Friday, June 26, 2015


what is space and time to you ?

Cool Vibes in Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam

Sometime in March earlier this year (2015), Pandamopi and I travelled to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), Viet Nam. It was a good short trip to recharge and to explore something new. We have a passion to discover new place with new environment, culture and of course food!

The weather was pretty hot, but the city planning was good. We stayed in 3 star hotel -- Blue Diamond Hotel which was in a good location. It is pretty near to Ben Thanh Market. We walked most of the time and skipped public transports as we are big believers in walking. Walking is the best way to explore and enjoy the city.

One of my favorite museum in HCMC is HCM Fine Art Museum - -Bảo tàng Mỹ Thuật TpHCM, located at 97 Phó Đức Chính Nguyễn Thái Bình, Hồ Chí Minh Vietnam‎.

The architecture of this museum is unique. This delightful building which so harmoniously combines oriental and western architecture was designe by the French architect, Rivera, in 1929. It was completed in 1934 for the son of a successful emigrant named Hua Bon Hoa, from Fujian in China. The building was both home and place of business for Tang Huon Hua Bon Hoa, the eldest son, who as head of the family had continued the successfulness of his father's loan and building development company.

In many ways, it is a truly appealing structure because of its cross cultural inheritance of the Chinese and French development of the large family Town House. Opening onto the and overlooking an internal courtyard from various large and small sheltered porticos and windos, it has the liveability of a large town house, but is not wihout a level of the grandiose, with its external front and rear covered entrances which are spectacular without being too grand.

As a whole the building soards gracefully to its fully vaulted eaves which provides a fine basis for its many ceramic tiled roofs which cap and accentuate the stepping in and out of the walls and porches. The overhanging eaves with its basis in Asis, provides both shade and shelter from thepial sun and downpour events which are so muchart of this City of Saigon.

The blue and yellow render finish of the building captures the liveliness of the period when Saigon was emerging as a modern Asian city of the twentieth century and when the street address was 97 Rue d'Alsace Lorraine, and when this new building's three floors were surmounted by an elevator, the first in the city, whose wire grill doors opened on to wide, airy and well lit randah like hallways, off which the many rooms of the house opened r look the pleasant and sizeable interior courtyard.

In many ways, still in original pristine condition, this heritage building deserves to be occupied by the Fine Arts Museum Department which it has done since 1986 and which will assure that it remains a City Icon.

Reference : Signage in front of the musuem.

Something worth mentioning in Viet nam is the typology of seatings in cafe or local street stalls. It is of low levels -- the furnitures are remarkably cute due to its size. The tables and stools are small, making it an interesting sight. Vietnamese are generally very friendly and laid back. We especially love local food like pho, bun cha and cafe sua da (vietnamese iced coffee -- it is addictively delicious).

I don't generally love coffee but cafe sua da is definitely good because i love it!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

a test to be patient before blasting off

It is easier said than done. Being patient a midst unfavorable condition is challenging. Keeping calm a midst chaos by just stopping all the busy thoughts and dramas in our minds in this hustle and bustle requires effort.

As I entered the office this morning, it was unusually warm. I was already perspiring from walking to the office and now the air-conditioning is not working. My first reaction was feeling pissed-off. It was only early in the morning and to think of working in a stuffy environment for the rest of the day appalled me. As far as I remembered, this was perhaps the 5th time the air-condition broke down in our office ever since we moved to this new office and today was no exception and I didn't like that. But what could we do ? The management informed us that the air-conditioning system is down and would not be working for the rest of the day. The only measure done was that they provided a giant industrial fan to ventilate the office. The blade was huge enough to produce strong HOT air, but it is inevitably noisy.

Being restless, I tried to find some calmness in this high temperature. Being hot and humid is the least thing I desire. It is difficult. My husband knew the fact that I didn't like hot and humid environment. At home, at least we could adjust ourselves to our desired thermal comfort level by putting on more blankets, lower down fan speed, increase temperature of the air-conditioning etc. Now that we are in the office and there the air-conditioning is not functioning, this is the real test of patience now, and it is a test for me to be patient before blasting off.

Thankfully, I tried to divert my attention to something else by not focusing on the stuffiness of the office. I got my sketchbook out and sketched my neighboring colleague who changed into a sport singlet because he was literally cooking in his working wear. Now it is a record in my sketchbook that today is the day the air-con broke down again but it wasn't the end of the world.

