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Change is the only constant, but change is not always easy.

The pandemic has affected all of us in one way or another, some of us had experienced it in ways greater than others. It is a time filled with uncertainties and helplessness, frustration, fear. It is important for us to realise that this too will eventually pass, to hold on to grit and hope, and more importantly be prepared for the post-pandemic world.

I hope all of you are doing okay.

We make the best out of what we have. That is the attitude I held on to since the beginning. This pandemic is almost like having a panic attack – let’s cope – come to terms with reality, stay calm, be smart about it, learn from it, and know that it will come to an end eventually. And then prepare ourselves for the next big wave after we come out of this. Make the best out of what we have.

2020/2021 is just chock-full of big changes for me – in work, in relationships and in my general outlook on life. All these were also inevitably amplified by the pandemic, from small changes like not being able to head out for that much-needed drink with close friends, to real issues like watching people whom I hold close to heart leave the country without knowing when they can return. I feel grateful that the people around me are healthy, and that we still have the resources to cope with the adversities as they come at us.

“You are talented, you have a lot in life”, is what many close friends will say to me when I tell them that I feel lost with my future. I reckoned that everyone MUST feel like this every once in a while. Like I’ve said before, I might not know what I want in life, but I know what I don’t want – so that is still a good guide to my next step in life. I feel that there are a lot of things I can do and want to do (or maybe this is just the ENFP in me), I am the Campaigner and I sure have a lot of campaigns I have for myself albeit them being just ideas or grandiose daydreams with no concrete game plans.

In 2020, I officially walked away from one of the most important relationships I had in my life. The end of that relationship was difficult, filled with sadness, anger, blame, disappointment, and in an almost-twisted way, love. It was also a cathartic release. I look back upon it now with nothing but gratitude.

I have made mistakes along the way and realised the times when I could have handled things in a better way, been a bigger person, communicated better. Esther Perel said that we are all going to have more than one marriage in our lifetimes, and it is up to us to decide if we want to do it to be with the same person or not. The ship had sailed. She and I did not make it.

Time only moves in one direction. Accept the past, learn, and move on. I have gained a lot, and these are things that will be with me for life. Sadness is transient, gratitude lasts forever.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the future. I think the pandemic did this to me. It’s not a bad thing. I had been living day-to-day, just cruising for too darn long. Why? Because it has been easy. I almost cannot decide whether “easy” is a good or a bad thing. There has to be some sort of comfort we get from “easy”. Is comfort a good or bad thing? How do we chase after ease and comfort knowing that those are not exactly the best for us?

Everything is in transition right now. I’ve lost friends. My marriage failed. As a result, I also feel unsure about my so-called career. I feel old. I feel fat. I bought a flat under the HDB Singles Scheme (can’t they come up with a better name?) and I am unsure how long the renovations will take because of the pandemic restrictions. On bad days, I just blame the pandemic for everything. I cannot have dine-in at the cafe because of the pandemic, I have lost all of my tourist-customers, I feel responsible towards my staff to make sure no one loses their job because of COVID-19. In a nutshell, I blame. And I try to catch myself.

Like now.

I caught myself.

There is a silver lining. Goddammit I bought a flat. I am employed. I am an entrepreneur; Aileen and I built a brand that had been through quite a bit of shit but still loved by many. We did not lay off a single employee throughout this pandemic. We have the resources and knowledge to make adjustments to business operations to cope. My family is healthy. I am healthy. I have the means to book a staycation even when I cannot travel. I am able-bodied and can exercise any time I want. I have people who care for and love me for who I am. And I found Jesse. I have hope for the future. The future still excites me.

My life is a novel and I’d like to believe that we haven’t even reached the best chapters yet. The past is history, the future has yet to come. Today is a gift, and that’s why we call it the present. Make the best out of what we have.

It started with me wanting to write an encouraging letter to myself, but it quickly became another journal entry of me lamenting about my life. When is this going to end – this cyclical bullshit of me settling, realising that I am unhappy, seeking a way out, feeling defeated, and settling again.

I had read books. Music. Travel. Opened up, shut down. Gone away, escaped, fucked around, let people in, drove people out. How and where do people find peace, grace, faith, strength? I feel so broken and incompetent. Where do I go to learn how to untangle the knots? It is so noble to call these scars my badges of honour, but the truth is I am changed, I don’t feel like the same person I was, I am still getting used to this new person.

I wonder everyday if I would be okay. And it feels almost like a sin to put these thoughts online. I don’t want to burden people who care for me with my never-ending moping. My indecisiveness tires me and the people around me out. I feel weary. I feel old and heavy. I don’t feel pretty. I feel like the spark is gone. How does one deal with loneliness? The fear of abandonment? Was it my childhood?

I am not sure if I still deserve to be happy, or whether I will be fine in future. I am hopeful at times, and at other times the future just seems so, so bleak. I know it is all “in my head”; I am standing in my own doorway getting in the way of every darn thing.

It hasn’t stopped raining

The floor glistened. It is quiet and there is no one around. It started to drizzle shortly after I left home. I flustered for a while, worried that the rain might get heavier on me. Then I realised that I didn’t mind getting drenched afterall, it’s almost like some kind of baptism. Can’t remember the last time I allowed myself to embrace the rain.

