The red lip

Today was supposed to be the start of a good week.

I had a wonderful dream that involved aromatic coffee and delicious pastry in the land of the rising sun, embarked on a new diet that makes up of fruits and vegetable. Not to mentioned, I’ve tucked my moodiness 6 feet under.

I was in the mood to be happy. I wore the red lip coupled with winged eyeliner. I thought some attention would do me good. It is after all the start of the week and I am in dire need for some motivation, or something silly to talk at the coffee table. Yes, topics concerning the red lip.

But apparently I didn’t dig deep enough to bury all my emotional turmoil and it was ignited with most insignificant and the silliest things that crossed my path. Yes, I was agitated (again) today.

Perhaps it was because I had to take the train to work today which I didn’t intend to but had to because the taxi which was queueing for passengers was a taxi driver that I couldn’t get along with.

Perhaps it was because my red lip got too much attention in the train that I felt I’ve been robbed off my freedom to express how I felt this particular morning. HAPPY, I was supposed to be happy. Until all the perverted stares came along.

Perhaps it was because I had to put up with people who get paid so much and yet does nothing to improve the situation that they are in but complaint complaint and more complaint.

Today is not a good day. My red lip has failed me.

A realisation

Hi, I’m back from Bangkok.

Thrilled? Not really. Hopeful? Yes, definitely.

As much as I love Bangkok city and wouldn’t mind taking a 2 hour flight on weekends to paint the town red with my boyfriend, I really hope he gets to come back to KL soon and finally put the work-permit-mumbo-jumbo to rest. The anxiety of an uncertainty that befell upon him on this career path is not amusing.

But I am pretty sure everything will turn out just fine, as how it’s supposed to be. I’ve no idea how can I get so calm and so optimistic. But I guess after 3 decades I’ve finally learn how to adapt to situations of uncertainties.

Long gone is that girl who grinds her teeth and fought with all her might for something that she thinks is right and believes with all her heart. How foolish she must have been, to see the world through a pigeon hole and disregard the entire universe that has make up certain reaction and outcome. To have been so selfish to her own projection of what is right and what is wrong, without considering the people around her.

I’ve gotten it all wrong. My so called passion has led me to become self-centred. Who am I to dismissed other people’s thoughts and ideas? I am but a tiny contribution to an intertwined series of events. After all, corporations are still making their millions and consumers are still throwing in their dollars.

With that realisation, its only fair to be channeling my passion and energy to things that is truly mine for self fulfilment. Like…my writing, my mexican cooking, my Spanish class and my relationship with my boyfriend.

This realisation feels good.

Everything is all good.

Ink on my skin

Ink on my skin.
Tells a story.

The permanence of the ink.
Is terrifying.
Becoming a part of me.
That I would have to live with.
‘Till the day I turn into ashes.
When I breathe my last breath.

Strangers passing through.
They won’t stop starring.
They asked.
In thoughts that were not verbalized.

Social stigma.
An Asian lady.
Jet black hair.
Piercing eyes.
Voluptuous lips.
And legs that goes on forever.
In those 4 inch heels.

Visible ink.
Mistaken for an emotional turmoil.
A turbulent mind.
A troubled past.
And future.

Ask me ‘Why’.
I shall say.
It is you.
That these ink existed.
On my very skin.

This is me.
Standing up against the world.
Against social stigma.
And people.
Like you.


This photo was taken today, while I was waiting for Sieg to pick me up from the train station to have lunch with her, her grandma and grand aunt

Sorry that I haven’t been updating my blog ever since I came back from Luang Prabang. [read here and here]

Truth is…I’ve been lazy.

And angry.

Lazy because I was just plain lazy after I came back from Laos. The 9-6 job and being on the duty roaster on the occasional off office hour was all that I could master with the sudden surge of lazy cells in my system.

Angry because I wasn’t writing. And that I’ve not been making much progress with the planning of my 1 year round the world trip.

Most of the time, I was angry because I was lazy.

Yeah. Shrug.

Books for the soul

The consolation is that I’ve been doing a lot of reading. Like…

– Yasmin How You Know by Orked binti Ahmad
– Life of Pi by Yann Martel
– Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel
– The God Father – By Mario Puzo
– Let’s meet on platform 8 – Carole Matthews

Life has become quite uninteresting lately.

