31 Dec 2015

2015 has flown by in a blink of an eye and just like each passing year, I’m amazed at how much has happened within the swift 365 days! I started the year saying that I want to make every day count and I think I did.
Scrolling through my instagram feed just left me with so many thoughts and indescribably intense emotions towards all that has happened– both the good and bad, the sweet and sour, the happy and sad.
It made me realise one thing. That our human capacity for happiness is flexible beyond our own comprehension. I’ve come to accept that we quickly adjust to our surroundings and are able to find joy in the situation regardless of past emotions and experiences. This realisation has gotten me past the toughest days and has led me to sadistically understand that being happy alone can be just quite overrated.
Feeling happy is important and one can find it through any means and almost in any situation. Contentment, on the other hand, is a whole new and different ball game– it is finding that balance between being in the constant pursuit of things and embracing that mental state of satisfaction.

2015 has been a great year for me professionally and in my own personal life.
Here are some main travel highlights that I want to share while penning some heartfelt thoughts about them.
Brace yourselves for a lengthy post ahead.

Australia
January: Jonathan and I started the year with a work trip to Sydney. It looked like an amazing trip on photos but it was actually a very tough and stressful one. It was taxing on the both of us because we had long days of shooting and filming for a project that we were doing with Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), given the time constraint as Jon had only the weekend to spare.
I extended my stay with Melvin and Rainer so we managed to enjoy some bits of Sydney after wrapping up the work for SPH. Even then, we still spent a good amount of time sitting at cafes to clear backlog. Work has been never ending from the start and it still is today.
Bangkok
February: It actually feels like quite a blur right now. I took a trip to Bangkok with Melvin for W Bangkok. Bangkok always makes me feel guilty because I’m constantly overeating. Feb was definitely my fattest month of the year. Post-CNY and Bangkok, how could it have been any worse right? I was so desperate that I started looking up gyms as I wanted to commit to a gym membership. Sadly, I never got to it.
Melvin returned home from Bangkok and his mom noticed that he had put on weight too. Sounds really extreme but this was a true story.
HK
March: Hong Kong-bound this time for an instagram takeover for Etikit. I recall hearing news about the deterioration of the health of our late founding father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew. It kept Melvin and I constantly checking our news feeds for updates. It struck me hard that life is indeed fragile and the day would eventually come that we would perish. Nothing is permanent in this world.
Aside to that, I had the chance to connect with some people personally during this trip as well and I felt extremely grateful for the opportunities that followed. Two days into the trip, I had an email from a Helicopter Services company who kindly offered a complimentary ride for Melvin and I after learning that we were in the city. That was my first helicopter ride ever and oh boy, it was epic!
It made me feel very blessed and fortunate that people value the work I do.
Tokyo
April: Yet another work trip but probably one of the best and most memorable of all. I decided to meet Dorothy (Jon’s mom) midway because she was going to spend some time in Singapore. We had a ball of fun shopping together, getting lost in the cold, eating (and laughing hysterically at this very quiet waitress, a joke we still laugh about today). Shooting in the most perfect weather and experiencing such a mind-blowing mass of sakura flowers. I was in a serious flower heaven and I just want to relive every moment of it again.
Bali1
Together with Dorothy, Shine and Melvin, we took a mini getaway to Bali just a couple of days after returning from Tokyo. We all share the same love for a tropical paradise and it was indeed a very fun and enjoyable trip! There was just so much uncontrollable laughter, great company and good food. These people make up a fraction of my favourite combination of travel companions!
London
Returning from Bali, I travelled to London to spend some quality with my beautiful girlfriend, Steph and also coincidentally met a twin halfway around the globe, Toni. It was such a memorable trip together as we spent quality friendship time exploring the city, going on a picnic, attending mass, and eating our hearts out. Met so many new friends on this trip and I wish I could reconnect with them again when I return on my next trip. This was a very fruitful work trip and I truly value the people whom I’d crossed paths with. It made me realise how people from different parts of the world can so easily connect on the what they find drive and passion in, overcoming any cultural or language barriers.
SFW
Vietnam
Bali2