There is always that point of time when one is worried about getting caught in a downpour before deciding “fuck it”.

I am not that alone. There are people who are still up not because they’re feeling a little off tonight – the people still at work at the sleepy gas station, the underpaid and overworked foreign workers filling cartons at the fruits and vegetables store, young men zipping around on their bikes delivering food to other hungry people (who are still awake) amongst other lone people walking/jogging at 2:30am.

Every huge tree I stroll by offered some kind of solace, similar to what those occasional nice thoughts I had about my not-so-bad life offered. The journey out always feels a little longer than the walk back home.

I have my insecurities sometimes. I measure myself up to people around me subconsciously, and unnecessarily. I am aware that transitions are difficult, these feelings I have are normal and they are my natural defences to prepare me for the changes that are to come.

Blessing in Disguise

“Cause if you’re happy in your head then solitude is blessed and alone is okay. If your heart is bleeding, make the best of it.”
I love this line from that Youtube video that I watched many years ago when I was on a frantic search of a solution to cope with that immense feeling of loneliness.

I’m proud to say that, as of right now, I feel like I’ve really come a long way from that old Peggy. I can vividly remember myself feeling a lump in my throat while having lunch alone in Hong Kong on my first solo trip. And that anxiety attack I suffered while on the media trip in Dublin. It was irrational and ridiculous how those situations would make me feel so vulnerable, insecure, and more importantly, alone.

I am in Phuket currently and it has been the third week now. This freedom is sweet. Honestly, I had big plans and visions about how this trip is going to turn out (it hasn’t been 100% accurate based on what I’ve desired) but one thing is for sure – I am still feeling fine and on this trip, I realised that it really isn’t so bad being on my own; it can be more torturing being with another person you don’t really want to be with. There is nothing wrong with feeling lonely once in a while, then the next step is to find something fulfilling to do, not mope around. I mean, even dating couples get bored sometimes no? And I’ve known myself for so long, it’s understandable that it can be harder to find something new and interesting to do. (I don’t know that makes sense, at least it made sense when that thought was still in my head).

I was at this bar alone, studying. The bar was empty when I got there, and by the time I left, it was 80% full. I got to admit, at some point of time, the thought crossed my mind – “Will people think I’m a loser because I’m out on my own on a Saturday night?”
And then I realised how silly and outrageous that fleeting thought was. Wtf do I wanna care about what others think? It’s not within my control. In fact, I should feel happy that I was out alone. Is every person around me, out with their friends or loved ones, truly happy about being right there at that moment? Not necessarily. I had the freedom to decide where I want my legs to take me. I should be grateful that I had the choice to be out, and I should be happy that *I* made that decision to take myself out.

Foiled plans and failures have taught me a lot; opened my eyes to things I’d have otherwise not known about myself. I’ve changed over the years, but I know the crux of me is still the same. I still struggle with being on my own, I’m just dealing with it better now. But I believe that I’ll just get better and better over time, hopefully it doesn’t take too long. Circumstances made me learn too. I don’t want to allow myself to feel less important or less outstanding because of another person’s opinion. I also want to learn (better) to speak my mind – tell people what I want exactly, tell people what I don’t want. Unfortunately, I think I’m still a bit of a people-pleaser.

A few days back, at Sofia’s class, I learnt that almost every emotion we have is on the scale of Craving VS Aversion. To truly get to your “self”, one has to get out of being on this scale. But that said, even the desire to be freed from the system is a kind of craving on its own. Mind-fuck right? I know. Hahaha.

I gotta go easy on myself man. It’s fucking cliche, but really, I am enough.

Moonlight Sea

When Perci first emailed me about travelling to Taiwan again to visit Taiwan East Coast, my heart skipped a beat. I recalled the first time visiting Yilan with them and how I thoroughly enjoyed the trip, the idea of visiting a new region of Taiwan with the locals really thrilled me.

I’ve never been much of a solo traveller, in fact, I’d even call myself quite an anxious solo traveller. It is something that I’m still trying to work on. The idea of being on my own in a foreign land is intimidating, probably because I’m a worry wart who constantly thinks about all the things that might go wrong while being on my own in an unfamiliar place. (What if I fall sick? What if the turbulence is bad? What if I get robbed? What if I lose my way?) I sometimes get anxiety from feeling obligated to interact with strangers too, I think that boils down to me being a little too self-conscious. *shrugs* Anyways!

I’ve never heard much about Taiwan East Coast before the trip. Up until Yilan happened, my impression of Taiwan is pretty much all gathered from Taipei. When people asked if I’ve been to Taiwan, I almost feel like I’m giving people the wrong impression when I reply, “Yes, 3 to 4 times” because there really is so much to the country that I’ve yet to experience and see.

Like a lot of fellow Singaporean travellers, I am unfamiliar with Taiwan East Coast and what it has to offer. This three-day tour with the locals really opened my eyes to Taiwan East Coast’s nature, culture and beauty.

