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.


To Be Famous in Death.

Lux Narayan and I share the same weird habit of ‘liking’ to read the obituaries. Although I don’t read the newspaper that much. But when I do, I make sure to read the obituaries.  I mean, it’s why their families put it there right? For people to be informed of their beloved’s passing.

Anyway, Lux Narayan sought out to find what these obituaries have in common. He ended up examining two thousand of them. Watch the video to find out.

At the end of his TED Talk, he says:

If more people lived their lives trying to be famous in death, the world would be a much better place.

As cliche as it may sound, it is a true phrase.

When you die, you would want people to remember you were someone who was amazing or talented or kind. Nobody wants to dissed at when they die, even though they’re not alive to hear it.

Death is a real thing. You can’t resurrect yourself. When you die, you only leave one thing to the people who knew you. And that is memories of you.

Work hard to make those memories a sweet one.

One that would make the people who knew you cry and smile at the same time.



sonja-langford-314.jpg2 years old. Walked around the house. It was my sister’s birthday and we had neighbours and friends come over to celebrate. I walked over to my father who was sitting on a chair. He fed me with a spoonful of noodles.

4 years old. We were at the supermarket, shopping. I was touching a bunch of things and the next thing I remember was getting my hands yanked and getting scolded. “She touched it!” My sister screamed. On the drive home, I wanted to eat chocolate but was denied. When we got home my hands were washed with mud. When I was older, I was told I touched pork.

6 years old. My sister and I were playing near the small hill at our neighbourhood. Skates and scooters were the rage at the time. I watched as she went down the hill using the scooter so fast and drifted as she hit the brake. I tried it next. I almost face-planted to the gravel.

9 years old. I was at school. The teacher gave our math tests back. I got mine and my mark was lower than my friend’s. The teacher pulled my baby hair and scolded me about my bad marks. My friend laughed at me.

10 years old. My brother bought a new game. The Sims. My sister and I played it like a maniac. We were so obsessed with it. (We still do.)

12 years old. My class was performing in front of the school for the weekly assembly. We prepared for the choral speaking for weeks. There was one part we made fun of our teacher’s signature ‘Aiyoo’ when we don’t understand what she’s teaching us. The whole school laughed.

14 years old. My friends and I performed in front of the class for our teacher’s birthday. I realised the whole class had a WTF face when my friends and I were singing. My friends kept singing and I was miming. I was trying hard not to laugh.

15 years old. Class camping at my house in the ‘middle of nowhere’. We were eating barbequed sausages and chicken wings in the family room. Then we all watched a soap opera on the television. A friend of mine was listening to her radio in the kitchen.

17 years old. Just finished the major exam in every 17-year old’s life in my country. I went home and slept the shit out of myself. Wake up, eat, surfed the web, sleep. This went on for the next 6 months.

19 years old. My friend (also my roommate) and I were running to her car in the middle of the night to hide her portable stove. There was a rumour about a room inspection by the warden (we were not allowed to cook inside our dorm rooms). We went back to our room. I couldn’t sleep for the next hour because of the adrenaline from running.

2o years old. I just lost my cat. I was sitting in front of its lifeless body when my dad came home and saw me sitting on the floor, sobbing. He sat next to me as we said our goodbyes quietly to our cat.

21 years old. Got my first job. It sucked.

22 years old this year. I wonder what kind of memories I will make.

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?