The year end is always a very powerful time- a great time to celebrate, to have gatherings, to reflect and set our goals and pin our hopes for the future and coming year. I realised that this is the third year in a row I’m penning down my year-end reflections. Click to read 2015 and 2016.
As I review my accomplishments this year with a deep sense of gratitude and a heart that is so full and bursting, I must first of all say that none of it are my own achievements alone. I owe it to you, and to many many others who without them, would not have made any of these possible.
Career wise, I feel like I have grown in leaps and bounds. We are not talking numbers here, nor am I referring to the number of ambassadorships I’ve signed or campaigns I’ve done or the content and articles that I’ve rolled out. I feel like I’ve grown vastly as a person as I’ve learnt to fully embrace what I do. I view what I do not as a job but as a calling and I challenge myself every single day to be better in my game and to take my influence responsibly. I must be proud that I have turned something I am so passionate about into a career. How many people can actually say the same? How many can actually wake up every single morning feeling excited and pumped with so much drive and energy, no matter the number of hours clocked the night before?
My various platforms have not only become a place where thousands visit for inspiration or use as an escape but it has also has become an outlet for me to publish my thoughts, share my finds and pen down my two cents. I love documenting as much as I love reading and connecting and that is what makes this journey so so fulfilling.
One key learning from my year is to always prioritise integrity even while dreaming big and working on the plan. So much has happened in the past 12 months and so much of blood, sweat and tears have been put in, not just by me, but my entire amazing team, to stay afloat and push out the best content we can. To say that it has all past in a blink would be a real understatement. Here are some monumental moments for my keeps.
The year started out with a trip to Gaya Islands where we spent a couple of days in a resort with very limited access to wifi. We witnessed the most beautiful sunrise over breakfast on the beach, went kayaking through the swamps and trekked through the jungle. It was quite the perfect way to start the year, being so connected to nature and disconnected from the rest of the world. It gave me some time to read, reflect and just plan out my months ahead.
My next trip was in February to Yamagata, Japan, for a video campaign with ANA.
It was a solo trip as they had the entire crew arranged on their end. I witnessed the most magical and beautiful sights but got emotional at how much I was missing my other half. It was honestly not an easy trip and I came back home crying over many things (like my blistered frost bites for one).
Nonetheless, I’d consider it one of the more memorable and insightful trips of the year for me as the difficulties I faced kinda set the tone for how gritty I was going to be with all my campaigns and work to follow.
I remember psyching myself up the entire time that NOTHING I SET MY MIND TO is too hard to handle or too difficult to achieve, and I did it.
I think this takeaway might have been one of my biggest takeaways for 2017.
End Feb, I found myself landing up in Bangkok for a surprise trip that my bridesmaids planned for me. They knew how stressed out I was being drowned in all the work so they “kidnapped” me for an all-girls trip and we had the best time of our lives. We shared so many fun and funny moments and looking back on the photos always puts a smile on my face. I’m so eternally grateful for the girlfriends, who always have my back. Although only 4 out of 7 of the entire bridal party could join, the rest (together with Melvin and James) surprised me at the airport when we returned. I’ll never forget that day.
The months ahead actually feel like quite a blur.
I recall going on a work trip to China for a video campaign with SK Jewelry. It was a so cool to have been able to experience what a traditional/customary Teochew wedding would be like.
It’s amazing where work takes us because I don’t think we would have ended up in somewhere as foreign as Chao Zhou on our own.
Being exposed in that way really opened my eyes and taught me to embrace differences gracefully.
We had a lot of fun with Charmaine and the rest of the team, especially laughing at James’ in his traditional wear that he was so proud of!
Later that same month, I had the incredible honour of joining Dior for one of their key launches in Seoul with Natalie. We were just in and out of there in 2 and a half days, but we managed to film 3 short videos, 1 full video and quite a lot of content for Instagram.
Despite the very hectic schedule, it was a whole load of fun. I gave it my best shot and realised how much I can achieve when I push myself.
I landed in Singapore and headed off straight to KL for Kate Spade’s Spring Summer press presentation. It is always a real joy working with brands that I genuinely love.
