* written on 21st August 2014 *
I had one of the most riveting conversations with a kindred spirit this afternoon.
When I was in Seminyak, Bali; I thought of a friend I have living here – Rachel. We’re not very close, despite having known each other by being at the same parties almost a decade back. But I felt like I could talk to the girl. So I whatsapped her to meet up, and she took me to her fave hang out spot on Jalan Laksamana in Oberoi, called La Favela. An unassuming hidey hole from the oustide, you enter via a wooden walkway filled with lights and foliage into an unknowingly massive establishment.
It was like a hidden wonderland of a restaurant and bar, divided into many oddly-shaped sections filled with antiquities and oddities of a time from long ago. Chandeliers, lots of plants and flowers and trees everywhere, a pond in the middle under the sky, a bathroom with a lounge area and art all over the walls (and there are many walls!).
The place was packed, and it was a Monday night. We managed to find a table where we had a bottle of red wine. A couple of people stopped by the table separately to say hi to Rachel and chat. They both worked at La Favela – Luigi and Iman.
Next day, I rushed through my work so i could have Rachel come over in the evening to enjoy the pool villa and chill with me. In the middle of our conversation, she mentioned that Iman, who was the resident art director at La Favela, was dropping by to pass something.
We went downstairs to meet him and TS Suites is such a mighty space we had trouble finding him. We finally found each other in the courtyard and he shyly held up a rolled up canvas to me.
I was like, “Whatttttt” and put my beer down on the ground to open it slowly with both hands.
It was an art piece… of me! In blue! I was just so shocked and delighted… noone had ever painted a pic of me before! Wait, has anyone? *scanned bad memory* Well not that I can recall!
It’s awesome and definitely going up on a prominent wall in my upcoming home. I gave Iman a big hug and thanked him. But I think I said “oh my god” more than “thank you”. He then left cos he was going elsewhere, and I still couldn’t believe how someone was so sweet to just do a picture of me like that!
Rachel was all I don’t know what fairy magic dust you sprinkled on him, he won’t even do one of us, and he just met you briefly yesterday.
I was just so taken aback in happiness! I even hugged myself and swayed my body from left to right cos I was buzzing from feeling so good! My heart totally expanded from the love!
When I realised that I was to stay in Bali for another day cos I accidentally bought my flight for 24 hours later, I was thinking if there was anyone I’d like to meet and I thought of Iman. I mean, I barely spoke to the guy and he gave me such a cool present, I wanted to get to know him better.
So I planned to work that night and in the morning, then see him for lunch and return to work in the afternoon and evening before my flight. We decided on La Favela cos it was where he said he’s most comfortable and I agreed, wanting to see what it looked like in the daytime and try the food.
The place looked even more awesome in the presence of sunlight and I realised how many details I’d missed seeing.
One of the first pieces Iman did for La Favela.
Iman introduced me to his boss, and the chef Marco, who spoiled us by sending out more food in addition to the tuna carpaccio and salad I ordered.
Ah the food was really good! I ate till i couldn’t stuff myself anymore.
I’d totally recommend you to eat there!
When we sat down at a table in the garden, Iman said, “I have a present for you,” and I was like, “Whattttt” and he produced another rolled up canvas.
It was one of a tiny My Little Pony, that I’d given to him as a token which was already in my bag when he’d surprised me the day before. I was like, “Oh Imannnn nooooo!!!”
What have I done to deserve such love! #HeartExpandsEvenMore
I showed him the tattoo I have of Rainbow Dash on my ankle to exemplify just how MUCH I LOVE the magical ponies, and he said that the tiny colourful things have inspired him.
I feel like it usually takes a while to delve into meaningful conversation when you first talk to someone new, but for us, we dived right in.
We spoke about lovers from our past lives,
lucid dreaming, past life regression,
creative work and phases we’ve experimented with,
past relationships, running away from home,
having premonitions about Bali,
serving prison time (“you’re such a bad boy!” I exclaimed),
clearing spiritual blocks that prevented growth,
and other stories involving Balinese princesses, wolves, doppelgängers,
and experiences of a spiritual realm.
There were so many moments when i had goosebumps all over my face and body!
Iman himself is such an interesting person (obviously) who seems to have lived different lives in one lifetime. In a way, he has, cos he formerly had another identity before legally recreating himself a new one.
