It’s a wrap: See Ya 2017, Hello 2018

Bam. There goes 365 unseemingly uneventful days. Like everything, there were definite lows and some high points. But it’s through these experiences whether good or bad that enable us to grow and add to the memories to which we hold dear. So here’s my defining/most memorable moments;


Chocolate somehow tastes better when it’s free and with good company. My first time exploring M&M world in London

    • Reconnecting with friends. In 2016, I quit Facebook for my own mental health and subsequently a lot of friends and brief aquaintances – an essential clean break. However, unplugging made me realise that there were also good friends that I had suddenly ghosted for months who were left hurt and confused.

    • I saw All Time Low and Ed Sheeran live! Throughout my adolescent years, punk rock had been my fallback and release for that bubble of teen angst. Seeing ALT was almost as if I turned 15 again and a reminder of how I’ve matured since then.



  • Exploring new and old places. I went back to Hong Kong then visited Macau for the first time with my family. There, we saw close friends and family whom my parents have not seen for many years. Some of whom passed away later on this year. But truthfully, I’m grateful that we managed to see them before it was too late – happy and healthy for the most part.


  • I was hospitalised briefly for the first time. I had surgery in November and while it was overall a safe procedure, the worst thing was having my parents worried. The evening prior to surgery, the staff made sure I had enough to eat and that I had enough fluids. The patient across my bed kindly introduced herself and explained that after her fourth admission this month hopefully she’ll be able to return home for good. I soon began to recognise the helplessness of the older patients in my ward, bedbound and reliant on a nurse to set up a bedpan. I saw the resilence of the hospital staff despite pressure and several accounts of abuse from patients (from my perspective anyway).


  • Getting fitter and healthier. I signed up for a one week military bootcamp and it was not short from hell. I was physically and mentally battered. My hands blazed with blisters from carrying heavy ladened stretchers. Every morning began with a 7AM, five kilometer run – and that was the easy part. My saving grace were the other ladies on the camp. Each one had their own weightloss journey with the same end goals which united us as a team and fight for what we wanted. Afterall we were “only one workout away from the next meal”.

    My New Year Resolutions

  • Keep up my fitness levels – Go running or cycling for at least 2 hours a week.
  • Read more – 30 minutes of reading every evening
  • Be more sociable – reply to messages by the next day
  • Be humble – recognise my own bias and listen to hear what others have to stay rather than respond.

30 Questions Challenge: Death

3. How would you live your life if you had a week to live? How would you live your life if you had 5 years left to live? How would you live your life if you were going to live forever?

If I was immortal like most people I would enjoy myself. I’ll act more on impulses and go travelling to see the wonders of the world. There’ll be a point where this eventually becomes wearisome and I’ll outgrow my shallow self. I’ll try to improve myself through fitness and study. But there’ll always be an impending gloom on the horizon. A inevitable sadness that grows wider the longer I live and as the people I care for face the turmoils of life – sickness, old age and death.

My uncle passed away on Christmas eve. While we were not close, I knew that he cared for my mother as an older brother dearly looks over his little sister. There’s a crippling pain and grief that I know will never truly disappear. But I can only hope it will ease with time.

NCS or that time someone left me in charge of a lot of kids

Fifteen to seventeen year old teenagers to be exact.  That awkward mid-way point between not quite entering adulthood, and being almost too cool to listen to what you have to say.

For the past month, I’ve been busy working as a team leader/mentor for the National Citizen Service. While it sounds like a government ordered, mass conscription of young people throughout the UK.  Actually, it does have a worrying resemblance.. but rest assured! NCS is a 4 week voluntary summer scheme, filled with amazing activities, a chance to meet so many new people and an opportunity to work together to design your own social action project. The end goal of this national programme is to build up the soft skills of today’s youth, encourage self sufficiency and wider social mixing with the local community.

