And like the world’s worst well-travelled traveller, I had no plan and no itinerary. I didn’t even know the exchange rate from Dong to Dollar. I spent the morning doing some research and decided on a food tour in an open-air jeep from the Soviet Era. What kind of crazy traveller decides to go on a food tour in a jeep when it’s raining and cold outside? Yes. It’s yours truly.
The modern day skyscrapers were nowhere in sight. Instead, the streets are lined with old shophouses – some lay abandoned as they decay with the annals of time, whilst others have been preserved and readapted for modern use. The Baba and Nonya Heritage Museum is one of these places. As I walked through the old house that is now a museum, I was reminded of my childhood. I grew up in a shophouse. There is something of an older version of me that I see nestled in the history pages of modern Malacca.
Many people travel for personal and professional reasons. But to actually leave home, uproot yourself and plant yourself in a new country is a whole different ballgame. Over the years, I’ve met many expat kids who get hauled from country to country because of their parents’ jobs. I’ve watched many of them enter adulthood wondering where ‘home’ is. I can’t say I fully understand the sentiment.
I’ve been a traveller on the road for the past 12 years so it’s strange to suddenly find myself back home and playing tour guide to visitors from abroad. I used to do it a lot growing up. I come from a family of merchants – and hosting our international suppliers was part of my job description. But 12 years can change a lot – especially in fast-paced Singapore.
I first read Daytripper by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba in Melbourne some eight years ago. The graphic novel was a gift from my friend Tal for my birthday. The images stuck with me. This morning, I remembered the novel and re-read it. It awakened in me something that I hadn’t felt for a long time. Their story inspired me to write my own.
The table was set up to symbolically recreate the ten plagues and the circumstances that led to the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. Big transitions in life are never smooth. The haggadah (telling in Hebrew) that was laid out on the table explained the Exodus story and the included rituals like: the blessings over the four cups of wine, the custom of washing one’s hands, and an explanation for the various traditional items; in particular the bitter herbs and other symbolic foods.
Despite the Sound of Music’s immense popularity worldwide, the film is relatively unknown and unpopular in Austria. A journalist I met told me that it’s because it portrays Austria and Austrians in a stereotypical and unrealistic light. But then again, what more can you expect from a Hollywood production?
I can’t believe I’m here again, close to five years after I first tried my hand at publishing my fantasy book. I’ve grown up a lot since then and learnt a lot since my first attempt. In hindsight, I can’t believe I didn’t give up. And now the time has come, for me to try again.
Xi’an was once the ancient capital of China – and you can certainly feel it. No one stares at me – or even bothers with a double take. You can see layers and layers of history everywhere you turn. The city’s many historical monuments, ancient ruins and tombs give you the sense that many important events occurred here. After all, Xi’an was an ancient imperial capital and eastern departure point of the Silk Road.
Whenever I visit a place like the Terracotta Army Museum, I realise that humans are absolutely crazy. All this fuss over death – or perhaps not wanting to die? And it doesn’t just begin and end with China. My visits to the Pyramids of Giza and the Taj Mahal were equally astounding. When we have to go, we have to go – right? But I guess there’s no harm in bringing an entire army down with you.