Ruby and Fadzly’s DIY Budget Wedding

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I got married on 3 Dec 2016 and had nothing short of a spectacular and beautiful time. I thought of writing a post on how we managed to have a magical set up, without spending a ton. I haven’t calculated fully, but our wedding costs an estimated SGD$5,000+, for a guest list of about 100 people. I’ll give you guys the breakdown later (and I guess, find out for myself what the final cost is too, haha!). This article is mainly inspiration for other couples who might want to do the same! I don’t think the rest of my friends want to be inundated by the details that will follow.

I also need to include a disclaimer, that I was blessed enough to have some things sponsored/discounted/gifted:

1) Photography
2) Parts of the decor
3) Floral services (like the bridal bouquet, groom’s boutonniere)
4) Wedding favours (with complimentary personalisation)

Out of these, I understand that photography is pretty expensive, and I will not be one to tell you to scrimp on the photographer. If anything, I think you should splurge on the photography because after everything is torn down, done and dusted, the photos are the only things to help you remember the day.

The rest, you can easily get help with, manage yourself, or keep costs low still.

So let’s get on with it!

The concept

Faz and I – okay, I – wanted a simple, intimate, outdoor wedding with a midsummer’s night / garden picnic theme. So think mats on the floor, bottles with wildflowers, fairy lights and beautiful trees. Our Pinterest had pictures like these:

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With the help of my friends, this is what we achieved:

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Here’s how we did it!

Location

Faz and I accidentally rode by Aloha Changi Fairy Point Chalet 7 when the Pokemon craze was happening and he was there trying to catch Pokemon. He remarked that it’s a really popular one because it faces the sea. Realising that it would fit our wedding theme, we decided to aim for it. Civil servants are able to book these chalets a month earlier than the public, and get a discounted rate too, I think. So we asked our two lovely teacher friends to help us. Because the chalet was very popular, and our date was a weekend in December, we would need them to be on the website the night of 3rd September, to book the place at the stroke of midnight when the system opens. They helped us (despite the wife being pregnant!) and we got it.

Cost: $412

Decoration props and materials

Wooden poles and planks

We needed poles to string the fairy lights, and planks to lay between the mats for guests to place their plates and cups. We tried Carousell with no luck, and none of our friends had contacts. We went to Ban Heng Long, who had what we needed, but cost way too much. Each plywood sheet of around 2x1m would give us 10 planks, but while each sheet costs $14.50, each cut would cost an additional $1. This means it isn’t just $14.50 x 2.5 (we would’ve needed 2.5 sheets), but around $60+ after including cutting price. We thought that was too steep a price to pay for something we were using only once. It was wasteful both in terms of money and resources.

We decided to try the Sungei Kadut industrial area, which we found through our research in Google, has lots of manufacturing/supply companies dealing with wood and timber.

We struck gold at Hock Hin Leong / Teckching Timber (56 Sungei Kadut Street 1), where we met Uncle Huat. After telling him what we needed, he told us (in translated Mandarin): “Oh, you only need it for one evening? Then don’t waste your money! Will my scrap wood do?”

He showed us the pile, and would you believe it, they were in the exact dimensions we needed. AND the planks all came in beautiful designs. BLESSED OR WHAT. We had to pick up all we needed, in three trips, so we bought food for them the next two times we came back.

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This was how we transported the 2.4m poles, which were tied securely to our bike.

I’m also happy and proud of this because we were re-using wood that would’ve been burned anyway, instead of buying new ones.

They had some other shapes and sizes too, which he was happy to give away. He kept telling us to come back and take more, haha. If you don’t manage to find what you need from him, his supplier is also on the same compound, and can customise what you need for you.

Cost: FREE

Textiles for mats

My friend Leyna who volunteered to take care of the decor, went to Spotlight and found everything really expensive. Fadzly and I decided to check out Joo Chiat Complex to see if we had better luck.

After much discussion on what type of cloths and in what dimensions, we decided that we would need:

  • 4 strips of 10m thick cloth as a base
  • 12 pieces of 2m, coloured/patterned cloths as accent picnic mat pieces

We found what we needed at Yishun Textiles & Garments (yes, inside Joo Chiat Complex, #01-1067, tel:6743 0664). Uncle Do Re Mi (yes, that is his name as printed on the name card) was incredibly helpful and very honest with us. We told him what we were using it for, and again, when he found out that we were only using it for one evening, he directed us to only suitable cloths that would cost less than $5 a metre. Every time I picked up an expensive one, he would say, “Aiya, don’t waste your money, that one is expensive.”

He also advised against getting 10m, saying it would be too much. Because of him, we settled on 8m, which was perfect and costs a bit less. He checked the length of the roll of textile and guess what? There was exactly 32m (4 strips x 8m) left on the roll. WHAT!

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Cost: $137.60 ($4.30 per metre)

We then proceeded to walk around to get the accent pieces. Our colour theme was blue and so we decided on these three in the end.

cloths

Japanese print: $15.60 for 2 pieces of 2m x 60″ ($3.90 per metre)
Polka dot print: $33.60 for 4 pieces of 2m x 60″ ($4.20 per metre)
Batik print: $32 for 4 pieces of 2m x 45″($4 per metre)

Total costs: $218.80

Here’s what my friend Leyna sponsored for the decor:

Fairy lights and waterfall fairy lights (I believe she spent $108)
Glass bottles
Flowers to put inside bottles

This was what it all looked like, laid out:

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Looks even better with people on it ;). We also told our guests to be dressed in blue!

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Entertainment

We created our own playlist and brought our own awesome Harman Kardon Go+ Play bluetooth speaker to the event!

Cost: Free

Food

Gustos / Four Seasons catering

So, I originally wanted to go with another company, whose branding I liked because they were unique, gourmet and out of the box. Sadly, they disappointed me with the fare that they suggested, and took almost two weeks to reply to me each time. I ended up looking for another company and found Gustos, which is under Four Seasons catering (separate from the hotel chain).

Now them I was really impressed by. Basically, there was no request they said no to. I picked their Secret Garden Buffet as a base, and customised it to how I needed it to be. I told them to omit the desserts as  I was going to have that catered separately. I had many vegetarian guests, and I also wanted to have more vegetable-based dishes, which was in line with my own lifestyle and personal choice to eat less meat for environmental, ethical, spiritual and health reasons. I also needed food to be easy to eat since people were going to be sitting on the ground, holding the plate in one hand and eating from the other – in other words, no bones, big chunks that need to be cut, or peeling. So in the end, my menu was made up of:

Apple, apricot, raspberry, walnut salad
Open-face mushroom sandwiches 
Pumpkin and beetroot mash
Pan-seared salmon with pomegranate salsa and sauteed spinach 
Spicy rempah chicken 
Braised beancurd with assorted vegetable
Vegetable croquettes (breaded croquettes made with I think potato, onions and other stuff)
Sambal prawns (de-shelled)
Crumbled scallops with orange strawberry marmalade sauce
Californian saffron pilaf rice with raisins and almond flakes
Coffee, tea, ice water and passionfruit cordial

Basically, every dish was on point. My personal favourite was the salmon. The mushroom sandwiches, chicken, prawns and vegetable croquettes were cleared out. My vegetarian and vegan friends were happy, and so were my meat-eater guests.

Gustos even included a beautiful garden set up to match my theme and somehow synchronistically used blue and white flowers – I never told them the colour theme of my wedding!

Delivery was also free – the previous company was going to charge me $120 for delivery, as well as $45 a head for the menu which did not have as many dishes as this.

The original price for the Secret Garden buffet was $32/pax ($34.24 w/ GST), and the staff from Gustos, Jerine, shaved it down to $30/pax for me.

