I Talk About
- I Just Watched the Wham! Documentary
- I Worry I’ll Run Out of Stories
- When Was the First Time you Took a Flight?
- I Used To Have A Dream Job
- Something I Wrote on Medium. Hope you’ll read it there.
- Please Don’t Ask Me To Be Resilient
- Join Medium with my referral link – Shanti C K
- When I was diagnosed with cancer
- What a Trip to Siem Reap Taught Me
- Been Writing at Another Place but I’m still here too.
- My Niece Made Me So Happy Today
- Grateful for My Cousins
CopyrightUnless otherwise indicated, all photos featured on the blog were taken by me. All Rights Reserved Singapore Actually 2022
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One of my nieces read my blog for the first time today. It feels momentous to me so I have to make a record of it here. To protect her privacy, I’m not mentioning her name. (Although they both have the most divine names – yes I know, gushing aunt)
A few times before, her dad said I should let them read it. He was encouraging about it, and said it was okay. My little niece piped in that she could handle it.
I was worried initially, because I have written since 2011 about pretty heavy topics that touch on mental health conditions like anxiety and also grief. From 2016 I started talking about my cancer journey. It’s geared towards older people who have gone through life’s tribulations. And I wear my heart on my sleeve as I reveal my truth.
My nieces know that I can be quite overprotective. So they find it natural, my hesitation about them reading basically what is my online journal.
My cousin’s very open as a father and shares a lot with his children which I think is great for their development. He’s always truthful with them and wants them to be resilient. To him it was no issue.
Also the niece who wanted to read my blog is such a mature girl and handles everything like a pro. Her bravery is unmatched and often I feel quite ashamed at what a coward I am in comparison. She’s barely 11.
She came to me today and sweetly said she wanted to read my blog so I showed her the latest post, on my phone. She was reading intently and I have to admit I was very nervous. It felt like when you’re submitting your essay to your University professor.
I don’t edit my posts much so there may be grammatical errors. “On no, I thought. I should have put a lot more effort into editing”. I badly want to make my nieces proud and I value their opinion so much.
Children can often be wiser than adults, being unfettered by the constraints society puts on you.
Then my sweetie pie said “I like reading your blog”, before running off for her math lessons.
I was on cloud nine after.
No opinion matters more to me than from the ones I hold so dear.
I hope my other niece (my cutie pie) approves too. Crossing my fingers and waiting with bated breath.
When I see my nieces with their cousins, it makes my heart swell. I want them to be close all their lives, like they are right now, and have beautiful memories like I do.
My childhood was not easy due to external factors (abusive people outside my family who made my life hell and caused my mental health issues), but the best part of it was any time I had with my cousins. It was my haven and heaven and something I always looked forward to. They were my salve and kept me happy and sane. They enabled me to balance out the misery with pure joy. It was when I felt the safest.
I was truly on cloud nine when I was with them. (Just like I am now with my nieces. But in a different way because with my cousins I was a kid too. With my nieces, I am overprotective. Also overindulgent because who can say no to those angelic faces. It’s truly impossible. And I would do anything for them.)
I was always heartbroken when a birthday party for one of my cousins’ ended because it meant, with the rigours of the school schedule, the next time I see them might be weeks away. They probably had no clue how much I missed them. I tend to be very sentimental. Also most of them are much younger and may not remember like I do.
I even looked forward to religious events at the temple, because my grandma would ensure that my cousins attended. Most of the time though she didn’t bat an eye even though we were playing more than praying.
I admired my older cousins and adored my younger ones so much. The younger ones were like my first babies. I think it’s because of them that I’ve always loved babies. I think they have no idea how much I adore them and always will. The older ones were so loving and nurturing towards us. I truly had the best of both worlds.
I was born during the time of the ‘two is enough’ campaign, when the government was clamping down on population growth with fines and penalties. I was so grateful with all my first cousins combined I always was surrounded by so many kids. It was never lonely.
