9 June 2021

So this landed in my inbox this morning:

Val Thinks, my newsletter baby of just under 4 weeks, now has over 100 subscribers!

Given that I’m shooting for thousands, 100 seems a measly amount. But girl’s gotta start somewhere.

Half of the first 100 came from tapping friends, family, and my professional network. (Thank you!)

The second half came from promoting my newsletter in a Facebook group of 1.1 million members for Thais looking to immigrate. I positioned it as English practice… you know, read great writing and improve your English kinda thing.

I don’t think I got any subscribers from this blog yet, but girl’s gonna keep hustling.

If you’ve read this far, you might as well check it out. In the past few weeks, I’ve written about coffee addiction, energy management, and perverse incentives. And I’ve got dozens more topics, ranging from moisterising to identity, in store.

My newsletter will keep your Fridays fun and unpredictable, and will probably make you smile.

Now go show some love.

Yours truly,


4 January 2017 đźŚľ

It’s 2017. Which means in 7 months it will have been 10 years since I moved to England.

How different I was then. How naiive. How hopeful. I was so confident of myself, of the path that I had chosen and so determinedly followed.

Now I am a fragment of my former self—my confidence shattered, optimism extinguished in the dark pits of depression.

But I am still here. I pulled through. I wake up each day, go to work, cultivate relationships. But life was not the same. It was uninspiring, lethargic, deadening.

Until yesterday, when I decided to move to Vietnam.

After two days in Hanoi and some encouragement from my good friend, I decided to take the reins and drive my life into a different direction. I have no idea if it is the right one, but it will be the first path I lay for myself in a long time.

Which I guess is enough.

Since then it’s as if I’m seeing the world through different eyes. The fire that burnt out is re-kindled. The spark of life reborn. My brain is buzzing with possibilities, busy making plans, imagining what life will be like.

In a year. That’s the deadline I’ve set for myself. I give myself a year to prepare, and then I’m packing my bags and heading to the airport.

I’m writing this post on 4 January 2017. But I won’t publish it until I’ve moved. So if you’re reading this, then I’ve made it. I’ve kept the promise to myself. I’ve taken a step into the unknown, inched closer to the life that I used to imagine for myself.

A life of excitement, adventures, discoveries…

A life I wish for me, for you, for us.

Much love,


25 August 2020

8 days later and my head is in a completely different space.

Last Monday I was worrying over the quality (or lack thereof) of a research summary I had submitted one day before, after working on it all weekend with scarcely a break.

This research summary was one of three tasks I was given in Phase 2 of a job application.

This application was for the job of a lifetime, a Content and Research Assistant for my favourite author, who happens to have sold tens of millions of books worldwide and topped the NY Times Bestselling list.

Last Monday, I was worrying incessantly that the summary I cobbled together wasn’t good enough. That I wouldn’t shine brightly enough to be selected for a phone interview.

Well, as it turns out, my fears were unfounded. The author’s words when he invited me for the interview were: “you crushed it. Incredible work”.

Then followed an interview last Thursday, a video call that was so surreal I could hardly believe it was truly happening.

I felt the interview had gone brilliantly, but that didn’t stop me worrying and emailing the author twice to correct something I misspoke and clarify a different point.

Yesterday was excruciating. The author had said he would make the decision and extend the job offer on Monday NYC time. Which could have been any time from 7pm yesterday my time.

This morning, at 2am, the anxiously anticipated email arrived in my inbox. I got the job.

And I’m over the moon. Strangely, I didn’t burst into tears like I did when I got the invitation to the interview. Just, calm. And happy. Pleased with myself and proud.

Out of who knows how many people applied, I made it. And I start next Tuesday.

It’s curious that, as one who blogs extensively, I never thought to pursue a paid career in writing. Not until the call for applications landed in my inbox did I ever think such a career an option.

But now here it is. In my hands. From Tuesday, I will be paid to write.

I don’t think it has fully sunk in yet. I still can’t quite wrap my head around it. Maybe I’ll be hit by a wave of euphoria later, maybe not.

But yes, hello new job. Hello new boss.

Back to full-time work for me! The past 3 months have been nice, but to return to working life with this job is more than I can ever ask for.

So I shall enjoy my few remaining days, and start fresh.



19 April 2020

Wow – it has been a busy few weeks. It’s like I blinked and suddenly we’re approaching the end of April.

In the meantime, major things have happened in my life.

Thing one: I started an English private tutoring page.

I’ve been teaching English online for the past 5 years but the idea to start up a proper page only came to me a few weeks ago on one of my back-and-forth walks in the residential complex (more on that in my previous post).

