My 5 Terrible (or Arguably Funny) Travel Mistakes

I've always considered myself a meticulous person, and would plan my holidays down to even the nitty gritty details. But as the title of this post would suggest, sometimes, things either slip through the cracks, or s*** just happens.

If you're reading this thinking it's just going to be me committing any sort of cultural faux pas, this is not that post. These are mistakes that have resulted from pure stupidity. Therefore, there are 3 purposes to this post: (1) warn people not to commit the same, (2) take this opportunity to seek validation in hopes I'm not the only idiot in this world, and (3) serve as a nasty memory for my 69-year-old self to look back on.

These experiences are in chronological order, to also prove that stupidity transcends age, really.

1. I Never 牛 (niu) This (China, 2012) 

Throwback to my lesbian hair circa 2012, waddup!

This happened during a community service trip to Yunnan, China, where my friends and I had a few days of R&R to roam the streets of Kunming city, before heading to the rural areas. We chanced upon this roadside stall that sold skewered meats, and decided to buy some.

I asked the stallholder what meat it was, and she told us that it was "牛肉", which is what we call beef back home, right? But when we bit into it, what we tasted, and what we saw SHOOKT us:

There is no way this looks like beef fam.

It was extremely tender – even more so than chicken – and the meat was white, not red. And then our cynical Singaporean mindset immediately made us think that the stallholder lied to us about it being beef, when it's probably another animal's, like a rabbit, or ALPACA (after I said this, my friend actually cried because we literally saw an alpaca in the city earlier that day and, well, she just loves alpacas). What can I say, I'm a s*** stirrer.

We found out from our tour guide a few days later that when people in China (or at least in Yunnan) say 牛肉, they actually mean meat from mountain cattle (山牛 – it literally translates to mountain cow), not the kind of cows we know!

Why it's terrible: I made my friend cry. Also, I maligned a nice China auntie (I didn't cow-peh-cow-bu to her lah, but still)

Tl;dr: What they refer to as cows in China are different from the cows we know.

2. Bali Singlets Are Barely "Legal" (2013) 

Here's us getting krunk in Bali

One thing that I really love about Bali is that you can be as lupsup as you want without being judged. We were drinking beer while kayaking right smack in the middle of the day, and it was amazing.

So colour us surprised when this happened: one night, we decided to head to Ku De Ta via a cab (after being buzzed from a few drinks, so we weren't in the best state of mind) from our villa. But lo and behold, our entry was rejected because my friend, Joey, was wearing a singlet sporting the Bintang beer logo (see bottom left photo above)!

We literally bought the singlet the day before at a market because it's a must-have for basic tourists like us, and we only wanted to show some love for the country (and its beer) by wearing it around. Little did we know that Ku De Ta was atas enough to prohibit entry to anybody wearing alcohol brand logos on their clothing, so they turned our cab around.

But remember how I said we were buzzed from the alcohol? In our slightly drunken stupor, as the taxi was about to turn around to give way to other cars, it stopped right in front of what seemed like a squad of military personnel who were ARMED!

In that moment (once again, please be reminded we were drunk) we actually thought we were going to get arrested, lol! Long story short, Joey ended up flipping his singlet inside out and we managed to get in. We literally solved the problem by upping our lupsup game. Woohoo!

Why it's terrible: We should've dressed properly to a decent establishment like that. Plus, we foolishly thought we were going to get arrested for wearing the wrong singlet. [cue sitcom Friends' Ross' voice: "WE WERE ON A BREAK DRUNK!!!!"]

Tl;dr: No singlets with alcohol emblems when you enter "legit" places in Bali!

3. Dog Days in Bangkok (2015) 

Here's a picture of me from the trip that's going to be completely unrelated to this point.

I think anybody who's been to Bangkok would surely, at some point, consider going to a certain dog cafe called the True Love Husky Cafe, where you can cosy up and play with 23 furry huskies. I mean, look at these cuties:

(Photo credit:

But guess who didn't get to do that when he was in Bangkok? Me.

Call it a lack of planning, or call it pure stupidity, but we didn't actually know how we were going to get there. We just knew we wanted to, so we just relied on Google Maps. We didn't take into consideration the fact that the huskies obviously can't be out for the entire afternoon because of the heat, and whether or not the place was actually easily accessible.

The first problem we encountered was a nasty traffic jam that led to us being stuck on a tuk-tuk for a good 45 minutes, and for the entire time we were marinating in our salt since we could've been doing something more productive on our trip!

The best part? When we thought we had finally gotten there, we realised via Google Maps that the cafe was a good 1.5km walk away! I wish I was making this up for dramatic effect, but I'm really not. Like I said, I am usually a meticulous planner, so to make a mistake like this was truly embarrassing. After we walked under the blazing hot afternoon sun to get there, the cafe was already closed for the afternoon.

I know right?

Why it's terrible: We really didn't think this through properly... lol

Tl;dr: Plan itineraries down to every single detail, and always take into account other factors like possible traffic congestions, and walking distances!