Cost: $3,200 ($32 x 100 guests; including GST)

The Love Crumbs desserts

I got my friend, Nancy, who makes amazing cakes and desserts, to cater for my wedding. Again, I wanted out of the box stuff. Her expertise and specialty is in melding flavours together, so I was super excited. She asked for a list of flavours to work with and I settled on this:

  • Gula melaka, or something Malay in taste
  • Reverse carrot cheese cake (coz I saw her post it once)
  • Lychee
  • Bandung
  • Lemon meringue something (coz I love lemon meringue tarts!)

Here’s the final spread (my own descriptions except where mentioned – so I might’ve missed an ingredient!):

Gula melaka cake – “Pandan Chiffon with molten Gula Melaka sandwiched between layers of Malibu Creme Chantilly and Preserved Palm Seeds (aka “Attap Chee”), top layered with a generous scatter of Caramelised Coconut in Gula Melaka.” (Description taken from her FB page, The Love Crumbs)

Everyone RAVED about this – myself included. The blend of the flavours as well as the different textures in the mouth was just, RIDIC. PLEASE, do yourself a favour and find an occasion to order this.

Carrot cheesecake cupcakes – carrot cake (with huge sultanas and visible grated carrot) with what tastes like a tangy apple sauce layer before a yoghurt-y cream cheese layer, and light cream on the top. I am literally eating one as I type this. Yay for leftovers hahaha.

Salted caramel lemon meringue crumble slice – I never imagined salted caramel on lemon curd but that is Nancy’s genius for you. A tangy lemon curd topped with salted caramel, on a a cripsy, crumbly base (I need to find out what was in it!!).

Rose lychee profiteroles – oh my god, this is another of my favourite. A light vanilla cream filling infused with rose and lychee flavours, WITH AN ACTUAL PIECE OF LYCHEE, in fluffy choux puff pastry ball! I had some friends said this was an orgasm explosion in the mouth, hahaha!!!

Nancy also gave me a gift of one extra strawberry cake which, looks unassuming but on closer look I realise had many intricacies. In between each sponge layer was some kind of delicious strawberry cream and strawberry chunks, and under the main layer of exterior cream (which was white), I noticed a light pink layer too.

Everyone couldn’t get enough of the desserts and I still have friends raving about it the day after the wedding. Haha. Get in touch with Nancy via her FB page, The Love Crumbs!). She will advise you well with regards to quantity if you’re worried about food wastage.

Cost: $1200 (for 90 pax with delivery, after I gave her a budget of around $10-$12 per person)

Our special requests to guests

We asked our guests to bring their own plates/tupperware, utensils, and cups, because it was very important to me that my party was environmentally-friendly. I feel deeply for our earth and it pains me to see bags and bags of plastic plates at parties, that people use once and throw. We still had some disposable plates, cups and utensils but at least they were biodegradable cornware, that the caterers provided. Those were for people who missed the memo or forgot to bring their own things. I’m proud to say that we generated only one trash bin worth of waste, that is mostly biodegradable as we barely used any plastic. I think that’s amazing and am super happy about it.

We also asked them to be dressed in blue because I thought it would complement the theme and the variety of shades and hues would give us really nice pictures!

Wedding invites

We invited our friends and family via Facebook, Whatsapp and phone calls.

Why spend money on a card that is going to be thrown away right after the event? It is wasteful both in terms of money, and the earth’s resources.

Wedding favours

I wanted our wedding favour to be from a social enterprise so that we could support their cause. After some discussion and research, we decided on something lovely that people would actually use: natural soap bars from Sensatia Botanicals. I had come across this company while doing an article for Asiaforgood.com (a DBS website focused on social enterprises around the region) and really liked them. I was in touch with Ethan, the distributor in Singapore, for the article, and so I reached out to him again to see if I could get the soaps at wholesale price.

I found out that wholesale price is only applicable for an order of 500 pieces and above – I only needed 100. However, Ethan was extremely kind and generous to give me that price anyway, in appreciation of the article that I wrote. I don’t think I deserved it but yes, I was very thankful for the discount. He even personalised them with these gorgeous bags and fabric flowers, and delivered the soaps himself to the chalet.

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Soaps! With an explanation of Sensatia’s cause, and why it’s better to switch to bar soaps.

I know that typically people keep the cost of wedding favours low, maybe between $1 and $4. Since we had a small guest count, and the proceeds were going to a a good cause, we spent $5.70 per soap.

Cost: $570 ($5.70 x 100 pieces of soap – 20 pieces of 5 different scents)

Hair and makeup for Ruby

I decided to go with my polytechnic friend Stella, who is a producer and freelance makeup artist. She very kindly offered me a friendship price of $250 (U.P $300) for makeup and a simple hairdo. She already charges slightly lower than market rate because this is not her full time job.

She basically gave me what I wanted without me having to explain too much. I just wanted a natural smokey look, matte eyeshadows, natural falsies, some contouring, and natural, long-staying lip colour. For hair, I wanted a side braid, with some flowers stuck into my hair.

She nailed it!

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Look at my glow! You can’t see the flowers coz they are mostly stuck behind. The best thing? My makeup stayed flawless all night, in the humid Singapore weather. I remember staring at my pores at the end of the night thinking, holy shit, this still looks so good. I provided my own foundation but she layered a few other products under and over it. I loved the natural coverage and contouring!

She waited patiently for me when I was late to our appointment. We experienced an unexpected inefficient check-in process, and ended up getting the keys 40 minutes later than the agreed upon early check-in time. She still managed to complete the look in less time than we had without compromising on anything.

Cannot be more pleased.

Contact Stella through her website Makeup Your Mind.

Cost: $250

Photography

Now, I know how important wedding photography is. I read enough articles to understand that scrimping on the wedding photography is a bad idea. Besides the fact that the photos are going to be the only physical memories you have of your special day, photographers deserve to be paid fairly for their professional training, equipment, time, effort and expertise.

All that said, we needed to keep costs low – professional photography was costing at the low end $600, and at the high end around $1500 for around 3 hours of photography (and editing and etc). We weren’t really satisfied with the $600 portfolio, and loved the $1500 one but… It was $1500.

Two beautiful, big-hearted friends offered to be the event photographers for the day, they said that they considered themselves amateurs, and that they would not be offended if we also had a professional photographer on that day as well.

My partner and I looked through their photos on Facebook, talked about this, and we agreed that, because it was a simple affair, with no walking down the aisle, and mostly shots of us standing/talking with friends, and etc, that we will choose to forgo super professional photography. Besides, our friends’ photography was actually pretty damn good!!

We also decided that we would spend the money on taking more couple shots when we were in New Zealand (I’m moving there to study for two years), with the jaw-dropping scenery there.

I thought this all sounded very fair. Our simple outfits had been bought and not rented, and so we could always take them to New Zealand and use them again.

With that, we decided on getting our kind friends to do the photography for us. Here are some of our favourite shots 🙂

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Our outfits

My outfit was bought from Vaingloriousyou on Haji Lane.

  • Top $62
  • Skirt $95 (the website says $88, did I get overcharged?!)

Fadzly put his outfit together from a mix of places:

  • White top $39.90, H&M
  • Navy blue vest $49.90, H&M
  • Pants $49.90, Uniqlo
  • Shoes $129.90, Pedro

Total cost for her: $157

Total cost for him: $269.60

Bridal bouquet and groom boutonniere

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I wanted a blue-themed bouquet!

Cost: Free. Sponsored by my dear friend Leyna.

Her cost for all the flowers needed for the event (decoration, bouquet and boutonniere) was $108 from Far East Flora after a 10% member discount.

Wedding rings

We wanted something simple and hardy. We never believed in splurging on rings, so we went to Couple Lab to get a simple pair of surgical steel ones. Tarnish and rust-resistant. Fadzly got this other material which is also scratchproof.

Total cost: $72 ($34 for my ring, and $38 for his)

Miscellaneous items

Questionnaire Guestbook from Kikki.K: $25.25 after I used a 20% discount code sent to my email (U.P $31.90). We LOVED this! The book has questions that guests answer – we got some funny and lovely entries!

