Saturday, October 08, 2016

Thank you Tho

Dear Tho,

Thank you for having me in Hanoi, and for taking care of me within the few hours that I stepped onto Hanoi. Thank you for introducing to me the wonders of Vietnam cuisines, welcoming some of the most amazing culinary experiences I've ever had into my life. Now I can't wait to experiment and try to make my own Vietnamese cuisines (they seem quite easy but who am I kidding!!).

Thank you for navigating me through some of the oldest alleys, into the beautiful colourful buzzing streets of Hanoi and for inviting me to have meals with you in the most awkward positions I've ever been in. Knee to knee, elbow to elbow on one of the smallest tool I've sat on with monoxide blowing to my face. Ah, life is very good :)

I have never lived enough, the least, till I did all of that. Thank you again. xxx 

Thank you for introducing me to each and every one of the dish we've explored together. You were so FUNNY, patient, kind and obviously knowledgeable about everything. For taking the time to explain the differences between each dish, the textures, the methods, to relate with me to some of the dishes back home, the type of ingredients, and for hilariously answering my silly questions about everything. About the food, Hanoi's history and so forth. I had so much laughs and learned so much from you.

Thank you for opening your heart and some parts of your life to me, about your turmoil past. From seeing your parents drift away, to being abducted to hunger strikes. My life is no where close to that much of a drama you've had to endure, and the way you looked at life... is so fascinating! As you take the time to inch day by day in your established career in a fascinating industry., I love how you look at life full of humour and reflection, and taking each and every phases of your life as episodes, ready for the next.

I love how you are taking a stand to take a different course in your life in the near future. What is it about being comfortable to change that is so .. admirable? Uprooting yourself especially, taking a different path in life sounds like an awesome way of living.. Is life too short for the same thing? I've talked about doing things like that, either I'm not as adventurous as I thought I am, or I just don't know how to, or where to start? Maybe both.

As I overlook the Hoan Kiem Lake from a roof top view on one of the oldest cafe in Hanoi with you with Jessy J's price tag as background with you singing to it. I registered into my heart; moments that are so beautiful, so foreign, but still so familiar reminding me of home wherever I am at moments like these. And to the friends I've met along my travels who have been so kind to me, almost strangers of a family, I can never put the price on your time and kindness.

To sum it all, thank you for your friendship. Please wait for my Hanoi posts!
See you again :)

Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Turning a year older // travelling alone

Man this journal is becoming a complete and wholesome travel journal day by day. And I'm not so sure about that.. Eventhough I did change the title to 'Travel with Me', I'm not sure I want to completely disconnect my honest thoughts away from this space and focus completely on my travels. (which are honest account of them also anyway) *emoticon thinking face*

Anyway, I turned a year older last week and in true Jacqkie fashion, I hopped onto the plane to go somewhere new, somewhere foreign, and made some new friends :) And yes, I flew to Hanoi, Vietnam for my birthday. By myself.

I didn't had the time to update everyone about it (except for mum, sister and bro) and a handful of girlfriends, plus the moment I arrived Hanoi, I was so overwhelmed by the traffic that after a day of out in the streets of Hanoi, I was so beat I can't even form proper updates on Insta...

I have decided that this trip is purely.. FOODCATION. 

Yup, you saw it right. As if I haven't had enough food in my life right? *pinches my chubby cheeks* NO. I LOVE FOOD. I LOVE GOOD FOOD. I LOVE GOOD FOOD WITH GOOD COMPANY. Life is too short for one type of food. Life is too short for the same food. And a good meal, delicious freshly made food is what gets me going!

Okay enough food and caps in one place.

So I did as I promised to myself. There was nothing else in my itinerary except for.. street food. And I mean, by STREET FOOD. Road side, by the pavements delicious street food. I didn't step into any one restaurant or "proper shop" at all, I was just grabbing things as I see from the street and from the street vendors with the help of my instinct, crowd indicator and with the advise and help from my lovely new Hanoi friends!