Our first stop was to Lalaulan Tribe (拉劳兰部落)located at the eastern coastal area of Taimali Township. I had previously visited one of the aboriginal tribes in Taiwan before (pretty touristy one), but this one was really different. I vaguely remember that particular visit that happened when I was 9:  photo-taking with their traditional costumes, lunch in a hall carefully decorated with their crafts, and ending the tour at their big and air-conditioned gift shop. Nowhere as personal as this. From what I understood, this place is not exactly open to public and is not a tourist destination. I feel very honoured to be able to pay them a visit because they are our guides’ personal friends.

We were given a little introduction to the Paiwan Tribe (排湾族) and the village before going through a simple “cleansing ritual” for non-tribe members.

I do not know much about the indigenous people of Taiwan – I have a mental image of traditional-costume-donning people… I know a lot of them are great singers! I assume that they probably aren’t city-dwellers, that they live in the mountains, and do not wear “modern clothes”. They hunt and farm and do crafts. They have their own languages/dialects. Do they even use technology?

I was SO ignorant.
Many indigenous people of Taiwan pretty much lead lives like you and I. They can have what you and I have, AND they also have a rich culture and history on top of it!

One of the highlights of my entire trip was to be able to meet Mr Sakinu (撒可努).
(Mr Sakinu was formerly a policeman by profession in Taipei)

A little excerpt I got from the internet:
Living on Taiwan more than 8,000 years before the first arrival of the Han Chinese in the 17th century, the Taiwanese aborigines (原住民) are Austronesian people, with linguistic and genetic ties to the people of the Philippines and other Polynesian groups. They are estimated to constitute about 2% of the population of Taiwan.

As a distinct ethnic group from Han Chinese, aborigines face many economic and social barriers, stemming from substandard education quality by comparison and language and cultural barrier. The majority of aboriginal people live in mountainous regions, primarily along the east coast nearby Hualien and Taiwan East Coast. Some communities located high up in the mountains may rarely visit the cities, and live by hunting and subsistence farming growing high mountain agriculture and produce such as vegetables and high mountain tea, some of which is sold to the cities to generate revenue for the tribe.

There are currently 16 different aboriginal tribes recognised by the Taiwan government.

Mr Sakinu‘s story truly touched my heart; his love for his tribe, country and its people is evident in the way he leads his life and how he is constantly pushing frontiers to promote and preserve the Paiwan tribe’s culture and way of life. In fact, the love that he has goes beyond that for Paiwan and Taiwan, it’s obvious that Mr Sakinu is a lover of mankind and the entire world. I was told by the guides that Mr Sakinu’s father is also known as “The Wind Hunter” – he moves around the jungle like the wind, leaving his trace, and everything else unchanged.

People would usually slash the vegetation in the jungle to make a path when they go out to hunt, but not these people. “There is on need to do that,” they said. Small things like that… I was touched and they had totally commanded my respect! I was enthralled by Mr Sakinu and his stories. One hour went by just like that.

He said Taiwan, and in fact the whole of mankind, is like a rainbow. We are different beautiful colours that will only be spectacular if we can coexist in harmony. ❤ MAI HEART.

Here is a movie called The Sage Hunter (2005) which is about the life of Mr Sakinu, who is also author of a book with the same name (山藸.飛鼠.撒可努 in Chinese). Do check it out if you are interested to find out more.

What a treat for my soul.

Home for the first night – Traveler Inn, 旅人驛站.

Day 2 was exciting – Standup Paddling and Moonlight Sea Concert!

I’ve only done standup paddling once before Taiwan East Coast. I’m not quite a water baby (can’t swim and pretty damn hydrophobic) and I usually have to coax myself a fair bit before I involve myself in any water activities. For some strange reasons, I felt comfortable doing SUP here, prolly because I trust that the rest of the team would take good care of me and that my balance is quite good so I won’t fall. Haha! (And I really didn’t fall, thank God)

The view was awesome! Well worth the sweat and all that paranoia! :p

Meet Ah Fei, the coolest dog ever! (In the far right end of the photo, there is also me looking like a mess heh!)

For those of you who are also looking for a little bit of such activities in Taiwan East Coast area, we were at 馬武窟溪 (Ma Wu Ku).
Visit 都歷海洋教室 T.O.S Torik Ocean Surf n Rent’s Facebook Page to get started!
Tel: +886-911-903-052

I got the opportunity to get my hands dirty cleaned at a soap-making workshop with 足渡蘭手工皂. They have got some really interesting flavours/scents for their soaps here; I remember tobacco, rice wine and betel nuts amongst many others. These three items hold a special significance to the aboriginal people. During our first visit to the Paiwan tribe, the guide told us that it is important for visiting guests to prepare three items as gifts/offerings during the welcoming rituals. Those are the three items.

I learnt that all the ingredients used in the soap making process were organically and ethically obtained. I tried the soap and it was REALLY good (it was as if I had body lotion on after washing/leaving lather on etc. Fo real.), I came home with a whole bag of soaps. :p

The very jovial and humorous owner cum soap-making maestro hehe.

AND of course!!!

