Unfolding Photographs

As I stare unthinking at my haphazard notes, I surreptitiously recall the pleasant surrealness of an unidentified language, the pulsating vibrancy in the night market air, and the comforting stillness of rural evenings. The unbridled laughter of incredulous children, chasing tirelessly, sun-bleached hair flying across the pitted path, rings phantom notes beside my ear. It is on solitary nights like these that I unfold sepia images and stain my fingers brushing the fine films of dust. In youth, our inherent flaw is to overestimate ourselves, and I am surprised by how unfocused these mental photographs have become. My memory is evidently less crisp than I had believed.

It was during those moments, many spent sitting on rickety floorboards playing Chinese card games (one particularly lively match had resulted in a sprained finger), that I had found myself enveloped in unexpectedly deep camaraderie. The adage, ‘nothing strengthens bonds quite like a holiday’, proved very true. This sense of membership had come after months of uncertainty and self-doubt, and my relief was comparable to the electrifying streets of Hanoi, which we had run across blindly with our cumbersome suitcases, then still protected by our indomitable sense of invincibility. (I suppose a streak of it is still alive and well, given the laughable amount of studying that I attempt to get by medical school with.)

The songs that had saturated our endlessly meandering bus rides, our pathetic construction efforts and the dangerous sway of an elephant’s neck are all fond Polaroid snapshots. What feels like half a lifetime later, I can only regard my younger self – who had led a shameless performance of the Hoedown Throwdown before politely baffled locals – with utter bemusement. I had also taken my first selfie (on a point-and-shoot, for that matter), bargained for the first of many shoulder bags, and discovered a lasting love for Korean barbecue (despite having been over 3,000 miles away from Seoul). Though the draft for this post originally began as a short aside, here I am about to publish three paragraphs positively oozing nostalgia. This may be an abrupt departure from my usual (slightly) less directionless reflections, but this platform is supposed to be a personal blog after all. I cannot help but include the occasional rambling reminiscence.

To intrepid youth and more adventures. ☄️


Subtitled ‘grainy evenings in Laos’. 🇱🇦

  1. We Are Young – Fun.
  2. It’s Time – Imagine Dragons
  3. Radioactive – Imagine Dragons
  4. Tonight Tonight – Hot Chelle Rae
  5. Hoedown Throwdown – Miley Cyrus
  6. 99 Bottles of Beer (American folk song)
  7. Hey, Soul Sister – Train
  8. Chasing Pavements – Adele
  9. Royals – Lorde
  10. Some Nights – Fun.

Serenading the IBDP

Homegrown Mexican mint.

Did I spend the past 30 minutes making a playlist on the eve of my first IB exam? Yes, yes I did. I subtitle it: “A very grim ride indeed.”

  1. One Day More – Les Misérables Cast
  2. Breakeven – The Script (I’m still alive but I’m barely breathin’…)
  3. I Want To Go Home – Johnny Cash
  4. The Lazy Song – Bruno Mars
  5. Sitting Doing Nothing – Elton John
  6. 3 Things – Jason Mraz
  7. Let It Be – The Beatles
  8. What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger) – Kelly Clarkson
  9. Walking On Sunshine – Katrina & The Waves
  10. I’ll Make a Man Out of You – Donny Osmond
  11. Waka Waka (This Time for Africa) – Shakira
  12. Eye of the Tiger – Survivor
  13. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Michael McDonald (an ode to my conditional offers)

Wishing everyone literarily dense (and decipherable) texts for English tomorrow!

Photograph by Christy Lau.