Friday, 25 December 2015

My First WWOOFing Experience (Nagano, Japan)

HEY, I'VE MOVED OVER TO: --- see you there ;)

My very first WWOOFing experience was freaking awesome. And since it's so freaking awesome and this is one of my longer posts, I will, for the first time on this blog, put in sub-headings.

What's WWOOF?
For those who don't know about WWOOF, it is basically a work-travel program where you work on organic farms (most of the time) in exchange for food and accommodation. Transport costs not included. For me, I heard of WWOOF a few years back and always wanted to do it in Southeast Asia. However, as you might have read in my previous posts, I was scheduled to be in Tokyo, Japan for an internship. That's why I decided to add WWOOFing in Japan into my travel plans. I also wanted somewhere nearer to Tokyo as I didn't have much money to spare to spend on transport. #poorcollegestudent

I spent 15 days (so not enough) in Nagano, Japan with probably the best WWOOFing host ever. They are a young family of five and have been hosting WWOOFers for more than 10 years I believe. Anyone who's on the WWOOF Japan website would have probably came across their profile at least once and be very impressed; they have nothing but good reviews from other WWOOFers. In fact, they are so popular that they are actually too full to host me next May lol.

Near my WWOOF accommodation, there was an onsen (hot spring) and I would go there after a long work day sometimes. I remember being so nervous the first time HAHAHA cos I have never been naked in front of so many people. But that nervousness disappeared after 10 minutes cos I realised everyone was naked, she has what you have, and everybody's just minding their own business lol.

My farm was also like 2 hours away from Kamikouchi, a famous hiking area in Nagano. IT'S SUPER PRETTY. Will definitely go there again if I get to WWOOF at the same place.

At the very very beautiful Kamikouchi
Eating vending machine food after a good hour of onsen

The Actual WWOOFing
Now I'll just briefly talk about the tasks that I had to do while I was WWOOFing. Do note that the tasks assigned varies with each host and the season when you visit. I visited my WWOOF host family in the second half of September, which means it was fall in Japan. I clearly knew what were some of the tasks available for me to do as my WWOOF host clearly listed them according to seasons on their profile. But not all WWOOF hosts do this, so it might be good to clarify such details with them if you're not a fan of surprises. Anyway, here's a list of what I did:
- Weeding,
- Harvesting apples, pears, tomatoes and chestnuts,
- Packing rice husks into bags,
- Packing fruits into boxes,
- Cleaning carrot field,
- Cleaning work-shed

More tasks that some male WWOOFers were assigned to:
- Fixing the chicken house roof,
- Chopping up firewood

With my fellow WWOOFers at the pear fields

Taking a short break from apple-harvesting

For my WWOOF host, they also had a house rule where everyone has to help with housekeeping every morning after breakfast. They also have a fixed rule on working hours - 6 hours every day except for Sunday (day off). In times of bad weather, the host may suggest to take a day off and split the six hours and be added to your other working days.

On a typical day, we would work for 2 hours, take a 20-minute break, work another 2 hours and have lunch at 12. Lunch break usually lasts for about 1h - 1.5h and sometimes I get to sneak in a short nap haha. After lunch break, we'd work for 2 hours more and so work ends at 3 - 3.30pm everyday. After that, it's totally free-and-easy. Work can be quite tiring, especially for weeding (painful thorns alert) and tomatoes and chestnuts-picking (which involves a lot of bending down) but very calming. My mind has never felt so clear and liberated. There's literally nothing to worry about in that foreign land. There's also something infinitely calming about concentrating on a laborious task. Nothing was bogging me down.

I would want to highlight, though, that each WWOOF host is unique. Some may give you lighter workloads and some more. It also depends on your tolerance for laborious work, of course. WWOOF websites usually have a feedback system where WWOOFers share their experiences with the various hosts, so do look out for those to have a better idea of what's install for you!  

Why WWOOF? (Me trying my best not to sound like I work for them lol)
I later found out this was also why one WWOOFer has been WWOOFing for 6 months and another has done it for the tenth time. Warning: For those who are used to big cities and fake concrete building filled with money-seeking enthusiasts, you can get quite detached from the "real life" that you're used to. While farming, I was also able to pick up Japanese really quickly. 80% of the Japanese that I know now was picked up in the two weeks I spent WWOOFing. So my conclusion is that WWOOFing (speaking only for WWOOF-farming), can be a healthy activity for your mentality.