A new cousin being born was the most exciting thing. I loved how they would hold on to my finger so tightly when they were infants. It was such a thrill. But I was always so afraid I’d accidentally drop them, so I was extremely careful and gentle around them.
Just wanted to record my thoughts and feelings after a wonderful day with some of my first cousins and nieces. And first cousins are becoming such a rarity these days so they are extra precious.
And my two late cousins are always in my heart. They will never be forgotten and I feel so lucky to be related to them. They definitely shaped the better parts of who I am today.
Thought it would be good to learn some history at the museum. Many of the artefacts from Angkor are preserved here. There is a locker up front where you are required to place your handbag with the guard if it’s not tiny. Also tickets are required for the museum and cost US$36 for 3 people. They can be bought at the museum itself. There were some films shown within the museum to give you a greater insight into the history of the Khmer civilisation.
All in air-conditioned comfort which is always a welcome thing to a Singaporean used to air conditioning. Kinda ashamed to say but it’s true. We may live in a hot country like Christian the hotel manager said but essentially it’s 21 degrees as we move from airconditoned transport to malls. Otherwise with our humidity we would melt.
March in Siem Reap was pretty dry, hot and dusty and there was a bit of a smog. Most motocycles and tuk tuks run on diesel. Also after the war and being bombed by the US not many trees remain although the hotel makes an effort to be green and it’s lush within the hotel and around the nearby Angkor Wat forest. Also there has been much deforestation.
We were picked up at the airport and driven in air-conditioned comfort to the hotel. In the minivan we were given cold jasmine scented towels and reusable aluminium bottles of iced water. We were already feeling pampered. The driver’s voice was soft and pleasant. All the Khmer people have a serenity about them and it’s astounding considering the harsh period they have been through with the Khmer Rouge with most we spoke to mentioning that their parents had lost many siblings who were killed. The people were just so full of grace.
We were warmly welcomed by the team and charming Managing Director Christian. He wanted to make sure we didn’t get dehydrated due to the weather and urged us to drink a lot. In the days to come each time we sat at the lobby we were served with iced water. Christian did mentioned that many ladies succumbed to the weather and dehydration while exploring the Angkor temples in the heat and due to the fear of not finding toilet facilities out there they were afraid to drink too much. He actually had to accompany them to hospital. So it was serious. We survived though cos we are not the adventurous sort and more the like to lounge and be pampered sort.
Here at the seating area at the entrance (there is no usual lobby as such and it felt very homely). As the days went, we were always greeted with refreshingly cold beautifully scented jasmine towels. Even the lemongrass mosquito spray used on us smelled so good. We were really pampered the way the staff sprayed our arms and exposed legs and necks.
Beautiful Buddha and Khmer statues pink lotuses calmed our senses. These are found throughout the pretty boutique hotel.
My favourite pink area. Took my breath away. Just so serene and pretty. A great place for mirror wefies with the family.
Pink and yellow just go so well together. I just love how Christian influenced the design.
As we took the lift up across from the antique piano, and walked to our rooms past the tiny rooftop bar, we spotted the inviting blue of the pool.
The beauty of the hotel took my breath away. Somehow the photos can’t quite capture it. We instantly fell for the Jaya House River Park Hotel.
Our room and the very comfortable mattresses.
The invitingly unique silver mosaic infinity pool.
It was a bit of a bumpy landing, but of course always happy to land safe and sound.
Kinda cool to find we were on the tarmac and walked to the rustic looking airport that’s modern clean and spacious inside. The Cambodian airport staff were so warm and welcoming, greeting us with bows and clasped palms (prayer hands) which I found so lovely. We returned the greetings.
It didn’t seem to be mandatory to wear masks in the airport, but we had to on the Singapore Airlines flight.
The Indian vegetarian breakfast on the flight was actually very tasty and authentic. It was hard to resist finishing every bit even though I knew I wouldn’t feel too comfortable after. There was vadai uppuma and chutney. And a bhatura filled with lovely masala spiced potatoes.