I roamed freely around the streets of Hanoi (like I always do), and felt the happiest and at ease at everything. I really feel at peace travelling alone these days. It wasn't always like that though I must admit. When I first travelled alone back in 2010, I FELT SO LONELY. Being in the airport terminal alone was still okay, because I can plug into music, finally feel that I could settle my mind at ease after crazy days at work. But upon reaching my destination, seeing interesting things and eating alone - WAH THAT WAS THE TOUGHEST. I mean, look at this beautiful painting? Who to tell? Can you feel this amazing material? Anyone else want to feel this material?? And this delicious food? Anyone wants to share with me? No one??? No one?? No one?!! Okay no one then...

(don't get me started about meeting people while travelling alone, that's a new discussion itself)

It started as boredom, to lonely, to accepting it, to embracing it, to enjoying it! 

^Hanoi beer with fermented fried pork at the Old Quarter

As I get older, as I slowly embrace solitary discoveries I begin to truly, genuinely enjoy travelling by myself. Waking up at any time I want, and being okay with missing all the tourist attractions, yes I travelled all the way to this part of the world to CHILL, so yes we missed a few places, is anyone gonna die? Or what about eating what I want? Do you know how tricky it is to be so diplomatic about eating together sometimes? What do you want to eat? Anything la. I'm okay one. You? Anything lah. (okay, maybe I will be forever alone T_T) Sleeping alone? How is that a problem again...?! You mean I get to starfish and roll around however I want to? *pun may-be intended* The point is, the beauty in being with yourself is limitless if only you choose to see it.

Back to Hanoi, I took the time to eye on things to eat and taste, and experience. With the exception of two afternoons where I spent the loveliest time with Har from HanoiKids roaming around the streets of Hanoi going through history and colours.


My point is: life has been great. It feels great to be older, not sure about wiser, but I have started to learn to think for myself first. This "another coming of age realisation" is refreshing I must say. I am learning to manage my self esteem, this is work in progress. Self esteem is a magical thing. You can look a million bucks but if you constantly feel the need of approval by people, then there's something amiss. You can have a million bucks, but if you constantly feel that things are not enough then you will always feel not enough. When will we ever feel enough? You can look like me (which is terrible in most days) but if you feel content good to go through the day, you would feel just as positive. As I get older, I begin to differentiate between what really matters to me, and what doesn't. I have no time for terrible people in my life. Now I surround myself with the love of my family, my handful of best friends, spending quality time to unwind and talking to God. Yeah, really, like just stare at my walls and speak to him/her about my worries and troubles. I really feel the weight take off from my shoulders when I do that.

Who exactly are we waiting to fix help us? But us? 

Last but not least, thank you everyone for your wishes and for your kind thoughts. I can feel them. I can truly feel them buzzing around me like the warmth of a hot chocolate does to you. I have made some pretty awesome friends throughout the year, and true real friends over the past few years :)

Okay gtg, ttyl back to living life!
More posts about Hanoi coming soon!

Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Ni hao Shanghai - pt 1

I must admit, I have never been so intimidated to visit any place in the world, much like I was intimidated to my recent visit.. to China.

And it was for just one reason; language. 

I don't think any of my 'Ke-yi', or 'Meh si', or 'okay mou' - which are mostly Cantonese anyway would help me go far. And I did a terrible mistake of not learning any of the basic Chinese prior because I was just.. too.. busy. Also, doesn't help that I'm going there with my friends who can all speak Mandarin, or understand Mandarin at the very least. So I kind of took it for granted.

And that part intimidated me a little bit knowing that I cannot lose sight of them.

But it turns out, every trip is different and I'm different in every trip.

I've gone to so many solo adventurous trips that I am so glad I stuck by them like a baby guppy, because it reminded how much laughs and loves they always give me like old times. And that traveling in group means you sign up for group activities, and is about togetherness; which my independent self is always so bad at.

I was supposed to be in the same flight together to Shanghai with Carmen, but her flight was delayed and she had to settle for the flight the next day. Which basically delays one day of her schedule.

I reached Shanghai really late, around 3am, together with CH's sister and family. And all I wanted to do was to SHOWER. I don't know how CH convinced us to stay in Intercontinental where he works, but he did.... so it was SO GOOD to reach to a comfy bed and a luxurious rain shower. Shanghai and KK has the same timezone, so there was not much jetlag.