WWOOFing is also a great way to meet new people of like interests. My WWOOF host family is such an amazing group of people and their kids are so bright and independent. Their awesomeness also seems to attract more awesome people to their farms. Their permanent staff members are such wonderful people. They couldn't speak much English but are always eager to learn. The other WWOOFers that I met there are also such wonderful human beings that are so opened about sharing their experiences. In fact, every single person that I've met in Nagano was nothing but nice to me. Even when I was in the other parts of Nagano, I interacted with so many lovely people that I can't thank enough. A simple ask of direction can turn into an interesting conversation, a stroll down a small street can turn into a random home visit. A miss of the train (that comes every 2 hours) can lead to a virgin hitchhike experience.

#WWOOFing Tips 
* Learn the basics of the dominant language. This is something that I feel that anyone should at least do when you decide to WWOOF somewhere where English isn't the first language. Actually this should be the least you can do when traveling anywhere where English isn't the first language. Trust me, it will be very, very helpful and it's always nice to learn a new language!

* Pack light. My luggage was 24kg but not by choice since I had 2 months of internship waiting for me right after WWOOFing. If I had the choice, I would have just packed a 50+L backpack or a 10 kg luggage. It was hard trying to carry my luggage up the 2nd storey of the WWOOFers house. Also, to me, WWOOFing is a lot about enjoying the simple life and living with just the basics so packing "just enough" will definitely add up to the entire experience!

* Bring something nice from your country. Preferably something useful like stationery-souvenirs or food! My host family loved the kaya that I bought for them!

* Buy your necessities only after touchdown. Especially if you're going Japan because their 100-yen stores will save.your.ass. I promise.

*Weather check! I cannot stress this enough. IMO your level of preparedness of the weather can make or break your WWOOFing experience. In my case, I consulted my host about the weather. Locals know better than whatever you found on Google.

I could share each and every single interaction I had and it would probably take another 3 hours to read haha but each travel experience is unique and it is something that you have to put in effort to pursuit. The conclusion I've reached from my first WWOOFing experience is that I definitely do not want to stop WWOOFing. I want to make this a yearly affair if my finances allow me to. I'm actually planning to WWOOF in Vietnam next year since Vietnamese is kinda like my minor in college. Somewhere in the south. And I definitely do not want to stop traveling. In my opinion, traveling can be one of the best investments that one can make. There are at least 7 billion more of us living on this big, beautiful Earth. Who knows? Maybe we'll see each other at some unexpected place on Earth (perhaps not necessarily in the future) one day.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

"First time"s list in Japan and Taiwan

In no particular order. Just ones that popped up my mind first.

WWOOFing. Picking apples from a tree that was a storey high. My legs shook at first but the sight of rows and rows of apple trees and their sweet natural scent wafting up higher than a storey high put me at peace.

Picking pears while singing.

Picking chestnuts full of spikes with my two favourite people at Ogurayama Farm: Towa-kun and Tama-chan. ありがとう,和君。You don't know how thankful I am for your kindness.

Received a present (black cat plushie) from a boy named Towa.

Towa is also my seven-year-old Japanese boyfriend who only acknowledges me at home and is two-timing me with this other seven-year-old girl at his school.

Accepted a ride to Shinano-Omachi train station from a guy I met at the Shinano-Kizaki post office. Our conversation was fueled by his broken English, my broken Japanese and Google translate and it was one of the most interesting conversations I've had in a while.

Shared a room with 3 other people who didn't speak much English. One time we were having so much fun using drawings and google translate!

Went to onsen (hot spring) that was on a hill and then coming back down to the foot of hill through a series of slides. #ONSENisLOVE

Ate 蝉(cicada) molted skin that was hanging off a leaf on the apple tree.

Peed in a bush after harvesting apples for 2 hours. Heh.

Washed my clothes on my own (I'm so going to get judged by this).

Taught Singlish to non-Singaporeans and it was so damn difficult to teach. Made me realise how precious and interesting Singlish is too.

Going to a beach alone. In the fall. Experiencing fall. And experiencing the peaceful quietness of the beach when you're not there with anyone else but yourself.

Went clubbing and danced in a circle with good friends and friendly strangers.