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Pens for guestbook: Free. We brought the ones we had from home.

Posters explaining guestbook and gifts, and sign for clean up area: Free. I used Jukeboxprint.com to create beautiful posters, and brought my Ikea frames from home. Sneakily printed posters at the office where I am temp-ing – it was only three sheets! One of the posters:

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Extension cords: Free. Borrowed one 25m-long one from the work place, the rest we took from our home.

Fan rental: $40 x 2 with free delivery and pick up. This was the cheapest and BEST service. I had looked on Carousell and searched from Google. The next cheapest one was $60 a fan, excluding delivery charges which was $20 one way! Fans were in great working condition, they arrived on time and were picked up on time by two nice young chaps. Contact them here.

Extra stools rental: $1 per stool, free delivery for 21 pieces and above from Mr Daylen (9847 1704). Super friendly guy who delivered promptly and picked up the next day with no issues. On hindsight, we didn’t need the chairs because the chalets had enough! Nonetheless it was only $25 for 25 chairs.

Sustainable bamboo toilet roll for guests to clean up plates/tupperwares: $6.65

Photos of us: Printed at a shop in Bras Basah Complex. $12.25 for 35, 4R-sized prints. Collected in 2 hours.

Locally-made Hush Candles to gift to our set up team: $144.45 (for 10 candles. with 20% discount; U.P $18 each), from Mondays Off, my friend Leyna’s retail business. I recycled some cards with nice prints to make thank you cards.

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Total cost: $253.60

And the grand total is…

SGD$5,926.40!

I excluded my make up because it was something that I covered myself since I was the only one using the service. It is $6,176 if I add the $250.

The total goes up to $6,603 if we include our outfits, which we can continue wearing after the event.

The best thing about all of this was how not stressed, Fadzly and I were throughout the whole process. I always found it silly to be stressed out about such a joyous occasion, and I’m glad I stayed true to my principles. I didn’t sweat the small things and trusted that everything would go well in the end. The only thing I was worried about was the weather. But my prayers were totally answered by Mother Nature. We had beautiful cool day and the most gorgeous sunset.

So!

I don’t know if anyone made it through the entire article, as I know it is a long and detailed one. If you’re planning a wedding and read the whole thing, then thank you, and I hope it was helpful. Please feel free to reach out at rubytan.work@gmail.com if you have any questions. Faz and I are happy to answer them!

Happy planning!

 

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Ruby’z NZ/HDB “Fundraiser”

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Piha Beach, Auckland, New Zealand. Dec, 2011

Thank you for coming to this page to find out more.

Many of you know that I’m moving to New Zealand to pursue my dreams of becoming an outdoor adventure guide. What some of you may not know know is that my husband and I also received the keys to our BTO flat on 13 December 2016. You could say that we did, and did not anticipate this coincidence.

Back in 2012 when we applied for the flat, going back to school had not been in my reality. Choosing to attend a 2017 course was also a decision made later on, thinking that the flat would have arrived sooner (the project was delayed because the construction company had gone bankrupt. News article here.)

 

We have started purchasing some basic appliances and furnishings, and collectively they cost a lot. The money I had put together for my time in New Zealand I am now spending on the home, so I am trying to earn more. Funds raised will go towards my living costs in New Zealand and furnishing the new flat. In case it needs to be said, I’m not the type to live lavishly and we are not doing anything fancy for the home either. #wearesimplepeople

Here’s what I’m offering!

Email Akashic Readings

To find out what an Akashic Reading is, check out this page of my healing website. If you’re feeling stuck, lost, seeking understanding, got some burning questions about a relationship or a career, and need loving advice from a Divine source – this will help. I personally have gained A LOT of clarity from accessing my own Records and have witnessed other people receiving the same during the readings. If this is calling to you, keep reading.

I have always done my Akashic Record readings in person or via video chat. I feel that the interaction is nice and may foster a better connection with the person’s Records. My teacher has also told me that non-face to face readings may be more difficult to channel.

Most people I know work from 9 – 6pm and are free afterwards. I’m free 9 – 6pm and busy afterwards, which makes it very challenging to schedule appointments.

So, I would like to offer an Akashic Reading via email, where you send me a set of 4 to 5 questions and I’ll send a reply with the answers gained from your Akashic Records. 4 to 5 questions is the average number we cover during an hour-long face-to-face session. You can add 1 or 2 extra questions which I will answer if I have the extra time.

 

IMPORTANT: This is experimental. The first few people who take this up will need to send me some honest feedback to let me know if the answers were in resonance, were clear, and ultimately if it served them. If it turns out that non-personal readings will not work, then I will have to scrap this project. So please jump on if you are willing to sit with me through this ride.

COST: By donation. If you need a gauge, I normally charge $100 for a one-hour reading. I think $50 – $80 is fair for an email reading. I’m also flexible enough for you to send me only 1 or 2 questions for a smaller donation amount. You will send the funds through after you have received the answers :).

If this all sounds good to you, please send an email to theforestryhealing@gmail.com. I will reply you with a PDF consent form which you fill out digitally and return (no need to print, fill and scan) – this gives me permission to open your sacred Records. In the email where you send the completed consent form, please also send your 4 to 5 main questions, and 1 or 2 bonus questions. I will get back to you within 3 working days.

Thank you so much for your support. I’m looking forward to helping you receive guidance and clarity.

Love, Ruby

Tomorrow is my 10th anniversary with Fadzly

 

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Us at the summit of Mt Rinjani, Lombok – September 2016

10 years.

10 years.

Holy cow. 10 years.

Most days, it doesn’t feel that long. And I think, many of the long-term couples might agree that after a certain number of years, you stop counting. I think I stopped after 6 or 7.

But today, I just thought I’d take stock of our relationship. Maybe 10 years is something to celebrate, y’know? It’s about a third of my life that I’ve spent with this guy, right?

The story of how I met my partner

Some of you will be familiar with this story, some of you won’t. But I like telling it coz I think it’s funny and being on my spiritual path now, I also felt like, that moment when I laid eyes on Fadzly for the first time, was actually something big happening.

It was a fine day back in 2006. Probably June or something like that. I was a Temasek Poly student waiting to board bus 23 at the bus stop outside Boon Keng MRT. Walked up the stairs to get to the higher deck of the bus and there he was… In his curly-haired glory and in a white and red TP sports singlet. I believe he was slightly looking down. Yes, I hold on to this memory so dearly because, like I said, I felt that it was an important moment happening in my life’s timeline.

I remember thinking to myself: Mmmmm… This boy is cute. Hahaha!

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He’s still cute. Hello Handsome. Outside Kallang Wave Mall – December 2015

He was seated in front of his friend. And I remember thinking, “You need to turn around and talk to your friend so I can see your face more!” But he didn’t. Subsequently he also didn’t get down at the main bus stop so I figured he must’ve gotten down at the next one where the sports complex was.

Some weeks later, I was standing near the entrance of the Business school building talking to a tutor. Normally I’m the type to go straight home and I can’t remember why I was hanging around. Who walks in but this cutie with my CLASSMATE. And I was like, “A-ha! They’re friends!”

I actually texted my friend, Cornelius: “Hey, your friend is kind of cute, haha.”
And then of course being the teenage idiot that boys tend to be, he wrote back, “He says you have nice boobs.”

Obviously Fadzly did not say that. Or maybe he did. I WILL NEVER KNOW.

Because this idiot DID NOT see me on the bus. He didn’t see me at the school entrance either.

So this story could’ve been more magical but the fool was not observing his surroundings. Lolol. It’s okay, it does make for a funnier story. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Between then and now

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Us climbing Mt Halla on Jeju Island, South Korea – November 2012

Sometimes when I place myself back in the moment of my memories, whether in a bout of mental reminiscing or looking through old photos, it feels like the 10-year mark is so far away.

But here I am. About to be married to this man at the end of the year, no less.

