Lim Chee Aun

2017 in review

I don't make new year's resolutions. I've tried it, it doesn't work and I always get too lazy to resolve them. Turns out the best way for me to do things is to go with the flow and just do it along the way. ✓

Now it's that time again to look back and review my year.

First, the little things:

Statistically speaking, I've attended 8 conferences, volunteered in 3 of them, organised 6 Kopi.JS hangouts, co-organized two Geek Brunch hangouts, co-organised a "unhackathon" and launched 7 side projects this year. 📈

Year of 360° photos

I took quite a few 360° photos. Here are my favourites, which I think are seriously cool. They are not exactly 360° photos but turned into "tiny planet" (stereographic) projections.

Gardens by the Bay, Flower Dome
Millenia Walk, the rooftop view from inside
People's Park Complex and Lepark at the rooftop
Gardens by the Bay trees
Sky Terrace 428 at The Peak in Hong Kong

Year of design

I designed quite a lot more things this year. Seems like my creative juices started flowing ever since RedDotRubyConf last year.

The sites I've designed (and built):

Geek Brunch SG web site on January 2017
Geek Brunch SG web site on October 2017
GeekCamp Singapore web site (2017) web site
3D earth web site
F1 SG web site
Super Silly Hackathon web site
Puppetron web site redesigned web site
Kopi.Guide web site
Venusaur project web site

That's 9 sites, which I think is a lot.

The logos I've designed:

Geekcamp Singapore logo proposal
iOS Conf SG 2017 logo proposal
Engineers.SG logo proposal
TechLadies logo proposal

And… a manifesto poster?

The Geek Path manifesto poster

Okay, this starts to feel like a portfolio site 😆

For some of these sites and designs, I planned to write down more details but didn't manage to find the time 😅 However, it's been rather unexpected for me to churn out so much creativity this year that I suspect I might just get dried up next year 😆

Hong Kong & Macau

From the beginning of the year, I've been raring to attend Webconf.Asia and also travel to Hong Kong since I've never been there (only as a stopover). I bought the early bird ticket on February 25 (Charis told me that I'm actually the first buyer 😱).

On June 2, I departed from Singapore to Hong Kong International Airport (HKG). From the moment I stepped out of the airport, I already felt the intense summer heat that seems way more unbearable than Singapore's. Instead of the train, I took a bus from the airport to my hotel.

One of the first meal I ate was this scrambled egg with ham and toast, and "lai cha".

Scrambled egg with ham and toast, and "lai cha", in Hong Kong

The next day, I went for the conference and saw this:

Banana, apple and snacks on a table at Webconf.Asia

Pretty healthy options there 😉.

I particularly like this lanyard design that shows the upside-down schedule so that it's easy for the wearer to view it. Notice that the attendee name and conference name is still upright so that other people can read when socializing 👍

Webconf.Asia lanyard with up-side-down schedule

I saw Hui Jing's talk and very glad to finally see talks by Vitaly Friedman and Bruce Lawson. The conference was amazing, after-party was pretty chill and after that somehow I manage to hang out with MiniTheory folks and ate this amazing meal at Joy Hing Roasted Meat restaurant.

Char siew with vegetable, rice and "lai cha" at Joy Hing Roasted Meat restaurant in Hong Kong

After the conference, I strolled around Hong Kong, took the tram, took the ferry, ate steamed milk pudding, embracing the 32° Celcius weather (but actually feels more like 44° 🔥🔥🔥🔥), took a hilly-and-speedy bus ride to Tai O, walked up lots of stairs at Ngong Ping, almost got stranded due to missing a bus stop, took the Ngong Ping Crystal cable car, went up to Sky100 Observation Deck, took a mini-bus to Victoria Peak then hike back down on feet, and took a pretty cool 360° photo & video on Sky Terrace 428.