And since creating my page on 3rd April (as Facebook tells me), I’ve been toying with a lot of different ideas (most of which occurred during my walks) and created some content for the page, and earlier this week I decided to bite the bullet and start sharing the page. Not to everyone I know (that would be unwise), but to a few people. #PhasedApproach

And, completely against my expectations, I immediately got inquiries. Both of them through the one friend who shared my page on their Facebook and emphatically guaranteed the “premium-ness” of my service. Really shows the power of word of mouth and connections.

Fingers crossed, these two leads turn into paying customers. Things seem to be heading in that direction. I had my 30-min diagnostic session with both (separately, of course) yesterday, and my read on the situation is that they were happy with me/my “Bespoke” approach (the service is called “Val’s Bespoke English Lessons” and is a product of the during-walk realisation that the service I already offer is 100% tailored to my student – so why not sell it as such?).

Thing two: I decided to quit my job.

For those who’ve read my previous few posts, this will not come as a complete surprise. (Oh how vain is she who thinks people follow and read all her posts…)

It’s a wonderful job and I love working with the team. But (as I mentioned here), all this pandemic has led me to re-evaluate what really matters in my life. And hands down a life with my partner is more precious to me than any job, so… I’m moving to Hanoi!

As soon as I complete my duties toward the Thai government (I’m a government scholar – they paid for my studies abroad and in return I’m legally binded to stay in Thailand for the equal number of years I spent abroad), I will be heading to Hanoi.

Funnily enough, my “Independence Day” is on 4th July. After this auspicious date, I will be freeeeeeeeeeee. So we’re looking at moving in together some time in July, once I’ve sorted out the move from my end. (And given, of course, that borders have opened by then.)

I’m pretty excited about this. I planned 3 years ago to move to Hanoi. The plan never came to fruition as my life took unexpected turns. To follow these twists and turns and if you have up to an hour to spare, go here. Start with the first post then work your way up! (Yes, I write a lot of blogs.)

So, in order to move to Hanoi, I will be quitting my job at Agoda. My manager has been aware of this possible eventuality since February, but finally 2 days ago (Friday 17th April) I made my decision. I informed my manager on Friday and will be announcing the news to the team early this coming week, then click “Resign”. A monumental decision, executed with only one click. (More likely it will be multiple clicks – but “the first click is the greatest” [Know the song?]).

Goodbye (for now) corporate life. Hello (again) freelancing life!

I hope those 2 leads from my page convert. It would be a great start. But if not, that’s okay too. I’ll just keep trying!

Keep your fingers crossed for me.



22 March 2020

Oh how the world has changed since I last wrote you all.

It’s been less than 10 days, but in the meantime my company has announced WFH (Work From Home) until 10th April and the Thai government has announced lockdown until 12th April.

Covid-19 is changing the world as we know it. A week ago, I was still hopeful that I’d get to fly to Hanoi to visit my boyfriend mid-April. And the only obstacle standing in the way was my company’s strong recommendation against international personal travel.

A week later, countless international flights are cancelled, including mine. And we’re in lockdown in Bangkok. I did not see this coming.

The good thing about this extraordinary situation is that it has led me to consider my priorities and my plans for this year. And as a result, I’ve taken the first steps toward relocating to be with my boyfriend in Hanoi in July.

We always said “this year” would be the year we move in together, and “hopefully in the summer”. But I’ve decided to make it happen rather than just hope. It is my life after all. My life, my decision, my doing.

And yes, I’m still meditating.

How is Covid-19 impacting you where you are? I hope you and your loved ones are well.



9 December 2019

It’s December! a.k.a. the most wonderful time… of the year!

I love Christmas. Don’t you love Christmas? Okay, maybe not. I know it’s not everyone’s favourite holiday. But I love it.

As soon as those Christmas decorations go up, the jingles start playing, my heart lifts off into another plane of existence. One where everything is fuzzy and warm and cuddly.

I probably experience something akin to putting on rose-tinted glasses. I’m walking on rose petals every day. Everything is just wonderful.

One wonderful thing, out of all the many wonderful things, in my life this month is my new app as of Sunday 24 November: Lose It!

(Caveat: calorie counting can sometimes be taken too far, which is counter-productive and potentially harmful to your health – so get informed and be moderate!)

Anyhow (and here is where I gush about the app), the app has worked wonderfully for me in the past 2 weeks. Yes, I’ve lost a little weight, but it’s not that. It’s my shift in perspective.

Only after a week counting calories did I realise why I never lost weight before despite exercising more: somehow, in my twisted mind, I was associating how “bad” a food is for diet with its size.

So for example, I would be eating small cakes all the time and thinking: ah, this is so light, it won’t add to my weight! Same goes with grilled pork skewers and sticky rice, etc. You get the idea… I know, twisted indeed!

Since the days of calorie counting, I’m now aware of how calorific different foods are. Oh the horror of realising that small does not equal not fat! It’s a big shift in perspective for me, and I think a good one.

