Unusual Encounters (at least for me)


Living in Sabah, it’s very rare to see hitchhikers on the road. At least those ones that are portrayed in movies (you know, those people carrying a huge backpack over their shoulders, putting their thumbs up in the air when a car comes close hoping to get a free ride). I don’t know about others but for me, it’s not a common thing to see here.

So when I do see one, I get really excited. Don’t judge. I get really, really excited as if I’m meeting a celebrity.

Last Saturday, I saw a guy on the road. I thought he was some homeless man because he was pulling some stuff by a cart thing on the side of a busy road. I looked at this man, my friend who was driving was also expressing her confusion, and I saw the sign he was holding. It was a cardboard sign with the word ‘AIRPORT’ written on it with a black marker. In that split second, I looked at his face and he was beaming with his smile. He was practically skipping to a car that had stopped for him.

I don’t know why but it made me so happy.

I went home and told a friend of mine about the little encounter I just had. And she reminded me of another hitchhiker (or probably just a guy on the side of the road, but he was a white guy in an Asian country,  though) I met about two years ago.

I was on my way to my kampung when we drove past this man. I vaguely remember him looking like Chick from Bates Motel (a little more clean cut and a shorter beard). He wore a bunch of colourful clothes, I figured it must be the traditional clothes he’d acquired on his ongoing adventure. As we drove past him, his eyes met mine and I must’ve looked like a kid getting her birthday cake because he smiled at me, with his tired eyes.

And just like that, he made my day. For a whole week, I developed a crush on this unknown man I saw on the side of the road. That weird moment made me long for a life that I’ve never had.

I wish I had the chance to talk to these men and listen to their stories. Oh well. Wherever they are, I hope they’re safe and still having fun with their adventures.



Kota Belud Sabah Malaysia

I’ve never been fond of the sea; I was always scared, foolishly if I may say, of the vast ocean.

I cried on my first boat ride to an island. And my parents never bought me on a trip to an island ever again. Recently, I had a trip to an island with a couple of friends. I can’t say I had a good time.

But, I love admiring it from afar.

There’s always something mysterious and romantic about the sea. I could watch the waves crash the seashore for hours and be content.

“The sound of the waves remind me of home,” A friend of mine said a long time ago.

She was 2515 miles from her home. I looked at her while she listens as the waves laps at the shore. She had her eyes closed and a little smile.

I wonder what sounds of nature I might miss when I’m at another man’s homeland.

Red Memory Box

“Hey, remember when we joked about her having a military style wedding?”

I almost spat out my drink. Our laughter roared through the restaurant that was only occupied by us and a couple other groups. Each of us then chipped in with our own memories of the past. Our teenage years.

Then my friend said, “Remember that book we had?”

And oh boy do I remember.

It also made me realise I haven’t done my annual little routine.

I have this weird little habit. Every year, at no specific time or date, I’ll feel the urge to go through what I call, my memory box.

This year, it was the words from my friend that triggered the urge.

After our brunch, I went home and searched for it.

What is this memory box?

Well, it is what it is. A box full of memories. Or for some people (my mum), JUNK. At first glance, it would look like it. But alas, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. These scraps of paper and torn up books are all treasures to me. This box is where I put random stuff collected over the years I’ve lived; trinkets, journals and notebooks, old pictures, torn up notes, letters from 7 years ago, sketchbook and a book, a special book. The book my friend mentioned earlier.

Created over 9 years ago, it lies in the deepest of my memory box. This book is why I go through the box every year.

What was so special about this book?

Well, think of your diary from when you were a teenager just going through puberty. Now think of a diary where you shared it with 4 other of your best friends. Yup. The Ultimate Diary.

This ultimate diary will kill you with cringy and embarrassing teen stuff. We were young and full of dreams and we poured our heart and soul into this book. This book was somewhat a written proof of a promise to each other that we’d stick and grow a business together.

I remember telling my mother about this dream of ours and she smirked, clearly amused by our gullibleness. I defended myself and she said,

“I know you love your friends. But you’ll have lives of your own.”

And she was right.

I think the hardest truth any teenager could face is that as you grow up, you’ll see lesser familiar faces. You’ll walk the roads of adulthood independently. You’ll occasionally bump into those familiar faces but ultimately, you’re on your own.

I’m still close with my friends. But I know in a few years we’ll see less of each other. But it doesn’t mean we’re done. We’ll still be best friends forever. Just growing separately, like all relationship should.

There isn’t a time where I don’t laugh my ass off reading this book. Every page is like a memory capsule. As I flip through the pages, it’s almost as if I can hear the conversations that took place.

The life pro tip here is that don’t hesitate to take pictures or to keep notes from your friends or to make a journal entry and adding the smallest detail. Instead of taking good pictures, I took candid pictures of my friends. I kept most of my notebooks because sometimes my friends would scribble something on it and it’s those small moments that I would end up appreciating. After a big trip with family or friends, I always write down in my journal about the events, describing every detail I remember. It’s things like this that made me remember the past so vividly.

As Gretchen Rubin says in her book The Happiness Project, be a treasure house of happy memories.

Do you have your own memory box?

Wanna Know A Secret?

I’ve never really told anyone about this. But, I cheated in a poem competition years ago. (cue the thug life meme)

There’s a routine I do annually, where I go through my old stuff to try and rekindle old memories. I found some ‘letters to myself’ my teacher forced my class to do in 2012. I didn’t write any emotional, life-changing stuff in my letter, which I regret deeply. I could use some motivation from my past-self right now.

Diaries filled with embarrassing teen stuff and ugly drawings I made, it’s all still here, carefully placed in a box. I’m proud of myself for holding on to them. It keeps me grounded to my past.

But, there’s one thing that bothers me.

A poem I wrote in 2011 that won me second place in a competition.

It was English Week at our school. Our English teacher entered the class and made us write a poem for a competition.

Being the aspiring writer I was, it was a very exciting project for me. Unfortunately, writing creative things requires you to brainstorm a little more than just an hour.

Fiddling back and forth with words, I found myself singing The Beatles and Paul McCartney songs. Guess what I did? I actually slipped in little bits of lyrics from their songs into my poem.

The poem was 40% of song lyrics and 60% of my own words.

I finished it just in time to hand it in. Appropriately titled, A Day In The Life.

A few weeks later, I was announced as the second place winner. I won a RM20 voucher for bread and buns at our school canteen, which I shared with my friends.

What’s funny about it is the poem had no direction at all. First, I was talking about war, and then I was talking about not belonging anywhere, next it was love, and, in the end, I was talking about a place I long for.

How did I win? It’s still a mystery.

So, kids, don’t be afraid to bullshit your way through life. Doing so helped me through a lot. A LOT.

Happy Thursday, everyone.