Saturday, December 31, 2011

I go back to December all the time.

I can't believe it's already nearly the end of 2011. Maybe we're living the Spy Kids 4 movie where time is literally just speeding up and we don't even know it until it's gone. And, we're back where we were 365 days ago: New year's eve. Resolutions given up upon, lots of shopping, and of course.... fireworks.  In less than a day we will be counting down and looking back on yet another year. Good or bad, the days will still go by wether or not you want to move on with it.
Have you made any resolutions? Wait, rephrase that. Did you actually achieve what you said you wanted to do for the year?
I sure haven't....
I haven't blogged much lately mainly because I didn't feel like blogging. Now that I feel like it, I'll just put everything that I didn't blog about in the past months into this.
Enjoy your read.

First things first.......CHRISTMAS!!

Don't you just love it? Ah. The presents under plastic coloured trees, Christmas carols, lights and not forgetting the advertising schemes to encourage people to buy more stuff they don't need. I'm not trying to sound like the grinch that stole christmas or anything, but it is kind of true that they are making this into a consumerism affair rather than Jesus's Birthday or something like that. But other than that, christmas is really fun too. Lots of beautiful decorations in malls that look so surreal, and magical and like it jumped out of a fairy tale is what I like the most. Although, I would really love to see some snow but we have all-year-long summer here. Which could be good and bad. Quite a contradiction.... Anyway... I'm like a child in a toy store in a mall decorated with christmas stuff... except I am still considered a child and my toy is a camera...

I was in Borders bookstore for a very long time the other day when my parents had a meeting there and I found this book by Martha Steward with craft ideas for every single major holiday and occasion in America. Towards the end of the book there was a section on snow globes. When I was little I used to love starring into those little snow globes and watching the fake snow and glitter fall. (Okay, I admit I still love doing that.) 
So I decided to make my own. 

On Christmas eve, the whole Chong family (and us few Soon's) had dinner at The Office. Now, why would anyone want to eat at an office? It's just called an office but actually isn't even close to looking like an office. Confusing, isn't it? The food was good. You shouldn't take my word for it though, because I had fruits and yogurt. Apparently the chicken was really good, but I don't eat chicken. 

Dinners like these are just like all other big family gatherings: long. But this time it wasn't that bad. You know why? Because there were so many pictures of lights and other stuff that I could take with my tiny little camera. Here's some of them: 

I also got to sing for the whole family. Talk about nerve-wrecking! 

Then, they set up a mic and a stool for me to sing in front of the entire restaurant! I was so nervous! I didn't prepare any songs to sing to the entire crowd! (my parents actually forced me to bring my guitar) Secretly I wanted to perform but I was too AFRAID. But I'm slowly overcoming that fear. Turns out it went quite well. The sound was good, people listened to the two songs I sang, Katy Perry's 'The on that got away' and my original 'Tonight'.

I have come to realize that people actually read my blog, as in 480 blog views last month kind of thing and I'm not quite just rambling and ranting on about stuff to myself anymore.
Wait what?!? Someone's actually reading this?
Well, then I better write more sense into your bored, nothing-better-to-do-but-to-read-the-stories-of-this-fifteen-year-old-girl-rambling-on-and-on-and-on-and-yet-you're-still-reading-this, sitting-at-the-computer (or smart-phone which turns out to be not as smart as they give themselves credit for) mind!

I got these quotes from Justin Bieber's autobiography:

Something I've been thinking about lately is fear. 
Yes, I can smell your fear through this blog....

