Monthly Archives: December 2013

You’re Still the One: The Backstory

November 18, Somewhere Over the Skies, 22:30

Boy: Hi, my name is Robbie. How about you? *sic*

Me: I’m Cole. It’s nice to meet you.

Boy: It’s nice to meet you, too. What are those?

Me: These are headphones. Want to try them on?

Boy: *nods* *grins* I CAN HEAR SOMETHING!

He’s 3. So adorable.

November 19, Suvarnabhumi International Airport, 00:30

Ten hours.

Ten effin hours to kill.

Ten ridiculously long hours to kill at Suvarnabhumi during the dead hours of the night; not even coffee-shops to bunk in, makeup counters to raid, restaurants to go about and try, book-shops to explore new titles. Ten hours without internet connection. Ten hours with nobody to talk to, nobody to exchange silly stories with, nobody to laugh with. Ten hours of solitude in one of the busiest, if not the busiest places on earth. With thousands, maybe millions of people occupying the same space as you do. Sea of faces and lives and you don’t even get a chance to know them cos they’re all thinking of their next stop.

Transient, that’s the word. They literally just pass you by as if you don’t exist. Is this what purgatory is like? The melting pot of lost souls floating around before you get to your final destination? I love to travel. But God, do I hate airports. And I really need to pee. I found an empty lounge which would serve as my home for the next 10 hours. If I take my luggage with me, somebody might snatch it and where will I stay? I don’t want to sit next to the canoodling couple, I still have some pride left in me. I don’t want to sit next to the male backpackers, that might send the wrong message. And no, not next to the old man.

But I really need to pee.

07:30

Oh oh oh! The check-in counter is open! Starbucks, I need to go straight to Starbucks. Oh no, must change money first. No, change your clothes first!

Finally at the boarding gate. Lao Central Airlines, let’s see if you’re okay.

 Five reasons why you should fly Lao Central Airlines:

 5 It’s relatively clean–no weird aircraft smell

4 Cabin crew members are accommodating, very Lao 🙂

3 ON TIME. Opening of Check-in counter, gates, and boarding–all smooth sailing.

2.2 The only LCC I’ve booked with that provide LUGGAGE ALLOWANCE OF 20kg AND NO RIDICULOUS HIDDEN FEES. The price quoted is exactly the price you’ll pay, no additional.

2.1 When they said *snacks*, it’s pad thai + fruit cup + dessert. EVEN TASTIER THAN THAI AIRWAYS, I kid you not.

1 CHEAPER & CONVENIENT. Above everything else, IT’S AFFORDABLE. No need to cross to Udon, you guys!!!

 This trip is going well, so far. I already love Lao Central.

Joma, 13:00

Ah, Joma, I missed you so damned much. From my Vientiane Times internship and data gathering for my undergraduate research up until today that I’m taking a whack at graduate school, you’ve been there. Oh hang on, Mina’s here. We’re going to her dress-fittings. Can you imagine? Me accompanying my BFF to dress-fittings. Either she married too early or I’m friggin old.

 —

November 20,  Lao ITECC, 20:30

It’s a different wedding. Usually I attend weddings with friends or family. This one, however, was a little more disconcerting. I had nobody to talk to. Cos the person I hangout with is the one who just got married.

22:00

I can’t do it. I can’t sing this song. It’s mushy and romantic and intense. I am not capable of feeling the feeling of this song. But oh oh oh, there goes the first note. And oh oh oh—I’m gone.

November 21, Sengpachan Hotel, 07:50

Dad: Where are you going to eat lunch?

Me: *cracks an eye open* somewhere.

Dad: Okay. *locks the door, leaves the room, then I hear keys jingling* Do you want to have lunch at Khop Chai Deu?

Me: *dammit, I almost forgot. It’s a tradition* Yeah. Okay.

Dad: Alright. See you at 12.

Joma, 13:15

Man: Excuse me? Do you speak English?

Me: Yes.

Man: Can you help me? I bought a new tablet but the keypad is in…*comes over, shows tablet*

Me: Oh, in Thai.

Man: Would you know how to change it? *stands behind me (not too close anyway) and looks over my shoulder*

He’s at least 65. This week is friggin weird.

 15:00

 Oh. Oh.

What the hell just happened.

Somebody wipe the smile off my damn face, please.

Max’s Grill, 21:30

Mina: Siew, you better come back.

Me: Ah. That depends. *tilts head*

 —

November 22, Sengpachan Hotel, 04:00

Damn. *dazed*

SVB, 20:00

My sis-in-law’s belly is so huge I’m scared she might pop anytime soon. Omigod, I really am going to be an aunt. My brother is going to be a Daddy. Why is everything going so fast!

No, don’t die, batteries. What the hell.

Alright that’s it, where are those things you call a power bank? Hah! Found them. God, I love airports.

 —

November 23, Los Banos, 06:30

Hey, Room. How you doin’? Me? I’m good. Now shut up with the niceties, I need to sleep. I need to know that I’m not dreaming. That this week had been real. That when I wake up, nothing is ever the same again.

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You’re Still The One: The Wedding

18 Months Ago

Mina: Siew, let’s go out. I miss you.

Me: Pai kin cocktail wa?