I told Beh, yes, I woke up just before 11am in time for us to get our snacks before breakfast before meeting CH. Intercontinental Shanghai Pudong is located within some eateries and malls, so it was an easy walk around. And the weather, was perfect!

Supposedly summer, but with a chance of breeze :)

I would probably choose a restaurant with photos if I wasn't with the boys.

We were so hungry, but took CH's word that he would take us to dimsum for lunch, so we agreed to share on a bowl of dumpling only prior. MY GOD IT WAS SO GOOD T_T

And then the promised dim sum :)))))))

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Dining in Rome & Venice

If Elizabeth Gilbert had dedicated a chapter of her life to the pleasures and delight of dining in Italy, and Dean Martin so much so longingly professed that your eyes could go big as pizza pie as amore, synonym to finding one's mojo back in life, or being in love or better yet, better than love itself........

One can only imagine the passion, intensity and life the Italian meals can create in most of us, for them to profess their surrender to these delicious cuisines.

1. They love their sweet life 
If we haven't already known, the Italians are notorious for being the world's most romantic, most pleasurable people in the world. They love a good life, and love a good way of living life. And what better way to celebrate life than through food. Italians usually start their day with dolce which basically means 'sweet' or anything sweet. I don't really take sweet stuff in the morning.. but you know what they say, when in Rome.......

If they're not puffed in sugar, or baked till golden brown and filled to the brim with cream, then don't even. This pastry below has rich baileys filling, and there's only one time it's good to indulge it at: 9.00am of course.

2. When in doubt, gelato 
First, the flavours. Try having to decide from an array of at least 20 flavours from a gelato parlour and then having to stumble another option of 20 to 30 flavours right next door after finishing the painfully delicious Pistachio gelato, you just ever had in your life. Next door you see lime sorbet, Nutella cream, rum and raisin and a million more. How does anyone ever stop trying these flavours? How do you ever claim the previous' was the best you've had? You just can't.

If you feel the need to fill those walks with a munch or put some perspective back in your life, I think you're gonna have to gelato. And please don't blame me when after half a day's walk you probably had 2 or 3 just before your next lunch adventure, I did warn you - because really, how do you successfully pass by the walks  in the beautiful city without having one cone in your hand all the time?

Everyone will forgive you for having cream all over your face, so just go for it. Life is short.

Friday, August 19, 2016

2D/ 1N long overdue Kampung Tenom visit

My late dad was born and raised in Tenom. Minus his amazing background stories of him having to walk for hours to and from school, having to continue to work at the rubber estates after school, then to study in the dark just before sleep, then sponsored by the Government to continue his studies in economics in Canberra Australia, and then continued his lifelong journey of being the awesome man that he was - he will always be fondly remembered as the hilarious dad and charismatic politician that he was.

Coming back to basics to where he was from is not only so humbling, but so refreshing from the constant chase in the city. We wanted to see dad's side of the family to announce that my brother is finally getting married (Finally! Hopefully that'll keep mum lay low for a couple of years -_-) and that he's pursuing his studies in KL.

Sometimes, I feel so bad that my dad's side appear so little in my pictures due to distance. I work hard almost 7 days a week, up to late night at times. And even this visit to Tenom was arranged right after work for Jessy and me.

Life can be so messy when you're in the fast lane.

We reached Tenom about 5pm, and immediately checked into this hotel at downtown called Sri Perdana which didn't really fit all 4 of us as he promised, but good enough. Luckily, us three girls are so short we manage to squeeze on to the bed HAHA.

Dinner after church :)

The next morning we woke up early to catch Tenom's famous breakfast of pork and egg. I don't eat it....... Don't ask me why, but the whole family loves it so I'm happy :D

And then we went and catch the Sunday market. 

 ^I wanted to snap a photo of this uncle with the I LOVE PM cap hehehehe<3 cap.="" hehehehehe="" nbsp="" p="" pm="">

Tenom is located right at the heart of Sabah, is one of the access to Malaysia's most famous adventure activity - the Padas white water rafting, between the beautiful valleys of the Crocker range. So beautiful, you'll see valleys and green mountains everywhere in Tenom.

Amazing landscape. You don't get to do a roundabout over a landscape like that every other day.