Why do we live in so much fear?
Why are we so afraid of what people think?
Maybe the real question you should really be asking yourself is should I be afraid?
Should I even care what people are thinking?
I don't think anyone can be absolutely fearless. Fearless isn't the absence of fear, but being afraid and jumping anyway.  We're all afraid. I know you probably are too afraid to admit that you're afraid, and you don't want people to know that you're afraid. Right? Admit it or not, everyone has some kind of fear. It's good to be afraid. That means you still have something to loose. But if that fear is stopping you from doing something you really want to do, overcome that fear.
I think you'll reach a point in time where you should not care what people think of you. It doesn't really matter what their opinion of you is, you can't please everybody. It doesn't mean that you don't take into consideration what anyone says, but sometimes you have to think and not take it blindly. I think if you've accepted yourself for who you are, there's no need to change for someone else. At the same time, change is inevitable, and nothing ever does stay the same.
So.... you're implying that I've got to change and stay the same, right?
Now, lets move on....
I had my second Ticket To Nashville recital on the 18th of December and it was a lot of fun! We had it at Zest Café this time instead of House Of Lords and the whole place was full! It was also sort of like a homeschooler's reunion. Ruby, the girl I met at Shining Star talent competition last year agreed to perform a few songs during the break and she has really improved! I think all of us have since then. But I really do admire her confidence. She can talk so comfortably to a crowd. Man, I've got to learn how to do that.... Anyway, The sound system wasn't that great so I had to really bang on my guitar so that the others could hear it but the setting was really nice and cozy. I heard that they served a special vegetarian lagsania there but by the time I was done singing, everything was eaten up. The owner is my dad's friend and he really helped out a lot to make this event happen. He even helped sell magazines to raise funds for me. I'm still not sure exactly how much we managed to raise, but I am so grateful to everyone who came and helped. I had so much fun! I can't wait for the next one!! Sorry I don't have much pictures of the event, obviously I wasn't taking pictures of myself, my mom took this one :)

I can't wait to start school next year! I'm one of the few people who actually look forward to things like this. We went for the open day of the learning centre quite a number of my friends go to and decided to sign up. They said that they have limited spaces and I'd have to take a test to get in. Just two subjects, English and math. What?!??!! Math? I've developed this weird, psychological block towards math ever since going to regular school four years ago. That was like ten minutes of complete, and utter panic. Then, the teacher said that it was okay, I could show her my English essays and start math class earlier (the next intake starts in June). So my entrance to the centre depended on my writing and not my counting. What a relief!!! The principal seemed quiet impressed with my writing, I'm glad she was. I always expect the worse like she'd hate it and say it's terrible or something like that. 
So it's more like I'll be one of those people saying their homeschooled but don't actually study at home. My sister's not really happy about that.... she's completely anti-school or study. She expressed her hate towards college, school and any other centre involving sitting down and studying, going on and on. She took it well... 

In a few hours, it will be a new year. New beginnings, fireworks, celebrations! Or, it could just be another day. I don't think there's going to be this magical phenomenon where suddenly everything changes as we step into another year, but I will be very, very grateful if the world doesn't end. 
This year I got to overcome a lot of my fears, or at least I'm overcoming them and I am very happy I did because if I didn't, I would now be sitting on a mountain-high pile of regret. Doing something that is different isn't easy, but doing something that is the same as everyone else is too boring. And I have to thank my family loads for pushing me to do a lot of these stuff because I would've been to chicken to do it myself!
This year,
I got to record in a studio. 
I got to meet Amos, Taylor Swift's bass player. 
I went to Taiwan. I met Lee Dewyze. 
I got to tell Yuna she's awesome.
I tried out for Twisties Superstarz. 
I dressed up in a costume for the launching of Zesta. 
I went to India.
I met Greyson Chance.
I tried my hand at a little busking.
I sang a Malay song. In public.
I spoke up.
I didn't succeed, but I tried my best.
This year, I don't have much resolutions, but I'll make them up as I go because I can't possibly think of everything just sitting down here. 
Thanks for reading my blog! 

Friday, December 16, 2011

2 Weeks in India: Day 5

Wednesday, 26th October 2011
India: Day 5

Got up super early today before the sunrise at 5 to visit the Bodhi tree again and also watch the sunrise. I took tons of pictures. Beautiful things to take pictures of!