4. Osaka Does it the Right Way (2015)

Literally. (Photo credit:

As evident from the photo above, you have to stand on the right side of escalators instead of the left, as we're so accustomed to in Singapore. When I first arrived in Osaka, I did pick up on this escalator etiquette, although sometimes I would still stand on the left subconsciously, looking like the oddball, or rude gaijin if you will.

But this small mistake made me almost cause someone's death. [cue jeng jeng jeng music]

I was unknowingly standing on the left side of the escalator one day, when halfway through the ride up I realised that I was standing on the wrong side! Naturally, my first instinct was to hurriedly shuffle to my right so that I don't cause a nuisance or whatever.

Let's just say I should've checked my blind spot.

Because as I was shuffling to the right, it was in that very moment that an elderly man was trying to climb up the escalator, and was going diagonally onto the empty space I was shuffling towards!

As you would expect, I accidentally tripped the poor oji-san, and he almost fell on his face if not for his quick arm reflexes cushioning his fall! He gave me a look of severe disapproval (or in millennial lingo, a stank face) before continuing his climb up.

Absolutely embarrassing. My heart almost stopped, because he definitely looked like he was at least 70 years old and I was so afraid something would really happen to him.

Why it's terrible: I almost injured a poor oji-san who was just trying to mind his own business and make his way up an escalator :'(

Tl;dr: Never forget a country's customs, and always be aware of your surroundings!

5. Melbourne, more like MelBURNT (a hole in my pocket) (2017)

I never expected myself to fall in love with Australia this much, but I did. The people are friendly, the food is amazing, and the sights are breathtaking.

But nobody warned me that Melbourne is also as fine as wine, in the same way that Singapore is a fine city.

Because one day after grabbing lunch at a restaurant in Lorne, we chanced upon a sweet gift under our rented car's wipers:


Here's the backstory: we were desperately looking for a parking lot to park at because we had been circling a few parking areas nearby to no avail, so naturally the moment we saw some sort of gap anywhere, we went straight in for the kill without thinking much.

We didn't know this, but there was actually a sign erected literally right in front of our car, but the sign was so high up that I honestly wasn't able to see it from the passenger's seat either. It was this sign:

(Photo credit:

Clearly, I was a dumb Singaporean who didn't actually know what the S would've stood for, and perhaps that's why my subconscious decided to ignore it. I was too used to only seeing No Parking signs back home. And what a heavy price we paid for this mistake!

We actually tried to push our luck by submitting a nicely-written appeal letter (we're all advertising creatives, and you know what they say about people like us...), but alas! Our appeal was unfortunately (yet expectedly, but we were in denial) rejected and we ended up paying the fine.

Why it's terrible: We didn't educate ourselves on Australian road signs.

Tl;dr: Educate yourselves on the country's road signs if you're going to be driving. Singapore's BTT ain't gonna be enough!

The good thing about making these terrible mistakes, though? Knowing that you're never going to commit them again, so at least next time, I'll be a better traveller. Woohoo!

[Note: This post is written as part of my application for The Travel Intern Programme 2018]

You nose it.

It would seem rather abrupt to appear with a post suddenly announcing I just did a surgery on my nose, but here you go.

Before regaling the trials and tribulations I underwent to arrive to this day with my pisai still covered in dried blood, no, it was not a cosmetic procedure. I had wanted it to be a cosmetic procedure, but the doctor was obviously being ignorant when he said "I didn't need it," and the only way for me to have it sponsored by the SAF is for my nose bridge to collapse as a complication of this functional procedure.

For the longest time I have been plagued with ENT issues... I would actually say my whole life. I had a snoring problem that nobody knew the cause of (I even underwent sleep apnea tests!), until it stopped when I had a tonsillectomy from my chronic tonsillitis. As it turns out, my tonsils were so naturally enlarged (EVERY TIME I visited a doctor and they decide to check my throat, 95% of them would remark - in awe - at how large my tonsils were. I also have a similar reaction when they check out my di-) that they would rub against each other causing the snoring. Who would have thought right? Knn.

Secondly, I was always having a runny nose and never knew why. I actually have allergic rhinitis, but for some reason, throughout the course of my childhood, doctors only casually threw this phrase around like it was not a big deal. I was given nasal sprays since I was about 6? I would use them for a while and then stop, not only because they didn't work, but also because they tasted like shit once they travel down to your throat. At some point in secondary school, I started consuming antihistamines for what I thought was just a simple "runny nose" problem that my unfortunate being is just cursed with. For the longest time, I had assumed the antihistamines were actually flu meds and I just had a very unfortunate immune system.

Many months ago I had enough of that shit. It occurred to me that there is NO WAY any normal functioning human being is supposed to have a runny nose that often, and on top of that, on bad days I would wake up with a very irritating feeling that went up to the back of my throat as well as my hard and soft palate. It was a feeling that was so overwhelming and virtually impossible to get rid of.

That was when I did allergic tests and found out I was allergic to dust mites, house dust, and cat and dog dander. And guess what? I have a dog at home, dust is every fucking where, and obviously there would be dust mites pretty much every fucking where as well. That would explain why my allergy is perpetually TRIGGERED, causing me to feel like shit.

