So it’s been a good few months since I’ve touched this blog and plenty has happened since then..I went to Nepal..and ended up staying for 3 months. Taught English in a government school in the village of Ghandruk in the Annapurna region. Trekked during monsoon season whilst being drenched by heavy downpours and sucked by relentless leeches. Experienced the suffocating commotion of Asan tole, Kathmandu on a Saturday evening and got my luggage lost by my airline in Mumbai on the way home (no worries, I got it back 3 days later).

Back in Auckland now and a few updates..firstly my Beautiful Bones collection is now for sale on Spoonflower.

http://www.spoonflower.com/profiles/jessicasoon

Secondly, I’ll be relocating to my new personal design-based website where I’ll be sharing heaps more ideas, images and inspiration.

http://www.jessicasoon.com

http://www.jessicasoon.com

Hope to see you there!

Qing Ming in Malaysia

April 13, 2011

There are many things I take for granted in Malaysia that may seem entirely foreign to other people. Small lizards in the bathroom; monkeys eating scraps thrown by passing motorists on the side of the road; drivers leaving windscreen wipers of their parked cars up to ensure the rubber doesn’t stick to the glass.

Monkeys near Sepang

Recently I had the opportunity to experience one of the more unique traditions that the Chinese population here has retained since their migration decades, and even centuries ago.

Contemporary mainland Chinese no longer practice the customs of their South-East Asian counterparts because of Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward of the late 1950s. A millennium of history was lost when China went through a radical transformation into what was meant to be a successful, ground-breaking agrarian utopia.

These days, many customs are kept alive by Malaysian-Chinese who still observe the tributary rituals and votive offerings to their ancestors. Every year, during a two-week period called Qing Ming (or Ching Ming), hordes of Chinese descend upon cemeteries to pray, place gifts and undertake an extensive clean-up of their families graves. This was one of the first things I did when I arrived.

On a typical cloudless noon under the blazing sun my Dad and I made our way under through the Sepang Chinese Cemetery. We crunched through the parched grass and burnt remains of previous offerings, interspersed with blooming frangipani trees that seemed impervious to their bleak surrounds. All around us were graves, ranging from expensive concrete mausoleums to unmarked mounds, neglected and forgotten since World War II. Fresh food, recent ashes and dug up earth were the only signs of human presence before us, by those who had got in early to tend to their filial obligations.

In a modest spot near the back of the cemetery under the shade of a neighbouring tree were the tombs of my adoptive great-grandparents. Lighting our wax-covered incense candles, we gingerly placed them in front of the ancestors’ headstones. Then we set about clearing the weeds and digging up surrounding soil to pile on top of the four foot tall mounds. The Chinese believe that the higher each grave is, the higher their descendants will rise in life.

As the sun beat down on us we laboured, shovelling clay and dirt, while I stopped occasionally to place fallen frangipanis onto the resting place of our forbearers. Special yellow-gold papers were scattered around the site and burnt in their honour; while trails of perspiration helped flecks of silver leaf and orange dye stain our hands. Pools of the body’s sweat provided some respite, while the novelty of carrying out this annual pilgrimage fuelled progress in the midst of flickering flames and midday heat. Clutching the smoky incense sticks, Dad prayed in Hokkien, his native Chinese dialect and introduced the deceased pair to the Western-born descendant they had never met.

Before long, the tenacity of the persistent rays grew unbearable. Our duties complete, we departed the place we had grown familiar with over the past hour. Imbued with a strong sense of satisfaction, I left with an invaluable insight into my heritage, and of the centuries-old practice of my people.


Update from KL

April 6, 2011

So these past few months have been interesting in the sense that I’ve gotten the ball rolling and made some pretty significant decisions. First off, I’m no longer going to Egypt. (Which is little creepy because I made this decision a few weeks before the Egyptian revolution).