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The proposal! On Ulsanbawi in Seoraksan National Park, Sokcho, South Korea – April 2014. You can also watch a video of our trip and the proposal here.

I like to think that I’m really lucky. Some couples are meant to be together and they do love each other, but they also have to work hard to be together. I don’t have this issue with Fadzly. If anything, this relationship is the easiest thing to manage in my life. We’ve had our humps (damn you, NS) but largely… I can count on one hand the number of times we’ve actually blown up at each other (I think that’s a grand total of one or two). Of course, we’ve had little arguments and they were always worked out calmly and quickly.

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Goofing around in Melbourne, Australia – December 2009

Mostly I’m lucky because Fadzly is super, duper chilled out. I think if he was more reactive, we would have bigger blow-ups and longer silent treatment days. I’ve learnt, A LOT, from him, especially with regards to chilling the fuck out and not giving a shit so much. He’s tolerated a lot of me taking my anger out on him even when he wasn’t even the trigger (like, thank you PMS), tolerated my demands, always was willing to say sorry and make up (even if it wasn’t his fault!).

I know, like I said, I’m LUCKY. And it’s not that he’s a doormat mind you – he just doesn’t have the ego to want to fight for his way, and he acquiesces to make it better for me.

The day I became aware of how I was taking stuff out on him sometimes, I felt really bad and I don’t do it anymore. So I’m thankful that he’s stuck around until the point where I realised myself what I was doing.

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HAHA HOW APPROPRIATE IS THIS PICTURE. Location unknown, Singapore – February 2010

He never tried to change me, or ever gave me any explicit advice on how to be a better person. What he did was be his genuine, chilled out, easy-going, flexible self, and I learned by observing him. I remember asking myself before, how is it that we would both be looking at the same situation, and I’m boiling inside and he’s totally cool with it? So, THANK YOU SENSEI. I love you for all the things you were able to teach me when I was with you, just by being all of you.

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Rafting in Rotorua, New Zealand – December 2011

Fadzly has always been a pillar of unconditional support for me. He celebrated all of my achievements and held me when I failed. Do you know how comforting it is to be assured that no matter what happens, he is standing behind my back? That he wants to see me soar? To see me happy chasing my dreams? That he’ll be there to hug me when I fail, and encourage me to try again? Like really, really, always, always there?

You all know I make it a point to be honest about life – that it’s not easy, that I’m not perfect, that I struggle with many things. But, I truly don’t struggle with my relationship with Fadzly. I almost feel bad that my relationship is this good. Especially when people have a hard time with theirs – it’s difficult for me to empathise. And if you think that I’m bragging here then maybe you don’t know me very well. I truly, am filled to the brim with gratitude, that I have it this good with my man. And how lucky am I to have met him early in my life?

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Kayaking along the coast of Santorini, Greece – March 2016

I think the magical thing is that we are extremely similar in the very important things, and different in the things that will help each other to grow. For example, my fiesty, quick-to-anger teenage self needed to learn how to calm the fuck down – I learnt this from him. Fadzly’s super reserved and accommodating personality needed to learn how to express his discontentment and not bottle up his displeasure all the time. He learned how to get angry – even at me. To put me in my place and say cut it out, when it needs to be said. He still asks me to do things like call for the waiter in the restaurant or make appointments over the phone though. Lol. Sometimes I push his butt to do it, sometimes I cut him some slack and do him the favour.

Otherwise, we have the same desire to travel; to live a slow and simple life – though it wasn’t even that way. Until 2009 when we travelled for the first time together to the Gold Coast, Fadzly wasn’t keen to emigrate (which was a dealbreaker for me because I’ve always wanted to move) – but the trip changed him. And I remember when I was an egoistic 20-something asking him time and time again what his dream was and what he wanted to achieve – and there was nothing. I remember getting frustrated at his lack of ambition. Now I know, he’d gotten it right all along.

ALSO, he’s a pretty hilarious guy.

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Pretending to be shepherds in Sibiu, Romania – April 2016

There was a period where I wondered why he had stopped with all of the romantic gestures – it was something that bothered me for a good 2 or 3 years, until slowly, I changed to match where he was. I didn’t need those romantic gestures anymore, and I understood where he was coming from. Not that neither of us are lacking in the department anyway – we still can pull some pretty sweet moves, but it’s not something we both need anymore to keep the fire going.

We were growing at the same pace… I think that was the trick to how easy it all has been. It’s when one person outgrows the other and the latter doesn’t catch up, that I think is when rifts happen.

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Chilling on the beach. Lamma Island, Hong Kong – October 2011

Oh yes, if it’s one thing that I get lots of comments about, is how excited and how in love and infatuated I still am with Fadzly despite how long we’ve been together.

When I talk about Fadzly, and how I miss him because he’s away, how I admire him so much and how excited I am to see him on his off day, or to travel with him, and etc. People seem to be pleasantly surprised to know that I still get the butterflies in my tummy even after 10 years.

Every time I think about his face, I think about how cute he is, and I think about his jokes and laugh to myself and am just filled with this warm, excited feeling.

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Celebrating our 3rd anniversary at Botanic Gardens, Singapore – October 2009

We still text each other goodnight every night and good morning every morning. I remember we talked on the phone every night for about 4 years of the relationship.

I just never get tired of his company. He makes me so happy, so easily, that I had to check myself because I was running to him whenever I couldn’t deal with my own issues. Feeling lonely? Text Fadzly. Feeling stressed? Text Fadzly. Feeling bad? Lousy? Sad? Text Fadzly. There was a difference between needing comfort and escaping discomfort and I was doing the latter with him. I’m in a better place now ;).

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Us appearing in the Straits Times for a story on unique ways of creating travel memories. Singapore – February 2015

It’s hard to describe the closeness and ease in which I feel when I’m with Fadzly. The best way I can try, is to say that I know that Fadzly and I, as souls, have travelled together in many lifetimes – not just as partners but as siblings, friends, and etc. Try to imagine being with someone you’ve known since forever. That kind of stability, that kind of trust, that kind of comfort, the kind of knowledge that you don’t need to try anymore… It is a blessing he has chosen again to travel with me in this lifetime. Whenever I think of this I feel a deep, deep bliss, gratitude and joy in our companionship.

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Catching the dismal sunrise at the Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia – December 2013

Of course, the one thing which many of you know, is how I’m not converting to Islam before marrying Fadzly. Again, I’m lucky. That he’s not religious, that he decided around 4 years or so into the relationship that he wasn’t going to push me to convert if I couldn’t embrace Islam. This was at the risk of cutting ties with his family and his community. I am always incredibly appreciative of that offer. I will stand by him wherever I can during this time as he tries to invite his family members to our wedding.

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So, tomorrow as we celebrate our 10th year together in this lifetime as a romantic couple, we are also attending a ceremony to honour our union. It is going to be done in the presence of my spiritual community (another thing I’m so thankful for). And I really appreciate how Fadzly is willing to do this for me because it’s important to me, even though he doesn’t have any strong spiritual beliefs.

I have to write my vows and I think I would also want to write a speech of gratitude, for everything that this man is to me and has done for me.

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Thank you for sharing experiences and creating memories with me. At Balea Lake, Sibu, Romania – April 2016. A video of our East Europe trip is here.

Thank you, baby, for being in my life. I tell you time and time again and I always mean it: thank you, thank you, thank you, for choosing to come with me again into this world. I have so much to say to you and I will say it in person tomorrow.

I love you with all of my physical and spiritual self.

My experience hiking Mt Rinjani, Lombok (plus tips!)

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Awwwwww… Would you look at those clean, happy, naive faces at the start of the hike.

Actually, our faces at the end didn’t look too bad either but in between is a variety of ugly, exhausted, despaired faces (and some smiling selfies).

