How To Pack Light | Jade Travels

Never overpack again! There are situations that call for you to pack light, but if you’re an “everything-but-the-kitchen-sink” sort of packer, here are some of my personal tips to hopefully help you along!

(Since I try to minimise the number of shoes I bring on trips, my personal favourites to pack are sneakers because they can be paired with so many things! Here are more ideas on how to wear sneakers with everything.)

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London Fashion Week

Jade Seah

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Jade Seah

This is pretty belated, but am slowly trying to get through uploading pictures from the many trips I was fortunate to have taken last year. Some were for work and some were for play, but I each one was special and I enjoyed them all in different ways. This was for London Fashion Week where Topshop flew Linda (Linda Hao’s blog) and myself up to experience London and to attend the Topshop UNIQUE fashion show.

Bea (Beatrice Tan’s blog) and Vel (Velda Tan’s Instagram) were coincidentally staying in London that period and they joined us for the fun! On top of attending the show together, they also took us to their favourite pancake place and Linda prepared ma la (directly translated as ‘spicy numbing’) hotpot for us back at our place one night as well. Super yums! Photos on those to come soon!

The pictures above were shot by a street style photographer, Anna, who randomly stopped and asked us if she could take a few snaps.

More to come!

“Paris is Always a Good Idea.” – Audrey Hepburn

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I’ve never been to Paris. Well technically, when I did a road trip along the French Riviera a few years ago, we flew in and started our journey in Paris. I didn’t see a whole lot more than the Paris airport though because we left for Bordeaux upon landing. So I consider it my first time in the city of love. I’ve heard the good (“it’s so beautiful, so romantic”) and the bad (“it’s overrated, overrun with tourists and smells of pee everywhere”) so I thought it was time to see it for myself. While I wanted to save Paris perhaps for my honeymoon, the practical side of me took over – it’s a hop, skip and jump away from London, so it made sense to pop over.

Verdict? A mix of both the good and the bad. It is a beautiful city, blessed with a rich history and culture and with the most gorgeous architecture. The River Seine running through it just adds to its beauty and charm.

It does however smell of pee in quite a few places, and while I found the locals along the French Riviera to be friendly and lovely, sadly, not all my encounters with the French in Paris on this trip were as pleasant. That kind of killed it a little.

The friends who were in London with us hated Paris. I didn’t hate it, but I can’t say it’s my favourite city either, especially after the charms of London.

I did have a magical moment, although it wasn’t on the streets of Paris. We were in our room, it was just before midnight, I had just stepped out of the shower to hear my man excitedly asking me to go to the window. He had surprised me with a room that had an Eiffel Tower view. My love and I shared a moment with the Eiffel Tower in all its glittering, sparkling glory.

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London post soon!

My Long-Story Love Story

I’m getting married soon, and everyone’s been asking who I’m marrying, lol. There are no pictures of him on my Instagram, Facebook or this website. Maybe he’s an imaginary boyfriend?

We met when we were 15. All Catholic kids have to go through 10 years of catechism classes (from primary one till you get Confirmed at 16) and we were no exception. I was actually taking classes in another church (it’s the same in Catholic churches all over the world) but I was a bit of a naughty kid and had been skipping classes for a couple of months before the teacher called my mother to ask why I had not been attending classes. She flipped, of course, as she had no idea! (Every Sunday, I would take the bus before 8am like I was going for catechism…and go hang out with my friends instead.)

My mum was so upset that I had been skipping classes (sorry, mum!) that when she bumped into a nun who used to teach her in school, she told her about it. Long story short was that she pulled me out of that church and I started classes in another catholic church.

Kids usually start and finish their entire catechism journey in one church, so joining this new bunch at 15, when everyone already knew everyone, meant I was the “new kid in school” and had to work harder to make friends. It was cool though and I was really happy in the new environment except for one thing: I remember my boy-crazy younger self complaining to a group of girls there that “there are no hot guys in this church”! One of them pointed my now-fiance out and said, “that one not bad what”. I distinctly remember saying, “ok only lah”. Haha!

We never spoke even though I was a social creature who was friends with everyone. I think it was because he was… #1, really shy and hardly ever (maybe never!) spoke and #2, not in class half the time as he was then a national athlete who had training at least twice a day, six times a week. We got Confirmed at 16 (kind of like graduation) and I never saw him again.

We bumped into each other more than ten years later, and I actually remembered him as his face hadn’t changed. Oh and he definitely remembered me! Heh. We chatted a little then and he followed up after that with a message. We ended up communicating a lot – without meeting for months.

When we finally met, I remember it was for prawn noodles in our area (we both stay in the east) and he was REALLY quiet. I was pretty bummed and slightly confused. He had asked me out but he didn’t seem interested? He had also shared quite a lot with me prior to that but why was he so silent when we finally met?