The giant industrial fan, Vistar, was sent to our office to rescue us. Here is a sketch of Vistar who worked hard for the day. I hope you don't need to work again tomorrow because I want the air-conditioning back!

dream catcher

I am fascinated by dreamcatcher lately, probably because deep inside my heart I have a dream, but the dream seem so faraway and impossible. Perhaps I wanted something to keep on reminding that the dream is there, right there and no evil force could touch or stop it. And i thought of dreamcatcher, and later on read more about it. Dream catcher was thought to be formed like a web, which is in a perfect circle with a hole in the centre. It is used to help people reach goals, make good use of their ideas, dream s and vision..and if you believe the great vibes, the web will filter your good ideas and the bad ones will be trapped and will not pass.

This vision was passed on to many people and now many Indian people have dreamcatchers above their bed to sift dreams and vision. The good dreams will pass through the centre hole to the sleeping person. The evil in their dreams are captured in the web, where they will perish and evaporated in the light of the morning sun. It is believed that dreamcatcher holds the destiny of the future.

As secular as it may sound, I felt that there is something that we could learn from it. Naturally, we would very much want to protect our dreams from bad vibes. We want to believe that something that help us to fend our dreams from bad vibes that would perish in the morning sun ray. While we would sometimes create some objects to help us believe that, like in this case a dream catcher, I would like to think that God is our dreamcatcher.

We all need a childlike heart, to believe that miracles do happen and there is indeed magical moments. Current environment may strip off any possible magical moments you could ever expect or think of, but be still and and know that the Lord is in control of everything, magical moments may happen later, today, if not, maybe tomorrow. You just have to have the courage to make wise choices and the patience to wait.

Dreams is such an amazing word.
It doesn't matter how long it takes to fulfill your dream, all that matters is that you have one." - Melanie Moushigian Koulouris

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


Free spirit are inclined to explore life and taste new experiences that hold true to the deepest parts of themselves versus being influenced by what the masses around them are doing. They are often people who think freely and have the courage to hear their own voice and follow their own integrity.

Life is short. Just a reminder to myself to stop focusing on the wrong thing and voice. Focus on God and all the amazing things, do things that makes your soul happy, love the people you love whole-heartedly, love life, be good. Leave the rest behind.

Be free. Like the birds.

about dreams & courage

Sometimes I imagine that we are living in another country, enjoying the difference of lifestyle - the climate, people, scenery and adventure.

My heart is small but I have a big dream. The problem is that I have no courage to pursue it and before i knew it, time flies.

Musing on 07 May 2015.

Storey from my sketchbook : Stranger in my own hometown, Kuching

In Malay words, Kucing (without the 'h') is a word for cat. Cats are gentle and graceful by nature. Soft-spoken and lovely. Kuchingites are happy and contented people. They take time to savour life and moments. There is something about the smiles of Kuching people, pure and comes from the heart.

Having working outside from Kuching for a long time, I truly miss the vibes. Time passed and life in Kuching goes on without me. I have been away for more than 7 years and sadly, I sometimes feel like a stranger back in my own hometown. Some things just look familiar yet strange to me. Some roads are still the same yet not quite the same. There are new food inventions that I don't remember having it when I was still growing up in Kuching. My classmates are embarking into parenthood. Conversation topics now revolving around children. Perhaps I got used to the hustle and bustle of city life, the laid back life in Kuching made me felt I have so much more time and space. Above all that, Kuching is still the old charming city. It taught you that the lifestyle can be slow but we still get things done fashionably well without sacrificing the soul factor. It is hard not to fell in love with this small city.

As the night is getting late, I can't help but reminiscing and thinking how my friends and family back there are doing. You know i miss you, i really do. I just want to rest on your comforting fur and forget about bustling cities and never-ending timelines.

Hello Kuching, how are you today ?
I hope all is well.
& hopefully I will be back for you again, soon.