The INEB conference started today and really sorry to say, I nearly fell asleep during the first session. Not because it was boring (although I don't remember what it was about.). So after the break, I kept myself busy (and awake) by drawing. Then, we broke for lunch which was spicy and Indian-y, as usual. I realized that if you get your food earlier, there are less flies and more food to choose from :) After lunch, we went into separate workshops and I followed papa who was facilitating a group on Dharmaric Education for Children. It's interesting to hear from people around the world talk about their countries education. Just listening to all that was very interesting. There's a monk who works with drug addicts and gangsters in Thailand and helps them get through their problems. The monks at INEB are the coolest monks I've ever met. They sit on the same level as us, they have fancy dslr camera's, they talk to people, they are so open and they have facebook. 
I had the most sandiest dinner ever. Literally every bite was a bite full of sand. Just when everyone raved about the nice, clean food. I suspect they dropped it outside and just threw it back in the pile. I tried to eat in and not waste food, but there was just so. Much. Sand... 

2 Weeks in India: Day 4

Continuation of: 2 Weeks in India: Day 12 Weeks in India: Day 2 and 2 Weeks in India: Day 3.

Tuesday, 25th October 2011,
India Day 4:

It's only been 4 days?!? Days go by so slow here, especially today. We went to visit one of the most sacred places on Earth. The Mahabodhi Temple, the place where Buddha gained enlightenment. There were so many people praying and doing religious stuff taking it all in. The place is HUGE!!! 

Some say that you go there and dedicate merits for yourself and your loved ones and it's a time to wish for things. I think Buddha, or any other god you believe in already knows. I think He can already hear us. I dedicated anyway. To the people just outside the temple having to beg for money and to everyone else I could and couldn't think of at the moment. I hoped it does something. Personally, I don't think I'm a very religious person. So the significance of being where I am now hasn't hit me yet. Someday it might. 
Other than out adventure this morning, the rest of the day went by very slowly. I sat at a table selling CD's the entire afternoon. It's so dusty here that a few hours after I started selling, the CD's were already covered in a blanket of dust! 
It's now 5 pm...
How much more sacredness can I take? I feel terrible for being so un-faithful. 

2 Weeks in India: Day 3

Continuation of: 2 Weeks in India: Day 1 and 2 Weeks in India: Day 2

Monday, 24th October 2011
India, Day 3:
Counting down the days seem to make time move slower. Or maybe it's because I still look at my watch and count back 2 and a half hours to find out the time in India. 
We arrived in Gaya at 5 am. So many people were sleeping on the dirty floor waiting for their train to arrive which has been delayed, and the smell was awful. I think culture shock finally hit me then. Not forgetting to mention the billions of green tiny insects that you wouldn't know are on you until they start biting flying around. At that moment I wished I was still in our little Harry Potter, Hogwards Express-like cabin sleeping. But we had to walk down the stairs and out the door and then freedom at last.

Out here people slept on the floor too and babies didn't wear pants. There was even a cow at the train station!! The only way I know how to describe the Gaya train station is like a wet market, but way dirtier. We waited half an hour for someone to come pick us up, but no one came. So, we took a taxi instead. The ride was super b-u-m-p-y! The taxi driver seemed to have gotten lost because every building here was a temple. We finally found it and then it was off to breakfast. 
The temple we are staying at is called 'Wat Thai Barat', just opposite the famous, holy place where the Buddha gained enlightenment: Mahabodhi temple.

Everybody seemed to know papa and papa seemed to know everyone too.
After breakfast, we went to pay respect at at another temple, and then visited an art exhibition where artists from around the world come to to art.

an artist from China.

Here are some of the art that were on display:

I also took pictures of bugs and insects during breakfast and our walk around the temple.

There are loads of flies around here.

We stopped by a mini market to get some soap and a drink before heading back to the room. We bought mountain dew and this little girl came up to us asking for juice. We didn't quite understand her at first so we gave her coins but she kept following us and then we realized that she wanted our drink. Papa finally gave in and gave her the drink and she didn't bother us. We got back to the temple and I helped the sweep the dust off the cement which was almost impossible because the wind kept blowing it back again. I did it anyway because there was nothing else to do anyway. I'm not sure if I'm getting these series of events in order, because after doing so many things today I start tok forget which order it was in. Uncle ken arrived with his mother (whom we are sharing our room with)

Auntie wanted to visit the bodhi tree (as in THE bodhi tree the Buddha gained enlightenment under) we decided to go tomorrow morning. I did loads of drawing to pass the time that my black Sharpie marker ran out of ink. Thank goodness I brought 2!

