Today I saw an instagram post from my Japanese friend, T, that her kid was taking pictures of her. Because of the pandemic, I have not been able to visit her and her family more so long so I asked her to show me the pictures and her response was the pictures were deleted right away because they only had a fat woman on. Then I asked her if she knew her BMI and her reply was

According to BMI I am below the average but still… I feel fat. My height is 158.4cm and my goal or ideal … target is 46kg. I was 43 kg when I was pregnant. -T

This is so wrong, T! – I wish she could hear me shouting. However, this is exactly how I measure myself.

I had so much to respond to T’s message and yet I didn’t know where to start. T is, a mother of a 6 years old, 36 years old. I have never seen her ‘fat’ since the day I met her in Shanghai (and that was 12 years ago), not even during her pregnancy. Back in Shanghai days, we and other 2 girls used to meet for brunch every weekend. Every week we took turns to find an interesting restaurant to try or revisit. We each had certain requests for a restaurant. It obviously had to have good food and preferably good ambience. Price was something we needed to consider too because we were all sort of expats just started working in Shanghai and the living costs in Shanghai were already pretty high. But

‘ Is that dish going to make us fat?’ was the last thing we concerned.

Our weekend brunch included love life updates and gossips of colleagues and people in Shanghai expats gang. And we always ended with coffee and cakes. Amongst the four of us, T was the one who loved chocolate cake the most and the only one who always had sugar in her coffee. And I probably was the one who concerned about the weight the most but it never stopped me from dinning out or trying new restaurants. As far as I know, T has never been on any kind of diet and she is not the sporty kind. I simply do not recall us talking about weight or diet and this is why I was surprised to know T is also trapped with THE IMAGE – skinny = good-looking.

I managed to stay ‘skinny’ (BMI slightly underweight) from my 20s for about 2 decades till 3 years ago. Growing up in Hong Kong, I was used to be told that I was a bit chubby or not too fat. But the fact is that my weight was always within the healthy range; and I was never overweight. And yet, I secretly tried different diets and even took pills that claimed to help weight loss. Not surprisingly, I did not lose any weight by those pills but almost collapsed in metro one day I was on my way to school. I dreamed about going into a machine that could even up the weight of fat and skinny persons and came out all slimed down. So when I finally maintained underweight, I was relieved, joyful and proud. My body size was not agreed by my family but I was confident and reluctant to listen. I never thought I needed to fight with weight again till 2 years ago.

About 4 or 5 years ago, I quitted smoking and picked up running. Then I started weight training 1 year later. Since then my weight has just been bit by bit going upwards and till this day I’ve gained 3kg. I’ve now gone from BMI slightly underweight to normal weight. Other changes with my body are my body fat which falls into the lowest range and my body muscle into the highest range of my age. When I look at myself in a mirror, I see muscle on my arms and abdomen first time in my life.

I know I should be happy with the changes of our body but the truth is I am furious every time I see the number on my scale. Worse still, the more I hate the number, the more I step on it as if I could change the number just by stepping on it.

I have a list of my OCD with weight.

  • I weighed myself every day since probably my early 20s and now I lose count with the times I weigh myself every day if I did not have a smart scale to record everything.
  • I worry about going on holiday because it’s always difficult to track the local food.
  • I travel with my scale if I can’t get the hotel to provide me a scale.
  • I workout 5-6 times a week.
  • I tell myself I want to live a healthy life and stay physically strong but 200g extra on my scale upsets me every time till it disappears from the scale.
  • I used to allow myself to ‘overeat’ crips and cookies because I was prepared to go to toilet and make myself throw up the extra.
  • I log in everything I eat on my food tracking app every day.

I don’t know if it is going to help me in any ways by admitting all these insane behaviours but I hope and believe it’s going to do something to my problem one way or another.

Growing up in Hong Kong, I’d always been haunted by weight. Weight is like a demon who presumptuously follows me day and night. It troubles me and agitates me. Lately I have shared my frustration with a few friends and women in my training group. To my surprise, my frustration is not unique to Hong Kong or asian women whereas is experienced globally. Women of different age groups, professions, financial status all have gone or are going through certain unpleasant levels of self-deprecating because of their weight. My dutch teacher, early 50, size 36, was depressed for over half year because she gained ONE clothing size during menopause. One woman, early 40, from my CrossFit training group, is constantly angry because she gained 6kg in half year and can’t shed it off. Then another younger girl, early 20, also from my training group, is clinically underweight and still wants to lose more. And my dear friend, T, who wants to stay slightly underweight.

WHAT IS WRONG WITH US? We need help or this world needs help?

We are all alone and never alone


Wifredo Lam : Fata Morgana, 1941.

Wifredo Lam : Fata Morgana, 1941.

Been in Rotterdam for about 10 days joyfully all by myself till this very moment as I write.  I feel alone.

I am at a comedy show organised by an expat community for non-Dutch speakers to mingle as well as enjoy something that they can verbally understand. I look around, there might be around 20-30 people but I was the only one who is here alone. Everybody is talking to someone sitting next to him/her and all of sudden I realised I am alone here, really alone.

