Reflections of 2014 (And Some Favourite Travel Highlights)
Admit it. We always turn pensive when New Year’s Eve rolls by.
The last day of each year, somehow commands an enormous power to make us think. Whether you like it or not, you tend to contemplate, to muse and chew on the little high and low moments of the year that went.
I rang in the New Year by making a dish of Malaysian chicken curry for my new-found German friends at their place. I’d tried my best to emulate the simple flavours of home but without the right ingredients, it didn’t turn out the way I’d wanted.
The curry was way too creamy, the chicken not flavourful enough.
But because it was already late and everyone was hungry, I couldn’t just dump the dish into the bin and make another. Besides, I didn’t have enough ingredients to start making another one.
Unfortunately, for me, the dish must be served.
I was disheartened that the dish wasn’t up to my expectations, despite receiving nods of approval from my friends and my boyfriend. They’d wiped their plates clean and yet, I was slightly peeved– at myself.
MY OBSESSION WITH PERFECTION
It was then I realised how much I’d value perfection over joy. Perfection over good. Perfection over done.
This flaw has made me give up many projects halfway and reduced me to a mere seeker of perfection instead of enjoying the process of creating something. And sometimes, with nothing to show for myself (since I end up binning everything that I think isn’t perfect) I dig myself deeper into disappointment.
Naturally, at the end of it all, I’d give up. The cycle of despair continues– it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, you see.
But thankfully 2014 was about a year of dogged persistence.
While I still tend to demand for all things to be smooth and perfect, I am now more mindful about my control issues.
NOT HAVING ENOUGH TIME TO TRAVEL
So in most of 2014, I still made it a point to travel; even when my regular 50-hour work week in a fast-paced advertising agency in Singapore made it almost impossible.
Sure, there were times where I thought it was futile to even dream about going anywhere with only 14 days of annual leave. I thought I couldn’t do mini weekend getaways or short weekly escapades. After all, I was a wanderer, wasn’t I?
But to completely give up travel?
That was a harder pill to swallow. I started to give structure to my travel plans and watched out for public holidays and cheap flights. It didn’t hurt me to plan–even if this notion of planning and creating a travel itinerary seemed ridiculous to me before.
Again, it wasn’t perfect but it was enough to scratch that travel itch. My limited time had made me more creative with my itinerary. I roamed more by doing fewer places within a short time.
And you know what—if you’re one of those cubicle monkeys and are giving me excuses about not being able to travel, then well, they’re just excuses.
OCT, 2014: I QUIT MY JOB AGAIN
For the longest time, I thought I was ready to settle down. 6 years of wandering around the world and living out of the suitcase had exhausted me. So I traded my freedom for a regular paycheck and the rest you can say, was history.
What the hell was I thinking?
There wasn’t a day where I woke up and thought that surely I could do better than this. This corporate life was turning me dull and uninspired. I was putting on weight and yet I was constantly exhausted.
I respect those who can do it, but it just didn’t work out for me. I enjoyed the stability for a while and the spending power that came with it, but it didn’t make me a better person.
It didn’t teach me how to lead a more meaningful life or how to be more creative. In fact, I grew to resent my work and everyone else around me.
I didn’t feel grown up; I felt old instead.
So I saved up furiously and set myself a date of freedom on the calendar. When the time came, even without hitting my savings target, I knew I had to release myself from the binds of corporate life.
It was hard to hand in my resignation letter to the hand that fed me. It felt as though I was ungrateful.
“Why are you quitting your job at the age of 31? Aren’t you getting too old for this?” friends and family admonished.
For a while, they got me convinced. But on the very day I quit, I realised that their truth didn’t resonate with mine.
To me, you will be never too old to try to live a more meaningful life. You’re never too old to pursue your dreams.
Because tomorrow, you could die.
At some point in your life, you will have to stare death in the face.
What will you say to Death then?
DEC, 2014: RELAUNCH OF THE TINY WANDERER WEBSITE
I thought it was only apt to relaunch this blog in conjunction with the festive period of Christmas.
It wasn’t perfect: there are still a lot of things to be done on this website and I still have limited knowledge on how to build a successful travel blog.
Yet, it was now or never. There will be plenty of time to tinker around with the layout and styles of the blog but for now, my main aim is to keep you entertained and informed.
Hence, I’d like to thank each and every one of you who have journeyed with me this far. You’ve been nothing short of amazing.
I may not have been the best of bloggers but you have remained loyal, rallying along with me throughout the year. Some of you have spurred me on by writing in. You’ve asked me some tough questions, challenged me in some ways, shared some parts of your life and for that, I will always be grateful.
I really hope to know more of you guys this year.
For parting words (since I’m not the one with New Year resolutions and all), here are some of my favourite travel highlights of 2014.
2014 FAVOURITE TRAVEL MOMENTS
CHASING SUNSETS AT MOALBOAL, OSLOB AND SIQUIJOR ISLAND, THE PHILIPPINES
CAMPING OUT AT THE GARDENS BY THE BAY AND WAKING UP TO AN AMAZING SKYLINE OF SINGAPORE
HAVING COFFEE WHILE WATCHING THE WAVES AT TIOMAN ISLAND, MALAYSIA
A SIMPLE PICNIC AT CREMORNE POINT, AUSTRALIA.
DOING PARADISE ON THE CHEAP, MALDIVES
SWIMMING ALONGSIDE MANTA RAYS IN MALDIVES
TAKING THE ‘WORST TRAIN RIDE IN THE WORLD’ FROM BAGAN TO YANGON AND DISCOVERING THAT IT WASN’T SO BAD AFTER ALL.
STUFFING MYSELF WITH GLORIOUSLY CHEAP FOOD AT KANCHANABURI’S NIGHT MARKET, THAILAND
STAYING AT AN AMAZING HOSTEL IN BANGKOK (SAPHAIPAE HOSTEL)
DANCING AND SINGING IN THE RAIN AT BERLIN’S TEMPELHOF AIRPORT (NOW A PARK)
MEETING UP NITHIN AND NOEL LAU: THE AMERICAN NOMAD HAD INTRODUCED ME TO A MALAYSIAN PILGRIM VIA EMAIL IN 2006. BUT ONLY IN SINGAPORE, 2014-FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER, WE ALL THREE GOT TO MEET UP IN PERSON.
At the end of the day, that’s what the Tiny Wanderer is about: the love of travel.
A huge part of my life will always be dedicated to waking up in a strange town, surrounded by cultural practices and languages so different from my own. I am always the happiest (and the most fearful) when I have no idea what is in store for me. Even the most mundane task like buying a train ticket becomes an adventure on its own in a foreign land.
Here’s to 2015 , dear readers.
Stay open; stay curious.
How was your 2014? And any travel plans for 2015?