I don’t do well with mixed signals (why can’t everyone just be direct!?) and I definitely don’t take to game-playing (maybe he was trying to blow hot and cold?). I wasn’t planning to see him again. I had actually been pretty excited to meet him prior to that date and had told a friend about it. When that friend asked me how it went, I remember saying, “he was really quiet man. I think he’s not interested. I think I’m done with this one.”. This friend said maybe he was just really shy, and shy guys sometimes act like that around girls they like. He encouraged me to go out with him again.

He really did ask me out again and on account of the fact that he was obviously really keen to meet me (so confusing!)…and that I thought his dimples were cute (so shoot me, I’ve my shallow, human moments!) I decided to give him a second chance and go out with him. I remember being determined to not I get excited about it as I did the last time though – I generally hate the feeling of being played like a kite and I refuse to get sucked into hot-cold spirals.

This time though, he opened up and talked to me like the person I thought I had been communicating with the past few months. The rest is history. Well…kind of. We had struggles at the start as we are really different individuals. But still history. (I just want to say that, can!)

So he’s very much real and not my imaginary boyfriend. The reason he doesn’t show up on my social accounts is because he has requested that I don’t post pictures of him! He did agree to go to Mauritius with me for a recent shoot I did for Her World Brides magazine though – tempted by the prospect of beautifully-shot wedding pictures, no doubt. (He is Groomzilla, but more on that in another post!)

Here’s a short video of what went down behind the scenes in Mauritius:

It was such a fun trip, with wonderful people like stylist Steve, his assistant, Evon, photographer Winston and Sha, who made me look half-decent by doing my hair and makeup. It’s also the first shoot ever that I had my other half with me (I personally don’t believe in mixing work and play) and that made it extra special.

Thank you, Her World Brides, for having us!

(See the full story in the September issue of Her World Brides. It’s the one with my mug on the front!)

How to Climb a Mountain: Kota Kinabalu (Part II)

Continued from my previous post on finally making it to climb Mount Kinabalu. (Check it out here if you missed it!)

Passed by Carson Fall on the way up. This was really early on in the climb…

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The weather was kind and it stopped raining about an hour into the climb. Everyone was getting really warm from the physical exertion, so we got rid of the waterproof and warmer layers and started stripping down to our lighter layers underneath. Some were down to singlet and shorts! I’m bad with cold so I was down to a sports top, one light thermal layer and an outer shell.

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I was one of the few on this trip who didn’t bring along a “bladder” of water (that’s the pack of water where you can get to it hands-free, via a tube, as my cousin is doing, above); I had planned to just take a 500ml water bottle with me. I am bad with carrying heavy loads and I was determined to pack as lightly as possible on this trip! However, everyone advised me to bring more (they all brought like 3kg worth of fluids) so I brought three 500ml bottles with me. They meant well as dehydration is a real problem; but I really do know myself best, I think. I don’t perspire very much, and I am used to my long runs going for extensive periods without fluids. In the end, I finished just the one bottle! Admittedly, I didn’t want to over-hydrate also because I was hoping to not have to use the bathrooms along the way…not the most savory.

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So glad it stopped raining and the sun came out! Finally started to warm up and was down to just my sports top.

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Halfway up a mountain, but there’s always time for a fun picture! Here I am annoying Humphrey on his break, lol.

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The porters who work the mountain tirelessly, day in day out, are truly the unsung heroes of this place. Animal labour is banned on the mountain (presumably to protect the flora and beauty of the place; I think it’s because animals eat the vegetation and also poop everywhere), but supplies such as food still have to reach the accommodation at the top (for people like me to rest and have a hot meal after a climb). The only way is by porter, and these men and women make the back-breaking climb daily; some with things as heavy as sacks of rice or cartons of condensed milk on their backs.

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Some use their heads to support some of the load, as the man is doing here.

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Many don’t wear proper shoes – most wear these rubber slip-ons that hardly look comfortable. I chose not to hire a porter and to carry my own load as I felt terrible about a potentially old man (there are young men and women porters, though not as many as there are older men) carrying my load. I still don’t know what’s the best thing to do though; friends have told me that hiring a porter gives them work and a source of much-needed cash. I just personally felt bad about it. Please let me know what you think is best on this matter!

Then of course, there are people who hire a porter responsibly, as my friends did, providing them a proper backpack to help carry up; and then there are people like this clown we met along the way, who had his porter carry up a cabin bag. I mean, seriously…

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Nearing the destination here. The scenery was just beautiful and the winds were a welcome respite.

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This part was pretty fun as it was all rock. Felt like I was in some computer game as we had to pick the right stones to step on. On our descent the next day, it was a storm (we’d apparently caught the edge of the Philippines typhoon) and this whole area was a veritable waterfall, with water gushing down the rocks. I unfortunately have no pictures as the storm was too crazy, the rain made visibility low and full concentration was needed to step on the right stones without falling (some friends in our party slipped and fell). I was also the only one who had just one, instead of two, hiking poles, so there was no way I could snap any pictures, although I actually liked having one hand free to balance and reach for rocks. Good shoes make SUCH a difference, that’s all I’ll say! So if you invest in just one thing on an outdoor trip, make it the shoes.

