NON FICTION: Supping In Sapa

Stu in a bath bucket

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.

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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.

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NON FICTION: Remembering Who You Once Were

Guy thinking

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.

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NON FICTION: Want To Be A Writer In Malaysia? Here Are 10 Things You Should Know

So you want to be a writer in Malaysia

Writer In Malaysia: Girl behind blinds

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.

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NON FICTION: Things I Learned Wearing The Same Clothes (Almost) For A Year

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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.

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NON FICTION: Simon Says

Single Person Art.JPG

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.

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UPDATES: My Myanmar Biking Story

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!