Lying on a bed, making small talk with a guy whom I've first met earlier that morning, with our mouths stinking with alcohol. His eyes were twinkling prettily in the dark room. I wasn't feeling butterflies in my stomach. We know we have nothing for each other 'cos four hours ago he was flirting with foreign girls in the club and I was vomiting in the toilet just 50 metres away. Just happy with the fact that I've made another friend and that happy things can be so simple.

Attending a Halloween party and then realising in shame that we were the only ones who didn't dress up. Formed our circle and started dancing when no one else was. Pulled strangers in Halloween costumes into the circle, cheered, laughed and danced like we never had.

Attending a Halloween party that was boring at first but became fun after getting high from strong zeros lined up in their tiny silver columns of a fridge in a nearby 7-11.

Got high from alcohol for the first time. 142 yen x 2 and I'm good to go.

Got my hair stroked as I fell asleep by a guy who I might not see ever again. A guy whom I now know I was only physically attracted to because my heart aches less now. And egoistically sad because I'm sure it was the same for him.

Ate somen out of a pot because it was that good.

Ate sushi that was made and served traditionally right in front of me. Ate them the traditional way: with my hands and sashimi on tongue bed instead of rice. Before I could react, they melted in my mouth and nourished my tongue. One of the best foodgasm I've had in my whole life.

Had meals on a long table every day with farmers and farming-lovers like myself. My inadequate writing abilities cannot convey the comfort and joy of a warm meal in the cold night of Nagano's late September after a long day of farming under the sun.

Couchsurfed with two really kind ladies and their cat who never let me touch it.

Got invited into a kind old lady's house. Thank goodness it didn't end up like Hansel & Gretel.

Received a souvenir from kind, amicable strangers when I was lost in Haruka.

Ate ikura and rice for breakfast in a cosy dining room of a tiny two-storey house in Yokohama after a short-trip at beautiful Enoshima on the previous day.

Saw Mount Fuji and the sun that rises and sets beside it every day. It's the same sun we have here but why do I miss it so much?

Pretended I was drunk and kicked the guy I was physically attracted to off my bed. Until now I'm not sure if I regret doing that. Okay nope, I don't regret it.

Got confused by physical attraction and liking someone. I was so close to kissing him then but now he disgusts me a little.

Went on a road trip with some of the kindest and most generous people I've met in my life. Fucking thankful for humanity.

Met a good-looking person of the opposite gender and my heart didn't pound when I was talking to him.

Never thought I'd do this because I used to laugh at people who did this is secondary school. I bloody created a non-official family tree. With angmohs (non-Asians). Gosh. As of now I have 2 mothers (1 bisexual female British and 1 straight male British), 1 2-foot tall Nigerian father, 1 Italian older brother, 2 older sisters (1 French-Muslim and 1 Romanian), 1 Belgium-Italian younger brother and 1 Taiwanese life-senpai who cannot fucking stop referring to himself in 3rd person. Still, I love them all.

I also now have a Tokyo mum and two Yokohama aunts.

Went to a cat cafe. Thrice. Went to a rabbit cafe, once.

Vomited from drinking alcohol for the first time.

Witnessing a doctor-heli rescue. (Always thought it was just a drama!!!)

Picked up a language (well, kind of) in a short span of 2 weeks. Farming environment is best learning environment.

Sat on the back of a lorry full of rice sacks and feeling the wind run over my face and through my hair. Laughing 'cos I couldn't feel my face.

Cycling on the roads of Shinbashi to catch the sunset at Rainbow Bridge and failing to do so but was still happy as fuck 'cos I CAN CYCLE NOW.

Being in an environment/setting where I was the only Singaporean.

Sending postcards from a foreign country.

Walked half an hour just to get to a secondhand shop. But shit, secondhand shops in Japan are so damn awesome.

Boarded and alighted planes alone. Even made some friends with my flight neighbours.

Asked a stranger to do me a favour by claiming one of my carry-on baggages as hers 'cos I bought too much souvenirs.

Argued with a flight attendant about how it doesn't make sense that I cannot bring an airport-provided shopping bag up an airplane.

Waited 20 minutes for a densha (like MRT train) to arrive.

Feeling thankful for the public transport service we have in Singapore for the two months I was in Japan and then feeling envious about Taipei's cheap and efficient MRT.

Fed and touched sheeps. Which felt like walking carpets.