Stories from my sketchbook : Yard behind my house

As I was documenting some of my earlier sketch works, it felt like I was walking down the memory lane, revisiting different moment at different time and place. It is a special feeling because the emotion attachment is stronger than photos. It is a record of you being there at that time, cherishing the moments, painting and penning down thoughts. I'm a big believer that sketch could only done when you feel like it (in my case). The moment could be very ordinary or special, but it has the effect that makes you want to sketch and pen it down and express yourself. The yard beside the kitchen in my house in Kuching is ordinary, but it has a special feeling, probably it reminds me of the image of my dog pooping at that area, the space is also where we always dry our clothes, dad weeding the backyard..etc. Earlier, dad also took extra effort to paved the yard with pavement brick so that it would not be muddy during the rain. The fact that I came back once in a while, a simple backyard sparked off many thoughts and reflection. The yard continues to be the space for daily activities for dad, mom, David (my younger brother) and our dog during my absense.

My parents love gardening. We have pepper plant, curry leave tree, and a Spondias Dulcis tree which we locally called it buah kedondong, ampula, ampra or mangkolong. The fact that the yard was not perfectly landscaped makes me love it even more because I realise that in life, we don't need everything perfect to make us happy. Happiness is when people and things exist just the way it is and that makes each and everyone of us special in our own way.

Journal sketchbook from Kim

A year ago, my dear friend, Kim whom Pandamopi and i met in Perth sent me beautiful sketchbook by snail mail. The cover of the sketchbook was handpainted. When I received it in my mail box, I was very excited (because i love snail mail) and touched to received this from her, knowing my love and passion for sketching. Today I realised that it has been a year! Time flies..

Got a nice message from Kim in the sketchbook and the next page is my first entry. It was an attempt to bake a flourless chocolate orange cake but it was not as successful as it could be because i forgot to add in soda bicarbonate. Nevertheless, the flavour was nice.

Baking is nearly impossible in Singapore as I have only a small toaster oven here in my rented apartment and my cake always got burnt on top. Something interesting about change of emotion during baking : you got really excited on the idea of baking, feeling fun when shopping for ingredients, being careful and as accurate as you can be hoping that the cake would be successful, feeling like a pro as you mix the batter and pour into a baking tray and then there is a sense of anticipation and achievement as you send the baking tray filled with the batter into the oven. The process don't end there. The beautiful aroma of the cake would make you smile and you cant wait to share the cake as soon as it is ready. When you hear a crisp "ding" from the oven, the cake is ready. Crispy on top, moist in the inside. And as you run your knives around the cake in the tray and place on top of baking cooling rack, you felt happy and you are subconsciously beaming with smile. When the cake is cooler, once again you run the knive carefully, cutting the cake in beautiful grids and found the cake texture is what you desire. And as you taste the glorious taste, you cant help but feeling you have done something super!

So when I realised my cake could not rise because I totally forgot about soda bicarbonate, I was a bit disappointed because all my imagination did not come true. The cake was not successful and I felt sorry for wasting the ingredients but later on I acknowledge that as part of a learning process. Afterall, making mistakes is part of growing and learning.

Lesson learn when baking next time : not to rush things out. Keep calm, follow the steps and bake!

Happy Birthday, Manveer!

This card is specially for a British Punjab friend, Manveer who celebrated his 24th birthday in Singapore:) About 20+ of us filled the card with best wishes.

When I was brainstorming the card, I was inspired to try another style which is inspire by the artist for Roald Dahl story books, Sir Quentin Blake. Rocio, one of our friend suggested us to dress in Punjabi attire for his Korean BBQ Birthday BBQ so I thought I could paint something of us in Punjabi attire, holding a huge cake, celebrating with him while he had to climb up to the top of the ladder to blow the candles and make a wish.

thank you, dad

We were I remember those good old days when my dad used to read us story books and put us to sleep when we were not so fond of darkness. Then, much later when we were around 5-6 years old, when we became much braver, he would bought cassettes with stories so that we could listen to bible stories before bed. He would pray and put blanket on us, kiss us good night and then switch off the light. Before we knew it, we were sleeping peacefully, believing that angels and God is out there at the window, watching us sleep and that darkness has no harm on us.

Bedtime stories moments is always very heart-warming. Flipping books together, read along with papa and mama, asking curious questions, bedtime lullabies…those priceless moments that we would probably revisit again when we became parents ourselves.

Like father like son

I saw a picture of a cute baby cat imitating another big cat in one of the video on line and it reminded me of how I liked to copy my parents when I was growing up.