Fadzly and I climbed Mt Rinjani from 11 – 14 September 2016, and, well, it’s really easy to say on hindsight that everything was not so bad but if I took myself back to moments like this:

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Yeah, actually this bit was fucking hard. Like, I-teared-a-little-bit hard.

Anyway, here’s a little guide / our experience climbing Mt Rinjani, including information on the harder bits of the climb, the more beautiful bits of the hike, what to bring, the company we went with, toilet business, rubbish on the hike, and more! I wrote this really as some sort of remembrance for me, and for any of my friends who might do the hike in future. It’s gonna be a long one, so here goes!

Trekking Company: Green Rinjani

After a little research online (and it was little because I made my mind up pretty quickly), we decided to go with a 4D3N Deluxe trekking package (USD335) with Green Rinjani.  Here are our reasons why:

  1. They’re environmentally-conscious
    Our guides and porters took all of their trash down and even cleaned up after other groups sometimes. I saw my own guide stub his cigarette out and put it into a box, instead of throwing it on the ground like the others do. The state of the mountain in some areas are truly terrible. I didn’t take any pictures of the trash laying around but check this one out from www.saverinjani.com. There’s also the tree planting. rinjani trash.jpg

2. They’re socially-conscious
Aril, our guide, was a freelancer, and we found out that Green Rinjani pays their guides and porters the highest. This was super important to me. I didn’t want to pay for a cheap package if it meant that our guides and porters were being exploited. We also found out, (and confirmed what we read from our research) that John’s Adventure was one company to avoid. The company treats their staff very, very poorly (firing them when they get injured during the hike, for example).

3. The service was E.X.C.E.L.L.E.N.T from start to finish
Aril lent his jacket and trekking pole to Fadzly at no charge. He hiked all the way to the summit with us (not all guides do). Though he walked ahead of us (coz he was so fit), he would also be at slippery/tricky points to point out to us where to step so that we would not slip/fall. He lent me a hand to get me down quickly (my challenge is with descents because of my knees) and painlessly. He carried snacks and our water for us at certain points, took pictures for us. He was really funny, friendly and knowledgeable about the plants, wildlife and trails (he has been climbing Mt Rinjani for 20 years, since he was 7 – he jokes that it’s getting really boring). The porters were all extremely friendly with their own tales and jokes, cooked AMAZING meals and were always ready with the food and tent before we got to the checkpoints. That aside, we were picked up with no issues from the airport, transferred to the hotel quickly and easily after the briefing at the office, and taken to the starting point in comfort. On the last day, we were dropped off at the doorstep of our next accommodation after a final lunch.

My fantastic experience is not isolated, you can check out their reviews on TripAdvisor (like we also did).

Where we stayed the night before the trek: Rinjani Lighthouse

Funnily, thinking back now, this was the nicest place we stayed in during our entire time in Lombok. It had hot showers, was clean, and was very beautiful.

We were able to choose from a series of accommodation options based on the trekking package (where the night’s stay before the trek, was included) and decided on this after some digging around the interwebz. No ragrets. Check out these shots:

We arrived when the sun was already down. Pardon the messy bed and mosquito net.

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This place was where we had our only hot shower for the trip. Hahaha.

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Sunrise the next day. Beautiful! It’s worth mentioning that this place is elevated and surrounded by forests so the temperatures we experienced were a cool 23 deg. Lovely!

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Walking to breakfast at 620am. A car would take us to the Green Rinjani office to drop our extra bags off before the climb, at 7am.

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View for breakfast.

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Someone is not awake yet.

THE HIKE – Day One

Gear required: Hot weather climbing gear. Slap on sunscreen or prepare long sleeves. Cold weather clothes necessary at base camp (late afternoon/evening time).

Cue the happy faces you saw at the start of the post.

We already met our guide, Aril, the night before, where he explained the route to us and checked all of our gear to make sure we had what we needed for the climb. Fadzly had to borrow a winter jacket (because he didn’t check the packing list and blames me for not telling him there was a packing list, lol what) and a trekking pole. Normally you have to rent it but Aril was very kind to just lend it to him.

Our route was going to be: start point > base camp [sleep] > summit > crater lake (+hot springs!) [sleep] > crater rim [option to sleep here] > Pos 2 [we chose to sleep here] > end of trek.

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Got milk?

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This part is your regular “hike” there are lots of ups and you are carrying your backpack, so you do get tired but nothing mindblowingly difficult.

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Here’s me planting a tree as part of Green Rinjani’s reforestation programme. My concern is whether or not the tree will be taken care of :(. So my prayer is for our trees to grow big, strong and old! May it serve the land and all other living beings.

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Really I was trying to take a photo of our porter’s really ripped limbs. The guy squeezing the bottle of water is our guide, Aril.

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First meal of the trek! Lunch time. We didn’t take many shots of our food but it was great! There was always lots of protein options and carbs to tide us through. It was stuff like rice and meat+veggie. We had a green curry one night, gado-gado one night, and a delicious fried rice on our 3rd day which I polished off cleanly.

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Base camp – we were quite tired already. We reached here close to 5pm and rested while the crew prepared dinner.

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Inside of our roomy tent. This is where you’ll have your wet wipes “shower”. Fadzly and I tended to wipe off at the end of each day’s hike, before dinner.

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That purple box you see is our toilet. Haha. I believe the Standard package comes without the box and while initially hesitant to go with the more expensive Deluxe package – I thought I had no qualms going in public – I eventually admitted that this little box was a big plus. The porters would dig a hole for you and you’d do your business there. This was also great because 1) shit would not be lying around (oh, we saw some piles) and 2) peeing in public is one thing but as a girl, taking a dump in the wild was very unnerving – and you can’t go unless you’re relaxed, y’know?

THE HIKE – Day two (Part one)

Gear required: Top and bottom base layers, winter jacket with hoodie, windproof layer, gloves, headlamp, trekking pole, lots of steely determination. If you’re with a company, you can leave your bags behind, which is an immensely helpful thing.

Day two started at 2am. For some reason, I kept going to pee and could not fall asleep the evening before :(. We had started resting at 8pm, which would give us a nice 6-hour sleep but I think I only had around 2 – 3 hours of shallow sleep. What do you do though? Onward you go.

The stars we could see were RIDIC. But it was very cold and we were kind of sleepy still and so there was no time for picture taking. Our porters would take care of our belongings while we left with just a bottle of water and our gear.

The start of the hike was kind of tough, with steep sandy slopes, and you can only see what your headlamp illuminates. I quickly realised this was kind of a good thing, you only see the path ahead of you and not how much more you have to go. So you just keep taking that one step forward, and then rest when it gets tough.

So much of this was a mental challenge as much as it was a physical one. At one point I started singing to myself to pep myself up. I laughed out loud when Aril started playing music on his phone and Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud” came on – “When your legs don’t work like they used to before…” HAHAHA. NO SHIT.

We had two and a half hours of trekking before we hit the hardest part of the entire climb. Bear in mind that we were already half shattered (and this was like 5am?).

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In daylight, this was what we needed to climb. In the dark, you had zero fucking idea.

The sunrise was early that day, and we were already slow, so we missed the spectacle. But it was still spectacular witnessing the sky change colours as we were climbing. The following pictures are taken by our guide, Aril.

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Fadzly pausing for a shot. We would go down to that lake (left) later that day.

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What we could witness of the sunrise.

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The climb up. Spot me on the left in the turquoise hoodie.

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People behind us. Do you see Fadzly?

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A completely candid shot I didn’t know Aril captured. This was one of the most mentally-challenging things I’ve ever faced. The elevation was steep and the scree was impossible to ascend steadily. You would take five hard steps and randomly slide backwards three times. It feels like you’re walking in the same spot. REMEMBER WE ALREADY HAD A HARD HIKE 2.5 HOURS AGO.

When it was dark, it was feeling that the summit was too far and that I wasn’t going to make it. Once the sun came up, it was knowing that the summit was indeed too fucking far. Hahaha.

