. It's packed with students but of course, it came with a high price. Their coffee price was comparable with Starbucks price or sometimes even higher (average cup of coffee was Rmb 30 or Sgd 6.50).

In front of the BLCU main building

My son and I browsed the area and I was excitingly telling my son what I used to do before when studying here. We were enjoying the place while waiting for my cousin who was studying there to finish her class. When done, three of us went for lunch. I told her I missed the Korean food there and she brought me to the one located outside, still within walking distance. According to Korean students, this was the best selling the a la carte type of food :)

Korean food for lunch - BLCU China

Fyi, majority students learning Chinese language there were Korean. That's why there were many Korean restaurants and shops nearby the school. Three of us enjoyed our food so much and very full. Time to have a walk and shop! ^^ This time we walked to LiuDaoKou. There was a building with many stalls inside. I bought my winter necessities there such as: gloves, shawl, boots, socks, etc. Nice buy as they offered cheaper price for regular customers and students :D After shopping, it was time to say goodbye to my cousin.

This time, from LiuDaoKou station, we didn't have to change metro line. It's under the same one line and we took only one hour to reach. Yayy!!! Hong Mei fetched us and later at night we had dinner together. It was her birthday and we had sliced lamb meat hotpot at her home :)

Sliced lamb hot pot

That's how the dinner looked like. The frozen slice meat was poured inside the pot, let it boiled and cooked. Lift it up using chopstick, dip it into a saucer filled with mixture of peanut paste, sesame paste, and coriander leaves, and you could put it inside your mouth. Aaaa....emm..... :P Vegetables could be added too. However, they didn't drink the stock (soup). They just used it to boil the meat and vegetables. Unlike us, we ate the food and drank the soup.

East gate of Beijing Language and Culture University - China :)

So that's how our second day in Beijing passed by. I was very happy being able to visit my school again. I was teenager and now I managed to bring my teenager son there. I was telling him, let's dream big that one day I'd bring you to my school in Switzerland too! Hahaha.... Yeah, one day! Let's hope and pray! ;) Oh, and if you are interested to study Chinese language in China, click here about the school information. You can even apply online :) So, good luck and all the best! ^^

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Beijing Itinerary - Day 1 Stay, relax, and warm up our engine to eat!!!

Our Air China flight from Singapore to Beijing

My dear son and I took a direct Air China flight from Singapore to Beijing that night. We spent our time watching movie from each personalized screen in front of us, had our late meal served inside the plane, and slept only for few hours before we finally reached Beijing early in the morning.

Took the shuttle train to the collecting luggage area at Beijing Capital International Airport 

We sat in the middle of the plane. Therefore, we couldn't see the view outside. However, the pilot announced that the temperature outside was at 2 degree Celcius and we could feel that we both shivered despite wearing a piece of sweater on top of our shirt and the cold penetrated to our skin and bones after getting out from the plane. We walked faster trying to reach the warmer area of the building.

Baobei in full gear :)

After collecting our luggage, I opened my bag and took our winter clothes out. We equipped ourselves with warm feather jacket, gloves, shawl and hat and wore it immediately, then went out to the arrival hall, looking for my Beijing friend, Hong Mei, who had agreed to pick me up from the airport. However, after walking few rounds in the arrival hall, I hadn't seen her single shadow yet. "Hmm... it can't be that she forgets that I reach Beijing today ba??" mumbled me.

I saw public phone not far from the arrival's exit door. Next to it, there was a machine selling varieties of phone cards. Few people were seen standing around it. I walked towards the machine. With my limited knowledge of the Chinese language, I touched the screen here and there, and tried to understand the varieties of cards available. Still wondering around, I overheard a Chinese lady assisting a non-Chinese nationality lady about the sim card. Eh?? Sim card?? 

I immediately approached the lady, who I found to be the seller of the sim card. She said she would assist me once she was done with her customer. Wah... I didn't expect I could get my prepaid sim card that fast. Indeed I needed one to contact my friend while staying there, also to browse data and local map online. After some time waiting, it was my turn and it was done! I called my friend immediately and she said she was stuck in the traffic jam due to a heavy haze. Haze??? 

Outside the Beijing Capital International Airport - Heavy haze surrounding us!!!