Mina: Nor nor nor! I bring my gik.

Mina and Mant met on Facebook. The first time they met face to face was that particular night. They were inseparable since.

The Eventful Night

The Eventful Night. Sorry, I can’t find the photo with Mant!

Present Time

…I’m at Suvarnabhumi International Airport waiting for my next flight to Vientiane. I smile to myself—disbelief, happiness and an emotion that I don’t want to name swirling at the pit of my stomach—my BFF is tying the knot with this particular gik. 

The Day Before

The moment I landed, I hopped on the taxi to my home away home. My Dad is on assignment in VTE so I didn’t have a hard time looking for a place to stay. Running on zero sleep, I headed to Joma to get started on my readings while waiting for Mina’s call. Just because I flew out for my friend’s wedding that doesn’t mean I’m off the responsibilities of a graduate student. Mina picked me up a few hours later and drove straight for her dress-fitting.

Wedding Dress Diaries

Wedding Dress Diaries. Mina trying on her wedding gown–no superstitious beliefs whatsoever!

You see, she’s already married. A Lao Wedding is composed of two parts: 1) The Basii or the traditional ceremony; and 2) The Wedding Party aka Where Everyone Gets All Drunk and Merry. Her basii was held the previous week but since all the ballrooms in Vientiane were booked already on the same day (surge of Weddings everywhere, November is the onset of the Wedding Season), they’d decided to hold the ceremonies on two separate days. Which is not bad, if you ask me. It just gives you more reason to party hah!

After the much-needed catching up over tum mee (noodle salad) and tam mak khoung (Papaya salad, God I missed these!) with my Partner-In-Crime for four years, we went straight to her house and well, rehearsed for a wedding song—that she requested me to sing. At Lao ITECC (like their World Trade Center), no less.

This singing thing was a drunken promise. We were out one night and started babbling about plans for the future and all that good stuff. Mina then asked me if I would visit Laos again and sing at her wedding, so naturally I agreed. It’s funny cos she remembers THAT but still having a hard time remembering that I’m a vegetarian (used to)!

 The Big Day

I woke up pretty early that day. Maybe it’s excitement or anxiety, I don’t really know.

Oh, the luxury

Oh, the luxury

The Dad reminded me not to get trashed during the wedding. I’d really like to assure him that I won’t be able to drink anyway cos of the dreaded song number looming over me but I didn’t tell anyone in my family that I’ll be singing to avoid the..uhh..pressure.

My friends and I joined Mina in prepping for the reception at her home. It was my first time to be right behind the wedding scenes. It was busy and frantic—makeup and hairsprays were flying all over the place. At the back of my head, I was still reeling. Still in shock that she’s married. Still wondering when—ANYYYWAY.

Busy busy busy photo-ops

Busy busy busy photo-ops

We arrived at Lao ITECC and I immediately assumed position as the Bride’s entourage. The couple’s entourage is composed of friends and relatives lined up along the entrance to the hall and greet the guests arriving. I have never said so much ‘sabaidee’s’ in my life. That’s how much people joined the celebration closing to a thousand guests.

Nobody recognised me. Can’t blame them. The Cole they knew was the chubby girl in sinh. When recognition finally dawned on their faces, it felt like a validation. Ten months of control had paid off. And I couldn’t be any happier.

'Last Night' in PicStitch: Me at the party wearing Pao's sinh. Yes, my size 2 friend's sinh! Then the bride and me. The shoes I wore at the wedding that nearly killed my feet. And my makeup--Christina Aguilera circa The Voice S3-inspired

‘Last Night’ in PicStitch: Me at the party wearing Pao’s sinh. Yes, my size 2 friend’s sinh! Then the bride and me. The shoes I wore at the wedding that nearly killed my feet. And my makeup–Christina Aguilera circa The Voice S3-inspired

Finally it was time to sing. When I was still rehearsing, I was kind of cringing at the thought of singing at a wedding. ‘How can you sing something romantic if you’re feeling bitter?’ I argued to myself.

Crooning a Shania classic wasn’t as crazy as I thought it would be. First, I thought I was going to have a hard time channelling that emotion—of happiness, love and undying devotion. Perhaps, it went well cos this was for a friend and her doting husband. The whole number was for a really good friend who has saved my ass plenty of times during my time in Vientiane. She’s my friend not cos I was just in Laos but cos she has taught me a lot of things, even if she doesn’t know that. She was very supportive, generous and open-minded. And then I realized, I shouldn’t be surprised that she’s married. She’ll be a good wife and a mother. She just will.

Dance the Night Away

Dance the Night Away

When the party at ITECC ended (I was barefoot already) and we then carried the whole crew to back to their place—apparently, it’s a tradition to send off the couple to their home and continue the party there, just to make sure they’re safe and okay. I was talking to more people that I have ever done in all the social events I’ve been to. It felt wonderful. Everything felt wonderful.

I could just imagine how Mina and Mant felt—embarking on a new journey as a married couple surrounded with family and friends. I wish them all the best. I wish them good health, more wealth and happiness for every single day that they spend together and apart. I wish them beautiful and smart babies.

And I wish that this song will always remind you of the love you have for each other and never forget that you are meant to be together.

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