So yes, that’s the wonderful thing about Lose It! The app has also encouraged me to walk more to counter the food I’m eating. On top of that I’m more aware of keeping a good balance of protein, carbs, and fat.

So far I think the approach is working. I haven’t had to cut all calorific foods. Only a few days ago I had a heavenly seafood risotto with buttered baguette pieces for dinner, and remained under my calorie budget!

Another wonderful thing that’s happening this month of Christmas: my laptop died. Yup. After over 6 years, it finally kicked the bucket.

The funny thing is: it showed no signs of dying before going. And the funnier thing is: only a few days before it died, I was talking about it with a co-worker. We were comparing how old our laptops were and she mentioned that hers had a battery that won’t charge anymore.

Then, a few days later, guess what happened…

You guessed it, my battery wouldn’t charge! No matter how many times I plug it in. I even took the battery out and put it back in (a method that solves many electrical issues). Nothing worked. So, inevitably, my laptop ran out of juice and died.

When I said it’s a wonderful thing, I’m not being sarcastic. For several months up until the fateful day, I’d been waiting for this to happen. I’d already acclimatised myself to the idea of getting a new laptop once my aged and faithful Dell died.

And now it’s actually happened. And not while I was doing something important. Nothing was damaged in the process. So yes, the wait is finally over. It’s nice when something you mildly dread actually happens and it turns out not to be that big a deal.

So sometime this week I’m going to hit the computer stores at the mall and see whether I can a) replace the battery or b) buy a new laptop. And I work in the mall! So that should be easy like a piece of cake. (That I’m not going to eat).

(In fact, now that I think about it: I haven’t had a single piece of cake since beginning calorie counting. I just can’t bring myself to it…)

Alright. I had planned to run on the treadmill this morning in lieu of my evening cycling class as I’m going out for Jamaican food! But I got lazy and decided to write instead. I know, lame excuse. Ah well, I’ll just… walk a lot today.

In any case, it was good to write. I do enjoy writing. It’s nice as a creative and reflective activity. Do you write too?

And with this question, I shall leave you.



18 November 2019

I reached a life milestone yesterday.

I hired a cleaner, for the first time in my life, to clean my condo.

It was a decision driven by sheer laziness. I had been meaning to clean my room “this Sunday” for the past months – I’m ashamed to count how many exactly.

Not that I did not clean my room at all during this period – that would be gross. What I did was basically vacuuming and toilet de-grossifying.

But the room had been left to gather an abundant layer of dust, and the shower room floor had become way too slippery for my idea of a safe shower, i.e. not involving broken necks (I have a vivid imagination when it comes to fatal accidents).

I had considered hiring a cleaner for a while. Part of me knew I’d never get to it as each Sunday passed and no cleaning happened.

I’d just been putting it off because I worried the cleaner wouldn’t do it right. That she wouldn’t clean all the things I normally clean, that she wouldn’t put things back where they belong.

Yesterday I finally bit the bullet. A work colleague uses a cleaner recommended by her agent. She said the cleaner did a decent job. So I decided to join the club.

Pre-visit I created a detailed task breakdown of all the things that needed to be cleaned plus which equipment to use. I wasn’t sure which approach to go: let the cleaner do her thing or present her with the list and watch her like a hawk.

Colleague said go with the flow. So I left my list to the side and watched in fascination as the cleaner worked her way around my room, cleaning nooks and crannies and even the tall wooden-glass partition separating the room (that took a while).

After two and a half hours (which is half an hour longer than the cleaner estimated pre-visit; I guess my room had more things to clean than she expected), she announced that she was done and (rather cleverly) said to let her know next time if something wasn’t cleaned properly and she’ll do it.

I did an inspection of the places I guessed she would have missed after she left, and I guessed right (under the drains is one). So I’ll be directing her to those spots next time.

Because there will be a next time. This morning I’m still opening cupboards and discovering she had cleaned them (to my surprise) and rearranged the contents of said cupboards in neat rows, which I would have thought would annoy me (my things being moved and stuff) but actually doesn’t!

I feel like my room has been visited by a magical cleaning elf. Yes, magical‘s the word.

And all that cost 400 baht. I’ve spent more than that on a meal. A thoroughly worthwhile investment. If only for the magic. *Happy sigh*

So yes, another life milestone reached: I’m now the kind of person who doesn’t clean my own room and hires a cleaner.

And oh it’s so wonderful.

Love from a clean room,


18 February 2019

Change is kind of nice.

The reason I’m saying this is I just read my post from 9th January and I’m realising how much things have changed, and how good I feel about that.

I’m not saying all change is good for everyone. Just that I’m rather fond of the the kind of change happening in my life right now.

So I just came back from an eight-day beach vacation with my (now six-month-long) boyfriend (confettis!). We spent twelve days together (counting the time we were in Bangkok), which is the longest we’ve ever been in each other’s presence. And it was fine! More than fine, in fact. It was absolutely wonderful. So we revisited the idea of moving in together (which requires me to quit my job and move to Hanoi).