So how does it work? Well, it’s split into 5 phases. Beginning with two away-from-home residential trips. For my wave of 80 students, we had 5 sub groups each led by two team leaders. Our first stop was the sandy town of Ryde on the Isle of Wight. The activity centre was situated a good 45minutes drive away, just conveniently far out enough where phone reception was poor and mobile data service was non-existent. Just brilliant. I’ve had days where I’ve spent more time staring at screens than seeing people. The horror on everyone’s faces at this discovery was unforgettable. Did I mention that this was an island in the middle of nowhere? Escape was not on the cards.

Temporary shelter

Our accommodation….kidding. Temporary shelter building.

Phase 1 and 2: Induction and Team building. Four days and three nights away

The first residential was action packed at an adventure centre from; rock climbing, volleyball and water polo to learning basic survival skills like building a fire, emergency shelters and bush craft. Participants are pushed to their limits. NCS throws you into the deep end but it’s remarkable how quickly the teams, young people bond and support each other over the course. Watching the growing self confidence from the initially shyest of participants – who usually end up being the loudest – is definitely a proud leader moment.

3G Swing

My co leader and I setting shining examples as fearless NCS leaders for our kids.

The most popular challenge was the “3G” swing where two harnessed participants are hoisted up 45ft in the air by their team. With a tug of the ripcord, the pair are dropped. Plunged into nothing but the soul destorying swinging exhilaration of three times the gravitational force. Over and over again.

Until the swing and your heart eventually grounds to a stop.

Just kidding.

It’s pretty fun though! But a literal pain in the ass once you get off since your entire body weight rests on that single safety harness tightly and unflattering wrapped around your lower body for the entire ride. Picture a stuffed pork loin firmly bounded by a piece of string heading into the oven for roasting. We were a beautiful sight. Demonstrations of the crab walk after the ride were not uncommon. The rest of the team were in absolute stitches.

Phase 3: Four days and three nights living at a university halls of residence




Nah I was just glad to have a room all to myself. At the previous residential, somehow, I ended up awkwardly sharing a room with my Wave supervisor, who kept on eating all my free apples that I thriftily stowed away from lunch. Curses. She thought it was room service but I prefer the term, “The Apple Fairy”.

Moving swiftly on, Phase 2 was a taster of university student life. Workshops and talks were given by local charities and individuals in the day to try prompt the participants into addressing the social problems that exist within their communities. All in prep for their own social action project.

Kent University flat

Flat kitchen at Kent University. Image taken from

Teams were placed into flats. And a twist to the challenge was having the groups set their own rota for cooking dinner for 15 people (the entire team). For most, this was a massive learning curve. And cooking is dangerous. There’s fire and very sharp knives. On the first night, I watched apprehensively as a baffled 15 year old boy struggle to turn on the gas stove – don’t worry he figured it out after 10 minutes and he still had four good fingers and half an eyebrow left.

Phase 4 and 5: The Social Action Project

Some things are easier said through pictures than words! The team were inspired by American artist Candy Chang’s “Before I die..” project and set their hearts on recreating the same chalkboard walls in their local park.

plywood boards

6ft by 3 ft boards: Before

After raising enough funds from a community litter pick, the team bought plywood boards ready for painting and stenciling.


Chalkboards: After

“I wish” chalk board

Blogging 101: Who am I and why I blog

I am an immensely shy person. No kidding.

I also moult like a cat when I’m in serious need of a haircut. That was probably too much information. But I promise you this grotesque over sharing is completely relevant.

Growing up, I would wait until my older sister would get a haircut just so I could avoid going alone to the hairdressers. Talk about first world problems but that’s how socially inept I was. The idea of making awkward small talk filled me with complete and utter dread.  Yet having endured years of my Asian mother’s “wok” style hairchop and the disastrous experiences of my hereditary scissor happy mentality – to get a haircut at home was not an option.

However, after months of looking like the Grudge when my sister left for university, I finally plucked up the courage to get a haircut alone. But this time I was mentally prepped and ready. Like any rational 13 year old, I wrote a list. A series of careful thought up questions that could keep my hairdresser talking nonstop for a good 45 minutes – the entire duration of one haircut. This way I wouldn’t have to keep up the conversation by actually talking. In my head my hairdresser was the interviewee and I was a journalist. For the introverted me, it like a new found power.