Ate goat milk ice-cream which should not be for sale.

Slept in a double bed with 3 other people, all but one of us smelling like alcohol and expired milk.

Took the first train home after dancing non-stop till 4am at a club and then sleeping on the bed of my roommate who left our room.

Being away from my family for more than 16 days.

Letting the prettiest and most well-groomed guy I've ever met trim my eyebrows and a beauty college student cut my fringe.

Crying on a train platform in front of my one and only eonni because I really didn't want to leave Japan and all the friends I have there.

Exchanged contacts with strangers at a club.

Received a letter from a senpai who was on the very same airplane and left his letter in the plane magazine at my seat. Felt like I was in a drama hahaha.

I think there are many more that I left out. Will keep updating this when the wandering memories pay a visit back to the main frame.
But most importantly, for the first time, I traveled alone. Became friendlier and more opened than I've ever been. Did things that I never would have done in Singapore nor if I were with my friend(s). Had a hell of a good time.

Back to Red and White

This thought just came across my mind upon logging into blogger: I'm never going to succeed in life because I'm not even disciplined enough to get a blog going. Jokes.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Singapore >>> Japan >>> Taiwan >>> Singapore

Alright. It's been way too long since I've last blogged. Have been pretty busy. And now this blog will turn into a travel log for my ambitious (by my standards) budget Japan-Taiwan trip.


And now this is a travel log! This first post will be about flight-booking.

First of all, I am definitely not an expert because I have already made a newbie mistake. Not knowing when are the "in-season" for booking flights. I booked my flight from Singapore to Narita, Tokyo during the June period when Scoot announced their birthday promotions. My thought was: Their birthday offers will probably be their best. I mean, it's their birthday! What else would be more important than their own birthday?

I was obviously wrong. There is a more important birthday and it's called SG50. So due to my kanchiong-ness (translation: impatience?), I booked a flight that costs slightly more than SGD$200 to Narita (with 20kg baggage). Could have fallen under $200 and saved 20 to 30 bucks. But just my luck luh.

My second booking (made just 1h ago) is via Vanilla Air, which takes me from Narita to Taoyuan Airport. I paid SGD$140 for this flight (comes with 20kg + free cancellation), which is definitely the best deal I found so far. But after booking, I suddenly remembered that there will be a national holiday in Japan in Sept. Which may not equate to promotions, but still, SCREW MY KANCHIONG-NESS!

Have yet to book my Taoyuan back to Singapore flight. Shall try to be more patient this time.

Quick summary of Japan part of the trip
- WWOOFing in Azumino-city, Nagano (15 ~ 1 Oct)
- Homestay in East Tokyo (1 Oct ~ 4 Oct)
- Internship in Tokyo (4 Oct ~ 5 Dec)
- Couchsurfing in Chiba area (5 Dec ~ 8 Dec) [Tentative]
- 8 Dec: Taiwan-bound


To-do-list for Day 1
- Collect data SIM card. I have paid for the data SIM card online - via cdjapan, to be collected at Narita Airport. 9,000 yen for 90 days. With unlimited data usage. Not bad I must say. Hope it's reliable.
Buy Limo Bus/ NE'X (Narita Express) ticket to Shinjuku, Tokyo 
Get Suica card (30,000 yen for a start?) --- something like our ez-link card
- Go 100-yen shop at Matsumoto Station to buy things like shampoo, poncho

On a side note, my friends keep telling me that 20kg and SGD$2500(how much I'm budgeting for the Japan part of the trip) is not enough for 3 months in Japan. I'll at most turn to buskering or withdrawing from the ATM.

And I'm trying to come up with an un-lame name for this trip. Don't really like calling it "the trip". Wouldn't be able to differentiate this from my future trips then.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Mid-year updates and reflections

HELLO! My blog is a hermit crab who has found a new home:

I didn't do well for Y1S2. I'm disappointed in myself, and I probably deserve this. I definitely didn't study my best, and forgot my regrets and determination that I had in semester 1. There's no going back; I used up 2 S/Us and I'm only into Year 2. This may be for the better though; I'll probably be pushed into survival mode in Y2S1.

