August 1, 2011
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.
Secondly, I’ll be relocating to my new personal design-based website where I’ll be sharing heaps more ideas, images and inspiration.
Hope to see you there!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 :)
November 24, 2010
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.
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.
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.