Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Jumjum returns!

Dear jumjum...

  While waiting for 10 mins incubation to go by for an experiment, I had a conversation with David today about what we do in our free time. He brought up sports, I talked about reading and guitar and then we both talked about the Youtube genres that are our weaknesses. After finally submitting something I put off for awhile, I was mulling over whether to start a new book tonight since I did not feel like working anymore but it is a bit too early for bed. Then it suddenly occurred to me that blogging never crossed my mind during our chat this afternoon- and for good reasons.

  Before university, writing was always at the back of my mind. I'd have a fleeting thought or an interesting moment and I would immediately go, 'oh I should write that down'. It certainly isn't like that anymore and I actually feel demotivated to write: I have a ton of half-written posts floating around in draft-space, possibly forever!

  It also occurred to me tonight that if this blog was my child, it would be 10 this year and attending primary 4! I am aware that that is a crazy metric for how long a virtual thing has existed, but it still blows my mind. I also remember the joy that reading these blog posts bring me and so I am determined to write and not let this child die!

  Perhaps we should start with David. David is the second undergraduate student that I guide in the lab. Crazy, right?! The first was Sarah, a final year student. When she showed me her FYP poster for my feedback it felt funny. Funny because it was only last year that I was preparing my FYP poster and yet, I didn't feel totally unqualified to comment on hers. It is the 5th year that I have been in HK, yet it doesn't feel like so long ago when we were freshmen. I must agree, however, that I have changed, most significantly in the past year. 

  The first year of MPhil has been...uncomfortable. I am still adjusting to not having concrete deadlines for most of my work, and I am finding out that I am quite the procrastinator when left to my own devices. For the first few months, surrounded by bright minds and hardworking bodies, I questioned if I was good enough for this. It is also hard to be here without the familiar faces of my gang, and all those Chinese 名句s we learnt about the sorrows of 物是人非 comes back in waves. 

  Being a hall tutor has definitely made its mark on my character. Since socialising is now my job, it is less daunting than it used to be. I also learned to relax when hosting floor events because the stress oozes out of you like a bad smell. It is kinda nice to hang around the young undergraduate folks who worry over midterms and projects- they remind me of a young me and I like to call them 'the kids' (although people have repeatedly reminded me that I was a 'kid' just last year and one or two of those 'kids' are actually the same age as me ;) ). Hall tutor perks aside, I'm glad that I convinced myself to try for the position, because I knew that it would help me grow. 

  Here's to the postgrad life ahead and (hopefully) blogging on the regular!


Monday, November 27, 2017

Opening the 'Letter to the Future Me'

Dear jumjum...

  Four years ago at the start of our first semester of uni- when our uni life was stretched out before us and graduation seemed so far away, my friends and I decided to write a letter to ourselves to be read upon graduation. 


  My graduation ceremony was almost 2 weeks ago, but I only remembered to open it tonight. 

  You know how I always set up high expectations for events in my life? This was both a case of future- and retro-expectation. Four years ago, I was expecting myself to be a well-adjusted, confident (and thin!) woman with a clear path in life. Tonight, I was expecting the letter from young Jacq to be insightful, inspiring and well-written. Both Jacqs were disappointed! The letter sounded to me like it was written by a baby! Bleh. It still did make me cry though...but what else is new? ;)

"...yes I am"

I still question myself every single day!


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Taiwan trip 2017

  Dear jumjum...

  As the destination everyone seems to have visited and loved, and as YP's preferred place to relocate to, Taiwan has been on my to-go list for a few years now. I finally made it happen a month into my summer holiday with three of the iGEM fossils. I am so grateful for all the thought and planning Chloe did, as I was rotting away in extensive holiday laziness. She was also the most prepared person on the trip, with extra cash, plastic bags, and power socket converters to save the day. We were there for seven days and seven nights. My phone's camera decided to go on strike right before the trip, so I brought my brother's DSLR and attempted (and failed, most of the time) to take nice pictures. Please do not comment on the pictures with varying degrees of brightness :) As the trip went on, I also took less and less pictures :)

  On our first day we took the train to 青桐、平溪、十份、九份。The sights were beautiful, especially at 十份 and 九份 。I got to release my first sky lantern amidst throngs of people doing the same. It was late evening when we arrived at 九份, and most shops were closed. It was a fascinating place with little alleys and lanterns aplenty, and if I ever had the chance, I would definitely return to 九份 for a thorough visit.

It took me several tries to take the name of this place, as it was flashing. So cute!

 The nice bike paths along the river reminded me so much of biking last summer in NY along the island banks.

Interesting dessert place in Ximen which had scrawls over every available surface, including the ceilings.
  For our one night in Yilan, we home-stayed with this couple who had a frog obsession. The only frogs they didn't have were live frogs! The hostess was super friendly and talkative, she had maps of Yilan on her wall and gave us a 20 minute lecture on what there was to eat and see. 

