Discovering Hayley Kiyoko

So here’s my appreciation rant on this new obsession of mine. I feel like I’ve been missing out on so much because I discovered her so late. I only came to know of Hayley about half a year ago when I was looking for some queer themed music and came across Girls Like Girls but then I didn’t really love love her until I watched the music video for Sleepover the day it released.

Sleepover oozed a much needed representation of unrequited sapphic feels and my God, I have never wanted a girl like I wanted Hayley Kiyoko. The entire music video was just so aesthetically pleasing with the orange/yellow colour mood. The story goes with Hayley falling for her straight girl best friend and the whole POV switches between reality and her fantasy where they’re both frolicking around a room and in a bathtub. So much feels ❤️

Then I started listening to the rest of her music and I just went so deep down this rabbit hole of music that spoke to my soul. On top of being super catchy, Gravel to Tempo is just so true to what a lot of young, insecure, gay girls go through at least once in their lives. As a teenage girl who didn’t realise her admiration for her fellow girl seniors was probably attraction to girls, I could relate. And if you’ve watched the music video, you’d ship the hell outta Hayley and the headphones girl.

I am just so in love with the entire Citrine EP. So many good songs like Ease My Mind, Pretty Girl, Palace, and One Bad Night. Plus, songs from the This Side of Paradise EP and A Belle to Remember EP. The best part? Hayley herself wrote these songs and they’re all based on her own experiences. I literally have not stopped listening to her songs everyday since Sleepover was released (that’s about 2 months now at this time of writing). I’m not even kidding, I need to listen to her everyday or if I’m not, it’ll be playing in my head, full lyrics and all. Yeah, I’ve never had such an intense liking to a person I’ve never watched before, beats all my other badass women on film/TV crushes. 

Then I found out that she’s actually been around for quite a bit, acting in a bunch of movies and TV shows. Most recently she played a hacker with the CSI: Cyber team. Then I also found out she’s most recognised from her Disney movie/TV shows involvement. So I recently watched Lemonade Mouth and I loved it. Now, I usually don’t like Disney movies because they’re just super cliché and too high-schoolly but this one was pretty good despite the unrealisticness. And the music’s pretty good! The five of them can actually play the music instruments and sing. 

So she sings and she acts, but have you seen her on stage? I haven’t, but I shall be in the crowd of her live show ONE DAY! She builds a stage around her for her performances. I talking about this little space she creates surrounded by her instruments and mic. From her One Bad Night tour, you can see her electronic drum pad on her left, keyboards on her right, mic in front of her, plus she can also play the guitar & bass too. 


I don’t think I’ve ever liked a person and personality from afar so much that I want to date, and even marry her. I written in a previous post that I don’t prioritise marriage in my life but for the first time, I could actually imagine myself being happily married to someone like Hayley. Okay, I know how stalkerish that sounds (Hayley, if you ever read this pls don’t hate me), but what I really mean is that I think I found the type of personality that I can tolerate and spend the rest of my life with. 

This is me stalking her Instagram stories

Okay enough ranting, here’s more of Hayley beautiful, beautiful face. 

A Buddhist Wake & Funeral 

It’s been less than a year and I’ve lost another grandparent. This one hit me harder than the previous because we did not expect it to come by so fast.

My maternal grandfather was a great man, he cared for all of us deeply and you could tell he knew his end was near. It all started when he was admitted into the hospital after feeling unwell for some time. Found out he had a lung infection, and after going in and out of the hospital for about a month, he finally left one Sunday morning. This was about a month ago. I remember that day very clearly as I rushed to his hospital bed at 5.30 in the morning to say goodbye. It was heartbreaking as all 18 of us held him one last time.

We immediately held his service the next night and for three days long. Unlike my paternal grandmother’s last year, we opted for a simple and not too traditional, yet beautiful service for him with Buddhist monks and nuns chanting. It was held at the amazingly comfortable and professional Nirvana Memorial Centre in Sungai Besi. The facilities and services there are top notch, it even felt like a five star hotel environment. Only the best for my Gong Gong (“grandfather” in Chinese).

The first day we headed over after lunch to prepare, though there wasn’t much preparation for us to do as they had prepared everything beforehand (part of the package paid for). The only things we did were folding the prayer paper gold/money that us grandchildren to do, but the rest of the family chipped in and helped as well. By the third night we had at least twenty large bags full!

The room we had was named “Orchid”, to which my mother mentioned was Gong Gong’s favourite. :’) The room was larger than the others around as we opted for the corner room with a larger hallway to accommodate more people. We knew that we could expect a large crowd of family from his nieces/nephews travelling from another state as they loved him very much. We have a rather large family as my grandfather was part of 10 siblings (and he was the last surviving sibling 😥 ), each with plenty of children, he himself has 5 children. Plus, there’s the numerous relatives, friends and colleagues that each of us immediate family had and his own friends as well.

