The One With The Life Like No Other

My 30th birthday

It has been a year to the date since I turned thirty.

Words seem a little inadequate to describe the complex emotion churning in my mind right now. Often I told myself, at birthdays, I should look back at the year which has gone past and be grateful of my blessings, my successes, my triumphs.

But this time round… I told myself also to look at my failures and my troubles. For in each grain of pain lies a chance for me to learn something, to be myself… only better.

Call it a sign of age, if you will.

Departing for Hong Kong

Slightly more than a year ago, I uprooted myself from the familiar land of Singapore and departed to the unknown world of Hong Kong. Looking back, I wasn’t exactly prepared on how hard it would be for me to start all over again. Perhaps it was a little naive of me to think that, if I could do in Singapore ten years ago, I could do it again in Hong Kong.

The blessings of friendships

And so I tried. I have always been lucky to be bestowed the friendships of friends who welcomed me with open arms. Even though, perhaps, initially there were some reservations in accepting me for who I am, eventually I found friends in few generous souls who see it fit to call me a friend.

It is not a bed of roses, of course. We all fell in and out of friendships all the time, and there was no exception for me. While I still call an unfortunate few friends still, I agree to disagree on things both major and minor, and we part ways.

Right now, I am just glad it happened the way it did, and I could not have asked for a better clique of friends to make me feel at home in my new home.

The long, hard road at the beginning

I also remember how the beginning of my life in Hong Kong was full of uncertainties. I did I could to be assured (and promised) of things which could see me reduce the variables in my life then. It wasn’t an ideal situation, and I remember how I crumbled several times in tears. Alone. In my solitary room.

But friends are quick to encourage me to soldier on. How it is not everyone’s cup of tea to do what I was doing then. It took courage, it took resilience… and most of all, it took faith. I prayed for divinity in my soul, and to find strength to turn the pain in my heart into strength in my arms to reach out to others.

A taste of home in the form of two best friends

Not all are dark and dreary in my life then, of course. Perhaps sensing my need for a bit of home (that’s Singapore, figuratively speaking), the other two parts of the awesome threesome BFFs had remained in touch with me. Over the past year, they have visited me, perhaps to nurse my weary self, and to assure me that I am doing the right thing.

Words would fail me in expressing my gratitude to Cheryl and Shafik. For even though time and distance separated us, our friendships remained strong, no matter the obstacles. For that, I am eternally grateful.

And I know you two will be reading this. Thank you, and I do love you both very much.

The visits to Singapore

On various occasions, I took on to my fancies to return to Singapore to rejuvenate my relationships with friends I left behind. Over time, I realised with a little dismay… that Singapore resembles less and less of a home to me.

The things that I could do with my friends, then, can only be best described as routine. Lunch at this place, dinner at that place, drinking at the usual spot. Not that I did not enjoy the gathering – in fact, I did, very much – but it felt more like something I need to once in a while, to remind myself who I was, and what I have become.

My emotions then were a concoction of joy and sorrow and everything in between… a bit like Polyjuice Potion mixed with Felix Felicis. It was not long before I realised that I could not hold on to my past any longer.

I needed to move on.

About my new home, Hong Kong

Hong Kong is like a beast with multiple heads. At one end it bedazzles you, Chicago-like, with jazz, booze and vibes, coaxing the dancing queen in you to kick your heels and paint the town red. On the other end, it soothes you with its endless stretch of beaches, rolling hills and a quaintness so still you could hardly believe you are still in Hong Kong.

So I took to the road and get to know my new home more upclose and personal. I am glad I did, but I know my journey has barely begin. This is one monster which will take me months to tame.

Ian and I

This entry will not be complete without a mention about the ever lovable Ian.

What do I mean? Well, who would have thought a stroke of luck for him to relocate to Hong Kong, yet another stroke of (bad) luck for his apartment to be that filthy that he had to opt to stay with me for a while… to the eventual blossoming of a beautiful friendship between us.

Shared joy, laughter, endless talks and sharing… my Thursday evenings will never be the same again. I know he had moved on to a better place (no, Ian is very much still alive), and I am happy for him eventhough our time together were cut short.

CB Lim, you should know you are dearly missed, and that your spot in my (HK) heart will always be left vacant for you.

A winter holiday in Europe

And on to travel. Oh, holidays, how I missed ya. It took me ages to decide, but eventually I spent a hectic ten days in Budapest, Prague and Vienna during winter last year. It was definitely a trip to remember; what with the discovery of majestic sights of Europe I never seen before, adventures into the darker side of European night life, and… friends. New friends made here and there, though I ought to realise soon I will be too old for backpackers inns.

As of now, I still have not completed my blog entries on my trip. What a shame, and so unlike me!

My mom and I

Easily one of the main highlights of the past year was my visit to New York and New Jersey to spend some time with my mommy dearest, and her eventual visit to Hong Kong about a month later. The trip itself was something which I relegated to fond memories department of my heart, but what matters more was my relationship with my mom.

Through the hours we shared together, I honestly can say we have overcome a major barrier between us. It was a relief to be unburdened with the truth… and yet deep in my heart I know my mom still love me the same.

They say blood is always thicker than water. It’s even more true when it comes to a mother-and-son relationship.

I love you, mom.

Of love lost and found

Of love lost and found. Perhaps it was my cupid going a little haywire in Hong Kong, but I never had a more colorful dating life in Hong Kong. Yup, I have met new people here, and a few of them had become serious.

But you know how, sometimes, the more you wanted something, the less likely you’ll get it? I hate myself for being too me. I never learn from my mistakes, and often times I have no one else to blame but myself when my relationships didn’t work out well.

But now I am given a chance again, and I will cherish it.

Fat slim me

I guess a stroll down my memory lane would not be complete without a mention of my, ehem, new figure. Perhaps it was really a combination of new lifestyle in Hong Kong, the stress of missing home and a newly rejuvenated diet cum fitness regime, I have never been in a better shape in my life.

Friends left me messages on Facebook telling me how they could not recognise the person they see in my profile. It is still me, folks. No matter how much I have changed on the outside, inside you’ll find the same old me.

Moving on...

This post has to end some time. I have been scrolling through my Facebook updates in the past one year, as well as endless Flickr photo sets, for the past few hours. My back is aching, my heart is churning, and my fingers are aching from all the typing and scrolling.

However, the conclusion.

It is no secret that my life in the past one year has been very much shaped by my decision, some twelve months ago, to move to Hong Kong. So do I regret moving her? No, I can vehemently say that I adore Hong Kong, and I can see myself staying here for sometime to come.

But of course I wish the ride has been a little smoother, a little happier for me. I guess the trial and turbulence made me a stronger person, and smack some realisation in me.

That I am not an ordinary man. That I do not conform to rules and norms and best practices. I thrive best when I go against conventional wisdom, and to tread on paths less traveled on.

And I build my own legacy. A life like no others.

Like they say, you gotta take tradition, and decorate it your way.

So as I turn 31 in less than two hours time, join me in toasting to a new way of living… a life like no others.

Happy birthday, me. The ride will be rough, but you’ll like it.

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