Growing old.

A lot of my thoughts these days are circled around age and growing old.

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It is rather surprising how much my thoughts have changed in a span of five years.

When I was younger, I thought of nothing but success. My mind and body were driven by ambitions coupled with a few daydreams here and there.

If you sat down and asked me questions about my parents, I probably won’t have much to say. Simply because I have taken them for granted.

I think a lot of us have. Maybe we didn’t use to, but at some point, we all change.

I have a vivid memory of my eldest brother sitting in the living room with me when I was 16/17. It was probably late at night because at that age I have the tendency to stay up all night living in the fantasy world created by JK Rowling, rereading the books again and again.

More than once, while my eldest brother came back during the weekends from college, he would sit with me and talk about our parents. Most of the time, I appeared uninterested and annoyed. I just wanted to read my books. But what he said stayed with me. He told me to be grateful of my parents. Despite arguments and attempted runaways from me, they have been through a lot to put us through school and support us financially for any endeavors we wish to take on.

But none of us can go against time and old age. We all grow old one day, and whether it’s going to be graceful or heart-breaking, we never know. I just hope it’s not going to be like the nightmares I used to have as a kid.

I used to cry myself to sleep knowing my parents will one day no longer be around when I was 7/8. I think that was when I began to understand life and death.

一起变老

那天在上阿里山的早晨 一开始就被在巴士站的阿桑拉着说的士也能乘上山而且一样价钱不用和别人挤。这个个人意见就是看你自己咯,如果能摆脱阿桑那就乘公车吧。我们被阿桑说了好久好久 而且阿桑口气有点凶,到最后就随便上了他的车 (现在听起来很危险的感觉 其实也没有啦。)

后来有两位老人家也和我们一起上阿里山。一路上两位老人家有说有笑 谈着天南地北的事情 让我想起自己和哥哥们的关系。

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两位老人家是家人。老先生是堂哥,一把年纪了却很积极的环游世界。老太太是小时候被父母亲带到高雄眷村的外省人,在宝岛上生活了一辈子。难得和家人见面,两个人一路上两小时的车程,让我感触很多。暖暖的阳光打进车里,两位老人家说起小时候的事情,嘻嘻笑笑的,话题离不开家人但也夹杂了对现代社会的看法。老人家也很期待这次上阿里山的旅程。收音机传来早期蔡琴的歌,老太太哼了起来。两个小时我们就这样和两位老人家相处就过了。

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小时候和哥哥们成长的记忆就是一起捣蛋的画面。上了小学中学后 和哥哥们的回忆也没那么多了。长大后更别说了。我们各自到了不同的国家深造和生活。

看着车上的两位老人家和窗外的风景,我希望我和家人也能这样一起变老。

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陌生的城市

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無意間一個人來看展, 用自己的節奏欣賞一些平時看不到的人文事物.

穿梭在人群中, 想起以前看過的YouTube Video ~ How to be alone by Tanya Davis.

以前一個人待在華盛頓時, 我離開了熟悉的生活圈子和愛人, 為自己的事業打拼. 來到陌生的地方要自己一個人生活就覺得像在Game裡一樣, 開一個新的Save slot, 新的adventure.

這一次的旅程快要結束了, 有很多的不捨, 也給了我機會好好沉思, 為接下去的日子努力.

(這是匆匆忙忙update的, 剛剛抵達充滿亂跑的小孩的台北動物園。)

在路上

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這是看了三天兩夜的景。在14樓看透了嘉義市,也體會了5AM被暖暖的太陽叫醒。

我自認很愛旅行。可萬萬沒想到在經歷第48天流浪的日子,在海拔2216米的阿里山 我默默的看著四周的旅客和自己,覺得我們很可笑。

我們都拿起相機和手機拍一些與我們距離很遙遠的老樹。

深呼吸。在那一刻 我開始警覺 擔心 我是否會開始以這樣的態度來看待接下去的每一段旅程和未來的生活。

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去年的春天我在吳歌窟尋找自己,尋找信仰和道理。在那一段旅程中我深深體會到流浪就是用心去聆聽世界萬物的秘密。

一年後的我是經歷了什麼?為什麼不是用那時的想法來欣賞阿里山的美?這是我這一年裡的成長嗎?

是時候檢討一下自己了…

台南

Tainan reminded me of many places.

The traffic light at every single intersection made me recalled my days in Washington, D.C. Back then, I would walk around avoiding stop lights. I hated them. I did the same in Tainan but different from WDC, there are many surprises hidden in the alleyways.

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When we were in KenTing, the pace of life was painfully slow. Not much cultural or historical spots to lose yourself. It was a place to spend time with nature. It was in some ways, quaint. KenTing is like the old neighbor you see everyday watering her flowers in the yard exactly at 9am when you leave for work and she would greet you again when you’re getting home in the evening. Predictable.

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窄門 cafe

Tainan is a city full with artists, makers interested in preserving its culture. So everywhere you go you’ll find shops cramped with interesting products made by local craftsmen.

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Modern art and design is booming but a lot of the older traditions has survive as well. We stayed next door to this famous wood-carving shop. The shop is now survived by its third generation master. I wish Malaysia is on the same page at preserving its history and culture, there would be a lot of things to talk about!

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It’s a city so lively and at the same time filled with treasure. There is always something at every corner if you just look closely enough.