The main reason I was in Taiwan East Coast was actually for the Taiwan East Coast Land Arts Festival 东海岸大地艺术节

Organised by the Ministry of National Landscape Management Office East Coast, the festival brings together the natural environment, tribal life, habitat residence of East Taiwan and showcases it in a festival that spans a period of more than three month. This is the 5th year of the festival and I was captivated from the first moment I watched the promotional video – culture, music, arts and a lot, a lot of heart. Just like how they have described Taiwan’s east coast in their website, the spirit of the festival really successfully encapsulates the essence of Taiwan East Coast, its people and beauty – quiet but wild, mysterious and sometimes loud, fascinating with a lot of soul.

There is an entire list of artworks commissioned by the festival throughout the years littered all over Taiwan east coast. I was honoured to be able to visit a few of them on this trip, along with my new friends! Can I just say for the record how I utterly LOVE ❤ Taiwanese people?

The lady in red is Muni. And she is the heart of every single party because she is SO MUCH fun, constantly brimming with positivity and energy. I just love her so much! On the last day of the trip when we had to travel back to Taipei (she had to leave us earlier because she was from Taiwan East Coast), she sang us a song in the bus, with her eyes closed. She said it is a song about parting, and her mother taught her that song. I don’t know of any other way to describe how I felt but it brought a tear to my eyes. That energy I felt was impalpable. It was really beautiful.

Ok back to the festival. The main festival grounds was kinda hippie heh! There was a lot of food stores and lots of crafts store to shop at! And since the festival was all about sustainability too (I ate my pasta dinner out of a pita bread that night!), I bought a beautiful handmade ceramic cup and used it for coffee right away.

Something else that caught my attention at this year’s festival was the exhibition by Rahic Talif who is also from one of Taiwan’s aboriginal tribes Amei. It started with him picking up trash on the beaches when he discovered the obscene amount of slippers that were being discarded along the coasts. (That’s how this particular exhibition I saw was born) The sheer amount of rubbish he gathered was appalling. Here is a snippet about Rahic Talif. You should really watch it!

Moonlight Sea Festival got its name because of the beautiful location that it is held year after year.
Call me a hopeless romantic, but when one of the guides called the location we were at 天涯海角 (loosely translates to… edge of the world?). We were at the eastern-most edge of Taiwan and what lies ahead was an endless Pacific Ocean. It will be this same ocean all the way until it reaches the polynesian islands. Omg 天涯海角。好浪漫哦! :p I swooned (not openly, because people will judge). Hahaha!

It was a full moon night when I was there (Moonlight Sea Concerts only happen during full moon nights!) and everyone was stoked when the clouds parted. That bright, round moon casting its light onto the boundless Pacific Ocean – it looked so shimmery and glittery. I remember standing there with a beer in my right hand, with live indigenous tribal music in the background, feeling really moved and glad that I was there at that very moment, doing absolutely nothing except to admire the moon. It was truly cathartic.

It was a beautiful night made even better with kind people, wondrous indigenous music and delightful conversations.

If you are planning to include Taiwan East Coast in your next trip to Taiwan, do plan it around the next Moonlight Sea Festival!
Here are the festival dates for 2020:

We squeezed in a bit of time to visit the Ca’wi tribe 静浦部落 in Hualien on Day Three! They’re Amei people, the biggest indigenous group in Taiwan. I had a nice tan on my arms and some good fun there rafting and picking up a trick or two on how to cast a fishing net from our athletic and friendly guides. We also had a shot at archery (no pun intended) which I really sucked at. :p

They’ve got some real sick views there!

These activities are also available for booking if you’re in the area. Do note that prior reservation is required. Swing by their Facebook Page for more deets! THE HIGHLIGHT OF THIS PLACE tho, has got to be 陶甕百合春天. Over here, you’ll get to savour the taste of the Amei Tribe. A unique thing about this restaurant is how they do not have a menu; you’ll have whatever the team manages to gather from the sea and from the mountains that very day. How cool is that! I like how they served our group 8 fishes in total and all the fishes are different. Haha!

The food was divine! It works out to be about 80 SGD/pax.

The trip was perfect; I cannot ask for anyone better to see Taiwan East Coast with. I’ve made friends and there was laughter and heartfelt conversations even when we had only known each other for a couple of days. Special thanks to Perci and Ken who took great care of me and always making sure I’m alright, and to the wonderful tour guides Da Yi 大益 and Rita who truly, truly went far beyond a tour guide’s duties and became more like a friend to us. You know how you can feel someone because there is always an exchange of energy when you’re interacting with somebody? I’ve got nothing but good vibes from them. 🙂

With Dayi, Rita and the adorable Dong Suan! ❤

Thank you Taiwan East Coast and all the wonderful I met on this trip, it is a memory that I will always look back upon fondly. 🙂

Tian Yuan Xiang 田原香滴鸡精

We are what we eat. As I grow older, I realised the importance of making good choices when it comes to food, supplements and other nourishments. As a child, chicken essence almost always meant the exams are coming. My Mom would often prepare chicken essence for me the night before a major paper or in the morning before I headed to the exam hall. To be honest, I really liked the taste of chicken essence as well (always hoped it comes in a bigger portion because it’s such a tasty soup!).

Today’s post is all about premium chicken essence brand from Taiwan, Tian Yuan Xiang 田原香滴鸡精.

