Hi! Now that 2019 is over, here I am with my annual review of the year. New beginning was the theme of 2019. Indeed, what a year it had been! 

I struggle to find a word to summarise the year. Turbulence? Not quite. Rollercoaster? Sort-of. Unexpected? Perhaps.

While I can be uncomfortable to put my inner thoughts and feelings into words, I promise to sum up the year in my utmost honest way possible. 

Reviewing January – June 2019

To begin the story, it goes back to 24 December 2018, that fateful day where I received an unexpected shocker at work. It was a nasty surprise that was not well-managed. Who would like to begin the festive season with bad news? 

With the “crisis”, although I tried to remain composed, I was feeling jittery inside of me. However, at that point, I choose to trust the team. 

On 29 December, I left for my annual new year getaway. While I was on holiday, I tried to put it at the back of my head because I didn’t want it to affect my holiday. I wasn’t ready to face what was to come. 

Reviewing 2019 - Begin in Sapa, Vietnam

When I returned to work, I did my best to adapt quickly to the changes in the environment and dive into work wholeheartedly. I busied myself day in and day out. However, I was not able to shake off a sense of unhappiness inside me. 

I started questioning myself the equation between money and happiness. How much money do I need to be happy? 

I have never been money-driven because if I do, I would not have lived my life the way I have been living. I would not have left my job to travel, to go to Colombia to learn Spanish. 

Life is about living, learning and experiencing. It’s always about the quality of life. I want to do something I am very passionate about and at the same time getting a comfortable salary for it. Is it a tall order? 

I know, a comfortable salary is relative. But, I am not the lady who needs her constant Starbucks, branded bags, retail therapies and luxurious vacations. All I am asking for is a decent amount for my monthly expenses, some money for alcohol and travelling, then save up the rest. I am certainly not being unreasonable. 

It is also through this that I truly understood the meaning of this Chinese phrase, 钱不是万能 但没钱万万不能。 

Money money money!

It means that money is not everything, but one cannot do without money. This phrase had never felt so close to my heart until this fateful incident. I had the realisation that in today’s capitalist world, money plays a part in one’s happiness, no matter how big or how small.

Although I loved what I was doing, I was not happy with the payout. In my mind, I was not able to get over the fact that it was unjustifiable. Since I had pledged my alliances, I stood by my words.

Perhaps it was my loyalty, or maybe even a sense of naivety, or to put it bluntly, my stupidity, I choose to trust the judgement of the management. 

I have to admit that partly it was also my own doing. My fear of not being able to find something I am passionate about, my fear of moving out of my “comfort zone” and also going into the unknown. These were hindering me from ending my agony.

I always pride myself as a fighter, but in May, I threw in the towel. All I can say is, I am thankful that I had other corporate world work experiences to know my worth.

The silver lining of the whole episode was the friendships which got me through the tough times. 

With that, I closed the first traumatising half of the year and was more than ready to move on. 

Reviewing Jun-Dec 2019

The first thing on my to-do list was to revive and revamp this website! I took some time off to focus my energy on rebuilding this space with the help of my in-the-know friend, Luwee, who patiently guided me along. 

Then, along with the renewal of my tourist guide license in August, I made a splash into the guiding scene here in Singapore. I reckoned that since I cannot be travelling (overseas) all the time, why not “travel” in Singapore, make new friends and share stories with the travellers? 

Being a full time guide in 2019

In all honesty, I had my reservations coming into the guiding industry full-time. How much can this passion of mine feed me and fuel my wanderlust and also allow me to save? How could I ensure that I don’t fall into trying to balance my happiness with money? 

If you never try, you’ll never know they say. And you know what? It’s true! 

I’ve been in this for some months now, and I think I am doing alright. Still surviving well I guess! I am grateful for the for all the link-ups and opportunities. I also made some guide friends who selflessly share information, imparting their knowledge and teaching me all other things that I never knew about before. 

Every day is a brand new day, a brand new set of challenges with no predictable schedule where I am always on my toes.

I am embracing the freelancer lifestyle. I no longer suffer from Monday Blues. Instead of counting down to the weekends, I count the number of days I have to work before my next day off. That said, it also means sacrificing my weekends and holidays. I enjoy the occasional beer breaks and random meeting up with friends during the weekdays. Now, I can even do a weekday day-trip to Johor Bahru to escape from the long immigration line over weekends. 