2 Weeks in India: Day 2

Continuation of:  2 Weeks in India: Day 1

Sunday, October 23rd 2011
India Day 2:

We stayed in the hotel the whole morning because papa had to finnish a presentation for the conference. We had cake and Snapple for breakfast and I spent the morning reading Cecelia Ahern's The Gift. It's a really good book and I'm a fan of hers now. 
At noon, we packed and checked out of the hotel. With a couple hours to spare before the train to Bodhgaya left, we went out to the street where the rickshaw driver we met yesterday took us somewhere for lunch. According to him, there's an Indian restaurant that's very clean because there are many foreigners there. We went there and he was right. Everyone, (including us) washed our hands with hand sanitizer and wiped the cutlery with tissue LOL. I had a cheese naan and papa had Roti Pratha (roti channai) 

There was even a snake charmer sitting outside the restaurant!

After lunch, we went around Delhi looking at different shops and visited a temple. On the streets, may people beg for money. Little kids do gymnastics, charm snakes (with real cobras in their baskets) and moms  with their kids beg for money too. I feel sorry for them, but at the same time, not all of them are really poor. The rickshaw driver says that those people are 'professional beggars'. 
We went to the train station. We got first class tickets so we had our own little room with beds. The people working there disinfected the place, sent food and gave us flowers. Only thing was that they served dinner so late that we were fast asleep so we didn't even eat it :/ 
Some trains can be delayed up to 8 hours! And I thought it was bad in Malaysia. I didn't see anyone sit on top of trains like in the movies though...

New Delhi Railway Station.

Chasing the sunset...

2 weeks in India: Day 1

I swear, if you come to India, it will change your life. Maybe in a small way, maybe not so small. Each of us live our lives so comfortably in our pretty little bubbles that we don't really know what's outside. Our biggest problems are things like wether to buy a Blackberry or an iPhone (seriously?!?) or getting many A's in an exam. These things hardly mean anything for most children I met in India where I was the past two weeks. These so-called "problems" we face are somewhat superficial in the real world where people have no place to stay and no clean water to drink.
At the end of the day, no one's going to notice what you wear, they're not going to care what phone you've got, neither will they look at the numbers of A's you got on that little slip of paper to get you a job, because sometimes exam results doesn't ensure you a great job.
I think it's about time to burst that bubble we live in and see what's really happening and you'll be surprised just how lucky you are.
We read about it, watch it on the news and hear about it on the radio. They try to bring awareness to what's happening in places like Kenya, Africa, India... and so on. But it's never the same as really being there. I didn't really go to rural area's in India, but people there are so poor when their surroundings are so rich. I find India really contradicting in that way where the rich are very rich and the poor don't even have electricity.
So last month, I went to India with my dad. Just the both of us, for an adventure and also for a conference and here's what I did, where I went and what I saw when my dad and I went to visit incredible India...

Saturday, October 22nd 2011
Day 1:

Got up at about 7 this morning. Still very sleepy, we went to the airport. Grandma-mama and grandpa surprised us by meeting us there. We had Mcdonalds for breakfast and the apple cake I made for my mom and dad's 20th anniversary yesterday. Then, it was time for us to board the the plane. Grandma-mama thought I raised enough money already and I was going to Nashville! (I wish!)
The plane we sat on to Delhi was the D7205 and it was about a 5-hour journey. It was smooth and comfortable and I'm glad we arrived in Delhi on time and safe. 

The airport had many interesting things including this hand gesture and the many others below. Not sure what it means though....
There were so many people at the airport! The scariest part for me was the security guards at the gates carrying huge, gigantic machine guns and they sat behind these metal shields as if preparing for war. Someone forgot to pick us up from the airport so papa called him and he came a little later. His car was pretty dented and I was wondering why. When we got to the main road, I understood why. The roads were crazy! People honk their horns all the time and if you don't make way, they charge forward anyway. There were small lorries on the road with only three wheels and motorised rickshaws, normal rickshaws along with cars, vans, busses. 