I went into mindfulness and gratitude mode, thanking all the parts of my body for working up until this point and that no matter how tired it was it still took one step at a time. That helped a lot. Finally what worked for me was to just climb 10 steps at a time, disregarding how many times I slipped back, and then rest. With every 10 steps I looked up and felt like I wasn’t even getting close. But with every few stops I also looked back to tell myself that, hey, look, you started from the bottom, so you’re definitely moving. Don’t be disheartened!

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Am not even sure how I’m smiling here. I legit teared twice in frustration and reconsidered my decision to go into outdoor adventure guiding.

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Fadzly and I had a real laugh at this picture, coz we zoomed in and found this:screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-4-11-19-pm

Here’s a face that says he’s had enough. Hahahahahahha. Truth is he was a wonderful hiking partner. He took the water bottle from me because I was getting frustrated with it and continuously encouraged me.

Anyway, pushing on, we finally made it. Way beyond sunrise but, we made it!!

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Fadzly and I were reflecting on hindsight, that for us both, by the time we got to the summit, it was more of feeling “thank god it’s over” rather than “yay we achieved something!”. I was so knackered I couldn’t appreciate being up there – but I could have. So if you’re going up and you find yourself completely wiped out at the summit, I implore you to take a step back and shift into joy and celebration. You just reached the top of a mountain, enjoy it!!! I sure wish I did! It’s the one little regret I have.

Anyway, after taking our pictures, guess what?

Now we have to go down! Bloody hell.

Quickly I discovered that going down was 3 times easier than going up. Because we just slid like we were skiing (sort of). I had bad knees so Aril took my hand and guided me down. We got to the bottom of that slope in probably 30 minutes. Ascending was mother bleepin’ hard and going down was a breeze. Lol. The rest of the descent back to base camp was actually still long and challenging, mainly because you were so tired and the morning sun was now in full force.

I wish I could say I got back to the tent and K.O-ed but I couldn’t actually fall asleep because the noon sun was cooking me in our oven of a tent. I took what rest I could and then the next hike was to the lake.

THE HIKE – Day two (Part two)

Gear required: Hot weather climbing gear. Feel free to change back into shorts.

Day two is a long day. We left the base camp at around 1pm after eating lunch.

The next part of the hike was not difficult and was one that I really enjoyed. It was fairly flat and took me through lots of forest and tall grass. Lots of time and ease to take pictures!

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Amazing porters carrying about 30kg each and traversing everything with just flip-flops. They are seriously incredible.

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The lake is my favourite, favourite part of the whole hike because of the gorgeous scenery and laidback itinerary (pics later, which we snapped the morning after). We got here around 3-ish pm and settled to make camp. Our porter then walked us to the hot springs which we were SO looking forward to.

We have no pictures but the warm water was extremely soothing to our muscles and it felt amazing to finally get the grime out of my fingernails and wash my hair. We could even do some laundry. Man, I didn’t know rejuvenated until I experienced being in a hot spring after 2 days of hard hiking.

Got back to our tent around 5pm and waited for dinner. Then Aril (guide), Sudirman, Awal and Suma (porters) made a campfire!

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This was when we really got to spend time with these guys! Making jokes and hearing stories… Aril talked about ghosts and that stopped Fadzly from going out at night to pee. Creeped me out too, admittedly, lol.

THE HIKE – Day Three

Gear required: Hot weather climbing gear.

We went to bed at around 9 or 10, I believe. And this time I had the most delicious sleep. Woke up with the sun at around 6am. We had the luxury of having breakfast at around 730am, and needing to leave only at 9am.dscf2702dscf2703

Because it rained slightly and anyway clouds come through so frequently, our clothes were not that dry. I strapped some still-wet clothes to my bag (Osprey Kyte 36), which worked well!

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Best breakfast with the forest around me and beautiful view in front.

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Aril and Sudirman messing around with our camera. Haha.

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Today we were hiking our way to our third campsite, which you can choose to either be at the second peak, Pos 3 or Pos 2. We had decided on Pos 3 because that meant a 4 hour hike down (instead of 7) on the last day, but when we hit Pos 3, we decided that with my bad knees, we should hit Pos 2 so that we didn’t have to wake up so early on Day Four.

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Lunch time at the second peak. The views are supposed to be nice but it was cloudy – so we saw nothing – and cold. We had to get our jackets out.

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No picture of the meal but this was the one I polished off. Fried rice with egg, chicken and keropok!

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Aril, our friendly guide and part-time cook.

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A peak inside a porter’s basket.

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Made it to Pos 2. The descent was actually quite long so we were happy that we decided to do it on this day rather than on the last day. We reached camp only at around 5pm? The hike down was very similar in scenery to any nature reserve in evergreen Singapore, with the added perk of cool, dry weather.

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Last dinner for the night. Instant noodles and getting to try the guides’ sambal cholit! They ate it at every meal with rice. It’s Lombok’s version of sambal that is really like a salsa (with visible tomato chunks), slightly tangy and with a strong taste of belacan (dried shrimp). I loved it! Sadly it was too spicy for me so I couldn’t take much.

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Campfire again!

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THE HIKE – Day Four

Gear required: Hot weather climbing gear.

Not much to say! We packed up, and began the descent, which I think was for about 1.5 hours or 2 hours.

Tada!

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There it was, the end of Mt Rinjani. We still had a short walk to the carpark where our taxis were waiting. And on the way there Aril took us to a waterfall viewpoint as well as pointed out cocoa and coffee fruits.

I also told myself that I would get the slippers that the porters wore. They must be some kind of magic, right?

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The brand is Sky Way – which they pronounce “skee-wai”. I found it in a souvenir shop for IDR11,000 (SGD$1.20).

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Before I end the post, I wanted to share a couple of tips for the hike that we didn’t find on other sites.

Tips

  1. Cut your fingernails as short as you can. The trails are dusty and grime does get stuck under your fingernails.
  2. Trying to figure out how much cold weather gear to pack was tricky. In my opinion: pack two top base layers (one for every evening/night, another for the night of the summit hike), one bottom base layer, a really good windproof winter jacket (with hood) and you’ll be good for the cold nights. I didn’t have windproof jacket so i improvised with a raincoat jacket on top of my winter jacket.
  3. Bring a small bar of 100% natural, eco-friendly soap and you can clean up at the hot springs.
  4. Bring biodegradable, eco-friendly, bamboo-based wet wipes (NooTrees is a good brand) so they can be buried in the toilet holes when you clean up after your business. Please still take your “showering” wipes down the mountain.
  5. Buy Biore’s Sara-sara body powder sheets. Use them after the regular wet-wipes wipe down. These will leave your skin feeling dry and smooth. I’ve tried many, many brands and these are the best.
  6. Bring non-sticky makeup wipes to clean your face. They’ll clean it best.
  7. If you have compression tights, bring them. They’ll help you recover or keep your muscles from getting sore.
  8. We didn’t need any insect repellant even though the trekking company said to pack some.

And that’s it!

If you read everything, thank you! I hope it was helpful or interesting for you.

Would I do the hike again? Yes, minus the summit. If anything I’d very much like to go back to the lake and hot springs. Maybe camp a few days there, in fact.

If you’re doing the hike, I wish you all the very best. Try to remember to enjoy every bit of the hike :).the-summit-is-not-the-only-place-on-the-mountain-quote-1.jpg

Innisfree Canola Honey Hand Butter (Rave) Review

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Excuse the korean.

YOU GUYS.

If you could only buy one hand cream right now, make it this one. I am absolutely in love with it.

And to put my love for it in a bit of context, here’s what you need to know:

1) I never bother with hand creams.
2) I used to work at Her World. I got tons of hand creams for free. And I still have some of them waiting to be used. In other words, I don’t have to buy any.
3) After a colleague let me try the Innisfree Canola Honey Hand Butter once, I went and bought it with my own money.