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We finally hit our (mid-point) destination for the day at Laban Rata!

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Our Laban Rata digs for the night!

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The temperate climate at this altitude meant beautiful flora.

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Marilyn and Char taking pictures of each other…taking pictures of each other!

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Starving! So thankful for not just a hot meal, but a hot buffet meal that wasn’t half-bad. Shiok!

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I basically conked out after dinner and a (very quick) shower before 7pm.

Woke up at 1am excited to summit! Here’s us packing and getting ready.

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Sadly, went out to see a crazy storm of heavy rain and strong winds. I seriously wanted to cry. Was really looking forwardto doing the via ferrata down!!! I actually went to look for the ranger to plead with him to open the gates to let us up the mountain. He was really nice but firm about it and explained that it was for our own safety – it is extremely dangerous to attempt the summit in the cold and rain. Argh! Not meant to be, I guess.

We waited for awhile more before the guides said the weather would basically be like that the whole day. So we packed up, put on our rain gear and started the trek down in the storm. A (small) consolation was that at least that was pretty exciting! No pictures as it was near impossible to not use full concentration for balance and choices (which rock to step on without falling) especially at the higher levels.

We made it down safely in less than 5 hours. While the journey down was easier in terms of exertion as we did not have to fight against gravity, I found going down more difficult as it was slippery and required full mental concentration. My knees were also suffering – I think the next time I may take two poles to put more weight on my shoulders and arms instead of bearing the full impact on my legs (and poor knees!).

Back in KK town, we goofed around, got massages, shopped, ate…and ate some more.

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The whole crew back at the airport. Couldn’t have asked for a better bunch to travel with. Thanks Eliza and Isaac for arranging everything! Till the next! (Rinjani, anyone?)

Jade SeahAll photos taken from Isaac Wong’s Flickr album and Marilyn’s FB.

 

 

Kota Kinabalu – Finally! (Part I)

So I finally, FINALLY made time to climb a mountain. I’ve been thinking about it for ages; good friends have gone and I wasn’t able to make the time when those trips happened, but this year, the stars were aligned (and I put my foot down on work and committed to doing this, finally) and it happened! We were banging around trying to find common dates for the longest time, before finally settling on these July dates. The group grew larger and larger and I didn’t know everyone who on on this trip, but I was just glad it finally materialized!

The flight to Kota Kinabalu was at 0840 hours and some of the group wanted to meet at the check-in counter. I told them I’d see them on the plane. You see, I’ve realised after so many travels; some with friends for fun; some for work with a whole crew; some solo; that everyone has a different comfort level when it comes to timing. Will chat more about this in a another post, but simply put, some like to be at the airport two hours before departure; some like to go like REALLY early to chill and eat before boarding; and then there are people like me, who like to go at the last possible minute, and board the plane at the last possible minute. People who despise rushing hate the way someone like me cuts time so close because it makes them extremely anxious, while people like me feel like we are already going to waste some of our lives just SITTING on a plane – we’re not going any earlier than is absolutely necessary. So these days, unless I travel with my man (a fellow cut-it-close kinda person), I choose to meet people on the plane or when we alight at our destination to prevent any potential unhappiness!

Here’s some of our group happy in our vehicle that was bringing us to Sutera Lodge, the base of Mount Kinabalu where we would start our climb.

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Enroute.

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So many Catholic churches on the way up to our starting point and resting place for the night, Sutera Lodge. I felt sure I was going to be blessed and protected on this trip, and this was His sign!

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Grocery run before hitting the resort! Highly recommend this if you’re watching your budget – stuff costs a lot more the higher up the mountain you get! I bought chocolate and instant noodles. That’s my crazy cousin doing her ‘thang in a KK supermart!

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Our swanky digs for the night before starting the climb bright and early the next day. I must say, I was expecting conditions to be really rough, even for the first night, so this was a more-than-pleasant surprise!

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We got settled in, then it was time for the mandatory briefing, which was a 5 minute walk from our lodge.

Here’s us annoyingly-addicted-to-being-connected Singaporeans enjoying the last bits of free wifi while waiting for the briefing to start.

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Fun times at dinner!

Morning of the climb! Excuse the makeup-less face, lol. Weather looked great and everyone was super psyched as we headed down to checkout and for breakfast to fuel up before starting.

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Except that it started absolutely POURING as we finished our breakfast. That was a slight dampener to our spirits (pun fully intended, heh). It didn’t crush us entirely though – suited up in our waterproofs, and off we went!

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Part II with the actual climb in the next post!

All photos taken from Isaac Wong’s flickr album.