And that’s kind of how I got into writing.  I have so much to say but, more often than not, I lack the confidence to speak up – unless I’m angry then all kinds of hell breaks loose. Paper scrunching, keypad warrior and timely incoherent outbursts of “AGREAAHFH” you get the drift. But through blogging, I’m slowly learning to share and develop these thoughts.

So tell me, why do you write?

Sex Education From Five Years Old: Preserving innocence or ignorance?

There’s a lot of things I expect a five year old to learn at school. The alphabet. Some basic maths. And that launching booger missiles is a big unhealthy, finger-wagging, “no”. So when this article came to my attention, “Sex Education should start from Key Stage 1”, I was more than lost for words. Are we forcing children to mature before their physical and mental age? How could kids who have just grasped how to spell their own name, have the mental and emotional capacity to understand the concept of puberty, relationships and intercourse?  The last thing on my mind over primary education were five year olds’ drawing what’s underneath Mummy’s skirt or Daddy’s pants. Describing the differences between a penis and a vagina. Let alone, find out how babies are really made. To feature and normalise these Sex Ed activities under “Childhood” feels somewhat, unsettling.

Disney Stars: Ariana Grande's retracted controversial album/ Fans emulate Miley Cyrus's 2013 MTV Awards performance

Disney Stars: Ariana Grande’s retracted controversial album/ Fans emulate Miley Cyrus’s 2013 MTV Awards performance

Yet our society is saturated with sexual images and messages.  From tabloids and magazines of scantily clad women openly displayed on supermarket newstands, to the border-line soft porn “music” acts and videos on TV and Youtube,  it’s difficult to argue that this growing myriad of hyper-sexualised content has no impact on the pre-maturation and development of children. Certainly, age restrictions exist and that, as American Apparel knows all too well with it’s latest seedy, Back to School campaign focus on “up skirt” shots of crotches and underwear, overtly explicit material is stringently monitored by regulatory bodies.

But here’s a slight problem. Sex sells. It’s attention grabbing and demands instantaneous reaction. It’s powerful because it draws on an intimate part of our lives and people are naturally curious, children more so. The effects of cumulative exposure from seemingly playful and subtly sexualised material (advertisements,  video games, toys and even songs) ingrains strict gendered roles where the masculine “Adonis” like figure dominates weak and permissive women. What’s worse is that this glorified bias and objectification is increasingly prevalent amongst children and young people in social practices like sexting. A study by NSPCC found girls, when solicited by boys, send explicit photos of themselves and or at least parts of themselves bearing a boy’s name in black marker pen. Collecting these images becomes a form of social currency, a way for boys to negotiate popularity in a competitive “lad” culture. Claimed “ownership” of a girl’s body served as proof of sexual activity in a society that markets and elicits a nonchalant attitude towards sex and relationships.

NSPCC Transcript with a schoolboy

NSPCC Transcript with a schoolboy

The heightened glorification of sex in popular media creates and reinforces a warped environment where recognition and self value is measured on sexual desirability and a narrow standard of physical attractiveness. The worrying consequence is that children, without guidance, gradually internalise these fictional representations as reality or at least how it should be anyway. In fact, a 2013 survey, supported by the Southampton Rape Crisis, found that the average age that children first started watching porn was only 11 years old. Sex appeal and desirability are accelerated into ideals to be emulated. More critically though, it’s delivered as a shortsighted end and isolated from the wider context of relationships, consent and protection. As Pope John Paul II aptly highlights, “the problem with pornography is not that it shows too much of the person, but that it show too little”. The failure to show and properly inform children of these major factors leaves them vulnerable to the lopsided realities, which are constantly presented to them through popular media. This is why unfolding Sex Education from an early age, beginning with very basic anatomy, is imperative in modern society. The rose tinted glasses of preserving childhood is not only untenable but harmful for children in the long run. If we don’t overcome this stigma to socially discuss and teach sex, puberty and relationships, this role is left to a biased and over glorified media.