What makes him so fascinating is his openness about journeying through life and embracing every experience along the way. He tells his stories in an honest and unpretentious manner with humourous resignation thrown in for those with a less-than-happy ending.
He used to be an assistant chef in Singapore, quite by accident, when someone didn’t turn up for work one day. Offering to cook a dish or two, the head chef tasted it, liked it and appointed him new assistant chef.
Most of his life was spent in the music industry, when he took on the moniker Electrofux for 20 years. When he had transitioned into putting his art on the streets (after being inspired by his late friend and fellow artist Quint), he turned his nickname around, and Xuf came to be. Xuf had been brandishing the public walls of Bali with his stencil art when it got noticed by the boss of La Favela, who hired him to be its resident artist.
Some people say that Iman sold out by shifting to work on an establishment’s walls instead of the street, but the beautiful reality is that he’s created a world for himself where he’s paid to experiment with art, every single day. He gets to work on whatever he wants, and all his bills for materials are covered for by the restaurant (which i know can cost a lot). He gets to do what he loves daily and get paid for it. How cool is that! That’s pretty much an artist’s dream. He could make a fortune selling his art to people but he’s not bothered.
“I don’t earn much but I don’t need it. Money can be found anywhere. What I want is to work on my art.”
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I’ve had a really amazing week traveling around Bali with my parents.
We spent 2 days in Ubud, then moved up North to stay in Lovina for 2 days,
then back down to Seminyak for another 2 days.
It’s my mum’s first time in Bali, and she went mad taking hundreds of pictures cos she loves nature so. My dad has been enjoying the shopping and babi guling.
Some pretty amazing stuff has happened to me too, without me expecting it (but that’s when the best happens innit, when you have no expectations).
- meeting Arif by pure chance and was stunned when i found out he’s one of the most sought-after yogis in Ubud. I had a one-on-one meditation session and learnt life lessons from him that made me laugh and cry for over an hour, while we were perched in the most beautiful teak yoga pavilion set amidst the treetops in Kamandalu
- being in an AMAZING rainbow circle as i waded out into the cold waterfall in Gigit. I stood in awe right in the middle of it, not believing my eyes! It disappeared just as suddenly as it came!
- my dad invited this Balinese wood carver from Lovina to join us for dinner one night and it was perfect. The restaurant and food were amazing, and Made made us laugh so much. We exchanged numbers, hugged and i feel like i found an older brother. Now i have to return there to visit him!
- Rachel of Tanks & Kinis layaned me proper and took me to her fave spot, La Favela. I met the owner Luigi and resident art director Iman, and, for some crazy reason, Iman did one of his signature stencil artworks to give to me. I was floored. I am honored!
So many big and small wonderful moments happened too, but i’ll leave those stories for when i put all my pictures together!
Earlier this afternoon, i spent almost an hour gently packing all this shopping my parents and i did into my Rimowa, we said bye to our 2-bedroom sky pool villa at TS Suites, and headed to the airport to catch our flight home.
As we were checking in our bags, the counter lady said that there wasn’t a record of my name on the flight and i was super calm while getting her to check again. Turns out i bought the WRONG date of my flight home cos my parents are touching down after midnight and i referred to the landing date (21st) instead of departure date (20th).
The stupid thing is… when i was buying my tickets and referring to the flight times i’d booked for them months prior, i REMEMBER THINKING to myself, “God, better check the dates properly cos it’d be so dumb if i booked the wrong flight.”
AND I STILL MANAGED TO.
I have nothing to say to myself.
My parents were a bit distraught and wanted to buy me a flight home with them but it cost RM900 and i just couldn’t bring myself to waste money for something like THAT. I actually felt MORE upset when they offered to do it cos if i wouldn’t pay something for myself, i don’t want them to either.
I felt it made more sense to book myself into another hotel for one more night, and stay in Bali till my REAL flight home 24 hours later. I’d probably get more real work and writing done without the distractions of being back in the office too. After assuring them i’d be ALRIGHT and it was meant to be; i exited the departure area, sat on the airport floor and booked a cheap room on agoda for RM120 at Bliss Surfer Hotel. It’s contemporary, clean and rated 8.2/10.
So yeah, here i am… still in Bali!