His altar had a really huge blown up photograph of him (which my uncle took 3 years back) that was so comforting to look at. He had this warm and contented smile that made me want to just sit there and stare at him. On the altar were flowers (the entire building was very flower based, so pretty!), a joss stick sand pot to hold the thicker type of joss stick, food including a bunch of his favourites we brought, tea, a large bowl of water and a basket of fresh yellow chrysanthemum flower heads. Nirvana (or maybe it’s a Buddhism culture) uses a lot of flowers throughout the entire funeral process. Mostly yellow and white flowers as a sign of mourning. There was minimal joss stick burning so it wasn’t smoky (plus, it was held indoors with air conditioning on full blast that we were all shivering). The only joss sticks present was that one stick lit and replaced constantly burning at the altar throughout. Even that, the monk/nun would handle. For the food offerings, it was provided by Nirvana and was vegetarian food (because Buddhism) but they allowed us to bring in anything we want. So we made the effort to buy all his favourite chicken rice, fried rice, lamb chop, egg tarts, roti canai, coffee, tea and a few other tidbits he loved. The chrysanthemum flower heads were for guests to place into the water bowl as a sign of respect to him. It was like lighting up a joss stick but a much more environmental friendly way. So when there were a lot of people, the bowl was overflowing with flowers.

Behind the altar, separated by a wall, was the casket positioned with the foot nearest to the back of the altar and head furthest. The top half of the casket was opened with a glass covering over. My grandfather was dressed in a smart looking suit with a light green shirt and dark green tie (his favourite colour). Again, he was ever so slightly smiling, looking contented. :’) An umbrella was placed over the opened top half of the casket. Again, this must be the superstition of protecting against evil forces/prevent black cat from jumping over. The bottom half of the casket had prayer papers and cloth draped over the closed cover.

There were also the whole set of paper paraphernalia; the huge mansion-like house inclusive of two maid/servant, wide screen television, mobile phone, clothes, shoes, accessories and even a satellite dish for the television; a car that was supposed to be a Mercedes-Benz complete with a driver; two bridges (one gold, one silver) that I think was supposed to symbolise either reincarnation or a bridge to heaven (?).

You know when we thought we’d be expecting a large crowd? Well, we still underestimated. The crowd was waaayyy larger than expected as there was barely any seats/tables to spare the whole first night. Everywhere you turned, you’re bound to almost bump into someone. To be honest, I felt proud of my grandpa to see how much he affected all these family and friends. Each one of us immediate family were busy talking to family and our own friends/colleagues who had come to pay their respects. Even my own colleagues took the effort to come after work hours, despite only knowing them for less than 6 months.

We immediate family (children and grandchildren) had an attire to wear, a plain white tee and long black pants just like the Taoist one. We also had the cloth belt and a small square coloured patch of cloth pinned on our left sleeve to differentiate our rank in the family. I had a white belt with a red cloth tied onto it and a blue cloth with a red centre on my sleeve. We also had to wear this same set of clothes for all three days unwashed. We couldn’t wash our hair with shampoo, only with water for three days, slightly better than the Taoist rule last year.

For the prayer sessions, there were three sessions on the first night starting at 7.30pm. Each session was about 30 – 45 minutes with intervals up until 11pm. This time, I’m unable to translate or explain what each prayer session meant as the monks/nuns were chanting in Chinese and what I think is Sanskrit. Plus, the chants were so sing-songy it was hard to even hear them clearly, but it was very soothing to listen. While they chanted, we would sit/stand/kneel behind them with our palms pressed together and every so often we were asked to bow once or three times as instructed either by them or another man who was the coordinator for this service. They even gave us a cushion each to sit or kneel on rather than on the carpet floor itself. So really, the hardest thing we did was sit still for 45 minutes straight. Standing was much more comfortable really.

The first night were monks and the second night and third day were nuns. I later found out that there had been a mixed up on the first night where we initially requested for nuns throughout the process. Not too sure why but I guess my family preferred nuns as they had a more soothing chant. They chanted facing a separate altar placed adjacently next to my grandfather’s. There were three statues of which we later asked were the middle is (one of the variations of) Buddha and two (variations of) Kuan Yin on each side. It was a very complicated explanation by the nun of who and what they represented. Long story short, they are all variations of Kuan Yin but the middle statue was one who has achieved the status of Buddha and completed all tasks/stages required. The two other statues has not. So it’s like a rank thing. Also, they were all from the west side, supposedly they are in care of all death and the dead.

Please, if you know more about Buddhism and its variations, depictions, rituals and meaning, correct me as I only know what I have been told thus far. Again, I genuinely want to understand and I could only ask so much in so little time.

On the second day, went over early to bring Gong Gong his lunch and hung around still folding paper gold/money. Again, prayers started at 7.30pm and this time we had 4 sessions with intervals. This night, there was about half the crowd of the first night and it was much calmer as we didn’t have to rush here and there with lesser people to address. Towards later in the night, before the final prayer session, we the immediate family followed the nuns downstairs and outside to a separate and controlled shed where they placed the paper paraphernalia and paper gold around it to be burned. We were then instructed to call out for my grandfather to come and collect his items. I guess in a way, it is also to tell any “wandering” spirits that these items belong to my grandfather and it’s not their for taking. So we watched the raging flame engulf the paper until it was in ashes and went back inside. Other than this, the second night was pretty similar with the first.

The third day was sending Gong Gong to his final resting place at Nirvana Memorial Park in Shah Alam. This time, we started way early at 9am. It was a sombre morning as this was going to be our last viewing of him before they shut the casket for good. They opened the casket completely, even the glass covering so we could see him and touch (his clothes, we didn’t touch his face as I’m sure they would have put on some form of chemical preservation?). We stood there, talking to him, saying our goodbyes and tears just started flowing. Then they took in the flowers that were sent in the last two days, cut the flower heads off and arranged them neatly around his body in the casket (so pretty :’) ). Next, there was a ritual where his children laid very traditional grand cloth-like blankets which was supposed to symbolise comfort in his afterlife. All this while, there was a flying bug/insect, which of course the elders mentioned that it was Gong Gong visiting us. I mean, as much as it sounded ridiculous, what harm could it do to just be comforted by the thought that he was still with us in some way.