After reading so much about this being the hot season it actually felt pleasant, but perhaps because it was still the morning. April is said to be the month to avoid due to extreme temperatures.
Always exciting to land in a new country for the first time. And especially considering that Cambodia is only a 2 hour flight away. Hard to imagine it took us this long to get here.
14 April 2022 at 6.44am. Haven’t risen to see the sky this beautiful since, but I hope to.
I pushed myself too much perhaps and now I’m down and needing to take a forced rest. Hope to get back to myself soon.
Miss being more active and visiting family.
I can be pretty hard on myself. I think I’m too lax, but that’s what my partner and mum tell me. I am trying desperately to regain my fitness. It gets harder as you’re aging and I suppose even harder after going through two bouts of chemo and radiation. It just fells you on a cellular level.
I’m able to wake up at 6am one day, but oversleep till 10am the next day. I can’t help but feel frustrated. This fatigue has plagued me long before I was diagnosed. Were the cancer cells just feeding off my energy?
On days I do force myself up early with many iPhone alarms, I’m sleep deprived and inadvertently have to pay back the sleep debt or I can’t function.
Boy do I miss my youth. I could just push myself and have zero fear that I could potentially hurt myself. The latest Tiktok filter called the teenage filter is making older people like me nostalgic and some even weepy as they wish they could have appreciated their younger selves more.
Well on that note I’m still relatively young so I’m going to appreciate the vitality I have right now and how I have bounced back from cancer treatment. I want to just keep going to reach as much of my potential as I can. I know I can do more and desire to do more.
I’m getting closer and closer to my father’s age, but he’ll never be any older than 61.
It’s weird that if I stood next to him now, to strangers, at the very most he would look like an older brother and we would most likely look even more alike. But to me he would just be my Papa no matter what.
It also makes me think that the real us, the essence of us is our souls and not this outward vessel. There is no age to that. If there is an afterlife, and I am hoping there is. Life feels tragic without one.
As a kid, 61 seemed ancient, but right now it’s actually too young, too soon to go.
People at 61 are fit and vibrant in the year 2023 due to improvements in diet and medical advancements.
I’m glad my Papa didn’t suffer through any long illness and that he never really experienced aging.
The only ones who suffer are those who loved him and have nowhere to place that love. Those who worry about him and have no idea where he is. Those who want to make sure he’s ok and care for him, but can’t. Those who wish he too could also partake in anything enjoyable that they get to do. Those who think life was better and would be better with him in it.
I’ve never been so fully engaged in a book. The last one was perhaps Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood.
The parts of the book touching on the fear and pain of losing a father made me cry. I can’t recall the last time I cried reading. The movie ‘Castaway’ made me sob uncontrollably, but no book I’ve read recently or that I can recall, has had that effect.
I was riveted throughout and loved that the story was told through the perspective of a child from age 5 to 8.
I was born the same year as the author, but I lived a charmed life in comparison to her unimaginable suffering. I am certain I would not have survived.
As a child of the 70’s I did hear the words Vietnam and War a lot on the radio that my dad always had turned on to BBC. But I had not much of a clue about war or about Cambodia. I was clueless about politics.
I now learn that there was a secret bombing carried out in Cambodia for years to eliminate the Viet Cong. The result of that was the emergence of the brutal Khmer Rouge and the extreme suffering and genocide of millions. I do also recall Anthony Bourdain’s anger over the bombing ordered by Henry Kissinger.
It makes me feel guilt for all the children that suffer. It is truly a miracle, how Loung Ung survived and is now a thriving activist.
I have newfound respect for Angelina Jolie as well for helping to bring this story to light with the movie she produced and which I am keen to watch yet. I’m lucky that it’s available on Netflix which my aunty gifted me.
I had never heard of plant based calamari before and did not expect it to taste so good and be as chewy as squid.
The ambience at Little Farms Bar and Grill at Serangoon Gardens is pretty nice especially after the rain.