Routine. Routine. Routine.

So I drag myself up at 6am on weekdays to have breakfast at this small little Chinese stall at the back alley opposite my office.

While I am not really fond of having breakfast outside of the comfort of my air-conditioned office. I find myself quite smitten by the company of unfamiliar faces who frequent the breakfast stall. Although I must say that all the gossip is starting to feel like an assault to my ear.

Breakfast worth waking up for at 6am

So yeah.

That’s life. For me. For now.

When I was a kid: Age 0-12 years old

Ice lolly

I started wearing bikini till I was 2 years old. I loved my bikini, it was handmade by my mother.

I dug out my boogers and stuck it on the wall because I was too lazy to wash my hands. I often got punished after that by my mother.

I made kites with newspaper, penyapu lidi, and my mom’s sewing thread. Very often, it couldn’t fly.

I gathered all the dried leaves and plunged myself and roll around on top of the pile of leaves.

I went into the bushes to gather fighting spiders.

I had a lot of kutus and I loved to catch ‘em and crushed them to death.

I wanted to grow up as soon as I can so that I don’t have to go to bed at 9pm.

I fell in love with boy in my kindergarden class. I was too scared to ask him his name. Then my family moved to another town and I still think about him sometimes.

My favorite dream to wake up to is to have a bed load of story books and coloring book esp. the ones from My Little Pony and Strawberry Shortcake.

I stole coins from my dad’s car. Sometimes I stole RM1 notes from his wallet. And I never got caught. Which explains why I still do it today, sometimes, when I am bored.

I found a briefcase underneath my mom’s dressing table, which belonged to my dad. I managed to crack the code and found porn magazines inside. And yes I flipped the mag.

I recorded events in my journal whenever my mother punish me. I wrote a lot of hurtful stuff like how I hated my parents and my brother and that I want to run away from home.

I used to sit on alas kaki and pretended that it was a magic carpet. Sigh…I wanted to run away from home soooo bad.

I had a doggie called Princess. It was a very hyperactive little puppy. One day, it ran out of the house to the street and was it by a car. Her front paw was crushed. That was when I decided to become a vet like my dad.

I had hand-me-downs clothes from my cousins. And I always look forward clothes from my cousin Cynthia and Lisa because they had the nicest clothes.

A part from clothes, I also had a lot of hand-me-downs storybooks. Which explains why I love books so much because I started reading from a very young age.

I liked to look at myself in the mirror and admire my long jet black hair. I wanted to have my own hair salon so that I can look pretty every day.

I could cross the street unsupervised. I used to walk 10 mins to my best friends house to play after school. In the 80s, parents let their children roam freely.

I played basketball in primary school, and that was the only sports that I excelled in. I wanted to become a basketball player.

I used to collect the palm berries from school, cracked them up and ate ’em.

I saved all my pocket money so that I can play tikam after school.

Ice lolly was my favorite ice cream. It was only RM0.10 then. And my friends and I would buy them after school, on our way home

Ice lolly
Ice lolly

Photo credit:

I didn’t dare to go to the toilet alone because there were rumors that it was haunted by Japanese souls who were killed in World War 2.

I used to have competition with my friends on who can jump over the huge drainage (longkang). And no, I never once fell into the longkang.

My favorite festival was the Chinese Ghost Festival because I can roam the streets with my brother and my cousins till after midnight at my grandma’s house.

I had many ghostly encounters. I’ve seen a ghost and was haunted by it when I was 7 years old. Very often woke up to ghostly cries after midnight, most likely around 2 in the morning. Then when my family moved to Batu Pahat, I encountered ghostly encounter again in a double storey house we rented. It felt like there was something there in the house especially on the 2nd floor. I was so glad we moved out from that house.

I hated it when my dad went deep see fishing, I often had trouble sleeping and I would pray and pray for him to return safely. With a lot of fishes of course.

Whenever I was sick, my dad would bring me to uncle Yeo’s clinic. Uncle Yeoh is my dad’s bff . He’s nice and I liked him. And I wanted to be a doctor when I grow up.

Where you’d like to be in 10 years

Electric blue flats

Karen, 10 years old. ‘In 10 years time I will be in University, I don’t know what I want to study yet. Maybe something to do with medicine and animals. Because I want to be a vet, just like my dad.’