My son and I went outside the building. Woww!!! It's freezing! I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, "Hmmm.... oh winter, here I come!!!" I was so exciting and opening my arms widely! But wait, I smelled something familiar! What's that? Haze! Yeah, it's haze!!! I thought we just got rid from it some time back in Singapore?  And now, here in Beijing??? Omg!! ^^"

It was my son's first time experiencing winter season in his whole life. He was very much exciting with it! He saw the leftover snow at a far - it was snowing just days before we reached there. The coldness that he experienced, was something unexpected. We stood there on the roadside waiting for my friend to come. With miscommunication about the location to pick us up, we only managed to see each other only a while later. But she indeed came together with her husband :)

We chit chatted inside the car. She was explaining to me why they were coming late. The haze that day was unbelievably serious and it caused heavy traffic on the road they took to reach the airport. They worried that the rest of the days would be like that and my holiday would be ruined. I told her not to worry, that tomorrow the sun would come and the sky would turn bright, as they knew that my son and I was coming! Hahaha.. and she was just laughing to my optimism and positive thought :D

Our first meal in Beijing - Steamed vegetable bun and wheat porridge :)

On our way to their house, they were asking us if we were hungry. Well, we were a little bit hungry though. So they stopped at one local food chain selling steamed bun, dumpling, porridge, and so on. We had our first breakfast there :)

When we ate, Hong Mei told me that Xi Jin Ping, their current President, loved eating the steamed bun sold from this food chain. And she proudly recommended me eating this vegetable steamed bun. Only my son and I ate them as she and her husband had already eaten their breakfast at home. 

We would be staying at their rented home most of the nights throughout our journey at the new residential area (Shun Yi District) built only after year 2007. Before that, the place was still plantation area. The development was just too fast as the government had to accommodate their people outside the city area that had already been too packed. 

Dong Dong and Baobei :)

My friend's seven-year old daughter, Dong Dong, was very happy with our arrival. They usually seldom received guests at their home. And I was only among few oversea friends that Hong Mei still contacted from her school time at that period (back in late 1990s).

She was very exciting when unwrapped our little gifts from Singapore. She kept shouting, "Wow... Mama, hen piao liang!!!" which means, "very beautiful!!!" She then went into our room and asked me why I stayed at their home for only ten days? And why not one month? Hahaha... I was laughing listening to her innocent question :D She was a clever and chatty girl. When she was at home, the house was full of her voice. 

In the afternoon, Hong Mei cooked white noodle with tomato and egg - the simple Beijing local dish for lunch. She worried that we got hungry easily so she cooked our portion too despite our stomach were still packed with the bun. I took just a small bowl and let them eating more.

With snow and haze from their house's balcony

After lunch Dong Dong and Baobei went to the balcony and Baobei wanted to touch and play with the snow. It wasn't that much but it was good enough for him to experience the real snow. Just too bad, it wasn't snowing.

I didn't plan to go anywhere on our first day there. Just wanted to take a good rest since we didn't have enough sleep in the airplane. Both of us ended up sleep for few hours before it was time for dinner. And the sky turned dark when it was approaching 5pm in the evening. Oh, welcome back to winter life... It'd really been some time since I had one and I almost forgot about it! 

Happy Birthday Zhi Bu and Hong Mei!!! :)

Coincidentally, the day I arrived was Zhi BuHong Mei's husband's Birthday and the next day was Hong Mei's Birthday. They had planned to celebrate both birthday together that night and inviting us and Hong Mei's parents for dinner at local restaurant not too far from their house and lucky us that on our first night, we managed to eat our first roasted Beijing duck together with many delicious local Chinese dishes on the table!!! - see the photo above :)

Me, Hong Mei, and Dong Dong :)

I was very happy meeting Hong Mei's parents once again. I met them before many years ago and surprisingly they too still remembered me! We had our dinner happily and I managed to taste Yanjing beer - local produced Beijing beer there hehehe... Remember? A bottle of beer was cheaper than a bottle of soft drink in China!!! So, I started ordering beer in most of my dinner during my stay there in Beijing ;D

Hong Mei and her families :)
She ordered a delicious cheese cake too from Wedome, a bakery chain that was quite famous producing delicious and fresh cream cakes. Hmmm.... I felt I already gained two kilos just from my first day there :P So, more story to come! Stay tune on my blog! :)

Monday, December 21, 2015

In the Shadow of the Buddha by Matteo Pistono

Perhaps it was fated for me finding this book in the library's shelf earlier last week. Once I finished reading 'All the Light We Cannot See' - written by Anthony Doerr, I started immediately reading the following book written by Matteo Pistono.

