I Read: The Strange Library

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One of the things I vowed to do this year was to read more books, as I found that the more I immersed myself into the corporate lifestyle of meetings and PR puff, I had less and less time to sit down and drown myself in a good book. I feel like I always have to be on the go because on the regular, I juggle way too many things on my plate than it allows me to carry.

Recently, I was lent “The Strange Library” by Haruki Murakami by a co-worker. I felt totally out of touch because I am such a Murakami fan, having read quite a number of his titles during my high school and college years (Norwegian Wood is definitely my top choice,) and I didn’t even know about this one, which is quite sad since it has been on shelves for three years now. (Or maybe I just wasn’t attentive enough, for I purchased a vintage cover remake of one of his old titles in Malaysia just a few months ago.)

Nevertheless, I seized the opportunity to have a go at the book. The cover and illustrations are extremely beautiful and detailed, definitely one of his best covers in terms of art and design. The book itself isn’t a burden to read – I finished it in under 30 minutes.

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I’m late to the 2016 is over party

I know, I know, it’s already the second week of January. Anything about the new year is basically stale at this point. If I wanted to write some long ass, lame ass ode to 2016, I should have done so with a perfectly curated Facebook post (so that more people see my sentiments, Instagram isn’t gonna cut it) along with a caption that is an hour long, saying how 2016 sucked/bombed/was the worst year of my life but I have gotten through and am ready for 2017 to come at me, with my finger hovering over the POST button, ready to click the moment the clock struck 12.

Well I was too busy drinking and watching “She’s the Man” with my sister to bother doing any of those things.

But aside from my obvious sarcasm, I do think it’s a healthy habit to look at the year that has gone by. There’s nothing wrong with a little bit of reflection: I just prefer to do mine away from the likes of nosy aunts and virtually unknown six degree acquaintances. (But I’m doing so in front of complete strangers who just happen to drop by after clicking a random tag or something, go figure.)

2016 wasn’t the most popular: she was probably the Regina George of years – everybody wanted to love her but in the end they straight up hated her guts. It wasn’t the best year for politics, music legends, Vine, Miss Colombia or even Facebook comments, and truth be told it wasn’t my best year either. But I’m not saying I’m one of those people who think it absolutely sucked; I think my 2016 turned out fairly well.

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Breaking up with cheese

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“Tall iced soy caramel macchiato, please,” I order at Starbucks while my sister rolls her eyes at me.

“You’re so bougie, you and your soymilk,” she tells me in her normal sarcastic tone. Don’t knock it till you try it, little girl, I think to myself as I let her have a sip. Lo and behold, I have made her a believer of my bougie ass drink.

Recently I’ve been putting in much effort to lessen my dairy intake, both for my health and some extant skin issues. Over the course of the last few months, I have had the worst breakouts of my life. It stressed me out so much; I have never had any skin woes as a pubescent teen, even during the high points in my life where I was constantly either partying or working and never had a decent amount of sleep. I don’t want to bore whoever reads this with my skin woes so after a hefty bout of internal crying, rampage and one too many WebMD searches, I decided to be an adult about it and went to see a professional to finally help me correct this bout of too-late-for-my-age-group acne.

Apparently my hormones decided to start fucking up at this point in my life like in a “you’re not getting any younger but let me make you feel like an insecure teenager” way. Not going to get into it much but *surprise, surprise*, the solution is part medication and part lifestyle change. (Wow, I am so enlightened.) With this comes this whole no dairy thing, which I think is the hardest part of it all. I LOVE dairy like, I drink coffee with milk almost every day, I love cheese and I LOVE yogurt. Like, I fucking love it. Give me yogurt with some granola on top for a meal and I will survive.

Now I find myself constantly asking places “is there dairy in this?” or passing up the butter when I get free bread at restaurants, or probably the worst, asking servers to “remove the cheese from the sandwich/pasta/whatever, thanks.” Let me tell you, the judgy face I got from the employee at Subway was not cute. Same girl, same; No cheese?! Sacre bleu!

The first few weeks felt miserable. It didn’t help that when I started, someone ordered a huge box of pizza and I was stuck eating the crusts with the least amount of cheese on it, which I had to shave off, so I just doused with hot sauce to make up for the lack of gooey goodness. But as the weeks passed, I kind of got the hang of it. Not to say that it’s going perfectly; ice cream is my WEAKNESS and when someone gives you a free KitKat McFlurry, you bet your ass I will get on that in a snap! This whole thing really has me wondering how vegans do this; there is so much good food in the world (made even better with a slice of cheese on top, or two or twelve) and I have to sit here and shave off the best parts.

This ordeal has me realizing two things: one, that I am in a high stage of superficialism because I’d rather get an expensive laser than eat for two days; and two, this whole thing has me serving up a platter of self-discipline. I give in to the occasional coffee with cow milk, but now I find myself kind of being meh at the taste of cheese (which in a million years I would have never thought.) I’m writing about this more as a self-reminder to check in after a while and finally say no to that McFlurry. Let’s see how this goes.

*Image from here.

How to be tourist AF in Taipei

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You know how Thought Catalog, Elite Daily or other inspirational quote-y sites glorify the millennial as some kind of “traveller”? The type that goes from place to place to “get lost” and “find oneself”, with just a backpack, a map and the will for wanderlust?

I am DEFINITELY NOT ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE.

I consider myself a 100 percent tourist. I am a sucker for hype anything, be it a trendy restaurant or places that get a 5-star rating on Yelp (or OpenRice, since we are in the realm of East Asia.) I go to everything recommended on Trip Advisor (yes, I am a dinosaur, I use Trip Advisor.) I love Googling the trendiest coffee shops and bars, and I go HAM on the shopping. And yes, I’m that annoying person that always has to check in a bag on the plane. I don’t know how to do trips “on a budget.” I am a bougie traveller and I’m not ashamed of it.

Going back to this trend of being a “traveller.” Usually, they like to do things that are off the beaten track, go opposite where the crowds flock and tend to activities that locals do. Sure, I like to do that too (especially where to eat and drink), but going somewhere for the first time gives you a license to be THAT shameless person who takes pics with every single thing: the buildings, the signs, even shots of crossing the city pedestrian lanes (come on, you know you’ve done it.)

So here is my no-frills guide on how to take on Taipei like a real tourist: (Warning – annoying tourist shots ahead)

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The Chinese wannabe girl’s trip to Taiwan: Part 1

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It’s no secret to people who are close to me that I lowkey love anything Chinese. I know they (they meaning Mainland people) get a lot of flack for being uncivilized, unpolished and rude, but I don’t know, I am just one of the maybe 1% of the population who overlook this.

I am just fascinated with how their culture works. And FYI, not only people from China are “Chinese”. To all you un-booky nerds, there are so many types of Chinese people in this world, and you can’t fit all of their quirks and intricacies in one box.

Recently, I went on a trip to Taiwan with one of my best friends. In line with my poorly written intro about my fascination with Chinese culture, I’ve always wanted to travel to Taipei. I admit, the first factor was reliving my undying Meteor Garden fan girl dreams. But apart from that, it’s to scratch my growing “Chinese AF” fascination, to put to good use my broken as hell Mandarin, and of course to get all that 餐饮 (food) in my belly.

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