May: This has got to be the most happening month of 2015 because it was not only my birthday month but there was just so much happening- work wise and personally too. It was a month of quiet reflection amidst the intensity of campaigns I was handling. I was also working with Singapore Fashion Week as their “Insider”– so I lived through the entire fashion week craze right through my birthday. I might have been the most sleep deprived this month, but I guess with all that was accomplished, it was quite gratifying. I went on a short press trip to Vietnam with Jess (Shiberty) and Evonne and I felt like I got a little addicted to being away from home. Maybe it was a form of escapism but the next solo trip to Bali made me cherish some personal time. I was there for 2-3 days for a shoot but I really enjoyed the mornings where I would sit by the pool, read and do nothing. One work trip after another, I could get used to this.
Darwin
June: Partnering with Australian Tourism Board, I went to Darwin on a press trip. This trip made me cross my boundaries and challenged me to step out of my comfort zone. Going solo with other magazine editors whom I’ve never met before was the first part. Staying in the middle of the outbacks with all sorts of insects under my bed, and intermittent wifi connection was the next. It was my first time eating crocodile meat, my first time being a arms length close to a crocodile. My first time seeing a rainbow right before my eyes. My first time trudging through wilderness to catch sunrise.
I’ve never gotten this close to nature in my entire life the way I did in the Northern Territory. It was an eye-opener and it made me realise how small and insignificant we were as people in the grander scheme of things. The beautiful sunsets, sights and sounds, just had me in awe of God’s wonderful creation.
“Why do birds in the sky, they neither sow nor reap. But still our God cares for them. Why will the Lord not care for you?”– I left Australia with this bible verse resounding through my soul.
Bali3
After Australia, Club Med Bali sent me for a 2-3 day trip to experience and feature their resort and I decided to bring Jon along. This was by far one of the most productive trips that I ever had with Jon, waking up early in the day, keeping close to our schedule and just being extremely work oriented. The resort was amazing but on hindsight, I wish that this trip did not happen. I am looking forward to experiencing the other Club Med resorts around the world though.
Following Bali, I took a weekend trip to Bangkok with my mom and brother to do a shoot for Thea by Thara, a Thai label. I was their “Thea girl of the month”! Thea is one of my all-time favourite Thai brand!
It was the first time my mom witnessing me at a photoshoot so she started snapping away with her mobile camera. A short retreat but some intimate family time like such is always treasured.
Paris1
July: I pushed myself creatively this month. I developed an even stronger sense of style (of things that appeal to me and things that don’t) and I tried to translate this through the photos which I post on social media, as well as the content that I publish on this space. There was very strong drive within me to achieve more. I wanted to be something more than being just an “influencer”. I spent a lot of time in Paris thinking about what more I could do; of how else I could impact someone else’s life positively. I was constantly seeking inspirations in the daily things that I came across with. Channeling all my time and focus on my career felt like the right thing to do at that point to distract myself from everything else that was happening in my personal life.
Jonathan and I decided to call it quits after I returned from Paris. It was not a sudden decision but it was time that we had both learnt to let go of what’s not meant to be. There was no reason for us to be stubborn about the things that we had not believed in. Romantic sacrifice is idealized in today’s culture, for one party or even both to desperately play as the needy character, treating themselves badly or allowing the other to treat them badly just for the sake of being in love with the other. I cannot comprehend this ideology for a standard of a successful relationship to be measured by just “being together” regardless of the emotional or practical circumstance present in either of our lives.
In literature we were taught that the story of Romeo and Juliet is one of romance– even with an irrational plot like drinking poison for love. It is exactly this kind of stupid idealisation that leads people to stay with partners who are abusive or negligent, to give up on their own needs and identities, to make themselves into imaginary martyrs, perpetually miserable, to suppress one’s own pain and suffering in the name of maintaining a relationship.
Sometimes the only thing that can make a relationship successful is ending it at an appropriate time before it becomes too damaging. And the willingness to do that allows us to establish the necessary boundaries to help ourselves and our partner grow together. This was my July.
Istanbul
NYC
August: This month, I learnt to let go of the things that was beyond my control and just busk in the moment. You know, live and let live. It feels like these trips just happened yesterday. Going to Istanbul for a project with Harrods alongside notable social media stars like Adam Galla, Zanita and Vanessa (THP) was very humbling. It was an emotionally trying month but keeping myself preoccupied with all these amazing new experiences was God’s way of showing me His grace.
I met new amazing people. I took on a new perspective on things and I finally understood how dwelling on things that were beyond my control was just futile. It was a month of healing and recovery. Spending time with my friends almost 24/7 through whatssap even though I was miles apart just reassured me that we were always close at heart.