Even then, after receiving these findings from a private specialist, I was offered no long term solution. I was simply prescribed antihistamines, the same kinds I have been eating for the past 900 lifetimes. Doesn't make any fucking sense right?

Feeling bitter about the world, I continued living while marinating in my salt when one day, Jiarong introduced me to a clicknetwork video where Oon Shu An tried out a Sinus Rinse, because he knew I always had problems in that area. My interest was obviously piqued - what is this fascinating thing I've never seen before? Wah, available at Guardian ah? GOTTA HAVE IT. Immediately made a trip down to Guardian to get it.

So if you didn't watch a video, it's basically a squeeze bottle you're supposed to fill a saline solution with, squeeze it up one nostril, and it will flush all the triggering allergens up there down the other nostril, and everything will be fine and dandy.

Here's the shookening part - when I squeeze it through one nostril, the water did not come out the other nostril. It would come out from the back of my throat instead, indicating an obvious blockage.

I thought it was just one of my bad allergy days, so I tried again throughout the next two days, making sure I took antihistamines to prevent the same thing from happening. Didn't work. That's when I knew shit is fucked up. In fact, it literally occurred to me that for the entirety of my life, I have actually been only able to breathe out of one nostril. Obviously since the sinus rinse incident, I've been especially cognisant of this phenomenon. I thought it might be because of my deviated septum (where the bone on the inside of my nose is slanted, very common, and also a phrase the specialist mentioned but casually shrugged off), but no. The blockage appeared to vacillate between either nostril, but never both. Can't be my bone moving by itself right?

I made an appointment at a polyclinic and they agreed I had the typical throat of someone with allergic rhinitis and referred me to NUH (even though I specified I wanted SGH, but apparently NUH was faster). My doctor was amazing - he immediately suggested going for surgery, something that I probably should have been told from day 1.

Basically, my allergies cause the inside of my nose to swell, causing the blockage. But because of some sciencey shit related to an "allergy cycle", the swelling changes sides to "take turns" and let the original side rest. Wah, didn't know allergens work in a team.

So the solution was to not only straighten my very minor deviated septum (it's a very by-the-way thing actually), but also, in layman terms, remove some of the flesh inside my nose to provide a buffer for my nose to swell when it wants to without obstructing the normal airflow. In scientific terms, it's a septoplasty and a turbinoplasty. Despite my diagnosis having the letters "rhin", I was not required to have a "rhin"oplasty. Disappointed.

So anyway, the surgery was done really quickly (about 2 hours, warded for one night), though my nose was literally dripping blood for the first week because I had plastic splints inside my nose to hold my septum in place since it's been messed with and shit. On top of that, every time I spat out what I thought was phlegm would actually turn out to be dried blood clots... yep, bon appetit baby.

But one week after removing the splints, I managed to effortlessly breathe through both my nostrils for the first time in my entire life. It actually felt amazing, though I was more amazed that I lived 20 years not knowing I even had this problem.

Two weeks on, I haven't actually experienced anymore incidents of me waking up in the morning with a terribly stuffed and snotty nose, and I haven't had to blow mucus out of my nose since the surgery. I feel amazing!!! I would honestly say it's life-changing and I'm glad I did it. Feels good man!

Konvinced by KonMari

I have to admit: I have been telling people I am a "recovering hoarder" for a few years now.

Because while I have definitely gotten over my hoarding tendencies, I am still at about the halfway mark towards getting rid of my excesses.

Until I just read Marie Kondo's book on the "Magic" of Tidying. It's going to sound ridiculous, but for once I actually found a book that addresses my problem of hoarding.

For people who want a tl;dr, basically, Marie Kondo (hence the name of the method, KonMari) teaches people on tidying, or rather, the method where one only keeps things that fulfill one of two categories: (1) Things that fulfill a functional purpose, and (2) Things that "spark joy" when you physically pick them up, i.e. trigger a positive emotional response.

Then you discard the rest because they're basically "noise" to your environment and mental state. Supposedly, once your mind has been cleansed by decluttering, you are able to think clearly, be more energised, and in very extreme cases, discover what is it you really want out of your life.

I completely buy it. Honestly, for someone so non-religious like me, I actually believe in spiritual energies, that things occur for very spiritual reasons. I am especially a fervent believer that Mahjong tiles have spirits embedded in them, and I subscribe to the belief that the tiles can read your mind - if you ponder too much over a tile that you eventually throw away, they tend to always come back to you, because that's the kind of assholes these Mahjong spirits are. And how you cannot stand up until it's the West wind.

So now, I am a Marie Kondo worshipper.

I'm going to get my life in order and start tidying the shit out of my life!!!!!!!!! Minimalism FTW!!!

Just earlier today, I suddenly remembered I kept a box that contained all my ticket stubs that dated all the way back to 2008 - bloody 9 years ago, can you believe it?! Surprisingly the stubs haven't faded yet, and they are still the classic small, perforated GV white-and-yellow stubs.

I also found, oddly, a box that had an assortment of clothing tags (I'm such a weirdo) for some reason. I need to STOP.  CAROUSELL EVERYTHING!!!