But, I will also not be starting Y2S1 together with my batch mates cos I'M GOING TO JAPAN FOR INTERNSHIP. AND IT'S WITH THE AWESOME ASHINAGA. An internship that I never dreamt of getting as a Year 1. But anything can happen! The whole process+outcome is just so unbelievable, yet I am also certain that it is because of my faith. Now I finally understand what my seniors in faith mean when they said, "You'll know it when you truly chanted and gained benefits."

I am excited+nervous+scared because I feel quite inferior about my academic abilities especially after Y1S2 results came out. Do I deserve such a privilege to intern at Ashinaga? I seriously doubt so... I'm going to be in the Fundraising Research Team, which honestly wasn't my first choice (Student Support Team was) because I didn't think that I was ready for another research internship - wasn't too proud of my achievements during my time in MSF.

But since I've been gifted of the position, I need to work super hard and even harder than super hard to repay my debt of gratitude!

Oh, and SEA Games ended so well despite the repetitive trainings. So proud of my fellow Cattleya Orchids - so much love for them <3<3<3

Poem of the month

Which will probably stay with me forever:

"Hardship becomes one’s strength.
Suffering becomes one’s wisdom.
Sorrow becomes kindness.
One who experienced the greatest suffering
Will enjoy the greatest happiness."

- Daisaku Ikeda

Monday, 27 April 2015

My B grade essay for GL2102 (Yes, I included the pictures in my essay)

Hey, I've moved over to -- see you there ;)

The task was for us to come up with an original story about three people and their positions in the supply chain/ GPE. I'm sharing this simply because I am proud of my essay (except for the convo part... was aiming for something more realistic but was constrained by the word count) regardless of the lacklustre grade. Based on the feedback, I got a B mainly because I did not have any citations and that there are some parts where I could have summarised and developed my story further. Anyways, please enjoy:

Mr. Taxi Driver (Inspired by a true story) 

Part 0: The Vehicle of …? 

This is a story centred on this car below:

Figure 1: Taxi car. Credits to the author. 

If you do not recognise this vehicle, you are probably not a Singaporean because this is plausibly the most common vehicle on the street (they usually vary in fashion but the LED crown on the roof is pretty standard). If you take this vehicle on a daily basis, you are probably richer than the average Singaporean, or simply have bad time management. This vehicle is one of my most necessary tools of survival right after air, water and food – which supplies may depend on this vehicle as well. I depend on this non-living metal produce like a baby depends on her mother’s milk. ‘Milk’ being the metaphor for money and everything else that comes with it, of course. My father has been a taxi driver for as long as I can remember and the one question that I ask him most often is: Why do you drive taxi? The answers that my dad gives comes in several variations like: “To earn money lor”, “To pay for your school fees”, “To put food on the table”, etc. But what my dad does not realise while answering this question is the true intended meaning behind my question. What I really wanted to know was WHY – Why, a taxi driver? His ‘answers’ can be achieved with other types of jobs too. So, why, a taxi driver? 

Biographical insert: My father was born into a family of seven, him being the eldest son. His mother (my grandmother) worked as a dishwasher while her husband (my grandfather) patronised illegal gambling dens around the country. My father never found the need to study hard, nor did my grandparents. I guess for my grandmother, she simply did not have the time and energy to care. He dropped out of school at fifteen and signed on to 5 years of national service. His career choices were limited, so he only tried out two other sales-related jobs before settling down as a taxi driver, a husband, and a father of three. We are not doing too badly; low-middle income, all kids in school (one in, supposedly, the most prestigious university in Singapore), albeit still trying to pay off a few bank loans. As you can tell, we are quite the average family (though not quite the kind that the government would feature on National Day).

My father always says that I need to study hard or I will end up like him. He likes to tell his friends that he has a daughter in university and that he can look forward to retirement. I think he places all his hopes on my siblings and I because he knows that he is stuck with being a taxi driver. ‘Mr. Taxi Driver’, that is his label in society. I understand that with my degree, I am more likely to be better off in terms of material and probably, non-material well-being (which is often made possible by money too). My father even tells me that I can change the world if I want to, and that my background does not matter, but what can a university degree guarantee? There are so many more factors involved in the journey to world domination. Am I bound to become just another worker (albeit paid higher) like my father? For whom am I working for? Am I simply a product of the capitalist production chain that is fated to become the factor of production for an even larger production chain? 

Figure 2: Human Capital Map. Credits to the author. 
Average, I realised, is a very scary state to be in. Because it is so average and normal, I wonder if I would be stuck in it without realising.