A city girl like myself is very familiar with loneliness associated with hectic lifestyle and limited living space due to highly dense population. I always find it very ironic that how come the more people you are surrounded, the more lonely you feel but it’s brutally true. Every time I want to meet up with my best friends Kayee and Puiyee, we have to start talking about the date 1-2 months in advance otherwise it will never happen. They all have their jobs, kids, families to take care as well as their personal business. The truth is they barely have time for themselves and spending time with us is equivalent to having their own time. Do they feel lonely? Kayee once told me she only has me and Puiyee to talk to because she really doesn’t have time for friends and gradually they stopped contacting her. Kayee and Puiyee are friends from my school days and we are like families and that’s why they make time for me. The long working hours in cities, especially in Hong Kong, leave very little time for people to spend on themselves and with their friends and families and therefore they have to prioritise. I am very lucky to more than a handful of close friends who kindly put me on their prioritised list but I know not everyone is as lucky as me.

Compared to Hong Kong, people in Rotterdam are much more sociable. Neighbours greet to me whenever I see them. Most of the time they make conversation with me in Dutch till I tell them I don’t speak Dutch. Then they switch to English. Every second day, I go out for a run along the harbour. Most joggers greet me by lifting a finger, a hand and/or a big smile. Every time I sit in a cafe, the person sitting next to me gives me an acknowledging smile. Every Tuesday and Saturday I do my grocery shopping at the fresh food market outside my complex. There is always someone who tries to talk to me. Thinking of these events, I now understand why my Dutch teacher in Hong Kong complained about feeling lonely in Hong Kong. It is because none of these events happens in Hong Kong unless you live on small village/island with less than 200 people or something. And this is why even without any of my friends and families here I haven’t felt lonely here in Rotterdam.

You only feel lonely when you see people around you but no one talks to you.

Saving the best for last – last 2 days in Cambodia


6:28am Last breakfast at this posh hotel. If I’m fortune to visit Angkor again with my husband, we will come and stay here. The last two days were beyond words. I have been visually and emotionally overwhelmed by what I saw and learned. Physically I am exhausted and need a few good sleep to recover. Flying to Phnom Penh shortly after breakfast then evening flight back home.  Continue reading

Jaw-dropping Cambodia – Day 3


6:35am Very early breakfast before my flight to Siem Reap, where my actual trip starts.

8:am Arrived at the airport for my 10am flight. The taxi driver, Soum, was a very friendly young Cambodian guy of 27 years old. We talked all the way to the airport. Soum told me he has a degree in IT  and used to work as IT clerk at DHL. He got married 2 years ago and the young couple have been living in a small flat outside of the city. His wife has been working at a garment factory and even so their salaries were not sufficient for this small family. Having seen the boom of the tourism in Phnom Penh, Soum decided to quit his office job and take a loan from bank to buy the car he was driving me. Unfortunately life has not improved much for him since then. He told me he almost could not pay his last instalment to his bank.

I believed everything he had told me. I could not tell you why. It was my instinct. Perhaps it was his cheerful smile; perhaps it was because how affirmative he was about not working for his corrupted government. He told me he would rather stay poor than being corrupted with other officials. I respect him! Continue reading

The mind-blowing Cambodia – Day 1


Wat Phnom, Phnom Penh

Wat Phnom, Phnom Penh

6:45am In taxi heading to the airport. Feeling excited and nervous. Excited because I will be able to see the enormous temple region and trees growing with the temples with my own eyes. Nervous because I’ve read so many bag snatching incidents happened to tourists. Since I’m going to on my own (though I always travel alone), I need to be super careful. Even have a friend praying for my safety. Better to safe than sorry! Continue reading

Coffee + Milk + Many years =Caring 

Young Girl in a Green Dress, 1921-Henri Matisse

Young Girl in a Green Dress, 1921-Henri Matisse

‘Can you please get her a black coffee with milk?’, behind the chef table, W ordered my coffee from his colleague. This is exactly how I usually order my coffee but I was really surprised W remembers because the last time I ordered a coffee in front of him must be years ago. My husband always laughs at me when he hears me ordering my coffee this way. He thinks I make simple things sound very complicated. Continue reading

Just work on making him happy, he’ll then stay with you and make you happy

Kristina Alisauskaite; Oil 2011 Painting "Don't ask II"

Kristina Alisauskaite; Oil 2011 Painting “Don’t ask II”

A while ago my banker partner shared a rather old but interesting post from a young and pretty girl seeking for a wealthy husband. Her personal descriptions and intention seem genuine to me and perhaps that’s why she received a reply from a high-ranked banker and his reply attracted numerous responses on the internet. What he basically tried to say is that if the pretty girl thinks she can get a rich man by her look then she’s trading her beauty for the rich man’s money and it’s not going to work for people look at ‘appreciation’ in business. Continue reading

Giggling at Dad’s Funeral

Kelly Jayne; Paint, 2011, Mixed Media “Gaze”

Something has been bothering me since the dinner with L, Y, B, & CH few weeks ago. I told them my concern over the dinner table when CH was away to the restroom but as usual B feigned ignorance and Y made as though she didn’t hear. I didn’t push and have been waiting for a better moment to find out the answer one way or anther because I had absolutely no idea what I did so wrong to make CH ignore me at the dinner we had been trying to arrange for over half year. Continue reading

Chinese mother-in-laws

Egon Schiele, Reclining Woman with Red Blouse, 1908

Egon Schiele, Reclining Woman with Red Blouse, 1908

There are many things that put me off when it comes to dating a Chinese guy and having to deal with his possessive and sometimes manipulative mom is definitely one of them. But here I am – dating a Chinese guy.

The English word ‘marry’ is used by both men and women when we talk about our child joining his/her partner for life. Continue reading