I figured since i’m here, i might as well make the most of it, and messaged Iman on whether he wants to have lunch tomorrow. He said he’ll take me on a proper tour of La Favela, so i plan to wake up for The Big Life at 9am GST (6pm PST), quick breakfast, get work done, lunch and hang out with Iman, work till flight, work on flight, home.
Admittedly, it feels good to have a surprise extra day in Bali.
I will never say no to Bali.
This is gonna be a real picture-heavy post cos i took so many pictures on this ONE day itself!
I only had 3D/3N in Jeju, thinking it would be enough, but it’s NOT. I would recommend you to visit Jeju at least ONCE in your life cos it’s so breathtakingly beautiful, i was practically screaming in my head by myself the whole time (cos i was traveling alone).
No, but seriously. It’s a great place for a holiday with family/friends, cos it’s got so much awesome nature! Unless you hate nature. Which would be… strange.
Tips for traveling in Jeju:
- Stay for at least 5 days. A week to 10 days would be best so you don’t rush around like cray and still not get enough. I’d suggest staying on the East side of Jeju for half your stay, before moving to the West.
- Get an international driver’s license and share a car with 3 more friends (so going in a group of 4 is ideal, cost-wise). Me hiring a taxi for a whole day cost USD150. And you would WANT to have a car cos everything is quite far in between and you’d want to stop by diff spots marked out on a map and take your time without succumbing to that of a tour (plus you might be forced to see stuff you’re not interested in). Renting a car to drive costs much less.
- Use Airbnb like i did, and stay with the locals so you get a sweeter experience. I make my choice based on the reviews, so spending 2 mins reading them helps heaps.
I chose these spots to visit that particular day cos they were so kindly marked out on the map for me by a couple of Korean girls staying at the same B&B. I went there with minimal knowledge of which places to visit, but it all worked out well. I think i managed to visit some of the most pretty places on my trip. (I want to go back tho… SO MUCH i have yet to see!)
I was picked up from my B&B by a taxi driver called Mr. Kim (many of them go by Kim) and we headed to the temple on Mount Sanbang.
Mount Sanbang is the only mountain on Jeju that doesn’t have a crater, and is said to be the top of Mount Halla (a shield volcano in the centre of Jeju and the highest in South Korea). Legend has it that when a hunter tried to shoot a white deer on Mt. Halla, he missed and his arrow hit the mountain and consequently, the Halla spirit instead. Enraged, the Halla spirit ripped the top of its peak to throw at the hunter, where it fell near the coast.
Jeju is filled with legends like this! Love it.
You can see a memorial in the form of a ship just off shore, that was built to commemorate a Dutch sailor who was shipwrecked on the island in the 1600s. He later went home to write the first book (in a European language) on Korea.
The temple on Mount Sanbang is famous for the only cave shrine in Jeju, which is a short hike further up.
Because i was alone, i would take my time staring and absorbing the details on doors and knobs and walls and paintings and carvings… before wondering if i was taking TOO long and start running down the hill much later on :p
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The six of us haven’t had a holiday together since January for Cammy’s birthday at Dusun. Now that Serena has popped and we can all travel (via land) together again, we headed to Clearwater in Batu Gajah for 2 nights. Matt and Serena gave the rest of us a free night’s stay there for our Christmas present last year
My attempt to snack healthy on the way there. Wrapping tomatoes and cucumber in basil leaves wasn’t a bad idea! Of course this whole ‘eating healthy’ plan got shot to hell once the holiday started :p
My denim shorts are from Levi’s latest collection, I keep on wearing them cos they’re so soft and comfy!
Our room was really nice for RM200/night! (with air con and hot water)
Clearwater is a golf resort that celebrated its heyday back in the day… and it’s got beautiful surroundings by a lake so you can fish and play golf. You just can’t expect much from the service there cos it’s extremely basic.
You can see what i mean by beautiful surroundings, but furniture in the restaurant is kinda old.
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This week has been challenging in the sense that i’ve barely even had time to feed myself properly (which is bad) but it’s okay cos i rarely do this.