Buildings and the sky in Hong Kong

Here are my observations notes:

  • Left-hand traffic on the roads, but keep right on escalators. 🤔
  • Mandarin and English are still acceptable when ordering or buying things.
  • Circle K and 7-eleven everywhere.
  • Lots of FORTRESS stores.
  • Hong Kong has one additional form of public transport; the tram. They are like buses but slimmer? It runs pretty slow but very, very cheap.
  • Lots of public toilets (free) and signs to find them.
  • Metallic balloons are not allowed in stations or trains.
  • The queue lanes for the buses can be pretty confusing. The queues themselves can be long sometimes and can be confused as pedestrian traffic while walking down the street.
  • People seems to always prefer sitting on the upper deck of a double-decker bus, even when the lower deck is empty.

I was planning to go to more scenic nature places (hiking?) but had to pivot due to the weather. ☀️

So I went to Macau by taking the TurboJET boat from Hong Kong Macau Ferry Terminal to Macau Maritime Ferry Terminal. It's a quick one-hour ride and they don't seem to be strict about the ticket departure timing, so I could go earlier and ride on it earlier than the stated departure time on my ticket.

Macau was surprisingly surreal.

Scenery of Macau from Fortaleza do Monte

I get to see old buildings and streets…

Old buildings on a hill in Macau

…and super huge fancy buildings that I can't even fit into my photo canvas.

Grand Lisboa hotel and casino in Macau
Galaxy Macau resort and casino

I was hoping that the weather would be colder but it's only slightly less warmer 😅. However, thanks to all these huge fancy buildings, there were more shaded areas and more free air-con than Hong Kong 😂

I ate steamed milk pudding (with sweetened red beans), tried their famous pork chop bun, almost got lost inside the casino at Galaxy Macau, saw a huge bottle of Coca-Cola, visited two A-Ma Temple(s), saw Eiffel Tower again, watched The House of Dancing Water, and rode on the Golden Reel on top of Studio City.

View on top of Golden Reel in Studio City in Macau

My observation notes:

  • HKD and MOP currencies are accepted equally, despite the small exchange rate difference. Basically, $1 HKD is treated the same as $1 MOP, so it's okay to mix the notes together when paying.
  • Portuguese words everywhere, so I needed to "Google Translate" a lot.
  • "Saida" means Exit in Portuguese.
  • For some reason, durian (ice cream, and parfait?) is kind of popular, besides the pork chop bun.
  • Pastelaria (Portuguese for pastry shop) everywhere.
  • Huge and flashy casinos everywhere.
  • I kept seeing "Mocha" everywhere too. Seems like a gaming club or cafe.
  • I tried to buy Macau Pass for taking buses. It's not sold at the ferry terminal but only been told to buy it in 7-eleven. 😅
  • Google Maps doesn't show the complete bus routes, with lots of missing bus stops and wrong route lines. 😅
  • Bus stop names are in Portuguese. 😅
  • Uber is pretty cheap. Taxis are actually okay too.
  • There are no trains.

On June 10, I flew back to Singapore. I'll be back again to go more places when the weather is a bit more forgiving 😅

Some stats:

Tokyo (again)

I needed an excuse to visit Japan again, then found DevRelCon Tokyo rather interesting and immediately bought the early bird tickets. It's quite different than the other web-related or developer-related conferences, as the talks are more about… well, developer relations. I'm not a developer relations person but it's refreshing to listen to talks about the developer community and perspectives from all different directions. It's even more surprising that the conference is organized by Atsushi Nakatsugawa who also organizes DevRel meetup in Singapore.

I flew on July 27. It's a much shorter trip this time compared to my previous trips, because weather forecast showed that it's going to be warm. Well, yes, it's warm, though not as hot as Hong Kong.