Karen, in her 20s. ‘In 10 years time, I will be somebody important in the corporate world. I will earn a lot of money; like my cousin who is the  Apac Sales Director for Fortune Magazine. I will be jet setting around the world, making important decision, and be able to afford flight tickets for my parents to travel wherever they fancy.

Karen, in her 30s. ‘In 10 years time….I will be freaking 45 years old! OMGF!’

Seriously, this is not funny. At all.

Fact is, I have not put much thought into where I’d be in my 40s.

You see, when I was younger, I dared to dream. I believed that I can be whoever I wanted to be and I made sure I worked the extra hours, went to extra mile to achieve what I’ve planned for myself.

But as I grow older into my 30s, I started to re-evaluate what is it that I really want as a unique human being in order to lead a happy and fulfilling life. Instead of what my parents, my relatives, my friends and society expect of me.

So no, I don’t know (yet) what I’ll be or where I’ll be in 10 years time. What I do know is that:

– I don’t want to be stuck in a 9-6 job.

– I no longer want to be someone important in the corporate world.

– Earning a lot of money is not my priority anymore but I do want financial freedom.

– I want to be in the creative line. Maybe writing, maybe photography.

– I don’t want to be happily single. Happily married seems like a goal.

– I want to be involved in voluntary work. On a global scale.

– I want to be traveling around the world, maybe reside in another country, like Cambodia.

At least, that’s a start.

What about you?

Current Relationship Status: Happily Single

Happily Single
Happily Single
Happily Single

Why are you still single? I get asked this question a lot by cab drivers (yes, they are a nosy bunch), the Indian uncle at the mamak store (which I frequent on Sundays for Tosai), my parents and of cause married friends who are so fixated with the notion that the sole purpose of a woman is to get married and have kids.

It’s not that I don’t like men. It’s just that I’ve not came across a man who could make my heart skip a beat; a man that I am so crazy in love with that I would want to go to bed with every night and wake up to every morning for the next 30 years (or so).

And so I thought to myself…why settle for someone who is not ‘the one’?

I have friends who has never had ‘single’ written next to their relationship status. Jumping from one relationship to another, rebound after rebound just because they are so afraid of being alone single.

Having lunch/dinner alone is kinda sad.
Nobody watches movies alone in the cinema.
I feel so crippled because I am so used to be chauffeured around.
Who’s going to pay for my meals?
I am bored and I am so lonely.
Nobody love me.

Whether you admit it or not, at least one of the above flashes through your mind when you had your relationship status changed from ‘In relationship’ to ‘Its complicated’ to ‘Single’. But today, I am going to tell you today that being single is SUPER.

– Not having to tolerate anyone’s annoying habits.
– Leaving dirty clothes on the bed and sofa
– Walking into the apartment with the shoes on
– Leaving cups and glasses unattended
– Scratching their private parts in public
– Loud snoring
– Picking nose in public
– Burping in public
– Farting and not caring where they are
– Smelly feet propped up on the coffee table or sofa
– Not putting up the seat and getting piss on the seat

Being single means you don’t have to deal with all the above anymore! Now isn’t that awesome?

You don’t have to have sex when you don’t feel like it. Let’s face it. Men simply loves sex. And while there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it, we women sometimes just wants to cuddle.

Unlike men, women doesn’t think about sex every single minute. Unlike men, women doesn’t need to have sex every day. Being single, You don’t have to find excuses and faking orgasm when you dont feel like having sex.

You get to pursue anything that you are interested in. Being single allows you to discover your true passion. While you are in a relationship, you spend time with your man at any given opportunity. Which leaves you very little time to learn another language, go for baking class, sewing class, drawing class etc. You get my drift.

When you are single, the world becomes your playground. You get to decide what games to play and which playmates to hang out with.

You get to travel. When you are single, you have the advantage of going on an impromptu weekend getaway. A shopping spree in Bangkok over the weekend, a short flight to Penang for Char Kuey Tiao, or even plan for a year long backpacking trip around the world!

You get to enjoy the freedom of being. Watching your favorite cartoon on Cartoon Network at any time of the day, walking around the house naked, eating Coco Crunch for breakfast, lunch and dinner just because you feel like it.