In the Shadow of the Buddha by Matteo Pistono

"For nearly a decade, Matteo Pistono evaded Chinese security and smuggled out photos of prisons, secret documents, and firsthand interviews of torture victims and other atrocities committed by the Chinese government. Yet Pistono had not initially gone to Tibet to fight for human rights - but as Buddhist pilgrim. 

After Pistono became the student of a venerated meditation master in Tibet, he began couriering messages to him from the Dalai Lama in India. This began an extraordinary adventure. In the Shadow of the Buddha is both a vivid account of how Tibet's rich spiritual past is slipping away under repression, and the story of one man who merged political activism with Buddhist mysticism in pursuit of freedom and peace."  

--- excerpt copied from the back of the book ---

At first, when I saw this book on the shelf, I thought it was gonna be another book that would make me having a closer feeling to the Tibetan Buddhism and Tibet as a place, from another person's point of view. I didn't read the excerpt written behind but just flipping the pages around and saw some familiar Buddhist teachers so I decided to grab it as I was expecting to learn one or two things from them. Like I had the feeling that there must be something for me to learn kind of thing!!

Little did I expect that this book has amazingly opened up my mind and knowledge about what was, and perhaps is still happening to Tibetans living in Tibet. The author, as mentioned above, initially visited Tibet as the Buddhist pilgrim. However, after meeting with Tibetans there, he came to know about the terrible suffering that many Tibetans experiencing and he could not resist but helping them to bring the news out with the expectation that something could change into their lives.

Tertön Sogyal (1856-1926)

In the book, there was also a biography of Tertön Sogyal (predecessor of Sogyal Rinpoche and Khenpo Jikme Phuntsok), which brought us back to mid 1800s and beginning of 1900s, where he was there as a teacher and Dhamma heir of Dalai Lama XIII. From the story, I managed to learn and understand more about Guru Padmasambhava and the role of Tertön Sogyal as the hidden treasure revealer, also the history of Tibet  back then.

It was a mixed feelings I had when reading it. Salute to the author to follow his heart and do whatever he could for the benefit of sentient beings, even if he had to put himself at risk when doing his tasks. He almost fell into depression too as he felt helpless somehow with the situation that happened but couldn't do much to change it.

"Whatever joy there is in this world,
All comes from wanting others to be happy.
Whatever suffering there is in this world, 
All comes from wanting oneself to be happy.

What need is there to say a whole lot more?
Buddha's work for the benefit of others,
Ordinary people work for the benefit of themselves,
And just look at the difference between them!"

--- Shantideva ---

This quote, as said by Wangchen - the contemporary treasure revealer from eastern Tibet with whom the author studied and traveled - reminded Matteo when he felt lost, "Always remember, there is no Vajrakilaya, no Buddha, no Tertön Sogyal, if there are no suffering beings to be helped!" And hope this too, would remind us about our purpose in life once again.

Meditation - Simply be aware, before thinking begins

"We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with a pure mind, 
And happiness will follow you,
As your shadow, unshakable. 

We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with an impure mind,
And trouble will follow you,
As the wheel follows the ox that draws the cart."

--- Buddha's Quote ---

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

This old place

Few days staying at home made my brain wanted to explode. The weather changes between hot sunny and thunder-stormed rainy day had made many people suffered from flu and cough. Good thing that I wasn't affected. It's just, I needed a great blown of fresh air to refresh my brain, so that I could think clearly and start anew!

Just nice my bestie sent a message and asked me out for a cuppa of coffee. Where to? It's just nearby this old place.

This old place :)

It used to be my playground. Almost 9 years hanging around this place, it felt like home. I knew the surrounding area quite well as I used to browse this place to every nook and cranny during lunch break or after work.

After meeting up for lunch with my ex-colleague cum makan buddy during those days, I walked through this area to visit the bookstore at the other side. Bargain corner was my destination each time I went. Sometimes I found great deal from the shelf.

It used to be my playground :)

But on the way there - during lunch break - I saw many familiar faces walking around. Some recognised and called me out. Some - I hoped they didn't see me :P Some were taking smoke break just beside the river, wearing black jacket to cover their uniform (company rules and regulations). And some, I called them out from outside the window and we chatted for a while.