We got to New Delhi railway station and there were even more people! The queue was really organized. No one cut lines! Unfortunately, the train for the overnight train to Gaya was full and we had to book one for tomorrow instead. That meant, we have one more night here in Delhi. 14 more days without my mom and siblings feel like forever. Culture shock had not hit me yet though. 
We checked into a small hotel opposite the railway station called Capital Hotel. It's quite a cozy place, with a TV, air-condition and a toilet. Pretty good, if you ask me. We rested for a while and went out for our search for food. Even though it wasn't even six yet here in India, it was already 8:30 in Malaysia. Eating food by the roadside was definitely our of the question, a rickshaw driver told us that he would take us to look at some things and then take us some place to eat. But he dropped us at a very high-class shop selling all sorts of stuff from jewelry and statues (at a very high price) and left. Thank goodness another rickshaw driver was there and offered to take us around. It was a very scary and exciting experience riding on a motorized rickshaw for the first time. I was holding on tight to the railing because there was no door and definitely no safety belt! We arrived at a place called Connought place,

 and we decided to eat.... (three guesses where...)


We walked around for a while and realized that there are both very rich people and poor people here. All sorts of branded stores like Adidas (two of them, actually) and Marks and Spencer and bakeries with security guards at the doors and on the other side, people living on the streets begging for food and money. Something I didn't see everyday. It makes me feel very lucky to born into the family I have and live where I live.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Ticket to nashville recital TWO

I'm going to have another recital this Sunday!
Do drop by if you're free :)

Credits to my dad for making this!! :)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Guess What??

It's the time of year when I just literally think "it's December already?!?" Time seems to be zooming past at the speed of light. Christmas is coming! I don't really celebrate it, but I LOVE the christmas lights and decorations. I'm contemplating on getting a string of those lights in my room and keeping them on throughout the year. 

I've got some exciting news!

I'm going back to school next year! I seriously can't wait! 
Well, it's not exactly a school but it's close enough. I know some of you are probably thinking I'm completely out of my mind when it seems like everyone else is trying to get out of school and here I am, going back but it's what I want. My parents didn't panic that I would be going to college soon and would need some paper qualifications (or whatever it is that gets people into another school after they graduated from school) to help me get into one, it was entirely my decision. 


I've been taking tons of pictures and playing around with only the best free online picture editing website in the world *takes deep breath from very long introduction* PICNIK! 
I recently realized that I could make some objects black and white and some with full colour. Just like colouring but way more fun.


I'll be having my next 'Ticket To Nashville' recital on December 18th, not quite sure of the venue yet though... So, if you'd like to come that'll be great! More details soon.

It's also the time of year to make more new year's resolutions. More list-making, organizing, planning, over-thinking... 
Anyway, here's ten things I listed last year:

Things I wanted to do in 2011

1. Send my friends a New Year greeting. -Didn't do it... Ooops?
2. Get 100 subscribers on Youtube. - SIX more to ONE HUNDRED! (WHAAAT?!?)
3. Create a Facebook page. -Done! AND, with 92 Fans already!
4. Buy a camera  - Didn't have to :)
5. Write 150 songs by the end of the year. -I wasn't really specific, but if including unfinished and finished songs, then yes. I did it. But this year I learnt that it isn't the number of songs, it's how good those songs were and I have to say, this year, I feel like I've definitely grown a lot in my song-writing and the songs to me, feel more honest. 
6. Video blog - Made quite a few!
7. Get 80 marks for ballet grade 7 exam. - (EPIC FAIL. Dream on Am)
8. Do a full split. 
9. Meet Taylor Swift. (I didn't MEET her, but I was about 6 inches away, and it MADE MY DAY 
no, Life!)
10. Achieve all of the above. *-.-''*

Okay, so I didn't achieve it all, but at least I got most of it.
This is what I want to achieve next year (in no particular order...)
I'll add more to the list as more ideas come to me.

Things I want to do in 2012
1. Go to Nashville.
2. Think less.
3. Pick up the violin again.
4. Talk more.
5. Start on writing a book....