Then we had one last prayer session, where the other guests could view him one last time. After that, we gathered in front of his altar, us immediate family kneeled in prayer while his casket was sealed shut with a golden axe. This was done by the people from Nirvana. I think this part, we were allowed to watch which is why we were in front of his altar instead.

After a short break, they moved the casket into the hearse. Next we moved downstairs onto the road where the hearse was parked onto a road leading to the exit of the building compound. We were asked to stand behind the hearse, put our hand on the back of the hearse and while it drove forwards slowly, we were to shout out calling him and to wish him well on his smooth journey in the afterlife. It went on for a short distance until the hearse reached the exit, where we got into our own cars and followed behind on our way to the memorial park. We did stop by my grandparents house for him to visit one last time. I think the most exciting part about the drive had to be this other car from Nirvana where they drove in front of the hearse to stop any oncoming traffic at junctions to let about 10 cars through so that we were all in a single line following one another.

At the memorial park, we were brought to a hall that I think should be the crematorium place behind. My grandfather’s casket was placed on an automated trolley-like doorway. While we were kneeled in front of an altar setup, the casket moved towards the doorway which was now opened to reveal a golden statue of Buddha with a green laser light shining from the jade on the forehead. This laser light moved up and down the moving casket as if it was blessing as my grandfather went away. But I have a feeling the laser was a sensor for the mechanics to know when to close the door after the casket fully moved in. Very dramatic and it really hit us deep because this was it, his physical being was leaving 😥

Next, we prayed at a temple nearby, changed into red colour clothing to symbolise the end of our mourning period and had lunch while we waited for the cremation to be completed. We decided to complete everything on the same day rather than come back the next day. It took about 2 hours so we hung around the place. We returned to the hall where each of us immediate family took turns to place a piece of his remains into a green urn. So yes, as morbid as it sounds, I picked up a piece of my grandfather’s bone and placed into an urn. I honestly thought it would be all ashes, didn’t expect there would still be small pieces of bone.

We brought him to his final home at the columbarium. Performed a prayer session for him then placed the urn inside the space. We also put in his reading glasses and wrist watch next to his urn.

Aaaand that was it.

Basically I did nothing for four days except to pray, reminisce, cry, sleep, and repeat. All in all, the service was beautiful I would say. He truly deserved the best and I miss him so much.

Gong Gong, Popo and us young ones

Gong Gong looking so fine back in the day

Life Update? 

Or more like trying to include 2017 in my list of blog posts. 

In the months missing since my previous post, I have 

  • Graduated university with a degree
  • Went for a number of job interviews
  • Lazed and bummed around the house for 4 months unemployed
  • Finally got a job
  • Found a group of pretty cool colleagues to hang out with at work
  • Lost my grandfather 😦 I miss you, Gong Gong
  • (Finally) Registered and currently studying for my actuarial professional paper that I’ve been scared about (it’s in one week 😨) 
  • Gotten significantly gayer ever since I discovered Hayley Kiyoko and Katie McGrath. 

Yep, I should absolutely get back to studying but you know, I’m the best at procrastinating. Though I would really like to rant about my new found love for Hayley, I shall save that till after my paper. I promise. Hayley-filled post coming right up! 

A Hakka/Taoist Wake & Funeral

I have to say, this is probably the first wake that I’ve ever been actively involved in (not that I’m complaining, hear me out first). So I am not sure if this seems to be a norm in other cultures/dialects, this is only my first hand experience of witnessing a traditional Taoist wake and funeral in the Hakka dialect & customs.

The Hakka rituals in prepping the deceased in the afterlife is a very unique, detailed, complicated and sometimes contradicting process. Having said that, I’m still proud of my culture and where I come from.

If I could summarise these three days, it would be every action done and choice made has a meaning and/or story behind it. I’m not kidding, I’m talking about every prayer session done follows a story, there are reasons behind why we aren’t allowed to do/wear certain things and even the design of the tombstone has meanings. All of which I will divulge into later on. This account of events are only what I’ve learnt from this experience, there are probably other versions of stories, reasons and customs out there, so if you know better, I would definitely like to know more. I decided not to photograph any of it as I think it is inappropriate and the elders might deem it disrespectful to my grandmother. So, looooong wordy post ahead.

First off, I was told that attire had to be of plain, dull colours such as white, black, dark shades of blue, green, brown to show that you are mourning . Red, yellow and orange are to be avoided at all cost, because those are colours of celebration and prosperity (very Chinese New Year colours). I learnt later on that even a hint of red is frowned upon as I wore a grey tshirt with a smidge of red pattern on the front :/ Nonetheless, I only wore it for awhile as I would be changing into a brand new set of plain white tshirt and black pants provided by the funeral parlour handling the wake. This set of clothes would last me throughout the entire mourning period of 3 days, without getting washed. Well, budget constraints I supposed?