Over the course of that conversation, we discussed what I’d be doing in Hanoi and what I should do regarding the job situation. The conversation was a short one, but where things stand after are miles apart from where they were before, hence the “good” change I’m talking about.

To give you a bit of background of the events of the past month post-talk with boss (mentioned in my previous post), I did feel better after sharing with her my plan to leave. She made some good suggestions, and the talk gave me perspective on my situation. With that new perspective and a new practice of reviewing my progress and development in our weekly meetings, I have been feeling better at work – re-engaged.

Whereas six weeks ago the thought of staying in this job for another eleven months was difficult to stomach, now it seems fine. More than fine, in fact. I’m enjoying what I’m doing again. It’s still not what I want to be doing for the rest of my life – that much hasn’t changed – but I’m choosing to look at the positives and there are enough to justify staying in it. For now.

So, going into the conversation with my boyfriend ten days ago, my feelings about my job were much more positive than what they were when I burst into hysterics mid-call back in January. And as we discussed my options regarding the move, I asked myself: why do I have to leave at the end of the year? After all, I only plan to move to Hanoi in July next year. Why not stay in the job for another six months and get a solid income, save up some funds for the move?

Initial reasons for leaving the job at the end of the year were two-fold: a) it gives me time to “prepare” for moving to another country and b) my housing contract expires in December. Looking at them again, b) is kind of silly as of course I can extend my contract at the end of the year for another 6-7 months (at least I think I can…).

And as for a), over the course of the conversation we began to look at the move differently. This doesn’t have to be the “be all, end all”. We’re not going to buy a house with a picket fence in Hanoi and settle down. The move may well be temporary. He doesn’t know yet where he wants to be long-term, and neither do I. Hanoi is good as a base for some time, but nothing binds us to it.

So I’m now looking at the move as a transition period. And I don’t think I have to leave my job six months before to prepare for a transition period. I can just leave, then transition, then during that time prepare for what’s coming next. Hanoi can be a place for me to pause and re-evaluate the different pieces of my life, and work out where I want to go next country-wise and professionally.

And now that I’m thinking like that, I’m not so stressed anymore. I don’t need to figure out between now and July 2020 what to do for the rest of my life. In fact, now it seems silly that just a month ago that’s exactly what I expected myself to do. And with the burden of stress now lifted, everything seems lighter. I’m enjoying my job more. I’m less confused, and no longer frustrated. And this is such a big change from just six weeks ago. The state I was back then and now… light years apart.

So yes, I’m happy. This has been a pretty drifty post. I’m in a drifty mood. I just wanted to drop by and check in with you guys. Now it’s time to focus and get back to work.

Lots of love and until next time,


29 October 2014

Life sweeps you up and carries you away.
Nothing you can do but let it.

And hope that when you come to a stop,
if only for a brief moment, you are still whole.

That is the only hope you can have,
Not to leave too much of you behind.

Because on the path of life,
To remain whole is all you can do.

Feeling poetic this morning. 🙂

Now I’ve gotta rush to work.


Love, as always,

But you already know that,


8 October 2014

I learnt another important life lesson yesterday: communication, communication, communication.

I have always taken pride in my ability to express myself clearly. Then yesterday happened.

A message I had sent was misunderstood and cost me an opportunity I was looking to pursue. I do not regret my actions. I thought well and hard before sending that message, and I genuinely believed (I still do) that it was the right action to take.

But now that I re-read it with a fresh pair of eyes, I see how it could have been taken to mean something completely different. And I take responsibility for not having been clear enough. I could have worded it differently, been more explicit, so on and so forth. The next time I send a message of this sort, I’ll be sure to re-read it more than once (which is what I now do) before sending. Maybe sit on it for a few hours to see if I can come up with something better (which is to say, clearer).

This misunderstanding has been on my mind since yesterday afternoon. I am not so much frustrated at the missed opportunity as with myself for not having been sufficiently clear in my communications. In a way, though, I am grateful this happened. I’d rather discover this weakness now than later. Thanks to yesterday, I will now be more careful with all my future communications. You could say yesterday’s events opened my eyes.

I am glad I am experiencing this now, just before I enter the world of full-time employment. Where I am sure I will find myself in this particular situation countless times, and where I do not intend to repeat the same mistake. Not too many times at least.

It’s all about communication, communication, communication. Be clear. Be concise. Be ready to assume the consequences. (That’s my mantra of the day.)

I’m going to end with a quote from Dan Gilbert that I’m borrowing from Brain Pickings (a brilliant site where I constantly find inspiration and courage). A quote that resonates with me even more now after yesterday’s events.

Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished. The person you are right now is as transient, as fleeting and as temporary as all the people you’ve ever been. The one constant in our lives is change.