As I kept walking through the bridge, I put the earpiece into my ears and played this song from my Sound Cloud. The lyrics played like this:

Sometimes I wake up with the sadness
Other days it feels like madness
Oh… what would I do without you?

When colours turn to shades of grey
With the weight of the world at the end of the day
Oh… what would I do without you?

A decade goes by without a warning
And there’s still a kindness in your eyes
Amidst the questions and the worries
A peace of mind, always takes me by surprise.

I feel like I’m walking with eyes as blind
As a man without a lantern in a coal mine
Oh… what would I do without you?

My imagination gets the best of me
And I’m trying to hide lost at sea
Oh… what would I do without you?

The difference between what I've said and done
And you’re still standing by my side
A guilty soul and a worried mind
I will never make it, if I’m on my own

So you’ve got the morning, I’ve got midnight
You are patient, I’m always on time
Oh… what would I do without you?

You’ve got your sunshine, I’ve got rainclouds
You’ve got hope, I’ve got my doubts

Oh… what would I do without you?
Oh… what would I do without you?
Oh… what would I do without you?

This old place, would always there in my mind. Its location, just beside the Singapore river, my favorite place to be. It brought me closer to the natural creation. Its flow calmed me, brought peaceful feeling into my mind and wide smile onto my face.

And will always be! :)

I wish to keep positivity in my life. I wish to be healthy all the time. I wish to listen to the Buddhist chant every morning before starting my day with many other activity. I wish to keep my gratitude feeling and be content always with what I have. I wish to be that kind someone, rich at heart, have compassion, and inspire others, as much as I could capture. I wish to always pursue the spiritual journey all through my life. I will do this all alone, all by myself. I wish I could do all this 'til the last breath I have. Wish that all this would come true! :)

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Post card generation ^^

Whenever I travel abroad, I always stop by at the souvenir shop, bookshop, post office, roadside seller, etc. to buy few pieces of post cards. Usually I will choose something unique as the post card design - specialty of each place that I visit. For example: When visited Dharamsala, I bought Dalai Lama post cards with its wise words on it; when visited Bali, I chose the traditional dancers, beach, and Hindu temples' designs, etc.

Postcarde I sent back home :)

Usually I send it for my loved ones such as my parents, hubby and son at home (whenever I travel without them), siblings, and few close friends. I won't have much time to send it to everyone I know, so just few of them. So, from my recent trip, this was not an exception :)

I have built this habit since long time ago. Well, I was coming from a generation where mobile phone and Internet were not existing yet. So, my way of communication was mostly by post (writing and sending letters through airmail) and sometimes by phone using coins and phone cards at the public phone. But whenever I was abroad, calling up would be a very expensive mean and didn't suit my budget. Therefore, sending letters and post cards were still my ultimate choices. 

I have a friend that I used to contact by writing letters. Until now, both of us still send post card to each other whenever we travel overseas for holiday. We still maintain this habit and tradition for almost 20 years! Hehe... Can you believe it? ^^

The last postcard sent by my friend ^^

However, don't be surprised that many people from late 80s and 90s generation didn't even know or see post cards and stamps before! 

My local Chinese tour guide from my Silk Road and Xinjiang tour last September (a young 23 years old chap) was wondering what he was holding whenever I gave him a task to help me to buy stamps and send it at post office. It was really his first time looking at the post cards and had no idea what to do with it!

My Nuchu, Kipchu, was another one :D He was wondering what I purchased and whenever I asked him to ask the price of the stamps to send it to overseas at the Delhi post office, he was a bit lost and almost didn't get the change back from the staff after buying it :P

My cousin who studies in Beijing, when I dropped post cards to letter box, she was asking me, "Sis, is it free?" I was stunned with her words :D I asked her back, "You never sent letter before?", and she said, "No." She didn't even know there was a thing called 'stamp'.

Well, as we know, usually traveling schedule is quite packed. However, I will still spare my free time sharing my greetings, feelings, and happiness with them. Perhaps, sharing my thoughts, love, care, and concern would be the right words to describe. And it could be the best gift someone would receive! Because even from a faraway place, they are still inside my mind! Don't you think so? 