We arrived at my grandparents house in the evening and pretty much everything has been set up. Two tents with deep blue curtains and blue plastic chairs, the standard here in Malaysia (auspicious events like weddings, birthdays, etc have red plastic chairs instead), we’re placed in front of the house. Since my grandmother passed away peacefully inside the house, her casket was placed inside the house where all the living room furniture were moved to another room. If the deceased passed away anywhere else outside the house, the casket would have to be placed outside the house under the tents instead. Why? I’m not too sure either.

I’ve come to know that the position of the casket has to be a certain way as well. The casket has to be placed where the foot faces the door and an altar set up in front of the foot. So once you enter the house, you’ll see the altar with the casket directly behind. On the altar, it’d be the usual joss sticks, candles and food offerings set up with flowers and a large photo of my grandmother. Her casket was open but had a glass covering over so you could see her. There was large prayer paper opened up on top of the glass covering from her neck below, an umbrella opened right under the casket cover at the head and a tiny recorder with a prayer chant on repeat. All these I supposed is to protect her from any evil. However this umbrella does have a story behind it, it is said to also protect against any cat, particularly a black coloured cat, from jumping over the casket. Myth has it that if a black cat jumps over a casket, the deceased body will come alive. Well, now…

In the front porch, there was another altar set up for the Gods. Now, the Taoist and Buddhist culture here is pretty similar. So I think this set up is very much like the Buddhist custom. There was a large banner with what I’m assuming is three Buddha’s (if I’m not mistaken, there are three but the specific are unclear to me) and two Goddesses at the end which looks very much like Kuan Yin (Goddess of Mercy) to me. On the table there were about 7-8 more Gods I’m unsure of. This altar was mainly handle by the priests conducting the prayer sessions.

Now that I’ve described the scene, onto what happened. The ones who actively took part in the prayer sessions were the immediate family; sons, daughters, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law and grandchildren (me). We all wore the same white tshirt and black pants but were given a small patch of cloth and cloth belt of different colour according to our rank to identify us. We were all also given a prayer charm to attach to the front of the tshirt in order to protect us from any supernatural harm.

On this note, this whole wake process is actually communicating with the underworld and for us family members to help guide my grandmother through the process so she doesn’t have to be alone. So a lot of the things we do is to protect both us living family and my grandmother from any lurking souls or underworld soldiers that may also be present. Chinese believes that after death, you will, to put it plainly “go to hell” where you will be judged upon of any wrongdoings during your life. So this wake is basically “opening up the underworld”, guiding my grandmother with the help of priests, bringing her to Justice Pao where he will decide her afterlife fate. So if you have led a good and honest life, you will be sent to heaven among Buddha, Kuan Yin and the rest. Earlier I said that this process is contradicting, because while we believe good souls go to heaven, there is also the part where we honour our ancestors every year during Qing Ming or Tomb Sweeping Day and we burn paper and food offerings including money, gold, houses and cars. Ultimately these items are sent to hell (if you notice, the money currency burned are usually marked ‘hell bank’). So here’s where I’m very confused, if every year we burn items to hell for our ancestors to aid them in the afterlife, does that mean they’re constantly in hell? Including all those who have been truly good and sent to heaven? What about reincarnation? Because we also believe that. There’s even a prayer session for that later on. So if the soul is reincarnated, how is the soul supposedly still in heaven or hell?
please know that I mean no disrespect to anyone, I genuinely want to understand

Back to the wake, there were about five prayer sessions with each lasting about half hour to an hour on the first night starting in the late evening after we had an early dinner. The entire three days were conducted mainly in Hakka so I was pretty clueless as my Hakka knowledge was zero. I merely followed what everyone else was doing or asked the others. Luckily, the Hakka language was sounded very much like Cantonese where I’m better at so I understood simple basic instructions by the priest. There were four Taoist priest or more commonly known as Nam moh lou, each taking turns for each session. Most of the sessions were us either kneeling or sitting down on the front porch facing the Gods, each holding one joss stick while the Taoist priest led the chant out loud. Whenever he bowed, we followed, which was almost every five minutes. Sometimes we were required to bow three times consecutively, usually at the starting and ending of the session or a pinnacle point of the chant as a mark of respect. Another time is whenever we asked for something that required a yes/no answer from the Gods or any spirits. Usually a jiaobei is used but the one that the priest used were in a form of four bells. Basically, after the question/permission is asked, it will be dropped on the floor. If one half is facing up and the other down, the answer is yes. If both halves are facing up or both down, answer is no.

So that was about two to three session, what it means I cannot help you there because I did not understand the specifics. However, one particularly interesting session was one that mourned the loss of a life by crying. I sat down with a joss stick in hand facing another simple altar setup with a wooden plaque of what I suppose is my grandmother’s name on it representing her. The Taoist priest starting chanting, and I must say it’s rather pleasant to listen to as it was a very melodic tune to all of them. Then about 10 minutes in, I started to hear his voice break down as if he was crying and singing. I’m not even kidding, this guy was so convincing that I started to tear up despite not understanding about 90% of what he was saying. He was standing right next to the group on us sitting down and since I was seated in the front half, I sneaked a turn around to look at him. Now, with that crying and mourning voice, I half expected him to have a tear in his eyes, but nope, he looked exactly the same as before. My, my, this guy has got some talent.