We jetted off to Sydney right after for yet another travel campaign and this crazy adventure had us out do ourselves again. Traveling with James, made all our experiences just so much more memorable. Being able to explore with him and learn and grow each and every single passing day, is one of the most fulfilling things in this lifetime. It was James’ first experience at doing my videos but his persistence to learn and figure things along the way had his learning curve steepen from 0 to a 100 in just this one single trip.
The rest of the travels from here on included Bali, which we extended from our engagement party, together with our family first and then later on with Tara and Damian. It was probably one of my other favourite trips of the year because of how full my heart was post-engagement-party.
Spending that extra few days with James’ family meant the world to me as we got to enjoy some quality time together out of home.
I hope James and I can take them some place else in the coming year.
In June, we did one of the most epic trips together with our photographer friend, Melvin and close friend/make-up artist, Jyue Huey.
We spent a week in Perth and beyond, and witnessed some of the most stunning geological landscapes and what nature had to best offer.
Even though it was a work trip with Western Australia Tourism Board, I had the opportunity to unwind and recharge for the months ahead.
I am so blessed to have friends/partners we can creatively explore with, rely on and have fun together.
James and I landed ourselves back in Hong Kong again towards the end of June to meet Jessica Cindy, my beautiful girlfriend/wedding gown designer, to design a pair of bespoke shoes with Gianvitto Rossi. It was such a real honour for me as this was the first time they were doing something like such. I remember siting in their store, dressed in Jess’s gown, feeling like a princess with her dreams come true. I am so thankful.
Hong Kong is a special place for James and I, and we couldn’t be happier to be back in the city for the second time this year.
We were off to Shanghai right after to meet the rest of girls from Lancome for a very exciting product launch.
It was one of the best media trips with such a close-knit group of fellow blogger friends whom I could connect with both online and offline. We spent nights laughing our asses off at Hai Di Lao and a night partying away in a club (and that was probably the ONE SINGLE NIGHT in the entire year I partied. Thanks for dragging me out, girls!).
The entire campaign was about #DeclaringHappiness and I think we all passed with flying colours.
Late July, I did a last minute holiday to Bangkok with my family right before my wedding. We also managed to catch my best friend there at that time, and Philly, my wedding stylist. We spent an afternoon at Chatuchuk market shopping together for props and more but to no avail.
I wished that trip was more a lot more productive but I am happy it happened anyway because that one single massage on a particular night felt like the best thing I deserved at that point, EVER.
We dived straight to another work trip after our wedding, where many mistook as our honeymoon. I had the privilege of joining Reebok in their #PerfectNever campaign, hosted by the very lovely Liv, in Maldives.
Maldives was a first for me this year and a real dream come true.
James and I enjoyed soaking in sunshine and fully embracing what the beautiful island had to offer, even while working our asses off from sunrise to sunset. We did our best to embrace every single moment because it was too beautiful to let it pass.
Being surrounded by other beautiful girls from all around the region, each sharing their own #PerfectNever story, was very inspiring and heart-warming.
We extended the trip and stayed at Club Med Finoulu, where we broke our own personal record — filming for 13 hours straight each day for 3 days in a row, trying to catch every possible ray of light.
This trip was so much learning for me– I pushed my own limits and boundaries once again and forced myself to overcome my fear. I felt right in my pushing as if the effort meant something. It was so accomplishing not for what I’ve done nor overcomed, but for stepping across that line and trying.
We did many trips in between, like one to Danang and Tokyo before finally making it for our honeymoon in Italy. Those were all work trips but each with its own beautiful memories forged. I recall having an absolutely bad/dysfunctional day in Danang, where James and I were so muddle-headed that just about nothing was going right— we overslept so we missed the chance at having an epic buffet breakfast in the restaurant (we were there for only 2 days), I misplaced my brand new Samsung Note 8 (which I found back eventually, thank God!), James’ drone battery was dead because he forgot to charge it and many more to list. We ended the day just laughing over it, not taking it too seriously and allowing that “bad” day to pass with hopes that the next would be better.