Instead, I’m off on a month-long father-daughter trip to Nepal. We’ll be there for the Nepali New Year on 14 April 2011 – for them it’ll be the beginning of 2067. We’re also hoping to explore the Tsum valley – a restricted area to the central-north, near the Tibetan/Chinese border. They have a unique dialect and a very strong Buddhist culture which I’m pretty keen to see.

At the moment I’m in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I got here yesterday, after spending a few days in Singapore. It’s been great to see my extended family again and also a refreshing cultural change from New Zealand – despite the blistering heat. I’ve got a few interesting travel-related posts coming up, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, I wanted to draw your attention to the recent experiences of one of my favourite travel bloggers. Kate McCulley, author of AdventurousKate.com survived a shipwreck in Indonesia last week. This event was unique in the fact that a prolific blogger (at least in the travel community) was there to witness and document it all. You can read her first-hand account here.

History in the Making

January 30, 2011

Demonstrators at Tahir SquareIt’s just past 2.30am on Sunday morning and thanks to the likes of Twitter, CNN, Facebook and Al Jazeera, I feel as though I’m taking part in history. For those of you who’ve been living under a rock, the past 4-5 days have been the most important in Egypt’s recent history. The January 25th protests against Hosni Mubarak has seen neither a radical, fundamentalist nor extremist uprising, but an extremely powerful popular movement by the people, for the people.

The Egyptian protests have been inspired in part by the situation in neighbouring Tunisia and a complex myriad of  issues such as high unemployment rates, rising food prices, a brutal Police force, suppressive regime and extensive corruption; as well as outrage spurred by the self-immolation of the martyr-like Khaled Said. Gaining lightning-fast momentum thanks to social networking vehicles and a restless collective nation, this Egyptian revolution is to the Arab world what 9/11 was to the Western world.

The stockmarket has crashed and lost over $12billion, colleges and universities have postponed exams, the rich have evacuated in private jets.

But perhaps the most outrageous act so far in a country of over 82million people, was the government shutting down the internet and mobile phone networks in a nationwide bid to halt all communication and quell dissent. However, all this did was stroke the flames of international discontent and from then on pretty much every Egyptian embassy around the world has held or is holding some form of demonstration to oust the 30 year-old autocratic regime, or at least show solidarity to the Egyptian people in a time of revolt.

Egypt's internet traffic drop

Here are some of the highlights on Twitter from the past 14hours:

  • To Mubarak, denial IS just a river in #Egypt.
    via @sivavaid
  • Years ago they used to burn books to stop ideas from spreading. Today they block the internet. #egypt#jan25
    via @Egyptocracy
  • Egypt shuts Net to make protesting difficult; protesters steal police van batteries to make oppression difficult: http://j.mp/fdEHTI#jan25
    via @gregoryfoster
  • Egyptian Christians said they will guard the Muslims from the police while they on Friday Pray .. Amazing solidarity. #Egypt
    via @edsetiadi
  • BBC journalist arrested, electrocuted & beaten by Egyptian police. He’s interviewed afterward here: http://bbc.in/gy3PQf#egypt @jan25
    via @Lavrusik
  • World leaders must realize that they try and seal their country off from the world, but they can never seal the world off from their country
    via @Pres_Bartlet
  • THIS. IS. *HUGE* : Local police in #Cairo are taking off uniforms to battle #Egypt Army: #Jan25 is officially an insurgency against tyranny
    via @blogdiva
  • Mubarak: Old, weak, isolated, Egypt: Young, strong, legion. #Jan25#Egypt
    via @Gail_Fox_Thomas
  • OMG, Egyptian army secured Cairo’s famed antiquities museum and 40 police officers caught stealing ! #Egypt#Jan25#AliBaba
    via @SanaTawileh
  • Confirmed: Friday’s protests gathered around 1.1 Million protestors nationwide. #Jan25
    via @Elazul

Protesters march in Suez

Gigi Ibrahim (@Gsquare86) is on the ground in Cairo, a place that may now look like a warzone, but with citizens directing traffic and the amazingly patriotic energy of a people united under a common cause.