Not all are a bed of roses because it certainly requires a large amount of discipline, time management and balancing act. 

In reality, it is like being in an office. On my good days, I feel that I am winning and there are also days I feel like I’m at my absolute worst. I suppose that is just part and parcel of work, of life. I am still learning every single day. 

So let’s delve into other aspects of 2019. 

Travel

2019 is the year that I have done the least travelling since 2012. 

I started the year in northern Vietnam. Then, I flew to Australia to spend some time with Tom and Shang in March. In August, I spent the long National Day holiday break in Kuching, Sarawak with my awesome volunteer friends from MyCommunity. 

MyCommunity volunteers!

Of course, there are times I wanderlust. However, with my newfound freedom, I know it is a matter of priority. Besides, my wanderlust is now my motivation to work harder. 

My source of comfort is that I have a couple of trips lining up in 2020. 

Health & Be Active

I remembered starting the year nursing a cold I caught in 2018. Not the best condition to be while travelling. Very thankful that apart from the usual flu and such, I am in a pink of health. It is also learning about knowing when NOT to push the body over its limit. 

My job allows me to be more active with the amount of walking. The walking is on top of my usual let-me-walk-the-few-bus-stops-distances. Once, I walked 15km back home from the Asian Civilisation Museum, I know that sounds pretty insane!

Apart from that, I also did some running, yoga, stretching and core training. However, I was not exercising as frequently as I should. Some days, I was busy that I just did not have the time or energy. And others, laziness consumed me.  

Personal Growth

2019 was a year of growth and change. Sometimes in life, we don’t figure things out right away. It’s only through experiences that we gain our wisdom and our confidence to guide us into our directions. 

Finding the direction - Reviewing 2019

I am better at knowing what I want; what I would entertain and what I don’t. 

Lessons learnt in 2019

  • Never take shit from people

I will not tolerate nonsense from people; I will not allow anyone to bully me. Never allow people to determine my worth because I know myself better. 

  • Never bring dates to places I frequent

I have my favourite hangouts in the city. To bring dates to my frequently go-to places also means that I am inviting them into a part of my life – my safe zones. It is just that I do not want to deal with any consequences. All I want to do is to return in the future without any memories of what might have happened. Really. 

Besides, what if they ended up frequenting those places? Bad idea. 

Reviewing 2019’s resolution

  • To declutter

I decluttered a fair bit at the beginning of the year to get rid of things I deemed unnecessary. Despite clearing those, I still find myself with many things. (Disclaimer: I am a conscience shopper; I did not keep adding to the pile!)

I know I can do more but then, I am trying! Still, I think I deserve some credits. 

  • Make a conscientious effort to be more environmental-friendly

A little bit helps. As much as possible, I would remember to bring my recycling bag and avoid using plastic bags. Sometimes I ended up eating at hawker centres or coffee shops because I decided to reduce the waste of packing food home. 

This year, I also invested in a tumbler, metal straws and takeaway food bag in my humble attempt to do my part for Mother Earth. Of course, I am not operating at 100% capacity. I am trying. Every little attempt counts! 

Dabao bag
  • Make healthier and wiser (food) choice

Although I claimed that beer is the only non-negotiable, I do crave for sugary cold drinks or ice-cream when I am out and about under the sun. I still love my tidbits, instant noodles and sweets. 

It is certainly not easy to find a balance when you are living in a food paradise! 

  • Read

The condition was that I had to read more non-fiction than fiction books. I am happy to announce that I have achieved this with a total of 3 books. 

2 non-fiction travel memoir and 1 novel. 

  1. Kapp to Capp by Reza Pakravan
  2. The Temporary Bride, a memoir of love and food in Iran by Jennifer Klinec
  3. Surprise me by Sophie Kinsella

Not proud of the number of reads but at least I attained the objective! 

  • Run Standard Chartered half marathon

By the time I wanted to sign up for the race, there was no more availability. Er, I tried. 

3/ 5 resolutions achieved. Not bad at all. 


In conclusion, for all the things that happened, they happened for a reason. I am thankful for the journey of lessons and opportunities. I am in a good place right now and hopeful with what 2020 can bring! 

Pamela Loh

Pamela, born and raised in Singapore. She is a dreamer, explorer, traveller and local tour guide.

A perfect day for Pam would be being on the road, having beers and endless of great conversations that shape a wider perspective.

Come say hi!

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