New York followed right after Istanbul. I think it was the longest stretch of time that I’ve been away from home for this year. I was very happy to be back in the Big Apple after almost a year, and for the first time in my life ever, to experience fashion week. When I started using the #NYFW hashtag, only then reality had sunk in that “OH MY GOD. I’m here!”
Meeting my relatives and cousins in New York was surreal too. It was as though I could finally share a piece of my favourite city with them. More experiences for me in 2015 to keep close to heart.
Milan
Lake Como
Venice
Paris2
September: Got back to Singapore for a week boarding my flight to Milan and Paris for fashion week. Plans were already ongoing to launch my own label. I constantly felt like I was just racing against time. I was living on adrenalin rush because I was looking forward to what the last quarter of 2015 would entail. My trip to Lake Como and Venice was an impromptu idea because Toni (a.k.a fashitect) and I just wanted to escape from the craze of fashion week for a couple of days.
No regrets though! I still have photos from that trip unpublished. That’s the kind of backlog I’m still struggling with right now.
HK2
October: Travelled for the first time in my life with an empty luggage to a destination unknown. This is probably one of the most interesting and creative campaigns carried out by Changi Airport. It was so much fun because I knew that this trip was just meant as a getaway with no other work obligations other than to just have fun. I witnessed the most amazing sunset I’ve ever seen in my life and it was such an indescribably beautiful feeling. I loved how simple this trip was, no fixed plans, no frills, nothing. I travelled to Hong Kong with a good friend, James (or also known as babs) and this marked the start for something beautiful for us. I will leave that for a story on its own.
October was also a very hectic month as it was leading up to the launch of runafter at Digital Fashion Week. I felt like I grew a lot as a person. I realised that in hindsight, the pain is always far less important than it first seemed and friends that have been there, always will be.
DFW
November: Not sure if this would be the biggest highlight in terms of my own personal achievement of realising my dreams to have my own label. It took some courage to walk out of a full-time stable job in a bank, and then to tell my family that I wanted to do something creative and things that I felt passionate about. Modeling for online blogshops at that time was not something that made me happy, it was merely a way to earn some pocket money outside. That said, I really loved the friends I made and enjoyed their fellowship very much.
I enjoy the process of creating content, of brainstorming ideas for clients that I work with. To do something out of the ordinary and the best part of all, to build an unspoken relationship with an audience whom I can connect with.
November was a month of discovery. I was seeking for a deeper purpose to all that I was doing. Updating instagram with a bulk of pretty photos suddenly became secondary. I started to question what was motivating me every single day- if it was something just superficial and external or something deeper and more meaningful. Definitely not for money but probably guilty of wanting to be approved by others because I had a genuine desire to construct content that would move and inspire people in powerful ways.
I’m still questioning this but I feel like my focus has shifted ever since I altered the priorities in my life.
Mumbai
December: Wrapping up my travels for 2015 with yet another amazing trip to Mumbai, India, for Grand Hyatt. Another “first” for me– stepping into a foreign land I’ve never been to before and experiencing Diwali with the locals was a very eye opening experience. I’ve learnt that traveling must be done with a certain attitude, a zest for something new, to always pursue to become a better version of one’s self and to look at the rest of the world for inspiration. Like how I recently captioned, “Wherever you go, be all there”. A patronising thought but one that is so very true. We exist not to escape but to live. We constantly seek, constantly run after, and run in a way that it stokes the flame in your heart that you are alive and most of all, contented.
In December, I found love again. One stemming from a strong bond of friendship, ignited to something deeper and more. Almost like an unspeakable and unseen connection.
The year ended on a high with a trip to Seoul in the company of my favourite people and I would not have wished for it to end in any other way.
Check #3happyseouls!
Shape
Lastly, wrapping this up with my first ever cover appearance on a magazine cover. Amongst all the other features, I am so thankful to have been given this opportunity to front a cover. Not just as another face but hopefully someone that is looked upon as an inspiration, a confidant, a content curator, a digital artist, an entrepreneur.

In 2015, I grew up, I learnt from past experiences, I saw so much, I had so many “first time experiences”, I made a huge leaps of faith, I was open to change.
I’m positive that 2016 will only get better!
Thank you for journeying with me through another crazy year. I could not have done so without your endless support and love.

With all my heart,
Mel