Since I don't really plan my itineraries, I usually plan on-the-fly. I bumped into a random festival, ate spicy ramen despite the warm weather, heard real-life anime-like Summer-ish cicada sound effects, saw a pixelated Astro Boy, observed the Kimi No Na wa stairs ("Your Name" in English), ate my favorite unagi don (a.k.a. unadon or unaju), impressed by real-time Japanese-to-English translators in the conference, saw a kid riding on a bicycle simulator machine, ate my favorite uni chutoro don, never gonna miss my Cremia ever again, and obviously ate some sushi.

Uni chutoro don in Tokyo, Japan
Cremia ice cream in Tokyo, Japan

Stats again:

I flew back to Singapore on July 31 and still continue saying “はい”. 😅

"Kid running with a dog" painting at Izuei Honten, Tokyo, Japan

Looking back

2015 was the year when my life took an unexpected turn. 2016 was the year when things turn around again into a surprisingly positive way.

This year has been quite positive, from the outside. I volunteered in a few events, designed a few artworks, built a few cool side projects and visited two countries.

From the inside, this year has been both wonderful and sad for me. I've been very open and public about most of the things I do. I "open-sourced" my life timeline on I "open-sourced" my whereabouts on Nevertheless there are still some things that I never share to anyone, no matter how close they are.

I've been "blind" for a very, very long time. This year I gained sight and experienced a lot of wonderful new things. Things that I felt are too good to be true. Things that I can't believe is real and happening. When things are going too well, I'm afraid that they could fall apart at any second. I felt that I shouldn't have the right to experience good things when people around me are suffering. I felt that I should wait for other people to be happy first before me. My self-sacrifice instinct always kicks in just to make others happy, which then makes myself unhappy.

I wrote about being invisible last year. I mentioned that I don't mind being invisible, as I would rather make other people visible. I'm always empathetic, trying to be a good listener and trying to be nice. Unfortunately, I realised that being highly empathetic can eventually hurt my health. This kind of strikes me that everything starts to make sense, on why I still feel empty, directionless and sometimes stressed.

It's been pretty scarce for me to have a good, long and comfortable conversation with someone. It doesn't have to be a group of people, just one is enough. Organizing Kopi.JS for the past 3 years have made me realise this even more, as I slowly unable to have a proper conversation with anyone anymore. As I thought I finally found someone special this year but I felt more invisible and distant as time passes. People think that I'm popular due to my previous work, therefore I should have a lot of friends. I know that I have friends and I'm not alone. But in the end, I still do feel terribly lonely.

I envy those people who can have proper conversations one-on-one, without any disturbances or people chipping in and suddenly taking over the conversation. I hate it when the waiter always chip in at the wrong timing to clean up the table or serve more water or beer. Whenever I talk with someone, I naturally try to make it a group chat when there's more than one people around me. Whenever I talk to someone, I always prepare for the moment when someone else will immediately interrupt and render me speechless for the rest of the conversation. The moment when that happens, I simply feel too tired to continue and eventually stopped talking. That always make me feel like no one is genuinely interested to listen to me at all, as they won't ask me to continue my topic after the interruption or simply forgot about it altogether.

I'm empathetic yet I yearn for empathy from someone. I'm curious yet I yearn for curiosity from someone. I care for other people, yet I yearn for people caring about me. My desires lead me to being very pushy sometimes, especially when I don't get what I've been yearning for, and that made me feel like an insecure selfish jerk.

I made a lot of mistakes, again and again. As I try so hard to make someone happy, I realised that I made things worse and unintentionally caused more unhappiness.

This year, I gained sight and in the end, I lost it. I became "blind" again. Back to zero. Back to this feeling of unwantedness and emptiness. Back to my old self of being an emotionless puppet. Back to being misunderstood, ignored and invisible.

In a way, it feels almost like two years ago. I would be lying if I said I didn't cry at all.

Sunset view from my seat in the plane, flying from Japan

I appreciate and will never forget all the things that have happened. I'm not sure how long it'll take for me to recover and gain my sight again. I have no idea what's in store for me next year. I don't know how my future would look like either.

In spite of everything, I keep telling myself that life moves on.