Demonstrator kisses PoliceTo the people of Egypt,

Thank you for restoring my faith in humanity.

Yours sincerely,

Jessica Soon

x

So where to from here?

December 6, 2010

I’ve just finished uni for good (graduation is next Friday!) so during these summer holidays I’ll be getting rid of most of my junk (I’m determined to kick the hoarding habit), as well as working to save every cent I can for next year.

I won’t be looking for a job in NZ like most of my fellow recent graduates in my situation, because I’ve got itchy feet.

http://www.swiftpassport.com/blog/?p=465

I’ve been saving up for this very moment and am now able to fund about 4 months of straight travel (albeit on a budget) until I start working to break even/make ends meet. I’ve booked a one-way flight to Singapore, leaving on 31 March ’11. The plan is to visit family in S’pore and M’sia, then fly to Cairo for a Contiki of Egypt and the Nile. I’ve always held a fascination with pharaonic Egypt and what better time to experience both old and new than next year, when I’m pretty much commitment-free and relatively unrestrained from the time/money paradox.

http://www.rhinocarhire.com/Car-Hire/Egypt-Car-Hire.aspx

This will be my first time outside of the South-East Asia/Pacific region as well as my first solo trip and extended time away from NZ. So why did i choose North Africa/the Middle East?

Because I want to experience something completely different from what I call the norm. This is the beginning of a new chapter in my life and I think it’s time to challenge myself and start learning outside of the classroom. Sure I sound confident but no doubt I will be distraught, homesick, scammed and mostly scared shitless. However, I truly believe the amazing experiences will be worth all the downsides and struggles I will come across on this journey. I’m still unsure of where I’m headed after Egypt, but at the moment Turkey is definitely on the cards.

Istanbul

To anyone who has visited my blog, thanks for stopping by and for those who have stuck with my erraticism and lack of niche, stick around – there is plenty more to come :)

Oh, and just in case you didn’t already know, Aisha got a new nose! Check it out.

Aisha

Beautiful Bones

November 24, 2010

Jessica Soon "Beautiful Bones"

Beautiful Bones is a digitally printed textile collection designed by Jessica Soon.

Capturing the celebration of the richness of life, this textile collection is inspired by the vibrancy of Mexican Dia de los Muertos (Day of the dead) festivities and the whimsical folk-art of Alfonso Castillo Orta.

As an amalgamation of digital printing and freehand machine embroidery, Beautiful bones pays homage to artisanal tradition and embraces the balance between machine vs. hand-made.

Creative processes involve hand-drawing repeat patterns, digital manipulation through Photoshop, fabric printing with internet-based company Spoonflower, then re-working designs using machine embroidery to add the final heightened level of detail.

Jessica Soon "Beautiful Bones" - Sirenas gold

Jessica Soon "Beautiful Bones" - Cenotes Azure

Jessica Soon "Beautiful Bones" - Flor de Muertos

Jessica Soon "Beautiful Bones" - Fiesta Gold

Jessica Soon "Beautiful Bones" - Cenotes Cerulean

Jessica Soon "Beautiful Bones" - Viva la Vida

Jessica Soon "Beautiful Bones" - Sirenas Lilac

Jessica Soon "Beautiful Bones"

AgResearch at NZFW 2010

November 22, 2010

AgResearch, a New Zealand agricultural research & design organisation, are best known in the fashion industry for developing revolutionary and innovative textiles for the commercial sector. Every year they collaborate with some NZ fashion designers, who each create a capsule collection using 4 profiled fabrics and put on a runway show at Fashion Week.

Stitch Ministry for AgResearch at NZFW 2010

One of the most exciting things I experienced this year was watching some of my work on the runway. I had been interning with Stitch Ministry, and developed a macramé backpiece prototype that went into production during the middle of this year. The model comes in at 6:21.

Stitch Ministry for AgResearch at NZFW 2010

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