I think what commanded my respect from this brand is their belief of how poultry farming should be kept natural and ethical, keeping their products strictly free of drug and antibiotics, and the hard work put into refining the process from free range chickens to top-quality products.

And the Tian family has been doing this for three generations!

When I first received the products, I was told that I need to keep the chicken essence in the freezer. So it turns out that the chicken essence that I had picked contains no preservatives, so it needs to be stored in freezer until ready for consumption.

The chicken essence comes in little sachets like this, storage is easy as it really doesn’t take up too much space in the freezer.

The one I had chosen is Chicken Essence with Nourishments.

It comes in 20 separate packets 60cc each, and is retailing at S$230.
Fun fact: They used 3.5 chickens to prepare this 20 packets!

One of the main Chinese herb in this choice is Dendrobium Nobile.
(I Googled – it is really just a very pretty orchid)
Dendrobium Nobile is also called 石斛 (shi hu) in Chinese, and in TCM, it is known for a plethora of benefits including and not limited to:
– Nourishing Yin and body fluid [Good for us girls!]
– Enhancing physical fitness [YAS!]
– Strengthening tendons and lowering lipid
– Nourishing the skin [YAAAAASSS!!!]
– Prolonging life
(Information courtesy of the world wide web)

See more information about this specific choice of chicken essence I picked here.

It contains several nourishing-yin herbs that are believed to replenish your body fluids, relieve internal heat and help you sleep better at night. Oh! And it is also Halal certified!


Just a reminder that Chicken Essence with Nourishments needs to be stored in the freezer.

1. Cut aluminium bag while essence is still frozen

I managed to empty the contents into the bowl easily.

2. Put into a bowl and throw on a lid
3. Microwave or double boil to 100°C

* Do not store or re-freeze chicken essence that you cannot finish
(Aiya but sure can finish because it’s very tasty, guys!) :p

– – –

The furkids liked it and wanna steal it from me. :p

The Singapore flagship can also be found in United Square –
101 Thomson Road, #B1-24A United Square, Singapore 307591

They are holding their Customer Appreciation Sale (30/5-16/6):

1 Box- 5% OFF
3 Boxes- 9% OFF + $10 Takashimaya Voucher
6 Boxes- 12% OFF + $20 Takashimaya Voucher
10 Boxes- 15% OFF + $50 Takashimaya Voucher

Tian Yuan Xiang also provides partial delivery service. So it’ll be super convenient as a choice for the upcoming Father’s Day!

Tian Yuan Xiang is also participating in 2019 Food Fiesta at Takashimaya (Takashimaya Square B2), so besides purchasing online or in their store at United Square B1, you can also find them there. 🙂


As I was taking a shower earlier, with Time After Time covered by Iron and Wine playing in the background on repeat, I decided that I needed to document what was running through my head as the shower happened.

Forgiveness. I’d like to talk about forgiveness.

I think there hasn’t been too many instances in my life where I had to (really) forgive someone. I am not talking about petty wrongs that people had done unto me, but rather, grievances that I had to live with for a matter of months and years. I had a little moment of epiphany earlier – letting go of that anger and hate was also me letting that part of me holding on to that negativity free. It does not come with any conditions; it does not matter what the relationship between me and that person is like, it does not matter whether that person is still in my life, it does not matter what that person thinks of me. Letting that anger and animosity go, is me setting myself free.

I think it is almost selective amnesia in action. I’ve always thought that selective amnesia must be the body’s natural defence against unhappiness. “Is it delusional then – if you are just choosing to forget whatever “wrong” people had done unto you?” You might ask.

Are those who had “wronged” always entirely at fault? How often had we really put our selves aside and be in other’s shoes instead? There is always two sides to every story, isn’t it? And we’re always more drawn to that side that puts us in the good light. Perhaps we were misled. Perhaps we were mistaken. Perhaps it was ego. Perhaps it was a moment of folly. Perhaps it was curiosity. Perhaps it was greed. Perhaps because we were all human and it is human to err.

I will look pass your anger. I will look pass your negligence. I will look pass your absence. I will look pass your silence. I will look pass your wrongs.

I do not even wish for you to forgive my anger, negligence, absence, silence and wrongs. All I wish for you is peace. And love. Really. And all these are done in love. I do not know how to love in all its righteousness, but I do know that love keeps no record of wrongs.

Om and Away to Island Yoga

I was thrilled when I received news about the confirmation of my yoga retreat with Island Yoga from Om and Away. Om and Away is co-owned by a friend of mine, Charlyn and they organise local and destination yoga and wellness retreats (they’ve got some all the way in Australia, Spain and more!) I had previously booked myself a retreat as a birthday gift with Om and Away in August 2017 but that one resort that I visited was more of a wellness retreat in a luxurious villa with personal training at the gym, spa and massages. Island Yoga, on the other hand, is a full fledged yoga retreat hideaway with shalas, spaces for sound baths, and also provides Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) courses on a regular basis. I was so excited about retreat.