 There are many beautiful parks to visit around Yilan, but we only managed two. We also visited a whiskey distillery, which was what Eric was looking forward to the most ;)

Edward and his modelling

  On our way from the first park to the second, I thought we would walk to the main road and hail a taxi. It quickly became clear that this was impossible, as the "main road" was a mini highway running through plantation fields lined with large houses and farms. We were forced to walk to the second park which was half an hour away. Although I enjoyed the view and the breeze and was quite amused by our detour, I think my friends and their tired legs were prepared to murder me. 

  We visited three night markets throughout the trip, and my favourite has to be the one in Luodong, because of its food variety and liveliness. I was looking forward to Shilin but it was raining that night, and the range of food seemed limited.

  My favourite food in Taiwan is, hands down, 卤肉饭。Needless to mention, the milk teas I had there were the best. I was also obsessed with this traditional dessert at a franchise called 小南门. I made this serendipitous discovery on the 6th day, while shopping around Xinyi area. I was lunching late at a food court, when the cashier recommended that I add on dessert for a few more bucks. It was glorious. The tauhu had perfect consistency and taste, with soft boiled peanuts and two other chewy things I cannot identify. I returned to take out round two that same night, and returned the next day for tea. 

  One of the best parts of the trip was the companionship and the unfiltered camaraderie. We played the most epic game of guessing movies using a single phrase which does not include any words from the movie title, which lasted several hours. We spent our nights playing cards and endless rounds of Fun Run 2 (thanks Zac) in the hostel room. The alcoholics ensured we had drinks every other night, and we also tried to be fancy and had wine and cheese once. On the last night, everyone was reluctant to go to bed and we were up until 4am, learning to play German bridge. I had to set 10 alarms to make sure that I could get up at 7am for church before my flight the next day. 

  The only downside to the trip was the weather. It was either too hot or pouring rain, and we returned to the hostel with shoes soaked through with rainwater one too many times. I also felt like I was back in HK, with my three HK companions and countless other Hongkongers speaking in Cantonese around me. Hoping to return soon with my family, preferably not in the summertime!


Sunday, February 5, 2017

Life's tumbles

Dear jumjum...

My role in the football team is head cheerleader, and I am responsible for yelling encouragement from the bench to my teammates on the field. Occasionally, like in the last 5 minutes today, I get subbed in when a teammate is injured. We were confident that we could win the match this morning, but it was already the second half and we were still getting our asses handed to us. I don't know if it stemmed from the frustration that it was not a good day for most of my teammates, or my general frustration at life and its disappointments, but I was more aggressive than usual on the field. It was the first time that I managed to focus all my attention on the game, and I was so intent on getting the ball that I fell twice without knowing how I ended up on the ground, and on both occasions I picked myself right back up and charged straight for the ball. The second fall was more dramatic, and I remember a half-flip of some sort before grazing my right knee on the turf. Somehow, it was intensely satisfying to fall. Somewhere in my weirdo mind, it felt like the falls were the manifestation of the rejections that life threw at me. The people around me have been telling me that my recent setbacks aren't that bad and I should not take it so seriously; but that's not how I feel. To me, it IS a big deal. And tumbling in that field today was satisfying because it was as if Life finally came up to me, spat in my face and admitted that yes, the recent events suck indeed, and they hurt. 

I am allowed to cry and feel disappointed, but before the game ends, I better peel myself off the ground and continue running. 


Saturday, February 4, 2017


Dear jumjum...

Right before my flight back to HK from KL, my brother and I went to the bookstore for something to read on my 4 hour flight. My brother bought me All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, which I thoroughly enjoyed on my journey. It is set in the 1940s, on the verge of World War II, and follows the lives of a blind French girl and a German orphan boy. The boy finds and repairs an old radio, and enjoys listening to all sorts of programs with his sister, most significantly one teaching science to children. 

His interest in listening to the radio reminded me of one of my most expensive purchases in my childhood. When I was in primary school, I loved listening to the radio- not only because of the music, but because it made me feel like I was connected to the outside world. Sidetrack: this was when I was living in Kajang, not small town Kuching, so I don't understand why I felt like I wasn't part of the society, but so it was. However, I could only listen to the radio in the car, and so the choice of channels we listened to were subjected to mum's approval. This was also before I used the internet on the regular, so I didn't get music off the internet either. 

When I was 10, I was waiting for my mum (doing her hair? I forget) at a mall. I was handed one of those promotional leaflets for Watson's pharmacy. It was close to Christmas and one of the items they were promoting was a Snoopy portable radio. It was grey aluminium, palm-sized, with a Snoopy illustration in the corner, costing RM30 or RM40. (I scoured the internet to find a picture, to no avail). I deliberated for awhile, then informed one of my siblings before I shot off to Watson's. On the way there, I remember worrying if the radio came with earphones as I had none. I was stoked to have my own radio and it seemed too good to be true that I doubted if it would work... Evidently, worthless worrying begun at a young age for me. 