I guess it is important to be unapologetic at times and not too hard on yourself but instead, channel all that frustration as motivation to do better next time. That was the same trip we hired Cloe, one of my best helps in the team today.
Tokyo was awesome and Tokyo can never go wrong. We’re glad that we extended our trip beyond our engagement with Tokyo Government to spend time with my Kuku and Uncle.
This trip especially, James and I focused a lot on doing whatever that made us happy. Tokyo is James’ favourite country, so it wasn’t too difficult to be happy in that place. We did not have a fixed schedule, we roamed around freely without a clue where we were going, and stopped by any restaurant we felt like when we were hungry. It did feel quite like my kind of a holiday.
We visited Italy around end-Oct to work with some hotels under the Lungarno Collection. It was such a surreal experience being back in Florence again within a span of a year. James and I really love Italy and we cannot get enough of Italian food. I recall our last meal in Italy where we were savouring every last mouth of pasta. We couldn’t comprehend how we weren’t sick of the same ol’ pasta for over seven days straight.
This time, we decided to make a trip down South to Sicily where we stayed in one of the most stunning Belmond properties and we had the most romantic night of our lives. It was pure magic.
Our honeymoon was probably the biggest trip highlights for 2017.
After our stint in Italy, we flew over to Turkey where we landed in Istanbul. We enjoyed a couple of days exploring the city before heading to Cappadocia where we had a time of our lives. We had the most magical experience riding a hot air balloon at sunrise and witnessing them fly past us during breakfast at the Museum Hotel the very next day. I’ll never ever forget that moment we checked into our little cave and actually considered just living in it forever. We met the kindest people in Turkey, and bought back a piece (of rug) with us.
In 2017, our goal was not the quantity of places we could clock but the experiences and unforgettable moments we could take with us. I’m so glad that we have a countless number of stories to share and memories that will last us a lifetime.
THE ENGAGEMENT PARTY & THE WEDDING
Getting married is indeed a huge milestone. This was a big deal for James and I. We wanted to celebrate it in every possible way we had the capacity to, and sharing our joy with as many people as we possibly could. Some tactless media or naysayers that tried raining on our parades with their sarcastic comments and/or false statements but they did not get us in any way. We worked hard for every bit of what we put out there and we had the best and most memorable time of our lives with those closest to our hearts.
We would not have had this any other way and we, together with all those who celebrated with us, and for us, are still bursting from this happy occasion.
OUR FIRST HOME
Owning a first home still seems like a faraway dream or a thought I can hardly wrap my head around. I didn’t expect to own our first home so soon after marriage but this unit was up for sale at the right place and time, so we just went with the flow and everything fell into place. Location is the number one factor in our consideration list. The second was size and that was pretty much all that mattered. Watching the entire place transform from concrete and cement to what we have today, is about the best feeling in the world. We spent quite a lot of time and effort into building this place up to make it ours, and I am so happy that it has come together before the year closed.
LOVE AND PERSONAL
This year, I held on to the belief that everything that I love ruthlessly will love me back with the same conviction. I challenged myself to give without any expectations in return. I challenged myself to do things to make me feel connected and alive, things that inspire me from within, things that excite me, things that make my heart race and stomach churn. I’ve constantly put myself in a place where I feel challenged by life and it has made me feel ever person.
In love, I’ve fallen so deep with someone who not only respects me but grows with me, a person who stands in awe of how I’ve bloomed and flourished, appreciates the things I stand for and loves me not just for who I am but for who I have the potential to be.
I’m in love with that person because he isn’t afraid to commit to me wholly; because he is completely present and content in my company. I love that person because he always says “we” and not “I”, because we are the best team, together. I love that person for standing with me in the wind, rain and fire, never leaving my side. I love that person for redefining what love meant, over and over again, and proving it daily with his actions.
On this note, I can’t wait for this next chapter in my life, I can’t wait for the brand new year ahead, for that fresh start where I can start writing my goals all over again! I’ve learnt so much this year as I continue counting my blessings and celebrating both big and small wins. I pray that I will always be kind, view the world and all the people around me in positive light, be quick to forgive and to be abundantly rich in health and love. I wish for you the same.