But if you didn't receive it from me, it didn't mean that I didn't think, love, care, and concern about you! It's just sometimes I didn't have your address and had limited cards and time. So, don't be disheartened ok? 

Writing it during spree time under the trees, in the park surrounded with autumn leaves, inside the warm and cosy café during winter times, inside the hotel's room before sleeping, on the train, in the bus, beside the calm lake, sitting on the sand, in front of the beach, and so on, were all my favorite spots! It's the time when I too reflected what I'd been doing for the past few days from the trip :)

Greetings from Beijing! ^^

See the post cards in this photo? If you have received yours (it can reach fast - within one week, and slow - sometimes as slow as two months' time, even long time after I reach back home), please leave your comments here under this post - just for fun, of course, and for me to know that it finally reaches you safe and sound ;)

It's fun, isn't it? You can start having this habit too whenever you travel one day, and when you do that, don't forget to send one for me! Hahaha... and if you don't have my address, drop me an email and I'll send my address to you! :P Give it a try and hope you enjoy it the way I do! ;)

Monday, November 30, 2015

Give wings to fly

It's the last day of November. As per my previous post, I've been trying and doing my best to fulfill it. Just in week after, I had already decided on where to go next considering the budget limitation, time availability, companionship (who to go with and who would be there to meet and be with), etc. And today, it would be the day. Hahaha... :D

Think, feel, and imagine - Buddha

I just came back from China ten weeks ago and that time I told to myself that I wouldn't visit the country again in near time due to some endurance and unhappy experience that I had to go through. However, it didn't stop me from meeting my long time Beijing friend that I knew since beginning of the year 1997. And the last time I met her was in September 2001 when the 9-11 at the New York's Twin Tower happened.

Celebrating Birthday with my bestie in Beijing year 2001 :)

So, the decision came very quick and without difficulty I bought the tickets (good bargain with slightly endurance that we have to go through - to transit for 10 hours on our journey back home); planned the 10-day itinerary without any difficulty (since I stayed there before for a year back in 1996) - Oh, but the current metro lines are challenging and I guess we have to adapt with the distance and time spent especially when we have to keep changing and connecting to the other lines; booked few nights stay at youth hostel and local Inn (with hope that they can provide good heater and hot water throughout day and night) - winter time is tough in Beijing! Moreover it's already started snowing since a week ago; and many other preparations (winter clothes, gifts, etc.)

I bring my son to this trip and I hope both of us can spend a good quality and bonding time together, physically train his ability to walk, carry bag, endure public transport, let him taste the youth hostel's life, and hopefully - if lucky enough - to taste the snow falling from the sky. Pray hard! But what I'm sure of, his main motivation for this trip is to eat! Lol! (I had to use this method to rise his interest to travel saying that Beijing has the best dumpling, roasted duck, jian bing - pan fried pancake, and so on ;D)

My precious Baobei and I enjoyed the food at Chinatown ^^

I too have a cousin who is studying at the school where I studied before and I'm going to meet her. Three of us will browse around the school, dormitories, library, canteen, classes, sport ground, and so on; to reminisce the good old days, to feel nostalgic with my life back when I was still teenager time, and not to miss the delicious and reasonable price of Korean food nearby the school - it used to be my favorite hangout place for lunch or dinner.

Hm... it must have changed a lot now! Can't imagine once in my life that I'll be bringing my son there and showing him the place around!!!

And you know what? It's actually been my dream to bring my son to Beijing, ever since he was in a very young age. I was hoping that he could attend one month summer class learning Chinese with many other international students. However, I didn't have one month leave to accompany him there and not sure if I had enough money to pay the school fee and my own accommodation plus flight tickets for two. Therefore, that dream had never been realized.

Now that he has grown up and it will be just nice to bring him around touring the city, many famous attraction places (like Great Walls, Temple of Heaven, Imperial Palace, etc), perhaps cycling through small alleys in the middle of the city, sitting and relaxing at parks, and so on - for traveling, as a tourist, and let this be an eye opener for him.

I wish you'd be a flying horse just like me! :)

Perhaps after this trip he would develop more interest to travel around the world, in budget way, develop his courage and curiosity, etc. Yes, I'm hoping something will change from deep inside him. I'm hoping that we both develop better and greater mother and son relationship. I'm hoping that... well, I'll let nature takes its course on what will happen for him, and for us. Nevertheless, this would be our trip together after such a long time. So, please pray for both our safety and health throughout the journey. Thank you, thank you, and thank you! Wish all of your dreams come true too! Have a wonderful life out there and be happy always! :)

Let's hope that this ordinary trip will become extraordinary! :)

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Get the right mindset to overcome life!