Island Yoga is tucked away on a little island called Koh Yao Noi. It is quiet, simple and tranquil over there, and it’s amazing how this small place is packed with so many nice people! :p

Getting there
I flew in to Phuket from Singapore and took a taxi from the airport to Bang Rong Pier (about 600 baht). From the pier, there are boats departing almost every hour. The pier is pretty small and everything you need would be close to each other so it is not difficult navigating around. There are two different kinds of boat to take you there – speedboat or long boat. Pick the former is you want to get to your destination faster. :p

I am super afraid of boat rides by the way, but this one wasn’t as bad as how I had imagined it in my head. (Another proof of the saying “Worrying means you suffer twice”. Haha!)

Once we arrive at the pier in Koh Yao Noi, there would be buses (they are actually more of little trucks really) and if I am not wrong, these are the only mode of public transport available on the island. It costs 100 baht to get to Island Yoga from the pier, the ride was about 15 minutes and because we truck-pooled, we made quite a few stops before arriving at the destination.

Island Yoga felt welcoming the moment I arrived. It felt homely and everyone I met and spoke to were friendly and helpful. There are different kinds of rooms available based on your preferences and budget. I chose one with my private bathroom and AC. Heh! :p And I am glad I did because the weather can really get quite warm in the afternoons.

There was a short orientation session (felt like school, super cute, I like) held by one of their staff and she brought the newcomers around the premise to show us the common areas, the pool, the yoga shalas etc. The main food area is an open air cafe (which very quickly became my favourite place because the food was SO FANTASTIC) with a cosy reading corner, and noticeboards showing any upcoming activities at the retreat. All guests are free to just jot their names down if they would like to take part. 🙂 They offered tours around neighbouring islands, beachside dances, makan trips, and you can also book private massage or classes if you wish to.

We were also introduced to a few nice restaurants or cafes around the island in case we want to head out in the afternoon during the free time. 🙂

The next day started bright and early at 6.15am by the beach. It was quite an experience for me because it has been SO long since I woke up so early and I had forgotten how the early mornings felt like. I stumbled to the beach all sleepy-eyed and saw this:

It was a new experience for me – having my morning cup of coffee at the break of dawn on the quiet beach with a bunch of other sleepy people. (I just assumed everyone is still waking up heh!) The moment the sky broke into beautiful colours of dawn was magical. ❤

Morning coffee + Taichi sessions became something that I looked forward to every single morning. :’)

The beach front at Island Yoga is quite interesting, the beach is really shallow and at low tide, the sea goes out a couple of hundred of meters. So you can literally walk out INTO the sea (a big distance from the shore) and still be in shallow waters.

But this was the perfect place for waking the body and mind up slowly with Taichi. It was the sound of the wind and waves, and the feeling of feeling the seawater seeping from under my feet as I tried my best to flow with the graceful Taichi stances – it was indescribably moving. There was a fluffy and warm feeling inside me at the end of every morning Taichi session which I cannot quite explain or put into words.

Every sunrise is different, but they are all equally beautiful.

Island Yoga offers two yoga sessions a day for all guests. Additional lessons or sessions can also be booked, based on the availability of the instructors. They offer Reiki sessions and sound baths, just in case you’re interested. You can also visit their website for more information.

The two shalas they have are beautiful in the wooden finishes with huge windows opening up to lush greenery and the sea.

I was actually not supposed to even have my phone in the shala so these are illegal photos haha!

If you are wondering whether you are “eligible” or “qualified” enough to go to any yoga retreat, stop right now. Because yoga is for everyone! Heh. I had that same worry before I set off for this yoga retreat but the moment the first yoga class started, I knew all my worries (again, Worrying means you suffer twice) were redundant. There are two different classes – one for beginners and the other for intermediate/advance). And even in the beginners class, the instructors made sure that there are variations so that everyone can reap the benefits out of every single class.

The shalas are clean, well-ventilated and spacious, well-equipped with mats, blocks, straps, pillows and more. The morning yoga session was usually something a little more dynamic and yang, and they are a great way to kickstart one’s day! I also like how the morning sessions are 2 hours long – it gives the class the opportunity to slowly ease into the practice and also sufficient time to take rest and take in the benefits of the session at the end of the class. I always leave the class feeling fulfilled and, empowered, almost!

Evening sessions, on the other hand, is mostly yin-style, slow-paced and a little more intimate. For every single evening session that I’ve had at Island Yoga, I fell asleep every.single.time. Hahaha! There is so much to learn – the breathing, what it does to my mind, etc – it will do so much good for my insomnia and anxiety problems.

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In the afternoons, I have a few hours of free time and I always spend 1 or 2 at the pool.

The cafe/restaurant is open all through the day and they have a wide variety of food, healthy shakes available. I am in love with the minced chicken Thai style salad (Larb Gai, can you believe it? I’m actually salivating in my mouth as I type this lol) and the shakes they serve! There is nothing better than chilling at the pool with a book or Netflix with a yummy shake in the lazy afternoons.

Or if you’re up for a little bit of exploration, Island Yoga also offers full-day motorbike rental at a really reasonable price of 300 baht. It is really easy getting around the island because there is only one main road that takes you around the island, there are properly paved roads so you don’t need a driver’s licence to ride there (Hehehehe).

That is Aileen riding us around to 7-11 in town.

Fun fact – they only recently had their first 7-11 on the island in 2017 or 2018. The AC in there is super powerful and we liked it so much that we literally did most of our shopping in 7-11. Haha!