Public Health England

The 30 Questions Challenge: Religion and inequality

3. Why do we call some religions “mythologies” (ancient Greek, Norse, Egyptian, etc.) and others religions? Is this fair? What does this show about how relevant certain ideas are as society progresses?

Every religion is built upon internal mythological elements – take Mount Olympia, Ganesha the elephant headed Hindu God and Noah’s Ark as examples.  What distinguishes ancient Greek, Norse and Egyptian “mythologies” to everyday beliefs like Christianity and Islam are the number of followers that continue to practise and uphold the faith. It’s not fair but that’s natural and I guess survival of the fittest in terms of religous groups and ideas as society progresses. Larger religions prevail and its principles are institutionally taught from a young age. While dead religions become eulogised into myths.


“Money is the mother’s milk of politics.” Jesse M. Unruh

4. People often talk about the growing gap between the rich and poor. However, today’s poor (in the United States, at least) are much better off than most people (not just the poor) were a century ago. Does it matter that there’s an increasing gap between the rich and the poor if the standard of living for the poor keeps going up?

It’s great that the standards of living are improving for everyone. That’s societal progression. But it should never be a mask or deterrent from reacting to a widening inequality between the filthy rich and very poor. In the political playground, more often than not, wealth holds major leverage to indirectly influence the political processes towards the interests of the rich. For well filled tailored pockets, Washington D.C’s “K Street” is a lobbying gold mine for political clout. According to GreenPeace, oil billionaire barons, like the free market supporting Koch brothers channeled approximately $67 million towards a network of climate denial groups alone- essentially reshaping politics towards a low regulated libertarian society. Wealth inequality fuels and perpetuate this backdoor privatisation of democracy. It’s a never ending vicious circle keeping the rich richer and the poor poorer.


Image Source

Date rape nail polish drug detectors – Creative concept, flawed in practice and misguided criticism

A recent rocket on media street is a new drug detecting nail polish , marked “Undercover Colors”. Created by four North Carolina State University students, it’s an innovative little cosmetic that changes colours after being exposed to date rape drugs like Rohypnol, Xanax and GHB. Simply stirring one manicured finger discreetly into any drink could alert a woman of a potential sexual predator.

Sounds pretty handy, (excuse the pun), right? A cleverly thought out mini stranger danger drug detector tailored to fit into many everyday female beauty regimes. While it’s a creative concept, unfortunately I can’t imagine women readily dunking their fingers into their glasses anytime soon. Neither is male nail polish ever likely to become a fashion trend in the near future. Worryingly, the product marginalises rape and sexual assault cases to only female victims and disregards that men are also targets.

But the problems don’t seem to end in practice. According to Animal New York’s Backdoor Pharmacist, date rape drug testers simply aren’t reliable. It’s a “false panacea”. The over sensitive nature of colorimetric indicators, the impossibility of compacting a universal indicator to test the extensive list of potentially incapacitating substances and the horrendously busy, bustling bar/night club conditions all skews the accuracy of the detectors. The consequential danger is a widened false sense of security and scope for damning false allegations.

Yet the most troubling criticism and rejection of the drug detector that caught my attention was by spokeswoman of Rape Crisis England & Wales, Katie Russell.

“It implies that it’s the woman’s fault and assumes responsibility on her behalf and detracts from the real issues that arise from sexual violence.”

This is absurd. Defence mechanisms have been developed to give people the means to protect and defend themselves when necessary. Far from victim blaming women for the burden of being raped by not taking adequate precautions, these tools are preparing and empowering people for our current reality. Certainly, these measures are not the solution to the matter of ending sexual violence. But in the meantime why shouldn’t we welcome and advance these efforts to minimise our chances of encountering a threat or danger? Being cautious is part and parcel of everyday life. Motorists shouldn’t be running people over and neither should people be drunk driving but that doesn’t mean we stop looking both ways when we cross a road or stop wearing seat belts. Taking responsibility and being cautious for one’s own safety shouldn’t be misconstrued as being responsible for getting attacked. Rape is wrong and the concept of consent is institutionally taught over and over again. But the world we live in is, sadly, not utopian so we need to take that extra step to protect ourselves.

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