We spent most of our childhood observing our parents and attempting to be like them. Often little boys copy their daddy and little girls model their mothers.
I remember looking at my dad’s skill in carpentry and thought he was a hero because he could make a stool out of wood planks. My dad has very nice handwritings and I kept practice and imitate him so that I could have the same handwriting as his.

I admired my mom’s curly hair and thought she was the most beautiful lady I have ever known.
When we were young and has very little exposure on how the outside world look like, our parents are our hero. At some point, I asked mom to sew a dress using the same fabric as hers so that I could look as pretty as her. I also remember asking her to bring me to the hairdresser to have my hair permed so that I look like her.

Today as we look back, we probably realised that we are the product of our parents. We do resemble them in one way or another, be it obvious or not. And when we grew up old enough to have kids, we realised that we are becoming our parents and our children are starting to imitate us. It’s a fascinating process. Like father like son, like mother like daughter. (hopefully in a good way!)

Celebrate the journey

Marriage is not the end of love, as some might say. Instead, it is the very beginning of an incredible journey.

Anniversary :D

what was your first impression on me ?

Trying to bring out a little mischievousness between couples who had been together by reliving some old memories of how they met and leave the first impression to each other :D

You don't need to be serious all the time, a little playful and jokes will make you feel happier and relax.

If you like my work, I could work out something special for you at a minimal charge :D

Love in Kombi

Every love story is beautiful, but ours is my favorite.

Musing behind the art : Driving as a couple in a passion red Kombi in the woods is probably the sweetest moment. Just us - you & me.

Perfect as a gift card to friends or family who is getting married, especially if he/she loves vintage & woods. It can also be an anniversary card to remind each other of the beautiful date when you said the vow :)

Just Keep Going

It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.

A simple card to share his/her happiness upon achieving a milestone or to simply encourage him/her to keep moving on in life. Story behind this piece art - the vintage combi keeps traveling on the road from a destination to another, discovering new things in life. The days could only get better when one keeps moving and maintain good vibes and positive state of mind. Made of high quality aquarelle water colour paper and hand painted with water colour. Comes with a bright red envelope.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Üsküdar--Cinaralti, Çengelköy--İstiklâl Caddesi

Our second last day was spent with our new found friends, Hasanali Atalay from Ankara, Turkey and Pablo Gaspar from Portugal via Mesa de Español, in Istanbul earlier. Our random chat about the city and passion for sketching gave Ali the idea of showing us to less touristy part of Istanbul. We had a great time exploring the other part of Istanbul (eastern part of Istanbul). The view is breathtaking as usual. I cannot imagine how it feels like to work in this city, mesmerized again and again by the beauty of city. Only the local would know.

Best borek in Istanbul

Ali brought us to Cinaralti, Çengelköy to have the best borek with çay. There were no tourists, only local eating in this simple cafe yet overlooking the most stunning view. I quickly took out my sketchbook and sketch the beautiful bridge overlooking Bosphorus River while enjoying delicious borek with cay. Life could not be better this way.
We took public water transport back to Western part of Istanbul. The idea is to have the best coffee in Mandabatmaz Cafe, tucked in a secret corner in İstiklâl Caddesi. Not only we had great coffee, we had great conversation which we would be remembering it for a very long time.
On our way back to Karakoy
Sketched this while waiting Paulo to fetch João.
Thanks for the precious time and friendship.
Till we meet again!

Boat Cruise @Bosphorus River

One of the best way to get to know Istanbul in a short span of time is to go for a Boat Cruise at Bosphorus River. There were many random locals that went around selling tickets and recommending this boat cruise but we were only convinced to go for it after speaking to local friends whom we newly met in Mesa de Español, a couch surfing event. This is undoubtedly a great decision as we thoroughly enjoy the cruise. One tip before you sign up for this cruise is that you would only enjoy if you are interested in architecture and history. We were so blessed and lucky as a senior Turkish couple who queued before us at the ticket counter handed us a special ticket that entitled us to full boat cruise journey at half the price. She was unable to speak English but she tried her best to communicate with us using sign language. Such is the helpful spirit which we found almost everywhere in Istanbul. As we were very interested in knowing this beautiful city, we rented the audio and it was very helpful. The audio act as a tour guide, telling histories of the place and buildings. It was like an interesting live history lesson.