You’ll get to know yourself better. Being single allows you to have more time with yourself thus helping you discover who you truly are as a unique human being. Your likes and dislike, what makes you tick, your dreams and goals in life.

Lets face it, when we are in a relationship, we spend an average of 8 hours at work, 8 hours sleeping 2 hours stuck in the jam and the remaining hours with the other-half. And on weekend, we woud probably spend the entire Saturday and Sunday with the other-half as well.

When do you then find the time to get to know yourself better?

Decide what you want in a partner. Being single lets you evaluate the kind of person you want to have as a long term partner. By spending more time alone and being single, you would be able to focus on YOU. Your dreams, your desire, your aspiration which is going to help you decide the kinda person who is going to complement you and help you achieve your goals.

So chin up! It’s not that bad being single after all 🙂

Saya anak Malaysia

Born in the 1970s, in a small little town called Batu Pahat, Johor. My fondest childhood memories were with my playmates with tanned skin and big brown eyes at the government quarters. unlike my lifeless skin tone, uninteresting monolids and flat Chinese nose.

Festive season were always a grand affair. Back then, it didn’t matter whether its Chinese New Year, Hari Raya or Deepavali, it is a celebration for all and most importantly a reason for us to wear nice clothes, drink carbonated drinks, and stuff ourselves silly with delicious ‘Kueh bang kek‘, ‘pineapple tarts‘, ‘muruku‘ and ‘kueh Loyang‘.

I liked my Malay and Indian playmates although they looked, talked and smelled different. It didn’t matter because we always had so much fun in the playground. We played gasing, we rolled on a pile of dried leaves that we have gathered, we caught spiders in the bushes and put ’em in match boxes as pets.

In the 80s, there weren’t that many choices when it comes to entertainment. The family TV was in black and white, and we only had RTM1, RTM2 and subsequently TV3 in the 80s. P.Ramlee’s movies like Bujang Lapuk, Ibu Mertua Ku, and Tiga Abdul were my source of entertainment in the earlier 80s. Then local rock star like Amy Search and Ella (Queen of Rock) became my addiction in the early 90s.

Amy Search – Saat Kuidamkan

I’ve always been proud of being a Malaysian. Albeit the distinct differences in culture, we respected each other and we relish in the differences that made us uniquely Malaysian. You see, we don’t need 1Malaysia to remind us on racial unity. Isn’t it ironic that after 55 years of independence, we are now being introduced with the 1Malaysia concept that claimed to emphasise on ethnic harmony, national unity and efficient governance?

I love my country but the fact of the matter is, I am also Chinese and I wouldn’t want to lose touch with my roots that contributes to the uniqueness of Malaysia. Nor do I want my Malay and Indian brothers and sisters to lose their unique cultural identity with the adoption of a national culture that derived from 1Malaysia.

During the recent TEDxKL, I was moved by Jo Kukathas‘s presentation on ‘Joining the dot’ and can’t help but agree with her that we have lost so many things along the years… our heritage, our sights and our culture, all in the name of ‘Nationalism’.

Where do we draw the line?


The Chinese shrine of Na Tuk Kong at every corner of the road or under every scary looking tree

Hey ma, thanks for being my ma

my ma
my ma
my ma in her 20s

While everyone is flooding the twitter timeline with Mother’s Day shoutouts to their mom (do their mom even read tweets?) I on the other hand, sms-ed my ma and wished her Happy Mother’s Day. No shout outs on my social channels, no fancy restaurants, just a SMS to wish her Happy Mothers Day. Which was already enough to make her day (according to pa)

When I was growing up, I often envy friends who had good relationship with their mom. Me on the other hand, can’t even look at my ma when I talked to her. There were too much anger, too much pain and most of the time I just didn’t know how to have a conversation with my ma.

Like my ma, I get angry easily and I had a bad temper which I didn’t know how to control. I remembered when I was 7, she used to poke needles on my cheek as punishment when I dirtied the wall and said that she would strangle me to death at birth if she’d known I would be so difficult to deal with.