Then there was a session where we had to stand in a line and one by one walk up to the set up altar, pick up a coin and place it into a bowl then pluck off a leaf from this huge branch and throw it into a box. Then repeat it again and again as we walk around in a circle. Barefooted. Not that I’m a princess and don’t want to get my feet dirty, I have no problems going barefooted. The only thing that was painful is that the altar was set right outside the house on the tar road where little pieces of jagged edged stones are scattered. Well, foot massage it is 😛

The second night of the wake started with a naming prayer session that I think was the most amusing one yet. There were those paper prayer paraphernalia such as a house, car, servants, driver and others that I couldn’t make out. The priest started chanting in front of the house and servants, as he described and talked about the house, he touched each aspect of the house with a red inked paint brush. In a way, it looked as if he were “activating” them to be sent to my grandmother. Then onto the paper servant and driver, he asked us what would their names be and their wages. It was kinda funny for the wage part, because after the elders agreed on an amount the priest would ask if they (paper servant & driver) agreed by using the bells that I mentioned earlier. The first amount was rejected and only had an agreement when it was increased 😛 The same process was done for the car as well.

Earlier in the afternoon, the priest had set aside some large space filled with sand. Then they started to sculpt it into two dragons coming towards a circle platform. It was pretty darn cool, I must admit. I’m not sure if the circle platform represented heaven’s gates or hell’s gates as there was a small arch doorway stuck in front of the dragons. About a dozen eggs with a Chinese character written on it each was placed around the platform and one egg in front of each dragon’s mouth. Then about almost 200 coins were scattered all over the platform and dragons.

Later that evening, the priest led a prayer session where he walked around it while chanting with the lot of us following behind one by one. I think we must have circled the sand sculpture for about half an hour. Then they had us sit down in front of the platform but at a distance. Two priest then started performing a really cool dance/fight scene. It wasn’t anything violent, more of a reenactment of a tame fight between some forces? I’m not sure but I was in awe. There was even fire breathing as well, okay, more like spitting oil into a bonfire. I’m sure there’s a story in there. Then it ended with one priest breaking the eggs in front of the dragons. They were raw eggs. After that, we were told to collect the coins, which we were to keep for good luck.

Another session involved a certain popular figure in the Chinese history. One of the priest portrayed Justice Pao who is a famous judge, whereby in this situation he’d take into account all the good or bad deeds in your life and then decide your fate in the afterlife, whether you go to heaven or hell. So in this reenactment, there were two bridges in front of Justice Pao (made of paper with the support of tables and chairs, very creative tbh), the golden bridge and the silver bridge. No idea what it meant but one of the elders held a wooden plaque representing my grandmother and guided it over the golden bridge towards Justice Pao where he would pretend to flip through a book as if he was looking for her name and read/chant as he decided, then another elder held and guided her back down the silver bridge. This happened about five more times. Apparently I later found out that this session is to also “wipe her memories of this life” as she crossed the bridges so as to move on to her next life and be reincarnated. During this bridge crossing, the priest asked us to shout out and persuade her to cross the bridge. You know, for the dramatic flair, because usually if you know you’re gonna lose your memories you wouldn’t want to cross that bridge. So we as family had to persuade her to go and move on.
Back to my point earlier, here you have reincarnation. Then there’s the whole going to heaven or hell based on the deeds of your life by Justice Pao. So I guess if you have to pay for deeds by going to hell, no reincarnation? Then if you go to heaven because you’ve done good while living, do you stay in heaven or be reincarnated to a better next life? Hmm…

Then it was the burning of the paper prayer paraphernalia. Since there was a huge field in front of the house, we used it for the burning. While we stood around in a circle, they set up the house, car, servant, driver, boxes of other paper personal items and the numerous bags of paper gold ingots. Then came my grandmother’s actual items such as her clothing, shoes, bags and a couple of her personal belonging. To be honest, I started tearing when I saw her clothes. For the first time since the whole wake started, it dawned upon me that she wasn’t here anymore. Seeing her clothes made me think of all the times she babysat me as a kid, cooked me meals and her constant reminders to drink more water :’) Then they lit all of that on fire as the priests chanted. With the amount of things in the pile, the fire grew so huge it had to be about two storeys high. But of course, it didn’t go out of hand. After awhile, everything burned and the fire died down and we went back inside.

On the third day, we started in the late morning. The priest told us that this would be our last chance to see my grandmother as they would be closing the coffin. As for the closing and transporting the coffin outside the house, we all were not allowed to see it happen. So we were told to wait outside under the tents facing the opposite direction. I was told that we weren’t allowed to see because it had to do with dealing with underworld-y forces and us living people may not be able to handle if there were any lurking spirits. So if we weren’t strong enough in terms of our chi or if our yin and yang wasn’t balanced, we could be very vulnerable. Now, I haven’t fact checked this superstition but you know, better be safe than sorry since it’s just a simple act of not looking.

A band was set up and playing some really sad songs, didn’t help with the tears 😦 After they moved the coffin outside, another altar set-up was in front with food and fruits offerings. Again, we could not have any shoes on but was provided with white socks. They had us standing in a single line by family ranking and the chanting started. Then the priest passed the first person two paint brushes, one in each hand. We had to pass both brushes over our shoulders to the person behind while saying something in Hakka. No clue what that was.