Sketched the view below, overlooking Galata Bridge before the boat left the port.

The boat cruise stopped at the last point called Anadolu Kavagi, where we could alighted from the boat and explored for 2 hours. We walked and made our way up to Kalesi Castle. We almost gave up halfway as we were a little hungry and exhausted but thankfully we did not. It was all worth it. The view is beautiful.

A lonely dog at Kalesi Castle, Anadolu Kavagi
We had a brief brunch at one of the restaurant overlooking the sea. The seafood tasted great. Not long after, we boarded the boat cruise, ready to cruise back to Karakoy. While waiting for the boat to depart from Anadolu Kavagi, I looked out the window and sketch this beautiful sight of daily activities of men fixing fish net on the boat.

Süleymaniye Mosque

There are many heritage architecture in Istanbul that is not to be missed :Hagia Sophia, Sultan Ahmed Mosque (more popularly known as Blue Mosque), Basilica Cistern and the list goes on and on. One of favorite mosque in Istanbul is Suleymaniye Mosque. It is less touristy but equally beautiful and mesmerizing. The surrounding of the mosque is tranquil and peaceful. I found a spot where I sketched this beautiful mosque. Lovely time taking the time as slow as I could and upholding the spirit of sketching.

Interior view featuring the prayer area. To respect their culture and custom, we removed our shoes and also dressed modestly (eg with scarf drapped over head).

Rock Formation near Goreme, Cappadocia

Cappadocia is mainly famous for its hot air balloon industry and trekking.
There were too many sites to visit but we had very limited time and money to do everything as much as we wish so. Alas, we chose to have a taste of trekking in Cappadocia and the destination we chose is Rose Valley.

It is indeed interesting to know why the beautiful land is called Cappadocia (the local called it Kapadokya). Apparently, Cappadocia’s old Persian name is Katpatuka, which possibly means “the land/country of beautiful horses.” Some sources says that “Cappadocia” could also come from the Luwian language which means “Low Country.”

The trekking journey can be challenging as the sand is pretty loose and we did not equipped ourselves with walking guide. It was a great experience as we depend on each other to go through various obstacles. Venturing together into the unknown together is exciting. There is always a mix of uncertainty and excitement.

We rested a bit and I took the opportunity to have a quick sketch on some interesting rock formation in front of me. Serene and tranquil, that is the mode of that particular moment. No urgency, no appointments, no time to catch.
Halfway to Rose Valley
As soon as we reached Rose Valley, we felt a tremendous sense of achievement as we looked back how far we got. We made it because we did it together. It was exciting because we trekked this place together. We got a bit lost on our way home but we enjoyed walking back miles over miles. There was some moments where we were just silent, just enjoying the journey as the sun kissed our skin. We shared one MP3 player listening to the same music as we trotted our way back. The feeling of being comfortable with being silent and yet still enjoying the sacred moment of trekking together is beautiful. We didn’t need to say much, but we felt the same thing.
Our stay in Goreme was brief. On the last day in Goreme, Cappadocia, we were a little emotional as we knew that the magical moments in Cappadocia will exist only in the form of memory from now on. As we were waiting for our shuttle to the airport, I looked out the window from a small waiting room in Sato Cave Hotel and sketched the last view in front of me. So long, Cappadocia! Thank you for the great time and memories. 
You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place…

the magical cappadocia

We made our way to Cappadocia on 11 May 2015 and stayed there until 13 May 2015, using local domestic airline – Pegasus. My husband, Pandamopi was not fully recovered from fever and flu yet then. We checked in a cafe hotel – Sato Cave Hotel in Goreme.

If there is a word to describe Cappadocia, it has to be magical. Every moment in Cappadocia is precious. The nature has overwhelmed us again and again as we trotted from one site to another.

The weather was sunny as we made our way to Open Air Museum in Goreme. A precious tip we got from TripAdvisor is to bring sunnies and hat as the sun was too bright. Nonetheless, the sight of the rock formation took our breath away. We never thought this place existed.

One of the things not to be missed beside hot air balloon is to catch sunset. We trotted to Goreme Sunset Point to catch the sunset. No words could probably describe how beautiful the sight is unless you are there.
Husband pandamopi does not sketch as much but he loves photography.