Yes, I did not get a lot of love and hugs when I was a kid. Not from my ma, not from my ma’s side of the family either. But instead of channeling my anger towards myself and the people around me, I channeled it towards understanding my purpose in life. I remembered one of the questions I had was, ‘if I am not worthy of love, then what is the purpose of my being?’ Yes, while other kids my age was getting pampered, playing at the playground with their playmates. I was there at a corner, writing in my journal, immersed in my make-believe world through my storybooks where happiness lies. And everyone thought I was a weirdo.

There is a reason why my ma is my ma and a reason why I am my ma’s daughter in this lifetime. A mother and daughter relationship is not coincidental and its not always a bed of roses. In my case with my ma, it’s always a work in progress, up till today.

Throughout the years, I’ve seen my ma grown from a feisty, hot tempered woman to someone more reasonable, patient and more capable of a little give and take.

My relationship with my ma and taught me to be more forgiving, the ability to see things from various point of view and most importantly, to understand the concept of freewill. Yes, I have a choice to be angry at my ma, blame her and everyone else for ruining my childhood and grow up being the opposite of who I am today. Instead, at 15, I choose to forgive her and myself. For she only knows how best to be a mom for the first time and I only knew how best to be a daughter in this lifetime.

So today, on Mother’s Day, I want to say ‘Thanks’ to the Universe. For the master plan and my ma as my ma. And if I had the chance to choose a mother in this lifetime, I would still choose my ma.

Letter to the 40 year old me

me at 35


After writing a letter to the 3 year old me, I thought its only right to write a letter to the future me – when we are in our 40s.

I don’t mean to give you a to-do-list of what I want when we are 40. But I do think it’s important that I remind us of what’s important to ensure that we never ever lose faith for all that we believe in and all the good that we want to achieve in life.

At 40, I hope that you have taken 1 year off to travel the world. If not, then you’re probably slogging on a 9-5 job that you don’t really enjoy doing. Your self esteem might be wearing thin because you never got to fulfill what we set ourselves to accomplish. If that’s the case, (assuming you have at least a 5 figure(in USD) in your savings account) then you should drop whatever you are doing, quit your job and hop on to the plane and head over to India. It might be daunting at first, but trust me, just do it. The universe will take care of everything. Have faith. Remember when you were 35, we have already started making plans for this big day to come.

At 40, if you have fulfilled the 1 year around the world trip, then good for us! Thank you for making our dreams come true 🙂 And here’s what I hope we would achieve and become in our 40s.

me at 35
me at 35

When we are in our 40s, mom and dad would be in their 70s. I am pretty sure that they would still be around. And I hope that you are spending more time with them. If you still don’t have a car, for Christ sake, get one! So that we can visit them whenever we feel like it.

I hope that in our 40s, we’ll finally find our soul mate. It’s ok if he has not appear. Just promise me that you will not settle for just any men. Find a man whom you love dearly, a man who worship you and think the world of you. A man who shares the same dream and aspiration as you do. If he doesn’t appear, that’s fine too. Just make sure you have lots of money in your bank account, hop on a plane and head over to Italy.

I want us to be able to live comfortably when we are in our 40s. I want to have sustainable income not from 9-5 jobs, but from projects that we are really passionate about and that would give us steady stream of income. Something to do with writing perhaps. So I promise me that I will start now and I will work very hard to achieve that goal. You just make sure that you don’t splurge all the money on ridiculously expensive designer shoes/bags/clothing that we don’t need.

At our 40s, if we still have the means to put on the 4 inch heels and mini skirts, by all means just wear it. Don’t let age define what we should or should not wear. Wear whatever that makes us happy, with class and style 🙂 And in order to still look fabulous in our 40s, I promise me that I am going to exercise with at least 3 hour of Callanetics a week.

We have such a big heart and there is always a part of us that wants to give our all unconditionally to the world. I hope by 40, we will feel complete – spiritually, mentally and physically. And thus enable us to give back to the world in any way possible.

I love you Karen, in our 40s, no matter how we have become. Remember that life is all about learning and un-learning experiences. Have faith, be brave. That’s all we need to have.

Letter to the 3 year old me

3 year old Karen

Dear 3 year old me, Happy birthday!