PART 1: The Taxi, The Driver and The Creator

One day over dinner, my dad shared with us that he drove his first billionaire. As my father recalled, these two men in suits, one visibly older than the other, entered his taxi and then just sat there, as if waiting for something to happen. It was obvious that they have never taken a taxi before because for the first time in a long time, my father had to ask, “Going where?”

They sat in silence throughout the journey until the older man asked if my father could turn up the air-conditioning (which was already at its maximum). My father apologised, and then went on to explain, “Sorry, FomfortGelgro taxis not very good these days.” The older man flared his nostrils (yes, so much so that my father saw it happen through the rear-view mirror) and said, “What are you taking about? This is FomfortGelgro, the best taxi company in Singapore, if not, the world!”
My father then replied, “Sir, I think you really haven’t taken taxi before. FomfortGelgro rental so high but taxis break down so easily! Always have to waste my time to go repair!”

“How can you say that about my company?!” The older man bellowed, “You should be thankful that we even offered you a job!” My father cannot stand arrogant people and so, despite the fact that this man can (and probably will) make him lose his only source of income, he continued the argument and it went something like this:

Father: Just because you’re CEO doesn’t mean you can be so hao lian (arrogant) hor! Why do you think you are where you are right now, earning millions and billions of dollars?
CEO: Because I am capable, I am the one who brought FomfortGelgro to a position that no one can beat.
Father: Could you have done it without taxi drivers?
CEO: …No, of course I will need workers. But it is because of the brand that I built that people would even be willing to tap on your labour. Which person in the right mind would board on a brandless vehicle? There is no assurance for them as to whether this particular service will be credible or effective! My status packages your taxi service and my high social status is passed on to the service that you provide. A service that people are willing to pay $3.40 the very moment they engage with it.
Father: Yes, but who created this perception of credibility and efficiency? We taxi drivers are your spokespersons! Without us, you and your brand are nothing.
CEO: All I know is that I don’t need a spokesperson like you! You are just another driver, there are hundreds of people who can take over your position. Have fun living in the bottom of the food chain!
Strange enough, my father is still driving taxi hitherto. Perhaps ‘The Creator’ left in such fury that he forgot to note down my father’s licence plate.

PART 2: The Thermos Flask

“Pa, this is your birthday present this year,” I said as I passed him the $50 (god knows why*) Thermos Flask that I bought from the department store. He asked me why I bought it for him, and I said it was because he sits in his air-conditioned taxi all-day. He then said my gift was redundant, because it would make him go to the toilet more often. Does he hate going to the toilet? No. My father avoids drinking water because it makes him go to the toilet which then leads to less chances for him to drive people around and make money. I wish I was exaggerating, and it hurts that it is true, but on a daily basis, my father drinks less than 500ml of water over a period of 12 hours (usual shift). How can he work so hard, to an extent that threatens his own well-being, and yet earn so little? It never made sense to me. Same goes for blue-collared workers like construction workers and factory workers; why are they all succumbed to such conditions? We are all human, but it is perhaps inevitable that we carry different sets of skills, skills that are not equally valued in the society. Because of this, we have to accept unequal conditions. I am reminded of that dark-humour quote from Animal Farm: “All animals are equal, but some are animals more equal than others.”

Before my father became a taxi driver, I used to complain about how high taxi fares are, and that people who spend their money on taxis are just spoilt rich people whom cannot think of better ways of spending their money. But of course, now that my own father is a taxi driver, I know the sacrifices taxi drivers have to make and I complain about how taxi fares are not high enough given the profit margin. Yes, it is very ironic but it goes to show how one’s perception of value can be biased and may be subjected to change.

In other words, an average consumer probably does not value the taxi service as much as I do. Taxi fares are deemed ‘too high’ when the average consumer finds that it is given more value than it should and if we talk in terms of simple economic principles, the demand of taxi service would drop with relatively higher taxi fares. Even if the taxi company does not start retrenching, my father would probably still earn less money than before (given that taxi services are not exactly necessities to the average consumer due to the availability of public and private transport). Moreover, driving is just driving; technically, anyone who has a driver’s licence can be a taxi driver. My father’s labour is very replaceable and high in demand (i.e. labour can even become its own determinant). What matters is the end product; as long as they are able to reach their destinations, who would care about who is driving? Who would request for taxi drivers who give better customer service when they are rushing to get to work? And if the consumer does not care, the firm would not need to care either since their perceived value is derived from that of the consumer. There are, however, times when the consumers are constrained by the producers (be it workers or firms), especially in cases where the consumers place such high values on certain goods and services to an extent that is disadvantageous to themselves. Every actor in the global political economy is so intrinsically bound to one another that it is sometimes difficult to identify who is being played and who the player is. I feel that the power of the individual cannot be underestimated yet cannot be overestimated either. It all ends when you overestimate the power of certain actors.