Time flies. November is going to end very soon and the last month of the year is awaiting at the corner. Once it's over, it will be another new year and automatically our age will be increasing by one year without us realizing it!!!

Throughout the year we have gone through many ups and downs. This year though, it's not exception for me. The first half of my year was filled with many doubts and disappointments. But after that, it's followed by many dreams came true, almost non-stop, even until now ^^

These days I was quite free and often met up or chatted with friends. And usually, when chatted with those who were employed, many would convey their disappointment towards their work or their colleagues (especially their direct superior). They even thought of changing job once they got the AWS and bonus. And those who were unemployed, they would also share their fighting through their job applications, interviews, and so on.

Ok, that's about the working age people. Those who were still studying, they were these days fighting with their final exams. Some paper were challenging, some were even much more challenging hehehe...

Some didn't encounter the above problems but, they had problems with relationship, or sometimes for not having the relationship that they were hoping to have.

At the end of the day it just gives me one conclusion, that we, human being, will never be free from problems. It will always be there. But how we are going to face the problems, that will depend on how we are going to take our action.

Quote by Rhonda Byrne (Source:

As my personal opinion, I'll say, face and accept your problem positively. Perhaps, start it with gratitude feeling. E.g. for those who have problems with their work or colleagues - be grateful that you are employed and receiving salary every month; Those who haven't found a suitable job yet - be grateful that you are still surviving with your saving until your dream job is found. At the mean time, relax, take a break, and do things you always wish doing but can't, due to having too much work or overtime.

Be grateful quote by Rhonda Byrne  (Source:

For those who face challenges with too many things to study for exams - be grateful that at least you have a chance to get an education and enrol the school. Many people in the world may not have this privilege as they have to earn money for their living, even in such a very young age.

Quote by Rhonda Byrne  (Source:

For those who have problems in relationship or don't even have one - well, with the above examples, you should by now be able to think what to be grateful for, shouldn't you?

Get a right mindset and you can overcome it all! ^^

Sorry if I have to repeat this again and again, but it is true, that life is short. We will never know if we will still live in a moment even after reading this post. So, take your problem in life easily, always think the bright side of life, of what you have, and not what you don't have. Be grateful and content always! And very soon, you'll have happiness right in front of you without you realizing it!

So, if you're facing any kind of problems and challenges in life that make you sad and unhappy, think the above advice and get yourself down to a nearby shop to get yourself ice cream, chocolate, a sweet looking cake and any kind of dessert to get a sweet bud into your tongue and believe that it will soon sweeten up your life! Have a try and good luck!!!

Hehehe... Wish everyone be happy always! - Overcome Life :)

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Hello, c'est moi... (Adele)

It's November again.

Every year, this particular month brought me back memories from the past - about someone I used to know. Hm... it's been years, almost a decade maybe? Or more??

Hmmm... Why suddenly I remembered him?

Ahhhh... Tsk, I remember now!

Hello, c’est moi…

As I sipped in the hot ginger tea on my balcony yesterday evening, I heard a familiar music from my neighbor's window below my apartment. Although it was drizzling, the music was clearly heard, and the beautiful woman voice was coming out.

"Hello, it's me," I hummed along.

But I heard something different...

"Hello, c’est moi…"

Oh mon Dieu!!! C'est Français! - meaning, it was French! And it was not Adele's usual English song. 

I continued listening into its lyrics... 

If you can't open the above video, click here

Je me demandais si après tout ça tu
Voudrais qu’on se voit...
Pour se parler, faire le bilan
Le temps est censé nous guérir mais

Il n’oublie jamais vraimant

Hello, est-ce que tu m’entends ?
Je vis dans un rêve où tu devais  
Pourtant m’accompagner
On était jeunes et libres
Mais j’ai oublié tout de ce monde
Dans lequel on s’aimait

Tant de différences entre nous
Et tu es si loin de moi...

It's been a long time since I spoke the language during my college and internship time, a three-and-half-year spent in French-speaking area back in Switzerland. The song meaning though, wasn't that complicated. I could understand it, although not completely understood. 