Monday: i had lunch at 2pm, dinner at 10pm then worked till 2am
Tuesday: i had lunch at 3:30pm (i felt so faint i made a beeline to food and nothing else), dinner at 8:30pm, then slept at 3am (my fault for going out till late)
Wednesday: i had half a noodle soup at a 10am meeting, then snacked on slices from half a zucchini at 1:30pm while driving to a shoot. Quite sad right. I just really didn’t have the time to eat!!! Luckily Adam was so nice to get a group of us food from the Bangsar Ramadhan market for dinner which i dug into like an animal at 8pm.
I am so tired that i was in bed by 10pm! But i’m still awake… blogging this post cos i know tomorrow is another jam-packed day, so i better do this now before it adds on to my ever-growing To-Blog List.
Today was by far the most tiring but FUNNEST SHOOT EVAAAAAA!!!
Photographer Vincent Paul Yong was to shoot me for a Levi’s campaign,
and i picked Jump Street Asia as the location cos i thought mid-air shots would be so cool.
Plus just BEING on a trampoline is so much fun… the last time i was on one was 4 years ago in Surrey with Yishyene!
Jump Street Asia is the first trampoline park in Malaysia, and is right behind the Robert Bosch building down the road from Jaya One in PJ. It’s in a massive warehouse and has lots of different trampoline activity areas like Dodgeball, Basketball, Free Jumping Areas, The Foam Pit, The Cage, and The Wall. Find out more on www.jumpstreetasia.com.
Thanks so much to Duncan for granting us permission to shoot,
giving us a personal lesson and providing his staff to take real good care of us!!!
Laine Wong did my make up. Check out her new tattoo done last week by Julian Oh.
Incidentally Adam got one from Julian yesterday too so i saw two new works of his in one day!
I’m wearing a pair of shorts from Levi’s newest collection!
It’s really soft and was super comfy the entire time i was jumping.
Starting off with some still shots… Click to see the rest of the pix!
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I traveled to Korea by myself for 8 days in early June, and it was such a beautiful holiday!
I would push myself to explore, sightsee, eat, shop, and party as much as i could; so by the time i went back home to wherever i was staying, i would be thoroughly pooped. Coming home (cos it IS my temporary home!) to a comfortable and welcoming environment is so important to me. After being surrounded by so many people and having my eyes dart around excitedly all day long, some Joyce Recharge Time is imperative!
I used Airbnb for ALL my stays in Korea (i tried staying in 3 different places within Seoul and Jeju) and it’s so much more personal than simply staying in a commercial guesthouse or hotel.
For those who have never heard of Airbnb - it’s a community platform where hosts all over the world rent out rooms or entire apartments to travellers looking for a place to stay. Because these are locals hosting me, i usually end up forming bonds with them that i usually wouldn’t get via staying at a hotel chain. The spaces i make my temporary home are more charming and have more depth of character, which undeniably adds to my travel experience. An additional plus point is how the prices are very reasonable and lower than you’d expect!
Some hosts let out their space professionally, some do it for additional income, and some do it cos they just love company /hosting people/travelling themselves! Hosts and guests then leave each other reviews on the airbnb website after the trip, which later users can then refer to for reliable future connections.
I ended up picking two places to stay in Seoul (cos the places i wanted to stay in only had a certain number of nights available and i booked them a bit too close to my trip) but i think it was meant to be cos i managed to try out two vastly different spaces.
I spent my first three nights staying in an historic house with a rooftop garden in Jongno, an elegant neighbourhood close to Gyeongbok Palace. There were a lot of cafes, restaurants, small shops and art galleries in the area; with the most magnificent view of glittering city lights from the top of the hill when i reached home every night.
I had the whole place to myself! It was tempting to throw a party haha.
The place is beautifully-designed and i loved the sloping architectural lines on the ceiling
It was nice to spend some time sitting in the garden every day while listening to chirping birds and excited puppies when they got fed next door.
On my last night in Seoul, i moved to Sopoong Guest House in Bukchon – a 600-year-old neighbourhood filled with colourful shops, cafes, cult food stalls, art museums, and the famous Bukchon hanok village (traditional Korean houses). Sopoong Guest House itself is a hanok!
Sopoong Guest House was SO CUTE i felt like i had stepped into a colourful Korean world.
If you don’t have an account with Airbnb yet,
*USE THIS LINK HERE* to automatically receive USD25 credit when you sign up.
Click to see more pix of where i stayed!
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