Now that I am applying it daily at work, I know that it’s one product I’m going to continue buying. In fact, I’m wondering whether I should buy another tube to keep at home.

I’m not going to go into too much details about the brand Innisfree. Briefly, it places big emphasis on using natural ingredients harvested from their pristine Jeju Island farm (is ‘farm’ the right word?). This hand butter contains honey from said island.

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The consistency is thick but absorbs fairly quickly. I don’t find that it leaves a greasy afterfeel but I do spend a good 20 seconds rubbing it into my palms and fingers. It leaves my hands with a light, sweet, slightly powdery honey scent, and makes them oh, so soft and smooth. I feel like it forms a protective coating as well, without any residual oiliness.

And that’s actually what makes it a winner for me. Even after I wash my hands, I can feel that they are still moisturised, with that delicious smooth and nourished feeling. Even the scent lingers!

I got mine in Korea, for I believe, about SGD$7. And I went to the Innisfree store in Singapore to see that it is $11. Not too much of a difference. A 60ml tube can go a long way as I squeeze about only a pea-sized amount for both my hands to be covered adequately (see amount in picture). If you find that the hand butter is too rich for your liking, give their other lotions a shot. They smell really, really good and the packaging is too cute.

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I’m actually keen to try other Innisfree products now, after seeing how fantastic this hand cream worked, for a very reasonable price. I’ll be hoping to try their face moisturisers soon-ish. I say soon-ish because I still have a number of tubs that I’d gotten before (from my days in Her World) to go through before I need to go out and buy one.

Well, that’s all from me today! Hope you enjoyed the short read and I’ll be happy to hear about your favourite hand creams too! 🙂

Why you should travel while you’re still young

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You know, I guess I find the most motivation to write when I’m bored. Haha. This was something that hit me while I was sitting on the can. Yes – don’t you know the can is where the best ideas hit? It’s such a conducive place for creativity.

I was chatting with a friend who is 58. She was telling me about expensive flight tickets and how she didn’t have much of a choice but to get them despite having budget issues because well, her body couldn’t handle uncomfortable budget travelling anymore. And it’s just another reason why I think people should go explore the world in their youth. So here, I give you five simple reasons why you should travel while you’re still young.

1) You can endure a 10-hour budget airline flight, bus/rail journey

Therefore transport costs are cheaper! When you’re older, your knees and back might not be able to handle sitting in the cramped quarters of a moving tin box anymore so you’ll prefer to go full-service or business class, which is a more expensive ticket.

2) You’re still willing to stay in a hostel/budget accommodation

Again, this just means you’re saving on expenses. As you get older, you might find that climbing up onto that top bunk is terribly inconvenient for your arms and legs. Also, some of you might feel just a little out of place being the only 48-year-old in a dormitory of young, lithe twenty-somethings. Of course, kudos to you if you don’t give a shit about that.

3) You’ll still have energy for activities

Yes, you could maintain good health in your golden years but let’s face it, most of us aren’t elite level athletes and our bodies will  deteriorate to a point where we are just too tired to explore. Do you think you could handle that four-hour hike for a gorgeous panoramic view? Could you still enjoy the last bits of a full-day tour without just wanting to go back to the hotel to rest? Would you sign up for midnight activities? Maybe – but probably not. Your exploration may be limited to sitting in an air-conditioned bus throughout your entire holiday – and where’s the fun in that?

You can't see it but we were battling fierce-ass wind to take this picture. The wind was so strong coming up to this peak I had to crawl on the ground for stability.

You can’t tell, but we were battling seriously fierce wind to take this picture. The wind was so strong coming up to this peak I had to crawl on the ground for stability.

4) Student/Youth prices

Okay, I know this is another one related to cost savings, but when you’re young (and broke), that’s really one of the more important things: stretch your funds so it sustains you comfortably throughout your entire trip. Whether it’s admission tickets to points of interests, transport passes or even restaurants, being a student or youth can get you lower prices.

5) You don’t have responsibilities

I mean, no kids, no house, no bills, no parents to care for (yet), and you’ll have time to rejoin the workforce when you come back. People have this worry that they will lose everything they’ve built – and I can totally understand that it’s an incredibly scary thought. But it’s also totally unfounded. What if nothing goes wrong? Truly free time is short – if you don’t go now, then when? When you’re saddled with committments? Lets see you drop everything and leave then.

If you let the negative “what if” hold you back from doing what you really want, well, you’ll never find out about the amazing “what ifs” you could’ve had.

Some of you might say, well, money may not be an issue when I’m “older” if I keep working now, so I can afford the fancy comfortable hotels and expensive air tickets. See here’s the thing:

Would you have the time then?

Money can always be earned – seriously. Always. But once your time and energy is gone, it’s not coming back no matter what you do.

I came across this quote and I absolutely loved it. I think it’s come up here and there in a few of my pieces already. But  it just really struck me – and I hope it motivates you too.

Randy Komisar quote_credit Lifehack.org

That’s it for this entry :). Lots of love! ❤

 

Skinnyme Tea Teatox Review

Hey guys, I haven’t been posting much because I don’t know what to write about. Sometimes I’m lazy. And there haven’t been any good questions coming up in the A Sentence A Day journal.

I have been on a Skinny Mint teatox since 21 July and I thought, why not do a review for the last one I did, a Skinnyme Tea one? So here goes!

SMT Header

Picture from their website, www.skinnymetea.com.au.

Two friends and I decided to do the teatox after I stumbled upon the brand’s Instagram account with loads of Before/After success stories. It seemed to work for so many women. I made sure the reviews were legit by checking the hashtags to see that other people were uploading their results on their own, and not through the company.

After splitting shipping (with tracking) with my two friends, a 14-day teatox cost me SGD$47. It arrived in about two weeks, if I remembered right.

Taking the tea was easy, a teaspoon of loose leaves from the Daytime mix, and a Colon Cleanse (night time mix) teabag every other night (starting with one on the first day). Both blends were easy to drink (to me anyway; taste is subjective). In fact I added honey to the daytime tea on the first day and found that it tasted better without. Both have a herbal profile, quite similar to green tea, no odd aroma. The instructions did say to take the daytime tea half an hour before your breakfast. I was still working from home at that time, so it wasn’t so much of a hassle. But I’d imagine if you were the sort who liked having breakfast at home before getting to work, that the half an hour wait needed some working around. Take a shower and do your makeup first maybe? After all it’s only for two weeks.

Image from Instagram.

Image from Instagram.

The Colon Cleanse did not give me any out-of-the-norm stomach aches. I personally did not experience diarrhoea or going more frequently for Number Two. My normal habit is to go once every morning. Occasionally I would go once at night, after drinking the tea. I can’t actually say that it was due to the tea, as sometimes I do go an extra time in the evening. Bottom line: it didn’t affect my bowel movements too much and I’d steeped the teabag for 2 -3  minutes, as recommended.

Do take note that senna leaves – an ingredient in the Colon Cleanse tea which has a laxative effect – affect different people differently. My other pal who was doing it did have to go do Number Two more times in the morning. Some women complained of cramps – sometimes too painful to continue with the teatox. I personally think it’s a little unfair when customers get angry about how the tea affects them this way because it is stated clearly on the website that the night time tea has a laxative effect – you make the decision on whether or not you want to give it a go.

Results

Of course, the point of you reading this is to find out if it worked. For my friends, it did not. For me, it did.

Here’s the thing, the tea isn’t a miracle worker, you have to hold up your end of the bargain with eating healthily and regular exercise. My friends didn’t do that. Some lucky people report eating rubbish and still losing weight while on the teatox – well good for them, I don’t think most people are as fortunate.

Around the end of 2013, I had started eating cleaner and upped my exercise because I wanted to be a better athlete. I dropped 2kg and started building more muscle. However, my weight loss seemed to stagnate after two months. I couldn’t lose any more excess fat. Yes, yes, there are other ways to get it going again – like running, but I hate running. I wanted to see if this could help. I’ll admit – I wanted a quick fix.

