Yours truly in a Red Dao herbal bath. Photo: Affandi Hamid
I’d sent this piece in for a writing competition, but I didn’t make the shortlist, so here it is for you guys.
I had begun my trip to the highlands of Vietnam expecting to learn more about the cultures of the Red Dao minority. What I hadn’t planned for was having the trip turn into a culinary experience, which in turn had me reminiscing my own identity and childhood.
It was a three hour flight from Kuala Lumpur to Hanoi, followed by a nine-hour train journey to Lao Cai. Then came the hour’s drive up the winding hills to Sapa, punctuated by the 13km hike to a Red Dao village, where I was to spend two nights.
Photo: Sunyu Kim
Some ten years ago I wrote this: “I woke up to a world greyer than usual. It’s as if Crayola came and took away the colours from my life.”
No, it wasn’t a Myspace post.
Sometimes I like reading my old work just to see what I was thinking at the time, and as much as I like to poke fun at my younger self, he does give me some hints as to why I am the way I am today.
If feelings were a scale of one to ten, I would have been hovering at a three for as long as I can recall. This was why I took to reading my old posts just to see how far back I’d stopped caring.
So you want to be a writer in Malaysia
Yep. I’m as bored with listicles as you. Photo: Joshua Rawson-Harris
Great. Another top-ten things article. Here’s a stick. See that dead horse? Go ahead. Have a go.
Despite the cliché, there’s a reason for all this trite. If you’ve ever asked me what it takes to be a writer in Malaysia, what courses make the best gig magnets, or what laptops produce the best word diarrhoea, then this piece is for you.
Photo: Thomas Leuthard
I know you’re busy, and you’re probably reading this post because you’ve got some time to kill between getting ready for work and your daily commute, so I’ll make it worth your while.
I mean, I can’t promise that you’ll get anything out of this, but hey, that’s the internet for you am I right?
One year ago
Well hello again. It’s been a while since my last post, and I thought I’d take this chance to announce a discovery I’ve made. I’ve taken to a monochromatic wardrobe a while back, and upon further inspection of social media, have come to a conclusion that it began almost one year ago. This discounts the black tee, jeans, and working boots phase I had prior to that.
Contrary to what I expected, the year passed by relatively quickly (much quicker than I’m comfortable with, frankly), and I haven’t thought much of my styling options until today, when I felt that my black Doc Martens could use a polish, but realised that my black Vans were too scruffy to stand in as a replacement.
I’d like to think that a handful of you would be interested in the life of a goth ninja, so I present to you, the things I’ve learned being colourless for a year.
Sole audience. Photo credit: Bujar Gashi
Have you ever watched a movie more than two hundred times? I have. The Matrix was released at a time when the internet had yet to bloom, where the best accompaniment to lunches and dinners were two-disced VCDs.
I can’t explain my intrigue. I had memorised the script by heart, but I was still mesmerised by the story of it all. Maybe it was the first time I ever questioned the meaning of consciousness. Perhaps I had an affinity to bullet-time. Maybe I just liked the wardrobe. One thing was for sure, I couldn’t get enough of The Matrix.
I remember signing up for that Writers Bureau course when I was still dressing hair for a living. I spent years fantasising about having my byline in magazines, the wonder of reading feature articles and hoping to do something similar one day.
I didn’t complete the course, but my dream remained. This morning I just realised how far I’ve come since then, and how I’ve actually realised my dream without even noticing.
This piece is particularly meaningful because I really loved my time on assignment and the writing process. The formatting’s a little off when compared to the hard copy though, so I’ll try putting up the PDF version soon.
Click here to read the story!