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Getting lost in the plethora of temples was enjoyable. There’s so many temples that I have lost count of how many incense sticks I have lit. There are a lot of historical spots in Tainan and most of them are very well preserved. The government takes preservation of its culture and history seriously by turning centuries old building into shops, community centers, galleries, etc. This also opened up a lot of opportunities for entrepreneurs.

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The two weeks I spent there were comfortable. I forgot all about my worries and truly focused on discovering the city, peeling its many layers one by one.

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Secondhand bookshops, cafes, hawker stalls, temples, any alley that looks remotely interesting and I will take that path.

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Homesick

In the midst of this bustling airport in Busan, I am missing many things. As travelers from all over the world crowd over me and share food with each other while I sit there idly, all I can think about is  home. I miss my family, my loved ones, my dogs, my normalcy.

There was one point in my life that I thought life was about seeking the next adventure and battling the next challenge. Little did I know that maintaining the normalcy in life and accepting it is a challenge in itself.

Adventures ahead

Others have asked me why did I plan for such a long trip in Taiwan, and I asked myself that too. The other times that I have traveled it was always about going to the tourists spots, snapping a picture of whatever that was famous there, and the whole day is spent that way, as if collecting stickers and then letting them rot in a corner.

The past few weeks have been interesting. I have experienced a different way of eating BBQ and steamboat. I have come to understand how the w orking culture is in the little towns. I have driven a motorbike on the streets and around town. I have experienced a mild typhoon. I have ventured into spots that only locals know. There’s a lot of firsts here. And I plan to let it be that way.

Goodbye KenTing, 再見 墾丁

I woke up to strong winds and good weather yesterday morning. We only had one day of rain in the past 14 days. From blazing hot afternoons to chilling mornings, I savored every moment of it.

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I spent my days talking to locals, watching TV, exploring the town, riding around surrounding areas, bathing in the warm sun, absorbing the various smell of delicious food all around town late at night, and feeling the cool breeze on my face early in the morning.

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Life moves on a slow pace here. The days start early and end early. Around 4pm, there’s still enough time to stop by the beach and catch a little bit of sun ray.

The life of our receptionist at the backpacker’s hostel is simple. Everyday she guides tourists from all over the world to places that they should see. Everyday she greets and sends off people with a smile. She plans everything that guests would need, food, bus routes, places to find good food, etc.

She has this quiet demeanor, so calm and peaceful and always helpful.

When I asked her about her life, she simply told me, “This is it. I’m comfortable here and I have found my rhythm. There’s no need for me to seek change.”

“It took me a couple of tries to find what I wanted. And every time I changed jobs, I made sure it was something totally different from what I have done but still something I’m passionate about. That’s how I came to realize what I am capable of, and what I like.”

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I got drawn into this constant dreamy state. I watched how the time and clouds flew by. I spent afternoons staring at the mountains behind and the open sea in front of us in awe of this island’s beauty.

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Attaccabottoni

As cliché as it sounds, I, like many others out there, am searching for my reason to live.

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One can say there are so many views to see in this world, so many stories to listen to, so many food to taste, personal records to reach.

But really, in the end we bring none of these to the graves with us.

I used to be ambitious and crazy about success. But I have lost my definition of success. I have seen young adults like me at my age and at their peak. One particular friend tells me he doesn’t know what to do next. A comfy high paying job at an international oil & gas company has left him feeling drained.

I have long came to the conclusion that wealth and monetary gains do not mean much to me in achieving happiness. But I also understand that life needs to go on and we need to play with the rules of society.

Finding that balance is key. And to do that, I need to find some ways to balance my principles with the reality of life.

On the road

While everyone is celebrating our nation’s independence, enjoying fireworks and barbecuing food, I spent the day going from stop to stop.

I thought the most excruciating part would be the bus ride down to Kaohsiung. Luckily there is no time difference between Malaysia and Taiwan, and I was dozing off by the time I got on it.

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Roof of TPE

This trip was decided on a whim, and I didn’t research it religiously like how I used to.

I have come to the point in life again, where I need to sit down, recollect my thoughts, and ponder upon my future.

Two years ago, I was given the opportunity to work at my dream company. But due to unpredicted circumstances I had to pack up everything and move home, foregoing what I saw as ‘once in a lifetime chance’.

The change was hard as photojournalism is not prevalent in Malaysia. I knew how to get to where I want when I was in the States. But back home, I lost all connections and do not know where to start from.

I worked on personal projects, I looked for other opportunities but because of my limited experiences in South East Asia, I had a lot of doors closed on me.

I no longer had the spirit I used to have when I touched down on the Malaysian soil. My first reaction was to go somewhere else.

I have always had this thought that going to another unfamiliar place is like reading a book. You set yourself in this world where reality can’t hurt you.

I spent a few weeks in Cambodia enjoying the Angkor temples, sitting at bars eating tropical fruits while watching people rushing home during rush hour.

Then I went home and started working at the biggest broadcast company in KL.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different result. – Albert Einstein

Well then, I have definitely lost my marbles those 12 months. I lost my edge, I lost my curious mind, I lost my sarcasm, I lost who I am originally.

Another stint at a magazine company made me think about what kind of company I want to work for in the future.

I have yet to find the perfect answer, and while I am here, working on personal projects, exploring this country, I hope to find myself again.