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Koh Yao Noi is a beautiful place and it really offers more than just a getaway from the city, or a yoga “workout” trip. As with every place I had visited, it was always how open my mind and heart was that would determine how the trip will turn out. With Koh Yao Noi and Island Yoga, it is just made so much easier because of its people, energy and pleasant surprises all around for you to discover.

Special thanks to Om and Away for whisking me away from my hectic schedule back home for a little bit of utopia.

2019 Skin Goals

2019 has just begun and I have high hopes for this year. Just like many of you, I have lots of goals on my list since it’s January. I’ve learnt that it is more encouraging and optimistic to set short term goals to keep track of my progress and keep myself perked up. It serves as a constant reminder of my ultimate goal too.

Small steps – like getting sufficient sleep, having positive thoughts, maintaining an active lifestyle, learning how to manage stress and anxiety. These all would help me achieve my goal of being a better version of myself. I read somewhere that the quality of one’s life is directly related to the quality of one’s thoughts, words, sleep, fitness, purpose, environment, relationships and diet.

We are what we eat – and that is why I have been paying more attention on my food choices and diet of late, be it for health or beauty. I’ve been reading about skincare and collagen recently and did a little research about collagen supplements.

Firmness, plumpness and radiance of our skin are retained when we can maintain a good amount of collagen in our skin. We all know that the skin produces less collagen with age, but there are also other factors that contribute to collagen damage. I’m here to share what I’ve learnt!
I used to think that collagen is only essential for firmer skin, but collagen actually does a lot more work than these. Collagen is a kind of protein and thus comprises of amino acids. Apart from ensuring elasticity and regeneration of the skin, here are its other uses!

Joint Health – Helps loosen stiff joints
Sleep Quality – Promotes better cognitive function and a healthier sleep cycle
Digestive Aid / Weight Loss – Aids in healing digestive tract and to repair mucous lining, and improves digestion / regulate metabolism

And also, it helps to reduce and prevent cellulite appearance, promotes hair growth, and perform many many more miracles! :p

From our mid to late twenties, the natural production of collagen slows down, and because collagen is also constantly prone to damage from free radicals, UV rays exposure, etc, it is essential to replenish the collagen levels in our bodies.

Some foods rich in collagen:
Wild Salmon, Leafy Greens, Citrus, Eggs, Soy, Tomatoes, Bone Broth, Avocadoes, Garlic, Oysters
Another great and fuss-free way of consuming collagen would be via supplement. Collagen Re Force from ORBIS contains an abundant 10,000mg of collagen peptides which can be easily absorbed by the body for replenishment.

There are lots of collagen supplements in the market. But this next unique feature about Collagen Re Force that I’m going to mention sets it apart from the rest. Replenishment alone is not enough. So ORBIS has cleverly added Lemon Balm extract into the drink; this ingredient helps the body with the process of breaking down damaged collagen to be reused to regenerate new, healthy collagen!

There is also Long Pepper extract to promote smooth delivery of collagen to required areas of the body, and Vitamin C extract which is essential for collagen synthesis. In a nutshell, this drink is everything you need to make sure you get a sufficient collagen intake, and that your body has the “tools” to process and produce more of it.

Next thing, how does it taste?

I’m not big on the taste of some collagen drinks because they can get a little “fishy” (if you know what I mean) at times. And some of them can taste a little too artificial too. This one however, is honestly quite yummy and I actually sometimes wish the bottle is a little bigger so that I can enjoy its taste for longer (especially when I drink it while feeling thirsty lol).
It is delicious when served chilled and has a fruity pear flavor. I’ve formed a little habit of having it as a nightcap now. Just shake lightly and take a swig of your daily collagen intake, and then sleep and let your body drink it all up! :p

This year, I’m all about forming good habits and to be a better version of myself. Hopefully I can also get a better version of my complexion and health too! With bettering myself being one of my goals this year, hopefully it will apply to my complexion and health too! I think it is important to form good habits and I can certainly get used to improving my diet with supplements. And Collagen Re Force makes it even easier for me since it’s delicious. I do look forward to my collagen drink every night. Heh. Have you got any goals related to your health or well-being this year too?

Collagen Re Force comes in boxes of 10 (50ml/bottle) and is priced at S$56 per box. Click here for more deets!

From now until 24 January 2019, all ORBIS members (membership is free with any purchase) can also purchase Collagen Re Force at S$49/box and S$142/3 boxes.

Time Out

A 3-days Lululemon retreat with like-minded people stopped me in my tracks and forced me to look inward – something I haven’t done in a long time. It is something I didn’t dare do for a long time because in the recent years, I had never really liked what I found inside me.

I’d like to document what went down at the retreat as a reminder to myself.

I cannot remember the last time I truly honoured myself and practised mindfulness; when was the last time I truly tasted the food on my plate? Truly connected and had a conversation with my inner voice? Truly allowed myself to be in the present moment? Truly, completely, even brutally be honest with myself?

Was every “Thank you” or “Sorry” I uttered heartfelt? Do I always mean every word I say? Do I have to say every word I let out of my mouth?