*I know I said 'god knows why' but it's really just for comic effect. Me no Christian or Methodist or whatever subsidiaries they have.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Response to a typical day on the MRT

I get this weird satisfaction when I am at the top of an escalator looking down, and all the people going in and out of trains, going up and down of the escalators look like bees in a hive.

But I also think to myself, why do I have so little close friends (relative speaking). Like, a person living in a 1000-people village probably have more close friends than I do! I probably have more acquaintances than she does, but in terms of close friends... I'm really not too sure.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Response to my own blog, March 2015

I realised that my blog posts are getting increasingly less intellectual (not that I ever was but yeah). This coincides with recent comments from a few of my friends that NUS is making me more dumb. Maybe my brain isn't functioning as well as it used to. That's really sad because I have really big dreams that I want to fulfill that I will definitely need brains for.

What's my dream? Creating a culture of appreciation. Appreciation for everything.

"You may say I'm a dreamer, but I am not the only one." - If you don't know where this is from, google it.

P.S. As you can tell, my posts tend to progress to something totally unrelated to the title.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Response to my GL2102 essay

Omg I don't get why I'm having so much trouble writing my GL2102 essay... My current confidence level is like zero and I just keep deleting&addingdeleting&adding meaningless words onto a Microsoft Word page.

Am I not cut out for Global Studies...?

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Does money influence our moral actions?

Just read in the paper (Straits Times) that the number of households who support their elderly parents "out of love" is higher in the above $8,000 monthly household income group as compared to households of lower monthly incomes, where the lower the monthly income, the less likely it is for the household to support it's elderly "out of love".
Are our morals determined by our capabilities? Or in this specific case, our economic status?
How does our control over money (or lack thereof) come between our moral intentions/actions?
I find this a bit dark... yet understandable.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose.

But aren't we losing the opportunity to do something else every single second that we're living? What is losing? Is it only losing when the alternative is significant? How can we lose freedom when we have free will?

Friday, 13 February 2015

Mid-semester response to Y1S2 2014/15

Half a semester has passed.... Don't feel like I've achieved much. Did I just waste like, $2000?

Are rights man-made?
People only talk about rights when they feel threatened. 

Saturday, 7 February 2015


There's this visually impaired student in one of my modules and his father would come into lecture with him every time. He would politely go up to the podium and request to record the day's lecture. And then, very cautiously, he would place the recorder right beside the professor before retreating quietly back to the seat beside his son's.

This is probably only 1% of what most parents would do for their own child/children. Nevertheless, it warms my heart. And I'll end with this question: what are you willing to do for your family?

Friday, 16 January 2015

An endless rat race

Came across this remarkable piece of modern art. It's as old as I am. Meaning, people have been stuck in the same tedious cycle of living for at least 20 years now. Someone go put on the firecrackers.

Horses Running Endlessly, Gabriel Orozco


Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Monday, 12 January 2015

Quote of the Month

"Never be swept along by force of habit." - Daisaku Ikeda.

What happens after we die?

Consider these 3 scenarios:
1) After we die, we wait for our next life/ we go to hell or heaven/ other religious theories. And that of all religions, only one is "correct", or perhaps, there exists a sole force that governs all religions.
2) After we die, we simply cease to exist.
3) After we die, what happens to us depends on the belief that we held pre-death, on the assumption that there exists more than one universe. In a sense, all religious beliefs are "correct".
The first two were straightforward enough. I came up with the third one after recalling some Fringe (a show of concentrated, wouldn't say pure, awesomeness) episodes so this is probably not a new/ original school of thought.
I'm just curious about what other people believe in (hence the poll) and your responses wouldn't really affect my current beliefs but do note that this should not be taken light-heartedly. And if you clicked 'Others' please comment down below on your alternative scenario/ belief.