3 year old Karen

You are 3 now! And this is me (you), at 35. I want you to know that at this point in time, we turned out fine. We are very much loved, contented, and happy with what we have and what we have become. We are still very much single (but not lonely) and we can now afford as many books, color pencils, accessories and beautiful dresses as we want 🙂

At 6, you will be in kindergarten. You will notice a cute little boy who can’t stop stealing glances of you. Be brave, go on and ask him his name if you like. Don’t over analyze, have fun with life. At that time, dad would be 36 and he would pick you up from kindergarden with his motobike. Don’t be afraid of the weird looking bike, just enjoy every moment of the ride and remember to hold on to dad with dear life 🙂

At 7, we’ll move to a new town call Labis. You’ll love it there at the government quarters because it has a huge compound for you, our brother and our puppy to run around. Yes, a puppy and we named her Princes. A couple of years after that, you will have several ghostly encounter at school and in the house that we live in. Don’t be afraid, it’s a phase that you must go through, know that there is nothing you can do to make it go away. Be brave.

At 10, mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. It’s going to be tough for you…most of the time you just didn’t know how to react. Because at 10, we were often misunderstood due to our individuality and sensitivity. But don’t worry, mom had the operation and is still here with me at 35.

At 12, we moved to another town call Batu Pahat. That’s where we were born. So were mom, dad and our brother. It’s also a town where most of our relatives are. You’re going to hate the all-girls school and funnily enough it was also the first time that we had a crush on a girl. Yeah…so thank God we’ve gotten into a co-ed school in high school. Else I am not quite sure if we are going to end up being gay or straight.

At 15-18, this will be a very tough period in your life. You will have a lot of difficult moments with mom and dad. Being a first time parent to a teenage girl is tough enough. Be kinder to them and understand that they brought us up the best way they knew how. During our teenage years, you’ll get to know a girl whom would be your best friend and your pillar of strength for many years to come.

At 18, you will meet Allan. Your first love, probably the one and only man whom you want to marry at that time. He will sweep you off your feet, buy you presents and make you feel like a queen. He is also going to break your heart and cause you lotsa pain and tension with mom and dad. And he is going to try to come back into your life again and again. The hurt will be painful and you are going to wonder how stupid can you be. Dont…move on, forgive him and let him be a bygone.

At 23, you will leave home for college and you will be on cloud nine for the freedom you will get. Go easy on partying and all the booze. And oh, don’t just memorize all the text book, try to understand and make some sense out of it.

At this time, At 25, you got your first job as a junior programmer. You are going to feel miserable, renting a room with a bunch of strangers, with no friends to hang out with on weekend. At work, your manager is gonna be a dick because you are a fresh graduate out of college with no working experience. You will quit within a month and you will feel like a failure. Well don’t. Because less than 1 year after that, you will know that you made the right choice to quit. That chapter will make you more determined for success and all the wonderful opportunity in years to come. You’ll move back to KL within a year to start over, you’ll love your job and have lots of great friends from work.

At 26, you’ll get to know Maga, a wonderful guy from Ingushetia whom I think might be our soul mate. You’ll have a lot of good memories with Maga…treasure every moment spent with him, forgive him if he can’t spend as much time as you would like him to, tell him often that you love him because 4 years after that, you will lose him to a car accident…If you can, keep all the photos you have together, don’t throw them away just because you are angry.

In your late 20s, you’ll be more in touch with your spirituality. You’ll start pondering the purpose of life and your existence. You’ll finally understand the concept of God. And you’ll realize that God is around you and within you. And that is enough.

At 32 till 34, we’ll have a wonderful time working with the World’s Best Low Cost airline. We’ll get to fulfill our dream of traveling the world. But those are also one of the most difficult period of our life as well. Simply because we’ll have to work with a manipulative and delusional bitch and get caught up in whirlwind of office politic. At times you will feel that you don’t know who to trust, you’ll feel miserable because you would want to do the right thing all the time. But don’t worry because you’ll have a lots of friends (and a great team) at work who will give you all the support that you need. And no matter what, everything will turn out fine…don’t look back when you leave at 34. Close the chapter and forgive those who has caused you much misery and endless sleepless nights.

And now, here I am. At 35. Typing this blog post on our Mac Book Air, which is the coolest machine even made by Steve Job.

I love you Karen, no matter how you turned out to be. And I’ll talk to you again when you are 35 and me 67.