Then in that single line, we walked around the coffin while the priest chanted. On each side of the coffin, there was a bucket of water and we were handed a stack of prayer papers. As we approach one side of the coffin, we dipped one piece of prayer paper into the water and swipe it along the side of the coffin, sort of like blessing the coffin. The same thing happened on the other side of the coffin as we walked around and around. This was a sad session as the priest was cry-mourn-chanting like on the first night. Every other 5 minutes, the priest would stop walking, and kneel down as if he was breaking down and also as a sign of respect, so we all followed and went on our knees with our heads bowed. This lasted for about half and hour.

Next, all of us immediate family stood behind the altar next to the coffin while the rest of the relatives and friends had their chance to pay their last respects. So every time someone pay their respects toy grandmother, we’d bow in respect to them back as a sign of appreciation. A very courteous affair.

When it was time to load the coffin into the hearse, again we weren’t allowed to see so we were asked to look away. While the funeral parlour people set up everything else for transport, the priest with two family members went around the house to take down all the covers over the God’s altars as if we were inviting them back into the house as we were done with the ceremony at the house. Then we started the funeral procession. It was a 20 minute walk behind the hearse from the front of the house to the main road where a bus was parked. The band also followed in a car blasting sad-ish songs very loudly in the neighbourhood in the early afternoon. Once we reached the bus, we all got into it as the memorial park was about an hour’s drive away.

At the memorial park, the coffin was lowered into the ground that had been already dug. Apparently the whole not allowed to look applied as well when the coffin was lowered but it was done as we stopped by the main building where we rested for a bit. An altar was set up in front of the grave where we placed our joss stick at as a mark of respect. Then the elders were asked to check if the coffin was aligned. Not sure the significance of that but that would be the last chance to align as no more adjustments would be done after that.

The priest begun the last prayer session and chanted. After that, we were each handed a small packet of uncooked rice and asked to look down and hold out the front of our t-shirts to collect as the priest threw loose rice grains over us. The rice collected in our shirts combined with the packet of rive was to be brought home and mixed in with our own rice to eat. Apparently, it’s for good luck. So imagine me who has no idea what was going on, following everyone else holding out their t-shirts and looking down then suddenly hit with what felt like stones hitting my head and neck 😛

Finally, we went up to the front of the altar one by one where there was a bucket of sand at the side, grabbed a handful of sand, threw into the grave on the coffin and walked away. We were also warned not to clap or wipe our hands over the coffin after throwing the sand because it was human instinct to instantly get rid of the remaining sand stuck to our hands. That would be disrespectful.

Aaaand that’s it. We could take off the socks and wear our shoes, change out of our three day old set of clothes and into a fresh set. Not sure why, but we had to wear something red. I guess it’s a sign of the end of the mourning period, but red though? Kinda odd, there we were about 15 of us wearing red together in a group. It honestly looked like it was Chinese New Year in the middle of the year hahaha. We finished late afternoon and we had one final dinner hosted by us immediate family for those who attended the funeral as a sign of appreciation for being there.

Well, there we have it, a Malaysian Hakka/Taoist wake and funeral. Super elaborate (don’t even get me started on the cost of all these) and definitely an eye opener for me towards my culture.
Should there be any mistakes or wrong assumptions I have made, please do correct me. If you know the reason/story behind any of the sessions I mentioned, I would definitely like to know more.
So yeah, this was my weekend. Hope this post was somewhat informative.

The First Loss

This weekend was going to be great. No, it was going to be epic. I was to be packing my stuff right now and heading off to another state for a 3 day camp tomorrow morning with 40 people whom I had the pleasure of calling my friends. They are the reason my university life was so bright and colourful. This camp was to be my final event I would be participating in this club. And as the recently retired President, this would’ve been an amazing closure to this phase of my life. Like a swan song to my position in this club.

But now, I’m sitting here in my room with nothing packed. Today, I had just received news of the passing of my grandmother.

I have been lucky enough to have known all four of my grandparents for 21 years of my life. I used to think that was normal, that everyone has grandparents to visit every now and then especially during the festive seasons. Slowly as I grew older I realised that a lot of my friends lost their grandparents at a young age, some didn’t even get to meet them.

So for 21 years, I got to hang out with my grandparents almost every other month and even every week for the maternal side. I’m not as close to them as you would think because of the language barrier. They’d only speak mostly Cantonese and Mandarin while I get by with the basics of saying hello, asking if they’ve had their meals, asking how they were and answering any usual questions they had for me. But close enough to have known them and their personality.

Today, my paternal grandmother left us. She is the first close family member I’ve ever lost. For the past 21 years, I’ve never had to go through this. I don’t even think I’ve ever attended a funeral of someone I knew personally. Don’t get me wrong, I am so thankful for that. However, I really don’t know what to do, what to feel or what to say.

Feelings right now? Yes, I am sad. The moment I got the news I cried. But it wasn’t like it was a shock to us. We knew her health has been declining. In fact, over two weeks ago she was admitted into the emergency ward and was really weak. She managed to pull through and recover enough to be discharged. Then two days ago, she had difficulty breathing and was again admitted. This time the doctor had told us that she would not be able to make it. The first time she was in the hospital, I had already gone through all those emotions and braced myself for anything. So this time, I guess this time I’m less emotional.

To top all these bad news, I just fell ill with the flu. So any sort of crying will invoke a massive headache and a blubbery mess. For the past week I was so excited for this camp. If it were anything like last year (which it would be because most of them are the same people) it would be filled three days worth of fun, laughter, jokes and memories. Well, if the universe doesn’t want me to have fun with these people, I hope there’s something better in the future.