For whatever reason, I felt like my parents would disapprove of my purchase, so I hid it from my family members. I would listen to it when I couldn't sleep at night. It was a pain to find a strong radio signal but I loved it anyway. I don't remember if they ever found out about it, and I have no idea what happened to it..


About Cats

Dear jumjum...

I used to hate cats. I loathed the way they stare at you, all high and mighty-ly, as if you are an inferior being. I loathed it when I eat out by the roadside and a stray cat walks under the table and brushes against my bare legs. I suffer with the lingering bushy feeling and thoughts of contamination until I can finally soap and wash my legs.

Right before I left for uni, my brother Zac begin to have an affiliation for cats. When I met my first and closest friend in uni, I referred to her as Siao Ngiao or 'Crazy Cat' to my family. This is a little hard to explain. Basically, after a week or two of getting to know her, Patricia and I passed her validation period and she started to show her true colours. From a shy, quiet little Korean girl, she morphed into a dynamic, unpredictable, explosive girl who couldn't care less about anyone's opinion of her. And she was crazy about cats. She would meow in the lift if she felt like it (which is very often). She would also claw at us in public. When I first started calling her Siao Ngiao, we were summer roommates she overheard my conversation and asked if it meant 'roommate'! 

Our first picture together (which she edited, of course)

Ms Cat couldn't care less that we were taking a group photo..

Thanks to the global cat epidemic, I started to pay attention to the flood of cat videos online, and tagged my crazed brother and friend in cat videos. I was unconscious to the gradual effect it had on me over the past 3 years until last December, when Zac dragged my dad and I to a cat cafe in Bangkok. Now, you have to understand that although I was quite unenthusiastic about going, I never refuse my baby brother anything. It was my first time patting cats and the eroded walls around my heart came crashing down. I liked the big cats down to the little kitties. I found their cold behaviour and fierce attitude in getting what they want quite endearing.



 Zac: "So many cats to pat but only two hands..."

In January, I met Soba and I fell in love. She belonged to the family that my sister and brother rented rooms from in KL. Soba is the prettiest, most adorable cat (with the FLUFFIEST tail) I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. Soba is such a princess, she doesn't like to be stared at and the only way to lure her out was to turn our backs to her and ignore her. When she walks, she sort of hops at the same time, with her little butt in the air. She is super energetic. She lives to be adored by all: she identifies the person in the room who loves her least (Mum) and targets all her antics at her. When mum is alone in the kitchen with her, she meows for her attention. When I stayed with them, playing with her was our first priority every morning. Now that my siblings have moved out of that house, I doubt I will ever see Soba again, but the effect she had on me will be eternal!



Thursday, October 27, 2016

NY adventures w5-w8

Dear jumjum...

Continuing with my NY adventure log... This is so super overdue and I barely remember most of the details, but here we go:

Week 5

I was craving barbequed beef so Raphie and I headed to Koreatown, Instead of beef, I ended up getting seafood soup- just as good! Then we checked out Union Square and Whole Foods. I decided to walk for almost an hour to St Patrick's Cathedral for sunset mass.

Mum demanded that I ask someone to take a picture of me.

On Sunday I had brunch with Mika's friends Audrey and Sherra in Brooklyn. It was crazy hot and we had to wait in the sun for a seat. And I finally crossed the Brooklyn Bridge :)


Visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I thought I'd be there for 2 hours max but the place is huge, and super interesting. I like visiting museums but this one really takes the cake. It took my amateur appreciation of art to a whole new dimension! So glad I went alone so I could make erratic circles back to the pieces I liked the most.

My favourite sculpture! Even though it's just the rough model for the real thing.


Woke up early to avoid the midday sun while walking the High Line. Had a cronut at the Dominique Ansel Bakery (second trip there since they ran out of cronuts on my first, but they are way too sweet for my liking).

I went to Chinatown for the sole purpose of visiting a cheap optical shop to buy contact lenses, and I was really surprised how big Chinatown is, and how much it resembled HK. It even SMELLS like China. It has that Chinese herby aroma, with aunties yelling in the outdoor wetmarket stalls...

Hung out with supervisor's family again, this time at a bar in a park near our apartments. Emma had just started walking and was determined to explore as much as she could, so we took turns being dragged around by the baby, supporting her by her tiny hands.


I finally got to visit Bibble & Sip, the place I knew I HAD to visit even before I arrived in NY because it is known for its matcha puffs, and I am a matcha fanatic! It certainly didn't disappoint. Raphie and I tried getting our makeup done at Sephora, but they used such a heavy hand on me and I had to remove most of it to avoid looking like a panda.


This weekend was basically dedicated to studying for the GREs. I chose a brunch spot near the apartment and studied the whole afternoon.

That Thursday the lab had a farewell dinner for one of the labmates, and we headed to a rooftop bar after dinner. Since half of my labmates were older and married, I was pretty sure that I'd be home by midnight. But I guess it was their first night off in a long time, because they were so determined to party! I was falling asleep by 3am while they were still going strong... AND everyone was back at work in the lab the next day, some at 9am xD