Compilation of my best 12 shots of 2019

Wow, it’s really the end of 2019. Time passes extremely fast and just in a few hours comes 2020. The year we as Malaysians grew up dreaming about. The slogan was “Wawasan 2020“, which meant Vision 2020. A goal that all Malaysians chanted and rejoiced as the then (and now) Prime Minister, Mahathir announced it to the nation. A scenario I was not expecting. The country’s goal for 2020 was to be a self-sufficient industrialised nation. But unfortunately, we are far from its progress. We still dwelling around race-based politics like a bunch of uneducated hooligans. Democracy in this country has forgotten to strive for equality for all, not just for some. We are multiracial by name but I hope we are more than that. Our leaders could expand it further through good & fair policies, educate mature & rationale mindsets and eradicate extremism & abolish racial supremacy.

Despite all that, 2019 was somewhat good… at least for me. Although I didn’t get to travel as much as 2018 but I managed to cross off another item from my travel bucket list. And that place is… *drumroll*… New York City!

Quincy Market, Boston
Reuben and Jen Simmons at An Event Apart Boston

In May, I was sent to Boston to attend the An Event Apart conference. It is a web related conference where great minds come together and share innovations, ideas and skills. Most of the topics surrounded around “Inclusive Design”. In a nutshell, it is making informed decisions when designing apps, web apps and anything design related through understanding user diversity and to include as many people as possible. I even met the amazing Jen Simmons, a senior web developer for Mozilla. Her session on intrinsic layout and CSS Grid was one of my favourites. She could break down and elaborate on things in layman terms. Making her delivery spot on and easy to understand. She also introduced her own Youtube channel called Layoutland. Other amazing minds included Rachel Andrew, Eric Meyer, Jefferey Zeldman, Dan Mall and more. It was the most inspiring and educating conferences I’ve ever been to.

Boston Lobster Roll

After the conference, Fann and I stayed for a day in Boston to sightsee. We had the best Lobster rolls, clam chowders, oysters, mussels, you name it. After that, we took a train down to New York. We stayed for 10 days and it was the best experience of my life. I have always wanted to visit New York City and see the Empire State Building. We walked around the stores, got lost in Manhattan, relaxed at the beautiful parks around the city, had our first American diner experience in Brooklyn and we also found one of the best burgers I’ve ever eaten in my life.

Street photography in Manhattan
Me taking a phone picture of the Empire State Building

Manhattan was great. I tried to capture as many angles of the Empire State Building as I could because it was so iconic. Everywhere you turn, you could see this massive structure. Honestly, up close the building looks like a bunch of old bricks but I found it beautiful only when you see it from a distance. Also, we watched our first Broadway show in Broadway called The Book of Mormon, a musical comedy. On our final day, we attended the Bugs Bunny at the Symphony II at the Lincoln Center. It has been my dream to watch this orchestra and what better way to watch it while it was in New York City, played by the New York Philharmonic.

After I came back, I did a couple of bring back sharings for my team. One was a summary of the things I’ve learnt at the conference and the other was a 2-hour workshop to teach the team about the power of CSS Grid. I also did a Inclusive Design one for the international team, hoping that they would find it useful as well.

Little girl gives us a lovely smile after receiving her first portrait photo

My First Selfie also happened this year. We have reached our 3rd chapter thanks to all the new and old sponsors. We managed to raise some money and here are our achievements. Here’s a breakdown of what we achieved:

  1. Gave out 622 framed photos for the elderly and children
  2. Gave out 350 water filters to families in 6 villages
  3. Built 10 water pumps across a few different villages
  4. Sponsored a family with food supplies and stationery for the children
  5. Sponsored the expansion of a training farm that provides FREE agricultural education to the women in the villages

To put everything in perspective, we are happy to announce that we have met goal numbers as below

  1. More than 1500 framed portrait photos were given to villagers of Siem Reap for FREE.
  2. 600 water filters were distributed to 600 families who will be able to consume clean drinkable water.
  3. We’ve built up to 16 water pumps that would benefit lots of families in various villages.

Villagers shows us gratitude by showing us the Cambodian Sampeah sign

[Update] After chapter 3, we found out that the training farm was already fully sponsored by a lovely lady called Sue Thompson. Therefore, the money we allocated for the training farm went to the reconstruction of the FACCH charity school that had been torn down by the Siem Reap Apsara Authorities, few weeks after we came back. The money we raised went to the construction of the hostel that would house the orphans that are under the care of Monk Hun.

We are always in need for more donations to help even more villagers. If you want to learn more about it, you can read my latest post on Chapter 3 here.

Sunrise in Bali

Then, Fann and I traveled to Bali for a week. We had to wind down for a while. Stayed in Ubud but almost every single day, we chased the sunrise and sunsets. I was so happy that I managed to capture many beautiful photos that I would share for the posts to come. However, you can already see them in the compilation below. I have always been amazed by the sunlight of Bali. Chasing the sun is extremely hard work, but it pays off once you see it with your own eyes. Everyday, we had to wake up at 4am and sometimes 3am. The distance to many of my photography spots are not easy to get to and situated far up on the mountains or deep down in the valleys. Research and patience has always been the key to my photographs. The tools I use? It’s the same as the ones I’ve always been using. It’s a 6 year old Nikon D800.

Colours of Bali
Fann and her new dress

The last two days, we spent chilling at the beautiful cliff resort of La Joya Biu Biu. It is a simple resort, but it has one of the most amazing views of Bali. It even has its own private beach that’s tucked away under the cliff. We had a great time and it was amazing to meet up with my Balinese friend Boby as well. He brought us to the most amazing food places that suits the local palettes. Spicy enough and zero western influenced Balinese food.

At work, it has been ups and downs. Love Week happens during February and the company has an activity where everyone is assigned an angel. This angel will pamper you with gifts or acts of love throughout the entire week while staying anonymous. My Angel in particular knows me really well. She (Yes, I later found out) gave me French pastries, printed my photo journeys with Fann and decorated my workspace with so much love. I absolutely enjoyed it. She even made rose out of Coke cans, which if you didn’t know that I collect. It was the best Love Week I’ve experienced.

Oflavia getting blessed by Nezha and Guan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy
Lou Sang time

The employees from the Chinese ethnicity also helped to pull of one of the most amazing culture days during Chinese New Year. We had lots of activities such as Lou Sang, fortune telling, getting blessed by the Goddess of Mercy, A gambling den, and best of all, we even managed to hire a Lion Dance troupe that went around the office to bless every single workspace in the office.

The company is growing rapidly and we are trying our best to accommodate it. We did 1 mini hackathon and 2 big hackathons with the Tech team in a year. It was tiring, but the outcome was fantastic. One of the highlights of the year was that we have built a nice relationship with the tech team and marketing team. This not only allows us to communicate easily but are able to produce the best things from a web and tech point of view. The collaboration between teams is beautiful and so productive. There are still lots of things to learn, but we know that we are going to get there.

We also did our first Pot Stickers Christmas party, or so our friends call it “Gyoza Xmas Party”. We made pot stickers and invited our closest friends over to spend Christmas. It was warm and I enjoyed it very much.

2020 is coming and I have to start thinking about what to do in the coming years. One of my goals is to travel more and to bring my parents to travel as well. Let’s hope for a great year ahead and may the flying cars become a reality.

As always, here is the list my 12 favourite shots from 2019. Click on the images below to enlarge and learn more

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