After taking this tea for two weeks, without much change to my existing healthy eating habits and exercise (clean eating on weekdays, two cheat meals on the weekend), I lost 0.5 inches each from around my waist and my tummy, and 1kg. It doesn’t look like a lot, but I really needed that last 2 kilograms to budge – I wanted to go from 57.5kg to 55kg. At the end of the teatox, I was at 56.5kg. It has been more than two months since I completed it and I haven’t put the weight back on.

Image from Instagram.

My take on the tea’s effects

I am not sure it helps to curb cravings. Some people say it does that for them, but I don’t know if it’s just a placebo effect. I did find myself eating less while I was on the tea, but I cannot say for sure that it was because of the tea. I got busy with writing and when I’m busy, I tend not to feel hungry or get cravings. Plus, I just spent $47 on bloody tea, I ain’t giving in to temptation and let it go to waste. It’s easier to ignore chocolate and cakes when money is on the line.

What I do think genuinely helped, was the detoxification, and improving the efficiency of the digestive system; getting rid of the backed-up gunk inside. Plus it had ingredients that can boost your metabolism, so if you were exercising, you would be burning a bit more than if you didn’t have these little helpers.

In fact during my second week, I wasn’t able to exercise as frequently as my regular 3 – 4 days a week, I only worked out once that week. I still saw the little budge I was hoping for at the end.

Overall, I would recommend it.

But you must do your part in eating well and working out. The tea helps as a booster, not a cure.

PS: I am not posting Before/After pics because I’m a bit hesitant putting something like that up on the world wide web, but if you would like to see it, just let me know and I’ll send it to you. It’s not much, but you’ll see a difference especially at my waist area. Which, I really need help with because I have that body type that doesn’t have a waist. Le sigh.

I’ll do another review of the Skinny Mint Teatox when I’m done with it around the middle of August. Lots of love!

A Sentence A Day Project – #3

A Sentence A Day_cover

You know, when it comes to these posts, I never know whether to post them just as an interesting question comes up, on the day itself, or to do “throwbacks” for more thought-provoking questions which I don’t have time to do an online reflection for.

I’ve decided to be more flexible. The reason I am sharing these reflections is actually in hopes that when you guys see the questions, it makes you think of your own answer – sometimes that kind of reflection brings about wonderful epiphanies. So without further ado, here is today’s question, which is actually a July 6 entry:

ASAD_Poster 3

At first, ironically I had a hard time answering this one – the cliches just weren’t coming into my mind. I actually came up with the answer only because I saw it somewhere: Live in the moment.

That is my favourite cliche for now, at this point in my life.

I think we all worry way, too, much. I know, I know – it is so much easier said than done but I think we can all try. And a little improvement in letting go of anxiety about the future, brings us that tiny step closer to living happier.

I think being a little spiritual makes living in the moment a little easier – you have faith that someone or something is looking out for you. You know that everything is going to be okay; you know if you don’t get something that you want right now, something better is going to come your way. And with this, you won’t worry so much about the future because you just know that it’s all going to work out in the end.

worrying poster

Sometimes rappers have good advice.

But besides not worrying, living in the moment heightens your experiences. When you throw yourself fully into something that you’re doing right now, you get to savour the moment for everything – every emotion, every of your five senses that it’s engaging. The monkey-mind isn’t thinking about what’s going to happen later, whether anyone has left you a Whatsapp message, what you’re going to eat for dinner later.

I’m sure everyone has gone through something like this before, when you were so engrossed in something you didn’t feel the need to check your phone for messages, to eat, to talk to anyone – wasn’t it wonderful for the mind to be 100% absorbed?

Lastly, my one wish is for people to not chastise themselves for a “bad” decision saying, “If I had known I would…” – well that’s the thing, isn’t it? You didn’t know and would have no way of finding out. Nobody knows what’s going to happen in the future; you make the best decision you can based on all the knowledge you have right now. Acknowledge that if it turns out to be a “wrong move”, it is simply a lesson for you to learn. Don’t see it as failure or a mistake and beat yourself up for it – see it as something to learn from. I know it can be hard distinguishing between the two, I really do (been there, done that). The line is fine, but it’s there. And staying on the positive side makes decision-making a less worrying affair ;). I’m nowhere close to being able to automatically do this but at least I am aware and am trying, and that’s good enough for a start :).

So, tell me, what is your favourite cliche? Bet you’d take a while to think of one. Haha.

Good news

I must say, the Universe has impeccable timing.

In the last three days, I was wracked with guilt. In my attempt to find myself and chase my dreams, I had momentarily forgotten my responsibility towards the one person who loved me so much, she sacrificed much of her life for me: my mother. Those of you who know me, know my family story, know that my single-parent mother means a lot to me.

And I had forgotten that I had a slowly aging mother who shouldn’t be working so hard, while I was sitting at home picking and choosing assignments to take on so I could enjoy free time. Suddenly my bank account seemed pitiful; suddenly all I wanted was to get a steady job so she didn’t have to work so hard.

The fear and worry began creeping in. About two weeks ago I had applied for a community service officer role with an international school, United World College. And while I really wanted it, I told myself not to be attached to the outcome – if it’s meant to be, I’ll get it; if I don’t, it just means something better is coming my way. In the last three days, I fretted about not getting it more.

I was due for an afternoon tasting session yesterday and felt really lousy about myself – how could I have forgotten? I should chase my dreams but I cannot forget to make it up to the woman who means so much to me. To let her finally take a break after her years and years of toiling for my family.

A watercolour carnation tattoo I've always wanted to get, to never forget what my mother has done.

A watercolour carnation tattoo I’ve always wanted to get, to never forget what my mother has done.

Walking to the train station, I asked the Universe to send me support in this time of fear and doubt, to give me a sign that they are there. A small support first came in the form of a friend who coincidentally entered the train cabin I was on. The short chat took my mind off things for a while.

When I met the marketing folks for the tasting, I left my worries behind too.

Then lo and behold, at around 4+ I received the call from UWC. I had dropped them an email about being overseas from today till Sunday and so they were calling earlier.

I GOT THE JOB!

I am so, extremely happy about this. More importantly, it has reassured me that the Universe is looking out for me. They must’ve withheld the call until I got to experience the guilt, as a reminder to never forget again. Like I said – the timing was impeccable.

I am so excited about this new chapter in my life. The job opportunity came up out of the blue and while I was initially set on freelancing full-time, I thought of giving it a go because it seemed like a position that could teach me a lot. And here I am :).

Just feeling really blessed and thankful now. Plus I’m off to Bali for a semi health retreat! What a fantastic week :).

A Sentence A Day Project – #2

A Sentence A Day_cover

Hello again! I’ve just finished all the work I needed to do today (woohoo!), so I’ve decided to squeeze in quick a reflection with today’s ASAD question before heading out. If you are reading this in the office at 445pm on a Friday, I am about 80% sure you haven’t actually done any work in the last hour either.

Today’s question:

ASAD_Poster 2

The immediate answer that came to my mind was: CAMPS.

As some of you might know, I now juggle my time between freelance writing and facilitating camps for school kids. It was something I decided to try out after returning from my soul-searching trip to Nepal.

I don’t know if I’m getting old, but man, am I bushed at the end of the day – I’m practically a zombie. And besides sleeping early that evening, I needed another half a day the next day to really get back to normal. Do you think it’s age, or something else? How is it creeping up so soon? I’m 26, goddamit! Not 62!

I’d love to be able to last through a whole 3D2N camp, but I think I’d be kinder to myself if I stuck with the one-day and 2D1N camps before progressing on. It’s pretty ironic that people used to know me as the kid who wouldn’t stop talking and wouldn’t keep still unless she was sleeping. Haha.

WHAT HAPPENED MAN?

So tell me, what do YOU wish you had more energy for?