For three days, there was meditation, yoga, discussions, dancing, talking to each other and lots of talking to ourselves.
We all brought our selves, a journal, a pen, a listening ear for that voice inside.

It started with simple questions, like
“Where in my life do I feel stuck?”
“Where do I know that something needs change but I don’t know how to approach it?”
“If I have approached it, why haven’t I experienced any change?”
“What are some beliefs I’ve created for myself that have limited my future?”

There are a million and one things in my life that I’m feeling stuck at.
And I think it all boils down to a lack of self-awareness and confidence.

Self-Awareness: knowing one’s internal states, preference, resources and intuitions

(Nope, haven’t got much of that.)

I guess a lot of us have been tuned by reality and life itself to make decisions based on logic and rational thoughts, overlooking the fact that we need to acknowledge our feelings (and even intuitions) to make effective decisions. I think deep diving into “feelings” is a scary thing. I’d like to think that I do that quite often – almost on a daily basis – though always in fleeting moments. I brush the emergence of these thoughts aside because it stops me from functioning “up to expectations”. Other times, I thought perhaps I should not dwell and mull over things so much. I often get lost and end up feeling more confused, it does me no good and it just brings me down. In fact, I know many would find it easier to brush it aside; leave it for another day or even repress feelings to avoid a confrontation with oneself . I’m someone like that too. Simply because that is the easier way out.
“Time will tell”, “it will go away”, “I’ll figure it out naturally, eventually”.
Confrontations of any kind is intimidating, imagine how immense that fear would be, and how difficult it would be to work things out within oneself. If self-awareness and mindfulness was easy, why do we even need to practise it?

During one of the sessions, we were told to imagine us at a birthday party for our 100-year-old selves. (Honestly, my first thought was, I hope I don’t live till a hundred)

Imagine you’re at your 100th birthday party. You can hear the bustle around you, people chatting, laughing – these are the people who love you and care for you. Your family, your friends, your children, your future children, your grandchildren, your future grandchildren, people whom you’ve inspired, whose lives you’ve touched – they are all gathered in one space just for you. Suddenly, you heard the clinging of a glass, someone is going to make a toast to you.

We were told to write that toast.

I sat there and stared down at my journal. I couldn’t think of one nice thing to say about myself. I looked around and saw my mates scribbling away, and I asked myself if there was something wrong with myself. Then I thought, “Could it be because I secretly do not wish to live until 100?” Then I tried to outsmart the logical Peggy and imagined myself writing my own eulogy. I still couldn’t come up with anything.

What do I want to be remembered for? What in my life is worth celebrating? What about myself am I proud of? What do I want to do to make myself proud? Who is Peggy? Do I not like the person that I am?
I don’t know.

It bothered me. I think I haven’t made peace with a lot of things within me.

On the third day of the retreat, the 20 odd 30 people in the group were made to form two lines, facing each other. The first person at each line took turns to walk down the aisle, and to put their ears to every person in the lines to hear what they have to say about us – words of affirmation, something they feel from us, vibes or whatever. I was a little uncomfortable at first because I haven’t had the opportunity to speak and interact with every single one of them. I didn’t want to say something for the sake of saying. I was awfully quiet throughout the retreat and kept to myself quite a fair bit until towards the end of the retreat. In fact, I found it intimidating to even speak up in a roomful of vibrant and loud personalities. Besides, it has only been 3 days, how would I know much about anyone in such a short period of time? I flustered and started to look at their faces, trying to prep myself with answers in my head.

But as bizarre as it sounds, as each and every one of them walked towards me, I knew exactly what to say. You know? That strange way two persons can connect to each other, or how you can feel the energy off somebody even without much interaction or long periods of time spent together? Odd.

But the thing that totally caught me off guard was something else…

They whispered into my ear that I am witty, that I am smart, that I am quietly powerful, that I am brave, that I have a beautiful mind while I walked down the aisle in silence, looking at the floor. I glanced up and uttered a sincere and heartfelt thank you whenever something they said moved me.

Why do people who hardly even know me have good things to say about me when I cannot even find one thing in my life that is worth toasting to?

I broke down.
Do I even say these words of affirmation to the people whom I hold close to my heart? Words are so powerful. I regret so many things that I’ve ever said. Why did I even allow that to happen to myself?

It is 5:23am now and I am just blabbering.

One thing is for sure though, I need to ask myself more questions more frequently, and to listen to what the Peggy inside me has to say. What gives me joy? What makes me different from others? What/who/where makes me feel most alive and reminds me of who I truly am? What makes me feel vulnerable, and why? What do I value? What are the things I make myself do even when I don’t want to? What moves me and touches me deeply? What depresses my spirit and weighs me down, and why is that so?

Why is it hard to strip myself naked even for myself?
Freedom to me is to be able to accept and be at peace with one’s self and circumstances. Am I free?

The gathering of 30 strangers, who were made to sit in a huge circle to “discuss feelings, insecurities, vulnerabilities and goals” started out as an uncomfortable idea for me. “It feels like university orientation all over again,” I said. “And it was more than a decade ago when I’ve last done something like that.”

It is like an orientation indeed, except this time, we are a group of 30 strangers who gathered together to each orientate within ourselves.

All of us need a bit of soul searching sometimes. Dig deep.