Nene, May you rest in peace. I hope you’re in a much better place. I love you.

How Pretending to Know Stuff Can Actually Work

How do you actually convince people that you actually know stuff and that yours is the best?

Time and time again, I can honestly say that I have pretended my way through a lot of things that people now praise me for. Deep down, only I know that I actually know the mere basics of a person who Google-d the crap out of that subject the night before.

The reason why this topic surfaced now when I’ve had this topic in my head for quite some time now is because of a recent assignment & presentation I had to do in class about 2 weeks back.

As I’ve mentioned before, I am pursuing my degree in Actuarial Science and this subject requires a team effort to design an insurance/takaful product that will rival those already available here in Malaysia.

Now, every other group chose insurance with some pretty interesting content (unemployment, flood, health insurances) & very convincing prices, but were pretty complicated to understand in terms of their structure and benefits.

Our group decided to go takaful, and there aren’t many microtakafuls here either. So we did just that. A very straightforward personal accident plan like microtakaful. If you don’t know what takaful/microtakaful is, it’s just like an ordinary insurance plan that adheres to the Islamic Shariah law in terms of its monetary structure.

So we presented our plan, where in my group of 5 members, 4 of us had a strong English command. I don’t mean to boast, but I’d say that in this class of 40 people, my English is probably in the top 5. So I Google-d my way into understanding our product and presented it in a way where I looked like a know-it-all asshole *hah* and at the end of all the presentations, my lecturer asked the class who’s product would you choose to purchase of all, and about 4/5 of the responses mentioned our product including the lecturer herself.

I gotta say, I’m actually quite proud. Despite our content not being the best of the rest, all we did was to keep it simple and present the sh*t out of it and got away being at the top.

And this isn’t the first time either.

My conclusion is, be confident and believe in your own idea. Convince yourself before you convince others, because how do you expect other people to purchase something you’re not willing to pay for.

It also helps to be good at the language that is professionally dominant in your area. Like in my situation, the workplace environment here requires  English as the official documentation & communication but most of the time, Chinese and Malay is used when talking to coworkers. So much that my strength in the English language & weakness in the Chinese language deters those who are weak in English to even ask/talk to me. Which sucks because I’m perfectly alright if your command in English is weak. I mean, have you heard me in Mandarin? You’d have a hard time keeping your laugh down.


About two weeks ago, I made a spontaneous (but planned a long time ago) decision to chop off a large portion of my hair.

Most of my life I’ve had long hair, how I define long hair would be; if you can tie it up in a ponytail, it’s long hair. So I’ve always had long hair since i could remember, of course there’s the occasional trim every half yearly but it usually would grow faster than I’d like it  to. The reason why I kept long hair, although I’ve always preferred short hair was because of my mother. Whenever I’d go for my half yearly haircuts, I’d try my hand at asking if I could chop off to a shorter do and somehow she’d weasel her idea of me having long hair in. I, not wanting to piss my mom off for the day, gave in. So for more than 10 years, I pretty much look the same with the same hairstyle, varying just a little bit.

Now when I’ve finally gone from this,

IMG-20150827-WA0030  to this  2016-01-19 18.17.13-2,

I find that I have two very distinctive opinions from two different parts of my life.

The two opinions are of course a yay and a nay.
The two sides are; my friends and family.

Meeting my friends here and there for two weeks and I get comments that short hair suits me and my personality better than long hair. Of course, there’s the occasional “Wow, how are you so willing to cut off all that hair?!”. Well, I’m that person who believes that hair WILL grow back fast when you’re still young (if you do not have any conditions that prevent hair growth). So I’m not scared about losing my hair entirely even if I shaved my head bald. In fact, that’d be kind of a thrill to do actually 😛

Meeting my family, however, I get some “yay-ish” comments but mainly mumbled comments that pretty much says they’d preferred me in long hair. I even had one aunt exclaiming on my social media asking me WHYYYY I cut off my long hair.

My point is, I feel like my family still has the perception that since I am a girl, I must have long hair. They even mentioned once that short hair on girls just looks like a tomboy and will be able to find a boyfriend/husband in the future. *sighhh* They can really be such a traditional-ist when it comes to marriage, relationships, asthetics; although I know that they are pretty modern when it comes to everything else in the world. In a way, they refuse to accept that I’m not a girly-girl. My family relentlessly tries to make me wear a skirt or dress although I have told them every time that I prefer not to wear them. I have nothing against skirts and dresses, it’s just not my style. But to them, they don’t care what’s my style, they just want me to wear something girly.

On the other hand, people outside of my family circle know that I’m the type of person who id not a girly-girl but not exactly tomboy either, I’m sort of in between here and there. I mean, that’s my personality and character and I guess that’s why they agree with me having a shorter hairdo. Seems like my friends are the ones who know the true me, or my friends are the ones who accept the true me.

All in all though, I know my family is still my family. I’ll just have to put on a thick face, nod and ignore when necessary, and still be myself.

A Letter To The Girl I Can’t Bring Myself To Confess To

First off, I would respect your decision should you not have any interest in the same gender. I’d understand that you may be a straight heterosexual female but I can’t not try.

We’ve only known each other for just over half a year and really, I just cannot seem to help but wonder if there could be more for us. We met purely for future project coworkers purposes and now we’re pretty good friends. Over the course of working with you, I can’t help but like you even more. There’s just something about the way you talk, the way you can handle your work and be as cheerful as you are. Just pretty much, the way you are.