Hello, est-ce que tu me vois ?
Je t’ai appelé tant de fois
Pour te dire désolé pour ce que j’ai pu faire
Mais quand je t’ai cherché, tu n’as fait que te taire

Hello, est-ce que to me vois ?
Je t’ai appelé tant de fois
Pour te dire désolé d’avoir brisé ton cœur
Mais aujourd’hui je sais que pour toi,
Je n’étais qu’une erreur 


Right on all those lyrics, where it was reminded me of him. Yeah, the man I was just mentioning in the above. We were both young and free. We spent our times and moments together in many places of the world, almost in all continents!

Hello, est-ce que ça va ?
C’est tellement typique de ma part
De toujours parler de moi
J’espère que tout va bien
As-tu réussi à t’enfuir de là où tu
Ne vis plus rien ?

Mais tu le sais qu’entre toi et moi,
Il nous reste plus que ça

And suddenly we lost contact. Lost of touch. He was living his way and I had lived on my way. So, yeah, the above song, it reminded me of him. It's so faraway now and I didn't hear any news from him too for so many years. But I believed, he was doing great out there, and having great time with his family members. Perhaps having a great career? Happy life? Well, perhaps!

And as I turned on Kiss92 from my mobile phone, the English version of "Hello", sung by Adele, was suddenly played.

"Hello, it's me..."

Not sure if it was the ginger tea that I'd been drinking, or the longing feeling that I had just a while ago. I felt the warmth from inside me despite the drizzling and cooling rain from surrounding me. 

I closed my eyes listening to the rest of the song:

"Hello from the other side
I must've called a thousand times
To tell you I'm sorry for everything that I've done
But when I call you never seem to be home

Hello from the outside
At least I can say that I've tried
To tell you I'm sorry for breaking your heart
But it don't matter, it clearly doesn't tear you apart

and ended it with prayers and warm wishes for him, for his long life happiness and success. 

Source of inspiration: "Hello" - by Adele (English version) and by Sara'h (French version).

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Happy 11th Anniversary Overcome Life!!! Share with you beautiful sunset from Punggol! :)

Happy 11th Anniversary Overcome Life! :)

Oh dear, time goes by so quickly! And today, it marks the 11th year of my blog - Overcome Life :)

A slice of Red Velvet cake to celebrate the special day! :)

As I put on my post before, "Without readers, writer is no value." Therefore, here, I would like to convey my heartfelt gratitude and thanks to everyone who have been following my blog all this while, reading the blog post/s of mine, leaving your beautiful and supporting comment/s, gaining the travel information on where to visit, what to eat, and so on. I hope somehow it might bring any help, inspiration, lasting moments into your life journey. Also thank you for the friendships that you offered and hope it will last forever. Thank you, thank you, and thank you everyone!!! :)

And on this special day, we were blessed with such a perfect weather. As I cycled this evening nearby the area where I stay, I managed to catch the beauty of sunset and nature, a great Almighty's creation. Let me share what I captured with you below (all was with no filter - original color taken from my mobile phone), and I hope it would expand your loves towards the nature surrounded you as well; let us be grateful with their existence in this world and not to take them for granted. Enjoy!!! :)

Sunset with beautiful flowers and trees at Punggol :) 

Sunset near Punggol Marina :)

Punggol beach view taken from Punggol Jetty :)

The Singapore - Malaysia sea border - Northeast part of Singapore - Punggol :)

Returning back to catch that beautiful sunset! Punggol :)

Ohh... its beauty melted my heart!!! Sunset at Punggol :)

Its fullness before it slowly disappeared behind the clouds - Sunset at Punggol :)

Magnificent sunset view at Punggol :)

I stood there and watched it til the end - Such a beautiful view! Felt blessed!!! :)

Before leaving the area, the marvelous view after sunset at Punggol :) 

It isn't goodbye

The sun sets so that it can rise again tomorrow
With the departure of the sun
It welcome the arrival of moon and stars

Therefore, be hopeful and grateful always
For today that we manage to overcome
And for tomorrow that we still manage to live

Wish you all well, be happy and life filled full of love always!
Take care and stay safe!  

~ Overcome Life ~
18th November 2015 

With my warmest regards and lots of love - Writer of Overcome Life :)
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