What I want to do may jeopardise this friendship we have. If I were to confess what I feel for you and you do not feel even the slightest bit the same, I could lose you entirely. Gosh, the thought of you avoiding me isn’t a pleasant one.

To be frank, I do not know how to even begin to approach this subject with you. In fact, I don’t even know how to approach any girl for anything more than friends in this place. Despite all the LGBT support there are in the world right now, there just isn’t much in this country. I know there are still plenty of traditional minded and anti-homosexual people here. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ashamed of who I am but I am just not ready to receive the brunt force and stereotypical criticisms just yet. But you know what, if I were with you, I’d do it. If you were by my side, I think I would be willing to fully come out of the closet to people that matter in my life.

Thus, the reason the why I decided to write this down. I feel the need to put these thoughts somewhere. I am perfectly aware that you may never ever see this but that’s okay. Sometimes writing stuff down helps, so that’s what I will do for now.

New Year, New Perspective

Aaaaand another year arrives.

Happy New Year!

I have to say, I’ve got a good feeling about this coming year. I think it’s gonna be a good, albeit tough, year. 2016 will be the year I’m going to graduate from university and be an unemployed person until I get a job! Then probably get a job, and not like the work like I’ve only done before. I’m gonna be a permanent employee like and not just an intern. Man, the intern life was pretty fun. You get to do less work, people don’t assume you know everything and actually teach you stuff, people are surprised when you do actually know things and then you get paid (very little).

But then again, I kinda want to get away for a month or two on a holiday. It’s been about four years since I last had a holiday more than 2 weeks. I’d really want to go on a getaway either on my own or with a friend.

2016 will also be the year I’m gonna fully embrace myself as who I am. The past year, I spent it coming to terms with being bisexual, figuring things out and trying to see where I would go with this. I spent a lot of time thinking of what it would be like being an openly bisexual person in this country (Malaysia) because the LGBT community isn’t very strong here. Yes, gay marriage became legal in the US and it sparked conversations over here but I’m sure there are PLENTY of traditional and close-minded people here. That kinda barriers me from coming out of the closet. I know I shouldn’t care about what others think of me and that I should just be who I am but I’m not ready to be openly critised because of my sexuality just yet. I know I will be one day, but today’s not that day.

A lot of my coming to terms with who I am is because of the many LGBT YouTubers I’ve come to discover. If you are a person struggling with coming to terms with your sexuality and coming out of the closet, I’d recommend watching the various YouTube videos about LGBT topics by the LGBT community. I really have to thank Hannah Hart (myharto), Stephanie Frosch (ellosteph), Arielle Scarcella (Arielle Scarcella), Rose and Rosie (RoseEllenDix and TheRoxetera) as well as many other YouTubers who address LGBT topics and make it okay to be who I am. In their own creative, funny and real life situations, I can relate so much to how I feel on the inside and have them answer and reassure me that I am alright and not alone.

In 2016, I’m going to be a better version of myself.
Now, I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions.
I believe in Resolutions.
If I want to start to do something differently, I’d do it. I’ll probably do it the next day but I won’t wait until it is the 1st of January of the next year. I believe that resolutions, targets, goals and ambitions should be done at any time of the year.

Let’s be real, New Year’s resolutions are just never gonna get completed unless it is your true passion. If your New Year’s resolution is to eat healthier/lose weight/go on a diet, you’re probably gonna completely forget about it by the next week unless you already have been doing this all this while.

Nonetheless, I hope you do achieve your resolutions by December 31st, 2016. If not, there’s always next year 😉

Yet Another One

It’s almost two months since I’ve been interning at this company (a rather large company in this country, I might add) and I have this tiny BIG crush on someone I barely even know.

I’ve only ever spoken to her maybe twice or thrice but that was because my supervisor asked me for help to get her some stuff from our unit. She’s working at another unit (but under the same department), on the same floor but on opposite ends of the floor. Well, I’m not sure exactly where but it’s the other door.

I first saw her walking along the hallway of our floor towards the ladies washroom. There’s only one washroom on each floor btw. I thought she was pretty cute. Then on and off again I would see her, passing by and in elevators but never spoke to her.

Then one day, my supervisor told me someone would be coming over to our department to collect something, so she asked me to get it from the cabinet. When my supervisor said that person is here, I looked to see who just walked in through the door and there she was. Goddamn. It’s just like in the movies.

So as I helped her get that thing from the cabinet, we introduced ourselves. Then she thanked me and left.
It is at this point where I was pretty speechless, in the did-that-just-happen state of mind.

Then the next week, I had to collect that thing again to pass to her and she would return it later. So i got to see her twice that day. After that, it was done. No more. Didn’t have to pass her anything anymore. Which means, no reason to see her any more. I think that she thinks she’s troubling me for specifically going to get it for her, but really I would do it every day for the rest of my internship just to see her.

Technically I barely know her. I don’t know if she’s in any relationship, or if she’s interested in guys or girls. All I know is her name and that she works in that unit. I don’t know why but there’s just something about her that I like. But I don’t want to come off as too much when I barely know her. If I do have to the chance to get to know her, then only I will act upon this crush.

Damn I hate it when this happens. Definitely not the first time. Usually, in the end, nothing really happens and my crush on that person just subsides…